Q1 2020

The first quarter of 2020 has come to close. So how'd we do? Here's the rundown on writing stats:

206,450 words written
8 submissions
6 acceptances

I'm counting both new and revised words here. In January, my focal project was an urban fantasy novel drafted during 2019's NaNoWriMo. While re-reading the first draft was far less painful than anticipated, there's still a lot that needs to be done to complete that book. My husband once told me my early drafts are like khrushchyovka apartment blocks: not a single superfluous brick to be found but also devoid of the trimmings that make architecture interesting. I'm good at winnowing a narrative down to the most essential characters and plot-points, but sometimes, I'm a little too aggressive with my editing. This month, I'll be returning to the project for the third draft and look forward to going as far as possible in the opposite direction, dropping in everything plus the cosmic kitchen sink.

In February and March, my focal projects were both dark romance novels that went far beyond what I've been reading in the subgenre. Most dark romances focus on kidnapping and human trafficking. The whole sold to pay off her family's debt to a billionaire playboy! or kidnapped at a gas station by a ruggedly handsome stranger! sitch. I'm far more interested in hybristophilia, an attraction to murderers and other dangerous men. Again, my husband's been responsible for keeping me on the straight-and-narrow, reminding me that while we can write a homicidal love story, we need to make sure that the romantic interest is safe and sane enough to be attractive. I've crafted one couple that I'm absolutely crazy about (almost as crazy as they are, the little psychopaths), and I'm in the process of workshopping another.

I try to have three works-in-progress on my desktop at any given time: a novel for revision, a novel for drafting, and a short story. I spent November-January working exclusively on that urban fantasy novel, and by the time I'd wrapped up the second draft, I never wanted to see any of those characters again. Recently, I've been working on some Lovecraftian short stories, which have naturally led me back to that project. I want to rekindle the flame with my eldritch abominations! (I also tend to read three books at the same time: an audiobook for the road, a print book, and an anthology of short stories. What can I say? I have the attention span of a goldfish.)

In terms of acceptances, there's been plenty of good news during Q1! Four of my drabbles were accepted to Black Hare Press' Oceans: Dark Drabbles #9: "Qalupalik", "Cold Shower", "The Breathing Hole", and "Qalupalik Part 2". All of the drabbles were inspired by the Inuit legend of the Qalupalik, a monster that steals children and swims away with them under the ice. I frequently use drabbles/short stories as a testing ground for longer works. I really enjoyed writing about the Qalupalik, so you may see a longer romantic short story evolving with these characters (local girl and tourist boy-turned-monster) later this year.

My short story, "Dating in Murderville", was accepted to Eerie River Publishing's It Calls from the Forest: Volume 2. I was so nervous to apply for this one! I've read a lot of Eerie River's previous work, and it's some of the highest-quality on the market. Getting an acceptance was nothing short of a dream-come-true. "Dating in Murderville" is a tongue-in-cheek romantic horror about a YouTuber who hosts a channel that she describes as "The Bachelorette meets My Favorite Murder." It's all kinds of f***ed up, and I had a complete blast writing it. There will definitely be more of Darby and Finn in my future.

One of my all-time favorite flash fiction stories, "A Good Ranch-Hand", was accepted to Blood Song Books' Harvest. You know how I said short stories are testing grounds for longer works? I wrote this submission and then immediately followed it up by writing a full-length dark romance novel about these two characters: the farm-girl from the Texas Panhandle and the serial killer who breaks into her ranch one night. I'm so glad that Bailey and Lauriston found their first home with such a fantastic publisher.

So what are my goals for Q2?

1. Continue writing/revising 50,000 words a month. I've been able to reach this goal every month since NaNoWriMo, and having a daily word count (2,000) has really kept me accountable and helped me develop a strong writing habit.

2. Revise my urban fantasy and dark romance novels. These are the two projects I really want to focus on in 2020. I'm currently a member of the New Writers' Scheme with the Romance Novelists Association. I'm going to submit one of these manuscripts for critique. Probably the urban fantasy one. While I love chatting with the ladies on the RNA Facebook group, they mostly write Regency romances and contemporary Mills & Boon books. (Both genres that I love reading but would never ever be able to write!) I don't know if they would be receptive to a serial killer love story.

3. Submit nine short stories to anthologies. I already have an entire folder of drafts completed; I just need to read them out loud to my husband (the best editor of them all) and let them simmer for a few more days/weeks. We have all kinds of works coming down the pipeline: horror, fantasy, science-fiction, even some erotica. But they all stay true to my mission statement: She F***s Monsters.


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