A Wildly Specific Year by Numbers, 2017 Edition.

I pitched below to a clever online website, but was met with rejection.  Then I never managed to pitch it anywhere else.  Anyway, enjoy!

  • 37.9, years of age
  • 14, years married to first husband
  • 3 million+, words checked (according to Grammarly app)
  • 3, films attended in a theater (Gold Class)
  • 3, shots of Jägermeister consumed during husband’s 40th birthday party
  • 2, visits with my sister
  • 7(ish), nights involving karaoke
  • 1, foreign driver’s licensed renewed (with misspelling of surname still in place)
  • 1, concert attended (U2)
  • 1, novel published (The Queen of England: Coronation)
  • Still being tallied, number of episodes of television watched (assumption is 10% increase from 2016)
  • Numerous, new inside jokes started (“Milos take?”)
  • 31, number of friends who attended our Thanksgiving party
  • 100+, uses of new personal catchphrase ‘100% legit’
  • 1, time (nearly) stranded in a foreign country when original airline was barred from entering current country of residence before return flight
  • 1, Great Barrier Reef witnessed
  • 2, dogs almost adopted (an ongoing struggle as a weekly volunteer with a K9 rescue organization)
  • 75, spin classes attended
  • 2, pounds lost overall in the year (*an estimate not based on actual measurement)
  • 1, course ingested containing goat brain at fine dining establishment (goat brain was not disclosed until after consumption)
  • 63, percent optimism for 2018

Hope your 2017 was just as interesting — all the best in 2018!

2018 Resolutions.

As 2017 comes to a close, it’s time to look ahead to 2018.  I’m cautiously optimistic, and mainly hoping I never have to spend a day on U.S. soil with #45 in office…

In no particular order (and in conjunction with my foodie goals), here’s what I hope are a list of achievable goals in the new year.

  • Get a new author photo.  It’s no longer 2015.  I think it’s time to move on.
  • Publish The Queen of England: Grand Tour and at a minimum, send The Queen of England: Ascension to the editor.  Ideally, get a final draft of book #3 at some point this year.
  • List The Queen of England: Coronation as a free book (and dive into all the hoopla that comes with it).  Ideally, this would be with a BookBub ad, a level of book marketing I haven’t yet achieved.
  • Buy less.  I recently read a great article by Ann Prachett, and after a glut of fun, but ultimately unnecessary items from overseas, I think it’s okay to start 2018 with a stricter approach.  I realize this might be a struggle when we’re home this year, but outside of my once every two year trip to Target, taking an extra moment to really decided if I need that thing should be my standard protocol.
  • Complete a rough draft of The Heist or A.U.  I still haven’t decided what book I want to write next year.  The Heist project is more marketable of the two, and I’m hoping I’m creative enough to pull it off, but A.U. has been on my brain a bit longer.
  • Start doing actual research when it comes to marketing my books.  Unfortunately, my attempts thus far haven’t been enough.  Even after nine books published, I still have this naive hope that if I can connect with the right audience, then I’ll be able to have a successful book.  This resolution will most likely involve Amazon and Facebook ads, list on NetGalley, along with paying closer attention to the author groups I am a part of.
  • A little more self care.  I can sometimes beat myself up when…well, fill in the blank.  Getting down on myself isn’t a fun trend, so I think it’s okay to accept that sometimes to not feel so guilty for: not writing, not marketing, not editing, not pitching, not making a lot of money.  I think it’s also in my best interest to drink less.  As much as I love a glass of wine, it doesn’t love me back all that much.  Focusing on the little things might be more in my best interest.
  • A lot more fitness.  Twice a week is good, but three times a week for organized exercise is even better.  Prioritizing my health over food reviews, etc. isn’t always the easy choice, but one I definitely need to start making.  I feel that MyFitnessPal is about to make an appearance in my life again.
  • *Bonus* Look at the Fates project again, and y’know, maybe do something with it.

What are your goals in the coming year?  How did you do in 2017?

Book review: How to Stop Time.

Are you sensing a theme here?

Yes, universe, I’m listening.  I realize it might (finally) be time to dust off the Fates and do something with the project — if only for my own vanity (and the hours I’ve already put into it).

Ahem.  As with Eternal Life and The Next Together, this bulk of this book dwells somewhat in the past and in my opinion, the novel suffers for the decision.  I get the need to ground these ‘eternal’ beings in the past, but the modern storyline in each of the novels pays the price for the time spent before ‘now.’  While Ayah may allude to what’s happened in her many years on earth, with the exception of a pivotal moment in her life, she doesn’t dwell on her previous versions.  Her actions are focused on her current life (and with good reason).  While the author did a relatively seamless job moving between the times, eras, names and personalities of the protagonist, unfortuantely, for someone who’s been alive for 400 years, his life is a bit depressing.

With a cover that makes no sense and a title that doesn’t really connect to the story, I feel Mr. Haig is already at a loss.  The overwhelming focus on the United Kingdom didn’t do a lot for me, and while I could overlook some awkward pacing, the horribly abrupt and OUT OF NOWHERE — and yet somehow entirely I saw it coming — ending was a terrible way to close things out.  This is not a matter of my comparing this book to my own, it’s that I’m shocked an editor (or the publisher) would let the novel be released with such a disaster of a climax.  The protagonist (and supporting characters) deserved better.  So, of course, does the audience.

Give this one a pass.

 

Book review: The Next Together.

What?

Two reviews in a row?

The Next Together by Lauren James popped up on my radar last week (which makes me think the Fates project might be getting some energy next year).  As research for the book, the idea of different time lines and the idea that two ‘souls’ (for lac of a better word) were destined (or programmed…) to be together was one I thought worth researching.  While Ayah does allude to the fact that certain presences return to her life, her soul mate has only appeared once before.  In The Next Together, we follow four storylines across history — moving to an end we cannot quite grasp because it’s totally set up for a sequel.

Overall, it was a quick read, although I don’t think the storylines all worked.  Furthermore, even in a fictional world, simply because you were in love in the past, does not necessitate an ‘insta-love’ in the future.  Thus, the relationships all seemed a bit of a cheat.  In my own novel, for example, while Ayah recognizes an important man from her past, she struggles in telling him about what happened between them.  After all, she wants things between them to develop naturally and not because they might be destined for one another.  She doesn’t want to force him into a decision, and at the same time feels he is owed the truth (whether or not he wants to accept it).

As a quick side bar, for young novelists (this is debut fiction from Ms. James), you can’t just have ‘World War III’ and sort of gloss over it all.  As with above, this felt like very lazy writing, and I was rather surprised an editor wouldn’t have wanted a dramatic change in this decision.

Similarly, as I desperately try to incorporate more diversity into my books, this book was White People Town throughout.  There are lesbian grandmothers (yay!), but everyone else is unmistakably white bread.  I would’ve loved any character or section of history that was less focused on Western struggles.  For example, in the Crimea section, why not transport the couple to another part of the world?  Or, why did the relationship always have to be male and female?  As with above, the choices felt lazy and not inclusive.

And a final note, safe sex is important — especially if one is writing a novel geared towards young adults.  While I’m not clutching my pearls from the keyboard, some (any!) discussion of birth control or even a chat about ‘we just started bonking, maybe I don’t want to get pregnant’ would have been a welcome approach.  The ‘but I’m desperate for your babeh’ plot line felt a bit contrived.

I suppose it wasn’t all bad, and the book offered an excellent incorporation of modern elements –e-mails, lists, and notes, all of which were very creative.  Props on a great title and excellent cover as well.

Overall, I’m surprised the novel is so well received.  I would pass on this novel, and while mildly curious about the sequel, would not go out of my way to find it.

Have you read The Next Together?  What were your thoughts?

Week by numbers.

I mean, a week can be any amount of time, can’t it?

  • 70,928, total number of words for the completed (!) first draft of the final book of my Queen of England trilogy.  This is an increase from the rough draft which finished at 65,697.
  • 20, pages cut from the original document.  So, I cut quite a bit and added more back in (and I’m not quite done yet).
  • 1, spin off novel I came up with while editing.  It might make a better novella than novel, I’m not quite sure yet.
  • 1, draft of Queen 2 received back from my editor (no, I haven’t actually opened it just yet).
  • 3, attempts at some Bookstagram photos, that I’ll be posting at some point in the next week on my Instagram.
  • 1, new episode of What’s Cooking UAE you can find me on.
  • 0, plans I have as of now for NYE.  (Officially, 37 is old).