Fiction Blog, Writing Updates

Monthly Update: April 2018

April marked the first month of using my bullet journal, and I’ve really enjoyed it! Designing the spread helps me prioritize each month’s goals and focus my time, as well as reflect on my accomplishments (or the things I didn’t do). While I still feel like I’m in a period of transition and reorganizing, I’m feeling much more positive this month. Maybe it’s that the spring sunshine has finally emerged in full force … maybe it’s the extra family time and exercise. Either way, I’ll take it!

Writing

april bujo

So far this year, I’ve focused on honing my writing craft and filling in some gaps in my knowledge. While I’ve written three novels and several flash fiction pieces, I’ve never had much opportunity to write short stories, so I’ve been teaching myself with a private project. It’s been a fun exercise and taught me a lot about story structure – which will help me write better novels too. Win-win!

Parallel Magic Podcast

Parallel Magic: The Science Fiction & Fantasy Book Show is still going strong. In fact, Jonas and I just had our most exciting episode yet! We interviewed J. Thorn and Zach Bohannon about their post-apocalyptic thriller Dawn: Final Awakening Book One. They’re true sci-fi/fantasy lovers (just like Jonas and me!), so we had a great time geeking out about the apocalypse, movies and more. Listen here.

Reading

hellblaAfter taking a month off reading, I’m back on track with reading one book per week!

Hellblazer: Original Sins by Jamie Delano – Finally explored Constantine’s origins. While I loved the stories and his attitude, the older art style isn’t my jam.

The Absolute Sandman: Vol. 1 by Neil Gaiman – OMG. People who know my love of all things paranormal have been telling me to read this for years. I finally did. And it was perfection.

Blood of the Empire (Desolate Empire #6) by Christina Ochs – The final book in my favorite historical fantasy series. If you like Game of Thrones, you need to read these novels.

Dawn (Final Awakening Book One) by J. Thorn & Zach Bohannon – A gritty and inventive post-apocalyptic thriller. After you read it, tune into the author interview on the Parallel Magic Podcast.

Personal Life

Physical health Still going strong with my exercise goals! In fact, I’m thinking about upping my daily step goal and even making further improvements to my eating habits.

Mental health I’m in a much better place this month, and I think my funk is finally fading away. A few things helped with this: watching a ton of new movies with Daniel (it relaxes me so much, my FitBit thinks I’m napping!), taking a trip home, and preparing for my mother-in-law to visit next month!

May Goals

  1. Put the final touches on my short story project
  2. Treat my mother-in-law to an amazing visit
  3. Get back to my true fiction love (aka the next novel)

What did you accomplish in April? What are your May goals? Share in the comments!

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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!

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!