Writer’s Block, What Writer’s Block…

At the end of April I finished a project I was working on. It was a full novel and I was super excited about it. It was fun to write and hopefully will stand-up to being read. I finished it on the first morning of vacation, so I didn’t expect to write much for the rest of that weekend.

And then it happened.

I had planned on jumping back into my not-a-rock-star-any-longer story. So I brewed on it. Thought on it. Reread it. But didn’t write a darn thing. Bit of a slump, I thought after the first week. Just coming down off that finished-book high.

By the 13th I was getting worried. I hadn’t written a word all month. I wasn’t going to hit my monthly word goal, THAT was for sure! (The creeping panic of I’m never going to write again was screaming in my head, but I’ll ignore that.)

Then I saw a submission call retweeted about an alien romance. I happened to have an alien romance that I wrote yonks ago. It was roughly 2k and pretty much skipped all of the story except them meeting and the fun alien sex. So, hey, I already had a basic plot! I could write that. Not fret about it too much, get me writing again.

Golden.

Right?

Well, it sort of worked. I wrote a little, then a little more, then a little more. All told, I wrote just under 4K. And then I heard about a holiday submission call, and was like this alien story isn’t due until later, let me work on THAT. And I wrote just over 6K.

In the end, I met my word goal for the month (I snuck in with 10,003) and I have two possible stories started. They might both be terrible and uninspired (one is definitely depressing), but I wrote. And that’s a big step of the process–because once you start writing, it’s easier to continue. It’s that lethargy of not writing that drags you down.

Or at least drags me down. I don’t write every day, but getting out of habit of exercising my writing gives me weak writing–in that there isn’t any writing at all.

To my brother: Yeah, you were right, I did it.

A Progress Report: April

A progress report! (And an aside to say I had a couple post ideas to do this month and somehow failed to do any of them.)

WIP: In the month of April, I wrote 13K on my hot motorcycle boyfriend with tattoos story (…which needs a title) and finished it off on the first morning of my vacation (before my devices all decided to NOT recognize the hotel internet). It comes in at 62K and I hope readers will find it as sweet, funny and sometimes emotional as I did writing it. (WARNING: PUNS)

Also, check out the sweet setup I do most of my quick morning writing on (using Google Docs): iPad with a keyboard case. Works best with tiny hands, but is better than booting my laptop in the morning before a busy day.

Revision: I still have ONE scene to write to finish out the revisions on my trans cowboy story (totally not writing this post to delay doing that, I swear….). I’m definitely going to need another beta read, because it went from 26K to 40K. Which the story definitely needed, and hopefully it satisfied all the issues the beta found (and a shout-out to my beta for this, who was awesome and pointed out some weak points).

Knitting: I’ve also sorta started knitting for profit, but it’s not really a venture, so much as when I can’t decided on my next project I’ll start knitting a pride scarf and make them available for purchase. I started with asexual pride, because I’m biased (and aces don’t get nearly enough merch love!). I have three for sale (one with vertical stripes like pictured, two with varying thickness of horizontal stripes). But the pictured one has a “defect” that might not be noticeable but makes me feel guilty. I’ll either keep it or sell it for less than the others.

Publishing: Nothing at the moment. One story I’m still brewing on publisher comments (and is with another reader for some more thoughts). One is still in a pub’s submission pile (no word back yet). Have a few stories that might be ready soon to go out, but will probably be making a call for beta readers too.

Elsewhere: I also went to a small anime convention in Lancaster, PA, this past weekend (see the above comment about trying to sell scarves), which was a good time with friends, although exhausting as always. I was smart and took Monday off though, which is rocking.

Now I just wrapped up a WIP, will be wrapping up a revision WIP, and finished a knitting WIP. So I’m a little lost right now! (And I have plenty of new projects/currently projects I need to get back to, so no worries there….but I’m floating at the moment.)

Finally, if you want to see more random pictures from my life, be sure to follow me on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/alextherate/. Mostly pictures of food and horses, with some proof of me writing/revising, and a game of Where’s Alex Now.

Happy New Year!

Normally I do a review of the past year and if I hit my resolutions and all that, but I really don’t care this year. Instead, I’m just going to look at the highlights:

I published two novellas: Second Skin and A Christmas for Oscar.

I participated in Nano and hit the 50K goal!

I wrote a 46K novel before Nano started (er, I sort of finished it on the first two days when I should have been Nanoing).

I knitted a twin-size Spider-Man blanket.

I made various doctor appointments, donated to a bunch of charities, got new glasses, and spent lots of time with friends (and family).

I watched Yuri!! on Ice explode across my Twitter and Tumblr.

I came out a little bit more to my family.

I had my first In-N-Out.

I rode, I laughed, I wrote, I lived.

And for the new year?
I want to keep being better at my fitness ‘program’ and eating habits.
I want to write 10K a month every month.
I’d like to get three things published this year.

And I think that’s it for this year.

Let’s make 2017 as awesome as it can be.

When Winter Comes a Knockin’

I get a hidin’.

Or so it may seem. It’s actually just general malaise from the short, dark days (I think 75% of December has been overcast or raining), cold making it hard to move, and trying to be part of three tabletop RPGs, ride horses, and get ready for the holidays. But I think I’ve done it.

Point one: I’m ready for the holidays. All my presents are purchased, I’m just waiting for one to come in and only two need to be wrapped yet. Now, I’m only buying for eleven people, so it’s not that many.

I also knitted this scarf, since every Christmas my 4-H club goes around Christmas caroling on horseback. There’s a chance it’s going to be cancelled due to weather this year, but I’m ready! And festive. We always don our gay apparel, and generally go overboard, decking the horses in garland, antlers, and red and green until your eyes bleed.

My plan this year was to be more classy (black wool hunt coat, my scarf, and maybe a festive saddle pad with some red ribbons for the horse). The horse I plan on taking has been through this a lot, so I’m not too concerned, although with all the jingle jangle of bells, it gets loud!

But she knows what she’s doing. Of course, I rode her two weeks ago, but haven’t ridden her since. Last week the weather was terrible, and the ring a swamp, so I didn’t bother bringing her from the fields (it’s a ten-minute walk).

This week she had a cough, so wasn’t really fit to be ridden hard, but should be okay for an easy ride out caroling.

Here’s hoping!

A fair chunk of my time has been lighting a fire under my butt to finishing a big knitting project (it’s a baby blanket, but on small needles with a not-thick yarn). It was knit in the round (and around and around), and I want to give it to my friends for their newborn’s first Christmas. It’s taken a little longer than I expected it to (and I expected it to take a while!) but I’m NEARLY there. Just adding the outward black lines, then filling in the center, and then I’ll be done!

And then back to writing 😉

Having Survived NaNoWriMo

We survived NaNoWriMo.

I mean, I hope we did. Hopefully we also hit our word count (or got to where we wanted to be).

I wrote 50,075 words, and aside from a few days where I fell behind, I kept up the pace of 1,667 words a day.

It taught me a few things, or maybe it reminded me of them.

1. I can write that much in a month. It’s not easy and I couldn’t do 50K every month (without dropping other things in my life) but it’s not impossible. So maybe I need to aim a little higher with my word counts (especially during the winter).

2. There’s more to writing than making words. Yes, I hit the word counts and finished the story, but is the story good? I’m not a strong judge of my own stories, so I can’t say, especially right now, so soon after finishing it. But it does make me want to write a bunch of short pieces (5K-ish) and use them to hone my writing skills (through feedback from my writing group). Then maybe compile them into a book and self-pub them? I dunno, just a thought.

3. I really don’t mind writing vampires. I wouldn’t do it all the time, but it wasn’t a bad experience. I liked being able to fiddle with the myth and add my own twist to things.

4. There is freedom in just writing and not judging. I tried really hard (and think I succeeded) in writing without thinking “Is this any good?” It let me tell the story. Now that it’s done, I guess I can go back and fix things. HOWEVER, as noted above, I do want to improve my craft so that the first draft is stronger and requires less line-level edits (phrasing, structure, language use).

5. I still like writing 🙂

That’s all. Hopefully this exercise will mean good things for my future writing!

A Surprise Day Off

After a delightful day spent with my family yesterday, my plans to join my mother on a trip to visit my grandmother were thwarted by a very grumpy stomach. (And since it woke me in the middle of the night for over an hour, that led to a very grumpy Alex as well.) I would have been okay if I was just slee-deprived this morning, but the grumbles continue, and so I have an unexpected free day (with only a small helping of guilt!).

So I’ll be spending it writing for Nano (hoping to make a big dent in it), sipping tea, and knitting. ….Like pretty much every other day, I guess 🙂

I’ll also be using it to catch up on some of my anime viewing, so I figured I’d share the shows that I’m watching this season! (I watch all shows on CrunchyRoll.com, which is free (with advertisements and a week delay, or only $6 a month for simulcast.)

Yuri!!! on Ice – You MIGHT have heard of this one. It’s taking the internet by storm as a canon gay pairing. It could be easily said to be “cute guys ice skating” but it’s about so much more. It’s about love, self-confidence, familial and friend support, and overcoming obstacles, whether they are your competitors or yourself. The ice skating sequences are carefully and well-done, it mixes just enough humor with seriousness, and it has the internet on the edge of their seats to see where this is going!

Nanbaka – This is a ridiculous comedy show about a special prison where the most troublesome inmates (like those that constantly escape from other prisons) are sent. It’s bright, colorful, and goofy (though it does seem to have a vague plot it’s heading for). The character designs are delightfully ridiculous in appearance, behavior, and weird ‘powers’. This is a popcorn show, through and through, but never really presents itself as anything different. Familiarity with Japanese humor/anime probably helps, not because there are cultural references, but just to help understand what the joke is that they’re making as they reference back to other shows, etc.

Trickster – Mysterious boy who can’t be harmed (for mysterious reasons) and just wants to die, and his new friend who won’t leave him alone and promises to find a way to kill him. Oh, and they’re part of a detective agency. I can’t really recommend this one, but I also can’t seem to stop watching it….

All Out! – If you like closeups of bulging muscles, firm butts, and (did I mention) bulging muscles, you’ll enjoy the visuals here. This show is about a HS Japanes rugby team in a small school and it follows the first years who join this year. The tone of the show is “guys being dudes” (they are rugby players, after all) and it sometimes leaves me wondering why I’m still watching, but I am still watching. The characters can be grating, but they also exhibit character growth that keeps me wondering what’s going to happen next week.

Kiss Him, Not Me – All about a chubby fujoshi (term for a woman who loves yaoi/slash/m-m pairings) who suddenly becomes slim (and thus attractive to all the boys), the premise is weak, but the show is spectacular. Having a basic understanding of fujoshi culture helps a lot, but if you’ve got that, this show is hilarious and sweet at the same time. Now that she’s pretty, the boys want her, but she just wants to see them all hook up with each other. Bonus: She also has a female love interest/option who is a fellow fujoshi.

Touken Ranbu – The basis of this show is that famous historical (Japanese) swords have been turned into humans in order to fight this group of monsters that keeps appearing throughout history to try to disrupt historical events (for reasons unknown). But the amount of time spent with the human!swords fighting the monsters is limited. Most of the time it’s just a slice of life anime about a variety of cute boys all living. In this compound together and the mischief they get up to (sometimes because they don’t understand human things, sometimes just because). The visuals are great here, but if you don’t like pointless slice of life, you probably won’t enjoy it.

That’s it. Hope you maybe found something that caught your eye! I realize anime isn’t for everyone, but as this list shows, the variety of options is really extensive. There’s something for everyone (and it’s definitely not kids’ cartoons!).

Taking a Break

As November approached and people geared up for Nanowrimo, I pondered participating. But November is usually a busy month for me (not sure how that differs from most months). And honestly, at this moment, my muses feel a little dried up. Maybe it’s just because it’s darker out, maybe it’s a million other things. Maybe it’s seeing authors post about it being “a 4K day” and me–not able to write a single word today (on the day I’m writing this) on my WIP–knowing even if I wrote I’d only write 1K. Whatever it is/was, I need to take a break. Mostly from social media. Maybe from Candy Crush.

Okay, yeah, definitely from Candy Crush.

I’ll still be around, blogging once a week (mostly), and doing PR stuff online, checking email, and reblogging on tumblr (because that’s my ‘downtime’ these days). I’ll be on Twitter for an hour each day, I think, to check in, set up tweets, that sort of thing.

And maybe I’ll share the writing exercises I plan on doing this month. Maybe I’ll finish this shifter WIP which I feel like I’ve been complaining about for yonks. I definitely hope to read more. And knit.

Hopefully I can take this month to slow down, calm down, and see how much free time I’ll actually have if I don’t spend it on social media.

So if I’m not around, you know why. If I am around, you can raise a curious brow and poke me with knitting needles.