January Round-up: Reading, Writing, and Beyond

The first month of 2018 has been a bit up and down for me. I got five books marked off my Goodreads goal (albeit, one was read mostly in 2017). I’m a good 60% through another couple books which I hope to finish the weekend, including A Torch Against The Night, which I’m loving.

This month has been rather cold. There was one warm week, which I enjoyed immensely, but currently we’re back into the deep freeze-most definitely not my favorite part of the year and already I can’t wait for spring. I did take a quick vacation get-away at the end of the month, and spent a day at the enormous World Water Park pretending that I was in Mexico. Ah, if only I had actually been in Mexico just like last year. Well, there is always next year.

January was a terrible month for writing (I blame this on the cold, since all I want to do is sleep and read). I plan on picking that up next month, and finally get somewhere with The Circlet and The Chain (Artifacts of Avalum Books 2 and 3). Tomorrow, I’m going to post my planned February reading list, and I’ll have a few more quick reviews in the coming weeks too. What have you been reading lately?

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JEH

A Writer’s Plans for 2018

Happy New Year everyone! I hope everyone had a great New Year, and maybe found a bit of time for reading, much like I did. I’m glad that 2018 is here. The end of 2017 found me distracted and blue, and I’m ready for a new start. After a busy 2017 releasing Under Jupiter and The Torc, and drafting The Circlet, it is time for a new plan for 2018.

In 2018, I do plan to finish the Artifacts of Avalum Series, with Books 2 and 3 releasing in Sprint and Winter (most likely). But mostly my writing life will be shifting focus because I got a writing grant!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This grant will allow me to take four months off from my day job to focus entirely on writing. For the grant, which I’ve received from the Saskatchewan Arts’ Board (thank you Arts’ Board!), I will be working on a very specific project, namely some literary short stories. This is very different writing that what I normally post about here, but I love it just as much. (If you want a sample of this work, you can find a free story here, at Broken Pencil Magazine, but again, it is very different than the genre fiction I write).

I’m very excited to have dedicated time that is all mine to explore some themes I’ve been pondering for a few years. I start my ‘writing job’ March 1st, and I plan on spending the first couple months of 2018 planning how I will structure my days. I imagine they will involve lots of tea, coffee, and pretty notebooks (and a lot of hard work).

In reading, I set my Goodreads goal yesterday for 53 books in 2018. This is less than the 62 I read in 2017, and for that there are two reasons: 1. I hope to be spending a lot of time writing and rewriting, and 2. I hope to read some longer books. I’ve found over the past year that when I have a goal for reading a lot of books, I tend to choose quicker reads. This means that a lot of books I’ve purchased in the past have been sitting on my shelves for years. (CONFESSION: last year I had 67 books I hadn’t read yet on my upstairs shelves, I now have over 100!!!!). It is definitely time to do some catching up, so I WILL NOT be purchasing new books (probably… well…. maybe… okay, maybe I should be reasonable and say I will not purchase more than 5 new books this year – I hope instead to do some book trading at my local used book store).

So, with piles and piles of books waiting to be read, and a day job to get back to (for the moment), I will once again say Happy New Year, and all the best in 2018. Do you have any big plans you would like to share?

JEH

Writing 365,000 Words in a Year Update #28

Well, it’s been a long time since I updated. Probably the longest gap yet. I’ve been feeling pretty guilty about this, yet telling myself that it’s alright because it’s summer and that means I’m on summer vacation, right?

Wrong.

A goal is a goal and I’ve been slacking. A lot….

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As you can see from the chart, writing has been sporadic at best. This weekend I’m blaming it on spending most of my time building a patio. But that’s done now, and I have four weeks left to make up 60,000 words. The good news is that I already signed up for the 3-Day Novel Writing contest, which means I will likely write at least 20,000 words at the end of the month, during those last four days I gave myself. I’m also going on real vacation – the kind one gets at a day job – this Thursday. First stop is a writing conference, which will hopefully get my mojo going and most of those words written.

Meanwhile, I’ve also spent a bit of time taking pretty pictures of my books. What do you think?

Here’s to a very busy month. I hope your own goals are going well.

JEH

 

Writing 365,000 Words in a Year Update #27

One of the most difficult things I find about writing 1,000 words a day is time management. Unless you prioritize, it is so easy for the entire day to slip away. It is also very easy to fall asleep and forget that you didn’t write anything at all when you’ve spent your day on the computer, as my day job requires me to do. So, in other words, I had a rather horrible week. Here’s a peak at my chart:

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I had one great day, Wednesday, when I met up with some other writers in a cafe and got almost 4K done. This was going to be the start of a big push. I was going to write 4K a day and catch up on my word count by the end of June. But then I promptly went on a camping trip and that was the end of that goal. Today, I’ve managed to write 1,100 words. If I make this blog nice and short, i might have enough time to make that a nifty 2K. That would be nice, it would at least put a dent in my 26K deficit.

I got the email about preregistration for the 3-Day novel writing contest. I think it might just be about time to sign up. What do you think?

JEH

The New Thing I’m Working On: The Torc Progress #2

This past week I was focused on getting Under Jupiter up on the Kindle store. So, for a few days, I stopped writing The Torc. And I missed it! But now that UJ is up, I can get back into writing my new obsession. I’m around 1/3 finished the draft, and while I have a general outline, there are enough places where I can’t wait to be surprised by what the characters do. I’m still really excited by this idea. And I’m also very excited for the cover art. See the tiny preview below.

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This week I’m giving you a preview of the colour scheme being use. I love it. I adore purple. My absolute favourite colour is orange, but purple is a close second. And probably makes for a better cover. Which do you think is better? I remember as a kid that a lot of little girls hated orange. Like made that sour lemon face whenever they were forced to accept orange as the last option (only marker left). But orange reminds me of fruit, flowers and sunsets, all beautiful things. Purple reminds me of flowers too, but also luxurious fabrics and amethyst, one of my favourite stones.

Writing this week is going to be focused on word count. I’ll give you an update regarding my goal tomorrow, and then you’ll know why.

JEH

Writing 365,000 Words in a Year Update #26

Something has changed with the arrival of summer, and unfortunately that appears to be the amount of time I have for blogging and writing. I’ve been doing a miserable job keeping up here, and also keeping up with my 1,000 words a day goal. It’s been off and on lately. The good news is that if I forget one day, I tend to remember and prioritize it the next. I’ve found a few hours this weekend to dedicate to a “mini-marathon” and maybe I will somehow be able to catch up on the 23,000 words I’m behind on. If I could manage to catch up, that would mean I’d almost completed the draft of The Torc, the new thing I’m working on. Here’s a look at my word count chart for the beginning of June:

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The large number on the right is my current deficit. I realized the other day that if I was caught up, I would have less than 100,000 words to write before reaching my goal! That makes me feel pretty close to achieving my target with approximately 3 months to go. Time is ticking away quickly and there is still a lot I want to get done before September 1st, when my goal will shift to rewriting, though I plan on continuing to draft a lot, since drafting makes me happier than rewrites.

My day job has kept me busy, so busy that I haven’t even had time to read much, though I was traveling so I did finish a couple audiobooks. Being busy hasn’t stopped me from buying more books to read either. Or planning to read more books. I was terribly behind on my GoodReads entries, and just paused to enter all my recent reads. The funny thing is that I feel like I’ve missed entering a book, but if I have, I don’t know which one. This is why I use GoodReads, because otherwise I forget what I’ve read! Here’s a shot of some new books in my garden. They’re so pretty.

So, after catching up on my GoodReads entries, I’m still two books ahead of my GR goals, which is awesome. I wound’t be anywhere close if I hadn’t listened to so many audiobooks this year, but listening to books at the gym has been inspiring both for my reading and writing, and also for working out. My current listen is Graceling, which i’ve just started. It will probably take me a while to get through as it is 11 hours, and I don’t have any solo road trips planned, though I do have a family trip.

Alright, so for the next week, my goal is to catch up on blogging, aim for 1,500 words a day, and just continuing enjoying books. What are your plans?

JEH

Writing 365,000 Words in a Year Update #25

Well, I’m not going to post my word count table this week, because I’m feeling pretty horrible about it. Overall, I’m still 18,000 words behind my target. The good news is that I haven’t fallen any further behind this week. I’ve come to realize a few things about achieving a daily writing target:

  1. Writing multiple times in a day helps me reach my 1,000 words/day goal. I find in one “sitting” I can easily write 600 words. Which translates to needing a minimum of 2 writing sessions in a day (preferably morning and night).
  2. Focusing on how behind I am only makes me not feel like writing. It is much easier if I remind myself that I’ve already written well over 200,000 words since September 1, 2017! Go me!
  3. Trying to catch up (write 18,000 words) in one day or one weekend is an unachievable goal with how my life is currently set up (day job, kids, etc.). It works much better if I just tell myself to keep pushing for another couple minutes after I reach my 1,000 word goal. This often gets me to 1,100 or even 1,600 words in a sitting. Which means that I’m slowly catching up, bit by bit.

So, that’s what I’ve learned this week, and that’s what I’m focusing on. I’m still distracted by my Kindle Scout Campaign for Under Jupiter. I’ve got 4 Days left and I haven’t made it onto the Hot and Trending list for even a single house. Please help me out by nominating if you haven’t done so already. This is your shot at getting my book for free, and I will be eternally grateful. Just go here.

Under Jupiter by J.E. Hunter INSTAGRAM TEASER

Other good news is that I’ve finally broken through my writer’s block and found an idea that I love. I’m going to share some details as I work on it. It’s kept my word count high this week, and so far the story is lovely and so fun to write. I can’t wait to share more details with you.

Also, I’ve been doing a bit of gardening (and less going to the gym, but I figure all that squatting time counts for something, right?). Here’s some pictures of my flower boxes.

Have a great week!

JEH