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Sprint 18: Trying To Hit Our Stride

May turned out exactly as we expected: I focused on freelance work, Leslie studied hard, we made some progress in Bitlather Chronicles #2, and we planned our next story for Steampunk Fairy Tales.

Last Sprint

I’m leading the Steampunk Fairy Tales group this time, and we just finished two deadlines: inviting more authors, and getting everyone to confirm commitment. I’m please to say four new authors have joined us, and we expect the next collection to contain eleven stories!

In terms of writing, we figured out our next story for Steampunk Fairy Tales 2.

I’ve been working on a first draft of our second full-length book in the mornings. I’m looking forward to taking a break from work and dedicating 100% of our time to this in the future.

In other news, another agent requested the full manuscript for Echo Chamber Heist. I’ve started to leisurely browse and Twitter’s #MSWL in search of potential agents, since it’s a slow process.

I’m still watching Unity tutorials on Udemy, because I’d love to make a game with Leslie when she finishes Academy Pittsburgh. She’s been focused on class and gardening, and has written an introduction for our next Steampunk Fairy Tale.

The Numbers

There was a lot of scope creep last sprint, mostly because we didn’t really plan. We knew there wouldn’t be much time, with Leslie in class and studying, me working extra hours, and both of us gardening.



  • 23 planned tasks (Leslie: 5, Dave: 18)
  • 33 finished tasks (Leslie: 6, Dave: 27)
    • 20 finished planned tasks (Leslie: 3, Dave: 17)
    • 13 finished scope creep tasks (Leslie: 3, Dave: 10)

Although it’s not a competition, I think this might be the first time I’ve accomplished more tasks than Leslie. (I’m concerned Leslie will make it into a competition when she reads this.)


  • Write a collection with other authors. When it comes to self publishing, there’s a lot of bad resources, money-holes, and time-wasters. Working with other authors opens discussion with people you trust, and helps readers discover your other books. It’s also a load of fun, and forces you to try new things.

    For more information, see my blog post on self-publishing a collection with other authors.

  • If you quit your job, be sure to have many months’ worth of living expenses in the bank. I recently quit my full-time job to try freelance work, and I haven’t seen a paycheck since February.

    There’s a few reasons:

    1. I took some time off to finish Echo Chamber Heist.

    2. I didn’t find any work until April.

    3. Clients have 30 days to pay, and are billed monthly.

    Leslie and I have been living off of our savings account for the past three-and-a-half months, which hasn’t been a problem since I saved for this. I wanted to have the freedom to one day not work a salaried, full-time job.

    Still, I’m looking forward to refilling my savings account.

  • Know your breaking point. Whether it’s writing, schooling, or a new job, figure out how much is too much, then back off. Working all the time doesn’t mean you’re being productive. That’s why Leslie and I began using a cork board to track our work, and why I discuss life outside of writing in these sprint articles.

  • Get out and meet people. Specifically, people that do things. I’ve mentioned this before, but it’s so important. I’ve been back in Pittsburgh for almost four years now, and most of my connections were just co-workers. It wasn’t until I quit my job and started meeting people in the area that I learned about local opportunities. This is how Leslie got into a developer boot camp for free.

  • Don’t go to work sick. Don’t do it. I don’t want to get sick. If you go to work sick and make me sick, I’m going to be mighty disappointed with you. In fact, I’ll probably just go home.

    Work consumes enough time as-is. It’s unfair when it takes your evenings and weekends, too, whether it’s due to fevers or crushing deadlines.

  • Get exercise. I usually run on the track in nice weather, but Leslie and I have been gardening, instead. Just this past week, we moved 2 tons of dirt and 1 ton of rocks. Gardening takes time, but it forces you to get fresh air, exercise, and eat healthier. Our neighbors stop by to chat, too, so it’s one more way for me to see people when I mostly work from home.

Next Sprint

Leslie is going to focus on writing Steampunk Fairy Tales 2 and finding agents.

I’m going to focus on critiquing currently posted Steampunk Fairy Tales stories, the second Bitlather Chronicles book, and writing a few articles.



Reflecting on May

I’ve been getting to know the dogs pretty well.



We borrowed Leslie’s brother’s truck for gardening, so Leslie drew a scene from the Rick and Morty pilot as one of our thank-yous.



We attended Banjo Night with an old college friend, Olya, and some of Leslie’s Academy Pittsburgh classmates.



I had a mighty hankerin’ for some ice cream.



We pushed around some dirt and gravel to build our gardens.



Leslie attended an event where our friend, Lana, contributed to a tarot deck.



We attended Rave and Morty, a Rick and Morty themed rave for all ages. It was our first rave. Leslie built our Meeseeks costumes two hours before we left.



Niko used his talents to acquire yogurt.



Leslie got some fresh air with her classmates at Academy Pittsburgh.



She was also featured in another Academy Pittsburgh video.



It was time for Leslie to give Niko his Annual Bad Haircut.



We visited Pinball Perfection. I played terribly, so I focused on new techniques and trying machines I don’t normally play. I fell in love with the Kiss game. The music, lighting, and sound effects all pack a wallop of energy. I gravitate toward machines that nail excitement (Black Knight 2000) or have a humor to them (Elvira).



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