The next chapter: December 2019 update and year-end wrap-up

Here we are at the beginning of a new year and a new decade. The possibilities seem endless. I hope you’ve all set reasonable goals and are diving into your work with passion and compassion.

The month in writing

Dec2019Progress

In December, my focus was on continuing to rewrite Reality Bomb. I set my goal at 500 words per day or 15,500 words for the month. I wrote 12,131 words, or 78% of my goal.

The only other thing on my writing plate was this blog. I wrote 4,789 words of my 4,250-word goal, or 113%.

And that’s it.

2019 in review

I started off the year ambitiously, as I always do (more on that in a bit). In addition to finishing drafting book five of my epic fantasy series, Tamisashki, roughly revising RB for presentation to my critique group, blogging, and my bi-monthly Speculations column for DIY MFA, I’d decided to write, revise, and submit one short story per month, revise a poetry collection and two collections of my previously published short fiction.

Add to that my involvement in the critique group, which meant—surprise—critiquing some of my partners’ work, attending Ad Astra, Can-Con, and Wordstock Sudbury, and I had a fuller-than-usual plate. Yes, I was finally over my burnout, but I suspected, even as I set these ambitious goals, that I wasn’t up to accomplishing all of them.

Yeah. While I did revise my poetry collection (and wrote a new poem—yay, me), I only managed to write and revise one short story and start on one more before I realized that the one-story-per-month goal was untenable. I never got to either of the short story collections aside from putting them on my 2019 Writing and Revision Tracker.

I did write one side project, a guest post about writers’ grief for WarpWorld, but that was the only unplanned writing I did.

So, I adjusted my goals. Several times. But what I have on this summary page is what I ended up with.

2019Progress

On the writing side of things, I did rather well. Of my collective 114,150-word goal, I wrote 138,875 words, or 122%.

I revised (or rewrote) 123, 155 words of my 157,110-word goal, or only 78%.

Interestingly, the average of my writing and revision percentages is 100%.

Still, between writing and revising, I produced 262,030 words in 2019. That’s over a quarter of a million words. I’m damned pleased with that.

Filling the well

I relaxed in December. I’m fairly certain that I, like many people in northern Ontario, suffer from some degree of seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Self-care is important for me at this time of year. Accordingly, I spent a quiet holiday with family.

Consider me a bear. Winter is my time to hibernate 🙂

What I’m watching and reading

With regard to series, Phil and I watched the new Watchmen series and His Dark Materials in December.

We liked Watchmen because it was consistent with the feeling of the graphic novels and, to some extent, the movie. It was a slow burn to start with, which we don’t mind, particularly in this case, as everything came together in a truly surprising twist. The denouement was satisfying, and the cliffhanger was something that, while I’d be happy to see what happens next, if a second season isn’t in the cards, I would be satisfied with the possibilities it presents without needing a definitive answer.

His Dark Materials was well done, better than the movie, in any case. As in many adaptations, changes were made that would better serve the medium, and I appreciated many of the decisions made for this iteration of Phil Pullman’s novels. I liked the actors and the incorporation of Will’s plotline into this season. A solid season and I hope BBC’s collaboration with HBO will continue.

We started watching Witcher, but it was more of a gap-filler and Phil gave up after the third episode. We didn’t even get through the first episode of the second season of Lost in Space before Phil walked away. I’ll probably pick up both when I’ve made some room on my personal Netflix viewing.

Reading-wise, I grabbed Erin Morgenstern’s The Starless Sea right after Call Down the Hawk. I enjoyed it right up to the ending, which was confusing and unsatisfying for that reason.

Then, I picked up Diana Gabaldon’s collection of novellas, Seven Stones to Stand or Fall. It was a bit of a cheat because I’d read all but two in their individual novella forms. I’m a big Gabaldon fan, though, and I like the way she writes into the gaps in her larger series of books.

Next, I read Tomi Adeyemi’s Children of Virtue and Vengeance. It was okay but suffered from many of the same problems as the first book in the series. The characters are all moving between love and hate for themselves and one another so quickly that I got whiplash. I understand that this is YA and the characters are all teenagers, but there were several points at which I felt that the drama was just too much.

Six of Crows was much stronger than Shadow and Bone. Maybe Leigh Bardugo is better at ensemble casts, or heist plots? The characters were stronger and had more agency. They felt more grounded and complex. Whatever the reason, I enjoyed it.

To finish off the year, I returned to a couple of classics. Charles Dickens’ The Chimes, and A.A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh. Dickens has a fondness for ghosts and time travel lessons. Winnie was just charming.

I’d set myself a reading goal for the year of 50 books and ended up reading 71 (!) or 142% of my goal.

What’s up in 2020

I think I’ve finally learned my lesson, writing-wise. I’ve focused in on what I need to do and let my ambitions amuse themselves.

Given my reduced—but still good—production, I’m giving myself until the end of April to finish the rewrite of RB. The core story remains the same, but the content is different enough that it is like writing a new novel. Accordingly, while I counted the work I did in November and December as revision, I’m counting everything in 2020 as writing.

Then, I’m going to begin work on revision/rewriting Marushka. I’d put it up for critique in early 2019 but didn’t feel as strongly about getting back to it as I did about RB. I have to make some decisions about this novel which could entail a significant rewrite … or not. I’ll make those decisions when I review the novel and the critique feedback.

Throughout the year, I’m going to be steadily working on the Ascension series. I should finish my initial reread by the end of January. Then, I’m going to work on the series bible and revision notes on all five novels. By November, I should be ready to tackle revision/rewrites on book one.

I’ll blog, as usual and keep up with my Speculations column. If I can fit it in, I’ll work on some short fiction. I haven’t made any hard and fast goals with respect to the short fiction, though. If it has to go by the wayside, so be it.

The one last thing I’m going to do is shop the poetry collection around, as well as some of my unpublished poems, to see if I can’t do something with them.

2020Goals

I’ll likely attend Ad Astra, Can-Con, and Wordstock again.

So, my plans are much more modest this year. I’m hoping I won’t have to sacrifice much more than the short fiction.

I’ve set my reading goal for 60 books this year, but I’m not sure I’ll achieve it. I put off reading several monster books that I’ll probably tackle in 2020.

By the way, if you like the Writing and Revision Tracker in the screen shots, Jamie Raintree created it. Please do yourself a favour and visit her website to find out more.

That’s it for this update. I generally do them on the first weekend of every month.

Until next time, be well, be kind, and stay strong. The world needs your stories.

The Next Chapter

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Oct 18-24, 2015

Whee! The countdown to Can-con and NaNoWriMo has begun!

I’m all a-squee!

K.M. Weiland answers a reader’s question: How do I keep writing during NaNo when all I want to is watch football?

Katie describes how to make your hero’s self-sacrifice even more heart-breaking.

Jan O’Hara explores those times when dark emotions threaten your writing. Writer Unboxed.

Dan Blank compares copying others and failing vs. forging your own path on Writer Unboxed.

Veronica Sicoe looks at the power of momentum and the three c’s of productivity.

Maya Sapiurka teaches us how to cure writer’s block. Time.

C.S. MacCath gives us a strategy for writing through an emotional block.

Catherine Ryan Howard gives us a virtual tour of her writing space: where the crying happens.

Joanna Penn presents seven things to fix in your first self-edit.

Chuck Sambuchino guest posts on Carly Watters’ blog with seven tips to help you craft your novel’s pitch.

Ruthanne Reid provides a lesson in world building 101. The Write Practice.

Liz Bourke writes about strong female characters and the double standard. Tor.com.

Jamie Gold offers great tips for and examples of writing diversity (without issues).

Noah Charney describes the not-quite end of the book tour. The Atlantic.

George Saunders shares his writing education in The New Yorker.

Was there a real-life Rochester in Charlotte Bronte’s life? The Telegraph.

Has sci-fi become a 21st century religion? The Guardian.

Emil Lendof of The Daily Beast introduces us to Brian K. Vaughan, the comic visionary behind Y: The Last Man.

The Jessica Jones trailer:

And the heresy of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies:

I guess it’s trailer day on Tipsday. Here’s the supercut trailer for The Force Awakens:

Charlie Jane Anders lists 50 science fiction movies that everyone should see at least once. i09.

Grammarly shares 20 jokes for grammar nerds.

BuzzFeed presents 17 rooms for book lovers.

Seven celebrities recite Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven.” MentalFloss.

Come on back for Thoughty Thursday!

Tipsday

Series discoveries: anime edition

This weekend, I’m going to talk about the anime series Phil and I have been watching. Next weekend, I’m going to finally put forward my fall series review, even though some of them won’t have premiered yet (Supergirl) or returned (Grimm) yet.

The reason for this is that over the Hallowe’en weekend, Phil and I will be travelling to Ottawa for Can-con, so I won’t be blogging that weekend, and then, for the month of November, weekend blogging will be deferred in favour of NaNoWriMo (!)

Since I will be once more be working, and travelling for work, during the month of November, I don’t anticipate “winning,” but I certainly hope to improve upon last year’s word count.

So the next two weekends are a countdown to November’s reduced posting schedule. I’ll keep up with curation, but that’s it.

Onto the anime!

Last time, I’d mentioned that Phil and I were enjoying Log Horizon. We were, and then the show suddenly stopped production. With in a week, we learned the reason. The creator of the show was charged with tax evasion.

LH was, at the time, the most popular anime in Japan. Fans were demanding that the show’s creator be allowed to continue producing the show while he waited for his trial date. The creator announced publicly that if there was a way to continue to do so, that he would.

We haven’t seen an episode since.

It was getting to a crisis point in the current story arc. We are disappointed.

We watched the full run of Deadman Wonderland.

Interesting premise. In a society that incarcerates its citizens for the smallest infraction, a young boy finds himself in prison. Before long, he learns that by entering a deadly competition (televised for an elite, high-paying clientele), he can earn a pardon.

Very Hunger Games.

Then, joy of joys, Netflix picked up the licence for Inu Yasha. Just the first two seasons, but we watched it all. Yum.

Phil continues to watch Gintama, and started watching the live action version of Death Note. The live action DN diverged a bit from the anime storyline, but it was popular enough that the second season is in production.

We watched another new show, RWBY. It’s American, and animated a little differently, cell style, but done by computer. RWBY stands for both the colours red, white, blue, and yellow, and for the characters’ names: Ruby, Weiss, Blake, and Yang.

They’re huntresses in an academy and they are training to hunt the Creatures of Grimm, with which the human race is fighting a pitched battle. Huntresses use dust to fuel their magic and fight the Grimm.

There’s a bit of a story around this series, as well. Marty Oum, the creator, died, but someone on the project committed to seeing the work through and the next season will be released next week. After that, who knows?

We’ve continued watching Fairy Tail, which continues to be entertaining. I find it a bit frustrating that we have to wait a whole week for the next episode, though.

We also started watching World Trigger. A world receives extra-dimensional visitors, called Neighbors, who seem bent on conquest. To defend themselves, they adapt the Neighbors’ weapons, called triggers, which can only be used by people who have large stores of a substance called trion, and create an agency called Border. Border agents train to defeat the Neighbors.

The anime focuses on Osamu and his team. Osamu does not have a lot of trion, but he is an amazing strategist. His friend, Yuma, is a Neighbor (if you want the back story, watch the series) and has a lot of combat experience. Chika’s brother (also Osamu’s friend) and best friend were abducted by the Neighbors. She has a lot of trion.

Trion and trigger use also endow some users with side effects. Yuma can tall when someone is lying. Chika can sense the presence of Neighbors. Osamu doesn’t have enough trion to have a side effect.

The threesome is a team and currently in a competition to see who will be chosen to go on away missions into the Neighbor dimensions to rescue their friends and family.

This show is also still in production, but is on hiatus now.

We tried watching Fate Zero, but weren’t keen.

And that’s all I have for you with regard to anime. See, I told you we’d dialled back 😉

Have a great week, and I’ll be back to review the fall season of TV for you. The stuff I watch, anyway 🙂

Series Discoveries

The Next Chapter: December 2014 update and a year in the writerly life

Janus has two heads so he can look back and ahead. Plus, you really can’t make meaningful progress unless you take some time to reflect on your accomplishments and understand where your journey has brought you to this point.

Let’s start with December, shall we?

In the wake of NaNoWriMo, I needed a wee respite from the purely creative writing. I kept up with my regular blog posts and caught up on a few things that happened in November that I had set aside posting about because of the aforementioned NaNo.

I returned to Marushka after a few days, though, because the force is strong in this one 😉 Also, I have to finish my shit (Wendigism).

Toward the end of the month, though, I wanted to get another short fiction submission revised and sent.

December 2014 writing progress

So at the end of the month, I’d written a total of 15,167 words, 8,812 of them on the blog, 6,234 on Marushka, and 121 on the short story.

What about 2014?

It was a good year, I think.

Since it was the first year I tracked my writerly output, I really have nothing to compare it to, but I know I’ve written more words in this year than I did in 2013 or any year before that.

The highlights:

“The Broken Places” was published in Bastion Science Fiction Magazine in its June issue.

“On the Ferry” won second place in the In Places Between contest.

“Downtime” will be in the fall 2014 issue of On Spec Magazine. The issue hasn’t come out yet (long story short—please subscribe or support them on their Patreon page), but I’m still pleased as punch.

I have writerly income to report on my tax return for the second year in a row!

I’ve put “The Broken Places” and “Downtime” in the short story category in the Auroras. It’s my first year doing this kind of thing, so we’ll see how it goes.

Overall, I submitted six short stories for publication. This is fewer than in past years, but given my greater focus on my larger projects, I’m happy with this.

I attended Ad Astra, CanWrite!, and When Words Collide conferences, and workshops by Brian Henry and The Humber School for Writers.

In 2014, I have written:

  • 110,361 words on this blog
  • 34,589 words on Marushka
  • 21,464 words on Gerod and the Lions
  • 3,521 words of short fiction
  • 3,161 words on Apprentice of Wind
  • 2,384 words on Figments
  • Total: 175,480

2014 Summary

That’s a fuckload of words. Sorry. I felt the profanity appropriate.

Plus, I mapped out and reverse engineered both IoS and Figments, and revised some of IoS.

I am still eternally grateful to Jamie Raintree for her wonderful Excel spreadsheet. This year’s has enough project slots that I don’t have to modify it 🙂 Also, it appears to have a way to track drafting and revisions. I’m excited to see how it works out.

For the second year in a row, the most popular posts on my blog have been those I wrote back in 2012. Dress for Success has been consistently popular. I didn’t think a post about writing in my pyjamas would have been so compelling. Go figure.

Eight Metaphors for Persistence . . . is also a heavily viewed post. I appreciate that a bit more because it was the first post on this iteration of the blog and spoke to how I picked up the pieces after being hacked.

Still, I would like to see some of my book reviews, or conference reportage posts, rank higher.

My overall views on the blog went down from last year. In 2013 I filled the Sydney Opera House five times. In 2014 I only filled it four times.

I take all this with a grain of salt, however, as the number of my followers through WordPress has only grown and at 373, I’m closing in on 400 followers. That’s not bad for three years of blogging when I don’t have a book to sell.

Those who receive my posts via email, or who can read them through WordPress may not be counted because they haven’t actually visited the site.

Personally, as long as you’re enjoying what you read, I’m good. I’m a fan of the slow build.

What’s ahead for 2015?

I’ve you’ve read me for any length of time, you’ll know I don’t go in for resolutions. I set goals and manage my projects on an ongoing basis, sometimes re-evaluating and adjusting my goals to account for the dreaded scope creep 🙂

That’s all stuff I learned from the project management I have to do for work. It’s also similar to the dreaded underwear creep (damnit, not another wedgie).

In all seriousness, I intend to revise and submit several more short stories throughout the year. I also intend to write a few new ones.

I intend to finish my first drafts of Marushka (goal length approximately 76,000 words) and GatL (goal length approximately 50,000 words). I can manage this at a pace of about 5,000 words a month. I’ll finish Marushka first, because it’s where my head is at the moment, and then return to work on GatL afterward.

I will revise IoS and finally (FINALLY) start querying. This is so long overdue, I can’t even. Can’t. Even.

I will move onto revisions of Figments once I start querying IoS.

I will map and reverse engineer AoW and probably Marushka.

I don’t think I’ll be able to manage much more than that for the bulk of the year.

I will again engage in the NaNoWriMo Challenge, even though I will be working through the month of November. I was very pleased with the 2014 results, even though it wasn’t a “win,” per se.

For financial reasons, I’m going to stay close to home this year with conferences and conventions. Most likely Ad Astra and Can-Con.

My big expense, professional development-wise, will be a writing retreat in the summer (if I can swing the leave from work—summer’s a peak time and it’s always a big deal), also local.

I’m facilitating my first writing workshop in years in February. You know I’ll be blogging that one 🙂

And the rest will be based on opportunities as they come my way.

I like preparing my Tipsday and Thoughty Thursday curation posts on the weekend for easier distribution (and more writing time) through the week.

Aside from that, the bloggage will come out of my writerly life, as it usually does.

I have one more post to go before the night is over.

See you shortly 🙂

The Next Chapter