2021 Goals

Hoooooo boy, here we go again. New year, new goals, though a lot of them are going to be veeery similar. Still, I find announcing them makes me more focused and less likely to abandon them. 

  1. Write 1 short story per month – Writing short fiction is not something that I do often, nor is it something that I’m good at. It is, however, a good way to improve your writing and a much quicker way to get samples of your writing critiqued, which is an invaluable thing for developing as a writer. As such, I want to try and write at least one piece of short fiction per month, be it as a random prompt or for specific submissions. 
  2. Get something beta ready – I don’t want to commit to a specific project this year as things happen and the way I feel at the start of the year certainly won’t be indicative of what I want to be working on later on. I want to commit to getting another draft beta ready, but this time around I’m not going to commit to a specific one. 
  3. Read new books – Another in the essential tasks for honing my writing skills. I’ve fallen into the bad habit of constantly rereading old favourites which, while safe and enjoyable, aren’t helping me broaden my skills. I’ve a set number of books I’ve never read before that I’d like to achieve before the end of the year.
  4. Keep Through the Black on submission – Fairly self explanatory. I don’t want to let myself get disheartened or lazy. This is something I need to keep on top of and plan to, no matter how harrowing it gets. 
  5. Keep up blog posts – I know if I don’t keep some accountability for this one is going to go straight out of the window. In 2020 I got more blog views than I have done any other year! Moving into 2021 I want to keep up that momentum and do more interesting posts about writing and resources (for example, my Trello post that got a lot more engagement than I’m used to!) and hopefully some more stories as well. 

Moving on to some non writing related ones:

  1. Draw 1 piece of art per month – This was a success last year and not only made me keep up with my practice and facilitated a real, visible improvement in my art but it gave me an awesome collage at the end, and I’m a sucker for a collage. It also gave me the confidence (lol kinda) to finally bring to the canvas some of my characters(!) which has been one of the main reasons I wanted to draw anyway. Bringing up those skills to give my favourites faces is definitely an end game goal and one I intend to keep working towards this year! 
  2. Weight goal – Yup, the usual one. It’s a lower priority one but one I want to deal with to keep on top of dysphoria and stuff. 
  3. Voice Therapy – Same as above, although this one has been SEVERELY neglected since I moved away from my local GIC. Time to get back on it properly. If I get the confidence to talk over Discord again while I’m gaming before the end of the year, I’ll consider this one a success. 

So there you have it, my goals for 2021! I’ve tried to keep it easier this year so no big, specific goal really, just little things I can chip away at throughout the year. I have a few manuscripts that are close to beta ready and one that isn’t but I’m completely obsessed with currently, so with any luck and a bit of work at least ONE of those will be ready by the end of the year. 

I’m anticipating a pretty rough start to 2021 thanks to the UK handling Coronavirus like a toddler handling Gran’s favourite porcelain and some essential staff at my place of work moving on to better pastures, but after last year I’m moving on with a new attitude. None of this new year “fresh start, clean slate, all gets better from here” nonsense. Going through 2020 was like going through the washing machine, and I’m fully expecting 2021 to be the spin cycle. I’m keeping my head down, eyes on what’s in front of me, and am just going to do what I can.

Happy New Year everyone!

2020 Goals – The Review

Many, many, many people are saying this about 2020 but I have to add my voice asking “what in the everliving fuck was that?!?” Whatever, let’s grab a big glass of vermouth and have a look at how I did on this year’s goals.

1.) Start doing blog posts again – For this one I managed to post 73% of the planned blog posts for the year (one every two weeks) which, in this year of 2020, I’m counting as a win. As Meatloaf would say, 19 outta 26 ain’t bad.

2.) Finish TE1 synopsis (by 28 Feb) and keep on submission – Success! Not only did I finish the full query packet but it’s been on submission ever since and the rejections are piling up! Yaay! I mean, every one of them is a gut punch but I’m treating this like my training montage right before the film KICKS OFF. That’s how you do it, right?

3.) Get Fishperer beta ready – I made a lot of progress on this at the start of the year and then in the second half it kinda went out of the window. Still, it’s a lot closer to being done than it was so that’s something I suppose. 

4.) Complete a Goodreads challenge – Yeah, this one never recovered. It’s not been a good year for reading new books at all. This year was far too much about the comfort zone. Oh well. There’s always next year?

5.) Do enough art to do the end of year meme – I DID IT! I made enough art and made the meme. Despite September to November being very phoned in, I’m still very proud of myself for it. The best thing about this goal is that I can look at my January art and my December art and actually see a difference. I’m hoping to make this one a tradition because I finally feel like I’m making some progress with my drawing skills and I don’t want to lose it again.

6.) Hit weight goal – Zero shits given about this one. It’s 2020. I’m just along for the ride. This one will probably be back next year as I want to achieve it for my dysphoria but if we’re up for 2020 2.0 then I’m not going to stress about it too much.

If we include the very shaky “win” for goal number one, that’s a 50% hit rate. Sod it, it’s 2020. I think I did good. Happy New Year everyone, let’s raise our glasses, cross our fingers, and enter the brace position because like it or not, here comes 2021!

The 2020 Halfway Post

It’s July, which means it is time to review how I’m doing on this year’s goals! As I’m certain most of you are also feeling, this has been a very odd year. This post feel about 9 months overdue and also about 3 months early at the same time. Seriously, 2020 really needs to get its act together. Anyway, on with the post!

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1.) Start doing blog posts again – This has gone well so far! Two posts were one day late but aside from that, we’ve been rocking and rolling. I’ve managed to keep this up through some pretty rough patches so hopefully the momentum sticks and we keep going for the second half of the year.

2.) Finish TE1 synopsis (by 28 Feb) and keep on submission – You may have guessed from my last post that the time lines were derailed on this one but good news prevails in the end. I hit the original deadline of 28th of February but then… Just didn’t send it out. Working with my therapist has been really helpful though, progress has happened and as of June 15th Through the Black has officially been on submission! I also have packets ready for the next couple of agents for when this one comes back. There’s a plan in place to keep up this momentum so there’s no stopping me now! 

3.) Get Fishperer beta ready – This is on track! Been working away at it and all of the comments have now been addressed. It’s scene by scene time now, then it’s onto the big print out and check, then bish bash bosh we’ve got a beta ready MS! Just need to keep at it. Handy that a certain Camp NaNo event just started, amirite? 

4.) Complete a Goodreads challenge – This is one that has started terribly but I’m hoping to pick up a little in the second half of the year. I don’t know with so much time wasted if I’ll hit the endgame goal but I’m determined to make a decent dent in it regardless.

5.) Do enough art to do the end of year meme – Some months have been better than others, and at least two have literally only had ONE piece of art, but that still fits the criteria so I’m counting that as a win. What I do count as a big win is that my folder for 2020 art now has more in it than any other year since… well, since before university. And we’ve still got six months to go! Let me tell you, that’s a great feeling and I can really see some improvements with my stuff. I missed art so much. It feels great to have it back in my life. 

6.) Hit weight goal – Not great progress on this one but with everything else that’s been going on in my life and the world in general, I’m not too surprised or worried about that. 

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Overall and considering the on goings both personally and not, I’m pretty pleased to have gotten to where I am. Some things are going slower than I would like but everything is moving forward. I hope you’re all out there smashing your 2020 goals, but if you aren’t I’m pretty sure there was never a better excuse.

Take care of yourselves and do what you can. Personal progress is nice but in the face of a global pandemic, looking after yourself and those close to you is the number one goal.

First Success of the Year

The synopsis is finished! The first thing ticked off the Goal Post! I even earned myself a box of doughnuts out of it thanks to a very kind and encouraging co-worker who promised me them if I hit the deadline. They were delicious.

Success has never been so yummy.

This marks another large step on my journey. This has been blocking me for a long time and honestly has taken far longer than it should have done but unfortunately the way life has been, I’ve just really struggled to prioritise it and work on it to the level it needed. That is behind me now though, and my life has been far more suited to actually pursuing my creativity again. I’ve gone from no capacity for it, to the parts that I enjoy, and now finally to the struggles and hard parts that just need to get done. I’m at the point now where I can dedicate the time and energy to really pushing for what I want. And that’s to keep pushing and move through the “writing” part of this journey and onto the “publishing” part. 

Unfortunately, this part comes with a lot of tense waiting, a lot of hurt and disappointment, and rejection. Then a whole lot of getting back up off the ground and going headfirst back into it again. Is this really what I want, I wonder? Yes, it is.

What are the next steps for me?

  1. Submissions! Eeeep! Time to start sending Through the Black off to agents and keep it on submission. I’m hoping to have a quick turn around from hearing back from one agent and getting it out to the next. This step is going to need thick skin and a lot of chocolate. I fully expect to spend a lot of it questioning myself and wondering why I’m bothering. I’ve worked hard for a long time to get to this point though, and I’m not going to let feeling bad make me give up now.
  2. Focusing on other projects! I mentioned at the start of the year that it was time to get The Fishperer beta ready, and now that this synopsis is out of the way I can actually get back to some of the fun parts of writing! Huzzah!
  3. Relaxing! I’ve been pushing pretty hard since the start of the year on several different things, so with the releases of Rune Factory 4 and Animal Crossing, you can expect to hear from me again in about 6 months.

I’m Back! With Updates!

So sorry about the complete lack of activity on here. Things have been a little hectic and difficult lately but now it’s time to get back on track. I’m going to be working hard on catching up on posts and getting back to regular service! So here’s a quick update from me.

1.) It’s that NaNoWriMo time of year again! I’m doing a rewrite again because I have too many open projects to start drafting a new one guilt free. I’m working on the Fishperer because it’s great fun and I’d love to be able to get it to a readable point somewhere in the near future. I’m currently a little behind but no where near as behind as I was a couple of days ago, so that’s something. I’ve never missed 50k on an official NaNoWriMo and I do NOT intend to start now.

2.) Writing has still been going strong, despite the lack of blog posts. Things have been a bit tough and it’s one of the things that’s been keeping me going.

3.) That said, very recently I came to a realisation about myself. For the past few years, I’ve been letting things other people say restrict some things that have been… let’s just say a massive part of myself since I was very young. With that realisation, I’ve decided to re-embrace that part of me. It feels as though I’ve reached the end of a four-year long identity crisis I didn’t know I was having. Not only is it hugely helping my mental health but I’m also hoping to channel it into certain side projects. Exciting times ahead.

4.) I’ve still been attending my writing classes and have been getting some really nice feedback on the assignment pieces and free writing exercises we’ve been given so I’m hoping to post a few of the ones I’m more happy with. That way posts will have some more flash fiction and not so much of me waffling. What’s not to love?

5.) Now finally, THE MOST EXCITING NEWS OF ALL! Which, unlike the majority of my exciting news, is actually pretty exciting for me. In the light of recent beta feedback and with a date set by my partner to stop me dithering for eternity, THROUGH THE BLACK will be QUERY READY by March 31st. That’s right. I have a deadline and I’m serious about hitting it. As of December 1st, things will be full steam ahead. I’m excited and terrified and I definitely need some more tea over here right now.

Books

Post Move Update

Things have been a bit quiet here of late! Apologies for that, life has been very much on the hectic side of things. My last few weeks of work were incredibly busy due to staffing issues and then I was moving home! We’re all settled into the new flat now though we’re still without internet, which is another reason why I’ve been very quiet both here and elsewhere. Things are still going to be pretty busy as I get settled in and find work in the area. Either way, I hope to be back to posting bimonthly consistently again.

As for updates on the creative side of things, here’s how things have been going.

I’m on the last chapter for this sweep of The Fairy Godfather, which is slowly turning into an actual story instead of a horrifying jumble of gunshots and one liners. Overall, I’m feeling relatively happy with how it’s shaping up but excited to go back and implement a lot of the changes I’ve got listed as I think they’re going to add greatly to the story. I’m hoping to get back to Through the Black in the next couple of months and have recently reached out to my beta readers, so once I’ve got enough feedback I can press on with that!

My art practice has taken a serious hit but now that we’re settled in I managed to pick it up again last night and to my shock it didn’t go completely terribly. I’ve been watching other artists’ online streams and it’s helped me figure out some stuff with my own line work that might help me improve, so more practice on that coming up! Maybe I’ll finally be able to get a new character profile up in the not too distant future. Unfortunately all three attempts at drawing Xin from The Fishperer turned out unfit for eyes human or otherwise.

I’ve managed to keep up slow but steady progress on my Snowflake Method project, slowly fleshing out the basics. I’ve been doing little bits of progress on The Fishperer and I’m going to be focusing on that for a couple of weeks once this sweep of The Fairy Godfather is done, just for a bit of head clearing time while it sits.

I hope you’ve all had a good summer so far and have been making excellent progress with your own projects!

Snowflake So Far

You may remember me mentioning that I was going to try out the Snowflake method to see if it’s something I want to use in the future when plotting stories. So far, I’ve found it to be an incredibly useful tool. Already I’ve identified several major problem areas and managed to change them quickly, all before I’ve actually gotten to the point where I need to go back and alter other things. Let’s look at the list.

First, I found the character arcs really helpful. This is where a one paragraph synopsis is rewritten for each of the MCs. For one thing, I noticed that one of the MCs had basically no arc whatsoever. She was a Manic Pixie Dream Girl without being manic, pixish or a love interest, which was kinda impressive when you think about it. Noticing this now allowed me to really look at her and her story and make sure that she had goals and pursuits and a purpose other than holding up the other characters. I rewrote her paragraph and turned her into a fully-fledged story all herself. And I didn’t have to alter 70k words of prose to do it – a nice change from my usual method.

Next in Stage 4, the plot expansion step, I was able to combat another old nemesis of mine – the “things are too easy” problem. I make a bad habit of this one and it’s led to me having to insert entire arcs into already fully written manuscripts, and of course alter all the rest of the novel appropriately. Here I could tweak just a few sentences to make things more interesting and less predictable and it only took me an hour or so as opposed to a couple of months.

Stage 5 is very good for weaving all the characters’ stories together and finding ways to add depth and intrigue to use characters to their full potential. It made it easier to keep track of subplots as well, as it allows for slight tangents away from the overarching stories to look closely at each character. Doing half pages for minor characters is something I’ve never done before – I’ve never put much thought into them before the actual writing and always let them develop with the story. It feels very different and I’m interested in seeing how this effects the story and how my secondary characters feel.

I’m currently on Stage 8 – the outline stage. This feels like more familiar ground as it’s extremely rare for me to write without at least a rough scene-by-scene. Naturally, I like the idea of this stage but I found working in a spreadsheet pretty clunky. I’ve modified it a little and instead jumped into Scrivener, using the corkboard feature. This allows me to very easily move scenes around and also put notes and ideas into each document as I go. I’m just too addicted to being able to put extra info absolutely everywhere, and being able to rearrange with just a drag and drop is so convenient.

cofNeedless to say, this new project has become way more of a thing than I ever intended so whoops on that one. What can I say, I need something to distract me while TE1 is with the betas! That said, playing with this story is going to slow down considerably as TE2 has sat long enough. It’s time to work out those huge structural changes that I’m trying to prevent in future projects.

Wish me luck.

It Is Done

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It is done.

The draft. All that is left is a read through and then Through the Black will once again be beta ready. It fills me with overwhelming excitement, relief and fear. I don’t know when I’ll send it out but probably not immediately. I might wait until January when the holidays and whatnot are out of the way. Still, it’ll be a huge load off my shoulders to have it completed.

I think once I’ve done the read through I’ll be taking a little break from writing. That isn’t to say I won’t be writing at all, I just won’t start any serious work on anything. Poking and prodding at whatever takes my fancy. Because let me tell you, as much as I adore writing and my WIPs, this year has been utterly exhausting. Being a bit more casual for a while is definitely on the cards.

That said, I’ve already picked out my two main projects for next year because my brain doesn’t know what down time is. Though I will need to distract myself from the fact that beta readers have my novel.

So what will I be working on? First up as my “main” main project will be Through the Black sequel The Fairy Godfather. The concepts and events of book one are now solid enough that I feel I can start some proper work on it – the poor thing’s still in very rough shape from when it was my first official NaNoWriMo novel. It needs about 30k added to make it novel length and interesting, but considering I had a whole gang of shallow disposable bad guys who were never dealt with in the first draft I’m certain that’ll fill up quick.

Next year’s official side project will be The Fishperer, because it’s too much fun to ignore (and not a behemoth like certain other side novels who shall remain nameless). It’s a short stand-alone which will be nice to work on for a change. It’s also set on the back of a whale, which is a huge draw for me.

I hope your writing progress is going well and if you’re not keeping track then I hope you’re just having a good time with it!

Resolutions 2016 – Half Time

We are already—terrifyingly—halfway through the year so here is a half time update on those resolutions I made back in January. Now, I commonly use the phrase “going to sort my life out” when I’m exiting a conversation, normally to mean I’ve got something to get ready for or something important I’ve been putting off that I finally am going to do. This year so far has been a pretty special one for me personally as it is the year where I have finally, actually, sorted my life out. Big, big things are happening in the next few weeks, as you will read below.

 

1.) Diversify my reading – As I’m a slow reader, I set my goal for this at ten books (half of my Goodreads challenge). I have currently read 6 out of 10 of those and am finding some amazing books I might not have found if I hadn’t specifically gone looking for them. If anyone has any recommendations for great diverse sci-fi, horror or fantasy novels I would love to hear about them in the comments below!

Diverse Books

If a book has the phrase “giant penguin apocalypse” in the blurb I’m probably gonna read it.

 

2.) Start leaving short reviews on Goodreads again – I set my goal for this at one a month and I’ve managed to keep that up, which means I’m currently 50% of my way to completing this goal. My reviews are still short and fairly pants but I’m writing them and making myself look more critically at a book than I normally would do. This in turn is helping me think about my own writing, even seeing the same issues in my own writing when I really sit and think about it.

 

3.) Submit more short stories – Submitting stuff is scary and between working on novels and a pretty hectic life at present, I set my goal for this at submitting three times. This is to allow for the time it actually takes to write a story and the time it takes to hear back. So far I’ve submitted one but I have another that’s almost ready to be submitted and the first is due back on the 5th of July at the latest, which will be getting sent elsewhere if rejected.

 

4.) Finish next draft of Through the Black I am currently 27.8 % through this draft! That number might not look great but I’m actually really on track with Through the Black work. I’m 81.6 % through the first sweep which is by far the longest part of my revision process. Thanks to an influx of time (see below) I’m a couple of chapters ahead of where I was expecting to be and have even moved up deadlines so that step two and three have more time for perfecting!

 

5.) Lose more weight – BAM! Mission accomplished. I have hit the number that I was after. The new goal here is to still be at that number or below come the end of the year. Maintenance is tough so I’m going to be working hard to make sure I don’t slip.

 

6.) Get a tattoo – The same tattoo I’ve wanted ever since I first saw Dragonheart when I was seven. Yes, that was 20 years ago and I have been putting it off and off and off. Observe below! Tah daaaaah!

Tattoo

Not Draco but a dragon all my own.

 

7.) Move in with partner – Now this is where things get really exciting (and terrifying). The 17th of June was my last day at my previous job. That’s right – I’ve finally found work down south. Less than a week from today, I am moving. The next couple of months are going to be turbulent as I juggle with a new home, a new city and a new job. It’s going to be scary and stressful but I welcome it with open arms because finally—finally—I will be living with my partner.

 

How is your year and resolutions going? Tell me all about it below!

Beta Readers and the Next Project

You may recall that this year I’ve been working on my horror story The Deconstructor as my primary side project to help avoid burnout as I continue to chip away at Through the Black. Well, at the end of last week I got the first draft finished! Woo hoo! So what now for it?

I was originally planning on it being put on the shelf and sitting, since I didn’t think there would be much interest for it yet and I’m focusing on other things. However already I’ve got a couple of volunteers who want to beta it – a promising start. So I’ve decided to see if anyone else is interested and then send it out with questions in a few days’ time. This will be useful in the long run as when it’s time to look at it again I can start right away.

As you can see from my projects page, I’ve got a good few open and a bunch of them that I’m excited to work on right now. Continuing with my theme of trying to tie up loose projects—let’s face it, I’ve got more than enough!—I’ve decided to work on The Fishperer. I’ve got a full rough draft which puts it next in line as most complete. I’ve let my list of open projects pile up way too high and for my own peace of mind I really want to work on at least getting them to beta ready stages. That way they feel less of a loose end, ready to be sent out when the time feels right.

The Fishperer doesn’t have its own page yet but I will be changing that before the next post is due out in two weeks, so you’ll be able to read all about it! It’s a project I’m very excited about, set in an ocean world where it’s not uncommon for people to be able to talk to fish and an aging, hydromancing bounty hunter is chasing the score of a lifetime. And it comes with a nice change in tone from working on The Deconstructor, easily the darkest and most serious long work I’ve written. It does however also require an obscene amount of rewriting. The joy of NaNoWriMo drafts! At least it’ll keep be busy?

If anyone else is interested in being a beta reader for The Deconstructor, either send me a message on Twitter or leave something below in the next couple of days and I’ll get back to you!