Sunday, March 31, 2013

March Madness Update #5--A Look at the Numbers

At the end of February, I decided to challenge myself to write on a regular schedule for the entire month of March. My goal was simple--write 500 words a day and a total of 15,500 words for the entire month.

So how did it go?

Well, when I finished my writing session of 608 words this morning, I finished off the month with a grand total of 16,010 words written. My average word count for March was 516 words per day, which was not bad, seeing as I missed six days of writing this month for various reasons.

I worked on five different projects over the month, completing a new short story, starting two new ones, and writing several pages of my webccomic, Mo Stache. I also finished the month by beginning a new book, which I wrote over 5000 words for in the last week alone.

Bottom line--I am very encouraged by my writing output this month. I was bummed to miss a handful of days, but I kept at it, and found that on most days, I could make time to write no matter what was going on. Not to mention, I did not count the blog posts I wrote for Secret Identity, Co-Op Critics or this blog in my word count for the month. In reality, there were many days where I was writing well over a thousand, and sometimes two thousand words per day.

I'm so happy with how the month turned out, I've decided to set a similar goal for April, and I will be taking part in Camp Nanowrimo to help keep me motivated. More on that to come!

If you're interested, here's a look at the breakdown of numbers for the month:

March 1--825
March 2--605
March 3--514
March 4--525
March 5--647
March 6--617
March 7--595
March 8--570
March 9--525
March 10--0 (planned day off)
March 11--531
March 12--564
March 13--775
March 14--0 (unplanned)
March 15--0 (unplanned)
March 16--1005
March 17--0 (unplanned)
March 18--536
March 19--523
March 20--535
March 21--0 (unplanned)
March 22--649
March 23--0 (unplanned)
March  24--1042
March 25--778
March 26--695
March 27--661
March 28--588
March 29--505
March 30--592
March 31--608

Total = 16,010

Friday, March 29, 2013

For Authors, Goodreads Now More Important Than Ever

Big news this week--Amazon agreed to buy Goodreads, the social network for readers that currently has 16 million members that have generated over 20 million book reviews.

As an author, this move is extremely exciting for me, as it could mean increased visibility for my books. Otis Chandler, the CEO of Goodreads, recently stated that book purchases made on Amazon could automatically show up on a person’s Goodreads shelf. That means if a person buys my book, all of their friends on Goodreads would see my book show up on the profile of the person who bought it. That’s exciting stuff, right there.

As a reader and Kindle user, I am very anxious to see how Amazon will integrate Goodreads functionality into the Kindle experience. Being able to interact with Goodreads while reading a book on Kindle will make sharing info about books I like much easier. That’s clearly a benefit for authors as well.

For example, let’s say I’m reading Sarah Petty and Erin Verbeck’s new book Worth Every Penny (which I am), which is about creating a boutique mindset for your small business and competing on value instead of price. If I read a really great piece of advice in the book, I’d love to be able to instantly go into Goodreads and generate a message board thread about it. As I continue reading, I could receive notification when someone else commented on my thread, allowing me to discuss the book with other readers as I’m reading it. That type of spontaneous discussion is great for readers and authors, and it’s consistent with the type of community that Goodreads already is.

To me, it now seems more important than ever to have an author presence both on Amazon and on Goodreads. As these two become more integrated, being established in those communities will give authors a leg up on those who aren’t there already.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Writing What I Know

As anyone who's read this blog in the past probably knows, I have been a podcaster for the last seven years. This month is actually the seventh anniversary of the Secret Identity Podcast, a twice-weekly show that I've been recording with my pall Matt Herring since March of 2006. We've produced over 1500 hours of programming, and have posted over 700 shows in all.

In 2010, I began recording and producing lbobi Radio with my good friend Jeff Rodgers of Allison Rodgers Photography. lbobi Radio focuses on design, technology and the creative process. We've posted fifty episodes of that show so far, and have featured interviews with award-winning photographers, entrepreneurs and successful small business owners.

This past year, I spun off a Secret Identity gaming segment into its own full-length podcast, Co-Op Critics. While that podcast is still pretty young, the blog that myself and fellow gamers Kim Wong, Dan Evans and Dave Fetterman have built around the show is thriving.

So why am I talking about podcasting so much? Because I'm going to write a book about it.

Right now, I'm in the outlining process, and there's so much to talk about already. Rather than a technical guide, I want to provide clear and helpful advice on how to go from thinking about starting a podcast to making it happen and developing a presence for it on the web. Don't get me wrong--there will be plenty of info on the process itself, like the tools used to record, edit and publish, but the book isn't going to read like an instruction manual. I'm aiming to provide practical advice to help people chart a clear and cost-effective path to starting and maintaining a podcast.

I'll be talking about this book here on the blog as I move forward, as well as highlighting some of the people I'll be interviewing for the project as well. I may even have some podcasting news to announce....

Saturday, March 16, 2013

March Madness Update #4--A Derailment and a Victory

Whew! It's been an up and down week this week, mostly because I was really not feeling well for a couple of days, and I didn't write for either of them. My initial plan was to bounce back from one planned day off last week, and instead I missed a couple more. So, the total thus far for march is thirteen days of writing, three days of not writing. Not bad, but my goal now is to push through the rest of the month with no more interruptions.

On the positive front, I finished a story! Well, the first draft of one, anyway. I also wrote over 1000 words in the process today, so I made up for at least one of those missed days.

The premise of my short story came to me while I was out shoveling snow during a nor'easter a few weeks ago. I'm pretty happy with it, and I'll be sending it out to some beta readers before I do my final edits. I also need to get a cover image for it, as my plan is to get it up on Amazon soon.

Once March is over, it's back to editing my second book. I lost a bunch of edits I had done when my iPad crashed (always back up, kids!), so I'll be starting from scratch. But, I'm still planning on having book number two our by the fall at the latest.

More updates next week!

Monday, March 11, 2013

March Madness--Update #3: A Break, and a Whole Lotta Mo

I took a day off on Sunday, as the family and I went to watch some college basketball and spend the day together. But, I’m averaging over 500 words a day, and I hit my count again today, so I didn’t let the day off derail me. My plan is to make up for that day off over the next few days, so by week’s end, it will be as if the day off never happened.

As far as subject matter, Mo Stache has surged into the lead. I’ve written fifteen new pages of Mo over the past week, and it feels great, as I had neglected the webcomic for a while, as I’d been working on my novel, and a few other projects. I’m on a roll now with the story in Mo, and even if I only get a few more pages done in March, I have enough scripts for my artist/partner John Cordis to last for the next several months.

I actually hit a plateau with the short story I was working on, and I’ve been thinking through possible solutions as I work on other things. I really want to push through the first draft though, as I already know I’ll be doing some serious editing before it’s ready for public consumption.

Oh--one more thing! I dusted off an idea I had for an all-ages comic that I am going to turn into a series of children’s books (possibly interactive books). I finished the first chapter of book one this weekend, and I think the story will work well.

Finally, even though I’m not counting them in my daily word counts, I’ve been writing a lot of posts about games, comics and more between the Secret Identity blog and Co-Op Critics. All told, I’m writing well 1,000 words a day, sometime more than 2,000. Having the daily fiction word count puts me in a writing mood, and once I’ve hit my goal for the day, I usually dive right into a blog post.

Anyway, that’s the latest. More updates to come!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Seven Years of Secret Identity

I had intended to sit down and write some profound reflection about the 500th episode of the Secret Identity Podcast and the fact that we are celebrating our seventh anniversary this month (we started in march 2006). But the more I thought about it, the more I realize my memories of the past seven years are a series on snippets, moments and factoids from my experiences with the show. So, I’ve decided to do this as kind of a list of those things that stick out to me, and that people may find interesting. Here goes:

  • When we started Secret identity in March of 2006, my co-host Matt Herring, along with most of the world, did not know what a podcast was.
  • We originally started the show because the season of Battlestar Galactica was over and we wanted a reason to still get together on Saturday nights.
  • When we started Secret Identity, there were only a handful of comics podcasts out there, Comic Geek Speak being the most notable one (they started in 2005). podcasting was still in its infancy at that time.
  • The two major podcast influences that led to the creation of Secret Identity were The 1UP Show and This Week in Tech (TWiT).
  • Secret Identity’s website for the first few years was, a website Matt had started a few months before we began the podcast. He used to do news, reviews and interviews on that site.
  • There was a time when we were planning on expanding Secret Identity in a big way, similar to how sites like Revision 3 have a stable of audio and video content. We were going to have a monthly video magazine, and a variety of audio podcasts covering different topics under the Secret Identity umbrella. For a variety of reasons, those plans never came together.
  • On at least 3 separate occasions, we have come very close to creating a print magazine for Secret Identity.
  • During our time with SI, both Matt and I have dabbled in various aspects of the comics industry. Matt was involved with PR for Archie comics for a time, and I worked as a contributing writer for Comic Book Resources.
  • Despite being one of the longest running comics podcasts, we have only 26 customer ratings on iTunes.
  • Roddy Piper once did a video intro for one of our Big Apple shows.
  • Kane Hodder (my favorite Jason Voorhees) once did an audio intro for the podcast.
  • We once interviewed Todd McFarlane over Skype while huddled around the coffee table in my living room.
  • While Matt and I have had small disagreements over the past seven years, we almost never argue and we are consistently on the same page when it comes to the direction of the show.
  • Matt and I treat Secret Identity like it’s our full-time job, despite never having earned a dime from the show. In fact, it costs us hundreds of dollars a year to put the show out and maintain the website.
  • Before we began Secret Identity, I had a two-year old daughter. Now I have a nine-year old daughter and a six-year old son (named Parker, after Peter Parker).
  • While we are posting of 500th officially numbered episode, we have actually produced more than 700 episodes. For approximately 200 of them, we would use half numbers for the second show each week (Episode #37 and 37.5, for example.).
  • All told, we have produced over 1500 hours of programming. If you listened to every minute of Secret Identity consecutively from the beginning, it would take you over two months of 24/7 listening to get through it.
  • We have posted approximately 350 interviews with people in the comics, gaming, movies and television industries. We have about 50 more that haven’t been published yet, and some that never will be, for one reason or another.
  • There is a very short list of people that we still want to get on the show but have never had on. Some of the names on my personal short list are Mark Waid, Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray, Peter David and Clive Barker.
  • On our way back to the train station on the last day of NYCC 2011, Matt stepped out of a cab and something flew from his pocket and right into the sewer drain. There was a moment of panic, as he believed it was his recorder with over 20 interviews on it. Turns out it was his cell phone. I will never forget the look on his face as we hears the “kersploosh” of the phone landing in the water below.
  • Of all the creators we’ve met, almost all of them have been as cool as we’d hoped they’d be. My only real “bummer” interview was with Larry Hama, when I found out he wasn’t as excited about GI Joe as I thought he would be. He was still super nice, though.
  • Most interesting panel I’ve seen at a show--Dan Slott, Chris Claremont and Larry Hama together at a Big Apple show. Claremont and Hama bemoaned the current state of writing and the industry, and Slott was the enthusiastic one who disagreed with almost everything they said. Made for great conversation.
  • Some of my closest friends I met through Secret Identity. Two current podcasts I do, Co-Op Critics with Dan Evans and lbobi Radio with Jeff Rodgers would not exist if it weren’t for Secret Identity.
  • Matt and I have been in published comics a handful of times. We had a starring role (along with our pals Steve and James) in issue #34 of Jonah Hex, drawn by Mark Sparacio. We’ve had cameos in the Big Hero 6 2008-2009 miniseries drawn by David Nakayama, G-Man Vol. 2: Cape Crisis by Chris Giarrusso, an issue of Vin Ferrante’s Witch Hunter, the Hero Envy comic miniseries and an issue of the Hebert Brothers’ Lazerman series. This year, we will be appearing in the third volume of Chris Giarrusso’s G-Man series.
  • Matt and I appeared in a few episodes of the Hero Envy web series. I had a recurring character called “Nut Shot” who was a spoof of my favorite Joe, Quick Kick. We have also appeared on a some episodes of the Swass Cast as well.
  • My favorite part of Secret Identity will always be the community that has sprung up around it. There are some amazing people who listen week in and week out, and our community continues to be a very open and welcoming place for people to hang out on the internet.
  • I know there are ton of things I’m forgetting as well, so I’ll probably post again or add to this list as I remember.

I can honestly say that despite everything else that has gone on in our lives over the past seven years, Secret Identity is something that Matt and I look forward to doing week in and week out. Many times, it has been the highlight of an otherwise difficult week. The fact that people take time to listen to the show every week still amazes us, and we are very thankful to all the folks who have spent time with us over the years. One of the things I am most thankful for is my friendship with Matt, which will always be tied to Secret Identity and the time and effort we've put into this thing we love.

Thanks for listening,


Wednesday, March 6, 2013

March Madness--Update #2

Entering day six of my personal 500-word-a-day challenge, I’ve managed to hit my goals each day. Yesterday was my highest total so far, at 647 words. Granted, it’s not a huge word count, but again, my goal here is to make sure I’m writing fiction every day. I actually wore well over 2000 words yesterday, but that included a few blog posts, which I am not counting.

One interesting thing I have already learned is that it helps to have a few projects going on at the same time. I hit a rough patch with the short story I’ve been working on, but rather than remain stuck, I just switch over to my webcomic Mo Stache, and busted out some new pages yesterday. I have a number of projects I could be working on, and while I want to finish that short story for sure this month, I’m not letting that get in the way of writing every day.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

March Madness--Update #1

As I mentioned in my previous post, I've challenged myself to write at least 500 words of fiction every day for the month of March. My main reasons for this are to get in the habit of writing fiction every day, and to find a manageable number of words that I can commit to writing each day.

Two days in, my goal seems to be very reasonable. Yesterday I was able to get 825 words written in between work, family and other obligations. This morning I got up early and wrote a little over 600 words while most of the family was still sleeping.

As far as what I'm working on, I am currently in the middle of a short horror story, the premise of which came to me while shoveling snow during the big storm a few weeks ago.

Even though it's always been true, I often have to remind myself that there is time in almost every day for writing, no matter what else is going on. I just have to hold myself accountable to making the time for it.