Category Archives: Crystal Blade

NaNoWriMo Day 14-23 (AKA I am a slacker)

Today’s Word Count: 440
Total Word Count: 36,505
Words to Go: 13,495

This is a tale of delayed gratification, long-held projects finally getting finished and started, and my NaNoWriMo word count.

So, first off—Vegas.

I didn’t go. That flight delay seems to have been divine intervention because by the time we were supposed to leave for the airport I felt dreadful and was hacking up a lung. Since I didn’t think any of the 20Booksto50K® attendees would appreciate me being there with some kind of respiratory infection I reluctantly stayed home. Felt fine by Wednesday, go figure.

Bally’s, by the way, was exceptionally kind about cancelling my room reservation so kudos to them. American … was a different story. We’ll leave it at that. And five days after 20Bt50K 2022 ended I’m hearing stories of a lot of people who came home with COVID and other respiratory junk (the hotel is renovating and tore up a lot of carpets which released all kind of schmutz into the air) so I’m going to think of my 3-day bug as a blessing in disguise.

But since I did have that weekend blocked off to write as well as attend a buttload of panels and learn lots of useful stuff, I finished Shifter Woods: Growl. Cue the triumphant march music. And yes, I know I was supposed to be working on Crystal Blade but this damned novella has been hanging over my head since 2018 and I just wanted it done and out the door. I decided to let it simmer over the weekend while I worked on Blade (and started sewing a quilt for one of my nieces who never got a baby quilt due to another project gumming up the production schedule), edit it Mon-Wed, send it off to the editor and the betas, finish the final polish on Monday and release it this upcoming Tuesday.

Silly me, I forgot that I’m not just a writer. I’m also a hospice nurse to an elderly, demented, and incontinent cat, not to mention the four other cats who also want my attention and a husband who would like to speak with me on occasion. So as of right now I’m halfway through Chapter Six of ten and have no idea if I’ll finish the editing tonight because I also have to make dinner, prep cucumber salad for tomorrow, prep the mountain of Brussels sprouts that will be divided between our dinner at my friend C’s and our mini T-Day dinner, and make the key lime pie that I wanted for dessert. And considering that I’d forgotten the light sour cream and sweetened condensed milk that I need for the pie and just braved the Thanksgiving Eve crowds at Walmart to pick it up, I’m gonna make the damned thing.

In between trying to figure out what JJ needs now, of course (bedding change? Fresh water? Treats?) and making my NaNo word count. Did I mention that I was also supposed to clean the front rooms so that we could put the tree up on Friday and finish fixing the slab of pavement in front of our house on Sunday? Ha. Hahahahahahaha…

People keep telling me that my list of chores exhausts them. I keep thinking, “Yeah, if I was really that busy I’d have 50 finished books, my house would be immaculate, and I’d be a size 2.”

NaNoWriMo Day Ten Through Thirteen

Today’s Word Count: 6,495
Total Word Count: 22,083
Words to Go: 27,917

Yeah, well, I was kinda busy all week getting stuff put together for the trip to Vegas, doing mounds of laundry (it doesn’t help that JJ has taken to peeing on his bedding which requires daily changes now), trying to find a place to get my hair cut (ho ho ho, yeah no. I’ll get it done in Vegas), paying bills, actually getting all of my words in, and finishing a jacket for RAVE on Friday.

I actually should be at the airport right now, in fact, boarding my plane. Instead, the flight was delayed from 6:01 PM to 10:00 PM so I have time to do a blog post. Aren’t you lucky?

In writing news, Crystal Blade is really hitting its groove and Crystal has found out some rather shocking news about her fathers, heh, heh, heh. But that sets the stage for her finally jumping her lovely paladins so that’s all good. It’ll be interesting to see just how much work I get done while I’m in Vegas—I’m hoping for a lot, but, well, Vegas. We’ll see.

NaNoWriMo Day Seven, Eight, and Nine (AKA we just had an election, okay?)

Today’s Word Count: 3,879
Total Word Count: 15,588
Words to Go: 34,412

To be bluntly honest, I don’t know where this week went. Monday was spent recovering from Sunday, yesterday was spent promoting the release of F*ck the Patriarchy: Getting Smutty for a Cause (which contains my Paladins of Crystal novella “A Theory of Crystal”) and watching the election returns with bated breath, and today was spent getting an estimate from some pros on repairing the front walk (the short version—yeah, no. We’ll go back out there this weekend or the next and take another crack at it). As my brain hates me and all I knew was that the guy was coming “sometimes around 10 AM” my brain woke me up every hour on the hour last night to make sure I didn’t oversleep.

Thanks, brain.

As a result I’m frigging tired and only made 500 words today. Still making my NaNoWriMo word count but I was hoping to be further along with Crystal Blade by now. But next week I’ll be in Vegas for 20 Books to 50K® 2022, attending a ton of panels on how to improve my indie author business, and I’ll be writing when I’m not actively learning or networking with other attendees so I’ll make up for lost time then.

NaNoWriMo Day Five and Six (AKA Spackle Woman, Maid of Mortar rides again)

Today’s Word Count: 3,532
Total Word Count: 11,709
Words to Go: 38,291

Well, that was a weekend and a half. Saturday’s writing session was interrupted by my decision to finally fix my office door. See, the previous owners of this house replaced all the door handles with new brushed nickel ones, but they didn’t chisel out the proper recess for the strike plates (the section that goes on the door frame and covers the hole where the latch bolt goes). They just screwed ’em on and that was good enough.

Except that it meant my office door was getting harder and harder to latch, especially as this house settled over the years. Finally I couldn’t latch the door at all, which meant that the J Crew could come in any time they liked.

So on Saturday I brought up a chisel, a mallet, a drill, and some wood filler and decided to fix the situation. I took off the strike plate after checking to see where I’d need to put it in order to allow the latch bolt to enter, chiseled out a new recess in the door frame and enlarged/lowered the hole for the latch bolt, closed up the old screw holes with filler, marked out where the new screws would go, drilled pilot holes for them, re-installed the strike plate in its new position and screwed it into place.

Et voila, my office door now latches. Even better, I can now lock it, which will allow me to do stuff that I don’t want the cats interfering with.

And then there was Sunday. I got my words in, which is something, but man…

A section of our front walkway is subsiding, forming a tripping risk. Ramón decided that we could fix this ourselves and spent the year collecting bottle jacks and all the equipment we’d need to raise the subsiding slab and put gravel and expanding foam under it.

Sunday was The Day. We spent the entire afternoon excavating holes on either side of the subsiding slab, attaching clamps to it, setting up the bottle jacks, attaching the clamps by chain to a 7’ length of 4×4 wood, putting the 4×4 on the bottle jacks, and raising the slab.

Well, we did raise it, after much sweat, toil, and swearing. Unfortunately we also raised the slab next to it (something that we can’t see is connecting them) so it didn’t made a damn bit of difference. I finally convinced Ramón to let me call the pros and have them come out and fix it. I mean, we already dug the holes—all they have to do is grind off whatever bit of concrete is attaching that one slab to the subsided one, drill holes in the subsiding slab, pump expanding foam in there until the section raises to the proper level, and they’re done. We’ll fill the holes back in.

Ramón muttered that we were getting too old for this shit. He also said, “This looked so simple on YouTube.” I reminded him that everything looks simple on YouTube. And I may have wanted to do a swan dive into a bucket of rum and coke afterwards but restrained myself.

NaNoWriMo Day Four

Today’s Word Count: 500
Total Word Count: 8,177
Words to Go: 41,823

Today was a tough one—we had a massive rain system move through the area and I was aching as a result which interfered with my ability to write (I can write when I’m depressed, I can write when I’m sick, I can write when I’m tired, but when my finger joints feel like they’re filled with ground glass I have to back off). Even so, I’m still well over the NaNoWriMo limit for the day and I’ll see if I can make up some of the personal shortfall over the next few days.

The story itself is chugging along nicely—after a fraught “family” dinner at the palace Crystal has been invited by her rival for the throne Veronika to the Harvest Ball, mainly so that she has to sit there and watch Veronika dance with the Buff Lords (because Veronika is incredibly insecure and tends to lash out when she feels threatened). What neither of them know is that an official from Arceneros (aka the continent of Uskela’s Coventry) is about to make a dangerous proposal to Crystal, after which a bunch of rocks are about to start rolling downhill, muwahahahaha.

In between writing I need to prep for 20Books to 50K™ 2022 in Las Vegas. I’ll be selling and signing books at the RAVE book event at Bally’s (soon to be Horseshoe) on the Strip on Friday, November 18th. The event is free to the public and a bunch of major indie authors will be there so if you’re in the area I invite you to stop by and check out our wares.

And now I hear the Elderly Cat yowling from the living room so I’d better see what he needs now.

NaNoWriMo Day Three

Today’s Word Count: 3,052
Total Word Count: 7,677
Words to Go: 42,323

Actually made my personal word quota today, which was nice. Also got a bit more into the Harvest Ball scene where someone makes a dangerous proposal to Crystal which starts all the rocks rolling downhill, muwahahahaha. Plus I got some more work done on Shifter Woods: Growl (I figure I’ll flip back and forth between the two books in case I get stuck on one).

That being said, today was one of the days where it really felt like pulling teeth to get the words out. I banged out the first K pretty easily, but after that I had so many things pulling at me that it was hard to get back into the flow of things. Now, this is my job so I have to ignore those things and get the words written regardless, but I’ve definitely had easier days. I think it would help if my sales would pick up a bit, but for some reason people keep checking out my books on KU, reading a page or two, then checking them back in. And yeah, I know that’s the whole purpose of KU, so that people can try out a book and return it if they don’t like it, but I’m not used to this level of, “Eh … no” from readers.

I wish I could write dark romance. That’s extremely popular at the moment. But I can’t write about something that doesn’t personally turn me on and bully/mean/nonconsensual/dubcon heroes make me want to smack them. Give me a cinnamon roll hero and a competent heroine any day.

NaNoWriMo Day Two

Today’s Word Count: 1,625
Total Word Count: 4,625
Words to Go: 45,375

The goal was to get 3K words down on the story, but I don’t know if I’m going to make that. I am … I don’t know. Tired, pissed, not in a good headspace to write. Part of it  (and this sounds so petty and childish, I know) is due to the fact that JJ is still peeing in his bed. He had a UTI last week, got antibiotics for it, and is definitely feeling much better, but the bedwetting is actually a new symptom that could be related to his urinary tract being irritated or the fact that he’s 21 and well into kitty dementia. Either way it means I have to wash his bed and the cushions it sits on daily because for some reason he always manages to get beyond the pee pad I place under the bed. And the house has a definite odor as a result.

I’m doing my best to stay on top of it and wash everything as necessary, and he will get up and go over to pee on the pee pads in front of the boxes (if they’re clean enough he’ll climb in and pee there, but they have to be immaculate and with four other cats in the house that’s not usually the case). But he still wets his bed regularly which has added significantly to my laundry load.

And then there’s the fact that my Amazon ads aren’t getting a lot of impressions and I’m not sure why, but the result is I’m not getting a lot of KU borrows. Which means I’ll have to go in and tweak the most successful ads and see if I can get Amazon to promote them more. And I have to finish setting up my online bank account because they’ve just rejiggered everything and somehow my login credentials got blown away in the process. And I have to wait for the nurse at the gastroenterologist’s office to call me and schedule my colonoscopy (nothing’s wrong, I do a preventative check every five years). And I have to start prepping for the trip to Vegas for 20Booksto50K™ 2022 in a week and a half, and I still have to switch our two cell phone accounts into one, and cancel the cable, and look around for some contract work to cover the rising costs of *waves at the world*, and worry about the upcoming midterms, and and and.

I would very much like a break where I don’t have to take care of anything, make any decisions, or worry about how things are going to be paid for. But as that’s not likely to happen any time soon, I shall keep calm and carry on. Maybe I can knock out that last 1.5K after treadmill time.

I know — two blog posts in two days?

Who do I think I am, John Scalzi?

Well, there’s a reason why I’m posting today, and that’s to inform everyone that Empress of Storms (Two Thrones Book 1) is free on Amazon all day today. So if you liked A Court of Thorns and Roses or A Deal with the Elf King, or just like royal romance with elemental magic and lots of conniving, you can check out Empress of Storms for the low, low price of free.

Even better,  if you like it you can continue on with the series (four books, a novella, and a short story) in KU. Such a deal!

In other news I’m plugging away on “A Theory of Crystal” and should get it off to the antho editors by next week, at which point I get back to work on Crystal Blade. The fact that I’m now getting up around 7 AM and going to bed at 11 PM is making me far more productive (and the house is starting to look like human beings live here), which is a goodness.

Hello, August

I like it when months begin on a Monday—it feels orderly, somehow. And this is going to be a very busy first week of August pour moi.

1) I have to get ready for Armadillocon this weekend, which means researching the panels I’m on and making sure I have something intelligent to say on panel. It also means I need to get the car tuned up before Ramón and I drive down to Austin. (Don’t worry, our regular cat sitter will be staying here to wait on the J Crew hand and foot as always). I’ll be wearing my SF Writer hat this weekend and talking about TikTok, newsletters, and religion and nationalism in SFF.

2) I have to get Crystal Blade finished this week, and I’d really like to get Shifter Woods: Growl done and published to Amazon as well, seeing as it’s 75% done and I could get it wrapped up with a couple of good days.

3) I have to call up three companies and either cancel certain services or switch to a less expensive plan, plus I have to schedule the HVAC company to come back and install a float valve in the attic. So much fun.

4) I need to keep monitoring the currently running Amazon ads and add some more for the books that I didn’t get to last month. Seriously, I am so glad I took Bryan Cohen’s Author Ad Profit Challenge. It made a huge difference in my July sales, and I can’t wait to see how I do in August.

Learning, learning, learning

Back in April or so I was supposed to participate in Bryan Cohen‘s 5-Day Author Ad Profit Challenge, which would give me tips on how to improve my Amazon Ads game for my books. As you may remember, Bob, that was also the month I had my knee replacement surgery so unfortunately I missed out on the challenge.

To my surprise, I received an email two days ago inviting me to the next challenge. Since I really do want to improve my ad game I signed up, and two days in I’m already learning stuff about Amazon ads that I never knew before (like, you can have an ad target an entire category instead of keywords. That’s a game-changer).

So I’ve been busily creating new ads for Shadow of the Swan to test which ad copy works the best, which category is most profitable, how auto ads might work for it, etc. The nicest thing is that a slew of people complimented the cover, and I just refurbed the blurb last month so I’m hoping I can get some more traction on that book and read-thru to The Crimson and the Black. Plus, anything I learn will be immediately applied to the Paladins of Crystal books since I’ll be running ads on Crystal Shard once Crystal Blade is out and I can de-RH Shard‘s blurb and keywords.

I saw that quizzical eyebrow go up. Amazon won’t let you run ads on anything that promotes an unusual sexual lifestyle (frex, I can’t run ads on Behind the Iron Cross because it got classified as erotica due to the BDSM content). Since the ‘Zon considers reverse harem to be an unusual sexual lifestyle, you can’t run ads on any book that is obviously RH. Which means that once Blade is out, I can de-RH Shard, run ads on it, and heap the RH references on the rest of the books in the series).

I know, you’re fascinated. Not. But earning promotion and effective advertising is just as much a part of being an indie author as writing, and since I would like Ramón to be able to retire at some point I need to step up my selling game.

In other news Crystal Blade is progressing nicely and will be out on July 31st, 2022, so mark your calendars!