organization · Writing

How to Outline as a Pantser

I know the title looks like an oxymoron, but just bear with me for a moment.

Before I get into detail about what I do as a pantser, I want to talk about what I mean by a pantser, gardener, and plotter, which are terms I’m going to use throughout this post.

A pantser is someone who “flies by the seat of their pants” while they write. Meaning that they do no pre-writing or minimal pre-writing. Pantsers typically don’t use outlines, though they may have some idea of the direction of their stories when they start.

A plotter is someone who uses outlines, pre-writing, and various organizational methods to sort out the plot of their book before they start writing.

Gardeners, or plantsers as they are often known, fall somewhere between plotting and pansting, meaning that they may use some organizational techniques ahead of time but they may be scant or only used sometimes.

The problem a lot of pantsers and gardeners often run into is that they don’t like to outline because it sort of sucks the magic out of the creative process. Half the fun of writing is discovery, so when you get told everything in the outline, there’s no drive to discover. Then the next problem that arises is, if I have a beginning and end, how do I bridge those two pieces if I don’t have an outline?

What I would catch myself doing is constantly rereading what I had written in hopes that I would figure out how to get to the ending I imagined. As you can probably guess, I wasted A LOT of time rereading the same passages, and as the book got longer, I found myself skipping writing days to reread 100 pages, which then put me behind. A few times I tried to outline like a plotter when I got stuck and found myself staring into the void because I still didn’t know how to get to point B from where I was. I wasn’t a plotter and would probably never be, so this type of outlining didn’t work for me. Luckily I did find something that helped a lot: reverse outlining.

I highly doubt I am the first person to come up with reverse outlining, but I figured out this sort of retroactive outlining technique on my own after having reread the same draft every day for 3 days. What a reverse outline is, is writing out what happens in each chapter as you write them. So I make a bulleted list with Chapter # as a header, then put a bunch of bullets under it of the major things that happened. Sometimes I also include character descriptions, important objects or settings, etc. You can do this digitally on a Google/Word Doc or on Scrivener or you can make one by hand in a notebook or on index cards. Something I started to do as my story got longer is to color code the events. General main plot got one color, the romance arcs got a different color, subplots another. You could also do this if you shift point of view as well. That way, you see main points and how they work together at a glance. Here’s an example from my current project, THE REANIMATOR’S HEART:


Chapter One: Foolish Choices

  • Oliver Barlow introduction- he is the coroner at the Paranormal Society and is also a necromancer
  • He autopsies Mr. Hezekiah Henderson who was apparently killed by his own pet tigers (could talk to animals). He gets this info by reviving him briefly
  • His BFF Gwen comes in, she’s in the midst of an asthma attack. Oliver helps her, and she tells him that Felipe Galvan is looking for him. Oliver is flustered because he likes Felipe but begrudgingly agrees to go

This reverse outline can be as detailed or scant as you wish, but it should help to cut down on having to reread and reorient yourself constantly. For some chapters, these entries can be quite long, but it’s worth it. I tend to write these out after I’ve finished a chapter rather than after each writing session. This reverse outline should also help during the editing process as you can target where certain plot points/threads that need to be adjusted at a glance.

Something else you might consider after reverse outlining that helped me was micro-outlining. Half of the reason I use the reverse outline is because I’m not good at thinking too far in the future, but I often have scene ideas along the way with no means of connecting them. I tend to have a detailed reverse outline on a doc and another one of just major events written on index cards. Once I have the preexisting bits done, I make cards for future events I have in my head. As I work forward, the stepping stones to get to those events become clearer, so I start making notes (or note cards) for myself of what I need to do to get there. I think of this as micro outlining because it doesn’t take away from that discoverability aspect that I enjoy with being a pantser, but it keeps me moving forward more smoothly (as someone who forgets things, writing ideas down is key to actually using them later). It also helps me to figure out where to put things I want to include. If you’re someone who is very visual, I highly recommend using an index card based system for reverse outlining. It just makes it a lot easier to visualize what comes next. Plus, moving things around can sometimes jog ideas loose. If you are afraid of losing your index cards, Scrivener also has a digital index card feature.

If you’re a pantser or gardener who is constantly rereading your work or forgetting what you’ve done, I hope you’ll try using a reverse outline to mark out where you’ve been and figure out where you’re going.

Writing

Why Authors Need Other Hobbies

I can already hear some of you saying, “But, Kara, writing is my hobby! It’s my one passion, my true love,” etc.

And, yeah, same, but that’s also part of the problem. For those of us who would eventually like to write full-time or think of writing as more than a hobby, writing can become an all-consuming activity. We spend hours upon hours of our lives staring at the screen, working on plots or outlines, posting on social media about our work, and of course, editing said work. Often, we clock in more time with our writing than we do with our day jobs.

But what happens when the words stop flowing for a while or we write something that isn’t well received? In the past when this happened, I caught myself falling into a mental health spiral because so much of my self-worth is tied closely to my ability to write and my productivity in relation to my writing. Part of this is certainly tied to the capitalistic notion of hustle culture and productivity = self-worth. Author and writer also become part of our identity, and when that part isn’t being stoked, we lose our sense of who we are, our self-confidence, and that leads to a lot of the mental health slipping.

What I found helped me to feel less mentally chaotic when stress or life made writing difficult was learning to crochet.

Parts 1 and 2 of the Letitia’s Garden CAL blanket I am working on for my mom. (Pattern by Rosina Plane on Ravelry)

What I love about crochet is that when I’m done with a project, there is an immediate pay off. I learn stitches, I follow a pattern, and I get a hat/scarf/blanket/produce bag/stuffed squid. Unlike writing where it takes months or years for a pay off, crocheting smaller projects can be done in an hour or two. It’s something I do to wind down if I’m feeling stressed by working on something simple or repetitive or to challenge myself by choosing something with an intricate pattern like the blanket in the picture. It helps keep me centered, especially when my writing isn’t going well.

Part of the reason this works is because I am a goal-oriented person who mentally gets off to ticking things off a to-do list, and a crochet pattern is basically a to-do list that ends in a product magically appearing. I can see the pay-off happening as I work the pattern, and that gives me the brain boost I need to counterbalance what’s going wrong with my writing. Does it help all the time? Absolutely not, and sometimes, I can’t bear the thought of picking up my crochet project and working on it.

But having a hobby that isn’t writing to give your brain that boost it needs to keep out of a downward spiral is really what is key here. If you’re athletic, maybe going to the gym and doing reps or having a pick-up game with your friends will do the trick. If you’re a crafter like me, maybe try crochet, needlepoint, knitting, plastic canvas, or even needle felting. Nothing like stabbing something a million times to get the frustration out. The good thing is, most of these hobbies don’t cost very much. You can get cheap yarn and a serviceable set of hooks/needles for $10 and there are tons of tutorials on YouTube, which is where I learned to crochet (I highly recommend HookedByRobin or JaydaInStitches).

If you are not crafty, then try video games. Much like crafts, quests give that bite size chunk pay off and seeing progression through a story or quest helps to refill the wells with serotonin. I greatly enjoy low stress games like Stardew Valley, Animal Crossing, and Ooblets, so if you aren’t a big gamer, those might be a good place to start to unwind.

The other thing I might suggest if you don’t feel like getting into a new hobby or playing a game is reading. I think most authors also tend to be readers, but I get frustrated when I hear authors say they don’t have time to read. You can probably make time for anything you truly want to do, even if it’s squeezing in a few minutes reading an ebook on your phone while in the bathroom. It still helps to refill those creative reservoirs.

Truthfully, I think doing something non-book related is the better option when you need to counterbalance writing angst. Doing something with your hands or playing video games, which helps to engage that hand-eye coordination and decision making anyway, are rife with pay-offs that might make you feel better if things are going wrong. Those small pay-offs that a hobby can bring add up and will ultimately lower your stress even if a pattern or project is frustrating in the moment. A side benefit is that I’ve often had plot epiphanies while my brain was busy chugging away a crochet project or plantings crops in Stardew Valley. It’s the repetitive, meditative nature of it that allows for your brain to run in the background and unpick the knots you’ve made.

If you’re feeling frustrated or stuck with your writing, I highly recommend trying a new hobby or picking up an old one.

Writing

All of My Books are Now Available on Google Play

The title pretty much gives it away, but yes! All of my books are available on the Google Play store. I will be uploading the short stories there soon, but for now, every novel is available in every country Google Play supports, including the box sets.

The links are active, but I’m still trickling through the system (aka they’re not showing up in searches yet). All of the content warnings and blurbs are available by clicking the books page at the top of the menu on my website.


If you’re someone who uses Google Play, you can grab your copies below:

Kinship and Kindness (Paranormal Society Romance #1, latest book)

The Earl of Brass (Ingenious Mechanical Devices #1, only 99c, oldest book)

The Gentleman Devil (Ingenious Mechanical Devices #2)

The Earl and the Artificer (Ingenious Mechanical Devices #3)

Dead Magic (Ingenious Mechanical Devices #4)

Selkie Cove (Ingenious Mechanical Devices #5)

The Wolf Witch (Ingenious Mechanical Devices #6)

Box set IMD 1-3

Box set IMD 4-6

organization · Writing

On Doing Things Wrong as an Author

Let me preface this by saying this is not a how-to on how to fix your screw ups. This is a post about things I screwed up that I didn’t realize were even a problem until I did them [repeatedly].

There is no right or wrong way to do most things as an author, especially in regards to writing. There will always be people who are really into your niche genre or dying for this very specific type of character you’re writing, but on the business end of things, there are, let’s say, less desirable ways of doing things. Things that don’t benefit you/the writer or the reader/your audience.

How I F-ed Up My Newsletter

I am incredibly guilty of doing those less desirable things because I’m either a) tired or burnout b) didn’t know better c) didn’t want to bother anyone. I bolded and italicized the last one because not wanting to bother anyone has been a lifelong mode of operation that I probably need therapy for, but we will not get into that. The problem with that mindset is that you treat everything you do as a chore for others. I only send emails to my newsletter occasionally because I don’t want to bother them. Or I don’t want to advertise my book because I don’t want to bother people. This means I am treating the books that I love and spent hours and hours of my life working on as something unworthy of attention, and in the long-run, I am setting myself up for failure because people don’t know I have books or think I’m only reaching out to sell them something, which is not a great look.

So what I’ve been working on is creating a monthly newsletter that will cover the following things:

Join my monthly newsletter for: sneak peeks, freebies/deals, book recommendations, life updates, pet pics, and book research
The background is grey with teal writing and there are 2 bats flying behind the words.

If you join my monthly newsletter, I’ll share things I’m working on, some cool research (and let me tell you, writing historically set books, there is a lot and it is weird), pics of my dogs, and books that I’ve read and loved and think you’ll love, too. When you sign-up, you’ll also get a free prequel short story, and over the next few months, I plan to send out another free short to subscribers. After the initial thank you emails, you will get monthly emails, which will be sent out at the end of every month.

I decided to change this to a beefier, monthly email because I was doing a disservice to my readers/subscribers by “not bothering them” except when I had book updates, and when I thought harder about that, it felt wrong to only send messages when I published. You could just follow me on Amazon or Bookbub if you wanted that kind of bare bones update.

How I F-ed Up my Back Matter

The next giant thing I screwed up is not keeping up with fixing my back matter. Back matter is the about the author, also by the author, newsletter/social media links, etc. that are found at the back of your book. Between changing laptops several times since 2014, switching writing programs, and just being overwhelmed at the prospect of going through like 10 Word docs, I put off updating all of these things for YEARS. This means that my first book had an “also by” list that only went up to like book four of the series. I facepalmed hard when I realized I hadn’t updated my back matter since 2017.

Something I would also recommend other authors doing is going back and formatting their docs, so the chapter headers are in a heading style and the body text is one uniform style. This makes it easier for the Kindle and eReader software to convert your book to something that makes sense. Guess who went back and properly formatted all 10 documents? And I was shocked to find that once I got going, it took significantly less time than I expected. I was able to do all of them over the course of a week and reuploaded the new files to my distributors. Amazon/KDP also has a new bit of free software called Kindle Create that is a lot like Vellum or, if you’ve used D2D, their autogenerated software, which will break your book into chapters and add pretty flourishes if you’re so inclined. Once again, very easy, highly recommend to make your books look spiffy.

If you’re an author, this is your sign to fix your back matter and formatting as it won’t take you nearly as long as you think once you finish the first book.

How I Forgot to Publish an Entire Box Set

The last thing I did to get my work back into shape is to add a new box set for the Ingenious Mechanical Devices series. A while ago, I made a box set for books 1-3, which is 20% off the cost of buying the books individually, but I thought I’d wait until a year after book 6 came out before I made the next box set. Well, then I got overwhelmed with life and then enough time passed that I forgot. A couple weeks ago, I reached out to my cover designer (Lou Harper at Cover Affairs), made the file, and got it all listed, so if you’re interested in getting a box set of books 4-6 for 25% off buying the books individually, now you can. Both sets are available on all major retailers, BUT I had a little hiccup with Apple Books and Kobo. They have the set as a preorder that releases January 29th. I’ve reached out to fix it with no answer, but the 29th isn’t that far away, so if it doesn’t get fixed immediately, you will get your books by the end of the month.

TL;DR

If you’re an author, research best practices instead of assuming you’re being annoying because you could be in a totally different way than you though.

You may also want to join my monthly newsletter as it starts up in earnest this month.

If you’re an author, fix your back matter and formatting.

Check out my latest release, which is a box set of books 4-6 in the Ingenious Mechanical Devices series for 25% off the cost of the books individually.


Let me know in the comments what kinds of things you like to see in author newsletters!

organization · Personal Life

How I’m Getting My Sh*t Together

If you saw my post on “Life’s a Mess but There’s Hope,” you know that I have been having a rather rough time. Earlier in the year, due to life/emotional stress (or from a potential asymptomatic covid leftover), I was struggling with brain fog, checking OCD, and general anxiety. This combined with work stuff and writing malaise had wreaked havoc on my self-esteem and self-worth, so while I was mainlining YouTube videos, as one does when they feel shitty, I came across Sarra Cannon’s videos about her quarterly planning.

I already am a big proponent of using planners and have used a bullet journal every year since 2016, but when my downhill mental spiral started in earnest in 2020, I stopped setting concrete goals and my organization devolved from there to the bare minimum. So when I saw Sarra’s planning videos, I was excited, especially since she is a writer and entrepreneur, and it turns out her HB90 system is centered around exactly that. Before I go on, I’d like to say that I am in no way affiliated with Sarra’s classes. I just took the HB90 course and felt that I benefited from it.

What is the HB90 system?

The HB90 system was created by author Sarra Cannon (YouTube channel is Heart Breathings) as a way to help others stay organized and move toward the ideal life they want. Instead of focusing on a year at a time, she breaks things down by quarter. Some of you might shrug and say it sounds like every other planner, but there were certain aspects that greatly appealed to me.

The first one was that this system focused on quarterly goals instead of yearly goals. A problem I often faced was getting off track due to life and my yearly goals would rapidly spiral into why bother land. I wouldn’t be able to right that ship and would give up. By having quarterly goals, they are smaller chunks, and after each quarter/90 days, you do a review and figure out what worked, what didn’t work, and what you need to do. That way, if you know you were doing something self-sabotaging, you can sort of check yourself and figure out how to move forward. Also, you can decide if you want to continue a half-finished/unfinished goal or shelve it next quarter.

The other thing that appealed to me was the visualization/ideal life aspect. At the beginning of the course (and each quarter), you fill out questions regarding what you truly want your life to look like. The idea is that if you have a specific direction/vision, you know that your goals should aim you toward that vision and you can eliminate or minimize things that won’t move you toward that life. It wasn’t done in a “you should be rich in the future with a mansion and a convertible” or girlboss kind of way. She’s simply asking you to find an ideal in order to make sure your choices make sense. Something I struggle with is “spaghetti flinging,” so if I don’t know what I need to do, I will do all the things instead. This means, I do a lot of random stuff that doesn’t amount to much. This is meant to eliminate that because I can say, “Yes, this idea is great, but this isn’t what I’m focusing on right now.”

I don’t want to go over every aspect of this course (this is what taking the course is for), but something I appreciated was that Sarra Cannon is mindful of reality and different realities. She asks you to be realistic but also kind to yourself. Don’t set yourself up for failure by being like “New Year New Me!” while still having old you’s habits and abilities. You have to work on that gradually, and I was so relieved to hear her talk about if you have chronic health problems and budgeting your time based on how often you know those things take you out of commission. This really isn’t a hustle culture kind of thing, so that work til you drop and hustle harder wasn’t there. It was about knowing what you are currently capable of and potentially working toward different habits in the future or scheduling yourself better right now. As someone who has inflammation problems, migraines, and anxiety, I can’t live up to the ableist standard of hustle culture, so this took some of that pressure off me while I was working on my goals/schedule.

My Ideal Life

When I was asked to imagine my ideal life, I struggled a bit. Academia has been going through a weird time of upheaval, especially in the humanities where I work, and that has made my own life more complicated. What I decided to do for my ideal life was to create a vision board on Pinterest, and I quickly realized it would make no sense to anyone but me. What I want is a life lived creatively. I want a rich, fulfilling life that is focused on things that make me feel good: my partner, my dogs, going to museums, doing creative writing, doing more art. There’s certainly room in there for a full-time academic position if one should ever come available, but I don’t feel like I can bank on that due to the current climate at US universities. I would like to model my life a little on Vincent Price’s. He was an actor, obviously, but he also loved art and cooking, and I want a life that is filled with creativity in various forms (he also wrote a book about his dog, The Book of Joe). I already crochet, but I’d like to do more traditional art, maybe even pottery, and I’d eventually like to live off my writing (especially if teaching full-time is ever off the table). This means my overall goals should be pointing me toward being able to rely on my writing more and giving myself the space to treat my writing seriously.

My Goals for 2022 Quarter 1

Goals in the HB90 system are a little different from what we normally think of as goals. The HB90 system asks you to pick things for goals that are slightly out of your control. That way you can see whether the tasks you put under them worked or not. So I’m not posting ALL of my projects under these goals, but the idea is that you have an overarching goal, then projects under it (larger scale stuff that you would normally consider goals) and those projects get broken into tasks that can be accomplished between a few hours or a week’s time. So here are my goals for Q1:

  1. To work on publishing new books while reworking my back list to increase my monthly income to $X/$Y/$Z a month (numbers have been hidden because I felt awkward talking about how much I make off my books).
  2. To create an energized community surrounding my works and increase my social media followers by 10%/15%/20% (Focus on newsletter, blog, Instagram, Twitter).
  3. Continue to work on my teaching materials and to maintain my mental health by maintaining a decent work-life balance.

To accomplish these goals, I will be writing more (please see my 2022 Projects post for specifics), reading some books on marketing, taking another course to keep my author knowledge up to date, hopefully sending out more newsletters, fixing the back matter in my books, and working on some departmental stuff for one of the universities I work at.

The Kanban Board

The top level of my Kanban board for quarter 1, aka the to-do section. The other sections aren’t shown since they’re empty.

To keep this post from being 8 miles long, I will not go into minute detail about the Kanban board (you can check out one of Sarra’s videos for detail), but the Kanban board is part of the HB90 setup as well. It is originally a Japanese form of organization where you get a dry erase board/paper/digital board and divide it into three parts. It goes to-do, currently working on, done. The idea is that you put everything in the to-do part, and as you work on it, you move it down until it ends up in the done section. Sarra uses sticky notes, and because my tasks aren’t super granular this quarter, I decided to use dry erase magnets as they are less likely to fall off.

The things written on each magnet are tasks that I need to do this quarter. I’m sure I’m missing some, but that’s what the extra magnets are for. What I like about this technique is that it is very visual. I am a tactile, visual person who needs lists in front of my face in order to remember to do things. If I can see progress (aka things moving down the board), I think I will feel better about myself and maintaining my mental health with be easier. Something I have struggled with is feeling like I’m doing so much but not getting anywhere. Something I’m still gauging is how much will fit in 90 days, but that should come with practice and will vary based on what classes on I’m teaching and such.

Final Thoughts

I’m excited to have some sort of framework in which to organize my writing and indie author stuff because these last few years have been a shit show for me. Sarra Cannon’s videos and course has helped to reignite my focus and zest for being an indie author. I’m cautiously hopeful that this will get me back on track.

Let me know if you want to know anything else about the HB90 program or how I use planners in the future! I do plan to update you all on how this is going at the end of the quarter.

Book Reviews

My Favorite Books of 2021

I’d like to begin by saying this is in no way a comprehensive list of my favorite books. Throughout the year, I read roughly 120 books, so to narrow this down, I went through my reading log spreadsheet and picked through my top 5 star books. The following books are in no particular order, but I did group them together by semi related genres/feelings.


The Intensity!

Jade War by Fonda Lee– book 2 in the Green Bone Saga (see Jade City for book 1) did not disappoint. I actually had a hard time getting through parts of Jade War because I needed to put the book aside and calm down. This book of magic, family, political intrigue, and the brutality of street wars is incredibly intense but worth the heart palpitations.
Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse– a multi-POV fantasy set in an alternate version of Central America where colonialism didn’t destroy the Nahuatl/indigenous cultures. If you’re into soft but dark magic ridden boys, headstrong female captains who are a bit of a mess, and incredibly intriguing mysteries, Black Sun is one to pick up.
Ring Shout by P. Djèlí Clark– What is the KKK were actual monsters? Ring Shout tells the story of a diverse group of resistance fighters who decide to take on the KKK and bring them down once and for all. What I absolutely loved about this was the way African root/folk magic was interwoven with historical events and eldritch abominations. All of Clark’s works are a must read for me.


Kissing Books

Tommy Cabot Was Here by Cat Sebastian– While narrowing down my list, there were 3 Cat Sebastian books with 5 stars that I read this year, so take it as a blanket statement that I love her work. Tommy Cabot Was Here is deliciously filled with hurt-comfort as Tommy deals with a divorce and making a new life with his son while grappling with feelings for his best friend (his son’s teacher at the boarding school they attended as boys). If you love queer historical fiction, Cat Sebastian is a fav of mine.
Seducing the Sorcerer by Lee Welch– Goofy magic horse? Check. Middle aged protagonists in a queer romance? Check. A Diana Wynne Jones magical vibe? Check. This may not be everyone’s cup of tea, especially if you aren’t into BDSM (it was pretty light overall), but this just hit the spot for me. Charming, complex, yet easy to sink into.
Act Your Age, Eve Brown by Talia Hibbert– As soon as I see a book with neurodivergent love interests, I am sold. I love Eve and Jacob’s dynamic, both messes in their own way. Tornado of chaos meets stuffed shirt to create the perfect balance. All of the books in the Brown Sisters series are wonderful, but I think this one is my fav.


Into New Worlds

An Affair of Poisons by Addie Thorley– This is another one that I think hit all my sweet spots. It reminded me of Hocus Pocus in terms of the brother-sister would kill for you dynamic. I’m also a sucker for Louis XIV/Rococopunk type stories, and this doesn’t disappoint with a plot to kill Louis XIV while overthrowing the government and creating an even worse one featuring magic and poisons.
The Invisible Life of Addie LaRou by V. E. Schwab– A girl in 17th century France sells her soul to have a different life and quickly finds herself in a Monkey’s Paw situation where no one remembers her. Until she meets Henry. This one is a slow start, but once it got going, I was hooked and finished it in like two days.
Redemptor by Jordan Ifueko– If this sounds good to you, make sure to read Raybearer first. Both books follow Tarisai as she joins the future emperor’s court, finds a new family, and discovers that she is so much more than she thought. I always worry a second book in a fantasy duology will be too samey-samey with the first one or go totally off the rails. Ifueko creates an interesting world filled with so much magic and how one deals with a legacy of pain to make a better future.


Life Is Complicated

Yolk by Mary H. K. Choi– Talk about complicated sibling relationships. June and Jayne are sisters who seem a world apart when in reality, they are both messes. Jayne is envious of her corporate, high-rise sister while she is struggling through college and clout-chasing friends in a crappy apartment. When June steals Jayne’s identity, the sisters are drawn together and deal with their new realities and futures. I’d also like to mention that I love Mary H. K. Choi’s books, and if you haven’t read Emergency Contact, you should.
One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston– time traveling lesbian, need I say more? After spotting a leather jacket lesbian on the train (Jane), August takes the train to get to know her and quickly realizes Jane has been stuck on the same train since the 70s. It’s a story as much about NYC and queer history as it is a sapphic romance and begs the question, will August and Jane get to be together?
Little Thieves by Margaret Owen– Vanja has been impersonating Princess Gisele for over a year, but her deception comes crashing down after being cursed for her greed and discovering her horrid betrothed is plotting something horrific. Vanja has to team up with a motley crew, complete with a stuffy inspector, to save her country and maybe even save herself. Set in a German-like fantasy world, the folklore and magic was *chef kiss*


Let me know in the comments what are your best books of 2021!

Monthly Review · Writing

2022 Projects

Photo by Lisa on Pexels.com

As I mentioned in my recent post, I want 2022 to be a year of getting my shit together. I’ll talk more about this in a future post, but I have been taking a course on the HB90 method, which is a way to keep yourself organized, plan future goals, and get your life in order. The course was made by a fellow writer, so I’m hopeful it’ll help me to get back on track. While I’m doing the behind the scenes work, I wanted to give you a little preview of what I am working on and hope to publish in the coming year.

Now, a little disclaimer that I cannot control many factors, so I don’t have full release dates yet. Assume longer projects will come out in the second half of 2022.


Photo by Mitja Juraja on Pexels.com

The Reanimator’s Heart

The Reanimator’s Heart is an off-shoot of the Paranormal Society Romances, so it still takes place in the same time period as Kinship and Kindness and many scenes are at the New York Paranormal Society. The reason I chose to create a spin-off is because this will be sort of equal parts paranormal mystery and M/M romance.

The Reanimator’s Heart is like Pushing Up Daisys meets Penny Dreadful. There are definitely some darker, scarier moments in this story, so if you like Jordan L. Hawk’s Widdershins or KJ Charles’ Magpie Lord stories, this is probably up your alley.

Oliver Barlow is the Paranormal Society’s resident coroner and necromancer. Oliver does his best to keep his powers hidden, but when he finds the man he’s had a crush on for years dead, he accidentally revives the charming Felipe Galvan. But Felipe refuses to go back to being dead until they find out who murdered him. Oliver and Felipe soon find themselves entangled with a murderous cabal that wants to bring something horrid from the great beyond.


Photo by Brandon Nickerson on Pexels.com

TROUSERS AND TROUBLE (Paranormal Society Romance #2)

Trousers and Trouble is the sequel/prequel to Kinship and Kindness. This story follows Bennett from when he leaves his uncle’s home, arrives in Brooklyn, and meets his best friends, Ruth and Rory. I know the series title says, “romance,” but let’s stretch this to mean platonic friendships and self-love. This is really a story of Bennett discovering who he is and a community where he is accepted for who he is (on several levels).

As with Kinship and Kindness, there will be magic, shifters, but this story has three transgender main characters. Ruth and Rory will eventually each have their own books in the series.

Between drag balls, performances at the Stratford Theater, and days spent at the Paranormal Society, Rory and Ruth are living their best, bachelor lives in Brooklyn. That is until a teenager on the run from his old life stumbles into their path.
While parenting had never been in the cards, Ruth and Rory know what they need to do, and they soon become Bennett’s fairy godmothers as they help him become the person he was always meant to be. But sometimes the past sinks in its teeth and refuses to let go. When Bennett’s family comes knocking, Ruth and Rory will stop at nothing to keep their new friend safe.


Future WIPS

  • A short story freebie for my newsletter that will probably be in the K&K world (join my newsletter in advance and you will get another free short story, “The Errant Earl”)
  • Tempests and Temptation (PSR #3)
  • Book 2 of the unnamed necromancer series
  • More books in the Ingenious Mechanical Devices series- not sure how many, but there will be at least 2 more

Well, I think I have kept you all long enough. Let me know in the comments which of these projects you are most looking forward to!

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The Box Set of Books 1-3 of the Ingenious Mechanical Devices is Now Available at All Major Retailers

For quite a few years, the box set of books 1-3 of the Ingenious Mechanical Devices series was only available on Amazon, but I have finally taken it wide, which means that you can now buy a copy on all major ebook retailers, such as Kobo, Nook, Scribd, Apple, and more.

The best part is that if you buy the box set, it costs 20% less than buying the three books individually.

The box set contains The Earl of Brass (#1), The Gentleman Devil (#2), and The Earl and the Artificer (#3).

If you click the button below, it will take you to your favorite retailer. If you have never visited Books2Read before, it will ask you to pick a retailer and will remember for future clicks.

Personal Life

Life is a Mess But There’s Hope

Typically I go on Twitter to word vomit, but this word vomit felt way too long for Twitter, and threads, despite their length, tend to get ignored because TL;DR. I get it, but if you’re here, you’ve [hopefully] committed to sitting through a life update or sorts.

First off, this year has been a fucking mess and a half. I don’t use the f word often, but it belongs there. If you haven’t been on my social media as much, besides Covid, my classes being ten kinds of messed up due to covid and university mishandling, several pets (2 cats and my mom’s dog) passed since 2020, and my dad had a severe Covid infection early in the pandemic, managed to get off a ventilator, recover, and go back to work after months of rehabilitation before suddenly passing away in May. I’ve been on a mental health roller coaster I never asked to be on, and it made OCD symptoms I was uncertain I had VERY OBVIOUS over the past few months.

I developed health checking anxiety/OCD with my dad and once he passed, my brain decided the only sensible thing to do was to pass it to my dogs. I’m working on it, but that truly isn’t the point of this post. I just feel like I need to do a lot of scene setting since I haven’t posted a whole lot as of late on my website and this is why.

What I’ve learned about myself recently is that I need structure, badly. I am the kind of person who does well with lists, schedules, time blocked out and planned in advance, which is why I was so good in college and graduate school. I was strict with my time and reaped the benefits. What happened to disrupt this was a sort of mental health free fall in 2018 and that I had started to come out of right before the pandemic, which then plummeted right back to where it was and worse after that. I never was able to regain the structure I previously had, and over the course of 2+ years, I sort of forgot I ever had that structure and with that laxity came mess.

Messy mental states, messy emotional states, messy writing/publication, messy everything.

And I don’t like mess. What I’m trying to do at this point is go back to a fairly regimented life again. I took the time I needed to cool down and get my brain straightened out, but I think to feel the best I can, it would be doing myself a kindness by rebuilding that structure.

I’d also like to use this post as a little bit of accountability for myself later. At the end of the week, I’m starting a course on planning/time management/structure for writers. As an indie author, the lack of structure and self-made deadlines leads to laxity on my part. My hope is that this will help me recenter and find direction again. I’m someone who uses a bullet journal anyway, but extra structure and new techniques never hurt.

Some other goals include:

FIXING MY WEBSITE. So I broke my website. You may have noticed that it looks far fuglier than it used to. I messed around with the theme without realizing the theme I previously used was “retired,” so now it looks hideous by comparison. Luckily, my partner can code and promised to fix up my website fairly soon, so yay. Stay tuned for a custom website that doesn’t look like this sad basic-ness.

PUBLISH 2 BOOKS IN 2022. I have two projects open at the moment: Trousers and Trouble (book 2 of the Paranormal Society Romances featuring trans leads) and The Reanimator’s Heart (which is book 1 of an off-shoot series based out of the paranormal society but it’s more of a mystery-romance than just a romance). I’m very excited about both projects, so my hope is that getting my shit together soon will lead to me finishing them fairly quickly (or quickly for me). My last two books have been a semi hot mess in regards to releases, and I REALLY want to do this properly this time.

GET BETTER AT MARKETING. I suffer from “I don’t want to bother them” syndrome, which is totally anxiety driven and in turn leads to my book releases being meh at best. Trying to rebuild my self-confidence and work on actual ways to market my books instead of flinging spaghetti is the goal here. I’ve already done some note taking and video watching, so I’m hopeful.

WRITE MORE CONSISTENTLY. There’s a vicious cycle with my mental health and writing. No writing = bad mental health = no writing = bad mental health = lather rinse repeat. Then the writing muscle withers and I have to rebuild all that. Hence my current need for structure. The hope is that structure will allow more writing and more writing will help to smooth over those spike bits of anxiety I’m still dealing with.

As mentioned earlier, the hope is that the course I’m taking along with my current drive to get my shit together will actually work and propel me into doing more and getting closer to my goals faster. I am really, really sick of spinning my wheels as I have for the past few months. On one hand, it’s perfectly understandable given what happened; I get that. At the same time, I hate how it feels. I hate feeling like I’m constantly failing or falling, even if I’m not. This certainly isn’t a new year, new me, rah rah type post, but I do want to remind myself that it is possible to get my shit together. It also helps to have a post like this to remind myself what I intend to do.

We’ll see. Either way, hopefully you all will hear from me more often, whether you want to or not, lol.

Stay safe, peeps.

Kara

Uncategorized

Hacked on Facebook/Instagram

*deep sigh* So on Tuesday night, my Facebook account was hacked. If you’re friends with me or follow me on Instagram, you may have noticed that I disappeared.

Someone took over my account and posted horrible things to get it disabled and then they tried to charge my Paypal account for Facebook ads. I’m also currently fighting a $125 charge to that from these people. I didn’t have a whole lot of mental spoons to begin with, and this certainly didn’t help.

I have no idea if I will get my Facebook or Instagram accounts back at this point. I have a back-up Instagram at Karajorgensenwriter just in case, which I’m now using.

What I hate most about this is how isolated I suddenly feel. I had been predominantly using Twitter and Discord recently, but there were several friends I only spoke to on Instagram’s messenger. Having to track everyone down is hard and people assume my new account is a clone/hacked one, which is doubly frustrating.

On top of all that, if my account is eventually deleted/disabled, I lose tons of pictures of pets who have passed on and some pics of my dad who has also passed on. I’m more upset by the loss of pictures than anything else. And Facebook’s “help” is anything but. There is literally no way to reach out to an actual person for help, so god knows if I’ll get anything back and because the hackers posted horrible things, making a new account is VERY difficult at this point because they’re tied to my devices/IPs. You see the problem here.

Anyway, follow me on Twitter at @authorkaraj or Instagram at Karajorgensenwriter or sign up for my newsletter if you care more about book news than dog and crochet pics.