Steampunk Fairy Tales: Volume 3 now available!

Read about it »

Sprint 8: Breaking into August; Reflecting on July

This past month, Leslie completed 100% of her tasks for three weeks in a row, and we ran out of pins to put tasks on the board.

A New Milestone

I began sketching a new web site layout in the past month. I don’t sketch much, and for good reason—I once drew a stick figure of a flame-breathing goose that our friend Lana told me looked like it was spewing after a night of heavy drinking.

It’s the first design I’ve liked. Everything I’ve done up until now was about having a clean layout that was mobile friendly and easy to use. When I first built the site, I needed something, not something great.



Now that we have a sketch, I’ve added “Good Website” as an end-of-year milestone.

July at a Glance

Leslie focused on paying back critiques to some authors that have given us more than they’ve received. She continued editing and posting chapters, as well as reaching out to book bloggers. Big River Steampunk Festival is coming up, so she devoted more time to making her corset. At some point she found time to scrawl a first draft for the Echo Chamber Heist blurb.

She also built an improved standing desk, since both of our wrists hurt when we sit for too long at a computer:



I continued cleaning (which is necessary for us to stay focused), editing, and critiquing. I resubmitted the print and kindle edition of Dream Eater’s Carnival after doing another full round of editing. I also ran another promotion.

We met with Lana to discuss a book cover for Echo Chamber Heist and decided to try something new, so we started learning Blender (3d modeling software).

On the fun side, we visited our friend Lauren Brush, who’s working on a farm in Michigan.



Our neighbor got a corgie puppy.



It finally started to rain less, so we were able to go swimming. The rain may have stopped, but now it’s so humid we could swim through the air. We also got our dogs a kiddie pool.



Leslie cut her hair. I used it as a toupee on the pups.



My good friend “Kneup” moved back home from China, so we put together some Legos while watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Later on, we watched Harold and Maude.



I scored over 2,000,000 on Black Knight 2000.



Our friends, Abby Evitt and Dave Cobern, got married.



We also celebrated my parents’ 40th wedding anniversary at the end of June, we just didn’t get a chance to go through our pictures:



The Numbers


  • 1 new milestone
  • 0 finished milestones


  • 82 finished tasks -- 14 finished scope creep tasks
  • 5 unfinished tasks from Leslie (all last week)
  • 13 unfinished tasks from me
  • 82/(82-14+5+13) = 82/86 = 95% completion of original plan




  • Some tasks just need to be done, not done well. Certain things, like websites, can always be improved later. Sometimes completing a “minimum viable product” is the best use of time. (However, this can get expensive if you hire someone else to build your site and want to redesign it later.)

  • Don’t rely on weekends to get things done. Surprises happen, which led to so many unfinished tasks in the fourth week. We’re fine with it because we finished so much, but that’s because Leslie shoots for attainable goals and Dave tries to include enough small tasks that can be finished in a single evening after work.

  • Consider aiming for 100% completion. Leslie and I have similar mindsets, but we work very differently. If Leslie has only one task left at the end of the week, she goes into overdrive to finish it. She is highly motivated by completion. I care about finishing milestones, but I have little control over my free time. I prefer to make lots of tasks, then just focus on completing the smaller ones if I come home late from work. See which approach works for you.

  • Focus on only one project. I’ve known this for some time now—it became apparent when I began working at a startup—but I don’t think I’ve said it yet. Having multiple projects is demotivating. You can’t make progress on that boat you’re building in your garage when you’re trying to write a book, too. Multiple projects compete with each other.

  • Future consideration: attributing difficulty to size of slip. I try to make all tasks a uniform size, based on how legibly I can write with a marker. Up until now, task size has had no significance. What if more important tasks, or more difficult tasks, or tasks we just really don’t want to do were represented by larger slips of paper?

Next Sprint

We’ve come to realize that book takes precedence above all other tasks. However, we’ve lived in this house for nearly three years and have barely made any changes. We try to make time, but our heart is in the book, not in painting rooms. And some of the previous owners’ design choices are driving us crazy.

For the next two weeks, we’ll do the bare minimum for the book—mostly just keep up with critiquing our friends. I’ll probably schedule a few promotions since we’re running out of days in this quarter. Other than that, it’s all about the house. We will still track our tasks using the cork board.



The last few weeks in August should go back to normal.

Related Articles

How DIY Should You Go?
In my last sprint article, I mentioned having multiple projects is demotivating because each project competes for your time. Whether you’re an indie author or traditionally published, writing a book is already many projects. Read on



Sprint 7: Two Week Goals are Here to Stay
It’s been a month, man. Countless social obligations, endless work around the homestead, and a three-day plague of migraines. If that wasn’t enough, I’ve been on the receiving end of some drama that left me bummed out. Read on
Random Articles

Day One at Big River Steampunk Festival
Labor Day weekend was a combination of quaint anachronisms and stunning performances at the Second Annual Big River Steampunk Festival in Hannibal, Missouri. Read on


Opening Lines of Fantasy Books
The following is a collection of opening lines to fantasy stories. I like to read first lines for inspiration, so I hope this collection will help you. Read on