Keeping up the word count

I tweeted this morning that I’d written 12,000 words this month. That’s 500 a day, on average. Some days I did more, some days I did none, but over the average it’s 500 words.

spreadThe one thing that keeps me writing (almost) every day is my spread sheet.

Each day I add the words I’ve written, and what project I wrote on. Each day I add little pink highlights if that number is zero. I hate those zeros. I also keep blog and writing separate, but I do track both. And both show up on my graph at the end of the month (writing in blue, blog in red.)

The trouble with a “zero” day isn’t that I got a zero, it’s that the next day I don’t write as much. And if I have two “zero’s” in a row I have to struggle all that much more to get some words out.

I actually started this about February. That’s when I realized I was struggling, and I needed more accountability to myself. Something I had in spades during NaNoWriMo, but lacked afterward. I no longer had that nifty little graph showing my progress, or the bar creeping forward saying weather or not I “won”. So, I decided to make my own graph.

It took a few tries to figure out exactly what I should have on my graph. As you can see there is an “edited” column that rarely gets anything put into it. I’ve edited quite a bit this month because I am rewriting sections of “Rage War” in between writing “Forgotten Ones” and finishing up a short story. But I never really think about the edited pages, I just want to track what I’ve written.

I’ve also forgotten to add my word counts for a couple of days. Every time that happens I am extremely disappointed n myself. This has become an incredibly important part of my writing. It’s tracking my growth and accomplishments as I move forward.

Soon after figuring out my own graph I discovered “The Magic Spreadsheet” from Mur Lafferty. I really like her version, and how it gives you points for each day you reach your goal, but I’ll stick with mine for now. However, maybe some of you would like to try it out.

Whatever method you use, the best advice I can offer is just to try new things. Find out what works for you. I know authors who keep a writing journal in paper, and jot down a note every day. I know others who blast it out on twitter, o reddit. Still others keep writing journals on a blog. But I do know that it won’t hurt for you to try to keep track and figure out what you are really doing.

I would love to add time of day to this… but my scheduled doesn’t allow that right now. It’s too chaotic. Chalk that up to a dream for the future.


What makes you think you’re so special?

I’ve been in writer forums, workshops, blogs and more, and invariably there is someone who says something like this:

“I want to write, but I’m afraid to write a bad story.”

One… no you don’t, or you’d be writing.
Two… why the hell do you think you’re so special?

Stephen King writes for years in the corner of his living room before he finally produces something worth selling. But you’re going to produce awesome prose on the first try?

Do you know how many times an author re-writes, re-vamps, throws out, and tries again… on the same project?

But you’re special. Right? Whatever comes out of your head must be perfect and wonderful the first time or you’re not going to write.

Let’s look at it from the view of an author who writes, puts out, and publishes a book, or several books. I’ve labored for hours, months, and possibly years to produce this book. I’ve tortured myself about what to write on that page, or who to kill on that page. I’ve lost sleep because of deadlines, skipped dinners, and missed out on fireworks… all to finish a novel.

And it sucked. The first draft was horrible. The second draft less so, and the third draft finally started to look like something worth publishing.

But you…. you think you should be special and everything out of your hands should be pure bliss to read?

I think it’s time for you to re-evaluate what it is that you really want. Do you want to write? If so, WRITE! That is all you can do. It will probably suck. People might laugh. So. If you are writing because that is what is inside you to do then none of that matters.

Unless you are Motzart, Pascal, Akrit Jaswal, or John von Neumann, you’re going to have to fumble and screw up just like the rest of us poor mortals.

I wasn’t a prodigy. I write. I suck sometimes. But I still pick up that keyboard and write.

What’s your excuse?

Influences of the Past

I was talking to a fellow author today, and we started discussing authors we know and love. There are a number of them I love at the moment. Neil Gaiman, Kim Harrison, Elizabeth Hayden, Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman… all fantastic authors with wonderful books that drew me in, and kept me reading. Kept me looking for the next book.

When I was younger my tried and true authors were Piers Anthony and Anne McCaffrey, with a little bit of Mercedes Lackey thrown in. If you caught me with a book (which you often did) eight out of ten times it would be one of these authors.

I was a voracious reader. I have read about 80% of Piers Anthony’s, and Anne McCafferey’s books (both of who are/were prolific authors. Piers Anthony is still writing to this day, and is currently writing a book through his twitter feed.)

Thinking back, I realize that my consumption of these books had a great influence on my writing. Piers Anthony especially.

I once found myself in a discussion about his books on Reddit. Now, Reddit is an odd place, and  you can find some incredibly thought provoking commentary in there. You can also find a bunch of trolls just looking to get a rise out of people. That day I just happened to meet someone who honestly didn’t like Anthony, and when she saw my comment about what a good writer he was it pushed her buttons.

Apparently some people think of Anthony as “an old pervert”. Okay, I’ll give you one, but not the other.

Yes, Anthony writes about younger girls falling in love, flirting, sex, and centaurs and mermaids with their breasts showing. He even wrote an interesting book called “Pornucopia” which is exactly what it sounds like. Does that make him a pervert? I don’t think so. Writing erotica doesn’t make you a pervert any more then enjoying sex because, you know, it feels… GOOD!

Sex is a part of the human condition. So are the subjects of body image, love, relationships, gender equality, and age of consent. Issues that he addresses in many of his books.

I kept reading his novels because they spoke about the human condition without being preachy. He often addressed race, religion, beliefs, fear, politics, and social and political issues of all kinds, throughout many of his books. But he did it in a way that even a young adult could understand. And he did it without shoving his own personal beliefs on you (even if they were sometimes pretty obvious.)

In “Race Against Time” Piers Anthony deals with the complex idea of “conformity” and how that could cause the stagnation of society and innovation. Written in 1973, it still rings true during a time when political correctness is almost crammed down our throats. We are taught from childhood to sit down, follow directions, and learn and grow just like everyone else, and if you stand out your risk punishment for being a “disturbance in class”.

I wonder if “Race Against Time” would be publishable, through traditional means, in this decade, especially if Anthony were an unknown. Some have openly called it racist because he uses race as a device to accentuate “conformists” to “individualism”, but it was never meant to be about race.

When I say that Piers Anthony influenced my writing today, I mean that if you take the time to read between the lines of my stories you will find a deeper meaning. It isn’t just about a pretty leaf, or a scarecrow, or death. There is something behind it, some deeper meaning, even if that deeper meaning is “pay attention, ask questions, think for yourself.” Especially with my “Eversword Saga“.

I only hope that I can do half as well as Anthony, and others, did.

Publishing, Gender and Genre

Gender. It’s rarely as cut and dry as male and female in this century, but it still influences a lot of things, and people.

Right now the writers forums, blogs, and news sights are blowing up with articles and commentary about gender roles in SF and fantasy. Articles about women who hide their sex so they can break into the elite ranks of SF, and those that question if they are starved for great women authors, or just sexist. A Tor UK team member even weighed in on the matter, complete with graphs.

4SB4smI will be putting up “Small Bites 4” tomorrow which is Science Fiction. It is the first time I will be sharing my science fiction writing. I’m kind of nervous. I’ve done stories with horror, blood, torture, rape, abuse, and sex. I will never be as nervous about them as I am about something that delves into the science fiction (except maybe erotica).

Why? I chose to use my personal name on my books. “Crissy Moss” isn’t a pen name. It’s me. I kept it because I’m one of a very few people online with that particular name. And it is incredibly feminine. I can’t hide behind “Chris” and still be visible. I chose this.

It’s odd that the two genres that worry me are on complete opposite sides of the spectrum. I am afraid to publish in erotica because I don’t want people to judge me because I am a woman that likes sex. And I am nervous about publishing in SF because I know people will judge me for not being steeped in science enough.

Caring what other people think about us… man or woman, this simple foible is enough to keep people lost, alone, and unable to attain their dreams. This very simple fact is why I won’t sit back and let my stories sit on a hard drive collecting virtual dust. Accolades, comments, and compliments are nice, but being true to yourself is far more important. It’s worth risking one star reviews, flops, and hate mail.

I don’t pretend to know why women aren’t as prominent in the SF/F publishing ranks. I think it is a self perpetuating cycle. Fewer women try to publish in SF, so there are fewer SF books written by women. There are fewer SF books published by women, so fewer women see role models in the SF realm and don’t take the plunge.

I do know that it isn’t just about women. Male authors trying to break into erotica often have to use pseudonyms as well, and they usually have to be female, or non-gender names.

And it’s about readers, too. Readers sometimes wont get past the name on the book.

Gender is more fluid then we think it is. Anatomy doesn’t make us who we are. People can change sexes, or act in non-masculine and non-feminine ways, regardless of the equipment birth gave them. There are even those among us who have no affinity to either sex.

True equality… That’s going to take some time.

Some articles about the subject:

Is the book industry sexist or just starved for great women authors?

Women Who Pretended to Be Men to Publish Scifi Books


The best women authors of science fiction and fantasy

The Greatest Female Sci-Fi/Fantasy Authors of All Time

Around the Web

It’s long past due for an “Around the Web” list.

Here are some of the things going on around the web.

Judge says: Apple Conspired to Fix eBook Prices

Harper Lee, author of “To Kill A Mockingbird”, scammed out of her author rights, trying to get them back.

An Op-Ed piece on “state of publishing“. A very interesting read actually, and why the mega-publisher “Penguin Random House” isn’t good for readers or authors.

A great article about research showing that copyright kills books!

What Makes People Put Down a Book

TedEd talks, “If Super Powers were Real” including super speed, flight, and immortality among others.

22 Productive Tricks

7 things D&D Taught me about Storytelling

Is ANGST the secret ingredient in new adult fiction?



Published! AGAIN!

The Ring


My new title, The Ring, is a paranormal thriller. Just under 3000 words. It is 99 cents for the weekend and will be going up to $2.99 on Tuesday. (I’m giving it a couple extra days since I had technical issues and it didn’t actually get published until this morning. It will be available on both Amazon, and Kobo sometime later today.

The Ring is a modern, paranormal, fantasy, and is the first in a five book series. Each book will focus on one of the items, and some of the things that happen because of them.

I suppose it is a lot like “Warehouse 13”, the old “Friday the 13th” tv series, or “The Room” tv series. One item, one shenanigan, and a close. I might have to write more then five episodes if people like it.

Next week “Small Bites 3” will be out. I am hoping to have all four small bites, and the accompanying “Small Bites 1-4” book out by the end of the month.

The only thing that worries me, just a little bit, is that eventually I’m going to run out of half finished stories, and this once a week publishing is going to slow down. I guess I just need to learn to write faster.

I also ordered, and received, some stickers for my book covers. Once I got the book covers in my hand I realized just how much I loved them all. I’ll be giving some out at PAX, so if you’re there let me know.

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Adventures in a Book Warehouse

A friend called me up the other day and told me about this amazing sale. A book warehouse was selling everything, just $10 for one bag of books. And you brought the bag, any size.

Well, I had a rolling cart. I could fit a lot of books in that thing. Maybe even a couple hundred. Didn’t matter, she said. Ten bucks.

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The warehouse was actually three buildings FILLED with shelves of books. The shelves were pretty close together, too.

Enough that I sometimes had to squeeze through to fit. 

Books upon books, stretching out as far as you could see. All of them mixed together in no logical order.

We were hunting for hours to find any that we might like.

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Many of them were romances. A lot of mystery. It took me hours to find some sci-fi and fantasy, or paranormal. But I eventually came away with a nice stack of books. I grabbed some Nora Roberts, who seemed to be one of the most prolific authors there, and a few Dean Koontz, and then a bunch of random books with interesting covers.

And you know what I discovered while crawling through those three buildings with thousands and thousands of books laid out before me? Mind you, I could throw as many as I wanted in my cart, and price wasn’t really an option….

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Book covers are boring.

Nora Roberts, Dean Koontz, John Grisham, and more… all of them.. boring covers.

You have the authors name in HUGE letters, a boring picture, and not much else. Most of them just labeled them as “fiction” so I couldn’t even get a read on what kind of fiction it was. It was frustrating… three warehouses worth of books and not much time to pic out a book, and this is what I had to choose from.

2013-06-01 08.18.28I did manage to find a lot of books with good covers… but it was hard to find them. And a lot of them were meant for younger children.

I notice that Sci-fi and Fantasy are more likely to have expressive covers. Romance is likely to have two people kissing, or something like that. Paranormal will often have an expressive cover.

This is why I work so hard on my own covers. I want someone to be able to look at a glance, and get an idea of what’s inside the book. So far I think I’ve done alright… You be the judge.

all mini


In Between

After finishing “Osiren’s Tears” I’m kind of at a lose for what to do. I’ve been working on it for so long that I’m  stuck feeling like… “What now”.

Don’t get me wrong, I have a lot of projects to chose from. There is the second story in the “Everquest Saga”, Rage War, and “Prophecy by Barlight”, plus the second “Small Bites” I want to put out… I have no end of projects.

I also wanted to try doing some youtube videos. I’m not quite sure how to do them… that pesky fear getting in the way again. But it is something I have to deal with, so I am thinking about trying to paint a scene from one of my stories, and have it narrated while you watch the painting. This could be really good, or really awful depending on how it goes. I think I’m going to try it, and post the results. Even if it is terrible at least I tried.

I updated my bookshelf with pictures of all my book covers, and a blurb about each of them. Links to them as well.

I’ve also done a few minor adjustments to the files for each of the novels. I had to adjust all the book covers to make them a uniform size, and fix a couple of typos. If anyone finds a typo let me know about it. Even though I paid for a professional editor it doesn’t mean she caught every single typo.

I suppose it is time for me to go tackle that new project, whichever one it is.

And as Neil Gaimen so often says… “Make good art.”