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Lessons Learned

My Evil Day Job is in IT and we moved to Agile a few years ago. Part of our regular ceremonies now is a sprint review/retro every two weeks. We talk about what went well and what didn’t–so that we can improve and change things up for the next sprint.

I’ve been doing a “book” retro each time I finish. I do some word-count vs. sprint analysis and compare that average to other books. I take a look at my elapsed time and any other factors that I can apply to the next book that might help me write faster or improve my process.

Since I just finished Leprechauned this week, I took a look at my stats. It’s pretty eye opening.

My word-count-per-sprint average was way down and my elapsed time was way up. I took vacation days from the EDJ in both Jan and Feb to help push to completion–and the book still dragged into March. I even bumped the release date two weeks to give myself a little breathing room.

What gives?

The biggest lesson I can take from this is how much of a problem it is for me to pick up and put down a book midway.

I originally started Leprechauned 2/28/2021. Yes, that long ago. I worked on it a little over a week and had just over 10,000 words before I decided to set it aside. I’d had the harebrained idea to try and crash-write the book before St. Patrick’s Day 2021 for a surprise release, which meant I set aside Knocked Up to work on it. Then I had some EDJ stress that made it apparent that I wasn’t going to be in a position to write another 30k+ in a week. (Though my crazy brain really wanted to try.)

This is my greatest weakness as a writer. I get these harebrained ideas on the spur of the moment and let them derail me. In hindsight, I should have stuck to Knocked Up and just kept working on it. I’m sure that I damaged my momentum stopping to pick up a different book.

I did the same thing by putting down Queen Takes Darkness3 to write Carnal Magic last October. Did I have fun with that book? Absolutely. Was it smart to put down a book that I was already 50%+ into? Absolutely not. Because here it is months later and I haven’t been able to pick it up again. I’m going to have the same issues when I do get back to it.

For Leprechauned, I didn’t pick it back up until the beginning of Jan 2022. I really planned to have it finished by the end of Feb, and on paper, that should have been easy for me to do. I know what my “average” word count can be each day without pushing too hard and I should have been able to meet that date.

Should.

But again, there were several factors at play that made the book hard.

  • I was served mid February – the ex is taking me back to court AGAIN.
  • When I first wrote Shamrocked, I kept it fairly light and fun. I didn’t have super deep characterization on the guys since the book was only in Riann’s POV. I didn’t have detailed world building notes either.
  • To take a “light” novella and turn it into a meatier trilogy is work. I had to flesh out each of the guys better and give them deeper personalities. I had to make decisions on the world and overall arc that weren’t needed for a single book. I had to better define the magic.
  • My style has changed quite a lot since I first wrote Shamrocked in 2018. I had to keep referring back to the previous book and read sections so I got the tone and characterizations right. I kept forgetting little tidbits of the world or magic that I needed to go back and verify.

All that took time. A lot of time.

So what am I going to do about it?

First up, I’m going to keep right on pushing through on Evil Eyed. I’m not going to make the mistake of setting down this world and characters again. I’m going to finish up the trilogy and get that off my plate before I do anything else.

Secondly, I’m going to do my best not to hie off on these side trails of shiny new projects that would be so much fun to do, especially when I’ve got other books started. When I get back to Helayna, I’m going to have to hope I took good notes and I’m going to need to spend days re-reading and getting back into that world’s tone and voice.

2022 is the year of cleaning out all these incomplete series and spinoffs so I can get back to Shara and Xochitl. The longer it takes me to finish Darkness, Sunfires, and anything else I tackle, the longer it’ll be before I can get back to our vampire queen. Because once I do get back to her, I want to focus and stay there.

Which is why I’d LOVE to have A Killer Need done too. But it’s going to be so much work to revise two books and write a third — that I originally wrote way back in 2014-16 or so. I have the covers already lined up. It’s just a matter of deciding if I can commit months to brutal edits and getting back into Charlie’s head.

We’ll see what the rest of 2022 holds.

1 thought on “Lessons Learned

  1. I think you are wonderful! So amazed how you have grown your writing skills. You can see where growth and change is needed and you go forward. You’ve been through enough on the divorce front. Sorry for his situation but come on! I’m a forever Joely Sue Burkhart fan!!!!

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