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.

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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.

December Wrap-Up & January Goals

Happy new year from all of us at Casa Siamese! Though you won’t see this post until it goes live on Wednesday morning, I’m writing it late Monday afternoon with a tummy full of amazing New Year’s Day brunch and a hot mug of tea. I’m excited to start 2018 with a bang, and by bang I mean working on some blog posts and then curling up on the couch with a book.

December Wrap-Up

  • I decided not to kill myself finishing Steel Shadows in the midst of all the other holiday craziness, but I came pretty dang close. The book is currently at a touch over 83,000 words, and I have the two short concluding scenes to finish up. If you follow me on social media (and you should, obviously), expect posts of extreme joy within the next few days.
  • I had a blast beta-reading the next novel in what has become one of my favorite series. I never expected to enjoy paranormal thrillers as much as I now do, but then again, I never expected to read as much romance as is currently mixed in with my science fiction and fantasy. I’m not quite sure when this novel will be published, but I’ll definitely have an excellent review to post on release day.

December Book Reviews

According to Goodreads, I read well beyond my goal of 50 books for 2017, though some of those listed on my account were short stories or books that I abandoned for whatever reason. The list above doesn’t even include everything I read in December this year, because I’ve already queued up book reviews and other blog posts through mid-January!

December Speculative Chic Contributions

January Goals

  1. Okay, seriously, this time I’ll finish the first draft of Steel Shadows.
  2. Since I can’t immediately launch into the first round of revisions without giving the entire book time to percolate, it’s a good thing I have edits for book 4, Steel Time, that also need to get done this month!
  3. Once Steel Time goes back to the editor, it’ll be nice to sit down and look at Steel Shadows from the beginning. Since I wrote that beginning 6 months ago, I definitely need the refresher before I start tweaking things. It will then go to the beta-readers either in late January or early February.
  4. Speaking of beta-reading, I have another book by a friend to review! I haven’t read his work before, but I’ve only heard good things, so I’m excited to experience a new writer.

I hope you are all looking forward to whatever 2018 brings us. I have lots of events already planned throughout the year, and I’m hoping that a proper vacation is also in my future. Now, I have more blog posts to write and a box of macarons I got for my birthday to eat.

Though I didn’t ask for any this year, for either Christmas or my birthday, my family knows me too well! The new additions to the TARDIS collection are:

2017 TARDIS

  • Retro pencil holder from my mother-in-law
  • Stained glass wall-hanging from my mother
  • Jewelry box from my sister- and brother-in-law

Two separate people also gave me bottles of port this year. Good thing I have book 6 to write in 2018, because I’ve got the writer-juice to do it!

November Wrap-Up & December Goals

Disney World 2017The holiday season is in full swing here at Casa Siamese, after a successful Thanksgiving (complete with fried turkey!) and my outside Christmas decorations newly put up. (The artificial tree will have to wait until my husband’s muscles can help.) I didn’t accomplish 100 percent of my November goals, but I’m in too good a mood to care.

Especially since my month started at Disney World! I’ve been riding that high ever since.

November Wrap-Up

  • Due to the aforementioned Disney World, because apparently writing goals go out the window at the happiest place on earth, I started the month behind and never quite caught up. I’m calling the month done at 13k words completed, bringing the current total for Steel Shadows to 68k words.
  • The Disney trip was definitely a success! Okay, so I was really there for a conference related to the day job. The four workshops I attended were well worth the time, and my day off in between was a blast. I thought it might be weird spending a day alone at a theme park, but it was nice to enjoy the day at my own pace, and sticking my Kindle in my purse for the few long lines I experienced was pure brilliance. I even saw the kitty trifecta of lions, tigers, and cheetahs to make my day at Animal Kingdom complete.
  • While not quite as extravagant, I closed out the month with a great time at ChessieCon in Baltimore, Maryland. You can read my full con report here.

Continue reading

October Wrap-Up & November Goals

vampire WaldoHappy Halloween! I’m traveling tomorrow, so getting a jump on my monthly round-up post today. Please enjoy this picture of a vampire writer in her natural habitat from a Halloween party I attended this weekend. Apparently Waldo has gone to the dark side. Tonight I’ll be packing for my trip and giving out candy to the kids in my neighborhood. What are your Halloween plans, and what did you dress up as? Pictures encouraged!

Overall, I consider October a success! I ended up adding a weekend retreat with some awesome writer friends to my trip out of town to Seattle, but still managed to have a productive writing month. Let’s see where things fell, shall we?

October Wrap-Up

  • I did not catch up on September’s writing deficit, but I did meet my back-up goal of reaching 55k words in the first draft of Steel Shadows this month, for a total of 13.5k words written in October.
  • I had a fantastic time visiting Seattle for a conference related to the day job, but got to catch dinner with a friend from high school as an added bonus!

October Book Reviews

October Speculative Chic Contributions

November Goals

  1. I won’t be participating officially in NaNoWriMo this year, but I am looking forward to joining my local chapter for many of the evening write-ins! My goal this month is another 15k words on Steel Shadows, for an end goal of 70k words of the first draft completed.
  2. As I mentioned above, I’m going to out of town again tomorrow for a set of workshops for the day job. Don’t feel too sorry for me, though — this conference is at a Disney World resort, and I planned a free day to visit the new attractions at Animal Kingdom while I’m there!
  3. Later in the month, I’ll be a returning panelist at a local SF/F literary convention, ChessieCon, which takes place in Timonium, MD, the weekend after Thanksgiving. I’ll be sure to post my schedule soon. Will I see any of you there?

I have to wrap this up, because my husband is anxiously awaiting me to get back to our binge-watch of Stranger Things season 2. In the meantime, here’s a great shot of RDSP authors tackling an escape room together, which was easily one of the highlights of my month!

RDSP escape room

How many authors and editors does it take to escape a locked room? Featuring John Edward Lawson, J.L. Gribble, Jennifer Barnes, R., Heidi Ruby Miller, Jason Jack Miller, and Stephanie M. Wytovich