What I’ve Been Doing This Year

I have to be honest. I keep forgetting I even have a blog. I just don’t have much time to tend to it these days. Well, let’s just say I’ve got other priorities right now. This has been the only year in the past ten years, that I have not published a novel or novella or even a short story. Nothing. Dead air. Only two blog posts in six months.

So have I quite writing fiction then? No. Not entirely. My goal is to write three novellas this year. I’m at 1.2 so far, so I need to keep typing as the year’s more than half over now. Can I finish one and a half novella’s before the end of 2019? Possibly. Usually I finish a book and publish it, but this time I’m planning on releasing an entire trilogy in like a few week’s time next year. Just to see what happens. Then it’s back to a book or two a year again.

These last few weeks it’s been a slog getting through book two of the Destroyer Trilogy. Part of that is due to my plot being not exactly clear to me and part of it is due to lack of interest in writing. Maybe I’ve hit some kind of wall, maybe it’s plot related and maybe I’m just tired of it all and my creativity is hibernating. Whatever it is, I need to kick myself in the butt and get writing.

I have a Mystery and a stand alone SF novel in editing, but those are both being reserved for traditional publishing. So you might not see them for years. In the meantime, I should have this trilogy out early next year.

This and That

Random posts are random.

The latest paper books I’ve acquired are The Eternal Zero from a Japanese writer and Entropic Angel from Gareth Powell a UK writer. The Japanese book is about a Zero fighter pilot from WWII and Gareth’s book contains many of his SF short stories. Looking forward to reading both. I’ve seen the movie based on The Eternal Zero and is was fantastic.

On the modeling front, I’ve finally started tinkering with my 1/32 scale Revell FW190 kit. The below picture shows my first attempt at scratch building a canon cover on the wing.

The other model on my bench is the Spearon from the Star Saga novels. It’s up on a the C-stand with a hollow brass tube for a mount. I’m considering running the power to the lights inside through the tube to an external battery. This is how I’ll light all future cover models built for those books.

This is Endora, our Black Lab. She’s napping.

Last weekend our CAP Squadron helped out with a foot race down by the Boise River. The river was high and fast as this early morning shot shows.

Say, how’s that Corvette book doing since it was released? Glad you asked. It’s doing quite well, as you can see from the sales chart below. Caution though, this shows all my ebook sales, not just Corvette, but you can assume that 95% of this was Corvette. It’s riding about second or third page on three best seller lists. Not too shabby. Thanks to everyone still taking a chance on the little warship.

That’s all the random stuff I can find for this week. It’s raining this weekend in Idaho, so I’ll be spending more time inside.

And now for something completely different:  VIDEO

Of Bullet Journals And Novel Notes

I was super interested to read Tobias Buckell’s excellent post This Is How I Bullet Journal. I know he’s real good at organizing and was intrigued by how he used it. I’m not a journal writer nor does my schedule conflate beyond my ability to comprehend so I’ve never really seen a need to try Bullet Journalling. But when Buckell mentioned that he found it good for keeping track of his novels, that piqued my interest.

When it comes to organizing myself for writing a first draft I’ve tried all kinds of software and I’ve even used paper notebooks. The programs that let you organize your opus and write it in the same place eventually let me down when I jumped to a different writing platform. I just can’t seem to pick one I like. Lately I’ve been composing my novels in Google Docs. Writing them in a linear fashion while following an outline from a spreadsheet. This is pretty common actually. Although most people use Word and Excel for the software. I don’t do Microsoft if I can get away with it. So I use GDocs. I can access my work from a Chromebook, Android phone or regular a laptop and Google syncs me up when I go online. No need to back anything up and there is excellent sharing ability for letting folks watch my progress or for letting my editor do his thing to make it better.

When it comes to keeping track of all my notes on a novel I’ve also started to move things to GDocs. Again, it’s all in one spot for easy reference. Now you can do similar things with other programs but I’ve just found GDocs to be easier for my lifestyle. Before I wrote this way I would keep notebooks filled with scribbles about the novels I would write. Background details, plot points and character arcs all jumbled into various areas in more than one notebook. But it was never organized in a sane manner so that when I started writing, I could look stuff up.

Then I realized, as did Buckell, that you could organize with the Bullet Journal method and suddenly your novel notes become more manageable.  I ordered some things from Amazon and messed around with different mechanical pencils and pens and eventually came up with this method of organizing my novel notes.  I haven’t been doing this for more than a few days, so I’m not sure this will stick as a best practice yet. But it’s worth a try. I have two novels to write this year and time’s a wasting.

I use the soft cover notebook that Buckell recommended – Kokuyo Systemic Refillable Notebook Cover in A5 size. It came with a spiral note pad which I use for scheduling stuff. I set it up like a Bullet Journal and use it to track ideas, deadlines and stuff related to writing. It’s a great cover with pockets and room for another notebook inside. This is where I put my novel notebook. For that I use: MUJI Thread Binding Notebook A5 Dot-grid 96sheets. Each novel I start will get it’s own Muji bound notebook. 

The last piece is what to use to write with. I’ve never had an issue using pens or pencils. I prefer pens, actually. But I have lots of pencils that I use on the modeling workbench. So I tried out Buckell’s recommended mech pencil and for some reason it soon made its way to my workbench for marking styrene. It might come back to my notebooks, but I have found I really like the Pigma Micron pens.

So that’s how I’m using the Bullet Journaling craze – to keep my novel notes organized. I number my pages and reference new topics back to the Index page as I write them down. As long as I do this, I can find all those crazy ideas faster than just flipping pages. The notes are small enough to carry with me to my lunchtime writing sprints with my laptop. I even stick the phone in the front pocket so I can carry it all in one hand.

Do you use journals or notebooks to keep track of your novels? Tell me about your process. Do a blog post and link to it or jot down your best practices in the comments. I’m always interested in what different people are doing to keep organized.


My Return to Facebook


So now that ‘m back on FB, I thought I’d let you all know about it. I’ve created an author page and that’s where I would encourage you to follow me. I will keep my personal FB stream to my friends, usually those are people I know in person or have long online friendships with.

What will I be posting about? Probably my book promotions and things that are of interest to my fans. So that may be Sci-Fi stuff, fighter pilot stuff and a few modelling posts. I’ll be recommending the works of others and sometimes, talking about what I’m writing. There will be no dog or cat pictures or political or religious rants. Actually, you’d be hard pressed to find that in any stream of mine. I don’t need any more enemies.

Anyway, here is the link: https://www.facebook.com/KenMcConnellAuthor






Weekend Review 20 Oct 2013


It was a good week for writing on the WIP – The Blood Empress. I wrote an even five thousand words last week and I hope to continue that trend until it’s finished. Below is a screenshot from Plume Creator. The whole book is outlined in Plume so all I have to do is focus on writing.



New Ubuntu

I upgraded my Dell Laptop to Ubuntu 13.10 this week. So far so good. But I noticed that it doesn’t like my external monitor anymore. I need to fiddle with that and see what’s wrong with it. The oldest was playing Minecraft on it and he seemed to be pleased.


My son’s football team played their last game together. It was a bowl game and they lost. But they had a great season and it was a fun four years for them. Their team party was that afternoon. It was a long, football day that ended with BSU and FSU victories so our house was happy.


Here’s Jack getting his plaque from head coach Mike Banks. It’s been a great four years of football with lots of memories. The dads are all sad. ;-)



The final Titans game. We played a team that had three former Boise State players for coaches. Yeah, tough to lose against BSU when you’re only 12. LOL!


My in-laws are visiting from Tennessee this week. Our first house guests since getting our new wood floors. I found it amusing that during the football games on TV, they were checking their cell phones.





Weekend Update 6 Oct 2013


Well, my son’s team won the Clash of the Titans, Part 2. Both teams being named Titans. Jack had a good game, got a few nice tackles. His team put up 14 points in first quarter with an all passing, all the time offense. Pretty fun to watch a QB that can throw that good at age 12.

That shadow is me taking the picture. Jack is gray player in background with the runner’s legs wrapped up. Yes, that’s frost on the ground. Also dully noted, the kid with the green socks is a lineman, hustling into the play.

Meanwhile, my Bears lost, the Seahawks lost and the Broncos won. On the college front, my Broncos had a bi week. They play Utah State next Saturday night. Feeling better about that one now that their QB is out for the season. Tough break for them. My wife’s Seminoles rolled this weekend to.

Wood Floors

We continue to clean and move furniture for the big wood floor operation to take place this week. Hope to get some baseboards to paint tomorrow night. Didn’t do much writing or anything this weekend due to the floor operation.

Dark Themed Plume Creator

Another updated screenshot of the dark theme for Plume Creator. It’s coming along nicely. You may also notice the toolbar in this image. It’s a new feature that we are testing now. It will only appear when you hover over the top left margin of the active scene.


Weekend Update 29 Sep 2013


This weekend my son’t team played hard and hung with the team they played but were eventually overpowered by a well disciplined, larger team. Our kids played with great heart and courage. My Boise State Broncos played hard too and came away with a blowout win. It’s hard to say they are that much better, only that they were able to beat a team they were expected to. It was good to see the trickeration plays again on offense. My Chicago Bears played horribly and lost to the Lions. The other teams I follow in the NFL have done well and remain unbeaten – Seattle and Denver. Picture shows my son missing a tackle on a kid who went down the line to score.


On Friday during my lunch break at work, I completed the first draft of The Rising, Book 2 of the Star Saga. This weekend I exported it out of Plume Creator and into LibreOffice Write for draft two, which is usually the draft that my beta readers see. I’m giving my mind a week or two to forget the story and then coming back to it will full read through and rewriting where necessary. In the meantime, I’m hashing out the outline for the novella that will deal with the Votainion Empress that takes place in the same time frame as Book 2. I’m really stoked to write this one. But only if I can fit it in between the edits for The Rising and outlining Book 3, Counterattack. We’ll see how that all plays out. But if I can write two books in one year, that would be great. Picture shows the book in Standard Manuscript Format.


We’re prepping for the installation of new wood floors in the common areas of our home. It involves much planning, packing and moving of large heavy items. Very similar to actually moving. Last week we had a banister and post removed and this week they will drop off the wood to be used for the flooring. This weekend we’ll be painting the base boards white and then next week they will do the floors. We so can’t wait to get rid of this nasty, 20 year old carpet.

Weekend Update 08 Sep 2013

Special Birthday edition of the Weekend Update. Today I am forty-eight years old.


My son’s team got shut out by a group of kids that have been playing for each other for four years and were really good. But they shut out the other team in the second half, so they were making adjustments good. We have two key players injured. Hopefully they will be back for next week’s game.

My BSU Broncos had a big day on The Blue, destroying Tennessee Martin. Not sure if this means the Broncos are still good, or just good against lesser teams. Time will tell.

Testing Plume Creator

A big week for testing Plume Creator, the writing software I use. Cyril, the programmer served up a new stable build that fixed a bug in how the main text was displayed and in turn created a new customization tool for it. It has been such a pleasure working with Cyril and the other software testers that work on Plume over the past year. The program has come a long way and now I can finally say that I no longer miss Scrivener. In a month or so I will have finished my first novel using Plume Creator and I can honestly say that I love writing with it. I first started using Scrivener when it was in beta years ago but I never had a relationship with the developer. Chiefly because Scrivener is closed source and therefor not open to the kinds of suggestions that an Open Source project like Plume Creator is. So while you can suggest that Apple, Microsoft or Scrivener add a feature to their software, unless thousands of users agree, it ain’t happening. Meanwhile, everyone who uses Plume Creator can have a voice in what features are added even how they get implemented if you know how to program.

If you take the time to download and actually use Plume Creator, we encourage you to send the programmer emails when you find a bug or if you can think of a better way to accomplish something. Cyril appreciates all input and everyone will benefit from it in the end. One of the things I always preach when it comes to writing is giving back to the art and craft. If you have success, help lift others up. If you have a skill, pass it on to others. If you use a tool, help the developer make it better. It’s more than just good karma, you may actually learn something about yourself and your tools. And that will make you a better person and a better writer.

Writing Tools

I ordered a new laptop stand and a seven port USB 2.0 hub. They both arrived this week and below you see them in action on my home writing desk. I’m happy with both products now that I slid the hub under the stand to hide its high intensity green power light. Why do companies make such bright lights on appliances? Don’t their designers actually live with their products? I think not.



I also found a shorter HDMI cable to use for connecting the laptop to the monitor. Be nice if dongle makers would cater to non-Apple devices and make black HDMI adapters. White is a horrible color for a computer accessory. The two outside ports on the USB hub are power chargers for my phone and tablet. The first two slots are taken up by the wireless keyboard and mouse, which is why I needed USB 2.0 instead of going with the 3.0 version. Apparently USB 3.0 interferes with wireless signals. The Cooler Master fan stand seems to be doing the trick in keeping my CPU happy while attached to the external monitor. I’ve been monitoring the CPU temp and it seems about ten to fifteen degrees cooler than without the fan.

Now I need to work on wire management and see if I can clean up this desk a bit.