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).

Pondering Bloodweave and Its Consequences

It’s in the low ’70s outside right now, sunny, and feels warmer than that. I’m barbecuing hot dogs for lunch, and I’ve spent much of the morning pondering the question, “What next?”.

You’re probably wondering why I’m even asking the question, seeing as how the last post said “more posts”, and this is the first one since then, nearly half a year later.

But I’m asking the question, because it’s time to get back to writing. It’ll probably be a slow start as I feel my way forward, but I fully intend to be back to a normal (for me) pace by the end of the year.

In order to do that, though, I need a book to write. Among my options are a third Grim Repo book, a sequel to Minders, and finishing up BloodweaveBloodweave is the most challenging of the three. The Grim Repo books are fun to write, and they’re shortish. A sequel to Minders would also be a bunch of fun, and still not terribly long (not like an epic fantasy novel). Bloodweave, though, has some issues.

The first issue is that it already has (despite what the counter on the page says – I should have updated it) 62k words written, which would mean I’d have to pick it up in the middle, and that’s always been difficult for me. The second issue is that it’s been a very long time since I wrote most of those 62k words, and I’m not entirely certain I could match them in feel and style. The first of those words was penned on April 12th, 2013 – more than two years ago. The third issue is that I’ve learned quite a bit since I started writing it. I wrote another novel called October in between then and now, and my life has been a mess of things that has changed my perspective in many ways. I’m not the same person that wrote those early words. The fourth issue is that there was a reason I bogged down, and I think it’s because I was trying to force too many things to happen. I wasn’t letting the characters speak for themselves.

For those reasons, I’m thinking about tossing those 62k words into the waste bin, and starting fresh. Same initial starting point, but after that, it will be what it becomes.

If I do that, another change will likely happen. The A Wizard’s Work series will be over and will only ever be a duology. The new book and whatever follows it will be part of a new series, obviously linked to the first, but will stand on its own. Part of the reason is that I already know that the story that started in Bloodweave wouldn’t likely be finished at the end of the book. I don’t intend to leave it as a straight up cliffhanger, but the Bloodweave story, as I envision it, is much longer than I can fit into one book. It will truly be an epic fantasy.

It’s still all up in the air, but I said I would post more, and I would talk more about what’s happening, so there you go. I’m going to give it no more than another two weeks before I make a final decision. I might make the decision tomorrow. But if you have thoughts on it, let me know in the comments.

Oh, yeah, I finished the hot dogs while I was writing this. They were tasty.

The New Year

2014 turned out to be one of the worst years of my life, though it got better (slightly) as the year went along. I barely wrote anything, though I did manage to finish one short novel (October) that will be out in the next month or so. 51,000 words for the year. When I look back, I don’t even know how I got that many done.

But this isn’t about looking backward. This is about looking forward, and I have a lot of goals for the year.

  • Be More Open – Through more than a few coincidences, I was introduced to the work of Brené Brown. It, along with The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer and an introduction to the story and work of Ksenia Anske has convinced me that I’d like to share more of my process and my struggles. I don’t expect I’ll share all the details of my family life, of course, but writing is a lonely business to begin with. There’s no need to make it lonelier by trying to pretend I’m superhuman. So, more blog posts, more tweets, more attempts to connect with the half dozen of you that are paying attention.
  • Write More – The most I ever wrote in a year was 256,000 words in 2012. The second half of that year, I wrote every single day.  I want to repeat that effort, and even blow it out of the water. When I’m writing on a roll, I average about a thousand words an hour. I’ve set a goal to write three hours a day, every day. If I get on a good roll, the math says I’ll write a lot of books. At the very least, I’d like to write one book in each series this year. That means finishing Bloodweave (A Wizard’s Work 3) , and writing the second Lords of Genova book, the third Grim Repo book, and a sequel to Minders. If I just get those books finished, I’ll count it as a good year.
  • Read More – One of the casualties of 2014 was my fiction reading effort. I just couldn’t focus on other people’s stories. I think I read about twenty books this year, which is far off my normal 50-60, and most of those books were non-fiction.
  • Be Kind to Myself – One of the major issues behind my troubles of the past year and a half were outsized expectations of what I can accomplish based on a perfectionist view of the world. It’s taken a lot of work to even begin to overcome the negative thoughts that missing my expectations, or the perceived expectations of others, could generate in my head. Writing is art. It’s not subject to a set of rules that defines what the perfect book is. There is no perfect book for everyone. So there’s no point in beating myself up when sales or reviews don’t live up to some arbitrary standard. I’ll write the best books I can and be grateful for each reader that chooses to spend their time reading my stories.

Ultimately, I want to spend my time writing and enjoying the moment instead of worrying about external and internal expectations, and I want to share those experiences with my readers.


TrackerBox Mac on Indefinite Hold

I have talked for over a year and a half (might be two years, now), about releasing a Mac version of TrackerBox. I’ve even done quite a bit of work on it, and could probably have it complete in a month of concentrated work.

But, as I’ve mentioned here before, I’ve had a lot of personal life difficulties that have pushed it out, further and further, and I think it’s time to be realistic about the chances of me ever finishing the Mac version of TrackerBox. They’re pretty much slim to none.

It’s not that I don’t want to give my favorite writer friends who work on a Mac the opportunity to shave hours off of the time they spent dealing with their numbers. I’d really love to be able to do that. However, I have an eight hour a day side job, kids to manage, books I want and need to write, a wife to keep happy, and the the current versions of TrackerBox and StoryBox to support.

Recently, after our car decided to stop shifting gears, I had to visit the doctor because I had soreness in my left arm, a high heart rate, elevated blood pressure, and unexplained sweating. After an examination and an EKG, he prescribed anti-anxiety medication.

It became clear to me that there was a reason the Mac version of TrackerBox kept slipping. I just don’t have the bandwidth for it.

I’m really sorry I’m not able to follow through on it, but I’ve got to do what’s in the best interests of my health and my family.

With all that said, if there is some intrepid Mac programmer out there who would like to help take the Mac version to completion (I estimate it’s about 30-40% done), contact me and we’ll see if we can work out the details. You would have to know Objective C and C++ fairly well, and I would like to see examples of software that you have taken to completion.