Tag Archives: short story

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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Release Day and Sale

IMD Sale

To celebrate the release of The Earl and the Artificer (IMD #3), the entire Ingenious Mechanical Devices series is on sale this weekend! On Saturday, January 30th and Sunday, January 31st, you will be able to get the entire series for under a cup of Starbucks.

You can find the books here:

The Earl of Brass (IMD#1): FREE

The Winter Garden (IMD#20): $0.99

“An Oxford Holiday” (short story): FREE

The Earl and the Artificer (IMD#3):$0.99

 

**The prices above are only guaranteed for Amazon US. I’m not 100% sure if the sales will appear on all markets, so please check before you click buy**

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Apology Freebie

An Oxford Holiday cover

I know I have been totally neglecting this blog for the past few weeks, but it’s for a good reason. My best friend is here visiting from the UK, and I’m trying to spend as much time with her having fun before she goes back.

Anyway, to maybe make up for my absence, I have made “An Oxford Holiday,” which is a romantic Adam and Immanuel short story free today and tomorrow. You can find it by clicking here.

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Happy Accidents

I did a thing. It was a semi dumb thing and I’m not sure why I did it.

As you may or may not know, my third book, The Earl and the Artificer, is also my MFA thesis project, so I have an advisor who is supposed to look at it and give me feedback along with a class who does the same. Thus far, my thesis advisor has been very lenient with me. Some demand at least a chapter a week or put their students on a strict schedule, but he’s pretty much let me do what I want since he knows I’ll get it done.

Well, I knew he would need to see something before the end of the semester, something substantial, in order to give me a grade. Originally, I told him I would hand in the finished piece (unedited) by mid-October. At the time, it sounded like a good idea. I’d have all the time in the world. I’m only taking two classes, so how much work could I have? A lot, that’s how much.

This is when I did something dumb. Part of my job in the English department is to create a newsletter, so I spend a bit of time emailing professors, harassing them until they tell me what they’ve published this semester or what events they’re holding. While emailing my advisor to ask him about his writing, I wrote, “I’ll be leaving an edited draft of the first act, which is about 80 pages in your mailbox next week.” I sent the email off without thinking much of it until about an hour later. NEXT WEEK?! Was I temporarily insane? At that point, I had only edited three out of the eleven chapters in act one. In less than five days, I would need to edit eight chapters to get them to where I was willing to show my advisor without cringing.

I immediately texted my best friend telling her of the stupid thing I had done. “But you work well under pressure!” she replied. I do, but why did I do this to myself? Why give myself added stress for no reason? If I had told him I would hand it in two weeks from then, he wouldn’t have cared and I wouldn’t have been freaking out. Then again, my best friend is coming from England in two weeks, and I would be worrying about my stupid project instead of getting ready for her arrival.

It’s strange, but it’s as if my subconscious gave me a boot in the ass. I’ve had ample time to edit my story, but I’ve been procrastinating and doing everything but writing and editing recently. Would I have had anything to hand in by the end of the month if I hadn’t accidentally cracked the whip on myself? Probably not.

Over the course of three days, I powered through chapters one to eleven, going over what I edited already and combing through the ones I hadn’t touched yet. Last night at midnight I finally finished. While I was too tired to add any new content to the story, I officially finished my edits of act one and will hand them into my advisor on Monday.

I’m somewhat proud of myself for actually getting this all done before the weekend and that on Monday I’ll be able to present my advisor with the first third of my work. After dilly-dallying for so long, it seems strange that I’ll actually be handing in part of my thesis. Luckily my mistake created this progress. Sometimes all you need is to give yourself a kick in the ass to get going.

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“An Oxford Holiday” is Out on Amazon!

Just a quick little Friday post.

An Oxford Holiday cover

My short story “An Oxford Holiday” is now out on Amazon! It is an 8,000 word short story featuring Adam and Immanuel from The Winter Garden. The story is a bit of a romance piece. I wanted to challenge myself because I don’t usually write romance-based plots, and I rarely write short stories. It is 99 cents and can be found here.

If you would like to add it to your Goodread’s to-be-read list, just click here.

Here is the blurb:

After a trying two months at Oxford dealing with miserable classmates and isolation, all Immanuel Winter wants is a peaceful weekend with Adam— two days where they could forget about the impossibilities of their future together.

But when the arrival of a radical female lawyer turns the university upside down, their holiday plans are put in jeopardy.

Will Adam and Immanuel be able to escape the horde of dons descending upon the city or will they be forced to postpone their plans and their future?

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Short Stories, Novels, and Audiobooks

“An Oxford Holiday” is now finished! If you haven’t heard, it is a companion short story for the Ingenious Mechanical Devices series and follows the events of The Winter Garden (IMD #2). It is approximately 8,000 words long. In case you are interested, here is the blurb for “An Oxford Holiday”:

After a trying two months at Oxford dealing with miserable classmates and isolation, all Immanuel Winter wants is a peaceful weekend with Adam— two days where they could forget about the impossibilities of their future together.

But when the arrival of a radical female lawyer turns the university upside down, their holiday plans are put in jeopardy.

Will Adam and Immanuel be able to escape the horde of dons descending upon the city or will they be forced to postpone their plans and their future?

Unfortunately, I cannot upload the pre-order yet because the cover is not finished, but it should be up by the end of the week. When it is, I will let everyone know. I’m hoping everyone will enjoy it. It’s a bit of romantic fluff, which is different for me, but I enjoyed writing it.


While I have been working on getting “An Oxford Holiday” ready for publication, I have also been writing The Earl and the Artificer (IMD #3). Currently it’s at 43,290 words, which means I’m about 50% into writing book three. I’m still amazed by that considering how slow the first 15,000 words came. By the end of the month, I hope to have the word count between 50-55k. I wish I could anticipate what the semester will bring, but I’m worried about my productivity dropping with the added stress and assignments. Hence why I’m trying to write as much as possible now before I go back. if you’re on the downward slope of the hill, it typically gets easier to finish even when distracted.


As my final mini update, I wanted to remind everyone that the audiobook of The Earl of Brass (IMD #1) is online now.

You can find it on iTunes, Amazon, and Audible.


If you would like to know about new releases, sales, and news, please subscribe to my newsletter to find out first.

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Audiobooks and Updates

I thought I would just check-in this week. Unfortunately, I have not thought out a coherent post for the end of this week, but I’m thinking that early next week there will be a post about being inspired by authors and how what inspires you as a reader inspires you as a writer.audiobook eob 2

So, the major highlight of my week is that The Earl of Brass is now available in audiobook! My narrator was fabulous to work with, and he will be narrating The Winter Garden and hopefully every Ingenious Mechanical Devices book after this. If you’d like to check it out, click here.

Half the reason I’m not writing much on my blog is that I am in the thick of writing book 3, The Earl and the Artificer, and hope to get as much done as possible before the semester begins. Currently, I am about 39,600 words into it, and I hope to complete it by the end of the year but hopefully sooner. According to my word count tracking spreadsheet, I’m 31% done with my word count goal of the month (15k), which is shocking to me considering it’s only August 7th (and I haven’t written yet today). The last scene I worked on hit a little too close to home and gave me a literal headache after working on. It still amazes me how much emotion is tied to creation, especially when a scene is so personal and fraught with emotional tension. I just hope I did it justice and that it will come through on the page. Luckily, the next scene involves a lot of action, so that should raise my moral a little.

I’m also nearly done with my companion short story “An Oxford Holiday”. All I need is the final scene and my cover for the ebook. Next week I should be able to post the blurb for it. It has been the magically expanding short story, going from 5k words to 6k to 7k as the target word count. It’s been a lot of fun to write, and it gives you a taste of what Adam and Immanuel will be getting into in the yet untitled book four.

As a final bit of news that isn’t very informative, I picked up these beauties on Amazon as a way to reward myself for going above and beyond my word count goal for July.laura lamI have been trying to get my hands on fantasy books that involve diversity not only in race but sexuality and gender. These two came highly recommended but were rather hard to get my hands on since the author is currently in the process of switching publishers. I cannot wait to read them.

If you would like daily updates about the progress of my third book, I will be live-tweeting my word counts and progress daily on Twitter with the hashtag #Augwritingchallenge and you can find me at @AuthorKaraJ.

So what writing or reading plans do you have for August?

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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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Project Announcement: An Ingenious Mechanical Devices Short

Hi everyone,

I have decided (now that I’m about halfway in) to announce that the first short companion story for my steampunk/historical fantasy series the Ingenious Mechanical Devices will be out by the end of the summer.

What is it?

The story will be roughly 5,000 words or so and will take place after the events of The Winter Garden (IMD #2). It will be a standalone, but obviously, it would make more sense if it was read along with the other Ingenious Mechanical Devices stories. The working title is “An Oxford Holiday,” the story revolves around Adam journeying to Oxford to visit Immanuel. Unfortunately, getting a little privacy and time together is more difficult than it seems. The story will be offered for free on all platforms when it is finished (Amazon may take a few days to catch up with the other ebook platforms).

Why do this?

It may seem odd for an author to post something so short and for free, but I’m thinking of this short story as a free sample, a bonus for being a loyal reader or an incentive for new readers to give my work a try. I also know that it will take me a while to finish writing The Earl and the Artificer, so by releasing a short story, I’ll hopefully keep my readers interested between the two books. Recently, I have been reading K. J. Charles’s A Charm of Magpies series, and one of the things I love about them is that she writes short stories to go along with her books. It’s a great little teaser between stories, and I devour them just as I do her full-length novels. It’ll just be a light, fun story, but it will hopefully add a bit to the series and give a hint as to what will happen in book four when Adam and Immanuel reappear.

Additional Information

If you get the chance, please drop by my Progress and Projects page at the menu bar. Every few days I’ll be updating my word count bars as I progress. You can also check out what I’m working on and what I’ll be tackling in the future. Stay tuned for more info about my projects, and hopefully in the coming weeks, I’ll have a date for the release of “An Oxford Holiday.”


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