The not-entirely-random thoughts of Chris Brecheen about writing, art, reading, inspiration, books, creativity, process, craft, blogging, grammar, linguistics, and did I mention writing?

Saturday, October 25, 2014


So this calendar thing may not look like much to most of you in the studio audience, but it is actually what I've been working on getting right for a couple of weeks now. And tonight, around midnight, I finally finished up a version that I can take on a trial run. It probably shouldn't take so long to compare when I have time available to when I write things that take a lot of time, but....um....I am not a smart man Jenny.

As I wrote a couple of days ago, my current (or old) schedule was failing me in a number of ways that this new version seeks to redress.

It's a monthly schedule instead of a weekly one.

Even though a lot of things repeat weekly or biweekly, a few of the more time consuming entries happen only once a month. That gives it a definite pattern fidelity without locking in so many days of the week that writing anything else becomes a nightmare. It makes space for the other blogs (and I'll put a cross post here those days), and has a much more realistic posting schedule for the days I'm taking care of The Contrarian while still getting something up every day.

It leaves time open for my own fiction and reading without sacrificing quality or quantity by leaning more heavily on the weekends and making many of the more time consuming posts monthly or bi-monthly.

I'll take it on a test drive around the neighborhood, and make sure it doesn't drift to the left when I let go of the wheel, stick in third, or make a clanky noise above fifty. I want something a little more concrete than "fluff" on Wednesdays, and there are at least a couple of days I'd like to add choices, but this is looking pretty good right now. I may need to fiddle with the knobs and see if the plan survives its encounter with "the enemy" before I shout it from on high.

Once I know it's going to hold together, I'll update my Update Schedule.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Best Y.A. Book (Poll Results)

Many thanks to all who participated in our Best Y.A. book poll. It was close for a while but after I called for more votes yesterday, The Hobbit's small lead turned into a gigantic, crushing one. The Phantom Tollbooth just couldn't hang on.

Most of the ties were broken in the last 24 hours, but we may never know if The Neverending Story could take Talking to Dragons in a straight fight. Perhaps if/when a Y.A. poll comes around again, their "Who-Really-Deserves-Seventh-Place" rivalry will be resolved.

We will start our semifinal round for the Best Y.A. series from your nominations tomorrow, so if you have one last nomination or a second, please head over to that post and get your input in.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Vote! (Best Y.A. Novel)

The Brain and Sonic Gal got back last night from Seattle right on time. They even gave me an impromptu day off from watching The Contrarian. Of course, four days of running around after a proto-toddler means the other chores in the house fell a little behind. I just walked past the sink and a film of mold asked me if I wouldn't mind terribly waiting until it had evolved legs before I cleaned the dishes. Naturally I calmly unloaded eight cans of Lysol into the mold while screaming at the top of my lungs.  

Tomorrow our "September" poll will end, so you have one last day to vote for the best young adult novel.

Shortly after that I'll be putting up our poll for Best Y.A. Series. (There is still some time to nominate series or give them seconds but please do so at the original page.) At this point it's going to need its own run off semifinal polls and is obviously going to go on through November, so I'm not even going to bother continuing to try and call it our "October Poll."

So if you haven't voted, vote. And if you have voted, vote again (because the IP tracker only locks you out for a week and I might as well run with it). And tomorrow we'll find out if The Phantom Tollbooth can take The Hobbit down a notch.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Showing My Work: Schedule Needs

Day four of watching The Contrarian. Neither of us had died horribly, so I'm daring to feel optimistic.

Of course, now, "Dared to Feel Optimistic" will be my epitaph. I have tempted fate by publishing my lack of Raiders of the Lost Arc face-melting horror. It's been nice knowing you all.

The Brain and Sonic Gal get back from Seattle late tonight, and I hope to be back on a regular posting schedule by tomorrow.

However, I hope to be back on a regular posting schedule SUCH AS IT WILL BE.

As you know, those of you who've been keeping up with Writing About Writing, I've been threatening a major, fundamental change to my posting and updating schedule. Not a small little tweak like I've made in the past to help squeeze out an hour here or there, but a huge overhaul that requires me to put on pants that insufficiently cover my butt crack and insist that parts can't be ordered any sooner than next Tuesday. Then I'll try to scratch my balls with my wrench, but subtle like so no one can tell that's what I'm doing.

Of course, it was with no small amount of irony, my ability to post my old schedule completely broke down the day before I was about to do a big post about what my new schedule was going to be.

For now writing still involves grabbing my laptop when milk-induced comas provide me with 45 minutes or so to punch out a few words. Provided, of course, I am not watching Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood with a thousand yard stare or remembering that I haven't had anything but powdered crystal light over stale corn chips in the last thirty hours and trying to hoover in something with cellulose.

What I have done today is to work out what my old schedule was lacking that my new schedule needs to take into account. These are the critical failures of the old schedule getting more broken as time went on. Many of them have been creaking and groaning (or maybe throwing off showers of sparks) since the baby came along, but I just kept thinking, "It's just for now. No need to pull emphasis away from the blog."

That was eleven months ago.
  • Fiction This whole thing started with someone wondering about my process and me realizing that my current regimen is really preventing me from getting in some good time on my own fiction.
  • Blog Plot Once upon a time the blog used to enjoy an ongoing plot. Then it all became about page views and last minute posts. I want the whimsy back.
  • Reading Writing without reading is like trying to only exhale. I need more time for the essentials of "breathing in."
  • Better proofing I don't exactly LIKE realizing that I've posted articles with incomplete sentences and missing words.
  • Account for other blogs Remember how I write for blogs like Grounded Parents and Ace of Geeks? Yeah, so do my editors. And just trying to write two or three articles a day on the weekends was driving me nuts, and wasn't getting done.
  • Account for thank you notes At least once every couple of months, I need to write some thank you notes to the marvelous donors to whom I owe unending thanks. Since I hate doing form letters, each one takes 15-20 minutes. That adds up fast. Like most things on this schedule that don't fit, I tried to just squeeze this in without making room for it. Results were....predictable. 

  • Account for the insanity of Wednesdays On Wednesdays I watch the kid for five hours, teach for four hours, commute for three hours, usually end up cleaning for an hour or two, and do the weekly trash rituals of cat boxes, gathering little trash cans and getting dumpsters to the curb. Yet, for some insane reason that was the day I tried to put up a "meaty" article. The thinking was that I would have it done by Wednesday by working on it the days before. The thinking was wrong. The thinking needs to be driven off a cliff in an exploding car with a javelin through its face.
  • Account for the fact that I have 40+ hours of other work I can post a little something every day. I can post significant articles. What I can't do, is with my current life of househusband, teacher, daycare and writer, is to do both every day.
  • Account for Unsupportive Girlfriend Unsupportive Girlfriend likes to keep me on my toes by switching around my schedule or asking me for favors and making it impossible to write at the same time every day. The more my schedule is precision packed like a Tetris game, the more she's going to screw me over when she gives me the Z piece instead of the I. 
  • Time off  It's probably telling that I forgot this completely in the original version of this post. I write every day just like I tell writers they should, but blogging every day is a bit different. That's writing under deadline and it's less whimsical and more stressful. These last few months I've often realized I've been working 60-80 hours a week and I'm still falling behind. I might post content every day, but I need to be able to write it in a way that I have extra in the hopper and can take a day off.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Stop. Baby time.

Power to the people.
Right after my nap.
Kid grenade alert!

I know this is inauspicious timing, what with the new schedule roll out poised to hit and everything. But this can't be helped.

This is a strange story.

An ebola task force has been dispatched out of the local hero comitatus in Washington D.C. There not going to do much more than free up some local forces by keeping their eye on a few unsavory villain types in Sierra Leone.

Several superheroes from Seattle have gone to D.C. to shore up their front lines, and since the Temescal has been quiet, Sonic Gal, The Brain and another hero from West Oakland known as Codex have gone up to Seattle to make sure no one takes advantage of the light superhero presence up there. Wrecking Ball, Uber Dude, and a few other heroes have taken on extra patrols for the time being.

Sonic Gal and The Brain were going to take The Contrarian to Seattle with them. But then he started cutting a molar and looked like he was getting a cold. Even if Seattle sent down their stealth troop transport (The Fapper) the poor little guy would probably not be a very good passenger with all that sinus discomfort already going on.

So....I'm watching him. Alone. For four days.

I'll write when I can.