Writing On A Schedule

So my plan was to make fiction. One novella and three novels. Follow the recipe. Eat the cake.

All sweetness. The sweetest ever.

Well, the writing had other plans.

Instead of coming up with one novella and three novels I had two novels and two separate collections of short stories.

And I also had this SCHEDULE I was trying to keep because I had goals/delusions of professionalism.

Well, I threw the holy schedule away.

Because the creative process does not stop. It is a flood. And the flood said, “You will come with me or else.”

Throughout the course of writing The Slaughter Chronicles I have learned so much about how to write a continuing story line and a lot about myself as a writer. My character Regina came into my head in 2014 and in 2016 I put her on the page for the first time. It’s 2019 now and even though YOU only have one tiny novella about her, I have all the stories, and putting them on paper has been a challenge and a joy.

So now instead of one novella and three novels and instead of two novels and two short story collections, I have two novellas, one novel, and two short story collections.

This is what happens when I try to write. I make a thing (novel no. 1) and I let it sit. And then I find the plot holes and fill them.

And then the writing tells me, “No, I want to be something else.” And when I try to fix it and can’t, I don’t write for 10 days and feel bad about myself.

But then I have an idea. And then another idea. And then the story finally becomes something I like (not that I didn’t like it before, it just wasn’t enough).

The novel I wrote was fine. But that was all. It was competent. But there was something about it that bored me. So I tried to change it. But that didn’t work.

I tried again, that also didn’t work.

Third time’s the charm in this case.

Never settle with your writing. Never, ever think just because your final draft is ‘done’ that you have to keep it when your gut tells you something is wrong or something needs to be added/taken away.

I am very lucky, I don’t need to publish books to pay my bills. I am only accountable to myself. I haven’t sold my work to anyone and no one is waiting to buy it. I can change my deadlines whenever I want.

And I have. Again.

So what does that mean?

How do I write?

What is the plan for the writing?

Firstly, there will be no more Slaughter Chronicles publications until next year. This is not a bad thing. I’m going to give you a better product than what I had planned, I promise.

Secondly, since I want a Halloween book baby so badly, I am going to publish a collection of short stories on October 31 this year. And next year. And the year after that. Check out the info on this project here :)

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Photo by Guillaume Bolduc on Unsplash

Writing Advice #14

GO TO THE PLACE YOUR BOOK IS SET!

…okay if you’re in the US and your book is set in Paris and you have no money, don’t go bankrupt for it…watch as many documentaries and street walk about on YouTube as you can.

This piece of writing advice has a personal anecdote.

This past Monday I drove down to the Mena, Arkansas area and planned to spend the morning hiking at Queen Whilamena State Park and the afternoon exploring the little, teeny-tiny towns surrounding the state park.

The drive down was really pleasant. But then it started raining. Thankfully, by the time I got to the Queen Whilamena Lodge and Restaurant the rain had stopped BUT there was fog EVERYWHERE!

I had not checked the weather app on my phone. I didn’t even think about the possibility of anything but clear skies and humid air (summer in Arkansas, y’all). But that is not what I got.

There was a fleeting moment where my heart sank and I thought, “I drove all this way and now I have to go home…”

But then I took another look at the fog, which was literally getting thicker by the minute and I thought, “HOLY SHIT THIS IS PERFECT WEATHER FOR A HORROR NOVEL!”

I mean look at that! That’s amazing!

If I’d gone on a “normal” day I’d have hiked, got some nice pictures of trees and buildings, and gone home with nice things to think about but this–the fog, the rain–gave my setting character. Or my setting looked at me and said, “Acknowledge that I am a force of nature!” while slapping me in the face.

And there was this really nifty fungus on the trail that was all glistening and fleshy. I almost walked face first into a MASSIVE spider webs trying to photograph it.

A new beginning to one of my books bloomed in my mind. I got to make rough stage blocking for an action scene and took pictures of this one specific outcropping from multiple angles for reference later. I was so inspired IT WASN’T EVEN FUNNY!

So the moral of this story here is think about what your setting is like in bad weather. You never know what will happen. But also, it’s important to visit, if you can, where your book is set because you’ll get to think about concrete details you may not have considered from your chair at your writing desk.

And I learned that my main character’s favorite food is not pizza like I thought it was, but fried green beans.

You never know what’s going to happen when you go out on location.

Good luck and happy writing!

Not An Exit: An Annual Short Fiction Project

I like writing short stories. And flash fiction.

I like writing speculative bits and pieces of terrifying nonsense.

I like writing the trials and tribulations of the human condition masquerading as fantasy.

I like writing random apocalyptic and dystopian one-offs.

I like challenging you, dear reader, and giving you strange things to think about.

At first I was just going to keep these stories in a file on my iPad and let them exist in the dark ether. But I really wanted people to read them.

Then I thought about publishing them individually, as I wrote and polished them. And while that was extremely satisfying, I didn’t feel like the publishing model I was using for my other fiction fit with these stories.

What I am going to do is this:

Every year, on Halloween, I am going to publish a short story collection. These collections will include all the random, stand alone short fiction I have written in the previous year.

In case you didn’t know already, all the poetry that I have self-published is free. The books in my paranormal werewolf series, The Slaughter Chronicles, are free. The books in my urban fantasy faerie series (when they come out) will be free.

But I’d like to charge 0.99 for these short story collections because, while The Slaughter Chronicles and The Heart of the Forest Cycle might not be your cup of tea, if you like speculative fiction there’s a good chance you’ll like these stories.

It’s not that they’re more “accessible” or “mainstream” than my other work, but they are the words that cast the widest net. They’re not as specialized–for lack of a better word–than my other fiction and thusly, I feel, more marketable.

So if you like short story collections and want a quick and quirky/slightly dark read, my stories are for you and if you end up liking them, please give my other fiction a try.

If you already like my werewolf series and my poetry and would like to give me some support, please consider purchasing my short story collection(s).

The project is going to be titled “NOT AN EXIT” and every year a new volume will come out. Each volume will be available for sale on every ebook publishing platform, including Amazon Kindle.

As the publication date comes closer I will release the contents list and samples for your enjoyment. As well as some behind the scenes writing shenanigans.

Thank you so much for reading my work and following me on this self-publishing journey.

And since you’re curious, here’s the cover for the first volume…

Things I Read Dec.-Nov. 2018ish Through July 2019

This is documentation and record keeping.

This is a third attempt at archival work.

In no particular order.

Books. Novellas. Short Stories. Scholarly Articles.

The Beasts Who Fought for Fairyland Until the Very End and Further Still: Catherynne M. Valente

Wounded: Laurell K. Hamilton

Guilty Pleasures: Laurell K. Hamilton

The Laughing Corpse: Laurell K. Hamilton

Circus of the Damned: Laurell K. Hamilton

Beauty: Laurell K. Hamilton

Shut Down: Laurell K. Hamilton

Goblin Slayer vols. 1-3: Kumo Kagyu

Daughter of the Blood: Anne Bishop

Battle Angel Alita vols. 5-9: Yukito Kishiro

Battle Angel Alita Mars Chronicle vols. 1-2: Yukito Kishiro

Too Wyrd, Runespells #1: Sarah Buhrman

Magpie: A Collection of Really Short Stories: Carrie Mumford

Pisces-Silver Blood Collection: D.N. Leo

Binti: Nnedi Okorafor

Binti: Home: Nnedi Okorafor

Binti: The Night Masquerade: Nnedi Okorafor

Claymore vols. 1-4: Norihiro Yagi

The Long Walk: Stephen King as Richard Bachman

The Name of the Wind: Patrick Rothfuss

The Wise Man’s Fear: Patrick Rothfuss

Lists I Left for My Sister: Rosamund Hodge

A Reminiscence of Dr. Samuel Johnson: H.P. Lovecraft

Polaris: H. P. Lovecraft

The Beast in the Cave: H.P. Lovecraft

The Alchemist: H.P. Lovecraft

The Tomb: H.P. Lovecraft

Dagon: H.P. Lovecraft

Ghost Sniper: David Healy

Hot Head: Damon Suede

Mission: Protect the Ex: Alina Popescu

Strength to Let Go: Tales of the Werewolf Tribes Book One: Alina Popescu

Penal Units in the Red Army: Alex Statiev: Europe-Asia Studies vol. 62 no. 5 (July 2010)

Love in the Time of Global Warming: Francesca Lia Block

The Collector: Titainborn Universe Book Zero: Rhett Bruno

Parable of the Sower: Octavia Butler

The Big Flash: Norman Spinrad

The Cruel Prince: Holly Black

The Lost Sisters: Holly Black

The Wicked King: Holly Black

Red Queen: Victoria Aveyard

Giovanni’s Room: James Baldwin

Relic of the Mad Poet: A Journey to the Tree Of Sorrows Story: E. H. Robinson

Berserk vols. 1-2: Kentaro Miura

Of Children, and Houses, and Hope: Aliette De Bodard

In Morningstar’s Shadow: Aliette De Bodard

A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms: George R. R. Martin

Every River Runs to Salt: Rachel K. Jones

The Second Wish: Brian Lumley

The Sun, the Sea, and the Silent Scream: Brian Lumley

Favorites

Favorite Book: Parable of the Sower, Octavia Butler

Favorite Novella: Every River Runs to Salt, Rachel K. Jones

Favorite Short Story: Lists I Left for My Sister, Rosamund Hodge

Miscellaneous Comments

I enjoyed A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms and Love in the Time of Global Warming more than I thought I would. I was reminded a lot of Block’s Primavera and thought the writing was much more vivid than in Necklace Of Kisses and Elementals.

I was disappointed with Holly Black’s new Folk of the Air Series. The “bad boy” really isn’t that bad and the heroine falls a bit flat compared to the characters in Tithe, Valiant, and The Darkest Part of the Forest. I don’t know if I’ve just *gasp* grown up a little bit or she intentionally wrote those characters to be less complex (than those in her other series) and more obvious caricatures of tropes for wider accessibility/a specific type of audience. However, I will read all the books because I am invested in all her work and am immensely grateful for her efforts in reviving the Bordertown stories. And the Zombies vs. Unicorns anthology she co-edited with Justine Larbalestier is amazing. Don’t judge me for not making it through the Spiderwick Chronicles yet. I’ll get there eventually.

My godfather gave me his copy of Every River Runs to Salt and I am so glad he did. It will probably have a permanent home in my Re-Read Pile.

I feel like I’ve stepped too far away from poetry this year, writing and reading it. I’ve neglected the work and writers that bouyed me up in grad school. This is bad because poetry is the life blood. I am a salt covered slug without it. I will make an attempt to spend the rest of the year injecting more poetry into my life.

June 2019 Stats

I’m really embarrassed to share this information because I did really, really bad this month. But this is how life works sometimes.

Word Count:

I’d be surprised if I hit 4,000

Days I didn’t write:

Almost all of them.

Submissions:

Got 1 acceptance. Nothing sent out.

Project Notes:

SO this month was terrible for my productivity. Mr. J drove up from Alabama in the first week and we stayed in Arkansas for a few days before driving down to the Florida panhandle to visit my aunt for a week. Then further down the state to visit Mr. J’s grandfather for another week. And then a few days in Mr. J’s home port before I flew back to Arkansas.

But even thought I didn’t do a lot of writing (I gave up tallying my word counts and days after the first week) I did a lot of outlining and brainstorming. I fleshed out secondary characters and sub-plots. I worked on motivations and story arcs. It was a productive time in every other aspect of writing except actually writing.

My two other main projects, Resonance and The Heart of the Forest Cycle, are progressing more slowly than I would like but they are progressing. The biggest news there is that instead of being a trilogy of novels, The Heart of the Forest Cycle is going to be at least two volumes of short stories and novellas. I have a lot of characters in that series and tying all of their story lines together was becoming increasingly difficult so I’ve separated nearly everyone’s stories and things are flowing more easily. I might be able to publish the first volume sometime in the fall but I’m still not going to make it a priority. The Slaughter Chronicles comes first.

July is Camp NaNoWriMo. I will be participating this year. I didn’t win camp this past April but I also had unrealistic expectations. So for July, I will work on finishing the first draft of Havoc’s Moon and polishing Moon Shine for publication in October.

Here’s looking to a larger word count in the future!

Meet Vermin!

I’m super excited to announce my collaboration with Little Fears went live today 🙂

Conquest is the story of a tiny monster with big dreams.

It was so much fun watching the art and my story come to life, I am beyond grateful for the opportunity 🙂

For more Little Fears spooky goodness click HERE 🙂