2017: A Wrap Up

Three-hundred-and-sixty-five days is a long time, despite the fact that it often feels like a single day passes me by in the blink of an eye. And a lot happen for me in 2017. Both when it came to writing and to life in general. Sometimes when I’m in the middle of a rough spell, I forget how much I’ve accomplished. So this kind of post is a good way to remember the successes of the past year.

Here are the big things that I did in 2017:

The Map (March)
In 2016, I participated in the Collaborative Writing Challenge’s mystery project, The Map. The project wrapped up for the writers in September 2016, and the book was published in March of 2017. The eBook copy arrived in my email shortly afterwards. Over the summer, I ordered a paperback copy from Amazon for my “brag shelf.”

Attended ConCarolinas (June)
I talked myself into buying weekend passes to ConCarolinas in March as an investment in my writing career. I didn’t know where I was going to be job-wise and didn’t know if my introvert-slash-hermit tendencies would allow me to go. But it worked out, and I had an amazing time. Not only did I learn a ton during the panels, I credit my experience as giving me the confidence to submit a short story to an anthology.

“The Monsters of Bear Mountain” Accepted into Down with the Fallen (August)
A ConCarolinas panel on short stories inspired me to find anthology calls for submission, and I stumbled upon Franklin/Kerr Press’s call for post-apocalyptic horror. I wrote and revised “The Monsters of Bear Mountain” over the course of two months before submitting it. About three weeks later, I received an email saying that they had accepted my story. I couldn’t stop smiling for a whole hour after reading it.

Enrolled in College Again (August)
After serious soul searching about what I want to be when I grow up, I decided to enroll in classes at my local community college. I wholly believed I was overestimating myself when I signed up for five classes in addition to working full time. But I not only managed to keep up with my classes, I ended the semester with a 4.0 GPA.

Down with the Fallen Published (November)
Franklin/Kerr Press’s Down with the Fallen anthology–which included my short story–was published on November 7th. But what I’ll remember even more than release day was when I received my author copies in the mail. It was a couple days before the release, and I must have flipped through the book a dozen times. Seeing my name and my story was so surreal and amazing.

Finished Knitting a Poncho (December)
I started my first big knitting project in November: a poncho. I’d only worked on scarves before because they were so simple, but I wanted to accomplish something bigger. Something usable. While it’s not perfect by any measure, it’s complete and is something that I’m insanely proud of. I crafted it with my own hands. There are few things cooler than that.

A Month of Not Blogging


It’s, uh, been a while. Lots of stuff’s been going on, between writing short stories and a new job and hopefully heading back to school this fall.

Life’s in motion. More so than I’m used to, but I like it. Well. Except for the part where I’m not blogging as much. It really hasn’t felt like almost a month since I posted anything in this space, but it has been.

There are a couple posts that I’ve got chilling in the green room, basically ready to step onstage. And I’ve got a handful of post ideas that I’m raring to get writing.

Since it’s about 9:30 on a Saturday night when I’m writing this and I’m already starting to fall asleep, I’m going to wrap this post up. It’s short. It’s sweet. It’s to the point. I will end by saying that another great place to keep up with me is Twitter where I’m @SEStone519. I livetweet the Travel Channel’s Ghost Adventures and retweet pictures of cute puppies. And I’m always looking to chat with new people over there.


Goodbye 2016, and Hello 2017

Fun Fact: My parents used to tell my brother and I that the New Year started at 8PM on December 31st. It wasn’t until one of my friends pointed out that midnight was the magic hour when one year turned into the next that we convinced Mom and Dad to let us stay up.

I still stay awake until midnight, though the adult in me is often tempted to crawl under the covers before then. It was the same this time around: I fought keep my eyes open while watching the ball drop in Times Square.

There was ample time–of course–to reflect on 2016 and to look forward to 2017.

It wasn’t a bad year on a personal level (which I feel a bit guilty about since it turned out to be a dumpster fire as a whole). I accomplished my biggest goal of the year: moving to Charlotte, North Carolina. I’ve wanted to move south ever since graduating college, so this was a major deal.

Then there was the Collaborative Writing Challenge. I wrote five chapters in total for The Map and Eslyd’s Awakening, and four of those chapters were chosen to go in the books. Plus I wrote a starter chapter for a CWC project that I decided I liked too much to submit and will be writing the novel this coming year.

And I downsized my Goodreads Reading Challenge from previous years (30 as opposed to 52), which turned out to be a good thing because I finished it with a couple days to spare.

Instead of doing resolutions for 2017, I’m setting goals.They are primarily writing-related. I’ve already outlined what I want to get done this year, and it includes two novels, three short stories, finishing a novella, and revising said novella. It’s a lot. But I’m up for the challenge. I’d also like to get back to a regular schedule for blog posts.

I plan on tackling another Goodreads challenge, keeping up my tradition of visiting somewhere new, and putting myself in a position where I can buy a house in 2018.

What’re your plans for 2017?  I hope you had a Happy (and safe) New Year’s Celebration!

Image result for new years

Update on My Goals for June & July

Wait, it’s not June anymore? Or July? Crap.

I created a list of things to accomplish by the end of July way back at the beginning of June. Since the calendar now reads August, it’s probably time to take a look back at those goals. See what I accomplished. And what I didn’t.

Goal 1: Finish Bay View Outbreak, Part 2
Despite making a bit of progress on the second part of Bay View Outbreak, I didn’t finish it. I battled with the plot for the most part of June and moving to North Carolina took over July. The file has sat unopened on my hard drive for a few weeks. It’s on my list to finish this fall; just not quite yet.

Goal 2: Finish & Edit Chapter 1 of WolfsBane Moon for the Collaborative Writing Challenge
I finished, editted, and submit WolfsBane Moon to Project 6 of CWC. Though I hit a bit of a hiccup when it came to it becoming a potential Chapter 1 for CWC. The person who runs the program asked to make a small change to the chapter that would completely alter the story’s universe. It was then I realized that I liked this story too much to let it go into the wild, wild west of CWC. So I withdrew it and will be writing it this fall. Oh, and I changed the title: A Court of Wolves.

Goal 3: Write Chapter 16 of The Map for the Collaborative Writing Challenge
Chapter 16 of The Map required me to get 2,000 words in a Word Document before a set deadline, and deadlines do wonders for my productivity. I wasn’t entirely happy with it when I finished. But I submitted it anyway. The story coordinator decided to put it into the book, so I guess that it all worked out.

Goal 4: Write, Edit & Post 4 Blog Posts
Technically, I got this done. My original plan wasn’t to count book reviews and to post on my Boston to Charlotte blog as well. But still, I’m glad that I’ve been able to continue this blog with only minimal interruptions.

Goal 5: Finish Edits on The Shed
The edits–including the brand new ending–are done. I’m pretty happy with how the majority of the edits turned out and with how the story now ends. Now my challenge will be to stop picking at it and tweaking things here and there. It’s going up on a critique website so other writers can provide a bit of feedback. Then after ONE more round of edits based on the feedback, I’ll start shopping it around.

Taking into account how busy my life became with the whole “moving to a different state”, I’m satisfied with the results of this personal challenge.

Have you set any goals this summer? How’s your progress going?

New Look

This blog has had the same look/template for quite a while, and I’ve never been 100% happy with it. So tonight I decided to change it up. I’m sure that I’ll be tweaking it over the next few days and/or weeks. I also plan on eventually getting a new author picture and figuring out an original header.

I like this new blog template. It’s a whole lot cleaner and streamlined than the previous one.

Let me know if you have any suggestions for what I should post for the header. I’m thinking maybe a notebook near the ocean or a notebook in the forest.

Walker Stalker Con ~ Boston

On August 22nd, 2015, the Walking Dead will invade Boston. It’s not a big issue though since they’re only here for the weekend before they move on to Philadelphia. Walker Stalker Con is the convention focused on AMC’s The Walking Dead coming to Boston this summer. And I’m going to be there.

It’s not a writing convention by any stretch of the imagination. But this zombie con is a heck of a research opportunity. Apart from the panels (judging by last year’s schedule) on zombie culture and featuring actors and creators from The Walking Dead, there’s the cosplayers.

Potentially thousands of people dressed up as zombies will be walking around the hotel and Boston. It’ll be the closest I’ll probably ever come to walking through a horde of zombies (and I won’t have to worry about getting bitten). I may even get to talk to cosplayers to see if I can take reference photos for when I work on my zombie stories.

Have you been to a convention? Was it a writing one or focused on something else?

Monthly Monday Update: November/NaNoWriMo Update #4

What I’m Writing

I spent the majority of November working on my new novel, what I’ve decided to call the “Blood Tithe Project” for the time being. As I mentioned last month, I didn’t do a whole lot of preparation for this novel. So the story surprises me a whole lot, and the first two sections gave me a good idea of the structure. I certainly didn’t realize that each section would be about 15,000 words, giving me an estimated final word count of 90,000. That’s a bit daunting. However I did write 30,000 words during NaNo, so that’s only 60,000 more words to go.

Apart from writing those 30,000 words during NaNo, I finished writing the novel I started for Camp NaNoWriMo all the way back in April. I mentioned in my first NaNo update that I wasn’t too thrilled with the main character not rising to the occasion. Despite that, I’m excited to get back into the novel and start editing in a few months.

What I’m Reading

Reading NowLeft to Die by Lisa Jackson

Reading Next: Not sure yet.

In Other News…

National Novel Writing Month concluded yesterday. While I didn’t write 50,000 words, I’m still proud of the more than 35,000 words I did write. Here’s my final, fourth update for NaNoWriMo 2014.

How many words did you write this week? 1,377
What’s your biggest accomplishment this week? I managed to get a bit of writing done in spite of the Thanksgiving holiday and working on other writing projects.
Do you have a favorite scene so far?  I wouldn’t say that I have a favorite scene. There are a number of scenes that I like.
Do you have a scene that didn’t quite meet your expectations? There have been several. I just keep reminding myself that I can always change things in the next draft.
Are you sticking to your outline? So far, yes. I still haven’t found the outline, and I’m going to need it soon because I’ll be starting a new section tonight.
What’s your writing routine? Writing hasn’t happened this week.
Have you been keeping up with other writing commitments? I finished them for the month.
Total NaNoWriMo Word Count So Far: 35,738
Words to Goal: 14,262
Days Remaining: 0


How was your November? Did you finish 50,000 words? Or did you end up a bit short?

Monthly Monday Update: October

What I’m Writing

I didn’t spend any time planning a brand new novel for NaNoWriMo, didn’t really touch the story from Camp NaNo back in April, and procrastinated until the very last minute on all of my freelance projects. Vacation brain/Disney World withdrawal might be partially to blame.

I decided a few days ago that the story I outlined with the purpose of being a serial here on the blog was going to be much too long for that. So that story, which I’ve taken to referring to as the “Blood Tithe” Project, will be part of my NaNo this year. The reason that I say part is because I’m going to take advantage of the “must write everyday” in order to finish the Camp NaNo novel. It’s only a few thousand words away from the first draft being complete, so I want to get it done.

What I’m Reading

Reading Now: Nothing at the moment

Reading NextThe Ripper’s Wife by Brandy Purdy and Three Little Words by Maggie Wells

In Other News…

It’s National Novel Writing Month! Are you working on a novel this month or do you have another project that you’re giving extra special attention to?

Monthly Monday Update: September

*Pops off of a plane slightly sunburned after a trip to Disney World* Hey guys! Sorry I’ve been absent. A whole lot of stuff has happened this past month, and I can’t wait to tell you all about it.

What I’m Writing

I’m still writing for both The Gary Forbes Foundation and Today I Found Out. I was getting better about managing my time to get everything done, however vacation at the end of the month has thrown everything out of whack. The internet at the hotel was (to put it politely) challenging, so I couldn’t get anything done. But that just means I have to put in the hours over the next few weeks to get everything done.

The biggest writing update is that I’m now working as a stringer (aka freelance journalist) for a couple of local newspapers. Both articles I’ve done so far have been published in print, and one is also online. I’m planning on writing up a couple articles about the whole experience over the next few weeks.

I’m still working on my April NaNo novel. With everything else going on, that was pushed to the back burner.

What I’m Reading

Reading this Week: Midnight Dawn (finally!) I’m planning on reading it at night until I finish the stupid book. I’m also going to be picking up a YA book for the book review soon.

Reading Now: Nothing at the moment

Reading Next: I have a book from NetGalley that I need to read and review. Unfortunately, the file isn’t cooperating with my Nook, so that means I have to read it on the computer. I’ve done that before, and it’s not the most enjoyable experience. But it needs to get done.

In Other News…

This blog is going to undergo some changes during October. I’m planning on changing up the layout a bit and having scheduled weekly posts. So keep an eye out for new things during the next few weeks.

How did your September go? What did you accomplish?

Monthly Monday Update: August

Hey guys! *waves* I decided that I’m going to switch things up with “What I’m Doing Mondays” and transform them into “Monthly Monday Update”. I’ve been irregular with those update posts because I feel like I’m repeating myself with them each week. So I’m going to post one super update at the beginning of every month rather than four little ones.

Now, without further ado, here is my Monthly Monday Update for August!

What I’m Writing

My writing projects this month have been all over the place.

In July, I became a freelance writer for the website Today I Found Out. I’m writing two articles a week for them, and I love the variety in the work. I’ve written about topics ranging from why fire hydrants don’t freeze to the Centralia Mine Fire to calculating the maximum occupancy of a room.

I’m still writing YA book reviews for The Gary Forbes Foundation, but I seem to be writing them a whole lot faster than they’re being posted. Three reviews were posted last month: CinderGone, and The Princess Diaries.

The YA novel that I started back for the April Camp NaNoWriMo is within 13,000 words of being finished (so close that I can practically taste it). I’ve neglected it in favor of the paying Today I Found Out articles, but I am determined to get it finished in the next couple of weeks so I can devote October to NaNoWriMo preparation.

What I’m Reading

Read this Week: I read Fear: 13 Stories of Suspense and Horror for TypeOneTwo.org.

Reading Now: Girl in Reverse by Barbara Struber

Reading Next: Honestly, I need to finish Midnight Dawn on my Nook. I’ve had it for over a month now and simply haven’t sat down to finish reading it. Part of the problem is that it’s the second book in a series, and I haven’t read the first book. I’m not completely lost. Just lost. I’m determined to finish it, though. So I’m going to make time to get it read this week.

In Other News…

I started a Youtube channel called Sarah Reads & Writes that I’ve uploaded three videos to so far. I have two videos that I need to edit and upload (let’s just say they’ve been sitting on my SD card for over a week). Plus there’s a video idea that’s been floating around my head for a few days that I’m excited to film. I think it could be pretty cool to do this week.

What have you been up to for the month of August? Have you accomplished any goals or reached any milestones?