Get Your Own Yardstick

A while back (maybe two years, best guess), a writing buddy of mine shared a pro tip for writers that really resonated with me. Today, I finally realized why it struck such a deep chord for me.

Drew Chial once said something along the lines of, “Don’t measure your success by someone else’s yard stick.”

At the time, I thought, Well, that makes a lot of sense. But there’s so much more to that idea than what’s on the surface.

Before I explain that, you need to understand a few things about me. I’m fearless. Confident. Easily broken. That doesn’t make any sense at all, I realize, but I can assure you it’s all true.

I’m not afraid to try or to fail. I approach everything I do with the same attitude: I will learn how to do this, then I’ll learn how to do it well. There’s no room for, “I don’t think I can do this.” For me, that thought doesn’t usually enter into the equation until much later, when someone puts it there.

And that is my biggest weakness. I’m working on changing that. I don’t want anyone to have that much control over me.

“Talk to me when you’re actually making money. Then I’ll be impressed.” (Money is just something we need to buy things. It’s not a reason for doing things.)

“There are better ways you could spend your time.” (Not for me.)

“You’re not actually doing anything.” (I’m actually doing a helluva lot more than you do, daily.)

I’m a different kind of person than anyone I’ve ever known prior to diving into the publishing world and Twitter. I’m finding, more and more, that I’m not alone. It just feels like it when I’m offline. I think I finally know why, or one reason anyway.

Wake up at 6 am, get ready for the day, go to work. Come home at 5 pm. Eat supper. Bathe. Go to sleep. Rinse and repeat.

This isn’t the kind of life I was meant for, I know that now. I don’t thrive on a rigid structure. It’s bearable, to an extent, but it’s not good for me. And the whole “measuring success by someone else’s yardstick” thing took on a whole new meaning for me this year.

I measure every aspect of my life by someone else’s yardstick. We all do. And, to an extent, we have to. I started homeschooling my girls this year, and I learned that the typical yardstick simply doesn’t work for everyone. I’ve always struggled to wake up early. It’s something we have to do, something I’ll probably always have to do. And it will always be a struggle. That’s simply not my natural sleep cycle. Maybe I could move to a time zone that compliments my sleep cycle, or maybe I’d just adapt and struggle again. That’s a train of thought for another day.

My point is that not everyone benefits from waking up early and getting right to work. For homeschooling, whether we wake up at 6 a.m. or 8 a.m., we start school at 9 a.m. This is the time when my kids are most alert (not counting 9 p.m. when it’s time to go to bed). It’s when they’re most productive. It’s when I can teach them and they absorb the information and are best able to apply it. If I start ELA at 9 a.m., we’re done by 9:30. For several weeks, we were getting up early and getting started first thing. And at first, it was okay. Everything was new and exciting.

The new has officially worn off. We’re several weeks into LEAP and iLEAP test prep with one week to go and shit. just. got. real. But we’ve also settled into a routine that all of us benefit from. I had to learn that yardstick pretty much everyone in the history of ever is held to (the early bird gets the worm) is bullshit. We get our worms at 9 a.m. and there’s no one competing for them. Because my girls are learning at a pace that suits them and in an environment most comfortable for them (blanket fort-desks, anyone?), they are thriving.

The oldest is two weeks ahead in her studies and the middle child is one week ahead. We do science experiments all the time and actually enjoy them. When learning about measurements this past week, we had fun in our kitchen! Fun isn’t something that happens at the ass-crack of dawn. Not for us.

When we’re up too early (earlier than 6 a.m.), we’re exhausted all day and can’t sleep that night (oddly enough, it throws our sleep schedules all out of whack). So that particular yardstick is bad for us. And this got me thinking about success and yardsticks.

What if it’s the yardsticks that are causing so much failure?

At this time, I’d like to submit Exhibit A: Standardized Tests.

First, let me say that I do believe there are benefits to standardized tests. They are one way to assess a student’s progress. But some people freeze under pressure. And make no mistake, kids are people. So for those people, those tests actually do more harm than good. Because some people (especially impressionable young people) believe they aren’t smart or aren’t good enough when they fold under that pressure and “fail.” But what have they failed at? At taking a test. Not at mastering a specific set of skills. Just at demonstrating on paper that they’ve mastered those skills.

Now, this post isn’t about schools or kids or tests, it’s about yardsticks. But I think that’s a great metaphor for writers. We have expectations. Some of them are perfectly reasonable. Some are completely outside of our control. But when we’re measuring our own successes, we need to take a good hard look at our yardsticks (or whoever’s yardstick we’re using). We need to make sure we’re not taking this test just because it’s expected, or even because it will demonstrate our mastery of a specific skill set.

Why are you writing? If you have a goal in mind, great! That’s your yardstick. There are many yardsticks like it, but this one is yours. If you don’t have one, then you may need to do some soul searching and find yours. Have you ever looked at a yardstick? A ruler is basically the same thing, just 1/3 the size. But it’ll do for our purposes. If you don’t have a yardstick, grab a ruler. Or google it. Or just follow along. 🙂

You know how long your yardstick (or ruler) is: 3 feet (or 1 foot). That’s 36 inches (12 inches). That’s important to note. Each inch is a mini goal that will mark your progress along your yardstick. Have you marked your mini goals? Might want to get on that.

There are smaller units of measurement, too. Within each inch, you might have a 1/2 goal. You may divide the two halves of each inch into 1/4 goals. You can go even further than that, and when you do, you have tiny, easy to achieve goals.

So take your yardstick, and measure your goals. Don’t worry about what Dave is doing. Dave has his own yardstick, and you have yours.

Advertisements

The Support System Struggle: For Writers

9 out of 10 writers will tell you that writing is a solitary endeavor. After just a few years in the game, I think I know why.

As a writer, there’s a part of you-a pretty damn big part, depending on just how obsessed you are with your ‘hobby’-that you have to protect from almost everyone you know. And there are two reasons you have to do this.

1- You can’t share your struggles.

If you complain about how hard any part of this is, you’ll inevitably be met with some variation of this response: “If you hate it so much, why do you do it?” It boggles the ‘normal’ mind why a person who is perfectly capable of pursuing any number of interests would pursue one that challenges them so. You know why you do it. The motivation behind each of us is different, but it all comes down to one very simple thing: you’re simply compelled to write. The world is dark when you keep all your words inside you, and grows darker still the more you force it down. But when you write … bliss. It’s fleeting, like a butterfly that alights nearby but flutters off the second you try to reach out and grasp it. But for that one moment, if you just be still and enjoy whatever small success you have achieved, you know peace. Speaking of successes, that brings me to my next point.

2- You can’t share your successes.

At some point, you’ll manage to pull off something you’re really proud of. Go ahead and tell someone that short story you blogged got 30 likes. Unless it’s a fellow writer or blogger, “they” won’t get it. They may even respond with something like, “Talk to me when you’re making enough money to pay the bills and then I’ll be impressed.” They are effectively telling you that you’re wasting your time by doing what you’re doing and wasting their time telling them about it.

It’s not this way for everyone, but it is this way for enough writers, collectively, that we have accepted that writing is a lonely endeavor. I don’t think I have any advice on how to deal with this. I’m struggling with it myself.

I do have a great support system, just not close by. The online writing community has saved my shattered confidence more than once. And, of course, my #1 fan: my mom. And I do have friends who know, instinctively, that “Congratulations” is the appropriate response when I share news I’m excited about, and that “It’s okay, you’ll get past this” is what I need to hear when I’m venting.

I guess if I had any advice on how to deal with the support system struggle many authors face, it’d be this: protect your successes and your struggles from those who simply cannot understand them. And share them with those who do.

Keep doing what makes you happy. To borrow a line I’m particularly fond of from someone whose name I’ll have to google …

“Don’t let anyone steal your joy.” -[Google was not helpful with this one. Apparently there are many versions of this, and it seems to have originated from the bible. So there you have it. Even God agrees I’m right about this much. :P]

â™Ș♫â™Șâ™Ș

I’m a little awkward, full of doubt.

Here is my foot and here is my mouth.

When I get all flustered just look out,

‘Cuz you never know what’ll come out.

â™Ș♫â™Șâ™Ș

tea-party-1138915_640

 

Just having a bit of fun. Photo courtesy Pixabay.

One Last Run

Okay, folks. I had to fight for it, and I had to dig deep, but I got something so I feel a bit better. 🙂 It’s rough–no research or editing or looking back, I’m just getting back into a groove–but it’s something. Here’s to 2016 and writing more stories. Lots and lots of stories that have no purpose other than to sit pretty on this blog because I need them here instead of weighing on my heart and pacing the halls of my mind. And hopefully, it does something for you too.


It’s worth it. In the end, it’s all worth it.

Cowboy Cartoon

Toby sat on the bull, one hand gripping the pomel and the other hanging loose at his side, staring at the last horns he’d ever see, God willing. If he took home the pot tonight, he could buy his little girl that pony she’d been after since her first rodeo.

Her mama didn’t care much for the cowboy kind of life, but she’d let the little one ride. The new had wore off not but three years after little Emma was born. Too many days and nights spent raisin’ a baby alone will do that to a woman.

Shelly had agreed to name her after his grandmother back when she still liked him. She hated him so much now, she’d have changed little Emma’s name if she could have, just to spite him. She tried, but he had a lawyer just as good as hers and she just ended up looking like an ass.

He felt bad for that. Shelly was a hard woman because he’d made her that way. She was soft and generous and everything a man could want in a woman before the rodeo circuit wore grooves into her heart.

No, she didn’t care much for him, but little Emma still said he was her hero. And that was enough to get him through this last ride.

He was gettin’ too old for this shit real quick. When the cold weather set your bones to aching, it was time to hang it up. The dull roar of the crowd sounded like a freight train pulling in and he was ready to ride that train back home. Nothing waited for him but a two-bedroom cinder block house on a piece of land somewhere the world seemed to have forgotten. That and his horse Ben and little Emma. But he was ready to go home. For good this time.

A garbled announcement blared over the speakers and the roar kicked up a notch. Time to get to work.

He adjusted his grip and strained to hear the familiar sound of leather creaking under his fist. Not over this crowd. Seconds away from retirement, he leaned forward, clenched his thighs, and held his free hand aloft. The horsepower thundering in his chest could have beat a Hennessey Venom in a ten second sprint. He only needed eight to win.

With a nod from him, a rodeo hand pulled the latch, the gate swung wide, and the bull shot out. He threw his hand high up in the air, riding the motions of the bull’s battle to throw him.

Eight seconds and he could retire, buy little Emma that pony. His whole body jolted from one impact after the next.

Seven seconds and he’d never have to spend another night so far away from home. Inflamed shoulder muscles begged for release.

Six seconds, just six more seconds. Sweat trickled down his back and made his palm slick inside his glove. He’d have blisters for sure this time.

Five seconds in, his hand sliding inside his glove burned from the heat of friction.

Only four seconds left, the only thing keeping his hand on the pommel was sheer strength and determination. He grit his teeth and held on tight, keeping his free hand high and clear.

For little Emma, he could hang on for three more seconds.

The bull stopped thrashing around, planted its front hooves into the dirt, and kicked its hind legs high up behind them.

The recently healed fracture in his arm screamed a warning and Toby cried out. He was too close, he couldn’t let go now. Win or lose, this was his last rodeo.

He lost count of the seconds. Time was frozen anyway, the excruciating moments stretched out forever. But he’d ride this bull to Hell before he’d let go. Tears sprang to his eyes and heat spread through his arm and up his shoulder.

He closed his eyes and rode the bull. Felt nothing but little Emma’s tiny arms around his neck. Saw nothing but what her smile would look like when she saw that pony. Heard nothing but the squeals of a little girl he hoped like hell would always be so happy to see him.

The buzzer sounded. He loosened his grip and jumped free of the already tiring bull. They knew when the game was up. Toby’s whole right side felt like it was on fire, but it was worth it. In the end, it was always worth it.

But this time, he truly meant it. This was his last ride. He had a little girl to get home to.

 

I’m Stuck.

Hey, guys.

I know it’s been a while since you’ve heard from me. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve opened a document or this dashboard to write flash fiction or a short story. Something just for fun, like I used to. I’m mightily afraid I’ve lost my touch. Funny how it’s almost always fear that tosses a wrench into my writing plans. Sometimes it’s a fear that I can’t do the story I have in my head justice. Sometimes it’s a fear that nobody really wants to read what I write.

This past year, I put my mind to writing for a goal. I had a purpose and I chased that purpose until it translated to words on a page. And I’m proud of all I’ve accomplished. I can’t even tell you how many words I’ve put down. Good ones, too. I didn’t write a bunch of stories, I focused my attention on what I needed to accomplish and got it done. That’s good, but I seem to have lost the ability to write with abandon, like I used to. I have to have a purpose now. I need to get back to the place I was before 2015, the year of big plans, big dreams, and “big” writing. But I need to stay right where I’m at too. I need to do both.

So here I am, just rambling away instead of writing a story (of any length) because I’m stuck and I’m scared. But I’ve been here before, countless times. I know I can do this, I just need to let go. I feel like a monkey reaching into a jar and gripping a cookie, unwilling to let go even though I can’t get my hand out of the jar and come out with that cookie. I know I’ve gotta let that cookie go to get my hand back. But what is that damn cookie? What do I need to let go of so I can have my free-writing spirit back?

Perfection? No, I’m not a perfectionist. I set out to tell the story honestly, as close to how I “experience” it as possible. I’ve always done that, and disregarded everything else until it was time to edit. Maybe that’s the cookie I’m holding on to.

This past year, a good friend of mine trained me to write and edit and write and edit mercilessly. It was thrilling. I could write and edit a first draft simultaneously by the end of the year. Each scene was mapped out ahead of time. Every session was exciting because I could see the story so clearly. I never needed so much beforehand knowledge. I used to could take a prompt and run with it. I want to do that again. But I find myself needing a purpose, a plan.

That’s my cookie.

I’m not afraid to write. I’m afraid to write without a plan. My god, what have I become?

“Well, there’s an eye opener, make no mistake.”

Yep, you’re right Sam. Now what to do about it?

“Do or do not, there is no try.”

Okay, Yoda. I’ll, er, do.

Wish me luck, guys. Or, at least, some words that don’t add up to total suckage.

I'm Stuck.

Hey, guys.

I know it’s been a while since you’ve heard from me. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve opened a document or this dashboard to write flash fiction or a short story. Something just for fun, like I used to. I’m mightily afraid I’ve lost my touch. Funny how it’s almost always fear that tosses a wrench into my writing plans. Sometimes it’s a fear that I can’t do the story I have in my head justice. Sometimes it’s a fear that nobody really wants to read what I write.

This past year, I put my mind to writing for a goal. I had a purpose and I chased that purpose until it translated to words on a page. And I’m proud of all I’ve accomplished. I can’t even tell you how many words I’ve put down. Good ones, too. I didn’t write a bunch of stories, I focused my attention on what I needed to accomplish and got it done. That’s good, but I seem to have lost the ability to write with abandon, like I used to. I have to have a purpose now. I need to get back to the place I was before 2015, the year of big plans, big dreams, and “big” writing. But I need to stay right where I’m at too. I need to do both.

So here I am, just rambling away instead of writing a story (of any length) because I’m stuck and I’m scared. But I’ve been here before, countless times. I know I can do this, I just need to let go. I feel like a monkey reaching into a jar and gripping a cookie, unwilling to let go even though I can’t get my hand out of the jar and come out with that cookie. I know I’ve gotta let that cookie go to get my hand back. But what is that damn cookie? What do I need to let go of so I can have my free-writing spirit back?

Perfection? No, I’m not a perfectionist. I set out to tell the story honestly, as close to how I “experience” it as possible. I’ve always done that, and disregarded everything else until it was time to edit. Maybe that’s the cookie I’m holding on to.

This past year, a good friend of mine trained me to write and edit and write and edit mercilessly. It was thrilling. I could write and edit a first draft simultaneously by the end of the year. Each scene was mapped out ahead of time. Every session was exciting because I could see the story so clearly. I never needed so much beforehand knowledge. I used to could take a prompt and run with it. I want to do that again. But I find myself needing a purpose, a plan.

That’s my cookie.

I’m not afraid to write. I’m afraid to write without a plan. My god, what have I become?

“Well, there’s an eye opener, make no mistake.”

Yep, you’re right Sam. Now what to do about it?

“Do or do not, there is no try.”

Okay, Yoda. I’ll, er, do.

Wish me luck, guys. Or, at least, some words that don’t add up to total suckage.

Hey, guys!

So, a while back I wrote a short story for inclusion in an anthology titled The Faces of the Crying Girl. The original story (written by Alex Nader) inspired the imagination of a group of authors, and those authors have banded together again to share what sparked their interest in writing the story of the Crying Girl.

(Reblogged from Prose Before Ho Hos)

***

Hello out there in internet land. How goes it? Alexander Nader here and earlier this year I helped put together an amazing anthology that was metal as fuck. For the next few days (8/31-9/4) it’s free and this seemed like a good time for you to get to know the authors a little better. So here they are for you to love and cuddle, just don’t poke them with a stick because they will break you in half if you mess with them.

Ken Mooney

What makes you metal (as fuck)?

As if my taste in music didn’t do it, the piercings, the tattoos (Thomas Pynchon, X-Men, Nine Inch Nails & my own work), the love of the word “fuck.” I’m also (probably) one of the few published authors who has had a waking craniotomy which really helped to get out a significant number of the amount of fucks I give.

What aspect of the original story inspired you the most? (ie the music, the blood, the supernatural, the drugs?)

A little bit of everything, but some of it was location. I spent a lot of my teenage years and early 20s at concerts and gigs, and here in Dublin, a lot of those venues are old converted theatres, places with a real sense of history and decadence. Seriously, have yourself a google of the Ambassador or the Olympia (ad a Dublin to the end of that image search) and you’ll see where I see this stuff playing out in my head.

Ashley Davis

What makes you metal (as fuck)?

The love of my music life is TOOL.

What aspect of the original story inspired you the most? (ie the music, the blood, the supernatural, the drugs?)

The idea of Audiophilia is what got my wheels turning. I liked the idea of a drug that blurred the line between a high and reality, so I ran with that.

Bart Van Goethem

What makes you metal (as fuck)?

I’ve seen KISS, Metallica, Iron Maiden, Dream Theater, Joe Satriani and many other metal and hard rock bands live in concert more times than you can imagine. I won’t even bring up my metal record and cd collection.

What aspect of the original story inspired you the most? (ie the music, the blood, the supernatural, the drugs?)

The girl. Who was she? How did she end up at the concert? In my ehm, eyes she was innocent.

 Jessica West

What makes me metal as fuck?

My voice (the writing one and the actual one). It’s deep and loud and clear when I don’t hold back, and can be incredibly harsh or surprisingly pleasant depending on which way the switch is flipped. Like metal, my voice is typically visceral, brutally honest, gritty, and, on rare occasions, insightful and eloquent. Kind of like Slipknot, I guess.

What aspect of the original story inspired me the most?

The story was great, but it wasn’t the story itself that drew me in, it was the first three writers who really brought it to life that did it for me. You (Alex), Chris (Joriah Wood), and Jon (J. Edward Paul a.k.a. Eddy a.k.a. The Sexy Mailman) formed a natural collaboration and it worked out so well, I really wanted to be a part of that. Thanks for making that happen.

Rachel Ortego

What makes me metal as fuck?

The metal mod on my amp. Especially when I crank that bitch up.

What aspect of the original story inspired me the most?

The idea that music is powerful enough to have a lasting impression on people (even if it does kill them) has always been fascinating to me. What is it about music that transcends cultures and language barriers and all that stuff? When I read the original story the idea for my story just kind of came to me and I had to write it.

T.R. Orchulek

What makes you metal (as fuck)?

I spent five years in a metal band, playing shows and worshipping at the altar of bands like Tool, Metallica, Faith No More, Mastadon, Pantera, and the Deftones. I know that mindset. I know that life. I still listen to it everyday. It’s in my blood. Now, I channel those same feelings and urges through my writing. So, naturally, there’s a lot of chaos and violence and rage, but also beatuy, love and hope.

What aspect of the original story inspired you the most? (ie the music, the blood, the supernatural, the drugs?)

The mystery of the thing. The girl – who is she? What’s her story? What happened to her before that fateful night? What is Audiophilia, and where can I get some? What would a Throat Slit Six song sound like?

Katsyarina

What makes you metal (as fuck)?

I’m pretty far away from this music genre usually but after watching “Deadman Wonderland” for me it’s one song – “One Reason” by Fade that was opening there – a story of bloody metal reality I loved. So, yeah, it makes me feel that way every time I hear it.

What aspect of the original story inspired you the most? (ie the music, the blood, the supernatural, the drugs?)

For me it was this mad desire of Johnny to have his show (this special moment for him) no matter what – it made me wonder about the price he’d pay for it and those girl definitely had something to do with it.

Edward Paul

Why I’m metal as fuck:
I am NOT metal in the slightest. No tattoos (terrified of needles), no extreme sports (allergic to pavement burns), and no musical talent to speak of (tone deaf). I’ve never even broken a bone. Closest I get was having hair down to my ass in highschool. Does that count? Then 1/100th metal as fuck.

What inspired me from the original story:
It was girl for everyone, wasn’t it? How could it not be? The supernatural quality of a still, suffering beauty in a sea of discord. It’s an image that begs exploration.

Chris Forshner

Metalness:

My mom was scared to send me to Kindergarden when I was proudly declaring Alice Cooper as my favourite and singing along. I grew up in a house of rock, and threw everything else in along the way. It’s impossible to write without a song to distract the brain into focus.

Story:

Blood always captures my attention. Why is it there? What effect will its leaving have? Growing up in a pile of horror novels, it’s always a sign of something.

Rachel O’Neil

What makes you metal (as fuck)?

I didn’t choose the metal life. The metal life chose me. Just joking! I’m definitely not metal in any way, but music speaks to me. With metal you have to go all in – full blast, leaving nothing behind. I love that passion. It makes me want to put more passion into life.

What aspect of the original story inspired you the most? (ie the music, the blood, the supernatural, the drugs?)

The power of music is so important to me and I felt The Crying Girl was a really cool interpretation of that. Music is what gets me through the day, so seeing music be such a heavy part of violence made me want to dig in and know more.

///Tangentially, on the power of music, in the “unpleasantness” between North and South Korea this week, South Korea blasted K-pop songs at the border (including one of my fav songs lol). North Korea was like “Um, Dude. That’s gonna have to stop. Like, RFN.” This concludes story time with Rachel.///

Daniel Cotton

What makes you metal (as fuck)?

Musical taste more than anything else – first gig was Rammstein, seen Slipknot, In Flames, RATM amongst others since.

What aspect of the original story inspired you the most? (ie the music, the blood, the supernatural, the drugs?)

Personally, the single most powerful aspect of the original story was the image of the crowd and the crying girl captivated by the live music. It encapsulated the spine-tingling connection between a spectator and the artist, which somehow means that everything outside of that connection becomes diminished and non-existent during the live music experience – and this particularly resonated with me given that I have seen a host of awesome metal bands live.

Chris Smith

What makes you metal (as fuck)?

Ultimately, what makes me metal as fuck is not caring if people think I’m metal as fuck. I know what I like, I know what moves me, and I put my energy into the things that are most fulfilling. It’s not that I don’t like people, or want them to like me–quite the contrary. I try not to be a jerk about it, I want to get along, but if you don’t like what I do? It’s cool. I don’t mind. We can all be ourselves.

As far as the trappings though–I have a sweet metal goatee, examine my playlist and you’re gonna find about 85% of it is the tightest metal you’ve ever heard, and the biggest problem with “11” is that it’s never loud enough.

What aspect of the original story inspired you the most? (ie the music, the blood, the supernatural, the drugs?)

First, the atmosphere. I could feel the crowd’s energy, and the band members standing on that precipice between nerves and release.

The funniest part of the whole thing is that I somehow missed the drugs the first time I read it through. In fact, I missed the drugs totally until *after* my story was written. Would that have affected the route I took? Most definitely. I think I worked them into a later draft, but my own sloppy reading skills changed the whole course and direction of my story.

Really, though? The image of a girl crying at a metal concert…if you’ve seen it, you know why cameras cut to them. Music is an emotional experience to begin with, and when someone is crying at a concert, you know that they’re totally captured by something. There’s an emotional purity there that is going to be hard to find anywhere else.

And when those tears turn to blood? Come on…who doesn’t want to know what happened there?

Andrew Moore:

Metal:
I hitchhiked across the Kavango region in norther Namibia, spent the night with a stranger in the regional capital, then walked 4 miles to a hospital in the morning with a bag strapped to by back: I did all of this with blood poisoning working its way from my right thumb to my heart. I was out of the hospital in an hour and continued to my thing.
The story:
Having complete control of creating this girls life story while trying to make it fit within the general theme of the original plot. It was a good exercise and a lot of fun.

Alexander Nader:

Well, fuck. I just sat down to organize this post and read through everyone’s answers for the first time. Immediately, I am humbled that these excellent story tellers took cue from something I wrote. Second, all of their answers kicked ass, what in the hell is left to say?

What makes me metal (as fuck)?

Ummm, shit. I once bit the head off a bat. No, wait, that wasn’t me. Okay, this one time I totally
no, wait, that was Danzig. Okay, okay, fine. I listen to my music like really, REALLY loud. Okay? Maybe?

And as far as the story inspiring me, it’s funny. The original story was all about the guitarist for me. The girl was an afterthought of sorts. Then Chris was like, ‘Dude, I have to tell her story,’ and I was all, ‘Go ahead, bruh’, and then Jon jumped in like, ‘Hey, guys, can I play too,” and I told that fucker no, but he showed up anyway, and then Jess got all on Twitter like, ‘Hey, you guys should make an anthology,’ and just like that Faces of the Crying Girl was born.

The book is awesome and it’s free for a few days. I promise it’s worth at least ten times that much.

Crying-2

Closing up Shop

UPDATE: I’ve given it some thought and come up with a few reasons why I shouldn’t just quit this blog. While I do have a lot of things on my plate and won’t be able to post often, I still do have a few things to say now and then, and this is the best place I have to do so. There are a lot of links to my site from others, and I don’t want to break those links. I’d also have to revise and reupload my books on Amazon, Smashwords, and Barnes & Noble to send people to my new site. It’s an editing site, though, so that doesn’t make much sense. Best to keep this one going for readers who want to check it out. I still get new followers, so I’d hate to delete a blog when folks are just starting to follow me.

So I’ve decided to just revamp. There will be writing (there will always be writing), but I’m not sure what, exactly, I want this blog to be. I’m giving it some real thought, taking my time, and, hopefully, doing it right this time.

Stay tuned. Coming (back) soon …


 

Some of you may have noticed my recent shift in focus from writing to editing. I’m not giving up on writing, but as I continue to learn and grow I need to look at how I can be useful, not just what I can do. Now that I’m looking back over the last couple of years with the perfect vision that only hindsight allows, I can see that I’ve been very selfish. This blog, nearly every post, has been about me or for me.

My grandparents and parents and aunts and uncles, pretty much everyone throughout my life, have raised me to believe I can do anything I put my mind to, and that I should be proud of every accomplishment, no matter how small. I still believe that, I’m just shifting gears.

As I’ve learned about writing, I’ve made it a point to learn how to read and review books. Then to critique work for reciprocal partners. Then to self-edit as best I can. Then to perform line and copy edits, which led to the need to either learn about structural and developmental edits or stop. Y’all know me well enough by now to know I can’t stop. So now, I’m a Freelance Editor who writes. Or a Writer who edits. The former requires a certain mindset, one that I’ve found better suits me.

I’m happier when I’m working consistently. And although I enjoy both writing and editing, the latter is the only one I can do consistently. I don’t burn out. I don’t get bored or distracted. Not like when I’m writing.

As I said, I’m not giving up on writing. I’ve got several projects going on behind the scenes. I want to focus on those. So I will no longer be posting to or maintaining this blog. On June 1st, I’m going to remove all its content and replace that with a single post directing those who’d like to keep in touch to my new site, my new newsletter, and my social media accounts. As of August 31st, I’m going to delete this blog entirely.

I can’t thank you all enough for the encouragement you’ve given me every step of the way. No matter what my plans are, every year brings some new and exciting adventure. This year has brought a shift in focus that’s allowed me the opportunity reciprocate in a way I previously hadn’t even considered. That I can bring in a bit of money in the meantime certainly doesn’t hurt. 😉

Here’s to growth, to purpose, and to Reading-Writers and Writing-Editors everywhere, and everyone in between!

Best wishes and warm regards,

~ Jess

And the winners are … (February Giveaways)

Last month I hosted a Q&A over at Goodreads. Anyone who participated was automatically entered to win a free copy of A Strange Alliance or any ebook up to $2.99. I also offered a free $5 ebook, any ebook, to anyone who signed up for my monthly newsletter. On March 1st, when the smoke cleared and the dust settled, I drew numbers using Random.org for the winners. And without any ado whatsoever, here be the winners!:

John Wolschied and Kevin Gross

I’ll be in touch soon guys!

Thanks to all who participated in my Q&A or signed up for my newsletter. Be “seeing” you all soon.

~ Jess

 

Open Call for Metal Flash

There’s a Metal genre in fiction writing, right? 😉

Join us at Prose Before Ho Hos and write a flash fiction or short story about The Crying Girl. Head on over there to find out more.