Short Term Writing Goals

Writing goals. I need ’em. Without them I write but not in any sort of organized or consistent way.

In April I am doing the poem-a-day challenge from Poetic Asides. I don’t think I’ll be entering the contest, but I will be using the poetry prompts in order to write some more zombie poems. Ideally I would love to end up with enough poems to create a chapbook (with April’s poems combined with the ones I wrote in November).

It is in May, however, that I have a slightly less orthadox writing goal. Each year in May my writing group, NaNoLJers has a writing challenge we call Writo de Mayo. For Writo de Mayo each person is encouraged to set an individual writing goal and report their progress throughout the month. Most people choose a word count or a revision goal, I am not. My goal for May is to get healthier.

My plan is to do the 30 Day Shred each weekday. I’ve started doing The Shred before but fell out of the habit. I know from that expirience that the first few days are going to be pretty hellish and I will NEED weekends to recover. I’m hoping that toward the middle of the month I’ll be able to do it in addition to my regular work out on the exercise bike. I’ve also started counting calories again effective today.

How is this a writing goal? Well, the way I figure it I have a lot of stories I want to tell, and I’m going to need a lot of time to do it. With my health and weight as it currently is, I am decreasing my life expectancy and thus how much I can write. So from now through April I will be building up slowly to May when my #1 priority (other than my family and friends) will be working out. Developing some good habits and a routine that I will be able to stick with afterward. Before I buggered up my ankle backpacking I had a routine I loved and actually became addicted to. I was losing weight and inches and feeling good with loads of energy. I want that again.

Writing goals. They come in all shapes and sizes, eh?

Coffee Time Romance Review

The lovely Lototy from Coffee Time Romance reviewed Shades of Green today. She gave it 3 coffee cups out of five. She articulates the issues she has with the story, the ending especially I think, but also has some nice things to say like:

The visuals in this story are most amazing, and keep you intrigued with the characters as well as their environment.

You can read her complete review by clicking on the picture above, or by clicking here 🙂

In other news, my friend Scott’s book BREATHERS is on the ballot for a Stoker award this year, and the award ceremony is this weekend. Good luck Scott (it’s not bad luck to say that, I hope). I’ll be thinking of you 🙂

Bad Rhonda

This is Absinthe. I’m currently sitting on the sofa while I work and she is pressed up against my side being an adorable little purr-ball.

Shortly after I made my blog post yesterday Kari Wolfe from Imperfect Clarity posted an interview she’d done of me a while back. It might be interesting to you. You can see it here.

Also? I’m bad. I totally forgot to mention that I am giving away three copies of Shades of Green on Goodreads. You can enter to win by clicking here. Also, while you’re there why not friend me? My profile is here and I’d love to have some more friends over there. I really enjoy seeing what people are reading and quite often pick up books based on recomendations from my friends.

Tidbits

For people who are subscribed to my newsletter this update post will have some news that you’ve read already. Bare with me (or is it bear with me?) though, there will be some stuff you’ve not read before too 🙂

First of all, Clarion West sent me their spiffy form rejection letter last week. I was disappointed, of course, but far less than I would have guessed. Truthfully, as much as I wanted to go to Clarion West (or Clarion), the idea of being away from my life and family for six weeks was a difficult one. It would have been tough on them, Danica especially, and I wasn’t sure I was actually willing to be that selfish, or what the cost for the people I love would be. Still, yes, disappointed. Maybe next year — Dani will be more independant then. We’ll see. We’ll see.

In the meantime, I keep writing. I entered the Whittaker Prize this year in an effort to give myself deadlines and also receive completely unbiased feedback on my work (since judging is anonymous and I don’t know the judges so they can’t recognise my style). I shared the story and poem I was submitting for the first round in my newsletter. The scores are in and I did better than I expected (74/100 on the poem and 85/100 on the story — surprising, I would have never guessed I’d score higher on the story than the poem.), now I’m looking forward to receiving my written feedback. I’m also working on my submissions for round two.

One of the prompts reminded me of a story I’d long wanted to write about Michael and Margaret. It’s set a long time before Sister Margaret but when it’s done I hope that you’ll be able to see the seeds of their future in its pages. It’s also meant to stand alone. Progress is going well on it, and it will make me happy to be able to submit an Aphanasian story for unbiased scoring and feedback. As for the poem…I’ve only a vague idea. We’ll see what comes of it. It is, of course, zombie related 🙂

Speaking of zombies, I will be doing the poem-a-day challenge in April. Sorta. My plan is to follow his prompts and write a poem a day, then after revision combine those poems (all zombie, of course) with the zombie poems I wrote based on Robert Brewer’s prompts in November and see if I can’t come up with a chapbook. I don’t know that I’ll do the ‘enter-the-contest’ part though. I doubt it.

Let me leave you with a short story about the kind of book I want to write. I was talking with my daughter about a book* she was reading and loving. We were discussing the storyline and one of the mysteries within. Danica said, “Well, that’s possible, but we think *insert spoilerific theory here*”. I said, “Oh, are some of your friends reading this series too?” she said no and asked why I’d think that. I said “Well, you said we think. That implies that you’ve been discussing this with other people.” Danica laughed and explained that no, when she said ‘we’ she meant she and the other characters in the book.

Think about that for a moment.

Those are the kinds of characters I want to write, the sorts of connections I want to make with my readers. Bravo Kelley.

*The Awakening by Kelley Armstrong. Danica loves what she’s read of the series so far. I, personally, enjoyed the first book in the series, The Summoning, until I realised there wasn’t going to be any resolution at all. I don’t like book series in which none of the books can stand alone.

Lastly, that picture? I just love it, and with the snow that has decided to return and cover my world with its beautiful but decidedly cold goodness I am truly longing for warmer weather and flowers.

Reviews and Ramblings

March is a crazy month around here. It really is and it always has been. My birthday and two of my siblings birthdays are all in March. Now that I’m a grown up (in theory anyway) it’s still frenetic. Jo’s birthday is in March, as are several members of our extended family. It’s also exam time at the university which means Jo is really, really busy at work. Between setting the exams, help sessions, supervising exams, marking them and answering loads and loads of student’s emails there’s not a whole lot of ‘down’ time. As if that weren’t enough, schools always seem to plan things for March; meetings, info sessions, student performances…

It’s crazy!

We’re halfway through though, which is yay!

I heard back from Clarion, they said thanks but no thanks. I also applied to Clarion West and am waiting to hear back from them with my fingers crossed. I’d prefer CW over Clarion, actually, so I’m not overly disappointed about Clarion. Besides, did you see who’s teaching there this year? I bet the competition was pretty crazy. Which is not to imply it isn’t for CW as well.

I will be disappointed if I don’t get into Clarion West, but not destroyed. This is a good thing. A very good thing. I want to go, but I don’t -need- to go. We’ll see what happens 🙂

While I wait I’m writing a lot. I’m doing a pretty good job of sticking with my plan to write each morning when I have my coffee. So far as a result I’ve got one poem, a pretty darn good short story and have almost finished another short. They are all first drafts, but since I find revising easier than getting the first draft done, that’s a pretty big hurdle. I’ll be sharing the second short story (in all it’s first draft glory, I’m afraid) with my newsletter readers…tomorrow. I won’t have time to finish it today.

The last (but, as they say, not least) thing I wanted to share today was this. It’s a review of Shades of Green, this time by an unbiased reviewer. Zeek from The Way I See It reviewed Shades of Green and, for the most part, he liked it. He said some nice things about the story, including that he enjoyed the world and could see how it would be the springboard for more stories, and also made me smile with this.

…there is much potential and its obvious the author has her craft honed already, so in the end this story gets a 3.9 out of 5 from me.

I like it when people think I have honed my craft. I know I have so much more to learn, but it’s wonderful to feel as though I’m progressing steadily.

Oh, and what’s with the picture of the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco? Nothing. I took it last summer when we were on vacation and I like it. That’s all.

Paralyzed

I’m feeling intimidated by the novel I’m working on. It’s sad but true. The novel in question is currently titled ‘See The Sky Again’ and so far its got an interesting ‘life story’. I started writing it as a NaNo novel a couple years ago and then stopped because I realised it could be a really good novel if I gave it some more time to develop in my brain before writing it. So I stopped working on it, but not thinking about it. My subconcious has been chewing away on it ever since.

A few months ago I started working on it again, then I enrolled in a novel-writing class with Candas Jane Dorsey. The class, it turned out, include a lot of critiquing (both giving and recieving). I don’t usually show my work before I’ve got the entire first draft done. History has taught me that this is for the best, however, I mean, this was Candas Jane Dorsey. If I was going to get a critique from her on my work I was going to get it on the project I cared the most about. That was StSA.

I got fantastic feedback on the first two chapters which I then revised the crap out of, turned into one chapter and submitted for new feedback. The second round of feedback was even better than the first, so another revision ensued. Then another after I sent the first chapter to my regular critique group to make sure some parts I wasn’t sure about worked.

Here’s the problem. Chapter one of StSA is the best piece of fiction I’ve ever written. Ever. And now I’m intimidated by it. It feels like a betrayal almost to add on to it with a crappy first draft. I know I have to. I know that the first chapter is like version four and that the stuff I’m writing subsequent to it will eventually be polished and revised to be good. I know that the first draft of anything is shit and that I have to let it be so and just get it out. I know all these things, but I’m still paralyzed. Knowing things and knowing things are entirely different.

I’ve decided that enough is enough. I can’t be held hostage by this block anymore and I’m going to write. 1,000 words a day. The plan is threefold. First, I’ll use willpower. I know I have it, I just need to channel it into this and really stick to it. Secondly, Jo is making me a spiffy word count program with pretty graphs and stuff, that will help keep me motivated on the especially hard days. Thirdly I’ve discovered that I write better outside the house. Now that it’s warming up around here I’m going to be going to coffee every morning, taking a notebook and writing long hand while I’m there. The link between coffee and writing will be a good one, as will setting up a routine and getting out of the house.

Wish me luck. I may need it.