Fiction Blog, Musings & Bookish Things

Starting Life in New Haven

movingFor those of you who missed the memo, my husband, Daniel, and I moved to New Haven, CT, last week. I’ve never lived anywhere other than Kansas before. I’ve traveled — quite a lot for someone my age — but until last week, I had never actually packed up all my stuff and left my home. Because of this, being in New Haven feels a bit like being on vacation. That and the fact that we are only here for two years while Daniel does his Masters (maybe seven, if he sticks with Yale Divinity School for his PhD, too). But so far, it all still feels temporary.

I like New Haven  well enough so far. We’re living downtown, so there are dozens of restaurants, shops, and plenty of “touristy” landmarks within walking distance. Our building is old, but full of that colonial city charm. The city is gorgeous, especially Yale’s campus and the areas near the beach. I can already feel the architectural inspiration seeping into my writerly pores and begging to go into a story one day.

yaleWhile living in the city is convenient, after living in somewhat rural areas my entire life, the city is definitely an adjustment. Seeing people everywhere and hearing constant noise (not loud noise, mind you, just general city buzz in the background) is incredibly strange to me. I never thought I would say this, but I miss the sound of cicadas.

Also, everyone in Connecticut (and every state I’ve encountered in New England) drives like a complete idiot. Kansans – imagine Missouri drivers only 10,000x worse. My motto while driving has become, “You better have insurance, asshole.”

We’ve met a few members of Daniel’s cohort, and they are all lovely people. Two of them were nice enough to help us move in (in other words, they are saints), one gave us a wonderful campus tour, and two more hosted us for dessert (How did they know the way to my heart is through chocolate?). Knowing that we have them around has been a big help and makes the city feel a bit less lonely.

tommy windowPerhaps the best part of our new living arrangement is that Thomas has officially graduated to being an inside kitty. He has embraced this role, spending his days lazing around and demanding his belly rubbed. His favorite spots are the windowsills, and I hope this is because he enjoys the breeze and not because he misses being outside. But as I type this, he’s giving himself a bath on our futon and perching on a pillow like it’s a throne — so he must not be too upset.

All in all, New Haven is proving to be an eclectic and fun city. There are so many places we want to explore, and I cannot wait to share this adventure with Daniel and with all of you. If I didn’t already have an established blog, I would probably start one to write about all the shenanigans this “country girl” gets up to in “the big city.” Something about Dorothy and The New Haven Green, maybe.

Anyway, I better get back to Desertera before my characters completely forget who I am. Have a magnificent Monday and share your moving stories and all the feels below!

Fiction Blog, Writing Updates

Mid-Month Check-In: July 2015

Hello fellow writers, readers, and Camp NaNoWriMo campers! I hope your July is going swimmingly. Mine is flying by, as this entire year has seemed to do, and I can hardly believe that Daniel and I are only about two weeks away from our move to New Haven. I have a lot on my plate, both professionally and personally, and it’s been a bit overwhelming. I like to think that I’m handling it all with grace and keeping a decent balance, but then again, I’m pretty biased and can’t be trusted. I’ll let you all judge for yourselves!

For a quick refresher on all the goals I’m working on this year, check out my 2015 resolutions (half of which I should probably just throw out the window at this point!).

WRITING

grootAs tends to be my fate, my original July Camp NaNoWriMo plan was derailed from the beginning. However, instead of abandoning the event all together, I decided to change my goal. This month, my primary goal is performing the line edit revisions for The Cogsmith’s DaughterThe manuscript is sitting at about 92,000 words, and as of this writing, I’m about 47,000 into the manuscript. So only a little behind.

My secondary Camp NaNoWriMo goal is to write roughly 8,000 words on the sequel to The Cogsmith’s Daughter, which puts me at an even 100,000 words. It’s a bit ambitious, I’ll admit. Therefore, I’m allowing myself to chop this secondary goal before “winning” begins if I think I won’t be able to handle anything beyond the line edits.

With all of this work and the great migration, I’m allowing myself to take some focus off of the blog. Therefore, for the last week of July and first of August, I’m handing my blog over to some of my favorite writers and readers for guest posts. If you’re interested, you can read my “ad” HERE.

BUSINESS

The business side of my indie publishing career is currently rather quiet. After all, I’ve got a LOT of editing to do. However, I have taken two very exciting steps.

First, I calculated my break-even point for Boxthorn Press. I did this by adding my total business investment (general business expenses AND book production costs) as well as deciding on the prices of my books and figuring the expected royalties I will receive from each retailer. I now know the exact number of copies I need to sell on each retailer to break even. Obviously, my actual sales will be a combination of retailers, but I at least know which ones will create the greatest profit and the general number of books I need to sell.

Second, I drafted my marketing plan. Essentially, this consisted of brainstorming every way I could market my book and then determining which ones are worth my time, how to perform them, and the expected return on investment. I’ve decided to go for a long-term approach, implementing a few strategies a week to (hopefully) steadily build up the book.

MARITAL

Daniel, Thomas, and I are about two weeks away from our big move. We’ve got all our ducks in a row, it’s just a matter of conquering the packing and other to-do list items. We’re also trying to be as social as possible and spend as much time with friends and family as we can before we move. I’m very proud of us for how well we’re handling all the details and for being so strategic with our finances. It’s going to be a challenging adventure, but I know we’ve got this!

exerciseHEALTH/WELLNESS

As in previous months, my health and wellness goals are about 50/50. I’m doing better about eating healthy and actively trying to keep a positive mindset amidst all the change. However, I have not been exercising enough (this month’s excuse is the rain and the heat), and I had a killer migraine this week. Daniel and I are hoping to be better about exercise when we move and have access to Yale’s gym. Then again, we’ll also have Netflix, so…

Okay, I better get back to the editing grind. Have a lovely rest of July, everyone! I can’t wait to share with you all the inspiring guest posts I have lined up and all the exciting news from the move!

For more updates, sneak peaks at The Cogsmith’s Daughter as I revise it, and to be considered as a beta reader for book two, you can sign up for my newsletter HERE.


How are your new year’s resolutions going? Have you been keeping up with your own writing goals? Share your progress and/or commiserate as needed!

Fiction Blog, Writing Updates

Mid-Month Check-In: June 2015

I still can’t wrap my head around the fact that it is June. This is ridiculous. The first half of this month has flown by, and I feel like I have not done hardly anything productive. However, it’s been nice to slow down the pace for a while and catch my breath. Hopefully, I can kick it back into high gear for the second half of the month and make some solid progress while I wait for my edits to come back.

For a quick refresher on all the goals I’m working on this year, check out my 2015 resolutions.

WRITING

I have submitted my revised manuscript of The Cogsmith’s Daughter to my line editor. I should have the initial line edits back in two to three weeks. After that, my line editor and I will bounce the changes back and forth until we reach consensus on all revisions. If this process goes as smoothly as my content edit/revisions, I expect to be a very productive and happy author!

fortune
I’m taking this fortune as a good sign!

As to new writing, I have begun working on an outline and story beats for Desertera #2. I know where I want the book to begin and end, it’s just a matter of filling in the middle. I’m hoping to have this draft done by NaNoWriMo (November), so I can start a new project then.

I’m noticing that my blog has taken a hit as my priorities change. I’m still trying to reach my goal of three posts a week, but I’m also realizing that I need to start shifting my attention to preparing for impending release of The Cogsmith’s Daughter. It’s interesting to see how my juggling acts have changed over the last ten months.

BUSINESS

Much to my relief, I was able to secure the perfect business logo and officially introduce Boxthorn Press to all of you. Now that this is done, my main business goals revolve around creating a production, distribution, and marketing plan for the release of The Cogsmith’s Daughter.

As for reading, I’m finally diving back into my uber long book review list. At this point, I have enough requests to last me through at least October. While I am still accepting some requests, I believe I am going to stop a month or so before The Cogsmith’s Daughter launches. Once it is out in the world, I simply will not have time anymore. (If you’ve been thinking about offering book reviews, or want more insight into my reasoning for quitting, read this post about the pros and cons of offering book reviews.)

MARITAL

1509962_10206002837208669_7242238809390527700_nDaniel and I are still preparing for our big move to New Haven. Only about a month and a half left! Honestly, I’ve been ignoring that to-do list, because it is incredibly overwhelming. However, exciting news — we have secured our apartment, and the best part is — Thomas can come with us! Animal parents will know just how relieved and happy this makes me.

HEALTH/WELLNESS

With how much time I have spent working on my author business, my exercise has plummeted. I still do the weekly class my work offers, but that is about it. Likewise, I’m trying to get back to eating healthier. Migraines are averaging about 1-2 a month, and some of them have been less severe than normal, but I’m still working on eliminating them completely. (Maybe getting off my butt and reducing the ice cream intake would help with that, huh?)

Okay, that’s enough accountability for me today. I hope the rest of you are having a productive and fulfilling June!

For more updates, sneak peaks at The Cogsmith’s Daughter as I revise it, and to be considered as a beta reader for book two, you can sign up for my newsletter HERE.


How are your new year’s resolutions going? Have you been keeping up with your own writing goals? Share your progress and/or commiserate as needed!

Fiction Blog, Musings & Bookish Things

Now What?: A One Year Post-Graduation Reflection

Graduation 1 (2)One year ago today, on May 18, 2014, I graduated from Baker University. As my Facebook feed filled up with friends graduating this weekend, this fact weighed on me more than it normally does.

Looking back at my time in university, I realize I didn’t appreciate it nearly as much as I should have. Yes, I was (and still am) grateful that I was able to attend university. I know not everyone can say that. And yes, I was (and still am) grateful for my scholarship and parents’ help and my professors and classes and extra-curricular opportunities. I know I was lucky to have such a wonderful team around me and to graduate debt-free.

However, I took two things for granted in university. First, time. I thought I had no free time. Ha! If any college students are reading this, trust me, you have plenty of free time. Try working 45-50 hours a week with over an hour of commuting time while planning a cross-country move and then tell me how much free time you don’t have. Seriously, though, while your free time in college is limited, the quality of it is so much freer than after graduation when all those “real world” responsibilities kick in. Cherish it.

Second, I took for granted what would happen after graduation. You see, I did really well in university. My whole life, I have judged my self-worth on my academic performance. School was my job. I mean, I worked during university, but priority numero uno was always my education. I thought when I graduated what I did in university would matter. Don’t get me wrong — it does. That 4.0 GPA and those awards mattered at graduation, and they matter for my self-worth and for my parents and husband. But everyone else? Their interest stops at what degree I received.

All the accolades fade away. With the rising credentialism in society, my degree is not special. I’m just another college graduate — the same as someone who lived by the motto “Cs get degrees.”

Okay, I’m done whining about the system. I don’t want to let this post spiral too much.

If you asked Graduation Day Kate, what would she have said about where she would be one year after graduation? Well, she would have tittered off this list:

  • Daniel’s immigration completed
  • Married to Daniel
  • Living on our own
  • Undertaking her first “big girl” job
  • Preparing for graduate school in the fall
  • Having written one novel

Well…two out of six isn’t terrible. There’s an old adage, “If you want to hear God laugh, tell Him your plans.” I don’t know that I believe in a “God,” per se, but I do believe that life takes a million twists and turns, and every time we think we’re on track, it kicks us over to another one. So, where I am at one year after graduation?

  • Still waiting on Daniel’s permanent residency
  • Married to Daniel
  • Almost living on our own (as of August)
  • Applying for “big girl” jobs
  • Starting my own business
  • Having written (and preparing to publish!) one novel

directionsWhile almost everything has taken a bit longer than I expected, and some goals I’ve traded for new ones, I can’t help but feel at peace with where I am now. I’ve had extra time to spend with my family and friends in Kansas, Daniel and I have had plenty of time to save and prepare for the next phase in our marriage, and I have grown professionally (at least in my indie author goals) faster than I thought possible.

Sometimes, I still expect to go back to school in the fall. It still hasn’t sunk in that this isn’t vacation — this is my life now. Will I go back to academia one day? Maybe. But I’m happy to take a few years to earn my stripes in the “real” world and work on my author-entrepreneur business. As much as I love being an academic, I know that I need to separate myself from that world, to do things for me, to learn that I don’t need grades to be fulfilled, to judge myself based on my character — not someone else’s judgment of my intellect.

One year out, I’m still a work-in-progress. And I always will be. And that’s okay. I’m 23 for goodness sake. This is a marathon, not a sprint, and I’ve barely started.

As the graduation speech I heard yesterday said, “In the phrase, ‘you can do anything you think you can do,’ it is what you think you can do that matters most. Figure out what you are passionate about, think you can do it, then go do it.”

If I studied my passions, English and Sociology, even when I knew they would not be as exciting to employers as job-specific degrees (ie: Marketing, Nursing, Accounting), surely I can live for them — no matter what the job market hands me in the meantime.

Living for passion? Chasing that full-time author dream? I think I can do that.

Fiction Blog, Writing Updates

Mid-Month Check-In: May 2015

I don’t know about where the rest of you live, but it has been pouring  in Kansas for over a week. I guess Mother Nature missed the memo that April showers are supposed to bring May flowers. Luckily for her, I like the rain. It’s incredibly relaxing to me, and I get so much more done when I’m stuck inside. So far, May has been pretty relaxed on all fronts, which has been nice. I’m just chipping away at all my little goals, one by one!

For a quick refresher on all the goals I’m working on this year, check out my 2015 resolutions.

WRITING

In April, I officially learned that I can not be poly-manuscript-ist. I have to focus on one story at a time. Therefore, all of my writing time has been devoted to the content revision of The Cogsmith’s Daughter. Thanks to my wonderful content editor and generous beta readers, I have a lot of great feedback, and I really think this revision will take the draft from a 3 star book to 4/5 star book! The next draft is due to my line editor on June 10, so wish me luck!

On the blogging front, I’ve come up with a schedule that I really like — posting every other day. Next, I want to begin diversifying my posts. While I love writing about writing/publishing and passing on the lessons from my journey so far to help other writers, I’m getting a bit bored of it. Plus, I know my readers (whom I hope to start having in late summer/early autumn) don’t necessarily care about these topics. I’m also attempting to move into vlogging, but I’m at a technological stalemate with my devices right now.

BUSINESS

Business productivity has leveled off. The main goal for this month is to obtain a business logo that can be featured on my website, business cards, and of course, books. My first attempt at getting a logo was through Fiverr, and the experience was a disaster. Long story short, the designer attempted to use a copyrighted image in my logo. Currently, I’m following a few leads and checking out designers on Etsy. However, if anyone has an graphic design skills or connections, I’m still open to more options!

As for reading, I’m doing a poor job of getting through my book review list. Again, my apologies. Currently, my limited reading time is taken up by books I must read for my work. While I do enjoy them, I’m missing my fiction time.

MARITAL

I posted on my personal Facebook the other day that “If one more thing in my life were up-in-the-air, it would be a balloon.” And it’s true. Daniel and I are in the process of apartment hunting, job hunting, and doing everything else that goes with moving across the country. However, despite the stress of it all, we are enjoying the research and the new adventure on the horizon. I hope to have some good news on these fronts to share with you all soon!

HEALTH/WELLNESS

I’ve been eating relatively healthy, but with Daniel now working some evenings, we haven’t been exercising as much as normal. Likewise, with the stress of the impending move and revision demands, I have experienced a couple migraines in the past month. However, I am trying to remain optimistic and keep up with my gratitudes.

Okay, that’s all I have for you guys today. May the rest of your May be productive and positive!

For more updates, sneak peaks at The Cogsmith’s Daughter as I revise it, and to be considered as a beta reader for book two, you can sign up for my newsletter HERE.


How are your new year’s resolutions going? Have you been keeping up with your own writing goals? Share your progress and/or commiserate as needed!