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February Goals

My number one goal for this month is to continue Revision Xibalba.  I looked at the first draft, and I have about 28K remaining.  Less if I decide I don’t need to keep Dr. Charles Merritt’s POV (which would be 5 POVs–I tend to think that’s too many, although I love the perspective he gives of Xibalba).  I will also add 5-10K for the other subplots that I’ve added, specifically the corresponding Dallas threads.

If this was all I were working on, I’m sure I could finish it this month.  However, I’d like to not only write but also polish a new novella this month (7 Crows) for a deadline.  I have what I think is a really cool world with characters ready to go.  It could be the start of a brand new series.  I guess I’ll see how it goes.  It’s only 20K or so.

My primary priority will continue to be Revision Xibalba.  The project is too close to completion to be derailed by a new project, no matter how bright and shiny.  Balance.  I need balance this month.  If you’ve read long, you know that’s not exactly my strongest trait. 

I tend to get just a little obsessed.  :wink:

For now, I’m going to try to go to bed earlier, get up earlier, and see if Dark & Early can help me hit both goals.  To make this even more exciting, I might have some editor revisions this month — which will take immediate top priority. 

Also, come back around Valentine’s Day for a Characterization Clinic.  I’ll post details this week.

February is shaping up to be a wild and crazy month!

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Well, taking a sick day Thursday and generally feeling not so great really put a kink in my goals for last week.  I even got up fairly early Sat. (thanks to basketball and a math quiz bowl for Princess Monster) and wrote a while on a brand new scene for NSR, but it’s just not flowing.  I don’t have it clear in my mind, and so I’m “searching” for the right words.

Last week’s goals:

  1. Submit the short story to the antho, which requires a query and a “new” bio because I think I’ll be submitting this under a different pen name.   DONE.  Sent out the first query of 2009 last night.
  2. Revise another 10K of NSR.  SHORT.  Only grew the story by 7,711 words, including the new incomplete scene I’m struggling with. 
  3. FInalize characters for the SFR.  Specifically, name the hero and figure out his goals and background.  How is he in opposition to the heroine’s goal?  DONE.  Figured out the hero’s goal and he’s totally playing the heroine at the beginning.  I even moved on to plotting, but ran into some other issues.

Goals for this week:

  1. Character interview at Ginger Simpson’s blog for “Bring a Character to Blog Week” starting today.  My post (the interview with Ruin, The Rock) is set to post Tuesday morning.
  2. Write up some kind of intriguing post for the first Drollerie Press blog tour on 1/31/2009.
  3. Grow NSR by 13K to make up for shortfall last week.
  4. Plot 7Crows to position myself for a novella month in February.
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2009 Goals

I’m a strong believer in setting goals and regularly checking my progress throughout the year.  I do tend to list pie-in-the-sky big goals that are humanly impossible, although I am doing better at setting realistic and achievable goals.  Would I love to finish every project on my plate next year?  Absolutely.  But I also have to be realistic.  I can’t write like a maniac for months on end and think my sanity, family, job, and health won’t suffer.  I have to work at balance, and that’s really hard for me.

Instead of listing things in some “priority order” that I’ll throw out the door as soon as I make a new sale *crossing fingers* or a new Bright Shiny Story shows up, I’m going to separate my goals into a couple of different areas.

Contracted or Promised/Committed Projects

  • The Road to Shanhasson.  Status:  Submitted.  Goal: Complete editor revisions as assigned. Deadline: TBD.
  • Return to Shanhasson.  Status:  First draft complete.  Goal: revise and submit.  Deadline: TBD.
  • Given In Fire.  Status: planning, plotting.  Goal:  draft, revise, submit.  First Draft target:  20-30K. Deadline: TBD.
  • Charon’s story.  Status:  Not started.  Goal:  plot, build, complete first draft.  First Draft target:  70K.  Consider as a NaNoWriMo project.

Ongoing Submissions

  • Letters to An English Professor.  Status:  On submission.  Goal:  Agent and/or Sell.


Current WIPs

  • Night Sun Rising.  Status:  Revision Xibalba in progress.  Goal:  complete revision and query.  Deadline:  1st quarter 2009.  TOP PRIORITY for 2009.
  • Arcana.  Status: first rough draft complete, some revision planning complete.  Goal:  devise final revision plan I can actually do, or file for later.  This story may be “beyond” me for now.

Pipeline Projects (aka Bright Shinies on the horizon)

  • Rayne and Crow.  Status: Idea stage.  Goal:  develop, plot, worldbuild.  Deadline:  1st quarter 2009.  First draft:  2nd quarter 2009.  First draft target:  70K.  SECOND PRIORITY for 2009.  Explore this idea and see if it’s a go. 
  • ANTs.  Status:  <20K first draft, notes.  Goal:  be prepared to pull proposal together if Letters sells.
  • Vicky’s story:  Only a go if Letters and ANTs sell (Vicky is Conn’s sister).
  • Equus story:  From a dream, consider under the Letters “brand.”


Personal Development and Other

  • Increase reading, targeting 52 books this year.
  • Write another short story to give away
  • Utilize spreadsheets to keep better track of progress (I did this in 2007 but got lazy in 2008).
  • Continue the Great Agent Hunt.
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2008 in Review

Let’s see how I did on my 2008 goals originally posted Jan 2.

1. Write every day. This is tricky, because not every day is going to yield new words, even if I’m working really hard on a story. That’s okay. When I’m in draft mode, I want 1K a day. Otherwise, I’ll be doing some part of writing every day, whether it’s career related (updating the website, requesting reviews) or revisions.

This is pretty much a given.  Even when I was supposed to take a vacation, I ended up re-reading my own work and making revision notes. 

2. Write 300K. I didn’t keep a spreadsheet this year, so I’m not 100% sure of wordcounts, so this is estimated.

Road to Shanhasson:  113,500

Return to Shanhasson: 104,900

Letters Revision (from 49K to 72K):  23,000

Night Sun Rising (hard revisions): 39,000

Prometheus Unbound:  2,000

RHP Revisions (unfinished): 6,000

Total:  roughly 288,400 words.  Not bad.

3. Write another draft of Arcana (formerly RHP), polish in first quarter 2008, and query. Started in January, but it wasn’t going well at all.  More research and planning is needed.

4. Write another draft of Night Sun Rising (the NaNoWriMo novel), polish in second quarter 2008, and query. Planning is complete; Revision Xibalba was in progress in Oct but not yet finished.  My first priority in 2009 will be to finish this.

5. Editor revisions (completed the third pass 12/31/2007, so this one’s close!) and promotion on The Fire Within.  Done.

6. Editor revisions and promotion on The Rose of Shanhasson.  Done.

7. Editor revisions and promotion on Beautiful Death.  Done.

8. Develop a revision plan to extend Letters to An English Professor from long novella to single title length.  Done, revisions completed, project queries floating about and continuing into 2009.

9. Finish a first draft of ANTs (may get bumped to the bottom of the list, but it bugs me because this story is 75% finished).  Not started.  No sense in working on this unless I sell Letters.  (The hero of ANTs is Conn’s brother, Victor.)

10. Write The Road to Shanhasson (not sure of timing yet).  Done!

11. Write at least one short story to give away as a free read.  Done! 

12. Revise the website for quicker downloads and easier maintenance.  Done again, including transferring my domain off yahell.

13. Read 52 books.  Ugh, failed miserably on this.  I didn’t keep a careful list this year, but I’d be surprised if I hit 25 books.  Must read more next year.

14. Finished Return to Shanhasson as my NaNo project.

15. Continued the Great Agent Hunt near the end of 2008 with no luck yet.  My prey is proving rather ellusive, which only makes the hunt more thrilling.

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2008 Winds Down

The last Christmas presents have been opened.  We celebrated our last family dinner yesterday with Granny, my Beloved Sis, and my brother’s family.  The last Chiefs’ football game is on today.

2008 is almost over.

So this next week, I’ll be writing up formal goals for 2009.  I’ll look back to last year and see how I did on 2008’s goals.

Meanwhile, I’m reading.  Not from my reward stack, although this has been a very great reward.  I started with The Rose of Shanhasson, then The Road to Shanhasson, and finally, I’m reading the first draft of Return to Shanhasson that I just finished.  Oooooh, it’s so awesome to see the story all laid out and complete.  So much love.  So much blood.  So much Shadow.  The last book still needs work to bring it up where it needs to be, but the theme is definitely carried through to the end. 

Love, the greatest gift of all, and the greatest sacrifice.

2009 goals will be forthcoming.

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Need for Speed

I’m going to date myself by admitting that Top Gun was a huge hit when I was in high school.  I had a friend who always quoted the title of this entry as we did the high and low five.

I’m feeling the need for speed.  Aren’t you?

Since NaNoWriMo is just around the corner and I’m slowly working my way back up to my 1K min in my Dark & Early session, I thought I’d do a quick checklist for myself as much as you on ways to get and keep the word production up.

1. Set clear, attainable, incremental goals.  Something like “I want to write 1K in 1 hour” is good, where “I want to write 5K today” may not be as manageable unless you define a careful strategy to reach that goal.  Can you actually write 5K in a single day?  Do you actually have all day?  Goal setting is a whole nother blog post, so I won’t go into endless detail, but I do feel strongly that setting goals is an important strategy for increasing speed.

Side note:  Don’t let your overachiever out when setting goals.  I’m the worst at setting pie-in-the-sky impossible goals.  (e.g. I want to finish Revision Xibalba in a single month!)  It’s much better to build your ego and confidence with small goals that you know beyond a shadow of a doubt you can reach.  Plus, then you earn rewards!  Which leads to:

2. Plan simple rewards for hitting each mini and daily goal.  For example, I have a goal that says I don’t get to read my blog feeds in the morning until I write 1K.  I need my Paperback Writer fix!

3. Plan your schedule to meet your goals.  It doesn’t do any good to say “I want to write 1K today” if you don’t know when or how you’ll actually be able to write. 

  • Do what works for you and schedule the time for yourself. 
  • Do as much as you can to enable yourself. 

For me, that means laying out all my clothes the night before in the bathroom so I don’t wake up That Man.  I also prep my coffee pot and set out my favorite coffee cup.  I have an inspiring playlist (that varies by project) on Napster that I simply bring up and play.  Lastly but the most important for me personally, is a plan to “meet” my accountability partner online.  If I know she’s going to be up and wondering where the heck I am, then that helps me get up when the alarm goes off Dark & Early.

3. Take breaks.  This might seem counter-intuitive, and I sheepishly admit this is one I try to weasle out of if given half the chance.  When I’m in the flow, the last thing I want to do is take a break.  However, my wrists and shoulders certainly thank me, even if I just pause for 5 minutes to refill my cup and do a few stretches.

4. Eliminate distractions.  Don’t bring up your e-mail, because then if it dings or you notice you have an unread message, well, duh, you’ll want to read it.  Work with your family and friends so they know your scheduled writing time is important and sacred.  (That’s why I get up Dark & Early — no one else is up.)

5.  Use a notebook.  This is something I learned from Fast Draft (link below).  A notebook helps me avoid endless time sinks. 

Don’t fall into the trap of Googling something “quick” while writing, because it’s super easy to get sucked into way too much internet time.  Nothing ticks me off more in the morning than making that mistake and looking up to see that it’s time to go to work or get the family up — my writing time has simply disappeared.

  • Write down research notes, questions, things you want to address later. 
  • In your file, make a note to yourself if needed and then move on.  I make [notes to myself] like this all the time.  Or you could do *** note fix this! ***.  Whatever — just make it something you can easily search for later.
  • Prep for the next day’s session.  After your current writing session is over, jot a few notes about what you still need to do or where you should go from here.  This is helpful immediately after your session is over, but you could also jot notes at any time.  e.g. 10 minutes while waiting at school to pick up the monsters or 5 minutes while the coffee brews.

For me personally, the writing by hand is very important.  It frees me from the computer and helps tap into another area of my brain. 

6. Don’t stall yourself.  If a scene isn’t going well, make a note and skip it.  There’s no law of the universe that says you have to get every scene fully perfect first.  Little things can mess up a perfectionist, like struggling to find the right word, the best opening line, the perfect end-of-chapter hook.  Don’t!  Don’t stress out about being “perfect.”  That’s what [notes to yourself] and the notebook are for, like:

  • [word choice]
  • [something pithy here]
  • [stuck, skipping ahead to next scene, try to show…blah blah blah]
  • [what is the character’s motivation?]
  • [where the hell is the CONFLICT???]
  • [what happened to the backpack?]

These are all examples of notes I’ve written to myself and MOVED ON.

You can fix ANYTHING.  Later.  Nobody is going to see this draft unless you choose to send it to them.  If it’s a mess, who cares?  The most important thing is to finish.  Get the story down.  It’s a given assumption that you will have to revise.  However, it does not make sense to revise a story that is not finished.

7. Take care of yourself.  Don’t only drink your favorite caffeinated beverage — make sure you’re getting enough fluids.  Sometimes I want to graze while I write — hello, low fat microwave popcorn instead of chips.  The new thing I’m doing this year is to plan a walk, even if it’s only 20 minutes, every day.  When I’m working the Evil Day Job, I don’t always make it (meetings, urgent issues), but I have 9 vacation days planned in Nov. and there’s no excuse.  I *will* walk those days.

Helpful Links:

Do any of you have recommendations for meeting your need for speed and increasing your writing production?  Please share in comments!