Category Archives: #SamWIP

#SamWIP: 12K Day and a Trip to the ER

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WHEW, I had a big day! 😀

S.K. Balk lives in the frozen wasteland of Northern Michigan. She is the author of the dystopian medical sci-fi THE BLOOD OF NERYS (also available in print) and short fantasy A SHINY FOR TRICK (forever free for your entertainment!).

Check out the #SamWIP category every Monday to hear about Sam’s current projects!


#SamWIP: Book Buying Binge and OMG SO PRODUCTIVE

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I have been -SO- busy. Doing what I am supposed to be doing and devoting my soul to the words.

Check it.

Check out the #SamWIP category every Monday to hear about Sam’s current projects!

S.K. Balk lives in the frozen wasteland of Northern Michigan. She is the author of the dystopian medical sci-fi THE BLOOD OF NERYS (also available in print).

#SamWIP: How I Kind of Accidentally Invented Zoroastrianism After it Already Existed

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Deep in the drudgeries of Twitter, I discovered a lord of demons named Aeshma. In my quest to understand this demon, I uncovered more information about an old, old religion I’d never heard of that shares enough similarities with the religion I’ve built in ACHILLEA to freak me out.

The same thing happened to a friend of mine who accidentally wrote part of the Kalevala after the fact.

Beyond that, I have a lot to update you on about my projects and how much I’ve gotten done in the past week.

So this video covers the glimmers of Zoroastrianism in ACHILLEA, my editing on current projects, and the ten chapters I have read of EMERGENCE, as well as the new workspace.

Happy New Year to all of you! May 2017 be sweet to you.

Check out the #SamWIP category every Monday to hear about Sam’s current projects!

S.K. Balk lives in the frozen wasteland of Northern Michigan. She is the author of the dystopian medical sci-fi THE BLOOD OF NERYS (also available in print).

#SamWIP: I Moved My Desk

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Coming off the holiday season, and trying to squeeze in today’s word count…so I’m skipping the video.

I have updates on several fronts:

  • Christmas
  • Writing Space
  • Story Progress
  • Personal Writings


Obviously, Christmas just happened. It’s been busier than I typically appreciate. I’ve done a lot of driving and I still have miles to go this coming weekend. But the tone is pretty low-key, so that’s nice. So far I’ve gotten an electric blanket, coffee, stuff I bought for myself (because I can), some REALLY nice sheets, assorted drinkware, a television for the household, and some other odds and ends. Totally winning on the gift-giving front as well.

The family spirit is a little broken this year. A lot of us are going through some pretty personal shit. We’re putting on good faces for the family, but the subdued sentiment is still there. I get the foreboding sense that the next few years are going to be extraordinarily difficult. My sister and I were talking about it today. We have some things to prepare for. Ugly things. Things most people have to go through at some point, but I despise when life catches me unawares.

The interesting thing about this Christmas is that there are more children in the family now. I have to be a responsible adult who is cool to children. I’m still looking for my comfort zone on that. I’ve never liked children, but there are kids in my life now who are pretty cool, so I’m trying to learn how to be a cool auntie.

I bought myself a book of war texts to beef up my writing. It has The Art of War, The Prince, On War, and Letters to His Generals. Already started on it. I’m ecstatic. Strangely enough, I’ve never read The Art of War. It’s this really fancy hardcover edition with a slipcase.

Writing Space

I’m currently in the process of cleaning out the room that has been My Office. I haven’t really used it at all. There are reasons for that.

  1. The catbox is in there so it smells like poo 85% of the time.
  2. There’s a baby gate up in the doorway to keep the dogs from eating said poo, which makes the room a pain in the ass to get into.
  3. My chair is not comfortable.

Now. My writing space is supposed to be a comfortable, accessible place for me to be creative and unbothered. Because of these reasons, I haven’t used the office for writing, and because of that, this room is being wasted.

I’ve moved my desk and my bookcase into the Master Bedroom, which is like…15 x 14. There’s plenty of space in here. Husband doesn’t ever hang out in here.

With the room cleared out, we can turn it into a guest room. It also doubles as a good place for people to hide when they’ve had enough of the rest of the household. We have a big place, but it has a lot of people and a lot of pets in it, so it can be hard to find a quiet place to just BE. I’m an advocate for people having a quiet place to think and hide. All of us need one from time to time. It helps us make sense of our thoughts and form plans for how to deal with the problems we’re going through at the time.

It’s a work in progress, but I hope to have it cleared out in the next couple of weeks.

Story Progress

Discipline…still working on this. I’ve been pretty good up until Christmas. Arguably, I should be able to take a break during Christmas, but by next Christmas I want to be good enough not to need to do this. I should be able to bust out 1000 words every day, no problem. This is not beyond my skill set.

The story I keep talking about (still no title on this one) is shaping up nicely. I had a friend read it, and he says it’s pretty good. I’m forming connections with the characters and learning who they are better. I’ve got a good sense of where it’s going. Ideas are evolving.

I just made it to 40K last week, so that’s good news. I think this one’s going to be around 90-120K. Depends on how the next section goes.

Odd. I started it as a goal to write smut. Smut hasn’t really happened yet, so I’ll be dialing that up this week.

Personal Writings

I mentioned I was shooting for 1000 words a day. I actually HAVE achieved this every day except for Christmas Day itself. I’ve been taking some time to write personal works. I have started a negative thoughts journal. I keep it at work for obvious reasons.

The other thing I’m starting on is a deeply personal project about what I’m going through right now with my mom. I don’t know if it will ever get published, but I hope that it helps me process what’s going on, and maybe it will help me some day in the future to read over again.

Maybe not.

Alrighty, time to get writing. Hope you all had a nice holiday, too! Good night!

Check out the #SamWIP category every Monday to hear about Sam’s current projects!

S.K. Balk lives in the frozen wasteland of Northern Michigan. She is the author of the dystopian medical sci-fi THE BLOOD OF NERYS (also available in print).

#SamWIP: Habit-Forming

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I’m not going to do a video because I burned through all of my StayFocusd time.

(StayFocusd is a Chrome extension that helps you limit your goofing around time)

I do have some updates, though, that are good news!

Sundays with Tatiana

My graphic designing friend and I have decided to make Sundays a creative day. We’re going to hang out at her place where it’s quiet. She has projects to work on and I have projects to work on. We put on some background TV and get work done with minimal distractions. It’s good to around someone who is taking their creative endeavors seriously. I am actually productive when we hang out.

On that note, we started watching Westworld (HIGHLY recommend).

Setting Goals

I recently read this article about Stephen King’s writing habits. Everything on the list makes sense. I list the 13 secrets in the article here, and I’ll italicize the ones I’m working on and bold the ones I’m comfortable with already:

  1. 1000 words a day, every single day, no matter what.
  2. Combine unlikely connections (like Westworld’s Western theme and AI, for example)
  3. Great opening lines 
  4. Recuperation time after finishing a project
  5. Read a lot
  6. Finish a draft in three months or less
  7. Keep your purpose in mind (hint: it isn’t money)
  8. Use personal experiences to make it real, and then make it more real
  9. Form routines, and make ‘writing time’ a ritual that trains your brain to write.
  10. Appreciate all forms of feedback
  11. Write how you want and don’t shy away from anything
  12. Keep it simple enough to set a scene, but leave enough for the reader to fill in
  13. Remove all distractions. Isolate yourself with the story.

Right now, my biggest focus is to write SOMETHING every day. I count it if I’m editing, though. Editing is much slower than writing and doesn’t add a lot of new words, but I’m generally happy if I’ve stayed on task and made significant progress, so I don’t mind. I’m on a roll right now!

Forming healthy, consistent habits has always been a challenge though. The fever of NaNo gives way to the lethargy of winter, and by spring I’m just in Fuck It Mode. I need to keep at it. Practice puts me at my best level of skill, and I do have a lot of great ideas that I make excuses to avoid. It’s always daunting once I get to the middle of a project, and it’s too easy to walk away.

[GHISLAIN]; or, that smutteh novel I’ve been hinting at…

This book doesn’t have a title yet, but I have it saved under GHISLAIN, which is the name of the reaper/shinigami that haunts my main character.

I’ve been shifting tense from third person past to third person present. It fits the story a lot better and I like it. However, when you’ve written 30,000+ words, suddenly deciding to change your verb tense is labor intensive. I’ve spent several days on this now. I’ve added a few thousand words because I’m also editing a bit, but I definitely haven’t hit 1000 a day because it’s slower.

However, getting a closer look at it is making my heart happy. It’s in good shape to be what I want it to be.

And I’ve talked about it with a few people, and they seem pretty excited about the concept, so I’m motivated to work hard on it. I’m liking this project so far.

A Shiny for Trick

I mentioned a loooong time ago that this project was complete. Frankie and I have been tiptoeing around discussions regarding the cover. But, she’s been reading it and I got some good feedback, so now I’m feeling pretty confident about it.

We’re getting closer to publication on this one!

That’s all I’ve got for now. Back to work with me!

Check out the #SamWIP category every Monday to hear about Sam’s current projects!

S.K. Balk lives in the frozen wasteland of Northern Michigan. She is the author of the dystopian medical sci-fi THE BLOOD OF NERYS (also available in print).

Our books are HALF OFF right now!


Sam says:

OK, normally I’m not one for shameless plugs. I mean, I know I’m supposed to try to market my book, but I’ve been pretty lazy about it. I figure it will be easier to market if I have more variety to offer.

Disclaimer aside…can we talk about this AMAZING OFFER?!?

Our print publisher, Blurb, is offering 50% off its books. Yes, the ad says “photo books,” but I’ve found that any time they run an ad, it applies to my book at checkout as well. So if you go to purchase either (or BOTH?!) of our books, MALEVOLENCE by F.R. Donaldson or THE BLOOD OF NERYS by S.K. Balk, you can get it for 50% off between now and November 29…INCLUDING SHIPPING!!! 

I know there are over a hundred of you followers out there. Maybe you’re following because you find us entertaining (love you!), or maybe you’re waiting for the right book.

But…HALF OFF?! And that INCLUDES SHIPPING. Seriously!

Like, this would be a fantastic time for me to stock up on hardcopies (because I also get half off, and the more I buy, the cheaper it gets as it is). But, let’s be real…in two days, it’s going to be Black Friday. And this is one of the biggest shopping weekends of the year.

If you’ve got a friend who loves to read and might be interested in the stories we’ve written, there hasn’t been a better time to give it a whirl.

Blurb runs these discounts quite often, I find, but 50% off is about as deep a discount as I’ve seen. I’m excited to tell you about this. I hope you’re excited to hear it!

And if our stories aren’t your thing, no hard feelings. Writers tend to be pretty noncompetitive. Readers are as special and unique as writers are. Finding an author you enjoy is like finding a secret best friend, and finding readers that like you is like finding out you have a secret admirer. It’s a pretty awesome, special relationship. So if our books aren’t to your liking, but you do follow and enjoy this blog, we’d really appreciate if you’d just share this offer with your friends. If someone is out there that might enjoy our stories, we want them to be able to take advantage of this amazing deal, too.

Thanks guys! We love you so very much!

Happy holidays to you and your families, whichever holiday(s) you celebrate! Love and joy and peace and all those warm fuzzy things!

–Sam and Frankie (penned by Sam)


#SamWIP: What is this monstrosity? (I like it!)

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Check out the #SamWIP category every Monday to hear about Sam’s current projects!

S.K. Balk lives in the frozen wasteland of Northern Michigan. She is the author of the dystopian medical sci-fi THE BLOOD OF NERYS (also available in print).

#SamWIP: Well. Na2NoWriMo?

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I think I’m just going to write two books.

Yeah, I said it.

November is a weird month for me. I know a lot of people look at our burgeoning word counts and think we’re something that’s somewhat superhuman. It hardly even looks fair. NaNoWriMo was put in place for the struggling writer to have an attainable goal. It’s not meant to be crushed. It’s not meant to be a place where established writers gloat about smashing records.

So for starters…sorry about that.

Recently, a fellow Wrimo asked how I do it. The answer is pretty simple: shove aside the distractions and surrender to the plot. Good characters with a goal in mind should pretty much write themselves if you give them the effort to do it with.

But to balance out that scale…remember, since you’ve been here this whole time…Frankie and I are seldom this productive. It’s pretty much a November-confined awesomeness. I can’t answer for Frankie, but for me I know it has something to do with the camaraderie of all the other writers geeking about being creative at the same time. Of course, part of it is because I am insanely competitive. Word sprints get me every time. I’ll sprint even if I don’t think I am ready to sprint. And then I’ll usually have the highest word count in a sprint (though Mandie gives me a run for my money for certain!). Anything less than that gives me the grumbles.

What I really need to be able to do is funnel that power into writing throughout the rest of the year, and there so far I have fallen a little flat. I find all the excuses again outside of November. I’m going to try to hone my discipline.

Writing consistently gives me a huge influx of ideas. If I can keep the energy going, I have a lot to say. I have so many plot bunnies right now begging indulgence…so many ideas I need to check out.

And for that reason, I think I’m just going to write two books. I have this toxic romance brewing in my imagination that needs out. I also have a couple of half-finished novels that I feel better about now. I’m probably not going to finish the second book this month, but hopefully I can get a good jump on it.

Back to the actual update, though.

Frankie’s right. I have 45K written (45,602). My goal is to have it finished by the halfway point, Nov. 15. The book may need an additional 5-15K, but shouldn’t need much more than that. I love it again, thank goodness. The characters are getting to be pretty interesting. I am having a little bit of trouble in key places. There are a few scenes in the middle I blanked on and skipped. And then there’s the loose ends at the end that I’m having trouble keeping concise without it getting boring. Honestly, though…that’s the kind of stuff I save for editing. If I can’t figure it out soon, I’ll probably just leave it for now and get back to it in a few months.

And maybe I really can finish a full second book because…well, I have a 9-day vacation. No joke. I always like to be able to burn up my accrued Paid Time Off (the best benefit an employer can offer, in my opinion) in November. Usually, I take it earlier than this. Last year I think I took it between the 9th-15th and the weekends thereabouts. This year, I didn’t have enough saved up to take it earlier because I took time off for my mom. I’ll be visiting Jori and Kevin for part of it and we usually get quite a lot done together. For another part of it, I’ll be visiting my mom, and she doesn’t have the internet (which does WONDERS for productivity, let me tell you!).

It’s funny…I talk to a lot of people in November, and this has been an odd year. Everyone I know is either kicking butt and almost done or at least a week behind. I have yet to meet anyone who’s hovering right around goal.

Back to Life…

I think most of us can agree that 2016 has sucked pretty badly. It was one of my worst years mentally. The world looks like it’s going to shit. I hardly wrote much at all.

So if you’re still here and you’re still reading this, let’s make the world a better place in 2017. Try to accentuate the positives and lift up good people. Try to be a better person yourself, even if that means confronting the ugly truths you don’t even like to admit to yourself. The world needs better people in it. The world needs some hope and affection.

The world needs some doers.

Right now it seems like a lot of us are just kind of…watching. And complaining.

Be the change you want to see in the world.

We’ll talk more about what we’re planning in 2017 soon enough. For me, I’m working on tackling some debt, aggressively, to try to make room in my life for the idea of children (if the world isn’t in some kind of nuclear winter by then). I’m reflecting on the state of my mind because my fail-safe defenses…you know, failed.


Mental Health.


I can write more. I just haven’t. But I need the finances to improve my mental health, and I need the mental health to write. The words simply don’t happen if I’m exhausted by my own brain. So that’s the rough outline of my plan.

If you’re also out there writing, may the word gods be merciful. Good luck!

Check out the #SamWIP category every Monday to hear about Sam’s current projects!

S.K. Balk lives in the frozen wasteland of Northern Michigan. She is the author of the dystopian medical sci-fi THE BLOOD OF NERYS (also available in print).

#SamWIP: NaNoWriMo – I might hate this story but I am halfway done anyway

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This story is difficult for me. I think it’s good. I like it. But I’m not swooning. It’s not my genre, it’s in a verb tense I am not used to, from a POV I don’t use, in a setting I despise.

But I’m half done anyway. I’m going to do this.

I only see my goals.

I don’t believe in failure.

‘Cause I know the smallest voices they can make it major.

–Lukas Graham


#SamWIP: Jumped In Already

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Hey all! Happy Halloween!

Or, as I like to say…Happy NaNo Eve!

NaNoWriMo is here! 30 days of 50,000 words toward our newest novels! October and November are such exciting times. All of the writers are getting excited about their stories, talking about them, stocking up on all of the snacks…

Dear readers…please keep us in your thoughts. This is that insane time where hundreds of thousands of writers are feverishly creating at the same time. We will have our joys and our downfalls, or victories and failures. We will laugh aloud in an empty room or stare at a blank screen in frustration. It’s an…interesting time.

Frankie and I are going to do our best to keep content flowing through the blog. However, our novels take priority in the month of November.

If you’re participating in NaNoWriMo, remember!

  1. Stay hydrated and well-fed.
  2. Get enough sleep.
  3. If the ideas hit you at bed time, GET UP.
  4. You CAN do this. DO NOT GIVE UP.
  5. You can edit a bad page. You cannot edit a blank one.
  6. Writing is so much easier when you have at least one friend to cheer you on.
  7. HAVE FUN!

Alright, everyone…HERE WE GOOOO!!!!