July Wrap-Up & August Goals

helper cat

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.

July Wrap-Up

  • 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

August Goals

  1. Seriously: Steel Shadows revisions to my editor.
  2. So that I can build a LEGO set!
  3. 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!

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June Wrap-Up & July Goals

giant TARDISThis whole linear time thing is for the birds. I feel like it was just yesterday that I sat down to write last month’s version of this post. That usually means that I got a lot of work done during the month, or absolutely nothing at all. Let’s see how it all fell out.

Either way, I now have a giant TARDIS of my very own.

June Wrap-Up

  • I completed my enormous editing job! The book was amazing, and I can’t wait to share it with the world when my friend releases her debut novel.
  • I only managed a bit of work on revisions to Steel Shadows, but my production schedule has shifted this year, so I’m not stressed too much about that.
  • I did complete my initial research for the as-yet-untitled book 6 and did some preliminary brainstorming. I’m excited to sink my teeth into that project once Steel Shadows is off to my editor.
  • The annual pilgrimage to Hogwarts In Your Write Mind’s annual writer’s conference was an absolute blast. You can find the full story of the giant TARDIS in my con report.
  • Reading advance copies of novels by authors I adore is the best part of my job, and I’m excited to share Sally Malcolm’s Perfect Day with you soon!

June Book Reviews

June Speculative Chic Contributions

July Goals

  1. Complete revisions to Steel Shadows and send it off to my editor!
  2. Complete first draft of book 6 and get it reviewed by other writers/editors. This one is going to get complicated, I think, so I’d rather have my outline solid BEFORE I start writing.
  3. At the end of this month, I’ll be in Pittsburgh for Confluence 2018 (July 27-29)!
  4. Even though I’ve held gorgeous copies of Steel Time in my hands, the book isn’t officially out yet. Time to start working on a book launch party for September and additional online promo.

There’s got to be something I’m missing. Luckily, you’re reading this blog post in the present, but I’m writing it in the past, so if I remember something, I’ll just rewind the clock and add it in.

I’m going to need more coffee if I’m going to start courting paradox.

May Wrap-Up & June Goals

Fable the DragonlingIt’s been done before, so I’ll skip the trite comments about “OMG how is June here already??!” Instead, let’s get to the good stuff. After you admire the absolutely adorable dragonling that I bought at Balticon last weekend. Fable has been tasked with protecting my TARDIS die, and if you think he’s amazing, check out Emizart for your own!

Okay, enough squeeing (is there such a thing?). Let’s get to work.

May Wrap-Up

  • I had a lovely first visit to Cupboard Maker Books in Enola, Pennsylvania, for their Women Writing Mysterious Worlds booksigning event. I was joined by mystery writers Nancy A. Hughes and Yvonne Schuchart, who you should definitely check out!
  • I closed out the month with my return to Balticon, where I participated on multiple panels and gave my alternate history presentation again! Check out my con report for all the details.
  • I’m a bit behind on doing some research for the as-yet untitled book 6 of the Steel Empires series, but I did order the books I needed! They’re sitting behind me on my to-be read shelf…watching me…staring at me….
  • I did, however, get the final edits for Steel Time (book 4) back to my editor! I’ve also seen the cover, and it’s GORGEOUS. Brad Sharp is my hero.
  • I’ve also gotten a start on the revisions that Steel Shadows (book 5) desperately needs. My beta readers are amazing. You can’t have them. They’re mine.
  • Beta read and critiques of my own were completed this month! I’m so lucky to have such talented writers I can look up to that I can also call friends.
  • And finally, I’m set to begin copy-editing a book I’ve been dying to read for literally years! I worked out a contract and got the text, so that’ll be my top goal for June.

May Book Reviews

May Speculative Chic Contributions

June Goals

  1. The top priority this month is my big editing job. I can’t wait to get to work on it!
  2. Next, I’ll be tackling the major revisions my beta readers have identified for Steel Shadows. Everything is completely doable, and I only have a few scenes that need major rewrites, so I’m looking forward to returning to that story.
  3. I’m also looking forward to doing some major brainstorming for book 6! The research books that are staring at me will get cracked open. I might have a working outline for book 6 by the end of the month, but I’m not going to kill myself to get there.
  4. Because I also have a trip to look forward to! The annual pilgrimage to Hogwarts Seton Hill University takes place later this month, where I’ll be participating in the In Your Write Mind writers retreat.
  5. In between all that, I’ve had the pleasure of receiving two advance reader copies of novels I’m looking forward to reading and reviewing.

Time to make some coffee, snuggle some kitties, and get to work!

April Wrap-Up & May Goals

math hotel roomI’m totally having that weird feeling of having accomplished so much in the past month while also doing not much of anything at all. Take a look below and let me know where you think I fall on that spectrum.

Currently reading: A Wind in the Door (Time Quintet #2) by Madeleine L’Engle
Currently watching: Catching up on various DVRed shows and looking for a light-hearted series to watch (give me suggestions in the comments!)

April Wrap-Up

  • I’m about 3/4 done with the beta read I’m working on, and very much looking forward to finding out how it ends.
  • The future of the Steel Empires series is basically to continue writing more of the series. However, I’m going to be involved in a really cool project to celebrate my publishing company, and I can’t wait to start sharing the details of that.
  • Both of my work trips to New York City and Arlington were incredibly educational and awesome. Part of what I love about my day job is that I get to work on topics that I’m passionate about. As an added bonus, I spent last weekend on the beach with some good friends. So, a month heavy with travel, but I enjoyed every moment of it.

April Book Reviews

April Speculative Chic Contributions

May Goals

  1. A slightly less busy travel month, and this time it’s all for the fiction writing! First up, I’ll be signing books as part of the Women Writing Mysterious Worlds event at Cupboard Maker Books on Saturday, May 5 from 1 to 3 PM. Come say hi if you’re local to the Enola, Pennsylvania, area!
  2. At the end of the month, I’ll be returning to Balticon in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor over Memorial Day weekend! I’m not sure what my full schedule is yet, but I’ll definitely be reprising my Alternate History presentation, which you should definitely come check out and see how nerdy I get.
  3. On the home front, I have some research books to review in preparation to write the as yet untitled sixth book in the Steel Empires series.
  4. Meanwhile, I have to get the final edits on book 4, Steel Time, back to my editor…
  5. And make revisions to book 6, Steel Shadows, now that I’ve gotten reviews back from most of my amazing beta readers!
  6. I also need to finish the book I’m beta reading, and complete a shorter critique for another friend.
  7. Finally, I’ll be copy-editing a book currently in production that I’ve been dying to read for literally years.

I love my life. Busy as hell, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

And on the plus side, the weather is FINALLY getting warmer here in Maryland! Editing is much nicer when completed with windows open, and even sitting outside.

March Wrap-Up & April Goals

It’s been another whirlwind month at Casa Siamese, filled with lots of reading, blogging, editing, and other such shenanigans. I’ve been doing a lot of working out, and I’m counting down the days until the weather finally gets warm enough for me to walk outside. (Yes, I’m aware that I could walk outside now, but you underestimate my intense dislike of the cold.) Don’t think I’m living too perfect a life, though — the to-be read pile keeps growing out of control!

Currently reading: Dune Messiah by Frank Herbert (as part of Comic Book Girl 19‘s online book club)
Currently watching: Jessica Jones season 2, when I’m not catching up on the shows piling up on the DVR

March Wrap-Up

  • The SHIELD Helicarrier LEGO set is completed! It was pretty epic, and a lot of fun to build. Keep an eye out for my build report on the blog soon.
  • The latest round of copy-edits on book 4, Steel Time, were completed and sent off to my editor!
  • My presentation on alternate history at the Uniontown Library as part of their 2018 Author series was a blast. It went so well that I immediately volunteered to do a modified version at a few of my upcoming conventions this summer, and one has already accepted it for programming!
  • I also had the expected great time at Cleveland ConCoction, exploding soda bottles aside. (See the full sordid tale at my con report, linked above.)
  • And finally, I’m about halfway through a book I’m proofreading for a fellow RDSP author. It’s a total blast, with a great twist on mythology, so I’ll definitely be shouting about it from the rooftops when it launches.
lego and wine

LEGO construction at Casa Siamese requires the proper levels of hydraulic fluid.

March Book Reviews

March Speculative Chic Contributions

April Goals

  1. Once I finish proofreading the book I’m working on, I’ve got the first half of another to beta read! Luckily, pretty much all the authors I know are crazy-talented, so this is all more of a privilege than a chore.
  2. I’ll be meeting with my editor this month to finish up work on Steel Time and discuss the future of the series. Don’t panic! Basically, come June, will I be working on book 6, working on a series of short stories for gradual release, or both?
  3. No conventions this month, but I will be taking two trips for the day job to New York City and Arlington, VA. The topics for both are fascinating, so I’m happy that so much cool travel is part of BOTH of my jobs.

That’s it! Now, I’ve got a cup of hot coffee, a cat snoring on my lap, and a bunch of emails to catch up on. It was warm enough for a hoodie and no socks today, but the local weather report is threatening mixed snow tonight. You can come anytime now, spring…

coffee and cat

A difficult life, I know.

February Wrap-Up & March Goals

Wow, the year is flying by. So are the deadlines! Just kidding — I’m actually on pretty good track with all of my current projects. But things are only going to pick up again before they slow down.

Homemade foodOn top of everything else, my husband and I joined one of those meal delivery services in an attempt to eat healthier and learn new skills. Since my social media has already been inflicted with a bunch of food pictures, it’s only fair to spread the love here.

February Wrap-Up

  • I completed my review and revisions to book 5, Steel Shadows! It took longer than I expected, until the day I tied myself to my kitchen island with a ton of tea and cranked through the last third.
  • And off it went to the beta readers! I have a mix of readers in terms of how far they’ve read in the series so far, so I’m interested to read their final notes.
  • I had a blast at my first Farpoint convention a few weeks ago and made some awesome new friends. You can read about my adventures and check out some cool cosplay in my Farpoint con report.
  • My presentation at the Uniontown Library Series is coming up quick! Luckily, I found out the presentation part is significantly shorter than I thought it was. That means I’ve done literally nothing to prepare yet. (I’m too busy building LEGOs right now, honestly.)
Farpoint Jessica-Xena and Jay-WW

With cosplayers Jessica Crouse and Jay Justice at Farpoint 2018

February Book Reviews

February Speculative Chic Contributions

March Goals

  1. Finish my current LEGO set! I’m finally working on my biggest set to date, the SHIELD Helicarrier from the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
  2. The Steel Empires work never ends. Now that book 5 is out of my hands for a few months, it’s time to do another round of proofing on book 4 and get it back to my editor.
  3. I need to put together my presentation on alternate history for the upcoming Uniontown Library Author Series.
  4. But before that, I’ll be heading to Ohio for one of my favorite annual conventions, Cleveland ConCoction!
  5. And finally, I have some beta reading of my own to do! Two projects due within the next month or so, but authors whose work I always enjoy. Definitely more of a pleasure than a chore.

Wow, that was a lot of movies in February. I think I’ve got even more lined up in March, considering I already saw Red Sparrow last night (review to come over at Speculative Chic this Tuesday).

2018 is shaping up to be a hell of a year! I’ve got my convention schedule pretty firmed up (note to self: Update events page at some point). To top everything off, the husband and I scheduled a Caribbean cruise this December. Definitely something to look forward to!

January Wrap-Up & February Goals

SS 1st draft word countWow, is the first month of 2018 done already? Seems like it flew by in a whirlwind of writing and reading and LEGO. Oh wait — because that’s basically all I did this month.

January Wrap-Up

  • First of all, the good news: The first draft of Steel Empires #5: Steel Shadows is DONE! Final word count clocked in at 85,836 words. You have no idea how happy I am that I don’t have to stress about cutting 15k+ words like last year.
  • While letting that first draft simmer a bit, I also finished major edits for book 4, Steel Time, and sent them back to my publisher. In addition, I wrote up my acknowledgements and the back cover text, and the book is on its way to layout!
  • Now it’s back to revising Steel Shadows, which I’m about 1/4 done with. I’m enjoying it, so that’s a good sign, right?
  • In the midst of all that, I also beta read a novel for a grad school friend. IT WAS SO GOOD, YOU GUYS. When it’s a bestseller, I’ll totally get to say that I got to read it first.

January Book Reviews

January Speculative Chic Contributions

February Goals

  1. Finish revisions on Steel Shadows and get it out to my beta readers!
  2. Note to self: Find beta readers…
  3. I’ve added another convention to my list! The weekend of Feb. 9-11 I’ll be attending Farpoint in Hunt Valley, MD (just north of Baltimore).
  4. And at some point, I need to start thinking about the presentation I’m giving in March for the Uniontown Public Library’s 2018 Author Series. I’ll be discussing how alternate history can be used to create amazing stories!

How’s 2018 working out for all of you? Have you accomplished any of your New Year’s resolutions? I did mine! (See my Speculative Chic post about reading A Wrinkle in Time.)

Now, time to get back to work on Steel Shadows. I have my biggest LEGO set to date to build once it’s off to the beta readers!

fireplace cats

Hard at work on their own New Year’s resolutions.