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New! Dedicated Author Newsletters!

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I think there is no better brew than a hot cup of tea. Sam, on the other hand, thinks a strong coffee is better. I love My Little Ponies, whereas Sam loves video games, especially JRPGs.

I love a good old thrilling adventure story, characters with grit and determination and good old heroes. Sam likes stories with slow destructions and doomed love. So much ANGST!

The thing is, everyone, likes something, and it might not be the same as the next person. So we know that not everyone who follows our blog is interested in both of us or perhaps every article we write. Sam and I write different genres, we have different styles and different interests. It’s only natural that people want to follow one or other, sometimes even both.

Taking this into consideration, we decided it was time to split…emails. We now have dedicated email newsletters, one each, so that you can keep up to date with whoever you want to! We will both be posting a newsletter perhaps once a month or so, therefore we won’t flood your inboxes every day. We hope to use the newsletter to make announcements or release important information about our writing and upcoming books and such. We might even use it for polls or behind the scenes information on our characters and stories.

So if you are interested in hard-hitting, psychological science fiction, with complex characters and exciting plot, follow Frankie’s newsletter!

If you like Grimdark, adult, woman-centric epic fantasy with the occasional toxic romance or medical sci-fi, follow Sam’s newsletter!

And share them around with people you think might be interested!! We might even offer the occasional free peek in the newsletters! 😀  Links also added to the top pf the page 😀

Share it! You know you want to! 😀


#SamWIP: I Moved My Desk

Sam av

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

Sam av

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).

Frankie and Sam are Winning NaNoWriMo!

Frankie Av

Hi all, Frankie here!
I know the blog has not been regularly updated as usual, but as you are aware, Sam and I are taking part in NaNoWriMo this month. It is always a busy time for us; writing for hours every day, trying to get the first drafts of our next books ready!
I’m pleased to say it will not take the entire month to do this. We are already at the forty-thousand word mark and both of us hope to crash through the fifty-thousand word barrier soon. This does not mean that either book will be finished at this point, but it does mean we are closer to completing our first drafts! At present, my NaNoWriMo word count is 40,359 words. I believe Sam is just over 45. With a full tally of approximately eighty-thousand words for Emergence, it is well over halfway written! I am managing to get at least a chapter a day written, and on good days I’m managing up to four!

Unfortunately, I had a fibromyalgia flare up a few days ago. For the first time in a few years it actually left me quite immobilized. I was unable to walk properly, or move easily and had to take a day or two away from writing. It also resulted in my left hand seizing up so I couldn’t write as much as I would have liked. Thankfully, the main symptoms have began to disappear so I am back on my feet and raring to go, but my left hand remains terribly painful and does not function well.

For the life of me I couldn’t remember injuring it at all, but today I remembered I caught my hand between trolleys in the supermarket at the end of last week. It jammed tight when someone pushed their trolley into the bay at the same time I did mine! I had to tug my hand free, but at the time it just smarted a little and didn’t cause me any problems so I thought no more on it. Well, it sure is causing me problems now! There is a possibility I strained dorsal carpometacarpal ligaments, which would account for the fact I am unable to move my hand in a normal range of motion, as well as the odd painful bumps on the back of my hand. I’m treating it with painkillers, heat/cold and splinting. Because of this I am still able to type a little. It’s a good job I’m right handed! I won’t let it stop me writing Emergence, that’s for sure!

Anyway, that’s where we are at the moment, and why there’s not been frequent updates! Hopefully our normal schedule will resume after November, but we will be in editing mode by then, so will still be busy. Massive thanks to everyone who is supporting us, we really appreciate it!

F.R. Donaldson lives in scenic Scotland. She is the author of the psychological sci-fi MALEVOLENCE


#SamWIP: Facebook Purge & a Few Words

Sam av

Today is one of the too many days that I am disappointed in humans.