DAY 8 - BACK ON THE HORSE

GOAL FOR THE DAY: 

Get back on the horse and finish plotting.

GOAL STATUS:

I've got more plotting done but still have another day of plotting left before I'll be happy to start writing.

Just a short one today.

We all stumble, we all fall, and sometimes we all just need to take a break. Taking a break is healthy... as is falling as I outlined in this post.

But when you get back on your feet and dust yourself down it's time to get back on the horse.

I spent day 10 finishing the synopsis and filling in the chapter headings for LS00. I've gotten behind due to our short break away at the weekend but I'm still aiming to have LS00 written by day 14. I've got another day of plotting and then I can start writing on day 10.

Why all the time on plotting? As I mentioned before I'm a plotter and without a plot my writing losses direction and I lose motivation. As the old saying goe: "If one does not know to which port he is sailing, no wind is favourable." I need to know my port dammit! So I plot my pants off (pun intended) and then write. I'll probably leave the blog for a few days so I can start reporting on my word count.

If you're struggling to get back to writing... or to do something you really should be doing... get up, dust yourself down, and get back on that horse :) 

Day 4 - 7 - The Creative Well

GOAL FOR THE DAYS: 

Refill the well!

GOAL STATUS:

Completed!

I got a little behind on the daily blog posts so I'm going to fill in a number of days collectively on this post. 

I'm going to cover two things in the brief article:

  1. Filling the Creative well
  2. Taking a break from writing

Creativity is a Beast

The more I engage in creative activities, the more I realize that creativity is like a living animal. And living animals need fed and maintained. 

My brother and I watched Guardians of the Galaxy 1 and 2 at the cinema. After a crazy few months of juggling family, work, and writing, it was REALLY nice to relax. I also served to top up my creative well.

If I spend a few days doing nothing but writing, I often find I eventually run out of creative juice. Even though I have a strong plot and know exactly what direction the story is going, I just can't get any new words out. This is when I know the creative well is running low. If I push forward without addressing this, I tend to burn out.

Stopping and filling the well is something I'm constantly working on. The things the usually help me get my creative flow back--playing with my girls, video games, movies, a good book, a walk, travel, rest--often have a measure of guilt attached to them. While engaging in these activities, I at times have a niggling feeling in the back of my head that I'm wasting valuable time which could be dedicated to writing. But, the opposite is true. Doing these things is, in fact, an investment in my writing and I find that my writing flows so much smoother after a refill.

Sometimes refilling the well means taking a prolonged time away from writing, which brings me to my next point.

Getting Away From it All

My brother and I watched GOTG 2 on launch night so started at 12am and it was 3am by the time I got home. Needless to say I wasn't good for much outside of normal work the following day. But I still managed to do some plotting. 

The following day though, the family and I went to stay with my sister in Dublin for the May bank holiday. We spent one day at the zoo, which was fantastic. We spend another day touring around the city. And the next day we took the kids for a walk in Phoenix Park before heading home. Over the entire weekend I thought a lot about my work in progress, but I did not write. Even though this frustrated me, I knew it was a necessity. I did reply to a few emails from my editor but other than that I did nothing writing related.

And guess what? When I got home and got back to writing, everything started to flow again.

Day 3 - Manage Expectations

GOAL FOR THE DAY: 

Think more about plotting, world building, and character development. Make a final decision what book LS00 will be about.

GOAL STATUS:

Completed!

Notes:

I didn't get much time to write today. Things at the day job (I work in IT) are hectic at the minute with pressing project deadlines and my wife has been really ill so I've been focusing in her and the kids a lot.

I think the best part about Chris's videos (and why you should really watch them if you ever try this), is that he showed how far he fell behind at certain points in his project. At times he wouldn't hit his word count and and one point he was over 10k words behind schedule. At times he was working on other writing tasks like plotting. At other times, life just took over. That's okay. It happens. And there will always be time to push a little harder a little further down the line. And before you know it, you've caught up.

Another thing that struck me was how much his word count success relied on his plotting. If his plotting wasn't as robust as it could have been his word count would start to drop off. When he built the plot up some more his word count shot through the roof again.

Many people are discovery writers, but I'm not one of them. Like Chris, I rely a lot on plotting my story, so this is something I will need to be mindful of.

I read Chris's reader magnet novella Planet Strider to get a rough idea of what my 

I'm glad I did this as it challenged certain thoughts/misconceptions I had.

  1. The novella has to be long: Planet Strider is around 10k words. Technical this makes it a novellette. But there you go. In my mind I needed to write a 40k book. I need to work on the MVP mentality.
  2. The novella has to be complicated: Planet strider focuses on the events surrounding one character. It gives us some backstory, the character's conflict, tension and culminates in a battle that nicely leads into book 01. It is fairly bare bones but no less entertaining for it. In my head I was going to write about two different character and it was going to be a long drawn-out story. Lesson learned

These lessons caused me to completely rethink my ideas for the novella. I had intended on writing about Frank, one of the primary characters in book one. But the more I thought about it the harder it would be to make that backstory lead into book 01. It would require a complete novel to do it justice.

I came up with a completely new idea and would focus on Lady Fia, who isn't so much a main character in book 01 but features more in later books. I got really excited about this idea and jotted down some notes and I really look forward to start plotting it on Day 5. I won't be able to give it the time it deserves on Day 4.

It just goes to show, even though we want to exceed our expectations it's important to manage them first.

Cheers,

Killian

Day 2 - Master Plan

GOAL FOR THE DAY: 

Watch Chris Fox's videos 12 weeks video series, make a plan, and fill in the 12 week scedule.

GOAL STATUS:

Completed, yay!

Notes:

Initially I jumped in with the mentality; wirte, write, write! But this couldn't have been more wrong, or counter productive. I mean, I didn't even have a plan. So, I decided to spend a fee days planning. A trilogy in 12 weeks is no mean feat, and if I'm going to do it right I better get a plan laid out first.

I decided the best approach to planning would be first getting a handle of Chris's process. Why labour over building my own process from scratch when Chris has already done most of the leg work? So I opted to binge watch his 9 videos (each one corresponding to another weeks in the 12 weeks challenge).

And boy! Am I glad I decided to do this. It took so much guess work out of it for me. I took a few pages of notes on tips that will come in REALLY useful when it comes to all aspects of the process; writing, managing time, business, marketing, etc.

That's not to say I'm going to follow Chris's process to a T. Everyone is different and Chris and I lead very different lives with different pressures and demands on our time and attention.

With that said, the videos were, by far, the best place to start!

If you plan on giving this a go, I wholeheartedly recommend that you watch them first.

It gave me the kick in the ass I needed to get planning and scheduling sorted out early on. I know this will be key to keeping organised and hitting those tight deadlines.

I scheduled the entire 12 weeks in Google Calendar from April 24th to July 16th.

The first week is all about planning and plotting. Week two will be for plotting, writing, and submitting LS00 to the line editor.

Cheers,

Killian

Day 1 - Where to Begin?

Goal for the day:

Write 4,000 words of SL00 (Fury Rising novella)

Goal status:

Did I reach my goal? No. But I did a lot more than write a few word so I consider this day a success.

Notes:

I only managed to crank out about 2000 words but I spent most of my creative energy on world building and plotting. I also prepared my scrivener file structure, which took some time as I don't yet have a template I'm happy with.

Since book SL01 (Star & Fury book one of the Lost Starchives) is already with the editor, I have a bit of a head start. This helps in two major ways:

  1. I'm up 63,000 words out of the gate
  2. I've already got the bones of my universe and plot created

That being said, it is still in its infancy. When it comes back I know there will be a lot of work to do and plenty of plot holes to fill in. I guess there are upsides and downsides to starting this on the back of other work.

The plan is to spend the next day wrapping up the plotting for the novella and getting started on a timeline and world map to help me keep track of things.

Word Count Progress

SL00: 2,000

SL01: 63,000

SL02: 0

SL03: 0

Total: 65,000

I also relaxed a little last night with some digital painting. The plan is to eventually create my own art and book covers. That's a long way off but I'm having fun. I got a bit carried away and stayed up late, though. Woops! It's just for practice but I'm pretty happy with what I knocked out with a few hours of learning.

Chris Fox - Trilogy in 12 Weeks Challenge

I’ve been half-heartedly keeping tabs on Chris Fox’s videos as he documents his ‘trilogy in twelve weeks’ challenge. The guy’s a machine… What more can I say?

When he announced the project, it struck me as an ambitious undertaking to say the least. But the more I thought about it and the more I saw his videos/posts in my feed, the more it dawned that this is an attainable goal for me. Hell, I just finished a 63K novel in 9 weeks despite some serious curve balls thrown by life.

I realized that if I knuckled down I could do it. However, I decided it would have to wait. There’s so much going on in the lead up to the launch of the Last Starchives series this Summer, after all. For anyone who isn’t aware, I plan to have four books (a novella and three novels) out by the end of August. With that in mind, I filed the ‘12 weeks’ idea away on a shelf in the back of my head with intentions of pulling it down again in September.

Then along came Lon Varnadore. He posted about Chris’s challenge on one of the Facebook groups I follow. Quite a few people (including Chris Fox himself) reached out to Lon encouraging him to give it a shot. After reading his post before bed last night, I thought to myself ‘hell I’m going to give this a shot too!’ Plus, it makes so much sense since it fits in with what I’m already trying to accomplish.

Last night I set my alarm for 0500 and here I am in the office at 0545 so I could get a head-start on the day and make more time for writing. This is important as I have a full-time job in IT and two young children at home. People say they can't write books because they have jobs and families to take care of. Well, I say why not?

To help me get into the frame of mind I quickly rearranged my work desk.

The idea is to complete a trilogy (plus a novella) over three months. I have already finished the first novel in the Lost Starchive series so I’m at a bit of an advantage. However, the first book is still with the editor and will still need some serious work when it comes back in the next two weeks so that can’t be discounted.

Here is how the series will look:

LS00 - Fury Rising - Novella - Lost Starchives Prequel

LS01 -  Star & Fury - Novel - Lost Starchives Book 1

LS02 - TBC - Novel - Lost Starchives Book 2

LS03 - TBC - Novel - Lost Starchives Book 3

By the end of the 12 weeks (July 16th give or take a few days) I should have all the above either launched or on pre-order.

I will post an update at the end of each day to tally up my progress.

Mainly, this is for my own point of reference and motivation. But who know? It might even help other writers who plan on trying the same. I will also put up podcasts or videos (haven’t decided which yet) each weekend, so keep an eye out for those.

Onward and upward!

Cheers,

Killian

Falling vs Failing

First, let me say, I can't overstate how strongly I feel about this subject. It's just another one of those things they don't teach you in school. You know, one of those important things to help you deal with life -- to help you become successful. Nope, algebra, the theory of general relativity and every important date before, during, and after WWII are more important. My gripes with today's "education" system aside, what I am about to write is important for anyone who wants to make a success of themselves, whether it be as an author, a parent or anything.

Recently, a writer on one of the closed Facebook groups I follow mentioned how they couldn't get their rights back from a publisher who was not doing their work justice. It went a little something like this:

Author's Post

"To let everyone know, I failed. Epically.

I mentioned a couple months ago that [a certain publishing company] was refusing to give my rights back to the books they don't care about or market, but had dropped to $.99, and the only thing I could think to do was stop promotion on ALL of my books.

I lasted 6 weeks. Now they've got the first [book series] book set to free, so I give up. It almost physically hurts not to market these books, when I love them so much. So instead of trying to out-stubborn [a certain publishing company], I'm going to just concentrate on new worlds and new characters, and figure out what to do with [book series] another day.

Now...where's the best place to market a free book that doesn't cost an arm and a leg? I'm about to do something stupid and spend this month's marketing budget on premade covers for a series I haven't written yet.

(Totally not a pity party post, I love these books and it just feels wrong not to market them at all.)"

My Reply

"You didn't fail. You fell. Falling is a natural step on the road to success. If you don't fall there's a problem. Most importantly, you've picked yourself up and dusted yourself down. Those are the next steps. What you've done doesn't sound like giving up to me. Fair play. Now, time to kick ass. Check out the SPF podcast about twitter for info on one way to market your book on a budget."

Moral of the Story

Life is a long series of falls. You can have all the money in the world or you can have none. No matter who, or what you are, one thing in life is certain: You will fall.

Falling isn't a bad thing. It isn't even important. But, what you do after you fall IS. There are two options. 

1) Do nothing. This is failing. 

2) Get up and try again. This is living.

We have been conditioned to believe that falling is a bad thing; that falling is the same as failing. Hell, the two are almost spelled identically.

Falling is necessary. Without it we do not grow in strength, in intelligence, and in character. Without falling we do not learn to adapt.

You can fall any damn way you want, a fall is a fall. Falling forward is great, but if you fall back, so what! Get up and carry on, and remember each fall is an investment in you, your future and your success.

Cheers,

Killian

Avoid Scams - Trust Your Sixth Sense

I don't know if it's just me, but there appears to have been a sharp upturn in a certain variety of "business" people using free webinars as hooks to promote expensive courses that will help you "become a millionaire!"

The hook isn't always that "you can be a millionaire" per say, but whether it be to make you successful, drive HUGE traffic to your site - or whatever - the premise is always the same; to make you rich. In the past, the most questionable "opportunities" were fairly easy to spot.

These haven't gone away. How many phishing emails have you received from scammers in the guise of a well-known company, even recently? How many ads do you still see where someone wants to help you get rich quick or get rich working from home. That rich foreign woman looking for a husband, that vanity press promising to sell a million copies of your book and that Nigerian prince offering you a cut of his fortune in exchange for your bank details, all have one thing in common. They are clear cut, obvious scams. Most of us have simply gotten really good at filtering them out - at least I hope most of us have. There can't be that many gullible people in the world, can there?

This brings us to the next stage. A number of components, including developments in technology, social networking and a shift in the population's social paradigm, have allowed "others" to come in on a whole other level. Most of the "opportunities" I've seen in the past six months have been presented by successful, well presented and seemingly knowledgeable young people. Some even offer value or hook you with information that is in fact useful. Once hooked, however, the next step is parting with your hard earned cash in exchange for something that is below par, or something you can get for free online with a bit of effort. Instead of "get rich quick" they say, "if you are looking to get rich quick, this is not for you because what I'm about to show you requires effort." The nature of both approaches is the same. They may look different, but both are designed to prompt the same psychological response and appeal to your desire for success, for a better life, for freedom. They don't promise the path will be fast, or even easy, but they still give the illusion that it will be easier than it is in reality. In other words, you can throw silver glitter on a turd, or you can throw gold glitter on a turd, but at the end of the day it's still a turd.

I don't need to name the proponents of these schemes. You've seen them on Facebook, YouTube, and various networks. You know who they are. I'm not saying that these people don't have anything of value to offer. But you need to ask yourself, "do I really need to spend all that money to get it?"

So, let's address the elephant in the room. Are these "opportunities" scams? Well, that depends on how you define the word scam. The Cambridge Dictionary defines a scam as, "an illegal plan for making money, especially one that involves tricking people."

The internet has created its own subset of complications in litigation when it comes to the real world vs the world wide web. Just think of all the tax scandals surrounding large online corporations. The same complications create confusion when it comes to what is, and is not, lawful. If we wanted to discuss the merits of an "illegal plan" here we'd end up writing a book, or a volume of books. But when all is said and done, just because something is lawful it doesn't mean it isn't awful. Just because something is legal, it doesn't mean it is moral or trustworthy. The internet casts an extra layer of gray over the world and everything in it.

Your definition of scam may be, "something that takes advantage of people and tricks them out of money."

Though, it is true many obvious scams fall under that umbrella, by the same logic the following would also be considered scams: get fit quick programs, bottled water, house mortgages, car insurance, paying for anything through installments, etc. In fact, it could be argued that many legitimate products and services are in fact scams, as many of these "trick" people out of their money. That's why online marketing is the huge machine that it is today. Advertising walks a hair-thin line through dark places where persuasion, coercion, and trickery converge.

Regardless of how you interpret the word scam, it is just that; an interpretation. But, none of this really matters. What DOES matter is that you recognize that you already have something to help you decide between opportunities and "opportunities". I call it your sixth sense. Some prefer to call it your BS sense. It's that tiny voice in the back of your head that yells, "it's too good to be true, don't do it!" Please, for the love of all that is good in the world, listen to that little voice. He/She knows what he/she is talking about. If something seems too good to be true, 99% of the time, it truly is. This really sucks when it comes to that 1%, which is easily overlooked as a result.

When I noticed this surge of new "opportunities" it made me wonder; if these successful people are so successful then why the hell do they want my money? I figured if they are as successful as they claim to be then my subscription is naught but peanuts. I found the answer in one of MJ DeMarco's books. These people make big bucks $$$ ka-ching. They obviously do well for themselves, so kudos to them. But, they also have a terrible relationship with money and live beyond their means. If you make 2 million dollars a year and you squander 3 million dollars on a lavish lifestyle, are you rich? Hell no, you have a million dollar deficit. In other words, you are poorer than most poor people. That makes you a serious financial liability. Even though that is an extreme example, it serves as a point. These proponents of the golden "opportunity" need more money, and who best to squeeze than the swathes of drooling sheeple sitting in front of their devices, glazy-eyed, with their hands extended and their wallets/purses wide open.

I'll admit, I watch these webinars from time to time, but I do so with no intention of buying into them. I find that some of these webinars contain little gems. Of course they do. Those gems are bait for their hooks. But, these webinars alone should set off alarms, especially the "live" webinars. Anyone with two brain cells to rub together can tell you when a webinar is not live, even one that is designed to appear live. I've got news for you. When someone says something is one thing but it turns out to be the opposite, that is called a LIE. So, when that same person sells you his amazing "opportunity" and makes all sorts of promises, why on earth would you believe he is telling the TRUTH? The mind boggles.

Sometimes the proponent comes from a credible background, but then they blow it by pushing one of these so-called opportunities. This is a real shame since a good standing is worth more than all the money in the world.

Do you want to know what makes the whole vulture-like "opportunity" culture particularly annoying? There are people out there offering AMAZING courses that are full of EXTREMELY valuable content and are worth so much more than their price. Mark Dawson's SPF 101 and Advertising For Authors courses are perfect examples. Unfortunately, as is always the case with human beings, all the good stuff gets buried under "one big pile of shit." Think Jeff Goldblum in that dinosaur movie. Maybe it's a blessing in disguise for those who are willing to dig deepest, but that's another subject for another day.

If you only take one thing away from this post, take this: When your BS sense is tingling, always – and I mean ALWAYS – run for the hills. Don't be a sheeple.

Sometimes our BS sense needs calibrating. These people are called "opportunity" or scam artists for a reason. They are always coming up with new and creative ways to hook you. How do you stay ahead of them? Keep educating yourself. Keep doing your research. Check out websites like avertscams.com. Check google. There are plenty of sites that offer great advice on spotting scams and "opportunities" alike. Learn from other people's experiences so you don't have to learn from your own. Learning through mistakes is the hard way. Why chose the hard way when you don't have to? If, for whatever reason, you do choose the hard way, make sure you only chose it once.

Or, you could let me teach you how to REALLY tell the difference between legitimate opportunities and scams disguised as opportunities.

I have 20 years of experience doing just that and have the success to show for it too. I live an incredible life, have an amazing family and own a business that is currently skyrocketing. Happiness comes from learning how to chose between what will make you happy and what will take your happiness away. Let me teach you my 5 secrets to happiness. But first... I'll need your credit card details.

Take care out there,

Killian

P.S. Bellow is an example of the difference between real success and what various opportunists promise.

The Majority of People Want the Steps to Success to Be
Success.

Get Rich Quick (Obvious Scam) Steps to Success
Buy my product.
Success.

"Opportunities" (Well Disguised Scams?) Steps to Success
Buy my product.
Learn.
Adjust.
Success.

The Exact Steps For Entrepreneurial Success!
Read books and find mentors.
Act.
Fail.
Learn.
Adjust.
Act.
Fail.
Learn.
Adjust.
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Fail.
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Adjust.
Act.
Fail.
Learn.
Adjust.
Act.
Fail.
Learn.
Adjust.
Act.
Fail.
Learn.
Adjust.
Act.
Fail.
Learn.
Adjust.
Act.
Fail.
Learn.
Adjust.
Act.
Success!