Fiction Blog, Writing Updates

Month-End Update: June 2017

Earlier this month, I had lunch with a close friend. As we visited, she told me about her experience training a new employee at her work.

“She’s asking a lot of really great questions — ones that I never thought to ask,” my friend said. “It makes me wonder … when did I stop asking why?”

Her question made me think, have I stopped asking why with my author journey? The answer: sometimes, yes. I’ve always been an ambitious person, prone to pushing myself too hard and occasionally getting tunnel vision. Sometimes, I can fall victim to “fear of missing out” (FOMO), which convinces me to do things that don’t align with my goals. Likewise, when I set goals for myself, sometimes I feel like changing them — even if they no longer align with my larger aspirations — means failure.

This conversation with my friend occurred on the cusp of a cross-country move. It’s my second in two years (perks of having a husband in graduate school!), and they’ve both caused me to reevaluate myself. Like starting a new school year or getting a new wardrobe, this move is a chance for rebirth. I’ll be meeting new people, exploring a new city, and establishing a new routine — a totally fresh start.

The conversation also coincided with writing/editing my third novel. For some reason, Desertera #3 felt different. I felt more comfortable and confident in my writing ability, style, and system. The third book also marks a milestone for the series– at least, that’s what I’ve read from successful authors (“Three books is the first tipping point. Readers know you’re serious.”).

All this is to say that I’ve done some reevaluating about my personal self, my author self, and my goals. And you know what? I’m refreshed, realigned, and excited to get back to it!

As a first step, I redesigned my author website. While the previous template was effective, I felt like it lacked personality. This design is a little more me, but I’ve still got some work to do in the graphics department.

As a second step, I revised my New Year’s resolutions. I treat them more like short- and long-term goals than traditional resolutions, and some of them no longer reflected my aspirations for 2017.

Here’s my new list, complete with my regular updates:

Writing & Publishing

  1. Create 5 days per week — a little behind, due to bereavement leave and my move
  2. Write Desertera #3 — done!
  3. Edit Desertera #3 — in the proofreading stage!
  4. Publish Desertera #3 — planned for early August
  5. Write a second novel — totally possible, I can’t wait to start my next series idea!
  6. Edit a second novel — probably can’t publish it, but I should be able to start editing
  7. Start writing Desertera #4 — a long shot
  8. Make 2018 publishing schedule — I need to start thinking long term!

The BIG change: I’ve decided I don’t want to pursue a new nonfiction book at this time.


  1. Make $2,000 from Boxthorn Press — on track
  2. Create freebie for Writing Newsletter subscribers — done!
  3. Create short story for Reader List — my July Camp NaNoWriMo goal!
  4. Blog 1x per week — reduced from 2x per week
  5. Maintain content marketing schedule — restructured and reduced
  6. Diversify existing products — pending research into new audiobook distributor
  7. Do 12 marketing promotions — changed to focus on book launch
  8. Read 52 books — hoping to catch up this summer!

The BIG change: reducing my content marketing efforts to focus on writing and publishing.


  1. Work on positivity — going really well!
  2. Exercise 3x per week — hahahaha, I need to get my shit together …
  3. Break a bad habit — starting a new routine to help today!
  4. Recoup savings account post-Yale — we’re pretty much there!
  5. Make post-Yale plan — done!
  6. Visit final NYC sites — done!
  7. Visit new state — planned for August!
  8. Visit new country — done! Oh, Canada!

No changes here … but obviously I still have some work to do!

Goals for July & Camp NaNoWriMo

  • Write a Desertera short story
  • Get Desertera #3 ready to publish
  • Start outlining new series
  • Rewrite my long author biography
  • Read and review (on Goodreads/Amazon) four books

How do you handle evolving goals? When is the last time you took stock of your aspirations and routines? Are you participating in July’s Camp NaNoWriMo? Share it all below!

Fiction Blog, The Desertera Series, Writing Updates

What You Need to Know About the Third Desertera Novel

If you’re signed up for my Reader List, then you know I’m hard at work on the third Desertera novel. (Those clever readers have also previewed exclusive samples of my first draft!) To help me finish the manuscript, I’m participating in Camp NaNoWriMo (essentially a self-driven writing challenge) during the month of April, and I’m already excited to share it with you! So, what do you need to know about the third Desertera novel?

King Lionel takes the reins

As with the other Desertera novels, this one features a new protagonist. We’ll follow King Lionel as he tries to navigate the political waters (or sand dunes, rather) of Desertera. The poor guy has a lot on his plate: learning how to govern, satisfying the demands of the council and the people, pressure to marry an appropriate queen, and trouble from our favorite farmer-prophet …

It’s time to explore Desertera

That’s right – we’re out of the brothel and the hovels! As king, Lionel can take us to places within Desertera that Aya and Dellwyn couldn’t access … at least not without trespassing. We’ll finally check out the royal library (ah, the smell of dusty old books!), venture deep into the belly of the ship, and head to the outskirts of Bowtown.

There will be more Aya (and other friends, too!)

One of the most frequent criticisms of The Courtesan’s Avenger (Desertera #2) is that Aya didn’t hang around enough. Well, don’t worry! I’ve always intended for her to feature more prominently in future books. (I mean, the woman needed time to get her shop in order. Give her a break!) All our other friends will make appearances, too.

I can’t wait for you to read it!

Although I struggled to get started with this novel, now that I’m in the thick of it, I’m having a blast. Like the other books, it continues the story from a fresh perspective and allows a new view of Desertera. I’m also finally able to give you all some answers and steer the ship (pun intended) more towards the final destination … though it’s still a few books away.

Currently, I expect to publish Desertera #3 in late July. But to do that, I’ve got to get this draft wrapped up and sent to my editor. I’ll give you another update when that happens (and more still as I choose a title, cover, and official publication date) but for now, I need to get back to writing!

Fiction Blog, Writing Updates

Camp NaNoWriMo, April 2015: Week Three Update

daisyIt is safe to say that I will not “win” CampNaNoWriMo this time around. Could I have won? Given my word count from last November’s NaNoWriMo, I think the answer is “yes.” However, so far, I think I am walking away with something even more important than a finished manuscript — two lessons.

Lesson one: I have figured out my best time to write each day. Unexpected events aside, I can easily write 1,000 to 1,500 words in an hour. It’s nothing compared to the vigorous pace of “regular” NaNoWriMo, but it is sustainable. That will get me much farther in the long run.

Lesson two: I am learning how to balance and prioritize. Often times, I focus too much on “20%” activities, such as social media or blogging, and my writing gets sacrificed. While I love putting out a blog post every day and interacting with you all consistently, writing is where I should focus more of my time. And I’m going to try to keep it as my top priority in thought and practice going forward.

Okay, enough epiphanies. Here is my week three summary:

My Personal Goal: 75,000 — or the finished first draft Desert Child, whichever comes first

My Secondary Goal: Create a sustainable writing habit for the future

Total Words Written: 28,938

Words Written This Week: 11,882

Day 15: 1,377

Day 16: 397

Day 17: 1,673

Day 18: 4,564

Day 19: 1,241

Day 20: 1,000

Day 21: 1,630

Estimated Writing Time: 6.5 hours

thinkingThe experience so far: I feel like I am maturing as an author. I am going at a consistent pace, avoiding burnout, and being kind to myself, even on less productive days.

Motivation: My motivation this week has been to keep my writing routine consistent. Even when I hardly have any time, I am still sitting down and producing work. While I will not finish this draft by April 30, I still want to finish Camp strong.

Biggest Triumph: Learning to write in tiny intervals. I’m one of those people who has to finish reading at the end of a chapter. Previously, this anal tendency had crossed over to my writing, making me write for huge chunks at a time to complete a chapter or scene — or simply not write at all. It was all or nothing. Now, I can sit down and write for ten minutes (as opposed to skipping it altogether) without stressing myself out. (Seriously, one of my characters is in the middle of being cremated right now, her corpse on full display before the tribe, and I don’t even care. Normally, I’d have to save her from the humiliation.)

Biggest Setback: There is construction on the highway, so my commute takes longer. Plus, I’m helping cover for one of my coworkers who is on vacation. Long story short, I’m tired a lot.

Helpful Insights: Push yourself out of your comfort zone and challenge your writing routine. I thought writing a chapter each session worked for me — and it does, but it also prevents me from stealing smaller bits of time for writing and limits what I can do in a session. By expanding how you work, you will be more productive and more versatile. This leads to increased sustainability and more consistent writing even when challenges aren’t happening.

How are your Camp NaNoWriMo adventures going? Anything fun to share? Any advice for your fellow campers?

Fiction Blog, Writing Updates

Camp NaNoWriMo, April 2015: Week Two Update

star wars
Evidence that I am not the ONLY culprit here.

Due to a mixture of good and not-so-good things, I have had a pretty underwhelming week two of Camp NaNoWriMo. On the positive side, socializing with great friends and some very exciting progress with The Cogsmith’s Daughter kept me from writing on this draft. On the negative side, entirely inexcusable procrastination and one family emergency stalled my writing progress as well.

The good news is that things are looking up for Week Three. I intend to be anti-social, the emergency is under control so far, and this post and my Camp NaNoWriMo graph have thoroughly shamed me into catching up. While I am not sure if it is chronologically possible for me to reach my goal after this week, I am determined to at least put in a good effort. And Baby Groot says, “I am Groot,” which is always comforting.

For a happier Kate, see my Week One Update.

Here is my not-so-productive week in review:

My Personal Goal: 75,000 — or the finished first draft Desert Child, whichever comes first.

Total Words Written: 17,056

Words Written This Week: 3,901

Day 8: 1,283

Day 9: 1,062

Day 10: 0

Day 11: 0

Day 12: 0

Day 13: 0

Day 14: 1,556

Estimated Writing Time: 2.75 hours

The experience so far: Obviously, this has been a rough week. I’m trying very hard not to beat myself up too much. I am always my worst critic.

timingMotivation: Does potentially insane optimism count? For some reason, I still feel like I can pull this off. Yes, it is going to be brutal, and yes, I will probably have to put in at least one 10k day over a weekend. But I still think I can pull this together and get this draft written (at least by early May) so I can go back to the safe (ha!), comfortable (ha ha!) world of Desertera.

Biggest Triumph: Getting back to writing after four days off. I know that seems simple, but once I get in a rut, it is really hard to get back on the horse, so-to-speak. My secondary goal for this Camp NaNoWriMo is to figure out a more sustainable writing routine. No more insane word counts and one-month, one-book quick fixes for me. I need to get in the routine of writing at least five days a week or I will never sustain this as a business.

Biggest Setback: There is a rather ginormous reveal at the end of this book, which necessitates a lot of foreshadowing throughout the draft. Silly me, I revealed way too much too early, and I had to go back and rewrite a scene. In total, it took me about 20 minutes of typing, but it also took me about three days of procrastinating and avoiding fixing it.

Helpful Insights: If something is bugging you about your draft, go in and fix it. Now. Seriously, right now. I don’t care what they say about not revising during a NaNoWriMo event. If whatever has happened is preventing you from moving forward, just go back and put at least a passable bandaid on it — whatever it takes to get you over it and writing forward again. You can stitch it up properly when you edit next month.

How are your Camp NaNoWriMo adventures going? Anything fun to share? Any advice for your fellow campers?

Fiction Blog, Writing Updates

Camp NaNoWriMo, April 2015: Week One Update

baby groot worldWhenever I do update posts, I feel like I always marvel at the quick, fleeting passage of time. But it’s always true. The first week of Camp NaNoWriMo has gone quickly. To catch up on my plan, read this.

On a personal level, I am satisfied with and optimistic about my progress. I have written quite a lot, despite family commitments and working overtime at my day job. However, on an anal, graph-stalking level, I am a little concerned that I will not be able to meet my personal camp goal, and the pressure is on.

Here is how I have done so far:

My Personal Goal: 75,000 — or the finished first draft Desert Child, whichever comes first.

Total Words Written: 13,155

Day 1: 1,082

Day 2: 1,479

Day 3: 0

Day 4: 5,526

Day 5: 1,571

Day 6: 1,460

Day 7: 2,037

Estimated Writing Time: 9.5 hours

The experience so far: With NaNoWriMo last November, I put all this insane pressure on myself. It was my first real attempt to write a novel, and I wanted to prove to myself (and everyone else) that I could do it. I’m not sure if it is the “Camp” part of this event or the fact that this is my second novel, but I feel way more relaxed. I’m not forcing myself to stay at the keyboard or type as quickly as I can. I’m just plodding along at a pace that feels comfortable and stopping when I need to stop. It’s nice.

baby groot plotMotivation: My motivation this week has been staying accountable to my cabin mates. It’s been nice to have people to give updates to, and to receive updates and cheer each other on. I wish “regular” NaNoWriMo had this same structure. You can follow our cabin adventures with #wordcountslayers. (Yeah, we’re legit.)

Another great motivator has been taking photos of my writing mascot, Baby Groot. I feel like I have to write to pose with him, otherwise it is dishonest. So, in a weird way, his adorable-ness has been very motivating. You can follow his adventures on Instagram, Twitter, and/or Facebook, or by using #BabyGrootWrites.

Biggest Triumph: Having fun. Don’t get me wrong — I had a lot of fun writing The Cogsmith’s Daughter. But Desert Child is a whole other animal. It’s wild and untamed. Vague spoiler alerts: I’m actively getting to kill characters; there’s magic; there’s high-action scenes. It’s very refreshing after a more “political” and “dramatic” novel.

Biggest Setback: The first 3,000 words were like pulling teeth. I felt like a peeping Tom spying on my characters from the outskirts of their village. It was like I didn’t belong in their world. However, now that I’m in the groove, we’re all solid.

Helpful Insights: If you are writing your first draft, just let go. Let your characters guide you. Let crazy things happen. Have fun. This doesn’t mean that you don’t follow an outline (if you made one). This doesn’t mean you go rogue. It means you unleash the full extent of your creativity and be the writer bad ass you truly are. You can tone it down with edits later.


I did not do this last NaNoWriMo, but we weren’t as good of friends then, were we, guys? Here’s a tiny excerpt from my writing this week — entirely unedited. It’s actually the opening of Desert Child.

She dead.

I heard it like you hear a landslide. Soft, at first, slow, a single pebble bouncing down a hill. Tap. Tap. Tap. As they came closer and more voices joined them, it grew louder. A cascade of pebbles slipping out from under a boulder; the boulder breaking loose. Taptap. Rumble. Crunch.

When they finally reached the edge of the cliff, I thought the canyon would collapse around us under the force of their cries. I looked up at them from where I stood, ankle deep in the cold stream, used my hands to shield my eyes from the sun. I wanted to see them clearly, see their dirty, tear-stained cheeks bulge above their smiles.

There were ten of them. They stood in a straight line, tiny toes wrapping around the edge of the cliff. I wanted to warn them, to holler at them to back away, lest they slip and join her. But I couldn’t, because at that exact moment, as their high-pitched voices bellowed the news across the canyon, it finally hit me.


How are your Camp NaNoWriMo adventures going? Anything fun to share? Any advice for your fellow campers?