Entries in Fireborn series (13)


Hope at the End of the Longest Year

Like in 2017, this year was hard fought and draining. Trying to get things done amidst creeping fascism has been incredibly hard. And because having fascists loose everywhere else in the world wasn't bad enough, the greedy idiots here in Ontario had to go and elect Thug Fraud to premier. I truly, deeply hope that horrible man goes the way of his equally horrible brother VERY soon.

Anyway, when I'm not wishing death on The Worst people in power, I'm probably reading a book. Maybe writing one. I still hit a lot of my writing goals, though I've been lagging behind all of December because of severe depression.

Heh, you want your favourite creators to keep creating? STOP ELECTING FASCISTS

Anyway, here's the breakdown of how I did this year, despite all the bullshit.

I hit most of my writing goals this year, and the ones I didn't hit were because I swapped them for something else. I've done a lot of work on Blueshift 1, revised book 2 and rewrote book 3 for NaNoWriMo. Books 2 and 3 still need work, but I'll get to them later. I'm happy with the trilogy as it is right now and look forward to polishing the rest. I've been querying book 1 and getting some good feedback from agents, though no contracts yet.

I got Fireborn polished and out into the world and it's also had some positive feedback from agents. I will continue to query both books in the new year.

I wrote and submitted three short stories but, while one of my stories got shortlisted for an anthology, ultimately nothing has gone into print this year. It's a tough industry, but I'll keep working to improve my craft until I can wriggle my way in.

I've looked into novellas and have read plenty of what Tor puts out. I haven't attempted to write a novella yet, but I've started to outline one.

I didn't end up outlining the next two books in the Fireborn series for a few reasons. One is that I'm just not as interested in the series as I was, though I'm sure that will change once I deal with the fact that I'm not entirely sure where I want the next two books to go. And finally, there are a lot of compelling reasons not to work on the rest of a series until the first book is published. So instead of working on books I can't sell/publish right now, I plotted and started writing something different: The Spider's Eye, a stand-alone epic fantasy.

I'd wanted to get a good portion of Spider's Eye written by now, but I was sick for most of November so my NaNo goals fell short, and then I've been severely depressed all of December and didn't get anymore writing done. I've done some more research and some planning on Spider's Eye, but that's it.

And my shiny (not so new) idea is still percolating in the back of my mind. I'm still not entirely sure what I want to do with it, though I'm leaning toward the novella format. And then I've got to do an epic amount of research and... I just really hate research.

Anyway, I've learned now to keep my writing goals flexible because I'm inevitably going to be more interested in certain projects than I think I will be and less interested in others. And I've got enough ideas to work on that I don't have to force myself to finish one thing if I (temporarily) stop loving it. So I didn't necessarily hit the things on my list, but I still did about the same amount of work.

So I hit this one out of the park this year. I've read 66 books! If I finish the one I'm currently reading over the weekend, it'll be 67! About a third of that has been the children's books I've read to my daughter (chapter books only, not counting any picture books). I've read a lot of novellas this year too, including a double-read of the Murderbot diaries because I love them so much.

I've read loads of books from the library and the vast majority of the books I read this year were by white women. I'd like to keep reading more diversely and I'm still not reading as many books by people of colour as I could.

I've gotten really bad at family stuff, and a lot of it is the stress of the current political climate. I just don't have a lot of energy for things. What energy I do have goes more toward time for my daughter than to my spouse and the extended family. So we still did plenty of family activities, but my spouse and I have spent another year not having many date nights. We're both just so tired. Not sure what to do about it other than just keep trying.

Hey, this one was a smashing success! I did all the walking until the weather got cold. I did plenty of kickboxing. And I even lost weight! I lost and have kept off 10 lbs! Now that I've found something that works (I'm using the MyFitnessPal app), I'm hoping to keep up this trend until my knees stop hurting. We'll see how it goes.

So this year was all about the travelling. I suspect that travel is partially my midlife crisis? It's also my creeping-fascism coping mechanism. So I went to more than two new (to me) national parks in both Canada and the US, including Yoho NP in BC and Volcanoes NP in Hawaii. I went to a lot of new places this year, and it was magnificent. I went back to the national parks in Tobermory as well, and returned to Sequoia NP with my daughter for a week before we went to WorldCon76. I am now out of money, but it was well worth it!

2019 Goals

Submit 3 short stories
Write Blueshift short story "Making Waves"
Plot & write Mage War novella
Plot Mage War novel
Finish, revise, and polish Spider's Eye
Do NaNoWriMo
Look into writing a MG series
Keep querying Blueshift 1 and Fireborn
bonus/swap in:
Research and planning for shiny idea
Start writing shiny idea
Start querying Spider's Eye

Read 30 books
Read 15 books from my shelves
Read 15 books by POC

One family event per month
One date night per month
Continue after school activities

Regular kickboxing
Regular walks in warm months
Lose some weight (any amount will do)

One mother/daughter trip
One family vacation
Anniversary vacation

Anyway, 2018 has been the longest decade of my life. Congrats for surviving! We all deserve cookies just for that alone. If you managed to actually accomplish anything this hellscape of a year, bonus! Here's hoping we're all still here and kicking ass at the end of 2019.


Surviving and Thriving in 2018

So 2017, like 2016, was a year that was great for me personally and a fucking nightmare in general. I've stopped reading the news and muted everything that has anything to do with American politics. I still see my American friends losing their shit on a daily basis, which is hard, so my mental health has continued to suffer this year (which is basically par for the course for anyone who isn't a garbage person). But I did better than I expected, mostly due to ramping up the self-care. I also got WAY more politically active than I've ever been and donated way more money than I should have to causes fighting the nightmare.

Anyway, here's the recap of how I did hitting my goals this year:

Okay, so I smashed my writing goals. The only ones I didn't hit were outlines for Fireborn 3 & 4 and writing 6 new short stories to self-publish. I stuck with publishing a short story a month like I wanted, but that venture hasn't shown the ROI I was hoping for, so I'm setting it aside for now and concentrating on my novels again. Which I did awesome with.

Both Fireborn 1 & 2 have been revised/rewritten and sent to betas. FB 1 is getting trunked. I like it, but it's more a bridge for me between Dragon Whisperer and the Fireborn YA series that kicks off with FB 2. I've revised and polished and queried Blueshift 1 (which has led to more revisions that are almost complete so I can submit it to Angry Robot's open call this weekend). I restructured, re-outlined and rewrote Blueshift 2 for NaNoWriMo and I've started the outline for Blueshift 3. I'm really happy with how it's turning out and the first book has had decent reception from agents. Now it's just a matter of finding the right one.

And I even took a writing course! I managed to get into the course Kelley Armstrong teaches every summer at U of T. It was excellent.

So this year has been one requiring intense escapism. And in an attempt to cultivate better sleep hygiene, I also started reading at least 30 minutes before going to bed. This resulted in me exceeding my goal by 50%. Yes, I read 45 books this year! I don't think I read quite as many books from my shelves as I'd like, but roughly half the books I read were by women or POC. I expect to continue this trend indefinitely, because frankly it makes for better reading.

I feel like things on the health front were an utter failure because I GAINED 15 lbs as opposed to losing anything at all. But I did keep up walks and kickboxing until November when a combination of illness and ill-timed meetings meant I haven't gotten any exercise in a couple of months. And I feel like garbage and can't wait for kickboxing classes to reopen next week! But overall my health wasn't terrible. I had a lot of stamina until recently and I plan on getting it back.

I could have done a little better with this. But I kept going only to the cons that were free to attend or I had a vendor's table/spot on panels. Most of what I bought for clothing was necessary stuff, though I did have two really awesome dresses custom made (with pockets!) One is a Nightmare Before Christmas design and the other is Star Wars. I spoiled my kid way less than normal. At any rate, I'm doing fine financially and finding it easier and easier to cut back on expenses when and if I need to.

So we did more family activities this year than last year, but that somehow resulted in me and my husband going on less date nights. I still need to be more consistent with after school activities for my kiddo, but she and I have done a lot of trips together which has been really cool.

2018 Goals

Outline Fireborn 3 & 4
3 short stories (write and query)
Start preliminary research and planning for shiny new idea
Revise Blueshift 2
Finish detailed outline of Blueshift 3
Do NaNoWriMo
Write Fireborn 3
Rewrite Blueshift 3
Query Fireborn 2
Start writing shiny new idea
Look into writing novellas and check out the sort tor.com publishes

Read at least 30 books
Read 15 books from my shelves
Read 15 books by women or POC
Read 3 books from library

One family event per month
One date night per month
Resurrect after school activities w/kiddo
At least 4 mother-daughter trips

Continue kickboxing 3 times a week
Walk at least 2 times a week in warm months
Lose weight, any at all

Visit 2 new (to me) national parks
Revisit 2 national parks
Attend WorldCon76

If you're reading this, congrats you survived 2017! Here's hoping we all make it through 2018. What are your goals? Find me on Twitter or Facebook and let me know!


Owning it in 2017

So, about halfway through 2016, I basically threw all my writing goals out the window and started again. It's been a pretty good year on a personal level, but all the global turmoil (hello Brexit, Syrian massacre, global warming and incoming "President" Dump) took a significant toll on my mental and emotional well-being, depriving me of a lot of spoons. So I hit a lot of goals and fell way short of others.

Here's the breakdown:

I got part way into 2016, realized that Blueshift still needed a metric fuckton of work and tossed out all my goals for it. Right now, I'm getting it ready for another evaluation with a pro editor after doing some major revision and rewrites. I expect it will need more revision and rewrites in the coming year. I will be surprised if I'm querying it before 2018. And I didn't do any work on books 2 or 3 because I don't see the point until book 1 is done properly. *insert grumpy face*

I didn't end up finishing Fireborn 2 until last week and it's still in rough draft stage, so obviously that one isn't getting queried either. I have not done any work on Fireborn 3 or 4 (since I needed 2 finished first).

So I basically didn't do anything on my writing goals list, but I don't feel bad about it at all because the amount of writing I actually got finished is still staggering. I rewrote the shit out of Blueshift 1 and it was around 160,000 words long at one point. I've since cut it down to 144,000 through several rounds of revision. It has more revision going on and in its future, but it's finally looking like something I can be proud of.

I restructured Fireborn 1 and 2 and then rewrote Fireborn 2 from scratch for NaNoWriMo.

And I wrote 16 short stories this year, one of which will be released on Sunday. That's right, I shifted my focus to putting out some short stories, self-publishing in erotic romance. The first story is called Dying for Midnight and it's available on Amazon, Kobo, Nook and iBooks under the pseudo-pseudonym VR Thode. I'll be releasing a short story every month in 2017. So, yeah, not feeling too bad about not meeting other writing goals, all things considered.

I took a short story intensive workshop with Mary Robinette Kowal and it was fantastic. I've learned SO MUCH about the craft of writing this year and my work is so much better for it. I've made some more friends in the writing community. I attended a series of lectures by Kelley Armstrong hosted by the local library and I FINALLY signed up for her week-long writing course in Toronto. So there's a goal I did manage to hit.

I also participated in NaNoWriMo (and Camp NaNo) and applied for arts funding. NaNo was a smashing success. Arts funding was an interesting experience, but ultimately a waste of time. Authors don't really seem to count as artists and the competition is so fierce that I've decided my time is best spent elsewhere.

While I've let my Editors Canada membership lapse, I am still doing a lot of editing for clients on top of all my writing. It's been hectic!

Well, at least I can always feel good about my reading goals. Nailed this one again, and managed to read 35 books this year (not including things I've edited). I read more diversely and discovered some new authors who I really love. Most notably, Daniel Jose Older and NK Jemisin. I highly recommend going out and finding their books. Do it.

With the exception of taking my daughter to FanExpo for fun, I only went to cons I was selling books at and/or was on panels. And while I ended up buying more books than I planned on, that was because people gave me a lot of gift cards this year. So it didn't end up hurting my finances. Win!

In terms of clothing, I spent a lot less, but still bought a lot of things I didn't really need. I do not regret it at all. Everything I bought were super geeky things (like my superhero skirts and my TARDIS dress) that I love SO MUCH! Spending was down, at least, so that's good.

Hit and miss again with this one. The state of my knees has deteriorated to the point that I can't run. So I started going on long walks at least three times a week instead (until winter started, anyway). I still kickbox three times a week. I still try my best to eat better, though I haven't had the spoons to count calories consistently. I lost 5lbs this year without really trying, so that's a good start.

I feel awesome, at least, so that's good. I'm in less pain than I've been in in a long time and I just feel overall stronger and more powerful. I've also turned self-care and guarding my mental health into a regular habit, which is a definite win. Aside from an understandable descent into despair after the US election, I have not had issues with depression this year. So I failed at some things, but overall I'm still doing well.

This one was almost a complete failure. Managed a date night a month but only five family activities over the year. I did a lot of stuff just me and my daughter (including 2 vacations), but not a whole lot as a family. I'm still having a hard time getting my kiddo to step away from the idiot box and do things. For the first half of 2016 we did a lot of after school stuff, but once she started school again in September, she just never wanted to do anything. Hopefully we can get on track in 2017.

2017 Goals

Take writing course(s)
Restructure & rewrite Fireborn 1
Revise/polish Fireborn 2
Craft detailed outlines for Fireborn 3 & 4
Revise/polish Blueshift 1
Start plans for Blueshift 2 & 3 rewrites
Finalize and publish 11 erotica short stories
Write at least 6 stories in the Door to Everywhen series
Do NaNoWriMo
Send Blueshift 1 to agents
Send Fireborn 2 to agents
Have short story booklets printed off to sell at cons

Read 30 books

That's the base goal, but of those 30 books, I'd like the breakdown to look something like this:

Read 20 books from my shelves
Read 15 books by POC/women
Read 5 library books

Lose 20lbs
Walk at least three times per week (warm months)
Keep up with kickboxing

Only buy necessary clothing
Only buy stuff for kiddo as proper gift or reward for something big

One date night a month
One family event a month
Resurrect doing after school activities
Go on at least 4 mother-daughter trips

Here's hoping we all survive 2017! What are your goals? Find me on Twitter or Facebook and let me know!


Levelling Up for 2016

My 2015 was only moderately successful in terms of reaching the goals I set out last year. I'll break down how I did by category and then offer up my 2016 goals, which I hope to have a better success rate with!

I'm not going to be too hard on myself for this one because I still did a lot of writing, even if I didn't meet certain goals. I decided that the first Fireborn book isn't ready for publication and might not ever be, but I'm okay with that. I wrote it mostly for myself to have an idea of how events got from Dragon Whisperer and Dionelle to where they are now with Fireborn and her granddaughter Spark. Unfortunately, I got distracted writing another book and didn't finish Fireborn 2 (the first book featuring Spark) like I wanted. It's fully plotted, as is the next book in the series (and holy cow am I excited to write them all!) but I ran out of year to get the writing done.

I think my main writing goal for 2016 needs to be focusing on the two books I want to pitch to agents: Blueshift 1 and Fireborn 2.

Agent response to Blueshift has been lukewarm so I restructured it and it is currently with beta readers. The plan is to resume querying it early in 2016. I have the query letter and a list of potential agents for Fireborn 2, now I just need to finish it. *sigh*

I didn't meet my goals for attending workshops or getting funding. I was woefully unprepared for the latter and missed the deadline on the former. It's been an interesting learning curve.

Nailed it! Well, I have a backlog of NatGeos to read, but I cancelled my subscription so they won't be piling up anymore. Otherwise I would have pushed myself through them. Now I'm going to savour them.

While in general I was better with money this year, it has absolutely nothing to do with the goals I set out for myself. This one was a total bust!

I started out doing really well with this, and then my hormones went completely sideways on me. I gained a lot of weight despite making all the right health choices. So I got cranky and gave up on the hard work. I am now on medication to stabilize everything and have begun to lose weight again, so come early January, I'll be picking it all up again.

I have not done as well with family time as I would have liked. While I continue to watch minimal TV, I have been unsuccessful in weaning my husband and daughter so we can do more together away from the idiot box. We have been doing some family TV time, most notably in bringing my daughter through the full gamut of Star Wars movies (which she loves!).

We went on a family vacation and have managed to do things together a little more regularly, but not as often as I'd like. We'll work on that a little more in 2016. My daughter started kindergarten, so that's shaken up our routines a little, but we're getting back into things now.

I also haven't decided if I will continue on as an editor. I have, sadly, had minimal editing work in 2015. I used the sudden copious amounts of free time to work more on writing. I think I'd like to keep doing it. My membership with Editors Canada expires in April, so I'll wait until then to decide for sure. Editing has, in the last month, picked up for me again, but it did this earlier this year too, so I'm not getting my hopes up.

2016 Goals

Finish first draft of Fireborn 2 (and send to beta readers)
Polish Fireborn 2 (including research)
Finish Blueshift 2 & 3 edits (including research)
Start first draft of Fireborn 3
Plot Fireborn 4
Resume pitching Blueshift 1
Begin pitching Fireborn 2
Sign up for Kelley Armstrong's Humber writing course (and actually remember before the deadline this time!)
Apply for arts funding
Participate in NaNoWriMo (this is basically a given at this point)
bonus: finish Assassin King rewrites

While this is a long list, some of these things are fairly easy and won't be too time-consuming. And participating in NaNoWriMo always helps me play catch up on anything I've fallen behind on.

30 books

That's basically it, but I hope to read more diversely and also to make better use of the library (which I started doing toward the end of this year). Of those 30 books, I want to read the following:

15 books already on my shelves
5 from the library
10 books by women or PoC

Only go to cons if I'm on panels or have a vendor table
No new clothes except to replace worn out items
Only buy books I love the most (get the rest from the library)

Start running (again)
Resume keeping a food journal and counting calories
Lose 20 lbs
Only eat homemade sugary snacks (no more cookies, cakes, etc from the store)

1 date night a month
1 family activity a month
Continue after-school quality time projects (for instance, I frequently involve my daughter in baking treats)


What are your goals for 2016? Find me on Twitter or Facebook and let me know!

Wishing you a peaceful and productive 2016!


NaNoWriMo Ate My Life

All right, NaNoWriMo is finally over and I couldn't be more relieved. This has been a month of UTTER HELL for me. I mostly met my three goals, so that was good. I wrote over 100k (102,170) and finished editing the first book of the Blueshift trilogy. It's off to beta readers.

I'm about halfway through the second Fireborn novel. If I had started it sooner like I wanted, I'd be done already. But there was a bit of research I needed to do and some plot points I needed to sort out. Now I'm aiming to have the first draft done by the end of January.

I was going to finish it this month, but I'm profoundly exhausted and plan to spend the month engaging in a lot of self-care. NaNo took so much out of me this year.

So why was this worse than last year, when I somehow churned out 150,000 words? Simple. I was flying solo as ML on this one. It was terrible. The other two MLs for the region bailed on me early in the month, leaving me to run 3 peoples' worth of events. That's on top of all the other volunteering and paid work I do. Not to mention the part where I'm a parent and spouse.

My entire family suffered this month, not just me, and that only makes it so much worse for me. The last week or so of NaNo, I could see the way my daughter's expression would fall every time I had to leave her and go to a writing event. She would say at least once a day that she missed me, that she was sad that she doesn't get to see me as much anymore. Do you have any idea how heartbreaking that is?

And then there's the more tangible cost. Because the bulk of the writing happened at cafes, I spent over $200 this month just at cafes and in parking. I haven't looked at how much I've spent on gas to drive all over the region.

I came very close to cancelling some writing events, just so I could have a much-needed break. But I signed up for the ML position and I felt obligated to see it through. There were a lot of writers relying on me to cheerlead and to prod them. And so many people met their writing goals because of the community I worked hard to help foster.

So I've learned some lessons for next year. I still plan to be an ML, but I will be more careful about what's planned, who is responsible for what, and that I don't stay quiet while other people walk all over me. And I guess that's what this post is about. I'm hurt and angry and needed an outlet. Thanks for listening.