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Writing While Sheltered in Place

I weirdly don’t have a ton to say in this post. At least I don’t think I do when I’m starting to write the post. But sheltering in place is weird and has caused me to want to do a lot of stream of consciousness writing that I’ve ultimately not posted. So we’re going to roll with it.

With everything going on in the world with COVID-19, it’s not particularly shocking that I’m one of the many people who is in a state of shelter in place due to the growing1As of when I’m writing this on March 28th. threat of the pandemic. My state, Ohio, was one of the first states to close schools and issue shelter in place orders. This means that at the time of writing this, I’ve been at home pretty much constantly for the past two weeks.

I am not a particularly extroverted person. That said, I do enjoy small amounts of chosen variety in my day. Whether that be getting to go to the grocery store, eating at my favorite Chinese restaurant during the workday, or whatever, having small amounts of time where I don’t feel like I’m stuck in the same place is nice.

Needless to say, I’m not mentally handling things particularly well at the moment. There are varying reasons for this — one of which I’ll talk about on the blog in the future. That said, I feel like my days currently are significantly more chaotic and busy than they were before all of this came to pass. I recognize that I am fortunate in that I still have a job that I’m working 8 hours a day and that I am able to do it completely remotely2Considering my typical commute is 40 minutes on way if there are no other cars on the road, working remotely is a reprieve from that at least.. That said, I find myself feeling so drained that I don’t want to do anything productive, including blogging, by the time the day ends.

In addition to this post, I have posts prescheduled for April 13th, April 20th, and May 4th. All of those posts were written in either January or February and they’re all Pokemon related. I don’t know how much I’ll be blogging over the next few weeks, especially since my blog posts don’t generate comments anymore — 3 total for 2020 so far. I need some level of human interaction in my productivity to stay sane at this point. I hope to do more here, as there’s plenty I want to write about. Hell, I have a massive book update I want to share. But whether or not I have the mental energy is another matter.

Before I end this post, I do want to remind you to check in on those you care about. Clearly this means family and friends, but also people you talk to primarily through text, social media, or other distance communication. You never know who it’ll help.

What’s Coming in 2020

With the beginning of the year upon us, I wanted to give a quick update as to what will be coming down the line of this blog in 2020. I’ll be reviewing 2019’s blog goals next week, as well as discussing why I won’t be doing a new set of blog goals in 2020. That said, I wanted to lay out a bit of what this blog is going to look like in 2020, as well as why.

Let’s start with content, both in terms of typing and frequency. Up to this point, I’ve been doing a post every Monday. This is the schedule I’ve followed for around two years now. While I don’t want to change that schedule too much, posting every single Monday might be a bit aggressive of an ask for most of this coming year. I have a few projects coming down the line that are going to take up a significant amount of my time, meaning I want to be able to give myself greater flexibility in when I write for the blog. Starting in February, here’s what the structure for the posting schedule will look like.

  • First Monday of the month – Video game-related post (This will be the My Pokemon Gym posts through August)
  • Second Monday of the month – TBD
  • Third Monday of the month – Writing-related post (WIP updates, original short stories, etc)
  • Fourth Monday of the month – Break week
  • Fifth Monday of the month, if applicable – TBD

You’ll notice that I have two different weeks that are currently listed as to be determined. In the case of the fifth Monday of the month, this is because such a situation only occurs four times in 2020 (March, June, August, and November). Considering how infrequent that is, I think I’ll just play that by ear. As for the second week of the month, I want to keep that week open for posting things that don’t fit under one of the two other categories I’ve listed up there. This would include things like new editions of Every Internet Recipe Ever, long-form posts1The long-form posts could end up being about video games or writing, though aren’t necessarily. I know for sure one of the ones I’m currently working on is video game related, but we’ll see beyond that., my year-end book review posts, and the occasional random post that doesn’t fit anywhere else.

Beyond that, there are a few posts that will randomly go up when it makes sense for them to do so. This would include quarterly podcast announcement posts, other Patreon announcements, or charity-related items. I’d love to get back into doing author interviews, but we’ll see if I have time.

You may have noticed the shift in layout of the blog back to a simpler layout. Part of why I’m cutting down the blogging schedule is to be able to spend more time on the writing/editing projects that I do work for as noted on my Audio and Print Editing Services page. Historically, I’ve only been able to keep this updated roughly once every six months or so, though my hope is to change that going forward. I’d also like to build out a portfolio of stuff here, so there may be some backend rearranging that isn’t noticeable on the blog itself, but will allow for some new things to be rolled out later this year.

I will continue to follow my current Patreon reward schedule for those who support me there. Patrons receive various rewards, including a monthly podcast, a monthly bonus blog post, and a monthly signed picture that isn’t of me, depending on what tier they support me in. If you’re interested in becoming a patron and helping me be able to do the work I do, please consider supporting me on Patreon.

2019 Writing Goals – Q3 Review

Finally. We’re starting to get back into the nice weather part of the year. Just don’t tell Ohio that. When I wrote this on the 30th of September, it was nearly 90 degrees. Because we can’t have nice weather.

In going to write this post, I noticed I was a bit of a failure in my Q2 goal post — in that when I copy/pasted the post from Q1 to get my formatting, I completely forgot to change the opening paragraph away from what I had written in Q1. So um…oops?

If you want to go back and read the original goal post, you can find it here. That said, I’ve also put something of a summary of the goals in with my progress on each of them below. This is mostly for those who are lazy and don’t want to click back to the post, but it’s also for me and ease of copying when I write posts later in the year. Because deep down, I was the lazy one all along.

Goal 1: Blog Growth?

I’m not going to bury the lede here. It’s been a great year for my blog’s traffic. The blog recently crossed the 12,000 hit threshold for the year. It’s on track to more than triple my traffic in 2018. I’m overwhelmed by the support I’ve gotten on this blog, particularly for the video game posts I’ve written, along with the short stories that have been my bread and butter since this blog started.

As for more specifics for Q3, see the chart below. I’m hoping to say we’ve broken the 15,000 hit threshold by the end of the year, though we’ll have to see how that goes as we get closer.

Q3 2019 Site Stats

Goal 2: Finish a Second Draft of the WIP by July (WIP Update Section)

Since I finished this goal prior to July, I’m going to use this post to give a short update as to where I am with my current work in progress. I’m technically on draft four at this point, though this is a pretty recent development. I sat the manuscript down and didn’t touch it for nearly two full months. In mid-September, I picked it back up again and am currently reading through it and making minor changes here and there to wording, flow, and other grammatical things — as well as the occasional continuity error I find. Once I get my feedback from my editor, I’ll be working on that, as well as trying to frame out my entire plot visually so that I make sure I’m not making any massive continuity errors as I write. I think I’ve done a pretty good job with that to this point, but I’m sure I’ll catch something as I’m working through it.

Update: I’ll be talking about this goal in a bit more detail later this month.

Goal 3: Take on Four New Freelance Projects This Year

Much like Q2, this is a good news, bad news entry. I actually have three major projects lined up to work on in the future — including one I’ve read a very early copy of and am excited to shout about from the rooftops once it’s published. The down side is that at least one of those projects has been pushed to 2020 for sure at this point. I’d much rather not make this goal personally and have the writers I’m working with turn out the best version of their projects. It’s still a tad saddening though, as I like hitting goals.

How are you doing on your 2019 goals? If you’re a blogger, podcaster, YouTuber, or other creator, I’d love to hear how you’re doing. Sound off in the comments.

Like the work I do? Want to help me make more, better-written content? Consider pledging your support on Patreon.

Post 300*

It’s my 300th post! Let’s throw a party!

Matan Segev

Wait. What’s that little asterisk doing there? Shit. This means I’m doing more than throwing a party, doesn’t it.

I track my site analytics obsessively. It’s something I’ve done since the very first blog I had when I was 17. I’ve gotten much better tools and analytic programs to use in the time since then, but it’s a long-standing obsession I’ve had. When a blog platform has good analytics, it makes my heart sing. As an aside story to show how much this matters to me, I was considering moving this site to SquareSpace in early 2018. I love their user interface and quite enjoyed the site building experience their software provided. That said, I chose not to make the move because SquareSpace didn’t allow me to upload historical analytical data for my site1I have no idea if this is still true. I did reach out to them to see if anything changed and will edit this post when I hear back.. Analytics matter to me a ton is my point.

That’s part of why it pains me a bit personally when I directly do something that impacts my analytics. If something weird happens where bot traffic is counted as real traffic or real comments end up in my spam, that’s all annoying, but fine. But I make conscious efforts to avoid making any sort of measurable direct impact to my own analytics. Beyond that, the past six months or so have been fantastic for the growth of my blog traffic and (to a lesser extent) comments and subscriptions. This means that trends in my data have become easier to identify, particularly when it comes to the type of content those reading my blog like to read.

In looking through my data for February 2019, I noticed that every single post in my top ten visited posts feel into one of two categories — video game posts or writing posts. The video game category is pretty straight forward, as I write a good bit about Fire Emblem and Pokemon. The writing category is a bit broader, though the traffic does tend to come from writing advice posts I write, as well as updates regarding my own works in progress.

I got to digging some more and noticed that this trend has been going on for a while now. In fact, since February 2018, there has only been one month where every single one of my top ten posts didn’t fall under my video games, writing, or business categories. That month was November 2018, where five of my top ten posts didn’t belong to any of these categories. This was just as much poor categorization as anything else on my part, as four of those five posts were about NaNoWriMo2The fifth post was one of my internet recipe parodies..

Last year, I wrote about needing direction on my blog. I did a pretty large redesign, got some new logos from the talented Tim Kilkenny, and did a massive overhaul of my freelancing related pages. That said, I never really made any sort of change in direction on my blog. I didn’t totally know what I wanted to do, nor did I completely know what I wanted to be writing about on a week-to-week basis. Now, I think I’ve finally found that.

Going forward, the vast majority of my blog posts will focus on one of three categories.

  • Video games: This category will be similar to what I do for video games now — a Nintendo-focused series of posts primarily based around theorycrafting, game reviews, and game analysis. I’ll likely devote most of the posts I write in this category to the Pokemon and Fire Emblem franchises, though I’ll do the occasional post about other games here and there3In the exceptionally unlikely event that the NCAA Football series ever gets revived, you can bet your bank account that I’ll be writing about that on occasion. It’d also be the lone video game series that would cause me to consider YouTubing again..
  • Business/Finance: This category will likely see the most change going forward, having less of a focus on the personal business posts I’ve written in the past. Instead, I’ll generally style my business and finance posts similar to the advice style posts I’ve done in the past, such as my fallacies of training post.
  • Writing: This category will include updates on my work in progress4Aside from updates I give on them in my goal updates., various short stories I’ll write here and there, advice posts for writers and editors, and any new posts I do for my #NaNoWriMoTips series in November.

Those categories, perhaps not shockingly, are the same three categories that have made up the vast majority of my traffic over the past year. There will also be a fourth group of posts that you’ll see occasionally. I’m tentatively classifying these as miscellaneous posts in my head. The miscellaneous posts will include any site news related posts (such as this one as well as my goal updates), random one-off posts that I had pre-scheduled prior to this announcement5By my count, there’s two of those scheduled between now and the end of April., and the occasional humor post that isn’t directly related to one of the categories above (think the internet recipe parody posts). There may still be the occasional book review post, as I do have writer friends whose work I’d like to help publicize, though I’ll touch on that more in a moment.

With all that in mind, I’ve already started archiving any past posts that don’t fit one of the above categories in some capacity. Though I’m not exactly sure to what extent I’ll end up archiving, what it will do is to throw my post count off. Even though this is technically my 300th post, you’ll likely see far fewer results on the blog as a result of this archiving process. In my initial estimate, I’m thinking the blog post count will be in the 175-200 post range once I’m done with clean up, though that number could fluctuate anywhere from 150-2256I’m writing this before I start the clean up in earnest, so I’m making massive guesses based solely off of the number of posts I’ve published in each current category. Depending on how much miscategorization I’ve done, as well as how many overlapping posts are in multiple categories from when I was doing my estimate, the number could jump or fall..

I’ll also be doing a good bit of clean up on my various non-post site pages, though there won’t be as much archiving going on there. Instead, I’ll be revamping the pages related to me, as well as creating a new page aimed at publicizing the works of those who are friends of the site or whose work I support in some capacity. Since this post will be going up in late March, I’m going to say that my hope is to have said page cleanup and creation done by the end of April.

I want to take a moment to thank those of you who have stuck with me and supported me since I launched this blog endeavor new in 2016, including those of you who followed me over from my old site and have been reading my writing since 2012 or earlier. For those who are new, welcome and/or hi. I hope to see you around the comments.

Book Update

Remember that I’m writing a book? Well, some of you remember at least. Those of you who are a bit newer…hey! I’m writing a book.

Hey, I'm as surprised it's still happening as you are. Image credit: memegenerator.net
Hey, I’m as surprised it’s still happening as you are. Image credit: memegenerator.net

Let’s rewind for a moment.

In 2013, I wrote a pair of short stories for my old blog. The first was a standalone short story called Soma which dealt the loss of a loved one. The second was a dark series of short stories based off of Plutchik’s Wheel of Emotions originally titled Ode to Tori. Both tales were very well received by readers of the blog. I’d like to believe that the strength of writing displayed in Soma helped me make it to the semifinals of Twenty Something Bloggers’ Bootleg Awards.

Around the time I finished up the Plutchik series (whose name had changed at least once by this point), a couple of my readers became very vocal in encouraging me to publish my short stories in a book. I’d considered it previously, however I wasn’t sure that my work was good enough. I had a couple of people try to encourage me to do the same thing with the NaNoWriMo story in 2012, but I didn’t feel like it was time for a myriad of reasons.

In late 2013, a pair of ebook related items helped to motivate me towards making my decision to publish. First, a fellow blogger, Amanda Osborn, published her first ebook, One Word Says it All: Stories From My Year Abroad in ChinaNot too long after, Jen Glantz of The Things I Learned From wrote a guest post for my old blog talking about how she wrote an ebook. After both of those items came to fruition, I decided to put together stories and self-publish a book.

I had this grand plan of being able to edit and self-publish the book before the start of spring of 2014. Work got in the way — frequently. I spent quite a bit of time planning out other things. Not to mention I got engaged((Which actually was pretty heavily related to that whole planning out other things item)). Needless to say it was a busy time. But mid-summer of last year, I had a book file ready to edit.

I got the bright idea to do editing through a peer review process. My original batch of people I sent the book was seven people strong, including a published author of dark fiction((Considering the content of my book, this is right up my alley)). A few people (I’ll save most of the thank yous to the end of this post) provided wonderful feedback on my work. That said, I ran into a bit of a problem of some of those who had offered to peer review my book not doing so. Everyone was reviewing out of their own free will, it was to be a bit expected. With that said, it was still pretty depressing. Combine that with feedback from one reviewer that completely contradicting everything else I was hearing, and the process became fairly depressing.

Over the course of the next three months or so (bringing us to November of 2014), additional reviewers took a look at my book and gave me their feedback. One of those individuals was Kat Argo of A Red Rover. She provided me wonderful feedback on the book, which would have been fantastic on its own. That said, when she said she enjoyed the book enough that she’d make her publisher aware of the book and see what they thought, I was ecstatic.

A couple of months later and here we are. I have great news. My book is going to be published by an actual publisher.

Visual approximation of my reaction when I got the email back letting me know the publisher was interested. Image credit: giphy.com

I don’t have a ton of information to share at this point. More of that will be coming over the next few months. Here’s what I’m comfortable telling at this point.

  • Said book is going to be published in either late 2015 or early 2016. As soon as I know more about dates, I’ll be sure to let everyone know.
  • My book is currently in the hands of an editor with the publisher, so I wait a bit more at the moment…but with good reason.
  • The book is a collection of short stories and short stories series including the two that I mentioned above.
  • There will be 10 short stories in the book, 5 of which are completely new across the board. 4 of the remaining stories were published in part on my old site, but have been pretty heavily edited from their original versions as I worked to improve them. The tenth story, Soma, is (currently) nearly identical to its original form due to the near universal love for that story.
  • When I was originally considering self-publishing, there were two people who won free copies of the book via various methods. This will still be the case even though it’s being published by someone other than me (I’ll even pay for the books myself if I have to).

That’s all the more I have at the moment. I do want to give a thank you to the following people for all their help at various points in the process.

  • Erin V. from Coma Diary, Samantha from Jill of All Trades, Kat from A Red Rover, Stephanie of Music School Dropout, Erin M., Anna, Mike, and my fiancee for all their feedback and assistance at various points in the editing process. I’d also like to thank another editor who shall remain unnamed for showing me that not all feedback should be taken seriously.
  • Thank you again to Kat for giving me the opportunity to work with a real publisher.
  • Erin M. and Samantha are owed an additional thank you for their assistance in rewriting parts of my book (particularly dialogue).
  • As mentioned above, thanks again to Amanda of Musical Poem, Jen of The Things I Learned From, and Tim for their (likely unintentional) inspiration towards me actually writing a book, as well as Erin M.’s very intentional motivating me to do so.
  • There were a few people instrumental in planting ideas in my head that later became stories in this book. To which I’d like to thank Erin M., Krista, Karolina, and my fiancee. I’m sure there are a handful of people who gave me ideas for lines/characters, however I’ll thank them in the book itself.
  • Finally, a quick thank you to everyone else who has been reading my blog, whether that be for 4 days or 4 years. Your support, commentary, and visiting has helped keep my motivation going.

So…woo! Yes. I used an exclamation point non-sarcastically((Really.)).