September Status Report

Photo by  Florian Klauer  on  Unsplash

Hello, friends!

September is upon us, and it’s time for another update.

Between bouts of busyness, this summer has given me a much needed chance to rest and regroup. After our June road trip to visit my parents in Montana, I spent July discovering that I really am not a NaNoWriMo person. I’ve ever participated in National Novel Writing Month before because our Novembers always seem so cram-packed with holidays and the anniversaries of emotionally impactful events that I think I’d be crazy to even make the attempt. But July seemed a nice calm month to try out a Personal Novel Writing Month on my own. I’m not sure if my problem was that I hadn’t done enough advance planning for the story (I thought I had, but it turned out not to be the case), or if I am too picky about the quality of the words I produce, or if I just cave under pressure, but it wasn’t a fun experience and I didn’t make nearly as much progress as I would have liked. But now I know, so there’s that.

August brought forest fires to our neck of the woods, and the air quality in our little valley has been terrible. The smoke has been so thick most mornings recently that we can’t even see the mountains from our house, though it often clears up a bit by the afternoon. My daughter looked out the window the other day and commented that the mountains must be tired of the smoke too, since they seemed to have up and left. Several nearby communities have been evacuated, including friends and extended family members, so we’ve been keeping an eye on that, but we’re pretty sure we’re safe where we are. The main challenges with fighting the fires have been the rough wilderness terrain that makes it difficult to move crews and equipment, and the strong winds that are pushing the fire faster than the firefighters can keep up with. But the brave crews are making progress and as far as I’ve heard no structures have been lost so far. I complain about the smoke, which has been trying a little too hard to make friends with my asthma, but I’m deeply grateful for the efforts of all those working to control the inferno. I’m also grateful to belong to such a generous community that makes sure everyone has a place to stay (the Red Cross shut down the shelter at the high school down the way because it wasn’t being used) and that the firefighters are well taken care of.

Kanban board

In the meantime, school has resumed, and with it our part-time homeschool., which means more time planning, teaching, and driving, and less time to devote to writing, publishing, and the ever growing business end of this authorial stick I’ve picked up. But my trusty Kanban board is doing its job of keeping me organized, and I’m looking forward to the upcoming book launches (yes, more than one—more on this later). It’s almost time to plan my next quarter, and it’s gratifying to see how many of last quarter’s post-it notes have worked their way down from the “Master Plan” section through the “Get it Done” section and landed in the “Awesome Job” section.

Please do not interrupt sign
Me in my Do Not Disturb hat

I’ve also developed this nifty new tool for managing interruptions. I made this sign with a music stand and a large magnetic timer, and it really does seem to help my family know when I don’t want to be interrupted and when I will be available between writing sessions to take care of whatever it was they needed. It has their names down at the bottom, and they can stick a magnet on their name if they need me to check in with them between sessions. So far, it’s working out pretty well, which makes me happy. When they were younger, they didn’t even notice my “do not interrupt” signs unless they were actually attached to my body. One of my favorites was a cheap felt Dr. Seuss-style hat with “WORKING DO NOT DISTURB” written into the stripes with a marker. I don’t think I ever would have made it through my first draft of my first manuscript without it.

And I definitely wouldn’t have made it this far along my writing journey without help and support from all of you. Thank you so much, my friends.

Currently Working On: 

  • Dragon Ascending - The writing is finished, the editing is through, and the marketing has begun. In August I created a series of “memes” for social media that you may have begun to notice on my Facebook and Twitter feeds. They have images of characters along with quotes from the book. Keep an eye out! I’ve also received my first request for a blog interview, and will be sure to post a link when it appears. And of course I hope to see all of you at the launch party on October 12, where I will be talking about some of the inspirations for the book. The King’s English will be on hand to sell copies of Dragon Ascending, and I will, of course, be happy to sign your books whether you purchased them there or brought your copy from home.

  • Dancing with the Viper (Viper Series, Book 1) - The rewrites are finished, the edits are finished, and I’ve been working on the interior layout design and cover art. I’m publishing this one myself under my own independent imprint, and this is my first go-around with independent publishing, so I’ve intentionally avoided setting a release date in order to allow myself sufficient time to learn the ropes and do it right. I’ve still got a lot to learn and do, but it’s looking like we’re on track for a release sometime in November. In the meantime, keep an eye out for a cover reveal, which will probably be happening shortly after the release of Dragon Ascending in October.

  • Vanir Dragon Series, Book 2 - I’m several chapters into a first draft, but had to stop and regroup when I realized some of my character arcs weren’t right for the story. I’ve done some rethinking and replotting, and am getting back on track. Hopefully progress will go more quickly and smoothly as I move ahead.

  • Self-education - There is always, always more to learn. My current focus is largely on the practicalities of digital and paperback book production and marketing.

Currently Waiting On: 

  • Not much. Right now, everything seems to be going full steam ahead faster than I can keep up with. The biggest hang-up seems to be that there are too many things I just don’t know enough about yet. (But I’m working on that.) I’d wish there were more hours in a day, but I’m so tired by the end of the ones I’ve got that it’s probably a good thing they stop where they do. But it’s the good kind of tired where I feel like I’ve got a lot done, so I’m loving it.

Currently Most Distracted By:

  • Trying to balance All The Things.

  • Homeschool, AKA my “day job.” But I’m deeply grateful that we’re in a position where I can do this for my kids, whose “quirks” are fundamentally incompatible with the way the traditional school system works. We’re all happier and saner because of the homeschooling, and it’s really a “distraction” in the same way that having to eat and sleep are “distractions.” But since I’ve only got about two years left of my third trip through high school, I’m starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel, which from here looks like it might open up to wide vistas of time I can spend writing, and some days that makes it feel like a “distraction.”

  • Forest fires. Smoke. Breathing chunky air in and out of my poor, asthmatic lungs. It’s not so bad if I stay indoors, but the runs to school and the grocery store are killin’ me! (Thank you, dear husband, for talking me into buying that air purifier even though I said we didn’t really need it because the fires would be out in a few days anyway. You were right. I was wrong. And yes, you can take a screen shot of that to show me later. ;) )