The Writing of Blake Crittenden

Theme by Blake
Powered by WordPress
Graciously hosted by Your.org

Back to Normal Life

January 14, 2018

I was on holidays from work for the last two weeks of December and that’s the longest period of time I’ve not had to work since my youngest was born (so almost 15 years). More than anything, I’ve found it really hard to get back into the swing of things at work after having been gone so long. While I was off, I felt like I was still really busy, but once I actually got back to work, I realized how much busier I am when I am working.

I got a lot of writing done while I was home all that time. It might not be a lot for other people, but it was a lot for me. During NaNoWriMo, I wrote 28k words, which is the most I’ve ever written in one month. In December, with my two holiday weeks, I wrote another 10k, so I’m just about up to 40. The narrative I outlined at the end of October is coming to an end, which is good. I managed to stay on track and progress through the plot points I wanted to hit and I’m proud of that. Once it’s done though, my second draft is going to be a big job. I’ve gotten some preliminary feedback from Angela (of Twisted Sister Lit Mag fame). That woman is so insightful about writing.

Last weekend, I didn’t post an update here because I was busy and I think I need to accept that as a reality some weeks. I did have a very full Sunday though.

I managed to write a thousand words or so, I cleaned my kitchen, did the grocery shopping, fixed both headlights on Sunny’s Car (both headlights burnt out in Sunny’s car just before New Year’s so everything was closed), did some cleaning, and cooked dinner. I realize aside from changing headlights and writing, that’s a pretty normal day, but I try to relax on the weekends and last weekend I failed a bit at that.

Quick housekeeping:
Currently reading: The Fifth Season: The Broken Earth, Book 1 by N. K. Jemisin – I’m really enjoying it. It uses 2nd person POV at times, which I’m always a sucker for.
Currently listening: Silversun Pickups – I became obsessed with the song Nightlights this week for no reason I’m aware of.
Currently watching: Runaways – They’ve really expanded on the parents as characters and opened up the whole world quite a bit.
Current comic: Honestly I’m trying to do a bit of a purge because my office is a tad overrun.

2017 In Review

December 31, 2017

Somehow New Year’s Eve always sneaks up on me. It didn’t hit until this morning that today is the last day of the year and that I should take a look back and see how the year treated me.
I think it goes without saying that 2017 was a political mess. I don’t want to start down that rabbit hole or I’ll probably spend this whole post venting. I’ll simply say that after the Doug Jones election, I’m feeling some hope for the 2017 mid-term elections. On the Canadian side of things, I’d like to see a little more action from Trudeau (especially on Native issues). Okay, enough about politics.
On a personal level, I’ve had a fairly noteworthy year. I finished my first Novel and have started sending it out to Agents. I’m still figuring out the best way to do that, but as with all things, it’s a learning process. I’ve moved my blog to this site and built the (admittedly not that attractive) site itself. I’m writing more short fiction and sending it out to various journals. I had two stories accepted for publication. I know there are a lot of authors out there who have done a lot more than this, but for me, it was a big year.
Most unexpectedly, I started a second novel for NaNoWriMo. I failed horribly at getting 50k words down in a month, but I’m still trucking along and have added another 10k words in December. I’ll continue working and hopefully finish the first draft in the next few months.
Since I’m writing a whole new genre as well as a topic I have very little first-hand knowledge of, I’m very thankful for my friends who’ve helped me out on this journey. Sunny has gone over specific story points and gone on writing dates with me. Jon and Meagan took the time to sit down with me over coffee so I could grill them for two hours. Deanna let me hijack her time while we were out doing other things and Angela from Twisted Sister has been a vital resource not just for this project but for all aspects of my writing life (as well as a good friend outside of my writing life).
While these people (and others) have certainly helped me in my writing life, more than that, I’m just appreciative to have such great people in my personal life. This year I’ve spent a lot more time with friends than previous years. In March I finally met Robin in person. After working together for 6 years we never had the opportunity to meet. We had a lovely vacation in Jasper, Alberta and spun some fire.
This past week, I met Tim and Alicia, who I’ve been internet friends with for over 15 years as well as some of their friends (Marc and Kristi). They do a podcast together (Dance Robot Dance), which I listen to and they invited me to guest host an episode with them while everyone was in town for the holidays.
I also went out with a bunch of different co-workers this year, which makes going to work a lot more fun.

Speaking of work, I went on my first work trip this year. And even though I was working quite a bit, I got to spend a week in Vancouver and meet a bunch of my teammates who live in different Provinces. This was my first time going anywhere in Canada outside of Ontario (my trip to Jasper was my second). I also got a fairly significant promotion at work.
Lastly, Sunny and I had our 15 year wedding anniversary. So yeah, all things considered, it’s been a positive year for me.

2017 Stats:
Novels read: 15
Favourite novel: Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver
Favourite song: How Would You Like to Play God by Amanda Palmer
Most listened to song: East Side Glory by Marnie Stern
Favourite comic series: The Wildstorm by Warren Ellis

Breathing Room

December 17, 2017

I’ve just started my two week holidays from work. I’ve got virtually nothing on my plate during those two weeks, so I really hope to get a lot of writing done. I’m having a heck of a time getting my head in the game today though. I wonder if knowing I have all this free time makes me feel like I have time to wait and write later? Whatever the reason, I thought I’d make a blog post and see if that gets the juices flowing.
The main reason I took two weeks off right for the holidays this year is that last year I ended up working during my whole vacation and it made me cranky. This year, I just booked these two weeks off right at the start of the year. I think next year I’ll take a couple weeks off in November instead and use them for NaNoWriMo instead. Trying to get 50k words written and work at the same time was just too much for me. That’ll also give other people some freedom with their own end of year time off.
So, I booked all this time off, but don’t have anything that I really need to do during these two weeks. Sunny is having some co-workers over on Tuesday for a work party type thing so I know that I’ll definitely be doing some cleaning today and tomorrow. I think I’m going to make Wes down to Toronto for the Solstice Parade through Kensington Market on Thursday night.

I received my Secret Satan gift yesterday. I got the Grendel Tales Omnibus vol 1. This is a comic I’d seen so many times in shops when I was younger but never picked up. I’m going to get through that in the next few days. I’m about to start The Fifth Season: The Broken Earth by N. K. Jemisin. I don’t know anything about this author, but one of my oldest and smartest friends recommended it to me, so I figured I should probably check it out. I’ve been spending too much time lately reading things as research more than just for fun, so this will be a nice change.
Oh, lastly, I saw The Last Jedi on Friday. I enjoyed it. I won’t say it was my favourite Star Wars movie, but it wasn’t my least favourite either. I definitely see a lot of MRAs getting all in a huff again about this one. Which will probably make me like it more. I feel like I need to watch it again. I’ll probably do that in the next couple days.

Okay Now, What Was I Doing?

December 3, 2017

NaNoWriMo is over and it was a crazy experience. As I said in my last post, this was my first year participating. I hadn’t been really sure what to expect because I generally only work on writing one a week. Trying to write every day was a bit more than I could manage. I ended the month writing just over 27,000 words and I’m proud of that. At the very least, it’s at least 4 times more than I’ve ever written in one month.
When writing every Sunday, I have a week to tumble the story around in my head before writing what happens next. Having to process that in less than 24 hours made pacing difficult. I had done a couple weeks of outlining before November started, so I think that was the only reason I was able to progress the story on the days when I was able to write. I’m probably about halfway through my story, which means that it’s not going to be as long as it should. Regardless I’ll need to do a lot of editing to get it into shape for sending out any queries or anything.
The novel I decided to write for NaNoWriMo is a romance novel. I had a flash where I had an idea that I thought would make a good romance novel, so I figured I could take a month to work on it and not be worried about that time. I find this funny because, in the novel I’m sending around right now, most of the characters are children, which I did specifically to not have any romance in the book. I was just sick of seeing romance everywhere and having to include romance as such an important relationship in people’s lives. I wanted to focus on non-romantic relationships. And now I’m writing a romance novel. . .

I picked up a Richelle Mead novel to help me figure out how Romance works as a genre because it’s not something I’ve really read. So I’m learning. I like my characters though and I’m having fun writing them.
In other news, I got a promotion at work.
That’s not all that exciting. We also had to put one of our dogs to sleep. He was getting pretty old and went downhill very quickly. I suppose that’s better than a long drawn out decline. It was hard though.
The last sort of interesting update from the month is that I finally got an MRI for my ankle that I injured in August of 2016. I tore my spring ligament and partially tore my deltoid ligament. No wonder it’s been a bit tender. I think it’s pretty funny that I walked in 3 parades in the past 12 months with torn ligaments. Oops.
I got an Aircast for my leg, which may or may not be helping. One thing is for sure though, it doesn’t work particularly well with the clutch in my car. That means Sunny and I have been sharing a car for a couple weeks now, which is unfortunate.

We interrupt to bring you this important information

November 5, 2017

Last night, kid number two and 3 of his friends participated in the Extra Life fundraiser. It was a 25-hour gaming marathon. They streamed the whole thing on Twitch. Apparently, it was a 27Gb file when all was said and done. The kids left this morning just after 8 and my kid passed the heck out. I slept from midnight until 4 AM, but I am up for the day. I’m tired though, so this is going to be a short update.
In other news, Nation Novel Writer’s Month (aka NaNoWriMo) started (50,000 words in 30 days). This is my first year participating. I was able to stay on track for the first two days but had nothing left Friday night after getting the house ready for all the gamer kids coming over.
I did whip out 3875 words in the last 24 hour though, which brings me up to date for Friday and yesterday plus a good 400 words into today. I’m starting to think this is actually doable. Without a doubt, 7000 words is the most I’ve ever written in a 4-day time frame. My average for my first book was just over 1000 words per week. Granted, I only wrote one day per week.
I’ve been pretty solidly writing. My biggest challenge is research. On my first novel, that’s what I’d do the rest of the week when I wasn’t writing (ya know, along with work and life stuff). The second section of this novel takes place in early 1900s China. I’ll give you one guess how much I know about China during this time period. If worse comes to worst, I’ll just be horribly inaccurate and fix it next month.
If I don’t check in next weekend, I apologize in advance. I promise it’s because I’m writing though.

Quick to Fall

October 29, 2017

I mentioned last week that I was going to give Scrivener a trial run. Well, I fell horribly in love with it instantly. I imported TIMES OF ABEL into it and organized it by part and chapter. I went through some of the notes I took at the Kelley Armstrong workshop and made a couple small changes. I was hooked.
One night last week while I was watching TV with my dear and lovely wife, I had an idea about a new novel. It’s new direction for me (no, I won’t be less vague right now) and the idea was a bit overwhelming. I decided to play around with it in Scrivener. I outlined the plot, created character sketches, wrote some notes on the various settings, and added some notes around other thoughts and ideas I might want to incorporate. It’s all in one place and easily referencable. I am swooning.
The next logical step for me was to sign up for NaNoWriMo because that starts on Wednesday and I don’t have a tonne of free time coming up anytime soon. I figure, TOA only took me two years to finish the first draft, one month seems reasonable for my second novel. Last night when I signed up, I felt like puking. I’m fairly humoured by the whole thing at the same time though.

It should give me a good opportunity to take a mental breather from trying to sell TOA as well as give me a little space from the short story I finished last week, which I’ll need before putting it through the edit machine.
I’ve gotten a few chapters into Kelley Armstrong’s The Masked Truth. I don’t do much reading from physical books these days, so finding the time when I actually have the book with me is hard. I had an MRI on Friday (for my stupid ankle) and I took it with me to read in the waiting room. That worked well. I’ll get there slowly but surely.
I have taken to reading poetry some days before I start writing. If I’m just not in the right headspace, it helps me get out of my own head and concentrate. I mostly read the collection How to Break My Neck by Jessica L. Walsh. I’ve known Walsh since college and it’s inspiring to see a published book by someone I actually know. Also, it’s damn good.
On an extremely important note, I hope everyone has a happy Halloween!

Software Developer Envy

October 22, 2017

Yesterday I met up with Twisted Sister for a Brian Henry workshop in Oakville featuring Kelley Armstrong. Armstrong is a former Programmer from Ontario who has 32 published books and a couple graphic novels. As well, one of her series was adapted into a TV show. As a current software developer who is working on getting published, she’s pretty inspirational to me.
I’ve read 4 of her books, all from different series because I wanted to get a broad familiarity with her writing. From what I read, I prefer her newer writing and I prefer her YA stuff. Granted, I’m currently reading Omens which is Adult and I’m really enjoying it. I also picked up a copy of The Masked Truth at the workshop (which I got signed) and I hear that one is amazing. Now I just need time to read it.

The focused of her talk was Act 2, which I found really interesting. I don’t think I’ve ever heard someone cover that as a topic. She did a very long Q&A which was fascinating. The biggest problem with workshops is that I now feel compelled to go back through my completed manuscript and check all the recommendations she made to see what I can improve.
One of the questions she answered was around software that she recommends for writing and she brought up Scrivener . I feel a bit out of it, but I had never actually checked it out before. It’s basically a text editor for writers that is built around structure and notation. I took a brief tour of it this morning and I’m in awe of how well designed it is. I’ve rarely seen a piece of software designed around a specific purpose that was built so accurately. Every time I was like, Oh, I hope it can do X, it did.
The only thing it didn’t do was back up to the cloud automatically. If this thing was a web app, it would be perfect. I get that storage is a concern from the dev side and a 1-time payment for the app is just plain easy and affordable, but in a perfect world. . . Obviously, you can put your save folder in a google drive or Dropbox or whatever, so no harm no foul. The license is also a family license so you can install on multiple machines.
Overall A+. I’m going to use the trial version and if all goes well, I’ll put the $40 into my budget for next month.

Happy Thanksgiving

October 8, 2017

I spent a good portion of yesterday cooking, interspersed with a fair amount of running to the grocery store because I forgot something. Good news though, there was also a fair amount of eating. Aside from that, it’s been a really slow week for me.
Kid 2 was in the local Fall Fair parade with school. He spent a few evenings this week working on the float and then got to ride the float during the parade. There are a lot of things I don’t like about his high school, but I do like that they have houses (yes, like Harry Potter).
His house won the float building competition. There was a polar bear and ice fishing. They had a little hand drill that when you turned made plastic fish swim around. I don’t know if there is any sort of end of year points type thing at the school, but the kids seem to enjoy the houses. I think it helps the grade 9 kids meet and interact with older kids.

I’m having one of those days where I’m unimpressed with my writing. I have sent out a piece of flash fiction a few times and I’ve gotten the rejections back pretty quickly. I was going to send it out to a few more places today, but I’m thinking it might just not be that good. It’s time to buckle down and send it out anyway. I think this is the hardest thing about writing (probably any art).
I vow to send it out to one place today and then get down to work on my short story. That story is coming along. I’m getting to the hard part though, the part I know I’m scared to write. It’s so easy to just procrastinate writing so I don’t have to try. I know that when I just write, it usually comes out okay. Maybe that’s my theme this week. I should stop worrying and do what I need to do.

Why Does Writing Take So Long?

October 1, 2017

The story that I mentioned working on last week is consuming my brain. Work this week was so frustrating because all I wanted to do was work on the story. As I’ve said before, I generally do all my writing on Sunday. Yesterday (Saturday), I spent about 5 hours working on the new story. There are so many other things I should be working on around the house, but I feel like if I step away from the story, I’ll forget something. This could easily become a novel if I let it. I don’t think I want to though.
Thematically, I feel like this story is a bit dangerous for me since it focuses on mental illness. The main reason I never started writing this is that it’s so easy to do wrong. Hopefully, I can get some readers to check me for problematic bull crap before I send it anywhere. All that being said, the original idea I had for this story was mostly just an adventure story with an odd twist, but as a short story, it’s become something more cerebral than that.
The coolest thing I’ve seen this week is Harriet Tubman: Demon Slayer. I admit I haven’t gotten around to reading it yet, but I still haven’t read the latest Descender or Saga comics which have been sitting on my desk since this past Wednesday.

I did read Rat Queens Special: Orc Dave #1 though. I read that last night because I was mentally exhausted after spending 3 hours researching different types of mental illness and I wanted some light escapism. The story was good, but a little heavier than most Rat Queens stories.
I finished Parable of the Sower. Octavia Butler writes some stark stuff. I loved it. I wish I had more time to read. I’ll definitely be reading more of her writing sooner rather than later. I was really impressed with how well she kept the characters realistic in such a dark world.
I’m reading another Kelley Armstrong book right now. I wanted to get one more under my belt before the workshop later this month where she will be speaking, so I picked up The Awakening. I figure the more familiar I am with her, the more I can get out of the workshop. I also decided to check out the first few episodes of the Bitten tv series. I can see the appeal, but it’s not really my thing. I felt the same way about the book Bitten though. Chronologically, I’ve enjoyed her books more, the newer they are. It’s probably also relevant that I like the teen based stories more than the adult ones. Adulting is dumb.
Since it’s October finally, I’ll leave you with the Halloween costume I wore the first year my mom ever let me decide what I would be. That being said, I think we really messed up on the ballerina hair style.

Art Weekend

September 24, 2017

Most of this weekend was about my dear and lovely wife, Sunny‘s, first Art show opening. We spent all day Friday putting it up. I think we obsessively planned because everything came together pretty quickly. The event itself was such a good time. Jim, a chef that works with the venue, made an 8-foot tall tower filled with deconstructed cheesecakes inside chocolate covered strawberries. A few of the people there had some really beautiful emotional reactions to the work. We met someone that we had mostly just known online and she showed up with a tattoo of a piece of Sunny’s work on her arm. It was wild.
Last night I started working on a story that was originally going to be my first novel. When I was initially getting the story all mapped out, a movie came out that had a couple similarities and I decided to switch to a different project (thus Times of Abel was born). But, while I’m currently working on getting a literary agent, I’m finding a bit of space to work on a number of projects that I left by the side of the road for one reason or another.

The only other interesting thing for me this week is that an artist I started following on Twitter created a new twitter bot called @tenderdnd,

which is so damn wonderful. Basically, you tweet at the account and if you use the word NPC or character, it replies with a tender D&D character. If you use the word party, it gives you a party of three tender D&D characters and if you use the word queer, it gives you a queer tender D&D character. This is my most recent party that I asked for, “Wells, the half-orc cleric and tailor, Melissa, the elf rogue from a family of librarians, and Abe, the elf paladin.”
The artist’s name is Shing Yin Khor. I also signed up to support her Patreon, because this is pretty much my favourite thing this whole year.
I’d post about the new issue of America by Gabby Rivera, but I haven’t found the time to read it yet. I’m so bad at being a comic book fan. Really bad in fact because I was thinking about going to the Barrie Comic Con this weekend and I ate pancakes instead.

Next Page »