functional nerds

Jan 2013 Stats

In an effort to keep better track of the work I do as a writer, reviewer, editor, and publisher, I’m going to try to post regular stats updates. I did this one by creating a post at the beginning of the month, saving it as a draft, and then adding to it whenever I accomplished something. (Much easier than trying to put it together all at once on the day I want it to post.)

In January I …

Read

  • “After the Apocalypse”, the last story in the collection of the same name by Maureen F. McHugh. Read my review here.
  • The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern. Brief review on Goodreads.
  • The Bleeding Man, and Other Science Fiction Stories, by Craig Strete. Review here.
  • Beneath Ceaseless Skies magazine, issues 104, 105 & 106. Review of 104 & 105 here.
  • Started reading Nobokov’s Pale Fire.
  • and some Tony Stark/Captain America slash fic, but I blame Conni for that.

Wrote

Edited

  • A 990 word lit fiction piece from 2011 called “Skipping Ahead To The End” (see below)

Published

  • FISH. (And there was much rejoicing.) This included proofing print and ebooks several times, submitting files to markets, blog posts, a Goodreads giveaway, and so on.

I also

  • appeared on two more Functional Nerds podcasts – Episode #133 and Episode #134 (click on the links to listen)
  • appeared on an SF Signal podcast (will post in February).
  • got my Goodreads account organized, updated my bookshelf, and started using it to keep track of the books I’m reading.
    • Created a Dagan Books group for people who want to discuss our projects or authors (join it here).
    • added a page for FISH.
  • Updated the Our Staff page on the Dagan Books site; fixed date/link/spelling errors in other places on the site.
  • Updated my Non-Fiction page, and my links.
  • Chased down and corrected contract issues for two stories I sold back in Spring 2012 (as yet unpublished).
  • Critiqued two 4k word stories for a friend.
  • Spent some time in the forums at Zoetrope. It’s focused more on literary fiction than genre fiction, and I like getting that perspective on my work.
    • Read and critiqued 5 flash-length stories.
    • Submitted one of my own (“Skipping Ahead To The End”).
  • Put more story ideas into Evernote.
  • Interviewed E.C. Meyers (read it here) and Fran Wilde (here).
  • And started tracking my fiction submissions in one of these:

Old School For The Win.

Overall:

That’s about 9,300 new words of non-fiction writing for the month and 1300 of fiction. Read 22 short stories (7 unpublished) and one novel (started a second). Revised and submitted one flash piece to be critiqued & critiqued 7 stories for other writers. Was on 3 podcasts. Got an anthology prepped and published – a year later than I’d originally intended but proof that I am starting to get back on track. Plus a bunch of office work (I am my own middle manager).

I’m planning to write more fiction in February, as well as get at least one more (hopefully two) Dagan Books projects published, and move forward on the other four in-progress titles.

My advice for February:

Do one thing every day. If you can, write. A blog post, or 500 words on your current story. If not, read. A short story, chapter, a couple of articles you need for research, it’s all useful, and often easier than writing when you’ve had a long day. Make a list of the things you’ve been meaning to do and check one off. By focusing on one thing a day, you’ll end up having done 28 things by the end of the month, instead of pushing yourself to do too much and being too burnt out to work for days at a time. That’s reading several magazines, or writing your weekly blog post for the next six months, or 14,000 words on your novel…

Site Stats, 2012

By far the most popular post I wrote in 2012 was Fuck You, Weird Tales, followed by Readercon 2012 – the sexual harrasment edition, proving once again that you people like it when I get wordy with righteous indignation. (Good, because it’s bound to happen again.)

I had slightly more than 15,600 views at the site this year, averaging about 45 a day. That’s up from 9000 views in 2011. (WP is only recently measuring visitors vs views, but current data suggests about 3/4 of my views are unique visitors.)

Most of my readers are from the United States (about 2/3), followed mainly by Canada, the UK, Australia, Germany, Netherlands, and the Philippines, followed by less than 100 views each from dozens of other countries. I’m pleased to see that I have occasional readers in places like Fiji, Iraq, Nepal, Iceland, Vietnam, Ireland, Israel, and Japan.

Top referrers to my site (after a collection of search engines) are Twitter and Facebook, followed by SF Signal and Functional Nerds, as well as several fellow writers (NK Jemisin, Ken Liu, Matt Bennardo, Jim C. Hines, Matthew Cheney, and Don Pizarro). Which shows that being involved in social networking, writing guest posts, and promoting other writers pays off.

Speaking of search engines, the top search terms that drove people to the site were:

Search Views
carrie cuinn 138
“claude lalumiere” 68
writing about me 30
kanbanpad review 24
history of book cover design 23
what makes a thriller 23
kanbanpad 20
author blurb 19
readercon 2012 19
cuinn 17
book spine poetry 15
dmz graphic novel 13
decolonialism 11
ken liu writer 10

which suggests I should spend a little more time talking about book cover design and typography, and update my post about Kanbanpad.

Overall these stats tell me that the more I post, the more readers I have (which may translate to more readers of my fiction/essays, and more sales of my work). It also tells me most of the people who come to my website are actually looking for me, which is always nice to know. In the coming year I plan to keep up with the book reviews, post more original fiction, keep promoting writers I admire, and continue to talk about the process of writing/publishing/book creation. Don’t worry, though, there’ll be snark and some sarcasm and the occasional rant, too.

After all, I know what you really come here for.

Links, Updates, and Et Ceteras

I’ve been guest hosting over at Functional Nerds, with Patrick Hester and John Anealio. Our first episode together was posted online yesterday (you can listen to it here). We talked about a bunch of random topics, including web shows, comics, Duotrope, and Patrick’s interest in my legs. Recorded another one last night (more comics, whether we should change book covers for digital audiences, and only one accidentally unfortunate comment about me from Patrick) which will go live on the 25th. We’re doing two more shows in January too. John and Patrick are great guys to hang out with, and I’m flattered that I was their first choice to be a host after their format change.

My indie comics column at SF Signal is going great. Next Tuesday will be two months that I’ve been writing about one of my favorite storytelling mediums, and the list of titles I get to talk about is just getting longer. Click on the links to read my latest reviews: Richard Sala’s Delphine, Ursula Vernon’s Digger, and Royden Lepp’s Rust. I’ve gotten some very supportive comments:

Thanks for reviewing this wonderful, intoxicating work. Without your review, I never would have fallen for this book. Speculative fiction comics need wider exposure; thank you for providing it in such a delightful way.

and

Thank you for reviewing this. I don’t often find people talking about Sala’s work and that is a shame.

and

Keep this stuff coming!

Comics can be amazing. Beautiful art, brilliant writing – I love that readers of speculative fiction novels are finding themes they love in comics too.

I’ve started writing short fiction again. My novel is still progressing slowly, but it’s been months since I spent any time on a short story. I’m a person that needs small goals, short accomplishments, and while I get that from my column, I’ve never had a hard time churning out non-fiction. I like it but I find my opinion of myself as a writer isn’t as wrapped up in non-fic as it is in fiction. That’s where I find challenges and spend time perfecting a style. That’s where I need to do well.

It’s getting harder to write fast, though. I used to be able to do thousands of words in a day. Now if I can write two hundred I’m thrilled, and some days I delete more than I’ve written. It turns out that the better I get as a writer the more I can see my own skills and flaws, and the more I take my time writing. Words have to be perfect. Sentences have to flow, one into the other, and paragraphs are blocks of time that have to express a mood and distinct chunk of information. Writing takes work and time to perfect. I’d rather devote myself to that than churn out a thousand words of average (or worse) prose that I can’t be proud of.

One last thing: food. Eating non-dairy has been great for my son, and eating a lot more fruits and vegetables (whole meals that way, instead of mostly carbs) means I’ve got more energy and am losing weight again. All good things. You know what else is good? A juicy medium-rare burger. A thick cut of steak seared in a cast iron pan… yum. Eating a lot more vegan dishes has been working for me, but I have to admit that am not ready to give up meat entirely. I tried it and what’s right for me is going to be balancing healthy choices with occasionally unhealthy delicious ones.

With food, or writing, or anything else in my life, I have to balance what I love with what I need, what drives me, and what makes me happy. I think that with a little effort I can have everything I want.

Peer Pressure, Updates, and Links

I had to take a break from writing and editing and much of anything else while I took care of myself and a sick kid and tried not to die this week. In other words, we had the flu. Dayquil played a starring role in accomplishing these goals. Also, the irony of getting the flu a few weeks before I’m set to start writing a viral apocalypse novel is not lost on me.

Up until I got sick, I was actually getting caught up, and had a packed October planned. Silly me, I didn’t budget in time to lie in bed and stare at a stuffed shark for several hours a day*. You’d think it would be quiet around here but a lot’s happened in the last week or so:

First off, Jessica Corra, John Stevens, and Mike Allen did their “Next Big Thing” posts, and so did R.S. Hunter (who I’ve published at Dagan Books) so go click on the links to read ‘em.

By January I will no longer be writing my Tech Nerd column over at the Functional Nerds site. Patrick Hestor and John Anealio were great to give me a chance to do that, and I was officially part of their site for over a year, but it’s time to move on. I will turn in three more columns, to be posted this month, in November, and in December.  I will continue to write the occasional mainstream book review for them, and hopefully appear on a future podcast.

Patrick told me that I probably won’t be getting away so easily, and they’ve got plans which might include me still … Once I know, I’ll let you know.

I do have another non-fiction writing gig in progress. In a few weeks you will be able to find me talking about independent, alternative, and creator-owned comics over at SF Signal. Brian Ruckely, who’s already writing a great column over there called Words and Pictures (click on the link to read what’s he’s done so far) has graciously agreed to share the topic of comics with me.

You guys know I love comics, read comics – mostly the kind of small press comics I plan to talk about, but I also like what Image has been doing recently and was a fan of DC’s Vertigo line from back when it started in ’93. I’ve even written about comics from an academic perspective in the past. My college degrees are in Fine Arts and Art History, and though I studied antique books, prints, and printmaking techniques in school (and just read comics for fun) it turns out that I couldn’t have done much better if I wanted to prepare myself for serious study of narrative art.** I’m excited to have a forum to share what I’m reading a couple of times a month.

Dagan Books work is behind but still progressing, as seems to be the constant state of things this year. All that needs to be done by the end of October will be done, I can see that. It will involve lost sleep and some help from my amazing staff, but it will get done. WFC is about 3 1/2 weeks away… I’m scared and thrilled and looking forward to it at the same time.

November’s going to be busy too. After WFC I’ve got my novel, a lot more Dagan Books work, the comics column, and 10,000 words on my 1/2 of a complicated and brilliant science fiction novella I’m co-writing as part of a project being published next year. I can’t say more than that right now, except I’ve outlined the idea of what I’m writing, and the format I’ll be writing it in, so I feel confident it will get done on time. I like the idea very much.

I’ve also gotten back to a regular drawing practice lately, and I can already see myself improving. This is important because it gives me a creative outlet even when my brain is melted from writing, it’s a marketable skill to have, and I get a lot of satisfaction out of finishing a drawing. I can complete one in a few hours, and I get to say that magic word – DONE. I can’t write a piece of fiction in only a few hours and think it’s finished, so it’s nice to have these little moments of feeling useful to help power me through the long writing tasks I’ve got in front of me.

Speaking of the novel, I figured out the third act – internal, external, and meta motivations – so I’m truly done with the basic outline. Next free moment I get, I will type it up, take the notecards off the wall, and use that space to start building my “bible”: reference material, maps, scene sketches, and other background or extra-novel material that will help me write but isn’t necessarily part of the outline.

Kid is doing well. Personal life is doing well. Making new friends. Health, aside from the flu, continues to improve. Still dirt poor, but I’m working on that. Oh, and I rearranged my furniture.

Overall, I’d say things are heading in the right direction.

* Note to self: schedule shark-staring into regular calendar. It’s very soothing.

** My favorite professor still sends me calls for papers on the confluence of graphic art and art history.

A Podcast, Some Advice, and a Story (new places to find me online)

I’m going to skip my usual “things I did last month” roundup because I’ve actually talked about most of them (sick, Readercon, IN SITU, temp job, etc). I’m hard at work getting FISH finished up, and  other Dagan Books business like con planning, advertising, hiring, accounting and so on. It’s quickly becoming an actual 40-hour a week job (the weeks I can keep it to only 40 hours) and perhaps in another year or so it will start doing nifty things like paying me.

We’re not there yet. In the meantime I’ve done a couple of non-Dagan Books things I’d like to share:

  • Last week I was on an episode of the Hugo award nominated podcast at SF Signal, “Readercon, Harassment and Making Positive Changes” with Stina Leicht, Mur Lafferty, Jaym Gates and Patrick Hester. It’s not the only podcast to have covered the topic or even the recent incident at Readercon, but it’s part of the ongoing conversation. I think we said some good things. You can listen to it here: Episode 143
  • My most recent Tech Nerd column is up at Functional Nerds: “Ten FREE Apps That Make My iPhone a Mobile Office
  • Mrs. Henderson’s Cemetery Dance” was published by Red Penny Papers in their Summer 2012 issue. Click on the link to read it for free.
  • “No Hand to Turn the Key” (my clockwork erotica/librarian story) sold to the STEAMPUNK CTHULHU anthology forthcoming from Chaosium. I’ll post more details once I have them, but for now, check out the cover by Daniele Serra: