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For the Love of Words: January Recap + February Look

Another month has come and gone and we are fully into 2018 now. My fingers have finally adjusted to reaching for the “8” instead of the “7” on the keyboard and I’ll admit, I’m rather impressed by how well the new year started out. In terms of writing and reading, I did better than I expected going into the month, so I’m hoping that momentum carries through to February.

For the Love of Words: February

Books I’m Reading

As always though, I want to start with a recap of January. During the month of January, I had four books that I wanted to read.

I read all of these, finishing The Woman in Cabin 10 over this past weekend. Knowing that I was still going to keep reading, I picked up the next book in the In Death series, Holiday in Death. I’m about a third of the way done with that book, so I’m including it in my February list.

The first three books were all in a series, but Vengeance in Death was my favorite. The main character and her husband were pitted against each other and there were a lot of scenes that broke my heart in a strange way.

The Woman in Cabin 10 left me with mixed feelings. It picked up in the end, but I wasn’t a fan of the main character. Part of my distaste for her was definitely because she has the same first name as me. So, when I didn’t like the main character to begin with, discovering we had the same name made me like her less because I don’t want to be associated with the character. She became better in the end, but I felt like there were options the author could have taken to expand upon things in the story.

I will say, with The Woman in Cabin 10, despite the weary beginning, I finished this book in about three days, so that’s always a good sign.

In February, I’m actually upping the book goal to five. I’m already a third of the way done with the first book, so I’m feeling like if I keep reading at the rate I’m going, I can read more. Yes, I realize that at five books, that’s more than a book a week. So what’s on my reading list this month?

The last two books are ones I picked up with The Book of the Month, which is a subscription box for books (you can get $5 off your first box by signing up with this link).

I think my reading goal was to read 25 books this year before I found the In Death series. If I read that whole series just by itself, I’ll have easily passed that 25 book threshold.

Now, let’s talk about my writing so far.

Books I’m Writing

I’m almost done with Hit List’s current draft. As in I’m planning to finish it today or tomorrow. After that, I have no intention of going back to the Cassie Morgan Series until April, at the very minimum. I need a creative refresh, something to shake it up.

So over the next two months, I want to write a series of novellas, I’m thinking closer to 20,000-30,000 words instead of the 70,000 words that I’m doing for Cassie Morgan. Most of February will be spent developing a plot and really taking my time before I jump in and start writing. When I first started working with Cassie Morgan, I was thirteen, so the idea of plot didn’t quite sit in my mind. That was 11 years ago and this is my first attempt to plan a series all the way through.

I’m hoping to do three short stories, but with the option to keep going if I want to do so later on in a few years.

There’s so much going on in my head and in my bookshelf, I really do hope that the rest of this year continues in the same direction. The next 28 days are going to fly by and I hope your month is full of fantastic reads, too.

 

For the Love of Words: January 2018

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I know we’re already more than halfway through the first month of the new year, but I figure better late than never. Last year, I started doing quarterly updates on both my writing life and my reading life. Now that I’m reading more and more every month, I wanted to challenge myself to do these updates monthly. This month is a little bit different since it’s the new year, but first I’d like to recap the last quarter of 2017.

For the Love of Words: January 2018

I had a list of six books that I wanted to read in the last quarter, and I think I actually read all but two of them – and then some.

Settle for More by Megyn Kelly

Poison and Prejudice by Chelsea Fields

Who Killed These Girls? by Beverly Lowery

All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda

The One with all the Writing Advice by Sean Platt and Johnny B. Truant

Hardcore Twenty-Four by Janet Evanovich

The Stranger Beside Me by Ann Rule

I read all these books except The Stranger Beside Me and Who Killed These Girls? It was my intention to read both, but at the end of November, I actually got caught up in a new-to-me book series, which is what I’m currently in the middle of reading.

During Thanksgiving weekend, I picked up a book that I’d had on my bookshelf, Naked in Death. The book was written by Nora Roberts, using a pen name, J.D. Robb. Before this, I had never read a Nora Roberts book, but I loved it.

In December, I read the third and second books, Glory in Death and Immortal in Death. After that, I went to the library and checked out four books, but only read one of them because I wanted to come back to the In Death series.

So as a final recap, the books I read over quarter four:

  • Settle for More
  • Poison and Prejudice
  • All the Missing Girls
  • Hardcore Twenty-Four
  • Naked in Death
  • Glory in Death
  • Immortal in Death

Given how busy it was at my day job, I’m pretty happy with that end list. I do most of my reading during down times at work, so the busier it is, the more my reading suffers. I’m trying to get back into the habit of reading right before bed. Call it one of my New Years’ Resolutions.

Now that we’re halfway through the month, my reading list for this month is a work in progress. I’m continuing with the In Death series. There are over forty books in this series, and I’m hoping to have them all read by 2019. I know, I’m crazy.

This month, I’m doing three of the books and then adding a different mystery novel to the mix.

I’m about halfway done with Ceremony in Death so I’m going to need to step it up a little bit if I want to finish all these books by February 1st.

Now that we’ve talked about my reading, I want to turn to my writing. This draft has been hard. There are a lot of parts to the book I’m writing and I’m struggling to just stay focused. Because writing is such a long process, I’m finding myself distracted. After I finish this draft of Hit List, I’m going to take a break from the book series. I want to work on something new, but I’m not sure what I want that to be.

I was thinking I could maybe do a short story series, but I’m not forcing myself to make any decisions until I hit the end of this book. So for now, I’m kind of in limbo, running toward the end of the road.

For now, I’m trying to stay flexible on my writing.

Tell me, though, what are you reading this month?

Coming in 2018

A new year is here and it feels so nice. Often times, I feel the new year can be hard for me, but this one is different. I feel like I’m in a good place. Especially after the last two years, which were rough, I’m feeling optimistic – and that goes for my writing as well. So today, I’m sharing what’s coming in 2018.

Coming in 2018

Since 2017 saw no new titles published, I’m hoping to publish some this year. It definitely hurts not to have new material for people to read, but it’s not a race – it’s about patience. Today, though, I want to recap exactly what I’m hoping to accomplish in my writing this year. I’m focusing on two series that I think I’ll be working on, but a lot of things can change in twelve months. I can’t wait to come back in December and see what actually happens!

The Cassie Morgan Series

I’ve mentioned multiple times that I’m trying to get both Justice & Lies, the third book, and Hit List, the fourth one, done at once so I can publish them back-to-back. Given the way Justice & Lies ends, it makes sense because Hit List picks up shortly after the end of the third one. My hope is that these two stories are so intertwined, you could pick up Justice & Lies, without having read the first two, and still feel like you understand what’s going on.

Currently, I’m 54,000 words into a Hit List draft, with probably 15,000 words to go, My hope is to be done by the end of January, but after that, I’m taking some time off from the series. We all go through creative burnouts, so it’s important to see those for what they are. I’ve been working on these two books for a year and a half straight now, and I need a break!

Hopefully, I’ll come back to them in April or May, but I don’t anticipate coming in before that. I’m hoping for a September or October release date for Justice & Lies, which would be over two years after Double Played came out.

The Short Stories

I’ve also mentioned these a few times – the short stories, but these stories are still so… abstract. I’ve got two ideas I’m toying with and I’m not totally sure which direction I want to go in. One is much darker than The Cassie Morgan Series, more in line with something like The Girl on the Train or All the Missing Girls. Then my second idea is more light-hearted, almost cozy mystery type. I suspect at the end of my writing career, I’ll have written both, but for now, I’m not sure which direction I want to go in.

I do want to try some new ways of publishing – with the short stories, I’m hoping these can be faster and I can promote them more. All the “traditional” rules that I follow as an indie author, I’d like to throw those out the window and just see what I can do – experiment with these short stories.

Either way, as I have a goal to read a whole entire book series that consists of 46 books (right now) this year, I’m also hoping to write a lot of words, and of course, I hope you stick around for the fun!

My Year in 2017: Writing Edition

Hello end of the year! 2017 was a insane year for me, but throughout it all, I still had my writing. This year didn’t quite end up the way I thought it would.

My Year in 2017: Writing Edition

The year was spent working on two books – two books I thought would be out by now.

Justice & Lies is the third book in the Cassie Morgan series, and over some rewrites, it drastically changed. The main plot line didn’t really change – I’ve had that pinned down for a few years, but the order of events shuffled around. Given how tight the time frame is between Justice & Lies and Hit List is, one change can have a huge impact on both books.

While I’ve rewritten both books a couple times, I’m almost done with a rewrite of Hist List. A big part of my editing process is just rewriting the whole draft a few times – it allows me to get a better understanding about what I may or may not need in a book and it allows me to keep stories tight.

I’m hoping this is the last rewrite, but after – I’ll still be doing some heavy edits to make sure all the details line up across both stories – and with previous stories.

This year has involved a lot of behind-the-scenes work to make sure 2018 features some really awesome stories. There isn’t much else to say except stay tuned!

My Year in 2017: Reading Edition

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Every successful writer must be a reader first. For me, it was my love for reading books that inspired me to start writing.

Back in college, I lost touch with reading for fun. I graduated in 2015, but 2016 didn’t see a lot of reading because of my job. There were always specific book series I’d make sure to read the latest addition, but for the most part, I didn’t seek out new books.My Year in 2017: Reading Edition

 

That changed this year. With a new job, I had some downtime to actually read and since June when I started, I’ve read sixteen books, including a few series. Granted, five of my books were a part of one series I was rereading, but re-reading is good for you.

Given my spike in reading again, I wanted to break down some of my favorite reads, plus my thoughts on some interesting books.

1. Favorite Re-Read – Fox & O’Hare Series

The Fox & O’Hare books are a series of five books by Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg. These books are fun reads that make me laugh – and that’s what I love about reading. Reading books that make you laugh but keep you on your seat at the same time are my favorite. I want my mystery novels to have a little bit of humor in them, too.

2. Favorite Stand Alone – Big Little Lies

I started reading this book as I watched the miniseries, and I was totally blown away by how honest the adaptation stayed to the book. The book was smart, witty, and had plenty of dark humor – which is my favorite kind of humor. Now that they’ve announced a second season of the show, I’m curious about how they’ll extend this story because I felt the ending was pretty close to perfect.

Honorable Mention for Stand-Alone: The Girl on the Train

3. Favorite New Series – In Death

This series is one that I just started over Thanksigiving break. Written by Nora Roberts (using the pen name J.D. Robb), these futuristic stories of a cop in New York are addicting. I’m currently on the third book in a series that has more than 40 titles to it. I’m hoping that next year, I’ll be able to get through most of these books. I’ve done a little bit of research from what people think of the newer titles, and these books seem to hold up over the series – which is a refreshing thing.

Honorable Mention for Favorite Series: Eat, Pray, Die Series

4. Favorite Non-Fiction – Settle for More

This memoir from NBC News’ Megyn Kelly was written last year when she was still at Fox News. Regardless of politics, I’ve always found her a little fascinating, so to read her book was an interesting look at her life – including a little bit about her experience dealing with sexual harassment. Even though this was written before the shift in the narrative, it feels very timely given everything we’ve learned this year about some pretty powerful men in the world.

While I fell back in love with reading this year, I’m hoping to read even more next year. Right now I mostly read at work, but I’m working on getting into the habit of reading before bed again, so there’ll be more books to finish!

What were your favorite books this year?