Writer’s Toolbox: The Notebook

by Renee Miller

We decided to challenge ourselves to step outside our usual writing aids, methods, tools, etc., and try something that’s either new, or that’s an often-recommended thing we usually don’t use. We’re going to try said aid/method/tool for 7 days and let you know how it works for us. Does that even make sense? Not really. Let’s move on.

I chose the notebook. Back in the day, like about ten years ago, I used a notebook all the time. I had several, actually, and wrote all of In the Bones, The Legend of Jackson Murphy, Bayou Baby, and my first ever novel that shall not be named here, in a notebook. By hand. Every single one of the 80,000+ words for each was scribbled onto paper before I typed it into our ancient, temperamental desktop computer. That’s about 400,000 words handwritten. Yikes.

And then I got a laptop and I said, screw this notebook shit. Never used one again aside from when I have ideas and I’m not at home (although, I often use my phone instead of pen and paper) or when I’m editing or outlining. However, I know a lot of writers who swear by using pen and paper in early stages, so I decided to give it another go.

Supplies: Notebook (I went with the one below, because they were 47 cents at Walmart), brand new pen

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It says “Mom’s Writing Shit” so that the hooligans don’t use it for their own writing.

Day 1:

This thing is so new and white. Just smell those crisp, clean pages. I LOVE that. Ugh. I don’t want to write in it. I must, though. Got this new pen and everything. Here goes.

First entry: Ideas I’ll never use.

Filled three pages.

Day 2:

Wrote a bit of a story in my nifty notebook. Four pages, front and back. It’s kind of okay. My hand hurts and I’m hungry. Because I don’t want to take up story pages, I made a few notes in the back of the notebook. I think this is going to get confusing.

Also, watched a documentary about haunted places. Mentioned the Cecil Hotel. So, this happened…

Day 3:

Lost the notebook. Edited a finished project instead. Stop judging.

Day 4:

New notebook. Tried to rewrite the shit I wrote in the first notebook, but I know I forgot shit. Spent two hours writing beginnings and endings. Forgot how fun that was. My hand hurts again and there’s a new season of Bones on Netflix. What? I have to let these new prompts marinate.

Day 5:

Lost my new pen. Why does writing in pencil bother me so much? Can’t find a pen in this house. Kids must eat them or something. The pencil is REALLY messing with my head. It’s just not right. Wrote a couple of chapters anyway, but I don’t like any of it. Might be the pencil, though, so I’ll sit on it.

Day 5, part two: Found a pen. Wrote over the pencil stuff. Is that OCD? I don’t know. I feel better about what I wrote now. It’s a comedic horror thing, with witchcraft, creatures, sex (of course) and lots of killing. I think it has potential. I need to research and do some outlining, but I like it.

Day 6:

Found the first notebook. I must’ve put it away, because I found it in the junk cupboard. No way anyone else in this house put it there, because they don’t put anything away. And I clearly used it at some point to make note of vet appointments for the cats…

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Anyway, I did forget a lot of stuff. Day 5’s idea about the witch comedy thing is in it, sort of. I just wrote “witches, comedy, horror.” Also, a grocery list.

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Hmm. Anyway, wrote some more in the second notebook, and I’m itching to get on the laptop and “properly” start this thing. Did some research instead. Time travel is cool. I should add that to the story. I made a note.

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Day 7:

Finally, one more day of writing with my poor, cramped hands and then I can get cracking on the keyboard. I made a feeble attempt at it today. Didn’t get very far. I did list all the names I’ve ever used in my stories/books. I’ve used a lot. Going to have to get creative soon, eh? Yeah. Sigh. Of course, minor character names are recyclable, so it’s not so dire. Right? Right?!

New list: Names I haven’t used.

Conclusion:

The notebook is handy, for ideas. It’s not so handy for someone who writes bits and pieces of story impulsively and rapidly, and it’s not at all organized. I lose things constantly, as we’ve seen. If I were to use a notebook regularly, I’d need several. One for ideas, one for general bullshit like character names, and one for each story I’m working on. I’d probably lose track of one or two, so I’d end up with at least a hundred notebooks lying around. That’s too much paper for this girl.

However, it really does get the creative juices flowing, so I think I’ll save it for those times when I feel like I’ve run out of shit to write.

Any unusual writing tools/aids/tricks you’ve heard of, but haven’t tried? Which ones have you tried and would recommend?

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Five Thoughts with Renee Miller

  1. If we have lived past lives, and this reincarnation thing is true, I’m kind of worried about my dog. Do we remember our past life on some level and does it affect who we are and what we do in the next one? (Actually, this would explain a lot if it’s true.) But back to my dog. Sometimes he watches me like he knows things, and I’m all “Stop that.” He doesn’t, of course. Anyway, what I’m asking is; Have I ruined his next life with the shit he’s seen?

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  1. We only know our life through our eyes. Think about that. All you know, experience, etc. is only in your head and when you’re gone, so is your truth, because no one experienced these things the same way or saw what you saw and how you saw it. And even when you write it down, it’s still never going to be the same for anyone else, because they were never in your head, so they can’t see what you’re describing the same way you imagine it. I don’t like that idea.split.gif
  2. What if we’re just a giant science experiment? Maybe we’re just something cooked up by some advanced alien race in another universe. Like, we’re not even real. This whole life, planet, everything that’s happening is just a massive virtual reality thing and when we die, it’s because someone deleted our character file or worse—because we got stuck with someone who is shit at playing video games? Is that a book? If it’s not, it will be.

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  1. Ladyscaping is my least favorite thing to do, and yet I keep doing it. Who decided women should have no body hair and why did everyone else agree?angry.gif
  2. Sometimes I think I’d like to go back in time, but only if I can control where I go and who I get to be. I’d hate it if I was some medieval tavern whore accused of witchcraft or whatever, or worse, the girl who has to dump the chamber pots or give her warty, overweight lord a sponge bath. Gross. If I went back in time, I’d like to go way back, but as a wealthy (or at least titled) person, so I would have nice things and could boss people around and then wow everyone with the things I know. Yes, I’d totally mess with that shit. Screw you, time-space continuum or whatever I’d fuck up. We’d have plumbing way earlier. Bite me, Romans. And I’d find the bitch who started the ladyscaping thing and get rid of her before she fucks us all for the rest of time. Yeah. That’s what I’d do.evil-laugh.gif

Weird Writerly Things

Every writer has a process. Even if it’s only that they write in a specific room or at a certain time of day, we all have something that helps get us in the mood. I (Renee) forced everyone to tell me one weird thing they do to get in the zone for writing. Some of the Dolls didn’t disappoint. Liam, you need to get weirder. Just saying.

Anyway, here’s what they told me. Now they know the confidentiality thing I made them sign is useless.

Liam: Just daydream and type what happens.

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Hanna: Being in nature. I usually write best outside too.

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Oh yeah, sounds great, Hanna.

Steve: Smoking cigarettes and staring at the sky was a great way to zone out and run a chapter through my head. Unfortunately it’s not a good habit, lung-wise, so I can’t recommend it in good faith.

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(right?)

Michael: Cleaning the toilets usually does it, followed by strong coffee. Either that or a tomato sandwich.

(Did you say tomato sandwich?)

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Renee: Candy Crush. I wish I was joking, but I’m not. Playing a few rounds of that empties my brain of other things. I just play until I’m ready and then I write. If that doesn’t work, I take a nap, because naps are awesome.

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Katrina: Coffee and a swift kicking of everyone the hell away from me.

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(We had such high hopes for yours, Kat.)

Christian: I don’t have a weird thing that helps me get in the zone. Is that weird?

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(Yes, Christian. It’s weird. You’re weird.)

What Bugs You?

Everyone’s got something that annoys the shit out of them, right? I think sometimes creative types are a little more in tune with such things, because some of us pay a little too much attention to people and what they do. So, we thought, why not share our peeves, and then invite you all to share yours. Once a bad thing is out, it’s not so bad, right? Maybe. Here goes.

Liam: Autocorrect is evil.

(Agreed, but sometimes it’s also funny)

Steve: Publishing pet peeve – Writers who point out other writers’ typos publicly on social media (without invitation to do so). You’re laying down a gauntlet there, and you’d better be pretty fucking good before you feel you have carte blanche to call out other writers based on a typing error. And in most of the writer groups I’ve been in, nobody’s that good.

Other Pet Peeves – People who assume moral superiority for having the “right” opinion. I’ll take a brash cunt that does the good in front of them over a prick that loudly moralises from an unchallenged high ground any day of the week.

(I love it when you use the C word, Steve.)

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Hanna: Someone chewing with their mouth open, which makes me want to scream, For fucksakes, close your damn mouth when you chew!

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Katrina: Publishing-wise, when a writer is convinced they’ve nothing left to learn or refuse to edit beyond grammar mistakes. Makes me stabby.

(Like, one time I said I wasn’t making the edits. ONE TIME. Jeeze.)

Christian: (Are you all ready for this?)

1. Cunts who block me on Facebook for no reason.

eyebrow.gifFTL markets (In English: For the love markets, which pay zilch to authors)

2. Snowflake pretenders who spend a lot of time whining about how hard writing is instead of, you know, writing.

3. People who have multiple online profiles. I don’t mean pseudonyms for writing. That has a purpose. But I’ve recently learned that some weird fucks maintain multiple profiles just for the hell of it.

(We’ve contacted his doctor and he’ll be receiving stronger medication in the future.)

Renee: Oh, the list is so long. I let too much annoy me. First, I cannot stand know-it-alls, so I guess that’d fall into snowflakes who think they don’t need editing or have nothing left to learn, and moral high ground assholes, as Steve mentioned. Second, loud eaters. Really hate those. And close talkers. Mostly because they breathe on me and I hate when people breathe in my face.

Publishing: Whiners bug me. Do your bitching in private, not on social media. Kay? Thanks.

Finally, just in general, I also can’t stand sniffers. By that I mean, people who constantly sniff and snuffle. Get a fucking tissue and blow your damn nose. I think that’s enough for now.

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Now it’s your turn. What bugs you guys? Come on, share and we’ll judge you for it.

 

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Drunk Book Reviews: Cult of Kill Volume 1

by Renee Miller and Captain Morgan

So, Katrina had an idea, and we always play along. Welcome to the first edition of drunk book reviews. We plan to run a couple of these every month. They won’t be as long as this one, we hope, but you can’t make drunk people follow rules. And each review will be a podcast for now, because we sound bad enough, we don’t need you seeing the total shit show. Cool? Awesome.

In this installment, Renee drank a lot of rum really fast, and then she reviewed Cult of Kill, by Patrick Kill. Because you’ll be wondering, there are some images below that will make sense when you listen to the review. Enjoy.

 

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And, Sullivan…

 

 

 

 

 

 

Check Out Our New Member

by Renee Miller

 

How’s your Sunday going? Lazy, I hope. Before I can get on with the lazy, there are updates to be posted. So, what’s up with the dolls? Well, we’re being disgustingly neglectful of this blog, but with good reason. We’re busy little bees. Also, everyone but me is kind of a jerk. (I’M JOKING FORBES. PUT THE MATCHES AWAY.)

First, say hello to the newest Deviant Doll, Frank E. Bittinger. Frank writes horror mostly, and he’s a tad eccentric. That’s how we like our dolls, right? Of course it is. Make sure to check out Frank’s book and stalk him a little. He likes that. He likes a lot of strange things, apparently.

What else? Well, Katrina Monroe (also known as Katrina Saete, because she got – ugh – married) FINALLY released her haunting Neverland re-telling, ALL DARLING CHILDREN in October via Red Adept Publishing. YOU MUST READ THIS BOOK. Get your ass and gear and do it.

Speaking of must-reads, Tony Bertauski has added another science fiction adventure to his list of only the best books ever. Humbug (the Unwinding of Ebenezer Scrooge) will be released on November 15th, BUT if you pre-0rder it, you’ll get it at the low price of just 99 cents. So what are you waiting for?

And Forbes West has also been doing things. Writerly things.  Like re-releasing his weird, but wonderful tale NIGHTHAWKS AT THE MISSION, via Auspicious Apparatus Press. Not only is his original story reworked, but there is bonus material you don’t want to miss. If you don’t buy it, he’s going to bitch and moan. We’ll have to tell him pretty things and hold him for a bit. Please, help us.

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Hanna Elizabeth has been quiet the past few months, but while being so, she’s released a haunting tale originally published in the FLYING TOASTERS anthology, titled THE MAN UPSTAIRS. A haunting little ghost story that’s perfect for a cold, dark night, as most are this time of year.

What’s what? Oh, that. It’s just Steve sobbing. He does that sometimes.

Speaking of Steve, I see you over there eagerly awaiting news about him, you frigging weirdo. If you haven’t already yet, check out his  Authors & Dragon’s podcast. HIL-ARIOUS. Steve is also working on new bookish things, but he hasn’t told us much about them yet. Stay tuned. Don’t worry, he’s only crying because he’s happy. Promise.

*Katrina, do something about him.*

The other funny-talking Doll, Christian Saunders, has a few short stories coming soon. Keep your eye on DeadMan’s Tome, because they’ll be publishing Christian’s SOMETHING BAD in mid-November. He tells us there is significant emphasis on black goo, so that’s intriguing.

And finally, there’s me. Well, I have a few novels “in progress,” such as a follow-up to Mind Fuck, called “Small’s Soldiers.” I know you’re all used to me publishing those rather quickly, but I’ve slowed down the past few months. Not because I’ve stopped writing. I’m just taking it easy and shit. By shit I mean I’m working on short fiction as well. Look for my latest, THE FRIDAY SPECIAL, on November 11th over at DarkFuse Magazine. It’s delicious, I promise.

I guess that’s all for now. Don’t forget to like our Facebook page for news, events and the occasional free goodies. We’re also planning a Christmas thing. It’ll involve festive days filled with little contests, freebies, new books, and possibly a virtual party. We know how you enjoy those. Stay tuned.