RoW80 Check-In: Another Late Post.

These seven and eight hour shifts are killing me. This was supposed to be a part-time, ten-hour-a-week job. It wasn’t supposed to cut into my writing time, since I want to transform this writing thing into an actual career. Yet I find myself drawn out and tired and only able to veg on my days off. I’m stuck in a little bit of an identity crisis: when I quit my last job, this is not where I found myself returning seven months later. But on the other hand, the money has been pretty damn good, all things considering, and so I’m trying to see the silver lining about how now is a good time to save as much as I can. Besides that, it’s a part time thing, while my main gig is writing, so it’s MUCH easier to not get stressed out and to just kind of enjoy my job for what it is. NaNoWriMo is only a handful of days away; I figure I can see how this goes, if I can discipline myself to bust out the rough draft for The Slayer Saga: Soulless in one month. If I pull it off, awesome, it’s just a matter of getting that time management down and making time for my writing. If not, if it’s too much, then perhaps it might be a good time to re-evaluate my current employment.

But enough of that. I should get to that RoW80 check-in I should have done yesterday.

Goal One: Madeline. It’s definitely not enough to make up for all the lost pages on this project to get it done by October 31st, but I pumped out three pages yesterday, so that was pretty awesome. The writing goes easier when there’s steamy sex scenes involved, apparently…

Goal Two: Reading. Man. Seeds of Time is draaaagging at the end, but I’m busting pretty quickly through The Alchemist’s Daughter. I started a new sci-fi/fantasy-esque book that’s been capturing my attention pretty well. I’m excited to see where it goes, though it’s a little bit slow going.

Goal Three: Short Stories. “The Lady of the Masks” returned yesterday with its third rejection…maybe fourth time’s a charm? I’ll be brushing that up, as well as working on a Jules Verne, Robinson Caruso, Typee-eque story for Ill-Considered Expeditions, although I’m considering sending them “A Song for the Underworld” if that returns from Uncanny Maganize negatory.

So, I’ve been keeping up okay, though I’m totally swamped and unable to keep up with social media, blogs, comments, or promotion. Everything’s a balancing act, right? At least I know that it’s not uncommon to constantly readjust, and I’m getting much better at managing it day-by-day, even if I can’t manage all I’d like to do.

How about everyone else out there? How are your goals going? Have you ever attempted to do something and have it morph into something completely different? That’s what life is all about.

It’s the Final Countdown!

That’s right, folks. We’ve just entered the very last week to get in your submissions for the inaugural edition of World Unknown Review, my yearly literary publication to feature all sorts of really great stories and forge forward into the publishing world. The deadline is next Friday, October 31st, so please, get those stories into me soon before it’s too late! I’d love to have a good handful more tales to consider to make WUR truly exceptional and different.

Most of you are probably thinking, “Well, I already submitted!” which is awesome, so thank you! But I know there’s a few of you still out there that might be wondering, “Why should I submit?” instead. So I’ll give you a few reasons:

1.) It’s a paying market. You’ll get a few copies of the review to share, as well as $15 if your story is chosen.
2.) It’s a great showcase for your work. The short story business is a tough one, it’s a highly saturated market, and one of the tenants of the field that they actually teach you in school is how difficult it is to break into it. But WUR is just a little baby review right now, so your chances are significantly higher than other markets at the moment. Take advantage of the opportunity to be a part of something new and exciting!
3.) It’s all about community. One of my biggest dreams for WUR is that it will take on a lifeforce of its own through the authors that have participated in it. I intend to make the ebook version pretty cheap, and the print version fairly reasonably prices as well, so that the low price will encourage people to give a chance. Let’s say Bob Writerman gets a story published, and so do you. You’re both stoked about it, and so you tell all your friends. Bob’s friends pick up a copy, because why not? So do your friends. Then Bob’s friends read your story, and think, “I really enjoyed that. I want to see more about this author…” And your friends do the same with Bob’s work. Both writers benefit from sharing the journal, and the readers now have a whole arsenal of new writers to explore and discover. It’s a beautiful thing.

So, what are you waiting for? There are no genre restrictions, no theme restriction, not even a word count restriction. I want a little bit of everything in World Unknown Review, so that every reader can find at least one thing that they’ll fall in love with inside (even better if they love the whole thing)! Don’t let time run out on this great opportunity, or else you’ll have to wait all the way until October of next year!

RoW80 Check-In: Maybe a little late…

It seems that, just when I have my world finally aligned and calibrated, something shifts and sets it off-kilter again. This last week has been a strange one for me, not because I’ve had any strange scheduling to deal with or anything like that, but just because it seems that the way I was doing things last week wasn’t working for this week. And the things I was doing the week before didn’t seem to gel well with last week. After so long of focusing on the day ahead, I now feel things have taken on the nature of changing week-by-week, as they do day-by-day. So I’ve had to refocus my energies and approach things from a different view. I’ve also adjusted a few of my goals for this month of this round of RoW80, and finally getting to put my post up, although it’s day like.

Sigh. Such is life, right? But I’m not doing too terribly on my current goals. Have a look:

Goal One: Finish Madeline. Trying to get six pages a day so far has consistently failed, so I’m going back to just one page a day, and anything extra is just bonus. I’ve been getting out about two now that I’m focusing on getting that first page out before doing anything else. I really wanted to make that six pages because I know that’s what I’ll have to do with Heartless once NaNoWriMo starts, but this is also good because it’s helping me adjust to finding what works best to ensure that I do get those six pages come November. I doubt Madeline will be finished by then, but it should be at least half-way there.

Goal Two: Short Stories. I’ve hit a bit of a stop with this one at the moment. Most of my current works are out right now, so I’m just waiting for responses. I haven’t had time to work on many new stories due to my focus on Madeline, but I’ve got a few started that I’m eager to complete once I have a bit more focus for them.

Goal Three: Reading. Reading has being going well, too, thanks to also reading a chapter first before turning on my computer. I still haven’t gotten into reading before bed again, mostly because it’s difficult to read when you’re staying up so late, you just want to fall asleep when the lights go down. I did finish Mother, May I? by A.K. Alexander, so a review of that should be coming along in the next few days.

I’m going to leave it at that, because I’m just under the wire for getting to work on time, but I figured I should rush out an entry before I do. Happy writing, everyone!

Battarack Keep.

It’s always amazing when I come across an image that makes me realize that some of the places in my head are actual places in the world. While browsing /r/castles, I discovered the wonder that is Lichtenstein Castle in Germany:

Not only is this a marvelous piece of architecture and scenery, but this is almost exactly what I had in mind for Battarack Keep, an iconic location to come into play in the fourth book of the main Aryneth series. Check out this link for some more amazing photographs one redditor took from an aerial perspective.

The following description contains SPOILERS for the Aryneth series, the first book of which is probably four years away from publication, so proceed only if you don’t mind being spoiled for a book you might be reading in about a decade from now, lol.

Battarack Keep was built on the edge of a cliff, looming over the mighty river that splits the land of Kyano into two parts, from which the elaborate system of rivers branches off to snake its way through the continent. The castle grounds slope into a private garden system, while the village is settled down below. The ancestral home of the Battarack family, it was overtaken by the Han family after the gods were seals from the world and the dynasties of the Second Asyentai had fallen. As per the prophecies, the Battaracks returned to the kingdom, pulling the Valley of the Swallow back into a time of prosperity under Locke Mandrake Battarack, and stayed in tact as a leading faction in the world well into the Age of Apocalypse. The height of the castle made it nearly impossible to overtake, a valuable asset in the war-torn Kyano.

I’ve had so many vivid thoughts of the Battarack children playing in the castle and on the sloping grounds of the mountaintop, of Locke peering out over the edge of the cliff in contemplation as he struggled with his quick rise from poverty to power, of Launce Battarack sneaking out from his high-towered prison to lead a revolution against the supposed tyranny of his father, so it’s incredibly awesome to have a visual reference for it, too. Lichtenstein Castle is the perfect Battarack Keep, and I just wanted to take a moment to share that with you all.

RoW80 Check-In: Insert Clever Title Here.

While things are a little more steady for me now, my life is still a little topsy-turvy. Herein lies the problem with living with three other people, all of us with very different lives. I can go four straight days without seeing the other two roommates…of course, those are the days I’m working long shifts. Then, I snag myself a weekend off, and it’s suddenly a full-house in the apartment, including the roommate we haven’t heard anything from in nearly a week and the other, s roommate’s girlfriend. ARRRGGHH. I thought of escaping to a coffee shop or something, but I knew I wouldn’t be able to focus. I just want to sit curled up in my usual spot in the living room and type away in peace and quiet, but, alas. It was not to be this week, as it wasn’t the week before that. But, as I realized, even when I feel like I haven’t been productive, I still somehow manage to get shit done and eke out some of my RoW80 goals.

Let’s have a look:

Goal One: Finish Madeline. Pfffttthhh. I think it’s the fact that I haven’t been able to keep up with my six-pages-a-day goal on this one that has me feeling like I’m in a funk. It may be a lofty goal, but it’s an important one. Six pages is what I need to do for NaNoWriMo, so I need to build my stamina. However, I’m not failing entirely. I’ve been getting through at least a page a day, but I’m way behind if I want to finish it by October 31st.

Goal Two: Short Stories. Here is where I’ve been doing much better. Granted, I’ve had three stories return with rejections, so all I had to do was edit them up and find somewhere new to send them, so this week alone, I’ve sent out three different stories to three different places. Now I don’t have a story to send out this week, which is okay by me. I’m working on finishing my gravedigger story soon to send that one out.

Goal Three: Reading. Nearly finished with Mommy, May I?. The end of Seeds of Time is dragging a little, but that should get there soon. The Alchemist’s Daughter has been getting most of my time. I’m really finding it just fascinating and I’m intrigued to see where McMahon is going with this one.

That’s pretty much it. I need to kick Madeline into gear a little bit more, but everything’s chugging along nicely. I mostly just wish that I could get to November already. I’m getting stoked to start Heartless. It’ll be a crazy ride.

How’s everyone else doing so far? I haven’t had a chance to check-in with my fellow RoWers lately, but I’m hoping to get that changed here soon, too.

Happy writing!

Islands in the Sky.

I know I just did an inspiration post not long ago, but I came across this image (on reddit, of course) and simply had to post it. It’s breathtaking. Taken by Shane Kalyn, it’s a stunning image of an island that appears to be floating in Tumuch Lake in northern British Columbia. When I look at it, my mind positively reels. What sort of place might this be? What sort of stories culd be woven from the idea of this lush but small floating island? Tales of the Castle in the Sky comes to mind, a place overgrown with nature and mystery and secrets.

The most wonderful thing about this photograph, besides the incredible potential inspiration, is the fact that this is an actual place on the actual Earth below our feet. It’s incredible how many truly beautiful things, things we think usually only fills fantasy worlds and epic movies, are actually all around us. Granted, this shot is the work of a good angle, the right lighting, and the perfect height, so it wouldn’t be the same unless you were in the same position, but it’s a moment of capturing a place just so, and it would surely hold a different kind of beauty were you to visit this island and enjoy the trees and the lake from a more personal, up-close perspective.

It’s such a beautiful image, I just had to share it, and brainstorm a little on what might be on this mysterious floating island. Is it a prison for some princess who has been wrong or upset the wrong person at the wrong time? Is it home to a powerful sorceress or a giant in the clouds like in “Jack and the Beanstalk?” Is it a palace for the gods, or a haven for the lucky? It sends my mind spinning, and I love the possibilities. What about you?

Weather the weather, whether or not.

Sun, sun! My kingdom for some sun!

It’s been a strange week for me so far, one I’m not entirely pleased with, but there’s little I can do about that. I’m not sure whether I can blame it on outside forces or if it’s a hiccup in my own drive and motivation, but I want to lean more towards the former. This entire week has been dull and rainy and overcast in Chicagoland, which is nice for a day or two since I love that kind of wet autumn weather, especially as the leaves are changing and falling and clinging to everything from sidewalks to cars, but I’m starting to crave a little bit of sunlight. Weather can influence our moods, and, for me, too much of this has stolen away the creativity I felt at the beginning of this gloomy spell and replaced it with lethargy and laziness. It hasn’t been helped by a really whacked-out work schedule, either. I have the entire weekend off starting today, which will be nice, but I can’t count on it to get me focused again, because it’s the weekend of my boyfriend’s birthday, so it will be filled with festivities. Then off to another week that reminds me of all the things I quit my last job over and wondering if it’s all just a vicious cycle.

Today probably won’t bring a lot of ability to catch-up, though I am getting a post out after a long dry spell, so there’s definitely a start. “Couples Therapy” came back with a rejection, so I’m brushing up that to send somewhere else and hoping to make some headyway on finishing my beta-read for Fallon Brown tonight because I’m almost finished and Ken will be out playing Magic: the Gathering with friends. Before that, though, I have to get to the laundromat and then run some errands (dropping off books at HalfPrice Books, Target because I ran out of soap and they’re the only convenient place that sells Dr. Bronner’s, then a date at Noodles & Co. and shopping at Trader Joe’s. A busy day, but I know I can get a few more things into place again.

Saturday will be more successful. There will be a visit to our favorite Brookfield bar, Brixie’s, but that’s not until evening, and Ken works, so hopefully I can bust out some stuff and get back on track. Sunday’s going to be pretty up in the air. His two favorite teams play each other, the Dolphins vs. the Bears, so it’s a stay-in, pizza-and-game-day. Maybe I can managed to catch up on emails.

I’m just glad to have some time to reconnect with my writing again, since it’s getting a little harder to do that lately. The weather hasn’t been helping. Do you feel that too much gloomy weather kills your mood? We’re getting some sun already today, so I’m taking it as a good sign.

Happy writing!

More Heartless Inspiration.

Reddit is a complete mecca of all things Intrawebz, and I’ve found it to be an absolute treasure trove for inspiring photographs and images, especially in subreddits like Abandoned Porn (which is NOT what it sounds like to the unknowning, I promise…it’s like food porn, but with old, abandoned buildings), Earth Porn (same thing, but with landscapes), and, my personal favorites Colorized History (which takes old photographs and colors them realistically) and Old School Cool (I like old photos). If you’re already on reddit and not subscribed to these, um, why not? And if you’re not on reddit yet, enter with caution. For every bit of inspiration on there, there’s about five times as much distraction! Still, I love it, and here’s another awesome collection of images I’ve found to help me set the scene for hitting Heartless good and hard when November rolls around. Maybe they’ll inspire your own tale, too! Enjoy!

It probably won’t happen until the end of Heartless, but, eventually, the gang in The Slayer Saga will be contemplating crossing the Great Wide Sea, a task that has so far eluded most people with the world’s limited technology and resources. The coast, though, is littered with things like this fantastic submerged building. Are they a relic of the far distant past? Or something newer, an attempt to escape the Soulless? Did it fail, or are they cloistered within, a small hide-out protected by the water that used to hold the monsters back. Yes. Used to. *cough*

Appalachian Trail, Blue Ridge GA. Tell me you don’t already see the Soulless coming out from behind those trees! There’s a very good reason The Walking Dead is filmed in Atlanta. Gorgeous…and potentially shit-your-pants frightening, too!

Hot damn, I love this image of an abandoned cottage deep in the woods of Denmark. I don’t know what it will be, but you know I’m going to try my damnest to write this location into a scene.

Someone will have this pocketwatch. I don’t know who yet, but someone will have it. (Actually, I do have an idea, and the more I think about it, the more I love it, and it’s going to help make a character I thought would be pretty awesome even more so, so…yay)

The steps from a house that burned down in the 1920s. Would this not be the perfect setting for the party to stop and take a rest? It actually reminds me a lot of the ruins scattered around the grounds at the old Grand Traverse State Hospital by where I used to live, which inspired my short story “Spring Thaw” from Bowlful of Bunnies, as well as an Alice in Wonderland-style zombie tale I should revisit sometime again. Until then, there’s always Heartless!

That’s all for this post today. With all these amazing abandoned vistas and The Walking Dead having just started up, I am so ready to get Heartless written! I only have seven more chapters to outline, and it’s going to be awesome.

What’s been inspiring you, lately?

RoW80 Check-In: Oh, hay, Sunday, when’d you get here?

Man, this week has kind of been a mess for me. I’ve been all over the place, staying up way too late, sleeping in too late, too, and doing a really poor job of keeping all my goals in check and my work finished. It happens. I was having a pretty awesome streak for a while, so that eventual bad week is pretty much inevitable. Tomorrow, though, I’m planning on taking some steps to move forward on something I’ve needed to do for a while (new glasses and contact lenses!), so here’s to hoping it will kick me back into the productive mode once more. I’m thinking having the entire next weekend off is going to help, too, especially with celebrating the boyfriend’s birthday on the 19th, with a Game Day, since his two favorite teams (the Bears and the Dolphins) are battling it out that Sunday.

Anyway, we’re not here to listen to me whine about my not-so-great weekend. We’re here to check-in for RoW80, even if my first check-in for this round is not exactly stellar. I didn’t so much start hitting the ground running, rather hitting the ground and crashing and burning. There’s plenty of Round still left to force things back into shape. Let’s have a looksie:

Goal One: Finish Madeline. In able to “make” my usual length by the end of the month, I figured I should have to write at least six pages a day from the beginning of the round until October 31st, but I’ve been having difficulty getting those six pages. I’ve still been making progress, at least a page a day, sometimes two, but I’m struggling to meet that six page mark. I’m still going to strive to do it, though, because, guess what? Six pages a day is what I need to get NaNo done in time, so I’ve got to get my endurance up.

Goal Two: Short Stories. Last week, I submitted “Lady of the Masks” (which has the quickest turn-over rate of any of my stories thus far, gaining two rejections in about seven days, lol) to Black Treacle, and this week, I’ll be finishing another edit on “A Song for the Underworld” before finding somewhere else to send that one. I’ve also been working on a story about a gravedigger that I rather like, making all my stories slightly spooky and morbid to match the month.

Goal Three: Reading. Seeds of Time by Kay Kenyon has hit that spot where the end is really, really close but it seems you can never get there, and I’ve been blasting through The Alchemist’s Daughter by Katharine McMahon pretty consistently. I’m almost finished with Mommy, May I? by A.K. Alexander, and should finish that by the end of the week, for sure. I’m also pretty close to the end of Angela Misri’s Jewel of the Thames, so maybe I’ll even get that one finished up this week, too.

Okay, so, maybe once broken down, the goals haven’t been so bad. It’s mostly just been that first goal that’s been giving me trouble, and, despite not hitting the initial mark, I’m still making progress. I think that’s why these check-ins are so great. It helps us to look at what we’ve done and give it some perspective during times when we’re so scattered, we can’t see the bigger picture.

How’s everyone else doing? Did your Round 4 start with a bang or more of a stutter? Have you checked out everyone else here yet?

Happy writing!

Limited time “Soulless” Sale!

Psst. Guess what? I’m holding my very first ebook sale! The Slayer Saga: Soulless is currently on sale for only $0.99. That’s right. About the same as a can of beans, and far more enjoyable, too.

I’m not exactly sure how long I’m going to run this promotion, so snag it up while you can, if you haven’t already! And share the sale with your friends so they can get a great new book at a good low price.

Bowlful of Bunnies has always been dirt-cheap, so no sale there, since I haven’t quite figured out how to do the whole free promotion thing yet. Still, it’s a pretty good price if you haven’t it up yet, or might want to share it with your friends.

Now that I have two books, I want to play around more with the idea of sales, which I hear become more effective when you have more books, so I really can’t wait until I have the entire Slayer Saga finished. What have you found to be your most effective sales tactics? Do you feel they help slumping sales, or do you focus your energies on something else instead? I’ve never been very effective at the whole promotion part of this business, and I’m okay with that, but I know that I need to step it up a little if this is going to become a career thing. Mostly, though, I’m just happy knowing at least a few people have read my book. Let’s try to make it a few people more, though.

Also, the deadline for World Unknown Review submissions is coming up pretty quickly! Spread the word and get your stories in for your chance to be a part of a great new anthology journal, and maybe even get a few bucks in the process.

Happy writing!


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