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Reading

The last two months I’ve read a lot of books. It’s made me quite happy, so I thought I’d share them with you.

Fortunately the Milk by Neil Gaiman

A very short, humorous read about a father trying to get milk for his children. Fortunately the milk is there right when he needs it to deal with time traveling stegosauruses and pirates.

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

An amazing narrative about Kvoth, an unassuming bar keep that once had a magnificent life. Or so he says.
I listened to this on audiobook and I liked the narrator. He does great voices for each of the character and really helps you get into the story. Plus there are so many twists and turns to follow, and it’s such a long book, that I was happier listening to it then reading it on my phone.

Tiny Quest Staring Princess Sassafras by Matt Youngmark

Cute little paperback I picked up at Norwescon with nice illustrations. It’s a fun read, and a nice collectible.

Zombocalypse Now by Mat Youngmark

A terrible read in the fact that I KEEP DYING! The zombies just like my brains I guess. Great twist on the “Choose your own adventure” style of writing with 70+ endings, only 5 of which you survive in.

Hidden Shadows by SR Gilmore

A girl with no magical powers has to help a sexy guy from another plane of existence try to figure out why the hell there is a baby dragon dropped on his back step. The world building is great, and the tension between the two main characters is very well done.

Murder of Crows by Annie Belle

This is book two in the 20 sided sorceress series. I really liked the first so I picked up the second. There is romance, but I really enjoyed the gamer (table top and RPG) references.

Shaman Tales 1: South Coast by Nathan Lowell which I actually listened to on Podiobooks. It’s also on amazon.

I loved Nathan Lowell’s clipper ship stories so much that I was thrilled to find out he’d written this one. It’s about a fishing village and how they are trying to bring in enough fish to satisfy the corporate planets quota. Lots about commerce, efficiency, fishing, and just the every day life of traders. And then there is the shaman…

PS. If you like chose your own adventure, or text based games, you should look at this week’s Humble Mobile Bundle. It includes some great interactive stories that I’ve been playing in my spare time. You get to read and hand at the same time! https://www.humblebundle.com/mobile

 
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Posted by on April 22, 2015 in On Writing

 

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It got away with me…

3I have been trying to do VEDA (vlog every day in April) this month, but I am horrible at finding something to vlog about. Mostly I’m terrible at picking up my phone and vlogging even when I don’t feel like it. (Yesterday’s VEDA was about my board games.)

 

It’s like the same muscle you use to write, or do anything creative I think. You have to do it even when you don’t want it. It’s not learning to do that thing. I know how to vlog, and I know what works best for me to get the words out. I know that sometimes I have to stop the camera and start again, deleting the old footage. I know that I can’t really edit it much afterward or it will never get done. I know these things.

But the desire to do it, the…what is the word I’m looking for? The stick to it-ivness of things. Going on, and pressing forward even when you don’t want to do it. Tenacity? Persistence? Maybe both.

I think that mental muscle — the one that helps you do a thing that you want to do even when there is nothing in your life to help you do it, nothing to encourage you, no forth coming reward from doing it — has to be exercised like any other muscle in your body. The rewards are so intangible and distant that we have to persevere and find small rewards  before we find the large one at the end.

It’s like a dog getting a treat. You give him a treat for sitting, and he learns to sit when you tell him to. While all he cares about is the treat at first, the end result is a better environment, a happier home, and everyone has a better time of it in the end. But that end is so far off the dog can’t see that as the reward for his learning to sit on command. The two concepts can’t even meet in his mind, so instead he gets treats.

Humans, like dogs, can be trained in many ways. Our parents train us when we are younger. They teach us language, walking, sports. They influence our likes and dislikes. They teach us what is socially acceptable. And they even encourage self determination, or sitting in the back of the class and letting life happen to you.

Because that is what it all comes down to in the end. Are you sitting in the back of the class letting life happen to you, or are you actively chasing life by it’s tell and saying “this is what I want, this is what I’m doing, and this is how I’m going to try and get it. And if that doesn’t work then I’ll just try something else.”

My parents were very much of the first type. Sit down, shut up. Do as I say. Actually, it was more of a “we have our life, you go do anything that keeps you busy so you don’t interfere with our life.” My husband was the same. It was reinforced over and over for decades that I should be seen and not heard, and probably not seen most of the time either.

So I completely understand if you are having trouble taking initiative in your life. If you are having trouble coming out of the shadows and into the light. If you want to be seen and heard, and felt. If you want to be counted as a person with individual ideas and plans instead of part of the crowd. I understand, and I encourage it even when others are still telling you to sit down, shut up, and pay attention to what they are teaching. Even when the teachers are insisting that their way is the only way, so learn or get out. Even when the art council says “that’s not art because we don’t think so.” Even when every fiber in your body says “I want to sleep, or curl up on the couch and watch TV” instead of picking up the pen, or the paint brush, or the leather working tool.

I get it. I’m there with you. I want to create, but I also want to watch TV and read books. I want to lay out in the sun and watch the ocean dancing on the sand as the winds play over the vast expanse. I want to breath in the scent of delicate flowers, and fall into the soft nothingness of dreams.

And there is nothing wrong with all of those things. But the people who persevere, those who stretch that muscle that helps them to keep going even when everything is against them, they are the ones that will be remembered long after tomorrow has faded away. And that is a treat worth practicing for.

 
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Posted by on April 20, 2015 in Personal Notes

 

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I made a mistake

It has been brought to my attention that in yesterdays blog post I came off as unhappy with the editor who is working on my book. I’d just like to say that I’m very sorry for coming across that way, and that was not my intention.

Yesterdays post was about three things. My insecurities about my writing. My progress in dealing with those insecurities. And the idea that not everyone is going to mesh well together. I’m constantly working on the first two, and I’d like to say that just because two people don’t agree on everything it doesn’t mean one is right or wrong, it just means they didn’t mesh together well enough on that topic. It happens.

In this case…the issues were mine. The edits were incredibly professional and very well done. Less than 12 hours after posting that post I got back my second round of edits with a very nice email saying how much she liked the magic system I developed for the story, and that those scenes were her favorite parts. These kind words provided a much needed boost to my confidence.

It’s true that we are all in different places along our paths in life/career. Some of us are at the point where we can just separate ourselves emotionally from the things we create. Some are able to say, “That is the work and this is me and the critiques I get on that thing aren’t personal in any way.” Some of us aren’t able to make that separation. This experience has taught me that I am somewhere in between, and I freely admit it.

Am I unprofessional? Hell yeah. Am I insecure? Two for two! But I’m learning, and that was the entire point of yesterdays post…that I didn’t take the criticism well. I failed, and I wanted to run like a dog with their tail between their legs but I wasn’t going to let myself give up.

My current editor is fantastic, and is making my story better. I don’t know if she “gets me” yet, we haven’t talked enough for me to know that. All I know is that her work, her edits, are good and she did nothing wrong. All the fault was mine, and mine alone.

All of us who deal with editors know that there are good ones, bad ones, and a range of editors in between. Finding the right editor to work with means looking for one that does a great job, who understands your work and understands you. This takes time, and a lot of trial and error.

So, again, I’m sorry if I came across the wrong way. I really didn’t mean for it to seem I was attacking or upset with anyone in any way. I was just expressing the frustrations that a lot of new authors (new anythings really) have when they come face to face with their insecurities. I hope I keep moving forward, making strides to break my insecurities. What I do know is that I’m going to continue to write about that progress here. I think admitting I have issues is the only way to overcome them.

 
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Posted by on April 16, 2015 in Personal Notes

 

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I want to quit

(I added an addendum to this, so you might want to read that as well.)

I want to quit. I want to pull all my books off the Internet, go curl up in a ball, and cry myself to sleep.

How dare I even try to write an entire book. Who am I to think my words would be worth reading. They are stupid, grammatically incorrect, full of inconsistencies and pov issues, unworthy of anyone ever reading, let alone actually paying for.

I knew a lot of this before I wrote a novel. I knew, for example, that I almost always miss compound words because I just don’t know when a word is a compound or when it is two words. I often over use commas (according to some), and I sometimes forget to add dialog tags because I just don’t think about it.

I knew all of that, and more, but I dared to write a novel anyway.

Then I got the edits back, and I struggled through them for days. I learned about dialect issues, and phrasing. I learned that subtle points of description are sometimes pov issues. I learned that words and phrases I use every day aren’t considered “proper English.”

When done with the edits I was exhausted, sad, and feeling like I made a mistake. I expressed my frustrations and heard “the editor is only trying to help” and then I went in my room, and I cried.

Editing hurts.

This was my first “professional edit.” I’ve gotten edits before, but this was completely different, and it hurt. It cut deep and it left me thinking “what the hell was I thinking trying to write a novel? You’re not good enough, Crissy. You don’t even speak proper English, how can you write it? You never should have tried this.”

I’ll be honest. I haven’t written anything in three days. I’m trying. I look at the page and all I see are all the mistakes. I can’t get out of editing mode and get back to writing. And yes, some of it is definitly self pity, but a huge part of it is just me unsure if I am good enough to do this thing that I’ve always wanted to do. Is there a good enough?

Every editor I’ve had before has added some encouraging comments. They said they liked a line, or I used that punctuation right, or when returning the manuscript there is a note just saying how much they really enjoyed it.

This editor did none of those things.

Gregg reassures me that the editor is doing their job. They are paid to edit, not hold my hand and encourage me. And I get that, I really do. But it doesn’t sting any less.

I want to quit. I want to run away and forget I ever tried this.
But I’m not going to.

I still think my stories are good stories. I still think they deserve to be told. I want them to get out and be read.

Maybe it’s the “professional writer” part I’ll reevaluate, and just be happy being a pulp fiction writer. It’s not a bad thing. I love pulp fiction books. Millions of people read pulp fiction every day. Maybe it’s not exactly what I wanted, but it beats not writing at all.

Am I happy I did the editing? Not today. Today I’m raw and hurt and unsure of everything I’m doing. Give me some time and maybe I will be.

Did I learn anything from it? Lots of things. In that way this experience was good for me. Hopefully it will make my writing stronger. Only time will tell.

Will I do this again?

I’ll be honest with you…My confidence is a fragile thing. Every time I get shredded like this I hear the ex husband in my ear telling me over and over and over that I’m not good enough. No one will ever love me. No one will ever want me. “Who told you to think that way?” I hear it, and slip back into the victim I use to be. I start feeling useless and worthless like I will never, ever, be good enough for anything. And I retreat into the shell I carefully built around me to keep from being hurt. It makes me want to quit.

So no, I won’t be doing this exact process again. I need the little bits of hand holding, and encouragement. I need to know that the person editing my work genuinely likes it so that when the red ink starts flowing it doesn’t hurt quite as much.

Maybe in a few years my nerves will be a little less raw and I can try again. But not now…not after this one.

And the best part? I have two more rounds of editing to go. I’m going to do it. I’m going to pull up my big girl pants and I’m going to wade through the red ink. Then I’m going to go cry a little more and do it all over again.

Because sometimes making good art hurts like hell.

 
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Posted by on April 14, 2015 in On Writing

 

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Confessions of a Slow Writer

There are a lot of new books out this year aimed at helping writers learn to write fast. “Increase your word count to 2000, 5000, or even 10k words a day!” they proclaim in bright colored words across the cover. It’s the ideal, or so you would think from all the writing podcasts.

But what about the slow writers? It isn’t as though we CHOOSE to be slow. Some of us have day jobs, or children, or family obligations. Some of us can only write when our child takes a nap. Or in between classes at the local college. Or on breaks at work.

What we should keep in mind is that no one starts out writing at blazing fast speeds. We all had a first book, and 99.9% of those first books are horrible books that get shelved, or thrown away never to see the light of day again. A good majority of those books were written over the course of months, if not years. My first book, for instance, took five years to complete. I started writing it when I was 16. A few weeks after completing it I lost the file on my computer. It was just gone and there was nothing I could do about it. I did have half of the book printed out for later editing, but I was so depressed about the lost files after five years of writing that I haven’t ever looked at it again.

Parts of that first novel have spun off several other works. Several of the themes keep reappearing in my work, because they were my life. I’ve also added to the themes and characters as I got older, giving them more notes to expand upon.

After I complete each thing, be it novel or short story, I get a little faster at completing things. I’ve done NaNoWriMo six times now, and ‘won’ most of the time. The things that came out were often bad, but salvageable. They could be rewritten, edited, expanded upon.

One year for NaNoWriMo I wrote nothing but short stories. 50,000 words of short stories is a lot of short stories. I believe I completed five for that month. All of them are now published in my Small Bites collection, along with several others started during that time.

For the entire year of 2014, and NaNoWriMo of 2013, I worked on a project called “Mermaid’s Curse”. It has since been renamed to the “Witch’s Trilogy” and will start being published this year. I’m still working on books 2 and 3.

So the confession of this slow writer? I might be slow, but I’m still making progress. I’m still accomplishing my goal of putting out books, and completing my stories.

There are so many people around the self publishing community that are saying “write fast, the faster you write the better it is for you,” and they aren’t wrong. But some of us can’t write that fast… yet.

The more you practice, the better you’ll get at just letting yourself write and not getting in your own way.
The more you write the more comfortable you’ll be with the process.
The more stories you tell the better your stories will be the first time you write them.

It’s a process. It takes time. DON’T GIVE UP just because you’re a slow writer. Give yourself time to finish what you started, even if it takes months, or even years. You’ll get there.

 
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Posted by on April 1, 2015 in On Writing

 

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Around the Web

I’ve been busy writing and editing, and generally doing everything a writer should be doing, so I missed out on doing the “Around the Web” links. I have found a few interesting links the week.

One of these might be April fools jokes btw.

Jim Butcher to put Dresden books on Hiatus.

French newspaper still printing the newspaper with tech from a century ago.

This week I might be jailed for writing a book about human rights abuse.

Internet Archive adds 6000+ ebooks.

Douglas Adams made me a writer: by Neil Gaiman

Download 422 art books for free, from Metropolitan Museum of Art.

JK Rowling: Life after Harry Potter.

 
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Posted by on April 1, 2015 in On Writing

 

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When Hobbies become Jobs

I started writing a blog post and I realized I had a whole other thing on my mind, so I needed to write about that.

I’ve been following the Self Publishing Podcast for a while now. Long enough to watch Garrett go from fan, to writer with a day job, to full time writer, to writing full time and making a full living. It’s been an interesting thing to see. And Garrett is my friend, so I might be privy to things that aren’t necessarily on the podcasts we do.

What’s more, he isn’t the only author I’ve watched go through this transition. It’s a long hard road to go through. I’m hoping that I’ll start down that road myself soon.

At the moment my day job doesn’t interfere with my writing. I write mostly at night, and jot down a few notes every day at work. It works well. Part of me is actually afraid that if I quit my job I will lose my momentum to write.

Today was my day off. You’d think on a day off I could write more. But instead I played games, watched some youtube, and created some more resin charms. I did my hobbies, in other words, instead of what I am increasingly seeing as my “job”. Not working at the storage place, but rather writing my novels.

Many of us have this idea that if we could just do our hobby for a living we would always love our job and it wouldn’t be work. Maybe for some people that’s true, but there is also a great deal of work to go into it. And if you are self publishing, or creating your own store, then you have even more work. Marketing, packaging, analyzing, distribution.. you name it. It’s work.

It doesn’t make it less rewarding. Writing a novel is infinity easier on my body than digging a ditch, or power washing a gas station parking lot (both things I’ve done.) But writing a novel can be tough. Sometimes it’s emotionally draining to write emotional scenes. Some days you just want to give up when the words don’t come. Sometimes you’re frustrated because it seems like your words are falling on deaf ears. Maybe it doesn’t hurt you physically, but it can break you emotionally.

When writing started to become my career path instead of just a hobby I started taking up other hobbies to replace it. Crafting, gaming on twitch, reading more. Things I’ve always enjoyed, but things that require less brain power to accomplish. Sometimes you just need a break.

making your hobby into your career isn’t a magic button. It does not make you instantly happy, though I bet it’s an amazing feeling to tell your boss you quit (something I won’t be doing for another year or three.) It’s probably wonderful to be free of corporate pressures to produce, sell, achieve. But you’re replacing it with your own pressure to produce, sell, and achieve.

The real difference, the thing I want more then anything, is that instead of working for some nameless corporation that doesn’t give two nickels about you personally, for a job you aren’t even sure will be there next year or next week, you are working for yourself. When things get bad you have no one to blame but you. When you don’t work no one will complain but you (and maybe your readers.)

Making your hobby into a job is still a job. But it’s your job. Your business. You control it. If that sounds great then go for it. Otherwise… maybe don’t quit your day job.

 
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Posted by on March 27, 2015 in On Writing

 

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