More Carrots than Sticks

My day on the Spellbound Scribes’ blog. Maybe you need to hear it, yes you, who is doing a great job even if your boss doesn’t think they need to tell you so.

Spellbound Scribes

Before I became a writer, I had a number of other jobs. Some were pretty good, others really weren’t. Obviously, none of them were my passion, but the ones that were especially bad were so because they were the kind that stole pieces of you, every day, until you were little more than a hunched over, dead-eyed employee, who was just waiting for enough PTO hours to take a mental health day.

Some jobs are just tough and that’s okay, they need to be done, and often those are the jobs that pay pretty well because of how hard they are on you, whether physically, emotionally, or mentally. But what makes those jobs bearable or unbearable is the work environment. At my worst job (and best paying), I had a manager look at me and say, “No one should need to hear ‘You’re doing a good job!’ or ‘Nice work…

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I’ve Kept My Promise About Patreon

If you remember, I posted that I was giving Patreon another go and I promised I was going to be better about posting there and making it worth your while to become a patron of mine.

Well, I think I’ve done a fairly good job about it.

There are some exclusive fiction posts that only patrons can read and I’ve started adding some flash fiction for everyone. Yes, that means these posts are available to anyone to read, without pledging any money.

The flash fiction I’m working on right now is a novella set in the Ash and Ruin universe, which, believe me, was difficult to get into the mood for after the week we’ve had. But I’m pushing through! Fiction is where we find escape and help to deal with the real world around us. So I keep writing.

Supernatural, prophet, Chuck

Anyway.

I hope you’ll check it out, check out the reward levels I have set up for patrons. If you become just a $1 a month patron, you will be included in the acknowledgements of my upcoming book, the seventh Matilda Kavanagh Novel! If you sign up for a higher amount, you’ll get some awesome, tangible rewards!

Check it out here.

My Alter Ego Has a New Release!

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The release days for Leila Bryce Sin are always a little quieter, but I think her books are a little louder.

The projects we’re currently working on are the Brimstone War Novels. Fun, dangerous books set in the hot desert of Las Vegas with demons and angles and all manner of supernatural creatures fighting and loving until one side wins.

Hellfire Second Edition Cover        Holyfire Cover1

And today the second book in the series released!

If you like your Urban Fantasy with a little more heat, a little more skin, a little more steam, you might want to check this series out. I think it’s a great place to start your summer.

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | iBooks | Kobo | Smashwords

YSO: The Best Writing Advice I’ve Ever Been Given

In college I took Creative Writing: Poetry. It was a junior level class, but I took it as a freshman, because obviously I was a fantastic writer who knew everything and would ace upper level classes.

Our first assignment was to write a poem. Any poem. Any form. Any subject. No direction or limitations whatsoever.

So I wrote my poem. It was amazing and poetic. The best poetry that ever poeted.

When the prof returned my poem it had a huge “YSO” written across it in red ink. No grade, no comments. Just YSO. Lots of poems in the classroom had this strange notation on them.

The professor, an old Irish poet, grinned back at us and asked how many people had YSO written on their paper. Most of the hands went up.

“Years ago,” he said, “I assigned this same assignment to another class, just like this one. And one of my students couldn’t think of anything to write about. Eventually, he went to his window in the middle of the night to try to think of something, anything to write. And then he saw it. A full moon, bright in the night sky, and he was inspired. So, he set down to write his poem about the full moon, bright in the night sky.”

We all waited as he paused, taking in our faces.

“And the first line of the poem read: ‘Yon sailing orb!'”

And we all burst out laughing.

Dr. Ledbetter looked at us and said, “Sometimes the moon is just the damn moon.”

So when we ever wrote something so over the top, so difficult to understand, so ridiculous that it made him laugh or shake his head (when that WASN’T the reaction you wanted), he would write YSO on our work.

Because sometimes the moon is just the damn moon.

 

Stages of (me) being a writer and knowing all the things.

Stages of (me) being a writer and knowing all the things.

Finally finish your first book: I know how to write a book!

Finish books 2 and 3: Yep. I got this! I know the process and all the secrets! How I write a book is how you write a book! Ask me and I’ll tell you because I know how to do it.

Reach 2/3 mark on book 4: Oh crap. My process isn’t working. I have to change how I do this. There was a secret I didn’t know before now.

Complete a series: Okay. Now I know all the secrets. Not only can I write a book, but I can finish a story. I know all.

Start writing 17th novel: I know nothing.

I know, seems strange, that on my 17th novel I’ve come to a point where I admit that I don’t know how to write a book. I mean, obviously I’ve done it a few times now, but things are just never the same.

Most of my books have taken me between 60 and 90 days to write the first draft. There are some of those books between 1 and 16 that I wrote in under 30 days.  But those are the ones where I am on fire and everything is clicking and I’m cranking out 4-6k words a day.

Words a day. Now that’s a phrase that freaks people out. We often hear the phrase “Real writers write every day.” I get this phrase, I really do. I applied it to my process for the bulk of my career, but I don’t take it quite as literally as many others do. For me, writing every day means 5-6 days a week that I’m drafting the first draft. That does not mean writing 8 hours a day. It means writing until I’ve reached a goal or I’ve come to a natural stopping point for the day. Sometimes that’s just 1 hour. Sometimes it’s 5. Depends on the book, the scene, and the day. And I do allow for 1 or 2 days off, like any “regular” job, you wouldn’t be there 7 days a week.

But this book, the 17th, has been so different for me.

I feel like Sisyphus and that rock is getting harder and harder to push uphill.

When I was first starting out, writing books 1-3 and the first 2/3rds of book 4, I never outlined. Then I hit a wall and had no idea where to go. So I loosely outlined the end of the fourth book and learned that I could, and maybe even should, outline a story before writing it. As a young writer, I couldn’t outline because I lost the urgency to tell the story, feeling like I’d already done it. So it took time and practice, but now I need an outline to help me get from A to Z.

So every day that I plan to write, I review my outline and get my daily goal, be it 1k words, 2k or 5k. Some days are hard and I may only get 500 words, but I get something.

But this book. This book. I want to write this book. I like my characters and their heartbreaking story. It’s a new world with new faces and a new story. I want to get to the end of it. But I started writing this book at the beginning of January and I’m only halfway through. I don’t even have a complete outline because it has been such a difficult story to figure out.

I take a week off from writing at a time. Some weeks I only write 2 or 3 days.  And I’m not even getting huge word goals when I do write.

This book is taking so much out of me.

But just like with my 4th book, I’ve learned to adapt to it. I have other projects going on at the same time that need attention, so I’m not just sitting around. But I’m telling myself not to feel guilty. I am working on it. I am always thinking about it. I even had a plot knot unravel itself the other day that will help  me expand the outline when I come to the end of it.

So what’s the point? The point is, none of us hold all the secrets. Processes will work for you until they don’t. You just gotta be able to roll with that and figure out how to carve a new key to unlock the next secret.  Even if you’ve written off the idea of something, like outlining vs. pantsing or writing every day vs. taking days off, try it if you’re stuck. It might be the thing that gets you unstuck.

I am giving Patreon another shot – For realsies this time.

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Some of you may or may not remember I attempted to dip my toe in the Patreon pool last year. But it was like joining Twitter for the first time. I had no idea what I was doing or how to make it work for me, so I failed miserably at it and let it die.

Now I’ve replanted the seeds, fed it water, put it in indirect sunlight and am going to nurture it until it grows. Which is to say, I will pay attention to it and actually put up posts and make it a real thing worth supporting.

So, if you’d like some exclusive fiction from me, please consider becoming one of my patrons. If you pledge at the $3 dollar level (or higher, which is awesome), you’ll have access to read patron-only-posts. I’ll be posting various things including short fiction, serialized short stories, you’ll get to see cover reveals first, maybe even first chapters of soon-to-be-published books. Starting this Friday, I’ll post the first segment in a mildly NSFW short story set in the Taryn Malloy/Brimstone War universe from my alter ego, Leila Bryce Sin. It’s a fun, sexy, summer read set in Vegas.

Please be aware this is going to be raw material. It won’t have the polish and shine of going through the editing process that my books do. But maybe that’s not a bad thing? Maybe it’ll be interesting to see something different? For it to feel more personal? Kinda like things are here on the blog. We’ll see.

Not everything I post will be NSWF, mild or otherwise. I’m going to use this space to workout some ideas, feel out new characters, revisit old ones and old universes. So you might be treated to flash fiction or short stories from my previously closed series, like The Elemental Series or the Ash and Ruin Trilogy. Or even side stories from The Matilda Kavanagh Novels.

If you pledge at $10 or higher, I might treat you to extra little things. This is definitely going to be a learning experience for me and I hope you’ll bear with me and stick it out to see how it goes.

Be sure to read through all the levels to see what kind of investment you’d like to make, what kind of rewards you’d like to get. I think I’ve made it fair and worth your while. At least, I hope I have.

But it doesn’t matter if all you pledge is $1, your name will be included in the acknowledgements of every upcoming book I publish, so long as you remain a patron when they come out. Because every dollar counts.

So yeah. Hopefully I don’t disappoint. Hopefully you like it. Hopefully I’m good at this.

Check it out here and sign up to become a patron!

Mourning the Loss of an Artist Unapologetically

My post this week on the Spellbound Scribes’ blog. I had to go back and add a bit about Alan Rickman and it’s really not enough. But I know how much that man meant to me so I’ll leave it as it is. I’ll probably watch Dogma, or Galaxy Quest, or even Robin Hood quite soon. But I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to sit through Snape’s death scene without completely losing it. It is difficult enough to watch it just because he was my favorite character, but now? Oof. I can’t even think about it without getting choked up.

Spellbound Scribes

Sunday night we lost a great artist. The ripples that went around the world as people found out about David Bowie’s death built into a current that pulled so many of us down. It’s always a little strange when a celebrity dies, someone who you probably don’t even know, but their death touches you as much as losing a friend. Sunday I lost an idol I never got to meet.

I saw so many people openly express their grief, myself included, while others seemed to apologize for their feelings. Embarrassed for being sad over the death of someone they didn’t even know. I get it, it’s kinda of like heading off the teasing before anyone can say something to you like, “You’re a little too upset over this.”

But you know what? No, we aren’t.

I wrote about my experience of hearing the news and while I took the time…

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