News & Updates

Over the years I’ve read conflicting advice about running a website or blog. Some so-called gurus say that a blogger absolutely must post something no less than daily. Others maintain that three times per week is sufficient. A few will tell you that three times per day is the best way to go. I’ve read that a blogger must post on the same day(s) every week, at the same time every day, on Tuesdays after 11pm, Thursdays after 6am or Saturdays at noon. None of these “experts” can seem to agree with each other, so I’m going to go with the advice I was given when I started building websites for myself over a decade ago[1].

I’ll post something when I have something to say. With all the noise and garbage on the internet, do I really need to add my own inane ramblings?

I wish more people would ask themselves that question before publishing. After all, didn’t we learn as children that just because you can doesn’t mean you should?

“Yes, Timmy, I know you can ramp your bike over your little sister, but that doesn’t mean you should.”

They’ll tell me I won’t build an audience fast enough. Or that if I don’t optimize my SEO efforts[2], Google won’t come ’round as often. But if most of what I ever posted was unfiltered bullshit just to have something fresh on the site, would you really enjoy that? If you’re anything like me, and I know I am, you don’t stick around sites that are full of… well, filler. Not everything needs to be deep and meaningful, but it should all have a purpose beyond “sticking to a schedule”.

So, why haven’t I posted anything in a few weeks?

Because I haven’t had anything to say.

Today I do.

(And there’s another post coming this afternoon.)

  1. The earliest archived version of my first site is dated May 16, 2001. The site was live for about a year before that snapshot was recorded, to the best of my recollection. Ironically, it was to be a site related to writing. Twelve years and a dozen sidetracks later, here we are back to writing. (And yes, I was seriously going to use Dante Michaels as a pseudonym and I’m not even a character in a romance novel.)  ↩
  2. Also, screw SEO. I’m also not including some tangentially related image in this post because I trust that you can read 400 words without needing a pretty picture to help you out. New rule: posts get pictures only when the pictures enhance the post.  ↩

On the second Monday of every month, the Houston Science Fiction/Fantasy Writers Monthly Meetup takes place at Theo’s Restaurant on Westheimer downtown. Last night I had the supreme pleasure of attending my third meeting.


I learned about the ten-year-old group during several of the writers’ panels at Comicpalooza back in May; many of the panelists are members of the group. Writing can be a solitary exercise and it’s fantastic to get out of the house and hang out with writers in my chosen genre. Each meeting is led by Keri, the group’s organizer. She chooses a general topic of discussion as well as a writing exercise prompt. I have not yet participated in the writing exercise, but I will be next month.

Last night’s meeting format was different than the previous two that I’d been to. According to Keri, the changes were made at the behest of several members to accommodate an ever-growing attendance. Whereas the previous months found us in a back room at Theo’s seated around a great many tables lined up in an “L” formation, last night the room was arranged in small groups. Each small group consisted of around half a dozen people. We talked amongst ourselves for fifty minutes or so, then Keri turned the proceedings over to Dominick D’Aunno for the next twenty. He led the whole-room discussion based on what each small group had come up with.

The topic was “Maintaining your motivation: how do you keep going for the long haul? What inspires you? What discipline do you follow, or tricks do you play on your brain, to get the work done?”

Overall, the new format was a great improvement over the previous, I feel. The room did get rather loud at times, but that will happen with 39 people in close quarters. The information and inspiration were invaluable to me, and I tried my best to offer a few viewpoints of my own.

I find music to be a great help in focusing my attention on writing; without focus, motivation is of little consequence. I’m a Spotify user, which makes playlist management and artist discovery really easy. One of the most fun aspects of Spotify is the sharing of playlists. If you’re not a Spotify user yet, click my link here to create an account (it’s free)[1]. Once you’re signed up and you’ve got Spotify installed, check out my playlist, “Instrumentals While I Work”.

Next week’s topic is “Setting the scene, finding the right words. How do you use the language of your particular story (or POV character) to create the world in which it takes place? How do word choices impact the story, the genre, the characterization?” I love language, though that may not always be apparent in the style in which I choose to blog. I’m already counting the days.

In addition to the regular monthly meeting, writing workshops are being scheduled. The next one, September 29th, is closely related to the topic of the regular meeting: language. The workshop for October will cover editing. These sound great, and I’ve already RSVP’ed for the first.

The meetup is a bit of a drive for me, but absolutely worthwhile.

  1. This is my personal referral link. For every five new users I send to Spotify, I receive a free month of Spotify Premium. For information about why I sometimes use referral links, see the Linking Disclosure page.  ↩

Last June, I wrote here about writing and a decision to focus on writing. It was all very lofty and well-intentioned. I was full of vim and vigor and rarin’ to go. Let’s do this!

Last July, I published a story called Dragonwatch. It’s a little flash fiction or vignette that I thought was fun to write. Mostly, I wanted to see if I could set up a couple of characters, get readers to click with them, and then pull the rug out and reveal that they weren’t who the readers thought they were. Based on the feedback[1], it was successful. Go me.

After that, I went back to focusing on podcasting for about two months. I diddled around a bit with some story ideas, and told anyone who asked that I was working on a few things, but I wasn’t making any progress with fiction. Out of the blue, a great opportunity fell on my lap. I was contacted by New Media Expo (the Artist Formerly Known as Blogworld). NMX wanted to know if I’d be interested in writing a guide to podcasting. I’d been writing articles for their site for a while, and they considered me a good fit. The ebook was to be an in-depth look at podcasting, and they’d pay me.

This was me.

This writing took about two months in late 2012 and The Ultimate Guide to Becoming a Podcaster was released on November 30th. It was very well received. And they paid me! Real money! Someone, a real company, paid me to write a book.

I am officially a published author.

And I put a page up about it at QAQN, but didn’t write about it here. There’s no good reason why I didn’t, but I think that, at the time, I felt that this site was supposed to focus on my original fiction.

Fast forward to early 2013. Something happened that I wasn’t expecting. I was getting burned out on podcasting. I stopped writing for NMX. In addition to some larger personal issues, I started to feel that the weekly task of producing a podcast was becoming a chore. After the book I hadn’t written a word, and that was frustrating as well. I decided to put the podcast on hiatus. April 10th was the last episode for the foreseeable future. I turned back to writing.

I started getting organized. I organized my computer’s hard drive. I organized my notes. I organized my Scrivener projects. An idea for a story called “The Dwarves of Kun Xilas” started taking shape. Another idea for a trilogy of novels crept in.

In May, I attended Comicpalooza 2013. The educational sessions for writers were fantastic, and I came away with many new ideas and inspirations. I decided that I would write a story spanning three eras involving time travel, which is always risky, but I think I can handle it. I also decided that by Comicpalooza 2014, next May, I would have finished work under my belt. Not necessarily published, but finished. I mapped out a very aggressive plan.

In the space of one year, I intended to write three novels and nine tie-in short stories. I know, right? Talk about zero to sixty in 0.5 seconds. Naturally, that would prove to be impossible, but I’m getting to that.

I had everything mapped out on a calendar. I’d work on the first novel until November, then I’d write the second one during NaNoWriMo, then write the third until May 2014. Each short story would get about a month, not including November. It was a great plan.

Turns out, I’m not a great planner.

The first month, June, was fine; I did write and finish (but for the polish) my first short story. I did work on the first novel. July, I crumbled. I was overwhelmed, I felt like the first story (“The Secret Tunnel” is the working title) wasn’t good enough and I wasn’t progressing the first novel (The Last King of Avven is the working title) as well as I needed to if I was going to stick to the plan. The only sort-of-upside was that I had a solid idea about the second short story, “Ghost Stories”, and work on it was moving along fairly well, but not well enough for the plan.

So I ditched the plan. I’ve spent the past month making a new plan. The goal date is still Comicpalooza 2014 next May, but I’d finish one novel and however many short stories I can reasonably come up with. I may or may not participate in NaNoWriMo. I gave myself breathing room.

The Last King of Avven is still the first novel, but after attending last month’s Houston Science Fiction/Fantasy Writers Meetup, I settled into a really great idea about that trilogy I wanted to write. I was able to nail down the characters and the story. The world building that I’d completed, coupled with the notes and backstory I’ve written since the meetup, totals about 30,000 words and a number of maps. My universe has been set in motion.

I’ve written 7,105 words for Avven so far. Only about 93,000 to go.

No problem.

After all, I’m a published author.

  1. Granted, the feedback was from friends, family and acquaintances, so it was hardly unbiased, but still. I’ll take it.  ↩