Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Smashwords’ Predictions for 2017

Hey Squiders, we’ll jump back into the nonfiction stuff on Thursday to answer the question “How many rejections is too many?” but for today, I’d like to share Smashwords’ 2017 predictions for the book industry with you. It’s kind of a sobering read, but I’d love to hear what you guys think and any trends you’ve noticed the past few years. As I mentioned when going over City of Hope and Ruin‘s marketing results last year, some of my go-to launch activities, such as advertising on Goodreads, no longer work as well as they used to, and I wonder if some of it comes from the number of books coming out/available these days.

Mark Coker (who runs Smashwords) also mentions that KDP Select has been a terrible thing for authors, and Kindle Unlimited is only making things worse. I don’t have much of an opinion on that as of yet–I’ve always gone wide with the exception of The Short of It, and since it’s been a week, I don’t have many stats to look at. People who have used KDP Select, do you like it? Have the changes that Amazon occasionally makes hurt you?

Anyway, here’s the article. It’s long, but it is an interesting read. Love to hear your thoughts!

Happy Holidays! (Also, a hiatus and landsquid and a typo)

So, I’ve had a chance to actually look at my schedule over the next two weeks, and it is extremely unlikely that I will be able to post next week. So I guess this is my cue to wish everyone a happy holidays, and I shall see you on the flipside in 2017, when we will do year-end/year-beginning stuff for about a week and then dive back into the publishing/submitting posts (where we will discuss self-publishing short stories to begin with.

So, Jan 3. I shall return.

Til then, I was up late making peppermint bark, so I drew you a peppermint bark-making landsquid.

He’s supposed to be eying the Alpaca suspiciously. Oh well. Things to practice. Squinty eyes.

I was talking to a few friends last night about whether or not I should do a holiday post today or whether I should start the year-end stuff, and the general consensus was to do the holiday post, at which point I noted that I would draw a landsquid for the post.

And my dear friend Di said, “LANDQUID.”

So, in celebration of a hilarious typo, I made you all a landquid. Just for you, Di.

landquid--it's terrifying

Rar.

Happy holidays, everyone! I’ll see you on the other side!

Memory of Place

Around this time of year, I occasionally get a bit nostalgic, and various childhood memories sneak in here and there. Last week I was at the Tattered Cover with the small, mobile ones buying gift cards for the larger mobile one’s teachers. The Tattered Cover is a local bookstore chain. The original store I was familiar with was in a fancy shopping area called Cherry Creek, and I would swear we practically lived there when I was little.

(I called my mother to see if this was just childhood exaggeration, but she says we were there fairly often.)

The original Tattered Cover was amazing. If my memory serves me–and it may not–it was a towering bookstore, four or five stories tall, not counting the basement, and it was a chaotic mess. There seemed to be little order to the sections, and you’d often have to explore multiple levels, with their maze-like shelves, to find what you were looking for (provided you were looking for something specific). For a small bookworm, it was heaven, equal parts mystery and adventure.

(Unfortunately, the Cherry Creek location went out of business about ten years ago, and while there are three current locations, none of them quite manages the magic of the older location, though they still have interesting organization and they try to stick in hidden corners where possible.)

There are other places that have stuck with me over the years. What is it about these places? I think it’s that they all have a little bit of magic to them, something that makes them a little different. These can be places you’ve been a million times or a place you’ve only seen once.

I was going to make this a reading analogy, about how some stories stick with you, even years later, but I’m not quite sure it’s necessary. But it’s good to have a little bit of magic in our lives, and perhaps it’s most important to remember that through the holidays, when tensions run high and stress threatens to drag us all down.

If you have one of these places still, maybe it’s worth it to take the time to spend some time there, to let the magic wash over you as much as possible.

What are some of the magical places in your life?

Mid-December Music Interlude

We’ve talked previously about writing and music, Squiders, and I thought the lot of you might want some alternatives to the never-ending Christmas music.

Last Thursday my husband and I braved below freezing temperatures to go to a Sonata Arctica concert (and were up past midnight on a work night! Madness). Anyway, because so much of this year has been dedicated to marketing and revision, I haven’t had a lot of chance to listen to long swathes of music, and I haven’t gotten much of a chance to listen to my beloved symphonic metal (excellent for writing epic fantasy–not so good for the more left-brained activities).

Anyway, I was inspired, and I thought the lot of you might like some music recommendations as well, since the last post went over so well.

Sonata Arctica was touring with Omnium Gatherum and Leaves’ Eyes. Omnium is melodic death metal and is not particularly my cup of tea (too much growling), so I’m not recommending any of their stuff. If they sound interesting to you, feel free to check them out.

Leaves’ Eyes is symphonic metal, but I haven’t listened to them in some years. I was very pleased to see they’ve gotten quite a bit better. They were fun live as well, with the male vocalist coming out in full viking armor for the last few songs. This was one of my favorite songs from their set:

Leaves’ Eyes – Sword in Rock

Sonata Arctica is more power metal than symphonic, but I am fond of them, especially their earlier stuff from the early 2000s. Their more modern stuff is less to my taste though there are still songs I enjoy. Hard to pick one to share. Here’s one that falls between the older stuff and the newer stuff.

Sonata Arctica – I Have a Right

And now some off the radio to round out the post:

There’s a riff in the chorus that gets me every time.

Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness – Fire Escape

This one has a nice message, plus an interesting twist on things.

Alessia Cara – Scars to Your Beautiful

And to go back to the symphonic metal for a minute, here’s a song that got me through the climax of the third book of my high fantasy trilogy. (And the music video has spawned a novel-length plotbunny of its own.)

Within Temptation – Paradise

(Seriously, though, if you’ve not checked out symphonic metal, you are missing out.)

Anyway, Squiders, hope this tides you over for a bit! Let me know if you’ve heard any songs that have really stuck with you lately! (Also love symphonic metal? Let us geek out together.)

Sketchtober

Squiders, it’s going to be October by the end of the week. On the one hand, October! I love October! On the other hand–where has 2016 gone? I’m not ready for it to be this late in the year! I had so many plans! So much to do!

::runs about, flailing arms wildly::

I think part of my general anxiety is that I have no separation between work and home. I could be at work at any time, and often am. There’s no sense of “work is over and now it is home time” and everything gets mixed together. This is the danger of working at home, my friends.

Also probably freelancing/doing contract work in general.

Anyway, long story short, I’m going to try an experiment for October. It’s somewhat along the idea of the adult coloring book craze. And that is that I’m going to try to incorporate sketching back into my normal routine. It’s something I’ve always done–something I started doing even before I started writing as a child. And I used to do it all the time. I was reminded of that recently as my mother decided to move in with my grandmother, and so I needed to go through all the stuff I’d left at her house.

And a lot of what I’d left were notebooks. Notebooks full of drawings. Sure, there were illustrated stories here and there as well, but for the most past, it was just drawings. People, animals, aliens, clothes. Even through college and when I was working, I still sketched, in the margins of my notes or meeting minutes. But once I started working from home five years ago I stopped, aside from the odd landsquid or specific drawing, usually related to writing somehow (such as designing uniforms or working through other worldbuilding).

And so I’m going to start it back up. Maybe somewhere in my psyche, I need to sketch every now and then, to let my mind calm down and my thoughts flow more naturally. So, for October, I’m going to try to sketch on a regular basis. See how it goes.

To celebrate, I drew you guys another landsquid. That’s two in one week–crazy, I know.

sketchlandsquid

I’m not going to just draw landsquid for the entirety of October, though.

Probably.

Anyway, wish me luck! Any plans for October yourselves, Squiders?

Spurts of Creativity

I’ve had this blog a long time, Squiders–six years this August–and so sometimes it’s hard for me to remember if I’ve talked about something before, and sometimes a scan of the archives is not helpful if it’s a topic without clear key words.

Anyway, I feel like we’ve talked about this before, but I can’t find it anywhere, so maybe I just imagined it. Or maybe I talked about it elsewhere. Who knows? Maybe I thought about it in my brain, and never actually wrote it down yesterday.

Wait–no! I found it! I’m not crazy ahahahahahaha

Anyway.

So, we’ve talked in the past about how writers tend to have other creative hobbies besides just writing. The example I used at the time (for me personally) was theater, and we talked in the fall about that too when I tried out for Into the Woods. But lately I’ve found myself drawn back to a different creative love, a deep dark secret that had risen back into the light after a long sleep.

And that is…sewing.

But it is a new kind of sewing. You see, in the past, I’ve primarily done costumes–from 2007-2011 ish I was big in the cosplay community. I spent many hours sewing costumes, learning all sorts of techniques. I taught myself how to modify existing patterns as well as draft my own. I learned how to attach intricate designs, make my own boots (ick), and even attempted armor (also ick). I learned how to properly wear a wig, how to bind, how to make props. It took a lot of time, which is probably why I didn’t get a whole lot of writing done in that time frame.

(I find that working on a different creative hobby can help your writing in the long run, but it’s really hard to do creative activities at the same time.)

(Also, if you want to see my costumes, you can look at my profile over yonder.)

But I don’t feel like making costumes right now. I’ve had vague inklings in that direction–things along the lines of doing whole family cosplays now that I have children to exploit. But nothing definite and nothing that I’m itching to work on. (Two years ago I designed and almost made a fairly complex Fire Emblem costume–Fire Emblem is a strategy RPG series from Japan, and I really dig the character designs, so I love making costumes from it. They’re hard, but I always learn new things. Also, the games rock and I really enjoy them too, so it all works out.)

Instead, I feel like…making clothes. Mostly dresses and shirts. Hats and arm warmers and fabric bracelets. Before, I always shied away from making clothes. What was the point? You could just go out and buy something if you needed something. Costuming was different, because you had to match a specific look. A shirt was a shirt. I did make a t-shirt once as part of a knit class, which was a very useful skill to learn, though I wasn’t wild about the shirt, and I did “upcycle” a couple of shirts out of dresses, but that was it in the clothing department.

Now, though…

But will I actually get to sewing? Maybe. It requires a lot of work–a pattern (and modifications, because I am about eight inches taller than the average woman), fabric, laying everything out. I don’t even know if my sewing machine still works. I haven’t touched it since early 2012, I’m pretty sure. And it will take time away from my writing.

But maybe that’s okay? Do a project or two, get the itch out of my system. Writing hasn’t been feeling so great lately. I feel like I’m not accomplishing anything, that I’m just working and working and not getting anywhere. I am, but it doesn’t feel like it.

What’s your creative fallback, Squiders? Any thoughts on sewing (and sewing clothes specifically)?

(If you’d like, you can check out my new sewing board over at Pinterest.)

This Will Be a Super Bowl Interlude

So, hey, my local football team, the Denver Broncos, won the Super Bowl. As you might imagine, nothing much is getting done around these parts. My financial adviser stopped by for a minute this morning to pick up some paperwork on her way downtown for the parade and rally.

There’s a million people downtown right now. Even I considered going, but the thought of small child wrangling around all those people seemed like a terrible, terrible idea.

(The population of Denver isn’t even a million people.)

I’m not a huge football fan, but I do keep general track of how the season’s going and occasionally break out my Broncos shirt. And we always watch the Super Bowl, no matter who’s playing, because it’s a good excuse to hang out with our friends and eat too much food and watch the commercials.

I find myself kind of lukewarm about winning. On one hand, it’s really exciting. Super Bowl 50! Our defense is ridiculously unstoppable. We’ve got two ex-players running things backstage now (Gary Kubiak and John Elway), which is kind of neat. I like the idea of people staying with a team. (Our hockey team is currently run by some ex-player as well.) And everyone is so happy. Nothing brings the state together like the Broncos. There’s a reason the motto is United in Orange. And it’s kind of amazing that we got here when our starting quarterback was out for half the season.

On the other hand, it wasn’t a great game. The offense was pretty terrible. The poor Panthers couldn’t get anything done. The commercials were boring.

So part of me wonders–is it right to be so excited when it feels like we didn’t really do much?

And I know it’s wrong to judge an entire season off a single game. The team did a lot of good stuff this season, especially when Peyton was out. And the defense is brilliant, and was brilliant in the Super Bowl. It’s just not as showy.

Defense is one of those things that is so necessary, and isn’t terribly visible when it’s working, but is oh so obvious when it’s not.

I want to make to make some sort of writing analogy, but it’s not coming today. What would the “defense” of writing be? A basic control of the written word. Story structure. Plot pacing. The sort of stuff that is necessary for a story to feel right, that might not be obvious to the reader when it’s working, but feel wrong when it’s out of place.

You’ve read stories like that, haven’t you, Squiders? Where something is wrong, but you can’t put your finger on it?

Anyway, happy football parade day, everybody. Also Fat Tuesday. We’re going to have pancakes for dinner!