Okay, kids. Something isn’t working, and I’m pretty sure I know what it is. I have reached that point where I have so much to do that I’m getting overwhelmed and not doing any of it (as evidenced by the 11 books I read this month). Time to re-evaluate and change a few tactics. Because the wrap-up below isn’t pretty.
- I did not write 18k words in Steel Justice this month. I wrote 8k, bringing me to about 49k total.
- The weekend at Broadkill Writer’s retreat got cancelled due to inclement weather.
- I barely touched Steel Shadows, though I did review my editor’s notes and clean up any issues she found.
- I did some minor brainstorming on the short story I need to write, but did not write any actual words.
Even my cat is disappointed with me.
January Book Reviews
January Speculative Chic Contributions
- Write the first draft of that short story, get it critiqued, clean it up, and submit it by the February 28 deadline!
- Complete a full editorial pass of Steel Shadows and return it to my editor for layout.
- Attend Farpoint 2019, where I will conduct my alternate history presentation along with readings, signings, and panels.
- Attend a much-needed writer’s retreat at Broadkill Resort.
- Survive a trip to New York City for the day job.
But wait! Where is adding more words to Steel Justice on that list? It’s not, alas. I needed to take one of the big things off my plate, and priority has to go to the two projects with solid (and much closer) deadlines. I’m looking forward to a productive March, especially since I already have another writing retreat planned in that month.
I already feel a huge load lifted from my shoulders. Now, time to get to work.
Another year, come and gone. As with any year, I’ve had some major successes and minor disappointments. On the writing front, the success was my fourth book published, which means that my series is officially over halfway complete. The fifth book is also in the midst of the publication process. Unfortunately, on the disappointment side, cranking out the sixth book has been like pulling teeth. I’ve missed some goals, but the only thing to do is keep moving forward rather than berating myself for time lost.
Another quiet success is a completed goal that I never advertised publicly. In 2018, I published content on this blog an average of three times a week (M/W/F), with a few weeks at T/Th when scheduling made more sense that way. A lot of that has to do with how much more time I spent reading, allowing book reviews to dominate my posts. According to the Goodreads Reading Challenge, I read 138 titles in 2018 (books, novellas, short stories, and graphic novels). I’m actually so far ahead on my book reviews that I have blog content scheduled through February 2019. I hope to keep this trend going, especially considering the enormity of my physical and electronic to-be-read piles.
Let’s take one final look back, then move on to 2019!
- I had no excuse not to write 15k to 20k in Steel Justice…but I didn’t, and I still have no excuse. I wrote about 3k instead. Vacation and holidays should be the perfect time to write, but I read and LEGOed and spent time with my family instead.
- I did, however, complete my 2018 Resolution Project for my other blog, Speculative Chic! I finished up the Wrinkle in Time series by reading and reviewing An Acceptable Time (link below).
- I also contributed to four group blog posts at Speculative Chic (links below).
- Between Christmas and my birthday on New Years Eve, I also built my largest LEGO set to date (yes, I know I could have used that time for writing). The full Hogwarts set is stunning, with lots of fun architectural details. My build report will appear here soon.
- And finally, I had an amazing vacation with my family on a Caribbean cruise. I read 7 books in 7 days, ate a lot of amazing food, took some lovely naps, and enjoyed a splash of warm before coming home to chilly Maryland.
December Book Reviews
December Speculative Chic Contributions
- Let’s do this! 18k words on Steel Justice, bringing me to 60k words.
- Which should be helped by the writer’s retreat I will be attending at Broadkill Resort one weekend.
- I also need to do a full copy-edit and clean-up pass of Steel Shadows.
- And write a short story to submit to an anthology! (More details on that project forthcoming.)
Through it all, I will continue reading and blogging. What do you have planned for this week, this month, this year? Let’s conquer 2019 together.
And the traditional December round-up for all the new blue police boxes to add to my epic collection! I got lots of awesome Star Wars and Harry Potter gifts (Ravenclaw represent) this year too, but my family and friends know that the TARDIS will always be my first love.
(They also know that I live on coffee, apparently. Handmade mug by Mary K. Cloonan: Frivolous Function and Dysfunction.)
This month, it feels like I wrote all the words, read all the books, and went to all the conventions. Okay, it’s actually about 32k words, 15 novels, 8 short stories, 3 graphic novels, and 2 conventions. Still a hell of a month.
Obviously, that 32k words means that I did NOT “win” NaNoWriMo. As you can see from the chart, I missed the first few days for World Fantasy, wrote for a bit, stalled out for a week, then went hardcore for a few days until Thanksgiving and ChessieCon. In theory, I could have done another 18k words in the time left. But I’ll refer you to what I said in my con report for ChessieCon:
“During some time spent chatting with friends after the panel, mentally moaning to myself that I should have been working on NaNoWriMo, I had a bit of an epiphany. I didn’t sign up for NaNoWriMo this year to write 50 thousand words in 30 days. That would have been nice, but it wasn’t the main point. The main point was to kick myself in the pants and actually get some words written on my the next book. I started the month with 8 thousand words. I now have 40 thousand. I’m going to call that a win in my book and keep writing at a pace that is comfortable for me.”
In addition, I also found out this month that I’m perfectly capable of writing up to 3,500 words in a day, where before I’d felt like 2,000 was my maximum. So, I didn’t win NaNoWriMo…but I totally accomplished what I needed NaNoWriMo to do for me, which is more of the point.
- See above for NaNoWriMo details.
- I had a fantastic time at both World Fantasy and ChessieCon! The links for each name go to my con reports.
- I still have about 200 pages to go in the last Wrinkle in Time series book, An Acceptable Time. This one is not grabbing me as much as the others, alas.
November Book Reviews
November Speculative Chic Contributions
- Now that I’ve started, I have no excuse not to write another 15k to 20k of Steel Justice!
- Finish An Acceptable Time and review it for Speculative Chic.
- Contribute to four group blog posts for Speculative Chic: my wrap-up of my 2018 resolution, a description of my 2019 resolution (more reading!), my biggest disappointment of 2018, and my most anticipated thing of 2019!
- As is my new tradition since I became obsessed with LEGO, I’ll build one set between Christmas and my birthday (Dec 31).
- And most importantly: VACATION! The husband and I will be on a giant boat in the Caribbean for 7 days. No internet. No writing. Just lots of sun and warm and reading. And maybe a caipirinha or three.
I reorganized my To Be Read shelves after all the free books I got from World Fantasy, and then Nicki-cat told me to get back to writing.
Another month has flown by in a fun and bewildering blur! I’m writing this post on Halloween, and my biggest dilemma right now is figuring out what to wear while I hand out candy tonight. Oh, and write two thousand words so that I can kick off NaNoWriMo at an even 10k. Yep, you read that right. More details below.
- I finally finished the detailed outline for book 6, tentatively titled Steel Justice and I’m really pleased with it! This will be a fun adventure.
- Like I said above, I’m 8k words into the first draft already! I’m really enjoying writing from the POV of a character who has been around for a bit, but I hadn’t dipped into his head yet.
- I had a blast at a writers retreat on the beach with a bunch of romance writers. Not my usual crowd, but they were all lovely ladies. The second retreat was cancelled last minute, so I spent a quiet weekend at home with the husband instead. No complaints there.
- I started reading the final book of my Speculative Chic 2018 Resolution Project, but then I got distracted by an advanced copy of a fun fantasy novel. I’ll get back to that soon.
October Book Reviews
October Speculative Chic Contributions
- I’m officially a crazy person. I’m participating in National Novel Writing Month for 2018, to write 50k words of Steel Justice in 30 days. Feel free to follow along and keep track of my word count at my NaNoWriMo page!
- And I’m doing all that writing during a month when I have two conventions! I’ll be at World Fantasy in Baltimore the first weekend of the month and ChessieCon on the last. (At least both of these events have minimal travel time.)
- Finish reading An Acceptable Time and write up the review to finish my Speculative Chic 2018 Resolution Project.
I feel like that’s a short list, but: FIFTY THOUSAND WORDS IN THIRTY DAYS.
I’d better start eating Halloween candy now.
Seven romance writers at the beach plus one tall urban fantasy writer to take the selfie.
How is it almost the end of the year? What happened? Where have I been?
Writing and reading and traveling, for the most part. Oh yeah, and I published my fourth book. Welcome Steel Empires Book 4: Steel Time to the world!
But now October has already started, so there’s no time to waste!
- Hey, something I completed! I built an awesome LEGO set to celebrate turning my fifth book in to my editor. The built report will show up here next week.
- Hey, something I absolutely did not complete! As of the time of this writing, book six is all of eight outlined scenes on the floor of my office. But it has a title — Steel Justice. So, a partial win? Maybe?
- Book 4, Steel Time, did have awesome blog tour. If you missed any of the stops, you can find the full round-up here.
- Two conventions were also attended this month, which probably contributes to my current haze of mild exhaustion. You can find my con reports for both events below:
September Book Reviews
September Speculative Chic Contributions
- Finish the detailed outline of book 6. I have no idea why this book is giving me such a mental block.
- Write at least 10k words of book 6. Maybe once I start, it’ll go a lot easier.
- No conventions this month, but I’m attending two writing retreats over two weekends. The scheduling was unintentional on my part, but I’m looking forward to handing out with writers. Hopefully some of their productivity and enthusiasm for their projects will rub off on me.
- I have one more book to read for my Speculative Chic 2018 Resolution Project, so I’d better add it to the list before 2018 slips away from me completely!
A question for you writers in the audience — what do you do when you’re so intimidated by a project that you’re too terrified to even start it? This isn’t writer’s block, I think. I’d appreciate any advice.
For you non-writers, gentle and not-so-gentle nudges on social media of “You should be writing!” are probably welcome in the coming weeks.
These guys are not helpful:
I didn’t travel anywhere this month, but I still managed to have plenty of adventures! The highlights of the month were definitely the cover reveal for my next book, Steel Time, and buying the very first new car for either of us with my husband, a Tesla Model 3! Other fun things included some home improvement (installing a storage room under the stairs in our house), an epic ropes course through the treetops with my best friend at Adventure Park, and escaping a Nicola Tesla-themed escape room with my husband and friends with 45 seconds to spare.
Oh, and I got some work and reading done, too.
- Book 5, Steel Shadows, has been submitted to my editor! WOOT!
- To celebrate, I will be building the Star Wars Y-Wing Starfighter LEGO set this weekend while I binge the most recent Marvel movies to prepare for a panel I’m on at a convention next month.
- Prepping for the launch of Steel Time put my book 6 plans on hold, but I’m looking forward to buckling down on an outline in the next few days (technically, I’m writing this post on Wednesday, even though it’s going up on the blog on Friday).
August Book Reviews
August Speculative Chic Contributions
- Well, to start, build a LEGO set while I watch Thor Ragnorok, Black Panther, and Avengers Infinity War to prep for that panel. I have such a hard life.
- Create a detailed scene-by-scene outline of the as-yet-untitled book 6 and write 5 to 10 thousand words of the first draft.
- Prep for a short and sweet blog tour to promote Steel Time. It comes out on September 6! Have you pre-ordered your copy yet?
- Attend FanX Salt Lake Comic Convention 2018! I can’t wait to return to this awesome convention and meet up with friends. This is the convention my husband attends with me (happy 6th anniversary to us!). I’ll be giving my presentation on the alternate history genre, participating in a few cool panels (including one on the Marvel Cinematic Universe, hence the film rewatch), and getting my picture taken with David Tennant!
- Later in the month, I’ll also be participating in a more local convention, Capclave 2018 outside of Washington DC. Plans are afoot for a Steel Time launch party, and I’ll be sure to share the info here.
So much to do, so little time! I could use my very own time machine right about now.
Let me help you do crunches, Mom.
Another summer month has flown by. I’m going to be honest — my production on the creative side has been crap. Even the unbuilt LEGO sets calling my name from my guest room haven’t been motivation enough to get work done. I’m not going to stop working on the Steel Empires series. But after 4 years of cranking out a book a year, I think I’m going to…not take it easy on the next one, but write with more intention. That’s going to mean fewer words a month, and more months to write the book. But my physical health also needs to starting taking a higher priority as I get older, and I’d rather build good habits now.
So my monthly goals are going to look less challenging, but the hope is that those of you reading at the other end won’t actually notice a drop in production. This may or may not make sense. I’m only on my first cup of coffee for the day.
- Revisions to Steel Shadows are not complete, and have not been sent to my editor.
- The book 6 outline has not been completed, though there’s lots of fun ideas rattling around in my brain.
- I did attend Confluence in Pittsburgh last weekend! Being around other authors is always a great shot of creative juice. Check out my full con report.
- I came up with some great ideas for how to launch Steel Time in September. Now I just have to implement them.
See, I told you this month was a wash. I did get lots of reading done, however, which I will never regret.
July Book Reviews
July Speculative Chic Contributions
- Seriously: Steel Shadows revisions to my editor.
- So that I can build a LEGO set!
- And also complete a first draft of the outline to book 6 and send it out for review.
That should be do-able, right? I’m not traveling this month, though I do have a bunch of things planned on the weekends. But today is Friday, so tonight I’m going to put on some music and bury myself in Steel Shadows. Wish me luck!