Fiction Blog, Writing Updates

Monthly Update: March 2018

March was a month just for me. After finally recognizing my burnout in February, I set aside all “non-essential” activities and focused on de-stressing and enjoying life. Between a trip home to visit family and friends in Kansas, my birthday, and lots of support from Daniel, it was easier than I expected to relax and recharge.

bullet journalWhile I’m recommitting to some goals in April, there are others that I will cut loose. As part of this, I’ve started a bullet journal, where I can combine my calendar and objectives in a custom layout that perfectly fits my needs. Going forward, I want to maintain a better balance and keep the perspective I gained this month. There’s very little that I have to do to survive, so everything I choose to do should add value and joy to my life. It’s something we all know but often forget. I hope it’s a good reminder for you too.

Writing

It seems I’m the tortoise in 2018 — slow and steady writing, which will eventually accumulate into a complete book. Right now, my focus is consistency as opposed to output, so as long as I keep plodding along, that’s good enough for me. In addition to working on Desertera #4, I’ve been dabbling with an unrelated short story… which I may or may not share, as it’s not sci-fi or fantasy, and I don’t plan to publish it (it’s more a private learning exercise).

Other Projects

recording set upAsk Me Anything Videos I recorded the March AMA, and you can watch it here. You’ll learn how I invented Desertera’s setting, how to find an editor for your own books, and more.

Parallel Magic Podcast If you haven’t tuned into the podcast I host with Jonas Lee yet, you’re missing out. In this month’s most popular episode, we debated Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Listen in for one of my rare negative rants.

Reading

After reading six books in February, I chose not to ready any in March. I did, however, read and review several short stories for a writer group to which I belong. Daniel and I also watched several new movies: highlights for me included Thoroughbreds, Tomb Raider, and Ready Player One.

Personal Life

flying homePhysical health Okay, so the whole “eating healthy” thing kind of went off the rails. But can you blame me when I had a birthday (hello, Dairy Queen ice cream cake!) and my mom’s home cooking? I didn’t think so. Exercise suffered a bit during my vacation as well, but I kept on top of it at the beginning and end of the month. I’m actually surprised how much I’m enjoying it!

Mental health After recognizing the extent of my burnout at the end of last month, I gave myself a break from self-imposed stress in March. I focused on enjoying my time with family, indulging in TV/movies, and spending quality time with Daniel and Thomas. Heading into April, I’m finally feeling recharged! I’m getting back to my goals, but still focusing on not overextending myself.

April Goal

Win Camp NaNoWriMo! For April’s Camp session, I’m tracking my progress in hours instead of word count. As I wade back into the deeper waters of creativity, I know my biggest challenge is putting in the time and staying positive. So, rather than beat myself up over hitting a particular number of words, all I have to do is show up and try my best. It’s taken a lot of the pressure off and already made me more productive!


What did you accomplish in March? What are your April or Camp NaNoWriMo goals? Share in the comments!

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Fiction Blog, Writing Updates

Monthly Update: February 2018

Like a lot of people — entrepreneurial and Type A people, in particular — I’ve fallen victim to the romanticism of DOING ALL THE THINGS. Yes, I can absolutely work a full-time job, manage a household, be a good wife/daughter/friend, grow my author business, exercise four times a week, and pursue other personal goals all at once. And yes, that does make me something of a super-human. Yay me!

Under StoneImagine my surprise when I finally figured out what’s been bothering me since December… I’ve burnt out. Hard. Bad. And I didn’t even realize it until February.

In spite of all logic, I’m still allured by the “do-it-all” mentality. I believe that it genuinely works for some people (all the indie publishing podcasts are full of brilliant examples of that), and it has worked for me at certain points in my life. But it doesn’t work anymore… at least it doesn’t right now.

At this point, I feel like I’m only able to do a select few things well. Ironically, these are aspects of my life I’ve struggled with for… well, my whole life. They’re also areas of personal improvement, which act as the foundation for my intellectual and creative goals. Exercising? Doing it and loving it! Meeting my daily step goal? Yes, sir, Mr. FitBit overlord! Reading a book a week? Easy peasy!

As for my other goals, they’re not going quite as well. I’ve come to two options about this. 1) I can accept this and focus on making even more progress where I’m currently rocking it OR 2) I can re-evaluate my goals and routine to achieve a better balance. I have a lot of thinking to do about what these goals mean and the larger implications for my present situation and potential future. In another twist of irony, I think I’ve reached my “quarter-life crisis” a year late!

Kansas KateEven though this year is off to an unexpected, weirdly existential beginning, I’m excited for March. It’s my birthday month, and I’m spending a week of it at home in Kansas. I’m hoping a little “vacation” and surrounding myself with loved ones will help me sort through some of these lingering issues. If nothing else, it will be wonderful to see my family and celebrate year 26.

Before I ramble anymore and turn this into a full-on journal entry, here’s a look back at my February.

Writing

Due to focusing on personal goals, I didn’t make as much writing progress as I’d hoped. I did write a new short story, though I’m not at a place to explain why or share it with you all yet. However, Camp NaNoWriMo is on the horizon, and I plan to participate this April. It’s been a good way to jumpstart my writing in the past, so hopefully it helps this year too!

Other Projects

Parallel Magic PodcastAsk Me Anything Videos I recorded the February AMA, and you can watch it here. The video reveals the main character of Desertera #4, as well as some of my top writing tips and book recommendations.

Parallel Magic Podcast The podcast is still going strong! Jonas and I released two episodes this month, discussing Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff and A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle. Check it out here.

Reading

The Making of Salem by Robin Derosa 3/5 stars — An interesting examination of how the events of the Salem Witchcraft Trials have been portrayed in historical texts, literature, film, and the tourism industry.

Under Stone by Helen Jones 5/5 stars — The fourth book in the Ambeth Chronicles. Alma’s journey is nearing its end, but the palace intrigue and scheming has reached an all-time high!

Ready Player OneA Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle 4/5 stars — Finally reach the children’s classic, but wish I would have done so as a child. Charming and imaginative, but Meg drove me nuts!

The Book of Imaginary Beings by Jorge Luis Borges 5/5 stars — A cool “coffee table book” with short entries on monsters and creatures from around the world. Fun and quick read.

A History of Vampires in New England by Thomas D’Agostino 4/5 stars — Explains how myths of vampires started with tuberculosis and dives into several historical accounts of vampire exorcisms. So interesting!

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline 5/5 stars — A fun race for the ultimate prize through an awesome virtual reality world. Lots of spunk, a little bit of danger, and more 80s references than you’ll ever want or need.

Personal Life

Video GamesPhysical health Crushing it! My FitBit keeps me accountable for my daily step goals, and I’ve found these great YouTube videos with exercises I can do anywhere.

Mental health I’ve been under a lot of stress at work, as well as self-imposed stress from my goals and the feeling that I’m “not doing enough.” But keeping with my daily meditation breaks, as well as treating myself to a little video game escapism, has helped me recharge and de-stress.

March Goals

Honestly, I don’t want to add anymore pressure to myself for March. My mission is to enjoy my birthday and spend good quality time with my family, friends, and pets while I’m in Kansas. There’s nothing so pressing that I have to do it now, and I need to focus on recharging and getting over this burn out.


What did you accomplish in February? What are your March goals? Share in the comments!

Fiction Blog, Writing Updates

Monthly Update: January 2018

Whether I’m living in windy Kansas, snow-packed Connecticut, or sunny California, January always seems to be a strange month for me. While I’m filled with excitement and optimism for the year ahead, I also struggle with the mid-winter sluggishness that plagues so many of us. Yes, even in California’s freakishly warm weather, I can’t shake that winter feeling.

I think what made this January extra-strange is that it took so long for my routine to normalize. The month began in Kansas, as I wrapped up my holiday vacation and kicked the last of a very nasty cold. Back in California, I had a brief return to the house (filled with fence-painting and other fun chores), then jetted off for a few days at the office in Connecticut. Finally, during the fourth week of the month, I managed to stay put and ease back into my everyday routine.

Despite all the obligations and distractions, I’m pleased with what I accomplished in January. I’ve broken it down by category below, then I’ll share my top goals for February at the end.

Writing

Salem researchThe Kingdom’s Cogsmith (A Desertera Short Story) I’m happy to report that I finally finished the FREE Desertera short story for my Reader List subscribers. After all the support they’ve given me, I was thrilled to give something back to them.

Desertera #4 While I’m not as far into the fourth Desertera novel as I’d hoped to be, I have the entire book outlined and have begun drafting. Thanks to the help of a close writer friend, I figured out what was “wrong” with my initial outline, and I think the story will be much stronger now.

Salem Idea As I shared in my Ask Me Anything Video, I’m currently outlining my new series idea. I’m not sure what to call it yet — it straddles the line between dark fantasy, paranormal suspense, and supernatural thriller — but I’m loving the concept. It’s in the vein of Supernatural and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and I’m stoked to dig into the world.

New Projects

Parallel Magic PodcastAsk Me Anything Videos This year, I’ll be recording a monthly Ask Me Anything video, where you can submit questions about the Desertera series, my other writing, or literally anything else you like. Watch the January AMA here, and start planning your February questions!

Parallel Magic Podcast You can read the official announcement in this post, but you’re hearing it here first. I’ve started a podcast with my friend Jonas Lee, where we discuss science fiction and fantasy novels over a drink. If you’re a sci-fi/fantasy fan, check us out on our website.

Reading

Scythe by Neal Shusterman 4Scythe/5 stars — Humans have conquered death, but an elite force of grim reapers still kill them. Great concept, but predictable plot and forced love story.

The Healthy Writer by Joanna Penn & Dr. Euan Lawson 5/5 stars — Practical and actionable tips on balancing writing with healthy lifestyle choices.

Illuminae by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff 4.5/5 stars — Space battles, a potentially evil AI system, zombies, and a dash of romance, wrapped up in a brilliant dossier-style package.

The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris 4/5 stars — A thriller classic. Dr. Lecter steals the show, and I’m totally fine with that.

Personal Life

Physical health Other than the weeks I was sick, I managed to meet my daily step goal and fit in strength or cardio training too. I’m feeling great!

Mental health I’ve started doing freewriting as meditation, and it’s helped me sort through a few tough issues. I also implemented a monthly #treatyoself mandate.

Generosity Another goal is to be more generous with my thoughts and actions. In this effort, I’ve discovered a new rule worth sharing: “If it won’t matter in five years, don’t be mad about it for more than five minutes.” If nothing else, it’s helped my road rage!

Goal Tracking For my daily or almost-daily goals, I’ve created a new layout on my phone that creates a satsifying rainbow when I have a “perfect” day. For weekly, monthly, and one-time 2018 goals, I’ve started a new spreadsheet. Doing weekly check-ins keeps me accountable and focused on what matters most to me.

February Goals

Beyond my ongoing daily/weekly/monthly goals, here’s what I’m focusing on in February.

Primary Goal Finish outlining and start drafting the Salem novel.

Secondary Goal Continue writing Desertera #4.

Tertiary Goal Plan a fantastic Valentine’s Day for Daniel and me!


What did you accomplish in January? What are your February goals? Share in the comments!

Fiction Blog, Writing Updates

My 2018 Goals and Resolutions

Welcome, new readers! And welcome back, longtime readers! I hope you enjoyed your holidays and New Year festivities, and are ready to tackle 2018 with me.

Happy New Year

If you read the blog last year, you know that I’m a major goal junkie. Whether that’s New Year’s resolutions or just my daily to-do list, I’m always gunning to tick off those pesky must-do tasks and thinking forward to my larger goals. So, late December / early January is one of my favorite “seasons.” It’s a time to reflect on my accomplishments, consider where I want my writing and life in general to go, and plan out the next year.

Over the last few years, I’ve adopted my husband’s tradition of making one resolution per year of my age. That means I’m making 25 for 2018. (Before you comment about how you’re 48 and could never do this … the whole mentality is that you find more reasons to live and make the most of your time as you age … there’s no rule against making small, simple goals!).

As I sat down to write my New Year’s resolutions, I realized that most of them don’t have the typical “resolution” quality. Sure, some of them speak to personal habits or lifestyle improvements, but the majority are simply goals or tasks that I aim to accomplish. As usual, with 25 goals, I’m biting off more than I can chew.  In 2017, I “only” hit 17 of 24 goals … but if I hadn’t set so many objectives, I wouldn’t have done even that much.

I know I won’t accomplish every goal I set. But if I shoot for the moon, I can still hit several stars along the way.

Usually, I list out all my goals and resolutions to share with you. This year, I’m going to share a few of them, but mostly focus on the larger reasons and themes that connect my goals. (Some are rather personal in nature, and others details exciting projects I’m not yet at liberty to discuss!)

Writing Goals

createSame as last year, my primary writing goal is to create (either writing, editing, or outlining) at least five days per week. Like many writers, I still struggle with consistency. I’ll write a whole book in 90 days or less … then go for a month without putting a single word on the page. I know consistency is the key to a sustainable, long-term writing career (as well as my specific production goals), so it remains top of my list.

As for my specific production goals, I’d like to finish the Desertera series this year. This means writing and publishing the final two books in the series, and hopefully putting out a complete boxed set and starting audiobook versions. I’d also like to kick off my dark fantasy / paranormal thriller series … and I have a few other ideas in the works too.

Business Goals

Most of these are pretty boring for non-entrepreneurs (okay, even for some entrepreneurs too), so I won’t go into too much detail. Mainly, I want to refine my author brand. With three novels, a nonfiction series, and several other endeavors under my belt, I think I finally have a strong grasp on who I am as a writer and who my readers are. Everything I do with my business in 2018 will focus on creating value for my readers, sharing more of myself, and building assets/revenue so I can do even more in the future. So, yes. MY business is really all about YOU.

Personal Goals

Kate cookieIn the second half of 2017, I finally made exercise a regular part of my life. I also started meditating. These are habits on which I hope to expand in 2018. I’m lucky to be young and in good health … so I want to keep it that way as long as possible! (Though, I’ll still have the occasional cookie — especially if it’s that cute!)

Another major theme of my personal goals is being more present and intentional with my actions. Like many people, I feel the need to be superhuman and do ALL THE THINGS. This societal-/self-imposed pressure has led to stress and even migraines (which resurfaced with some negative events at the end of 2017). So, one of my big goals is to stop multi-tasking and focus on one task at a time. I’m hoping that this will reduce how often I feel “spread too thin,” as well as increase my efficiency and the quality of my work, whatever the task may be.

How I’m Tracking My Goals

For daily tasks that apply to my goals (such as meditating, exercising, writing, reading, etc.), I use a habit tracker on my phone. This allows me to check off each task as it is accomplished, as well as see my progress for the week, month, or year. Sometimes, I’m surprised by how much I completed … and other days, it’s the harsh wakeup call I need!

For weekly, monthly, and one-time 2018 goals, I’ve created my own tracker in Google Sheets. Each category of goals has its own sheet, and once a week, I will go into the spreadsheet and report my progress. Instead of simply checking off a goal or leaving it blank, I’m marking it off with a color (green for accomplished, red for failed, and yellow for partially accomplished) for an easy and immediate visual representation of my progress. At the end of 2018, I hope my spreadsheet will have lots of green!

Making Your Own Resolutions

targetIf you’re looking for advice on making your own resolutions or goals, I give my strategy in this post. (And Dr. Google has millions of tips too). In the end, what it comes down to is deciding what’s really important to you (not what you “should” do, but what you genuinely want to do), dreaming as big as you can, then working toward that dream with several small, specific, and realistic goals. It might take the whole year (or several years) to accomplish your dreams, but if you don’t start taking those steps, you’ll never make it.

And if you’re one of those New Year Scrooges who hates resolutions, that’s fine too.

As for me, I’ll keep shooting for that moon one goal at a time.

What are your goals and resolutions for 2018? Why did you choose these objectives? Share your dreams (and tips for reaching them!) in the comments.

Author Business & Publishing, Fiction Blog, Writing Updates

2017 Year-End Update

Kate on Golden GateLooking back on 2017, the year hasn’t been as much of a dumpster fire as I originally thought. Author-wise, I published my third Desertera novel, The Tyrant’s Heir, re-evaluated my writing and business goals, and strengthened connections with my amazing readers and author friends. On the personal side, I lost two beloved family members to chronic illnesses, moved from Connecticut to California (with a brief vacation at home in Kansas), and traveled to new places in the United States.

When it comes to New Year’s resolutions, I accomplished far more than I did in 2016! My husband and I have a tradition of making one resolution per year we’ve been alive, so I made 24 goals for 2017. I never expect to achieve them all — but if I shoot for the moon, I still hit the stars. And I hit quite a few stars this year.

Writing & Publishing

Desertera books1. Create (write, edit, outline, or research) 5 days a week
My average ended up being four days per week, as I allowed myself extended breaks for my cross-country move and two bereavement periods.
2. Write Desertera #3
3. Edit Desertera #3 (C)
4. Publish Desertera #3 (C)
5. Write a second novel
While I didn’t start drafting, the world is built and ready to write for 2018!
6. Edit a second novel
7. Start Desertera #4
8. Make 2018 production schedule

Business

9. Make $2,000 from Boxthorn Press
Just a little short!
10. Create freebie for Writing Newsletter subscribers 
11. Create freebie for Reader List subscribers
12. Blog 2x per month
13. Maintain social media schedule
14. Diversify existing products (audiobooks, box sets, etc.)
I’ll be focusing on this in 2018 instead!
15. Do one marketing/promotion task per month
Choosing to forgo marketing until I have a larger catalog is why I didn’t hit my income goal. While I’m disappointed with myself, I know playing the long game will pay off eventually.
16. Read 52 books
I read 40 books. Now that I don’t ride the train every morning, I need to find a new reading time!

Personal

Tommy travels17. Work on positivity
18. Exercise 3x per week
19. Break a bad habit
20. Recoup savings account post-Yale
21. Make post-Yale plan
22. Visit final NYC sites
23. Visit new state
24. Visit new country
I achieved ALL of my personal goals! Here’s to leaving 2017 a happier, healthier, and better-traveled human!

Overall, I’m pleased with how much I accomplished in 2017. I’ll be finalizing my 2018 New Year’s resolutions today, and I can’t wait to dive into them. Here’s to a fantastic year!

What did you accomplish in 2017? What goals are you setting for 2018? Share them in the comments!