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Checking In

Well, it’s been a while.

I’ve never claimed to be good at this whole “blogging” thing. I tend to spend most of my time over at Twitter I’m not writing or reading. I tend to let the blog go on the backburner for a while. As I’ve clearly proved time and time again.

I just don’t have the things to fill out an extensive blog. Most of my book reviews go up at Booked All Night and few things filter down to here.

So I guess a bit of a catch-up/check-in/update type post is in order, since we’ve solidly entered 2019 at this point.

I’ve completed my Master’s program!

That was a big thing that happened in 2018. I graduated as part of the first class in the Writing for Children & Young Adults from Sierra Nevada College in August. My final semester was stressful–I rewrote my thesis (from scratch!) three times over the course of a month and a half in order to get it as best as I could before my deadline. It was a rough series of months–both mentally, physically, emotionally, and as a writer. It tested my limits.

But I came out the other end and while I wouldn’t say I’m proud of the work I’ve done (it needs a lot of work, and it may not ever see the light of day), I’m proud of how far I’ve come as a writer.

I started a new job!

It was a strange series of events the day I got the job offer. It’s ten minutes before my workshop class was starting. I get a phone call from my local library–where I interviewed for a position about a week before flying out to school–and they offered me a position. It also happened to be the day where I had to defend my thesis before a panel of my professors. And I was the very first student in the entire graduating class to defend. Talk about setting a precedent!

But everything worked out great! I’ve been working at my local library (which is a dream come true!) and I’ve been considering going back to school for a degree in library science. (I won’t, because I’m broke and can’t afford more loans than I already have.)

I’ve been working on the story of my heart again.

I had to put away the YA fantasy I’ve been chipping away at for several years in order to work on my thesis, but I’ve finally been able to go back to it. I get to look at it with fresh eyes and a better understanding of the craft, and I’m not putting myself on any strict deadline to finish it. I’m taking it easy and writing as I can, when I can, however long I can.

I’m trying to hone in on my writing process. I’ve never been a Write Every Day type of writer. I reach burnout too quickly like that. I have days where I can write 7k words, and some days where I can only write 200 words. I’m learning to be okay with that.

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September Writing Goals

It’s been a hard month of writing, y’all.

Even with my semester being back in full swing, I’m barely scraping by.

I had planned on finishing my YA Suburban Fantasy by August (then by mid-August, then by the end of August…) and that hasn’t happened yet. I’ve been dealing with constant Depression Sessions and it’s just making me tired and unable to do much. It’s not even that I’ve hit a wall with my writing; I know exactly what’s going to happen and I know how the story is going to end.

I feel like I’ve lost a spark of excitement for the story. I’m always coming back to my YA Fantasy and I’ve even been toying with a YA Heist Fantasy and a YA Urban Fantasy about a queer necromancer, but not this story.

When I was at residency, my mentor and Slytherin extraordinaire Pablo Cartaya talked about finding the heart of the story during his workshop, about finding out what made the story shine and where that heart was during all the revisions and drafts.

I feel like this story is lacking a heart, or at least I can’t see it, and I’m not in love with this story. And I’m not sure if it’s because I feel like I’m missing the passion I need to complete the draft or if I’m too lost in the fog of a Depression Session to see it.

Writing and struggling through a mental illness isn’t easy, but I’m trying. I’m trying, y’all.

I just hope it’s enough.

So, here’s hoping to finish some revisions by the end of the month, just in time to submit my next packet, and maybe getting enough of a fire under my ass to break 40k and maybe enter the home stretch for this draft.

Blogging

August Writing Update

Howdy lovelies!

I’ve been getting into the grove of things again and I’m only panicking a little because my first packet is due next week! Yikes!

I’ve been working on a few different things all summer, namely my YA Fantasy and a YA Paranormal? Urban Fantasy? What would you call a book that happens when Buffy meets Hocus Pocus but with a necromancer cult?

I’ve been working on that mostly this month, since technically my self-appointed deadline to finish this draft was August 16.

I love deadlines and the sound they make when they fly by.

But in all reality, I’ve been struggling with writing anything since July between constantly working at the Day Job and with the loss of my grandmother at the end of the month. So when August came, and residency rolled around, I wanted to get my sh*t together and start writing again.

I was so inspired during residency (as I always am) and broke 30k!

And then when I got home, all I felt was jet lag.

But the best thing about self-appointed deadlines is that I can change them to meet my needs, like focusing on my school deadlines instead.

Blogging · Writing

Weekend Writing Goals

I’ve been working at my Day Job non stop this entire week, and I’ve got doubles all weekend so I’ve got even less time than usual to write and read.

Sometimes, I have to wonder, when does my Day Job stop becoming just that? A day job is meant to be a supplementary place of income, something to get me by in the winter months. But I’m practically working over time—of course, the summer is the peak of BBQ season so of course I’m working plenty—and it’s leaving me more drained and less likely to want to get my writing done.

But I’m coming on 30k in this draft of my YA Fantasy and I’m nearly at the end of Act 1. Someone’s about to get kidnapped! I’m excited.

It’s been a lot of fun getting back into this manuscript. Every time I take a break from the story and the world and instead focus my writing on a different project, this world is just sort of sitting at the back of my head. It’s always so tempting to go back to it, even if I know I need to take time off from it.

So this weekend I’m hoping to hit 35k and get as close to the end of Act 1 as I can.

What are your weekend writing goals?

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Weekend Writes

Yesterday, I spent some time with my good good friend JM Tuckerman. We’ve been working on some fun projects together, including our new YA book blog, bookedallnight.blog!

We’ve had a little writing project in the works for a little bit now and I’m excited to see it evolve, but we’ve also started podcasting again. The first episode of our new podcast, the Booked All Night podcast, goes live next week. It’s a late night YA podcast, so keep your eyes peeled for a late night release!

Besides that, I also started getting back into the groove of writing my YA Fantasy again. I wrote 3k last night and if I can do half as much each day this weekend, I’ll feel like I’ve accomplished something again. It’s been hard to get back into a pattern of writing daily, but I’ve got plans to finish this YA Fantasy before my birthday and I plan on writing a lot this July when I’m in Poland with family.

So this weekend, I’m hoping to get through the first act and see where that leaves me. I did hit 25k last night though, and that’s a great accomplishment!

What are y’all writing this weekend? 

Blogging · Writing

Useful Apps for Writers

I’ve been called a lover of apps. Mozzarella sticks, nachos, onion rings… wait. Not those kinds of apps. What I actually mean are applications, useful bits of tech that make my writing process smoother and a little more enjoyable.

I’ll start this off by saying that none of these apps are sponsored, I’m just a 20+ writer who loves using these apps. Most of them are free (#brokewriterproblems), some have a one time or monthly fee. There are probably other apps that achieve a similar goal for free, but I’ve found what works for me and my operating system. All of the following apps are 100% compatible with Android and Windows, as I don’t use Apple or iOS, so if you use a Mac or iPhone, be aware of that!

Onto the apps!

Pacemaker.press (Base functions, free/Premium functions, $8/month. Web)

I’ve talked a little about Pacemaker before, and how much it’s helped me keep a good schedule throughout my drafts, but my deadline anxiety has been eased significantly thanks to the Pacemaker. It’s a progress tracker that lets you input your goal, be it word count, chapters, pages or anything else, and a deadline. Then you select the type of workload you want, like Steady, a Mountain Climb, Random, and it’ll determine your daily goal in order to finish on time. You can even designate certain days to do more work. Prefer to work more on weekends? Do you work part time or have certain days where you’re at school and can’t write? You can plug in those exceptions and it’ll calculate around them.

pacemakerIt was vital when I knew I would be working weekends and traveling to school two days a week during my undergrad, since I was able to get more writing done on certain days than others and still meet my deadlines. 

There are a dozen different ways you can customize your Pacemaker, but my favorite will always be the ability to see my progress in a graph and the calendar export that lets me keep tabs on my goal on my Google Calendar. The basic functions are free, and you can have up to two projects running at the same time on the basic plan. The premium plan is $8 a month but gives you access to a calendar feature on the site which tracks all of your projects, of which you can have an unlimited number of on the premium plan. But the best part of Pacemaker is that you can use the base of the app for anything, not just tracking word count. I use mine to keep track of when blog posts need to be written, and if I’ve done my daily lessons on Duolingo, and all my writing projects. It’s versatile and I love that about it.

Writeometer (Free, Android/Google Play Store)

writeometerI love graphs and trackers. I’m such a visual person. And Writeometer was the first tracker I fell in love with. It’s a free mobile app only available on the Play Store for Android systems.

Writeometer offers pretty much everything you might need in a mobile word count tracker: multiple projects, reminders to write (customizable to your schedule), it’ll calculate an exact word count or end date for you, and it has a timer to write to. The default timer is set to 25 minutes and you can access the timer directly  through the notification it sends you, and you’re encouraged to write through the whole time, then you can input your word count.

It even has a widget you can stick on your home page that is a shortcut to your project and has a little bar that fills up with your word count as you get closer to your goal! It’s so satisfying to watch it fill up day by day.

Freedom (Free trial, then $6.99/month or other pricing plans. PC/Mac/iOS)

dashboard-ca302c0a5f9210e467742f1b4c817364b9e9ba61b2a03efa1b869b756cad66baFreedom is a site and app blocking app that works across all your devices to block websites and apps. It’s incredibly  handy and I love it because you can have different lists of what to block. Say some days you only want to block your social media, you can make a list for your Facebook and Twitter and any other time wasting site you love. Need to block the entire internet? You can make a list for that too.

The other thing that sets Freedom apart from other app blocking sites is that you can set schedules into it. So say you need to block certain sites and things between 9 and 5 on weekdays, or only certain days. You can do that. This isn’t available in the free trial, last I checked, but the full program includes it.

Since Freedom isn’t available on Android devices, they provide a free promo code to download Offtime, which tracks your mobile app usages and can block apps on your phone for you in the same manner as Freedom.

Whatsapp (Free, mobile, web and PC/Mac)

Okay, okay, I see the irony of suggesting a messaging app right after suggesting an app blocker. I know.

whatsappBut Whatsapp is actually just the latest in my long history of favorite messaging apps. I’ve tried Slack and Skype and Google Hangouts. But Whatsapp is one of my favorites right now for plenty of reasons.

But I mainly use WhatsApp to stay connected and chat with my writer friend(s). Mainly JM Tuckerman. But we use it to chat when we’re writing and reading, and the app runs both on our phones and on our computers and browsers so we can chat while one or both of us are at work. We’re collaborating on a project together so it’s vital that we have a reliable app that lets us chat easily and quickly and also exchange media files if need be.

Plus, the built in gif search is integral to sending each other reaction gifs to our writing or whatever book we’re reading.

Rainymood.com (Free, web)

rainymoodI like listening to something when I’m writing. Usually white noise or my Deep Focus playlist on Spotify. It helps me, unsurprisingly, focus.

Rainymood.com is my go to white noise generator. Technically all it generates is a constant stream of rain and thunder, which is just fine by me. I love the sound of rain and it really gets me in the creative zone when it’s playing.

Some people need more than that, like a generator you can control exactly what kind of white noise you hear. For that, I recommend the mobile app, White Noise Generator by Relaxio on the Play Store. It lets you generate different soundtracks, like rain, a stream, birds or a fire place, and then save that track for listening later. It also has a timer in case you want to use it to fall asleep after a long day of writing!

Those are all the apps I’ve come to love while I write, and I hope they can be of some use to you as well. If you liked this content, be sure to follow me on Twitter and if you want to help me create  more awesome bookish and writerly content, consider buying my a coffee at my ko-fi!

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Monday Reads

I spend most of my Mondays at work, usually 10 to 5, but because I work in a BBQ restaurant, not a lot of people want ribs for lunch (JM Tuckerman is, of course, the exception. She wants ribs all the time). So Mondays tend to be pretty slow at work, and my managers don’t mind that I sit around and get some homework done during the semester.

But now that the semester is over, I feel less inclined to actually bring a book or notebook with me to get something done. So I’ve been playing Magikarp Jump lately.

Today’s Memorial Day though, so everyone and their grandmother’s are going to be out getting BBQ because that’s what people like to do, I guess. So I’ll be extra busy.

But I 100% plan on getting home, throwing some yoga pants on, and lounging around and finishing A Court of Mist and Fury after work.

What are you Monday reads?