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

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Best Horror (Reminder to Vote)

What is the horror genre book (or series)? Come vote on our reader-generated poll. 

Hi folks! I'm back. The power is on. Writing...well the writing itself never stopped, but writing with a schedule and an agenda has resumed. Tomorrow we are off as usual for Wednesday (though if things go swimmingly, I'd love to get something posted on NOT Writing About Writing), Thursday and Friday should basically be business as usual. Next week I'm aiming for "inspired." Thank you to everyone who sent me words of compassion through my wargable table flip.

Only two weeks and two days remain in our best horror poll. Results go up on Halloween. I'm sorry I have to remind everyone so aggressively on these polls, but ever since Facebook fucked Page admins as a cash grab throttled the content of pages I have to do twice as many "Come on, folks!" to get half the response.

Everyone will get three (3) votes. Use them....wisely.

The poll itself is on the bottom left of the side menus, below the "About the Author."

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Fuck This. See You Next Week.

Folks, I tried.

In regards to my last post, I tried to slip out and find a place with power and keep going. The show must go on and shit, right?

Places are closed. Traffic is ridiculous because public transit is fucked up. People are acting like The Purge is going to start here when the sun goes down. (Hopefully it's at least the more recent ones.) And of course losing power for a few hours is inconvenient. Losing it for several days is life-disrupting.

And I live along a corridor where I could drive ten minutes in either direction and get power. I'm honestly worried about folks who are stuck and way out on their own.

Everything is taking so much longer. It's not just about power (although it is about spending an hour trying to figure out where you're going to go once they shut it off). It's about spending forty-five minutes out of a regular day making arrangements with friends in Oakland to not to lose everything in the freezer. It's about having a shower routine that takes twice as long because you're working out of your travel bag. It's about being nickeled and dimed until you sit down to write and realize you have only one and a half hours until you have to tag in at job two.

Perhaps I could have weathered this if power loss were the only thing happening. It's not. I've been building towards a table flip for a while. This week has been filled with extra nanny hours and I've been working more like 70-75 hours instead of 60 and six days a week for months. The table flip may even go back to the vacation that wasn't particularly relaxing, or perhaps even further to a strange grief-stricken few days and a loss of sleep so acute that I'm STILL working on it.

The online landscape I usually inhabit seems particularly fraught too. Is it just me or are people being a little extra mean lately? I mean of course there's the news. There's ALWAYS the news these days. But there's also friends responding to this whole days-without-power fiasco by charging in on their worried, frustrated, and upset friends to defend the poor maligned multi-billion dollar corporation with what sure looks a lot like shiny PR-firm-generated talking points. Nationally we now have an executive branch that has decided the separation of powers (upon which the framework of our government is built) is for chumps. We appear to be at one of those moments where little Chrises in history class say, "But Mister Ballard, why would they throw away democracy? It just doesn't make SENSE."

I shouldn't say that everything has gone wrong because then my computer will burst into flames and I will collapse in agony as another kidney stone rips its way out of me. But that's it. I'm done. Life can have this round.

I'm out for the weekend and I'll keep the memes coming on the Facebook page, but I renounce the end of this week. I forsake it! I excommunicate today and tomorrow from my blogging life.

Hopefully by Tuesday (Monday is a holiday and I will be on a long drive home anyway) I will have had a good night's sleep, my freezer will work, and I will be able to put in a day of writing without first spending an hour figuring out when and where I might be able to do so.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Poll: Best Horror (Time to Vote!)

What is the very best horror written by Stephen King genre book (or series)?  

Our latest poll is live!  Come vote!

Our poll was pulled from your nominations, and that means I just have to shut up and love it that one author is thrice represented while some other giants (even classics like Dracula) didn't even get a nod. Currently I'm running away from PG&E blackouts, and trying to write six days worth of work in three days so I can go to Disneyland this weekend and not be racked with guilt on Mr. Toad's Wild Ride.

Let me just make ONE caveat. This poll is about BOOKS. It's about writing. If you thought the new It movie was a masterpiece of CGI and suspense but found the book to be endless in its rambling tangents, then please do not vote for the book.

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

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.

This poll will be up until October 31st. On Halloween, we tally the results.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Emergency Post

I pretty much live in the dead center of this blob shape.
Hi everyone,

I'm writing tonight to let you all know that our update schedule might get a little borked over the next couple of days, but I will do my best. Where I live in California is right in the middle of one of the areas that PG&E has said they will be turning off power to starting....well in about two and a half hours.

There's a whole story to this that would make for a great chapter in the So What's So Bad About Capitalism Anyway book, but I'll spare you. The end result is that I may be without power for FIVE DAYS.  (And while I wasn't likely to be around this weekend anyway, that's going to mess up EVERYTHING between now and Friday.) The local stores are out of everything and people are already acting like it's Lord of the Fucking Flies up in here.

My clients live in a place that should have power, and are pretty cool about my being there in a pinch, even if I'm not watching the kids, so I will probably have SOME options for WiFi and charging my computer. I've got everything plugged in that can be, including mobile batteries. (Honestly, it looks like the worst part logistically is likely to be the freezer food. Of course there's no ice for fifty miles.)

So blog posts might be at weird times or go up this weekend or next week or who even knows. It's all going to depend on things that are out of my control. But I'll do my best.

Which reminds me (since you're all here anyway).....
I'm giving you one extra day to fill out the nominations on the horror poll.

Currently these are the only titles that have enough "seconds" (two or more) to go on to the poll.

The Shining
Pet Semetery 
Heart Shaped Box Joe Hill
House of Leaves Mark Z. Danielewski
The Haunting of Hill House S. Jackson

I'm NOT going to run a poll with four measly titles. (And EVERYTHING that got a second would make for too many choices.) I need at least two, but preferably four more titles to get another second. And if they don't, I'll play kingmaker with a few of my personal favorites.

I'd rather YOU all did it.

Monday, October 7, 2019

July, August, September 2019's Best

It seems the last time I posted the three best posts of the month was June, so I'm a little behind. (It suits me fine to have some admin to do this today because I'm suddenly playing "catch up" and "get ahead" simultaneously as I realized with a that's-not-a-moon horror that a trip with my nanny clients and the kids to Disneyland that was "sometime in October" was this weekend. I swear my mental calendar still thinks it's late September.

In any case, these are the titles that will be going on to fame and glory in the Greatest Hits Menu.

July

The Buy-Me-Lunch Answer About My Sexuality
Based on an earlier post about my gender, this one was wildly popular.

Types of Editing (Basics)
There's more than one type of editing, and a lot more than just proofreading.

Farewell to a Friend, New Schedules, And Random Assorted Things (Personal Update)
A very sweet girl left us in July.

August

Sapiosexual
There's a history to this word, but not everyone knows it.

Proposal vs. Proposition
They're similar words but there IS a difference.

The Lesser Writer (Mailbox)
"In the hands of a lesser writer...." Wait what if I'M that lesser writer?

Honorable Mention (Missed 3rd place by four pageviews)

The Elders Did It (I Am the Night) 

There are some characters that are always going to be better at some things. So how does a writer incorporate that into storytelling?

September 

Writing Query Letters (The Very Basics)
How does one write a query letter?

Writing in Grief
Why September got a little weird (and honestly I'm still catching up)

Small Press or Agents First
Should I be sending my stuff to agents or small presses first?

Friday, October 4, 2019

Dialogue (Mailbox.....sorta)

How do I write dialogue?  

[Remember, keep sending in your questions to chris.brecheen@gmail.com with the subject line "W.A.W. Mailbox" and I will answer one or two of them every week or so. 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. And don't be afraid to prompt me to get off my ass and do some REAL work with the answer (they can't all be questions about threesomes).]

Steph asks:   

Hi!

I was hoping you could help. How do I write strong, realistic dialogue?

Thanks!

My reply:

It's been a long week and I'm still catching up from being on vacation, so I certainly hope that our question for this week is a softball right over the plate....

*opens mail*

*sighs*

*looks at current list of craft articles*

*looks at calendar...particularly the year*

*sighs again*

*presses a button on the desk*

"Cedrick, hold my calls."

"You don't get any calls."

"Well don't.....well....then just watch the door."

"You mean the dor?"

"How can you tell over voice???"

"I just can."

"Just see that I'm not disturbed."

"From my vantage you are one of the most disturbed––"

"I NEED TO DO SOME ACTUAL WORK!"

"Why didn't you just say so? I have eight arms here. I can hold down the fort and still do my nails. I'll hold your calls."

*lets go of the button, shaking head*

*turns back to post*

Steph.

Steph steph steph.....

I mean it's not like I was in danger of having a week that was too easy or anything, Steph. But okay.

It would seem that it's about that time. Actually, it seems like it's way past that time. It's certainly been long enough since the last time. I try to make it that time every couple of months or so, but such times are so labor-intensive, that it never works out that way. Who knew watching a baby and a five-year-old might occasionally involve some extra work that cuts into the ol' writing schedule? WHO COULD HAVE PREDICTED THAT?

It's time to get a new craft essay up.

This one.....about dialogue. That ever elusive, oft underlooked, massively important part of almost all fiction. This is one of those illusions that we writers have to learn how to create: how to make dialogue on the page (that is like NO conversation two people in the world have ever had) feel "real." Make it good, and scenes just flow like water. Make it stilted, and it tears your reader right out of anything you spent building up to that point.

And I can't just say "Double dip that shit" and then drop the microphone and call it a week.

So.....Steph. You're not going to get your answer today. These craft essays are HARD. They take me a long time. I lock myself down and do about five hours of research (not because I don't know my shit on the fly, but I treat this as srs bzns. I like to get my pull quotes lined up, and make sure my t's are crossed and my i's dotted. You're basically getting my college essay-writing A game.

I'm going to put myself on lockdown and start working on this. My experience is that these type of posts take me around 10-15 hours total. So if I'm superfly, it'll be done before the weekend is over.

HERE'S WHERE IT GETS TRICKY!

  1. I am rarely, if ever, truly superfly.
  2. A post like this is definitely going to be a Friday post. (So the earliest you'll see it is a week from today.)
  3. My early access patrons have been MORE than patient with me through September and they need an early access post. If all goes well and I'm wrapping this up on Sunday, I'll put it up for them Monday and make it live on Friday. However, if it looks (even remotely) like I'm not going to be able to finish this by Sunday night, I'm going to set it aside and write something else for next Friday's (11th) post that I can give them first crack at. 
  4. If #3 happens, this Dialogue article will get bumped to the NEXT Friday. October 18th.
  5. I'm not even going to apophasistically mention how many weeks back that is going to bump the article I was writing for the Friday before I left to Yosemite. Nope. Not doing it.
  6. Ten hours may not seem like much but even five a day is pretty robust for me on the weekends. I don't really sit around playing World of Warcraft on my days "off." This weekend I have a sixth-day nanny shift, and I was hoping to finish the gun article, make some headway on my compilation e-book, take a hike at some point, CLEAN MY FUCKING POST-APOCALYPTIC DISASTER MOVIE SET OF A ROOM, and probably force myself to get out of the house to catch a movie so that I don't use "I have to catch up from my vacation" as an excuse to overdo it. (Yes, I'm one of those people who sometimes have to schedule a nap to make sure I'm being kind to myself.)
  7. Which is all by way of saying that you are a top priority but life has a way of rapid-fire shooting multiple Krull Glaives all up in the grill of my best laid plans.

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Hi Everyone!

Well, this is a little awkward, so I'll get straight to the point: I know you haven't seen me at my best this last month, and I hate making appeals in the middle of a slump, but I hope that you can glance through the archive and see that over time, I serve up some pretty good writing about writing. Today is the first of two times a month (once a month directly to social media and once a month here on the blog) that I humbly ask you to help me keep the rent paid and the health insurance premiumed. Right now I can't quite make all the ends meet with just writing alone (I won't die, but things like insurance, my cell phone, and brand name peanut butter take a little extra), and I have to work as a nanny to make ends meet.

Many of my nanny hours will be going away in just a few months. That will be a mixed blessing. More time to write, but I will have to dip a little into savings each month to get by. That means I'll probably take any passing freelance job or side gig that comes along. And THAT takes me away from writing––at least the writing that you folks can see and appreciate.

Remember, you don't just get Writing About Writing. There are some personal and political thoughts along with media reviews over at NOT Writing About Writing, and I often use my personal Facebook page for bite-sized thoughts and proto-versions of things I'm thinking about. And there's "the show" on the Writing About Writing Facebook Page––where I share memes, humor, articles about everything writing, and puns all day. And anything else I write for other venues will end up here as well. Always free as well as (I hope) ad free but it takes 20+ hours a week to keep it all going and is a full time job if I really want to do it right.

At this time, I depend completely on donations and patrons for my writing income. As with most donation-based media, the tiniest handful of folks (less than .1%) are creating the experience the other 99.9% get to enjoy. I know it's a tough time right now. We're heading into a recession and everywhere you look someone's trying to crowdfund some unexpected expense. However, if even 1% of everyone who stopped by gave a dollar, I would be able to write full time without a side gig for years to come. If a couple dozen people pledged at the $3 level, I'd be heading into 2020 to give writing an even more robust full-time schedule without needing to worry about recessions, cut nanny hours, or dipping into my savings. I know that most people will ignore these appeals. But if you like my work and want it to keep seeing it (and more OF it), please take a moment and see if you can't spare a couple of dollars.

There are two ways to help.

I prefer if you become a Patron through Patreon. Even a small donation goes a long way, and with Patreon, I can budget and plan for the future. Plus, it doesn't take much to get in on some of the most active and robust reward tiers.

Or if an ongoing donation is not in your cards, of course you can always make the one-time kind through Paypal. Or Venmo (at chris.brecheen@gmail.com)

Lastly, these posts will never do particularly well organically, and it is the nature of social media that I cannot reach everyone who wants to see my content. If you don't have the financial means to support us financially, but still want to help (or would like to help doubly), please engage with this post. (Shares and GIF comments are particularly good for the algorithm.)

Thank you all so much,

Chris

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

October's SPOOPY Poll (Spoopy Nominations Needed but Especially Spoopy Seconds...and Thirds...and Fourths...)


What is the best book in the horror genre? 

Contemporary? Classic? Scariest? Best written? This poll needs your nominations, but it especially needs your seconds (and thirds and fourths...) Listen up! Because last month's lack of semifinals means that the rules have changed a little.

You can pop back here for the original rules (that's where you need to put your nominations, seconds, and "seconds" anyway, but let me tell you what has changed.

So we didn't get QUITE enough nominations to run an elimination round of semifinals.

But I'm also NOT going to run this poll past Halloween. That's the day I post the SPOOOPY results. Which means we now do not have TIME for a pair of semifinal rounds. We are stuck doing ONE poll. And that poll is going up in ONE week. Whether we have seven nominations or seventy.

However, that poll will only be going up with a maximum of ten choices.

And here is where the rules change is important.

How I will decide WHICH ten titles go onto the poll will be by how many "seconds" a title gets. I know that means they are technically "thirds" "fourths" whatever, but that will be the determining factor. If there are twenty titles with only one "second" and seven titles with TWO "seconds," I'll be making our poll out of those seven titles.

So you have ONE more week to nominate a new title (and drum it up some support) if you don't see your beloved favorite horror genre book already in the running. But most of all we need you to GO TO THE ORIGINAL POST and second everything you would like to see make it onto our poll.