That’s Three Done

Earlier this week I finished polishing (Vampires) Made in America. It is done. As done as I can get it. As done as I feel it needs to be to submit to agents. I don’t know that I’ll get an agent with it, but I do need the experience of submitting to agents and possibly making some connections. Gotta start somewhere.

(Vampires) Made in America started as a 2011 NaNo novel called American Vampires. That’s right. A little over six years ago, I wrote the first words of this book. It took me six years to call it done. Wild. But not unusual. At least for me. I wrote the first draft of The World (Saving) Series for NaNo 2010; it wasn’t finished until June of 2013 (it’ll never see daylight). I wrote the first draft of A Tale of Two Lady Killers for NaNo 2009 (I’m sensing a pattern here); it wasn’t finished until April of 2014.

I think for me part of the reason it takes me so long to complete a novel-length work is because of my loud brain. I can’t work on just one thing at once. I try to give myself time between first draft and first revision and then between revisions and then between final revision and polish to give the words time to settle. So, I find myself preoccupied with other, shorter projects during these breaks and the novel gets pushed down further and further down the priority list because “it can wait”.

I think the other reason is how overwhelming a task it seems to get a novel to the point of doneness. Thanks to NaNo writing the first draft of a novel is a breeze and also thanks to my experiences in revising, I’ve gotten better at writing first drafts that don’t require as many story overhauls as I used to (this past NaNo being a now rare exception). But still, compared to revising a short story or even a novella/novelette, a novel is a lot of work.

Another reason it’s so easy to push it down on the priority list. Putting off the pain.

I suppose with two more Outskirts novels, The End of the (Werewolf) Curse and To Tell the (Conjurer’s) Truth, waiting for their own rounds of revisions, I should probably not default to that so easily. If I want to show myself to be a worthwhile investment to an agent and/or publisher, it might be in my best interest to accustom myself to the practice of completely finishing a novel in a shorter amount of time, especially since the novels I write aren’t that long to begin with. After all, making a living by doing this is the whole point and improving only helps that.

I’ll start small. Try to get a novel totally done before it’s old enough to go to kindergarten.

It’s good to have goals.

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And Then Patreon Went and Changed Its Fee Business

Edit: Patreon changed its mind about implementing the fee changes. You can read about it here.

Okay, so Patreon has decided to change the way they charge fees. Until now, creators covered all of the fees that way when patrons were pledging a certain amount that was the true amount they were paying. Now, Patreon is moving some of the fees onto the patron. Creators will still get charged 5% and patrons will now get charged 2.9% + $0.35. You can read the full details here.

Patreon says that they did this to put more money into the creator’s pocket and to provide a more stable income because the fees we paid could vary month to month. Which sounds really nice.

But it’s really kind of not, when you think about it.

First of all, someone on Twitter pointed out that by charging both the creator and the patron, this makes Patreon more money. This is the reasoning I’m more likely to believe.

Second of all, creators are losing patrons left and right because of the fee change. They don’t want to pay the fees. And Patreon doesn’t suffer for that (they make plenty); the creators do.

I cherish all of the patrons that I have, but it’s no secret that I don’t have very many. I’m always actively trying to acquire more patrons as well as keep the ones that I have. This fee change does nothing to help me. It’s an asterisk on my selling point and it puts my current patrons in a bad position that makes them question if the fees are worth it to support me.

And all of this after I have everything ready to go for the next season of Muderville.

I’m now working on alternate methods of support. I have Ko-Fi and paypal.me. The fees associated with those are paid by me and me alone, so whoever buys me a cup of coffee or sends me money pays no fees. If I have patrons or potential patrons that would prefer this method, then I’m sure I can set up something here on the blog so people can still read Murderville, but support me through different means.

In the meantime, I’m going to keep plugging away and hope for the best.

December Writing Projects

Hello. I survived NaNoWriMo. As I mentioned in a few posts last month, it was a close call.

As anticipated, my first draft of The Coop Run is still not finished and I will continue to work on it throughout December. I’ve only written about 14,000 words (as of this post) because I had anticipated picking up my daily word count and that did not happen. Instead of writing more words, I started polishing (Vampires) Made in America. That will also continue throughout December. I’m a little more than half-way through, so I should have no trouble finishing it before Christmas.

I’m not sure I can say the same about The Coop Run. I suppose we’ll see. That pick-up in word count might still happen since I’ve got the majority of my Grinchmas making and wrapping done (the goodies I’m making have to wait so they’ll be fresh), but December has a way of sapping my energy. It’s one of the reasons why I usually don’t like to write first drafts during this month. But I did this to myself and I’ll see it through.

I’m also not sure how long this first draft is going to be. I was thinking it’d be another 50,000 words, but it might end up being closer to 30,000. Again, we’ll see.

So much seeing this month.

And since it’s the end of the year, I’ll be attempting to hash out a schedule/make some goals for next year. This year’s goals didn’t exactly work out. I only accomplished about half of them, but that happens. I have a tendency to be shit at long-term planning.

Here’s to hoping that I finish The Coop Run and end the year on a high note.

The Black Friday List

If you follow me on Twitter or have KikiWrites liked on Facebook, then you know that I’ve spent the past week starting on Black Friday promoting my work.

For convenience sake, here’s the entire list of everything I tweeted and posted about.

Gone Missing–Tom is missing and so is everyone else in this little town. And then the missing start to go missing. Also available as a paperback.

Yearly–12 months. 12 stories. Nice. Neat. Unnerving. Also available in print as a special edition that includes Gone Missing.

Night of the Nothing Man–Kim and Scotty are being stalked by a man with a nothing faced.

Hatchets and Hearts–Is Henry’s past repeating itself?

The Ivy Russell Novellas–Four novellas about private investigator Ivy Russell and the unusual cases she gets stuck with. The first novella, Cheaters and Chupacabras, is also available as a stand alone.

A Tale of Two Lady Killers–Of course Edda’s new start in life would come with a burlesque club, a gigolo, and a serial killer. Of course.

Spirited in Spite–What’s worse than Gret’s arch rival and a couple of questionable psychics crashing her paranormal investigation? The house is really haunted.

People Are Terrible–These thirteen stories just scratch the surface of just how terrible people really are.

Ghostly–Fourteen stories that leave you feeling that maybe, just maybe, you’re not alone. The Haunting of the Woodlow Boys is also available as a stand alone eBook or paperback.

Murderville–My Patreon project. Each season features a new duo attempting to solve an unusual death in Munsterville.

The Storytime Jukebox–A pay what you want venture. Drop some money in the jukebox and pick a story or stories from the list.

Ko-Fi–Buy me a coffee! A simple way to support all of my writing projects in one quick go.

All of the eBooks are $0.99-$2.99. The print books range from $5.99-$9.99.

Don’t forget that word of mouth is the strongest currency of all! Please share. If you’ve read any one of my books, please leave a review at Amazon, Goodreads, etc. Each star helps!

Writing- NaNo 2017 Winner

As I said last week, my official 2017 NaNo was finished in 14 days. Yesterday, I validated The Fate of the Immortal’s Assistant and got my fancy little graphic to let everyone know that I am, indeed, a winner.

But when I think of this first draft, I don’t feel very much like one.

Two weeks ago, I talked about how hard this particular NaNo was for me. And it was. Start to finish, I hit more snags than I did grooves, creating a stressful drag that I did not enjoy. Even more frustrating is that, at least in my head, I like this story. I like the characters. I like the setting. I like the whole thing.

I just struggled mightily getting everything I liked down on the page.

As soon as I was finished writing the final words of the first draft, I wrote revision notes on the first page. I’ve never done that before because I typically like the story to sit for a few weeks at least before I read it again with fresh eyes and make my notes. But this time, there was no need to wait. I knew before I finished writing the first draft the major problems that need to be fixed. And I’m sure I’ll find more when I read it again when it comes time to do the revisions.

Looking back, I think getting off on the wrong foot really set the tone of draft. I normally have that first line, that first scene waiting for me, and this time, I really didn’t. Instead, I started in the wrong place, too early in the story. What I wrote the first two days, I think, was pointless. Some of it can be salvaged for later on in the story, maybe, but it was a bad place to start. And instead of starting over, I powered through. The story had trouble flowing because I’d already built a damn.

The revisions are no doubt going to be extensive and exhausting, but thankfully, I don’t have to worry about them for a little while. At least not until early next year. But, this NaNo has definitely been a very good lesson, a hard one, a lesson that I didn’t know I needed to learn because I thought I’d already learned it.

Start your story off on the right foot and the journey will be a whole lot smoother.

Writing–So That’s NaNo 2017 Done

After two weeks and 50,011 words, the garbage first draft of The Fate of the Immortal’s Assistant is done. My official 2017 NaNo is done.

Now, the plan was for me to start on The Coop Run right on the heels of The Fate of the Immortal’s Assistant and I still intend to do that.

But not at the same pace.

By the first weekend of NaNo, I decided that I needed to pick up the pace so I could be done by the 14th. For some reason I had it in my head that this was the plan all along. Sometimes I’m dumb. Anyway, I wrote 5,000 words on Saturday to get my word count up to where I wanted it to be and then spent the next week writing 3,500 words a day instead of 3,000. On the next Saturday, I wrote 4,500 words to guarantee that I’d finish by Tuesday.

Yesterday, I wrote less than 3,000 words to finish the first draft and hit my 50,000.

I’m tired now.

The past two weeks, it felt like my life revolved around this NaNo. I think part of that is because of how difficult the story was to get started and the challenge of trying to write that many words in a day when I only have a few hours every afternoon in which I MIGHT not be interrupted. It felt like my focus was down to a pinpoint, just totally tuned in to NaNo.

This isn’t the first time I’ve done NaNo in 14 days or less. I did two novellas back-to-back in 12 days back in 2013 (while I was working 3 jobs, no less) and I did two novellas back-to-back again in 14 days in 2014. After both years, I swore I would NEVER do it again. And yet, here I am once again. Finishing 50,000 words in two weeks. And I planned to do it! Thought it was a good idea!

I’m not very good at keeping certain promises, I guess.

After the draining experience that was the last two weeks writing The Fate of the Immortal’s Assistant, I’m going to take it easy on the word count for The Coop Run. Writing at least 1,000 words a day will give me at least 15,000 words by the end of the month (give or take, depending on how deep my food coma is on Thanksgiving) and that’s a decent start. I normally don’t like to write anything new during December because it’s such a hectic month, but I’ve laid down this gauntlet and I’m going to finish it. Hopefully, after a few days of only writing 1,000 words, I’ll feel the urge to pick up the pace.

But right now, I feel like 1,000 words will be fine.

Writing–Was It Always This Hard?

Yesterday, I hit the halfway point for my NaNo. Well, I hit 25,000 words. I don’t know if it’ll be the halfway point of the actual story. The way it’s going, I think it might be.

I cannot remember, at least in the past few NaNos, struggling so much out of the gate. Typically for me, the first few days of NaNo are my easiest. The story is right there in the front of my brain and it is begging to be released. When November 1st rolls around, it’s like a floodgate opens and the story comes pouring out. I feel unstoppable. And I ride that momentum as long as I can because I know that come the middle of the story, I’m going to start to struggle a bit, slogging through until the climax starts to build. The middle is when the words are usually harder to come by.

This year, I was prepared for the same thing. A good start, followed by a bit of a slog, and then a strong finish. The story was in the front of my brain, patiently waiting, while I tried to keep myself occupied during the last few days of October.

Maybe that was a sign.

The story was there, waiting, but waiting patiently. There was nothing insistent about it. So, when November 1st hit, I found myself watching as a blank screen filled up with words in an almost painful way. And when I hit my word limit for the day, I looked at what I’d written and thought, “Holy shit, this is all garbage.”

First drafts are supposed to be garbage, I know. I’ve written enough of them to be very familiar with my particular brand of garbage, which has evolved over the years into a better quality of garbage. The first few days of this NaNo, however, reminded me of when I first started doing NaNo and the utter dreck that I wrote. Not that it wasn’t salvageable, by any means. But it takes a lot more work to recycle that kind of garbage into something worth reading.

The first week, I struggled to hit my stride, to find the story, to write the story like I knew what the hell I was doing. It’s like fifteen years of serious craft study had suddenly vacated my brain and in a damn hurry, too.

I hit 25,000 words yesterday, which is on target for where I want to be, and I thought to myself, “Has it always been this hard? Is it like childbirth? I just forgot about the agony as soon as it was over, only to be confronted again during the next labor and delivery?”

And the truth is, no. It hasn’t always been this hard. Or maybe I should say that NaNo hasn’t been hard in this way for a very long time. I think I do forget some of the “labor pains”, so to speak, from year to year, especially since I try to find ways to up the challenge of writing a 50,000 novel in a month. This year, the challenge was completely unexpected.

I do not relish the thought of revising this first draft. But I know that I will.

I can’t resist a challenge.

November Writing Projects aka NaNoWriMo

Oh, yes. It’s that time of year again. Here comes NaNo number 14.

Last month I wrote, revised, polished, submitted, had rejected,  and submitted again a short story called “The Fog of a Future Forgotten”. I finally got a solid working outline done for The Stories of Us After Them. And I have Murderville Season 2 all ready to roll starting in January, with the official promo coming out next month for patrons and in December for everyone else. So, I am heading into this NaNo with nothing pressing hanging over my head.

This year I’m going to do something a little different. Normally, I pick one project (either one novel or two connected novellas) and then write 2,000 words a day, 4,000 words a day on weekends, in order to get it done well before Thanksgiving. But this year I struggled to pick between two novels that I’d outlined back in September that would be ideal for dashing out 50,000 words or so in a few weeks.

So, I came up with a compromise.

My official NaNo novel for 2017 is going to be The Fate of the Immortal’s Assistant. My goal is to write at least 3,000 words a day, which will have it done in a little over two weeks. And then when it’s done, I’ll start writing The Coop Run and try to finish it before the end of the month. If I don’t, no big deal. My official NaNo will already be done. I should have enough of the novel’s first draft done that finishing it up in the first week or so of December should be no trouble.

I admit that this is pretty ambitious. But NaNo has been something that’s always allowed me to push myself and get creative about how I do that. Every year I think maybe I should be done and every year I find something to write and a way to make it challenging and interesting. This is where I grow.

Bring it on, NaNo. I’m ready.

Rerun Junkie- The Ghosts of Shows Past

This post features spoilers for the season 4 episode of NCIS: New Orleans, “Viral”, which aired October 24, 2017. Read at your own risk.

One of the interesting tics of being a rerun junkie is seeing the ghosts of episodes of shows long past in current shows. I have no idea if these influences are intentional or not, if the writers of these current shows have these old episodes in mind when they’re writing or if they’re unconsciously haunted by the phantoms of them or if they even know about them at all. The idea that I’m projecting isn’t something I’ve dismissed.

But my brain still makes connections whether they’re there or not, intentional or not.

For example, the other night I was watching NCIS: New Orleans, which is one of the few currently-in-production shows I watch with any regularity. In this episode called “Viral”, my beloved Sebastian, forensic field agent extraordinaire, shot someone during the course of a chase. If that wasn’t bad enough, it looked like he shot an innocent, unarmed man, not the armed and dangerous suspect he’d been chasing.

A cop shooting a suspect or an innocent person is a common story, both in the news and on police shows. However, this episode reminded me of two bygone episodes of cop shows from over forty years ago.

After the shooting, Sebastian is interrogated by an FBI agent about what happened. The way he’s questioned reminds me of an episode of Adam-12, “Log 33: It All Happened So Fast” (air date February 1, 1969). In that episode, Officer Jim Reed shoots a young man who’s shooting at him and his partner (also my TV boyfriend) Pete Malloy. A majority of the episode shows the repeated questioning that Reed is subjected to, some of which infuriates him because of the insinuations that he’s not telling the truth. He’s also upset over the fact that he had to shoot someone (as was Sebastian). Sebastian is subjected to similar questioning, though not for as long, obviously. There’s a mystery to be solved and a dangerous assassin to catch.

The real hitch in clearing Sebastian is, though he swears the suspect shot at him and that he saw him with a gun, there’s no gun to be found. This reminds me of an episode of Hawaii Five-O, “…And They Painted Daisies on His Coffin” (air date November 7, 1968). In that episode, my TV boyfriend Danno chases a young man with a gun into his apartment. When Danno shoots the lock, he believes he unintentionally shoots the man. However, there is no gun found on the suspect. Why? His girlfriend has taken it and fled the scene (running to the notorious Big Chicken), something that also happens to Sebastian when the wife of the dead “innocent” man (it turns out this couple isn’t so innocent) takes the dropped gun to protect herself and her husband and then shows up a few minutes later as the wildly grieving wife.

The twist in this case is less cop show, more masked hero adventure. The “innocent” couple was supposed to deliver the gun to the assassin so he could do a job. The shooting interrupts things and the assassin ends up killing the wife in order to get the gun. The gun is an air gun that shoots glass bullets. That made me think of The Green Hornet episode “The Silent Gun” (air date September 9, 1966). As the title suggests, the gun in question is a rare 17 caliber gun that’s absolutely silent when fired. This leads to a lot of people wanting this gun. (You can listen to me and Dan talk about this episode and all of the many names of people therein on Episode 33 of Eventually Supertrain.) The gun in “Viral” is just as coveted, at least by the assassin, and equally unique, though a little more believable. An air gun gets through security and glass bullets “disappear” on impact.

Like these old episodes, this new one ends happily. Sebastian is cleared (like Reed and Danno) and the bad guy is caught (the Green Hornet gets the gun AND Lloyd Bochner).

Because the good guy winning is an ending worth repeating .

The Seattle Break

The Seattle trip was a good one. We did the touristy things like going to the Space Needle, MoPop, the zoo, the aquarium, and Pike Place Market. We also ate really well as I’m now convinced that you cannot get a bad meal in Seattle. We drank at the hotel bar while watching playoff baseball and ordered room service so we wouldn’t miss any of the final Cubs/Nats game. The weather was cool, but pretty every day but one, when it was rainy and chilly, and we spent that day at the aquarium, so we didn’t notice. We fed penguins and touched sea cucumbers and petted Muppet fur and I ate a donut at the top of the Space Needle. Our hotel had a magnificent view of the water and the mountains, a gorgeous sight to wake up to. I ate breakfast at a little table looking out at that view every morning and watched the sunset from the balcony every evening.

Most importantly, I refrained from obsessive social media checking during the trip. Oh, I posted pictures to Facebook and Instagram and posted a few tweets during those six days (several during the last stretch of the trip home since our flight was delayed and it was starting to look dubious that we would ever leave Gate G5), but the obsessive checking and scrolling that I had vowed to refrain from before leaving was indeed refrained from.

And my sanity feels so much better.

In a way, the trip to Seattle was almost like taking a trip to a different reality. There, the agenda was different. My focus was on the immediate, the tangible. I was there to do some exploring and a little research. I was there to experience. And so I did. I forgot about the rest of the world for six days and I just experienced my immediate surroundings.

It was glorious.

I came back from Seattle feeling better than I have in months. My anxiety isn’t quite as close to critical. I feel calmer, more clear-minded, more relaxed. Refreshed. Hell, even while I was there I felt the shift in my sanity’s equilibrium. I was able to solve the outlining problems I was having on The Stories of Us After Them while I was there. I felt inspired, which helped with the bit of research I had planned. Seattle ended up being a salve on the open wound that was my mental health.

I am restored.

Now, I acknowledge a few things about this whole break. First of all, I know it’s a privilege for me to get to take this break. I’m lucky enough to have a roommate who was willing to drag me along on her trip and provide me the opportunity to get away for a bit and explore and research a new city. Not everyone has that sort of opportunity and I am forever grateful to her for providing this one for me.

I also acknowledge that not everyone has the privilege or the opportunity to disengage, especially for that long. Not with the way this government is operating. I think it is important for everyone’s mental health to take a break now and then, but I understand why it’s not possible for some people.

The final thing I realize is that I think it’s vital for me, at least, to disengage more often, more regularly, to take breaks from the obsessive checking and scrolling, to forget the world for a day. I think that I’m going to start doing this at least once a month, if not more often, just to try to maintain a little of that equilibrium I found out in Seattle.

I like that feeling of peace. I’m in no mood to lose it now.