Thursday, June 29, 2017

When It Rains, It Pours

Recently it seems that no matter what direction I am working to make strides in all I am really doing is taking away from somewhere else. I need to work as much as possible in order to stay on top of my bills. I have been getting more hours which is exactly what I need but somehow the bills just keep piling up. I feel like I am making headway with some and then a new one will appear putting me right back in the same position I was before.

I am even debating taking on another job. Freelance writing, work from home bookkeeping, even going back to deal at a second casino again are all possibilities I need to consider. However pushing my body that hard, especially the two casinos thing, has always led to major medical episodes which would in turn mean less hours and more bills. It is a n unfortunate catch 22. All of this creates a huge source of stress in my day.

I have three main ways I deal with stress, two are healthy while one simply exacerbates the issue. The  unhealthy way is that I am an emotional eater. Whether I am happy, sad, frustrated, celebrating, depressed or handling any other emotion my go to way to deal with it is to eat. Of course emotional eating is never a salad or grilled chicken breast, no emotional eating is sitting down with a carton of ice cream and a spoon then eating until you physically can't anymore or there is nothing left in the container. Sadly that is something I have done many times. I am working to do the other two instead.

The first health way I have of handling stress is to exercise. When I feel the anxiety building up I go swim laps, run on the gym track or take a class. I also try to motivate myself into taking classes in the mornings before work just to keep me moving forward. The second coping strategy is writing. Here again I find a conundrum.

I love taking a solid day at the coffee shop to write. I can get five or six thousand words written in a project that is flowing well. I can even get home in time to get a few chores done and make dinner. I am only able to do that during the week though because I spend time with my boyfriend when we are both off on the weekends. With the extra days I am working all being weekdays it makes it more difficult to get the writing done. I can get stalled and not accomplish anything for a week so I lose my momentum.

Now on top of everything else I am going crazy because my sweet kitty is very sick. I have four cats (yes I know it's a lot and I call them my crazy cat lady starter kit) and they are all seniors. The youngest is ten years old. She is the one I am closest too and the one that is struggling. Vets don't generally offer much beyond maintenance for senior cats and make every suggestion with the phrase "it all depends on how much you want to put her through". I am not prepared to be that much of an adult yet. I cannot make a decision that would take away my beautiful girl.

Bills are showing up from her treatments. I find myself worrying so much I don't sleep. When I can't sleep I can't wake up to go work out and I have to work so I cannot lose myself in my fictional world. I spend my one day off catching up on bills and cleaning so I can try to enjoy the weekend even though I have no money to do anything and all I want is just a way to get on top of things for awhile. Sometimes no matter how hard you push, there are elements at work you cannot overcome. Right now the rain and hail have found me but I will just keep fighting until the sunny days and time to write are back. Until then I would appreciate the use of an umbrella.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Why Not Write Something Happier?

In January I presented the first ten pages of two different books at a conference. I knew neither was completely ready but I wanted to get the feedback and face my extreme fear of speaking with agents face to face. One of the books was Sharing Strength, my book on PTSD. Obviously with the subject matter it is not a light and breezy book. There are intense moments, sad ones and some happy ones as well. Most of all there are times of healing. It is a book about recovery first and foremost.

Each character plays their role. Some have the support they need, others are praying for help. Some seem hopelessly doomed and others hide from those wishing to assist. I have known people in every aspect of what the characters are experiencing and the book is very personal for me. It is so personal, in fact, that when the books was still being written I took a sidestep to Survivor and shared a part of my past I buried for nearly half my life.

I am currently working on another book like Survivor called Fish. It is the story of another character in Sharing Strength and her story is just as tragic. It is understandable that any story that leads to a book about PTSD isn't going to be the happiest thing ever written but some of these revelations are especially emotional. When I was discussing this fact at a networking dinner one of the other writers looked me in the eye and asked, "Why don;t you just write something happier?"

He had attended the conference before and even won an Editor's Choice award the last day I was there. He writes everyday and felt the need to constantly tell me how I should be working, what I should be writing and how to move forward correctly. I temperamental, teenage type mind wanted to lash out and tell him to shut up. I don't write everyday, I can admit that. I make excuses and watch television instead of reading or writing. I go to the gym or camp for the weekend when I have time off. There are several things I do instead of writing. I am also not ashamed of this.

Everyone has their own process. I would love to get to the point where I am writing everyday, or at least five days a week as though it were a traditional job. Family will always be an important and I will always have things that get in the way of writing. Sometimes it is simply the emotions I am having to deal with because I don't write happier things. No matter what I will push forward and hopefully someday I will have more time to dedicate. Until then I am happy writing things that aren't and will continue to improve my personal process instead of feeling bad about my topics and the fact I don't work the way others think I should.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

First Day

Today is the Summer Solstice, aka first day of summer. I live in the burning dry heat sauna that is Las Vegas so we have been experiencing the weather of summer for weeks already but I am looking at the first day as more symbolic. I have been struggling with stress and depression for the past week and a half or so. Between medical problems, missing my dad as I near the ten year mark since he passed away, and of course writing realizations, I have been moping. I hate that I get to that point but it just hasn't been something I could power through.

This morning I woke up after having dreamt about my dad. I am still sad but spending that time with him, even just in my mind, brought a tiny semblance of peace. The medical concerns I am working to overcome and have a plan now to move forward. As for writing, I cannot change the past so being angry with myself about things I failed to do is not going to help. Instead I need to just look  to the future and try not to let those same issues come up again.

I am writing two books simultaneously, Fish, and Last Piece. They are completely different genres but both are flowing well. I also have about half a dozen other books that have already been written and just need to be edited and rewritten. It is a battle even I can barely understand to edit and rewrite once I finish the first draft of a book. I am going to finish Last Piece, and Fish, before I move on to editing but I am determined to get at least half of the previously completed drafts ready for cover and editing before the end of the year.

I have been struggling because I felt stagnant. As it turns out, I was feeling that way because I wasn't taking any of my books and doing anything with them. The process of editing, rewriting, editing again, designing a cover, formatting, publishing (or sending queries and submitting) then of course marketing the book can be extremely overwhelming. The alternative for a writer is to just draft and never get the satisfaction of sharing your work. The feeling of seeing both of my books go live on Amazon, then the moment of holding the paperback copies in my hands have been some of the most exciting in my life. I always call my manager (my mom) and share those moments with her.

I am taking this symbolic first day and the first day of a season I will accomplish my writing to do list and get back to that feeling of being a happy writer moving forward. I will finish both Fish, and Last Piece, then I will edit and start the next phases of at least three of my other projects while getting ready for Nanowrimo. I am excited to feel productive again.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Opening Scenes

The wonderful K.M. Weiland posted recently that one way to know you're a writer is how much you obsess over your opening to your book. It is also something I talked to my mom about recently. I love writing but I feel as though I always want to start around chapter five. I struggle to hook the reader and draw them in then create the foundation for that big event that ignites the rest of the story. It is always that moment I can't wait to get to as I am writing because then it feels to me like the adventure truly begins.

When I read or write murder mysteries the death happens almost immediately but for some of my other dramas there are a few chapters that come in to set the tone, introduce the characters and their relationship before any inciting incident comes into play. For those books it is important but difficult for me to draw the readers in, make them care, then bring them on the journey of those characters as the real story begins.

When I sent the first ten pages of two of my stories to agents / editors at the conference earlier this year I was excited to get their feedback. I was curious about my ability to make them want to know more based on just those first few pages. Both people I sent them to asked me for more information but only one in a good way. The editor I sent Voices In My Head to suggested getting rid of the majority of the first ten pages. He gave me some ideas for improving the parts that were left but just as my mind wants to do, he suggested I start further into the story.

The second agent liked the story beginning. Her suggestion was more on point of view for the characters because there are so many main characters in the story. Just like there are a number of characters, there are just as many reasons that all the characters have ended up being who and what they are. I completed the first full draft and am now writing novellas for each of the characters to give the more in depth backgrounds.

I write my stories then go back and rewrite the beginning at least five times before I give up and call it good enough. The end is always on my mind. The characters talk to me constantly but there is something that holds me back when it comes to that opening scene. I am working to get better but, along with dialogue, it continues to be one of the biggest battles I have in my writing.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Living In My Mind

I saw a post earlier today talking about how the writer has found trouble being present for life when not writing. The constant thoughts, the perpetual wondering about plot lines, and the endless stream of distractions all originating from within make it hard to be there for conversations, focus on work, or even just enjoy time with friends and family. I haven't ever thought about it much but once I read through the post I realized how difficult I find many of these same tasks.

I am a casino games dealer in my everyday life so I am in contact with people constantly. There are times I have noticed though, that when I have players who either don't speak English or just prefer not to chat with me I will find my mind drifting off to whatever my most recent writing project had been. The dealing procedures are second nature so There are times I will go through an entire hour on the table but when I leave to go on break my boss will ask me a question about a player I barely remember being there.

I also deal a few games that are a combination of table games and slot machines where the dealer does not interact with the players so it is eight hours of thinking. When I get on break I find it difficult to join the conversations with my coworkers because I spent the last hour mentally living in the world of my characters. Even at home the conversations can be hard to follow because I need to bring myself back from wherever I travelled in my head. I will look right at the person I am speaking with but it seems I have to ask people to repeat themselves so I can focus on what they just told me.

I lose track of time frequently when I start thinking about anything writing related. Driving is another task I notice writing can take over. When I went down to the writer's conference in January I was tired but in order to cover as much distance as possible I put on music. The songs that came on instantly inspired a new story which I then spent the rest of the drive plotting. Other than stopping for a quick nap and navigating some intense weather I barely noticed anything besides the plot outline forming in my head. I have since added the file for that book to my pile in my office. There are almost two dozen files in the pile, most of which were created while I was supposed to be doing something else. I may need to find a way to curb this mental tendency in the future.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Father's Day

I share about my boyfriend and my mom quite a bit when I blog. They are both active in my life as friends and support. Both have been involved and encouraged me for the time they have been a part of my life. I don't know where I would be without them. It is easy to see why I call them my partner / management team. The truth, however, is that there are others on that team and one is a person I rarely mention, my dad.

Growing up I had a tenuous relationship with my father. We loved each other but we butted heads at least weekly. He expected a great deal from me. I was fully capable of fulfilling that potential and achieving the things he asked of me but I didn't bother to try very often. I played sports but didn't want to put in the effort of practicing to be any better than I was naturally. I could have done well but didn't care enough. He wanted me to get good grades. I was smart yet I was too distracted / lazy to complete my homework often enough to get the grades he desired.

He never asked about my writing or creative endeavors. My dance recitals seemed to be nothing beyond an obligation when he attended. The one thing that never escaped my attention however, he did attend. He came to every performance I had. He only missed one of my hockey games in almost a decade and made it up to me by taking me to see a real hockey game that night. On a few occasions I would see him watching old VHS tapes of my recitals and smiling. He never knew I knew but I even caught him leafing through some of my short stories and poems, He was proud of me.

I lived to make him proud. No matter what I did, how much we fought, I always wanted to make him proud. I cried the day I finally graduated college. I broke down the day I held a copy of my first book in my hands. I even dreamt about telling him why I wrote Survivor the night before the release party. He left to watch over me from heaven almost ten years ago and not being able to share these things with him has always broken my heart a little. I know he is still watching me. I am sure he is still proud and on today, Father's Day, I am battling how much I miss him. He will never sit down and read the words I have written here but I hope he always knows how much I love him and thank him for being an inspiration to finally achieve the things he knew I was capable of.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017


Last week I sat with a friend drinking coffee and discussing our different writing styles. He began by writing short stories then eventually progressed to full length novels. Once he had completed his first full novel he found there was much more ahead for the characters and the book instead became a four book series. Now all he writes are series with a few short stories in between. He assumed everyone followed this same pattern of short to long and once they got to long they discovered the books are so much more.

I was the opposite to a point. Yes I wrote poetry (bad poetry I admit) when I was in elementary school and a few attempts through junior high and high school. I wrote a couple essay length stories during that same era but for the most part I have always been a full length writer. Nanowrimo gave me the challenge I needed in order to get going and I haven't looked back. It wasn't until this year that, as an adult, I had anything to do with short stories.

I entered the NYC Midnight Short Story Contest, something I am hoping to do again in the coming years. It was difficult on so many levels I almost gave up immediately. The way it works is everyone that registers is put into a group. That group is assigned a genre, character and theme. Mine was a Stay At Home Mom, A Wrong Number, and Thriller. Once you have your assignment you have eight days to write, edit and polish, then submit it for consideration against the rest of your group. The top three move on to the next round where they will get new assignments and only three days to complete it. Each round the allotted words gets smaller as well.

Everyone that submits will get feedback, regardless of moving forward. I was attending a conference the first half of the competition. I had never written a thriller before so I was out my element right away. I managed to submit but it was right at the wire. I knew I wouldn't move forward from the moment I hit send and I was correct. I did, however, read through the feedback which was overall more positive than negative. The most difficult part for me was the word count. I kept seeing ways to expand, go further into detail, and inject description. I couldn't without going over the 2500 words though. As I wrote, then edited, then rewrote again I found the wording to be the challenge I had thought genre would have been.

I am still extremely wordy (as I am sure this post shows) but I am hoping to take part in more of the short story contests to try and expand my abilities. Being concise in writing is an art. I used to think it just meant people didn't know what to say or that they didn't believe in themselves enough to write a longer book. They are actually people with a stronger writing ability than I possess. To take someone on a journey in such a short about of time is incredible. Perhaps once day I will post one of my shorts here so you all can read what I am learning to achieve.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Celebrating Achievement

Today was a barbecue at my house. As a general rule this fact is neither writing related nor very interesting news however, because it was a themed barbecue in honor of a wonderful achievement, it got me thinking. Today was a celebration and it is important to make sure to take time in your life to recognize accomplishments.

I posted a few times in the last month about my support for my boyfriend and his journey across the country in honor of POW / MIA military members. Today the barbecue was to welcome him and other riders back home. Going all the way back to the Vietnam war, and in some respects even before, many of the military returned to more hostility than welcoming arms. They rarely, if ever, heard Welcome Home so those that take part in the ride Run For The Wall each year are constantly greeting each other with the phrase Welcome Home.

Today I had a sign up at the house that said Welcome Home. It is the same sign I welcomed him back with last week. As I was preparing food over the last couple of days I thought about his ride and the emotions that were experienced by everyone from the riders to those that watched as they made their way across the country. It was a physical and emotional journey that was undoubtedly life changing.

I don't claim in any way that completing a fictional novel is in the same category of the ride he participated in but it is a journey nonetheless. Whenever I finish a book draft my boyfriend takes me out to celebrate with dinner or dessert of my choosing. It is a small tradition that means the world to me. Much like the barbecue was put on to show the riders our support and appreciation, his treating me to dinner is a special way to show me he cares and is proud of me.

Some people think you can only celebrate things like getting a publishing contract or a major ride across the country. To me the most important thing is the fact that you are acknowledging the accomplishment for what it is and showing that you care. Achievements may be different levels and the celebrations may be as well but as long as you take a moment and let the person know you are proud and care it can make all the difference in the world.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Writing Conversations

A few years ago I was awake late into the night working on a scene for one of my books. A friend noticed me online and messaged to ask why I was still awake at that hour. My response was, "He just won't die. He knows it is coming and refuses to cooperate. I am not going to sleep until he is finally dead." She didn't ask. She is also a writer. There was no strange silence or subtle changing of subjects as I proceeded to rant about the stubborn character I was working on killing. When I was done fuming she commiserated with me briefly then wished me luck as she headed off to bed herself.

A few days ago I was at my day job discussing a book I am working on and the interesting things I have noticed as I venture into a new genre. I am working on a murder mystery with a twist and I was excited because I was boiling over with ideas for the next part of the story so I couldn't wait to get home. What I actually said out loud was, "I can't wait to get out tonight so I can get home. I know exactly how the investigation is going to go now that I killed the lady."

The gentle easing away from me was more  felt than sen but it was noticeable either way. The guy I was sitting with sat a little straighter and said, "I'm sorry, what?" I explained that I was working on the investigation into the murder of an elderly woman and I was thrilled because I had so many ideas that I couldn't wait to get working on. He raised an eyebrow at me but said nothing. I realized as I felt the rest of the break room slide further away that they were not understanding things the way my writer groups would. So I clarified I was talking about characters in a book.

At once the room breathed a sigh of relief. It was comical to me the seriousness they had attached to my conversation even though they are well aware of my writing aspirations. I then got into a discussion about a character that dies in another book and the guy I had been speaking with told me she didn't have to die, I wasn't trying hard enough to save her. It is worth noting that he has no idea what the book is about or how she plays into the storyline. I took his comments with a grain of salt because not only does he not know the story but he also has never written more than a term paper in his life.

Writers might randomly say things like, "I can't find my encyclopedia of trial killers." and it simply means they are looking for a book for the purposes of research. Other writers will respond with either I hope you find it soon, or if they live close enough to one another perhaps, you can borrow mine. While writers, like any profession, understand each other on a level outsiders usually don't it is worth keeping in mind just how different we are sometimes. We say things the rest of the world may vastly misunderstand. Just be ready to explain when you are having a discussion involving your writing.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Reviving Old Ideas

Recently I was flipping through channels and came across a show I used to love, Scrubs. With my medical history I am far more understanding of the inner workings of a hospital than many I know which means I find anything that lightens that atmosphere to be refreshing.  I enjoy the gentle comedy as well as the underlying relationships that form between the characters. It had been years since the last time I saw the show and immediately started recording it on my DVR.

Watching the show after so long has been like catching up with old friends. I remember the episodes but it is fun to rematch them and see things I had forgotten or never noticed before. I noticed I feel that way as well when I start to work on an idea I either came up with then shelved or drafted but haven't looked at for awhile. It is sort of like coming home.

I recently sent off a short story I am considering pitching to a traditional publisher as a children's book. It is with a beta reader right now and I am waiting for feedback. It is beyond rough so there would be a great deal of work to polish it and have it ready to submit but I had that same feeling when I came across the file for the book. There was a welcoming feeling as I glanced over there words and it brought a smile to my face remembering the story.

There is a sad side to it as well. The story outline was originally discussed between me and another who has since left my life. I will dedicate the book in his memory whatever publishing path I eventually follow and I am indebted to him for his input during the brainstorming process. He was a friend and someone I will miss but I am honored he chose to share his ideas with me and help me come up with the story. He was even my first reader when I began to write it out. He gave feedback and put in ideas from time to time as I continued to develop the story. He was a great sounding board and I hope that once it is published those that knew him will be able to see the story he helped influence. Unfortunately I do not know his family or friends but I hope one day the story will reach them and help bring them closer with him.

Words have that incredible ability. Whether it is characters on a show, a children's book inspired by a friend or a story you have loved since you were little there is nothing like going back to them. Reviving those memories and giving them new life can be just as satisfying as developing new ideas.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Love And Passion

Before I even begin, no I am not writing a romance. There are romantic scenes in some of my books and human interaction is a huge part of the backstory of many of my characters but I have never centered a book around the idea of love and romance. I was, however, having a conversation today about passion, romance, and love. We were discussing the difference between perceptions of love and it got me thinking.

There is a huge difference between lying in bed with someone, saying "Oh my God, I love you baby!" as they bury themselves deep inside you sexually and lying in bed say "Oh my God, I love you baby!" while they wrap you in their arms. The first you can almost hear the moan. It might be passionate, it could be between two people deeply in love, it could also be between two people that met while drunk at a dance club and are caught up in the moment after they rushed to the closest hotel room and shed their clothes. The second feels more like a couple that has been together for awhile. Perhaps something happened and they came together to find a solution to a problem, maybe they just took a big step and got engaged or married. Either way it is touching, intimate, and in no way requires sex to make the feeling understood.

The conversation about the difference got me thinking about things I have read recently. A good author can "Show, not tell" when it comes to a characters emotions. They use the actions to explain the feelings, such as dancing back and forth from one foot to another to demonstrate a character is anxious. Eyes may dart around a room as a light sweat breaks out across a brow to indicate nerves or fear. There are many ways to use this technique. Things can also be left unsaid, which makes the actions that much more important. 

It is an area I have struggled with in the past. I am aware of the problem so I am using editing / rewriting techniques a wonderful agent I met taught me several months ago. I also try to hold on when I notice situations like this in real life, seeing those differences, and keep the feelings fresh in my heart and head until I can sit down to properly describe them. I am making my own notebook of emotions so I can remember what I did, said and thought when those feelings flooded over me. It is a work in progress but that conversation about love and passion certainly was eye opening.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Day 98 - A Little Fish

Fish is the second book in the Sharing Strength series. It features Rachel Morris, a sixteen year old swimming star from Clydesburg, Illinois. She is a smart girl that loves her family, friends and swimming. She was brought up in the church and would do anything to make her parents proud. However when she finds herself in a compromising position she is sure she can turn to those she has always supported for help.

After a nightmare of a party Rachel does her best to move on from the events of the evening. She tries to talk to her parents though they do nothing but look at her with disappointment. Her friends shun her and even the coach on her swim team gives her chills worse than the pool. She begins to feel desperate for someone to talk to so she finds her best friend and co-capitan of the swim team only to discover she is one of the worst people when looking for help.

Isolated and falling deeper into despair Rachel branches out, looking for therapists or anyone that will listen. Her parents won't pay for anything and suggest she go "confess her sins" no matter how hard she proclaims her innocence. No one will believe her. Her heart breaks as she fights what seems to be a never-ending battle for anyone that will believe her side of the story.

Can Rachel find her hero in time or will life simply overwhelm her? What will become of the girl known as Fish?

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Day 96 - Going Through Withdrawal

Last year I took part in a couple signings early in the year then filled in my summer months participating in craft shows. Unfortunately the craft shows proved to be less than ideal for authors. I did make a few sales here and there as well as had one of those moments where someone bought a book and took the time to contact me to let me know she truly enjoyed the story. Overall though it was not a great experience and ended up costing far more than I was able to earn. When I am able to get a few more books published and some merchandise created I may give it another shot but until then I don't think it is my best course.

This year I was excited to take part in more events. I thought I was on the right track when I got invited to be a part of signings at a couple of libraries, and then Authorpalooza came up earlier than last year. Things seemed to be off to a good start but now as I am working to push forward on my next group of projects I am feeling the pull to go to events and interact with readers. I know dedicated book events are best for being able to talk to readers as opposed to doing craft shows but at this point I am just wanting to be a part of things again.

It is like a strange form of social withdrawal and the only cure is to be a part of that environment. I am now researching events I can attend as well as continuing to write my books I have on tap for this year and even try to make progress on the design and inventory ordering of the merchandise I am creating. It is a slow process but I am sure I can get there if I can just stop feeling so scattered. Sometimes that is the most difficult part. When I have events to attend it helps keep me on track so I have enough books, bookmarks, swag and any other information needed to make each event special and successful.

People also ask from time to time, if they have seen you at more than one event, when the next book or books will be coming out. Because of that I need to make sure I am continuing to write as well as keep on top of my current books. There is a lot to do in order to make writing a viable business option, especially when you have a day job as well, but it is worth it. I just need to buckle down and make it happen. Right now I am off to find my next book event fix!

Friday, June 2, 2017

Day 95 - Changing Plans

About a month ago I was working to figure out a plan to keep me focused for the rest of the year along with the next few years. I knew my plan was ambitious to say the least but I was happy to have something I could work on, a list I could make my way down and cross things off as I accomplished them. There were items on there that involved keeping my blog updated (doing my best but I do miss days), completing writing projects including Breathe, the first of the Voices books edited and the second written, the third one drafted and the fourth outlined, edit Sharing Strength, doing the first of my new murder mystery books for Nanowrimo, and getting through my reading list.

In just the last few weeks this list has changed dramatically. Breathe has been worked on but the characters refuse to cooperate so they have been sent to the corner to think about what they did. The Voices books have been pushed to the back by books that decided to scream for attention louder. With Sharing Strength having a much better sense of direction when it comes to editing I was putting more effort into working on it and waking those characters up inspired Fish, Crash, and Combat to come to life. I had considered and previously rejected writing them but the characters woke up and shouted that they were ready to tell me their stories. They even gave me visuals of their covers making them seem more real.

Sharing Strength stayed on the list and I am still working to complete the edits so I can send it off to betas. Fish is in the process of being written, though like Survivor two years ago, it will be a challenge due to its emotional stirrings. I am prepared for the memories and emotions I will experience with this book more so than I was for Survivor but it will still take some time. Crash and Combat will also be emotional though they have more research than memory to raise issues.

I am still hoping to achieve my reading goals though I took longer off than I had originally expected so I am now woefully behind. I am still reading but I do not know if I will be able to finish my list before the end of the year. I am also still planning to complete the Nanowrimo part of my original to do list however it will no longer be the first murder mystery I write this year. My current project, being writing simultaneously with Fish, is also a murder mystery with a twist called The Last Piece. Sometimes writing is about being adaptable. You just need to be able to roll with the punches when the world forces you to change plans.