History That Never Was

Home of Dawn Vogel: Writer, Historian, Geek

My Giant Spreadsheet of Doom, Part 2

Posted By on July 10, 2017

(For the first details on my giant spreadsheet of doom, click here.)


Last time, I talked about how the rows on my giant spreadsheet of doom worked for planning out my various projects. Now, we’re looking at how I use the columns.

As I mentioned before, each column represents a week, with my weekly calendar at the top. So here you can see what I was up to in late June through the bulk of July. We’ve been busy. ūüôā

But the part we’re really looking at here is below the second gray bar–the stuff between the two gray bars is the miscellaneous tasks that I do to keep things running in terms of¬†Mad Scientist Journal, my blog, my craft business, and other things like that (stuff that I get done early in the morning or during my lunch break at work). But if you look beneath that second gray bar, we get into the actual projects I’m working on.

These say things like “write 14,” “write,” or “revise” for this week. Which is very clever code for writing and revising. Specifically, it means that this week I should be writing chapter 14 of the novel I’m currently working on, doing the last bit of writing on one story, revising a different story, and also working on the RPG we’re writing. With this view, you can’t see what the projects I’m working on are, but since the sections below that gray bar are (from top to bottom) novels, self-publishing, and short stories, you can get the gist of it.

So how do I schedule my work beyond this? I kinda don’t. Each week, I know what the projects I need to get done are. I try to write every day of the week except for Wednesdays and Fridays. I also have a pretty good sense of how much I can write in a given amount of time (1,000 words per hour is not unusual for me on a first draft). So I take a broad look at the week, and then tentatively slot each of the projects into specific days. But if something comes up, I rearrange it.

Looking at this week, I’m actually really set. Since Jeremy was at a gaming event yesterday, I had plenty of time to work on stuff. Didn’t want to work on the game we were writing, since he wasn’t available to consult with me on questions, so I worked on revisions for my short story instead, since that’s a good solitary activity. Tonight, the calendar is wide open, so I’ll either try to finish up writing that short story, or I’ll work on chapter 14. Tomorrow, I’ve gotta run an errand early in the evening, but then Jeremy has his ASL class, so I’ll probably sit down and work on a section of chapter 14. On Thursday, we have our evening writer’s group, so that’ll be more working on the novel. And then my show on Saturday isn’t until the afternoon, so I’ll have a little bit of time to write in the morning–probably finishing up the short story or whatever I haven’t gotten to on chapter 14. Or, if everything else is done, I could work on the game. (The game is also something I work on during my lunch break, occasionally, so I’m less concerned about formally scheduling that. It also doesn’t need to be ready for anything until November, so I’ve got some time.)

There’s a little more detail for scheduling that has to do with how much work I give myself in a given week, and what it took to get me to that point, but I’ll talk more about that next week!

Fun for Friday: Names in Other Decades

Posted By on July 7, 2017

Arya Stark as Death of the EndlessHave you ever wondered how popular your name was in the year you were born? Ever wondered what your name would have been if you were born a decade earlier or later? Or have you ever been looking for just the right name for a character in a story or game? Look no further than this nifty widget that tells you where your name ranked in popularity the year you were born, but also gives you the similarly popular names for recent years, as well as each decade back to the 1890s!

Turns out that Dawn was the 23rd most popular name in the year I was born. If I had been born last year, and my parents had opted for the 23rd most popular name of 2016, I’d be Aria. (I’m bummed that it’s not Arya, like Arya Stark. Then that picture to the right would TOTALLY be me!)

Just Six More Days for the Young Explorer’s Adventure Guide Kickstarter!

Posted By on July 6, 2017

2018 Young Explorer's Adventure Guide coverIf you haven’t had a chance yet to check out this year’s Kickstarter for the 2018 Young Explorer’s Adventure Guide, now is the time! The campaign has about 6 days left, and we’re SO CLOSE to being funded! Even if you’re not interested in reading a book of short stories for kids, there are a number of backing levels that let you sponsor copies for schools and libraries!

Review of Cassilda’s Song

Posted By on July 5, 2017

Cover art for Cassilda's SongI’ve got a new review up at¬†Mad Scientist Journal today, this time for¬†Cassilda’s Song, an anthology of 18 stories in the King in Yellow mythos by women authors. Check out my review to learn more about it!

Holiday Reading: Sparx & Arrows

Posted By on July 4, 2017

Cover art for Sparx & ArrowsLooking for a little light reading for the Fourth of July? Sparx & Arrows, which is only 99 cents in ebook format, includes five fun stories of super heroics in Cobalt City. As an added bonus, two of the stories involve clockwork American presidents, which even makes it thematically appropriate for the Fourth of July! Great for reading while you await the grill heating up for a BBQ or until the fireworks start!

My Giant Spreadsheet of Doom, Part 1

Posted By on July 3, 2017


For several years now, I’ve been using a giant spreadsheet of doom to keep myself on track in terms of all of my writing projects. Because it sometimes comes up when talking with other writers, about how I keep myself organized, or how I get so much done, I thought I’d give you all a little glimpse into my organization process.

My co-worker who I share an office with has seen this spreadsheet, and she calls it a Gantt chart. This isn’t something I had heard of prior to making my spreadsheet. This was just what made sense to me in terms of keeping track of my projects!

My calendar is at the top. Each week gets a column, and each day of the week is a row. I list out the various things I have going on for the week there. This includes all sorts of stuff, some of which gets wild acronyms so that everything fits on a single line, regardless of how packed the day is. The colors all mean something too–I’m usually purple, my husband is green, and our combined things are dark blue-green. But pinkish is for date night, various shades of blue are¬†for regularly scheduled writing things (at coffee shops), and yellows and golds are¬†for regular gaming. Sometimes I break those color rules, if we’ve got something going on that isn’t the normal stuff. There’s an upcoming convention in a pinkish-purple color because we’re going so that I can be on panels, rather than so that we can sell books or crafts or game.

Beneath that, I have a section for the things that generally have something due for them on a weekly basis, or at least a recurring basis. For me, this is things like Mad Scientist Journal and related anthology work, posting to my blog and the MSJ blog, reviewing books for MSJ and Girl Cooties, projects for Jeremy and other potential editing work, and my craft business. When the work is done, I can strike through it, or bracket it if only part of it is done. I use a lot of abbreviations here, too, again to keep each row as a single line. (I adjust column widths occasionally, but I try to keep them pretty small so I can see a lot of columns at the same time.)

Then we get into the non-regular writing projects. The next section down is for the novels I’ve got planned. (How many? Too many. This spreadsheet currently goes into 2021 …) These get rearranged a lot, depending on what I think I want to work on next. At the moment, I’m chugging along on a trilogy, so I’ve got those at the top, and I won’t get a chance to work on other things until later. This section includes both writing (first drafts) and editing (subsequent drafts), though only the writing portions are showing right now.

The next¬†section is for my self-publishing projects–mostly short story collections or novellas, but also a game that we’re working on. These are usually tightly compact little sections, as I’ve normally done the vast majority of the writing and editing work on these before they reach this stage. The game is the exception to this, because we recently decided to give it a major rewrite. So there’s a whole lot of “revise” for that.

Finally, the bottom section is for short stories. There are a lot more rows beneath what you can see. A lot of those rows say “TBD,” because I don’t know what short stories I might want to write next year … though I do have some already figured out down the road.

For those final three sections, when I’ve finished a project, I pull the whole row. Depending on what the project was, it typically gets recorded on a different sheet in the spreadsheet (which is something to explain another day). So I can look at my spreadsheet at any given time to see the projects that I’m working on and where I’ve got projects coming up. When I get a new idea, I make a new row or fill in a TBD row.

Next Monday, I’ll talk about the columns and how I plan out what I’ll be working on each week! Check back then for more on the giant spreadsheet of doom!

June 2017 recap

Posted By on July 1, 2017

By the numbers:

Stories out at the beginning of the month: 23
Acceptances received: 1
Rejections received: 13
Stories withdrawn: 1
Resubmissions: 14
New Submissions: 2
Stories out at the end of the month: 25

Pretty good month in June, since I managed to finish and submit a couple of stories. One was written for a specific market, so here’s hoping that one finds a home there. The other one may prove to be a hard sell, simply because of the audience it’s written for, but I may also revise it slightly for another specific market. I’ve already announced the one acceptance, in the Goddesses of the Sea anthology. And I had one story that I pulled from a market because the market seems to have gone dead. Finally, I found a good potential home for another reprint, so that went out too!

In June, I also started a new unplanned story (codename: violin) and finished the first draft of that. It was theoretically for an anthology call, but wound up about half the length it would have needed to be for their minimum word count. But I still really like it at the length it’s at, so perhaps I’ve got to write something different for that anthology call.

I also finished the two new stories (stamps and tour) and got them making the rounds, and finished the first draft of another story (burn). And I’ve been chugging along on B&G2, though more slowly than I’d like. And I’ve worked some on Cross & Circle and Austenworld. I wrote one review and read another book that I’m almost done reviewing.

Wow, when I break that all done, June looks really awesome! This was also with a few different house guests over the course of the month too!

For July, my plans are:

  • Finish the review I’m working on, read another book, and review it.
  • Write through chapter 16 of B&G2 (roughly 5 chapters).
  • Get¬†Cross & Circle cleaned up and ready to publish.
  • Revise burn and violin, and get those circulating.
  • Write a new story (codename: clones).
  • Work on AustenWorld.

And we’ve got the read-through for¬†Utter Fabrication looming in the wings. Looks like another busy month!

Fun for Friday: Get Sorted!

Posted By on June 30, 2017

Sorting hatWith the twentieth anniversary of the Harry Potter books, all sorts of sorting quizzes have been making the rounds. But I’m particularly fond of this one, wherein Time magazine teamed up with researchers from Cambridge University in order to make a more personality-based test rather than the typical tests that ask questions from within the world of Harry Potter. You can also opt to have your answers used (anonymously, of course) by the Cambridge researchers who helped develop this quiz. Neat!

There’s also a map of which Houses are most prevalent in which state. Strangely, Washington is a weird mix of Hufflepuff and Gryffindor, so I may not be the typical Washington resident. When I took the test above, I scored almost 80% Ravenclaw, with almost 20% Hufflepuff, less than 1% Slytherin, and absolutely no Gryffindor at all! I wasn’t surprised by my first or second top scores, but I was a little disappointed that the last two weren’t reversed!

Stories for Your Reading Enjoyment!

Posted By on June 29, 2017

Cover of Robert W. Chambers' The King In YellowEvery once in a while, I check all of the websites where my stories have been published to see what’s still out there for free. This is useful stuff for when I’m selling reprints, but today’s round-up also means that I’ve got a stack of links for my readers! As a note, several of these are a little bit on the creepy side, so you might want to steer clear of reading them just before bed!

Bringing Light to the World“: A¬†retelling of an old Pacific Northwest myth about the sun, as well as why ravens have black feathers. (At Fickle Muses)

Miasma“: Dani finds the new director in the theater department more than a little unnerving, but she has barely scratched the surface on just how weird things are about to get. A slightly creepy King in Yellow story. (At NonBinary Review)

Terpsichore“:¬†Unable to find the inspiration for a performance for her dance troupe, Mia calls upon a muse and gets far more than she bargained for. (At EGM Shorts)

Donning the Helm“: An archaeological dig turns up something unanticipated. (At 87 Bedford;¬†there’s also an audio version of this story here.)

One for Every Year“:¬†Julia Prynn doesn’t know how she came to be bound to a painting in a hotel, but she’s about to find out how to break the curse. (At Digital Fiction Pub QuickFic; this story will have an audio version in just a few weeks!)

“Donning the Helm” can also be found in my collection, Unfixed Timelines, where it is accompanied by an article that talks about the realities of nineteenth-century archaeology. Many of these other stories will appear in an upcoming collection,¬†Volatile Figments, which will be out in early October.

Free Books to Review from Apex Book Company

Posted By on June 28, 2017

I’ve currently got a stack of books about a mile high to review (or they would be, if they weren’t all on my Kindle!), but if you’re looking for an excellent way to a) read new books, b) FOR FREE, and c) help out authors in the process, check out the Apex¬†Book Company’s Minions Read and Review¬†program! All you have to do is agree to honestly review the books they send you on Amazon and at least one other review site. And once you’ve reviewed one, you can go back for another! This is a super cool way to read new and interesting¬†books!