No Rush, But Done Now

Don't try to rush things that need time to grow. @ForSelfSuccessIt was the week that felt like a year. It started very well with an intimate evening of music, listening to Eddie Jobson and Marc Bonilla pay tribute to prog rock greats John Wetton and Keith Emerson by telling stories about them and interpreting their songs rather impressively for a two-person gig. An actual date night with hubs, so one of my weekly goals met immediately in an environment entirely conducive to getting the creative juices flowing.

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By Wednesday, though, the cold I thought I was getting over morphed into laryngitis with a burning sore throat. So I spent two days sleeping. Thursday, I began panicking: I had four days to write 7K words to meet my editor’s deadline. Thursday night, I managed 400. Friday night, I reconnected with my #wordmongering buddy and managed 1,810 words. It was the first time I’d been that productive since I’d begun my MBA in September 2012. Last night… I blew that effort out of the water and wrote 3,052 words. I woke up this morning knowing that I could finish the story I’ve been promising my readers for at least four years.

I did it.

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The story only needed another 1,393 words to reach its end, and then there was much rejoicing. I’ve had finishing Fire to Dragon as a ROW80 goal for longer than I care to admit. I did a cover reveal for it almost exactly two years ago. The second book in the series came out in March of 2013, so it’s taken more than four years of teeth-gnashing to get myself to a completed manuscript.

I’ll tease you with the page I had open to spur on my creativity to blast through the final stretch.

(Pro tip: Finish what you start when you start it, and don’t go chasing after plot bunnies. I’ve released five other stories in the interim.)

That I would manage to finish on Mother’s Day, when a component of the transformation Anne undergoes includes becoming a mother, is bittersweet to me. (It’s not a coincidence that the three Russian dragons she meets have the initials IVF.) I ran across a reference to artist Martin Hudรกฤek, a Slovakian who created a memorial to the child who was never born. It blew the scab off of my recent sorrow, and reinforced the irony that the woman who campaigned for the creation of the holiday died hating how commercialized it had become.

On the other end of that spectrum, I learned about Brene Brown this week, and the quote from her book: “We are the brave and brokenhearted. We are rising strong.”

Which leads me directly to an article hubs shared about the current American psychiatric dogma that labels anti-authoritarian folks as mentally ill. It makes a lot of sense when you consider how hard it is to follow a herd when there’s an outlying voice drawing your attention away from the common conclusions of your society. So I’ll pour fuel on that fire and point you to a link that helps you submit a comment to the FCC to advocate for a free and open Internet.

For my final weekly goal, I still kept my average daily step count over 3K–despite two days of barely leaving my bed. It’s a testament to how much Tashie has improved that she races out the door with as much enthusiasm as the two younger ones these days, and has the stamina to keep going for well over a mile. On one of our walks this week, we learned that one of our neighbors is originally from Tibet. When she heard me calling Tashie’s name (because Tashie was DETERMINED to be the family ambassador and meet this lady!), she told me that in Tibetan, Tashie means “joy”. A nice congruence for how much happiness she brings our family.

I’m at such loose ends having completed my major goal for this round I’m almost light-headed. I’m not sure which project I’ll pick up next, either. (If you want to vote, I have an idea for another in the Katarr universe; I have the trilogy that builds on Wytchfire; I have the option of a follow-on to Dementional; or even follow-ons to The Builders; or a story based on a dream about sentient caves that needed humans to give voice to their needs; or some more nebulous, entirely new ideas…) This week, though, I think I’ll give myself space to breathe. We’re talking about a date night to go see Guardians of the Galaxy 2, which has me entirely too excited. I have a number of big deadlines at the office, though, too, so it will be good not to be worrying about personal deadlines for once. In the meantime, here’s the link to the rest of the ROW80 crew. I’ll be back next week to let you know if I’ve come to any decisions.

Dragon’s Pursuit Cover Reveal

As I mentioned in a post in January, I have signed up to be one of the authors participating in the Hotel Paranormal series. This week, I got the final version of the cover for my book. I’m so stoked I can hardly contain myself, so I wanted to share it with you:

Hotel Paranormal: Dragon's Pursuit, by Tonya Cannariato

The story is slated for release in early January, so it’s along way off–and I need to finish the Red Slaves trilogy that inspires the events in the story, too. It will be a stand-alone spin-off about one of the next-generation dragon shifters that I’ve already half plotted. I’m looking forward to writing the story, and with such a glorious cover to help me keep my eyes on the prize, it should be an easy one to write.

Cover Reveal: Fire to Dragon

Those of you who follow this blog will know by now that I’ve been struggling to find time and momentum to finish the third book in my first trilogy. Today, I’m pleased to reveal that the lovely, patient (!), and multi-talented Gayla Drummond has recast the covers of the entire series and given me new impetus to complete what I’ve started.

Behold, book 3 of Red Slaves:

Fire to Dragon

I still have work to do to finish the book itself–and doing so will have to wait until I’m past my studying requirements for the PMP–but this gives me something solid to act as both spur and reminder for my goals.

Part of the issue that brought us to this point: I had started by choosing photo-real images for a fantasy novel set in a place well-known to a certain segment of the global population. As the story evolves over the course of the series, that setting becomes harder and harder to represent in photographs and remain true to the patterns we had established with the first two covers. So we had to rethink the whole series at once. Here’s what that looks like:

Red Slaves Trilogy

With my current time commitments, I won’t be able to release the 2nd edition versions of books 1 & 2 until July/August, but with the New Pretties… I certainly have the inspiration to push me past the finish line. ๐Ÿ™‚

Working Hard

"Working hard for something we don't care about is called stress. Working hard for something we love is called passion."When I set my goals last week, I worried whether I’d manage the 500-word bar but didn’t think I’d have a problem with the walking or the at-home date night. It’s interesting to see that even with the major headache of nightly course work and weekly papers off my plate, life still has a way of adjusting the goals and priority we set for ourselves. In my case, I’m now at 26,431 words on Fire to Dragon, so managed all but 70 of the words in my goal.

The weather, on the other hand, offered us snow and ice and Wisconsin-like temperatures, so while we still walked the dogs, we were lucky if it was a mile each day. With the prediction for freezing rain tonight, that’s likely to persist a few more days, because it really is surprising the number of people who don’t shovel in Virginia… making for a scary number of icy sidewalk hazards for those of us trying to stay fit.

The other big miss was the other one I’d thought easy: A stay-at-home date night. When I get home at 7, and it’s dinner time, then writing time, that doesn’t leave much time for cuddling in front of a show or movie. On the other hand, we did celebrate my brother’s birthday at an entertaining Teppanyaki restaurant, so left our furbabies at home alone for the longest stretch yet. Apparently two hours apart means KouKi is shrieking and frantic by the time she sees us again–though she didn’t destroy her crate or anything in it, so maybe, eventually, she’ll be as chill as Santino was about the experience. I hope so, because Natasha was at the other end of the house to stay away from the racket, and I hate to see a puppy that upset.

Of course, it couldn’t have helped that we discovered Friday that she had a major infestation of roundworms. Those parasites could explain the issues we’ve had with diarrhea from her, though it seems, too, we caught it early enough that her growth and general vitality has not been significantly impacted. She’s already at 22.5 pounds and still playing daily. Regardless, I had the gut-churning “joy” of receiving a text from hubs with pictorial evidence that the medication was working. All I will say, for those of you with visual memories of Star Wars, episode 6 (version 1!), is … Sarlacc pit. </gag> We’ll find out whether she needs another round of treatment next week, and are planning on getting the other two tested as well, since, as the vet said, this is an environmental hazard here.

Odd that in almost two decades of dog ownership, though, this is the first we’ve run across the issue, given the wide geographic range we’ve lived in. It looks like I will finally be investing in Panacur, which my mom (a Berner breeder) swears by.

The most interesting part of my week was the persistent sense that I was missing deadlines. Almost like the schoolwork was a phantom limb, teasing me with remembered stress. So when I saw the quote above drift past on my Facebook feed, I had to consider the difference between stress and passion. I’m feeling significantly less stressed in some ways, but have started setting up deadlines for my writing that will add to my stress, given the amount of work I anticipate investing in that process. In fact, I discovered a critique group accepting new members this week and submitted an application. Another writer friend had posted an article debunking the 10,000 hours to mastery myth, prodding me further down the road of looking for someone(s) to poke holes in my story telling. Which, ironically, will make the hard writing work more stressful, but I hope ultimately leads to an affirmation of my passion.

We’ll see. As it is, writing book three of a series has enough challenges that this story feels more of a slog to tell. I really hope that makes for effortless reading on the other end. Once again, time will tell. But I’m starting to operate as if March will be my release month, since I feel hopeful that the pace I’ve set is both realistic and achievable.

I didn’t even try to deal with our remaining boxes, or to establish a study schedule for the PMP, but at least I seem to finally be past the cold/flu that has been so draining for the past month and a half. It seems someone’s Internet-posted remedy of honey water has turned the tide for both of us. So we’ll see whether I have more energy this week to be able to shoe-horn in more progress. Otherwise, check out how my fellow ROW80ers are doing, and I’ll be back next week to let you know if I’m any closer to achieving my goals.

#AtoZChallenge โ€“ Z is for Shr Zen

universal-eyeI’ve made it to the end of another A-Z challenge–despite crazy MBA classes and four weekends’ worth of overtime at work. It’s shocking me a little, to be honest… so I thought I’d share the shock Anne experienced the first time she saw her new ghilen friend Shr-Zen hover on the verge of shifting back to her natural form.

Something about an all-black eye has freaked me out since I first saw the effect in an X-Files episode some 20 years ago.

This version captures the broader impact of having a mythical beast with millennia of experience stare you down–you feel smaller and more defenseless than just the regular version of eyes could ever make you feel.

The funny thing to me is that when I created the name for this particular character, I knew she would be based on Chinese mythology, so wanted something both meaningful and vaguely accessible. I knew from my couple of semesters of Mandarin that “shr” (with the proper intonation) means “to be”. I thought it would be interesting to make her name be something on the order of “I am Zen” since she’s trying to teach the young dragons how to reach that appropriate mindset. What surprised me in the character’s evolution was that she ended up being anything but.

That brings us to the end of this year’s installment of A-Z posts about the Red Slaves series and Blood to Fire more particularly. I hope you’ve enjoyed this exploration of characters, places, and concepts (with a few language lessons thrown in), and look forward to hearing whether any of you have been enticed into reading based on these teases.

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