What Is My Planning Process Like?

Two books aren’t in print anymore, that’s why there’s only eight. I still have my own copies somewhere, I’m just not exactly sure… where.

I crossed a milestone recently, having finished my tenth book. It’s a little behind the goal I made when I was younger—that is, to finish one every year starting at age 18—but honestly it’s farther than I realistically thought I would be. It’s a little surreal, because while I’m normally pretty confident in my ability to write well, I have moments where I look back at things I’ve written and go, “Was that me? Did I write that? There’s no way.” I’ll look back and see things I’ve written that I’m proud of, and I’ll look at them almost with dismay because I’m sure I’ll never come up with anything like that again. Surely that was a one-time thing. I’ll be out of ideas soon and nothing new will ever come to me.

It gets kind of dramatic for absolutely no reason. Luckily it doesn’t happen often.

But since I’ve made it to ten, I’ve been reflecting on how I plan things out in the first place. I started thinking about it because I was asked what my process was, and I had no idea how to explain it at the time. I wasn’t sure I had a process. So I thought I should probably figure that out, because something is happening, and it’d be nice to know why.

Continue reading “What Is My Planning Process Like?”

An Open Letter To My Characters… Again

Dear Lovely Characters of Mine,

It’s been a hot minute and I didn’t want you guys thinking I’d forgotten about you or something. (I know, just… bear with me.) And what a bunch of years it’s been. Last time everything was fun and games and typical writerly frustration and now we’re living through The Lost Years because of an international health crisis. Now, you would think that with all the extra time spent forcefully indoors I’d be more productive. You would think.

You thought Kwin at 10 was bad. Now she’s 11 and trying to kill gods and stuff.

I still did keep pretty busy though, and that included a lot of character work. The books I worked on after The Dream Sanctum series ended up being… well, slightly longer than anticipated, as well as more numerous, and they also took place over a longer period of time, and honestly there was just more of everything. The good news is that meant many more characters to write and play with and develop backstories for and that was a lot of fun as always. And there isn’t bad news necessarily, just that I’ve been told I went full Game of Thrones on my characters on more than one occasion.

So yes, I know I need to acknowledge that and probably apologize to at least a few of you. This is awkward. I haven’t really had to have this discussion before. The only person I really killed off before was Devnon and he was an antagonist anyway that nobody liked. (Sorry.) So I’m not sure how to address this. I mean, I write a lot of fiction and fantasy with some pretty serious stakes, you know? Plot has to be developed, the seriousness of the situation has to be established, maybe the introduction of the feeling that maybe no one is safe, stuff like that. And if you really think about it, there were a lot more people left alive than people who died, so it’s… actually, scratch that. This seems like one of those situations where I’ll get into more trouble the more I talk. So, uh. Sorry about that. I still love you all.

Anyway. Moving on, and quickly…

Continue reading “An Open Letter To My Characters… Again”

The Flexibility of Artistic Vision

Last year I got into a discussion with a few friends on the subject of Netflix testing out adjustable playback speeds on its movies and shows. Most people I talked to were generally apathetic (“I wouldn’t use it anyway”), but a few did not like the idea at all. To them, being able to change the way that something is viewed to that extent would go against the artist’s artistic vision, and interferes with the media as it was intended to be consumed.

No matter what kind of art a person is creating, there’s a lot of thought behind a finished product. For movies, the impact of a scene may be demonstrated with the tempo of the music, the movements of the camera, or cuts (or lack thereof). Being able to change the speed the movie is viewed at could completely change all of the carefully chosen and planned components to a scene, potentially changing the way the movie is viewed entirely or taking away its impact.

Continue reading “The Flexibility of Artistic Vision”

My Experiences With Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

I’m starting with the obligatory stock photo of a person looking tired because no one’s here for a picture of me. (There might be one later. We’ll see how I’m feeling.)

I haven’t really talked about my health before because it seems like there’s kind of a stigma against it, and just because I didn’t want to bring anyone down. I would make a brief informative post here and there on an awareness day or something, and occasionally some quip on Twitter, but I haven’t really gone into detail about what I deal with and how it affects me, save for the people I know I’ll be hanging out with so they don’t have to ask what in the world is wrong with me when something inevitably goes wonky. I think I was also afraid of posting something attached to my name like this as it might impact my ability to find work. Considering I have difficulty working either way, that logic seems a little silly in retrospect.

But with as often as I complain about the invisibility of illnesses and conditions (especially as they pertain to the ones I have and how that’s impacted my experiences with relationships and healthcare), I figured I should stop actively contributing to that invisibility. Continue reading “My Experiences With Chronic Fatigue Syndrome”

Writing and Publishing a Polished Book on a Budget

I’ve seen a lot of guides on how to publish and market books from successful authors out there. A few of them are my friends, and they give objectively good advice. There is some subjectivity to publishing, but there are some core points that generally apply no matter what — things like making sure your book is properly edited and formatted, that good cover art will help your sales, and that it’s helpful to have some kind of marketing plan.

The only trouble is that most of these guides require you to have a decent chunk of money set aside for your project. You need editors, you need cover artists, you need software, you need to run ad campaigns and buy ARCs to distribute. A lot of the marketing strategies I’ve learned involve having hundreds if not thousands of dollars for ad campaigns alone, and while someday I hope to have that kind of budget, at this point I absolutely don’t.

Even if you don’t have a lot of money to work with, you can still put out a quality, polished book. With that in mind, here are some of the most important parts of publishing a book. Most of this is geared toward self-publishing, but you may find some helpful tips in here if you’re looking at pitching to agents as well.

Continue reading “Writing and Publishing a Polished Book on a Budget”

Some Language Is Worth Fighting For

I was in a debate on Facebook the other day about words and the way they should be used, and it got pretty intense. People were getting blocked and everything. I never seem to get anything like this on a discussion about actual politics. I’ve been yelled at for posting a picture of doughnuts and been blocked over my opinions on the Oxford comma, but never anything about politics. I need to up my game apparently. Anyway.

The crux of the argument came down to two conflicting points:

  • We shouldn’t stop using perfectly legitimate language just because some people with ill intent are out there trying to ruin it.
  • If you want to be understood and convincing, you’ll change your language to fit what has been agreed on by the majority, not what is technically correct.

Continue reading “Some Language Is Worth Fighting For”

Is Listening To Audiobooks Reading? Does It Matter?

The topic of the moment for the reading and writing sphere is audiobooks and whether or not listening to an audiobook is considered “reading.” It’s much more of a multifaceted issue than one might think at first; while initially easy to dismiss with a simple, “No, it’s listening,” there’s a lot to unpack in a discussion like this.

First we should consider that the current definition of reading typically involves something with “written or printed matter” and “characters or symbols.” We should be equally aware going into this that definitions change with time and that definitions are descriptive, not prescriptive.

The reason this definition is important is because people love to draw lines and then make judgments based on those lines. It was hard enough getting ebooks accepted as a valid form of reading, because apparently words on a screen are completely different than the same words on a page.

Continue reading “Is Listening To Audiobooks Reading? Does It Matter?”

I Want To See Your Charity

You’ve probably seen it somewhere in the comments of a YouTube video where someone is doing a good deed: some variation of, “If you actually wanted to help, you wouldn’t have made a video about it; you just want attention.”

“You can tell I’m a good person because I judge everyone else for the way they do good things.” (Source)

This shows up in all sorts of sayings, like the one that goes, “Good deeds should be done with intention, not for attention.” There are even a few Bible verses on it, like the first few of Matthew 6. There’s even one that says that a good deed dies when it is spoken about. That is, if you really want to be charitable, and if you want to prove that you’re doing it for the sake of others and not to draw attention to yourself to be lauded for it, you’ll do it quietly.

Which is all really quite stupid. Continue reading “I Want To See Your Charity”

College: Esteemed Institute or Indoctrination Factory?

There was a big hullabaloo about a month ago when a Pew survey came out revealing that almost 60 percent of Republicans (and Republican-leaning Independents) believed that higher education has a negative effect on the way things are going in this country. Immediately, it should be noted that this does not mean Republicans think college is dumb and learning is bad, but that didn’t stop many outlets from interpreting it that way.

If you’ve been following politics at all, though, you’re probably more aware of where some of this dismal view on higher education comes from. Think of safe spaces, discrimination against conservatives, snowflakes protesting every minor infraction, you know the drill. The issue, as I’ve seen many conservatives explain, isn’t that knowledge is bad. It’s the environment of the institution: campuses practically infested with liberals, where conservatives students are just too afraid to voice their opinions because they’ll get shouted down, and where freedom of speech is in its death throes. Continue reading “College: Esteemed Institute or Indoctrination Factory?”

Don’t Discount the Value of Subtle Representation

Broader representation is starting to become cool, which is great for a lot of people. I for one have been starved for certain kinds of media since I knew how to read, and occasionally, things got a little desperate and I’d find myself searching the bottom of the barrel on fanfiction sites. I’d say those weren’t my proudest moments, but I regret nothing.

The other cool thing is that a lot of people want to get into writing with representation in mind, and while that comes with a host of issues all on its own — e.g., people attempting to write experiences that aren’t their own and falling flat, or accidentally misrepresenting something badly — it’s nice to see that people see the value in it. For a while it was an uphill climb to explain to people just why it was important that everyone see a bit of themselves out there, and how lonely it can feel when not even fictional worlds have people like you in them. Continue reading “Don’t Discount the Value of Subtle Representation”