I don’t really make New Year’s Resolutions, because I’m crap at keeping them, but I do enjoy setting goals for the coming year each January. I find them super helpful staying focused and find the accountability which comes from sharing them publicly really helps as well. This year I’m a wee bit late on getting this blog post done, so it may be slightly less chatty than in years past, but without further ado, here are some of my work-related goals for the coming year (and health counts because you can’t work if you’re not at least a certain degree of healthy).
Weigh less at the end of the year than I do at the start
No working on weekends and minimal working on evenings.
Editing / Publishing
Publish the final three issues of Niteblade and then close down that aspect of the magazine
Complete Corvidae and market it to the best of my ability
Complete Scarecrow and market it to the best of my ability
Write and submit at least one new short story a month*
The ‘submit’ part of this is important. I can’t just write a first draft and leave it to moulder indefinitely. The story needs to be ready for submission and, in fact, submitted, within the month to count.
Begin querying agents about Hollow
Self-publish at least one collection of reprints
Complete work on collaborative project with Marge
Successfully participate in April Poem-A-Day
This means actually writing a poem a day or at least having thirty poems written by the end of the month
Participate in NaNoWriMo*
Either complete the first draft of a new novel, or revise one of the novel first drafts I’ve already written (this can be completed in conjunction with NaNoWriMo or separate from it)
Read at least 50 books
Slush doesn’t count, nor do books by friends I read to critique.
When someone visits this blog and leaves a comment — reciprocate.
As of New Year’s Eve of 2014 I’d sold a total of one book via Kobo**. One. For a whopping $0.45 in royalties. One of my goals in 2015 is to improve that. I don’t have a super firm goal in mind but it shouldn’t be too difficult to top one sale and less than fifty cents in royalties, right?
I’ll probably tweak this list as the year goes on, but for now I think it’s a very good jumping-off point 🙂
*under this name or as a pen name project. Either counts.
**this doesn’t count books I didn’t self-publish like Fae, Metastasis etc.
Like most people I know, the past couple months have been pretty much a total blur for me. A blur of mostly good things, but still a blur. Not only does time move faster the closer and closer I get to my 40th birthday, but the amount of projects on my plate this autumn/winter was (frankly) obscene. Also mostly good, but an obscene number of them. One of the side effects of that was that I wasn’t writing. I was reading, editing, transcribing, formatting, organizing, shortlisting, etc. etc. but not writing.
Which, since I like to call and think of myself as a writer, was kind of a problem.
That means this week I’m not reading Corvidae submissions, not editing stories for A is for Apocalypse, not looking at proofs for the December issue of Niteblade (though I’ll send them out to contributors when they come in LoL), not whatever-ing. I’m just writing.
But, me being me, I needed concrete goals or I’d spend the week meandering from thing to thing and not actually getting anything done.
My primary goal for the week is actually the 10,000 words I need to write to be successful with my MicroWriMo goals but the To Do list is which projects, specifically, those words are going to come from*.
The ‘To Do’ section of this list is made up of the projects which have been in-progress for the longest time or, for whatever reason, are feeling like they are high-priority to me right now. The bonus/rewards are the more fun and/or less urgent things I’ve got on my radar. The way this system is going to work, each time I finish something on my “To Do” list I can either do another project on the To Do list (if I’m feeling uber productive) or I can choose something from the Bonus/Rewards section.
I am not crazy. I don’t expect to get this list done. I don’t expect to get even a quarter of this list done. I would really like to cross three things off the ‘To Do’ part. We’ll see if I can pull that off, but mostly it’s the 10k words that matters. And writing.
Anyway, at the end of the week I’ll post an update and we’ll see how I’ve done. Hopefully this public accountability will help keep me on track a bit 🙂
*Somewhat randomly, when I’m writing poetry while simultaneously dealing with a word count goal I count each poem I write as a minimum of 100 words because I find picking precisely the right words for a poem takes a lot more time and effort than the quantity of those words accounts for.
I love writing conventions. I’ve only been to a few, but every time I leave feeling exhausted, but also invigorated, inspired and motivated.
During his pre-convention marketing workshop Mark Leslie spoke about serendipity and creating the opportunity to make connections by attending things like conventions and festivals. The whole time he was talking about it I was just nodding along with him. Every time I’ve attended a convention-type-thing I’ve met new people and made new friends and connections. Attending When Words Collide last weekend was no exception.
I met Laura VanArendonk Baugh and Adria Laycraft who have stories in Fae, Leslie and Megan who I’ve connected with online for what feels like forever but is actually closer to a few months, people I share tables of contents with, publishers who’ve believed in my work enough to include it in their titles, local writers who I somehow hadn’t managed to connect with before and lots of other new people (readers, writers, editors, marketers… the list goes on and on…).
And I got to re-connect with people who I only get to see at events like this.
Also? I got to have conversations like these (vagueified–which should totally be a word–anonymized and paraphrased):
Him: Can I see your tattoo?
Me: Blah blah blah… as you can see I like corvidae. In fact, I’m editing an anthology called Corvidae, and a companion anthology entitled Scarecrow.
Him: I have a scarecrow story, how would I send that to you?
Me: I’ve always wanted to write a book about THIS THING which totally falls into the same category as a lot of your work but I lack the expertise and there never seems to be enough time in the day.
Him: Do you want to write it together?
Me: Uh, lemmethinkaboutthat–YES^
Friend: Oh my god! After that panel where part of my story was read I was approached by a publisher and asked to submit!
(Note: When awesome things like this happen to your friends, it’s almost as cool as when they happen to you. It’s amazing to be there in person to help them celebrate.)
Me: I can’t wait to read your book, when does it come out?
Her: *tells me*
Me: I don’t know if I can wait that long. Do you need blurbs? If I like it as much as I think I will…
Her: Oh, that would be great. I hate asking people for blurbs!
Awesomesauce Editor, after reading & marking up the opening to Hollow^: I like this. I really like this. Close your eyes and listen to this *reads my (edited) story back to me*
Me: Wow. I didn’t know I could write that well!
Post on Facebook: Rhonda! The dealer’s room is sold out of copies of Fae, do you have any more?^
A couple different people (!!): Rhonda Parrish? I’ve heard of you… (and they didn’t mean in a bad way LoL)
Me, right before my first panel ever in life: Dude, I’m really, really, really nervous.
Fellow Panelist, who is awesome #1: Come sit over here beside me.
Me, after being on my first panel ever in life: Oh man! I made it through and I’m pretty sure I didn’t even say anything stupid! (my goal for every panel was just not to say something stupid. I think I only failed once LoL)
Fellow Panelist, who is awesome #2: You were great. Hugs!
My point? Conventions rock. I’ve never regretted attending one, and I had an especially awesome time at When Words Collide. Such a good time, in fact, that I’m already registered to attend it again next year. Maybe I’ll see you there?
^more on this later or much later as is appropriate given the subject
Okay, so that’s a slight exaggeration. The thing is, we’re nearly halfway through the month, the month I’m supposed to be dedicating to revisions of Hollow… and I am *so* far from being halfway through revisions. >_<
I have excuses. I really have had a whole bunch of other things going on this month, with Fae, A is for Apocalypse, Niteblade, Waste Not*, life… but if we get to the end of the month and I haven’t got a workable version of this book to send to beta readers, don’t let me use those excuses. Don’t do it. Even if I sound super reasonable. Because though I really have been busy, I’ve also managed to find time to take naps in the morning, or play video games in the evening, read several books…
So, mostly this blog post is a reality check for myself, because apparently I’m in need of that. But it’s also something that, come the end of the month if I’m not where I should be, will keep me from being able to justify that away. Ya know, barring some unforeseen huge disaster, but let’s just hope that doesn’t happen LOL
In more exciting news? Cover reveal for A is for Apocalypse tomorrow!!
A Note: Though this post is scheduled to go live on May 6th I’m actually writing it in the end of April. I’d share it today but I’m in the midst of the Blogging from A to Z Challenge and I don’t want to interrupt that. I’d share it earlier in the month but I have the post for The Hedge Witch launch party and a sales announcement both scheduled… so May 6th it is LOL
I’m struggling with my novel (currently entitled Hollow). I began this book in November as a NaNoWriMo novel, then my productivity quickly fell off as soon as November was over. I really had a tough time getting myself to work on it, and even once I finished the first draft I kept thinking of things to add or change before I began revising it with sincerity. I’ve had a good long look at myself, and the book, and why it’s not getting finished and I’m pretty sure that the truth is… I’m afraid to finish it.
Because it’s good. It’s the best thing I’ve written. And while it’s unfinished it is still full of limitless potential but as soon as I finish it that all ends. It will be written, done, and flawed (because let’s face it, no novel is perfect… except perhaps The Last Unicorn ;)). I think I’m afraid to reach that stage. To face reality rather than fantasy.
But I need to get over that. I know in reality the book will be imperfect, but I believe it will also be awesome, and the only way to find out if I’m right is to suck it up and get it done.
So that’s what I’m doing this month.
For May my goal is to keep my butt in the chair and revise this novel. I can’t put everything else on the back burner (we have a cover reveal for A is for Apocalypse next week, for example) but everything that can be put on hold has been. By June 1st, when we release the next issue of Niteblade, I want to have a revised version of Hollow in the hands of my beta readers. I expect that will mean I’ll be spending less time on social media or watching television in the evenings, but that’s a trade I’m willing to make.
Wish me luck. And come June if I don’t blog to announce the book is being read by beta readers, please feel free to pelt me with virtual tomatoes and hold my feet to the fire. And don’t accept any lame-ass excuses from me either 😉
This year I’m participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge again. I thought it might be fun to share some of my photography instead of always my words. They say a picture is worth–well, you know what they say 😉
I will try to keep these blog posts short and sweet, while still offering a little bit of insight into each photograph, just for fun.
If you’re interested in learning more about the Blogging from A to Z Challenge you can check out these links:
Each year, like so many other people, I see the changing of the calendar as the perfect time to look back over the past twelve months and set goals for the next ones. It’s super helpful to me and I look back at my goals over and over during the year, whenever I feel myself going off course… They help keep me focused on the things I want to do, motivated when depression decides to rear its ugly head, and give me things to celebrate when I achieve them. Also? Posting them publicly helps make me feel accountable to someone (that would be you lol) and serves as motivation for the thing that is my motivation. Whee!
Because these goals are so integral to my life, I set them in a lot of categories, not just writing. It seems like a lot, but it works for me.
No drinking pop. Period.
Lose 20 lbs
Lower blood pressure (bonus points if I get to reduce my medication)
This degree is taking a ridonkulously long time. I need to finish another course toward completing it this year. Bonus points if I manage two, but it’s important not to lose sight of the fact that this is honestly more of a hobby than anything and it must not negatively effect my work.
What a year. To say it’s been exponentially better than last year would be a huge understatement, but at the same time, it’s been far from perfect. It’s that time again when I look over my goals, see how well I did, celebrate the good things and figure out how to fail better at the others next year.
I’ll list my goals for 2013 below, bolding the ones I figure I accomplished and addressing each briefly. I don’t want to turn this into a novel-length blog post 😉
Successfully complete the P90x program (I’m giving myself permission to swap Cardio X workouts in for Plyometric ones because I worry about my ankle and also, I’m a bit of a wussy)
No energy drinks
Significantly cut the amount of sugar in my diet. I have a complicated set of rules for this for myself, but I don’t want to bore everyone with sharing them.
Right. So I totally fell down on pretty much all my health goals (though I mostly managed to avoid Red Bull). I’m not even sure what happened to tell the truth, I just never managed to get back into the habit of working out and watching what I ate. This needs to be my primary focus for next year though because if I’m unhealthy everything else falls apart too. I may need help remembering that over the coming months though, so I’ll have to figure out a way to address that when I set my goals for 2014.
Begin another course (or two) toward my degree no later than April 1st and complete it/them successfully.
I took Psychology 304 – Research Methods in Psychology (which is required for my degree) and passed it with a B+. A very irritating B+. I was point five percent away from an A. >_<
Sell my cancer anthology idea to a publisher.*
Edit the cancer anthology, making sure the end result is something I am proud of.
Promote the hell out of the anthology, ensuring that there actually are royalties to donate to charity.
Continue to pursue my sekkrit projeckt with CJD
Increase Niteblade’s readership and distribution
Begin offering Niteblade in more file formats
Hold a successful fundraiser for Niteblade
Produce a NaNoLJers anthology if sufficient interest exists
I sold the Metastasis anthology idea to Wolfsinger Publications and edited the hell out of that thing. I am *SO* freaking proud of this book. So proud, and my mother (who I dedicated my efforts to) would be as well. We’re still in the process of ‘promoting the hell out of it’ and our first statements haven’t come out so I’m not sure how sales are going yet. Fingers crossed though… and if they aren’t where we want them to be, well, I guess I’ll just have to put some more time in.
This year I did increase Niteblade’s readership, distribution and the number of file formats it is available in. We also held a super successful fundraiser (raising $604!) and even adopted a chimpanzee.
While I did check to see if there was interest in a NaNoLJers anthology, there didn’t seem to be. Maybe next year… And my sekkrit projekt kind of got left behind a bit this year, but maybe that’s something I can look to a little closer in 2014 as well because I sure wasn’t slacking when it came to editing projects this year.
In addition to Metastasis and Niteblade, I’m also working on an anthology with World Weaver Press. You may have heard of it, it’s this little thing I like to call Fae. And I also broke ground on the first of what is going to be a huge series of anthologies, A is for Apocalypse.
Successfully complete the weekly version of Write 1 Sub 1. For the ‘Write’ portion of this challenge I will count completed short stories or poems as well as individual scenes from longer works. By allowing myself to count individual scenes I will be able to work on longer works and still participate in W1S1
Actually successfully complete the AprilPad or NovPad properly, without having to make up prompts after the month has passed
Self-publish “Aphanasian Stories”
Look into the practicality of bundling and re-releasing some of my previously published short stories as ebooks
Follow through on my 2012 plans for my zombie poetry
Well, you win some you lose some, right?
For example, I participated in The Whittaker Prize (well, this year’s incarnation was the Not-Whittaker Prize) but when it carried over into November, when I was trying to do All.The.Things including NaNoWriMo I decided to drop out for my own sanity. I was successful with NaNoWriMo however… but then I totally haven’t written another word on my novel (which needs about 30,000 more of them) since then. >_<
I did participate in Writo De Mayo where my primary goal was to transcribe a family history my grandmother had written and format it as a book to give to her. I did, and she loved it very much making the month’s worth of work well, well, worth the effort. (Alas, now she has edited the proof copy so guess what I’m doing in May 2014? LOL).
I also self-published Aphanasian Stories. Sales have been pretty lame (read: nearly non-existent) but I’m glad those stories are out there and available to an audience who might want them, if not today, perhaps tomorrow. Plus, the reviewers seem to like them, so that’s good for my ego 🙂
I’m looking at bundling some of my other previously published short stories to re-sell as ebooks but right now I don’t have enough which aren’t under contract that have common themes, so that’s something I’ll have to look at again next year.
As for the zombie poetry collection? It’s a work in progress. Hopefully I’ll have something to show for it before the end of the year, but I don’t want to rush through and create an inferior product. Because.
Under the writing umbrella for 2013 I’ve had a fantastic year. I’ve produced some stories I’m really, super proud of, and many of them have found homes with dream publishers. Highlights definitely include being published by Tesseracts 17: Speculating Canada from Coast to Coast, work forthcoming in Kzine, Mythic Delirium and the Trafficking in Magick anthology, poetry publications with Every Day Poets and especially the story I co-wrote with Jo for Masked Mosaic: Canadian Super Stories.
Read at least 30 books
As of today I’ve read 47 published books. I’ve also been privileged enough to read one soon-to-be published book as a critiquer and a couple anthologies I may have mentioned above. I also read a crapload of short stories as submissions to Niteblade and those anthologies, so overall I think I crushed this goal 😉
Post writing prompts/exercises in NaNoLJers on odd numbered Mondays
Run and participate in the writing bingo in NaNoLJers
Don’t forget that life is for living, not leveling
I did well on these ones 🙂 Sadly I didn’t make it to WorldCon, we had some unexpected expenses that needed to be dealt with (stoopid money) and I kinda sucked at putting prompts up for NaNoLJers but other than that I rocked the goals in this area. My month of letters was a lot of fun and I still write to several of the people I met that month (in addition to the friends I’ve always written to — I’ve fallen behind on that, but working on catching up. Let’s blame a crazy autumn, okay?), I did the Blogging from A to Z Challenge with a theme (Niteblade), ran the writing bingo at NaNoLJers and significantly cut back on the amount of time I spend playing World of Warcraft.
My social media retreats have gone very well, except for during the times when I’m in the midst of a promotion or such and need to pop on at least once a day because of that. I think next year I’m going to set a daily time limit for social media stuff rather than trying to avoid it completely for one week of the month. I think it will be better for consistency and also my sanity. Taking a break has definitely been good for my productivity though, and my state of mind. It’s really easy to get caught in a loop when every time something happens you think ‘I need to tweet this!’ Stepping away regularly definitely helped me shift my perspective and live a more balanced life. And that’s what it’s all about, right?
In the next little while I’ll look at my goals for 2014 and share those here, but in the meantime I think I’m going to bask a little bit in the glow of a year which, while it wasn’t perfect, was pretty damn good.
Yay! I *won* NaNoWriMo again this year (this makes my 8th victory). Of course, the novel I was working on isn’t finished. I think it still needs another 20-30,000 more words, but I’ve got a good start on it and I feel like I know where it’s going from here. I’m going to keep working on it at a bit of a slower pace (I have to focus the bulk of my time on Fae for a while now) but I look forward to having a complete workable first draft sometime in January.
I’ve just come home from my the Christmas party at my husband’s work, and I’m sleepy and my head is a little foggy from wine, but I was reminded that I haven’t posted my excerpt for this week for the NaNo Excerpt Blog Chain. So now I’m doing that. And just because I feel like celebrating the fact that first drafts are supposed to be shit, I picked this excerpt. Yeup, this is how I write LOL
“Well,” Sevren laughed. “I’m not sure we can go that far, but I’m willing to give you the benefit of the doubt. Just like you gave me back in grade two when I was sure SOMETHING WAS SOMETHING INSTEAD OF SOMETHING ELSE.”
Morgan laughed and pushed Sevren back by his shoulder. “This is not like that.”
“This is exactly like that,” Sevren said. “And do you remember what you did back then?”
Morgan did. They’d hidden in the cloak room of the classroom every recess for a whole week DOING SOMETHING TO DISPROVE WHATEVER IT WAS THAT SEVREN BELIEVED. EVENTUALLY SOMETHING EXCITING HAPPENED THAT PROVED TO THEM WHATEVER HE THOUGHT WASN’T REAL AND THEY’D BEEN FILLED WITH RELIEF AND LAUGHED AND LAUGHED. OR SOMETHING.
“Perhaps, but do you have a better plan?”
“No–” Morgan admitted. “But that’s not much of a plan.”
“Sorry Scoob, but we’re going back to the haunted mansion.”
“Rut-roh, Raggy,” Morgan said in a terrible impersonation of Scooby Doo. “Rut-roh.”
Wheee! For the record, I write my NaNoWriMo novels almost exclusively with the Write or Die desktop app. I turn it on Kamikaze with the tolerance level set very low. That means if I stop typing it starts erasing my words. It’s motivating, but it does mean I haven’t time to sit there and think about things like this so I rely on a lot on placeholders. Whatever gets the words on the page, right?
And yeah… that pretty much sums up my freaking creative process. Right now I’m at #3 and sliding pretty quickly toward #4. This is actually happening much earlier into this book than it usually does. I usually hit the ‘This is shit’ point when I’m about halfway done something, and ‘I am shit’ follows behind that. Things turn around into ‘This might be okay’ somewhere around 2/3rds done… usually.
Right now I’m about a third of the way through and already eyeball deep in ‘This is shit’ which freaking sucks. *sigh* I’m still writing, I’m still plugging away though, because if I quit this story never gets told. If I quit I never get to move past ‘This is shit/I am shit’ and I’ll sit there and wallow indefinitely. If I quit I never get to make it back to ‘This is awesome’. And ya know, I’m a pretty big fan of ‘This is awesome’.
So I’m gritting my teeth (so hard I’m halfway scared they might break) and I’m putting one word in front of the other. Even if they are shit. Because I have to. Because it’s what I do.
…but I also had to take a break to vent/whine a little bit.
Because apparently, that is also what I do.
I also share excerpts from this novel on Fridays because I signed up to participate in the NaNo Excerpt Blog Chain. This week’s is pretty short, but I like it…
Alone in the white Varenous forged an object from thought and fear. Summoning all his available power he pushed against the walls of his existence, tearing a small hole in the fabric that separated his reality from Morgan’s.
The hole healed itself almost immediately, but not before he shoved the camera from his world into hers. Then, spent, he waited.