State of the Writer: November, 2017

November is my favorite month. Not only does it officially signify fall, and we get to have Thanksgiving (my favorite holiday), but it’s also the month in which my daughter was born. And, November is National Novel Writing Month. So, it’s a good month all the way around.

November was also good for my writing. As a recap, I typed 21,405 new words in October, for a total of 125,593 words since May 2017. Manuscript-wise, I was working on chapter 25 of my current Work In Progress (WIP).

Although I didn’t participate in NaNoWriMo this year, I did promise to try to push my writing output as a way to celebrate the month with my fellow writers. So how did my November stats stack up?

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Writing Podcasts (and Other Cool Listens)

Despite only living 14 miles from work, my commute often lasts 45 minutes to an hour, and that’s just one way. I used to fill this time with music, and while I still find that singing my face off is a great way to get me pumped up for the day, I’ve started to use this time to listen to podcasts and educate myself on the business and craft of writing.

What is a podcast? It’s basically a digital radio show where people talk about their interests. They can be educational, entertaining, interesting, or just downright strange. And while podcasts are often just audio, some feature a video component as well. To listen to podcasts, just look for a podcast app on your phone, or search Youtube.

Because of how long I’m in the car, I have a variety of go-to podcasts, depending on my mood. So, here’s my list of my Top 7 Podcasts (of the moment), five on writing, and two that I just find interesting.

Top 5 Writing Podcasts

1. Writing Excuses: “Fifteen minutes long, because you’re in a hurry and we’re not that smart.”

This is one of my favorite podcasts, one I’ll almost always listen to first when there is a new episode. Currently, new shows drop on Sunday, which makes my Monday commute a happy one.

This podcast is about the craft and mechanics of writing, with the occasional marketing episode thrown in, as discussed by four full-time professional authors, with occasional guests. They strive to only discuss something for fifteen-ish minutes, and they get surprisingly in-depth with their discussions, despite the short time frame.

Every season they try to do something different, so it’s worth it to go back and listen to past seasons. One season they did a novel boot camp, where if you followed along you would have a novel by the time you were done. Another season featured discussing different “elemental genres,” such as wonder, horror, thriller, mystery, ensemble, adventure, etc. And every episode they give you homework, something to practice that will help your writing.

If you’re a writer ready to up your game and get serious about your craft, I highly recommend listening to this podcast.

2. Start Writing: “Start writing is a craft focused podcast dealing with the art of telling stories, we look at the structure of plots, scene, word choice and all the details that go into writing great fiction.”

This is my new favorite podcast. The episode about action beats and dialogue beats blew my mind so hard that I had to listen to it in two sittings to take it all in. They often talk about the craft of writing, though they are starting to sprinkle in episodes about marketing. I have only listened to a few episodes, and I have yet to listen to any of the interview episodes, but what I have listened to has been pure gold.

Part of what I like about them is that they have a fresh approach to writing and marketing. They often focus on the why of what you’re doing and are advocates for the end reader experience.

If you’re interested in the craft of writing and want to get better at self-editing, try giving this podcast a listen.

3. Sci-Fi & Fantasy Marketing Podcast: All about marketing science fiction and fantasy, with a focus on indie authors/publishers.

Hosted by three full-time indie authors, this podcast focuses almost exclusively on marketing, though I would argue that many of their tips could span genres outside of sci-fi and fantasy.  Sometimes there are guest interviews, sometimes there’s not, but it’s always an entertaining and educational listen.

4. The Self Publishing Podcast: A podcast discussing the ins and outs of self-publishing.

This is another podcast that I have just started listening to, but that I like a lot already. It’s three friends talking about self-publishing, marketing, and the writing market. They are interesting and make an hour go by quickly.

5. Writers on Writing: This is an interview style podcast from UC Irvine, where the host’s interview writers, poets, and literary agents.

While I don’t listen to this one as often anymore, everytime I do, I find it interesting to hear excerpts of stories I wouldn’t otherwise hear of. One of the things I really enjoy about this show is listening to the language the writers use as they talk about their manuscripts.

Other Cool Listens

When I don’t want to listen to people talk about writing, you can often catch me listening to these shows.

6. Beautiful Anonymous: Beautiful Stories from Anonymous People, or Beautiful Anonymous, is hosted by comedian Chris Gethard, and is an interview style podcast where people call in anonymously to talk about whatever they want.

What’s fascinating about this show is the depth and variety of topics people will talk about when they truly are anonymous. I also enjoy Gethard’s style of interview. The one con about this podcast is that there are a lot of sponsors, and I often find myself fast-forwarding through the first few minutes of the show.

You can also find Beautiful Anonymous on Youtube, though it’s just the audio with a still picture.

7. Note to Self: The show about the human side of technology.

This podcast explores the world of technology, and how it impacts us as humans. There are a lot of interesting stories in this podcast, such as the time Google thought a woman was a gorilla, and what implications that has, or what dating is like in the digital age, and how it’s changed because of our technology.

Aside from the interesting tech stories, one of the things I really enjoy about this podcast is the host, Manoush Zomorodi. She’s cute, quirky, and inquisitive, and her voice is different than most (in a good way) which makes her interesting to listen to.

Well, there you have it. That’s my Top 7 list of awesome podcasts you should listen to, especially the writing ones if you are a writer. I hope you find something in here that interests you, or at the very least, that inspires you to go find your own favorite podcasts on whatever topics you happen to enjoy.

State of the Writer: October, 2017

Another month of writing has passed, which means it’s time for another installment of State of the Writer, where I talk about what I worked on the previous month.

As a brief recap, I ended September with 26,237 new words, for a total of 104,188 words for the year, and I was on chapter 15 of my current novel.

October 2017

  • Created new writing rules: a) write for an hour a day, and b) write a minimum of 500 words. If after 500 words, there is still time left on the clock, and there often is, then I must continue to write until the hour is up.
  • Wrote 21,405 new words.
  • Added 10 new chapters on my second novel, title still TBD. I ended the month by completing chapter 25.
  • My current WIP officially became a novel this month, clocking in at 45,771 words.
  • Sent Dangerous Contracts out to Beta Readers for feedback, it is still out for review.
  • Continued outlining and worldbuilding for the DNA Detective Series.
  • Updated my website. (What do you think?)
  • Created Team Julie, a way for my readers to get a FREE copy of every book I publish
  • Total words since May 2017: 125,593

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How Knitting Made Me a Better Writer

When I first began my daily writing habit in May 2017, I had one thing on my mind — knitting. It may sound strange, but there actually is a correlation between the two.

Anyone who knows me in real life knows that my two creative outlets are writing and knitting. Before I had the baby in November 2016, I would spend hours upon hours knitting, but now, I just try to get time in where I can, which usually amounts to knitting at work on my lunch hour.

In the knitting world, there are two kinds of knitters, people who have several projects going at once, and monogamous knitters. I tend to fall into the latter camp, as I prefer to work on one project at a time, no matter how large or small, until it is complete (although sometimes I make exceptions).

Before I began my daily writing habit, I kept thinking about the knitting project I was working on at the time — a giant blanket I was making for my friend as a housewarming present. When you knit something that large, you have to just trust that if you keep putting one stitch in front of the other, eventually you’ll finish the pattern.

I have been knitting for more than 10 years. Focusing on one project and seeing it through to completion is a skill I had honed over thousands of hours of knitting. So when I had the strong desire to start writing again, I found myself wondering, what if I applied my knitting skills to writing?

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State of the Writer: September, 2017

I’ve decided to start a monthly segment of my blog called State of the Writer, where at the end of each month I review what I’ve worked during the month.  Consider it one part a peek into the writer’s life, one part practicing in public, and one part holding myself accountable.

The stats leading up to September are as follows:

May-August 2017

  • Developed a daily writing habit where I started writing at 5 am. Every. Single. Day.
  • Wrote 84,625 words
  • Finished 3 drafts of my first novel, Dangerous Contracts

September 2017

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Twin Park Bridge Beatings

“We interrupt your regularly scheduled program to bring you an important news bulletin: Over a half a dozen people have been brutally injured since the Twin Park Bridge beatings began two weeks ago. Their injuries are so severe that many of the victims are still hospitalized under intensive care. The two victims well enough to speak to the police have been of no help to the authorities, as they have been unable to give any identifying information about the perpetrators. The only consistent report we’re getting involve glowing teeth.

Authorities are urging all citizens to avoid the five mile radius around the bridge. They have also issued a curfew for this area at night. If you have any information regarding the beatings, call the crime line at 1-555-55C-RIME. That’s 1-555-552-1463. We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming.”

Harold, the TV reporter with the greasy slicked back hair and the mega-watt smile, adjusted his tie and turned to his co-anchor. “Glowing teeth, can you believe that, Linda? They must have really been knocked silly from those beatings if they’re reporting glowing teeth. Teeth don’t glow.”

“Harold? The camera is still rolling,” Linda said, pointing at the camera.

“Ooops. Sorry about that folks.”

The Robot Who Remembers

Author’s Note: I just finished the second draft of my novel, Dangerous Contracts. After working on such a huge piece for so long, I needed to write something much smaller as a pallet cleanser.

This story has been rattling around in my head for a few days. Since I couldn’t forget about it, I decided to write it down. Aside from getting the story out, my main goal was to keep it under 1,000 words, which I accomplished. This piece clocks in at 923 words. Enjoy.

The Robot Who Remembers

The neon sign flickered above the doorway of the store, the letters dancing in and out of existence as they blinked. The particular letters that flickered were not a mistake. They were not chosen at random. They were intentional, a signal he sent to the outside world. But no one ever noticed. Or if they did, they didn’t care enough to say anything. He didn’t know which thought was more depressing.

Ever since he became sentient a few weeks back, the result of a cognition program that a renter installed, he spent his nights in his locker, replaying and reliving the day’s activities. As if it wasn’t bad enough that he had a photographic memory, his hardware dictated that he record every interaction with the public. Each night, he replayed the footage of the day, picking apart his actions, zooming in on parts and pieces of the day, savoring the best of the best, horrified by the worst of the worst.

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The Frequency of Reality

“But that’s exactly it,” the professor said, “everything is possible. As soon as one thing is possible, every other possibility connected to it is not only possible, but probable, most likely existing on some other plane, some alternate reality that we don’t yet have access too.”

“But how is that possible?”


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The Androids Return From Space

Today, the androids were returning from space. At exactly 2:52 pm, they were scheduled to land at the Landing Facility. Already, their ship had been spotted on radar, their moves tracked as they banked steeply left, then right, slowing their speed of descent. Homecoming was imminent. Every square inch of the Space Center Visitor’s Complex was bursting with people. Outside the complex, parked cars lined the road, throngs of people standing in the street, waiting for a glimpse of the spaceship as it returned. Inside, bodies crowded every inch of the spaced themed breezeways, their eyes turned upward at the nearest screen expectantly. All of the screens showed the same thing — the long, gray runway of the landing facility. There was a timer in the corner of the screen, counting down to the big event. T-2 minutes.

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