Fun With Titles

I finished the proposal (three sample chapters) for my new young adult novel. Then I didn’t have a title. It’s usually best to have a title when you send off a book proposal; otherwise you’re calling it Untitled Book That I Hope You’ll Buy. So I went to my favorite source for book title ideas:

I came up with BUMMER OF A HERO, but it turns out that “bummer,” one of my favorite words, also means “the unpleasant aftermath of taking narcotic drugs.” Since this is a goofy comedy for kids, I thought it might be best to avoid the confusion.

Then I came up with SUPERHERO LITE, and I thought “Eureka!” and changed the name of the file and the folder from THE BUBBLER (I assure you, the book was never going to be called THE BUBBLER). Minutes later, my wife suggested SEMI-HERO, which will stop people from hearing the title and thinking it’s about a magical superhero light, so I’m going with that.

Next I need to change the name of my novel-in-progress THE ODYSSEY OF HARRIET, because it kind of sounds like OZZIE & HARRIET. This book is not like OZZIE & HARRIET.

Update On Writing Stuff And A New Blog

So earlier this month I quit my day job and became a full-time writer.

The first thing I did was write three sample chapters of a romantic comedy called A Playful TuneI sent them off to an editor, and proceeded to spend the next couple of weeks NOT writing anything, because I was a) at conventions, b) driving to and from conventions, and c) really frickin’ exhausted from conventions.

Yesterday, I got back into it. I wrote most of a short story (“Pointy Canes”) for a Christmas horror anthology. It’s pretty demented.

Now my out of town trips are done for a while. Lots of words will be written. And…maybe you want to hear about it.

I don’t want to turn this blog into daily word count updates. Oh, I’ll still babble about works in progress and share all of the important updates, but most readers aren’t that interested in knowing that I wrote 3000 words of a novel on Monday, and another 3000 on Tuesday, and another 3000 on Wednesday, etc.

So, I’ve created a blog on Tumblr specifically for sharing my daily progress. If you’re into that kind of thing, check it out.

Interview With Jason Voorheesberg

My Scares That Care recap will be up soon(ish), but in the meantime, here’s a frightening interview I did while I was there with a machete-wielding serial killer.

Back From Necon…

…and immediately packing to drive up to Virginia for Scares That Care. I almost didn’t go to Scares That Care because of the proximity to Necon (I prefer to space out my big awesome fun amazing events) but couldn’t resist.

Necon was, as usual, gobs and gobs and gobs of fun. I co-hosted the Infamous Necon Roast with Nick Kaufmann. Because of the appalling things that are said at this event, we have a “Please don’t post this and end everybody’s career” policy, but I think it’s safe enough to share this photo (courtesy of Tony Tremblay) of Nick and I gazing into a crystal ball to find this year’s victim. It turned out to be poor Sephera Giron, who will never recover.


A more thorough recap is coming soon, though by “soon” I may mean “in a week or so.”

Day One

Well, yesterday was officially my first day as a Full-Time Writer. (Friday was my last day at work, but I didn’t count the weekend, because that would be silly.)

WRITING QUOTA: 3000 words.

AMOUNT WRITTEN: 3000 words.

So, based on this random sampling of one day, I’m right on track, and I don’t have to start thinking about slinking back to a day job quite yet.

Of course, I’m about to be thrown off any kind of daily routine, since this week it’s time for Necon!!!!! And next week it’s time for Scares That Care!!!!! Clearly, everybody reading this will be at both of them, so I’ll see you there!

How To Fail At Social Media

1. Go to Subway for lunch.

2. See that they have a kids’ meal tie-in with Inside Out. Think it’s funny that a movie with characters based on Disgust, Fear, and Sadness would be used to help promote food.

3. Post this observation on Facebook and Twitter.

4. Get fewer Facebook likes than you think the post deserves.

5. Receive a confusing Twitter response about how the FBI is saying it’s one of Jared’s employees, not Jared himself.

6. Think “Huh?”

7. Acquire more information.


9. Delete.

Fun With Organization!

I now have way more time to write, but it’s easy to squander all of this extra time by saying, “Hey, I think I’ll run for president of a writers’ organization!” or “I think I’ll edit an anthology!” (TRIVIA: Two things I will never do again are run for office in a writers’ organization or edit an anthology. To those who do, I salute your insanity.)

I’m often asked about my writing schedule, and I always have to admit that there is no real schedule to it, except that I write faster as the deadline gets closer, culminating in a marathon panic-filled writing frenzy. Now that my day job is Writer, that’s not gonna cut it. Nope, we need a good old fashioned Minimum Daily Word Count. 3000 words a day, six days a week, unless I’m at Necon or Scares That Care, both of which I’ll be at this point, and should you.

Only novels, novellas, and short stories count toward that quota. I’m working on a stage musical comedy called Clown Car. That doesn’t count, even though it’s going to be awesome. Screenplays don’t count. Comic scripts don’t count. Oh, I’m going to work on all of that stuff, but AFTER the fiction quota is complete.

[DISCLAIMER: If somebody says, “Hello, Jeff, we’d like to pay you to write a comic book script!” then it would be cheerfully recategorized. Right now, though, anything except books and stories are spec projects.]

But there’s other stuff that needs to get done. My website needs a lot of updating. I’m restarting and revamping my newsletter. I control the audio rights to many of my books but haven’t done anything with them. All of this falls into the category of Productive Writing-Related Stuff That Isn’t Actually Writing a Novel. 90 minutes a day, those same six days a week.

“Woo-hoo!” part of my brain says. “An hour and a half of Facebook a day!”

“Back in your corner!” another part of my brain says with a snarl. “We need to set up some rules.”

Social media doesn’t count. E-mail doesn’t count. Blog posts (unless they’re guest posts for somebody else’s site) don’t count. Reading books because authors have asked for blurbs doesn’t count.

Tomorrow’s Update: What I’ll Be Working On.

R.I.P. Day Job

When I was a kid, I thought that everybody who was a writer was a full-time writer. If you wrote books, that’s entirely how you made your living…and, oooohhhh, what a sweet, sweet deal that would be!

In the ’90s, I discovered GEnie (basically, the internet without pictures) and got to interact with real writers for the first time. This is when I found that many of them, including authors whose book I’d just bought that week at my local bookstore, also had day jobs. What a bunch of bulls**t, right? And soon (well, not THAT soon) I, too, would experience the phenomena of selling a book for considerably less than truckloads of gold.

So I’ve worked for the same very large corporation for eighteen (!) years. I’ve talked about it a lot on podcast interviews and at conventions, but almost never here on my blog or on social media. Partly because 1) It is not a job filled with non-stop excitement and wacky anecdotes, and 2) I occasionally write books like Facial, where it feels like a wise idea to keep the day job and writing life in two very separate compartments.

Meanwhile, my writing career has had a gradual-but-consistent ascent. Almost every year better than the last, but no big “Yes!!! This changes everything!!!” moment. The idea of “Oh, what glorious things I could accomplish if I had my forty hours a week back!” comes up a lot, but day jobs provide neat things like reliable income. When you have a novel, let’s call it Wolf Hunt, where you never got either half of your advance even though the contract is signed and the manuscript has been delivered and edited and it’s a mass market paperback due out in four months but you’re hearing that the publisher’s horror line is on the verge of crashing and burning and then suddenly your editor gets laid off, it’s easy to think, “Wow, I’m glad I wasn’t counting on that money to pay the rent!”

But, finally, after those eighteen years, I have quit my day job. My last day is Friday.

Why did I do it? The answer I’d like to give is, “I got a massive book deal and I’m rich, rich, rich! Hahahahaha! Writhe in jealousy, peasants! Dance for my amusement!”

The actual answer is: dumbasses in upper management.

This is a good thing. When your writing career is going well, but you’re hesitant to make the scary leap to full-time, what you want most in the world is a shift in the corporate structure that leaves you at the mercy of a couple of dumbasses who make sweeping dumbass changes. Then you can say, “Bite me!” and quit.

(Or you can, y’know, just think it. No need to cause a scene.)

So that’s the deal. Full-time writer in a week. What does this mean for future books, except that there will be more of them? Watch for more updates throughout the week…

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