Goals and Goaling

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In June Harley turned 3, so cue birthday party! She had a fabulous Trolls themed party at the new local park. She had a blast.

The class on writing better body language took up a lot more headspace and time than I’d expected. It was totally worth it, but it also meant nearly all my writing time each day was taken up by it. And with winter hitting here in usually sunny Queensland I can’t even pretend I can breathe through my nose.

Editing T-J’s novel is harder than you’d think. He’s requested I write additions in and he’ll edit them, but his voice is on the other side of the planet from any of the voices I’ve used, and whenever I come across something I have to write extensive explanations of what I mean/why I mention or corrected it. It’s a very clean draft but there’s still lots to do >.<

Because the course and T-J’s novel were my priorities nothing else on my goals list for June got looked at. It’s maddeningly frustrating for me when I see ‘how little I got done’ but i know I still got a fair amount done so I’m trying to not get too upset over it. Plus, when I did my mid-year goal check (which you can see below) I realised I was doing pretty well for the year.

Now for my mid-year goal check!

  1. Publish the Charming For Hire Series: Some progress achieved. I have the first three stories completed and have feedback on them all, just need to implement the feedback on the third one and outline and write the fourth. I want the fourth to be at least finished to first draft level before I work on covers ect to release the first three so I can do a rapid release schedule.
  2. Get beta feedback on Lovely/Lonely: I have the feedback, I just need to implement it ;p
  3. Continue writing and publishing short fiction in traditional publishing markets: I’ve written six new short stories so far this year and while I do need to hurry and get a few stories back out in circulation I’m always careful to do a new edit or at least read-thru and tinker of each story after it has been rejected. I have one story I’m waiting to receive the editor’s changes on before publication in the next month or two.
  4. Take my back catalogue of short stories that are out of their exclusivity periods and self-publish them: Got nowhere so far, but mostly because I’m waiting to get the Charming stories ready so I can release some of these in any gaps in the Charming series’ schedule.
  5. Start working towards creating a monthly fiction podcast: I’m doing plenty of research on this, a microphone is on it’s way. My big stumbling block ATM is whether it’ll be a short fiction podcast (a different short story each episode) or a serialised fiction podcast(one story told in chunks across multiple episodes). Until I know which format I’m going to do I can’t really proceed.
  6. Continue being a good president to Vision Writers Group: No complaints ;p Though we are having some fun with the print version of our most recent anthology which is taking up a frustrating amount of time as I have to tinker over and over again with files.
  7. Complete one of the unfinished novels: I completed the first draft of ‘Key, Clocks, Quests’ in May so huzzah, this one is 100% completed (though KCQ itself still needs to be self edited and beta read before it goes out in the world, but I have a finished draft and that’s what the goal was about).
  8. Continue learning: Listening to podcasts, reading craft books, reading books in my genre, researching markets I want to sell to, researching successful self publishing, researching book marketing, attending webinars, doing courses (the 5 Years to Become a Bestseller course, and Margie Lawson’s ‘Writing Body Language and Dialogue Cues Like A Psychologist’ for two I’ve done so far this year). Also every month critiquing others work. I think I can safely say I’ve got this one (not that I’ll be stopping or even slowing down on this one; I know I’ve still got heaps to learn)
  9. Rewrite Written by the Stars: no progress thus far at all. Too busy on all the other stuff, but I do still have half a year ;p

I’ve broken down all the tasks I need to do for the rest of the year to keep on track with my 5 Years To Become a Bestseller course and my own personal goals and I *should* be able to manage it, though I’ll have to be careful not to get distracted.

My goals for July are:

  • Complete an early stage edit of my husband’s book, I Am Not Liam Neeson
  • Beta-read a friend’s novel
  • Use Beta reader feedback on Nothing Charming to edit it
  • Start using beta-reader feedback on Lovely/Lonely to edit the novel
  • Write at least one new short story
  • Catch up on the reading for my five year best seller course

I’m reading some crime/thriller books right now to help me get more in the headspace for T-J’s crime/thriller, but of course his book is also heavily comedic so I’m struggling to find stuff that’s really like that out there. Any recommendations?

Books I read in June:

  • Surpassing Certainty: Janet Mock’s second memoir, focusing on her 20s. I’m ready for her one about her 30s now (pity she’s not finished living them, I’ll be waiting a fair few years)
  • Feed: at long last, I’ve only been meaning to read this when it was just a single book on its own ;p
  • Deadline: sequel to above
  • Blackout: end of the trilogy to above. Great books if you like the zombocalypse and political thrillers smooshed together
  • Rise: the novella collection, in audiobook hours almost as long as the 2/3 of the trilogy ;p
  • Feedback: because I’m on a roll with this series ;p
  • Beneath The Sugar Sky: back to the home for wayward children(children who’ve been through portals to fantasy worlds) and boy did I love it. Same author as the above books, but sugary sweet now)
  • Attachments: Rainbow Rowell serves me nostalgia, D&D, and awesome characters, but lags a bit on the romance in this one
  • Eleanor & Park: Rowell does NOT disappoint in the romance department this time!
  • The Princess Bride: I’ve been looking for the ‘unabridged’ version for DECADES, I gave in, read this and realised, there’s no abridgement, it’s just the frame story for the book XD
  • The Sleeping Doll: recommended in my Margie Lawson course and a crime novel to help with getting my head in that space for T-J’s novel
  • Roadside Crosses: the sequel to The Sleeping Doll.
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Oh what an eventful month ;p As seems to be my habit I have yet another injury to report, this time spectacularly sprained ankle. Fortunately, unlike my repeatedly injured arm, a sprained ankle is GREAT for writing because it’s the perfect excuse to sit down with your leg elevated and get to typing.

As such, I met my main goal and completed the first draft of ‘Keys, Clocks, Quests’ at 130,000 words. Obviously there’s going to be some trimming before it’s ready. I have an editing plan set out since I’ve written this draft in stints across the last FIVE years, but I’m following the well-beloved advice of letting the manuscript ‘breathe’ for a while first. This gives me a chance to work on some other projects instead of going into full burnout on the project.

Speaking of burnout I am now 100% sure NaNoWriMo no longer works with my personal writing style. Something about the competition effect of it makes me forgive crappy writing too much(because who cares, more words) and push myself way to hard for the ‘win’. It took me more than two weeks after NaNo was done to write the final 10k words because I felt so burned out, for the first 9 days of May I was only writing 100 or so words a day and those by great force of effort. If I ever say I’m going to do NaNo again, remind me of this moment please.

On the plus side though, I did have that moment of pieces falling together perfectly during the final battle when things I’d been putting in on a whim suddenly converged with one another for a perfect recovery from the blackest moment, enabling my hero to defeat the big bad 😀 I even started writing it with tears of excitement in my eyes!

I started working on T-J’s novel too. It’s an amazingly clean draft for a first timer (and I know what they look like usually thanks to the massive amount of critiquing I’ve been doing over the last six years at Vision Writers Group meetings). Of course, that doesn’t mean it’s perfect – there’s still pleeeeeeenty of notes. Let’s hope my marriage remains intact after he’s read all my comments ;p

On the ‘keep learning’ goal I set for the year as a whole, one of the courses I did was significantly more basic than I’d expected. Anyone who’s listened to the podcasts I have for even one year (significantly less time than I have) would already know all this info, and for free. Luckily I picked it up for a song and got a bunch of bonuses some of which have proved more useful, so I’m not pissed.

Also re: learning I’m still tracking along well with the 5 Year Best Seller course and I attended 4 different webinars, but they were mostly on book marketing, not craft ;p

June Goals:

  • Complete an early stage edit of my husband’s book, I Am Not Liam Neeson
  • Do all assignments in the Margie Lawson course I’m taking
  • Beta-read a friend’s novel
  • Use beta-reader feedback on Lovely/Lonely to edit the novel
  • Use Beta reader feedback on Nothing Charming to edit it
  • Write at least one new short story

Well damn son, I do set me some lofty goals. Especially considering I have Harley’s third birthday party to plan and a house which is, thanks to my sprained ankle and a lovely cycle of colds working through the kids, a little bit messier than I’d like it to be >.> Plus I’ve been invited to an old friend/coworker’s wedding <3 but he knew me back when I was skinny and stylish so I have until September to drop a few dress sizes and look suitably smashing.

For those who want to see what I read through May, these are the books I read:

  • The Red Queen: OMG what a massive book! And that satisfaction of finishing a series you started when you were 14 *ahhhh* at long, long last
  • The Journey: an Obernewtyn prequel short story, might not have great appeal to those who haven’t read the series though
  • The Dark Road: another Obernewtyn prequel short story which confused me, and broke my heart… but I enjoyed ;p
  • Last Dragon Standing: another great ending to a cool series. No disappointment here (except that it’s all over now and I didn’t realise it was the final book when I grabbed it)
  • Artemis: no idea how it took me so long to get to this book considering how much I loved The Martian
  • The Speed of Dark: I loved so much of this, but very mixed emotions about the end, read my review if you need more info.
  • Redefining Realness: Janet Mock’s biography of going through childhood and her teen years as a trans woman.
  • Write To Market: I’ve heard about this book a million times, finally got around to reading it

I also kept up to date with all my favourite short fiction podcasts (Podcastle, EscapePod, Psuedopod(who released a cool 3 part novella this month, definitely check it out if you dig horror), Clarkesworld, Lightspeed, Strange Horizons, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Apex Magazine, and Toasted Cake). I also found a new one, Glittership which is a queer SF/F short fiction podcast. I’m working thru the available back episodes and loving it.

I’m always looking for good fiction podcasts so if you know any feel free to share them with me. I’m also curious about serialised novels via podcast, but don’t know where to start, so if you know any good fantasy ones feel free to link me 🙂

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Distraction thy name is Atelier ;p

In April I did Camp NaNoWriMo in an attempt to finally complete the first draft of ‘Key,Clocks, Quests’ (working title). It was the only goal I set for myself for the month. Now, after two NaNo’s, I have managed to get 120k done and am in the home stretch now, only about 10k to go until those two sublime words: ‘The End’.

I’m particularly impressed with the fact I still pulled off a 50k word month since it was not exactly a quiet month. The first two weeks were school holidays, never the most productive when the whole day is full of keeping two kids happy and a house clean ;p We also went to the Gold Coast Supanova (I spotted a Rei Ryugazaki cosplayer and was devastated I couldn’t get a photo with him because I was in line for Peter Capaldi’s signature so couldn’t just run over and fangirl) and I’d not finished Ni No Kuni 2: Revenant Kingdom from last month, plus Atelier Lydie and Suelle came out in early April here in Australia, so I lost a fair bit of productivity to my gaming addiction ;p

Yet despite all that I still managed write the 50,000 words in ‘Keys, Clocks, Quests’ and also to edit a couple of short stories and submit them, as well as writing a little scene which will become part of another short story in the near future (fans of Mayu and Yuta from Hananbi to Kitsune rejoice, their story is going to continue after all!)

Throughout April I also attended another three webinars, nabbed a short video course at a great price (I’ll let y’all know if it’s a good one when I finally have the time to sit down and go through it ;p ) and have purchased a course that starts in June that came highly recommended. Of course, I’m still trucking on with the 5 Year Best seller course too.

In May my goals are:

  • Finish ‘Keys, Clocks, Quests’ first draft
  • Do an early stage edit of my husband’s book, I Am Not Liam Neeson
  • Use beta-reader feedback on Lovely/Lonely to edit the novel
  • Use Beta reader feedback on Nothing Charming to edit it

 

Books I read in April:

  • Beyond Magenta: like a short story anthology, but of bios of transgender teens
  • The Stone Key: My first reading of the fifth book in the Obernewtyn Chronicles (I quit reading the series as it was releasing so I could read them all in one go once the series was complete, but only just found the time now to finally reread the earlier books and read the new ones now)
  • The Sending: The sixth book in the Obernewtyn Chronicles
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March was a busy month. I kept picking up extra shifts at work, and with Easter and school holidays at the end you can bet there was no lack of stuff to do.

Regarding my specific goals set for March:

  • Revise and find betas for Nothing Charming: I completed my revisions of Nothing Charming. The story ended up at 40k (almost a full legnth novel) and is now out with beta readers to get the feedback back to me by May 1st (a lot of the readers have already sent it back, but I’m focusing on finishing ‘Keys, Clocks, Quests’  as priority next month, so won’t look over it until I’m done that first draft).
  • Continue editing ‘Light In The Deep’ with group feedback and submit final portion for critique: this one got a little derailed. I got some feedback in the second portion I submitted to my writers group which meant I had to look deeper at a few things, and these problems need to percolate for a bit while I try to find the solution. (a bit more on this further below)
  • Choose between ‘Keys, Clocks, Quests’ and Tucca of The Tides and prep outline so ready to go for finishing in April (Camp NaNo): I did up a super outline of the whole of ‘Keys, Clocks, Quests’. I did this so I can finish the first draft on course for the changes I’l make to the start in revisions. It will also help keep me focused when I do those rewrites for the start(hopefully later this year). I even had one of my more experienced writer pals go over the outline with me and refine it – thanks Jake <3
  • Revise ‘Look Skyward’: didn’t touch it sadly. Blame Ni No Kuni ;p

One morning I woke up with a cool short story idea and thus was born ‘Against The Black Knight’ (1,700 words). So, though it wasn’t a goal, I’ve written another actually short short story. I’m very happy about that since I wanted to produce a lot of new short fiction this year. I’ve also been getting back a few rejections, editing with their feedback and sending the stories on to new homes, so I’ve really been rocking the ‘short fiction’ part of my yearly goals this March.

For the second time this year I had Harley in daycare but I didn’t go to my ‘day job’ and instead wrote. I edited a massive amount of Nothing Charming that day. Combined with the results from a similar test I did last month where a wrote and edited to great result. I’m hoping if this contines we might make it a weekly instead of monthly thing ;p

I did a webinar on better book descriptions (back cover blurbs) with Bryan Cohen (who I listen to a lot on his Sell More Books Show podcast) and another on ‘How to Get your First Ten Book Reviews’. I also read two craft books(Write Your Novel In A Month and The Story Equation) and did a course, and scored some notes from another course off a friend; so as far as my yearly goal to ‘keep learning’ went, I did a cracking job too.

In return for his beta-ing Nothing Charming, I gave feedback on a member of my writers group’s novel. It’s interesting to see how my feedback has improved over the years, some of the things I used to miss are easier for me to spot now, and I think I’m getting better at explaining some things. I only hope they enjoy reading my crits as much as I did giving them. I often worry when I do ‘big picture’ crits people will be mad at me ;p It sounds odd, but for example the feedback I got on the second part of Light In the Deep slowed my progress because I had to consider some deeper, overarching flaws. The solutions to some of those problems will probably unstitch some earlier events that I’d thought already edited – but that happens A LOT with really good feedback (not to mention, better to notice it now) but I know it’s frustrating to do these rewrites and I worry people I give that sort of feedback to won’t be as ‘ok, on with the work’ as me.

I also played some Ni No Kuni 2 this month, if you’re curious what I think of it so far you can check out my review. With all the transition memoirs I’ve been reading I also got distracted and went back to check out if an old webcomic I used to read back in the early 2000s was still around: Venus Envy. It was and there were a couple more years worth of strips for me to read. I *may* have re-read the whole thing ;p Like too many webcomics though, it has been dropped without being completed 🙁 I hope she’ll go back and finish it, but since it’s been abandoned a four full years I’m not very hopeful :'(

Books I read in March:

  • House of Many Ways: the final book in the Howl’s Moving Castle series and a great read
  • Valour and Vanity: another adventure-filled addition to this regency romance series (sounds a little oxymoronic I know) but extra points for the fact the storyline doesn’t revolve around actively seeking to tear apart the couple
  • Of Noble Birth: a brilliant conclusion to the series
  • Write Your Novel In A Month: a good ‘overall’ kind of writing book with a lot of productivity tips
  • The Story Equation: the new angles and heightened emotional focus made this a very useful book
  • Quests for Glory (School for Good and Evil 4): When middle grade is so good you don’t care telling people you’re reading it (despite being in your mid-thirities) for yourself not your kids ;p
  • Death By Cliche 2: Wrath of The Con: such pun, much rpg, very lol, wow.
  • Transition: The Story of How I Became A Man: Chaz Bono’s biography of his transition.
  • Being Jazz: another transition memoir, I’ll be reading a few of these over the next month or two, both to help me be a better friends to my growing number of trans friends and so I can write better trans characters
  • Obernewtyn: time to finally read the whole series!
  • The Far Seekers: finding all those layers you missed on previous read throughs
  • Ashling: still loving it
  • The Keeping Place: woohoo, the next one of the series I haven’t read before – excited!

Goals for April:

Number One, All-Encompassing-Focus is to complete the first draft of ‘Keys, Clocks, Quests’ (and maybe even find it a real title instead of my lame working one ;p ). That’s it. If by some miracle I finish that early, then I’ll work on the beta feedback for Lovely/Lonely and Nothing Charming.

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February was going so well, I had one massive week where I wrote 16,300 words one week, then the following week wrote four complete short stories (cumulative total 6,600 words), but then a gastro bug came along and decimated a bit over a week while I took care of sick family members, it even took me specifically out for five days.

This month was still quite productive though. I wrote a total of 25,700 new words and edited roughly 115 pages. I did a fair amount of work for my writers group too since we’re being forced to move online platforms due to the current one being too old and the files section regularly dropping out for the last couple of months.

Regarding mypre-set goals for February this is how I went:

  • Write for pieces of flash fiction – I wrote two actual flash length pieces(The Last Breath Before Foam and Delivery Man Wanted, both around 900 words), one still-fairly-short piece(Money for Meat at 1,800 words), and one not really short, but kinda short for me piece (The Taste Of Blood, 3,000 words). Thus I consider this goal successfully completed – if a little over length ;p
  • Revise and continue getting feedback for ‘Light In The Deep’ – revised the whole thing based on my writer’s group feedback on the first 5,000 words and have submitted the next 5,000. There are 2,500 words left for the next month unless further revisions blow it out or shrink it
  • Complete first draft of Nothing Charming, revise, and send to betas if time – I completed the first draft at 38,000 words, 18k of which I wrote in February. I started revision, but only a couple of pages, it’s still far from beta ready
  • Check places that pay for reprints re: my older sold short stories – I did not ;p oops

After doing a final pass (after my multiple passes last month) I’ve resubmitted Foxworth with the rewrite request, now to play the waiting game.

Books I read this month:

I gouged my foot open in the middle of the month too (running to get the recycling bin out on time ;p ) and couldn’t walk for several days. T-J put a TV in the bedroom so I wouldn’t be bored while I sat with my foot up, but it meant I played a lot of games (because pain put a buzz in my head that made anything but early morning words too horrendous to live). I replayed some of Atelier Rorona, it’s still one of my all-time favourites of the Atelier series. How can anyone decide between Sterk and Iksel? ;p I also have done a couple more dungeons in Persona 5. I was very naughty game-wise this month.

Quite an eventful month, hey? How was yours?

And now, without further ado, my goals for March:

  • Revise and find betas for Nothing Charming
  • Continue editing ‘Light In The Deep’ with group feedback and submit final portion for critique
  • Choose between ‘Keys, Clocks, Quests’ and Tucca of The Tides (both half completed NaNo novels) and prep outline so ready to go for finishing in April (Camp NaNo)
  • Revise ‘Look Skyward’

A lot of revision, I know, but April will be almost pure writing, so fair’s fair.

 

 

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good because you can use that time to write ;p

Oops, forgot to actually tell you what my month specific goals were ;p Oh well, here they are and how I fared with them:

  • Finish ‘Alone Time’ first draft: completed at 5,700 words, but its going to need a bunch of trimming
  • Send Lovely/Lonely to beta readers: successfully sent out
  • Start submitting Mermaid In A Jar: it’s out there ;p
  • Start submitting Not Human, Not Alien: also out there
  • Finalise the print copy of Darkest Depths anthology for Vision Writers: done and proof copy is on the way
  • Complete first draft of Nothing Charming: I’ve written 8,600 new words, but I’m sill around 10-15k from the end. I got stuck in a frustrating scene that bogged me down but once I escaped it I set a cracking pace
  • Complete rewrites on Foxworth per the rewrite request: I’ve done four passes so far focussing on deepening pov and inserting bad moods/days. the publisher reopens for submissions in February so I hope to do one final pass and fingers crossed they like the rewrite and ask to buy it.

I also started some revision on ‘Light In The Deep’ (my sequel to Hans Christian Andersons’ The Little Mermaid, following the story of one of her sisters in her greif over the little mermaid’s death) and submitted the first 5,000 words to my critique group for feedback.

January was a tumtltuous start to the year: a wedding, a funeral, school holidays, the Yahoo group boards collapsing on my writers group(and my trying to create work-arounds when the ‘help’ department turned out to be forums) – I’m surprised I got anything done ;p

Here on the website I put a few new things on the books pages, like badges for awards/ honourable mentions, shortlists ect. and plan to add some testimonials/review snippets next month. I also added three of the four missing anthologies to my sidebar(which involves making those 3d images myself, hence the delay ;p ). I also finally became an Amazon affiliate, so if you’d like to support me click this link and buy a million things on Amazon an I’ll get a little bump from them but your purchases don’t cost you anything extra(you don’t have to buy my book either, just don’t exit Amazon completely, simply jump into your wishlist or the search bar from the link).

Books I read in January:

  • The Devil’s Only Friend: the 4th John Cleaver book and one of the best examples of putting in enough info to cover the previous books but not so much as to bore or spoiler your reader I’ve seen.
  • Over Your Dead Body: the 5th John Cleaver book
  • Nothing Left To Lose: the 6th and final John Cleaver book – a satisfying conclusion
  • The Cruel Prince: my first five star of the year – and so early!
  • Romancing the Beat: a writing book focusing on beats in a romance novel/story/subplot
  • Unmagical Girl: (manga) I couldn’t resist, but the story I imagined was more interesting to me than what I actually got (not that it was bad, just I got soooo excited about the other concept, I’ll probably write it myself ;p )
  • The Barefoot Investor: this was given to me by a friend for Christmas. It might sound like a weird Christmas gift but when you know he used this book to buy a house on a disability pension it’s far less so.
  • The Fifth Season: a quite stunning fantasy I’m eager to read the rest of the series
  • The Reason I Jump: a book by a 13yo autistic boy in Japan. A very quick read, but insightful and inspiring
  • Turtles All The Way Down: a cool YA book about mental illness, the lines between rich and poor, and friendship and romance.

I am already well adapted to listening to my non-fiction podcasts in 1.5x speed and have listened to most of my fiction podcasts in the last three weeks at 1.5 speed. I even listened to several books at 1.5x. I think this was a lot easier to adjust to than I feared. Some narrators and hosts can’t be listened to at 1.5 though, they already speak fast enough ;p Also if I am using my bluetooth speaker and my husband comes in the room he always mocks the sound of it and me for wanting to pack more into my day. I recentl posted on this matter, you can check that post out here.

My goals for February are:

  • Write flash fiction – I’m going to call it flash fiction February ;p I’m pushing myself to write at least four new flash pieces, one each week
  • Revise and continue getting feedback for ‘Light In The Deep’
  • Complete first draft of Nothing Charming, revise, and send to betas if time
  • Check places that pay for reprints re:my older sold short stories

Stretch Goal:

  • Outline ‘The Handrell War’ and commence draft
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My first 5 star book of the year, and I read it at 1.5x speed

One of my more casual goals for this year was to increase my audiobook and podcast listening speeds. Audiobooks already save me time by allowing me to read while walking, exercising, cleaning, and doing housework, but I also listen to 9 podcasts about writing craft/book marketing and 8 fiction podcasts (I also want to grow that fiction set). I want to keep reading 50+ books a year as well as consuming these (mostly) weekly podcasts, but I also want more time to write and sure as heck aren’t cutting into my time with my family. Increasing reading speed gives me the opportunity to try and have it all.

I’d set the goal aiming that in around 6 months I’d be listening to all my non-fiction podcasts at 1.5x speed and I’d *maybe* try audiobooks around that speed too by the end of the year.

I’m already listening to all my podcasts at either 1.5x or 2x, and have listened to most of the audiobooks I’ve read in the later half of this month at either 1.5x or 2x. I’ve already adapted. Only every now and again do I come across a narrator (or host) who speaks a little too fast to handle at the higher speeds.

T-J laughs at me. He teases me all the time about the not-quite-chipmunk sound of the voices. But while listeneing to the audiobook of Barefoot Investor and reading along with the print version my fab friend Jake bought me, I discovered listening at 1.75x speed is very close to my normal reading speed when reading a paperback or ebook (my reading is a tiny bit faster). This is probably why I’ve adapted so easily to the faster listening speed because my brain is already capable of absorbing this sort of information at this speed already, only my mode of consumption has changed.

If you’re in any doubt as to the improvement of my reading speed, I have kept up-to-date will all my podcasts and read 8 books this month. Also note this is during summer school holidays too! And my enjoyment of books hasn’t lessened; I read my first two 5 star books of the year already, Holly Balck’s ‘The Cruel Prince‘ and Naoki Higashida’s ‘The Reason I Jump’.

Do you love audio for reading or listening to podcasts, or are you hesitant to try it?

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2017 has been a pretty good year to me (though health-wise it might have been a little kinder ;p ).

This is a long one, so the TL;DR highlights are here and my goals for 2018 are right down the bottom.

Apart from writing 78,400 new words and a whole bunch of self editing some of the highlights were, I had three short stories published: Hanabi to Kitsune, Mudgerwokee, and Glass Bones. I received two new honourable mentions in the Writers of the Future contest for Mermaid In A Jar and Foxworth.

There were a few exciting firsts for me such as receiving my first rewrite request(when you submit a piece instead of a rejection they say ‘hey if you fix up these couple of problems again you can send it back to us for reconsideration’, usually once rejected you can’t ever send that piece back to that place(it’s considered rude at the least and it’s against the submission rules at a lot of places)). It was also the first time an editor approached me to do a story for their anthology(instead of me submitting work to them).

I applied for a grant for the first time, and while I didn’t get it I got told I was close and got some lovely feedback on the sample I’d submitted.

The Troll’s Toll rolled along nicely, gathering up a decent number of very lovely reviews and only one of those reviews is by someone I know(and it’s only an acquaintance, not a friend who might feel they owe me a good review). All the rest are legit strangers who found my book and liked it. I do wonder about the couple of one star reviews on Goodreads, I don’t care so much about them being one star, it’s that they left no review beyond the star rating. I want to know what they didn’t like so I can gauge if there was something I should have done/done better or if they were someone who is outside my target market so I really truly don’t care at all ;p

In personal things my right arm had a run for it this year: oil burns down the inner arm (right where it brushes on laptop edges or desk edges when typing >.< ), a random weird swelling (assumed allergic reaction to a bug bite), and my Christmas present to myself, a bread knife slicing through my pointer finger right before Christmas. I’m certainly glad it was my right arm not my left since I’m a leftie, but typing does slow down dramatically when you’re down to one arm (cue bad internet jokes… we all know the ones I mean ;p )

This year also saw Xander starting to use some more words. He also verbalises more when signing and requesting now (even if the noise he’s making doesn’t really sound like the word he’s supposed to be saying). At school he’s also using some new PECS systems which seem to be working well and we’re hoping to get our hands on a PODD book for him this coming year so he can use one at home. It’s amazing to see how much he’s improved. He also got his first real haircut this year and both he and the barber survived ;p (we’ve been cutting his hair while he slept until now, which doesn’t result in too bad a look when you have wild curls like our little man)

Harley, on the other hand, has hit the ‘terrible twos’. Terrible is DEFINITELY the active word in that sentence. Time might have dimmed my memory, but I’m sure she’s worse than Xander was at that age. Partly because if she tantrums for something her sweet prince of an older brother gives it to her 99% of the time, reinforcing that tantrums get her results >.< We’re trying to teach him he can say no to her, and hoping that will help.

So, how’d I fair against my 2017 goals?

Goal #1: Publish at least three more of my Retailored Fairy Tales. I’d chosen this because I keep calling myself a hybrid author (which means I both traditionally publish and self publish), but 90% of my work was traditionally published. However, I recognised by my mid-year re-evaluation that I’d be rushing out poorer quality works if I followed this goal. There was no way I was going to let my self published stuff be of lower quality than my trad stuff, so I cut the actual publishing part out. Instead, I just worked on the production/revision/beta feedback/editing portion so I could have some polished work and revive this goal for 2018. I’m very on track to follow through on it in 2018 now.

Goal # 2: Finish first draft, complete edits, and get to beta readers ‘Skeleton Romance’ (also give it a real title ;p ). This went swimmingly. I finished it, did my self-edits, and gave it the title Lovely/Lonely (which I’m hoping my betas will let me know of the aptness). However when it came time to give it to betas, four other people in my beta-reading circle had asked for critiques on their novels just before Lovely/Lonely was ready and it was a safe bet everyone either wouldn’t have the time or would be all betaed out, and then it was December and Christmas, and as our friend Kimberly “Sweet Brown” Wilkins is wont to say ‘ain’t nobody got time for that’, so I decided to ask in mid-to-late January 2018 for betas instead.

Goal #3: Continue writing and traditionally publishing stories. This also went wonderfully. Not only did three stories get published, but I had my first case of an editor approaching me and asking me to do a story for them, but I also got my first rewrite request – and from an SFWA qualifying market too! I also got two more honourable mentions in the Writers of the Future Competition. I’m starting to rack up a lot of them ;p I also have one more short story under contract for next year, and several out there doing the rounds looking for homes. I also completed and wrote six new short stories and have the first half-two thirds of ‘Alone Time’.

Goal #4: Continue learning. Through the course of the year I’ve read 8 books on writing craft (and I’m part-way through a ninth), you can see which ones on Goodreads if you’re curious. This year I added some new podcasts on craft, marketing, and/or indie publishing to my existing feed including The Science Fiction and Fantasy Marketing Podcast, The Sell More Books Show, The Worried Writer, Write Now, and Jeff & Will’s Big Gay Fiction Podcast. I also added several fiction podcasts to my feed as well including Apex, Clarkesworld, Lightspeed, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and Podcastle(all markets I’d love to sell my fiction to too, so I can call that market research while listening to great stories ;p ). I also went back and listened to five years of back episodes of the Writing Excuses podcast (which I already listened to since season 9, so I’ve only got three more years of back episodes to listen to ;p ).

I also signed up for the 5 Years to Become a Bestseller course (back when it first launched and it was only $25, it’s gone up since then ;p ) and have completed the first six months of work (it’s a five year course of course ;p ).

I also attended a short seminar by Joanna Penn (if you’re an indie author you know who I’m talking about!), as well as a couple of courses from the QWC, and attended the Brisbane Writers Group Convention (which is becoming much more about the craft and selling/marketing than finding a writers group).

Goal #5: Continue being an awesome president of Vision Writers Group. Well if being voted in again is any sign I must be doing well. This may be the last year I do this because I think there are some people waiting in the wings who would like to try their hand, I’m doing this for love and fun, but I think they have goals this role could help them toward, but let’s see how this year rolls.

Goal #6: Write at least three more Retailored Fairy Tales. I completed Charming Rivals, and have done the first third of Nothing Charming. I got the completed Glass Slippers off to betas but haven’t quite done the revisions yet. I partially completed this one but fell just short.

Goal #7: Complete a novel (as in to the point I can resume submitting to agents). I chose this because I have several half complete drafts and a couple of completed drafts in need of editing and revision. I chose Written By The Stars since it’s one of the oldest completed and is a standalone with a teensy bit of series potential. However it took me months to get through just the first third of the book (where as the first draft of Lovely/Lonely‘s edits took about a week, and they are similar length) and I realised it’s a lot bigger job than it appeared. I’m putting a full rewrite in my goals for 2018.

So that’s four goals brilliantly done, two partly done and being revived for 2018, and one being rolled into another 2018 goal with some other things. Not a bad result

And now, without further ado, my new goals for 2018:

  • Publish the Charming Series. This includes getting the first 3 out (Charming, Charming Rivals and Nothing Charming) and writing/revising/(hopefully)publishing The Handrell War, which will be the first novel length Charming for Hire story.
  • Get beta feedback on Lovely/Lonely, revise it with the feedback and start submitting to agents/publishers/competitions.
  • Continue writing and publishing short fiction in traditional publishing markets. This has never seemed to be hard for me ;p I already have several lovely stories I completed at the end of ’17, and several planned to do this year.
  • Take my back catalogue of short stories that are out of their exclusivity periods and self-publish them.
  • Start working towards creating a monthly fiction podcast. Uncertain yet whether I will be serialising a single story or just doing some short stories. I blame this goal on listening to and enjoying so many other fiction podcasts ;p
  • Continue being a good president to Vision Writers Group. We’ve recently had a turn over of sorts, several of our old regulars have gotten busy or successful and moved on and we’ve had a massive influx of talented newbies and I want to foster their growth and encourage them. I also hope to do more with the website, including (as I’ve recently started doing) making the images more ‘pinnable’.
  • Complete one of the unfinished novels (‘Keys’ or ‘Tucca’) and have it at least beta ready by years end if not betaed, revised, and out there doing the rounds.
  • Continue learning. Listening to podcasts, reading craft books, reading books in my genre, researching markets I want to sell to, researching successful self publishing, researching book marketing. All things I already do, all things I plan to continue doing. I’m also enrolled in the 5 Years to Become a Bestseller course, and have been following it pretty closely thus far and intend to continue on with that.
  • Rewrite Written by the Stars. I think she might just need a complete rewrite, but that *seemed* like too big a job – such a waste to cut all those words – but the recent slog through editing it makes me think it might be the easier way actually. This is my stretch goal for the year. The stretch on my stretch goal is having it betaed and revised with that feedback and out doing the rounds (a girl can dream, can’t she?)

 

The following are not so much goals as things I’ll be doing:

  • Another website overhaul. I also want to make some lovely landing pages just for my books/book series.
  • I’m going to add to the end of my round-up posts links to my Goodreads reviews of any books I read that month too, both fiction and non-fiction, and depending on my enthusiasm for that book, maybe a short snippet of a review.
  • Up my listening speeds. I’ll start with podcasts then add audiobooks. I want to be listening to podcasts(and comfortably absorbing all information in them) at 2x speed by the end of the year and audiobooks at 1.5x (If I can get to 2x that would be nice but I do partly feel fiction is a little nicer to dwell in). The reason behind this is I want to consume more, and the less time I’m listening to podcasts the more I am to books and I’d love to be polishing off more books every year.

Here’s hoping 2018 will be a healthier, less tantrum-filled year ;p Have you got any big goals for this year? If you’re thinking of making some goals but haven’t quite gotten around to planning them out yet I suggest you check out this blog post by the madly organised Talitha Kalago (author of Half A Million Words In Nine Months).

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Much healthier this month (though a round of tummy bugs hit the kids and I have a little cold, it’s ultimately not anywhere near as bad as much of the rest of the year ;p )

I finished the beta feedback both on the near future sci-fi/dystopia novel and for the choose-your-own-adventure fairy tale novel. They took up the lion’s share of my month though.

I also entered Hanabi to Kitsune and Glass Bones in the Aurealis Awards, which requires ecopies, so I decided rather than badgering the publishers for ecopies I’d just makes one of my own stories myself and practice my ebook formatting skills. I’ve recently bought and almost finished reading The Zen of Ebook Formatting by Guido Henkel so they should be pretty schmick ;p

On the very last day of the month, the Pacific Monsters anthology from Fox Spirit Books launched, containing my horror story Mudgerwokee. A promotional blog post is already up on the publisher’s website by me, and I’ll do one here soon too.

All last months goals and my progress:

  • Finish Nothing Charming first draft – I wrote a new 1,000 words, but that was all I could scrape in before the month ended
  • Complete beta reading the near future sci-fi novel I’ve been given – done!
  • Beta read choose your own adventure fairy tale novel – done!
  • Work on those re-submission rewrites I was given for Foxworth – been mulling them over mentally, but not red pen to paper editing has yet started
  • Use feedback on Not Human, Not Alien to polish the story – feedback read, should be easy to implement, but didn’t get the time. Need to write a suitable thank you letter too (even if I paid for it technically by backing a Kickstarter project ;p )
  • Write ‘Alone Time’ first draft – I have rough sketched the complete plot now, so ready to write. Expecting this to come in around 3,000 words as long as I don’t chase any rabbits ;p

Also, the results came in from the latest quarter of the Writers of the Future contest. I’d entered Mermaid In A Jar in it and received another honourable mention. Very happy to get another certificate, but really wanting to actually win for once (always an honourable mention never a prize ;p ).

Since this is the home stretch of the year, my goals are largely about trying to wrap things up, ticking off the last boxes. Because two-thirds of the month are school holidays (meaning both kids at home with me), and my other job is working in a video games store… at Christmas, you can see how I might not get as much done as I hope, but I really want to close out the year well.

  • Complete Nothing Charming draft (no, really this time ;p )
  • Resubmission rewrites for Foxworth
  • Complete revision of Not Human, Not Alien, if satisfied start submitting it
  • Write ‘Alone Time’
  • Read the three craft books at the top of my TBR pile
  • Start submitting Mermaid In A Jar

Stretch Goals:

  • Begin Revision of ‘Look Skyward’ (and give it a real name)
  • Work on beta reader feedback for Glass Slippers
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October was rather a write off unfortunately. Health of myself and my family, and a spat of nasty migraines meant there were multiple days at a time where I couldn’t even look at a screen. That’s the reason why this post is so late too. The only one of my goals I made any real progress on for the month was my beta feedback, but I’ve not quite completed even that yet.

For November I’m just rolling forward last month’s goals and adding giving beta feedback to another book as well. And hoping against hope I can finally have a month where I don’t have health problems ;p