Cover Reveal! Come to the Rocks

The moment has finally arrived. Feast your eyes on the most delicious cover for Come to the Rocks.

Isn’t that magnificent?

The cover was designed by the super talented Natasha Snow and the novelette will be available from NineStar Press very soon!

So soon that you should stay tuned for details.


What a Difference a Book Makes

I’ve just wrapped up the first round of revisions/rewrites on The End of the (Werewolf) Curse and I’m feeling pretty pleased with myself. I think I might need only one more round of light revisions, and then I can polish it up. I stress might. Like, I said. Right now I’m feeling pretty pleased.

Part of that is because I am pretty satisfied with the work I’ve done on the novel and how swell it’s all gone so far.

The other part is me comparing the work on this novel to the work I did on (Vampires) Made in America.

For those of you playing the home game, you know that both of these novels, as well as another NaNo first draft called To Tell the (Conjurer’s) Truth, is all part of my Outskirts universe that began with the short story “My Winter with Stanley”. So comparing the revision process of the two novels makes sense.

I wrote the first draft of (Vampires) Made in America for NaNo in 2011 and back then it was called American Vampires. While the basic story remained intact throughout several revisions, the context of the story changed dramatically. We’re talking major rewrites. I think I rewrote it at least twice before I could even get to the point of doing revisions.

Contrast that with The End of the (Werewolf) Curse. I wrote it for NaNo in 2015. I did some light rewriting to probably the last third of the book, along with some revisions throughout. That’s it.

The biggest difference between the two were the first drafts. When I wrote (Vampires) Made in America, I was still learning how to write a first draft effectively (though I’d already learned quite a bit by that point), but outline for the book was probably the best I’d done at the time. When I wrote The End of the (Werewolf) Curse, I knew what I was doing. I had the outline and I knew how to write what I was writing. The years of practice in between had paid off.

And because the first draft was better (though still garbage because first drafts are supposed to be), the revisions have been better.

Sometimes it’s hard for me to tell if I’m getting better as a writer. Comparing myself to other writers isn’t really good for my ego because I read so many who are much better than I am.

So to see that at least the actual technique of my work has improved, well, that’s something I can appreciate.

Even if I’m the only one.

March Writing Projects

Last month I said I was only going to work on revising The End of the (Werewolf) Curse, but thought I might do something else, too, because I so rarely do just one thing.

Yeah, no. That was it.

And I didn’t even get it done.

Okay, I sort of knew that I wouldn’t get it done in February because I typically only revise one, maybe two chapters a day and there are more chapters in the first draft than days in the month. Throw in a couple of unwell days when I didn’t do as much as I’d like and a couple of tough spots to revise, and there was no chance of getting it done before March.

However, it shouldn’t be any trouble to get it wrapped up in the first week of March. The ending needs some real work and some of it could be a struggle, but I think I can get it done.

And after I do, I’m going to work on a short story that might likely become the first chapter of another novel. We’ll see. Story first.

I’m also going to be working on submitting some of the short stories that I have done that are just sitting there. I need to get back in that game a little bit.

If you’re curious, I’m keeping up with my experiment to write a page a day on a novel. It’s about sixty pages of nothing like I’m currently working on and I find it very refreshing to write a page not knowing exactly where it’s going to go and having only a vague idea of the story.

This experiment is going rather well.

Episode 3 of Murderville: The End Of goes live on March 13th. Don’t miss out! Become a patron for a $1 an episode and read about Detective Josh Carpenter and his sister-in-law, death investiagor Lu Jones, as they try to solve the mysterious death of another Munsterville resident. For $2 an episode, you get all of that murdery goodness, plus bonus content, including peeks into other projects I’m working on. It’s never too late to get in on the killer fun.

Upon Review: A Tale of Two First Drafts

I spent the last week of January reading over two first drafts: The End of the (Werewolf) Curse, which I wrote back in 2015 for NaNoWriMo, and The Fate of the Immortal’s Assistant, which I wrote this past November for NaNoWriMo. One turned out to be in better shape than the other, which kind of surprised me.

I remember when I finished writing The End of the (Werewolf) Curse that I wasn’t very happy with it. I thought it was going to need a lot of work and so I shoved it to the side to wait its turn, in no hurry to get to it. I expected to feel the same when I read it this last month. I went in expecting that it still needed some serious work.

Gleefully, I was wrong.

Maybe gleefully isn’t the right word, but after the rough time I’ve had with my first drafts lately, I felt pretty gleeful.


It will need work, of course. There are some minor things that need to be taken care of and I have to do my usual thing of adding in details because I’m the worst at description. But as far as heavy rewrites, which is what I was expecting, that’s not in my future with this story. I’m actually really pleased how well the first draft did turn out.

Ah, those were the days, when I remembered how to write.

Because The Fate of the Immortal’s Assistant was just as bad as I remembered it. Yes, not too much time has passed, but even a decade wouldn’t erase that memory or the accuracy of it. I could see the struggle I had during that writing process in the words. It’s going to to take major rewrites to fix this story. Major rewrites. Major.


When I was reading the first draft, I could see exactly what needed to be done to fix the story. So while this story will take a lot of work, I have a very good idea of what that work is and that is somewhat of a comfort.

I’m still not looking forward to doing all of that heavy lifting, but at least when it’s time, I’ll know just how heavy that lift will be.

February Writing Projects

January was a thing, man.

I finally finished the first draft of The Coop Run. It took until the third week of January to get it done, but it’s done. After that, I spent the final week reading over the first drafts of The End of the (Werewolf) Curse and The Fate of the Immortal’s Assistant and made revision notes for both. One got more revision notes than the other. I’m not looking forward to dealing with that.

And on the final day of January, I submitted (Vampires) Made in America to an agent. Fingers crossed and all that. I’m just happy to get the practice doing the query/synopsis/bio thing. Okay, that’s not true. It’s hell, but I still need the practice.

This month I’m going to revise The End of the (Werewolf) Curse.

Yep. That’s it.

I’ve felt like I’ve been pulling my hair out and banging my head against a wall and several other cliches that have put me at the end of my cliched rope. I need a recovery month.

Okay, yes, I know. It’s me. This probably won’t be the only thing I do this month, but it’s the only thing  I’m definitely going to do this month.

Let’s call this a working break.

The second episode of Murderville: The End Of comes out on the 13th. $1 an episode lets you read. $2 an episode, you get to read and you get the bonuses, including one this month that comes out on the 27th. Don’t miss out! Become a patron!

The Long and Short of Some First Drafts

Safe to say that since I started doing NaNoWriMo, the majority of the first drafts of the novels I’ve written have been written during 30 days (or less) in November. In fact, it’s been so long since I’ve written the first draft of a novel outside of November that I can’t remember the last time I did it.

I mean before this last time.

My bright self decided after finishing the first draft of The Fate of the Immortal’s Assistant to immediately start on the first draft of The Coop Run. Had the former gone better, then perhaps the latter would have, too, and I wouldn’t be writing this post.

But the former didn’t and that could be why the latter took me more than two months to write.

The original goal was to write The Coop Run in the two weeks I had left in November. Once I finished writing the slog that was the first draft of The Fate of the Immortal’s Assistant, I didn’t have the energy to keep up the needed pace of 3,500 words a day to get it done. I decided to take it a little easy for a while, only writing 1,000 words a day, and then I’d pick up the pace. It looked at the time like the first draft would only be about 35,000 words and if I picked up to 2,000 or 2,500 words a day, then I’d have it done in the first week or so of December.

Oh, how dumb I can be.

It’s no secret that the holidays are my least favorite time of year and I actively try to not work on big projects during them because the entire month of December drains my life force. Let this past December be a good reminder of that.

Instead of my word count on The Coop Run picking up, it went down. I was basically writing 500 words a day most days and calling that good. I just didn’t have the energy to write more. I did end up picking up the pace to 2,000 words after January 1st, though that dipped again the week of my birthday. The slog feelings from The Fate of the Immortal’s Assistant carried over to The Coop Run, though I think overall it turned out to be easier to write, especially toward the end.  It also turned out to be longer than I thought it’d be. Instead of 35,000 words, it ended up around 56,000.

I actually ended up sick of writing the story. I wanted to be done so badly but just couldn’t push hard enough to finish it. It was a miserable feeling. And instead of feeling satisfied when I wrote the last word, I felt relief. Overall, it wasn’t the most enjoyable first draft writing experience I’ve ever had.

I do believe that I’ve learned my lesson, though.

No more novel first drafts in December!

2018: The Experimental Year

When I was younger, my two preferred career choices were either shark biologist or meteorologist with a specialty in tornadoes. Because I only like science when it wants to kill me. Okay, that’s not entirely true, but my interest in science could be the reason why I’m doing a few experiments this year.

Or calling them experiments, anyway.

I suppose it might be more accurate to call them challenges or resolutions, but I already make half-assed resolutions, so I don’t need any more. And I don’t like calling them challenges. I do challenging things and they’re tiring. I don’t want to be exhausted just thinking about these things.

So, instead, I approach them scientifically. Because I love the scientific method. Somehow, that doesn’t sound exhausting to me.

I hadn’t intended to do any experiments this year, but in the last few days of 2017 and the first day of 2018, three ideas came to me and I decided to act on them.

Experiment #1: 100 Days of Exercise

December was a disaster for me fitness-wise. I was only a few days in and I was like, “Yeah, I’m tired. Can we be done?”, which fed into the struggles I’d already been having with my exercise routine. During my reset week (the days between Christmas and New Year’s Eve), I watched a lot of videos of people doing things every day for 100 days: going to the gym, doing push-ups, making origami birds. It inspired me to do my own thing.

At least twenty minutes of exercise every day for 100 days. I’m hoping that this will jerk me out of my exercise slump and help me feel better so I won’t descend into another slump later in the year.

Experiment #2: Write a page a day

Yes, I already write a lot. Just about every day in fact. I write whole novels in November. But as it’s commonly said among writers (or maybe I’ve just read it a few times and now I think it’s common), if you write one page a day, by the end of the year, you’ll have a book. And I want to try that.

I picked one of the story ideas that I got towards the end of 2017, one that I really like, but have no idea when I’d write. This experiment solves that. Now, I don’t know if I’ll actually write 365 pages of this story; I don’t think I’ve ever written any story that was that long, even double-spaced. But I will write one page a day, every day, until it’s done. That works for me.

I can also use this as a warm-up page to help me get into my writing work on the days I’m feeling sluggish and a bit procrastinate-y.

Experiment #3: Write four sentences in four different languages

By virtue of Duolingo, I’ve been studying different languages. I started with Spanish, which I took two years of in high school, because I needed to brush up in order to teach it to my nieces for their home school curriculum. When I finished all of the lessons in the Spanish section, I started with French. I hated French, so I didn’t get very far before stopping for a while.

When I picked it back up, I added Russian to my languages because I’ve always been fascinated with their alphabet and wanted to learn to read it. When Duolingo offered Czech in beta, I quickly added it, too, since it has some similarities to Russian.

Yes. I’m insane.

To help my understanding and memory retention, I thought it’d be a good idea to actually write a sentence in each language every day. Just one sentence per language and it doesn’t have to be a difficult one. It doesn’t even have to be the same one. With Spanish, I can pretty much write whatever comes to my head, but with the others, I’ll probably be copying sentences from the lessons until I get more comfortable.

I have no idea if this will actually help me with learning my languages, but I figure it can’t hurt. It’ll also be a good use for one of my many, many notebooks.

I’m looking forward to doing these three little experiments. If anything, they’ll make my year a little more interesting.

Science must be served!

January Writing Projects

Hello, 2018! I hope you’re prepared to do a lot of writing things because I know that I am, despite how I ended 2017.

Okay, so, yeah. The Coop Run didn’t get finished. But I do know that it’s going to be closer to 50,000 words since I passed the 30,000 word mark and it’s not done. So, that’s something. I did finish the final polish of (Vampires) Made in America, though. I wasn’t totally consumed by jolly fatigue.

It makes my plans for January pretty obvious. Finish the first draft of The Coop Run and submit (Vampires) Made in America to agents.

Those are the two main things, though obviously submitting (Vampires) is going to be something that happens throughout the year because I expect this to be more of a learning experience than anything.

I’m also going to be doing some reading. I’m going to read the first draft of The Fate of the Immortal’s Assistant and the first draft of The End of the (Werewolf) Curse and make some revision notes. I’m going to be working on both of these novels during the year, so I might as well start now.

I think that will be enough to keep me busy.

Murderville:The End Of starts January 9th! Become a patron and don’t miss an episode. $1 an episode let’s you read; $2 an episode gets you bonuses as well. It’s a steal!

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.

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 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.