New Year, New Goals: 2017 Edition

How’d 2016 go?

Now’s the time to check back in with those yearly goals:

  • Systematic finishing of the short stories I’ve started writing but not finished. I would like to get at least six new stories out the door this year.
  • Draft, revise, and submit an entirely new novel.
  • Complete first draft on An Excuse for Wolves.
  • Revise 2015 WiP for submission to agents and editors.
  • Keep my short fiction out on submission.

Stretch goals!

  • Edit one of my fallow novel first drafts.
  • Participate in NaNoWriMo

And for December:

  • Finish my WiP novel
  • Clean and organize my office. (One of these years this won’t be necessary)
  • Finish a chapter of An Excuse for Whiskey
  • Finish revisions on three short stories, so that I hit my 6 new stories goal for the year

Well, December didn’t go as planned (nor 2016 as a whole, amiright?) I did spend what feels like a significant portion of my December shoveling, but still, I’d hoped to do better.

The WiP didn’t cooperate, many moving parts led to me feeling like I was treading water for most of the month, but I do feel I’ve got things in order now, and so the last scenes I was waiting on writing/revising should be done soon.

I didn’t do a holiday-themed Thunder Road story this year, which, while it wasn’t one of my goals this year, was not for lack of trying. The first one didn’t work, the second I liked, but I didn’t have time to revise to my satisfaction, and a third–well I finally figured out how to do the story I’ve wanted to tell since I set out to write “While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks” so hopefully you’ll get to see that one next year. I wrote this story on the bus, or when I should’ve been sleeping because the damned Yule Lads wouldn’t stop harrassing me.

Here’s what my year in writing looked like, thanks again to Jamie Todd Rubin, from whom I poached this template:

2016-words-per-day-screenshot

In 2015, the first year I used this simple spreadsheet to track my words, I vowed to write every day, and I did that. For 2016, I didn’t concern myself with the “write something everyday”, so much as trying to finish projects. This led to quite a few thousand less words as I spend more time editing than drafting. But that’s okay. I finished revising a novel, submitted (and sold) it. I started another novel end of March, and finished my discovery draft early in May. Outside of the final polish of Graveyard Mind over the summer, most of the rest of 2016 was spent revising that beast. I can’t say much about the book yet, but it’s close to getting done. So close that I wish I would’ve started it in February instead of March, but hey, as a wise man once said:

fry-2

Codename: An Excuse for Wolves/Whiskey didn’t get finished but we got close to a first draft, more because of me than Sandra; deadlines kept me away from the book from August to November. I’m waiting to get the next chapter back from Sandra before I dive back in, but we’re definitely closing in on the book’s climax.

The big news of 2016 was that I sold Graveyard Mind to ChiZine Publications, and you’ll be able to read it in October 2018!

On the short story front: my story “Midnight Man versus Doctor Death” appeared in Tesseracts Nineteen: Superhero Universe, and “A Door in the Rock” appeared in Those Who Make Us: Canadian Creature, Myth, and Monster Stories. I’m quite proud of both tales. Midnight Man is tangentially related to the world of Graveyard Mind, and A Door in the Rock is set in the Thunder Road ‘verse. I’m stoked for digging deeper into the world of Graveyard Mind, and of course, I’m still enjoying fleshing out corners of Thunder Road.

I revised or completed three old stories for submission, drafted two new stories that are ready for submission after one more round of revisions, and submitted a brand new story. I also spend time revising one other story, and a novella that I couldn’t quite get to the point where I was content to let other eyes see them. Very close to hitting my short story goals for the year, despite my novel focus.

2016 saw me attend quite a few events–more than 2015 for sure. I tried a number of cons and festivals for the first time. Returned to a bunch more. Creative Ink Festival was definitely a highlight. Plus, I got to meet Galen Dara and Carrie Vaughn, and both of whom were awesome!

I got to do a bunch of business with friends!

business

Clare Marshall designed my new convention banner:

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Samantha Beiko and I did a comic together, (Mythfits!):

mythfits

and Sam also helped GMB Chomichuk, James Gillespie, Jonathan Ball and me put together Shared World Volume 2!

sharedworldcover2-copy-2

And! Kevin Madison did another Thunder Road image and a character design for Midnight Man!

Ted!

day-212-of-a-year-of-drawing-2016

Check out that Kirby Crackle! One of these days I’m going to write a story about how Ted ended up in this situation, which will be a neat reversal of Kevin illustrating my words more directly.

Midnight Man!

midnight-man

I really need to write another story about this guy, ’cause I love the loony bugger.

Samantha and I had a busy and fun year with ChiSeries: Winnipeg and I’m looking forward to 2017 being the same. Between readings, workshops, and panels, we hosted seven events in 2016. Pretty good for a reading series that’s supposed to be quarterly. If you haven’t checked us out, I hope to see you at one of our forthcoming events.

All said and done, I feel pretty good about my creative 2016. I would’ve liked to have written more words, finished more stories, finished more books, and gone to more conventions, but that is always going to be the case.

What’s on deck for 2017?

  • Write, revise, and submit a book within the 2017 calendar year.
  • Keep my short fiction out on submission.
  • Complete first draft of An Excuse for Whiskey.
  • Systematic finishing of the short stories I’ve started writing but not finished. I would like to get at least six new stories out the door this year.
  • Plan out a sequel to Graveyard Mind

Stretch Goals for 2017:

  • Edit one of my fallow novel first drafts.
  • Participate in NaNoWriMo.
  • Write a few comic scripts.

For January:

  • Finish and submit my 2016 book, which came close, but was not quite ready to submit.
  • Keep my short fiction on submission.
  • Finish revisions on one new story and submit it.

That’s gotta be enough!

Write on!

 

December Goals

How’d I do?

  • Keep my short stories on submission
  • Reread An Excuse for Whiskey so me and Sandra can get to the end
  • Get my WiP to my first readers

November did not cooperate. I spent entirely too much of my energy following the US election, and I couldn’t muster the concentration to revise a novel. I’d stare at chapter headings and do nothing.

November was also distracting for positive reasons, as I sold my novel Graveyard Mind to ChiZine Publications! Or as Brett Savory, co-founder of ChiZine put it, “New fam, y’all!” I spent a few days overwhelmed with the good news and thank you to everyone who made a point to say congrats, it was appreciated. Very stoked for people to be able to read this one, and to be sharing a publishing house with amazing writers like Michael Rowe, Gemma Files, David Nickle, and so many others whose work I admire tremendously.

It was looking like I wouldn’t get anything new done in November, and then mid-month I had a short story idea. I ran with it, drafting the story over three days, which is unusually fast for me, and then kept at it, to polish it up in time to submit to a themed anthology closing to submissions at the end of the month. It’s a Thunder Road ‘verse story–Loki making a new protagonist’s life “interesting” (as is his custom).

I also figured out how I wanted to fix an old draft of another story, and got it done in time to send off to my writing group for critique (they loved it! YAY!). This one is also a Thunder Road story, featuring the ravens Huginn and Muninn.

Finally, there was another themed anthology closing at the end of the month, and I had an existing story that was close, but not quite suitable, and so I revised that one as well. It was a near thing, but I got the story in (like an hour before deadline). I really wanted to stop working on it because that would have been easier. The revisions I set out to do made the story better (I think) but they were difficult, and I ran the danger of saying something I didn’t intend as I attempted to disentangle some of the tropes in the story. I think it worked out, and fingers crossed the editors feel the same.

I’ve never got two new stories sent away to two different anthologies in the same month, I’ve come close a few times in the past, and then gave up on polishing the second story, so I’m pretty happy about that. I paid for it the day after with a raging headache, but it was worth it.

I did finish my reread of An Excuse for Whiskey and I think I know what I need to write next to get the story going. Funny thing when you’ve got your head down, sometimes you forget you already wrote 7 pages of that next chapter. Hey, I’ll take it. Those seven pages mean I’ll be done sooner, and get to hand the job ball back to Sandra and bug her about finishing the next chapter. Of course, considering, She’s been waiting on my submission since the end of July, if I want to maintain my health I should probably not be too big of a jerk when I’ll get to read her next chapter.

Now’s the time to check back in with those yearly goals:

  • Systematic finishing of the short stories I’ve started writing but not finished. I would like to get at least six new stories out the door this year.
  • Draft, revise, and submit an entirely new novel.
  • Complete first draft on An Excuse for Wolves.
  • Revise 2015 WiP for submission to agents and editors.
  • Keep my short fiction out on submission.

Stretch goals!

  • Edit one of my fallow novel first drafts.
  • Participate in NaNoWriMo

Not too shabby!

Not sure I’m going to hit the short story goals, but I’m a lot closer than I was the last time I checked in. I’ve revised or finished three old stories and submitted them, and finished drafting two new ones. I’ve also done revision passes on a novella, and another short story. So…doable, I think. I’m crossing off the keep short fiction on submission, because I’ve been consistent with that all year, and I generally don’t submit stories in December.

I have a new novel, drafted, and have done some revision passes, but it’s not ready to submit yet, but that’s still definitely doable. Unfortunately, I really doubt Sandra and I will finish our first draft of An Excuse for Whiskey this year, but we’re close. So close!

As for those stretch goals, yeah. No way they’re happening this time around. If I’d had the  new book done by November, I would’ve taken a run at NaNoWriMo, but given how the month shook out, I wouldn’t have got to 50K.

And for December? Every year, I try to do too much. Every year I think I’ll get more done during my holidays. I’ve gotta try and be more realistic than I have in the past, December always goes faster than I expect.

  • Finish my WiP novel
  • Clean and organize my office. (One of these years this won’t be necessary)
  • Finish a chapter of An Excuse for Whiskey
  • Finish revisions on three short stories, so that I hit my 6 new stories goal for the year

Shit. I did it again. That’s too much. But here I go anyway.

Write on!

November Goals

How in the hell is it November already? Seriously. This year has just flown by.

So…how’d I do in October?

Ugh. Ugh. Ugh.

  • Keep my short stories on submission
  • Keep querying agents
  • Prep for C4
  • Finish revising a short story I’ve been noodling with and send it out
  • Get my WiP ready for first readers

Well. That didn’t go as planned.

There’s lots of reasons (excuses) I could list–illness, travel, events, autumn yardwork, birthdays, dayjob eating my spoons–all true, but they don’t really matter. I didn’t get anywhere near what I wanted to accomplish in October.

I didn’t have any short stories come back this month, so I didn’t have anything to send back out. I also didn’t send out any new stories. There’s still a few stories that are under consideration, so that’s okay. I didn’t get my next round of agent queries out, and I’ll probably wait until the new year to start querying again. That book is still under consideration with a few agents from my initial rounds, so we’ll see what happens there.

Got my C4 prep done, but it was a near thing! I was still some printing signage on the opening day of the con, but I got done what needed doing. C4 was fun. It was awesome to spend an weekend hanging with Samantha Beiko and Clare Marshall at our booth. Lots of cool stuff happened. More on that later in my C4 2016 Roundup post.

I finally finished a story I’ve been puttering with since January, and got it to my writing group for critique. I’m counting that because I badly needed a victory this month. The story still needs a bit of a spit polish, but it should be out on submission soon. It’s a fun one (I originally started it for a comedy anthology) set in the Thunder Road ‘verse, but with a completely different voice, and a protagonist inspired partly by one of my writer pals, who I hope won’t hold this fictional pastishe of her misadventures with wildlife against me (or at least, will only seek revenge via Tuckerization).

The big one eluded me again. The novel WiP is nowhere near ready for my first readers. Inserting the new scenes and smoothing things over has taken more time than I’d like, and I’ve been more distracted/exhausted than I’d like. It’s coming along though. I’m hopeful that I’ll still have this one out on submission by year’s end.

And for November?

  • Keep my short stories on submission
  • Reread An Excuse for Whiskey so me and Sandra can get to the end
  • Get my WiP to my first readers

Write on.

October Goals

Well September was a month, that’s for sure. I’m sure I’ve said this in the past, but I really need to stop booking things and setting ambitous goals in what is my civilian life’s busiest month. It felt like I was fighting a low-level cold most of the last two weeks of September, which I mostly managed to avoid having flare up into full on mucus kaiju.

So, how’d I do with September’s goals?

  • Keep my short stories on submission
  • Send out more novel queries to agents
  • Edits on my new WiP: finish currrent draft and at least one more to boot
  • Finish revising a short story I’ve been noodling with and send it out
  • Attend Sask Expo and have fun (and sell some books, maybe?)

Not great, but I moved the yardsticks a bit on a few things. Something getting done is always better than nothing, and if I wasn’t writing these posts, there’s every chance I would’ve done nothing in September.

I didn’t send any short stories out in September. The way things shook down, the stories I had available didn’t have any markets remaining for them that were currently open to submissions. I do still have some stories still out on submission, and a couple that I’ve got rewrite requests for so hopefully those will work out.

More agent queries went out. Not much to say about that book yet. When there’s good news I’ll share more.

I finished the draft I’d been working on in August, and came close (ish) to finishing that next one. Have pretty much written all the scenes I’d identified as missing from my discovery draft and the manuscript is currently sitting around 66000 words. I’ve written the last chapter, and have three chapters near the end that are outlined as to the basic events but need to be written yet to go. Expecting an average of 3000 words per chapter, that should take me to 75K, and I want this book to land somewhere around 80-85K, so totally reachable with some worldbuilding fleshed out, and a few more character building scenes. I’ve been waiting on finishing these final chapters until everything else was done, and the plot was more or less sorted so I could draw on everything to make the emotional core work. This book has been written a bit more peacemeal than I’d like, but considerably less so than Too Far Gone was, and so far the revisions seem to be proceeding faster than my last WiP. (Knocks all the wood.)

Saskatoon Expo was good! I sold some books. Got to visit with my good friends Clare and Mike a whole bunch, and got to chat with friend and former coworker (and fellow Evil Dead fanatic) Ian, so that was a nice bit of business there. I also did a reading at the Celebrating Manitoba event for THIN AIR, which was a wonderful night. I read a bit from Too Far Gone, and got to say a tribute to Wayne Tefs, and read a bit from his work.

Looks like finishing the short story drew the short straw again. Novels are my focus, but I’ve got a lot of time and words tied up in those half finished stories, and I was really hoping more of them might’ve got out the door by this point in the year. I’m going to try and get the current story done for my next writing group meeting.

And the goals for October?

  • Keep my short stories on submission
  • Keep querying agents
  • Prep for C4
  • Finish revising a short story I’ve been noodling with and send it out
  • Get my WiP ready for first readers

I think that’s too much. But I’m still gonna go for it.

Write on!

September Goals

First off, how’d I do in August?

  • Keep my short stories on submission
  • Query agents
  • First edit pass on my new manuscript
  • Prep for my panels at When Words Collide
  • Have fun at When Words Collide, regardless of Prix Aurora results
  • Write a chapter for An Excuse for Whiskey
  • Discuss Whiskey edits with Sandra Wickham at WWC

Stretch goals:

  • Finish revising a short story I’ve been noodling with and send it out

Not as great as I’d hoped. There were a number of sitting ducks on that list, so I should’ve been able to hit everything. The big one, well, one of the big ones is off the plate. My new urban fantasy novel is out the door and awaiting resposnse from agents.That means one of my yearly goals just bit the dust!

  • Revise 2015 WiP for submission to agents and editors.

I have some more queries to send out yet, but a few of the agencies I wanted to submit to were closed until after Labour Day.

As for the new manuscript, I got about three quarters of the way through my first round of edits, and have written roughly half the scenes and connective tissue I felt the first draft was missing. I love the early bits of the book to pieces. The middle and end still feel pretty rough, but hey, that’s why I revise. My first drafts come out super rough, and more about finding the story than the prose and I build them up, and polish them as I go forward.

When Words Collide was a good time. Unfortunately, the warp and weft of the con didn’t leave Sandra and I a lot of time to work on our book. We did decide that we need to do a reread of the early material as we drive to the novel’s climax. Unfortunately, we didn’t actually plot out the finale of the book. We’ve definitely been letting some early threads lie fallow. A nature of the beast that is collaborative writing, I think. I’m pretty good about being able to hold a whole book in my head while I write, but I’m not Professor X (despite my hairline) so when half of the book is hiding in Sandra’s brain, I’m not surprised that things have slipped. Still, we’ll figure it out. I love the world and characters we’ve created, so I can’t wait for folks to be able to read this one! I figure we have roughly three chapters each left to deliver to finish our first draft.

I didn’t win a Prix Aurora award, but I did have a blast driving with Samantha Beiko (12/10 would road trip again) despite my car not wanting to completely cooperate, and hanging with Clare Marshall is always awesome. Especially since she was a birthday princess that weekend! We skipped the dead dog to watch Dragonheart and drink whiskey.

I sent out what stories I had that weren’t already on submission and had likely markets available to them…which was not many this time around. A few stories are going to get trunked at the end of this year, I think. Which is why I really wanted to hit that stretch goal (and getting more new stories out this year was a part of my yearly goals list too).

And for September:

September is very busy at the day job, so I’m not going to push too hard. Especially since I have an out of town convention and a Winnipeg Writers Festival appearance to prep for.

  • Keep my short stories on submission
  • Send out more novel queries to agents
  • Edits on my new WiP: finish currrent draft and at least one more to boot
  • Finish revising a short story I’ve been noodling with and send it out
  • Attend Sask Expo and have fun (and sell some books, maybe?)

Write on!

August Goals

How’d I do in July?

  • Keep my short stories on submission
  • Proofread the book I finished editing in June and submit the finished book to agents
  • First edit pass on the manuscript I finished in May
  • Write a chapter for An Excuse for Whiskey

Not as great as I’d hoped. A few things came up in August that required more time than I expected. Proofreading went well, I didn’t even find anything major that I wanted to change at the last minute (which is almost scarier than finding I want to make a change). It’s been so long since the last time I queried agents that I basically had to start researching from scratch. I have a top ten list I want to start with and we’ll go from there and see what happens.

We’ll see what happens when I’m done my query letter and synopsis, that is. Both of those have eaten up a lot of my time, because if I can’t nail those, it might not matter how good the manuscript is. Yay, pressure! I feel like I they’re close, but not quite ready to send (and my synopsis is still too long) so no queries went out. I really didn’t want to start editing the next draft until after I’d completely washed my hands of the previous one.

A cool thing I wasn’t expecting: I was asked to mentor a young fantasy writer as a part of ACI Manitoba’s Careers in the Arts Youth Mentorship program. Very exciting! It’s a big commitment, but I would’ve loved to have had access to these programs when I was younger, so I was happy to say yes. This’ll be my second time working with ACI, as I facilitated their teen program a few years ago.

And my goals for August:

  • Keep my short stories on submission
  • Query agents
  • First edit pass on my new manuscript
  • Prep for my panels at When Words Collide
  • Have fun at When Words Collide, regardless of Prix Aurora results
  • Write a chapter for An Excuse for Whiskey
  • Discuss Whiskey edits with Sandra Wickham at WWC

Stretch goals:

  • Finish revising a short story I’ve been noodling with and send it out

It’s going to be a bit tight to get through everything, but I’ve got some holidays. Of course I’ve also got an out of town convention in there and a weekend getaway too.

Write on!

July Goals And Half Year Check In

How in the hell is the year half over? I blame Loki. Yeah. That’s the ticket.

  • Systematic finishing of the short stories I’ve started writing but not finished. I would like to get at least six new stories out the door this year.
  • Draft, revise, and submit an entirely new novel.
  • Complete first draft on An Excuse for Wolves.
  • Revise 2015 WiP for submission to agents and editors.
  • Keep my short fiction out on submission.

Stretch goals!

  • Edit one of my fallow novel first drafts.
  • Participate in NaNoWriMo

So, at first glance, not a lot of progress on the yearly goals, but I still have hope. I have drafted a new novel, so that’s one big one, and while Sandra and I haven’t finished An Excuse for Wolves, we’ve got maybe 20k left to draft. We’re pushing to have the draft done for When Words Collide so we can have a revision talk while we’re both in the same city. And…other than a final proof read, last year’s WiP is done! I just have to get my submission packages ready (YAY! Synopsis time! Yay./sarcasm). So that’s a lot of the big stuff on the list taken care of.

As for revising that new novel, it actually has a due date of November with the publisher, so I’d better take care of that next!

On the short story front, I’ve been good about keeping my stories out on submission, but the year’s only half over, so I can’t cross that one off yet. Still, off to a stronger start than last year. Maintaining that start will be harder, as a number of my older stories are running out of available markets. Which means I really do need to get some new short stories finished. This year has been less kind in that regard. I’ve only finished one of the six I’d hoped to have done. I’ve done revision passes on two more, but they’re not quite ready to submit. It’s almost half way to my goal, but still feels pretty far away from it.

Starting to think those stretch goals aren’t going to happen. If they do, it’ll be NaNoWriMo I try first. Having done revisions on two separate novels, I’ll want to write something new before digging into a third revision of the year (I do wish I enjoyed that part of the process more).

So that’s the big picture, what about June?

  • Keep my short stories on submission
  • Final edit on my previous WiP to incorporate first reader feedback
  • Edit pass on my Illuminaughty novella
  • Finish my next chapter of An Excuse for Whiskey
  • Read a couple of books I’ve been approached to blurb
  • See the goddamned sun, play some tennis, roll some dice (not writing related, but I need to hold enjoying the little things to the same account as my writing

Stretch goal!

  • Work on my agent query package for my next book

Sweet! Another month with the deck cleared! Pretty happy about that.

I finished the final edits on a book while at a creator retreat with some folks I know from C4. Also managed to do an edit pass on my novella. Altered some structural things to the story, and wrote some new scenes, tidied up the prose a bit. Still a lot of work left before I’ll show that story to anyone, but it’s getting there. Also it’s my first novella, so a few learning curves in pacing, but all in all, I like that length. I should write more of them. You know, in my dubious spare time (that I reserve for watching Star Wars: The Force Awakens).

I wasn’t particularly happy with the chapter I sent Sandra this time out, but it’s done, and the plot moved forward, and the sooner we finish this draft, the sooner we can fix the book.

Both of the books I read with an eye for blurbing were really fun! Don Bassingthwaite’s Cocktails at Seven, Apocalypse at Eight, and S.G. Wong’s Devil Take the Hindmost. Check them out when they release, you won’t regret it!

I did get outside. Lots of walking. Not enough tennis. Not enough dice rolling. But I’ve started a new D&D game because I miss it and busy as writing keeps me, I think I need to have some creative pursuits that aren’t specifically geared to publication.

And here’s what I hope to accomplish in July:

  • Keep my short stories on submission
  • Proofread the book I finished editing in June and submit the finished book to agents
  • First edit pass on the manuscript I finished in May
  • Write a chapter for An Excuse for Whiskey

That should keep me busy!

Write on!