Back to school!

by Alexandra Sokoloff

Funny how the first day of September FELT like the first day of fall, a temperature drop of 15 degrees, the onset of Santa Ana winds, and an actual blue moon.  All pretty auspicious if you ask me.

Fall is my favorite season by far. It always feels like the real new year to me, that back to school energy.

I’m excited for this fall/New Year and also overwhelmed.

Overwhelmed because I’m…

Selling my house (yes, one of the five most stressful things a person can do. Some even say it’s #1!), and looking for another.

– Apparently I need to buy a new car, too. And if you think selling a HOUSE is stressful, baby – just trying being a femme the way I am definitely a femme and figuring out how to buy a car without a S.O. man involved…

– I have two conventions to get to in the next two weeks (the Writers Police Academy and Bouchercon)  Which is AWESOME, don’t get me wrong, but the devil is in the details. Southwest should be paying ME at this point, is what I think.

– I haven’t done last year’s taxes yet (yes, I DID get an extension, I’m not THAT much of a femme…)

– I’m trying to get a new book, the sequel to Huntress Moon, out in November

– I need to do some serious Halloween promotion for my other books. That means OCTOBER.

– Everyone expects me to do an intensive story structure blog series for the month before and during Nanowrimo and I can’t imagine NOT doing it.  That also means OCTOBER.

– I have a group anthology that we’re planning to release as an e book in OCTOBER.

Piece of cake, right?

Cue hysterical laughter.

Let’s get real. I can’t possibly do all of the writing things I should be doing this fall.  I’d need to be a whole other person on top of the person I am to get it all done.

And yet I am surprisingly cheerful about all of this.

I have theories about this optimism. First, I took a vacation for the first time in ages (actually it was half work, but still, half a vacation in AUSTRALIA is pretty great!) and I can feel that my whole outlook has been rearranged; I’m still having crazy Australian dreams, too, a fun perk.  And I came back to real life and even as I wade back into the deluge, I feel that enough of it will get done for me to keep on keeping on, the world hasn’t come to a standstill because I took some time off.  Good to know!

Also, it’s a huge weight lifted that Huntress Moon is doing so well. Between that launch and the sales of my other e books, I’ve made the Top 100 Indie Bestselling Author list, and the relief that I actually made the right choice in breaking out into e publishing, and that I might actually understand how to make this work on my own, is vast. Besides that, e publishing makes actual sense in a way that traditional publishing never did: I know what I have to do and I understand approximately why it works, and I see the quantifiable results month by month; there’s no longer that bullshit cloud of mystery around the whole process that there used to be.  And I KNOW WHEN I’M GETTING PAID now that I’m not subject to the whims of publisher “float”.  Believe me, that makes my life a whole hell of a lot easier, just that.

I am further encouraged that my author friends like Murderati Zoe and Rob and Brett and Dusty, and other author friends in the Killer Thrillers! collective, who have always been doing the same kind of traditional publishing that I have been doing, are now doing much better at e publishing –  by doing the same things that I am doing.

That’s a really fine feeling to have.  Stabilizing, even.

I have a lot to handle this fall, but grueling as it all may be, it’s all positive, compared to a lot of not so fun stuff I’ve had to handle in the last few years.  I’ve made some extreme choices that thankfully have paid off.

And I know what I need to do in the next three months: 

– Finish Book 2 in my Huntress series by the end of October

– Sell my house

– Find a new house that’s a good investment, hopefully by the end of the year

– Buy a new car, but rent one until I have time to actually look properly

– Launch the anthology

– Do my taxes (grrrrrr…)

– Go to Bouchercon and the Writers’ Police Academy

– Do a research trip to San Francisco

– Do the promo runs I need to do for Halloween

– Keep up with social media

– Dance more (a point really driven home now that I’m being able to take class with my favorite hip hop teacher in NC while I’m prepping the house. I can barely walk, but OHH, it hurts so good… and better than that, I feel human again.)

– Enjoy life!!!!!

So, ‘Rati, what I want to hear today is – What is YOUR fall (New Year’s) resolution list?


Huntress Moon, an Amazon bestseller!

24 thoughts on “Back to school!

  1. Barbie

    I'm scared of sounding really stupid, because I don't know if it's super expensive there or something, but why don't you just hire someone to do your taxes for you? Might be worth the cost-benefit. 🙂

    What do you I have to do in the fall?

    Go back to school. And, most importantly, watch ALL my tv shows that are just coming back from hiatus! <3 OMG, I've been dying without them! Yes, my life is this cool!

    I should stop being such a wuss and just do NaNoWriMo this year, since it won't coincide with my finals.

  2. Alexandra Sokoloff

    Barbie, I definitely have an accountant do my taxes! I'm talking about the three days it takes me to get all the paperwork together.

    You definitely should do Nano this year. I will bug you about it! 😉

    And yes, I have some shows I'm looking forward to, too, but at this point I'd rather let some episodes pile up before I start in again because having to wait just pisses me off.

  3. Alexandra Sokoloff

    Barbie, I definitely have an accountant do my taxes! I'm talking about the three days it takes me to get all the paperwork together.

    You definitely should do Nano this year. I will bug you about it! 😉

    And yes, I have some shows I'm looking forward to, too, but at this point I'd rather let some episodes pile up before I start in again because having to wait just pisses me off.

  4. Sarah W

    Finish polishing my current project and start querying.

    Convince my kindergartener that she is not too small and/or adorable to participate in gym class and thwart my fourth-grader's Machiavellian efforts to avoid her homework.

    Get my car fixed so I can go to Bouchercon (and avoid karaoke) without worrying about a 26-hour train ride or baggage fees.

    Update seven brochures and write a history, two articles, and a press release for the thirtieth anniversary of my library's special collections center and nag our PR guy into tweaking our new logo because while our department may indeed be full of vintage items and be housed in the "former basement," cluttered and butt-ugly isn't really how we would choose to visually reflect our origins. (OCTOBER–and that nerve in my right eye just started twitching for some reason)

    Do Nano in the effort to move on from my current project and get the bones of my next one on paper.

    Buy and devour the second book in the Huntress series (no pressure).

    Get some Clanadonia CDs because a friend just sent me a link and whoa.

  5. Jake Nantz

    Wow, full plate Alex! Hope your house sells soon, but we'll miss you over here on the right coast (sniff).

    What do I have to do?

    – Keep on top of my grading better
    – Rework my planning so my students benefit from my past experiences
    – Finish my WIP and start sending it out
    – Finish my next article (get it written and sent in)
    – Begin the more in-depth plottingstage of my next ms

    Some fun, some not (grading….@$&%#!….), but all necessary. Have a good fall!

  6. Alexandra Sokoloff

    Sarah, I laughed all the way through your list. I feel for your kindgergartener, though. I always HATED gym until I got to high school and they finally had dance as an option.

    Um… how does going to Bouchercon translate to avoiding karaoke? I always find karaoke more possible at cons, not less…

    Sounds like we need a Murderati Nano group…

  7. Alexandra Sokoloff

    Jake, thanks, but I seem to show up more on your coast now that I DON'T live there!

    I really do admire you for being able to write and teach at the same time, as dedicated a teacher as you are. And I'm with you, grading sucks.

  8. Shizuka

    Fall bums me out because it means summer's over, but since it's so fully charged with stuff, I don't have time to really think about it. The universe is designed well, that way. (Winter holidays are a brilliant distraction from we get no light, it's freezing, I want to just sleep).

    What am I doing?
    — Study for some difficult financial meetings
    — Go to San Diego for a translation conference
    — Finish the most recent draft of my book in two weeks (challenging for someone who writes sloooooow)
    — Find an attorney and meet with her to rework a family trust
    — Create an investment plan
    — Clean up the storm that is my apartment
    — Learn how to copy clothes I really like and make two dresses
    — Attend writing boot camp
    — Random apartment building board stuff
    — Oh, and find t some kind of exercise I'll stick to (always my last priority)

    Didn't realize until I listed it all, but that's kind of packed.
    But there's nothing crazy-stressful like sell a house.

    Good luck with that!

  9. Alexandra Sokoloff

    Shizuka, no, you don't have to sell a house, but that's still a hell of a list! I'm really enjoying seeing everyone's lists – we are busy but interesting people, don't you think?

    You do have one resolution on there that strikes fear into MY heart: making your own clothes. Yike!

  10. billie hinton

    Am totally not going to list all the things I need to do this month and next – actually I erased my board completely and intentionally left it blank b/c I was feeling so overwhelmed seeing the things written down.

    Right now the only list I have is this: eat. sleep. ride. write.

    Though I'm still sort of doing book promo stuff – right now I have an author interview up at Digital Book Today:

    One thing I have to say is that I read Huntress Moon in a two-day span recently and really loved it. I think it's your best yet – you created the elusive perfect balance between descriptive, lovely language and imagery and compelling plot, and you do it in such a way that I as reader feel carried forth into the story. That last bit is subtle and I'm not sure how else to describe it – but I think it's something that makes for a really good read when it's done well by the author. I reviewed on Goodreads but wanted to let it simmer before I do the Amazon review. 🙂 Really looking forward to book 2.

    Also: the research you did was so on target wrt Cara's dx and symptoms and behaviors.

    Def. would love a Murderati NANO.

  11. Sarah W

    Alex: Going to Bouchercon does NOT translate into avoiding karaoke, but I'm hoping having an escape vehicle on hand will do the trick this year . . .

  12. Alexandra Sokoloff

    Billie, I'm so thrilled you liked Huntress, and thanks for the thumbs up on Cara's psychology, that means a lot! In general I'm a little obsessed with reading about psychology, so I'm glad I'm interpreting it decently!

    Thanks for the link to the article, too!

    And I think it's clear – we are going to be doing Nano right here in November.

  13. Alaina

    *Start sending out queries again. (Insanity fortnight will be over soon.)
    *Continue Applying for jobs
    *Finish my WiP
    *Continue editing the thing I'm querying because I can't /stop/.

    Not so much, it seems, but applying for jobs takes a lot out of me. I had my first professional interview yesterday– a four-hour round trip for a lot of nerves. If I get that job, or another, then my list will be extended: I haven't seen a single job that's within easy commuting distance yet, so I'll have to move out of my parents' house (finally) and get my first apartment. And probably a car. Eensy bit stressful.

  14. Alexandra Sokoloff

    Wow, Alaina, a lot of changes. Definitely stressful, but exciting, too, I hope! Looking for a job is MUCH more stressful than actually having one, though, so that stressor should go away soon. Good luck with it all and keep us posted….

  15. Lee Lofland

    Me…I'm just hoping to live through the Writers' Police Academy. Self-inflicted event planning of this magnitude is darn near foolish…but the end result is so much fun.

  16. Barbie

    OMG, you're being this dramatic about taxes and you're just getting the papers together for your accountant? And I was starting to feel sorry for you 😛 Okay, I'll feel a little sorry! But just because you have A LOT of other things to do, and on top of everything else, this totally blows.

    Thanks for bugging me on NaNo. I'll do my best! 🙂

    I'll watch shows as they come, because since I watch like 30 shows, there are SO MANY to watch, I don't even have time to get pissy about having to wait for next week's episode! I have many every day! 😀

  17. KDJames

    I plan to take a long nap. Just reading all this was exhausting.

    I'm sort of superstitious about telling anyone what I'm working on while I'm still working on it. But it's all writing all the time for me lately. It's exciting and terrifying and damn hard work. I love it.

    My niece had her first baby yesterday after 46 hours of labour with no drugs — I'm trying to keep in mind that as difficult as some of the things on my list are, none of them are THAT.

    Wishing good luck and a satisfying completion [of your GOALS, people] to everyone.

  18. Zoë Sharp

    Hi Alex

    First of all, huge congratulations on how well HUNTRESS MOON is going. I was honoured to be given a sneak peek at that book and thought it was terrific, as you know. And I'm so pleased that the whole e-book thing is working out so well for you. It's been a revelation for me, that's for sure.

    And, damn, you're busy, girl!

    I'm hoping for a calm autumn, but I know that won't happen. On my To Do list:

    make time for more exercise
    start the Krav Maga class I've signed up for
    Bouchercon – hurrah!
    get DIE EASY: Charlie Fox book ten out safely
    publish another e-short story
    edit my crime thriller standalone and get that out
    edit my supernatural thriller
    write the first part of a new trilogy
    start the next Charlie Fox book

    OK, so that's stretching into the winter – probably past Christmas and into the New Year, too, but it all has to be actioned sooooon.

    Oh, and if you want to talk about buying a car, let me know. I just went through that in April and was so frustrated by the assumption of the vendors (all male) that they could palm off any old rubbish just because I was a girlie. Argh!

  19. Alexandra Sokoloff

    Wow, Barbie, your sympathy is overwhelming! 😉 No, you're right, in normal circumstances I would just be whining, but I am seriously wondering when I am going to find three days to do that.

    30 shows? Okay, YOU'RE that TV consumer that everyone's always talking about!

  20. Alexandra Sokoloff

    KD, I understand completely about not talking about WIPs. You'll notice I DON'T really talk much about the real writing I'm doing. A lot of writers/artists think that talking about the work dissipates the intensity of the process. There may be something to that.

    Congratulations on the grand-niece! (No drugs? Yike…)

  21. Alexandra Sokoloff

    Z, you always have the same kind of schedule I do. I don't know if that's comforting or alarming.

    It does show that the job is pretty much the same job for all of us, though, right?

    I will definitely talk to you at BCon about the car thing. If car dealers are trying to take advantage of YOU, just wait till they see ME coming…

  22. Tiffany Podzemny


    Since you lit a fire under our ass at Writer's Academy this year I have decided to have my book up on Amazon by Christmas (hopefully a good time since everyone is getting their new ereaders as gifts.) So I need to find an editor, copy editor, formatter, and cover artist. Is this even possible? Suggestions?

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