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July 2016 in Review

In Review July

Last year, I decided that I would post my accomplishments for the month and what goals I hope to achieve in the following month.

In July, I found that while I got a lot done on Dead Magic, every other goal I had made in June suffered.

What I accomplished in July:

  1. Wrote 22,000 words of Dead Magic (total 82k)
  2. Wrote 3,500 words of “The Errant Earl”
  3. Wrote the “final” blurbs for DM and “EE”
  4. Read 2 books:
    1. Monstress by Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda (4.5 stars)
    2. How to Write a Sizzling Synopsis by Bryan Cohen (5 stars)
    3. I also have 3 other books partially read that I’ll finish next month
  5. Published the Italian translation of The Earl of Brass (not yet on Amazon)

What I hope to achieve in August:

  1. Finish writing Dead Magic
  2. Start editing Dead Magic
  3. Finish, edit, and publish “The Errant Earl”
  4. Write 6 blog posts
  5. Publish the Spanish translation of The Winter Garden
  6. Read 4 books

I can’t believe I’m nearly done with Dead Magic. I have less than 10k words left to write, and then, it’s onward to editing. It’s always amazing to me how quickly the words come once I’ve gotten past the middle of the book. Now, if only I could have monthly word counts this high from the start.

Later this week, I’ll share the final blurbs for Dead Magic and “The Errant Earl” along with the covers for both. I’m so excited to be fleshing out bits of the series and finally finishing up Dead Magic. I think DM is one of my favorites thus far. It’s dark and creepy, but beneath it all is an undercurrent of love that balances it out. “The Errant Earl” is a short story with some backstory about how Eilian and Patrick became the dynamic duo bromance they are now.

The downside to writing so much is that everything else suffers. I don’t read much, I don’t write blogs, and every other outside activity takes a backseat. Since I’ll be finishing both projects within the next two weeks (hopefully), I’ll be able to read again and actually enjoy life a little before I throw myself into editing.

I keep thinking about how being an indie author really is the best course of action I could have taken.I love being able to publish what I want, when I want in whatever genre I want. If I wasn’t indie, could I be writing side stories for my readers and working on semi-related novellas? I don’t know, but I know that where I am right now is a good place for me.

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June 2016 in Review

In Review June

Last year, I decided that I would post my accomplishments for the month and what goals I hope to achieve in the following month.

Now that I’m completely free from school and waist-deep in Dead Magic, I have been writing my little fingers off and being shockingly productive. Part of me is pleased and part of me is wondering when it will all come crashing to a halt.

What I accomplished in June:

  1. Wrote 21,000 words of Dead Magic
  2. Wrote 6 blog posts and a guest blog on Mariella Hunt’s website
  3. Published a Spanish translation of The Earl of Brass entitled El Conde de Latón, which is available here.
  4. Published the audiobook for The Winter Garden, which is available here.
  5. Planned out the beats for a forthcoming Ingenious Mechanical Devices novella
  6. Read 4 books
    1. Magic Bitter, Magic Sweet by Charlie N. Holmberg (2 stars)
    2. Ninety-Nine Righteous Men by K.M. Claude (4.5 stars)
    3. Fiction Unboxed by Sean Platt and Johnny B. Truant (4 stars)
    4. Nimona by Noelle Stevenson (5 stars)

What I hope to achieve in July:

  1. Write 20,ooo words of Dead Magic
  2. Write 10,000 words of the unnamed novella
  3. Write 6 blog posts
  4. Work more on my syllabus for freshman writing
  5. Work on the cover for Dead Magic with my designer
  6. Read 3 books
  7. Enjoy life in between everything mentioned above

I love watching my word count steadily increase from month to month. June was wonderful in terms of productivity. I feel like I got so much done and that the rest of Dead Magic should go smoothly now that I’ve hit the 2/3s mark.

There are quite a few balls in the air with my series. I have my Spanish translator working on The Winter Garden, my Italian and Portuguese translators working on The Earl of Brass, and my narrator is working on the audiobook for The Earl and the Artificer. Then I have Dead Magic to start wrapping up soon and the novella I’ve been plotting. I’m confident it will all get done, and that I can manage.

I’m seriously excited about my writing projects. Ideas are bubbling out of me, and now if only my productivity could keep up with my ideas. The one thing that was completely neglected in June was editing. I told myself I would edit chapters 1-8, but in the end, I decided to dump that idea. I’ve been spot editing as I go, fixing issues that arise or adding foreshadowing of future chapters, but at this point, editing without being finished or having a clear goal in mind seems pointless.

Right now, my tentative release date for Dead Magic is November 15th, BUT if the book is done before then, I will happily move the date forward. I’m really hoping the book will be out sooner than that.

Finally, I will be taking part in Camp NaNoWriMo and am sharing a cabin with some fantastic authors. What will you be doing this July?

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July in Review

Starting in January, I decided it would be a good idea to look back at each month and see what I have accomplished in my writing and marketing as well as reflect upon what needs to be improved in the future.

July was an oddly productive month. I’m still trying to wrap my head around how this happened, but I think a good part of it is that I participated in Camp NaNoWriMo, which forced me to be disciplined about my writing routine, and that I made sure to replenish my writing mojo by feeding my creativity with outings and good books.

What I did accomplish:

  1. Wrote 20,000 words of The Earl and the Artificer (The Ingenious Mechanical Devices #3), which equates to about 5 chapters
  2. Met my Camp NaNoWriMo word count goal + 5,000 words
  3. Read Cold Magic (The Spiritwalker Trilogy, #1) by Kate Elliott and Indie Author Survival Guide by Susan Kaye Quinn
  4. Finished proofing the audiobook for The Earl of Brass (IMD #1)
  5. Got the ball rolling on the audiobook for The Winter Garden (IMD #2)
  6. Fixed/”finalized” blurb for The Earl and the Artificer
  7. Balanced writing, fun, and life better

Goals for August:

  1. Write 15,000 words of The Earl and the Artificer
  2. Finish and send “An Oxford Holiday” to my beta readers
  3. Read 2-3 books
  4. Build up my daily word count and work on a plan for when grad school classes start again
  5. Continue to strive to write instead of striving for perfection

For once, I went above and beyond with my goals this month. Usually I find myself groaning when I reread my goals from the previous month because I’ve missed the mark on around half of them. In July, I exceeded my word count goal by 5,000 words, finished my audiobook (which should be available in a week or two), and was still able to read on the side. The Earl and the Artificer is finally cruising along and coming into its own (FINALLY). Seriously, this book was dragging so badly for a while, and it was all me. I needed to get my ducks in a row and really figure out where the story was going. By digging in and plowing through to meet my word count, there was no time to “get stuck” or make excuses as to why I wasn’t writing. Instead of taking a day or two to figure things I out, I consulted the color-coded outline I made and kept on going. One of the things that I think helped a lot was downloading one of these word count tracking spreadsheets. All you do is add the amount of words you wrote that day, and it takes it out of the your monthly or yearly goals. It’s a hundred times better than anything I could have made.

The downside to being so productive with book 3 is that I totally put “An Oxford Holiday” to the side. I’m still about 80% through it, but I need to take a day or two and wrap it before I give it a quick edit and send it off to the beta readers. It will be done by the end of August, but obviously the larger project takes precedence. I also need to convince my cover artist to make me a simplified cover for “An Oxford Holiday”.

This month I turned twenty-four, and I’m incredibly amazed by what I’ve done in the past year. Last year around this time, I had just published my first book and had no idea what I was doing. Now, I feel much more confident in my abilities, and I have two books out and four poems published in different literary magazines. Hopefully by the time I’m twenty-five, I’ll have at least three books out and a few short stories. It still amazes me how far I’ve come in a short space of time and how much I’ve learned. During the month, I hope to read Susan Kaye Quinn’s For Love or Money to add to my knowledge of author entrepreneurship.

While I’m looking forward to August and what I will hopefully accomplish, I know I have lost certain things to my goals. The main thing is cutting back on blog posts, but I’m pretty okay with that. People seem to be responding to my update posts as well as they did my other ones.

To wrap up, I have two posts to make note of:

I’m running a Goodreads giveaway of 2 paperbacks of The Earl of Brass and I did a guest post for the lovely Kate M. Colby about creating realistic characters.


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Word Counts, “Winning”, and Giveaways

nanowrimo

According to the Camp Nanowrimo website, I “won” last night, which means I completed my goal of writing 15,000 words in a month. At 11:30 last night when I reached my goal, I was beyond thrilled. I literally doubled the length of my manuscript in less than a month. I know for some writers 15,000 words is a small word count total for a month, but for me, it had taken nearly four months to reach 15,000 words the first time (my classwork and lack of mojo are what I blame for this weird writing slump). The writing slump and lack of creative productivity drove me crazy, and when I started Camp Nanowrimo, I was expecting to once again ditch my goals like I did in April.

What surprised me about this experience was how seeing the bar grow and my daily word count goal be met day after day made it that much easier to write. Before this month, I tended to be a feast or famine writer. I would sit down at the keyboard and either write half a chapter or write nothing at all. During July, I found myself writing each night without fail at about the same time. I think this consistency is what led to my “success” with this experiment. They say it takes about two weeks to a month to form a habit, and I can say that by about the third week, my brain seemed to automatically engage around 10 PM to tell me, “Okay, let’s get this writing show on the road.” It happened whether I was tired or wide-awake, and from 10 PM to midnight (sometimes later if the words were flowing), I would type away. To start, I would edit what I wrote the previous night, but after one or two passes, I would get cracking. This seemed to work because by doing some minor editing/adding, I became reacquainted with my work and satisfied my need to edit at the same time. Next month, I hope to hit 45,000 words (aka write 15,000 words).

earl of brassWhy is there a random picture of a cover of The Earl of Brass you may ask? Because I am doing a giveaway of two paperbacks on Goodreads. You can find it here.

May the odds be in your favor. If you’re willing, I hope you will share my Goodreads giveaway with any friends you think may be interested.

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Books, Birthdays, and Word Counts

So Saturday was my birthday, and that means an outing of my choice with my family, cake, and way more food than our guests could eat. Most of my family came over, and while my beloved dog was beside himself with so many people over, we all seemed to have a good time. This also means… BOOKS! GLORIOUS BOOKS!

birthday booksI am pitifully excited about this, and the lit-related clothes and goodies I got too. Currently, I am reading Cold Fire, but I cannot wait to get through everything else. Of course, I cannot wait to color as well. I’m dying to color. Also, one of my friends, who is a fabulous artist (look her up on Deviant Art or Facebook at Fi-Di or Fiammetta De Innocentis) drew a picture of Hadley from The Earl of Brass and sent it to me on my birthday. I was beyond surprised and could not stop showing it off because I was thrilled to get more art of my characters.

Hadley by Fiammetta De Innocentis

Shockingly, through all of the festivities, I have been writing. This may not be shocking to others, but for me, I haven’t always been the most consistent author in terms of writing. One of the things I am trying to achieve this month is getting into a schedule and having some discipline. This week I also hit the 10,000 word mark for my writing goal, which means The Earl and the Artificer is now over 25,000 words, and it should be between 30,000 and 35,000 words by the end of the month.

nanowrimoSucceeding with Camp Nanowrimo has made me see that I am a goal-oriented person, and I really ought to use that to my advantage. I have decided to give myself a word count goal each month that I should be able to meet. Keep in mind that these are modest for a reason. When I don’t hit the goal, I tend to get discouraged and abandon the idea. If I set myself modest goals at first, I can build my confidence in the process and eventually stretch my goals out progressively. These are the goals I have decided to set for the rest of the year:

Jul 30,000 (15K) [484/day]
Aug 45,000 (15k) [484/day]
Sep 55,000 (10K) [334/day]
Oct 65,000 (10K) [323/day]
Nov 75,000 (10k) [334/day]
Dec 85,000 (10k) [323/day]

More than likely, I will probably exceed these goals each month (hopefully), but it gets hard during the semester when I have school work, textbooks to read, my graduate assistantship on top of my writing. Overall, these goals seem more than manageable. What I hope to do is finish The Earl and the Artificer by January 1st, and have it edited and ready to go by March. If I can get it out earlier than that, I will be thrilled, but I don’t want to push it too far yet. I’m hoping that with a steady-stream of inspiration with my reading material and encouragement from my fellow readers and writers, I will be able to push through and get it done.

I hope you are all having a good July, and I will check-in again soon. Until next time, Awkward Authoress out.

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Camp Nanowrimo

This year I have decided to participate in Camp Nanowrimo. If you have never heard of it, Nanowrimo is short for national novel writing month. Normally, Nanorwrimo takes place in the fall, and the goal is to finish 50,000 words in a month. Camp Nanowrimo differs in that you only set a goal of however many pages you want to write. In my case, it’s 15,000 words, which means to meets to meet that goal, I have to write about 500 words a day.

Typically, I don’t do Nanowrimo. When I first heard the premise of it a few years ago, I scoffed at it. My friend, who was taking a full load of university classes at the time, was on the brink of tears daily because she couldn’t juggle all of her coursework and writing about 1,667 words a day. It didn’t seem like it was worth the stress. In the spring, I was invited by my fellow writer friend Kate M. Colby to participate in the first session of Camp Nanowrimo. Still dubious about the idea, I joined and gave myself a goal of 15,000 words. Unfortunately, it was April, which is the big crunch before final papers and projects were due. I updated exactly once the entire month. It was demoralizing to say the least to watch the number you needed per day to meet your goal grow while you can only type out a hundred words or so a day while writing a twenty page essay. Too bad the paper didn’t count toward my Nanowrimo goal.

Once again, Kate invited me to be part of her cabin for July Nanowrimo. At first, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to do it again. I had been having writers block on and off with The Earl and the Artificer and wasn’t really getting anyway. My anxiety was rising because I need to turn it in to my professor/advisor at some point since it’s my thesis project. Did I really want to add stress by tacking on a daily word count? Hesitantly, I agreed. The worst I could do was not write and drag the cabin’s word count down (sorry, cabin mates).

I am so happy I did. In my last post (June in Review), I mentioned that one of my goals for July is to stop focusing on perfection and focus on writing. My perfectionist tendencies were holding me back and paralyzing my writing. With my Camp Nanowrimo writing, I know I need to write about 500 words per day to meet my goal. In the big scheme of things, 500 words isn’t that much and comes out to maybe half a page to a page, depending on whether the scene is dialogue-heavy. Thus far, I have written 2,035 words in the past 3 days, and while that isn’t much for some writers, it’s probably more than I have written for that book in two weeks.

Why does it work? I’m not a hundred percent sure. Part of it, I think, is that there are other writers in your cabin doing the same thing. You aren’t all going for the same goal, but you’re all writing. There’s a message board where you can post or ask for help or congratulate someone else on doing well with their goals. It’s a bit of synergy even if you aren’t close by. Everyone sets a goal that is specific to them, so there isn’t any peer pressure to write 60,000 words in a month. It’s relaxing, and because I don’t have any classes or pressing work, I can leisurely write and update my progress without worrying when I’m going to squeeze it in. One of the things I have noticed while working toward my Camp Nanowrimo goal is that I do my most productive writing from 11 PM to 1:30 AM. I think it’s easier to focus once everyone else (including the dogs) has gone to bed, and at that point, I’m a little tired and am not as uptight about my work. The next day, I do a little tinkering before I work again on my next session.

Are you participating in Camp Nanowrimo or any writing retreats this summer?


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June in Review

Starting in January, I decided it would be a good idea to look back at each month and see what I have accomplished in my writing and marketing as well as reflect upon what needs to be improved in the future.

Sometimes it’s hard to be upbeat when you feel that you haven’t quite met your goals from the previous month. I don’t think I did as much writing of The Earl and the Artificer (Ingenious Mechanical Devices #3), but I’m okay with that because I did a lot more writing and tinkering with my short story “An Oxford Holiday,” which I am enjoying immensely. Now to get down to business:

What I did accomplish:

  1. Wrote and edited two chapters of The Earl and the Artificer (IMD #3)
  2. Wrote the majority of my companion short story “An Oxford Holiday”
  3. Finished reading Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell (if you have seen the thickness of this book, you’ll know why it’s an accomplishment)
  4. Got out of the house more
  5. Wrote or edited more days than I didn’t
  6. Uploaded The Earl of Brass and The Winter Garden on iBooks, Nook, Kobo, Oyster, and other ebook platforms

Goals for July:

  1. Finish “An Oxford Holiday” and ready it for publication
  2. Plan and write more of The Earl and the Artificer
  3. Blog more
  4. Read 2-3 books
  5. Stop making goals by the number (apart from reading goals)
  6. Strive to write instead of striving for perfection

One of the things I have learned this month is that setting numerical goals drives me crazy. I had writers block for a good chunk of the month, and the longer it lasted, the more I focused on my previous goal of writing four chapters of my novel. Of course, the more I focused, the more I froze. To loosen up and break the block, I decided to work on a short story that was knocking on my brain and would come between books two and three. As soon as I began working on it, the words flew onto the page, and I was writing double what I wrote on my most productive day earlier in June. Immediately I began to wonder why “An Oxford Holiday” was taking shape so much faster than The Earl and the Artificer. Some obvious answers are length and complexity– since it’s a short story, both are a lot simpler than a novel. Was it the characters? While I love working with Adam and Immanuel, it shouldn’t make the story that much easier to write. The big difference between working on my for-fun short story and my novel was fun. Ever since I sent in my thesis proposal, I have been so hard on myself about The Earl and the Artificer, and it is sucking the fun out of the writing process. I’m constantly catching myself over-thinking scenes or freezing up because I’m worrying that it isn’t perfect. This is why my fifth and sixth goal are there. I need to stop over-thinking and making numerical goals because it’s apparent that I get fixated on them. After bouncing back and forth between my short story and the EatA without any pressure, I suddenly banged out a chapter in like two days.

The upside of June was that I had a great time and actually got out of the house. On the 20th, my boyfriend and I celebrated our tenth anniversary. We went down to a lovely waterfront town not far from our house, pigged out on pub food, French desserts, and sea air. It was wonderful. The same week my mom and I had a girl’s day, so I enjoyed spending an entire day with my mom and also made an impromptu stop at the bookstore. For once I actually spent time out of the house, and it seemed to revive my mood, especially after an incredibly stagnant first half of the month. Because of this slump, I may have bought a few too many books. Can you really have too many books? And I didn’t drain my bank account, so all is well.

book pile juneI am so looking forward to finishing “An Oxford Holiday” in the coming weeks. It’s a short story that falls between books two and three, which I will be offering for free on all ebook platforms when it’s finished. The basic idea of the story is that Adam goes to visit Immanuel in Oxford as promised, but they soon realize that finding a place to spend time and speak freely is easier said than done. A bit of information will also be revealed regarding Immanuel’s life at Oxford and what his future with Adam holds. It’s just a little tidbit to hold my readers over between books, but I am greatly enjoying writing it. Hopefully you will enjoy it too.

One of the best things to happen this month is of course the supreme court ruling that gay marriage is legal in all fifty states. Living in New Jersey, I have taken it for granted, but I am so excited my southern or mid-western friends who thought having marriage equality in their state would be a pipe dream. As a supporter of gay rights, it made my day. The funny thing is, I bought this shirt in May and it finally arrived in mid-June. It says “I support LGBT lit” on the front and “Because everyone deserves to see themselves in fiction” on the back.

lgbt shirtMy hope for July is that I can finally put aside my perfectionist tendencies and be consistently productive or at least more productive than I have been. I think having a few chapters go smoothly will boost my confidence and hopefully produce more success in the future.

What are your goals for July?


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