Word Witch and Professional Daydreamer

Category: Monthly Author Check-In (Page 1 of 5)

Monthly Author Check-In: July 2020

First up: there really is no fun way to say this so I’ll just say it. Last month, my oldest, sweetest, most beloved cat passed away. I’m not going to be talking about it, because even though I’m a writer I really don’t find solace in writing about my messier feelings, but I will say that I am utterly heartbroken. We had that pretty baby since she was about 4 months old, and she was 14 when she passed. I can’t even begin to imagine life without her, despite the fact that it’s technically been over a month already.

How has it been over a month already?

So. Writing updates, I guess? Because technically there’s only so much Animal Crossing you can play to numb your pain, I have been getting back to work after an initial mourning period. I identified something in my third Hopefuls book that’s been causing me a lot of struggle, and now that it’s been addressed the project is going much better.

This whole year has just been one big pattern of “Okay, FINALLY things are stable, now I can really buckle down and finish this book!”, followed by a huge, emotional side-swipe that knocks me off my game for weeks/months at a time.

To keep things fresh, I’m also tinkering with a little bonus short story set in the Hopefuls universe. I really like it, I just haven’t had the emotional energy needed to polish it up yet. But rest assured, you’ll know as soon as I do.

In the meantime, I’m doing what I can. I have a fantastic group of people around me, and I really cannot say enough to thank them for all the support they’ve been giving me this whole year.

That’s really all I have to say right now. Take care, all. Hopefully things will look better for all of us soon.

Monthly Author Check-In: May 2020

What I’m Writing: Hopefuls 3, and a bonus Hopefuls short story
What I’m Reading: Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson
What I’m Loving: The Great on Hulu

Oh, May. What to say about May?

Earlier in the month, I was fully prepared to give May a glowing review. I was settling into my quarantine routine, and fairly content with my circumstances all things considered. I was getting back on track with good habits and hobbies, including a strong workout routine. I had done some baking for the first time since forever. I broke the reading slump I’d been in for the whole of quarantine (more on that later). I was making progress on both my writing and the marketing/administrative side of my author business. In general, my outlook had lifted, my mental health was good, and I felt positive about how things would be for me moving forward, despite the crumbling state of the world.

Then I found out that one of my cats, the one I’ve had for over 14 years and raised from a kitten, quite possibly has cancer.

There were a few other blows that landed before that, some pandemic-related struggles that various friends and family members were dealing with, but I was still able to maintain good spirits throughout those hits because, while scary and upsetting, everything seemed/seems like those would work themselves out in the end.

But now, my sweet baby Shadow… I’m not gonna lie, I honestly don’t know how I’m going to handle this.

Today, I’m going to handle it by pretending it doesn’t exist for the sake of the rest of this blog post, and discuss one of the other updates instead—even if, by contrast, it feels somewhat hollow and meaningless in the face of that.

Reading Struggles

In general, it seems like people in lockdown have either been doing tons of reading, or no reading at all. I’ve fallen solidly into the latter camp. As much as I’d love to be able to use both reading and writing as an escape in difficult times, the truth is that I don’t handle stress very well, and my ability to focus on anything meaningful is usually the first thing to go. (Hence why I’m fixating on this part of the update? Maybe.)

So I didn’t read anything in the second half of March, and I didn’t read anything in April, and I didn’t read anything in the beginning of May. And while a part of me was frustrated by this, honestly a bigger part of me simply didn’t care. This is just how things were going to be. I knew that eventually, when I was starting to feel a little better, something somewhere would spark my interest. I also knew I couldn’t predict when that would happen, or what book would finally break it.

And, true to fashion, what finally broke it was so utterly random that I wouldn’t have been able to manufacture the circumstances if I had tried.

I ended up reading Gone Girl for the first time.

Let me give you two pieces of context for this admission:

1) I don’t typically read thrillers. I have read a few, and I’ve considered reading a few more than I’ve actually read, but it’s not a shelf I tend to reach for, or keep up with what’s new in the genre.

2) Somehow, despite the fact that the book was a hit back when it first came out in 2012, and despite the fact that they even made a movie about it some time later, I had never been spoiled about the twist, or the book’s ultimate end. I know, I’m as surprised as you are.

Why did I decide to pick it up? Honestly, I wasn’t even looking for it—I was watching a YouTube video where someone was talking about one of Gillian Flynn’s other books, and that one kind of sounded interesting to me, but it was already checked out on Overdrive. Gone Girl wasn’t.

There’s no real reason for me telling you this story, other than to say: if you’re also struggling with getting any reading done, might I suggest trying something completely out of left field? I think a bit part of what ultimately helped me get into this book (aside from the fact that it’s compulsively readable), was that I hadn’t been looking forward to reading it for ages, unlike a lot of the other things I’d been picking up and abandoning. The complete lack of expectations and pressure meant that I was able to just dip my toe in and decide that, yeah, okay, this intrigued me enough to keep going, and that state of “keep going” just, well, kept going all the way to the end.

Though I will admit that I am solidly in the camp of Did Not Like for the ending, not even a little bit. Still, the book did literally what I picked it up hoping it would do, and now I am queuing up a whole list of popular thrillers just to see what else holds my attention in these messed up times. Because apparently when the world is complete shit, I need missing persons, psychopaths, and weird murders to keep me entertained. Who knew?

Author Check-In: Quarantine Edition

Hey, friends. How you all doing? Been a hot minute since I last wrote here. I was planning to resume a somewhat regular blogging schedule in the February/March window, but, well… *gestures vaguely at the world*

Anyway, wanted to pop in and offer you what scant few updates I can.

1) First up! So far, I am well, and managing okay in lockdown, and I hope you all are, too. My mental health is a bit up-and-down, but I imagine that’s true for most people these day, so, can’t really complain. Trying to remember that I could have things so much worse. Please keep social distancing and following current safety precautions. This is not the time to be careless and apathetic. (I mean, is it ever? But especially now.)

2) Because of all that, it is proving a struggle to work on my books, not gonna lie. I keep trying things, in an effort to build back some semblance of routine. Some of it works better than others. Despite everything, somehow I am still making progress? Slowly, but I will take whatever I can get right now.

3) I took this photo of Nova recently and it’s quickly become one of my new favorites, and yes, that totally counts as a valid update:

4) I’ve also been in a pretty bad reading slump during all this (I still have not read the library book that got trapped with me when they shut down about 6 weeks ago, despite the fact that I was really anticipating it), but I have been enjoying some truly wonderful, random entertainments that help keep my spirits up and my mind off the situation at hand. Such as:

  • Playing The Sims more hardcore than I have in years, in part thanks to the influence of…
  • Lilsimie and Vixella’s YouTube channels, which are a complete and utter delight if you like The Sims at all.
  • A bunch of my favorite TV shows: The Bold Type, What We Do In the Shadows, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Galavant (you can never rewatch Galavant too many times), Superstore, Lucifer, and Batwoman, off the top of my head.
  • Picard was also a fun ride that managed to balance nostalgia with modern storytelling pretty well—except for one episode that I won’t talk about that made me super-mad, but I can’t stay upset if they’re going in the direction it certainly looks like they’ll be going with Seven of Nine in season 2, omg please don’t disappoint me, you bastards.
  • Disney+, yes, I finally broke down and subscribed. No, I have not gotten around to The Mandalorian yet. First up, I needed to balm my weary heart with a million nostalgic, feel-good movies (and, in total honesty, a few modern feel-good movies—Zootopia saves my life more often than I should probably admit), and then I swiftly moved on to an all-important rewatch of the MCU, because obviously. It’s been literal years since I’ve seen some of these movies, and it needed to be done.

And that’s it for me. What about the rest of you? Are staying safe, staying entertained? Are you one of the lucky ones who can lose themselves in their creative work in times of stress, or are you, like me, struggling to find the mental space necessary to build anything of value? If you’ve been chilling and watching movies/playing games, please feel free to drop me some recs in the comments (and yes, I already know I should buy Animal Crossing, but I don’t have a Switch and right now that’s impossible to find, dammit). Be well, all. Be kind.

Monthly Author Check-In: “Yup, Still on Hiatus” Edition

Hey friends! Popping in from my internet hiatus to give you all an update. First of all: yeah, I’m still enjoying my break from blogging and social media, though I am dipping my toes back in a little here and there—mainly just RT-ing random angry/funny things on Twitter, but hey! It counts! Sort of. I’m not sure when I’ll be fully “back,” but at this point I doubt it’ll be before the end of the year, just because of the upcoming holidays and busyness and also, oh yeah, I got a new job.

Wait, what? Yes, it’s true. I’ve been maintaining a day job in retail for a good ten years now, and I am more than ready to start shifting away from that. To that end, I’ve gotten an internship in content marketing. Which… is part of why I’m still on hiatus in my personal/author life, to be honest—I’m just writing so many blog posts for my new job, that by the time I am done for the day the last thing I feel like doing is writing more. All this other kind of writing will eventually become routine, and so I am fully planning to work in more personal/author blogging as things progress (I even have a few ideas for posts I want to write, when I get some energy), but for now I am just letting myself hole up and focus on my job and my books, and not worry about the periphery author stuff.

Speaking of my books…

Because of a lot of shifting priorities with my life, I haven’t gotten as much work done since the release of Who’s Afraid of Amy Sinclair? as I had been planning to, so! As a means of getting my butt back in gear, I am going to be participating in NaNoWriMo this year! (Technically as a “rebel” because I am not starting from a fresh project, but continuing Hopefuls 3, but shhh, it still counts.)

This is the first time I’ve done NaNo sine 2012, and before that I hadn’t done it since 2007, so it’s been a hot second since I’ve played this game. But I’ve always loved NaNo, and I’m looking forward to getting back into the community a little. Though the new forums are, uh… interesting? And giving me some trouble figuring out how they work, because I am now Old and cannot always wrap my head around the ways The Kids These Days are using the interwebs.

But if you’re doing NaNo too, I’d be delighted if you add me as a buddy! I’m “feline” over there, again because I joined NaNoWriMo in 2002, y’all. (Yes, technically I know I can change my ancient user name, but I’ve been that identity since 2002, I mean that’s practically old enough for that alias to be a legal adult. I’m not touching it.)

All right, so I guess that’s it for now. Know that I am happy and hopeful for the future, and that I have so many plans for my books that I am so looking forward to. Wishing you all a wonderful and productive November, whether you’re writing or not.

I’ll check in with you all again… soon? Soon.

Monthly Author Check-In: July 2019

What I’m Writing: Hopefuls 3 and 4
What I’m Reading: Tell Me How You Really Feel by Aminah Mae Safi, These Witches Don’t Burn by Isabel Sterling, and War of the Foxes by Richard Siken
What I’m Loving: A coworker convinced me to finally break down and watch Veronica Mars, and I am so, so grateful she did. (Thanks, Christine!) I am still on the first season, though, so no spoilers!

WIP Excerpt

The world compressed, flattening as neat as a page in the comics Jane drew. Smack dab in the middle: the open end of a gun, the barrel gaping so large that you feel you’ll tumble down into it. It’s a perfect circle, larger than life, and the rest of the scene warps inward around the image, the colors and shapes of the crowd distorting as if everything is being sucked into its orbit. Flip the page again. A narrow shaft of light cuts an otherwise solid field of black, and Jane, tiny in the middle, is caught in a free fall, as sure as Alice down the rabbit hole.


News Wrap-Up:

  • Who’s Afraid of Amy Sinclair? was released on June 24th to much enthusiasm, and managed to hit number 31 in one of its categories on Amazon—the highest I’ve ever seen for one of my books. Thank you all so much! If you’ve already read it, please remember to leave a review at your favorite bookstore’s site.
  • There’s now a special edition of The Private Life of Jane Maxwell, created in partnership with F-BOM (Feminist Book of the Month). There’s still time to pick up your copy today, so be sure to sign up on their site, so you can get behind-the-scenes content, including videos.
  • On a personal note, a little lost kitten found himself a home with us in June, exactly one week before Who’s Afraid of Amy Sinclair? came out. So that’s been a wild ride, especially the process of introducing him to my long-time cat, and a distraction I did not anticipate for the summer. But I cannot complain because come on, just look at that face.

So like I said, the summer’s been more of a distraction than I’d planned on. I haven’t managed to do as much promotion for my new book as I’d expected to, though thankfully my fans are carrying me through on their own, for which I am eternally grateful. As per usual, I took a few weeks off from writing after a new release to refresh and assess my current goals and deadlines, but now I am back into production. Currently, I’m plotting/outlining Hopefuls 3, while I am actually writing Hopefuls 4. I know, it’s out of order, but what can I say? I’m a chaos writer, through and through.

(No, in all seriousness though, Hopefuls 3 has a much more complicated plot than Hopefuls 4, so it genuinely requires more pre-planning before I can write it. Hopefuls 4, on the other hand, I can pretty much just wing it as I go.)

Meanwhile, my stint as F-BOM’s July/August Book of the Month pick is about halfway through, and it’s been so much fun! I’ve already recorded a sneak peak introduction of my book and gotten some reader feedback/questions in their members-only portal, and soon we’ll be sitting down to my first-ever video interview series. I’m really looking forward to that one. It’s been a delight, truly. Be sure to pick up your own copy, so you can have the Special Edition for yourself, as well as access to all the members-only content.

Now my sights are turning toward the rest of the year. I’m trying to figure out what I want my focus to be during the fall and winter months. I’ve got so many fun projects planned, so many new and exciting developments that I just haven’t had time to bring to fruition yet. But now that I’m back into drafting new books, I’m finally going to be able to juggle some of those other projects, and the only question that remains is, which takes priority? That’s my assignment for the next week or so, simply to figure out what I will bring to you all first. I cannot wait to share it with you.

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