Friday, January 24, 2020

The Spinster's Christmas - Chapter 4a #Christianfiction #Regency #romance

I’m posting my Regency romance, The Spinster's Christmas, so all my blog readers get a chance to read it! It’s the Prequel novel to my Lady Wynwood’s Spies series.

A Regency romantic mystery

Miranda Belmoore has never felt attuned to the rest of society. Her family has never understood her blunt speech and unwillingness to bow to conventional strictures, and so they have always made her feel that there is something wrong with her. Now as a poor relation in her cousin’s house, she makes plans to escape a life of drudgery and disdain from her own family members.

Naval Captain Gerard Foremont is having difficulty adjusting to life back on land, frustrated that his career has been cut short by his severely injured knee. Guilt haunts him as he sees the strain his long convalescence has had upon his parents. As they spend Christmastide with the Belmoores, he wants to help fulfill his mother’s wish to have her orphaned niece come to stay with them.

However, an enemy has infiltrated the family party, bent on revenge and determined that Twelfth Night will end in someone’s death …

All the posted parts are listed here.

***

Chapter 4a

December 24th

The morning had dawned crisp and cold, but clear enough for the annual Christmas greens collecting. Laura, Lady Wynwood, finished tying the scarf about Sally’s neck. The little girl had grown so much since Laura had seen her last Christmas here at Wintrell Hall. “There, now you are ready to gather mistletoe.”

“William says mistletoe is for grown-ups.”

“And who is William?”

“He is the rector’s son. Back at home in Sussex.”

Laura smiled and smoothed the brown curls peeking out from beneath the girl’s hood. “Mistletoe is for the kissing bough, so I suppose he’s right, after a fashion.”

Sally made a face. “Why do grown-ups like kissing so much? William said that sometimes when grown-ups kiss, they make babies.”

Laura choked back a laugh. “No, they most certainly do not make babies simply from kissing. But grown-ups do enjoy it.”

Sally gave her a suspicious look. “Do you enjoy kissing?”

“I enjoy kissing you.” Laura grabbed her in a hug and rained kisses upon her round cheeks.

Sally squealed and giggled. “Now you must kiss Paul,” she told Laura.

Sally’s cousin, who had been pulling on his mittens nearby, scowled and backed up a few steps. “I’m too old for kissing. Kissing is for babies.”

“I’m not a baby.”

“You’re the baby cousin. There isn’t anyone younger than you.”

Sally turned to Laura. “Cousin Laura, you should have babies so that I will no longer be the youngest.”

It surprised Laura that the innocent remark caused such a sharp pang in her heart, even after all these years. She imagined she could feel an answering pain in her stomach. She gave Sally a bright smile. “Babies require a papa, and I have no husband.”

“You should marry Mr. Drydale.”

“No, Mr. Drydale and I are friends. Like you and William, the rector’s son. Now off with you.” She gave Sally a little push out the front door as the other cousins also filed outside.

No, Sol deserved better than someone like her. She was not being self-pitying, but practical. He needed a woman who could bear him an heir, and she would not put herself under the control of a man. Never again.

Laura secured her own hood and followed the troupe of children. They all headed across the lawn in front of the house toward the edge of the forest. A pale winter sun squinted through the hazy clouds, turning the grass a sage-green color. Her breath blew around her head, and when she inhaled, she smelled woodsmoke.

She was watching Paul chase Sally in circles around the lawn when she became aware of someone who had come to walk beside her. “Good morning, Miranda.”

“Good morning, Cousin Laura.”

“Where is Ellie?” It had been obvious that Ellie clung to Miranda like a barnacle on a ship, and no wonder—the child had lost her mother less than a year ago, and then been thrust into Cecil’s cold household. And Miranda was the sort of person you could cling to, who wouldn’t mind you doing it.

“Ellie is there.” Miranda pointed to a small figure walking with Augusta’s youngest daughter, who was fifteen. “Liliana has promised to make snow angels with her if they find a patch of snow.”

“Snow? Not yet, I fear.”

“Ellie is still hopeful.” Miranda smiled, and it transformed her face from plain to pixie-like. But the smile was fleeting, and as it faded, lines appeared on the sides of her mouth. “Cousin Laura, I have a favour to ask. But I should like it if you did not tell Cecil about it.”

Laura raised her eyebrows. “Cecil?”

Miranda’s cheeks turned rosy, but Laura did not believe it was from the biting winter wind. “I have already spoken briefly with Aunt Augusta, and she was quite distressed at my request. I should not wish to upset Cecil.”

“Of course. I will not speak to him about our private conversation.”

“Thank you.” Miranda’s exhaled breath hung like a cloud about her head. “Cousin Laura, you have a great many friends and relations. Do you know of any ladies who might need a paid companion?”

Laura was not surprised by the question. While she knew very little about Miranda’s situation, she had noticed that Felicity treated Miranda with less respect than her relationship as Cecil’s cousin deserved. However, it was not uncommon for poor relations to be treated like servants—she had seen it in other households, with women even more arrogant than Felicity Belmoore.

And yet Miranda’s face never betrayed any discomfort. She had always kept her feelings to herself.

“Of course. I shall write to my friends directly,” Laura said.

“Thank you. If you do hear of a position, please write to me at the home of Felicity’s cousin, Polly Beatty, outside of Weymouth.”

A chill raced up Laura’s spine, and it was not from the winter wind. But perhaps she was mistaken. “I did not know you were close to Felicity’s cousin,” she said lightly. “How long will you be visiting?”

***

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Thursday, January 23, 2020

Formosa Ruby 18 Black tea review - Mastersteas.com by @AdagioTeas


Today I tried the Formosa Ruby 18 Black tea from Mastersteas.com. They sent me several black teas to try and review for my blog, but I got so busy that I never got around to this until now. I was excited to be trying for the first time a tea I normally wouldn’t have bought—new tasting experiences are always fun for me.

From the website:

A very fine version of the Ruby 18, otherwise known as Red Jade, it is intense with surprising licorice notes. The long, dark leggy leaves, contain some lovely buds. The licorice cup also has a cooling menthol effect. There are notes of spice, a hint of caramel, and a whisper of toasted vanilla bean. The dry finish completes what is a very interesting, dynamic experience. In a word, excellent.

Ruby #18 is a unique cultivar from Taiwan, and a relatively new invention, only surfacing in the late twentieth century after over fifty years of research. A cross between a wild Formosa tea plant and an Assam from Burma, it was developed specifically with the intent to make phenomenal black tea.

This tea contains a high level of caffeine | Steep at 212° for 2-3 minutes.

This was definitely one of the more unusual black teas I’ve ever tried, and I found I really liked it. The leaves are long and beautiful, so I used an airy 1 tablespoon in 500 mL of water at 212°F for 3 minutes.

When drinking it plain, I found it a very light and soothing cup of afternoon tea. It was not as strong as my English Breakfast black tea, but not as light as a green tea, and with none of the grassy flavors of an Oolong tea. I don’t always taste the flavors described for teas, but in this case I definitely tasted the licorice, which gave it a very nice, dry finish. Even when I oversteeped the second cup, it was not bitter at all. It went very well with my blueberry bagel, although I think it would go well with any type of sweets or snacks.

I also tried it with a little milk and honey, and that’s where it got really interesting. The licorice and spice flavor suddenly was enhanced, which made it an unusual flavor for a black tea. I found I enjoyed it a lot, and ended up getting a slice of a pumpkin roll from the fridge to pair with it. The tea tasted great paired with the spicy pumpkin roll.

Overall, it was an unusual but delicious cup of tea. It would go well with anything if it were plain, but with milk and honey I could only see it pairing well with other spiced sweets, for my personal preference. For people who enjoy black tea without milk and sugar, this is definitely a complex cup of tea that is great for afternoon snacking.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Journaling for productivity and motivation

I think the biggest change I made in December was that I started journaling again, except that I’m using an electronic journal instead of a paper journal. The decision was a tough one to make because I love the tactile feel of a paper journal, but I also had to consider what I wanted to get out of journaling.

I wanted to do a variety of things, including logging my meals (I needed to figure out what I was eating that might be triggering some health issues) and my exercise, and recording what I did during the day for my writing and also outside my writing.

I was originally going to use the SparkPeople app for my meals and exercise, but I decided to give e-journaling a try and found that I am more likely to log my meals when I don’t have to figure out portions and calorie count. I still can see where I overeat and when I snack mindlessly, I just don’t see the calorie count. Also I have a reminder on the journal page template to exercise, and I found myself being motivated to check that box every day.

I tried out the Day One Journal app for the 7-day trial period and ending up really liking it. It lets you have several journals, so I have a journal for food and health, a journal for general activities, and a journal for writing.

What surprised me was that I started using my e-journalling to also help with my To Do list, which I had previously used a Reminder app for. I have found myself being much more productive because I am in my e-journal intermittently during the day (it’s on my phone), and so I am reminded of what I need to do that day. I found myself more likely to get those things done and check off each item in the list. During the day, I add things to the To Do list as I think of them, and I’m more likely to get to them in a timely manner.

I also took the idea from the Bullet Journal about having a month at a glance page and a year at a glance page. I use both to list different types of To Do lists, and I have been using the Month at a Glance page to list my accomplishments as well as record events. For example, I recorded when I cleaned up my office, when I cleared out my email inbox, and when I finished taking notes on some key research papers I had been meaning to read. I’ll probably condense that down to list in my Year in a Glance page.


I’ve also added photos I snap with my phone, so I have a nice visual record of things I’ve done, like the things I’ve knit or how my trees in the garden are flowering (my plum tree was budding right after the new year!).


So far, I’ve enjoyed journaling on my phone like that. It has helped with my productivity and my health, and it also helped with my writing goals and writing To Do list. I hope to continue to journal consistently to record what I do, my thoughts, my memories of events, and improve my productivity.

Do you guys journal? What do you use? I’m always curious about other people’s journaling methods, so please leave a comment.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

The Spinster's Christmas - Chapter 3c #Christianfiction #Regency #romance

I’m posting my Regency romance, The Spinster's Christmas, so all my blog readers get a chance to read it! It’s the Prequel novel to my Lady Wynwood’s Spies series.

A Regency romantic mystery

Miranda Belmoore has never felt attuned to the rest of society. Her family has never understood her blunt speech and unwillingness to bow to conventional strictures, and so they have always made her feel that there is something wrong with her. Now as a poor relation in her cousin’s house, she makes plans to escape a life of drudgery and disdain from her own family members.

Naval Captain Gerard Foremont is having difficulty adjusting to life back on land, frustrated that his career has been cut short by his severely injured knee. Guilt haunts him as he sees the strain his long convalescence has had upon his parents. As they spend Christmastide with the Belmoores, he wants to help fulfill his mother’s wish to have her orphaned niece come to stay with them.

However, an enemy has infiltrated the family party, bent on revenge and determined that Twelfth Night will end in someone’s death …

All the posted parts are listed here.

***

Chapter 3c

He thumped his way down the hallway. His bedroom was smaller than the bedrooms in the other wings, but it was close to the drawing room, just past the library and the ballroom. The carpet runner narrowed here, and he stumbled when the tip of his cane slid a few inches because it had touched down on the polished wooden floor rather than the rug.

He and his father were sharing a valet during the visit so that Cecil would not need to house an extra servant in his bursting household, but Gerard did not bother to call Maddox to assist him. His evening wear hung loosely on his frame since his returned home, and he had become used to dressing himself while on board ship. He easily shrugged out of his coat, waistcoat, and shirt, although the clean shirt he pulled on was not quite as creaseless as Maddox would have wanted. Gerard pulled out the first waistcoat he saw, which was striped in grey and blue and perhaps more suited to morning wear, but the cravat he tied was unexceptionable, if not overly elaborate.

He made his way out of his room, but he could faintly hear a woman’s voice, shrill with displeasure. At first it sounded like Miss Church-Pratton, but then he realized it was Felicity. A low man’s voice answered her—Cecil. The voices came from the library door, open a crack, and it was obvious they were arguing.

“Things take her twice as long as anyone else,” Felicity said. “Or she does something completely ridiculous. Last week, the governess was ill so she was supposed to take over Ellie’s instruction. Instead, she took her skating on the pond. She said it was to teach her mathematics!”

He couldn’t be certain, but he thought they might be speaking of Miranda. She had always had an unconventional way of thinking of the world, which had made her a delightful playmate when they were children. She was also the type of person who was patient no matter what the task.

The library was far enough from the drawing room that no one there would hear them, but Gerard’s room was closer. He began thumping along as quickly as possible, hoping neither of the angry couple would suddenly storm out of the library and see him skulking like a thief. The distance to the drawing room seemed like a mile.

“She’s impossible,” Felicity hissed. “She does it on purpose to upset me.”

“I hardly think she does it on purpose,” Cecil said. “She’s always been like that, a bit touched in the head.”

“Well then, I don’t want a madwoman in my home. I shall be heartily glad when she goes to my cousin Polly’s house.”

Gerard moved to the far side of the hallway as he passed the library door. Calling Miranda a madwoman was a bit much, even for Felicity’s spiteful nature. Miranda had always been unique, uncaring of what others thought of her, comfortable in who she was and unapologetic about it. But perhaps in Felicity’s mind, the fact that Miranda wouldn’t scurry to obey her every command would seem like the actions of a madwoman.

Suddenly his cane again landed on the wooden floor, a good foot of which lay between the edge of the carpet runner and the wall. This time, the tip slid quickly. His knee twisted at the sudden loss of support. A sharp pain sliced up his leg. He didn’t feel the impact as he hit the floor, just saw the carpet runner rise up to meet him. As he lay there, he panted heavily and screwed his eyes shut, focusing on pushing past the pain in his knee so he wouldn’t faint. He could smell dust, mold, and the faintest hint of lemon polish.

He didn’t realize he had blocked out all sound until Cecil’s voice broke into the haze of pain.

“As to that, Mr. Foremont wanted her to go with Ellie, to help out for a few months.”

Gerard had to get out of this hallway. He couldn’t bear it if someone came along and saw him on the floor, or worse, if Cecil and Felicity left the library and realized he had fallen nearly across the threshold. He pushed at the floor, rising on his good knee. His entire leg was shaking.

“Absolutely not,” Felicity said. “Polly didn’t come this year because her youngest broke his leg and they lost yet another nursery-maid. She needs Miranda.”

“What your cousin needs is to learn how to keep her maids from quitting her service.”

“It is the best solution for us to loan Miranda to Polly. Miranda cannot quit service.”

Gerard got to his feet and leaned against the wall for a moment, catching his breath. His heart pounded as if he’d run up ten flights of stairs. He continued toward the drawing room at a slower pace, his knee aching with each step.

But even more than the pain in his leg, he felt the burning of injustice and frustration in his gut. Miranda was little better than a slave in this household. He could not bear to see her so abused.

His only goal had been to become well in body, but oughtn’t he to exercise his conscience, as well? How could he stand to allow Cecil and Felicity to treat her so? Surely he could do more to convince his mother to change her mind.

There had been so many men, so many friends he had not been able to save during the war. Now that he was ashore, at the very least he could save one childhood friend.

***

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Friday, January 17, 2020

The Spinster's Christmas - Chapter 3b #Christianfiction #Regency #romance

I’m posting my Regency romance, The Spinster's Christmas, so all my blog readers get a chance to read it! It’s the Prequel novel to my Lady Wynwood’s Spies series.

A Regency romantic mystery

Miranda Belmoore has never felt attuned to the rest of society. Her family has never understood her blunt speech and unwillingness to bow to conventional strictures, and so they have always made her feel that there is something wrong with her. Now as a poor relation in her cousin’s house, she makes plans to escape a life of drudgery and disdain from her own family members.

Naval Captain Gerard Foremont is having difficulty adjusting to life back on land, frustrated that his career has been cut short by his severely injured knee. Guilt haunts him as he sees the strain his long convalescence has had upon his parents. As they spend Christmastide with the Belmoores, he wants to help fulfill his mother’s wish to have her orphaned niece come to stay with them.

However, an enemy has infiltrated the family party, bent on revenge and determined that Twelfth Night will end in someone’s death …

All the posted parts are listed here.

***

Chapter 3b

They all returned to the drawing room. One of the cousins was pounding away at the pianoforte while some of the furniture at the far end of the room had been rearranged to clear space for a few couples to dance.

Gerard sank into a chair near his mother, while his father sat beside her on the sofa.

“All went as expected, my dear,” his father said to her. “Ellie shall come home with us when we leave.”

His mother gasped with delight and clasped her husband’s hands in her own. “How wonderful it will be to have Ellie with us. The house has been so gloomy lately.”

Gerard looked away, but found he was staring down at his injured leg. At the very least, Ellie would distract his mother from the task of nursing him, which she had come to resent more in the past few weeks.

“The village seamstress is not as skilled as Madame Fanchon in London, but Ellie must have a new wardrobe,” his mother said. “And perhaps we might refurbish the nursery. Yes, a trip to Bath would be of utmost importance. Frilled curtains at the windows, a new table and set of chairs, a new canopy for her bed. Oh, there is so much to do.” She looked elated at the prospect.

“Mother, I wondered if we might bring Miranda with us, as well, to help with Ellie,” Gerard said.

Some of the annoyance crept back into her face. “Whyever would we do that?”

“Ellie has become very attached to Miranda, and she could serve as Ellie’s nursery-maid.”

“Ellie will soon become attached to me,” his mother said. “And we could hire a nursery-maid from the village.”

He should not have mentioned Ellie’s attachment, for it was making his mother defensive and possessive. “It is only for a few weeks, or a few months at most.”

“All the more reason for her not to stay with us,” she said. “Ellie will only miss Miranda the more when she leaves.”

“My dear, we only are thinking of your own comfort,” his father said.

“You needn’t be concerned about me,” his mother replied. “And I must say, John, that I am rather surprised that you would agree with Gerard in this. A penniless young woman, not related by blood, under our roof? It would be most improper.”

Heat crawled up Gerard’s neck and jaw. “I am in no danger from Miranda. We know each other too well.”

“You are not alleviating my concern,” she said.

“I don’t think Miranda has a heart to be captured by any man,” Gerard said. “She is still as quiet and self-controlled as ever she was as a child.”

“Your mother is correct, Gerard,” his father said. “A young woman under our roof …”

“If you are ill at ease, I will move to Foremont Lacy.” He had not seen his property, inherited from his grandmother, since he had come ashore. “I will soon be well enough that I can do with only a manservant.”

“But that is only …” His mother checked herself. “I am still unconvinced that it is necessary to bring Miranda with us.”

Gerard had not considered his marital prospects since becoming injured, but he now realized that nothing had prevented his mother from thinking of such things, especially now that he was living in his father’s house. And apparently, in his mother’s opinion, his residence at the neighboring farm of Foremont Lacy would still be too uncomfortably close to Foremont Court, should Miranda take up residence there.

His father’s look convinced Gerard to abandon the subject. “I would not distress you, madam.”

“Yes, your convalescence has been quite distressing enough,” she said peevishly.

He was rescued by the appearance of their evening tea, which also included an ornate silver punch bowl of wassail. However, on his way to get a cup of the Christmas drink, he was waylaid by Miss Church-Pratton, one of Felicity’s cousins.

“Now why were you men sequestered together for so long?” She gave a trilling laugh. “I had begun to fear you had abandoned us.”

“Business, I fear,” Gerard said politely.

“Oh, you mustn’t work during Christmastide.” She smiled, and dimples appeared in her cheeks. “Is not the company amusing enough?”

“Indeed.” She had been seated next to him at the dinner table, and while she spent a few scant minutes talking to her partner on her other side, she spent the rest of the time talking to him. About herself.

Even aside from that, Gerard was mistrustful of her smiles. He’d heard from Lady Wynwood, who obviously disliked Miss Church-Pratton, that she had broken her engagement earlier this year to an officer who had been wounded at Corunna. However, the season in London had not resulted in a second engagement, and Gerard could see that her charm had an edge of bitterness and desperation.

He had no intention of being her next matrimonial target. With his injury, he was in no condition to even consider a more distant future with any woman. He must concentrate on the most immediate needs, namely being able to discard his cane and to relieve the burden upon his parents.

It was a cowardly thing to do, but he simply grasped at the first idea that came to mind. He took a small glass of wassail from the maid serving the punch at a side table and then wobbled on his cane, spilling the drink on his waistcoat. The scent of wine, nutmeg, and apples grew stronger, and he felt the warmth as the hot beverage soaked through his shirt.

“Oh, dear!” Miss Church-Pratton fished out her handkerchief, a thin lawn square the size of a playing card, and swabbed at his chest.

Her hand seemed to be touching a larger area of his chest than the spill, and he hastily stepped away from her suspicious ministrations. “I do beg your pardon, Miss Church-Pratton. I must change my waistcoat before it stains.” He turned and left.

***

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Thursday, January 16, 2020

Tie Kuan Yin tea review - Mastersteas.com

In my teens, I traveled to China and drank various types of Chinese teas everyday (black, green, oolong, and even red). I also bought some good quality tea to take home to my mom, who is a true tea snob, and tasted that, too. I don’t hate Chinese black teas by any means, but I always find myself preferring the more tannic, maltier English black teas.

That being said, I always try teas with an open mind. However, my natural inclinations most certainly influenced my review, so take it with a grain of salt.

Today I tried the Tie Kuan Yin Black tea from Mastersteas.com. They sent me several black teas to try and review for my blog, but I got so busy that I never got around to this until now. I was excited to be trying for the first time a tea I normally wouldn’t have bought—new tasting experiences are always fun for me.

From the website:

Tie Guan Yin, often translated as Iron Goddess of Mercy or Iron Buddha, is a variety of Chinese oolong tea. However, this version takes the classic Tie Kuan Yin leaves and processes them in a black tea style. This unique combination culminates in the velvet savory texture of black tea with the unique floral charm of traditional Tie Guan Yin tea. When brewed, this intriguing handcrafted tea has a reddish-brown liquor that hints towards dark chocolate and a whispery licorice finish. A Masters Teas favorite!

About the leaves:

Our Tie Kuan Yin Black is grown at 1000 meters above sea level in Xiang Hua, Anxi, Fujian province. This is a special tea as it is a cross between black and oolong. Its picking standard is that of one bud and 3 to 4 leaves. The 8-10 cm leaves were harvested in May of 2019 from 15-year-old plants. It was also roasted for 5-6 hours at a temperature of 70 degrees. Fired for no more than 10 minutes it is considered to be a medium-fire oolong.

This tea contains a high level of caffeine | Steep at 212° for 2-3 minutes.

Upon opening the bag, it has a slightly stronger dry grass smell than my other English black teas, with a markedly less malty scent. It’s not unpleasant, and something about it does bring to mind some high-end Chinese restaurants I have eaten at.

I did one airy tablespoon in 500 mL of 212 degree water for three minutes.

Plain, it tasted like a typical black tea, although a little more grassy and less malty. I didn’t taste the chocolate notes. It’s a very nicely soothing tea while being full-flavored. I like how it’s only slightly acidic on the tongue, and there are no bitter notes even though it’s a strong cup of tea.

The tea was excellent with American style coffee cake. It wasn’t as good a pairing with Japanese cookies. I didn’t have Chinese food on hand to eat with it, but I could see how the slightly acidic, grassy flavor would be a good compliment with something salty and saucy like fish with black bean sauce.

However, I just tend not to like black teas without milk and honey, so after one cup plain, I tried a cup with milk and honey. It was terrible—the tea suddenly tasted like drinking damp grass and I threw out the rest of the cup.

Overall, it was a rather good cup of tea, if you like plain black tea. Since I don’t, it was only a nice tasting experience, but not a tea I would reorder for myself.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Goals for 2020

I’ve had a good start to the new year so far, but haven’t sat down to think about my goals until now.

I love setting New Year’s resolutions. Some people think that’s weird and I know all about the low probability of keeping resolutions, but I still like to make them. It makes me feel positive about myself and the upcoming year, and for me, that just feels good.

So I came up with some goals/resolutions for the new year that I hope to keep.

1) Three novels in 2020

Since I write full-time, this isn’t an unrealistic goal for me. Last year, I was still suffering from several bouts of writer’s block. Some was because of personal issues, but because I got nothing done during that time, it then made me doubt what I should be writing. I ended up flipping between several different projects as I tried to figure out what I wanted to work on, and the indecision itself also triggered writer’s block when I tried to write any particular project, because I wasn’t certain if that project was what I should be spending my time on.

But in mid-2019 I was able to break through my last bout of writer’s block as I finally decided what I wanted to work on (my Regency Lady Wynwood’s Spies series) and also how I wanted to structure the series. Once the indecision was gone, I was able to get words written and finished the rough draft of Lady Wynwood’s Spies volume 1 on November 2nd.

The hard part about figuring out the structure of the series is now done, so writing the other books in the series has been easier. I finished a rough outline of volume 2 in December and started work on the manuscript.

Based on my writing speed for volume 1, I think that four months to write a book isn’t too hard for me. My writing speed has been even faster when I started using dictation, but I’m still getting used to that and my words per hour rate isn’t consistent yet.

2) Daily Editing and Word Count

I started trying to do a daily editing habit, which I’ve never done before. Usually I’d just edit my manuscript all in one go after letting it sit for a few weeks, but since I detest editing, I found myself procrastinating early in December. When I started my daily editing goal, I found myself more likely to edit a scene or a few pages every day and make some progress. I’m hoping to finish editing Lady Wynwood’s Spies volume 1 and have it ready for release in February or maybe early March, depending on how things go with my graphic designer for the cover. Once I finish editing that, I’ll start editing the beginning of volume 2 even if I’m still working on the rough draft.

I also am utilizing what I learned about writing sprints last year to do a daily writing sprint so that I’m doing at least a few words every day, no matter how busy the day gets with family or home stuff. Normally I have several hours for writing, but lately I’ve been trying to clean the house up after the craziness of the holidays, so I’ve been spending time on housework instead. My writing fell by the wayside for a week, but I’ve started the habit of writing again. Some days I only get 500 words done, and other days I get a few thousand. I’m making progress, which is what’s most important.

I’m also still working on tracking my writing statistics to optimize my writing process. I started this last year, tracking the length of my writing sprints and words per hour rate, but this year I’m also tracking how long each process takes, including the research I have to stop and do when I’m editing the manuscript, the outlining I have to do if I’m writing the rough draft and come across a plot hole, and planning a detailed scene outline before I write each scene. My words per hour might be fast, but those other things take much more time, so I want to know how efficient (or not) I’m being. I hope to have a good understanding of my process by the end of the year so that I can write more quickly.

3) Blogging three times a week

I won’t lie, I dislike marketing. It might be because marketing feels like me running around naked shouting, “Look at me!”

But I enjoy blogging—I had only blogged occasionally during my writer’s block phases, but ultimately I really do enjoy it. So I decided to focus on blogging since I’m not great at Facebook or Twitter or Instagram. I’m going to try to blog 3 times a week and see how that goes. I have lots of knitting projects I want to blog about, including some things I knit because I was inspired by the Regency series I’m writing.

4) One short story a month

This is related to my blogging goal. I want to write a short story each month to post on my blog. I enjoy writing short stories, especially from picture prompts, but I often found myself hesitating if the story genre wasn’t something I usually wrote.

This year, I am giving myself permission to write whatever I feel like. I’m also aiming for flash fiction rather than longer stories, unless I feel motivated to expand a story idea.

5) One devotional a month

This is also related to my blogging goal. I finished a Bible study on the book of Luke in 2018, and I want to use my notes on that to write some devotionals that I can post on my blog. Eventually, if I write enough devotionals, I’ll collect them in an ebook and print book, and I’ll also hire a translator to translate the book into Japanese.

I would really like to release another Japanese devotional that I can give to the non-Christian Japanese women who come to my church outreach ministries. Because of my personal issues and writer’s block and just some unforeseen problems, I was very bad about finally releasing the devotional in Matthew that involved several other authors, so this time I think I’ll just write all the devotionals myself so that I don’t leave the contributors hanging like I did before.

6) Spiritual accountability

I wasn’t terribly consistent with my daily Bible reading last year, although I did manage to complete a lengthy study on Genesis. So my new resolution is to be better this year and do my quiet times every day.

I started doing the devotionals in the YouVersion app on my phone again. Some of them are really good, and I’ve given myself permission to stop any of them that I don’t particularly care for. I have started a Bible in a Year devotional which I’ve enjoyed so far, plus it gets me in the Word and not just reading other people’s words about the Bible.

If you’re also using YouVersion, be sure to look me up and add me as a friend! I’ll add you back. It’ll be fun to see everyone’s daily Bible reading.

I also have been reading My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers again this year, this time using the My Utmost app. I have always loved this devotional book because he focuses on complete surrender to God, and that’s something that really resonates with me spiritually. The hardest and best parts of my relationship with God have been related to complete surrender.

Consistency

I suppose the majority of my goals for 2020 involve consistency—in writing and blogging, in my quiet times. I love the beginning of the year because all my goals are shiny and new, and the year is full of potential. I have great motivation to create good habits and the year looks bright.

What are you goals for this year? Feel free to comment to share them. Also if you’d like me to pray for you, feel free to share that too.