Keeping Focused

One of the hard things about writing, aside from all of it, is keeping focused on the current project. When the words (and ideas) are flowing, it's fairly easy to keep on task. After all, the story wants to be told, so it seems natural to tell it.

Until you hit a block--either a lost desire to write or a tricky scene or you're unclear where to go next. That's when temptation strikes.

It might be to not write at all. After all, you have two seasons of Voltron: Legendary Defenders to catch up on (and so much knitting to do). Or you'll suddenly get an idea for another story. And since that's new and exciting, you are raring to go write that one! Trust me, your brain/muse/shoulder-devil says, this story is much more interesting.

This is where focusing comes in. Because as tempting as that shiny new story is, if you run off with it, you'll be leaving the other story behind, likely to never get finished. Sometimes this might be a good thing--maybe you really aren't feeling the story and it's not something you want to finish. That's a decision that needs to be made. But if you want to finish the story, then wandering off with the newest floozy story won't help. 

I speak from experience. See, I have my current contemporary romance all plotted out (sorta) and I know where it needs to go. And I sorta knew how to get there. But there were a few scenes that were about to happen that were....not going to be incredibly exciting. And I didn't want to write them, because I didn't have the heaviest drama pulling me along, and I can't have the guys arguing in every scene. 

Then, while working one day, I got this idea for a steampunk story inspired by The Glass Menagerie. At first I threw the idea on Twitter, because I totally wasn't writing that story.

And then spent the rest of the day thinking about it, plotting it out, checking the original plot of The Glass Menagerie and now I have a fully fleshed-out plot.

The important part of this post, though, is that while I took notes, I didn't start actually writing the story. I said, "Well that's a fun idea, maybe later" and jotted everything down, and put it aside, and the next day I talked with the puppy and worked out the kinked section of my current story, and kept on writing.

Of course, I have a binder full of story ideas that are waiting to be written, so we'll see how that goes. But the important part is that if you keep getting distracted by the next pretty story, you'll have a bunch of unfinished ones littered around you that the world will never see. 

Keep on task! That's the only way to submit to a publisher, finish a knitting project....or complete anything in life, I suppose.


Dogs, Snow, and Marketing

For those of you not following my Twitter and Instagram account: I'm dog-sitting. They are an adorable geriatric corgi and a puppy mini-dachshund (though old enough that he's at his max size). This means there are a lot of little messes to clean up, but thankfully they are tiny! And when they're not BARKING NONSTOP at each other, they're rather sweet (and quiet and also asleep).

Of course, sometimes they are barking nonstop at each other while circling my feet. It's been a bit up and down.

We also got about five inches of snow, which meant shoveling a little so the dogs wouldn't get lost in the snow (or so that they'd go out to do their business). Thankfully these people have moolah and have a service to plow their driveway and clear some of the steps. So the snow wasn't that big of a deal.

In between work, dogs, snow, and watching season one and two of Voltron: Legendary Defenders, I actually was able to write a few thousand words so far this month.

Which really is a miracle, because my writing confidence has taken a pretty serious hit. I'm working hard on the "writing because I love writing" and "write what you love, no matter what" but I still want people to read my books. I know I sometimes write a little off the beaten path--trans college guy with surprise space alien and frog menage, hi!--but my last book was a straightforward M/M romance that was sexy and sweet and a lovely holiday read (if I do say so myself). Now, it came out the week before Christmas and it's only 20,000, but it has 19 ratings on Goodreads. Not even review. 19 ratings.

That's...depressing. So in addition to writing and editing and working full-time, I want to do more marketing. So if you have any tips, feel free to pass them along!


The Price of Art

If you've illegally downloaded movies, or music, or books (or audiobooks), this is for you.**

Now, I'm not generally referring to people under the age of twenty who don't have disposable income, especially if they might be downloading things that their family/town wouldn't approve. Should those young people illegally download things? No, they shouldn't. But I was that age once, and there were things I wanted and couldn't access and I downloaded things (music, as this was before such things as Spotify). It's not right, but it's maybe understandable.

But if you are an adult, and you're illegally downloading music, books (audiobooks), movies, and television shows...SHAME ON YOU.

"But, Alex," you say, "I am also lacking in disposable income. I cannot afford these pretty things!"
To which I reply: bullshit.

1. Yes, I realize some things will not be accessible to some people because of financial reasons. And it's sad, but also: tough shit. My car is a bare-bones vehicle because I couldn't afford something nicer. THAT DOESN'T MEAN IT'S OKAY FOR ME TO GO OUT AND STEAL ONE. We shouldn't treat a concrete object as any less worthwhile than a digital one.

2. There are various outlets that let you enjoy media for free! Spotify for music, Crunchyroll for anime, libraries for books (and audiobooks) and movies. Yes, sometimes that means sitting through ads. That's the price you pay. (I'm not as familiar with sources for television.)

"But, Alex," you whine again, "my library doesn't carry those books."
 a. Maybe it doesn't (I'm in a small town, so my library also only carries so many titles) but most libraries are connected through the county and so you can get books from all over the county! Check it out.
b. If you voice that you want these types of books at your library, there's a chance the librarians will try to get them for you.
3. And if libraries aren't a possible outlet, then ask for money for holidays from your loved ones, or ask for the books directly. This, of course, applies to other media as well. Heck, if you have a big social media following, maybe ask them to help you out sometimes!

4. There's a lot of LEGALLY FREE stuff out there. Search for it. Enjoy that media! Authors put out tons of free shorts you can enjoy. Musicians make things available on Spotify (or listen to the radio...really).

My overall point here is illegally downloading digital media is stealing, and stealing is wrong--not because I say so, but because you're stealing money from the artists who make these things. You can tell me "but it's only five dollars" (to which I will not point out that I could say the same to you). I will reply: Yes, but five dollars stolen by a hundred people is five hundred dollars. That's groceries and rent and gas for that low-end car I bought because I didn't have the money for the fancy one.
Entertainment media is not a necessity for life. There are accessible options that are free. Stop stealing from artists.

**Most of this doesn't discuss movies and mass market American television because I don't watch a lot of it. Mostly because I don't have the funds to pay for all of it (or else to pay for the internet fast enough to handle streaming). I rely on friends, holidays, and house-sitting opportunities to watch various things on Netflix, etc. Just to prove that I'm not all talk.

Also, in case you were wondering: no one thing brought this post on. I'd just seen one too many people, who supposedly love artists, who were advocating for stealing from them.


January Update!

Wow, the first half of the month has flown by! Partly because it's winter and I want to hide in my bed...

But I have still be doing a fairly good job of writing (nerdy biker, mmm) and I finished my first pair of full mittens!

I also did a final read (after some beta comments) of BAW and submitted it *frets*

I'm taking part in a 1920s NYC Vampire: the Masquerade tabletop game.

I'm doing a beta read for someone.

The last week my brain was very buzzy and unable to focus so I ended up watching all of Season 1 of M*A*S*H.

So I've been pretty busy (or at least unable to focus) but nothing particularly interesting. Unless you want to hear about my vampire shooting ghouls in the head (and chest, and biting them...). That was fun :)


Happy New Year!

Normally I do a review of the past year and if I hit my resolutions and all that, but I really don't care this year. Instead, I'm just going to look at the highlights:

I published two novellas: Second Skin and A Christmas for Oscar.

I participated in Nano and hit the 50K goal!

I wrote a 46K novel before Nano started (er, I sort of finished it on the first two days when I should have been Nanoing).

I knitted a twin-size Spider-Man blanket.

I made various doctor appointments, donated to a bunch of charities, got new glasses, and spent lots of time with friends (and family).

I watched Yuri!! on Ice explode across my Twitter and Tumblr.

I came out a little bit more to my family.

I had my first In-N-Out.

I rode, I laughed, I wrote, I lived.

And for the new year?
I want to keep being better at my fitness 'program' and eating habits.
I want to write 10K a month every month.
I'd like to get three things published this year.

And I think that's it for this year.

Let's make 2017 as awesome as it can be.


Solstice 2016

For the solstice, which is the longest night of the year, I like to mention those people that bring light into my life.

My brother (who I feel I mention every year, and it's not just because he reads my blog!). He really is a great support, someone I can talk to, someone I can talk to about writing. We might not always see eye to eye about things, but we're always able to talk about it. Also, he provided me with three amazing niblings (that's niece/nephew+siblings if you're not aware), who are delights. I never want kids, and he's doing an amazing job raising these kids (and taking all the pressure off me :).

All my tabletop RPG groups. That's mainly six people, and even though I should be writing original fiction and not stories for my characters, I really love that we can all get together and be with each other. And be huge nerds with each other.

The horse I rode all summer, Dish, who obviously doesn't read this, and her owner (who also doesn't read this). I'm just grateful for the opportunity to have a horse to ride all summer, while also helping out a friend. Dish is a fantastic beast, and it was nice to be able to ride and not fret too much, but also have a bit of a challenge so I was forced to be engaged in riding rather than my perfect pony who is amazing but not really a challenge (and I might be a bit of a lazy rider on him).

May, who has become my author buddy and is a huge help in giving me feedback (and just being someone who I can talk to about writing and Yuri on Ice...the two most important things in my life right now ;)

My parents are always a light in my life, providing support and love, and when I hear stories from other people and their shitty experiences with parents/family, it makes me eternally grateful that while my parents are human and not perfect, they are good people who have done their best (with my best interests in mind, I think).

And I'm thankful for my two publishers this year, Riptide and Nine Star, who released my two novellas:

That's it for this year (though I undoubtedly forgot someone!). I hope everyone can remember on this short day and dark, long night that there are people in our lives that are there to help guide us from dark times. They may not always shine brightly, but hopefully you will notice them when the dark is deepest and you need them the most.


Release day: A Christmas for Oscar

I'm excited to announce that A Christmas for Oscar is now available for download!

You can find it here:
Nine Star Press
Barnes and Noble
All Romance eBooks

Oscar has never liked the holidays and all the surrounding rigmarole, but that doesn’t stop his best friend from dragging him along for her Black Friday shopping spree. The only perk of the day is that he meets Nathan while he’s there.

With sparkling blue eyes, curly blond hair, and a smile that won’t stop, Nathan is a Christmas elf in the flesh. He even spends his days in a workshop! But Nathan is more than his bright smile, and he may be just the right person for Oscar. Assuming, of course, Oscar doesn’t drive him and his holiday spirit away first.

This story started as a fun little prompt and grew into an exploration of what the holidays mean and how family can affect you even into adulthood. I've been lucky and I've had great family to celebrate the holidays with, but some of my friends haven't been so blessed. Although their experiences weren't Oscar's, this story is dedicated to them, and everyone else who can't enjoy the holidays with family as they're shown on TV and in movies.

Thankfully Oscar finds Nathan, who is everything Oscar isn't. The spark between them is instant and burns hot, but when Christmas comes around, Oscar's attitude threatens to douse the flame between them. Can Nathan save the holidays and rekindle the heat between them? Guess you'll have to read to find out ;)