I did drop off the face of the earth for a bit there, didn’t I?

In the past, I would write, edit and format my blog posts all in a single evening. Because I rarely have a chunk of time long enough to do that anymore, I thought I’d break it up this year. Write, edit, and format separately. That way I could, in theory, break each post up and work on it here and there instead of needing a big chunk of time. Except what happened instead is that I have a lot of blog posts written and edited… but haven’t gotten them formatted and posted yet. And several were timely, and now it’s too late to share them at all.

Part of the problem is that I have completely revamped how I work this year so I am always working on the most pressing, productive thing I can be. Add to this that I don’t have a lot of working hours to begin with, and there’s rarely time leftover for blogging.

So I have neglected you, dear reader, and for that I am sorry.

But I am back now with lots of things to share because, while I have not been blogging, I have still been busy busy busy!

Let’s get all caught up, shall we?

First, let’s start with what’s new!

New Writing Book!

How to Start Writing and Building a Writing Life

I’ve been talking for ages about compiling the decade + of material I’ve written for NaNoWriMo from writing craft to pep talks into books, and that’s finally becoming a reality! I designed this new How to Start Writing series to be the ultimate beginner’s guide to getting started with writing, and I’m incredibly excited to share it with you. The series will cover building a writing habit, prepping for a major writing project, strategies for moving forward when you are stuck and more.

The first book in this series is available for pre-order now! Building a Writing Life, based on my popular talk of the same name, is the perfect entry-level guide for anyone who’s always wanted to write but never know how to get started. The eBook version is up for a special pre-order price of under $1 right now. This price will increase once the book is released, so take a moment to lock in your price right now.

And tell your friends! I have had so many people ask me to turn this talk into a book mostly so they could gift it to that friend or family member who has always wanted to write and needed that final push to get started. If you know an aspiring writer who’d enjoy this book, make sure they take advantage of this special launch price.

More retailers and paperback pre-order coming soon!

Pre-order Here

Speaking of spreading the word, if you think you’d like an advanced copy to read and review, please let me know. Retailers like Amazon won’t even display books in search results unless they have a minimum number of reviews and I want to make sure I give this book its best chance of success by getting as many people out there talking about and reviewing it as possible.

I’ll be blogging excerpts from Building a Writing Life as we get closer to NaNoWriMo so stay tuned!

And expect an announcement about the second book in the How to Star Writing series before the end of the year!

New Plays!

I already told you about The Fourth Orange and other Fairy Tales You’ve Never Even Heard Of, my beautiful, funny love letter to bedtime stories and weird old fairytales which is now available electronically. I hope to have more information for you about the upcoming paperback edition and the publication of the individual one-act tales before the end of the year. In the meantime, though, if you need paperbacks for a production or classroom study, email me, and I can hook you up.

I also finished two new short plays this year I am incredibly proud of. One is a twisted take on one of the most famous poems in American literature, and the other is a family-friendly comedy about storm preparedness, a topic close to all our hearts these days! While I’m not making them publicly available for a few more weeks yet, if you, dear reader, want more info or a free perusal copy, you need only let me know.

New Tricks!

I’ve been expanding my repertoire! I took a great class with TYA legend Sandy Asher earlier this year and now have several younger plays in development for toddlers, elementary school and family audiences. It’s the natural progression to my writing career, particularly since younger audiences have always sought out my plays even though they’re a bit inappropriate. But it means expanding into a whole new market and rebranding myself not just as a writer of slightly naughty plays for high schoolers, but an author for all ages.

It’s exhilarating but also terrifying. And while I can’t say anything just yet about this new material, I hope to have some announcements for you about that soon!


The new NaNoWriMo site is launching any day now, and I’ve been hard at work getting events scheduled and doing everything to make sure my region is ready to roll for November. NaNoWriMo is always a ton of work for me because I’m an ML and, while I love it, I’ve had some trouble with it in the last few years. It’s been tough to balance my role as an ML and being a participant chasing my own writing goals. I’m hoping to remedy that this year by taking more time to prepare in October to hopefully make this year’s challenge as inspiring for me as it is for my Wrimos.

What else is going on?

“It’s a rebuilding year!”

When I sat down at the start of this year and planned out my lists of what I HAD to do and WANTED to do, I realized I had so many things I HAD to do, I probably wouldn’t get to many of those stretch goals I WANTED to do this year which was slightly soul-crushing. But I hit the ground running because I realized that every project I checked off my Have To Do list meant another passion project I could hopefully add to the slate.

The problem came when I started to make some real progress on my Have To Do list at the start of the year and got cocky. This is a theme in the life of Hillary, a hubris that often proves my undoing. I decided that the goals I set at the beginning of the year weren’t ambitious enough and upped them ridiculously. This only led to disappointment and frustration in myself when I couldn’t hit these new impossible goals. This was all very silly because I was still on track with the list of reasonable goals I initially set and would have been fine if it’d just left well enough alone.

I have a few other writing projects to do, and then I’m nearly done with the three big administrative projects I have to finish by the end of the year. They were a lot of work and very much needed to be done, but I’ll be glad when they are off the list. It’ll be busy right up to the end, but the good news is that next year should be less about rebuilding and catching up administratively and more about getting to dip back into that list of things I want to do.

Am I still really frustrated that I didn’t finish any of my passion projects this year? Am I annoyed every single second at how long it takes me to do anything these days and that I haven’t gotten more done? Very much yes but there’s nothing I can do about that since I’m barely hanging on as it is.

Sleep and Time

I’ve got 99 problems, and they are all basically the same problem: I am not getting enough sleep. Thanks to a rat king of annoyances at home, I’m getting way too little sleep for a human to function and it’s a problem. Add to this that I am trying to keep two careers afloat on less than part-time hours and you see the problem.

Am I making the very most out of what writing time I have? Yes. Could I use a heck of a lot more time to take some pressure off? Also yes. Is there more time in my schedule? Haha, no, not at all. eye twitches

And the central issue is the solution to both the sleep and time quandaries is coming in a few years… but that is little comfort when I am struggling to function now and not sure I can hold out that long. Not to mention that the future has never felt less certain (world on fire and all) and that all adds up to not really a great mental place to be in.

So that’s a pure mess.

But at least my kids are cute!

My kids are very much the best. Such amazingly smart, funny little cuties. The big one is back to school and, while the baby and I miss her during the day, it’s nice to get some one-on-one time with my Smalls. I am not exaggerating when I say that the snuggly nap we take together in the morning is the highlight of my whole life.

So now you’re all caught up!

I didn’t want to launch right into promo for Building a Writing Life without filling those lost months, but now we’re all on the same page, and it’s time to look forward.

I’m taking another writing class for the next few weeks and doing some final launch stuff on Building a Writing Life which should take me to the end of September. Then it’ll be a ton of NaNoWriMo work, prep for the projects I hope to write in November and then scurrying to finish the last few things on my Have To Do list before NaNoWriMo. Then it’s the holiday madness of December and the year is over!

It feels weird to look at 3.5 months ahead of me and think, “Whelp, guess I’ve pretty much done all I’m doing this year!” but that’s where I am right now because I know the rest of the year is going to just absolutely FLY by with everything going on. I don’t want to sabotage myself by setting goals I can’t realistically hit so I’ll just have to be content with wherever I am by then.

One thing at a time

A theme for this year was that I wasn’t going to pay attention to word count or set a specific goal for how many projects I finish this year. Instead, I would focus on a few things at once and then move onto the next when I finished them. Overall, this strategy has worked really well. The problem comes when I look ahead at the long list of things I thought I’d have finished by now and realize it will be a long time until I get to them at this rate.

But get to them I will, and that’s what I need to keep in mind.

But what are you waiting for? Go pre-order my new book!

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