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

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Top of April (Facebook Compilation)

The new schedule is starting to take effect, although it's a bit of "two steps forward, one cliché back." My clients' cycle of payroll is still a thing (this is the ON week), and it will be some time before the other nanny is able to take on enough hours that we can fully be back to pre-covid schedules. 

For years, I didn't count all the bite-sized chunks of writing I was doing on Facebook as "writing." But it's a post here and a post there, and sometimes I spend hours a day working on that writing, so it's high time I acknowledge that fact that it "counts."

Here is a collection of the best statuses (and a few of the most popular memes) from my public Facebook page over the period of April 1st through April-15th. (You're welcome to follow me there but read up in the Facebook FAQ [last question] if you want to send me a friend request.) 

This meme doesn't apply to me directly and my specific situation, so I will refuse to see its use to anyone ELSE or society at large, and will shit all over it in your comments without the slightest nuance, concession, or contextual allowance.

-The Code of the Rando (Precept 48)

A four-year-old memory referencing the outcry against the accent of Star Trek Discovery's Captain. 

Scotty: Scottish accent

Chekov: Russian accent

Troi: "Betazoid" accent

O'Brian: Irish accent

Bashir: British accent

Picard: Light English accent

Tripp: Southern Accent

I don't know what the problem with a Chinese/Malaysian accent might be, but I'm pretty sure it rhymes with shlacism.

The J&J blood clot pause (six/seven —depending on the source—cases out of 6.8 million administered) is why I don't believe any of these stories about terrible causal insta-deaths happening because of the vaccine. Especially not somehow observed by some single healthcare worker. ("Oh the things I've seen….") 

That's just antivax nonsense trying to hide behind the social contract that you don't call people liars to their faces, and that health care workers have the inside scoop. You'd do well to ignore such stories as the manipulative lies they are. 

It would be the headline for ten news cycles if anything even LIKE that happened. It wouldn't come off the front page for a fortnight unless we went to war. One in a million and it's news. And there's a pause. And people are worried about confidence. And people are going to check to be SURE. 

No way these other stories are even PLAUSIBLE.

Abuse comes in a lot of forms and 31 flavors, and sometimes it's not even abuse—it's just a trauma response of one person that perfectly hits the abuse trigger of the other, and they will just be toxic to each other through no fault of either.




The first thing an abuser will do—the very first thing—is make sure their behavior looks like ANYTHING other than abuse.

Me vs. Supernatural ghosts.

"So now you know why I carry around these lengthwise halved hula-hoops. Just stick those suckers down OVER the salt ring, and tape them down, and it won't matter how windy the ghost makes it. Saves a bundle on being-thrown-into-walls medical bills, lemmie tell ya. But just in case, you'll notice I am wearing pads and protective gear, especially along my back. Too many baddies with telekinesis running around. 

Oh, and this little bungie cord keeps my iron weapon (that I keep with me instead of looking around for only once I've been attacked even though I know I'm hunting a ghost) from being yanked telekinetically out of my hand. LIFE SAVER.

"You have to be smart about these things."

Protip: Being SO odious and repugnant that no one wants to talk to you and they leave isn't actually the same thing as "winning" arguments.

Based on a close read of a Duran Duran song, I have determined the following about Wild Boys:

  • They have no free will. 
  • They sleep with their eyes open.
  • They have unfathomably sophisticated emotional regulation.
  • They may cover themselves in bioluminescent materials or at least some kind of oil.

Me: "I have a hangnail."
Web MD: "Stage four eponychium cancer. Get your affairs in order."

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

How to Get More of Writing About Writing (Or less. Or a different ratio of memes to posts.)

In light of Facebook's most recent epic fail, it has become apparent that even though I can't quit Facebook, I should put a few eggs in a few other baskets—diversify my social media portfolio a LITTLE, as it were. I don't quite have the kind of public profile I can just post something and it will go viral on its own as people share it hither and yon, so I have to do a lot of that effort myself. And Facebook views me ROUGHLY the same way the shark does one of those little fish that clean out the spaces between their teeth. Maybe not quite like an absolute parasite, but nothing they actually care about as long as there's an endless supply to exploit.

These aren't huge changes to how I've been operating, but they're designed to generate a little more buzz on sites like Twitter or Tumblr, and I'm going to be bringing my group's posting up to speed whether or not my page decides to follow. 

Interested in following Writing About Writing? Or Chris Brecheen as a writer?

If you're trying to follow Writing About Writing (or if you are trying to follow ME as a writer), it might actually be confusing to navigate all the different ways I am online and what goes where.

Writing About Writing is on several social media, but each medium is updated a little bit differently. Some get every post I make, no matter how major or minor. Some media are privy to a cycle of "reruns" where most days I cycle through the popular posts of the past so that new folks can see old posts they may have missed (and old fans can be reminded of treasured classics).

Some social media have different signal-to-noise. Some I update in other capacities. Some are fire and forget. In some, I post my writing that is not "about writing," like the blog NOT Writing About Writing. Other places, more strictly ABOUT writing, pretty much keep it to this blog and it's updates along with macros, puns, and "You should be writing" memes.

Here are a few questions I get a lot:

What should you follow if you want to see everything I write? 

If you like me this much, you probably want My Public Facebook Page. Follow it (or friend it if you check out the guidelines below). Though be warned that it can sometimes be like drinking from a fire hose. I will post everything I write, including reruns, but I ALSO post navel gazing, proto-posts, Jack-Handy-caliber deep thoughts, amateur political punditry, social justice thoughts, macros, silliness, and geekery. 

What should you follow if you basically want all the official posts I write, but not a bunch of crap about politics, video games, my day, or social justice?

You want My Twitter. Every post from every blog plus the reruns, and really only a few of the best writing memes A) I cross post everything I write to Twitter, but B) I don't post a LOT more there. So it is perfect noise-to-signal if you only want to see my finalized writing.

What should you follow if you basically want the Writing About Writing blog, but almost nothing else. 

You want the Writing About Writing Group. TWO posts most days (one new and one rerun). There is one meme (but only one) that is the prior day's best from the page. I almost never post from my other writing, and I almost never post more than one meme.

What should you follow if you basically want memes, puns, articles, and "you should be writing" reminders and don't really care about reading my blog?

Okay, that's cool. No no. It's fine. Really. While I put some aloe on this burn, you want the Writing About Writing page. Lots of memes, macros, puns, and comics and it's easy to scroll past the occasional post from my blog.

What should I do if I want all of these things? 

Follow the Writing About Writing Facebook PageThe Writing About Writing Facebook Group, and my Public Facebook Page. Then go to the following button on the page and set your preferences to "See First." I will warn you that you may see some repeat posts, but this if you want to miss the fewest things I post, this is the way.

All nearby Mandalorians in unison:
"This is the way"

The "Join this site" button on the left, toward the bottom of this (and every) page. 

Following Writing About Writing through Google's Blogger allows you to assemble a collection of blogs you follow. Most people following the blog this way have their own blog through Blogger, but it's not necessary. (You only actually need a Google account, which many people have through Gmail.) You will be notified when I write a new post.

Pros- Shows all updates (minor and major). Updates in a timely manner.

Cons- No reruns. No posts from any other venues. Blogger usually takes a few hours to get the latest post up.

R.S.S. Feed 

Note: Google has recently discontinued FEEDBURNER (or is about to soon—I get a lot of emails but I haven't read the latest ones), but if you still want an RSS and/or email feed, here is a page of alternatives

If you have an RSS reader, you may like to simply be updated by having your RSS feed updated with the text of my latest post. If you click on the Feedburner button AT THE BOTTOM of the page, you can subscribe to Writing About Writing through a number of RSS readers including FeedDemon, Netvibes, My Yahoo, Shrook, NewsFire, RSSOwl and more. 

One of many Feedburner alternatives at the link above.

Pros- Shows all new updates (major and minor). Updates instantly.

Cons- RSS feed does not include reruns (even the Greatest Hits I like to cycle through). No posts from other venues. Many RSS readers are JUST text, so you won't see the images that are part of the posts. Also, if you get a little behind on your feed, catching up feels Sisyphean and knowing the next update is coming feels like the sword of Damocles. (Gotta get my Greek metaphors on.)

Email Notification 

At the bottom of the right side of the page, there is an option to put your email into a text field and subscribe to W.A.W. through email notifications. Every time I post an update, you will be sent an email notification containing a link to the post. I've been told that there's even some preview text (the first 200 words or something).

Easy peasy lemon squeezy

Pros- Shows all new updates (minor and major). Updates right away.

Cons- No reruns. No posts from other venues. You probably already get ten billion emails a day.

(That heading is the link to my twitter--just click on it) 

I was off Twitter for a while when they were making excuses for not banning Nazis. They seem to have pulled back from that position and are now basically as horrible as most other social media, and sometimes outdistance even FB in not sucking ass, so I opened a new account. It's tweet of my blog posts (and reruns). But I also include images of memes that are getting a lot of attention or the occasional joke that fits in the 280 character format.

Pros- Gets all written posts by Chris (reruns, new, other blogs, everything).

Cons- Gets only a little of anything else.

(That heading is a link)

W.A.W.'s Facebook page is its whole own thing.

In order to build an audience on Facebook, I spend a lot of time posting memes, macros, "you should be writing" reminders, inspirational messages, videos, and whatever thing about writing I find interesting and want to share.

This may seem counterintuitive, but I actually try NOT TO POST TOO MUCH FROM MY BLOG. The audience I've spent years carefully cultivating will not stick around if things get spammy. Most of the FB audience is there for the shenanigans, not the blog cross-posting.

You can increase your chances of seeing posts by setting the page to "see first," but you'll never see everything……because Zucc. FB does something horrible frequently enough that if I could som

Click "See first" to see more. 
But because FB wants page admins paying money
nothing you do will ever get you everything I post.
(You have to visit the page periodically and go through our history for that.)

Pros- Lots of other fun stuff going on. 

Cons- Lots of other stuff going on which. Also the FB algorithm prevents page followers from seeing every post so some W.A.W. posts will get lost. Not a good place to get all the blog updates if you want them. Enjoying anything on FB requires a shower with steel wool and industrial cleanser. Facebook is the Antichrist.

(The heading is a link)

I joined Tumblr after Facebook's latest round of content throttling. Then Tumblr started doing it too and THEN they axed LGBTQIA+ content because of overkill compliance with Fosta/Sesta. These days I'll post all my blog stuff (reruns too) including from the non-writing blog, and a few of my well received memes very similar to my FB group except more memes and I sometimes I share other Tumblrs or something a little social justice-y. 

Pros- Blog posts from all locations. Best meme of the day. 

Cons- Somewhat limited presence on Tumblr. And I share other Tumblr posts about social issues from time to time.

(The heading is a link)

Different from the FB page, the Facebook GROUP will only have the blog posts (usually two a day) and a single macro/meme/infographic that is kind of like "The prior day's best."

Pros- Mostly just blog cross posts. (Reruns and current.) Once-a-day "best of" macro/meme.

Cons- Nothing else.

(The heading is a link) 

My Public FB profile is a melange of personal updates, posts about politics and social issues, geekery, things I find about non-monogamy, introversion, and pop culture. But it will also include some "behind-the-scene" thoughts about writing, running a page, and the creative process. (And sometimes complaining about some of the people I run into on the page itself.) If you wish there were more "Social Justice Bard" posts, this is a place where you can read the proto-versions of some of them as well as the ones that never make it to the blog.

You might want to follow for a while and decide IF you want to send me a friend request. I'm definitely not everyone's cup of tea with the geekery and the social justice stuff. 99.9% of my posts are public, so you really wouldn't be missing anything except the ability to comment.

If you don't care for my (very) occasional social issues post on other social media, you will like my profile even less. I write about that stuff almost daily. I can be a bit much for people. I post a lot. 

I have a Commenting Policy for this profile. You should read it before charging in. ESPECIALLY before charging into a contentious post. 

If you do want to "FRIEND" me, send me a PM with your request. (Don't worry, I check my "Message Requests" inbox at least once a day.) That account gets around 100-200 friend requests a week. I reject most of them because I don't know if they're there to try and rent my page or just pick a fight in the comments. So send me a message along with the request.

Pros- See more of "me." Get "behind the scene" updates. See "alpha" versions of posts and thoughts that never quite make it.

Cons- I post a LOT. I am not shy about my liberalism/leftism. 

(The heading is a link)

Yes, I even have an Instagram. It gets a couple of memes each day and a very occasional link to my blog on some super relevant picture, as well as the the occasional selfie (although self-promotion demands that I point out my Patreon selfie tier is still the best way to get those and nature pictures I take with my snazzy camera).

(The heading is a link)

Though Patreon is less of a social medium, my patrons do get pictures and content through various tiers that are not available to anyone else. Newsletters, early access to posts, and the occasional post about what's going on that my regular readers aren't privy to. 


I would love if something could replace Facebook. Anything. Right now, though, I am fettered there. For all its throttling and trying to squeeze blood from my stones, and even restricting my account for no reason and not telling me why, Facebook is what has made it possible for me to be a working writer.

Monday, May 24, 2021

I Learned Something Last Week (Meta Lessons in Writing—And Personal Update)

I learned two good writing lessons last week that I will share with you, one very logistical and the other more strategic. And because this is Writing About Writing, and that's the way we roll, I'm going to tell you all about them. They also weave in and out of some personal updates, so I guess you have to hear a little about my life.

First, a little background. Those of you following along know most of this already, but like any good series, I need a "Previously on Writing About Writing" to bring a casual viewer sitting down for the first time up to speed. 

During the pandemic I put in around 30 hours a week on nannying. Because of who could pod with my clients and have no exposure, I was alone in getting all the nanny hours I could handle—and even a few I couldn't. Sometimes my clients were able to give me a little less, and occasionally it went over. But 30 was about the average. For context, right before the pandemic started, I was trying to nanny 8-10 hours a week so that I could focus on writing. So for 16 months, I've been working about three times more hours at my non-writing job than I've needed or even wanted to.

Okay, but the cavalry has arrived, right? All's well that ends well. Other nanny is vaccinated and now I go back to the old schedule and we get back to life in the before time, right?

~sound of record scratching~

Well…not exactly. The transition is going a little slower than a flip-switch, which is totally understandable after 15 months. The other nanny has built a life in that time that can't just be dropped all at once. ("Ope. Pandemic's over. Smell ya later!") And even though I'm definitely already noticing my schedule starting to get a little easier, there are a lot of "OMG WE CAN DO THIS AGAIN!" moments that are kind of backed up in the "queue." I wrote a whole newsletter to my patrons about how the transition might be the hardest part. If for no other reason than, if one lines from end to end all the things they absolutely have been waiting until the pandemic calms down to do, they'd be completely busy for the next two months.

Last week my clients didn't need me in my traditional capacity. I did some cleaning, but the hours were flexible and light. It should have been a great time to dive back into the writing and knock out some power sessions on all the things I've been wanting to write lately. All those unblemished hours felt like the promised land to a writer who hasn't been writing because they're too busy. 

~new sound of record scratching~

Lesson 1 (the strategic existential touchy feely one): No matter how bad you want to be writing, it's really hard to shift gears on the fly. Give yourself some time.

Day in and day out—and to the howling protests of many—I bang one drum around here more than any other. And that is that folks who want to be working writers (certainly those who want to be household names or make some serious money) need to be writing daily, or almost daily. Even if it's just an hour or a half hour or sprucing up an email with the ol' razzle-dazzle.

I hear this story—or a variant—over and over again: "I couldn't write because of my schedule. But I knew that I would be able to write because I was about to get a week/ten weeks/a year off. But then when I got the time off, I still couldn't write." 

What happened to this person? Ask them and they will tell you (with absolute sincerity) that they want to be writing more than anything. What is going on? Alien Goa'uld parasite? Deeply self-unaware personas, the lot of them? Too much cheese? 

Unfortunately, the reason they're having trouble is most likely analogous to the reason someone can't just go from totally sedentary to running marathons in one step. (That's a pretty big step! ~snicker~) There usually needs to be a Couch to 5k in there somewhere. 

Writing is hard. It takes discipline to sit down when an idea isn't fresh and kicking, or when it starts to feel like work; if someone hasn't cultivated that discipline, they might be bequeathed all the time in the WORLD, but it won't make a difference. 

I write every day, but my sessions in the pandemic have shrunk to a few hours. So when I suddenly had eight, ten, twelve hours, I no longer had the stamina to keep up with what I wanted to be writing. I quickly bit off WAY more than I could chew because I was using pre-pandemic calculations for how quickly I could write. I just didn't have a ten-hour session in me anymore. I was "out of shape."

By the end of that week, I was writing closer to six hours without much trouble, and today I'm putting in a solid eight. I'm working back up to my writing pace, but it was never going to happen all at once. 

Lesson 2: Social media is a Faustian deal. (And Facebook might suck most of all.)

Social media creates an opportunity to do the self-promotion—self-promotion that ALL WRITERS (of any professional stature) must do—without sending off a hundred submissions a week and walking around your neighborhood putting your own book on commission at your local bookstores until your feet blister. Or without going to a dozen literary events as a guest so that you can earn the right to read at one. (It's considered impossibly rude, in writing circles, to only go to events if you're reading—unless you are like a featured speaker. Only going when YOU'RE up is a good way to not be invited back.) Or without sitting at an empty table for six hours at a convention, missing panel after panel you wanted to see so that you can sell five copies of your book (three to your friends who are clearly feeling sorry for you), eight people can come up to you, fiddle with your book, and put it back down, and twenty-four folks can ask you if you know where the closest bathroom is. 

I cannot stress this enough: social media is a game changer. 

However, basing your career and readership on social media is a terrible and wonderful situation to get into. It is like riding a wild T-rex. Their ass-covering policy decisions can literally tank your career. Or they can throttle their visibility algorithm and cut your readership by 90% because they're trying to get page admins to spend more money on advertising. Or maybe they send most of their mod team home for the duration of the pandemic and give the job to bots who can't tell the difference between satire and reality, or hyperbolic fixed phrases and death threats, or a glitch and spam. All things that have happened to me. 

Last week I wrote "I would kill to see my friends" and the bots tossed me in jail for 3 days. (The one-day ban about a month prior was from directly quoting someone who had used hate speech.) Then, almost as soon as I was out, I tried to post a meme from my phone, had a little trouble with it, tried a couple of times and now my account is flagged for spamming, and I can't post. I can't get a human to see that this is clearly a mistake. I can't tell how long I'm going to be unable to post. The lightning in a bottle that got me a million FB followers is amazing, but it's not really dependable. 

This is more than a little concerning considering that 90% of my readership comes through Facebook.

You're at the mercy of their whim and whimsy, and if they shut you down or ruin your career, you're an insignificant blip compared to their quest for profits. Diversify your social media presence. Have a backup person who can post if your account gets blocked. And be prepared to lose days of writing to this nonsense JUST like you would to driving around town and putting books on consignment.

That project is still going to get done—oh yes—but I'm working up to it this week. The first part of it will go up on Friday, and my early-access Patreon tier will then have a week with the main part, which will go live the following Friday. But in the course of trying to get it done last week, I learned two important lessons, and…as you know, I'm all about sharing those as soon as I learn them myself. 

~sound of record scratching~

Oh sorry…just pushed the wrong button there.

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Facebook Ban and Sequestered Work

I just caught a Facebook ban. Three days this time. Apparently the bots they use to do their moderating for them (since a roughly 250 billion dollar corporation can't pay humans for oversight, I guess), can't tell that I'm kidding when I say "I'd kill to see my friends."

Though I hate that it is so beyond the telling of it, Facebook is my primary means of self-promotion. If it weren't for Facebook, I wouldn't be making enough money from writing to scrape by. And without being able to post a link to Facebook of a new article, I'm doomed to double digit views. 

Which is just to say that from an analytics standpoint, there's very little point in publishing an article if I can't cross-post it to Facebook, so I'm going to be writing "behind the scenes" for a couple of days. I've got some quiet fixes that I'm behind on (like updating master lists and menu links). And then on Friday I will put up a heavy hitting article (as well as having more ready for next week). 

See you soon!

Monday, May 17, 2021

Tax Day and New Update Schedule

I appreciate and love every ongoing donor (through Patreon) and one time donors (through Paypal or Venmo [chris.brecheen@gmail.com]) and everyone who mails me a check, wires me money, or otherwise contributes to my ongoing survival of capitalism. I couldn't do it without you.

However the many many ways in which I receive income, and the fact that I qualify as a freelancer means that Tax Day is a nightmare. I always owe, it's always a lot, and it TAKES ME FOREVER to get it done…even with help. So I have to focus on that today.

My tax burden this year is a little over five grand. While I knew it was coming and always save up for it, if you'd like to help me ease the blow, any of the ways above would be a great means to do so.

What I am going to do (below) is cut and paste our new update schedule. Because guess what? We made it. We made it to the end of the pandemic hours. (It's not quite the end of the pandemic, but a freshly vaccinated nanny is about to start phasing in.) And that means that we actually got to the place where the nanny hours get easier, and I can start focusing on my writing.

While most of you just click the link I put on social media when you see that something I have written interests you, there actually IS an update schedule here, and as we come out of The Age of Covid, it's going to have some pretty significant changes.

Writing About Writing consists primarily of one guy who takes care of a 7-year-old and a toddler, is writing a novel, posts on another blog (and only then when his thoughts are a bit too prolific for his Facebook wall), and sometimes does really wacky shit like play D&D or even try to get laid.

Outrageous, right?

He is also a working writer though, so he better stop making a bunch of excuses and make with the clackity clack. This is the schedule we will generally make an effort to keep. I say "make an effort," but I have to be honest about three things. #1- I have written posts from my bed with 102° fever or from coffee shops out of state while on vacation or during hospital visits to people with cancer, so it is very likely that no matter what happens, you will still get more than a couple of posts a week.  #2 I am absolutely balls at keeping on top of WHAT gets updated on WHICH days, and I am likely to mix things up if I SNEEZE too hard. #3 I am still working through the full effects of the global pandemic, including going through a somewhat longer "phase out" of nanny hours when I was the only one who could do them. I'm still working too damn much at my other job even though it's less than before. Which is all to say that I'm doing my best and there will be improvement, but it's a work in progress.

Thanks to my patrons, I have been able to quit part-time teaching, pet sitting*, and cut back on the amount of nannying I do as a side gig** to focus more and more on writing. If you would like to help us write more and better updates, even a dollar a month helps me budget.

*I still have a couple of close, super-easy clients, so you might see me post about this stuff, but I don't run all over the Bay Area anymore.

**Except for during Covid when I'm the only nanny who can pod with my clients.


Monday is going to be Schrodinger's Post for now.

For the most part there will be a post, but Mondays are going to be the first to go when: 
  • Once a month I cannibalize a day of blogging to write my Patrons a newsletter. 
  • I absolutely need to spend a day or two every month just doing admin stuff for Writing About Writing (like catching up on emails, cleaning up menus, and the like), or it gets SO far behind, SO quickly. 
  • Also, I have a couple of other projects that require my time and attention including this little novel I'm only three years late in writing.
So the most I'm going to commit to until/unless we're well into our post-covid schedule is that Mondays exist in an ambiguous quantum state. I'll do "real™" posts some weeks and fluff posts some weeks and admin posts some weeks and probably NO posts some weeks.


We need (at least) one dedicated day a week to kind of take care of what I call "jazz hands," although it might be better described as "admin-ish stuff that HAS to get done at some point." It's not necessarily Total Fluff™, but it usually isn't a new article either. We are constantly running some kind of "Best Book" discussion, and the calls for nominations and posting of results take up a day of post. The review of the best posts we did in the month prior takes time. Often we have some kind of announcement or meta news. You might also see a single entry for the long-forgotten character lists or an update to one of the menus (along the top of the page).


Mailbox! Now that the chaos of the last few months is settling into the new normal, I'm going to give our most popular type of article the weekly post it deserves. Usually, it's only one question, but sometimes I can tie a few shorter ones together with a theme. If you'd like a question answered, write us at chris.brecheen@gmail.com 


Off. About the only thing I can count on from week to week at my nanny gig is that the schedule that helps them out the most is for me to come early afternoon on Wednesday with an overnight bag, stay the night sleeping next to the baby and doing all the late night wake-ups, and be there to tag in at baby o'clock on Thursday morning, so they can get some extra sleep. And while I can usually get something cooked up on a Wednesday before I leave, by the time I get home, nap to catch the sleep I've missed, 


Fridays, for the most part, will be The Big Post™ of the week. If you're here for the hard-hitting writing advice (with the occasional examination of how language and narrative play into broader social issues), Friday is the day to tune in.

The Three-Post Committment

Some weeks aren't going to go down like clockwork, and they might be front- or back-loaded with side gigs or other commitments. My writing career is also starting to open up occasional opportunities of interest like conventionsspeaking engagements, interviews, or podcasts. On the advice of my doctor, I'm trying to be better about the (literally) health-shattering 80-hour+ weeks I was working. That's a needle to thread when you are your own boss and you know that people will lower your income if they aren't getting enough of the content they want. So in the cases of major schedule upheaval, I will try really hard to get three posts up each week. They might just be posted off schedule––landing on a Saturday or Sunday, for example, but barring illness, injury, or fabulously unforeseen circumstances (usually involving toddlers and seven-year olds working their respective chaos engines in tandem) I will try hard to at least hit three.

This will go up to four once the global pandemic is over.

Priority to Fiction (The Monthly Increase)

You may have noticed that this was COMPLETELY on pause during the pandemic. But now it is back. The hardest thing I've tried doing as a blogger is keeping my fiction at a high level of priority. It's SO easy to just write a blog and call it a day. And that's what I'm getting paid for, so it's even easier.

But...as much as I've surprised even myself by discovering how much I fucking love blogging, I do want to write fiction too. And that needle is going to be one I work hard to thread. While I am getting traction out of writing an hour or so of fiction first (so that then I still have to do the blogging in order to do "a day's work"), there may still be times where the needs of fiction completely take priority over blogging.

I'm firmly in the "Write Every Day" camp. But how much I write, what I write, and what I'm impassioned to write sometimes can still be a creative ebb and flow of being at my Muse's whim.

I'm also going to try something new and interesting. Each month I'm going to take an ADDITIONAL, cumulative day off to sequester myself and work on my book (as well as possibly other fiction). I'll start with one day in January. In February, I will take two days off completely from blogging. In March it will be three. Etc....

(Hopefully I'll have something to show for it by the time Patrons might be complaining that I'm not updating enough, but I hope that the transparency and gradualness help in that regard.)

Election Week

I'm adding something that I basically realized today (3/5/2020). I'm going to take a break in our "regularly scheduled program" during election weeks. Midterms, primaries, obviously the presidential ones. I just need to acknowledge that the writing that happens will be on other blogs (like NWAW) and in other places (like my Facebook page) and that unless I am backing someone polling at 90 points, it's very, very, VERY likely I'm going to have at LEAST one day where I need to go back to bed into a pillow fort with ice cream.

We're probably done with elections for a while, but I'm leaving this here for future updates.

Facebook Writing and Social Justice Bard

Most of my major writing ends up on this blog, but some of my more throw-away thoughts don't. If you particularly enjoyed our Social Justice Bard posts, don't worry. I do as much yelling at clouds as I ever have.

I invite you to follow my Public Facebook Page (you can friend it if you send me a message, but it might be better if you follow it for a while first––unfiltered me is not everyone's cup of tea). I post somewhat more "political and partisan thoughts" there (rather than just social ISSUES) and also often post "proto-versions" of what later become full blog posts (if you're interested in seeing how those things develop). [There's also personal updates and nerdery there.]

I also have another blog called NOT Writing About Writing that I update periodically (once or more a week pre-covid, but now it's a couple of times a month in wild fits and starts), personal updates, and political thoughts that don't really tie into writing but that also aren't really short enough for Facebook.

Everything I ever write for any medium (and reruns of my best stuff) gets cross-posted to that Public Facebook Page, so join me there if you want to see everything I write.

More posts?

There MIGHT occasionally be a fourth, fifth, or even sixth (?) post in a week. Usually this will happen when I need to cover some ground on "blog business." (Like when I revise an old article so much that it deserves a fresh post, update a menu, write a new answer for our F.A.Q., or otherwise do something that needs to get done, but doesn't fit into our usual posting schedule. In this case, you might see an extra post pop up from time to time on the weekend or two in one day. Fiction will also usually go up independently of our regular schedule. It's less likely during the pandemic, but it used to happen a lot.

  • I still nanny for a seven-year-old and a toddler––usually at the same time. Plus my host body occasionally succumbs to your Earth illnesses. And every once in a couple of blue moons I even just take a damn day off. So those three posts might not always happen like clockwork or may involve going off the rails of my usual updates. Until my Patreon pays all the bills, my reality is that I sometimes have to prioritize paid gigs.
  • I maintain a Facebook page for this blog that has over a million followers. From time to time a post I put up may intersect with a social issue and then all the dillholes come out to play and I have to spend a day basically babysitting the comments. I don't love it, but it has to be done or the bigots will chase off the people I want to be there.
  • This flexible update schedule should also cut down on the thing where I'm apologizing to absolutely fucking nobody that it's Thursday and I've yet to put so much as a taco video up. I know that some people are annoyed by how often I apologize, and the rest don't really care. But this also settles my own inner overachiever. As long as I get in all the entries that week, my readers (who have literally never said anything in six years about my update schedule) and myself can give me a break.
  • I invoke the Anything Can Happen™ real world excuse. In ordinary times, I usually have a couple of "emergency blogs" tucked away, but during the pandemic, I chew through them as fast as I tuck them away. So any bump in the road hits the blog update schedule in real time. Health complications might crop up suddenly and have me needing to do a sudden, unexpected several-hour shift or even an overnight...or maybe even more. Trust me, I'm going to feel ten times worse about missing a post than all of my readers combined. 
  • Admin Long-weekends at least once a month will still be a thing. Usually just the Monday (but occasionally the Friday if I'm really behind) will be cannibalized. I need the extra time to answer emails, clean up menus, catch up on editing and such.

Also......folks, if you like what I do, support your "local" artist. (In this case "local" means more independent, amateur, and two-bit than literally down the street.) The pandemic is winding down (as are my 70 hour weeks), but there's still a long phase of transition to work through. And even if that was over tomorrow, I'd do 10 hours a week to make enough to afford car insurance and the . 

But once this pandemic is over, if you want to help me focus on writing (and not have to take freelance gigs, pet sitting jobs, and say yes to extra nanny hours), yeet a few dollars into that "tip jar" at the top left, or even better yet sign up to be a monthly patron through Patreon and get in on the back channel discussions about posting schedules, big changes, and upcoming projects. I have bills to pay like any other starving artist, and though my schedule is a lot better than it was three years ago, I'm still working two side gigs to make ends meet. Even a dollar a month (just $12 a year) will go a long way.

Note: Hi there, Mr. Elephant. I guess we should address you.

So....yeah. I ABSOLUTELY KNOW that there is a pretty loud contingent of "Who Cares!" from the other side of the Internet, and I'll give you all a nod if this isn't your cup of tea. It's cool. You do you. Posts such as this one are not my least popular kinds of posts (that honor is reserved for meta posts about why there's no regular post), but on the other hand, they can't all be me replying to social justice hate mail.  

However, I'm not going to stop posting them.

Let me say that again: I'm NOT going to stop posting them.

One of our mission statements is to keep "The Process" transparent and give you updates in real time, so there will always be an occasional post about the meta. I want people to understand that writers struggle with their own productivity, schedules, and discipline. We are constantly dissatisfied with how much we're writing (or not) and trying to redefine ourselves. I want folks to see that someone who is making a paycheck doesn't have all the answers. I want them to see how their work/life balance matters, and how easy it is to fall into working TOO much or not enough, and either one causes problems. I want them to see that a successful blog doesn't require nine updates a week (and, in fact, that's too many). And I want them to see how artists are constantly struggling to fiddle with the knobs and get it just right because we are at once human with our ambition and drive, but also human with our INCESSANT need to eat and have shelter. We don't just eat rainbows and shit brilliant prose. Even if a follower or fan never uses my own update schedule or productivity demands on myself as a formula for their own success, let it be a comfort realizing how flawed and human working writers can be.

I want you to see how messy and non-magical it all is.

Friday, May 14, 2021

More Assertive—Upcoming Change to Book Recommendation Solicitation (Meta)

This week has been me doing a reenactment from every movie where the protagonists ability to "Get Back Up" is portrayed by having them get their ass kicked (repeatedly) harder and harder. Personally I'm a fan of Captain Marvel's, but The Last Samurai illustrates this pretty well too (despite its other issues). There were dustups on Facebook and personal upheavals and unscheduled nanny hours and…..

Which is all just to say that today (with another nanny shift in just a few minutes) is a great day just to tell folks following on social media about a small change that might have a big impact on a few of you.

I've been noticing the participation in our nomination polls is going down, even with a couple of reminder posts trying to point back to the original post. A quick and informal poll led me to the conclusion that not everyone is seeing the calls for recommendations. Algorithms being what they are (particularly Facebook's), people just don't see the post where I'm asking for nominations. 

So I'm going to get a lot more assertive about reposting that first link calling on recommendations. If you're someone following close, you might see it five or six times throughout the course of a book recommendation cycle. That's to give more people the chance to see it AT ALL, but a few of you following closely may find it gets a little spammy feeling, and I apologize for that.

(Also…next week there's NO nanny hours on my schedule, so I'm going to be using the time to do some epic writing. And the new nanny is already starting to phase in, so the changes should start taking root.)

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Best Stand Alone Sci Fi Book (that is technically part of a series)

What is the best Science Fiction Book that COULD stand alone, but is part of a series?

We're not doing polls anymore, but we are doing extensive lists of book recommendations (and hopefully some good commentary on why those books are so beloved.)

I had to babysit my Facebook page yesterday, and I'm still healing the "psychic damage" from all that today (and a serious week of nanny hours is about to start). So today I'm going to just remind everyone that we have a book rec conversation going on RIGHT NOW.

If you haven't already, please don't forget to pop over to the original page to drop that nomination, see what else has been nominated already, second (all) those you agree with, and check up on the rules (there are a FEW after all). 

Keep in mind, as there have been some charming A/V media adaptations (and a few terrible ones), that this is a poll about BOOKS. If you loved one or more film or TV adaptations of Dune, but found Frank Herbert's original novel to be like chewing cardboard, you should nominate something else. 

Again, please remember to go to the original page to drop your nomination (and familiarize yourself with the rules if you haven't yet). If you put it anywhere else (including a Facebook comment on this post) it will not be counted.

Thank you all for joining in our Book Rec Conversation. I've really loved reading all your comments about the books you treasure and why.

Monday, May 10, 2021

Cannibalized Post

It's going to be a wild week here. I've got more hours scheduled than most normal mid-pandemic weeks, to say nothing of the recent efforts to start phasing me out. I've still got some admin stuff and the middle of the week might afford me just enough time to drop a real article by Friday.

Today's regular post got cannibalized to work on the April newsletter. That's technically the APRIL newsletter, so there might be another lost Monday as I catch up and try to get MAY's newsletter out on time.

Friday, May 7, 2021

Facebook Compilation (Bottom of March)

Though it's going to be a few weeks—for reasons both emotional and logistical—until the new schedule has really "seeped in," I made it to May! We're here! Vaccines in the arm. Side effects weathered. Peeps starting to hit their efficacy date. Options opening up. A second nanny to tag in on some of the hours. Schedules relaxing their vise grip. 

For years, I didn't count all the bite-sized chunks of writing I was doing on Facebook as "writing." But it's a post here and a post there, and sometimes I spend hours a day working on that writing, so it's high time I acknowledge that fact that it "counts."

Here is a collection of the best statuses (and a few of the most popular memes) from my public Facebook page over the period of March-16th through March-31st. (You're welcome to follow me there but read up in the Facebook FAQ [last question] if you want to send me a friend request.) 

Y'all literally stopped in MID SENTENCE about the horrors of cancel culture to run and try to cancel Lil Nas X.

In case you're, like, wondering why NO ONE takes your fucking bullshit faux outrage seriously.

Righty roo. 

I'm not going to go on walkabout on a quest to shit in other people's sandcastles about their any-excuse-to-drink-to-excess holiday attached to sort of vague secular celebrations of Lotsa-things-that-aren't-actually-other-cultures-mixed-in-with-a-couple-that-are™. Maybe this is just Irish-culture appreciation day to you, and you want some corned beef and cabbage. 

You do you.

But here in my space, let me just remind you that it wasn't actually SNAKES that ol' "saint" Patrick removed from Ireland with a jaunty beat on his happy, harmless drum. Also, while Patrick lived at a time where he wouldn't have had the might to coerce or harm pagans, and may have mostly just done some slick-ass appropriation of pagan rituals in some proto-colonialism moves to make Catholicism easier to swallow, and was personally responsible for no terrible incident greater than "spreading Christianity," it's not like things stayed innocuous between those two groups. 

Animals in green hats are cute tho.

Dear cishet white Christian dudes,

You are confusing not being in hegemonic control of absolutely every possible narrative, space, conversation, perspective, social hierarchy, political outcome, economic fortune, and media representation with persecution. But trust me that some hurty-wurty fee-fees on Twitter, a movie or three starring people who don't look like you, a person who has a different truth that you can't silence, and you being down to like hegemonic control of only 90% of that stuff, isn't actually persecution.

Me watching some other content generator or artist take a day off: 

"Good! They deserve it."

Me watching some other content generator take a sick day:

"Absolutely understandable. Hope they feel better soon."

Me watching some other content generator take a day off or cancel something because they're getting a vaccine or working on another project: 

"That makes total sense. They have more than just this one thing going on. They get to have lives."

Me cancelling a blog post for literally ANY reason at all:

"I am the worst sort of imposter, and my readers hate me."

"Millennials blew up this. Millennials killed that industry. Millennials needed trophies. Millennials are too soft. Millennials aren't buying enough of X. Millennials didn't have enough kids. Millennials are ruining everything."

~crickets chirping in the otherwise silent night~

"Boomers sure are hard on Millennials. Maybe they should think about their culpability in what their kids/grandkids are doing."


The Alt Right doesn't really believe the election was stolen, and you can tell that when you listen to them speak. (They make linguistic "slips" that someone with post-structuralist attention to language finds it piss easy to notice.)

What they are really doing is claiming to believe in whatever would need to be true in order to score points against the left. It's classic postmodern conservatism. It's basically an ongoing game of "Own the libs." They legitimately DO NOT CARE if this is true, but like most of their racist, sexist, homophobic, and transantagonistic opinions, it is simply useful to them not to really unpack their own beliefs about why they hate what they hate.

The Patriarchy Playbook (Page 2)

Step 1- Convert all negative emotions into anger. (Grief? Anger. Envy? Anger. Sadness? Anger.)

Step 2- Deny that men's anger even IS an emotion. (It's always "a justified response.") 

Step 3- Call women "hysterical" for having the slightest anger at their own mistreatment and "emotional" for acknowledging they have emotions at all.

Step 4- Now they can all be dismissed as overly emotional/hysterical/out of control. And you control the narrative!

Step 5 (Very important)- Use feminizing language on any man who threatens this hegemony by acknowledging emotions, processing, seeking therapy, etc… Call them cuck, simp, girls names, whatever it takes to try to emasculate them. They are a threat to your power.

Pro-Tip/Step 6- Repeat as necessary for other intersections (race, sexuality, gender identity beyond the binary, etc…)

In Billy Crystal's voice:

Turns out your bigotry is only MOSTLY hidden by your plausibly deniable "adjacent concerns," demonstrably false claims, and cognitive dissonance to facts.

And ~mostly~ hidden…..is slightly piss obvious. 

Switches to regular voice:

See, what I'm saying is, you aren't really fooling anyone. If we blew you up with a bellow and pushed on your chest, you would tell us the part you know you're not supposed to say out loud.

Can Shrimp-in-my-cereal guy be a milkshake duck AND General Mills is probably pushing any story (ANY story) to get the national focus off of what was—even if it wasn’t a true story—a gaslighting, abysmal response?

Can the world have enough nuance for TWO assholes?

Chris's Pass/Agg theater of the day:

Oh, Sweetpea……I'm not talking about THIS mass shooting. I'm talking about the one that is juuuuuuuuuust on the other side of whatever imaginary "How-can-you-talk-about-this-so-SOON?" Rubicon that is in your head. Is it a day? A week? A month? It doesn't matter! Whatever the time table is, there was a mass shooting just before the most recent one. 

THAT'S the one I'm talking about. 


I'm a theoretically-radical leftist. I don't have a problem with "guns." But maybe the best day to have the conversation about how easy they are to procure and where might be an actually reasonable line between colonial era muskets and civilian-owned rocket launchers was actually last week.

When someone says, "Sharks attacked me so now I'm profoundly hydrophobic," you seem to understand that you don't need to jump up and say, "not ALL water!"

You don't interrupt someone telling you about how the birds at the beach stole their fries with "Not ALL birds act like that!" 

If I say, "I love ice cream," you don't feel a need to point out that because I've never tried pickle garlic nutmeg licorice horseradish flavor, and would likely hate it that ~clearly~ "Not ALL ice cream!" 

Perhaps most telling, when I say, "Men can be wonderful parents," you do not jump up and say "Not ALL men!" Though that would certainly be an actually appropriate place to do so. But in this moment, you seem already to understand that ALL men everywhere are not what’s being discussed.

What I'm saying is that your sudden inability to tell the difference between metonymy and synecdoche when talking about ubiquitous and cultural problems caused by gender inequality versus an actual hasty generalization that gets applied to marginalized groups to villainize them isn't nearly as slick as you think it is.

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Best Stand Alone Sci-Fi Book That is Technically Part of a Series (Book Reccomendations)

What is the best Science Fiction Book that COULD stand alone, but is part of a series.

Maybe it's part of a trilogy, but the other books are absolutely lackluster. Maybe there are companion novels written in the same world and with overlapping characters, but just were not up to the One Book™. Maybe the author wrote a sequel or a prequel years later but it is their foundational work that really gets attention. Maybe you've never even HEARD of the other books, but they do exist. 

We're going "off script" for our next book recommendation conversation since so many folks offered up books already (for our last conversation) that turned out to be part of a series or have a sequel or something.

Remember, we shifted things up about six months ago. Instead of trying to figure out what more people think is the BEST (which usually turns into which book has the coolest movie adaptation anyway), we're just going to have a nice chat about good books and all come away with some suggestions for our To Be Read Pile™. We'll still have the system of seconds (and "thirds" and "fourths"), but all that will really determine is which goes to the top of the list when I post the results. You can go HERE to see what the results will look like when all is said and done. And I'll link out the original nomination post for folks who want to go see what people are actually saying about the book. Eventually these posts listing the results will be compiled in a massive "book recommendation" post.

Today we're doing "stand alone" science fiction that isn't ACTUALLY stand alone. But to be clear, we're talking about books that COULD stand alone, not just "the exceptionally good first book in a trilogy" or something.

However this does mean we have a small list already ready to go! But do notice there's no copyright year limitation, so the book can have been published before 1980, unlike our last poll. 

The Sparrow by M. D. Russell
Emergence_ by David R. Palmer
This Alien Shore, C. S. Friedman 
Who Fears Death, N. Okorafor 
Oryx and Crake, M. Atwood 
Hyperion, D. Simmons 
Crescent City by Sarah J. Maas. 

The Rules

  1. Make two recommendations. Obviously, I can't stop anyone from making fifteen, but nothing beyond the first two will make it onto the master list. Because I am a meanie meanhead.
  2. TELL US ALL A LITTLE ABOUT WHY YOU LIKE THE BOOK (or short story) although obviously do so without spoilers! If you just drop a title name and it gets all the seconds, I'm still going to list it, of course, but the whole point of this is to have a "conversation" and gush a little about the books you think are great, exciting, well written, or unforgettable and a little (spoiler-free) squee about why.
  3. For each recommendation, let us know if you're nominating it more as a BEST book in the genre or an UNDERSUNG HERO in the genre. Basically "undersung hero" is for books you think are great, tragically overlooked, NEED to be read by everyone (like…yesterday), but are maybe not necessarily the besty bestest best. They'll all end up in the list I compile, but I'll put them in different places.
  4. As always, I leave the niggling over the definition of genres to your best judgement because I'd rather be inclusive. If you want to nominate The Many Colored Land as science fiction (even though it's probably better placed as fantasy), you should show your work if you desire those sweet, sweet seconds (or thirds....or fourths) and there might be a discussion thread after your comment with a lot of people writing out the "If I may…"
  5. Your book must be part of a series or more than tangentially related to a fictional universe. It must have a sequel, prequel, be part of a series, or be part of a massive world (like Discworld). If it makes little more a reference to another book like once or twice is clearly taking place in the world of another book without being a sequel, prequel, or a grand unified series, it wouldn't count for this poll. (Sometimes Stephen King books have a small allusion to one of his earlier works. This wouldn't count as there are only a few S.K. books that are really sequels.) 
  6. You get to mention two (2) books. That's it. Two. You can do one BEST and one UNDERSUNG HERO. Or you can do two BESTS. Or you can do two UNDERSUNG HEROES. But two is the total. If you nominate three or more, I will, with unimaginable cruelty, simply ignore the third and any subsequent books. I'm sorry that I'm a stickler on this, but it's just lil ol' me compiling this list by myself and it's a pain when people drop a spinosaurus list of every single book they can remember in the entire genre. However, you list more than two books and your third or later choice gets a second, I'll consider everything. (Even though that matters a lot less than it did when I was counting seconds to see which titles made the poll––see below.)
  7. Did I mention two?
  8. You may (and absolutely should) give a second shout out to AS MANY nominations of others as you wish. There is no more poll, so this will not be a cutthroat competition to see who makes it to the semifinals. It will simply dictate which titles I list first, and it may influence which books someone considers a good recommendation. ("This one got six seconds, and that one only got two, so I think I'll start with this one.")
  9. Put your nominations HERE. I will take nominations only as comments and only on this post. (No comments on FB posts or G+ will be considered nominations.) If you can't comment for some reason because of Blogger, send me an email (chris.brecheen@gmail.com) stating exactly that and what your nomination is, and I will personally put your comment up. I am not likely to see a comment on social media even if it says you were unable to leave a comment here. 
  10. You are nominating WRITTEN fiction, not their A/V portrayals. If you thought The Martian was a great movie, but never really could get through Weir's written version, please nominate something else. (I love film, but it's a different medium.) 
  11. Have a conversation, but check the typical internet assholery at the door. If someone likes something you think is terrible, it's okay to let them enjoy it. And if someone has one tight and polite bit of criticism about your recommendation ("I was not a fan of the X plot arc or the way that author writes women."), it's okay that they didn't care for it and there's no need to defend it like they have impugned you honor for seven generations.  I **WILL** delete shitty comments, and I absolutely know that's highly subjective, so better to err on the side of nice. 
  12. TWO!