Way Way Way Too Many Links

Hey I’ve been saving these up for way too long meaning to get around to doing a blog entry. Clearly putting out a series is eating my brain and that hasn’t happened on a regular basis, so this is going to be an exceptionally long Too Many Links.


Writing Begins With Forgiveness – Perhaps some of you need to read this essay now during NaNoWriMo. I totally don’t write every day. I try to average 500 words per day over a month, but that does not happen every day.

http://www.kameronhurley.com/the-cold-publishing-equations-books-sold-marketability-love/The Cold Publishing Equations: Books Sold + Marketability + Love – Kameron Hurley talks about book numbers

Ann Leckie’s “The 10 Best Science Fiction Books”

Cat Vincent muses on the city itself becoming a character in Urban Fantasy

24 Things No One Tells You About Book Publishing

Kameron Hurley: Absolute Zero — The Temperature At Which Writers Give Up

Alan Moore interview about Electricomics

Beginner’s Guide to Researching Your Diverse* Fantasy or  Science Fiction Novel 

Extremely detailed musing about the business of books 


Are sperm whales cultured?

Squirrel’s nest leads to ancient giant virus

NASA’s plan for getting to Mars

Man fails paternity test due to vanished twinO_o human chimeras exist

Bees today – I have bees on the brain of late. Hopefully I find the time to write my martian bee saints story.

How hormones affect mood


1813 Alaska shipwreck: How they survived –  In 1813 shipwrecked sailors survived for nearly a month during an Alaska winter with nearly no supplies. Now archaeologists say they know how they did it.

Lovely article on the Fox Sisters – The sisters who spoke to spirits: How two mischievous girls gave birth to a religion (or why learning to crack your toes can help you gain fame and fortune)

Teaching History with Cookbooks

photo gallery of 1976-81 magazine ads aimed at cocaine users 

Lost rivers underneath London

John Dee’s books to go on display in 2016 (Cool pictures of his margin drawings)

Parachuting beavers – VIDEO

Search historical newspapers


Writer reconnects with the people who robbed and kidnapped him in 2006

Medieval Skeleton Found Dangling From the Roots of a Fallen Tree

The People Who Drink Human Blood 

Files for lawsuit against CIA stolen during break-in at UW

13 Spooky Museums in US 

Woman donates skeleton from closet

What’s in a boarding pass barcode – a good reminder to keep and properly dispose of any identifying paperwork

How to train your Rageasaurus – Good primer in how to live with the rage you feel without letting it take over your life (and good general techniques for setting up conversation boundaries)

Masculinity Is an Anxiety Disorder: Breaking Down the Nerd Box

“Every president has been manipulated by national security officials”: David Talbot exposes America’s “deep state”

Cool Things To Buy:



The Good Matter by Nene Ormes

The Smog Society by Chen Qiufan

Eros, Philia, Agape by Rachel Swirsky

The Game of Smash and Recovery By Kelly Link

Book Launch Week – TAKE ON ME

What the first week of Book Launch looked like from the author side:

Saturday: *turns in manuscript for Book 3*

Sunday: *Sleeps*

Monday: I… I think I feel Ok. Is it OK that I feel OK? Am I panicked and excited enough? Am I doing this right? Should I have remembered to take tomorrow off work? Do most people go to work the day their book comes out? Uh… I better clean my house. *cleans house*


Wednesday: Did this really happen? IT DID! IT DID HAPPEN!

Thursday: I am a complete failure and everything is terrible.

Friday: …hey, people are reading my book… THAT IS AMAZING. I GET TO KEEP DOING THIS!!!! *also cleans house and does errands*

So did I have expectations? Of course I did. I also had hopes. My expectations have always been that this will be a slow burn of a series and that it will have a modest start that will continue to grow over time, boosted by each successive book. I think everyone hopes their book will be the exception and it will be an overnight blockbuster. It isn’t a REASONABLE expectation, but neither is expecting to actually win the lottery when you buy a LOTTO ticket. Thursday was pretty much my brain throwing a pity party that unreasonable hopes did not magically manifest into being. It was also very temporary. I woke up feeling good on Friday and ended the day feeling AWESOME.

I struggled with writing this post, because my first inclination is to pretend Thursday didn’t happen at all. I decided that was lying by omission and an omission that is harmful, both to myself and for anyone looking to my experiences for some kind of “normal”. I’m pretty lucky, in that this isn’t my first rodeo. It’s my first novel, but I’ve had many other writing milestones before this one and I know that a temporary “everything is terrible” after the initial launch excitement has been a normal part of things for myself. Did knowing that make Thursday any easier to deal with? Not really. It did help me to just accept it and keep going. In the past it was trying to pretend that wasn’t actually a thing that has caused me the worst harm. I don’t have to like it, but it’s easier to hug the little prickly hedgehog of feelings until it wanders off on its own.

My book is out in the world. People are reading it, and will read it in the future. Characters and a world that have only existed in my head are out there being shared by people—Some of them even like them! I feel incredibly blessed and excited. I now get to focus on helping people discover this already existing thing and to launch the next two books out behind it. It feels pretty awesome, and each new reader discovering it is this growing snowball of awesomeness.

Round Up Of Links About TAKE ON ME:

Publisher’s page. (Links to buy everywhere plus the first 5 chapters to read free!)

Interview with Me at The Quillery 

My Favorite Bit at Mary Robinette Kowal’s Blog 

Post at Stellar Four about how my writing and museum job interact in mysterious ways (like knowing what dried human plasma looks like on sight causes odd questions about your personal life)

Conversation between myself and editor Brian White (in case you missed it)


Uncertain Tales

Feminist Sonar

Conversation Between Me And My Editor on Book Launch Day!!!


MY BOOK IS OUT!!!! You can buy it at your ebook retailer of choice! Links can be found here as well as a link to read the first five chapters for free. To celebrate I bring you an un-edited conversation between my editor, Brian White, and myself about the launch.

Brian White:  guess what your book is now live in all channels


Minerva Zimmerman:  not the west coast yet :)

Brian White: really?

MZ: yeah no still preorder

BW: weird

MZ: yep, time zone dependent

BW: oh well who cares about that coast anyway

MZ: fuck you and your wrong sided ocean :)

BW: let’s start the conversation right there

MZ: lol Ok

MZ: So. We seem to have published a book.

MZ: or at least you’re saying so, the west coast hasn’t had it happen yet

so I’m future published?

BW: hell in Europe you are already old hat

MZ: Australia?

isn’t it tomorrow already

BW: there is a statue of you in Melbourne City Parke

MZ: that would be so incredibly creepy

BW: It sounds more like a Gibson novel to be honest

MZ: I dunno, I think if there are statues of you, you better be dead.

or married to an artist

BW: You’d think? That doesn’t seem to be the case anymore.

OK so when I was in Kentucky

This was back before they cut off pork-barrel spending

so Mitch McConnell would bring in all kinds of money, and had various things named after him

including, in the town I was working in, the workshop of the engineering lab, which was a big concrete thing with rolling doors etc. and we at the newspaper just called in Mitch’s Garage

MZ: Heh. My boss actually named the bird watching station after my former coworker cause she told him that “Only old rich white guys get stuff named after them.”

BW: I guess it was the “Senator Mitch McConnell Advanced Manufacturing and Robotics laboratory”

MZ: and he just wanted to prove her wrong.

BW: hahaha

MZ: Also she seriously made the whole project work and deserved to have even more things named after her. But my boss is a serious contrarian that way.

BW: You should name something after him

MZ: I am genuinely not sure that is safe to do while he is able to run as fast as I am.

BW: this is why everyone needs a desk bat

MZ: I have a desk swan.

…well I do have a desk bat

but it is the kind that flies

and chitters.

and it’s mounted on a wire

BW: that was a nicely escalated series of 5 lines, each creepier than the last

MZ: There is a lot of taxidermy in my office.

it is pretty creepy

BW: mine too but the reporters hate when we call them that

MZ: The local theater brought back a sheep’s head I didn’t know we’d loaned them the other day.

BW: You have a weird job

MZ: I do, and it doesn’t help that either I or the front desk volunteer is usually hard of hearing so when they say something I thought was “Doll Sheep Head” I wasn’t sure what I was going downstairs to pick up.

BW: i hope you have gloves handy at all times

MZ: Yeah, I learned the hard way that you never touch anything you don’t know what it is cause sometimes touching history is scary.

Oh, I suppose I can tell this story.

So I got a package in the mail and it had a letter and a funny little like… button with a long stick off the back of it that had been packaged inside a clear film canister.

And I was like “Huh weird. I wonder how this works.” And had taken it out and was looking at it, and figured it was some kind of weird historical fastener.

…then I read the letter.

Which informed that the lady who was sending it to me always remembered it being on her mother’s dresser and how she was never allowed to touch it, and it wasn’t until she was older that she learned was a pessary even WAS.

(waits for you to google this)

BW: (googles)


MZ: …and that’s why I always wear gloves. Cause I accidentally handled a 120 year old pessary.

BW: (Waits for readers to Google this)

OK who’s still with us?

MZ: Probably no one? We can probably safely talk about the book we intended to promote now?

BW: Yes the real dirty business

MZ: Holy crap. We published a book… and we have to do it all again, two more times!


In publishing we call that a trilby.




MZ: Trilogy?

BW: Could be

MZ: So my brain is still kind of fried. I just turned in the manuscript for Book 3: Running Down A Dream to you on… Saturday? So I’m a little temporally confused in reality and in fiction.

What do you suppose people want to know about Book 1: Take On Me?

BW: Probably first what flavor it is.

MZ: I tend to go with Tragically Comedic as a description, but I”m not sure that really gets the information across.

I tend to write funny things about terrible events.

BW: I can dig that. To me, this is a book about two people thrown together by an awful  moment, and forcing each other to figure out who they are. Two snarky snarky people. Who happen to be vampires.

MZ: I dunno if snarky is incorrect, it just feels a bit incomplete in describing the characters. Hannah is, well, she’s a teenager and acts like it. Alex personally feels more glib than snarky… but I think the two of them together is snarkyville.

MZ: Can I just mention that I’m really glad I accidentally sold you this series, cause I still haven’t figured out how to query it.

BW: That is a good way to avoid that.

MZ: Unfortunately you do still make me write up book summaries.

BW: I am an editor it is my job to make writers suffer

MZ: …and then rewrite them. And rewrite them again…

BW: This is Writer Torture 101

MZ: I thought that was writing author bios.

BW: I dunno I didn’t really come up through publishing school

MZ: You’re a newspaper guy

BW: Guilty as charged

MZ: That’s actually why I approached you originally. Cause your whole professional life is fixing text.

and I figured if anyone could deal with my little weird inconsistencies, it’d be you.

also, I knew you had a similar sense of humor, which is really important for this series.

BW: Yeah I think that we meshed really well on this

MZ: And I just want to point out that for the record, I did really, truly, originally try to pay you to edit this. Like, I think we even had a price pretty much figured out?

BW: I think that may have happened, yes

MZ: So, when did you think that you wanted to publish this? Like, what was it that made that decision?

BW: It was two things I guess: I loved the world you had created, and especially the characters. Both Hannah and Alex, but also the supporting cast. And I was also excited about the idea of experimenting with three shorter novels, and maybe with more in the future, given that it was pretty clear you had a lot more to write about in this world than these three books.

BW: Which I guess maybe doesn’t answer your question? But I’m not sure I had a single moment. In talking to you about the manuscript though, it was clear we’d work well together and had similar ideas about things like trying a rapid-release schedule and other things on the publishing side of things.

MZ: Yeah, when you suggested we publish it together rather than my original self-publishing idea it felt like the right choice. I still had to rationalize it all out, but I’ve never questioned that I found the right home for these books.

Cause you’ve always been “OK how do we make sure you do what you were trying to do and make everything as good as it can be.”

When we didn’t see eye to eye, it was because I hadn’t managed to convey what I meant.

MZ: Other stuff was just “Here, if you do this it will make this other thing work better”

Ugh this is turning into a self-congratulatory love fest.

throws hedgehogs at you


haha ok so here’s something I never asked you about

In the book a lot, you talk about Hannah having a scent of cherries and steel, and Alex of granite and rain. Where did this touchstone come from, and why those scents?

MZ: Oh. Uhm, well partly it came from the fact that scent is used so rarely in text.

MZ: It seemed like a good layer of information to add on the world, and since my vampires are designed to be plausible, their urge to feed on blood has to do with transmission vectors. They are strongly attracted to the scent of blood that is able to host the virus, so it made sense in my weird little head that people who were already vampires would have a different layer of scent information.

MZ: And I don’t think I ever talk about it, but it’s almost always a mix of two scents and honestly I picked them to reflect things about the characters origins and personality.

MZ: So Cherries and Steel is sort of this modern big city origin mixed with the real smell of cherries, not cherry flavor. The steel also goes with her strength.

MZ: Rain and Granite has to do with Alex’s origins and his sort of earthy, grounding personality. Also that’s a sense memory most people have but don’t actually know that they have consciously?

I mean rain on asphalt is also a very specific smell, but rain on granite is similar but earthier, more natural.

…and he kind of predates asphalt.

BW: Cool!

MZ: I was trying to make sure to use all the senses in information that’s given in the story. I’m not sure how well I did consistently, but I’m pretty happy with how my vampires smell.

BW: It passes the sniff test

MZ: ha

MZ: In some of my other writing, I tend to exaggerate one sense in a character to show how their POV is unique. I don’t do that as much with Alex and Hannah because their vampire-ness is stronger in how they sense the world.

MZ: I think maaaaybe people might notice that more when there’s a third POV that is non-vampire (trying to not be too spoilery)

MZ: I don’t think they mention scent… hardly at all. While both Hannah and Alex tend to notice smell information in the people around them, one way or another.

BW: I definitely think that bears out

MZ: Well, what else do you think we should tell people? The trilogy is finished, there’s no way they won’t gt all 3 books. Book 2 comes out in December, and book 3 in February. It’s vampires, but they aren’t your… little sister’s vampires?

BW: or your mom’s if your mom was into Anne Rice

MZ: …shut up youngster.

Anne Rice was not THAT long ago.

/sticks fingers in ears

la la la la la la la

BW: God rest her soul

MZ: She’s alive. And I would never ever ever say anything about her online, ever.

BW: heh

OK we should get some sleep. Tomorrow we have a GODDAMN BOOK TO FLOG

MZ: wait, was I supposed to order a special book flog?

BW: jesus christ no one reads my memos

MZ: Did you send it from Bibi?

BW: Bibi doesn’t do memos, Bibi dictates memos

MZ: I only read Bibi memos.

BW: shit

MZ: How was I supposed to know any of the others were important?!

BW: This is a disaster

MZ: I do have a duck and a hose and know where to get rubber pants in our size at this time of night?

And… I better annotate the hell out of that last bit.

BW: /snort

I’ll bring the tarp.

MZ: Wooo there aint no party like a book flogging party cause a book flogging party don’t stop until… well, no they never DO end.


BW: /salutes

MZ: /salutes

/presses “Launch Book” button


Conversations Between Writers – Chadwick Ginther


Chadwick Ginther

Chadwick Ginther is the author of the Thunder Road trilogy which concludes with Too Far Gone this week! (Linkies: Thunder Road, Tombstone Blues, Too Far Gone) For more about him check out http://chadwickginther.com/ or follow him on Twitter.

Minerva Zimmerman: Hey! How’s it going? Happy first day of Fall

Chadwick Ginther: Hey Minerva.
Things are going well. Done building my fence, day job is cooling down, and book launch stuff is heating up.  And I love fall. Definitely my favourite season.

MZ: I am drastically behind on all my yard tasks.

CG: I hear that.

Didn’t even plant a vegetable garden this year and I’ve barely kept up.

MZ: I planted tomatoes and artichokes, but the artichokes have to grow a few years

CG: Normally I grow all of the ingredients for making tomato sauce.

This year, I only had to worry about picking the raspberries.

MZ: I keep missing the raspberries, but we have blackberries all over.

I never pick even 10% of them. We made some pies, and started a big thing of blackberry infused whiskey for winter.

CG: OOOH! I love blackberries.

I might plant some bushes next summer.

Blackberries and whiskey, eh? I like the way you garden.

MZ: We have a mild climate, so they just turn into giant hedges everywhere you don’t mow.

CG: Growing season is pretty short in my parts. But I do enjoy having the homegrown stuff come winter.

MZ: We have to finish picking all the apples and get those processed into juice and sauce now.

CG: We made some applesauce from my wife’s grandfather’s tree.

I really shouldn’t use “we” there. My wife made the applesauce. I think I, uh, carried the apples to the car and into the house.

MZ: That counts :)

Apples are heavy!

CG: Success!

MZ: I suppose we should probably talk about books

CG: Sure, why not?

I do like books.

MZ: I think we both have books coming out the first week in October.

CG: Yes. Congratulations to you!

MZ: Congratulations to you! This is book 3 for you

CG: It is. Finishing off an urban fantasy trilogy.

Is this your first novel?

MZ: This is my first novel, the first in a trilogy too, but we’re doing a rapid release so book 2 will release in December and then 3 in February. I can’t figure out if this is smart or incredibly insane.

I’ve had a couple novellas out before this, but yes first novel.

CG: My bookseller experience has shown that it *can* work very well, so I’m definitely wishing you luck.

Novellas are a sweet form. I haven’t published one yet, but I enjoyed writing the first one I experimented with.

MZ: I have a weird question for you. It’s about Loki.

CG: Shoot.

Loki lends himself to weird questions.

MZ: So, I’ve also written Loki… so I have to ask you– When did Loki come into your life, and do you think he’s going to leave you alone now that you’ve finished this trilogy?

CG: Serious answer: Loki came into my life the moment I discovered Norse Mythology (thank you, D’Aulaires’ Book of Norse Myths!). I used to identify a lot more with Thor. I grew up small and bookish in a hockey town, so the idea of the giant slayer was definitely appealing, But in growing up I came to identify with the trickster a lot more.

Tricksters drive stories, and pretty much everything interesting in the Norse stories happens because of Loki, so I don’t think being done with the trilogy means I’m necessarily done with Loki.

I sure hope he’s not done with me.

On the less serious side: I have a number of friends that I’m pretty sure are trickster figures that haven’t quite undergone their apotheosis, so even if Loki does find someone else to keep him amused, they’d keep me on my toes.

MZ: There’s a bumpersticker I want to find. It says, “Loki Loves Me – Oh Shit.”

CG: That is a great bumpersticker. I’ve used Loki’s Favour as an advantage/disadvantage in roleplaying games before. You can ask him for help, but you probably don’t want to…

MZ: Why don’t you give a short pitch for the Thunder Road Trilogy so that everyone has a better idea of why I’m asking you this

CG: Sure.

In the Thunder Road Trilogy after being witness to the fire giant Surtur exploding out of his work site, a now unemployed oil worker name Ted Callan gets tattooed with various powers of the Norse gods by a trio of dwarves.

MZ: Tattooed with his permission?

CG: Oh no. He was ambushed by the dwarves shortly after meeting Loki.

MZ: I hate it when I get ambush tattooed

CG: It wasn’t fun for Ted, but I really enjoyed writing the scene.

He’s fun to torture.

Or I’m just a bastard.

MZ: I think that’s an important quality in a character and a writer respectively :)

CG: They do go well together.

MZ: it’s not very compelling to read about what a great vacation some great person had

CG: No. I think of how much work I have to do and want to hurl their perfect life through a window.

MZ: So this is book 3, the end of the road so to speak

CG: Yeah. It was a real learning experience having to finish off the story. Give an ending that worked for the character, and hopefully the reader.

First time I’ve had to do it. Until I hit send, wasn’t sure I’d actually get it done.

MZ: I’m finishing up the last bits of Book 3 right now so I feel you. I feel you so much.

there’s a lot of praying.

CG: And swearing.

MZ: and gnashing of teeth, rending of clothes

CG: Yup, all of those things.

MZ: I wish I could drink and write. :) I get too sleepy though.

CG: I’ve tried, and I’m not sure whether it went better or worse than the times I’ve tried drinking and D&D.

I also tend to write best in the mornings, so the optics would be bad.

MZ: I think I’ll stick to my steady intake of watering down the blood in my caffeine system

I am finding that I do some things better in the morning, and some at night. Which is really annoying when I’m coming to crunch time.

CG: I hear you. I need so much tea to wake myself up to write, but that creates its own complications.

I definitely edit better at night. I’m more critical after several hours of having to put up with humanity.

MZ: I find that I’m better at author tasks– like blogs, promotion, email, etc. in the morning, and cleaning up writing I couldn’t get to work in the past.

CG: Crunch time always makes me think of that picture of the creative process. The one that is primarily “Fuck off” and then “All the work while crying” just before the deadline.

MZ: I think my internal monologue just becomes a constant stream of “fuckfuckfuckfuck”

CG: I mostly try to fit the promotion and social media and blogging in on my coffee and lunch breaks, or it eats up too much of my writing time.

Although I’ve definitely felt some social media time bloat into my writing time.

MZ: Trying to balance promotion and writing is even harder than I thought it would be, and I didn’t think it would be easy

CG: Yeah. It still doesn’t feel natural to me. I think it’s the years of bookselling. I love promoting other authors, and giving shoutouts to their work, but have a hard time doing so with mine.

MZ: What are you most going to miss about writing this trilogy and its world?

CG: The hero of the trilogy has a voice that I love to write, and one that I can slide into easily. I’ll definitely miss him. I’ve loved Norse mythology for so long, that it’s going to be weird to step away from it for a while.

MZ: I wonder if it ever feels natural to promote yourself? It doesn’t seem like anyone is really comfortable with it.

CG: I think the folks who feel too natural with promotion are the ones I end up unfollowing on Twitter.

MZ: That is a very accurate statement for me too.

CG: One of the early panels I attended had entirely too many panelists, and only one of them was able to talk about the topic without mentioning what he’d done in his work. He just had interesting things to say. That’s what I’ve tried to emulate whenever I’m at a con.

But I think I’m more used to doing the promo thing, than having it feel natural.

MZ: Yeah, that’s part of why I wanted to do Conversations Between Writers. Cause I’ve always enjoyed talking with other writers when I’m at cons or workshops or retreats.

And writers always talk about the most interesting things… and only some of them have to do with writing.

CG: Yeah, this is a really neat feature you do. I like it.

MZ: I should be better at promoting it :)

CG: Ha!

When did you start the Conversations with Authors?

MZ: Uhm… I’d have to look it up, a year or two ago?

About a year I think

CG: So around when we met on Twitter…

MZ: Maybe!

CG: I think we started chatting around 2013?

MZ: Something like that, it had been awhile before World Horror, which was 2014

CG: It was after Jennifer Brozek bought one of my stories.

MZ: Ah ha! That makes sense.

Which anthology was that?

CG: Beast Within 4: Gears & Growls.

MZ: Steampunk weres!

CG: It was cool to meet you at World Horror. One of my favourite things is meeting folks I only know online.

MZ: I was in Oceans Unleashed which was the Aquatic weres for the same publisher

CG: Yeah! I never would’ve written that story if I hadn’t lucked onto her asking for folks to ping her if they were interested.

MZ: I am still sort of amazed she bought mine… I wrote about a were-penguin and were-otter mostly to see if I could

CG: That’s amazing.

I’ve become moderately addicted to otter GIFs.

MZ: Have you seen all the ones that compare pictures of otters to Benedict Cumberbatch?

CG: I went with steampunk werewolves. Which I thought would get me bounced, but my werebat story didn’t pan out.

I have! They’re great! Probably what put otters on my radar as an amazing animal.

That’s kind of sad.

MZ: They are really stinky though.

I was sad I didn’t get to use that fact in my story much.

CG: I hadn’t heard that fact.

So much for my pet otter.

MZ: they are Mustelinae like mink and stuff, they have oily scent glands

Apparently it is really horrible if they take up house under your house.

CG: And with those hands they could get into anything.

They’re the raccoons of the sea.

MZ: they eat a lot of fish, and keep toilet near where they sleep

and rivers! Well, we’re heading toward the end of our appointed time frame. Is there anything you want to make sure we talk about? I mean we can always throw other sea mammals or something on here.

CG: Ha!

We’ve already discussed how we both feel awkward with self promotion, so I’ll dodge that again.

But thanks so much for hosting this. I had fun. Good luck with your book launch!

MZ: Thank you! I hope that you sell tons of the whole trilogy, because people snatch it all up now that it’s completed

CG: Hey, me too! I can spend that money on another trip to the Pacific Northwest!

MZ: Excellent. Maybe we can lure you out here for Norwescon or Orycon.

CG: I’d love to give them a try. I also want to get back for the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival.

MZ: Oh yes, and check out the Portland whiskey festival maybe /steeples fingers

CG: OOH! When is that?

MZ: http://whiskeytownusa.com/ May!

CG: Sweet.

That might even be doable.

MZ: Excellent

I wish you a great rest of your evening and a happy book launch season :D

CG: Thanks! Same to you!

Care and Feeding of the Deadline Writer

I’m currently in Deadline Hell and wrote this handy little list of things to keep in mind when you (read: Future Me who is looking in the blog archives for this) need it.

  • Hydrate – I have a glass bottle I know I need to drink two of a day to stay hydrated. Today I’ve only drank 1.5 of them. (Drinks more water)
  • Eat Protein and Complex Carbs – The days of being able to subsist on junk food alone are long behind me. To keep my energy up and my mental focus, I need to eat good lean proteins. Some foods that work for me are: nut butter on whole wheat waffle with fresh berries, laughing cow cheese and triscuits, lowfat cottage cheese and fruit with honey, yogurt and granola, those pre-packaged snack things with nuts dried fruit and cheese or bits of meat, chia pudding parfaits, hummus and a veggie patty in a tortilla.
  • Stretch – This is a big one. Be sure to stretch out your back, hands, shoulders, and neck. To quote Margaret Atwood: Back pain is distracting.
  • Comfortable Clothes – It is hard to stay focused when your pants are trying to kill you. I hated skirts as a kid, but now as I’m pushing four decades on earth I’ve found that you can wear shorts or leggings underneath them for comfort and warmth and it pretty much the most comfortable thing ever. I’m still not sure they have a high enough armor class for all of my adventuring needs… maybe I should get a leather armor skirt. Hmm. Maybe with little chainmail accents…
  • Sleep Enough – I can’t pull all nighters and function like a reasonable human being anymore. I absolutely can’t do it two nights in a row. If you can, super. Just know your limits. I find 16 hours a day of writing stuff is about all my brain will do no matter how long I stay up. I’m much better off if I start that as early as humanly possible and then go to bed by around midnight to repeat it the next day than to try and push for an extra hour or two of half-ass productivity when I can sleep 8 hours and do 16 again the next day. If I DO push for that extra hour or two I will lose twice as much time the next day. It just isn’t worth it.
  • Medications – I have asthma and arthritis in my hands and back. I’m currently in depression remission. I have a pretty good handle on my various health problems, but I know I need to be extremely proactive to keep them this way when I’m under stress and deadline. I need to take all of my preventative medications and treat any symptoms immediately rather than wait for them to get “bad enough”.
  • Calendar – speaking of medical things. If you have hormone fluctuations either due to biology or treatments—Track your productivity and general well-being against your cycles/levels. I know for me, I found that there are about 4-5 days I am useless for fiction composition due to hormonal brain fog (also where I have the worst arthritis and depression symptoms). I absolutely need to take that into consideration when I’m looking at deadlines and project work-rates.
  • Shower – There is a tendency to put off showering when you know you won’t be leaving the house or seeing anyone outside your nearest and dearest. It seems like you are saving time, but you aren’t. Shower. You will feel better and you will get that time back in higher productivity because you don’t feel as gross. Seriously, I’m an adult; you’d think I’d remember that showers feel awesome especially when I’m stressed by now.
  • Smells – I like to use scents to help put me in a mind frame for different stories. It’s just a little extra trick to help me get my focus. Sometimes it is very specific to the story (I use cherry-scented ink when I write Hannah’s chapters for example). Other times I just want to fill my space with a scent I don’t smell when I’m not writing. It’s just an environmental cue to remind my brain that I’m focusing.
  • Sounds – I used to work for a .com that data entered and digitized information and track samples for online CD retailers back before retailers sold digital content. One of the perks of that job was that we had access to pretty much every music CD that existed in the world and we could check them out and listen to them whenever we wanted. And believe me when you’re data entering all the performers for each track of the third copy of Der Ring des Nibelungen of the week, you want to be listening to anything BUT Wagner. So it turns out because that job happened at a very formative time in my working career I have a super hard time focusing if there’s no sound around me. Sometimes I need white noise, other times music, sometimes I make whole soundtracks for particular projects. This particular deadline has had a soundtrack of Chillstep mixes from YouTube.
  • Morning Pep-Talk – This is a new thing. I’ve started writing myself a pep-talk every morning when I sit down to work. Basically I write out how I am feeling and the things I am worried about and all the things I know I’m capable of and how I imagine the day’s work going well. I… I started this out of frustration of not being able to focus, so I wrote myself a note about how I couldn’t focus but I really needed to and wanted to and how much I could get done if I could just focus… and it was freaking magical, so I’ve kept doing it. I dunno. Don’t ask me. I’m just rolling with it.
  • Scene Outline – I also pick the next scene or two I know I need to write and I just write a list of the things that need to be conveyed to the reader in those scenes to connect scenes or move the plot along. This is super easy and I really doubt I’ve spent more than 2 or 3 min per scene doing this, but it really helps because then I have a record of what I knew needed to happen going into the scene when I am actually knee-deep in it and can’t remember where I was going next.
  • Love and Support – I don’t think anyone can ever get through a major deadline without some form of love and support from others. It doesn’t matter if that’s online, on the phone, seeing people for a quick lunch, or loving partners who help carry the weight of other tasks. No writer is an island. Don’t try to do it all yourself. It’s OK to take time to get that love and support when you need it. It’s also super helpful to have the kind of friends who understand that a quick lunch and a squishy hug will help you refill the energies you need without trying to push you for more. Or understand when you cancel lunch because you finally figured out Chapter 12 and need that time to write.


(cleaning out my email version)

Why ancient armor had great abs

Saying Goodbye to a secret bookstore

4 bodies identified at Jamestown, Another article about the same

Moon Mission Travel Expense Report

Only Woman to Receive Medal of Honor

Gut Microbes and your Mind

Anthropologist Analyzes NYC garbage

Greek burials with evidence of precautions against the undead

Evolution of corn

Cave thought to hold the key to human origins 

Bogue’s alternate plan for Seattle

Inner thoughts of a soon to be debut writer

I’m having a hard time concentrating on my work on RDAD (The Shattered Ones: Book 3). I originally wrote the three books as one overly long book, but there was a time jump from 1986 to 1990 before the third act, so when we split out the story into three shorter books there’s only a second half of a book for book 3. So I’m writing at least 25k of connecting material that kind of shows what the new normal in 1990 is before setting all the machines in motion toward the final act (at least for these three books).

The world of The Shattered Ones is extremely big in my head. I not only have all the characters that appear on these pages but the history and future events of this world and far more inhabitants that don’t have page time in these books. This works for me and against me. I have a great deal to draw upon to make the world feel real and big and drop hints for other things… but I also have to make sure I don’t screw up my ability to tell other stories in this world later on. I also have to make sure that I don’t have feature creep so to speak with these details because I need to tell the story of Alex and Hannah first and foremost and adding any details that undermine this is not helpful.

There’s also the mental dance of knowing that I feel really good about Book 1, and reasonably good about Book 2 (because it is in final pre-copyedit edits), but know that Book 3 is nowhere near done. Logically I know it is publishing in February and I have time to make it sing. Emotionally I feel like I’m letting everyone down by not having it to that point already. This is ridiculous. I absolutely understand that. I need to put one word in front of the other and do my edit passes one at a time. I can’t jump to finishing polish when I’m doing a zero draft. That way lies madness. I just can’t seem to quiet the impulse to feel like I should. I’m hoping that admitting this publicly will quiet it more than trying to go round and round inside my own head about it is.

My zero drafts are done with a pen on paper. I do my first edit pass as I type up my words. I find I do a lot of “oh, I meant this” edits and “ugh that sounds awful let me make it better” tweaks. I’m arguing with myself if I want to do absolutely everything on paper first and then type it up, or if I should start typing up a bit every day after I find myself tapped out for new words. I’ve been sticking with paper up to this point, but I think that typing after I’m tapped out will make me feel a bit more of control of things.

I’m also lucky enough to have my brother Chris living with us over the summer. Chris is my alpha reader so he basically sees or hears stuff before anyone else. The reason he has that position is that he does not critique, he only asks questions for clarification. Basically I can work out plot and character stuff by reading him new material out of my notebook and he can let me know what’s on the page and what isn’t. I’m sure there are people who don’t need this step, but I need to think stuff on the outside of my skull when I’m having problems and the only way that seems to work is if I have someone I can talk it out with. Chris reacts to the story, not to the writing and that’s super helpful to me in telling how things are going.

I thought I’d hit a really bad snag the last couple days and I spent 20 min reading the two scenes in question out loud to Chris as he ate his lunch… and found that both scenes just need to end slightly sooner so there aren’t dangling details. I’d been stuck trying to move each scene forward and now I know that I just need to end them a little sooner. Never underestimate how much help reading something out loud can be. I also know from Chris’ response that the scenes work really well, so that makes me feel a lot better too.


Starting to get a lot of replies back to queries for guest blog posts and it’s making me a little anxious. On the one hand it is exciting and cause for celebration, but it’s also putting things on to my To Do list with every response and that’s feeling a little overwhelming. I’m having to compartmentalize the promotion stuff mentally. I look at the emails as they come in, and know that they’ve been logged into the beautiful spreadsheet my lovely publisher has made for me. This is for my information and I will deal with it when I decide to, because nothing is currently hanging fire with that. I’m just being kept in the loop so that I can properly schedule my time. *deep breath* Everything is Awesome and I’m part of a team. (ha now that’s stuck in your head too!)

Any questions, comments? Words of encouragement? Things you’d like to see me blog about in the run up to publication?


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