Since it’s “Teaser Tuesday” today, how about a snippet from chapter four of Ash of the Fae, book five in my Modern Fae series?
This is one of my favorite bits! Here’s the quote from the image:
I sighed. “That’s never going to work. Fun always gets complicated. You were right the first time. Best to lay down the ground rules now and then stick to them.”
“Okay, but I’m still voting for fun. It’s not like I am going to get to find out what it’s like to make out with a ripped Fae who can turn into a dragon. I need to live vicariously.” Angie tugged on the handle of my suitcase as she resumed walking.
I laughed. “You suck.”
“That’s what she said,” Angie called back to me in a low voice.
Ash of the Fae by E. Menozzi
If you’ve read book four (Hunter of the Fae), then you are already familiar with Angie and her love of “that’s what she said” jokes. And if you haven’t met Angie, yet, there’s still time to catch up before Ash of the Fae‘s release, later this month!
Angie is Eve’s best friend. She’s the main character in book four in the series, but she also appears briefly in book one, and again in Eve the Immortal, the Eve of the Fae epilogue novella. Hannah and Ved (aka, Ash) are the main characters in book five.
In this snippet, Angie is talking to Hannah about the Dragon Fae who has just been assigned as Hannah’s bodyguard. Hannah is determined not to hook up with him, regardless of how hot he is, and despite the fact that there’s only one bed at the weekend party he’s attending as her fake boyfriend. (Good luck with that, Hannah. Bwahahaha…)
This was seriously one of my favorite books to write. I can’t wait for you all to read it! And it will be on shelves in just TWO WEEKS! Eeeeek! I am so excited!
Did you know I love the start of a new month? I’m all about that monthly goal reset, and I’m always making tweaks to my productivity systems whenever I feel like I’ve stopped making forward progress.
I love my bullet journal for making lists and taking notes, but sometimes the bigger projects (like writing and editing a novel) get lost in the day to day grind. It’s way too easy for me to get distracted by crossing admin tasks off my list and forget about the big stuff. Especially when it’s just one bullet point among many.
So I came up with the idea to use a little dry erase board on my desk to keep my project tasks top of mind.
Each week, I load it up with all the bite-size tasks that make up whatever project I’m trying to complete that week. Each task is meant to be something I think I can do in thirty minutes (aka, a “sprint”). Then, each morning, I pick four tasks to move to the “Today” section of the board. Once I start a task, I move it down to the “Started” section. And once it’s done, I move it to the “Done” section. At the end of the week I toss the “Done” tasks and reset the board for the new week. It’s very satisfying.
This week, I’ve set up my board with one task sticky for each chapter of Petals and Runes. The project goal for this week is to complete my read through and collect all my revision notes. Ideally, I’m going to focus on reading and making notes, not on actually revising.
I’m not really sure if it’s going to take me a full week to get through this, or not. Every book is different. Sometimes this process goes really fast. I suspect that, since I haven’t been back in this world for a while, this is going to be pretty slow. I think I’m going to have to stop frequently to make notes as I read.
Also, this isn’t the only thing I’m doing this week. In addition to this writing project, I have a lot of other publishing admin tasks to do related to the Ash of the Fae release on the 21st, plus my usual household stuff to do. I’m keeping track of all that stuff in the weekly spread in my bullet journal. So, I think allocating a whole week for this part of the revision process is a realistic estimate.
How about you? How are you keeping track of your to-do list this week?
It’s been years and years since I wrote what became the second novel I ever finished writing. It felt really promising at the time. The first pages won contests. They got me full requests from agents. But nothing ever panned out.
Eventually, I gave up and shelved it. I moved on to what would eventually become the Modern Fae series. And I didn’t think I’d ever go back to that novel.
But I never really forgot about it. While I don’t really remember the moment I started writing Eve of the Fae (or really any of the Modern Fae novels), I have a very vivid memory of the book that started out as “The Lost Empire” and eventually became Petals and Runes.
It all started with that scene at the masked ball where she figures out that she’s dancing with the Ruhl. Except, at the time, I hadn’t invented that bit of world-building. He was a king, and his name was Oliver not Elan.
I only know this because I still have the notebook I wrote that first scene in.
Perhaps you remember me mentioning this novel before? If you do, it’s because I chopped up my old draft and posted it serial-style on Kindle Vella earlier this year. The last episode posted in April. I took it down in May, and now I’m working on revising it, as well as outlining the rest of the trilogy.
Back before Modern Fae, I didn’t know how to fix my not-quite-there broken novel. You know how they say you should put your finished draft away before you go back and try to edit it? Well, it’s been over five years! And I’ve learned a LOT since then. I think it’s time to put all that to work.
Over the next few weeks I’m going to be breaking this story down and putting it back together again. At first I was dreading this process. It’s both a demoralizing and invigorating thing, the thought of ripping apart a “finished” draft so you can fix it.
But I’m also getting to go back and explore some of my favorite young adult tropes. Like that good old masked ball scene. And the YA fantasy arranged marriage. Not to mention… The Love Triangle!
I know. That last one was huge in YA for a while, and you either loved it or you hated it. The love triangle for me is one of those tropes that, when it’s done well, can hook me into a young adult fantasy romance like nothing else.
There was a love triangle in the original version of this story, but it got kind of lost (or at least muddled) by the time I reached “the end” of that finished / polished draft. That’s one of the things I’m working on bringing back and strengthening during this revision.
The decision to do that might have been a little inspired by my current favorite YA love triangle: Bree / Nick / Sel from Legendborn by Tracy Deonn. In case you were wondering, I am team Sel all the way. The cover of book two (Bloodmarked) alone is making that one of my most anticipated new releases for the second half of 2022.
So tell me. What are some of your favorite young adult fantasy romance tropes? Are you team love triangle? Or do you hate it? What are some of your favorite young adult love triangles?
Back on the 15th of November I decided that I was going to try to run at least one mile every day for as many days as I could before I had to take a break. At the time, I was really trying to keep myself moving through the long dreary winter when the days are short and wet and I’d much rather stay inside with a book than go outside and get sweaty.
Once I made it through the winter, I wanted to see if I could make it to 100 days. Then it was half a year. And now that I’ve hit that 200 day milestone, I think I have no choice but to go for a full 365 days!
The side benefit of running every day that I didn’t realize before I started is it really feeds my writing brain. I don’t listen to music or podcasts or audiobooks or anything but the birds and the wind in the trees when I run, because I like to let my mind unwind and wander. And do you know what happens when my mind isn’t focused on anything in particular except keeping my feet moving? I come up with the best story ideas.
Sometimes it’s as simple as the answer to “what happens next?” Sometimes it’s a clever plot twist or a character motivation that leads the story in a new direction. Regardless, I’m always much more motivated to get back to writing after I go for a run.
Which is good, because before I left for my run today, I was completely unmotived to write. And very, very stuck.
I’m trying to get my brain back into a new project. It’s one I haven’t touched for a long time, and I’m really feeling that “I don’t wanna” inertia. Seriously, though, getting back into a project after you’ve been out of it for a while is the worst.
Now that I’m back and showered and feeling extra accomplished because I hit that 200 day milestone, I’m going to do what I do when I don’t want to go outside and run. I’m going to put my butt in my chair, open my Scrivener file, and make myself do something on this project for at least ten minutes.
I’ll let you know tomorrow how it went. And maybe tell you a little more about what I’m working on.
How about you? What’s getting you moving and keeping you motivated today?
Okay, slight diversion from my usual reading-related blog posts… I just realized that I’m wrapping up season one of my first serial story on Kindle Vella this week, and I never even mentioned anything about it here. So, I thought I’d let you know in case you want to check it out.
Petals and Runes is a YA romantic fantasy for fans of series like The Winner’s Curse and Girl of Fire and Thorns. A lot of the old-school YA tropes are featured. There’s a masked ball, an arranged marriage, a childhood love left behind, secret powers, political intrigue, and dangerous magical creatures. So if you like that sort of thing, I’d love it if you wanted to check out my serial. The first three episodes are free to read. Please give it a like and a follow if you enjoy it.
And now back to my regular reading-related content… 🙂
We’re just about halfway through December, and I am still working on finishing up the first draft of the novel I was working on for NaNoWriMo. I’m down to the final two chapters, and I’m dragging my feet about finishing them. Seemed like a good time to recap what I learned from this year’s NaNoWriMo.
I’m breaking this post into three parts. Part one includes the new things I tried to incorporate into my writing process in November that worked better than I thought they would. Part two is the stuff that did not work as well as I thought it would. And part three are the things I have carried over into December.
Things I tried this month that worked better than I expected
At least one sprint “first thing” in the morning — This was possibly the one thing that worked best for me and made me the most productive. By “first thing” I don’t mean that I got up at 5am to write. I’m not naturally a morning writer, and the 5am writers’ club has never really worked for me, even when I worked full time. I can exercise early in the morning, but it takes a while for my brain to wake up. This month, I decided to let myself wake up at a normal time for me. I ate my breakfast and drank my tea like I usually do. But instead of letting the morning get away from me, I tried to get into my office to write at least one sprint by 9am. I didn’t always succeed, but the days that I did, it was so much better. At some point, I realized that the longer I wait to write during the day the harder it is for me to sit my butt down and get it done. The resistance builds to the point where I start to think “meh, I’ll just do more tomorrow.” But if I write for even just thirty minutes right after breakfast, even if I ignore my project for the rest of the day, it’s so much easier to go back to it in the evening and finish my sprints. I have no idea why this works, but it does, and it’s become my new thing.
Alarm on my phone — I set an alarm for weekdays at 9am to remind me to get my butt out to my office and get to work. This allowed me to relax a bit more while I ate breakfast, checked my email, read, or listened to a podcast. I knew I could rely on my alarm to remind me to get to work (more so than a calendar reminder, which did NOT work).
Reprioritizing my “to-do” list — This goes along with writing “first thing” in the morning. Normally, I have all these little tasks that fill up my to-do list that I think are only going to take a few minutes and end up taking an hour or more. Since I like the satisfaction of checking things off my list, I do them first, even though I know I shouldn’t. Giving myself permission to basically ignore all that until December (or at least until I got my writing done for the day) was magic. All of a sudden I was doing what was important to me first instead of doing a bunch of admin stuff that was not time sensitive. And, I still got the satisfaction of checking things off my list because of the next two items.
Sprint log — I have never used one of these before, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to use it, but I thought I’d give it a try. It turns out that I found it super motivating to have a place to jot down my word count after each sprint! I don’t even care what the number was. Just the act of being able to write it down (and color in the box on my sprint summary log), gave me that boost of “yay! I did a thing! Let’s do it again!”
Word count progress chart — When I set this up, I thought maybe this was overkill, but I ended up really liking the visual progress tracker aspect of being able to color in boxes for each 1k words written. The stuff in the middle was a little redundant and unnecessary, but the progress chart was really helpful.
Limiting social media and other online distractions — I do this by using the digital health controls on my phone and allowing myself only five minutes (each) on Instagram and Twitter. Those are the only two social apps on my phone. I don’t log into any social apps on the computer in my office. Limiting the amount of time I could spend on an app made it so that I knew I could check it whenever, but I couldn’t get lost in the infinite scroll. Once my five minutes were up, they were gone for the day and it was time to get to work.
Things I tried that didn’t really work for me
Scheduling time to write on Google calendar — I thought this was going to help, but I didn’t even look at these time blocks once during the month. This method of time management just does not work for me.
Having consistent rules about what distractions were allowed and when they were allowed — I had this idea that I was going to outlaw all social media and gaming until after my writing was done for the day. That didn’t really work. I found that I was much more productive when I allowed myself to play some MtG Arena, or watch a YouTube video (or three), or even watch a full episode of a serial between writing sprints. Sure it delayed how long it took me to get my writing done for the day, but it also made it so that I never really felt like my creative well was going dry. This refueling became especially important on some of those days leading up to 50k when I only had to do two thirty minute writing sprints, but I was already pretty drained from writing so much in such a short amount of time. Honestly, this is the least burnt out I’ve felt after a NaNoWriMo, and I think that flexing this rule is why.
Crockpot meals — This one surprised me. I love crockpot meals. But unless the recipe was just “dump these four ingredients into the crockpot and turn it on,” preparing a crockpot meal used up valuable morning hours just to free up less valuable pre-dinner hours. Since getting out to my office and getting at least one sprint in turned out to be the most important thing I needed to do each day in order to get my writing done, I realized it was a lot easier to pick recipes that allowed me to do all the cooking in the evening.
Any cooking that required a lot of steps or prep — This one I underestimated. I thought it wouldn’t be a big deal, but we have this one recipe that we eat all the time, and it’s pretty easy to prepare, but it involves a LOT of vegetable prep time. I had already purchased the veggies and they were going to rot if I didn’t use them, so I went ahead with my meal plan. But, after that first week, I decided that this recipe is not for NaNoWriMo, or at least not for days when I need to get a LOT of writing done.
What I’m doing for December (since I’m still finishing this draft)
I’m still using my spreadsheet to manage and tweak my daily word count goals, but I’ve combined what I think were the most useful and motivating parts of my various trackers into one layout. I’ve got the progress bar on the outside like last time, but this time I moved the daily word count and sprint tracker to the inside. The calendar is a Midori blank calendar sticker. The little unicorn sticker is from Procrastiplanner. The little arrows were supposed to mark reward milestones, but I decided not to do rewards this month. Each day, I’m putting my daily word count above the little line in the calendar box, and putting stars for sprints below the line. One star is equal to one sprint, or thirty minutes of writing.
I’m still using the sprint log to jot down when I’m writing and how many words I wrote in my thirty minute sprints. It’s become a bit less important now that I’m really only trying to get two sprints in per day instead of three or more like I was doing during NaNoWriMo. For that reason, I’m not sure if I’ll keep using this outside of periods like NaNoWriMo where I’m making a focused push to fast draft a first draft.
As you can see from the picture, I’ve changed quite a bit of the pre-printed tracker from Sarra Cannon’s NaNoWriMo Prep workbook. I’ve adapted it to fit better with what I actually want to track. Specifically, what time did I start the sprint, how many words did I write, and what’s my new total word count. If I decide to use a sprint tracker again, I’ll probably just make my own and either draw it directly into my notebook or make something that will fit the page better when I paste it in. That way I don’t have to keep cutting out headers and Frankensteining together the cut up bits of the original tracker.
I have big writing plans for next year that include a lot more fast drafting, but I’ll talk about that more when I do a post on 2022 goals. So we’ll see how much of this new process stuff sticks in the New Year. In the meantime, let me know in the comments how your NaNoWriMo went. Did you learn anything new about what does and doesn’t work for your writing process?
Well, I did it! I wrote 50k words and got my NaNoWriMo win! Hooray!
The only problem is, the novel isn’t done yet. I did expect this. But, remember how I started writing this novel before November? Well, I thought I would be closer to the end after writing another 50k, and I am not. I’m still firmly in the “bad guys close in” territory of the novel (about 70% done). After reassessing my outline this evening, I think I have about 25k words left to write. So, I will be continuing with my daily writing until I reach “the end.”
I definitely learned some things about what’s currently working for my writing process and what’s not. So I’ll probably do a recap on that at some point. But for now I just wanted to say, YAY! and celebrate. 🙂
If you are writing, I hope it is going well for you. If you’re not, I hope you have something excellent to read or watch. I’ve read a couple of books this month, and I’m hoping to read at least one more before the month is over. But, I’ll tell you all about that in my reading recap post.
Wishing you a happy Thanksgiving, if you celebrate, and happy reading!
It’s day 11 and I’ve already written over 30k words this month. Consider me shocked.
I was pretty sure this was a new record for me. So I went back to previous years’ graphs to check.
I participated in NaNoWriMo on and off between 2007 and 2013. I “won” that first year (2007), then didn’t finish the month with 50k words again until 2013.
From 2013 onward, I participated and “won” every year except last year. Last year I only wrote just over 7k total in the whole month. Last year was rough. In fact, the past twenty months or so have been rough. So, let’s just ignore last year’s NaNoWriMo anomaly and focus on 2013-2019.
I decided to have a look at my word count graphs to see if it really was a PR. I also wanted to know 1) if I’ve ever been this far ahead before, and 2) how many days it usually takes me to hit 30k words.
Here’s what the graphs look like:
In case it’s not obvious from those images, I’m almost never ahead. I’m always more or less struggling to just keep up with par.
To illustrate that point further, par has you hitting 30k words on the 18th of November. Here’s when I hit 30k in previous NaNoWriMos:
2013 = 21 November
2014 = 22 November
2015 = 19 November
2016 = 18 November
2017 = 19 November
2018 = 18 November
2019 = 21 November
2020 = never…
2021 = 11 November !!!!!!
This is totally the post that someone writes just before their amazing writing streak takes a nose dive off a cliff. So, let’s hope that I didn’t just jinx myself by sharing this. Instead, I’m just going to be excited that I’m finally writing something new again, and that it’s fun, and I’m loving it.
Now I’m going to go celebrate by doing a Crimson Vow draft on MtG Arena. Then, tomorrow, I get to watch Red Notice on Netflix (after I write another 2k words…)!
While getting ready to write yesterday, I debated making myself an espresso. It’s something I usually only do about once a week, but I did it almost every day during the first week of NaNoWriMo. And that first week looked like this:
There’s this podcast I listen to where one of the questions that the host always asks the person she’s interviewing is “What thing in your life effects your writing in a surprising way?” After this week, I am beginning to think that, for me, that appears to be espresso.
Usually, I’m a tea person. Irish breakfast in the morning and green tea after that, on most days. I don’t really like the taste of coffee, but I do enjoy an occasional cappuccino if I happen by a good coffee shop. I refuse to buy tea in a coffee shop because it’s almost always overpriced and disappointing.
Since coffee is usually a “treat,” I’ve never really been that interested in making myself fancy espresso drinks at home, so I don’t have a fancy espresso maker. Instead, for the occasional homemade espresso shot, I have this thing called a Rok that uses pressure to make steam. It’s quiet and not fussy and basically all I need to make one shot of espresso. This thing came in really handy during the first year of the pandemic when most coffee shops were closed, and I was only going into public places for essential shopping.
I was still only using it about once a week. Then, for some reason, during the first week of NaNoWriMo, I started making myself a mid-morning espresso shot every day. Usually after my first writing sprint of the day. After several days of that, I skipped a day. My motivation that day was a little lower, and my writing sprints didn’t go as well. I still hit my word count goal, but it was harder. I chalked it up to the fact I’d been writing hard for several days in a row. It was bound to catch up to me, eventually.
Then I had another good writing day where I enjoyed a mid-morning espresso, and by the weekend I was considering a new theory. Maybe the extra motivation was coming from the espresso? I mean, I’ve always thought of espresso as my “extrovert juice.” Back when I was working in a corporate job and had back to back meetings where I had to present things, I would almost always grab an espresso or a cappuccino in the morning before my meetings started. Maybe it had a similar effect on my writing?
I have another week of big daily word count goals ahead of me, so I will continue to experiment with this theory and report back. 🙂
It is day four of NaNoWriMo, and so far the month is off to a great start. I decided to work on completing the first draft of a project that I had already written over 11k words on. I guess that makes me a NaNo Rebel this year. But, my first drafts are always at least 60k words. So I think this starting early strategy is going to be a really good thing for me. Instead of reaching the end of the month (and of the challenge) but not getting to write “the end” on my draft, this year I may actually hit 50k words written in the month AND get to the end.
I promised in one of my NaNo Prep posts to post an update with photos of the final version of my bullet journal word count tracker. So, let me show you how that turned out and how I’m using it.
The progress bar around the outside shows my progress toward the 50k word goal. I marked each 10k milestone with a sparkle star to remind me that reaching that point qualifies me for one of my rewards. The boxes inside that progress bar (one for each day of the month) are divided in half. I debated what I wanted to put in those. I ultimately decided to go ahead with putting the total words written that day on the top and the total words in the project on the bottom. I wasn’t sure I wanted to do it that way because my total words in the project are not going to align with that 50k progress bar (because I started early). But, I decided that didn’t matter since I’m keeping track of the math in my spreadsheet. I didn’t need to do it here, too.
I also created a rewards plan, and a more detailed word count log on a separate spread.
I struggled to come up with rewards and ended up with a mix of new movies / shows I want to watch and fun stuff I want to purchase. I’m rewarding myself for hitting my daily word count with Magic the Gathering Arena, YouTube, and re-watches of favorite movies and/or shows. But there are several new movies and shows coming out in November and December that I’m really looking forward to watching. So, I decided to use those for three of the goals. The release timing worked out to have two movies as rewards for 10k and 30k, while saving the big Wheel of Time series watch until after I’m totally done with NaNoWriMo).
I filled in the other two slots with minor purchases of fun and frivolous stuff. I went with $20 as my wish list spending limit because it’s the reward for hitting 20k words. And I decided on four stickers for the 40k word reward so it would be like one for every 10k words. Neither of these are things I would probably just buy anyway because neither of them are things I really need. I mean, I already have a TON of stickers. But it would be nice to get some new ones for my 2022 BuJo and for my 2022 writing goals planner, which I will probably start setting up in December.
I just hit the 10k words milestone this morning, so technically, I could go watch that movie now. But I’m going to wait until I after I do a few more sprints and hit my daily word count goal.
Speaking of sprints, I added a sprint tracker to my word count log so that I could mark off progress throughout the day. I’m keeping track of my actual word count per sprint on a loose sheet of paper. I may decide to glue that into my planner at some point, but for now I’m keeping it separate. I decided that my daily minimum was going to be three thirty minute sprints. I would need more than that for the first two weeks in order to hit my reverse word count goals. But, if I was really just not feeling it after three thirty minute sprints, I was going to let myself call it a day.
The first two days were great. Day three was a little tough, and today got off to a little bit of a rough start. But, very little of the that had to do with the writing. Plus, once I got going, hitting that 10k milestone gave me a boost of added motivation. Also, I’m in the middle of a big dialogue scene with lots of conflict, and I’m building to this twist that I am really excited about, so that all helps.
If you’re also participating in NaNoWriMo, I hope your writing is also going well! I’ll try to post another update mid-month. In the meantime, happy writing and/or reading!