Here we are, with another reset of the Gregorian calendar back to one, colloquially known throughout the majority of the planet as “January.”
Or, you know, Happy New Year, if you’re into that.
As tends to happen in January, it’s time to take a look at the map and see where we’re headed.
Before we get into the State of the Union part of this post, I want to give a shout out to the Alchemy Red After Hours Saturday Write-In.
I’ve talked about it before, as my participation in it and the accountability and encouragement (*cough*cyberbulling*cough*) of the people there is solely responsible for the content that follows. If I’m honest about things, I had pretty much walked away from writing. Between my own health issues, the (still ongoing) global pandemic, kitten fostering, and other things, writing wasn’t something I prioritized or was even interested in returning to any longer. Those closest to me were privy to the fact that I no longer considered myself a writer, because I wasn’t doing the thing that you literally have to do to call yourself a writer. You know…actually write something. (“Author” is a term for people who have written something. You are “the author of” something. The terms are used interchangeably, but that doesn’t change the fact that in order to be a writer, you have to write something. I know, right?) Enter Skyla Dawn Cameron and her weekly write-in.
At first I was just there for morale support. A seat-filler. Then more people arrived, and everyone was writing but me, and I was gently prodded into opening up a project I had abandoned. ARAH will be two years old this June, and I’m the admin/statistician for the group. Let me hit you with some numbers:
2021 (June-Dec): 187,132 words completed
2022 (Jan-Dec): 241,800 words completed, 10 manuscripts completed
And those are just words counted. Other things go on and are counted in the sessions, such as revision, edits (either pages or chapters), and administrative things like work projects/articles or even essays for homework. Last year we decided to begin counting manuscripts completed, as more than one of us had finished one due to the weekly writing sessions.
Each session we have anywhere from 3-5 regular attendees, and other people stop by occasionally to work on a specific thing or just to hang out in the room where the magic happens (which is absolutely allowed if you follow the rules for Saturday Write-In, which are posted in the channel). If you’ve made writing a resolution this year, come join us over at Alchemy Red After Hours (must have Discord enabled/linked). It only costs you $1 a month to be a member, and you’ll support a fantastic writer in the process (who also happens to be my Editor of Awesome, graphic designer, and book formatter).
$1 a month for accountability is more than worth it, but you’ll also get to say you’re in a writing group with professional writers, which is way cooler. So go sign up. When Skyla makes it to 100 Patrons, she’s planning on holding a contest where one lucky winner gets to play in a D&D one shot with her (I’m the Dungeonmaster) at our usual Friday game, so if that’s a thing you’d be interested in, there’s another reason to support her there. Shenanigans may include TNR of an owlbear, the murder of red-headed children (don’t ask), seducing a lich (really, don’t ask), or helping a kitten out of a tree. Or maybe overthrowing a local fascist dictator. Who knows?!
Now that I’ve acknowledged who is really responsible for the following even making it to the light of day, let’s continue.
Death Knell (Stranger Things #3) — I’m working on it. As my Editor of Awesome says, it takes as long as it takes, and given the absolute chaos of the last quarter of 2022, I’m behind. I had hoped a month’s extension of the planned release date would be sufficient to get it finished up and out there, but things aren’t working out that way, so I might have to extend it just a little longer so I can turn out my best work possible for those who have been anticipating the book since it was postponed indefinitely a decade ago. Rest assured, I’m working on it daily, and the moment it’s ready, you’ll have it. Soon, I promise. Death Knell is top of the list, #1 priority project. Every available second I have is going toward getting it out there. Shouldn’t be too much longer. I hate giving even an approximation of the date, but I’m hoping another month should do it. Sooner if possible.
Die Well: A Writer’s Guide to Medical Mayhem — Some of you may know that in another life I was a health care professional, and I often call out TV shows and books for medical shenanigans that Would Not Happen (looking at you, Gray’s Anatomy, with your jewelry-and-makeup-wearing in the OR). Once upon a time I wrote a series of posts over at the now-retired Evil League of Evil Writers talking about certain things one should not do in their fiction if they want their medical situations to not result in people like me throwing the book across the room because you used an animal sedative on a human because it’s the first thing that popped up in your Google search. Those posts have been collected and updated and put into ebook form for a handy reference. Hoping for a Spring release.
The Silverthorn Protocol — My first foray into sci-fi. Not quite sure what subgenre it is, but I know what it isn’t. It’s not “hard science fiction” or action/adventure, and while there is a romantic subplot involved, it’s not a space romance, nor is it a saga or space opera. I call it “Gray’s Anatomy meets Underworld. In space.” Because of course I have space vampires and space werewolves. I’m also not sure about a release date for this one, but the draft is finished and it’s been through its first round of edits and beta readers, so a Fall release wouldn’t be unreasonable. We’ll see.
The Devil’s Own — This one is near and dear to my heart. This novel is what got me back into writing after a five year hiatus. I’d graduated college, gotten married, moved to Oregon, and one day one of the main characters had me grab a pen and start writing down their tale. I couldn’t get the story down fast enough. I wrote every day, every spare minute (I was in my 20s, okay?), and got that book done in record time. It was then I started thinking about a writing career, and so I wrote my first query letter and sent it off snail mail with a SASE (self-addressed stamped envelope for the youngsters amongst us — things were done a lot differently before people really got into the Internet). I got a very nice rejection, but that didn’t deter me. This novel has gone through so many drafts and title changes and has made the rounds “out on submission,” and while it got some attention and some full requests, it never found a home and so I put it away. Until now. It’s going through another round of updates and polishing, and I will release it myself at some point this year. Halloween might be nice, given demons, hellhounds, and a vampire feature heavily. For fans of Kyle, this is his first true appearance.
Midnight Tea Shop — This one is an absolute vanity project. Regular readers/Darklings/newsletter subscribers already know about this, but if you’re new, this was a project that I was cyberbullied into writing by the enablers over at the Alchemy Red After Hours Saturday Write-In. It’s a paranormal cozy mystery that’s basically a contemporary cast of characters and their doings surrounding a tea shop that’s open past midnight. There’s vampires, hellhounds, mimics (okay ONE mimic), and murder. Also asshole ex-boyfriends and a Karen. There’s a lot of swearing. I have no idea if this project will even get done this year, but if it does, you’ll get to read it. If you’re a Darkling of the PERCEPTION CHECK tier over on Patreon, you get to read excerpts when they come out. Otherwise you’ll get to read them a few months later when I make them available to all subscribers.
That goes for all the works-in-progress. I post random snippets every so often (I aim for once a month) of things I’m working on, so if you’re interested in those things and don’t already support me over there, that might be something to think about.
That’s all I have for you at the moment. In other news, after some hiccups both administrative and weather related, the studio renovation is back on and moving at a good clip, and will hopefully be tied up by the end of the month. Mr. James and I have declared 2023 to be the Year of Organization for our household, and have resolved to accomplish one task a week (for at least 40 of 52 weeks this year) to get things cleaned and organized (a dump run or trip to the recycling depot, a box sorted, things for donation dropped off at their respective centers, that sort of thing), and the new studio will be a huge part of that. Things that are currently in storage or have no set place to be in the house (like certain cookware or electronic equipment) can be relocated to the studio, freeing up space and making things more user friendly. More as it develops (with pictures!).
Here’s hoping your 2023 is an improvement on 2022, whatever that may mean for you and yours.
Until next time.