Category Archives: The Collective updates

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.

Studiolog: Week of December 18th

This was a good week in the Damn Shames Studio! As this is the first installment of Studiolog, I’ll cover a little bit of last week’s Shamesian activities too, since they were quite relevant to this week.

First, we worked with Nicole of Mischief & Mouse (who I talked a bit about last week) to create a parody of the children’s book that launched several series: If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. Ours is a work of fan-fiction set in the world of Star Citizen, and it’s called “If You Give a Mouse a Merlin” (a Merlin being the least-expensive ship in the game). We launched it on Sunday night, and all throughout Monday and even into Tuesday, Star Citizen fans on Reddit and Twitter gave us lots of positive feedback.

We also delivered some pre-stream and post-stream graphics, along with text branding, for one of our Twitch streamer friends, JJ2078. (These are services we provide at reasonable rates, if you or one of your friends are interested in building an online presence!)

As a group, we’ve been practicing some intense combat sequences in Grand Theft Auto V together. That’s because the Star Citizen first-person (but cooperative) narrative game will likely have a launch date soon, and we plan on doing a playthrough as a squad when it’s out — so we need to be good (in video games) at coordinated combat!

I got some updated graphics from our kick-ass web (and all-around) designer Patrick to promote this month’s 99c sale of Daugment. Those can be found on my Twitter account and my Facebook page. (Incidentally, Patrick did the cover for Daugment as well!)

Personally, I’ve been reading Sean Platt and Johnny B. Truant‘s “Write. Publish. Repeat.” to get myself ready for my 2018 goals (which include publishing at least 3 books, which is 3x more books than I published in 2017!). I’ve taken lots of good notes, and think I’ve got some good strategies going into the new year (and what is always, cliché or not, a fresh start of sorts for me) — the most important of which is, just write. And secondarily, just publish.

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.

View from the office

Moving sucks. Especially when you get caught in an inch of snow for three hours, five minutes away from each of your two homes (former apartment, future home).

But, this place was totally worth it.

This is the view from my desk, or something like it, when we eventually get the combination library-office set up. (!!!!!)

No complaints here.

The whole studio team is here, too, all under one roof. The Shames have, as they say, arrived. Now to get the whiteboards up…

The adventures of the Damn Shames

I’m one of those creepy writertypes who doesn’t really disguise the fact that she rips her characters straight from the pages of her friends’ proverbial books. Luckily for me, I’ve got pretty cool friends who then help me develop some of those characters until they’re just plain awesome to write about. That’s how the Damn Shames came about – I started with the idea of writing about my friends as a bunch of space pirates, and they graciously gave me a bunch of ideas for how to go about doing that. (It’s also the brand we use for our studio collective.)

We’ve chosen to set the Shames in the Star Citizen universe for the time being, because it’s an inviting one for us as content creators. We’re allowed to use a lot of material freely to tell our own stories; it’s a little like being invited to make fan videos and write fan-fiction for the Star Wars universe, thirty years ago. The game thrives when its community is engaged and making content, so we’re indulging. Our space pirates will have plenty to do when Star Citizen launches — but for now, you can read all about their adventures at PiratesIn.Space.

I’m writing an ongoing serial novel called “A Mutiny of Pirates,” which I’m posting chapter by chapter so readers can follow along. The story is very loosely based on “Treasure Island,” but mostly based on the true-to-life misadventures my squad would have if we somehow became spacefaring chaotic neutrals, all at the same time. Even if you aren’t familiar with the Star Citizen universe, I try to provide enough context that you won’t be lost (my mother-in-law reads it, and she doesn’t play Star Citizen).

PiratesIn.Space is the easiest way to keep up with my writing in between my novels — speaking of which, stay tuned, because “Daugment” launches today!