Progress Report #10: On Writing Like the Wind

I just realized that my last progress report was from December of last year. Whoops! Rectifying this today, so I can keep you apprised of any new announcements coming up.

In Project #9, I talked a lot about the importance of doing research when writing historical era research, and how if you are writing about the past it’s quite possible you’re going to get things wrong. As an addendum to that, I think it’s important to remember that even though writers are very, very smart, because we know how to research and look things up and talk to people, that doesn’t necessarily mean our intentions or our work will be interpreted the same by every reader in a cultural, intellectual, or emotional fashion. This is pretty exciting, in my mind, because it means we can have conversations we couldn’t before and learn from them–provided we’re able and willing to listen. Sometimes, however, that’s a bit of a challenge as there might be constraints as to what the next steps might be, or parameters (especially on bigger named properties like Star Wars or what have you) that writers are bound by. Regardless, I see this as an opportunity rather than a challenge, and though I cannot be perfect (nor do I want to be), I feel this spells nothing but good news for the relationship between writers and readers.

I should also point out that a lot of work listed below is past tense; I’m always open to discussing new opportunities. Thanks! On to my tips for writing like the wind!

To Write Fast, Write Smart

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote 10,500 words in one day, and I “think” my fastest slog was 25,000 in two days back in college. I have written 12 or 13,000 in a day, too, but I’d much rather write 3 to 5k at a steady speed than lose my humanity, hurt my writers, and/or fall into the black hole that is my brain. However, there are some reasons to write fast like…procrastination, zombie projects (e.g. manuscripts you thought died but came back to life and need to be shot in the head. again.), shifting deadlines, life crap (being sick), etc.

Retention-wise, when I write fast I average between 90-95%, and ironically I retain more when I’m sprinting than when I’m not. A couple things to remember, though: I started writing when I was very young and focused on literary fiction through college, so I’m not new to this writing thing. Do I get neurotic or forget to exercise my story brain muscles if I’m too focused on one thing or the other? Ab-so-frigging-lutely. Writing is not a static thing for me, and it never has been. However, I feel that my experiences are important to mention, because sometimes I find folks put a lot of pressure on themselves to soak up all the writing advice they can to poop out great stories and write fast or write perfect when in all actuality? The only solution to figuring out what works and what doesn’t is to keep writing. It’s really the only way to internalize processes that are external to start–and yes, those processes can be forgotten or buried depending upon what your focus is. Something along the lines of… If you want to write novels, then write novels. Don’t write short stories or games and expect to know how to write a novel. Or, more to the point, my favorite acronym ever (K.I.S.S.) is sometimes the best way to proceed. If a thing doesn’t have to be complicated, why make it so?

Anyhoo… In order to write fast, I feel it’s important to take into account what you/I know about your/myself as a writer. I think that some of the self-analytical bits are hugely important, because if you don’t know what your process is or how fast you write in different areas, then it’s really hard to plan word count as a metric. I should point out that I do map a lot of my goals to word count for Day JobTM sorts of things, but haven’t done that for the spec stuff in a while, even though I’m starting to do that now.

Some examples of things I know about my writing speed are:

  • If I have to worldbuild during or after a project, I write slower.
  • I hate wasting time on a draft, only to throw it away.
  • I worry that my bad habit of using filler words (e.g. that) in a draft will make the story uninteresting.
  • Research is my kryptonite, because I love to do it.
  • Writing cold is the hardest thing for me to do.
  • I know that I can write, consistently, somewhere between 3k to 5K per day if I’m writing full-time.
  • Writing a variety of characters/scenes/etc. is slower going than a chapter on “a” topic.
  • Writing a chapter on a single topic bores me to tears.
  • I need to hear the character’s voice in my head before I write them.
  • I write fastest/best when uninterrupted for short periods of time.

So, my solutions to this knowledge help speed up my writing. I think of these things as prep work, and they might include:

  • Elevator pitch – If I don’t know what the story is about, then that is wasted effort. Yes, sometimes I need to write to find the character’s voice, but that’s a different and intentional exercise to solve a separate problem. Even if I don’t have an outline, at bare minimum an elevator pitch or short synopsis will keep the story contained.
  • Word sprints – For this, all I need is a timer and an hour of uninterruptions. Then, I write as fast as I can for that hour, after my prep work is done. I’ve written (at most) 1,300 words this way.
  • Milestones – I use milestone planning when working on larger projects, to set smaller goals. This really helps because if a deadline shifts, I can use word sprints after doing massive amounts of planning (e.g. research, character/dialog sketches/word lists) to get the project done.
  • Write to the beginning – This tip came from John Hornor Jacobs, but it’s a really good one. Instead of writing to the end of a scene, write the first couple of sentences in the next section to mentally prepare yourself for a head start.
  • Revision checklists and filler words – I plan to be wrong or to have errors in my work, and this reduces my anxiety about writing drafts as well. I know I use filler words, so sometimes I have word lists, character names/place names, etc. Sometimes I’ll put words in brackets or use a highlighter; I almost ALWAYS read my work out loud and change the font/spacing, to give me a different perspective on my work.

For me the key to writing fast is to do prep work both before and after, knowing that the in between bit (the actual writing) is the middle of my process–and not the end. Freaking out about the end is what significantly kills my ability to write, so I remove that anxiety by shifting the work and emotional weight to a multi-step process. This both occupies my mind and helps me the more I write a specific kind of project; this is partly why doing anything “new” can freak me out more, so I tend to overcompensate by planning more up front work.

Often, I have to remind myself that I cannot revise a blank page, and I cannot sell the story that hasn’t been written yet. Sometimes, to push through that, writing fast is the only way to get over that anxiety, because then I have a draft to edit and revise–which is more than I had to begin with.

Hope this helps you find your own process. On to the updates!

Games

I’ve got some new updates for you on the games front. Huzzah!

  • World of Darkness: Dark Eras – Wrote the Hunter: the Vigil supplement for this book for 1690s Colonial America. This is now available for fans to purchase.
  • Vampire: The Masquerade: Ghouls & Revenants – Contributed and edited this book. This is now available for fans to purchase.
  • Robert E. Howard’s Conan RPG – This hasn’t been released yet, but my understanding is that it will be shortly.
  • Codex Infernus – The Kickstarter was successful, and it’s now available for fans to purchase.
  • World of Darkness: Dark Eras II – Contributed to the Geist: the Sin-Eaters supplement for the 1580s-90s Roanoke Colony. This hasn’t been released yet, but it will likely be available this Fall.
  • Hunter: The Vigil 2nd Edition – I’m the developer for this, and I’m working on the outline and putting together my team of writers. The submission guidelines are available here.
  • Court of Shadows – I designed a new setting for Shadowrun with Jason Hardy, and contributed several thousand words to this unique supplement. The book will be out this Fall.


Fiction

  • Upside Down: Inverted Tropes in Storytelling – We raised ~24,000 on the Kickstarter and had close to 1,400 backers. We were able to bump the pay rate for our storytellers and add two essayists. The collection is in proofing right now, and I’m working with Jason on delivery and timing.
  • Red Byte – Revisions put on hold.
  • Pratchett on Acid – 25K into the new novel, and it is…creative? Inventive? Heh, heh. Though, I’m going to flip this into a novella, because I think the story will be stronger in that format. I’m having TOO MUCH FUN with worldbuilding.
  • Vampire: The Masquerade Dark Ages Anthology – I’m editing a collection of stories for this setting, and we are now in second draft stage.
  • TBA times three – Wrote three media/tie-in short stories for [redacted], [redacted], and [redacted]. Two of those collections will be debuting this Fall.


Comics

Ugh. Ugh. Ugh.

  • Anthos – Two rejections.
  • Sparkle Mega – Full pitch is still in the works for a short-term series. The pitch window hasn’t re-opened yet, so this got put on hold. Found out the publisher doesn’t pay, though so am confirming this before moving forward.
  • Red Sigma – In addition to pitching, I am going the small press publishing route for a collection. Still in planning stage.


Non-Fiction

Super yay!

  • Worldbuilding Book – Pitches are being sent out. Yay!
  • The Gorramn Shiniest Dictionary in the ‘Verse – This language guide for the Firefly TV show is now available AND it has an entire section for the Chinese (Cantonese and Mandarin) AND an interview with the fabulously talented Jenny Lynn!.

Thus endeth the latest update!

Seeking Publisher Sponsorships for Charity Event



Instead of e-mailing folks personally, I wanted to post this publicly in an effort to gather interest. I am running an event at World Con in Kansas City (Build-a-World) this year, and I am hoping to find publishers willing to chip in a small amount for charity. Because this is for World Con, I would prefer publishers who offer fiction. (Please note as a separate item, that if you are an RPG publisher, I am in an advisory position for the RPG Creator Relief Fund, and they can always use donations.)

The Build-a-World event pits two teams of writers against one another, and I do have some small prizes for them already. However, I was also hoping to give the winning team the option of selecting a charity of their choice, and their “winnings”, which would be donated by a publisher, would go to that organization.

Here’s where the publisher’s involvement would come in:

(1) I’d mention the sponsor during the event
(2) The winning team would identify where those funds would go
(3) I’d communicate with the publisher what charity was chosen
(4) Publisher would handle the money and donate on behalf of the winners (e.g. no money would change hands; publisher would control all of that)

If you’re interested, please let me know. In past years, the amount was small ($50). It may not seem like much, but participants and audience members really do enjoy that little bit extra to make the world a better place.

I haven’t gotten multiple publishers interested before, in part because I didn’t do the leg work of asking, but if we do the process is the same. However, I will do something a little different and splashier if we get multiple folks; there’s room to add some cool bits to share surprises and whatnot.

You can either reach me via my contact page or through monica AT mlvwrites DOT com.

Thanks for listening.

On the Complicated Feelings of Being Professional

Maleficent Queen Avatar

I don’t know how to write this post today, but I’m going to give it my best (uncensored) effort. You see, I recently came to the realization that my coping mechanism for dealing with the bullshit (-gates and puppies and conspiracy theories and what-have-you) was to shut down emotionally. I was bewildered by it, but at the end of the day the only thing I can control is the manuscript in front of me. That was my coping mechanism.

But it’s not always a good one. You see, as an artist in all things I do not believe that my purpose for being (or my work) is static. As I grow, the art does, too. In media/tie-in, I take an established world through the lens of multiple examinations; here’s what you fell in love with, and here’s something new to help you fall in love with it all over again. That “new” bit stems from deeper analysis about what worked and what didn’t, and often this means thinking critically to set aside the emotion, to rip a work apart, see what makes it tick, and put it back together again. I thrive off of critiques as opposed to reviews, and in recent years there’s been a surge in 140 character reactions and reviews based off of back cover copy, which drowns out necessary critical analysis that helps all of us see what we cannot from various perspectives. To improve, then, I either rely on my own observations or by taking a broad statement and seeing how it applies.

Critiques, reviews, and product reviews(1) are not the same thing, and it’s impossible for me to keep up with social media to ferret out the difference between the three. I have, mind you, lurked on public forums and whatnot to read what the general consensus is, but again that passes through a lens of scrutiny and not emotion. What I haven’t realized until very recently is that emotional reaction can be a type of review in some cases, but due to the way we reward extremes–especially online–I typically don’t pay attention to them. This means that I am missing valid judgments, because those emotional extremes are off-putting.

Let me back up for a second and share with you some conventional wisdom. Picture a bell curve. With the production of any work, there’s 10 percent who will love you no matter what, and 10 percent who will hate you no matter what, on both ends of that curve. What I want, is to see what the other eighty percent is thinking and feeling. I mistakenly assumed most of those people have been bullied into silence by both ends of the spectrum; the loud defenders of an author who can do no wrong vs. the vocal naysayers who can’t stand whatever this person does(2).

Here’s what I missed, though: some valuable opinions are being expressed, and they’ve gotten louder because in order to be heard, they need to amplify their voices, too. Otherwise, they get drowned out, and that means creators like myself who want to learn, who are listening and thinking and reading despite the constraints of the projects that I work on… Well, creators like myself suffer the most, I feel. Because all of the shouting blends into one major argument where no one is heard. Add in the fear–one that I very much feel–of death threats and doxxing and calls for being fired for having a differing opinion or a bad cover or what have you(3)… I shut down. I shut down those voices, I turn to something positive instead, and I continue making art and doing the best I can because that is all I can do. And, since I do not create art to prove anybody wrong, this taps into why I make art in the first place. My identity is not wrapped up in “a” release, it is tied to the long years of my life, and my desire to continually learn and grow and improve.

I don’t know what to do about this, because there is another side to this story. Folks on the outside of an argument, who don’t have anything to do with the -gates or puppies or what have you, now believe that an entire industry is toxic as a result. And that, my dear readers, is flatly not true. It’s not. But, this is the state of things today: a few assholes can, do, and have supported the illusion that they have negatively impacted The WorkTM of hundreds, if not thousands, of people. When, in reality, it is not the work that’s been affected, really, it’s the people. I have not talked to a single writer or artist or editor or what-have-you that has stopped making art because of the cultural shifts and toxicity that’s been spreading both online and off. I have, however, heard from several new folks who are avoiding certain industries because of those assholes, though, because they do not have the knowledge, experience, or patience to wade into a battlefield where none are perceived to be welcome(4).

I’ve said it before, but people often go where they feel welcome. And, sometimes this means going offline entirely, or shutting up about the assholes, or avoiding drama altogether. (Or in my case, saying that “YES, YOU ARE WELCOME!” when hiring or inviting people to things.) Sure, these are all coping mechanisms, but I see now that there is something else being lost as a result. There are good people fighting to be heard, to be recognized, to reach creators with their views and they are not quiet. They are loud simply because the volume is turned up on both ends, which means the folks that would normally be in that middle bit of that bell curve are also boosting their volume, too.

I don’t know what to think or do about this, because I feel (the space) is focused on calling out the assholes as “assholes”. Being positive is not rewarded in this era of yellow journalism, but being a bully or a smart-ass (typically male, mind you) most definitely is–and I fear what that is teaching the new generation of artists, what that is bringing out in all of us, and how “being loud” is now a metric. I would much rather eviscerate someone in iambic pentameter than spend energy online engaging in cyber wars, in part because there are many conversations I feel I should not be a part of(5) or I choose to walk away from because of the many time constraints I’m under(6).

Right now, there’s very little emphasis on the complex spectrum of emotions and behaviors that go hand-in-hand with being a healthy human being who happens to be a professional artist or what-have-you, and I have to wonder who will suffer the most in the end. Is it the fans who feel that they need to shout no matter what? Is it we the professionals, who feel it’s simultaneously risky to have strong opinions and expected of us? Is it the new writers who are now more scared than ever to enter into a mine field? Is the folks who have, thus far, remained silent because they feel they cannot speak up for fear of being bullied?

I just don’t know, for I realize that I have been one of those people bullied into silence(7). And I don’t know how to feel about that, either, but I do know and want to express one very important thing: for those of you who are upset, who are expressing yourself now because you feel you have no other option but to be louder than the bullies, I see you. I see you, I feel you, and I will do the best job that I can for you, and I hope together we can return to a place of joy and complex discussions as we take this journey together.

Thanks for listening.

(1) Like Amazon. Please, let us not forget that Amazon reviews are to benefit their customers on their store. Yes, they are a publisher, but they are a retailer first and foremost.

(2) I should mention, too, that it’s impossible for me to know who has actually read the thing folks are talking about in its entirety. If a work has not been published yet, I throw those opinions out because marketing does what marketing does, but if it has? Still challenging to know.

(3) The utter lack of the ability to resolve business-related conflicts in a way that doesn’t hurt or bully one side or the other is a consequence of this.

(4) I am certain there are some artists who have abandoned working in the industry, but if there are people who have given up on it entirely by no longer finding anybody to work with, then I am not aware of those folks.

(5) For example, the discussion about diversity in fiction. Do I believe in it? Yes. Do I feel comfortable being on the front lines talking about it? No, and I would much rather signal boost the many diverse voices of marginalized writers that are already doing that work. To put it bluntly: not every cause is about me, personally, and I recognize that. That is my choice.

(6) This ties back into the old adage that “time is money”. For me, this is true. I have to be very careful about how I spend my time, because if I were to get swept up into talking about books and games all the time, I wouldn’t actually write them. Marketing accounts for a fair bit of my time, but I earn the most value by focusing on writing and producing new stories.

(7) A very, very personal thing.


What I Want from a Social Media Platform

Darth Vader Masked Avatar

I was writing a guest blog post recently about hiring for the gaming industry, and in a moment of panic I thought to myself: “Am I going to get harassed for writing this?” Without realizing it, I had internalized a new reality: being online is no longer fun. And, for some, it’s quite threatening, too. Folks are being harassed, creators are getting death threats, and many are losing their jobs–and not always for the right reasons, either.

Being online has become an obligation for authors, and it’s part of online marketing. This is especially true for authors like myself who, truly need, to remind folks that we exist and we write great stuff. Add limited convention budgets and perhaps you might understand how this window to the world has become integral to our ability to connect with folks. Maybe, you might be interested in our new releases or maybe you might be overjoyed by what we’re working on now. Except, when you’re not. Except, when folks online are preoccupied with politics or a natural disaster or what Kim Kardashian is wearing. In other words, we’re getting lost in the day-to-day mundania, and that is having an adverse impact on us, because what those moments do–whether they happen during a book launch or not–is tell us that we need to be online more, to get a word in edgewise. Or, in other words, the twenty-percent of super users who are online all the time are getting harder to reach, because something else, something louder has caught their interest. And, that some “thing” is usually negative in the era of the call out culture.

It may sound like I’m doom and gloom, and I’m really not trying to be overly negative. The issues that I have with social media are not because of an individual poster. They’re systemic, and it’s because the tools were not built with authors–who require a public profile tied to their true identities–online. Cutting off the objection: “Well, then don’t be online!” Many of my friends, co-workers, and members of my zombie apocalypse support network are online, because these are the people I’ve met at conventions and workshops, on vacations and in former places I’ve lived, in countries I don’t visit too often. I also use social media to connect with them, read the news about what they’re up to, and keep abreast of publishing changes, too. So, “don’t be online” isn’t really an option for me. Less? Yeah, absolutely. But not: “Just don’t use it.” The internet has become a utility, and that means there are things I need it for, and other things I don’t.

This list of wants and needs is based on the premise that I, as a user, have to be myself on the internet. I’m sure I am not the only person who’s required to have a public persona, so these may apply to them, too.

  • Verified Profiles – People who use their true identities online should automatically have a verified profile on social media. Period. This can and should be something you pay for, and I feel this service should come with benefits that include other abilities as outlined below. Bottom line, I think people with public personas should be rewarded for putting themselves out there, not punished for our existence.
  • Pen Names – Those who have their identity verified should be allowed to use pen or alternate names. This gets around the issue of people who do not want to use their legal identity for whatever reason, but it does allow the rest of us to know that the network has verified who is on the other end of the line. This allows (me, anyway) a sense that harassment may result in consequences.
  • Rage-Minder – The list of ways users can be harassed is long and sordid indeed. But, I think there’s words that can be plugged into a filter, that will allow an auto-pop up to come up when someone presses “Publish” to say: “Do you really want to post that?” Creators are now getting death threats, and I bet a friendly “time out” post to remind people that Tweet might get them blocked or result in being removed from their social media would cut down on a lot of the crap.
  • Tie Anonymous Users to IP addresses – Yeah, hackers are going to get around this issue by ghosting their IP. I would venture that the average anonymous user is not a hacker, though. Harassment is becoming an ever-increasing problem, and if we can’t verify? Then perhaps we should tie activity to an IP address, instead. Then, when that account gets shut down, that IP address can’t start up a new one or harass somebody else.
  • Curated Interaction – I want the option to check a box that I’ll only interact with other verified users, or a list of certain users. I want the chance to shut off responses to certain posts or Tweets, and the option of blocking other people from conversations I’m having with one or two folks.
  • Categorization – Having the ability to cross-pollinate with other verified users based on categories attached to our profiles, would greatly increase the chance of networking and community. Not segregation, but segmentation.
  • Identity Protection – Since doxing occurs on social media, it makes sense to me that social media platforms should own up to that fact and either have systems in place to help or offer paid services (via a small annual fee) for identity protection–especially since doxers are also viewing everybody else who’s in our network. I want to be alerted when that happens, because my friends and my family do not need to feel the impact of my being targeted by assholes. I also want the ability to say “Yes, I am concerned about identity protection” to these places who sell our data. (See Opt-Out/Opt-In below.)
  • Auto-Delay/auto-boost – The ability to auto-delay posts if there’s breaking news to a better time when folks are actually able to listen, plus the ability to set auto-boost rules for certain types of announcements for other authors like ourselves (e.g. on new release day)
  • Moderation/Harassment-fighting teams – Systems teams designed to combat and deal with harassment on a system-wide level (not on a user-by-user basis). Forums do it, why can’t social networks?
  • Sub-communities – We need private and public communities, not “set up a list on Twitter” or “ask for this FB group someone set up.” Twitter desperately needs pages moderated by users, that can be public or private. FB needs a better way of doing groups, too, that is more like pages but doesn’t favor ad revenue. Allow folks to pay for visibility, even if in increments–and they will!
  • Conversations/Chat – How many times have I heard: “FB/Twitter is not supposed to be used for conversations.” Really? That’s what many folks are using the tools for. We need the ability to have public and private conversations. Suggest when folks begin exchanging Tweets/messages of 3 or more, that triggers a “Do you want this logged as a conversation?” overlay. From there, the people involved in the conversation can decide if they want to mute their chat from outside listeners, automatically collate it and repost the list (as a conversation) for later. Conversations should also be thought of when someone is answering questions via a Twitter chat, so there’s an authority or an expert handling Q&A from the audience.
  • Tagging – Tag clouds may seem so 2005, but seriously… Tagging is one of the easiest ways to allow users to customize their experience. Folks on Twitter are already using tags, for example, and to a lesser degree FB as well. So why not make it official? Let us put word clouds in our profiles, and block tags/categories of conversations to weed out what we don’t want to listen to.
  • Block All The Way – Uh, on Twitter if someone comments on a blocked user, you’re still seeing it. Unfriending on FB means that person can still comment on your posts. Don’t do half-measures. If we don’t want to see somebody, then remove ’em all the way. Mute? Unfollow? Those work for those tricky political situations when you still need to be “friends” with someone online.
  • Design Parameters for Friending/Unfriending – Allow users to set parameters for friending/de-friending follow/unfollow, etc. on a programmatic basis. Don’t make us use outside tools to sort inactive users or spammers. Right now, this is a chore and a half.
  • Status-Pinned Messages on Profiles – I want the ability to show when I’m off-line for a period of time and when I’ll return. Like on vacation! Or at a con! Or on deadline! But, I want to do this outside of pinned tweets or messages promoting something I’ve done as an artist.
  • Scaling Profiles – People are already looking at our profiles for work-related reasons, so why not allow us to scale those profiles? Let us mark a public profile and a personal profile for the same account, and allow us to have different types of followers/friends for each.
  • Galleries – Allow us to add galleries that are attached to what we do as artists. Per above.
  • Opt-In vs. Opt-Out – I found out when I was reviewing my information, that LinkedIn is a source of information for doxing. Linked. In. Seriously? And why is that, may you ask? Because data is worth $$$, and you have to opt-out and aren’t always notified of changes. I want the ability to tell a network once that my data is not for sale.

I’m sure I’m missing something, and this list is only a portion of what is off the top of my head, but I feel there’s a lot more work to be done on social media platforms. The more people use these tools, the more they should improve in my opinion. And, neither FB nor Twitter is innovating fast enough for the end user. It’s still about managing data on the “big picture” scale or looking at advertisers or thinking about incremental changes for individual users. What I want, is to recognize that different people use the same tools for entirely separate reasons, and we need segmentation to better handle the volume and to increase the value of the user’s experience.


Revisiting Why I Tell Stories

Galactic Starry Space

I’ve been madly catching up now that I’m back from the Launch Pad Workshop and, as far as I’m concerned, all of my fellow graduates are heroes and heroines. Our days were long, and we talked about a lot of things above and beyond astronomy, and by the end my brain was so full I came home and talked with my SO for another four hours before falling face first into bed. It was awesome, and as distance passes I will continue to think fondly of all the wonderful science fiction writers who were there.

I was feeling off a bit, because I had to deal with a few immediate-and-not-so-stellar things right before that and didn’t have time to decompress. (Fun with being an introvert, eh?) Now that those things are (mostly) done and done, it’s allowed me to mull over what I started thinking about earlier this year. It’s a big’un, as they say in Firefly, because it deals with the reason why I want to tell stories.

Why do I? Seems fairly straightforward, doesn’t it? But what I found is that my answer changes depending upon what I’m writing. See, when I’m writing media/tie-in, I feel I’m a vessel, an incubator of new and existing ideas that writes to make fans happy, to make my publisher happy, to make the licensors happy. That level of satisfaction is what I use to gauge whether or not I’m doing my job well, and it’s something that is harder to assess in new relationships until the first release is out.

My original fiction is, and always has been, a different story because it’s affected by a great many things. It’s impacted by my repulsion of internet trolls, which led to me writing a story for Gods, Memes, and Monsters. It’s persuaded by my horror reading about historical atrocities, which led me to design “Queen of Crows”. It’s impacted by pop culture, too, to challenge myself to see if I could come up with a different type of [insert your flavor of big bad here], which is what led to “Tomorrow’s Precious Lambs”. It’s been something I could fit into my schedule, here and there, not knowing if there’ll be readers on the other side, too.

Ergo, most of my career thus far has been pursue opportunities to create spaces where my work is wanted, because I write best when I know someone is anxious to read my work. I’ve always written better when folks are excited, with the caveat that new folks still intimidate me a bit, but the key here is that I don’t write to prove anybody wrong or personal vengeance or any of that. For me, writing is joy, and I want to share that happiness with you.

When I realized that, when I finally remembered that the truly toxic folks are few, I understood why I wanted to write my original stories in the first place: so you, the reader, understands that you are not alone. If the point of fiction is to be able to see yourself in it, my goal as a writer is to ensure that I do that to the best of my ability, to cover all our human complexities and experiences. Knowing this, coupled with a lot of critical analysis of my stories, means I can write more confidently, because I know what I want/need/have to do.

It’s a great feeling.


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