Category Archives: Personal

Stuff about me, my process, or my writing.

Change Is In the Air

It’s December, which means it’s time to chill, prop up my feet, and relax.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHA

Okay, for real, it means that I have a lot of work to do. Knights 5 is in revisions. Darkside Seattle: Mechanic is also in revisions. Once those are taken care of, it’s time to apply grinding things to various body parts for The Greatest Sin 6. And things just kinda keep going from there. My 2017 publication schedule was sparse, and there are good, honest reasons for that, but it’s not going to happen again in 2018.

This post, though, is about change.

For the next year, and longer if I can maintain it, I have set myself a goal to release one new short story every single month, whether I have a book release or not. Even during NaNoWriMo, even in the summer when I’m on the road every day.

It’ll be awesome, and you can watch my descent into madness in real time.

But wait! There’s a twist.

Every short story in this barrage will go on my website, this very page, for free. For one week. On the second Tuesday of every month, starting next week, December 12th, you can read it here. The story will run anywhere from 1k to 10k words, and it will fit into one of my four main world categories: Spirit Knights, Maze Beset, The Greatest Sin, or Ilauris.

(Given the nature of Darkside Seattle and the breadth of my audience, it won’t be included. Sorry.)

On the third Tuesday of every month, that story will disappear from my website forever, replaced by a link to buy it for 99 cents USD on Amazon or Kobo.

Do you want an email nudge from me when the story is free? Plus reminders about events I’m working and books I’m releasing? Look! I have a newsletter! There’s a link in the menu bar and everything! It’s amazing how this digital age stuff works. Almost like magic.

I hope you enjoy the stories and I look forward to writing them.

Sprinting To The End #NaNoWriMo

At this point, my final NaNo wordcount is looking to be around 90k. Some of those words were easy, and others were hard. I contended with two conventions and one conference, and also the first anniversary of my father’s passing. For an extra challenge, a friend with terminal cancer passed last week when I thought she still had a few more months, and I’ve had some in-house medical drama here.

If you’re a Greatest Sin fan, the medical drama was not about my health. I promise that, though I have a cold right now, I’m fine. Erik is fine too. Yes, I’m drinking plenty of fluids and taking care of myself.

Anyway, I’ll finish the current book later today, most likely, and then see if I can bang out a short story or two between then and Thursday.

If you’ve won or are about to, congrats! I hope you enjoy/ed the congratulatory video.

If you didn’t win and don’t think you will, I feel your pain. Those who’ve been following along already know my basic advice. To sum up: don’t be hard on yourself.

For those who didn’t finish the story, regardless of your wordcount, I recommend keeping on with the keeping on until you finish the story. After November, don’t neglect the rest of your life, but carve out a little time for you and your new writing habit. If 500 words per day fits into your life, then write 500 words per day.

For myself, I have to get back to a bunch of things I let fall by the wayside. On Friday, I have a mountain of tasks to tend, including some long-ignored gaming. Then I have a bunch of planning to work on for 2018.

Whatever you like from my catalog, there will be something for you in 2018. Darkside Seattle: Mechanic will be out soon. Knights 5 has a firm release date of March 27, with a cover reveal coming soon. The Greatest Sin #6 is slated for a soft release date (meaning it might slip) in late May. If all goes well, the next Ilauris book will release in October 2018, and another Darkside Seattle will follow shortly after. For all the supers fans, my next supers book has a soft release date in early July (though it doesn’t involve Bobby and the gang). I have other projects, but can’t commit to any release dates (not even soft ones) for any of them yet.

I’ll also have a bunch of short stories for ya’ll, and I’ve got some stuff in upcoming anthologies. Watch for announcements about Undercurrents, Hideous Progeny, and more! If we’re lucky, we’ll also have Clockwork Conjurations next fall.

What else is on the horizon? Clockwork Dragon, the author’s co-op I co-founded, will open up a Patreon in January. The goal of our Patreon will be to help us pay for our event tables, which will give us breathing room to cut back a little bit on the events and write even more. And that’s really what we all want–more stories. Link coming soon! I hope you’ll consider spending a few bucks to support a group of four indie authors that happens to include me.

Which is to say that November’s fun is about to give way to real life. I hope you had a Happy Thanksgiving!

The Week 3 Blues #NaNoWriMo

I spent this past weekend at a convention in Portland, which means I didn’t write much. I’ve already validated and won, of course, but the book isn’t done yet, so I’m still working. I just emerged from the darkest part to where the heroes start winning for realsies. The home stretch. The hardest part, in some respects.

If you’re on track, that’s awesome! W00t! Keep on keeping on! Good luck keeping up your word count over the holidays, because that can be rough. Lock yourself in the bathroom for a little while if that’s the only way to escape Uncle Bob who wants to drone about politics.

If you’re not on track, you should know that many folks give up by week 3. Once you fall behind, it can be incredibly challenging to stare at that graph and feel motivation to churn out words and catch up. Especially when your story is starting to grate on you, or it isn’t coming out like you thought it would, or you have another shiny idea you want to flit to like a butterfly seeking cocaine.

Things to consider if you’re struggling:

First drafts suck, especially when you’re new to novel-length storytelling. The vast majority of us who NaNo and have become published hide our first few NaNo novels from the world because they’re awful. And when I say awful, I mean they don’t have enough redeeming value to be worth spending the time revising.

Writing itself is supposed to be pleasurable. Your brain should get a rush when it’s high on storytelling. If you never feel even a smidge of that, maybe you’re trying to tell the wrong kind of story. Storytelling is best when it comes from passion. Your passion, not someone else’s. What do you love? What are you driven to explore? What makes you feel a sense of wonder? Write about that.

If you’re fine with starting things and never finishing them, that’s okay. Not everyone is going to write books and publish them, and that’s perfectly fine. I won’t look down on you for counting all your words from three or four different works you started and never finished. Anyone who does is an asshole.

And that’s the thing. Writing is personal. It’s an individual sport, not a team effort. Publishing is a team effort, but writing is very much not. For some folks, 1667 per day, every day, just isn’t going to happen. 500 per day, 5 days a week except for vacation, is a respectable writing pace that can next you 100-130k per year. 5000 per weekend is also fine, and will get you as much as 260k per year.

If the problem is about how much planning you did or didn’t do, it’s fine to sit down and just let your fingers barf out whatever comes to mind. Grab some pictures and use them as prompts to write some flashfic or short stories. Write some fanfic. Do an enhanced outline, where you get detailed about what you want in the book, but don’t actually write narrative prose.

Have fun. If you’re not having fun, either stop or change up with you’re doing.

#NaNoWriMo Halfway Point #amwriting

It’s halfway through NaNo, and I’ve got my 50. For those new to the realm of me, that’s a little slow, but ultimately fine. My goal this year is to write a specific novel which has a fluid target wordcount of 80-100k , and I don’t see a problem with finishing it at my current pace.

So far, this November, I’ve:

Removed and put away the Halloween decorations
Taken Taekwando classes with my son
Worked Jet City Comic Con
Attended a writing conference in Seattle
Handled my daughter’s major allergy attack
Handled not one, but TWO of my daughter’s major panic attacks
Shuttled my kids to doctor’s appointments that I was stupid enough to schedule in November
Had a dentist appointment that I was also stupid enough to schedule in November
Endured drama over Oddmall and Orycon
Constructed additional pylons display paraphernalia for the Clockwork Dragon show table
Failed to get a full night’s sleep for NO REASON at least 8 of the past 14 nights
Maintained about a 3,400 daily wordcount

I still have on my plate: one more kid doctor appointment, Orycon, Thanksgiving, and Christmas decorating.

If, after reading my list, you feel that maybe you’re not worthy, knock it off. I’m annoyed because I should be able to crank out 150 in November, and the most I can see for this month is maybe 100. I had plans for that extra 50. Plans, my friends. Lots of plans. We all have different targets, different plans, and different goals.

I admire the person who set a goal of 53k and is right now a little above the official target wordcount. You, whoever you are, have a firm grasp of your speed, ability, and schedule. That has probably already served you well for many moons and undoubtedly will continue to for many more.

I admire the person who put forth as much effort as they possibly could and gave NaNo an honest try before giving up. You took a plunge into the unknown, discovered it wasn’t your cuppa or didn’t fit into your life, acknowledged that, and stopped instead of beating your head against a wall. Stubbornness can be useful, but knowing your personal limits is invaluable.

Not all of us are writers, and that’s okay. Not all of us writers are NaNo-material, and that’s okay.

If you’re struggling, take a long, hard look at your pain:gain (that’s ratio of pain to gain).

Is the struggle making you stronger? Awesome. Keep going! You can do it! I believe in you!

Is the struggle stressing you out, giving you nightmares, turning your life upside down, causing arguments with people you love, harming your health, or otherwise making your life a living hell? Goodness gracious, stop. Maybe it’s things that happened/are happening this year, or maybe NaNo isn’t the right tool for you to meet your goals. I still believe in you and your ability to meet those goals. Losing NaNo doesn’t make you a failure, not even as a writer.

Keep on keeping on, my friends. Stay wordy.

#NaNoWriMo Week 1 Wrap #amwriting

It’s Day 7 and you’re in one of three places: on target, below target, or over target.

If you’re on or over target, that’s awesome! Me too! High five! Keep truckin’ and you’ll ace this thing. Don’t forget to ask your fellow NaNos for help if you get stuck so you can keep going.

If you’re below target, let’s talk.

There are a zounds-load of reasons why anyone can be below target right now. Maybe you had a personal or family disaster. You might’ve underestimated the amount of time it takes you to write 1667 words. The story could be refusing to work. This writing thing is harder than you thought. OMG, the news.

And so on.

Here are some important things to think about:

  1. Whatever you have written now, it’s that many more words than you had written on Halloween.
  2. Winning NaNo is not that big a deal. It’s cool and all, but in the grand scheme of things, it’s about as useful as turning in your homework a day early.
  3. Losing NaNo doesn’t mean you aren’t a “real” writer.
  4. Wherever you’re at, you’re probably only one or two super-productive days from being on target again.
  5. The physical and mental health of yourself and your loved ones is so much more important than writing.
  6. Losing NaNo doesn’t mean you aren’t a “real” writer.
  7. If your writing days are getting more productive, you’ll probably be fine, because your creative muscles are growing.
  8. Write-ins are a really great way to meet other people in the same boat. You’re not alone.
  9. Losing NaNo doesn’t mean you aren’t a “real” writer.

And finally, losing NaNo doesn’t mean you aren’t a “real” writer. I know a lot of professional writers, and while most of them have heard of NaNo, less than half participate. It’s not for everyone.

But don’t give up just because it’s hard! If you have a story to tell, tell that story. Maybe your life will only give you time to write 500 words per day right now. Write those 500 words. Get into the habit. If you write 500 words per day, you’ll write 15,000 words by the end of the month. You know what 15,000 words equals?

About 1/4 of a novel. (Also, 2-3 short stories or one novella.)

Get back into those word mines, penmonkey!

#NaNoWriMo #NaNoPrep Is Done, Dude

Halloween. AKA the Last Day Before NaNo.

I have no idea how you get a cat to sit still long enough to do this to it.

Some of you will begin writing at 12:01am tomorrow morning for your time zone. The rest of us have more appreciation for sleep and will begin at a more sane hour. Whenever you plan to start, make sure you get these things done before the end of today:

  1. Create your novel on NaNoWrimo.org. It’s in your Author Dashboard. You only have to fill in a title, and it can be anything, including “This is the Title.” The rest is optional.
  2. Set up your writing document in whatever fashion is most comfortable for you. If you like writing in a particular font, put down “Chapter 1” and change it to that font. Fix whatever else makes you happy.
  3. Put at least a shortcut to the blank document on your desktop (or in your favorites bar if you use an online wp like Google Drive).
  4. Know your plan for backing up the doc. If you’re using a cloud-based program, you’re all set. If you’re not, are you working off a flash drive? Are you going to save to a flash drive every x minutes/hours? Email it to yourself once a day?
  5. Visualize the opening of the first scene. Be ready to start writing when you sit down.
  6. Have at least one day of eating planned. It’s better if you have multiple days, but one day is a good start!
  7. Attend to any chores you’d ordinarily do by the end of the week. If you have something, like laundry, that doesn’t make sense to do early, set yourself up so that chore is easy to get to and easy to get done with minimal interruptions for your writing time.
  8. Set your DVR to record things you’d usually watch and say goodbye to your TV.
  9. Make a firm commitment to stay off social media except to proclaim your wordcount or check in with your region’s accounts (if your region has them). Set up a timer to keep your visits to ten minutes or less.
  10. If you haven’t already, bookmark your home region’s page on the NaNo website so you can update your wordcount, check the write-in calendar, and find local NaNo news with one click.
  11. Arrange your workspace so it’s comfy and welcoming.

May the words be ever in your favor. So write we all.

#NaNoPrep Season: Panicking With Style

As of today, there’s one full week left before NaNo starts. The clock is ticking. It feels real.

I get excited this time of year, because I know I’ll be fine. After 9 wins under wildly varying conditions, I’m so confident that I work conventions in November. There’s just something about NaNo that cranks my output to 11.

If this is your first time, or if you haven’t managed to win yet, you may have a different view. We’re getting down to the wire here. The thing is about to start. No matter how much prep you’ve already done, I’ll bet you can think of ten things that you’ll never get to in time, or ten problems you anticipate colliding with NaNo. Or just one really big thing looming that you know is going to crap all over your November.

As far as I’m concerned, there are two main things you need to win at NaNo.

  1. Confidence. Do or do not. There is no try. You’re gonna write a darn novel, and you’re gonna do it in 30 darn days, darnit. (Feel free to insert harsher words as you see fit.)
  2. Time. Let’s face it–all the confidence in the world isn’t going to mean diddly or squat if you can’t get your butt into that chair and put your fingers on that keyboard for long enough to type 1667 words per day.

Sure, you need ideas, a plot, characters, blah blah blah, but if you don’t have these two critical things, the rest doesn’t matter.

Now, I can’t help you with the time issue. That’s all on you. Most folks can find the time by turning off the TV and/or Facebook for the month.

As for confidence, I challenge you to take a moment every morning, look at yourself in a mirror, and tell yourself that you will succeed according to your favorite paradigm or idiom. Use Klingon if that helps. (I suggest Heghlu’meH QaQ jajvam!, which means “Today is a good day to die”.) You put that quitter in the mirror on notice. None of their crap during November. It’s all writing and victory.

Do it twice a day if you need to. Ask a friend or loved one to point at you and call you a dirty novelist. Get a NaNo t-shirt to support the cause and wear it every day as a good luck charm (Wash it sometimes, though. Please.). Write “you’re a writer” on pieces of paper and tape them to things around your dwelling.

Time to get your head in the game.

You’re a writer, dammit. Act like one.