And Just Like that, You Can’t Call Yourself a Writer…

Let’s begin with the obligatory cool photo that has nothing to do with the post except that THIS was the amazing sunset nature gave me (and a couple other people) tonight.

Haven’t posted here in a while, have I?

And my last post was (let’s face it), kinda lame. Right? I mean, does ANYONE even use pumice stones anymore?

Ha ha ha.

Hardly. There’s sandpaper and such, for that.

What have I been doing lately? Well, I’ve been stuck writing this BRILLIANT short story. It’s a sci-fi mystery. I mean, who even knew those two genres could be mixed?

But I’m stuck.

That’s right! The secret to writing and finishing books and stories is WRITING. So I’ve been violating my own personal rules about writing. By not writing. At least, not writing enough.

Let’s make this, then a PSA piece. My little gift to you, ME doling out advice about writing. Everyone loves PSAs and advice columns and writing advice about how to become the next GREAT WRITER.

Frame this. Frame it in giant black letters and hang it above your bed or your bathroom mirror and read it every day (I’m saying this because that’s what I’m doing right this minute–I’ve got one finger on my keyboard and one adjusting the level as I measure the wall thingy, nail. Or whatever it is.): WRITE EVERY DAY, YOU BASTARD.

I added “you bastard” in because you know that’s what you’re thinking when you’re walking around your office or your house or whatever, your building, like doing stuff that isn’t writing, and you’re like, “Damn. I still haven’t written my daily quota of 500 words/day.”

“You bastard,” you think to yourself.

Once you’ve written your quota, call yourself an AWESOME BASTARD.

“You got your word count, you awesome bastard.” Also you can insert other colorful descriptor words. For fun.

So basically I’ve been doing A Lot of Other Important Stuff that isn’t writing novels or writing short stories or blog posts. I mean, I’m trying.

But writing a book is like reading a book in certain ways.

Say you start reading a new book one evening, stretched out on your couch with a delicious bon-bon in your hand, and some nice quiet solitude around you. And then in the morning, your kids come back from sleeping over at nana’s, and you have no solitude for a solid week and don’t have a chance to read for 7 days, right? Well, on the 7th day, when you go back to the novel, you can barely remember what you read 7 days prior.

Right? I mean, that happens to you, doesn’t it? Oh. It doesn’t? Oh damn.

So anyway, ha ha, I don’t need to go to the neuropsychologist ha ha. My brain is FINE.

Writing a book is like reading a book. You have to be consistent and you can’t let up. Otherwise you forget the important elements making up the story. And to progress you’ve got to keep reviewing them, every time you spend too much time between writing cycles.

Great. Right? Easy enough.

Also, your imagination needs to be exercised every day. Writing a story does that. It takes practice to get your brain to a good spot when it comes to being able to make it do cool tricks and flips and crap.

I know this. I know this because I’m out of practice.

BUT NEVER AGAIN. I swear it. I’m going to start getting up at 6 a.m. just to get my daily word counts. I’ll totally do that.

New life goal: get up at 6 am to write. 6:30. Er. 7. I can totally do 7.

Here’s a clip from my sci-fi murder mystery (btw, I have no idea how to write a murder mystery. It’s coming out like a crime procedural. This is an experiment):

Usually a giant head wound meant it was murder, however.

Rising again, I dusted off my hands and pen.

I skulked around the room, looking for anything else I might have missed. I took out my own notebook and sketched out the layout of the place and the approximate locations of all the big items, including the big old dead body at the center. The fireplace. The gray-fabric couch. The console table against the far wall, near the door. There was an orrery on it, of Giganto and the six inhabited moons: Kota, Itzcap, Po, Joopa, Paradise, and Helo. It moved like an old clock, on gears that ticked softly, showing the orbital paths around the pale gas giant that filled our sky. The little machines were all the rage forty years ago, when the first trans-moon zeppelins began operation. The vic might have collected old oddities like that. “Something’s missing,” I said loudly to get Meiko’s attention.

Meiko came to stand beside me as I crouched to get a view of the dust coating the table like a light fur. She copied me. “It looks square, the empty spot. Maybe slightly rectangular.”

“What do you want to bet that whatever was right there, was the murder weapon?”

“Or maybe the vic threw it out. Or maybe it was just a box. And he finally moved it.”

“Unlikely. No one leaves an idle box on a table,” I said, straightening and swiping my fingertip across the empty spot, “and dusts around it.” I showed her. No dust on my finger.

She nodded.

 

“Program Red” on Patreon

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December’s story is up on Patreon! I feel like it’s one of my favorites. Ever. Although, as we all know, feelings can be deceiving.

But whatever. I still base all my decisions on my feelings *sarcasm*.

So, as usual, check it out on Patreon. For a mere pittance, .99 cents a month, you can have first access to all my stories!

Thanks my old and new patrons. I love you guys. Big time!

“The Sky Blue of Jupiter”–November’s Patreon Story

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A huge journey through space. I mean, when is that necessary, and why? Would there ever be a good reason to travel to Pluto and then back again?

I mean, yes. But you’ve got to read this freaking amazing story I wrote to find out why. Check it out on Patreon and say hello, because I love talking to new people.

Yours–

Nicole

 

“When Giants Crumble”–October’s Patreon Story

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Friends! Lovers! People who have never met me or heard of me!

Let’s chill.

Also, in case you’re looking for new stories to be in love with, I just put a new one up for October. It’s called (creatively), When Giants Crumble. And I am in love, myself, with the protagonist. As is very typical of me, I think I love him and will have to discover more stories with him in them. And write them.

Check it out. You can read it for a measly .99 cents a month, when I put out a story (if I don’t, patrons don’t pay for that month).

As always, big {{{hugs}}}!

Blue Hearts of Mars Is Free Till Wednesday

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Blue Hearts of Mars is free on Amazon until Wednesday, the 19th. Click here to get a copy!

Additionally, my short story that was Patron-supported (via Patreon) “The First Post-Android Buy-Back Program” is also free until Wednesday. Click here to download it!

Below, I’ve included the covers to some of my recent Patron-supported stories! Eventually, I release these stories for sale on Amazon. But if you follow my work and want to contribute as little as 99 cents per story (no more than once a month), you can have them as soon as I release them to my fabulous supporters–every Patron gets mentioned on the first page of the story in the acknowledgements.

Thank you so much for being in my life and reading my work! <3<3<3<3

–Nicole

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“Godslayer” was September’s story and is one of my longest short stories (in some ways it doesn’t even qualify as a short story).  Click the image to go to the Patreon page to get this story for 99 cents!

 

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“Glitch: Charles Bridge, 2004” was August’s story and is one of my shortest short stories! Click the image to go to my Patreon page to get this story for 99 cents!

Just Released: A Free Story Via Patreon

Occasionally I think: I need to get a job. This being a parent all the time gets a little . . . unfulfilling. Don’t shoot me. Please. The thing is, I absolutely ADORE my kids (I have two wee tykes–5 and 2), but you know, the only time they REALLY appreciate how awesome I am as a mom, is when I leave them for a few days.

And then they get all weepy and realize, “My hell, my mom is EVERYTHING to me. WHERE is my anchor? My ballast!? Where are the harboring arms that keep me safe amidst the storm of playground bullies and pecking-order battles that I always lose?! And . . . and you know, those gym-daycare ruffians who threaten to knock me down with giant fort-building cushions? Who will protect me from them?”

Those are the exact thoughts that run through their little fast-developing brains. Or so I hear.

Anyway, so the only time I’m appreciated is when I take off for a few days, like just recently, when I hopped down to Tucson to help my youngest sister (the doctor, my pride and joy) move back to the mother-land (SLC).

Leaving behind those wee faces seemed to rip my heart out. I’ve never been so messed up in my life except back in college when that bastard boyfriend broke up with me (for the fifth or sixth time). Yes, LEAVING MY KIDS, it was an experience in separation anxiety (who knew adults could have it?!) to leave them. At first.

I was certain my plane would crash. Or that a continent-shifting earthquake would ravage the Wasatch Front and an enormous rift wold open up and swallow my family in my absence.

These sorts of vain imaginings are part of the reason I’m a writer. I think.

So anyway. At first it was hard. And then when I woke up in Tucson with the clouds and monsoons and the desert mountain range outlining the horizon, and, you know, I was able to just chill with my sister, and walk around without kids hanging off my legs in some kind of hilarious (they think) grocery-store game, I was pretty damn OK. And I could Facetime with my kids, when they needed me or I needed them.

And I could feel my body kind of separating from a concept that had consumed me, from that dominating identity of MOM. No one was screaming mom or mommy 24,000 times in one day at me. And without that non-stop reminder, for a bit, I could just be: ME. Like, the writer chick, the indie-music obsessed chick. The gamer girl. And a bunch of other cool/geeky things that I am. Insert an awesome one here: the/that ______ chiquita/girl.

I’ll give you some words to choose from: curly-haired, hilarious, sci-fi-loving, easy-going, funny-as-hell, fun-as-hell-to-be-around, self-deprecating-in-a-good-way . . .

Ok, so my adjectives are getting a bit unwieldy. If you can’t think of some good ones on your own, maybe . . . maybe we shouldn’t hang out anymore?

KIDDING. I will always love you.

So anyway, as my other identities separated and got a bit more opaque, it was all kind of nice. Bittersweet. The usual fare of life, the kind of sustenance that makes it interesting and challenging and makes you feel as though you’re really SUCKING the marrow out of the bones of life.

Delicious.

All of this to say, I’ve been busy. Applying for jobs. And I was offered a few. And when I was applying and interviewing, I sincerely wanted the jobs. And when the offers came, I again weighed the costs of daycare and the potential emotional costs and potential collateral damage of daycare, and the possible monetary gains, and I decided to wait again, to enter the corporate world.

Where was I going with this? Oh yes. I sometimes think I’ll go get a job and go back to work just to feel like I’m accomplishing something. The end-rewards of parenting aren’t immediately visible. I mean, my kid will say “thank you!” and I’ll die a little from happiness that he’s such a polite kid. And then he’ll turn around and punch his sister (this happens very rarely) and I’ll go through a momentary crisis of “WTF AM I DOING WRONG?”

So it’s hard to experience the rewarding sense that I got the job done! Or feel like someone appreciates my awesomeness, besides me. I always appreciate it, true, when I see it. But yeah, I mean, who else does?

Wife/Mother, the most under-rated profession in the actual world. I mean, the world that’s quantifiable in hard currency. I can price out a photographer, or a software engineer, or a teacher, but can you price out a mom? No. And don’t quote Dave Ramsey at me.

Because if we could estimate the monetary worth of a wife/mother, then when I submit my resume and there’s a five-year gap in it where I wasn’t maintaining my editing/writing skill-set, no one would give a damn. They wouldn’t say, “Explain this five year gap.” Or “Hmmm. You’re obsolete.” Not that anyone said that. I managed to convince people I’m still valuable, which is a skill. A very marketable skill. Haha.

Anyway. Sometimes it would be cool to just have someone give me a freaking report card on how awesome I am as a mom. I mean, I’m sure there are areas where I could improve, duh. But I need some damn positive reinforcement occasionally! Which is why I sometimes get this itch to get a 9-5 job.

Finally, if you’ve been missing me, my friends, I’ve been missing you too! Trying to fit writing and social-mediaing into the tiny cracks of free-time in my 24-7 job (yeah, it’s not 9-5!) and while I remember to put stories up on my Patreon account and post vlog updates, sometimes I neglect the blog-updates.

Also, just released this gem [“An Unnatural Equilibrium”] for free on Patreon. Just click on the cover to check it out at Patreon. The others (the covers below it) are also available for paying patrons. Still trying to tie everything in Feed together and get that shit organized. Stay in touch. Find me on Twitter. Find me on Instagram. And don’t forget that I definitely post stuff a lot on Patreon!

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I Am On Patreon. Come Support Me!

 

That’s where we’re at these days. And by WE, I mean me. But I also mean WE as a community of artists and creators. I insert myself into that community because it seems like that’s what you have to do these days if you don’t get a formal invitation from the in-crowd.

Which I haven’t. Because the want-to-be-in-the-in-crowd crowd is massive and endless. And so like always, I’m just standing outside the posh restaurant (the metaphor for the in-crowd), and I’ve had enough of simply looking in through the glass with a hungry, longing expression on my face. So I’ve gone inside and flipped off the maitre d’ and said, “Hey mother-f!$*ers, I’m in.”

And because I was so bold, they let me have a seat! Ha! Also, I actually said it. The F-word. In my head. But I disguised it for all my sensitive readers (hi mom!) who think I should be better than that.

But anyway. If you’ve ever supported anything through crowdfunding (Kickstarter, Indiegogo, GoFundMe), the Patreon concept shouldn’t be unfamiliar to you. The difference is that support can be given endlessly, through an eternal campaign that continually rewards supporters. It’s like supporting public radio or television. It’s like the old patron system that brought about great works via the wealthy elites bolstering artists like Michelangelo in Italy and Shakespeare in England.

It’s pretty fantastic. I’m patronizing (in a good way!) some top creators whose work I love and I’m excited to have some of my own support from people I coincidentally adore and love (because they support me!) So if you’ve ever read any of my work and enjoyed it and wanted more, please find your way to my Patreon and show me encouragement with as little as $1, which will get you all my stories digitally (previous releases to when you pledged support and all future releases).

Additionally, there are free stories available just to show you what I do and how well I do it. With every new story I write, I get better–my stories get more exciting, my characters more real and empathetic, my pacing better–you name it! In short, it is through the generosity of friends and strangers who believe in me that I become a better creator.

I love interacting with people who read my stories. So please, don’t ever hesitate to contact me, through Twitter, Goodreads, Patreon, Facebook, email. Whatever! I respond to every message I get! This work can be lonely. Hearing from you makes it feel less like I’m sending my work out into the void.

Be awesome. You. I’ll continue trying to be awesome as well. We can meet in the middle of awesome!

Oh yeah. This story is posted for free on Patreon!

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The God Machine Gets a New Cover. Free on Amazon!

One of my earliest short stories just got a new cover. Check it out below! Also, if you’re into sci-fi shorts, this one is free till Tuesday at midnight, so download it now, read it later (or now, you know, if that’s what you want to do).

In other updates, I’m going to be at a table in the artist alley at SLC Fan Xperience (Matt Smith asked me to be his date! Kidding. But you know he’s going to be there, right?). Look for me mooching off my sweet friends at the iPlates table. I’ll have hard copies of some of my books if you want to buy any of them without having to pay shipping. Or taxes.

Also, Feed 3 is still coming out soon. It’s STILL at the proofreader. Geez. Who is this proofreader? She takes FOREVER (it’s my mom. She’s awesome). Kidding, proofreader. You rocks.

I meant to say “rocks.” As if she hasn’t done everything for me already in my life–making me, going through LABOR for me,raising me, and picking me up STILL when I fail or get depressed, now I’m making her proof my books! I’m spoiled. I really am.

Anyway, here’s the super sweet cover. Hopefully everyone loves it as much as I do!

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Cities of the Sun Cover Reveal

So I updated the Cities of the Sun short story cover on Amazon. It runs for .99 cents, just because I can’t make it free without doing loopty-doos and crazy tricks using Smashwords, but right now it’s FREE. It should be LIVE tomorrow. Check it out (yeah, the hot guy really does have something to do with the actual story, I mean, have you READ it?)!

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Feed 3 Teaser #41: Long Excerpt

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He got up and went to the window. The view was immense. Mountains in the distance were a black shadow hovering over the golden lights of the endless sprawl. This city was a diamond on the edge of a strand of desert like a necklace. He’d never been here before, but now he could hardly enjoy it. No. He was no sightseer, not a tourist in the slightest. He touched the back of his neck, remembering that he was onscreen. Someone’s screen. Somewhere. Were they coming for him? Did they know he was up to no good, again? He shivered as he recalled what that evil woman had done to him. How did she justify it? He clenched a fist and felt a sneer coming to his lips. The same way he’d justified his previous work, probably. It made it harder to feel the rage he wanted to feel, because it was either understand her or hate himself for the justifications he’d worked out in his own head.

Well, I was a dick. I was wrong. I was part of the evil.

He sighed. There was still a taint in him. He could imagine the perfect angles for what he was doing now. He could visualize how he would look as the main subject of a scene and what an Editor would guess he was thinking so the music they pasted onto it could reflect his inward thoughts. The perfect song for this moment, “All the Light Within,” by Kat and Bodie. Sort of a love song, but the mood was right for it, pensive, brooding. Weighted in a way that could lend gravity to the scene without any sort of dialogue.

Love. A love song.

There’s no time for love, is there? In these strange times? There was no sanctuary for him to conceal his heart within so the world could never know his pain or joy. But, well, there was Beth and that moment at the camp, and no one had seen except the two of them. If he was honest, he hadn’t been into it. At least, not enough. Not enough to stick through the rough patches.

He no longer trusted her. His sights were elsewhere.

In the courtyard beneath his window, he caught movement beneath the strings of lights and soft-glowing lanterns. He inched closer to the patio door and squinted. It was Marci, wandering. He’d hardly expected her to not be in her room. What was she doing? His heart tripped over itself as he watched her sit beside the fountain and draw her legs up to her chest. God, she was beautiful. But something else, as well. Kind. Vulnerable. Guileless.

He knew so much about her. Had seen more than anyone should see of a person, a real person and not some actor in an old film, actually, the kind no one bothered to make anymore. Ghosteye trained himself with those pieces of art. He knew that there was power in the unsaid and unseen as much as the spoken and seen. When he’d made his own feeds, he’d been careful with those ideas, always trying to strike a balance.

Though he’d seen much of Marci, he saw how she wore silent things. Her own quietness, her secrets, were overlooked by nearly everyone. What did she hold in that vault of ribs?

 

 

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