Blogging Ahead

So, in order to get some blog posts queued up and ready to go on the days when I’ll be at the Fabulous Pikes Peak Writers’ Conference, I’m taking a quick peek at the A-to-Z Challenge schedule, and I find that if I include travel time, I’ll need posts V-Z while I’m there, and also one more post for the 1st of May.

April 26th also happens to be the StoryTime Blog hop, which means that letter V will have to be a short story in a sci-fi/fantasy/speculative fiction vein. It doesn’t necessarily have to be aimed at children, but it probably does have to avoid sex, violence, and language.

And I believe the theme for my alphabet challenge would be the letter M.

I don’t have the faintest idea what I was thinking.

Oh, well. Too late for buyer’s remorse, now.

The thing is, If I start early and stay ahead of it, I may be able to cram just about anything into my letter M theme.  If I slip behind, it’s going to take more and more time to find today’s appropriate letter. (As opposed to “hey, I can throw that over here.”)

The process might get me ahead of schedule for good.

The Great Theme Reveal

Anybody who’s read this blog for long knows I’m not much of a “theme” person. I have to drag themes kicking and screaming out of my novels, and most of the time, I have no particular desire to build or work with a theme. I’m not someone your tenth-grade English teacher would like. My tenth-grade English teacher(s) spent the entire year hinting about ways to do drugs in class, on the premise that stoned might be an improvement, and ultimately wound up being sainted for not killing me in my sleep.

At any rate, my theme for last year’s A-to-Z Challenge was a Fly-By-The-Seat-of-Your-Pants stroke of brilliance: Whatever the hell happens to pop into my head. It worked well enough. I made it through.

This year, I thought about doing an upbeat complicated relationships thing, because that always seems to work its way into my stories, but let’s be honest, I’m not really sure all my readers are up for a recitation of A-to-Z relationships, and quite frankly, it would almost certainly devolve into a list of rare and exotic paraphilias. Why no… I just needed something that started with the letter U. Why do you ask?

That could sure get thorny fast.

Do I really need a theme?

Okay, so the one that finally popped into my head was…

Words that begin with the letter M.

That doesn’t seem so unreasonable. I’ll need to add words that don’t begin with the letter M to make it fit the challenge, but with some effort, I think I can make it work.

Words that begin with the letter M it is, then.

If you want to join in the challenge, all the details are here.  Let me know if you’re playing along.

StoryTime Blog Hop: An Invitation

The StoryTime Blog Hop is a hop for Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Speculative fiction writers to show off their short stories. While it’s not specifically aimed at children, we do avoid adult content for this one. The amazing Juneta Key has been suckered into hosting graciously volunteered to host this month’s hop yet again, and she’s inviting anyone who has a short story that fits the bill to join in.

If you are interested in participating, the rules and deadlines are here: http://www.junetakey.com/posts/rules-guidelines-storytime-blog-hop/

If you’re still not sure what this is all about, I have links to some of the past stories, including my own StoryTime contributions here: StoryTime links so you’ll be able to read what people have done in the past. (It’s possible that needs updating. I’ll look into it.)

We’re also looking into a stand-alone StoryTime website, and some great ideas for promoting and growing the blog hop, so be sure you join in the conversation.

That Morning Non-Routine

I am awake and staring at a blinking cursor. I’ve had breakfast, and I’ve remembered to put my laundry in the clothes dryer so it will be dry in time for me to go to work. I have checked in on the giraffe that is supposed to be having a baby, live-streamed from the whichever zoo it is. (No baby.)

This is what happens, by the way, when people inform the older generation about live streaming video… hundreds of hours of giraffe. Now live in a computer near me.

I have checked in on the forum where I’m a moderator, and answered a couple of questions. This is one of my bigger morning activities. Something I really do need to do on a regular basis. It’s a good forum. One of the best I’ve seen for writers.

And I have checked the news, the email, and a couple of ads, featuring things I didn’t know existed, but now desperately want. Especially at the fabulous prices listed. Closing and deleting.

Part of this is, of course, that I get up early. It was before 3 this morning, when I finally decided it was time to give up on that last chunk of sleep. I’m not sure I’ll ever get used to that, or to the idea that sleeping til 5 is “sleeping in.” I’m sitting under an electric light, pretending that it is not completely dark outside, and more or less bracing for the day.

If I had my creative, write when I feel like it choice, I’d probably be writing all night, and then going to bed… well, right about now. Last night, I wrote until that MUST be in bed moment, and then finally did go to sleep.

IWSG: So, Do I Still Fit In?

Insecure Writers' Support Group logo

The Insecure Writers’ Support Group posts on the first Wednesday of the month. More information and the sign-up can be found here.

The awesome co-hosts for the February 1 posting of the IWSG will be Misha Gericke, LK Hill, Juneta Key, Christy and Joylene Buter!

When I was working on my first novel–the one in my bottom desk drawer–I was working at a bookstore. I was in a writers’ group, and even though my novel wasn’t up everybody’s alley, we all got along. We had fun. It was a community, and I felt like I belonged.

Now, I’m drifting. I’m in a more mundane job, and my real-life creative community? Well, it lacks cohesion. Here and there, I run into people who write. We have a coke, we talk… the structure and routine are missing. And progress? I really don’t know. I guess you can talk about writing whether you’re getting words or not.

I’ve started thinking of going to a writers’ conference. I’m finally at a place where I might be able to afford it, and where it might actually be worth the money. And let’s be honest, the idea of going out and spending a weekend with my own kind doesn’t sound bad, either.

Hello, insecurities!

Absolutely everything, from finishing my revision (I’m not counting it out.) to what I’ll wear, and the general–and terrifying–fact that I won’t know anyone, I’ll get lost on the way to class, and I’ll probably forget my locker combination.

It’s been a long time, and I’m jittery abut the whole thought.

Anybody else in the same boat? When you’ve been away from other creatives for a while, how do you get back in?  Just close your eyes and jump, or wade in carefully? Any tips?

Glitches, Progress Reports, and The Dreaded Day Job

For some reason, the blog hasn’t been automatically approving comments. All the right check boxes are checked, and some of the “please moderate” comments are definitely from people I know, and who comment all the time, but… they’re still getting flagged. I’m working on that.

I’m adding two new pages, today. The first one is an accountability/progress report for my 52 week 52 short story challenge. It has a space for every week in the year. So far, I’ve filled in two titles, and the first one probably doesn’t really count. I don’t know if it’s going to be of interest to anyone but me, but you’re welcome to  take a look and either cheer me on or give me that kick in the ass, depending on where I am.

The second page is My Writer Scout Sash. I despise that cluttered, everything and the kitchen sink look that some blogs get. And yet, I’m gradually increasing my collection of snazzy web-badges from the various events and groups I play with on line. So, my not quite regulation solution? Writer Scout Sash. A page where I can put them all, to remind myself of my accomplishments, and all the fun I’m having, but where no one else has to trip over them.

Also, some of my feeds have been picking up the wrong picture to go with the posts–or whatever picture’s available, when I don’t have a featured image–and that’s probably not a good thing. I’m contaminating brands! Worse than that, ones that don’t even belong to me. Well, this will fix that.

The Day Job is still going. The Good News is that we have a new person… and it’s not even a new hire. It’s a reliable, been-there-forever transfer.  The Bad News is that there’s already an office pool on how long it will take New Person and Supervisor Person to tear each others’ throats out.

There is no wagering on who will win said confrontation. No one will take that bet. The answer is New Person.

That Edge-of-Your-Seat 2016 Recap and Statistics

2016 was the year I started posting regularly on ReprobateTypewriter.com.

Posting regularly was a new thing for me, and I didn’t really start until April, when I did the A-t0-Z Challenge. I’m going to be up front about it, and say that part of my discipline for finally putting my butt in my chair and doing it was that after my sister died, getting up and doing a blog post every day was more or less the only solid thing I could think of. I didn’t do it because I believed it would actually result in anything.

So, here are my results. The interesting ones, anyway. I had 758 views in 2015. In 2016, I had 5,683. In July and December of 2016, I had more views than I did in the entire year of 2015. If I follow this rate of growth out through 2017, I wind up with somewhere in the neighborhood of 43,000 views. I’m not sure if that’s a practical goal, or not. Still distancing myself from that, a little bit.

I did the StoryTime Blog Hop Four times, the A-to-Z Challenge in April, and NaNoWriMo in November. (And theoretically camp nano, but it got swallowed. Life.) Then, I did the Nano Blog Hop. I’ve also become a regular at the Insecure Writers’ Support Group. So, much more social than I have been in the past.

Oh, and look at me. I have followers. I’m not filling sold-out arenas, just yet, but there are more people following this blog than in my first school. Including the teachers.

My top pages for 2016 (not including my home page or stuff like “about me”) included a few of my short stories:

And the Storytime Blog Hop Page.

Over all, I’m happy with the results I’ve gotten. Among other things, I’ve started to see growth as something that can be measured in years, instead of centuries, and progress as being a realistic, and possible goal.

So, how has your path been?

New Year’s Resolution #3: Get Involved

Resolution #3 is to take the time and energy to be actively involved with my creative communities. I’m a little hit-and-miss on that one. It’s hard to find my local creative community, and being quite honest, a little harder to find common ground with them. Well, I’m taking the effort. Will track them down. Will take brownies and chips. We’ll see what happens.

I’m a little better with online communities, at least in part because I can cherry pick the parts I like. No one on the internet has ever asked me to help them move, for instance. And finding people who are working on the same challenges I am is sooo much easier.

So, I’m working with some groups to get to where I want to be.

I’m taking on the 52 Week Writing Challenge (Found it on Medium.)in 2017. The challenge is to write one something every week for a year. There’s no specific something it has to be, but something. A poem or a book chapter every week. I’ve already talked about my desire to write and publish more short stories, so **surprise** I’m going to commit to writing one short story every week in 2017.

Fifty-two short stories. That means four for the A-to-Z Challenge in April, and four for the StoryTime Blog Hop. Probably one or two for my blog during the Holidays. That leaves forty-two that I can submit to magazines or contests. Which, all said and done, would probably do wonders for my career.

I’m going to hold off on committing to NaNoWriMo until closer to the date. I might be ready for a new project on November 1st and I might not.

As always, I’ll be jabbering away at the Holly’s Writing Classes Forums… Which are really one of the most supportive and stable writers’ forums I’ve come across. And keeping up with this blog (which may or may not be less solipsistic in the future. Prob’ly not.)

And I will be jumping back into my revision with both feet in the new year. Hoping to start annoying agents–and eventually, the unsuspecting public–with my work as soon as possible.

So, what challenges are you taking on for 2017? What are the best communities to push you forward? What’s made you a better writer?

New Years Resolution #1: Ask More Questions

I wasn’t going to do a New Year’s Resolutions post this year, and now I am. In fact, I’m going to do a series of them over the next few days. I don’t really know why the change of heart. Maybe it was writing my last post, and thinking about how people make money from art.

Maybe, it’s just the realization that at their heart, New Year’s Resolutions are about making your life better. What can I do differently? What would make me happier, stronger, wealthier? What can I do to make myself happier next year than I was, this year?

So, I’m working on a list of open-ended resolutions. Not things like “lose twenty pounds” or “take up atlatl hunting.” But soft resolutions. Friendly resolutions, where there really isn’t a succeed or fail. Just things to keep in mind over the next year.

So, New Year’s Resolution #1 is:

Ask More Questions.

I’m not the most outgoing person in the world, and if I’m not in a venue that actively supports asking questions like school, or a brain-storming meeting, most often, I won’t. It’s not that questions don’t pop into my mind. They do. All the time.

But I still don’t ask them.

I don’t know why.

Information should be one of the easiest things to ask for. It’s something everybody has, and even if they give it away, they still have it. It’s not like asking for a quarter or a new bicycle.

  • How long have you been doing this?
  • What do you do differently now than when you first started?
  • Who helped you the most?
  • What’s hurt you? Professionally, I mean.
  • Where and how do you make your money? Craft fairs? The internet? Day Job?
  • How did you think of that?
  • What else do you do?
  • What are you going to do next?
  • And the big one, the one nobody asks a whole lot, if they’re a grown-up. Why? Why? Why?

For 2017, I’m giving myself permission to ask the questions that pop into my head, even if they’re the wrong questions, even if all I’m really asking is “Point me in the right direction?”

I will ask.

And I’m accepting the responsibility of answering questions, too. The ones people ask, and the ones they don’t ask… and the ones they don’t know how to ask.

So, what about you? What are the best questions you’ve heard, and the toughest questions to get people to answer?

And Medium Sent Me 2016 Statistics

Today I got a year-end email from Medium, informing me that I’m in the top 10% of readers and writers (whatever that means) on their website. That surprised me, since I’d hardly consider myself a power user. Most of the attention I get seems to be for non-fiction, and more specifically, for responses to other peoples’ writing. Oh, I export some of my stories from here to there, but in general, the response isn’t all that much.

Top 10%?

I can’t decide if that means I’m making progress. It might just mean the platform is dying, and I’m the only one left. Or it might mean the platform is still growing, and that I have a chance of growing with it.

The email broke down the more flattering statistics on my “stories” which means fiction and non-fiction. Not everything I’ve put there. 4 out of 8 pieces I think; possibly not including responses. 184 people have read things I wrote on Medium. Huh. Just guessing I’m more on the top reader end of things, with 1,034 minutes spent reading. 3 minutes a day? No, that seems wrong, too.

Super-secret algorithm, I guess. I’m winning. Why would I doubt it?

Medium hasn’t sent any readers to ReprobateTypewriter.com. (I checked.) And the link from ReprobateTypewriter.com has sent two whole readers Medium-ward. It’s not a frenzy of activity. But then, again, I haven’t really focused on Medium the way I have on Twitter, or on my own website.

Part of it is that my relationship to Medium just hasn’t clicked, yet. I don’t know where it fits into the rest of what I’m doing online. I don’t know whether I should just import stories, and basically turn it into a mirror of Reprobate Typewriter, or if I should use it as a more specialized off-shoot. Somewhere to put the political rants, and the over-sexed pieces that might stir up more debate than I want to bring home.

I envision it as being–in a way–a much broader audience than I have here. A place for my thoughts on education, and presumptive paternity, and communication in general. Did you really want to hear a rant on paternity being contractual? What about sex-ed and consent? You know. That kind of thing… Over there.

I have a few drafts. Most of them are responses to other people. The others are a little more soap-boxy than I’d usually put here on Reprobate Typewriter. I’ve written a few things… and then my self-censoring mechanism kicks in. Most of the time. And I don’t push the publish button.

I haven’t spent much time on Medium. Not working on my own things. Not promoting them. Almost all of the time is reading time.

Four stories, and ten or fifteen minutes reading over my lunch hour a couple of times a week. I’m really not sure what to do with that information, either.

I really like Medium. I like reading on it. I like the things I find there. I just… haven’t gotten to the point where I completely see it as a place to be a writer. I talk to people there… but if I want to tell a story about dragons, I usually put it here.

What about you? Do you ever use Medium? Tips? Hints? And if you do… have you ever thought about starting a publication?