Kelly Maher
Chicken without head

For as much I’ve been talking about the holidays the last few weeks, it hadn’t really hit me until yesterday that Christmas is now less than two weeks away. I leave for my parents’ in one week. I still haven’t done any shopping except for my one nephew. Oops! It’s looking like I’ll either have my butt planted at the computer on Sunday doing my shopping and having it sent to my parents’ or I’ll have to brave the area malls. If the latter is the case, pray for me. On the writing front, some things are happening with alter ego that may impact my plans as Kelly in the next year. It’s both exciting and terrifying πŸ™‚ I’ve also finished another short story to publish as alter alter ego. It’s once again experimental in that I’m dipping my toe into the world of serials. I like how the story’s shaping up and I hope it finds its audience. That’s where I’m at these days. If you shop for Christmas, are you done yet?

Snow Day!

Threatening winter weather caused the day job to tell us to stay home. A bit sadly for me, the temps in the city meant that the snow didn’t stick around once it hit the ground. This Midwestern gal misses the big snows. I spent the day mainly lazing about, but also plotting out various upcoming projects. All in all, it was a wonderfully relaxing day for me. Even better is that the day’s still not over so I can still get a bit of writing in to flex those muscles. How do you like to spend your snow days?

Holiday Prep

I’m definitely going to attempt to stick with my regular posting schedule of Tuesdays and Thursdays, but as you can see from this week, that schedule may get set aside a little bit. This weekend I’m going to take things a bit easy. A number of authors I admire and consider to be friends are going to be signing tomorrow, so I’m traveling to visit them. However, I won’t be up at the crack of dawn as I usually am. I probably won’t linger long as I need to get back home to bake up some dessert bars for the Washington Romance Writers’ holiday party. I’m really hoping the bad weather we’re expecting on Sunday either doesn’t materialize, or comes in later than expected.

In other holiday prep, I need to start working on gift lists for my niece, nephews, and godson. Thankfully, they’re all on the young-ish side, and are relatively easy to buy for. I’m not one for doing my holiday shopping early, which means December’s an interesting time for me πŸ™‚

Writing-wise, I’m doing a lot of prep for certain projects which I’ll be working on in January, as well as writing up stories to release as alter alter ego. It’s a busy month! How are you doing with the holiday prep?

Holiday recovery

I do love holidays and long weekends home with the family. Coming back, though? It can be rough. Luckily, I’m not in a food coma as, despite all the fabulous food, I don’t actually eat a whole lot on Thanksgiving. However, I am in a bit of a travel coma as I spent yesterday taking care of last-minute laundry and packing before leaving my parents’ and then flying back home. While I didn’t take a super late flight, I did have to drive a good 45 minutes to get back to where I live from the airport, and that’s not including the stop for the week’s grocery shopping since I like to eat lunch and dinner.

It’s hard to believe it’s now December. I’m spending part of tonight decompressing from the holiday fantabulousness by reading a book I’ve been waiting to get my hands on. Once I’m done with that, I’m going to plot out my writing plan for the month. I already know the basics, and it’s a combination of some work for alter alter ego and planning for the next novel which is not a Kelly type of project per se. I’m also going to work in editing on Project Parietal with the hope of having that done by New Year’s, if not Christmas. In short, December’s going to be a busy month for me, so I’m going to take advantage of being lazy when I can πŸ™‚ How was your Thanksgiving if you celebrated?

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Thank you to all of you, my readers, whether you only read me here on the blog or my fiction. I am so thankful for all of you and everything you’ve done to help me have this fabulous job. If you’re celebrating, I hope it’s a fabulous one. If it’s only another Thursday for you, I hope you get everything on your “to do” list done πŸ™‚

Pre-Thanksgiving Thanks

Right now, I’m most thankful my plans to travel home for the holiday aren’t until the day itself. I’m thankful for work which affords me a roof over my head. I’m also thankful I live only a mile away from my day job, so I can walk there in bad weather. And that I have add-ons for my shoes which will make it easier to walk in icy conditions. Yay for winter arriving!! πŸ™‚ What are you thankful for?

Reading for fun

I ran across a few discussions today, both in person and online, that made me realize how little personal reading I’ve been doing lately. I can almost completely lay the blame on the increased amount of writing I’ve done in the last six months. At dinner with a friend tonight, I mentioned how I would love to take a week’s vacation where I could do nothing but read. We both joked how neither of can figure out when we would go on vacation as we’re both also conference junkies.

I do love how much more writing I’m doing, and I’m enjoying the schedule I have when I’m writing the first drafts of my work. Basically, I get up (for me) stupidly early, shower and dress for the day, write for about an hour and a half, and then head into the day job. This means I have my evenings free to do whatever I want including read. I’m still trying to sort out an efficient schedule for editing mode. I’m awake just enough in the mornings to write, but not quite enough to do critical reading and editing. Since doing my writing-related work when I’m in edit mode first thing in the morning is not feasible at this point in time, I go into the day job earlier than I do when I’m writing with the expectation of editing in the evening. However, because I’m tired from the day job (especially when I work a longer day to build up my additional leave time bank), I spend more time on my planned editing activities than I’d like. This means less time reading for fun when I’m editing.

If nothing else, this is an education for me in prioritizing my time and adjusting my schedule as needed to achieve those priorities. If you had a week to do nothing but read, what would you read? I’d probably finally start Nalini Singh’s Psy-Changeling series.

A period of rest…kind of

This week is a down week for me since I finished the first draft of Project Parietal last week. I spent the weekend doing errand type stuff while enjoying driving around the area. Last night, I wallowed in the loveliness of Fox’s Monday night lineup. Seriously, if you’re not watching Almost Human and Sleepy Hollow, you need to give them a chance. They both have sharp senses of humor. Alter alter ego is taking the lead week on the writing front as she works on putting together the finishing touches for her release this month.

All of these little things, even the work that alter alter ego is doing, helps give me needed distance from Project Parietal. When I go back to it this weekend, I’ll be able to look on it with a fresh eye and dissect it. One of the things I need to sort out about it is where to place the chapter breaks. I experimented with writing a story straight through when I worked on Project Ulna. However, I did include a number of chapter breaks before I switched to the “free flow” style. I think PP is the longest work I’ve done with no chapter breaks. I do have breaks for switches between points of view, but that’s it. What this means is I need to discern the pacing of the story to figure out where to put those breaks. It’s a challenge I’m looking forward to tackling. My goal for PP is to get it to my beta readers before Thanksgiving so I can get it back, edit it again with their input and send it out before Christmas. I know, due to the holidays, it will be awhile before I can expect to hear back. It will be nice to have it out of my hands as I spend time with my family, though πŸ™‚

Holiday creep

As I was considering the myriad of topics which I could expound upon here, a commercial came on for a retail store advocating for you to do your Christmas shopping NOW! I have quite a few friends who are already done with their holiday shopping. I commend them for avoiding the holiday crowds. I’m one of those shoppers who only begins to vaguely think about shopping for Christmas gifts about now. I won’t really shop until about the second week of December. To me, that’s the perfect lull period between the Black Friday (and then some) frenzy and the “Oh God, Christmas is almost here!!!” scare shopping.

I love the holidays because it means time with my family. Goodwill seems to abound in the universe as the days grow shorter (in the northern hemisphere, at least) and approach the time of growing longer once again. In general, I consider it a happy time of year.

What I absolutely hate about the holidays is the notion that they need to start earlier and earlier every year. I don’t necessarily consider myself a purist, but I believe Christmas music should not be played on the radio until the day after Thanksgiving here in the States. A local station apparently started the day after Halloween. This year, a number of stores are opening on Thanksgiving Day. Not only in the evening (which is bad enough), but a few in the morning! I’m making a long list of stores I will not patronize for this reason. I love Christmas, but I don’t want to be sick of it weeks before the actual date!

Everyone celebrates in their own way, and more power to you! I’ll just be over here in the corner focusing on turkey and stuffing and remembering very young family members begin singing a toddler version of “Happy Birthday” as we lighted the table candles that one year because they had just learned to associate the lighting of candles with singing the song and then blowing out the flames. Happy times.

Production goals

Part of being able to produce the amount I’ve been able to produce in the last six months (over 160,000 words!!) is coming to know my production style. I’m a spewer of words. I only vaguely craft as I’m working my way through the first draft. If something catches my eye or mental ear as I’m typing, I’ll fix it then, otherwise I’ll worry about it in the revision stage. Periodically, I do go back. When I do, it’s almost always to add in words rather than delete. I have no problems deleting words. I’ve deleted whole chapters before. But that is *always* after the first draft is written. I need words on page. I need that high of writing “the end” when completing the first draft. I crave having something “done”. It’s what allows me to continue forward.

Coming to these realizations is not something I was able to do overnight. I spent a good six months, if not more, reflecting on what I wanted out of my writing career. Production goals are only one step of the whole, but they are the most vital step. If you do not produce, you have nothing to sell. In order to know what production goals to set for yourself, you must know what your overall career goals are. Once you have your overall goals, you can calibrate your other types of goals from there. Because there are certain things I want to be able to do in a few years which require a good deal of savings, I knew that I needed to significantly ramp up my production levels as I’ve not been the most prolific of authors in the past. I decided to “ease” into this goal by setting a very manageable target of writing 100,000 words in a year’s time. I even made a point to say “unedited”. Edited words were part of my second stage πŸ™‚

Well, I’ve blown past my initial goal in half the time set. I now need to spend some more time reflecting on how to approach my upcoming writing schedule and readjust my goal structure. There are some external factors in play with regards to these, but if those external factors happen, I’ll readjust once again at that time. This is what any career is about: flexibility to see your way through to achieving your overall goals.