Half-Year Check-in

So, here’s what I had up for 2019.

  • Finish drafting and revising Graveyard Mind 2
  • Revise 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
  • Separating my IP from a work-for-hire project that didn’t pan out.
  • Be ready to write that new book by November for NaNoWriMo
  • Read more

And how are we doing? Not especially great, nothing is crossed off the list, but early days yet, and I’m hoping now that my move is done, things will start turning the corner, creatively speaking.

State of Writing: I’ve only added about 15K to the Graveyard Mind 2 manuscript, but I know the shape of what the book will be, and how I want it to influence what will come later in the series. Between a few real life things, it’s been tricky for Sandra and I to sit down and hammer out the revision task list for An Excuse for Whiskey, but I am confident that we’ll get there. I’ve got two new stories out the door so far, and both sold! One will be appearing in Earth: Giants, Golems, & Garygoles, and another I can’t talk about yet. I have one more story that is almost drafted and is due by month’s end. It’s not an old piece of unfinished writing, but I’m still going to count it as getting me half way to my six story goal for the year.

Earth-Lg

I haven’t done any work separating out that IP. I’m largely considering just writing off that work entirely. I wasted a creative year on that book, but for now, it doesn’t seem worth the bother to revisit, just a waste of further time. I have, however, been happily worldbuilding and outlining (sort of) the next thing I want to write. If I’ve crossed GM2 off the list, or at least finished the draft by then, I think I’ll be ready to start writing the mystery project in November.

State of Reading: So this was a non-writing related goal, but still a very important part of the writing. You know, such as remembering why I got into writing in the first place, and that’s because I love to read. Mostly have been rereading as I prepped for the move, but I finished a couple more Seanan McGuire books in the series I’ve been following, and finished off Sam Sykes’ Bring Down Heaven trilogy. I also reread my way through the Moonshae trilogy by Douglas Niles, and R.A. Salvatore’s Dark Elf trilogy and Icewind Dale trilogy. Sam Sykes definitely got the old D&D nostalgia vibes going, but comfort reads were what was going to happen, so it was fun to revisit some of the books I read so long ago. I’ve also been doing a bunch of gaming reading as I try to digest some new game systems I’ve recently purchased and want to get to the table, such as Invisible Sun, Mecha Hack, RuneQuest, and Tiny Supers.

State of Gaming: I’ve tried a few new games. Gaming is another big reason why I became a writer, and so while it’s usually the first thing that gets cut when the deadlines roll in, I’ve been missing it. I participated in Dungeon Musings’ game marathon, where we played Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers of Hyperborea. I started playing in a Forbidden Lands campaign one of my buddies is running. The 5e D&D game I’m in with my high school group resumed after a moving hiatus and I hosted the first game in my new place. A new game just started up with the gang I played all the way through 3rd/3.5 D&D with, this time using 5th edition, and set in Greyhawk. I should be returning to the GM side of the table with a Marvel Superheroes game set in the MCU set post-Civil War and running a couple of Pacific Rim inspired one-shots and short games using Tiny Fontiers: Mecha and Monsters and Mecha Hack.

State of the Writer Himself: I’ve dropped thirty pounds since Christmas, largely due to a bunch of small changes accumulating to bigger results than I’d expected. Derek Künsken started #7300 Club on Twitter on New Year’s Day, a challenge to do 20 push ups a day for the year. When I saw the challenge, I snarked that I couldn’t promise to try, but I’d try to try, and when I did, I got mad at how much more difficult the exercise was than I remembered, so I kept going. My pal and co-writer Sandra Wickham who knows a shit-ton about this kind of stuff, suggested I vary my exercises and take a rest day, so I’ve been doing that and gradually ramping up my sets and repetitions of all the exercises. It’s all just body resistance stuff at the moment. Most of the weight loss likely came from my decision to quit eating so much garbage at work. So long, Tim Hortons sausage biscuit breakfast, hello banana. Cutting the junk food at work however meant I didn’t need to do much about my other meals to see results. It feels good. The last time I’d been under 200 pounds was after a bout of food poisoning that coincided with having to build a fence in thirty degree heat (I do not recomment this method for a variety of reasons). I’m back to the weight I was in my mid-twenties, and good thing I’m a pack rat, because some of the concert t-shirts I bought back then fit me again. The other exciting part of getting into better shape (you know, other than just plain feeling better) is that the words have been coming more regularly than they did all of last year.

The other big thing: I moved.

This has been a long time coming, we’ve been talking about it for a while now, and it’s finally happened. Sold our house and bought a condo. I’m hoping the lower maintenance will free up more time for writing, and maybe allow my sweetie to travel with me a bit more.

Most of the late winter and early spring was spent getting the house ready to sell, and the rest of spring until now was dealing with the move and unpacking. But I have a functional office again (mostly), so this, combined with just feeling better in general, leads me to believe the backend of 2019 will be better creatively. Any way, that’s me for now.

Write on!

New Year, New Goals 2019 Edition

So? How was your creative 2018?

Well, here’s how it felt.

Here’s what I ACTUALLY crossed off the list:

  • Finish drafting and revising Graveyard Mind 2
  • Finish drafting An Excuse for Whiskey
  • Keep my short fiction on submission
  • 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
  • Separating my IP from a work-for-hire project that didn’t pan out
  • Finish a draft of a secret project me and a buddy are collaborating on
  • Finish two comic scripts

Stretch Goals

  • Start writing a new book

Honestly, this is better than I expected 2018 to have turned out to be. i only drafted about 60000 words, down to nearly a third of what I’d done the last two years and even worse when compared to 2015.

I didn’t get much further on Graveyard Mind 2. Edits and then touring Graveyard Mind took up more energy than I expected. But! Me and Sandra Wickham made a big push at the end of the year and finished the first draft of An Excuse for Whiskey (We really need to find a title for that bloody book!) and that secret project which I still can’t talk about.

Keeping my short fiction on submission didn’t take a lot of energy as I only had a couple short stories that haven’t been trunked still in search of homes, and two of those sold! Which means of course, if I want to keep my short fiction on submission in 2019, I really need to finish some more of it. As to that, 2018 wasn’t great for finishing stories. I jumped around a lot between stories, making progress on several but not quite finishing any of them. A couple of those shorts have grown into novellas, which is relatively new territory for me, but that’s the length they want to be. We’ll see if that’s the length they need to be when I’m done with the drafting. I did a bit of work outlining one of the comic scripts I wanted to write, and while I know the page beats I want to hit, the actual script is far from finished. I didn’t start a second script.

Separating the IP from the work-for-hire project fared the worst. I made next to no progress. It’s one of the things I know needs to be done, but it sometimes feels like throwing good time after bad, when I spent most of 2017 on a novel that won’t (and can’t) see the light of day until this task is done, when every desire spurs me to just write the next damned thing.

What is the next damn thing? I guess I’ve started it, in that I’ve been doing a bunch of world building. There’s a few exploratory bits of writing that’ve happened as I’ve wondered who the protagonist is going to be. There’s even a map! But I’m holding off on writing too much actual prose until Graveyard Mind 2 is in the bag.

So, what’s up for 2019?

  • Finish drafting and revising Graveyard Mind 2
  • Revise 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
  • Separating my IP from a work-for-hire project that didn’t pan out.
  • Be ready to write that new book by November for NaNoWriMo
  • Read more

That’s gotta be plenty.

April Goals

How’d I do in March?

  • Separate IP from that work-for-hire project, which means a reread and LOTS of notes to write, and forms to fill out
  • Finish final round of substantive edits for Graveyard Mind (already done!)
  • Finish drafting a new short story
  • Submit a story to On Spec
  • Start arranging book launch and tour details for Graveyard Mind

I got some of my IP work done, but not all. The unwritten pitches are close to being ready to send in to the publisher, but the novel that was actually submitted needs to undergo a full rewrite stripping any of their IP before they’ll sign off on me being able to submit it elsewhere. I hadn’t really planned on revising that book this year, I wanted to finish the sequel to Graveyard Mind first, but I also really want this line item to be off my plate.

After I turned in the final round of substantive edits for Graveyard Mind, the proofreader notes showed up hot on their heels. I don’t know why those minor changes make me sweat more than dealing with the big stuff, but they do. Probably because each step brings me closer to not being able to make any changes. Shortly after those were done, ChiZine had Graveyard Mind laid out, so my page proofs arrived. Got those done too.

While I didn’t finish the new story, I did have one I haven’t submitted to On Spec yet, so I got something in to them, at least. I also booked Graveyard Mind launch dates in Winnipeg, Edmonton, and Calgary. More details to come soon, and hopefully more cities to add to the tour!

Over the last couple months I’ve been working on some gaming setting pitches for an open call. I narrowed those down to one I liked best, and sent it off. I also ended up doing a proofread for my story “All and Nothing” and finally getting a chapter of An Excuse for Whiskey to Sandra.

And for April:

  • Finish a new comic script
  • Get Midnight Man Magazine assembled for Prairie Comics Festival in May

 

March 2018 Goals

Well. Once I again, I forgot that February is a short month; made shorter this time by the ghost of a Christmas cold past returning with a vengeance.

My February Goals:

  • Separate IP from that work-for-hire project, which means a reread and LOTS of notes to write, and forms to fill out
  • Work on something fun and super secret
  • Write a chapter for An Excuse for Whiskey
  • Finish polishing one of my comic scripts and send it to my editor
  • Finish edits on my story “Midnight Man versus Frankie Flame”

I still feel pretty good about what I got accomplished (including finishing my goals post in a relatively timely manner this month)! Separating my IP was never going to be fun, so I’m not surprised it got dropped, especially given a short month and week-long illness.

The super fun and super secret thing is moving along, I hope to make more progress soon, and have more news soon. I didn’t get my Excuse for Whiskey chapter to Sandra when I’d hoped to, but I did write it. A few things weren’t hanging together, but it’s close to me being willing to share it with Sandra. I reread the previous fifty pages of the story and some of our notes before I got started up again, but that wasn’t quite enough after a long (too long) vacation from working on the book.

My comic script has been edited, revised, and is in the hands of the artist. This will be the first Midnight Man comic story, and I’m really excited to see the finished piece. If all goes according to plan, you’ll be able to get this story at Prairie Comics Festival in May. Also in Midnight Man news, “Midnight Man versus Frankie Flame” was revised and returned to Rhonda Parrish for her Fire: Demons, Dragons and Djinn anthology. I had a ton of fun writing this story, and I’m stoked for people to read it.

And what’s on deck for March:

  • Separate IP from that work-for-hire project, which means a reread and LOTS of notes to write, and forms to fill out
  • Finish final round of substantive edits for Graveyard Mind (already done!)
  • Finish drafting a new short story
  • Submit a story to On Spec
  • Start arranging book launch and tour details for Graveyard Mind

That’s more than enough, I think!

New Year, New Goals 2018 Edition

Well 2017 was certainly something.

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.

How’d I do?

Not only was 2017 a bad year for achieving goals, it was also a bad year for writing about them. Somewhere along the line, I gave up on posting about my monthly goals (even this post is late! I got sick end of 2017, and then novel edits dropped right after New Year’s). Largely, because not much was happening for me on the writing front. I spent way too much energy following U.S. politics, which was something I was probably not alone in doing.

Novel work definitely took most of the brunt of this inaction. I didn’t write, revise, and submit a new novel in 2017. I think I only managed to add one chapter to An Excuse for Whiskey. I got about three chapters into revisions on an old novel manuscript before deciding to trunk it (at least for now). I pursued NaNoWriMo only because of how few words I’d produced in 2017, and I hoped the mutual energy of the event would give me a kick in the ass to start typing again–and it did! I knocked out a little more than 50000 words of a followup to the forthcoming Graveyard Mind. This sequel was not the book I’d planned on writing, but then, Graveyard Mind had been a NaNoWriMo book too, and it’d also displaced the one I’d planned on writing, so it was sort of fitting its sequel would do the same.

Short fiction fared the best in 2017. I kept my unsold short stories out on submission for the first half of the year, until they either sold, or I’d expended their potential markets. 2017 was also my best year for short fiction sales, with four stories sold! One of those I was convinced I would have to trunk despite it garnering a couple personalized rejections along the way, so that was a nice surprise. Two stories sold (Eating of the Tree and Midnight Man versus Frankie Flame) were among my stories that’d been started and not finished previously, both of which I finally got back to when a likely anthology for them opened to submissions. The final sale, to Equus, “Scatter the Foals to the Wind,” I wrote new in November 2016 and sold early in 2017. I also self-published two new Thunder Road stories in a short collection, Wolf and Wing, bringing my new stories finished in 2017 to four. Not bad, despite not making my goal.

I wrote one six page comic script, which is mostly polished, and outlined two more. Hopefully they will see the light of day this year. There’s at least one more script I’ve been noodling on, we’ll see what happens with that one.

Here’s what I want to do in 2018:

  • Finish drafting and revising Graveyard Mind 2
  • Finish drafting An Excuse for Whiskey
  • Keep my short fiction on submission
  • 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
  • Separating my IP from a work-for-hire project that didn’t pan out
  • Finish a draft of a secret project me and a buddy are collaborating on
  • Finish two comic scripts

Stretch Goals

  • Start writing a new book

And January specifically:

  • Revisions for Graveyard Mind

And since I spent most of January fixing Graveyard Mind, here’s my goals for February:

  • Separate IP from that work-for-hire project, which means a reread and LOTS of notes to write, and forms to fill out
  • Work on something fun and super secret
  • Write a chapter for An Excuse for Whiskey
  • Finish polishing one of my comic scripts and send it to my editor
  • Finish edits on my story “Midnight Man versus Frankie Flame”

 

 

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