This Sunday’s prompt is a first line: “When the dust settled, a man stood there, clothed in white.”
I used the prompt right there (supplied by Beth Cato to NaNoLJers) to write a poem entitled Hereditary Delusions which was published today at Every Day Poets. As you’ll see when you read it, I didn’t use that exact line and I didn’t use it to start the poem but it inspired it nevertheless. Sometimes when I post story prompts and such at NaNoLJers people email me and say ‘Can I just change this–‘ Dude, they are just story prompts. They aren’t meant to feel restrictive, exactly the opposite, in fact. I think it’s important to know that it’s okay to bend the rules sometimes*–especially when it comes to finding inspiration.
…anyway, I’ve totally gotten off the point of this post which was that Hereditary Delusions is up and available online for you to read for free, so please take a peek and let me know what you think 🙂
*Those times never include when it comes to following submission guidelines though LOL
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.
My poem Hereditary Delusions, which I wrote after being inspired by a NaNoLJers prompt from Beth Cato, has been accepted for publication by Every Day Poets. I will definitely update again once I know its publication date and one of the great things about EDP is that you can always read it for free.
One of the most amazing things about this poem’s acceptance is the timeline, I have to say. I submitted it yesterday and received a response today. EDP is always a quick responder, but that is pretty amaze-tastic. I must now submit something else there to find out of this is a new trend or an aberration. I’ll let you know 😉
ETA: I don’t actually have a poem appropriate to submit to EDP today. I’ll have to write something. So I’ll get back to you about the response rate thing whenever that happens. Regardless of how that turns out — I’m a happy camper today 🙂
Each year I like to set myself some concrete goals and share them publicly on my blog. Not only does this give me some sort of vision of what I want to accomplish over the year, it adds a feeling of accountability to help keep me motivated and on track. My goals for 2013 are:
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.
Begin another course (or two) toward my degree no later than April 1st and complete it/them successfully.
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
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
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
Phew! I’m kinda exhausted even just looking at that list, exhausted and excited. I’ve set up some real challenges for myself, but if I manage to pull them off imagine how fantastic a year that will be!
*I know I’ve already accomplished this goal, but I hadn’t when I started mentally composing this list and since I achieved this goal in 2013 I’m still putting it on the list. This is not me putting things on here just so I can cross them off.
It’s that time of year again, when I look back at the goals I set the year before and create new ones for the year to come. These are not resolutions, I was sorely tempted to begin and end my yearly goals in the middle of summer just to get away from the R word, but it turns out that my desire to be lazy outweighs my desire to be contrary 😉 So here we go, how did I do on reaching my 2012 goals?
For 2012 I wanted to address not just writing, but also editing and schoolwork so I broke my goals up into four categories: Health (because that affects every part of my life), School, Writing and Editing. My specific goals for 2012 were:
Continue to eat healthy. In my case that is a low-sodium pescatarian diet.
I’m going to call this one successful (hence the bolding ;)) though there is definitely room for debate. I eat when I’m emotional and it’s been an emotional freaking year, but overall, I’m pleased with how I’ve done, not least of all because this year I was able to recognize when I was eating for reasons other than hunger. It’s a small step, but at least it’s in the right direction.
No drinking energy drinks
Um, I did pretty well with this at first, and I’m not drinking them now, but there was a period when my sister and niece were staying with us and also when my mom died that I used energy drinks as a crutch to get through the day without napping. Understandable, I think, but it means I didn’t reach this goal.
Remember soft drinks are a ‘sometimes food’ (Thanks Cookie Monster)
Erm… yeah. I started out strong on this one but as I write this blog there is a Diet Dr. Pepper sitting within reach on my desk so… yeah. Goal not accomplished.
Workout at least five times a week
This I was good at for most of the year. I was working out six days a week and was making Danica do it with me. We did some 30 Day Shred stuff, Couch to 5k (before I screwed up my ankle. Again) and were only a couple weeks away from completing the P90x Lean program when my Mom died. It sounds like an excuse, but when she died my world sort of tipped upside down and I am still struggling to get back into the workout habit. It will definitely be on the goal list for 2013. I’m calling this goal accomplished though because I did very well.
Not even close. This has been SUPER frustrating for me because I felt like I was working really hard and the scale just wasn’t moving the way it was meant to. (I say that in the past tense because I sort of fell off the ‘working hard’ wagon in November and December.)
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
I didn’t do any courses toward my degree in 2012. I intend to change that up for 2013.
Write the first draft of Consequence
Didn’t happen. I don’t have a great excuse as to why it didn’t happen, I just got distracted.
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.
Thank gawd for W1S1. Without it my writing productivity would have been even lower than it already was. I was successful in doing the monthly version of W1S1 and I look forward to doing a modified weekly version in 2013.
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
Done and done. Shadows has been shelved for the time being. I keep having ideas on how I can improve it and feeling the temptation to pull it out and revise it again but so far I’ve resisted. I think I need to move on for now. I’ll come back to Shadows someday, but not anytime soon. As for the zombie poetry, I’ve also figured out what I’m going to do with it… I just haven’t actually got it done yet. I will definitely be including that in my goals for 2013. The zombie poetry project is stalled temporarily while I wait on something I need from someone else, but soon… soon…
Either finish a first draft of Hollow Children or a transcription of Twixt
Hmm… I don’t know whether or to call this accomplished or not. Technically I didn’t do either of those things so I guess it’s not accomplished, however… instead of transcribing Twixt (I wrote the first draft long hand and so needed to type it up) I started doing the How to Revise Your Novel course using it as the project I was working on. What I discovered in the process of taking that course and doing the exercises was that Twixt, as it was written, was fatally flawed so I didn’t transcribe it. I didn’t begin working on a new draft either because it wasn’t until the end of November that I figured out what exactly I’d done wrong and how to fix it. Interestingly enough, that is also true of Hollow Children. I was hopelessly stalled on it until the end of November when I had an epiphany and figured out how to fix it. So there’s that…
Revise the whack of ‘mostly finished’ short stories sitting in my Dropbox and start looking for homes for them
I did manage to do this… and then I participated in the Whittaker Prize (see below) and added a bunch more ‘mostly finished’ short stories to my Dropbox to work on. Wheee!
NaNoWriMo is optional. So is NovPad.
I participated in NaNoWriMo and was successful despite restarting several times and switching projects three times. I attempted NovPad but was far less successful. The good thing about NovPad, as my friend Beth pointed out to me is that the prompts are always there. So I’ll keep working through them. Just like I did last year (see below). Ya know, it seems I’m not really very good at this NovPad thing LoL
Participate in the Whittaker Prize again this year, but in only one category, not both.
I participated in the short story section of the Whittaker Prize this year and ended up placing 10th overall with a final score, after six rounds, of 453. I… don’t know how that compares to how I’ve done in previous years but I feel really good about the work I produced for the Whittakers this year. In fact, one of my stories even tied for first on one of the rounds O_o That had never happened before LOL
Finish writing poems for all the 2011 Novpad prompts
Done. One of these years I may actually finish writing poems for all the NovPad prompts in November. One day…
Implement the new payment system for Niteblade
Done. And best of all, it seems to be working. I haven’t finished all the totals for Niteblade’s sales for 2012 but I strongly suspect that when I do we’ll find that we had our best year yet. Yay!
Run a fundraiser and increase promotion in order to move out of the red
Done. We raised $108.78 to help pay our writers and artist.
Super Sekkrit Projekt w CJD (not Niteblade-related)
I’ve done what I can on this project and it’s now in other people’s hands. I’ve got my fingers crossed that something will come of it, but right now I have to wait and see.
Also? I blogged every week. Whoot!
You know, looking back, I’m actually super impressed with myself. I didn’t accomplish everything I set out to do, but overall I did pretty damn good. Even without factoring in all the challenges I had to overcome (because really, though this year feels like it was exceptionally bad for that, every year comes with its own set of obstacles, right?). Maybe I’m getting better at this whole goal setting thing LOL
In addition to the goals I set for myself, 2012 had a few other highlights for me as well. A few, just off the top of my head are:
Writing my first story with Jo and having it be a whopping success. That story, Sea and Sky, will be included in the Masked Mosaic anthology which is coming out in February.
For the most part I have a fantastic life. I’m relatively healthy, I have friends and family who love me (and who I love), I’m able to spend my days doing what I love (writing and editing) and, ya know, overall things are pretty good. They aren’t perfect, of course, but they are pretty good. But it always seems like just when I’d really like a nice, quiet period in my life the most something happens to make sure I don’t get it.
My mom dying last month was… traumatic, to say the least. It was pretty sudden — she was doing well, and then suddenly she very much wasn’t. I’ve been working to come to terms with her loss and with all the circumstances around it, and I’ve been doing pretty well. I was down, of course, but grief is a funny thing — it comes at you in waves. I was able to get things done, still, to lead a more or less “normal” life. I kept busy, which helped, and thought “Hey, you know what would be a great idea? I’ll do NaNoWriMo and NovPad and get the December issue of Niteblade ready. No problem.”
Then life stepped up and said “Nu-uh. No you don’t.”
We have three cats. They are all awesome and all very different from one another. Indiana, Eowyn and Absinthe. Indiana is the cuddly one, Eowyn is the proud/bitchy one and Absinthe is the shit-disturber. On Friday we had to rush Indiana (you can see him in these pictures) to the animal hospital because he had an obstruction in his urethra. He was diagnosed with FLUTD (Feline lower urinary tract disease), admitted and catheterized under sedation. Before they performed the procedure they asked if we wanted to visit him to say goodbye. I couldn’t. Just the idea of visiting someone I loved in a hospital again after my Mom… I just couldn’t do it.
On Saturday, the hospital called to say there had been a complication in removing the catheter and Indy was going to require surgery to get it out. We consented to that. Very late on Sunday night he was released and we brought him home. When we went to pick him up at the animal hospital they brought him out in his (huge) cat carrier. I knelt down to see him and stuck my fingers through the bars. He rushed over from the back of the carrier and tried to bonk me through the bars, and when that didn’t work he just rubbed against my fingers as best he could with his cone of shame on. It made me cry. Jo and the receptionist pretended not to notice, because they are awesome.
Now he’s home, but the stress doesn’t stop. There’s money stress because stays in the animal hospital and emergency surgery are not cheap. We’re lucky in that we were able to pay for this without too much hardship, but if it becomes a recurring thing that may not remain true. What’s more, the urinary tract obstruction he had does tend to be a recurring thing, and if it happens and it’s not caught in time, it will kill him. Straight up. So we have to watch and make sure he’s not straining to pee or showing any of the other signs of obstruction.
But wait, there’s more! He has three medications to take; pain killers, antibiotics and antispasmodics. Happily Jo is all over keeping track of and dispensing that as it would break my brain. Seriously.
Indy also has a cone of shame on, and he can’t quite figure out how to eat or drink normally with it, so we are essentially hand-feeding him (or had been. We’ve recently decided to take the cone off when we are able to supervise him to make sure he’s not licking his incision, and hopefully he’ll feed himself). He’s not eating as much as we’d like (I think partly because of the cone and partly because he doesn’t like his new, expensive, prescription food). But he seems to be in good spirits and has lots of energy (in between painkiller doses, anyway), so I’m tentatively optimistic.
This is more than a little stressful on our other animals too. The other cats have to switch over to the same diet as Indy and they aren’t fans. Neither of them is eating as much as they should be. We can’t really feed them prescription kibble (which I think will help as they will be able to eat when they want, not just at mealtimes) at least until Indiana is out of his cone of shame (middle of next week) and able to drink enough water to make dry food a viable option for him. Even Tre’s (our dog) eating has to be altered because we can’t let him have hard food sitting in his bowl because Indy will steal it, eat it and obstruct again.
I freaking suck at ‘wait and see’ and this is one big-ass case of ‘wait and see’.
I’m not handling it very well. I’m the sort of stressed/depressed right now where all I want to do is sleep. That really isn’t good for NaNoWriMo, November Poem-a-Day, Niteblade, or, ya know, life.
I’m doing the best I can though, and I’m still writing. Not as much as I should be, and I’ve switched NaNo novels again to something that requires a little less thought than Hollow Children, but I’m writing. If Jay Lake can write through all the crap he’s been dealing with over the past five years, and all my friends on Team Thalia can write through the curve balls and hardships life throws their way, then I can write through this.
And besides, when I’m writing, when I’m actually in the middle of the action, then all this just goes away for a little bit. It’s only for a few minutes at a time, but I’ll take it. Oh yes, yes I will.
ETA: I spent the afternoon working on catching up on my NaNo project and I’m currently only about 2,500 words behind. Yay!
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:
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 🙂
The first annual NaNoLJers anthology is done, and doesn’t it look pretty?
NaNoLJers is a livejournal community run by Amber Stults (as of December 2011) which I founded in 2005.I created it selfishly, so that I’d have a group of people I would feel accountable to in regard to my NaNoWriMo novel. On the unselfish side of my motivations, you have the fact I truly wanted to help other people achieve their NaNoWriMo goals too.
Since 2005 NaNoLJers has grown into a community of about 1,000 people but it’s really quiet. Like, really, really quiet, except in May, October and November. That’s because in May we run a writing challenge called Writo De Mayo. November is obviously all about NaNoWriMo and October is about pre-NaNo excitement LOL Still, there are writing prompts, exercises and the like posted on a regular basis (some of them by yours truly) and a great bunch of people are members. If you poke them just right they sometimes even come out to chat outside of the busy periods. Sometimes…
Anyway, before I stepped down as the community leader I started what I hope will become a NaNoLJers tradition — the annual anthology.
Putting together the guidelines was a little tricky and required a lot of tinkering. The thing about NaNoLJers (gawd, could I say that word anymore? LOL) is that we’ve got members at every stage of their writing careers. Some are professional writers and some are just starting out. I wanted to find a way to showcase everyone’s work no matter where they fit on the spectrum. I think we managed it here. Members of the community didn’t submit work for consideration, they submitted it for publication. That way there was no judgement. Less fear. Make no mistake, putting your work ‘out there’ for people to read for the first time (especially) is terrifying. I wanted to minimize that.
I decided to call this anthology Winding Path for three reasons:
The title fit with the cover image that we, as a writing community, had chosen to use as the cover.
One of the pieces sent in for inclusion was titled Winding Path
This anthology took a very winding path toward completion. First there was the endless tweaking of the guidelines for ‘submission’ and then deadlines kept getting pushed back, and finally I had some personal issues with focus and getting things done that pushed back it’s completion even further.
It’s done now, and looks pretty spiffy, even if I do say so myself. It was the first time I’d ever done the entire layout for a .pdf myself (Jo does that stuff for Niteblade) and I learned a crapload of things in the process. That should hopefully make things go smoother next time I do a layout. I tried to do the cover design but then the following conversation took place:
Me: *grumble, swear, grumble*
Jo: You okay?
Me: No. I’m not a graphics person. I don’t do graphics, I do words!
Jo: I do graphics. For a living, even. *gently takes my laptop away*
I think he did a gorgeous job, far better than I could have.
So, if you’re curious you can download a copy of the NaNoLJers Anthology (completely free) at our community page:
It contains stories by Clare Revell, Amber Stults, Debbie Gorsuch, Emi Bullard, Reb Kreyling, Jade Brooke and yours truly. I’m hoping that next year we’ll have even greater interest and a bigger collection to show for it at the end. If you think you’d like to be a part of that, just join the community and keep an eye open for the guidelines I’ll be putting up sometime around June. Or just read the anthology. It’s all good.
Mmk, I screwed up. I put off doing this blog entry for too long and now my kiddo is home and I’m trying to focus enough to write it. That is not an easy task. She loves singing random songs and making odd noises. These things are very distracting to me and make focusing on anything difficult. So, note to self, in the future write your blog entries before Danica gets home from school.
If I seem more disjointed than usual, that’s why.
That’s right. I’m totally blaming my teenager.
That’s okay, right?
Oh hey! She just went downstairs and took my excuse with her. Which means I probably ought to delete everything I’ve written above this, but I’m not going to. Because I don’t wanna. 🙂
Shadows is done.
That’s exciting, but less than I’d like. You see, Shadows finished at about 41k words. That lands it pretty squarely in the ‘Incredibly awkward length that is a nightmare to sell’ category. Also, I’m rather pissed, to be honest. This draft was supposed to be longer than my last one, so how did it end up shorter? Gah. The story is stronger, the characters have more depth and overall I feel good about it, but that word count… ugh.
I’m trying to figure out what to do with it now. My original plan had been to start looking for an agent to represent it, but the length makes that a problem. The way I see it my options sort of look like this: Continue reading Focus. I needs it. Also, Shadows.→
I moderate a livejournal community called NaNoLJers. NaNoLJers began as a NaNoWriMo community but has grown to be active year round with writing prompts, exercises and challenges and our own month-long writing challenge Writo de Mayo in May. The community has gotten big. Right now we have 1432 members, with 948 of those members actually watching the community. That number tends to balloon in October and November, then settle back down to around what it is now shortly after.
That’s a lot of people. Many of them don’t post, but hopefully they draw inspiration from the group, just the same.
When NaNoLJers started there were only a handful of us and we were able to get to know one another and cheer each other on toward the finish line for NaNoWriMo. As we’ve grown that has become more and more difficult as names begin to blur into one another when you haven’t the time to get to know the personalities behind them. So last year I created teams on the community. The teams were optional, but the idea behind them was that with the community broken up into smaller chunks people would actually have a chance to get to know one another and that sense of being a part of a community, rather than a face in the crowd, would be preserved. In addition, the teams were competing against one another, and that sense of friendly competition seemed to help spur people on as well.
The teams last year were a rather impromptu thing and so I didn’t have much time to organise team-based events or prizes. We pulled some off, but it wasn’t nearly as organised as I’d like. We are going to have teams again this year (I’m also hoping to do something special for people who aren’t in the teams) and I’d like for it to be better organised than last year.
One thing I’m looking for is sponsors.
Last year we had a few fantastic sponsors who donated everything from books, to additional user pics or paid time on LJ. I’m looking for more people like that 🙂
If you would like to donate something to be used as prizes in some of the mini-competitions or part of the over-all prize package that the winning team will receive, please email me at email@example.com . Some of the competitions and prizes we had last year are listed here –> Partial List of Challenges and prizes There were also word wars and that sort of thing going on throughout the month.
What do you get if you sponsor the event? Well…gratitude. That would be the biggest thing, really. I will also link to you (or your chosen website) from the NaNoLJers page as well as the mirrored blog at http://www.poiseandpen.com . I will be sharing a list of sponsors here as well (http://www.rhondaparrish.com plus my LJ) and I promise to rave about you on the NaNoLJers community as much as I can. Truly.
I wish I could offer more, but the group will appreciate it (I promise).
If you are willing to donate anything email me, please. You can specify a challenge you want the prize to be used for, or let me put it where it’s most needed. It’s up to you.
If you can’t sponsor NaNoLJers events, for whatever reason, I still love you 🙂