Review of 2014 Writing Goals

Since we’re working our way steadily through 2015 now, with January approaching its end, it’s time to look at my writing goals for 2014 and see how I did. And then next week I’ll be putting up my writing goals for 2015. The goals from last year are listed below with commentary in blue.

1. A new edit/copyedit of Kyra: The First Book of EnchantusThe 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.

This goal was achieved relatively early on in the year, much to my delight, and the new revised edition, the second edition essentially, is up and available on Amazon and through further distribution channels.

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.

This goal was also achieved in the first half of the year with a fantastic cover and it’s now up on Amazon and Smashwords. If you’re interested, shoot me an email at alex@bookbanter.net.

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.

This goal was completed and I was really happy with how the final edit turned out. I submitted it to the New Yorker, because you always have to start at the top – right? – and haven’t heard anything back, so will be submitting it to other publications through 2015.

4. Submit stories. Continue submitting stories for publication.

This I did do throughout the year and had one particular story get accepted which I will explain under goal #5. I also started a new story late in the year which I need to get back to soon.

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

Early on in the year I’d submitted an old vampire story I wrote to an anthology seeking vampire stories, which was rejected, so I’d decided to write another vampire story to submit to the anthology, which I managed to get written and edited through a couple of drafts and submitted before the deadline. Then later on in the year I was delighted to hear that the story had been accepted for the anthology, These Vampires Still Don’t Sparkle, which was released in December and is now available in ebook and print and can be found here

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.

This goal was not achieved, however I wasn’t too hopeful that it would be and that is mainly because just as in 2013 I had a big change in my life with the birth of my son, I started a new job midway through 2014 working for the United States Post Office as a letter carrier. It took a lot of time and energy learning the job and once the holiday season hit I had to basically shut down my writing as I was often working 12-hour days. Nevertheless, I did get some further research and plotting and planning done, as well as creating my map for my made-up town and filling in a lot of details, so in a way the goal was a completed.

Overall, I think this might be my most successful year yet for setting reasonable goals for 2014 and pretty much achieving them all. I think the key was knowing how much I could set myself to actually achieve, and will need to apply the same rubric for my 2015 goals.

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.

“2012 Novel and Short Story Writer’s Market” edited by Adria Haley (Writer’s Digest Books, 2011)

2012 Novel and Short Story Writer's Market
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In the 2012 version of Novel and Short Story Writer’s Market — the 31st Annual Edition — perhaps more so than ever, the key to the 600+ page book is its ease to navigate through it to help the user/reader get the information they need as quickly as possible.  It begins with a thorough contents listing and a “how to use this book” guide, along with the detailed index, finding that necessary publisher or magazine is a cinch.

This volume features articles divided into sections: “Craft & Technique” includes “Avoiding Cliches,” “Writing Authentic Dialogue,” and “Crafting Short Stories” to name a few; “Fiction Genres” on “Romantic Author Roundup,” with specific articles on authors like Julia Quinn, Lisa Gardner, Michael Swanwick and Ken J. Anderson; as well as “Managing Work” covering “Agent,” “Self-Publishing” and “Practical Tips for the Nighttime Novelist.”  The “Resources” section helps clue in every kind of writer on terms and organization, even with a special section for Canadian writers.  The editor has even included a whole section called “Writing Calendar,” featuring a page for each month of the year, as she talks about the importance of goals, and there’s a page for each month to help the writer hit his or her goals.

The layout of the publishers and magazines makes it quick and easy to find a contact email or website, which is crucial in this technological age.  This edition also includes a free one-year subscription to WritersMarket.com (www.writersmarket.com).  The volume has been thoroughly updated and made ready for the advent of the ebook and self-publishing revolutions, providing many necessary tools and references for today’s writer.  Whether you’re a novelist with plenty of books under your belt, or a first-time freelance writer looking to publish that first piece, 2012 Novel and Short Story Writer’s Market is a simply must have book.

Originally written on December 30, 2011 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of 2012 Novel and Short Story Writer’s Market from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

“White Horse” Progress Report 23

WORDS WRITTEN:2,327

TOTAL WORDS: 64,583

REASON FOR STOPPING: Reached a good stopping point for the week.

WORDS FOR THE WEEK: 14,181 words

This was easily the most productive week writing-wise I’ve ever had in my life.  Who knew the key was to not have a job keeping you busy each day.  It was kind of fun to feel like a full time writer for the week.  And here were the word goals I hit each day:

  • Monday – 5274
  • Tuesday – 4419
  • Wednesday – 2161
  • Thursday – 2327

Completed all of chapter fifteen and made some good headway with chapter sixteen.  The novel is moving along with great speed now that I’ve completely outlined the rest of the plot.  I think 75k is still a good final word count goal for the manuscript, though there is a chance it may go over, but this is definitely the right ballpark for it.  The other goal I hit at the end of this week was I reached PAGE 300!
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“White Horse” Progress Report 5: 1458 words

Made some good progress tonight. Not only was chapter three completed, but the novella is now taking shape.  I’d reached the point in a previous draft and wasn’t quite sure where the story was going to go next, but fortunately my characters were established enough that they knew what to do and the scenes flowed one after the other.

It’s without a doubt my favorite part of writing: where you have no clue what is going to happen next in the story, and your subconscious takes over and continues the story for you . . . somehow.  It feels like your characters are writing the story for you and you’re just along for the ride, which is kind of crazy to say, but is partially true in that some part of your mind is using the characters to drive the story.  Sometimes this facet of writing is readily available and the story writes itself; other times it’s hard work, requiring rewrites.

Today was one of those important days where the complete story took its shape.  This being the first novella I’m writing (I’ve either done short stories, full-length manuscripts, or short stories that turned into books), I was starting to wonder how to keep the story honed so that it wouldn’t turn into a full book.  Well, today, my mind did it somehow, and the story has its novella shape now that just feels right.

Also the entire four-novella project feels less like a giant piece of work with no end in sight that will take years.  Now I can somewhat see an end to this novella, with the whole project having more structure and substance.

Enough banter, time for some work in progress:

“Something on you mind Alan, or do you just like spooking your customers when they’re using the facilities?”

He laughed at that.

“No, something just came through the grapevine I wanted to pass along to ya.”

I was going to thank him before he said anything, but in the dim light I saw a serious look in his eyes I’d never seen before.

This wasn’t good.

“Seems like something’s spooked the honchos upstairs.  Spooked them in a big way.”


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“On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft” by Stephen King (Scribner, 2000)

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Stephen King’s On Writing is out, so go get a copy!  Having read past the three-quarter mark already, I can veritably say that this book is a doozy.  First off, this is not an autobiography, even though it is being marketed as one.  Trust me, I have heard from Steve himself (in the book that is) and he most certainly does not want the Constant Reader to think that.

The book is just under three hundred pages long, for the simple reason that King wanted to keep it as simple and straightforward as possible, without the boring drivel that so many other authors employ.  In his words: “This is a small book because most books about writing are filled with bullshit.”  There are many sections throughout the book, but it can be divided into two main parts.

The first consists of Stephen King’s life, growing up in a poor family, without a father, and with a mother who was always working.  He talks about how he spent most of his early years traveling from state to state; his family struggling to get by.  He graduated from the University of Orono, Maine with a degree in English education, but he couldn’t get a job, so he ended up working in a Laundromat, washing sheets every day.  His first story to generate a substantial income was “The Graveyard Shift.”  Then there was nothing until a publisher picked up Carrie, whereupon he began the journey to success, fame and riches, not to mention being one of the world’s bestsellers.

The second major section of the novel consists of his view on writing: what he believes to be good writing, and what he thinks one should look out for when writing, the pitfalls and hang-ups, as well as his pet peeves.  The reader also learns of how he came up with his ideas that eventually led to the lengthy novels that have given him great success throughout his career.

Now for some secrets:  the main character in Carrie was actually based on two girls Stephen King knew in high school; for the first fifteen years of his career, he was an alcoholic and a cocaine addict; he remembers nothing about writing Cujo; in Misery he is the writer and the number-one fan, Annie Wilkes, is all his problems, including the drugs and alcohol.  This helps to explain the numerous characters in his book who are either raging alcoholics or have been.  It also helps to explain some of the wickedly twisted and fucked up, yet always entertaining, ideas that he has produced throughout the years.

If you’re an aspiring writer, read it.  If you’re a published writer, you should still read it.  If you’re a fan, don’t hesitate!  And if you’re none of the above, still read it because it’s a great book.  On Writing is currently available pretty much everywhere, but the nearest location is your campus bookstore.

The book is filled with pearls of wisdom for everyone; you will not be disappointed.

If you liked this review and are interested in purchasing this book, click here.

Originally published on October 9th 2000 ©Alex C. Telander.

Originally published in the Long Beach Union.

“Booklife: Strategies and Survival Tips for the 21st Century Writer” by Jeff VanderMeer (Tachyon, 2009)

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Jeff VanderMeer is a writer who’s done a little bit of everything, whether it’s publishing compelling fiction, editing his own anthologies (as well as co-editing with his wife, Anne), going on book tours for author appearances, or presenting writer workshops around the country.  He’s the sort of guy who has a lot of say about writing and publishing and advice he can offer just about any level of writer.  Fortunately, he’s done just that in his new book, Booklife: Strategies and Survival Tips for the 21st-Century Writer.

Booklife is a book for any kind of writer whether he’s someone who’s never published anything and is looking to make it in the business, or whether she has a few books under her belt and is looking to make it really big.  Booklife has a little something for every type of writer.  The book is divided into two parts: Public Booklife, which covers how to present both yourself and your work as a writer, how best to organize and carry out successful signings and book tours, and – most importantly – creating and managing your goals so you can really make it as a writer.  The second part, Private Booklife, covers some of the mechanics of writing, how important feedback is – and not just from friends and family, and using some of the lessons from the first part of the book in different and constructive ways to make your writing the best it can be.

And it doesn’t all end when you reach the last page of Booklife, there is the booklifenow.com website, filled with helpful articles, tips and strategies, updated three times a week, and affiliated with Publisher’s Weekly Booklife portal.  Booklife is not just a book, but a whole package experience that gives you ideas and suggestions to help you achieve your goals; it’s not necessary to do every thing this book tells you; it’s up to get what you want out of it, which depends on how much work you put into it.  But Booklife will certainly help you along the way to becoming that bestselling writer you’ve always dreamed of.

CLICK HERE to purchase your copy from Bookshop Santa Cruz and help support BookBanter.

Originally written on December 11th 2009 ©Alex C. Telander.