duskpeterson: An apprentice builds a boat as a man looks on. (Default)
"More than anything else, I think writing is just a lot of fun. It's a great way to revisit that rollicking, playful space where we spent our days in as kids. Back then, making up stories was our chief occupation. Give a seven-year-old a blank piece of paper and a marker, they're good for hours. There are a lot of adventures and people and animals and kingdoms and trucks and battles and princesses in a piece of paper.

"Somewhere around adolescence, though, most of us stop visiting those imaginary worlds. We get self-conscious. We see that other kids are much better writers or artists than we are, so we cede that creative space to them. And they in turn cede it to others who are better still. The blank page stops being an invitation and becomes intimidating.

"But the impulse to create and make and dream is still with us. It doesn't go away. It just waits, patiently, for us to find a way back to it again. For some adults, it happens through art classes or music lessons. For me, it was through NaNoWriMo. However you get back there, it just feels pretty incredible when you arrive."

--Chris Baty.


What I did this week )
duskpeterson: An apprentice builds a boat as a man looks on. (Default)
"There is something in us, as storytellers and as listeners to stories, that demands the redemptive act, that demands that what falls at least be offered the chance to be restored. The reader of today looks for this motion, and rightly so, but what he has forgotten is the cost of it. His sense of evil is diluted or lacking altogether, and so he has forgotten the price of restoration. When he reads a novel, he wants either his sense tormented or his spirits raised. He wants to be transported, instantly, either to mock damnation or a mock innocence."

--Flanner O'Connor (via Advice to Writers).


What I did this week )
duskpeterson: An apprentice builds a boat as a man looks on. (Default)

Inspired by Frugalwoods and desiring some accountability, I've decided to post my monthly budget this year. I'm calling this feature "Life-or-Death Frugality" because that's what it is for me.

Background )Budget )Totals )

Feedback, folks? Do you think my budget is appropriately frugal for my circumstances? (This isn't a rhetorical question; I'd really like to know.) Feel free to share your own budgets if you like.

Next month: We see whether I can stick to my budget.

duskpeterson: Advent wreath (Advent wreath)
"The other advice [for how to be a successful indie author] isn't anywhere near as sexy. It's also the most obvious. Write. And then write some more. You know what's easier than selling 10,000 books? Selling 5,000 copies of two books. And far easier than that is to sell 3,500 copies of three books."

--David Dalglish.


My professional work last month )
My professional goals for 2016 )
A small sample of what my November was like )
duskpeterson: (autumn acorn)
"The thing about reading fanfic (and original slash fic) is that you get used to that particular writing/reading culture after a while. You get used to the frank discussions of sexuality and kink, the close attention to diversity and social justice issues in the text, the unrestrained creativity when it comes to plot. The most amazing, creative, engaging stories I've ever read have almost all been fanfiction, and I think part of that is because there’s no limitations placed on the authors. They’re writing purely out of joy and love for the world and its characters, with no concerns about selling the finished product. The only limit is their imagination.

"Next to that, most mainstream fiction starts tasting like Wonder Bread, you know?"

--Cordelia Kingsbridge.


My professional work last month )
A few factoids about my latest Eternal Dungeon novel, 'Checkmate' )
Posting online fic again! Man, that feels good )
Prop-shopping at antique stores )
My decluttering of books last month )
My web addiction last month )
My family and leisure time last month )
A banner month for good reading )
duskpeterson: An apprentice builds a boat as a man looks on. (Default)
"I write traditional fantasy, which means that I gravitate toward the noble, if flawed, hero. That doesn't mean that I don't like a little grit in my stories; quite the opposite in fact. It's just that if I have characters who are called to make sacrifices, I want to to believe there is something in the world that makes the sacrifice worthwhile, whether that be love or honor or the promise of an afterlife. I'm afraid that is often perceived as naiveté, especially considering the fantasy market's lean toward darker, sometimes nihilistic, themes over the last decade or two.

"Yet, I think even the most cynical among us will admit they look for the meaning in tragedy. When someone dies violently or at a young age, we want to believe that something good can come from the sorrow. We set up scholarship funds in the victim's name. We raise money for charity. We do things that in some way fill the hole in the world left by that loss.

"Similarly, I want to believe that the characters' suffering is for more than just their own vain ambitions or merely to illustrate a grim worldview. I want something that reminds me that deep down, no matter how bad things get, there is a purpose and a meaning to life. Fantasy is an excellent vehicle for showing the resilience of the spirit and the power of selfless love."

--Carla Laureano, as interviewed by Eileen Putnam in the May 2015 issue of Romance Writers Report.


My professional work last month )
On magazine/anthology submissions, wordage, and Camp NaNoWriMo )
My web addiction last month )
My decluttering and homemaking last month )
My family and leisure time last month )
Everest, Baltimore, and related matters )
About our cat )
duskpeterson: An apprentice builds a boat as a man looks on. (Default)
"I am saturated in digital life and I want to return to the actual world again. I’m a human being before I am a writer; and a writer before I am a blogger, and although it’s been a joy and a privilege to have helped pioneer a genuinely new form of writing, I yearn for other, older forms. I want to read again, slowly, carefully. I want to absorb a difficult book and walk around in my own thoughts with it for a while. I want to have an idea and let it slowly take shape, rather than be instantly blogged. I want to write long essays that can answer more deeply and subtly the many questions that the Dish years have presented to me. I want to write a book.

"I want to spend some real time with my parents, while I still have them, with my husband, who is too often a ‘blog-widow’, my sister and brother, my niece and nephews, and rekindle the friendships that I have simply had to let wither because I’m always tied to the blog. And I want to stay healthy. I’ve had increasing health challenges these past few years. They’re not HIV-related; my doctor tells me they’re simply a result of fifteen years of daily, hourly, always-on-deadline stress. These past few weeks were particularly rough – and finally forced me to get real. . . .

"When I write again, it will be for you, I hope – just in a different form. I need to decompress and get healthy for a while; but I won’t disappear as a writer."

--Andrew Sullivan.


I had some big changes in March in how I write stories, so that's what most of this entry is about.


New ways of writing fiction )
Waterman research )
My professional work last month )
My reading last month )
My decluttering and homemaking last month )
My personal life last month )
My web addiction and other health matters last month )
duskpeterson: An apprentice builds a boat as a man looks on. (Default)
"Housewives were the people who put Trick or Treat for UNICEF boxes in millions of small hands. They were, of course, thrifty (thrift is the signal virtue of the housewife), but many of them were also high-minded, convinced that people ought to help one another out. George Harrison may have held a Concert for Bangladesh, but it was the mothers on my block who sat down and wrote little checks—ten dollars, fifteen dollars—to CARE. Many housewives shared a belief in the power of boycotts, which could so easily be conducted while grocery shopping. I remember hearing my mother's half of a long, complicated telephone discussion about whether it would or would not undermine the housewives' beef strike of 1973 if the caller defrosted and cooked meat bought prior to the strike. Tucked into the aforementioned copy of The Settlement Cook Book, along with handwritten recipes for Chocolate Diamonds and Oma's German Cheesecake, is a small card that reads FREEDOM AND JUSTICE FOR J.P. STEVENS WORKERS. The organizers of that long-ago boycott understood two things: first, that if you were going to cripple a supplier of household goods (J.P. Stevens manufactured table linens and hosiery and blankets), you had to enlist housewives; and second, that you stood a better chance of catching their attention if you printed your slogan on the reverse of a card that contained a table of common metric equivalents, a handy, useful reminder that 1 liter = 1 quart and also that the makers of Finesse hosiery exploited their workers."

--Caitlin Flanagan: Housewife Confidential: A tribute to the old-fashioned housewife, and to Erma Bombeck, her champion and guide.


A note to my readers: If you sent me email before April 2014, please resend it. Due to a computer mishap, I've lost all my email between 2008 and April 2014.

If you sent email after April 2014, and I haven't replied to it yet, feel free to resend it. It should be in my inbox, which I'm still plowing through, but there's no reason you should have to wait any longer than you already have.


My professional work this month )
My reading this month )
My decluttering and homemaking this month )
My personal life this month )

I've saved the best news for last:

I stayed mostly offline in February.

Let me repeat that: I STAYED MOSTLY OFFLINE. If you don't understand the full import of that, let me repeat what I wrote in my last journal entry:

o--o--o


It's the web that's the problem. And it was a very serious problem by the time that I pulled the plug in mid-January - against my will; my body went into a state of collapse, and I ended up with the flu.

Before that happened, do you know how long I'd been online? Five days. I got nine hours of sleep during that time.

So I've now officially moved "web usage" from "medical problem" to "medical emergency."

o--o--o


So hurrah, yes, major progress in having an offline life. Which is why I actually have accomplishments to list in this blog entry.
duskpeterson: (winter sled)
"If thoughts are chaos and rush and feeling are chaos and rush, then person will see chaos, hear chaos, spread chaos and call chaos in to them. With music in ears and phones and computers not the time to see. Not the time to feel, or be."

--A Sherpa in Rolf and Ranger's Silver Bullet Everest.


The goals I did and didn't accomplish in 2014 )
My 2015 goals )
duskpeterson: Advent wreath (Advent wreath)
"The fiction writers who earn a living are those who consistently and steadily produce quality stories. Granted, if you're prolific enough, and you're working in a hot market, you can compensate for quality with quantity. That's how you know there is no God."

-- Josh Lanyon: Man, Oh Man! Writing Quality M/M Fiction.

*


My writing desk.


Unpacking marathon )
Going offline and reading slowly )
About those book covers )
Covers and NaNo )
Some things I learned during NaNoWriMo )
Wrapping up NaNo )
Rainbow Awards and Thanksgiving )
Ebook covers; plus, holiday events )
A pause for the headlines )
New cover sales results; plus, Christmas preparations, or lack thereof )
duskpeterson: An apprentice builds a boat as a man looks on. (Default)
"The most dangerous lie we tell ourselves is that writing novels shouldn't feel like a job. It encourages younger and newer writers to work for little or no pay. It convinces those with a book or two under their belt that there's something wrong with them when the writing is no longer fun all the time. Worst of all, when we hit bumps along the road, we're convinced we're the only ones to feel this type of burnout, and that there's something wrong with us because of it.

"One of the most powerful things I ever did for my career, and my continued sanity, was to get to know other writers facing the same challenges. Social networks like Twitter and Facebook, supplemented with the occasional convention, have connected me with incredible people willing to share their own fraught publishing journeys. What stunned me more than anything else is how each of us thought our experiences were entirely unique, when it turned out we shared many of the same fears and frustrations.

"What will keep me writing far longer than I expected is not, necessarily, my passion, my talent, or the romantic story of how stringing together words will help me transcend the mortal plane. No, the deeper I get into the publishing game, the more I realize that what will keep me going when everything crumbles around me is the incredible support, advice, and commiseration I've gotten from other writers."

--Kameron Hurley: Busting Down the Romantic Myth of Writing Fiction, and Mitigating Author Burnout.


Question for you folks: Do any of you buy the doc editions of my ebooks? I'm trying to decide whether they're worth continuing.


Software struggles galore and working out a proper writing schedule )
duskpeterson: An apprentice builds a boat as a man looks on. (Default)
"– The cabin pressure has changed, so let's all place the plastic masks of reality over our noses and mouths and inhale deeply for a moment: It's taken me since December 2012 to have the two crazy fuckers who make up the Legion 'find me.' (Thank you again.) And that's with extensive blogging, blog-hopping (including creating my OWN ill-attended hop which is really the ultimate in candlelit shrines to Self in the basement), interviews, guest posts, reviews by GODDAMNED MOTHERFUCKING Violet Blue (hi Violet), pimping myself all over the goddamned place 'til I am disgusted with myself. All that pimping and I'll still be dead before I have twenty readers. FACT.

"– Wonder if going totally underground (maybe a blog post here and there when the funny mood strikes) and writing stuff I think is funny or smutty or both, in whatever 'genre' (maybe a new one I invent), and then very quietly uploading it all to Amazon and the usual places, but with no pimping anymore, no blog hops, nothing but a single 'Here is a new book and I am very excited to announce this but now back to Wheel of Fortune' post on the blog, just on the day it’s uploaded, would work? Like, that would be it. Workable? Just as 'effective' as what I've been trying all this time?"

--Sheri Savill, whose BDSM parody Bound for Disappointment looks quite worthy of readers, judging from the online sample.


Getting back to work, thank goodness )
duskpeterson: An apprentice builds a boat as a man looks on. (Default)
"I suspect I have spent just about exactly as much time actually writing as the average person my age has spent watching television, and that, as much as anything, may be the real secret here."

--William Gibson, via The Passive Voice.


What I'm doing and trying to do )
duskpeterson: An apprentice builds a boat as a man looks on. (Default)
"Don't act like you have forever. You absolutely, positively do not, and the great lie, the most destructive conceit, is that there's still plenty of road left. No, there isn't. There might be, but there also might not be, and nobody knows for sure. So don't put off till tomorrow what you can do today, and prioritize your shit so you're doing things that matter, like you're only going to be around for a few more hours or days. If you're wrong, nice surprise. If you're right you won't have frittered away what you had left playing some idiotic game or staring at the tube or exchanging vapid pleasantries online. Treat your time as precious and use it wisely."

--Russell Blake: 10 Things I Wish I'd Been Told.


Starting to settle down to normal life, but still busy with move-in stuff )
duskpeterson: An apprentice builds a boat as a man looks on. (Default)
"Simplicity is making the journey of this life with just baggage enough."

--Author Unknown.


(I still haven't reached the point in the post-move period of responding to folks' kind emails and blog comments, so I hope this post will at least assure my correspondents that I'm still alive.)


The move: Awful, awful, awful. But after the move has been great. )
duskpeterson: (bookshelves)
1) The house is sold.

2) I and the co-owner agreed (after three years' discussion) on how to disentangle our tangled financial affairs.

3) Jo/e and I have signed a lease to a loft apartment (*cue video clip of Rent*) in downtown Havre de Grace (*cue image of our new neighbor, Martha Lewis*).

4) I read a lot of original slash to get me through all of the above.

I'll be back again in May, after I've packed and moved 1500 square feet worth of furniture, several hundred LPs, and several thousand books. (*Still reading slash.*)
duskpeterson: An apprentice builds a boat as a man looks on. (Default)
I and the co-owner of my house (with whom I've been negotiating for donkey's ages about the fate of our house, since he moved out) agreed today, after consulting with our lawyers and a real estate agent, that we will put this house on the market, to be sold as-is, in a week's time. (This is the house I've lived in since age eleven, *sniff, sniff*.) Depending on how long it takes for the house to sell, this means I could be moving out by March.

The horrible implications of this decision for my piece of mind this winter )

The good news is that, once I'm moved, I'll be able to devote a lot more of my attention to writing and publishing. Not my entire attention, mind you, because I expect I'll be taking a lot of still-to-be-sorted family papers with me. But I won't have to spend any more time worrying about home maintenance and rental income. (Just income, period. But we won't go into that.)
duskpeterson: An apprentice builds a boat as a man looks on. (Default)
"It's especially easy these days to waste time and feel productive while doing so. Twitter, Facebook, e-mail, and surfing the web feel like writing work to me, but if I spend all day typing Tweets and long letters to friends, I'm not getting any paying work done. Yet I've been writing all day long.

"I have no internet access whatsoever in my office. I won't even allow myself to bring my nifty new iPhone in here because that way lies inefficiency and financial death. . . . Rather than 'discipline' myself to overcome the temptation, I remove the temptation entirely. In order to download my e-mail, I have to go to a different computer, one with an existing e-mail program, and download from there. . . .

"I have a number of writing friends who refuse to remove the internet from their computer. Those friends get very little done."

Kristine Kathryn Rusch: Freelancer's Survival Guide: Time and Discipline.


First, a question for you folks: I posted at the Romance Divas forum about my low e-book sales and got back a bunch of criticisms concerning my covers. (In fact, it was an overwhelming chorus: "We hate your covers! All of them!") So . . . feedback, please? I know I've asked for it before (which is why my covers aren't as bad as they used to be), but you folks know my writings better than anyone, so you're the best people to be offering advice on what type of covers I should be creating.

(Same question concerning blurbs. That topic was raised a couple of times at Romance Divas.)


On Christmas and computers )
New Year's resolutions )

So what resolutions have the rest of you formed for the new year?
duskpeterson: (bookshelves)
A warning for potentially squicky medical details.

Entertaining times in the hospital )
duskpeterson: (autumn acorn)
"Kindness covers all of my political beliefs. No need to spell them out. I believe that if, at the end, according to our abilities, we have done something to make others a little happier, and something to make ourselves a little happier, that is about the best we can do. To make others less happy is a crime. To make ourselves unhappy is where all crime starts. We must try to contribute joy to the world. That is true no matter what our problems, our health, our circumstances. We must try. I didn't always know this and am happy I lived long enough to find it out."

--Roger Ebert: Life Itself, quoted here.


I'm panicking at the moment because I've just received word that my health insurance is under threat from the U.S. federal shutdown - not till November, but I have surgery coming up on the 21st. I really don't want to be without health insurance during a post-surgery period.

Of course, I'm only one of millions who are affected by this shutdown; probably some of you are as well. Darn those politicians. Last night I ran across a 2005 quotation by Washington Post columnist William Raspberry that seems applicable for this situation: "We've come to think that producing winners and losers is the essence not just of politics but also of life. It isn't. Making this country work for everybody is."

I'm also in a panic this week because I have (*checks calendar*) three days in which to entirely declutter the most cluttered room in the house. Saturday a new tenant arrives, and he's going to be in a room that's never been rented before - the room where I've been tossing everything that I needed to sort through. Ouch.

My new writing regime continues to go well. I'm not managing to write every day (I devoted much of September to marketing), but I wrote 21,700 words in September; it's been a year and a half since I wrote over 20,000 words in a month's time. I'm one scene away from finishing a Waterman novella. Not the next one in the series, alas; my Muse has a habit of bouncing around chronologically. But the novella is in the next volume of the series, which is close enough.

Other than that, I've been working on updating my upublished-stories-and-story-summaries folder (the one that my literary executors will put on my website if I should suddenly croak, so that you guys won't be screaming, "No-o-o-o! What happens next?"). And I've been putting a little work into e-books, though that's mostly on hold till after my surgery.

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