Zombies, Kicks & Giggles

The not-so wise words of Adrienne Lecter

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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 fianc√© 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.

Day 3 – NaNoWriMo 2017

Required words: 1,666 / 3,333
Planned words: 3,333
Actual words: 0
Overall words: 3,897

Ohh, first zero day, the joy. It happens. Didn’t want to keep that joyous event from you!

Why it happened? Long story short: frustration. The day started well enough but then took a nosedive, and I ended up feeling so wound up and frustrated that at 6:30pm I dragged my coughing, snotty self to the gym for an hour of swimming it all away. Which didn’t work, but at least I got a workout in that now leaves me with slightly sore shoulders and a sore ass. Ladies, want to work those glutes? Swim. I feel the burn every single time I let up on my training, and then jump right in as if Michael Phelps was watching.

Why the frustration? Well, the underlying reason is because I’m bipolar type 2 and not quite out of my latest depressive phase. The concrete reason (or trigger, if you will) this time was facebook. Which I can’t really talk about because it would take all of 2 seconds for someone to swoop down and go all, “How can you talk like that about anyone, you’re a public figure, gasp!” or some other related shit. Because apparently, the second you dip your toe into any form of entertainment, your opinion matters, your feelings don’t, and people expect you to “behave” a certain way. Let’s just put it this way: I don’t play well with others (as recently seen in connection to something that still makes my gorge rise and me foam at the mouth and I can’t discuss it because, boohoo!) and I have a very keen sense of fairness, and so very often, people don’t give a shit about being fair. It’s got nothing whatsoever to do with my facebook group, which is awesome, and sitting at 299 members of awesomesauce right now, yay! You guys make up for a lot of shit out there. I should probably limit all my interactions to that–the people who actively want to have anything to do with me–and forget about the rest. Yes, I think I’ll do that for now.

So, want me to talk a bit about the b-bomb I dropped up there? Or woulds you prefer to ignore it because we writers are all book-producing machines and you don’t care about anything except when the next book’s out? Which is okay, to each their own. Live and let live, right? But since there’s a single day we all focus on mental health, versus a month of men wearing mustaches, and I missed that, gotta slide it in somewhere, real smooth.

Day 2 – NaNoWriMo 2017

Required words: 1,666 / 3,333
Planned words: 3,333
Actual words: 793
Overall words: 3,897

FAIL! Day 2 and I’ve already clocked in at under the required daily word count. Still ahead in the overall, but 793 does not make a fulfilling result. That’s why I love writing way over my set WC of the day, so that one bad day doesn’t throw me completely off schedule. I’m coming down with something, and for the past 2 days I’ve woken up at 3:30 and only been able to go back to sleep at 6am, which consequently turned me into a zombie. Did some great plotting at 3:45am, but sadly, when I crawled back out of bed, my mind was mush and it was all gone, and I eventually gave up at 800 words instead of writing 3 pages of mindless ramble that I would have to delete the next morning, anyway. Bree has a tendency to go off on tangents, no need to deliberately send her on one! Fun fact: Still writing that same conversation I was in at the end of Day 1. It happens.

Did some research today, some re-plotting I didn’t think I’d need but that added two wonderful scenes to make it all more cohesive, so that’s good. Continued to set up my Bullet Journal for 2018 (yes, I’m one of those people, and no, that’s not about my results on the range, but I could add that to my activity tracker… if I wasn’t too lazy to keep one. Oh, the irony). Watched some true crime shows on YouTube (thanks, Mindhunter, for rekindling that interest. Phenomenal show, watch it if you haven’t yet!). Finished my accounting for October, and because my audiobook royalties didn’t hit my account until November (my fault) October is the third month this year that I’m in the red. Nothing to worry about as I operate with a budget and some serious cushions to avoid instant panic, and I know that Nov and Dec will be much, much better (the ebook royalties from GF#7: Affliction so far, Amazon pays out 2 months after the royalties are accrued), but to anyone who thinks that just because you know my name as a writer I’m swimming in money: nope. Last year was amazing, 2017 is decent (enough that I don’t need to go hunt for a day job yet). Does anyone but me even care about my numbers and finances? Probably not.

I did all of the writing in the evening, that’s why I’m switching to doing the daily logs on the next morning from now on, makes more sense. I oscillate between being an early bird and a night owl irregularly. Right now I could flip into a nocturnal rhythm with the blink of an eye. Except for a dentist appointment next week I easily could do it, but that would likely mean I’d work from home rather than the office, and find yet more excuses not to hit the gym, so maaaaybe not. Once I’m better again, I’m a sniffling, coughing mess right now with light temp and headache. Sitting down for another late writing session from 8pm until midnight will likely be the way to go. Note to self: If I end up waking up at 3:30 again, I’m hitting that keyboard, daylight be damned.

I’m off into Day 3 now, hopefully to turn yesterday’s dribble around and make some good headway, both word count and in-story. I get a feeling this book won’t be a short one. If you can think of any short topics I might discuss during these posts to give them a little more content than just bare, boring numbers, let me know!

Day 1 – NaNoWriMo 2017

Required words: 1,666
Planned words: 3,333
Actual words: 3,104
Overall words: 3,104

Day 1 started pretty well for me, at midnight because that’s how I roll! Also because Nov 1 is a public holiday here so I could sleep in. Might have written more today but we went to the movies in the afternoon to see Thor: Ragnarok, and ended the day with the first half of Black Hawk Down, but 3k isn’t too shabby.

The plan was to write Green Fields short stories, but I still have a good 60k of the 8th book in the series to write first, so that’s what I’m doing right now. Bree’s not having a great day right now but that will soon change. For the worse, or else I wouldn’t have a story to write. Pretty happy with how things are going, though. I’m about 2 months behind my (mostly too optimistic) writing schedule but should be all caught up by the end of the month if things happen according to plan. The plan is to do double time, so 100k this month (60k novel, 40k short stories). So I missed the mark by a little, but not enough to be annoyed yet.

p.s. Thor: Ragnarok was amazing, might be my favorite Marvel movie so far! Might not be a cinematic masterpiece, but it was very entertaining, and they did a great job with both action and humor, story pacing and character writing, and great female characters.

Q4 Plans

Instead of boring you with a September recap (hint: September was kind of a dud for me) I’ll entertain you with what I have planned for the remaining quarter of 2017!

But first, a very, very short recap of what happened in September, because I’m a glutton for punishment. Beware, personal stuff ahead.

Exhaustion hit me like a freight train at the beginning of the month. You’d think that after publishing 13 other novels, I’d expect this to happen, particularly after a very, very productive summer, but noooooo. Not only was I toeing a mini-burnout from several months of constant productivity, but as usual, the release was strong, but numbers only started to really pick up in week 3 post-release. A lot of writers who still have a day job dream of doing it full-time. Let me tell you, if you’re all in, waiting until you have the data to start crunching the numbers is excruciating. Or maybe that’s just me. Don’t worry, most of my fretting was for naught, but it adds a nice layer of stress. Of course then karma had to swoop in and remind me that good things come to writers of gory horror stories, and one of my all-time favorite authors shared a promo I was running, giving it a great kick that still keeps burning. Yes, I once again embarrassed myself fangirling all over Bobby Adair. I swear, if I ever meet him in person, I will apologize. But I have no regrets!
Then there was the vacation in Italy (I posted a pic in the new facebook fan group, and the header image is taken from our room’s balcony as well), which was amazing, but since my mind was still on a bender, it took until the last few days for me to really come down and relax. Then, of course, within hours we left the sunny, warm late summer beach of Bibione and drove home to November weather Vienna. Cue in the worst case of SAD I’ve had in years! I’m a little better now but damnit, I’ll need a long, sunny October to get me ready for actual winter!
Oh, and this week I bought a new motorcycle after selling my old one. You only live once, as they say!

Now what’s the plan for the next three months:

  1. Finish the 8th Green Fields book (that is still without a title)
    Sounds easy (and it looks good and almost complete in my head, just today I worked out a few more pivotal scenes), but I still have 50-70k words to write, which is possible, but means I need to do a lot of writing. Did I mention I bought a new bike?
  2. I will be doing NaNoWriMo in November again. I was planning to write the first novel in a new series, but since I got the go-ahead for my Patreon project from my accountant, I will instead write 50k words of short stories for Patreon instead! Yes, I know it’s called National NOVEL Writing Month, but considering I’m a pro, I think I can cut myself some slack. Plus, 50k short stories would make up about half a year for monthly stuff on Patreon, so it would take off a lot of priority tasks for the start of 2018. I could also launch my Patreon in January 2018, so that’s another bonus!
    Short stories that will be included in this are:
    – What the gang was up to while Bree was gone in GF#5, Resurgence, Nate’s POV
    – How Bree and Nate met (alternating POVs, so we get some backstory from before from both of them. And there will be two versions, a smutty and not quite that explicit one, for everyone to choose their poison)
    – A story from Pia’s POV that ties into hints that are dropped early in GF#8
    – Maybe the backstory of Sadie and Bates, but not sure about that yet. Might get a little raunchy as I would write it from his POV
    – Either Burns’s or Andrej’s POV of the parts early in GF#5 that Bree blacked out on. That’s going to be super fun and uplifting! (/sarcasm)
    – Something that happened at the bunker during the first winter – either a late loot run to Cody, a typical training day for Bree, or someone being a nuisance in connection to the apple-sauce-pocalypse.
  3. Someone has to proofread and edit all this! And while I have a kickass team of beta readers and the best editor in the world, that someone will also be me! I might have mentioned that before but I hate proofreading with a vengeance! Also, the audio version GF#7, Affliction, should be ready for proofing soon as well! Looking forward to that for real!
  4. Depending on how much October will bleed into November (90% chance), and November into December (depending on how long it takes me to need to write something longer than a couple of pages with a given setting – 50% chance) December might just be the month to finish what needs finishing. I plan on publishing GF#8 in December as well, so that will easily eat up a week, plus cue in another round of exhaustion after that… and Christmas, my least favorite holiday of them all!
  5. Or I get everything wrapped up on Nov 30, and December is all free for the next novel! Might be GF#9, might be the first of a new series (still trying to decide between three possibilities. Maybe four. My mind is a crowded place!)
  6. I have a lot of socializing going on:
    Winter of Zombies blog tour, a 30 day-long zombie extravaganza all over facebook, and blogs!
    РNovember to Dismember at the Reading Horror facebook group Рmy day is Nov 29
    – and some more interviews I’ve signed up for. I should compile a list one of these days…
    – Oh, and there’s that matter of that anthology coming out on October 10. Almost forgot! (Just kidding. I’d never forget!)

If you haven’t joined my super duper Fan Club on facebook yet, do so now! It’s a great place to stay up to date with information, and it won’t get swallowed up by endless processions of cute cat pictures! Unless I post a few of my cats. Promise, never more than one or two at a time! Great stuff going on there right now! Including me being a dork, but what else is new?
You can read an exclusive teaser for GF#8 in the group, and more to follow.

On the future of the blog:

Not sure what I will be doing with this. Right now, the fan group is the best place to share information. Of course, I can share the blog posts there, too. I still have some written that need editing before posting. I will get there eventually. I will also be sharing stuff all through November for the events, and I have, tentatively, considered abusing the blog for an accountability thing for NaNoWriMo, kind of a way to give you a real-time behind-the-scenes update how things are going (an almost-guarantee for me to get stuck, but hey, not the craziest idea I’ve had this week!). We’ll see! Not fretting this. Just telling you that if you want to stay up to date, the fan group is the place to go, also for blog updates.

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