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.

Dragon’s Blood available for pre-order!

The winter is coldest before the dawn.
Sybel made it across the mountains, and the sea, to the city of mages. Kemore, her best hope at getting answers about her past.
But things are never as easy as she hopes. There are enemies inside the walls, and all eyes are on her.

Daragon’s Blood is finally available for pre-order!
This has been a year long adventure. I had an outline of book two back in January and I thought it would be a quick three month jaunt to get it done, and out to the world.
Then 2020 happened. So many things outside my control, including getting sick and needing major surgery, then months of recovery.
But I finally pushed through and got it finished.
Book 1 is available for 99 cents, so if you haven’t read it now is a great time to do so. Book two is available for pre-order and will be automatically shipped to your device on the 18th!

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.

Stars and Cards

I’ve published TWO things this weekend!

First, Stars End. A collection of science fiction short stories that you can read in bite size pieces.

The four short stories contained inside explore what life might mean in a distant future when space travel and longevity are things humanity take for granted.

Second, I’ve been working on Vertigo, a card based litRPG, for a while. I decided I wanted to publish it on Royal Road and Wattpad as a free title. So you can find the first to chapters there right now.

New chapters will be uploaded every weekend.

This is an experiment to see if it encourages me to write more. I’m hoping that writing in such a public way will force me to stay accountable to myself.

It also makes me happy that my daughter drew the figure on the cover. I gave her a basic idea of what to draw and she went with it.

I already have several chapters of Vertigo ready to go, I’m just editing and cleaning them up before posting every week. That doesn’t mean the other writing stops, it just means fora day or two a week I am devoted to one chapter from Vertigo. But it’s been fun, and I can’t wait to hear what you think about it.

Short or Long?

Sometimes when you’re working on novels you can get to a point where progress seems so far away, and sometimes you can get disheartened. Even want to quite, or procrastinate.

There was a talk Adam Savage gave once where he said at some point in every project he feels like he has no business making. A man who creates amazing replicas, props, and cosplays that the world loves. A man who does one day builds that many would struggle to do in a month. Someone who has working on major motion pictures, and The Mythbusters. And he feels like he has no business making.

And that’s how I feel writing a novel. I am sure that many creatives feel like that, like they are an importer and shouldn’t even bother trying to create whatever it is you are creating. I get so far into a novel, hit that wall, and it feels insurmountable. But I keep going, a little at a time, pushing to get to the end because I know once I reach it I will have something awesome.

I’ve picked up little tricks here and there to help me get through it. One of them is writing short stories when I’m really stuck. At the moment I have been editing a few of the finished short stories I have, and trying to finish four other short stories. Since they are shorter I can usually finish one much faster than a novel, and that little boost keeps me going for the larger projects. Plus the stories I am working on currently are science fiction, while the novel I am working on is fantasy. This allows me a change of scenery, so to speak, and take a breather before going back to the novel.

Speaking of the short stories, I think I’m about ready to publish some of them. Another pass of the editors wand, and they should work well as an anthology. Oh, and a cover. The other four short stories I am still completing I already have a cover for, I just have to finish three of the shorts.

But the novel is still my priority. I’ve been working at a (mostly) steady pace trying to get through the second half of the book. I’ve hit a few snags with the plot, but I think I’ll be able to untangle them. Plot holes, they are my nemesis! Funny, it used to be fight scenes. Now I have a system for the fight scenes and I have more trouble with the time line. I think that’s because the story is taking place over the course of a year and I want it to reflect that.

My daily word count goal dipped a little in august, so I’m working hard to get them back up to what I consider a good pace. I still want to hit 1000 words a day by the end of the year, which means pushing harder and making fewer excuses. But I’m working on it.

By the way, here is a really good video about why many of us procrastinate, and some great ways to fight against it.

Now… off to write about dragons.

One Million Words!

I just broke a million words written. At least officially.

They say to be a good writer you need to write a lot, and read a lot. Somewhere along the line someone said “You need to write a million words before you start to get good.” I’m paraphrasing of course, but since I heard that it has been my goal. To write 1 million words worth of stories.

Of course I’ve been writing since I could form sentences, so I am sure that I’ve written well over a million words in my lifetime, but I haven’t been tracking them the entire time. I also didn’t think it was fair to count the words that I end up throwing away due to grammar/spelling/etc issues. I count them in my daily word count goals, but not when it came to the big number, the million words written.

In the million words I count the stories that I have finished and published, as well as the current projects I’m working on. I have another section just for ideas, dead stories, and anything that probably won’t get written any time soon.

I found that keeping track of what stories I am working on, how far along they are, and which ones are finished and waiting to be published has helped me keep on track a lot. Before I started doing this I had trouble finishing anything. It’s too easy to chase the shiny new thing instead of finishing the project in front of you.

Of the million words I have in active and published projects I have published just over half a million words. That means my next goal is to publish the other half a million. That could be six novels, or a whole lot of short stories, but I think I can get there. The question is how fast. Let’s see, shall we?

Of Gods and Goddesses

In school I was fascinated by Greek and Roman mythology. I tried finding, and reading, as many as I could. From Zeus and his escapades with women, to Persephone trapped in Hades. Because of those myths I love fantasy. So it wasn’t unusual that one of my first novels would be a book based on old myths.

This weekend you can get Forgotten Ones free. They thought the gods were dead, but they were wrong. An intricate blending of science fiction, fantasy, and mythology.

This is my urban fantasy series. If you like it please review it. I have several others planned, but it is on the back burner for now. I would love to dive into it further, and if you really want to see another book in this series reviews are the best way to encourage that.

Till then, keep reading!

Crissy Moss

Writing progress

In February I quit my job, packed up my home, and moved to Texas. It’s now May…. so how am I doing? Here are each of my goals and what happened with them.

Write More

I am definitely writing more. Both March and April I wrote 20k words, and I’m on track to doing even more this month. If I keep this up I will be well over a quarter million words in a year, something I haven’t been able to do ever. And because of how I am working things are going well, and I do not see a problem with getting the word count in.
(For those interested in numbers, in 2017 and 2018 I wrote just over 100k. May just started and I’ve already written 66k this year. I’ll pass the last two years of writing by the end of June.)

Publish in April

This one didn’t happen, and while I am upset that it didn’t happen I am also happy with the reason. The novella I had been writing is now a full novel. The first two book Hub Series were around 30k words, and this latest one is 50k making it a full length novel. I’ve also taken the time to make the story better, made the characters a bit more compelling, added some things that I hadn’t tried before. The farther I go in this series the happier I am with it. On that note, I’m sending it to the editor this weekend so expect book three in a week or two.

Draw More

I have not been keeping up with my drawing. I did a few pieces in March (1, 2, 3, 4), but I never really finished them, and I haven’t added anything to redbubble or spoonflower. I’m a little disappointed in myself since I haven’t been gaming either to take up that time, so where is it going?

Stream More

I do have a Twitch stream that I have been known to do a few times, but it was rare. The trouble I found was that when I streamed I might have one or two people pop in, and they rarely stayed for more than a few minutes. This lead me to believe I really wasn’t good at holding peoples interest long enough to stream. I don’t know when or if I will go back to it. I might just try it because I enjoy playing some narrative games, and then I could put them up on my youtube channel. I haven’t decided yet.

Youtube Again

This is another one I haven’t done since being here.  It’s also another one I’m not sure I want to do. I have two channels, one for Writing and one for Gaming. The gaming channel only allows me to post 15 minute videos so I ended up using my writing channel for gaming, which I shouldn’t have done. Honestly…. I need to do this. It would be good for me because I need to learn to talk in front of a camera again. It’s very difficult for me sometimes so… I’ll have to see what I can do.

Overall

So writing is going well, and I’ll have another book to publish soon. Then I should be able to jump in and finish the second Half Blood Sorceress book since I have already written most of it, and that will be book two, hopefully by July. So much to write and so little time. I better get writing!

Finish it already!

I started on this journey to be a full time author and I started writing… a lot. In March I wrote more than I have written in any other month outside of NaNoWriMo. It’s 3/4 of the way through April and I am on track to meeting the same kind of numbers… But I feel like I should be doing more.

This last week I’ve found myself stuttering again, trying so hard to finish this novel and getting stuck on the words time and time again. It’s at that point now where I just have to push through, find some words, any words, and put them down. It’s always the battle scenes.

Right now the two parts I have left are an arena battle in the middle, and the final battle at the end. Both battle scenes, both needing some choreography, and both tricky because they involve some mechanics from unusual creatures. Plus trying to make them read well at the same time.

I think it’s time to stop trying to make them read well. It never works with me and a battle scene. I just have to block it out, figure out the mechanics, and then rewrite it to make it readable. I wish I could do this every time without having to agonize over it, but I just want to write the darn book, not have to rewrite it over and over again.

To top it off I just wrote ANOTHER battle scene at the beginning of this month for Restart, a shared collaboration between my litRPG discord group. You can read it for FREE over here. I wrote chapter 7. We each write a chapter in order, and I got the battle scene. It, of course, took me longer to write then everyone else because I agonize over battle scenes so much, but it was definitely great practice, and I enjoyed it. I also got to switch things up a bit, and then the next guy in line NERFED the ability I created because it was too powerful…. I think that’s a win 😉

Anyway, back to writing.

Onward my friend!

Is this what my life can be?

This week I am on vacation. A real, honest to god vacation where I left all my worries behind. We are out of the state, and I am able to do what I want to do entirely for a week.

So what have I been doing? A lot of reading. A lot of writing. A whole lot of brain storming.

We’ve taken walks in the country, gone swimming in the ocean, watching the sun set over the sea, and really just enjoyed being us. No stress. No obligations. Just…relaxing.

After years of stress filled “Omg what do I do now” days, this is a lovely change of pace. And we get to do it with our family that we love. It’s kind of amazing.

But is this what my life will be come the end of February when I get to be a full time writer? Some of it, definitely. Days reading and writing, researching and exploring my craft most definitely. There will be stress because I will have to focus on a thing I have avoided for so long…marketing. I’m going to have to learn it, and figure out how to sell my stuff, or find someone else who can hold my hand through the process. One way or another, it has to be done.

I have six months to figure it out, or it’s back to the day job circuit. Then I save up enough to take another six months off, maybe. Something.

Coming Soon

Because of this time Steel Heart will be out this Friday. I have been hard at work finishing the last few chapters, and now I can finally put it out there this weekend!

Steel Line is already well on it’s way, as is the fourth book in the series. Oh yes, I am going all in on this one!

Also be on the lookout for some more free short stories. I hope to publish a couple more next month. Since we are moving in February all I will be able to finish will be the short stories, but I do plan to have something out.

2019 is looking to be an amazing time. Thank you to everyone who is following me on this journey. You make this all possible@