November Wrap-Up & December Goals

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.

NaNoWriMo 2018 words

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.

November Wrap-Up

  • 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

December Goals

  1. Now that I’ve started, I have no excuse not to write another 15k to 20k of Steel Justice!
  2. Finish An Acceptable Time and review it for Speculative Chic.
  3. 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!
  4. As is my new tradition since I became obsessed with LEGO, I’ll build one set between Christmas and my birthday (Dec 31).
  5. 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.

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Con Report: ChessieCon 2018

chessielogoGoing 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

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

ChessieCon 2018 Schedule

chessielogoThis 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.

FRIDAY

  • 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

SATURDAY

  • 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

SUNDAY

  • 10 AM: Author Reading

Con Report: World Fantasy 2018

World Fantasy 2018 banner

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!

THURSDAY

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

October Wrap-Up & November Goals

SJ outlineAnother month has flown by in a fun and bewildering blur! I’m writing this post on Halloween, and my biggest dilemma right now is figuring out what to wear while I hand out candy tonight. Oh, and write two thousand words so that I can kick off NaNoWriMo at an even 10k. Yep, you read that right. More details below.

October Wrap-Up

  • I finally finished the detailed outline for book 6, tentatively titled Steel Justice and I’m really pleased with it! This will be a fun adventure.
  • Like I said above, I’m 8k words into the first draft already! I’m really enjoying writing from the POV of a character who has been around for a bit, but I hadn’t dipped into his head yet.
  • I had a blast at a writers retreat on the beach with a bunch of romance writers. Not my usual crowd, but they were all lovely ladies. The second retreat was cancelled last minute, so I spent a quiet weekend at home with the husband instead. No complaints there.
  • I started reading the final book of my Speculative Chic 2018 Resolution Project, but then I got distracted by an advanced copy of a fun fantasy novel. I’ll get back to that soon.

October Book Reviews

October Speculative Chic Contributions

November Goals

  1. I’m officially a crazy person. I’m participating in National Novel Writing Month for 2018, to write 50k words of Steel Justice in 30 days. Feel free to follow along and keep track of my word count at my NaNoWriMo page!
  2. And I’m doing all that writing during a month when I have two conventions! I’ll be at World Fantasy in Baltimore the first weekend of the month and ChessieCon on the last. (At least both of these events have minimal travel time.)
  3. Finish reading An Acceptable Time and write up the review to finish my Speculative Chic 2018 Resolution Project.

I feel like that’s a short list, but: FIFTY THOUSAND WORDS IN THIRTY DAYS.

I’d better start eating Halloween candy now.

beach writers

Seven romance writers at the beach plus one tall urban fantasy writer to take the selfie.

World Fantasy 2018 Schedule

World Fantasy 2018 bannerI’m very excited to attend World Fantasy this year! It’s in Baltimore, so I really have no excuse not to be there. I think it’ll be a great opportunity for me to start meeting agents BEFORE I have a novel to pitch to them (the UFO book, which gets written in 2020!), so it will be a more relaxed atmosphere for everyone involved.

As an added bonus, I’ll get to see so many writer friends from my grad school tribe and beyond, and I’m even on programming!

  • Thursday, 2 PM: Working with Editors
    • Workshop with limited space available
    • A broad discussion about editor interactions regarding short fiction and novels, including hiring developmental editors, finding sensitivity readers, submitting short fiction to magazines, sending queries for a novel to agents or publishers, and handling rewrites and line-edits. Plus a Q&A session with leading editors in the speculative fiction field today.
    • With Scott H. Andrews, Beneath Ceaseless Skies magazine
  • Friday, 11 AM: Writing as Sanctuary
    • Panel: How does the art and/or exercise of writing provide sanctuary from the world. Can writing take you away from the external or is that always carried through to your work? #SanctuaryWriting
    • With Jacob Baugher, J.D. Blackrose, J.L. Gribble, Anna La Voie (M), and K. Ceres Wright
  • Friday, 8 PM: Mass Author Signing
  • Saturday, 10 PM: Broad Universe Rapid Fire Reading
  • Sunday, 11:30 AM: Individual Author Reading

I’m staying at the hotel in Baltimore, so I’ll be around all weekend if you want to hang out and chat or grab a meal/coffee/adult beverage. As usual, the best way to reach me during a convention is through a Facebook message or Twitter DM.

Author Interview with Allan C. R. Cornelius

I’m always thrilled to support fellow graduates of the Seton Hill University Writing Popular Fiction program, even if I’ve never had the opportunity to meet them in person! Today, I’m happy to host dark fantasy author Allan Cornelius and ask him some questions about his debut novel.


Whispers at the AlterABOUT THE BOOK

When you’ve done the unthinkable, what wouldn’t you do to make it right? Lie? Steal? Kill?

For thirteen years, Steven’s mother is all he’s known. Then he plays an unintended part in the resurrection of Ssanek, a long-dead god. Now Steven must decide between abandoning the world to its fate, and risking those he cares for in a hopeless bid to banish the dark god

Meanwhile, half-elven Christabel searches for a way to bring her mother back from the dead while fighting those at the palace who see her human heritage as poison. Her only hope is Ssanek. Will Christabel be willing to give what he asks in return? After all, every wish has a price. And Ssanek’s price is blood.

Separated by thousands of miles, these two strangers must fight an evil that twists the very hearts and flesh of anyone who follows it. But only together will they find the strength to defeat what neither could overcome alone.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo


Tell us a bit about what sets Whispers at the Alter apart from other dark fantasy tales!

I would have to say it is the emphasis on the characters themselves.  I’ve always been attracted to stories that were about more than just something bad happening to the protagonist and her friends, them struggling, and then just more bad happening to them.  The darkness in Whispers at the Altar comes as much from within the protagonists themselves as it does from without.  At its heart, it is a story about two vary similar people, who experience similar loss, and their internal struggles to overcome and move past that loss.  The internal journey of all of the characters, protagonist and antagonist alike is what has always attracted me to writing.  Continue reading