Entries in goals (9)

Saturday
Dec292018

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.

Writing
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.

Reading
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.

Family
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.

Health
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.

Travel
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

Writing
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

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

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

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

Travel
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.

Thursday
Dec202018

Depression, Life and Art

I have neglected this blog right along with almost everything else in my life for a couple of months now, in large part due to being utterly busy and also because of depression. I'm sure people who don't have to muddle through the dark cloud of depression would have been able to get through my days with more time for a blog (and a lot of other things). But this is my reality, and I have to cope with it in what ever way works.

I've learned over the years that when depression starts to weigh me down, I have to cut away obligations until I can get my head above the surface again. And this blog is definitely expendable.

It didn't help that I just didn't have anything to say. The books I've read the last little while have all been the children's books I read to my daughter, or an epic re-read of the Murderbot diaries, which helped me through last week's epic low point.

In the last two months, I've mostly just struggled to exist, to pass the time until the seasons warm up again and the days get longer and I know I'll feel better. I bought a SAD lamp, though so far it doesn't seem to be doing much. I'm going to therapy regularly. I'm trying to engage in only the things that bring me joy.

I did NaNoWriMo again, as an ML again, and it's one of the things that brings me joy, even if it was a little stressful this year trying to keep on top of all the events plus my writing when I was struggling through physical and mental illness. I had this low-grade but draining cold for most of a month. By the time I shook it, the SAD had settled in for the long haul.

It's still hard most days, even days like today where the sun is shining and it's a little warmer. I haven't done any writing since NaNoWriMo ended. I've been doing some research for my current project. I've done some revisions and sent more of my writing to publishers and agents. But no actual writing yet. I just don't have the spoons for it right now.

I've weathered this before. I just need to do my best to hibernate. To surround myself with the people and things that bring me joy and fulfillment. Sometimes that means writing difficult letters to politicians. Sometimes that means binge-reading my favourite series. Sometimes it means going back to bed.

I fight the good fight when I have the energy, and I do my best to recover when I don't. This is winter for me and I've learned to accept it.

One thing that absolutely does not bring me a single ounce of joy is my continued presence on Facebook. That website is evil. There is real and actual evidence to show the role it has played in the radicalization of good people and the degradation of democracy. I have never liked that website or how people tend to interact on it, and it's long past time for me to delete my account.

I have tried to curate a better experience on FB. I've blocked shitty people. I've used software extensions to block out shitty content. But none of it helps, and as the Cambridge Analytica investigation continues, it becomes clearer and clearer that I cannot, in good conscience, continue to use that site. So I'm working on an exit strategy.

Twitter is not much better, but I have at least been able to curate that experience more deeply. But as I (and many others) pull away from social media and the devastating effects it's had on society, I expect this blog to get more active again. I might even resurrect my newsletter.

So this blog will probably start seeing more activity again. It will also likely get more political. I got a lot of bad advice early in my writing/editing career that I should refrain from politics in regards to my business. But to be frank, I do not want to be associated with clients or bosses I find politically adverse. I'm not going to work for fascists. If you don't like my politics, I'm perfectly happy for you to take your business elsewhere.

Friday
Dec292017

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:

Writing
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.

Reading
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.

Health
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.

Finances
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.

Family
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

Writing
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
bonus:
Start writing shiny new idea
Look into writing novellas and check out the sort tor.com publishes

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

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

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

Travel
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!

Friday
Dec302016

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:

Writing
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!

Reading
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.

Finances
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.

Health
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.

Family
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

Writing
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
bonus:
Send Blueshift 1 to agents
Send Fireborn 2 to agents
Have short story booklets printed off to sell at cons

Reading
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

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

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

Family
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!

Thursday
Jan072016

Reading List 2016

Here's another attempt to get through a decent chunk of the books on my shelves. It's hard with so many good books coming out. I've stopped buying them, for the most part, making use of the public library instead. But it was fairly late in the year when I stopped buying and started borrowing. You can see how the list looked last year and compare it to this year. Embarrassingly, my list is only longer now, despite all I've read.

Part of the problem is that books are what people buy me as gifts. I also attend a lot of conferences full of writers, so I end up either trading books or getting a few for free. I would like, in the near future, to reverse the trend of acquiring more books than I can read in a year, either by acquiring less books, or reading more/faster.

You can check out my 2015 reading challenge on Goodreads that shows all the books I read. Well, it doesn't show ALL of them since I read dozens of books for work and as a beta reader for author friends. I wish I could count those on my list!

There are a few heavy series here that have been on my list a long time (Terry Goodkind and George RR Martin) and I doubt very much that I'll ever ready either of them. I'm considering giving the books away, especially Martin's as I'm really not interested in them anymore. I'll give Goodkind one more chance at some point.

I've also made the decision not to force myself to read books I don't enjoy. So I expect to do a lot more putting books down for good. Hopefully that will cut down my reading list a lot more.

Anyway, here it is, the books I'm going to try to tackle this year:

  1. Complete Poems 1913-1962 by e.e. cummings
  2. Wizard’s First Rule by Terry Goodkind
  3. Stone of Tears by Terry Goodkind
  4. Blood of the Fold by Terry Goodkind
  5. Temple of the Winds by Terry Goodkind
  6. Soul of Fire by Terry Goodkind
  7. Danse Macabre by Stephen King
  8. Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut
  9. Dracula by Bram Stoker
  10. Son of a Witch by Gregory Maguire
  11. Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norell by Susanna Clarke
  12. The Gospel According to Jesus Christ by Jose Saramago
  13. Running With Scissors by Augusten Burroughs
  14. The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman
  15. The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman
  16. The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman
  17. Bad Dogs Have More Fun by John Grogan
  18. Plato and a Platypus Walk Into a Bar by Cathcart and Klein
  19. Heidegger and a Hippo Walk Through Those Pearly Gates by Cathcart and Klein
  20. Once Upon a Sandbox by Carolyn Wilker
  21. Blindness by Jose Saramago
  22. Cool Gardens by Serj Tankian
  23. Dry by Augusten Burroughs
  24. Odd Apocalypse by Dean Koontz
  25. Codex Alera 1 by Jim Butcher
  26. The Faith of a Writer by Joyce Carol Oates
  27. The Gift by Lewis Hide
  28. Imagine by Jonah Lehrer
  29. The Submissive Copy Editor by Carol Fisher Saller
  30. Dune by Frank Herbert
  31. Odd Interlude by Dean Koontz
  32. Deeply Odd by Dean Koontz
  33. The Hunt of the Unicorn by C.C. Humphreys
  34. A Clash of Kings by GRRM
  35. A Storm of Swords by GRRM
  36. A Feast for Crows by GRRM
  37. A Dance with Dragons by GRRM
  38. Temeraire by Naomi Novak (3 book volume)
  39. Empire of Ivory by Naomi Novak
  40. Victory of Eagles by Naomi Novak
  41. Stardust by Neil Gaiman
  42. Five Little Bitches by Teresa McWhirter
  43. Wastelands by John Joseph Adams
  44. Stuck by Stacey D Atkinson
  45. Rogues by GRRM
  46. Dangerous Women by GRRM
  47. Detective Docherty and the Demons Tears by Sarah WaterRaven
  48. The Elegant Universe
  49. An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth by Chris Hadfield
  50. The Troop by Nick Cutter
  51. Under the Dome by Stephen King
  52. Redefining Girly
  53. Trigger Warning by Neil Gaiman
  54. The High Road by Terry Fallis
  55. War Cry by Jim Butcher
  56. Pain Machine by Marcy Italiano
  57. Turning Night by Nico Murray
  58. Distant Early Warning by Elizabeth Hirst
  59. Flashpoint by Robert J Sawyer
  60. Saint Odd by Dean Koontz
  61. Uprooted by Naomi Novik
  62. Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel
  63. Virginia’s Ghost by Caroline Kaiser
  64. Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
  65. The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer
  66. Soul Music by Terry Pratchett
  67. The 5th Season by N.K. Jemisin
  68. The Emotion Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman