Category Archives: The Collective updates

Studiolog: Week of August 6th

Can I just brag about my lunches this week for a second? Oh geez. They were delicious. Little half-cups of this and that for a light, well-balanced meal. So much better than heavy Bellevue lunch food.

Uhhhh, OK, that was a weird aside. Anyway, what have the Shames been up to?

In some ways, it feels like hardly anything. It’s been really hot again, so we’ve all been trying to stay cool.

On top of that, my most favoritest car has taken a turn for the, well, needing to sit in the garage for a while. She’s fine, more or less, but she does need to stay there for bit, so we’ve not only been housebound but also unable to use our garage for guitar projects.

But, we have been making progress on other projects! While I was on vacation, I got the idea for a book about how to get better at writing short stories in 52 weeks (so I can have some sort of catchy “in a year” title). The heart of the idea is that if you follow along with this book, using my prompts, then no matter what you’ll get better because you’ll practice. It’s a lot like the philosophy behind why Jill and I challenge one another. In the book, I’ll take the reader through the building blocks and stylistic elements of building a good short story as the weeks go on and they write a bunch of stories.

Speaking of short stories, last night I did a five-minute bubble graph and ended up with a pretty cool outline for my next Accidental Magic short story. Hint: it’s about whales. That’s all I’m saying at this point.

Speaking of short stories, I decided recently to go back and revisit the 47 (!!!) short stories I’ve written in the past five or so years. I categorized them (because of course I did) into groups that had something interesting in common, like ancient prophecies or breaking curses. I’m planning on revising them (slightly at least) and then putting them up for sale in five-story anthologies. “Wishes” will be first!

I’ve bee playing around with cover ideas – here, I’m going for something that hopefully feels a little “Penguin Classic”:

On the collaboration side, I’ve been working with Nicole again, which I always love. I’ve set her on a couple of projects: one is our comic book with Alex, and the other is an incremental game called Feed the Wolves. (Nikki and I once planned to make it, but haven’t gotten around to it, and I suspect some art might motivate us again.)

Amy has been busy working on her song “Price Range.” She’s close to a melody and the final lyrics for what will probably be Not Bad‘s first single.

And, she and I have both been working on stories for a romance line we intend to develop through our publishing collective. We won’t be revealing those on this blog, as we’ll each be publishing under a pen name, but feel free to reach out for more information about those projects.

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

Studiolog: Week of July 30th

This might be about the week of July 30th, but ’tis now my namesake month – my favorite, especially when everyone at work has to clarify that they didn’t mean “in August, in the month of August.”

Anyway. What have the Shames have been up to?

I just published my latest short story for The Accidental Magic Project: “Tea for Deux,” based very much on two of my dearest and oldest friends. This was a great example of a story that I’ve been thinking about writing for years; I remember my initial excitement when I first thought of it, and a flurry of note-creating as I explored the idea, and then it went dormant for a couple of years while I collected the necessary material. That’s pretty much how I write my best stories these days – pulling from ideas that struck me some time before and have been simmering on the back burner.

I haven’t been as steadfast about my 7:30 PM writing habit as I’d like, but part of that is having a vacation week this week and being out of town. Still, I’m tracking my word sprint counts using Chris Fox’s 5,000 Words Per Hour method (in an Excel document), and it’s cool to see that number grow so quickly.

I printed out a bunch of my inspiration pictures – art and photos I’ve gathered (mostly on the curated blogs I follow on Tumblr these days) that remind me of various aspects of Portent – and put them in loosely-related collections on the wall around my workspace. Like this!

Inspiration pics for my main trio.

No real movement for the Shames on the Star Citizen front – I’m going to get a sprint-focused start on my articles for the fall issue of Ships Illustrated, but otherwise, we’ve more or less let this avenue go dormant for a little while.

Four of Jake’s guitars are currently listed on Reverb; if you have any interest in a pretty cool custom axe, check his stuff the heck out!

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

Studiolog: Week of July 16th

The Shames had a heart-to-heart yesterday over the best tacos in town. We realized we’ve continued to try to do a little (or a lot) of everything — and while it’s nice that we can do whatever we want, we should probably focus (as I mentioned previously…but for real) on the things that will bring us comparable rewards.

What does that mean the Shames have been up to?

Jake’s team won the Roberts Space Industries 600i commercial contest with their fantastic cinematic entry! Super proud of Jake’s script and voiceover, and looking forward to collaborating with his team in the future, because with our forces combined

That said, we’ll probably take a short break from focusing on Star Citizen content, until the game is sufficiently ready for our filming endeavors. Even so, we’ll use video in support of what we really like to do: branding ourselves and others, creating music together, and publishing written entertainment.

Speaking of music, I’m on the lookout for some good resources for how to compose a song (not soundtrack music, but a pop-style song). If you have any texts or videos in mind, please send them my way! Amy and I would like to refine our songwriting abilities.

Structure is something we’re going to try out in this new Shames era. I want to be more disciplined about how often I’m writing, and when, and at least start with a small, doable everyday habit at 7:30 PM. (Even if I’m working late, I intend to set everything aside and write for 15 minutes. That’s time I can and should spare!)

I continued to devote some hours to reading this last week and plowed through “An Excess Male.” Very provocative topic and characters, with a strong writing style and four points of view that made for quite fascinating fiction.

Something about summer has brought my “Portent” characters to mind. I started re-writing the manuscript the other day, but it felt like a false start. I’m going to put my latest writing sprint tip into action and try to power through a few chapters to see if it feels right after a while. I know I’m rusty!

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

Studiolog: Week of July 9th

It is so very summer around here. Too hot to function on a computer until after 10 PM!

So without their PCs, what have the Shames been up to?

Mostly Star Citizen stuff these last couple of weeks! All four studio Shames wanted to participate in the Roberts Space Industries 600i commercial contest – but there was a catch: teams could only be three people, max. So we ended up splitting up: Jake worked with our friend Hasgaha and another amazing collaborator, Utho, on a luxury car-style commercial; and Josh, Amy and I teamed up to make a jewelry-style commercial called “600 Reasons to Fall in Love.” (I’m really happy with the music Amy and I composed!) We should find out who won in the next week or so.

We also published the 6th issue of Ships Illustrated, on the theme of “Adventures.” Not our most popular launch, but we were excited to say “ship it!” (punintentional).

Guitars continue to go well. Jake is now working with a local expert to learn how to wire and set up guitars like a pro, and meanwhile he’s done some amazing finishes using Crimson Guitars Stunning Stains.

Personally, I read a few books the last two weeks: Security, Heartsick, and Novel Shortcuts. Highly recommend the first two as, uh, very much not light fiction reads, if you can stomach a fair bit of gore and torture. The writing styles were starkly different and yet both fantastic. Novel Shortcuts made for an interesting first half, then sort of petered out in the second – but I highlighted a lot of good material from that, which inspired portions of my last post.

I’m about halfway through my Accidental Magic Project short story for August, and it’s one of my favorites so far. Speaking of my short stories, Nicole will be illustrating scenes from some of my shorts for her MFA portfolio! I’m very excited to see what she comes up with.

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

Studiolog: Week of June 25th

As a person who works on a product that synthesizes data and tries to help people make sense of it, I regularly wish there was an easier way to track my creative cycle. In my fickle memory, summers are a mixed bag: some years I’m on fire, some years I’m sluggish. I wish I could see the larger pattern somehow.

With or without data collection, life rolls on. So what have the Shames been up to?

We met last weekend and talked seriously about what kinds of projects we thought could bring some money in to the studio. The general consensus: music, guitars, self-published fiction, and our comic book project with Alex. That list is where we plan to put the majority of our efforts.

To that end, Amy and I have been working on a song called “Bloom with Me.” It’s melodramatic and ridiculous, and I’m excited that I got Amy to do the vocals for me, because she’s great at selling the tone of the song. I’m also pleased with the fact that I have a song, something I don’t have to care about too much but that I will be able to say I finished…when it’s done.

I’ve laid out the 6th issue of Ships Illustrated, and we’re expecting to launch that on July 9th. I created a trailer (I made the music too!) for the upcoming issue last weekend.

The Sharper Axe is almost finished with a few more guitars, which should go on sale this week. The Pinkie Pie guitar is still available, so if you’ve got a kiddo or a friend who enjoys My Little Pony, this would make a fun gift! My Seagull turned out beautifully, by the way.

The purple is a little more even in person, but it’s definitely this shiny.

I must admit, this month, I slacked on The Accidental Magic Project. I wasn’t able to find the time and motivation to contribute a story this month, so I’m going to save it for next month. I’m very excited about it, I just couldn’t do it! I look at this as a tiny victory for self-care.

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

Studiolog: Week of June 18th

Is this thing still on?

Man, what have the Shames been up to? Besides, of course, sprawling in the heat, getting more new jobs, and rescuing guitars…

Wait, rescuing guitars? Yes, Jake is now the lead artist at the shop in our garage we’re calling The Sharper Axe. He finished his first guitar this week, and yes, it IS inspired by Pinkie Pie from My Little Pony. (It’s also for sale, if you have a kid or pal who loves the show!) There’ll be pictures of the avocado guitar (also going up for sale), the spectacular orange bass for Amy, and my own purple Seagull M4 very soon.

We’ve been posting semi-regularly on our musical collective’s Instagram, so if you’re interested in our weird little loops, you can find ’em there.

For The Accidental Magic Project last month, I wrote a short story called “The Chessboard“. Trivia that’s probably only interesting to me: it was inspired entirely by a visit to a pawn shop in West Seattle – I had none of this story when I walked in, and most of it when I walked out. Funny how some places and people can just grab your imagination.

I’m itching to work on a novel again, so I have a feeling I’ll be picking up one of my trusty inspiration books – like Bradbury’s Zen in the Art of Writing or Lamont’s Bird by Bird – or one of the many “novel tricks” books that always get me fired up, and following that up with wrapping on the first draft of “Portent.” How long can I drag this damn thing out? Weeee shall seeeeee…

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

Studiolog: Week of May 7th

Sometimes, life just gets out of control. Like a wild mustang with a mind of its own, only a lot less sexy.

To sum up the last four months: chaos, brilliance, triumph, frustration, angst, challenges.

And in the midst of all of that – what have the Shames been up to?

Building out the studio, to be completely honest. We’ve all acquired new loves for physical instruments, as well as their digital counterparts, and that’s taken us away from our virtual lives. But that’s okay. Despite everything, we’re all still happier.

Some of us got new jobs, or our roles in our existing jobs changed. Plus we’ve been rearranging the house where we all live to be a more effective studio. Between the two, they’ve completely eaten up our time for the last four months.

Today, we sat together in the sun and spent an hour and a half going over what we wanted our future to look like, and how we are going to get there. That means multi-colored index cards with responsibilities for everyone. Some things are small and easily accomplished, like writing micro-fiction for the Star Citizen competition. Some things are a little more ambitious, like writing a children’s book series about space (and a couple of aliens).

Of course, Amy and I have somehow continued to contribute to The Accidental Magic Project. I recently dropped the story “The Dog“, about a boy’s adventures at a magical animal shelter, and Amy’s most recent tale was “Fairly Bad Mother“, about second-rate fairy godparents.

What’s coming up? Plenty, I’m sure, but mostly we’re going to concentrate on launching the Damn Shames 2.0 – our publishing company. This means that I’m on the lookout for collaborative partners of all kinds!

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

Studiolog: Week of January 22nd

Delays, delays. Our entire household has been sick at various times, the return to work for the new year exploded everywhere… Can I just something bizarre like, “The crows sagged on the line,” whenever I actually mean, “All of the usual excuses kept there from being updates lately”? Cool OK great.

So what have the Shames been up to, besides making excuses? Loads, actually!

For one thing, we’re going to produce a comic book. That’s right — a comic book. It’s something none of us have ever actually done before, but have all wanted to try our hands at in various capacities. We’re teaming up with spectacular comic artist Alex, who just happens to be offering his sketches for a fabulously affordable price (I highly recommend commissioning character art to inspire yourself to write!). I’m writing the script in Scrivener, using a template from Antony Johnston.

Everyone — and I mean everyone — has picked up at least one instrument in the last three weeks (Josh dug out his electric guitar, Amy found her true love in an electronic wind instrument, and Jake has rediscovered his Maschine), and the Damn Shames are making wild, weird, and (sometimes) surprisingly decent tunes together. We’re not trying to be a band, per se — it just turns out we all enjoy letting our brains unwind with a little collaborative music. The hope is to make all of our own music for our videos, and maybe sell some of the better songs as stock music on the side.

The Accidental Magic Project rolls on, with Jill contributing her first story, “Working Title,” and Janice gracing us with her first installment, “Imbolg.” My colleague and weird wordfriend Dylan is our first guest, and, spoilers, his story is great. (It’ll be up on our website tomorrow!) I’ve started my February story, but barely; as usual, looks like I’ll wait until the last minute to really get going.

I’ve got a commission of my “Portent” characters coming from artist Katharine Linnea, so I should be sharing that in the next few weeks. We’re trying to get the fifth issue of Ships Illustrated to the virtual presses. Aaand, I need to get off my ass and buy an ISBN number for Daugment so I can sell a physical edition. Goals!

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

Studiolog: Week of January 1st

It’s 2018! Yay, another human-dictated increment of time-passing has occurred!  Well, OK, the Earth’s regular rotation isn’t a bad measurement. Fine.

No matter the reason for the new season, it’s a good time to launch new projects, make announcements of intentions, and reflect and set goals. At least, I like to do that — gives me fewer excuses to stop doing something if I’ve promised to do it “just for one year,” and if that year is easy to measure (like, January 1st to December 31st).

So what have the Shames been up to? It’s been a weird short week, due to the holidays, so the studio has not been hyperactive the past few days. However… I’m very excited to announce The Accidental Magic Project! Jill and I have dreamed up numerous projects in the past together (such as The Scribblers’ Club, an unfinished novel called “Return to Elgin,” and our original 50 Unexplainable Stories (and its year-long sequel, the unnamed challenge), and this might just be my favorite.

The gist of The Accidental Magic Project is this: every Friday, one of us (myself, Jill, or Janice) or our guests will post a story. The theme of that story will be “accidental magic” — meaning magic that, intentionally or unintentionally, brings about unintended consequences. I cannot wait to see what kinds of stories our writers come up with on this theme. I’ll be posting the very first one tomorrow!

I’m so excited, too, because I’ve gotten some brand new writers on board, along with writers I’ve collaborated with in the past and am ecstatic to work with again. One of our guests’ 11- and 9-year-old daughters will even be sharing their stories with us! That’s my very favorite thing about creative projects that get artists working together: watching those who’ve never tried something like this before understanding the power of seeing it through, of having finished a story. It’s simply magical.

This week, I also launched Promptly on Twitter, a daily series of writing prompts I’ve created to get folks interested in my current project: a book of writing prompts with “Promptly” in the title. I’m saving my best ones for the book, of course, but here’s an example of the daily prompts I quite enjoyed writing.

The Shames have been prepping for the art-heavy year ahead, acquiring some a new hard drive for capturing footage, as well as a LOT of art reference books for publishing projects and promotional materials. (Like, a LOT. We cleaned out an entire section of Half Price Books.)

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

Studiolog: Week of December 25th

This week has flown by, being Christmas week and all — and as such, it wasn’t the most productive week at the Damn Shames Studio. PSH. Who am I kidding? I finished a book!

That was the most significant moment this week: I finished my first draft of “Portent” right around midnight last night. It clocks in around 65k words, which is about 5k less than I thought I’d hit by the time I finished Draft #1. (That said, it seems to be in better shape than I thought it would be!) My plan is to kickstart something else this week, with the momentum I’ve built up the last couple of months (thanks, NaNoWriMo!), and then get “Portent” revised by mid-February.

Meanwhile, I listed out my projects at three different stages: Planning, Writing, and Revision. I then ordered them by value — which will give me the most bang for my buck when it comes to reader funnels. This led to the above decision about revising “Portent” first, and I hope this will give me a good sense of prioritization as I enter the new year.

Some exciting news: I’ll be announcing a new project with Jill Corddry (and a few others) in the next installment of Studiolog! We’ve been dreaming this up for a few months now, and thanks to our web designer Patrick, we’re about to have an amazing website ready to share with the world. And then…content!

Our graphics man, Josh (hire him, he’s great), made some progress on assets for “Haulin’ Ass with Half_Pint” — a streaming show about Star Citizen, mostly starring Amy (who doesn’t have a web presence yet — yes, I’m calling you out, Ames!). We’ll be launching “Haulin’ Ass” in 2018. (Interested in assets for a streaming show? We provide those services at reasonable rates, so please contact us!)

We continue to practice Grand Theft Auto V missions, and we’ve brought in Patrick and our pals Zach and Iron to help. Between the seven of us, we’re going to make some content about GTAV: cinematic story-driven play, and blooper reels.

Finally, we brainstormed some recipes for our various cookbook projects. I hope to publish at least one of those in 2018!

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