chapter 16 blog
I first heard about National Novel Writing Month ten years ago in 2007. Since this will be my tenth year participating (in some way or another) I have decided to put together a celebratory timeline of my history.
What I've always loved about NaNoWriMo is that it has always inspired me to write. Even with all the years I've been unprofessional and dopey about it, I've finished at least one new book a year every year for the last decade.
I still strongly feel like the best reason to participate in NaNoWriMo is, well, to finish a novel. That being said, there are a lot of other very valid, very noble reasons to join and this year I'm going to start taking those other reasons a little more seriously. This is a great opportunity to interact with a community of writers, to talk about projects that mean a lot to me, and to keep track of my goals.
So stay tuned. Soon I will be announcing this year's project for NaNoWriMo (which I'm really excited about.) I'll also be tracking my progress on the official site as well as on my Writing.Com portfolio.
I'm very proud to announce that for this year's National Novel Writing Month I will be working on the novelization for Adventures!
Wonderful cover art by Alan Johnson
For those of you who don't know, Adventures is a gaming podcast on Youtube hosted by Stupidexport. I joined in at around the seventh episode as Radley and had the time of my life during the recording sessions.
After we recorded the final episode, Alan approached me about working more with the story. We both really bonded with the characters that we'd been playing, and collaborating on a multi-media project seemed like the natural next step.
What I'll be working on for NaNoWriMo is actually my second attempt at this particular project. As soon as it was brought up to me, I started writing a rough draft because I was so excited to be working in this world and with these characters, but I didn't top to think about just how difficult it would be to adapt a podcast into a book format. The answer is really, really hard.
The previous version was terrible. There was a lot of pointless dialogue, long descriptions of combat, traveling back and forth between towns and of course, loose ends. These are all things that are perfectly entertaining when listening to players squabble and commentate, but aren't very interesting to read about. The book was a mess.
I had fallen into the same trap a lot of other people have fallen into when working on these kinds of projects. If you're basing a book off of a game you played that you enjoyed, your instinct is going to be to keep every little detail in the book, and then add stuff on top of that. It makes sense because you want to stay faithful to the source material, you want to leave in all the moments that made you love the characters and the world, and cutting stuff out hurts. I have read a lot of rambling books/stories that have been adapted from games - and that's not what I wanted to write.
Outlining this project was a nightmare. I was trying to get player feedback from an old draft while trying to outline a new draft and listening to the podcast files and figuring out how to structure a project of this size, and it felt really hopeless.
That was when I got the idea to scrap all of the sections I had previously written and start with a clean slate for NaNoWriMo. This is an event that has helped me push through some of my trickiest projects in a timely manner. Getting this monster of an outline finished in time was a challenge. There was a lot of note-taking, several drafts of the outline, and lots of badgering my fellow players about their characters, but I think it paid off.
I feel very, very prepared for what will be my most organized NaNoWriMo ever.
Here we have the full transcripts from the podcast, two composition notebooks full of character notes, the finished outline and of course the notebook that I'll be writing in for NaNoWriMo.
Last week Alan was kind enough to do some character sketches in the notebook
I'm doing this blog because I wanted to tell you about my portfolio site, which just went up.
When I restructured this from a commission page to a work blog, I took down my portfolio site and since then it's been a hassle. I re-did the graphics, took down my most outdated pieces, wrote new pieces, edited them, re-did the graphics again, swapped out pieces, and it's been going on and on like that for a long time now.
The thing is I hate making mistakes - and I make so many of them. I want things to be perfect, and sometimes I find myself using the fact that they're never going to be as an excuse. It took me a long time to re-launch my portfolio because I spent a lot of time worrying about stupid stuff. The longer it took me to put it back online, the more pressure I felt to make it better - and eventually my standards just became so high they were unobtainable and trying to work on it at all became such a source of stress that it was easier to shelve than it was to finish - even though I really needed to have a portfolio site.
Today I realized how stupid that was. I'm not perfect, and I'm never going to be. My writing isn't perfect, and it's never going to be. If I keep getting bent out of shape about impossible things, I'm never going to get anywhere, and I have made it too damn far to turn back at this point. So I decided to break the cycle.
Instead of trying one last time to perfect an imperfect project, I just launched it instead. Now the things that I have ready can be seen, and I feel more motivated to work on the bits that weren't ready to go up today with the rest of it.
There are a lot of things missing - as I'm sure you'll notice if you check it out, and there's a little bit of placeholder content as well. I feel so relieved to have hit the "publish" button, even knowing that a lot of changes are going to need to be made and there's still a lot of work to be done.
I still have a lot of things to type/format to go on the site (and you'll notice there are a lot of blank spaces) and there's still some crediting/linking to finish, but it's something, right? I think this is a good step in the right direction, and already I can tell it's going to be very motivational for me.
Anyway, if you guys want to check it out it's right here:
There's going to be a lot of edits and stuff coming over the next several days, but this is what I've got done so far.
I've been doing more writing than I've been doing sharing that writing, and for that I apologize. I'm signing on now to bring people up to speed on what's been going on with me and my professional life.
I updated the graphics for Toxic Bubblegum, which now has a free edition of the zine that you can get just by signing up for our mailing list. We're also doing a lot more web content for creators now, and I highly encourage you to go check out the new site: Toxic Bubblegum
I stepped outside of my creative comfort zone to appear in a tabletop gaming podcast, called Adventures! It's run and hosted by Stupidexport, and even though we're done recording, there are still plenty of episodes left to come out. If you guys want to check it out and get caught up before my character is introduced in episode 7, then you can check out the pilot episode here: Adventures! Episode 1: A Natural One
Not to get too far ahead of myself, but there has been talk of a book adaptation for that, which I'm working on currently.
I also added a new page to this site, which just has a lot of cute animal pictures, but they're my cute animals, so I would highly recommend taking a look.
Other than that I've just been doing the usual stuff, getting kicked off of fiction forums for controversial political horror, submitting stuff to anthologies, and doing running a horror blog.
So that's about it. You guys can consider yourself caught up on all my work stuff! Thanks for checking out the site, and don't forget that I have a bribe slot still open, if anyone's interested in commissions.
The Harry Potter series has now been out for twenty years. It has made my day to see all of the touching tributes and stuff people have been posting. So many individuals have been moved and inspired by these books and words can't describe how happy I am to see that after twenty years, everyone still cares so deeply about this series. I thought I should take a minute to write about my personal experience growing up with Harry Potter in my life.
Not long after my parents moved us from my first, true home in California, I was sent "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" as a gift. I was not quite four years old, and my mom wasn't sure that I'd be able to follow the story, but she decided to try and read the first chapter to me.
A lot of my earliest, distinct memories are of that house in Kansas, waiting to find out what happened to Harry and his friends. We only stayed there a year or so, and when we moved my parents got me the first couple books on tape so I had something to listen to in the truck on the way over. I wasn't ever scared on the road, because I was making the trip with friends.
I learned to read so that I could re-read the books for myself. I learned to write so that I could write about how much I loved these books. I got into gaming because I found out EA was adapting Sorcerer's Stone. I learned to conquer my fears because I wanted to know I belonged in Gryffindor with my heroes. I learned every spell and every creature. I spent more time at Hogwarts than I did anywhere else.
I went to every midnight release, for the books, for the movies. I wore my Hogwarts uniform to every Harry Potter birthday party and magic-themed summer camp. I learned what it was to fall completely in love with a book for the first time.
J.K. Rowling was my first hero. She taught me that women can do anything - both through the strong characters she wrote and through example, because there was nothing in the world more impressive to me than the person who had created Harry Potter. She was the person I wanted to be when I grew up.
These books are the reason why I'm a writer. I don't write fantasy, or anything suitable for children, but I do write every single day, and Harry Potter is where that all started. I owe so much of who I am to this wonderful series, and I am eternally grateful to J.K. Rowling for making such a wonderful, inspiring world for me to grow up in.
Earlier this year I got to see my extended family for the first time in years. My aunt gave me the collector's set of Harry Potter books, which she had bought for me years and years ago but never sent. I was as happy getting them as an adult as I would have been as a child.
Today, I got my copy of Harry Potter à l'école des sorciers and I will start the series over in a new language. After two decades of being helplessly in love with these books, they're still inspiring me to learn new things and face new challenges.
It's been a rough week. A really, dark, twisted week that I don't ever want to look back on. There is one really awesome thing that came out of it though, and that would be my new laptop.
Courtesy of the world's best boyfriend, I now have a functional computer to game on and do work things on, and then game on some more.
Assuming that I don't get too sucked into Steam (again), I think this is going to be really good for my productivity. I don't yet have a functional copy of Microsoft Word which means that converting documents for submissions (and NGHW challenge entries) is still going to be a slow process, but all the rest of it is going to improve. My online work is already going so much better.
I can load my blogs, see my portfolio site preview, and I'll be able to get through content faster which means more reviews, lists, and articles for the horror blog. Plus, gaming!
I can see how gaming might also threaten my productivity, but it also means I can start reviewing horror games again, and that's really exciting. (Plus I can finally, finally play the copy of Evil Within that I bought myself right before my Alienware started going out.)
I just wanted to let you guys know that I can do more work things, and for the first time in a long time, doing work things feels less like a chore. So thank you guys for checking in and I will let you all know how that goes, but in the meantime I'm off to play Diablo 3, I mean, get some work done.
Well... the short answer is no. I should definitely not write any more poetry than I absolutely have to.
For those of you who are interested however, here's the long version:
Since I started participating in The Next Great Horror Writer's Contest, just about everything that could go wrong, has gone wrong. I recorded my interview doped up on cold medication to fight a bug that was going around the south. I wrote the first challenge while trying to move across country. I did the next two challenges after that doped up on cold medication trying to fight a different cold bug that was going around the north. I've had personal drama and work drama and technical difficulties - and so far 2017 is just proving to not be my year.
A couple weeks ago I posted a blog about how I was taking a step back from submissions to focus on this contest because I feel like I haven't been giving it my all. I felt pumped up and ready, and a day or two after the challenge came in, I got a stomach virus. Some medical drama, bed rest, and nearly two weeks of eating nothing but soup later - I'm mostly back on my feet, but I have learned something really important about myself.
I'm not a poet.
I didn't think this challenge was going to be easy by any means. Poems aren't my medium and though I consider horror/romance to be one of my favorite genres, it's something I've never in my life written, or even attempted to write. Still, being on bed rest I had plenty of time to do my research. I watched some of the most romantic films of all time, read some of the best horror poets in history, and I was more confident in my ability to write one short poem in the genre than I should have been. It's really, really hard to do.
As a kid I loved poetry. I loved it a lot and I wrote it a lot. One of the first hints that my parents had that I was going to be a writer was actually because I got to read a poem I had written on the local news after it won an award at a young author's conference. This was an interest of mine that briefly resurfaced in high school - I was in a punk band that I had the "pleasure" of being lyricist for. I don't know why I thought winning a children's poetry contest fifteen years ago or writing the sort of lyrics acceptable in a punk band desperate enough to let me play guitar qualified me in any way to write poetry now, but it doesn't.
This has been an exercise in perseverance for me. I've spent more time working on this entry than any of the other entries thus far, and I think it's safe to say that it's the worst one I've submitted (maybe second worst... the second one I did on the cold medication really doesn't make a lot of sense reading it back, sober.) I have literally dozens of pages of bits and pieces of different poems that I tried out that were amazingly worse than what I ended up with. I have dragged up poems from when I was in high school and tried to rework story concepts I've had into some sort of passable poetic...something.
Although the poetry experiment failed miserably for me, I did learn a lot about what sort of stuff I want to do, and what sort of genres I like working in. This contest, even when it's frustrating and discouraging like with this challenge, is teaching me a lot about myself and my goals.
For instance - although horror/romance is something that I think is beautiful beyond comparison when done well, it's also nothing that I feel like I need to focus on at this point in my life. I think the best romance stories are stories that set out to be something else entirely, so I think if I ever were to write something that is genuinely moving on a romantic level, I probably wouldn't realize that until after it was over. Setting out to write a horror romance masterpiece would be fruitless for me, even though it would be cool.
What I really want to do is write splatterpunk and political horror. <sarcasm> Shocking, right? </sarcasm>
The political horror I didn't necessarily discover through the poetry challenge, I just discovered it at the same time. A few months ago I was very politely removed from a certain website for a controversial piece I wrote for a horror fiction thread. I found a controversial political horror anthology to submit it to and just a couple days ago I got a nice shiny rejection letter for the piece because it was too pessimistic. I didn't expect to get in, but I also didn't expect to be so inspired by being turned down. If I can write political horror too controversial for the internet and too pessimistic for fans of controversial horror - maybe that's exactly what I should be doing with my life. (And for the record, the piece really isn't that controversial or that depressing.)
The splatterpunk thing however, really has been inspired by the poetry challenge. Although I did not like writing in any of the poetic forms that I tried, and I was underwhelmed by the freeform "poem" that I wrote (that was basically just a short letter) and I didn't like having to play up the romance aspect of the challenge, I liked the language quite a bit and would really like to apply that sort of beautiful verbosity to, well, something that makes people cringe. That has always been something that I'd like to do in the abstract, but now I feel like it's something that I'd like to stop thinking about and start actually doing.
Of course, this contest is still going to be my top priority. I'm afraid to say that I'll try harder to do better (every time I say that I seem to get sick and or my computer crashes) but I still feel very honored to be participating in this, and it deserves all the attention that I have to give it. On the side though, I think I'm about ready to start stepping up the gore quite a bit - at least for a little while.
So that's a fun journey that we all have to look forward to.
Thank you guys for reading and for your interest in my work. I do appreciate it, and hopefully you'll be hearing more from me soon.
Since it's the start of a new month I thought that I would drop in with some updates and share what kind of stuff I'll be working on.
The one big update is that because of The Next Great Horror Writer contest, I'll have to cut back on the amount of new submissions that I'm writing every month. Trying to stay on top of those has really been distracting me from doing my challenges, even though I know that they should be priority. This is a great opportunity and I feel like I haven't been giving it my all, because I've been trying to balance it with too many other things. I'll still be submitting things, but unless my challenges are done I'm not going to be writing new material specifically for submissions.
As for the things that I'll be working on (aside from the month's challenges, obviously) I mostly plan on sticking to my manuscripts, for a change. I mean, they have to get done at some point - and the sooner I have the rough drafts done, the sooner I can start trying to fix them.
I'm also working through a daily prompt book for short horror pieces. I don't know if any of them are going to lead to more serious stories, but I'm having fun with it if nothing else.
And that's about everything that I can think of. Thank you guys for your continued interest in my work, and hopefully I'll have more updates soon.
All the best,
It has been a really crazy week - I went on an impromptu road trip, recorded an episode of a gaming show, and got a bunch of free books. With all of the excitement I didn't get to share some exciting news with you guys.
My writing.com anthology finally came in!
For those of you who are new to the blog, I found out last year that I had one of my WdC pieces accepted into this anthology, and have been waiting for my copy to arrive since late last year. There were some surprises in here now that I've actually gotten to read the collection.
The first is that the story I have featured is The Dragon of Westmont, which I didn't know until I came across it. I was led to believe that the piece of mine they had selected was Sole Survivor. That means that I've been officially recognized under my own name for both fantasy and horror, which is pretty neat.
The second cool surprise was that my story was up near the front, since it was apparently an editor's pick. I have to admit, that made me feel pretty good about the story, although I don't normally think of it as one of my best.
Anyway, it was really cool to see my name in print. Even if the book isn't a huge deal (and I'm not getting paid for it) all of my previous publications have been independent and or online. I was very honored to have been chosen for the anthology and it was great to see my name alongside so many talented writers - many of whom I'm lucky enough to consider friends.
That's what has been going on with me lately - and my cool writing news for the month. Other than that it's been a lot of writing in hotel rooms and scratching reviews on the back of fast food receipts.
With any luck, I will have some more cool updates on projects and work stuff soon, but in the meantime, thank you to everyone reading this. I appreciate you guys checking in, and it feels really good to know that people are actually looking for updates on my work now.
All the best,
.Hello readers (and potentially listeners)!
Episode #137 of the Horror Addicts Podcast was released today - and I'm in it. It's for the Next Great Horror Writer contest, which I'm participating in. I have a 100 word horror story in the episode and I have some sound clips in there - you guys can hear me try to answer questions about horror while I'm all doped up on cold medication. That's fun. (Actually I recorded all of my answers AND bumpers for this season of the podcast while on cold medication, so you guys potentially have several weeks of that to look forward to.) For anyone wanting to check that out, here is the link.
Horror Addicts Podcast Episode #137
I also got called the resident goth for this year's competition, which I thought was cute. Nobody has called me a resident goth or any other kind of goth since I was nine or ten, so it definitely brought back some fond memories. As long as there are no goths listening who are going to be offended by my overly bright hair or my Blink 182 tattoo or my occasional splatterpunk fiction, I am happy to claim that title.
Listening to this was quite the revelation for me. Hearing the talent from the other competitors and getting to experience their work being read by such great hosts, it made me feel incredibly lucky to be participating alongside such wonderful writers.
I am working on the next challenge, trying to balance it with my regular submission schedule and it has been difficult, but I think I'm starting to get into the swing of it. Now if I can get this nasty cough to go away so I can spend a little less time in bed, things are going to be great.
Thank you guys for reading and extra thanks to those of you who follow the link.