All posts by Mark

TrackerBox, StoryBox, and Paperback News

Paperback
I put the finishing touches on the Paperback multiplayer update a couple weeks ago, and it’s live on the Google Play store and the Apple App Store. It’s a fun word/card game designed by Tim Fowers, and I suggest you go spend the $4 and play it!

TrackerBox
TrackerBox will be getting its first new features in quite a while, tomorrow (assuming all goes well).

The first one isn’t all that exciting, but you’ll be able to print your data and your charts.

The second feature is one I’m much more excited about. Filter Sets. You’ll be able to save frequently used filter settings, and restore them by selecting them from a list. If you write in series, and you only want to see how that series is doing, you can go into the titles, select the titles from the series, type in the name of the series at the top of the filter panel, and then click the save button. The next time you select the series name from the box at the top, it will restore that set of titles.

Mac TrackerBox
The Kickstarter for the Mac version of TrackerBox will be starting within the next two weeks. I just need to make a video. A lot of things happened over the summer that forced me to delay the start of the Kickstarter (one of which was the need to finish up Paperback).

StoryBox
StoryBox will be getting an update, but I think the next update will be a very large update. It will be at least 2.1, if not 2.5 or 3.0. I haven’t decided yet, but I’ve got a list of seventeen new features I want to add. I don’t know when it will happen, other than it will happen after Mac TrackerBox, assuming that gets funded. If the Kickstarter fails, it’s possible this could get pushed up, but I might have to find a different bit of work to pay the bills. Still, I wanted to let you all know that I haven’t abandoned it. It will get love, too.

What’s Going On?

I haven’t posted much here in a long time. It’s challenging when nothing seems to be happening, when writing isn’t going well, to talk as if things are okay. It’s been a challenging year (yes, another one), and I just find that I don’t want to speak publicly about it. It’s hard to feel, sometimes, like anyone cares. I know people do, I know you’re out there, but knowing doesn’t really alter my perceptions.

But it’s time to climb out of the hole, take a peek outside, and see what the lay of the land looks like, now that spring seems like it might finally arrive (the rain this year has been relentless).

So, here’s what’s going on.

I’ll be running a Kickstarter for the Mac version of TrackerBox in the near near future. If you have been waiting for a Mac version of TrackerBox, this is the only way it’s going to happen. I’ll post more when it goes live.

I have been writing, but I’ve been writing songs. You can hear demos of some of them on SoundCloud. They’re all kind of rough, but you should get the idea of what I’m aiming for. And when I say they’re rough, each of them were written and recorded in a single day. The plan is to write a few more, then do some work on the demos, and record an album.

I’m still working on the multiplayer part of the game Paperback, which you can find on iOS and Android. It’s a great word/card game. That should be done soon (I’m timing the TrackerBox Kickstarter around when I think that will be done).

Do not worry, more books will be coming. I can’t leave Robert and company, Grim, or the other the crew from Minders alone for too much longer.

If you’re still listening, thanks for hanging around in my absence. I’m going to try to be better about posting regularly.

Out Of This World Bundle

Out Of This World Bundle
Grim Repo is in an amazing bundle with a bunch of other books from other authors (most of whom I’ve read and loved), and I really think you should check it out. Sixteen novels and novellas for $10 (or more, if you want).

Obviously, if you’re here, you’ve probably already read Grim Repo, but this bundle is a chance to get a bunch of other really stellar (like the pun there?) books for less than a buck a piece.

Rebecca M. Senese’s Interlude Beyond is part of an amazing series about a programmed assassin who is starting to break out of her programming. Michael Warren Lucas’ stories always make me read them to the end. I’ve read books by more than half of the rest of the authors, but not these particular books, and I’m going to buy the bundle myself, just for the chance to read them.

Go check it out. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

A TrackerBox Update

When I first released TrackerBox, the plan was always to have an introductory price, and then raise the price to something that made more sense based on what TrackerBox is and the market for it. It’s been sitting at $60 since 2012, and since then, I’ve updated it fifty four times. I’ve added features, marketplaces that people have requested, and I haven’t charged one extra cent for that ongoing support.

I’ve had people suggest that a yearly subscription fee might cover the cost of that ongoing support, but I’m not at all interested in charging a subscription fee. I want to offer you a one time fee for something you get to keep and continue to use on your hardware. I want it to be a value for you over time.

But I still need to support the ongoing updates.

I’ve looked around at the other options available, and there isn’t another application available for your desktop that does what TrackerBox does. There are services where you put in all your information, and they give you similar information, but they will cost you at least $60 a year, and if you have any number of books at all, they can cost twice that or more.

With all that in mind, I’ve chosen to raise the price of TrackerBox to $89.99.

It’s $30 less than the first year of the biggest alternative, and you get an application on your computer that is frequently updated, doesn’t require you to store passwords on someone else’s website (or even your own computer), and saves you hours of time each month over playing around with spreadsheets.

I have some more updates planned for TrackerBox in the coming months, and I’m working on a solution to a much asked about port to Mac. I don’t know if it will happen, but I’m working on finding a way to make it happen.

So, if you’ve read this far, and you’re completely angry with me for raising the price right as you were about click that buy button, I’ve got a coupon for you.

Through the end of August, you can get TrackerBox at the old price of $59.99 by entering the coupon code TBAUG2016 at checkout.

Writing Fiction 30 Minutes At A Time

I’m trying something new these days, when it comes to getting my writing in. I used to write at various times of day, and I’d write for nearly an hour before taking a break. It worked, when I wrote. I could write about a thousand words an hour, give or take, that way. But it made things more difficult than they had to be. Carving an hour at a time out of my day, when raising kids at home and trying to do other paying work, was challenging at times.

So what am I doing different?

I’m writing in 30 minute chunks. Some people call them sprints, but 30 minutes doesn’t seem like a sprint, to me, but it seems to be working pretty well. I can stay pretty focused for a half hour, and I can put things off a lot easier when they only have to wait fifteen or twenty minutes instead of forty-five. Also, it’s easier to squeeze thirty minute chunks out of my day when I can’t find the time to do them all in a row.

The real amazing thing?

On average, I’m getting more words done per hour. Not a lot, but I’ve had 700 and 800 word half-hours. Yes, some people write much faster than that, but I don’t outline, which means I stop and think more than most outliners need to. I’m also not exactly the fastest typist in the world either, topping out about 70 words per minute.

I’m pretty pleased with it. It’s made it easy to hit my word count goals each day for the last two weeks without fail, and it means I’m still right on track for finishing this book on the 24th. Imagine that. Hitting a deadline.

Those are something new to me, too. I’ll talk about that next week.

For now, the book is roughly 50,000 words and counting.

The End of a Long Silence

I last wrote many moons ago about what to write next, and I did eventually figure it out. I can’t tell you what the title is right now as it doesn’t have one, but it’s the first of a new series (I know – I’ll talk about that in a bit), and even the series name is just a placeholder. It’s based on a proposal for a sword & sorcery novel I wrote in a workshop back in 2011. Though it started as a single novel, once I began fleshing it out, I discovered that it was really four or five books.

I’m more than half way through this first book, and it has a due date of March 24th, with a publication date of July 31. So far, I’m on target to hit the dates. It’ll be about the length of Minders, perhaps slightly longer.

What I’m doing differently, this time, is I’m going right into writing the second book, followed by the third, then the fourth, and if necessary, the fifth. I want you to have the whole story, as quickly as I can make it happen. I’m excited about the series, and I hope you will be, too.

“But what about the other series?” I hear you ask.

They will get love, too. I haven’t given up on any of them.

I had a rough couple of years in my personal life, and I’ve been through a lot of therapy (a lot, for me – I’m sure others have been through more), and pretty much everything ground to a halt mid-2014. Sure, I published October in 2015, but it was written in May of 2014. The two books I published in 2014, Minders and Parted out were written in 2013. I haven’t been able to really complete anything substantial in nearly two years, and I really couldn’t seem to get excited about any of the projects I had started before 2014.

I wouldn’t say my personal life is completely healed or on track, but we’re getting there slowly. I am getting there, slowly, and I’ve made a deal that should keep the Empire out of here forever. Oh, wait – I made a plan, not a deal, and the plan calls for following up this new series with more Grim, more wizards, more Minders, and more Lords of Genova before I take on anything new. With some luck and some strong effort, those books will come far more quickly than you could possibly imagine.

I do want to say thanks to anyone who has stuck with me during the last couple of years. I’m pretty hopeful you’ll be rewarded by the next couple of years.

P.S. In case you want to see another project that I’m working on just to keep the money flowing, check this game out. Paperback is a game by Tim Fowers that mixes deck building with a word game, and it’s a ton of fun. I’m working on the iOS and Android app versions of this game, and I think they should be out soon (before the book, at least).