You see a mousetrap; I see free cheese and a fucking challenge!— Scroobius Pip

Last week I started a new experiment in writing, one that I hope will both boost productivity and creativity. It’s not your typical experiment, though. I’m not going to stand on my head while I write, or use prompt cards, or any other fancy tools I don’t already use. I’m going to change something much more fundamental about my writing habit. I’m changing my sleep. Okay, not so exciting, but I think it’s a promising approach. You see, I’m already fairly comfortable with my writing. It’s not perfect, but it’s workable and I think I’m at a point where the best thing I can do to improve is to simply keep writing. I’ve done the workshops, I graduated from Seton Hill’s awesome Writing Popular Fiction graduate program, and I have a trusted group of critique partners and beta readers. And I’m reading, something I always did but now I select what I read with more intent on developing a sense of the genres I work in. What’s left? Well, it’s just a matter of time. Something we’re all a little short on. I’m determined to reduce the number of hours I spend in bed—sleeping, that is. We all want more hours in the day, and I think it’s possible. We spend something like 8 hours in bed each night, 1/3 of our day, and I’m not so sure it’s necessary. A couple years ago, after having our second child, I embarked on a similar journey. Everyone knows that having a kid is typically an exercise in sleep deprivation, so I picked up this thing called a WakeMate to help me track how much sleep I was getting. I’m not going to review it, but suffice to say the thing wasn’t for me. In retrospect I should have realized I wouldn’t like it—I hate wearing watches or anything on my wrist for that matter. So I used it for a few months then gave up. Recently I came across a new device, the Zeo Sleep Manager Pro+, and so far it’s awesome. It’s a headband instead of a wristband, works with my iPhone, and gives pretty good stats on my sleep. I’m still trying to figure out how I can share graphs and such. When I do, I’ll start posting them here. Where am I going with this? I’ve always hated sleeping. Not the actual act, but having to lie in bed for 8 hours straight. Don’t get me wrong, I can and do sleep for that long, but somehow I always feel cheated out of time. And after using the Zeo for a few days I’m beginning to see a reason for this feeling (or maybe I’m rationalizing, but whatever). Zeo breaks your sleep down into 4 catagories: Wake, REM, Light, and Deep.What’s interesting is that Zeo discounts your time in Light Sleep. Wake, REM, and Deep all contribute to how well you slept on any given night, but time in Light Sleep seems to make little to no difference. Before using this thing, I would typically sleep six or seven hours a night. And even though I would get up pretty early to write, lately my writing’s been a struggle. This past week, I tried sleeping only five hours a night with two 20-minute power naps during the day. So far so good. My productivity was stellar (for me), with two days @ 1500 words, and the rest @ 1000. On Friday, I let myself get a ‘normal’ night’s sleep (for me, that’s six hours), and according to Zeo I slept better than most men my age can in eight hours, with serious amounts of time in both REM and Deep sleep. And I felt great in the morning. I’m not going to turn this into a sleep blog, but I will periodically post things about my progress. My next goal is to figure out how to share charts so you can actually see more details. Why am I sharing this? I think too often when we struggle in our endeavors, be it writing or anything else, we often overlook that possibility that changing something outside that endeavor may help things improve. We, like the universe, are a complex interaction of events and experiences. For me, writing is intimately connected to my dreaming and sleep, and so I’m chasing the theory that altering something in one will affect the other. My next experiment will deal with lucid dreaming. But it’ll have to wait for two things: I reach a comfortable compressed sleeping pattern, and the remee is released.

Antarctica, a place of utter isolation and desolation. It is by far the most unearthly place on earth. And it always makes me think of H.P. Lovecraft. Always.

I’m done with WordPress. It’s wonderful, but it’s too much for me. I know in this day and age it seems every aspiring writer runs a tight blog, with frequent posts and guests and insightful advice on writing. But that’s not for me.

I spent too much time over the past few years tweaking and tuning WordPress, not enough time actually writing posts, and beating myself up over both. So I’m ditching the pretense that I’m a blogger. I’m not. I want to write wonderful short stories and novels, and while blogging may help some in their pursuit of genre writing, it doesn’t help me. It stresses me out, which is not what I need.

So, I’m archiving my old WordPress site to and in its place I’m putting a single page with information on me, my writing, and links to things I think I worthwhile for readers or writers of genre fiction.

So long, WP. You’ve been a good friend, but a little too needy. Who knows… maybe we’ll get back together somewhere down the road.

For the past two years, I used this blog to publish most of my reading journals for my graduate program. I graduated in June, and now it’s time to give this place a new purpose.

I’ve put a lot of thought into what kind of thing this site should morph into, and I haven’t quite decided yet. I think I’ll start doing book reviews, but we’ll see. For now, I’ll post the occasional thought and progress as I work toward publication.

I completed my first horror novel of 81,000 words during my program. At my final residency in June I gave my thesis defense which included  reading a section of my novel and fielding questions from the audience.

This is me reading.

Photo Copyright Coelynn McIninch

I was scared. I was fortunate to have a lot of familiar faces, and my mentors Scott A. Johnson and Tim Waggoner were extremely supportive. The whole experience was like my first roller coaster ride. I spent hours in anticipation, racked by nervousness, only to get on, pull the bar down, and find out that I LOVE roller coasters! I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished, eager to keep producing more (hopefully) quality fiction, and enticed by the possibility of sharing more of that work in person.

I have already started my next steps.

I’ve submitted my manuscript to two places already. I have a short list of more agents. Why haven’t I sent it to all of them yet? I expect rejections. A lot of them. I just don’t want them all to come in at once.

I have started my next novel-length project. It’s turning out to lean more into fantasy, but there’s still strong elements of horror in it. I’m having fun with it, and I hope when it’s done that my readers will too.

And to fill the spaces between, I’m working on some short stories. I have two long-overdue for revision based on critiques from my graduate program, and one that I’m drafting to submit to an upcoming (no ETA) anthology of Meatpunk stories. Yes. Meatpunk. It’s all the rage. Want to know more? Check out the blog posts by Chris Shearer and John Dixon.

\~Meat punk - it’s what’s for dinner. Now stop whining and eat.\~

That’s it for now. Watch this space for more words and stuff, sucka.