Holiday Watch List

Here are my annual Christmas watches, listed in no particular order:

  • Krampus
  • 8-Bit Christmas
  • "Seasonal Beatings" - Peep Show
  • A Christmas Story
  • Gremlins
  • Christmas Vacation
  • Violent Night
  • "Christmas" - Friday Night Dinner
  • Elf
  • How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)
  • Home Alone
  • Edward Scissorhands
  • Klaus
  • A Boy Called Christmas

July 2023: Annwyn's Metamorphosis, After Wendy's Revisions, and the Months to Come

July has been nuts! With the family vacation behind me, and my son's best friend moving away this week, it's been a hectic and emotional roller coaster.

Yet I still finished the Secrets of Annwyn scaffolding outline and prologue. Given how long Annwyn has taken up real estate in my head, it's freeing to finally get it down on paper. With over 60,000 words in character and plot development, and another 40,000 words in false starts, I'm on track and falling in love with writing again.

After Wendy is coming along. Transcription-style revisions are murder, but I'm trekking along and making it shine. If all goes well, I'll have a polished first act by the Colorado Gold Conference in September.

The kids go back to school on August 14, and I can't wait to have more time to write and create.

On the docket for August: writing 15,000 words of Annwyn; revising chapters eight through ten of After Wendy; editing; judging RMFW's anthology submissions; and perfecting my pitch for Colorado Gold.

Favorite Universal Studios Attraction: Hogsmeade Village

Favorite Re-Watch: Peep Show

August TBR:

My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell

Eldritch Punks by Oliver Blakemore

The Water Outlaws by S.L. Huang

The Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss

June 2023: Projects and Tentative Summer Reads

For the past two months, I've been hard at work world building the Doors of Annwyn series, revising After Wendy, and drafting a sci-fi short story. I'm hoping to have the prologue for The Secrets of Annwyn finished by the end of July, the sci-fi story, "A Message from Beyond", complete and ready for submissions by mid August, and the After Wendy revisions nearly complete by the beginning of September.

Favorite read: Wild Spaces by S.L. Coney

Favorite watch: The OA (a rewatch)

Summer Tenative TBR:

Brainwyrms by Alison Rumfitt (Tor Nightfire ARC)

The Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss

It by Stephen King

The Water Outlaws by S.L. Huang (Tor ARC)

April 2023: Revising, WIPs, and Upcoming Writing Conferences

This month has been a bit of a mess. I began with a couple short stories and ended with the goal of penning 126,000 words (or so) of The Secrets of Annwyn by mid-August.

Despite my reluctance to begin my epic fantasy series too early, I've since backpedaled, realizing I would much rather write about Cassilyn, Fenwick, and Marlowe than anyone else. I have set a goal of 8,400 words written a week and believe that's manageable—even with the looming summer break at the end of May.

Apart from Annwyn, I've been reading through After Wendy and making notes for new scenes. Fingers crossed I have it revised, polished, and ready to go by September, when I pitch to an agent in person.

I will be attending the Nebula conference from the comfort of my home in a couple weeks and will be attending—and running a workshop—at the Colorado Gold Conference in September.

Favorite Watch: Nope

Favorite Read: The Gemarine Chronicles by JP McDonald

May TBR:

Fractal Noise (ARC) by Christopher Paolini

Demon Riding Shotgun by LR Braden

Conscious Designs by Nathanial White

Wistful Ascending by JCM Berne

The First Bright Thing (ARC) by JR Dawson

March 2023: Works In Progress and Upcoming Projects

This month has been interesting. After pushing off Annwyn's first draft, I've focused my creative efforts on smaller works of fiction. I'm currently writing a climate-focused story for an upcoming anthology and will move onto a piece about a clairvoyant soon after.

In April, I plan on revising and adding to After Wendy, polishing my short story, working on Annwyn's cultures, and outlining a vampire apocalypse novel.

Favorite read: Some Desperate Glory by Emily Tesh

Favorite listen: The Publishing Rodeo Podcast

April TBR:

To Sleep in a Sea of Stars by Christopher Paolini

Fractal Noise (ARC) by Christopher Paolini

Witch King (ARC) by Martha Wells

Looking Glass Sound (ARC) by Catriona Ward

Schrader's Chord (ARC) by Scott Leeds

The Hard Decision to Postpone Annwyn

The Many Doors of Annwyn series has been rattling around in my head, in varying fragments and stages of maturity, for three years. Now that I have a real grasp on the series' scope, I've come to the realization that I'm not yet skilled enough to tackle such a complex world.

For those who aren't writers, this admission might seem odd. If you have the ideas, aren't you ready to put pen to paper? Unfortunately, it isn't that simple. Yes, I have the main plot threads nailed down, but I don't yet know how to turn the vision I have into the story I wish it to be. If I tackled it now, I'd only fall short of the world I want to create, both for myself and for my target audience. It would be lacking the worldbuilding and complexity a project so epic and fantastical desperately needs.

So, as much as it pains me to say it, I've taken a step back. I hope that after another book or two I'll be ready for Annwyn, but it's impossible to determine how much time it will take to reach the level of craft I'm aiming for.

What comes next will be a fantasy, though I'm not sure where I'm going with it yet. I'm also working on a sci-fi short story that I'll share in a newsletter once it's polished and ready for submission.

After Wendy's Untimely Conception

With reluctance, I am pulling After Wendy from the query trenches. The market is saturated with retellings, the word count isn't standard, and it doesn't fit neatly into genre expectations. While I would love to see this book in print sooner rather than later, I am shelving it because I don't feel it would do well as an independently published novel either. While there are romantic elements, I worry there isn't enough for those seeking a YA romance. Instead, it's a coming-of-age story with a romantic subplot and a fair amount of monsters and bleakness. Maybe once the retelling craze has died down, I'll give it another go.

February 2023: The Secrets of Annwyn and the Publishing Conundrum

Last week, I finally nailed down the main plot for The Secrets of Annwyn. This series, which has had its overarching conflict for going on two years, is officially ready to write. I'll be working on a map, my magic system rules and limitations, and character arcs before I begin chapter one next week. I hope to have a running word count to share next month.

After Wendy has proven difficult to sell. If you've been with me since Lipstick Covered Magnet, you won't be surprised by my inability to write to market. I'm hoping that a final revision, to add more monsters and tension, will bump up the word count closer to market standards. If I still can't find anyone interested, I might independently publish. Even if it means I make less money, I'd rather it be available to anyone who wishes to read it.

Favorite read: Boys in the Valley by Philip Fracassi

Favorite watch: The Queen's Gambit

March TBR (many rolled over from February):

Night's Edge by Liz Kerin (Tor Nightfire)

A House with Good Bones by T. Kingfisher (Tor)

Camp Damascus by Chuck Tingle (Tor Nightfire)

Some Desperate Glory by Emily Tesh (Tordotcom)

To Sleep in a Sea of Stars by Christopher Paolini (Tor)

January 2023: This Year's Writing Goals

The Secrets of Annwyn—first book in the high fantasy Doors of Annwyn series, completed first draft

A Part of Me—emo YA romance, finished and ready to query

Jagged Edges—Victorian horror, completed first draft

After Wendy—Peter Pan sequel, continue querying

Sci-fi pilot—script completed

Two sci-fi/fantasy short stories, submitted to magazines and anthologies

This month's favorite reads: Untethered Sky by Fonda Lee and How to Cook and Eat the Rich by Sunyi Dean

February TBR (all ARCs):

The Saint of Bright Doors by Vajra Chandrasekera (Tor)

Gwen and Art Are Not in Love by Lex Croucher (St. Martin's Press)

Hopeland by Ian McDonald (Tor)

Boys in the Valley by Philip Fracassi (Tor Nightfire)

Night's Edge by Liz Kerin (Tor Nightfire)

The Last Beekeeper by Julie Carrick Dalton (Tor Forge)

A House with Good Bones by T. Kingfisher (Tor)

Some Desperate Glory by Emily Tesh (Tordotcom)

2022 Wrap Up

A brief look at 2022's high and low points

This year has been full of highs and lows. I published my first novel, Lipstick Covered Magnet, and finished my sophomore title, After Wendy. I have been an ARC reviewer over the past year and have loved getting to read books before they hit the market. I've also relaunched my editing side gig, and it's nice to feel important and vital to another author's process.

But the querying process and self-publishing journey haven't been peachy. As I query again, I'm confronted with the rejection or silence from agents and the brick wall that rests between me and traditional publishing. "The market is already full of retellings," I was told. But I don't intend to give up without a fight. If it turns out that my Peter Pan sequel falls into a drawer, due to poor timing, I'm fine with that.

After this year's struggles with self-marketing, social media engagement, and the stress of constant promotion, I've decided to wait it out, until a novel of mine finally breaks through. Despite the anxiety and monetary strain that going indie with LCM brought, I'm happy I tried doing it on my own. At least now I know it isn't for me.

Favorites of 2022

Read published in 2022: The Book Eaters by Sunyi Dean

Read published before 2022: The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

Indie read: Traces by Sophie Johannis

Yet-to-be-released read: Maeve Fly by CJ Leede

Publisher: Tor

American TV show: Stranger Things 4

International TV show: 1899

Rewatch: The OA

Family movie: Pinocchio

R-rated movie: Barbarian

Album: Decide by Djo

Writing-related gadget: Alphasmart typewriter

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