December Wrap-Up & January Goals

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!

December Wrap-Up

  • 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

January Goals

  1. Let’s do this! 18k words on Steel Justice, bringing me to 60k words.
  2. Which should be helped by the writer’s retreat I will be attending at Broadkill Resort one weekend.
  3. I also need to do a full copy-edit and clean-up pass of Steel Shadows.
  4. 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.

2018 TARDIS

(They also know that I live on coffee, apparently. Handmade mug by Mary K. Cloonan: Frivolous Function and Dysfunction.)

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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.

Build Report: BB-8

There was no reason for me to buy this year’s special Star Wars Day LEGO set, but that didn’t stop me! While the awesome Y-Wing Starfighter set is waiting patiently in my “to be built” pile (dwarfed only by my “to be read” pile), I couldn’t resist putting together this cute freebie I got with it.

BB-8 (40288) — 48 pieces

Obviously, this was a short and sweet set that I was able to throw together in about 5 minutes. But it does answer the question of what BB-8 wears under his metal exterior!

BB-8 inside

The answer is apparently LEGOs.

Once finished, BB-8 survived a careful car ride to take his place of pride with his buddy R2-D2 in my office! They have teamed up with a Dalek to protect the TARDIS from the Weeping Angels.

BB-8 complete

An unexpected alliance

TARDIS and Weeping Angels miniatures hand-painted by Tower of the Archmage

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!

Con Report: Salt Lake Comic Con 2017

big tardisGetting to Salt Lake Comic Con was a hell of a ride. Some back story:

A year ago, you may remember that my husband headed to the wilds of Mississippi for 6 months for work. While Erik was there, he met a very cool guy, comedian and actor Jay Whittaker.

A few months ago, Erik and I were trying to figure out what to do for a vacation this year. Between both of our work schedules, we had some leave built up, but neither of us felt like blowing it all on a cruise for a week. Since Jay had talked up SLCC so much, and neither of us had ever been to Salt Lake City or a giant comic con, we decided to go for a shorter trip this year. We told Jay we were coming, and he asked me to send him my media kit so he could try to get me on programming. Which would have just been a bonus — honestly, we were going anyway at that point, and had even bought the fancy passes that came with the cool t-shirt.

But I sent Jay my media kit (after frantically putting one together), and lo and behold, I got an email from the person in charge of author guests! It was official — J.L. Gribble was going to SLCC, not just Hanna.  Continue reading

August Wrap-Up & September Goals

signing at Confluence 2017Ack, I’ve been productive again! Met all my goals for August and everything.

August Wrap-Up

  • I completed another 15k words in Steel Shadows, bringing me to 30k done! That’s definitely over one-third of the book, and while I often have trouble slogging through the middle, this story has been a hell of a roller coaster so far. I’m excited, and I hope that shows through my writing.
  • Confluence in Pittsburgh earlier this month was a blast, and you can read my con report here.
  • When I got home from Pittsburgh, my husband headed off to Europe for a few weeks for work, so I had to entertain myself somehow. Luckily, I had a brand new LEGO set to build, and you can check out my build report for the Saturn V rocket here.
  • And finally, the contest I hosted for Steel Blood’s one-month birthday was a ton of fun! Entrants guessed the total number of my TARDIS collection for a chance to win free books from the Steel Empires series. I’m already brainstorming fun ideas for another contest later this year.

Saturn V final

August Book Reviews

August Speculative Chic Contributions

September Goals

  1. Another 15k words of Steel Shadows, bringing me to 45k completed.
  2. Attend Salt Lake Comic Con! I still don’t have my schedule, but my husband and I planned this as our 5-year wedding anniversary present to ourselves, so being on programming was just a bonus. We’re excited to see some friends, visit a new city, get books signed by cool authors, and get our photo taken with John Barrowman. Okay, I’m getting my photo taken with John Barrowman. The plan is to politely ask for a hug from my favorite immortal and try not to burst into tears.

TARDIS contest extras