What I’m Writing
- discover terms like “milk eyes” (the blue or grey colour of newborns before they change colour) don’t actually exist outside of my own head;
- debate whether or not spices explode, and then what ‘explode’ actually entails (the Internet is non-conclusive, so we landed on that spices are highly flammable, and spice dust would catch fire really quickly, but that it doesn’t seem likely to blow up a building);
- and learn that while I’m a huge anime nerd so therefore know what a gundam/mecha is (and even ate gundam-shaped taiyaki at the Gundam Café in Tokyo), not everyone does and may need a little more description to understand the concept, especially since it is Fantasy and not Sci-Fi.
What I’m Researching
What I’m Reading
- Captive Prince 3: King’s Rising by CS Pacat. Worth the wait!
- One Glimpse by Lydia Gastrell, the second book in the m/m regency Indulgence series.
- The Secret Casebook of Simon Feximal and Think of England by KJ Charles. After reading A Seditious Affair, I embarked on a KJ Charles binge. The Secret Casebook is the supernatural Sherlock Homes. Think of England is a brilliant thriller set in 1907 England.
- 10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works by Dan Harris. He reminded me that a) I need to meditate more to learn to control the voices of shame and self-doubt in my head, and b) remember to focus on what I can do, rather than aiming for results that are out of my control (like what people say in their reviews, or how many books I sell. What’s important is what I do to get there.)
What I’m Writing
What I’m Daring
- Taking a resort vacation in the first place. I’ve always turned up my nose at them. I’m a backpacker, and resorts don’t fit my mentality. I mean, what do you do all day?? Relax on the beach, apparently. I agreed to try, so I could figure out whether I actually didn’t like it or I just thought I wouldn’t (like pickles). I also seriously need to learn how to relax and recharge. As it turns out, I like sitting on the beach and reading in the shade, but only for about half the day, and then I grow restless and want to explore. I could do this for a weekend, but not as a whole trip.
- Who says resort vacations should only include resorts? I took with me my backpacker mentality, and we ventured out to Varadero town (which is as much a tourist town as you can imagine, even in a communist country), to the nearby city of Matanzas (which is about as different from Varadero as possible), and then took an overnight trip to Havana (which was way too short — you need at least 4 days in Havana, especially if you unexpectedly find yourself in love with Colonial history). Did I mention I only speak about a few words in Spanish?
- Learning to play the violin. As soon as I recovered from getting ill in Cuba, I threw myself into figuring out how I could learn to play the violin. As it turns out, getting started is easy. Step 1: go to music store and rent violin (for only about $20 a month!). Step 2: find a local music teacher. Step 3: watch tons of youtube videos.
What I’m Researching
- A lot about psychopaths, especially the non-criminal, non-violent kind, for the Cursed series. Yes, there are psychopaths in the world who aren’t serial killers (or corporations). Particularly, they’re marked by a disregard for the feelings of others, a living in the now mentality, and the need for thrills without thinking about the consequences. Psychopaths can feel empathy with others, but only if they try. For them, it’s a skill, like anything else. Actually, some psychopathic qualities are also positive qualities for the rest of us — like taking action now rather than wading through choices and procrastinating, and taking bold risks (although knowing the risks is important for avoiding them).
- About PTSD, some on the symptoms, but more on the process of recovery. Things like finding safety again, finding one’s own power.
- How to forgive the unforgivable. You can’t force forgiveness, and it’s really unhealthy to try even to move your therapy ahead. Acceptance is the first step.
- A lot about Cuba — it’s history and how it is now, and not to mention what to do and what to see. I think we managed a nice mix of Colonial and Revolutionary history.
- After seeing the Colonial-era cannons of Havana and having a strong visceral reaction reminding me of the Temeraire series, I want to learn how cannons work. I also learned a lot about ship-building at the Museo de Navegación at the Castillo de la Real Fuerza.
What I’m Reading
- Lord Mouse by Mason Thomas. The Dark Defiles meets M/M Romance.
- The Telling, by Eden Winters. A contemporary m/m romance following the recovery and coming out of a PTSD soldier in a small backwater town. This isn’t my usual fare, but a reader really sold me on it.
- Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan. A vision for how schools should be (without the extra-surreal elements).
- For Whom the Bell Tolls by Hemingway. I struggled to find the right book to read in Cuba. I was advised to bring something light for reading on the beach. I decided to go the opposite approach, after remembering an article wondering why we gave up on tackling difficult reads on our lake holidays. I’m no where near finished, as it took a turn to the horrifying when describing the overthrow of a Fascist town. Too depressing for the beach.
- Captive Prince 3 is also on my list. I had to delay reading it because I was in Cuba without Internet access, and then I was horribly sick on my day off afterward. So I’m shoving it out of my mind until I have a full day to sprint through it, because let’s face it, that’s the only way to read C.S. Pacat.
For writing craft:
- The Shy Writer Reborn by C Hope Clark. Strategies and tactics for selling and promoting yourself.
- Making It in Historical Fiction by Libbie Hawker. Brilliant break-down of the essentials for creating historical fiction readers love.
- Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction by Jeff VanderMeer. This isn’t one you should get in ebook form. With all the artwork and formatting, you definitely need the paperback for the whole experience.
- Play it Again by The Guardian Editor Alan Rusbridger. Poking around the library after a symphony demonstration, and this fit my staying awake mindset this month. Rusbridger carves out 20 minutes (approximately) from his eighteen hour days to learn to play one of the most challenging pieces available.
- Listened to: 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think by Laura Vanderkam and Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport. Both excellent works on how to make the most out of your time!
Okay, I confess! I have been naughty. After swearing up and down (with my cats as my sworn witnesses) I would post an update for you every month… I skipped October’s. It wasn’t even that I forgot. I just skipped it.
For (good) reason.
Returning from my Vancouver trip, I suffered some serious post-trip ennui. The general my life is trickling through my fingers/I’m not reaching my full potential/I can’t even think what my perfect day would look like sort of thing. So the biggest thing I was working on last month was getting my life into a satisfying order. Which may have been interesting, but what I was working on? Hardly the stuff of legends, and the rest I didn’t want to announce just yet.
Oh, and finding a new place to live that didn’t suck the creativity out of me. My new hardwood floors and safe neighbourhood is just a bonus. 😉
Now November… That’s a horse of a different colour.
A couple of weeks ago, I sent out a survey to all my wonderful email subscriber readers asking what they wanted to see from me next. Which of my books did they first read? Which of my books have they read? What is their favourite series?
All very fascinating answers, some of which I expected, and some that I did not.
Thanks to that and the general overcoming of my malaise, this month I have actual announcements to make!
First of all, Damon Snow. During October, I completely rewrote Damon Snow 1, Nocturnal Lessons. The plot is (mostly) the same, but the writing is much, much better. I first published it last year, and when I re-read it, it was so very obvious how much I’ve grown as a writer. And while rewrites in general are tricky (I read more than one blog post that said never do this), I think this rewrite was worth it.
Especially because this month, I’m launching the Damon Snow Books 1-4 boxset. So if you’ve been waiting to read books 2-4, you’re gonna love this.
But that’s not my most exciting news.
While hobbling alongside my husband down a BC beach (sadly, I had sprained my ankle the weekend before the trip), I kept thinking about the reviews and emails I got over Nocturnal Confession. “When was the next book coming out?” they asked. I had to shake my head sadly. There are no more Damon Snows coming. *tear*
But, as I looked out over the water, I asked myself: Why couldn’t there be more Damon Snows? I already had some ideas for new books. So right then and there, I decided… I’m going to write another Damon Snow book.
(Sorry, there’s no fun codename, like Damon Snow IV – Unicorn Quest.)
I’m writing the first draft right now, which focuses on Damon, Byrne and Rogers as Byrne attempts to keep a promise and Damon struggles to negotiate this new relationship with Byrne, sans supernatural cures. Plus, horror!
Meanwhile, Snowmancer fans, I’m also working on the edits for Snowmancer II – codenamed Tawam Rohi. (Want a sneak peak at my inspiration? Check out my earlier What I’m Working On here.) Depending on my editing feedback, it’ll be released someone in the new year (with more specifics to come).
And don’t worry Cursed fans, I also have something for you. I’m outlining the next Cursed book, Blood Cursed. (If you read the original serial, this is Dusk Cursed updated and re-edited.) More details to come!
Outside of writing, I decided that it was time for me to quit roller derby and try something new. My husband and I joined the local kendo club. I figured some sword fighting experience would be good inspiration for any future sword fight scenes. Not that I have many (or any) right now, but with the right inspiration…
We only have the shinai right now (the bamboo swords), but kendo looks something like this:
Photo by Ajma, via Wikimedia Commons
(I just can’t seem to get away from the contact sports 😉