February 2017 In Review

I’m back for a second “In Review” Post, however, I decided to change the layout this time. I might tweak it again next month, so please bear with me as I work toward a format that I like.

Now personally, I’m constantly reviewing my life to see where I can improve, what I can get rid of, and make sure I don’t get caught up in the “you should be doing this” (total bullshit, BTW) rather than the “I want to be doing this”. I’ve learned from my mistakes in writing for business rather than pleasure and it’s not something I want to repeat. (I promise! Really! LOL OK, so probably not so much.)


So, my Life this Month… 

Ran smoothly for the most part, thanks for asking. 😀

No surprise firestorms or hurricanes, although there was a lot of snowstorms  this month, and even a snow day or two. We were even able to make it to the orthodontist for a six-week checkup and back without incident.  Little T, my oldest daughter, might have her braces off sooner than planned. YAY! But Little K, my youngest daughter, still has a few months and should have an x-ray soon to see if she has the needed room for her teeth to come in properly.

I’m looking forward to the braces being gone. The extra time taking care of them and travel to their offices and back is a pain in the ass.

This month I spent most of my mornings hanging out with hubby before he heads to work, writing during the four hours that I have before the girls get home, and hanging out with the girls for the rest of the evening before bed.

Little K came home around the first of the month with a desire to do Yoga. She was inspired by a teacher who showed the girls how to do the “Crow” (outside link for the interested). Ever since we’ve been trying to integrate Bedtime Yoga into our evenings although with less advanced positions. I’m just not that balanced. LOL


My Goal to Finish Writing 5 Books in 2017

This went awesome!

I really want to finish writing all the five books in The Queen’s Rebellion Series (crossing my fingers that I won’t find a reason to write more. I believe five books in a series is my limit.). I started these books in 2014 and due to personal and family stuff I wasn’t able to finish them. Now I’m back to writing and working toward finishing them. I know, “It’s about damn time!”

Now this goal doesn’t include editing or publishing the books, although I’m hoping to get that done this year too. First, I want to finish writing the entire series before I even think about editing them. However, I’m looking toward a 2018 release date for all five books and the series box set.

There was one draw back this month, but it turned out to be the best one so far. When I finished The Warlord’s Daughter and started writing The Scout’s Captive, I had this niggling feeling that something was off with the story and so I finally broke down and printed off all 340 pages (that’s 8.5″x11″ sized pages, not 5.5″x8.5″ sized pages) to look over. I found that I needed to make some changes that I wasn’t expecting but which improved the stories of each book. You can read more about in Listening to my Inner Writer.

Due to these changes, I’m hoping that I will be finishing the books ahead of schedule.

the_warlords_daughter_1_webThe Warlord’s Daughter

Phase: writing completed 01/5/2017
Word Count: 66,715 (but only because I moved two scenes to TSC. I have two, possible three scenes to write.)
Due: February 1st

the_scouts_captive_2_webThe Scout’s Captive

Phase: Writing
Word Count:  78,422
Due: April 1st

the_lost_heir_3_web

The Lost Heir

Phase: Waiting to be written
Word Count: 27,734
Due: June 1st

the_empty_throne_4_webThe Empty Throne 

Phase: Waiting to be written
Word Count: 27,910
Due: September 1st

the_rebel_queen_5_web

The Rebel Queen

Phase: Waiting to be written
Word Count: 43,039
Due: December 31st


 My Goal to Write Everyday &
Write 300,000 New Words in 2017

Part of my writing goals for 2017 is to write every weekday and add 300,000 new words this year. This month has required a little more discipline on my part because Hubby’s work schedule changed and so my schedule had to change with it. So no more writing in the morning after the kids leave. 😦

Most days I’m forced to wait until the afternoon to start writing and by then I’m tired or distracted by other things. I wish I could say that the change is easy for me, but I’m a very routine oriented and the constant back and forth every month screws me up for a few days to most of the month.

Even with the change in schedule, the word count and writing every weekday goals went better than I thought they did. Despite thinking that I would take the weekends off, I usually ended up writing something, even if I did it old school and wrote a scene in my notebook rather than on my laptop.

Days I wrote: 20
Days I didn’t write: 8

February’s Word Count for February: 28,346 new words
Total Word Count for 2017:
 62,979 new words

Note: The 300,000 words doesn’t include words written for blog posts or web pages unless it was something creative. I am using a Excel program from Svenja Gosen to keep track of my progress and I would suggest it to anyone who wants to do the same. I’ve used this spreadsheet on and off every year since 2014.


My Goal to Write in my Work/Writing Journal

After reading Working Days: The Journals of The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck, I decided that I wanted to keep a writing journal for my works-in-progress. I started this goal in December in my Bullet Journal.

In January 2017, I started to use one of the journals I’ve had lying around forever. So far I like how it is turning out. I don’t always remember to write in it before I start writing but I figure it’s a work-in-progress.

work-journal

I believe I bought this leather journal in 2001 with several refill journals and never used it. Ah, such is the life of a writer.


And My Office Goal

Yet another goal of mine is to create an inspiring work space, which I knew wasn’t going to be easy when I made the goal because even though we are living in a house that is two to three times larger than our cabin, my office area is smaller than ever.

officebefore

My old office in the cabin was roughly 4’x8′ and there was more storage space with my printer stand/shelves & filing cabinet that you can’t see in the picture.

office

My office space now is about 2’x4′ and doesn’t include the filing cabinet which holds other paperwork unrelated to me at all or my printer stand/shelves which was re-purposed for something to do with movies.

Since I’m once more in the living room, which is filled with distractions and very limited on space, and everything I need for writing has to be on the desk, I’ve had to make some changes like:

  • The wire basket on the left side of my desk holds notes for current writing projects, my day planner, and blog notes. Then if I have to work somewhere else, like the kitchen table or the counter in our bathroom, I can take the basket with me. Anything I don’t need for the moment has to be stored elsewhere in the house (which is really annoying).
  • The big black binder on my desk is my story binder for The Queen’s Rebellion. It holds all my notes on the world and characters for the series, plus pictures and maps and timelines. I found the printed version much easier than the digital one. It’s in need of an update though. (My favorite how to create a series binder explanation is on YouTube by author Kami Garcia.)
  • The black book on the right of my laptop is the work/writing journal I mentioned above. It’s where I record all the boring details of what I’m writing, how I feel about what I wrote, ideas for the stories, etc.
  • The stacks of crap in the shelves on the right side of my desk is everything I’m working on making digital or that I need close by. It’s been a goal of mine for a few years now to make my office as digital as possible. I’ve been going through all my papers when I have time and deciding what to keep and what to toss. When I have the chance I type up notes for future books (I love using Scrivener for this. I find it very helpful) and any notes I’ve made while reading books or articles (I like OneNote for this).
  • Since my desk faces the window and I have no walls to hang my corkboard of inspiring quotes, writing calendar, dry erase board for notes, or pictures, I’m creating a desktop slide show for quotes and pictures, and my planner for my writing calendar. So far I have eighteen pictures or inspiring quotes. I’ve been thinking of placing it on this website as a freebie for other writers, but I have to look into copyright issues first.

If I could find another space in the house for my office space that didn’t include me getting rid of my awesome desk or our furniture, I would do it in a heartbeat, but it’s not possible. Trust me, I’ve looked. 😦


My Plans for Next Month…

Are limited to watching for that first cow who is going to calve, feeding the livestock, working toward finishing The Scout’s Captive, and starting The Lost Heir.

Wishing you all the best,

Listening to my Inner Writer

You would think after twenty years of writing, I would learn this simple lesson: Listen to your Intuition, your inner writer knows what it is doing. But apparently I haven’t, or maybe I should say, that it is harder than I thought to listen to the whispering voice that is telling me that I have to do something differently with the story.

the_warlords_daughter_1_webShortly after finishing The Warlord’s Daughter in January, that small niggling that something was off in the story intensified. As I worked through the scenes of The Scout’s Captive, that feeling grew stronger. By the first week of February, the niggling that something was off had become a shout to “Stop!”

Unlike last time, where that inner voice was telling me that there was something wrong with plot of the story, this time it was making a suggestion that I completely ignored. Why? Because I’m frugal with money and I didn’t want to waste paper or ink printing off everything.

So I had this burning desire to write the next part of the story and every time I sat down to do it I totally froze up. My inner writer was refuses to let me go any farther until I paid attention to it. Which is why I took the time to print out all the books, spent the last five days not writing so I could reassess the elements and structure of my stories, and making any structural changes. I got the idea for this from Twin Creatives.

I might have lost a few days of adding new words to the books by debating the merit of every scene I’d written or that I planned to write in all five books, but in the end it was worth the time I took away from writing.

the_scouts_captive_2_webThe story structure really needed to be assessed because there were more than a few scenes that needed to be moved, added, deleted or merged. There was an entire section of scenes in books four and five that needed to be moved, merged, and deleted that made me glad that I hadn’t started writing them.

The unexpected changes that I made helped tighten and improve the story plot of each book, and reading through a hard copy of the stories also helped me understand the main plot of each book better. However, the changes to The Warlord’s Daughter shortened the books significantly, but I prefer a shorter story that moves the story along then a longer one brimming with filler scenes that don’t progress the plot. The Scout’s Captive, The Rebel Queen, and The Empty Throne gained quite a few scenes that enhance the plots of each story instead of taking away from them.

One change that I really didn’t expect was that I realization that the order of The Rebel Queen and The Empty Throne may have to be switched, but I’m going to wait until I’m a little further along before making that determination. I believe the only book that didn’t change much was The Lost Heir.

The small drawback won’t affect my goal to finish writing all five books in The Queen’s Rebellion Series this year. If anything it will help me finish them before their deadlines and get them ready to be published next year.

Wishing you all the best this February,

Welcome to 2017!

I hope your holiday break was as fun and productive as mine. I spent most of my free time working on finishing The Warlord’s Daughter (both productive and fun), putting together puzzles with my girls (possibly not so productive but it was really fun), working on my latest stitching project (more meditative), and spending quality time with my family (both productive and fun).

Now that our girls are back to school it’s time for me to buckle down for some heavy writing sessions this month. But first, I wanted to give you all a preview of what I’m doing in 2017.

~ Reading 55 Books in 2017 ~

I made the goal to read 50 fiction books and 5 non-fiction books this year. I’ll be making a monthly post about the books I read that month on my blog.  I wish I could say that I picked them all out ahead of time, but since I don’t know what each week will bring I thought the better plan would be to pick them out as I went along. The fiction will be a mix of novels, novellas, and short stories.


~ Writing 5 Books in 2017 ~

When I posted my writing goals for 2017 in December I mentioned that I wanted to finish writing 5 books in 2017. Those books include the entire The Queen’s Rebellion Series. They are: The Warlord’s Daughter (#1), The Scout’s Captive (#2), The Lost Heir (#3), The Empty Throne (#4), and The Rebel Queen (#5). This is where most of my focus will be for the next 12 months. My hope is to have all 5 book written, edited, and on pre-order so that I can publish them throughout 2018.

To accomplish this I had to rethink my entire writing game plan. I’m going to have to be focused, organized, and disciplined in my writing. Which is code for “stop goofing around on Pinterest and playing Solitaire or Sudoku on the computer during writing time, Stephannie!”

So I started 2017 by erasing all the games from my computer, weaning myself off Pinterest (started this in December), downloading the new version of the Cold Turkey app (December 31st), and making my writing schedule for 2017. While I don’t want to push myself too hard and burn out, I also like to aim for the moon, maybe then I can land among the stars (LOL). So while I made my goals attainable, I decided to challenge myself with an added bonus to inspire me. If I finish these 5 books before my scheduled deadline then I get a prize. Incentives are really great for people like me. 😀

I will be writing a post at the beginning of each month to let you all know where I am in my goals.  This is where I am so far in the books…

The Warlord’s Daughter (Book 1)

the_warlords_daughter_1_web

Click on the picture to read the description

I was about 70,000 words into this book in December 2016. My word goal for the book started out at 85,000 but I as I reached my goal I realized that the story wasn’t done so I changed my word goal for the books to a 100,000. During the holiday season, I started on the complete overhaul of the scenes in The Warlord’s Daughter and even got around to writing some new scenes that I needed.

As of January 1st, I have around 93,000 words done and about 8,000 to go. I should be done with this book before my deadline.

Deadline: February 1st
Status so far: 92,974 words written of my 100,000 Word Count Goal
My Incentive for finishing this book: Buy Miracle Morning for Writers. I love the idea behind the Miracle Morning Routine, however, what I learned about it didn’t mesh with my kinda chaotic schedule. I stumbled upon one for writers and figured it would be a good incentive to work

The Scout’s Captive (Book 2)

the_scouts_captive_2_web

Click on the picture to read the description

I’m not as far along in this book as some of the others, but mostly because I took more than half this book away to create The Warlord’s Daughter.

This book will take more fleshing out as most of the big scenes are already written, although I have a few ideas for new scenes that I will be adding.

Deadline: April 1st
Status so far: 32,755 words written of my 100,000 Word Count Goal
My Incentive for finishing this book: Buy that Tibetan Singing Bowl I’ve been eyeing for the last two years to add to my meditation collection.

The Lost Heir (Book 3)

the_lost_heir_3_web

Click picture to read the description

This one should pretty much write itself as I know where this book is going and as with The Scout’s Captive all the big scenes are written. Side Note: If I finish The Warlord’s Daughter and The Scout’s Captive early, the deadline for this book will shift to compensate. It wouldn’t be much of a challenge if I had an extra month to three months to finish this book.

Deadline: June 1st 2017
Status so far: 50,905 words written of my 100,000 Word Count Goal
My Incentive for finishing this book: Buy three books from my wishlist.

The Empty Throne (Book 4)

the_empty_throne_4_web

Click on the picture to read the description

This is one of those books that I don’t have much done on. The scenes in this book are where I stopped because I had written myself into a corner and needed to figure out some plot holes. I have a better idea where the books are going so I’m hoping by the time I get to writing it it will go fast.

Side Note: Even if I’m ahead on my book writing goals the deadlines I will probably not change the deadlines for The Empty Throne or The Rebel Queen. I going to be writing these books during the Summer and Fall months when my girls are out of school and there is a lot going on around the Ranch. I’m pushing it with the deadlines I have already.

Deadline: September 1st 2017
Status so far: 3,233 words written of my 100,000 Word Count Goal
My Incentive for finishing this book: Wacom Digital Graphics Tablet. I’m not sure what model as the one on my wishlist is now years old and out of day. I have to do some research.

The Rebel Queen (Book 5)

the_rebel_queen_5_web

Click on the picture to read the description

I have a vague notion of where this book is going but other than the opening chapter that refused to go away, I have nothing else written. I’m hoping to have several ideas for scenes ready by the time I write this book.

Deadline: December 31st 2017
Status so far: 9,167 words written of my 100,000 Word Count Goal
My Incentive for finishing this book: Buy a new tablet as my old one died at the end of 2016. Yeah, I know. Why am I waiting a whole year? Because I still have a Kindle I can read my books on for the moment.


Wishing you all the best for the New Year!

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