Goals: February 2018

Well, last month was one of those months when all my plans went through a huge re-organization about a week into the month. The main reason is that two of my projects, River Running and The Eighth Octave, officially became projects written under a pseudonym I share with my co-writer. We have decided to publish these co-writes under the name Eden Reign, and the first Eden Reign book, River Running, will be coming out on March 6th!

If you’d like to stay up to date on those projects, please become a follower of Eden Reign over at: https://edenreignwrites.wordpress.com/

From now on, my updates and goals about those projects will appear on Eden’s site.

So, last month I set theses goals:

  1. WIND WINGING or THE EIGHTH OCTAVE REVISION with Tamara- I don’t think we’ve decided which co-written book we’ll focus on next. NO CHECK: we started this, and only lasted about an hour before we realized what we really wanted to do was clean-up and finalize River Running for publishing. So that’s what we did instead.
  2. DAUGHTER of FORTUNE REVISION-CHECK. I read through this and made a big master list of what to do on my big rewrite next month.
  3. FORMATTING PROJECT- I have a formatting project booked for this month that I’ll need to fit around other activities. NO CHECK–the author wasn’t ready. Instead I formatted River Running for publication, and it’s quite beautiful.
  4. ALASKA ESSAYS-CHECK. I have a master formatted document in hand, now I just need to deal with formatting and inserting the images, which is a big job.
  5. NOTE: My editor was able to get me the line edits for Light & Shadow back throughout January, so in addition to the work above, I managed to swim through line edits for Light & Shadow in January–which is great, since I had planned that for a February goal.

February Goals:

  • DAUGHTER of FORTUNE REWRITE-I plan to make my way through the list of changes I made last month.
  • FORMATTING PROJECT- I expect the formatting project from last month will come in sometime this month.
  • ALASKA ESSAYS-My goal is to have them all finished with a master draft ready for review by the end of this month.
  • LIGHT AND SHADOW TWEAKS- I have a list of about eight bigger fixes that I need to address from the lines edits. Then I’ll grind out the ebook version and upload for a “flow read” on my kindle!

 

Here’s the final River Running cover, plus a link where you can pre-order the kindle version!

RRfinalMASTER11.23.18 ebook

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Pitching My Book to Agents: The Writer’s Digest Conference and Pitch Slam

Here’s a lovely blog my friend Morgan Vega wrote about her experience at the 2017 Writer’s Digest Conference. I roomed with her and the brilliant Tamara Shoemaker, and we were pitch-slam practicing buddies!

Morgan Vega

morganvega blog post headers.png

Last August I did something I’ve never done before: I got on a train and went to New York to pitch my novel SLEEPING AROUND to agents.

I attended the 2017 Writer’s Digest Conference and Pitch Slam.

The below are pictures of me and my amazing, talented, supportive (I could go on) writing friends after getting on and a bit after getting off the train to NY. In the photo on the right, we went to a fitting-for-the-occasion literary bar. (Also, I took all of these photos on Snapchat, so heads up, they’re not super aesthetic or anything.)

Though I went with the mission to pitch my book, I attended sessions at the conference all about bettering my writing and building my platform. I got to listen to accomplished writers who have published many, many books and learn from their setbacks and successes.

Anyway, back to the point of…

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Goals: January 2018

There’s nothing like ringing in the new year with some writing goals.

Last month I hoped to accomplish:

  1. RIVER RUNNING REVISION with Tamara- CHECK  We are nearly through, just a few more comments and issues to resolve.
  2. LIGHT & SHADOW REVISION- CHECK Finished this in good time and I’ve sent it to some readers.
  3. WRITE NEW BOOK IDEA- CHECK As expected, I didn’t get very far, but I did make some progress.
  4. ALASKA ESSAYS- CHECK This project is coming along, and I hope to be nearly finished by the end of next month.

In January, I plan to do the following:

  1. WIND WINGING or THE EIGHTH OCTAVE REVISION with Tamara- I don’t think we’ve decided which co-written book we’ll focus on next.
  2. DAUGHTER of FORTUNE REVISION- I figure I may as well get a head start on the  rewrite for Tales of Blood & Light Book Six while I await comments from readers of Light & Shadow.
  3. FORMATTING PROJECT- I have a formatting project booked for this month that I’ll need to fit around other activities.
  4. ALASKA ESSAYS- I’m going to make a big push on the organizational edit for the Alaska Essays volume, and hopefully get it into it’s final, ready-for-formatting state.

Cover Treat of the month. Another Eighth Octave idea:

TEO

 

The Top Ten Books I read in 2017

I went into 2017 aiming to read diverse fiction books and non-fiction. I definitely read diverse books, though I failed to read many from earlier eras.

I also set out with the idea that I was going to use my reading as an escape. I’d been feeling pretty down at the end of 2016 after Election Day. My therapy for my disappointment was reading whatever I wanted during 2017.

Looking back over the books that really left an impression on me in 2017, it turns out most of them weren’t escape reads, though I did read quite a few I would consider as such.

As ever, my reading list is comprised of books I read in 2017, not necessarily books published in 2017. See my entire 2017 reading challenge here.

My stats:

Total books read: 103

Total pages: 36,334

Books by men: 36

Books by women: 63

Anthologies or co-authored works: 4

Fiction: 78

Non-fiction: 23

Poetry: 2

Indie-pubbed: 10

Books by minorities or people of color: 21

Books from 21st Century: 92

Books from 20th Century: 9

Books from other centuries: 2

My Top Ten, in no particular order:

1) The Moral Arc by Michael Shermer (2014): At its heart this is a hopeful book, and I read it at a time when I needed hope. I appreciated Shermer’s ambitious attempt to offer a philosophy of morality based in science and reason, although I do think at times he neglected to account for the darker angels of our nature in favor of focusing on the better ones.

2) Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari (2011, 2014): In a year when “science” faced political and popular opposition, Sapiens stood out as a proudly scientific book full of interesting information about the history of Homo sapiens. I appreciated the information, but not always the tone of this book, which sometimes slipped into somewhat dismissive or over-generalized musings. That said, the profound and thought-provoking examination of the human species was worth the irritation. I also read the next book by this author, Homo Deus, in which he tries to predict the future of humanity, but I think he was at his best when firmly grounded in evidence, without so much speculation.

3) Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi (2016): One reason I love fiction is how a story unfolds on so many levels. This book is a beautiful example of layers—layers of time and history and memory and experience and how they come together to create a character’s story. This was one of those precious books in which the total effect was more than the sum of its parts. I don’t rank this list, but if I did, Homegoing would be in the spot of #1 for my 2017 reads.

4) The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben: After the self-important voices of The Moral Arc and Sapiens, The Hidden Life of Trees offered a delightful alternative in my non-fiction science reading. This was a book of passion, written by a forester with a profound relationship with his trees. I found myself utterly caught up in his joy and excitement as I read about the fascinating lives of trees. A breath of fresh air!

5) Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson (2014): This book came highly recommended, but I was a little worried about reading it. I was already feeling a little bruised and battered by trying to talk about racism in America with what I’ll call racism “deniers.” I feared reading this book would only make me sadder. However, Just Mercy armed me with more concrete information, which is always helpful. I read this back-to-back with Ibram X. Kendi’s Stamped from the Beginning. The two books taken together provided me with a deeper understanding of America’s enduring shame.

6) Missoula by Jon Krakauer (2105): I’ll read anything by Jon Krakauer. I appreciate his accessible approach and his genuine curiosity as he examines diverse topics. In the case of Missoula, I did fear the heavy subject matter (rape) was likely to depress me again in a social climate exploding with the misogyny that led to 2017’s #metoo scandals. But Krakauer did a fine job with this book, using a specific case of one city to show problems in how we attempt to deal with rape in our culture. I was a little startled that he his posited himself as unaware of the magnitude of this problem, but if one thing has come out of 2017’s turmoil, I’d hope it’s that no one is left unaware that one in four women experience sexual assault in their lifetime.

7) The Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman (2015): This was a fun read that blended the best of fantasy and Regency romance. I picked it up on a lark at the library because I liked the cover, and it turned out to be one of those books I simply couldn’t put down, right on through the next book in the series and a related novella. I look forward to the third installment.

8) An Ember in the Ashes/A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir (2016, 2017): This is the unfinished fantasy series keeping me on tenterhooks, supplanting Games of Thrones and The Name of the Wind as the top “next installment” that I will devour in one night when it finally is released. Ember in the Ashes has it all: an exciting story, deep world-building, juicy intrigues, epic familial drama, diverse and dimensional characters, and a slow-burning romance with a love triangle. The only trouble is the release date for Book Three keeps getting moved further out…Sabaa, please. Stop listening to all that music and get that book written!

9) His Bloody Project by Graeme Macrae Burnet (2015): This was another serendipitous find at the library, a random book I picked out for no particular reason except that I felt like reading a historical novel with a touch of mystery. I found a well-written mind-bender of a story that held me captive from start to finish. Thought-provoking, chilling, and intense, it transported me back in time in the same way Alias Grace, by Margaret Atwood did, years ago.

10) We Were Eight Years in Power by Ta-Nehisi Coates (2017): Ta-Nehisi Coates does not write to make you feel comfortable or hopeful, nor to provide solutions. But he’s a thoughtful writer, concerned with exposing the interior of his mind in the most precise way he can. I appreciate his embrace of the essay form and his painstaking explication of his thought process and his experience, and how the personal relates to the political in understanding racism in America. Reading Ta-Nehisi Coates asks you to listen in the deep way that only reading can train you to do.

Goals: December 2017

November Nanowrimo went really well. Tamara and I finished our draft (81K) of The Seventh Symphony in two weeks, making a new record for us. With all these drafts in my hands, it looks like December and January will be months of revisions, my favorite part of writing.

In November my goals were:

  1. WRITE THE SEVENTH SYMPHONY first draft with Tamara-CHECK! We did it easily. Now the draft will stew while we revise the earlier book, The Eighth Octave, to match any changes needed due to the new branch of the story.
  2. WRITE NEW BOOK IDEA, possibly titled Myra Justice-CHECK! I managed to get in about 8000 words on this, two chapters or so.
  3. Odds & Ends-CHECK! I got through a big push on the Alaska Essays editing project, getting through line edits. Now I’m heading into the photo editing part of the project, a whole new kind of problem solving for me.

December Goals:

  1. RIVER RUNNING REVISION with Tamara- We wrote Book Two in our Indigo Elements series in October. Now we need to revise Book One to mesh with it. We have a list of 26 items to fix or change, ranging from smaller, one sentence matters to larger, stickier ones such as magic system clarifications.
  2. LIGHT & SHADOW REVISION- I plan to take the second half of the month to work on Light & Shadow. I have not read it or looked at it in a few months, after doing a big revision and rewrite.
  3. WRITE NEW BOOK IDEA- I’m going to continue drafting this new idea, though again, I don’t expect to get very far.
  4. ALASKA ESSAYS- I’m going to make a big push on the organizational edit for the Alaska Essays volume I am “producing.” It’s a diverse project that involves co-ordinating various writers, editors, and contributors. I’m glad for my work with Flashdogs that helped prepare me for this kind of project!

Another cover treat. Here’s a sample cover I made for The Eighth Octave (just for fun):

teo3

 

Goals : November 2017

October proved to be an excellent writing month, as Tamara and I plunged into a Nanowrimo-before-Nano in order to draft the sequel to River Running in one month. After an early rocky patch, we pulled it off, and happily we now hold an 82,000-word draft of Wind Winging in our blistered hands.

Up next, we face the real National Novel Writing Month, during which we intend to write the sequel to The Eighth Octave. This book is titled The Seventh Symphony, and we are well prepared with an epic 19-page outline.

In other news, we have had some bites for River Running and The Eighth Octave from small presses. We are still deliberating about what the best direction will be for these two book-babies and their associated sequels, but expect some news someday in the near-ish future.

My October goals were:

  1. FINISH LIGHT & SHADOW rewrite/revision- CHECK! This was easy, as expected. Light & Shadow is now marinating until December, when it will come back into the line up for read-through and revision before being sent out for line edits.
  2. WRITE STONE SPEAKING first draft with Tamara. CHECK! We ended up renaming the book Wind Winging during the drafting process. 

My November goals will be:

  1. WRITE THE SEVENTH SYMPHONY first draft with Tamara- We plan to have a draft by Thanksgiving Day, ambitious women that we are.
  2. WRITE NEW BOOK IDEA, possibly titled Myra Justice- I don’t expect to have much time for this, but I’d like to at least get down a chapter or two. I have an outline, a few images, and an idea vaguely based on a (female) Thomas Cromwell-like character.
  3. Odds & Ends- I’m working on two related non-fiction editing projects having to do with rural life in Alaska, and Tamara and I are hoping to make some forward progress with the submissions for RR and TEO. Wish us luck!

And here’s a little treat for you–an attempt at a cover for River Running. This was just for fun. Eden Reign is a nom de plume Tamara and I made up to possibly use on our co-writes.

I’m always looking for ways to learn about photo-compositing in Photoshop. Can you guess what I worked on here?

RR1

Goals: October 2017

September was a strong and consistent month of writing for me. I’m nearly finished with my Light & Shadow rewrite and Tamara and I managed yet another small revision on The Eighth Octave after a revise & resubmit opportunity from one of the agents we pitched in New York.

In October Tamara and I have big plans to get a jump start on NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month, usually November) by writing our sequel to River Running, tentatively titled Stone Speaking. Can we write a whole book in a month, and then turn around and write a whole other book, the sequel to The Eighth Octave, tentatively titled The Seventh Symphony, in November? Two drafts in two months? Why not?

Last month my goals were:

  1. FINISH River Running AND The Eighth Octave REVISIONS and submit to requesting agents- CHECK. We are eagerly awaiting replies. We’ve had a few partial requests get bumped up to full MS requests, and we actually turned down an offer for publication that did not suit us last week. We hope for more news on our submissions this month.
  2. CONTINUE LIGHT & SHADOW rewrite/revision- CHECK I have only 2 chapters and an epilogue to go! I’ll finish the draft in October for sure.

 

October Goals:

  1. FINISH LIGHT & SHADOW rewrite/revision- Nearly there, this should be manageable.
  2. WRITE STONE SPEAKING first draft with Tamara. This will take up the bulk of my writing hours in October, but I look forward to the madness.