Dawn Montgomery

Writer in the Battle Arena: The Unpleasant HouseGuest

In #amwriting, Challenges on May 13, 2015 at 1:18 am

ROW80LogocopyIt’s midweek check-in time! I had a couple of curve balls thrown my way this week. Both were out of my control, but I noticed that I wasn’t as stressed writing-wise as I WOULD have been had I forced word count goals.

On one really bad day when I couldn’t concentrate because of insanity, I managed one pomodoro (25 minute writing sprint, see below for more information). While it wasn’t my best work, I was able to tweak it the next day and bounce back writing-wise. I even went three over my usual POM count the next day. Not because I wanted to “catch up”, but because it was so refreshing to not be racked with guilt because I hadn’t met a specific word goal the day before.

In the past, I would have sat to write without interruption (bad for my broken back, btw) until I finished yesterday’s and today’s goals. There would have been a constant “write faster, you’re behind” mantra in my head until I would say the heck with it and write whatever crap I could down so that voice would shut up.

So…I’m not stressed about word count goal, and somehow I’m managing, on average, a chapter a day.

Unheard of. Seriously. And before this week INCONCEIVABLE. I’m not sure if this is whether I’m having fun writing this book, I’m in the fourth part of this serial and it’s all coming together, or this new method is just that amazing. I won’t know the answer to this until next week, honestly, as that’s when I’m starting a new book in an ongoing series I need to keep working on (but keep stalling).

Updates are below if you’d like to check them out. I’m pretty detailed (I’ve got a Swiss Cheese memory-therefore I keep detailed notes) so I hope it doesn’t make your eyes cross. LOL!

I’m participating in this year’s Round of Words in 80 Days. It’s a self-paced writing challenge that helps you keep track of yourself in each quarter. They’re already two weeks into this round, but you can join any time. If you’d like to join them, HERE’S THE POST about ROW80. If you’d like to see who else is involved in this week’s update, check out the linky list HERE.

If you’d like to see my writing updates for this quarter, CLICK HERE for the complete list of posts.


May 10-17

I expected this week to suck. Truly. Mother’s Day, for me, has been a difficult one over the years for many reasons. I was overjoyed with the day and the fun we had. I’m not big on gifts (handwritten cards or letters are the best, btw!) so just spending time together was great (SuperChef, my husband, also promised that next year he’d send me away for the weekend on a personal writing retreat so I could enjoy it in peace. The reason for this is in the below post).

While Mother’s Day totally rocked, the next day was a nightmare. We have a difficult person in our care at the moment who enjoys what my grandmother used to call “showing their ass”, which means acting like a jerk, treating the people around them in a condescending way, and just being an unpleasant person to be around. When you work from home and have to deal with it 24/7, it wears you down.

Ignoring works for a little while unless you have “the obnoxious follower”. A follower is a person who follows you to whatever room you’re in (or from room to room) and either sits right in front of you and talks to the air about how much they hate all the things about this place, you, and the world in general…or pesters you about nonsense for hours until you snap. Makes for a long day.

Monday was that day. And that person.

As this individual is a guest of my husband’s, and for reasons I won’t get into, our hands are tied. So, redheaded gal that I am with a fierce temper…I’m in an awkward (see: precariously explosive) position.

Complaining about someone who doesn’t stop complaining kind of loses its impact.

And losing my temper only adds fuel to the fire. LOL. Bright light at the end of the tunnel: They’ll be leaving our home soon, but until then…I guess I’m public enemy #1. As long as no one else is directly affected, I thought I could take it.

I reached my limit, though. Yesterday (Tuesday) some stuff went down that forced them (for their own good) to remain in their room and gave me breathing space to get back to work.

Thank goodness SuperChef was home to run interference.

Watching them go from I hate everything about you and this place to the obviously fake laughing and suck-up behavior toward my husband would be comical if I wasn’t so relieved to be able to work in peace.

Btw, my husband knows what I go through. He’s completely sympathetic, does his best when he’s home (unfortunately he spends a lot of time at work, bless his heart for forced overtime), but, like I said, for *reasons* we have to hold out for a couple more weeks.

Hey, everyone has trials, right? Mine is staying focused in the gladiator arena. Am I the only one that remembers American Gladiators? Or do you watch the Next Ninja Warrior?

I’m running the obstacle course while being shot at with nonlethal projectiles. Non lethal ones, by the way, may not kill you, but they sure do leave a heckuva mark and lots of sore muscles.

Two week countdown until they leave. In that time, I’ll have run my complete course and we’ll see who wins. I can out-stubborn the best of them.

Phew. That was too much drama for one post. I even had to cull some of it. Sorry about that, gang. Frustration spillover has to happen somewhere, and it started poisoning my writing, so I had to release it in a controlled way.

Keep reading to see what my week was like writing-wise. If I’ve lost you so far, my apologies. Thankfully these type of posts are very VERY rare.

About Pomodoros: A Pomodoro is a time management technique that uses a 25 minute on-task timer with a 5 minute break after. I write and/or edit for 7-15 hours a day. That’s a lot of poms! By breaking it down into manageable and focused chunks, I’m able to get a lot more done. I use this method to help me focus on content and quality of my writing rather than word count.

Three novellas and two short stories so far have proven that this works for me. I’ve also noticed a significant decrease in the amount of edits I receive. As a paranoid person, that makes me double check everything and get another set of eyes, but they all come back the same. I’m writing a cleaner copy than ever before.

Since this works for me right now, I’ll keep doing it. And I’ll do it until it doesn’t work anymore. LOL! At that time, I’ll find another time management and motivational tool to help me keep writing. A writing career is a string of marathons. Adapt to and overcome your personal plateaus to be successful.

Dawn Montgomery

  • Write: Devil’s Due – 15 Poms (0 written so far. Plan on doing it starting tomorrow)
  • Edits: Freefall – 8 Poms (1 done so far)
  • Readthrough: Freefall with beta readers – 4 Poms (can’t do this until edits are done)
  • Final Edits: Freefall – 8 Poms (must finish the previous two first. Hmm, I’d better get a move on this)
  • Format: Freefall – 2 Poms (fingers crossed) (See above)
  • Publish: Freefall – 2 Poms (See above)
  • Write: House of Horrors – 24 Poms (10 Poms, 2 chapters)


  • 4 pages of rewrites by next check-in (3 Poms per page) (didn’t happen. rewrites take considerably more concentration for me than new content or edits. I’m putting this one away until next week.)
  • Outline A Wish Before Dying serial (I don’t time this since I do it when I’m in transit or watching TV with the family) (Partially done)


  • No goals this week


  • Write: one short title (3 Poms) (Not started)

Jessica D. Russell (working with husband on this one)

  • Recipe Development for Cookbook (11 Poms)
    • Brainstorming and shopping  (Done, 6 Poms, 3 hours. I think I might have underestimated the amount of time this was going to take)
    • Cooking (Wednesday’s plan, all day grilling with multiple recipes and lots of photos)
      • Cooking fail?
      • Cook some more. LOL.
  • Formatting recipes and image for cookbook (15 Poms) (need to do the cooking and recipe tries first.)

Total hours spent in the chair writing new content: 21 hours Hours spent so far: 5

Total hours spent in the chair working on rewrites and edits: 18 hours Hours spent so far: 0.5

Total hours spent working with my husband on his cookbook: 13 hours Hours spent so far: 3

Expected writing work week: 39 hours Hours spent so far: 5.5

Additional Time Scheduled during my normal family time (since that’s when we do our cooking): 13 hours Hours spent so far: 3

Observations: Sunday was Mother’s Day and all promotional stuff with Madhouse’s release (I need to update the blog with my new release info!). Monday was a horrible day. The only solid working day I’ve had was yesterday. So, 8 hours for Tuesday (and half an hour uninterrupted on Monday) really makes sense.

Tomorrow (later today, actually LOL!) I’ll be cooking outside with SuperChef. I’ve charged up my bluetooth keyboard and my tablet for working outside the house when he’s doing his grilling thing.

The youngest is looking forward to playing frisbee with the dog after he gets out of school. The dog is looking forward to sniffing everything and alternately barking at strangers or begging for food.

On fun days like this, as long as everyone is cool with it, I’ll usually write for one pom and then play/take over cooking for another one (or two). It keeps the day lighthearted and fun. PLUS I don’t have to come back inside and work after working all day with SuperChef.

Our house guest will probably be sullen and complain about the weather or how my choice of writing is ruining the entire day. Like water on a seal, it all flows off me, baby. All that matters is my family’s health and joy, the happiness in my heart, my sense of accomplishment at the end of a long writing day, and the fun I have with the family on days like today.

I hope this post hasn’t seemed like a whine-fest, but I KNOW I’m not the only one who faces the drama tornado now and then.

Drama Tornado: an individual who creates a storm that wrecks the world around it, and then, when the skies clear asks…how did that happen? See this rainbow…I made that. Now fix up this mess.

I hope I actually made you laugh through this craziness. It’s okay to laugh, promise. That’s the only thing that keeps you sane in an insane world.

If you’d like to see May’s Goals/Projections and my Quarterly Goals/Update, please jump to the full post (click on the full post title at the top).

May’s Goals and Projections

Dawn Montgomery

  • Devil’s Due 70% done
  • Voodoo Carnival Serial finished
    • Madhouse, Episode 2: published 10 May
    • Freefall, Episode 3: currently finished and in edits (10 May)
    • House of Horrors, Episode 4: scheduled to write starting the 18th.- Started early.
    • Voodoo Carnival boxed set release
    • Voodoo Carnival print release – delayed into June


  • Rewrite Last Rites – Set back by at least a week
  • Holly Savage Serial started
    • Episode 1: Need to be 25% done by mid June
    • Episode 2: Finished by end of June
    • Episode 3: Finished by middle of July
    • Episode 4: Finished by end of July


  • Write new short story (<10k)


  • Write 4 short fiction titles this month
    • Number completed so far: 0 (as of 10 May)
    • Number remaining: 4

Jessica D. Russell

Quarter Goals

Finish books, launch the JDR Creatives website and brand, and get a handle on my writing schedule.

Books to finish

I have four active pennames. Dawn Montgomery you already know. One is an Urban Fantasy, science fiction, and dark fantasy writer. The other two are for short fiction in various genres. In May, I’ll be releasing a cookbook with my husband (from his recipe site), so I guess you can add nonfiction and another penname to that as well.

I adjusted the goals since last post.

Dawn Montgomery

  • Write: Devil’s Due (63k, 1/3 done already)
  • Write: Voodoo Carnival serial finished (Ep 1 and 2 are published. 3 is in edits. 4 will be written in a week, 10 May update)
  • Write: Rogue’s Bounty, a Spaceport: New Tortuga serial (Silver Tongued Devils spinoff) written and ready to launch in July

JW (urban fantasy, sci fi, and DF)

  • Edit and Publish: Last Rites
  • Write: A Wish Before Dying, a Holly Savage serial (50k)
    • Episode 1 written by mid-June, launch end of June
    • Episode 2 written by end of June

DM (short fiction writer)

  • Write: A single short work for a “best of 2015” collection (3-5k)
  • Write: A single short fantasy work for a new anthology (<10k)

RB (short fiction writer)

  • Write: 15 short fiction titles (3-10k words each, current count: 2)
  • Publish: 3 short story collections

Jessica D. Russell

  • Compile Two Cookbooks (with several cookbook exclusive recipes)
  • Develop a cookbook template (done 8 May)
  • Testing recipes
  • Formatting
  • Cover creation
  • Publishing
    • May
    • End of June for 4th of July

Total books written (completed) in the 2nd Quarter (10 May update)

  • Dawn Montgomery: 3
  • JW: 0
  • DM: 1
  • RB: 2
  • JDR: 0

Total books published in the 2nd Quarter (10 may update)

  • Dawn Montgomery: 1
  • JW: 0
  • DM: 1
  • RB: 2
  • JDR: 0
  1. Hi Dawn,
    Sending you hugs and prayers! So happy you’re in countdown mode and that this stress will be eliminated soon. Your Pomodoro technique sounds like something I should try. Thanks for sharing how to do it. Love you!

  2. I don’t do Pomodoros, per se, but I use lots of timers, hopping up and down between writing things, and hometending things…now that I have a phone with a timer, I would say I use that app more than any other, by far.

    My Accomplice is a chef, too – and I prefer handmade gifts, and am not a huge fan of Mother’s Day…so we have some things in common!

    “Showing their ass” made me think of something you might enjoy,so I’m sharing. When you have a moment when you need to escape, this might give you a break and a smile….


    Have fun! =d

  3. Oh, my, the hugs you clearly need (and sounds like you are getting from the Superchef)… Yeah, we all have that one relative (or in my case, several relatives) with (pieces of) the drama tornado in his/her DNA. It can be hard to ignore sometimes. But… you have the perfect revenge. You can immortalize him/her in fiction (much as you have here).

    Glad Mother’s Day was better than you hoped. I have only one wish on that (or any of the other “girlie” holidays, as my husband calls them)…. I don’t want to have to yell about anything, except in giddy, silly excitement. Cards don’t matter, breakfast in bed doesn’t matter, help with my personal chores doesn’t matter… I just don’t want to have to be angry. I turn into Bruce Banner every Mother’s Day.

  4. I am happy to find that the poms are making you feel better. I am feeling less stressed about my writing, too. Thank you for introducing me to them. Good luck from a ROW80 blog hopping friend.

  5. […] my mother’s heart surgery, the insanity of my unpleasant house guest, starting college in May (I have found a new passion: animation. It’s a lot of fun and a lot […]

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