Category Archives: Goals

Shadows Gets Shelved

Tombstone - Photograph by Rhonda ParrishOur vacation is over.

Well, actually, I’m “officially” back to work tomorrow, but because I expect to be completely swamped with Niteblade stuff and some pressing writing deadlines I have, so I’m blogging today.

One of my goals for this year was:

Figure out what to do with Shadows…and get to work on doing it. This can mean looking for an agent, a publisher or any number of other things. I can’t be specific until I’ve made a decision.

Well, the good news is, I’ve made a decision. It was very difficult because I’ve spent so much time working on it (years) that I’m really close to it, too close, to make a clear and rational decision. Unfortunately, most of my critique partners are also too close to it to give me unbiased advice. Happily, there are people who make a living out of giving clear, unbiased advice about these sorts of things LoL

I hired Kate and Taryn from Teen Eyes Editorial to take a look at the current version of Shadows and tell me what they thought. Their feedback was insightful, in-depth and incredibly helpful. It helped me see that it’s time to put Shadows on a shelf.

Their comments were very positive and encouraging overall but they definitely showed me that Shadows still needs a lot of work before it is ready to go out in the world. And the thing is, I’m kinda tired of it. Don’t get me wrong, I still love the story but I really need some time away from it.

Dudes, I’ve been working on this story off and on for several years. Honestly, I don’t even know what version this draft is. I have learned a ridiculous amount of things about character development, plotting, revision, pacing, dialog (and more!) while I’ve been working on Shadows, but it’s time to move on to something else.

I have a finite amount of time I can spend writing and several other projects demanding my attention. So, at this point I’m going to file Shadows under ‘Learning Experience’ and let it sit in my Dropbox gathering virtual dust. Someday a few years from now I might decide to come back to it, but I rather doubt it.

For now, I’m looking forward to seeing how awesome I can make Twixt and Hollow Children 🙂

 

T4T: Two Updates

Dear _______,

I’m writing you from camp where I’m very busy writing the first draft of a novel tentatively called Hollow Children, but I thought I’d steal a quick moment away from working on it to bring you a fast Two for Tuesday. This Tuesday I’m going to share two quick updates.

Update #1: Work on Hollow Children is going better than I’d feared *knock wood*. I’m about 6,700 words in and I haven’t started writing yet today. There have been a couple interesting surprises to date in this draft.  The sexual orientation of two characters changed and another character swapped genders. Whee! 🙂

Update #2: May is over and Writo De Mayo with it. I didn’t do very well on staying on track. According to my website my WdM goals were:
– Do the 200 Sit Ups Challenge (beginning on Week Two in Column Two) without straining or otherwise injuring my neck in the process (How’d it go? I kept forgetting. Honestly. I see you rolling your eyes, but I did. However, I was plenty active during May just in general, plus my daughter and I started the Couch to 5k running program, so I’m not going to hate on myself for missing this one)
– Stay on track for W1S1 (How’d it go? I was successful. I finished up a few poems and submitted a bunch of stuff.)
-Write the first draft of at least one new short story (not a poem)(How’d it go? It failed pretty miserably. I have a couple short story ideas I’m working on but nothing near to a completed draft)
-Write the first draft of a query letter for Shadows and get feedback on it(How’d it go? Well, I’m halfway done this one. I got the query letter written, but I haven’t asked for feedback yet)
Get back to the HTRYN course I’m using to revise Twixt (and that I’ve neglected all April)(How’d it go? Well, I did get back on it, which is good, but now it’s back to being neglected for June while I work on Camp NaNo and the Whittakers)
If I’m not successful in finishing up all the prompts for the April Poem-A-Day Challenge finish up any I missed. (How’d it go? Done and done :))

Sincerely,

Rhonda

 

 

Camp NaNoWriMo

I may be crazy. Ah hell, I might as well own it, right? I am crazy.

I just signed up for Camp NaNoWriMo for June. Camp NaNoWriMo is the same as regular NaNoWriMo but it takes place in June or August rather than November.

I signed up because I’ve really been struggling with writing new fiction this year. I’ve created several poems I’m really fond of, but when it comes to fiction I haven’t written anything new all year. I’ve re-written a few stories, and I’m up to my eyeballs with HTRYN revisions on Twixt, but brand new from nothing drafts? Nada. In five months. That’s unacceptable.

So, that’s where Camp NaNoWriMo comes in.

I have a story I’m meant to be working on with Danica. It’s called Hollow Children and the idea is that I’m going to write it and then she will illustrate it. I’ve decided to make it my Camp NaNo project. Perhaps the daily word counts, accountability and a NaNo-light atmosphere will help me get it done. It will then sit for a few months until I find time to revise it, but it will be written and maybe that will break through this wall in my brain that is keeping me from getting any new fiction written.

Or, maybe I’m just crazy.

Track and Field Day

Warning: This post doesn’t have anything at all to do with writing. I have Danica’s permission to share this story about her.

This is Danica. This isn’t the most flattering photograph I have of her, but she looks angry in it, and that makes it the most appropriate photograph for this post.

Thursday was Dani’s track and field day. This is ungood for a few reasons

– Like her mother, Danica isn’t much into sports. That includes track and field.
– Dani’s birthday is in October, which means she has to compete against kids a grade higher than her
– We, as a family, haven’t really had a very active lifestyle until recently which means we’re all somewhat out of shape.

So, Dani was not looking forward to track and field day, but, like a champ, she sucked it up and was going to make the best of it. Still, she did call me from the track and field day to complain about the weather, and then again in the afternoon to tell me that the event had been canceled on account of snow (gotta love springtime in Edmonton, right?) and would be continued on Friday.

Then she came home and wanted to talk to me. There were tears in her eyes.

She cried as she told me about how the people who were measuring and raking for the triple jump event had made fun of her performance.

*sigh*

I was furious. Mean people suck. And people being mean to my kid, well, they suck even more than most.***

One of the worst parts of the whole situation was that she would have to go back to school the next day (Friday) and compete in two more events.

Could I force her to do that? Turns out the answer is no.

I know we can’t shelter her from everything, but I asked myself, what would she learn from going to the track meet that would make it worth the anxiety she’d feel and the potential for having to deal with insensitive people. In the end I couldn’t see any valuable lesson to be learned other than ‘sometimes you have to do stuff that sucks’. I decided she’d done that when she’d participated in the track meet on Thursday, I couldn’t force her to go back on Friday.

Jo and I discussed it and we agreed. We decided that if Danica asked to stay home on Friday we’d let her. She did, and we did.

My point?

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”
~Plato

It’s something I sometimes struggle with** and maybe this was life’s way of reminding me, so I thought I might help spread the word, in case I’m not the only one who could use it.

~*~

On a sideways-related note*, Danica has decided to get into better shape and so she and I have commited to doing the Couch to 5k program starting today. Monday, Wednesday and Friday will be our running days. We know it’s really going to suck at the start, but we’re determined to stick to it.

That’s one reason why I’m making this blog post, actually. This is going to be hard. Super hard. I would have a difficult enough time keeping myself motivated to do this. Now, not only am I going to have to push myself to do this, I’m also going to have to push Danica.

Did I mention that it’s going to be tough?

Yeah. So I’m hoping by sharing this it will not only provide a little accountability, it will also give me a whole bunch of people who will be able to remind me that I’m doing the right thing. The right thing for myself and for my daughter.

Yeah. I’m definitely going to need that.

*The kids at the track meet were just the proverbial final straw, not the sole motivation for this. It had been a long time in the making.

**As evidenced, I suppose, by the fact that when I originally wrote this post I referred to the children who mocked Danica as jerks. Not very kind there, Rhonda, not very kind at all.

***It could be that those kids are actually good people who are usually very nice. It could be that they didn’t know she could hear them. But what they said was mean, and she could hear them so whether they know it or not, they really hurt her feelings. I grant you that there is a huge difference between intentional and unintentional meanness, but when I’m in ‘protective mother’ mode I don’t clearly see subtleties like that.

eXhausted

It’s snowing again today. Not nearly as much as in that picture I took a couple weeks ago, but enough that it’s staying on the ground and ruining my weekend yardwork plans. The weather *sigh* whatcha gonna do, right?

So, I don’t know about you, but I’m exhausted. I honestly wanted to come up with an X word that wasn’t a cheat, but April has been an energy vampire and my creative gas tank is running on fumes right now. I have a very finite amount of emotional, physical and creative energy (which is likely thanks to depression.) and I took on far more this month than I should have. Let’s take a peek at what I’ve been doing this month:

– The Blogging from A to Z Challenge

– The April Poem a Day Challenge

– The Platform Building Challenge

– The NaNoLJers Anthology

– The Niteblade Fundraiser

But wait, there’s more! This is a busy Niteblade month because I need to have the table of contents for the June issue set and good to go by the end of this month, which means getting all the edits and paperwork and stuff done. I’ve also been managing to stick to my exercise goals despite the fact my weight loss has hit a plateau (how depressing is that? Ugh). Also, there’s all the ‘life’ and ‘wife‘ and ‘mother‘ stuff. And stuff. Yes. Lots of stuff :-p

Overall, I’m pretty stinkin’ proud of myself, but I’m looking forward to the month being over so I can have some recovery time.

Then Amber posted the sign-up form for Writo De Mayo (the annual challenge NaNoLJers hold in May) and I went ‘Oh. Shit.’ I thought about not signing up this year, but I think I should. If I don’t have some solid goals for next month I may well spend my days curled up in bed getting nothing done and turning into a lump. So I signed up, but I didn’t pick super challenging goals. Their job won’t be to stretch myself but just to motivate me to keep going.

Writo De Mayo goals for 2012:

  • Do the 200 Sit Ups Challenge (beginning on Week Two in Column Two) without straining or otherwise injuring my neck in the process
  • Stay on track for W1S1
  • Write the first draft of at least one new short story (not a poem)
  • Write the first draft of a query letter for Shadows and get feedback on it
  • Get back to the HTRYN course I’m using to revise Twixt (and that I’ve neglected all April)
  • If I’m not successful in finishing up all the prompts for the April Poem-A-Day Challenge finish up any I missed.

What are your goals for next month?

~*~

This blog post is part of the Blogging from A to Z challenge over the month of April and the letter X. Tomorrow I’ll be blogging about something to do with Y (actually, I expect to go with ‘Why?’ but, ya know, it’s the thought that counts) so pop by then to check it out 🙂

Jealousy

So, I’m not actually a jealous person, but I am rather prone to bouts of envy. Unfortunately (?) my ‘E’ blog post was already claimed and I needed a J post so… Yeah.

(The difference between jealousy and envy)

It’s not that I think other writer’s successes somehow take away from my own and I don’t want to take them away. I am honestly and truly happy for my friends when they reach a goal or have good things happen to them. Sadly, however, I usually feel a little twinge of ‘I want that too!’.

It kinda sucks because it gives me a weapon to beat myself up with, and frankly, I do that far more often than I should already. I’m trying to learn to use it as a motivational tool though. I’ve had mixed success so far, because sometimes telling yourself ‘They achieved that goal because they did the work. They didn’t take the afternoon off last week to go raiding’ is a double-edged sword. It’s true enough, but it’s also really close to being that weapon again.

Someday I’ll either learn how to stop envying people for what they have that I don’t (Heh! Small chance of that, really), I’ll learn how to use their victories to motivate myself toward my own, or, more likely, I’ll just have to keep feeling the twinge and going on. One step at a time. It’s how they earned all their achievements, it’s how I will too… even if I am a little bit behind them. That’s okay as long as I keep moving.

…or that’s what I’m telling myself this week, anyway 🙂

How about you? Do you get envious or jealous of other people’s achievements?

I did a quick google before I started this blog post and this seems to be a rather common problem. Writer’s Relief has a blog about how to deal with jealousy, Absolute Write does also and even The Rumpus. Their advice mostly seems to be (though you really ought to read all the articles if you struggle with this) not to let yourself get too hung up on what other people are doing, sincerely wish your colleagues well and  trudging on, so I guess I’m doing the right things. Sometimes it’s stinkin’ hard though. Not the wishing people well part, I truly do, but the not getting hung up and trudging on bits.

Do you have anything you do to help you deal with jealousy? Any words of advice to pass on? I’d love to hear them. You never know what’s going to help until you try, and frankly, every little thing I can do to boost my productivity is a good thing. A very good thing.

~*~

This blog post is part of the Blogging from A to Z challenge over the month of April and was brought to you by the letter J. Tomorrow I’m going to tell the story about the time I was kidnapped by Klingons. You don’t want to miss that one, right? 🙂

Exercise

Really I ought to have a ‘before’ picture of myself to go with this blog post, but, since I’m totally avoiding being in front of cameras these days, a shot of Jo’s bicycle will have to do instead. I avoid having my picture taken because I don’t like how I look, and I don’t like how I look because I’m overweight. You know those ladies who are overweight and gorgeous? Yeah. I’m not one of them. Fun, fun.

The good news is that this year I made losing weight one of my highest priorities. I need to be healthier (and obese is not healthy) if I want to live long enough to write even a fraction of the story and poem ideas that are jammed into my brain.

Some of my goals for this year were:

Health: This relates to my writing because the healthier I am the more productive (and less dead) I am.

  • Continue to eat healthy. In my case that is a low-sodium pescatarian diet.
  • No drinking energy drinks
  • Remember soft drinks are a ‘sometimes food’ (Thanks Cookie Monster)
  • Workout at least five times a week*
  • Lose 40lbs (and 64lbs overall)

I’m doing a fairly good job of sticking to these goals. I’m struggling a little bit with the soft drinks are a ‘sometimes food’ but otherwise things are going well. No energy drinks, I’ve lost 9lbs as of today (I wrote and pre-scheduled this post on March 17th) and I’m pretty good at forcing myself to exercise. The thing is, it hurts LoL

Mostly I’ve been using my stationary exercise bike. I do a pretty intensive 1/2 hour workout on it six days a week. Because that’s exclusively a lower body workout I’ve also been sneaking in a 30 Day Shred workout every once in a while, and now, with the Xbox Kinect I got for my birthday present I’ve decided to add in a Kinect workout regularily too. I’d love to do it everyday, but realistically I think three times a week would be great, because, as I may have mentioned, it hurts.

I have a buggered up ankle that doesn’t like impact much and I’m really out of shape. Really, really out of shape.

Every time I do a full body workout I’m Limpy McGimpsalot the next day. Not just a little bit either, like wincing and moaning everytime I go up or down stairs, sit down, stand up… you get the idea. Sometimes it takes several days before I stop being Ms. Wussypants, and I think I have a pretty high threshhold for pain LOL I’ve been forcing myself to do light workouts (on the bike) on my hurty days (usually) and that often helps reduce the pain, but damn. Hurtiness sucks.

So, for all you in-shape and exercisey-type people… it does stop hurting at some point, right?

I don’t mind a little discomfort, and exercise-sore is actually a kind of satisfying pain, but I could do with a little less of it, to be honest. Please tell me that this is going to decrease if I stick to this LOL

ETA: It turns out that at the peak of my pain I’d actually injured myself (groin owiness) and not really known that was the case and not just that exercise hurts. I took a couple days off and healed up and now I’m back to normal exercise-related aches and pains. The satisfying kinds. I’m still curious though, will these go away as I get more in shape, or not really because, presumably, I’ll always keep pushing myself?

~*~

This blog post is part of the Blogging from A to Z challenge over the month of April and was brought to you by the letter E. Please pop by tomorrow when my daughter will be doing a guest blog about what it’s like to have a writer in the Family.

Created by MyFitnessPal – Free Calorie Counter

Lull Before the Storm…

I don’t usually blog on the weekend. Hell, I don’t usually work on weekends period, but I’m making an exception today because today is the last day of sanity before the crazy that is going to be my April hits. Before I get into that though, I’d like to take a second to say yay. Yay! I am still on track with my Write1Sub1 goals. And also, thank gawd for Write 1 Sub 1. Without it to use as motivation I don’t think I would have produced any new material this month. But I did.

In March I continued to work my way (slowly) through the How to Revise Your Novel course with Twixt. I also started, then re-started a short (ghost) story. It’s going to require at least one more restart before I make it to the end, I think, but still… I also wrote several new poems which are currently resting before I go back and revise them next month and I revised two of the poems I wrote in November (O_o) and added them into my “submission pool” (for lack of a better description). That means I have 16 pieces all currently out looking for new homes. I made 10 submissions this month too, and if you’re paying attention that means you know I collected 8 rejection letters. Whee! LOL #trytryagain

Now, enough looking back, it’s time to look forward.

April.

April is going to be nuts, because I, apparently, am nuts.

In addition to everything I usually do I am going to be participating in three separate challenges. O_o I know, right?

First I’ll be doing the Blogging from A to Z challenge. The good news on this one is that I’ve got roughly half of my blog posts already written and pre-scheduled. That doesn’t mean I won’t have anything to do on those days though, because one of the more time consuming parts of that challenge is going to be visiting the blogs of other people who are participating. Also, I expect it to mean I’ll have increased traffic here, and I like to try to reply to all the comments on my blog, so… Yeah.

I’m also going to be doing the April Poem-a-Day challenge. I’m not actually interested in entering the contest portion of the challenge, but I want to write a poem to go with each prompt, ideally on the day the prompt is offered. If you don’t think that will be a challenge perhaps you weren’t aware that I’m still working my way through the prompts from the November 2011 Poem-a-Day challenge LOL

But wait! There’s more!

I also decided to check out Robert Brewer’s April Platform Challenge. I’m not sure how much of that challenge will be applicable to me because, well, I’ve never done a platform challenge before LOL, but it should be fun to find out.

So yeah… the crazy is going to start tomorrow. I hope the daily blog posts won’t drive you all away and I hope I’ll still be standing when May 1st rolls around.

Wish me luck, I’ll need it, and if you’re participating in any of those challenges with me, let me know. Company is always a good thing 🙂

…I did blog

*insert sheepish look here*

I DID blog this week. Just a couple minutes ago in fact. Unfortunately it turned into a total World of Warcraft rant that just wasn’t appropriate for this blog.

The short version is that I don’t like mean people. The long version is now invisible in this space.

I just wanted to make a record of the fact I did blog this week, so I haven’t failed at my ‘blog every week’ goal for this year…

I may have slipped a little, but I didn’t quite fall.

Bullet Points ftw!

You know, one goal I’d set for myself for this year was to blog at least once a week. I think the reason I forgot to add it to my goal list is because I’d set this goal just before then, so it felt separate somehow. But it isn’t.

I guess that’s relevant mostly because this is going to be my blog entry for this week. It’s a busy week, so I’m going to be making this blog brief and bullet point-y. I always sorta feel bad when I write bullet point blogs, but I do have a few things to share and not much time to do it in.

<– Check this guy out. How cool is that? This is the graphic reward I get for sticking to my Write 1 Sub 1 goal for January. I’m doing the lightweight version which is writing and submitting one short story or poem a month.

This month I was largely focused on working on Consequence but, because I’d set a W1S1 goal, I also made time to write a few poems and (nearly) finish revisions on a short story I’d written a few months ago. I also revised a couple poems I’d started for the 2011 November Poem a Day and submitted one of them. That, combined with re-submitting stuff as I collected rejection notices for them, resulted in 8 submissions this month and 1 new piece moved into the pool of work I’m actively looking to sell.

I got an email last week that nearly made me cry. In a good way. It was a ‘Your work has gone on to the next stage’ letter from a market I’ve been trying to break into for years now. I’ve got my fingers crossed really tight (and I’m superstitious enough to hope I’m not jinxing myself by talking about it like this) but really, at this point even if they pass on it, I feel like I’ve made progress, and progress is good.

Consequence is fighting me for every word. Now, I tend to be a proponent of the ‘just write it even if it’s shit’ school of thinking for first drafts, but this one is like… well, pulling teeth. I feel like I’m spending too much of my writing time staring at a blank page in my notebook and trying to figure out what to write. That’s not cool so I’ve temporarily stopped physically working on Consequence. I’m going to let my sub-concious chew on it for a little while, and turn my attention to Twixt.

I’d like to avoid having to revise Twixt over and over again like I did Shadows. A good friend of mine took the ‘How to Revise your Novel’ course by Holly Lisle, and another friend took her ‘Thinking Sideways’ course. Both have loved them, so I signed up for HTRYN to try it out. I’ll let it guide my revisions on this draft of Twixt in hopes that it will save me time in the long run. I worry, mostly, that I’ll use this course as a new way to procrastinate “What do you mean I’m not working on it? I’m taking this course…” Only one way to find out, I suppose.

Lastly, on a short crafty note, I’ve reincarnated my Mystery Quilts blog. Hopefully I won’t accidentally delete it this time *eyeroll*. Anyway, it’s right here iffin yer interested. I’ve begun working on a new project for fresh beginners after having a crafty conversation with my friend Jayde, and I’ve got plans for a spring-themed tablerunner too, so, yeah… it should be good.

ETA: It looks like maybe this lil piccy to the right here is meant to be my reward for success in Write 1 Sub 1 for January and the top one is for a sub-section of the W1S1 community but I kinda like the dude up top better. Think anyone will be grumpy if I post both?

(This post has been edited to remove the bullet points because they were messing up my formatting. Funny and true!)

2012 Goals

It’s that time of year again. I have a love/hate relationship with goal setting. I love it because goals really are motivating and help me not only get stuff done, but see progress when I need to the most. The thing I hate about goal setting is trying to figure out where the balancing point is between ‘Unrealistic Expectations’ and ‘Challenging Myself’. Tricky, tricky.

That being said, this is my attempt for this year:

Health: This relates to my writing because the healthier I am the more productive (and less dead) I am.

  • Continue to eat healthy. In my case that is a low-sodium pescatarian diet.
  • No drinking energy drinks
  • Remember soft drinks are a ‘sometimes food’ (Thanks Cookie Monster)
  • Workout at least five times a week*
  • Lose 40lbs

School: I think this year is going to be more writing and editing-centric so my school goal is optional, depending on time and stress.

  • Finish one, or, if I’m feeling super energetic, two more courses toward my degree

Writing:

  • Write the first draft of Consequence (Deadline is March 31)
  • Participate in the monthly version of Write 1 Sub 1. I have a habit of writing ‘cast-off’ poetry for things like this when I become overwhelmed. That’s not acceptable here. Poetry only counts if it is in a complete and publishable form that I’m proud of. Same goes for stories.
  • Figure out what to do with Shadows and my zombie poetry and get to work on doing it. This can mean looking for an agent, a publisher or any number of other things. I can’t be specific until I’ve made a decision
  • Either finish a first draft of Hollow Children or a transcription of Twixt
  • Revise the whack of ‘mostly finished’ short stories sitting in my Dropbox and start looking for homes for them
  • NaNoWriMo is optional. So is NovPad.
  • Participate in the Whittaker Prize again this year, but in only one category, not both.
  • Finish writing poems for all the 2011 Novpad prompts

Editing:

  • Implement the new payment system for Niteblade
  • Run a fundraiser and increase promotion in order to move out of the red
  • Super Sekkrit Projekt w CJD (not Niteblade-related)

Wow… so that’s a lot more goals than I usually set in a year, but it covers some of the things which affect my writing and I don’t usually address in goal-setting. Hopefully that makes things go smoother, but if not I’ll know better for next year.

*The reward for 300 workouts this year will be Christmas in San Francisco. Rewards, especially those not related to food, are good.