Category Archives: Author updates

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.

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.

Studiolog: Week of November 19

Hello world! The Shames took some vacation time this week (or were forced to do so by federally mandated holidays) and were up to some ish…

During my time off, I’ve been working on projects, like I do. Because I obviously don’t have enough stuff to steal my time, I came up with a children’s book idea based on my cousin’s new baby and her stuffed elephant toy/friend. Nicole is going to illustrate, and I am so excited about it.

I am pleased to announce that I’m back on track with NaNoWriMo! After a few days of nose to the grindstone, I’m sitting where I should be with just an average 1667-word day standing between me and today’s par. By no means am I impressing myself this year on word count productivity…other than the part where I hadn’t really written longform all year until now, so it’s nice to get back into the practice. Meanwhile, Amy continues to plug away and make more progress than she ever has on a single project before. I’m so damn proud.

You know what else I’m proud of? The fact that Amy and I have now, for eight consecutive weeks, spent an hour or two on Saturdays streaming to talk about our writerlives. The Writers in the Room ran live again successfully today, and we posted part 2 of the “100 Ideas on One Stream” episode to Soundcloud.

(By the way, Soundcloud’s free version is annoyingly limiting. I guess 3 hours of upload time is enough if you create songs that are no more than five minutes apiece – that’s basically three full albums – but for a talk show, not so great. We may need to start looking at getting our podcast up on a podcast-friendly network, or else we’re in for a $144 cost for the year. Worth it? Not sure yet.)

If you can’t get enough Amy content, you can now follow her on Twitter at her amazing handle, @threedaloo. She intends to write quippy internet gold, which I assume you can’t pass up, so go give her a follow.

Josh was busy grabbing some photographs of the guitars that are going up for sale, but I don’t have his quality versions yet, so I imagine I’ll have those for-sale links next studiolog. Instead, please enjoy this image of the studio dog being entirely unhelpful.

Gizmo had other ideas about what ought to be photographed.

More purchase options: I’ll be starting a Daugment holiday discount campaign this evening or early tomorrow morning. If you have any sci-fi fans on your list, it’ll be just $1.99 for the next couple of weeks, and makes a great virtual stocking stuffer or a present for someone you’re not ready to drop a fiver on.

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 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.

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).