Monthly Review

My End of 2022 Reflection

I’m sure within the next few weeks, you all will be really sick of new year stuff, but I wanted to do a recap of everything that has happened this year and sort of parse out my feelings regarding 2022.

2022 has been the best year in a while for me. It feels odd for me to say that considering all the negative things that happened in 2021. Last year was rough. 2022 was a year of regaining my equilibrium and figuring out what my new normal is. Where 2021 put things in perspective, 2022 was a year where I actually started moving toward a future I want.

Before 2018, I was doing pretty well as an indie author, but I had massive burnout and depression that year, which tanked my writing and career in general. When I started to finally come out of it and focused on my writing again, the pandemic hit. This year, I decided to make a concerted effort to get my writing and author career back on track, and it worked. I wrote, edited, and published The Reanimator’s Heart, and I even wrote Flowers and Flourishing (a newsletter freebie coming in late January) during that time. What shocked me most this year was how much I accomplished and how much of an impact those things had on the success of The Reanimator’s Heart.

When I say The Reanimator’s Heart was the best book launch I ever had, I’m not exaggerating. I had over 100 preorders (nearly double of my previous best), lots of first week reviews, consistent sales, and so much buzz and support from my friends and readers. Words cannot describe how grateful I am for all the support I’ve gotten for this weird book. Never in my wildest dreams did I think an autistic necromancer and his undead love would get this kind of attention. I just wanted to write a book that appealed to me and was the right brand of weird to get me back into writing consistently again. Oliver and Felipe are a pair I cannot wait to write more of, and I will be publishing book 2, The Reanimator’s Soul, in 2023 (no preorder yet but you can add it on Goodreads). There will be at least one more book in the series as well, maybe two, so stay tuned for that.

My word of the year for 2022 was “rekindle” because I wanted to rekindle my career and my love of writing. I’m still in shock that I managed to do it, but I put in a lot of focused effort to get there. I did the HB90 class as well as Publish and Thrive to remind myself of good practices for authors and where to focus my energy. I advertised my books regularly online and did a decent job of preparing for my preorders campaign for The Reanimator’s Heart. Looking through my goals and notes for the year, I covered a lot of ground, and I am proud of myself for getting my shit together finally.

In a perfect world, I would love to be able to rely less on adjuncting for my income and rely more on my books and/or other creative endeavors. Previously, I’ve applied for lots of full-time jobs and got approximately zero interviews or responses (and yes, many were outside academia), so part of me wants to try working for myself more while I’m able to do so. I enjoy teaching a lot, but the tenuous nature of class quotas, universities deciding to cut or change programs, and just the general misery surrounding the way the humanities in academia have taken a nosedive makes me hesitant to put all my eggs in that poorly constructed basket. With my writing and creative stuff, I can’t control how much I make, but I can certainly influence it and do my best to set myself up for success. The fact that I can change things or make choices that work best for me is the greatest appeal. That and being neurodivergent, I don’t necessarily cope well with many traditional jobs, which sucks. I would love to be able to do so and have more stability, but thirty-one years of life has shown me I’m suited to the structure academia but they aren’t hiring, unfortunately.

When all is said and done, I’m really proud of what I’ve done this year and how I feel going into 2023. I hope this coming year moves me forward as 2022 did, but more than anything, I hope I can look back at 2023 next year and feel the same sense of pride and achievement. I’ll talk more about what I have planned for 2023 in a few weeks, but for now, I hope you all have a happy holiday season and a great new year.

Monthly Review

November 2022 Wrap-Up Post

This month was a struggle, as November almost always is. Between getting a lot of papers and work to grade, the time change, anxiety, and holiday stuff, I feel like I did not get as much done as I would have liked to. I’m trying hard not to beat myself up over it because I did the best I could with what I had in my mental reserves. This might also be a bit of a wake-up call to me [again] about making sure to refill the creative well instead of trying to steamroller forward even when I’m mentally exhausted. I also got into a minor car accident (got cut off and popped a tire running off the road), which made my anxiety skyrocket at the end of the month. If this is my “worst” month this year, I still think I did pretty damn good. Anyway, let’s see what my goals for November were.

  • Read 8 books
  • Blog weekly and put out the monthly newsletter
  • Keep marketing The Reanimator’s Heart
  • Word count goals for “Flowers and Flourishing”
    • Minimum- 10k
    • Intermediate- 12.5k
    • Stretch- 15k
  • Shop for majority of the Christmas presents
  • Actually work on that spring class’s lesson plans
  • Do something relaxing- not sure what exactly but video games, drawing, crafts count

Books

My goal for November was to read 8 books, and I read 8 books.

  1. The Ancient Magus’s Bride Vol. 16 by Kore Yamazaki- 4 stars, I like that we’re finally coming to a head with the antagonist in this arc. It could be its own manga series with how long it’s been.
  2. The Stand-Up Groomsman (#2) by Jackie Lau- 4 stars, loved this one. The MCs don’t hit it off initially when standoffish meets high energy comedian, but the way they truly see each other is *chef kiss*
  3. Even Though I Knew the End by C. L. Polk- 5 stars, demons, angels, and collected souls in 1920s Chicago with a queer cast? Yes please. Very short but very good.
  4. A Gathering Storm by Joanna Chambers- 4 stars, loved the disability rep with the MCs voice issue and [potential] neurodivergence along with the interweaving of spiritualism and grief.
  5. Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell- 4 stars, a fiction/nonfiction interweaving of Shakespeare’s dead son, Hamnet, and his character Hamlet where the supernatural infuses the essence of the family’s life. Really interesting, definitely edges into lit fic stylistically.
  6. The Solstice Cabin (#4) by Arden Powell- 4 stars, magical 1920s Canada where one MC follows the other nearly to the ends of the earth for love.
  7. Skeleton Song (#7.7) by Seanan McGuire- 4 stars, a short story showing how Christopher fell into Mariposa and met the skeleton girl.
  8. What the Dead Know by Nghi Vo- 4 stars, fake psychics get more than they bargained for when putting on a seance at an all girls’ magical school.

Admin/Behind-the-Scenes Stuff

  • Marketed The Reanimator’s Heart a lot during the month
  • Sent out more audio review copies of Kinship and Kindness
  • Made a temporary cover for Flowers and Flourishing
  • Made a Goodreads page for Flowers and Flourishing
  • Wrote the blurb for Flowers and Flourishing
  • Did the majority of my Christmas shopping (very happy about this scrambling in December stresses me out)
  • Graded so a shit ton of papers *laugh sob*
  • Got a new tire put on my car because I got run off the road (yes, I’m fine, just freaked out)
  • Made email adverts for the class I’m teaching in the spring semester

As a side note, I did not touch my lesson plans for next semester at all. It has been pushed back once again. If I get through half of my plans in December, I’ll be happy.


Blogs Posted


Writing

How did writing go? Badly, lol. The sad part is that the words were good. The vast majority of what I wrote won’t require major edits or rewrites. It’s just the quantity that went wrong. As mentioned in my blog post on NaNoWriMo, I hate November. It’s the month when my brain nosedives due to seeing high NaNo word counts, the weather/time change, and all the grading I’m doing. I had wanted to write at least 10,000 words. Instead, I wrote 8,000 words, and the process was torturous. Luckily, I’m writing a novella, so I’m really not that behind at this point and will have it out on time as long as I don’t totally tank in December.

  • Week 1- 0 words (6 day week)
  • Week 2- 4,000 words, 571 words/day, (didn’t write for 2 days)
  • Week 3- 1,300 words, 186 words/day (didn’t write for 3 days)
  • Week 4- 1,300 words, 186 words/day (didn’t write for 3 days)
  • Week 5- 1,400 words, 467 words/day (3 day week, didn’t write 1 of those days)

Hopes for December

  • Finish writing Flowers and Flourishing
  • Edit Flowers and Flourishing
  • Read 8 books
  • Blog weekly and send out my December newsletter
  • Finish Christmas prep
  • Have 6 weeks of lessons prepped/outlined for next semester
  • Set goals for Q1 of 2023
Monthly Review

September 2022 Wrap-Up Post

September was a shockingly productive month. One of those months where I’m super convinced I forgot something very important because I got so much done and nothing seems to have gone wrong. I’m always suspicious when things go well. Let’s take a look at the goals I made in August for September and see how I did.

  • Maintain my mental health and a decent work-life balance while grading/teaching
  • Make my goals for quarter 4
  • Writing goal of 10k/12k/14k of “Flowers and Flourishing”
  • Deal with any last minute book BS that comes up for The Reanimator’s Heart
  • Blog weekly and put out my monthly newsletter
  • Maybe make another book trailer/Tiktok for The Reanimator’s Heart (<– didn’t happen)
  • Read 8 books

Books

My goal was to read 8 books this month, and I read 9 books in September.

  1. Home Grown Talent (#2) by Joanna Chambers and Sally Malcolm- 4 stars, a gardener and a model turned TV personality team up for a weekly gardening segment where flirting for the camera turns to something more
  2. Sophie Go’s Lonely Hearts Club by Roselle Lim- 5 stars, a matchmaker returns home to save her new career while dealing with a toxic mother and a gaggle of lovely and complex older gentlemen who need to be matched
  3. Saga (#8) by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples- 4 stars, rereading before volume 10 drops
  4. Self-Made Boys by Anna-Marie McLemore- 4 stars, a queer and trans retelling of The Great Gatsby where everyone manages to get a happy ending
  5. Imperfect Illusions (#1) by Vanora Lawless- 4 stars, set during WWI, two gay men with magic struggle to maintain their connection and safety during the war as they’re used as weapons
  6. Monstress (#7) by Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda- 4 stars, things are getting dicey for our heroine, but her little fox comes to the rescue once more
  7. Lay Me Down in Ivy by Stefanie Simpson- 3 stars, an interesting Victorian-flavored erotica with a fem dom MC and a cinnamon roll male MC, could have used more characterization overall
  8. Monotone Blue by Nagabe- 4 stars, a studious reptile person arrives at a new school and starts to bond with a lazy cat person. A cute MM young adult romance story that I wish would continue and does talk briefly about some heavier subjects
  9. A Snake Falls to Earth by Darcie Little Badger- 4 stars, a wonderful story with lots of Indigenous lore where a human girl and a snake-shifter from another realm team up to save his frog friend and her grandmother.

Admin/Behind-the-Scenes Stuff

  • Proofed the audiobook of Kinship and Kindness
  • Paid narrator for the audiobook
  • Released the audiobook of Kinship and Kindness (see blog post in next section for links/info)
  • Fixed proof copy of The Reanimator’s Heart, so now it is ready to go
  • Made more marketing graphics for The Reanimator’s Heart
  • Set up my goals for Q4 and have reset my kanban board
  • Got my omicron booster/flu shot
  • Touching base with my job about my classes next semester (required some logistical work)
  • Started teaching my writing classes for the semester
  • Have been continuously in grading hell, but I don’t feel like I’m drowning in work. That’s as good as the balance gets at this point.
  • Visited friends for dinner (we all are fastidious maskers on campus), which was really lovely and has helped my brain a bit
  • Worked on plotting “Flowers and Flourishing” and wrote act one
  • May have made a Pinterest board for the next Reanimator book, even though it isn’t in line to be written next, but I like creating a vibe while it marinates

Blogs Posted


Writing

I ended up writing a bit less than I hoped this month. My initial low goal was 10k words (as in 11.5k total), and I ended up only writing to 10k (9.5k words). I really shouldn’t be shocked though because the first act always takes me the longest to get through. Now that I’m getting into act II, I’m hoping that it will move quicker, and I’ll have an easier time balancing my grading and my writing as I’ll be more accustomed to my schedule.

  • Week 1 (4 days)- 720 words (missed 2 days)
  • Week 2- 2600 words (missed 4 days)
  • Week 3- 1800 words (missed 2 days)
  • Week 4- 600 words (missed 6 days)
  • Week 5 (5 days)- 2500 words (missed 2 days)

Hopes for October

  • Have a good launch for The Reanimator’s Heart (aka release ebook and paperback and maybe hit my stretch goal for my preorders)
  • Start prepping the weekly notes for my spring classes as they are both new *laugh sob*
  • Writing goal
    • Minimum goal: 10,000 words
    • Normal goal: 12,500 words
    • Stretch goal: 15,000 words
  • Read 8 books
  • Blog weekly and put out my monthly newsletter
  • Enjoy doing fall/Halloween stuff
Monthly Review

August 2022 Wrap-Up Post

Somehow August was simultaneously the longest and shortest month. This was probably due to teaching a summer class that went at a breakneck pace while trying to finish up my book launch prep.

  • Stay on top of my summer class stuff (that runs from the beginning to the middle of August)
  • Set up the Blackboards for my fall classes (*quiet sobbing because I hate doing it*)
  • Edit the majority of The Reanimator’s Heart
  • Continue working on the newsletter freebie story
  • More graphics for TRH
  • Set up Google form for ARC copies of TRH
  • Read 8 books

Books

My goal was to read 8 books in August, and I read 10 books.

  1. Cafe con Lychee by Emery Lee- 4 stars, two teens who don’t get along band together to save their parents’ businesses
  2. Her Unexpected Roommate (#5) by Jackie Lau- 4 stars, absolutely loved these two, high anxiety MC meets human golden retriever MC is always a good combo
  3. Empty Smiles (#4) by Katherine Arden- 4 stars, a decent wrap up of this MG horror series
  4. The City of Brass (#1) by S. A. Chakraborty- 5 stars, I finished reading it and sat back like wtf and immediately looked for the sequel on my shelf
  5. Second Spear (#2) by Kerstin Hall- 4 stars, such good world-building in this book. A creepy world with a maze and a Cheshire Cat grin, yes please
  6. Fence: Rise (#5) by C.S. Pacat and Joanna the Mad- 4 stars, another bridge volume but I liked seeing the two MCs getting closer (though this is the slowest of burns ever)
  7. The Governess Affair (#0.5) by Courtney Milan- 4 stars, a vengeful accountant/”fixer” bringing down a duke because he hurt the woman he’s falling for is chef kiss
  8. The Duchess War (#1) by Courtney Milan- 4 stars, a historical romance between a duke trying to level the playing field for society by destroying the upper class from the inside out
  9. Saga (#7) by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples- 5 stars, reading in preparation for volume 10 coming out in October
  10. A Kiss for Midwinter (#1.5) by Courtney Milan- 4 stars, the ending sort of saved this book for me as I found the dynamic of the two MCs grating at times

Admin/Behind-the-scenes Author Stuff

  • Did round 1 of edits on The Reanimator’s Heart
  • Did round 2 of [micro] edits on The Reanimator’s Heart
  • Sent out ARCs of The Reanimator’s Heart to reviewers and peers
  • Incorporated beta reader feedback
  • Proof-read The Reanimator’s Heart and did all those edits (*laugh sob* should have done that BEFORE sending ARCs out)
  • Asked a few people to potentially blurb The Reanimator’s Heart
  • Formatted the paperback and ordered a proof copy, which looks awesome
  • Formatted the Kindle/Epub editions of the book (final, hopefully)
  • Set up all my pre-fall semester stuff for my classes (syllabi and Blackboard accounts- also realized I could clone Blackboards from previous semester, so yay time savings)
  • Taught my 3 week summer class and survived, lol
  • Made multiple book graphics

Blogs Posted


Writing

So there isn’t much to talk about here since I finished The Reanimator’s Heart in July. What I did do is plot part of my newsletter freebie “Flowers and Flourishing,” which I hope will not grow into a giant novel. *whispers* Please stay a novella or smaller; I am begging you.

This will follow characters you’ll meet in The Reanimator’s Heart but follows the format of Kinship and Kindness by being a queer romance featuring a shifter and a trans character, so it’s a sort of bridge between both series as they both involve the NYC Paranormal Society. In this case, it’s F/F romance with a lesbian jaguar shifter and a bi trans woman. The former is in a lavender marriage with one of the main characters in The Reanimator’s Heart.

PS- you can preorder The Reanimator’s Heart here.


Hopes for September

  • Maintain my mental health and a decent work-life balance while grading/teaching
  • Make my goals for quarter 4
  • Writing goal of 10k/12k/14k of “Flowers and Flourishing”
  • Deal with any last minute book BS that comes up for The Reanimator’s Heart
  • Blog weekly and put out my monthly newsletter
  • Maybe make another book trailer/Tiktok for The Reanimator’s Heart
  • Read 8 books