Studiolog: Week of January 14

Howdy, faithful readers. What have the Shames been up to this week?

It’s been another quiet week, mostly because Amy is off travelling the world! (For work.) The rest of the Shames will miss her dearly, and I expect things will remain a little slow under the studio roof until her return.

Thankfully, you don’t have to wait for two weeks to hear our voices. We’re still dropping new episodes of The Writers in the Room, like the one released this week about writing what we want to in 2019 (instead of torturing ourselves to write what we “should”). Amy and I did a quick ‘cast today with her at the airport and me at home, and we plan to do the same twice in the coming weeks, should the internet speeds overseas allow it!

The Shames are also working with a really cool artist called Juno. She’s been Jake’s guitar teacher these last few weeks (which, by the way, is an amazing situation; she’s taught him so much!) and now we’re all hoping to capitalize on the fact that our brands are so compatible – bright colors, fun, emphasis on positivity, doing things our own way. More to come on this partnership!

There’s been a lot of music practice lately – both analog and digital – but it’s been offline. We’ll capture some for Instagram very soon.

At work, there’s a rotating party-planning committee, and I was tasked with throwing the January party. Since there weren’t any convenient holidays, I decided to make it a “murder mystery” party, only it’s going to be a heist. Gotta write that material myself, so that’s my Saturday task, along with making progress on my February short story for The Accidental Magic Project.

If you’re someone who writes collaboratively and regularly, and you’re interested in being part of an author collective, please contact me! I’d love to talk.

Studiolog: Week of January 7

Howdy, world! Has it truly been just one week since I last wrote one of these? Dang. Long week. I spent three of the weekdays at an offsite for work, and am now completely peopled out.

So the Shames haven’t been up to too much in the meantime.

I kicked off the year for The Accidental Magic Project with a short story called “Son of Rock.” Surprise, surprise, it’s guitar-themed. Bear with me, though, I tried to make it accessible for non-experts! There’s a famous tree… if that entices you…

I also finally passed the 75k word mark on my NaNo novel! Probably around 15k left to go… which really isn’t long now. I’m hoping this weekend I’ll make some good progress.

There’s another The Writers in the Room episode, and this time Amy‘s laying down some wisdom about children’s books based on what worked and didn’t work while she was a nanny. Good stuff!

Also, I got a bass. A little blue piece of crap that was begging to be rescued from the Guitar Center shelf. It came home and Jake fixed it up and I immediately sticker-bombed it. Very satisfying.

If you’re someone who writes collaboratively and regularly, and you’re interested in being part of an author collective, please contact me! I’d love to talk.

Wake-up call

Preston’s eyes remained closed, though he could feel the lightening of morning outside his window. These moments were precious: self-reflection, brilliant ideas, anything that required a still mind and a complete focus on nothing else, these were the commodities he crafted in the wee hours.

Then the first electric shock hit his toe and travelled all the way up through his veins.

Preston used to scream when the alarm clock went off, but after five years he was enough used to the sensation to emit a muffled wheeze of pain instead. The electricity was like fire in his blood, enlivening him in a way that no mere siren sound could manage.

He rolled over onto his stomach, dropping his chin onto his pillow and clenching his eyes shut. It was Saturday; he should have been allowed to linger in his bed, at least until the sun was fully over the horizon and he was expected to come to the farm and supervise the weekend laborers. He wondered if the clock had ever been reset from the day before, when he’d needed to get up early to go in and see William.

Another shock travelled up his leg, this time originating in his calf. He couldn’t help it this time: he arched his back and moaned his agony. There was a very satisfied chick-chock sound from the alarm clock–the sound of the shocking arm retreating into the clock body. It knew he was awake now; the pulse sensors in his sheets would tell it that much.

“I’m up, I’m up,” Preston muttered unnecessarily, kicking the sheets off so they would fall over the alarm clock’s beady, greedy eye. He hated that it was allowed to live in his apartment; when he’d been a kid, robots were banished to the outdoors, like big dogs in their shoddy little houses.

Studiolog: Week of December 31

Howdy folks! It is 2019 and the Shames are feeling good about the year here at the studio. So what have we been up to this week?

Ohhhh, we’ve been planning. It’s felt a little like voluntary homework, but in the best possible way! (Yeah, yeah, don’t forget, I was homeschooled. All schoolwork was homework.) I created a sheet to help us focus our vision for our studio overall as well as for each project, and it’s turned out to be very focusing and inspiring, as well as allowing me to drop a few things here and there without feeling guilty about it.

I’m also going to make a fancy version of the worksheet and make it available to anyone who signs up for my mailing list! (Old link, old graphic, sorry! I’ll update it as soon as the worksheet is ready to go.)

Jill and I have done our plotting and planning and are excited to announce we will be doing a second round of The Accidental Magic Project in 2019! Our theme remains “accidental magic,” but this year with a twist – we’re incorporating weird, random holidays, and we’ll be posting the stories on the dates of the holidays. Should be entertaining! Patrick is going to refresh the website, so we’ll have a new look soon.

A few weeks ago, Amy and I recorded what I think is our best episode of The Writers in the Room so far – A Writer is Only as Good as Her Network. Though the first ten minutes aren’t our strongest, once we got going, it was a good conversation about the kind of people you need around you to have a successful creative lifestyle.

Speaking of creative lifestyles, I was recently reminded of how long I’ve been living the #creativelife when I found a few artists doing Warrior Cats fanart, which I used to absolutely adore back in 2003-2004. I had a lot of cat characters back then too, when I was a hardcore Warrior Cats fangirl, and I dug them up and am getting commissions of six of them so I can use them in a future project. Reduce, reuse, recycle, right?

More photographic material: Josh and Jake have made some ballsy design moves on Josh’s Explorer kit, and it’s looking pretty amazing. (Pardon the language, we’re excited.)

Oh, and… THE PINKIE PIE GUITAR SOLD! We are so proud. ;’)

Finally, a few extra notes:

  • How to Write a Damn Good Novel, II was awesome and I gained so much from it, specifically the concept of laying out a premise for your story before you begin. While Frey (HA!) was specifically talking about novels, the practice is perfect for short stories as well.
  • Josh continues making progress on the show graphics we’re doing for our Big Deal Internet Friend. Soon™!
  • During the Smashwords end-of-the-year sale, six people picked up free copies of Daugment. YES.

If you’re someone who writes collaboratively and regularly, and you’re interested in being part of an author collective, please contact me! I’d love to talk.

Studiolog: Week of December 24

It probably looks to those watching like the Shames spent a quiet holiday at home. Well, that’s more or less true… it was a very busy time in the studio as the Shamesian elves slaved over their projects with oodles of joy.

So what were the elves up to?

Me? I’ve been writing. A lot. It was a slow first half of December as far as getting back into the swing of making progress on my NaNo book, but I’m now 72k words in and still chugging, not too far from the end now. When I finish, that’ll leave me with… welp. Four novels in first-draft phase. What the heck am I thinking? Oh, right, I’m thinking it’s high time to write notes for the next one(s). Sheesh.

Amy and I split the cost of the Smarter Artist package deal, which we got because we’re members of their mailing list, and I am super duper excited to go through their Indie Author Bootcamp material (as well as explore their Fiction Unboxed stuff, which Amy is more excited about than I am because, well, I read the book). If nothing else, I hope to be inspired to put together a plan for Halftree Press for 2019.

Jake and I revived our “teach yourself how to cook” project and intend to make progress in early 2019, with the hope of publishing by summer or fall of the same year. Optimistic? Probably! Who cares, we have a nice camera and want to take food pics now!

In that lovely land between music and writing, where songwriting lives, Amy and I have been contemplating challenging ourselves to something like Inktober, but for songs. We’d alternate days between writing original songs and churning out the parodies we’re both (in)famous for. If we make enough of a plan in advance, I may share some challenge prompts out during whatever month we decide to do it… stay tuned, I guess?

Now to the shop. We gave my dad his guitar and he went absolutely batshit. It was awesome. I have photographic evidence but it’s on the camera so for now you’ll just have to imagine a person who looks like an older male version of me pulling a Dreamworks face.

Aaaand, there are two new guitars up for sale! I’m particularly fond of the pink Pacifica, even though I’m an avid not-lover of pink in general. I just love its rich color and the sexy laser-engraved Darkmoon humbucker.

The bass is pretty slick too – oh, and I now have a custom-stained cajon as a “you did the NaNo thing!” present from Jake. 😍 Since I got an acoustic guitar for my birthday from Jake and Amy, I’ve also been trying to get my chord-changing dexterity back. I would say I’m… Not Bad.

Couple more things:

  • I’m reading two books right now: The Lives of Tao, about an alien visitor in an unlikely human host, and How to Write a Damn Good Novel, II, which is exactly what it sounds like (and yes, it’s a sequel). The latter has had some really great pointers on going above and beyond the basic practices of writing a novel. I’m finding it really useful right now because I’m in shape and have practiced novel-writing lately, so its ideas directly apply.
  • Habitica has been working quite well for me! It has only been about a week, but it’s satisfying to turn behaviors I want to be doing anyway into an excuse to level up a character.

If you’re someone who writes collaboratively and regularly, and you’re interested in being part of an author collective, please contact me! I’d love to talk.

Studiolog: Week of December 17

It’s officially the December holidays – no one is around, stores are either closed or packed, and I can feel my end-of-the-year itches coming on strong. Yet there seems to be no time for anything…

So what have the Shames been up to?

I broke out our new camera to refresh some of my blog post illustrations. You can see the results on this post, or on some future ones I imagine I will create! Bonus: here’s my favorite visual story that’s not spoken for yet by a specific post.

“Everything’s fine! It’s fine. All good. Nothing to see here.”

Amy cranked out a recording + video for her Star Citizen parody of “Santa Baby” last night, and it’s doing very well for the modest amount of promotion we’ve given it (see: none). I’m sure I’ve mentioned this previously, but I am way proud of Ames for deciding to learn how to edit videos and then just effin’ doin’ it.

We’ve uploaded yet another episode of The Writers in the Room, and this one’s all about personal branding for writers. Give it a listen and let me know if you’d like more info on anything we touch on during the podcast!

Tiny Habits didn’t work as well for me as I’d hoped, though it has stimulated my appetite for habit-making, so Amy and I are now giving Habitica a try. I’ve attempted to use it before, but never with the mindset of tiny goals, which Tiny Habits did give me. Again, I’ll report back on how it works for me! I’m currently trying to get into the habit of at least one 10-minute word sprint and some aerobic movement every day.

I have seen some sketched comic pages with my own two eyes! I continue to be unable to share, because this thing has gotta stay on the DL until Alex is further along, BUT. Patrick has made us a fabulous landing page website as a placeholder until we have more content, and once I’ve seen a lot more storyboard pages, I will have him take that live and share it here.

Jake finished my dad’s guitar, and at the risk of him somehow seeing this blog post, I’m going to post a picture of it anyway. Because it is gorgeous and full of magic.

It’s a blue-green Strat.

If you’d like a hand-crafted guitar for your very own, please reach out and I will put you in contact with Jake. He is ready and eager to take on commission projects. Or check out all of his instruments currently up for sale.

If you’re someone who writes collaboratively and regularly, and you’re interested in being part of an author collective, please contact me! I’d love to talk.

Studiolog: Week of December 10

This was my “birthday week,” which is not to say that I celebrate my birthday all week but rather shorthand to inform my coworkers that I won’t be around for their end-of-the-year “hurry up and wait” BS and will be enjoying some quiet, restful time at home.

So that’s what I’ve been doing.

And meanwhile, the Shames have been up to a few things…

The new guitars are finally up and ready for their new homes. These are two of my favorites Jake has made so far – both purple, both transformed from their original forms, each boasting its own sound. There’s the Washburn, which has a great underdog/comeback story, and the LTD, pictured here.

It is smooth as butter.

If you’re interested, please feel free to purchase them through Reverb, or contact me directly.

I wrote the first draft of the children’s book based on my cousin Lisa’s really adorable new baby, about a little girl and her elephant best friend and their adventures together. I almost made myself cry? Shhh. I’ve shared it with Nicole and I’ll preview any progress as it comes!

There are two new episodes of The Writers in the Room up on Soundcloud – one mostly about NaNoWriMo, and the other about padding your word count productively (and a lot about food, for some reason).

Jake took me to Half Price Books yesterday and I got a serious fiction haul that includes “Who Fears Death” by Nnedi Okorafor (a read I’ve been anticipating for some time now), “Viscera” by Gabriel Squailia, and “The Lives of Tao” by Wesley Chu. I’m looking forward to some winter evening reading!

I’ll leave you with this lovely holiday-themed original ukulele song by Amy.

If you’re someone who writes collaboratively and regularly, and you’re interested in being part of an author collective, please contact me! I’d love to talk.

The street

Inspired by a strange road near my house. Content warning: suicidal actions.

The man waited, fidgeting with the frayed edge of his Northface jacket. Whenever a car hissed wetly by, he looked up, gauging its speed and trajectory. None of them had satisfied his sense of perfection. He had waited too long to do this wrong.

Then he saw it: a Lincoln, one of the big ones, with grill enough to do the job. The man huffed out the breath he’d been holding towards the lone streetlight, so he could see it – a great cloud of the moisture of his life.

He jumped.

The driver of the Lincoln tried to swerve, but the man had calculated his leap well, and the vehicle hit him with a sickening series of wet crunches. Someone screamed, maybe on the sidewalk or maybe from the apartments across the street, but the man couldn’t tell. He was dying. He was dying. He was dead.

He was alive. He was on the other side of the street.

There was someone at the bus stop, hunched against the schedule pole. They lifted their head when the man rolled over and touched the sidewalk with a wondering smile.

The person’s hood fell back, revealing an elderly woman with half a set of teeth and a shocked stare.

“You came in through the front door!” she cried. “We don’t let anyone through the front door.”

The man’s smile faded, and he pushed to his feet, brushing tiny rocks off his Northface.

“I earned it,” he snarled. “I made the sacrifice.”

“We don’t let anyone,” the old woman quavered, trailing off, then again: “We don’t.”

A throaty honk announced the arrival of the bus going west. Throwing the man a hateful look, the woman waddled to the vehicle’s door and said something inaudible to the driver. The bus groaned with great dignity and lowered itself like a trained horse so the woman could climb the stairs.

The man grunted, lingering on the sidewalk to catch one last glimpse of the woman’s dirty coat as she vanished into the bus. He had expected some sort of guardian to challenge his passage, but this old woman’s vague mutterings hardly qualified.

The bus groaned again and the man looked up, expecting to see the staircase rising and the vehicle lumbering away.

Instead, the bus’s body was elongating to three times its original size, its tires stretching to become rubber-tipped limbs. It opened a giant maw where the grill had been, revealing six rows of gear-like fangs.

There it is,” the man growled and ducked into a roll as the bus-beast took a swipe at him.

Studiolog: Week of December 3

It’s dipped below freezing a couple of times, but here are the Shames, shivering along… What have we been up to?

I, for one, have been procrastinating! I’m late on my final Accidental Magic Project story, partly because I’ve found it hard to sit down and stay focused again lately, and partly because I really want to do this story justice. Excuses, I know.

I’ve also stalled on my NaNoWriMo project because my carpal tunnel flared up. I’m going to use this an excuse to tell you to TAKE BREAKS. Don’t let your hands get hurt. It totally sucks for a variety of reasons. Since I didn’t take suitable breaks during November, now I have to work hard in December to heal my hand and get the habit back.

On the other hand, the boys have been productive on guitar projects – my dad is going to get an amazing guitar for Christmas (fingers crossed), and many guitars in the oiling phase, which means more inventory up for sale soon!

I’ve been editing more episodes of The Writers in the Room and posting them to our Soundcloud account, so feel free to give those a listen. They’re a little wince-worthy, but I’m proud of them, still, somehow. Chalk it up to the same ego that compels me to re-listen to them…

Finally, a few more things:

  • I’m doing Tiny Habits next week! I’m starting by working on some habits around my activity level, but I’m hoping to use the method (once I’ve learned it) to get better at sitting down and staying focused. I’ll report back on its effectiveness.
  • I finished reading Iterate and Optimize by Sean Platt and Johnny B. Truant, the third in their series of books about being a Smarter Artist. It was good! Not quite as chock full of specific steps as I’d wanted, but I’m OK with that for the most part; it was a great pep talk and had a lot of quality reminders of what to do and not to do while building a creative business of any size.
  • Since I finished their book, I’m also checking out Sterling & Stone’s StoryShop.io. So far it seems cool. I may make an additional post on that in the future.

If you’re someone who writes collaboratively and regularly, and you’re interested in being part of an author collective, please contact me! I’d love to talk.

Studiolog: Week of November 26

It took some doing, but we got out of vacation mode. And then what did the Shames get up to?

Perhaps most importantly, this is being written on December 1st, meaning that NaNoWriMo is over. I crossed the 50,000-word threshold with about 30 minutes to spare! Still have about half the story left to go, but I feel solidly into it, enough to keep the momentum going. Amy wrote (nearly) every single day in November, and plans to continue the habit.

I’m teaming up with Nicole again, this time for Mischief and Mouse itself. This weekend I’m writing her some tiny fiction to use as social media bait to sell her felt woodland creature ornaments. This is like going straight back to my childhood for so many reasons, and I’m loving the challenge (and all of the resulting domesticity!).

Since it’s the howl-idays (sorry not sorry), Daugment is on sale everywhere for just $1.99, down $3 from its usual price. If you have a science fiction or talking animal fan who loves to read on your cheap gift list this year, please consider buying a copy.

If the reader you know has a Kindle, this is a quick and easy way to give them my book.

Jill and I had a productive chat the other day about what next year’s Accidental Magic Project challenge will be. We’ll be revealing that come next month, most likely, so stay tuned to the Twitter account for more.

A few more things of note:

  • I’ve started making simple earrings, for no better reason than I’m bored and I don’t like to spend money on jewelry that turns my ears green anyway.
  • We got a beautiful Warmoth guitar body and neck to create a custom guitar for my dad, so Jake is starting on that this week. He is also selling two (un-custom) additional guitars on Reverb if you’re in the market for one.
  • Josh will be working on some graphics for a Cool Internet Person for a secret project to be revealed. More on that when we can talk about it!

If you’re someone who writes collaboratively and regularly, and you’re interested in being part of an author collective, please contact me! I’d love to talk.

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