Saturday, March 12, 2016

The Pros & Cons of Focus

I am not a writer who constantly has six different ideas going on all at once. Despite my procrastination tendencies, I tend to focus on a single idea at a time.

Now, this isn't to say I don't have a lot of ideas-- I've got plenty -- but I don't try to make notes on them or write snippets on them, let alone try to write them at the same time as any other project. Currently, I'm working on Dead Metal Magic, my parallel dimension story with a PTSD suffering former soldier and her badass assassin lady lover. I've been pretty solidly focused on this project since the tail end of October.

I've got one Kitsune story (working title is Biting Butts) that I've had brewing in my brain for about two years now, but it's never been the right time to work on that. Jenn Basel and I had come up with an idea about two lesbian witches being matched up by their familiars (which I still want to do some day because hilarious shenanigans).

My point is, even though I have a lot of ideas for future projects, I always focus on a single book at a time. And this has its pros and cons.

One benefit of this is that I don't get confused on what goes where with which project, and I get to spend a lot of time with the characters and the world. Beyond that, I also get where I'm going a wee bit faster than I might otherwise.

One consequence of this is that I get burned out faster, as well. When I hit the last stretch of You Can't Fix Dead, my last project, I was so burned out. I just wanted to finish the damn thing. I barely bothered with basic description, just trying to get the plot over and done with so I could take a break. Don't get me wrong, I loved the story. I still do. I have so much love for the characters I created and the emotions that I poured into that book.

I recently went back and read a good portion of it, and I have to say that the book contains some of my most emotional and poignant writing. But it also contains some of my laziest writing as well.

I'm trying to learn how to recognize my burn out signs. Am I avoiding the book? Am I actually burned out or am I just stuck? Did I write myself into a corner? Have I gotten bored with a specific storyline, and if so will my readers get bored with it?

But to be perfectly honest, I also struggle with depression. So I have to determine what is legitimate burn out and what is depression creeping in to screw with my progress?

It's been about two weeks since the last time I made real progress on DMM, and today I'm headed up to the coffee shop with April Holec so I can try to get some work done. I'm hoping that my lack of productivity lately has just been depression, and not burnout.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Book Review: A Darker Shade Of Magic

Kell is one of the last Travelers—rare magicians who choose a parallel universe to visit. 
Grey London is dirty, boring, lacks magic, ruled by mad King George. Red London is where life and magic are revered, and the Maresh Dynasty presides over a flourishing empire. White London is ruled by whoever has murdered their way to the throne. People fight to control magic, and the magic fights back, draining the city to its very bones. Once there was Black London—but no one speaks of that now.
Officially, Kell is the Red Traveler, personal ambassador and adopted Prince of Red London, carrying the monthly correspondences between royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell smuggles for those willing to pay for even a glimpse of a world they’ll never see. This dangerous hobby sets him up for accidental treason. Fleeing into Grey London, Kell runs afoul of Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She robs him, saves him from a dangerous enemy, then forces him to another world for her 'proper adventure'.
But perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, Kell and Lila will first need to stay alive—trickier than they hoped.

After weeks of hearing about the genius that is A Darker Shade Of Magic, I finally picked the book up at my local library. I sincerely hoped that it would live up to the hype.

Guys. Guys, this book more than lived up to the hype.

From page 1, I was hooked. This isn't the usual style of book that I tend to fall for, but Schwab's writing is so crisp and clear, poetic and dramatic, I couldn't help but trip into love.

Victoria Schwab has created an amazing three dimensional universe with this book. The characters are bright and complex; I am particularly fond of Lila, the crossdressing thief seeking adventure, no matter what it might cost her. Kell, the Not-Prince who wants to feel alive and like he has some kind of control in his life.

I want more of Prince Rhy, the charming young man (I'm unsure if this was confirmed for sure, but I'm fairly certain that Rhy is 100% hella bisexual and it's beautiful) who just wants to be a good, strong King and wants his brother to be safe and happy.

But as much as I loved the characters, and the plot was inspired (like, no, really, it was inspired as hell), I have to say that the world building itself stole the show.

With overlapping parallel dimensions that communicate and war with each other, different languages, the sheer detail of the Londons blew my mind. This book is talent and skill at its purest.

So if you're a fan of political intrigue, sadistic kings, sentient magical systems, crossdressing thieves, and the kind of brotherly love that makes your heart hurt, I highly recommend this book. I sincerely look forward to picking up the sequel soon, A Gathering Of Shadows. 

OVERALL RATING: 5 of 5 Stars

Thursday, March 3, 2016

The Hope for Productivity

Last month, I started doing the Sticker Process to try and increase my productivity.

I meant to do weekly updates to show my progress, but to be honest, time got away from me. February zoomed by like my cat chasing a hair tie. (For the record, Mick The Cat is fanatical about hair ties.)

So I didn't do the updates. But I will say that I managed to do a decent amount of writing last month, clocking 5,984 words on DMM, the current work in progress. I also recently joined a local gym and have been going a couple times a week.

All in all, despite the fact that I'm hoping to move in the next month or so, I've been pretty productive in other aspects of my life.

This month, in the photo to the left, you'll notice that I have no stickers  so far(except on Saturday and that's my YAY TIME TO VOTE reminder) primarily because I've been working.

Based on my sticker count from last month, I'm most productive on days when I don't have to go to the DayJob and when I can walk down to the coffee shop.

My goal this month is to beat my 5k from last month and double it. We'll see if that actually happens, but I'm optimistic.

I also picked up a few books at the library this past week. I've been bad about reading over the last few years, and I very much want to return to my old habits.

Right now, my TBR Shelf includes:

Dead Witch Walking by Kim Harrison
The Good, The Bad, & The Undead by Kim Harrison
A Darker Shade Of Magic by V.E Schwab
Court Of Fives by Kate Elliot
The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff
A Court Of Thorns And Roses by Sarah J Maas

With the Harrison books, I have read them before but it's been a few years and I'm actively trying to read more Urban Fantasy again. I've hit this point where I'm loyal to, like, four UF series and I don't bother with any of the others on the shelves. I hate that I've limited myself like that, so I'm trying to break out of it.

I've heard nothing but pure awe from those who've read ADSOM by Schwab, so I'm hoping that it lives up to the hype. COF, again, I've heard amazing things about it.

Years ago, I interviewed Brenna Yovanoff after the announcement of The Replacement's release and I loved the idea of it, but I never got around to actually reading it. So I'm going to rectify that.

And I'm an absolute fangirl over SJ Maas' Throne of Glass series, and I'm hoping that ACOTAR is going to be just as good.

As I finish each book, I'm going to try and post reviews. I'm finishing up Three Days To Dead by Kelly Meding right now, so hopefully I'll be starting on the shelf soon.

So stay tuned for reviews and Sticker Updates, folks!