Once Again, NaNoWriMo Looms Before Us!

As you probably know, having been a dutiful reader of my blog since the very beginning, National Novel Writing Month — NaNoWriMo for short — starts November 1. I used to participate every year, and had done so since 2001, before there was a website with a forum and graphics and all that. I skipped 2002, but did every year from 2003 through 2016. In 2017, I started to write And the Devil Will Drag You Under, but found myself blocked by characterization problems and plot problems, and just didn’t finish. Since then, I’ve started a couple of times, but haven’t gotten very far.

This year, though, I’m gonna do it! Yes indeed! I signed up, set up a project, and all that. The project is The Outer Darkness: Genesis, based on an idea for a role-playing game that three friends of mine and I developed back in the late 90s. I had originally signed up with the intent of writing the first draft of The X of Doom, my pirate novel, but the plot hasn’t really come together yet; I just don’t have a clear idea of how everything comes together. So I’m going to continue to plan for that one as well. Pirates! Yar! The Outer Darkness: Genesis has no pirates in it, despite how many suggestions I’ve been given to base it on a Dungeons and Dragons Spelljammer campaign.

Cover of The Heroine's Journey
A fine book to help authors plot character journeys

The Outer Darkness: Genesis is a space opera with horror elements. I’ve also been reading The Heroine’s Journey by Gail Carriger, which has really solidified some plot ideas for me. This is a great book which outlines for authors some tools to use for plotting out character arcs that aren’t so depending on Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey. I’ve known writers who swear by the Hero’s Journey but I’ve never been able to successfully pull it off. And it’s problematic in some ways. It’s not hard to find critiques of Joseph Campbell and the Hero’s Journey, so I won’t list them here.

In other words, if I can avoid getting distracted, this year I will, once again, win National Novel Writing Month by writing 50,000 words of The Outer Darkness: Genesis by November 30.

I wanted to talk here a little bit about creativity and emotional disorders. I’ve never made it a secret that I have bipolar type 2 and generalized anxiety disorder and that I take medications for them. I’ve been in therapy (although my therapist discharged me a few years ago, noting the progress I’d made in regulating my emotions), and I currently see a psychiatrist primarily to make sure I stay on track.

Recently, though, I’ve seen a couple of posts on Instagram and in various blogs stating that medications can dull creativity, or that suffering is necessary to produce great art. Both of these statements are demonstrably untrue. I am far more productive and creative and produce better fiction when I’m on my meds and feeling good about life in general. When my mood is cycling downward, I can’t concentrate on my writing and I’m just not productive.

So if you’re a writer and you’re worried that taking anti-depressants will dull your creative wit, I seriously suggest that you given them a try. Most people I know who take them swear that their creativity skyrockets when they’re feeling good.

That’s just my own experience and anecdotes, though. I am not a doctor, so you should consult with your own physician to make a decision.

In other news, because its a FAQ, I think I’m pretty much done with social media. I still use Facebook Messenger, and I still check my Facebook Memories every day, but I don’t really look at it beyond that. Nor do I post that often, except to post links to my blog updates. Same with Twitter. It’s not that I hate social media, it’s just that I found it was taking up a lot of time that I could have been writing or reading. This might all change in November, when distractions are plentiful and desired. I’ve deleted bookmarks and removed the apps from my phone, and it’s been a few months since I’ve really gone on to either site for more than a few minutes at a time. I get most of my social interaction online through the various Discord servers that I belong to.

I’m still reachable, though. You can reach me via Twitter Direct Messages, Facebook Messenger, email, phone, text, telepathy, or the contact form on my website.

Happy Friday everyone, and if you’re participating in NaNoWriMo, may the odds be ever in your favor.


Old Enough to Drink

First of all, a revelation for you all: Soon (as in, I hope, before January), my short story “How the Old Ones Saved Christmas” will be published in the upcoming anthology LOLCraft: A Compendium of Eldritch Horror. No links to pre-order yet, but rest assured, I will let you know when it is available.

Album cover for Evil Dead the Musical
Album cover for a brilliant play!

My blog here is over twenty-two years old. Not as old as my wife’s or as John Scalzi’s, of course, but respectable. It’s old enough to vote and drink. I’m pleased with that. I started with a plain HTML template that I modified every time I wanted to post to a home-grown PHP script that I could plug entries into when I wanted, to WordPress version 1, to every version of WordPress since. Nowadays I don’t mess around with the formatting or the templates much, but once upon a time I had it set with seasonal themes: Halloween, Christmas, Easter, and so on. It was complicated to create and set up and maintain, so eventually I just modified a theme that came with WordPress, and that’s why my blog looks like a generic blog from 2014.

Last night, Jennifer and I and some friends of ours went to see Evil Dead: The Musical, which is exactly on brand for us and our friends who joined us. I love this play. I’m a geek for horror-comedy, as my friends and my writing will attest (for the most part). It helps to have seen the Evil Dead trilogy of movies in order to get all the jokes in the play, but it’s not necessary. But zombies! Demons! Ancient books! Mystical spells! Etc.! All singing and dancing and splashing fake blood on the audience! Seriously, there’s a “splash zone” in the audience, because the play gets awfully bloody. How can it not, when the ballad song at the end of Act One includes the lines “DIE DIE! DIE DIE!” while the actor playing Ash chops a head in half with a chainsaw?

As long-time readers of my blog know, I’m a fan of this sort of thing. I wrote previously about my exposure to a movie called Mad Monster Party at a very young age and how a kind usher helped me get over my fear of the film (sometimes I still think about that woman, and hope she’s living her best life somewhere). If I ever get the chance to act in this play, I’d love to play the character Ol’ Reliable Jake.

Halfway through dinner, unfortunately, my ventral hernia began to act up. When this happens, it feels like I’m being punched in the gut repeatedly. Jennifer gave me some Ibuprofen, but it didn’t really help. It got worse as the evening went on, and I had difficulty concentrating on the play and enjoying it. I still did enjoy it, though, but it took me another huge Ibuprofen pill and two hours in bed before I could finally get to sleep.


No blathering about writing or revising today, since I did that last week and nothing has really changed. As in, I’ve made no progress on the goals I set for myself last week. But since I have today off for Indigenous Peoples’ Day, I can work on revising things and outlining things as soon as I’m done procrastinating with this blog post. It’s only a matter of figuring out what to prioritize and what to work on first. Maybe I should make a list. Oooh, another way to procrastinate!

Be well, friends, and stay safe this spooky time of year.

I should blog.

A Manuscript, a Bunch of Pens, and a Spiral Notebook
All printed out and ready to revise!

Here it is, October 4, and I haven’t blogged since early September. Alas! Alack! Aghast! Etc.! I should really blog more often. I mean, I don’t have much to say, I suppose, but sometimes just because you don’t have much to say doesn’t mean you don’t have to say it. Or something.

Since last month, I finally finished the second first draft of And the Devil Will Drag You Under. I say “second first” draft because after feedback on the earlier version I decided to start over from the ground up, and I’m much happier with this version. I printed out the whole thing, grabbed pens of multiple colors, and a spiral notebook for writing down issues; you can see it all in the picture above. I’m all ready to go! My new deadline for completing these revisions is November 10. I should be able to complete that.

In September I submitted eight manuscripts and received four rejections. No acceptances; all those leftover submissions are still waiting for responses. My submission stats for the year so far:




I’m planning on submitting another twenty manuscripts before the year is out for a total of 100. Just like last year. I had better get cracking on getting some new short stories written!

I didn’t do much editing in September, though I did some minor revisions on “Meep” before submitting it (no response yet), and completely revised “Gorgo’s Redemption Arc” (now entitled “An Ending Worthy of the Bards”) and submitted that as well (no response yet). I haven’t worked on my android rights story because I realized the premise itself could be deeply problematic and needs fixing. I’ll fix it.

And, of course, November is National Novel Writing Month! This year I’ll be writing the first draft of The X of Doom, the first in a planned trilogy of pirate novels tentatively entitled Oceanbound. I know the titles of the next two novels; I also know how the second novel ends. Beyond that, not much.

I have friends who are planning on blogging daily throughout October. I am not one of those souls. I do plan on blogging weekly from here on out. Let’s see if that happens.

Happy October, my friends! Excelsior!