July Goals & Half Year Check In


Time for a goals check in. It’s…uh…been a while. I skipped posting about how April went, or setting goals for May or June. But we’re at the halfway point of the year, so I thought I’d take a look back at 2017 so far.

First, how did April go?

  • Send in pitches for two short stories, write at least one of them if accepted
  • Keep working on my next novel

Awful, creatively speaking.

I did send in one of my two short story pitches, but the novel just wasn’t working. Not sure if I outlined it too heavily, and hadn’t left myself sufficient discovery points to want to keep writing, the protagonist wasn’t right, or it was a wrong book, wrong time situation. I still like the kernel of the idea, and will likely come back to it later.

And May:

  • Finish and submit April’s short story.
  • Finish my second short story pitch.
  • Submit my MAC grant application

Not much better. I really need to start following Chuck Wendig’s advice. Motivation has been thin on the ground, and a couple projects fell through that I was excited about. That’s the creative life. I did get my grant application in, so knock wood for me.

July Goals:

  • Finish a reread of an old fallow novel to identify my first round of revisions.
  • Finish a draft of a new short story for an upcoming anthology.
  • Finish another chapter for An Excuse for Whiskey.

There all caught up.

Now…what did I hope to accomplish 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.

Fair to say that first goal isn’t likely to happen now. Fastest I’ve got a novel into submission shape so far is 11 months.

I’ve been keeping my short fiction on submission, but until I finish some new stories, and the last few I finished sold, many of my unsold stories are out of applicable markets. I’ve finished one of the six old stories I’d hoped to get out the door this year (and it sold, yay!) so there’s lots more work to do to meet that goal, but I’m getting closer on a few of those stories (I’ve also mostly drafted a new one, but it’ll need significant revisions before it’s out the door).

Sandra and I have only added two chapters to An Excuse for Whiskey, but we are getting closer. I’m not sure we’ll have the draft done before When Words Collide, but I’m sure having a chance to hang out in person will spur us on to finish the book. On the plus side, I am pretty sure what the sequel to Graveyard Mind will be. I’ve mostly assembled my playlist, and am close to having my outline soundtrack

Since the book I’d wanted to draft this year wasn’t working, I’ve promoted one of the stretch goals, and have been revising an old fallow draft instead. Ideally, I’d like to have it done before Can-Con in Ottawa. If I meet that deadline, I’ll be free to play in NaNaWriMo again this year.

Write on.

April Goals

How’d I do in March?

  • Finish outlining my next novel and start writing it maybe?
  • Now that I’ve changed my Thunder Road Facebook page to a more general author page, I want to start developing a social media calendar. It won’t likely involve autoposts, I hate those, but I do need some sort of plan.
  • Finish a new chapter for An Excuse for Whiskey
  • Get a new short story to my writing group for critique

I finally locked down (more or less) my outline for my next book. I’m not an outliner by nature, so this is a huge leap forward for me, process-wise. (A huger leap forward would be to have more actual writing done.) My initial outline drafts had way too much going on for the length I’m hoping to hit. I want this novel to come in at 60-65K–70K tops–which means if I succeed it will be my shortest novel. There were a couple subplots that I liked that had to be cut, because I knew they’d end up pushing the book to 90K, and better to just not write them than cut them later if I want to finish this book this year. I did start the book too, I have my first chapter roughly in shape, still not sure of the narrator’s voice, but it’s getting there. I’ve got about 5K in total, scattered across various scenes throughout the book that came to me as I outlined. So I guess I’m almost 10% done!

The social media calendar isn’t ready to roll, but I have a few new ideas for recurring posts, and I think I know the shape I want this strategy to take, so hopefully I’ll be ready to go in the summer.

Sent my chapter off to Sandra for An Excuse for Whiskey, left her with a big cliffhanger to figure out. We’re really getting in spitting distance of the end of this draft. Then the real work begins. We figured out how to write together, soon we’ll have to figure out how to edit together.

My writing group didn’t end up meeting in March, but I kept plugging away at the story anyway. I finished another draft of the story I’d wanted to submit, but it’s starting to head into novella territory, which I’m excited about, but also means it’ll take a bit longer to edit. Gonna rethink what I want that one to be. If I finish it, it’ll be the first Thunder Road story that takes place chronologically post-Too Far Gone. We’ll see.

What’s up for April?

  • Send in pitches for two short stories, write at least one of them if accepted
  • Keep working on my next novel

March Goals

What the hell happened to February?

I had my head down for so much of the month that I didn’t get around to posting my goals, but I was still working away at them.

For January/February:

  • 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.

Okay, it took me two months to finish that first goal, but it’s done, submitted, and awaiting feedback from my editor. The novel in question was not only my shortest to date (84K; for comparision, Thunder Road was around 95K when I submitted it, Tombstone Blues 105K, and Too Far Gone was 135K. All of those lengths changed a bit–Too Far Gone the most drastically, with a pub length of 115K) it was also the fastest I’ve ever gotten a novel into submission shape. While I didn’t hit my goal of submitting the novel in the calendar year of 2016, it took me just under 11 months to actually write and revise the book once I got down to the writing. And considering I took a few months off in the summer to finish revising Graveyard Mind, I feel better about my chances of finishing the book I start this year within the bounds of 2017.

The short story I finished revising and then submitted, sold to an anthology. I’ll talk more about it when the contract is signed, and the editors announce more details. I will say it’s another Thunder Road ‘verse story. Pretty excited to see my second sale of 2017 so early in the year.

And for March:

  • Finish outlining my next novel and start writing it maybe?
  • Now that I’ve changed my Thunder Road Facebook page to a more general author page, I want to start developing a social media calendar. It won’t likely involve autoposts, I hate those, but I do need some sort of plan.
  • Finish a new chapter for An Excuse for Whiskey
  • Get a new short story to my writing group for critique

Write on!

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:

wp-image-49120435jpg.jpg

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!