Posted on Leave a comment

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

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

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!

Posted on 9 Comments

Where is Queen Takes Triune?

I’ve been getting a lot of questions about when you can expect the next Their Vampire Queen book. I hate to be vague, but SOON is the best I can say.

She’s my #1 Priority. The only project I’m working on. And I am making really good progress. The end is in sight. I know how the book ends and I know most of the showdown. It’s just a matter of getting there, but not skipping any of the good stuff.

However, I leave for Sydney, Australia on Monday, and I have a million things to do over the weekend, both to prepare for the trip as well as some Evil Day Job things that I couldn’t finish this week. They really really need to be done by Monday, so… it’s weekend work or it doesn’t get done.

I wanted to be finished by Monday, but with EDJ needs this weekend, I don’t know that I’ll get enough hours in the chair to finish. And it is HOURS. I write exponentially more at the end of the book in a shorter amount of time. That means when I get the final goal line in sight, I start writing 8-10K a day, sacrificing sleep as needed LOL. I don’t think I’m going to be able to write 8-10K a day *and* prepare for the trip *and* work. But we’ll see.

She is coming. Soon. I’m doing the best I can given all the pieces in motion. I won’t do a pre-order – she’ll go live immediately as soon as edits are finished and my team has already seen the first third. I’ll get the them the next chunk before I leave for Australia, even if I don’t finish, and I will be writing on the trip too.

Long live House Isador!

Posted on 4 Comments

Under Construction

Over the next few weeks, things may look wonky as we work to implement a store on the site where you can buy signed print copies and other merchandise. Please be patient! I’ll be writing like a mad person during this time too since I have 3 stories due 10/1, AND will be traveling to St. Louis next weekend. 

But it’s going to look great once everything’s up!

Posted on 10 Comments

Mark Your Calendars!

If you’ve been waiting for news on Checkmate… My goal is to have it ready the week of August 27th!

If you’ve been with me for long, you know that my writing process is usually pretty slow in the middle. I might start a book like gangbusters, but sometimes getting 10K, then 20K, then 30K… can take FOREVER.  Then I finish the last HALF of the book in like a week.

That’s what I’m hoping to do this week. Yes, I’m at the halfway mark, but I’m still announcing that I want to release on August 27th or within a few days of that (for sure by the end of the month if at all humanly possible). I feel the tides shifting inside me. Now. It’s time. The words are there. The parts of the book I had to feel my way through are written.

I have some “fun” scenes to write that I already know. Then the big showdown. The End. Easy, peasy, right?

Of course, it’s not really that easy and I’m sure there will be a few more hiccups along the way, but I’m riding the wave now and picking up speed. I may crash and burn on the other side, but it’ll be one hell of a ride.

To avoid chaos this time, I’m going to set a very brief pre-order period once I have the final book back from my editors. That way there’s no mistakes with the incomplete file going out (because it’ll be THE file) and everyone will know when the book will drop. Again, it may not be exactly the 27th depending on timing, but it should be that week.

Then…. What’s next? Well, I’m not going to tell you that, yet, because I want it to be a surprise.