#oktowrimo recap!

So - it's officially November. Which is crazy. On the one hand, I'm excited Thanksgiving is right around the corner! (I need a break from work, and I'm really looking forward to going home. Plus, Thanksgiving is my fave.) On the other hand, I'm a little sad to see October go. It was actually a really great and productive month for me. I had some things shift in terms of my writing focus, but I've got some pretty amazing things in the works, so stay tuned! I also spent a lot of time with people - which I know is good for me - and it was an overall good time.

PLUS - I hosted my first Instagram Challenge - #oktowrimo. It. Was. AWESOME! There were so many people who participated, which was mind blowing, and I loved every minute of it. It was fun checking in on people every day, and learning new things about writers in my social media community. In fact, it was so fun, I plan on doing it again. Coming this December, I'll be hosting the challenge #merryandwrite!

Guess that means I'm going to need some new questions....while I brainstorm,  here's a recap of my month!

1. What are your October writing goals? Finish writing a last minute short story for a soon-to-be-revealed project. Write to the point in Bryn Van Doren for Khal and Jess to FINALLY meet each other. (It's been forever, y'all. I might be at 30K before they're in the same room as each other.)

2. What's one of your non-writing October goals? I'd like to read 2 books not penned by me! Also, attend hot yoga at least once a week.

3. In which season does your WIP take place and why? It starts in the middle of summer, but it should take me into the winter, I think. A few reasons it starts in the summer is because I needed the weather to be warm enough to set sail on the water in New York; I wanted to establish that Khalohn will wear a suit, no matter how hot and humid it is outside; I also needed a holiday to spark an event at a particular point in my plot, and that holiday is Labor Day. 

4. Do you work on one manuscript at a time or multiple? One. Technically. Which is why I'm only 20K into The Lies of Bryn Van Doren, because I have to keep stopping for other things. I stopped to do my final Severed edits (which was more involved than I thought it would be.) And I've had to stop again for this short story I've got going on. So, while I have two WIPs, I can only focus my attention on one at a time. I can't toggle back and forth.

5. Music while you write - yay or nay? It depends. If I'm someplace public, yay. It's a must. If I'm at home, maybe. When it's really quiet, and I can't hear any of my neighbors, and I'm feeling motivated - nay. If I'm distracted, but intent on writing, sometimes music helps.

6. What does an ideal Saturday look like to you? I wake up, I meal prep, I clean, I write, then I veg. I may or may not do all of these things in my sleep clothes - and I never unlock my front door. 

7. All things pumpkin or hard pass? Yes to all things pumpkin! Well, let me clarify. Pumpkin beer? Yes, please! Pumpkin spice chai latte? Yes - with soy, please. Pumpkin treats? .... Am I making them?? If the answer is yes, then...pumpkin recipes? YES! Using actual pumpkins? No. I don't do canned pumpkin, and seeding then baking an actual pumpkin just sounds like torture. So, I happily substitute sweet potato or butternut squash in all of my favorite pumpkin recipes. 

8. Do you write full-time or do you have another job? I have another full-time job. I'm an office manager.

9. What's your favorite Halloween or Horror movie? I'm not really into Halloween or Horror movies. Though, I remember totally being into Casper when I was a kid. Not the cartoon (is there a cartoon?) but the live action one. Does that count?

10.What's the most challenging aspect of your WIP? The character development. I think. With this piece, I'm laying a really solid foundation - which involves a lot of background information - but it's my intent not to tell the reader anything in this book, but to show the reader everything. And that's been a challenge that has forced me to take my time in such a way that makes me impatient with myself. But I think it'll be worth it. Also, because I don't want my hero and heroine to meet until after I've established who they are, there is the added challenge of writing in such a way that I keep the reader's attention in a romance novel where the main characters don't meet each other until I'm good and ready.

11. If your hero and/or heroine existed outside of your head, would you be friends? My hero and I would definitely not be friends. Maybe if we had met in college - but the man he is when the novel starts? We do not run in the same circles. At. All. #NYCElite My heroine and I probably wouldn't be friends, either. If she met me, she'd be nice to me - but there's an age gap that would prevent us from ever really having a time in life that we could connect. Then if you add on the fact that both characters grew up on the east coast and I grew up in CO? That rules out any and all possibilities. 

12. What are you doing this weekend? Well, last weekend I was spontaneously social, which is not like me. This weekend, I plan on running my errands before hot yoga this evening and then shutting myself in until church on Sunday! I've got a novella to edit for a client, and a short story to edit of my own - and I'd like to do it in peace! (And if I'm super productive, I'll reward myself with some Netflix.) Oh! And I should squeeze in some research....it's going to be time to vote soon.

13. What's the best Halloween costume you've ever worn? I was in kindergarten. My cousin (also in kindergarten) and my brother (18 months my junior) and I were all dinosaurs. Our costumes were homemade and adorable. I had pink spots, they had blue and green. We were super cute and awesome. But the best part was that we wore these costumes to the harvest festival at church - and our moms gave us signs we carried around that said "The gap theory." Hil-a-ri-ous! Guess I can't take credit for that gem of a costume, but hey - I'm alright with that.

14. Do you have a song you associate with  your hero? Yes. So, actually, I've got two heroes wandering around in my head right now. The hero in the short story I'm just about ready to shelf (and whose name I'm going to keep to myself for a little while longer) the song I associate with him is "Burning Man" by Dierks Bentley. There's something about the way the song sounds, the tone of it, the tempo, and Dierks' voice - it makes me think of my hero. Then there's my guy Khalohn, who is on the opposite side of the spectrum. Without a doubt, the song I associate with him is "The Sound of Silence." Only, not the original Simon and Garfunkel version - but the cover Disturbed did. It's spot on. Dark and emotionally riveting....yeah. Totally Khalohn. 

15. What's your hero's best friend like? Khal's best friend is....Handsome. Suave. Brilliant. Rich. Outgoing. He's obnoxious but charming. He gets around - if you know what I mean - but he's also loyal. He plays hard, but he works harder - and there's a girl out there who's bound to knock him on his ass, but he hasn't met her yet. 

16. How do you approach your word count goals? I used to be kind of a beast about my word count goals - like 3K a day, 5K would be even better (if I had to work) or 10K in a weekend. I was relentless to the point of burnout. Now, I'm a recovering workaholic. These days, I set small goals. If I sit down to write, I want to try and get out at least 1K words each session (more on the weekends.) Some days are harder than others, but for me it's all about maintaining balance and still prioritizing my writing. I'm learning to be more concerned with the quality of work I lay down and not the speed at which I produce it. On a grander scope, I don't set word count goals for my novels. They are as long as they need to be and that's that. 

17. How many times do you read through your story in the editing phase? It depends. Usually no less than 4 times (it might have been 3 for a novel or two, but those days are long gone.) The most I've read a piece is 6, I believe. 7 just seems like the definition of insanity. At some point, I'm not fixing my story anymore, you know? I'm picking it apart and messing it up because I don't see it as a whole anymore, but as little pieces strung together. And when I see it completely disjointed like that - it messes with the integrity of it, so I have to let it go.

18. Hardback of paperback? Well, considering I just released a book today - in hard cover - I'm going to go ahead and say, hard cover! (In truth, holding my book in any form is amazing. Though, my book in hardback is a new thrill I'm totally in love with!)

19. Do you have a song you associate with your heroine? Oh, my gosh - let me be doing something (anything!) when "Sorry, Not Sorry" by Demi Lovato comes on. My brain will stop whatever it is I'm doing and take me directly to Jessica.  Without fail. It's so distracting....and I love it.

20. What's your heroine's best friend like? Jess's best friend is....Beautiful. Masculine. Effeminate. Graceful. Confident. He's straight forward but kind. He's got a little bit of elitism in his blood, but he's down to earth. He has impeccable taste in clothes, and he always smells good. Best of all, he'd do anything for Jess - anything.

21. Gloss or Matte (covers)? Matte! My first series (and Backwoods Belle) I had done in gloss. It seemed to fit. But when I discovered the beauty of matte...I was in love. 

22. What made you decide to publish? (Or what's stopping you, if you haven't yet?) The goal was always to share my writing. Even when I was penning stories on notebook paper, they didn't seem to hold any value unless I let someone else's eyes roam over the words. For a while, one person would do - one person was all my work was worth,  in my opinion. And then...then I wrote something I thought was not mine to keep. And the rest is history.

23. Are you a short story/novella kind of writer, or do you prefer novel length? I prefer novel length. I like all the details and all the feels and I've never considered myself a writer of few words. I've published three novellas and one short story that are all tied to longer works because...it just wasn't enough words. However, I've recently written a short story that will remain as such. It was a challenge and a growth opportunity I foresee myself trying again.

24. Do you give your main characters middle names? Michael/Jane. Patrick/Jade. Aiden/Elizabeth. Cornelius/Elise. Stewart/Hailey. Danyl/Rose. Mariah. Lawrence/Tatiana. Corbin/Leigh. Magnolia. Nicole. Isidro/Luella. Laurel/Petunia. Sheldon/Lucille. In short - yes. And if they don't have a middle name, they are usually of the male persuasion and it's intentional. (I mean, come on, with a name like Coder - who needs a middle name?) (Also - One of those middle names I never wrote in the book, and that too was intentional.)
25. How much do your hero's shoes cost? $1,990.00....because he can.

26. Is your heroine all about the sneakers, all about the heels, or somewhere in between? Jess is totally down for a pair of sexy heels when she's going out for a night on the town. But - during the day, she's more likely to rock a pair of converse or cute flats. She's not so much a sneaker girl.

27. Do you prefer to write in past tense or present tense? I've done both. Most recently past. It's not really a matter of preference so much as it's a matter of the tone of the story and the natural flow of the thing. I started writing Severed in present tense. It was my go-to for 16 books. But I got a couple chapters in, and present tense felt all wrong and got me all confused and twisted up, so I rewrote it in past...and it worked.

28. Are you a first person story teller or a third person narrator? I wrote in first person for the better part of three years and sixteen titles. Then - she took a turn, and decided it might be worth her while to try her hand at third person. What she found, as she traversed the road less traveled in the realm of indie romance, was a challenge wrapped in the opportunity to use her words in ways she'd never been able to before, whilst  stuck within the confines of her character's minds. As a narrator, she could tell the story from a vantage point that gave her the freedom she didn't know she'd love. 😉

29. Will you participate in this years' NaNoWriMo? No. In all honesty, as a recovering workaholic, the pressure of a word count goal driven by a community built in order to keep each other accountable - yeah, no thank you. The ambitious beast inside of me is better left alone with my own small goals. If I write 50K words, go me. If I don't, that's okay, too. As long as I write - I've got a couple surprises up my sleeve to finish by the end of the year!

30. Did you crush your October goals? hahahahaha - NOPE. I did attend yoga at least once a week, and I did finish writing the last minute short story I wanted to (which is actually more of a novella.) So I guess those were half of my goals. I didn't read 2 books not penned by me. Well, not technically. I edited one - which involves reading, so there's that; and I'm in the middle of reading another...but I'm just going to say I didn't handle that goal. And, turns out, I've come to the conclusion I'm not quite ready to write the novel I was working on. So, I've set it aside for now. Instead, I'm working on a special project I'll be announcing soon! I've got some exciting things in the works, and I'm looking forward to sharing them with you.

31. Trick or Treat? Treat. Every time. And can I just say, to everyone who participated in #oktowrimo, even if just for a post or two, THANK YOU! It's seriously been a real treat. This is the first time I've ever hosted any sort of IG challenge, and I have been blown away with the amount of posts attached to this hashtag. It's certainly not about me at all, but about our writing community and the amazing authors and readers who are interested in our work. Even still, it was a thrill for me to have so many people come along for the #oktowrimo ride. We'll have to do it again sometime. 😏 #merryandwrite