Writing Recap – January

I’ve also debated making an email list, but I think I’ll just stick to these recap posts for now.

In the past, I’ve struggled to aptly recap what all I had accomplished. I’ll probably make a post on this at some point. In summary, this failure to track accomplishments, no matter how small, made it a challenge to see any of the progress I had made. And this year, I want to change that.

So. January. Let’s recap this first month of 2022.

  • I decided to partake in NYC Midnight, an annual short story writing competition. The first round ended on the 22nd and in this round, I was challenged to write a romantic comedy. I’m actually quite pleased with how it turned out. I’ll know in April if it was good enough for me to advance. Wish me luck!
  • The same group that published me last year has had submissions open for a second anthology to be released this summer. I decided to shoot my shot with it with a short story about two best friends and the Maenads, a historic cult of women devoted to Dionysus. I’m supposed to find out if my entry made it in a few weeks. Crossing fingers!
  • I did a lot of thinking about TWEfA and the events that happen after that book this month, including outlining a new magic system.
  • I started taking my blog more seriously! If you’ve been here a while, you might have noticed more posts going up lately. I’ve also updated my bio and links page, acquired a professional domain, revamped my Ko-fi page, and am currently planning out a subscription model to use on said Ko-fi. I’ve also debated making an email list, but I think I’ll just stick to these recap posts for now.

There was a lot of behind-the-scenes work, as we can tell. For February, I aim to make the work I do more tangible, including continuing on with this draft of Those Who Emerge from Ashes, my dark fantasy novel about reincarnated gods. I also want to finish subscription options for my Ko-fi and have them live by the end of the month.

If you’re interested in what I’m working on, consider subscribing to this blog. I also have a list of all of my works available, which I do plan to revamp somewhat. What about you? What’s something you’ve done to bring in 2022?

A Wild Alex Appears! Reprise

Back at the end of 2018, I wrote my very first post on this blog – an introduction post. I aimed to use this blog a lot more than I have been – this was never supposed to be a “I drop in every few months” sort of deal, believe it or not. I originally aimed to make this a monthly thing, if not weekly.

Hopefully, I can get myself to that sort of place once again.

Hi! My name is Alex and I am a nonbinary writer from the Pacific Northwest. My main genre settles somewhere in the scope of speculative fiction. Often, this means “fantasy”, but not always. I’ve been a lot of places on the internet over the years – Twitter, Tumblr, Wattpad, some other, more defunct writing websites. You may have seen me around, you may not have. Regardless, welcome to my page.

The main purpose of this blog remains the same as when I conceptualized it: writing and exploring the writing world of other authors. There may also be some discussions of gaming and game design.

These are some things you can expect to see on this blog:

  • Book reviews
  • Discussions of tropes in books and games
  • Experiences I’ve had with writing/as a writer
  • Publishing discussions
  • Snippets of things I’m working on
  • Writing advice

And if there’s anything else you’re keen on seeing, feel free to say so! I’d love to hear your thoughts.

A Roadmap To 2022 – Writing Plans for the Rest of the Year

Any time I’ve tried to stick to a resolution, I’ve not followed through and have spent the rest of my year saddled with the guilt. That’s not the way I want to live my life.

I’m not a person for New Years Resolutions. I never really have been, but I especially stopped being so a couple of years ago. Near Years resolutions are the sort of phenomenon that many people say they’re going to do and then don’t follow through on. In fact, this study says “Seventy-seven percent maintained their pledges for 1 week but only 19% for 2 years.”* And I, personally, know my limits and my mentality. Any time I’ve tried to stick to a resolution, I’ve not followed through and have spent the rest of my year saddled with the guilt. That’s not the way I want to live my life.

But there’s never shame in knowing your limits.

Instead, I try each year to make myself more general “goals” to complete through the year. Resolutions are normally something Big and abstract. Losing weight. Eating healthier. Travel more. A list of goals with no set concrete steps to it. Personally, I find this abstractness difficult to conceptualize, and even harder to achieve.

That said, I have some writing-related goals of my own, which go as follows:

  • Back in October, I was published in an anthology with a short story about gods and cults. This same place is currently accepting submissions for a new anthology to release this summer, so I’m currently trying to finish
  • I have been given the chance to participate in NYC Midnight, an annual short story writing competition. The first round starts this Friday. My goal here is simple: get as far as I can. Wish me luck!
  • I have been really vibing with this latest draft of Those Who Emerge from Ashes, my dark fantasy novel about what it means to be a god.
  • I have been working on outlining a high fantasy adventure novel and I would like to finish that this year.
  • I’d like to finish rewriting Lilium, my paranormal novel about the bonds of family and how they extend beyond the grave.
  • I’d like to write some more short stories and see about self-pubbing a collection or something.
  • I’d also like to use this blog more. Post more writing advice, more reviews, and just in general more posts about writing!

That said, a lot of these goals are lower-stake and come with their own sets of steps, to help aid in their achievement. Time will tell how well I fare.

What about you? What are some goals you’re aiming to complete in this coming year?

*Study Cited: Norcross JC, Vangarelli DJ. The resolution solution: longitudinal examination of New Year’s change attempts. J Subst Abuse. 1988-1989;1(2):127-34. doi: 10.1016/s0899-3289(88)80016-6. PMID: 2980864.

Climbing the Mountain – Camp NaNoWriMo Recap

I am so out of practice, honestly.

I’ve been floating between projects for the past year, unable to produce much of anything for all of them in the process. 2020 was no joke. I know I’ve said this before, but I still maintain that. But, then again, I’ve said that before about other years, too.

A couple of Novembers ago, I wrote Why I’m Not Doing NaNoWriMo, a post discussing NaNo and self-care. I still maintain my stance on this, too, and I don’t plan or anticipate doing NaNoWriMo 2021, but Camp NaNoWriMo is a slightly different monster. I’ve been trying to get back into writing for a while. All previous attempts the last year or so have failed, but now I’m on the other side of April, a little more excited about my projects than I was before. I can’t call this a comeback – not yet – but I’m still optimistic about returning to a routine.

And routine really is what I need.

To recap, I initially set out to write 10,000 words of my dark fantasy novel, Those Who Emerge from Ashes. I call this draft six, but there’s a lot about this attempt that is wildly different than its predecessors. I spent most of March outlining and planning things out, and on April 1st, I took off running. The result was better than anticipated. I crossed the 10k word goal by day 13, then 15k on the 21st. By then, my trajectory was slowly. I hoped I could finish the month out with 20k, but left myself with a more conservative goal of 18k. A good thing, too, as I ended the month with 18,993 words to my name.

I also had three minor goals to maintain alongside this one. First, a discord server I’m in challenged us to write at least 20 minutes a day. While I didn’t keep official track of this goal, I definitely maintained that. Second, I challenged myself to write every single day. This, again, I maintained, ending my sessions with clocking my new count into the NaNoWriMo website. Lastly, I challenged myself to write at least 350 words a day. I fell short on the very last day, but otherwise maintained this – with some close calls. I won’t give myself flack for the last day. At that point, I’d already hit all of my other goals and really did need a break.

I think it really helped to shift some of the major plot elements and reconstruct this project. 80% of the last draft has not made it into the new one so far, and a lot of the remaining 20% has been heavily altered to match these new circumstances. I can’t say it’s a new story, though, when a lot of the main idea remains the same. That said, the newness is part of what made this draft so appealing. I found new arcs and scenes to be excited about. This draft won’t be the final one, I know, but I’m starting to feel like it’s the first major step to how I’ve always envisioned this story.

This post is getting a bit long. I’m going to end it with some small excerpts of my favorite parts from this month, but first… Did you do Camp NaNo? What was your result? How’re you feeling about your project now? Feel free to discuss what you did in the comments!

And now, some of my favorite bits from Those Who Emerge from Ashes.

Chapter Three
There was a scar on the inside of her arm. As a younger acolyte, she had once gone foraging in the woods under strict supervision. Monsters had come from the shadows and overwhelmed her small group. Maka was the only acolyte left standing from it. Everyone else had died in bloody heaps. Maka had bled, too.
Scholar Selene had tried everything to scrub the memory from Maka’s brain, and for the longest time, Maka thought she had succeeded. Now, there was no denying what she was.
Without thinking of the consequences, Maka dashed across the desk, grasped the athame, and sliced into her palm.
Apprentice Maka, how dare—“
Blood rushed down her arm. She couldn’t clench her fingers. The athame fell with a thud on the carpet, all but forgotten as pain lanced through her. Where she had expected garnet liquid to stain her coat and the carpet, it was instead a shimmering gold.

Chapter Four
There wasn’t time to think. Dakota closed the distance between her and the train. She wouldn’t be able to board, but there was an empty carrier car sweeping by now. She took a breath and lunged.
For several heart-stopping moments, she hung from the rail, clinging for dear life. Shouts of alarm chased her. She thought she felt something tugging at her coat, but then it was gone again. Huffing, she fought the urge to look down to the tracks and tugged for dear life.
Another pause as she flew through open air, then Dakota collided with the train car floor. She rolled with a moan, panting. Through her thick cloud of air, the tall figures stared, seeming to realize it was too late to stop her. One of the figures, the most decorated of them all, pressed their lips into a thin line before turning away.

Chapter Seven
Dakota stared at her cards until she went cross-eyed, but they still didn’t make sense.
She blamed it on the train. The rails rattled beneath her. Riding along had been smooth so far, save the vicious winds tearing at her from all sides. She’d found a small pocket of the car, which was more an open box than anything, where the wind hadn’t yet ripped everything apart. It was here her divination cards lay now, smooth to the touch and made from linen. Three such cards stared back at her now.
She tapped the first card, depicting five thin sticks clashing together. The suit of rods, for travel and opportunity and chance. This specific card spoke to conflicts, but of what? There were many avenues, she thought, it could apply to.
The accompanying cards cleared up nothing.
The second card featured a figure with no face, arms spread wide to the sky above them. A thin curved scratch shaped the moon. Pinprick circles were the stars. From what she could recall, this card spoke to religious wisdom, which was especially odd to her considering she had never been a spiritual individual.
Meanwhile, the third card was the outline of two figures on opposing ends of the linen, connected by their outstretched hands. Though they appeared to mirror each other, Dakota had studied this deck enough to notice the subtle differences. The Twins spoke to choices, though it could speak to relationships as well. She traced the face of one of the figures, though no true face existed, and frowned.

Chapter Nine
A few things happened in rapid succession. Dakota shot out a hand, murderous thoughts racing through her head. Something in the back of her mind snapped. The wind around them whipped into a sudden frenzy. Dayan slipped and the cards exploded from their hands and fluttered in all directions. With a yelp, Dakota dashed forward to recover them all. They made slow descents like leaves in the autumn. It took her a couple of minutes to gather them all.
Dakota counted them under her breath. Seventy-three cards in total – or, there should’ve been. She came close once, twice, then a third time, brow creasing first in confusion and then in anger.
“Missing something?”
She met Dayan’s gaze for half a second before lunging for the card in their grip. Three Vahnic wine bowls, as dark as the night sky, flashed on the card’s surface. Friendship and celebration.

Chapter Ten
Damn Maka. Damn the Scholars. Damn everything.

Writing Plans – April

My original plan was to make a post for the entire year, but the year is already 1/4 through… So I can try to make a post covering my goals for the month, at least.

For April, my goals are pretty simple. It’s Camp NaNoWriMo right now and my goal for this is 10,000 words – though if I keep writing a lot every day, I may need to bump it up some. 15,000, maybe, or 20,000. Unsure if I’ll be able to do more than that.

What am I working on for Camp? If you don’t follow me on my other media’s (namely, my Twitter) then this is probably the first time you’re hearing about it. I’m writing draft… six? Of my dark fantasy novel, Those Who Emerge from Ashes. I commonly pitch it as “dead gods and sad lesbians”. It’s mostly that, but it centers around three young women and their entwined narratives as they escape religious cults, become gods, and fall in love. This story has had many false starts and reiterations, but I’m in love with the direction this draft has taken so far. Hope I can keep up the momentum!

Maybe I’ll make a whole post about it someday. I don’t know.

Again, as I’m trying to do Camp NaNoWriMo right now, that’s all of my plans for April.

Next month, I’m hoping to get a personal copy of one of my other novels, Lilium, so I can read through and annotate. Once that’s done, I’m going to go into another round of edits, send it off for another round of feedback, and then hopefully pursue publishing with it!

But who knows. I’ll talk more about that next month.

What are your writing goals this month? Are you doing Camp NaNo as well? Feel free to let me know what you’re doing and how it’s going for you down below.