Constant contact


Tomorrow I am going to Cirque du Soleil. I’m excited! It’s going to be so amazing, I can’t wait!

So today, while thinking about it, I randomly thought “I’m going to have to mute my phone for that”. Not “I’ll need to turn it off,” or “I won’t need my phone.” no, there is the expectation in my own mind that I will have my phone and my children will be able to reach me is that need to. I would feel guilty for having fun and enjoying a movie, or a show and finding out after that something horrible happened at home.

There is a cord between my phone and I, and is only gotten stronger as new tech comes out. And I don’t begrudge this. From my phone I can read the news, check social media, read a book, write a blog post, take pics, even work on my novel anywhere in the world. I can communicate with people from all over, give directions to people who are lost, and answer random questions.

I think my life is fuller because of this little pocket computer.

So much has changed in just ten years. What’s it going to be like in 2025? I’ll be 47 then, and still reading to go with the new tech, I hope.


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.

Why I Won’t Buy the XB1

No one disagrees that the future is going digital. Nor do they disagree with Microsoft’s rights to do so this soon. It does seem a bit pre-mature to a lot of people who are without internet, or have sporadic, or bad internet. The same people who love their console games because they do not have to get online for downloads, updates, multi-player and the like.

I do, however, disagree with the fact that the game you buy as a physical disk isn’t actually yours and you can not do anything with it except install it onto your personal XB1. You can’t give it to a friend to play. You can’t really sell it to a used game store. I can already see used game stores are going to refuse to take them because they can only be re-registered to a new console once. How does Gamestop know if someone else already registered it? They don’t. So they can’t do it.

On top of the money you pay to Gamestop to get the game, you also have to pay the publisher/Microsoft again, for a used game. This is like Ikea charging you for buying a bookshelf, then charging someone who buys that bookshelf at a garage sale. It’s ridiculous.

Then there is the kinect. Always on, always watching, always listening. With NSA recording, watching, and storing anything they damn well feel like, and Microsoft being one of the companies that are supporting the NSA in doing this, then it just doesn’t sound safe to me. I wouldn’t want it in my living room watching me. It’s just creepy. What if I want to play Skyrim while I am skyclad? No, not happening. 

Yes, digital is the future, and honestly, I buy most of my games on Steam because the prices reflect the fact that you can not resell them. They have great sales, and they allow you to download it to any computer you want, as many times as you want and play offline if you like. Want to play with a friend? Buy them another copy, it’s probably less then $20.

Microsoft will be selling you brand new games with a physical disk that you can not resell without a lot of trouble, for $60. 

Maybe other gamers can afford that… Maybe they don’t mind invasion of privacy, or limitations put on your personal property. That’s up to gamers. I, personally, will not be getting an XB1.

What if someone steals my stuff?

This is a really common question of new writers. They want feedback from other writers, but they are afraid some other writer will steal their idea.

The truth is there is a chance someone can take your idea, or use that name for their book, or have a similar protagonist. All of these can happen.
But it isn’t as important as some seem to think.

The truth is:

1. Someone already did it.
Think about the plot pieces that make up your story. Lost soul? Broken heart? Artifact? Magic stone?
Now think of all the movies, TV shows, music pieces, paintings, games, books, comics, and other media out there with the same theme, plot, story, or character type in it. A lot of them, right?

Very little comes out that is completely new and original. Many of the best movies are re-imaginings of past ideas, or franchises. Even “Avatar”, a block buster, was criticized for being a rip off of “Dances with Wolves”. “Titanic” drew from the sinking of a real ship, and the old “boy meets girl of a different class, can’t have girl cause someone else is in the way” story line. They just tweaked the stories, gave them beautiful backdrops, and let them go.

2. Writers already have their own ideas.
I have 7 novels, and 12 short stories planned for this year. That doesn’t include the others that are waiting for next year. I don’t need yet another idea to stack on top of all the others. And I bet most, if not all authors that bother with publishing, have a drawer full of ideas just like me. Why, then, do they need your idea?

3. Your stuff isn’t worth stealing… yet.
Okay, there is a chance that your prose are amazing, awesome, inspiring, and will bring readers to tears, encouraging them to shoot you to the top of the charts. But more then likely you need to hone your craft. Find all the glitches. Clean up the prose, spelling and grammar. And then, MAYBE, after all of that is done, then you might be ready for the big time.

If you are one of those rare people who have uber-amazing stories that are worth stealing, then why aren’t you publishing right now?

Lets be honest. It takes time to learn to write well, and not only technically speaking, but also to write stories worth reading. Worth stealing? That is a whole new level of greatness.

4. Art is Stealing
Romeo and Juliet has been remade, rewritten, and re-conceptualized, so many hundreds of times that each of us knows the story without ever actually reading the original work. Most of the adaptations don’t even bother to say “this is a rip off of Romeo and Juliet” anymore. We just know.

Why is this a good thing? Because it means you can do the same thing. Remake red riding hood, or some Greek myths. Re-imagine Aesop’s fables, or a 100 year old opera. Go to museums and make up stories to go with pictures you see. Write to music, art, etc. Etc.

For more on this go read Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative

5. Ideas are a dime a dozen.
Here, have some:

  • Girl goes to mars and finds life that tries to eat her.
  • Guy meets girl, pisses her off, and has to win her back.
  • Group of friends are going off to college and make a last ditch effort to have the best summer ever.
  • Ancient god from Norse myth turns out to be an alien, and he’s back.
  • We are actually in a communal dream.
  • Kid finds out his parents are really wizards/aliens/superheros/etc and so is he.
  • Artist makes a beautiful piece of art and falls in love with it.

Seven ideas. All of which have been featured in several movies/books/poems/songs/etc.
Ideas are a dime a dozen, and you can’t copyright ideas. In fact you can go watch a movie, write down the key points, and create your own story out of it.

Basic story: Guy finds out he’s actually meant to save the world. Doesn’t believe it, but when he finally does amazing/horrible things start happening. This is the plot to “The Matrix”, “LOTR”, and “WoT” books, as well as several other franchises.
Now redefine a few things. Who is “the guy”? How will he save, or destroy the world? Why doesn’t he believe? What makes him believe? What can he do once he believes? Now you have a story all your own.

What does this all mean?
Stop worrying about your stuff getting stolen and go on with your life. Get on with making art.

Here is a real world example. Fashion designers can not copyright their designs because clothing is a utilitarian item. Here is a great article on how lack of copyright has actually made fashion design better.

And here is EASimCity, a great game. Suffering under 2800 one star reviews because they are so paranoid about copyright that they are killing their own game.

Here is what matters:
Make good art.
Make a lot of it.
Make it available.
Give it a fair priced.
Engage your readers.

If they like you, and your writing, then they will want to give you money so that you will keep making more stuff.

If you are so afraid someone will steal your stuff, then you’re not going to meet the fans who will love your work, either.

Taking a Stand

One of the problems with writing is the wear and tear on your body. Of course the idea that sitting down at a keyboard and typing is bad for your health is actually counter intuitive.

Now we know about repetitive motion disordercarpel tunnel, and similar issues. We know that slouching can hurt your back, and there are even articles that people who sit down a lot at work die sooner. Diet and exercise?  Sure, in between the 30,000 words I’m trying to crank out just this month.

They have standing desks available, but they cost a $2-300, more if you want something nice. Even worse, you already have a desk that you then have to get rid of. And if you want to stand for some things and sit for others… You can get cheap ones for $30, but the good ones cost more.  The best option, a tred-desk that keeps you walking while you type, can be $3000.

Today my legs were killing me just from sitting down too much over the last few weeks. I’ve been writing a lot (a lot for me, of course) and I don’t have the luxury of a standing desk. I decided to find a solution to it today. Something, anything, free so that I could just stand up while I was editing.

My solution:

I bought an old secretary from the thrift store when I moved into my apartment. The cord on the monitor was the perfect length to put it on top of the desk. Then two boxes to set keyboard and mouse on… simple solution. Free.

My legs don’t hurt as much today. I keep moving, walking back and forth, getting water, or dancing to my favorite song, and it feels so much better after just a day.

And my writing is going so much better because I’m not stopping every few minutes just to get up and stretch. I can just keep going. And I’m not distracted by games, because it wouldn’t be very easy to play them this way. Much easier just to write and edit.

Best of all, when I want to sit down and play a game I just move the boxes and the monitor back in place and get to the games.


So I have a convertible standing desk that makes me feel better, and more productive, which I paid nothing. Ya, Good day.

Around the Web

Tor Authors give tips on writing.

Yes, Virginia, You can be a Paid Author Too (which is a bit tongue in cheek, and NSFW language.)

11 ways you can help get your favorite author noticed, some of which are new-ish.

Google+ communities create networks for authors and publishers. (I’ve been saying for a while, Google+ people! Drop Facebook! Find me here.)

7 Worst Mistakes by Indie Authors (according to Joanna Penn, taken from her own experiences.)

Writers and Depression: An Interview with Psychotherapist and Author, Philip Kenney

And because I absolutely love this site, and think more people should use these: MOO stickers and business cards.