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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?

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Best Horror Book (or series) Results

The results are in. Your nominations. Your votes. Your extra votes. Your leaning on your friends to vote votes. And thank you all so much for such a robust response this time around. Though I'm always a little like "yeah okay whatever...shockingly shocking" when Stephen King sweeps it, were even able to get a nice spread so that there wasn't a six way tie for third place or something.

Text results below
I will try to get these results put on our permanent results page (along with the undersung heroes) this weekend.


The Shining - S. King 55 23.91%
It - S. King 38 16.52%
The Haunting of Hill House - S. Jackson 35 15.22%
Pet Sematary - S. King 29 12.61%
House of Leaves - M. Z. Danielewski 25 10.87%
Drowning Deep - S. McGuire (writing as M. Grant) 21 9.13%
Southern Reach Trilogy - J. Vandermeer 16 6.96%
Heart Shaped Box - J. Hill 11 4.78%



Friday, October 25, 2019

11 Reasons Fame Probably Doesn't Look Like You Think It Does (The Renown Margin) Part 1

Reminder: I'm not famous. You probably haven't seen me on TV. (Particularly since I've never been there.)

But there are a few places where the edges of my life experience have begun to crinkle in that direction. I'm closing in on a million Facebook followers and though most of those people are there for the puns, and wouldn't know me if I were standing next to them comparison-shopping Skippy vs. Kirkland peanut butter at Costco, I've been recognized on the street, had my work recognized by fellow passengers on trains and planes (and technically automobiles, but usually those were my friends), had weird offers of marriage from strangers, have been sent unsolicited sex pictures, had people I've never met talk to me like we were old friends, had people who were not mentally well fixate on me and frighten me, and turned down an awful lot of offers to use my platform to promote someone else's work.

I'm going to say this now. I have a hard time calling myself "famous." Because A) I'm really not what you would call FAMOUS––more like English-speaking Q list Internet celebrity, and B) it just feels SO FUCKING PRETENTIOUS MY TEETH ITCH AND I CAN'T EVEN STAND IT!!!


Story time:

I went on an OKCupid date on Friday (one week ago). This was a first meeting with someone who messaged me, which one of my friends calls the "actually-more-like-an-interview" date. Fortunately the clipboard and the "where do you see yourself in five years?" questions never came out, but I have to admit that description is probably more accurate than "date," when it comes to that very first meeting of someone you've only "met" briefly online. Trying to find out what people are into, what their plans are, if you can fit into those plans...or if you want to. And of course, the chemistry test. It may not be based upon any traditional bellwethers of attractiveness, and may be more about "connection," but it's happening just the same.

My "interview" didn't go well. I'd had a very tough week, was very tired, and the only reason I didn't flake is the fear that that would seem even worse. I was disengaged and I can't even count the number of Hagrid-esque "I shouldn't a' said that. I should NOT have said that," moments. (I kind of vacillate between thinking that I maybe just seemed a bit quiet and subdued, to being absolutely sure that I wasn't asking enough engaging questions, let her do all the conversation's heavy lifting, and clearly came across like a total narcissist.) And the less said about the half swallow of soda that decided to be brave, bold, contrarian, and venture off on its own direction exactly at one of those she's-looking-right-at-me moments, the better. At the end I dropped her off at the BART and she thanked me politely and slipped out of the car without another word.

So...yeah. Not so great.

A few of my friends are outright confused that I would ever put time and energy into online dating. Why would I take the time to fill out a profile when I can just wave my hand and summon attractive partners from all over the planet like a 1st edition 12th level Barbarian summoning a horde or something? ("Come to me HOTTIES!!!!!!! AAAAAAAAH!!!") Can't I just put out the word that I'm accepting applications and watch the resumes come pouring in? Can't I just flip the sign to "OPEN," spread my arms out and suggestively say, "Who wants in on all this?" Don't I just walk into social clubs and say "Do you know who I am?" and the maître d claps and two incredibly attractive people appear, as if from nowhere, and each take one of my arms.

Excuse me. Excuse me. Friend here. Sorry to bust in on this post. I know it's highly unorthodox, but I need to set this record straight. I never said any of this shit. I just said I didn't think Chris would have any trouble finding a date on a Friday night.

Thank you and carry on.


It occurs to me that most people don't really know how things do and don't change as some level of notoriety begins to take hold. People do recognize me and some clearly let who I am affect how they treat me. But it's NOT a consistent upgrade (like the VIP room of life or some shit) and it's often just as likely to alienate me as be a point of instant connection.

I don't know what it's like when you're the lead singer in an eighties hair band, but I'm pretty sure at lesser levels of "fame," it doesn't look anything like most people think it does. So here are a few things (not all of them necessarily about dating or romance) that I'm learning. Things I didn't know (and maybe you didn't either) about fame:

1- Being "famous" (*scratches teeth*) has a lot to do with the room one is in.

I've been in rooms where everyone is there to see me. That's fun! Let me just say that right away. It's a LOT of fun! They ask questions. They nod. They take notes better than my students, even when it absolutely was going to be on the test. I have to be present in the moment, of course, but I don't have to "drive" the interaction. I don't have to worry about if I was talking too much or wonder if the lull in the conversation was enough that I should definitely be the one to ask the next question about their pets or hobbies. If the thought of public speaking doesn't make you melt into a puddle of goo like that dude from Raiders of the Lost Ark, and have never had the experience of a room full of people asking you really informed questions about your work, I highly recommend it.

I've also been in rooms where absolutely no one knows who I am. At all. Even a little. They have no clue. At one point during Worldcon last year, I listened to someone near me reference something that the Writing About Writing Facebook Page had posted. They were talking about how well "that page" pulled in an audience, and I was just sitting five feet away chewing on my turkey sandwich with not-quite-enough-mayo (and wondering if the people who went everywhere with G.R.R. Martin who was NO SHIT sitting across the table from me were like friends who run interference when he just wants to eat his lunch in peace, handlers, or outright bodyguards). No one turned and looked at me. There were no knowing glances. Except for a couple of friends who I ran into, no one at the entire Worldcon knew who I was. And most of them probably wouldn't have known if I had introduced myself with a list of accolades like I was Daenerys Targaryen.

("Hello, I am Chris of the House Brecheen, the Seventy-Eighth of my name....that I know of from Facebook, The Poorly Slept, Admin of the Writing About Writing page, writer of the blog and there's an Instagram too....technically, Peon of Working Writers, Bard of the Social Justice classes, Protector of my client's kids, Regent of the Seven––"

"Look, dude, do you want one of my custom-made pens or not?")


The crinkly edge of fame means that I've only been recognized once or twice when I'm not walking into a place where my reputation might precede me, and I think most people who are only-a-little-famous have a similar experience. Not until they reach that top-level, A-list strata of fame will they be unable to go eat a bowl of fucking noodles without a "sighting." I'm not talking about Patrick Stewart not knowing who Sting is (which is a great story), but that unless you're in the RIGHT room, with VERY few and rare exceptions for the über-recognizable folks who work in front of cameras, most people still won't recognize you.

CONTINUE TO PART 2...

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Liveblogging an MFA (Mailbox)

Will I live blog an Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing?

[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. See if you can figure out which shell the pea is in when I'm done.]   

Spaceman Spiff* asks:

*This is how they signed the email. I didn't make it up.

You seem like just the person who could go get an MFA in creative writing and blog about your every insight. It could be a service to the world of writers who can't afford the tuition of an advanced degree. You seem to more on the ball of than most of the students (and honestly some of the instructors). If anyone could turn the lessons that matter into a daily post that makes us laugh, it's you. We could all follow along at home, save forty grand, and you would be a hero.

My reply: 

[So there's a bit of a shell game going on behind the scenes at Writing About Writing right now. I got permission to use a question a little too late to get it cooked up from scratch for today's post (so it's going to be next week's question). The Friday post is coming along, but it got a little too long and it's being split up, and I'm still working on the dialogue post. So while I switch today's post to tomorrow, tomorrow's post a two-parter, and this week's question to next week, try to keep track of the pea while I do jazz hands.

So for this week I dug a super quick quickie out of the archives from last summer when we didn't quite reach the 20 questions needed for a 20 Questions post. And hopefully you all will forgive some old school errors and on-the-fly corrections. Because of this shell game, I'm working without my editor.]

Liveblogging huh? So....are you saying that taking seven years to get about half way through my first semester of undergrad isn't fucking FAST enough for you, Spiff?

This would make for a fascinating study into the ideology of higher education if I were discovered to be doing what you suggest (and I'm sure I would). Would the institution honor the spirit of sharing knowledge and that everyone deserves access to education if I were EXPLICITLY sharing that day's lessons before the ink on my notes dried? Or would I get kicked out of the program because I'm cutting into a potential pool of future tuition-payers and "giving away the store"?

I have to tell you that it's been a long time since there's been quite this much nuance in such a "HELL NO!" answer. My writing career might only pay a spendthrift's nightmare, but it is off and running, and generally an MFA would be a step in the wrong direction. Notice I didn't say "backward." Because that's not true. I have my issues with MFA's, but they also have their place. However, I would be largely learning in a writing style that I don't tend to write in, putting a lot more energy into process and workshop than I do currently, pausing all my current projects to work on a more "literary" thesis (usually a novel or a collection of short stories for CW-MFAs), and between the class workload and liveblogging every day, it would completely take over all my writing energy for the years I was involved.

The short answer is "Nah." But if you bring your diamond bit drill bit and insist on digging down, you'll find some "Maybe, I guess?" in the deepest strata of "Fuck no."

So here's the maybeness: If someone paid for my tuition at a school of my choosing without a "No genre" pedagogy (including an extra year to get through the program so that I could take classes at a more reasonable pace), paid for my books, housing, transportation, the lost income from blog and nannying, and a stipend because the career I'm working on (and ALL my current projects) would be put on hiatus, I might––MIGHT––be willing to consider doing this. But I would not be willing to do it on my dime, be a starving student, abandon all my works in progress, and probably end up being asked to leave the program as soon as one of the TA's said, "Hey, have you seen this?"

Basically if I could walk out of this entire endeavor having made more than I would have had I kept working, it certainly has the potential to be a fascinating story. But I don't imagine anyone has the low-six-figures of disposable cash for the shits and giggles of a few insightful posts and some Homestar Runner jokes.

But if this is something you really want, Chris gotsta get PAID!

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Best Horror Book (Last Week to Vote!)

What is the best horror genre book (or series)? Come vote while there's still time! 

Tired of listicles that just TELL you the best books in a given genre? Then Writing About Writing's polls are for you. Our readers nominated all the titles that you now get to vote on to see who goes on to untold fame and glory and who gets a lovely set of steak knives.

Please remember that you are voting on BOOKS. If you find Stephen King to be unbearably prolix and thought It needed 300 pages of editing to not be a goulash of self-indulgent tangents, but you loved that CGI clown in the movie, please vote for something else.

One week remains in this poll. Technically almost eight days, but results WILL be going up on Halloween. Vote now or forever hold your peace.

Everyone will get three (3) votes. 


The poll itself is on the bottom left of the side menus, below the "About the Author." If you are using a mobile device, switch to "desktop view" and scroll AAAAAAAAAAALL the way down.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Self-Care, Brutal Honesty, Self-Deception, and the Writer Who Wants to "Make It" (Personal Update, Meta)

This is not a complainy post! 

As you can probably imagine, I've heard some variation of "Maybe you should take it easy" quite a bit lately. My schedule has been packed ever tighter as baby's nap time shortens and kid two needs after-school supervision. I stay late to do a few chores almost every night, and at least once a week there's some additional glut of hours––either a late night where I do bedtime or a few hours on the weekend where I tag in for a few so mom and dad can do some deep cleaning or other chores. I was stretched a lot thinner than I looked on paper. Then there was the boat fire that killed my friends and there was the threat of wildfire that caused PG&E to kill the power. As well as no shortage of things like trips to Disneyland (where, yes, it's Disneyland and Disneyland is squeeworthy fun, but I'm also doing all the driving, bedtimes, games in line, and watching to make sure those distracted moments don't turn into lost children "incidents").

All of this happens in the backdrop of a job writing that usually takes 30-40 hours a week. If I wrap up everything at 50 hours, it feels a bit like a mini-vacation. I'm usually tumbling into bed on Sunday after clocking in something a little closer to 60 or 70.

But this is NOT a complainy post.

As a living demonstration of writing, this blog has its ups and definitely its downs. The past couple of months have only been rivaled by the cancer and breakup of 2016. Keeping up with my own posting schedule (and sometimes even my "plan B" posting schedule has been tough). A lot of people have pointed out that it's okay to miss some posts and take it easy and take some time off. I've gotten some of the most kind and compassionate emails even from huge long-time donors imploring me to please take care of myself and take a few days or even a week or two away from the blog. They've talked about self-care. They've talked about mental health. They've talked about how it is capitalism that is tricking me into this perception that I have to stay "productive."

They're right. They're also not right. Great taste. Less filling. Soup. Meal.

I mean they are correct in every sense of what would be good for me and how we all internalize social messaging about "productivity," but I also cannot change the rules of the world I live and write in. Not today. I think about it as a writer who has carved out just enough income to survive (but needs a side gig for health insurance and to have a cell phone). I do believe this need to be ever more productive is killing most people in late-stage capitalism as our bosses get richer but our incomes stagnate. We're working more and more side gigs and hustling and working from home and answering just one more work email and and and.....  An increasing number of us have taken on far more than any "forty-hour week" (itself an arbitrary and moralistic measure of productivity from Henry Ford), all this just to keep our heads above water––not because we've become obsessed with a lifestyle of consumption. When that is the reality of the world we live in, it can be calming and validating but also incredibly dangerous to disregard.

I think about this a lot. I mean, I think about this a LOT. 

I don't just think about it as a writer working in this world or as a human watching the world change fundamentally from the one I grew up in. But I also think about this as the writer who has decided to take on writing a blog that is a living example of how to "make it" as a writer. I could make a few choices, roll the dice, and take my chances. I have amazing peeps who won't let me fall, and as long as I'm willing to cook and clean and my clients are two full-time professionals with two kids, some chronic pain, and more money than free time, I may have more hours than I can handle at times, but I will never have fewer than I need.

But it's not just me out here. Okay, that's not true, but I'm also sensitive to my Mission Statement here at Writing About Writing. I can't just give you all the advice to find rich tech money folks who need domestic labor and ride its coattails. ("That's how to be a writer. *drops the mic* "Goodnight!") I would if that were a feasible life choice for everyone, and I hope that at least you all are getting a good impression for how long you're going to have to write while working some side gig (if you don't mind being pretty poor) or day job (if you'd like brand-name frozen burritos). For most of the world, working and writing is going to be several years of long, tough hours and as the writing takes hold and starts to generate income, there IS going to be a point where one realizes that more "self-care" and "taking it easy" and "not succumbing to the ravages of capitalism" will also hurt one's writing career.

Let me make sure I put that in flashing neon on the scrolling marquee:
There IS going to be a point where one realizes that more "self-care" and "taking it easy" and "not succumbing to the ravages of capitalism" will also hurt one's writing career. 

You've got to write. You've GOT to write. You've got to keep writing, and if you don't, the reality of the world we live in will be there. If you don't write on the regular, prose can decay. Craft becomes rusty. It's harder to fill a page because you're out of practice. But even from a strictly pragmatic point of view, you have less writing that is ready to go. And if that's your bread and butter, you're going to end up with self-care instead of the rent. (And I think there are very few of us who would be able to pay our landlord by inviting them to join us in a tea-infused bubble bath.) That includes the writers for whom it IS a more traditional job like freelance writers or tech writers. They don't get to call their boss more than once in a while and talk about "self-care" or "late-stage capitalism." If they use up all their days off, they get written up or fired. If they are a freelancer, they can't blow off deadlines and maintain a professional reputation or just not take jobs day after day.

Do I like being beholden to this system? Fuck no. Would I love a world with Universal Basic Income enough that my writing could be more quality than quantity? Yes. Would I thrive if I made enough money that I could post a little less and write fiction a little more? Absolutely. Would being able to watch The Contrarian only as his Uncle Chris a couple of times a week instead of as a nanny/side gig/hustle/need-the-money mean that my writing got nearly twice as many hours of my creativity? It would.

But that is not the world I live in.

(Also, this is not a complainy post.)

It's not just about the money either. It's about the writing––the craft. Stephen King writes ten pages a day. JK Rowling starts at eight hours a day and goes up from there. Murakami works for five to six hours each morning. Vonnegut scheduled some breaks, but basically worked from 5:30 a.m. to noon. Maya Angelou would get up before six, go to a hotel room she rented by the month, and work all day. Barbara Kingsolver wakes up at four, writes until her kids need attention, and then gets back to it after she gets them off to school. There is virtually no writer you can think of whose writing makes you swoon who doesn't write like it's an important job to them.

Lord knows I don't always get that air/fuel mixture right. I know I err on the side of overwork. I've been to therapy about it. I dived into workaholism after my last big break up, and I'm in recovery. I was clacking away like I was "Fine. Just fine. This is fine." a few days after my friends died while I was living in their house. (Morgan Freeman's narrator voice: "He wasn't fine.") I'm NOT the person you want to model this after.  But I am the person to tell you that there is absolutely a needle to thread. Too many self care days, and you won't be getting paid. Too many "take it easy" indulgences, and you don't have your book written. And breaks beget breaks*, when it comes to NOT writing in a way that has been observed by too many folks to dismiss.

*Sometimes beget breaks beget long breaks beget hiatuses beget "I should get back to that someday" beget some clever line like "Either these interminable writing breaks go or I do!"

I think most of the people on your bookshelf and almost all the working writers you might know overdo (or overdid) it...at least a little. That's why they are on your bookshelf. That's why they're the best. When most people chose to take it easy, they went back to the page for another hour. Like the best athletes, or the best musicians, they got where they were by working when most people called it a day. I'm not trying to excuse some of my more unhealthy habits, but....well maybe I am sort of trying to excuse a few of the less unhealthy ones.

There are a lot of wonderful things that happen when a writer finds an audience. I love mine. Oh, sweet strawberry blintzes, do they ever make me feel warm and fuzzy, especially when I'm having a shitty day. They are amazing people, some I recognize day by day and some strangers to me, who have come to see me as a human who deals with good times and bad. And they care if I'm overdoing it. They tell me not to worry if I take a day off––they'll be here. Or they remind me that from the other side of the equation, a day where I post a couple of reruns would hardly even be noticed.

They are the best.

So let me make sure I also tell you about the cold, bullshit, capitalist, end of this equation that is separate from these wonderful people who I would line up for hugs, high fives, and/or cheek kisses if I could. These fine humans with their nurturing, validating, and altruistic reminders come from both folks who support me financially and folks who don't, but when it comes to the former, my best guess as a casual observer is that they amount to about 90% of my patronage.

Which means there's roughly another 10%. They are the cranky demandy-pants folks in my inbox who have LOTS of things they want to say about what and how often I should be writing.

What I'm telling you as a writer making money writing is that it does matter that I push myself. My income fluctuates when I am not writing as much, as well, or as consistently. 
No one ever says, "Post or I'm out," but a few just quietly leave. Or they quietly lower their monthly contribution. I know that this happens for many reasons and the correlation doesn't equal causation in every case. (And obviously I would never put someone on the spot--most people cancel because their financial situation has changed.) However, it is impossible not to notice that this happens almost any time I am in a slump. And when I'm posting at a clip, I PICK UP patrons faster than when I'm having a rough go of it.

Cold. Hard. Financial reality. Can't escape it. I lose money when I don't post. I gain money when I'm prolific. Period.

Now I'm telling this to you, the writer who wants to "make it," because you don't have a boss who is going to say "You've taken a lot of time off lately, Brecheen." You don't have a supervisor who is going to say "I'll have to write you up if you use another sick day before next month," or a manager who will laugh if you start to talk about a mental health day. You won't get an annual performance review or be up for a promotion. If you're like me, you have 240 bosses, and most of them are going to tell you to take it easy.....while others quietly give you a pay cut.

And there it is.

A working writer has to think hard about when to take breaks and for how long. They have to be brutally honest, not just about their own ambitions and how much work it can take to get to and stay at the top of one's game, but also about how their output will suffer. And in this world, right now, that output is directly linked to income. Rowling and King and Williams and Martin could probably STOP WRITING without needing to worry about the rent, but when one is just scraping by, the equation is different.

*voice trembles a little* But this is not a complainy post.

Friday, October 18, 2019

What To Do With That First Novel (Mailbox)

Amazing.
This is almost exactly the combination on my luggage!
[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 even if I can't exactly answer your question, I will totally do jazz hands until you sort of think I have.]  

AZ asks:

I’ve been reading your blog for years. It's definitely one of my favourite writing resources. Your honesty and thoughtfulness are refreshing amongst all the get-rich-fast / guaranteed-to-make-you-famous content out there. It's very much appreciated.

I love writing. Like actually writing, not just the idea of it wrapped in dreams of fame and fortune. I thought that might be refreshing for you too. 

I write in my job as a PR professional, and as a volunteer for a certain organisation, and as a parent for a parenting magazine that doesn't pay its contributors and as a hobby and for my mental health... I write. I guess that kind of makes me a writer.

When I was a young warthog, I used to think that writers were people who published books for money. But I've since broadened my view, and your posts were a big part of that. 

Anyway, here's the question I wanted to ask you: What should one do with a novel they're not ready to sell?

Trying to market a debut, stand-alone space-operetta -- be it through traditional agents/publishers or by going indie -- seems impractical. I'd rather spend the time writing more novels. I’m new to long-form fiction and will re-evaluate my options once I have a bit more to offer.

What should I do with the completed manuscript in the meantime?

[Full text of AZ's question below.]

My reply:

You seem to be a little reluctant to call yourself a writer, so let's get that shit dealt with posthaste. I love you (as much as I can love anyone who writes in with a question). I know where you're coming from. I get what you mean. I have felt this way before (even earlier today). But as sternly as I can say it without drifting past "kind" and into "slightly jerkitudinal," knock that shit off, AZ. You write, ergo you're a writer. Apparently, you write quite a bit, so you're totes magotes a writer. Not "kind of." Totally. But if you need some sort of external validation, allow me, in my unmatched wisdom, to bestow upon you the status of "Really Real Writer™" from on high.

"Verily Chris didst spaketh. Lo."

There. You can show everyone in the auxiliary club this post and ditch the "sort of". Now that that's out of the way, and you will never again doubt yourself as a writer (even a little) as long as you live, let me move on to your question while I can still keep down the cough/laughter.

Ah yes...the question. Which....um....there's some bad news about the question. I can't actually answer it....not without having read your book.

Not that this will stop me from writing a whole damn post, mind you. I am nothing if not thorough. I mean I suppose I could tell you what I might do with MY first book (also a space operetta), but it's probably better to just give you some thoughts to chew on, so you can make a better, more informed choice.

(That sounds like a very vague advertisement for some kind of suppository or something. "Mykexistrazinate: Talk to your doctor today. *low voice* May cause violent anal seepage. Do not take while inhaling nitrogen. If full body paralysis occurs, discontinue immediately. Mykexistrazinate. Better, more-informed choices." Then again, maybe I just shouldn't be writing before caffeine kicks in.)

Let's start with the bad news, AZ. Fortunately, it kind of looks like you've already started to guess it yourself, so it might not be quite so painful. In traditional publishing, almost no one publishes their first book. I mean obviously everyone who publishes a book logically publishes their "first book," but almost no one's first published book is the same first full-length manuscript they wrote.

Most writers (and when I say that, I mean probably half to three quarters as a purely anecdotal observation on my part) have this weirdly predictable trajectory. They love books. They think books are magical portals to other worlds (and they ARE). They want to do that magic themselves. They write a book. (There might be scare quotes around "book" if they're very young at the time.) Finishing their book is an INTENSELY meaningful and personal experience. They are very proud of their book, but they begin to realize, based on other people's reactions (agents, publishers, friends, and family), that it's possible their book is......not very good. They don't quite know why because it was VERY good when they were writing it. So they set about trying to discover what makes for good writing, some through formal education and some through self-teaching and some through some form of professional writing career like tech writing or freelance. In the course of this learning curve, they come to see all KINDS of mistakes they made in that first book. They look back on that old stuff and wince––it was so BAD. How could they think that was good writing? Often they consider it unsalvageable in its current form, abandon it (usually with the proviso that they're coming back some day, but they never do) and their second book is the one that has a chance in the world.

Of course there are exceptions. There are a few exceptions at every stage of this wild generalization, peeling off a few working writers, but also there are some major exceptions ubiquitous enough to be worth mentioning separately: Occasionally you get someone who either understands the learning curve of writing from early on or (less often) stumbles into the fact that TONS of writing has to come before publishable work, and they set about learning the lessons on smaller efforts––or they basically get good writing short stories and throw-away pieces long before they start their novel. And of course some people are determined enough to keep taking that first book back and reworking it with new feedback until they carve it into a sellable product pretty much by sheer force of will. Also, it's pretty normal to see very famous authors go back to their first book when they reach that point where anything they write will sell pretty well and they feel they have the tools to really revise and fix it.

I should probably also mention here that non-traditional publishing has given authors an opportunity to do an end run around gatekeepers with their middle finger held high. And while this is great for a lot of reasons (particularly the voices that can no longer be erased), one of the places it's...uh....a LOT less amazeballs is when it comes to starting writers who can't stand the rejection of a publisher (or never bother soliciting in the first place). The fact that a pretty good-sized chunk of self-publishing is ENTIRELY composed of beginning writer's first books is part of the reason that self-publishing has a (somewhat deserved) reputation for lower quality. The artistic process is messy, has few absolutes, generally involves screaming like a howler monkey at least at one point, and sometimes you have to bust out the Fleetwood Mac and go your own way, but MOST of us, MOST of the time are going to need at least one part of that process to involve someone who can tell us firmly but with all the love in the world that something isn't working (and perhaps more importantly have us listen). And even though I'm one of the first boots on the ground to argue that non-traditional publishing is absolutely legit, a lot of self publishing is side-stepping that part of the process.

About 95% of us, though, are never going to publish that first book.  Not through a traditional publisher.

Most first novels have a couple of really big, predictable problems.

It's the predictable part that's kind of interesting really....

First of all, they are usually, in some way, a catharsis for the writer. That first book is usually, in some way, the story that writer is DYING to tell. Maybe it's about their childhood. Maybe it's the REAL relationship they had with their uncle. Maybe it's a scathing repudiation of their non-mainstream culture. Even if it's JUST a space operetta, there's usually something important in there. (Mine was an anti-war, anti-capitalist examination of trying hard to find one's own voice and way in a world of people focusing on their own causes that were all just and valuable in their own right. Sound familiar?) There's nothing wrong with this per se, but the problem is that a more sophisticated craft is usually needed to really do what the writer is trying to do. It usually takes a writer a lot of hard lessons with peer review to realize that those powerful emotions bubbling up are only happening within the writer.

Secondly, beginning writers often have two problems (and very often simultaneously)––they ham-handedly tell the reader WHAT to feel, but at the same time they don't create a world that evokes those emotions organically. So it's kind of like reading a card that says, "Feel SAD now. REALLY SAD!" or one of those "Applause" signs in the old studio audience TV shows. Not only does that not work, but you're not really sure why you're supposed to feel sad. It takes a lot of skill to put one's feelings about "X Thing" aside and then describe "X Thing" using enough concrete language to get a reader to feel those things....without ever telling them what they ought to feel. So, with all the love and kindness in the world I can muster for first time writers, what is going on in a first book is often more like a therapy session with the page. (And please don't get me wrong, that's a fantastic reason to write, but what I'm saying is that the end result is a harder sell.) A lot of the freshmen writers in my program wrote about terrible experiences, but they were TELLING the reader it was terrible, not showing* the reader it was terrible.

[*Look, I hate cliché writing advice that gets used in place of actually understanding craft, and every unnuanced platitude is proved inaccurate by dozens of examples, but sometimes there's a pretty good nugget of truth in there––especially for starting writers. "Show, don't tell" is one of those bits of advice. (Maybe Leela Bruce needs to kung-fu-fight it soon.) It is possible to do both at ANY time, but it takes a skilled hand. And if you're telling and not showing, the chances are pretty good that your writing is not hitting the emotional resonance that you're hoping for. 

Imagine describing your room to someone. You say where a couple of big things are and maybe the color scheme and your mind fills in thousands...MILLIONS of tiny details.....for you. But you insist over and over again that it's comfortable and cozy. No one hearing that room described is going to get a sense of why it's so comfortable and cozy. They're just taking your word for it––which is fine in person, but doesn't work so well in writing. So you have to learn techniques like significant detail to really convey something like this--you talk about the plush fuzzy blanket that covers your bed and you just sometimes like to push your face into and rub your cheek along it and how the bookshelf is crammed to overflow with books of deeply sentimental value––like the very copy of the Quran with which you learned about Islam that still smells a little like the sumac and turmeric that were always in the air in the house of the family that gave it to you and the Ann Leckie trilogy that a friend  with the crooked smile lent you right before they were diagnosed with a second recurrence of lymphoma from which they would not recover. Well....you get the idea.]

Third, they can't kill their darlings. Since this book is catharsis––not a simple matter of prose and craft to be mercilessly cut and reshaped until it's better––they have invested their egos into the text, and that real work of revision feels too much like changing themselves or what is important about their own emotional stake. Everything is too dear to cut out. Everything is too important to really change. Because of course it is. That's not a STORY with some objective structural/mechanical/literary problems that need to dispassionately be improved upon if it's going to sell. It's a piece of their soul that they've laid bare, and they don't want to cut or change a piece of their soul. You can fiddle with the word choice a bit, but you can't amputate a limb. (And in the writing process, sometimes you HAVE to amputate a limb.) Everything matters to them (there are no unimportant bits), so that story has kind of a "Revision Shield" around it that makes getting it to sellably readable a little hard.

And....perhaps most conspicuously of all....the quality of the book changes as it goes on. Writing is a skill. Writing is a skill that one improves upon by WRITING. When writers write a book, they are LITERALLY BETTER WRITERS by the end of the book. Now, way up the learning curve, most of us can't really see the difference. The end of Stephen King's 685th novel is not appreciably different than the beginning. But, when it comes to writers who are just getting started and improving by leaps and bounds, it is PAINFUL just how noticeable it is. When you're first starting to do something, you can't do it for five hundred hours and not be better ––a LOT better––by the end. My publisher friends all tell me it is piss-easy to tell when they are reading someone's first book because the writing is SO, SO much better by the end.

Sadly, this sort of quality change is VERY hard to revise out. Even if you revise HEAVILY, you can still see those "fingerprints" all over the prose. A writer basically has to rewrite the book from scratch and they'd do well to let it sit in a drawer for a good long while and have a "coming to Jesus" moment after their fifth or sixth novel about whether they really even WANT to revisit it.

These first manuscripts form a strange cultural touchstone in the writing world. In many other arts, you have artists who FULLY understand that their initial efforts will not be professional caliber. They improve and keep going like a fire-and-forget missile. They practice for years before going out for the city's professional orchestra. They cut their teeth in local theater before assuming that it's time to audition for the big city theater. They paint and doodle enough throw-away images to wallpaper a mansion before trying to get a gallery to do a show that features them. Yet, for some reason, when it comes to writers, they have a hard time letting go of anything they write. It's all going to be "cleaned up and published someday." All of it. Forever.

Imagine me now, standing on a cliff or something, backlit by city lights with the wind whipping at my hair. Are you imagining?

"It doesn't have to be like that."

Whatever you decide to do, AZ, you can't unwrite that book, by which I don't mean "You can't undo the damage you have wrought into the world" but rather "the hard-fought lessons you learned through sweat and blood (and probably not a few howler monkey tears if you're anything like me) can never be taken away from you." You're a better writer now, and you can write a MUCH better second book. And likely, even if you don't publish that first book, you will find other ways to "drizzle" its emotional center into future works, and for years to come (decades even) you will find yourself using bits here and pieces there. (And actually, when it's broken up and subtle, you may find it feels much more authentic to that initial effort of trying to get emotional catharsis.) So even if you take your only copy out back tonight and burn it on the barbecue, using its flames to make some smores, you got a metric fuckton out of having written it.

Only you know the true path of a thousand journeys, Grasshopper. I can only tell you what you're up against––you must take the first step upon your voyage.

Did that sound really deep and profound? I'm going for deep and profound.

Me, I'd go with your initial instinct. Drawer the sucker, and see if it sings to you in the deep of the quiet night to be completely rewritten when you're a much better writer a few years from now––and in fact, that is what I have done with my initial novel that I spent five years writing. Especially if you're kind of FEELING like you'd rather get to work on your next novels. The worst thing that happens is that you pull it out of the drawer years from now and say, "It's you! It's always been you!" because it turns out it was so brilliant. Okay, I suppose the WORST that could happen is that you don't get the million dollars that you would have gotten and someone you love dearly––who you could have saved if you had only had the means––ends up dying of neo-consumption or the vapors or something, but....PROBABLY the worst thing is that some perception of your progress as a writer is just "behind schedule."

However, whether you want to thank your manuscript and tuck it into a very fond place in a very deep drawer for the lulz and memories, or just keep retooling it endlessly for years until an agent says you're cooking with gas, or ignore the better editors of your nature and go self-publish it....is up to you. Only you know what artistic itch you need to scratch.

And thank YOU, AZ for the years of reading. It's nice to hear the good stuff from time to time. *makes a heart out of index fingers and thumbs*








Hi Chris,

I’ve been reading your blog for years. It's definitely one of my favourite writing resources. Your honesty and thoughtfulness are refreshing amongst all the get-rich-fast / guaranteed-to-make-you-famous content out there. It's very much appreciated.

I love writing. Like actually writing, not just the idea of it wrapped in dreams of fame and fortune. I thought that might be refreshing for you too.

I write in my job as a PR professional, and as a volunteer for a certain organisation, and as a parent for a parenting magazine that doesn't pay its contributors and as a hobby and for my mental health... I write. I guess that kind of makes me a writer.

When I was a young warthog, I used to think that writers were people who published books for money. But I've since broadened my view, and your posts were a big part of that.

Anyway, here's the question I wanted to ask you: What should one do with a novel they're not ready to sell?

Trying to market a debut, stand-alone space-operetta -- be it through traditional agents/publishers or by going indie -- seems impractical. I'd rather spend the time writing more novels. I’m new to long-form fiction and will re-evaluate my options once I have a bit more to offer.

What should I do with the completed manuscript in the meantime? I had it peer-reviewed and will have had it beta-read and rewritten multiple times before calling it done. But after that, should it go into the proverbial drawer? Or is there any sense in making it available online?  What about something like Wattpad? Is there any value to it?

One benefit I can think of is the possibility of collecting feedback beyond the current beta-readers, to help me keep improving as I continue to write. But I’ve been warned against it by some people: “No agent will ever work with you if your work appears online!” But... I’m really interested in your opinion.

Thanks for everything.

AZ

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.