The Next Accountability Plan

Rosy

Rosy

This is Rosy. Rosy is one year old and has been taking up a good portion of my living room since her arrival. We haven’t paid her off yet.

Rosy is in the Christmas tree spot. All things considered (five cats and my need for convenient exercise) it was more important to have Rosy this Christmas than a large tree. We made do with the tiny Charlie Brown tree on the mantle.

Not to harp on it, but last year was not a typical year, and lots of things were shoved down the priority list. Taking care of myself was one of those things. In fact, the second half of last year was dominated by fast food hastily eaten in the car between home and the hospital or home and the nursing home. And Rosy collected dust.

I was overweight already before all this started. And sitting all day to write hasn’t helped either.

Why am I telling you all this? Because this is a magic blog. Five years ago, I wrote my first post. I wanted to be an author, and I figured, if I wrote it on a blog and made myself accountable, I’d finally follow through.

Six novels later, it occurs to me that it worked. So, I’m writing it here for all of you to see. I’m putting Rosy on notice. I have all the things I need to pull my head out of my ass and treat myself better–healthy food, a really nice treadmill, yoga DVDs, exercise equipment, and command of my own schedule. The only thing stopping me is me–much like before I wrote my first book.

I’m not turning this into a food or fitness blog. But I will check in once in a while and let you know how I’m doing. Not because you care whether I’ve been slacking off, but because this is the magical accountability blog. If I hide my laziness, it will continue. If I have to admit it in public, it’ll stop.

In theory, anyway.

So. Just as I did with my crazy dream of becoming an author, I guess I need to outline a plan here, just to make it clear. Here it is:

1. Walk a little every day, increasing each day until walking is no longer a huge event that requires frequent stops to rest my back or knees.

2. Increase the speed a little every day until my heart and lungs no longer threaten to stop working.

3. Start using the pre-programed workouts with elevation variances.

4. Steal all the underpants.

5. Be healthier!

This plan, admittedly, falls apart earlier than the “Get Published” plan did, but that’s because banishing my sluggery isn’t complicated. I just have to get my ass out of the chair on a regular basis. We’re already eating well most of the time.

So. I’ll try not to bother you too much with the health updates, but I still have to do it to remain accountable. You can look away when it happens, if you like. Maybe I’ll post a picture of a cute animal so you can look at that instead.

Guess I’ll have to start getting dressed in the mornings. Rosy has a strict policy about wearing shoes and a bra. And once I have those on, I feel pretty silly if I don’t put on pants and a shirt.

Have a great week. See you real soon!

The Office of Dry Erase

I thought you might be interested in what goes on in my office. I try to be organized. I really do. But something unexpected always happens to throw things off.

For example, last year I had a pretty clear idea of how I wanted things to go down. This was my partially completed editorial calendar from that time period. I had a plan that stretched all the way out to 2018 and covered 18 new books. Last year’s schedule was mapped out, month by month in what might be described as a terrifying plan. I was pretty confident, though.

editorial calendar (1)

 

We’ve now reached February of the following year, and I can tell you the plan is still good. But it’s about six months behind. I did get the short story collection out last month, though, and I’ve moved on to focus hard on Unfinished Muse. Life’s curveballs only delayed me. They didn’t make me quit. Here’s what that same dry-erase poster on my office wall looks like today:

emptyedcal

 

In case you’re wondering what’s written in the upper lefthand corner, it says “Murffy was here” in my terrible handwriting. One of my oldest, bestest friends asked me to do that, since she lives too far away to do it herself. And there it will stay.

Usually, my elaborate plotting goes on the “Big Board,” but in the fall, I gave up the board so we could plan our television shows for the season. This is a throwback to the excitement of the fall lineup when we were kids. It’s not so much an organizational thing as it is the fun of planning what new shows we’ll try out and when our old shows are coming back. Don’t judge us for how much TV we watch. Honest. A lot of shows get dropped from our schedule fairly quickly.

bigboardtv

It’s wiped clean, now, awaiting the timeline I’m working on for Unfinished Muse.

I also have a bunch of smaller boards I use for brainstorming individual problems, like character traits, lists of places, names of background characters, or this. This is from when I was working on Demons in My Driveway. It’s a map of the world. No, seriously. Each blob I drew represents a continent. It’s not meant to be accurate geographically (obviously). But I needed to visualize how many Aegises I had left and where they were in the world. The line with numbers above that is the list of chapter numbers. I have no idea why that’s there. It would also be on the Big Board.

world map

 

I am a writer, not an artist.

In addition to the boards I’ve shown you, I also have two more of those dry-erase posters, only in yellow, on the wall behind me, two more mini boards, a dry-erase monthly calendar, a folding dry-erase board that looks like index cards, and an electronic Boogie Board. I take my notes and brainstorming seriously.

Really, I just like writing stuff so I can wipe it off again. And someday, if I’m very, very good, I’ll have one of those huge boards on wheels that flips over so I can write on it on both sides.

Everybody’s gotta have a dream. I’m sure you’ve got a weird one, too. Right?

See you real soon!

I Made It!

nostressHoly hell. It’s the end of January.

Since my last blog post, I finished writing the last Monster Haven book, went through a developmental edit, a line edit, a copy edit, and a proofread.

I wrote several new short stories, edited all eighteen shorts and four poems with editor Sara, and finally got Transmonstrified published. (My husband did the formatting. I can’t take credit for that.) In a few weeks, the print version will be out, too.

I put together blog posts, favorite lines, and fun facts for my publisher to use during the release week for Phoenix in My Fortune. And I attended a book signing in Topeka.

I also survived Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years, and at least one new emergency stay at the hospital for my dad.

For those of you who have asked, Dad’s pretty much the same. Some good days. Some not so good days. Not a lot of changes, really. I was right about this being the new normal.

So. With the holidays over, the last Monster Haven book out the door and awaiting its release date, and the long-promised short story collection published, my stress level has dropped considerably. My plate is not so full that I don’t have time to breathe.

My number-one priority now is tackling Unfinished Muse, the first in the Mt. Olympus Employment Agency series. I should be finished with the first draft mid-March, and I hope to have it available for you by May. The second book, Unamused Muse, won’t be far behind. And if things go as planned, right on its heels will be the third and final Muse story, Uninspired Muse.

I have no more blog posts to write for other people at the moment, so I’ll be back here, taking care of my own blog again. Consider this post to be a reboot. After this, I’ll try to post every Monday. And I’ll try not to make it all updates and news. With things settling down, I’m hoping to have some new road trips to report on soon. I’m also hoping to use our ridiculously huge LEGO collection to give you sneak peeks of scenes I’m writing. It’ll be epic. And probably stupid.

But the bottom line is, I’ve missed talking to you folks. I had to hole myself up and get a ton of stuff done. It left me no brainpower (or time) for being goofy on my own blog. And socializing was minimal, on and off the Internet. That time is over now.

I’ll be back on Monday, just in time for Groundhog Day. If I see my shadow, it’ll be six more weeks until I get this book written. If I don’t, it’ll be a month and a half.

See you real soon!

Demons’ Birthday

Demons in My Driveway by R.L. NaquinHoly cow, guys. I’m writing this the night before Demons in My Driveway is born. I honestly can’t believe this is book five already. Seriously. I don’t remember writing five books.

Actually, I’m close to having written six, which is even crazier.

Anyway, we’re almost done with Zoey’s story. Demons is the beginning of the end–sort of the first part to a two-part finale.

Unlike the release day for book four, I’m not able to take the day off. I went away last week and holed up in an Internet-free cabin in the woods to work on book six, Phoenix in My Fortune. I’m not done, but I am getting close. Not close enough to take off tomorrow to celebrate, though.

So, here’s the question: Will tomorrow be the day? Will book five bring the release day when I don’t spontaneously burst into tears? I have no idea. I don’t feel overly emotional. I feel cool. I feel like this is no big deal. I’m totally jaded by now.

Ha!

Yeah. We’ll see. I’ll let you know how it goes. If it’s going to happen, it has to be this one. Because when Phoenix comes out, it’ll be like saying goodbye to Zoey. And I’m terrible at goodbyes. I’m going to bawl like a little girl who lost her favorite stuffed armadillo.

I hope you enjoy the beginning of the end. The zombie apocalypse awaits.

See you real soon!

Regrouping, Rethinking, and Responding

Transmonstrified_ebook_FinalIf you follow me on Facebook or if you’ve read my blog recently, you know we’ve had a pretty rough couple of months with my dad having a massive stroke and all that goes along with that. Now that things have fallen into more of a routine, the dust has settled and I can focus on work again.

My editorial calendar is totally trashed, guys. Really. I’m so far behind I want to throw my arms in the air and walk away. I’ll try this author thing again another lifetime, and I’ll try to get started a little earlier than the age of forty next time.

But that’s not realistic. And I don’t give up. Plus, I kind of love what I do. But, according to the schedule I set for myself at the beginning of the year, I am now two novels and a short story collection behind. Seriously. How can I possibly catch up?

I can’t. My fabulous husband keeps giving me the stink-eye and telling me I’m not behind. I just have to re-adjust the schedule. So. That’s what I’m here to do today.

The good news is, although I’m technically two months behind on Monster Haven #6, Phoenix in My Fortune, my publisher is working with me to get it out on time anyway. That does mean, however, that I have to give it my full attention for the next few months. The short-story collection, Transmonstrified, probably won’t be out until November or December. I’ve got three half-written short stories and one brand new one to write still, plus the edits Awesome Editor Sara has been working on with the rest of the stories. I can’t possibly juggle those while writing the final book in Zoey’s story. I’ve been trying. It’s not efficient. And frankly, writing the finale requires my full concentration.

I promise you, I’m making the collection worth your wait. Multiple new Monster Haven stories, a ton of stuff you’ve never seen, and a new Mt. Olympus story (starring the gorgon receptionist!) that may very well turn into a serial down the road.

So. By the end of the year, the collection will be out and the last Monster Haven book will be off my plate. Come January, I’ll be able to focus entirely on the first Mt. Olympus books and get those out as quickly as I’m able.

And then? There’s a certain closet monster who’s begging me for his own series. Shhh. Don’t tell anyone.

Anyway. Thank you all so much for the kind words, encouragement, and patience. I’m finishing up this crazy year and then moving forward with a fresh start.

I’m not late. I’ve rescheduled.

See you real soon!