Writing Update

It’s been a while since I’ve checked in with all of you to fill you in on how the writing’s going. Today seemed as good a day as any to do that, so here we go.

I took most of August off while I was gallivanting around Europe, but other than that, I’ve been plodding away steadily at my typical 1,000 words/day rate. I’ve got several projects up in the air at the moment, all of them in different stages of development.

  • MEMORY THIEF 2: Yes, this is still happening. No, I don’t have anything else I can tell you about it at the moment. The movie adaptation of the original is still moving forward, but I don’t have any updates on that either, alas. Some of it is due to Fox being acquired by Disney, but that’s all I’ve got for you at the moment. Sorry. The book is done, though there might be a bit more polishing that happens as soon as the publication date is set.
  • MURDER CASTLE: I’m actually working on this at the moment. I got the latest feedback from my agent last week, and I’m busy incorporating those changes. It’s not a huge rewrite. I hope to be done with it in a couple of weeks, at which point it’s likely the book will be ready to go out on submission. (Yay!) Reading it through again as I go, I’m really excited for this one, and very hopeful you get to see it published.
  • UTOPIA: Is with my agent at the moment. I believe it’s my . . . third draft? Something like that.
  • INCIDENT AT OAK CREEK: Is a short story that I just signed a contract for last week! It’s the Latter-day Shaolin work: steampunk alternative history adventure horror. The usual. It’s actually quite long for a short story. 11,000 words or so, which makes it technically a novelette, I believe. Not sure when the anthology will be published, but rest assured I’ll let you know when it is.
  • SILVERADO: This is the codename I’m giving my YA steampunk book that I was working on right before I transitioned over to edits on MURDER CASTLE. It’s actually a sequel of sorts to INCIDENT AT OAK CREEK. It shares a few characters and the world/history, but it’s a different point of view and main character, which makes a huge difference. I’m 40,000 words into it. I’d guess it’ll end up being around 60,000 words, but we’ll see how long the action sequences take. I was just getting to the good stuff when I had to set it aside. I’m excited for the book.

That about sums up where I am with current projects. After SILVERADO is done, I’m not sure what I’ll work on next, as far as novels go. But for now, I’m probably set until at least the end of the year.

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve been posting my book ICHABOD in installments, as well as chapters from UTOPIA. Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

How Are You Doing?

“How are you doing?”

It’s a question we’re asked multiple times each day. And each time I’m asked it, my default answer has been to say something kind of self deprecating or unexpected. “Awake.” “Here.” “Ooooookay.” I don’t know how I fell into the habit, but it’s just what kind of developed on its own.

And today, I decided to switch things up. To start answering “good” or “great” or “excellent” to the question. Why? Because I wondered if in all my “awake” answers, I wasn’t subconsciously convincing myself that I was just okay and not great.

Things are going well for me, for the most part. (I always feel the need to add that disclaimer, as if that will ward off anything bad happening as a result of stating publicly things are good.) If I can’t respond “great” to the question “how are you doing?” right now, when can I?

Some of my response might come from having lived in Germany for two years, where they take the question very literally. (Seriously. Never ask a German Oma how she’s doing unless you want detailed descriptions of her health and bowel movements.) But I think there’s some power to be found in positive thinking and positive self-affirmation.

In other words, if I tell people I’m just okay all day, every day, I think it might make me start to believe it. So if I tell people I’m great all day every day, I want to see if the same thing works in reverse.

Will this make my life magically even more awesome? Probably not. But maybe it’ll help me appreciate the good in my life a bit more, and help me be more upbeat.

We shall see . . .

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve been posting my book ICHABOD in installments, as well as chapters from UTOPIA. Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

Got Skis?

Hello local skiers! I am not an avid skier myself. I go a few times a year, and I have a fun time focusing on not falling down, not running into anything, and not getting run into by anyone else. However, my family are ski fanatics. Denisa’s personal goal each year is to go skiing as many times in the season as humanly possible. Last year I think she got something like 342 days in somehow, though it might have been closer to 30. It’s hard to keep track.

In any case, I have been told that each year it’s advisable to wax your skis and sharpen their edges. Waxing (I’m led to believe) is for people who want to go even faster down the hill, no doubt to enable them to slam into me at a higher velocity, thereby increasing their fun quotient somehow. (Am I getting this right?) And skis need sharper edges (clearly) to make sure other skiers can slash out at everyone else on the hill, hopefully hamstringing someone as they speed by on their freshly waxed skis. (Skiing is a lot like Mario Kart, just with less bananas.)

Ski shops charge you a hefty sum of money to wax and sharpen skis. Something in the realm of $50, which leads me to believe they’re doing more than just rubbing candles on the ski bottoms. If you’ve got a family of skiers, $50 a pop adds up really quickly. Soon you’re paying about as much for the ski service as you are for a season lift ticket. (To a small mountain. Not one of them fancy pants resorts.)

Tomas, being the young entrepreneur that he’s always been, is able to recognize a high price when he sees one. He and a friend did a bit of back-of-the-napkin calculation, discovering that the cost of wax and sharpening tools is about as much as it takes to keep a hamster living in luxury for a month. (Which ain’t much. Hamsters have very frugal tastes, even when they’re allowed to run wild.) So they invested in those tools and set up a business to provide waxing and sharpening services to the public at large. It’s name? Wicked Waxers. They’ve even got a Facebook page up and running. They stand ready to get you waxier than an ogre’s ear canal, and sharper than my razor wit.

Which is just to say that if you’re looking to get your skis serviced this season, I know of a place that can do an excellent job for not $40, not $30, but $20 (that’s t-w-e-n-t-y) for the whole package. Although they have limited availability, since they can just do it once a week or so. That’s why they’re starting early this year. If you want your skis wicked shaaahp, then click on over to the Wicked Waxers.

(I tried to negotiate a cut of all their proceeds generated from this ad. They were not amused. I tried to finagle at least a payment for the plug. I was turned down. So I decided to write it anyway out of the goodness of my heart.)

Ski fast! (Just not into me. I’ll be the slow moving, lumbering hulk out there on the mountain, teetering on the edge of my kind of sharp skis, praying that I don’t hit anything in the next few seconds.)

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve been posting my book ICHABOD in installments, as well as chapters from UTOPIA. Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

By the Power of Procrastination!

I’m a big fan of lists. You already know that. Whenever I’m feeling overwhelmed, one of the first things I do is sit down and make a list of every little thing I have to do, no matter how small. A comprehensive list lets me see all my troubles at once so that I have a complete picture. Once that’s set, it’s just a matter of going down the list and crossing things off. (That’s one of the reasons I even put down the easily done tasks like “eat breakfast” or “write my journal.” Once I have that master list, every single item on there appears to have equal weight. They each get one line. So when I cross something off, I feel like I’ve made significant progress. Much of my problems with feeling overwhelmed usually stem from inertia. I get feeling like I’m swamped, and so I do nothing. Start overcoming that inertia, and it all begins moving again.)

Anyway, one thing you begin to see when you make lots of lists from day to day is that there are certain items on those lists that never seem to get crossed off. I’m talking about big, overarching goals. They’re usually the ones on my work list, and they get passed off from day to day. Bitter items that won’t go anywhere until they’re addressed. But sometimes they’re tasks around the house I need to get done, and other times they’re just things I don’t feel like doing right away.

That’s where the lovely principle of procrastination comes in.

I don’t mean simply putting off those tasks until later. Rather, my experience has led me to understand that I like to procrastinate the things I least want to do. And that when I’m procrastinating, almost anything else becomes preferable to whatever that thing is I don’t want to do. I remember on my mission having a conversation with an Elder once who was frustrated. His companion never wanted to go outside and do missionary work. Instead, he’d come up with a whole slew of things they needed to do instead. My favorite that I remember was, “We can’t go outside yet! We haven’t cleaned the oven!”

That story has stuck with me, and it’s given me the key to one of my approaches to getting the few last items off my list. It’s a principle I use in writing, as well. Whenever you want an unlikable character to be more relatable, all you need to do is surround him or her with characters that are even more unlikable. Voila! They seem like little darlings in comparison. (Seriously. Look for this any time you’re watching a movie with a criminal as a protagonist. They do bad things, but as long as there’s a villain who does even worse things, you don’t mind.)

How does this apply to lists? When I want to finally get something done that I’ve been pushing off, I add something worse to my To Do list. Seriously. “Clean the garage.” “Organize the recycling.” There’s always a few chores I’d really never want to do. If I stick those on my list, suddenly the thing I’ve been procrastinating seems far preferable than the new thing.

Inertia overcome.

Of course, this also means I eventually have to clean the garage, but such is my lot in life as a person who sometimes likes to procrastinate . . .

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve been posting my book ICHABOD in installments, as well as chapters from UTOPIA. Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

Crosswords: To Cheat, or Not to Cheat?

I’ve always loved word puzzles. Recently I finally broke down and got a subscription to the New York Times crossword. I really enjoy working through the puzzles each day, from the easy Mondays all the way up to the slog fest of Sunday. But as I’ve talked to some other crossword aficionados, I’ve discovered a fairly wide range in what we all think of as “acceptable crossword behavior.” So I thought I’d widen my net and see what the rest of you think.

Here’s my approach: I refuse to look at the daily crossword blog, as that gives away too many answers. I also refuse to cheat and just look at the answer key, no matter what. My goal is to get a “gold star” on each puzzle, which means you never had to check the puzzle and got all the answers cleanly. However, I also view the crossword as an excellent exercise in Google-fu. I like to research things, and some of the questions require a bit of work to phrase correctly to have Google help you out. (It doesn’t help that there are a slew of crossword puzzle answering services that flood the interwebs with chaff around specific searches.)

So I’ll merrily Google anything I don’t know, but that’s where I draw the line. Others say that’s completely verboten. Perhaps some of it is simply a matter of how long you’ve been doing crosswords?  Maybe if I were even more experienced, I wouldn’t need to Google as much. But I have no idea how I’d get through some of those puzzles on Friday and Saturday without it. I use easily searchable things like actor names and location names to give me signposts for the harder clues.

How about you? Do you do the daily crossword? Where do you draw the line for what you’ll let yourself do and what you won’t?

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve been posting my book ICHABOD in installments, as well as chapters from UTOPIA. Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

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