Tag Archives: counted cross stitch

February Goals

First, a recap of January.

I did manage to get the changes made to Book One of The Academy of the Accord. Barely, but it’s done and is safely in the hands of (well, in the email of) a fearless (or maybe fearful) beta reader.

I didn’t fair so well in the “write every day” category but today starts a new month so I’m ready to try again.

I did finish the paper edits of Book Two of The Academy of the Accord and will be entering changes every day.  I want it done before the end of the month and Book Three started.  (Book Three is still in paper edits.)

I also need to realize that sometimes I have to adjust my goals.  For instance, on weekends when I’m working and doing blog hops, other things might have to fall by the wayside a bit.  I’m going to try not to let them, but I won’t beat myself up over it when it happens, either.

So, writing goals for February:

Get Book Two of The Academy of the Accord updated in Word.

Finish paper edits of Book Three of The Academy of the Accord

Depending on how long it takes to get Book Two’s changes made, maybe get Book Three’s done, too.  That’s probably pushing it quite a bit, though, so I’m not holding me to that one.

So, those are my writing goals.

Non-writing goals are mostly focused on house stuff – deluttering, maintaining a set cleaning schedule, that sort of thing.  I suck at housework.  I keep up with laundry and cleaning the rat cage, but that’s about it, but I really want that to change, so…

I also want to do more craft stuff – crochet, counted cross stitch, etc. I’m not quite sure how or when to schedule time for that, though. Work days are crunched enough as it is and the to-do lists for my days off are usually an exercise in over-estimating my abilities.

And, yes, I am fully aware that “doing more craft stuff” is in direct opposition to “decluttering and cleaning.”  I can dream though, can’t I?






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I have the “Shoulds”

Writing is my main love, my primary hobby.  (I don’t make enough money at it for it to have anything more than “hobby” status.)  It is what I spend most of my free time doing and my non-free time thinking about.

But I do have other hobbies:  I crochet, I do counted cross stitch, and I collect stuff for scrapbooking.  And then there is my much neglected dollhouse renovation.  And a few million hobbies that I want to learn.  And I’d like to do some gardening this summer (if summer ever comes) even though it will just be container gardening.

Oh! And my rats!  We can’t forget the rats!  It’s way too hard to resist them when they tug at my sleeve or pant leg because they want to come out to see me.  It’s also really hard to type with a rat in your sleeve.

But (aside from cleaning the rat cage) I find that I feel guilty when I engage in another hobby.  It’s not so much like I’m cheating on my writing as it is having a case of the “shoulds” – as in, I should be writing.

But then sometimes when I’m writing I start to feel guilty about the stashes of yarn and cross stitch stuff that are going unused and I feel like I should be stitching or hooking. (Hooking = crocheting. Get your minds out of the gutter. This isn’t that kind of blog. Sheesh!)

But as soon as I start doing one of them, I feel guilty because I should be writing.

(Note: this only happens when I’m struggling to get words out – when I’m really inspired and the words are flowing well nothing else even crosses my mind.)

And, then, of course, there are the other “Shoulds.”

I should clean the house.
I should do dishes.
I should organize papers.
I should cook supper.
I should get some sleep.

Does anyone else suffer from this?  How do you balance writing with other hobbies and more mundane activities?



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A Shiny!

I try so hard to be good, to focus on just one or two (or 4 or 5) projects at a time, but it’s hard.

I need to finish the edit on Sanguine — that’s the number one priority.

Number two is a tie between Doll and The Other Mages Trilogy. The trilogy is probably a bit more of a priority for me than Doll is, but Doll is less complicated so it’s easier to focus on.

Then, in no particular order at this point in time, there is The Academy of the Accord series and the sequel to Song and Sword.

So, with all that lined up, why did I find myself outlining something new the other day? I tell ya, it’s a sickness! In counted cross stitch, we call it “startitis.” (And I’ve noticed that I seem to have a thing for magic users being paired with warriors. That’s a large part of the premise of The Academy of the Accord, and it also seems to be forming the basis of the new story that is taking shape in my head.)

But I swear, all I’m going to do with it is make an outline. I’m not going to start writing it! I promise!

Because, as pretty and exciting and interesting as this new plot bunny is, sooner or later it will turn into a grind and I’ll have yet another unfinished project hanging over my head to feel guilty about. I need to at least finish Sanguine and The Other Mages Trilogy before starting anything new.

Oh, and I have really done myself in as far as productivity goes…

I’ve been wanting some pet rats, and on Wednesday I finally got some. Three brothers, 5 weeks old. Their cage is right next to my computer and they love to come out and be held, which makes it really hard to type.

(Their names are Peter, Paul, and Perry, by the way, and, yes, I’ve been dodging rotten tomatoes.)

They each have a distinct personality, and, of course, there is now a part of me that wants to write them into a novel, and (also of course) they won’t really fit into any of my current projects.

But sooner or later…

Hopefully later.

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Deadline in 5 Days

“Another Sunday night and I ain’t got no topic…”

Can I blame it on the weather?

It’s cold and snowy and totally uninspiring.

Meh, that’s a cop out.

I just haven’t felt like working on Book One of The Other Mages trilogy so I haven’t been.  Bad me.

And I’m letting myself get distracted by a shiny new plot bunny that involves a dragon.  I haven’t been writing it, but it’s been roaming around in my imagination drinking all my creative juice.

(Or at least all of it that isn’t frozen, and it’s probably using that as ice cubes.)

And I don’t know why it is, but it’s true that the more time you have to do something the less of that something you do.

For instance, my corner for doing counted cross stitch is downstairs in the front room:  there isn’t any place up here in my bedroom where I can get comfy and have good lighting for it.  Factor in that I really don’t like the babble of the television: I’m a seeker of silence and my roommate is allergic to it.  I’m also a morning person and she… isn’t.  So I get up and go downstairs and stitch before she gets up and turns on the television.  She was away all last weekend and I didn’t put a single stitch in.

The same seems to hold true for my writing.  If I have all day to write, nothing gets written.  I keep thinking that I’ll do it “as soon as I…”

It’s not procrastination, exactly. It’s more… thinking that I have more time than I do.

That’s why NaNoWriMo is so awesome.  You know that you have a limited amount of time to make your goal and that keeps you focused on it to the exclusion of all else.  (At least, it does if you are serious about doing it and make it a priority.)

Hmmm… maybe that’s my problem.  Maybe I haven’t made writing my priority lately.

Counting today, I have five days until the end of the month.

Five days to finish the first book of the Other Mages trilogy.

Five days of making writing my priority… again.

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Well, it’s been a semi-productive weekend.  I got 2 or 3 thousand words written, but I’m just not sure what I should be doing with this story right now, how much detail I should go into regarding Trebor’s training.  I know, I know.  For now, just write it.  If it feels sloggy in the pre-editing read through, fix it then.

I also launched yet another assault on my craft room, trying to get all of my counted cross stitch charts into one container and in alphabetical order.  It didn’t quite happen – I had to pull all of the Heaven and Earth Designs charts out and put them into their own bin as they were taking up over half the space in the other one.

Said assault was probably a bad idea, though.  For one thing, I should have been resting my sore knee more than I was, although I was careful not to overstress it. And for another thing, I found a whole bunch more charts that I want to pull out and kit up and start.

(I’m a serial starter for cross stitch as much as I am novels:  Stitch Bunnies are close cousins to Plot Bunnies, and I’m sure there are others in the family of New Start Bunnies.)

(Anyone want to make fake Latin names for these?  Like Bunniculi Stitchiti, Bunniculi Novelitas, and Bunniculi Novo-genesium?)

Anyhow, I’m still chugging away at Book One of The Other Mages trilogy (and working on the Peacock Sampler) and trying to stay focused and ignore all the other bunnies.

This trilogy is near and dear to my heart, seeing as how it came from my very first novel.  The first NaNoWriMo I ever did, I ended up writing what turned out to be book three of a trilogy, and I’ve been kicking around finishing them ever since.

Of course, that first ever novel has plot holes that you can fly an Air Force squadron through and is due for pretty much a total rewrite when I get back to it, but I’m still pretty darned proud of it.

I mean, really, it was my first novel – it’s always going to hold a special place in my heart, and someday (later this year if all goes well) I’ll actually share it (and the other two books) with the rest of the world…

…after I finish Books One and Two, which was supposed to happen this month, and then do Book Three’s rewrite, and then edit everything…

Oh, and name them all.

By then Sanguine will be out, so my first novel will end up being the fifth one that I publish.

I wonder if I will be as nervous as I was when I released Song and Sword?

No one ever said it was going to be easy…

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“You need to focus.”

“You need to focus” was the prompt for this week’s Thursday Threads Challenge.   I didn’t participate but I should have:  gods know that I need to take that piece of advice.

I seem to have been on a bit of a vacation this week.  (A writer’s vacation:  I may not have been writing, but I’ve been thinking about writing.)

Part of it is due to an influx of plot bunnies, none of which are related to any current works in progress, and at least one of which belongs on my other blog.  They make it really hard to focus.

Bits and pieces to the sequel to Song and Sword have been kicking around in my head as well.  I just wish they’d start forming a coherent structure of some kind.

Another factor is that I did something to really annoy my right knee and it’s happier with fewer stairs to climb so I’m staying downstairs in my stitching corner more than I am up here in my writing corner.

And yet another part of it is due to a sudden return of my cross stitch addiction.  I’m working on a chart that I’m really enjoying so even without my knee’s approval I’d be spending a lot of time in my stitching corner.

peacock 1-15-14

I probably have another two weeks or so to go on it, but I miss writing so I’m going to try to get back to juggling my hobbies better.

(No promises other than “I’ll try,” but I’d really like to get Book One of The Other Mages trilogy done by Wednesday so I can get it printed. Then again, I was hoping to have it done last Wednesday, too, and probably the Wednesday before that.)

(I’m not good at self-imposed deadlines…)

But on a brighter note, I did get my excerpt ready for Love Spanks.    I still need to finish the whole blog post but the major part of it (deciding on an excerpt) is done.

That has led me to doing a lot of thinking about brand recognition so there may be another post on it in the near future, once I sort things out in my own head a bit more.

Now to see if I can have actual novel progress by Monday.

I can if I would just stop letting myself be pulled in so many different directions.

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Writing Goals for 2014

Well, here we are, almost to the new year and I’m a bit behind on my (revised) goals for this year, which were to finish editing Sanguine (I’m on the second round) and finish Book One of The Other Mages trilogy.   Eternal optimist that I am, I suppose they are still possible, with enough caffeine.

But that isn’t stopping me for setting my goals for next year:

As soon as Sanguine gets back from the beta readers I plan to make any final edits and get it formatted and turn it loose on the world.

I also plan to get The Other Mages trilogy finished, edited, formatted, and turned loose on the world.

I am going to finish the rough drafts of the rest of the books in The Academy of the Accord series if it kills me.

And I’m going to at least start the sequel to Song and Sword, with an eye toward releasing it early in 2015. 

I think that’s enough for one year – probably more than enough, although I’m also pondering the possibility of a sequel to Sanguine.    

My only real concern about the writing goals is that I sometimes struggle when switching between worlds, which is why I don’t usually try to both write and edit at the same time.

But with so much planned for next year I had better get good at doing both at once.

But those are just the writing goals:  I also want to devote more time to other hobbies as well, so I have declared next year to be “The Year of Creativity.”  Some friends are joining with me in a pledge to spend at least a little bit of time every day doing something creative.  For me, that means not only writing, but doing something in addition to writing.    (Although, in a pinch, writing will count, but I want to do something that has a more tangible result.)

I haven’t set any stitching goals (yet) but I think that finishing a few WiPs might not be a bad idea, as well as weeding out some of the charts that I know I’m never going to stitch.

And I would like to start crocheting again.  (We have a huge stockpile of yarn that could be put to better use than taking up space:  I want to crochet afghans and scarves and such and donate them.)

Not to mention all of the other hobbies I would like to do (like scrapbooking and card making) or learn to do (like jewelry making).

Writing is always going to be my main hobby though:  I’m just happiest when I’m creating a story and I can’t ever seem to take a break from it for long.










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Writing Rotation

On Monday I wrote about needing to find some focus and discipline for the creative surge that was swamping me.  I may have come up with a solution.

One of my other hobbies is counted cross stitch.  I really do enjoy it, although it tends to take a back seat to writing most of the time.  I probably have more WiPs (Works in Progress) for counted cross stitch than I do writing, and every once in a while I try to find them all and organize them and set them up in what is known in cross stitching circles as a rotation.

There are several ways of doing rotations.  One is to spend a certain amount of time on one project (say a week or three days or whatever) and then go on to another one.  Another method, especially for people working on BAPs (Big Assed Projects) is to complete a page (or part of a page) of a chart and then go on to another one.  Often they will alternate a page of BAP with a smaller project.  Yet another method is to do so many stitches on a project and then go on to another one.

It is this last one that I am adapting.

I use the site 750words to maintain a habit of writing daily.  I use it to rant about my day, to do stream of consciousness writing about plot problems, especially when I’m outlining, and to actually write, especially during NaNoWriMo.

Now I’m going to use it to work out a rotation for novels.

Currently I have three thing that I’m working on: the scene(s) for Book Two of The Academy of the Accord series, finishing Book Five of that series, and finishing Sanguine.

The current plan is to do 250 words on each one every day, using 750words. (It has a counter in the bottom corner.)

This will provide slow but steady progress on each of the three projects. And when I finish one (the scenes from Book Two shouldn’t take much longer) I can either increase the word count on the other two or add something else in to the rotation, like Book One of The Other Mages trilogy.

(That won’t be all I do: I will work on them outside of 750, but it will keep me working on all of them.)

There will, of course, be days when 750 is used for ranting or plotting. I know that and I’m not setting myself up for failure by trying to promises that I will always use it for the 250x250x250, but mostly I think it will.

Will this work?  I’m not sure. I have yet to find a rotation schedule for counted cross stitch that works for me, but I am more committed (addicted) to writing than I am cross stitch, so maybe.  And I’m on a 970-something streak of daily writing with 750words, so that’s promising.

At any rate, it can’t hurt to try.


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Yet another new plan…

I’ve been doing more stitching than writing this week.  Procrastination? Maybe. But at least it was something creative and productive, which is more than I can say for my writing for the last month.

I’ll admit it.  I’ve been avoiding my novel.  I have been struggling with it for over a month, and every time I thought that I had indentified and solved the problem I was just slightly off the mark.

But this time away from trying to force out words gave me a new perspective on things, and a realization that just because Senzu is the main character, in that she is central to the story:  it pretty much revolves around her – her struggles to fit in, an attempt made on her life, etc.

But most of my problem has come from trying to write from her perspective or POV. (Point of View)  Oh, I can manage it for a little while in a few places, but for the most part my writing seems to go better if I’m writing from the adults’ POV.

And since the book starts with the adults, it makes sense to stay with them most of the time.  The problem seems to be that I’m trying to interfere with the natural flow of the story. And that is leading me to tell, not show.

This time away from writing was also recharging.  Re-energizing. I think I’m ready to tackle it again.  I know I’m feeling less overwhelmed.

Sometimes the best cure for writer’s block is to step away for a bit.

So, I’m going to go back to what was working before I changed what I was doing right.  It may create a bit of additional mess in the edit/rewrite phase, but you know what?  That’s okay.  Because I can’t edit and fix what isn’t written, and this new insight should at least get it written.

I hope.

So, batteries recharged, a new (old) strategy in place – I foresee a good writing weekend coming up.  And maybe an actual finish to this story so that I can go on to the next, as I’m already way behind in my schedule for the year.  (“I love deadlines.  I especially love the whooshing sound they make as they go by.”)

Find out on Monday how it went…








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I Have Decided…

that I need to hire someone to make decisions for me.

Seriously.  I hate making decisions, especially if they involve other people because no matter what you decide someone is going to not be happy.  (This even applies to “Where do you want to go for lunch?”  How can such a seemingly innocuous question lead to a thirty minute debate and no lunch?)

I don’t even like making decisions that only involve myself because what if I make the wrong one?  I’ve been in that situation for the last couple of weeks and it finally came to a head on Friday, with a final decision reached on Saturday.  Was it the right one?  Only time will tell, but I am feeling a lot less stressed now that a decision has been made.

One of the main differences between real life and novels is that real life can’t be edited:  once you’ve made a decision, you are stuck with it, for better or worse.  At least in writing you can edit and delete and rewrite it to get the ending that you want.

But decision-making… Yeah, I hate it.  Even in novel writing. And, let me tell you, in most definitely affects my writing!

I hate naming novels.  This is especially bad as I’m working on a 12 book series and a trilogy.  That’s 15 titles that I need to come up with.  (I should start a pool on how many times I change my mind on the titles.)  Working titles are one thing, but the final title, the final decision?  You’d think a life depended on it!

Another problem is that many of my novels have multiple versions of the same scene: this is going to be a major pain when it comes time to edit.  (Yes! I am looking at you, Book Two of the Academy of the Accord series!  I have completely lost count of how many versions I have of the scene where Wellhym’s secret comes out.)

Lack of decision making ability also makes it hard to decide what to write. (I’m currently heavily focused on finishing rough drafts off all the books in the Academy of the Accord series, which makes this one not quite so bad at the moment, but once those books are done I’m in trouble!)  This problem once led me to write two books in one month for NaNoWriMo… not the sanest thing I’ve ever done, although it was fun in a twisted and demented sort of way.

And then there are the Sunday Snippets.  I really enjoy doing them and reading what others have posted, but trying to decide what to post is not as easy as some of the participants make it seem.

Editing, of course, is its own decision-making nightmare.  Move this scene or leave it where it is?  Cut it out completely?  Does it really serve a purpose?  Who would be the best character to say/do this?  When should XYZ be revealed?

I have the same problem in other hobbies as well.  Deciding on wallpaper for a dollhouse?  Decorating a real house would be easier!  And don’t get me started on deciding on floss and fabric colors for counted cross stitch.  I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve started the butterfly by Alessandra Adelaide only to change my mind on the fabric or floss or both.

AAN butterfly


They’re everywhere.

And they never get any easier.


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