Another weird year comes to a close.

Writing has been just as difficult in 2021 as it was in 2020, for much of the same reasons, plus a few more. Thankfully, I was able to get vaccinated against COVID-19 early in the year (and then the booster) and kiddo got a second dose of the vaccine last week, so my stress levels in regard to COVID are much more manageable now. Kiddo not being able to get the vaccine was my biggest concern for most of the year, so now that’s out of the way, I feel like I can finally relax, even with the new variant circulating. It’s been a huge weight off my chest.

Healthwise, I took a hit early in the year between a stomach ulcer and then a rapidly failing gallbladder, which meant a lot of medication, a lot of doctor visits, sudden severe weight loss, one ER scare (I swear I thought I was having a heart attack), and finally, surgery to remove my gallbladder in June (and it was very bad by that point; they literally found necrotic tissue in my gallbladder afterward). It took me a good six weeks to recover from surgery before I felt like myself again, and I still have pain from my surgery scars now and then. Diet has been a fairly easy adjustment, especially since I had to basically eliminate all fat from my diet for the months before my surgery. I can eat more than I did before, but I still have to be careful, or else I get sick. So while I don’t have to nitpick every ingredient every time I eat anymore, I still have to be smart about it. No entire bowls of cheese dip for yourself, Brooke. While it was a pain to have to go through, I’m in much better health now.

Between stress over COVID and kiddo being back in school, and then my health problems for the first half of the year, I didn’t get a lot of writing done, as you can imagine. But I did manage some. I did a lot of work on my homebrew Dungeons & Dragons campaign, which I’m still running (we’re about halfway through the first arc). I kept up with my writing blog each month, and posted on my gaming blog when I could. And I finally started rewrites on BLOOD OF SALT, TEARS OF PEARL in earnest, making decent progress in the latter half of the year. Obviously, I wish I could have done more, but considering everything on my plate this year, I’m proud of what I did accomplish.

I didn’t read as much as I would have liked, but I feel like I’m making up for it now. I’m averaging a book every two days right now (sometimes a single day), burning through a variety of murder mysteries. I got in a bit of a reading slump at the start of the pandemic, and I’m only now getting to the point where I can read for pleasure again.

Accomplishments in 2021

This year I…

  • Started rewrites on BLOOD OF SALT, TEARS OF PEARL
  • Finished rewrites on Part 1 of BOSTOP
  • Survived a traitorous gallbladder and surgery
  • Finished reading 12 books (D&D material excluded) so far
  • Ran an ongoing D&D campaign (21 sessions so far!)
  • Kept up with both my blogs and my livestreams (though Patreon fell to the wayside)
  • Took care of myself and gave myself permission to rest when I need it
  • Learned how to make a damn good pie crust
  • Leveled up my baking skills (I made choux!)
  • Treated myself to some much-deserved kitchen upgrades
  • Walked a mile nearly every day (when I wasn’t sick or recovering from surgery)
  • Solidified some nebulous story ideas for future projects

 

Word Counts

First, month by month, then by project:

January: 8,425
February: 10,548
March: 8,868
April: 1,670
May: 3,551
June: 2,031
July: 3,697
August: 16,376
September: 12,835
October: 1,162
November: 2,553
December: 2,897*

Previously Uncounted: 12,680

2021 Total: 87,293*

*including this post

BLOOD OF SALT, TEARS OF PEARL: 13,565 26,245

I am scratching the first number because it is flat out wrong, despite that being what my tracking notes say I wrote on the project. I finished Part 1 of BOSTOP at 26,245 last month. The only thing I can blame for the discrepancy is that for several months, I didn’t track any of the words I edited. I just wrote “?” for the word count. So this is what the “Previously Uncounted” words come from.

BLOG / NEWSLETTER: 12,774
CARTRIDGES & CATACOMBS GAMING BLOG: 8,468

I don’t keep up with this as much as I would like to, but it’s been a weird year for gaming for me too.

D&D: 38,039

Absolutely wild how much work I put into D&D this year.

PATREON: 772

Patreon fell by the wayside this year. I just can’t keep up with posting there on top of everything else, which is why I drastically scaled back this year, and from now on, it’s basically a tip-jar to support my writing expenses. Maybe in the future, I can expand it again, but for now, I’m putting it on the back-burner.

OTHER: 995

Not a ton of extra work this year. I did do a little bit of brainstorming on some different projects, which is where this comes in.

 

Goals for 2022 (and beyond)

My goals for the coming year are very straightforward:

  • Finish rewrites/edits on BLOOD OF SALT, TEARS OF PEARL
  • Send BOSTOP to betas & implement feedback
  • Query BOSTOP
  • Read more books

This is what I feel I can actually accomplish, barring any more health problems or pandemic lockdowns.

But, if I can, I would also like to:

  • Maybe start another project

As for what that project is… I’ve talked a little bit about my epic fantasy project STARCALLER (more so last year than this year). It’s morphed a bit over the last year, and I’m considering a much different approach to the whole thing. Instead of a chronological series with one big arc, I’m thinking of breaking the whole thing up into individual stories that are connected but are ultimately separate from each other. Same world with a bit of overlap between plots and characters, but not necessarily happening one after the other. The alternative is one gigantic epic sprawled across all of the characters and plots and multiple story arcs in chronological order, a la Game of Thrones, and that seems like a nightmare.

The plan at the moment would be for a five (or six) book series. Each book will follow its own storyline and set of characters in the same world, with a little bit of overlap, with the final book tying everything together. So, not necessarily a series of standalones, since they’ll build off of each other, but more of a loosely connected series. I don’t know if that explains it very well. Essentially, it will be like five origin stories and then a big ensemble with all of them at the end. If that makes sense. I have solid ideas for three of the stories so far. Still working on figuring out the others.

The first one is tentatively titled THE TOMB OF FALLEN KINGS, featuring an archeologist main character whose mentor goes missing and she has to unravel the clues he left behind. The other two ideas I don’t have tentative titles for yet, but one will be about a grizzled old warrior woman who is appointed as the young queen’s personal bodyguard as she seeks to ascend to sainthood, and the other will be about an exiled prince traveling to the realm of the dead to bring back his brother. The remaining stories, I haven’t settled on yet. I know one will feature a healer main character whose forest home is dying, but not much beyond that really.

Whether or not I actually start this epic fantasy project next year is unknown.

I have a few other ideas for standalone stories I want to work on too, including a cozy mystery and a contemporary fantasy that may take precedence depending on how I feel after finishing BOSTOP.

And I also have a couple of books that have been on the backburner for some time that I may revisit, namely, the sequel to THE GUILD CONSPIRACY, titled REBEL ENGINEER, which just needs a solid editing pass, and DARK LORD IN TRAINING, my middle grade fantasy that’s been about 75% finished for several years now. Again, I think it just depends on how I feel after finishing BOSTOP whether I want to dive into something completely new or finish one of my older projects.

Or maybe I’ll just take a long, well-deserved break.

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