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

Friday, July 29, 2016

MOVING!! Be back Tuesday.

I'm guessing I'll need Monday for unpacking, so I will see everyone with bells on and a running start on Tuesday.

Don't burn down the internet while I'm gone and don't forget to KEEP WRITING!!

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Your Post Here?

We seem to be down a guest post today, so let me remind everyone that I would love to publish your work.  While "meaty" posts, weekend posts, even two posts a day will be returning to Writing About Writing soon, Thursday is always a day for guest posts. 

Got something to say about writing, art, inspiration, creativity, motivation, process, craft, literature, reading...or possibly cheese?

Got something that writers or book lovers REALLY need to see?

Want to respond to something I've written, even if it's to completely disagree with me and tell me I smell like soup? And not that I smell like the good kind of soup that reminds you of childhood winters, but something with weird goat cheese, too much salt, and seasonings that make you wonder if it hasn't gone a little off.

Want to take advantage of my (currently) 50,000+ page views per month and advertise your own online endeavors in a thinly veiled self-pimp-a-thon wrapped in the "sheep's clothing" of an article?  (For which I will only demand a shout out in return.)

Want to put an article or three out in the world, be read by lots of readers, but without having to start your own blog and lose all your friends by pimping yourself on Facebook all day long? ("Ugh. All they do is talk about themselves! They don't take pictures of their lunch like me!")  Or just want to try blogging on for size a few times before you start one of your own?

Then I want you!

Bring it!  Drop me an e-mail.  (chris.brecheen@gmail.com) As long as what you want to write is mostly coherent, at least obliquely about writing, no more than 82% horribly offensive to white males, non-abusive to other readers, doesn't make me cry (except in the good way), contains at least one vulgarity, innuendo, or salvo of F-Bombs to maintain the lack of decorum, I will totally publish your article.  I can't promise that if you write an article on why I'm wrong about everything ever in my face that I won't write some kind of rebuttal, but all opinions on writing are welcome--even ones antithetical to mine. (I do reserve the right to refuse a post for any reason, but I promise that reason won't be because I disagree with you.)

And...if you're one of my regular guest bloggers, I'll even give you your own link on The Reliquary (unless you'd rather I didn't).

Here are some guidelines so we don't waste each other's time:

  • If you send me offers to do web content, I mark your mail as spam. I know when I'm looking at a legitimate offer for a guest blog.
  • If you are a robot I will mark you as spam. Unless you can do dishes. Robots that do dishes are welcome.
  • If you can't figure out what this blog is about, and offer to do articles about steam roofing or something, I'll mark your mail as spam. I'm not just web content here; this blog has a theme and everything. Make it about the inspiration and creative process of steam roofing AT LEAST!
  • Please read the paragraph below the bullet points very carefully.
  • Your writing is yours. I'm going to ask that you let the post run on my page for a while before you cross post it, but ultimately I respect that as the generator of the creative effort, your writing is yours. If you ask me to remove it, I will. If you repost it somewhere else, that's okay.
  • There are no author passwords to Writing About Writing--you'll submit your articles to me. I will post them if they are good enough to post.
  • If you skipped all that dull text up above, this blog is about writing, art, inspiration, creativity, motivation, process, craft, literature, reading, and maybe cheese. Don't skip the paragraph below though.
  • I will be as liberal as I can about gate keeping, but you do have to be able to write a little. An incoherent rant about the tyranny of grammar probably won't be approved.
  • You don't have to agree with me, particularly about writing stuff, but I'm not going to post wildly divergent social positions, humor that punches down, or deeply problematic phrasing. Anything I post here isn't an "I agree with this 100%!" endorsement, but if I hit publish on it, I'm going to be the one to answer for it. If you want to write about how the PC police are agents of "Obummer the Mooozlim," and they won't let you even use the word "tard" anymore, go start your own blog.
  • I won't make any content changes to your writing, but I may make some copy edits. If a proofreading change might change your meaning, I will run it by you.
  • Please fucking read the paragraph below.
  • When I say "I will make some edits" I want you to understand that I'm not a copy editor even though I can do okay (on writing that isn't my own). I'm not here to fix up a post from scratch that you didn't have time to proofread. Clean it up.
  • You may link out as much as you want (even self-promotional links), but I'm going to check them all--if they go to spammy shit, I won't publish your article. 
  • Please, for the love of all that is holy, and in the name of Hera's left nipple, read the goddamned fucking paragraph below.
  • If your post is a giant fucking commercial for some product, then you need to be paying me for advertising space. And if your product isn't awesome, that's not going to happen anyway. Thinly veiled self promotion under the auspices of something that at least resembles an article is totally okay though–just know that it might not get a lot of hits. I only get about 150 views on articles that aren't liked or reshared through some social media. If my readers don't like something, it does NOT do very well. If they do, well they know where the share button is.
  • Seriously, read the paragraph below.

The very important paragraph:

W.A.W. isn't making very much money article per article. I can't offer more than a couple of dollars. (Most guest bloggers ask to include it as a donation, but that's never expected.) If your article brings in heavy traffic, we will figure something extra out so I'm not taking the hard work of a writer with nothing but the promise of "exposure." Plus of course if someone sends me a donation earmarked for a guest blogger, I will pass the money onto them and even cover the Paypal fee–that's for them, not me. It may not add up to much (unless you get millions of hits or write for me a lot) but if it came from your work, I'll make sure I'm not taking advantage of you.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Do Authors Need Expensive Cover Art? (Mailbox)

Image description: The closest thing
to an 80's mailbox our image intern
could find. We should fire him.
[Remember, keep sending in your questions to chris.brecheen@gmail.com with the subject line "W.A.W. Mailbox" and I will try to answer a couple each week. I have a LOT of backlogged questions right now because my life is a dumpster fire, but I will try to eventually get to all of them.  I will use your first name ONLY unless you tell me explicitly that you'd like me to use your full name or you would prefer to remain anonymous.  My comment policy also may mean one of your comments ends up in the mailbox. Oh and I. Am. BACK.]    

Sonja F asks: 

Do you need to pay lots of money for a cover artist to make your cover?  

I'm going to assume this question is about self-publishing because if you go through a big five publisher cover art is actually one of the decisions that is typically taken away from the writer (sometimes to no small amount of resentment).  Small print presses usually can't afford really snazzy covers, so you just get a single image (maybe a photograph) and the title. It doesn't look great, but small presses use other ways to sell books than by looking good in big bookstores.

Sonja, this question caused me to have a flashback. And I mean a flash-way-back. 1985 way back. The shoulder pads were big and the hair was even bigger. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were somehow even bigger than the hair. Marty McFly was hopping into his Delorian for the first time on the big screen*.  And if you started to "Do the Mario" a fair number of people would actually sing along. And while the three hundred and twenty five season run of Full House was a couple of years out, Growing Pains and Family Ties were laying some of the groundwork. Your intrepid but terribly cute writer was even terribly cuter at the venerable age of....um....y'all aren't any good at math are you?

*True story: if Back to the Future were made today with the same relative time frames, Marty would be going back to the 80's. Marty would actually be going back to AFTER the original movie's main timeline took place. Feel old yet?

But I need you to understand the nature of this flashback because it went all the way to this horror show called Kids Incorporated. (It's probably best you don't click that link, TBH.) And when I say something is bad "for the eighties," I desperately need you to understand that we didn't have nine million cable channels and Netflix. This shit was up against shows like Small Wonder and Manimal and still made me cringe.

Kids Incorporated is kind of what would happen if you took Glee, reduced the median age of the kids by eight years, removed the sexual tension and replaced it with bangles (that's the bracelets OR the group), just had actors do atrocious lip synching instead of actual singing (which was still regularly just a little flat and awful), stripped it of any attempt at all to have socially relevant plot, made it one of those shows that came on after the cartoons ended on Saturday morning and you only got to see when your parents were too distracted to kick you out to go play, and puffed everybody's hair up by about eight centimeters. Other than that, just like Glee.

And yet a couple of those FUCKING SONGS decided, despite playing in front of my pre-teen sensory input systems exactly once, to bore their way into my consciousness for all of time. One such shitty songs was the culmination of a childhood of being finger waggingly reminded, warned, chided, and castigated not to judge books by their covers. It is not a thing that can be described. Not with words I possess, and I possess a decent lexicon of words. Perhaps the eldritch language of the Old Ones can fully describe its horror, but English cannot. It must be experienced.

I probably should have told you this before you hit play, but one week after you watch this video for even a second, a wannabe with pink tiger-striped capri pants and black lace forearm covers will crawl out of the well of the Smurf village, then through your monitor and karaoke "Like a Virgin" to you.

Anyway, I better get to the point. This post is in imminent danger of going off topic, and we wouldn't want that.

The point is that this was generally prescriptive advice given to little kids who didn't like the simple embossed title (and maybe author) of "boring" books. And maybe behind that there was some overarching advice about snap judgements based on appearances. But the fact was–and still is, despite all the things that have (thankfully) changed, we all do it.

Or I guess what I'm trying to say is that after we get that advice, our response is: "NOT!"

Let me give you an example. You see a cover. It is an airbrushed picture of a woman with a look of ecstasy being leaned back by a shirtless dude with rippling pectoral muscles who is quite apparently not in a state of disbelief about what may or may not be butter. Do you need to read the back to figure out if you want to read this book? Do you need to read a hundred pages to give it a good faith try? Or are you pretty sure you know what's coming? How about if you see a dude in a flight helmet and a picture of a space battle? Or a dragon?

Yeah, any of these could be the pinnacle of their genre and I'm not dissing genre. If you haven't read Lord of Scoundrels or Shane because of the obvious genre of their covers, you're missing out some really good books, but it doesn't mean we don't judge. Grabbing a book because "Oh, cool. Spaceship!" is a judgement too. And every book a little kid brings you to read has been thoroughly judged by its cover.

These days we may even do more of that cover judging than we used to. Though thankfully this may mean we don't have to look forward to a Glee cover of this particular Kids Incorporated gem, it also means that writers hoping to self publish should be even more aware of how their cover art can affect their sales. Even though the publishing industry is going through changes that are generally exciting and new voices are finding audiences and artists are monetizing in ways that don't require problematic gatekeepers, a cover tells us a lot about a book in just a few seconds, mostly about its quality. A book with a plain or shitty cover is a big signal that the book might have been kind of slapped together or hastily rushed through publication. What else was rushed? The copyediting? The revision process? Is this a book worth taking a chance on at all? It will probably greatly affect who will buy your book without some kind of heartfelt endorsement or friend recommendation. (One that doesn't involve them saying "Psyche!" at the end.)

But don't take MY word for it. Look at some of these terrible covers. Just be ready with some bleach so that when your done you can do one of those bleach enemas. On your eyeballs.

I don't know if you need to pay "lots of money" Sonja. There are certainly artists who will do commissions for book cover art at a rate that would be very reasonable, especially if they are struggling to launch their own burgeoning career. You may even come to some mutually beneficial deal with them for an exchange. Just remember they're a struggling artist too, and don't take advantage of them or pull that "for exposure," crap.

But if the question is if you should take your cover art seriously and do what you can to make it look eye catching and professional quality, yes you should. It's the first thing anyone will ever see about your book, and none of us paid a damn bit of attention to either the finger wagging or this festering pimple squeezing of a video. Folks are going to take ONE look at your book and judge the fuck out of it. It may well be the only opportunity to get someone to open up and read a few lines. And they will absolutely think that schlocky art is indicative of schlocky writing. And then they will say your book is grody to the max and will avoid you like The Noid while wondering: "What's your damage, Heather?"

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Best Non European Fantasy (Final Round!)

What is the non-European fantasy Setting?  

Our final round is live!  

Eight names culled from 16 of your nominations have come to the final round for you to decide which non-European fantasy setting is the best. Please don't forget that we're talking about books, not their lovingly created movie renditions.

This poll will only run until a week or two into August (as long as it takes to get nominations for our August poll), and then hopefully we'll be back on the 1 month = 1 poll track. 

The poll itself is on the lower left of the side menus–just below the "About the Author."

Since I can't really stop shenanigans, I welcome all the shenanigans. The main one is of course that Polldaddy tracks your IP for a week so you could vote from multiple computers or vote again after a week, but people have also enlisted friends, family, and even author forums or Facebook communities to join in the fun. Vote early. Vote often.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Quickie on the Fly (Personal Update)

I do NOT drool.....I'm pretty sure.
Image description: Me...asleep. (Except I was totally not really asleep; just posing.)
Just a quick one today. We woke up to a car blocking our driveway and I might did need to tag in early since no one can actually drive away from here with child in tow (but everyone still has to go patrol).

This weekend, starting around Friday at noon, I worked 42 hours. I let you figure out the math on that one. So I'm a little tired. Exhausted really. (Is there a word bigger than exhausted? I'll coin one: ennerhaustevated. I'm ennerhastevated.) Needless to say, I could use one...last...spectacular flurry from the hands of Jazz.

And a nap.

So while I am almost giddy at the fact that I'm literally on the LAST DAY of summer-schedule-imposed writing limitations, I actually need to extend this bullshit by 24 more hours.

Then tomorrow, up will go the final round for the non-European fantasy poll, and I am working on some actually real content for Wednesday. (I told you this old baby could still fly.)

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Best Non-European Setting (Poll Results Semifinal 2)

Thank you to everyone who voted in our poll. The top four names from each semifinal will go on to the final round (which I will put up Monday [and save the Mon post for Tuesday], so that the poll doesn't run too far into August). I wish there could have been a bigger spread between fourth and fifth place, but I had to get 'er done.

Unfortunately, I am running late for my teaching job, so I can't do much more than post the image. Fortunately this is my last day of teaching and of jazz hands blog posts and daily writing that gets funneled into journals and Facebook posts since I don't have the time to really write something crunchy.

Of course, I'm taking a three day weekend as promised to rest and recuperate. (I won't even be putting a menu up tomorrow–expect radio silence.) Also, I'll be moving next week, so I'm a little thin on promises for exactly when Writing About Writing will fire up the old schedule in earnest, but if all goes well, time seems like it will not be my enemy after this weekend.

Text of image above:

Lord of Light–Zelazny 9 25.71% 25.71% Monkey and The Monk A. C. Yu and Wu C. 6 17.14% 17.14% Haroun and the Sea of Stories–S. Rushdie. 6 17.14% 17.14% Throne of the Crescent Moon–S. Ahmed 5 14.29% 14.29% Who Fears Death–N. Okorafor 4 11.43% 11.43% Tales of the Otori–L Hearn 3 8.57% 8.57% The Fox Woman and Fudoki K. Johnson. 2 5.71% 5.71% 

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Best Non-European Fantasy Setting (Don't Forget to Vote)

What is the best non-European Fantasy Setting?   

Please don't forget to vote in our current semifinal round for best non-European fantasy setting, the results of which I will tabulate tomorrow. (I'll put the final round up first thing next week.)

Everyone will get three votes (3). The top four names will go on to the final round. Before you simply vote for your favorite four, consider that, as there is no ranking of those four votes; each vote beyond one dilutes the power of your choices a little more. So if you have a genuine favorite–or pair of favorites–it's better to use as few votes as possible.

The poll itself is on the left side, at the bottom of the side menus.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

June's Best

As we jazz hands up this last jazz-handian week, I gaze back upon the rockstar entries from yestermonth that will go on into the Hall of Fame to be studied by future historians writing their dissertations on two bit bloggers before they became four bit bloggers.
While you can expect to see the major updates to the Hall of Fame menus in the next three weeks or so, here are the best of June.

Four Things Your Editor May Not Tell You (But You Should Know) By Bethany Brengan

One of our rare guest posts to top the charts. Bethany Brengan delights us with an explanation of things most writers don't know about editors....but should.

Mailbox: Writing for Income

Yep. I make money from writing. And it's even drifting into not-terrible territory. But it's also not why I do any of it.

Mailbox: How Many Books

How many books do you have to read before you can write a book?

Honorable Mention:

Rage Against The Brecheen (Menu Tour) Though this has been a menu for years, our Friday repost of our menus

Monday, July 18, 2016

Sabbati Terminus Manibus Jazzicus (Personicus Updaticus)

The Jazzicusiest of Manibuses
Image description: author doing serious Jazz hands
And by serious we mean......not serious.
Welcome to our final week of hardcore jazz hands! After this, you will again start to see things like:
  • Writing Advice and Folksy Wisdom
  • Listicles
  • Craft discussion
  • Regular mailbox responses
  • Reviews (of fiction and writing resources)
  • The Very Basics
  • Our long dormant season two plot arc
  • Writing for other blogs
  • Vlogging!
  • Meaningful content
  • As well as many of our long estranged guest bloggers
Hang in there one more week and Writing About Writing will not only return to its pre-summer school output, but will shortly return to its pre-health crisis output. And then....it will return to its pre-tiny-human output. (All while I'll be writing a book for hours a day.) And then, as has been mentioned by allusions to a pretty bad ass (but also 30 year old) movie multiple times before....you're going to see some serious shit. In fact, let's just go ahead and run that clip again because I need some filler for this post, and if you've joined us in the last year or so, you really ARE going to see some serious shit.

As many of you have surmised, the cancellation of the Enhanced Human's Sidekick Project is something of a personal blow. that is seeing me have to leave the Hall of Rectitude and forcing me to find new employment. The government didn't even kick down for sidekicks to get a severance package. (I don't even know what the hell I gave all that money to the Sidekicks Union for...honestly.) Most of my colleagues are going into security, and a few of the ones with minor powers are even thinking of merc work, but, as you know, I am going to try to write a book. I was never particularly good as a sidekick anyway.

Fortunately even stressful and uncomfortable life transitions have not really impacted my writing pace unless they drop some kind of shitbomb that very day. I'm not very good at writing more than stream-of-consciousness splats under immediate distress, but give it a day and I'm quite good at converting general angst into creative energy. It's a gift.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Why I Write by M J Zander

Photo by the Author (M J Zander)
Image description: a small stack of books, one with cursive writing on it.
Today's guest post was originally published on Absinthe and Ink, MJ Zander's home blog.

There’s a great misconception that writing is easy; that all writers do, is make shit up and then write it down. If only it were that easy. Writing is demanding, both physically and mentally. It is a brutal, unforgiving bastard, that at times mocks you and makes you feel worthless and defeated. So you ignore it, or you try to, but as George Orwell wrote “I tried to abandon this idea, but I did so with the consciousness that I was outraging my true nature and that sooner or later I should have to settle down and write…”

Orwell writes “I think there are four great motives for writing…they exist in different degrees in every writer…” Narrowing it down to just four, is a rather brave (or foolish) thing to attempt. However, his reasons are so infallible and intrinsic that even in the epoch of social media and instant messaging, these four core motives are as relevant now, as they were in 1946, when Orwell wrote his essay.

The first one Orwell lists is “sheer egoism.” As much as I’d like to deny this, it is as Orwell writes, “humbug to pretend this is not a motive.” There’s a drive in all of us to be recognized for something; to be acknowledged as being better than others at this something.  Competition is an instinct, and a rather important one. Without it nothing would ever move forward. It is selfishness at its finest. Writers, musicians and artists of all media tend to have an overabundance of this trait. It isn’t because we are arrogant jerks, or insecure souls looking for validation, it’s because we feel the need to contribute, even if that contribution is an unwelcome one. It’s the fight against losing who we are and conforming to the masses.

The next one is “Aesthetic enthusiasm.” It’s the beauty of words, but also the ugliness. It is the means in which we communicate and “the desire to share an experience which one feels is valuable.”  What one person finds value in, another is certain not to. However, the value in that thing, is in the way it is communicated, and that is where aestheticism comes in. Most people can recognize that a book is well written even if they don’t care for the story. I will admit, even as an English major, I don’t like Shakespeare, but I’d give anything to be able to write like him. For me, there is something magic, not just in words alone, but in the way they are linked together. The blending of words is very much like the blending of notes or paint; too many of the same become redundant, too many opposites and you create cacophony. There’s a fine line between the two, which shifts with every piece one writes. There is no magic formula. Writing is a way of corralling your wild ideas and training them to become an organized group of thoughts, at the same time training yourself how to think about and express those thoughts.

The third on Orwell’s  lists is “historical impulse.”  Orwell states it is the “desire to see things as they are, to find out true facts…” But if facts are subjective, and they are, then how can we ever determine what is true? Well written historical accounts are more likely to be taken as factual, even if they aren’t. Historical “facts” are constantly being proved or disproved.  What is the truth on one side, maybe propaganda on the other.  It may  be the desire to record things as we believe they are, rather than the “desire to see things as they are.” Writing is what forces you to look at events objectively, if for no other reason than to find your own truth.

Orwell’s fourth and final motive is one he applies in, “the widest possible sense,”and that is “Political purpose.” Here is where things get interesting. Orwell states it is the “desire to push the world in a certain direction, to alter other people’s idea of the kind of society that they should strive after.” What Orwell argues is that art and politics can’t be separated. Nothing inspires creativity like injustice.

Writing is, as Orwell states, “a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness…(and) by the time you have perfected any style of writing, you have outgrown it.” So why do writers subject themselves to this self inflicted torment? Perhaps it is the search for our own understanding, or the desire for self-preservation by what we leave behind. Maybe it is the essential aspiration to be heard and recognized. Or maybe, just maybe we are “driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.”

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 (even if they don't always agree with me). Take a look at our guest post guidelines, and drop me a line at chris.brecheen@gmail.com.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Best Non-European Fantasy (Semifinal 2)

What is the best non European fantasy setting?

There won't be nearly as long on our second semifinal round as our first since A) July is already half over and we need to get on this thing and B) I'm not running a Kickstarter at peak stress this time around. So I will combine these results with our first semifinal round in only ONE week.

Don't waste any time voting.  

Everyone will get three votes (3). The top four names of each poll will go on to the final round. Before you simply vote for your favorite four, consider that, as there is no ranking of those four votes; each vote beyond one dilutes the power of your choices a little more. So if you have a genuine favorite–or pair of favorites–it's better to use as few votes as possible.

The poll itself is on the left side, at the bottom of the side menus.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Best Non-European Fantasy (Semifinal 1 Results)

Our first semifinal round is done, and I was elated to see a huge spread between the going-on-to-the-next-round cut off and the here-are-some-lovely-parting-gifts choices. Everything from Hundred Thousand Kingdoms up will be going on to the final round.
Image Description: Poll Results (available in text format at https://polldaddy.com/polls/9453849/results/)

Interestingly for how....passionate people seemed during the nomination process, we didn't end up with that many votes. Hopefully it was just my fault for losing focus due to the Kickstarter and letting things dribble out. But don't forget that you pick the nominees and make the polls happen. 

I'll announce it tomorrow, but technically the second round poll is already up if you want to vote now–lower left as always.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Kickstarter Results and Final Thoughts (Personal Update)

Enlarge to admire tongue piercing.
Image Description: Me with celebratory hands up
and mouth wide open and excited
My Kickstarter finished this weekend!!

This is awesome for two reasons: Number one, we closed out at juuuuuuuuuust shy of $11,000.

There are a lot of things I could say to my detractors who thought I picked a very unfortunate path to financial writing solvency. They furrowed their brows when the take-home message I got from our SFSU guests was that the entire publishing industry was changing right in front of our eyes, clucked when I started a blog, sucked their teeth when I opted out of traditional publishing, looked down their noses when I invested time in self promotion and social media outreach, and made sure I knew (and I mean in no uncertain terms) that they did not consider my fledgling career to be "real" if I was not pursuing literary journals, an agent, and/or an MFA in literature. Many are now scratching their heads wondering how in the name of Apollo's right nut I was able to score a tidy advance on a debut novel (that I won't actually have to pay back).

And, as I say, there are many things I could say to these detractors.

After much thought and consideration, however, I've decided to take the low road. "Neener neener. Who's 'dumping a lot of wasted effort' now? Eh PROF?"

Of course I can't get too obnoxious without simultaneously thanking all of you. It's a humbling and uplifting experience to have people quite literally give you free money on the promise that what you are going to do with it is, we hope, totally cool.

The amount pledged is more than enough to supplement current incomes and for long enough to get the whole book written (not just a first draft). It's also enough to hire both a content and a copy editor towards the end of the process so that the polish is a little finer than most self published books. And because we hit the fourth stretch goal, I'll be releasing the book through e-format and print-on-demand formats.

All of this is a little over a year out. (You'll probably start to see the release date information in early fall of 2017.)

It's also awesome for a second reason: You won't have to read about it every single week anymore!

Here's where we are now.

  • It's still another three weeks before I can sit down and really start in on this book. It's also another three weeks until all blog systems are fully functional with power levels in the green.
  • In the next three weeks, we should see more and more blog sub-systems come back online one-by-one including "meatier" posts, vlogging (never forgot about this), weekend light weight posts, blogging for other blogs, and short fiction.
  • It's still another two weeks before I am done with summer school, so we might need a bit more jazz hands periodically.
  • Radiation ends tomorrow, and family left this weekend, and the Kickstarter is over (as exciting as it was, it was stressful and took a bit of energy to promote). You should begin to notice an uptick in blog post quality quite soon.
  • And thank you so much for your patience through all of this.

I also remind everyone that tomorrow I will be posting the second semifinal round of our July poll for Best Non European Fantasy, so if you want to vote for who will go on to the finals, today is your last chance.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Final Kickstarter Push

Image description: Book with light and magic symbols
coming out of it.
14 Hours to go in my book-funding Kickstarter!

If there were ever a time to share this link along with a couple of words of why you hope people who don't know me might want to give a buck or two, today would be the day.  

And if we pull out another $1200, there will be professional cover art instead of a non-copyrighted WWII picture of an explosion photoshopped next to a picture of ridiculously photogenic guy running away from evil wizards who have been sketched in pencil as creative commons on Ravalry. Oh and also professional formatting assistance so there are no one word pages.

And if we don't, I came far, far further than I ever could have dreamed, and will get my ass to the grindstone in exactly 24 days.

Next Monday we'll begin our slow process of returning Writing About Writing to its regularly scheduled programming. As family leaves, radiation finishes, summer school ends, and finally as I move out and get settled the time for writing will conversely amp up.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Kickstarter Update

I woke up to over $10k pledged to my Kickstarter. (http://kck.st/1TV2MQp)

I would say something cliche like "I don't even have words," but then you all might doubt that you had put your faith into the right writer because that's kind of what we do....

Read the full update through our Kickstarter 

Also, the current flex goal we're working on involves cover art and professional help with formatting (so there's still a chance to back this project and make it even better):

Flex Goal #5 $12,500 (Looking good Triexta. Looking real good!) Often one can really tell when they're looking at a self published book. The cover is nondescript and there are numerous formatting and kerning errors in the print. They just don't look as good as the books from a publisher.  At this level I will commission a piece of professional artwork from A Grey Artistry for Triexta's cover. I will also solicit professional assistance in making sure that the formatting of both the e-reader and the print on demand version is as close to professional quality as I can get.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Truthsome Liar (Part 2)

Image description: Firefly logo
Reminder: We are currently in week two of the Fortnight of Ultimate Doom™, which is in the Month of Unquestioning Horror™, firmly ensconced in the Six Weeks of Countless Tiny Terrors™all of which is in the Year of Absolute Shitfully Shit™ (Heck, even though it's the exciting kind of stress, the final hours of the Kickstarter are contributing.) While Writing About Writing's systems will begin to come back on line one by one starting in about a week when family clears out of this house, and continuing on through the end of radiation, the culmination of summer school, and finally my move, right now we are hitting the textbook definition of JAZZ HANDS pretty hard and trying hard–oh so hard–not to simply put the blog on hiatus.

So I'm going to continue my post about a dream I had recently.

(Serenity spoilers ahead.)

Continued from part 1

There are a few of things to understand about my Firefly dreams.

One is that Malcolm Reynolds always knows I'm dreaming....but I don't. That's extremely weird for me. In fact, I can't think of another dream I've ever had where one of the characters knows I'm dreaming but I don't. I often know I'm dreaming, and can even control myself to some degree, and once in a blue moon, I can control and direct the dream itself, but not my Firefly dreams. I'm always deep "in character" in those dreams. But Malcolm always knows the truth. He's the one who explains to me what's going on, usually to tell me that I need to wake up and get to writing.

The second is that I fly the ship and flying the ship seems to me to be a metaphor for creativity. Some dreams seem to have Wash and Shepherd Book alive, and in some I sort of am Wash. And in some he seems to have experienced his fate at the end of a ship to ship harpoon, but regardless, I'm flying the ship and my proficiency is linked to my writing life. "Here's something you can't do," I say before I post a viral article Shirtstorm.

Perhaps the most important thing to understand about these dreams is that there are two forces we are constantly trying to avoid–forces that are ever working against us. The first is the Alliance. And the Alliance is a boring real world. It's paying bills. It's working a day job. It's dental appointments. It can be temporarily avoided but never escaped. It is a throbbing nexus of bureaucracy and the inevitable encroachment of the mundane into my world. It's constantly encroaching and no matter how far we go, we can feel its reach. When I am feeling my writing being syphoned off by too many appointments, kid watching sessions, and unfortunate banal conversations about the length of toilet spigot parts, I may dream about being detained by the Alliance or losing a shipment because the Alliance held us up. And of course ultimately if they ever find out we're harboring fugitives they desperately don't want to lose, we'll probably all end up in their custody forever.

The other force has also to do with time, or rather the lack of it, but it isn't full of bureaucracy and procedure. It is a never sated maw that wants to suck up every writing moment and leave me a failure. It wants to ruin me in its wake and scuttle the ship. Unlike the inexorable, high profile metastasizing of the Alliance, this force moves unseen. It slips behind the umbras of moons and through the magnetic interference of planetary poles, threatening me from every corner and it will destroy Serenity's ability to fly (my creativity) if given half the chance and kill us all. It is savage and it will take no prisoners.

Rather I should say THEY will take no prisoners. Reavers.

So my dream picked up right about at the third reel of Serenity. And in standard dream logic it was somehow post Wash and different even though it was using a lot of the same lines and moments.

"Bastard's not even changing course," the operative said.

Image description: Serenity movie Gif

"Mal, I can't fly between them both," I said. "I can't do this."

"Son, I can fly well enough to aim this rig," Mal said.  "If I didn't think you could get us down in one piece, you wouldn't be in that chair."

"I don't...." I said. "I can't...."

Mal put his hand on my shoulder. "Do you know what 'Alea iacta est' means? It means we're stuck between Alliance and Reavers and they both mean to end our trip a little sooner than'd be my preference. If anyone can get us away from the reavers without landing right in the Alliance hanger bays, it's you. Don't live in the shadow of other pilots. You tell YOUR story."

"My STORY?" I said, growing confused.

"You got this, Chris. Now wake up and write like a leaf on the wind."

He paused and blinked. "Just...you know....maybe not that exact expression."

Then I woke up.

Friday, July 1, 2016

The Best of the Mailbox (A Tour of Menus)

Image description: USPS public post box.
If you want a question answered on The Mailbox, just put "For The Mailbox" in your subject line in an email tochris.brecheen@gmail.com .  I will use your first name unless you tell me explicitly that I can use your whole name and/or you would prefer to remain completely anonymous.  I can't promise I'll post everything I get, that I'll respond to abject stupidity, or that I'm going to keep posting every anonymous attempt to hurt my feelings if I have anything else to use instead, but if you write a thoughtful question or comment--even if it disagrees with me--I'll will honestly do my best to try to get it up here and write a little something in reply.  

If we ever get to a point where there's just too much mail to answer it all, I'll pick the best questions and comments (which I promise won't simply be the most complementary). 

Rage Against the Brecheen: Hate mail--and my response to it--does so well, it deserves its own menu. Come see the teeming millions of the internet (usually anonymously) try to take me down a peg or two.

Comic Sans                                                                              That "What the Author Meant" Meme
My Top Three Achievements                                                   Bits and Pieces
Grammar Questions I Have No Business Answering               Revision Land
What Does "Good Writing" Look Like                                       Recant. Reflect. Refine.
Giving Thanks and the Oxford Comma                                    Writing Every Day
Unsupportive GF's Wrath and My Stance on Grammar            Facebook Questions
The Value of TV/Movies to a Writer                                         Speech to Text Software/Season2
What Do I Want From Writing About Writing?                          Just How Much Do You Make?
Scraping the Bottom of the Barrel                                             Should I Outline My Book?
Why can't I make money?  My friends like me                         Whatever Works
Overcoming InertiaSans Love of Writing                               Critique Groups
Strangely Inappropriate Non-Writing Questions                      Traditional vs Digital Publishing
"Creepy Guy Feedback" Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4              Little Kid's Grammar
Feedback and Follow Up (Q's about past Mailboxes)              Coming Out As Feminist
Is There Anything GOOD About an MFA?                             Questions From Facebook
Is Dead Poets Society a Shitty Movie or What                      The W.A.W. "Chris's" Persona
Why Is the Publishing Industry so Whitewashed?                 What is avant garde?
How Do I Describe Things?                                                     Tropeception Part 1 Part 2
The PC Police                                                                         Cultural Appropriation
Character Driven Zombie Stories                                           Jones and Pratchett on "Real" Literature 
What About Harper Lee's New Book                                     How Do I Write A First Sentence?
I Just Can't Write                                                                     Writing For Income

Can't find what you are looking for? Or maybe just can't get enough of these amazing answers?

Not every mailbox is destined for greatness.  Some of them have ended up down in the basement: The Not So Best of the Mailbox.