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Progress Report 2023 Week 34

It’s been a busy week. If you’ve checked my main page here on, you probably know at least part of why! But you probably haven’t heard about the issues I ran into, especially with Mariam Al Khatib’s plot. That’s because I haven’t told anyone! But I’ll fix that in a moment. Let’s get to the infographic first!

Progress Report 2023 Week 34 By the Numbers

Whatever else happened this week, the word count’s back up over 10,000 for the week!

I was worried about my word count for a few days this week. The A Plot involves Melchizedek Conrad, Matsushita Sachi, and Mariam Al Khatib. I plan a major reveal about Al Khatib’s past, and building up to it is proving troublesome. It’s because the trigger for her colony memories (she’s a colony being) is, well, this thing I don’t want to tell you about until the book comes out.

The problem is, I’m having a hard time marrying that to the thing that happens to Conrad and Matsushita’s reaction to it. Which I don’t want to tell you about until the book comes out. It just wasn’t coming together. I sensed the threads there, but my brain just couldn’t assemble them.

Now, I’ve learned enough about how my brain works to recognize that state for what it was: my brain saying, “I got this — or I will if you shut up and let me work.” I had a trembling confidence I could get through it, so I kept writing one line at a time. The characters continued to speak, so I thought I was on firm ground.

From top to bottom, these are beats from Conrad, Matsushita, and Al Khatib. They’re tough going — but not impossible going.

Then I watched this YouTube video from a writer I’m learning a lot from, Dean Wesley Smith. In that video, he laid out several rules for writer. One of the rules said that a writer needs to dare to suck (I’m paraphrasing). Put another way, a writer is a terrible judge of their own work. Just get the damned words on the page.

That was confirmation for me. I’m going to trust that the characters know what has to happen. It’s going to work. Or maybe it won’t! All I can do is put my best work on the page and hope the readers enjoy it.

My Books Are Too Damned Long!

Maybe they are; maybe they aren’t. But as I’m writing Evolution’s Hand Book 6: Unnatural Crypsis, and as I reflect back on the other books, I think I let my love of immersive worlds get the best of me. That feeling began when I realized that my books are almost the same length as The Fellowship of the Ring, which is a book I tend to think of as large.

I noticed tension between my A Plot and B Plot in Evolution’s Hand Book 4: Blind Exodus. I felt it to a greater extent in Unnatural Crypsis. I almost pulled the B Plot out entirely, until the characters objected and tied them tightly together at the end. But I think that in my next series, each individual book will be sorter. I’m thinking around 2/3 of the size. That’s be more appropriate for a space opera, anyway.

Oh, Yeah — Evolution’s Hand Book 4: Blind Exodus Is Available!

I published Blind Exodus last week! Here’s the cover and links to buy it:

Ebook from Amazon

Ebook from Apple

Ebook from Barnes & Noble

The paperback is in process. Did I go through the whole pre-order/build hype/have a big release cycle? Nah. It just burned my time without any real impact, and I don’t have a big enough mailing list. I think this early in my writing career, my time’s better spent getting the next book out. So, I just flung it out there!

Marketing Update

I must have done something wrong with Reign of Reads, because I got no response from the ad I ran. It might be me. I found the site’s navigation to be unusual. I’ll try again, but this time at least, I was disappointed.

I’m thinking about re-focusing my Facebook ads. They’ve been generating sales, but I’m wondering if right now, my best bet is to build my mailing list. Organic growth is the best growth, of course. But organic growth through book sales needs book sales to generate organic growth. I don’t feel like debating which comes first, the chicken or the egg, so I’m going to shop for some eggs.

I’m using Active Campaign for my newsletter. I’m really not happy with it.Recently, I’ve talked to others who are considering dropping it, too. I don’t want to be bothered by the effort of switching, but I’m not happy with some of the stats I’m seeing. Of course, it could be that I just suck at writing newsletters. It’s kinda hard to tease out the root cause for some of these issues!

Progress against Last Week’s Goals

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

  1. Finish Mariam Al Khatib’s Pinch 1: Done! I also added an additional chapter in response to my struggles to figure out what I was missing.
  2. Finish Magali Suarez’ Pinch 1 part 2: Done!
  3. Finish Melchizedek Conrad’s Pinch 1 part 3: Dropped. Though to be transparent, part 3 actually became his Midpoint. Remember I said I’m struggling to weave everything tightly together? That was a consequence.
  4. Finish Melchizedek Conrad’s Midpoint: Done! (see above)
  5. (Stretch objective): Start Matsushita Sachi’s Midpoint: Done! Actually, I finished her midpoint.
  6. Evaluate the effectiveness of the Reign of Reads ad: Done! See Marketing Update, above.
  7. Prepare to publish Blind Exodus: Done! And done! It’s available!

Goals for the Week in Progress Report 2023 Week 34

This week, I intend to:

  1. Continue weaving Plot A’s Midpoint, which means at least writing Mariam Al Khatib’s Midpoint
  2. Write Magali Suarez’ Midpoint
  3. Write one or two in-between chapters to wrap up the A Plot’s meta-Midpoint
  4. Write Catalina Ojeda’s Midpoint

Since I’m not really sure how much work’ll go into number three, I think I’ll leave it at four this week!

What Do You Think?

If you’re a writer, how do you know how much time to spend on marketing versus writing? Do you have any heuristics or indicators? I’d love to know your thoughts — feel free to leave a comment!

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