2019 Recap

What happened in 2019.

  • I stopped being lactose intolerant! I don’t have any answers for you. I don’t know what happened or why but I’m not going to ask either because now I can eat cheese again.
  • We finally went to Japan! Phong and I have been wanting to visit Japan forever and we were saving up for the last couple years. It was amazing! We can’t wait to go again.
  • I finished a couple more manuscripts and started querying agents for one and publishers for the other.
  • My mom’s husband, Pat, passed away. This hit us really hard. Pat was one of the kindest, warmest people I have ever known. I got to spend the start of the year with Pat and my mom here in Sweden and made some incredible memories. I am so happy to have had that time with him.
  • I took an impromptu trip to the states to be with my mom for 7 weeks. It was my first time in Oregon! Having grown up in California and then lived my adult life in Sweden, I was not prepared for that level of moisture. Or the spiders. One managed to get into the car with us on the dashboard. I, of course, noticed it while we were driving and yelled “Holy shit!” scaring my mom who thought we were going to get hit by a car. When she saw the spider she grabbed a water bottle (never losing her focus on the road) and whack-a-moled that bitch.
  • Oh! And I prepared a novella to self-publish this upcoming year. It’ll be my first go at self-publishing!

It’s been an eventful year. Not one of my more productive ones though. But I got to see a lot of family and friends and do some traveling. Really hoping to get a couple books published this next year. Fingers-crossed!

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Writer’s Block?

I saw someone pose the question to a writing community on Twitter, asking for suggestions on what to do when she was having writer’s block. To which, someone replied that there is  “no such thing” as writer’s block. “Just write,” the person instructed.

Don’t do this.

Don’t be THAT asshole.

Even when I didn’t think that I personally ever had writer’s block–I would never have presumed to know everyone else’s experience and claimed it didn’t exist. There are a shit-ton of things in the universe I do not know. In many MANY cases, something might exist even if I’ve never seen it or felt it myself–and that’s true for you too.

Another thing to consider, is what exactly you imagine writer’s block is. I know, you’re thinking this is simple–it’s being blocked from writing. Sure. But, as I said, until very recently I didn’t think I EVER got writer’s block. I considered myself exempt from the whole horrible experience because I could just write, whenever I wanted to write.

But those were the key words, “whenever I wanted to write.” I write a first draft in about a month or two of solid writing and then go through bouts of not writing. I usually spend the time editing or rereading or doing something else that looks productive enough and masks my complete flat-line of drive to write. And I definitely don’t have a writing month when I don’t feel like it. I ramp up to it, get excited, get everything in order and pretty much feel like I’m going to explode with new stories if I don’t get started.

I don’t often have to deal with writer’s block because I am not in a writing phase all the time–but some writers are. Some writers get new words on the page daily. Some have multiple stories going at the same time.

Good advice for writer’s block?

If it’s really bad, just step away for a while. Binge watch a show. Read a book. Go for a walk. Do something else and just take a breather.

If it’s light, maybe try writing something else entirely. Something completely indulgent with zero pressure.

You know yourself best. You know how you’re feeling and where you find your inspiration. And you know when you can push through and get your writing done and when you just need to step back for a breather.

 

Do you get writer’s block?

What’s the best and worst advice you’ve been given?

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How To Avoid Being In A Horror

I’ve watched/read a lot of horror and here’s my advice if you want to stay out of one. No guarantees though… just helping to increase your odds.

  • Don’t move. And if you HAVE TO move, don’t move out into the forest, or into your dark mysterious childhood home, or into an estate with a stranger’s furniture left behind. And most importantly, don’t move into one of those three houses they use in all the horror flicks! Safest bet–no stairs. Don’t know why, but ghosts and murderers love stairs.
  • Don’t buy boxes or wardrobes you can’t open and then bring them home to investigate later.
  • Don’t have kids. Sorry. I know most adults do, but it really amps up your chances of being in a horror flick…
  • Stop playing with Ouija boards!
  • Don’t break into closed stores, graveyards, warehouses, abandoned hospitals, or theme parks. It’s a crime, but more importantly, it could lead you into a starring role in a horror flick.
  • Don’t be a douchebag. Whether it’s a curse or Hannibal Lecter, a lot of people would have survived if they hadn’t been assholes to start with.
  • DO NOT PICK UP THE BALL. Sometimes a ball, usually red, will come bouncing out of seemingly nowhere–down the stairs, down the hall, across the yard, whatever. Don’t pick it up! Don’t touch it! Don’t kick it! Just turn around and pretend you never saw it.
  • Make no deals with devils. This should be obvious, but I guess it’s not. If someone wants to make a deal that sounds too good, it is. If they’re vague and sketchy–just assume they’re a soul eater, politely decline and run.
  • Don’t swim in the ocean. Preferably ever but definitely not at sunset/sunrise. And that’s really just life advice. Try not to flop around in the ocean when sharks are looking for breakfast.
  • Don’t hitchhike, hire sketchy tour guides, or throw sass at questionable people in the middle of nowhere.
  • DO NOT DRAG YOUR SIGNIFICANT OTHER INTO THE WOODS TO PROPOSE TO THEM WHEN YOU YOURSELF ARE NOT AN EXPERIENCED OUTDOORS PERSON.  You see how I don’t even know what an experienced outdoors person is called? And I would not take someone into the woods with me, away from all civilization and safety, because I think it’ll be quaint. It won’t be quaint. You’re gonna get eaten.
  • I’d add don’t desecrate graves, steal from alters, or take pictures of things you’re not supposed to take pictures of…but I did already say not to be a douchebag.
  • Don’t go off the trail.
  • Don’t invoke spirits/witches/demons.
  • Don’t vacation in a cabin in the middle of the woods.
  • Oh, and don’t be a brunette. Sorry.

Okay, I think that’s it… If you have more to add, let’s hear it!

Also, how many of these have you already done?

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Writing The Whicker Witch

I have a couple projects in the works this year and among them are a few horror novellas/novels I’m writing and editing. I usually set aside a few weeks to write my first drafts. They’re sloppy but I get them done and then work on edits later on.

Last month I wrote my first draft of a work I’m currently calling The Whicker Witch. The first week went super smooth, the second got a little bumpy.

I dedicated a couple weeks to it and wrote five thousand words a day. My goal for the project was 50k but that was really just a guess. I wasn’t sure if it would come out longer or shorter.

I swear, I sent my dad a text first. He replied and that led to me calling him up at his 1:15am to talk about bridges for my book.

So the second week didn’t go quite as smooth as the first but I managed to stay on target for my word count. It went over the estimated 50k and into a third week. But it’s done!

And this is pretty much what it looks like! I write all my first drafts on Scrivener because you can have the outline in the same screen as well as a sidebar with character cards and this pretty little project target thingy!

Now, I should be on to editing this or one of the other finished first drafts on my desk BUT I jumped on another novella outline I had ready while I was still on a writing kick.

So, wish me luck! Because now I’m writing a novella about a demon and a mobster on a joyride!

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Burn Out

Burn out is something I’ve heard many artists and creators talk about and thought, naively, that I had been excused from it. I thought I’d been blessed and simply never burned out–never hit that unseen wall where all our plans and schedules and inspiration went smashing to bits.

I was wrong. And, in hindsight, I’ve had bouts of burn out plenty of times before and just didn’t recognize it. Mine sneaks up on me. It’s like the gas runs out but for a while, the wheels keep rolling and I think I’m fine. I’ve got no energy, no lust to work on my projects, no oomph to get shit done. What’s worse, I forget why I even want to do any of my projects. When I look back on the weeks of burn out, it seems like sinking but I know that when I was living it, I didn’t realize I was going down. I didn’t realize what it was at all, until I woke up from that haze of procrastination.

But, this time, I steered into it. I tried not to panic or question it. I blew February watching Netflix, listening to podcasts, reading books, and writing fanfiction. (And I went to the day job, so I wasn’t literally pajamas 24/7–but mentally I was.) My lists of to-do’s piled up and I was a ghost on social media.

Every time I’ve burned out, this time included, I’ve reached the point where I think, “Oh shit, I am never going to get anything done again. This is it. This is all I’ll ever want to do.” And it’s never been true. There comes a day, when I wake from the burn out like a storm has passed and suddenly I don’t want to watch TV or write fanfics anymore. Suddenly I have energy again and ideas for my stories and a desire to tackle social media and get out there and interact with people.

It’s taken me years to figure out, but I always come back. So, I try not to panic when I don’t have it in me to do everything–or anything. Instead, I try to listen to my body and what it needs, whether that’s a nap, or to binge watch soap operas, or write fanfics, or eat pancakes. I can’t do everything all the time. Sometimes my to-do’s pile up. And that’s okay, because I can do it later. I think the trick, for me, is recognizing and respecting my own limits and not making myself feel bad for them.

This picture below is one I took the day after I woke up from my hazy February. I think I got more done on the 1st of March than I did the whole two months before and this week I’m tackling the editing of a ghost story I wrote last October and it’s going great!  So, I’m going to leave this here for Future Me, in her next burn out, to look at and remember that she’s great at this! …But she doesn’t have to be great at it every damn day.

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