2014 Writing Goals Update

We’re a quarter of the way through the year, with three months down and I thought wouldn’t this be a great time to take a look at the writing goals I set for myself at the beginning of the year and see what sort of headway I’m making. And yes, this may be one of the first times I’ve ever done a “writing goals update” during the year and perhaps the reason is because I know I’ve already made some decent headway, but the fact that I have made some headway I believe it cause for celebration. Here’s the original post with my goals. So . . .

1) A new edit/copyedit of Kyra: The First Book of Enchantus. I finished this edit/copyedit a couple of days ago, after setting myself the goal of getting a chapter done each night, I was able to get this completed in decent time. And the new version is in the process of being uploaded to the Amazon Kindle program right now. So goal number one is done!

2) Self-publish Erotica story. This is currently in process and I hope to have it ready to go by early May.

3) Edit “The Innkeeper’s Wife.” This is now next on my list.

4) Submit stories. This has been done and I recently received some delightful news that my first story had been accepted for an anthology. Though I do of course have other stories to submit which I will continue with during the year, including, hopefully, the one in item 3.

5) Write stories. And this relates with my news in the previous item as a recently wrote a story that ended up being the one that was accepted. Though I also plan to write more stories during the year.

6) Start the book. This is definitely going to be  a second half or last third of the year project that won’t get started for a while yet, but one never knows, and it’s certainly something I’m looking forward to.

Writing Goals for 2014

Now we look at what I hope to achieve writing-wise for 2014. Again, I’m going to set the bar low for myself as for the last couple of years I’ve found myself falling short of my annual goals, and as previously mentioned, because of BABY.

1. A new edit/copyedit of Kyra: The First Book of Enchantus. The book is currently on Amazon, but CreateSpace has opened up further distribution channels, and before I make my book available through these new channels, I want to do another run through and catch any typos, etc. And the good news is I’ve already gotten a start on this.

2. Self-publish Erotica story. I have an erotica story I wrote that I want to get up on Amazon. It will be published under a pseudonym. At the moment I’m having a friend work on the cover.

3. Edit “The Innkeeper’s Wife.” This is a short story I wrote last year, and I want to get it edited and finished through another draft or two and then start submitting it for publication.

4. Submit stories. Continue submitting stories for publication.

5. Write stories. I’ve get a couple of story ideas up my sleeve that I’d like to get written down this year.

6. Start the book. By “the book” I mean the novel idea that jumped into my head last year and wouldn’t let go. I need to do some more research and work on it, but I’d like to get that close to completion and hopefully get some start on the book, even if it’s just the first line or first page.

Now, let’s see how 2014 goes with writing.

Writing Goals for 2013 Achieved?

So I know I didn’t get much completed in 2013 as regards to writing goals, which can all be explained with one simple word: BABY. My wife gave birth to our son in August and all my time just magically vanished. Now, in early 2014, I’m finally starting to carve out time again to get back to writing, so my follow-up post to this one on writing goals for 2014 will be a simple and diminutive one, since my focus is on raising and being a part of my son’s life whenever I can, which doesn’t leave a lot of time for writing stuff. Fortunately, he goes down for bed around 7 and doesn’t get up again until midnight, so I will make it work.

Anyway, let’s see how we did.

GOAL #1: Continue writing Wyrd.  This is my historical fiction manuscript I’ve been working on for some time.  My goal for this year is to hit page 600, but I’d also just like to get as far as possible with this.  And I’m excited to see where it goes next.  You can see my updates for this project here.

Nope. That didn’t happen. Because BABY.

GOAL #2: Continue editing and read through of White Horse. This is a completed science fiction manuscript that I’ve been working on editing for a while, and haven’t made much headway, so hopefully this year, keeping things simple, I can get cracking on this.  And at the least come up with a better title.  Updates can be found here.

This sort of happened. I did get more of a read through done and got about half way through with plenty of notes. So not so bad. But again, not completely done because BABY.

GOAL #3: Write a short story or three. Got at least one short story written last year, so same goal this year, writing one or more stories.  Got a few ideas hanging around inside my brain.

Yay, this goal got completed. Wrote a story in the first half of the year about a couple running an small inn on an island. Which I really need to get around to editing and then submitting to magazines. A goal for 2014, methinks!

GOAL #4: Submit stories. Including the one I wrote last year, which will need to be edited, I’ve got a couple of other stories I want to be submitting to publications.

And this I did somewhat too, not as much as I wanted to, but still, got a fair number of rejections, so good.

Well, that wasn’t too bad. Now to start thinking about writing goals for 2014.

Running on Creativity

About a month ago I started jogging, first daily and then switching to every other day, since I have a newborn and he takes up most of my time. My previous job was pretty physical, providing me a regular weekly exercise, but since I’ve been done with that job working on raising my newborn, I don’t get a lot of physical exercise anymore.  I also don’t get a lot of time to do said physical exercise, so it was a case of making the time and knowing I didn’t have that much time to spare, so I limited it to an hour and settled on jogging.

There’s a nice creek close to where I live with a paved path beside it that is just perfect for running. And about four weeks ago I started jogging. At first it was pretty pathetic, with my needing frequent breaks to catch my breath and not making it that far, and needing plenty of water to keep me hydrated. 28 or so days later, I find my breathing and heart rate a lot more under my control, I rarely stop jogging now except for traffic lights and crossing the street, and have charted out a jogging course that keeps me along multiple creeks, making it a lot of fun to run. I use a running app called Runtastic Pedometer that tells that for my current jogging course I run between 4.5 and 5 miles each time and work up a really good sweat.

I’ve also felt my creativity explode with this exercise. I believe it was Justin Cronin who said he regular goes running and walking and often comes up with creative ideas while doing it. With the pregnancy, birth and now raising a newborn, I haven’t really had time or thoughts to spare for story ideas and creativity, let alone writing, and it seems this every other day jogging is helping to release this creativity that has been stagnant for some time.

Some time during my first week of running, I came up with a book concept that has since grown and grown and is now a novel I hope to begin writing sometime later this year or next year. It just started as a small idea and then started pouring through me, like the exercise had forced open a channel and let my thoughts come running out. It also might have something to do with my mind being so occupied with the newborn and during my jogging, I’m able to dedicate my time and thoughts to something completely different.

Needless to say I’m loving the running and the creativity that’s coming along with it.

Also at the moment it looks like the book is going to be called Olague.

Book Blather: Adverbs – Good or Bad?

Book Blather

Book Blather has my column up on Adverbs through this week.  The start of it is below, and follow the link to read the rest.

Whether you’re Ernest Hemingway or Stephen King, or just about any writer in between, then you probably have something to say about the creative writing device known as the adverb.  It’ll probably be something to the effect of that you hate them and use them sparingly . . . oops, there was one; you’ll use them rarely . . . dammit, there’s another . . . you’ll use them few and far between.  There we go, no adverb.

[CONTINUE READING . . .]

Writing Goals for 2013

After talking about what I got done writing wise last week, this week it’s time to set up some writing goals for 2013.  Now, I know I say this every year, but this year I’m really going for a couple of short and simple goals, and nothing too grandiose, as I always seem to overshoot when it comes to setting writing goals for the year.  And this is mainly because of big life changing events during the year which I can’t usually predict; last year I changed jobs, twice, with an all new work schedule each time, and I also moved.  This year I’m expecting to move again at some point, and I have another big life change on the horizon which I’m sure will change everything again.  So, for 2013, we’re going to try and make it an easy writing year, as far as writing goals go.

Of course, there’s nothing easy about writing.

GOAL #1: Continue writing WyrdThis is my historical fiction manuscript I’ve been working on for some time.  My goal for this year is to hit page 600, but I’d also just like to get as far as possible with this.  And I’m excited to see where it goes next.  You can see my updates for this project here.

GOAL #2: Continue editing and read through of White Horse. This is a completed science fiction manuscript that I’ve been working on editing for a while, and haven’t made much headway, so hopefully this year, keeping things simple, I can get cracking on this.  And at the least come up with a better title.  Updates can be found here.

GOAL #3: Write a short story or three. Got at least one short story written last year, so same goal this year, writing one or more stories.  Got a few ideas hanging around inside my brain.

GOAL #4: Submit stories. Including the one I wrote last year, which will need to be edited, I’ve got a couple of other stories I want to be submitting to publications.

And that’s it.  Let’s see how this wild ride of 2013 goes . . .

Writing Goals Achieved in 2012

As we now slough through the cold January of 2013, it’s time to look at how I did with my writings goals I set for myself around this time last year.  The original post can be found here.

GOAL #1: Hit Page 500 of Wyrd.  The goal for the manuscript I’m working on, Wyrd, this year is to hit page 500.  One might say this should be the end of the book with how it’s going, but I have a feeling I’m going to hear page 500 and have more story to tell, so we’ll just have to see.

Okay, while I didn’t hit page 500 of the Wyrd manuscript as I’d hoped, I did essentially achieve my writing goal of finishing Part Three of the book, which was a huge long chunk.  I’m now at on page 455 and am pretty confident I’ll be hitting and passing page 500 at some point in 2013.  You can find the Wyrd progress report post here.  Also as predicted, the manuscript is nowhere near complete, and probably isn’t even at half way.

GOAL #2: To be half ready with White HorseBy this I mean to have the manuscript half-edited, or either in a second or third draft, but at the halfway point of being completely edited.  I have a feeling I might get more done than this, but want to hedge my bets with the other projects I’m working on.  One thing I do know about this manuscript is that I’m going to change the name.

This did not happen.  I did get part way through a re-read, which I will continue with in 2013 and working through an edit, but with the number of goals I set up for myself for 2012, I feel I once again stretched myself too thin.  I also had some big changes in my life in 2012, including getting a new job and moving, which totally changes my planned writing schedule and makes it hard to create a new one.  But work will continue with White Horse in 2013.

GOAL #3: Begin work on second Four Horsemen book.  White Horse is the first book in a four-book series involving four separate and distinct post-apocalyptic worlds.  This goal is to get started on the second book, whether it’s with research, outlining, or writing out the first couple of pages, but to get it started in some way.

Er . . . yeah, see above for this.  I could say I started a very little bit on this with thinking about it in my mind, and a few things have started to take shape, but nothing really concrete yet.  It’s possible towards the end of 2013 I may start working on this in some capacity, but we will just have to wait and see.  I once again know a big life change coming in 2013, so I’m going to be a lot more lenient with my 2013 writing goals.

GOAL #4: Write 2-4 short stories. Since this worked well for last year’s goal, I’m setting it again for this year.

I got one full short story written this year, and it ended up being a pretty long one – was over the length of two regular short stories, so that should count!  I also have a couple of ideas in my head still wanting to get on the screen, so maybe in 2013.

GOAL #5: Self-publish two short story collections.  This is already in process, I have the cover and layout set for the first collection, called Unquiet Slumbers for the Sleepers, and hope to self-publish it on Smashwords later this month.  The second collection, In That Quiet Earth, I plan to self-publish  in March or April.

This got done and both short story collections were self-published over the course of the year and widely read.  They can be downloaded for free through Smashwords: Unquiet Slumbers for the Sleepers and In That Quiet Earth.

GOAL #6: Self-Publish Kyra: The First Book of EnchantusMy young adult fantasy book that I’m currently in the process of getting ready for self-publishing.  I don’t plan to get this self-published until the summer, say June or July.

This also happened, and was very happy with how the process went, and it was a very educational one.  Kyra: The First Book of Enchantus can be purchased in both ebook and print edition.

GOAL #7: Start work on the the second book of Enchantus.  Depending on how things go with self-publishing Kyra, but if things take off and it sells well and there is demand for the sequel, then I plan to start work on it in some way, whether it’s outlining and/or writing.  I would really like to do this and am excited to see what story would come out of it.

With the slow moving process of self-publishing Kyra and it’s not hitting any real sort of goal in sales, yet!, this is on indefinite hiatus until that changes.  But I will continue to promote and push Kyra through 2013.

GOAL #8: Give Nothing is an Accident a home. By this I mean, by the end of the year, Nothing is an Accident will need to be either available to readers in some way, or in the process of reaching that goal.  I’m still querying it to agents, and the next step will be looking into small presses, and the final step would be to self-publish which, if it becomes necessary, would probably be happening in fall, like September or October.

I had some great responses from agents through the year for this manuscript, and one very close acceptance.  I had planned to self-publish Nothing is an Accident in the fall, then in the summer of 2013, but now it is in a “to be determined” state as I think about and figure what I want to do with it.

And there you have it.  Not a bad year looking back in what I wanted to achieve, what I actually got done vs. what I didn’t, but then if there’s one thing I’ve learned with setting myself these writing goals at the beginning of each year it’s that I pretty much don’t complete them all by the end of December, but I do achieve the ones I really wanted to and cared about.

Next week we will have my writing goals for 2013.

Foods on the Writing Plate

It’s interesting what the change from one month to the next can bring.  Up until the end of March, my writing for 2012 consisted mainly of one particular project, but now with the onset of April and some preset deadlines for other projects, I find myself with three different projects going at once, which in my opinion is great, because while working on one book can certainly be enough to drive the writer each and every day, sometimes he or she isn’t feeling it and needs to work on something else, which is why it’s good to have — to use a cliche — a number of irons in the fire.  Here are my three irons going right now . . . all heating at various temperatures, some glowing with great heat, others just beginning to warm up; in the burning fires of my imagination . . . sorry, had to do that.

Iron #1: Wyrd:  This is the historical fiction manuscript that I’ve been playing around with for a long time now . . . by next year it will have been ten years since I started thinking about it and do some initial writings.  I’ve been seriously working on it, writing it, for the last two years and it’s currently over 83,000 words, and while on my word count meter this shows as over halfway, I honestly don’t actually think I’ve reached that point yet.  This is the book that’s been my sole project so far this year, and my goal is at least to make it to page 500, and I’m currently a handful of pages away from 400, so on target there.

Iron #2: In That Quiet Earth: Some time in April — right now I’m tentatively saying April 17th — I will release my second collection of short stories, called In That Quiet Earth.  Like Unquiet Slumbers for the Sleepers, it will also be ten stories and feature the first two sample chapters to two of my novels.  I do have the cover now which my wife it working on titling and once that’s all set I’ll be releasing that for people to see.  And hopefully the ebook will be available April 17th, but we shall see.  Also, like Unquiet Slumbers for the Sleepers is now, In That Quiet Earth will also be offered as a free ebook to entice readers to check out some of my work.

Iron #3: White Horse (or Sunil’s Bane): In November of last year I finished up my manuscript that I was calling White Horse, though it will eventually get a new title, once I find the right one.  With each novel that I finish I like to give it at least 3-4 months to stew so that I can firstly start working on something else, secondly allow myself to forget about it, and thirdly start my brain thinking about how I’m going to make it better when I start revising it.  It’s now been over five months and all these things have happened and I’m looking forward to beginning the revision process.  I’m going to be writing and documenting my process as I do this, updates of which can be found here, to kind of show my method, but also to lay it out in detail for me as this will be one of the biggest and most through rewrites I’ve attempted on a novel.  Up until now I’d really just been reading through and rewriting a number of times until I felt it was right; now I’m employing a more methodical process to make it the best story it can possibly be.

And that’s what I’ve got going on right now.  Plus a couple of short story ideas floating around in my mind that I’m going to start soon, and weekly writing exercises to keep me in shape!  I’ve also come up with the book I’m going to write if I do Nanowrimo this year.  I’m planning to and last night worked out what I was going to write, but that will be for another post.

The Most Inspirational Thing For a Writer I’ve Ever Heard: Writing Excuses Season 5 Episode 27: Perseverance

Every writer, whether published or aspiring, has had that low moment in their writing where they’ve mentally and emotionally hit rock bottom, and have felt like quitting and never writing another creative word again; just giving up; some may have had it happen to them on multiple occasions.  Often, during those low moments, you need something to pick you back up and get you back writing away at the keyboard again, seeing life and hope in your work.  There are numerous books that can help, various public speakers . . . But honestly, I just think you need to listen to one fifteen-minute episode of Writing Excuses to make you realize your talent and love for writing and to get you back into the typing seat.

If you’re not familiar with it, Writing Excuses is a great and entertaining podcast to help aspiring writers, with each episode around fifteen minutes long, featuring the talented minds of bestselling authors Brandon Sanderson and Dan Wells, and popular web-cartoonist, Howard Tayler, on a particular topic about writing.  In Season Six, author Mary Robinette Kowal joined the casters.

The episode of Writing Excuses in question is from Season Five, Episode 27, entitled “Perseverance.”  The episode features a guest appearance from New York Times bestselling author Sherilyn Kenyon, know for her very popular paranormal romance series.  The subject of the episode was actually suggested by Kenyon, and its highpoint is when she tells of her driving battle to first get published, which involved countless rejections until the point when she admitted she would never do it again for her own good, and then stole a postage stamp off her husband (which they could barely afford), and it was with that query that she got her her first publishing contract.  She also tells the story of how in the mid-nineties publishers stopped accepting and publishing paranormal romance, and all of a sudden she had no career and her family was poor once more, until she climbed her way back up to become the bestselling sensation she is today.

Sanderson also shares his low-point story, which was after he continued to receive nothing but rejection for his twelfth novel until he was almost ready to give up, and then three months later got a publishing contract.  Dan Wells’ story is a little different, as it happened after he’d published his first novel, but it hadn’t done as well as he’d expected, compared to other bestselling authors like his good friend, Sanderson, but he soon realized that his was what he loved to do and nothing was going to be make him stop.

Ultimately it comes down to this: even when you have so many other things like jobs and family and social lives happening constantly day-to-day for you, if you’re still making that time to write because it’s something you love to do and will always be doing no matter what happens, then you’re a writer.  There’s nothing else to it.

And for when you’re feeling a little down about your work and wondering if it’s all worth it, or whether you should bother writing anymore because nothing’s really happening with it; give this episode a listen, it’s always available online (or you can download it and have it ready for these particular situations), and you’ll find yourself inspired and excited about your ability and typing away at your keyboard in no time.

And in case you missed it in the post, here’s the direct link to the episode.

Why Writing Excuses is so Good and You Should Listen to it

There’s a writing podcast out there on the Internets that any aspiring writer, or writer looking to get published, or someone who just likes writing in some way, or even someone who just likes one or more of its three hosts should check out and start listening to.  It’s called Writing Excuses, and it’s hosted and run by Brandon Sanderson, author of the Mistborn trilogy, The Way of Kings, and is currently finishing the last Wheel of Time book, A Memory of Light; Dan Wells, author of I am Not a Serial Killer, Mr. Monster, and I Don’t Want to Kill You; and Howard Tayler, creator, author and illustrator of the great Schlock Mercenary web comic.  Mary Robinette Kowal also recently joined the show.

Writing Excuses is now working through its seventh season, with the average season being over thirty episodes .  The other cool thing about the podcast, which is part of their tag line — “Fifteen minutes long, because you’re in a hurry, and we’re not that smart” — is that while there are a number of episodes that run over the fifteen-minute mark, for the most part it stays true to that time limit, making it a great, quick and easy show to listen to as you know exactly how many episodes you can get through in a specific amount of time.

I’ve been listening to it in the car and at work a lot, and it has provided much entertainment during my eight-hour shifts.  The key to the show really is that these guys do know a lot about publishing and writing, as they have all made careers out of it.  Brandon Sanderson is an internationally bestselling author and really well known now, but at the time of the start of the podcast, in February 2008, his Mistborn trilogy had not yet been completed and published, so throughout the podcast, from season to season, he provides insightful details on his growing publishing career.  At the start of the show, Dan Wells had just sold his book to Tor, so from season to season listeners get to hear the developments with his books and successes.  And Howard Tayler, who runs his own webcomic and essentially self-publishes it and has made a career out of it by selling books and merchandise through his website, discusses throughout the show developments with his comic and website, as well as providing insights and writing tips he has learned.

Each episode is geared towards a specific topic and the three do a great job of getting each others’ viewpoints and opinions and experiences on this topic, and with the diverse genres they write in — Brandon mainly does epic fantasy, while Dan has published young adult horror — listeners get a good rounded podcast with each episode.  The show also features numerous guests authors like James Dashner, Eric Flint, and Mary Robinette Kowal (who has now joined the show), as well as editors, comic book artists, and a whole variety of other important people in the publishing and writing business.  A number of episodes are recorded at various conventions and feature guest speakers and Q&As with convention attendees.

The guys are also really funny.  They’ve been good friends for a long time, and Brandon and Dan went to school together, and because of this there’s a great rapport and frisson (if you will) between them, making it dynamic and organic and, like I said, very funny.  The Writing Excuses Wiki Page has a good episode listing for the first five seasons, with direct links.

The other impressive thing about the show is how bold its podcasters are; they don’t hold back at critiquing each others’ work in order to make a point about good writing.  To put this in perspective, I just finished up season 4, and in episode 29, they discuss line editing and then proceed to line edit Brandon Sanderson’s first, unpublished novel.  And its both hilarious and very informative.

Over the last month of listening to the show, I’ve learned so much about writing and it’s not that they discuss things about writing I’ve never thought about before, but they take it apart and break it down to its components and analyze it, which isn’t something I’ve done with most of these topics.  They also use real examples as often as possible, to put it all in exact context, so there can be no confusion about the meaning.

So the next time you have a spare fifteen minutes, which really isn’t that much time, give Writing Excuses a shot, pick a random episode, and I guarantee: you’ll learn something about writing you didn’t know, and you’ll laugh while doing it.