End of the Month Wrap-Up: August 2019!

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As the weather got really hot and then decided, yeah, it’s time to be fall, apparently I stayed in and read a lot while I wasn’t writing. I got through a whopping nineteen books–though to be fair, several of those were graphic novels, which read fast for me, and two were DNFs.

Still.

On the writing front, not much is going on. I gave my beta readers more time with #spookyromancenovel, because most of them needed it for one reason or another, and I wasn’t ready to dive back in to rewriting. That’s on my plate for September, but honestly, after this revelation, I’m not eager to get back to work. I’ve got some thinking to do. In the meantime, I’ve kept up my daily writing habit with book reviews, blog posts, and journal entries. Nothing wrong with taking a breather from a big project!

I worked a lot. I mean, a lot a lot. Hence my missing a few blog posts, generally being inactive on Tumblr, and spending more time reading in my off hours than doing anything more active, because I was tired, because I was working. A lot. (In fact, I’m churning this somewhat half-assed post itself in the sliver of the morning I get before I start a ten-hour shift. I love my new job–I wouldn’t go back to my old one for anything. But it does come with longer days sometimes.)

By the same token, I didn’t exercise as consistently as I wanted to in August, but I’m using the start of a new month, as I so often do, to attempt to get back on track. As soon as I’m done with this post, it’s yoga time. I swear!

As always, I hope your August was grand, and if for whatever reason it wasn’t, I hope your September is better.

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End of the Month Wrap-Up: July 2019!

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Where did July go? How is it over already? I spent a good chunk of the early part of the month redoing our walk-in closet; there was a quick weekend getaway to an event late in the month; there was a lot of going to work, and working on writing. And reading. Of course, so much reading, so let’s start there.

Reading: Thirteen books this month. I finished the monthly challenge for The Reading Frenzy, though I did substitute two of the original books, one because I had a better choice when I thought about it, and the other because the original book was so long I might not have finished it in time. I’m still ahead of the curve on all three of my year-long challenges. It was a good month for good reads, too, I gave three books five-star ratings: Saga, Vol. 4; Caliban’s War; and Strange the Dreamer.

Writing: I started the month fantastic by finding three beta readers for #spookyromancenovel, via open call on Tumblr, in less than 24 hours. Which was about a week faster than I expected that to happen. I tested out BetaBooks as a service, only to be disappointed that I sent them a help request in that first week, and I still haven’t gotten an answer. (Yes, I’ve checked my spam folder.) I know this is only one negative incident, but it doesn’t inspire confidence; I doubt I’ll be using them for any future beta sessions. Because that happened, I ended up making a Google Doc anyway (just like I’d done for my previous three books during their beta rounds) which meant I wasn’t limited to any certain number of readers, and I picked up two more. The feedback is coming in, and it’s been helpful, though I’m trying not to look at most of it until I’m ready to sit down and do something about it. Because my extra readers got in late, I’m not holding them to the original deadline and I won’t be ready to start the next revision draft at the beginning of August, as I’d hoped. But that’s life for you.

I have been using some of this time not spent project-writing to get ahead on blog posts, to be more active on Tumblr (in spurts, anyway) and to start planning work for the next (possible) novel project, a romance in the same setting as #spookyromancenovel, involving one of its supporting characters getting her own love story. I want it to happen, I want to make this a series, but we’ll see. I’m already not thrilled about the plot I’ve constructed, because planning like this feels so forced to me, the perennial pantser. The more I work with the skeleton, though, the more ideas I get, and everyone knows outlines can change!

Everything else: The insane heat this year has kept me inside more than I’d like, so my running schedule fell apart. I’m forgiving myself, because a) I’m still adjusting to an entirely new life schedule, thanks to my new job–I’ve only been there a few months!–and b) because I’ve spent that time doing yoga instead. Which, since I’m out of practice, has led to its own frustrations, but the only way to get better is to keep doing it, so I am.

I’m journaling again, not every day but certainly more than I was any other time this year. Most of it is of the very-personal-don’t-share kind, so my journal sideblog on Tumblr hasn’t seen any action, but I wouldn’t rule it out in the near future.

Also, strangely enough given the demands on my time, I got frustrated that I’ve started so many video games in recent years and not finished them, so I made a list about a week ago, stuff that needs completion and games I want to start, old or new. Since then I’ve finished Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night and permanently abandoned King’s Quest, which I had already given up on once because Chapter 2 was so stupidly confusing, and this time because I’ve started Chapter 5 and I’m simply bored of it. The first chapter was so strong and engaging, and everything since has mostly felt like a chore.

While I have three more unfinished games that are high-priority for returning to soon, but also, we went to see Spiderman: Far From Home last week, and the PS4 Spiderman game is high on my list to start, so I think that’s happening next. I do love me some web-slinging.

Moving on to August 2019 goals:

  1. Collect, read, and digest all the beta feedback. Formulate a plan for the next draft, and time permitting, get started. While waiting to do that, continue planning its sequel.
  2. Continue doing yoga every day (or as close to every day as I can manage without injuring myself.)
  3. Run at least twice a week, preferably three times.
  4. Complete The Reading Frenzy’s challenge for August, the Bookish Treasure Hunt. (Six books)
  5. Maybe try to finish Saga? I used up my remaining Hoopla borrows for July getting volumes 5-7, so then if I use two more in August, that’s the whole series. And I can read a volume in one sitting.

End of the Month Wrap-Up: June 2019!

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Quick, somebody toast me!

June was fantastic. June saw me getting more comfortable at my day job. Exercising more. Eating better. Feeling good.

In no small part, because I finished the rewrite of #spookyromancenovel.

Writing: Yeah, you heard me. This draft is done. It grew from 97K to almost 115K–my first pass always ends up longer because I’m a chronic underwriter for setting and description. My rough drafts always focus on character and dialogue with just enough plot to string everything together, and it turns out #srn had some serious plot holes and a wonky ending. Not anymore!

Reading: I worked hard, but I let myself have time to relax. I read seventeen books. (I did mostly give up playing video games, but I was reading a lot of very excellent books instead.)

Everything else: I’m running. I’m eating more fruits and veg and fewer junky snacks. I’m sleeping well, except for when the heat is NUTS. I won’t bore you with more detail than that.

So, July Goals:

  1. Read up on the beta process. My method for the first three books I published got increasingly difficult as my dedicated betas from book one dried up by book three. I intend to use BetaBooks, but that’s just by word-of-mouth recommendation: I haven’t done any real investigation to see if that’s my best option, I may go another route.
  2. Set up the beta and find readers!
  3. Start a new book. Yeah, good old nose-to-the-grindstone drafting process: I don’t expect to put out a huge wordcount on this while managing the beta as well, but I also know I can’t spend all my time obsessing over the feedback, or waiting for it. I’ve got to have something new to work on.
  4. The Reading Frenzy’s July Circus-a-thon Challenge! I’m reading Anansi Boys right now.

Bonus for productivity: my husband’s going to be away for a week, while I’m at home. I’ll miss him, but I intend to get so. much. done.without our usual daily routine in place.

End of the Month Wrap-Up: May 2019!

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May proved to be pretty excellent, all things considered. My new job is going well. We took a weekend trip to Chicago for a family wedding and managed to sneak in some of the sights in our free time. I read a lot and wrote so so much.

Reading: Yay! Fifteen books total, though that includes five DNF’d romance novels. I participated in two book-club challenges, and one of them was “Try a Chapter,” specifically geared toward dropping books if you gave them a shot and weren’t enjoying them. Ironically, I did finish one of those five books–the final DNF was after the challenge, but life’s too short for bad books.

Writing: SUPER! Though the development came late in the month, I got clued into 750words.com and kicked my self back into a daily (re)writing habit. As of yesterday, I’ve plowed through 23K of my #spookyromancenovel revision draft, after struggling since the beginning of the year to make any real progress. I’d work on it for a day or two, feel stumped about a change, then ignore it for weeks–not productive! My (optimistic) goal is to have the draft done by the end of June and set up the beta read in early July. My (slightly more realistic goal) is to probably need a bit of June to finish the draft, and to have the beta read going by the end of July. Either way, it’s better than I’ve been doing.

Exercise: Pretty Good! I’m running consistently again, minus taking a few days off because of a mild bout of tonsillitis. Planning to run today. Hoping to work yoga back into my routine this month as well.

Overall Mood: Things are getting better! It’s hard not to tie my happiness to my writing productivity, so I’m definitely feeling good that I’m getting more done. But this past month also included my birthday, which was fun. And I’ve been making more time for my other hobbies–I’m playing video games again! I’m cross-stitching! I’m half-heartedly trying to learn a musical instrument! (That part’s not going quite as well, but it’s still fun.)

End of the Month Wrap-Up: April 2019!

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I had a lot going on in April, with the new job and all. Which is going well! But I’m not here to talk about that–I’m here, as always, to talk about how well I did on my reading and writing goals this month.

Reading: Yay! Even with my decreased free time, I still managed to read nine books in April. I was hoping for at least two a week, and I did it. With full reviews, still.

Writing: Meh! My mandatory half-hour of writing time quickly got lost, as did my motivation to rewrite #spookyromancenovel. However, when I realized I could sneak in a paragraph here and there during downtime at my job, I squeezed out about 6K on an old project (my unfinished NaNoWriMo 2017 novel, surprisingly enough) and have definitely been spending plenty of quality daydreaming time on where it’s going.

The Life Reboot in General: Semi-successful! I haven’t been meeting my exercising goals either, but I’m still eating healthier.

Overall Mood: Tired, but hopeful for May. Still want to read at least two books a week, which will be eased by a new Mini Challenge from one of my Goodreads groups, The Reading Frenzy–“Try a Chapter.” I committed to reading at least the first chapter of five books (in my case, five romance novels languishing on my Kindle) and deciding whether to keep them around or chuck them. If you saw my book review post last Friday, I’ve already shot one down!

End of the Month Wrap-Up: March 2019!

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This has been one doozy of a month, as my repeated absences show. I applied and interviewed for a new job, got it, went on a family vacation that had been in the works for months, then came home to start said new job the very next day.

So far, the job itself is fantastic. My boss and coworkers have gone out of their way to make me feel welcome, and as comfortable as it’s possible for someone to be who’s resetting their entire life. Because I’m working longer hours overall, and certainly later hours, which has forced a top-to-bottom rescheduling of my entire routine.

The good news? I’m already exercising more regularly and eating healthier, because if I’m doing a life reboot, why not use the opportunity to form better habits, right?

The other good news is that a half-hour writing session immediately after breakfast is now mandatory. On my days off, hopefully I’ll get to put in more time and make more progress, but I was seriously stuck and having trouble “finding” time in my older, more open schedule. Now that it’s tighter, that was the spur I needed to finally make time to write.

The bad news…well, so far, the activity that’s suffered most is reading. I think I read for about ten minutes total my first day of work, and only about half an hour on the second. (Yes, I know, some of my old reading time should have been writing time. What can I say, reading is easier!)

After I adjust to my new responsibilities, I hope reading will bounce back. And I still think I can get a book in a week, if I read a fair bit on my days off. But fair warning: my days of four or even five book reviews a week might be over.

As for the blog, I have plans for the next several posts and intend to bang some out over my “weekend” to get ahead, so ideally, I’ll be around more. And with #spookyromancenovel back in production, I should have plenty to talk about.

End of the Month Wrap-Up: February 2019!

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I feel like the winter is never going to end and this snow will never go away, but it’s March now, so by the end of the month it should be at least trying to be spring again!

Writing

Still struggling. No real progress to report. Not super happy about that.

Reading

I read twelve books in February, two more than my goal–but I’d lowered my goal significantly from my January reading in order to get more writing time in (which totally didn’t work out.)

I am still quite a bit ahead of the curve on all of my year-long reading challenges.

Exercise

My weekly walk to the library is still happening, so that’s good, and I’m getting out for other, shorter walks whenever the weather is tolerable enough. I still haven’t done as much yoga as I intended to. Not super happy about that, either.

Other Stuff

I finished knitting a sweater for my husband, and once that was done, randomly picked up an old cross-stitch kit my MIL gave me years ago. I’m enjoying being crafty again.

Also, after the book-Twitter debacle-debate surrounding Marie Kondo’s Netflix series Tidying Up and how she (supposedly) attacks book lovers, I decided to actually watch it. I’ve seen five episodes so far and don’t feel at all attacked, and while I haven’t put all my books into a giant pile to sort them, I already use the spirit of her “does it spark joy?” principle–I don’t keep books I don’t like once I’ve read them, and I have on occasion ditched books unread because I know I won’t read them.

I intend to finish the series soon, and while I probably won’t be embarking on a full KonMari journey to reorder my life, I’ve already been applying some of her storage strategies on a small scale to neaten up some parts of my home. Super happy about that, at least.

March Goals

Really, for real, get back into the habit of writing. Really. I just need to figure out how to approach it, because so far I still feel blocked/inadequate/afraid.

Start running again as soon as the weather permits, and run as often as possible. I miss it so much! Fill in other forms of exercise as necessary for crappy weather.

Read at least twelve books. I didn’t get to Assassin’s Quest in February like I hoped, so I should move that to the top of my priority list.

Buy fewer books! I did pick up three from the book sale room on my last library trip, but only three, and hopefully I won’t get any more. I’m caught between the mentality of “I have so many books already” and “but it’s here and I know I want to read it and I can buy it for pennies.”