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Book Review: The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

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Title: The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle Book #1) by Maggie Stiefvater

Genre: Paranormal adventure

Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

**Spoilers in this review should be minimal**

TL;DR: I LOVED this book. If you like well-rounded characters, an atmospheric setting, and a paranormal streak that crosses the globe, this book is for you.

Oh my god. I devoured the second half of this book, and immediately, dug out the second book, The Dream Thieves.

The Raven Boys centers around four boys in Henrietta, Virginia, who attend the local private school, Aglionby Academy, and their new friend, Blue, who is the daughter of a psych. Gansey, Adam, Ronan, Noah, and Blue become entangled with Henrietta’s local history and paranormal legacy as they search for ley lines, lines of energy that crisscross the globe, connecting sites of historical and magical importance. Gansey is searching for one thing, the resting place of the legendary Welsh king Glendower. Legend says that if you wake the kind, he will grant you favor, and Gansey knows a few people who could use some favor. Blue has always been mildly envious of her mother and her friends’ psychic abilities, but Blue has an ability of her own, amplifying energy, and she may be the key to helping the Raven Boys find Glendower.

What I loved about The Raven Boys was the characterizations, not just of the characters but of the setting as a whole. Everything, from the Virginia landscape to Gansey’s dilapidated car, has a soul, and these characterizations add a whole new level of detail and beauty to Stiefvater’s story. The settings are atmospheric and lend themselves to firmly integrating yourself within the book. Even the magical elements later in the book fall perfectly into the realm of reality because they are so believable and so in tune with the rest of the world.

Maggie Stiefvater’s characters shine brightly in a novel where they could easily be lost or flattened beneath the heavy mythos and mystery of the story. Each of the Raven Boys is very distinct, each with their own flaws, complexities, and reasons to love them. We have Gansey the driven adventure-seeker who wants nothing more than to search the earth to find Glendower. His life is complicated by trying to manage his wayward friends, Ronan and Adam, and not insult people by simply being Richard Gansey III (can you smell the old money?). Adam is a scholarship boy from a bad home. He tries to be all things, a research companion to Gansey, an independent man, an A student, but he flounders under the weight of his violent home life in the local trailer park. Ronan is the opposite of Adam, a fighter, a trouble-maker, a boy with all the money in the world and nearly nothing that makes him happy. Noah, is… well, he’s Noah. Then, there’s Blue. She’s a sensible free-spirit who wears homemade clothes and was born with the ability to amplify the energy of those around her, which is infinitely useful when you live with a bunch of psychics.

The story itself is a wonderfully complex paranormal mystery that spans four books. We begin the story at a graveyard that sits on a ley line on the one night of the year when psychics can see those who will die that year march toward the otherworld. From there, we discover how the ley lines connect with the mysterious Welsh king, Glendower, and the mysteries surrounding Henrietta. Despite all of the pieces that make up the mystery, Stiefvater makes it easy to digest and quickly draws the reader in to make them as obsessed with discovering Glendower as Gansey. It’s as intricate as The DaVinci Code but with a hundred times better characterization and atmosphere.

Am I looking forward to the second book? Hell, yes. The book may be labeled as young adult but the only thing juvenile about it is the age of the main characters. The Raven Boys is a story rich with history and texture with characters as complex as any book taught in a college classroom.

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February 2016 in Review

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

February has not been a great month for me. My mom spent part of the month in the hospital, which completely derailed anything I planned to do, but the good thing is that my mom is better now and home. March will be better.

What I accomplished in February:

  1. Read 3 books, 2 of which were for class, and dealt with my schoolwork (Confessions by Jean Jacques Rousseau, The Curious Tale of Gabrielle by Zachary Chopchinski, and The Story of My Life by Helen Keller)
  2. Worked on the university’s English Department newsletter (it’s about 60% done and is one of my major tasks for the semester)
  3. Scheduled a promo for later in the month
  4. Wrote a bit of Dead Magic (IMD #4)
  5. Started offering editing services

What I hope to achieve in March:

  1. Write more of Dead Magic
  2. Find the balance between work and writing
  3. Read at least 3 books
  4. Blog more
  5. Begin offering formatting services in edition to editing
February Book Haul

February book haul.

February was a strange month for me. I began working on one project only to abandon it for book 4 of the Ingenious Mechanical Devices, which will be titled Dead Magic. I’m going to refer to February as a transitional month. It’s been a lot of getting accustomed to grad school starting again, which totally throws off my groove, and at the same time, I’ve been switching projects (twice technically since I went from book 3 to random project to book 4). Later in the month, my mom was sick and in the hospital for nearly a week. Luckily she got there in time, and they were able to properly treat the issue. Now, she’s home and back to work. My mom is my best friend, so having her in the hospital meant being in a constant state of anxiety until her procedures were done. All is well now, and March will be a better month.

As you can see at the top of the page, I am now offering editing services. I’ve done developmental editing for the whole of my time as an MFA student, and through my own work and working with other authors, I’ve done some editing for them as well (I will make a post about this later). This month, I plan to look into offering ebook and paperback formatting services. I do it for my own books, so I could easily do layouts for others.

So Dead Magic is coming along slowly. I haven’t written much yet because I’m still figuring out the path the story will take, but as I figure that out, I’ll post more about it. At this point, I’m not making any writing goals for March because I’m still in the planning stage. I don’t know how long that will take, but trying to crank out 10,000 words that won’t work isn’t worth the effort at the moment. I am looking forward to writing Dead Magic, especially since some of my fav characters are back.

Well, that’s probably all I have to say about February and March, but onward to better things! What are your plans for March?

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Book Review: The Curious Tale of Gabrielle

**The Curious Tale of Gabrielle by Zachary Paul Chopchinski was given to me for free in exchange for an honest review.**

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The Curious Tale of Gabrielle follows a young girl on her birthday as she is thrust into a mysterious world of time-travel and disorientation. Gabrielle is still mourning the death of her father the day of her thirteenth birthday when she ventures into town with a piece of his silver, bent on returning with a gift from a mysterious shop in town. Upon entering the shop, she finds herself in a cabinet of curiosities with a strange bracelet and even stranger woman, Alexandra, at the heart of it. Alexandra is a kindly old woman who instantly takes to Gabrielle and invites her to spend the afternoon with her in her collection of objects, all of which have a story to tell. Soon, Gabrielle finds the objects there are not what they seem and neither is the world she lives in. Will she make through her adventures in one piece? What does Alexandra and the bracelet have to do with the strange happenings?

Where to begin? The Curious Tale of Gabrielle is filled with swashbuckling action and mystery. I don’t want to give too much away, but Gabrielle soon finds herself thrust into the chaos of battle, and if you like Medieval-fantasy, this is definitely for you. I loved the shifting magic of Alexandra’s cabinet of curiosities and how Chopchinski dealt with her character and arc. Alexandra is a bright spot in the novel. All at once mentor, conspirator, and grandmother. She thrusts young Gabrielle into the mystery but not without first setting her down for some tea, cookies, and advice.

What tripped me up while reading the story was simply overwriting. Chopchinski often repeats himself while creating long descriptions or traveling into Gabrielle’s thoughts. At times, I found myself skimming because his ruminations and repetitions were causing the tension to sag. In contrast to the overwriting, important areas of development were glossed over. During the Medieval time-traveling section, I felt lost due to a lack of detail. Characters edged toward caricatures without solid characterizations to make them more rounded and the background often felt more high-fantasy than historical.

Overall, The Curious Tale of Gabrielle was very unique story that combines history with time-travel, tragedy, and adolescent self-discovery. If you want an adventure, Chopchinski’s story is a great place to find it. To purchase The Curious Tale of Gabrielle, click right here.


The Curious Tale of Gabrielle by Zachary Paul Chopchinski

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A young Gabrielle is driven by her will to explore and see new things. She cannot stop or rest until all within her reach has been experienced and explored. Driven by an astounding will and lack of common fear, she finds herself able to face things most adults might fall before. Yet has there been a journey that has been meant specifically for her all along? Is there a path that has been created just for her to travel?

Follow Gabrielle as she ventures through the lives of many with the experience of only her own. What will happen as she discovers the lives—and tragedies—of the souls who choose her to see their story? It’s a journey through history, life, and love unlike anything that could be imagined—except perhaps by a young girl.

Amazon link.


Zachary Paul Chopchinski

Zachary is 27 and lives in Florida with his lovely wife, Layla. The two of them share a home with their 4 fur-children.

Zachary received an Associates degree in Criminal Justice and a Bachelor’s degree in Criminology from the University of Southern Maine. Zachary had two short stories published by Ohio State University when he was in elementary school, and a poem published when he was in high school. Zachary has always had two passions in his life, criminal justice and writing. After spending nearly 5 years working in security, Zachary decided it was time to give his other passion a chance.

Zachary is very much a family man and when he is not deep in writing, he can be found spending time with his family, playing video games or contemplating his next story idea.

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January in Review

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

So January was actually a pretty good month for me.

What I accomplished in January:

  1. Released The Earl and the Artificer (IMD #3)
  2. Ran a promotion on The Earl of Brass (IMD #1) and the rest of the series and moved over 1,300 copies
  3. Read 3 books and a novella, along with school work (Hoarfrost and Maelstrom by Jordan L. Hawk and A Seditious Affair and A Queer Trade by K. J. Charles)
  4. Began my last semester of grad school
  5. Started brainstorming my next project

What I hope to achieve in February:

  1. Write at least 10,000 words of my new project
  2. Read 3 books
  3. Write blogs more consistently
  4. Keep marketing my books
  5. Try not to lapse into the anxiety loop

January Book Haul

Well, I fell off the New Year’s revolution wagon. Big surprise. One of my resolutions was to buy less books and read the ones I have. Well, I’ve been reading the ones I have, but I may have added another foot to the to-be-read pile. Behold, the January book haul! I am really looking forward to reading these books. Many of them have been on my list for months and now I can finally start reading them.

In January, most of my energy was focused on finishing up and launching The Earl and the Artificer. Now that my third novel has been unleashed into the world, I can finally sit down and start working on my next project, which may or may not be in the series. I haven’t decided yet. There wasn’t a lot of writing done in January due to editing and prepping, but I think February will be much better for my writing now that all of my projects are out of the way.

Well, onward to February!

 

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October 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.

This month has been kind of crazy for me. Steph, my best friend who lives in the UK, came to stay with us (and is still here for a few more days), so a lot of October was spent getting her room ready, stressing, and finally enjoying her company. I’ve been having a great time and venturing to places even I haven’t gone. The downside is, this is all at the expense of my writing, but for two weeks with my best friend, I think I can make that sacrifice.

What I accomplished:

  1. Wrote 10,000 words of The Earl and the Artificer (87,000 words total)
  2. Edited the first two “acts” of The Earl and the Artificer, which is about 155 pages out of 221
  3. Read The War of Art by Steven Pressfield
  4. Finished or nearly finished a lot of my grad assistant work (department newsletter and such)
  5. Have enjoyed my time with Steph thus far and have thrown social anxiety to the wind and just had fun
  6. Made a Goodreads page for The Earl and the Artificer

Goals for November:

  1. Actually finish The Earl and the Artificer
  2. Finish editing The Earl and the Artificer and send it off to the betas
  3. Get ahead of my schoolwork to avoid end of semester stress/meltdown
  4. Read 2-3 books
  5. Finish book cover
  6. Maybe begin thinking about book 4

Yes, this is slightly late, but I’ve been having fun with my best friend and would rather be doing that than blogging. October has been a weird month for me. With Steph here, I’m much more social and am out and about, but even before that, October felt like an in-between month. I felt like I was in a holding pattern. I wanted to do things, but I didn’t know if I had the time or energy to really get involved. Writing fell to the wayside for prepping and doing schoolwork, and I’m okay with that. Usually I would be beating myself up over it, and I was at first, but I see that I needed to step away a bit.

With my writing, I’m nearly done with The Earl and the Artificer. I only have about three or so more chapters to write, and I am so ready to be done and move on to serious editing. More than anything, I want to start my prep for book four. At first, I had delusions of NaNoWriMo for November, but it’s not happening. There’s no way I can manage that right now. Plus, I need to finish book three before I throw any more projects on my plate. December may turn out to be my replacement pseudo-NaNoWriMo. I don’t need hoards of writers peer pressuring me with their daily stats to make me write; I just need time and energy. Both of which are in short supply at the moment.

So let’s discuss November. November will be my catch-up month. I plan on finishing everything this month. I need to finish writing The Earl and the Artificer, get the cover together, start doing my major editing, and hopefully send it out to my beta readers. Get shit done is basically the plan. Originally, I had hoped to publish book three in December, but it’s looking more and more like it will be January. That’s okay, but December would have been better. Thus far, I have been doing edits to tighten it up, but a few more rounds will be needed before I think about publishing it, and that takes time.

For my readers, please stay tuned for more info. I hope to have a pre-order link up in the not-so-distant future.

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September 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.

September means… GRAD SCHOOL IS BACK IN SESSION, which really means added stress, learning how to juggle again, and feeling anxious on the days when I have class. Ultimately, I was less productive than I hoped, but I still got quite a bit of writing done. I really shouldn’t complain now that I look back at the stats.

What I did accomplish:

  1. Wrote 17,000 words of The Earl and the Artificer (77,000 words total)
  2. Read Pantomime by Laura Lam, Afflicted by Brandon Shire, Take Off Your Pants by Libbie Hawker, and The Cogsmith’s Daughter by Kate M. Colby
  3. Wrote every day and kept my creative reservoirs filled for the most part
  4. Survived my first month of the new semester without freaking out too much
  5. Gave away The Earl of Brass for free in record numbers

Goals for October:

  1. Finish writing The Earl and the Artificer (about 13,000-15,000 words)
  2. Begin editing The Earl and the Artificer
  3. Read 2-3 books
  4. Keep on top of my school work without too much stress
  5. Have fun while my best friend from England is staying with us (really looking forward to this one)
  6. Get the ball rolling on the cover for The Earl and the Artificer
  7. Begin outlining book 4

So I didn’t write 20,000 words, but I did write 17,000 and that’s pretty damn good for a month where I have class. At first, I was kicking myself for lower productivity level, beating myself up for not cranking out 3,000 more words this month to meet my far goal. This kind of thinking is rather self-destructive and completely counter-productive. I should be really happy that I wrote 17k in a month because usually during the school year I’m lucky if I write 5,000 words.

I still can’t believe I’m this far into The Earl and the Artificer. It’ll be out soon. SOON. I still can’t really fathom that; it doesn’t seem real. I began writing it (half-heartedly) in February and really got into it in June. So from July to September, I’ve written 62,000 words. For some writers that wouldn’t be much, but I have never written this much this fast before, and I’m pretty proud of what I’ve been able to do this year. This month I’ll be moving into the production aspects of The Earl and the Artificer with editing and cover design. It’s insane how fast it’s coming.

What shocked me this month was how much I read. I really didn’t expect to get through four books. I fluctuate between reading voraciously and not picking up a book for a week, but I enjoyed the mix of books. A dash of romance, some info on writing, and a bit of fantasy.

So the most exciting thing happening next month is that my best friend is coming from the UK to stay with us! We speak all the time on messenger, but we’ve never met. I’m hoping we’ll have time to hang out, see the sights, and enjoy our time together while she’s here. I’m super stoked. I don’t socialize very much outside of the university, so I’m hoping we can have a lot of fun. Also, I’ll finally have someone to go to the amusement park with as long as the weather holds.

Well, that’s it for now. Let’s see what October brings.

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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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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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May 2015 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.

School’s out for summer! May has been the month of sweet freedom. Unlike April, which was stressful and made me want to tear my hair out, May has been lovely. Currently, I am at home except for one day a week where I work at my office job, and now I finally have time to write and read, which means, I can hopefully get a lot of work done in preparation for the fall semester. Yes, everything revolves around grad school… and writing, which is practically the same thing when you’re working toward an MFA in creative writing. Shockingly, I think I accomplished most of the goals I set last month.

What I did accomplish:

  1. Finished my last bit of schoolwork and received good grades
  2. Continued to blog and create a monthly newsletter
  3. Wrote 2 chapters of The Earl and the Artificer
  4. Edited The Earl and the Artificer
  5. Read 3 novels, a novella, and a short story (and began Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell)
  6. Didn’t stress out at the Steampunk World’s Fair

Goals for June:

  1. Write 4 chapters of The Earl and the Artificer
  2. Work on creating a routine to be able to write every day
  3. Read every day
  4. Continue to produce content for my blog and newsletter
  5. Research marketing (possibly buy Susan Kaye Quinn’s marketing book)
  6. Get out of the house more

The last goal may seem a bit odd, but as an only child who lives at home and has the summers off for the most part, I become a hermit– a cranky, bored, semi-delusional hermit by the end of the summer. Cabin fever does not help my productivity, so this summer I am hoping to maybe get out a bit more when possible. I’m hoping that on Thursdays when my boyfriend is home from work that maybe we can go to the beach and sit and write/draw by the water. We are also celebrating our 10th anniversary in June, and while we probably aren’t doing anything that spectacular, I am still amazed that we’ve been together this long.

Anyway, getting back to goals, I only wrote two chapters this month. Part of this was due to my transitional period between school and vacation and the rest was caused by my own confusion regarding my plot. That week between the end of the semester and vacation beginning was a sort of limbo for me. My brain was still in work-mode, but I didn’t have any work to do and my story was not coming to me because I had been pushing it away for so many weeks. At that point, it felt like all I could do was read and recover from a lovely cold I developed at the same time. The other issue was my confusion regarding the plot of my current project. From writing bits and pieces over the course of a few months during the semester and never truly focusing on my book, I had no idea really where the story was going apart from the major plot points. If I don’t know where I’m going, I end up not going anywhere.

A good chunk of May was devoted to rereading The Earl and the Artificer and plotting what points I covered and what points needed to be addressed in the next few chapters (introducing certain characters and facts). As I reread it, I edited what I had, tightening the plot and beefing up some of the descriptions and scenes. I must admit that I tend to panic when the beginning of a story takes me a while to get into. Somehow I forget that I do this with every book, but when the threads of the plot are incredibly loose and not yet knitting together I worry they never will come together. I keep reminding myself that they will. I just need time and words.

Right now, I’m hoping to sit down in the next day or two and loosely plot chapters 6-10 of The Earl and the Artificer, so I can get cracking for the rest of the month. Maybe I’ll even be able to slip in a short story for the Ingenious Mechanical Devices universe or possibly for an anthology I have been looking into. One thing I have noticed with my writing is that it tends to pick up when I’m reading an inspiring book. Currently, I am reading Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, and I am loving it. It’s a huge book compared to what I usually read, but it’s moving quickly and I catch myself reading it as often as possible. Because of its size, I haven’t given myself a set number of books to read this month.

As a final note on May, I decided to run a sale where I set both books to 99 cents for a few days. I accidentally set it for Memorial Day weekend, and I’m not sure whether it was a good or bad thing because tons of authors planned sales for that weekend but it was the first official week of summer when people look for beach reading. At the same time, I ran an ad with Ereader News Today and sold quite a few copies of both books. Part of the reason I like to run sales is not necessarily to make money off of it (especially since the mark down obviously cuts my royalty) but to get my books into the hands of new readers. At 99 cents, readers are much more likely to take a chance on an unknown author, and after running the sale, I received a few more reviews and hopefully gained a few more readers along the way.


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April 2015 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.

April was a crazy month. At the university, it’s crunch time for papers and projects along with a deluge of events. I think I spent more time at the university than I ever have in my past year and a half there. With all of these extra curricular activities, I was a tad stressed out. Okay, a lot stressed out, which led to me buying quite a few books. I have no shame regarding that, but I don’t think I should have rewarded myself for not getting as much done as I hoped.

What I did accomplish:

  1. Finished reading for class and turned in portfolio
  2. 50% done with final paper (I’ve been bad about finishing this)
  3. My thesis portfolio was accepted
  4. Learned more about marketing by reading Joanna Penn’s How to Market a Book and Tim Grahl’s Your First 1000 Copies
  5. Scheduled a 99 cent sale for The Earl of Brass from May 22nd-26th
  6. The Winter Garden has 6 Amazon reviews and 7 Goodreads reviews
  7. Sent out my first newsletter

Goals for May:

  1. Write 3-4 chapters of The Earl and the Artificer
  2. Do a preliminary edit on the chapters I write
  3. Read 3-4 books at least
  4. Stay positive and work on stress (as always)
  5. Do well with my reading at the Steampunk World’s Fair
  6. Get my art commission done

I think I’m most excited about the last one. One of my favorite artists opened her commissions again, and I jumped at the chance to get one. At first, I was wait-listed, but she added more slots to allow me a few others to get in. I won’t give too many details, but it will be Adam and Immanuel from The Winter Garden. As much as I’m looking forward to (and dreading) the Steampunk World’s Fair, I am super excited about more artwork of my characters. The date and time of my reading at the Steampunk World’s Fair will come in a few days. They’re still working on the schedule.

Anyway, April has been a difficult month for me. Everything was due for class, so I quickly polished off the books I needed to read and started my papers and portfolios. This means I have only been able to write one chapter. Luckily, by the end of the first week of May I should be able to really get back into writing book three.  In my last post, I discussed how book three has been my problem child, and it really has been. For me to write, I need to figure out what story within all of my random ideas I would truly like to read. Otherwise, the book is stilted and just not fun to write. After having a discussion in the car with my boyfriend last night, I feel that I have a better handle on where it’s going. I’m sure I’ll still pester my bestie some time this weekend about it.

I know I’ve set myself a somewhat rigorous schedule for May in terms of writing, but I think with time on my hands and a plan, I can get through at least three chapters. I tend to be a slow writer because I hem and haw over every word, yet I’ve gotten through that much before in a few weeks when I was really determined. The hidden “to-do” is to figure out the rest of my major plot points and get maybe the next five chapters mapped, so I can hit the ground running when I start writing in the next few days.

Last month, I gave myself the goal of working on managing my stress. I didn’t. I was a mess this month. Part of me doesn’t want to rely on excuses, but this month was insane. It seemed like I was constantly on the go. I was definitely stressed out, so much so that I threw my body out of whack. I really don’t want that to happen in May, so I will try to take things as they come and not freak out. This is partially why I gave myself the goal of reading a few books this month. I need to take time to read something good to engage my mind and imagination and to unwind a bit. Reading always helps me focus and inspire my writing. Some books I’m hoping to get through are: The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters, A Case of Possession by K. J. Charles, Auraria by Tim Westover, and Possession by A. S. Byatt. It’s an eclectic mix, but I’m dying to get to them.

So what are your goals for April?


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