Writer's Grove

I wrote a Star Wars book

March 3, 2015

HeirToTheJediI was nine years old when THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK came out. When Luke Skywalker was hangin’ upside down in the wampa cave and summoned his lightsaber to his hand using the Force, I thought, “Whoa! How’d he learn how to do that?” My nine-year old self who played with action figures, TIE fighters, and X-Wings never thought that someday I would get to write the answer and have it be canon, but that’s exactly what happened, and you can snag it today wherever you like to score books (or audiobooks)!

HEIR TO THE JEDI is standalone adventure, which means you don’t have to read any other Star Wars books to dive right in—a knowledge of the movies is all you need. It’s set in the period after the Battle of Yavin but before the events of THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, and it addresses at least some of those “How did we get here?” questions. (For those who might wonder, it’s also set chronologically before the Marvel Star Wars comics that just began last month.)

It’s also a story told for the first time from Luke Skywalker’s first-person point of view. If you check this out you’ll get a summary plus a bunch of handy links to various retailers if you’re an online shopper. There have been quite a few very kind reviews, but here are just a couple from Roqoo Depot and The Wookiee Gunner.

I’m not touring for this particular book but there are a couple different ways to get signed copies if you’d like one:
1) I’ll be at the Park Hill Branch of the Denver Public Library at 2 pm on April 4. You can bring in your copy or buy one there—a local indie bookstore will have copies. They’ll also have copies of the paperback release of SHATTERED, the 7th book in my Iron Druid series.
2) You can order one directly from me (US only) in Oberon’s Treat Shop. I ship them via US Media Mail.

Hope you dig it, and thanks very much for reading!


Bonus Silly Trivia!

My working titles for HEIR TO THE JEDI:
1. NERFHERDER APOCALYPSE
2. DAMN THE CANTINAS
3. NOODLE SCOOTER LUKE

Heir to the Jedi Winners!

February 24, 2015

Wow, what a great contest! Over a hundred entries of Star Wars geekery! Thank you all so much for making me smile & sharing your love of Star Wars!

It was a truly difficult decision—there were some car entries in particular that I thought were amazing—but I have picked three winners and then a couple more random winners via the ol’ Random.org.

If you’re one of the winners below, please email me your US shipping address (use kevin at thingie kevinhearne dot com) so that I can send you your signed copy of HEIR TO THE JEDI!

First up, Nancie in Ohio with her Weimaraner Leia and Wolfhound Wookiee! A WOLFHOUND WOOKIEE

HEIR19NancieOH

Next we have Penny/Noah in Illinois! There were quite a few awesome displays of action figures and such but I really appreciated that these are out of the box and played with! PEW! PEW! PEW!

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Jeff in California cracked me up with this! Vader at tea time!

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Random winners:
Jose in California sharing a little family time! Jose is the Mandalorian. :)

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Heather in North Carolina made a Battle of Hoth birthday cake for her son!

HEIR69HeatherNCCongratulations again! And thank you all for playing (and reading)! Hope you dig HEIR TO THE JEDI when it’s out next week!

 

Star Wars Nerdscape Contest!

February 8, 2015

I wrote a Star Wars book from Luke Skywalker’s 1st-person POV called HEIR TO THE JEDI. It’s out March 3 in ebook, hardcover, and audio, and you can preorder now (please do!) from wherever it is you like to score books. This page here is full of convenient linky-poos to buy it.

BUT I HAVE FIVE COPIES TO GIVE AWAY. Hardcovers, that is. Signed ones. Pew! Pew! Pew!

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And I think photo contests are fun. So if you’d like to enter to win a signed copy of HEIR TO THE JEDI (U.S. only), bust out your Star Wars stuff and create a Nerdscape for me. It can be Legos, action figures, books, comics, maybe a meta cosplay thing where you’re Boba Fett playing with Boba Fett action figures, whatever you like. Just create a Star Wars fan tableaux that demonstrates your love for that galaxy far, far away. Send your .jpg photo to me at kevin (at) kevinhearne dot com, subject line HEIR TO THE JEDI CONTEST, and please include your first name and state with your entry. I will post all entries to a FB photo album for everyone to enjoy, and the caption will include your name and state to identify entries. (For example: By Jedediah in Rhode Island). I will pick three winners that impress the hell out of me and then there will also be two random winners so everyone has a chance to get lucky.

Quick Handy Rules:

1. US only. If you’re out-o-the-country and want to enter that’s fine, but if you win I will only ship to a US address and then your friend/relative/minion will have to ship it wherever you are.
2. One entry per person.
3. Email jpegs to me at kevin (at thingy) kevinhearne dot com by Sunday, February 22. Include your first name and state and use the subject line HEIR TO THE JEDI CONTEST.
4. Follow my author page on FB if you aren’t already and you can see a daily update of the entries BECAUSE YAY FUN STAR WARS GEEKERY
5. Winners announced on Tuesday, February 24. I’ll ship as soon as you give me your address and then you ought to receive your copy during release week. :)

May the Force be with you. Hope you enjoy HEIR TO THE JEDI!

Shrimp Tacos with Cheat Codes

January 11, 2015

Always good to have a taste of summer in the dead white space of winter, isn’t it? You’re finished with your Solstice sacrifices and your sheep have frost on their wool and it’s just no damn fun churning your own butter anymore. You need chili lime cilantro shrimp tacos and you need ’em now!

So let’s do this! But do it easy because you’re cold and tired and you don’t want to miss that show you like.

You can of course make these the slow way starting with raw everything and making stuff from scratch, firing up the grill and putting shrimp on skewers, etc. Sometimes you can do that and you wanna do that. And sometimes you wanna let someone else do most of the work so you can have tasty stuff fast.

SO: Begin with a package of cooked, ready-to-eat shrimp from your meat case. (That’s your first cheat code—you don’t have to worry about peeling and deveining and all that.) Smaller ones work well for tacos. I found a 3/4 lb. package at my store. It was 100% guaranteed though I’m not sure what they were guaranteeing.

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Dump those guaranteed shrimp in a bowl. Then, in a second wee mixing bowl, make a flash marinade:

2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 teaspoon chili powder (or more to taste)
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper (I just grind a bunch from my mill)
A buttload of lime juice

That last ingredient might be a little vague, huh? Let’s get to the rest of the cheat codes. You’ll notice one of them is a little 4-oz. thingie of concentrated lime juice because fresh limes can be dodgy in the winter.  I started out with six teaspoons for the marinade and then added more once I started to heat up the shrimp.

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Other stuff you see: A bag o’ shredded cabbage and a low-cal cilantro avocado dressing. YAY FOR EASY TOPPINGS.

Stir up the marinade, pour on top of your shrimp and toss ’em around. Oughtta look like this:

shrimp3

Let ’em sit for a few minutes then dump into a skillet you have set on the low side of medium. Remember that unless you’re starting with raw shrimp, these suckers are already cooked and all you need to do is heat these. The trick is not to overcook—shrimp get chewy and nasty if you overcook ’em. You want ’em tender. So watch carefully, sneak a shrimp here and there to test heat, and start making tacos when they’re hot! As mentioned earlier, I squirted a whole bunch of extra lime juice on the shrimp while they were heating up, and I ground some more fresh pepper on top.

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Nuke some corn tortillas. Spread some shrimp on ’em. And now, like any other taco, it’s up to you. I put on some cabbage on there. Then some fresh avocado and chopped cilantro.

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Finish up with some salsa for heat and the cilantro avocado dressing for coolness. Or julienne/dice some cucumbers? Mandarin oranges? You can get freaky and maybe even deaky if you want.  Regardless, it’s fast and fresh and  beats the hell out of Taco Bell. Serve with beer or your favorite margarita. Cheers!

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Oberon’s Treat Shop Now Open!

January 6, 2015

The Quick Version With Exclamation Points: It’s open! It’s secure!  Media Mail to US addresses only! And get 10% off your order by using the coupon code GRAVY through the end of January!

The longer version with calmer punctuation: I had to open this store for reasons. I got spoiled, frankly, by having a spiffy indie bookstore near me in The Poisoned Pen with an efficient shipping operation. I’d drop by there every couple o’ months and sign a bunch of books and they’d do the rest. But alas! I’m no longer in Phoenix and now the nearest indie bookstore to me is an hour away, and since they get hella rad foot traffic they don’t ship very much. Not ideal for my readers or for me.

I’ll still visit Phoenix every so often and sign a bunch of books at the Poisoned Pen so they’ll have them in stock and that will be perfect for most cases. But sometimes people also want their books personalized (“To Marty McFly” or whatever) and I can’t fly down to Phoenix to take care of that or expect The Poisoned Pen to ship them up to me every time an order comes in. So if I want readers to be able to get signed, personalized copies whenever they want—and I do—I have to offer that service myself. Hence Oberon’s Treat Shop. Most everyone will get their books elsewhere and that’s perfect! But for the tiny percentage of peeps who want a signed special something, it’s now available.

The Treat Shop will eventually offer other treats besides signed books, but I’m starting out with books only because it’s probably the easiest thing I can do. Unlike T-shirts and pint glasses, they’re one-size-fits-all and they don’t break. And my shipping option—singular, not plural—is Media Mail to US addresses only for the same reason: I need to keep it simple while I learn the ropes. Or rather, while my Shipping Pug learns the ropes. Like all pugs, he has performance anxiety and he’s worried about this gig. I mean just lookit this picture of Aloysius the Shipping Pug:

shippingpug

I’m sure Aloysius will be fine. He’ll get delicious snacks and I’ll get to keep writing books. We have an excellent arrangement.

If you’re in Canada or the UK or elsewhere, you can still snag signed copies from The Poisoned Pen—they ship anywhere! And of course if you are in the US and just want a signed copy vs. a signed, personalized copy, I recommend the The Poisoned Pen as well. They offer more titles than I do anyway! They have signed copies by Diana Gabaldon and many others under their Autographed Editions section.

Eventually I’ll offer other goodies and when I do the shipping options will necessarily progress beyond Media Mail. In the meantime, the details:

1) Oberon’s Treat Shop uses Stripe for checkout. It’s simple and secure, you don’t have to log in or create an account, and none of your information is saved.
2) Through Jan 31 you can get 10% off your order by using the coupon code GRAVY.
3) I won’t offer new books in the Treat Shop until they’ve been out for a month or so because I’d much rather you buy from a bookstore and say hi to me on tour if at all possible. My intent here is not to compete with bookstores but rather offer a niche service to those readers who want signed, personalized copies for birthdays or holidays or top secret libraries and can’t get them elsewhere. During the first few weeks of a new book’s release it’s easy to get signed & personalized copies from any of the bookstores I visit on tour. You call ‘em up, say hey, set aside a copy of Kevin’s latest for me and have him sign it to Mildred & Frodo or Optimus Prime or whatever, and everyone will be delighted. You’ll get your book faster, the bookstore will be happy, and I’ll be happy. And if I am visiting your town (or close enough for you to make it) and we take a selfie together and you take your book home right then, well, all the better!

Thanks for supporting your local bookstores whenever you can! But when you need a signed, personalized copy of my books for gifts and such, Oberon’s Treat Shop is here for you.

 

I invite you to tsu

December 27, 2014

A rambly social media post! Beware! YOUR LOINS! GIRD THEM.

Fairly amused/hopeful once more that we might have an alternative to Facebook. It’s called tsū and it’s kind of a Facebook/Twitter combo which you can connect to those platforms, along with Instagram, Pinterest, and Tumblr. The interface is easy and familiar. But no requests for games! Yay! And there’s a Friend/Follower distinction that I like. More details below but here’s a link to get you started if you’re the type that just likes to jump in and get going.  Oh, and here’s what the top of my profile page looks like…you’ll see the similarity to Twitter/FB right away.

Screen Shot 2014-12-27 at 8.24.29 AM

This isn’t the first time I’ve tried other social media. I tried Google + but dang, nobody’s there when you post except for like three crickets. Got a tumblr but I don’t see much interaction there either (I’m probably doing it wrong). Signed up for ello and that’s also kind of dead for the moment; it might pick up and catch on but I don’t think their interface is ideal and lots of their functionality isn’t there yet. Tsū still has some functionality to add (see below) but it’s much more ready to go I think—they have a mobile app at least.

Why am I so looking forward to some viable alternative? Facebook’s privacy concerns and monetization strategy have long been a turn-off for me and many other authors but I’ve basically had no choice but to remain there since that’s where the readers are. I use my author page to stay in touch with peeps but don’t do anything at all on my personal page because damn if I’m going to let Facebook monetize my life. I talk to my friends via other means than Facebook. Meanwhile, on my author page, even though I have 18K followers, they don’t all see my posts. Facebook purposely throttles my posts to make me pay to reach people who are already following me. *wet fart noise*

Twitter’s pretty fun though—I socialize with people there quite a bit. I also get news there fairly often. However, its effectiveness as a marketing tool is limited; there’s a lot of noise there and your tweets get lost easily. To make it work you have to be clever so you’ll get lots of retweets or you have to repeat yourself often and get kind of spammy and GAH, that’s work. I’ll do a little bit of business there but mostly I’m on Twitter to be a nerd with other nerds.  It keeps the lonely writing business from being so lonely.

So: Tsū. (An aside: I wish it was Tsü because umlauts are cool.)

They’re making money by selling ads. Yep. But so far it’s not the super creepy kind that Facebook or Google does where they mine your emails or searches and then tailor ads to you. You’ve had that happen, right? You search for a knife because you’re researching something for a story and then all you get are ads for knives everywhere you go. Nope, the ads I see in tsū have nothing to do with my interests and that’s great.

I also do not see yet (though of course it may change or I’m simply wrong) that they’re curating your feed. If you follow someone then you see their stuff in your feed—that’s it. How refreshing of them to assume that if you follow someone you’d like to see their posts!

The interface is easy. You have likes which display as heart doodads and you have comments and you can reply to them. You can have private messages. There’s no learning curve here like with ello. Behold, a screenshot:

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So that post has 56 likes, 61 comments from people saying howdy, and I guess that 2 represents shares? Anyway, it displays the first couple of comments and then you can click to view the others if you wanna. I clicked “like” on the comments there and you see it gives ‘em a little heart to the right.

I dig it so far. It’s easy to use, unlike ello, where you spend a bunch of time in the white space looking around like Neo in the loading program and have to wait for Morpheus to explain the Matrix. Get on tsū now and you might be able to snag your actual name before the other people with the same one! :)

The Friend/Follower distinction—well, you can use that as you wish. For me, a friend is someone I have met and know personally and have had beers with. And, as I mentioned earlier, my friends and I tend to communicate via other methods than social media. Mostly I’m around to say howdy to readers and be silly about tacos.

Is it perfect? Nope. Tsū has work to do.
1. They really need a clear harassment policy and a way to deal with trolls. Because there are a lot of people on the Internet who do not follow Wheaton’s Law (“Don’t Be A Dick!”) and you have to be able to deal with them. People need a safe space. Twitter has absolutely sucked at this. First social media to find a way to make people feel safe wins! Right now tsū is a bit confusing on the issue. Under FAQs, first you see this:

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And then, a bit further down the FAQs, you see this:

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So I guess they rolled it out, maybe, but didn’t update their FAQs? Or is there a distinction between “member” in the first screencap and “user” in the second one that I’m missing? Hmm. I checked it out. I went to someone’s profile page, found the three dots, and clicked on it.

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That’s a start! They have a way to report or block people. But what exactly they do when you report someone isn’t clear. That policy needs to be worked out and we’ll have to see how they handle it.
2. Adding more servers might be good; it’s a bit slow at times. Growing pains, easily fixed.
3. They have this thing where you’re supposed to earn money somehow. The idea being that if you’re going to monetize a social network by selling ads then the people in that network should be getting the money. Their algorithm thingie looks like a pyramid scheme to me but WHATEVS. That’s not why I’m there. I’m there because it’s Not Facebook and they’re not holding my followers hostage with a “Boost Post” button. And if I do happen to make money somehow then I’m donating every penny to charity. What I do know is that tsū didn’t ask me for any money or a credit card number or anything. So if they wind up giving me money that I can then give away, that’s cool; I’m not doing anything for it but goofing around online. What would be really cool is if they let you donate that money directly to a charity of your choice in your name. Don’t know if tax people will let that happen, but there it is: The Dream.

Anyway—give it a shot if you wanna. Totally understandable if you’d rather not. Regardless, thanks for saying hi to me wherever you do it!

Year-end thanks

December 21, 2014

Hey: Thank you. For lots of stuff, but mostly for reading & telling your friends about the series.

You put SHATTERED on the New York Times list and it has more reviews than any of my other books except HOUNDED—I’m turbo grateful and so very glad you liked it.

Thanks also for coming to see me when I ventured out of my cave to squint in the bright light of the public sun. Some of you cosplayed or brought me potables or wanted to take a pic or just say howdy and all of that was rad. It was truly delightful to meet you.

The Chapel_cover art FINAL COVER DESIGNWanted to say thanks especially for your help with an experiment. Prior to this year I hadn’t self-published anything; the traditional route was working out fine and I didn’t really have a story available in any case. But once “The Chapel Perilous” became available to me, I thought, why not? Let’s learn the process.

I originally wrote “The Chapel Perilous” for charity and never thought I’d make a buck from it anyway. But once it had served its charitable purpose it looked like an opportunity to learn the self-pubbing side of things on the super easy setting—it had already been  edited and copy edited after all. So my costs were essentially art and formatting. A $500 investment.

(Galen Dara did the haunting rain-soaked cover, by the way, and it is still my favorite thing. It hit all my geek spots and she is a dream to work with.)

I published in the US/Canada with Amazon, B&N, and iTunes/iBooks. Kobo was difficult for some reason; I was using the exact same file that uploaded to the others just fine but Kobo kept rejecting it so I gave up because I had books to write. Apologies to Kobo readers for my lack of patience.

From January to November across those three platforms I sold a bit more than 20K copies at 99 cents and earned a bit more than $7K. That was far more successful than I expected since I’d basically hoped to get my $500 back. I had no idea what to expect since “The Chapel Perilous” had already been published in the UNFETTERED anthology (and that’s still where UK/AUS/NZ readers can find it) and short stories in general don’t sell as well as novels. But it took off for some reason and even has quite a few kind reviews. Thanks again!

So I guess I’m a hybrid author now? Going to self-pub something bigger in the spring. It’s a mini-anthology called THREE SLICES. It’s three novellas: An Iron Druid one from me, a Blud novella from Delilah S. Dawson, and a Miriam Black novella from Chuck Wendig. Edited by my brilliant Metal Editor & art once again by Galen Dara—a cover plus an additional illustration for each of the three stories. Because Galen is absolutely spiffing. (She did the portrait of Oberon you see on the site as well.)

THREE SLICES will be out worldwide sometime in the spring—we’ll get you a solid release date once all the editing and such is done. There will be audio too. :) I wouldn’t have attempted anything so ambitious if you hadn’t supported “The Chapel Perilous” the way you did, so…thank you! And happy Solstice!

My best reads o’ the year

December 16, 2014

I’ve read some dang spiffy books this year. Some of them I’m still reading, like THE MIRROR EMPIRE by Kameron Hurley and THE PERIPHERAL by William Gibson. They are rich and chewy stories and are taking me longer to read (I read multiple books at a time) but I’m digging them mucho. So many rad stories out there.

But some o’ you ask on occasion about the bestest thingies I’ve read because you want to read ‘em too, and so I’m happy to share with the understanding that of course your mileage may vary.  Everybody’s tastes are different and that’s cool. These three books, in no particular order, really worked for me this year.

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CURSED MOON by Jaye Wells
The second book in the Prospero’s War series sees Kate Prospero grow quite a bit and continues to delight me. This series begins with DIRTY MAGIC and will continue next year—I think there’s a novella coming out too, so now’s a great time to dive in. ALCHEMY and BADASSERY and A LITTLE HOMUNCULUS IN THIS WOMAN’S CHEST DEAR GOD

MAPLECROFT by Cherie Priest
I genuinely believe this is a fucking work of genius. I’ve always loved Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein for its story and epistolary structure but both I and the students I taught it to occasionally got bogged down in stretches of excessively Romantic language. Really gothic sentence structure and pages of emoting, you know? And like many people I’ve enjoyed the tentacle-faced monsters of Lovecraftian Elder Gods mythos while completely loathing both the author’s execrable bigotry and his prose. So what Cherie has done here is an astounding feat: She’s given us Lovecraftian horror the way it should have been written (that is, WELL) in an epistolary structure that retains the flavor of the Romantic era while not diving so deeply into it that modern readers drown. Uh. Forgive my excessive metaphors? I’m not a genius like Cherie! Y’all should read this and tell everybody else to do the same.

CITY OF STAIRS by Robert Jackson Bennett
Lots of books start off BAM LOOKIT ALL THIS BLOOD and then dial it back because yeah, that kind of narrative hook often works and that’s in vogue now. This book is different. Starts off pretty chill and stays there a while, and then you find yourself saying, “Holy crap!” and then a few pages later that’s not good enough so you say, “Holy shit!” and then it escalates to “Holy rivers of shit!” and then ALL CAPS WHAT THE FUCK AND THEN OH GOD I NEED A NEW PAIR OF SHORTS THAT WAS AWESOME.

Please enjoy these. Happy reading to you all!

Nerdtivity Contest

December 3, 2014

Author homeslice Chuck Wendig was sharing his old Nerdtivity scenes from a few years back and I instantly loved ‘em. They’re nativity scenes except with action figures and pop culture goodness. And I was reminded of my Nerdscape photo contests in the past and how much fun they were, and then that reminded me that I haven’t run a contest in quite a while.

So I saith unto Chuck: “Lo, we shouldst hold a photo contest, and we will see that it is good.”

And he saith, “Fuck yeah we will.”

We put it together FAST. And Chuck has all the details on his blog right now so you should go there and enter. Because the prizes are rad.*

I made my own Nerdtivity with more than a little haste to give you an example. My photography leaves much to be desired, but lookit, there’s a theme here: Morpheus. There’s Neil Gaiman’s Morpheus (morphed into Daniel), The Matrix’s Morpheus, and a figure reminiscent of the Roaring 20’s Sandman from Sandman Mystery Theatre, helpfully warning you about the dangers of syphilis. (My syphilis lunchbox NEVER got stolen from the employee refrigerator. Just saying. Kept my lunch completely safe.)

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I know you guys can make far better ones. And you have a bit of time to put them together. Have a blast with this, okay? Also, if you haven’t read Chuck’s work, he’s one of my favorite authors for reals.

*Some very rare prizes are being given away here. Complete signed set of UK-edition IDC, books 1-7. That doesn’t exist anywhere else. Also a SNACK OF THE SEX MANTIS mug, which is turbo scarce. And the last two embroidered Rula Bula polo shirts. Plus MORE STUFF that Chuck is giving away too. Y’all should really enter because just entering is fun. Everybody wins. :)

NaNoWriMo wrap-up

November 30, 2014

To win NaNoWriMo you gotta write 50K words.

So I guess I didn’t win.

Except I TOTALLY WON. During a month designed to derail you at the end (which it most definitely did) I still got my monthly 30K because I worked so much on the front end. My November total: 30,157. If I hadn’t pushed myself at the beginning I wouldn’t have had such a respectable output. And though it’s not 50K, they’re all words I’m happy with. I mean, lookit:

I finished an Iron Druid short story and a novella even got some edits done on both.

And my epic fantasy is now at 73K words. If I keep my 30K pace for December-April I’ll finish it before I head off to Poland and other points in Europe. So yay! This is doable! (And incidentally, 73K would mean I’m almost finished with an Iron Druid book, but for an epic that’s not even halfway).

Wherever you wound up, as long as you’re closer to the end of your book, you won. Keep at it. Distractions will and do happen, but the end won’t happen unless you type your way there.

IMG_1427So cheers! Keep writing! It’s Adventure Time!





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