Dawn Montgomery

Archive for the ‘#amwriting’ Category

Return of the Writer

In #amwriting, Goals on January 23, 2018 at 3:32 pm

I’ve spent the past few years working on my education. I gained a couple of certifications, a degree in 3D Animation, and a new outlook on life. My storytelling has evolved, but I’m happy to say I’m back in the writing saddle again. It’s 2018! We just moved to a new state to be close to my mom, and things are as hectic as ever. I don’t think I know how to slow down, honestly.

You won’t see a long list of books I want to get finished this year or even a giant project list like those in previous years. I want 2018 to be the year of sustainable productivity.

What does that mean for you guys?

I’m going to experiment with my schedule, figure out what works and what needs to be discarded and focus on releasing quality stories that my readers will enjoy. I have multiple pennames that have suffered from my long hiatus, but that means I get to start from the ground up and really focus on what I want to accomplish instead of fumbling around and trying a thousand things at once.

I have three weapons in my productivity arsenal: my Passion Planner for scheduling, my bullet journal for tracking, and Trello for keeping me organized across my different pay streams. Since Trello can now integrate with google calendar, my life just got a whole lot easier. Over the next few months, I hope to show you exactly how I tackle my day in the hopes that we can all learn what works for us and discard the rest. I want to share my journey because you never know when something I say or do may inspire you to break through a wall.

I’m looking forward to 2018 and can’t wait to get started. Two weeks in, and I already have a new release. It debuted at #16 in Kindle World Action Adventure and became the #2 Hot New Release in the same category. That’s one heckuva positive start.

Will you be joining me this year?

See you soon, and keep writing!

Dawn Montgomery

January Goals

  • Write, Edit, Publish From the Ashes Done, released January 17th

Was it a sustainable schedule? No.

What could I have done differently?

  1. Follow the original schedule
  2. Accept that life is going to interrupt and account for that from the beginning
  3. Schedule writing-related things on your digital calendar so that you can always check your phone if you’re trying to figure out what’s supposed to happen that day
  4. Be more forgiving about first drafts. They’re never going to be perfect.
  5. Schedule at least two days’ rest between writing and editing to prevent a giant headache (or in my case, an actual migraine).
  • Readthrough, Revise, and start the final writing for Desperate Measures (due in February)
  • Readthrough Primal Hunger, begin Revision Notes for the novel
  • Record podcast #1-3 (scripts already written), Edit and upload in February

My 40 hour work week for this week (Monday through Saturday, Mon and Sat are half days)

4 hours Revision for Primal Hunger

12 hours Revision, etc. for Desperate Measures

4 hours Podcast recording and script tweaking

4 hours Promotion and Design

12 hours Misc home stuff (new place, lots of work to do)

4 hours Rebranding

Full Time Writer by Taming the Dragon

In #amwriting, Software on November 13, 2016 at 1:41 pm

Long post ahead. It’s about how I’ve overcome more than I imagined possible with the help of my family, you guys, my friends, and the acceptance of change. Keep reading if that’s something you’re interested in. Otherwise, expect a new release update on Tuesday!

I have now completely switched over to *voice recognition software (VRS) as my writing medium of choice. In the three weeks since I started using it full time, my hands and arms have become so much better (symptom-wise. I’m not a doc so I can’t tell if nerve damage is being reversed or not). It’s a slow and methodical process. And sometimes very frustrating…but you have to walk before you can run.

Also, it’s a completely different way to write. I have many books coming this month and next. Most of them were written via traditional typing and there was a lot of pain, tears, and grit to get them written.
Chronic pain is fascinating. I’ve chronicled my progress since I was first diagnosed with degenerative disc disease back in 2009. Pain can cloud everything: your concentration, confidence, comfort…and most of all, your creativity. It can suck out your energy and force you to just ‘endure’ until the end. So why am I saying this?

I’ve been writing for close to 15 years now (longer, honestly, if you count all the stories I wrote for myself and my friends). I have received the rights back to most of my backlist and have begun rewrites and expansion. Looking back at my work, I can see where pain was the worst. Where I was at my lowest. I can also see where I built hope from the ashes and rose to the sky.

Using VRS was the final hurdle, I think, in accepting that modifications are necessary for me to move beyond endurance and into a comfortable realm of creativity again.

Most of all, I’m able to have fun again. And just tell the stories I want to tell without the dread of nearly crippling pain at the end of every writing session, the shakiness of my fingers, or the cramping of the muscles along my back from the back spasms I can’t do anything about (and trust me, the docs have worked miracles already. This is the extent of my recovery).

Despite the pharmaceutical push by most of my medical team, I don’t take pain medication beyond some over the counter options. This is my choice, and a difficult one I made with SuperChef. I have a high pain tolerance, and I’m used to living with it, so numbing it now would just make me hurt myself more (I can’t feel the pain, so I can do ANYTHING! This is from experience, by the way. One day I’ll believe I’m not invincible.) Modified Yoga has helped with my flexibility. Stretches and massages help with the severe cramping and muscle spasms that are a part of my daily life.

I also do other things with my hands while I’m speaking my stories. I clean, organize, sketch, draw (this really REALLY helps when I’m trying to visualize a scene as I talk it out). When I get a little better, I’ll start working on my facebook page and website while I’m speaking so I can get more done with the little time I have.

Your comments and well wishes for my health have been amazing. I have taken every one of them to heart and let it push me through the hard times. It’s been a long two years since the ulnar nerve diagnosis. I keep putting off the surgery, just in case…nerves are hardy buggers. They rebound on their own if you give them enough time.

So here I am, ready to take on 2017 with a fresh outlook on my writing career. Stories are needed. And I have so many to tell. Now that I’m not limited to one way of writing, I can do my best to give you those that you deserve.

Thank you for sticking with me through all of this.

I am stubborn and it takes me some time to come around, but once I do, I stride forward and do my best. You are the reason I kept going.

I love you guys.

* I first used the Windows voice option for my VRS experiments. It wasn’t accurate enough when it came to fiction writing, but it did wonders for regular correspondence. When I needed to make the move, I bought Dragon Naturally Speaking Premium edition (by Nuance). I also use a Nuance app called Dragon Anywhere so I can write while I’m on my commute as well. Dragon Naturally Speaking is one-time up front fee and Dragon Anywhere is a subscription service. I synchronize my Dragon Anywhere text with Evernote (a free app) so can copy and paste when I get home. Please note that Mac users have Dragon Dictate as an option instead of Dragon Naturally Speaking. The total cost for my adaptive equipment and one year subscription service:

Dragon Naturally Speaking 13 Premium: $162.36 (with Texas sales tax included)

Dragon Anywhere: App is free via android and the 12 month subscription service was $150. I chose the subscription service up-front fee because I didn’t want to worry about it every month.

Microphone: I already had one that I used. It’s a Plantronics and it’s not made anymore. SuperChef bought me a lovely Audio-Technica ATR2100. It was $80, but a regular microphone that picks up your voice would work just fine. Check the compatibility options via the Nuance site.

I didn’t just hop up and buy this on a whim, guys. The family gave up a lot of time, streaming services, etc. as a team to help me. It took six months to get all the pieces in place and now I have everything I need.

Weekly Writing Update #ROW80

In #amwriting on January 10, 2016 at 5:03 am


It’s the first round of A ROUND OF WORDS IN 80 DAYS! I am super excited this year (for many reasons!). Middle of the night post for me, so please excuse the short, choppy sentences. I just hit 26 hours awake and the brain is foggy.

My goal for last week was simple: 10 hours dedicated to my dragon story. NAILED IT! WOOHOO! Total hours: 11.5 😀

Goal for this week: 40 hours on dragon: 20 hours of writing, 10 hours of editing, 10 hours free for rewrites, tweaks, and submission by January 16th. Continue working on freewrite Fantasy story after I complete my daily goals. 

Challenges I faced last week:

Drama with a capital D. And shopping for school supplies since my new college semester starts in a week. I’m nervous about whether I’m able to balance writing and school this semester. All of my classes are animation-related, so that means lots of out of school projects. Lots of them. And a 13 hour Friday. Two classes, gap between, and nowhere to go while I wait. At least I’ll have time for writing and extra time for working on my projects at school.

Organization was a bear this week. Getting on track, as well. Also, moving into a new office made things tough. I’m still half packed and all my reference materials are scattered. Poor Planning = Slow Going.

What did I do to overcome my challenges:

Avoided the drama. It’s not related to me. I’ve learned that being a peacemaker is about balancing your life and the lives around you. There are lines of behavior that can’t be crossed without pushing people too far. Letting the energy vampires in your life run the show isn’t keeping the peace, it’s letting you be a doormat. So I was firm last week. The drama stayed out of my house. Or else.

Shopping was an adventure, as always. I get all giddy over office supplies, but over the years I’ve realized simple is best when it comes to me being organized. One notebook per class. Color coded. I set up the first ten pages or so into a pocket configuration so I don’t have to keep track of folders with in class handouts. Sort of like this adorable little girl’s tutorial. I think I need to take a picture so you see what I mean. I’ve tried to explain it six times now and my fog brain is keeping me from making sense.

I don’t have any idea where the inspiration actually came from for making the pockets the way I did. I just started doing it one night after I’d lost my class folder for what felt like the hundredth time (found out at the end of the semester that my littlest son had thought they were for his class since they were the same color as his homework folders. He had seven of them at school with my paperwork in them LOL). I’ve got this gorgeous scrapbooking paper that was just going to waste since I’d stopped being a Creative Memories consultant so I used that to reinforce the outside. The heavy weight made the pocket resilient. I love doing it!

I have a dump binder at home for anything that’s too large to go in those. I’ve got my homemade planner that changes as I do so I can keep myself on track.

I splurged on a new “work purse” so I don’t have to carry a backpack and a purse to school anymore. I needed something that would carry my keyboard, Kindle Fire, plugs, books, etc. and be easy to handle for a gal walking with a cane (hey, I make this cane look GOOD!). I found one on-the-cheap at my local mega mart. Expensive doesn’t work for me as I am BRUTAL on my bags. If this style works, I’ll move up to a more durable design. I haven’t carried a purse full time since…well…ever, I think, so this will be interesting. I miss my backpack already, but the ongoing issues with my back (and my habit of overloading my backpack with everything but the kitchen sink) has forced my hand. I need a smaller package with less pockets so I only take what I need with me.

Home office organization: I have a standing desk that is actually a leaning book shelf I got from Linens and Things back in 2005 (when they were still around). The middle tier is the perfect height for me so I set it up tonight. The second highest shelf is at perfect eye level so I put my motivation stuff there and set up my index card stand. I should probably do some pictures and a few quick tutorials for you guys. The office unpacking and organization is still in progress, but I can’t move any faster with deadlines breathing down my neck. It’s driving me crazy, but I’m maintaining my patience as much as possible. One box a day and I’m cheering.

I hope you are doing well so far! I’m ahead of schedule, but not so much that I can slack off.

Would you like to see how others are doing in their writing challenges? Click HERE for the linky list!

Keep Writing!
Dawn Montgomery

Free Calendar Printable

In #amwriting on January 2, 2016 at 2:24 am

Every year I build a word count tracking calendar for my Word Slinger Writing Groups. It has a 750-word per day (or 20k per month if you take one day or so off a week) set up, but you can use it however you like. Each box represents 250 words. There is nothing more satisfying than crossing off each box as you go! If you write more than 2500 words a day on average (the maximum boxes available), change the value of each box to 500 words. It’s fully adaptable to your needs.


Please let me know if you spot any errors. For the complete calendar, CLICK HERE. The PDF should download automatically. You’ll need Adobe Reader to view and print the document.

This is based on David Seah’s NaNoWriMo calendar from 2013, and has been adapted for my writing groups’ (I maintain two of them) needs. I built it when he was developing his 50k a month calendar. If you’d like to check that out, it’s available for $7 at his awesome site. CLICK HERE to learn more. Also, if you’re a productivity and project junkie like myself, check out the rest of his incredible notebooks, planners, and more! Just sharing the love since I adore anyone who helps feed the crazy that is National Novel Writing Month.

This works perfectly for those doing the official (or unofficial) 750 words a day challenge. The official page is HERE (it requires a $5 a month membership to participate in their events and track your words). Unofficially, the 750 words a day challenge is all over the ‘net.

Do you like stuff like this? Are you using it this year? If so, how is it going for you? Did you use last year’s? Did you want to see more things like this?

Happy Writing!

2016 Goals

In #amwriting, Challenges, Goals on January 1, 2016 at 2:13 pm

Chapter 2016

Hello everyone! Welcome to 2016! I have goals in four categories this year:

  1. Writing
  2. Education
  3. Health
  4. YouTube (What? No, seriously!)


The stuff in blue is required by either contract or deadline. The rest is wishful thinking IF I get finished with the first part of the list.

In alphabetical order:

Ongoing Series

The Fallen

  •  Winter Guardian expansion and print
  •  Dark Rider (working title) releases May 1st in a (title TBD) boxed set.

Holly Savage

  • A Wish Before Dying

Silver Tongued Devils

  • Devil’s Due (Preorders go up mid-January)
  • The Devil’s Own
  • The Devil Wars a Crown
  • Silver Tongued Devils in Print
  • Devil’s Due in Print

Voodoo Carnival

  • Boxed Set release of the entire serial
  • Print release of the entire serial

WTF Dragon Series

  • Dragons Never Lie
  • Dragon Arse
  • A Tail of Two Dragons
  • WTF Dragons Collection in Print

New Series

Nightmare Gale

  • Enraptured
  • Entranced
  • Entwined

Sky City (multiauthor)

  • Title TBD

Spaceport: New Tortuga (Spinoff from Silver Tongued Devils)

  • Rogue Bounty (revise, expand, edit, and publish an old title)
  • SNT 2 (Title TBD)

Wolfen Underground (MMA shifters)

  • Savage 
  • Renegade
  • WU 3 (Title TBD)


Standalone Titles

These  will be added as they pop up since most of them are based on rights reversion from publishers.

Last Rites: revision, edit, and publish

Angel’s Masquerade: revision and resubmit requested. Finish it and turn it in.

Carter’s Legacy: Revision and submit to an agent


I complete my associates degree at the end of December if I don’t miss a beat classes-wise. I need to stay focused. This will be an ongoing challenge per month (once I’m back in class, I’ll do a post).


Four main focus areas this year:

  1. Standing vs. Sitting. I need to move from standing to sitting on a regular basis. This year I’m going to figure out an effect way to do this.
  2. I need to work on my grazing habits. I eat my feelings. If I’m stressed, tired, worried, or nervous…I eat. LOL. If I can’t curb the grazing, I need to ensure that I have foods ready to go. Also, I need to plan ahead for my meals when I’m at college.
  3. Walking and exercising. I walk a lot in school. The campus is quite a commute, and I have to do a lot of walking to get to the right buses, etc. I need to find something to do on a regular basis that makes me feel better about myself
  4. Taking better care of my mental health by knowing when I’ve reached my limit and taking the days I need to take for rest. Working from home and going to school full-time knocked me on my butt last year. I need to get a handle on my cycles of behavior.


Not as a writer, well, not for most of the year. No, I’m exploring YouTube as a mom to a very enthusiastic kiddo who loves stop motion. I have a crafting blog that will launch at the end January where I explore the way we create his movies as well as other crafty goodness. I have a list of tutorials I need to do including my writing planner video (I made mine from scratch). Each month will have a different goal. This month I just need to get the website launched and the youtube channel sorted.


So, if you’re following along, or ended up here via a search engine, here are the tags I will be using this year.

Click Here– for the thirty day challenges post (this one will be included in that tag as it’s my first mention of it)

Click Here– for all posts related to the year-long writing challenge I participate in called A Round of Words in 80 Days.

  • First Quarter 2016
  • Second Quarter 2016 (tag will be updated when it’s created)
  • Third Quarter 2016 (tag will be updated when it’s created)
  • Fourth Quarter 2016 (tag will be updated when it’s created)

Click Here– for all posts related to YouTube and my crafting channel

Click Here– for all posts related to Health

Click Here– for all posts related to my degree and education

What are you planning for 2016?

Voodoo Carnival Episode Four Almost Done

In #amwriting on December 18, 2015 at 12:22 pm

Voodoo Carnival Episode Four (House of Horrors) is almost complete with minor edits and formatting left. It looks like I’ll be five days later than I’d hoped (I wanted the 15th), but I’m just thankful I have the light at the end of the tunnel. House of Horrors has been the trickiest episode to date in the VOODOO CARNIVAL serial. Not because I’d written myself into a corner or because I wasn’t sure how it would end…those were figured out quickly. No, the hardest part about writing this book was that I allowed life to get in the way while I worked on it.

Granted, 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 of hard work, but so worth it.), and…well…you know what?

I could list a thousand things that came up between January and December, but it doesn’t change the fact that I need to get my head on straight for 2016. The point of this tale is this: A lot happened, I got distracted, got exhausted, and I recovered just in time to make a strong finish in December. I’ll focus on that. 🙂

Episode 4 is almost complete. Just edits and formatting. Until those edits are done, however, the final word count won’t be updated.

I’ve been taking some productivity courses to help get my mind focused. Writing, after all, is the business I want to be in.

I want to be a full-time writer, a successful one, while penning stories that readers want to read. In order to do that, I have to treat this like a business. My hours need to have accountability.

I’m tracking pomodoros daily using a DIY planner I set up.  I also have a ledger whose sole purpose is to track my hours.

The first few days of tracking are the worst. It’s hard to be honest with yourself when you’re devoting entirely too much time to games (especially when you’re supposed to actually be promoting your book or chatting with people on your social networking sites).

Less than 7k remaining on Episode Four if it doesn’t run over. I’ll add its word count as I edit the chapters and put them in the final document.

Voodoo Carnival Ep 1-4


Contracted Short Stories


Publisher Deadline (Outlined)


Winter Guardian Edits

December Focus

In #amwriting on December 13, 2015 at 9:18 am

Works in ProgressI’m in the middle of my typical end-of-year writing frenzy. School is now out (thank goodness) and my head isn’t in the right place at the moment. So today I’m taking time to focus and plan the rest of my month. I have three books set to release.

The first is the final episode in Voodoo Carnival. The second is the complete VC boxed set. The third is an expanded (unabridged) version of Winter Guardian. I also have a book that’s due to my publisher around Christmas, and several contracted short stories to finish by the 21st. That’s a lot of work between now and the end of the month.

But it’s cool. I’m not panicking. Yet. LOL!

Today I’m breaking free of my office for a scenery change while I work. No, I’m not going to ye olde coffee shop. I’m actually heading to the last place I ever want to be…the mall food court. But I’m going while everyone is still sleeping and only the walkers are out in full force (the mall doesn’t open for another three hours).

I’ve been awake since 5 am and my productivity has been blech. (Technical term meaning less than stellar or downright pitiful).

Voodoo Carnival Ep 1-4


Contracted Short Stories


Publisher Deadline


Winter Guardian Edits

So there we are. Hyperfocus engaged! Wish me luck! What are you doing to end your 2015? Are you in a panicked rush like I am?

Leveling Up: A Writer’s Journey

In #amwriting, Challenges, Goals on December 10, 2015 at 10:21 am

levelUpChallengeWelcome to Leveling Up: A Writer’s Journey. I’m a gamer. My first and greatest love will always be Role-Playing Games (on paper, through consoles, computers, tablets, reading, etc.). I am a quest killer, a grinder from way back. I will play a game until there are no new storylines, weapons, or new crafting recipes left. I will level my hero/heroine until the last boss is a breeze, and I will do it with a smile on my face, a joy in my heart, and never once regret the time I’ve spent in those alternate worlds. While it may be occasionally tedious, I never really feel bored. There’s always something else to do. Another character to level, another story to experience.

That got me to thinking as I was toiling away at my new MMORPG addiction, Aion (the characters have wings and can fly!), why don’t I apply that same level of dedication to my writing? I really enjoy the stories I create and the worlds I dive into, but I get hung up on the tedious aspects of it. It still needs to be done, much like the seemingly never ending farming I recently completed for my crafting levels. I still need butt in chair time (or notebook and pen time…or standing and writing time, etc.). That’s when I realized my gaming paralleled my writing. I love them both, but I’ve treated them differently for too long. I’ve decided 2016 is going to be a grinder year.

I have to build a solid habit again so that I can tackle the big bosses (novels) with ease. So how do I do that?

In efficient RPG grinding you have three main components: Quality, Focus, and Planning.


Let’s tackle QUALITY first. Quality represents several things in an RPG: Gear (equipment and weapons), magic, crafting, and items. There’s no point in running around a level 40 encampment with level 3 weapons and armor unless you’re insane or going after an obscure bloody savage achievement. You’re going to spend a lot of time dying, getting slowed down, or worse…stuck in a rut and hating the game.

So why do we do that with our writing? Take the time to write quality work. Yes, speed (timeliness) is important, especially when you are under a tight deadline, but what good does it do you to be fast when you end up having to revise your book multiple times?

If that’s the way you write, no worries! I used to be that way too. I used to love the revision layering process. One pass for character arcs, one for romance arcs, one for setting and mood, another for grammar, etc. Unfortunately a solid crack to the head five years ago realigned the way my brain works.

Revision is a part of your brain that deals with logic and creative processes (not at the same time, mind you, that’s impossible). The logical part of my brain is the side that rewired itself in my head (and not very well) so the less amount of time I spend in logic and analysis, the better. Otherwise…migraines and seizure-like symptoms. Wish I was joking. You should see me on days when I have to balance the budget.

Now, don’t go being weird and feel sorry for me. Just listen. This bump to the head opened up a world of creativity (and silenced that bitch of an inner editor…or in my case…emotionally abusive self-hater) greater than I had ever imagined possible. I’ll take the explosion of color, pure joy in the art of storytelling, and intensity as full compensation for the logic side having its short circuits now and then. 😀

That linear speed-demon hare I once was has been replaced by a steady and unyielding tortoise. This is something I’ve fought for five years. And now, at the end of 2015, I’m laying the old me to rest. It’s okay that I’m not the same person I once was. I plan and layer from the beginning. My stories come out tighter in the first draft so I spend less time fighting the mini-boss battles against the editing and revision monsters. I still revise, of course. That’s a boss battle you can’t skip and expect to be respected (think incentive/purchased level boosts to newbie players in your favorite game…can’t really respect that, can you?).

So how do I tackle quality? I give myself permission to go slower, to focus on the story as I write it and take the time to get it close to right the first time. This is the part of the grind that will help stave off burn out. I’ll spend less time forcing myself to race against an imagined clock or stifling the joy I find in storytelling.

And you want to know something weird? Forcing myself to write a novella of 25k quickly resulted in a draft being done faster (by three days), but it took me, on average, longer than four days to recover.

Do the math. Rushing through the levels won’t give my book or me enough experience to make the Revision and Editing boss battles easy to breeze through. And that, ladies and gents, is the goal of quality. 😀


FOCUS is the next beastie we’re going to tackle. It has two parts: grinding time and quests.

Grinding time: If you don’t take the time to level properly, the mini-boss (editing/revision) and big boss (novels and ongoing series) levels are going to be tough. If I’m building up my tailoring in an RPG, I will focus on gathering the materials needed, grinding the necessary amount of time it takes to get it done. So too, will I grind my writing. In 2015, the Pomodoro technique of writing for 25 minutes and breaking for 5 was extremely effective.

I will continue that, ensuring that I put in the necessary grind time for my books. Sometimes writing isn’t fun. Sometimes it’s like a neverending quest in bore-ville. That’s okay. It can’t always be unicorns and rainbows or there would never be a true sense of accomplishment at overcoming obstacles. You need those bragging rights, you know. Something that comes too easily is too easily taken for granted. Trust me. I know. Piecing myself back together these past five years has been a difficult process.

Quests: In an RPG, you can go all over the map into different continents, quest-lines, arenas, and boss levels. If your game is kind enough to supply you with a quest log (a place for your quests to sit in queue, where you can read them at any given moment), then you’ll soon realize that you have a limit to the number of quests in your log. If you’re all over the place, you have to shuffle quest-lines, reorganize your packs (why did I take fifteen gathering quests at once? Who has that much room in their packs???), and remember where you left off while hoping you keep the storyline straight.

If you’re playing a more traditional RPG like Final Fantasy, Star Ocean, or Legend of Zelda, you don’t have the luxury of quest logs (with the exception of the Bomber’s Notebook in Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask).  Are you really going to remember a quest line from the desert oasis after you spend fifteen days grinding through the ice reaches of Fromoon? At the same time, it’s hard to keep a storyline straight if I’m jumping from one story arc to another. That logical part of my brain, remember, has issues already. Switching gears mid-writing session isn’t going to help.

AND DEFINITELY no more writing first person POV stories at the same time I’m writing third person. I made that mistake in 2015 by writing VOODOO CARNIVAL (First Person Point of View) at the same time I wrote WINTER GUARDIAN (Third Person POV). The amount of time I spent accidentally slipping into third or first when I wasn’t supposed to really dragged my pacing down and made the revision monster a nightmare to tackle.

I will set up my writing time appropriately. Weekdays for my primary book. Weekends for my freewrite book. I’ve spoken about this in the past I think. I have to have a book going at all times that explores something I want to try, some new genre or series experiment. A fun project that I reward myself with on the weekends. Stay focused, receive rewards.

But I won’t be able to do that without planning.


PLANNING in an RPG is a unique prospect. It takes a bit of research, some focus, and a willingness to stick to it until the job is done. For me, PLANNING is the difference between three months on a novel and three years on a novel. That’s a lot of false starts, a lot of unnecessary grinding in low-level areas as I try to get my story on track. Planning consists of two stages: scheduling and plotting <insert panster groaning here> I promise I don’t mean an outline from hell with every plot point written out and a novel notebook that’s a binder thick (though you could totally do that if that’s your thing. It’s not mine. I tried.). I mean…well…read on to see what I mean.

Scheduling: Time is a factor in any job. Deadlines are a definitive part of a writer’s life, but outside a publisher-driven deadline, what else is there? Personal deadlines. How do you determine those?

I need to recognize the amount of time it takes for me to develop my book, characters, and plot. Accept the amount of time it takes me to write a page, scene, chapter, and complete story. Factor in the amount of down time I’ll need before I begin editing and how long it will take me to complete them once I start. That’s a lot to take in, right? Why do all that, and how does it compare to Leveling Up in an RPG?

In most RPGs you have leveling regions (also known as zones). These zones contain bad guys, quests, gear, ingredients for crafting, and items that coincide with the same level (hopefully) as your adventurer. If I’m level forty, for instance, in a level forty-two to fifty zone, I’m not going to jump ahead to the mini boss battle of revision without ensuring I’m properly geared and leveled. To be honest, the game itself won’t let you do that. You have to follow the storyline to get there. Usually.

To get to revision, I have to schedule grinding time. I have to follow storylines, delve into the crafting part of the adventure, and use my previous focus to keep myself on track. I can do multiple things in one zone, so I should do that all at once to avoid having to back track later (and waste time, further bogging down the adventure).

At the same time, I don’t want to spend an unnecessary amount of time playing in a low-level zone where my gear, power, and story are too high for grinding to be useful. I compare this to rewriting the first chapter over. And over. And over. Don’t rewrite the first chapter until you’ve reached the end, or in my case, Chapter Five. I have no idea why, but that’s my magic “rewrite the beginning” chapter number.

Plotting: I don’t mean plotting as a detailed outline five pages long per chapter. I mean plotting a course, a roadmap and a way forward in the darkness of your book. Plotting in RPGs is interesting. There are some who direct you along a path, even in an open-ended world, preventing you from gaining access to realms outside your current levels while others are completely open-ended, and you’ll find out the moment you’re ripped apart by a pack of wolven that you may have stumbled into the wrong area.

Plotting and writing. Plotting gets such a bad wrap. I can hear the screams of denial now, but I want you to remember something very important. You don’t walk out of your house in sneakers with just the clothes on your back, spare change in your pockets, and a half-charged phone with the expectation of hiking to Alaska or backpacking across Europe or even running a marathon without training.

You don’t have to have every detail of your trip planned out, but you do need a way to focus (there’s that word again!) your energy. How do you do that?

Jot down a few notes before you start your daily writing session. A roadmap with a general idea of how you’re going to get there. Why is this so important? Writing yourself into a corner is a dark and dreadful place most writers hate falling into. They want, more than anything, to have a smoothly flowing manuscript that listens to your muse and falls into line while pleasantly surprising you along the way.

With a moment of clarity, just before you begin writing, you may be able to avoid most total scene rewrites. As you set out to drive for the day (or the writing session, or scene), jot down a few ideas about how to get what you want out of it. It could be something as vague as “Erica’s panic gets the best of her” or as detailed as you wish.

So for 2016’s level up challenge, here are my vows:

  1. I vow to give myself permission to go slower, to focus on the story as I write it and take the time to get it close to right the first time.
  2. I vow to set up my writing time appropriately. Weekdays for my primary book. Weekends for my freewrite book using pomodoros to track my writing time. No more writing first person and third person POV stories at the same time, however.
  3. I vow to set a daily roadmap on my writing path by thinking about the scenes I’ll be writing, building enthusiasm, while enjoying the fulfillment of the journey using those roadmap goals in one session.
  4. I vow to save rewrites until the story ends. No more Chapter Five triggers to rewrite Chapters One through Four.

My goal: Reach Level 1 by the end of January. Level 1 will mean a completed novella, a completed short story, and a partially completed novel. If I can make level 1, there’s hope for me yet. Let’s see if I can make it happen 😀

Keep Writing!

Dawn Montgomery


National Novel Writing Month 2015 1st Week Update

In #amwriting, Challenges, Publishing News on November 8, 2015 at 1:42 am

crest-05e1a637392425b4d5225780797e5a76National Novel Writing Month is upon us! The first week is over (it’s now thirty minutes into the 8th of November as I write this). How have you done so far?

 I’ve missed you guys so much! How has writing been going for you? I know it’s been a while, but I have reasons:

  1. Repetitive Motion Injury – I needed to save my hands and wrists for writing.
  2. I started college. At 36. I’m not the oldest person in my classes…most of the time. LOL! It’s an adventure that both thrills me and overwhelms me at times.

Did you notice that first bullet? “For writing.” Yes, I’m writing again! The truth is I got in a rut due to some seriously bad and stressful stuff going on in my home life. I got a handle on it around May, but it still took four or five months to settle into a solid routine. Until I did that, I had no intention of jumping back into blogging. I needed the word count first.

So here I am, a week into #NaNoWriMo 2015 and what does my word count look like? Abysmal. 5.033 words when I should be at 13,333. I’m averaging 720 words or so a day. I don’t write every day of the week, though. I tend to write, on average, 1-3k per day Sunday through Thursday. Fridays are too difficult for me to get any work done (I have a five hour class that day that is stressful on both my back and my mind). Saturdays are the general day off for me and the kiddo so I can’t guarantee any writing will get done. I have no plans to change my writing stance, so starting this week, I need to push out 3k per writing day to make my goal.

 I’ve moved from an electronic productivity tracker to a DIY paper planner that fits my needs. The electronic ones just don’t do it for me. I look at my tablet, phone, and PC for so many work-related things that planning my day was being put off for “one more sentence” in this story or “let me reply to this email really quick” when I was in google calendar and got an email update.

My posts won’t be as organized as normal because I just don’t have the time to format as beautifully as before. Please forgive me. I hope to be back on track as I get used to blogging regularly again.

I’ve got a new book coming out December 1st! It’s a really awesome Holiday boxed set full of Paranormal Hotties! ALPHAS UNWRAPPED has 21 fresh new stories from some totally kick-ass authors (Renee George, Stephanie Rowe, Dakota Cassidy, Melanie James, Michele Bardsley, and so many more!). It’s available now for preorder at 99 Cents!

Coming Soon Background Main Site

Buy Now

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1Lkn7df
Nook: http://bit.ly/1MXhYLp
Kobo: http://bit.ly/1hXLoyf
iTunes: http://apple.co/1Fy0vE3

So, Monday through Thursday has solid scheduled writing. I do at least four pomodoros during the day (between class and the time I need to leave to pick up my son from school).

Pomodoro=1, 5 minute planning stage prior to writing, 25 minutes of focused writing, 5 minutes after to see how I did and get focused on the next round.

Sunday is an all-day writing fest.

How is your NaNoWriMo going? Are you on top of your word count? Did you face your writing demons and conquer the beasts?


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).

Read the rest of this entry »

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