2019 Writing in Review

It’s the new year, and it’s time to look back at what happened in 2019, and see where things will go in the future.

2019 was a year of change. First, I quite my job and we moved from Seattle to Houston. That was a huge change for Bjorn and I, but so far it was definitely been worth it. It was also the first year I have been writing full time. That’s taken some getting used to, and I am finally starting to get into the swing of making writing/editing/etc a priority, but I have a ways to go.

In 2019 I wrote 209k words. (Red line on graph is story writing, blue line includes newsletters, blog posts, and other projects.) This was double what I wrote in 2017 and 18, and a lot closer to what I was writing before that dip happened.

 

With all that writing I published three books. Steel Heart, and Steel Line which are the second and third books in my  litRPG series, and an anthology of scifi short stories, Stars End. I also started working on Vertigo, which I have uploaded six chapters of for free. It’s available on RoyalRoadWattpad, and WebNovel.

I am disappointed that I didn’t keep up with the chapter a week on Vertigo. To be fair, the reason I stopped was because of NaNoWriMo, and getting the 50k done on my Half Blood Sorceress, and book four in the litRPG took up a large part of my time. Then December I spent most of my time hand making all of my Christmas gifts. I forgot how time consuming crocheting hats could be. And a final trip back home to Seattle rounded out the end of the year, so I didn’t get much writing done in December, but I did spend some quality time with family and friends.

Going forward for 2020 I told my family I would be looking to complete, and publish, four novels. That will include book two in my Half Blood Sorceress series, book four in my litRPG series, finishing up Vertigo and publishing that on amazon, and …. I’m not sure what the final book will be yet, but I have a few ideas.

I have been scheduling time to write, read, and edit for this year. Three things I need to do more of in order to get my goals. I’ve also been making some plans to do something more with my art because it makes me happy, and is a nice break from writing when I need it. It also gives me something to do while listening to podcasts.

We’ve also committed to taking better care of ourselves, Bjorn and I. We’ve been eating more salads, going on walks, and getting to the gym more. It’s making him feel better, I’m still struggling with the exercise part, but I can be pretty stubborn, so I haven’t given up yet. I would just like to get to the point where it doesn’t feel awful every time I go… Don’t treat your body badly for years on end, folks, fixing it sucks.

Overall I have high hoped for 2020 going forward. More writing, more art, and more creativity in general. Lets see how far I can go with this.

NaNoWriMo: I Cheated

Okay, cheating at a self imposed deadline is basically cheating yourself. In most cases I would say cheating yourself is a bad idea, in this case it was an accomplishment I had to complete.

Five minutes till midnight on the 30th I was 1100 words short on my NaNo project. I managed to write TEN THOUSAND words that day. That is a feat that usually takes me two weeks, and I did it in one day. When midnight came I decided to give myself an hour to finish, and declare myself a winner.

I put in my numbers, and continued writing. At 1:03 am I hit 50,011 words.

Each year when I do NaNoWriMo I set out with one goal, learn something new about my writing, or myself. Win or loose the actual challenge I have always learned something. This year was no different. This year I had no excuses to “lose” the challenge, so figuring out the secret to winning made all the difference. And it was such a simple thing, and yet so difficult, to figure out.

Time management.

I’ve had a love hate relationship with time management. For most of my life my time was dictated by a job, or school for my children or myself. Things like doctors appointments, shopping trips, and even sleep revolve around the schedule dictated by someone else. When I was free of all that I thought “now I have time to write,” but it wasn’t as easy as I thought.

There are so many things to distract us. Sometimes we get bogged down in those things, turn on the tv and sink into episode after episode of whatever we’re interested in, or loose hours in a game. It’s easy. It’s fun. It makes us happy. And when you don’t have that daily thing like a day job to set your schedule to it’s so much easier just to say “I’ll get to that later.”

So this year during NaNoWriMo I learned that I have to find some balance to my schedule. It doesn’t have to be strict, and it can change when necessary, but I had to find something that worked for me so I could prioritize the important things.

The first thing I did, which worked fantastic to get me through the end of NaNoWriMo, was download Toggl. With this app I was able to track what I was doing, for how long, and actually get a good look at how much time I was wasting. Once I logged things into the app I could click a button to easily toggle tracking for specific things. Items can be lumped in to projects so you can easily see where time is spent. For me house care includes cooking, cleaning, and taking care of things for the home. Admin includes marketing, blog posts, and research. Writing is….writing. And me time is all the gaming, reading, and everything else I do just for me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Over the last three days I only tracked 24 hours. It’s going to take some time to get used to using it, but the app is going to help me increase my productivity by allowing me to see where all my time is going. It takes away all the excuses and shows you exactly what you’re using your time for.

I want to track everything for a few weeks to get a base line of where my time goes, but once I have that base line I expect I will only track work and household related time.

Of course this has a second consequence… I had been using the excuse that I was “working up” to 2k words a day. I learned that when I am writing well I write 33 words a minute, that’s about 1k every half hour. Of course editing, and certain tough chapters, will be slower, but the more I think about it the more I realize I should be writing a whole lot more every week. I will have to see how far I can get if I work harder to put in the time.

Expect more updates as I get this time management thing under control, and hopefully that means new books as well. After all, I just wrote 50k words in one of them.

The sea is deep and full of terrors.

The first trilogy I published is set in the Sea of Tears where witches are hunted, and the kraken is feared. There is more to this world than the island nation, and I hope to revisit it some day.

This weekend you can get the first novel in this exciting trilogy for free. Witch’s Sacrifice, the first steps in this dark fantasy.

 

Also an update to Vertigo. It is available on WattpadRoyalRoad, and now WebNovel. I add a new chapter every Saturday, and there are currently five chapters up. You can follow it there, and I will occasionally send out emails to notify when several new chapters are up.
Vertigo is a side quest for The Hub world based around trading card games.

 

Next month is NaNoWriMo and I already have the fourth book of The Hub World series planned and ready to go. Currently I’m working on the second book in The Half Blood Sorceress series. I’d like to get both out soon. I’ll give you an update on that after NaNoWriMo.

Until then, keep reading!

NaNoWriMo Prep

National Novel Wring Month, or more commonly known as NaNoWriMo, is in just a couple week.

Ah, November, the month of wracking your brain, keyboards clacking, and endless words. A month in which insane people get together on forums, and coffee shops, and write 50,000 words of a story. How I love it!

I have been participating in NaNoWriMo for many years now. I have “won” all of them except for the last two. And this year I want to get back on the horse, so I’m changing things up a bit.

I know that I find it easier to write if I know what I’m writing. Thankfully I have a new outline of 3400 words. Most of my outlines usually end up about 10% of the actual book length, but I know where I need to fill in the story a bit more so I’m fairly confidant this story can get to 50k easily.

Last year I had an outline for a story but failed, and it wasn’t because the outline wasn’t good. I still think I’d like to revisit that story at some point, but it was a story in a new world that I hadn’t developed, or found a voice for. That made it nearly impossible for me to write. I kept rewriting sections, deleting parts, or stalling out because I had a setting, world, and plot, but the characters weren’t developed. I didn’t know who they were, and I couldn’t find their voice.

This year I’m working on book 4 in a series that is already established. I know the characters, their weaknesses, their desires, and the trouble their going to find. This will help me keep going for most, if not all of the month.

The lovely thing about starting a new story…. I can write so much in the first few weeks of it, getting ideas out of my head, and finding a rhythm easily. It’s after that lovely burst of creativity fades that I finally come up for air and the dreaded internal editor rears its ugly head. I fight the foul demon off again, and make a mad dash for the finish line, only to be tripped up by him moments from the crossing. This time I will scrape the internal editor off my bruised muse, shove it back in a bottle, and keep going. I intend to win.

I’ve also been making a discovery about my writing habits. For the longest time I wrote in the evenings after the children went to bed, when I had a few moments to myself. Now that I don’t have children I find that I tend to get lost in youtube, or a book, or something else if I let myself. I used to hate writing in the morning before my brain was fully awake, but I’m starting to realize that is now the best time for me to start. Because if I start, and I just get a hundred words out before my coffee, then it’s easier to keep going.

This is a massive change, and really hard for me to do. I used to sit down with a warm coffee of coffee, and something for breakfast with something cheerful to watch on youtube. It was my way of waking up fully, and greeting the day.

Now I’m shoving that all aside. Actively trying to avoid anything other than words for the first moments of the day. It is a habit built over decades, and it will take a while to break it, but I’m confidant I can.

I will be writing more blog posts next month so that I can keep up on my writing and share what is happening on that front. Look forward to that.

#NaNoWriMo Fail

I am not winning NaNoWriMo this year. I guess I didn’t even really enter it. This is the first time in years that I haven’t even tried to do NaNoWriMo.

Even though I am not doing NaNo this year I’m still being productive. I’m finishing the last little bit of book two, and three for my litRPG series. I also took the first week of November to finish edits on book one, and publish it. It’s precisely because I’m doing all the edits right now that I am not participating. Edits take longer, and make fewer words,but are still incredibly important to get a book out. And I want book two or before Christmas!

But maybe I can have my own NaNo in January or something. We will see. First: Let’s get these books out!

NaNoWriMo 2017 Aftermath

It is December first, and NaNoWriMo is over. Now we are all celebrating our victories, or licking our wounds. I am doing both.

For the second time in nine years I’ve failed NaNoWriMo, but boy did I come close. 4365 words from my goal, and I just could not go on. My brain, and my fingers, just gave out. I had been pushing all day long, and I managed to write 7284 words in one day, but I just couldn’t get those last four thousand words.

This was an incredible month, and I learned more about myself, and my novel, than I would have any other time. I threw away chapters, and rewrote a whole synopsis. I got stuck on the novel and went over to write some short stories for the day. I gave up on the original idea I thought I’d write because it just didn’t work. And I got that much closer to finishing book two and three of the new series.

Why did I fail? Well, I had a slow start. I fell into my stride about half way through the month, and finally found what I needed to say. That drove the story forward, and the words piled up. Had I found that story, and my perseverance, a couple weeks sooner I wouldn’t have had that epic writing day at the end.

However, that day writing 7k words was pretty exciting. That shows me that it’s possible, and if I keep pushing myself, and my endurance, some day I might be able to do writing days like that regularly.

I can make excuses about being distracted by life, children getting the flu, and feeling down the first week of this month, but ultimately they are all excuses. The truth is we all have those things happen. Life is not fair, life does not care if you’re trying to write every night. It simply is, and sometimes you have a bad day and you have to write anyway.

So I’m going to be brutally honest with myself, and you, and show exactly why I failed this years writing challenge.

First, for me I know that if I don’t write for a few days it is really difficult for me to keep writing. If I take a week off it takes me a while to get back into the swing of things. If something stressful is going on it’s that much worse.

So here is a chart showing how many words I’ve written every year for the last five years.

I have one month left in 2017, and I am 83,000 words behind my worst year out of the last five. And 48,000 of those words were written in one month. THAT, dear reader, is why I lost NaNoWriMo. Not because the kids were sick and we had to take them to the hospital. Not because I lost the story. Not because I had a couple bad days, or didn’t get enough sleep. It’s because I haven’t written that much this year anyway.

It’s not easy to look at this chart. Writing has been an incredibly important thing for me for as long as I can remember, and it’s upsetting to see how little care I put into my writing this year. Yes, I’ve written 65,000 words just on my new series, but that’s half as much as I wrote on the Witch’s Curse books each year when I was working to get them finished. And the question is why? Why did I give up? Why didn’t I push myself? Why did I choose video games over writing? Or a movie? Or a craft?

I’ve been asking myself that a lot these days. What do I want out of my life? Out of day job? Out of my writing? And I think that’s why I’ve been writing less. I wasn’t sure if it was what I wanted to focus on, because I wasn’t sure if it could get me the one thing I wanted more than anything.

Gregg, my boyfriend, started his own business this year. He works harder than ever, but he’s happier then he’s ever been. And he’s his own boss. No one to be accountable to accept himself (and maybe his audience) and….well no management to look over his shoulder, count the beans, and make sure he’s “doing his job right.” He’s accountable to himself, his art, and fans he’s gathering. And he’s so happy!

That’s what I want for myself, I just haven’t figured out how to do it yet. Writing seems to be the thing that I’m best at, but I’m still pretty horrible at marketing. I know that because I’ve tried a LOT of marketing this year with maybe okay results. But we live, we learn, and we try something new, right?

The world is a strange place. We have adages like “do what you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life” and “fake it till you make it” but no one tells you that someone has to weed the yard. Someone has to fix the plumbing. Someone has to pick up the trash. They probably didn’t want that for their life’s work either, but there they are. Supporting their family and doing a job so they can have a home, and set the table every night. But when you believe those adages and you aren’t doing what you love as a job you start to feel like you’re not good enough. And so here I was, feeling like I wasn’t good enough. Wondering if I should just give up and let writing be a hobby, like video games or crafts, instead of just working my butt of for the next novel, and trying to make a living on it.

And the truth is I don’t know. I don’t know if I will ever be able to make enough so that I can stop working for someone else. I don’t know if I will ever get a book out that strikes a cord with readers. I don’t know…if I’m good enough. But ultimately it doesn’t matter. I love to write, and I’m going to keep doing it.

So, this NaNoWriMo I learned to stop wallowing in my own self pity, and wondering what if, and just enjoy writing the story again.

And that’s what I’m going to do. Starting tomorrow. Today was a day for reflection.

5min- Finished! 

Back in April of 2015 I got a fantastic idea for a story by looking at a lonely piece of art. The art was looking for a book to be a cover for, and it would be a fantastic cover. Unfortunately it was a pro artist and I can’t afford his rates. But that didn’t stop me from writing the story. 

So in. May of 2016, a year later, I started outlining the series. Five books. Five complete stories, each one with a valuable part to play in making one girl, Sybel, who she needs to be to save everyone from an unknown danger. I started writing  it during NaNoWriMo 2016. 

And tonight I’ve completed the first novel in that series! 

It feels so good to be done. I wrote the first draft, went through line by line to clean up any plot holes and add descriptions to some areas, and I’m finally satisfied that it’s ready to go to the editor. 

So happy! And I  can’t wait to share it with all of you. 

And that’s my five.