November 2020 Update

It’s been a while since my last update, but this time it’s not due to anxiety or a lack of news, but because I can’t use my computer at the moment. I’ve ordered a new laptop (I’d been postponing it for years), but it won’t arrive until New Year, maybe.
During these two months I have participated in both the reading challenge I mentioned and a writing challenge on the Spanish side of Twitter. I made a Twitter thread for those of you who might be interested:

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

On this blog, you might have seen I made a new page for my WIPs. Organizing things visually for my blog helped me organize things in my head as well, so it’s been really useful. For real! I even check my own WIP page from time to time to remember what I’m working on.

I’ve also been reorganizing my Scrivener projects while I wait for my new computer to arrive so I can transfer everything and start working as soon as it’s here. I made another short thread about it here:

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

I always feel like I don’t do enough because I’m a slow writer and haven’t even started with the drafts, but I realized that, when it’s about my friends, I always tell them that taking notes, working on the outline and doing research also count as writing. I usually don’t check the word count, but I did it now in order to see for myself how hard I’ve worked during this last decade… and I must confess that the results surprised me.


Here is a list of the words I’ve written so far on each project, including research, notes, ideas, etc.:

  • Heroes: 14000
  • Fireflies: 8500
  • Brothers: 19000
  • Alcalá: 5000
  • Oracle: 99000
  • Academy: 15000
  • Feathers: 8700
  • Sanctuary: 6000

I know it’s not much, but that’s a lot for me, especially after these difficult years. So if you’re also a slow writer or just don’t appreciate the work you do, I recommend to look at the whole picture from time to time. All your work matters and you’ve put in much more effort than you’re giving yourself credit for.

Since I cannot use my computer, I’ve been writing a lot on my notebooks and I finished my 11th notebook recently. I’ll make another post to talk about it in more detail.

So, to sum up, I chose some achievable goals last time, but I’m still glad I completed them. My next two goals will be to finish reorganizing my projects and transcribing my 11th notebook so I can transfer everything when my new laptop arrives.

"November" written with dead leaved on the ground.
Photo by Maksim Goncharenok on Pexels.com

Writing Projects

I’ve talked about my projects before in this post, and I’ve given more details in my notebook updates, but I keep losing track of my ongoing projects because there are so many of them. I saw Spanish authors sometimes have a Future Projects page on their blogs, and I decided to copy the idea because, if it’s difficult for me… no one else would be able to follow, right?

Anyway, I’ve created a list, and now each project comes with a provisional placeholder title, a short explanation and a free stock image. Being able to visualize my projects like this is amazing, and I’m already looking forward to working on them again, so I’m glad I did this.

Hope you like it too!!!

A wolf.

Feathers

A High Fantasy short story

This one is short and has very few characters. Animals, magic and loneliness are important.

I’m working on the outline, but let’s be honest, I’m not a plotter. If only inspiration would take me here…

A volcano erupting against a starry sky.

Oracle

A High Fantasy Romance

This is my longest and most ambitious project, and the first one I started plotting. It’s been years in the making, so it’s had lots of changes, and it will probably have many more before I’m done with it.

It’s going to take a while because it’s a looong story with slow-burn and pining.

Madrid's Plaza Mayor.

Brothers

A Historical Romance

This one will also be set in Spain some centuries ago. If all goes well, it might even have more than one book, each featuring a different couple.

I’m already working on the research phase of this project, but I still don’t know how long it will take.

Want to see more? You can browse through all of them in my new “Projects” page here. And I’ve added the link to the blog’s menu, so you can check them out whenever you want.

September 2020 Update

I’m back with an early update because this blog has been too lonely since June. July was a productive month, actually. I started reading and writing again, and even filled a whole notebook with new ideas, but then I was too tired and overworked to do anything else.

The summer holidays were good and necessary, but I tried to do too much to make the most of the lockdown situation. In the end, I didn’t do even half of what I wanted to do, mainly because I have listed all the stuff I haven’t been able to do in years. Obviously, a short summer holiday wasn’t going to be enough.

But let’s go back to writing. I’ve started to second-guess all those life-or-death decisions I never feel 100% sure about, like using first or third person narrator… or having more than one POV… I sometimes feel like, with every notebook, I take one step forward and two steps back. I try not to overthink, but I can’t help it. I tell myself (and others) that a good story is a finished one, but I haven’t been able to finish anything. I feel like I’ve lost track of how many stories I’ve started. So I’m going back to setting goals.

In the following month, I want to try participating in the Spanish #LeoAutorasOct challenge, which means I will read stories published by authors who use she/her pronouns (yes, NB authors who use she/her pronouns are included). There’s a bingo, too, but I might cheat a bit and cross out more than one option per book. I say cheat, but is it really cheating if the rules state that it’s allowed?

My other goal will be to make a list of future projects. I saw it’s a thing that some Spanish authors do and hopefully it will help me remember what I have in mind because I keep losing track of everything. And lockdown isn’t helping.

I hope you all had a nice summer, and remember to get the flu shot if you can!

Bicycle in the center of a path through the forest. The trees are tall and have green leaves, but the ground is covered with fallen leaves.
Photo by Dominika Roseclay on Pexels.com

Tenth Notebook

Kimmidoll notebook with a grey cover with green plants and a pink bird. There is a grey ribbon bookmark attached, and at the end it has a kimmidoll wearing a kimono with the notebook's pattern.

I got this Kimmidoll notebook ages ago, when they were still slightly popular, and the pages are already yellowing. The notebook actually fits inside the grey cover, so it could be reused for another notebook, but I don’t have any other notebook that can fit inside.

Anyway, I filled this one with lots of notes because I’ve been doing some research, reading about writing Romance, the history of Madrid and mythology. I also found some notes about how to cope with lockdown, mental health and self-care.

Remember I said I’d decided to write and read what I enjoyed? Well, I was enjoying reading non-fiction, since I’ve always loved learning, and I’ve been writing some random scenes out of order, and it’s been good. I haven’t been writing the story I wanted to finish, but I have for the longest High Fantasy one I’ve been thinking about for years. I started wondering, again, whether I should have one, two or more POVs, so it will take much longer to write.

I’ve come to accept that this is how it works for me. It will take me a long time to finish anything, but if this is what I need to keep enjoying it, that’s what I’ll do. If it sounds like I’m trying to convince myself, it’s because I am, but I’ve realized that, after deciding I’m going to take my time and follow inspiration, I started writing more in my notebook. I finished it sooner than I expected and I’ve already started another one, so this new method might be working!

Yes, I write less often. Yes, I write only what I feel like and don’t try to focus on one project any more. But somehow, I’m also writing more than when I was trying to force myself to write daily for the same project. So maybe this is my method.

Maybe you think I could have posted this sooner given I finished the notebook so fast, and you’d be right. I had planned to post this back in July, but I’ve been too busy at work and didn’t have time to finish transcribing the notebook. I just can’t sit down and stare at a computer for so many hours. It’s not good for my mental health.

Anyway, now I’ve finished this, so I can celebrate and move forward!

June 2020 Update

Last “monthly” update was April because I skipped May’s. I guess there wasn’t much to tell. I was still unable to read, but I did write a bit and started a new notebook. I had some free days and, although I spent them in lockdown, I’m sure they’re the reason I was able to relax enough to keep writing despite the anxiety.

I decided that I’m not going to focus on finishing anything at the moment because I’m no good at it. If I feel like writing a scene, that’s what I’ll do. If I feel like doing some research, that’s great. I’ve just decided not to care if what I’m doing is good or useful. I just want to enjoy what I’m doing.

In June, work has been busy, but I’ve been able to concentrate more. Maybe I’m getting used to working from home, but I’m still too exhausted to write afterwards and I definitely don’t want to stay all day in front of the same computer.

Compared to April and May, I’m feeling a bit better now, but maybe I’m misremembering because the bad times have passed… I did have some some dark moments that required an emergency therapy session. I’m doing much better now, though, so I’m focusing on that!

At least I’ve been reading again, which I take as proof that I’m doing better.
I realized I was unable to enjoy new books, so I’ve been re-reading some old favourites. With the help of my book recs posts, I’ve been able to make a rather long list of books I want to re-read. Since I didn’t even want to re-read books when I was at my worst, this is a good sign for me.

Let’s hope I can keep it up during the month of July!

Blue butterflies among mushrooms.
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Book recs – Year 5

This will be the last of these posts, because we’ve finally reached 2019. I may start yearly book recs posts next year if you’re interested, but this is it for now. When you see the list, you’ll notice that last year was very difficult for me and I needed shorter books and lots of feel-good stories.

If you’re looking for something different, feel free to ask in the comment section or check the posts I made for the previous years. Here you have year one, year two, year three and year four.

And last, but not least, here are the best books/series I discovered during my fifth year as a Romance reader:

  • Red, White and Royal Blue: Another fun read, this time a New Adult novel that probably you all know and love by now. In case you don’t because you’ve been living under a rock, it answers the question of what would happen if, in an alternate universe, the son of the President of the USA fell in love with the Prince of Wales. It may not be very realistic, but it’s enjoyable and it made me happy, which is what matters most at this moment.
  • Briarley: A Beauty and the Beast retelling. The main character is a parson and a veteran from the First World War. He gets lost in the British countryside and ends up in a cursed mansion. When he’s about to run away, he sees the perfect roses by the gate and picks one for his daughter. Briarley Hall’s dragonish master accuses him of theft, and in the end the parson decides to stay and help him and his servants break the 100-years curse by getting a dog.
  • Team Phison: If you like Contemporary, you’ll love this series about a tender couple who meet while playing videogames and fall in love little by little, as they learn to face their insecurities and the age gap between them. Any of the two books has a deeply satisfying ending and I loved the couple’s found family, so give it a try if you need something soft and cheerful.
  • Salt Magic, Skin Magic: John Blake is an industrial magician who can befriend and listen to inanimate objects. He’s investigating a young and dissipated nobleman, looking for proof that he’s using magic for nefarious purposes. Fortunately (for John’s heart, at least), it turns out the attractive nobleman is the one under a mysterious spell that prevents him from leaving his father’s estate. But does the spell come from the fairies, curses, a hedgehog?
  • In Other Lands: A hilarious YA novel that mixes our world with the Borderlands, where mermaids, elves and unicorns live. The characters are very fun to read and show a very well-developed growth through the years. I especially enjoyed the matriarchal society of elves; its depiction always made me laugh out loud and startle people around me.
  • Unfit to Print: Somehow related to the KJ Charles books I read during my third year (there’s a book written by one of the MCs). New and diverse characters. One of the MCs is a lawyer, the other sells pornography. They’re forced to work together to solve a murder and a disappearance, hoping they’re not too late to save the second boy who has gone missing. The main obstacle is not the case, however, but I don’t want to spoil it for you.
  • Abroad: Very interesting New Adult duology about a Russian Jewish immigrant who discovers his sexuality while he’s studying abroad in London. The story uses other three POVs (the others are his black boyfriend and his bisexual best friend) to treat serious topics like immigration, racism, homophobia and mental health.
  • Smoke Signals: Very fun story about a dragon who is a game hoarder and the customer support employee who has to install all of his platform’s videogames because the dragon has just learned there are digital games he didn’t know about and needs to own all of them as soon as possible. It’s short, so I don’t wanna spoil it, but I assure you it’s fun.
  • No Rulebook for Flirting: A novelette set in Spain, with a trans MC and lots of board games. Low conflict and a very happy ending that was exactly what I needed. Very recommended for those who want a short romance with banter, flirting and a comforting resolution.
  • Signs of Love: Very interesting idea, using zodiac signs as a basis for creating the characters and exploring different tropes with each couple. The result is a fun New Adult series that appeals to all kinds of readers. You’ll find very sweet characters with cute and light-hearted love stories that are easy to read and will make you laugh.
  • Regency Imposters: A new series by Cat Sebastian. Don’t judge a book by its cover, because this series is also brimming with queer characters. As always, very good anxiety representation and wonderful deep characters with the most exciting and sweetest love stories in this Historical Romance series where things (and people) are never what they seem.
  • Dark is the Night: Probably the darkest series I read last year, so please feel free to ask about CWs if you want. Apparently it’s YA, but I didn’t realize when I read it, so I’d say it’s a Paranormal Romance set in a haunted boarding school with very real and very dangerous ghosts, as well as other darker mysteries. Very likable MCs and very despicable villains.

Because isolation, depression and anxiety are now affecting all of us, I thought it would be a good moment to share my favourite reads from last year. When I was having a hard time and feeling guilty for not being able to read the way I used to, these books helped me feel better. You’ll notice I enjoyed shorter reads, mainly with light and fun romances, plus many of them are YA or NA. I hope everyone can find a book that will make them feel better, be it from this list or elsewhere.
Take care and stay healthy!
Happy Pride!

April 2020 Update

A bit late, but I wanted to finish transcribing my ninth notebook before I wrote this, so it’s taken a while. Since my last update, I’ve gone back to work (now from home) and realized I suffer from what I’ve seen people call Quarantine Brain Fog. My sleep pattern is in a what-is-a-pattern state, I forget all sorts of things (words especially) and, even though I’ve never been able to comprehend linear time that well, right now time has no meaning whatsoever.

One good thing that came from all this is that I’ve been putting my mental health first, so I’ve stopped writing from Monday to Saturday. From Monday to Friday I try to focus on my job, then I get upset because I can’t, and then I try to rest until I feel well enough to go to sleep. On Fridays and Saturdays I’m exhausted. So it’s not until Sunday when my batteries have recharged enough for me to write. And I’m enjoying it when I do, it’s just… I can’t do it while I’m working.

My goal now is to keep writing as long as I’m enjoying it. And that happens when I’m well rested, so I’m making sure I rest a lot after work. The difficult part is not feeling guilty. Although it somehow feels easier now that we’re all in it together. Knowing that this is a normal reaction to the pandemic and quarantine and that I should be careful with a few specific things helps a lot. People share their experience and advice everywhere, even on newspapers, and I’m more aware of my emotional state, even if the ups and downs are always unexpected and I can’t read anything right now.

So yeah, it’s been a slow process, but I’m writing, and even though I only write for some hours on Sundays, I managed to fill the second half of a notebook. This is more than I’ve written in the past 5 months, so I’m thinking I should accept this is my new pace. Although it’s slow… if it works, it works.

A male robin with pink flowers on the background.
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Ninth Notebook

Blue notebook.

If you were looking forward to seeing more posts about notebooks, you might have noticed it’s been a long time since my previous one. I was going to say this was due to me catching up with the present once I finished my eighth notebook, but then I realized it’s been 10 months.

Of course, I had several months of non-writing because… we can call it writer’s block because I don’t know if it was anxiety, burnout, depression… or all/none of the above. Plus, I don’t want to bore you with the details.

What I wanted to tell you is that this notebook was a present from one of my best friends, who has always supported my writing. The cover is smooth and water resistant, and there is a little secret:

Blue notebook with a colourful fore-edge.
A decorated fore-edge!

I started it last September, and I did mention the notebook in my update back then. I thought I was going to finish soon, but life happens. I managed to meet my goal of reaching the middle of the notebook in October, but I didn’t even post an October update. I started writing again in March, so I’ve finished the other half of the notebook since then. It’s a welcome change.

Anyway, about what I wrote in it… Remember I said I wanted to focus on one or two of my unfinished stories and finish them? Well, I did remember, but I didn’t do it anyway. I started working on them, but then I had some interesting ideas for a different one, so I had to write those down. As a result, this notebook is again a representation of my inner chaos and I haven’t finished anything at all.

Still, I’m glad I’m writing and having ideas again, so I’m not really complaining. It’s hard to come up with words these days, so I feel fortunate for this tiny, flimsy light in the middle of the dark.