My drug of choice is writing--writing, art, reading, inspiration, books, creativity, process, craft, blogging, grammar, linguistics, and did I mention writing?

Friday, January 19, 2018

2017's Best By Month

[Italics text in brackets will disappear soon. 

Every new year, as I wrap up the year prior, one of the most time consuming jobs is redoing the three best posts by month. Because basically every one of the ten very best WAS one of the three best so those monthly bests change once the YEAR'S ten best are pulled out. 

Simple idea right?

It's the execution that is killer. 

Basically, I have to dig back through a whole year of analytics and figure out each month by hand. Because while Google can give you the ten best for the LAST thirty days, that's not a function it has for any specific month. It has to be done by hand and is a bit of a painstaking process.

Anyway here are the adjusted best by month that will go in the Best of WAW for 2017]


Social Justice Bard and the Tale of the Missing Outrage What makes the story of the four who kidnapped and tortured a mentally ill man...a little different.
Never Ever Ever Ever Ever Ever Ever Give Up After five years of doing this, my analytics have started to change.
Tone The "scaffolding" part for a three part craft essay. (New parts coming soon.)


The People in my Life/The People in my Fiction (Mailbox) Should I be putting real people into my fiction?
Social Justice Bard vs. Milo the Troll Milo Yiannopoulos often insists on the legality of his speech, but is it HATE SPEECH?
A Long Overdue Post The kickoff of my Patreon was strangely popular.


Beginning Writers and Submission Guidelines I asked for guest bloggers and folks....we need to talk.
Paying The Bills With Writing (Five Years In–Personal Update) No magic. No trick. (No frills either.) But the bills are getting paid.
Fortune Cookie Wisdom XII Honestly a more popular segment than it has any right to be.


Logan: Why Character Matters Adding eye popping special effects and more super powered antagonists is not what makes a good movie.
When to Throw in the Towel (Mailbox) At what point do you call it a day and give up?
Five Steps to Motivational Rejuvenation (Mailbox) How do you get your swing back if you've put a work on the back burner for a while?


This "Populist Writing Philosophy" (Mailbox) Someone disagrees that all that matters is that people write.
An Open Letter to the Readers of Writing About Writing My appeals posts rarely make the Greatest Hits. I think this one just had a provocative name.
Social Justice Bard And The Curious Case of Representation Once upon a time there was a cishet white dude who loved himself represented in media. But then something happened...


Writing With Depression (Mailbox) Can it be done?
Feeling Stuck? Join the Club, and Try These Tips to Get Writing Again (R.S. Williams) R.S. William's guest post about getting unstuck was one of June's best.
We Interrupt Your Regularly Scheduled Blog Post Blog was pretty excited when my FB page went over 500,000 followers.


In Which I Have an Unwelcome Visitor by Rahnia Collins Guest Blogger Rahnia Collins discusses procrastination.
Twelve Little Meta Things Random and meta. But apparently popular.
We Regret to Inform You.... During July I was teaching summer school and ran a "Patreon Fundraiser" and one of the weekly appeals posts (probably because of the title) caught some people's eyes.


That Madmartigan Sigh (Personal Update) Oh great. Now I have to kill a dragon. 
Battlestar Didactica You too can make the hard won wisdom of this blog into packaged wisdom.
An Old Priest, a Young Priest Groupie Threesome Jokes and Problematica (Mailbox) Why you see a lot less of the ol' Groupie Threesome joke around here lately.


Self Care Check In (A Very Personal Update) So...this started with me sleepwalking. For an entire day.
25 Things to Let Go of if you Want to Write Creatively for Money (Part 1) Part one of three. Giving some up might hurt.
Short Stories vs. Novels for Learning (Mailbox) If you're trying to learn to write, should you be doing short stories or novels?


A Strange Obstacle Fires near me weren't anywhere close, but the smoke in the air made it difficult to put up a post.
The Truth About This Last Month (Personal Update) Life was getting much better by October, but there's a very specific reason why.
25 Things to Let Go of if you Want to Write Creatively for Money (Part 3) The conclusion of the article started in September

Honorable Mention: The Renown Margin A new menu with new articles would have been number 2 in terms of page views. (More articles coming soon.)


Serious for a Moment (A Personal Update) Killing net neutrality may destroy an entire generation of artists, writers, activists, and creatives who have found their niche in online promotion.
Who Ordered the Extra Salty Mailbox It's not exactly hate mail, but I'm not quite putting up with this shit either.
Vocabulary Builders (Product Review) Are those books that promise to build your vocabulary really any good?


On the Business of Writing for the Non-Famous Writer Getting a tax write off on office space and laptops was very important to writers who weren't rolling in cash.
No Glamour in the Business of Writing Patreon enacted a terrible policy (since rescinded) and some days (if you want to make money writing) you have to deal with the non-writing parts.
In Memoriam (John DeCoster) One of my favorite teachers in high school.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

The Book Was SOOOOO Much Better Poll

It didn't make our poll, but what a spectacular example.
Image description: The Cat in the Hat
Book vs. Mike Myers movie.
What book was SOOOOO much better than the movie?

Book lovers are no stranger to both giving and hearing that familiar paean: "Oh the book was better." "The book was a lot better." "Have you read the book? It's much better." "Oh the book was so much better."

Most books are just better. (Not universally, but if you had to bet a dollar, that would be the way to go.) They go deeper into the story, they have subplots. They show things that film can't. Not that film can't show things a book can't like the every intricate detail of costuming or set design, but books often have more story–more girth.

Most books are better. And this is not their poll.

This is not a poll for good books and mediocre movies. Or mediocre books and bad movies. Or great books and good movies. (And certainly not those movies that are strangely better than the books.) This is a poll for those books that are hugely, outrageously, unbelievably better than their movies. Books where you want to grab people and say "But have you read the book? Do you know that this movie is a book? Because if you haven't read the book, you must. It's better. It's SOOOOOO much better! SOOOOOO. MUCH. BETTER!!!!"

Ahem....well, you get the idea.

The actual poll is on the left hand side at the bottom, beneath the "About The Author" section. Mobile viewers will have to go to the very bottom of their page and switch to "Web View" in order to access the poll.

Our poll was pulled from your nominations, and as I said, I tallied up the "seconds" a title had gotten (or nominations later on down the page) and looked at what had received the most to create a number between 8-24. While I'm willing to do a semifinal round, I'm not willing to do endless elimination rounds and quarterfinals and such just because we're getting more participation on our polls. (Which is awesome, but I don't want every poll to take six months.) In this case NINE titles stood out with five "seconds" or more.

Everyone will get three (3) votes.

There is no way to rank votes, so please consider that every vote beyond the first "dilutes" the power of your initial vote and use as few as you can stand to use.

Two data points of note:

Number one-  I love you all to bitly bits, but you have to learn to follow directions. Putting the comments in the wrong place or nominating more than two titles just got your nominations ignored. If you wish, consider Writing About Writing your tough, but fair, place to learn how mean busy people can be if you waste their time by not following directions. Honestly, it's a good lesson for writers to learn the hard way, and better to do it on some silly poll. If you're going to try to submit a manuscript to an agent (or god help you, directly to a publisher), the most important first thing you can do is to read carefully and then follow every submission guideline to the letter. They want pagination? Don't figure that's no big deal and w/e. Sample chapters? Don't send them the whole thing. Physical submission? Don't you dare email them.  Hell, some of them are so overwhelmed with queries that they make up rules just to haze out entitled dillholes who can't be arsed to pay attention–they don't even care if it's really 12 pt font. Because do you think it's going to be the consummate professional who takes the time to submit properly or the twenty-two year old who put the text in an email who is more likely to have spammed out their Nano draft to every addy they found in The Writer's Market.  Doesn't matter if you wrote The Catcher in the Rye, it'll be The Catcher in the Trashcan if you don't pay attention to directions.

Number two- If you're ever arguing that Hollywood (or publishing) doesn't have a diversity problem, please notice which titles made it to the poll. Please notice that they are–with ONE exception white dudes' books (the exception is a white woman) and mostly (though not exclusively) about white dudes. And I don't know all their biographical info, but I think it's all or mostly cishet white dudes at that. Hollywood seems more interested in slapping together shitty movies that use the name recognition of white dudes' books than finding something. This isn't necessarily these authors' faults, but it's emblematic of both Hollywood and the publishing industry. My next poll will have to be something deliberately designed to counteract this fuckery.

This poll will be up until February 1st-ish (maybe second or third....depends on my mood and if the votes are still coming in). You can vote once a week. Since I can't stop shenanigans, I encourage as much of it as possible. Vote early, vote often.

The Greatest Gift by Claire Youmans

Recently, I loaded up on books from various free or discounted sites, because I am writing Book 5, and need something light to read. 

This was a mistake.  These books aren't very good.  I am not finishing them. I'd rather shop for clothes than read them, and I hate shopping for clothes.  I am also trying mightily to refrain from posting truly honest reviews, as I do not suffer fools gladly and have a very sharp tongue.

I am on various lists for writers, all of which seem to be marketing oriented, which means Building Your List (so you can spam them).  People seem determined to get as much content out in the e-verse as possible, regardless of quality, though they are always asking about copy and line editors.

This is also a mistake.  

They're missing a crucial step.  This is the developmental editor.
Without a real developmental editor, the writer misses the fact that all the characters sound alike when they speak, that the same verbs are used over and over and over, and other errors that distract from the story.  Truly, nobody "pads" in steel-toed work boots; a better word would be "clomps."  Not everybody "smirks" all the time, and especially not every single character. 

The writer misses that all women are called by their first names and all the men by their last names, and women, even if nominally in charge, aren't allowed to make decisions without the approval of the supposedly subordinate males, pissing off half the potential audience.  They miss that a character says "sorry" all the time, and it's not a joke.  The writer misses that there is too darned much exposition, that things are told, not shown, that few care about the designer (Prada?) of the holster for the far too lovingly and lengthily described weapons of choice, that talking on phones from cover is probably bad tradecraft, that every single thought of every single character doesn't have to be written down, that the plot "twist" is predictable from page 3, who did it is obvious from the second the body is found, and all the other things a developmental editor will pick up as a matter of course.

You as a writer will not catch these things yourself, not even if you let the manuscript sit for a month before you read it again.  You're too invested in the story.  Your beta readers, if you have any, know there is something wrong, but don't know how to tell you what it is.

You need a real editor.  Yes, it's going to cost you.  You ALSO need the line-editor and the copy-editor and they, too, are going to cost you.  But if you want to get readers, as opposed to List-Fodder who will opt-out with your third spam-mail, you have to give people something they want to read, and a content style and universe they want to come back to, especially in a series.

As a reader, I resent paying even 99 cents for proofread drafts when I just end up making lists of What's Wrong With This Picture.  As I writer, I'd rather pay more for serious developmental editing and put out really well-crafted books than add to the Everest-sized pile of "I'm not going to finish this" material that's out there, and using my budget for ads where there is no curation, just pay-to-play.

I don't want to go back to the Bad Old Days of traditional publishing, and I don't think we even can.  But don't we as writers have a responsibility to produce quality books? 

It can be hard to find a real editor, I know, and I am fortunate in mine. Do yourself a favor and your homework, do some research and find yours, please.  Many writers edit.  Pick someone you like in your genre and ask them if they do or for a referral.  This is the gift that will keep on giving, the step that will make your work shine, and ultimately will make your audience bigger than all the advertising in the world.  

(C) Claire Youmans, The Toki-Girl and the Sparrow-Boy series

Besides writing 6 published books, poetry and an anthologized short story, Claire Youmans has sailed oceans, owned horses and taught skiing.  She recently moved to Japan in furtherance of writing more in the well-reviewed Toki-Girl and Sparrow-Boy series of historical fantasy and adventure books set in Meiji-era Japan.  She’s currently working on Book 5.  These charming books have a following among college students and adults because of the exciting mix of history and folklore, leading to sometimes fantastic adventures, but are also loved by children, fourth grade and up.  Writing The Toki-Girl and the Sparrow-Boy series is a passion she fully enjoys.  She’ll stay in Japan as long as they’ll keep her, writing more books about this fascinating culture and its incredible history in this very readable series.  Of course, there are dragons.

Retailers and readers may order through Ingram, for worldwide distribution, in hard copies and all E-formats. 

If you would like to guest blog for Writing About Writing we would love to have an excuse to take a day off a wonderful diaspora of voices. Take a look at our guest post guidelines, and drop me a line at chris.brecheen@gmail.com.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

The Book Was SO Much Better (Your Absolutely, No-Shit Last Chance to Nominate or Second)

What book was not just better than the movie, but SO MUCH BETTER. The MOST better-er book (than the movie) you can think of?

[Note: Comments left on FB will not affect our poll.]

Usually I wait until my nomination posts have died down and then tally it all up and run my poll.

This nomination poll hasn't died down.

So at high noon tomorrow, I will be closing the nominations and starting to tally up which 8-24 titles will be going on to the polls. (Either one poll or semi-finals and a final, but not fifty thousand elimination rounds.) Noon!  No matter what. Absolutely, posifuckingtively high noon.


I mean there is a small chance that I'll be moving my car EXACTLY at noon, and then I'll close the nominations when I get back like two minutes later. Or if I'm eating lunch, I might finish up–I got this eggplant parmesan thing from Trader Joe's that is really tasty. Or if I have started an episode of Daredevil because I'm almost done with the first season. Also, I might be napping. But very close to the area around noon, this is happening.

Here is the original post.

The directions are there.

The current nominations are there.

The seconds are there.

You should put your nominations and seconds there.

By noon (HIGHISH noon) tomorrow.

Photoblog: The Update Schedule

The Update Schedule Planner WILL
be operational before the
Emperor arrives.
Just a few things.....

Want to see my new update schedule organizer card Deal-A-Meal inspired thingie?

This is what I spent my weekend doing. Well, this and watching Agents of Shield. So I figured a little photoblog would be a nice jazz hands to immediately take all this effort and flip it off by getting off-schedule.

Gathering supplies. After I decided to wait on a laminator (to see if this whole thing even actually worked) the final price tag was not too bad.

Here is the inside of the organizer I got. What I really needed were lots of slots for business cards. As you can see, I found one that was basically a business card holder.

I picked up a couple of journals since they were buy-one-get-one-free. My plan was to use them (somehow) in my organization scheme. Of course that's similar to my plan to use all the other journals I have, which is probably revealing an affectation more than any capacity for well thought out schemes. I think my current number of absolutely pristine, nery-a-mark-in-them journals is now up around fifteen or so.

The initial plan to put them in the outside pocket of the organizer didn't really work. They fit, but then the organizer didn't want to close very well.

This is my day calendar that I use to plan out what I'm going to write. I slid its back behind the legal pad's pages so it stays anchored inside the organizer.

I mean if you can't do it with gel pens, what is even the point?

I tried to buy blank business cards, but the only thing Office Depot had was business card paper (so you can print your own). I was not fucking around with wanting these bad boys to be standard, so I picked up a pair of scissors, then put them back and picked up this bad boy instead.

Hexgrids fuckers! Awwww yeeeeeeaaaaah.

The hex grid wouldn't perfectly cut them in half, but that would have made them just a tiny bit too small anyway.

Not pictures is cutting off the bottom centimeter or so.

There was definitely a learning curve at first, but eventually I was doing three at a time and they took only a minute or so per set.

Perfect size. On to step two.

Time to bust out the gel pens!

These are all the "weekly" cards. As I write the post in question, I pull the card out and move it into one of the big pockets.

Each week (in the case of weekly) the big pocket cards go back into their slot.

It took some time to fill them all out. (There are about 60 cards all told.) But here they are all tucked away.

This is why I wasn't sure an app would help without getting to digitally confusing. Some of these refresh every week, some once every two weeks, some once every month, some once every time I get through them There are probably some list apps that could do everything I need, but the kinesthetic interaction (or maybe it's the third dimension?) are able to handle more stimulation "clutter before I feel overwhelmed.

As I plan a week, I pull the cards for the articles I plan (or look to see what I still need to do in a given rotation). Then I have an exact gauge of what I haven't done in a while as well as how many "major" things are left to do.

This week won't quite be full throttle, but you can see how it shakes out.

And that should help me be much better about updates.

And if I'm good, and this works, I get to be an absolute total fucking NERD and reward myself by laminating the cards.