Writing Update: Logo and Short-Stories Goals

Last week, I reached two goals: raising enough funds to commission a logo for Word Nerd Scribbles, and revising/submitting the third of this year’s short-stories.

Logo Goal

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‘Commission a Logo Design’ goal 193% complete

I mentioned in a previous post about how my Ko-Fi goal was to raise $30 in contributions to commission a logo design. The accompanying image, with its whopping 193% completion statistic, may make it seem like I had a torrent of donations come flooding in after putting out the call, but such was not the case.

 

Here’s what happened. In truth, I was recently seized by a fit of reorganizing my home, a particular madness often manifested as a side-effect of writing difficulties, which resulted in my cleaning out my bookshelves (and rearranging them. They look really cute now). At a library sale some years ago, I picked up a textbook workbook for A Biography of the English Language (nerd) for the price of a handful of change and simply never cracked it open. It went into my to-go pile.

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A Workbook to Accompany A Biography of the English Language by C.M. Millward and Mary Hayes

With the box full of books I cleared from my shelves, I could have started up an online bookstore, but I wanted the books gone with no unnecessary clutter in my (small) apartment. Through a Money Pantry article, I discovered Book Scouter, which searches something like twenty vendors for any interested in buying your book, listing from highest to lowest bid. Turned out ValorBooks wanted this workbook for $40! I also sold a bunch to Powell’s Books and I put the proceeds combined toward the logo goal.

So we’re getting a logo! I’ve decided on which artist at Fiverr.com I want to hire, so now I just have to work out a logo concept.

Short-Stories Goal

For the fall equinox, I had a spooky day out with my closest friends for Halloween shopping, but I also submitted the last of my three short-stories to Cosmic Roots and Eldritch Shores for their final quarter reading period. Nothing compares to the high of finally completing a piece, but marking this goal off my 2018 to-do list comes pretty close.

 

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‘Write and Submit 3 Short-Stories’ goal 100% complete

This one I wrote toward the beginning of the year while feeling emotionally down and I hated it very much, thank you. (Regular writing sometimes involves plucking out something that absolutely sucks, but doing the work anyway. Oftentimes it washes out in the revision process, with a lot of elbow grease and anguish.) It then went through two more drafts and rotted within the folders of my computer for most of the year before I sat down the other night and reworked it one more time into something I actually like.

It’s a weird story, which isn’t a surprise, considering the fiction I post on the blog, and it seemed like Cosmic Roots and Eldritch Shores might be its only possible match. Here’s aiming for another letter, rejection or acceptance.


To keep up with future book reviews and read free original short fiction, hit that follow button, subscribe through email, or throw a like on the Word Nerd Scribbles Facebook page.

Writing Life: First Rejection Letter

Rejection Letter

I have had, I would say, the unusual experience of receiving an acceptance letter before getting a rejection letter (as opposed to stunning, echoing silence in response to various queries). Yet you can’t win them all, so here is my first rejection letter, from Dark Regions Press for their Deserted Island contest.

Writers receive piles of these. Stephen King even pontificates on the massive number of his in On Writing. So many writers have brought up their experiences with rejection letters, the meaningfulness, the implication that the struggle continues, that I knew I wouldn’t feel bad when I eventually received mine. There will be more. But you know what that means?

I’m writing. I’m submitting. I’m trying.

Maybe, eventually, there will be another acceptance letter instead. This particular missive is going into a special folder in my file cabinet, then it’s back to work.


To keep up with future book reviews and read free original short fiction, hit that follow button, subscribe through email, or throw a like on the Word Nerd Scribbles Facebook page.

2018 Writing Update: Word Nerd Scribbles Shenanigans

At the beginning of the year, I posted about my writing goals for 2018. As we’re over halfway through the year now, I’m thinking it may be time for an update. 

At the beginning of the year, I posted about my writing goals for 2018 and haven’t made a peep about them since. As we’re over halfway through the year now, I’m thinking it may be time for an update.

Addressing Old Goals

Word Count

In the previously mentioned post, I indicated I wrote 120k words last year. I’ve made that my target word count goal for this year (even though I said I wouldn’t, fickle me), but I haven’t been tracking my word count this year at all. Between seventeen Hopeful Wanderer short-stories, twenty-six Getting to Know You articles for my job, two (three?) fanfictions, four original short-stories, and novel progress, I have no idea how much I’ve written. I figure I’ll tally it all up at the end of the year. Le shrug.

Unfinished Manuscripts

I also said I would finish three manuscripts from last year. I have completed…

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… one (1) of those. But listen, it was pretty impressive that I finished that one at all and I felt like a writing god when I did. For Reasons, I decided to permanently remove one of those manuscripts from my writing list. The third is in progress at this very moment

Secret Projects

I didn’t say this before, but I copied over one of last year’s goals to write and submit three short-stories to this year.

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Though I haven’t submitted that third short-story anywhere yet, I have written it, so this should be completed soon. Now I’m feeling like I want to get that revision done, just so I can check this goal off. So close!

Beyond those three, I did revise and submit a short-story piece from last year. Plus that manuscript I finished in Goal #1 lands somewhere between a short-story and a novelette in length, so words are happening!

On to New Goals

The Hopeful Wanderer

What started out as a throwaway project to maintain online presence has become something that’s gaining an audience. I post micro fiction about The Hopeful Wanderer every Thursday (unless I’m late) and putting more heart into each piece than I originally intended has me liking the series very much myself. I have a secret project idea for this series, about which I will release information later. Subscribing to my Patreon will get you in on details about the project sooner and let you influence the direction it takes.

Patreon

I don’t have a Patreon yet, but I’m planning to start one soon! I want to meet some audience goals before I feel justified in starting one up, but as I mentioned above, I already intend to let supporters influence my Hopeful Wanderer project. Beyond that, it will feature early access to any fiction I post online, as well as to longer works (probably). I will also do coloring pages for my supporters.

Audience goals involve bumping up my subscribers numbers on the blog and the Facebook page just a little more, so if you want to help make this happen, please subscribe with the Follow button to the right on a computer or below this article on a phone/tablet, and/or throw a like on the Word Nerd Scribbles Facebook page (you don’t have to choose just one; you can do both and I’ll still count them. *wink wink*).

Ko-Fi

I’m totally already on Ko-Fi, which lets you ‘buy me a coffee’ for $3, so anytime you feel like throwing support my way in an un-committed fashion, you’ve got this option. I’m using the Ko-Fi to fund a goal for the blog!

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I want to commission an official logo for Word Nerd Scribbles, which I will then use to boost the Facebook page posts, which should bring in more audience, ultimately culminating in justification for that Patreon. As far as online content and projects go, completing this goal ignites a chain reaction of events that will push Word Nerd Scribbles forward.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart to Jenette Baker and ‘Gleepwurp the Eyebiter’ for your early support!

Ultimate Goal

This year, next year, and every year, I aim for the goal of entertaining you, my readers. Thanks so much for hanging around and reading what I write. It’s great to have you here!

Want to talk about your favorite thing about Word Nerd Scribbles so far? Got suggestions for goals that have helped you as a content creator? Let me know in the comments!


To keep up with future updates, writing advice, book reviews and to read free original short fiction, hit that follow button, subscribe through email, or throw a like on the Word Nerd Scribbles Facebook page.

Book Review: Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman

While I don’t quite agree that ‘Thunderhead’ beats ‘Scythe,’ they’re absolutely comparable in terms of quality. 

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Thunderhead by New York Times-bestselling author Neal Shusterman

Thunderhead Synopsis

Rowan has gone rogue, and has taken it upon himself to put the Scythedom through a trial by fire. Literally. In the year since Winter Conclave, he has gone off-grid, and has been striking out against corrupt scythes—not only in MidMerica, but across the entire continent. He is a dark folk hero now—“Scythe Lucifer”—a vigilante taking down corrupt scythes in flames.

Citra, now a junior scythe under Scythe Curie, sees the corruption and wants to help change it from the inside out, but is thwarted at every turn, and threatened by the “new order” scythes. Realizing she cannot do this alone—or even with the help of Scythe Curie and Faraday, she does the unthinkable, and risks being “deadish” so she can communicate with the Thunderhead—the only being on earth wise enough to solve the dire problems of a perfect world. But will it help solve those problems, or simply watch as perfection goes into decline?

(Via Goodreads)

About Neal Shusterman

Neal has made his mark as a successful novelist, screenwriter, and television writer. As a full-time writer, he claims to be his own hardest task-master, always at work creating new stories to tell. His books have received many awards from organizations such as the International Reading Association, and the American Library Association, as well as garnering a myriad of state and local awards across the country. Neal’s talents range from film directing (two short films he directed won him the coveted CINE Golden Eagle Awards) to writing music and stage plays – including book and lyrical contributions to “American Twistory,” which is currently played in several major cities. He has even tried his hand at creating Games, having developed three successful “How to Host a Mystery” game for teens, as well as seven “How to Host a Murder” games.

(Via Neal Shusterman’s website)

My Impressions

For a reader, an entertainment consumer of any stripe, really, hyped up claims about a new release tend to disappoint. I picked up Thunderhead from the library because I liked the prior installment, Scythe, enough to devour the last chunk of it in one Saturday afternoon (even with my Work In Progress judging me from my writing desk). But when I read somewhere (an offhand comment? an official review, maybe?) that Thunderhead surpassed Scythe, I became wary. When does book two in a trilogy compare with the first? Rarely.

Yet I found myself pleasantly surprised. While I don’t quite agree that Thunderhead beats Scythe, they’re absolutely comparable in terms of quality.

What I Liked

Over-Arcing Content

The narrative of Neal Shusterman’s Thunderhead brings expanded perspective to already established lore, homing in on previously mentioned sects like our wonderful and terrible Scythes, the religious Tonists, and a new class, the rebellious Unsavories. It touches on many aspects of what it means to be human in an immortal world, recognizing the need for deific reverence, rebellion, and guidance.

It also covers the perspective of an entity that recognizes itself as not God, but which concludes that it might as well be. It also begins to relate more and more to the humans which it protects as it discovers within itself the ability to experience betrayal, anguish, fury, and helplessness.

Characters

Citra Terranova and Rowan Damisch, or rather, Scythes Anastasia and Lucifer, pick up with coming into their own separate but intertwined callings, each becoming more formidable and dangerous in the realms of politics and shadows. Scythes Curie and Faraday continue to impact Thunderhead‘s narrative, inciting change in the same vein as their protégés.

We meet a few new characters as well, including the Thunderhead itself, (the musings of which replace the Scythe gleaning journal excerpts present in Scythe), as well as Greyson Tolliver, a boy raised by the Thunderhead and used as an extension of its will. (Jesus son of God metaphor, anyone?)

The villains, whose identities I cannot spoil because it’s a huge reveal, get a little more focus as well. The allowance of a passionate and intelligent female villain satisfied me very much, and I do hope she gets a long existence of betrayal and revenge.

Motifs

The “war in Heaven” motif that grew present toward the end of Scythe becomes even more apparent with the insertion of the Thunderhead’s point of view on the increasing division between new order and old guard Scythes. Even without the blunt function of having Rowan use Lucifer as his Scythe name, it’s pretty clear that this immortal world stands in for Heaven and the divided Scythes represent pre-Fall angels and devils.

The Ending

That ending. Hard on the heels of triumph comes disaster, relating in loving detail and fabulous pacing the follies of humanity. The denouement events stirred my anxiety and had me on the edge of my seat during my lunch break. I had meant to cut that break short to make up for lost paid time, but I literally couldn’t stop reading Thunderhead until I finished it. Delicious anguish, tagged with a note of hope. The cliffhanger has its hooks in me and I must know how this series ends. No doubt, I will be picking up book three, entitled The Toll.

What I Disliked

Without revealing any spoilers, I at first disliked the beginning of the villain arc. It seemed clichéd, just a trope that’s become a recognizably lazy storytelling insertion. But as Thunderhead progressed, Shusterman proved himself capable of handling a worn out trope and sparking new life into it.

So it grew on me and I no longer have much of a problem with it at all.

Recommendations

I recommend Thunderhead to readers of thought provoking, philosophical fiction, compelling narratives, and examinations of the human condition.

My rating: 5/5 stars
Goodreads rating: 4.54 stars


To keep up with future book reviews and read free original short fiction, hit that follow button, subscribe through email, or throw a like on the Word Nerd Scribbles Facebook page.

The Nope Book Tag

Word Nerd Scribbles tends to feature only books that I liked enough to review (unless it’s one that truly pissed me off), so I think it’ll be fun to, for once, look at some books that I really don’t recommend.

 

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Photo by Lum3n.com from Pexels

I shamelessly stole this post from Literary Weaponry because I was unlikely to ever get tagged and I wanted to play anyway. Word Nerd Scribbles tends to feature only books that I liked enough to review (unless it’s one that truly pissed me off), so I think it’ll be fun to, for once, look at some books that I really don’t recommend. The tag’s originator can be found here.


NOPE. ending:

A book ending that made you go NOPE either in denial, rage or simply because the ending was crappy.

Capture The Death Cure by James Dashner

SPOILERS. Three entire books building up to the worst cop out solution I’ve seen. The stakes are high: sacrifice the main character or the world burns. Wait, the main character doesn’t want to sacrifice himself? Okay, here’s a utopia where he and his friends can have sex and re-start the world (I guess), like Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden, except Eve (Teresa), the only girl, dies first. They’re fine. Everyone else is screwed.

 

NOPE. protagonist:

A main character you dislike and that drives you crazy.

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The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare

I first read this series in high school and it may have been my first true introduction to YA urban fantasy. I loved the world and the side characters, but I cannot stand the main character, Clary Fray. Compared to the rest of the cast, she’s boring and I was more inclined to skip to the chapters featuring Simon than read anything about her.

NOPE. series:

A series that turned out to be a huge pile of nope after you’ve invested all of that time and energy on it.

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Twilight by Stephanie Meyer

I made an actual genuine attempt to read Twilight for the sake of my little sister, who loves the series. We made a deal that for however many of the books I read, she would read one of my suggestions. I only got through the first book through sheer stubborn spite, because I found the pacing slow, the characters flat, and the events uninteresting. I will never finish the series.

NOPE. pairing:

A “ship” you don’t support.

 

I don’t ship 99% of the pairings I read. Next!

NOPE. plot twist:

A twist you didn’t see coming and didn’t like.

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Ruin and Rising 
by Leigh Bardugo

Leigh Bardugo pulled a seemingly small but gut-wrenching plot twist in the final installment of her Grisha Trilogy. I wasn’t ready. I had to go back and reread that section to make sure I understood it right. Then I had to text my friend to tell her how mad I was about it.

 

NOPE. genre:

A genre you will never read.

Romance. It’s fine, it’s fine that other people like it. No worries. But the romance is never, ever the reason why I come to a story.

NOPE. book format:

A book format you hate and avoid buying until it comes out in a different edition.

can read books in a digital format, but I don’t want to. Also, I’d rather not read/own the movie cover edition.

NOPE. trope:

A trope that makes you go NOPE.

Coming back to romance again: I can’t stand the trope of characters–whether longtime friends, longtime enemies, or just met–falling in love over the course of a handful of days. No one does that. Such a thing is infatuation at absolute best, but probably amounts to much deeper psychological problems.

I also despise when female characters make little to no discernible contribution to the plot and/or when the narrative contains no female characters. Looking right at you, J.R.R. Tolkein. Along the same lines, narratives that contain little to no diversity get an eye roll and a negative review from me.

NOPE. recommendation:

A book recommendation that is constantly pushed at you, that you simply refuse to read.

I’m resistant to most recommendations at first because, naturally, no one really knows my taste in books.

NOPE. cliché:

A cliché or writing pet peeve that always makes you roll your eyes.

When a character sighs. Really, narrator? You want to describe them sighing? You couldn’t come up with something more interesting? When characters are exasperated or disappointed, I will take literally any other possible description.

NOPE. love interest:

A love interest that’s not worthy of being one.
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Wuthering  Heights by Emily Bronte

Romanticized manipulative, abusive, gaslighting, outright jerks. The classic Byronic hero Heathcliff of Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights embodies my intense dislike of this love interest trope. NOPE.

NOPE. book:

A book that shouldn’t have existed.

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Bellman & Black by Diane Setterfield

The only thing this book has going for it is a lovely descriptive and syntactic style. I read the entire thing thinking surely prose this wonderful will amount to something in the end. But no. Nothing happened in this book.
Nothing happened in this book.

 

NOPE. villain:

A villain you would hate to cross.

Six of Crows Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

While Kaz Brekker functions as an anti-hero, not a villain, he’s certainly the stuff of nightmares for society in his world. Out of every true villain I’ve ever read, I’d much rather cross them than Dirtyhands.

NOPE. death:

A character death that still haunts you.

CaptureGregor and the Code of Claw by Suzanne Collins

love the Gregor the Overlander series by Suzanne Collins and Gregor and the Code of Claw, the final installment, has my heart forever. But there’s a character death in this particular book that kills me every time I read it. I haven’t reread it in a long time, because I just can’t face my favorite character dying all over again.

NOPE. author:

An author you had a bad experience reading and have decided to quit.

CaptureThe Lorien Legacies by Pittacus Lore

I used to be really into this series. The first book, I Am Number Four, was so good. But then the writers of the series–collectively under ‘Pittacus Lore’–started rolling out extras and short-stories and the series dragged out, so I dropped it because between releases, I was losing track of everything happening in that universe.

 

 

 


Well, that was cathartic. 10/10 I recommend you try this nope book tag yourself.

2018 Writing Goals Update

I don’t like setting the same goals or learning the same lessons.

Here it is, the second day of the new year, and I’m just now getting a goals post up. New Year’s resolutions about becoming a better person? Please. I’m definitely out to become a better writer, with the hope that the two will somehow equal out in the end. Here’s something of a 2017 recap to segway us into the 2018 future of your lovely scribbling word nerd.

In 2016, I began making a true effort at writing more. Well, writing at all, really. Funny how much getting to college graduation takes from you. At the end of the year, I tallied up my word count to find that I’d written roughly 75,000 words in total. Not too shabby. Like, three quarters of a slim novel’s worth of words. So I made this year’s goal to beat that word count. In an earlier post, I noted that I blew that goal out of the water 9 months in advance of my deadline. So since then, I’ve been keeping track of how much I wrote this year.

2017 Word Count

So… I didn’t get much farther beyond that goal, but 120k is nothing to sneeze at. The first 100k was 4/5ths of a novel. That extra 20k is made up of thirty (30) character descriptions and seven (7) individual short-stories, one of which received publication in Road Kill: Texas Horror by Texas Writers, Vol. 2–which I’ve written about extensively at this point–and another of which will be featured as an honorable mention in the 86th Annual Writer’s Digest Writing Competition Collection. (Don’t believe me? Go look for the title “Connections” with my name next to it. I’m super proud.) Two were for birthday presents, two are incomplete, and one was a total disaster and will never see the light of day. I don’t regret writing it, because experience points, but wow did it suck.

I can’t say at the moment that I’m too keen to try to beat 120k+ words for this new year. The point of the goal was to get myself writing, because in this craft, any amount of writing equals higher quality and greater skill. Just by setting and meeting that one goal, I expanded my knowledge and understanding of crafting fiction.

Okay, I probably could beat that word count in 2018 if I applied myself. But I don’t like setting the same goals or learning the same lessons. It’s those two incomplete short-stories, as well as the mostly but not quite finished novel, that keep snagging at the fine silk cloth of my accomplishments. I even have another half-done novel from 2016 that’s still awaiting my attention. Clearly there’s a trend here.

So the new goal is this: finish three manuscripts begun in 2017.

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My First Book Signing: Road Kill at Burrowing Owl Books

Here’s a thing to add to my future autobiography: I’ve signed books for people who bought them. 

Here’s a thing to add to my future autobiography: I’ve signed books for people who bought them.

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Summer Baker (left) and Keith West (right) at Burrowing Owl Books. Photo credit Russell Parker of photographybyrussell.com

I had my first book signing event for Road Kill: Texas Horror by Texas Writers Vol. 2 at Burrowing Owl Books in Canyon, TX, alongside Keith West, a fellow contributor who wrote “Cemetery Games.” It was just before Halloween, and, as you can see, I dressed the spooky part.

The wonder of such a thing hasn’t yet worn off. Keith said it best as he took his seat next to me: “Nice to finally be on this side of the table.”

Which was to say, on the signer side. How right he was. At the time, I was too nervous about how the event would go to really appreciate the reality that I was signing books, not just getting one signed. But looking back, I’m a little awed at past Summer. That was really me. There’s even photographic evidence to prove it wasn’t a dream.

The signing itself was two hours long and that first hour passed like a blur, with several of my friends and family turning out to snag a copy of the book for themselves. With a bit of gimmicky brilliance, both Dallas and I had the idea to bring candy (since Halloween was soon) and I brought colored sharpies in a spooky box for fans to select for our signatures. Those are probably the most psychedelic copies of Road Kill out there. Though I tried my absolute best, I still messed up on one signature as I tried to write out his nickname instead of his real name. We sold most of the box, all but ten books — far more than I expected for a first signing — and signed some stock for Dallas afterward.

Keith West is the first of the other anthology contributors I’ve met in person. He turned out to be courteous and willing to talk writing shop with me, which we did for the last part of the signing when things slowed down. We were both riding in the first-signing boat and I was impressed with his enthusiasm for the craft. You can visit his blog at Adventures Fantastic.

Burrowing Owl Books itself is a cozy bookstore on the square in Canyon, filled with a comfortable array of new and used books. Its shelves are close enough to be cozy, but its open floor plan and high ceilings ward off any sense of claustrophobia. Dallas Bell, the owner, was incredibly helpful and cheerful as she guided us both through our first signing. Overall, it’s one of my favorite places in Canyon to visit.

If you missed the signing, you can  still purchase a paperback copy of Road Kill on Amazon.com for $19.95.

I did a lot of research beforehand over what to expect at a book signing. The Tricked Out Toolbox was a huge help with preparation guidance and I would recommend taking a look at their tips for your own signing.