September 2023 Reflection

September is over and fall is officially here (in my part of the world, anyway). Of course our temperatures are still dancing around the 100 degree (Fahrenheit) mark despite the shelves at stores being full of pumpkin flavoring and all things orange colored. Sometimes, it’s hard to believe we’re already in October. 

Never-the-less that means it’s time to take a look into the progress I made on things in September. 

If you’ve been following along with the blog then you already know that for 2023 I’ve left myself a big BLANK page of year long goals. The idea was to add to it as things took my focus and watch the page fill. In September I was able to mark off the VERY LAST BOX of the list you’ve been watching grow all year. As was the idea when I started, it was time to select a new project and add it to the page. 

I took a good look at what I was cooking for WIPs and fell in love with the short story passion project I’d started so long ago. In fact, my last edit of it was titled “Short Story Anthology 2021” so that gives you an idea of how long it’s been sitting. Oops. More on that in a minute, but you can see it’s now been added to the list of goals. 

A huge list of things I've worked on this year broken into categories (Hitman Project, Fraun Special Edition, Fraun Short Stories, and Short Story Anthology) with each category listing the steps required to getting the projects published.

In addition to my large blank page for goals for the year, I also have monthly ones. These are where I can break things down a little more for myself. In September those goals were to release How to Schedule a Death on the 9th (which, in all honestly, was already scheduled so I really didn’t have to do anything official). I also decided to post a short history of that project on the blog and remembered to post the August wrap up. Yay!

Besides those September goals, I also managed to squeeze in a little work on the idea journal (554 words) while I tried to figure out what I was going to work on next. Then, inspiration found me in the form of the old drafts of the Short Story Project. 

Originally, I didn’t have a plan or a theme for this project. I had collected a few good ideas and a few scenes from the idea journal that I knew would never be full stories. I had put them all near each other in folders. Then I had decided, someday, they would make a good anthology. I reread everything I had and realized I still loved the idea. Now it was time to do some work. I took copious notes about what age category, POV, and genre each story was. I wrote down key words that might go with the theme or project. I notated what I saw the theme as being. Then, I used that information to decide the order of the project titles and looked at them all together. Like magic, a theme emerged. These are 10 stories about TRUST. Sometimes misplaced, sometimes lacking, sometimes broken. 

Rather messy cursive handwriting on a standard yellow notebook labeled "Short Story Anthology Notes". The only visible comment is "Do we want commentary before and/or after?"

Of the 10, a few are fully drafted. Very few are edited. Some need endings. Some need to be completely written. One is only an idea with not even an outline. I decided to start with the first story and make my way through. Story one was the most polished, so that worked in my favor. This helped me to feel very productive quickly. Story two was also pretty good. I tweaked it a little and added some detail but, ultimately, also felt productive quickly. Story three was a little more rough. I had started it but never given it an ending. I ended up writing 3 possibilities and, suddenly, the real one was obvious. Still felt pretty good moving into story four. Then, I stalled. I added just under 4500 words to the anthology stories in September, which is good, but there’s a long way to go. 

I will say, as of October 1, the fourth story is unstuck. I have pretty good notes now on where it’s going to go. I just have to write it! 

My September idea journal image showing everything I just talked about in little boxes and numbers.

Overall, September ends with 11,827 words (most of which were book reviews, again) for an average of about 394 per day. I edited 14 chapters in September, but that breaks down to less than half a chapter a day. Good thing editing was my focus!

Moving on to reading! If you’ve been missing my book reviews, here’s your reminder that those have migrated to because that’s where they make the most sense! You can get all of that information over there as well as score yourself some used books at reasonable prices AND sign up for a Surprise Reads Box where we’ll send you custom recommendations in a book box!

My graphic showing all the titles I've read this month and the star rating each received.

I added another 11 books to the log this month, putting my 2023 total to 106 (meaning I’ve officially hit my goal of 104 books in 2023). This breaks down to about 125 pages per day, which is good because I like to be over 100. The oldest book I read this month was published in 2017 and the newest was an advanced reader copy of a title releasing in 2023. 

Another shot from my journal showing one (terribly) hand drawn book for each title I've read this year totaling 106 books.

The quick breakdowns of things people often ask …

  • 4 Young Adult
  • 7 Adult
  • 4 Fantasy
  • 2 Horror 
  • 2 Mystery/Thriller
  • 1 Contemporary Fiction
  • 1 Nonfiction
  • 1 Science Fiction
  • 3 Independently Published (that’s 27%)
  • 4 ebooks
  • 6 audiobooks
  • 1 paperback
  • 1 hardcovers 

Yes, I’m aware that the last one totals 12 books. I actually listened to the audiobook of Long Way Down all the way through and then read the graphic novel we owned all the way through as well. Seriously gorgeous book, worth the read in any format. 

No books received a 1 star. 1 books was 2-star (problematic), 4 were 3-star (more niche than wide appeal), 4 were 4-star (GREAT books if you read that genre) and 2 titles were 5-star (genre crossing). 

Another page from my little recording journal showing each book title I read in September color coded for what format I read it in and showing star ratings.

So, in conclusion:

  • I officially met my 2023 read/review goal for the year (but I’m not stopping)
  • How to Schedule a Death released and is doing well
  • I’ve decided to focus in on the 10 story anthology about TRUST

Moving into October I’m hoping to continue working on that short story anthology and decide if I’m doing National Novel Writing month next month or not! 

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