About J.M.Cowan

Posts by J.M.Cowan:

So the battery is going out on my phone

It currently only lasts about five minutes unplugged. I’ve had this phone for about three years, I think? An iPhone 5c. It was free with my contract renewal, and it’s been getting slower anyway, so I thought I’d go and see about a new one.

Went to Verizon, and my options, as told to me by the guy behind the counter, are to pay full price outright for a phone (lolno), or pay monthly payments until it’s payed for (it’d take two years to pay for the damn thing). So I said, “You don’t do contract renewal pricing anymore?”

And he said they did but my bill would go up by twenty dollars a month.

So I said that was the most ridiculous thing I’d ever heard of, who would pay more to be trapped in a contract for two years? And he said it was to keep the non-contracted customers.

But…you don’t want to keep the ones who are willing to be contracted? Like, I could *switch* phone companies right now and get a cheaper phone? Big business logic?!??!!? (Also, they wanted to charge me fifty dollars more for the phone than Apple would have if I bought it outright?!)

I know, I know. “Stop wasting time whining about phones and finish the dang book already.”

I am about halfway done with the revision, though. I…severely doubt I will be able to finish before the new year, unless my muse lights a serious fire under my @$$. I was looking at Ch12 today, and Extremely Large chunks of it will have to be rewritten from scratch now–I will never, ever write another book without figuring out all the worldbuilding details first again–I have basically halted work on my side project (tentatively titled ‘Golden Wolf’) for just that reason. (It’s an asexual romance with wolves who can turn into people, not werewolves, set in small town Texas. I’m planning to do a research trip for it for my birthday, to Boerne, which is tentatively the setting. Haven’t decided whether it will be set in the real town or a fictional version.)

I also figured out the emotional arc for the sp/ace romance. I had been stumped for a conflict, and stupidly ignored that it was right there in the first scene that I live-tweeted last year, because I thought it was going to be a much different story than the one it is supposed to be. Oops. Oh well, I still have a deal of research to do for it anyway. I thought of writing it for NaNoWriMo this year, but I think I’ll actually just work on AFWT instead, see if I can’t finish it before the end of the year. And on that note, I’ll go work on Ch12, but only for an hour, because I have a ton of stuff to do tomorrow, chief of which is going to get the battery replaced on my phone because *makes rude gesture at Verizon*

Reading Roundup!

I had been having trouble getting into new books for a couple of years now. It’s partly the depression/anxiety/ADD thing, and partly a lack of time when I’m working on a project that got as big as my current WIP.

But recently, I started reading as voraciously as I used to as a kid again. I think it’s the sheer convenience of reading on my phone that’s done it. I do not own an e-reader, and I can’t see myself buying one, ever, but the ability to hold an entire library in my back pocket has done wonders for my reading habit. The small screen size and adjustable fonts help negate my tendency to zone out in the middle of a page of text, and being able to change to a black background with white text is so much easier on my eyes for some reason. Plus, it’s my phone, which I keep in my pocket, which makes it easy to pick up around the house and while waiting in line at the bank and other such quiet moments that arise.

I may also have developed a terrible, ADD tendency to switch between writing, reading and Twitter every five minutes. In case you were wondering why it’s taking me so much longer to get these chapter revisions done.* -_-;

My recent binge started with a special price on the ebook for Gail Carriger’s Prudence, which I had been curious about. I liked Soulless, but my interest in the series sort of tapered out after the third book because I was on a Serious Stories kick then, and these books are basically All Fluff All The Time even when she’s trying to be sort of serious, but now I am on a huge Fluff Kick because reasons. (Although I generally consume my Fluff in comics format because I still prefer texty type stories to be dense and long and involved.) Anyway, Prudence was a solid three-star read for me, and I’m just waiting for the price of the sequel to go down so I can read it. I really need to finish the Finishing School series too. The first book was decently entertaining.

Then while I was browsing the ebook recommendations from Amazon, I ran across a title that seemed familiar, and ended up binging on the first three books in Lynn Flewelling’s Nightrunner series, which were recommended to me by my best friend ages ago and which I promptly forgot about because my brain is like a sieve. I actually had to force myself to stop reading them at book three because I was not getting any work done on my own book. Also because the ability to immediately buy the next book in a series is a dangerous thing for my credit card balance.

I might as well have finished the series, though, because I still ended up buying a bunch more books. The ones that I liked the best were the Cadeleonian series by Ginn Hale, Lord of the White Hell and Champion of the Scarlet Wolf. These are just good books, wonderful character interaction and enthralling worldbuilding and plotting. I particularly liked the magic in the Scarlet Wolf books.

I’ve read about half a dozen other books, but nothing I cared for enough to write about. I’m going to start trying to tweet more about what I’m reading over on my Official Author Twitter, since I don’t have much else to say on it. I forget it’s there most of the time, oops. ;p

*actually that’s because I keep having to go back and forth between chapters and reread everything eight billion times and make hard decisions about plot and character relationships and this book is already at 80K words and I’m ONLY ON CHAPTER EIGHT gods damn it why do I do this to myself

Revisions Hell: One Month In

Anyone who has ever heard me talk about writing has heard me say this but in case you missed it: I hate revising.

That said, I think I’m doing okay this time? I am exhausted and frustrated and I keep finding really stupid mistakes and I can’t make up my mind about certain details, but…I like the shape the story is taking? Though good freaking lord, will I be so happy when I finally get to the midpoint in the book where I had everything mostly figured out and only need to correct minor continuity changes and typos.

And add Feelings.

That part is probably not going to get easier.

I’m moving along at a decent clip, if not a great one–about one chapter per week. There was a lot of overtime at my job in May, which puts me blessedly ahead financially *knocks on wood* but kind of killed me creatively. I am still recovering from the exhaustion. I know this because I started another side story idea, and have written almost two chapters of it. -_-; That’s bad because it’s literally all spoilers for some important backstory and therefore not something anyone, even my beta reader, can read for a long damn time. I have managed to persuade myself it is okay to spend time on this because it’s bonus material for a future Patreon or whatever thing. Really I should be finishing the first chapter of the second/third book (still haven’t made up my mind on this point) if I’m going to be writing new material, but eh.

Anyway! My agenda today:

1: Clean my frickin house. After spending several weeks in thrall to borderline depressive anxiety episode, my home is a disaster. I hit a wall Monday, hard. Got home from work and spent nearly the entire day in bed because I just could not make myself get up. I felt marginally better Tuesday, but still too tired. But today, I really need to straighten things up.

2: Do that massive reread of the rough draft I’ve been putting off. It started because of the overtime thing, but then it was just because I landed head first in the revising of the first few chapters, and that was involved let me tell you, what with all the new scenes and trying to figure out how to describe the magic stuff more accurately and changing my mind about every tiny detail because who are you talking to? Me, duh.

3: Kidding, I’m not going to have time for anything else, did I tell you how long this book is? It’s frickin long. I had to do a reread of the first four chapters before sending Ch4 to my dear beta reader which took a good two hours. Four chapters. Two hours. I am too long winded. I have accepted this about myself.

Hopefully everyone else will too.

It’s a rough draft!

I have finished the rough draft of my third novel! I am extremely tired now, because this baby clocks in at nearly 265 thousand words! I started this particular book in 2013, as a self-indulgent fantasy romance idea while I was struggling with my previous project, the sadly neglected Firecat. I wrote about ten thousand words before leaving off, but last summer, I was looking though the random files back up to my phone and found it, and thought, “hey, this ain’t half bad, why’d I stop?” And then started writing again.

I have never written so intensely in my life. I used to write at a pace of about 300-500 words a day, and not every day, or even particularly regularly. That was mostly due to problems with anxiety and depression, which made it hard to focus and harder to like anything I produced. But I’ve gotten better about this stuff in the last year, and I guess that lit a spark, because my daily average word count is much closer to 900 words a day, and lately I’m having days where I break 1,500 (on a work day!), or up in the 2-3 thousand on my days off.

Anyway, the book is done, and it is a BEAST. I intended this book originally as a one-shot romance thing, to see if I could write one. It’s not a genre that gets a lot of play from me, since I never really felt it much? But realizing my instinctive rejection of the trappings of romance were a direct result of being almost entirely asexual/aromantic and unable to express this fact for the first 28 years of my life because the vocabulary just wasn’t there really opened me up to the enjoyment of a really good ship, which is…weird, when I stop to think about it sometimes, but whatever?


So that was the original intention, anyway. Somehow along the way it turned into an epic fantasy in an mid-industrial magic setting? I got really into the setting and the magic and the worldbuilding, and it just sort of happened that way, and the one-shot idea just kept getting longer because I can never seem to be able to gauge exactly how long it’s going to take me to get from point A to point B when I’m writing, and now it’s going to be a trilogy, or possibly a quartet (is that the right word? I have no idea what the term for a four-book series is) because at this point I am seriously considering chopping the first book in half. I won’t know for sure until I’ve done a full read through and fixed the first half (needs a lot of worldbuilding and magic system detailing added) and fixing up the side plot, which I didn’t think up until almost two thirds through the book because I did the thing I always do and got WAY too attached to one of the side characters and had to expand the scope of his story in the book. *BIG sigh*

I love to make things hard on myself, don’t I. But I’m much more satisfied with this idea than the original one. Mostly because it is chock full of my own preferences: Multiple asexual/aromantic relationships! Magical bonding practices! Characters being snarky at each other but also Talking about their Feelings a lot! Epic levels of angst! A protagonist who is going to get called a Mary Sue by SO MANY PEOPLE–I can’t wait. There also ended up being a bunch of kids in this book and I am just as surprised as you are by this fact? Like, I guess I ought to have expected that when I made the setting a school?

*epic shrug*

Okay, so my goal is to be done revising the first book by the end of summer! Maybe sooner if I do end up making it into two books? Regardless, I’m hoping to release the first book early next year. There is a website! There is…nothing there yet! But it exists!

I am crossing my fingers really hard because historically, my record of revising things is 0/2. But I have a really good feeling about this one!

Notes on my other projects! I am planning to start writing the sp/ace romance soon too. I don’t know if I’ll be able to work on both projects at once, and my current project will have to take priority, but I want to try. Comics…are on the back burner for now. We are getting into the busy time of year at work and I just don’t have the energy for art things right now. At some point I am going to seriously consider tightening my belt and getting a part time job so I’ll have time to be more creative, now that I’m not a hyper-nervous, depressed wreck of a human being. I still need to save more money before I can consider that though. Fortunately a side effect of spending all my time writing is that I have no time to go out and spend money anymore, so…soon? ha ha…

Took a writing break

Wednesday because I just got off a three day long depressive anxiety episode thing. Could not concentrate on anything to save my life. I was not allowed to write anything before work. I cleaned my kitchen instead, and it felt good, because it really, really needed it.

It was a quiet day at work, surprising for a Wednesday–usually that’s the day everyone is grumpy, or running around like the proverbial headless chicken. I broke my break to jot down a few lines between customers, and ended up thinking about the meeting story of two characters who are only referenced in the book, one of whom is already dead before the story starts (not a spoiler, the main character finds this out very early in the first chapter) and the other of whom does not show up in person until the third book.

And now I have to write this story. -_-; (Eventually. Not now. Even if I wrote it now, I wouldn’t be able to release it any time soon because it wouldn’t make much sense outside the context of the novels.)

BUT…I, uh…may have already jotted down some sections of dialogue? And made up some cultural details to work into the story, since it takes place mostly in a different country than the book…and decided some backstory stuff for both the characters that I hadn’t bothered to think up yet? Oops.

*bangs head against keyboard*

How did what was supposed to be a one-off story idea turn into this giant, epic thing with half a dozen spin off stories? No, don’t answer that, I suspect it has something to do with the fact that I can’t help overthinking everything.

Reading Roundup

So my brain got eaten by my own book, which has prevented me from reading very much of other people’s books lately, so this is not a big list!

Radiance by Catherynne M. Valente
As brilliant as expected, but too sad. I couldn’t really enjoy the awesome, colorful worldbuilding and non-linear storytelling (I super love stories with a ton of backstory that comes out over the course of the book!) because I was too sad about the actual story. *sigh*

Empty Graves by Unpretty
I have never been much of a Superman fan. My whole experience has been the cartoon that came on TV when I was a teenager and the old movies. I saw both of the the new ones that came out recently and they sucked. I’ll probably watch BvS when it comes out on DVD but I suspect I won’t like it either. However, this is a great fic (even if I didn’t get all the villain references) about Martha Kent being a badass mama bear.
Also recommended: Magical Girl Avengers vs. The Moon Nazis which made me laugh.

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
A reread. Holds up fairly well, except it’s a bit less inspirational when you’re a grownup who lacks the ability to get interested in things because chronic depressive issues and anxiety, which…are not things you just decide not to be one day because you were inspired by something. BUT I loved this book when I was a kid, and it was very nostalgic to reread.

The Girl Who Raced Fairyland by Catherynne M. Valente
I haven’t finished this yet because it’s the last in the series and I’m afraid it’s going to destroy my heart for several days and I do not have time for that right now. I need to finish my own book first.

At some point…

…during a particularly tiring day, you just have to accept that you are not going to be able to get anything done and take a little break from being creative. So I guess I’ll be spending the rest of my night straightening up my room. My desk…is a terrible mess.

messy desk covered with laundry that needs to be put away, books, papers, art supplies, junk food...

Yeah, I’m a slob. Sorry.

It’s because I’ve been crunching my current WIP, tentatively titled A Flower With Thorns, an industrial magic epic fantasy novel that is topping out at nearly 250k words so far. More than twice the number I was expecting…that’s what happens when your one-off fantasy romance idea absorbs the plot of your old epic fantasy series that you never did finish…oops.

So, that’s about a chapter and a half from being done? In the rough draft at least. I still have to go back and add side plot/character sections to the first half of the book, and fix the vague worldbuilding and magic system stuff.

Other stuff on my To Do List:

Think up a name for the indie publishing company that I’m going to self pub this thing under. I’m debating on whether to reuse my old creative business name (Cyborg Butterfly, for which I already own the domain) or think up a new one.

Do my taxes. It’s April, I’M RUNNING OUT OF TIME. *panicked flailing*

Do some frickin art. I wanted to practice drawing more this year, and even started a comic project, which was stalled out by a fierce lump of anxiety/depression in Jan-Feb, and by the time I got out from under that, my brain had been completely devoured by the changes to the novel.

Compose a rough outline for the asexual cooking romance. I have accumulated several recipes, but the male lead needs a name, and I need to do some research about life in a space-faring society. It’s set in the Space Tangerines timeline, so the worldbuilding isn’t a problem, just the sciencey details, which matter a bit more when it’s a text story instead of a comic.

P.S. I did not clean off my desk…I took too long writing this blog post…

So apparently I’m gonna have to write an asexual cooking romance?

I had plans for today, like cleaning out my closet and finishing Ch12 of my current wip, but then SOMEONE tweeted this:

The tweet she tweeted:

And then I wrote the first page of an asexual cooking romance on Twitter. The fact that I was binge-listening to 80’s rock ballads on Youtube all morning should probably shoulder half the blame. which makes it my fault, obviously

At least it will be a short book? I suspect a subject this close to my heart will make it go fast too.