Taking A Short Break

Hello! I don't have much to say. My book is going into editing soon. I've taken a small break since NaNo, so I'll get back into the swing of things soon.


For now, enjoy your holidays, and I'll see you again in 2021!!

Wednesday Words: Far Sector by N.K. Jemisin and Jamal Campbell

 


Happy Wednesday!

It is the second Wednesday of the month, which means I will share with you what I am reading. As I post these ahead of time, I may have reached #9 by now, but I wanted to share the awesomeness that is N.K. Jemisin's Far Sector, which comes to us from the Green Lantern Universe.


First off, the artistry by Jamal Campbell is *chef's kiss* BEAUTIFUL! I love the colors and the character models. Secondly, N.K. Jemisin continues to outdo herself with her writing! I love these comics. I don't think I've read comic-comic books since I was a kid. I've read manga and graphic novels since, but this is my first comic book since old X-Men comics my cousin had. There are tie-ins to our world, even though it takes place across the galaxy. You get to ask yourself the existential and moral questions as you read, which I never mind in writing. There's a lot of action, great character interactions, and a solid main character in Jo Mullein. I am on currently on #7 as I write this, but #9 was released over the weekend, so I will be catching up this week!


What are you reading?

IWSG: NaNoWriMo Update & Productivity

 


My cousin said it best: we are finally at Level 12 of Jumanji. Happy December! It's the first Wednesday of the month, so that means it's time for the Insecure Writer's Support Group. As always, thank you to Alex J. Cavanaugh and this month's co-hosts for doing the hard work of visiting us all. This platform has grown so much since I first joined. It's wild.

So, this was the first year I did NaNoWriMo and STUCK WITH IT! Back in the day, if I didn't hit 1,667 words, I immediately gave up and just watched from the sidelines. This year, I decided to give it a try, as 1) I have a publisher and 2) I have a story I need to work on. The first 6 days, I actually overshot the 1,667 words a day. By the 7th day, I got stuck and needed to rearrange some things, so I only hit 242 words, and I decided that that was okay. I even got some encouragement on Twitter from other writers who told me it's not that you reach 1,667 every day but that you write every day. So after the first week, some days I might've written only a hundred or few hundred words, and other days I wrote over 1,000 words. The most I wrote in a day was 2,243 words. I reached over 2,000 twice! On the 30th, I wrote 1,868 words, ending my NaNoWriMo with 30,575 new words for my urban fantasy WIP, totaling an approximate 33K words altogether. I think that's pretty good, and now I know I can write every day if I put some time in, even just 20 minutes. I was in a writing group, and we did sprints together, so having the support definitely helped, too. I think I can say for certain that I might finally be back in the writing groove. =D

Okay, the monthly question really quickly, so this doesn't get too long: Are there months or times of the year that you are more productive with your writing than other months, and why? 

Um...I don't think so? I mean, I could easily say November, but that was "by force." ;) It's definitely a little easier to write in my office, because work is easy going, and I don't have my tv or video games to distract me, so this "COVID season" has definitely not been productive for me.


How about everyone else? How did you do with NaNo? Do you have months that you're more productive with your writing?

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!

I'll post my monthly review with my IWSG post next week. That way, I can report my final progress report for NaNoWriMo.

I know Thanksgiving is going to look different for a lot of people this year. My family's too big to get together for the first time in a while, so immediately families are getting together. If nothing else, find reasons to be thankful, and if for nothing else, be thankful we're still alive.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

November Writing Update

 


Can you believe it's already the middle of November?! It's crazy. I have successfully written every day for NaNoWriMo, and I've passed the 20k words mark! I had to tell myself this time to just not worry about hitting 1,667 words every day. Those first few days, I was passing that, and I even passed 2,000 words a couple of days. I didn't think I could write every day anymore, so I'm excited that I can. If not by the end of November, I will have a completed first draft of my urban fantasy in December!

How is everyone coming with their NaNoWriMo goals?

Celebrating My Mom - Carrie Finney-Holmes

Happy Veteran's Day!

I'll have some words to share next month, and they'll be words I WROTE for NaNoWriMo.

Today would have been my Mom's 64th birthday. She died of Stage 4 metastatic lung cancer, and she had never smoked a day in her life. They are researching the cause of lung cancer in non-smokers, as there is an uptick in this occurrence. Please donate to a lung cancer society, as lung cancer research is highly underfunded compared to other cancers.

We are currently celebrating Mom with a British Brunch, because she was a huge anglophile. For now, please enjoy her incomparable singing voice as she lead our church choir and the Newark Symphony Orchestra in The First Noel.



Insecure Writers Support Group: Into The Place Where You Dream

 



Happy November!

I can't believe this year is already up, but I guess it's a good thing when 3/4 of it has been in quarantine. Here's to a better 2021, even though we still have December. On the bright side, November is also the start of the Holiday Season, beginning with Thanksgiving, my favorite "2-day" holiday (gotta finish those leftovers)!

How is everyone doing with NaNoWriMo? I've successfully gotten through the first 3 days! I think having a publisher to answer to put a fire under my butt. Ha. I'm taking it a day at a time, because if I think about the fact that I have 27 more days to write 1,667 words (well a little less, because I'm actually averaging 1,735 words right now, and the website lowers the bar daily when you write over 1,667) EACH DAY, I will go into panic mode. I'm also writing with a group of other writers in a bigger group called Black Girl Gamers. I joined maybe a month before my mom passed, so these ladies have been a big comfort to me this year. If you're trying NaNoWriMo alone and struggling, try to look for some friends who can join you and support you through it. But also, it's okay if you don't reach 1,667. I have to tell myself that, too, so I don't get disappointed in myself. The important thing is you're writing.

All right, onto this month's question: Albert Camus once said, “The purpose of a writer is to keep civilization from destroying itself.” Flannery O’Conner said, “I write to discover what I know.” Authors across time and distance have had many reasons to write. Why do you write what you write?

Robert Olen Butler said "Art doesn't come from the mind. It comes from where you dream." I'm a big dream writer. I dream vividly, and in color, which is apparently rare, but I know many people who dream in color, so I have questions. Anyway, I write to share what sick and twisted thoughts are in my mind, and to create worlds others can escape into from time to time. Sometimes you can find a moral. Sometimes, meh. As a black woman writing fantasy, I also want younger black girls who love fantasy books and video games that it's okay and they're not alone in what they love.

Why do you write what you write?

Monthly Review & Wednesday Words: Masque of Red Death by Kenya Wright

 

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It is the last Wednesday in October! I can't believe it. But to be honest, October felt long when I look back at it. Strange how that goes. On the 4th Wednesday of the month, I review , but as promised last week, I will also slip in Wednesday Words, since I had big news to share on the 2nd Wednesday!

I still get excited when I think about being an agented author. What a difference a month makes! It had been a secret wish of mine this past year to have an agent find Fractured Princess, read it, love it, and contact me, and that is exactly what happened! I will be under the imprint SFF For the Culture, and if you happen to peek over at Wahida Clark's Instagram, I'm listed as one of their newest authors! That was unreal. It's really happening.

NaNoWriMo is...still around the corner, and I've done nothing to prepare. It's fight or flight at this point. I have to pick a story and work on it. Every day. All month. God help me. I know which one I can work on, though. It doesn't have to be perfect. It doesn't have to be perfect. It doesn't have to---this will be hard. haha

All righty, onto Wednesday Words!






For the next several weeks, my friends and I are reading Kenya Wright's Masque of Red Death, not to be confused with Edgar Allan Poe's Masque of the Red Death, but part of the story is based on it. We're reading 3 chapters every 2 weeks, though we're a week behind (we're just so busy), and we're not completely sure about the book yet, but it's intriguing nonetheless. Also, that cover! So amazing. Here is the blurb:

In a Florida city plagued by race riots, a murderer has come to play. He calls himself Poe, and he invites only the most corrupt to his game.

The invitations arrive with masks made of human skin. Participants must dress for a masquerade ball and go to a specific nightclub where a riddle is given. Each hour, a guest will die, if the riddle isn’t solved. No one can contact the police.

However, Poe makes a grave mistake by inviting two people—Shadow and Lyric.

Shadow towers over most, wields power like the devil, and holds the city in his hands. Wanting to be steps ahead of this killer, Shadow joins forces with the one person he believes can discover Poe’s identity—Lyric Blue. Once, she was Shadow’s lover and the brain of his operations. But then Lyric chose her morality and pushed him away. Still, there’s an enduring attraction that weaves them together. United, they attend the ball, ready to beat the game.

Secrets are revealed. Bodies pile up. Every death from an unsolved riddle comes with a clue. And a story unravels, exposing victims and betrayal that no one could have ever imagined.

Super intriguing to me. So far, we're dealing with the protests and riots, mental illness, and political corruption. My friends and I meet this Sunday to talk about our next 3 chapters, and I can't wait to see what happens next!

What have you read this month? Planning on doing NaNoWriMo? Good luck!

October Writing Update

 


It is the 3rd Wednesday in October, and I am bringing you a lunch update because I was too tired to post anything earlier.

Honestly, I don't have much of an update, either. I have a lot of ideas in my head that I need to get on paper for all of my works in progress. I did look at my urban fantasy WIP and put down a few more words, which felt good. I also sent my Fractured Princess manuscript to my publisher (wow, I have a publisher) for the editors to look over. I should be able to announce the re-release soon. I'm excited!

For my side project with the startup production company, the director sent us to a podcast called "The left Right Game," so we had an idea of what he wants his horror podcast to sound like. It's really cool and only 11 episodes, so listen if you have time, especially for Halloween. I listened to the first episode yesterday. Chills! That said, the little work I got to do on an episode needs to be reworked. He wants an immersive experience, and I had no idea what that meant until yesterday. Ha.

NaNoWriMo is around the corner, and I actually need to make an effort to do it this year. I'm nervous. I've written close to 1600 words in one day...once. lol Maybe if I write out an outline, I'll be able to do it. What do you think?

That's all I have today. I'll probably add my Wednesday Words to my Monthly Review post next week. See you then!

BIG NEWS

Happy Wednesday!

The second Wednesday of the month is usually the day I share what I'm reading, but I'll still be reading the current book next month, because I'm reading it book club style with my friends. So, this Wednesday is for bigger news!

A little less than two weeks ago now, an agent with Wahida Clark Publishing reached out to me about bringing me on as one of WCP's new fantasy writers! I was a little skeptical at first, but after some research, I saw that Wahida Clark is a 4-time Bestselling Author and known as the Queen of Street Lit. That's a big deal.

I am now in the process of signing a contract (after a hard combing through. I've never read any license agreements/terms & conditions for anything, but I can't just click "I Read This and Agree" on a CONTRACT) and Fractured Princess will be re-released later this season.

This is a whirlwind for me. I wanted to be a traditionally published author. I only decided to self-publish because as a black woman writing fantasy, the doors just don't open as easily as they do for other fantasy writers. I had been hoping an agent would be looking through Amazon, find my book, and love it enough to reach out to me, and that's exactly what happened. My dream has never changed, but I never dreamed how exactly it would happen, and that it finally is in a way I didn't fully expect, I'm over the moon. I'm playing it really calm, but I'm super excited.

I have an agent.

And a publisher.

Please stay tuned for more news to come!

Insecure Writer's Support Group: A Working Writer

 

HAPPY OCTOBER!

It's already time for another installment of the Insecure Writer's Support Group! As always, a big thank you to Alex J. Cavanaugh for all of the work he does. Visit his website to view the co-hosts for this month. You can also join us by visiting the IWSG website.

I'm going to dive right into the question for this month: When you think of the term working writer, what does that look like to you? What do you think it is supposed to look like? Do you see yourself as a working writer or aspiring or hobbyist, and if latter two, what does that look like?

I've never heard of the term working writer, but simply put, it sounds like someone who has made their career and living from being a writer. They don't need a day job; writing is that for them. As a writer, it's the dream. I do not consider myself any of the three terms. A lot of people confuse aspiring writer with aspiring author. If you're writing already, then you're a writer. I was an aspiring author until I self-published. I may be an aspiring working writer. A day job is good and all, but it's certainly not my passion.

What are your thoughts?

Quarterly Goals

 

I just realized that my quarterly goal post should take place in October, but 2020 remains on brand, as nothing is going as it should. There are 5 Wednesdays in September, but not October, so here we are!

Here were my August goals:

To get back into the swing of things - So far, I'm doing an okay job. I've been writing. My friends and I are starting a non-church book club together. We're always in church, so we wanted to do something with no relation to it. Balance is always key.

To find a job I really want to do - I'm content at my current 9-to-5 (also read 8-to-4:30), but it's not my passion, and it's certainly not in my field. As I mentioned in August, I joined a startup production company, and I edited a script for the producer. That is stuff I could do all day, especially if it paid well. I'm also part of Black Girl Gamers, and the founder posts jobs she finds. There is one for a short-term, paid video game writer traineeship. The hours are flexible, and it's virtual, so I think I'm going to apply and see where it takes me.

My next goal is to get back into reading other people's blogs. I haven't done it consistently in a long time, and I know it's because I have so much else going on it's hard to do, but still.

My next quarterly goals will be in December, so I guess I will update you on how the upcoming quarter panned out, and what my plans will be for the first quarter in 2021!

I hope you all enjoy what's left of September.

Monthly Review

 

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September is already almost over, guys. It's wild.

I gained momentum this month. I had to be back in the office many days, but I didn't completely mind. It also helped me write more. I'm actually used to writing at work, so . . . I need to break that habit. haha BUT last Tuesday, I wrote 1,156 words and a 200-word query. Last Wednesday I wrote 1,698 words! That felt super good. So now, I'm actively writing in THREE works in progress. We'll see where they take me.

Reading is still slow, but I'll just start over in 2021. I didn't even set a goal on Goodreads. I think I've read maybe 5 books, and fortunately some comics.

Last Tuesday, my younger sister and I became owners of our mom's house. We'll be selling it and moving soon. It'll be bittersweet. Our mom bought that house for us to have our friends over, and we were introverts and didn't like drama, so we never brought them over. We've been in the house for 21 years, the longest we've ever lived anywhere. But it's also time to be in our own space. My sister started a Pinterest board for interior designs. At first I didn't care, but I realize, we have two different styles, so I might want to, so we can meet in the middle somewhere. I'm also interested in the style of the house as a whole. I hate the style of our current house. I need to look up house types.

As for work, I'm not unhappy about being back in the office, as I said, but I do realize I'm unhappy still being in an office period. I've always wanted to just be a writer, and the publishing industry, though it's trying to change, is really hard to break into as a black writer, let alone a speculative fiction writer. That said, two of the three projects I'm working on are romance novels, which I haven't done in YEARS, but I do want to give it a go. Romance was my wheelhouse when I was a fan fiction writer. I know I can do it.

I have two more quarterly posts for the year to see if I've reached any goals. December will be unique, because I'll get to set some for 2021. Not that I want time to keep moving as quickly as it is, but I could stand waking up and it no longer being 2020.

September Writing Update

 


Happy September!

This is my first writing update since MAY, and I didn't even have much to say then. Looking back at what I was working on, I think I have an idea of what scene I was talking about. I did finally finish it, and then I reworked it to something stronger that I really like. Now, I have to hash out the next scene. It's another breakthrough scene, but I know exactly how I want it to go, so it's just putting it down on paper.

I actually have a few things I need to work on. I joined a startup production group, and I have a very interesting horror script I need to write. It's been a while since I've had to do a script, but script writing is a lot simpler than prose, so I know when I sit down to get it done, it will be like riding a bike.

Saturday night, I had an epiphany about an old fan fiction I wrote. I've said before that I want to revamp my fan fictions into regular novels, so on Monday, I not only wrote a query for one, but then I turned around wrote over 1,000 words for the first time in a very long time. That said, the tone of what I wrote fits another story I have in progress, so I'm going to move it over to that one, but I already know how I want to replace it for the revamped story. So, I'm super excited.

I think I'm back in the game, and it feels good.

Wednesday Words: Solitaire by Alice Oseman

 


It has been a while for one of these!

It is the 2nd Wednesday of the month, and that usually means I share with you all what I am reading. I'm finally back into reading, almost at my normal pace again, so I can finally share my current read! That lucky book is Solitaire by Alice Oseman.


This is the cover for the e-book. I'm actually close to the end, and the blurb up top is a bit misleading. For the most part we follow Tori and Michael, though I have a hankering suspicion about Lucas and his dealings with the mysterious prankster group known as Solitaire.

This is Alice's first book. I read Radio Silence last year, and it was amazing, so I could see where she grew. This story lacked a little direction, and Tori isn't a very likable protagonist, so I had to ignore her for the most part. I can't wait to see how this ends, though.

Here is the book description: In case you're wondering, this is not a love story.

My name is Tori Spring. I like to sleep and I like to blog. Last year - before all that stuff with Charlie and before I had to face the harsh realities of A-Levels and university applications and the fact that one day I really will have to start talking to people - I had friends. Things were very different, I guess, but that's all over now.

Now there's Solitaire. And Michael Holden.

As I said, I'm close to the end, and I'm around the point where she "doesn't have friends" anymore. I don't think she ever did, just people she hung out with because her best friend did, and she didn't even really like her!

Speaking of which, here is a line from page 68 that I found very interesting, the opening to Chapter 12:

There is a line that you cross when making relationships with people. Crossing this line occurs when you transfer from knowing someone to knowing about someone, and Michael and I cross that line at Becky's seventeenth birthday party.

It's a warm point in the story that I appreciate, though it's also surrounded by the millionth time that Tori hates something. Maybe it's because of that that I like it.

What are you reading?

IWSG: The Dinner Party Question Revamped


 HAPPY SEPTEMBER!

It's already about to be Fall, my favorite season, but it is also the first Wednesday of the month, which means it's time for another installment of the Insecure Writer's Support Group! As always, a big thank you to Alex J. Cavanaugh for all of the work he does. Visit his website to view the co-hosts for this month. You can also join us by visiting the IWSG website.

This month's optional question is: If you could choose one author, living or dead, to be your beta partner, who would it be and why?

Just one?? Eesh. Because she is still alive, and I have a small chance of meeting her one day, I won't say my favorite living author, N.K. Jemisin. I would be terrified to let her see a beta version of my work, even though I'm sure she would be really nice about it.

My official answer is my favorite author who is not living, and that is Octavia Butler. Her writing changed my life and my outlook on being a speculative fiction writer so much. She even had a similar experience with her mom about not writing "normal" fiction. I would love to pick her brain about my writing style and choices.

Though I'd still be terrified a little.


Let me hear your answers!

Catching Up: Monthly Review, Writing Update, & Quarterly Goals

 

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September is around the corner, and I have accomplished very little. I don't think I even read the entire month of August, except for web comics and a book for my Praise & Worship Team at church. This weekend, I did start writing again, so that is a positive. I'm working on a new beginning scene for my new adult fantasy. I also took a peek at the last scene I wrote for Fractured Princess's sequel, so I need to get back into that as well. I know where the story is going, but I need to know why. That's something I may need to flesh out.

I've gotten a lot of TV watching in for sure. I binge watched both seasons of The Umbrella Academy at  the beginning of the month. A great series, and I'm always jealous to see someone successfully execute the "mutant school" trope. That was what I first started writing when I was little. Maybe I'll be able to get it right, too, one day. I'm now on the last season of Avatar: Legend of Korra. I saw the first season and the first few episodes of the second when it first came out, but according to fans, Nickelodeon moved the show's time slot often, so no one could really watch it like they wanted; and so I've watched the rest of Season 2 and Seasons 3 and 4 for the very first time. It's amazing to see how the world has evolved, especially without Aang in it.

What I've done the most this month is play video games, mainly Apex Legends, but I'm also replaying the FFVII Remake, and I started a few new games: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare and Fall Guys. They've been pretty therapeutic when they're not stressing me out. I've been part of the Black Girl Gamers group for a couple of months now, and it's been nice having a safe space to just enjoy myself and talk with others like me. Some of us are even going through the same things, like recently losing a parent, and that's very comforting.

I just realized I missed my quarterly goals post for July, but that's okay. My goal this quarter is to get back in the swing of things. I'd also like to try to pursue a job I really want to do. Being home since March, you realize what you're looking forward to when the world opens back up, and being at a job that I'm doing just to have a job is not one of those things. I joined a startup production's Discord this week, and I don't know how far that will take me, but we will see. I've also been asked to be on a panel for the Asexuality Visibility & Education Network in September, so I'm very excited and nervous to discuss ace visibility in fiction. I need to go ahead and move some of the ace books I have on my To-Read list up to #1.

Lastly, I started a new Instagram for my writing, gaming, and tv habits, so if you would like to follow me, please do! My handle is DebReneeByrd.

I hope everyone else has had a good August. I will see you next week for the monthly IWSG Post!

IWSG: Writing In Formation?



Well, here is how August is going so far: I was on preliminary quarantine because I came in contact with someone whose whole family decided to get together for a party and with no safety precautions, thus contracting COVID-19. Fortunately, my sister and I tested negative. Then yesterday, Delaware was hit with tornadoes during Hurricane Isaias. Happy 2020!

The first Wednesday of the month is set aside for the monthly Insecure Writer's Support Group post. If you're a writer, you can join us by visiting the website. Also, stop by the founder's website: Alex J. Cavanaugh, and the hosts for the month to thank them for their hard work!

The question for the month comes with a quote: "Although I have written a short story collection, the form found me and not the other way around. Don't write short stories, novels or poems. Just write your truth and your stories will mold into the shapes they need to be."

Have you ever written a piece that became a form, or even a genre, you hadn't planned on writing in? Or do you choose a form/genre in advance?

I usually know the genre. Sometimes I write scenes that I think belong in one story, but as the story unfolds, the scene no longer works, so I save it until I find its proper place.

I used to try to write short stories, but I feel like they would be too long or rushed. I'm also terrible at standard poetry. I think I'm better at haiku and novels. But if a story comes to me that finishes before I expect it to, I won't stop it.

How about you?

Monthly Review


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I came into July expecting to be posting. I got my IWSG post up on the 1st. On the 3rd, my mom told the family she was stopping her chemo treatments while we were all together at my older sister's where she was taking care of her. On the 7th, my older sister called my younger sister frantic because some of the things mom was saying was scaring her, so we went back up to her house. On the 10th, we watched our mom die.

Fortunately, we were "prepared" generally, if not emotionally. She had been battling Stage 4 lung cancer for 18 months, which is more than what our local doctors predicted, and thankfully my older sister set her up with Fox Chase, who took great care of her. She had a tumor wrapped around her bronchus. After her first 6 months of chemo, it was gone, but the metastases weren't changing, and her body was starting to shut down on the new chemo. She did not want to be incapacitated. She used to tell us that even when she was healthy. Emotionally, we're pretty wrecked. The deterioration happened so fast. At the end of June, she was walking around. Two weeks later, she was gone.

My younger sister and I stayed at our older sister's from the 7th through my birthday on the 19th. We mostly sat in mom's in-law suite and every now and then looked over at her recliner where she sat and slept the last few days before my sister ordered her a hospice bed. My older sister, brother-in-law, and niece had been living with mom for about a year. They bought their home specifically so she could move in with them. We had all hoped for more time for her, especially for her to do more than just be sick and get treatment.

I haven't recovered from that night. Thursday morning to Friday evening, aside from maybe 2 hours of sleep, was one long day. My younger sister and I don't really leave our rooms except to work. If I could've, I would have taken the whole month off. I went back to work last Wednesday, and I plan to return to my part time this week. I had just started reading a new book, but I haven't really touched it since the beginning of July. I had also just started writing again, so I'm trying to pick it back up. Trying to "get back to normal" isn't really something I want to do without it involving calling or seeing my mom. But this is where I am.

I wish I had a more positive update, but unfortunately, I don't.

Insecure Writer's Support Group: Industry Changes



It is the 1st of July and the first Wednesday of the month, so that means it is time for another Insecure Writer's Support Group post. Thank you to Alex J. Cavanaugh and the co-hosts this month for keeping this program alive for writers to share their insecurities and successes. If you are a writer, please join us by visiting the IWSG website and signing up!

I'm in a better head space to blog this month. I took an inadvertent month off, which was much needed. But do remember as your timelines and media return to "normal," the systems of this country still need to be rebuilt to work for all of its citizens, and arrests still have not been made for Breonna Taylor's killers.

This month's IWSG question is: There have been many industry changes in the last decade, so what are some changes you would like to see happen in the next decade?

Well, in the wake of the spike in tragedies that occurred in May, many publishing companies decided to open their submissions to black writers. This is interesting because there has been a huge lack of diversity in traditional publishing, from the agency to the writers, for as long as publishing companies have been prominent. Many who received this news rightfully thought, "Now, you want to look at our work?" Most black writers, including myself, have turned to self-publishing because publishers have only been interested in black voices if they provide a look into black pain. Otherwise, agents "loved but didn't connect with" our work (and often, they've already filled their quota on black authors or books about black characters, sometimes not even written by black writers).

So in the next decade, if these publishing companies truly care to represent more diverse authors and aren't just opening their gates for optics right now, I hope this sudden interest in black writers does not die down and that more of our stories--and not just the ones that center our suffering--can be accepted by the industry.

I Can't Do IWSG Today



It's been a very tough few weeks, so when I saw the IWSG email come through I had a feeling things would be going on as usual. Just know your black writer friends probably aren't okay. If you haven't already, please support them by speaking out against police brutality, and that includes violence by police during peaceful protests. If you are silent, you are complicit.

Monthly Review


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© Creative Commons Zero (CC0)

Happy Wednesday!

It's the last Wednesday of the month, and that means it's time for a review of May. Not much has happened really. Most of us are stuck in the house. I'm currently typing this in my office because my laptop wouldn't let me go one move without freezing. Ick.

Last Friday marked 4 weeks since my last chemo treatment. I had my PET scan Tuesday, and I go back on June 5th to see if I'm cancer free. Hodgkin's Lymphoma is highly curable, so my hopes are high.

The movie The Lovebirds hit Netflix this weekend, so my sister and I watched it. It's hilarious! A great mystery/rom-com that I recommend.

I'm currently playing the Final Fantasy VII remake, and I LOVE it. I said this on Twitter, but it definitely succeeds where FFXV failed. It also gives us more fleshed out locations, stories, and side quests. The only complaint I've had so far is Barrett's VO actor is pretty bad, and they straightened his hair for some reason. But those are minor details in the grand scheme of things. I can't wait to keep playing.

I hope to finish the book I've been struggling through before the month is up. I think I have close to 100 pages left. At this point, I think it's the book, as I said the last time.

I have some more writing ideas floating in my head, so I plan to put them into Word soon. That will help my word count for the quarter. Ha.

How is everyone else doing?

May Writing Update (Sort of)



Happy Wednesday!

So, as you probably didn't notice, there was no Wednesday Words. I'm still reading The Killing Moon, and it's been hard. I'll read two pages and then get on my phone. I might not be all that into this book, which I can't expect to love every book of N.K. Jemisin's, but it's hard when you don't love your favorite author's work. It's happened with my other favorites, though, so eh.

On Monday, I read the 2nd installment of her Far Sector comic, which is really good. I think I have the 3rd. I'll check. Of course, comics are much easier to get through.

Anyway, this is supposed to be a writing update. I did write a little more since last month, but I'm hesitating on the next scene. Partially because I need to figure out the dialogue and see if it's time for a breakthrough I've been working on. I did have a few more ideas pop up to make the plot make sense, so I'm definitely grateful for that.

How's everyone else doing?

Insecure Writer's Support Group - In the Zone



Happy May! This will be a short post.

It's already time for another installment of the Insecure Writer's Support Group, where we writers share our insecurities and accomplishments! Stop by the IWSG website and our founder, Alex J. Cavanaugh's, website to join in on the fun! here are co-hosts and hundreds of writers who participate.

The question of the month is: Do you have any rituals that you use when you need help getting into the ZONE? Care to share?

I usually read what I just wrote so I can pick back up where I left off. Sometimes I brainstorm in my head, especially if I'm stuck on a scene. I definitely have conversations for the characters, which I know probably looks crazy, but no one's in here but my sister.

How is everyone doing? Did anyone A to Z? I feel like that went by quietly. I'm doing one of those daily song challenges on Instagram. That's about it.

Hopefully everyone and your loved ones are healthy. Please stay safe out there.

Quarterly Goals




It is the 5th Wednesday of April, so that means I am looking at and making my goals for the quarter. How has everyone done with their April challenges? Has anyone done them?

This time last quarter, I was halfway through my chemo treatments, which I have now finished! The days didn't go by quickly, but I'm grateful to God that He brought me through it. My family and friends threw me a surprise social distance-approved bell ringing as I pulled up to my sister's house. That made me feel good. My mom also felt good enough to cook, so I had her meatloaf and mashed potatoes, which I hadn't had in years. My friends also threw me a Zoom party, but I was too sleepy to stay by the time I got home. Needless to say, I had a great last day of treatment.

This time last quarter was also two months before COVID-19 really broke out over here, so...yeah. Anyway, my goals for last quarter included:

eating better/cooking more/grocery shopping more - I have actually cooked a few times, done more grocery shopping than I ever have before, and eaten more fruit and vegetables. But I'm still a sucker for a sausage Mcmuffin with egg;

exercise on my good days - because I'm working from home, I have taken walks, danced, and worked out on my lunch breaks. It's definitely helped boost my activity and kept me from going stir crazy;

and reading/writing more - I think I mentioned both in my last posts. I've gotten back into both in one way or another. Reading my last quarterly goals, I realize I need to peek into my NA fantasy to see what notes I left. It's sad that I don't remember.

My goals for this next quarter are relatively the same. I'd like to get back into shape, lose 10 pounds and keep them off over the next 6 months. I did it once upon a time. I was in my twenties at the time, but we'll see what happens.

Did you guys make any goals for the quarter?

April Writing Update and Monthly Review

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Last Thursday, I realized I forgot to post a writing update, and fortunately I saw my post about it last week and remembered what today is before I could completely forget my monthly review. I need to do better. Here's both at the same time!

It has been 5 weeks since COVID-19 really started hitting the scene, and I think 3 weeks since I have been telecommuting. I have done a little writing, but I may have read and rearranged more words than I've written. I plan to do a little more writing today, and certainly more reading this week. I do know what needs to be written, so it's just a matter of actually doing so.

At the beginning of the month, a group of writers I'm in had an Instagram Hop and gave away our books to one winner. It was fun and gave us a little more exposure. I need to do more marketing and promotions. I use Facebook's ad campaign every now and then, but I know I can do more. I joined a promotional group this week, so we'll see how it goes.

This Friday is my last chemo treatment! It's been a long 6 months, but I'm glad that it's almost over. My last scans looked great, so I expect the next one to be great, too. I can't wait for my life to go back to normal, current situation notwithstanding. Feeling sick every other week hasn't been a good time. I just pray the lymphoma stays away and I can be in the number of survivors!

How has everyone's month been going? Please continue to stay indoors, especially per the CDC guidelines. We are all experiencing a new normal right now, and guess what? That's actually okay! This will pass, but we have to actually let it.

Wednesday Words: N.K. Jemisin's The Killing Moon


Happy Wednesday! We are at the second Wednesday of April, and that means I share with you all what I am reading.

I forgot to share last month, but I also hadn't really done much reading. I've finally consistently started reading the Dreamblood Duology like I said I would in January. Click here to refresh your memory.

The first book is The Killing Moon, and now that I'm into it, I can share a line from a random page. Random.org chose page 100. The context of the passage I want to share bleeds into page 101, so here is a line from 101.

Now Nijiri's face seemed calm, but his body was rigid, betraying feelings that perhaps even he did not yet fully understand.

I should never have allowed you to choose me as your mentor. Selfish of me, and confusing to you. Poor child.

A complicated relationship I want to see play out whichever way it goes.

What are you reading this month?

Insecure Writer's Support Group


April is here! That means it's already time for yet another installment of the Insecure Writer's Support Group! You can visit the site and join us at the previous link. Also be sure to visit Alex J. Cavanaugh, our founder, and co-hosts to show them some love!

I've already said how I'm doing last week, so here is a little something from the support group heads:

The IWSG’s focus is on our writers. Each month, from all over the globe, we are a united group sharing our insecurities, our troubles, and our pain. So, in this time when our world is in crisis with the covid-19 pandemic, our optional question this month is: how are things in your world?

I want to hear from you! Stay safe out there.

Monthly Review

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What a difference a month makes.

A month ago, I started Door Dashing to make some extra money. 2 weeks later, the corona virus hit my state, and yesterday, I heard there was a case in one of the local school districts, so with my compromised immune system, I am officially home for 5 of 7 days. I still have to come into the office 2 days because of my timekeeping duties, but when I receive a laptop with remote access, I will be home each day. Last week, just being home 4 days drove me a little crazy. I just have to find things to do, and I'm not without things to do!

Here is a list I posted to my personal Facebook:

Read more than 5 page at a time.
Finally get some artwork started.
Catch up on anime I never finished.
Watch more Chinese dramas and dònghuà (Chinese version of anime).
Get back on Duolingo.
See if I can still tell the BTS members apart.
Clean.

What are you doing while you're being safe and staying home as much as possible?

March Writing Update


Happy Wednesday!

I forgot about Wednesday Words last week, but I've been reading very sporadically this year, so I'm unfortunately on the same book I was reading February. I've been writing at a better pace, though, so at least I have that.

I hope everyone hasn't already gone stir-crazy with the quarantines and states of emergency. As a writer, reader, and a gamer, it's easy to say this is what I've prepared for my entire life, but there are extroverts and people with social depression out there who need the interaction with others. On the bright side, I heard on the radio that China only had one new case, so hopefully the end is near soon. Until it is, I get to telecommute three of my five work days, so I'll be . . . doing about the same amount of work, really, just while I'm also doing laundry.

Yesterday, I joined a potential Instagram hop for authors of color, so hopefully we have enough to get that ball rolling. There's also a book giveaway attached to that, and because I purchased books for my church's Black History exhibit, I actually have one left that I can use for this!

Have a safe rest of the week!

Insecure Writer's Support Group: Pen Names Queston


It's already March! That means it's already time for yet another installment of the Insecure Writer's Support Group! You can visit the site and join us at the previous link. Also be sure to visit Alex J. Cavanaugh, our founder, and our co-hosts to show them some love!

The question for this month is: Other than the obvious holiday traditions, have you ever included any personal or family traditions/customs in your stories?

I can't think of any off the bat, so I don't think I have. But, as I said, I'm working on a contemporary romance, so that will most likely be where one will pop up.

In other news, I want to see what others think: I've had this corny idea in my head for a while to change my pen name depending on the genre I'm writing. This would mainly be for if I'm still self-publishing, I think, and I don't even plan to branch out of speculative fiction too often. But I am working on a contemporary romance. Would fantasy readers get confused if I kept my pen name but the book is a romance? I would like to be easy to find across the board, but I kind of want my name to reflect the genre as well. Maybe I'm thinking too much into it, though. What do you all think?

Monthly Review

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IT IS THE END OF FEBRUARY! That's crazy. That also means it's time for my monthly review, so here we go!

Most of the good things have happened in the past week. I wrote about 1400 more words in Divided Princess since last Wednesday. I'm really moving on that, and I'm excited. I think I've also figured out a piece of the reason for the plot that's been missing, so fleshing that out will be fun. I might actually do a brainstorming session on that.

That said, my church had their Black History Month program last Saturday, which included an exhibition, so I had my first author table!





It was so exciting. All but 2 books were sold; I donated one to a free library outside of the church; and someone may buy the other Sunday. I definitely kept my name tag and ripped the one on the wall off when I left. I have to buy more business cards! I'm so happy. I created two recipes from the story, so I passed those out as well. I'm in the process of getting the key ingredients so I can actually make them myself. My sister gave me ground deer meat, and she's ordering goat's milk for me. That's as close to elk and sheep's milk as I can get.

Health-wise, I'm fat, haha (only to me, I know), but my pulmonary function test went well this past Monday. My last PET scan showed I was responding well to chemo, so things are looking on the up and up! My hair is getting a little thin in the front, so we'll see if I have to shave my head. I wear wigs sometimes anyway, so if so, I'm ready; not emotionally, but provisionally anyway. They gave me a new medicine to combat nausea because the original one wasn't working. Big difference in how I feel afterwards now. I did a lot more than I usually do the days after treatment, so that's really good. Chemotherapy has come a long way from even when my pop-pop was sick 20 years ago. If anyone of you gets sick with a specific cancer, I recommend going to a place like Fox Chase, which is where I'm going. I have a doctor who specializes in Hodgkin's lymphoma, and that makes all the difference than what my local hospitals have.

Work is going well, too. We have a few job duty shifts to ease the load of our Admin II; and I don't mind a couple more tasks. We're also interviewing, and I'll be on my first interview panel! Fortunately, the questions are already laid out. I'll probably feel as nervous as the interviewees. Wish my luck! haha

I started Door Dashing this week to make a few extra dollars on days I'm free and feeling well. Hopefully that helps ease some of the costs I have. Last year I tried transcription work, which is okay if you have the time, and I just don't, not the kind that transcription takes up anyway. You spend half the time just looking for audio with good sound quality, and you don't get paid for that! The money I did make certainly came in handy, though. So if you do want to try it, Rev.com is the place to go.

(All this free advertising. *shaking my head*)

I hope you had a great February. If you participate in Lent, which starts today, I hope you get something spiritually fulfilling out of this season. I will see you all in MARCH.

February Writing Update


This will be a short post. February is moving much more quickly that January, I believe. It's already the 3rd Wednesday of the month, which means I share a writing update. As of yesterday, I have successfully done the following:


  • written 1326 words in Divided Princess
  • written 460 words in my asexual romance WIP

Winning!

I'm glad the brain juices are flowing again, and hopefully once my treatments are done, I'll eventually get back to full gear. I'm halfway there, and I feel like this experience will turn up in a story, too. I would just like to be far away from it if it does.

One of the things I'm trying to work out for DP is the meat of the plot. I know what's happening and partially why, but I need to figure out the underlying why that brings it all together. I have A and Z. I just need the rest of the letters to fall in line.

Welp, that's all for this week! What are you working on?

Wednesday Words: N.K. Jemisin's Dreamblood Duology


Happy Wednesday!

We are almost halfway through February, and that means it's time for another installment of Wednesday Words, where I share with you what I am reading.

So, I was planning to read N.K. Jemisin's Far Sector this week, but when I opened my Kindle, I realized I had bought the second comic and not the first, so I will get that Friday. My error gives me a chance to catch up on two books of hers I haven't read yet: The Killing Moon, and The Shadowed Sun in The Dreamblood Duology.


I think I read a page or two of The Killing Moon; I have a sample on my Kindle. Also, I absolutely love Norah's writing, so I'm ashamed to not have read this one yet! Because I have a collection of the two books, instead of sharing lines, I will provide the premise for both and hope the second doesn't spoil the first for me. Eesh. 

THE CITY BURNED BENEATH THE DREAMING MOON

In the ancient city-state of Gujaareh, peace is the only law. Upon its rooftops and among the shadows of its cobbled streets wait the Gatherers - the keepers of this peace. Priests of the dream-goddess, their duty is to harvest the magic of the sleeping mind and use it to heal, soothe...and kill those judged corrupt.

But when a conspiracy blooms within Gujaareh's great temple, the Gatherer Ehiru must question everything he knows. Someone, or something, is murdering innocent dreamers in the goddess's name, and Ehiru must now protect the woman he was sent to kill - or watch the city be devoured by war and forbidden magic

---


(THE SHADOWED SUN)

Gujaareh, the city of dreams, suffers under the imperial rule of the Kisuati Protectorate. A city where the only law was peace now knows violence and oppression. A mysterious and deadly plague now haunts the citizens of Gujaareh, dooming the infected to die screaming in their sleep. Someone must show them the way.

Ooh, these sound like they'll be dark! I'm here for it.

What are you reading this week? If you haven't already, in honor of Black History Month, please pick up a book by a black author, past or present. I have one out, if you're interested. *wink*

Insecure Writer's Support Group


It's really the first Wednesday in February already! That means it's time for another installment of the Insecure Writer's Support Group, created by Alex J. Cavanaugh. Visit him and the main IWSG Website to join us in the fun.

The optional question for this month is: Has a single photo or work of art ever inspired a story? What was it and did you finish it?

I haven't had a photo or work of art inspire a whole story, but I have used art as inspiration for characters, monsters, etc. Most prominent is the design of the iron giants in Fractured Princess, which I modeled after Umberto Boccioni's "Unique Forms of Continuity in Space."


My version isn't as scary as Boccioni's, but I meant for it to be. D'ah well.

What about you all?

Monthly Review & Quarterly Goals

I just realized my Wednesdays are off a week because IWSG happened on the 2nd Wednesday this month. AH, well! I'm not going back and editing those posts (I'm totally going back and editing those posts).

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I'm not going to ignore it: there's been a lot of death this season. I'm sure the death toll doesn't ramp up November through January (heck, maybe it does), but that's certainly what it feels like. I hope everyone is taking care of themselves and hugging loved ones if you hug.

On the 31st, I will be halfway through my rounds of chemotherapy, thank God. I would love for the remaining three months to go by quickly on the days I  need them to go by quickly (i.e.: when I'm nauseated by the chemo and the medicine they give me doesn't work, or when my body aches like I have the flu and I just want to lay in bed until it stops) and slowly on the days I need them to go by slowly (i.e.: when none of the above is happening). However, that doesn't always happen, so I will just take things a day at a time and keep it pushing.

I reworked a whole chapter in Divided Princess this past weekend, which helped add some more action to the story, and I'm happy with it. Now, I think I can push forward with the story again. I looked over my NA fantasy I mentioned was at a full stop last week, and I put some notes on what I'll be changing in that one, also. Hopefully, I will be picking back up with it soon.

Sadly, I'm still on the same book from the beginning of the month, so I hope to be reading something new by February's Wednesday Words.

Some goals I have for this quarter are:

1) to eat better. I'm on the Daniel fast this month, and having stuck to it most of the 21 days felt like a big step in the right direction;

2) to exercise a little more on the days I feel good. With fasting comes losing water and muscle weight, so I need to get in the habit of toning that back into shape when I'm eating meat and bread again;

3) to cook more, or at least grocery shop food to eat more. The amount of fast food we usually eat is probably appalling; and

4) to read and write more. It's been a little slow for at least a year, due to circumstances obviously, but I think I can try to do a little better regardless.

I hope everyone has had a good start to 2020. What are some goals you have this quarter?

January Writing Update

Well, I'm off to a good start. I'll pretend like I posted this Wednesday.


It's already the 4th Wednesday of January, and I can't believe it. We're currently behind a week, because I forgot that IWSG was on the 2nd Wednesday this month, but that's okay. We're going to pretend it's the 3rd Wednesday. On 3rd Wednesdays, I usually forget to post on time, and then I give a writing update, so here we go.

I've actually been writing a little bit! I had a few bursts of inspiration for the asexual romance I've thought about doing for a couple years now. I now have names for my main characters, a couple major plot points, and some scenes planned! I want to kick it into full gear on this one soon. I haven't written romance in so long, but I know it will feel natural when I get back into it.

A couple months back, I also put down some words on a new supernatural fiction that I'm extra excited about featuring nephilim. I've wanted to write about these creatures for a minute, and I feel no one has gotten them right so far--though that's not totally fair to say, because there isn't much information on them in the first place. Still, I'm excited to give it a go.

Divided Princess needs more work before I can go on. I feel like the chapters I've written are okay, but not much happened, so I am going backwards for a little bit to insert some action before I move forward. I did put down a couple scenes, though, one of which is the last scene, and I'm extremely excited about it. It's something that didn't make the many cuts of Fractured Princess, but it will definitely work now.

My NA fantasy is on hold at the moment, just because of all the work I've done on the above. I had been reworking it, though, and I like where I'm going with those changes, too.


Have a great week! See you (on time) next week!

Wednesday Words: The Black Veins



Welcome back to Wednesday Words!


On second Wednesdays, I wear pink. No, just kidding. I share what I've been reading. We're currently behind a week, because I forgot that IWSG was on the 2nd Wednesday this month, but that's okay. This week, it is independent author Ashia Monet's The Black Veins!


This cover is intriguing. I love the color scheme. I mentioned meeting Ashia at the Ace/Aro Conference I went to during my July Monthly Review. She's aromantic, and she wanted to write a romance-free book where the relationship focus is familial and platonic. We don't get to see that often, so I was glad for it. There is also a list of trigger warnings and what pages they're on, so that's good for people who do have traumas. Here is the blurb:

In a world where magic thrives in secret city corners, a group of magicians embark on a road trip—and it’s the "no-love-interest", found family adventure you’ve been searching for.
Sixteen-year-old Blythe is one of seven Guardians: magicians powerful enough to cause worldwide panic with a snap of their fingers. But Blythe spends her days pouring latte art at her family’s coffee shop, so why should she care about having apocalyptic abilities?

She’s given a reason when magician anarchists crash into said coffee shop and kidnap her family.

Heartbroken but determined, Blythe knows she can’t save them alone. A war is brewing between two magician governments and tensions are too high. So, she packs up her family’s bright yellow Volkswagen, puts on a playlist, and embarks on a road trip across the United States to enlist the help of six strangers whose abilities are unparalleled—the other Guardians.

I just realized I never read the blurb. I recently reached the kidnapping scene and wasn't prepared. So far, I'm intrigued by what will ensue. Blythe is about to leave in the Volkswagen, so the story is really about to move forward.

I don't want to go too far ahead in this one and spoil anything, so I'll share a line from an early page using random.org: page 23.

Frost Glade sounds amazing, it really does. She would rather see it with her family, where her mother can fall in love with that place again, than be trapped on its shores because the Trident Republic wants to kill her.

What are you reading this week?