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.)
My publisher decided to give everyone a fabulous gift this holiday season. Today is the last day to pick up a copy of the first book in the Steel Empires series for free!
Grab your electronic copy of Steel Victory here, and remember:
Feel free to share the link far and wide! I hope everyone has a great day, whether you celebrate Christmas in a religious or secular manner, or today is just a random Tuesday for you.
Now if you’ll pardon me, I have a giant LEGO set to build.
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.
Going to a convention after a major holiday would be pretty crazy, but luckily this convention is local, chill, and a chance to visit with friends. So it’s easy to treat it as an extension of the holiday, and I had a lovely time at ChessieCon this year.
Friday started with how all days after Thanksgiving should start, with a massive lunch of leftovers. We ate at my mother-in-law’s house, where my parents also dropped by, so by the time I headed home to prepare for the convention, pretty much no NaNoWriMo writing got done. I was not super upset about that. Instead, I made sure my con bags were sorted and that I had questions prepared for the panel I was moderating on Saturday afternoon. Even though my first scheduled event was not until 9:15 that night, I headed up to Baltimore around 5 PM so that I had time to greet friends. Continue reading
When a professional convention in your field is literally in your back yard (or at least 2 blocks away from where you used to work for 12 years), there’s really no excuse not to go. And I’m so glad that I attended World Fantasy 2018 in Baltimore, MD!
I worked from home on Thursday morning, and then my mother-in-law was nice enough to drive me up to the convention hotel, where I stayed for the weekend. I could have commuted, but sharing a room was literally the same cost as I would have paid in parking fees over the course of 4 days.
After checking in, a friend dragged me to a small workshop on using Tarot cards to help prompt story ideas. While I don’t disbelieve in using Tarot for more personal means, I adore the concept as a storytelling exercise.
Following that, my afternoon workshop on Working with Editors went well. Scott H. Andrews, of Beneath Ceaseless Skies magazine, was a great presenter and very knowledgeable about the subject. I was pretty much there to speak from the novel perspective, and help wrangle one of the small Q&A groups we held with other editors — and I am totally okay with that!
I joined the three lovely ladies I shared a hotel room with for dinner at the Irish pub across the street. All of us are former students from Seton Hill University’s Writing Popular Fiction graduate program, but the best part of that is how many of those former students are now my friends and colleagues. Continue reading
Just because I’m behind schedule with all of my writing projects doesn’t mean I will deprive myself of a reward when I do get something done! To celebrate submitting my fifth novel to my editor, I built this year’s special Star Wars set, the Y-Wing Starfighter. The Y-Wing is not one of my favorite ships from that particular universe, so I didn’t expect to enjoy this build as much as I did.
Between travels and other obligations, this build was spread out over the course of about two weeks. But it started with an epic night of watching Marvel movies, spanned the latest season of the Great British Baking Show, and then most of season 2 of Luke Cage.
Y-Wing Starfighter (75181) — 1,967 pieces
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: