Nov 1, 2017

October Numbers

Halloween is over and that means two things. #1: I don’t get to shop for home decor again for another 11 months. #2 it’s time for October’s numbers.

Words: 61,056 in 20 days
(Avg 3,053-words/day)
9 projects + Admin (16%)



I need less than 50k before January 1st to have written more this year than last. But it is safe to guess I won’t be getting the 263,107-words it would take to match 2013’s million words.

We’re at that special time of year. The one where the weather is crisp, the year is starting to roll down hill toward Christmas, and I start getting easily distracted… like a cat, with tinsel. Hopefully I’ll be able to keep plugging away at the writing like I did last year. *fingers crossed*

My day job changed on the 25th (as is pretty clear from the end of the month counts….) and I’m not sure how the writing stuff is going to shake down because of it. We shall see.

Time to go kick November’s butt.

Oct 31, 2017

Stranger Things Season 2

If you’re like me, you spent last weekend, binging Stranger Things Season 2. If you’re not like me and are taking it slow, you might want to come back later.
Having finished the show, I have opinions (when don’t I?), and I intend to share them with you (as always).
 
 

What I liked:

 
The friendship between Joyce and Hopper
As you’ll later see, I really love platonic friendship under drastic situations such as this. The brief glimpses at their shared past was fantastic, the way in which they support each other throughout figuring out what the heck is going on in the aftermath of Will’s return was delightful. And I hope against all hope that the series does not move toward putting them together as romantic interests.
 
WILL WAS ACTUALLY IN THE SHOW
After S1, Earl and I spoke at length about how strange it must have been for Noah Schnapp to land this role and then… not really be in the show. His character is such a huge part of the plot… and yet, he’s always in the periphery. So I was very happy to see him actually IN the show this time around. And it was lovely to see the way in which his disappearance affected both him and his mother (Jonathon less so), but also the after effects of his trauma and the manner in which the upside down followed him right back out.
 
The expansion of the threat
How many times have you loved a show, only to get to season two and realize that the people in the driver’s seat didn’t really know how they were going to escalate when it came to continuing on? A bigger bad isn’t always the best option, but they managed to keep things (mostly) in line with S1, without making me roll my eyes, or feeling overly repetitious. Always nice in genre shows that occasionally fall victim to the misguided whims of studios.

Steve (not as Nancy’s boyfriend, but definitely as the babysitter)
I was not a fan of Steve in season one. He was a jerk and his redemption arc was too shallow for me. But this weird big brother type friendship with Dustin in season 2 was pretty great. It says a lot about a guy who’s willing to give a kid the kind of ammo that comes in a Farrah Fawcett aerosol. It also says a lot that he (almost immediately) takes up with a kid who is not his (in limbo) girlfriend’s little brother to deal with Dart. He came into the game late, but he’s still going to do what needs to be done, when he could pull a comb through that hair and run the opposite direction.
That being said….

Dustin will ALWAYS be my favorite
Where Mike is broody, Lucas is logical, and Will is just trying to figure out WTF is going on with himself, Dustin is a little ball of sunshine. He knows exactly how dire their situation is and he’s the first to look for, find, and grab ahold of hope with both hands. It makes complete sense that he’d be the one who takes for granted the fact that Steve might not be naturally inclined to help. It makes sense that he would be the one scared out of his mind and still on top of the explanations for how their real-world situation can be explained by D&D. It makes sense that he would see a creature and not consider where it came from, just be caught up in the wonder of this new (albeit dangerous) thing. Dustin is the golden thread run through the series that drags everything else up so that it doesn’t drown in the darkness of the world that could so easily suck us in.

 

Now, let’s take a moment to touch on what I didn’t like.


Nancy & Jonathan
One of my favorite things in S1 was Nancy and Jonathan’s weird friendship. Even with him being a total creeper with the photos (seriously, not okay dude), I never got an actual sense either of them were romantically inclined. And I never wanted them to be*. I long for platonic friendship in situations like these, I wanted, so desperately for them to simply be friends through the whole series… but no, they had to get together because the conspiracy guy calls them out and then, nothing comes of it. There was nothing to make me believe that wasn’t thrown in on a whim…. Nothing to make me care that it happened.

WTF was up with Episode 7?
The information given in E7 was not, in itself a problem. It was that an entire episode was dedicated to only that.
So we see number Eight in the opening scene of E1, and then…. Nothing. She’s all but forgotten until she gets a whole episode.
I liked Eight. I would love to have had more of her (and I’m sure she’ll show up again in S3 or S4) but the episode was utterly disconnected when presented by itself. If they’d broken up the Chicago goings-on and spread them through other episodes, it would have been a wonderful addition. It was an opportunity to open up the effects of the upside down and the potential for the existence of 1-7, 9 &10, and how their existence effected the world at large. But the tone was so different, that, woven through it could have worked. Set apart, it felt like a plan for a spin-off.

The amount of set-up for Season 3
We know there are going to be two more seasons. It’s a thing now. But there were too many things that felt like we were being fed information that’s not going to really matter until next year when S3 dumps. And if some of those things never come around to be a bigger part of the show, I’ll have an even bigger problem with it. Max’s brother is loathsome (and not just because of that barf-worthy hair). But if all he was was a character developement device for Max… he got way too much screen time. See issues with Eight and her gang above.

Where was my Pissboy cameo?
I was REALLY hoping that there would be a moment at the Snow Ball, where you see pissboy in the background. Eleven doesn’t see him. Mike doesn’t see him. But he gets one look at her and pisses himself because he has 11-style PTSD, because there is no chance that kid made it out of his encounters with Eleven mentally unscarred.


*I don’t like Nancy and Steve either.

Oct 16, 2017

NaNo No No


As we hit the middle of October, I’m over here looking askance at NaNoWriMo.


I enjoy participating in the yearly ritual, but the book I’ve been planning to NaNo-up all year has been usurped in my schedule and while my req w/c for the new November project will more than adequately fulfill NaNo’s requirements…. The unfulfilled expectation chafes.


So I probably won’t do the thing.


Through September my average w/c per month has been just over 75k. I’ve never done NaNo as a challenge to get bulk words down. It’s only ever been about focus for me. And that’s part of the problem this year.


I’ll only need to write 2,370-words on average for the 30 days of November to finish my scheduled project. That, when I hold myself to strict deadlines… isn’t an issue. So, I’ve considered saying “screw it” and trying to pop in that 1,667-words for a NaNo run too… but my worry lies with what that will do to my focus.


The projects are different… but not different enough. The last thing I want to do is bleed them together. My first inclination is to throw caution and my pages to the wind and go for it. But that’s like carrying a birthday cake and its back-up, all at once. If you trip, you’ve ruined everything. One by one, you’ve still got the potential for salvage.


But I have 14 days to figure that out… right?

Oct 4, 2017

IWSG October


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.
 
 
Have you ever slipped any of your personal information into your characters, either by accident or on purpose?

I think we always put a little of ourselves into our characters, both main and secondary. It’s difficult not to. All narratives are drawn from personal experience (whether it’s something we’ve done, witnessed, or has been pieced together from a myriad of sources.)

Often, when creating characters, I try to evaluate first what I would do in the given situation, and then weigh that against what the character would do. Understanding why they’d do something differently than you would is important to keeping them true to themselves throughout the whole story. Especially important when you think of an awesome way to handle something… but it’s an action that character would never take (unless you can find a way to make them go against their predetermined nature.)

There is one book, currently in a weird draft purgatory, where its quick rough draft (a sprint-written document that’s about 50% of the end-goal word count) gave one of the main characters a backstory that was very nearly identical to part of my own past. In the process of notating what needed to change before I hunker down and write the actual draft, I’ve removed or changed that backstory in a way that it is only vaguely similar to what I experienced… because her story has a completely different “ending” than mine did.

Oct 2, 2017

September Numbers 2017

Another month down, another (low) word count in the books.

Words: 34,245-words in 17 days
(Avg 2,014-words/day)
9 projects + Admin (14%)

September came in about 9k short of January, previously my lowest recorded w/c for the year. There were many distractions, several days were I was not at a desk, and much editing was done, so I’m not upset by that number. It’s still above the totals for september in both 2015 and 2016, and still above the average for the whole of 2015. Woo.

This month also came with the realization I’ll need to alter my schedule for the end of the year to stay on top of things, on target for finishing those major tasks that just can’t wait, and still managing to stay sane.
 
We’re approaching the end of the year and that one month where I have zero goals (Looking at you, December). The holidays come with enough stress w/o me glaring at a spreadsheet with too low of numbers. Add to that the fact we’ve got a big trip planned around Christmas and it’s just better if I keep the month labeled as “open.” I love travel and I’m big on planning, so I’m trying to keep from being too giddy about it.  

 

Sep 26, 2017

The Disappearence of Flynn Monroe


It came to my attention early this morning, that I spaced addressing the disappearance of Flynn Monroe (that’s not the title of the next book).
 
Fact of the matter is: I meant to mention it, and then completely forgot.

(Yay, shoddy memory! Thanks, Idiopathic Temporal Lobe Epilepsy*!)

So, here’s the situation:

A short time ago, I pulled the Flynn series from all sales outlets. I did so in response to some quality concerns and have been working to correct those problems.

I plan to re release the series in the first quarter of 2018 (barring unforeseen circumstances.)

What this means for readers:

As all of the books in the series are able to stand alone, if you’ve already read books within the series, you won’t need to do a thing to read books 6+. Please accept my apologies for those errors you caught and know that I will do better in the future.

If you’ve only read some of the previously released versions, you won’t need to reread the corrected versions to continue on when they are released.

There are a few used print copies available on Amazon. I don’t suggest buying these. Aside from the fact they are not the corrected version, they are overwhelmingly overpriced.

Please accept my apologies.
I am very sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused. If you have any other questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Thanks,
Amy

*If you’re curious, the Wikipedia article on my condition is mostly accurate to my particular version of it down through the memory loss portion of the complications and prognosis section.

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.