The next chapter: March 2019 update

Here we are in April. My mind still boggles at how quickly the time passes. On the other hand, I never have enough time to get everything done that I want to. I seriously need to be more mindful. It might help me in my goal-setting to be more realistic in what I can do.

The month in writing and revision

In March, I continued drafting Tamisashki. My goal was to write 16,802 words and I wrote 16,796 words. Technically, that’s 100%, though I was 6 words short of my goal. (Pthbt!) The big difference is that I ended up writing through the last couple of weekends. I would have fallen far short, otherwise. I missed having my weekend breaks, but I wasn’t producing enough weekdays to give myself that luxury.

As I had mentioned in my 2018 review/2019 planning post, the day job is kicking into high gear now that we’re in April. As I expected, I won’t be able to keep up my drafting pace much longer. More work-related stress equals less energy for my creative pursuits. It is what it is.

I made an interesting discover with regard to my blogging goals. Somehow, at the beginning of my year, I DOUBLED all of my monthly blogging goals. Why the heck did I do that to myself? This means that I’ve actually met and exceeded all of my monthly blogging goals so far this year. This month, my goal was (once I realized my math error—I am numerically illiterate, I guess) 2,600 words. I blogged 3,699 words, or 142% of my goal.

It was my intention to get roughly half of my next Speculations column completed in March. This didn’t happen.

With respect to my short fiction goals, I had wanted to finish January’s story and two more shorter pieces to catch up on my short fiction challenge. I did, finally, finish January’s story and I got another 600 words on a new story, but I also submitted my completed short for critique and got distracted revising January’s story. I wrote 1,801 words and revise 1,547 words … My goal was 2,500 words. So … yay?

Initially, I’d thought I’d be revising around 21 poems for my collection. I only had 4 left that I deem to be publishable. I’m now in the process of transferring the poems into a clean document for submission. I have reconsidered my decision to self-publish, at least immediately. I’m going to try a few small presses before I bite the self-publishing bullet.

MarchProgress

Filling the well

On March 2nd, I went to see the Sudbury production of The Vagina Monologues. A few friends, including Kim Fahner and Liisa Kovala were in the production and another friend, Sarah Gartshore, produced.

It was a charity performance and tailored to the local performance, including some uniquely Canadian euphemisms for vagina, and a very compelling piece on missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.

The proceeds went to SWANS, the Sex Worker Assistance Network of Sudbury. It was a great night.

What I read and watched this month

I followed Rebecca Roanhorse’s Trail of Lightning up with Waubgeshig Rice’s Moon of the Crusted Snow. Like Roanhorse’s novel, Rice’s was set in a post-apocalyptic world, but in MotCS, the apocalypse is recent, and the story is told through the lives and experiences of the Anishnaabe residents of a fictional northern reserve.

It’s a slow burn at the beginning. Having recently secured reliable internet, cable, and cell phone service, the power outage that isolates the reserve is initially unremarkable. They’ve gotten so used to disruptions resulting from poor infrastructure that the chief and council has set aside diesel to run their generators, and most homes have wood stoves or furnaces for heat.

But winter is coming and, as the outage proves permanent, two young men, away at college, return home on snow machines, having escaped the chaos of the modern, white world denied the services we’ve come to rely on. When a white survivalist follows the snow machine tracks, the situation gets interesting, and increasingly dangerous. I loved it.

I finished Peter Godfrey-Smith’s Other Minds, about cephalopod intelligence and how it diverged from our own evolution and development.

I read Putting the Science in Fiction, edited (and contributed to) by Dan Koboldt. If you write science fiction and you aren’t a scientist yourself, you really need to pick this book up. It’s the least you should know about science from a number of disciplines.

Finally, I read Tomi Adeyemi’s Children of Blood and Bone. It’s a young adult fantasy set in a created world based on West African mythology and the Yoruban culture and language. I liked it a lot, though the author couldn’t quite commit to her grimdark premise.

I went to my first theatre movie of the year: Captain Marvel. Like I’d miss that one 🙂 I loved it, even though it didn’t tread a lot of new ground. I’m looking forward to Endgame, now, and will probably drag Phil out to that one, too.

I finally finished season 2 of Wynonna Earp. I missed a lot of the later episodes because of a scheduling conflict and no PVR. It was a little weird, because I managed to catch all of season 3 when it aired. I was literally filling in the missing pieces. It was enjoyable because of the quirky characters and chick power, though the same qualities are also the source of some of my biggest complaints about the storytelling.

The rest of what I/we are watching right now is in progress. I’ve decided that I’ll refrain from commenting on the seasons/series that I haven’t finished watching yet. I tend to be a little slow in this respect, because I only watch Netflix/Amazon Prime on the weekends, and since I typically watch seasons/series as they come out, I often have 6 or 7 of them that I’m cycling through.

And that was March in this writer’s life.

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

The Next Chapter

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The next chapter: February 2019 update

Here we are in March and the goals I set at the beginning of the year are falling apart.

FebruaryProgress

Once again, I managed to meet and marginally exceed my monthly drafting goal for Tamisashki. I aimed for 15,176 words and wrote 15,561, so 103%. Once again, I tried to aim for more production during the week so I could rest on the weekends 🙂

I undershot on the blog again, writing 3,824 of 4,200 words, or 91%.

My latest DIY MFA column was due, and I wrote 1,091 words of my 1,000-word goal, or 109%. Yay there.

My short fiction is where I’ve dropped the ball pen. My intention was to finish my January story and then write a flash piece for February. I didn’t manage to do either. I did write another 1,186 words on my January story and I’m in sight of the end, but then there’s revision, critique, and a final edit to get through before I send it out into the wild.

I ended up writing 47% of my short fiction goal and not even finishing a story. Ah well. I suck at short. It’s something I hope to change, but it’s tough going. I’ve had to cut back the story several times and I keep thinking that sacrificing content makes the story weaker. This isn’t the case, necessarily. It is my perception, though, and probably one of the reasons short is so difficult for me.

I also fell short on the poetry editing. I made it through all the poems that I had previously compiled in the collection, most (but not all) of them previously published and am now in a position of adding in the poems that I have written since I last worked on the project and deciding where they go. I also have to rearrange some of the poems. There is one section that I created that only has three poems in it. I figure I can find places for them elsewhere and make things flow a bit better. Finally, there’s one sprawling poem that I want to restructure. I had done this previously, but I seem to have lost all trace of the document 😦

Because of this change in emphasis, I decided to give it a bit of a break while I rally that part of my writerly brain geared up for the next push. I edited 23 of 28 poems, or 82% of my goal.

Overall, I write 21,662 words of my 22,876-word goal, or 95% for the month. The poetry was the only revision project on my radar right now and so I managed 82% of my revision goal.

Filling the well

I attended the Dbaajmawak Indigenous Writers’ Series on Feb 28, 2019. It was hosted by Greg Scofield in the Brenda Wallace Reading Room at Laurentian University. This session featured authors were Waubgeshig Rice and Rosanna Deerchild.

I’m currently reading Waub’s novel, Moon of the Crusted Snow. I’d picked it up at Wordstock last fall but didn’t have a chance to get him to sign it. Mission accomplished 🙂

Rosanna’s reading of her powerful poetry gave me the shivers several times, prompting me to get her latest collection, calling down the sky, and get her to sign it as well.

I participated in the Writing the Other Building Inclusive Worlds course, and while I didn’t get to several of the writing assignments, the lectures and discussions were great. I’m a newbie in this arena and very hesitant to speak, or write, my thoughts. It was a challenge, but in a good way. I’m finding my way to awareness of my own biases, dismantling my assumptions, and learning to be a good ally, if nothing else.

I also took part in Dan Blank’s Social Media for Writers Facebook group. I enjoy his videos and insights. More than anything else, it confirms that I’m on the right track, though I really do need to put together an author newsletter. It’s work for the future, once I have my poetry collection and short fiction collections out. I’ll probably look at migrating this blog from WordPress.com to a self-hosted version at that time, as well, but again, in the future. And I’ll have to see how other aspects of my life align with these plans.

The month in reading and watching

In terms of books, I finished Kim Stanley Robinson’s The Wild Shore and enjoyed it. I read Bo Bolander’s short story “Our Talons can Crush Galaxies.” I enjoyed it, but it was more for the unconventional form of the story rather than the story itself. I also finished Elizabeth Bear’s Range of Ghosts, which I loved.

I burned through Naomi Novik’s Uprooted and Spinning Silver and loved them both, the latter, if anything, more than the former. It was more about the relationships between the young women of the novel and about what one sacrifices for family. Uprooted is based on the fairy tale of Baba Yaga, and Spinning Silver takes on Rumplestiltskin, but Novik takes both is very different directions from the source material.

Sarah Selecky’s Radiant, Shimmering Light was my more literary read of the month. It was interesting. The protagonist, Lilian, is a social media (mostly Instagram) obsessed creative entrepreneur. She paints animal portraits with auras, a talent (to see those animal auras) she’s had since she was a child. Selecky spent part of her childhood in Sudbury, and so I enjoyed the periodic references to my home town in the novel and Lilian’s latest-spoken wish in the book to get a cottage somewhere in the northeast and devote herself to her work.

Lilian is another unreliable narrator and that’s probably why I didn’t enjoy the book as much as I could have. Though there’s also a lot of female friendship in the novel, it all has a thin, unrealistic veneer, much like our social media obsessed age. The book left me with some major questions that I would have preferred more grounding on, but like Lilian, they’re left floating. It reminded me, in part, of Margaret Atwood’s Lady Oracle, which also left me dissatisfied.

Then, I read Rebecca Roanhorse’s Trail of Lightning. Perfection. It’s the only read this year so far that I’ve given five stars to.

I caught The Incredibles 2, and thought the movie a worthy successor. Jak-Jak is hilarious (I did LOL). The characters all aged and had newer problems to deal with and the writers did a good job or resolving those more personal issues in the midst of the continued super-ban and latest global crisis.

Phil and I enjoyed The Umbrella Academy. I was somewhat disappointed when Vanya lost her mind and went all murder-y and apocalyptic. We discussed it, and there were indications that Vanya’s power used her rather than the other way around, but I was still left wondering why the writers made those particular, misogynist choices. I also understand that Vanya’s arc in the series was different than her arc in the graphic novel (which I would have found more dissatisfying—I Googled) but if they wanted to take her character in a different direction, they could have made braver, more original decisions.

I also finished watching the latest season of Frontier, Jason Mamoa’s passion project, on Netflix. It’s a kind of love/hate show for me. The continual tug of war between the same group of people is getting tiresome. It’s dark, but fairly historically accurate, so far as I can tell. I’ll probably continue to watch it.

And that it for this month’s update.

Until my next blog post, be well, be kind, and stay strong. The world needs your stories!

The Next Chapter

The next chapter: August 2018 update

Greetings, my writerly peeps!

I won’t say it again. I will not. If you’ve read the last few next chapter updates, you know what I’m resisting writing.

It’s still true, but I think that by this time, it goes without saying.

On to the writing progress report.

AugProgress

Once more, I fell short of my modest 5k writing goal on my current work in progress, Playing with Fire. I did write 3,828 words, or 77% of my goal, but I had some competing priorities that made it both necessary and the best I could do given the circumstances.

One of those priorities was a quick run-through of Marushka, as I broke the monolithic manuscript into chapters for posting online. I’ve just finished this task and will be writing up some further notes for me new critique group. In the process I bumped the word count for the draft up by about a thousand words. Draft 2.5 (‘cause this wasn’t really a true revision in any sense of the word) is now just shy of 78k words and I’m sure I’ll be able to take it into the 80-90k range once I have my critique notes.

So, technically, I revised 65,196 words of my 60k-word goal, or 100%

I also sacrificed some personal reading time to do an initial reading of the draft of another writer in the group. As one does in a critique group 🙂 Critiques were initially due by the end of August, but an extension has been granted. I have the time to so a second reading (at least) and put together some juicy notes.

August saw the recurrence of the due date for my DIY MFA column, which should be out on the 11th. It’s another big one, 1,632 words worth, and 163% of my goal.

Finally, I published 3,235 words on this blog in August, or 116% of my 2,800-word goal.

Overall, it’s been a good month with more hits than misses.

In September, I’ve set myself what I hope to be my final 5,000-word goal on PwF. I shouldn’t need that many words to finish off the draft (yes, I’m that close—so close I can taste it, as my mom would say) but I’ve given myself the “space” in case I need it.

Then, I’m going to organize my novel notes into a true series “bible” and begin outlining the final book in the Ascension series, Tamisashki, for NaNoWriMo 2018.

I’ll get to work on my critique and possibly take on another.

My next DIY MFA due date isn’t until October and so, because this won’t be a writing-heavy month, I’ve decided to take on a couple of learning opportunities, just for shits and giggles.

The first of these is the NaNoWriMo/Wesleyan prep course, offered through Coursera. The cost is nominal, and I get to see what Wesleyan offers.

The second is that I’m formally participating in Rachael Stephen’s Prep-tober this year (are we seeing the theme here?).

Writing is and always has been my happy place and that’s where I’m “spending” my creative energies.

Other aspects of my life are still in strange limbo-land, but there is hope/an ending in sight.

In other news, here are some Torvi pictures:

And my attempts at sunrise/sunset/moon pictures:

I’m no professional and all I’ve used here was the camera in my cell phone, but I thought I captured some lovely moments.

And that’s it for this month’s next chapter update.

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

The Next Chapter

The next chapter: June 2018 update

Hello all you writerly people!

I know I’ve said this often in recent months, but this past month has been a weird one.

It started off well, but in the first full week of June, I was asked to deliver training with just one week to prep in and amongst my other duties. We didn’t even have a proper participant list until the Thursday before the class was to start. At least no one had to travel.

So, a week of frantic prep and two weeks of training followed by five weeks of post-training monitoring (PTM). Yeah, I’m going to be busy through to August.

I’ve had another life lesson confirmed for me. I no longer have to deliver training away from home to feel exhausted by the activity. Introvert me has to be on all the time in front of a class. It really leaves me drained at the end of the day with little to nothing left for my creative pursuits. And what little energy I have is still focused on Torvi, who, while she is showing steady improvement as she grows older, is still a handful. More on the T sitch, later.

On Wednesday of the second week of training, our group was inducted into a new PTM pilot project. The first class and group of monitors was chosen to be the pilot in advance of that class. The participants, their team leaders, and the trainers and monitors were all provided with training and information prior to the class. In other words, they were well-prepared.

Following the training, we were scrambling to mark the final tests, create course summary reports, and my co-facilitator was the lead monitor for the transition week, essentially dedicated advice and guidance for the whole class of fifteen. Plus, we both had our own agents (three each) to take care of.

I won’t get into the details, or this will be a very long, ranty post. Needless to say, it was madness.

JuneProgress

Given the crazy, I think I did pretty good. I wrote more days than not, and I wrote less than I would have liked, but I wrote, and that was the biggest part of the battle. I only wrote 6,635 words of my 10K goal, or 66%.

This means that it will be one more month drafting Playing with Fire. I should, however, finish the draft by the end of July.

I wrote 3,363 words on this blog, or 129% of my 2,600-word goal, got my DIY MFA column in early at a honkin’ 2,141 words, or 241%, and assembled my last Sudbury Writers’ Guild newsletter at 4,072 words, or 102% of goal.

In all, I wrote 16,213 words in June, or 92% of my monthly writing goal. Not too shabby 🙂

I did nothing in terms of creative events this month, but I did have supper with a good friend the other night. We haven’t seen each other in forever and it was lovely to catch up.

This coming month, however, I’ll have a couple of events to share. I’ll be heading down to Ad Astra next weekend, and the Sudbury Writers’ Guild will be holding a workshop with Gail Anderson-Dargatz on the 28th.

I may have another critique group in the making. I’ll find out more tomorrow and be sure to fill you in when I compose next month’s update.

In other news …

Phil continues to trudge toward sanity at work. It’s still rough, but they’ve hired someone who’ll be able to ease some of Phil’s burden and who’ll be starting mid-month. There will be some training before the new hire is going to be able to take some of the workload off Phil’s shoulders, but it’s another small win.

Health-wise, I’m pretty much sorted. My doctor put me through a battery of blood screenings, and other tests, and all of the results came back showing that I’m in good health. The one issue I’d wanted to investigate turns out just to be age-related and manageable without medication. Oh, and I have fibroids, which I didn’t have a few months ago, but I haven’t experienced any problems as a result of them. Funny, I don’t feel old enough to have these problems …

And … five months after the ablation, I had my first non-period. It was essentially just prolonged spotting. I’m cautiously optimistic.

We have one class left in Torvi’s intermediate obedience. As I said above, she’s improving, but she’s still a handful. One bit of progress is that I was able to take her across town in the car—without meds (!) I think we’ll be able to stop using them soonish. She may never enjoy the car, and she’ll probably drool every time we take a ride, but she’s not really distressed, and she hasn’t thrown up.

I took her to get her nails trimmed and she was snappy with the groomer. They may have to muzzle her in the future 😦

Feisty pup is feisty.

Tomorrow, I’m going to introduce her to a beach and see if she’ll swim. If, as I suspect, she’s got a good bit of husky in her, she may not do more than wade in and get her belly wet. I’ll be instagramming the pics.

And that was a month in this writer’s life.

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

The Next Chapter

The next chapter: January 2017 update

Hey all you lovely people 🙂 *waves*

This is probably going to be a shortish post.

January was a quiet month. So, I worked and I wrote.

I exceeded my drafting goal for Wavedancer and for blogging, but didn’t meet my revision goal for short fiction. I find it difficult to pull my head out of one form and stick it into another. Also, the publication I’d intended to submit it to has closed to submissions. Though there is an anthology call looming, I don’t know that I’ll be able to write a new piece of short fiction to the theme. Again, it’s not where my creative head is at right now.

But I got a start on a new version of a story and a few ideas for revising others. Yay me 😉

januaryprogress

I wrote 17,943 words of my 15,500 word goal for Wavedancer, or 116%. I’m well on my way to a finished first draft by the end of February.

I only revised 500 words of my 2,500 word revision goal for short fiction.

And I wrote 6,388 words of my 5,800 word goal for this blog.

That’s 24,331 words written and 500 revised.

The way I figure it, my overages more than compensate for the lack of revision 😀

For my off-book goals, I drafted and revised a guest post and submitted some material to my editor/mentor for review.

I booked my hotel for the Story Masters workshop in May, submitted my eligible short fiction for consideration in a year’s best anthology and to the Auroras. It never hurts to try 😉

I’ve also updated some of the information on my website and I’ll be reviewing the information on various social media profiles for consistency shortly.

That’s really all she wrote this month (pun intended).

We’ve received most of the furniture for the living room/dining room, but it’s been too cold for Phil to continue work on the bookshelves. The garage is not heated.

Once the last of the furniture has arrived, I’ll share the pictures.

As I said at the outset, January was a quiet month. February promises the same. The older I get, the more I feel like hibernating in the winter.

It’s good for the writing, but not much else.

Be well until next I blog!

The Next Chapter

The next chapter: December 2015 update and a year in the writerly life

Another year has come and gone. This one flew, but was filled with both Writerly Goodness, and sadness.

First up: December 2015

DecemberProgress

I kept drafting Reality Bomb until it was complete. By December 20, it was, at a tidy 65,556 words (total). 10,550 of those were written in December.

Then, I moved on, or back, to Gerod and the Lions, finishing that draft on December 31, with 45,012 total words in the draft (not bad for a MG novel) and 6,252 of those words written in December.

I also revised and submitted two short stories, but the net words were negligible, so I didn’t enter them into the Excel.

Finally, I wrote another 6,647 words on the blog.

My total production for the month: 23,449 words. That’s my second best month after November (and you know what happened then) for non-revision work.

2015 in review

Did I accomplish everything I wanted to in 2015?

Mostly. And I did better in some respects than I hoped. So, yay me 🙂

I did finish my last (for now) revisions of Initiate of Stone and started querying. I also took several query letter writing workshops and revised my query many times. Currently, the novel, or excerpts of same are on submission with several small publishers. I’ll be following up this month. If those submissions bear no fruit, I’ll be returning to the querying in February.

I did map and reverse engineer Apprentice of Wind and Figments. Both are ready for revision. I’ll be starting on AoW tonight, or tomorrow. I just gave the existing draft another read-through. And yes, I’m now in the everything-I-write-is-shit phase of the revision process. This, too, shall pass 😛

I finished Marushka, but have not mapped or reverse engineered the draft yet. This will come later in 2016, which I am going to call The Year of Revision.

I finished GatL (see above).

I won NaNoWriMo with Reality Bomb and subsequently finished the draft (again, see above).

I revised and submitted short stories to 17 contests and open anthology calls. That’s more than I ever have in the past.

I did not write any new stories.

I have exhausted the available markets for my one long short story and have received sufficient feedback that I believe the piece to be the beginning of a novel, rather than a true short story. It will be slotted into the drafting schedule when I get through the current spate of revision.

It was a year of near misses. I made the short list in two contests and merited a second reading in one anthology call, but ultimately failed to make the final cut in each case.

At the eleventh hour, however, I had two short stories accepted into the as yet untitled Sudbury Writers’ Guild anthology, which, though work will continue throughout the year on revision, editing, cover design, layout, and all that funky stuff, I don’t think will be published this year. You never know, but we’ll see.

I did deliver my How to get published workshop in February.

I attended Ad Astra in April and CanCon in October.

I did not attend the writing retreat in the summer. I tried to attend another, smaller writing workshop in August by the same author, but my plans were derailed by work.

I organized two great workshops delivered by Jane Ann McLachlan and Madeleine Harris-Callway in May and June, respectively, and participated in Wordstock 2015.

On the downside, my dog, Nuala, died of kidney failure in July, which sent me into a bit of a tailspin, but I wrote through it, with only one month of I-can’t-bear-the-thought-of-writing-ness (August).

 

2015Progress

Let’s look at the numbers:

  • 68,784 words written and/or revised for Initiate of Stone (remember, my strategy was to halve the words revised so as not to skew the overall numbers too much)
  • 20,856 words written on Gerod and the Lions
  • 39,034 words written on Marushka
  • 65,556 words written on Reality Bomb
  • 1,676 words of short fiction written and/or revised, and
  • 83,289 words written on this blog

That’s a grand total of 279,195 words!

That’s more than 100k more words than my 175,480 total in 2014. Last year, I called that a fuckload. So 2015 was a mega-fuckload?

This ramble is to say that I am incredibly pleased with 2015’s production.

2016: The year of revision

I realized last month, in the wake of NaNo, that if I did complete the drafts of Reality Bomb and GatL by the end of the year, I’d have five novels (aside from IoS) on my hands. Five unrevised novels.

So, guess what Ima do this year? Yup. Revise and edit those suckers to within an inch of their wordy lives.

Using Jamie Raintree’s new and improved Writing and Revision Tracker, I’ve established some lofty goals for myself, like 37,550 words of revision a month every month but November and December. And this year, I’m counting every word, because Jamie’s spreadsheet accounts for revision separately.

Plus, anywhere between two and seven thousand words of new writing each month (mostly blogging) except for November (2K on the blog and 50K for NaNo) and December (between 6 and 7K on the blog and potentially another 50K to finish off NaNo, which I hope to be book three in the Ascension series—epic fantasy = epic word count).

I’ll also be continuing to revise and submit some short fiction, map and reverse engineer Marushka and Reality Bomb (and GatL, if I can get to it) and outline Mistress of Water for NaNo.

Like I said, my goals this year are lofty. I won’t be disappointed if I don’t reach them all, but I find that if I set high goals, I tend to stretch to reach them. There are certain areas in which I can push myself outside of my comfort zone and be pretty damned happy about it. I lurve the writing life.

All of that means that I intend to aim for a super-duper mega-fuckload of production in the coming year.

Wish me luck (break a pencil) 😉

I’ll also be working toward a more balanced approach to writing and revising in the future. I’d like to draft two novels a year, one in NaNo, and one outside it, and work on revision and editing around the drafting. But that is for ensuing years. I have to get on top of my current drafts, first.

Conference and convention-wise, I’ll be returning to Ad Astra (April 29 – May 1), possibly attending the Canadian Writers’ Summit (June 15-19) and . . . I’ll be attending my first WorldCon (Aug 17-21)!

Leave pending, of course.

I have no idea what’s going to be happening with me at work in the next year or so. Right now, I’m in another acting position until Feb 12, but I have applied for the next consultant’s assessment process and pool. Also, we’re re-entering contract negotiations this year. We could be successful, or we could be going on strike. I’ve been designated essential in the latter case, and will have to work, regardless.

So it’s a crap shoot at work for the foreseeable.

If I can negotiate another leave with income averaging sometime in this next year (I’ve tried twice before for November and been asked to defer for operational reasons) Phil and I may be welcoming a new little squirmer into our home. We want the time to house train the new pup and enjoy the milk breath and buttery belly to its utmost 🙂

And that was my best imitation of Janus, looking back, and looking forward.

All the best to all of you in the coming year.

The Next Chapter

The next chapter: July 2015 update

July was a weird month.

I got off to a decent start, determined to finish off Marushka. I revised and submitted a short story to an anthology call. I received a rejection for another story a few days later.

Then, Nuala’s kidneys shut down and we had to make that anguished, final visit to the vet.

While I kept up the blogging, mostly because I had my curation posts already composed, I couldn’t face the page for a few days.

I got back to Marushka slowly on the 14th, and that weekend, I set out my second round of queries for Initiate of Stone. I also revised another story and sent it off.

Since then, I’ve received a rejection on the story and two more rejections—polite though they may have been—from agents regarding Initiate of Stone.

I’ve just today revised my query, signed up for a query workshop with Kristin Nelson, and booked my hotel for Can-Con in October.

So it’s been a busy month, and a productive one, considering, but I’m just on the cusp of my pre-revision tracking best.

July's writing progress

Here’s how the numbers break down

Short fiction: 92 words

Marushka: 7,217 words (And no, I’m not quite done with the draft, yet. I’m at 87% of goal right now. I might make my 40k word goal. This is, of course, in addition to the 30k I generated during NaNoWriMo last year.)

Blog: 9,116 words

Total: 16,425 words

July's Summary

Moving forward, I will continue to revise and submit my short stories wherever I can place them, but, as I mentioned last month, I haven’t been bitten by the short fiction bug recently and will not be drafting new stories for the foreseeable.

Several of my shorts may actually be novels in disguise, so, once I exhaust the available venues, I might see about expanding one and see how that works, but I’ve a way to go before I get there with some of my lovelies.

I’m going to finish Marushka this month (damn it!). I’m only about 5k words from ‘the end’ on this one, and it’s been so long in coming that I really want to put it to bed.

Then, it’s back to Gerod and the Lions. Once that draft is finished, I’ll turn to revision again, but NaNo will probably pop up in the middle of those efforts.

I’m starting to outline this year’s NaNo project. It’s a tasty one.

The blogging will probably simmer down for a while without the convention reportage, so we may see a reduction in word count there, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Work-wise, I’m heading out of town for the day job from August 10-26 and then I’ll be taking on another acting Consultant position. This one promises to be less stressful than the last couple I’ve had, but we’ll see.

Other than that, there’s not much else to report.

I’m keeping on, keeping on.

You do the same.

Until next month!

The Next Chapter

The next chapter: March 2015 update

Last month, I wrote about how I was reprioritizing my life because I’d made the realization that pouring all my creative energy into the day-job was not making me happy. It wasn’t getting me any closer to my goals as a writer, either.

I started March out, work-wise, by applying for my self-funded leave and putting in my vacation requests for the first two quarters of the 2015-16 fiscal (to the end of September). I started expressing my opinion (which, of course, did me no favours, professionally) and reframing my experience with the perspective my wee revelation had provided me.

A series of serendipitous learning opportunities came my way, many of them concerned with following one’s dreams, or finding one’s calling. Funny how these things happen when we really need them to.

As I write this post, I’m listening to Michael Hyatt’s podcast on the Disciplined Pursuit of Less. This month’s newsletter from Katie Weiland included a piece on her “spring cleaning” of her subscriptions and social media. She was doing this to reclaim writing time from potentially wasteful or distracting electronic practices.

Having said all that, I was burned out by the time March rolled around. Last fall, when I had originally intended to take my self-funded leave but decided to defer it, I said that I was a little toasty around the edges, but that I’d probably be able to hold out until the spring.

That was before this acting consultancy.

Truthfully, I was burnt before the end of January. Part-way through February, I stopped revising Initiate of Stone and then I stopped drafting Marushka.

With IoS, I had to shift back into drafting mode to rewrite a chapter that was completely altered by my decision to remove a character from the novel. I was blocked, essentially, as I tried to write around the hole I’d decided to make in my plot. I didn’t stop writing per se, but I was having trouble finding my way out of the maze.

I made several abortive attempts to redraft the chapter in Word (which I didn’t count), but ultimately found that drafting by hand (which I also do not count) was much more effective. Once I had the chapter mapped and pieces of it written out, I was able to regain my momentum and complete the new chapter in Word.

Shifting gears with IoS meant that I didn’t have the drafting mojo going for Marushka. By looking at my spreadsheets, I can see clearly that when I stopped revising IoS, about a week later, I stopped drafting Marushka. Once I got back on track with IoS (the word counts recorded in red), again, about a week later, I was able to pick up with the drafting of Marushka again.

So, clearly, while it is possible for me to work on multiple projects at once, I definitely have to be working on them in different phases (drafting vs. revising). I’ve also realized that with the exception of the blog and some short stories, that the limit of my focus with regard to multiple novel-length projects is two.

Interestingly enough, I’m getting close to the end of drafting Marushka. I’ll be short of my 75k goal for the draft, but I’m okay with that. So far what seems to be my evolving pattern is to draft short, rewrite long, and revise/edit to goal length. Will let you know if this new piece of my process puzzle proves to be effective in the long run.

After my staggered, two-week disruptions in IoS and Marushka respectively, I got back on track for the rest of the month.

Judging for the Friends of the Merril contest continues. Originally, when I was notified that my story made the long-list, I was also advised that judging would be complete by March 31st. On March 31st, a post was released on the site indicating that deliberations continued.

I have a 25% chance of placing. The delay is a little nerve-wracking, but I’m trying to remain positive. It means I have some tough competition, but that we’re all in the same quality boat.

I also spiffed up three short stories, including the one I submitted to the FotM contest, and sent them off for consideration in the Sudbury Writers’ Guild anthology.

I’d wanted to revise my longer short story for submission to a magazine, but didn’t have the energy or focus to spare.

I did, however, submit my short story “The Broken Places,” which was published in Bastion last year, for consideration in the Imaginarium anthology. It’s a year’s best anthology put out by ChiZine Publications. It’s a long shot, but I can’t win if I don’t play 😉 So sayeth the lottery gods.

Now, at the beginning of April, and with a long weekend to enjoy, I’ve decided that I’m taking a breather. I’m still burnt, and trying to work all day and then come home and write all night is making things worse.

I have a writing sample to prepare for my workshop with Julie Czerneda and Ad Astra next weekend. So . . . I’m being evil and burning through Avatar on Netflix 🙂

This past week, I walked home from work. Once. I’m still sore. Mellie is out of shape. So I’m going to get back on track with regard to that. My goal is to walk home from work three evenings a week. It’s about five kilometres and takes about an hour. I have a number of books on Audible ready for the purpose.

There are a couple of anthologies that I’d like to write stories for in April, but I’m not sure if I’m going to manage them. My main goal is to complete this round of revision on IoS and my draft of Marushka. Anything else is gravy. Not saying that I’m purposefully disregarding these anthologies; I like gravy, but I’m also aware of my limitations, now more than ever.

Once that’s done, I’m going to shift gears again with IoS and get into query mode and I’ll then be completing my draft of Gerod and the Lions.

Those are my goals for the intermediate future.

Now to take a look at my progress for the month:

March Writing Progress

IoS Revisions (remember these are half counts, except for the new chapter in red, which were all new words): 11,901 words. Compare this with 11,851 in February, and 7,789 in January. I’m at the 50% mark of the novel.

Bloggage: 7,200 words. This has held more or less steady with 6,676 words in February and 8,432 words in January. I’m at 23% of my annual goal, which is more or less where I expected to be for March (one quarter through the year).

Drafting Marushka: 4,520 words in March; 3,859 in February; and my blow-me-away 9,462 in January. I’m at 44% of my drafting goal. I might make 60% by the time the story is finished.

Short stories: 90 words in March; 1,206 in February; and 34 in January. I’m at 27% of my goal for the year which is good.

Totals: 23,711 for March; 23,592 for February; 25,717 for January.

March Summary

So there we are.

Progress is, as ever, being made.

Now, season 3 of Avatar is calling, and Bitten this evening.

Have a lovely Easter, everyone.

See you on Tipdsay!

The Next Chapter

The next chapter: January 2015 update

Technically, I could have written this post last Saturday, but I was still writing into the evening and I count everything up until go to sleep on the last day of the month. As is often the case, better late than never, right?

January 2015 progress

As you can see, I’ve continued to work on Marushka, the project I started for NaNoWriMo 2014. I had indicated in last month’s next chapter post that I wanted to work away at finishing my first draft of Marushka (total goal 75k words) and figured I’d manage this at about 5k words a month.

Well colour me blown away, I wrote almost 10k new words in January alone (!)

I continued to blog, but have stuck to my weekly curation posts and posting on Saturdays. I like this amount of output and time dedicated to the blog. It’s reasonable.

I also restarted my final pass on Initiate of Stone. It’s interesting. Back in December (I think), I shared a post in Tipsday by another writer who uses Jamie Raintree’s Excel worksheet. He had some excellent suggestions for tracking revisions.

One of them was that two words of revision = one word on the worksheet. I’ve implemented this, but in a way, it feels like cheating. In any given chapter I revise, I might, at most, change 500 words.

For example, I one chapter I revised, I cut out a page and a half to two pages of a battle scene that was a little long in the tooth, plus a few words here and there, tightening things up, etc. The chapter was over 3,800 words, however, and so when I entered my 1,950 words in the IoS column for that day’s revisions, it felt to me like I hadn’t done the work to earn that entry.

I’m still struggling with the idea, but revisions and editing are their own beasts. There has to be some way I can recognize the effort without artificially inflating my word count. I think the two-for-one word scheme is the closest I can come to doing that for now. We’ll see how that works out as the year progresses.

I also revised one short story for submission to an anthology call.

Totals for January:

  • IoS: 7,789 words
  • Marushka: 9,462 words 😀
  • Short stories: 34 words
  • Blog: 8,432 words
  • Grand total: 25,717 words (17,928 without IoS revisions)

Even without considering my revisions, it’s one of my best months outside November since I started tracking my word count. I’m amazed.

Progress summary as of Feb 7

This is something new that Jamie added to the 2015 worksheet that was not in last year’s: a place to put goals and track overall progress. I think it’s cool.

With IoS, I halved the total current word count of the last draft and entered that number as my goal in the drafting progress table (as per the two-for-one word scheme). This table pulls data from the monthly sheets, so I kind of had to do that in order for the table to make any sense.

I did the same thing for Apprentice of Wind and Figments. I do intend to proceed to those revisions after I’ve settled IoS. Because Marushka and Gerod and the Lions are still in the drafting process, I subtracted the word count as of the end of 2014 from my goal word count and entered that in the table.

I intend to write a few new short stories this year in addition to revising my existing ones for submission, so I figured 5k would be a good number of new words to aim for. NaNo is and always will be 50k.

Seeing how many words went into my blog last year, I thought 100k would be a good, round number to aim for there.

There is also a separate table for tracking revisions, specifically, this in pages. This table does not pull data from the monthly sheets. So I’ve entered the number of pages revised and the total number of pages manually. I’ll only be tracking IoS, AoW, and Figments in this way.

Because the table pulls data from the monthly sheets, the following progress reflects everything I’ve done up until today, not including this blog post.

  • IoS: 10,145 words/72 pages, or 16% of goal
  • Marushka: 10,522 of 40,192 or 26% of goal
  • Short stories: 46 words, or 1% of goal 😛
  • Blog: 9,078 words, or 9% of goal

That’s pretty awesome.

In other writerly news

January saw the publication of “Downtime,” the short story On Spec purchased back in 2013. And, yes, I’m going to put that sexy Skeksis in your way again. As they say in one of my associations, I’m chuffed.

On Spec Fall 2014

Days afterward, I received a rejection of another short story, which, despite my best efforts, took the wind out of my sails. I know I should cultivate rhino-skin, but I’ve tried and I don’t think the goal possible. For me. At this time.

I missed one deadline for a special speculative issue of another magazine. It kind of blew right past me.

I did get my story submitted to Tesseracts 19, and I’ll be waiting on tenterhooks to see if this time will be the charm. I’ve been submitting to the anthology since 14, and I keep trying.

It’s what you have to do as a writer, keep writing, and keep trying.

And otherwise

Work has been a bit of a grind and it does not show signs of slowing up. For February, anyway.

I signed up for a five-session yoga class, and finished the last one this past Thursday. I enjoy yoga, but not the expense, or the time it takes from my already hectic life. So this is the only treat I’ve given my poor old body for now. I may well join up for the summer, if they offer the discounted membership again.

But life is good, overall. I’m making greater progress toward my goals that I thought I would, especially with the work hell.

Today, after I post this lovely thing, I’m progressing to IoS revisions, more Marushka, and perhaps working on one of those brand new short stories I told you about. Plus, the new season of Bitten (based on Kelley Armstrong’s series of novels) starts tonight, and I may fit in an episode or two of Log Horizon.

Tomorrow, another meeting of my writing/critique circle will take place, and I’ll be writing some more.

I’ll say it again. Life is good.

And so the chapter closes. See you next month!

The Next Chapter

The Writing Process Blog Hop

Yes, it’s actually happening!

I had a bit of a false start back in April when Gemma Hawdon originally tagged me, and now that Claudette Young, A.K.A. Claudsy has tagged me for a second time, I actually found a couple of fellow bloggers who hadn’t already done it 🙂

First, I must thank my nominators:

Gemma Hawdon and familyGemma Hawdon lives in Melbourne, Australia with her husband and two children. She writes articles, short stories and web content for clients. She’s just completed the first book in a two-part children’s fantasy series and writes a blog http://topoftheslushpile.com/ about – funnily enough – trying to get to the top of the slush pile. She loves hot coffee, long walks and sneaking off to the movies when everyone else is at work.

Public Contact Details:
Twitter: @gemmaleehawdon
Facebook: facebook.com/topoftheslushpile
Email: gemmaleehawdon@gmail.com


 

Claudette J. Young began writing seriously in 2008 and continues to write in multiple Claudette J. Younggenres. She strives to learn something new each day—a new poetry form, new writing technique, new foreign word, or whatever strikes her fancy. Her primary genres are poetry, science fiction/fantasy, flash fiction, children’s literature, women’s fiction, along with creative non-fiction, essay, and memoir. She tries to cover all of her bases by writing for audiences that range from young children to senior citizens.

Claudette has been published in numerous online publications for poetry, fiction, and non-fiction, as well as print magazines and two international poetry anthologies. She continues to hone her craft by working on multiple projects, including book-length ones. Her regular work can be viewed on her collaborative website and blogs at: http://2voices1song.com/ as well as www.claudettejyoung.com/


 

Now for the hard part

I have to answer four questions all about—you guessed it—my WIPs and process. I’ll apologize to my followers, for whom some of this will be a repeat of my Next Chapter posts, but I hope there will be some new, tasty stuff in the mix for you too.

What am I working on?

Several projects. This year, I decided, inspired in part by Rochelle (one of my nominees – see below) to attempt working on multiple projects at once.

First is my epic fantasy, Initiate of Stone.

An aspirant mage is betrayed by those she trusts most, but when war razes her village, she loses family, friends, and the possibility of initiation. The secrets kept from her may be the keys to stopping the mad god intent on enslaving her world and her quest for power leads to a confrontation with the man who tore her life apart.

Yeah, still needs work.

It’s currently out with betas. I have a couple who are very thorough/detail oriented, and that’s just fine with me, because I’ve been able to use the time to make some major decisions about the novel, remap it, make editing notes, a beat sheet, and reverse engineer the plot. When I hear back from my peeps, I’ll be ready for one more massive rewrite, and then it’s onto querying.

Second is a young adult urban fantasy titled, Figments.

Her father’s murder sends a girl spiralling into depression, and, she fears, delusion. As her figments turn out to be real, she learns that everything else she thought she knew is a lie, opening the door to the terrifying possibility that her father was a modern-day Frankenstein, and she is his apocalyptic monster.

Figments was last year’s NaNoWriMo project and I am currently mapping it out, then I’ll get to the beat sheet, edit notes, and reverse engineering. This one has a few revisions ahead.

My third project is Gerod and the Lions, a middle grade, traditional fantasy.

A boy’s father sells his little sister to the Child Merchants and he sets off, alone, to rescue her. Clever, but small, he fails his first attempt and finds shelter in a circus where he discovers a talent for talking to lions and allies who help him track the Child Merchants to the capital, where a royal encounter and a daring rescue bring the boy face to face with his sister and her new owners.

I’m still drafting this one, but I expect to be finished by the end of this year.

Finally, there’s Apprentice of Wind, the second book in my epic fantasy series.

She’s come into her power through an act of murder and now a rogue sourceress (it’s not a typo), in the company of the half-brother she never knew and the avatar of the goddess, must defend the king’s city and then race to battle the mad god. If she can’t become powerful enough to defeat him, her life and her world will be destroyed.

The draft has been assembled and mapped, but will require substantial rewriting because of the revisions to IoS.

How does my work differ from others in its genre?

What’s that saying? There’s nothing new under the sun.

The only thing that distinguishes my work from other fantasy novels being written and published is me. It’s my writing and my voice that will set them apart.

The epic series is pretty standard fare, but I have what I hope is a truly strong heroine who drives the plot and some compelling secondary characters all of whom I torture mercilessly. None of the characters is purely good or evil—except the mad god, he’s just psychotic—so it’s complex and dark and unrelenting. And there’s a lot of vomiting, or so I’ve been told by at least one reader 😉

The YA novel features a gargoyle, but I think in the search for “original” beasties, this ground has already been trod, as has the Frankenstein angle, but not, perhaps, in the way I have approached it.

The MG might be fairly original, a young lion tamer who takes down a child slavery ring? I might have something there.

Why do I write what I do?

The main reason is that fantasy and science fiction were what I started reading: C.S. Lewis, Lloyd Alexander, Susan Cooper, Madeline L’engle, Ursula K. Le Guin. It was also what I started watching: Doctor Who, Star Wars, Star Trek, etc.

As I read or watched, I imagined myself as a character in the story. Sometimes I’d even dream about it. These derivative, or fan-based, works were some of my earlier stories. When I grew older, I understood that I wanted to help other people feel what I felt as the consumer of these creative works.

How does my writing process work?

Sweet Jebus.

The thing about my process is that it is . . . a process. It’s what happens between my head and the page. The two words I might choose to characterize my writing process are organic and evolving.

I generally shoot from the hip. I write first and ask questions later, but I’m also addicted to learning. With every writing craft book or blog post I read, or workshop I take, I learn something, and I incorporate bits and pieces of everything into my process. How do I choose which bits and pieces? It feels good or right. It fits.

I’m an unapologetic pantser, but I generally outline after the first draft, and even though I may not have a formal outline to write by, I always know where my story is going. I know the end and major events before I begin. I may even have sketched out scenes and characters before I get to the actual drafting. I do a lot of preliminary work in my head (read, incubating).

According to some coaches, that’s a form of outlining. *bats eyelashes endearingly*

I’ve tried alpha readers (who read an early draft), beta readers (who read later drafts), professional editors, reviews of the first X pages, first act (some of this done with Jenny – see nominees, below) . . . I generally give everything a try once and decide by the results I get whether I’ll do it the same way next time or not.

In this moment, here’s how my process works:

Ideas:

Ideas emerge from dreams. I, like many writers, dream in story. It may be a bit surreal, but they’re full-colour movies, sometimes even in three acts. This used to happen a lot when I was a kid, but now, I might get one or two story dreams a year. Still, that’s a fair backlog of ideas.

Ideas emerge from journaling. I started keeping a journal in university when knowledge from different disciplines kept colliding in my skull. Now, I find that my curation is taking the place of journaling. I share the articles and posts that make me think or feel and that becomes a kind of record. I also use Evernote.

Ideas emerge from reading. I’m a “clip-rat.” If I read something physical that makes me think, I clip it, or make a copy and save it in my idea file.

Ideas emerge from exercises or prompts. This is not as frequent as I’m not keen on exercises and prompts, but on a few occasions, it’s worked. Gerod and the Lions resulted from a Natalie Goldberg prompt.

Drafting:

I used to draft long hand because that was the tool I had most easily available to me. The idea that became Initiate of Stone filled two large spiral-bound notebooks.

Then, I started to type.

That gave way to word processing when I got my first computer. Those were the DOS days of black screens and orange text.

Now, I rely mostly on Word, and though I have purchased Scrivener, I’ve found that the process of importing and formatting is a bit cumbersome. I’d rather be writing. But I have enrolled in a course, so that may change.

Revisions:

After drafting, I let things sit for a while and move onto other projects, or work on short stories, or do something completely unrelated like home renovation or gardening.

I print out my draft as economically as possible and read it through.

I “map” my novels out. It’s an outline of sorts and I can easily rearrange, cut, and rewrite based on my map. Mapping is done long hand and then transcribed into a computer document.

Beat sheets and edit notes are generally long hand as well. I usually relocate to the living room or some other place than my office to make these notes.

Once I have all my structural work and edit notes completed, I’ll launch into editing the draft, copying each chapter into a new document and rewriting/editing it fully before moving on to the next.

This process repeats until I’m satisfied.

Alpha or beta readers, or editors might come in around the third or fourth version.

And that’s pretty much how it’s gone to this point.

My process is continually subject to change.

And finally, my nominoms (da-doo-da-do-doo – yes, I’m a Muppet at heart).

Jenny Madore (writing as JL Madore)

JL MadoreJL Madore didn’t find writing so much as it found her. Waking each morning with a vivid cast of characters tangled in chaos in her head, it seemed essential to capture them on the page. With Blaze Ignites and Ursa Unearthed published and receiving rave reviews, she’s turning her attention to Watcher Untethered, an unpublished paranormal/erotic romance manuscript which just won 4th place in the Toronto Romance Writers – The Catherine. Aside from spinning tales of elves, weres, demons and fallen angels, she’s also Vice President of the Writers’ Community of Durham Region, a 300 member writing organization just outside of Toronto. www.jlmadore.ca


 

Rochelle Sharpe (writing as R.L. Sharpe)

I’m many things: A reader; a writer; a mother of 2; a wife of 1; Christian; Australian.Rochelle Sharpe

I’ve been telling stories since I could talk and started writing them down when I was 8. It will take an awful lot to stop me – like death. Some say I’m a dreamer, and I have my head in the clouds, but I say that’s better than having two feet planted firmly on the ground.

I define myself as a storyteller. Writing is my life. Through writing I get to record all the worlds I have been blessed with discovering, worlds I would love to share with you fully one day, as soon as I can convince a publisher my worlds are worth sharing 🙂

I spend most of my time in fantastical worlds with fantastical people, both I have created and those created by others, and there is no other way I’d rather spend my time.

I work hard on making my dreams come true. And I believe in myself, because if I don’t, who else will?

http://rlsharpe.wordpress.com/

Writing Process Blog Hop