Out of jail.

The year is over, as is the wait.

I am out of Amazon jail and hope to remain that way (at least I can get the Queen published).

I don’t have super high hopes for what my inclusion back into KDP Select means or how it’s going to completely impact my sales, but I am glad that more readers will now have access to my books.

And on that note, I feel the correct celebration is one for my most recent protagonist, Liz, and the opening of the Museum of Ice Cream — a location she definitely would’ve visited in Los Angeles (well, when she wasn’t so comfortable tucked away at the Winchester).tumblr_oh35m8gto21u9ooogo1_540

One Year Later.

So, in November 2015, I wrote a list of goals for my ‘sabbatical’ year in 2016 (yup, that’s just how Type A I am).  Yesterday, Facebook reminded me that a year ago was my last day at NYUAD.  I thought it would be fun to dust off the original post and see what I had accomplished and where things were different.

  1. Edit 1st draft The Queen of England: Coronation
    1. Complete!
  2. Edit final draft The Queen of England: Coronation (to be complete at 75-80k)
    1. Complete!
  3. Publish The Queen of England: Coronation (and all that goes with it!)
    1. Nope.  Because of a number of reasons, I’m sticking to the fact that the book is nearly in its final form, but not completely there.  I have also not done nearly enough to support the book for marketing and promotion,
  4. Complete rough draft The Queen of England: Grand Tour (60K minimum, 15K complete).
    1. Complete!
  5. Edit 1st draft Lucky Penny (35-40k)
    1. Lol.  I didn’t even open the project once.
  6. Complete 1st draft The Queen of England: Grand Tour (pending time, energy and motivation)
    1. By December I was at least 100 pages into the first draft and as of now, am closing in on the completed first draft.
  7. Start rough draft A.U. (pending time, energy and motivation)
    1. Another lol — how much writing was I going to do exactly?  This will most likely be a project I get to later this year.
  8. Update all YA projects with back material
    1. Complete!
  9. Update Room 702/Life After Joe with back material
    1. Complete!
  10. Finish the pilot of DINKs (25-30 pages, screenplay)
    1. Lol, j/k.  Another one not opened.
  11. Drabbles for the Queen trilogy (January 2016).
    1. Complete!
  12. Maybe come up with a new cover for The Line (celebrating 10 years in February!).
    1. Realized the book is actually celebrating ten years THIS year and have not done anything.
  13. Follow up on the 94176128391 websites, articles and posts I have tagged to follow up as research, etc.
    1. Mostly, yes.

Overall, I think I was realistic in what I could accomplish.  While I didn’t start some projects, I did begin another manuscript that’s not even on the list (The Queen of England: Rogue Nation) and made it 20K in.  This is of course not including the thousands of words I dedicated to my food blog, A to Za’atar.  November 2015 Courtney just didn’t really know how things were going to go, and that’s totally fine.  While I won’t make specific predictions for this year, I predict finishing Queen #3 and starting A.U. (something I’m really looking forward to).  I also could make some progress on an unpublished (but complete) novel I co-wrote with a friend (Take One! at Mulholland High).  I’d like to continue my food and travel writing and work on getting paid more.  Let’s see!

  1. 60kgs and under – my new permanent weight class.
    1. LOL.  I’ve definitely not been keeping it tight.  Part of it is dining out so often, and part of it is sheer laziness.  Although I have been going to Flywheel, there is definitely more that I can do.  The struggle continues.
  2. Move and set up of our new place in Dubai.
    1. Complete!  (Even if we just recently finalized everything, it’s still before the year mark).
  3. Household maintenance (as a stay at home wife/author, I completely accept this responsibility.  My inner feminist is a bit hesitant about not having a regular paycheck, but as a partner, I accept that this is a good balance – one only made possible by Hubs working full time.)
    1. Easier than I thought.  Honestly, we’re still making lunches and dinners, and I’m happy to coordinate most of the traditionally ‘female’ endeavors in our life.  It’s worked well for us, so I’m still not in any hurry to go back to a regular job (I like my current situation just fine and am super privileged and lucky to have the choice).
  4. Online course, better website management, and other social media type skills (analytics, SEO and other terminology I shouldn’t be scared of).
    1. Still gun shy on this one.  I usually make some small amount of progress, only to get beat down by some frustratingly difficult thing that I keep not understanding (and everyone else seems to have no trouble with).
  5. 20% increase in ‘new’ traffic and followers across all social media (Pinterest, Twitter, blog, Tumblr).
    1. Maybe?  I’m not sure why I made this a priority.  Yes, things are tipping up, and that has got to be enough.
  6. Regular flossing.
    1. Uh… Next question.
  7. Beating insomnia once and for all.
    1. Sort of?  I have significantly limited how often I take any OTC (or any other) sleep aid.  Do I still have nights where it takes me 2+ hours to fall asleep?  You bet.  More days are a ‘win’ than not, but I still wish it was easier for me to pass out every night.
  8. Do something with the boutique villa hotel idea thing.
    1. A non-starter, but hey, it’s still fun to get a crazy idea with friends now and then…
  9. New hobby or skill (I’m thinking guitar lessons or getting back into fencing or salsa dancing).
    1. While technically not a skill, the past year was very positive for two reasons I would categorize here: K9 Friends (where I volunteer once a week in the office) and a new best friend (Zoe).  I’ve also done my best to maintain many friendships from my NYU days (let’s face it, when we get older, some things are just easier not to put effort into, and I think it’s easy to get lazy with friends).  Hopefully, some new skill is on the horizon, but with everything above, it’s all about finding the right balance.

If I look back at the last year, there was a lot of positive things happening — trips, books, friends, new endeavors.  I’m still coming to terms with the fact that I didn’t publish the Queen in 2016 (which weighs on me more than I wish it did).  And yet, 2017 already shows a ton of promise.  I’m still diligently working on my books, and the food blogging thing is bringing in all sorts of unique opportunities (that I get to share with Hubs and friends).  Other than Trump destroying a country I once knew and respected, I’d say things look great.

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On working from home.

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I saw this on The Onion and, eight months into working from home, it spoke to me (on a few levels).  While I don’t particularly miss the camaraderie of an office (it’s much easier to manage my misophonia at home, also, my cat makes a fine office mate), I will say that being at my desk at 8AM every day makes me happy, as does getting to work on my books or write about food all day.

Visual insight into editing.

Going into the (almost) final draft…and the above illustration is a fairly accurate representation of what it is to edit a novel.  I’m currently in the phase of ‘some of this is good, but some of this is I wish magical writing fairies would come along and fix.’  This phase is better than ‘why did I write this book at all?,’ but not by much.

For the twenty or so first drafts I sent out, I’ve heard back from four people so far (with 3 in the category of really enjoying it and one who was harsh, but in a good way).  Although to be fair, no author wants to hear ‘the narrator has a snooty voice that is unbecoming.’  I mean, my protagonist IS the Queen of England, so I think she’s allowed some slack in this category…