Posted on 2 Comments

Sterling Silver Bracelets – In progress

I had a request for sterling silver bracelets, since many people are allergic to the inferior metals. Unfortunately, the charms are VERY expensive, ranging from $5-15 each. Yes, each. Shara has a lot of Blood… So that makes a complete House Isador charm bracelet in silver very expensive to make.

However, I’m going to experiment with fewer charms to keep in the $30-40 price range. Like I’ll have a “Shara Isador” one that’s an ankh and Isis charm only. Or a cobra charm with the ankh. With all sterling silver findings and chain.

If you’re in the market for something like this and I haven’t already talked to you, feel free to message or email me so I can be sure to stock the materials. I have some supplies ordered and will experiment with them over the next week or so. Hopefully I don’t mess them up! Even the silver wrapping wire is $17 a roll.

But they’re going to be pretty!

I also have a House Camelot charm bracelet made – by accident. Middle Monster picked out some matte black beads at Michael’s when she was shopping with me, and loved the crown charm I’d picked up. I made her an all-black crown bracelet – but she didn’t actually like the dangling beads. So I’m going to make her an elastic stretchy one, and I repurposed this bracelet to have all of Gwen’s Blood represented, as I know them today. If the weather cooperates, I’ll take some pictures tomorrow.

Posted on Leave a comment

This Week’s New Releases

It’s been a busy week – so busy I forgot to even list out what all came out this week!

Queen Takes Darkness is now available! This is a short novella featuring Helayna Ironheart – the wolf king’s sister you met briefly in Queen Takes Triune. This story will be included in the MORE print anthology available exclusively at Literary Love Savannah in July. Though you can order a copy directly from me if you’d like. I’ll be getting a link set up on the Shop shortly.

Queen Takes Rook is also now available in audio! Even better, Queen Takes Checkmate will release next month. I’m so glad this series continues to be made available in the audio format.

Releasing today, Seduced by Myths includes a short novella from me titled, “On Death’s Wings.” This is a re-imagining of Beautiful Death, written the way I wished I could have written it in 2005.

I’m hard at work on adding some fresh new bonus content to add to “Queen Takes Alpha,” “Queen Takes Twins,” and “Queen Takes A Late Christmas,” which were all previously released in Between the Sheets anthologies (and are no longer available). Queen Takes More will be available the first week of June.

And finally, WHEW! I told you it was a busy week! The pre-order for a new project is now up. Magic & Mayhem is an Academy-themed boxed set that will include our favorite unicorn vampire princess. I don’t have the title for Xochitl’s story yet, but I can’t wait to dig in to her story.

Posted on Leave a comment

House Isador shirts and bundles

If you’ve been waiting to get your complete set of Their Vampire Queen books, I’ve finally got the bundles loaded. Choose just the six main books, tote and shirt – or add a bracelet or coffee mug if you’d like. All shipping is US priority shipping.

I’ll be loading the shirts separately in a few minutes! That way if you already have the books, you can grab just the shirt.

Next up, I’ll be adding House Ironheart and Mythomorphoses wear!

Posted on Leave a comment

New Charm Bracelets in the Shop!

I finally got the House Isador charm bracelet listed in the shop! There’s an optional form that you can fill out to tell me what colors or sizes you’d like. These are handmade by me in my free time. Yes, I know, that sounds crazy when I’m writing all the time and work full-time too, but making the jewelry is FUN. It’s actually a stress reliever for me.

Soon to come are purse/planner charms and themed bookmarks. I also have charms ordered for House Camelot and House Ironheart!

Queen Takes Triune is also now listed in the shop. I’ll work on a House Isador bundle once I get previous orders out the door.

Posted on Leave a comment

Signed Paperbacks, Merchandise, and More

Behind the scenes, I’ve been working with my friend Erin to open up a shop, and I think we’re finally ready to at least crack the door, LOL.

Please be patient with us. There’s a learning curve to getting all the plugins to work correctly, and then of course processing your orders. I have a lot more merchandise to add to the shop, but we wanted to see how just a few things were working before we build it out too far. Right now, there are some House Isador mugs and single copies of each book currently in print (Queen Takes Triune and Their Vampire Queen bundles aren’t ready yet).

I’m only open to US orders right now, until I figure out how to handle VAT. If you’re international and don’t want to wait, message me and we’ll figure out other arrangements.

If you’re hoping to buy the entire Their Vampire Queen set, please wait a bit longer until I get Queen Takes Triune in print. I’ll be making a really cool bundle with tote and shirt. But it’s not quite ready yet!

If you’re only buying a single print book, I can send it cheaper via media mail, so message me and we’ll figure that out too. I’m still tweaking the shipping plugin to figure out how to do single books media but anything else priority. I can also do PayPal manually for those of you who prefer that method of payment. I don’t have that turned on here yet.

Coming soon: House Isador charm bracelets, bookmarks, and T-shirts!

Posted on Leave a comment

Q2 Kanban Board

Since I shared my Q1 board last time, I thought I’d show my continued effort to get more organized and stay on top of my many TODOs.

I don’t have every task on the board yet, and I want to break larger tasks down better. e.g. “On Death’s Wings” could be broken down into 5K increments or some other easily identified task so I have the satisfaction of moving things over to the next column. I also only put up my newsletter and takeover tasks for April. My board isn’t big enough to keep the entire quarter before me.

The colors aren’t quite meaningful yet. I am trying to group certain things together better – but messed up a couple. Going forward, I’d like to keep general admin stuff one color, takeovers another, and true writing tasks. But I tend to just grab the first Sticky note I can find, rather than putting thought into which category the task is really in.

Focusing on PROGRESS not PERFECTION.

Posted on Leave a comment

Fine-tuning My Process

Part of the Writer’s Journey is figuring out how to improve my process. I want to write my BEST books every time – but also turn them around FASTER. I don’t want to give you books that you’re not satisfied with, or aren’t my best work. Yet I also need to make sure I’m not wasting my time, goofing off playing games or whatever (though sometimes the best way to get around a mental block is to do something else and let my sub-conscious mind work on it).

I’ve been trying to do a better job with keeping a kanban board on my wall over my writing area. We keep electronic boards for the Evil Day Job, but for my writing stuff, I really like having the physical board. I wasn’t the best at keeping this updated in Q1. e.g. some of the notes are from Dec, but I kept them up because I was lazy.

But at a glance, I can definitely get a good idea of what I have coming up, and what I *finally* finished – e.g. look at all those stickies of word counts! That was for Queen Takes Triune. You can see that toward the end, I just quit with the notes, because I had the end in sight. (The book ended up crossing 90k).

Anyway, I’m getting ready to clear the board and so thought I’d grab a picture of it first.

Posted on Leave a comment

Personal Growth as a Writer

I’ve been working really hard on improving myself lately, both by understanding my personality better, and also by improving my writing processes. This is likely to be a really long post with some data and analysis if you’re so inclined. Though I’ll spoil it here and say in summary: wow, have I grown a lot as a writer since 2005. Also, newsflash, momentum is key for my personal success as a writer.

I’ll also preface this with: this is my personal experience. Slower is not better. Faster is not better. DO YOU. Also remember I have a full-time, usually stressful job and three busy teenagers/college kid to manage. So while I’d love to write for hours and hours a day, it’s just not possible for me at this time. My normal writing session is 9PM-midnight if I’m lucky and the kids don’t bother me with homework or emergencies.

First, the data analysis. Queen Takes Triune is the first book where I successfully kept track from start to finish of my word counts per day – and then followed up to analyze those numbers. Yes, there were days I forgot. I’m sure there were many. (I hope there were lol.) But in general, I kept track of my word counts every day. Toward the last half, I also kept track of sprint sessions, and whether they were timed, untimed, or interrupted. Again, I’m sure I missed many – but there were enough there for me to gauge some trends.

I did keep word counts for all the other Queen Takes books – but not always by session. I also didn’t make notes about other stuff going on in my life to explain gaps in time. I made extra effort to keep track of this information this time around so I could improve.

But before I get into the actual takeaways, let me touch on a personality element that has always prevented me from doing this kind of analysis before. (If you’re interested in learning more about your personality and how it affects your writing, I highly recommend signing up for Becca Syme’s Write Better Faster and Strengths for Writers courses).

ACHIEVER is only my #5 top strength. However, it has handicapped me in the past. How? I would get hung up on “how well I was doing.” If I felt like I was getting a bad grade (even on my writing), then it would crush my mood and I’d give up on tracking. Say I only managed a couple of hundred words, and my goal was 2000. “Oh well, I failed. Stop taking notes. I can’t recover from that. Your daily average is already trashed and it won’t recover (like GPA).

I know, that’s not the best way to think about it – but that’s my first reaction. Or I’d set crazy high word counts because I *can* write 5K a day. So I should be able to write 5K *every day*. Right?

Wrong.

So even though it kills my achiever side to look at the numbers, I did keep track as much as possible. Then I put all the numbers into a spreadsheet so I could see them. Painful. Ouch. “How did I only keep track 6 days in November? (Note: I wrote other days, I’m sure – but I didn’t track them.) Why was December even worse!? What’s with all these empty days? Even after I found my stride?”

What were you thinking, Joely? Why didn’t you do better? There’s no way in hell this book should have taken you until MARCH to finish!!!

That’s immediately where my Achiever went. I had to face that pain, suck it up, and look again. And understand why.

Takeaways

  • Momentum is key. Early Nov, I went to Vegas for 20Booksto50K. While I did write while I was there, I was busy and forgot to track. It also wasn’t anywhere near 1K+ a day. Same with the Australia trip for Books by the Bridge. I was busy for days before preparing, and then had to take a week to recover. I did write while on the plane and in Sydney – but I didn’t keep track and it wasn’t enough to keep my momentum.
  • Focus is key. Late Nov – early Dec, I paused work on Queen Takes Triune to write the Holidays Between the Sheets short story. While it was fun and I’m glad I did it… it totally killed my momentum. I didn’t recover from that break until January. Obviously holidays and family stuff added to that delay – but it was a costly mistake.
  • Timed sprints really will make me focus. I know this isn’t earth shattering. I’m not that fast a writer – and my achiever got hung up on “doing well.” I know writers who can do 1K in 25 mins. I can’t do that, even if I’m completely in the zone. So my brain said, “why sprint at all?!?” Well, brain, because setting the timer and making myself do nothing else for that time is GOOD. 300 words in 25 mins is GOOD ENOUGH. And if I do it again and again and again, I will finish the book. Duh. Sidenote: the more sprints I did in a day, the more words I got. So while the first one or two might be “average” at 350 words, toward the end of the day’s work, I could write 550. Momentum, again.
  • Even when I am finally finding my stride and consistently hitting days in a row and multiple sessions each day, I still will have an off day. That’s OKAY. That’s my INPUT (#2) and INTELLECTION (#1) strengths speaking up. On days where I didn’t have as many words, I was researching or thinking. I needed to find something that sparked the next piece of worldbuilding. When I get stuck with the plot – I need to RESEARCH. I need the INPUT to spark the next bit of creativity. I need to THINK and scribble on paper and make weird connections that don’t mean anything to anyone else but me.
  • I am also an “exponential” writer, meaning I go faster toward the end (if I keep my momentum). I wrote 30% of the book in 5 days. Gulp. That’s the “P” in my INFP Myers-Briggs kicking in. I need the pressure to finish. Deadlines are great – but self-imposed ones don’t always work for me.

Some actual data references.

  • Untimed session examples: 158, 80, 68, 345, 186, 286, 195 words
  • Timed sessions (usually same days as untimed ones): 330, 325, 531, 499, 589, 550, 622, 514 words

You can definitely see doubled results across the board, even when the session was interrupted.

Side note: untimed sessions are not BAD. In fact, I plan to allow myself at least one untimed session at the beginning of every writing session. That way I can flip back through the last couple of paragraphs or even the entire scene, read and make light edits, and then continue with the next scene when I’m ready.

Now the fun part. How am I going to take this information and improve?

I have two novellas (20K each) due by May 10th – with an Evil Day Job trip likely somewhere in that time frame. There is plenty of time for me to do these. If I focus. If I work on my momentum. And I implement what I’ve learned so far.

For each novella, I will come up with a schedule – but it won’t be a “write 2K words a day” kind of schedule. That doesn’t work for me.

  • A couple of days for INPUT and INTELLECTION. Research, brainstorming, jotting notes.
  • Write the BLURB first. That gives me a road map for the main conflict.
  • A complete plot outline generated from those days of thinking and researching.
  • Write each day – even if I only read through what I’ve already got to keep the story in my head.
  • Don’t work on any other projects, even the second one that’s due.
  • Use the timer, but allow myself 1 or 2 untimed sessions daily as needed.
  • Keep a daily “words remaining” count on my notes so I can see that number going down. But don’t stress about how many words I get each day.
  • Lean into my pressure personality. If I feed the momentum and keep my focus, I know the words will be there when I need them – at the end! For Triune, I went from writing 500 words a day to 5000+ near the end. I just can’t lose that momentum!
  • TRACK. So I can make adjustments on the next book again.

What was the reference to 2005 about? That’s when I finished the first draft of Beautiful Death. I wrote a long post in the Triune about my unhappiness with that book, and I had decided to rewrite it for an upcoming anthology to be the way I always wanted it to be.

So this weekend, we made a trip to Mythos in Joplin and to visit my Beloved Sister. I planned to read the old draft on the way down, and jot down the major plot points I wanted to keep, along with all the things I wanted to keep or change.

I didn’t even make it 4% through the book before I gave up. I wanted to unpublish the book and print it out… so I could BURN IT. I don’t want to say it was bad, but goddess above, I could not get through it. That is not the kind of book I want to write now. I just can’t. I couldn’t even think about lifting out the characters as they are now.

So let’s just say I have more work to do for the first anthology piece than I planned, lol. So I’d better get busy.

It’s never too late to teach an old dog new tricks!

Posted on 3 Comments

Long live House Isador

Queen Takes Triune is finally done!

This was a tough book to write. First of all, she’s a long puppy, clocking in at over 90K, making it one of the longest books I’ve written. (That first draft of Rose ages ago at 154,000 doesn’t count). But I had a lot of small threads to tie up.

I wanted some private one-on-one time with as many Blood as I could cram in, that made sense and moved the plot or characterization in some way. There are more tidbits about their past lives that are slowly revealed.

Questions that you had from as far back as the very beginning have now been answered.

It still is awesomely terrifying when the magic happens. Something that I wrote over a year ago as a side-item without much thought is suddenly important and makes sense. Even though I had no idea at the time – I just knew it was true. That it had to happen, or had to be mentioned. It always amazes me when that seemingly careless detail suddenly MEANS something, and I swear I’m not a genius. I had no idea!

Plus life happens, and so a book that I had hoped to release last December suddenly takes me 3 extra months to write. I’m sorry about that, sincerely. Personal life complications plus traveling to Australia, which was incredible, by the way, all interfered with my momentum. I’m a momentum, or exponential writer. I write faster the longer I go and I have to find my stride. So every interruption, or days where I couldn’t write, meant I had to basically start over at the 500 words/day speed.

Sometimes a book can dump out of me in a month. This one needed that extra time.

Deep down, it was hard because I wanted to do Shara full, complete, perfect justice. This is her last book as I know her story now, in this moment. Her series is complete. Yeah, I know. I didn’t want to see her finish either, and I wrote about that in the Author’s Note at the end.

This isn’t the last we’ll see from her, I promise. She will have more to say after she takes a much needed rest. Please remember that she’s still VERY YOUNG, only 22. Her youngest Blood is already 69! She deserves some down time and fun. It might have taken me over a year to finish her story, but if you look at the calendar… Only 3 months has passed between Knights and Triune.

THREE MONTHS.

She went from a nobody on the run, to Shara fucking Isador, last daughter of Isis. She conquered not just the queen of New York City but also Ra, the god of light, and that’s before you even see all the shit-kicking and name-taking she does in Triune.

In three. Fucking. Months.

So she has big plans. Huge. There are things I know you’ll all want to learn more about and you’ll still have NEW questions at the end of Triune. There is so much more to come! But Shara is taking a break for now. Let her live and love and grow and rest, for just a little while.

And brace yourself for the incredible showdown she’s going to reveal in this book.

We’re in final edits now. Look for the release in the next few days!