Growing up as a military brat, I always had this sense that once I left a place, I would never be back. While looking for a house in the Baltimore area before sixth grade, my family briefly stayed at a hotel, the Hunt Valley Inn. Therefor, it’s always a bit bizarre to be back there as an adult in a completely different context, such as for a convention.
That background aside, I had an amazing weekend at my second Farpoint. Continue reading
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.
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
This weekend, I will be recovering from Thanksgiving by hanging out at the Red Lion Hotel Baltimore North for ChessieCon 2018! My schedule is below.
I’m not staying at the convention hotel for this one, so give me a shout if you want to meet up for coffee or a meal. As usual, the best way to reach me during a convention is through a Facebook message or Twitter DM.
- 9:15 PM: Broad Universe Rapid Fire Reading
- With Danielle Ackley-McPhail, Margaret Carter, Roberta Rogow, Michelle D. Sonnier, and Elektra Hammond
- 10:30 PM: Alternate Endings for your Favorite Canceled TV Shows (panel)
- The show was brilliant, but that’s how they ended it?! Firefly, Enterprise, Jericho, Terminator, to name a few, all ended before their time. This panel is a group discussion/impromptu exercise to make our own endings.
- With Elektra Hammond, Jeff Gritman, Timothy Liebe, and Harrison Demchick
- 10 AM: Time Management for the Overachieving Creator (panel)
- Wearing too many hats? Going it indie as an author or publisher can really fragment your time. Panelists discuss ways you can streamline your process to be productive while still getting necessary things done.
- With Danielle Ackley-McPhail, Intisar Khanani, Valerie Mikles, and Linda Adams
- 4:15 PM: Young Adult Fiction: Why Then? Why Now? (panel)
- In 1967, highschooler S.E. Hinton wrote The Outsiders, and the YA genre was quickly off and running. Now, over thirty years later, YA is rapidly expanding again. Both adults and teenagers are reading it, and YA books pop up on every bestseller list. What happened then, and what’s happening now that causes YA to grow so wildly?
- With Mary Fan, Tamora Pierce, and Intisar Khanami
- 6:45 PM: Mass Author Signing
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