Microphone Check

*TAP* *TAP*

“Hello? Is this thing on?”

So…yeah. Yes, I am still alive. No, I haven’t moved to Canada (but more on that later.) And, yes, Misdirected has lain fallow for nigh on nine months now.

So, where the heck have I been, exactly?

Funny you should ask that…

In The Beginning, Was NaNoWriMo

So, in what has become a yearly ritual, I participated in NaNoWriMo last November. This attempt to write a 50,000 word first draft of a novel in a single month has turned into a yearly nightmare of outlandish expectations and frustrating failure. Every year I fail. And, every year, my failure leaves me paralyzed with Impostor Syndrome for months afterward. (Yes, Impostor Syndrome is a thing. Google it if you are unfamiliar.)

My most recent bout left me unable to produce just about anything until March. Just sort of sitting around, whistling Dixie, waiting for the lights to turn back on in my brain. Everything I wrote was crap, and immediately disposed of. Everything I read seemed an order of magnitude above anything I could ever hope to produce. Good times.

So, this year, I have declared my liberation from NaNoWriMo. My wife and my family members have specific instructions: If I start making noises about participating in NaNo this year, they are to strike me firmly across the face multiple times and then tell me to go lie down until the feeling goes away.

I am sure that NaNo is an awesome tool in the right hands. One of the members of my writing team (BTW, I hate you, Joe) uses it to draft the entire novel he will be working on for the next year. But, alas, it is not a tool for me. Under normal circumstances, I can easily produce 50,000 words in a month. They just can’t seem to be all related to the same project.

So, if that brings me up to March of this year, what the heck have I been doing since then, you might ask? Oh, nothing much. Just supervising a literary explosion.

The Summer of Ash Falls

Since 2016, I’ve been working on a little project called “Ash Falls.” It is a setting I share with several other very talented authors, all telling tales of dark doings and grim forebodings in a fictional city in Oregon.

I kicked the whole thing off with the novel Inheritance. Then, for a year and a half – not a peep has been heard out of the city. I’ve added authors, edited books, rejected short stories, and generally made a nuisance of myself for two years now, waiting for the whole project to come to fruition.

And this Summer, it arrived. Hoo, boy, did it ever.

Somehow, it worked out that every single one of our initial novels (with the exception of my original one) was completed within a few months of one another. Instead of a measured release schedule of one or two novels a year, we suddenly were dealing with the release of FOUR novels within a four-month period.

Thus was born the “Summer of Ash Falls” event – a celebration of Ash Falls exploding from one lonely novel to a full back catalog of five novels, with two more on the way before the end of the year.

Since March of this year, I have been editing. I have been suggesting revisions. I have been hammering on release dates and looking over the shoulders of frustrated authors. In general, I have been shepherding this project along like a nervous mother dropping her “gifted child” off for their first day of Pre-K. Sure, I recognize the inherent genius in my authors. But will the rest of the world agree?

So far, the answer has been “Yes.” Pre-orders and sales have been really good, despite our having about $2.49 in Marketing funds to work with.

So, like the proud parent that I am, let me introduce you to my “kids.”

The Lineup Of Unusual Suspects

Never Bring an Axe to a Gun Fight

Surely you need a police procedural featuring werewolves, drunks, and immortal serial killers, yes? Then you need Holly, by William Aime.

What Heaven Didn’t Want, Hell Couldn’t Handle.

What is left when all you ever loved is taken from you by forces you don’t understand? Revenge. In another place and time, Rob, the protagonist of Reborn by Corinne Kunz would be a superhero. In Ash Falls…not so much.

Don’t Look For The Lost

Take one secretive coven, one morally ambiguous witch, and one BIG mistake, and you have Coven Ascending by Joe Mankowski.

And, coming this September to round out the #summerofashfalls event: the immortal bikers of J.M. Koczwara’s A Dead Sun Rises.

And we still have two more titles on the horizon: The Perpetuals and Fallen will be hitting the shelves before the end of 2019. And, if you are so inclined, you could always head back to where it all began and pick up a copy of Inheritance.

The Future’s So Bright…You Know The Rest

And that, gentle readers, brings us to today. The books are written, the editing (mostly) completed, and we are ready to look forward to 2020. Are there sequels coming? You better believe it. We won’t just leave you hanging on the fates of Brian Drake, Lydia Pike, and the rest of the residents of Ash Falls.

As far as Misdirected is concerned – yes, I should be getting back to a semi-regular writing schedule now. I will talk about what I am writing, what I am thinking, and what I am observing as usual. And I will NOT participate in NaNo this year. Nope. No sir. Not me.

As far as fitness-related info is concerned…there is not much to report. The results of the bariatric surgery are still holding up pretty well. I am all the way up to 189 (from 175), mainly due to the lack of dedicated physical activity that results from sitting in front of a monitor 24/7. But, my waistline is down to 34 inches and I can still hike 10 miles without collapsing afterward, so I am not terrifically worried. I just need to buckle back down and put in some time at the gym instead of just walking around the neighborhood to clear my head.

Thanks for all the concerned inquiries about where I’ve been and what has been up. I look forward to re-engaging with all of you in the weeks and months to come.

Sharpening My Pencil And Putting On My Sunglasses,

  • Jeremy

NaBlogWriMo 12: Turning “Now” Into A Place Worth Being (Overcoming Perfectionism and Getting Published)

(One of the coolest things about running a shared universe like Ash Falls is that you are forced to interact with other authors. You know…” sharing.” And what is especially exciting is when you discover a new author hiding in plain sight.

Our compatriot, K. Edwin Fritz, did just that in a coffee shop in New Jersey when he struck up a conversation with Jeanette Koczwara. That conversation led, eventually, to the creation of Ash Falls’ immortal biker gang from ancient Persia.

When I needed someone to put together some thoughts on moving from thinking about writing to becoming a published writer, she seemed like a pretty obvious choice. 

Take it away, Jeanette!)

Notebooks, Gremlins, and Tea

Now that we got past the overly inspiring title, a little introduction is in order.

Some of you may know me as the author of A Dead Sun Rises, one of the latest series to be added to the Ash Falls Storyverse. Some of you might not know me at all (but now you do, and it’s too late to change that). And some of you actually know the truth; that I am actually five (5) gremlins loosely held together by knitwear, empty notebooks, and cheese wrappers, and kept running with unhealthy quantities of tea.

You might be wondering how five gremlins were able to pull together something remotely publishable. Here’s the secret: I said “good enough” and hit send.

(It may have been more colorful than that)

Until a year ago I had always envisioned publishing as something far off in my future. That it wouldn’t happen until I finished one of the many stories I’ve started. And even if I found the time to finish something I would need to edit it and write a second draft and edit that and write a third draft and…

You get the picture.

Declaring something “done” couldn’t happen unless it was perfect. And it couldn’t be perfect unless I had the time to perfect it. And I didn’t have that time right now.

I didn’t have that time because there were other things I needed to do first. I needed to find a “real” job. I needed to have my own place. I needed to put on all the trappings of a fully functional adult before I could stop feeling guilty about the time I spent on my unimportant hobbies.

So I never finished anything, because that was for future me. I never took up an instrument like I always wanted, because that was for future me. I neglected reading, because, you guessed it, only future self-sufficient me deserved to spend her time like that.

And I was miserable.

Arriving At The Future

I was pushing myself through jobs I hated. I wasted my free time never quite doing what I enjoyed. I became an anxious mess about everything I did.

Then, I came to a self-discovery. If I keep putting aside all of the things I loved about life, waiting for everything to be perfect, I would never get around to doing them. Future Me didn’t exist yet and Now Me needed to be happy.

I started by finding a local writers’ group. I dedicated myself to writing that one book I always wanted to finish (it’s not finished yet but we have 70k+ words in act 1). I picked up the doorstop I wanted to read and took it everywhere I went. Even if none of it was going to advance my status as a “productive unit in the economy” it made me happy.

During one writers’ meetup, I met K. Edwin Fritz (author of The Perpetuals) and he introduced Fiction Vortex to me. The concept immediately struck me as new, creative, and above all fun. But I still wasn’t considering it as an opportunity for myself (see above).

Then Khurshid came roaring through one of my dreams, a sword of star iron blazing, and I had a story to tell. Then I wrote it. And prepared the email. And proceeded to sit on it for nearly two months.

Because it wasn’t perfect.

Finally, in a caffeine-deprived haze, I mentioned I had this email sitting there and considered aloud whether I should just send it. Myself responded, with outside support, that I should just say “good enough” and hit send.

And now here we are. Episodes 1-4 are available on the StoryShop app!

In a proverbial nutshell, don’t feel guilty for doing what makes Now You happy because Future You doesn’t exist and Now You will only be happier if Past You was happy too.

P.S. I did buy that instrument, too. It’s a GuQin (Chinese zither), and, boy, does it make me happy to bumble along teaching myself with no outside or inside expectations.  

(Follow Jeanette and the continuing adventures of Khurshid in “A Dead Sun Rises” on the Storyshop app.)

NaBlogWriMo 10: The Ash Falls Update

Ha! Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the water. Nope, NaBlogWriMo is still going strong. We’ve got the back half of November to get through, and lots of content still to come.

Who’da thunk it?

It seemed like as good a time as any to chat a little about my other writing project. As the Storyverse Head for the Ash Falls setting at Fiction Vortex, I am not only responsible for creating episodic fiction every month, but also for editing, reviewing, coordinating, and cat-herding eight other authors.

So, if you’ve been wondering why I never have time to do things like write blog posts, now you know.

As we near the end of 2018, we are coming up on some exciting new developments in Ash Falls. Let me bring you up to speed on where everyone is at…

Inheritance

The original story in Ash Falls, Inheritance follows Private Investigator Brian Drake as he investigates the assassination of one of the prime figures in Ash Fall’s supernatural underworld. If you have any interest in noir, an introduction to the Ash Falls setting, and seriously fragmented protagonists, this is the story for you. The first few episodes are available on the StoryShop app.

And, hey, the whole novel is already available at Amazon, in both print and ebook form. You could even email me and I can make arrangements to get you a signed copy! After all, Christmas is coming…

The Perpetuals

So, have you ever put any thought into what happens into what happens to those who have only been bitten by a vampire once or twice?

If you haven’t, no problem. K. Edwin Fritz has a whole book dedicated to exactly that concept in The Perpetuals. His colorful cast of “dhampir” characters takes you on a twisting tale from the back streets of Ash Falls through the Egyptian Underworld.

The first eight episodes of The Perpetuals are currently available on StoryShop.

Fallen

From the darkest recesses of Steve Cotterill’s mind comes Fallen – a book with so many twists and turns you may need to keep notes to keep track of plot developments. Fallen takes place mostly in the spaces outside of Ash Falls – the nether realm where those spirits that can’t move on exist, forever trapped.

Fallen episodes 1 through 9 are currently available, and we breathlessly await the series conclusion in episode 10.

Reborn

What if you were given a power beyond all imagining? And what if that power took everything you ever loved from you?

Corrine Kunz’ Reborn follows a protagonist who has had supernatural power thrust upon him, against his will. He must reach inside himself for strengths he did not know he possessed, and search for allies in the darkest reaches of Ash Falls to recover that which has been taken from him.

Reborn is currently being prepared for publication and should be available in print and ebook formats before the end of 2018.

As I said, Christmas is coming…

Holly

The madman steering us into to Season 2 of the Ash Falls Storyverse, William Aime, brings us Holly. Because what Ash Falls really needed was a police procedural involving a supernatural serial killer from the depths of British history.

Holly is drawing near its conclusion, with the first 7 episodes currently available on StoryShop! Get on board now!

A Dead Sun Rises

Imagine, if you will, an immortal band of ancient cavalry, doomed to eternally pursue their divine foe across the world. Now imagine what that cavalry unit would look like today

When 10,000 motorcycle-riding warriors ride into Ash Falls, things get really interesting. With an equal focus on ancient history and modern-day action, J.M. Koczwara’s A Dead Sun Rises opens Ash Falls to the wider world.

Coven Ascending

And, our most recent addition to Ash Falls, Joe Mankowski tells the tale of a boy, a girl, and a coven bent on domination of the Underworld. The first three episodes are currently available on StoryShop.

StoryShop 2.0

So, you may be asking, what is this “StoryShop” I keep mentioning?

StoryShop is our replacement for the former “Fictionite” reader app. If you ever downloaded Fictionite, relax – you are now the proud owner of the StoryShop client. Your library is intact.

But…if you weren’t an early adopter, and you just can’t wait to get your hands on all this juicy Ash Falls fiction, all is not lost! Just open up the device of your choice (Apple or Android) and look for the StoryShop app in your App Store. Install it, and get to all that fabulous reading that awaits you!

Now…what’s the catch, you may ask? Good question. As an early adopter, you’ll have access to all our episodic fiction, not just the Ash Falls Storyverse. And, while we get the wrinkles ironed out of StoryShop, you’ll have access for free.

StoryShop will eventually (Real Soon Now) be converting over to a micro-transactional model for access to all our glorious content. But, until that day arrives…well, why not take advantage now? Check it out, kick the tires…and when we flip the switch, you’ll be ready to jump on board and buy a subscription so that you can keep on receiving high-class fiction every week.

Only the cool kids recognize the trends that are about to change the world and jump on board before everyone else.

You want to be one of the cool kids, don’tcha?

Catch You All Tomorrow,

  • Jeremy

 

Failure To Launch: My NaNoWriMo Experience

failure to launch

It seems so long ago, now. It was November 1 that I announced my intention to participate in the National Novel Writing Month project: an attempt to write a functional first draft of a novel in one month. 50,000 words. 30 days. Piece of cake, right?

And now, I sit at my desk, 14 days removed from last writing anything at all. November is behind me, my path forward lit only by the flickering embers of my dream of writing a whole novel in one month.

So, what the heck happened?

That Which Burns Brightest…

It didn’t seem like an unreasonable idea. I write a pretty substantial amount in any given month. So, I thought, why not turn that effort into focus on a single project? Turn my attention to one project with a laser-like focus, ignoring all other distractions, and complete a first draft.

I announced my intentions and signed up at nanowrimo.org. I even built a Tumblr page to log my daily activity.

Then, on November 1, I started, full of fire and enthusiasm.

At the end of Day 1, I was about 1,500 words in. A little short, maybe, but I was on my way. Day 2 was similar. Day 3 I had seriously slowed down, and was looking forward to a group meeting of fellow NaNo writers, who I thought would give me a hand and some encouragement.

The meeting was…not exactly what I expected.

Now, I will be the first to tell you that you have to be responsible for your own journey in life. You can’t count on others to provide your motivation or your effort. But, surely, a little camaraderie was not too much to expect?

Instead, I found a group of people who were all long-time veterans of NaNoWriMo. Some had participated 3, or 5, or even 7 years in a row. Encouraged, I asked how many of these books had been published.

A bit of a faux pas, as it turned out.

Apparently, by the tenets of the group I visited, the point wasn’t to publish a book. Oh, heavens, no! It was to write a book. And, then, apparently, to lock it away where no one would ever read it.

When I confessed that I had just published my first book in September, the temperature dropped. “Self-published, I suppose?” asked one of my fellow NaNoers.

When I confessed that, no, I had been published by a real, live publisher, the temperature dropped all the way to glacial. Conversations immediately formed in groups around me. I felt like the last kid to be picked at recess.

I have always thought the point of telling a story was to share it with others. My opinion wasn’t shared by this group, and I left early, feeling uncomfortable and isolated. And with no new ideas or motivation.

…Burns Out Fastest

Discouraged, the next day I went to my #1 advisor: Lor. I confessed to having run out of “creative juice” only 3 days into the process. She pointed out that I had a perfectly good idea for a Fantasy novel that I had been sitting on for over a year. Why was I not using that premise, instead of this entirely new one?

Well, because that felt somehow like I would be cheating? I should come up with an entirely new idea for this project, right?

Returning to my tale of woe from the previous night, she asked me: was the idea to follow a set of self-imposed rules, or to tell a story I wanted to tell?

Stung by the (all too correct) comparison to the folks I had complained about the night before. I pulled out my notes and got to work.

Despite my new motivation, it was still rough going. I would sneak in 250 words here and there, between other jobs. I had edits to read. Web pages to be updated. Blog posts to write. Even some honest-to-goodness contract work to be done.

And, of course, about 10 days into the project, my muse raised her head. The time I should have been spending working on NaNo was suddenly being spent working on the sequel to Inheritance.

Crash And Burn

As of Day 16, I had only managed 21,286 words on my NaNo project. Several of my acquaintances and mentors were already done with their projects.

I have not mentioned that, through all this, I had been having intermittent problems with my PC. Random power outages, strange graphics slowdowns, and the like. I finally took the thing apart and determined that the graphics card was overheating. Bidding adieu to my ability to run anything over the level of Facebook games, I pulled out the graphics card and got back to work on about the 10th of the month.

On the 17th of the month, the true problem revealed itself – my power supply gave out completely. I now realized that intermittent voltage from the power supply had first fried my video card. I now had no source of power for my PC and no way to replace it.

It was Thanksgiving week anyway. I dusted my hands of the whole problem and resolved to continue writing with a stylus and my Kindle after the holiday was over.

On the 21st I received my weekly Grammarly report. Apparently, I had worked on 78,000 words the previous week. About 7K of which was part of my project.  On Twitter, I lamented that I could totally be kicking this writing project’s ass if I could just stop writing other stuff.

Holiday Malaise

The icing on the cake turned out to be the holiday weekend. My grand-niece was suffering from a sinus infection during the festivities. By the end of the holiday three-quarters of the family had contracted it – including Lor and me.

This was not an “oh, I have the sniffles, I should man up” kind of thing. This was an “oh my God, my head is pounding, I can’t breathe, and it hurts to move” kind of thing. And it completely destroyed my productivity all the way into the first days of December.

So, my totals for the project:

5,000 words in my first, aborted project.

21,000 words in the “official” project

6,000 words in outline and scene sketching for the sequel to Inheritance

130,000 words in “other” stuff.

For a grand total of 165,000 words for the month. With no activity whatsoever for the last week of November, breaking my streak of producing something creative every week at 19 weeks.

The Discomfort of a Moral Victory

So, instead of having a completed novel to show off, I have to be content with the fact that I produced enough content for 3 draft novels instead.

Except I am not content at all, of course. I wanted to, in the words of my fellow author Martin McConnell, #finishthedamnbook.

But, I didn’t. Such is life.

I now have a new set of responsibilities to start working on. The sequel to Inheritance needs to be worked up through December, and be ready to be peer edited and prepped for serialization by January. I have tons of work that I skipped the last 10 days to make up. And, you know, holidays, family gatherings, blogs, advice, etc.

At least I am not doing it on a tablet with a stylus. My family was able to come up with an old retired laptop that I could use. So I am counting my blessings for their generosity.

So, what about the abandoned fantasy project sitting there at 21,000 words?

I’ll stick it in a metaphorical drawer, I suppose. And, who knows? Maybe it will still be there next November.

Is It Cheating To Start NaNoWriMo 2018 With A Headstart?

Jeremy

 

The Deep Breath Before November

Technically, I should be working right now. I have a website to maintain, articles to write, other author’s short fiction to read for Fiction Vortex, and a thousand little projects around the house patiently waiting for me to get off my butt and get to work.

Instead, I have given myself the day off. Except for this communication to my Misdirected readers, I suppose. But that doesn’t really feel like work. More like a one-sided telephone conversation with a really large group of friends.

Celebration of The One (Out of Two)

Today’s day off originates thanks to the day itself: Halloween. Those of you who know us and love us know that Halloween is one-half of the two monster holidays celebrated in our joint household. (The other being Superbowl Sunday. We’ll talk about that one closer to February.)

This year, as usual, we have decorated, bought candy, re-decorated, considered and rejected costumes, made some additional changes to our decorations, and finally arrived at today – the holiday itself.

Lor will undoubtedly make more changes to our decorations today, though.

We discussed moving to a “skeleton” theme this year but ran out of planning time. So, instead, we pulled the trusty “spider” motif out of storage. Upon applying it to the house, we decided it needed a little more “Oomph.” We added bits here and there, and now it looks like this:

Yes, that is a gigantic spider hanging just over the mailbox under the eaves. Let’s hope our mailman is not an arachnophobe.

Now, we sit and wait for the hordes of little monsters to come and beg for candy and toys. (Yes, we give away both. The kids actually like the little 10-cent bubbles and slime better than the actual candy. Who knew?) Lor still has to carve her pumpkin, but otherwise, we rest in the calm before the storm.

Speaking of that…

The (NaNoWriMo) Storm Descends

A month from now I’ll be an author.

Again.

Well, sort of.

For the first time, I’ve decided to participate in the National Novel Writing Month event. This is a challenge to novelists to complete an entire novel in the month of November.

Well, sort of.

The target for the month is 50,000 words, which would be a very short novel indeed. (Inheritance, for example, clocked in at 85,000 words +/-.) So, really, what I’ll be left with at the end of the month is a framework of a novel. Hopefully a beginning, a middle, and a resolution. Introductions of my main characters and plotlines. And the warm and fuzzy glow from having actually finished a book.

Well, sort of.

For me, the main goal is to see if I can finish a story in a month. My stories normally are long and rambling affairs that take me literally years to complete. I cut dozens of scenes totaling thousands of words out of Inheritance. Over the course of seven years! With the majority of that work taking place in the last two years, of course.

So the real question is: can I remain focused enough to write an average of 1,600 words a day? Every day? For a month?!?!?

November is gonna be a beast. I still have my commitments to Fiction Vortex: I will be reading and editing 10,000 words of text every week.

I still have my commitment to Misdirected: I will still be blogging once a week here.

And I still have client writing work: you know, the stuff that actually pays for food and coffee.

Somewhere, in all this, I am going to have to find time to write an average of 1,600 words a day. Every day. For a month.

I am simultaneously frightened and excited. What if the whole thing crashes and burns and I give up after 4,000 words?

But, a little voice keeps asking me: What if it is good?

Starting tomorrow, I am about to find out.

 

…And A Question For You

As part of the project, I am going to be keeping a log of sorts of what I manage to do every single day. Otherwise I will never finish. I know myself well enough to be aware that if I don’t hold myself accountable, I will hit a rough patch and say “Oh well, couldn’t do it.”

So, the question becomes: are you, the readers of Misdirected interested in this log?

If you are, I will log somewhere public. I have a Tumblr page that has literally been sitting ignored for months that I could dedicate to a “micro-blog” tracking my progress.

But, if no one is interested, I will simply write things down in a journal for my own edification. Let me know what you think on Facebook or Twitter.

Hyper Ventilating,

Jeremy