News Progress Post

Progress Report 2023 Week 33

I don’t think the internet gets enough credit for cool things. A perfect example helped me get some writing done this week — and it had to do with an ancient Roman city! I experimented with another e-mail list that caters to genres — how did that go? Are there other options I can pursue? And isn’t it about time to publish Evolution’s Hand Book 4: Blind Exodus? Let’s take a look at the infographic first.

Progress Report 2023 Week 33 By the Numbers

If you think the word count is low, you’re right! I have a good explanation, I swear!

Work was heavy last week; home life was heavier. But that’s pretty much the way of things, isn’t it? I’m pretty sure I’m no different than anyone else in that regard. We have to take care of our famly, and we need money to do it. Until I become a best-selling writer.

I’m consciously refusing to make a smart-assed comment about that. So, I’m just going to articulate the hope and move on.

I’m glad I’ve dedicated myself to my new philosophy, which is: there is no writer’s block; there’s only subconscious messaging designed to improve the story. Because it sure felt like what I used to experience and call writer’s block!

I Refuse to Acknowledge the Existence of Writer’s Block

I tried to write the next couple of chapter in both the A Plot and B Plot, but my brain refused to engage. So I did the laundry and interrogated myself. Trivial physical labor helps. Turns out I hadn’t clearly envisioned what Noam Katz needed to do in the B Plot. I knew what he had to accomplish, but I didn’t know how Noam Katz, as opposed to Any Generic Character, would do it. Once I let the character tell me his ideas (a pretentious way of saying I turned my imagination loose on the problem), the words for his chapter flowed.

I ran into a similar problem with two POVs for the A Plot. That turned out to be simply a confidence issue. The characters knew what they needed to do. They were waiting for their writer to grow a pair and let them do it (that’s a self-deprecating way of saying I should freaking trust myself). Thank heavens I watched Dean Wesley Smith’s YouTube video Writing into the Dark. I recognized the critical part of my brain trying to shut down the creative side. The critical part is apparently what I used to say was the voice of my demons. How did my creative side respond?

The Ostia website called this “Decumanus seen from the Porta Romana.”

It didn’t. It just went kept throwing more ideas than I’ll ever be able to write about. In terms of this discussion, it happily produced a fight between two feline people (Conrad instantiated in that perpendicular universe looking like Schrödinger from Hellsing Ultimate). The fight turned out pretty well, too.

The second problem I ran into on the A Plot was with Mariam Al Khatib’s POV. Arriving in a city that looked and felt a lot like our Roman Empire freaked her out — for reasons. The city’s called Eyeumcainuh, and it’s the capital of the Eyeon-sin Cawfith empire. I had to have her walking around and interacting with that city. Trouble is, I’ve never visited ancient Rome.

Fortunately, the internet has some cool resources! I found this one about the ancient Roman city named Ostia. In particular, it had a series of computer reconstructions that helped me visualize the city. I used the image above (of “Decumanus seen from the Porta Romana”) to visualize the apartments Mariam Al Khatib’s character lived in while visiting the capital. Having to build out the sets for Eyeumcainuh burned most of my Sunday writing block. But I think I’m back on track, at least for a bit.

Marketing Odyssey Update

Last week, I tried Robin Reads for the first time. They make it easy to sign up — it took very little time, and it was pretty economical, too! The ad generated a respectable number of sales. So far, Book Barbarian drove the most sales, with Robin Reads and BookBub coming in second. My Facebook ad still drives sales, too, but it’s a longer-term thing.

I tried a Fiverr engagement from Melanie to build brand awareness. It’s hard to tie her work to a specific number of sales, but I was happy with how my work looked when placed alongside its peers on her science fiction/fantasy page. I’m still learning how to leverage that kind of engagement, but it was economical and might have helped build awareness. It helped that she delivered exactly what she promised. On time, too!

Finally, based on a recommendation from The Writing Wives, I’m going to run an ad with Reign of Reads this week. I’m looking forward to seeing how it compares to the performance I saw with the other services.

Where’s Blind Exodus?

My new proof reader found a ton of stuff in Blind Exodus. I’m thinking about hiring her to go through the first three manuscripts. I would have done it before now, but did you know it’s a good idea to replace all four tires on a Bronco Sport at the same time if one blows early? I knew — I just hoped it wouldn’t come to that. Replacing one tire with a massive puncture and damaged sidewalls after only 20,000 miles and not replacing the other three really screws with the Bronco Sport’s AWD. Tires are freaking expensive — about 2 proofreads worth!

Just getting the sets built to write this chapter took a couple of hours. And that was with plenty of help from the Ostia website!

It’s always something…

But back to Blind Exodus: I just need to:

  1. Use Kindle Create to format the e-book. Amazon did a fantastic job with Kindle Create — it’s a breeze to use. This takes about an hour.
  2. Pour the Word document version into Amazon’s paperback formatter. Amazon did fine with this. It’s Word that’s the problem. It… I just don’t want to talk about it. It’ll either take an hour, or six. It’s hard to tell.
  3. Upload the Word doc into Draft2Digital’s formatter for distribution to everyone except Amazon. Draft2Digital did a great job, too. Their tools are easy to use. This should take about an hour.

So, if I can get around ten hours free, I can publish Blind Exodus! Not sure it’ll happen this week, though. Maybe next.

Progress against Last Week’s Goals

Here’s how I did against last week’s goals:

  1. Finish Magali Suarez’ Pinch 1: Done!
  2. Finish Noam Katz’ Pinch 1: Done!
  3. Finish Melchizedek Conrad’s Pinch 1 (part 2): Done! It also spawned a part 3, which I’ll tackle next week.
  4. Finish Mariam Al Khatib’s Pinch 1: Started; not completed
  5. Revise the Facebook ad’s demographics: Done!
  6. Revise the blurbs for Evolution’s Hand, Dying Breath, and Primary Target: Started! I finished revising the blurbs for the first two books. I ran out of marketing energy to write the third.
  7. Evaluate the impact of the Robin Reads ad later in the week: Done!

I didn’t feel at all productive. But based on this, I guess I got a lot done. That’s another benefit to writing this post. It reminds me of what I accomplished.

Goals for the Week in Progress Report 2023 Week 33

Here’re my plans for this week:

  1. Finish Mariam Al Khatib’s Pinch 1
  2. Finish Magali Suarez’ Pinch 1 part 2
  3. Finish Melchizedek Conrad’s Pinch 1 part 3
  4. Finish Melchizedek Conrad’s Midpoint
  5. (Stretch objective): Start Matsushita Sachi’s Midpoint
  6. Evaluate the effectiveness of the Reign of Reads ad
  7. Prepare to publish Blind Exodus

What Do You Think?

Do you see writer’s block as a real impediment to writing? Do you see it as an indicator that you need to make a course correction? I’d love to hear your perspective on writer’s block! Feel free to leave a comment!