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.
It’s Friday again, which means it’s time to post another excerpt.
I’m a fair bit behind on my novel right now (about 5k) and we’re heading into the weekend which is usually a really bad writing time for me. I’d planned to write 5,000 words today to get caught up before the weekend hit but that’s not happening so far. I am locked in my (small) bedroom with three cats and a dog while there are people using jackhammers in my basement. Not exactly an ideal work environment LOL
Anyway, I’ll see what I can manage. The construction ought to be done by Tuesday or Wednesday next week so if all else fails I’ll do 5k days on both Thursday and Friday. It’ll suck, but *shrugs*
But you aren’t here for my whining, are you? Time to bust out another excerpt from this years NaNoWriMo novel, with the working titled of Hollow Children:
Suddenly she wasn’t sure this was such a good idea. Morgan didn’t believe in ghosts. Not anymore. Not really. But she did believe in rusty nails, crumbling supports and unstable vagrants. Perhaps it would be a better idea to just go home and face her parents now. She looked over her shoulder, out at the neighbourhood she’d grown up in. She couldn’t see her house from here, it was on the other side of the prison, but all the streets around her home were as familiar to her as her own block. All safe. All boring. Maybe what she really needed to deal with Barry, and all the other troubles in her life, was to learn to be braver. Maybe that was what this trip would teach her. Maybe. She looked back toward the prison.
“Twenty seconds,” she told the boarded up window. “I’ll give you twenty seconds to start.” If she was too frightened after twenty seconds she would leave, but not before.
“One one thousand…”
Morgan pushed the board out of the way and peered down into the darkness.
“Two one thousand,” she whispered. She could see a table pushed up against the wall beneath the window. It was filty from the passage of countless feet but very welcome as it saved her from a substantial jump down into the prison’s basement.
“Three one thousand,” she said, putting her left foot down carefully, testing the table before putting all her weight on it. Though it looked sturdy enough there was no telling how long it had been in there, nor how many hundreds of kids or vagrants had tromped across it. Better safe than sorry, as her mother used to say. The table wobbled a little beneath her weight, but it seemed stable enough. “Four one thousand.”
She pulled her other leg through the window, followed by the rest of her. The plywood over the opening swung shut behind her, taking the light with it. Suddenly it was dark. A new flutter of fear flitted in her belly and her voice shook a little when she whispered, “Five one thousand.”
Her mouth was dry, and the familiar taste of fear filled it, tangy and bitter. She strained her ears against the darkness, slowing her breathing to minimize its interference and searching for any sound. Any proof she was not alone.
She waited, her back pressed against the cool concrete wall, for her eyes to adjust to the difference in light. Nebulous blobs of color floated across her field of view and she imagined a dozen sets of eyes on her. Eyes belonging to rats and spiders and other creatures unhampered by the darkness.
“Six one thousand,” she said as the darkness bled away into a grey half-light and shapes began to become visible. A filing cabinet leaned in one corner, three of its drawers were missing completely and the remaining two stuck out at drunken angles. Obviously this had been some sort of an office back when the prison was still in operation. Nothing to be afraid of.
Morgan sat on the table, dangling her feet over the edge before making the tiny hop to the floor. “Seven one thousand.”
She scoured the ground with her gaze as well as she could in the dim light, making sure there were no hazards waiting to trip her up and make her break a leg. Or worse. All she saw was water stains and tracked-in dirt.
“Eight one thousand,” she said after much more than a second had passed with only the sound of her heartbeat heavy in her ears.
“Nine one thousand,” she said, though the more time she spent in the shell of a prison the more comfortable she became in it, and despite her count she’d already been there substantially longer than nine seconds. “Right,” she said, looking around the room once more before following the tracks of hundreds of other adventure-seekers deeper into the old jail.
Dudes. I can’t write on weekends. Seriously. I keep trying and I keep failing.
During the week when I have the house all to myself (well, me and our pets) I’m golden. I can write 1,600 words in half an hour. Zip zip zip. The biggest obstacle there is getting my ass in the chair and keeping myself from being distracted by shiny things. On the weekend though… ugh.
It’s not like it’s Jo or Dani’s fault either. When I tell them I’m going to write they both respect that and don’t interrupt me… but just having them here in the house, that’s all it takes to keep me from being productive. Maybe it’s that they provide too much shiny to resist. Maybe it’s the sound of World of Warcraft being played behind me (or, when Jo uses headphones it’s just the knowledge it’s being played behind me) or maybe that I’d rather be doing stuff with Jo and Dani instead of writing.
Or maybe (and this is really the most likely) they just provide a handy excuse for the procrastination I’m so very good at.
Whatever it is? It’s really not good for my word count.
I’ll make it up starting Tuesday when Jo is back at work and Dani at school, but in the meantime I’m counting 500 words an evening as a victory. Because I can.
It’s Friday again, and because I’m participating in the Absolute Write NaNo Excerpt Blog Chain that means another excerpt from my NaNoWriMo novel, Hollow Children (which I think I’m going to re-title. Possibly to just ‘Hollow’). This section has a whole whack of issues, but I promised myself I wouldn’t start editing before the first draft was done, so I’m swallowing my ego and sharing it warts and all.
Running helps. As long as Morgan keeps her eyes straight, her right shoulder to the old prison and focuses all her attention on the sound of her shoes on the sidewalk, running helps.
It’s quiet. The only sounds are her feet hitting the pavement, her breathing loud in her ears and an occasional bird. The sound of traffic is a dull hum in the background but she hasn’t seen a moving vehicle in several minutes while she’s run laps around the four city blocks that contain the decrepit prison. It’s getting late enough that the sky is bruising and the streetlights are coming on, but their light is dim and there’s still more than enough sunlight to see without them.
The leaves are still on the trees but she can smell autumn’s bite in the air. She’s too warmed up from her exertions to feel it though. Her hoodie is tied around her waist and its hem slaps against the back of her knees as she runs.
Her body knows what to do, the movements are automatic and her mind is empty but for the one-two count of her feet on the sidewalk. One-two, one-two, left-right, left-right. She focuses on those numbers like she never does in math class, letting each one grow to fill her mind and push everything else out.
Usually she doesn’t have to count. Usually she just has to run. Usually, but not today. Today she walked in on her mother crying, so if she stops counting, Morgan knows the birdsong around her will be lost in the remembered sounds of twisted metal, screams and shattered glass.
As she rounds the northwest corner of the prison grounds something penetrates the barrier she’s put up around her thoughts. A voice. A very specific voice. Barry’s voice.
“Shit,” she whispers as her eyes flick one way and then the other, trying to discern where it’s coming from. Acoustics are weird around the prison grounds, the old prison and its outbuildings catch them and toss them around like a SOMETHING, and to make things worse the wind has chosen that precise moment to pick up and rattle the leaves in the trees.
The last thing in the world she wants is to have to deal with Barry. Especially f he’s with his friends, and if he isn’t, why would he be talking?
Finally she catches sight of him, he and his friends. They’ve just turned the corner and are walking toward her. That leaves her two choices. She can turn around and run back the way she’s just come from, or she can keep going and hope they leave her alone. She anticipates no joy from either choice. If she runs away they will know she is avoiding them and as soon as they sense any weakness they will be like a shark with chum in the water. History has shown her that. Still, the chances of them ignoring her as she runs straight at them are slim to none.
Well, if you’ve gotta go down, go down fighting.
The novel is going okay. It was really, really fighting me at first, but I feel like it’s developed a little bit of momentum. Which is good, I’m going to need it heading into week two since I don’t have a buffer like I usually do. Also, I haven’t written yet today, so I really ought to get on that…
Over at the Absolute Write Water Cooler there is a blog chain going on which I signed up to be a part of. In short, we are going to post excerpts from our NaNoWriMo novels each Friday. It’s kind of unfortunate that day one of NaNoWriMo falls on a Friday, but since it does I’m obligated to share an excerpt.
Excerpt from Hollow Children (a work-in-progress):
The house was dark when she entered it, and uncannily quiet. She shut the door behind her, turning the deadbolt in its place and learning her back against the solid wood with only the sound of her pounding heart and panting breath in her ears. She closed her eyes, wiped the palms of her hands on her thighs and willed her heart rate to slow, her breath to steady.
“Morgan?” Amy’s voice startled her and she jumped, eyelids flying open.
Amy stood across the kitchen, leaning her shoulder against the doorjamb, looking at her quizzically. “Morgan,” she said again. “Are you all right?”
No. No, I am very much not all right. “Yes,” she forced a laugh which sounded weak even to her own ears. “Of course I’m all right. I just got startled by a bird while I was running, that’s all.”
The best lies are those with a grain of truth, at least that’s what they always said on the police shows she loved to watch on A & E. “Just let me grab a shower and then we can start dinner.”
Amy nodded but Morgan couldn’t help but notice the worry in her eyes and the tell-tale way her hand was moving inside the pocket of her hoodie, worrying the button she kept in there. It was a habit she’d developed since the accident, something she did whenever she was scared or worried.
“Really,” Morgan said, contorting her face into a smile. “I just had a little scare is all.”
“Okay,” Amy said, but her voice was flat, unconvinced. “But you don’t usually lock the door against birds.”
For a little kid she was pretty sharp, there wasn’t going to be any convincing her of this lie. Not tonight. Morgan was filled with an odd mixture of gratitude and resentment. She was glad Amy cared enough to, well, care, but she didn’t want to talk about it and her sister’s big hazel eyes were making her feel guilty for that. What could a BLANK year old understand about it anyway?
“Go play Minecraft,” Morgan snapped, pushing by Amy on her way to the shower. “I’ll call you when it’s time to set the table.”
The shower washed the sweat off her body, but it didn’t make her feel any cleaner.
The following links will lead you to the blogs of the other participants in this blog chain 🙂 I’m going to go see if I can get a few hundred more words done before dinner.
This month I am participating in my ninth NaNoWriMo challenge (Username: Midnyte If you’re participating feel free to add me. Drop me a line & I’ll return the favour). I’ve been doing NaNoWriMo yearly since 2003 (though I skipped one year because I just wasn’t feeling it). This year I’m going to write a new first draft of a story you’ve been listening to me talk about writing since July of 2011 — Hollow Children. For November I’ve taken all my previous abortive drafts, scenes and papers and stuck them in a drawer and I’m going to leave them there until this draft is done. I’ll peek at them again when it comes time to revise but I don’t want to get hung up on comparing drafts and such until I’ve got all the words on the page.
My biggest obstacle as a writer is myself, getting out of my own way and putting words on the page. That’s where NaNoWriMo comes in handy because for me the most difficult part of writing (even 1,667 words a day) is sitting my ass down and doing it. During November and NaNoWriMo I feel extra accountable and that helps me get my butt in the chair. So I’ll be doing 50,000 words on this draft in November and then hopefully continuing on until the entire draft is done. I’m hoping for somewhere around 80-90k altogether.
In addition, because sanity is overrated, I’m also going to be doing the November Poem A Day Challenge. The PAD challenges at Writer’s Digest (in November and April) have also become sort of a tradition for me and are the source of most of the poetry I write in a year. One of my favourite parts is that I know my friend Beth will be doing them too, and even though we don’t compare notes every day or whatever, as the month goes on we do check in with each other to see how it’s going, and it’s nice to feel like you’re not alone. This year I’m working on a sekkrit collaborative project with someone (not Beth) and I’ll be using the theme of that as my theme for NovPAD. It should be super efficient (which my vulture brain loves) and fun. Win/win.
Oh, and did I mention the renovations? We’re having our yard dug up and weeping tile installed starting the middle of the month… so that’ll be… fun.
I’ve also decided to drop out of the ‘Not the Whittakers‘ challenge I was participating in. Historically speaking the Whittakers have provided me with the incentive and momentum to write some great short story first drafts but this year I’m not really feeling it and am seriously time-challenged. Still, I should be kept plenty busy and challenged even in their absence 😉
Between NaNoWriMo, NovPad 2013, reading for Fae, promoting Metastasis, readying the December issue of Niteblade and just, ya know, having a life, I think I’ll be kept pretty busy, but not quite as crazy as last month.