2016: A Year in Review

Hello everyone!

So, I’m only a couple of days late with this post, and for that I am very proud of myself. Since we’ve dived joyously into 2017, now is a good time to reflect over the past year and talk about some goals moving forward.

I don’t think I have to address what a dumpster fire 2016 was, so I’m going to move right into the good stuff.

2016 was both a successful year and a not-so-successful year for me, writing-wise. In February, I was accepted into a MFA program (hooray!) but I seriously underestimated how much time I was going to have to devote to writing and reading for class. This time came right out of the extra time I would have used working on my personal writing. But, I did finish several short stories, one of which is currently out on submission, so yay for small victories! I never really found a balance between grad school, work, life, and writing in 2016, so that’s going to be something I work on this year.

Umm…what else did I do this year (checks Instagram)…oh yeah. Saw a lot of ‘rasslin shows, celebrated my grandparent’s 60th wedding anniversary, took a visit to my alma mater, saw a good friend get married, revealed the official title for #codenamehotprieststory (The Girls of Fall), buzzed both sides of my head, won first place in a Halloween costume contest, got two promotions at my day job (huzzah!), attempted NaNoWriMo, bought new floors for my condo, turned 28 and wore a mermaid princess crown. Shew. I guess my year was pretty busy after all, when you put it that way. 🙂

I’ve spent the last few days planning out what I’d like to accomplish in 2017 and going journalahead and writing things down in my planner. If a thing is written down, I’m more likely to actually do the thing. I bought a brand new notebook — the Leuchtturm 1917 — to use as a project journal and keep better track of all my writing projects — progress and notes.

If you’re following me on Instagram, you might have already seen some of my 2017 goals and resolutions, but I’ve added even more goals since that post, so let’s break them down here as well.

  • Complete second draft of The Girls of Fall by 3/1 — this one is pretty self-explanatory. I’m about exactly halfway through the second draft and I’ve calculated how many words I will have to write each day/week to meet this goal, and it’s very achievable!goals
  • Establish and protect a writing time — I need to write when I sit down and say I’m going to write. Whether that’s a few hours each night, or a big chunk of time on the weekend.
  • Read 30 books — This was my goal number for 2016, and I fell short by about 6 books. Going for 30 again this year!
  • Do Zumba two times per week — gotta go shake that booty.
  • No soda, coke, sweet tea, etc. — I’ve made a spot in my planner to check off the days I’ve been soda-free…only one check mark so far…WHOOPS.
  • Pack lunch for work — saving $$ plus eating healthy.
  • Temper phone time/social media time — I’m still ironing out the details of this one, but I would like to stop using my phone an hour or two before bed and use that time to read instead. And then go straight to bed, not spend another 45 minuets aimlessly scrolling through Instagram.
  • Send a quarterly author newsletter — Subscribers, you’re guaranteed to hear from me at least 4 times a year!
  • Attend a writing conference — I’ve already got one picked out, so now I just need to register.
  • Get all A’s in classes — Ugh, I’ve gotten all A’s and B’s so far, but I want those A’s, dagnabbit!
  • Do a quarterly review of goals — Each quarter, I’d like to sit down with myself and review the goals I’ve outlined here, maybe make some new ones, and just evaluate how the year is going overall.

Okay, I think I’m finished for now, whew!

I’m participating in an author life photo challenge on Instagram this month, so if you want to know more about me and how I’m tackling the new year, head on over and check out the hashtag, #IGAuthorLifeJan.

Happy New Year!

P.S. If anyone has any tips on how to manage your social media time more efficiently/effectively, let me know!

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NaNoWriMo 2016

I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while, and seeing as I’m currently procrastinating, I figured this was a good time to give y’all a little update.

I’m going to be taking a little break from The Girls of Fall during the month of November, also affectionately known as National Novel Writing Month. The goal of NaNo is to write 50,000 words in 30 days. While this is a little short for a novel these days it’s the perfect size for a rough draft. I wrote a big chunk of Stones and Finger Bones in a NaNo years ago, so I feel like the frantic energy of the month will be good for me.
copy-of-as-the-sun
What am I working on, you ask? It’s going to be a science fiction retelling of Beauty and the Beast, tentatively titled As the Sun Will Rise. Space! Aliens! Huzzah!

I’ve always wanted to write a B&B retelling, but wasn’t sure what new ideas I was going to bring to the classic fairy tale. Then I wrote a sci-fi short story for one of my MFA workshops, fell in love with that idea and decided I wanted to expand it into a novel, and then had a brilliant epiphany to merge the two concepts. I guess we will see how brilliant it really is once I get to writing! I’m really excited about this idea, which should help sustain my momentum through November.

I’ve gotten off to a slow start, though. It’s already day 5 and I think we’re supposed to have a little over 8,000 words by now, while I’m currently sitting at only 2,521. Still, that’s 2,521 words I didn’t have on this project 5 days ago, so I’m not going to get discouraged! I plan to work some more tonight, since we get to gain an hour, and I’m going to keep truckin’ even if I never manage to catch up.

P.S. Don’t judge my cover! I made it myself and I’m most definitely not a designer. I know the rose is cliché but it was the only image I found that I was able to tweak to my satisfaction. 🙂

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Think You Couldn’t Possibly Lose Your Amazon Publishing Account? Think Again.

This is some scary stuff, but very important for indie authors to be aware of. While most of my sales come from Amazon, I chose not to enroll in KU, mainly because I didn’t want to put all my eggs in one basket!

The Active Voice

There’s this indie author I know a little bit from the Kboards.com forum. Her name is Pauline Creeden, and she’s an ordinary midlister, like so many of us. I remember PMing her some time ago and gushing about how particularly beautiful one of her book covers is — the one for Chronicles of Steele: Raven.collection Here, I’ll include an image. Gorgeous, eh?

Anyway, today I tuned in to Kboards and noticed that Pauline had started a thread. It contained what’s surely the worst news possible for an indie author: Amazon had closed her publishing account. All her ebooks had been taken off sale. Permanently. Here’s the email she got from Amazon:

We are reaching out to you because we have detected that borrows for your books are originating from systematically generated accounts. While we support the legitimate efforts of our publishers to promote their books, attempting to manipulate…

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#TeaserTuesday

So, I’ve finally discovered Canva. If you don’t have any design skills, like me, it’s a great resource for making your own graphics. One less thing I have to outsource and pay $$$ for someone else to do!

I’ve made my first teaser and thought I’d share — every where — because I’m super proud of myself. 😄

Here it is:

image

Eventually, I’ll be revealing an actual title. That will come soon!

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Cover Reveal: Communion of the Damned

It’s time for a new cover reveal! Weeeeeeee!

Unfortunately, it’s not the cover for Stones and Finger Bones book dos (sorry if anyone is terribly disappointed!) but it is set in the same universe and follows one of the minor characters on a brief adventure. Also — and this is very exciting — includes a sneak peak into book 2, tentatively titled As White As Bone.

I am working on it, I promise! 🙂

Now, without further ado, here is the cover for my short story, Communion of the Damned:

Communion Of The Damned - Jessica Minyard-small

Blurb: Vivaine Arany Barone was once the toast of a city; the beloved of a king; a shining jewel in the crown of Myrinthia. Now, she’s nothing more than a fallen star.

How far will one woman go to get everything she’s even wanted? Everything she thinks she deserves.

Release Date: November 26, 2015

CotD will eventually be available exclusively for Kindle — for only .99! — but if you’d like to get it for free when it comes out, sign up for my newsletter right hurr. I’m a terrible newsletter-sender-outer, so don’t be afraid that I’m going to spam you with emails. You’ll be lucky to get one every six months. LOL.

JMizzle out!

Credit for this pretty thing goes to Rebecca Berto at Berto Designs.

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A Very Merry Bookiversary!

*peaks out from under rock*

Oh, hai.

Well, I’m not dead! Just been busy working, writing, worry about working, worrying about writing, struggling to make ends meet, making big life decisions – you know, all that adult-related nonsense we have to put up with. So I just stopped by to check in with y’all and bring you a giveaway! That’s right folks. To celebrate the 6 month-ish bookiversary of Stones and Finger Bones, I’m giving away two signed copies over on Goodreads! Sincerest apologies to all my out-of-country peeps, but this author is on a budget so I could only open the giveaway to the US.

*hides in shame*

Anyway, if you’re currently residing in the states and want to get in on the action, head on over to the giveaway now!

Since we’re about half-way done with the year (how’d did that happen?!?) I thought this would be a good post to do a goal check-in and see where I’m at. In the spirit of brevity and clarity, I’m just going to copy/paste my 2015 goals and make notations about where I’m at. This was actually a good refresher for me, because I actually forgot about some of these – especially the writing ones. Oops.

Overall Heath & Wellness:

  • Continue making better food choices (Successful and ongoing! I’m actually doing a good job at tracking what I eat and making conscious better choices.)
  • Choose and start taking a vitamin D supplement (Sporadic. I forgot this was a goal.)
  • Stop tolerating sucky people (Doing pretty well here! I don’t voluntarily hang out with toxic people anymore and my social life drama is very minimal.)
  • Stop vehemently loathing work (yes, it takes away valuable time that could be used for writing or trolling the internet, but I have a mortgage to pay) (Still working on this one…)

Home Improvements:

  • Paint master bedroom and bath (Done and done!)
  • Find a bookshelf for room (Does pinning ideas count?)
  • Bring all books from home to new home (Not done, not started.)

Reading, Writing, & Publishing:

  • Finish 25 books. I know this might seem like a low number to some, but I’ve been really slacking on my reading habits. I don’t think I even finished 10 this year, which is terrible! (Very much on track to complete this goal!)
  • Do a better job of tracking these books, probably utilizing Goodreads (Success!)
  • Choose these books from the collection I already own and make list (Eh, not so much. A lot of the books I’ve read this year have been on my Kindle.)
  • Write at least 5,000 new words per month. I think this goal will complement my writing style better than daily or weekly goals, since I tend to write in fits and starts, and some days are more productive than others. (Nope…)
  • Outline book 2 of the Black Towers sequence (I think I need to be more diligent with outlining this one to make sure threads are being resolved, tangled, or cut as appropriate) (Double nope…)
  • Draft a Black Towers novella (Triple nope…)
  • Participate in bloggy activities. Blog more in general. Let’s aim for at least twice a month! (Hahahahahaha, nope.)

Well, I apparently still have some work to do before the year ends!

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The Key of Amatahns — Debut Novel Blog Hop

debut novel blog hop banner03

To celebrate the re-release of The Key of Amatahns by Elisabeth Wheatley, Inkspelled Faery is hosting ten days of visiting your favorite authors as they talk about their very first novels, topped off by an all-day Facebook party with fun, games, and giveaways. Check out the full line up of authors and don’t forget to join the Facebook party on the 25th!

Cover Design by Ravven

Aurelia Barone, Jewel of Starry Stone, harbors no illusions about the purpose of her life as heir to the throne. But after two failed betrothals, she starts to feel like nothing more than a pawn being moved aimlessly about a game board.

Until the night she loses everything.

Kidnapped by a wise-cracking mercenary with more than one identity, Aurelia embarks on a mission across land and sea to avenge her father’s death.

But an evil is rising from the ashes of memory. Insidious magic is stirring. The dregs of a once-powerful nation are thirsty for blood and revenge.

They seek to harness Aurelia. To tempt her. To manipulate her.

And if necessary, to destroy her.

Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Kobo

To start us off, can you sum up your first novel in a tweet, 140 characters or less?

Magic! Mayhem! Kissing! Handsome rogues! Narcissistic sociopaths!

What are you most proud of in this title?

I’m going to have to go with my characters. I worked very very very hard to make sure that no one was wholly good or wholly evil…that everyone was capable of performing “evil” deeds. Making sacrifices. There is no black and white morality here!

Do you think your writing has changed since your debut? In what way?

Hmm…this is an interesting one, because I just made my debut a few months ago. I know my writing has changed and evolved since I first started writing the story. And now that I’ve been through the editing meat grinder, I know where my weak spots are and how to fix them so hopefully book 2 is stronger from the get-go.

If you could give one piece of advice to yourself when you were writing your first book, what would it be?

Write a shitty first draft! I spent a lot of valuable time agonizing over whether the scenes were perfect or the words were right, when I could have been using that time to polish a written draft. You can’t edit a blank page!

Worst piece of writing advice anyone’s given you?

Write every day. Yes, I know this is very popular writing advice, but it was horrible for me. I also spent a lot of time during the writing of Stones thinking that I wasn’t a “real” writer because I didn’t write every day or meet daily word count goals. That’s just not how my creative brain works. Giving myself permission to write my way, and coming to the realization that every person’s writing process is different, was a huge relief! I don’t think I would have ever reached The End if I didn’t have this epiphany along the way.


If you thought this was fun, drop by the Facebook party going down on the 25th for more interviews with your favorite fantasy authors as well as games and goodies galore!

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NaPoWriMo: Day 12

Charon

I am the boatman

Dear traveler, waylaid
On your journey,
Step up, step up
Take my hand

I am the boatman

Wrapped in rags
Of sorrow,
Eyes of gelid fire
Limbs of sinewy ropes

An obol for the boatman

One more coin to
Toss into the river
Plucked from the mouth of
Another soul

I am the boatman

Cursed by fate
To pole the dead
Across the dark river
Made of their ephemeral brethren

I am the boatman

Never to gain either shore
Or the fields of torment
Or the halls of pleasure
Ever drifting

I am the boatman

Do not fear, errant
Travelers of
Flesh, blood, and bone,
When you meet the boatman

You’re already gone.

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NaPoWriMo: Day 6

Untitled

i wore

the shirt you left

or did i take it?

borrowed, only borrowed

a relic

a symbol

a souvenir

you know i hate this part

the waking from you

the stumbling

the retreating darkness

the crust of mascara around morning eyes

what sweet relief to slip back into your bed

under your arm

to feel the crushing weight of your strength

to have cold toes

warmed by the furnace of your body

you stir only to squeeze tighter

to run a calloused hand across my stomach

what sweet relief

to realize it is not yet Monday

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NaPoWriMo: Day 2

Butterflies

your breath comes ragged
hot
against my neck

my heartbeat flies
butterfly wings
crashing against a cage of bone

your hips move against mine
the heat of your chest
searing my skin

the butterfly wings
falter

hitch

i can’t breathe

you roll over
and with you goes so much of me

the cold slips
between us
over and under and through the hollows of my body

beat, beat, beat
go the butterfly wings

beat, beat

beat

until there is nothing

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