Noon on a Saturday morning/afternoon. The last Saturday in March before the clocks go forward an hour. British springtime is here. The last few weeks have seen me knock out a novelette which expands the Kin, We Are mythos featured in Crossroads In The Dark, Vol.4. Following that, I offered myself out to handle beta work for a week or two - which (hopefully) helps out my fellow authors. The direct benefit for me is twofold. One, it helps train and maintain my critical eye. Two, in the event that I need eyes on the product, I'm more likely to get them, e.g. from those returning the favour. And because I'm 'always' working, there's a chance I'll need eyes on the product sooner rather than later. Usually when I offer myself up to beta, it's for short stories. 5000 words or less. The kind of story where I could turn around a beta in the space of a day, or an evening. But when I need a beta done, it's not necessarily a short story. More likely a novella. There has been a shift for me, in recent years, writing longer fiction. Again, as an author and reader, I prefer longer fiction because I find it a more immersive experience. I can sink myself into the story, lose myself in it. Earlier years had seen me write short fiction because it was faster to write, faster to edit and faster to submit. With open submissions and source updates on sites like HorrorTree, DarkMarkets and Ralan, I could cherry-pick the best places to submit my short fiction. In getting a number of short pieces sold, that elevates my brand, gets my name out there. All that good stuff. I have a preference for longer fiction, but that does rule what I write with an iron fist. If a story speaks to me and it's a short story, then so be it. As such, the muse still outruns, so I have a wealth of writing to catch up on anyway: from short stories to novels. And with short stories written so far, some still need to find a good home with a good publisher. So handling submissions also makes up part of the work that drives the machinery. As things stand at the moment, there'll be an additional couple of novellas that will likely drop at some point this year. While written, those works aren't yet publication ready, so work will need to be put in to get them there. Publisher edits, possible redrafts of scenes here and there, etc. That work takes time. Of course, I make time to get those done, but what's key is when that work is scheduled. My time - along with my energy and focus - are finite. There's only so much I can or want to handle at once. And as much as I love to keep the machine moving, I'm not a machine. So working smart is a factor. Beyond the work currently scheduled to drop, there's also time doing in public appearances. A convention here, a signing there, etc. Not necessarily me signing (since I've not done a signing since FantasyCon 3 years back), but to meet and support other authors and such. I do think there's one mid-month, but I'll be damned if I can remember specifics right now. Right now, the only events I can say with any certainty that I'll attend are Edge-Lit, FanExpo and FantasyCon. At least with FantasyCon this year, the last day of the 'Con is my birthday, so that means I may get to spend the birthday handling something not business-related. Anyhow. These also need to be weighed and scheduled. Because the bottom line is what drives the machine. The actual writing. I have a novella to edit. Working title is Semen. Pardon the pun, but this needs some clean-up, some refinement. The next novella will definitely be one of my more insidious and nastier pieces. The outline's already done for that one. Then comes the novel: and all I have for that so far is the elevator pitch. There's some research that needs to go into that, for sure. Most likely I'll keep this work on hold until the next novellas are out. Now I think about it, it may be a case of the sooner the new novellas are due for publication, the better. That means getting them wrapped and ready sooner, and then getting back to the business of writing. That's the machinery. Welcome to the machine, people.