Well, hello to you, dear reader!
Welcome to my first monthly newsletter! Only… two weeks later than I promised.
I’ve really struggled to find a way to keep everyone updated on my life and progress because I have a weird relationship with social media. I keep thinking, “is this really worth posting?”—and then don’t post anything. Or I post my weekly accountability, which is meaningful to me, but boring to everyone else.
So, I decided to create a blog/newsletter. How old fashioned, I know!
If you want to get these in your email next time, you can:
So, what have I been up to this March?
Book #2 Out to Beta Readers!
I’m so excited to share this book. I started it way back in 2012, when I was researching the Estonian resistance to Soviet rule. I came across a fact that blew my mind: 4 openly Jewish Finns received the iron cross for service to the 3rd Reich. I went down a rabbit hole of research, and wrote 20 000 words of a novel, but then ran out of steam.
The book has changed dramatically since then (of those 20 000 words, about 200 made it in the current version), and has turned into a unique take on what happens when you make a deal with the devil.
I really feel like there’s something special about this book. Not only do I feel much more confident in my writing, and have learned much more about crafting a story, but I also feel that the characters and plot are exciting and fulfilling. So far, my beta-readers agree. I can’t wait to finish this book and share it with everyone. Of course, since I’m going to try to get an agent for this one, if everything goes well, it’ll be on shelves in 2024.
Book #3… in Progress!
I pushed myself really hard to finish book #2 on time, and burnt out some. Three weeks later, I got my good habits back and I’m hard at work on my 3rd novel! Not quite putting out as many hours as I’d like, but I’m getting there.
This one has been super fun to write. My first novel really pulled hard at the heart-strings. My second novel is a deal with the devil. My third novel… has a lot of tension, but really is just designed to bring joy. To be fun. Of course, it’s my writing, so expect lots of weird philosophical discussions (it’s my brand). They’re just fun ones!
My goal is to get it out to beta readers by the end of the year, at the latest. Hopefully earlier!
I’ve also applied for a writing grant for this novel. Tried to balance the proposal between “putting in enough work that they can tell I’m serious” and “not putting in so much time it actually takes away from writing.”
To deal with burnout, I’ve been playing my favourite map-painting simulator, bringing new meaning to Greater Finland (this makes it relevant to my novel, right?)
I also finished playing Cyberpunk 2077, which I started back in January when I was recovering from Christmas burnout.
This is my life, going from burnout to burnout. But I’ve become better about it! I’m now only burning out every other month, instead of every month!
(That’s only half tongue-in-cheek, haha).
In April, I started playing Dragon Age Inquisition. Which is a nice, easy game that I can play between writing.
I made a delicious birthday spread, making my first pound cake (the bundt pan was a birthday present) and Japanese milk buns for the first time. It came out pretty amazing! The milk buns are already a staple of mine.
Also, for St. Patrick’s Day, I made chocolate chip cookie shots. They’re not quite as photogenic since I rushed them and poured the milk in before the chocolate coating had completely set. But they were delicious.
I also made a delicious banana bread and an ice cream cake! It was a fun month for baking.
One of my goals for the year was to hit a 1575 pound powerlift. My bench has stalled at 355 for now, and my deadlift at 525, but my squat hit 585 this month, and I should be able to go up to 590 next month! 6 plates (585 pounds) has long been a goal of mine, and I’m so glad I was finally able to reach it!
Rugby season is starting soon (though technically it’s already started; I’ve just been focusing on my powerlifting until outdoor practices since the indoor practices are on the other side of the city) so I’m looking forward to using this increased power on the pitch! And I’ve toned up since last season, so I should be faster, too. Bingham cup, here I come!
Easter is one of my 3 least favourite times of year. Having 3 partners means there are 4 families to deal with. As an autistic introvert, it’s not fun. But I survived!
Kale went to New York to visit his family, so I missed him. But visiting Bren’s, Fan’s, and my family was enough to burn me out. Thankfully, not as bad as Christmas, which took about a month to recover from.
I started working with a new editor, Laura McGill, and I really feel like she gets me. She focused in on so much of what’s important to me. I want to craft books that you can pick up and read and enjoy because they’re emotionally evocative and entertaining to a wide audience, but that you can read again and again and get something new each time as the complex interplay of ideas becomes more understood. She has thorough knowledge of story beats and systems, which I wish I had really understood 10 years ago when I started writing book #2. If I had, I would have understood why the book seemed to be going nowhere—because it was.
It was The Quantity of Desire that really taught me the importance of those story beats, and I started learning them after I finished the first draft. So I always felt like some problems were just baked into the structure (but that is the way of first novels). I’m hoping that this is a relationship will continue for a long time.
Books I’ve Read
I’ve been reading some fun books lately. I’ve been going through the Watch series, so Guards! Guards! and Men at Arms. Both really capture the fun-loving mystery spirit that I want to for my novel (though mine has a bit more tension. I also read Outer Dark, and while I don’t fully agree with Cormac McCarthy’s stylistic choices, I must confess, he is a master of language. I’m going to read a few more of his books now, just to really understand how he feels language works.
For some lighter (or less research-related) reading, I really enjoyed Forging Hephaestus, which has fantastic characters (though I think it should have been divided into two separate books) and Out of House and Home, which has my favourite utterly uninteresting vampire accountant, Fred.
To round out my reading, after listening to Sanderson’s Writing Excuses for a couple years, I finally read one of his books, Final Empire. I understand why he took the fantasy world by storm 15 years ago now: his world and characters feel so fresh after the same old fantasy novel again and again—one of the main reasons I stopped reading fantasy after High School. I also read A Darker Shade of Magic, which really grabbed me from the opening. I felt both were a little light on theme for my taste, but that’s a personal thing, and not a criticism of the books.
I’ll do another one of these at the beginning of June! I’m planning to have made solid progress on novel #3 by then (maybe even have a name!). My goal is to hit about 4000 words a week, writing for an hour every morning and an hour every evening. Wish me luck!
I also need to actually set up my Patreon. I don’t expect to get any subscribers right now, but, hey, maybe there’s someone who’s rich who really loved my first book? It could happen!