2016 by the Numbers

Every year at my day job I have to pull together information for everything I’ve done for the year. Usually, this comes this week, someone several levels above me running through and saying they need it. I try to be prepared.

So this is my 2016 Roundup of all the shit I’ve done.

ALL the numbers from my 2016!

Quick review of my goals?

Back at the start of 2016 I made a post about my goals.

Narrating

I really dove into narration this year. While I’ve done some of it elsewhere and at other times in my life, I’ve never done as much or as all in as this year.

I narrated 3 novels. One of my own, one for another author, and one for another author under a penname. (You can see narration at Audible.) Three novels this year! I narrated three goddamn novels this year.

Oh but we are just getting started.

I also narrated 7 novellas.

Plus I narrated 2 parts for the anthology I’m an author in. (That isn’t out yet, still waiting for the other parts next year.)

Something like 50 hours of professional narration that I did in 2016.

Podcasting

While we are on the topic of talking into a microphone. I created a podcast. Yup 600 Second Saga was an endeavor of this year. I’ve had 46 episodes so far. (A Halloween bonus episode and 5 preseason episodes.)

I’ve gotten the chance to work with a lot of amazing authors. I’ve gotten the chance to share their stories in a new way and share something I love. Bite-sized stories and audio. It has been a lot of learning, but I also feel like, at least as of now, I made some good decisions at the start.

I still love the name. I still love the format. I still love the time limit.

Some of the stuff I tried I didn’t like as much. I wasn’t thrilled with Halloween month. I liked the episodes, but I just didn’t feel like I did what I could have with it.

Marketing! I need to get better at marketing (Like! Share! Subscribe! Submit!) but I think I have a good, high-quality product. When I started the podcast I subscribed to a few other shows that started at the same time…I’m the only one left.

Studio

Going along with these two I’ve seriously improved my studio. Overall I’m really pleased with it, with the quality of sound I get, with how long it takes to produce things. I’m still improving and changing. But I really did all of this in 2016. So…created a studio.

Publishing

This was the first I did any self-publishing. In 2016 I self-published 1 novel and 3 novellas (1 under a penname).  HOLY SHIT I PUBLISHED. Plural. A fucking novel. I published a fucking novel.

I’ve learned a lot from what I’ve done. A lot of time was dedicated previously, and in this year, learning about publishing and what I needed to do to be successful. I feel good about what I’ve done. I have so much distance to go. But I’m more determined than ever to keep going.

I’ve got plans for publishing a few things in 2017 as well. I have 1 novella in a penname that is 85% of the way there. I have a Smoke Jumpers novella planned for, I believe, March. I’m hoping for a second Smoke Jumpers piece in the fall but I’m less sure on that one. I am very much hoping the anthology I’m a part of (Monsters in the City!) will come out this year. My piece for that is done and has been for…a while…a long while.

Writing

Holy shit I wrote this year on top of all that up there?

I wrote 4 novellas? Wow. I wrote 4 novellas. Wrote, edited, edited, edited, and got to various stages of ready.

I finished editing 1 novel, I am still working on editing another novel.

I wrote…mumblemumble 40 plus flash fiction pieces. Not all of them were good. Many got tossed upon finishing.

Huh. I’d been feeling like I was doing bad at writing this year. Maybe not that bad?

Goals

Most of my goals were writing goals – 30 in 3? Done. So very done. In less than a year at that. I did not write a novel. (Fail.) I did more than the 1 novella. I did not get a full anthology worth of Smoke Jumpers. But I did get a few pieces, and one published.

Other

Also this year? I started an email list. I’ve been trying to be really consistent with blogging. I’ve started trying to use FB and Twitter and Pintrest as an author and better.

Goals

Reading. I did quite a bit more, and in other genres. Not quite as much as I planned, but very much on the right track.

Critiquing. I did a couple of novels. I tried to sign up for Scribophile.

(I had a giant thing at work where I’m part of a training program that has taken a lot of this fall and will take a lot of spring. I also got a promotion to a fancier title this year.)

And I’m sure other things I’m not even remembering.

Holy shit it has been a hell of a year. No wonder I’m exhausted.

Save

Random Roundup

Mostly not of this earth, but a little of this earth. Just a normal random roundup.

Also humans.

Fire, watch it burn - from Pixabay
Fire, watch it burn – from Pixabay

Not of this Earth

Planetary rings are incredibly beautiful. They may be the remnants of the destruction of dwarf planets.

The rings are pieces of Dwarf Planets that got torn off in passing, which were then ripped to pieces!

Juno – I don’t care how old this is – is out of safe mode and awesome. NASA is awesome. Humans managed to send tiny hunks of metal, plastic, and glass and throw them super hard and whoop they went out into space and made pictures of planets that we can see (and that we can’t) as just little specks of light. Humans. Can. Be. Awesome. Then again, robots are the ones doing the hard work. Packing up, leaving home, journeying through potentially lethal and unknown space to explore the universe. Didn’t humans used to talk about going out and exploring? Now we just let robots have all the glory?

At least that will be another reason for AI to not want to bother to destroy us. If you write about AI I can’t recommend this enough.

The true understanding of natural language, the breadth and generality of human intelligence, our ability to both play Go and cross the street and make a decent omelet—that variety is the hallmark of human intelligence and all we’ve done today is develop narrow savants that can do one little thing super well.

A quick funny – sort of funny?

Whatever public works is important. Or pay the troll!

Bird Brain

Birds and brains and bird brain, oh my!

Brain

Memory and the brain endlessly fascinates me. Everything I read about it makes me want to know more.

Forgetting seems like a bad idea, but remembering seems even worse. An article from Sci Am about Why We Forget?

The combination of both forgetting processes means that any message is unlikely to ever remain exactly the way you wrote it.

Read the whole thing but this line really sticks with me. I always try to keep this in mind. I think, but I might be misremembering it.

Birds!

ʻalalā
ʻalalā with it’s brilliant brain

Go watch these videos. This is a from Nature about the species wide tool use in Hawaiian crows. There are 6 videos of ‘Alalās using tools. They are extinct in the wild and only exist in captivity but they still use tools. They make their own, they pick the right one for the job.

I know humans who can’t always do that! Seriously, the videos are mesmerizing. (You have to have a subscription to read the whole article, though your local library may have you covered on that, check, librarians are your friends, but the videos are all there for the watching.)

Lest you think it is just the corvid that has a brilliant bird brain, no dear friend, the pigeon is happy to get in on that too.

I think we need to reconsider the “bird brain” insult. I can’t detect cancer cells on a mammogram. And sometimes I write nonsense…Hm.

 

Missing

What real life things are missing from fiction?

Jocelyn at 52 Letters wrote a great post about the Top Ten Parts of High School she wishes YA authors talked about more. Really good to think about, but fantastic if you write YA. I don’t write a lot of YA at least nothing that happens in high school.

missing piece
Missing puzzle piece

I’ve been thinking a little about what is missing from other fiction. (I’m also a bit inspired by the great series Elizabeth Rose has been doing about heroes and heroines.)

Finding things that are missing seems slightly harder than I expected. Part of it is that I don’t really want my fiction to really reflect real life. No one wants to read “And then she slept moderately well for a couple hours and then woke up to use the bathroom and then went back to bed and tossed and turned before finally falling back asleep.”

All of this kind of comes back to the voice thing as well. We don’t want a real voice, we don’t always want reality in fiction. There are some elements though that are valuable, or at least could be more interesting or dramatic.

Missing Drama

Real financial trouble

I feel like financial trouble in books (and tv) is weird and fake. People will go from having trouble eating one day (and they never have to eat the last bag of rice that might be old at the back of the pantry, just don’t have anything) to taking a fabulous trip the next day. This seems a bit better in books, but there are still a lot of times where I roll my eyes. If you want to hand wave and make someone obscenely wealthy, fine. But don’t pretend someone is super poor and then have them never have actual consequences from that.

It also seems to reinforce this idea that poor people are poor because they want to be. Not that there are situations that make it hard, like not having enough gas money to get to work and losing your job. That’s drama.

Sibling/Family humor

Not exactly drama, but even with siblings you hate (which is common in fiction) or who you are fighting with (also common) you share a great bit of history. You knew the same people, have the same reference points. Like it or not, you probably even have in-jokes with those siblings or family members. Why don’t more of them use it? Having moments of shared points leading up to something, not just, “We are from the same blood.” but more like, “Remember the time when mom was super tired and washed the red shirt in with the whites and you had to wear pink shirts to school for a week.”

Giant drama over tiny things

Fiction often has giant drama over giant world-ending things. People create drama over tiny things. People scream and fight like crazy over the remote or dinner or other things that mean nothing. Usually, because there is something else giant and stressful in their lives. These moments can be such a good way to show so much about a person. It can make a person look petty, but I don’t think it has to, it’s about how you tell that story.

Does the person break into tears because they forgot the sourdough bread and the sourdough was their daughter’s favorite and she’s sick and all the stress of dealing with that is just overwhelming? It can be touching.

What else?

What other things could be done more/better in fiction? What do you feel is missing from the things you read?

Save

Quick roundup

Falcons

The Smoke Jumper series features peregrine falcons and I’ve been reading a lot about them. They are predators, which makes them great scarecrows.

peregrine falcon from Carlos Delgado

Reviews

They are incredibly important. I’m really bad at them. I highly recommend this great write-up about why they are important and how to do them.

Swimming cyborgs

This one comes back the we don’t know what robots are. Or we can’t accurately see the future. Or just science is awesome. I think mostly that last one. It is interesting what we take from nature. Sometimes things you might not expect. Also swimming and belly dancing have a lot in common. (This story was so interesting it made it into my cache twice.)

 

Hot Hot Summer Roundup

My part of the world is hot. Gross, sticky, swimming through the air hot. And not just hot outside, but my office building is ish, it’s hard to brain when it is hot. To everyone who manages to brain work thing when it is hot my hat is off to you! So here’s a hot hot summer roundup. I’ll be back next week with more about Dangerous Metal and some formatting and publishing stuff.

sun
hot hot summer

What is worse hot or cold?

This story isn’t as glib as my headline. Deaths from Heat and Cold from the Reality Check. A podcast from Canada. Where it is colder. Mostly. Depending on where in Canada.

Stay safe

If you get out to “enjoy” the outdoors and work out stay safe please! The Mayo has tips.

SUPER COOLED!

Whatever I’m 5 sometimes. I love the super cooled water trick. Though I may love the whole sodium acetate supercools to all warm and toasty levels more. Maybe.

Jiggly!

Reading Roundup

A little bit nerdy a little bit awesome a reading roundup this week. Not a list of books, but of very interesting tidbits of reading. (Hey these roundups aren’t always tied up neatly together, sometimes they are just some cool things I read during the week or stumbled across!)

Reading

How NOT to read like a beta reader from Kate Heartfield

I absolutely run into this when I do a lot of reading for …not pleasure. It is such a hard rut to get out of. I do feel like I do a little better with audiobooks because I don’t see things like grammar errors or other things, usually the narrator will read them correctly even if they are written wrong, which is awesome. But it is also harder to dwell or go back. I very much appreciate these tips.

Census and History

So Canada is full of nerds.

Nerds who love statistics. (You heard about how they crashed the census site right?) This is full of really great information about why census data is important, what they collect, how it comes out. And it includes links to data you can play with. (The US has some similar kinds of tools, though a lot of it is in hands of other organizations.)

census form
This is a Cuyahoga County, Ohio US Census form

Teeny Tiny Terrors

It is a mental floss counting list

I do love folklore traditions and the tiny little minions of doom that come with many of them.

I think that R2-D2 and BB-8  sort of fall into this category too. A little mischievous.

Publicity Roundup

I’ve been doing a lot of reading about publicity, marketing, outreach, and such recently so I thought I’d do a publicity roundup. These are a few of the more interesting links, resources, and even an ad I ran across.

Publicity infographic

Infographic from Book Baby. Because infographics are pretty.

I am doing most of the things on the list…ok like halfish…I am working on developing a couple contests, likely for audiobooks, coming up soon. Stay tuned!

Spending an hour a day in social media seems like a lot to me. Though if it was one of the less productive hours of the day it wouldn’t be so bad. And if writing was my full time job it would be different. For me it seems like the best thing I could do with an hour would be write. I don’t always get to do it. Sometimes it is a blog post, sometimes a flash piece, sometimes novel work. But I feel like if I’m going to commit another hour a day to something it should be writing. Though every hour can’t be productive. I can’t expect to spend 4 hours a night after 9 hours of work being productive at writing, that’s not how you brain, or at least not how I brain.

A great ad

Tree Lobsters has a fantastic ad for a new short story collection. (I didn’t know the Tree Lobster guy did short stories, but a read and love the comic so I’m going to guess the stories will be as fun.

Awesome ad/comic

I don’t know that I’ve learned how to make a great ad, but I think this is one. Funny, visual, but some thing else I can’t place.

Blog tours

I’ve been reading a lot about blog tours lately. I actually feel like I know less now than I did when I started reading. I’m not sure how that is possible, but that’s what I’m feeling.

You can pay someone to help you set up a blog tour, and there are a lot of these companies out there. I found lists of companies and inevitably about half of the sites no longer existed so I think it is a high turn over business. Mostly they collect bloggers and connect authors with bloggers.

There also seems to be a site that does it free, though no guarantee of success, you as the author have to do the outreach on your own.

Blog Tour (the free site)

There also seems to be the idea of just find the sites you like and ask. That seems terrifying. On some sites the authors do regular things that are guest posts you can request to participate in. For most sites though…scary.

Publicity roundup person
Image via Under30CEO

 

Messy Roundup

My thoughts are a bit mess this week so it is leading to a bit of a messy roundup.

Have you read blahblahblah

I told you messy. I both love and despise all of the lists about what you should read and what you have to read and what you are a horrible person if you don’t read and what you aren’t a real writer if you don’t read and whatever. They always say more about the people compiling them than anything else.

SF Signal’s How Well-Read found a new shiny toy at Worlds Without End  which lets you compare and compile lists without end in the SFF realms. There of course was the one that NPR put together that was turned into a fancy flowchart and an even fancier interactive thing.

I love that they can introduce you to new books. I love that they give you a chance to see if you are being broad in your scope. I hate the often prescriptive nature of the lists.  It feels like it is always the same books over and over and over. And the over and over nature of it feels a little like if you don’t like this thing you’re not a real fan. There is also a bit of the whole idea of a true fan that I will explore at some other point in time, but for now. Bullshit. The bullshittiest of bullshit.

messy so messy
Free Will horse from Faisal Akram because when I searched for Free Will this was the best thing that I got…

I have no choice but to write this

Illusion of Free Will I feel a little surprised that this is a new idea apparently? Is this really a new idea? I assume there is something fundamentally different about this than other stuff I’ve read.

There is an idea in some communities (I am really sure there is a Mysterious Universe episode that talks about this but I’m having a hard time finding it so I may be wrong?) that the gap in time is basically where …consciousness lives. Or where the soul lives.

But that our brains sort of back engineer things is very common. Some biases work this way. You make decisions (people are so weird during the full moon!) and then you seek out evidence to support that and dismiss what doesn’t.

*This doesn’t give you the right to be an asshole. Not having free will doesn’t mean you should go out and shoot someone and say you couldn’t help it. You’re just an asshole. Stop being an asshole.

Mesmerizing

This is a round up of things that will make you stare for hours watching how the insides of things work. So engineering gifs basically.