Preparing to Lose

Well, squiders, how’s your November going? Mine’s a cluster, but it’s fine. I’m fine. Everything is fine.

There are five days left in November. In those five days (including today), in order to get to 50K, I need to write 19.4K words. That’s approximately 3.9K words a day. In theory doable, especially if one doesn’t have a lot of other obligations.

Alas, I have other obligations.

It feels weird to be so far behind (about 11K words as of this writing). I’ve written every day this month except the 3rd. Which is waaaaay more consistent than I generally am during Nano. I had hopes that I would be able to do some major catch-up this week while I and the small, mobile ones were on Thanksgiving Break, but apparently that was a strange fantasy I made up in my brain.

Thanksgiving is always stressful. We host my spouse’s family, and he gets all perfectionist about the state of the house and finishing projects that have otherwise been languishing. So Wednesday and yesterday were useless. I knew yesterday was going to be, but for some reason I forgot about Wednesday. I should know about Wednesday by now.

ANYWAY, despite excellent consistency, it is time to admit that unless I am willing to do nothing else but write until Wednesday, I am going to lose Nanowrimo.

And I do not have the luxury of doing nothing but writing until Wednesday.

I mean, I suppose I could do what I did a few years ago, and rent out a hotel room for one night (I got 9K in that night) and then I might be good to go! But unless a lot of people get really cool about a lot of things real fast, it’s unlikely.

It’s okay. I’m not even upset. Things happen, and I have 30K on a story that I wouldn’t have otherwise.

And it’s not the first time I’ve lost. Sure, yes, normally things go downhill considerably faster (I think the last time I lost, which was, oh, 2012, maybe? I only got 12 or 14K words for the month) but it’s not the end of the world. And I’d much rather have a story I can do something with instead of throwing together a mess.

Anyway, it’s not looking good, and that’s fine.

How are your months going, squiders?

This is Not Going Well

Oy vey, squiders.

It’s what, the 11th? So, for Nano, I’m probably supposed to be at, oh, 18,300 words or some such. I’m at 11,400-ish. Almost seven thousand words behind and slowly slipping, day by day.

It’s not from lack of trying. I’ve been writing almost every day, which is more than I normally do during Nano. I’m just…not getting enough words. And not because the story’s going poorly. I switched to third person, like I told you last week, and everything’s been going great since then. The story is flowing well, the plot points are being hit appropriately, I’m having fun.

I just don’t have enough writing time.

I mean, I haven’t written today (Thursday, though this will go live on Friday) because I had to paint my entire basement, which took about four hours, but in general I’m eking out about an hour, hour and a half a day. Which is enough to get somewhere between 1200 and 1700 words with how fast I write. Which is good words! But not enough to catch up.

Now, seven thousand words seems like a lot of missing words. I could, understandably, throw my hands up and throw in the towel.

But I don’t actually feel bad about it. It feels fixable. I mean, not if the slide continues, but I’m still optimistic. Not even cautiously optimistic, just optimistic.

And potentially insane, I guess.

There’s Thanksgiving break coming up in about a week. Now, this could be very hit or miss. No work for me that week, so if I can properly entertain the small, mobile ones, maybe I could do a couple days of 3-5K words, which would be a good way to catch up or potentially get ahead. Or, depending on life, the small, mobile ones will require lots of attention and nothing will get done.

Maybe if I take them somewhere and wear them out in the morning, then I could write in the afternoon? Things to ponder.

Anyway, tl;dr, wildly behind on Nano but having fun nevertheless.

In other news, I re-recorded the video that needed fixing for SkillShare (took forever to find time to do that, which is why I didn’t get all my words yesterday) so I just need to edit that and re-upload it, and hopefully we shall be back in business.

Tomorrow (today? Friday) isn’t looking good for doing anything though–meetings out the wazoo. Hooray.

Anyway, how are you doing, squider? How are your goals for the month going?

Wait, When Did November Get Here?

Just as housekeeping, squiders, I’m going to officially go down to blogging once a week through the end of the year. We’re dealing with some things around here, and I need to dedicate my time to those.

Anyway, hi, it’s November. I feel like it came on really fast. Well, like, it was October, and I was on top of things, and I had Nano all planned, and everything was going great and then BAM! November, and everything’s fallen apart.

It’s the third, I’m already a day and a half behind on Nano, and things outside writing just keep getting harder.

It’s frustrating, to say the least.

On top of Nano being behind, SkillShare pulled my outlining workshop because I didn’t follow the template for the intro class. Which, looking back, I always follow the template, so I don’t know why I didn’t this time. Spaced it, I guess? Got so excited about doing a workshop that I just threw convention out the window?

Anyway, I need to fix that. Shouldn’t be too hard, just need to write a script and re-record the video, but it’s been almost a week and I haven’t managed to find the time. It’s probably going to be Friday, at this rate, unless ongoing issues eat my Friday and everything continues in a downhill slide.

Nano’s feeling a bit shaky too. I’m writing first person, which I did last year for my murder mystery, but everything feels clunky and weird, and I can’t tell if it’s because first person was the Wrong Choice, I’m starting in the wrong spot (feels a bit slow), or if that’s just how Starting a Story Goes. If I could get some time here, I might try writing a section in third person to see if that feels better.

I’d hate to write the whole story in the wrong point of view and then have to change it later. That way lies madness.

But also, if things don’t hit their stride a bit here, I’m never going to catch back up.

Aside from Nano and SkillShare classes stuttering along, I haven’t even started my trip journal from our trip to Portland a few weeks ago. (I just realized I didn’t tell you guys we went to Portland. Hooray for pre-writing and scheduling posts, I guess.) At the beginning of 2020 I started a sketch travel journal, where I’ve dutifully drawn my way through every trip since, along with including commentary, which has been an interesting but unintended way of examining the pandemic. Normally I work on it during the trip, but I didn’t even touch it, and I continue to not touch it.

I realize, in the great scheme of things, it’s not that big of deal, but it’s that whole anxiety about not doing something you meant to do on top of everything else.

Anyway, tl;dr, November is off to a rough start, and I’ve got to figure something out or else I’m going to go mad. I hope things are going better for you!

Cover Reveal: May the Best Ghost Win by KD Sarge

Good afternoon and happy Thursday, squiders! Today I’m very very pleased to be able to share the cover of May the Best Ghost Win by KD Sarge, which is coming out this Sunday (on Halloween, of course)!

Isn’t it great? I love the hulking house.

Here’s the blurb:

Four Teams. Thirteen hours. One very haunted house.

Team Gargoyle

Anton Berg doesn’t believe in ghosts, so why is he in a ghosthunting contest? Because Lammie, that’s why. Anton’s best friend since the first grade, Lammie has a knack for getting himself in trouble, and even without ghosts, running around a two hundred year old house in the dark holds plenty of real dangers. Anton can’t let Lammie go alone.

Team Flower Power

Quonzhenay is a librarian. Penny has a big stick. They’re on a mission to win a bet.

Team Witch

Ravyn Wyng Starcrossed didn’t want to come, but her Tarot cards told her to.

The Four Horsemen

It started as a prank. Now four members of the Fulsom College football team’s starting lineup are spending Halloween in a haunted house, and Blake would prefer to be left behind, please.

Unfortunately for all of them, ghosts do exist, the haunted house is much more than an abandoned Gilded Age mansion, and a dark power has Lammie in its sights.

When the night of spooky fun turns terrifying, escape is cut off. The teams unite with one goal–survive until dawn.

The ghosts may be the least of their problems.

Look for May the Best Ghost Win at all your favorite book-supplying places!

In other news, my outlining workshop is finished and is in the process of being uploaded to SkillShare (and has been for, like, three hours. My videos are still “processing,” whatever that means.), just in time for Nano (assuming the videos ever finish “processing”).

Speaking of which, if you use my SkillShare trial link, you get a free month of SkillShare. Food for thought.

(Seriously. Still processing.)

Anyway, check out May the Best Ghost Win come Sunday, and my outlining workshop whenever computer algorithms decide they like me.

Realistic Fantasy Travel

As promised, here are my notes from the MileHiCon panel that ended up just being about horses rather than realistic fantasy travel in general. I have notes on three different areas: horses (ubiquitous in almost all forms of fantasy, since people need a way to get places that’s not walking, and horses are easy), boats (specifically tall ship-style boats), and trains (for your steampunk and related needs).

These are mostly stats, kind of as a way to be like “Here’s how these things work, and if you’re having them work differently you’d better have a dang good reason.” The biggest issue, we all agreed in the panel, was that people tend to treat horses like cars, i.e., something that can keep going and going as needed as opposed to living animals that have thresholds and needs. (There was also a large side tangent about whether or not horses needed to be treated as characters, with half the panel saying yes, horses are characters and the other half saying it depended on the story and the horse.)

(I am in the depends on the context camp.)

Anyway! Here are your horse stats. This is your average horse that is not specifically trained for long-distance trips in most cases.

Horses:

  • Can travel between 25 and 100 miles a day, based on fitness levels/training
  • But if traveling for weeks you want to do 20-30 miles a day so you don’t wear the horse out (walk or trot)
  • A horse that is not used to endurance travel is not going to be able to do it
  • Harder terrain obviously diminishes the distance that can be traveled
  • Can only gallop for about 2 miles (canter for up to 5)
  • Should stop being ridden at age 20-25
  • Many horses cannot carry two people (need big, strong, calm horse)
  • Most horses have a max carrying weight of about 250 lbs (rider(s) + gear)
  • Takes about 2 years to competently learn to ride a horse, assuming one lesson a week
  • Takes an average horse about 5 hours to go 20 miles (horses walk about 4-5 miles an hour)

Now, on to boats. Now, you may be asking, why did I do research on other modes of transportation when the panel was specifically about horses in fantasy? Well, because I thought we were focusing on the “realistic travel” part of the description and not the horse part. So I thought it would be worth it to be prepared to talk about other transportation if they came up, and I picked boats and trains since those seem to be the next most popular modes that come up regularly.

Not to say there are not other modes of fantasy travel, because there absolutely are. I was trying to avoid more fantastic modes, however, since I’m not going to be able to tell you the average airborne velocity of a dragon or anything like that.

My stats for boats are, as I said above, for tall ships. Think 2-4 mast ships that are generally ocean-going.

Boats:

  • A tall ship travels about 7 miles per hour (6 knots)
  • Older ships may be more like 4 mph
  • Wind direction is important (tail wind vs head wind)
  • A sailing ship is going to average somewhere between 60 and 100 miles a day (also depends on if sailing overnight or not)

I got progressively lazier from this point on.

Trains:

  • Depending on year, in 1804 they ran about 10 mph, in 1850 they ran up to 75 mph (in England)

Trains, of course, can now run up to a couple hundred mph, but I was focused on steam-powered locomotives, since that seems to be the most applicable.

And, finally:

Walking:

  • A person can walk 20-30 miles per day (if trained)

(More 10-15 miles if untrained, and then you also need to think about things like footwear and other things that may make things harder.)

Thoughts, squiders? Favorite form of fantasy travel, realistic or not? Thoughts on horses, cuz why not?

WriYe and Social Media

Catching up, catching up, lalalalala, where is the month going?

Do you use social media for your writing life?

No.

I mean, I do vaguely. When I blog, it copies the link to my Twitter and my Tumblr. But that’s literally about it. I don’t Facebook, I don’t Instagram, I don’t actually interact with anyone. Social media is one of those things that the marketing books say you should be doing, but I find it really unnatural.

I did try to do it more, back in the day–schedule posts, keep up with mentions, etc. Used HootSuite, which is a nice program. But there’s only so many hours in the day, and I don’t have enough or enough brain power to care most of the time.

Are you happy with the way you’re using social media in regards to your writing?

Hm. Part of me wants to say no–that I know I’m not utilizing social media like I’m supposed to, that perhaps all that’s standing in the way of me and breakout success is the number of times I post on Twitter.

But I really don’t care. Did using social media more (and correctly, as per the marketing gurus) help? I mean, yeah, a bit, in terms of followers and networking. But did it ever really connect to book sales? I wouldn’t say so.

A lot of the networking opportunities I have gotten have come through the blog, actually–people seeing my writing here and reaching out for one thing or another. Maybe they saw my post initially on social media, but maybe not. I don’t know.

So, while I guess I’m not “happy” about the way I’m using social media, I’m also not upset about it.

Why or why not?

Oh. Reading the whole post is important, people.

Here’s the deal. For two or three years, I did social media as I was supposed to. I reposted things I thought would be of interest to my ideal reader. I posted several times a day, and I responded quickly when someone mentioned me or responded to something I had posted. I discussed news items in the SFF world, talked about movies and books I liked, reached out to similar authors and collaborated where I could.

Did I get some success from it? Sure. Some. Not a lot. Not enough to justify the amount of time I was spending on it.

Cuz, at the end of the day, while your social media presence can help (or hurt, if you’re a jerk), if you don’t have the books to back up what you’re doing, you’re not going to get anywhere. I don’t put out multiple books a year, and thus far I have no series. It’s hard for me to attract and keep readers. And the way to fix that is to focus more on writing, and worry more about marketing when I have things to market.

Anyway, squiders, hopefully that doesn’t come off as too bitter! Bottom line is that the social media stuff didn’t work for me because I didn’t have anything to link it to–but it might work better in the future when I have other things out.

Any thoughts on social media, squiders?

WriYe and Planning

The last month has been so off-kilter that I didn’t even do the WriYe blog prompt in September. So, uh, here it is. Actually, it kind of goes along with the outlining workshop I’ve been working on for SkillShare.

Convenient.

Explain your planning process. Do you write a detailed outline or are you more of a bare bones only writer?

I’ve talked about my outlining process before, but I’m somewhere in the middle. What I find works best for me is outlining my major plot points at the beginning (basically inciting incident, first plot point, midpoint, second plot point, climax, and what comes in between/before/after those). Pacing is something I have issues with when left to my own devices, so keeping track of my turning points and when in the story those should be happening has been hugely beneficial for me.

I also do quite a bit of brainstorming at the beginning for worldbuilding/characters/plot ideas, and I tend to phase outline in between plot points. But I don’t need a lot of detail in my plan before I start writing.

Are you happy with the way you plan currently?

Yes, actually. I first outlined this way for City of Hope and Ruin–it was the way Siri outlined–and it worked so well that I have used it for almost every longer story since. I’m talking 10K and up; for short stories I tend to just phase outline, though sometimes I’ll also do tentpoles depending on complexity.

For Nano, uh, 2019, I tried a different outlining technique that Nano recommended to me, and it did not work at all. So we’re continuing with this current method.

Are there things you would like to try that are different or new to you?

I’m always willing to try something new, but for now, this is working really well. The fact that it emphasizes when things should happen kind of makes it hard to beat, at least for me. And I have been writing long enough that I kind of knows what works and what doesn’t at this point.

If I do less planning, then I run into the pacing issues again, and more planning makes me want to tear my hair out. A lot of writing, especially at the first draft level, is so instinctive, and writing to this kind of plan fixes most of my major issues so that revision is way easier. But that’s me! I imagine if you have naturally good pacing but other issues that other outlining techniques might work better.

Hoping to get my outlining workshop out on SkillShare by the end of the month! I’m worried the editing is going to take even longer than normal since the videos are longer.

MileHiCon Recap and Sundry

Oof, sorry, squiders. This week has been crazy pants. Did I tell you we’re replacing our ancient, poorly constructed deck (they put the boards too close together so water just pooled and rotted the boards over time)? Well, we are, and it’s taking more bandwidth than I would have thought.

Also, I started this entry LAST Thursday. Oof. Oof oof oof.

MileHiCon (now two weekends ago) was…mostly good. I saw some people I haven’t seen in forever and got to reconnect, made new friends, and networked in general. That’s always the best part of the con for me, so I’m satisfied in that regard.

In other regards, attendance was way down and so the whole thing felt kind of empty, but I’m not sure that was a bad thing. The con has also moved to a new venue, so it took a bit of getting used to, but I got it figured out.

(Also the elevators are much faster. The elevators at the old con took FOREVER and so if you needed to go anywhere off the main two floors, or if you had heavy books or needed mobility aids, it could take 15 minutes just to catch the dang elevator. A greatly needed improvement.)

I didn’t get as much done as I typically did around panels, partially because of the re-connecting/networking (probably more important in the long run), but I did read about 100 pages of a writing book and do some starting work on my outlining for my novella/SkillShare class (I now have most of the outline done, and about an hour of the class filmed), so it’s not all bad.

Also, I bought an awesome hat.

My panels were okay. The realistic fantasy travel/horse one on Friday I interpreted as being, you know, focused on the “realistic travel” part of the idea, but everyone else focused on the “horse” part of the idea, so it ended up being about horses in fiction in general. I mean, okay, I actually have decent horse knowledge due to being a trick rider in my youth, but I don’t actually like them very much and now I have a bunch of info about horses and other types of travel that didn’t get used. Hmm. Maybe I’ll do a post over here.

Saturday I moderated a panel on self-editing where it felt like I, again, had interpreted the panel content different than everyone else. Self-editing being where you edit your own work, either before you send it out to agents or before you indie publish. All the questions I’d prepared were about the physical nitty-gritty of the process–what steps where, process, checklists, tools, etc.–but my panelists wanted to talk about other aspects. Hopefully it went okay.

I did take the larger, mobile one on Sunday for the Critter Crunch. The 2-lb category was as fun as ever (and larger, mobile one is planning out his critter for next year) but there were only two bots in the 20-lb category, and one was malfunctioning (it kept driving off the side and not stopping, so people had to dodge for their life). At one point they brought out a 20-lb box of rocks that they used for testing their bot against so that they could draw the event out a bit. I mean, they made the best of a bad situation, and we still had fun, but it was a bit disappointing.

I tried to upload a video here for you guys, but apparently video is now a premium feature? Anyway, I found the whole 2-lb battle on YouTube for you (also you can see my feet).

All in all, it was a good weekend, and I’m glad I went. And I’m looking forward to next year! If all goes well I’ll have a new book out, and maybe I’ll get some stuff done for the Art Show.

How have you been, squiders?

AHHHH

A sneak peek at my inner monologue right now, squiders.

You know, I suspect at one point in my life, I got a lot more done than I do regularly now.

Con starts tomorrow! How ready am I for it?

Eh, I’d say middling. The list from last week looks like this:

  • Sign up for author co-op table slot
  • File sales permits with the usual government agencies
  • Figure out what horse panel is supposed to be about (alas, no descriptions are available yet)
  • Research how far a horse can actually travel
  • Prepare moderator questions for editing panel
  • Costumes? (Probably too late, but ponder anyway)
  • Make Writers’ Motivation Series fliers to put out
  • Order fun masks?

Also, according to the schedule the con sent out very early this morning, I have autographs at 5 o’clock tomorrow? I don’t think I’ve ever had autographs before. I am unsure what this means, actually.

(The answer on the costumes was no, it was much too late to get on that. I could re-wear something but I’m not feeling anything.)

Panel information is out, so I just need to sit down and write things down (horse panel is about realistic travel in fantasy, which I generally know about, but it would be good to have some facts at hand about how long horses can generally go in a day, how fast a sailing ship can go, etc.) and think up some moderator questions for the editing panel (none provided this year, can probably steal/modify from my questions for last year’s panel).

Masks are unlikely to happen at this point. It moving weekends this year really did throw me off.

Actually, I didn’t really check book stock either. Uh. I hope I have enough with the added autograph session (whatever that is–I’m just going to ask when I get there).

Oh, no, I forgot about the laundry.

*kermit flails*

In non-con news, I started my new job outside the house this weekend, which is going fine. It’s weird, not going to lie, but it’s probably good for me, except I am definitely drinking too much coffee.

And I finally put together my revision plan for Book One! It only took me about 20-30 minutes. An example of one of those things that keeps getting put off that doesn’t actually take too long.

And now, alas, September is over. Or, yay, September is over? September always feels like a weird transition month to me, with no substance of its own. Part of me is sad, because my creative work took a back seat to other things I needed to do. The rest of me is like YAY OCTOBER, which is counterproductive, really.

I am excited for the con this weekend, even though I’m not as prepared as normal for it. It’s always nice to just get out of the house and hang out, and I normally get a lot of work done between panels and feel productive.

Well, wish me luck, squiders! I’ll see you next week for the wrap-up.

MileHiCon Loometh

SQUIDERS! MileHiCon is NEXT WEEKEND omg.

They’ve moved it to the first weekend of October rather than the fourth, and I am apparently unprepared for this change. But at least now it’s not going to interfere with Halloween activities some years.

Anyway, I’m behind on preparation. I mean, it’s not a lot–most stuff I just carry around from year to year with little variation. And it’s my own fault panel-wise, I’ve had the schedule for, like, almost a month. I’m moderating another editing panel this year (whee, must have done a good job last year or something) and am also on a panel about how far horses can travel, which I think is about realistic travel in fantasy, but I’m not 100% sure.

It’s in person this year too! I’ll admit that makes me a little nervous, but they are requiring masks and you get a special Vaccinated! ribbon to hang off your name tag if you’re vaccinated.

(I do love my con ribbons.)

Anyway, hopefully this isn’t a horrible mistake. The Critter Crunch is on again this year, and the larger, mobile one has expressed interest in going (also building his own robot, but that ain’t happening before the con), but I think I’m going to wait and see how safe I feel the con is before I commit to taking him. He’s not old enough to be vaccinated and with how dumb some people are about everything, I want to be safe.

Emotions suck. I’m excited for the con, yet scared. Luckily it’s not that big of convention, in the great scheme of things, so it could certainly be worse.

In other news, my favorite coffee shop is open for inside dining again, provided you show proof of vaccination, which is fine for me. As an added bonus, the vaccination requirement has a bunch of people up in arms, so I don’t have to worry about those people being in said coffee shop.

Anyway, here’s my normal to-do list for the con, for my own use so I can find it again later:

  • Sign up for author co-op table slot
  • File sales permits with the usual government agencies
  • Figure out what horse panel is supposed to be about (alas, no descriptions are available yet)
  • Research how far a horse can actually travel
  • Prepare moderator questions for editing panel
  • Costumes? (Probably too late, but ponder anyway)
  • Make Writers’ Motivation Series fliers to put out
  • Order fun masks?

I feel like I’m forgetting something. Hold on, checking previous years’ lists.

Oh, yeah, business cards. I never remember my damn business cards. Oh! Credit card reader! Good job, past!Kit. Very on top of things.

Has anyone been to a con recently? Tips you would recommend?