Day Job?

So, in theory, I’m living the author’s dream. I’m mostly a stay-at-home mom (though I do freelance and contract editing and writing part-time), so I should have plenty of writing time. Right? Isn’t that what we all want, to be able to stay home and write? To ditch the day job?

I mean, there are the mobile ones, who are a distraction and also very demanding. And there are chores (like the never-ending dishes, argh).

Still, plenty of stay-at-home parents find time for their writing. And, I mean, it’s not like I don’t get anything done.

But I recently came to the realization that this situation isn’t ideal, at least not for me. I was so much more productive when I was working full-time. I even managed 50K a month while working full-time AND doing graduate-level engineering courses. I’ve always chalked up the decrease in productivity to having kids, but now I’m wondering…

And I’m wondering if the editing/writing as a job isn’t hurting my productivity with my fiction. If I’ve spent three hours doing a content edit for a client, it can be hard to turn around and spend another two hours on my own work. If I’ve spent an hour and a half fighting with someone’s grammar, my brain can feel fried.

And maybe getting out of the house and doing something non-writing related would actually be beneficial. Maybe if I got a job doing something else, writing would be more of a reward again. I mean, I still love writing, I enjoy doing it, but sometimes the motivation just isn’t there.

There’s options here. I could:

a) Pick a different job to do on a freelance contract basis. I made a list. Some are things I already do that I’d love to do more of, if I could pick up more clients, such as book layout. I love formatting a book for print. ebook layouts are a little less fun but still enjoyable. And book layout keeps me with the books I love without eating my writing/editing brain. Others are new. Like being an audiobook narrator. I’ve got vocal training through singing and theater, so that could be really fun, and it keeps me with books. I’d also love to draw on a freelance basis, but am more lacking in skills/experience in that area.

b) Pick up a part-time job doing whatever outside of the house. Mostly I’ve been eyeing libraries and book stores. I have experience doing that (I was a library page for three years back in high school), and, same as above, keeps me near books. And gets me out of the house, which is probably a good thing.

c) Go back into the full-time work world. My college degree(s) are in aerospace engineering and mechanical engineering, and my preferred part of the production life cycle is testing, which is apparently rare, so I’d probably be able to pick up a job pretty easy, even though I’ve been out of the industry for almost seven years.

d) Go back to school for another degree. To be honest, I didn’t really like my last “real” job–the company was a bad fit for me in practically every way, and is a major reason why I went freelance instead of trying for another engineering job at the time. So I might be happier in another field (or it might have been the company). I’d like to write stories for video games, but would probably need to get a degree in video game design. Graphic design could also be fun, though, as above, I am probably lacking in skills/experience. Of course, college + mobile ones probably equals less writing time, but maybe not!

Any insight, squiders? Has anyone had success with career crises?

Bogged Down in Books

I worked the Scholastic Book Fair at my older mobile one’s school this morning, which was actually really fun! And I only walked out with one book and it wasn’t even one for me, which is kind of a victory. (I bought my smaller mobile one Kate Beaton’s The Princess and the Pony. I have both of her Hark! A Vagrant collections and the mobile ones really enjoyed King Baby, so I figure it’s a good bet.)

Also! I discovered Mary Downing Hahn is still publishing! She was one of my favorites when I was a kid. I re-read Wait till Helen Comes fairly recently and it held up pretty well even as an adult.

I seriously considered picking up one of her books (for me, my mobile ones aren’t old enough, and the older one is a bit sensitive about scary things anyway), but I didn’t because I’ve reached that state where I’m in the middle of too many books and hence am making no progress on any of them.

I’m in the middle of…six books right now. They are:

  • A Dweller on Two Planets, Frederick S. Oliver (1905) — this is a book the author claimed was written through him, and deals with Atlantis and re-incarnation and whatnot. I’m about halfway done, and it is pretty impressive work for a late nineteenth century homesteader.
  • The Well at the World’s End, William Morris (1896) — early fantasy, a lot of emphasis on chivalry and knighthood and all that jazz. Still working through all the public domain books I downloaded years ago when I first got my Kindle and Amazon was giving them away from free. This book must be really long because I spend half an hour reading it while reading the exercise bike and only move 2% at a time.
  • Thrice Upon a Time, James P. Hogan (1980) — At MileHiCon, there was a man selling old scifi and fantasy paperbacks for $2 each, and I bought four. This is one of them. I bought it because I thought Hogan’s Inherit the Stars was excellent science fiction. This is also scifi and the story takes place now-ish, and is a fairly common mix of overshooting on technological achievements and somehow missing all the societal changes that have happened.
  • Heirs of Power, Kate MacLeod (2017) — Reading this for a review group on Goodreads. Fantasy. So far so good!
  • One Man’s Wilderness, Richard Proenneke (1999) — nonfiction about a man who built a cabin by himself in the wilds of Alaska and lived there for 30 years.
  • First-person Singularities, Robert Silverberg (2017) — I’ve probably had this book since it came out. Whoops. But in my defense, nobody else is requesting it from the library. Science fiction short story collection, all told in first person. I always find short story collections a slow wade, because I like to digest a story before I move on to the next one.

One Man’s Wilderness and Heirs of Power should probably be my top priorities–the first is due back to the library in a few days (and there’s a hold request on it) and my review for the second is due Saturday–but when you’ve bogged yourself down, don’t you find it hard to read at all? Too many stories vying for attention.

And it doesn’t help that I re-read the second half of City of Hope and Ruin yesterday to remind myself of the ending/characterization so I can start working on the sequel.

But yes. Too many books. Must stop picking up more. The first two are slow going and I don’t read them very often, but I should probably just power through them and get them out of the queue. And also read more recent books. But I hate looking at those unread books on my Kindle library…

How many books are you reading right now, Squiders? Any recs (not that I need them)?

10 Writing Prompts to Get Your Day Going

If you troll about the Internet, you’ll see that a lot of writing advice out there, if you want to make a career out of writing, says to be as productive as possible. More stuff written = more practice and hopefully better stories = more material to send out to readers = loyal fans = success, or something along those general lines.

Since I have small mobile ones, I’m not terribly productive, so I can’t speak to the truth of this sentiment, but I do spend a lot of time gathering writing prompts for more stories than I’ll ever be able to write, so I thought I’d share them with you.

Also, you might look into some short story challenges if you’re interested in getting some practice in. The 12 short story writing challenge has a goal of writing one short story every month for a year. That’s doable even for someone like me. If you have more time or inclination, you might try the Ray Bradbury challenge, where you try to write one short story a week (and also do lots of reading).

Anyway, on to the prompts!

Sweet Home Chicago by TheEnderling
Nokken by Kim Myatt
Creepy gif from Pinterest
Fantasy Bg 77 by Moonglowlilly
Tumblr post by mspaintadverturing
Ball Thingy by Charly Chive

Man, it is surprisingly hard to find the original artists for Pinterest pins. Just a reminder to always credit the artist!

Happy writing, squiders!

A Surplus of Lesbians

Not that there’s anything wrong with lesbians.

As you guys know, Siri and I have begun work on the sequel to City of Hope and Ruin. If you’re familiar with CoHaR, you know that we have two viewpoint characters, Theo and Bree.

If you’re not familiar with CoHaR, we have two viewpoint characters, Theo and Bree.

Because we were writing CoHaR for Turtleduck Press, which requires romance be a part of its scifi/fantasy, we knew that we’d need said viewpoint characters to be romantically involved to some extent. And since we both wanted to write women, well, we ended up a lesbian couple.

(Though, to be fair, both Theo and Bree are bisexual.)

We have a Pinterest board for CoHaR, which we’ve started work on again now as we tackle the series. The board has a lot of setting pins, along with some individual pins of Bree and Theo (as well as some other characters), but I noticed that we were missing pins of the two characters together, and since, hey, romance, maybe that would be a good thing to add in.

So I did what you do–I searched for lesbians, and I sent several to Siri to see what she thought, and she was no help in narrowing them down, so I stared at them for a while and then picked some to pin to the board.

And Pinterest promptly decided that I wanted all lesbians in my feed, all the time.

As I said above, not that there’s anything wrong with lesbians, but it was interesting that the four or five lesbian pins I pinned overruled the other 1.5K pins I have, most of which include castles, dragons, writing prompts, the occasional soup recipe, etc. For a few days, that was it: lesbians.

(On the plus side, I found a couple of other pins that fit well and stuck them on the board too.)

My feed’s cleared up a bit, but it’s still got more lesbians than normal and, interestingly, other couples as well. I guess the algorithm is branching out a bit.

Anyway, I’m supposed to have a chapter to Siri tomorrow, which, ahahaha, I haven’t started yet.

Insights on how Pinterest’s algorithms work? How are you doing?

Happy Book Birthday to In the Forests of the Night by KD Sarge

Happy Thursday, squiders! Today’s the launch of the second book in KD Sarge’s fantasy series, In the Forests of the Night.

If you guys know me at all, you know I adore fantasy forests, so the title alone is exciting.

(Fun story: I had a short story that was published last year called The Night Forest, but I’d originally titled it Forest of Night. But then KD–who had been referring to this book as “Hiro II”–let me know about the potential for title confusion and I had to change it.)

As a Keeper-Apprentice, Hiro Takai followed his master everywhere. The adept Eshan Kisaragi taught him swordcraft and spellcasting and demon-fighting, but it was only after Hiro’s Kindling that he learned what Eshan couldn’t teach him. Such as what could go wrong in a ritual that tied the soul of a human mage to a creature of elemental power. Or how quickly the Keepers could turn on their own.

Damaged and dangerous, Hiro fled, seeking the one person he knew would help—his teacher and his beloved, Eshan.

Now, though—Hiro found Eshan, in the midst of a battle he could not win and would not lose. Now Eshan’s body lives but lies withering, while his soul clings to the elemental tiger…somewhere. Hiro can feel it to the south, in lands his studies never reached, where demons are unknown but spirits walk the paths of the Forests of the Night—and sometimes wander out.

Hiro has one chance to save his beloved. If he can find the tiger, if he can retrieve Eshan’s soul before his body fades, a way may be found to make his master whole.

With a failed priest and a possessed boy as guides, with a mad phoenix in his soul and a growing understanding of just how little he knows of magic, Hiro will follow wherever the tiger leads.

As Hiro searches for his lover’s soul, Eshan, more than half-mad from the sundering of his being, meets a child fleeing both his family and himself. Together, they stagger across the continent, in need of aid that only Hiro can give…if he can find them in time.

It’s currently only available on Amazon, but it should be available on other platforms shortly. An excerpt is also available over at Turtleduck Press.

The first book in the series, if you’re interested, is Burning Bright.

Patreon Research

Well, squiders, I wrote most of a blog post yesterday, and it just wasn’t gelling. The longer it went on, the less sense I felt it was making. And then I got distracted by things and I never posted it, and, believe me, that is for the best.

Yes, yes, it is.

Anyway, what I got distracted by is actually a better post topic, so let’s do that instead.

I’ve had a Patreon for…oh, who knows. Two years, maybe? Three? It is something I set up and then have never quite figured out how to work with it, so mostly I stare at it out of the corner of my eye in the hopes that I will magically figure out what I’m supposed to be doing with it.

And every now and then I poke at it, tweaking things here and there, which doesn’t especially help but feels somewhat productive.

Patreon helpfully sends out a newsletter with tips on attracting patrons and growing your audience and tools to use and whatnot, though they seemed to be mostly geared toward people who work in podcasts, music, or video (probably because these seem to be the most success categories on the site). They recently sent out an email about a section of their app that allows creators to easily take video of their process which got me thinking about my poor, mostly abandoned Patreon again.

(Also I checked out the app, but apparently they recently changed it and everyone hates everything about it, so I’m going to leave that alone for now.)

So I spent some time yesterday looking specifically at other SFF writers on Patreon who seem to be doing decently, to see what they’re doing.

These people fell into two categories:

  1. Larger name authors who are probably leveraging an existing fanbase (including award-winning authors like Kameron Hurley and self-pub gold standard Lindsay Buroker). I kind of looked at these but I figure that what’s working for them is probably out of my reach at this moment.
  2. Authors I hadn’t heard of

So I poked through category 2. And here are the trends I noticed:

  • Most people had “per item” payment tiers rather than monthly tiers. So every time they finished a short story or a chapter or whatever, their patrons would be charged.
  • The people with the most patrons were extremely productive. One was writing 50-60K words a month on a regular basis, and most of the other ones were putting out at least 2-3 novels a year.
  • A lot of Patreons (especially ones with monthly tiers) were focused on a certain project, like a series of novels or shorts related to a series. Very few were “support me on everything I write.”

I have a video intro because that was highly recommended when I set up the account–not a single one of the others I looked at yesterday had one. I guess that makes sense. If you’re working in visual media like most people on the site, why wouldn’t you do a video? But for a writer, where the story is going to be most important, hooray, it looks like one isn’t necessary. Which is fantastic, because I’m going to take my down. When I get around to it.

So, I’m wondering, if I want a specific project Patreon where I can generate a lot of content and potentially build on something that already has fans, maybe I should modify mine to be specifically about the City of Hope and Ruin sequel. The book has had decent buzz and Siri and I have had people asking about a sequel since immediately after it came out. Or maybe I can make a separate page that both Siri and I can have access to? Not sure about that–it might be one page per account (in which case maybe Siri wants to make one?).

I’ll have to ask her about it.

Does anyone have any experience with Patreon, as a creator or as a patron? What has worked for you, or what do the creators that you follow do that you like?

Sick Day (and Story Structure)

Happy Thursday, squiders. I hope yours find you better than mine, where I am literally a fountain of snot.

(Tips for dealing with sinus congestion–and hopefully getting rid of it? I will love you forever.)

Anyway, Siri and I spent about four hours yesterday pounding out stuff for the sequel of City of Hope and Ruin. (We were both sick, so hopefully everything is coherent when I go back over it.) We made decent progress, mapping out character and relationship arcs, and poked at the plot (still being a jerk) a bit. And we’re going to start writing, so that’s exciting.

We also spent some time talking about structure and how to apply that to the series as a whole. (We’re thinking it will be a trilogy, and I think I’ve talked to you guys in the past about how writing a trilogy is like writing a very long 3-Act structure each with its own complete arcs.)

And I found this very lovely blog post on 3-Act structure, which I thought I would share with you. It’s here:

The Great Novel-Writing Checklist (Just in Time for NaNoWriMo!)

It’s by K.M. Weiland, whom I generally recommend when it comes to the nuts and bolts of fiction writing. But this is a very complete look at the structure and what needs to happen in each part, and I recommend it if you’re curious or would like a refresher.

As for me, I need more tea and kleenex, and I’ll see you guys next week.

Promo: The Unlikeable Demon Hunter: Crave

Good morning, squiders! Today I’ve got The Unlikeable Demon Hunter: Crave by Deborah Wilde. It’s the fourth in a series of paranormal romances. This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Deborah is giving away a $10 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter.

What doesn’t kill you…

seriously messes with your love life.

Nava is happily settling into her new relationship and life is all giddy joy and stolen kisses.

Except when it’s assassins. Talk about a mood killer.

She and Rohan are tracking the unlikely partnership between the Brotherhood and a witch who can bind demons, but every new piece of the puzzle is leaving them with more questions than answers.

And someone doesn’t appreciate them getting close to the truth.

Go figure.

On top of that, a demon known only as Candyman has unleashed a drug that’s harming users in extremely disturbing ways.

After a friend of Nava’s is hurt, she vows to take this demon down. But will life as she knows it survive this mission, or will this be the one time she should have looked before she leapt?

Happily-ever-after: barring death, she’s got a real shot at it.

Read an Excerpt:

“I love home delivery.” Malik lounged in his doorway, eyeing me the way the wolf must have with the three little pigs. His British accent was pure sin.

“I love your arrogance that you didn’t bother moving after I almost killed you.”

He laughed, flashing straight white teeth against his bronze skin. He was still the only being I’d ever met who could pull off a Caesar cut, and was still the stuff of billionaire romance cover fantasies in his soft gray trousers that were artfully tailored to the hard lines of his body and navy shirt, carelessly folded back at the cuffs. “Oh, petal. I’d say I missed you, but I didn’t. Now, unless you brought the more interesting twin?” He peered into the hallway. “No?”

He shut the door, but I stuffed my foot in to block it. Not like he politely stopped trying to close it. “Ow.” I pushed my shoulder into the door to keep my poor bones from breaking. “If you weren’t wondering why I was here, you wouldn’t have let security buzz me up or let my toes cross the wards I’m sure you’ve got strung across this door.”

“Ten seconds.”

“That’s not–”

“Five, four…”

“Demons are being bound.” I rushed my words as he made a buzzing noise.

Malik yanked me inside by my collar and slammed the door.

I wrenched free.

His penthouse apartment hadn’t changed. Still to-die-for sweeping views of the city, a massive glass wine storage unit in the open concept space, and a loft bedroom. He pointed at one of the leather sofas, custom made to hug the curved walls. “Sit and talk.”

About the Author:

A global wanderer, hopeless romantic, and total cynic with a broken edit button, Deborah writes urban fantasy to satisfy her love of smexy romances and tales of chicks who kick ass. This award-winning author is all about the happily-ever-after, with a huge dose of hilarity along the way. “It takes a bad girl to fight evil. Go Wilde.”


Buy Link:

Amazon US:
Amazon UK:

NOTE: This title is discounted for up to 60% until midnight February 26 and the entire series is on sale until then as well.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Trials of the Follow-up

As I mentioned to you guys at the beginning of the year, Siri and I are working on the sequel to City of Hope and Ruin. Or, more accurately, trying to work on the sequel to CoHaR. We’ve been trying to hammer out a plot now for about three months.

And we’re having the worst time. We can’t figure anything out. There’s so many options available that we can’t get anything to gel. What are the character arcs? What is the main plot? How many viewpoint characters do we want/need?

Who knows?

This is a new issue for me. I tend to either write standalones (ala Hidden Worlds or Shards) or planned series where I have an idea of the entire arc of the series. But because the Fractured World is supposed to be a shared universe, Siri and I purposefully left as much open as possible at the end of CoHaR, with the thought that maybe someone else would write a novel in between it and whenever we came back to it.

But no one did, and our own inventiveness has stymied us.

This kind of falls into the “Trap of Success” that you hear talked about sometimes, or the fear of success. Essentially, because you were successful the first time, you have to live up to said success.

(For example, CoHaR has been getting some praise, including being listed on lists of best diverse fiction, like this one, so, you know, things to live up to.)

I have a friend whose first novel did amazing–it was a bestseller, got great reviewers, was optioned for a TV show (which was happening last I spoke with him)–and he’s been having the worst time with the sequel.

The success. Sometimes it gets you in the end.

But anyway.

Hopefully we can get the basics laid down soon so we can get onto the writing (and, let’s be honest, rewriting) of the book. It’s due in its finished form to Turtleduck Press at the beginning of December. So wish us luck!

Where is the Best Place to Write?

We’ve talked about writing locations before, Squiders, about libraries and coffee shops and home offices and whatnot. We’ve talked about setting up our own and what mine looks like (though the images seem to have been eaten in the website hacking snafu of October 2016) and talked about the pros and cons of different locations.

But recently, when I was on my way out to the coffee shop for writing again, my husband asked if I was really more efficient when I went out. And, to be honest, I didn’t know. I do like coffee shops because they allow me to escape from the house and because I like coffee (and tea, and hot cocoa, and iced tea, and…) but I don’t actually know that I am more productive than I am sitting at home in the office, for example.

So I’ve made a spreadsheet.

Have I concluded anything? Not yet. I suspect I need a lot more data (and I’ve been lazy this week as you can see), and I’m wondering if I need a few more columns. (I also need to be consistent on times–I’m trying to do 24hr time so it’s clear when I’m writing in the evening vs the morning to see if time of day is a factor–but I can see off the top of my head that at least the second entry on the 4th needs to be changed to evening.)

I’m also not sure if converting to words/hour is helpful. Like, that fifteen minutes at the library on the third. Would my output have been the same had I written for the full hour? Hard to say. Maybe things were really flowing. Or maybe I would have hit a block 100 words later.

Another thing that may be unduly influencing things is where I am. Some scenes are almost word for word reused from the last draft, so I’m just modifying wording or adding in a little more nuance this time through, and that certainly goes much faster. Some scenes are brand new and difficult (ala the entry on the second) and that really eats my word count.

Is word count even a good marker for telling how much I’m getting done? Not sure what else to use.

Well, I’m at 94K for the rewrite now, and I’m making decent progress, so perhaps in a month we’ll be done (finally!) and I can work on a different project which might be more consistent on scene difficulty. (That probably doesn’t exist.)

Thoughts, squiders? Better way to track? Maybe a column for “how was the flow today” with a scale to 1-10.

Books by Kit Campbell

City of Hope and Ruin cover
Shards cover
Hidden Worlds cover