The Writers in the Room

About a month ago, I wrote about how Amy and I have been doing a “live podcast.” The trend continues! We have managed to stream each weekend, despite sickness, busyness, and distraction, and now we’re moving from something super casual and unofficial…to being The Writers in the Room.

Jake is mostly responsible for the title. We were working with “Worldbuilding with PrincessFray and half_pint,” which is a mouthful and a half and doesn’t actually give a random passer-by on Mixer (where we do the streaming) any idea of what we might be talking about. (“Are they video game designers? D&D dungeon masters? Writers? Who knows!”) One day Jake walked into the living room while I was watching a rerun on the Xbox and said, “Why don’t you call it ‘The Writers’ Room’?”

I liked it, but it wasn’t quite final, because it felt too generic. There are a lot of writers’ rooms out there; I’ve been a part of one, and it’s a grand old time, but when you’re in the middle of it you’re always conscious that others have done it before you. We needed to stand out a little more.

So. We’re the writers in the room.

The ones and onlys.

(Onlys isn’t a word.)

We’re just starting to get our branding off the ground – Josh has done up a nice screen that we put up while we talk, when we don’t have anything we want to show on our PCs. (It’s the illustration for this post.) As I mention in this week’s studiolog, we just started uploading our past episodes, with bumpers, to a Soundcloud account. Please follow us if you enjoy our silliness!

And stay tuned for more on how this venture develops. As we mentioned on the episode we recorded today, the Shames are always trying new things that interest us to see what sticks, and The Writers in the Room is one of those things.

Studiolog: Week of November 12

Lots of excitement in the studio this week! Here’s what the Shames have been up to…

Amy and I are uploading our “live podcast,” which we’re now calling The Writers in the Room, to a Soundcloud account. You can now listen to our first edited episode, part 1 of our challenge to come up with 100 ideas on a single stream. In the coming weeks, we plan to brand, write copy, and fill out our backlog, with each future episode still airing live on Mixer before it shows up on Soundcloud. Enjoy!

Jake and Josh continue to lay down the gorgeous colorful finishes on both pawn shop rescues and brand new kits. Last night, during a three-hour stream, they applied color to three guitars and finishing oil to two more. Look at this beauty!

Last night’s handiwork – a bright purple Schecter.

Still waiting to get them all up for sale, but you best believe you’ll hear about it from me when it happens.

Meanwhile, earlier in the week, Jake and Josh went to Mike Lull’s shop to do a photoshoot to generate material for the shop’s website. As soon as that’s online, I’ll share a link to their handiwork.

Oh, massive studio update this week: We bought a camera! It’s quite a nice Canon that should help us expand our abilities and serve as a clever bargaining chip when we want expensive services. It’s sitting on the charger right now, and I absolutely can’t wait to try it out.

Amy and I continue to slave away on our NaNoWriMo word counts, with a yawning abyss widening between where we are and where the math says we ought to be. But that’s OK – we both have some time off coming soon, and we’re going to encourage the heck out of each other to put in the extra effort.

One last note of author delight: a dear internet friend, Geo, recently tweeted out of the blue that he’d just finished reading Daugment. Seeing this show up randomly on my feed made all of the painful moments of editing and publishing well worth 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.

Studiolog: Week of November 5

Short update this week on what the Shames have been up to…

Guitars go on. Streaming goes on! (Amy and I are looking to rebrand our stream, maybe this week, maybe next. It depends on how sick I still am tomorrow.) Not Bad goes on, now with 100% more guitar.

Jake and his team Arts & Crafts took first place in yet another Roberts Space Industries Star Citizen commercial contest, this time featuring the mighty starter ship that could, the Mustang. Jake did the voiceover again, and I think this might be my favorite so far.

My NaNoWrimo word count continues to rise – as of writing this, which is a blatant excuse to write something other than NaNo, I am at 13,272 words and plan to reach 15k tonight. Achievable goals!

I’m reading the Smarter Artist book Iterate and Optimize, which is way more fun to read than the title might imply. It’s all about making your creative business a little bit better, one significant but manageable step at a time. Advanced stuff, really only relevant if you’re a) serious about going into creative business for yourself and b) already sort of doing it, but I’m enjoying it and learning a lot.

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 October 29

Another week, another series of studio updates! What have the Shames been up to?

Besides finishing more guitars, continuing our streaming habits, and acquiring a few pedals (Jake got me an awesome looper pedal to go with my gorgeous Witchell guitar, and a nifty tuning pedal as well), it’s been a chill week for the studio.

For me, on the other hand, it’s been a busy week. I started by creating a mailing list for writer-types who are interested in hearing from me when I publish something for writers or just when I have something cool or interesting to share. If you’d like to sign up, you’ll receive a free copy of my upcoming “short story boot camp” book (title as yet undetermined), as well as occasional emails from yours truly.

The graphic I created using one of our nifty public domain art books!

I managed to crank out another story for The Accidental Magic Project, a light story called “Hilda’s Secret.” I’ll be honest: I’m not very happy with it. It’s flat compared to a lot of stuff I’ve put out in the world. But this is the lesson of projects like AMP – it’s more important to have created than for that creation to be perfect.

And, last but not least, NANOWRIMO HAS BEGUN. I haven’t talked much about my book this year because it’s the sequel to my adult sci-fi romance book I wrote a few years ago (and still have yet to publish), and I plan on publishing under a pen name, but I’m insanely excited about it. And as usual, I’m happy it’s November and that I’m once again proving to myself that I can write more than a few words in one sitting. Yesterday, Amy and I cranked out about 2700 words each to make up for our poor performances on day 1, and I’m already 1300 words in on the day.

Plus, it’s #DoubleUpDay, meaning NaNoWriMo is giving you $50 worth of goodies for a $25 donation, and their goal is for everyone to write double the amount of words they normally would have. So here I am, trying to crank out 4k…somehow…

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 October 22

It feels like so much has happened! And yet…

What have the Shames been up to?

Our trusty and talented designer Patrick sent over the draft of his cover concept for our comic book project with Alex – and wow, it’s hard to think about much else now that I’ve seen it! This is the stage at which a project feels real to me.

Speaking of fake covers, I’ve made a few fake covers for my NaNoWriMo novel and Amy’s. I’m really quite happy with one of hers, enough to share it here:

I finished writing up the beats for 2018’s NaNo novel just this week, hitting around 3300 words of narrative description. It should keep me more or less on track to get through the complex events that have to occur, since this is a sequel and still setting up a lot of events for later in the series!

I’m also on the last stretch of an adult romance novella I’ll be publishing under a pen name, so I expect I’ll be pressing “Publish” on that one within a month or so.

Jake sold another guitar! The Avocado, bless its green and yellow heart, is off to a new home tomorrow. The TDS Custom Shop should see a few more guitars going up for sale later in the week or early in the next week. You can also follow the shop’s creations on Instagram.

More on social media: we now have an umbrella Twitter account for all of our Damn Shames studio ventures. This is an attempt to centralize all of our content for our superfans while not overwhelming the people following us for Star Citizen content with our guitars and other creative streams. A small step towards brand consolidation!

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.

I’m fickle and I know it

In college, I got accused of being “fickle” a lot. Yes, I’m going to go there: the dictionary defines fickle as, “changing frequently, especially as regards one’s loyalties, interests, or affection.”


Is that so bad?

I guess if you’re someone who wants to prey on people who stubbornly refuse to change their minds once they’ve made a decision, then someone who’s fickle is probably a wrench in your plans. But if so, you’re not someone I plan to keep around in my life anyway, so. There’s that.

What my not-so-friends in college were saying was that I wouldn’t be pinned down to one set of beliefs, one way of doing things, one nice neat box of interests, character traits, and core values. I’d encounter a situation, have some feelings, draw some conclusions, then learn some new information the next day – and change my mind about how I felt.

I try to learn from my mistakes. I try to rationalize new information when I get it. If something in my life isn’t working, I change it.

If that’s fickle, then hell yeah I’m fickle.

I’m a creative entrepreneur, always have been. I take on new and varied projects all the time, and I don’t see a lot of them through, because they don’t work for me and my brands. (Nikki would probably say this is due to my medium level of grit, and that’s not wrong.) I’m going to drop creative ventures like hot potatoes if and when going through with them sucks more than the reward on the other side.

When I encounter new tactics for the things I do every day, I try them. I love trying on new styles and trying out new tools. I’ll give new things a go for as long as I possibly can.

I obsess over things I’m excited to learn about, and what I’m learning (and therefore obsessing over) changes all the time. I don’t think I have any form of ADD, but my attention is not long for any one thing. Even when I am excited about something, I’m easily distracted by other shiny things.

And that’s OK.

Being fickle is sort of my thing.

Live podcasts

I mentioned in the last studiolog I wrote that we’ve been streaming our studio. Since then, we’ve refined that practice a little bit: Jake and Josh stream their shop time, which is mostly guitar work, and Amy and I stream our creative collaboration time.

It feels like a live podcast. And it’s awesome. (For us, at least.)

I’m not a big podcast fan. I’m not an audio learner, and I find it difficult to focus on anything else when I’m trying to glean real information from an audio source (whether that’s people talking to me or a podcast in my headphones), so until recently I’d never considered using this medium as a way of sharing my style and content with interested parties.

The other thing I don’t like about most podcasts I’ve heard is that they sound like lectures, not conversations. I want to have conversations with my superfans, not stand on a pedestal and word at them.

Thus: live podcasts, a.k.a. livestreaming. We get on the mic, and we’re silly and honest about what we’re working on. We might plan out a few points we want to touch on ahead of time, but mostly it’s spontaneous and organic, moving from one weird topic to another as we find good segues.

I definitely wouldn’t recommend this approach for anyone, but we’re finding that it’s really interesting for the Damn Shames for a few reasons:

  1. It makes us do the work. We aren’t the laziest squad out there, but given the chance to lounge on the couch and watch Below Deck, we’ll take it. The stream gives us a level of accountability to just doing it that we didn’t have before.
  2. We really enjoy it. Turns out, if you’re streaming something you actually enjoy doing, it’s pretty fun. The instant feedback is gratifying, and being able to go back and watch it again later means we don’t lose quite as many off-the-cuff ideas as we may have without the cameras and microphones rolling.
  3. It creates a log of what we did and how. We produce a fair amount of content, but until now, we didn’t do much behind-the-scenes. Having a video and audio record of our working sessions gives us something to look back on when we’re feeling unproductive and like we’ll never figure out how to get past a blocker again. (Spoiler alert: We will.)
  4. Did I mention we get instant feedback? We strive to be commercially palatable artists, and the fastest way to know if we’ve reached that bar is to show what we’re working on to our audience and ask them, “Is this, in fact, palatable?” If not, we haven’t gone too far down a path to change things up; if so, then hey, we’ll keep on keepin’ on.

If you’re interested in our current backlog, check out my Mixer account or Amy’s (you can watch the video-on-demand from either account, you just need to pick whose screen you want to see).

Studiolog: Week of October 1

I would say this has been an uneventful few weeks in the Shames’ studio, but I would be lying.

So what exciting stuff have the Shames been up to?

Let’s get the big one out of the way: we’re streaming our studio! Instead of trying to set up our PCs for game streaming, which sort of gets lost in the crowd anyway, we had the idea of making our streams the “behind the scenes” experience of what it is we do under this roof.

Jake and Josh have been streaming the shop, specifically guitar projects (which have continued strong; there should be a few more for sale on our Reverb page very soon). You can watch their previous streams on Josh’s Mixer account, with Gizmo hanging out as shop doggo in the corner. (Jake’s account may be used in the future as well.)

Amy and I will be streaming worldbuilding sessions and maybe even some writing sessions, which you’ll be able to find on her account or on mine. Some of the other behind-the-scenes ideas we’ve had are showing how we pack lunches for four adults, composing some of our Not Bad music, and shooting footage for our Star Citizen videos.

I’m gearing up for another round of NaNoWriMo! I’m still in disbelief that it’s already time to consider such things, but you know me, I’m always excited to be making stacks of notecards. I’m planning to write a sequel this year — book two of a planned eight-book series — which is the first time I’ve truly attempted that for NaNo. Should be an interesting adventure, as always.

The Accidental Magic Project is doing a Halloween extravaganza this year! Each of us contributors (and a few new guests) will be writing up a story featuring classic Halloween elements, and sharing these tales throughout the month of October. I found myself writing a cutesy love story — for Halloween, really?! — and I can’t wait to share it.

We have a new mixer on the way to make collaborative song-making even easier and higher-quality, so watch for some more Not Bad tunes in the near 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 September 17

Jill and I were just talking the other day about how the late summer/early fall months are hard for us, creatively. I wrote about it in December of last year; I said the autumn months were “for forgetting how to write, except when it’s very structured,” and “a time of extreme writer angst.”

See? I did kinda figure myself out.

So in this transitional time of difficulty, what have the Shames been up to?

As I may have mentioned once or twice, we have a dog. That dog now has an Instagram account. Sorry not even a little bit sorry.
Pictured: our big dumb dinosaur.

Frivolities aside, we’ve managed to make some studio progress. For one thing, Jake and his partners-in-creative-crime won second place in the Star Citizen Prospector commercial with a fantastic entry that he narrated. (Josh, Amy and I had one too, but it didn’t place.)

Perhaps more importantly, we’ve made strides in our attempts to stream! Instead of trying to get a specific type of programming on the virtual air, we’ve decided to see what happens if we try streaming a variety show of our studio production efforts! So far, the three streams have been Josh and Jake refinishing guitars, which you can watch on Josh’s Mixer channel. (And just a reminder, guitars from The Sharper Axe shop are still up for sale!)

Jill, Amy, and I are all contributing stories to the Halloween extravaganza we’re running for The Accidental Magic this month. I can’t wait to share mine – it’s ooey-gooey sweet happy goodness, so much lighter than my normal fare. I have no idea why that’s what Halloween brought to the surface, but I’ll take it!

Just so it doesn’t seem like I only report the successes: I wasn’t able to keep up with the 30×30 fashion challenge. Other priorities pushed it out of the way, so I let it go. There’s always another month!

Speaking of months, November is coming up reeeeeal soon…

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 August 27th

Dogs. Are. Exhausting.

Even (especially?) when you love ’em.

So what have the Shames been up to?

Man holding a guitar painted like the Star Trek ship Enterprise
A proper sendoff!

Jake shipped off the first Sharper Axe adoption: the Star Trek guitar. I’m so proud! Check out the other guitars still for sale if you’re interested in rescuing a custom instrument.

I had a false start on my Accidental Magic Project story for September, but luckily inspiration swooped in today. Fingers crossed it sticks around long enough for me to get something onto the page! Meanwhile, Nicole of Mischief & Mouse contributed “Prometheus” to the mix, hearkening back to some of the stuff we used to write together as kids.

I made some solid progress on my short story boot camp book, and convinced Joe of Minty Pineapple Entertainments to provide an example story! I have yet to find enough willing writers, though, so please reach out if you’d like to contribute (and get some publicity for your efforts!).

Josh made a video for the Star Citizen Prospector commercial challenge, and Amy and I are making some music for it. So far, I’ve “sketched” a couple of options, and am trying to sound just enough like the Fast and Furious soundtrack.

Finally, I’m starting a 30×30 outfit challenge with Amy, lasting all of September. The idea is to pre-select 30 items from your existing wardrobe and wear nothing but those 30 things for the next 30 days. Things can get pretty ridiculous if you want to avoid wearing the exact same outfit twice, but it’s a fun way to keep my mind sharp during the seasonally transitional months, when I get antsy and easily bored.

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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