Zombies, Kicks & Giggles

The not-so wise words of Adrienne Lecter

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Day 13 – NaNoWriMo 2017

Required words: 1,666
Target total: 21,667
Actual words: 3,038
Overall words: 35,206

I’m writing this at night as tomorrow morning I’m meeting with a writer friend of mine (still squeeing every time I say this!). If you want to check out her books, she writes urban fantasy / paranormal romance, and her second book is out on Wednesday! Book #1 White, #2 Black! She even got mentioned in the Chicago Tribune because of some really amazing background stuff going on. Hashtag famous people I know. Why I mention this? Well, because I’m having a phenomenal antisocial streak right now and why not share that with semi random people on the internet?

The thing is, when I feel really down, I often hide from the world. I can’t even stand to work from my office because I can’t stand the idea of running into anyone, or not being able to crawl into bed at home. I can take my laptop with me to bed, so might even get some writing done. But no people! What’s happening right now is different. I don’t like to interact with people. So sorry if you’re one of the people I regularly talk to, or are waiting for a comment or email response. I just don’t feel like talking to anyone. Someone at the gym, who I coincidentally spent my last two long training sessions with at the pool, said “bye” when she left the changing room ahead of me today. I barely managed to croak out a reply. It’s really that bad. I try to explain this to people who I regularly interact with but I feel like most don’t get just how bad this can get. I feel good right now. Normal good, not 120% extra good, but I’m def. not depressed at the moment. I write, a lot. So no real apparent cause for turning into a true Viennese, right? Well, with moderate grumpy levels. We can be way worse than this.

Why? Why is my mind behaving like this?

I have two explanations. One is mental (ha!), the other writing related.

Let’s look at the writing related one first. The book will be running long, but I’m in the second half now where a lot of action happens, and I love writing these parts. I really do. I feel like I’m submerged in the creative flow right now. I recently got the question again how much I am like Bree. Right now I often like I AM her. My mind won’t shut up when I step away from the computer. Either I write, or I intensely think through what I will be writing next. It’s a stop-and-go but non-stop, kinda. Yes, that’s also a hypomania thing, but I always get that at the ending of a book. It’s like the story needs to be finished. I couldn’t stop now if I tried. Might still be a week or two until I actually finish, but it’s happening right now. And when my mind is pretty much locked inside a fiction character’s mind, there’s not much outside socializing for Adrienne going on, now, is there?

The other explanation is something that occurred to me as I was walking back from the gym today to get some more writing done before leaving for home. I’ve spent the last months in a bad state, where I pretty much spent entire days loathing myself. For being stupid, for being lazy, for finding excuses, for not even trying, for writing shit stories, for not writing better stories, for not writing in a genre that sells better, for not being happier about my stories–you name it. The darkest side of depression is that a lot of people really dig deep into hating themselves, and they are way harsher than they’d be with anyone else. Guess what that accomplishes? They feel even worse. But I pulled through and now that’s behind me (well, most of it) and I’m much more enthusiastic about what I do and feel good about it. I’ve put myself through the emotional meat grinder, and now I need a little time with myself. You know, to pat myself on the back, forgive myself, hug myself, feel good about feeling better, maybe be a little proud I made it through moderately okay, things like that. I think that time’s really needed, and deserved. Right now there’s no space inside of me for anyone else, or their concerns. So while I would like to be there for others, reach out, connect, catch up… I can’t do that yet. Maybe in a day or two. Maybe next week. When I’m ready, I will be happy to. But not now.

Now, I need to be selfish, and get this fucking book out of my head before Bree is driving me insane!

Day 12 – NaNoWriMo 2017

Required words: 1,666
Target total: 20,000
Actual words: 1,984
Overall words: 32,168

Slow  start for me today as I didn’t get much sleep. Ended up going to bed at 11pm like the good little writer that I am, but then couldn’t sleep. So I read a chapter in Diana Gabaldon’s Voyager, seeing as the show caught up with my re-reading progress from… two years ago? Anyway, reminded me again why I love reading her books (because they are amazing) and why I stopped reading them at the time: because they screw with my writing voice. Not many books do, but I’ve had the same issue with Gale Carriger’s books. Brilliantly written, but maybe because the voices of the books are so different, something in me kind of starts imitating that. You know, you and I, we wouldn’t know each other if I didn’t spend the last 20 years of my life inhaling English language everything, and imitation creates perfection (or at least moderately entertaining genre fiction). Anyway, still couldn’t sleep so I got up at midnight and did an hour of going up and down my living room and kitchen, loud music blasting in my ears, in the dark, this time avoiding kicking either of my cats. It happens. At 1am or so I finally went to bed, and now I’m bleary eyed and only half awake.

Doing some extra plotting was good. Weekend writing went well (4k in 2 days) but not exceptionally well. I was having a bit of a stop-and-go with the conversations, had a change of heart about some details that I’d only recently thought of, so it was more noodling through the words than blasting through the chapters. It happens. Plus weekend, and I cherish the time I spend with my guy (until I go off in his face that I can’t stand his clingy omnipresence anymore, but hopping into the car and driving to the gym helps). He’s about 1/5 done reading the book and keeps telling me what he always tells me: “So far I like it!” Of course I love that he likes it (he insists he really digs my books and doesn’t read them as an obligation), but I think it’s obvious how feedback like that, across 7.2 books, can drive a writer insane.

I also spent 4 hours (I think) playing Skyrim, and then ended up so sick to my stomach that I had to spend an hour in bed. Yes, I get motion sickness from playing video games! And the IMAX 3D logo thingie. Thankfully no issues with the movies, but I needed about 2 weeks to get used to my mac when I got it. Damn you, retina display! Crappy low-resolution displays, like the one I have in my office to plug into my laptop, are so much more easy on the eye. And the stomach. So all that taken together meant I only wrote for two hours, and it draaaagged. But I will finish that scene today, and then… then the fun part begins! Well, the next fun part. This book was already a lot of fun to write in places. This is where you, as the reader, should start getting concerned.

Day 11 – NaNoWriMo 2017

Required words: 1,666
Target total: 18,333
Actual words: 2,018
Overall words: 30,184

So, I usually type these posts on the mornings after the day, but for several reasons, the first half I do on Saturday evening; the rest is Sunday morning. As I write this, I haven’t actually written anything yet, and it’s already 8pm, about time I get some words done. What I have done today, besides catch up on TV, is swimming for two hours. Consecutive, and I wasn’t just paddling around. I really pushed myself, and then just kept on going… listening to podcasts, not some upbeat music that kept me going. That I went to the gym in itself is remarkably, been 4x this week so I really could have stayed home. But after last month’s downtime, I decided that I won’t be using the old “I’d rather work than work out” excuse, because I need to take care of myself first to be able to keep doing what I love. So I swam, for 2 hours, and felt really good about it. Only the second time I ever did this. Later realized that it might not have been the brightest idea when I wash shaking so hard that I almost couldn’t put on my underwear, and still had a 30 min drive home, though the rain, around the woods of Vienna, where a deer running across the street almost smashed into the car in front of me.

Anyway, why am I telling you this, except to brag (just a little bit. To some people I just want to say, hey, I look like a manatee, might as well swim like one, too!)? As I was driving, and musing my way through this blog post to come, I wanted to say something like, doing fine right now, which is awesome. You saw my mind in a bad place a few days ago, this is me doing better, yay! While really, I just wanted to write… so I figured I should add, see, this is “normal” for me, not the start of a hypomanic phase… when I’m so full of energy that I swim for two hours and feel like I could write through the night… yeah. You guessed it. Need a few more days like this but today was def. NOT a normal day! Plus, I feel amazing! Like, really, really good. I’m happy, shit that keeps going on around me doesn’t bother me (compared to my mind sinking into it to the point where it’s an endless cycle of misery and self-loathing. Today I’m like, nah, not going this, moving on, got bigger fish to fry!). I wish I should take a biochemical imprint of my mind from today, label it “preset awesome,” and reload it when I feel myself slipping once more. Because this? This, right now, is just… awesome. I know I overuse that word and it makes me sound way dumber than I am, but I feel awesome. I also feel like the book I’m writing is really good and you all will love it, I don’t care that it might have pacing issues… actually, I don’t think it has pacing issues. Because after how Affliction ended, I’m sure you want to know what happens 2 hours later. And the next day. And a week down the line. So what, I could cut the first 35k or 7 chapters and start the book the way I had intended it to, but really, I was writing those words when I was in my last super productive phase, they flowed, and when I did the first proofread, they didn’t drag. Who complains about an extra 100-140 pages (that are interesting. And awesome!) that you get with the rest of the book, for free? In KU more pages mean more money, so it’s not bad for me, on the contrary. And for the USD 3.99 that the book retails, I feel like you deserve a little extra without having to download the novella from my website. And OMG my mind is DEF. running in more than normal speed, which I feel because after 2 hours of swimming, my fingers are still a little weird and my back muscles def. hurt, so yay! Don’t care. Have fiction to write and people to kill. Soon.

Life is beautiful right now. And amazing. And I’m happy, which after the last weeks I really needed. I’m also happy because the book is progressing well, I’m taking care of myself and even feeding myself well, and we found a good solution for our next summer vacation after not being 100% happy with what we did the last 2 years. Was great, was mostly born out of me going from broke to not-so-broke-anymore, but it’s time for a change. Also slept for 8 hours last night, that was nice, even though I woke up with a killer headache. And while the ghost of my last depressive episode is still very fresh on my mind (and in my Bullet Journal. I even stopped doing a monthly tracker for my exercise because it was so depressing to go that almost completely blank. And my word count was abysmal. Yes, I don’t need to catalogue my mood to know I’ve had a few bad weeks, I can simply look at what has been going on.) After seeing the last dregs of that, welcome to the swing side of the insanity that my brain produces. And why so many people who are bipolar don’t want to take mood stabilizers. Depression is hell. And if that’s all you get, please, go get help, because nobody deserves to suffer like this. But what I’m on right now? I don’t want to lose this. I want to keep holding on to this all the time. In fact, everyone should have some of this, every single day in their amazing lives!! Getting a little concerned about the racing thoughts here, maybe I should lay off the Pepsi max, but I only have 1.5 bottles left so that will have taken care of itself by tomorrow. Very important I told you that, I’m sure your life is so much richer knowing this. Welcome to my brain on hypomania. I’m so glad I’m type 2, because full-blown mania really must be feeling like you’re going insane. I just feel really energetic, like a dog right before a walk, barking, jumping, running circles, ready to be OUT!! Time to get off the blog and into crushing that daily word count (while my guy starts reading the first 17 chapters of said book to let me know if I’m right in that the beginning is good, and this is not just my “I’m large than life awesome!” brain weirdness telling me shit again and making me incapable of judging what I write. Everyone should have an alpha reader like that, particularly if they can’t trust their own judgment half of the time.)

And now for the Sunday part:

(side note: Still feeling good, and didn’t get much sleep yet jumped out of bed at 7am. Seems like I’m all caught up on my sleep backlog.)

Because I’ve been promising it in the past and haven’t delivered it yet, and it came up in the facebook group: A few words about the process of writing a book. Grab some coffee or tea, this is going to be a longer post (writing it while doing some nice Sunday morning TV binging. Hey, I need to watch TV as it’s inspiring. Seriously. I know, best job in the world, right?)

Concept and outline: hours to decades
The very beginning of any story, and the part that’s the least precise. I’ve outlined stories in days, like the short story in the recent anthology. I’ve started writing on an epic fantasy story when I was 13 (up until graduating from high school), and I’m still turning that over and over in my head to one day be able to do it justice. Not sure I will ever get to that. Maybe once my backlist makes enough so I don’t need a release every few months to be able to pay the bills. There’s no rhyme or reason to this part of the process as it just happens in my mind. I’m always plotting one story or another up there. Brushing my teeth, waiting for the train (and often, the consecutive train ride as well), you name it. It’s the part that feels the most natural to me, and what’s impossible to explain, really. I do the most thinking of the recent project that I’m writing, but sometimes, I love to switch it up. Only takes me about an hour or so if I make bigger changes to rearrange an entire book. It happens!

Writing the book: 1-4 months, usually – 35-40%
This is the part you know I do, or I presume that’s the case, but the actual writing part takes up less than 50% of my time, with some light rewrites. That’s pretty much me spewing out words that should form a cohesive story. Transcribing the movie that I’ve built in my head and fine-tuned to the point where I can write it. Plus some additions, minus some points that are redundant. I write in a linear fashion, so if I change something, it usually affects only the parts not yet written.

Proofreading & editing: 25%
I write a moderately clean first draft, with maybe 1-5 things that need changing on each page. Some of the cleanup I do right in my Scrivener file, but I find more issues when I print it out, in 8 pt. font, 1.5 spaced, on paper, and then go over it with colored markers. Never red because that reminds me too much of school, I favor light blues, or recently, orange ink. I also proofread and edit on my iPad. Once the draft is cleaned up, it goes to my editor (two rounds) and beta readers. That part takes about a month. After all those rounds of making changes, I use the text-to-speech tool of my mac to read the entire book to me again. That’s painful, but is awesome for finding homonyms and things the reading mind, even in editing mode, skips over. All in all, I probably go through the text somewhere between six to ten times. That’s not that I’m more or less a pro, have deadlines, trust in my writing, and know what I’m doing. It used to be way worse. My first first novel had four entire drafts and three completely different versions. Now it’s usually one version with only very few variations.
I spend at least 2 weeks just editing, one after the draft is done, and one directly before publications. Least favorite part of the process. I try to do some of it while I’m still writing, just to make that a little more bearable.
Once the audiobook is ready, I need about 2-5 days to listen through it all so I can tell my narrator/producer if there are any changes to be made so I can approve it. Depending on how things are, that means an entire week.

Post-production, layout, stats, accounting: 10%
Books might look like just text, but really, you need to format them. You need a cover, and even if you don’t do that yourself, you spend hours going back and forth with your cover artist. You need to check your stats and track something, at the very least your expenses. All that can eat hours at a time, maybe even days. I’m running a business, I can’t just play all the time. It takes me a few hours to do the ebook formatting, about 3x as much for the paperback. I really like doing that, and usually watch YouTube on the side to keep my brain from powering down.

Marketing, social media, research: 20-25%
I don’t count hanging out with you guys on facebook in the group, or writing these blog posts. That’s my free time. I’m not a heavy marketer, but even so, there are things that need to be done. Even more so, I need to know what works for others, so I spend a substantial time listening to podcasts, reading blogs, and being active in writer forums. The podcasts I now listen to while I swim, so that was six hours this week. Usually it’s around 2-4 (I sometimes hop into the pool without wanting to be bothered by anything). Marketing needs to be tailored to each individual author, series, and book, so even if I get a good idea what someone else did, I still need to test, implement changes, crunch numbers, you name it. I spent over half a year learning how to self-publish before I uploaded my very first book to Amazon, and I still need to put hours into that process each month. You can’t just take a word file, slap on an MS Paint marquee cover, and expect it to sell.

Not giving up: what remains up to 100%
Not much, but sometimes, simply restraining your ambitions and not giving up when something doesn’t work out is work as well.

To sum this all up, I LOVE being a writer. I strongly believe it’s what I’m meant to do. I love this job, but in the end, it IS a job, not just a hobby or something I spend a lot of time with. I work somewhere between 50-70 hours a week, and that’s not counting a lot of extra stuff like reading books on craft, or doing story-related research. That’s kind of part of the writing process. I don’t do all of it every day; there are weeks where I just write, and do minimal other stuff, but accounting, stat tracking, and lining up promos is something I can’t really ignore for long or it will bite me in the ass. I now have systems that work for me, and I try to keep it all afloat so I don’t get bogged down in anything for long that isn’t writing. Like editing. Which I hate, with the vengeance of a thousand hells. But I won’t release a book that’s not the best it can be, and that takes time, so even with all the outside help I now get, I still need to put in those two weeks minimum. I refuse to be one of the writers that hurl out books that are “just good enough,” and accept a 10-20% docking in ratings for all the mistakes that could be avoided with a little more time spent weeding them out. Are there still errors in my books? Yes, and they drive me insane, but there’s no real way to get them all out. Also, I refuse to do lengthier rewrites of already published novels because you’ve read them. You might love exactly the part I’d cull down, and I never want to disappoint you like that. My time is better spent making the next book better than the ones that came before, so that’s what I do. I go back and correct typos if someone tells me about them, and I don’t forget. Which can be an issue sometimes, but I usually correct my master files the day I get a notice, and eventually, that shows up in the published versions as well.

I’m not telling you this to discourage you from becoming a writer yourself. Actually, now is a great time to be a writer, or start being one. A decade ago, all you could do was hope that an agent and publisher would take a chance on you, which always is a years-long process. Now you can teach yourself how to do all the many things you need to do to publish a book, work with freelancers to do the things you cannot do yourself (everyone needs an editor / proofreader. You cannot do a complete self-edit. At the very least, you need someone who tells you if your vision actually works, even if you managed to get the grammar perfect on your own. Which you likely won’t because the brain reads what it knows is there, not what you actually typed) and then release it into the world. All you need then is luck, and the right marketing tools so people will find your book. It doesn’t happen on its own, sadly, although Amazon helps a lot once the algos see that you try to grease them. Then it’s up to the readers to love it, share it, or ignore it. For a single book, all the extra work really isn’t worth it, but right now I have 14 books out there that have vastly different sale numbers but are doing a good job keeping me in business. I definitely plan on adding a shitton more in the next decades. Because this is what I love, and I’m blessed to be able to do it for a living, but it sure isn’t just a passion, or something I do when it strikes my fancy. It may not be a nine-ti-five job, but it requires that I do the work, put in the hours, and get shit done. Some weeks that’s more writing. Some weeks that’s trying to find out how to best position my books on the market and pull in new readers. Some weeks that’s creating brand new worlds in my head. It’s the ideal job for me because it allows me to schedule my own downtimes and work around things that I cannot exactly influence. There’s always something I can do, even if I can’t write. Because writing is only part of what I do, even if it’s the part I love the most. So if you see a writer spending a lot of time on social media, don’t tell them to quit because they should be writing. Chances are, they are hungering for all the human interaction they didn’t get because they just spent ten consecutive hours churning out words. Or they do it while they watch movies for research. Or to make sure their audience is happy and slobbering for the next book. Being a writer is more like a lifestyle than a job, really. Best thing in the world!

Day 10 – NaNoWriMo 2017

Required words: 1,666
Target total: 16,667
Actual words: 1,850
Overall words: 28,166

It was a short writing day, ending up just under 1.5 hours as I had to order that fridge. Yes, the fridge is an important part of this week! Should get here next week so I can now keep my milk almost right next to my desk. #priorities. It will also help with keeping lunch food fresh, which is the real reason I’m getting it, but the “it’s all about the coffee!” excuse fits better to us writerly caffeine addicts.

Day was short because we spent the afternoon and evening at the spa / thermal bath. We had a coupon. You wouldn’t believe how much of my travel and vacation time is justified with “we had a coupon.” For a time, it was the only way to afford things, now it’s become a part of justifying taking time off. Like, “look, it’s so cheap, it would be a crime not to buy the coupon at 50% off!”, and then of course we have to use it, because we can’t let it go to waste. Booking online counts as coupons, right?!

Anyway, I digress. I printed out the last six chapters I’d written but because I snored my way through part of the time I didn’t sweat in the sauna or soak in the hot pool, I only got around five pages proofread. Which is more than I’ve managed in the past. And technically, it wasn’t supposed to be a productive work afternoon. We had planned to go there two weeks ago but with my mind still curled up in itself we postponed the trip, as in the past I’ve seen that if I’m not well, being forced to “relax” for 7-10 hours just makes it even worse, while it’s a prime recharging opportunity when I’m doing okay. I was a bit miffed that I couldn’t finish writing the scene I was smack in the middle off when we had to leave at noon, but I’ll get to that today. No biggie. And I did beat the daily NaNo required words, just wish I could have continued my 5+k streak.

Brief “discussion” topic: How to write a novel – pantser vs. plotter
If you haven’t heard those terms yet, there are two main camps most writers flock into–those that write intricate outlines, sometimes up to 100 pages for a 300 page novel, and those that do no outlining whatsoever and write “by the seat of their pants.”
I’ve for a long time considered myself not a plotter as I don’t write my outlines down. But I’m definitely not a pantser. I need to know where my story is going, and once I know, I fill out as many details as possible in my head before I sit down and write it. So, yeah, I’m a plotter, 99%. But really, it doesn’t matter how you write, only that you write and finish a novel that, to the reader, is a good, cohesive story. I flounder the moment I lose my outline. Most often when I’m blocked and it’s not because my mind is running haywire, it’s because something with the outline is amiss. Often, what looked good in my head, when translated, makes no sense–contradiction, timeline issues, or just plain “Character X would never do that!” moments. While I do outline, I often have fuzzy parts in between the crystal clear scenes, and that’s where it’s easy to get lost.
Or, as happened this very week, as I write, out of nowhere, something happens that wasn’t planned. A three-sentence conversation turns into a chapter-long verbal battle, big reveals jump onto the stage out of nowhere, fixed details become fluid and realign–and it all makes way more sense in the end than I had planned before. Not all, but some of the “oh, this why Y and Z happened” moments in my books were written this way. I didn’t plan them, but of course I know a lot more background information about the world, and what happened off-plot, than I can write. Plus, my subconscious knows 1000x as much. And, sometimes, when I know that at the 80% point of the story this and that will come to the light and I need to foreshadow things now, my subconscious pulls the trigger and either drags up the supposed main plot out into the open, or comes up with something even better. Feel free to guess what turning points in the story surprised me in the past books, and which were planned years in advance.

I love when things like that happen, because usually, they are very important, good scenes that add a lot to the background of the characters and keep the story fresh, but they do tend to drive me insane, because then I need to reshape the path that was almost set in stone already. Writing, however you do it, is always pure creativity. But I’m not someone who relies on spurts of creativity, and sometimes, they really mess with me and the story. Then again, my first draft doesn’t really need editing (as in, add scenes or entire plot lines, cut half of the chapters) but mostly proofreading to make sure details are okay, and those damn typos and misused words are corrected. I know several writers who say their first draft is barely the skeleton of the book, entirely unfit for public consumption, and the real creative work lies in their second and third pass as they add the details and put it all in the right order. I think because I basically transcribe the movie I’ve put together before I write, my process is always linear, and comes with few variations. But that’s only one way to write a novel, and there are thousand other way to do so. Just so you know why I despair when someone tells me that it should all be spontaneous and creative. Nope, not my MO. This is how almost main characters get killed.

Day 9 – NaNoWriMo 2017

Required words: 1,666
Target total: 15,000
Actual words: 5,745
Overall words: 26,316

Only a quick update today as I need to WRITE! And I have a short work day, as some Fridays, and while I might get some more words done in the late evening, I won’t be writing much this afternoon. Printing out the last 5 or 6 chapters to edit them, though, so technically, still working.

Two 5+k days makes a happy writer! See, this is how books are written! Well, by me at least. As I don’t publish six of them a year, you can easily see I can’t keep that speed up all the time, but I’m trying to make the best of it. I think I’ll be blasting right through to the very end of the book, which, depending on how long it will be, will either be a really long one, or maybe two. I don’t know. I hate to split them but at 150k / 600 pages it’s starting to get a liiiittle long fort the paperbacks. By the way, 250 words are one paperback page, if you wonder how we calculate that stuff.

Didn’t do much yesterday except write, swim, and look for a small fridge for my office online. And maybe a microwave. My office space comes with a shared kitchen but I like to be on my own, in my little writer cave here. Office, that something you want to know more about? Fishing for topics for these posts, shamelessly.

Day 8 – NaNoWriMo 2017

Required words: 1,666
Target total: 13,333
Actual words: 7,690
Overall words: 20,571

Booyah! Take that, measly word count! Just kidding, of course I love every single word I can add to my daily tally. And I really don’t want to jinx it. But this is the kind of day I live for. Where, from getting up in the morning to falling asleep at night, I’m in the “zone,” and words just tumble onto the page to form one beautiful, cohesive creative mess. Whenever I sit down to write, I aim for 3,000 words. 5k is where I’m happy. Almost 7.7k, now that’s a really good day!

Writing was easy yesterday, also because of what I was writing. Some scenes are just easier than others. Conflict, action, that usually flows well. Maybe I should explain exactly how I write for that to make a little more sense.

You’ve probably heard me mention that before. The story that you get to read is the transcript of the movie that’s playing in my head. Whenever I have some downtime (commuting, sitting on the toilet, cutting veggies for dinner, but best when I’m walking with loud music blaring in my ears to drown everything else out and let me focus even more on the story and characters) I’m locked inside my head, working on one story or another. Sometimes it’s a completely new part that unfolds as if you’d spill water down a mountain, raw and uncontrolled. Sometimes it’s going over the same scene over and over and over again to fine-tune dialog, work out details, maybe add a bit here or subtract it there to round it out or create extra context that wasn’t there before. I don’t do that to absolutely everything I write–each book still has passages that I do improv-style, where there was only a vague sense before that this or that has to happen to connect the fleshed-out parts. It’s usually the connections between important shit, and where random new ideas just spring up and throw my entire concept under the bus! Love when that happens! It certainly keeps things interesting, and me as the storyteller on my toes. But over 90% of what I write is pre-plotted and chewed-apart many times over before I sit down and write it.

I don’t write in one six-hour long session. Well, sometimes I do, but that has to be a part that’s perfectly plotted, no variation possible, and usually the end of a book when I just need to check boxes and tie it all together. That’s hell on my hands and back. Usually, I try to get some movement in at least every two hours. That’s why working from a coffee shop is great, two hours is about as long as I can sit, sip a coffee, and write before I need to get up and find the restroom. Might as well pack up and walk to the next location, preferably at least five songs and 30 mins away. Sometimes I end up walking for over an hour as well. When I’m at home or in my office, I tend to walk up and down, which ends with kicked cats at night and snagged headphone cables on kitchen counters. Oh, the sacrifices I have to make for my work!

There’s just one thing I can’t, and that is plot while I exercise. One might think that swimming lanes for over an hour would be perfect to get lost in one’s mind, but alas, no. It works for blog posts (and other rants inside my head that never make it out of there) but not for fiction. That’s why I got myself a waterproof MP3 player and now listen to podcasts, because ranting for an hour while I should physically focus on either ramping up speed and making all those muscles work, or relax and stretch them out as I go through the motions, not soooo healthy for the mind.

Writing almost 7.7k words in a day means I’m working the entire day, with breaks, of course. I love doing that, but of course, that’s not always possible. No appointments, no distractions, often not even phone calls or answering emails. Those are pretty much my urban hermit days that I happily spend inside my head, letting some of those images translate into words. It feels amazing to be so productive and creative. Like, this is what I’m meant to do, 24/7. This is what my perfect life would look like if I could sustain it for more than a few days at a time, if even that. And just consider how many books I could publish if I’d only need 15 or so back-to-back to finish a book! Add a perfect quick week of editing and post-production each, and I’d be a happy camper.

Because of the way my mind works, I’ve considered dictation in the past. It’s all the rage now, and some old pro writers have been doing it for decades. Might try it again, but saying “comma,” and “full stop. New paragraph. Open quite. Fuck yourself. Exclamation mark. Close quote,” does throw a wrench into that flow of creativity that I need to be in when I write like that. Maybe I should just try it without punctuation, and add that after the app transcribes my slew of consciousness. But I’ve been writing the same way for years, fine-tuning the process to the point where now I have no idea what a normal human being does with all the downtime in their mind. Because I always write one story or another up there, and I’d go insane if I tried to stop. Which will never happen.

Fun fact: I sometimes talk to my characters in my head, or let them talk with each other. Let me tell you, Nate commenting on romance novels I read makes it a very different experience than the author likely had in mind for the readers. Might also be the reason why I still read romance sometimes. I love me some good satire.

Day 7 – NaNoWriMo 2017

Required words: 1,666
Target total: 11,667
Actual words: 1,700
Overall words: 12,881

This one’s going to be brief, because I need to writewriteWRITE!!

Lots of errands yesterday, that’s why only 1.7k although I was motivated. Dentist appointment, admin stuff, lunch, swimming, and going on the fruitless hunt for a new lamp for my office turned out to take a LOT of time. I have the ideal lamp at home, from IKEA no less, but they sneakily discontinued it (actually, I never saw it before or after picking it up, it was a real stroke of luck to find it when I needed it). Ended up ordering one from amazon because what I found elsewhere was either absolutely hideous, too expensive, or both. I’ve only recently realized I need an extra lamp as I got the office in April where during my usual office hours it was light outside, but now that it’s doom and gloom pretty much always except when it’s really sunny or 11am – 3pm, I need some extra illumination. Right now, I have the choice of semi-gloom (desk-lamp + my reading lamp from over by my comfy EKTORP reading chair) or operation room (6 really bright but slightly flickering overhead lights). Neither is conducive to me still having any eyesight left at the end of the day. Fun fact: I type blindly (enough practice on a keyboard that I’ve been using for 5+ years now. Well, the 3rd of the same model now, and I have it at home and at my mom’s as well, plus two I’ve destroyed in the past, no liquids involved.), and I don’t really look at the screen, which I realize when I have to spend the day actually focusing on something, like when I edit, and end up with tearing eyes and a monster of a headache.

Most of yesterday’s writing I did from 10-11pm, again. I was at 704 words when we went for the hunt of the illusive lamp, and I couldn’t let that be the end of the day. So I wrote another 1000 words before heading to bed. I’m sleeping a LOT right now, which is a good thing, and today I woke up with the NEED to wrote. Not just wanting to, but having to. So I’m ending this now so I can add a few details I forgot last night, and then work on getting some actual word count racked up, not these measly numbers that you’ve been seeing so far. Those would be awesome if I didn’t need to finish the book like yesterday, and amazing if I could keep them up each and every day, but I usually write in leaps and bounds, and I think I’m about to take off for one of those. Tomorrow will tell if I get to eat those words.

Day 6 – NaNoWriMo 2017

Required words: 1,666
Target total: 10,000
Actual words: 2,386
Overall words: 11,181

Late, short post this morning as I was able to avoid the next phase of the Dental Apocalypse, but that appointment cost me almost the entire morning writing session. Love my dentist, but in the last years I’ve been putting his kids through college. Except that we don’t have tuition fees on most universities in Austria. But you get the meaning. Still have the routine cleaning and a periodontitis preventative whateveritscalled ahead but should come back negative. If there’s one thing about my health that I’ve gotten super paranoid, it’s my teeth. I’m sure that you would have never guessed that, considering the last book I’ve published.

Writing went okay, but I was too tired in the evening to do more than 400 words. Apparently, my “easy” swim was more of a workout than it felt like because I’m sore in my ass, thighs, shoulder, and surprisingly, feet today. Yay! Got some good quality sleep in, too, which is a sure sign that my mind’s normalizing. Don’t want to jinx it, and I’m not yet at 100% “normal” but the frustration and anger has leveled out. I did not (internally) go off at someone leaving the window open in the gym changing room which felt fantastic, coming from the pool after 67 minutes of swimming to exhaustion, in a wet swimsuit! Or that the fries with my burger were cold (but oh so delicious!) or that we had to wait 15 mins in a traffic jam right around our home (where usually, there’s no traffic whatsoever after 6pm) because of road work in progress. Nor assholes cutting me off on the way to the dentist. The road rage is strong in me! The seasonal component of my depression is gone completely, too, I’m happy for all the yellow leaves, like those right outside my office! I’m a strong believer in writing to work through my issues, and that blog post yesterday did a lot to shove my mind in the right direction (that it was on already or it would have been useless, but hey, I’ll take every little bit that I can!)

Oh, and I’m about to write me some deliciously gruesome stuff today, so that’s something to look forward to! Provided I don’t drown because of my sore muscles.

Day 5 – NaNoWriMo 2017

Required words: 1,666
Target total: 8,333
Actual words: 1,357
Overall words: 8,795

Writing this on Monday morning so please excuse my lack of enthusiasm. Monday started well (for a Monday) but when the second thing you see is that people who don’t know you talk trash about you where you can’t defend yourself, that’s kind of a bummer. First thing was the news about Sutherland Springs, and that sure puts everything else into perspective. I generally don’t comment on things that go on over there because as a non-US citizen I feel like maybe I would do good not to place judgment on things that don’t directly concern me, but of course my heart is with the people affected. Quite the way to start the week.

So, yesterday. Right now I feel like an old diesel engine that’s not quite starting. I was super motivated (and for once not sleep deprived) in the morning when I was typing the blog post, then enjoyed a great breakfast and some nice TV–Sunday is Outlander time! Still can’t believe I got my guy hooked on the show as well, but might be that he’s hooked on my constant commentary. Loved the books, and love the show! and caught up on Supernatural and Scandal. And then… down, down, down my mood and motivation went, until I was a tightly coiled bundle of misery, frustration, and general “meh.” First, I wanted to go swimming to try to get rid of it (because that worked so well on Friday), but didn’t make it out of the house. Then I had the idea to head out for a walk, but my phone had died because I hadn’t charged it up and I need white noise music when I walk and plot. To explain, I needed something to go over the next few scenes in the book so I could write it. Next, I tried to play some Diablo 3 on the PS4, but the season had ended and I felt terribly demotivated to keep working on my Necromancer, so meh again. Plus, D3 kills my fingers, and they are acting up right now (thanks carpal tunnel syndrome!) anyway so no D3 for me. Does that sound drab and frustrating to you yet? Hell yeah it was.

I ended up playing Skyrim for an hour (okay, two hours) which was surprisingly easy on my hands, but a bit upsetting on my stomach. Fun fact (I know, I have so many of those!): I played Skyrim for 5 days straight once until I not only saw it in my sleep but now get queasy very easily when I play it again! Yay me!

I hate being such a Debbie Downer at the moment but that’s my life right now! It got better when I got the keyboard again at 11pm and wrote those 1,357 words. Very fitting, Bree wasn’t in the best mood, either. But since the end of book #7 she hasn’t really had much reason to be super chipper. And if you’re thinking I project my own meh at my characters, it’s usually the other way round.

Let’s talk a bit about empathy, shall we? Because that’s kind of connected to being bipolar, maybe, or not. You ask me, I’m not a psychologist, and I still believe I know better what is going on inside my head than someone who has to rely on my frustrated, stunted explanations, so bear with me. So, last week I already said I have bipolar type 2. I should maybe explain, because a lot of this I’ve only found out myself in the past year, and I’ve always been very interested in mental health issues (and serial killers), not just because some of it might affect me. BTW, don’t care at all for “suffering from.” I’m not suffering. I mean, yeah, sometimes I am, but I feel like the suffering is worse with chocolate cravings. You probably know bipolar as “manic depressive,” the old moniker. There are several kinds, and atypical cases as well (yay!) but I’m 99% sure I’m type 2. Type 1 is the classic up-and-down of mania and depression. Mania might sound fun but it really isn’t. I can’t say myself, I’ve never had a manic episode. I THOUGHT once I had had one but turns out, as type 2 I only have hypomanic episodes that are elevated states, but not going-nuts-overdrive elevated. I was close once, and I often feel like I’m borderline insane, so please, allow me the insensitive remarks. Type 2 in most people (and me) is usually prolonged major depressive phases with interspersed hypomanic episodes. But hey, you can have manic episodes inside depressive phases, did you know that? Sounds fun, doesn’t it?

For the longest time, I thought I had depression. Which is technically true, but it’s not the end of it for me. Also, I love statements like, “depression can, sometimes, be cured, but bipolar is a chronic illness that you’re stuck with for life.” Because it’s caused by weird brain chemistry, and while you can screw with that using medication, you can’t make it go away completely. Thumbs up for life sentences!

I’m not sure I’d want to be cured if that was possible. Like many people who are bipolar 2, I love my hypomanic episodes. During the first one that I can actually pinpoint, I wrote Outbreak, GF#2! Over 117k words in a month, including ending book #1 and starting book #3. I’ve never had a month like that. It was amazing! The second phase I had this summer, roughly between end of June to early August. Wrote not as much but quite a lot. It was nice. I felt really good! I want that to happen again! Creative brain on 150% is fun. And weird, but I like weird. I define myself with “weird.” Who needs normal when you can be weird?

Last time I only slowed down, afterwards. This time I felt myself crashing, and September and October have been… let’s call it a struggle, but that sounds too active, as I didn’t have the energy to put up a fight. Lots of things all came together, and it’s never easy to find reasons when there really are none. Many writers crash when they finish a book / publish it as they put so much effort into it that they end up a little “empty” once it’s out in the world. That happened. Had some unforeseen issues with other people, and because I can no longer claim that I’m not Nate, you can guess how that went down. Fun fact, when we were watching Mindhunter and Dr. Carr was explaining how the serial killers often justified their drive and needs, I felt like I could relate… a lot. It’s moments like this that make you feel really comfortable in your skin.

Anyway, back on target. Just like in August, even before Affliction hit the shelves, I felt myself crashing, sloooowly but surely, I’ve felt my mood pick up for the past two weeks or so. One would expect that to be a soft, slow curve, but no. It’s more like a series of false starts, hence the engine metaphor. I’m good for a few hours, and then I’m not. Like everyone else, of course triggers also work with me. Give me chocolate and I will be happy! Tell me someone is talking shit about me, and I’m down! But my mood in general, overall, isn’t dependent on anything, and that’s what drives me mad. Maybe literally. Bipolar people do get hospitalized sometimes. I hate inconsistency. I’m an inconsistent writer. Yay! But today is Monday, and I woke up being glad that it was Monday, because weekdays mean routine, and if there’s one thing that helps me get my mind straight, it’s routine.

6am: get up. Just kidding.

7am: get up. Have breakfast. Or not. I hate showering in the mornings so I try to avoid it like the plague. One more reason to hit the gym in the afternoon and wash my hair after it gets dunked in chlorine: no need to shower 16 hours later.

8am: leave the house, or if I work from home, hit the computer for some YouTube R&R.

9am: Office time! Or work time when I’m working from home or a coffee shop.

11:30-12:30: Somewhere in there’s a 30 mins lunch break.

2pm: Hit the gym! Swimming mostly right now but I love lifting weights, too.

4:30pm: Drive back home!

7pm-ish: When motivated, hit the keyboard again. Might run as late as 2am, because who needs sleep?

6am, after crawling into bed at 2am: I hate the world! Unless I’m in a hypomanic episode, because then, four hours of sleep are fine, so let’s conquer the world!!

Or something like that. Technically, it makes no sense for me to have a schedule as I’m a self-employed full-time writer and except for meetings and doctor’s appointments I don’t even need to keep daylight hours. I sometimes don’t. But routine really helps my mind when it’s not doing well. Blocks of time in particular. It’s agonizing to spend 8 consecutive hours not doing anything productive. It might sound fun to you if you’re blessed with a healthy mind but work a job that drags often, but not so much when you, technically, could do whatever you want… except that you can’t. That’s why I love my 3-part writing day, mornings, afternoons, and evenings. There’s a good chance that at least in one of those blocks I actually do write. Right now that’s evenings. In my day, I have about 12-14 hours of potential writing time. On those days where I write more than 10k words (that’s 40+ pages, so you can relate) I use up most of that time. Of course it’s frustrating when I only manage 500 words, considering how much time was “wasted,” but eh, I’ll take the 500 if that’s all I get! 2 more pages than I had the day before.

I’m sorry that this is so over the place and disorganized, but THIS is how my brain is when it’s not at 120%. Or a 100%. Right now I feel like I’m clocking in at 80-90%. That’s enough for writing. I live and breathe the story that’s in my head, don’t need that much brain power to transcribe it. Which is awesome, or else I couldn’t hack it as a writer. Surprisingly, that shuts down my inner critic (In writing, not when I can’t write) so it’s often the better parts of a book, pure creative voice. But focusing is hard sometimes. Human interaction harder still, even more so when you can never forget to pretend like you’re a fully functioning human being when really, you don’t feel like one at the moment.

So empathy, right! Forgot about that. One of the newest tidbits of information about being bipolar is that many are really strong empathizers. Like, feeling physical discomfort because someone else is miserable kind of strong. I immediately discounted that because, let’s face it, your girl here isn’t really empathetic…

Except that maybe I am. I’m shitty at showing empathy, that’s true. But my parents’ divorce and how my mom was incapable of handling the emotional side of it at first sent me into years of… I’m not even sure I can describe that as depression, because what I felt for the past two months doesn’t hold a candle to that. I certainly came out as a different person at the other end, when I managed to claw my way back out of that hole. Minus a lot of friends, or people I thought were friends but clearly weren’t, because where were they when I was barely more than a husk of my former self? Having their own issues of course, issues I can’t empathize with. Cat chasing its tail, you see?

Fun fact: It’s amazing when people tell you that you can come talk to them when you need help. Guess what you can’t do when you’re down? Reach out! Nobody’s to blame.

I do feel strong emotions, often. Books and movies do that to me. For instance, I can’t stand nice, happy endings, particularly in romance (that’s why I usually read the soul crushing, dark romance, that maybe 2% of writers can pull off. Not the everything is fine, just a hitch in the road, now it’s even better kind. That I cannot stand. Or relate to.) I like tragic endings and turns. Maybe because that causes emotions inside of me that I can relate to better. I don’t know. The older I get, the more I bawl at emotional endings. Service dog sitting at his marine handler’s grave? Floodgates. But that NCIS episode even got Gibbs teary-eyed, I feel no shame. But I have been thinking over the past few days, and I realized that yes, I easily feel physically ill in connection to emotions, and not my own, so I seem to be empathizing.

It’s a journey. And sometimes not one I’m happy to be on, but hey, it’s my life, and I kind of am determined to make the best of it. Like write these stories that I’m so damn proud of, and meet people who read them and really dig them. That’s amazing. That also helps with the bad days. Not immediately, but I’ve learned to go by averages and over-alls, because that counts in the end. I’m kind of tempted to delete this endless ramble here, but hey, maybe you understand better now why, sometimes, I just seem weird, and sometimes, I’m really not in a good place. Swimming helps, even if maybe not at the moment. I don’t think it’s because of the endorphin / dopamine high that exercise causes, but because it’s calm, and constant, whether I listen to podcasts or just my own breathing and splashing. Kind of like an hour of physical white noise to normalize it all. To center myself. To not care about all the bullshit that doesn’t need to concern me. What do I care if someone foul-mouths me or my books? Peanuts. Less so, because I actually like peanut butter. Insignificant piece of gravel. Even if it’s an entire heap, it doesn’t need to land on and bury me. I have bigger fish to fry. Like a damn amazing last 1/3 of a book that I’m maybe 10 pages away from starting into. And a next book that has Bree firing on all cylinders from start to finish. And an idea for the one after that starts with so much wonderful annoyance (that’s unavoidable) to just make me cackle with manic glee. And three more new series I need to set up, write, and publish. And so, so, so much more after that.

In a way, I feel like that new, changed person I was talking about before has so, so much to live for that happier, old me never did. I am actually glad for the shit my mind has put me through, and still is, because it irregularly balls up my entire life like a piece of paper, and when I flatten that out again, it has changes into something new, exciting, interesting. Sure, the crunching part is painful, and the being-balled-up stage is hell, but it passes, and once it’s over, I can breathe freely again, and the air has never been sweeter. I don’t need to conquer my demons. I just have to hang in there, pull through, and everything is right with the world again. Someone left me a wonderful comment here last week, saying that she believed that the reason why I’m capable of writing what I write is because my brain is wired as it is, which might just give me a certain edge. Maybe that’s true. I prefer to think of myself as a literary genius instead. Just kidding. Or am I? Hm. Please read that last part in Ryan Reynolds as Wade Wilson voice, please. Gosh, I love Deadpool.

If you need a takeaway message from this, it’s this: don’t judge me, or anyone else, on one single happenstance. That’s not (all) I am. Don’t pity me, please, but do continue to buy my books! I’m not lying when I say that I am a very complicated woman. I herd three people in my head: the good, the bad, and the writer. It’s the composite that matters. Or just the books that I put out. I’m okay with that as well. But yes, I am a sum of all my parts, and that’s not always pretty. I care about the bullshit, even if I don’t want to, because the bad part of me thrives on that and loves to endlessly display to me, over and over, and over again, because where would be the fun in not dragging myself down? The good is an eternal optimist that sees the best in people, and while often disappointed, she usually shrugs it all off within minutes. She’s the daredevil that made me believe in myself so I could start publishing. She’s the one who rolls her eyes at stupid haters and only has one answer for them: Who cares? And then there’s the writer who tries very hard to make a living while those two yahoos constantly fight over who gets to drive the clown car. Really. Move over. I have a book a write so people can tell me how awesome I am again!

I probably shouldn’t post this, but I’m going to do it anyway, because I think that all of us have our moments where we can’t handle shit. Maybe, knowing that you’re not alone helps. I don’t know. I also spent 1.5 hrs typing this so, yeah. Read it! Feel free to comment. Or just write me a private message if you prefer that. I have 14 hours a day that I cannot completely fill with productive writing, anyway, so I’m happy to give you a few minutes, always.

Day 4 – NaNoWriMo 2017

Required words: 1,666
Target total: 6,667
Actual words: 3,541
Overall words: 7,438

Ahead of the curve, booyah! And all was right with the world again.

Had kind of a mixed day, but got some good writing done in the evening. I love writing at night when everything is quiet. I finish most of my books at night, not just because I can’t stop, or am writing an average of +7k words at those times, but because there are no distractions, and when I’m in the zone, things keep happening. Like that my cat gives up at 2am to send me to bed, and ends up leaving me a (later) icy cold, stinking present in there that not only requires me to wash the duvet, but also clean the mattress and consequently have no place to crash when sleep finally becomes mandatory. Good times! Happened with the release of Unity, no kidding.

Made French toast myself for the first time, after recently discovering it at a local restaurant. No, we don’t usually have that here, but we of course have a lot of similar dishes. Made it with real Canadian maple syrup that my dad got me when he was on vacation over there. I think I’ll have to send him over the ocean again soon. Or amazon. I think the big A will do for now.

Finally finished writing that conversation, ending with some of the usual Bree hamster wheel introspective paranoia. That I was at first hesitant to write because I recently made the mistakes to read that single one four-star review where someone complained about too much introspective rambling. See, this is why I don’t read (a lot of) reviews, even when they’re good, they tend to screw with my head. I love them, and take great pride in watching their numbers grow. Particularly the bad one-star reviews are always good for a laugh–I mean, really? You got the book for free, read two pages, took a snap judgement because of that, and now you’re so offended by that perceived version of the book that you feel like crapping yourself all over the review page? Because, gasp! How dare a woman writer write something realistic that might contain sex! GASP! Has to be romance, and needs to be burned at the stake. I’m so sad that you never got to read on to book #5 and the parts where someone once said, “Liked it, but didn’t care much for the almost zombie rape.” (I’m paraphrasing here, should have taken a screenshot!). Well, I think neither the zombie nor human involved in that did care much for it, either. Can I let you in on a secret? That very first chapter of GF#1: Incubation, that zap-a-year-into-the-future mall panty raid? I put that up there deliberately for two reasons. Well, three, really:

1: I have almost no zombies in that book, while the rest of the series is teeming with them. By now you know WHY we needed that first book and all the action and non-action that happens in it: because it’s the very backbone of the plot. Of course that limits the scope of what happens massively with just a single POV the story is told from, but it’s easy to fill in the gaps bit by bit later… if you dare read on and don’t make snap judgments about the writer’s inability to build her world (yup, that was a three-star). You could say… it’s deliberate! But really, it wasn’t. It was the consequence of writing a different book and then deciding to watch the world burn, so I missed out on A LOT of the initial outbreak. Never really bothered me as I was much more interested in exploring the consequences of what the remaining humans did. Plus it makes for great, dramatic “what happened on that bridge!” references from all sides. Ah, good times…

2: I know that some people are allergic to sex, and while the books aren’t romance (for that, the plot would have to revolve about the central couple becoming a couple, and you could easily cut Nate out of the entire series and it would be just as strong. Just have the Ice Queen kick Bree’s ass into learning to take care of herself, and use the rest of the cast for the bickering and comedic relief), I always knew I wanted to have some R-rated stuff in there. You know, the gore, the violence… still bothers me that American ratings are more dependent on the level of heat and language than overall sense of the movie. Also the reason why you got that single explicit sex scene in the first book. I figured, if people can handle that, I’m good. Why make them abandon a series they’ve invested hours and money in if I can sort them within a few pages or the first book? Best for everyone if we part ways early if that’s not your thing.

3: That one is more of an afterthought but still true: Some people are (reportedly) triggered by strong female characters, and while Bree has her moments in the very first book, it takes her a lot longer to grow into the size shoes she’s stomping around in now. For that also the intro chapter is a promise. This is what it’s all about, this is what you will eventually get to read. Love it? Awesome! Not so much? That and the very first chapter are both inside the 10% reading sample you get for free, always, from amazon, and the Intro’s also posted on my website. There’s no excuse! Or so I thought until yesterday (see above). Oh well.

As you can likely tell from the levity that’s in my tone (I hope? Does that translate? Oh noes! I’m 75% happy at the moment, the idea of either more French toast or ham and eggs in my very foreseeable future is raising that to 100%!) I’m having a good time right now. Writing 3.5k last night helped a lot to make me feel like a legit writer again, even if it’s still on the short side of what I’d like to accomplish this month, or any month, really. I’ve also decided to embark on a side project once I’m done with the book and some of the short stories. Maybe in tandem with the short stories, not sure yet. Let’s face it: I’m never going to write much sex under this penname. I like leading up to it, and I sure as hell will defend my stance that, realistically, it will still be happening in the apocalypse! Come on, people, that’s life. But I can understand readers not necessarily wanting to read it, at length, in minute detail (way to kill that innuendo, eh?), and after over 2 years and almost 8 books I’m happy to say, yeah, don’t really need to write it in these stories beyond the lead-up. But I’ve crunched my numbers last night (aka looked at my Amazon KDP dashboard and changed the view to my romance alter ego only) and realized that my old work still makes enough each year to pay for a vacation, with a single promo all year and unattended since I published the last one between GF#3 and GF#4 in February 2016. That’s more than a lot of Indie authors make, while promoting the shit out of their work (fun fact: I don’t believe that beyond a certain, rather limited point promo really helps. As in, spamming FB groups with your links and attending parties and shit. Amazon, or whatever other platform you publish on, makes up for 90% of what will happen to your numbers. Goose that with targeted promos like advertising in newsletters and doing some stuff that’s focused, like a blog tour or event where many authors pitch together to generate some buzz, but that’s it. 10% of your money AND time is what should, at max, go into promo! 90% is writing the next book! Spend those extra free hours chatting with readers you already have. They deserve it, and it’s fun!). I know, I’m an eternal tease about my past as a romance writer, I deliberately don’t post the links or tell you the penname because I don’t like to be judged on my smut. But I miss writing it. I have an upcoming ghostwriting gig lined up to do some romance, but looking at those numbers made me realize that I’m already making about half of what I will be making then, with next to zero effort (let’s discount the 1.5 years it took me to write those six books and bunch of novellas, shall we?). I might still do the ghostwriting, but I also plan to write at least one, maybe even a bunch, of smutty books next year, kind of like a palette cleanser. Yesterday evening has once again proven to me that time isn’t the commodity that I’m lacking when my word count falls short of what it needs to be. It’s focus. And guess what this 1500+ word morning ramble blog post is? A stellar way to focus my mind and get it where it needs to be to get some more words done! Paradoxical maybe, deeply routed in habit establishment for sure.

Someone a while ago asked me about my writing habits and superstitions. Here’s the one that’s proven true over and over again:

If I write before noon, I will write a lot that day. Or, if I write over 1k words, I will write more that day, given it’s before 10pm.

Also fun fact, the story I will likely use to grease my writing gears was planned as a rather violent, bloody revenge thriller. Now, if the female lead won’t cut apart her cheating fiancé but just break up with him, it will be romance! Another fun fact: readers usually pick up on shit like that, and this is why my romance only sells a fraction of my horror. I never said I was a GOOD smut peddler! But I love reading it when my mind’s too broken for everything else, and I like writing it when I have something else that constantly wears me down to work on but need a breather. I love Bree, but damnit, woman, you drive me bonkers sometimes! Hope you enjoyed that little regression into my old school vocabulary, before I learned to pretend to be from the other side of the pond.

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