As a writer, I do also love to read. I would say that my genre of choice is typically fantasy or science fiction, but I deviate from that all the time. Ultimately I am just looking for a good story with characters I can fall in love with.
I purchased The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson twice actually. The first time I bought it was during an Amazon Kindle promotion. As I started to read the first chapter, I longed to have the paperback in my hands.
So far I am really enjoying it. At first I was nervous that the slow pace would keep me from staying interested. But what this book really does is deliver character and worldbuilding detail that entices you to absorb each and every word.
I won’t mention every single book I am reading here, but I felt like a book of this epic proportion deserved a shout-out. If you’re really that interested in what I’m reading, you can follow me on Goodreads.
As The Way of Kings is a giant book, I plan on taking my time with it
Finally, I will leave you with a photo of my tuxedo cat. I set my book down for just a moment, and he decided to use it as a pillow.
What book are you currently reading, or recommend?
I’ve been a bit behind on working on art lately, but I uploaded a few stamp designs for the Christmas season. Two of the designs (the Santa Claus and Christmas Tree) are geek inspired, made as pixel art. You can buy any of these stamps through my Zazzle.com store.
Fun fact: The Christmas Tree design was actually part of a drawing I made a year ago that I used for my own personal holiday Christmas cards. This holiday card had pixel versions of my husband and I, along with our pets. I wanted to make the Christmas tree available to others, so I started by making it available as a holiday stamp.
I want to wish all of you a wonderful Holiday season. I hope it brings you joy, love, and peace.
It’s been a while since I could say I finished a first draft to a book. I tend to simultaneously work on multiple projects at once. In a way, it’s a blessing and a curse. I love being able to have so many ideas going on at once, but sometimes I wish I could stay a little more focused until a project is complete.
The most recent book I finished drafting is a children’s chapter book inspired by the classics that take you to another world such as Chronicles of Narnia and Alice in Wonderland.
Naturally it is my hope that the story portrays significant deviation from these classics, but this is where some of the inspiration has come from. I can’t wait to share the title and more about this book in the coming months once I get further along on the editing process.
The first draft is 25,000 words, which is shorter than I’d like it to be. After doing an initial skim, I’d like to add another 3,000-5,000 words to make it approximately 30,000 words for pacing and description purposes. According to the Reader’s Digest’s article, “Word Count for Novel’s and Children’s Books“, middle grade books average around 20,000 – 55,000.
As this book is projected to be for children around ages 9-11 or so, I think 30,000 words will do just nicely.
Now that I am done with draft one, I will be taking a break away from the children’s book and will be working on wrapping up a couple of other writing projects.
One project will be switching over the title and book cover to Alone I Walk. It took a long time for me to come to this decision (and it wasn’t an easy one), but I felt in order to properly convey the tone and genre of this science fiction novella I was going to have to make the change. In addition to the title and cover change, I will be making improvements to the narration.
One thing I can say is, finishing the last word on a first draft feels great. It doesn’t matter how long or short a story is, just knowing you hit a milestone is enough to generate another spark of motivation.
Back to the children’s book, one plan I have for it is to hire an artist for about 12 black and white illustrations scattered throughout the book. Once I hit around draft 3 I will be revealing the title and perhaps a quick excerpt. I can’t wait to share more! If you’d like to be a beta reader drop me a note.
How long of a break do you take in between finishing your first draft and doing a round of edits?
I felt compelled to write a quick post about this because I am ecstatic about the announcement of the new album by Enya, Dark Sky Island.
I loved Enya’s music from the first moment it hit my ears. The first song I ever heard was, “Orinoco Flow” when I was in elementary school. I soon fell in love with the entire album Watermark around middle school. As stated in a previous post on how music fuels my writing, Enya has always been the go to music for me when I write. Of course I listen to all kinds of music when I write depending on the story, but Enya’s music allows me to go into a really deep trance and focus on what I am trying to accomplish.
I wanted to point out that I predict “Echoes In Rain” is going to be a huge hit and will be a song the mass general public, beyond Enya fans, is going to know well. I just got a really strong feeling about this one!
I saw the video for the first time when it was at 3,500 views on YouTube (yes, I’m a fan girl). At the time of this writing the song has 276,000 views on YouTube. It may seem small compared to other videos that go viral, but one thing about Enya’s music is it is timeless. It’s not going away. Someday I know I’ll go back to “Echoes In Rain” on YouTube and see 4 million views on it.
The entire album, Dark Sky Island will be released November 20th, 2015. It can be pre-ordered on iTunes and Amazon. (Disclaimer: I do not have any affiliation with Enya, nor do I receive any affiliate revenue from these links.)
So without further ado here is my new favorite song by Enya: “Echoes In Rain”
If you’re new to Enya and are looking for a few of my top favorite songs to download, these are some of my favorites (links direct to YouTube)
One thing that inspires my writing above anything else is music. Not only do I need the right music playing while I write, songs have actually inspired entire book plots and scenes.
For example, the Memory of Treesalbum by Enya inspired an entire plot of events for a book.
Typically I acquire inspiration from random things such as ancient stories, a twist on an existing story (I think about the what ifs of a scenario), a person I’ve met, a life event, or a dream. Then there are other times that I am begging my mind to muster up an idea.
When an idea hits me, it hits really hard.
No matter how ideas come to me, they all share a common factor.
I need to be listening to the right songs to keep the fuel going for the story.
The right music is like the soundtrack to my stories. I even set up specific playlists and name them after the stories I am working on.
I have a hard time writing in the dead silence. I do know a few authors that say they write in complete silence or with some form of white noise. I am not one of them. Typically, though, I cannot write to songs with lyrics. There are exceptions to this rule, however.
Here’s a handful of songs I listen to while I write.
In a previous post I mentioned that I was working on a baby book.
This is still true, and I’m thrilled to finally be able to reveal a couple of pages of art.
The book is being illustrated by Minneapolis based costume designer and artist, Stacey Palmer. I’m also very fortunate to be able to call her my sister.
The book was originally illustrated by me 13 years ago, but I never was happy with the artwork. Though I too am an artist, I work more with vector and pixel art. I saw something very special in Stacey’s watercolor art style that perfectly matches the feel to this book.
All of the art is made by watercolor on an 11×17 sheet. Once the painting is complete, I scan the image and do some color correcting for reprinting. Some color is lost when it’s scanned, so I have been going in on a paint program I own with watercolor brushes to touch up the images.
The original watercolor artwork is about half done. In total the book is 26 pages. Once the watercolor pages are complete I will finish the color enhancing and then format the text and images into a book. Ultimately I want this book to be a board book, but at this time I only have the resources for softcover, eBook, and possibly hardcover.
So there you have it! I am very happy with how the book is coming along and can’t wait to share the rest of you.
About thirteen years ago I wrote a baby book in my children’s illustration class in high school. I wrote it for my nephew, who wasn’t yet born. I didn’t know at the time what I was getting into. After writing the book, my teacher asked me if I ever considered getting the book published beyond just the self-publishing our class was doing. I shook my head, never once giving it a thought.
As my friends and family continued to have children, the book kept coming up in the back of my mind.
I kept wishing I had the book ready to give out to people.
There were a couple of things that kept the book from happening
1. I knew the art just wasn’t right.
I spent maybe a week on the original art. After all, it was just a project for school. I never originally intended for it to be published for an audience. I did the whole book in colored pencil. There are a few pages in there I still think are cute, but most of the drawings are just not what I ever would publish.
2. How would I publish the book?
13 years ago, there really was no such thing as cost effectively self publishing a book. Sure it was possible, but it was risky, especially with someone who was heading to college. I didn’t have the money to risk printing 500 or 1,000 copies of a hardcover book I couldn’t get people to buy. Print on demand didn’t exist.
For a long time I forgot about the book too.
Collaborating with my sister for the art, and adjusting the manuscript slightly, this book is actually going to be released for everyone to read.
I would love to give more information out on this project. Any marketer (especially for books and video games) will tell you not to keep your projects secret. They’ll say, “You have a bigger chance to be noticed if you talk all about your project as it progresses.”
And despite being a marketer myself, I am going to go against that rule for this story. I held this book in for 13 years, with only a few family members seeing it. I can wait another few months.
Once we have a set of artwork completed, I will release the images and give more information on the story.
In the mean time, if you are a book reviewer that wants to be first in line for a copy, you can fill out the form onthis page.
If you’re not a reviewer but want to be the first to know any updates, you can contact me directly at
contact [at] jmwenzel [dot] com and I will be sure to send you an email once I have more info.
Update: First look for the art can be seen on this post.
I have so many ideas going on through my head it is has been a blessing and a curse.
It’s been a blessing because I never have a moment when I go, “Now what?”
Usually I am always busy with something, and my brain is constantly churning. This has been a blessing to me because it keeps me motivated and passionate. Writer’s block? No problem. I just move onto some art for a while or write something different.
On that same note though, all my projects seem to curse each other. They aren’t a curse to themselves, but a curse to one another. Because I have so many ideas and projects I want to get done, I don’t have a problem bouncing around because I feel each one is important. Yet bouncing around has caused me to at times feel like I am not “completing” any one project. Perhaps one day they all will get done at once, but then there is a longer delay between each completed project because of this.
Do I have too many projects going on?
In a way, having too many projects can be bad. You could potentially spread yourself too thin and don’t do any one thing well. At the same I think it is good to spread yourself out some. Being diverse not only keeps things interesting, but helps you gain new skills that can compliment your other projects.
I decided the best way to go about having too many projects, yet give each the attention they deserve is to cut out the fluff. There are some projects I just had to simply cut from the idea box. Sure they’ll always be in the back of my mind, but I put them aside in order to get the ones that mean the most to me done.
I started comparing my projects to a, “Gamer’s Backlog”. For other fellow gamers out there, I think you will know what I mean. Too many games and not enough time to get through them all. So what do you do? Prioritize.
So what projects am I prioritizing now?
I am working on two books right now: a children’s chapter book and an illustrated book. Any time one is put on pause for some time, I hop over and do some art. I am churning some ideas out for a website project, but that isn’t going to happen for another couple of months. Otherwise, all the other idea bubbles floating around in my head I am putting a pin in them and holding off until I get a few of my priorities done.
Below are some of my art projects I have been keeping busy with:
I have very little formal schooling with graphic design. I took a little bit of graphic arts in college, but did not major in it. I am quite critical of both my writing and art, but every time I publish an art piece for sale I feel a little better about showing off my work. Art has been, in a sense, a form of therapy for me to learn how to be confidence in my work in general. This has spilled over into my writing as well.
This is why it has been important for me to be diverse in my projects.
One project can somehow either directly or indirectly help your other projects.
I once had too many projects going on. And to some, one may argue I still have too many projects going on.
Now I think I have just enough now after I learned how to put some in the back burner and prioritize. Just like with anything else, balance and moderation is key.
Do you have a lot of projects going on? How do you balance all of them?
Sadly the stamps cannot be customized. I think it has something to do with getting approved for the postal service first, before even being able to put them up for sale.
I started by making the design yellow because I wanted to make a neutral tone baby invite. It ended up being a gender reveal party though, so I added the pink and blues to it later. Of course I believe any gender can love pink or blues, as girls can like blue and boys can like pink. This is just one design, and I plan to make many more.
If you have a custom design you’d like me to make for you, I would be happy to discuss further. I have only begun to scratch the surface of design ideas I have, and would love to have more practice.
Have any crazy gender reveal party stories? What did you do at a gender reveal party? Balloons? Cakes?
I have a tuxedo cat that I love and adore. He is a 9 year old male that always looks crabby, but he actually is pretty sweet. So I have a little thing for tuxedo cats.
I decided to move away from my gamer / nerd designs and make a cat design this time. I have to admit, I am hooked on cat designs, so I probably will make many more after this. This tuxedo cat mug features a simplistic cute kitty with a ball of red yarn that wraps around the cup. You can see both sides of the cup in the photo above.
If you’d like to buy this Tuxedo Cat Mug, you can visit my Zazzle Store page and purchase it there.
When I am not writing, I love to do crafts and artwork. I enjoy many different mediums, but vector imaging and pixel art has been my latest adventures.
And in case you wanted to see a photo of my handsome Tuxedo cat that inspires me, here he is. You can call him Kenny.
I also have another cat and dog, that I’m sure I’ll write about soon.