Scott Marlowe, fantasy author

Scott Marlowe

Author of the Alchemancer and Assassin Without a Name fantasy series

My Writing Schedule

I recently settled into a new day job. The settling period took about four months as I ramped up on things. During that time, I was writing, but in a haphazard, whenever-I-could-find-time sort of manner. I certainly wasn’t blogging much. About two months ago, that all changed. I started writing more regularly and blogging every day. It helps tremendously that I now work-at-home full-time.

I’ve shown previously that from a statistical perspective writing a novel is pretty easy. The reality, however, is that being creative is a draining experience. There is a limit to how many words a writer can produce per day. Pushing hard for a day or two is fine when a deadline is looming, but it’s not a recipe for long term success. In my opinion, it only leads to burn-out.

What follows is a general look at my daily writing schedule.

Typically I’m up at 5:30, at the computer by 6, and writing by about 6:30. I usually spend that first half hour in front of the computer waking up with my coffee, checking Twitter and reading blogs, and going over various stats (web site stats, for example) from the previous day. I’ll write for about 1-2 hours. Sometimes more but usually by 9 I’m thinking about day job stuff so the writing part of my brain begins to go into shutdown. I’ll sometimes write in the afternoon as part of my lunch break and sometimes at night, especially if I feel I haven’t produced enough that day. Generally, though, nighttime is for writing business such as marketing, following up with an editor or illustrator, writing blog posts such as this one, or spending time with my family.

I've found my creativity goes into the toilet at night. Probably because I'm up so early and after a full day, the energy just isn't there. Basically my brain is done for the day with anything that requires serious thought or creativity. I can handle writing a blog post, but writing a scene for one of my novels? I’ve found I spend far too much time staring at the proverbial blank page. If I’m doing that I’m not being productive, so I tend to spend that time doing other things where I can make progress.

As far as a weekly perspective, I’ll do the above Monday-Friday. Saturday morning is when I write up my weekly writing progress post. Also, I spend some time on blog post planning. Currently, I’ve got posts scheduled out into January and even beyond, so I’m not spending too much time on the planning itself. But I am spending time on producing the posts. I like to have at least a week’s worth of posts written, so I’ll stay with that task until it’s done. The remainder of the morning is spent writing fiction. I’ll go into the afternoon with that depending on the weather (nice weather usually draws me outside) and what other tasks I have waiting for me around the house. On Sundays I don’t publish posts. I’ll work on content as needed, but generally it’s a writing-fiction-only day. I’ll write in the morning for at least a couple of hours then the rest of the day is for other, non-writing things.

Generally, I plan to write every day. It doesn’t always happen. Sometimes the day job requires my immediate attention. Sometimes other things come up. That’s how it goes. But I’ve made a commitment to blog and produce fiction every day and I’m sticking to it.

I'd be curious to hear about other writer's writing habits. Let me know in the comments below.

It's been a while…

Every once in a while I escape from my blogging cave. The result is that this site goes quiet, the posts stop flowing, post view counts diminish if only slightly, and I hope that at least one of the three readers of this blog wonders if I've escaped for good this time. Not so.

As you can see in this ridiculously difficult to read graph, my blogging always seems to drop off in the summer months.

image

You might attribute this to the usual abundance of Texas sunshine and vacation, which normally is a correct assessment. But in this case my blogging has dropped off because a couple of months ago I got myself a new job. Once again proving the adage, "It's who you know", I landed myself a very nice position with a company that is my previous employer's biggest competitor working under someone I previously worked under there. The offer was simply too good to turn down. One of the perks is that I'm 100% work-at-home now. One would think that'd be great for the writing. Alas, new job for me means new dedication to that job. Only when I feel I've settled in do I typically ease the foot off the accelerator. I think I'm reaching that point now.

Unfortunately what this has also meant is that my writing productivity was put on hold. Writing is fun and fulfills a certain need, but it doesn't pay the bills. It's not my career. I honestly can't say I'd want it to be my career—too much volatility, unreliable income, and forces beyond the writer's control come into play.

In any case, I am getting back to writing and blogging and everything else now. This unplanned break may or may not affect the completion of the second novel in The Alchemancer Series. I'm hoping to get things back on track and I'm still shooting for completion of the novel by early next year. Look for additional updates over the coming months.

Where is The Alchemancer series going?

A couple of weeks ago Ritesh Kala of Ritesh Kala's Book Reviews reviewed The Five Elements. Go read it. It's a good review and I thank Ritesh for taking the time to read, let alone review, my book. But (there has to be a 'but', otherwise there'd be no point to this post) he touches on something at the end of his review which I wanted to take a moment to discuss. Here's the part of his review:

But, the ending of the book is just a bit too perfect for me. It seems as if the author has made this book into a series as an after-thought, after this book was already released. The story ends at a place where we can’t see any villain in sight, and the protagonists are now as happy as you can expect them to be. The central conflict of the book also seems to have been resolved. I have no clue what the author will be writing about in the remaining books in the series. There are no plots or story lines which are left unexplored to really keep me interested.

First off, let me say that I believe the reader's perception is always right. If he or she fails to "get" something then I've failed as a writer and not the other way around. So I'm not going to say Ritesh is wrong. When I read the above passage I realized that I did not leave enough hooks in place in order to open the reader to the larger possibilities and to where the characters might go next.

[Side note: This leaves me with an interesting predicament. In the old world of publishing, I'd be stuck. But in the new digital world, I have the option of modifying the content Lucas-style and uploading a new version literally the same day. I'm not suggesting I'm going to do that, but the idea is intriguing.]

The truth of the matter is that TFE was always intended to be the first book in a series but in a direction I didn't give enough hints about. The whole deal with the druids and the elementalists is done. I can see why a reader might have expected that particular storyline to balloon into something larger, though. While I did use the whole "war that started over 500 years ago" thing as the base of the current tale, I didn't want that to become the sole focus. In fact, I didn't want it as a focus at all moving forward. What I'm trying to do with this series is give the reader a view into a certain period of these characters' lives while hopefully avoiding as many tropes as possible along the way. In short, looking at only the druid/elementalist angle is holding to a focus that is too narrow.

This leaves me with the question of where things are headed. Ritesh thought the story was pretty much wrapped up. Here, then, are the threads I intend to pick up in the next novel (WARNING: not entirely spoiler-free):

  • Aaron has just made an awful decision. Something he will not heal from overnight. Expect to see the ramifications of what he did influence the decisions he makes in the next book.
  • Aaron still has to deal with Krosus and his hounds, who want to kill him.
  • Ensel Rhe has avenged his son's death, but he has a daughter and wife and he still has enemies. Expect to see more on this.
  • There are a lot of refugees from Norwynne. Where will they go?
  • The Griffin is still out there with a big hole in her side.
  • The dwarves of Fire Rock are still onboard the Griffin with an unfulfilled purpose. Expect to see more of them.
  • The captain of the Griffin has a lot of Erlek's journals and research. What will he do with such information?
  • Serena, who was not given the same depth as some of the other characters, figures to play a major role in the next book. Why exactly was she out in the middle of nowhere studying under a master sorcerer?
  • Shanna wrecked a lot of devastation in her local region, but what about the rest of the world? Nearby cities were impacted by her actions as well. We'll start to see some of this in the next book.
  • The elementalists were technologists who created the Four Elements. What else might they have engineered? They broke off from the druids, but who's to say they did it as a unified group? Maybe a splinter group didn't agree with the Elements approach and went their own way. (This figures prominently in the next book)
  • Erlek was very interested in the technology of the elementalists. Wouldn't others have similar interests?
  • Erlek had a long time to think and scheme. Who knows what things he might have left behind or deals he may have made in order to further his own ends. The people on the other ends of these deals are still around.

In a perfect world I would have hinted at all of this in the first book and would have been more comprehensive overall. But at some point a book has to be "done". I purposely closed up certain storylines--Shanna, the whole druids/elementalists thing, the Four Elements—so that I could move on to other things. All I can say at this point is enjoy the story for what it is and, as for the next novel, wait and see. The lure will be the book's description and how it ties back into events that unfolded in TFE. Personally, I think it's going to be good.

5 out of 5 stars for The Five Elements

Continuing down the path of narcissism, I give you another stellar review for The Five Elements, this one from a very nice Goodreads member who won a copy of the novel via a Goodreads giveaway I ran not too long ago.

Here's the review:

I loved this book! Read it through in one night! The characters take you along for quite an adventure! The characters are very believable in some unbelievable situations but they display very real and sometimes raw emotions. Very well written. An exciting plot and subplots which weave a fantastic adventure. If you like The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, you will definitely enjoy this book. I personally hope to see more from Scott Marlowe! Well done! – Phoenix Carvelli

I'm stunned she read it through in one night. I'm also stunned—and appreciative—that she seemed to have liked it so much.

Thanks, Phoenix!

5 out of 5 stars for The Five Elements by reader Timmain

5-stars

There's a new review for The Five Elements out on Amazon and Goodreads and it's 5 stars out of 5!

I love getting reviews, even if they aren't always flattering. They're feedback regardless of the number of stars. But it's always nice exhilarating getting a 5 out of 5.

In this one, reader Timmain, who also read and reviewed The Hall of the Wood, said this about her experience:

The Five Elements is an enveloping story that drags you in and doesn't let go. I enjoyed it immensely. The characters come to life and tell their story in a way that shows the authors passion for the subject matter. I myself do not have any background or knowledge of alchemy and yet the story is written such that I had no trouble following along and cheering the heroes on through every step of their journey. Well done Mr. Marlowe.

Thanks, Timmain!

She brings up a good point re the use of alchemy, which I would extend to all of the pseudoscience and steampunk-like devices and machines used in the novel: While I strive for some semblance of believability (in the context of it being fiction, of course), I never at any point let the story get bogged down in technical mumbo-jumbo. My job is to entertain, not teach. It's nice to see I accomplished that.

If you'd like to get your own copy of The Five Elements, you have some options:

  1. If you're a member of Goodreads, you can enter the currently ongoing giveaway and maybe you'll win a print copy.
  2. Buy the print edition on Amazon.
  3. Buy the Kindle edition on Amazon. I'm holding prices at $1.99 until the Goodreads giveaway ends on March 10.