Q3 2017 – Reading, Writing, & Arithmetic
For nearly 30 years, I toiled away in Corporate America. In finance. So, forgive me, but I tend to think in calendar quarters. I set goals quarterly. I review progress quarterly. I measure results quarterly.
Yes, I really do this every 90 days. Now that I work for myself and, frankly, no one would notice whether I got anything done or not, quarterly reviews are even more important.
As I was reviewing my progress this quarter – and establishing goals for the last quarter of 2017, I thought I would share a few results and thoughts.
Let’s start with painful part. I have long had a goal of publishing my first book October 1. Yes, 2017. This Sunday.
Newsflash – Not meeting that deadline.
When you tackle something new – something you have never done – you quickly learn that it is harder and more painful than it appears. Publishing is no different.
The good news is that it is still moving forward. While I would like to have it out before the end of the year, the odds are that it will move to the first of next year.
The better news is that the one behind that is also well underway.
Thanks for your patience. It will happen. As soon as I have a publication date, I will let you know.
As I mentioned in my post, Reading 300 Books (Lee Child’s annual goal), I set a personal goal of reading 50 books this year – a goal I surpassed in the first half of the year. I just completed my 73rd book last night and number 74 should be wrapped up by quarter end. It’s safe to say I am now aiming for 100 by the end of the year. Roughly two a week. Lee Child may be tripling my number but, then, he is Lee Child – the author of the Jack Reacher series.
Of the eighteen books I have read since my last update, most are concentrated in the key authors I committed to catching up on this year (Note: All links are Amazon Affiliate Links. I receive a small commission from Amazon if you make a purchase.):
John Grisham – (Theodore Boone – The Fugitive; Rogue Lawyer; Partners; and Witness to a Trial) Yes, I am only two books (plus a yet to be released book) away from being current.
Lisa Gardner – (Killing Hour; Gone; and Hide – I am currently reading Say Goodbye and will probably add that to this quarter’s tally). I have really grown to enjoy her style.
Lee Child – (Running Blind, Echo Burning, and Without Fail). Jack Reacher is one tough guy. And, sorry, but he is more of a Dwayne Johnson than a Tom Cruise.
Michael Connelly – (Lost Light and The Narrows). Harry Bosch is my current favorite detective. Such a great character, warts and all.
David Baldacci – (Wish You Well) If you haven’t read Wish You Well, I highly recommend it. A very different book from Baldacci’s normal thrillers (which I enjoy), this novel paints a complex and heart-wrenching vision of the rural mountains of Virginia, not unlike the North Carolina mountains I live in. It is, hands down, my favorite book of the quarter.
I tried two new (to me) authors – Max Brooks (World War Z) and Nelson DeMille (The Gold Coast).
Yes, Brooks’ book is the basis for the movie, but it is much better as a book. The premise is interesting – a series of interviews with people all over the world as the globe is containing and recovering from a zombie apocalypse. I am admittedly not a huge zombie fan, but this is really more of a book about how the various countries and peoples of the world would react to a global threat. I started out really liking the premise and the quick interviews, but the concept wore thin by the second half of the book.
Since you knew everyone being interviewed survived, the threat level just was not high enough to maintain my interest. And back to the fact that I’m not a big zombie fan.
And I really wanted to like DeMille’s book. He has a quick wit and a sarcastic tone that is quite funny. The characters, unfortunately, are just not likeable people and I found myself not caring what happened to them. Still, I need to try some other DeMille’s since it is quite clear he can develop characters (even those who were unlikeable) and his writing style is witty.
I also read three books about writing (Scott Baker’s The Writer’s Guide to Training Your Dragon; Rachel Aaron’s 2k to 10k: How To Write Faster, Write Better, and Write More of What You Love; and John Truby’s The Anatomy of a Story. In fairness, I have read Truby’s book about three times this quarter and highly recommend it to anyone who wants to write. My second favorite book, though, admittedly, it will only appeal on a technical basis to writers.
To recap, my two big recommendations are David Baldacci’s Wish You Well, a heart-wrenching story of the people of the Virginia mountains, and John Truby’s The Anatomy of a Story, assuming you are a writer or aspiring writer.
So what are you reading? I still have my notes from the great recommendations you made last time and would love to add to my list. Please add them to the comments below.
WRITING FOR THE WEB
As for my writing goals, I did fairly well in Q3. Let’s call it a C+, maybe inching to a B-.
I posted 21 times on my author website (14 short stories, 6 photography and 2 miscellaneous posts, including this one). I was originally trying to add a third post each week to my author site, but didn’t even hit twice a week. That’s ok because I am not going to post just to post and will always choose quality over quantity.
My goal for Q4 is 26 times (twice per week) plus I am working to add some micro commentary / stories as well (200-300 word).
In addition, I did daily posts over at The Thundering Herd in addition to 12 videos. I have often thought of cutting back a little there – maybe 5 day a week schedule – but that’s hard to do with such loyal fans on that site and the fact that I haven’t missed a daily post in nearly six years (since October 7, 2011).
Many of you noticed that I did a major overhaul of the look and feel of my author website. I am working on a similar project for The Thundering Herd’s website which should be completed by the end of the calendar year.
In case you are curious, the top three most popular posts of the quarter were:
Canine Solar Eclipse Glasses – The race was not even close. This story received as many readings as the second and third stories combined.
Puerto Rico and Hurricane Maria – Even though this was the most recent story, it has trended well and continues to get strong reads.
Don’t Wear Sunglasses to an Eclipse – Earl and Wanda are going to make a reappearance in a new short story soon.
Of Mice and Men – The Eviction – I know, this is a fourth post, but it had only a couple less reads than #3 and there was a good drop to number 5, so let’s call third place a tie.
Quick comment on the mailing lists. My author website (dkwall.com) had a healthy 17% growth this quarter while The Thundering Herd’s mailing list grew about 1%, though on a much larger base. The dogs have always kidded me they are more popular than I am.
Thank you to everyone for signing up to the mailing list and sharing the stories. I really appreciate the support.
Due to popular demand, the mailing list now offers three options:
1) A same day email notifying you of any new post.
2) A once a week email that summarizes all of the week’s posts. I keep experimenting with different days of the week for this one and am torn between Monday (a natural start of the week) and Thursday (a common start to long weekends and casual reading).
3) Special notifications only. No notifications about posts, but a periodic (no more than 4 times a year) email just updating you on what I am up to.
If you haven’t signed up for the newsletter yet, please do so. And if you have and want to change your frequency, simply click the “update your preferences” link at the bottom of every email.
As always, thank you for sharing my stories on social media or directly with your friends. Your support is really appreciated.
Today’s featured image includes a photo by Roman Kraft which has been used with permission from Unsplash
Nooooooo you can’t cut back the Thundering Herd I get up at 4am it’s the first thing I read
And it showed what a talented writer you are I’m now addicted to this page as well