Friday, December 1, 2017

Cautiously Optimistic

I'll admit it: I've been starting to get scared I would never write again. I have just been so completely out of creative juice for over six months now. I've been wanting to work on the romance, and figure out what the next SFF project is going to be, and be able to brainstorm on a project with Sharon, and the well has been dry as bleached cow skull in the Arizona desert.

A few weeks ago I tried to get something going and reread the 53,000 words of the romance I wrote last May. There's a lot to love there, but the pace is off. I got a burst of inspiration and made a new outline, but then my annual insanely busy period at work happened, so I had to lay it aside.

Now, history has shown that I never accomplish great writing things in December. That said, I'm setting a goal to work for 30 hours on the romance this month.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

End of Summer

It's been a long summer of No Writing for me. I realize now it was a little insane to jump into a NaNo month days after completing Mender. I wrote 50K in May and then just petered out in June, and I haven't written since. I haven't even had a solid idea since, which is beginning to alarm me.

I've been reading a TON, though, so I've decided to be charitable and think of these past three months as Filling the Well.

Now that school has started and it's time for goal-setting, I'm at a bit of a loss. I'd like to get started on my next "real" book-- but like I said, I don't really have an idea. I'd also like to finish the first draft of Master of the Off-Chance, the Romance novel I was working on for MayNoWriMo. I estimate that I've got 25,000 left in the draft, so I think that's going to be my goal for September: finish the Romance. Then I get take stock and see what makes the most sense to do next, whether that's charge ahead with whatever speculative premise grabs me, or dive into revising MotO-C.

Step one is to read what I have so far in MotO-C, because it's super cold right now. That'll be my short-term goal for the first few days of the month.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Series Thoughts, 2017: Series I Won't Be Finishing

Time to throw some shade!

Not really. As with last year's list, this is not necessarily a list of books I hated. Many I really enjoyed-- yet for whatever reason, I was not left with a desire to read more.

Again, I'll only be providing descriptions/rationalizations for new entries, in blue. If you want to hear more of my thoughts on the series that appeared on the 2016, check out last year's post.

And now, on with the countdown.

Series I Won't Be Finishing:

Middle Grade:

The Mysterious Benedict Society series by Trenton Lee Stewart.
The Song of the Lioness series by Tamora Pierce.
Anne of Green Gables series by L.M. Montgomery.
Sherlock Files series by Tracy Barrett.
The Edge Chronicles by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell.
Ember series by Jeanne DuPrau.
Roman Mysteries series by Caroline Lawrence.

Timmy Failure series by Stephan Pastis. This was on my "Series I'm Undecided About" list in 2016. is a very strange series about a very strange child. I've listened to 3 of the books on audio with The Son, but now he's reading them on his own and I don't see me continuing with the series.

Forbidden Library series by Django Wexler. This was also on my "Series I'm Undecided About" list in 2016. I listened to the first book of this on audiobook. It had a lot of cool elements-- 1930's setting, creepy magic, books as portals to other worlds-- but I just didn't connect with the characters. I've decided not to continue.

Sisters Grimm series by Michael Buckley. two orphaned sisters move to a town inhabited by fairy-tale creatures, and learn about their family's role in managing the relationships between these creatures and the mundane world. The Son and I listened to the first book together. It was cute, but a little young for him, and he wasn't interested in going on with it.

Samurai Detective series by Dorothy and Thomas Hoobler. Historical Mystery series that takes place in feudal Japan. Again, we read book 1, and it was pretty good, but it now seems too young for where he's at, and I don't have enough interest to continue on my own.

100 Cupboards Series by N.D. Wilson. I really recommend this one. It's about a boy who goes to live with his aunt and uncle in Kansas, where he discovers a bunch of cupboard doors behind the wallpaper in his room. Each door leads to an alternate universe... but since they're small doors, he can't quite go through them. It's an intriguing tale, but I kept wait for the  library to get book 2 on audiobook-- which they never did-- and after a while enough time had passed that if I wanted to get it from ILL or something we'd need to go back and listen to book 1 again, and I wasn't willing to go to that much effort.

Artemis Fowl series by Eoin Colfer. I have very mixed feelings about this one. Another series that was on my "Series I'm Undecided About" list in 2016, and then in January I put book 6 on my Series Challenge list for this year. I read the first few chapters of it, and... I just didn't care. I felt super guilty and weighed down by this big obligation to finish it, but was dreading having to read it, and then had an epiphany and realized it was ridiculous to expend energy on a series I don't care about when I am in the midst of reading FORTY-NINE other series.

Young Adult:

Uglies series by Scott Westerfeld.
If I Stay duology by Gayle Forman.
Cecelia and Kate series by Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevener.
Divergent trilogy by Veronica Roth.
City of Beasts trilogy by Isabel Allende.
Confessions of Georgia Nicolson series by Louise Rennison.
Princess Academy series by Shannon Hale.

Falling Kingdoms series by Morgan Rhodes. Buckle up, because I have some opinions. Last year, I went on a big booktube spree, and wound up discovering a bunch of wonderful YA books through watching the reviews. I saw so many glowing reviews for this epic Fantasy YA series, and became very eager to read it. I remember checking my library shelves every time I went, but it was always checked out. When I finally got my hands on it, I was appalled. The writing was terrible, the characters were paper-thin, the world was unconvincing, and there were giant logic fails all over the place. It's just bad-- like, "I'm shocked this got published" bad. I do not understand why so many reviewers whose taste I otherwise generally respect are so taken with it. Maybe it's just me?

Grisha trilogy by Leigh Bardugo. Bardugo's Six of Crows duology, set in the same world as this trilogy, was among the best and most dazzlingly original things I read in 2016. But this one failed to grab me. There's nothing wrong with it-- the writing is solid, the world is interesting, characters are well drawn-- but the plot was entirely predictable. Nothing surprised me, which meant I wasn't left with a desire to read on to see what more happens.

The Remnant Chronicles by Mary J. Pearson. YA Fantasy set in far-future North America. This is another series I heard a lot of raving reviews for, and while I didn't think it was bad (unlike Falling Kingdoms), I wasn't into it enough to want to continue past book 1.

Chaos Walking Trilogy by Patrick Ness. Dark Science Fiction about a society on a colony planet in which all the men can hear each others' thoughts. Yet another series that was on my "Series I'm Undecided About" list in 2016. I've now decided to bite the bullet and admit I'm not finishing it.

To All the Boys I Loved Before trilogy by Jenny Han. And another series that was on my "Series I'm Undecided About" list in 2016. I just don't care enough to go on with it.

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children trilogy by Ransom Riggs. Interesting YA Fantasy with a historical twist, about a troubled boy discovering the very strange nature of his beloved grandfather's troubled past. I liked book 1, but not as much as I'd expected I would. I'm glad I read it, but I'm not interested enough in the story to continue.


Ender series by Orson Scott Card.
Fifty Shades of Grey series by E.L. James.
Tairen Soul series by C.L. Wilson.
Foundation series by Isaac Asimov.
Dune series by Frank Hebert.
Thursday Next series by Jasper Fforde.
Hitchhiker's Guide series by Douglas Adams.
Ringworld series by Larry Niven.
Uplift series by David Brin.
Magicians trilogy by Lev Grossman.

Glamourist Histories by Mary Kowal Robinette. Regency with magic. It sounded like an adult version of Sorcery and Cecelia, which I adored. But... I didn't like book 1. I found it boring. The romance was underdeveloped, and I had a hard time swallowing that the magic wasn't used for anything practical.

The Rosie Project series by Graeme Simison. Contemporary "GuyLit" Romance about a fortyish professor with Asperger's, and his hilariously systematic search for love. I really loved the first book, but I was completely satisfied with the ending.

Goddess Summoning series by P.C. Cast. Fantasy Romance series that are retellings of myths and fairy tales. Fun for a book or two, but painfully formulaic for six. This was on my "Series I'm Undecided About" list in 2016, and I've decided to bag it.

Liaden Universe series by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller. Sci-Fi Romance series. It never grabbed me like I expected. I was on the fence about this in 2016, but I'm accepting reality and giving it a pass after 2 books.

Me Before You duology by JoJo Moyes. Woman's Fiction/Romance about a rich paraplegic and the young woman who works as his caregiver. I read book 1 for book club and found the ending satisfying. I don't feel compelled to read more.

No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith. Mystery series set in Botswana. I thought book 1 was charming and fully intended to go with the series, but book 2 didn't hold my interest.

Eli Monpress series by Rachel Aaron. I feel bad about this one. I loved Aaron's Paradox trilogy (writing as Rachel Bach), and I also really liked book 1 of this Fantasy series about a charming thief in a world of magicians and spirits. Book 2 was on my Series Reading Challenge list for this year. But I was slogging through it, and it was frankly making me kind of dread having to read 3 more books in the series, so I've decided, with regret, to set it aside.

Finally, I read a ton of Contemporary Romance in May while I was working on my own romance-y thing. Most were the first books of series, and all but one I'm not continuing with. Most I thought were pretty decent examples of what they're trying to be; they're just not enough my thing to convince me to stick with them:

Portland Heat series by Annabeth Albert
Heartbreaker Bay series by Jill Shalvis
Silver Pines series by Gwen Hayes
Tumble Creek trilogy by Victoria Dahl
Belhaven series by Emily Foster
Opposites Attract series by Erin Nichols


Sin City.

Swamp Thing.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Series Thoughts, 2017: Series I Plan to Finish

This post will be about the series I have in progress that I am invested in and committed to finishing. New series to this list will again be in blue. I  will only write descriptions for the series I began since last July;  if you want to read more about the series I had in progress before last July, check out last year's post here.

Series I Plan to Finish:

Middle Grade:

1) Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard trilogy by Rick Riordan. I've read 2 books and am waiting for the third.

2) Trials of Apollo series by Rick Riordan. I've read 2 books and am waiting for the third.

3) The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place series by Maryrose Wood. I've read 5 books so far, and one more is forthcoming.

4) Family Fletcher series by Dana Alison Levy. I've read all 3 books and am waiting for more.

5) His Dark Materials series by Philip Pullman. I had this on my "Series I've Finished" list in 2016, but now a new book is coming out in the fall! This is a beautiful series about religion and fate, with souls manifesting as animal companions, alternate universes, and sentient polar bears. I've read 3 books and am looking forward to book 4.

Young Adult:

6) Illuminae Files series by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. I've read 2 books and am waiting for book 3.

7) Octavian Nothing duology by M.T. Anderson. I've read book 1 and intend to read book 2.

8) Jackaby series by William Ritter. I've read 2 books and a short story, and have 2 more books to read.

9) Old Kingdom series by Garth Nix. I had this on my "Series I've Finished" list in 2016, but now more books are being released! These are richly rendered Fantasy stories that follow a lineage of necromancers. I've read 4 books so far; there's a novella and a new novel waiting for me.

10) The Queen's Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner. Adventure/Fantasy tales in an Ancient Greek-like setting. I was undecided about this is 2016, but I read book 2 this year and now plan to continue. I've read 2 books; there are 3 more books to go.

11) Graceling Realm trilogy by Kristin Cashore.  Feminist second-world Fantasy. Another series I was undecided about in 2016 but have decided to go ahead with. I've read 1 book and have 2 more to go.

12) Prisoners of Peace series by Erin Bow. That rarest of birds: a trope-subverting YA dystopian. I'm super interested to see where this one goes. I read book 1 and now book 2 is out.

13) The Witchlands trilogy by Susan Dennard. Second-world Fantasy with strong female friendships, an interesting magic system, and writing that's a cut above the usual YA Fantasy fare. I read book 1 and now book 2 is out.

14) Trouble series by Stephanie Tromly. YA Investigative about a girl who moved from Brooklyn to a podunk town in upstate NY, where she falls in with a socially tone-deaf teen Sherlock-type and starts solving crimes. The first book was absolutely delightful, and now there's book 2 waiting for me,

15) Three Dark Crowns trilogy by Kendare Blake. The premise for this sounds almost like a parody of YA Fantasy/dystopian tropes (three teenage magic-wielding Queens must fight to the death to see which of them will rule the land-- complete with love triangle) but the first book sucked me in from page one and never let go to the end. Book 2 comes out next month.


16) Flavia de Luce series by Alan Bradley. I've read 7 books and a short story so far. Book 8 is out and book 9 is coming out in early 2018.

17) Siri Paiboun Investigations by Colin Cotterill. I've read 11 books and am waiting for book 12 next month.

18) Jimm Juree Mysteries by Colin Cotterill. I've read 3 books and there's a 4th out.

19) Vorkosigan Saga by Lois McMaster Bujold. There are 21 books in this series so far; I have read 15.

20) Chalion series by Lois McMaster Bujold. I've read 3 books and 3 novellas, with 1 novella out for me to read.

21) Elemental Blessings series by Sharon Shinn. I've read 4 books so far and am waiting for the 5th and (I presume) final book.

22) Oxford Time Travel series by Connie Willis. I've read 3 books, and have 1 more to go.

23) MaddAddam trilogy by Margaret Atwood. I've read 1 book and have 2 to go.

24) The Rook Files by Daniel O'Malley. I've read book 1 and have book 2 on my series-challenge list.

25) The Expanse series by James A.A. Corey. I've only read 2 books so far; there are 6 out.

23) Golden City series by J. Kathleen Cheney. I've read 3 books and a novella, and have 1 novella left to go.

24) One Rose trilogy by Gail Dayton. I'm reading book 2 right now and intend to continue with the final book of the trilogy.

25) Kingkiller Chronicles trilogy bu Patrick Rothfuss. Epic Fantasy recounting the life story of an epically awesome sorcerer. I've read book 1 and have book 2 on my series-challenge list.

26) Wayfarers series by Becky Chambers. Found family aboard a blue-collar spaceship. I've read book 1; book 2 is out and waiting for me.

27) Her Instruments series by M.C.A. Hogarth. Another found family Science Fiction tale. I've read book 1; there are 2 more books in the series.

28) Wild Seasons trilogy by Christina Lauren. New Adult Romance about three female friends and the fallout from their impulsive post-graduation Vegas trip, during which they married a trio of male friends. I've read book 1 and intend to continue with book 2.

29) Binti series by Nnedi Okorafor. Afrocentric Science Fiction novella. I've read 2 books and am waiting for the 3rd to be released.

30) Shades of Magic trilogy by V.E. Schwab. Dark Fantasy about a quartet of alternate Londons all threatened by the same wild magic. I've read book 1 and have 2 more to go.

31) The Themis Files by Sylvain Neuvel. Science Fiction about scientists discovering giant alien robots on earth, told entirely through interviews and military reports. I think this is a duology? I've read book 1 and put book 2 on hold at the library.


32) Saga. I've read the first 7 volumes and am waiting for the 8th to be released.

33) Ms. Marvel. I've read 6 volumes and am waiting for the 7th to be released

34) Giant Days. I've read 5 volumes and am waiting for the 6th to be released.

35) Rat Queens.  I've read 3 volumes and am waiting for the 4th.

36) Jedi Academy. I've read 4 volumes and am getting the 5th in the mail today!

37) Amulet. I've read 7 volumes and am waiting for the final volume to be released.

38) The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl. I was waffling about this one last year, but now I've decided to go on with it. A tongue-in-cheek romp through the Marvel Universe, with some good representation and an underlying message of tolerance and empathy. I've read 5 volumes plus a bonus edition, and am waiting for volume 6 to be released.

39) Lumberjanes. I had this on my "Series I've Finished" list in 2016, not realizing the comic was ongoing. Delightful story of five best friends at a Girl Scout-esque summer camp. I'm reading volume 6 right now and am waiting for volume 7 to be released.

40) Monstress. Set in an alternative, matriarchal China with wracked by human-monster wars. Disturbing and violent, with jaw-droppingly gorgeous artwork. I've read the first volume and am waiting for the library to get the second.

41) Mighty Jack. Cute modern-day retelling of the Jack and the Beanstalk myth, in which Jack is a latch-key kid looking after a younger sister with autism. I've read book 1 and am waiting for book 2 to be released.

42) Paper Girls. A freaky tale about four paper girls delivering papers in the pre-dawn hours after Hallowe'en 1988, with all kinds of demonic, time-traveling hell breaking loose. I've read volume 1 and am waiting for the library to get volume 2.

43) Lucy and Andy Neanderthal. Cute comic about caveman kids. I read the first book and didn't realize it was a series, but now I see book 2 is being released next month.

Web Comics:

44) Check, Please! 

45) Gunnerkrigg Court. 

46) Stand Still, Stay Silent.

47) Dicebox. A married pair of female blue-collar workers roaming the galaxy, looking to outrun their pasts. Moved from the "Series I'm Undecided About" list.

48) Vattu. On an alien planet, a young huntress is taken captive by a conquering empire. Also moved from the "Series I'm Undecided About" list.

49) Namesake. Explores the connection between readers, writers, and the worlds of beloved stories. Also moved from the "Series I'm Undecided About" list.

Whoa. Almost 50 series, dude. That's a lot.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Series Thoughts, 2017: Series I've Finished

Time for this year's update on the many series I've read, am reading, have quit reading, and am undecided about.

This first list will be series I've read in entirety. As with last year's list, this will be just a list with no comments. Series I finished since last July will be in blue.

Series I've Finished:

Middle Grade:

Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
Percy Jackson and the New Olympians series by Rick Riordan
Heroes of Olympus series by Rick Riordan
Kane Chronicles trilogy by Rick Riordan
Origami Yoda series by Tom Angleberger
Ramona Quimby series by Beverly Cleary
Henry Huggins series by Beverly Cleary
Smek duology by Adam Rex
Spiderwick Chronicles series by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi
WondLa trilogy by Tony DiTerlizzi
Nate Foster duology by Tim Federle

Young Adult:

Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins
Matched trilogy by Ally Condie
Ruby Red trilogy by Kerstin Gier
Safe-Keepers trilogy by Sharon Shinn
Anna and the French Kiss companion trilogy by Stephanie Perkins
Annals of the Western Shore trilogy by Ursula K. LeGuin
Frontier Magic trilogy by Patricia Wrede
The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater
Six of Crows duology by Leigh Bardugo
Leviathan trilogy by Scott Westerfeld


Mars trilogy by Kim Stanley Robinson
Chronicles of Chaos trilogy by John C. Wright
Golden Age trilogy by John C. Wright
Confluence trilogy by Paul J. McAuley
Samaria series by Sharon Shinn
Twelve Houses series by Sharon Shinn
Sharing Knife quartet by Lois McMaster Bujold
Paradox trilogy by Rachel Bach
My Family and Other Animals trilogy by Gerald Durrell
Hyperion quartet by Dan Simmons
Kushiel Legacy series by Jacqueline Carey (nine books, y'all!)
The Hainish Cycle series by Ursula K. LeGuin
The Secret Texts trilogy by Holly Lisle
Imperial Radch trilogy by Ann Leckie
The Connaghers series by Joely Sue Burkhart
Billionaires in Bondage trilogy by Joely Sue Burkhart
The Inheritance trilogy by N.K. Jemison
Temeraire series by Naomi Novik
The Shifting Circle trilogy by Sharon Shinn
Illium duology by Dan Simmons
Old Man's War series by John Scalzi


Castle Waiting
Locke & Key
Zita the Spacegirl
Three Thieves

Friday, June 30, 2017

End of June. *Sigh*

Guys, this month has been a bust for writing. I don't even have a plausible-sounding excuse. I just lost momentum once the WriMo was over, and then I slammed hard into an intense reading phase. I have read a shitload this month, even for me.

I'm on vacation now, so it'll be at least 10 days before I set any type of writing goals for July. Look for lots of reading-related posts this month, though!

Saturday, June 3, 2017

On to June

I ended May with 51,600 words under my belt (yay!) and having slid into a slump (boo!). I had a nagging feeling I was off track with the plot, and I couldn't seem to force myself forward through that feeling. I was also a bit distracted by participating in the Beta Project on Absolute Write, and almost making it into Query Kombat for Mender, which qualified me for a critique on my query and first page from one of the judges.

After a few days of not working on MotO-C and feeling like crap about it, I decided two things:

1) The goal of finishing the draft by June 12 (the date my laptop needs to go into the shop) was putting too much pressure on me and making me even more reluctant to work on it.

2) I needed to sit down and list out everything I could think of that would need to be addressed in revisions, including changes I wanted to make to the external story arc.

The good news is that these two things seem to have shaken me out of feeling slumpy. I've gone back to the two (short) chapters I completed toward the end of the month, where I started feeling like I was going off the rails, and have set about fixing them. I'm finding it's not a matter of changing what's there so much as it is adding substance to them. Today is the first day I've been back at work on it this week, and I've set a modest goal of 500 words. I've already written 400!

My goals for June:

1) Finish the first draft of MotO-C.

2) Make 5-10 hours' worth of edits to Mender and send out 10 more queries.

3) Finish the 3 books I had in progress when I dropped everything for MayNoWriMo.

4) Read 2 additional books for my Series Challenge (I'm at 12 books so far-- the halfway mark).

Sunday, May 28, 2017

MayNoWriMo Day 28

I hit 50,000 words today!

That was pretty much the only writing bright spot of the day. I have hit a slump, y'all. Every minute of writing was painful and everything I wrote sucked.

Just keepin' it real. Writing this novel has been mostly rainbows and sunshine and sexytimes, but today it was a slog.

Friday, May 26, 2017

MayNoWriMo Day 26

I had another 2k+ day and am up to 47,450 words. Still a lot of smut going on over here.

I may need another plot-planning day soon, since I'm rapidly approaching the end of the results of my last plot-planning day. I just spent 15 minutes making a list of everything I can think of that needs to happen between now and the end, and then cutting and pasting them together in scene-groups and shuffling the scenes into rough order. It is far, FAR from done, but I do know what the next chapter after the one I'm writing now is going to be about, which is more than I knew half an hour ago.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

MayNoWriMo Day 24

One week left to the month! I wrote the NaNo bare minimum of ~1,700 today, and am up to 43,500. I just wrote a condom-buying scene that I love because I know what's coming later. *evil cackle*

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

MayNoWriMo Day 23

I wrote 3,000 words today, and am at 41,750 words for the month.

Today I everything I wrote was smut.

Monday, May 22, 2017

MayNoWriMo Day 22

38,750 words, and I'm on the cusp of the big midpoint moment. Sexytimes ahoy! ;)

Saturday, May 20, 2017

MayNoWriMo Day 20

I'm at 34,400 words! I just finished a scene I loved loved loved writing. My couple aren't a couple yet (this is a slower burn Romance with the hook-up not occurring until the midpoint), and this is the first super-romantic scene I've written for them. They are standing in an empty, unheated farmhouse where Maize lived as a child, and Colin tells her about a time they met as kids that she's forgotten about. It was so much fun to write. *happy sigh*

Thursday, May 18, 2017

MayNoWriMo Day 18

Yesterday was a thinking day. I wasn't happy with how I'd ended a chapter the day before, so I backed up and had a think about it. I knew the next 7-10K worth of stuff I wanted to have happen, but the puzzle pieces weren't coming together into a picture I was happy with.

I think I got it shuffled in the right order, and as of tonight I'm at 31,000 words. It's a clear path 'til the midpoint now. After that I may have to take another day to plot and think.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017


Here's the 150-word hook I wrote for Master of the Off-Chance. It's not as long as a query blurb, and it was hard to to convey a sense of character, setting, and conflict in that amount of space. And I really do not dig the last line, but I was sick of fiddling with it, so it's standing for now.

Maize Gersham is a second-generation hippie who’s been drifting though life like a bit of dandelion fluff on the wind, searching for the perfect place to put down roots. Nowhere could be more perfect than Eden House, the now-disbanded commune where she grew up, in the rural Vermont town of Hartfield. Maize blows back into Hartfield like a cloud of patchouli incense, planning to recreate the groovy utopia of her childhood— minus the messy love affairs that tore the commune apart. 

When Maize meets local boy Colin Grzeskiewicz, she doesn’t think much of him— just another cute redneck guy hoping for some free love. But there’s way more to Colin than a baseball cap, a pickup truck, and a great smile. And he’s determined to be her new best friend. 

Now Maize has to decide what “perfect” really means when you’re talking about home and love.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

MayNoWriMo, Mid-Month Check In

I'm above 29,000 now! Far short of my grand dreams of being at 40,000 by now, but hey-- it's 29,000 more than I would have gotten in the past two weeks if I hadn't tried this insane challenge.

I feel like I'm floundering around a little, plot-wise. I'm really curious to re-read this whole thing once I'm done and see how well it holds up. I've been devouring tons of contemporary Romance novels  and novellas (only bothering with those rated A- or higher on Smart Bitches, Trashy Books) on my laptop Kindle so I have some benchmark to measure against.

Oh, and I have a title (for now): Master of the Off-Chance.

I'm submitting a 150-word hook and the first 750 words to the Beta Project on Absolute Write, so if I'm feeling brave I'll post the hook here so you all can get a better picture of just how Romance-y this thing really is.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

MayNoWriMo Day 13

I hit 25,000 words today, and am nearly 1/3 through the book.

There's no way I'm going to finish the draft by the end of the month... but now I know I can write a clean first draft at NaNo pace.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

MayNoWriMo Day 10

I'm up to 20,211 words and have passed over from Act I to Act II. This is awesome, but still a little under what I was hoping for. It's really tricky striking this balance between writing as fast as I can but not just vomiting out words to make a word count. I do think that what I have so far is a pretty solid first draft. We'll see how the first half of Act II unfolds.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

MayNoWriMo, Days 6 and 7

I wrote 1.5K yesterday, but felt blah about a big chunk of it and ended the day feeling like I was on the wrong track, and dreading having to work on it today. This is NOT what I want, word count goal or no, so I did some thinking and note-taking, and spent most of my writing time today rewriting the scene I wrote yesterday. So I've only made 100 words of progress, but I feel loads better about the book.

My goal is break 15K on the book this evening, then do some planning for the next few scenes.

Friday, May 5, 2017

MayNoWriMo, Days 4 and 5

I couldn't post last night because The Husband was doing some overdue maintenance work on my laptop.

Thurs. I wrote 2K words and today I wrote 3K. The book is just a hair over 13K at this point. I think I'm going to have to slow down for a few days to work out some plot points, but I'm still aiming to finish the draft this month-- or at the very least, break my old NaNo record, which is 62,000 words of garbage. If I can write more than that, and have it be a clean first draft, I'll be happy.

Just not as happy as I'll be if I finish the draft!

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

MayNoWriMo Day 3

2,381 words today. I was determined to hit 8,000 words/~10% of the story today, and I got there, but it was a struggle toward the end. Today's writing was all about the backstory wound. Tomorrow should be more fun and Romance-y.

I forgot to mention I did a Tarot reading for my female MC yesterday. I've owned the same Tarot deck for 32 years (now THAT'S scary-- how did I get this old??) and never done a reading for a character before. But I'm writing about second-generation hippies, and the character gets her cards read, so what the hey. I'd only planned to choose one card from the reading that seemed most apropos to the plot and write about it, but the whole reading was incredibly apropos, so I wound up including all of it.

And I may have found a title. Not ready to post it yet, since I'm still looking for other options (for probably dumb reasons I am pulling the title from an existing body of song lyrics), but for now I'll be calling this novel ST instead of M&C.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

MayNoWriMo Day 2

Word count for the day: 3,496!

I have two chapters completed!

I am having fun. So, sooooo much fun.

Monday, May 1, 2017

MayNoWriMo, Day 1

That's basically what I'm doing, right? A NaNo?

2,157 words today. Finished scene 1. Kept faithful stats on where and when and what and how much, and need a few more days' worth of data before I can draw any meaningful conclusions.

Going Rogue

So, I'm setting FAaLA aside for a bit and writing a contemporary Romance this month. M'kay bye!


What, you want more explanation that that?

Okay. Here's the sequence of events that led to this impulsive and probably ill-conceived decision:

1) After a few days of flying high on enthusiasm for FAaLA, I crashed into meh-ness. I have the set-up all clear in my mind but can't seem to get a handle on the overall plot arc. Maybe it just needs to marinate a little longer? I dunno. Also, I've been reading a TON of Sci-Fi lately to psych myself up for returning to the genre, but maybe I overdid it.

2) I've also been watching a ton of the Avatar: The Last Airbender TV show with The Son (holy crap, it's SO MUCH better than it needs to be), and following the main "bad guy's" arc from villain to antagonist to protagonist/ally has made me re-think Leopold's arc in Mender. I'm still waiting on some agent replies-- including on a partial request-- but if I don't get an offer of representation from this first batch of queries I may go in and do another 1-2 weeks of edits on Mender to sharpen that aspect of the story. I don't want to interrupt the forward momentum of another book to do that.

3) For years, I've been building a modern-day New England town in my mind and wishing I had a story to put there. For a while, I thought it would make a great TV show. Then I came up with a low fantasy premise, but it felt like I was shoe-horning the fantasy elements in there to make it fit with the rest of my "brand". And then I read the Raven Cycle and realized that my idea was a pale shadow of that series. So I have this whole town-- maps drawn, history thought through, minor characters put in place-- and nothing to do with it.

4) Ever since I read Rachel Aaron/Bach's book 2,000 to 10,000, I've been itching to push myself and see just how fast I can write a decent first draft. What holds me back is the fear of fucking it up and writing something that winds up needing tons of revision drafts. Therefore, I think the best way to experiment with this is on a project that meets the following criteria: 1) shorter than my usual novels, with a simpler plot, and 2) something I'm excited to write, yet won't be devastated to just trunk if the first draft turns out to be a hilarious mess.

5) Thursday night I had a dream, and when I woke up Friday morning I had one of those writing moments when several ideas that have been simmering in your story-pot come together on a plate, complete with sprig of parsley for garnish. The town + the story and MC from the upmarket contemporary novel I tried to write in grad school + a romantic hero I love as a character but who would never fit into a Fantasy or Sci-Fi world =  70-80K contemporary Romance, aiming more for Rainbow Rowell territory than Harlequin.

I gave myself three days to plan it-- I know-- and no more than 31 to write the first draft, starting today. I'm going to be keeping track of writing hours and word counts, and probably making a series of very boring posts reporting them all. This month is as much about data-gathering as it is about writing a book.

So that's me this month! I'm a loose cannon, baby!

(Oh, and this book has no title yet. I'm calling it M&C now, for the heroine and hero's first names.)

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Top 5 Wednesday: Authors I Want to

I've been a longtime fan of the Goodreads group Top 5 Wednesday, and since this topic is one I've been thinking about lately, it makes sense to weigh in.

By "Authors I Want to Read More Of", I do not mean my auto-buy authors, or authors who have only published one book and I loved it and am eagerly waiting for more. I mean authors who have a significant backlist I have yet to explore.

1) John Scalzi. I'm on the last book of the Old Man's War series now, and officially consider myself a fan of his writing. I plan to start his new series, The Collapsing Empire, as well as checking out some of his stand-alones, including Fuzzy Nation, Redshirts, and Lock In.

2) N. K. Jemison. The Inheritance Trilogy was epic awesomeness, and I'm hearing only raves for her new Broken Earth trilogy. Next up for me is to read the Dreamblood duology, though, since I already own book 1. Then I'll read Broken Earth.

3) Connie Willis. I've been working my way through her Oxford Time Travel series, but I've heard great things about Crosstalk and her many collections of short fiction.

4) Kim Stanley Robinson. I read his Mars trilogy years ago and hold it in the highest esteem, but I never had the desire to read more of his stuff until last year, when I picked up 2312 on a whim. Now I'm seeing a bunch more of his books I'd like to check out: New York 2140, Aurora, The Years of Rice and Salt, and the Three Californias trilogy.

5) Jo Walton. I've only read Among Others and Tooth & Claw, but all her books seem so intriguing and so different from one another: My Real Children, Lifelode, the Thessaly series.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Back to the Hour Goals

I'm shooting for 30 hours of work on FAaLa in the second half of April, including time spent researching.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Setting Sail

I have submitted 10 queries for Mender... and already gotten one rejection. Yay. This process is no pile of giggles, lemmetellya.

But enough about that until I've heard back from the rest. Now it's time to talk about the next book.

A few weeks ago, I was alarmed that I had zero desire to work on anything new. I was pretty sure I knew what book I'd be writing next, but just felt meh about it. But I guess it was just a matter of needing to wrap up all the loose ends with Mender, because as soon as I started sending queries, the cylinders started firing, and now I'm ready to start the story-building process.

Looking back over three books, I see that I have always had a gap between the story-building and the actual drafting. With Eleven Names, I did story-building for years and then had years of gap before actually starting the book. With The Owl Bearer, it was an orderly two months of story-building followed by a three month gap. Mender had kind of a strange trajectory: six weeks of story building when I should have been working on TOB, then a year-long gap, then six more weeks, then a five-month gap, then drafting the first two chapters, then another 3-4 weeks of research and plot fiddling before finally plowing ahead with the rest of the book.

So what am I going to do with this information? First, I'm going to be open to the possibility that the gap between the story-building and the drafting may just be a part of my process-- while still planning to begin the drafting right away. Second, I'm going to plan for two months of story-building-- while allowing for the possibility that it might take longer than that.

This book (which I'll be calling FAaLA for now-- an acronym of its working title) is a stand-alone novel that takes place in the same Science Fictional universe I created for EN, TOB, and the as-yet unwritten Terra Astra. So the first order of story-building business is to pin down a timeline for this world and figure out where this story falls in relation to the others. I also need to get going on some research. For Mender, I was reading about Nineteenth century manners, New England native peoples, and Colonial American pastimes and holidays. For this book, it's going to be theoretical models of interstellar space travel, the topography and culture of Ecuador, and polygamous cults.

I'm preparing to set sail to a strange new world-- the land of FAaLA-- and I'm excited to discover what lies ahead.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Week 2 Goals

My goals for the second week of April:

1) Revise the synopsis as needed. This was on my list for earlier this last week, but I didn't get to it.

2) Send Mender submission package to 10 agents. I am sticking with the oft-recommended approach of querying ten (or five) agents and then waiting three months. If I don't get any requests for pages, I will take it as a sign that my query and/or opening pages still aren't up to snuff.

Bleah. I'm trying hard to keep a positive attitude, but there's definitely a part of me that is most un-psyched to be beginning this process again.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Mender is Done

I know I have a lot of posts titled "Done" for various stages of done-ness for different books. Here's another.

I'm done.

I've fiddled with the opening to the point that if I change anything else it will be just changing things for the sake of changing them.

I have spellchecked one last effin' time.

I have typed THE END on the last page.

Mender is 106,000 words. It took me ~4 months of on-and-off storybuilding spread out over a year, plus 13 straight months of drafting.

And this is an important first for me: from the moment I first typed "Chapter One" back in early March 2016 until today, I have never stopped working on it. This is the first time I've worked so consistently on a book, taking no unscheduled breaks until it is finished.

I can write a book in a year. I did write a book in a year! I'm astounded.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

No Catchy Titles Apply to This Post

I accomplished everything I wanted to yesterday. I just checked my post on AW, and it has only two replies. That's not necessarily a bad thing, though: in my experience, when a request for feedback gets very little response it generally means either the thing is so terrible people don't know where to start, or good enough that people don't want to nitpick. Based on the feedback I did get, I think it's the latter.

My goals for today:

1) Read the feedback and take notes, which I've done.

2) Work on the scene for one hour. I only have two tweaks to make based on the feedback, so after that I'll be doing exercises to try and sharpen the writing.

3) If I have time, work on the synopsis a little. I only have one line in there that I think is confusing and needs clarification. I'm also trying to decide whether to add in a subplot. I have about a quarter of a page to work with to keep the synopsis to 2 pages, so I'll see if I can sum up the subplot in that amount of space, and without introducing a whole bunch more characters. If I can, I'll sprinkle those lines in. If not, I won't add the subplot.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Progress Report

I did two hours of fiddling with the opening scene today. First I read it over and smoothed out anything that seemed awkward. Then I removed every adjective and adverb from the first five pages and considered each one individually. I probably eliminated a third of them, replaced another third with a stronger word, and kept the remaining third the same.

I have a few more exercises I'd like to do with the opening pages, but I figure I should see if I'm at least on the right track with it first. I posted the first 1,300 words to AW. I'll give it until Thursday morning to accumulate feedback.

In the meantime, I'm going to:

a) do the adjective/adverb exercise with the second half of the opening scene.

b) patch a gap in the MS where I tore out a few paragraphs and transplanted them to the opening.

c) read over the query and maybe tweak a few lines.

d) read the synopsis and evaluate how much work it still needs.

Monday, April 3, 2017

And There Was Rejoicing Throughout The Land...

After eight frustrating days, I have finished the draft of the new opening scene.

I'm not actually done with it, of course. Au contraire: tomorrow I will read it over, revise it however I see fit, and then post it to AW for another round of shredding critique.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

The Plan for April

I'm not going to do an hours goal for this month. Instead, I'm doing week-by-week goals.

For the first week of April, my goal is to finish this version of the opening scene: complete the draft, revise, and post to the AW forums for comments. I'll need to see what the comments are before I figure out the next step. I may wind up having to do yet another version if this one still doesn't work.

At least I feel like I'm making some solid progress with it now. I spent most of last week shaping the existing dialogue to fit the new sequence of events, and then changing my mind about the sequence of events. The end of the scene is complete, as are chunks of the middle, but I was banging my head against the wall trying to write a new beginning. I really liked the first line I had, but it didn't work with the revised action of the scene.

And then yesterday I figured out that with a tweak it could still work, and three hours of writing later I have the opening 1,000 words that connect to the first completed chunk almost done. This has been a slog, man. My brain had decided the book was finished, so making up new stuff for it has not been easy.

Friday, March 31, 2017

In Like Lamb, Out Like a Lion

This March has been nuts, weather wise. The first week of the month, we had super mild spring-like weather. Today we're getting a frakking blizzard.

Let's take a look at how I did with my macro and micro goals, shall we?

First the macro:

a) So. 30 hours on Mender. Did 40.

1) Finish the revision.

2) Spellcheck the MS.

3) Send it to my beta swap partner.

4) Work on my query. 

5) Give feedback to ~30 queries posted on Absolute Write. 

6) Submit my own query for feedback, and revise accordingly.

7) Write a synopsis.

8) Make changes to Mender as needed based on beta swap partner feedback. In progress. See micro goals.

b) 20 hours to figure out what I'm writing next  FAIL. I did maybe 3 hours, and didn't figure out jack. My head just wasn't in it.

I then split goal #8 above into a series of micro goals as follows:

1) Read through my beta swap partner's in-text feedback and make notes on the printout of the MS.

2) Make necessary changes to chapter 2 - the end.

3) Edit chapter 1. 

4) Give feedback for 8 novel openings on Absolute Write.

5) Post updated opening to forum for feedback. Edit again based on responses. In progress. This bit is killing me. I've worked on it for 8 hours so far and am not even kind of done. *sigh*

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Fifteen Years

I can't believe it was five years ago I posted about my ten-year anniversary of meeting The Husband on the first and only blind date of my life.

Today is the fifteenth anniversary of that date, and everything I said five years ago still holds true.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Opening Scene Open-Heart Surgery

When I got my first round of beta feedback, one of the consensuses was that the opening three-chapter prologue-like chunk was dragging on too long and negatively affecting the pacing of the first half of the book.

For the next draft, one of the changes I made was cutting 3,000+ words out of that opening chunk and condensing it from three chapters of four scenes to one two-scene chapter.

The beta feedback I got on that version was that the whole book was pretty much query-ready... except the first scene, which was still not working. Which is awesome, since it's not like the opening of the novel is important or anything. (Self-directed eye roll.)

I tried my best to tighten it up some more, and then posted the first 1,000 words on Absolute Write. The feedback I got has made me realize that I'm pretty much rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic over here. There is just too much WTF in the scene to justify heroic measures to save it.

This is a scary revelation to have one week before you were planning to start sending out queries. But I pulled on my big-girl panties and made a list of everything that I felt had to stay in the scene-- Mary meeting Leopold, most of their conversation, some worldbuilding aspects, tension between the magic-users and religious extremists-- and mentally let go of everything else.

Interestingly, I got a new idea almost immediately, and as of today have worked out a full outline, including dialogue. The outline is 1,500 words, but my outlines tend to be wordy, so I'm hopeful I can craft a 2,000 word scene that makes sense. My plan is to work on it two hours a day until it's done, and then post the first 1K words for feedback again, and rinse and repeat until I have something I'm happy with-- and which at least gets me a "this doesn't suck" majority opinion on the AW forums.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Another Update

1) Read through my beta swap partner's in-text feedback and make notes on the printout of the MS.

2) Make necessary changes to chapter 2 - the end.

3) Edit chapter 1.

4) Give feedback for 8 novel openings on Absolute Write. In progress. I'm up to 7 now.

5) Post updated opening to forum for feedback. Edit again based on responses. In progress. I posted the opening today. I've gotten two responses already, both absolutely ripping it to shreds. I'm going to give it another day or two to accumulate responses, and then it looks like I'll be doing a serious re-think and re-write of the opening for the rest of the month.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Have I Mentioned I Love Me a List?

1) Read through my beta swap partner's in-text feedback and make notes on the printout of the MS.

2) Make necessary changes to chapter 2 - the end. In progress. I'm 2/3 done.

3) Edit chapter 1. In progress. I'm done with scene 2 and am working on scene 1 now. I don't think I'm going to be able to cut 2,000 words from this chapter, though.

4) Give feedback for 8 novel openings on Absolute Write. In progress. I've done 4 so far.

5) Post updated opening to forum for feedback. Edit again based on responses.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Son of List-tastic

Another list of goals for the last ten days of March:

1) Read through my beta swap partner's in-text feedback and make notes on the printout of the MS.
In progress: I did the first third of the novel today

2) Make necessary changes to chapter 2 - the end.
I thought, based on comments on the first chapter, that there would be a ton of changes to make. Turns out that most her problems were with the opening scene; the other edits are very light. So I'm going to think of the edit in two chunks.

3) Edit chapter 1. Ruthlessly trim first scene. Chapter should get down to 5,000 words.
This will be the heavy edit.

4) Give feedback for 8 novel openings on Absolute Write.
I did 22 queries, so I'll get to 30 feedbacks by doing novel openings, in prep for step 5:

5) Post updated opening to forum for feedback. Edit again based on responses.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Plodding Along

I'm at 22 hours for the month so far.

The goal update:

1) Finish the revision. 

2) Spellcheck the MS.

3) Send it to my beta swap partner.

4) Work on my query.

5) Give feedback to ~30 queries posted on Absolute Write.  I'm at 22 queries and calling it good.

6) Submit my own query for feedback, and revise accordingly.  This could stand one more fiddle-- I think the last line could be punched up. But I'm laying it aside for now and will take another look in ~2 weeks when I start submitting.

7) Write a synopsis. UGH. I probably need two versions of this, since some agents want 1 page and some will give you up to 3. I took a look at the list of the first ten agents I plan to submit to, and the ones that want a synopsis all want 1-2 pages. So I decided working on the long synopsis wasn't the best use of my writing time right now. I have a full outline and it's 1/4 done, so if I suddenly needed it I could knock it off in a few hours. I finished the short synopsis and, as with the query, am letting it rest for now.

8) Make changes to Mender as needed based on beta swap partner feedback. In progress. I've printed out the latest draft and stapled the chapters together, and made notes on the first chapter. My plan is to make notes from the feedback on 1/3 of the book a day for the next three days, then evaluate where to go from there. I'm still hoping to be ready to start submitting by end of this month, but I don't want to skimp, particularly when it comes to fixing issues of representation.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Mid-Month Goal Update

1) Finish the revision. I might be able to do this today-- the edits needed on the last 13% of the book are very light.

2) Spellcheck the MS.

3) Send it to my beta swap partner.

4) Work on my query. I have a draft of one, but I know it will need a lot of work. Queries are a bitch.

5) Give feedback to ~30 queries posted on Absolute Write.--in progress. I've done 16 queries so far. I think I'm adjusting this goal to ~20.

6) Submit my own query for feedback, and revise accordingly. --in progress. I've made notes on all the feedback I got, and am halfway through revising it. I hope to be done with it tomorrow. Then I'll post the revision for more feedback, and probably fiddle with it a little more before calling it done.

7) Write a synopsis. UGH. I probably need two versions of this, since some agents want 1 page and some will give you up to 3. --in progress. I've done exercises to create an outline for the long version, and for the short version I'm following the template I used for the short version of the TOB synopsis. Short version is about 1/3 done; long version is about 1/10 done. My goal is to have both versions done by Monday.

8) Make changes to Mender as needed based on beta swap partner feedback.--planning to start this Monday. I've gotten the feedback from my swap partner and read through her e-mail of general comments. The meat of her feedback is in the in-text comments, though. Today I sent the most recent version of the MS to be printed so I can make notes on a hard copy.

Friday, March 10, 2017

March Goal Update

1) Finish the revision. I might be able to do this today-- the edits needed on the last 13% of the book are very light.

2) Spellcheck the MS.

3) Send it to my beta swap partner.

4) Work on my query. I have a draft of one, but I know it will need a lot of work. Queries are a bitch.

5) Give feedback to ~30 queries posted on Absolute Write. in progress. I've done about 12 so far.

6) Submit my own query for feedback, and revise accordingly. in progress. I just submitted the query today. I'll give it 2 days to accumulate responses, and then dive back into it.

7) Write a synopsis. UGH. I probably need two versions of this, since some agents want 1 page and some will give you up to 3.

8) Make changes to Mender as needed based on beta swap partner feedback.

I've worked for about 9 hours on the submission stuff so far, which puts me exactly on track for 30 hours for the month.

Things have been significantly less successful with part 2 of my goal. I did spent about 2.5 hours rereading the last draft of Eleven Names, but it was painful. To be honest, I am just not feeling the love for any project right now. And there is zero point to story building something you aren't super-psyched to work on. I'll see how I feel about it at the mid-month mark, but right now I'm thinking this "figure out what to write next" goal might have to wait for April.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

How I Love a List

1) Finish the revision. I might be able to do this today-- the edits needed on the last 13% of the book are very light.

2) Spellcheck the MS.

3) Send it to my beta swap partner.

It was a productive day yesterday!

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

The List-tastic Plan for March

I'd like to go for 50 hours this month, but I'm going to split them 30/20 between a) making the submission package for Mender, and b) figuring out what I'm writing next.

a) So. 30 hours on Mender. I need to:

1) Finish the revision. I might be able to do this today-- the edits needed on the last 13% of the book are very light.

2) Spellcheck the MS.

3) Send it to my beta swap partner.

4) Work on my query. I have a draft of one, but I know it will need a lot of work. Queries are a bitch.

5) Give feedback to ~30 queries posted on Absolute Write. I am counting this toward my writing hours for two reasons: a) because analyzing what's going wrong with other queries makes your own stronger, and b) because some critters on AW only give feedback to users who also give feedback, and even though I've given tons of feedback in the past, it's been a while, and people have probably forgotten me. I don't want to come off like I'm barging in and asking for something I'm not willing to give back.

6) Submit my own query for feedback, and revise accordingly.

7) Write a synopsis. UGH. I probably need two versions of this, since some agents want 1 page and some will give you up to 3.

8) Make changes to Mender as needed based on beta swap partner feedback.

As for b) figuring out what I'm writing next, I have four possibilities to consider:

1) Going back to Eleven Names and rewriting it. I still think the concept for this one is strong, and I feel like I've grown enough as a writer to do it justice. But I have such a history with it; it's giving me pause. It's like trying to decide whether to go back into therapy to save a relationship that's been dysfunctional for years. Do you have the energy? Do you care enough?

2) An adult Science Fiction novel that technically takes place in the same story universe as Eleven Names and The Owl Bearer, but is unrelated to that plot line and can totally stand alone. I can clearly envision the first 1/4 or so of the book, which is a good sign it's close to ready to be written. It will be my first story set on another planet, which means I'll need to do more ground-up worldbuilding than usual.

3) The first book in a YA Science Fiction trilogy/series. I have a lot of ideas floating around my head for it, but they don't all make sense. My instincts tell me this one needs to marinate longer, but if I did some story-building work on it maybe it would all fall into place.

4) A Fantasy/Romance novella that is completely unrelated to anything else I have written or plan to write. I got the idea and the first two pages just poured out effortlessly. Then I wasn't sure what to do next, and I set it aside to start writing Mender. That was year ago, but the idea is still nagging at me. And maybe it's worthwhile to have something I can shop around to magazines and online publishers like Book Smugglers while I'm also trying to get dead-tree published with the Big Six.

So, the plan: I intend to spend five hours on each of these possibilities in March. For five hours, I will pretend that THIS is the one, and do the first five hours of stuff I need to do to get it ready to go. At the end of the month, I'll evaluate where each one stands, and-- fingers crossed-- will be able to determine which is best choice for now.

And with that, I better go get the hell to work.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

February Goal Wrap-Up

Goal 1: Write for 40 hours. I wrote for 43.5 hours this month, so check!

Goal 2: Finish the Revision on Mender. As of today I am 87% done.

Goal 3: Give feedback on my beta swap partner's novel. Check!

Goal 4: Submit TOB to 10 more agents. Check!

Goal 5: Submit Mender to the Pitch Madness contest. Check!

Not too shabby.

Monday, February 20, 2017

February is Two-Thirds Done

How did THAT happen??

I'm at 54% through the revision. I really am over the hump of the heavier revisions, though. I have one (short) entirely new chapter to write, and near the end of the book I am making significant changes to another (short) chapter, but other than that it's all little clarifications and cosmetic line editing. Still, I dunno if I'm going to finish this thing by the end of the month. It's school vacation this week, which means less time to work on it.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Mid-Month Report

I'm at 26 hours of writing for the month so far, and I am 45% through the revision!

Friday, February 10, 2017

Checking In

I'm at 16.5 hours for the month so far, so right on track.

I'm currently about a third of the way through the rewrite. I wound up making massive changes to one chapter, and that took a while. I've also shuffled the order of a few chapters, to try to get the external action of the story going earlier in the book.

I'm hoping to be done by the end of the month, but we'll see. As long as I'm working a reasonable number of hours a month, I'm going to try and not get impatient about my progress. It isn't even a year since I started writing the first draft!

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

February Goals

The past two months I've set my goal at 60 hours and failed miserably. So this time I'm taking into account the shortness of the month, the beginning of the busy season at work, and the potential for being derailed by illness, and setting the goal at 40 hours. If I do more than that, great.

I am deep into the revision now, and starting to enjoy it. I've radically revised the opening from three chapters to one chapter of two long scenes. It's still not as short as I'd like, and I still think the first 2-3 pages need more oomph, but overall I think the changes are good for the story as a whole. Now I'm shuffling the order of some scenes to get the plot points rolling earlier. I do think that most of the heavier revision will be in the first half, while the second half will be line editing and clarifications.

In other news, I have a new beta/sensitivity reader lined up to read this draft once I'm done with it! We've swapped, so I'm reading her novel now and then she'll read mine when its done. A few weeks ago I was feeling really antsy to be done with this book and move on to the next project (probably the stand-alone Sci-Fi I mentioned earlier), but now I'm feeling like the quest for publication is such an agonizingly long process, an extra month or two spent polishing the book won't make much difference in the long run.

And that provides a nice segue to talk about my quest-for-publication goals. I still haven't submitted TOB to the final 10 agents on my list, maybe because subconsciously I'm trying to delay the moment of giving up on getting that book published. I think I need to move on, though, so this is the month I'm biting the bullet.

It's also Pitch Madness submission on Feb. 24. I've had mixed luck with pitch contests, but I'm going to give this one a whirl and submit a pitch for Mender. So another goal for February will be to perfect a 35-word pitch and edit the first 250 words of the novel.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

January Wrap-Up

I made my modified goal for January-- 25 hours. According to my calculations, I am 16% though the revision of Mender.

I also read 11 books this month, including 5 for my "read the next book in series" reading challenge, so a big win there!

Monday, January 23, 2017

Best-Laid Plans, Etc.

So I have WAY overestimated how much rewriting I'd be able to get done in January.

The main issue is that I needed more time than I realized to absorb the critiques from my beta readers. With TOB, I'd worked on the book for so long, I could tear through the feedback and dive right back into the rewrite. This time, I got a round of feedback and had to think about it a while. Then I started working on the rewrite... and then got another beta reader critique, and had to think about that one a while. Not heavy-duty pondering-- more like I had to let it all sink in and subtly re-shape my thoughts about the book, and then organize that vision into a plan.

The issues I need to work on seem to be:

1) My worldbuilding needs be made clearer. I didn't want to overload the text with infodumping, but from the reader feedback it's clear I went too far in the other direction. I need to add much more explanation and clarification, because right now there are too many things that are confusing and/or coming off as poorly thought out.

2) There are a few plot holes that aren't exactly holes-- more like places where all the plot logic didn't make it from my brain to the page. I need to fill those.

3) The beginning is dragging on too long, and throwing off the pacing of the first half of the book. This was my major concern about the book when I sent it out for feedback, but getting the critiques has given me the courage to take a deep breath and radically revise the opening.

So it's only now that I'm getting back to the rewrite. As of today I've worked for 15 hours this month, so my original goal of 60 hours for the month is clearly not going to happen. I'm revising that to 25 hours for the month, which should be totally doable.

At the moment, I'm working on the opening, which needs by far the most revision and will undoubtably take the longest. The first three chapters/10,000 words functioned almost like an extended prologue; I am ruthlessly cutting them down to one chapter of no more than 5,000 words. I have already cut over 4,000 words, but I'm needing to add some worldbuilding stuff as well, so it's complicated. I would not be at all surprised if it takes me the rest of the month just to finish it, but then I expect the revisions will go faster and faster the further I get into the book.

That's the State of the Writing!

Sunday, January 1, 2017

My 2017 Series Reading Challenge

Back in July, I posted about all the series I have in progress and plan to finish, as well as about the series I'm undecided about finishing. My reading goal for this year is to read the next book in 24 of these series. That's two a month, and should be totally doable.

I've only included on this list series in which the next book I need to read is out and waiting for me. There are plenty more series I will doubtlessly continue with this year, but I am waiting on the next book/volume.

The list, in no particular order:

1) League of Dragons by Naomi Novik, 9th and last book of the Temeraire series.

2) Blackout by Connie Willis, 3rd book of 4.5 in the Oxford Time Travel series.

3) Olympos by Dan Simmons, 2nd and last book of the Ilium duology.

4) The Turning Season by Sharon Shinn, 3rd and last book of the Shifting Circle trilogy.

5) The Spirit War by Rachel Aaron, 2nd book of 5 in the Eli Monpress series.

6) Memory by Lois McMaster Bujold, 11th (? hard to say) book of 21 in the Vorkosigan Saga series.

7) The Barbed Rose by Gail Dayton, 2nd book of 3 in the One Rose trilogy.

8) Zoe's Tale by John Scalzi, 4th book of 6 in the Old Man's War series.

9) The Shores of Spain by J. Kathleen Cheney, 3rd book of 4+ in the Golden City series.

10) Jeweled Fire by Sharon Shinn, 3rd book of 4+ in the Elemental Blessings series.

11) I Shot the Buddha by Colin Cotterill, 11th book of 11 in the Dr. Siri Investigations series.

12) The Amok Runners by Colin Cotterill, 4th book of 4+? in the Jimm Juree Mysteries series.

13) Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood, 1st book (technically) in the MaddAddam series (I read book 2 first).

14) Caliban's War by James S.A. Corey, 2nd book of 6+ in The Expanse series.

15) Stiletto by Daniel O'Malley, 2nd book of 2+? in the Rook Files series.

16) Octavian Nothing: Kingdom on the Waves by M.T. Anderson, 2nd and last book in the Octavian Nothing duology

17) As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust by Alan Bradley, 7th of 8+? in the Flavia de Luce series

18) The Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss, 2nd book of 3 in the Kingkiller Chronicles trilogy.

19) The Queen of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner, 2nd book of 5+ in the Queen's Thief series.

20) Artemis Fowl: The Time Paradox by Eoin Colfer, 5th book of 7 in the Artemis Fowl series.

21) Ghostly Echoes by William Ritter, 3rd book of 3+ in the Jackaby series.

22) Fire by Kristin Cashore, 2nd book of 3 in the Graceling Realm trilogy.

23) Ms. Marvel: Super Famous by G. Willow Wilson, 5th book of 5+ in the Ms. Marvel series.

24) The Iron Hand by Scott Chantler, 7th and last book in the Three Thieves series.

Writing Goals for January

December was pretty much a bust, writing-wise.

My unconditional goal for the month: write for 60 hours.

Conditional goal: complete rewrite of Mender.