Happy New Year…

Do I get extra points for doing this post before the end of January? I think I should…

I’ve been keeping myself busy so far this year with my writing goals (10K again), revising goals (Just do it *swoosh*), reading goals (book a month, that sounds familiar…), and health goals (lose the extra weight I put on over the past few years).

Of course, I’m a writer so you can assume I’m mostly playing mindless app games, watching TV, and talking on social media about how I should be writing…

But I did do revisions on The Miracle Man, which I’m currently looking for a beta reader for:

I’m looking for a beta reader, focusing on pacing/plot issues, for a light fantasy m/m romance (light on magic, heavy on time spent in wagon traveling). 53K, would love feedback by end of month.

Email me if you’re interested!

Premise: A young man with a “knack” for fixing things, becomes apprentice to a miracle man in the hopes of learning how to heal people.

I also finished writing a 50+k contemporary that might never see the light of day (who knows), brainstormed a new fantasy story (disgruntled coworkers to lovers is a thing, right?), started brainstorming a second in the same world as Magic Runs Deep, and I’m reading The Left Hand of Darkness which is good but not light.

So I’m keeping busy. I guess it keeps me out of trouble 😉

Let’s Talk About Expectations

There are many, many things to have expectations for/about in life, but this post is focusing on self-expectations, specifically in regards to goals/resolutions, because these are the expectations we have the most control over.

I set some goals for myself at the beginning of the year and by the second week of February I knew I’d built a pretty high mountain to climb. January went well. Book read, edits done, writing mark hit! Of course I also finished a book, so starting a new one was hard–immediately my word count plummeted. I finished edits, got beta reads, submitted the book…and immediately got developmental edits to do. While I was brainstorming how to fix February’s editing case. So my “edit a book a month” plummeted. Reading one book should be easy, right? But after reading all day, editing various books, and struggling to write, the last thing I wanted was another person’s words in my head. I read one page of a book and switched to another. Read a page of that and put it aside.

What I realized around the middle of the month, was that I might have burnt myself out by being too productive too fast. I need to reassess and adjust accordingly.

Revising: One book a month is kind of crazy, especially depending on how much work needs done. Especially since I edit for a living (duh, Alex). I think if  get 6 books revised this year, I’ll call it a win. It’s still going to be about 5 more books than I did last year!

Writing: Same basic 10K a month, but I think it’ll be a year-end goal of 120,000 instead, which will average out to 10K a month, which is pretty much how I looked back a 2017, so I think it’ll work.

Reading: I might need to “cheat” and read another volume of manga, but I do want to at least hit some of my titles on my to-read list. However, I also want to watch a bunch of anime shows (many of which are subtitles), so I’m giving myself flex here. Kind of a “we’ll see how it goes”. I know it sounds like I’m giving up, but it’s more a matter of “how much can I fit into my free time without feeling like it’s not fun anymore?”

The important thing, for me, is not thinking of the above changes as failing. Goals and resolutions should be flexible, especially in the beginning, so you can improve while also not killing yourself. Because once you start to fail, you give up. But if you lower the bar, then you might end up jumping just as high as you’d first planned, once the stress of failing is removed.

January round-up!

The new year means resolutions, cold weather, and the daylight hours slowly getting longer. I have to say, I’m pretty proud of myself for being on-task for my resolutions so far. But first…

Magic Runs Deep is up on Riptide’s site, available for preorder!! It’s coming in April (SO FAR AWAY)!

For the last five years, Veier has been chained to a king’s throne in his bear form. When a neighboring kingdom overthrows the crown, Veier’s imprisonment ends, but true freedom is not so easily earned. With blood on his hands, he needs someone with patience, strength, and trust to help him become the person he was before and prove to the invaders that he isn’t the monstrous king’s loyal pet.

Elrid, the invading king’s brother and a powerful mage, is everything Veier despises. He’s also the only thing between Veier and execution, because he thinks he can help Veier change from an aggressive bear shifter into a reasonable man. While the pair have a rough start, with long talks and mutual leaps of faith, they begin to care for each other.
However, the closer Veier gets to his freedom, the closer he is to losing Elrid. He must find balance in his heart and his life if he wishes to truly claim the freedom he’s been given—and the man he loves.
I’m really grateful to the artist who made this lovely cover after I gave…less than stellar feedback on what I was looking for.
January has also witnessed me get my first 10k written for 2018, which also matched up with me finishing my current WIP The Miracle Man. This book’s idea started several years ago, as a jotted opening in a notebook that sat unused in my bedside table for several years. Then during a writing slump, I said Well, why not write this, it’s utter bollox, and then everything started flowing. And now it’s done! Er, well, the firs step is. 
I’ve also spent January revising my one manuscript, and I have about 30 pages to go. It’s a contemporary (maybe even a rom-com) with a sexy tattooed biker and his not-as-straitlaced-as-his-parents-think boyfriend. It has playful banter during sex and puns. And a shower scene…
Anyway. I’ve also been reading! (You know…that 1 book a month goal.) I’m on-goal to finish What-the-Dickens by the end of January. It’s not captivating me, but it’s cute. 

New Year, New Resolutions

Last year, my goals were:

I want to keep being better at my fitness ‘program’ and eating habits.
I want to write 10K a month every month.
I’d like to get three things published this year.

I…didn’t do awesome. In fact, I forgot about the first goal completely (or at least I didn’t try harder than I normally do).

I hit 10K roughly ever month. If I add up the months and average them out, it’s about 10,900 words a month.

Three things published? Er. Well…I didn’t think this one through. I submitted three pieces to publishers, and two were accepted. One got feedback, one came out a few weeks ago, and one comes out in April. So I think that counts as a success, even if I didn’t publish three things this year.

And this year?

My goals this year are similar to last year with some additions (and maybe some follow through :D)

1. Write 10K a month. I was originally thinking of upping it to 15K, but after November and December this year, I decided to focus on another resolution:

2. Revise a book a month. Writing is only worthwhile if I actually revise and submit books for publishing. Last year I focused on publishing books, but I think it was too abstract (and much of it out of my control), so this time I want to focus on taking steps to submit books–aka, revise the stuff I write and move it along on the path of publishing!

3. Read at least 12 books. This obviously doesn’t count work stuff, and last year I only squeaked by via manga (specifically What Did You Eat Yesterday?), which isn’t bad but wasn’t what I had in mind. This year I’m picking 12 books from my pile and want to read them:

The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle, The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K Le Guin, The Lord of the Flies by William Golding, 10 lb Penalty by Dick Francis, The Kitchen God’s Wife by Amy Tan, The Innocence of Father Brown by GK Chesterton, Trigger Warning by Neil Gaiman, The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco, The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver, The Black Book of Secrets by FE Higgins, and What the Dickens by Gregory Maguire

I figure some might get replaced by manga, some might get replaced by library books or new finds, but these are some titles on my shelves that seem like I should read or at least might be interesting. I tried for a variety so I wouldn’t get bored or burned out.

(If you’re interested in reading along with me when I start a book, let me know, I’m always looking for reading buddies, and I’m not a fast-paced reader…)

First up will be What the Dickens.

Good luck on your New Year’s Resolutions!

End of the Year Book Reading Round-up

I spend all day reading, which is awesome. Unfortunately, it also means I don’t read a lot outside of work, so this list is going to be Riptide titles that I read over this past year that stuck out to me (and I’ll give reasons why). I can’t list ALL the ones I love, but here’s a sampling (12, so one for each month…sorta):

Midlife Crisis by Audra North – This book made me have so many emotions. It was really tough at times, but seeing Cam’s life unfold was really breathtaking and uplifting.

Sons of Devils / Angels of Istanbul by Alex Beecroft – This is a heavy pair of books but if you’re committed, you’ll find yourself taken on a fantastic adventure. It’s vampires as the truly horrific monsters they were originally meant to be–which makes the potential for a horrible ending all the more likely…

Heels Over Head by Elyse Springer – I’m not a huge fan of sports romance, or rather I’d never really read any that grabbed me. This was the first that made me go “Oh” and I was hooked all the way through. It’s a sweet struggle as the boys come to terms with themselves and each other.

Citywide by Santino Hassell – I loved the menage story, and not because of all the hot sex. But Chris’s thinking about relationships and being the third and preferring triads is just amazing and it really pinged something in my head.

Infamous by Jenny Holiday – There’s something about this friends-to-lovers tale that just carried me along. It was just a lovely read that gave me everything I wanted out of it.

Rogue Magic by Kit Brisby – In many ways this is your standard magic-in-the-real-world story, but the character growth and the story that comes to life really pulled me along through the story so I couldn’t wait to see what happened next.

Wanted, a Gentleman by KJ Charles – This is a playful historical, which was a delight to read. It’s covering some serious, dramatic topics, but it doesn’t bog the reader down.

Permanent Ink by Avon Gale and Piper Vaughn – A May/December, learning-to-be-an-adult story, this one surprised me with how much I liked it. The characters come alive on the page and that’s what makes this one so great.

In His Majesty’s Service by Jenny Urban and Elizabeth Silver – sci-fi romance with some action and political intrigue, it never takes the politics so seriously that it makes the story drag. A good balance of all the elements, this one had me reading as fast as I could to find out what happened.

Finding Home by Garrett Leigh – I mean, I love most of Garrett’s books, but this one is special with the heart-wrenching tale it tells, but also the hope and inspiration it gives.

Off the Ice by Avon Gale and Piper Vaughn – I think this was the second sports book I read that made me interested–not in the sport, but in the story. I loathed who I was meant to loathe and loved who I was meant to love. The support and love in this book was heart-warming, and the sex was steamy.

I hope you check these titles out and find them as enjoyable as I did!

Happy New Year!

Once More Unto the Edits

Please remind me to never do my edits on paper again.

BaW and I have had a long, long relationship. I wrote it *muffled noise* years ago, submitted it, was rejected (but given feedback). And then proceeded to get distracted. Go figure.

Then I started working on it, in spurts and fits. I gave it to beta readers for feedback, added pieces to the end. Read a book about plotting. Considered reworking it completely. Re-read it. Removed and reorganized pieces, but left it mostly as it was. Printed it out and did edits by hand.

I just finished entering in those changes. And I don’t think I can read this story again with anything near clear vision.

So I need a beta reader again. Anyone interested can drop me a line (alexdwhitehall at gmail). It’s possibly the softest, most mellow apocalypse you will ever read.

In other news, I’ve been hitting my word goals (somehow), and my reading goals (go me!), and am looking forward to spring.

In February I read Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi. It’s done in illustrated/comic form and while it was good, it wasn’t really my cup of tea. I found the beginning to be too disjointed and often vague. I had trouble following some plots–or else being completely lost as to why this information was being shared. I struggled through that part, and it could be that as a child, we were shown things like a child would share things, but it didn’t work for me. I didn’t connect with the main character and, in fact, I was generally kind of annoyed with her a fair amount of time.

In contrast, as she aged, I found her more likable. While she was a trouble maker and cause stress for her family, everything felt realistic and more alive. Her struggle felt more real and as a person she blossomed into a real being rather than…whatever it was that was on the page before. I liked the change and while I was still annoyed with her at moments, it was in the way that I’m generally annoyed with people doing stupid things. But the circumstances and her life seemed more real.

I don’t regret reading this (it was a gift from a friend), but I doubt I’ll return to it again.

And since I read that super quickly, I read volume 2 of Crimson Spell.

And for March, I’m reading Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls by David Sedaris. This is a collection of essays, but also also an interesting thing he hasn’t done before where he writes at essay from a kooky perspective. It’s been a while since I’ve read his other stuff, but I think this is my favorite of his books so far (not that I don’t thoroughly enjoy the other stuff). This one just resonates with me more, for some reason.

The essays that are biographical are also entertaining, though they feel more hit or miss to me. But as with any time you’re trying something new, that’s the risk. I haven’t quite finished it yet (four or five stories to go, I believe), but I’d recommend picking this one up.

And that about catches me up, book and editing wise. Writing…well, I was going to continue working on one of my old pieces, and actually wrote 900 words. And then…something happened. The file was…damaged. All the writing I did (and edits earlier in the piece) were gone. I plan that I was saving directly to the flash drive on my Mac using Office Libre. I’m not sure which one is to blame, so they each get one third.

So I lost motivation for that piece and instead decided to start writing one of those post-it note stories that I’ve had hanging around. So now I’m working on trans cowboy story, which I have sort of plotted out and as long as I can get over the next hump, I think will be pretty awesome.

Spring is coming soon!!!

Updates, now with pictures!

January, like every other month, flies by. I’ve been keeping busy with the writing (hit my word count goal!), making submissions, making freebies, and then looking at my spreadsheet and crying quietly 😛

My 5,000 words for January mostly went into finishing the BDSM short and writing a new ending for BAW (just finished that this morning). The short needs to sit, because I feel like it’s, well, too short. I’m sure when I return to it with fresh eyes I’ll find five a few thousand more words to add. For BAW, I need to start at the beginning and do some serious chopping out of unnecessary scenes tightening all the bits into a good story. So that will be my new week-day project.

On the weekends, when I actually can write (because I haven’t found a good way to get my brain to write during the weekdays), I’ll be rewriting a story I wrote a long time ago. I love the story and the setting and the concept, but I have a fight scene that takes four lines at one point. It’s one of those things that just needs to be trashed and re-written, although much of it will remain the same.

And I have my trust ol’ writing mug with me, of course.

You can see it, because it’s imprinted, but it says “fresh-brewed inspiration for the day ahead.” And this technically has hot chocolate in it. Don’t judge.

The book I read in January was Fifty Shames of Earl Grey by Fanny Merkin, which was amusing and had moments that were laugh-out loud, but didn’t blow me off my feet, either. It was playful and cute and I could see the moments where events in the ‘original’ were turned on their head and mocked, but it also didn’t rely upon having read the source material. Which is good, because I only got about halfway through the first before I returned it to the library.

That said, people who read the books (painfully) might enjoy this more. It was a quick read, too, which mean I was able to fit in another short book (book 1 of The Crimson Spell), which I’ve read before but am trying to read the whole series now that they are actually being translated.

Artwork by DA ID Hinata141

While it’s sort of porny, especially in the beginning, the art is gorgeous (if you like the detailed style), and from what I remember of the story, the plot begins to pick up as the story continues. Also, the one main character turns into a hot demon covered in black markings. Mmm.

The story is focused on a young prince who takes up a cursed sword in order to save his people from invading demons, but now he’s, well, cursed. He travels afar to a wizard who promises to help him break the spell, and thus their journeys together begin! The prince only turns into a demon sometimes (mostly at night?) and the wizard finds ways to…restrain him. And…keep him distracted.

If you know what I mean.

Now to spend the rest of the weekend being productive!

Right?