Goals Summary 2018 – Wk 10

Hello Blogland,

It’s another sunshine-y day in the Pacific Northwest, and a wonderful 65 degrees! The windows were down on all my drives today, Snow Patrol blaring and a smile on my face. I can’t ask for more than that.

What did I want to do last week?

  • Publish two book reviews
  • Review/submit The Seasons 
  • Write 1000 words on Sanctified chapter 34
  • Finish listening to The Scorpio Races
  • Edit 2 chapters of The Steel Armada
  • Review and return Madhu’s pages

The results are in!

  • Publish two book reviews
  • Review/submit The Seasons
    • Yep! The submission process has begun. I’ve received one rejection all ready, which I fully anticipated. Waiting to hear back from the most recent market, and I’m planning a post about the whole process sometime soon.
  • Write 1000 words on Sanctified chapter 34
    • Yarp. Knocked this one out early in the week, and I’m feeling really good about finishing it this week.
  • Finish Listening to The Scorpio Races
    • Totes done. I’m ready to talk all about it.
  • Edit two chapters of The Steel Armada
    • Barely. It was another close call this week. Chapter six required extensive cutting and rewriting, which then made me hesitant to tackle chapter seven. Luckily it required much less work than its predecessor, so I was able to tack it on to the end of my week.
  • Review and return Madhu’s pages
    • Done. Reading her book is always nice because she writes stories that are different that the ones I read and write. It’s a refreshing break from my other projects. And, let’s be real, I enjoy editing work that isn’t mine.

Weekly Word Count: 3,326

Overall, I’m pretty happy with my output last week. Getting stuff done and moving the year right along. Feels good, man.

What’s next?

  • Publish two book reviews
  • Another round of edits on Lifelike
  • Finish Sanctified chapter 34
  • Finish reading Gunpowder Moon
  • Edit two chapters of The Steel Armada
  • Review Madhu’s pages

Really, I’m just in a holding pattern of productivity. Which was the point of establishing all these goals. So, my plan is working! Hooray! I don’t expect to hear back about The Seasons for at least another three weeks, so I’ll want to keep myself busy so the nerves and doubt to make a comeback.

Also, this week is officially “mid-March” which means I could hear back about that writing conference any day now. Keeping busy will be the key to my sanity over the next two weeks.

It has been a little bit of a struggle to edit the two chapters of The Steel Armada each week. It’s difficult, especially because there is so. much. rewriting. Like, so much. I cut two scenes, totaling over 1,000 words, and still managed to add another 650 words to the chapter. But, it’s a good kind of challenging. I feel amazing when I complete a chapter, if more than a little exhausted. I’m going to stick to that goal for now, and if it proves too much to handle I can always drop it back down.

I’ll be back sometime mid-week to talk about The Scorpio Races, and if all goes well, again over the weekend to talk about Gunpowder Moon. My reading is slowing slightly, since Snow Patrol their new album(!!!!!!!!!!), so we’ll see if I can keep up with two book reviews a week.

Until later,

 

BZ

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Goals Summary 2018 – Wk 9

It’s a rare bright and sunny morning here in the Pacific Northwest. If only it were warm enough to sit outside and enjoy it, but my poor, thin desert blood doesn’t find 42 degrees comfortable, no matter the sunshine. So, instead, let’s talk about goals!

What was I supposed to do?

  • Publish 2 book reviews
  • Finish Sanctified chapter 33
  • Finish reading Semiosis
  • Edit 2 chapters of The Steel Armada
  • Edit Lifelike

How’d I do?

  • Publish 2 book reviews
  • Finish Sanctified chapter 33
    • Done-diddly-un. I also posted chapter 32 and got a very tiny start on chapter 34, aka, the last chapter!
  • Finish Semiosis
    • I tried my damnedest to finish this book today, before I needed to publish this post. Unfortunately, I still have about 100 pages to go. It’s not really the kind of book you can just speed through. I’ll get it done in the next couple of days.
  • Edit 2 chapters of The Steel Armada
    • YEP! That was a concerted effort. Revising/rewriting two chapters in two days is not my idea of a good time. But it was damn productive. I’m really pleased with the progress and changes that I’m making so far.
  • Edit Lifelike
    • YES! This was another task I didn’t think I’d actually get done. But, I buckled down and made it happen, pretty much entirely because it had been a goal for February and I refused to neglect it. The white board proved itself extremely valuable, yet again. In Draft 4 I changed the narrator’s point of view and added a much needed line toward the end. It’s not done yet, but it’s definitely much closer.

Weekly Word Count: 4,284

What’s Next?

  • Publish two book reviews
  • Review/submit The Seasons 
  • Write 1000 words on Sanctified chapter 34
  • Finish listening to The Scorpio Races
  • Edit 2 chapters of The Steel Armada
  • Review and return Madhu’s pages

That’s a lot for one week. It’s ambitious, but I’ve got a bit of momentum behind me, and enough residual vitamin D coupled with a heavy dose of caffeine to convince myself it’s doable.

 

I’ve got reviews for Dark Deeds and Semiosis forthcoming, so keep an eye out for them. I’m really excited to talk about them both.

This last chapter of Sanctified has me… anxious. It’s a lot of action that ties up all the plot and creates the springboard for the final installment. Endings are always daunting, and to be perfectly honest, I’m reticent to say goodbye to this story. But, it’ll be good and I’ll get it done.

Scorpio racesFinishing The Scorpio Races won’t be hard. I am loving this audiobook, and constantly find excuses to sit in my car and just listen to it. I’m confident I’ll get it done.

Editing another two chapters of The Steel Armada is starting to feel par for the course. I know what changes I want to make, I know where they need to happen (for the most part), so I just have to sit down and make it so.Make-It-So

Madhu’s pages are a new addition to my weekly workload. I need to get better at incorporating them and getting them back to her on the schedule we agreed upon. That’s my goal for this week.

You might have noticed that I skipped my second bullet point. I’m terrified of it. Like, that squirming sensation in your guts afraid. I’m nervous and uncomfortable when I think about it, but I’m also beyond excited to start the submission process again. I expect I’ll have a lot to say on the subject in the coming weeks.

That’s the docket for Week 10. I’m calling Week 9 a success, and looking forward to the challenges ahead! I’ll see you all soon with the book review for Dark Deeds!

 

BZ

The Recap – February 2018

Hello Everyone,

I can’t believe February is over already! I think I feel this way each year, because it’s difficult for me to understand how missing a couple days of the month makes such a big difference. Two or three days should not make February feel like a blip on the radar of the year.

But, it does, and it makes working toward my goals that much more frantic.

What were the goals?

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

How’d I do?

  • Edit four chapters of The Steel Armada
    • Yes! I worked really hard to get two chapters edited on Tuesday and Wednesday, which means I finished 4 chapters in February and one in January. I’m feeling good about it.
  • Finish Sanctified
    • Nope. But, I’m close. Only a chapter and half left.
  • Get Lifelike submission ready
    • Yes? I’m not sure. I did another edit of it last night. I switched the POV from third to first person and added a much needed tweak to the ending, but I’m not sure if it’s ready for submission just yet. I like it, it’s headed in the right direction, but it needs fine tuning. I’m still calling this a win.
  • Keep reading
    • Yep! I read something like seven books in February, boosting my Reading Challenge and giving me plenty of fodder for book reviews.

Total February Word Count: 6,623

Any icing on the cake?

  • I published 10 blog posts in February
    • 3 weekly summaries, 5 book reviews, 1 monthly recap, and 1 craft discussion
  • Applied for a scholarship to the Oregon Writers Colony 2018 Annual Conference
    • I’m trying not to think too much about this, because I’m nervous and excited, but it’s constantly in the back of my mind. They’ll announce award recipients sometime in mid-March. Prepare yourselves for that post when it comes.Audient Void issue 4
  • The Audient Void #5
    • I’ve taken on more duties with AV, helping the graphic designer look through the proofs before he finalizes and prints. This is always exciting, because it means another issue is about to drop!
  • Sharing revisions of The Steel Armada
    • As of 2/26, Madhu and I are back to swapping pages for feedback. She’s working on something new, while I’m sending her the reworks of my novel, per her feedback from our previous swap.

March Goals

  • Edit five chapters of The Steel Armada
  • Finish Sanctified
  • Submit The Seasons
  • Continue prepping Lifelike for submission
  • Keep reading!

Thoughts

I’ve got a lot of them. They’re bouncing around my brain and keeping my anxiety up. Mainly, I’m anxious about submitting The Seasons. I haven’t submitted a piece of short fiction for publication since… 2014? And I’ve never submitted a piece of genre fiction.

Caladria logo
RIP, Caladria

Okay, yes, there was that stint with Caladria where I wrote a handful of Fantasy short stories and they were published. But that was more like a volunteer effort. They asked for writers to pump out content, and though I got some great experience writing on a deadline and feedback from editors, those stories are no longer available for purchase. They just sit in my “Caladria” file folder, collecting virtual dust.

So, this feels much more real and scary. I like The Seasons a lot. I think it’s strong. I think it’s ready. But, I just don’t know if it’s pro status. And that’s the real issue. I’m only submitting to professional markets. I want paid for my work. I don’t want resume padding and feathers in my cap. I want monetary proof that what I’m doing is worthwhile.

And so, I’m terrified.

I’m also anxious because I really want to go to this writing conference in April, and I’ll find out in a couple of weeks if I’ll be able to attend or not. I know the time will fly by, but until I know for certain whether I’ll be going or not, I’m on eggshells.

Lifelike is coming along nicely. I did some quality reworking on it last night. I actually let my husband read it, which is something I almost never do. He’s not a big reader, so his feedback isn’t critical or experienced, but he’s smart and can give a good sense of what works and what doesn’t in a story. At least, from a reader’s point of view. I’ve also sent the story back to my friend Matt, who read a previous version of it, to see what he thinks of the rework. I’m going to let it stew for the next few days and come back to it next week and see what it needs.

Other than that, I’m just reading and editing. The Steel Armada is coming along well enough. It’s a big job, and there’s some major changes that take a considerable amount of time and rewriting. Characters are getting cut/absorbed into other characters, everyone is getting fleshed out more. Backstories and motivations are becoming clearer, to me and to the reader. And holy-moly there’s so much world building! I’m worried about pacing a little, but I figure that’ll get sorted in the next draft. Right now I just need to get everything out on the page and really nail down what’s happening and why. I can clean up the mess later.

The good news is that I’m editing about 2 chapters a week. If I keep the pace up, I’ll have this draft of The Steel Armada done by June. And that is some exciting shit. If that does happen, I’ll let it sit for a month or so, and really focus on writing. I’ll either return to writing From the Quorum, or write a new short story, depends on how I feel in June.Oathbringer

As for reading, I’m doing well. I’m currently two books ahead of my target, and I’ve got four more in the pipeline. Hopefully I can keep up the pace and pad that Goodreads Reading Challenge before I finally crack open Oathbringer. 1,233 pages is no joke, and it’s going to take considerable time to get through it all. I don’t want to fall behind because of it, so I’m reading smaller titles and graphic novels for the time being.

So, that’s my thoughts/feelings/concerns etc., etc.,  about March. There’s a lot going on, but so far my efforts to piecemeal everything out into Monthly and Weekly goals is working. I’m getting shit done. And that’s really all that matters.

I’m off to work on Sanctified. I’ll be back over the weekend to share my review of The Stone Sky, so make sure you stay tuned!

 

BZ

Goals Summary 2018 – Wk 7

Hi Blogland!

Sorry that I didn’t post last Monday like I thought I would. Prepping for our trip was pretty much all consuming until late Tuesday evening. Then we flew off into the dry “cold” of the Valley of the Sun, otherwise known as Phoenix. The weather was fantastic while we were there, high 50s/low 60s and sunshine. So much sunshine. It was wonderful.

Gert's Wedding
What a nice day for a white wedding.

Since we were on vacation there were no goals for last week, but I didn’t get to discuss week 7 at all before we left!

What was I supposed to do?

  • Publish two Book Reviews
  • Start Sanctified chapter 33
  • Finish reading The Stone SkyThe Stone Sky
  • Edit 2 chapters of The Steel Armada

Aaaaaand?

  • Publish two book reviews
  • Start Sanctified chapter 33
    • Yep! Got a little over 600 words down. Not anything too crazy but a solid start.
  • Finish reading The Stone Sky
    • Well… Yes? I didn’t get it done during week 7. But, I did finish it Tuesday night before we left on our trip, which was what I really wanted. I’m calling it a win.
  • Edit two chapters of The Steel Armada
    • No. Not even a little bit. Not even close.

Weekly Word Count: 648

Anything else?

I did manage to read Dark Deeds during our flights and in some of the quieter moments in the evenings. I finished it on the flight home yesterday, so that feels darn good. Also, I applied for a scholarship to attend the Oregon Writers Colony 2018 Writer’s Conference!OWC logo The conference is in April, held at a book themed hotel on the coast. They’ll announce the winners sometime mid-March. Also, Madhu and I agreed to start sharing our revisions with one another again at the end of the month.

 

So, what’s next?

  • Publish two book reviews
  • Finish Sanctified chapter 33
  • Finish reading SemiosisSemiosis
  • Edit 2 chapters of The Steel Armada
  • Edit Lifelike

That’s a big list and it’s already Tuesday! There’s also the end of the month looming, which means I’ve got today and tomorrow to get some major work done! Expect to see me back here on Thursday to discuss how February went, and then again throughout the weekend with the book reviews for The Stone Sky and Dark Deeds.

Until then,

 

BZ

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

Goals Summary – Wk 5

Hey Blogland,

It’s late, so I’m going to make this quick.

Last Week

  • Publish 2 book reviews
  • Start Sanctified chapter 32
  • Finish reading Shockaholic
  • Edit Lifelike and The Season
  • Edit chapter 1 of The Steel Armada

 

The Results

  • Publish two book reviews
  • Start Sanctified chapter 32
    • Done. Wrote 1,517 words of it. Posted another installment to the related short story collection.
  • Finish reading Shockaholic
    • Done. Not my favorite, but a decent enough listen for my short commute.
  • Edit Lifelike and The Season
    • Done. My friend Matt got me his feedback before he went on vacation this weekend. Per his suggestions I was able to fine tune The Season and start a rewrite of Lifelike. I’m going to give The Season a bit of space to see if distance highlights any weaknesses, but I’m confident that it’s very nearly ready to submit. Lifelike is still very much in progress. This story has dogged me for years, and it’s taken a long time for me to uncover its bones. I have them dug up now, but they need proper assembly. This might take some time, but I’m feeling good about it.
  • Edit chapter 1 of The Steel Armada
    • Done. I was really hesitant to do it, as I’ve been with this whole project. But, I sat down and really hashed out a lot of my world-building issues and helped streamline some plot points by introducing them sooner. I also added about 500 words, which brought the word count total for that chapter over the minimum goal! Overall, I’m counting it a great success.

Weekly Word Count: 2,079

I’m pretty much flying high right now. It always feels so damn good to see my goals switch from the red pen to the black one as I complete them. It’s really nice to see things marked ‘Done’. Here’s hoping this momentum continues.

What’s Next

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

Dresden Turn CoatThis list feels pretty small, but there’s actually a lot of work here. The blog posts aren’t so bad. I’ve got the book review of Turn Coat to do, and a bonus Craft Discussion post drafted. This should be the easiest part of the week. I’m halfway through Sanctified chapter 32 already, so wrapping that up shouldn’t be too bad. It’s building up to the final action of the story, so it takes a steady hand, but it’s well underway.

Iron Gold

Iron Gold is really good so far, I’m just reading really slowly because I never seem to have free time just to sit. Audiobooks are saving my life, since I can listen to them while I drive or do chores around the house. Unfortunately, I do not have the Iron Gold audiobook, and quite frankly, I don’t want it. I’m really enjoying developing the voices of these new characters, as well as rediscovering Darrow’s. But, the book is due back on the 10th, and because there are holds on it, I can’t renew it. I have five days to read ~500 pages.

Yikes.

And of course, last is the biggest hurdle of them all. Editing chapter 1 of The Steel Armada was less painful than I’d imagined. I’m really hoping that proves to be the case throughout this process. To help myself along, I’m reading The Last Draft by Sandra Scofield, and doing my best to do the exercises and implement her strategies. It’s good so far, but I’m only 61 pages in. We’ll see how it goes as I dig deeper into her book, and mine.The Last Draft

So, basically, I have a crap-ton of books to read, a novel and two short stories to edit, and somehow not nearly enough time to do it all. Or, at least, that’s how I feel. But, these past week’s of summaries tell a different story. I’m doing well, setting achievable goals and meeting them. Mostly.

And damn if it doesn’t feel good.

Until later, Blogland.

BZ

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