The End of the Year

It’s the end of 2020. It’s been an… interesting…year. I might write a blog post about the world later, but right now I’m going to focus on my personal journey this year.

Usually for the end of year review I look at numbers, trends, and how I’ve improved year over year. However, 2020 has been an unusual year. It wasn’t the numbers that matters as much as pushing through even when the world was falling apart around me. So, I’m going to focus less on numbers, and more on just what I accomplished, and the setbacks I had.

But before I get to this year I have to go back to the end of 2019 for a minute.

At the end of 2019 I wrote a large chunk of the 4th book in my litRPG series. It is currently standing at 40k words, which I feel is about half finished. (I also had half of Vertigo, a side quest in the series, done.) This will put book four at double the length of the others in the series. When I saw that, and realized I had added a bunch of lore to the world, I decided I needed to go back and redo a lot of the first three books, and possibly combine them to make two books instead of three.

Because of that indecision about the series I decided to take the books down in December. I was going to rewrite them, and then finish the new books afterward. But I still wanted another book to finish while I was doing some updates to the old stuff. That meant December of last year wasn’t very productive as I was editing, traveling for the holidays (remember when we could do that?), and going through files and old books to decide the best course of action.

In January of this year I settled on book two of my Half Blood Sorceress series. It had a good foundation, and I already had an outline, so I got to work. Around January I also started paying way too much attention to the news as reports started rolling in. The more I saw in the news the more depressed I became and while I was still writing…it wasn’t as much as I should have been doing. I was worried about my family back in the Seattle area, and…well I’m sure a lot of us were obsessing about the news this year.

I kept working away getting another 5-10k words a month on Dragon’s Blood, while also putting in more time editing the old litRPG books, and a few other projects here and there. In May I decided I just needed something short to finish and went to /r/writingpromps for an idea. Impology came out of that. I wrote the bulk of it in May…and then…. June arrived.

Towards the end of May, and more in June, I started getting sick a lot. I thought it was allergies at first. I popped some allergy pills, turned on the air purifier, and still kept plugging away at the writing and editing. But during June I got sicker and sicker, sometimes sleeping an entire day. I was hungry but I couldn’t eat. My stomach was swelling. And we were getting worried.

June 30th, from my journal: I don’t feel good. My body is betraying me. Stomach swelling, unable to eat. So hungry. Hard to move or sleep. What is it? Dr Appointment tomorrow.

The doctor took an ultrasound and said “you need to go to a specialist” but didn’t tell me what it was. For June and July I was so concerned with my health. I looked like I was 8 months pregnant suddenly, so much so that people were starting to comment on it when we went shopping. I could barely eat because whatever was swelling my abdomen was putting pressure on my stomach. I had no energy because I was getting less than 1000 calories a day. So sick… I slept a lot during June just trying to function.

Even so….in June I managed to put down another 7000 words for the new Dragon’s Blood. I would lay in bed with a laptop, or my phone, and pluck just a few words at a time between sleeping.

In July we made the decision to go back to Seattle for medical care…and I’m so grateful we did. Grateful that we had family to stay with, medical insurance to pay for it, and the ability to drive there even during a pandemic. What started as me just thinking I was tired because of bad allergies, and swelling because of the food I ate….it ended up being a tumor. A very large tumor that had to be removed ASAP.

The second week of July was spent in a hotel waiting for covid tests, cancer screening, scans, and blood work. And during that time I slept…a lot. But I also managed to finish the last few paragraphs of Impology, and I had a rough draft.

On July 19th I sat in a hotel waiting for my surgery the next day and I decided I had to finish the edits for Impology and get it published before I went in. I would get up and write a few words at a time, then lay down when I got too dizzy. Then try again. It took the rest of the night but I managed to push send on KDP.

The next day Gregg dropped me off at the hospital. He wasn’t allowed to go in with me, or sit in the waiting room. He had to go back to the hotel and pack up, waiting for the doctor to call and tell him if I made it okay… and if the tumor had spread. (Thankfully it didn’t.)

I was in the waiting room trying to sit in a chair and slowly becoming more and more distressed….the tumor was 17 inches, and pressing right on my veins so sitting up for more then a few minutes made me faint. I finally got them to get me a bed. One of the nurses came back to take my vitals and when she saw me she smiled and said “Oh are you in for delivery?” She paled when I said “no, it’s a tumor.” At least I could giggle and tell her it was okay, Lumpy was being evicted, and I was all good.

The surgery went spendedly, and I woke up 25 lbs lighter. Between the tumor, and not being able to eat for a month or two, I lost 50 lbs this last summer. So there’s that.

The rest of July was all about recovery, sleeping a LOT, and just getting back on my feet. I was in the hospital for almost a week and finally able to have more than a pudding for lunch. It was amazing!

We stayed in Seattle until Aug 15th. But an amazing thing happened at the beginning of August, though. I was able to stay awake more. I could concentrate. I was in pain, because I had surgery, but I could still function. That month, even while recuperating, I did another 10k words, the bulk of it in Dragon’s Blood. And I FINISHED the first draft! I was so thrilled!

We drove back to Texas in the middle of Aug. That was an interesting drive. A lot easier than I thought it would be. I slept a lot less than I did on the way north, and we managed to stop and see my daughter in northern CA. It was, in general, a much happier trip. Gregg and I were able to just spend time, laughing and singing, and enjoying the drive this time.

The end of August and the month of September I got through the edits for Dragon’s Blood… except for the major fight scene at the end. Now…Because fight scenes do not come naturally to me they take me a while to write. I have to plan them out, then write them a bit at a time. I will often avoid them because I do not enjoy them as much as I do the rest of the story. And when I got to the edits for this scene I realized how bad the first draft was, and how much rewriting it needed. Ug.

So October I avoided writing.

Back in the hotel while waiting for surgery I started watching a lot of devlogs from indie game designers. I also tried learning a bit of code in-between writing. It was a nice break from the rest of what was happening to me. So in October when I needed a bit of a break I decided to actually try to make a game and made my first one… then…..I joined Ludum Dare.

Ludum Dare is one of the biggest game jams out there, so I decided if I was going to make a game why not make it for Ludum Dare and be courageous. It was so much fun! I dove in both feet first and finished my second game in a weekend. It was a lot of fun, and those who played it seemed to enjoy just driving the ball as fast as possible down the pathway. They also said I made a really pretty game.

That encouraged me to make another… and another. By the end of October I had done three game jams, and four games. But that also meant I didn’t write much.

November I did a lot of art for a different game, and some writing, but I really just focused on re-centering myself. I had been through a lot in 2020 and I never allowed myself to just… take it all in. So I did so then.

That brings us to December. I decided I needed to get Dragon’s Blood out no matter what, so I put my nose to the grindstone and got it out on the 18th of this month!

Since then I’ve been looking at the books I have ready to be finished to decide which one to complete:
Half Blood Sorceress 3
LitRPG 4
Vertigo (litRPG sidequest)
Eternal Tapestry Prequell

I am about 40k words into each work, and all of them are worth publishing. I think for 2021 my goal is to publish all four of them. Now to get started on that…

I’m glad 2020 is over, even if the end of a year does not solve the problems it does encourage us to try again. To make the next year better. Here’s to that.

After ask of this year I think I’ve learned that family is very important to me, and that life isn’t infinite. We could die any day from some random thing. Hiding away in your house isn’t going to save you if it’s your time.

But everyone had to do what’s right for them.

Need a good read? I gottcha covered!

Free this weekend.
The Camera – A tales from the crypt style story about a cursed item.
Flight of the Griffins –  A  peaceful people may have to rise up to save their home.
Ghostly Intentions – A fantasy haunted house story. 

Thank you so much, and I hope you enjoy.

Also, Dragon’s Blood is available for pre-order.

A tale steeped in winters ice, and dragons fire. 

If you haven’t read Dragon’s Flame it is only 99 cents, and also in KU. If you have read it I would really appreciate a review. Reviews are the life blood of the indie creator.

Welcome to my House

The last two weekends have been busy. I actually took two three day weekends so I could get a bunch of little things done around hte house, starting with the cleaning.

Gregg and I have been down sizing everything. It started with going through my games, game consoles, and our books. Over the last three months we have gotten rid of five boxes worth of games and books between us, clearing up some much needed space. We also emptied a lot of the things from our storage that we had been saving for when we bought a house. The house isn’t happening any time soon so it is pointless to keep it. That cleared up more space.

You’d be surprised how much scrap leather you get from making leather projects. Gregg has three large boxes of scrap leather that we have been making small projects with. Bracelets, key-chains, etc. But there isn’t enough time to use it all, so we’ve actually been throwing some away, or giving it away in boxes. That cut down on a lot of room.

Then there are my crafting supplies. I consolidated a lot into a smaller section of my storage, got rid of anything I hadn’t been using, or which had dried out or expired, and I’m down to a much smaller selection. Next I’ll be putting a bunch of the beads and charms up on etsy I think just because I’m not going to use them, but someone should.

I also went through out clothing and threw out a lot that didn’t fit, or was worn out. And we had some old electronics that weren’t working, or we bought newer stuff for, so we took the old stuff to be recycled.

The house is so much cleaner. Over all i think we got rid of, recycled, or sold a few car loads of things. It’s made it easier to sort out, store, and keep dusted the things that are left.

Writing wise, I updated the print covers of Flight of the Griffins and Witch’s Stand, and ordered some a proof of each of them. For some reason the cover of Witch’s Stand was really blurry so I completely redid it and got it to a much better size and dpi. Now if you order them you should get a really nice looking set to have on  your shelf.

Speaking of shelves, I don’t have most of my books in print because a lot of them are on the short side, but I still wanted to have a “shelf” of my books available. So I made these two posters for that purpose. Most of my book covers are on here, and I’ll do a third when I get enough books out. For right now you can download this if you like. I have to get more ink before I can print the second one, but it is really nice having them above my desk to remind me to keep writing.

  

Speaking of writing….I’ve almost finished “Ghostly Intentions,” which is a little fantasy ghost story I’ve been working on. I’ve also edited half of book two in my Half Blood Sorceress series. I’m still debating on the name, either Dragon’s Blood, or Dragon’s Touch. Both would be appropriate, and there are several more in the series so it will all have dragon names. Appropriate in a world where magic comes from dragons, I think.

As for art…I haven’t been doing as much of it lately. I did some sketch’s that were kind of cute, but really I do most of my drawing at work, and work has been so busy lately that I haven’t had time to think, let alone sketch or draw. Also another reason I took some time off work. I needed a chance to breath and be myself for a while.

Anyway, I get a new shift starting in a month or two, so I have no idea what’s going to happen after that. For right now I’m just trying to do what I need to do. And writing more, that’s the good part.

What’s that?

The last couple of days I have been busy working away on a few things. Today has been the most important. I got the edits back for Dragon’s Flame, put up the pre-order, and started working on the revisions. It is up for pre-order for 99 cents right now, and will be released on the 29th.

The edits are going well, and there are only some minor reworking to do, but over all I’m pretty happy about this novel. Then back to working on Dragon’s Blood.

I’ve also been finishing Costume Shop, my first children’s story. It will be a chapter book, with an R.L. Stine feel to it. And it will be out in time for Halloween.

I’ve also been updating a lot of my covers. A few months ago I did a complete over-hall of my Illicit Gains series, I thought it was about time to redo the text on my Small Bites short stories series. The text just looked so boring next to all the other ones. With the new text I think I’m happier with the covers.

Update all the things!

I’flightofgriffve been slowly working my way through old book covers, updating them and making them look nicer. A few months ago I updated Potion Shop and Prophecy by Barlight. Then I took a crack at Flight of the Griffins.

This week I tried updating all of the “Illicit Gains” series.

The original covers were okay in their simplicity, and in all honesty I haven’t changed them a lot. The biggest thing is that I’ve gotten better at typography. Still not perfect, but way better.

illiI wanted to stay with the theme since each story is about a specific object. A ring that teleports the wearer wherever he is thinking about. A camera that saves things in a denominational pocket. A necklace that changes the persons personality.

And you might have already noticed that there is a fourth book the second set. I’ll be publishing The Mirror by the end of the week.
illicitAll of the items had to come from somewhere, after all.

This also meant renumbering the stories, since The Mirror is now the first in the series, not the ring, but nothing else has really changed. I still have two more planned for this series, The Pocket Watch and Marco.

It’s been a fun series to write. Their short reads, all short stories, so I don’t mind doing them out of love rather than for my career. Each one of them is inspired by Stephen King, Friday the 13, and Warehouse 13. Shows about cursed items, and what they do to people. I loved that troupe, so of course I had to write it myself.

But, alas, I have novels to finish, so this series gets written as I have time. I’m just happy to give it better covers at the moment.

The Trilogy is Complete!

The trilogy is now complete!

Witch’s Sacrifice 

Her forbidden secret will make her powerful… and hunted.

Witch’s Curse

Hunted since birth, now Okira must use the power she’s been hiding…or die trying.

Witch’s Stand 

The battle has been won, but the war is far from over.

WSsmlWitch's Curse smWitch's Standsml

One last short story, “Witch’s Sight,” to come out next weekend. It’s going to the editor today. Or you can get the entire trilogy in one convenient pack, with the bonus short story. That will also be out next weekend also.

Witch's StandkoboThe final short story is how Salvia became the little mother.

I am so thrilled to have them all completed. The story tells a wonderful transformation from meek girl to powerful witch, and leader of her time.

Norwescon!

IMAG1903Back from Norwescon and it was AMAZING!

GreggIMAG1901 wore his armor again, with a couple of extra pieces that he did, and new findings to make everything a bit more polished. He, of course, won again. In fact he won BEST OF SHOW for workmanship. That means the judges thought his costume was put together better than ANYONE at the masquerade. It was amazing. He basically leveled up and was told that now he has to compete as a master because he’s just that good.

This made me want to wear a costume and compete in the masquerade next year. So ya… I’ve been designing something awesome that I want to make for next years conventions. (We already have tickets for next years con.)

So, w
hat did I get out of this years con? SO MANY GOOD THINGS! First, I sat in on several live action demonstrations of fighting. They demonstrated some aikido, sword fighting, shield, roman legionnaires, and many more. They even took requests from people in the audience on what to demonstrate, and answered lots of questions. I took some video and I hope to share that on youtube later this week.

I also sat in on a number of panels about writing, specifically, the failures various authors have had, and the issues they had to overcome. They even talked about getting tables at conventions and selling your books. I also asked “what if you have anxiety” to which most of the people at the table said “stay on the internet…” I can’t blame them for having that thought. Anxiety and other social disorders are really hard to overcome, and most people who have them probably don’t try and push themselves to overcome them. Thankfully one of the panelists, Ryan Macklin, said he also has anxiety issues, so much so that he takes medication for them, and he manages by having that safe space behind his table and when he gets overwhelmed he goes to a quiet corner to just get away from everything and find a a quiet moment for himself. That was really great of him to speak up and share that with me.

I IMAG1922am not going to lie, having the other authors up there and their first reaction, “stay online,”IMAG1941 was disheartening, especially since I really like two of them (them as people, and their books.) I don’t know if having a table at a con would be a good thing, or just be a crushing blow to what little ego I have. But telling me not to even try…hurt. I know it’s going to suck, I know I’m going to have anxiety attacks. Hell, I have them just going to the convention itself some times. But I have so much fun, learn so much, and meet so many new people at the cons. Why wouldn’t I want to just TRY to sell my books there.

It won’t be easy, in fact I know it’s going to suck ass for a while, but I still feel like it will be good for me, and I will learn a lot about myself, and my books.

So, second thing I learned… Annie Bellet was at a few of the panels I went to and I have mentioned her 20 sided sorceress books on several occasions. They are really good, and I think anyone who loves urban fantasy should read them. Dresden type book with more gaming for the win!

But, anyway, she mentioned in one of the panels that almost all of the big urban fantasy writers write in first person POV. I thought about it: Patricia Briggs, Diana Rowland, Kim Harrison, Jim Butcher, and Annie Bellet… All the urban fantasy writers that I love to read,  All of them in first person POV. WHY ISN’T MY URBAN FANTASY IN 1st PERSON POV? Seriously, I love writing in first person, and I should have done it, but I didn’t. So, I will be updating my “Eternal Tapestry” series about goddesses in the modern age to be first person POV.

She also had a lot of things to say about “writing to market” that actually clicked with me. She didn’t talk about picking a genre you think will sell and write in that. She talked about finding the things you love in a series you love, and the things you love in the genre, and writing that because that’s what you love. It made more sense then anything else anyone had said.
Witch's Standkobowskobo

I also got a fantastic idea for my next short story, and I GOT COVERS!

“Witch’s Stand” should be out in a few weeks. I will get the edits back, then be able to send it out once I go through them.

Witch’s Sight is a prequel that I am currently writing. I’m not sure when it will be available, but I did get some great ideas to make it even better this weekend.

I’m really happy with how they turned out. The artist, J Caleb, really came through for me, and kept the feel of the other two books in mind while doing it. Thank you J!

I will post some pictures, and maybe some video, from Norwescon soon. And have a wonderful week, everyone.