J. E. H U N T E R

A writer of young adult fiction specializing in self-publishing, creativity, and writing.

Describe the “magic” shoes in the trees. How did they get there and why? How does the hero get them down? What powers do the shoes give their owner?

I have been blogging for more years that I can count. I’m what I like to call a casual blogger. I don’t have a regular schedule, though I try. I don’t write something every week, though I feel bad when I don’t. And I don’t often change my image. I think the previous purple colour and old book header had been around for something like four years (at least). It was possibly longer but time just flies for me lately. I actually woke up this morning thinking it was Sunday and planning to have a nice, slow, quiet cup of coffee, and had actually started making it (in my pajamas), before I realized that it’s Monday. Has that ever happened to you? I’m pretty sure it happens to us all but for some reason this morning was extra disorienting.

Hide me, all this construction is loud!

So, Monday it was, and Monday it is, and now here I am revamping the blog for 2021. I love the clean white background, the new header image (did you know orange is my favourite colour?), and the new tools that I have at my disposal. I’m also adding the By Sapphire Light image to the sidebar so everyone can enjoy its beauty.

There are many reasons for a blog makeover, but for me, this change is about freshness. Making over a blog is like painting your living room, or perhaps your entryway. All the old content is there, the posts are still floundering about, but they have different font now, the background is different. They are suddenly fresh and new again, and it feels just like the year I painted my entryway orange. It put a smile on my face every time I walked into my house. Then later I sold that house and the orange entryway and I’ve missed it ever since. (On a side note, I once drove by the old house and saw that the new owner had repainted the entryway white – how dare they!)

The new blog might take some getting used to (especially if purple was your favourite colour), but don’t worry, it’s still the same me behind the keys. Just with a different haircut.

What do you think?

JEH

I’ve been wanting to dive a bit deeper lately into what I do. Since switching over to full-time writing again last September (September 2020), I’ve been readjusting to the life and schedule of writing full-time. Previously, when I had a high-pressure job, writing was something that I slipped in on the evenings and the weekends, and occasionally at lunch hour. Side note: I actually really miss my lunch hour writing sessions, I used to go to the food court at the mall near my work and people watch and do some Freewriting and it was so great for generating ideas.

The switch from part-time writing to full-time has come with a change in mindset, to be sure. When I had a day job, writing on the side was something I always looked forward too, something that I couldn’t wait to get back to. Now, writing on a schedule that is generally Monday to Friday 8:30 – 3 (with some extra hours on Wednesday nights and weekends) I find that some days I do not want to write. I want to paint or do some art journalling or junk journalling. I want to take a break from my projects. Writing has definitely become more ‘work like’. And my office has become according messy to be sure. Here is a snapshot of my writing desk, which I really need to sort out.

Don’t get me wrong, I still absolutely love writing and I’m so grateful that I’m getting to do this as my job right now, but like any job, the hours can get long. So, there are somethings that I’ve found to break up what can easily become monotonous and repetitive, because I want my writing to continue to be fresh and fun. This includes breaking my regular day into sessions, beginning with freewriting, then moving to drafting, and in the afternoon focusing on rewriting. Of course, depending on what my focus is at the moment, sometimes I spend a whole day drafting, or an entire day rewriting (which has been what I’ve been doing in the past couple weeks).

This past week, as I’ve been getting closer to By Sapphire Light being ready for publishing, I’ve also been doing a few different things. As a self-publisher, I do many ‘jobs’ that aren’t writing, and this actually brings some excitement into my work. So this past week, I met with one of my Beta Readers over coffee to discuss By Sapphire Light and other books, I contacted my cover artist to kick things off for the cover of Book 2 (which is called By Garnet Glow), and I contacted the editor I use to book my slot for editing. All of this side work helps to keep things fresh. I love doodling little sketches to determine what I want my next cover to look like, and I love moving through the process and seeing the progress on the cover from week to week.

This past week has mostly been a break from my main project (which isn’t BSL). During ‘break’ weeks, I spend some time drafting and playing around with short stories, poems, novellas, and new novels that are in ‘developement’. I try to use some of my open time to generate ideas for new projects that I’m excited for. Next week I’m going to move back into crazy drafting mode, but I think I’ll save that description for another blog post.

All in all, I’d call this rather busy week a success (although somehow I never feel that I’ve gotten enough done in a week, even if I’ve managed to finish a new draft or a rewrite). But I’m trying to change my mind set, because I’m both the worker at the boss, I have to ensure I have reasonable expectations. Now, time to tackle the messy desk, and get prepped for next week.

JEH

This is a winter made for reading! I’ve finally been getting around to reading some of the 200+ books on my to-be-read shelves (yes, they are a little bit out of control, yes, I do hope to vlog about this soon).

The other week I finally picked up The Near Witch by V.E.Schwab, as I was looking for a nice, easy read. Something fantastical and magical and well written. Well, V.E. Schwab is a marvelous writer. The Near Witch was a good read. It was like a long fairy tale with a simple, straight forward plot and a lovable heroine that is everything a girl in a backwoods town isn’t supposed to be. I think the cover of this book says something like “One for Neil Gaiman fans”, and I found that was definitely true. This book reminded me a bit of ‘The Ocean at the End of the Lane’. Also many of the fairy-tale-esque short stories that Gaiman writes.

I did wish for a bit more of the witches though. But that’s just me. Give me all the witch stories you got!

All in all, 4/5 Stars. A nice quick read for anyone who enjoy fantasy.

Have you read this book? What did you think?

JEH

First off, I have been working on this book forever. I’ve also had the cover forever, but I’m pretty sure I’ve never revealed it. I’m super excited to share this book with you all. It’s a young adult steampunk-fantasy that I just love. I’ll have a few more details for you soon (like the back cover blurb, which doesn’t sound quite right yet), but for now, here’s the cover. What do you think? Do you love steampunk?

Whenever I’m writing full-time, and writing moves from hobby to job, I find I need a new hobby to do during the evenings and on the weekend to help me recoup form all the mad writing I’ve been doing all day or week.

Lately, I’ve discovered junk journaling. I’ve always journaled, and my journals have always been colourful, interesting things where I record all sorts of stuff. I glue in and save all kinds of things in my journals such as tickets and pictures. But discovering junk journaling has opened a whole new level of journaling to me. It’s like I’ve been playing a video game for years and have finally arrive at level 50!

I’ve also been interested in sharing more via video. So mixing those two together resulted in uploading my first ever junk journal video of my little poetry junk journal. I’ve embedded the video here for your convienicne. Please keep in mind this video was largely a trial (I have absolute none of the right equipment), but, as it was simple to film and upload, I may invest in something for future videos. Would you like to see more video content on here? Let me know what you think!

It’s one of those weeks… Even though it’s frigid outside, and blogging has been on my to-do list, it just hasn’t been getting done. Finally, finally, I’m sitting down in my chair to give you all an update on this years, 261,000 words in a year goal.

I got a great kick start on this goal at the beginning of the year, both by writing a lot in September when I first set the goal, and by completing NaNoWriMo. I know I’ve said it before, but NaNo is such a great productivity tool for me. Without it, well, I don’t draft near as much. While it’s been my goal to write 1,000 words a day Monday-Friday, I didn’t succeed at that goal once this week! I’m currently in a rewriting phase for my Work in Progress, so that makes sense, but at the same time I do like to spend some time continuously drafting something new.

The good news is that I’m still really far ahead in my annual goal (see, writing really hard for a money helps!). You can go slow and steady (tortoise), or you can sprint (hare). I am a hare, but I’m trying to teach myself to be a tortoise. I feel less stressed when I slowly and consistently draft something, but do have a difficult time with the motivational aspect!

For the next two weeks, I don’t anticipate a lot of new drafting, but in March I do expect my word counts to increase again (hopefully steadily). I guess you’ll see what happens when I update next!

Meanwhile, look for some new content on new hobbies coming tomorrow!

First and foremost, I’m going to acknowledge that I was provided an ARC of Ghost of an Enchantment in exchange for an honest review. I was so happy to receive this book because I read book one of the Wickwood Chronicles and loved it.

Ghost of an Enchantment, while it is book two of the Wickwood Chronicles, can be read as a standalone. The main character, Stella, is a witch who inadvertently ends up in a lot of trouble when a mysterious artifact falls into her hands and she accidentally opens a portal to another world. When the police arrive, she finds that the man she’s been obsessing over has been assigned to her case and, well, you can imagine all that fun that happens after that.

Now, I love witch books, I love paranormal and fantasy fiction, and I love a good, sexy romance, and this book has that all! Right from the start I fell in love with the two main characters, Stella and Lucas, who both have a knack for getting in trouble. And Wickwood, the fantastical city where all of the Wickwood Chronicle books take place, is realistic and charming, and a place I would love to visit if I could.

The thread of mystery in Ghost of an Enchantment kept me reading well into the dark, well after I should have turned off the lights and gone to be. The details were fantastic and well-woven together, resulting in a satisfying ending. Ghost of an Enchantment was a satisfying, magical read and a true romance. If you love witch books or paranormal romance like I do, then pick up this book, you won’t be disappointed.

5/5 Stars

JEH

Hi all, I know it’s already been a few weeks, but welcome to 2021! I’m trying to not get my hopes up for this year, but I am crossing my fingers that I’ll be able to get out a bit more in 2021 and do some writing in the cafes.

I miss writing with people around me. I miss the ambient noise and the fresh brewed lattes in colourful rounded mugs. I miss the sometimes terrible music that clashes with what I’m trying to write (which is why I always pack a set of headphones with me when I head out to do some writing on the go). This past year has brought many changes, but now that the year that shan’t be named is over, I’m looking forward to new things of my choosing.

This year I’m going to continue to blog about what I’m reading, and—of course—the writing life. I’m keeping busy day in and day out at the moment working on a handful of projects, though I still never seem to have enough time to finish them all—let alone for this blog! But, unfortunately for me, the weather turned this week which means that instead of being nice enough to still enjoy the outdoors (somewhere between 0 degC and -10degC), I’m looking at -30 degC temperatures over the next week, so maybe I’ll finally get a few small projects off my list.

So, at this point I’m taking requests. Is there anything that any of you readers would like me to blog about this year? What kind of things are one your mind?

My mind is primarily filled with books—writing them or reading them. I set my Goodreads reading goal at 64 books for 2021, which will be one more book than I’ve ever read in a year (since I began tracking), so I hope to achieve that.

Books on my To Be Read shelf!

And for writing, well, my current goal is write 8 books this year, but I think that’s a bit too high (insert maniacal laughter here). So I may have to reassess that soon—but I don’t want to give up on any of my book writing dreams this year or my project babies! Does anyone else have this problem? How do I keep it realistic??? Just kidding, don’t worry about me. I’ve been doing this long enough to know that at least three of my planned projects will just remain on my virtual shelf for the year and I will imagine them longingly with somewhat regularity.

But…there’s always hope, right?

Here’s to a New Year and Reach Goals, because if you aren’t reaching, then why are you on your tippy-toes?

JEH

At this point, everyone knows that 2020 was a year for the record books. But I think most of us are unsure what to feel about it. Should we be sad, angry, or motivated for something better in 2021? My personal feelings aside, 2020 was a decent year for my writing work. I shifted from part-time writer back to full-time writer. I finished two new novel drafts and many short stories, and I finally took a poetry class to stretch my wings.

Poetry Composition Book

But…with coffee shops closed or with limited capacity, and the risk of Coronavirus everywhere, I didn’t go out and work. With restrictions for school and childcare I had to do more parenting duty. There was limited social interaction since last March. All of this added up to my writing year not being everything I’d hoped it would be. While I spent a lot of time at home and at my desk, my mind was often elsewhere and my energy was low.

2020 Had More Drive-Thru Coffees than Coffee Shops

But…

I won NaNoWriMo easily, as there was nowhere else to go. I have a lot of new subject matter to consider. My science fiction now feels much less far fetched. And I did finish those drafts.

Currently, of my 261,000 words in a year writing goal (which will end September 1, 2021), I’m at 141,390. That means I’m already over halfway to my goal, and about three months ahead of schedule. I haven’t even drafted anything in new in weeks as I’ve switched my focus at the moment to rewriting.

Starting next week (January 4th, 2021), I’m planning to getting back to drafting around 500 words a day, while my primary focus remains on rewriting. Finishing two manuscript drafts in 2020 means that 2021 will predominately be a year of rewriting. A year of taking the old and making it better (I think this is fair to say that I hope this for every aspect of life, not just writing).

In 2021 I plan to self-publish at least the first two books of the new young adult fantasy series I have been working on for sometime. I’m hoping to get around to the third book, but with other major projects on the go I’m not sure that’s going to be doable. So the third book of that series may have to wait until 2022.

With the coronavirus vaccine rolling out now, my writing life is sure to change again in 2021. My writing life always was going to change, as I planned for a year or two of full-time writing and then heading back to a regular day job for a while. I like to work this way, bouncing between a life where writer-me is out and about in the world gaining experiences, and a life where writer-me is tucked away in the basement, isolated and writing about the experiences I’ve gained.

Enjoying the End of 2020 and Wishing for Good Times in 2021

All in all, 2020 wasn’t a bad year for writing, but I will be glad when the clock turns tonight and we can put 2020 behind us. Here comes 2021, brimming with potential and a lot more time.

Do you have any writing plans for the new year?
Happy quiet celebrations!

JEH