Bring it on.

For the first time in all of October, I have two full days with absolutely nothing planned ahead of me. Of course, they also happen to be the last two days of October, which means they are dedicated to all the projects I need to finish before NaNoWriMo comes charging in.

The two biggest projects? The outline for my NaNo novel, of course. I’m waffling on the ending–how cruel am I going to be to my characters? How closely do I want to weave this one in with the other two (still unwritten) novels set in the same world? How many people are going to end up on the brink of insanity at the end? I know some people would just leave it open and see where it goes, but I’m so not good at that approach. My possible endings diverge too widely, and I have to know which one I’m heading for.

Also, I still have like two-thirds of a close edit of Stone Alliance to finish before I put it away for a month. Who on earth starts a close edit of a manuscript with only a week in which to finish it? Oh, yeah. This crazy person right here. But I hit page 100 today, which was my goal. 160 more pages in two days? I can totally do that. Who needs sleep, anyway?

What are you working on? Are you outlining your NaNo novel or jumping in with your eyes closed?

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Don’t stop!

The last day of the retreat, Lisa Mangum shared a quote from a Disney Imagineer:

“Don’t worry. Don’t hurry. Don’t stop.”

Just read that a few times. Soak up the full meaning. Appreciate each sentence.

I’m very much a jump-in-with-both-feet kind of person. If I’m working on something, I’m working on it every moment I can spare. Which gets to be a little crazy when I overload myself and have way too many projects that I’m cramming into every spare moment.

Writing is one of those things that can really take over everything else in my life. And sometimes, that’s okay. I can let the housework and side projects slide for a bit while I get the words out of my blood.

But I’m quickly approaching a point in my life where writing will have to take a back seat for a while. And while I’m okay with that, I’ve spent a lot of time wondering exactly what that means. Do I put away all my manuscripts? Do I still set deadlines? Do I prioritize the blog over writing new material, or vice versa?

“Don’t worry.” Don’t stress over defining exactly what my writing life is going to be like in the coming year.

“Don’t hurry.” It’s okay if I’m not churning out three novels in a year. Or even one novel in a year. The pace will pick up again later.

“Don’t stop.” Sheer relief at this final statement. I don’t have to pull out of writing completely. I don’t have to shut off my story brain (as if I even could). Productivity may slow to a trickle, but don’t let it stop!

How does this quote reflect on your writing life?

Award-winning flash fiction!

I’m coming to you fresh from ANWA’s beautiful, fabulous, inspiring NW retreat! The past three days have been filled with so much learning and new friends and great books. The highlight of the weekend was our keynote speaker, Lisa Mangum–amazing! I’ll be sharing a few treasures I picked up from her in coming blog posts.

When we first arrived, we were given a prompt for a flash fiction contest that we had essentially 24 hours to write. Flash fiction terrifies me, guys. I can’t even do short stories because I’m too long-winded. A story in 300 words? No, thanks.

And then I woke up at 4:30 the next morning with THE STORY in my brain, and there would be no rest until it was down on paper.

And it won second place!! Which meant I got a FREE BOOK!!

So I thought I’d share it with you. It’s a quick read. Enjoy!

***

He built the footbridge in 1916. Two days later, he traded his hammer and saw for a bayonet.

She was savoring the crunch of fallen leaves underfoot when she saw him. The sight of her old playmate in uniform proved too much for her. She fled to the new footbridge with no more ear for the leaves swirling behind her, tears joining the clear stream below. He found her there and promised to return. When she refused to believe him, he sealed that promise with a kiss.

Seventy-one times she returned alone to the footbridge on the anniversary of that kiss. While she grew weathered and worn as the boards beneath her feet, her memory of him remained as tall and strong as ever.

On her seventy-second visit, she sat beside the bridge, her joints cracking and creaking louder than the old handrail. The handsome young subject of the photograph in her hands had long ago faded beyond recognition, but it didn’t matter. She could hardly see for the cataracts anyway.

“I told you I’d return.”

A smile creased her wrinkles at the long-silenced voice. His face shone like a beam of late autumn sunshine, clear and bright amid the muddled dimness of her vision. In the glow of its maker’s presence, the bridge took on its old glory. Without knowing it, so did she.

“I’m too old for you now, you know.”

“Nonsense. You’re every bit the woman I plan to marry.”

He took her hand, and she rose without creaks, without aches, without effort. The world burst into bright autumn glory, trees robed in colors she hadn’t seen for years, sunlight bouncing off the stream with crisp laughter. With her age shed behind her, she leaped into his embrace, never to be torn from it again.

Mark your calendars!

We’re still a ways out, but I couldn’t wait any longer to announce the RELEASE DATE for my next book!

STONE ALLIANCE, the sequel to Demon’s Heart, will be released March 2, 2016. It’s been a long time in the works, and I’m so excited for it to be out for the world to read! Here’s a hint of what to expect:

***

Haunted by his transformation, Rustav must now face the Burrihim invaders without the support of his tuathan kin. But as he seeks new allies to drive back the enemy, a centuries-old grudge threatens to make him more enemies where he hoped to find friends.

Caught between the desperate needs of his country and his own fast-approaching breaking point, Rustav struggles to reconcile three estranged cultures and oust the hostile invaders before his people starve–and before he loses himself once more to the fleyder’s violence.

***

What’s going on in your writing life? Any big goals you’re reaching for?

Grown-ups and Monsters

“What do you think Ursula Monkton is scared of?”

“Dunno. Why do you think she’s scared of anything? She’s a grown-up, isn’t she? Grown-ups and monsters aren’t scared of things.”

“Oh, monsters are scared,” said Lettie. “That’s why they’re monsters. And as for grown-ups . . .” She stopped talking, rubbed her freckled nose with a finger. Then, “I’m going to tell you something important. Grown-ups don’t look like grown-ups on the inside either. Outside, they’re big and thoughtless and they always know what they’re doing. Inside, they look just like they always have. Like they did when they were your age. The truth is, there aren’t any grown-ups. Not one, in the whole wide world.” She thought for a moment. Then she smiled. “Except for Granny, of course.” (The Ocean at the End of the Lane, Neil Gaiman)

Hello there, Friday

You know those weeks where you’re planning on getting that Monday blog post up there, and then suddenly it’s Friday? I don’t know what happened to this week, but boy, am I glad it’s the weekend.

Next week I’m heading to a writing retreat, where I will hopefully be massively productive and make lots of new writing buddies and get all inspired for . . .

NANOWRIMO!

Yep, you convinced me. I now have a profile and everything. You can find me on the NaNo website under ehbates. Come connect with me! I need motivational buddies to make it through this.

More to come next week. Happy weekend, everybody!

Pre-Sun Productivity

I woke up at 3:30 this morning with my brain listing all the things I needed to do, that I’ve needed to do for a week and haven’t had the time or energy for, and I spent an hour convincing myself that I was never going to survive the winter.

But then I decided that, as long as I was awake, I might as well start crossing some of those things off my list. And, my friends, I crossed almost every item off that list. In two hours, I accomplished what I had planned to spend a month doing. It’ll still take some work, but man, Microsoft Word is WAY more versatile and useful than I gave it credit for. Forget you, Adobe.

There’s been so much shifting going on in the past two weeks that I’ve been a little overwhelmed in the writing sector. But after this morning, I have fresh confidence that it’s all going to work out. Not exactly how I planned, but isn’t that the way life always goes?

I’m probably not making much sense, but just know that life is moving forward, and so is (finally) the sequel to Demon’s Heart. I’ll have news on that front for you after a few more phone calls are taken care of.

In the meantime, I’m taking a nap.