March Recap: Live readings and more

In an attempt to be a more consistent blogger, I plan to start writing recaps at the end of each month on just my general writing progress, release information, and general life things.

The Writing

At the end of 2019, I’d created a five-year business plan of goals I want to accomplish from 2020-2025. For the opening months of 2020, I was overzealous in my planning as I was unable to finish the rough draft of Descent by the end of February. While I have been more consistent in writing almost daily, I’ve had some off weeks, especially in March when I experienced a relapse of abdominal pain, which is stoked by anxiety and stress. I had been doing better at managing my stress and anxiety, but with the time change, some stressors at work, and now the pandemic, my coping techniques failed me.

However, I have Descent within shooting distance of 80K words. My aim is for it to be longer than Heritage Lost as it is a larger-scale work with more moving pieces as the galaxy teeters on the edge. I have it all outlined; however, I’ve had to split a few chapters in two, so the outline is adapting to that and some other minor changes. Some characters are throwing surprises at me.

I had wanted to focus on my historical fiction novel during Camp NaNoWriMo this April, but since I’m on more of a deadline with Descent, it will be my project for April. I estimate that I have about 30,000-40,000 words left on it, which means it should be done during that writing event. With my birthday being April 4 and having nowhere to go except sheltering at home, I think I should be to start Camp NaNoWriMo on a strong footing.Continue reading “March Recap: Live readings and more”

So I self-published: What that journey was like

I self-published my first full-length novel, Heritage Lost, Dec. 6, 2019. Technically, the paperback on Amazon went live in late November after I was overzealous with my clicking . . . oops. It has definitely been a learning experience that was a lot different from my experience of publishing short stories via KDP — for one thing, you’re dealing with twice the formatting. For writers interested in self-publishing, I thought I’d share a bit about my experience and the pathway I took. In the future, I’ll probably also share a post about what I would do differently if I had the opportunity. There are quite a few things.

KDP and Ingram Spark Combo

For this release, a KDP and Ingram Spark combination was used.

I took the saying about never putting all of your eggs in one basket very seriously. Platforms can shut down, rules can change, and accounts can be locked — fairly or unjustifiably. If you only have your stories on one platform and one of those three things happens, poof! you’re gone. Your readers can no longer find your works and you are missing out on profit while facing the challenge of rebuilding. Having a secondary source for your book’s printing prevents it from disappearing.

With that said, I’m still a part of KDP’s Kindle Unlimited program, which means while my paperback is available at different retailers, my e-book is exclusively available on Amazon. I did this because I’m building my readership and KU allows me to cast a wider net; some of these readers might never had picked up my book otherwise. The program has also been highly recommended by other indie authors.Continue reading “So I self-published: What that journey was like”

Obligatory 2019 Recap & Here’s To 2020

Well, we’re already a month into 2020, so this blog is off to a terrific start in the new year. But I still wanted to get this post of reflection done.

Part of me believes I was an incredibly lazy year, but then I sit and really think about all that I accomplished during it. It was A LOT. So I’m not entirely sure why I feel I didn’t do enough. For one thing, I finally realized my dream of publishing a full-length novel. “Heritage Lost” went through its final edits. I formatted that sucker (both e-book and paperback) myself, and I hit publish on Dec. 6.

I also actually wrote more than I had in years, including almost 19K on “The Promise,” and reaching the halfway marker on both “Descent” (Heritage Lost Book 2) and my historical fiction novel. Periodically, I also wrote scenes as they came to mind — something I’m striving to do more often. One must strike while the iron is still hot.

I like to think I’m on more solid grounding as I enter 2020 and embark on the first leg of my ambitious five-year writing business plan. By the end of 2020, I hope to have “Descent” wrapped up for a Spring 2021 release; a companion Heritage Verse novel, featuring Akakios and his crew, largely done for a Fall 2021 release; and get the historical fiction novel ready for querying. I’m also whipping myself into gear to finish story No. 2 in The Augur’s Rose Series, which should be available by Fall 2020 — trouble is brewing and you can’t keep a good necromancer down. Ba-da-dump!

I’ve missed one of my rough timeline goals in my five-year plan by not wrapping up “Descent” at the end of January, but there is wiggle room allowed in my planning. I’m also very proud to have reached the 67K marker — so over halfway there. Here’s hoping that I will have it wrapped up by the end of February, especially since I’m starting to see my daily word counts grow again. Maybe not to the level of my high school days, but I work a full-time job so I need to cut myself slack. I give myself too little slack as it is.

With any luck, the blog will be more active in 2020, but I suggest not holding your breath. I’m certainly not holding mine.

Meet Heritage Lost’s Cast: Mina

Mina’s aesthetic (pictures from PixaBay)

Mina, 16, may or may not have been named after a popular Reznic singer — she’ll never tell (think of the embarrassing band your parents adore). Truthfully, she won’t say much about her early life before she came into Katya’s orbit. Her parents are a topic strictly off the table.

Having been born on the highly populated and industrialized planet Reznic, she puts up a bubbly exterior while being incredibly cautious, both of which served her well when sneaking onto a Magistrate military base. It was during these escapades that she met Katya and became her ward. She views her both as a sort of mother-figure and mentor.

When Katya received her posting on The Maelstrom, Mina joined her and began learning the ins and outs of life as a pilot. She relishes being able to see the galaxy, collecting an assortment of weird odds and ends. One of her most prized possessions is a pair of retro wired earbuds.

She loves music and bright colors, choosing to dye her hair a vast array of colors. In her free time, she is an avid cook. There is no ingredient she wouldn’t try to prepare in a dish, with Katya somewhat afraid that one day the teen will kill them all by unknowingly poisoning them. One of Mina’s favorite dishes is a comfort food from her homeworld called bok. This dish is described as consisting of noodles, a special sauce, and ground meat. Here is a link to a similar Earth dish: https://drivemehungry.com/yaki-udon-stir-fried-udon-noodles/.

Heritage Lost’s final cover by MissChibiArtist.

Heritage Lost is now available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other book retailers. You can also read it for free if you are a member of Kindle Unlimited.

Heritage Lost Release Week

Get your copy Dec. 6!

Heritage Lost officially arrives this Friday, Dec. 6.  And running up to its release, a lot of fun activities are planned, including the conclusion of my ongoing prequel short story, The Promise; a few e-book giveaways; and a release day party on my author Facebook page.

The e-book version is still available for preorder on Amazon and will be automatically delivered to your Kindle come Dec. 6. If you have a Kindle Unlimited account, you’ll also be able to read Heritage Lost for free while it is enrolled in that program.

The paperback version of Heritage Lost is actually live on Amazon . . . What can I say? I got a little overzealous with my button-pushing. If you prefer Barnes & Noble, the paperback is available for preorder. You’ll also likely find it available at a variety of other booksellers thanks to the IngramSpark distribution network. You can’t go wrong with either the copy available through Amazon (the KDP print job) or the one available elsewhere (the IngramSpark print job). Both proofs were phenomenal when they arrived.

Now that all the links are out of the way, let’s get into what to expect this week.Continue reading “Heritage Lost Release Week”

December 1: NaNoWriMo Recap

Hello, Dec. 1, you arrived pretty fast there. Like seriously. Way too fast.

Needless to say, I didn’t hit the 50K marker, but I kind of figured I wouldn’t. November is a horrible month for me personally with a ton of life events packed into it, from my dad’s birthday to hosting a GIFF event for the library. This particular November also saw the unexpected passing of my direct supervisor at work, which added in a lot of stress and left me in a state of shock.

Despite this, I did achieve my ultimate goal of at least writing a little bit each day. In total, I typed out 13,360 words and brought my WIP to a total of 50,023 words. That’s about the halfway marker!

I plan to continue work on Descent through the month of December, though I likely won’t be able to write every day since the month is crazier than November.

So how did NaNoWriMo go for you this year?

I made a heart rhythm with my daily writing counts.

Meet the ‘Heritage Lost’ Cast: Katya Cassius

Character Aesthetic: Katya Cassius

Helming The Maelstrom, much of Heritage Lost is told from the perspective of Katya Cassius. A career military officer in the Res Publica De Magistratus, she has found her career stalled at the rank of captain, but at least, she’s finally received her long-dreamed-of space-faring post with her own ship. The Maelstrom may not be glamorous, but it is hers.

Prior to The Maelstrom, Katya worked primarily in the Magistrate’s military police force, eliminating criminal syndicates, training local law enforcement on troubled worlds, targeting illicit drugs, and breaking up sentient trafficking networks. The planet Reznic pushed her to her limits, especially after a case involving young children occurred (Read ‘The Promise’). Internally, she often feels the only good occurrences from her time on-world were meeting Colonel Valens Ulpius, her secret lover, and Mina, a young girl she takes as her ward, training her as a pilot.

Katya’s own early childhood is largely a mystery, with her memories being a vague, jumbled mess. She was adopted by Faustus Cassius, an archaeologist who hails from a prominent Magistrate family, at the age of three or four. Her homeworld, Mramor, had fallen into chaos following a destructive world war and a serious of radical revolutions. She’s done some research into Mramor but has never dug too deeply out of a combination of loyalty to her adoptive father and a deep fear of what she might find.

Heritage Lost’s final cover by MissChibiArtist.

Heritage Lost is now available as an e-book for preoder on Amazon. A paperback version will be available on the release date, Dec. 6. Be sure to also add Heritage Lost to your “want to read” list on Goodreads. For the latest news, also like my author’s Facebook page, where I recently held a live unwrapping of my Heritage Lost paperback proof.

 

Heritage Lost Cover Reveal And Artist Spotlight

Heritage Lost’s final cover by MissChibiArtist. Heritage Lost will be available Dec. 6, 2019. For the latest information, follow this blog or sign up for my newsletter.

Without further ado, I’m happy to share Heritage Lost‘s cover, which features lead character Katya Cassius and the Oneiroi toddler she rescues, Sotiris Sarris. Maria Freed aka MissChibiArtist is the artist behind this beautiful cover. I had the good fortune to meet Maria during last year’s Hall of Heroes Comic Con, which occurs annually in Elkhart, IN.

Since then, we’ve communicated back and forth as I waited to hear back on a couple of my last queries before kicking off the cover design process in July. I loaded her down with reference photos and a general idea of what I was looking for in regards to the concept, including different bits of symbolism that I wanted to appear in the piece.

She really captured the dream-like quality I was looking for. My Oneiroi are loosely inspired by Greek mythology’s like-named deities, who are the children of Nyx and serve as the personifications of dreams. Their species’ abilities are capable of producing a nightmarish effect in a number of non-Oneiroi species, which has made them invaluable to Res Publica de Magistratus–more commonly called the Magistrate.

The entire process was enjoyable, and it was fun to see two of my characters brought to life. Maria truly captured Katya’s determination. When taking up a cause, she will die on that hill. As for Sotiris, you’ll have to read the book to find out what’s up with him.Continue reading “Heritage Lost Cover Reveal And Artist Spotlight”

National Read A Book Day: What Are You Reading?

Did you know that today is National Read a Book Day? It is observed annually on Sept. 6. According to the National Day Calendar, “Reading improves memory and concentration as well as reduces stress. Older adults who spend time reading show a slower cognitive decline and tend to participate in more mentally stimulating activities over their lifetime.  Books are an inexpensive entertainment, educational tool and time machine too!”

Like a glutton for punishment, I have four books that I’m currently reading four books at once. I constantly do this to myself. I tell myself only three books at once, and then that currently reading list balloons to four to six titles at once.

Moving fast on The Burger Chef Murders of Indiana by Julie Young.

Most of my focus has been given to The Burger Chef Murders in Indiana by Julie Young. It highlights a case from Speedway, Indiana, which has gone unsolved since Nov. 17, 1978. Despite having grown up in Indiana, I’d never heard of the case until Julie, a freelance writer for two of magazines that I manage, sent the book by way. After just a couple days, I’m over halfway through. It’s a very interesting case, though it’s also one that frustrates. Police made a lot of errors at its beginning, and that might be one reason why it’s gone unsolved.

I also try to read a writing craft book once in a while, and my current choice is  On Writing and Worldbuilding, Volume I by Timothy Hickson. I’ve been a fan of

Marinus has been taking over my desk …. so he can make himself useful. xD

Hickson’s YouTube Channel, Hello Future Me, and wanted to support his efforts by purchasing the ebook. It compiles a lot of his video content into one easily referenced book. I feel he brings up a lot of good questions that writers should ask while worldbuilding and plotting their novels.

I always try to have one nonfiction book in the works that more often than not is a history book. Currently, filling that position is To Conquer Hell: The Meuse-Argonne, 1918 by Edward G. Lengel. I purchased the ebook to aid with research for my historical fiction novel. I’m only about 14% through but have been enjoying Lengel’s writing style. I look forward to when I can give this book more attention; it definitely deserves that. Similarly, and also WWI-centric, I need to give more focus to Her Privates We by Frederic Manning. My co-worker had loaned me this one, and I’ve been hanging onto it.

So what are you reading this National Read a Book Day?

Book Review: ‘Write Smart, Write Happy’

Sometimes the right book finds you at the right time of your life. It’s happened before with How to Manage Your Home Without Losing Your Mind: Dealing with Your House’s Dirty Little Secrets by Dana K. White. Something as simple as “just do the dishes” has broken through a funk that has been crippling for me.

Write Smart, Write Happy: How to Become a More Productive, Resilient, and Successful by Cheryl St. John has had a similar effect on my writing. I finished reading it early in 2019, and it has already led to a much more productive 2019. I’m not writing every day, but I am at least writing numerous times per week.

St. John really encouraged me to examine my writing strategy, which had grown nonexistent, and reexamine the lofty goals I had created for myself — aka the goals I was never meeting. It really brought home how unreasonable I was being and how unfocused my efforts have been. But perhaps the most important takeaway was that I needed to forgive myself for each missed deadline and goal. Forgive and move forward. And by move forward, St. John recommends a hard look at goals and not setting the bar so high that you are destined to fail, perpetuating a cycle where you are never good enough.

While a craft book, St. John focuses more on the lifestyle of writers. You will not find writing prompts. It is more an examination of the process, time management, and even being a professional should you attend conferences. She also tackles writer jealousy, which is only human to feel but should never be acted on. It is important to acknowledge another writer’s hard work and not hold their success against them.

It is best to have a notebook when reading Write Smart, Write Happy as St. John provides a lot of homework in each chapter. I’ll admit that I only mentally did the homework as the bulk of my reading occurred during my lunch breaks while I was sitting in my SUV. Part of me wishes I would have used a small notebook; however, I still think I came away from the process with the core takeaways.

My only complaint about Write Smart, Write Happy is that it can get very repetitive, which could be a turnoff for some people. She can also fall on the side of tough love, another possible turnoff, especially if taken as a personal attack. Personally, I needed that tough love to push forward with my work.

If you feel like you are spinning your wheels and getting nowhere, give Write Smart, Write Happy a shot. It isn’t a magical cure for writer’s block, but it will better help you examine your writing strategies with a critical eye.

As I noted above, 2019 has been the most productive year for my writing in a long time. I’m roaring toward the publication of Heritage Lost and have put together a short story prequel for it. I have almost gotten halfway through my historical fiction novel. I still have goals that I want to achieve before 2019’s end, and thanks to St. John, I’m trying to be realistic on what I can achieve with my time. The cycle of failure ends now.

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