Sep 6, 2017

IWSG: September 17

 
Have you ever surprised yourself with your writing?

I’m not sure if it counts, but I surprise myself with what I forget I’ve written.

Also with early quality and breadth of work.

Back in the year of 1 million words, I finished approximately twelve first drafts (and had a smattering of other incomplete stories). I’m still cleaning up those books and working through what is actually worth keeping.

As I go through those books, it is startling to see how poorly some of them were done--you live and you learn--especially when compared to something written almost at the same time that is actually up to par with my writing 4 years later….

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This post has been a part of the monthly IWSG blog-hop. Bounce over there, check it out and sign up if you’re ready to share you neuroses with the world.

Sep 1, 2017

August Numbers

August was my third least productive month…. And I think we can blame that on actually being focused.

Words:69,214-words in 21 days
(Avg 3,296-words)
5 Projects + Admin
 

Saying I worked on five projects almost feels like a lie… like I should go back and edit the spreadsheet to show only the two that I worked on in excess and toss the others in with the admin.

Aug 2, 2017

ISWG August 17



Guys, it’s been rough the last month. The weather’s been atrocious, job changes have made writing more difficult. And, well, most days are feeling like thursdays lately.
What are your pet peeves when reading/writing/editing?

Pet peeves are a dime a dozen.

In reading, word choice is one of them, specifically when an author is trying to make the scene sexy and they use a word that, while correct, is just gross. If I never see the word ‘turgid’ in relation to anatomy again, it will be too soon.

In writing, I guess it would be my “squirrel” habit. Waking up one day with a work schedule that doesn’t match what my brain wants to work that day.

In editing, it would have to be realizing past Amy was super lazy and left a bunch of work for present/future Amy to deal with. Past Amy is kind of a jerk.
 
 
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This post has been a part of the monthly IWSG blog-hop. Bounce over there, check it out and sign up if you’re ready to share you neuroses with the world.

Aug 1, 2017

July 2017 Numbers

This month was… interesting.

 
Words: 61,125 in 19 days
(Avg 3,217/day)
7 Projects + Admin
And a lot of editing only days

 

Jul 13, 2017

Goal Setting Like You're An Annoying GPS

I’ve mentioned it here before (and often) that I am a goal glutton. I love scheduling and planning and setting myself RIDICULOUS benchmarks.

And while I’ve managed to hit a few of those “shoot for the moon” plans, I’ll admit that more often than not, I get side tracked. Something in my schedule makes it impossible to complete the plan. A book suddenly blossoms with a plot thread I didn’t see coming and I have to spend a day noting the ways this change will cascade back through what I’ve already written.


Color-coded by task

That’s when my brain does it….



RECALCULATING



Because no matter where I am in a plan when I realize all hope is futile, I know how unproductive it is to reach for a goal that is truly unattainable. If I can’t even reach the benchmarks, why am I worried about it.

So I adjust. I fix my plan so that it makes sense with the new information and I go on until I hit another snag and then….



RECALCULATING



I spent yesterday recalculating. And because I’m an overachiever… this time, I made a realistic plan and one I’ve labeled “Overdrive” because it takes what my realist thinks I can do by October 2nd, and condenses that timeline down to potentially finish September 7th.

This is for two projects, and the O2 end-date includes a week of another that isn’t shown.


In the condensed timeline, I’ve given myself a “prep day” between major tasks. Partially to let my brain reset between them, and partially because that much work squeezed into a smaller window of time requires some well structured pre-planning.
 
 
Am I the only one who likes throwing myself toward the mostly-impossible ?



Jul 5, 2017

IWSG: Lessons

 
What is one valuable lesson you've learned since you started writing?
 
The thing I’ve learned is: learning to let go of your words is often the best thing you can do.
 
Back when I wrote my first novel, I was fiercely protective of every line, paragraph and scene. These were things that had come out of my head and my heart and they weren’t going to be tossed aside like trash. I clung to them, even when they hurt the story.
 
Learning to let that go has been so helpful.
 
I cut 20,000 words between drafts 3 & 4 of the book I’m working on now, and it is so much better for it. I have to go back in and rewrite scenes and fix a plot line that was restructured, and that’s a little frustrating, but cutting those words was the right thing to do for the book, no matter how much I enjoyed the previous incarnation.
 
In other news:
 
I’m over on the Go Forth & Nerd Podcast today, talking about writing, inspirations, nerdy things, and feminism.
https://mrbray.com/goforthandnerd/2017/7/4/go-forth-nerd-ep-61-sci-fi-western-interview-with-ab-keuser
 
Books and blog posts have the bonus of being edited before they make their way to you, so this is your fair warning that I tend to ramble.
 
Jesse’s great, his podcasts are great, and I’m so happy to have been able to contribute.
Hop over there and check it out. (He’s got a ton of great content even if you don’t want to listen to me yap.

 
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This post has been a part of the monthly IWSG blog-hop. Bounce over there, check it out and sign up if you’re ready to share you neuroses with the world.

Jul 3, 2017

June Numbers

Words: 135,285-wds in 26 days

(Avg: 5203/day)

12 Projects + Admin

 
The beginning of this month looked like it might have a big potential for getting me that focus I so often find myself looking for, but alas, I didn’t quite get there.

What I sacrificed in focus I made up for in productivity though… 


This was my best month in recorded history. Though, I still think February of 2013 was most impressive because 133k in 17 days is still just flabbergasting to me.

On top of that, I surpassed my total word count for 2014this month (woo!).
 
But!

What we’ve done is only a metric of what we still can do. And so, I sally forth to see what word count possibilities July holds.

 

(Hint: it’ll probably be lower, since I’ve got two revisions rolling through here shortly.)

Jun 13, 2017

Injection Burn Winner

(Guess who scheduled this in the wee hours and then forgot to push publish... that's right, me!)


The Winner of Injection burn by Jason M. Hough is....

#6 - Angela Spugnardi!
 
So, Angela, hit me up and get me your address so I can mail this guy off to you.
 
 
EDIT (6/29/17):
 
So, Angela never got back to me and I drew a new winner.
 
#1: Nathan G
 
Happy reading everyone!
 
 
 
 

Jun 7, 2017

IWSG: Quitting


Did you ever say “I quit”? If so, what happened to make you come back to writing?

 
I write a lot. If you keep up with my monthly count posts (the only thing I seem to do consistently over here) you’ll have noticed that I’m averaging about 75,000-words a month so far this year. It’s just what I do.
 
But in 2015, I was almost forced to quit.
 
I didn’t run out of ideas.
I didn’t have a drastic change in my schedule.
I didn’t get frustrated and decide to throw in the towel….
 
I had two grand mal seizures.
 
But the seizures weren’t actually the problem. If you’ve ever looked in to anticonvulsants, you’ll have seen they have an AMAZING list of unfortunate side effects. The one I’m on presently had the potential of an allergic reaction that might have made all my skin fall off and, you know... killed me.
 
My first medication was the problem.
 
So there’s a fun little drug called Keppra. It’s apparently the oldest anticonvulsant medication on the market. It’s had the most testing. It’s what the emergency room will hand you if you show up after a seizure. It also made me functionally schizophrenic.
 
It’s really hard to deal with fictional universe when you’re not 100% certain if the one you thought was real actually is.
 
But I fought through it. 2015 was my worst writing year. Then I got a decent doctor, I got on meds that didn’t play mad-scientist with my brain chemistry, and here we are.
 
Don’t forget to hop over here and enter my giveaway for a signed copy of Jason M. Hough’s Injection Burn.
 
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This post has been a part of the monthly IWSG blog-hop. Bounce over there, check it out and sign up if you’re ready to share you neuroses with the world.

Jun 6, 2017

GIVEAWAY: Signed Copy of Injection Burn by Jason M. Hough [CLOSED]


So I picked up a copy of Jason M. Hough’s newest book at Phoenix Comicon a few days before it’s release. It’s the first in his Beyond Dire Earth duology and it is a fantastically fun read. I knew it’d be great, so I bought two! One for me, and one for you.

 

I meant to put this giveaway up last week… on the book’s release date, but the week after PHXCC is always a bit of a blur and before I knew it, Friday was here and gone. So here it is, a week after release, your chance to snag a signed copy of INJECTION BURN.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01LK9H94E/

 
So what is this awesome book about?
 
Skyler Luiken and his ragtag crew of scavengers, scientists, and brawlers have a new mission: a long journey to a distant planet where a race of benevolent aliens are held captive behind a cloud of destructive ships known as the Swarm Blockade. No human ships have ever made it past this impenetrable wall, and Skyler knows not what to anticipate when they reach their destination.
 
Safe to say that the last thing he expects to find there is a second human ship led by the tough-as-nails captain, Gloria Tsandi. These two crews—and their respective captains—initially clash, but they will have to learn to work together when their mutual foe closes in around them and begins the outright destruction of their vessels—along with any hope of a return to Earth.
 
Sure, but how do I get my mitts on it?
 
All you have to do to enter to win is comment below and answer this question:
 
If you wound up on a “ragtag crew of scavengers, scientists, and brawlers” what would your position be? Are you a control freak captain? A hide in the shadows tech, looking to do her job and be ignored? Or are you the one skulking about on sleep-shift sabotaging the ship for a corporate pay-out?
 
How will I know if I win?
 
Check back next Tuesday (6/13/2017). I’ll pick the winner from the comments using a random number generator and I’ll let you know about it here and we’ll work out the shipping details via email. If you don’t come back (and I don’t have any other means of tracking you down) I’ll have to spin the wheel again and pick a new winner.
 
If you want to be certain I can get ahold of you, include your twitter or instagram handle (and make sure I know which one it is) at the end of your comment. I don’t suggest putting your email in there.
 
If you don’t care about signed books, and want to grab a copy of your own:

Injection Burn
And preorder the sequel (Out next month): Escape Velocity
 
And check out:
Zero World, and
 
There are no extra points for following me on twitter, instagram, or joining my newsletter, but I’d be tickled if you did.

Jun 1, 2017

May Numbers


88,801-words in 19 days

(AVG: 4,674-words/day)

8 projects + Admin



May is my highest monthly word count for the year so far (by a whopping 611 words!) and it’s the best May I’ve had since I started keeping track of these things back in 2013.

On top of all of that, on May 22nd, I hit the point where I had more words for the year (so far) than for the year in 2015 (in total).

These insights, by the way, are among the many reasons I toss my daily writing into a spreadsheet.

May 19, 2017

Every Book is a promise


Story time!

A while back, I picked up the latest book from an author who's back catalog had been enjoyable. There were stories I loved and stories that shot for the moon and just barely missed, spiraling off into space where the good and the bad got lost in a mishmash of familiar.

But that latest book...

As an author, every book is a promise. You make that promise with your blurb, your first page... sometimes with your name. In this case, the promise started with genre and name and even though the blurb had me reaching for the book with trepidation, the rest of the series had been SO. DANG. GOOD.

Established authors give an expectation simply by dint of being the one who wrote the book.
This book did not fulfill the promise set out by the author.

Reader, I was disappointed... and then, I was offended.

The content itself was not something that would offend anyone. It was the laziness the book was written with. It felt like a throw away. Like a collection of words smashed together with only the intent of fulfilling a contract.

I know this author can write beautiful books. I have fallen in love with their characters. But this book was sloppy. Characters never became likable. Characters suddenly did things that made no sense for the people they'd been set up as. The reversal felt too shallow and was repetitive of the recurring plot problems in the beginning. The resolution resolved next to nothing.

In short this book lacked believability. There was nothing to grab on to. No door to float on as the ship sank.

By the end of the book, I was so offended--I'd held out that entire time because I just knew this author would manage to pull it off, and then she didn't--that I returned the book.
That's not something I do. If I get five pages past the sample and realize I've made a mistake, sure. But I don't return books I've read all the way through. This one though... I was that offended.

My disappointment festered for a week and I sat down to write the first version of this post, thinking I'd sorted through my thoughts. I was still mad.

More importantly, I no longer trusted that author.

That lack of trust translated to my venturing to Amazon where I cancelled a preorder of a new book. I haven't bought one of her books since. Because I don't trust that the new ones will fulfill the promise.

The book that so offended me was from a series that was delightful otherwise. I don't imagine she would have half-assed the first book in that new series... but maybe.

Maybe she'd become complacent. Under delivering on a 3rd book seems safe enough. A readership from the first two is likely to continue on to the third and a readership after a few series is likely to give an author leeway. In theory, this first book in something new should be crafted in a way to draw in virgin readers... but I don't trust that anymore.

May 1, 2017

April Numbers


84,747-words in 20 days
(AVG: 4237-words/day)
7 projects + Admin

 


Edits always screw up my writing mojo. This month’s edit happened to also screw up my editing mojo. Pretty sure the best thing I can do with this book is to burn the print copy, delete all the digital versions and start fresh.

I’m not going to do that, but there’s every possibility this is evidence I’m in a cycle of literary self-brutalization. Let’s hope not.

Apr 3, 2017

March Numbers

 
88,190-words in 20 days
(AVG: 4409.5-words/day)
9 projects + Admin

Focus was not exactly my friend this month (when is it ever anymore), but I did manage to get a BIG chunk of one WIP done.

I’m going to blame that lack of focus on the two long weekends we took this week, one for my birthday, and one for our anniversary. Fun times, but the sort of thing that lets my brain wander freely to play with ideas that I don’t really need to harvest.

Another thing I decided to pay attention to this month was how much admin I did.  I tried to write enough fiction to keep that admin down below the 15% mark (and managed it this time around—probably because I did next to no blogging or prewriting).

I did manage to surpass all of my recorded word counts for March, so that’s pretty fun.

On to April!

Mar 2, 2017

February Numbers

Writing
71,471-words in 24 days
(AVG: 2,978-words/day)

6 Projects + Admin


Last month was…. Interesting.

I set out to do one thing, started strong, and then had something thrown at me that required ditching that particular goal. I’ll get back to it in a month or so, but for now, I’ve got a 6-week schedule that is possibly going to challenge my need for planning. Structure and I are friends.

Feb 8, 2017

What I'm Excited For In February


IRL
I’ll be finishing up my lower leg sleeve (Yay!) which is always fun. I have to say, the knee-adjacent work in the lining and shading was a lot easier than I expected, pain-wise.

We don’t really celebrate Valentine’s day. I don’t know that we have anything specifically against it, we’ve just never seen a need. I find cut flowers depressing and the mark-ups on things are ridiculous (yay consumerism).

Lego Batman
Something tells me this is going to be my second favorite Batman movie (right between Batman Returns and the original)

Trainspotting 2
Who hasn’t been waiting for this? Who isn’t surprised they didn’t use the book’s title?

John Wick: Chapter 2
I have a SEVERE problem with the beginning of the first movie (don’t you dare hurt another dog, Alfie) but otherwise, I enjoy the chaos and shoot-em-up nonsense of it. Possibly my favorite thing Keanu has done since Speed.

A Cure For Wellness
I’ll take things that look like a mind-f*ck for five hundred, Alex.

Tulip Fever
First of all, can we talk about the madness of Zach Gallifianakas in a period piece? Because, bring that on. Otherwise, the trailer kind of reminds me of Perfume. And as disturbing as that movie is, it is beautiful and it gives me hope that this one will be too.

The Stars Are Legion (or Lesbians in Space) by Kameron Hurley ALREADY OUT!
Somewhere on the outer rim of the universe, a mass of decaying world-ships known as the Legion is traveling in the seams between the stars. For generations, a war for control of the Legion has been waged, with no clear resolution.  As worlds continue to die, a desperate plan is put into motion.

Zan wakes with no memory, prisoner of a people who say they are her family. She is told she is their salvation - the only person capable of boarding the Mokshi, a world-ship with the power to leave the Legion. But Zan's new family is not the only one desperate to gain control of the prized ship. Zan finds that she must choose sides in a genocidal campaign that will take her from the edges of the Legion's gravity well to the very belly of the world.

Zan will soon learn that she carries the seeds of the Legion's destruction - and its possible salvation. But can she and her ragtag band of followers survive the horrors of the Legion and its people long enough to deliver it?

A Conjuring of Light by V. E. Schwab
London's fall and kingdoms rise while darkness sweeps the Maresh Empire—and the fraught balance of magic blossoms into dangerous territory while heroes and foes struggle alike. The direct sequel to A Gathering of Shadows, and the final book in the Shades of Magic epic fantasy series, A Conjuring of Light sees Schwab reach a thrilling culmination concerning the fate of beloved protagonists—and old enemies.

The Last of August by Brittany Cavallaro
In the second brilliant, action-packed book in the Charlotte Holmes trilogy, Jamie and Charlotte are in a chase across Europe to untangle a web of shocking truths about the Holmes and Moriarty families.

Jamie Watson and Charlotte Holmes are looking for a winter break reprieve in Sussex after a fall semester that almost got them killed. But nothing about their time off is proving simple, including Holmes and Watson’s growing feelings for each other. When Charlotte’s beloved uncle Leander goes missing from the Holmes estate—after being oddly private about his latest assignment in a German art forgery ring—the game is afoot once again, and Charlotte throws herself into a search for answers.

So begins a dangerous race through the gritty underground scene in Berlin and glittering art houses in Prague, where Holmes and Watson discover that this complicated case might change everything they know about their families, themselves, and each other.

Wintersong by S Jae-Jones
Beware the goblin men and the wares they sell.

All her life, nineteen-year-old Liesl has heard tales of the beautiful, mysterious Goblin King. He is the Lord of Mischief, the Ruler Underground, and the muse around which her music is composed. Yet, as Liesl helps shoulder the burden of running her family’s inn, her dreams of composition and childish fancies about the Goblin King must be set aside in favor of more practical concerns.

But when her sister Käthe is taken by the goblins, Liesl journeys to their realm to rescue her sister and return her to the world above. The Goblin King agrees to let Käthe go—for a price. The life of a maiden must be given to the land, in accordance with the old laws. A life for a life, he says. Without sacrifice, nothing good can grow. Without death, there can be no rebirth. In exchange for her sister’s freedom, Liesl offers her hand in marriage to the Goblin King. He accepts.

Down in the Underground, Liesl discovers that the Goblin King still inspires her—musically, physically, emotionally. Yet even as her talent blossoms, Liesl’s life is slowly fading away, the price she paid for becoming the Goblin King’s bride. As the two of them grow closer, they must learn just what it is they are each willing to sacrifice: her life, her music, or the end of the world.   

A Perfect Machine by Brett Savory
Henry Kyllo is a member of a secret society called the Inferne Cutis. A Runner whose goal is to achieve full-body lead content. He is chased through the city every day by Hunters whose goal is to shoot the Runners — with the threat to both sides that if they do not participate, through a mysterious force no one understands, one of their loved ones will simply vanish from the face of the earth.

Rumours abound about what happens when a Runner achieves “ascension”, but it has supposedly never happened before, so no one knows for sure.

Except that it has happened before. And it is happening again. This time, to Henry Kyllo.   

Last Day on Mars by Kevin Emerson
It is Earth year 2213—but, of course, there is no Earth anymore. Not since it was burned to a cinder by the sun, which has mysteriously begun the process of going supernova. The human race has fled to Mars, but this was only a temporary solution while we prepare for a second trip: a one-hundred-fifty-year journey to a distant star, our best guess at where we might find a new home.

Liam Saunders-Chang is one of the last humans left on Mars. The son of two scientists who have been racing against time to create technology vital to humanity’s survival, Liam, along with his friend Phoebe, will be on the very last starliner to depart before Mars, like Earth before it, is destroyed.

Or so he thinks. Because before this day is over, Liam and Phoebe will make a series of profound discoveries about the nature of time and space, and find out that the human race is just one of many in our universe locked in a desperate struggle for survival.   

Feb 6, 2017

Movie Plots

Let’s talk about plots! Only four today, and just because these ones were on my mind.

I consume a lot of media. Books, Music, TV, Movies, Memes. And movie plots are one of those things that I’m exposed to often, thanks to a cinefile husband and the relatively small time commitment. (Assuming I’m not binging on LOTR, or doing my annual Christmas Die Hard Marathon)

Let’s talk about four of the Plots I see a lot.

The Watch It Twice Plot -
This sort of movie comes with a twist, or maybe it’s a mystery. Either way, you have to watch it twice. The first time, you watch it to be surprised. The second time, you watch it to look for the clues you missed the first time around. (Of course, this excludes poorly done versions where you spot all the clues and aren’t surprised at all.)

A lot of people I know say you can only watch an M. Night Shyamalan movie once, and while there are a few that I’ve agreed with that on simply for premise, I think others require a second go, just so you can pay attention, so you can spot the clues.

The “We Both Know This Isn’t Going To End Well” Plot -
Sometimes, a movie makes no effort to hide the fact that EVERYONE (or almost everyone) is going to die. This shows up in Horror and Military/War plots all the dang time. They might dangle the possibility of survival. Maybe THIS time that group of kids will come out on top of the crazy killer/spirit/curse they happened to stumble upon in the woods. But let’s face it. We all know.

If you didn’t walk into Rogue One expecting all of the main characters would die, I don’t know what to tell you.

The Love Triangle That Should End In A Polyamorous Situation, But Society Isn’t Ready For That Yet Plot -
The girl loves two guys. The guys are best friends. She bounces back and forth between a choice because it’s too hard, and they alpha-male it off to win her for themselves. Can I just tell you, life would be so much simpler if love was treated like love and not a competition. Reminder: it’s not a finite resource. And let’s face it, you could still work in a ton of conflict in that situation.

The When Is This Going To Be Over Plot -
We’ve all watched a movie and thought “How are they going to wrap this up, they have no time left?” and then realize you’re only 20 minutes into a 2 hour movie, it’s just dragging and as beautiful of a movie as it is, you really want the plot to pick up, because you just want it to be over. *cough* Doctor Strange *cough*

Sometimes, it’s a bad movie that makes you cringe and you thank whatever deity you pray to that you’re at home and no one objects to turning it off in favor of watching paint dry. Other times, you paid fifteen bucks to sit in a packed theater full of people who don’t seem to notice that it’s never. going. to. end.

Feb 3, 2017

January Numbers 2017


Reading:
6 Books (+Oath Breaker)

https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/3909899

1 Classic Murder Mystery | 2 Graphic Novels | 1 Memoir | 1 Non-Fiction | 1 Sci Fi
 
I’m two below my goal, sadly. But I blame that on the beginning of the year, the general state of the world, and other goals taking precedence.


Writing:
43,256-words in 17 days
(AVG: 2,544-words/day)
4 Projects + Admin
 
abkeuser.com

I’m totally willing to count this month as a “win” in the focus category. December wasn’t because of the disparate numbers between admin and projects, but this time, Admin accounts for a little over 1/3rd (ish)!  And two of the projects make up the other 2/3rds (ish). It’s a lot of ish, but who cares! Progress!

 
Next month--
I have lofty goals for next month. And the biggest one is in that focus area. I need to rewrite a draft from scratch and my hope is to get that done next month. I got 133k down in February of 2013, I can get about 100k in this time, right? (Especially on a book I’ve already written twice before…)