First Convention: K-Con 2017

In 2015, I went to my first ever convention: Anime Dublin. I followed this up for my thesis by attending four more conventions  during the summer, and one more in November of that year. I reduced my convention numbers significantly in 2016 – I needed to attend so many the year before to record at them, but I was only attending for fun last year. That said, I did also begin taking part in The Geek Mart every month, with my responsibilities as an organiser growing the more I went.

Roll on 2017, and my first convention behind the table. K-Con, Kerry’s first big convention, takes place on April 1st and 2nd. While smaller than Dublin Comic Con, in sharing the same owners the level of hype and interest around it is growing. There are some obvious concerns among seasoned traders as to how well things will go for them at K-Con, but all new events need to be tested by somebody.

That’s where I come in, as a small press indie author looking to make a start on the convention scene. I’ve so far only arranged for two tables of my own this year – K-Con and Dublin Comic Con – with a possibility of appearing at a few smaller events throughout the summer outside of my Geek Mart responsibilities. Given that this is the first event of the year, though, and my first convention ever, I’ve pushed myself to bring something new and interesting – the book I keep talking about in every post I write: A Death in the Family.

I’m also putting together a lot of short story booklets, which I started bringing to The Geek Mart late last year. They vary in genre, from supernatural tales like The Local Necromancer and Swipe Right for Blood Lust, to Superhero stories centred around Pocket Powers (consumer-friendly consumable temporary superpowers) and some tales that are downright weird, like The Rabbit Hole and The Hat Collector.

One thing I like to keep consistent is my brand: I’m a storyteller. While I’ll have prints with me, my main focus for the convention will be on selling stories. The strange little ideas that I get, whether they become a full book like Balor Reborn or Stepping Forward, or a short tale like Stairway or Hanging Up the Scythe, have generally gone down well in the past, and I think there’s an audience for them. In my experience with small markets so far, there’s always someone willing to try something new.

This isn’t to say that I’m expecting I’ll do phenomenally well. There’s just no way of judging that. But unlike a lot of people who worry about this convention because there are only a few guests, I’m cautiously optimistic that the arrival of a new convention in Kerry will at least bring a few people who want to take a shot at some of what the Irish small press scene is offering. For the most part, it’s comics – lots and lots of really well produced comics.

There are a few of us who started with prose fiction, before we tried our hands at comic scripts. And there are a few of us attending K-Con who’ve never had big conventions before.

I’ve attempted to do some research on how to prepare for this – a remarkable short book called Working the Table provided some stellar insights – and I’ve spent almost a year at The Geek Mart figuring out pitches for stories, working on how to get someone to at least act upon their feint interest in a book to pick it up and read the back. It doesn’t always lead to sales, and that’s okay – it’s a good step in the right direction if someone can move beyond their hesitation to look at a book.

It’s going to be a long weekend at K-Con. There’ll be lots of travel involved, and more than a fair amount of standing around talking to people (hopefully), and then evenings of trying to mix recovery time and socialising with other con-goers and other vendors.

Maybe my experience browsing at conventions will help. No doubt eight years of retail (selling books, of course) will come in handy. And I imagine even the year-and-a-bit I spent working at Qwertee.com’s warehouse will find a way of being useful – being on my feet all day, for a start.

I’d like to sell a lot of books. There’s no point hiding that fact – everyone wants to do well at a convention when they’re behind the table. Just as important, I’d like to come away from it having had a good time, feeling like I did something right with the weekend, and figuring out how to make the most of Dublin Comic Con in August. A first convention is scary, but it has to happen eventually. And, I think it’s important to remind myself that a year ago I didn’t have a single book in print – and now I have five. Con-goers are excellent motivators.

Posted in Life, Media | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Happy Pear | Flash Fiction

For years, people bought fruit from Imelda without realising that it was special. She knew, but she kept it a secret. She didn’t think a street market was a good place to unveil to the world that things were not always as they seemed. Then came along The Black Pages, the global directory for everything magical, mystical, ghoulish, ghostly and fantastical. Imelda adored it. She could find her nearest witch if she had a problem with self-animating brooms. She could find a real medium to help her ask her mother for the recipe to her famous chilli con carne. And, when she plucked up the courage, she could place a listing in the book for herself, and her mystical wares.

On a busy market street, she sold fruit. For years, she had regular customers. She made a small living for herself. Then magical beings came out of the proverbial closet, and she found herself having to admit to them that things weren’t exactly normal as far as her fruit was concerned. Now, with the newest copy of The Black Pages appearing spontaneously around the world, she had a new challenge: sell to customers who already knew what she did.

“What’s this do?” a man asked her.

“Apples? They help for calm. Stress is one of the biggest contributing factors to ill health, after all, so eating one of my apples every day will help keep the doctor away.” She smiled pleasantly. She didn’t like to shout like the other people at the market. She suddenly found she didn’t need to, either. The crowd was coming to her.

“And these?” a woman asked, holding up a lemon and lime.

Imelda chirped, “The lemons are for bitterness, and the limes to feel uplifted. Excellent palette cleansers when life feels a bit too much. Add sugar and water to the juice of the lemons and you have some pretty exciting lemonade.”

Selling her fruit was never any easier, but it did come with certain drawbacks. She couldn’t leave. She hoped that she wouldn’t need to use the toilet throughout the day – she had a specially trained bladder, anyway – but she knew she’d have to eat her own wares just to stay on her feet. She took a bite from a calming apple as the crowd swelled around her.

“The pears are for a little bit of happiness, especially when everything goes wrong,” she told a man as he picked up a few in his hands.

“Is this normal?” he asked her.

She hadn’t considered that. Normal was a relative term, to her. It felt normal to her to eat plenty of fruit throughout the day. It felt normal to her to look to different foods for different moods. She still turned to chocolate when she felt miserable, no matter how many pears she had in stock.

Imelda shrugged to the man, calm as could be with half an apple in her stomach. “It’s normal to me. Maybe it’s not natural, but that’s how we make change.” He looked at her sceptically. She could tell he was having difficulty with the concept of magical fruit. But she could also see a sadness in his eyes. “Tell you what, take a pear on the house. Try it. But make sure you eat it before it goes off. The magic sort of…breaks.”

“Breaks?”

“Well, you know, the pear will make you feel a bit sad.” She pointed around at different fruits on her stall. Others were listening to her warning. “The apples will make you stressed and flustered. The lime will make you melancholy. Gentlemen really don’t want one of the gone off bananas, let me tell you that.”

Someone chuckled, and she supposed it must have been funny. The man took the pear gratefully, and the crowd filled in his space.

Imelda was not used to this amount of pressure. When her apple was gone, she began to eat a pear. She felt she needed the smiles to keep her going. She tried her best to fill every order, whether it was for sensual strawberries or apathetic white grapes.

But she couldn’t shake the feeling that the man had come to her as a last resort. She hoped to see him again. She was used to having regulars. She wasn’t used to wishing she had them. Imelda wasn’t sure if she had feelings for him, or if she just felt things about him. He was handsome, and he was sad. The former made him easier to look at, and that only made the sadness shine through.

Her father had been good with feelings. He could tell someone’s mood just by looking at them. He supposed that maybe he was a bit special, but he didn’t see it as being particularly useful when he worked as a landscape photographer. He said he didn’t have the capacity for social work.

Her mother, on the other hand, was just a wonderful chef. Imelda wondered if she was magical, but she had been assured on several instances that she was just a regular human who loved a good meal.

Imelda grew up with their passions. Food was special to her. Moods were special to her. Eventually, she learned to combine the two, almost entirely by accident. It worked best with fruit, but her homecooked meals always made people feel better about themselves, no matter the ingredients.

She thought that all of this could make running the market easier. She thought that mood fruit would help her make a difference in the world. But as the day came to a close, she couldn’t stop herself crying. Tears streamed down her face. Customers continued to arrive, buying out most of the rest of her stock.

The man returned to her as she was packing up. “It worked,” he said to her, then paused. “Are you alright?”

She nodded, but she didn’t believe it. She looked for her pear, for a boost, and dropped it immediately to the ground. “Gone off,” she said under her breath.

The man placed a comforting hand on her shoulder. “But it does work,” he reminded her. “Just like you said. And people wanted it, whether you were charming and upbeat, or crying in their faces.” She tried not to wail in his face. She tried not to weep when he bought her remaining pairs. She tried not to whimper when he suggested that his sister help run the stall tomorrow.

And, she realised, she laughed when he wiped away her tears. Some magics, like human kindness, were stronger than others.

The Happy Pear is part of a collection of stories about a magical phone book that exists within the supernatural community – The Black Pages. These stories related to my new book, A Death in the Family, which launches at K-Con on April 1st. Read about the book below:

Benjamin Cooper is about as close to death as someone can get, without actually dying. Literally.

In the wake of the Worst Year of the Century, the Coopers are visited by a man straight out of folklore, Death himself. Ben is forced, by way of fulfilling a supernatural debt, to take over the mantle of Reaper.

But life as Death is more complicated than Ben could ever imagine, and perfectly executing every order is rarely an easy task.

A Death in the Family is a tale of paying for others’ decisions, seeking to understand dying, and falling hopelessly in love.

Posted in fiction | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Making the Cover of A Death in the Family

One thing I like about independent publishing is getting to create my own covers. I don’t normally share the process – it’s often not very interesting – but this time I turned to actual illustration to get the cover for A Death in the Family created. And it all began with a selfie. Or two.

Let’s pretend I don’t look exhausted before I even got to work creating the cover, and move on to selfie #2.

With those two pictures taken, I had to do something to make the cover look more like I needed it to: a part human, part skeletal.

Insert dodgy nose job. I had to keep my face about the same size, which meant losing some of the middle part of my face. But it’s okay. I was planning on losing that, anyway. I was also originally going to just use some digital photo magic, and keep the entire thing looking like a photograph, but when the complexity of the skeletal face dawned on me fully, I moved towards illustration. But before that, I made my eyes red. (Fun fact: the rest of my eyes were red by the time I finished creating the cover, because that’s what happens when you look at a screen on full brightness all day without taking the appropriate breaks.)

The first step in the illustration process was the eyes. Lines were drawn in around them and shaded to allow for some depth and detail, and the eyebrows were made thicker than my own. I also kept the eyes red – there’s a reason within the book for it. The hair is also different from mine. I should also add, when I illustrated the cover, I was creating a Caucasian character, but my protagonist – Ben Cooper – is never described as being of one ethnicity or another.

Between versions of the cover, and on the suggestion of my brother, I turned the skin grey. It’ll make sense as the rest of the cover is built up over this one small segment. But with the upper face drawn, I had to turn to the thing that made me illustrate the cover instead of using photographs: the skull.

I built up the skull from the teeth – hence the look on my face in the second photo. Laying the teeth was important. Each one was drawn separately and then moved about as necessary. They were also made larger than my teeth, to help them stand out on the cover more easily. The shape of the skull was then drawn in over the photograph, and detail was added for shading and for the necessary holes in the front of the skull – where the jaw separates behind the teeth, and the nostrils. (Super professional science talk, I know!)

Combined, they make up an almost complete face, and it’s easy to see where certain details get cut off along the way. We’re almost at the point where the bad nose job gets covered up. But first, make the head a little less naked.

 

The hood for the robes was added in in several pieces. The top and bottom were placed in front of the face and skull illustrations, with creases added below for depth, and a lighter shade added over the sides of the face to give it more shape – before it was just a bunch of colour splashed onto a page in approximately the right shape in some instances. The hairline is covered up at this point.

Enter the Scythe. Taking up the top half of the cover, the Scythe allows for the divide between the flesh and bone elements of my now-illustrated face. (I’m told it doesn’t look too much like me, anymore, and I’m hoping that’s a good thing.) The addition of a sheen, I hope, makes it look more metallic in nature.

At this point, the illusion becomes more complete. The Scythe covers the dodgy nose job, and dulls the colours of the face a bit more. All that’s left are: the background colours, the text on the cover, and the erosion effect. I have a fondness for erosion on book covers, but rather than go for the peeling-away look that I used in the creation of the Rebirth Cycle books, I went for something a little more like broken glass. (Which is, in fact, an edited tree stump, sourced from a royalty-free image site, and edited until it was no longer a tree stump at all.) The end result is this:

I was insanely proud of this cover. I put a lot of work into it, and when the books showed up at my house, it felt like the work really paid off.

And of course, every book needs a spine and a back cover. The thing that one needs to remember when producing a wraparound cover like this is that it’s better to have the front cover spill onto the spine a bit, rather than risk the spine spilling onto the front. (Even if it means there’s some of the spine on the back cover, the important thing is that when readers look at the front of a book, they aren’t seeing something that doesn’t belong there.) I usually avoid that issue altogether by making my image wrap around the entire book, spine included, but it didn’t feel right for this one – especially not when that would mean giving the Scythe a define length. Space should also be reserved on the back of the book for a barcode, should you be adding one. Some publishing sites will generate these for you, and will indicate where you will need to keep clear on the cover.

Interested in reading the book? Find out more about it below, and follow the Facebook event for further updates. It launches at K-Con on April 1st.

Benjamin Cooper is about as close to death as someone can get, without actually dying. Literally.

In the wake of the Worst Year of the Century, the Coopers are visited by a man straight out of folklore, Death himself. Ben is forced, by way of fulfilling a supernatural debt, to take over the mantle of Reaper.

But life as Death is more complicated than Ben could ever imagine, and perfectly executing every order is rarely an easy task.

A Death in the Family is a tale of paying for others’ decisions, seeking to understand dying, and falling hopelessly in love.

 

 

 

Posted in Media | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Coping with Unemployment

I finally got back into YouTube today, with a video about coping with unemployment through writing and creativity. It feels weird being so candid on YouTube, but it felt necessary to actually get myself making videos again. There was so much I wanted to talk about, and this one big thing that I didn’t want to talk about.

Unemployment isn’t fun. It isn’t good for my mental health. It isn’t good for my bank account. (Though I have learned the art of being frugal where it counts – I don’t buy a ridiculous amount of things anymore.)

I managed to get a grip on things as January progressed. Writing short stories, applying for different types of jobs, that sort of thing. I developed a rhythm in the week between The Geek Mart every month and my writing group meet ups every week, and in February – when I got myself into the habit of drawing every day – I started a six-week course on storytelling in comics and graphic novels.

I’m not sure how I would have handled the situation if I wasn’t interested in creative activities. I don’t know how most people manage. All I know is how to maintain the status quo that is the storm isn’t my head when things aren’t going well.

***

The music from this video is “Relaxing Piano Music” by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com) – licence in the video description. The thumbnail was inspired by Roly. The video topic came from The Collab Club.

Posted in Life, Media | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Misfortune Teller | Flash Fiction

Life was meant to come with some surprises. Science had made it easy to predict certain things, like the gender of an expected baby, the potential spread of cancer, the risk of any number of genetic diseases, the likelihood of someone being able to survive a car crash. It often seemed easier to predict the bad than the good. For Clark Monaghan, that statement couldn’t have felt more true. He had a listing in The Black Pages, the directory for everything magical, mystical and fantastical. It was revised from a former position he had once had, and by its nature was more popular. He sometimes wished the book never existed.

Clark could never beat his customers to work. He arrived every morning with a cup of hot coffee to a crowd. Not an orderly queue, but a mob waiting for answers. He knew he didn’t need to show up early for them – they didn’t get in until he’d had his coffee – but he figured if he couldn’t beat them, he could at least beat rush hour traffic.

His first customer was an electrician. The demographics of Clark’s customers would reveal a pattern of dangerous occupations, and often some scepticism. “Does it really work?” the man asked.

Clark nodded. “I don’t list myself as the Misfortune Teller for nothing,” he explained. “But I can only tell you one thing. The same thing I tell everyone else.” The man nodded. “Before we begin, you must know that this can be incredibly distressing. The information you receive today, it will change your life. Morbid curiosity is not enough to justify this expense. You will know that which humankind was never meant to know. Do you wish to continue?”

The man nodded again. “I have a daughter. She’s only five. I have to know.”

They held hands. The electrician was, by Clark’s gauge, only slightly uncomfortable with it. He had seen worst reactions. He had seen some people enjoy it perhaps a bit too much. But the holding of hands was an essential part of Clark’s process, a process that was as entirely unique as Clark’s gift.

He closed his eyes. Every living being had an aura. Clark could sense it. That wasn’t special, at least not for The Black Pages. But within that aura, Clark could find something else. He reached for it, in a way only he could, through space and time, around logic and reason and winding through intelligence. He avoided madness and chaos, and eventually reached that one, powerful piece of information that only he had so far managed to locate within an aura.

He opened his eyes, picked up a quill from the table beside him with one hand, and pricked the man’s arm that he still held firm. The man flinched, but stayed still as a trickle of blood began to write upon his arm. A date, a time, and nothing more.

The man looked at it uncertainly and began to cry softly. Clark noted that he was a quiet crier. Tears, but not snots. “That’s quite a long time to go,” he told the man. “Your daughter, she’ll be nearly sixty by then.” He smiled warmly at his customer. He did not know the man’s name. He didn’t like to read about his customers in the obituaries. He tried to avoid their names within their auras, too, and was sometimes successful.

“That’s really when I’ll die?” the man asked. Clark nodded. Sometimes, it wasn’t such a misfortune. He was maybe falsely advertising to some people.

“The date can be washed off at your leisure. I advise doing so before heading to work or speaking to your family.”

It went that way for everyone. Not necessarily with the same results; a lot of the people who came to him had shorter lives ahead of them than they had intended for themselves. Many of those tried to fit as much life into that time as they could, which often resulted in a terrible, deadly accident at the exact time Clark had given them.

Life was surprising that way.

A woman with only a few weeks to go asked him the question that many of those with short lives had on their minds. “How do you know?”

Clark knew she was smart. He knew she knew about the magical world once so magically hidden from everyone else. “I used to be a Grim Reaper,” he explained. “Then, I was in a terrible accident, after I’d left the job. Lost my head, quite literally. A necromancer put me back together, which didn’t much please people. I think those two things, and the fact that my mother used to work in this very room gave me something of a unique outlook on life.”

He smiled at her. She smiled back. “Maybe we’re lucky to have you,” she said quietly. He would have liked her to live longer. He thought maybe he could fall for her. She was half his age, not that he was keeping track anymore. He didn’t know her name, only that of the type of cancer she had. She knew she would die soon. She just need clarity, she’d told him.

“Maybe I’m lucky to have people like you. Death is often unwelcome. There aren’t many like you who are so aware of how inescapable it is.” She left, her imminent date still imprinted upon her arm. She was his last for the day. He needed more coffee. He always wondered if going alone looked at weird to other people as it did to him.

He did not go for coffee.

Instead, he grasped his hands together. His aura flared up within his mind’s eye. It was complicated and jagged, sometimes threatening to throw him out. No one liked Clark’s aura, not even Clark himself. Whether through the guiding of souls or the replacement of his own, his aura had become something of a menace.

And whether through his own failure, or a lack of an ending, he could never tell when he himself would die.

And that, he thought, was just one of the many ways life could be cruel.

The Misfortune Teller is part of a collection of stories about a magical phone book that exists within the supernatural community – The Black Pages. These stories related to my new book, A Death in the Family, which launches at K-Con on April 1st. Read about the book below:

Benjamin Cooper is about as close to death as someone can get, without actually dying. Literally.

In the wake of the Worst Year of the Century, the Coopers are visited by a man straight out of folklore, Death himself. Ben is forced, by way of fulfilling a supernatural debt, to take over the mantle of Reaper.

But life as Death is more complicated than Ben could ever imagine, and perfectly executing every order is rarely an easy task.

A Death in the Family is a tale of paying for others’ decisions, seeking to understand dying, and falling hopelessly in love.

Posted in fiction | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

World-building Through Storytelling

In January of this year, I spent time every day writing short stories, and developing ideas. Several of these stories fed into a shared universe, with a single item at its centre: a phone book for the supernatural, called The Black Pages. Taking a look at some of the different people whose businesses were detailed within this imaginary phone book, I built up a few key points for the stories: what sort of hierarchy existed, what sort of laws surrounded magic, what people were capable of, who knew who in the wider universe, etc.

Flash forward to March, and I put together a book that had been playing about in my head since long before The Black Pages. I saw an opportunity with an existing story I had written to expand the world I had created, by introducing a character I’d been thinking about for years: Death, in a beige sweater. Making a brief appearance in a story tale called The Local Necromancer, Death’s story had me captivated. And so, I churned out A Death in the Family, a book that tells the story of Benjamin Cooper, after years of deliberation and a morbid fascination with the folklore surrounding death and the end of times. The book allowed me to build up a few things I had established in my short stories.

A friend asked me about world building and story telling yesterday – a nice coincidence, given the fact that I was planning this post – and I gave her a simple answer that I can put more concisely now: build the world through the story.

I started with the necromancer. He had a name. He had a story. I followed up on his tale with two more related stories. One gave me a fun tale, the other gave me a policing organisation. One thing that always interested me about any story worlds dealing with the supernatural were the governing and policing forces. Buffy the Vampire Slayer had the Watchers. Supernatural had Heaven and the Men of Letters, but nothing beyond Hell that was internal to the supernatural creatures. The Shadowhunter Chronicles has the Shadowhunters to police the supernatural, with each subsection of magical being having their own governing forces.

The slightly dodgy artwork for a short story booklet. Cheap and cheerful!

I needed order, and I had a necromancer. He needed opposition on two fronts: one group that deals with the consequences of his business, and another to try stop him. I also wanted some element of comedic relief, and with my young, beige sweater-ed Death on the scene, I had a solution: Reapers. I hadn’t built up many rules surrounding them, but they felt like a natural opposite to the necromancer, and that they were only going to be regular people. Death became a day-job.

I also introduced, in a third story, my police and clean-up crew: Damage Control. One supernatural solution, one human solution, and two more characters to play a role in the events of the book that was putting itself together in my subconscious for a few years.

Building a world requires a certain level of patience, and a degree of understanding how much information is too much for a reader in one go. In an ideal world, people would read my short fiction in a set order: The Local NecromancerThe Monochrome Marriage, and the as-yet unpublished, Damage Control. It’s a mini-arc of stories that focus on one element of A Death in the Family.

Hanging Up The Scythe is important for context with the book that followed, but could be read before or after it. It mostly deals with the ‘why’ of its protagonist’s story, and gives him a little more ‘air time’ than he receives in A Death in the Family.

In that order, readers will be introduced to the concept of the supernatural, given a few set rules for how certain elements of it work, and be shown the consequences of someone’s actions. Looked at as chapters, each one provides an extra glimpse into how things work in the fictional world. That same mind-set was maintained when writing the story of Benjamin Cooper, a complete outsider to the supernatural world. Readers learn things as he does, and with a new job to adapt to, there’s only a certain amount of info-dump he can feasibly deal with on a day-by-day basis.

A common rule when writing is that each chapter in a book should deal with one important thing. I gave Ben ‘cases’ to deal with – souls to Reap – as a way of containing each element of his learning. The prologue tells the reader that Death is a living, breathing person. The first chapter introduces Ben, and allows for some understanding of the rules at play. The second chapter deals with his first case, and the procedure behind Reaping. And so on. That’s the spoiler-free version of events, but it should be pretty clear how I addressed this book: something new every chapter, partly to build up the world that the story takes place in, and always to give something for Ben to overcome – be it a complete change in his life, or the first day on the job.

While you don’t necessarily need to work on several stories at once to develop your world, short stories related to your novel can serve as a valuable tool to show more of the world that would otherwise exist only in the background of your narrative. They can be quick and easy to read, providing the reader with a glimpse of the world through another character’s eyes, without having to influence the main plot of your book. How you release them is up to you – and there’s a whole other post I can write about my methods of late in that field. In the meantime, figure out what’s relevant in your world building to your story, and focus on writing a tale that allows you to introduce your reader to new concepts as the narrative unfolds.

A Death in the Family is will be released on April 1st, at the inaugural K-Con in Kerry. Check out kerrycomiccon.com for details of the convention. Read about the book below:

Benjamin Cooper is about as close to death as someone can get, without actually dying. Literally.

In the wake of the Worst Year of the Century, the Coopers are visited by a man straight out of folklore, Death himself. Ben is forced, by way of fulfilling a supernatural debt, to take over the mantle of Reaper.

But life as Death is more complicated than Ben could ever imagine, and perfectly executing every order is rarely an easy task.

A Death in the Family is a tale of paying for others’ decisions, seeking to understand dying, and falling hopelessly in love.

 

Posted in Life, Media | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Daily Practices: The Road So Far

I used to keep some habits. I had a habit app on my phone. It made me read every day. Write every day. Do something every day. And then, I got a little bit sick. (Okay, so I was on a ton of tablets to try keep my temperature down, and it happened right around my graduation, which was not fun.) After that, I never picked things back up again. I mean that literally and figuratively. I dropped some habits, and I literally didn’t open a couple of poetry books I had been reading at the time.

Being such a fan of New Year’s Resolutions, and wanting to get back into forming daily habits, I set myself two goals: 1 flash fiction story every day, and 10 random ideas to be written into my notebook.

I’m glad to say, that I succeeded. My word count for the month, not including blog posts and other assorted copy, was just over 34,000 words. That’s more than twice my NaNoWriMo word count, with much less stress. That’s divided up across 29 flash stories, two chapters for co-author stories with my writer’s group, and one chapter for a book I accidentally started. (Literally, on January 1st the first thing I wrote when I meant to write a flash fiction story felt more like a short chapter one… oops?) Those 29 stories include three shared universes – two from one, three from another, and eleven from the third – and a bunch of standalone weirdness.

rabbit-hole-hat-collector

Two of the new stories I brought to the January Geek Mart

With January officially over, I’m now looking at making February all about something else. Part of me wants to force myself to draw something every day. I’m not an artist, but I’m quickly falling in love with creating comics. My understanding of the craft is that it makes a lot more sense to at least be able to draw them poorly if you want to show that you can write them, so that’s what I’ll be doing.

I’m also starting a comic course later this month, so all of this makes a tremendous amount of sense to me. I may have no idea what to draw, but I’ll give it a shot, nonetheless.

I could write a whole blog post about what I learned from writing flash stories every day (that weren’t always flash stories, as I typically aim for under the 1000 word mark), but I think the main takeaway from doing anything regularly is this: you figure it out the more you work on it. I’m planning to keep on writing every day. I’ll likely switch it up a bit more, now, to include comic scripts (I wrote two of those in January, too!) and longer prose. And that’s the point of writing every day – to make it easier to keep it up. It became fun for me, again, to get to write something new every day.

I’m not necessarily recommending that everyone do what I did, but it does help to create something new regularly. Even while I’m working on longer books, I’ll still take breaks in the future to write something else that’s shorter, to keep up the buzz of having completed a project while I’m trying to build a story. (It’s sort of like walking around a mountain until you find an easier path to climb. There’s definitely an analogy in this somewhere.)

sketchbook

So, let’s get started. Let’s figure something out with this drawing craic. And, maybe, I’ll start showing some of it online.

In the meantime, you can catch me at The Geek Mart this weekend – Saturday 4th, 10-6 in the Central Hotel. All the details you need for the market can be found on its new website. That was fun to put together, and will feature fresh content every week. (He says, crossing his fingers.)

Posted in Goal Setting, Life | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment