How I Wrote 3 Novels in 2013

In terms of sheer word output, 2013 was the most productive year I’ve ever had. After spending the previous two years working a discombobulated, utterly confused (and confusing) novel down to the bone, I decided I needed a different approach to writing novels. (Side note: this mess of a book turned into a soon-to-be-published short story. Hooray!)

The downfall with devoting all my time and energy to one single project was two-fold: for one, it becomes impossible to see the forest for the trees when your mind is singularly focused on one creative work. Every problem feels magnified, and every solution proves insufficient, tethered to a busted framework that had no business propping up a story to begin with.

Secondly, it’s good to step away and flex different creative muscles. Marathon trainers work on split times, long distance runs and sprint intervals to vary their training. Shouldn’t writers also work different areas? I wondered if maybe the best thing for my brain was to move from project to project, stepping away so that my story had space to breathe, and so I could gain some distance, perspective and ideally, new skills, all honed by time spent writing new stories.

I set a rather audacious goal. I wanted to write 3 novels in 2013. Continue reading →

Ira Glass on Storytelling

Fantastic quote on writing from Ira Glass, and one that proves to be a great comfort every now and then.

I really wish someone would have told me this a few years back, when I was less a writer and more like a gasping fish, lost on an unfathomable shore. I remember desperately wanting my words to catch up to my ambition, and the more I’ve output over the last couple of years, the more I feel like there’s actually some water under my fins, instead of endless grains of sand.

Keep closing the gap.

Excerpt: The Archimedes Problem

Claw Marks

For those of you who don’t know, a short story of mine is going to be published soon as part of Emby Press’s BLOOD TRAILS, an anthology focusing on monster hunter stories. Several people have been asking me when they can read this story. The official answer is that you can read it when it releases in early February. The less official answer is that you can read an excerpt of it right now. Hooray and such.

The Archimedes Problem is about a boy and the monster that killed his father. This story appeared in its infancy on this very blog, some years ago, and then morphed into a novel, and then back into a short story. I think this is how it was always meant to be.


I’ll be sure to post a link once the anthology goes on sale. Feel free to leave some thoughts in the comments!

(image by garethfw)

Year of the You

This TurboTax ad caught my eye the other day. Pretty impressed that they took something as boring as doing taxes and managed to create a super personal and charming ad out of it. As a marketing writer by trade, it’s cool to see when a company does a great job of finding a story to tell like this.

Also, Wreck it Ralph voices it. So that’s cool, too.

A Blog Appears! Command?

Pardon the dust, folks.

After several months off, I decided it was time to refresh this blog with the help of my friend Jeff James, who is a WordPress wizard and also a super friend.

What was I doing with all that time off? Novel-ing, actually. At some point early in 2013, I set a rather ludicrous goal for myself. Tired of working on a novel that was at the time going nowhere, I decided the best course of action was to devote a calendar year to producing as much new content as I could. Continue reading →

Leveling Up in Writing

scott pilgrim level up

There are quite a few ways that video games are better than real life. For one, there are very few consequences for your actions. Want to eat mushrooms? Snack away, Mr. Plumber. Want to try to defeat the world’s most evil wizard with a bunch of Deku nuts? Have at it, Hero of Time! Pretty much anything goes.

But one of the things I really love about video games happens to come from role-playing games in particular — the idea of leveling up. Continue reading →

Race Days and Writing Days

If you’ll notice the tumbleweeds around these parts, that’s because I’ve spent the last few weeks immersed in The Jimmy Project, my alternate history superhero story about a boy and his feelings. And saving the U.S of A., I guess.

I finished The Jimmy Project last weekend, and now I’m in a bit of the afterglow that accompanies the end of a first draft. Leaning back and knowing you’re done with that challenging draft is one of the most rewarding things you can imagine. It’s not just that you had an idea, because ideas are a dime a dozen. It’s that you took that one idea persevered when you worried that it might be a bad one. That you kept pushing even when it seemed foolish to do it. And somewhere along the line, you wrote a book. Oops. Continue reading →

Smashing Trains: Storytelling as Problem Solving

I always hated math. Locking two numbers together in Gladiator-style mortal combat made no sense to me. Who cares about the victor of that bloody conflict, when there are so many cool things that could be happening in outer space, and slightly less cool things (but just as bloody as number Hunger Games) that have already happened on this world? Other subjects were far more interesting to me.

But the one small bit of math that I did enjoy happened to be applied mathematics. You know, making numbers do things that matter in the real world. Two trains leaving different stations and careening toward one another at a breakneck speed was fun, get your popcorn ready type stuff waiting to happen. Continue reading →

On Hero Worship and Hard Work

It’s always nice when someone you admire says something positive about a thing you did.

If you aren’t aware, some time ago my friends and I made a video called Day in the Life of a Turret, which sort of went viral. A few years back, I stumbled across a blog post by one of my author idols, Lev Grossman, who wrote The Magicians books and used to be a writer for TIME Magazine, where he called Day in the Life of a Turret “genius.” Naturally, geeking out happened on my end. Continue reading →

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