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Tag: publishing process

Fall 2022 goal review

Every 3 months or so, I take a look at my goals for the year and how I’m doing with them. Public accountability and all that, if you will.

Frankly, it ain’t good.

The last few months – hell, probably this entire year – have kicked my ass. We’ve been short staffed at work and I’ve been picking up hours. Too many hours (usually 50-55, but I just had a 70 hour week last month), plus taking a class or two to knock out the pre-reqs and gen ed classes I need for nursing school, which I’ll hopefully be starting in January. My schedule has basically wake up at 6-ish pm, go to work until 7-8 am (inshallah), come home and sleep for a couple hours, go to class, come home and sleep for a couple hours, and repeat. Weekends are for catching up on housework and yardwork and spending time with my kid.

But, there may be a light at the end of the tunnel. I just started a new job – and yes, I know I said with the last one that I’d have more free time, but this one does have less hours (only 40/week!), plus it’s about 5 minutes from my house. I’ll be picking up the occasional shift at my old job, but that’s on my terms.

So, with all that in mind, here’s my goal review.

 

  1. Publish consistently. I’m at 12 microfictions on Medium right now for the year, averaging about 1 per month. Not great but not horrible.
  2. Keep traveling. This is one goal I HAVE been meeting. July took me up to northern Wisconsin and Michigan, back to the Porcupine Mountains and then over for some kayaking around the Apostle Islands. My dad tripped while hiking and broke his finger so we didn’t do as much as I’d planned, but I ate about half a dozen pasties so it was worth it. And for August, I went on a little 7000 mile roadtrip to Newfoundland, to the Viking settlement at L’anse aux Meadows. Two weeks of just me and my van was the perfect de-stressor. Also, Labrador is one of the most amazing places I’ve ever been to. And then for September, my kid and I went to Minneapolis for a weekend. We hit the Renaissance festival, Mall of America aquarium, and Midtown Global Market for an overall lovely weekend of eating. Depending on my new schedule, I should be able to take monthly trips for the rest of the year. And for the rest of my life.author standing next to life size metal silhouettes of 6 Vikings
  3. Be more mindful regarding sustainability and my health. My orchard lot is coming along nicely. None of the trees are dead yet, and I’ve added 3 hican trees. I hope to still get garlic planted this year, and I’m looking at how to turn my front porch into a greenhouse so I can grow a few things over the winter, as well as get a bunch of seeds started for the spring. My chickens are laying 4-6 eggs a day. I am sick of eggs.
  4. Keep plugging away on my Heartsbane series, both writing and marketing. I’ve been picking at book 1.5 whenever I need to procrastinate on homework, but that’s about it.
  5. Start a series on Kindle Vella. I’m almost there. First episode is done, but I want to have several more ready to go before I launch.
  6. Read 100 books. I’ve been trying to read before I fall asleep, but I haven’t finished any actual books yet.

If you’ve set goals for yourself, what are they? How are you doing with them? Suggestions for my November and December trips?

Summer 2022 goal review

I try to review my goals several times a year. I know I just posted them not too long ago, but I’m trying to get back into the habit of blogging semi-regularly so here we are.

  1. Publish consistently. Nope. My goal is a couple times a month, and my total for the year is 8 publications, all of which were 100-word microfictions on Medium.
  2. Keep traveling. This I HAVE excelled at. I’ve been able to take a trip a month, with trip defined as at least overnight and at least several hundred miles away (ie, day trips to Chicago or Madison don’t count). The beginning of January we went to the Everglades and Florida Keys. In February I went down to Arkansas to hike around the forests near Little Rock and Hot Springs, and eat alligator and gumbo. In March, the kid and I took the train to Santa Fe and hiked around the desert and mountains (and as I discussed with the hiker I picked up in Wyoming, it’s a good thing we went when we did because the whole area was later on fire). The kid and I spent Easter weekend eating our way through Detroit. When classes were done in May, I headed out to Wyoming to hike around the Grand Tetons and Laramie, which is my happy place. For June, the kid and I went to DC for the Poor People Campaign’s Moral March. And I have some truly epic trips planned out for the next few months too. Knowing I’m getting away each month has been wonderful for my mental health.

    Map of the US with red dots marking destinations visited in 2022

    Google gives you a dot for every place you visit. This is my 2022, so far.

  3. Be more mindful regarding sustainability and my health. Several years ago, a house on my block burned down. The lot finally went up for sale last fall, and the price had dropped enough that I bought it this spring, as a place to grow everything I don’t have room for in my backyard. As of right now, I’ve planted 3 pear trees, 3 apple (want 2 more), 2 pawpaws (not sure what these even are??), 2 cherry, 1 plum, 1 juneberry, 1 jostaberry bush, and 2 pink current bushes. There was already a mulberry tree (which was used to make yummy apple mulberry strudel). In addition to the apple trees, I still want a walnut tree and several hazelnuts. Plus maybe some grapes, and then a big garden plot and all the spaces in between the trees. Also, the kid got chickens this spring as a 4-H project. His three are Magnus, Vulcan, and Alpharius (from Warhammer 40k), and my three are Carmen, Mercédès, and Frasquita. My three are sassypants assholes, much like their namesakes. They should start laying eggs in another month or so.

    On the other hand, I’ve been working 50-55 hours a week for the past few months, and my summer class is 3-4 hours/day 3 days/week, so I barely have time to sleep or eat, which probably ain’t so great for my health. Fingers crossed we’ll be fully staffed soon so I won’t be working as much. And my fall schedule is a lot lighter, with just one class a couple days a week, which maybe will give me some breathing room until I find something else that’ll take that back away.

    chickens next to several shrubs

    Damn chickens have since eaten every single leaf off that honeyberry bush on the right.

  4. Keep plugging away on my Heartsbane series, both writing and marketing. Another nope. I’ve started a few more ads, but I don’t exactly have much writing time right now.
  5. Start a series on Kindle Vella. Nope again, although I’ve started on a few short stories based on “The Diarassia Not Taken.” I think they’re going to be a horror/speculative fiction mix.
  6. Read 100 books. I’m not even going to say the embarrassingly small number of books I’ve read so far this year. Suffice to say, it’s bad.

Overall, I’m not doing so well on goals. Like always. I’ve been spending almost every daylight moment (when I’m not sleeping, since I work nights) outside, either working in my yard or my lot or doing outdoorsy stuff like kayaking. And traveling. Oh well. I’ll get there eventually.

Random Carmen thoughts, of which I have many: Elīna Garanča is the best Carmen, Yannick Nézet-Séguin is the best conductor, and this is the best scene in the whole opera. Roberto Alagna (who was almost 50 in this production) is wayyyyy too old to play Don José. Keith Miller should be in everything, and they should’ve left in the part where Dancaïre and Remendado set him on fire, as he shows up later with scars but without any explanation as to how he got them. Carmen: The Hiphopera is actually a really accurate, pretty decent adaptation. And Lillas Pastia is an awesome cat name.

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

Annual goals: 2021 review and 2022 goals

Wow, I am really late with this.

Every year, I set goals for myself. And every year, I look back at how I didn’t meet those goals.

This year is no exception.

About a year and a half ago, I started a new job, as an overnight admissions social worker at a local psych hospital. I really enjoy it; not only is it a second shift job in my field, I like my coworkers, the pay is awesome, and it’s only 3 12-hour shifts a week with no weekends (although we’re short-staffed so I usually work 4 shifts). Theoretically I have an extra 1-2 days a week to myself, although that usually doesn’t happen because I’m sleeping or spending the weekend days with my kid.

So with all that in mind, let’s look at my 2021 goals and how I did with them.

2021 goals

  1. Continue to publish and promote my Heartsbane Saga series. This really fell off. I don’t think I actually got any more of them published this year. And while I did work on edits and rewrites for the first half of the year, that fell off too when I consistently started working 50+ hours a week in midsummer. And, quite honestly, the response to the series has been super underwhelming, so I’m not as gung-ho to get published quickly like I was this time a year ago.
  2. Publish something at least twice a week. I did decently with this for the first half of the year, until again, I got caught up with work over the summer.
  3. Marketing. I’ve consistently been running Amazon ads, and they’ve been good for some movement. I didn’t get around to a blog tour because I was waiting until I had a couple more books out. I have several in mind though, so maybe I’ll get to it later this year.
  4. Painting of Renaissance peasant woman holding a dog and shrugging as if to say WTF

    Possibly my favorite painting at the Met.

    Travel travel travel. This is one goal that I did overwhelmingly meet! In February I went to Dodge City, Kansas, because I liked watching Gunsmoke with my dad and because I wanted to spend more time in Wichita, where I found an awesome German restaurant, Prost. In March my kid and I spent a weekend in Chicago; usually we just go for a day, but this time we stayed overnight downtown and had some awesome arepas (which are his favorite thing this year). In April we went to Detroit, mostly to eat at Al Saha, my favorite Middle Eastern restaurant there, as well as Cadieux Cafe, a yummy Belgian restaurant, but we also went to a Korean barbecue place that was awesome. Memorial Day weekend we went to the Black Hills of South Dakota and hiked around the Badlands and Custer state park. In June, I vanlifed in Bemidji, Minnesota (home of delicious pasties), but it was too hot so I wandered over to Devils Lake, North Dakota. In July we went back to Wichita to hit up Prost, then over to Oklahoma City to get some goat sausage at the farmer’s market (yes, it really is worth the trip). In early August I vanlifed at Spirit Lake, Iowa, and also hit up the National Hobo Museum where I found my tribe. Then my mom, kid, and I spent a week in Hawaii, kayaking and hiking and of course eating our way across Oahu. I’d planned to vanlife up in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan in October but canceled due to bad whether. My kid and I went back to New York City for his birthday in November – in addition to good food, we caught Stomp again (five years to the day from when we saw it previously). Then in December we went down to New Orleans for a long weekend of shrimp po’ boys, jambalaya, and gumbo, before hitting up a couple barbecue places in Memphis, Tennessee, on our way back. And then right after Christmas, my dad, son, and I spent a week down in the Everglades and Florida Keys and Dry Tortugas, kayaking and hiking and eating great Latino food like pupusas and baleadas and ropa vieja. It was wonderful, all of it.

  5. Continue to Marie Kondo the shit outta my life. This year I tried to tackle my yarn stash. The problem is that with each box I tried to organize, I’d get sidetracked into making something with the yarn, and then I’d need to buy more yarn to finish the project. And while I’m buying more yarn, oh hey look there’s some clearance yarn. Just think what I can make with that! So, while the rest of the house isn’t too bad, my office/craft room is horrible.
  6. Read 100 books. Made it to 53.

So, maybe not the best year for goals. But what about 2022?

2022 goals

  1. Publish consistently. As of right now, I’d like this to be at least a couple times a month. I’ve already gotten back into the habit of posting on Medium every couple weeks, and I’ve noticed that I can get a lot more consistent readership when I’m on a more consistent schedule, as opposed to every few months. I also want to try to expand where I publish, rather than just Medium most of the time.
  2. Keep traveling. My theme this year is filling in the gaps – getting to all the places I haven’t been to yet. I’m hoping to go somewhere at least every months, if not more frequently. I have a ton of PTO and there’s no reason I shouldn’t use it, especially when vanlifing is my self-care.
  3. Be more mindful regarding sustainability and my health. I’ve noticed over the last year or so I’ve been eating out a lot more. It’s super easy to wake up and just grab dinner on my way to work, but it’s not healthy or cheap. And I’ve noticed that when I do cook, a lot of it doesn’t get eaten. To that end, I want to decrease my food waste, either by cooking less or freezing or dehydrating the leftovers. This goes for veggies too. And I want to grow a lot more of my food, as well as make healthier choices as to what I do buy. And more environmentally sustainable choices, such as less plastic and less meat. I’m also going to throw that Marie Kondo’ing goal into here, as I try to cut down on how much stuff and clutter I have.
  4. Keep plugging away on my Heartsbane series, both writing and marketing. It’s been a while since I published anything with this. I’ve been picking at edits for #1.5 “The Brave Little Thrall,” and #2.5 “Ezichi the Beautiful” is about half done. #3 Little Amethyst Abaya is done, but I need to incorporate changes based on what happens with #2.5. I have some Amazon ads running, and I want to promote it more as I release more books.
  5. Start a series on Kindle Vella. Amazon has this new platform for serialized stuff, and I have a few friends who are finding success with it so I’d like to try it out. I have a series of short stories I’ve been playing with, The Suburban Hedgewitch, about a woman who grants little innocuous wishes and curses to her suburban neighbors, that would work for Vella. I also wrote a little microfiction piece last year, “The Diarassia Not Taken,” and I think it would be a fun world to continue in. Then there’s a third work I’ve been scribbling on this year, about the MC’s past lives, that I think would lend itself well to serialization.
  6. Read 100 books. My perennial goal.

If you’ve set goals for yourself, what are they? How do you plan to accomplish them?

 

Resolutions: 2020 review and 2021 goals

Clyde happens

Clyde from Heartsbane still does not care about my goals.

It’s that time of year: looking back on my goals for the previous year and then setting goals for the new year.

2020 goals

First off, I’m gonna preface this by pointing out that 2020 was just a weird year that sucked for everyone. That said, here’s how I did this year.

  1. Finish and submit/publish my Heartsbane series and 7+ related short stories. Books 1 and 2 are OUT!!! Short story .5 has also been released, and 1.5 and 2.5 are coming very soon. I had to push the preorders back a little bit (and 1.5 is almost 3 months overdue at this point), but at least I got them out! And I have a schedule set for the rest of the series too.
  2. Publish to Medium at least twice a month. I was doing well with this, and then the publication I’d been submitting to stopped publishing. And then Medium changed its layouts and a lot of fiction writers abandoned the platform due to a 90% drop in income. This year I published 28 stories to Medium – which means I hit this goal!! 2/2 so far!
  3. Continue to increase my networking. This was hit-or-miss in terms of reading and sharing other writers’ stuff. BUT I did rejoin the Weekend Writing Warriors blog hop and I comment on every single other post each week. And believe it or not, but I actually see an increase in my own reads on Medium when I’m actively engaged on clapping for others’ stuff. Who knew?
  4. Buy a cabin on Lake Superior. This didn’t happen this year. I knew it wouldn’t happen this year. BUT I am starting a new job in a couple weeks. It’s a very significant pay increase so this could actually be an attainable goal in the next year or so.
  5. Marie Kondo the shit outta my life. I was about halfway there. I repainted and organized my living room, dining room, and front entryway. I’ve also gotten rid of a ton of stuff I don’t need/use. I just moved back into my office a couple weeks ago and now I’m slowly going through all the crap I have stashed in there (mostly yarn). More importantly, I’ve been able to KEEP my downstairs from re-cluttering.
  6. Read 100 books. Man I sucked so bad at this. While I had more time to read this year due to working from home, I had a really hard time finding anything that kept my interest. I finished 37 books last year. (If you add in all the books I started but didn’t read more than a chapter or so, I probably hit my goal – but I only count those I finish). My annual breakdown of what I read will be along shortly.

Overall in 2020

I hit my main goal, which was to publish my Heartsbane Saga series. Considering I’ve been trying to do that for years, I think 2020 counts as a success.

2021 goals

  1. Continue to publish and promote my Heartsbane Saga series. As I said above, I have a set publication schedule for the rest of them. Sometimes I might have to adjust it a bit, but having that schedule – and announcing it to the world – has helped with accountability. So has setting preorders for the main books; Amazon only lets you change it once, and then you lose preorder privileges for a year. That’s been a HUGE motivator for me, especially seeing as how people are preordering!
  2. Publish something at least twice a week. I’ve found several Medium microfiction publications with weekly prompts, and there’s really no excuse for not being able to write 50 or 100 words for these. Plus I just joined Microfiction for Lunch as a contributor, and that requires something weekly. They take older stuff, but I’m trying to write new stuff. I’d also like to get back to writing longer stories.
  3. Marketing. I did Brian Cohen’s Amazon ads course a couple times in 2020 and it resulted in more sales from September-December than I’d had in the past three years COMBINED (part of that was due to releasing 3 new books, but I also saw a lot of movement on my backlist stuff). This year I want to really ramp up my advertising and marketing, not only with Amazon ads but Facebook ads and maybe blog tours too.
  4. Travel travel travel. My kid reminded me that I owe him several trips due to COVID. We tried to go to NYC over spring break last year, but only made it as far as Boston before everything shut down, so we need to head back there (which is okay, because we had tickets to STOMP and Phantom of the Opera which I was super excited about). I take him on a trip for his birthday every year, but everything was re-shut down so I owe him a trip to Chicago. We wanted to do a long weekend on a beach but with the COVID surge we held off, so I owe him a trip to Pensacola (the closest beach to us). And several years ago I promised to take him backpacking around Europe over the summer before he went into high school, which is this summer (gods I feel old). In addition to that, I bought a minivan last year and made an effort to knock places off my bucket list, which is easy to do when you’re living out of your van. I hit Carhenge, and Zzyzx Rd in California, and Rte 6 east so that I’ve now driven its entire length in the US. Top of my list this year is Dodge City, KS, because Gunsmoke, as well as the Florida Keys if the Bahamas open back up. And Canada. I haven’t been there for a while either. So many trips!!
  5. Continue to Marie Kondo the shit outta my life. My downstairs is looking good, but the upstairs is still a mess. And the basement. Dear gods how have I accumulated so much stuff?? I’ve realized my house, as much as I love it, is too big (yeah, I know, first world problem). I’d love to be able to downsize to maybe a 1-bedroom place when my kid graduates in a few years (or that cabin in MI), and there’s no way I can do that with all my stuff.
  6. Read 100 books. My usual goal. I want to continue my around-the-world challenge and knock out at least 1/3 of this goal with those books.

The good news is, I’m starting a new job in a couple weeks that consists of 3 12-hour shifts a week, rather than 5 8-hour ones, and I’m hoping that’ll give me more time to write and read and travel and do stuff I need to do. Or, more realistically, more time to waste on procrastinating but still more time to do stuff. On the other hand, I tend to work more efficiently when I have less free time, so we’ll see how it goes.

If you’ve set goals for yourself, what are they? How do you plan to accomplish them?

Resolutions: 2019 review and 2020 goals

Clyde happens

Clyde from Heartsbane does not care about my goals.

It’s that time of year: looking back on my goals for the previous year and then setting goals for the new year.

2019 goals

2019 was pretty rough. I changed jobs midyear, and while I really love my new job, it’s very emotionally demanding. I also filled in for about 2-3 months, which means I was often too drained to work towards any of my goals for a big chunk of this fall. I’m also used to having a lot more time off – I was in grad school for three years and then worked in a school – and so I’m still adjusting to not having 50+ days off a year.

So, here’s how I did in 2019.

  1. Publish to Medium at least weekly and Patreon monthly. I published 16 stories on Medium in 2019. I was doing okay – not great, but still okay – until I took that part-time job, and then I didn’t publish anything from August until just last week. As for Patreon, I don’t have any patrons so I didn’t have any incentive to hit this goal. I posted three short stories, and the last one was way back in July. This goal probably won’t take off until I have patrons.
  2. Finish my novella series. I’m almost done with book 4, of seven, and I have several related shorts finished or half started. My writing group has done a great job of keeping me motivated to finish this, as well as given me great feedback on plot and characters.
  3. Increase my networking. This was going well until it wasn’t. How’s that for a summary? When I had free time I was able to do a lot more reading of blogs, Medium works, etc. When I didn’t have free time this was the first goal to go. I’ve stepped it back up this last month, and I’ve actually seen results with more views of my own stuff. It’s a valuable goal that I need to make time for.
  4. Read 100 books. I read 61 books in 2019. Reading was another thing that got pushed aside. I was making great progress the first half of the year, but my emotional energy-sapping job left me coming home to veg out and crochet in front of YouTube, not a book.
  5. Keep going with my trauma-informed care/school social work writing. Again, my job (which I really do love) sucks up all my social work energy during the day and I try very hard not to think about it when I’m not working, because I could easily spend 60+ hours a week on it and it still wouldn’t be enough. I’d like to get back into this stuff eventually but right now I need a recalibration break from my career path.
  6. Have more adventures. I didn’t really have any adventures this year, and unfortunately I don’t anticipate having any for the foreseeable future. Adulting sucks.

Overall in 2019

2019 was pretty much a wash, other than making a lot of progress on my novella series. Oh well. Life goes on!

2020 goals

  1. Finish and submit/publish my Heartsbane series and 7+ related short stories. I’m over halfway done, which is very motivating. I had to go back and make some changes to the first couple books, rather than retcon the later books, but I think the first one is good to go to my publisher in the next few weeks, as well as at least one short story I want to release to build buzz. I then should be able to have a new one release every 3-4 months after the first one.
  2. Publish to Medium at least twice a month. I’ve focused a lot of my writing time on my novella series, but it’s not hard to fit in a flash story as well. One of my stories was curated by Medium staff and is doing really well, and I’d like to try to get a couple more picked up as well. At the very least, I want to generate more momentum on Medium, and I can’t do it without new stuff on a regular basis.
  3. Continue to increase my networking. I’ve seen tangible financial results when I’ve done this consistently. The problem is that it requires momentum, and when I lose that momentum I have to start all over. I want to comment on, clap for, and/or share at least 15 people’s blog posts or works, at least 4-5 times a week.
  4. Buy a cabin on Lake Superior. Okay, so this isn’t happening this year. But one of my long-term goals is to have a little cabin on the UP of Michigan, and it’s actually financially possible, but the first step is to get out of debt. To reach this goal I’m gonna need to up my side hustles: writing, selling crochet stuff, plasma donation, second job, whatever. I NEED this cabin for my misanthropic mental health.
  5. Marie Kondo the shit outta my life. This applies both physically and mentally. I have way too much stuff I don’t use, need, or even want, and so I’d like to get rid of a lot of it. I’m planning to do some no-buy months so that I’m also not bringing in stuff I don’t need (which ties into goal #4 as well). I’m also going to try to change some of my habits so that I’m spending more time on things that actually matter to me, like developing a healthier lifestyle, writing, and meeting my goals. I’ve come to realize that if I don’t prioritize this stuff, no one else will either.
  6. Read 100 books. Maybe I’ll actually do it this year!

The key to meeting these goals, like I said in #5, is actually putting in the effort. No one will do them for me.

If you’ve set goals for yourself, what are they? How do you plan to accomplish them?

Coming soon – a new series with its own mascot!

Clyde happensFor the past year or so, most of my writing effort has been divided between short stories and The Heartsbane Saga, the new series I’m working on. I’ve been working on this series for years, actually, but it’s really gained its momentum over the last 12-15 months.

This series will be 7 novellas (so far, about 40-50k words each although I expect they’ll get longer as the series progresses) and 7 stand-alone-ish short stories, each of which is based on a different fairy tale.

Originally the series was just going to be one book, but then it morphed into 7. I had them all roughly plotted out. My writing group, Chicken Scratch QC, approved of the arc. I was all set.

I wrote book 1. So far, so good. I started on book 2. And that’s when things started to go off the rails (although in a good way, because the direction I’m going in has a lot more depth and excitement and twists to it). Specifically, Clyde happened.

Clyde is a character who wasn’t supposed to be a character, who’s kinda become a legend in my local writing groups as a way to express when things aren’t going the way you thought they would in your story. “Dammit, Clyde” is frequently heard at writing gatherings.

In book 2, my main group of characters travels to Aghlabid, a far away country, and they’re accompanied by a couple nameless huskarler (bodyguards). Or at least, they were supposed to be nameless. Our conversation went a bit like this:

Character A: We want names.

Me: No.

Character B: I’ll be Gunnar.

Me: No.

Character A: And I’m Clyde.

Me: WTF. Clyde? Clyde is not a Viking name. At least Gunnar is a traditional Icelandic/Viking name.

Clyde: Also, we’re going to be integral to the plot.

Me: No.

Clyde: F your outline.

Me: Dammit, Clyde!

And Clyde’s been uncooperative ever since. I’ve had to redo my series outline at least three times now because of him, although again, each time the story’s become stronger and better for it.

But please, don’t tell Clyde that.

Heartsbane slideI’d originally planned to have the first book to my publisher earlier this spring, but due to changes to the series I’ve had to do some retconning (dammit, Clyde) and am now waiting until most of it is done before we release all the books a month or two apart, hopefully starting this spring. If you want to read sneak peaks, please head over to Patreon, where the first short story, “The Maiden in the Tower,” is posted as well as the first chapters of the books.

New release!! Going in Circles Vol 1: 10 Very Short Stories

Going in Circles vol 1 coverI’ve been posting a lot of stuff on Medium over the past year or so, from short stories to preview chapters of a novel I’m working on. A lot of the stuff I’ve posted has been members-only (since I like getting paid for what I write).

I know a lot of people aren’t paying Medium members, so I’ve put together a short collection of some of my related stories for nonmembers to read.

Going in Circles Vol 1: 10 Very Short Stories is about 6 connected people:

  • Reggie, who is the son of Carly and Mark from Yours to Keep or Throw Aside (bet you didn’t see that one coming!) and will be one of the main protagonists, opposite Aida and Zoe, whenever I get around to writing its sequel
  • Stella, Reggie’s girlfriend
  • Curtis, Reggie’s best friend
  • Rana, Curtis’s sister
  • Big Ed, Rana’s boyfriend
  • The Fox, the villain of my current WIP novel, Waylaid on the Road to Nowhere

So yes, that means that Yours to Keep or Throw Aside and Waylaid on the Road to Nowhere are set in the same universe, although they’re both standalone novels and only connected by these short stories.

Anyways, if you haven’t already read these stories on Medium, please check out this compilation. It also has the first chapter of Waylaid (which you can also read on Medium, if you have a membership, along with several other chapters of the book).

And go ahead and read Yours to Keep or Throw Aside, too, if you haven’t already.

Let me know in the comments below what you think about crossovers and shared universes, and whether you have any predictions about that sequel.

#NaNoWriMo 2018

crocheted dinosaursJust like every year, I started out the month of November with the best of intentions. For the first time since 2012, I’m not in grad school so I’d have plenty of time to write this year! I work full time but don’t generally bring stuff home with me, which would leave me 7-8 hours to write every night. I only needed 1666 words per day, which would be simple to write in just a few hours. How could I lose?

Well, it seems I could lose the same way I lose every year – life got in the way. I only managed about 10,000 words.

This year, however, it wasn’t homework or work or just pure procrastination. No, this year Etsy was my downfall.

I have a lot of interests, and one of them is crochet. I like to make my own unique creations as a way to relieve stress, and since I don’t really need a dozen octupi or aye-ayes or whatever else I’ve just made, I sell it all on Etsy. Based on past years’ experience, I know that November/December is when I’ll see most of my annual sales. I had planned to make lots of stuff year-round so I wouldn’t get swamped at the holidays, but just like with writing, life got in the way.

And whoa boy, did I get swamped this year. I have a new item, baby dinos in eggs, and they’re pretty popular. Which means all my time is going towards making them, rather than writing, because I’m kinda broke and need the immediate money from Etsy rather than the not-so-immediate money I get from writing.

The good news is, everything should calm down in a couple more weeks, and then I can get back to writing. I’ve just finished the first draft of Captive and the Cursed, Book 1 of a new series of retold fairy tales-sans magic-avec Vikings that my writing group loves, and I’m super excited to get it edited and off to my publisher, hopefully to be released this spring. I’m also super excited to get started on Sleeping Shaman, book 2, as soon as edits are done on book 1. I have two whole weeks off for Christmas break and zero plans, so maybe I’ll be able to get some writing done. Even when life gets in the way.

Fall 2018 goal review

Every 3 months, I review my annual goals. Here’s my progress so far this year.

  1. Better time management.
    I’m still tracking my activity, and while I’m getting more done most days, it’s not necessarily things I need to be doing. I started a new job this school year, and while I absolutely love it, it’s very mentally draining. Combine that with some family drama, and my focus the past couple months has been more on unwinding/self-care.
  2. Publish to Medium at least weekly.
    I was doing really well with this until I wasn’t. I’ve published 27 stories so far this year, which is about 10 less than I should have to meet a goal of about one per week. However, I’ve been writing a lot – almost every day!! – and not just flash pieces, which is a lot of what I published on Medium. Still a doable goal.
  3. Publish a stand-alone novella or short story collection quarterly.
    Part of the reason for not publishing on Medium as much is that I’ve been writing a lot on the first story in a seven-novella series. I only have about 5 chapters left in it, at which point I’ll polish it up and hopefully have it out by Christmas. My writing group is loving the story and pushing me to finish it, which is helping keep up my momentum. I’m about one story short of a collection – that should be out in the next few weeks. As much as I’d like to space everything out, I might do an end-of-year holiday rush. We’ll see.
  4. Grow my reader base, whether on social media, my newsletter, or Medium, by at least double. So, 600 followers on Facebook, 1500 followers on Twitter, 200 followers on Medium, and 3000 mailing list subscribers.Stupid Facebook keeps taking away my followers (or they’re unfollowing me). I’m at 310 for Facebook, still about 860-865 on Twitter, and way short on my mailing list subscribers. But on Medium, I’m at 276 which is great!
  5. Post to my blog at least twice a week, and promote those posts to get more traffic here.
    My blog has been pretty neglected lately. I’m writing a bunch of scheduled posts, so I should be able to meet this goal. I’m looking for a social media manager program that’s free to help promote my posts; I used to use HootSuite but now you have to pay for a lot of the features. Any suggestions?
  6. Read 100 books.
    I’m at 72 for the year, which is 4 behind. And also way more on target than I’ve ever been at this point in the year.

Overall

I’m not doing great but I’m not doing too poorly. Which is okay, because as Armando Perez once said, “Reach for the stars. And if you don’t grab ’em, at least you’ll fall on top of the world.”

If you’ve set goals for yourself, how’re they going so far this year?

New releases!!

Futility CoverAfter – well, let’s just say a while – I have a couple new releases!

Kind of.

The first is an audiobook of The Futility of Loving a Soldier, narrated by Maria Kelly. She has a beautiful Irish lilt that makes the eleven short stories a joy to listen to.

Get your copy at Amazon/Audible or iTunes.

The second release is a paperback of “A Place to Die.” I wanted to have print copies on hand for an upcoming book fair event thing but didn’t get them ordered in time. However, you can still get your copy at Amazon. And don’t forget, you can read the story for free if you sign up to my mailing list.

If you’re wanting actual new stories, I’ve been posting pretty regularly over on Medium. I’m also nearly done with the first draft of the first book in a new series, which is retellings of fairy tales but with Vikings and no magic. My writing group is loving the first book – the MC was described as “wonderfully prickly” – and they’ve been pushing me to finish. I’m hoping to have the first one out by Christmas, with more to follow over the next year.

I also started a Patreon account. One of the tiers includes access to a new story every month. Please consider supporting me – just $1 will give me that extra push to actually write each month!

Thanks for your support!

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