Jordan Castillo Price's Blog
September 19, 2017
I’ve been having some luck lately with dictation software. Does it give me those 5- and 10,000 word days other authors seem to get from it? No. And the problem isn’t with the software–it’s that I simply don’t think that quickly. Frankly, my prose is cleaner when I sit down at the keyboard and type. I’m a pretty fast typer when I know what I want to say, and thankfully, I’m not suffering from any repetitive stress injuries.
But my avoidance factor should not be underestimated.
I discovered myself in the kitchen making hard-boiled eggs in the pressure cooker* during my designated writing time. I have no idea how this happens. I just came to in the kitchen setting a timer and the pressure cooker hissing away. I realized there’d be several minutes of egg-steaming followed by several more minutes of egg-resting. Precious minutes where I could be working on my scene.
And then I realized my phone was at hand.
I don’t use any one method to dictate. If I’m at the computer and making a lot of typos, I might pop on my headset and turn on the dictation software (Dragon for Mac) and start speaking instead of typing while I watch the words scroll along the document. This isn’t an efficient way to do it. It’s more of a “my fingers aren’t cooperative” way of doing it.
But a better way to dictate is to record your voice on another device (such as your phone) and then transcribe the recording in Transcription Mode. By doing that this morning, I managed to squeeze out a few hundred more words even though I’d somehow blacked out and regained consciousness while pressure-cooking eggs. And surprisingly, all the beeping timers didn’t register.
“On a scale of one to ten, how anxious are you feeling right now Russian Mark”
Now it’s just a matter of figuring out how this Russian Mark dude fits into the whole scene.
*If you have a pressure cooker or Instant Pot and you like hard boiled eggs, I heartily recommend combining the two. The eggs are super easy to peel. Here’s the method I used.
September 11, 2017
Back when I worked at the library, we always got a kick out of the “organize your life” type books that were returned grossly late. But I spotted Grit by Angela Duckworth at my new local library and was determined that would NOT be me! (There’s even three weeks left on my borrowing period. Shh…I did renew it twice but that’s okay!)
I heard the author talk about the stick-to-it-iveness quality of “grit” on the Freakonomics podcast. She’s also got a TED talk which I haven’t yet seen (I’ll link it here and watch it tonight.) But I liked the podcast so much I listened twice.
Grit, she posits, is the main indicator of high achievement in any field. How is grit different than just perseverance or hard work? It’s worth reading about the spelling bee champs, olympic swimmers and other sports professionals she interviewed to find out, because there’s something a little slippery about the concept. I think it boils down to having the right mindset and relishing the hard work rather than just forcing yourself through the paces.
I think I have medium grit. (Anyone who writes novels must have at least some, because they’re such a freaking long slog.) But one tendency I have that I would like improve on is being devastated when I deem a project “unsuccessful.” I definitely learn more from my mistakes and failures and half-baked weird attempts than I do when something’s easy from the start. There’s also some really good stuff in the book about deliberate practice that can apply to writing. I’m trying to apply the mindset to increase my speed. Some weeks are better than others, but I’m sticking to it.
Find Grit on Amazon
September 5, 2017
I’ve always known I would do something creative with my life, but for the first 25 years or so I presumed I would be a visual artist. This past weekend was a very arty weekend involving several gallery trips.
When I see visual art, I often have a sense of “I didn’t do that.” I could have, but I didn’t. And it’s different from when you see people walking up to a color field painting and announce, “I could’ve done that, har har, my stuff should be hanging here and I should have a bunch of money!” No, guy, you couldn’t have done that because you don’t have the context or the lifetime of effort behind you.[image error]
I’m kind of the opposite of that, I have the context and maybe the ability, but once I had my MFA I didn’t put in the time in those social circles, and instead went off to play in punk bands and work a soul-killing office job.
So even when I am enjoying art, I usually do experience a sense of “I didn’t do that.” I’m not sure what I’d call it, maybe a regret that I didn’t have the grit and determination, or maybe I didn’t have the emotional maturity to make the connections. I think that was the major thing. I was too childish. Even at the time I definitely knew I was not ready for grad school but plowed through anyway, and spent most of my time working in an office to pay for my housing.
Toward the end of the weekend, my usual low-level “I didn’t do that” feeling was blown out of the water when I was looking at a piece and enjoying it, glanced down at the artist’s name, and saw the artist was someone from my grad program.
Her life was the life I thought I would have.
I’m not saying it is better than the one I do have. But I’m having some existential distress anyway. It’s like I thought I was driving to the park but took an unintended turn and ended up at the beach. The beach is probably better. But I’m feeling a little distressed about the park, because it seems like it’s now closed and I’m not welcome there. Or maybe that it’s simply so far away, it’s unlikely I’d make it there in my lifetime.
I was trying to work through why the sight of my classmate’s work threw me for a loop and my friend thought I resented her success, but it really wasn’t that at all. It wasn’t envy. It wasn’t about her, it was about me and my path not taken.
In PsyCop, I often see Crash as Vic’s path not taken. I imagine their interactions probably do leave Vic with flashes of “this is not me” and “what is my life?”
What about you? What’s your “path not taken”?
September 1, 2017
Right now I’ve got three lengthy collections/novels free to read on Kindle Unlimited (and available to buy if you’re not on KU.)
[image error]The Starving Years is a fast-paced MMM sci fi thriller. What would happen if the problem of world hunger were a thing of the past? It would go horribly wrong, of course! Read The Starving Years
[image error]Strap in and get ready to navigate the Bermuda Triangle with First Officer Paul and his cool-headed flight attendant Dallas in this interracial sci fi MM romance. Read Turbulence Collection
August 31, 2017
“There’s no good way to say this. Agent NAME is dead.”
“FIRST NAME?” he gasped.
Clearly I am not as invested in this character as her friend is.
August 30, 2017
My current project continues to train my wordcount into something reasonable for a full-time author. I haven’t seen or talked to anyone in almost two weeks* and I’ve been rockin’ and rollin’ on the words. Even when the fabulous Joel Leslie let me know he needed the Hemovore mss for our upcoming audiobook project, and damn it, I hadn’t done the audio edit yet.
I pulled a double Monday and Tuesday and made that happen.
I read something about “stretch goals” being a thing I can use in my deliberate practice. And today, with the audio edits done, I decided to set a really big goal for myself, to be rewarded with an Echo Dot for the basement if I get it.
I’m now 300 words away from a basement Dot, guys. Please send all encouraging vibes my way.
[image error]I think the cool thing about this is not having a convenient Dot by my treadmill, but rather the knowledge of how much is possible. I’ve always said, “I’m a slow writer,” but I’m open to the possibility that reality was more like, “I have unfocused habits and I’ve prioritized other things.”
Currently reading: Grit by Angela Duckworth (highly recommend.)
My future prize, the Echo Dot. SO CLOSE.
*I lied, I did talk to my mom Saturday.
August 26, 2017
Skin After Skin (PsyCop 8) is now in audio! Over 15 hours of Crash goodness voiced by the incomparable Gomez Pugh. Go spend that credit you’ve been hoarding!
And, randomly, it’s #1 in the erotica category, in which I never placed it. There’s a metadata gap where you can’t choose your Audible categories before the fact, all you can do is email their customer service after it publishes. So they did place it in Gay & Lesbian for me but somehow it’s still got an erotica bestseller banner. Not that I’m complaining, I’ll take any banner I can get.
August 24, 2017
Hey, I used to have the anti cat typing program on my old old laptop!
Argh. I’m on an increase-my-wordcount kick, which means long writing days. They are awesome, no complaints there. But then I have to do all my admin later in the day (which I usually use as an avoidance tactic) and I’m really fried.
So I just went through all the effort of forwarding my old PO Box to my new one, then had the thought, “Did I put in the right PO Box number when I filed that form?”
Interestingly enough, when I got the emailed confirmation, I could click through and see what I’d put (yes, it was indeed wrong) and I could also fix it. YAY.
Now I’m off to see what other admin I can make four times as difficult as it needs to be.
August 22, 2017
[image error]A bunch of folks grabbed the first PsyCop, Among the Living, when it was on sale last month…and a bunch more went on to read the whole PsyCop series! But, I know I often pick up a book with the full intention of reading it and then find it moldering behind a bunch of other unread ebooks a few months later.
You’ll be sad if you let PsyCop molder!
August 13, 2017
Hooray, as of today, Gomez and I have sent the Skin After Skin audiobook off to quality control and publication, so it should hit the electronic shelves within the next week or two.
I always imagine this mysterious audio publishing process as a series of elaborate pneumatic tubes.