And…it’s done. About 74K words, but there’s some places that need expanding, and the parents of one of the supporting characters showed up and decided to join in, so now I need to add them to the first three quarters or so of the story.
NaNoWriMo? In two weeks? Well, no, I don’t have a clear plan for that, beyond writing whatever I can of Star Master Book 3, the spinoff story Thorn Master, and missing scenes from Star Master Book 2. But it seems a shame to pass up a chance to get some writing done just when I’m getting the hang of it again.
Mauti and her brother Embo have had their memories damaged by an evil psychic. Now Embo is desperately traveling from planet to planet in search of his missing fiancee, and Mauti is trapped in a dead-end job working for a shady politician. The mysterious duelist Roukazor may be Mauti’s only chance of escape, but Embo thinks Roukazor is the one who attacked Mauti’s mind. Can they trust him? They may have no choice if they want to survive….
Vella is a new piece of the Amazon/Kindle family, geared towards serialized fiction. I’ve started a serial called Thorn Master, set in the Star Master universe. It deals with the adventures of Roukazor and Mauti, the parents of Shenti, the mysterious spy from the Star Master series. This takes place about 27-30 years before the events of the first Star Master book. You can read the first couple of episodes for free here. I am currently working simultaneously on Thorn Master and Star Master Book 2, and hope to have the first draft of Star Master Book 2 completed later this summer, with an eye towards publication somewhere between December 2021 and February 2022.
In the Star Master universe, Settled Space is inhabited by humans who were abducted from Ancient Egypt by noncorporeal beings several thousand years ago. The people of Ancient Egypt used barter instead of currency, but they seem to have expressed the value of barter-items in terms of quantities of gold (and later, silver).
Unlike its parent culture, Settled Space has actual currency and coinage, backed by gold. Even so, it’s worth noting that most money in Settled Space moves around digitally through bank accounts, debit cards, etc. Two of the major currency unit, the deben and the qedet, are derived from Ancient Egyptian weights. The smallest unit, the bajat, may be derived from the Egyptian word for bee. Below, you can see the values for the deben, qedet, and bajat expressed in imperial ounces (oz.) of gold. You can also click on this link to see the current price of gold per ounce, which will give you a better idea of what debens, qedets, and bajats would be worth in the currencies of our world.
This year, the writing and publishing went fairly well. With the help of some family members who graciously became my beta readers/proofreaders, I finished, polished, and published a new book in a new (for me) genre, and finished NaNoWriMo2020 in spite of some setbacks. I cut severely back on my marketing costs, which had gotten out of hand in past years, and only got back into active marketing at the very end of the year, coinciding with the new release. So far it’s going better than I had any reason to expect. The modest royalties from my book sales and pages read in Kindle Unlimited to date, would almost cover the costs of my test ads on Bookbub and my low budget ad spend on Bookbub and Amazon. We’ll see how long this moment of almost breaking even lasts.
My hope was to finish and publish my first space opera, start working on the sequel while I was polishing the first one, and maybe write the second half of the sequel for NaNoWriMo2020. I didn’t manage that, and given the extra time that the Covid shutdown bought me, first during administrative leave and then with telework, I feel like I could have done more. But it took me a long time to feel my way through the second half of the first space opera, and a moderately long time to clean up the initial complete draft of the book. I finished that cleanup/polishing process only a few days before NaNoWriMo, and it left my creative energies kind of drained. I’ve found at least three short scenes and two longer sections that need major reworking in the second space opera, before I proceed anything further with it.
Still I wrote 100,000 more or less useable words over the course of the year (second half of first space opera+first half of second space opera), polished and published my longest book to date, created its cover, and constructed a wallet-friendly promotional campaign for its launch.
Plans for next year? Try to have Star Master Book 2 published by the end of 2021; refresh the Ancestors of Jaiya series (proofreading and new covers) somewhere along the way. Write as much as I can of Star Master Book 3, and keep daydreaming and outlining that high fantasy idea that keeps popping up. We’ll see how all that works out.
So, I’ve completed one more NaNoWriMo successfully. I still have a long way to go on the second space opera; I’m only about halfway through, and I already know some of the scenes I’ve already written will need some reworking. I am not entering my totals on the official NaNoWriMo website for the first time in a long time; I’ve not been happy with the direction the official site/organization have taken over the last few years, and I don’t expect that will change.
I’ve made some interesting discoveries, such as the fact that description, exposition and basic banter between established characters are the easiest things for me to dictate, while more “choreographed” elements (action scenes, high-drama conversations, etc) are easier to type. For dictation, my preference is to do seven minutes at a stretch, then clean up punctuation and misheard words for seven minutes or less, and then repeat the dictation/cleanup cycle.
If you’re curious, here’s what my wordcount totals by day looks like:
Got a little bit behind earlier this month and now I have to do 1900 words per day to finish on time. I tend to have fairly predictable “stallout” timeframes:
-The first one tends to be in the first week, usually 3-5 days into November if I push myself too hard in the opening days. I could blame my failing to write during November 4 and 5 on the issues with the US elections, but honestly, if that hadn’t distracted me, something else would have. I was right on schedule for a crash after getting ~7300 words in the first three days.
-Somewhere in between 20000 and 26000 words. This year, I started dragging badly at the 20000 word mark, which I reached on November 12. I think I went through a period of feeling tired/unwell roundabout then. I tend to need more sleep now than when I first started doing NaNoWriMo, about a decade and a half ago.
-I sometimes have another stallout around 30000-35000 words, and one in the 40000-45000 range. I hope I don’t get that this year. I don’t think I can afford another delay like the two I’ve had so far.
Cleaned house. Paid bills. Set up excel spreadsheets. National Novel Writing Month starts tomorrow, and I’m as ready as I’ll ever be. This will be the sequel to the space opera novel I started for NaNoWriMo2019. I would really like to get my 50000 words done during the first half of the month, so I can focus on prepping for Thanksgiving and Christmas. In the meantime, I found yet another variant on my unofficial NaNoWriMo theme song:
I finished polishing the space opera today. Final wordcount: 110685. Now it is in the hands of my volunteer first readers. Right now, I’m hoping for a Christmas/Boxing Day Feast of St. Stephen release, but that depends on what the first readers find, whether I can come up with a cover that I’m happy with, and what kind of mental shape I’m in come December, when I’ve finished with NaNoWriMo2020. In the meantime, victory dance!
There’s a lot of stuff going on in the world, most of which I can’t do anything about. I will vote in my country’s elections when circumstances permit, I will pray for a good outcome from them, and I will try to be extra-nice to the poll-watchers in the family, because they deserve it. Aside from that, all I can do is focus on my day job and the writing….
State of the Space Opera: Somewhere between 66%-70% revised and polished. If I am very fortunate, I will be done with that by the end of October 2020 and hand it over to my volunteer editors/proofreaders for review. If things work out, I will spend December 2020 prepping it for publication.
State of the Space Opera’s Sequel: Completed a rough outline in Excel, ran it through Word, and imported to Scrivener. I hope to start writing it on November 1 for NaNoWriMo2020.
State of the Space Opera Series as a Whole: Right now, I am not sure whether it wants to be 3 books or 4. If the first two don’t sell significantly better than the Jaiya metaseries did, the space opera series will definitely end up as a trilogy.
Further down the pipeline: revision and cover refresh for the Ancestors of Jaiya series, along with a single volume collection. A concept for a high fantasy series: just a character, plus a vague idea of the setting. (This is about the stage of development the space opera was at in 2015-2016.)
Yesterday, I celebrated my country’s freedom from bad cooking, Received Pronunciation, and taxation without representation. Tomorrow, I will celebrate my temporary freedom from first drafting. You see, tonight I finished the first draft of the longest book I have ever written. The space opera I’ve been trying to write for years finally came together.