Category Archives: Writing

Writing from Prompts: Demon (Orig Pub 8/6/2017)

Smallis leaned back in his chair. It had taken a long time to learn the arcane symbols needed to program a video slot machine, but he’d finally done it. He’d created the most powerful summoning program ever created. He was going to be famous. He spun the chair around twice, then clicked to send the app live.

He put his hands behind his head. “Suck it, you archaic dicks.”

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9-27-2020

eBay Sales: Lemax figure, vintage plush, blown glass pumpkin, pair of rag dolls

Craft Projects Completed: 0

To Do Lists completed: updated a website

Dead Bulb Watch: 20 Days (Paused until Monday)

#MilWordy Update: 50,318 words (need to do 2,801/day to complete on time)

Today was the final day of the Sumo Basho (Tournament). They’re 15 day long and we — as a family — watch the basho with dinner. The highlights are played on NHK TV. It’s fun and compressed into half an hour. And I really want to watch a series of mystery novels featuring a former sumo wrestler. I’ve got a list of titles, and the beginnings of a character sketch, but I feel the need to do a lot more of a deep dive into the actual sport before I go too far with it. So far my research has been stymied by not reading Japanese well. And I don’t know if relying on Google Translate is going to be my friend in this case. Still, it keeps popping up in the back of my head. And if I manage to get going on my writing and keep going at the rate of 3K per day, well, I’ll need those ideas sooner rather than later.

My next goal is to finish off a Christmas / Yule themed short story for Patreon, and then keep working on the Promises Universe novels. Maybe if I compress the time I’m working on them, I’ll get them completed more quickly.

I have some editing to do for the press, and I need to get the royalty payments out to our authors this week, so I should sign off from here and get some more administrative things done.

Hmmm… I need a new tag-line for fall. Love, Luck, and Lollipops is too summery. Let’s try Pumpkins, Leaves, and Laughter, my boos!

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9-20-2020

eBay Sales: collectable car

Craft Projects Completed: 0 (but I did get a few rows knitted)

Dead Bulb Count: 15 Days (paused until Monday)

#MilWordy Update: 40,992 (Look how close we are to 50K and it’s not been a full month yet.)

I spent most of the day working on eBay things. I did enough listings to fill two boxes to go down to the storage shelves. Then, I went through the boxes of things for sale to find anything having to do with Halloween or Christmas and brought those upstairs. It’s amazing how many items are just waiting for me to list and send off to new homes. It’s a satisfying to see things leaving the house. At the same time, I’ve been through my stacks of items several times in order to find items to go to Goodwill and other thrift stores.

I’m doing my best to sell things before sending them off to a thrift shop though, since I know that they’re overloaded. Heck, Goodwill is just selling pallets of unsorted donations to people. That is a sure sign that they’re overloaded. Everyone who’s been off has had the chance to do some spring cleaning. I’m only donating things that I can’t ship easily. Or things that will be better if someone can touch them. For example, if I want to get rid of a large poster frame, it makes sense to send it to the thrift shop as opposed to trying to ship it.

I’m going to start exploring Facebook marketplace for things, but I just don’t really want to spend time on Facebook these days. It’s just been getting to be a stressful swirl for the past few months. I want to keep in contact with the few people I have no other contact information for, but I just can’t see that happening if I leave Facebook completely. I’m going to need to think about whether or not I really want to stay in contact with people who aren’t actually friends. I’m fairly certain that being sure that not having contact information beyond being FB friends means that we’re not close enough that I should worry about. Ug. I hate big decisions like that.

Other than eBay stuff, it’s been a pretty bland day. I’m about to launch into some sprints (along with a video of someone else doing the same thing) just to keep myself writing. I’m getting a little behind on my schedule, but I’m still under 2800 words per day. As long as I keep it there or lower, I’ll survive. I can do about 1K in a 25 minute sprint and I’m going to make sure I do at least 2 sessions with a friend (via Discord) this week to keep myself moving forward.

And check it out, I’m on a streak that’s 20 days long. I think that may be the longest daily blogging I’ve ever managed, if you don’t count pre-scheduled posts like the writing from prompts I’ve been doing. Which reminds me, we’re about due one of those aren’t we?

The fandom story I’m working on has turned into a meditation on agency and I’m not sure how deep it’s going to get. It’s also got characters airing out emotions and issues and finding resolution before their mission because mission mindset means you don’t walk into a mission without eliminating the negative energies. It’s surprisingly mature for the team, but it also means that all of the little things that could be used against them can’t be. They’re no longer weaknesses if they’ve been talked out. Even if the issues aren’t completely healed, at least everyone’s taking the time to process them before they become a problem.

And I’m trying my hand at building actual emotional and mental health consequences for the histories of the characters. It’s good practice for when I’m working on original stories.

That’s my plug for why fanfiction is a good thing by the way. It lets the author test out plotting and character reactions without having to come up with all of the world and character details. They can take two characters from their stock, put them into a situation and play around without how things work out. And it’s not the investment it would be if you were creating characters from scratch. It lets and author play with tone and type of writing. You’ll rarely find me writing in present tense because I’ve tried it out in fanfic and I don’t like how it flows or feels unless I’m deep inside someone’s head and/or it’s a mental breakdown or a dream. It gives stories a very strange feeling and it might be useful in a horror short story, but a full novel would make me want to throw my computer out the window.

I’m stepping off my very short soapbox now. TTFN.

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9-17-2020

eBay Sales: None

Craft Projects completed: 0 (Though I went to JoAnnes today and ended up getting some clay. For free even. It was cool. Their Deco line for Halloween has some beautiful pieces in it — things which can just go right into your home decor. Check it out on line. It’s been described as Gatsby meets Addams Family.)

Dead Bulb Count: 13 Days (paused because I didn’t go in today)

#MilWordy Update: 35,873 words

It’s been a bit of a filler day. The sort of day that would be glossed over in the book you’re reading. It probably wouldn’t even be mentioned. Unless what I was picking up on my errands was necessary to the plot. Like, “she stopped at the craft shop and picked up the clay for the productive pendants” or something like that. “She sped shopped through the grocery store to stock up for the coming programming binge.”

It’s been more than a week of #MilWordy now and I have to say that it’s at least reaching my goal, which was to write every day. I have been not going to bed before at least doing a blog post. That is the bare minimum, but it’s a lot better than going months without putting fingers to keyboard. I’m closer to finishing a Nano before November even. It breaks down to doing just about 2700-2800 words per day to meet the final deadline. That’s an average. So, there’s some days when my production is down low and others when it’s rather high. And of course, there are those days when nothing gets done just because work has killed my brain. But then there are those days when I can spill out several thousand words without even thinking about it. I have a non-publishable story that’s gotten itself a plot that was missing. (Non-publishable AKA fandom-related.) And I’ve developed another new character to feature in short stories. She might develop into something of a short-story collection, or be featured in the Patreon offerings.

Shout out to my fellow Jules Verne fans who are writers — Golden Fleece Press is doing a Jules Verne inspired anthology and still needs stories! So, if you stroll on over and submit with the usual guideline just make sure Jules Verne is in the subject line. “Submission: Jules Verne : Title of Story : Last name” is the preferred. That way it’s going to get to the right reader. I’ll let you all know when it comes out too. I’m very excited for it. And might just end up writing for it myself. I mean, I’ve got to do something to get to my word count every day right?

Also, a review of my new Chroma keyboard from Razor. I’m loving it. It’s got an excellent number pad and the main keyboard is a dream to type on. It’s got a lovely touch. And you can’t beat a light-up keyboard for room abieance. It shifts through the rainbow and paints the walls with color-ringed shadows when the lights are low. It also means that I’m not trying to type a million words on my laptop keyboard. That’s not to say that I haven’t done that, but this is just so much easier.

I’m waiting on Best Buy to tell me that my microphone is in so I can pick it up and start working on the audio-books for Cherry Blossom Express. I’ve been trying to get a microphone for ages, but it was backordered and then they cancelled my order. (Without bothering to inform me, or to tell me which of the gift-cards they charged the money back to. Inquiring minds want to know.) I’m supposed to be able to pick it up from the store on Saturday. Then, I just need to find a good teleprompter program. Any thoughts folks?

I guess that’s about it. TTFN

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9-11-20

eBay Sales: pattern, doll

Craft projects completed: 0

Bulb day count: 10 days (I won’t count the weekend days, so this won’t change until Monday)

#Milwordy Update: 31,738

It’s been just a bland sort of day. Not good. Not bad.

And I’m just tired. So, early to bed.

TTYT

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9-9-20

eBay sales: none

craft projects completed: o

#Milwordy update: 28,213

So, the bottom line is that I’m not going to sleep without writing *something* every day towards my goal.

Even on days like today when my asthma has kicked up and all I want to do is crawl into bed and stay there. It’s draining on days like this. It’s not even that I can’t get in a full breath. It’s more like, I feel as though I’m breathing okay, but I’m not actually taking in enough air. On a good day, my breathing is compromised. On a bad day, I’m exhausted just pushing through the day with my legal drug caffeine and my inhaler. And it’s not like a heaviness on my chest, but just a general miliase. And my brain stops functioning properly. My brain to mouth filter takes a denial of service hit and my fingers don’t like to actually hold things.

At my day job, there is a light bulb that is blown out just in front of one of our suite doors. It has been blown out for over a week now. I refuse to submit a ticket. I’m waiting to see how long it takes before someone else does it. Seriously. I cannot be the only person in my suite who has figured out how to submit a work ticket. I refuse to believe it. Even though I’m usually the one who ends up doing it because I get annoyed that something isn’t working properly or that the bulbs in the pantry area are burnt out. This is me, waiting, like an annoyed spouse for someone else to notice and get annoyed and put in a ticket. Even if they have to call me to figure out how to submit it.

That was the least annoying part of the day, honestly, but it was annoying.

Also, steel measuring tapes should be considered weapons. I was carrying one from one side of the building to the other, and that thing must way at least a pound, if not more. I’m pretty sure if I chucked it at someone it’d do some serious damage. And that’s not even counting the burr on the edge of the tape where it was nicked by a razor blade once. And I have been cut by a steel measuring tape before. If you thought cardboard cuts were bad, they’ve got nothing on the slice you get from a measuring tape speeding back to its spring-coiled home and taking it out on you that you had the nerve to pull it out. Angry little steel snails do not like to be out of their shells it seems.

And that is the day in the life today. Not cheerful, but could be worse. I have untapped levels of morbid fascinations and justice-fueled rage in my belly that I haven’t really explored in depth.

The Promises Universe looks something like this right now. (Subject to change with no notice) Anyway, I don’t outline, I write jacket covers:

Book 1: Cassandra : Through a Different Lens : Photographer Cassandra Wyeth-Jones’ best friend was her great-aunt Romey. When Romey dies it’s not a huge shock. At least not until the will is read. That’s when Cassandra learns that she’s inherited both a tremendous fortune, and a tremendous responsibility. She knows now that she’s forgotten something from when she was a teenager. She’s forgotten why Romey stopped traveling. But there’s a journal. A stack of IOUs. And a husband and friends who are willing to help her figure it out. She’s forgotten what promises mean. But she’ll learn. Or she’ll die trying.

Book 2: Bryce : Learning the Trick of It : Bryce Williamson is the white sheep of his family of wolves. He doesn’t have the killer ambition that’s led his siblings to achieve great things. In fact, he’s got enough trouble maintaining enough in his bank account to pay for his therapist, anti-anxiety meds, and feed himself and his artist. His mother’s approach to tough love means that he’s got a month to find himself a new place to live. But that the easy part. The hard part is balancing his no-we’re-not-married-artist’s gallery opening, his pregnant sister the lawyer’s fetch and carry quest, and his social network. He’s not an artist himself, no matter what Old Mr. Peretsky says. He’s just good at finding people and connecting them. He didn’t need to know that magic was real. Or that he could perform it. It’s not like he can tell anyone about that. No, he’ll be better off with the magic of quid pro quo and smiling friends. At least until one of the local mafia bosses decides that Bryce’s sister is horning in on his territory. Then, he’s going to need all the magic he can muster to get them all out of this intact.

Book 3: Troy : Things Lost and Found : Troy Wyeth met the love of his life when he was fifteen. The second half of his soul. His perfect partner. Truman. And he lost him just as quickly the next year. He never knew what happened to him. But now, with a quest to find all of the items his great-aunt wanted to distribute to her friends and family, he’s heading back to the land that he never forgot. He has a new lover by his side. Traveling the world has brought him closer to the person he lost and the memory he’s been gripping onto with both hands. He’s got more than a chance to travel the world, he’s got the chance to travel into his own memories. Will the partner he’s found in Trish be able to remind him that he’s got to live in the present not the past?

Book 4: Sulwen : Changeling Sunrise : Sulwen Smith was an orphan. She named herself when she turned sixteen and was spat out of the foster system at 18 with no idea where she’d been born, who her parents were, or why she can’t remember anything that happened before she turned twelve. She went to the police academy and spent a few years learning why she didn’t fit in there. But when she left, she grabbed onto a private investigator’s license and built a life around it. She’s been hired by the Wyeth-Joneses to hunt down the people Aunt Romey left things to in whatever country their currently hiding it. It’s a good gig. But there’s something that’s bothering her. Something like a watercolor memory in her dreams that she can hear more than she can see. And she’s not sure if it’s something jolting loose from the travel Romey’s legacy has caused or the man she’s been tracking down. The man who is the right age to be her father. The man who owed Romey his first born according to the piece of paper he’s been left.

Book 5 : Trish : Untitled :

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9-8-20

eBay sales: vintage print, honey dipper

craft projects completed: 0

#MilWordy update: 27,248

Sadly, the puppy care and succulent scammers have petered off and now I am vexed by poorly worded ads for watches. I mean, I don’t hate watches, but it seems a shame to go from getting useful snippets of information in my spam to barely intelligible scribbles.

I’ve been reading this book on Radical Kindness. I don’t know that I can recommend it. It’s not terrible, but it’s also not great. Though there’s always something to take from non-fiction books and this is the quote that stood out to me:

“Don’t let your inability to do everything undermine your determination to do something.”
— Cory Booker

Right now, I’ve been struggling to maintain the proper amount of rage and energy to affect change. I’ve been giving widely and hoping that some of those seeds of coin will actually sprout into something which helps other people. It’s just been a year.

I think, honestly, that it’s the year that killed my productivity this weekend. Normally I walk away from a 3-Day weekend with 3/4 of a book. This time, I’ve barely reached 15K on the main book I was working on. That’s not great. On the other hand, I’m feeling much more pressure from #Milwordy to actually write something every day. That means the challenge is working, even if I’m not achieving the numbers I used to achieve when I was young and dreamed of glor… I mean, when I was young and could maintain 10 hours of sustained writing and caffeine ingestion without dying or having my hands and wrists start to ache and burn.

AKA: I’m getting old. It’s not that I’m running out of ideas, it’s that I need to be more selective with where I spend my energy.

I also need to stop eating like a city rat. But that’s a rant for a different day.

Back to the Radical Kindness concept. While I understand the de-escalation techniques and the compassionate viewpoint and the assumption of positive intent portions of the book, I find it a little lacking in the perception that people — women especially — are conditioned and raised to constantly put themselves last. To be kind. To be sweet. To stand back and defuse anger.

To be doormats.

I worry that someone reading this book will stay too long in a toxic relationship and end up taking on “If only I were nicer to my SO, they wouldn’t beat me,” for much longer than they should.

I don’t care that the first chapter of the book basically says that self-kindness is the first step. I have never met an abused individual who didn’t that they were already too indulgent of themselves and think they weren’t giving enough in the relationship.

I guess, in summary, while I appreciate random acts of kindness, and trying to see from other people’s perspectives, and all the touchy-feely stuff I learned in college. I also learned that boundaries are a thing that need to happen. And I think this concept could be acidic and toxic if misapplied. As a therapist, one must give out unconditional positive regard. As an individual, one needs to be able to say “thus far and no further. I don’t owe you my affection and emotional work.”

And this has quickly taken a dive into the edges of heavy topics that I don’t want to handle right now.

Let’s take a left hand turn and talk about writing again:

I think I’ve found Trish’s story in the Promises Universe. She’s a kind, sweet, femme person. And I think she fell into the trap of giving too much of herself or she experienced so little kindness that she had to learn to accept and to give it as she grew up. That’s something at least.

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9-7-20

eBay sales: teddy bear, diamond painting drills

craft projects completed: 0

#MilWordy update: 22,874 words

So, I’ve not been nearly as productive as I would have liked over the past three days. Normally, I have at least 40K to 50K written by the end of the weekend on the project. Then, it’s usually only about 3 more chapters before the first draft is completed.

This year? Not so much. I’m going to be lucky to hit 20K.

Still, I’ve solved some of the problems with the story. And I’ve realized that I’m creating a universe that will have different main characters in the books which inhabit it. Each character will be connected back to the first book in some fashion. But it won’t necessarily be the main characters who meet.

For example, the PI who shows up in Cassandra’s book, will definitely show up in Troy’s book, and Bryce may end up showing up in her book. So, I did mention that I’ve got four books in the universe already? And that each of them is technically a stand alone? I’m going to treat it like Jules Verne treated his stories. They all happen in the same universe and may reference each other, even if you don’t have to read each one individually.

And I’m sure that more characters and adventures will spin off of Cassandra’s journey. She’s probably got a good two or three books just dealing with her stories. But Troy may only have one where he’s the MC, but he’ll keep showing up in other people’s books. Heck, Cassandra and Troy will be the ones who can spark off many an adventure while dealing with the estate. So, there’s that. And there’s no reason why I can’t travel back and forth in time in this universe. So maybe Aunt Romey gets a book of her own. I’m not sure yet. I’m also not sure of all the magic systems in the universe, but they’re not all powerful. And sometimes you can’t be sure it’s really magic. Sometimes, it’s just luck or fate or really hard work. Other times it’s pretty blatant, but small magic. Fixing a tire or making a nightlight. Things which can be done without magic. Maybe it’s even easier to do without magic.

Or maybe the amount of magic is growing and the sorts of things it can do will grow organically.

Or maybe not.

Lots of things are unresolved, but I’m a lot closer to seeing inside the snowglobe than I was at the beginning of the thing.

Also — Cassandra does not have a musical soundtrack. This is incredibly bizarre for me as almost everything I have ever written has a soundtrack I work from. The only thing I’ve found it just… people talking in the background. For example – a gaming stream or a clothing haul. She is unlike any other character I’ve worked with. So, I find that fascinating as well as frustrating. In fact, I think she might just prefer silence or the sound of the sea. It’s disconcerting.

Well, back to the book. And honestly, it’ll be a relief tomorrow when I can drift between projects for a little bit as opposed to my self-imposed challenge rules.

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9-6-20

eBay sales: cookie cutter, jewelry box, stuffed dog, 1 pair shoes

craft projects completed: 0

#Milwordy update: 18,188 words

I’m working a lot more slowly than I usually do on these weekends. I don’t if that’s just because my wrists and fingers have been angry at me for trying to do 45 minute sprints, or if the story has been fighting me more, or if I’m more distracted by outside things. It’s probably some of each of those. It’s gotten to the point where I can only do about 500 words before my hands need the break. I was sprinting regularly at 1000 words just yesterday though, so it’s probably more being distracted.

On the plus side, I’ve decided that both of the projects I’m working on right now are in the same universe. They share the same city and there may be some characters which show up in both books. The main characters will probably not meet. At least not in these books. Maybe at some point in the future I’ll revisit this universe. That means that yes, magic does exist in this universe, but that doesn’t mean that people know about it. Or that Cassandra will fall over anything more than her namesake and the one item her great-aunt left her. At least not now. If we continue following her into other adventures, then yes. Heck, I’m beginning to wonder if Cassandra’s story would be better as a serial. Well, we’ll see. That might work. Or even one main book and then some short stories. We may end up following her bother in a different book. I think his could be a very quiet book though. I know what he’s looking for now and I’d like to see him find it.

Oddly enough, there was almost a sex scene in this book which is something I rarely actually indulge in when writing books. I might go back and put it in. Not just for words, but because I do think it would show of the relationship with her husband the best. He’s feeling very cardboard cutout to me right now. I do need to look into their relationship more and give him some more motivations and relationships.

I did not give the hotel a chance for breakfast this morning. Instead, I just ordered in IHOP. That worked out for the best I think. Lunch was a bag of chips because I’m meeting a friend for dinner. I need to get some more chips or something for tomorrow. I don’t want to order from 7-11. It’s just… it feels so wrong. And the hotel does not have the best snackbar available.

Oddly enough, I can’t find the right music for Cassandra. I tried alternative, but that didn’t work. I tried neo-pagan folk, but that hasn’t worked. Right now, I’m listening to video gamers talking because that gives me something to fill that part of my brain. It’s almost time to dial up “Uno the Movie” because I’m getting frustrated with her inability to communicate a proper sound. Maybe she’ll work best if I pull up the Atmospheric mixer and put on some sea sounds or marketplace sounds. That might be what’s wrong.

All that being said, I’m not sure that all of this story is actually going to be in the final book. We’ll have to see how it betas after I edit it. I have realized that I have once again forgotten to make the space around my characters actually feel like something. I am great with dialog, but I often forget that other people can’t actually see the setting the way I am when my characters are talking. I might go back and add that in tonight, just to give it a tighter feel of space.

Part of the problem is that Cassandra doesn’t care about the space around her. She’s basically a minimalist at heart. She lives in a space and has a lot of color around her, but she’s not attentive to the space the way Bryce is. Bryce is very involved with his surroundings because his obsessive thoughts do include cleanliness and visual organization. (Bryce is the MC for the other project I’m working on.)

Huh. So that perspective is a thing. Cassandra will basically be doing light establishing shots and Bryce does more in depth analysis of his surroundings. Okay. I can work with that. It will give the two projects their own feel and the characters their own voices. Amazing the number of random realizations I’ve come to today.

Anyway, the quest continues. Just keep on swimming.

 

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9-5-20

eBay sales: 1 book

craft projects completed: 0

#Milwordy update: 11152 words

So, the new project is going. It’s a little slower than I’m used to. I don’t know if that’s just because my fingers aren’t warmed up or that I’ve not cut myself off completely from the net. I will say that it’s a lot harder for me to do 45 minute sprints than it used to be. My wrists don’t like doing it anymore. So, it looks as though I’m going to have to hit the Pomodoro method now. 25 minutes on 5 minutes off.

The story has new characters now and I’ve got at least one plot point or sub-plot that’s going to develop. And there’s something my main character doesn’t remember which has affected who she is now as opposed to who she was. Something in her inheritance is going to make that show up for her. Maybe. Or maybe her sweetheart of a husband. Or the new fortune teller who just showed up?

I ended up needing a nap today. Not sure if I just woke up badly or if I didn’t get enough caffeine this morning. That being said, I attempted to get breakfast from the hotel downstairs — but the line. Sweet baby bippy. I couldn’t stand in that line. I literally got out of line, went to my room, ordered food through grubhub, went back downstairs to meet the driver and the people who were two in front of me were just getting their food. It was SLOW. I am going to give them another try tomorrow, but I’m just not sure that I’m going to be willing to wait on it.

Cheesecake Factory for dinner tonight. I ended up having to go to the store for pick up because none of the delivery options worked. It was… an adventure. One that I am not wanted to repeat, no matter how tasty the food is.

I guess that’s about it. I’m not doing much beyond sitting and writing this weekend, so there’s not much to talk about.

See you on the flip-side.

Podcast recommendation: Cabinet of Curiosities

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