Writing Update, 1/10

How’s It Going?
I’ve been thinking about the thing that people do as an alternative to new year resolutions: picking a word or phrase to be a mantra for the year.

Other than setting ridiculous reading goals, I haven’t really done resolutions per se in a while. If I contemplate changes for the new year, I usually start around my birthday (mid-December) and try things out before we hit January. This December, I started doing three pages of journaling every morning followed by an hour of work—all before I fire up the internet. I’ve kept this up for the most part. So, my early favorite for 2018’s mantra has been “Steady.” I want to work steadily.

But this morning I was thinking about my relationship with Eric. When I graduated from college, I asked Eric to keep me honest with me writing efforts. We decided that I’d “turn in” pages every week. Those first pages became my first novel. While it’s never been easy to have someone read my pages, it feels like it used to be a lot more simple. I would just have him read; not a lot of choice in the matter. One of the things I learned in 2017 is that I had let my relationship with writing get unnecessarily complicated. (Complicated is different from complex. Complexity is fine. Complicated implies…complications.) I’m still letting it be that way, but it doesn’t need to be that way. So, I think my mantra for the year (if I should so desire to have one) will be “Steady & Simple.”


“And you, miss?” He pointed at Charlotte.

Her face flushed, to Billy’s surprise. He had been fairly certain that there was nothing that could embarrass Charlotte.

“Seven of diamonds,” she said loud enough to be heard on stage.

Joseffy raised his eyebrows. “A very rich card. Beware, sir,” he said to Billy, “your lady might know some magic as well, namely how to make wallets disappear.”

The audience laughed.

“You don’t know the half of it,” Billy said, and even the magician chuckled.

“The lady chose the seven of diamonds,” Joseffy reiterated.

He pulled the silk handkerchief off the card holder. It had disappeared and in its stead was a small vase with a brilliant red rose in it. The magician frowned. A fake frown, he had known absolutely that the rose would be there, but the audience hadn’t known. They were dutifully amazed and tittered at the conjurer’s discomfort. Making the best of it, Joseffy plucked the rose from the vase. He walked up the aisle and presented it to Charlotte.

“My apologies, miss, your card seemed to have gone astray.”

The rose appeared real, fresh, and only recently cut. Charlotte practically buried her nose in it.

“Ah, there it is.” Joseffy reached toward Charlotte’s hair and seemed to pluck the card from behind the pins that supported her curls.

About This WIP
One Ahead is a series of mystery novellas focusing on David P. Abbott, a magician who lived in Omaha, NE at the beginning of the 20th century. Aside from being an accomplished magician, David Abbott was a debunker of fraudulent mediumistic practices. I’ll be delving into the history of Omaha in 1915 as well as visiting some of the magicians, mediums, and skeptics that lived in that era.


2017 Wrap-Up

Top 10 Books of 2017

(in order read, not including rereads):

  1. Moby-Dick by Herman Melville
  2. The Time Machine by H. G. Wells
  3. The Island of Dr. Moreau by H. G. Wells
  4. Wicked Wonders by Ellen Klages
  5. The Janus Tree by Glen Hirshberg
  6. Adelaide Herrmann, Queen of Magic by Adelaide Herrmann
  7. “The Ballad of Black Tom” by Victor LaValle
  8. Through the Woods by Emily Carroll
  9. The Overneath by Peter S. Beagle
  10. The Ramshead Algorithm and Other Stories by K. J. Kabza

Three classics, four collections of short stories, a novella, a graphic novel, and one nonfiction title (a memoir!).  That’s a slightly different break-down than usual.


# Books Read: 41
Average Rating: 3.4/5
Fiction/Nonfiction: 76%/24%
Rereads: 7%

# Short Stories Read*: 110
*This doesn’t include anthologies and collections NOT read for Deal Me In.
Average Rating: 3.22/5
Rereads: 5%

Writing Update, 12/13

What Am I Working On?
Spent time last week going back over my research notes and realized that an event occurred much earlier in 1915 than I remembered. Therefore, One Ahead #3 needs to be rejiggered. That’s okay; I haven’t been super happy with it anyway. I plan on having a conversation with Eric about it tomorrow.


The Reverend Franklin A. Thomas was a tall man, but he reminded Abbott of Harry Houdini. Both were athletic men, well-built, and extreme in their habits. Rev. Thomas, like Houdini, was an affirmed teetotaler. Lenore Post, Thomas’s secretary, always kept a pot of coffee simmering, but not a drop was taken by her employer. Thomas was even moderate when it came to tobacco.

The differences between the magician and the clergyman were striking as well, beyond the five inches of height. Houdini had given up on Spiritualism years ago and with very good reason. There was scant evidence that mediums were anything but frauds. Rev. Thomas, on the other hand, believed that there was truth in his flavor of the spiritualist religion. But it was in manner, mostly, that Abbott saw the similarity between Rev. Thomas and the world’s most popular doubting magician. They were both zealous men, never shy with their views and tenacious in their aims.

About This WIP
One Ahead is a series of mystery novellas focusing on David P. Abbott, a magician who lived in Omaha, NE at the beginning of the 20th century. Aside from being an accomplished magician, David Abbott was a debunker of fraudulent mediumistic practices. I’ll be delving into the history of Omaha in 1915 as well as visiting some of the magicians, mediums, and skeptics that lived in that era.


NaNoWriMo 2017 ~ Wrap-Up

My goal in November was to put aside Wicked Witch, Retired for a while get a grip on my One Ahead project. One Ahead is a series of short novella mysteries—what I’ve decided is probably the best form for the David Abbott stories I want to tell. My goal is to have three stories finished before I publish them. During November, I wanted to see just how much work I had left on this and actually, you know, do work.

Here’s what I did in November:

  • I reread the first story. It’s in pretty good shape. It still needs line editing.
  • Rewrote the second story. There are still a few things that need to be cleaned up and maybe a stronger bit of “B” plot to be added, but I think the bones are good.
  • Gathered bits I had written at other points in time and have added them to an incomplete plot framework for the third story. If that sounds particularly Frankensteiny, you’re not wrong. I didn’t get as far as I should have.

Word-count wise, not a strong month. I was taking 1/25 of word count for rereading, 1/5 of word count for rewriting, 1/1 of word count for writing new words and only managed a 9344 words. …That’s a long way from 50K. There was a lot of rewriting, something which I am very slow at doing, even if it’s actual word-for-word transcription. There are definitely weeks when I could have gotten more done.

I had planned to go back to WWR, but I have some momentum and renewed excitement about One Ahead. My reading schedule for the next month or more is pretty magic heavy as well.

Pinned: December 2017 TBR

So, here we are. The end is nigh. I’ve stuck with only three year-long challenges: Deal Me In, Shelf Maintenance, and the Goodreads Reading Challenge. I’ve kept up with Deal Me In though I haven’t always posted. Shelf Maintenance is the reckoning of my purchases—I always need to read more of what I’ve bought. And my 40 book goal for 2017*:

As of 11/26/17

Seven books. Five weeks.

Continue reading “Pinned: December 2017 TBR”

NaNoWriMo 2017 – Prep Post #1

Publicly declaring goals is often not a good thing for me (no, really), but I do like making lists of things that I need/want to get done. This is that.

Things to get done before Nov. 1st:

  • Finish a draft of Wicked Witch, Retired. I’m talking a super rough draft. A NaNoWriMo level of quality of draft.
  • Finish reading/editing/formatting pass on Eric’s SUPErViLLaINS.
  • Read through my Abbott notes. Maybe have an idea for the third story.

And if you want to find me at the NaNo site, I’m katen.

Writing Update, 10/11

Wicked Witch, Retired
Ended up spending all of last week on rewrites. Didn’t really intend for it to take that long, but that’s how it fell out between the last of the hard drive drama and not feeling well. This week, I’ve added words. The manuscript is over the 60K mark.

Abbott stories
Had a few days off of PHYSIC work and started reading through the first of the One Ahead stories, “The Case of the Sorrowful Seamstress.” Still haven’t decided whether I’m going to do anything special for NaNoWriMo. I’m firmly on the fence, but I *have* added my info to the NaNo page. Surprised that my first stab at Abbott was five years ago. What have I been doing with myself? (Don’t answer that…)