March 2021 Update

I’m very happy I swapped one of my goals with February, because I had more time to focus on the timelines during this month. I was meant to start working on them and shaping them, but some of them took very long, especially Oracle, Alcalá and Brothers. because they take place during a longer period of time.

You’ve seen I’ve shared a new illustration and a new blog design, but there’s more I’ve done during the month: I’ve finished beta-reading a book, I’ve finished the draft of the second chapter in Feathers (which took a lot of effort, because I’m very bad at second chapters), I’ve added some ideas for a possible Sanctuary sequel, I’ve rearranged the setting of Alcalá and Brothers so they will be closer in time, I’ve contacted my country’s National Library to find a document I was looking for, and, last but not least, I’ve upgraded to Scrivener 3.

And now I guess it’s time for my word-count check, because it’s already been two months since the last one:

  • Heroes: 22000 (It was 20000 two months ago.)
  • Fireflies: 21000 (It was 17000 two months ago.)
  • Brothers: 42000 (It was 24000 two months ago.)
  • Alcalá: 45000 (It was 18000 two months ago.)
  • Oracle: 128000 (It was 120000 two months ago.)
  • Academy: 33000 (It was 30000 two months ago.)
  • Feathers: 20000 (It was 8700 two months ago.)
  • Sanctuary: 40000 (It was 35000 two months ago.)

I can’t quite believe they’re now all over 20000! Allow me to remind you that these numbers include everything I write, not just the draft. In fact, everything I’ve written for Alcalá and Brothers in these two months is related to the timelines and research. But I’ve found it’s better to count everything, because writing is not only making a draft.

By the way, is this update too long? Would it be better if I posted a different update for the word count?

Anyway, to sum up, I’ve managed to fulfil my goals at the very last minute, but that’s more than enough. Next month I want to spend some time adapting my Scrivener 1 projects to Scrivener 3 (including the master template I’m making) and to finish a couple of reference files I’m working on. See you in April!

Lonely tree growing in the center of the horizon surrounded by stars. Everything is reflected on the water
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

New design

I had meant to leave the Canva header for a while, but the text didn’t work well in all devices and I was feeling energetic this weekend. So I got all of my used notebooks and the one I’m using at the moment… and took some photos to create a new personal header.

I hope you like the photo I’ve chosen! You’ll notice I’ve changed both the header and the blog’s palette, and I think it looks a bit better now, but please let me know if the background is too dark for you or if it makes reading difficult for any other reason.

A photo of 12 notebooks, all different, over a purple background. There are white and violet LEDs decorating the notebooks.

Art – Chibi characters by Helen Kord

As promised in my previous art-related post, I come bearing more art! This time, it’s a pair of chibi characters that belong to the Fireflies Project:

A boy with brown hair (left) and a redheaded boy (right) looking and smiling at each other. The one on the left is wearing a black turtleneck and black trousers while he holds a ginger cat. the one on the right wears a dark t-shirt that once belonged to the other man and a red jacket with rainbow-coloured details. He's petting the head of a brown labrador sitting between them.
The dog and the cat are also looking at each other, and the cat is softly booping the dog with a gentle paw.

Fireflies was supposed to be a Low Fantasy short story set in Madrid, but I don’t know how long it’ll end up being. I think I mentioned it is set in northern Spain and animals are important. As you can see, they’re so central to the story they’re even pictured here. These are the pets that belong to the main characters (also pictured in this image), and I hope you find them as deadly cute as I do!

The artwork was done by Helen Kord, the person with the most impeccable taste I’ve ever met. Please do check their work and commission information in the following links:

February 2021 Update

Turns out that my two “achievable” goals of the month were not as achievable as I’d thought. I’m still too busy at work and I haven’t been able to concentrate on something as complex as a timeline, but I’ve done other stuff instead.

As promised, I’ve shared one of the pieces of art I commissioned, proving that I’d fulfilled my December goals. And I’ll share more of them soon!

I’ve discovered Canva, which I’d heard about but hadn’t tried yet, and made a new header for the blog. And yes, I might have been procrastinating and making fake book covers for my WIPs as well, but some authors recommend to do fake Canva covers (and pinterest boards, but I don’t have pinterest either) for motivation, so I was going to add it as one of my goals for March… I guess I’ve just swapped goals!

I’ve also been writing a lot for my Feathers Project, and I’ve even started writing Chapter Two’s draft. Second chapters are the most difficult to write for me because they’re usually some sort of transition, and I have to fight the urge to infodump. It’s so difficult that, at the beginning of February, I was taking notes for a sequel, even though I haven’t finished the original story yet, because my mind was too cluttered to think about the second chapter.

I finished an outline, realized I now have Chapter One drafts for four stories, which is very encouraging, and tried not to write after working long hours.

To sum up, I fulfilled my two new goals for the month of February: I updated the character templates with the information from the reference files I created for artists an I created a new header and covers on Canva. Next month, I’ll try to implement timelines to all my WIPs and to beta-read a book. I’m looking forward to it already!

Have a nice weekend and enjoy the last days of February, everyone!

Close-up of a pink rose.
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

New header

I’ve been learning how to use Canva for free, and I wanted to show you the new free header I’ve created for my blog. I wanted to add some text on the right, but unfortunately the tablet and mobile versions of the blog cut both sides, so I had to center the text and delete the tagline.

Now that I know what happens, I might go back to a picture without text in the future. I could maybe take a new photo of my notebooks, now with more variety and better quality. Or maybe I should create a new Canva header with a focus on the center of the image.

What do you think?

Violet flowers on top of an open book
WordPress header created on Canva.

Art – Concept Art by Cascuda

Happy Valentine’s Day!

One of my goals last December was to commission art for my unfinished projects. I was trying to find some motivation to keep writing after a very hard year, and I decided it would be the perfect Christmas present to myself.

And today I can finally share with you the first concept art I commissioned for the Sanctuary Project:

An underground lake with an island in the center. There are two characters on the nearby shore, separated by a river. One is short, blue and transparent, the other is tall, dark and wears a cloak.

This WIP was going to be a High Fantasy short story full of atmospheric vibes and aesthetics, but it might end up becoming something a bit longer. As you can see, the story will be set partly underground and feature characters from different species. I created it as a counterpoint to my other projects, so it started as something short and fun to write, precisely because it was so different. I recycled tropes from my other projects, but subverted them, and I tried to keep it light… but it has become something longer and more serious than I originally intended.

But let’s talk about the most important thing: the amazing artist of this illustration is Cascuda, and you can find all their amazing work and commission information clicking on the following links:

January 2021 Update

Happy New Year!

Or, at least, I hope this new year will prove to be better than the previous one.

Regarding my previous update, I’m happy to tell you that I achieved both goals: I’ve published the list with my 12 favourite books/series of the year 2020 and I’ve commissioned a couple of artists. I hope I can show you their amazing work in the following months!

Working on the reference files during January has been very useful, since I’ve been able to clear my mind and fix some issues. I’ve done a lot of research, and I feel that I’ve overcome some obstacles and moved forward. Some days were a bit frustrating, because I spent hours looking for a document that, in the end, didn’t have the information some historians claimed it had. But I guess discovering what’s a rumour or a fact is also part of the process. I rested a bit after that exhausting experience and then I went back to writing. I even wrote some scenes (completely out of order, as always) and now one of my stories has a beginning and an end.

At the moment, I’m letting the new information and ideas marinate for a while before I continue, so I did some word counting again. The first time I did it was two months ago and I was surprised at the results: I’d written much more than I thought! I usually hate word-counting, but this is a more general approach, and I also include all the notes and research files. I think it’s good to acknowledge that, even if not all our work will be part of the final story, it still counts. So I went and checked Scrivener, and this is how it’s going:

  • Heroes: 20000 (It was 14000 two months ago.)
  • Fireflies: 17000 (It was 8500 two months ago.)
  • Brothers: 24000 (It was 19000 two months ago.)
  • Alcalá: 18000 (It was 5000 two months ago.)
  • Oracle: 120000 (It was 99000 two months ago.)
  • Academy: 30000 (It was 15000 two months ago.)
  • Feathers: 8700
  • Sanctuary: 35000 (It was 6000 two months ago.)

I can’t believe I’ve written so much in such a short period of time! And there was a noticeable increase in all projects but one because, as I said, I can’t follow a chronological order. In any case, I had my holidays during lockdown and did all that research for the reference files, so don’t expect this rhythm from me in the near future. Although I can’t help but notice that I’ve been doing better now that I don’t force myself to complete one single project from beginning to end, so I’m going to follow this chaotic approach until it stops working.

I’ve decided I don’t want New Year resolutions this year either because they only make me anxious and guilty, so I’m still keeping my eternal goal of fulfilling The Pact to Finish Something (with no deadline). Plus, my two Achievable Goals of the month will be to implement timelines in my projects and to update the character templates with the information from the reference files I created for artists.

Do you have any New Year resolutions? Are you recycling last year’s resolutions?

Blue fireworks against a black sky.
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Book Recs (2020)

You all know by now that I love reading and sharing my happiness with others, so sharing my favourite books of the year is a must for me. Especially this year, when it’s been so difficult to read and finish books with all the terrible things that have happened. This was my sixth year reading Romance with LGBTQ+ characters, so I bring you some pretty good recs, I think. Enjoy!

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

And here you have 2020, or year six:

Book covers of my favourite 2020 reads.
  • Winterbourne: Another series by Joanna Chambers, whose books I recommended some years ago, when I published the first recommendations. This series is historical as well, and very seasonal, so it’s a good time to read it. The main characters belong to different classes and wouldn’t have to cooperate if it weren’t because the mill owner’s brother is about to marry the aristocrat’s sister. Of course, starting a secret relationship is the easy part: the hardest thing is to keep it secret… when you’re snowed in with your relatives for Christmas.
  • Lilywhite Boys: Just assume that I’m going to add all books by KJ Charles to these lists. I have yet to read one I wouldn’t recommend. This series is basically about betrayal and deceit, so prepare to be amazed by the mystery and the plot twists. The Lilywhite Boys are three men who work together to steal jewels, but find themselves in the most unprofitable position of falling in love with the protagonists of these three books.
  • Page & Sommers: Only one book has been published, but Cat Sebastian is another of my favourite writers and I know I’m going to love the whole series, so I invite you all to join me and read the first book already. If you love a good Historical Romance or a good Mystery Romance… why not both? Here you have a spy, a country doctor with PTSD, and a murder they have to solve.
  • Lucky Charm: Another author I recommended on my last list, but this book is very different from Team Phison: a deaf actor from the silent films era discovers a childhood friend is burgling his home. As a compensation, the burglar accepts to steal a lucky charm from a director who has fired the actor. This is a short story, so it was perfect to read during lockdown, when I couldn’t concentrate enough to read longer books.
  • Magic in Manhattan: A new author who has become one of my favourites! I’m really enjoying this series that mixes Fantasy, Romance and Historical. Well, you know that’s my favourite mix, but when it’s done right it’s just… *chef’s kiss*, and Allie Therin does it right. Loved the characters, loved the Manhattan 1925 setting, loved the villains and how the magic worked… and I’m looking forward to the third book of the series!
  • The Craft of love: Yet another author that has returned to my rec list. “The Craft of Love” was the sweet novella I needed during lockdown. The main characters are a cis bi woman who is a quilt maker and a trans man who is a silversmith. There’s a lot about craftsmanship and mutual admiration in this Historical Romance that will make your heart feel warm and cozy.
  • The Greenhollow Duology: Another superb debut author with a series that mixes Fantasy, Romance and Historical. If you like forests, the Victorian Period, myth, legends and folclore, you will love this series. Also, these are novellas, so they’re easier to read for those of us who are not able to keep our concentration for a whole novel at the moment.
  • Something Human: This book is set in a Fantasy world, but I swear it feels like it’s a Historical setting. It’s a true enemies-to-lovers in which two survivors of a battle find and help each other after being enemies on the battlefield. Of course, the two of them are wrong to assume that keeping their own secrets will help them keep their distance as well and, in any case, their friendship and budding romance have an expiry date, and that day is approaching.
  • Rath and Rune: Of course I had to add this series by another of my favourite authors. This is a Whyborne & Griffin spin-off, also set in Widdershins, but they’re so different that I just had to add it on this list. Whyborne and Griffin are not even in Widdershins while the series takes place, but it’s been wonderful to go back to a place that feels like home. Plus, we get to see how the Ladysmith Museum works, and the main characters are a librarian and a bookbinder. I could cry! I might have cried! Not because it was a sad book, but because it was so good.
  • The Last Kiss: I’d enjoyed Sally Malcom’s New Milton series, so I was looking forward to her first Historical Romance, and it did not disappoint. You might think the aftermath of the First World War is not a very cheerful setting, but this book is full of hope and happiness, even through all the terrible difficulties the three main characters have to face in order to achieve their happy endings.
  • Proper English: This is a spin-off novel that focuses on the lesbian couple from “Think of England”, but again it is so different that it deserves its own mention. First, because it’s not part of the same series, and second and most importantly, because it’s the first F/F novel we get from KJ Charles (there was a short novella before this one), so it deserves proper recognition… because Pat and Fen are back to solve another murder! Well, this book actually takes place before the events in “Think of England”, so it should be the other way round, but you know what I mean.
  • Feminine Pursuits: I’m sure you all knew about Olivia Waite, but she has been a discovery for me thanks to this wonderful F/F Historical Romance series that focuses on the jobs that were or weren’t available to single or widowed women in the Regency Period, and the general difficulties of living in such a repressive era, especially as a woman. The level of historical detail in this series is astonishing.

Are my lists becoming more personal as the years go by? Maybe, but with everything that has been going on this year, I didn’t feel like making a post that was too formal, so I hope you enjoyed the fangirling.

Just a reminder that these are 12 books I’ve read and enjoyed during this last year, but they might have been released before 2020. As you know, I had reader’s block for a few months, and I managed to overcome it temporarily by reading (and rereading) more books by some of my favourite authors.

As always, let me know if you need any particular CWs, or if you want more personal recommendations.