Going For Goals – February 2016

fabJanuary went well, I completed or near-completed all the goals I set for the month(though I didn’t touch my stretch goal), made some great progress on my yearly goals, and received three acceptance letters for short stories. That’s given me the confidence and drive to make February, FABruary.

I know, it’s a smaller list than January. Let me explain. I have two more stories I should be receiving edits on this month, and a possible third which could drop on me at any time. Also our family has a couple of weekends away planned, and I know I won’t do any writing then because I’ll be having family fun. That and this list doesn’t include things like the reciprocal feedback I’m giving my beta readers, the critiquing I do each month for my writers group and all my household goals that have nothing to do with my writing (like cleaning the spare bedroom and organising Xander’s toy mountain).

Without further ado, FABruary’s goals are:

  • Finish the first draft of Skeleton Romance(very loose working title)
  • Get betas back for The Troll’s Toll and utilise feedback
  • Get betas back for Foxworth and utillise
  • Write the new Charming sequel

And my stretch goal is:

  • Write some flash fiction with Holly’s course (or at least use it to give me some short stories)

I need that stretch goal because I’ve almost run out of short fiction to sell traditionally. If I want to keep making traditional sales I’m going to need some more material ;p

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January Goals Round-Up 2016

checklistWith three new acceptance letters for short stories received this month it was certainly a good start to the year.

I also got a great start to the working with editors goal(#6), since two editors (one for one of the new stories and one from a while back) have worked with me already.

Goal 3 went well too as I did a good amount of work on The Troll’s Toll novella, and wrote a huge amount in the Skeleton Romance novella.

In fact I made progress on my yearly goals #s 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, and 8. (Can’t remember what the goals were? Read this post(scroll to the bottom if you only want to know what goals I set))

For my January only goals:

  • Write ‘Skeleton Romance’ – I wrote 32,800 words. It’s not finished, but a good chunk is done
  • Prep a years worth of writing prompts for the Vision Writers website – completed
  • Make the new banner for the Vision Writers website – done
  • Continue updates of the Vision Writers website – done most of it, still some more to work to do though, and it will always need updates
  • Final review of The Troll’s Toll to prepare it for beta readers – I did indeed
  • Find beta readers for The Troll’s Toll and reciprocate – Found some, got some back (not all yet), still working on reciprocating for all of them (some haven’t sent me anything yet – storing up favours I guess ;p )
  • Send Foxworth to the Foxworth Feedback Community for beta reading – yes. Haven’t got any back yet though. Memo to me: give beta readers set date to have feedback returned by ;p

I didn’t get around to either of my stretch goals, but stretch goals are just that – the goal you do when everything else is done.

I also had a nice long chat with a good friend/writer/mentor to help me focus on a business plan and all the fiddly bits underneath the bonnet of that phrase.

Not a bad start to the year, but the start of the year is usually easy – you’ve got all the enthusiasm from New Years resolutions. Can it be maintained all year long?

 

picture sourced from pixabay

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Going Over

source: Wikimedia commons

source: Wikimedia commons

When I started writing this crazy story(the one I’m calling ‘My Skeleton Romance’ for lack of an actual name at the moment) I thought it would be a novella length, a bit longer than The Troll’s Toll (which is 20,ooo words). I guessed probably 30,000. However I’m passing 25 k (half a NaNoWriMo novel!) and I’m about a third of the way through the plot.

I’m not writing super lean, but I’m not fluffing about padding either. I’m just having so much fun with some of the characters. My supporting cast are stepping up and saying, “hey, I’m more important than the role you’ve assigned me. Here, how about you give me some depth by doing this? And you know what, that’ll go and complicate things for your protagonist too”

The story was supposed to be a romance with a bizarre fantasy/horror twist to it, the romance has taken a back seat to the ‘coming out’ side of the story for the first half (it’s growing a bit more romantic now) and other character relationships have become much more significant that I’d planned.

While I was laying out the plot I was astounding myself with some of the ideas I was having, and now it’s happening all over again.

It looks like this story is going to be a novel perhaps, not a novella. Either way, lets finish this draft first, then do some revision before I start trying to square it away into a box.

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The Great Turnaround

shortThings change. This immutable law of life is well known, but I’m surprised to see not just a change in my life, but a complete 180.

In my earlier days of writing, from youth to as recently as when this blog was still new(ish) I’ve struggled with short stories. I posted about my issue all the way back in 2012 (read the post) and one of my most hilarious tales of struggling to keep it short is in my bio, where I boast about “teaching my ninth grade English teacher the importance of setting word limits for short story assignments by handing in a 27 page novella” (as a side note, he loved it, said he barely noticed the time passing (he’d intended to only read a few pages and stop to show me where an appropriate length story would finish), and I got full marks).

Anyway, the point is I used to struggle with short fiction, I preferred to work on novel ideas. Now, all my published work (both traditionally published and self published) is short stories, and the bulk of what’s on my computer is short stories. If you count novellas as ‘short fiction’ then word for word I’ve written a larger amount of work in short fiction than in novels.

To me that seems so crazy. To the me of four years ago – she’s probably laughing at you for suggesting it (then asking for a ride in your time machine).

Have you made a major turn around in your life? Something you used to hate or have a lot of trouble with is now your preference?

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Going For Goals – January 2016

Image sourced from Wikimedia Commons

Image sourced from Wikimedia Commons

In addition to setting my yearly, overarching goals, I’m setting myself monthly goals. Some of these goals I’ve set now, well in advance, and others I will play a bit more by ear – I know what they’ll be but have no set month I intend to finish them during.

 

For January my goals are:

  • Write ‘Skeleton Romance’ (very loose working title) novella
  • Prep a years worth of writing prompts for the Vision Writers website
  • Make the new banner for the Vision Writers website
  • Continue updates on various pages of the Vision Writers website
  • Final review of The Troll’s Toll to prepare it for beta readers
  • Find beta readers for The Troll’s Toll and reciprocate
  • Send Foxworth to the Foxworth Feedback Community for beta reading

Stretch Goal:

  • Plot outline Footprints In the Sand novella and check with friend in police force to ensure I’m procedurally correct for a rural NSW police force

 

So far I’ve written nearly 15,000 words in the projected 30,000 word novella I’m temporarily calling Skeleton Romance, and I’ve prepped 7 writing prompts for Vision. Through voting with the active members we’ve settled on an image for the Vision banner and I’ve been collecting info to update several pages of the website.

Not a bad start for the month/year – lets hope I can maintain the pace.

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Vision Writing Prompt: Technology Twist

Another year another writing prompt on the Vision Writers blog.

Writing Prompt: Technology Twist

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2015 Rounded Up + 2016 Goals

I knew 2015 wasn’t going to be highly productive, so I set my goals what I thought was accordingly. I clearly had high hopes.

The second two trimesters of this pregnancy were even worse than the first – and the first was no cake walk. I also came across a fact I knew, but didn’t KNOW: that having two children simultaneously is harder than simply doubling the amount of effort to care for one child.

I still did achieve a few goals. Goal #1, to be a good president to my writers group Vision Writers, well I was voted in for a second year, so I was at least good enough to justify that vote. Goal #5 of starting a mailing list went perfectly, 100% complete.

Goal #4, continue writing and selling short fiction went fairly well. Plenty of selling, got two confirmed sales (as in contracts signed and/or edits done) and one where I’m still waiting for a final yes(despite having done a pretty hefty amount of content edits at their request). Also there’s a couple of stories currently in the ‘final round’ before approval as well. I also scored another Honorable Mention, this time for ‘The Beauty of The Dance’ in the Q1 2015 Writers Of The Future contest. As for writing I didn’t quite go so well. I wrote Foxworth (5,000 words), Couple’s Counseling (3,400), and Ella’s Baby (500). I’ve done a lot of editing on other stories, and I’ve plotted out quite a few new ideas, but didn’t really commit new words to page.

Goal #3, completing my final revision of Written By The Stars is my disappointing one. I’ve almost completed it, but almost isn’t done, not to mention I’m wracked with doubts about it. Unfeedbacked editing is really very hard. Am I ruining something that’s actually good while ‘fixing’ it? Am I leaving actually-really-awful bits assuming they’re fine? I think I psych myself out, and of course finding the time to try and sit down and work on any real stretch of the story is very hard at the moment.

Goal#2 was always a stretch goal, for if a miracle occurred and I somehow completed all the other goals, so having done little more than writing down a few notes for this one isn’t depressing me.

Goal #6, keep learning, is an abstract goal. I learned plenty. I’ve learned more about making covers, about marketing, about editing and revision, about public speaking (I used to be great in High School, but a lack of practice has left me a little less confident than back in my teens apparently ;p ), about formatting ebooks, and – though not exactly pertinent to my writing career – about raising children. All up I suppose I’m happy enough with this one.

Overall it wasn’t too bad a result, but I think the over achiever in me is just pissy because I didn’t smash everything.

And now, next year’s goals:

Goal #1 – Finish the edits of Written By The Stars. Yeah, you know why that’s top of the list

Goal #2 – Be the best president I can be of my writers group, Vision Writers. Why? because if you’re going to do something, you better kick ass at it.

Goal #3 – Work on my several novellas: Footprints In The Sand, The Troll’s Toll, Princess Paladin, and my newest that exists only under the working title ‘Skeleton Romance’. I want to not just finish them all, but publish at least one of them.

Goal #4 – Keep writing and selling short fiction. Different to novellas because shorter, and not specified stories, whatever inspiration takes my fancy.

Goal #5 – Finish one of the NaNo novels I started, but then never touched again post-November. I’ve got a few to chose from, but I’ll tackle whichever takes my fancy at the time.

Goal #6 – Work with as many editors as I can. Since I have a few sales I still need to receive edits on that will give me a bit of a start, but I’m also hoping to hire a freelance editor for one or more of my aforementioned novellas. Also achieving goal 4 and selling some other short stories should expose me to further new editors. I want to do this so I can get professional feedback and increase my understanding of what needs fixing and what doesn’t in my own work.

Goal #7 – Find some dedicated beta readers. I already have a great critique group with Vision, but if I stick to my goals the volume I intend to write will be too much for polite group usage – I don’t want to hog all the group’s time. But I’ll still want feedback on a lot of what I’m writing. Obviously I will also need to allocate the time to reciprocate the effort my beta-readers will give me.

Goal #8 – Keep Learning. Because you don’t ever want to stop.

Stretch Goal – complete final revision on Storybook Perfect.

Yes, I know, I’ve got more goals than last year. But you failed Kirstie, why aim higher? Two reasons. 1/ I’m going to have a bit more time this year since Xander starts school (OMG, when did my little boy grow up!). I won’t be spoiled with an excess of time, but shall have more than I did this year. 2/ Because if you don’t reach higher you’re never really going to get anywhere, are you now?

So who’s ready for 2016 (and spending the next month or two accidentally putting ’15’ in dates instead of ’16’) ?

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All I Want For Christmas

What do I want for Christmas? I want anyone who has an agenda (be it good or bad in ANYONES view) on parents and children to stop using autism as a scare tactic. Anti-vaxxers have been doing it for ages, but a couple of days ago I saw a news article about research that proved if you took anti-depressants during pregnancy your child was 87% more likely to be diagnosed autistic by age 7.

Now my assumption is if your depression is so bad that your doctor actually prescribes you anti-depressants during pregnancy and you take them, that your condition is pretty severe, and you’re in danger of harming yourself and consequently your unborn child. Why put extra pressure on your already fragile self of fearing autism when death is a possible consequence?

The pattern I’m seeing here is people saying autism is a worse consequence than the possibility of death. Articles all over the internet are telling me my son is THE worst case scenario; there is nothing worse in the entire world than having a child like him. And that makes me pray he is never able to read these articles. Can you imagine what it would be like to be told death is preferable to the way your mind works?

To be clear, I’m not telling anti-vaxxers they have to vaccinate their kids. It’s your choice. I may disagree with it, but that’s your prerogative (though I’ll keep my too-young-to-be-fully-vaccinated daughter very far away from your kids sorry to say). I’m also not saying to take drugs if you’re pregnant and damn the consequences. I’m saying if you’re talking about these things(or anything else for that matter) with other people, trying to convince them to follow your way of thinking, don’t use autism as a way to frighten them into siding with you.

Late at night, after I settle my six month old daughter back to sleep after her middle of the night feed, I’ve been unable to fall back to sleep this has been stressing me so severely. I don’t ever want my child to learn that so many people consider him a fate worse than death.

Is autism REALLY a fate worse than death? Could you say that to anyone, child or adult, anywhere on the spectrum? Tell them better they died at two years old, gasping for breath, unable to understand what’s happening, choking as the coughing from whooping cough doesn’t allow them to breathe air back in before coughing again and again and again until there’s no air left to expel and everything goes black. Tell them better they died in utero because their mother was so despondent she cut her wrists and bled too much before changing her mind and trying to crawl from the bath tub to the phone, never reaching her goal.

tell him

tell him

Tell my son, only two weeks away from turning 5 that he, happy though he is, so adoring of his sister that he stresses strangers might kidnap her so pulls the shade of the pram down to hide her in large crowds, loving to dance, and play with robots and dinosaurs, but is unable to speak or understand much of what is said to him, that he would be better off dead.

Autism is not a fate worse than death. Don’t talk like it is. Don’t spread this heart-breaking lie around. Sure, debate your points if you want, tell people all the research you’ve done or about your friend or family member who had an unfortunate bad experience, but don’t ever say again that autism is a possible side effect with the intent to scare someone into following your advice.

That’s what I want for Christmas.

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Vision Writing Prompt: Lost Luggage

I’ve posted another writing prompt over on the Vision Writers Website. Check it out if the holidays haven’t swallowed you alive yet.

Writing Prompt: Lost Luggage

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Vision Writing Prompt: Unreliable Narrators

Wow, you say. Kirstie’s doing so well with her revision for NaNoReMo that she’s got the time to make and post another cool writing prompt on the Vision Writers Group’s blog.

Yes. Yes that’s exactly what’s going on.

Unreliable narrator, you say? I’m sure I don’t know what you mean…

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