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.”

End of the Month Wrap-Up: January 2019!

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Writing

I started this year off by finishing the re-read of the first draft of #spookyromancenovel, taking boatloads of notes about its issues, playing around with many of my own character development questionnaires, and more playing around with a map generator so I can visualize the as-yet unnamed fictional city where all this is going down.

Reading

Even though the month isn’t strictly over yet, I feel confident saying I won’t finish my current read by tomorrow, which puts me at a rather astonishing nineteen books read this month. Why so many, even for me? I was on vacation for New Year’s, with a lot of time to read. I came down with a fever as soon as we got home–guess what, more time to read. Add the general excitement I feel about starting new reading challenges, plus a new trick I’m employing to help me choose books without delay–more on that next week–and I’m just barreling through my collection, as well as getting back to the library again!

Exercise

I love winter for many reasons, but my lack of ability to run is definitely a downside. Too cold, too icy, too dangerous. I set myself the goal of walking at least three times a week instead, and doing yoga on the other days or any day I really, really couldn’t get outdoors.

I’m doing great on the walking, not so great on the yoga.

What’s helping most? The Virtual Mount TBR Challenge, actually. The one where, instead of reading My Own Damn Books, I use whatever lending resources I have available to me to knock books I don’t own off my TBR. Saturday mornings trips to the library have become a routine already, no matter the weather, as I return one or two books and pick up one or two more. I even have a list of the first forty-ish books on my master TBR list, and where I can get them: my local branch, county loan, state loan, or electronically through Hoopla or Overdrive.

And a round trip to the library is just shy of 2.5 miles. Take that, winter. I may not be able to run safely, but I will bundle myself to the eyebrows and slog through the snow to get books.

February Goals

Start the #spn rewrite, with decent character histories and a reasonable map in place. The map will probably never make it into the book itself, but I’ll be glad to have it for reference.

Read at least ten books (far fewer to account for the shorter month and the fact that I should be writing!) including the next books in my two big series-in-progress, Live and Let Die for James Bond, and Assassin’s Quest for Realms of the Elderlings.

YOGA! YOGA! I paid for the app subscription, so I ought to be using it!

Continue my weekly trips to the library.

Have all my blog posts up on time. (I came so close this month! I only skipped one!)

End of the Month Wrap-Up: December 2018!

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In December, I finished the first draft of #spookyromancenovel! Hurray! My first completed first draft in well over year!

Since I gave myself the rest of the month off from writing, I had plenty of time to read–I got through twenty-three books, though a few of them were DNFs.

In the process, I completed all three of my major reading challenges this year: PopSugar, Mount TBR, and Expand Your Horizons.

As far as life stuff goes, I used to talk about that more in my monthly wrap-ups, but I let it go for a while because my depression has actually been easing, and I didn’t want to celebrate prematurely. But consistently over the last few months, I’ve been sleeping better, exercising more, and finding myself with plenty of energy throughout the day. (I was definitely living nap-to-nap for a while.) While I’m not remotely “cured” I am feeling far better about myself, my mental health, and my life in general than I was this time last year.

In 2019, I’m looking forward to the #spookyromancenovel rewrite and publishing process, because I didn’t publish anything in 2018. I’m also hoping to write the first draft of the next in the series, because boy-oh-boy, do I have so many ideas for future installments in this new world I’ve created.

I’ve already talked about my reading goals here, but to recap briefly: still reading a lot of My Own Damn Books but I also want to ever go to the library again and feel free to read new releases too. It isn’t a lighter year in terms of my goal for overall # of books read, but I want to give myself less structure and more freedom.

Life goals for 2019? Continuing improvement of mental and physical health. I’m making it my year of self-care, and not in the purely indulgent way. Eat healthier, eat less. Move more. Write in my journal. Make art. Take time to have fun. I know it’s all pretty standard resolution-type stuff, but since my outlook is so positive right now, I think I might actually be able to make some of it happen.

Thanks, readers, for sticking with me for another year. I hope you had a great one, and if you didn’t, I hope you can make your 2019 better!