2018 Year in Review

Wow. What a year. While it’s true my plans for growing my blog readership didn’t happen which had everything to do with being overwhelmed with working to get my first book published, I’m very pleased with what I did accomplish this year. From books read, to posts written, to short stories submitted, to connections made, to articles shared, to podcasts recorded, I’ve been a busy little bee!


Photo by Alice Hampson on Unsplash

Books read from the 2018 reading list

I totally flaked out on reading all of the books I wanted to this year and again I’ll blame it on the stress of the publishing process. Finding each title, and reading it, and returning to share about it here was too much to figure out when all my time and attention was focused on staying afloat while working to make Stonebearer’s Betrayal as good as it could be. The reading I ended up doing was self-indulgent escapism in the form of Andrzej Sapkowski’s Witcher series. No regrets there. The great thing about books is the list I made for 2018 will still be there for me for 2019. Yay!

Fiction:

Bel Canto – Ann Patchett
Ready Player One – Ernest Cline
Man from Shenandoah – Marsha Ward
Heroes of the Valley – Jonathan Stroud

Non-Fiction:

Worlds of Wonder: How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy – David Gerrold
Stiff: Curious Lives of Human Cadavers – Mary Roach
Power Cues – Nick Morgan

In addition to being a stressed out slacker, I learned that it takes me far longer than it should to read non-fiction. I do much better if it’s an audiobook because I can listen while I do chores and run errands.


Photo by Aron Visuals on Unsplash

Submission Statistics!

Yes, even while I’ve been working to get Stonebearer’s Betrayal out, I’ve been submitting things to places. Although this year, it’s been largely in the name of marketing. Every little bit helps. I’ll note here that I’m not including the soul sucking numbers from seeking out reviewers, and I thought finding a publisher was hard. Yikes. Here’s the stats:

  • 47 items submitted
  • 29 response received (18 still waiting)
  • 10 resulting in positive outcome

The breakdown of those 47 items –

  • 26 presentations
  • 7 panels/roundtable discussions
  • 7 podcasts
  • 5 short stories
  • 2 misc

2018 Blog Statistics

  • 3924 visits
  • 5887 page views
  • 21 posts

Top five posts of 2018

All said, it’s been a busy and wonderful year. I’m proud of what I was able to accomplish and am looking forward to an even busier and productive 2019. To you, dear reader, I hope your 2018 was filled with wonders, challenges, and growth as well.

Here’s wishing you a fantastic and productive new year!

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In case you missed it this week:

Here’s an article I wrote about family game night over at Guild Master Gaming. Also, Mike Thayer over at the Calling all Nerds podcast and I had a great time talking about what it’s like to be authors and what inspires us.

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From Contract to Launch – The Journey to Here

I believe I’ve said it here before, but creating a book is a lot like having a baby, morning sickness and all.

Not mine, but super cute! (image attribution: Pixabay)

Over the past few weeks I’ve had several people want to hear about my journey of what it’s been like to publish a book. Last year, I wrote a post about my experience with querying and finding a publisher. Ironically, that post was immediately preceded by one talking about rejection and accepting yourself as you are, proving that this industry is indeed a roller-coaster ride of emotion.

What a year it’s been!

If my book “pregnancy” officially began the day I signed the contract, then the morning sickness set in when I started work with my editor. Women suffering from morning sickness will tell themselves it will all be worth it in the end as a way to cope with the misery. During the editing process, I kept telling myself that the nauseating discomfort of learning about all the weak parts of my book had to be a good thing as well. My editor at one point in the process may, or may not, have compared my main character to Bella Swan from Twilight. Ouch.

Editing is hard work. Each chapter, sometimes each page, takes long hours of intense focused thought to bring it to the next level. When I’ve done my own rounds of polishing and editing it’s taken months to work from cover to cover. Under contract, I’m given thirty days to complete an editing pass. Fun fact – if I spend one hour per page, editing the book would take over 300 hours. That’s THIRTY ten hour work days back-to-back with no breaks. Which is why it really wasn’t fair for my kids to be off-track during the first crucial editing pass as I transformed my main character Katira away from being a passive Bella and into a strong, capable protagonist.

Deadlines are aptly named. If you aren’t feeling half-dead with exhaustion as you slide your edited manuscript back, you probably have better time management practices in place than I do. In the first pass, we cut away almost 15,000 words of dead weight and replaced them with hundreds of small additions sprinkled through the book like salt. I learned quickly that one of my writing weaknesses (besides poor Bella) was not tagging dialogue in a way that added motion and life into a scene. After spending days of work inserting more action into my dialogue sequences, I think I’ve learned my lesson.

This process is repeated until both editor and author agree the book is as good as it can get, or can’t stand to look at it again. I’m still not sure which. Morning sickness fades into a period of waiting, preparation, and sheer terror contemplating the vastness of all that should be done. There’s waiting for the proofreader to finish, waiting for the cover artist, waiting for formatting, waiting for proofs, waiting for digital copies, waiting for early reviewers – so much waiting.

At this point self-publishing starts to look good. While I’ve loved having the support of a company to help me through this process, especially since it’s my first time, the waiting and not knowing what’s happening – or if anything is happening – can drive anyone a little nuts.

Just like a first-time mom, a first-time author (despite all their research, and best efforts, and fellow author friends who try to show them the way) experiences so much uncertainty with the whole process that the stress is unbelievable. Looking back, I could have done so much more with this waiting period to prepare for the books release, but I was naive. Now I’ve been through it I know what really needs to be done, and when I go through this again I’ll have a much better plan.

Launch day speaking to the crowd.

Launch day is literally a book’s birthday. It is pushed out into the world and is on display for all to see, warts and all. All the early teasers, quotes, articles, and efforts that happen before the launch are the same as showing people ultrasounds. As the author, I can see the cute little nose and the tiny precious fingers, and all that amazing potential inside because I’ve studied it – but to everyone else it’s just another static filled picture.

There’s no way to feel truly prepared for launch day. Some authors do hundreds of hours of prep and set up and marketing and a blog tour – the options are dizzying. Some moms fill their freezer with weeks’ worth of meals and create and fill a schedule for people to come help them.

Some don’t.

The results are the same. The book still comes, the baby is born. The family and friends that planned on supporting and helping the author still show up. Sometimes friends of friends are dragged in as well.

Unlike a baby who demands care, feeding, and endless love and attention, a book won’t demand anything and immediately starts fading into obscurity unless the author continues to push and work to keep it in the public eye.

This is where I am now. My book has entered its infancy where it still doesn’t know its place in the world. I’m working everyday, trying hard just to keep it alive until it can start building momentum on its own. Just like a real infant, the work keeps me awake at night and requires a steady stream of care and feeding for it to thrive.

It’s exhausting, but worth it.

Proud Momma and Book Baby

My family will tell you that this process has changed me. I believe it. I’m a stronger more confident person than I was before. I’ve learned how to squeeze the most out of short periods of time, and utilize every moment – especially when I’m under a deadline. These skills have transferred into home life as well. Putting off doing something I don’t like doing, like creating a meal plan, only serves to prolong stress. Get it over with. Having a messy house won’t kill me, but it doesn’t help me find peace either. It’s important to seek out ways to feel centered, even when lots of crazy is going on.

While I wrote the book because it was one of my life goals, it has helped my kids see that they can reach hard goals as well and that anything worth doing takes real work. I love hearing the pride in their voices as they tell their teachers and friends that their mom is an author.

Hopefully they don’t mind too much that this book baby might be expecting a little brother in 2020…!

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Interested in checking out my book baby? It’s a great read for fans of Wheel of Time, appropriate for ages 12 and up (although my 11-year-old loved it too!) Here’s a handy link to Amazon to learn more.

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Tabletop Gaming with Daniel Yocom

Today, I’m thrilled to bring a different flavor of entertainment here to the blog. Friend and fellow writer Daniel Yocom of Guild Master Gaming is an avid reader, community builder, and gamer. I’ve asked him to come discuss his experience with tabletop gaming and what has drawn him to it.

Gen Con Terrain board (Source: WikiCommons)

Here’s what Daniel has to say:

Why Tabletop Games

Socializing—that’s the short answer. Unless I’m involved in a really heavy strategy game, there’s a lot of socializing taking place. In other social situations it can be harder or even frowned on to talk. While playing, it’s also relatively easy to take a break from the game as an individual, or as a group. I seldom play at the level of just wanting to win. It’s about the relationships with people.

The variety of games also means there is something for every person who wants to play a game. Games, like so many other things, are divided up into types and genres. With some friends we play lighter games while with others we get into the deeper strategy games. Some prefer board games, while I have a group that has several on-going role-playing game (RPG) campaigns. There are games for small to large groups. Ones that take only a few minutes and others designed to last for hours.

The differences create mental challenges while providing entertainment. Don’t think a light game doesn’t have strategy, it does. It’s just a different style requiring players to react, think, and play differently.This also means good games can be played time after time and not be repetitive. I try something new with the next playing, just like those I game with. It gives a friendly level of competition.

Experience

I have been playing board games as long as I can remember. That’s over 50 years, and RPGs for about 40 years. I own hundreds of games, and if I combine in the group, I’m willing to bet we easily clear the thousand mark.

I have written material for games since the 1980s, which were some self-published adventures for RPGs. I left writing for some time and didn’t get back into writing about games until the new century. Then, in 2012 I started writing specifically about gaming by writing reviews and supple mental material for Guild Master Gaming and other publications and sites.

Tabletop gaming is a hobby I believe is for everyone. Even if you don’t own the game, gamers like to share their interest and their games.

Daniel Yocom

Bio

Daniel Yocom does geeky things by night because his day job won’t let him. This dates back to the 1960s through games, books, movies, and stranger things better shared in small groups. He’s written hundreds of articles about these topics for his own blog, other websites, and magazines after extensive research. His research includes attending conventions, sharing on panels and presentations, and road-tripping with his wife.

Join in the geeky fun at guildmastergaming@blogspot.comor on Google+, Facebook,and Twitter(@GuildMstrGmng).

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Hi everyone, Jodi here! First, a big thanks for Dan for coming and sharing about his experience. If you need gaming advice, he’s your man. Another thanks to you, dear reader, for showing interest and reading today’s article.

In writing news, I’ve nearly finished writing the first half of the third book in the Stonebearer’s series as part of my NaNoWriMo 2018 project (and it’s so cool!). Once I get all the story pieces finalized for the trilogy, I’ll polish off book two and get it sent in to the publisher, hopefully within the next few months. So much squee!

As for Stonebearer’s Betrayal, I’ve received some amazing compliments from friends and family about how much they’ve enjoyed the book. My favorite is from my 10-year-old niece who was so excited when she finished it she had to text me after bedtime to tell me all about her favorite parts. This is why I write.

Want to see what all the fuss is about? You can get Stonebearer’s Betrayal for free on Kindle Unlimited. It’s also available in print and e-book at all major online book retailers.

Magical Places: Mont-Saint-Michel

Castle and monastery, church and fortress, Mont-Saint-Michel in northern France has been a bit of everything over its thousand-year plus history. Which is what makes it perfect material for a post here on the blog, where I seek to find magic everyday.

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Mont-Saint-Michel at Sunset

I’ve mentioned it before, but I love ancient castles and churches. My Instagram is loaded with gorgeous pictures of them because they stir my imagination and tell so many stories.

 

I visited Mont-Saint-Michel when I was a young naive teenager. At the time, it was just another wonderful place to visit in a series of interesting places I’d been on a long trip through France. Looking back, I wished I had taken more time to soak in the history. I’m making up for that now.

The earliest history of the island extends back to the 8th century, when the island was called Mont Tombe. “Tombe” meaning grave in Latin evokes the feeling of a graveyard or a final resting place. There is a secondary, and far more fitting, translation as “mount hillock” meaning a raised place. For anyone who has visited the island, it fits this description well. From base to tip, the island rises over 260 feet out of the ocean, and all of it rocky unforgiving granite. I remember my legs burning as we trekked up the steep streets toward the monastery.

According to legend, in 708 AD Archangel Michael appeared to Aubery, bishop of Avranches, and instructed him to build a church in the Archangel’s honor. The bishop repeatedly ignored this heavenly visitor, a truly bad idea, until Saint Michael burned a hole into the bishop’s skull with his finger. The church was built October 16, 709 and devoted to Saint Michael. Mont-Saint-Michel literally means “Saint Michael Mount.”

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Saint Michael Iconography

The location of the island is unique as it historically it could only be reached during low tide and was surrounded by silty sand that was prone to becoming quicksand. This made the island easy to defend as the assailants couldn’t continue their fight for risk of drowning.

 

It was also halfway between the two power Duchies of Normandy and Brittany during the early Middle Ages, which made it the target of the two powers and through the ages it changed hands frequently. At one point it was invaded by Vikings.

Fast forward to 1204, the Breton Guy de Thouars, an ally to the King of France, tried to take the island in a siege. In the process, he accidentally set the main buildings of the monastery on fire, destroying the very same buildings he wanted to occupy. The King of France at the time, Philip Augustus, or Philip II, was horrified that a holy site was damaged in connection to him and offered funds for a major restoration and expansion which included many of the Gothic style buildings we see today.

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Courtyard with Gothic arches

Throughout the following hundreds of years the island continued to be an area of dispute. Each successive conqueror added and destroyed parts of the island’s structures until we reach the present day. For more history, there are references below.

 

Modern day Mont-Saint-Michel can be reached by a long bridge built specially to allow the flow of tidewater underneath. Thrill seekers are still allowed to approach over the sand during low tide, however there are signs everywhere warning of the dangers of quicksand.

Do you have a favorite castle or magical place? Share about it in the comments below and I might do a feature on it in the future.

References:

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Update

I swear I’m not teasing you about doing a cover reveal. It will happen, and it looks like it might be by next week’s post. This week we pinned down a few more needed pieces to create the advance review copies for distribution. If you love reading epic fantasy, and even better, love giving reviews, please send me a note!

Also, I’ll be at the Eagle Mountain Writing Conference this weekend. If you are there, come say hi!

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To Bear a Stone

For the longest time I’ve struggled with a perfection complex. If it’s not a perfect fit with what is “supposed” to be done, I get crazy anxious and most of the time end up not starting. This might explain why this novel has taken so long, and why I don’t post here as often as I should. Go figure. It’s my stone to push, which leads me  into what I’d like to talk about today.

The other reason I haven’t posted for a while is that, until recently, I haven’t figured out what my message is, or in industry speak, my brand. Thanks to the amazing and talented J.H. Moncrieff and this years Quills Conference hosted by the League of Utah Writers, I finally think I get it.

If you like noble but dark stories, beautiful Gothic architecture, interesting history tidbits, magic, and finding the best in the worst circumstances – you’re going to like it here.

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Today’s history lesson

Within the boundless reaches of Greek Mythology (Greek! – sorry, inside joke) is the story of the sinner Sisyphus who was condemned to push a boulder uphill only to watch it roll back down day after day. Sisyphus was a cunning trickster during his life. When he died, Hades came for him. Instead of going peacefully, Sisyphus “tested” his new handcuffs on him and tossed him in a closet for a couple of days. I’d be a bit peeved too.

Shenanigans ensued. No one could die because Hades had gone missing. When Sisyphus freed Hades, the cunning trickster was promptly ordered to go to the underworld for his eternal assignment. But – he had another trick up his sleeve. Through a series of bureaucratic loopholes involving a missing coin and an improper burial, Sisyphus managed to sweet talk Persephone into letting him return to his wife and set things straight – and then cheated death until Hades hauled him back to the underworld a number of years later.

For his crimes, and for royally annoying Hades, he was sentenced to to hard labor of the most frustrating kind – rolling a boulder up a hill for no good reason for eternity.

Hades gif.gifTo this day, when people have a frustrating and/or pointless job to do, the story of Sisyphus comes to mind.

What is a Stonebearer?

In the Stonebearer’s Betrayal universe there is a society formally called the Stonebearers of the Khandashii. These are the magic users. Simply put, those belonging  to this society possess a power that enables them to manipulate the world around them and grants them relative immortality. They can still be killed, but they will not die of old age or disease. The term “Stonebearer” comes from the stone they wear that enables them to use their power safely. The Khandashii is the name of the power itself – and is a brilliant topic for another post.

Having the power means enduring the responsibility of being a guardian of mankind, regardless of the prejudice and superstitions mankind have curated to hate any one who demonstrates supernatural abilities. This, paired with a centuries long life, is often more of a burden than a blessing. Like Sisyphus, to many it seems like an endless frustrating punishment.

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Discussion

What are some of the frustrating things you’ve had to do? For me, it’s got to be trying to make a bed when a toddler wants to play on top of it. Or laundry … there’s ALWAYS more laundry, it’s never done! Or … working with flaky people who don’t know how much they don’t get it.

Share your frustrations down in the comments!

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Writing Update

Stonebearer’s Betrayal is entering the final stages of production and we’re steadily getting ready for its November release. Currently we are refining the details on the cover.  I can’t tell you how excited/terrified I am to reach this point. Everything is so, so real.

Also, awesomeness has been happening over at my blog for writers. (Seriously though, go check out the suite of presentation notes I’ve been creating, they rock.)

Other publishing news – If you like dragons, I will be part of a dragon themed YA anthology coming out earlyish next year. If you’re at FanX, one of my flash fiction pieces will be read at the Immortal Works Flash Fiction Friday LIVE podcast, Friday, Sept. 7th at 6pm (255a).

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Stonebearer’s Betrayal comes out November 2018 through the amazing people at Immortal Works Press and will be available on Amazon.

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Resources:

Achievement Unlocked – Book Contract!

A little over a year ago, in November 2016, I decided it was time to find a forever home for my book baby, Stonebearer’s Betrayal, and started looking for either a publisher or an agent. Sounds easy, right? Nope. Lemme explain.

A lot of research goes into selecting the right place to submit a manuscript. Think of it like this – Submitting a manuscript is the same as applying for a job. The company needs to be respectable and be able to provide services to the author that will convert their vision into a marketable product. Because a partnership between author and publisher can last years, both parties need to be comfortable with each other.

Just like a job, the best companies are the hardest to get a foot in the door. Enter months and months of rejection, insecurity, and moving on.

Fast forward to June 2017. At this point, I had searched for several months without many leads. While never easy, I had grown used to the sting of the endless string of “no”. I submitted to local Utah publisher Immortal Works. I knew authors who had worked with them and been happy, they had some of my favorite people on staff, and they attended all the conferences I liked attending. Seemed like a great fit.

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Double bonus – my book has immortals in it. Working with a press called Immortal Works seemed like a special kind of karma.

Months go by and I hear nothing. While it’s not unexpected to have to wait, it is uncomfortable, like a splinter. In September I heard back. They wanted to read the whole manuscript. SQUEE! Finally, someone saw potential in my manuscript. A full manuscript request can still result in a rejection, but for the first time in ten months, I dared to hope a little.

More weeks pass and that splinter has grown into a toothpick. I couldn’t go a minute without thinking about it and wondering and hoping. In early November I learn the Senior Acquisitions Editor has recommended my book for acquisition by the company.

SO MUCH SQUEE, I’M GONNA DIE!

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Still, there is a chance they come back and say no. If they are already working with similar titles, or the market is saturated, or they feel it’s not a good fit they can reject a project. It’s an understood part of the business. And the uncertainty sucks.

I might as well have a 2×4 strapped to my head at this point. My family has been super supportive of the publishing process and have patiently listened to all my many ups and downs, but there’s a limit to how much they want to hear about the nitty-gritty of querying and submissions. I stop talking endlessly about it. In fact, talking about it might jinx the whole thing.

The void space of waiting for the final yes is surreal. For so long the golden ticket of having a book published was reserved for more awesome, more deserving, and more talented writers. Having the possibility of my “yes” so close, that golden ticket of validation was nearly mine.

At a time like this, you can’t help but start dreaming of the future and what might happen. So many doors open when an author transitions from short story projects to having their own novel. Invitations to book clubs, speaking engagements, signings, and conferences come easier when you have your own book.

Late November, while chilling watching TV with my hubby and after the kids were in bed, the email comes. The notification jumps up on my phone with a fragment of the message. Not enough to know if it’s a yes or a no, but enough to have a micro heart attack.

It’s a yes.

And a contract.

It’s real.

And I’m like –

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And now the real work starts to make this book as awesome as possible. Stay tuned for more updates!

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Being Happy with Your “Now” You

forest-autumn-fall-trees-stone-colors-leaves-beautiful-wallpapers-hd-1280x768.jpgI got a rejection this morning. Another one. The ninth in six weeks.

Was I upset? Absolutely. I let myself be angry for about five minutes. I may have punched the mattress a few times.

It’s after times like these I get a bit introspective. That, and I’ve got a birthday coming up. It’s almost impossible to not think about what I’ve done with my life so far. Have I made the difference in the world that I hoped for this year?

This past year has been hugely different from previous years. In November 2016, I sent out my first query letter seeking a publisher for my first novel. This process is not for the weak at heart. Every time I hit send, I put this book into someone else’s hands hoping they will see in it the potential I do.

Then comes the waiting. And waiting. And waiting.

This is not calm, patient waiting. This is anxiety gripping at the throat waiting. Any minute an email might come that will change everything. It’s tense business. It’s hard to go on living a normal life and not be forever staring at my phone waiting for that notification to come through.

After five and six and ten and fourteen rejections you’d think I’d get numb to it. And I have, a little. You are forced to distance yourself from your project and see it as something other than your baby.

At the same time, it’s hard to not take rejection personally and not have feelings of worthlessness creep in when my project I’ve thrown my soul into is rejected time and time again.

What does this have to do with happiness? Nothing. Everything.

If this year has taught me anything it’s that happiness has nothing to do with what is happening around you and to you. Good things happen, bad things happen. Should you depend on your circumstances to determine your mood, you are cursed to live a life that looks like a roller coaster.  The only constant in your life is you. If you can’t find happiness in your own skin, what makes you think you can find it anywhere else?

There has been one other significant change in my life this past year. My youngest now goes to school everyday. I didn’t realize what a difference it makes when I can take care of myself instead of living in survival mode. You can’t be happy if you are living in survival mode. You are just trying to not drown as the next wave comes.

It’s been a long year, and an educational one. Between finally getting some “me” time and learning to accept endless rejection, I’ve found a weird happiness.

I’m okay with the me I am. And that’s just fine.

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How have you found your happiness? Share in the comments below! Don’t forget to “like” and “subscribe” so you don’t miss out on future posts.

 

Why I’m not doing NaNoWriMo this year

NaNo-2017-Participant-Facebook-CoverIt’s the end of October. For many writers it’s the time to sharpen our brains and finish up prep for this year’s NaNoWriMo challenge. I’ve done the challenge for several years in different ways ranging from full manuscripts and partial manuscripts, down to editing and revision goals. While I’d love to be in a good place to dig into the third and final book of my Stonebearer series this year, I only barely finished the very rough draft of the completed second novel last week.

My real reason for not doing NaNoWriMo this year is simple – experience. I know my working habits and how much I can do before developing a serious case of writer burnout. It’s taken a few decades to learn I’m a hugely competitive person with myself. If I set a goal I kill myself to go get it.

For my first NaNoWriMo in 2010, I crossed the finish line an exhausted wreck. At that point in my life I had one fewer child and more free time and energy than I have now.  Immediately after finishing, I continued to blog and did an editing pass of my first manuscript that I had finished a few weeks before NaNoWriMo started. Looking back, I don’t know how I did it.

I learned I am not invincible when baby #3 came around in the Fall of 2011. All my time disappeared and with it, most of my energy. I stopped writing for over a year. When NaNoWriMo rolled around I watched wistfully as other writer friends whipped themselves into an excited frenzy to work on a new project. I would still set a goal, goals are good, usually to finish the revisions on my first book baby and for years not much happened.

It wasn’t until 2015 when I felt ready to attempt writing the sequel. I had both older kids in elementary school and the youngest in preschool. It was literally the first year since 2010 where I had a handful of hours free during the week.

It wasn’t enough time. I stressed myself out. Four free hours a week isn’t enough to do NaNoWriMo. My writing crept into family time and evenings and occupied every moment it could like an overfed goldfish in a bowl. But, apparently I’m very competitive. I had to finish the 50,000 words. And I did. And then I shelved the uncompleted project for nearly a year.

This year, I’m okay with working at my current pace. I have projects underway that I like and am moving at a pace that I can keep up with while maintaining a good work/life balance. If by next year I haven’t started the third book of the trilogy, which I doubt, then perhaps I’ll make it my 2018 project.

And that’s totally okay.

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Are you doing NaNoWriMo this year? I’d love to talk about it in the comments!

A Querying I will Go!

IMG_5208It’s been a wild spring with unpredictable weather and plenty of changes to adapt into my life. As a family with young kids, the only thing I can depend on from day to day is unpredictability.  My youngest has developed a fascination with Minecraft and loves to play on the worlds he is creating with someone else. I’ll admit, I think it’s really fun to play with him as well, but every hour spent playing video games is an hour not spent doing anything that will help me reach my goals.

That said, perhaps the biggest news is that I’m starting to query out my epic fantasy novel. I didn’t image there would be this much stress associated with waiting for publishers and agents to give me their approval, or rejection, or no response at all. I’ve been at it since December but have only started sending out multiple queries at a time this last month.

The plan for the next few months is to always have five queries out at a time and to participate in whatever Twitter pitch contests drift my way. While this isn’t super aggressive, it doesn’t take over my life either.

[For those scratching their heads – a query is simply a formal letter sent to publishers and literary agents that tells about the book and about the author. A pitch is a short sentence that sums up the book. Both are mind-numbingly hard to create.]

On the short story front, I have two pieces that have been accepted and are awaiting scheduling with the publisher. I will most definitely be posting as soon as I have more info. One is a retelling of classic Vietnamese folklore, the  Starfruit Tree and is slated for an anthology. The other, The Skull Collector, is best described as a cross between Moana and the Hunger Games and will be in a magazine.

Other news, I was asked to judge a short story contest for the University of Utah Valley’s Warp and Weave speculative fiction literary magazine. While I’ve judged stories before, it’s never been for anything more than my writing group. All the stories were amazing so it was a true challenge to pick those that rose above the rest.

There’s always a ton of fun/agonizing work to do. While waiting for query responses from agents and editors I have a bundle of great ideas I’d like to work up into publishable short stories and a draft of the sequel novel to create. I also have a handful of presentations to prepare for upcoming conferences, for more info click here.

Here’s to a great Spring!

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Writing Update – May 2015

It’s been a few months since I’ve posted an update so here we are.  I’m excited to say that I finally finished the current draft of my epic fantasy, Stonebearer’s Betrayal. This draft has been long in coming, over a year, and it feels so good to finally be seeing a finished product.

The next step is to put the final polish on the chapters and send them off to a few trusted beta readers. I have to be honest, it’s been a long time since I’ve let anyone see anything more than a scene or two and I’m a little scared about the feedback I might get. At the same time, it’s super exciting to know that I’ve gotten this far.

I did sneak in a little short fiction writing for a contest that one of my local writing groups hosted. I’m proud to say that my flash fiction piece, This is my Destiny, won first place in its category.  I wanted to try my hand at a historical fiction piece with a speculative fiction twist for another anthology but it didn’t come together. There are a few other deadlines in the future that I’d like to prepare pieces for, but for the most part I think I will focus on my novel.

LUWOC first chapt 2015 certThe next big thing is the LDStorymakers Conference in two weeks. I have a chapter entered in to the first chapter contest, which again scares the crap out of me. I’d love to win, validation is always a good thing. I will also attend the intense Publication Primer where a professional editor will ream my first 10 pages to shreds along with the other four people in my group. It’s the best way to grow as a writer, but man it can be rough. It takes thick skin and lots of perspective to be able to not take things personally.

Hopefully by the next update in a few months I’ll have my initial beta feedback on my novel and will be well into the final editing process and then  – gasp! – it’s time to start sending it out! EEEK!

Until then, happy reading!