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.

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.

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

The Five Elements 200x300Terra had some very nice things to say about The Five Elements on Amazon.com:

As an epic fantasy adventure, Scott blends magical realism, elemental powers, alchemy and mechanics into a fascinating story.

And,

What I didn't expect is to be sucked into the book to where I was forced to shirk all work, parental, and clean-up responsibilities just so I could find out what happened next in this world Scott Marlowe created!

It's gratifying to have anyone read my work. But to get an excellent review in the process? It's the ultimate form of validation.

Thanks, Terra!

3 out of 5 stars for The Five Elements

I was tempted to title this post "How to Deal with a Bad Review". Yes, I got a "bad" review. But the truth is that it's not a horrible review, just a bad one ('horrible' being 1 star or thereabouts). Once I'd taken the time to fully digest the reviewer's comments, I wasn't even that upset with it. The reviewer made some valid points, cited specific errors, and, all in all, provided a pretty level-headed assessment of his opinion. I really have no fault with any of it.

Here's what he had to say:

image

I'll admit: my first reaction was a mixture of disappointment and something to the effect, "Oh yeah, what do you know?" It's easy to become reactionary in these cases. I didn't act on my initial impulses, though. I'm professional enough to know the first thing one should do in a situation like this is nothing. Once I'd had some time to settle down, I re-read the comments. From there, it was an exercise in acceptance of the commenter's opinions and verification of the specific errors he pointed out. As to the former… everyone is entitled to their opinion and that's all there is to it. For the latter, he was right. There were some bonehead errors in there. I didn't proofread The Five Elements thoroughly enough myself. Neither did I have it professionally reviewed. That's something I may look into in the near future, especially as I get closer to releasing book 2 in the series. In the meantime, I corrected the errors and re-released all digital copies (across Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, and this site).

I never expected to get all 5 star reviews. In fact, I fully expect to get some 1 star reviews. For now, though, I've got 1 5 star review, 1 4 star, and the one above. I think I'm doing ok still, and, thanks to Mr. Pemberton, the next reader that comes along won't have to deal with my mistakes (at least not those particular ones).

You can order The Five Elements from Amazon.com in Kindle or print format, or Barnes & Noble in Nook format.

Tweaking the blurb

One of the great things about electronic publishing is the ability to iterate changes quickly and at minimal cost (no cost, really) to one's currently selling eBooks. Log into your seller's account, make your changes, hit 'submit', and wait a day or two for the changes to go live. It's really as simple as that.

I decided to apply this principle to my novel, The Five Elements. Sales have been ho-hum at best. But of the feedback I've gotten from Amazon comments and elsewhere, the overall vibe is a good one. There's only so much I can do to convince people to buy the eBook (or print edition). I think the story is good and the writing quality is on par with any other novel out there. A couple of things I continue to consider is (1) hiring a professional artist to do the cover art and (2) looking at KindleNation or a similar site to advertise. Before I try either of those things, though, I want to try something that's all on me and doesn't cost anything: tweaking the blurb.

When I say 'blurb' I'm merely referring to the description of the novel typically found on the back cover or in the 'Description' for online retailers. You can read the original blurb for The Five Elements here. That one was more focused on the friendship between the two main characters, which is integral to the story, but also doesn't convey the larger storyline that will take this novel into books 2, 3, and beyond.

So, here is the new blurb. I'm updating the various online retailers now, so it should be live tomorrow or the next day.

A factious group of learned men calling themselves Elementalists once endeavored to blend scientific machinery and elemental magic. Their ultimate goal, lost to time now, never came to fruition as those they'd separated themselves from judged their actions as blasphemy of the worst kind. The Elementalists were offered no mercy; they were hunted down and killed to the last. Of their inventions, all were thought destroyed...

Until, some five hundred years later, one is used to launch a devastating elemental attack on the city of Norwynne. Aaron, scholar, alchemist, and sorcerer's apprentice, survives, only to bear witness to the resulting fallout and to his dearest friend, Shanna, as she is swept into oblivion. Aaron thinks Shanna killed, while Aaron himself is forced to flee for his life. For Shanna, who survives that fateful night, the greatest adventure of her life is about to begin. Only the worst of nightmares awaits Aaron: pursued by dwarves, hell hounds, and a demon who will not stop until he is dead, the only thing keeping him alive is his own resourcefulness and an eslar mercenary whose reputation as a killer might make him the worst threat of all.

Though Aaron and Shanna travel different paths, their purpose is joined when they individually learn of the mysterious Fifth Element. Shanna sees it as the final piece in the puzzle that is her destiny. To Aaron's logical mind, it is an impossible ambiguity. Whatever the answer, the Fifth Element draws them back together and into a final confrontation not as allies, but as adversaries.

 

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