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Weekend Writing Warrior 8/10/20 #8Sunday

The Maiden in the Tower coverHappy Sunday and happy Weekend Writing Warrior blog hop!

This week’s excerpt is from “The Maiden in the Tower,” my retelling of Rapunzel set in the Viking-infused world of The Heartsbane Saga. I’m continuing on from last week, when our heroine Carys dropped her cleaning supplies out her tower window and onto a dude’s head. Her mistress then showed up and Carys ducked back inside.

* * * * * * *

Storm Llanfaell stood beneath the window, waiting for it to reopen. He’d traveled half the known world, and yet the woman he’d just met had just captured his heart.

The rain continued and still he stood there in the street, waiting. Finally, as night fell and his stomach rumbled in protest, he made a note of where he was and went searching for dinner.

He entered the first tavern his path crossed. As he waited for his drink and meal, he asked the barkeep, “Tell me, sir, who lives in that large stone house three streets over from here?”

“There are a lot of large stone houses in this part of the city.”

“The one with the shuttered windows on the fourth floor of a tower.”

“That be Llyswa,” the man beside him at the bar said. “A witch of a woman if ever there was one.”

* * * * * * *

And here’s the rest of that scene:

“Oh?”

“Aye,” the barkeep said. “She’ll help ya out of a pinch, but only in exchange for your soul.”

“Or your children’s souls,” added the customer. “She trades the wee ones all over the country, although the prettier girls tend to end up working the whorehouses here in town.”

“She’s a slaver,” Storm said flatly. Slavery was outlawed in Llogeria, but that didn’t stop the trade.

“She’s a cousin of the king, is what she is,” the customer said with a laugh. “That makes her a debt collector.”

Storm thought about what he’d learned as he lay awake in bed that night. A merchant by trade, he well knew that there were different rules for the rich and the nobility. Still, it hardly seemed fair that this woman could sell children with the king’s blessing.

The woman he’d talked to today wasn’t a child, though. Even four stories above him he could tell she was beautiful: long golden hair he wanted to run his fingers through, full red lips he longed to kiss….

He would find a way to rescue her. Even if she didn’t return his feelings, he wouldn’t rest until she was free.

* * * * * * *

Read the rest of “The Maiden in the Tower,” just $.99 at Amazon, then post a link to your eight-ten sentence blog entry or join the fun at the Weekend Writing Warriors website. Also, book 1, Captive and the Cursed (which is Beauty and the Beast – with Vikings!) releases September 1st and is available for pre-order now.

* * * * * * *

About “The Maiden in the Tower:”

Rapunzel – with Vikings!

Carys barely remembers her life before her father sold her to pay his debts. Locked away in her mistress’s chamber, she doesn’t dare to dream of anything better for herself, until a chance encounter with a traveling merchant changes her life forever.

Storm has traveled the lengths of the known world, yet when he sees a servant girl locked in a tower, he knows he’ll do anything to rescue her.

Can Storm and Carys overcome the obstacles in their path and reach the happily ever after they both want?

The Maiden in the Tower is a standalone short story that accompanies a series of fairy tales retold in a world of Vikings. If you like sassy heroines, adventures spanning the medieval world, and a touch of romance, you’ll love The Heartsbane Saga, E.D. Martin’s new historical fantasy series.

Friday Five: horror/suspense author J.P. Barnett

friday fiveToday’s Friday Five focus is J.P. Barnett, author of horror/suspense novels.

J.P. Barnett is the author of the award-winning Lorestalker series, a collection of paranormal horror suspense/thrillers examining folklore and tall tales of mysterious creatures roaming our world, published by Evolved Publishing LLC. His debut novel, The Beast of Rose Valley, won the Pinnacle Achievement Award and was a finalist in the Readers’ Favorite Awards. The follow-up, The Kraken of Cape Madre, released to rave reviews, and was named a Top-5 finalist in the 2019 Kindle Book Awards. J.P. currently resides in San Antonio with his wife and hellion of a cat, both of whom look at him dubiously with some frequency.

In his first book, The Beast of Rose Valley, it’s not awkward at all when you’re forced on a family vacation with your new stepmother and her young daughter. Even worse when a malevolent force wants to kill you.

* * * * * * * * * * *

JP Barnett1. What author has influenced your writing style/subject the most and why?

Michael Crichton – he has always been one of my favorite authors. I always loved the way he blended real science with science fiction. Though I don’t write in the science fiction genre currently, I still aim for the blend of the real and the imagined.

2. If you could pick just one book to read for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?

Ready Player One. It’s so dense with references that it might take a lifetime to absorb them all.

3. What are three things on your bucket list?

1) Take a month-long trip to Australia

2) Write 20 books before I die

3) Learn to trust myself and live life on my own terms

4. How much of your published writing is based on personal experiences?

Though it wouldn’t seem like it on the surface, a part of me lives in every character I write. Though there are monsters, those are really just a stand-in for the internal monsters we all fight on a daily basis.

5. What is the most important thing that people DON’T know about your subject/genre, that you think they need to know?

Sometimes it’s a hard sell to get people to read my books. A lot of people don’t care for horror, and worry about getting too scared. My books are very approachable, though, and I wish I could explain that they really fit in some middle genre between urban fantasy and horror. Also, I think a lot of people might find it interesting that most of my “monsters” are based on real-life folklore of cryptids around the world.

* * * * * * * * * * *

The Beast of Rose Valley, The Kraken of Cape Madre, and the rest of the Lorestalker series are currently available at Amazon. Connect with J.P. on Twitter or Facebook.

Become a Friday Five author or read previous author interviews.

Weekend Writing Warrior 8/2/20 #8Sunday

The Maiden in the Tower coverHow is it already August, yet it seems as if 2020 has lasted forever and probably will never end? Anyone else feeling that way too?

Regardless of what kind of timeless alternate timeline we’ve found ourselves in, today is Sunday which means I’m again participating in the Weekend Writing Warrior blog hop.

This week’s excerpt is from “The Maiden in the Tower,” my retelling of Rapunzel set in the Viking-infused world of The Heartsbane Saga. This skips forward from last week’s excerpt, to Carys’s new life sold into servitude to pay her father’s debts.

* * * * * * *

And so the years passed, until one day when Carys was fifteen and her mistress was once again gone. A gentle spring rain was falling outside, pattering against the tin roof overhead as she dusted her lady’s chamber. On an impulse, she threw open the shutters and stuck her head out the window. She giggled as the water dripped down her upturned face, bringing back muddled memories of running through the rain in Orllewinol. So caught up was she in this long-forgotten memory, she relaxed her grip on her duster.

“Hey there, watch what you’re doing!”

An angry shout roused her and she quickly looked down at the street below, at the young man rubbing his head.

“I’m quite sorry, sir! It’s the rain’s fault though, and not any ill will towards you.”

* * * * * * *

And here’s the rest of that scene:

As he looked up at her, the man’s face broke out into a smile. “The rain, you say?”

“Yes, the rain! I hadn’t felt it on my face in so long, and I suppose I got caught up in the sensation and lost track of what I was doing.”

“I suppose then it’s best it was just the duster that fell and not you.” He paused. “At least four floors to fall past.”

“It is a long ways down.” Carys frowned. “I dinnae suppose you could throw the duster back up?”

“Wouldn’t it just be easier for you to come down and get it?” he asked.

“Perhaps if I were a bird and could fly down.” She laughed at the image. “But I’m just a girl, and I can’t leave my mistress’s chamber.”

Now it was the man’s turn to frown. “Are you a prisoner then?”

* * * * * * *

Read the rest of “The Maiden in the Tower,” just $.99 at Amazon, then post a link to your eight-ten sentence blog entry or join the fun at the Weekend Writing Warriors website. Also, book 1, Captive and the Cursed (which is Beauty and the Beast – with Vikings!) releases September 1st and is available for pre-order now.

* * * * * * *

About “The Maiden in the Tower:”

Rapunzel – with Vikings!

Carys barely remembers her life before her father sold her to pay his debts. Locked away in her mistress’s chamber, she doesn’t dare to dream of anything better for herself, until a chance encounter with a traveling merchant changes her life forever.

Storm has traveled the lengths of the known world, yet when he sees a servant girl locked in a tower, he knows he’ll do anything to rescue her.

Can Storm and Carys overcome the obstacles in their path and reach the happily ever after they both want?

The Maiden in the Tower is a standalone short story that accompanies a series of fairy tales retold in a world of Vikings. If you like sassy heroines, adventures spanning the medieval world, and a touch of romance, you’ll love The Heartsbane Saga, E.D. Martin’s new historical fantasy series.

Weekend Writing Warrior 7/26/20 #8Sunday

Wow, it’s been almost two years since I’ve participated in the Weekend Writing Warriors blog hop, and it’s good to be back – with a new release, no less! This week’s excerpt is from “The Maiden in the Tower,” my retelling of Rapunzel set in the Viking-infused world of The Heartsbane Saga.

* * * * * * *

The Maiden in the Tower cover“Race you,” Carys called to her friends as they ran from the village green to the river bordering their tiny village.

“No fair,” one boy shouted after her, “you already started!”

“Then you should run faster!” Carys said with a laugh.

Carys didn’t actually care about winning. For her, the race was all about the rush of the wind in her long hair, the feel of the cool grass beneath her bare feet. She had lots of chores waiting for her in her father’s small cottage on the edge of the village, but right now, on this beautiful spring day, it was all about the moment.

“Carys,” a voice boomed after her, “Carys Tew!”

The children stopped and looked at each other, wide-eyed.

“Oh, Carys, you’re in trouble now,” one boy whispered.

* * * * * * *

Find out just what kind of trouble Carys is in by getting “The Maiden in the Tower,” just $.99 at Amazon, then post a link to your eight-ten sentence blog entry or join the fun at the Weekend Writing Warriors website.

* * * * * * *

About “The Maiden in the Tower:”

Rapunzel – with Vikings!

Carys barely remembers her life before her father sold her to pay his debts. Locked away in her mistress’s chamber, she doesn’t dare to dream of anything better for herself, until a chance encounter with a traveling merchant changes her life forever.

Storm has traveled the lengths of the known world, yet when he sees a servant girl locked in a tower, he knows he’ll do anything to rescue her.

Can Storm and Carys overcome the obstacles in their path and reach the happily ever after they both want?

The Maiden in the Tower is a standalone short story that accompanies a series of fairy tales retold in a world of Vikings. If you like sassy heroines, adventures spanning the medieval world, and a touch of romance, you’ll love The Heartsbane Saga, E.D. Martin’s new historical fantasy series.

New release!!

The Maiden in the Tower coverAfter months and years of talking about The Heartsbane Saga, the new series I’ve been working on, I’ve finally released a book into the world!

Two books, actually.

The first is a standalone short story, “The Maiden in the Tower.”

Rapunzel – with Vikings!

Carys barely remembers her life before her father sold her to pay his debts. Locked away in her mistress’s chamber, she doesn’t dare to dream of anything better for herself, until a chance encounter with a traveling merchant changes her life forever.

Storm has traveled the lengths of the known world, yet when he sees a servant girl locked in a tower, he knows he’ll do anything to rescue her.

Can Storm and Carys overcome the obstacles in their path and reach the happily ever after they both want?

Captive and the Cursed CoverThe second release is Book 1, Captive and the Cursed.

Beauty and the Beast – with Vikings!

Nyah Llanfaell’s merchant father raised her and her younger sister Payton on tales of treasure and barbarians, but when he returns home from his latest trip addle-minded, Nyah must put aside her dreams of adventure and focus on more practical matters, such as securing their future through her betrothal to Wynne Maddox, the illiterate son of the village toísech. That future is threatened when a roving band of Karjalander barbarians kidnap Payton, and the village leaders, Wynne included, will do nothing to rescue her. Nyah has no choice but to take matters into her own hands. She offers herself in her sister’s place, doomed to travel with the barbarian army until their price is paid.

The army is led by Karjalander warrior Brandulfur Gudrodarson, a man who suffers from a hideous, painful curse that’s been put upon him and his court. Although the official reason he is in Llogeria is to aid his childhood friend in raising an army to support the Llogerian king, he’s on a personal quest for the book that holds the cure for his curse – a book that Nyah soon realizes her father stole from him.

Determined to return to her family, she’ll need all the allies she can get. But she soon realizes no one is who they seem, including the people closest to her. She’ll have to make hard choices if she wants her life to be the same as before – but is Nyah even the person she thinks she is?

“The Maiden in the Tower” is available through Amazon for just $.99, and Captive and the Cursed is available for preorder, scheduled to release September 1st. The short story will be wide within the next couple weeks, and Book 1 will be within a week of its release.

Make sure you get your copies, then read and review!

Media Monday: Game of Thrones

Media MondayThe book: Game of Thrones (Song of Ice and Fire book 1) by George RR Martin

The song: “I Hate My Life” by Theory of a Deadman

I know I’m late to the party with this. I’ve never actually watched the show, but I’ve seen enough clips and analysis to know the basics of it, along with all the spoilers. I’m trying to read more, so I thought I’d give this a shot.

Overall, the writing is really good. Martin does a great job of building a very complex world, without overwhelming the reader with unnecessary details a la Robert Jordan. But that complexity is what made me decide to stop after book 1: there’s too many characters, and too many plot lines, and overall too much politics that I just don’t care about.

And maybe it’s the school social worker in me, I don’t know, but so many of the characters’ problems could be avoided if they just let kids be kids! “I’m 8, so I’m a grown ass man now!” Bran exclaims. “I’m 12, so I can be a grown ass king now!” Joffrey exclaims. No. These kids, and Sansa and Dany too, need to be at home playing with GI Joes and Barbies instead of getting married and starting wars. You know what happens when you let someone with the mentality of a kid rule you? He starts a major war when he beheads his political rival, and before you know if you have armed military members putting Portland protesters in unmarked vans while we all die of a containable plague.

The accompanying song doesn’t have much to do with the books, but the singer is pretty whiny in this song and it reminded me of the characters.

If you’ve read any of the Song of Ice and Fire books, or seen the show, what are your thoughts on it? Share in the comments below!

Summer 2020 goal review – ‘Ronaverse edition (again)

What is normal anymore? This pandemic has been going on for months. We’re adapting (kind of), but then what we’re adapting to changes. I don’t even know any more.

Anyways, here’s my quarterly review of how my progress towards my goals is going.

  1. Finish and submit/publish my Heartsbane series and 7+ related short stories.
    Still working on edits. Two short stories are done (.5, “The Maiden in the Tower” and 5.5 “The Fabiranum Town Thieves”). Edits are almost done for book 1 and I will FORCE MYSELF to get it to my editor in the next week. I need to get this done already.
  2. Publish to Medium at least twice a month.
    So far in 2020 I’ve published 16 stories on Medium, with one more submitted and waiting on publication. I’ve gotten at least 2 stories published every month since January, and 3 months I had 3-4 stories. Writing microfictions definitely helps with this.
  3. Continue to increase my networking.
    My goal is to comment on, clap for, and/or share at least 15 people’s blog posts or works, at least 4-5 times a week. I thought I’d be better with this since I’ve been mostly working from home the past several months, but I’m probably only meeting this about once a week. I’m doing a conference (virtual, unfortunately, due to the ‘rona) with Brian Cohen next month, and that should be great for networking.
  4. Buy a cabin on Lake Superior.
    Everything is still on hold with this. Craft shows are starting back up, but I don’t feel very comfortable being around unmasked people. Side counseling is also on hold due to the pandemic. AND the transmission just went out in my van; I’m fighting with my extended warranty company over fixing it, which could be very expensive if they won’t cover it. With retail and everything opening back up, I’m looking into maybe getting a part-time job, at least for the time being, because I really need this cabin for my mental well-being.
  5. Marie Kondo the shit outta my life.
    Living room is done and hasn’t really filled back up with clutter (other than the bags of stuff to go to Goodwill and my mask-making stuff all over the coffee table). Due to the nice weather I’ve switched gears to outside. My dad and I put in a retaining wall out front, with an herb garden in one bed and flowers in another. I added more vegetable beds and fruit trees outside too. It’s now super hot and humid here in the Midwest, so I’m back inside more than out. Time to tackle probably my dining room and my basement. One of the problems with the dining room, however, is that it’s filled with yarn and so every time I move a ball or skein I start making something with it. Oh well.
  6. Read 100 books.
    Right now I’m at 16 books for the year, which is 35 behind where I should be. I just haven’t been in the mood to read anything; work has been really emotionally draining over the past couple months, with lots of tough client situations, and when I unwind I don’t want to have to think. A few authors I enjoy have new books coming out soon though, so maybe this’ll pick up for me.

One thing I have done, that’s not reflected in the goals above, is knocked several travel destinations off my bucket list. My son and I drove out US Rte 6 to Boston in March (we drove the western part of it in 2016), so I’ve now driven the entire 3200 miles of it! We were supposed to go to New York too at the time, but our trip was cut short by the pandemic. I also finally made it to Carhenge on Memorial Day weekend, a place I’ve wanted to go since I was probably about 12 or 13. And I just got back from a road trip with my son to Delaware, which was the last of the lower 48 states we hadn’t been to. (For the last two trips, I camped most of the way, wore a mask when I was in public, and generally avoided people.) Google has this timeline thing where they put a dot on a map for every place you go when you have the location turned on for your phone, and my goal now is to fill in the missing dots. Upcoming possible destinations for camping road trips include southern Missouri/Arkansas and Michigan/Wisconsin/Minnesota, depending on how many vacation days I have and how stupid other people are being.

Carhenge

Carhenge is both stupidly awesome and awesomely stupid. Definitely worth the drive to see it.

Overall, I’m making progress on some goals, not so much on others. A large part of this is the pandemic; I have more time on my hands, and I’m always less productive when I don’t have dozens of things that HAVE to get done. I need external deadlines, not internal. If you have similar issues with ignoring self-imposed deadlines, please let me know in the comments below!

If you’ve set goals for yourself, what are they? How are you doing with them?

Media Monday: Yep, that’s racist too

Media MondayThe books: A series I’m not going to name because I don’t want people attacking the author

The media: “Pocahontas Was a Mistake, and Here’s Why!” by Lindsay Ellis

Scenario one:

I used to live in Bismarck, ND, about a decade or so ago. When I moved into my house, my landlord said to me, “There’s an Indian family who lives next door, but they’re okay.” My initial reaction was, “Yeah, why wouldn’t they be?” And then, as I lived in this town, I realized that the residents were generally racist AF towards the Native Americans who lived on the nearby Standing Rock Lakota Reservation. Like, to the point that we had a rundown-ish Walmart close to the reservation and a new shiny Walmart on the northside of town for the white people. I mentioned this comment to a friend who was equally appalled. “Native Americans are such a noble people!” Ouch.

Scenario two:

I recently went on a social distancing vacation, just me driving around the prairie in my van, hiking and generally avoiding people. It was glorious. But anyways. I wanted to go to the Wounded Knee memorial on the Pine Ridge Reservation. I was able to drive across the Rosebud Reservation, but Pine Ridge was closed, with checkpoints, so I had to take a raincheck. The reservations have been hit especially hard by COVID-19, for a multitude of reasons. The main one being, lack of access to healthcare. Have you ever been to a reservation town, especially out West? They just seem…tired, especially when compared to non-reservation towns. It’s nothing you can even really describe, just a vibe I get. I think it’s something you just pick up on the more you travel, like how you can get a different feel when you’re in the Midwest compared to the South compared to the West. If you’ve experienced this and can articulate it better, please do in the comments!

Scenario three:

The area I live in was once home to Sauk and Mesquawki/Fox tribes, and my town was built on the remnants of Saukenuk, a massive, prosperous town of nearly 5000 people in then 1820s, when the US government (of course) came through and kicked people out. Every fall the tribes return to the park that’s now all that’s left for a celebratory pow-wow, complete with lots of dancing, crafts, and food. About seven or eight years ago, I took my son, who was about six or seven at the time, and he made the comment that he’d never seen a real Native American before. I was floored and explained to him that we saw tons of them when we lived in North Dakota; they act and dress just like everyone else in America. And then we had a long conversation about how many are forced to choose between staying on the reservation, with all its problems but also with keeping that connection to one’s culture and family, or moving off the reservation to get out of poverty but losing that connection.

Scenario four:

The plot of this week’s books. Basically, there’s this event where a quarter or so of the world’s population wakes up as one of four groups: ogre, dwarf, fairy, or Native American. Yes, Native Americans are lumped in with fantasy races. I made it through 1.5 of the books and there’s no explanation of whether having any Indigenous People’s heritage plays a part in this. Anyways, the Native Americans band together to take on and defeat the US, thus regaining their land, or at least some of it, and forming their own nation. No explanation that I recall of whether people still identify as a member of a particular tribe.

I think we can all agree that forcing Native Americans onto reservations was a bad thing. Forcing their children to go to missionary schools that forcibly erased their culture was bad. But elevating them to a mythical race, or a noble race, or even just lumping them all in as Native Americans and not Lakota or Iroquois or Navajo or Cherokee can be just as damaging. People on reservations are struggling right now, pretty damn bad. There’s also substance use and domestic violence and poverty and the US government being giant jerkfaces regarding their sovereignty. I’m not saying we should focus just on the negatives, because they also have rich cultures and traditions. Like all cultures, they have positives and negatives. But romanticizing them, or treating them as a long-extinct race, isn’t helping anyone.

(Also, I definitely want to say that these books weren’t bad; they were well written and had good pacing and character development, but I just couldn’t make it past that scenario 4 above.)

Usually my book reviews include a related song, but that just didn’t feel right for this topic. So, instead, I’m linking to a video by Lindsay Ellis about Disney and their portrayal of other cultures, how it’s evolved but still isn’t where it should be.

What are your thoughts on portraying other cultures in media? Does it always have to be 100% accurate, or is it okay to take some liberties with them? What about lumping them all together (eg, Native American culture vs Lakota or Iroquois or Seminole, Asian culture vs Chinese or Japanese or Thai)?

Media Monday: Superheroes

Media MondayThe books: Reformed: Supervillain Rehabilitation Project #1 by HL Burke and The Superhero Publicist by Janeen Ippolito

The song: “Holding out for a Hero” by Jennifer Saunders and Frou Frou and Bonnie Tyler

I’m not a big superhero person. I like Batman but haven’t seen any of the new Superman or Batman or Wonder Woman (why is that two words but Superman isn’t??) movies or any of the Marvel universe ones. That said, I still enjoyed these superhero stories.

The first one, Reformed: Supervillain Rehabilitation Project #1 by HL Burke, is set in a world that reminds me of The Incredibles. Superpowers are common enough, and the heroes work with the government to thwart the villains. It’s a bit too black-and-white – there aren’t many sables, as they’re called, who reject either side – but it still works. The MC, Prism, reboots a government program aimed at reforming villains, and she sets her sights on the worst of the worst: Fade, who is accused of betraying her father’s trust when he ran the program before, and of killing a bunch of people. There’s some romance thrown in, of course, as Prism tries to convince Fade he really is a good person inside. As someone who has no qualms about straddling the line between chaotic good and chaotic neutral, I don’t necessarily agree with this – why can’t people just be evil because they want to be evil? – but otherwise, it’s a nice story and a quick read. The characters are similar to those in other books by the author, but that’s not a bad thing either.

The second book, The Superhero Publicist by Janeen Ippolito, is a short about, as the title aptly describes, a publicist for superheroes. She’s working with a new client, a reformed villain now trying to be on the right side of the law for a very specific reason that twists the story around. Definitely worth reading as well.

The song is one of my favorites. When I was 5 or 6, my parents, for whatever reason, got me the Footloose soundtrack for Christmas (and The Go-Go’s Beauty and the Beat, also for reasons beyond me because both had already been out for many years and my parents didn’t even really listen to this kind of music but whatever). I listened to it a TON and still have a soft spot for most of the songs. This is one of my favorites, and so of course I was thrilled when it showed up at the end of the best Shrek movie, Shrek II. Frou Frou, a band I love, also threw in a version for the end credits.

I’m not sure I’d hold out for a hero from either of these two books, but it’s still fitting.

Which version of the song do you like best? What are your thoughts on superheros, heroes vs villains, and superpowers in general? Tell me in the comments below!

Spring 2020 goal review – ‘Ronaverse edition

Heartsbane Saga PromoHow is it that it’s already April and yet this year feels like it’s lasted a million years already?

I’m working from home right now, which is weird. I usually spend my work days running from the 3 area hospitals to the shelters and other places my homeless clients hang out, from the courthouse to the treatment facilities, and for the past couple weeks I’ve had to do everything by phone because I can’t have face-to-face contact with clients. It’s an adjustment, definitely. I’m trying to stay busy, but let’s be honest, I definitely have more free time now. So maybe I’ll make some progress on these goals?

Regardless, every three months or so I try to provide an update on how I’m doing with my annual goals, and it’s time for my spring update.

  1. Finish and submit/publish my Heartsbane series and 7+ related short stories.
    I’ve pitched the series to my publisher and am working on polishing up book 1 to give him very soon. I have an editor assigned, and we’re working on getting the cover artist. So, maybe mid summer for the release of book 1, possibly a little earlier for the first short story? The first 4 are written, just need revisions. And of course something I revise in the first book (“I’m a secret agent!” “I’m a secret villain!”) has to trickle down to the rest of them.
  2. Publish to Medium at least twice a month.
    So far in 2020 I’ve published 5 stories on Medium, with one more submitted and waiting on publication. And I’ve also done parts 1 and 2 of a short story, “Spice Pirates,” that’ll probably end up being 4 parts altogether. Yay, I’m meeting this goal!
  3. Continue to increase my networking.
    My goal is to comment on, clap for, and/or share at least 15 people’s blog posts or works, at least 4-5 times a week. I’ve been going in spurts on this, and I’m hoping I’ll be able to do this more consistently with the extra time I have on my hands right now.
  4. Buy a cabin on Lake Superior.
    Reaching this goal right now means upping my side hustles, which are kinda on hold right now. I’d intended to do some craft shows this spring but that’s obviously not happening. Neither is a side job at the moment, since counseling places aren’t really hiring for evenings right now. I’m still keeping my eyes open for extra income, and crocheting a TON so I’ll be set when/if things go back to normal.
  5. Marie Kondo the shit outta my life.
    I’ve been doing decent with this. I decided to go through each room of my house and make it exactly how I want it. I started with my living room; I repainted the tan walls pale blue and painted all the dark wood trim white, then rearranged the furniture. My dad made me a couple book shelves as well as some little shelves tucked into the walls, and I’ve put everything on those. Decluttering, as well as keeping the room decluttered, has been good for my mental health. I’m now working on my entry hallway and stairs. I repainted the lighter tan hallway a lighter pale blue and repainted the trim white as well. I got rid of a lot of the clutter that tends to congregate in the entryway. We stripped all the old stain and carpet glue off the stairs, and now I’m in the process of restaining and painting them. I should be done in the next couple of weeks, depending on how motivated I am. I’m also building a wall ladder plant holder (since my cats love eating my plants) to put at the bottom of the stairs. The colors are very calming, as is not having stuff everywhere. Then it’s on to my dining room, which is a cluttered disaster since it currently doubles as my office.
  6. Read 100 books.
    So far I’ve only read 9 of the 25 I should be at. I just haven’t been in a reading mood, I guess. I’ve been spending a lot of time writing and crocheting instead of reading. And I’ve started a bunch of books but lost interest in them halfway through. Maybe this would be a good time to unpause my reading around the world challenge.

So, there it is. Like usual, I’m making progress on some goals but not on others. Life is throwing us all a massive curveball right now, and I guess all we can do is try our best to keep things normal while everything is definitely not normal. Welcome to the ‘Ronaverse, I guess.

If you’ve set goals for yourself, what are they? How are you doing with them?

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