My Best Writing Year Ever: How I Did It

 600,000 words in 365 days. In December 2011, that was my goal. I honestly didn’t know if I could do it. That was like writing words equal to NaNoWriMo (50,000) every month for an entire year. As of Dec 20th, 2012, I hit 609,548 words for the year.

I had to set some ground rules for myself. I said that only writing that I intended to try to publish in some form would count, and the prewriting that I did for any novels or short stories. Anything I did for work, emails, etc would not count. 
I also thought that I needed to keep very good track so I could have exact word counts. My first step was to create an excel spreadsheet with 12 tabs, and label them for the months. I took a cell and set it up to display the total of the all numbers in the first column. Then, any time I wrote something, I put the word total in the next open cell in the first column. This kept an automatic running total with little hassle. I then set up a cell in each sheet that added up all of the total cells, so I could have a running total of everything I had done for the year. 
This sheet helped keep me motivated. I could always tell how much progress I had made and how much I had yet to do. 
I then evaluated my writing style. I know that I work best when I have a few projects going at a time, and so I mapped out the things I wanted to work on next and decided to work on each of these projects every day. I prioritized the projects to work on the ones I wanted to get done first early in the year. 
Then, there really wasn’t a big trick to it. I committed to writing every day and anytime I could. I tried to bring my laptop with me for times when I had a few minutes. If I didn’t have my laptop, I wrote using my iPod. If I didn’t have that, I kept a notebook handy to write, or prepare myself for writing so that I could move more quickly when I got to it.  
The biggest thing is to know when your best productive times of the day are and really use them for all they are worth. During these times, minimize distractions. Turn off Facebook, check your email once before you got to the writing zone, or whatever you need to do. Pinterest will still be there when you get back. There are even programs such as Cold Turkey, which will allow you to block these sites for a certain time limit while you write. Pretty useful. 
I experienced some major setbacks. I had some really busy weeks, such as the week before “The Secret Garden ” opened, in which I was an actor. Two LDS General Conferences and countless other events for the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Looming deadlines for work, a complete hard drive meltdown, severe sickness and many other things inhibited my ability to write. There were times when I fell way behind and had to rush forward by writing 10,000 words on the last two days of the month. 
I’m here to tell you that persistence pays. Just like in running a marathon, it does not do you any good to spend all of your energy in one burst and then stop running. You must keep a steady pace, with occasional bursts of speed to catch up in order to do your best. I believe that goals help writers push themselves to accomplish more than they normally would. Here’s a glimpse into what I wrote this year: 
The Canticle Kingdom Book III
The Last Archangels, Books II and III
Elected (Partial) 
The Death Seer (Partial) 
The Ward Choir Survival Guide 
The Ultimate Morning Study Companion (German/English) 
Voices in My Blood (Partial, co-authored)
Personal History 2012 
Short Stories 
Many, including ones for two anthologies “Sing We Now of Christmas” and “Carol of the Tales”. 
When Death Comes (Musical) 
Christmas Spirits the Musical (Partial) 
Serial Stories
Canticle of Dawn
Canticle of Twilight
Age of Archangels Seasons I and II
Christmas Spirits 
Dozens of articles for 
This next year is going to be taken up in revision and getting these and works from past years polished up and better ready to submit. If anyone else is up to the challenge, I highly recommend it. I accomplished so much this year and it is great now to look back and see that it all worked out. I am committed and serious about writing and will continue to put in the long hours that it takes to realize my potential. 
What are your writing goals for the coming year? 
A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all! 

So What Did You Do With the First Half of Your Year?

Happy July, everyone. Contrary to rumors that I have fallen off the face of Earth, I am still around and still writing. May and June provided plenty to do, from doing a show, to traveling to St. Louis for my brother’s wedding to 60 hour work weeks to finish up a project at work.  And despite it all…

…I still got all my writing done. 50, 000 words for May and June. Phew. It’s true that I just barely made it, but it still worked out. I have hit the halfway point for 2012 and am on schedule to hit my ultimate goal of 600,000 words.

I’m hoping to get my blog back up to a state of normal posting, with regular content.

Writing Progress:
Words for July: 0 (0%)
Words for 2012: 300,007 (50%)

Writing Update:
Just because I was silent, doesn’t mean I wasn’t busy!  I have finished the first drafts on the third installments of The Canticle Kingdom and the Last Archangel series and am working on a trio of new middle grade titles. Their working titles are: Dual School, Elected, and Lend a Hand. I’ll take more about each of them in the coming weeks.
I’m also working on revising a musical I wrote while I was in a musical tentatively titled “When Death Comes”. I’ve got several musical projects in the works, and if any of you know of a person who is good at writing scores for such projects, have them drop me a line!

Anthology Update:
The anthology is right on track. The first draft is at the editor, also known as Darth Editus. Extra points if you know her real name. The cover design, suggested by fellow author Daron Fraley, is at the cover designer. It was an excellent suggestion that speaks to the idea of the anthology being a little like an advent calendar. It should be about another week before I get that. Check back later for the big reveal!
In case you missed it, the title of the anthology is going to be: Sing We Now of Christmas: An Advent Anthology.
We are already tossing around the idea of having a ‘caroling book signing’, where we could perform some of the carols mentioned in the anthology while we sign books. 
Seeking a Few Got Pens:
I am seeking a few other authors to embark with me on a multi-book, multi-author project. I can’t promise you fame and piles of money, but I can promise, time travel, cavemen, the French Revolution and more. If you’d like to see the details, click on “Current Projects”.

Canticle of Twilight

The last season of what I’m calling “The Canticle Prelude” is going on right now with new episodes every Monday. Even though it has the word “Twilight” in the title, I promise, it has nothing to do with sparkly vampires.  Instead, it is a story that tells about what happened in the Kingdom right before the events of the first book. Check it out at:  

‘Til I see you again, write bravely and live well! 

Stick a Flag in March

Stick a flag in March. Two days ago, I already hit my 50,000 word mark for the month. I’m about 8,000 words ahead, which is a pretty nice padding. Hope I won’t need it. I’m spending the last days of March trying to widen that lead, but also finishing up another edit of the 2ndCanticle Kingdom book so that it can go off to the editor I hired.
It is the last chance to submit to the Christmas Short Story Anthology. The deadline is March 31st. Check out “current projects” for more info. I have a bunch of great submissions, including an epic historical piece about Good King Wenceslas, who was apparently much more interesting that I had ever considered.
Please be sure to check out my audio series, especially if you liked or would like to read “The Canticle Kingdom”. I think it will make it a much deeper experience. The second one that I’m narrating is called “Phineas Frakture and the Dolonites” and it shaping up to be an interesting adventure with great characters.
If you’d like to play a game of “Where’s Waldo” with real people, I’m singing in LDS General Conference this weekend with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. You can stream it live, or watch the videos after the fact at Leave a comment if you were able to spot me!
Running Total: 158090
Month to Date: 51,758
Yearly Percentage to Go: 73.7%
Writing Tip of the Week:
When bringing a project to a close, make sure it is going to make the reader’s happy. Not all ending have to be rainbows and roses, but make sure that there is something that made the journey worthwhile. Someone, typically your main characters, should have made progress, and at least something about the world should be better or more hopeful than before. You want your reader to feel at rest at the end of your story at least to some degree.
Writing Update:
The big finale of Wandful is in the bag, and I’m trying to decide which project to work on next. I’ve been hearing that dystopian novels and paranormal romances are less in demand these days. (Good thing I’d only ever write one of the two.) I have a whole stack of ideas I’d like to try, which I feel is a good problem to have.
I’m also considering what new web series I might try to write. I’m doing this current one and one more for my Canticle series, after which the reader is taken up to the time of the first novel. I’m thinking about giving the same treatment to “The Last Archangel”, especially because Xandir obviously has a long and interesting backstory at which he only hints at in the novels. More on that as it develops.
‘Til I see you again, write bravely and live well! 

Gesundheit! At Last!

It’s amazing how little you get done when  sickness strikes. I was sicker this week than I have been since I was a little kid and spent entire days sprawled out on the couch watching cartoons and sipping Gatorade.(By the way, “Gesundheit” means “health” in German. That’s why you say it when to people when they sneeze). 
I’ve decided that I need to be a little flexible on my blog schedule for my busy life. I’ll still shoot for Monday and Thursday, but it might be occassionaly bumped to a surrounding day.
I’m feeling very good about my writing with lots of a good news coming in.  We’re almost done with the shortest month of the year and I’m only about 2,000 words shy of hitting 50,000 again. I figure if I can hit the mark in February, every other month should be a breeze. Thank goodness for that Leap Day though this year where I get an extra day to get ahead on writing versus a normal year.

Running Total: 103,749
Monthly Percentage to Go: 4.4%
Yearly Percentage to Go: 82.7%
Writing Tip of the Week:
When working towards writing goals, always write a little extra on those days when things are flowing well. It’s like saving up a few extra dollars “for a rainy day.” Even though I was sick and got very little writing done for a few days this week, I still did not fall behind on my overall goal because I had been following this practice. There’s nothing more discouraging than seeing yourself fall farther and farther behind. Never let yourself get into that position.  
Writing Update:
Excellent progress on my novels with more than 30,000 words on Wandaful already. I worked on developing the series’ system of magic this week and I think it works really well. It has to do with different colors of magic that stand for different things, and I think you’ll all like it when I debut it.  Other projects are plugging along, and I found out that two of my modern parables are going to be included in the a published anthology coming out this fall.
“Canticle of Night” is almost complete and has been really fun.  Please take a moment to support it by clicking the ‘like’ button on the page. They have picked it up for a second season, so the story will continue! I’ll keep you posted on more details.
If you want to listen to or read “Canticle of Night”, please visit my page at

My Writing Plan: 2012

Can you believe 2012 is already upon us? It seems insane. Soundslike a real Jetsons year, like we should have flying cars and the like. TheMayans say the world is going to end about this time next year. I don’t know ifthat is true, but if it is, I’m resolved to making this last year count. 
This is officially my final post for 2011. It has been agreat year that has seen the release of a new novel, a new inspirationalpamphlet, a new serial story, and the writing of many new manuscripts. For myblog, it went from having about 50 followers to over 320.  Thanks to everyone who joined up!
For your very last chance of the year to win “The Last Archangel”,follow the link to the giveaway below.

Also, here is a great interview on Sylvia Ramsey’s website, in which I talk a lot more about “The Last Archangel”.

Inconjunction with the end of the year, I’ve come up with some goals for 2012. I’mshooting for the stars. If you want your own template, please email me at to requestone. Here they are: 

Goal: Write 50,000 words/month for every month in 2012 for a total of 600,000 words.

To Write:
To Revise:
To Submit:
Goal to Sell:
3 books
To Write:
To Revise:
To Submit:
Goal to Sell:
NonFiction Works:
To Write:
To Revise:
To Submit:
Goal to Sell:
Conferencesto Attend:
Teen Writer’s Conference
UVU Book Academy