February Writing Round-Up

Twenty-eight days of work. Twenty-eight days of not taking any downtime for the sake of downtime. This has been a good month.

  • Words Written: 33,543  (YTD: 55,981 | 2017 Goal: 200,000+)
  • Works Complete: 1 flash piece finished, revised, and submitted! (YTD: 2 | 2017 Goal: 10)
  • Submissions to Paying Markets: 9 (YTD: 22)
  • Books Read: 4 (YTD: 7* | 2017 Goal: 30) *I think I missed a book in my January report
  • PLUS
    • 7 rejections (1 personal)
    • Attended Bokone 2017 as a panelist and moderator! Best Boskone yet for me!
    • I did take those days and one for prep off of writing, in part because what little down-time I had was given to ELF. But I’m okay with that. That was work, but it wasn’t writing. I’m proud that I got back to it with no hesitation. That’s how it should be.
    • I interviewed author Meg Howrey and the Q&A appeared in Publishers Weekly! I’ve got a few more of these in the work beyond the reviews I’ve been doing for them.
    • Codex Weekend Warrior 2017 wrapped. I wrote 4/5 stories and have revised and subbed 2 of those 4 already this year. Very pleased with the other 3 ideas that came from the contest, and they’re in my queue. I’ll definitely play again next year, and I’m going to shoot for finishing all 5 stories.
    • I’ve entered #PitchMadness! Just a good way to get myself prepped for everything that comes next for Botanizer.
    • Speaking of Botanizer, my critique is next Sunday. #dyingofbrainweasels
    • I ended January with 13k written in #Brains, my jaunty drivel project that has nothing to do with zombies. This month, that MS us up to 45k and counting!
    • Days I’ve written this month: 24/28
    • Days written since the inauguration: 34/38
    • Longest streak: 31 days

A note for March and April: I’ll be moving away from hard-and-fast metrics as I revise. My big goals: 1) Finish #Brains, 2) Revise Botanizer, 3) get a short story written, revised, and submitted.

November Writing Round-Up

Um, wait. It’s December 1?

  • Fifteenth rejection! Such is the business. Also got a rejection for a grant to which I applied, but it included some wonderful positive feedback.
  • Five submissions, three still active.
  • No new short stories. I promised myself I wouldn’t start anything new until after the novel revisions and I stuck with it.
  • NOVEL PROGRESS (everyone’s favorite panic attack) continues well. I made some more great breakthroughs. I’m currently 8 chapters from the end. That could mean a few weeks, a few months, or a few years, depending on how much time I put in.
  • NaNoWriMo went by and I didn’t write a word for it. This is good since I hadn’t finished novel revisions…
  • I went to my writing group’s annual retreat (just for a few hours, really) and it was wonderful as ever. Nothing  like your tribe to keep you sane and productive.
  • I have a tentative schedule for Arisia programming and that makes me very happy. More on that as it happens!
  • I haven’t been reading a lot this month, but I’ve been working, so here’s a STUFF I’VE BEEN DOING segment
    • Calling my Senators/Congressman about issues at the national level. There are, ya know, a few.
    • Calling my state legislators about issues at the state level, from taking a stand against some of the stuff happening at the federal level to bills I’m hoping get reintroduced in the new legislative session. I’ve gotten a really lovely personal call back regarding one issue, and it was great to know that I’d been heard.
    • Calling my city counselors and finding ways to engage with city politics. I live here and I care. Therefore I should be doing more than getting upset when the newspaper reports decisions I don’t like.
    • Donating. To the NoDAPL efforts and in support of the water protectors. To local organizations that matter to my heart. To movements that I believe in.
    • Reading and listening to things that make me mad. I had done this relatively often before, but I think it’s definitely important now. Not knowing another perspective exists excuses nothing.
    • Talking to like-minded friends. Just because there’s an echo doesn’t mean it’s wrong to converse and congregate and share resources.
    • Sending and receiving support from wonderful friends. You guys have helped keep me sane in this crazy time and sending you reassurances has made me stay focused. So thanks.
  • Upcoming Goals
    • Dec 31 Have novel out for critique NO LATER THAN THIS (still doable)
    • Dec 31 Keep at least 3/4 stories on submission at all times
    • Dec 31 Finish 5 pieces (any length) in 2016 (3 down, 2 to go!)

October Writing Round-Up

I don’t know if you like reading these posts, but it turns out that I like writing them, so you’re going to keep getting them. So what have I been up to in the last month?

  • Tenth rejection! *and the crowd goes wild* Yes, I submitted stories often enough in the last month that I got FIVE more rejections. Crazy stuff. Also, of the five rejections, three were personal. And of the personals, one (at least) is getting framed because it was so nice.
  • Six submissions, three still active! That includes one new story in the mix. And I’m working on finding reprint opportunities for “Taking Care of Business.” This means that I’m already one over my ultimate submission goal for the year!
  • One new short story. I missed the deadline for the Codex Halloween contest but then managed to write something after the Viable Paradise reunion. This means I have 3 works finished this year of the 5 that I’d like. Shooting for at least one more short that has been keeping me thinking and thinking, plus the novel (duh)
  • NOVEL PROGRESS (that’s why you’re here, right?) has been amazing. No, I’m not done. Still plugging away far slower than I’d like when it comes to words/day. BUT. I made some really great revisions that have really  made the Dreaded Middle pick up the pace. And my research reading has helped me along significantly. Can’t say enough about how important it is to be well read going into books like this one.
  • NaNoWriMo is probably off the table for me. I am being very strict with myself that I cannot start another sizeable project without finishing the novel.
  • I got two wonderful nods from my peers. Two short stories (both on submission currently) placed in friendly contests, one run by BSpec and one by Viable Paradise alums. I am honored and encouraged by the responses.
  • Viable Paradise’s reunion, Paradise Regained, was exactly that. I needed that weekend so much and will probably be forever thanking the staff for all the extra work they did to host us.
  • Stuff I Read This Month
    • “Writing Begins with Forgiveness: Why One of the Most Common Pieces of Writing Advice Is Wrong” by Daniel Jose Older. This has been keeping me sane this month. I hope it can do the same for you.
    • About Writing by Samuel R. Delany. Still working through this one and I’ll probably start re-reading it when I hit the last page. He bills it as a book for writers who already know what they’re doing, and I don’t feel pandered to. Nor do I feel like I’m being taught literary lessons at the expense of my love for genre. Nor am I learning lessons from genre at the expense of my love for literature. To Delany, talented writing is always that, no matter what you’re writing about. Huge thanks to the Writing the Other instructors for putting this on my radar.
    • Walking the Clouds edited by Grace L. Dillon. I haven’t finished this, but everything I’ve read has been eye opening and great food for thought. I think of all of the books I’ve used for research, this has helped me the most (more on this when I share some experiences about the writing process). I’d hazard a very broad generalization to say that anyone writing SFF should read this anthology, because I think it can only help widen your perspective and because you can never go wrong when you’re reading good work.
  • Upcoming Goals
    • Nov ?? Finish novel revisions (I’m okay now with this taking the time it needs)
    • Nov 30 Finish NaNoWriMo OR a novella (MAYBE. But only after novel revisions!)
    • Dec 31 Have novel out for critique NO LATER THAN THIS (hopefully much earlier)
    • Dec 31 Keep at least 3/4 stories on submission at all times
    • Dec 31 Finish 5 pieces (any length) in 2016 (3 down, 2 to go!)

September Writing Round-up

It’s been quite a month! I’m not even sure where it went, but I can say that I got some good work done.

  • Fifth rejection! If rejected short stories tell you anything good about a writer, they are, at the very least, proof that the writer is submitting. Can’t publish if you don’t submit; can’t submit without facing rejection. So I got my fifth-ever rejection from a short story market today. Time to throw a rejection party!
  • Three submissions. No, not three new stories, but three opportunities taken. I got my SFish piece out the door, put “Taking Care of Business” out for a potential reprint opportunity, and sent the third story to a new market. I might be able to log 10 submissions this year, depending on the turn-around on the existing submissions and how many more shorts are in my immediate future. It’s not exactly a square in Career Bingo, but it’s close.
  • One new short story in progress. A Halloween-y story for a friendly contest on Codex. Trying out second-world fantasy in short form. The big question: can I get it done by next weekend and keep it under the required 5k? We’ll see.
  • NOVEL PROGRESS. Okay, seriously. It’s been slow, but there. I pushed through a few chapters, struggled, pushed through, struggled. And then I needed to get the SFish piece out the door and had some freelance stuff come up. You know, life. So here’s the goal: I will finish the novel revision by Oct 31. There, I said it. Expect a Halloween update from me with good news on that front.
  • I also had the exciting opportunity to put my name in as a potential panelist to two local SFF conventions, Arisia and Boskone. I filled out my participant surveys for both and will hear back about whether they think I’m a good fit for this year’s panel selection or not. I’m thrilled to give this a go. In addition, I suggested a workshop for GrubStreet’s Muse and the Marketplace conference in May. So next year there might be a great deal of public speaking to do. And if you know me, you know this is a good thing.
  • Some Stuff I Read this Month (last month I did a “Stuff I Read on the Internet” section, but this month was more about fiction online and offline, so…)
    • The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin. My review on Goodreads says it all: SO. RUSTING. GOOD.
    • Saga, Vol. 1. Everyone said I needed to read this and everyone was right. Can’t wait to get my hands on the next one!
    • “A Ladies’ Guide to Collecting Mermaid Love Songs” (Daily Science Fiction) by Aimee Picci, one of my very talented Viable Paradise XVIII classmates.
    • There was more but these things floated to the surface for me when drafting this
  • Upcoming Goals
    • Oct 8 Finish/submit story for Codex Halloween contest
    • Oct 12-14 Attend Paradise Regained (VP reunion!)
    • Oct 31 Finish novel revisions
    • Nov 30 Finish NaNoWriMo OR a novella
    • Dec 31 Submit 10 times in 2016
    • Dec 31 Finish 5 pieces (any length) in 2016

August Writing Round-Up

In the first of what I hope will be a series, here’s a look at my writing life in the last month and resources I’ve found particularly helpful.

  • Short story sold! Is there anyone on the internet who doesn’t know that I sold my first short story this month? Check out Sword & Steam Short Stories‘ full TOC and marvel at what looks to be a really cool anthology. Add it to your Goodreads shelf and then pre-order a copy!
  • Two new shorts written:
    • one a [redacted]-punk story I submitted to both my writing group’s contest (anonymous, hence the redaction) and to a magazine.
    • one near-future sci-fi that got written in all of three hours; it caught me off guard I’m excited about it
  • Novel progress! Yes I promise I’m still working on it. I’m making some really solid headway on this revision and am enthused.
  •  Grant application sent. I applied for a Sustainable Arts Foundation grant, which go to artists who are also parents. Long shot? Yes. But what about writing isn’t  long shot? If you’re a parent and an artist, apply. Deadline is tomorrow!
  • I was honored to be a Sentient Squid Scholarship recipient which afforded me the opportunity to take two excellent Writing the Other classes:
    • The Writing the Other Weekend Intensive: A weekend-long online course–taught live by Nisi Shawl and K Tempest Bradford–focusing on writing in an educated and sensitive manner about people who don’t look or live like you. We looked at specific categories through which people are othered (e.g., race, gender/sexuality, and class) and also craft issues (e.g., dialogue and worldbuilding) that can create problematic fiction if done wrong or really brilliant fiction if done right. I particularly loved the exercises, which have already made me think about my work differently (see “Novel progress!” and one of the short stories mentioned above).
    • Writing Native American Characters Master Class: This two-hour class was packed with information, but it topic is deep enough to fill two days or two years or two lifetimes. The estimable Debbie Reese gave us a 101-level overview of issues in Native American communities–especially as they are often presented in fiction. Even thought I’ve been dutifully researching issues that would have been at the forefront of my Abenaki and Métis characters’ lives, Debbie’s lecture gave me more questions to ask. I have books to read, listening to do, and some hard thinking about everything from half-mentioned details to important plot points.
    • General thoughts: Based on my experiences, I highly recommend the Writing the Other classes. The instructors are great. The alumni group is great. And the information you get is invaluable. We’re all always learning, and this is a safe and carefully crafted space in which to further the skill of writing others without othering.
  • Stuff I Read on the Internet

To a New Year of Writing

You may have heard that I took a big leap in December. After eight and a half years working in the publishing industry full-time, I’m now focusing on my writing. This kind of chance doesn’t come around every day, and I’m lucky that my husband is such an outspoken advocate for my writing career. So a new path needs a new plan. Here’s what I hope you’ll find me doing in the coming year.

January: I’ve given myself a no-excuses deadline for finishing the current draft of my novel-in-progress, and am hoping to get it to my critique group and a few beta readers at the end of January.

That means that February and March will be spent on other projects. On deck are my steampunk horror-ish “monster” story (clue: “Thank you very much”) and the second draft of my novella about a not-so-super super (hint: cheese) as well as some other ideas still coalescing.

April through June will be all about revisions to the novel. If I can’t get it done in that time frame, it’s likely that I need some space.

It’s still quite a ways out, but I’m hoping to spend June through December on other projects. I’m keeping that space gray for now, but I hope I’ll be querying the novel, researching the sequel (?!), and churning through whatever projects are keeping me up at night and glued to the computer during the day.

I still have my work cut out for me. Not working 9-to-5 means I’ve got ELF most days. And I have freelance contracts with deadlines. And I still need to adult most days and keep the house relatively clean (if you know me, you know this is the hardest of the three aforementioned tasks). So I’m still carving out time to write and time management could make or break these goals.

That brings me to what I feel I’ve been learning since picking my writing back up in earnest, and what I likely keep learning until the day I reach the pearly gates. I need to be strict with myself, but I need to be good to myself. I need to take charge of the things in my control (e.g., managing my time, getting words on paper, and submitting them when I’m done), and I need to not focus on the things that will never be in my control (e.g., actually getting published). I need to be accountable for the things I promise (e.g., telling my husband I’ll actually do the dishes, meeting freelance deadlines), but I need to forgive myself if things don’t work the way I intended them to (e.g., getting rejections, setting something aside for a while). And if I put everything I have into everything I have to do, I know I’ll come out on the other side proud of myself.

To paraphrase Miss Stacy, “Tomorrow is a fresh year, with no mistakes in it.” May 2016 be our best yet!

My Week in Words

Here’s a bit about what I’ve been up to in the last week. Just to keep me honest.

Writing
I’ve managed to write every day for the last week! That’s pretty amazing considering the fact that I haven’t done that since I found out I was pregnant.

Progress on the novel in progress is still slow, but I’ve pulled two 1,000-word days and I’m pretty happy about that. With some work tomorrow and this weekend, I’ll likely hit my goal of 1 chapter per week.

My current short story–Victorian monster gone steampunk…with a twist–went out for a fourth round of critique and I think I finally have a better idea of what to do with it. Keep an eye out for more reports of submissions!

I also finished a secret side project this week. **EDIT: Announcement and reveal forthcoming!  I published a guest blog on writing more realistic hikes over on Dan Koboldt’s Science in Sci-Fi, Fact in Fantasy series! Thanks, Dan!**

Editing
Now that I’m also back in the saddle at work, I get to work on other people’s books, too.

This week I started working on a memoir and ran into my first instance where 3×5 cards will be a Godsend. I think careful attention to structure–what is revealed and when, especially–is as important with this project as it is with any good piece of fiction.

Social
A few choice tweets from this week:

Writers and bloggers: if you write something that an editor thinks is worth being published, you are worth being paid for it. Period. @wilw

[in nature]
WATS THE WIFI PASWORD OUT HERE
[birds chirp]
[wind rustles the leaves]
[sunlight glimers off the lake]

IS THAT ALL ONE WORD
@johnnysun

God save us from middle aged men who tell the young people (who they do not manage) what their true priorities should be. @gilldaniels

Some nights I awaken, heart pounding, mind cobwebbed w/ memory of vague creeping things, & can only whisper: “The horror… the horror…” #VP19 @jgstewart

(That hash tag references Viable Paradise. If you’re a SFF writer and unfamiliar, check it out.)