March Goals

Another month come and gone.

How’d I do?

  • Revise an old story to submit to Swords v. Cthulhu
  • Finish revising a previously drafted story
  • Draft a new short story.
  • Clean my office

Two solid months in a row! I knew that last goal would be a tricky one to complete–believe me, it was down to the wire. I’m just glad I didn’t say I was going to re-organize my office. It needs that too, but I’ll settle for being able to walk around again. To give you an idea of the state of things, I found a birthday card from seven years ago, and an anniversary card from ten years ago.

Evidently, I’m a pack rat.

::cough:: Hoarder ::cough::

Okay, we’re not quite at hoarder levels at Thunder Road HQ. Yet. Never fear, steps are being taken.

I always, always forget that February only has 28 days (yes, I’m aware of leap years). You’d think after so many trips around the sun, that fact would stick, but every time I set a deadline in February, the 26th rolls around and I’m like, “Lots of time to finish.” ::sees calendar:: “NOPE. NOPE. NOPE. SHIT.”

This year wasn’t as bad as many previous when it came to February’s surprise ending, but a variety of non-writing factors still kicked my butt for most of the month. I’d reached the point where I wasn’t sure I would get anything accomplished. So I feel pretty good about what got done.

Looking at my handy new words per day tracking sheet, I drafted just under 15000 words for the month, way down from January, but I was expecting that. I usually have a bit of a comedown after submitting a large project. Two short stories out on submission in two months; one brand new, one a revision of an old story I’d only submitted once. A new story nearly nearly ready to go out the door (I finished my revisions, but I had an idea after the fact, thanks to my writing group, that would cut 1000 more words and I want to mull the notion over before I hit send). I finished a draft on another new story, but I was ear-marking it for a specific anthology and I’ve since heard that the editor has pulled the anthology from the publisher. I was sorry to hear that, but at the same time, I’m not sure I’d have been able to get this piece ready in time for the deadline. I was aiming for an existential horror tone, but so far it comes across as a bad faux-literary wankfest. I’m going to try again and add monsters. Which is a good plan for any occasion really.

So that was February. What’s on deck for March?

  • Reread one of my novel WiPs to refamiliarize myself with a work that I’ve been mostly ignoring since the summer.
  • Finish a comic script I’ve been noodling on.
  • Finish drafting that novella I’ve been noodling on.

That should keep me busy. What are you up to?

Write on!

Too Far Gone Is Off To Ravenstone (And February Goals)

I realized when posted my goals for January and the rest of 2015, I completely forgot to fess up on how I did in December. So…just for those keeping score, how’d I do?

  • Clean my office.
  • Finish another draft of Too Far Gone.
  • Write something for the fun of it over my Christmas holidays (Not sure if this will be my superhero story for Tesseracts 19, or my sekkrit project for the Illuminaughty, or both).
  • Maybe take a run at a couple of those yearly goals that can still feasibly be reached.

Hmm. I wrote a draft of my superhero story, and managed about 10000 words of my Illuminaughty novella. Made good progress on that last draft of Too Far Gone but didn’t quite get it done over my Christmas break. A couple of the chapters that were next in order were much rougher than I’d remembered them. The writing for fun was definitely necessary though. I felt a big recharge of the batteries as I created something new instead of fixing something old. As for cleaning the office…attempts were not even made. The state of organization in my office has degraded to the point that I didn’t think I could tackle it in a full day, and I never seemed to have two days in a row without something else requiring my attention. Maybe tidying can be a reward for handing in Too Far Gone?

Because:

Too Far Gone Finished Manuscript

It is done, and submitted to my publisher. And on that note: cue the music.

(Warning: Author may not appear exactly as pictured.) So, that’s one goal down, how’d I do on the rest?

  • Finish Too Far Gone  (I have to, that’s my deadline)
  • Turn in a review of Owl and the Japanese Circus for The Winnipeg Review
  • Submit a story to Tesseracts Nineteen: Superhero Universe

Everything made it off the desk! That feels good, let me tell you. I tracked my fiction words every day in January using that fancy spread sheet I built inspired by Jamie Todd Rubin. I wrote every day in the month of January, totally 37151 words. Most of those words were rewrites in Too Far Gone, but I also noodled around on a novella and a short story when I needed a creative recharge. It’s still too early to do much analysis on the month, and I’m curious how the numbers will look when I’m primarily drafting and not revising. Author Jonathan Ball wrote a blog about tracking his writing that was interesting. I like the idea of tracking revised words/drafted words separately, and to separate out specific projects, as well as having a column for “other” writing, like blog posts and articles. I’d already started my tracking, so I thought I’d keep it consistent for 2015, but I might adopt elements of his plan in 2016. What’s the plan for February? In the spirit of actually attending to a couple of my yearly goals before November/December, specifically the short fiction ones here goes:

  • Revise an old story to submit to Swords v. Cthulhu
  • Finish revising a previously drafted story
  • Draft a new short story.
  • Clean my office

That’s all for now! Write on!

Owl and the Japanese Circus Review is Live

My review of Kristi Charish’s Owl and the Japanese Circus just went live over at The Winnipeg Review.

Owl-cover

It was a really fun book! I was excited to read this one, because Kristi’s story “Canadian Blood Diamonds” was my favourite piece in the excellent superhero anthology Masked Mosaic. Read the review, but more importantly, read the book!

New Year, New Goals 2015 Edition

This is coming a bit late isn’t it? It’s still January, so it still counts.

Here were my goals from last year:

  • Turn in Book 3 of the Thunder Road trilogy to Ravenstone.
  • Attend at least one SF&F convention in a city that I’ve never been to.
  • Revise at least one of the three four (after NaNoWriMo) drafted novel manuscripts I’ve been letting lie fallow until it is in submission shape and then send it out.
  • Participate in NaNoWriMo again (I’ve already started outlining the new project!).
  • Be more diligent about keeping my short fiction on submission.
  • I have at least eight short stories in various stages of readiness to submit, I’d like all of those to be out the door in 2014, and say write and submit at least two more for a total of ten new stories in the mix.
  • Turn in two comic scripts (Sekkrit projects, yo.).

Not going to lie. This wasn’t the best year for hitting goals. It wasn’t that I didn’t accomplish anything, but opportunities kept coming up that weren’t a part of my goals list. They were pretty cool though. I won a Manitoba Arts Council writing grant, and applied for my first Canada Arts Council Grant (still waiting to hear back on that one). I was invited to teach a couple of workshops (which also meant I had to design a couple of workshops): the ACI Teen Writing Workshop at Winnipeg’s Millennium Library, and a Writing Dark Fantasy and Horror workshop for the Thompson Writing Guild (Thanks ACI for having me, and thanks to the city of Thompson and the Manitoba Writers’ Guild for sending me north!). As a part of the teen writing workshop I also edited an anthology of my students’ work (Shine a Light and it’s available at Millennium Library if you want to check it out), there’s some excellent young writers coming up in this province, I assure you.

Okay, so, how bad was last year for actually making my goals:

  • Turn in Book 3 of the Thunder Road trilogy to Ravenstone.
  • Attend at least one SF&F convention in a city that I’ve never been to.
  • Revise at least one of the three four (after NaNoWriMo) drafted novel manuscripts I’ve been letting lie fallow until it is in submission shape and then send it out.
  • Participate in NaNoWriMo again (I’ve already started outlining the new project!).
  • Be more diligent about keeping my short fiction on submission.
  • I have at least eight short stories in various stages of readiness to submit, I’d like all of those to be out the door in 2014, and say write and submit at least two more for a total of ten new stories in the mix.
  • Turn in two comic scripts (Sekkrit projects, yo.).

Pretty bad (this is probably why I never do New Year’s resolutions).

I finally finished a draft of Too Far Gone, and have done a couple revision passes, but it’s not handed in yet. It will be by month’s end, but it’s no longer 2014, is it?

Conventions fared better, I went to more conventions this year than any year prior. In fact, I doubled down on the convention in a new city goal by attending World Horror Con in Portland, Oregan, and World Fantasy Con in Washington, D.C. What I’ve realized for a long time, and still need to find a better way to implement, is how to be more productive while I’m on the road.

Most of my revision energy went into Too Far Gone this year, I made some progress on the first book in a potential new series, but it’s not ready for submission yet. Which is why I bowed out of committing to NaNoWrimo early this year, I’d hoped to have Too Far Gone off to first readers by end of October so that I could NaNo guilt-free, but that didn’t work out, and so I didn’t see the point in dodging one deadline, while adding another first draft to the pile.

I was more diligent with submitting my short fiction at the beginning of the year, I also identified some new markets, and did some research into reprint markets and audio markets, but as the deadline loomed for Too Far Gone that discipline fell away. Which is why I also didn’t finish up a lot of those short story drafts.

On the plus, side, a drafted a bunch of new stories. “New Year’s Eve,” a Thunder Road vignette, was published on the Ravenstone website in January. I sold “The Last Good Look” to The Exile Book of New Canadian Noir (releasing March 1st, 2015!), another has been accepted pending revisions/contract signing (so I won’t say any more for now) and I self-published two stories. The first self-published story “A Simple Twist of Fate” was an experiment. I didn’t have anything new for the Winnipeg Comic Con (C4) this year, so wrote a  new Thunder Road story, hired an illustrator for the cover and interior illustrations and had it printed to look like a comic book. That was a rousing success. I’ll definitely do more of those (thanks Kevin Madison for the art, Samantha Beiko for the book design, and GMB Chomichuk for the idea). The second story I self-published, “While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks,” also a Thunder Road story, was published on my website, as a thank you to my readers (because you’ve been awesome to me). I’ve also got two other stories that I drafted that have to be polished for submission, and the first 10000 words of a novella in the can.

Those comic scripts are almost there…One has finished art, and me and the artist just need to get together and sign off that we’re both happy and we can send it to the editor. The other script just needs one or two more passes, and I’ll send it in to the editor so he can find me an artist.

And for this year:

  • Finish Too Far Gone.
  • Attend at least one SF&F convention in a city that I’ve never been to.
  • Revise at least one of the three four (after NaNoWriMo) drafted novel manuscripts I’ve been letting lie fallow until it is in submission shape and then send it out.
  • Be more diligent about keeping my short fiction on submission.
  • Get those old stories polished and out the door (which I think will also help the goal above from getting lost in the shuffle)
  • Write and submit at least two new short stories.
  • Write a script for a secret comic project with Samantha Beiko.
  • Say no to more “author” stuff and yes to more “writing” stuff.
  • Keep better track of my daily word count output.

I’m not planning to make a run at NaNo this year. If Too Far Gone releases when I think it will in the fall, then I’ll probably be touring in November. I played that game in 2013 and it was a wee bit stressful. I’ve been keeping track of my daily word count since I saw this post by Jamie Todd Rubin, and it’s definitely helping to motivate me. At times it didn’t feel like I was writing very much, since a lot of my time was spent revising, but after only twelve days, I see that all the those new words I sneak in while I rewrite are adding up to a page or two of new material a day. Seeing that I’ve got a few hundred words down, makes me want to add to them. I’ve never actually tracked my words for a full year, so I’m curious how it’ll shake down.

Finally, my goals for the month of January:

  • Finish Too Far Gone  (I have to, that’s my deadline)
  • Turn in a review of Owl and the Japanese Circus for The Winnipeg Review
  • Submit a story to Tesseracts Nineteen: Superhero Universe

Write on!

Happy Holidays! Have a Thunder Road Short Story!

My readers have been very good to me. Some of you Thunder Road fans have had images from my work tattooed on your bodies, some of you have taken my work and made art of your own. You’ve also emailed or tweeted or messaged me to say you’ve enjoyed the stories I have to tell. This has meant the world to me.

As a thank you, I wrote you this story for the holidays.

I considered calling it “Merry Christmas, I Don’t Want to Fight” but decided to go with something more traditional. I hope you’ll enjoy “While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks” with my compliments.

Continue reading

December Goals

For the last couple months, I only had one thing on my to do list.

  • Finish current draft of Too Far Gone.

Well? How’d I do?

The End of Too Far Gone

  • Finish current draft of Too Far Gone.

YEAH. That finally happened.

Finally.

And while I currently feel like this:

Walrus-o

and this:

Loki Yeah

I also know there is a ton of work left to do before deadline. I made some rather major changes in what I thought the narrative would be in this draft–ended up cutting over 30000 words in addition to the 15000 or so I added to the manuscript. It was a hard cut, but I think the book will be better for it. And… for the first time since I started working on Too Far Gone, it actually feels like a book and not a loose collection of scenes. I almost didn’t make the deadline. It was down to the last day, but I wrote about 4000 words on the 30th to finish off the last two chapters and type “THE END”.

New month, new goals:

  • Clean my office.
  • Finish another draft of Too Far Gone.
  • Write something for the fun of it over my Christmas holidays (Not sure if this will be my superhero story for Tesseracts 19, or my sekkrit project for the Illuminaughty, or both).
  • Maybe take a run at a couple of those yearly goals that can still feasibly be reached.

Write on!