Memories of Dragons
Drawchilde: Book III
38,000 of 200,000 words
A Stefani Wilder Novel - buy now!
Demigods (working title)
standalone fantasy novel
14,000 of 250,000 words
A novella of Bydaira
34,000 of 32,000 words
The Panther's Girl
Drawchilde: Book II
200,000 of 200,000 words
Iavan and the Deodin
Drawchilde: Book 0
105,000 of 100,000 words
The Lego Hacker
Jillian Diehl, PI, Book I
80,000 of 80,000 words
Heir of Iron
draft complete at 130,000
Well of Trades (working title)
draft complete at 92,000 words
Last year, one of my goals was to write an average of 1,000 words a day. I decided to shoot for that again this year and it really wasn't a problem. My current total as things stand is 388,000 words for the year. That's an average of 1180 a day. And it's still November.
So basically I could not write another word and still succeed. Which means it's been a big year as far as raw output goes. Here's what those words break down to in terms of work and time:
That brings me up to the present. At the beginning of November, I was just a teeny bit shy of my goal for the year. And I really felt like I needed to get moving on my Bydaira novellas again. I wrote two of them a while ago that I never published because I realized they had gotten too big and were infringing on the eventual story I will someday tell with three full length novels set in that world. So those never saw the light of day.
My fantasy focus since then has been on a couple standalone projects and my other epic world, Laeronyll. I've now got complete drafts of three books set in that world. Two of those are legit epic (over 200,000 words). The third is normal novel length.
Anyway, all that output has left me feeling a bit tired. I decided to hop on NaNoWriMo to motivate me to write my Bydaira novella. I did that, and then I realized I would need to either write a second novella or work on something else to hit the 50k goal for the month. Never being one who can set a goal and then discard it but also not feeling totally up for a second novella, I cast about for ideas.
Like most writers, I have notes. I have copious notes on stories I have written or am writing. I also have loads and loads of notes for projects I have not yet even started. A week or so ago, I went back through my notes and found a pretty fully fleshed out world I'd totally forgotten about. It doesn't have a name. It doesn't have more than a very rough outline of a plot. But it's fun, it's totally different from what I've been focusing on this entire year, and, best of a all, it's a clean slate.
So I dove in. I'm shooting for one giant novel to tell this entire massive story. I do not think I'll do it all in one sitting, rather I'll return to it on and off between other projects. It's going to be a bit different. It's a first-person narrative written by someone who is not human. I'm shooting for a feel that's kinda like Remains of the Day meets Sherlock Holmes set in somewhere kinda like ancient Rome but with a bit of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell thrown in.
Will it be any good? I have no idea. Will I even finish it? Hard to say.
But I have realized something the last few years as I have steadily inched my way towards writing for an audience instead of just writing for myself. Having readers is great, but readers come with expectations. I have committed to one Tipped Z novel a year as long as people continue to read and enjoy those, but the fantasy is where my heart truly lies. The epic style stuff I love working on, though, truly takes an epic investment of focus, organization, and effort to produce. I've been more strategic and focused this year than ever before.
Turns out, that's tiring! So I've decided it's almost important to build in projects like this, leaving room for play and experimentation and total freedom. You know, all that glorious stuff that made me fall in love with writing fantasy in the first place.
Next year, Vaquera's Haven will come out in February. (It's actually available for pre-order now.) I'm also really really hoping to get my next Bydaira novella trilogy finished and out.
But I've been on the fence with the Laeronyll work. I keep waffling back and forth on whether to publish it via Brown Wing Press or pursue a deal with a large publishing company. My leaning is inching steadily towards the first option, but a part of me can't help but feel attracted to the thought of a trad deal and the prestige that would go with that.
Still, there are significant downsides to going that route, not the least being how slow the industry moves. If I tried to do it that, it would be a long, long time before readers get their hands on those stories. And that, of course, is assuming someone actually wants to buy the work.
So, I don't know. Part of me just like to do things my own way. So we'll see. It's all still a giant experiment.
Thank you all for reading, though. It's a funny feeling—knowing there are people out there looking forward to my next release. It does a lot to keep me motivated.
It's drawing close to end of another year, and it's been a pretty good one. Unfortunately, despite the fact that I literally build websites for a living, I've been having blog problems. This has resulted in my last several posts never actually making it out into the world. Writing a post only for it to be immediately lost is maddening, and I've not had the wherewithal to rewrite the lost content.
What I have done is build myself a new blog. And this one is hoping to straddle the divide between my pen names. Right now I have work out as both Robin Stephen and Stefani Wilder. Readers want updates. But maintaining one blog is hard enough. Multiples seems impossible.
So, for now, this is where I'm going to post all the updates for both names. And hopefully I'll be able to start showing up with news more often.
I'm getting close to finishing a project that has morphed from a novella set in the same world as Drawchilde (my 200k epic fantasy novel that is complete, but not yet out) into a fairly chunky novel all in its own right. A few years ago, I shifted my focus to shorter works, hoping to build my world and readership faster by getting a selection of slender books out into the world. This has worked and was a good move, as projects on the scale of Drawchilde are the labor of years or even decades rather than months. Towards the end of the year last year I even had plans to go shorter, and publish a series of Kindle stories that would try to emulate the pace and feel of a TV series. This was going to be set in the world of Bydaira, in a place called Serpent's Crook.
And right about the time I made that decision, I started finding it hard to get my words in. Finally I gave up, pivoted in a totally unexpected direction, and wrote a mystery novel. (Since obviously what I need most as an author is a whole new genre to experiment with.) Then I took a brief break for the holidays, and now I'm back in the world of Drawchilde, which is the work and world closest to my heart in many respects. And I'm loving it. In turning Iavan and the Deodin into full-blown novel, I'm finding I have more room to play, space to delve into characters, time to digress into backstory.
The thing about the novellas that makes them a challenge is they have to be tight, tight, tight. Every scene has to move the story with the fewest words possible. You can write them fast. But for me, at least, they require a lot more planning, cutting, and distilling. They are well worth writing. I learn from them and they're fun in their own way. But I have to be in the right frame of mind to take them on.
So at the moment I'm 85,000 words into this story that was supposed to be about 30,000 total. I might still have another 30,000 to go before all is said and done.
After that, though, shorter is going to happen sooner or later. I still have six more Bydaria novellas I need to write.
I'm not totally sure how much I usually write in any given year. Until quite recently, I never kept track of total output. I'm not sure what gave me the idea, but a year ago in November I started filling in a spreadsheet with each day's word count. At some point this year I decided it would be neat to finish the year with a daily average of 1000 words a day. So here's how that ended up looking.
My output is pretty consistent when I'm writing. But you can see the chunks when I'm not focused on new words, but rather on editing or publishing. My biggest day was just a tad shy of 5k.
So, all in all, I'm satisfied with the year. I always feel like I could/should write more. I have so many projects and they never seem to move quickly enough. Still, now that I know how many words I wrote in 2017, I can use that to inform by goals for 2018.
This year, for the first time in over a decade, I participated in NaNoWriMo. It's a large event in the writing community, and the goal is to write 50,000 words in 30 days. My hope was to finish my new standalone fantasy novel, Well of Trades. While I did win NaNoWriMo with a final word count of 57,000 words, I had more work to do. My novel was plenty long enough, but it wasn't done:
I had intended for this novel to be short and sweet and wrap up at about 70,000 words. But that was not to be. I knew from my outline when I finished NaNo that I had 13,000 words or so still to go. My husband's birthday is in the first week of December. He's my first reader, and was excited to have a brand new story to kick off his new year. So I made that my new goal, which was actually far more of push than NaNoWriMo itself. I used this nifty little website called Pacemaker to give myself a motivation chart, and cranked out 3-4k words a day, finishing with a whole day to spare:
So that's done, and it feels good. But since I've been on a crazy writing binge, I figure I might as well keep it up. With my Brinlin series all finished and launched, I'm ready to start the third trilogy in my Bydaira project. I've begun Wyl Maze (working title) a few days ago, and I'm hoping to finish it by the time we kick off our holiday travels on the 18th. We'll see how that goes.
It's been 2.5 weeks since I started my novella writing binge. The experience, I must say, has been interesting. Like so many slightly outrageous goals one might set, it has been hard, but not in the way I expected.
In the beginning, hitting 2,700 words a day was actually pretty easy. My morning writing routine is well established, and writing 1,000 words before 8:00 am is as natural to me as getting dressed in the morning. While that alone wasn't enough, I found it wasn't difficult to add in a second writing period. After work, during happy hour, I'd just sit down and churn out some words.
What I didn't totally anticipate was the cumulative fatigue the extra effort would produce. The first couple weeks were fine, but then the mental strain of booting up and plunging into my story during my only real free time each day started to add up. I've had plenty of times in the past where I write 2,500 words a day on average, but that was all in one sitting, in the morning when my brain is at it's most agile and creative. Right now, my life is configured in such a way that I just can't spend enough time in "the zone" in the morning to produce 2,500 words. So I have to start twice each day. I'm finding it frankly exhausting.
Which means, I've fallen a little behind the last few days. Fortunately, my goal included padding. Brinlin Forest completed a couple thousand words shy of the word count I factored in. (40k is my upper limit, not my goal.) Also I had quite a few days early on where I went over budget. This means the race is not lost. I am, however, in a position where I have no "get out of jail free" cards left.
I've also hit that sticky middle stage of the third novella, where things are not beginning but also not quite ending. It's the hardest phase for me to write, always.
My current goal is to push through this part of the novella tomorrow and Friday, then spend the weekend churning out the end. The end is almost always fast for me. Let's hope that holds true here.
UPDATE -10/40/2016: I did finish this project as planned, even though I failed to blog about it. After much editing and rewriting, this new series, Annals of the Brinlocks, is scheduled to release before the end of 2016.