Archive for May, 2019

Looking Forward to June

Oh, squiders, as you know, May has not been good in these here parts. And I can’t help feeling a little resentful about having my life upended, because I had such good momentum going.

Even now, weeks later, I’m still struggling to get any fiction written. I wanted to get a horror story into an anthology by today, but I’ve only managed 1000 words in the past week. I feel really bad about it–I hardly ever miss deadlines, but my spouse has pointed out that this particular publication seems to have similar calls fairly regularly, so if I don’t get the story done today (unlikely) I can probably just push it to the next call. (Or, honestly, I could change some names and try some other horror publications.)

I did manage a couple of things this month:

  • I got going here at the blog again
  • I finished the last nonfiction workbook
  • I’m most of the way through the last nonfiction book (admittedly the longest of the series)
  • I researched children’s book publications
  • I wrote 1000 words in the horror story
  • I read 6 books
  • I submitted short stories to their markets (admittedly much later in the month than usual)

I mean, not amazing. But at least I got up and got going again. It wasn’t the easiest thing to do, so if nothing else I can be proud of that.

Now I’m facing the summer. Holly Lisle is running a summer-long challenge that sounds great, but I’m just not sure I’m in a good place to participate. I want to finish up the nonfiction stuff (and work on the Skillshare classes that are going to go along with them), but honestly that won’t take the whole summer, and I don’t know if I have a fiction project I want to dedicate myself to (especially since fiction hasn’t been going well).

But she does recommend setting writing times/days for consistency, so maybe I can take that aspect of it and apply that moving forward.

So here’s my general plan for June: I’m going to focus on nonfiction. I’m going to finish the last book, I’m going to find betas (let me know if you’d like to beta any of the books/workbooks! I’ll probably post when I’m ready so you’ll know whats available), I’m going to get my first Skillshare class done (and maybe a second one!).

On the fiction front, I’m going to ease back in. I’m going to work on finishing my horror story. I’m going to write some drabbles and shorts. And if things start flowing better, we’ll re-evaluate doing some longer pieces.

And here’s to June being smoother sailing than May.

Any plans for June, squiders? Thoughts about getting back into fiction writing after suffering trauma?

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What Order Do You Listen to Your Podcasts in?

I mean, I suppose it’s possible that you are caught up on all the podcasts you listen to and then it doesn’t matter.

(How? I was only listening to one and I still got three years behind.)

For those of you paying attention, here are the current podcasts, and the years they’ve operated (and where I am in them):

  • Welcome to Night Vale (2012 to Present, currently in 2017)
  • The Once and Future Nerd (2013 to Present, currently in 2014)
  • Myths and Legends (2015 to Present, currently in 2015)
  • Limetown (2015 to 2018, currently in 2018)
  • Tanis (2015 to 2018, currently in 2016)
  • Inn Between (2018 to Present, fully caught up)
  • Start with This (2019, have listened to trailer)

I want to listen to them oldest to newest and, indeed, that’s how my app stores them. But then the issue is that you get a lot of whatever you’re farthest behind on (The Once and Future Nerd currently) and not a lot of the others.

If I jump around a lot, then the app gets confused and plays what is normally not the next episode of a show (I got halfway through episode 203 of Tanis yesterday and then realized I had not listened to episode 202) which is also not awesome.

All of the story-based ones (Tanis, Limetown, and Inn Between) use seasons, so there can be a sizable break between seasons (Limetown season 1 was in 2015 while season 2 didn’t start til 2018, for example). Once and Future Nerd is operating in chapters/books, so it makes sense to listen to an entire chapter at a time, even if it’s 4 or 5 episodes long.

Myths and Legends has put out an episode every week for the last four years, and has the largest volume of episodes, so it’s the hardest to catch up on, especially since episodes don’t always easily flow from one to the other and they tend to be long (between 30 and 40 minutes).

Night Vale goes every two weeks, but since I was up to date before I stopped listening, I’m not that far behind in the great scheme of things. And Start With This is literally two years old, so there’s all of about five episodes.

It doesn’t help that I can’t really listen to any of them with the kids in the car (Inn Between is pretty good, though a little violent at times, as expected from a gang of adventures, but we’ve run out of episodes now and shall have to wait until they start next season).

(I have started listening to them while I cook dinner, which is pretty good, although sometimes it is too loud to hear.)

So, what do you think, squiders? Should I do a number of episodes from a podcast in a row and then move to the next one? Do all of one series and let the others languish? Do one episode from each and just keep going until we catch up on all of them (letting the ones with fewer episodes drop out of rotation when we catch up)?

Also, can you believe summer is almost here? (Unless you live in the southern hemisphere, and then, can you believe winter is almost here?)

It’s Okay to Self-Publish

Okay, squiders, we’re back in the old blog post drafts again. This one comes all the way from 2010, almost a full (yikes!) decade ago.

Back when self-publishing was, while not the weird and stigmatized thing of elder days, still not as accepted as it is today.

Here are the notes I left myself:

  • Doesn’t mean you’re a failure
  • Put out the best product you can
  • Be aware that you’re fighting an uphill battle
  • Harder to get traditionally published

Let’s unpack this while I channel Kit of nine years ago. Man, that was a very different life.

Doesn’t mean you’re a failure

Interesting. Was I assuming people were only self-publishing because they hadn’t been able to get a traditional deal? Back in 2010 I’d participated in…at least two indie-published anthologies. Was I defensive? Maybe so. Or maybe I was trying to let other people know that it was okay, that traditional publishing wasn’t for everyone or everything, and that each project should be evaluated individually.

Now, of course, some people actively choose to self-publish without considering traditional publishing, since you retain greater creative control and better royalties.

Put out the best product you can

Still true, of course. A well-prepped self-pub is indistinguishable from a traditionally published book. Yet I still pick up books all the time that I can tell are self-published almost immediately. The most common indicator I see is grammar–bad punctuation, run-on sentences, clunky writing. All stuff any editor worth their salt can help clean up. Then there’s general bad writing, inconsistencies throughout the story, and bad plotting. Haphazard covers. Awkward book descriptions.

I’ve heard it said that you have to either put in time or money, depending on what’s easiest for you. But you do have to put something in.

Be aware that you’re fighting an uphill battle

Hm. Did I mean because you don’t have a marketing team behind you? Maybe. But a lot of traditionally published authors these days still have to do their own publicity.

Did I mean in terms of legitimacy? (i.e., whether or not you’re a real author, if a self-published book is a real book) I’m betting that’s what I meant. I think, if you put in the time (or money) mentioned above, this is less of an issue than it used to be.

Harder to get traditionally published

I’m not sure this was true back then, nor now. Someone probably has numbers somewhere.

Publishing is such a weird industry and really anything could happen. Is a publisher really going to turn down an excellent book because you self-published some cringe-worthy badly-disguised fanfiction five years ago? Probably not (though maybe they’ll ask you to use a pen name).

Alternately, people have gone on to traditional publishing deals because they’ve self-published. So it really seems like you should do what it’s right for a particular project and not worry about it.

Thanks for joining me for another addition of “Kit digs out half-written blog posts from the past,” squiders! Thoughts on my thoughts?

Reoccurring Dreams

Man, dreams were great when I was younger. They were insane and fun and had great atmosphere. Most of my dreams as an adult are alternately about boring things or nightmares about things happening to other people I am responsible for. Which are not fun.

As a kid I had a number of reoccurring dreams. I mean, I assume I did. The thing about reoccurring dreams is…are they really reoccurring? When you’re in the dream and you’re like, ah, yes, I have been here/done this before, have you really? Or is that just another layer to the dream?

For example, when I was in early elementary school, we lived in a tri-level house out in the woods. Lovely place. We had seven acres of land, so I spent most of my time outside, exploring rocks and trees and imagining stories of my own creation.

The basement, however, was dark, lined with dark wood paneling and having a single wall of windows on one end. The light end was great (except for the time I fell off the shelf and broke my arm). The dark end was dark and featureless (and had an actual dark room, which we just…didn’t use for anything).

At the time I had a series of dreams involving the dark end of the basement. In the dream, I’d go down the stairs, but instead of there being nothing, there was kind of an…evil carnival. What exactly was there changed from time to time, but it was definitely something I dreamed various times. (There was an alligator once, and another time some scruffy little boy stole my favorite stuffed animal.)

My reoccurring dreams are always linked by place. It’s the place that’s reoccurring, and the events may or may not be linked from dream to dream. Oftentimes what’s changed in the place is directly related to how long it’s been since I’ve dreamed that particular dream.

I had reoccurring dreams a lot as a child, as I mentioned above. But, all of sudden, I’m having them again as an adult. I mean, I’m dreaming those same places from when I was younger, not having new reoccurring dreams.

I had one last week, though I don’t remember what specifically it was anymore. And I had one last night.

Let me back up. As a kid, my grandparents’ house was one of my favorite places. It was where I saw and played with my cousins. It’s where we spent a lot of time when my parents were divorcing, where I first got to touch and learn how to use a computer (and play games), where I spent hours up the crabapple or jumping off the wall or lazing about in the hot tub. My grandfather had a mining consulting business in the basement, with pictures of huge equipment and coal cores (which I touched only once and then learned my lesson) and this giant printer–and my grandfather was my very favorite person, may he rest in peace.

So it makes sense that I had a dream grandparents’ house that I would visit. The dream one was huge, several stories tall, with a tower, and a rideable miniature railroad, and a pool, and part that looked like a castle inside and out, and museum exhibits, and a place to host haunted houses, and mini golf. A giant library. Huge rooms for me and my cousins to stay in. And there was a separate building in the back, which was the “original” house (whatever that means in dream world), smaller and more modest but still not at all related to the real-world house.

I dreamed of this version throughout my childhood, but I don’t think I have since my grandfather died (19 years ago). Or I might have once afterwards–I have a vague memory of something being wrong with the tower and it having to be anchored to the hill behind it–but no matter what, it’s been a while.

So imagine my surprise when I found myself there last night, surrounded by my family (including my uncle, dead these eight years). The house, if anything, had become grander and bigger in the years since. But there was an undertone of disuse and decay throughout. There was a burst pipe that no one had bothered to repair for several years. Portions of it (such as the castle and the pool) were open to the public.

But the general feeling was that we, the family, had to give the place up, that it was empty and falling apart, and that we’d lost control and there was nothing to be done.

Not the most optimistic of dreams, but also not that surprising. After my grandfather died, family get-togethers were never really the same. That’s to be expected, I think, and perhaps explains why the reoccurring dreams stopped.

And last summer, my grandmother decided to move out of that house I loved so much from my childhood and sell it. So maybe this was just that–a last dream farewell to someplace that meant a lot to me, but that is now (and to be honest, has been, at least emotionally) no longer available.

A little slow on the uptake–the house sold months ago–but a farewell nevertheless, and a thinly-veiled metaphor of how family changes as you age and people leave your life while new people enter it.

Man, it is a cool house, though. Maybe I’ll dream of it again sometime, in better times.

Hooray for Eurovision

Squiders, you would not believe how long it has taken me to get this written.

My community has gone through a lot in the last week, and while we’re working toward getting back to “normal,” it has been draining, physically, emotionally, and mentally.

As such, I haven’t gotten anything remotely creative done. You want to know what I’ve done related to writing since last Tuesday? I finished reading through the agent section in children’s writers market guide.

That is literally it.

I haven’t even wanted to read.

I don’t think I’ve ever not wanted to read before.

(I’ve been getting around this by listening to an audiobook. NPCs by Drew Hayes. One of my Goodreads groups is reading it for May and the library only had an audio version. I haven’t gotten very far, but I am getting somewhere, at least.)

Trauma sucks and I dislike it.

But fixating on negative things is bad and is bad for your health, so thank the world for aligning perhaps the most perfectly distracting event on Earth with this terrible time: Eurovision.

I love Eurovision. I love the concept, I love the variety of songs presented every year, and I especially love when something noteworthily out-there is in the running.

The larger, mobile one (home a lot lately, due to said traumatic events) is watching it with me. After the first semi-final, he’s backing Iceland (I wish I could be surprised, but this is a child who used to fall asleep when I listened to symphonic metal when he was an infant). I listened to all the songs so I am backing Norway all the way.

This is a bop and I love it unconditionally.

We haven’t gotten around to watching the second semi-final yet (and the U.S. is country-locked on the Eurovision YouTube for some unholy reason, so we’ve been watching on a Swedish television channel’s website), but we’ll get there.

(If you are unfamiliar with Eurovision, you poor person, here’s a pretty good summary. I think I became aware of it some years ago when the video of Dschinghis Khan’s Moskau was circulating around the ‘net.)

So, thank you, Eurovision, for being there and being awesome.

A Bad Week

Tuesday took a distressing turn around these parts, so I’ve not felt up to doing much these last few days.

I did draw you a Landsquid though.

I’m not sure whether we’ll be back on Tuesday or not. Thank you.

Free Comic Book Day Round-up

The small, mobile ones and I had a full day on Saturday, but managed to get to Free Comic Book Day at our local coffee shop/comic shop/game shop around 9 am, meaning we beat most everyone and still had a good selection to choose from. I got four and the small, mobile ones each got two (I had to supervise the larger, mobile one, who was attracted to the most violent of the superhero comics and quite frustrated when I would not let him have them).

Here’s what we ended up with:

My Hero Academia/The Promised Neverland

Two mangas out of Shonen Jump (and rated T I see in retrospect, so I probably shouldn’t have let him have this either, sigh). The My Hero Academia one is literally some random battle with very little context (larger, mobile one does not care). The Promised Neverland half seems to be the very first part of the manga, and it is intriguing looking. I’ve stuck it on my library to-read list.

Pokemon

Larger, mobile one is periodically obsessed with Pokemon (he has hundreds of cards, and we’re going to go see Detective Pikachu on Friday), so here we are. Two stories in one again, the first half being Pokemon the movie and seemingly a literal retelling of Ash and Pikachu’s first meeting. The second half is Pokemon Adventures, and is the start of Red starting out to become a Pokemon trainer.

Defend Comics

There’s 5 comics stuck in this one, so you don’t get much of any of them: Pilu of the Woods, Apocalypse Taco, Nobody’s Fool, A Fire Story, and Bags (Or a Story Thereof). Pilu looks cute, about a lost dryad. Apocalypse Taco involves a lot of creepy goo monsters. Nobody’s Fool is maybe about watching a movie? There’s literally 3 pages in here so who knows. A Fire Story seems to be about losing the artist’s home to a wildfire, but, again, 3 pages. Bags could be good or not (the main character is presented almost as a child’s drawing as a person while everything else is realistic) but again, not enough in here to say.

Wolfie Monster and the Big Bad Pizza Battle

The monsters in here are cute. Wolfie and his brothers run Magik Cheez pizza, but there’s a new pizza chain in town that wants to buy them out. Smaller, mobile one was quite enchanted, and is probably about the right age for this overall.

Doctor Who: The Thirteenth Doctor

I think I get the Doctor Who ones every year. Unlike previous years, there’s only a single story instead of having bits of ones from multiple doctors stuffed in. On one hand, great, because it’s nice to see a bit of a story arc instead of just set-up or a scene with no context. On the other, how come poor Twelve never got an issue to himself? I am intrigued by the 13th doctor but have not actually gotten a chance to watch the last season yet.

Star Wars Adventures

I got this one last year too, which I only realized when I started reading this one. Han and Chewie are caught up in schemes again. Like last year’s free comic, you get an entire story, which I appreciate.

A Sheets Story

Seems to be a story about a girl dealing with the death of her mother by having an imaginary friend who is essentially a floating sheet. (The sheet is real enough, but Wendell the ghost is…probably not?) Seems like it could be a good story. Has an ad on the back for a comic called Mooncakes which apparently involves cute witches and werewolves and I’m here for that too.

Lumberjanes

I’ve heard of the Lumberjanes before somewhere, so I actually put back some steampunk horror comic to pick this up. There’s two mini-comics in here with different artists, so what I’ve picked up is that it takes place at summer camp? And they fight monsters. I dig it.

That’s me for this year. You guys pick up anything good?