Saturday, February 2, 2019

Year of an Indie Writer: Week 5

Scott D. Parker

Sometimes life throws a curveball.


Ideally, when we write, we writers would like nothing more than to isolate ourselves in a room and have little of the outside world invade our minds. That never happens. In fact, most of the time, outside things are banging around in my head, even when I’m in the zone. True, when I’m in that writing flow state, very little of the outside world invades my imagination, but it’s not an impenetrable wall.

In the mornings when I write, one rule I adhere to is never to check the news before I’ve got my daily writing accomplished. I’ve done it before, and nothing will kill your creativity—to say nothing of a valuable chunk of writing time—than to “just check the headlines” only to get sucked in. That part is mostly easy.

What isn’t easy is when life intrudes.

I had a physical a little over a week ago. When I left the doctor’s office, her words echoed in my head: “You’re in really good health.” Works for me. She ordered an EKG and, since I’d never had one, it would be the baseline for the future. Even then, the worse was having the nurse rip off the monitors from my chest. Remind me again why waxing is a good idea?

Well, imagine my surprise when the EKG was returned as abnormal. Say what? Well, that put an initial damper on my mood. Natch. But I did a remarkable mental feat: I didn’t worry. Sure, the proposed problem was listed and I looked it up, but then I stopped myself. There’s nothing worse for us non-medical professionals than to go down various rabbit holes on the internet looking up medical info. Let the professionals do it. I did.

I met the cardiologist. We talked. He listened. He shrugged. Sometimes the machines return an “abnormal” when, in fact, everything is fine. Such was my case. If you thought the grin on my face after leaving my regular doctor was big, you should have seen the one after leaving the cardiologist. I even blasted KISS all the way home.

Why do I bring this up? Because while I didn’t necessarily worry about that meeting with the cardiologist, it affected my writing.


I’m not sure where I first learned writers keep track of word count, but I’ve done it for years, dating back to 2013. I enjoy having legacy information to review and compare. Basically, I have a spreadsheet. The various pieces of information I keep are the following: Actual words per day, Actual time per day (in minutes and converted to hours), Average word count per day (and per hour), Total words per month, and a rolling Average per Week. I also have a column with a common number: 1369. That’s the number of words per day a writer would need to reach in order to write 500,000 words per year. It also adds up daily and I compare my actual numbers to what I think of as the 500K Standard.

I only count fiction. Probably should include non-fiction (or at least do a separate spreadsheet), but I don’t. [Now that I think of it, that might be interesting, too.] By the end of January, I’ve only written 16,791 new fiction words. Pitiful by standards I’ve previous set. But, and here’s the key thing for us writers who rarely have a “boss” telling us what to do, that’s okay. Those were words I didn’t have outside of my brain on New Year’s Day. Just nod and resolve to make February more productive.


I mentioned last week about the agility of being an indie writer. As such, my February publication is a pair of short stories featuring Detective Anne Chambers of the Houston Police Department. The title story, “Katrina Standoff,” appeared on David Cranmer’s Beat to a Pulp blog under another title. I paired it with a second story and published it yesterday.
 During the latter half of 2018, as books and stories I’ve written but not published piled up, I debated release schedule. This was before Dean Wesley Smith’s “No One Cares,” blog post. Nevertheless, I came up with the idea of publishing something every month. With two different pen names, the proposed idea was for “S.D. Parker” to get the odd numbered months and my full name fills the even-numbered month slot. So far in 2019, that’s the plan. Thus, “Katrina Standoff” is by Scott Dennis Parker. Click the cover to read the description.

The lightbulb moment came to me while I was uploading the files to Kobo. Thinking ahead to the Calvin Carter series, I knew I needed to prep HELL DRAGON for 1 March...and if I knew that every odd-numbered month was going to be a Carter novel, why not just pre-publish them all? The benefits are many. I wouldn’t have to stop new writing every month to upload new files. The pre-orders would be live for months. When readers read the early books, they’ll be ready to immediately jump to the next book and pre-order. But most importantly: all the URLs would be live. No more opening up an old, published book, inserting the links, and then republishing them. I’ll have to do that for EMPTY COFFINS, but I aim to get the remaining five Carter novels ready for pre-order before 1 March. Why didn’t I think of that before?


Forty years ago, Len Wein scripted a run on the Batman comic. They stand as among my favorites of all-time. So, I thought it would be fun to re-read and review them. This past Thursday, I posted the review of BATMAN 307. Here’s the link.


I have a goal to increase my mailing list by at least 60 new members in 2019. That’s only 12 a month, but it’s a goal I think I can reach. Well, imagine my thrill when I counted up the new members...and the number was 24! Twenty-four new subscribers to my newsletter. As a thank-you gift, I sent them a secret link. At that link, I gave them the entire “Katrina Standoff” story. Again, the agility of being independent enables us writers to get creative in how we interact with each other and our readers.

Want to see the secret link? No problem. All you gotta do is subscribe. You never know what secret thing I’ll be offering in February.

Well, that’s about it for the week.

How did your week go?

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