Goals Summary 2018 – Wk 6

Hi Blogland,

It’s that time again! Let’s talk about goals!

Last Week

  • Publish two additional blog posts
  • Finish Sanctified Chapter 32. Post chapter 31.
  • Finish reading Iron GoldIron Gold
  • Edit two chapters of The Steel Armada

 

How’d I do? 

  • Publish two additional blog posts
  • Finish Sanctified Chapter 32. Post chapter 31.
    • Chickity-check. Got some good responses on chapter 31, feeling good about chapter 33.
  • Finish Iron Gold
    • Honestly, I didn’t think I would be able to get this one done. I should know better than to doubt Pierce Brown. He swept me along just as I hoped. Done.
  • Edit two chapters of The Steel Armada
    • Barely. Sweet Baby Jesus this project is huge. And humiliating. And really satisfying when I get things done. Which I did. I’m planning a post later this month to discuss my experience editing these first five chapters.

Well, will you look at that. Another week where I managed to get everything done. This feels like some sort of magic at present, this whirlwind ability that has been gifted to me. Someday I’ll look back and credit determination and willpower, but for now: Magic.

Weekly Word Count: 2,893

This Week

  • Publish two Book Reviews
  • Start Sanctified chapter 33
  • Finish reading The Stone SkyThe Stone Sky
  • Edit two chapters of The Steel Armada

This formula worked last week, so as the saying goes, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. I’ve got the review for Changes to do, and Iron Gold. I’m about 150 pages into The Stone Sky out of 419, so that should be doable. And if I could edit two chapters last week, I can do it this week.

Next week we’re flying down to Arizona for my cousin’s wedding, so there won’t be any goals or posts on my part other than the recap for this week. I’m hoping to get a lot of reading done on the flights, and that is about it.

When we come back there are a couple days left in February, in which I’ll be focusing my attention on getting Lifelike ready for publication.

So yeah, that’s the plan. Read, write, and edit. Lather, rinse, repeat. See you all soon with a book review!

 

BZ

Advertisements

The Recap – January 2018

Blogland! Hello again!

Today marks the start of a new month, and the start of a new blog post series! I’ve always been a firm believer in the efficacy of setting small, achievable goals. I talked about it a lot while I was in school, breaking down my semesters into digestible, weekly bites. I was very successful during my hectic life balancing school and two jobs, and have spent the last year and a half sort of drifting in all this free time.

So, how do I get back to that level (or similar) of productivity?

Spend less time looking at the big picture! I know that sounds counter-productive, but honestly, I think I have to. When I think about editing The Steel Armada, I feel overwhelmed, unsure how to begin let alone how to get all the way to the end. And yet, I was able to tackle the first chapter last night, and am really proud of the outcome. It was like ripping off the band-aid, or getting a shot; much scarier in my mind than on paper. I’ve been approaching and thinking about this project all wrong for years, and I’ve allowed it to keep me from reaching my goals.

I see the big picture, I know the end goal: Call The Steel Armada “Done”. But, the road to “Done” doesn’t have to be an eight lane highway. It could just as easily be a collection of many narrow country roads. Honing in my focus helps prevent distraction and my propensity for over-thinking, which then allows for increased focus and productivity.

But, the other big part is acknowledging that I’m a little out of my depth here. I’m comfortable editing short fiction, and actually really enjoy that process. But a novel? There’s so many moving parts, so many characters with their own motivations and goals, and so much more world-building to flesh out. There’s just so much! Now, whenever I feel unprepared or uncertain, what do I do?

Research! I work at a library. I live in a time with mobile access to the internet. I am privileged with incredible access to knowledge, why in all hells should I wade through this daunting task blindfolded? Why do I feel as if educating myself on the process of editing and revising a novel is somehow cheating?

It’s stupid, and I’m done with it.

I can hear you now, “That’s all fine and good, Brittany, but what does this have to do with the blog and setting goals?”

This epiphany (can you call it that if you’re realizing something you already knew?) has led me to redo my whiteboard, which means I need to reevaluate how I set, meet, and discuss my goals. I’ve been doing the Weekly Goals Summaries, and have found that checking in weekly helps keep me focused and accountable.

Whiteboard update
Writing on whiteboard as a Lefty is sketchy at best. Sorry for the crap handwriting.

But, trying to tackle several goals for the year by breaking them into weekly goals is… daunting. It leaves me feeling as if I’m wrestling with an octopus or something, all flailing, slippery limbs.

Enter Monthly Goals!

God, it seems like such a no-brainer when I write it down. Why haven’t I been doing this all along? Adding monthly goals adds even more structure, giving me more footholds on this giant rock wall I’m calling 2018.

Yearly goals get dissected into monthly goals, which get further broken down into weekly goals. It allows me to tackle small, attainable goals that will stack back up into the bigger, over-arcing goals for the year, without giving me a panic attack.

I don’t know about you, but avoiding panic attacks sounds like a good idea to me.

Unfortunately, I didn’t set detailed goals for January, but I still want to look at my overall accomplishments for the month.

January “Goals”

  • post a book review each week
  • write one chapter of Sanctified
  • write two give away fics (about 5k words total)
  • edit Lifelike and The Season into Draft 2
  • keep reading
  • plan The Steel Armada edits

How’d I do?

  • Post a book review each week
    • I only wrote two book reviews this month, but I’m building a pipeline for reviews right now, so there should be plenty of reviews in the future. I’ll take it.
  • Write one chapter of Sanctified
    • I did write chapter 31 of Sanctified, and started chapter 32. I also posted chapter 30.
  • Write two give away fics
    • I finished my two give away fics to some praise on Tumblr, so that’s nice. The intended audiences were very happy with their gifts, which always feels good!
  • Edit Lifelike and The Season into Draft 2
    • Done. Sent them out to a couple of friends for feedback.

      short story edits
      Gotta love that red pen!
  • Keep reading
    • Slowly but surely. I’m spread pretty thin between several books and audiobooks, so the progress feels slow. But, it’ll avalanche nicely.
  • Plan The Steel Armada edits
    • Barely. I did edit chapter 1 last night, but that was just a tippy-toe in the lake of this project. But, I’m thinking about it and moving forward with it into February.

Total January Word Count: 11,825

Considering that I went into January without any real plan other than my weekly goals, I feel pretty darn good about my output. Now that I have a more structured approach, what will I accomplish in February?

February Goals

  • Edit four chapters of The Steel Armada
  • Finish Sanctified
  • Get Lifelike submission ready
  • Keep Reading

This list feels short, but February is already a short month, and I’ll be on vacation for five days of it. We’re going back to Arizona for my cousin’s wedding at the end of the month, and there will be absolutely no time for writing or editing while I’m there. Reading on the flights is likely the only thing I’ll accomplish. Setting realistic, achievable goals is key, and acknowledging when I won’t have time is crucial to that.

With only two chapters left in Sanctified, February will be an editing-centric month. Expect book reviews and lots of discussion about my experiences revising my first novel.

dual wielding laptops
Dual-wielding laptops like a boss.

And probably a lot of complaining about my computer situation, because I hate it. You’ve been warned.
I’ll see you soon with a book review, Blogland. Until then, thanks as usual for reading this far!

 

BZ

 

Goals Summary 2018 – Wk 3

Hi Blogland,

Sorry for my absence last week. I contracted the flu that’s going around so badly this year. My husband was ill first, and then I succumbed to it a week later. I spent the majority of the week on the couch watching nature documentaries and napping. Not remotely productive, but I’m hale and healthy now, so it worked out.

So obviously, I didn’t have any goals last week, but I never discussed the previous week’s either. So, what did I want to accomplish in week three?

Goals?

  • Publish Dark Sky book review
  • finish my last giveaway fic
  • Finish chapter 31 and post chapter 30 of Sanctified
  • Finish listening to Shockaholic
  • Send Lifelike and The Season to my friend Matt

How did I do?

Not great, but not awful either. I didn’t write that book review, which is a shame. I hate writing reviews too long after I’ve finished the book. It’s hard to remember everything. But, I did finish my giveaway fic, as well as my fanfic chapter. I posted it to some positive feedback from the readers, so that’s always nice. I have yet to finish listening to Shockaholic, but I’m making some serious progress this week already. I didn’t incorporate any feedback from Madhu yet. She felt pretty unsure of her comments, and felt a bit out of her depth, so I decided to hold off on reading her comments until I hear back from Matt. I did send my stories to Matt, but he’s yet to get back to me on them. Hopefully that doesn’t mean he hates them :/

Weekly Word Count: 4,488

What about this week?

  • Publish two book reviews
  • Start Sanctified chapter 32
  • Finish Shockaholic
  • Edit Lifelike and The Season
  • Edit chapter 1 of The Steel Armada

I lot of editing. Blegh. I hate editing my own work. I LOVE editing other people’s work, but my own is a special sort of hell. But, Madhu is working on some rewrites of her novel, and she’s eager to get back to sharing work, so I need to have something to share. Editing is the only way I’ll have that. Which was the goal of having someone to share with, at least to me. Sharing my work with someone I don’t really know, but see on a weekly basis will help keep me accountable while valuing their feedback. I just have to get my butt in gear.

 

I’ve got the Dark Sky review written and cued up, it’ll publish tomorrow morning. So, I can either write a review on Turn Coat or hurry up and finish Iron Gold this week. Yeah, right. Turn Coat it is. Iron Gold

February is my month to really start focusing on my editing. Tentative goal is a chapter a week at least, but if Madhu and I keep with tradition and send each other 20 pages, that’s closer to two. If I do two chapters a week, I’ll be done in just about 10 weeks. So we’ll see how it goes.

Anyway, that’s where we stand going into week five. A little behind schedule thanks to the flu, but feeling healthy and ready to get back on track.

Wish me luck, Blogland!

 

BZ

New Year’s New Look!

Every year, on or around January 1st, I overhaul the blog. I’m not sure if it serves any other purpose besides catching my interest in my site and giving me a fresh breath of air after 365 days of something else.

So, here’s the new look, I hope you all like it. I was a little sad to see the last look go, because it was my favorite so far in the past 4 years of blogging. But, I have high hopes for this one. It’s even more streamlined than last year’s (weird), and I like the headers with social media links at the top.

Yeah. It feels good, man.

All right, here’s the gross part about New Year’s posts. I have to talk about my ambitions for 2017 and how I did in accomplishing them. Spoiler alert, 2017 was not a good year for me.

Last year I said I wanted to:

  • edit The Steel Armada into draft #3
  • submit The Portrait of Sterling Madison to The Audient Void
  • finish From the Quorum rough draft
  • edit Cards into draft #2
  • publish 104 blog posts, roughly 2 per week
  • read 60 books

How did I do? Well, I did make some progress on The Steel Armada, especially in the last half of the year. I’m about halfway through editing the second draft, but the realization that it needs pretty extensive rewrites has me a bit disheartened.

I didn’t submit The Portrait of Sterling Madison this year. If you don’t recall, this is a horror short story that has haunted me for the better part of seven years. I wanted to do a lot with this small piece, and every attempt just proved that my writing chops weren’t where they needed to be to make it work. But, I did finally hammer out the best draft of it yet, quite unexpectedly, as I’d shelved it yet again. I’m confident I’ll find a home for it in 2018!

I did not finish From the Quorum. In fact, I got about halfway, because it’s the largest story I’ve ever undertaken. I outlined the whole book through to the end back in April, and we’re looking at about 100k word manuscript. It’s currently at 51k, so literally halfway there. I saw that projected word count and panicked, and haven’t worked on it since then.

I made a deal with myself: I cannot edit Cards until The Steel Armada is complete. Since I didn’t make the headway with edits like I planned, I did not even look at Cards this year. However, I did some minimal edits on my Cards short story Since the Fire, in the hopes that I can find it a home in 2018.

I published 42 post last year… Ugh. No where close to my goal. Not even all that close to half of my goal. That’s rough buddy. Sorry for neglecting you all this year.

I managed to squeak in 62 books this year, according to Goodreads, and man that feels good. I needed a win.

I read 14,072 pages across 62 booksImg bookstack 72

What the heck did I do in 2017?

I wrote. A lot. In 2017 I wrote two original short stories and four chapters for From the Quorum. The short stories are both Horror pieces, The Seasons is an all new piece that I’m really proud of, and Lifelike is the newest incarnation of The Portrait of Sterling Madison. Honestly, it’s different enough, and written in such a whirlwind of inspiration that I don’t even consider it a rewrite; it really is an all new story. These projects total 17,321 words.

But, I did my most damage working on Fanfiction. I know, I know. You roll your eyes, you immediately see me differently because you know that I write fanfiction. Trust me, I did my fair share of eye-rolling and berating because of it. But, there are a lot of benefits to being a content creator in an active fandom, and I will probably write a whole separate post to talk about my experiences as such. Finally, months later, I regret nothing.

So, I wrote 264,850 words of Fanfic in 2017. Yep. Go ahead, read it again. 264,850 words across multiple longfics (basically multi-chapter serials), oneshots (read: short stories), and drabbles (aka flash fiction).

I wrote more this year than I ever have before, in more styles and genres than I ever thought possible, because of fanfic. I have no regrets. I also won National Novel Writing Month for the very first time because of fanfic. I proved to myself that I absolutely can write long form, can produce content quickly and of a pretty high quality on a deadline. When I needed it most, Fanfic gave me an ego boost. I am proud of my output and my content, and am feeling buoyed into the new year.

But, I did have some other projects this last year.
Audient Void issue 4

I continue to provide “Editorial Assistance” for The Audient Void. I’ve stepped up my duties to weeding through the fiction slush-pile as well as offering line edits when necessary. So, if you submit fiction to us in 2018, there’s a 50-50 chance I’ll be the one who decides whether your story gets considered for publication. MUAHAHAHA!

Ahem.

We released two issues in 2017 and have just finished selecting pieces for the first issue of 2018. So, there was that. Also, I spent a few months swapping fiction with an acquaintance and work-shopping her Middle-Grade Adventure novel. It was an eye-opening experience that really challenged me to leave my comfort zone and learn more about publishing. I also helped her fine tune her query letter, which is really good practice for me when it comes time to write my own.

I also took on some personal projects. I stopped biting my nails, for realsies this time! It’s been months, and I love it. I still keep them short, because typing with nails is nigh impossible, but I’ve accumulated more polish colors and indulge in giving myself manicures now, so that’s nice. I did a 30 day yoga challenge, and signed up for another one that starts tomorrow! I love bringing stretching and movement back into my life (former dancer, here) and it’s really grounded me over the last month. Today we were invited to set an intention for the month, a word or phrase that would guide our practice through to the end. But, I’m going one step further. I’m setting my intention for the year.

FOCUS.

2017 was a wild ramble that saw me dart from project to project, taking on things that were fun and interesting, at the expense of my more serious ambitions. I want to bring focus back into my life. I want to set clear, attainable goals, so that I can set myself up for success. So…

What the heck am I doing in 2018?

  • I am finishing The Steel Armada. Whatever that means, and how ever long that takes. I wrote this book in 2013, it’s time to stamp it done and move on with my writing life.
  • I am finishing my committed longfic series. There are a couple chapters left in this installment, and then a planned sequel. Then it is done. Chickity-check, move on.
  • I am submitting at least two short stories for publication this year, only to SFWA Logomagazines that pay their authors. I’m done sticking ‘feathers in my cap’. I don’t need feathers. I need payouts. I need proof positive that my content is worth buying, I need credentials to pad my query letters and my efforts to join Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) within the next two years.
  • I am giving myself permission to write things for fun. Drabbles and tumblr prompts keep me limber and energized. I love writing them, I love engaging with a fan base. I will not feel guilty for that.
  • I am reading 65 books, per the Goodreads reading challenge.
  • I am publishing 52 blog posts, preferably once a week, no matter what.
  • I am committing to my yoga practice, about 20-30 minutes/day

If time allows, I would like to…

  • make considerable progress (30k words) on From the Quorum
  • Read through and begin edits on Cards
  • write a new Sci-Fi short story
  • maybe begin querying process for The Steel Armada, if I like how it turns out

 

Whew. All right. That’s a pretty big “to-do” list for 2018. Whoops. But, if I’m being honest, these are the goals that mean the most to me. These are the projects I want to work on, and the only way I can do that is if I make the time.

What about you? What will you make time for in 2018? What will be your focus?

As always, thanks for stopping by Blogland, I hope you had a wonderful holiday season, and look forward to sharing 2018 with you.

 

Best,

BZ

Where’d the Year Go?

Oh hai, Blogland!

So, somehow, this year has passed me by. I’ve got things to talk about and plans to share, and maybe a last book review for the year. I want to tally up my word count for the year, talk about the projects I worked on, and go over the goals I set last year versus where I ended.

Ya know, typical end of the year BS.

I’d also like to set some knew goals and really buckle up in 2018. I have high hopes for that, and I’ll tell you why in the forthcoming Round-Up post.

Plus, the New Year is always my time to redesign the blog! This is something I’ve done every year since I started this blog back in 2011, and I don’t plan on killing the tradition now.

Anyway, I am still here. I still have plans. Stay tuned.

Much Love,

 

BZ

Recap and Stats

Hi Blogland,

I had some things I wanted to talk about, but tomorrow’s book review just isn’t the place.

First, I wanted to share some stats with everyone, mainly because I’m proud of them, and by talking about them I hope to keep the momentum going.

February was a record month for the blog. Over 300 views in one month is unheard of here, and I am blown away by it. So thank you, everyone who stopped in to read what I had to say. You’re awesome! Also, the blog has surpassed 400 followers, which is unfathomable to me. I hope you all enjoy what I write here, and I promise I’ll keep coming back, sharing my life story by story with you all as I take my own steps on the “writing journey”.

In January I started my writing journey anew. Now, if you haven’t been following me since the beginning, let me throw some history at you. I started this blog in September of 2011 after a professional writer visited my Planning and Structuring the Novel class at Chandler-Gilbert Community College. Per his advice, I started my social media presence with a blog, followed by a dedicated Facebook page and twitter account.

I didn’t know the first thing about blogging. I probably still don’t, since my views don’t typically number in the thousands. But, I knew it needed to focus on writing and my experiences working toward fiction as a career. That’s all this has really ever been: a place for me to get the buzzing thoughts out in a constructive way, and to share these thoughts with like-minded folk.

Here we are in 2017 and the blog has become an inseparable part of me. I list everything I read, review books, as well as track my personal writing goals and learning experiences as I go through the steps of writing, editing, rewriting, and polishing manuscripts, as well as the editing and submission process for short fiction.

So, thanks again for following this page and hearing me out. It’s been amazing.

Another thing I wanted to mention was that I’m keeping much closer tabs on my word count accomplishments. I was tracking them weekly, and then including them in my weekly Goal Summary post, and I’m still going to do that, but now I will be tracking it monthly and setting monthly word counts.

So, how’ve I done so far?

January was my first month back in full writing mode. I used to write almost 9k words a week, back when I wrote five days a week.Before school and the the second job. Back when it was just me and Starbucks in a new town. I really want to get back to that, and I set a lofty goal for January because of it. I wanted to write 12k words, but came in at 5,134 instead.

For the first month back on a (somewhat) dedicated schedule, that’s not too bad. In fact, I feel pretty damn good about it. 5k words is more than I wrote in the six months prior to that, so I’m calling it a win.

Now, for February the plan was to start editing The Steel Armada, plus it’s a short month, so I knocked my goal down to 8k words. Honestly, still pretty intense seeing as I’m still working this writing muscle into shape.

But, I just tallied it all up, and I finished February with a total word count of 8,700!

That is insane to me. I can’t really believe it. I wrote 2.5 chapters this month, and outlined the manuscript through to the end. And I’m well on my way through the read through/initial edits of The Steel Armada. February was just a really great month for me, all around.

I’m hoping to keep the momentum going through March, but have dropped my word count goal again. Mass Effect Andromeda releases in less than three weeks, and once it’s in my hands I am at its mercy until who knows when. So, I’m shooting for 6k words this month and continuing edits. Also, if I can get the next book club title finished before the game releases, that’d be great.

So, that’s where I am here on March 1st. Things are going really well, and I’m making use of all this unwanted free time while I work part-time.

Also, if anyone is wondering, I’m getting used to this new laptop. I got a small wireless mouse, and disabled the touchpad, which helps tremendously. I no longer accidentally scroll the wrong way, or magnify or shrink things for no apparent reason. Plus, I wrote this blog, listened to music, opened multiple webpages, Scrivener, and  OneNote (and drew a stupid whale scene like the ones I did back in grade school) without the computer freezing and panicking and generally being a twit. Plus, being able to move windows with my fingers is pretty cool. Makes me feel like Iron Man.

I’m keeping it.

Anyway, that’s what I wanted to chat about. And I wanted to spend more time typing on this computer in preparation for tomorrow. Thursdays are always my big writing days, what with book reviews, fiction, and edits. I didn’t want to sit down tomorrow and feel intimidated or uncomfortable, so any excuse to get typing is a good one.

Thanks for getting this far, Blogland. I’ll see you all tomorrow when I finally get to talk about The Paper Magician!

 

BZ

Goals Summary wk 7

Hi Blogland!

Today is a new day. A day full of possibility, and it’s off to a wonderful start. A stomach full of some egg frittata concoction my husband made, and the bolstering aroma of percolating coffee hangs in the air.

I’m normally off on Mondays (for the time being) but the husband is also off thanks to its being President’s Day. I’m not letting that stop me from sequestering myself in the office and getting work done, however.

In my last post I told you all how sick we were last week, and I’m pleased to say that we’re both back to feeling relatively normal. There’s still the occasional sneeze and stuffy noses in need of tissue, but otherwise we’re well again.

So, how did last week stack up goals-wise? Not as badly as I thought.

Last week I wanted to:

  • Write chapter 13 of From the Quorumarcanum-unbounded
    • That did not happen. I didn’t even open Scrivener until last night. I considered writing for a tiny moment, but we had company and dinner in the works, so I decided against it.
  • Finish Arcanum Unbounded
    • Done. I don’t think I’ll do a review on this one, mainly because it would either be overly simplistic, glossing over the stories, or far too in depth as I gave each story its own review. Just know that, if you’re a Sanderson fan, you should read it.
  • Publish two blog posts
    • Barely. Last night’s little update counts, so I got to put this one into the black.
  • Continue The Steel Armada edits
    • Yep. Edited about three chapters last night. This is still technically a read through, but I’m taking a lot of notes, both on the pages and in a designated notebook. So, none of these chapters are ready to be called “Draft #3”, but the feedback I’m getting and the notes I’m taking or forcing me to do a lot of thinking and world building. I’m very excited about this editing round!

So, not too bad. Considering the week we had, and how awful I felt, I still managed to get most of my goals done. That feels damn good, and keeps the momentum going forward into this week.Print

What’s on the agenda for the next seven days?

  • Write chapter 13 of From the Quorum
  • Finish reading The Paper Magician
  • Publish two blog posts
  • Continue The Steel Armada edits/read through/research
    • A note on this one: As I’ve mentioned before, world building and character development are my two main focuses for this round of editing. I’ve done a lot of great work already in answering reader questions and addressing where there’s too many blanks. But, I don’t have enough knowledge about ships in general to describe them and let my characters discuss them in a convincing way. So, I’m doing research. I’ve loaned a book from the library called Sailing Ships by Björn Landström and it is full of diagrams and terminology for all kinds of rigged ships! I’m really looking forward to delving into it and learning more about the world of The Steel Armada.sailing-ships

Book club meets next week to discuss The Paper Magician, so I need to hurry up and get that done. I’m only on chapter 2, but according to fellow Clubbers, it goes pretty quick. After that I’ll need to read and write as much as possible in the two following weeks, because Mass Effect Andromeda releases on March 21st, and I will be useless for a long time after that.

In other news, I’m meeting with the creator/editor/producer of The Audient Void this evening to “discuss some things regarding books”. He and his wife operate a local indie bookstore, and since I work at a library I guess they want to meet up and chat. I’m not really sure about what, and I’m always a little nervous about vague social meetings, so I’m trying not to over-think it too much. I really like them both, so I’m sure it’ll be a fun and interesting conversation.

I’m forcing myself to look forward to it. Anxiety aside, I know I’ll enjoy myself. I’m just not good with unknowns…

Anyway, coffee is done brewing, music is playing, and there’s fiction to write and edit. I’ll talk at you all soon Blogland.

 

BZ