5 min – Day’s off are worth it.

I helped my daughter today, and in return she helped me…by shoving my phone in her backpack when I dropped her off at work.

Every time I forget my phone, or something like this happens, I’m struck by how much I use it for. Right now I am doing my five minute writing. I use the phone as a timer for the five minutes. I sometimes use the phone to write my five minute blog post. Other times I just use it to check, and reply to, email. Or catch up on social media when standing in line some where. If all you have is seconds between customers then checking social media, or posting a little bit about a project is often some good use of time since I want to go actually WRITE when I have more f it.

Speaking of writing, I took a three day weekend this weekend. (That would be Wed-Fri because of my off schedule.) I needed a break from the rat race of the day job. I thought I’d get more editing done. That did not happen. Instead, yesterday I spent a good chunk of time just playing a video game and listening to podcasts. Why? Because I wanted to, darn it!

But today I feel so much better after taking that needed health break. And now I’m back to writing.

Care for yourself. Keep in mind the tools you have at your disposal. Use even the small moments to keep write down notes, thoughts, or check in with your followers. And some days just take a day off.

And that’s my five.


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


I happen to love numbers. And anyone who has watched some videos from vihart might understand why numbers are so fascinating. They can draw pictures, tell you stories, and draw a world on a flat surface. Music is math! Art is geometry. Words are symphonies played out with the written language.

One thing I learned from NaNoWriMo is that I love to watch the numbers going up. I love to see how much I wrote each day, and try to beat the number from the day before… or at least writing more each day.

I started keeping my own set of numbers to help me write without the help of NaNo forums, graphs and news letters.

I have a database that tracks how much I wrote on what projects (including this blog, though the blog is not added into the graph below) and I am trying to track how many hours I spend on each project each day. Reminding myself to punch in and out of the little app on my phone that charts the time isn’t always easy though since I write in 20 min spurts several times a day.

feb graph

The graph shows my daily word count, with red dots for every day I skipped. Since I hate putting in those red marks I’ve actually been writing more. I even added in the blue line which is my guess (hope) of future progress upward.

Speaking of progress. “Osiren’s Tears”, which I did for NaNo, is half way through the final edit. Then I will start looking for an editor to clean up my spelling and grammar before I publish it. I still have to polish the cover, but hopefully that won’t take long.

As for “Small Bites”, I’ve decided to break it into four mini books, each with three short stories. They will be put out as 99 cent volumes, then I will put up the entire “Small Bites” book with all twelve stories for $3.99 once they are all finished.

Once I have all of these up I will feel comfortable trying KDP select and start offering a few titles for free.

Writing is a long process, but I still believe it is worth it.

Catching Eyes

When you pick up a book the first thing that catches your eye is the cover art, and the title. If these two things do not apeal to you then it is less likely for you to read the blurb on the back, or take a moment to read the first couple of pages.

The art should reflect, and work well with, the title.

It is incredibly easy to get actual, profesional cover art for your book that there is absolutly no excuse to use a big red box with letters on it, unless your story is about a big red box. I know you drew it yourself, but if it doesn’t give me an idea of what is in the book. I will probably pass it up for something a bit shinier on the outside.

They say “don’t judge a book by its cover” but really, most people do. The cover of your book is the very first impression anyone gets of it.  They look at the cover and say ‘oh, spaceships’ or ‘a river, must be about a camping trip’, or magic, or sex. Really, your cover art sells the theme of your story.

Coverart can be aquired through the many thousands of artists that frequent Deviant Art, freelance forums, or even Reddit. There are even premade, free, covers on Deviant Art already ready for your use. Many artists only want a free e-book for their troubles. Others, the ones who actually make a living from their art, or are trying to just like you are trying to make a living from your writing, will sell you a cover. (Please remember to always contact the artist, read their rules, ask and/or let them know, BEFORE you use their art.)

The second thing people will look at is the title.

Titles are often based on something important to the story.

  • Main Character              (Harry Potter, The Hobbit, Dracula, Frankenstein)
  • A group of people          (Fellowship Of the Ring, Jason and the Argonaughts)
  • Main Theme/quest         (Star Wars, On Writing, Quest for the Holy Grail,)
  • Location                       (Serenity, Bridge to Terabithia, Africa, Matrix)
  • Subject                         (Swamp Thing, Zombie Survival Guide)
  • Or a combination           (Anne of Green Gables, Shawn of the Dead)
  • A Concept                    (Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Pride and Predjudice)

Pick out the things that are the most important in your story. People, places, subject. Now brainstorm around those themes. It always helps to have something that is in the same tone as your book. Scary for horror, funny for a comedic piece, futuristic for a sci-fi.

Sometimes the title seems to have absolutely nothing to do with the story, such as “A Clockwork Orange” or “To Kill a Mockingbird”. If the title is off beat enough it may draw someones attention enough to get them to read the preview, like “The Universe Doesn’t Give A Flying Fuck About You” (which is a motivational, surprisingly.)

Covers and titles are almost as important as the first page. If they look at the cover and it doesn’t grab their attention long enough to get them to pick it up and read that first paragraph (or online click the ‘see inside’ button) then it never gets out the door.

Random Words

One of my favorite writing exercises is the random word. Several years ago I joined a writers workshop that did Short Story in a Week. Five groups of five random words were given, and participant could use one or all of the lists in a short story exercise.

Random are great ways to generate ideas. Take this generator.
It gave me these words:

The fairy empire is in heated battle with the cheese loving citizens of Wisconsin, and taking to the sky, ready to attack!

A silly sentence, but fun, and able to add more ideas.

Search for random word generators on google. If you have a specific genre you like then add that genre. Try it a few times to get the creative juices flowing.