Looking Ahead -- My goals for 2016

Goals for 2016

Looking Ahead -- My goals for 2016Each year I set goals for the year to come and share them on my blog here. At the end of each year I assess how well I did in accomplishing my goals and set new ones. It’s an important thing for me, this setting and sharing of goals. Setting them and having them written down in concrete language really helps me regain my focus when I lose it (which is often), evaluate progress, get things done and also, look back over time and see a bigger picture of things I’ve accomplished. Sharing them on my blog here with you is equally important because it provides a sense of accountability which can be a huge motivation at times when I need it most.

Over the past couple years my goal lists have grown and grown becoming quite long and complicated. So, too, has my career when you count in the things I don’t talk about here (such as freelance work and ghostwriting). It was kind of beginning to feel overwhelming, which is pretty much the exact opposite of what I’m going for so I think it’s time to simplify a wee bit. Thus…

My Goals for 2016

  • Speed up my blog/website
  • Write the Haunted Hospitals book with Mark Leslie.
    • I’ve begun working on this in February. My goal is to have the first draft of my contribution done by the end of April. I’ve never written anything like this before though, so I’m unsure how reasonable this goal is.
  • Announce D is for… anthology and prepare it for an early 2017 release
  • Release C is for Chimera on April 19th
    • Promote it sufficiently to break the sales numbers for A is for Apocalypse (based on the first three months after release)
  • Release Sirens (July?)
    • Promote it sufficiently to break the earn out its advance within the first year. Bonus points if it’s in the first six months.
  • Attend the ‘Despite Excuses’ writing retreat in California this July
  • Take August off. With the exception of attending When Words Collide… which is work but also isn’t :-p
  • Write the first draft of Deadmonton (My Winterknight Towers book), beginning in November and using NaNoWriMo as a springboard to get started
  • Hire an editor for Shadows and prep it for release
  • Host a December blog tour to celebrate the holidays and benefit the food bank.

I’ve also got several projects that are pending or in limbo right now including a brand new anthology series (Keep your fingers crossed for this one, especially!), three stand-alone anthologies I’d be co-editing (with three different people) and two collaborative poetry projects. I’ve deliberately built some empty spaces into my project calendar for the year to address these projects. Also, you just never know when I’m going to be distracted by something shiny and need to take a little detour for a while 😉

All rights reserved by Rhonda Parrish

2015 Goals

All rights reserved by Rhonda Parrish

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).

Health

  • Weigh less at the end of the year than I do at the start
  • Run 5k
  • 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
  • Publish B is for Broken and market it to the best of my ability
  • When Shadows is published market it to the best of my ability
  • Have the manuscript for C is for… polished and ready for publication
  • Have the manuscript for D is for… polished and ready for publication
  • Come up with a way to set actual concrete goals for promotion.
  • Make progress on sekkrit collab with CJD
  • Open to submissions for Sirens

Writing

  • 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)

Reading

  • Read at least 50 books
    • Slush doesn’t count, nor do books by friends I read to critique.
    • Have at least 20% be non-fiction

Misc

  • Create a website at poiseandpen.com
  • Attend When Words Collide and Pure Spec
  • Blog at least once a week
  • When someone visits this blog and leaves a comment — reciprocate.

Kobo

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.

2014 Goals. How’d I Do?

So this is it. The time of year where I look back at the goals I set for 2014 and find out how well I did at reaching them. What’s usually most interesting about this time for me is seeing how my priorities have shifted over the course of the year, the number of things which were really important to me at the beginning of 2014 which I was happy to back burner (which is totally a verb) but the end.

Also, I have a rule. I may explain failures, but not excuse them. Who wants to read a whole blog post of self-justifications and excuses? Not me LoL

So. 2014 goals. How’d I do?

bold = success

tl;dr — Overall, it was a pretty freaking awesome year 🙂

~*~

Health

  • No drinking pop. Period.
  • Lose 20 lbs
  • Lower blood pressure (bonus points if I get to reduce my medication)
  • Run 5k

Didn’t do so awesomely here. Or well at all, really. I’m still drinking a lot of pop (diet pop, for better or for worse) and my weight has remained steady. Much, much too high, Diet Dr Pepperbut steady. I *was* making (very slow) progress on that 5k run thing before plantar fasciitis reared its ugly head but once it did I was less than enthusiastic about actively stretching to relieve it or exercising in a way which didn’t aggravate it so… pretty sure that counts as an excuse, not an explanation. The only thing I did manage here was to lower my blood pressure. Alas, I did not get to reduce my medication in the process so no bonus points for me. *pout*

~*~

School

  • 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.

I didn’t find the time to finish even one course toward this degree. In fact as of last month I became inactive in my program, which is kinda crappy but I felt like my writing and editing took off to such an extent that it would be a bad choice for me to prioritize school over them at this point in time. So what I’m saying is, I’m okay with having failed to meet this goal. I think it was the right decision.

~*~

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Editing / Publishing

  • Complete Fae and promote the hell out of it.
  • Pursue other anthology ideas
    • I am really, really, really enjoying editing anthologies right now and I’d like to have at least one more under contract with a publisher by the end of 2014.
  • Increase promotion efforts for Metastasis
    • I need to come up with a way to set actual concrete goals for promotion. Not only for Fae and Metastasis, but everything I edit and/or publish. Oh hey!
  • Figure out a way to set concrete goals for promotion. Set concrete goals for promotion.
  • Hold a successful fundraiser for Niteblade
  • Produce a NaNoLJers anthology if interest exists
  • Publish and promote A is for Apocalypse
  • Solicit writers for B is for (haha not telling yet!) and begin that process
  • Continue to edit and publish Niteblade, keeping it something I can be very proud of.
  • Complete the edits on Grammy’s book

Wow. What a year it’s been under Editing / Publishing. Going to tackle all these one at a time…

This is the audience for the launch of Fae at WWC

Audience at Fae Launch at WWC

First, I did finish FAE and I promoted it to the best of my ability. That included getting over my anxiety about holding a physical launch party, and making sure I always had copies of the book on hand at every convention I went to (and I went to three) to sell. Some of these efforts were successful (the party at When Words Collide, for example) and some, like the postcards with discount codes I printed up for World Fantasy were abject failures. Live and learn, right?

I was also successful in pursuing other anthology ideas. My goal had been to have at least one more under contract with a publisher by the end of the year, but I smashed that to bits. I have two anthologies with signed contracts which I’m even now finalizing the tables of contents for and which will be published this year. They are SCARECROW and CORVIDAE. I also have a verbal agreement to begin reading submissions for a fourth anthology for World Weaver Press (tentatively entitled SIRENS: Sea and Sky) this year and publishing it next year.

I did not find any awesome ways to increase promotion efforts for METASTASIS, but even so it earned out all its production costs and began sending small (but emotionally meaningful) donations to support cancer research.

C.S. MacCath reading from her A is for Apocalypse story at WFC 2014

C.S. MacCath reading her A is for Apocalypse story at WFC 2014

I also didn’t come up with a way to set concrete goals for promotion, but I did get far better at tracking the results of promotions, so I’m going to call that a step in the right direction.

We held another successful fundraiser for Niteblade in 2014, raising $510 and (even better for my ego) collecting a whole lot of really nice things Niteblade authors had to say about it.

I didn’t produce a NaNoLJers anthology last year, but that is because there wasn’t much in the way of interest.

A IS FOR APOCALYPSE is awesome. I did, in fact, publish it and promoted it as well as I could. I think in some ways it suffered for being launched so close to FAE but despite that sales exceeded my expectations and it has been very well-received including having stories from it on people’s top five lists, end of the year reading recommendations and getting a handful of nice reviews here, there and everywhere.

Not only did I solicit writers for B IS FOR BROKEN I’m nearly finished editing those stories and I’ve settled on the themes for the next two alphabet anthologies and let the authors know about them so they can decide to sign up, or not, in a leisurely fashion.

Niteblade had a fantastic year with me at the helm and though I’m partly saddened that 2015 will be its last year, mostly it feels like the right thing to do. End on a high note and go out in style 🙂

I completed the edits on Grammy’s book. Added the whole new section she wanted appended to the back, got it formatted, published and shipped to her in time for her to give out copies at Christmas. So, basically, I rocked it 🙂

~*~

Writing

2014 is the year of the novel. It is because I say it is, damn it!

  • Complete the novel currently known as ‘Hollow’
    • By ‘complete’ I mean have that sucker ready to start querying agents about
  • Complete the first draft of at least two other novels
    • One of these may be one of my pen name projects
  • Self-publish the zombie poetry book and complete my other plans for it
  • Write 350 words a day, five days a week. So 1,750 words a week.
    • Yes. A week. It’s not huge, but I’ve got a lot of other stuff on this list, damn it! :-p
  • Bundle up and self-publish more of my reprints
  • Complete sekkrit collaborative project
  • Participate in NovPAD and/or April PAD
  • Anything with the word ‘NaNo’ in the title is optional
    • …except NaNoLJers. Set up prompts for odd-numbered MondaysMythic_Delirium_paperback_cover-1024x760

Well, despite my intentions 2014 turned into the year of the anthology, not the novel. Hollow is done. Mostly. I had to do a whole extra draft I hadn’t counted on, but now it only needs a final spit polish and it will be ready to start querying. It’s finding the time to do that polish that is turning into a tricky thing.

I also sold my Aphanasian novel, SHADOWS, to World Weaver Press. That required a lot of re-writing and I anticipate at least one, possibly two more passes before it’s ready for release. It’s scheduled to be released some time this year though, so we’ll have to wait and see when that comes to pass 🙂

I did self-publish my zombie poetry book, and a collection of funny zombie reprints. I didn’t find time to ‘complete my other plans’ for the zombie poetry book, but who knows, perhaps a miracle will happen and I’ll find a way to do that this year LOL Could happen…

Still not finished my sekkrit collaborative project with Marge Simon, but working on it. Still working on it. Kind of like the tortoise in that story…

I participated in NovPAD and April PAD. I was not super successful at either but… I got a few poems out of them. I also participated in NaNoWriMo, however in recognition of how busy I was I re-named it MicroWriMo and aimed for 10k words. I wrote just under 8k. Meh.

Also, I had prompts set up and scheduled for odd-number Mondays for NaNoLJers and then I did something very stupid and deleted them all. So, that was a big fail right there.

~*~

Reading

  • Read at least 50 books.
    • Have 25% be non-fiction

Ocean At The End Of The LaneAccording to Goodreads I read 63 books (I really ought to keep track of how many stories I read in slush LOL) 11 of which were non-fiction. So, I surpassed the main goal but fell short on the mini one. Of those books my favourites, in no particular order, were:

~*~

Misc

  • Create a publishing website (company name, etc. but only to publish my own projects.)
  • Participate in A Month of Letters
  • Do the Blogging from A to Z Challenge
  • Blog at least once a week
  • Shoot at least one roll of analog film per month
  • Finish the ship cross stitch I started *mumble* years ago
  • Complete the top of the quilt I’m doing in memory of my mother and post it on JoFigure
  • Attend at least two writing conventions

Photo stolen from Billie Milholland --> https://www.facebook.com/billie.milhollandSo… the good news about all the things I missed on this list is that they are all still on my radar, and aside from A Month of Letters I can do them anytime. I’m surprised I missed A Month of Letters this year, so surprised I had to go and check my blog archives to make sure I really had. Weird. I do write snail mail sporadically over the course of the year anyway but historically I’ve really gotten a lot out of A Month of Letters so I’ll have to work pretty hard at re-adding that next year.

Also, I went to three conventions. When Words Collide is my new all-time favourite convention ever. Plus I also attended my second World Fantasy and went to Pure Spec here in Edmonton. The highlight of Pure Spec, for me, was the Character Death Matches (I participated and got my butt kicked. Fun!)

~*~

And there you have it. My year in review or, more specifically, a look at the goals I set last year with an eye to seeing how successful I was.

On paper I wasn’t super successful, but as I mentioned at the start of this (very long) entry, it’s always interesting to see how my priorities shift and change over the year. While my health-based priorities remain the same and I really need to devote more time, energy and effort to them I’m perfectly good with the progress I made on my other goals. Writing a lot of novels got pushed back a bit in favour of editing a lot of anthologies, for example. I’m good with that, and very proud of the results.

I know a great number of my friends struggled through 2014 in ways that meant getting dressed each morning was a victory, but overall, 2014 was a very good year for me. How did it treat you? Did you accomplish most of the things you set out to do? Are you happy with what you managed?

I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to see what 2015 has to offer. I’ll be making a new set of goals for myself and sharing them here in the near future. If you do the same please let me know, I like seeing the goals other people set for themselves, sometimes they help inspire mine 🙂

Long Journey of a Girl by Darek Zabrocki

Sale: Shadows

Long Journey of a Girl by Darek ZabrockiAbout couple years ago I made the very difficult decision to shelve my novel, Shadows. Not because I didn’t love it (I did) but because while it still needed work I was far too close to it to be able to see exactly what direction that would should take, and how to fix it. Then, not so long ago, I dusted it off a little in my “spare” time and tweeked it a bit. After two years away from it I was much more able to see what needed to be changed. So I made the changes, got it as good as I could on my own and then submitted it to World Weaver Press.

They liked it!

In fact, they bought it 🙂

I’m super stoked. My novel, Shadows*, has been accepted for publication by World Weaver Press in 2015!

 

I’ve got my editorial letter for it, and the manuscript is due in November so between editing Shadows, transcribing Hollow, promoting Fae & A is for Apocalypse and reading for Corvidae and Scarecrow I am going to be freaking busy for the next few months, but I can’t even begin to tell you how happy I am about it. It’s a good kind of swamped. The best kind of stressed.

Also, did I mention I’ve already received my editorial letter? It’s my very first one ever, which makes me a little giddy and the suggestions are dead on. Just reading it got me totally excited about working on Shadows again and making it even more amazing than it already is 🙂

For those of you who are familiar with my Aphanasian stories, you’ll be pleased to hear this book includes all your favourites (Colby, Xavier, Shadow, Bayne & Teyat). Michael (from Sister Margaret) is back, and there are some characters who may become new favourites as well. You’re going to love it. But you don’t get to read it until sometime in 2015. In the meantime, just be very happy for me… and forgive me if I’m even slower than usual at replying to emails. It’s gonna be crazy around here for a bit LoL

🙂

*We’re looking at changing the title to better reflect the changes in the story. I’ll keep you updated 😉

**The art for this post is ‘Long Journey of a Girl’ by Darek Zabrocki. I commissioned it to use for the cover of Lost and Found. Once he was done Darek put up a tutorial on how he created it, which you can see here if you’re curious to see how the artwork was developed 🙂

Looking Back at 2012

Rearview -- Photo by Rhonda ParrishIt’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:

Health:

  • 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.

  • Lose 40lbs

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.

Writing:

  • 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…

Editing:

  • 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:

I am seriously looking forward to seeing what 2013 has to offer 🙂

ETA: Edited to reflect the fact I’ve only read the first book in The Song of Ice and Fire series.

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 🙂

 

Abbadon’s Curse

This post is about video games. I was originally going to write about the video games I play these days, but then I had a better idea. Let me tell you about a fantastic video game that was never made.

Abbadon’s Curse.

Abbadon’s Curse is a game I wanted to create over ten years ago. I looked over the main game description document that I gave to the developers and it looks like it was created in early 2002 and I’d been working on stuff for the game long before I began that file.

Abbadon’s Curse was going to be fantastic. It was an MMORPG with all of the usual MMORPG-type things in it, but there were a lot of other cool things that I hadn’t seen done in games up until that point. Night and day, for example, with certain spells and abilities only being able to be used in one or the other. Capes which could be designed (like tabards are now in WoW) to have a unique look for each guild (or character). It was also going to be very story-centric, very lore-based.

The game was set in the world of Aphanasia. A place where, upon the death of her son in battle, she blessed that land so that any who died in battle would not remain dead but rise up once more to fight again. Unfortunately, despite the fact her intentions may have been good, in reality her blessing turned out to be more like a curse.  Dun dun dun.

Moonberrys were also very important in that world, as was the magical tree they came from. They were especially important to a race of lizard-men called the Urbagdú or the Reptar who used them in every part of their society. The wise men used the berries for medicines, the mages for magic and the warriors used shed boughs from the trees for weapons. Moonberries were even the closest thing the society had to a currency.

In developing the game and it’s storyline we focused a lot on the reptar because they were going to be our first set of adversaries (you know, after everyone was done leveling off rats, and moving on to wolves, and then…) and we needed to give them depth and story. We had several other races in mind we were going to use as spice in our first release and make more important in the future. The Reptar were found mostly in and around the swamp, but the mountains were home to a race of shadow elves, and pirates tended to prowl the coastlines. And of course, what kind of RPGMMO would be complete without vampires? We had them too… In fact, one of our important, named NPCs was a vampiric pirate 😉

In addition to our races and plots and maps and game design documents, we also had a series of gods for the denizens of Aphanasia to worship (the icons for each are along the bottom there). Abbadon, Calamyr, Rakkir (named after a character I used to RP with), Xaphan and the Dragon Gods.

Alas the game fell apart. I totally blame myself. I was the lead on the game, the story was mine, the bulk of the world development was mine, and it was my work that filled the game design documents, but I can’t program. Not even a little. I wasn’t able to provide strong leadership to the programming team and I think it was largely because of my ignorance in programming. I couldn’t set reasonable timelines or expectations and I didn’t know how to crack the whip.

I’m still very sad this game never got to become a reality, but I was determined not to allow the insane amounts of work I’d put into the world development for it to go to waste. That’s why, if you’ve read any of my Aphanasian stories, a lot of this stuff will sound familiar to you.

The moonberry tree got a bit of a makeover, and I set my stories in a time after Abbadon’s curse has ceased to exist (so far anyway LoL). I tweaked my races and my world to suit the world of fiction better than that of video games, but the skeleton of that world definitely comes from what I developed for a video game.

~ Shadows ~ Sister Margaret ~ Lost and Found ~ Shades of Green ~ There’s Always a Catch ~ The Legend of the First Reptar ~

All the above stories are set in Aphanasia, and most of them can be read for free, if you’re interested. It looks like the e-zine that published The Legend of the First Reptar is no longer in existence, but the other stories are all still available (except Shadows which I just finished LOL)

So, yeah. While I’m terribly sad that Abbadon’s Curse will never be a game you can download and play (barring a minor miracle anyway LoL) I’m pretty pleased with myself that I managed to continue to use the world I’d created for it, making it even more lush, detailed and populated than I had for the game.

~*~

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 V for Video Game. Tomorrow my husband Jo will be doing a guest blog. He won’t even tell me what it’s going to be about except that it has something to do with chickens. I hope you’ll stop by, it ought to be entertaining 🙂

Ugh…

Ugh rather succinctly sums up how I’m feeling today, and so it’s my U word.

I feel like I’m coming down with something so I’m going to try and take it easy today, but my to-do list is pretty big so we’ll see how successful I am.

So, what’s a girl to do on an Ugh day when she still has to blog? Wordle!

My daughter, Danica, first introduced me to Wordle when she was using it for a school project but Peggy Eddleman reminded me about it in her blog post this morning. Wordle makes spiffy word clouds out of whatever words or URL you tell it to check out. Today I went and dumped the entire text of Shadows in to see what the results would look like. Voila:

In addition to being a lot of fun, I can see several practical uses for Wordle. For example, if you do like I did and dump your novel into it you’ll be given a glance of what your saying the most, which may help you identify themes or problems. If your story is about vampires, for example, but the word unicorn is the biggest one in the cloud, you may have a problem 🙂

You can also plug an rss feed url in and see the keywords for a blog. I did it with my blog and was quite surprised by the results:

It turns out I’m not blogging about what I thought I was. This is something I’ll have to look at again when this month is over and my ability to think coherently has returned. In the meantime, pretty!

~*~

This blog post is part of the Blogging from A to Z challenge over the month of April and was brought to you by Peggy Eddleman and the letter U. Tomorrow I’ll be blogging about video games. Or, that’s the plan at least.

Focus. I needs it. Also, Shadows.

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

Dear Santa,

A friend of mine on LiveJournal posted the list of what she wanted Santa to bring for her as a blog entry last week. I thought it was a fabulous idea because it really gave me some insight into who she was. My list, below is being shared for the same reason. Please don’t think I’m actually asking anyone who is reading this (except you Jo :-p) to get me these things — I’m writing to Santa.

Dear Santa,

I’ve been, well, if not terribly good at least not terribly bad this year. So for Giftmas, I would really love:

  • A hot oil popcorn popper like the one we used to have when I was a kid. I can’t actually find that exact model anymore, I guess they don’t make them these days, but this one here is similar enough to satisfy my nostalgia and provide me with super duper yummy popcorn.
  • I would also really love to “become a chimpanzee’s best friend“. Please. Pretty please?
  • I’m all about the Sims 3 these days but I’m feeling a little limited with my options for ‘stuff’ at this point. I’d positively adore any of the expansions I don’t have yet, or even Sims Points so I can buy some of the ‘stuff’ collections they put on sale on the website.
  • Lastly, if you were feeling super generous, Santa. I could also really use some baseboards and riser thingers for my bathroom and kitchen. If we don’t finish them up soon they are just going to blend into the background and we’ll never get them done. I’ve got the paint for both and I’d really like a chance to use it.

Thank you Santa.

Love,

Rhonda

In more directly writing-related news, Shadows is still coming along well. I’ve had a few bumpy patches in regard to ordering some of my scenes, but I still feel very good about this draft. I’m at 22,692 words and still going strong. Since I started working on it this time I haven’t missed a workday and the consistency feels good. Very good.

I wish I could say I’ve been as consistent with my #novpad this year, but I’d be lying. I have 9 poems, I should have 18. But it’s okay. I plan to keep going through the prompts, one at a time, until I finish them all, even if it takes me until January. For me the point of #novpad is mostly to be writing, and I’m doing that, even if it’s not one poem a day. I’m still pleased with my productivity, so it’s all good.

A couple years ago my friend BD did a personal challenge where she wrote for at least 15 minutes everyday for a year. I’m thinking about doing something similar. I don’t usually write on weekends, so I’d let myself off the hook then, but maybe expecting myself to write every weekday would be good for habit-forming and productivity. You know, assuming it’s not just setting myself up for failure considering the cyclical way my productivity works. This will require further thought, but I’m considering it, and if I do attempt it I’ll need moral support so if anyone else wants in let me know.

And let me know if you have a public holiday gift list. I’d love to take a look.

Shadows Progress

This post is mostly going to be about Shadows, but I don’t have a Shadows-y picture to put up there, so I went with one of the images the amazing Darek Zabrocki sent me when he was working on the cover for Lost and Found. This image came pretty near the end of the process so, as you can see, it’s quite a bit like the end result — just with a fewer details. Still, one thing this version has that the end one doesn’t is that little bird in the tree. I love that bird. The cover works better without it, but I don’t mind telling you I was sad to see it go.

So, I’m working on Shadows. What will be the final draft until I have either an agent or an editor to help me apply the final layer of polish. It’s going very well. I started writing this draft longhand in February and finished it in June (I think). I did a workshop in early spring that meant I had to send stuff in for critique, so I broke my rule about letting my work rest a few months before revising for the first few chapters, but once the workshop was over, I shoved those critiques back into a drawer to mellow along with the rest of the draft. That was a good choice. Feedback I’d thought was frivolous or just plain wrong looks very sound and insightful once you give it a few months distance. Also, the story which I’d had personal issues with, is stronger than I’d remembered.

So, yay!

I’m revising as I transcribe from my notebooks onto my computers. It’s been interesting. I think years of NaNoWriMo combined with my natural inclination toward wordiness have taught me some bad habits — or maybe it’s just that the draft I’m transcribing was a fresh draft. A second first draft, as I like to call it, so I can expect some… badness. Still I laughed as I revised “…drew a smile on her lips.” to “She smiled”. Then I opened up a new Word document to track some of the best/worst examples of my wordy-ass (and just plain awkward) writing. Allow me to share 🙂

drew a smile on her lips –> she smiled
for having not been paying attention –> for not paying attention
The liquor seemed to have done more than loosen his tongue, it had given it wings -> The liquor hadn’t just loosened his tongue, it had given it wings. -> The liquor had given his tongue wings.
The smile that filled her face –> Colby’s smile
He paused, looking around him –> he paused, looking around
as he began to clear a spot –> he cleared a spot
I’m hoping the THING would be able to help make… –> I hope the THING will make…

There are several other examples already but I can’t share them without context or risk of spoilers. As much as some of these make me roll my eyes at myself a little bit, I’m actually really excited by my ability to notice them in my own work and revise them out. That feels like growth to me. Progress. And in this case, progress is good.

Right now I’m estimating that this book is going to finish up about 65k words. That’s a little shorter than I wanted, but it’s still a decent word count for a YA fantasy novel, and best of all, the plot is much stronger in this version than any of its predecessors.

I’m currently at 10,737 words transcribed and revised. Whoot!

As for NovPad… I’m um. Behind. A lot behind. My poem for day four turned into a short story. I’m hoping to make some progress toward catching up today, but I’d planned that yesterday too and it didn’t happen. Keep your fingers crossed for me.