monthly update

Going Backwards to Go Forwards: 2018 Goals and Life After Humanity

LifeAfterHumanity-SliderI’ve been in a really weird headspace for about the last month. It started with the lead up to Christmas, and continued, with a few brief breaks, over New Year’s. I seemed to shake it off for a little while, but it would sneak back, insidious and subtle, and before I knew it, I’d spent another day unable to do anything.

I’m still not exactly sure what the cause of it was, but I suspect I let myself get overworked and overwhelmed in December, and by fussing when I should have surrendered, inadvertently prolonged the mood. Yesterday, I had an afternoon of forced doing nothing. I showed up too early for an appointment, and had nothing to do but sit and read. It was glorious. Today, despite having had a busy morning and a full on afternoon babysitting, I feel full of light and energy, and I’m finally ready to face my last years goals.

I’ve been putting it off and putting it off because I have a really hard time admitting failure. And I knew that I’d fallen short of my goals. Luckily, I’d forgotten what those goals were so when I was stewing in my bad mood, I wasn’t beating myself up as much as I might have otherwise.

2017 Goals.
▪ 8 books published.
▪ 1 year entirely supported by writing.
▪ Investing in my work (marketing/learning)

How did I do? Well…

  • 3 books published —Uprooted, Wing Commander’s Curse and The Charity Shop Rejects Live in Concert.

So not great! However, I remembered this goal as ‘8 books written’ and I did slightly better on that front—Life After Humanity, Dead Wrong, Wing Commander’s Curse, The Charity Shop Rejects, Gentlemen Don’t Murder, and Morgen Prince. I also revised Banging the Supernatural, which I think gives me a total of seven books written—and if you count freelance projects I ghost wrote for clients, I can add four more.

I realised in November/December how difficult I was finding balancing my freelance work with my own writing and family commitments. I made the decision that once I’d completed my current freelance projects, I wouldn’t be looking for more. In fact, I’ve launched a serious job hunt. I think having a regular schedule and taking some of the financial pressure off, will mean I stress less and have more mental energy to give to writing. Unfortunately, job hunt is practically synonymous with stress and uncertainty. Here’s hoping that the short term uncertainty pays off with long term productivity!

  • 1 year entirely supported by writing.

Success! I did expand into dog-walking and babysitting, but I supported myself throughout all of 2017 primarily by writing, mostly freelance work. I find it really reassuring to know that if necessary, I’ve got this as a fallback.

  • Investing in my work (marketing/training).

Actually, I did make headway in this direction, too. Not as much as I’d like, of course, but overall, I didn’t really need to beat myself up as much as I did.

2018 goals.

I’ve only got one 2018 goal, and I’ve already mentioned it—publish a book or story a month throughout 2018. I’ve got January and February covered, but I’m already behind. I’ve only just started on the story I intended to write in December, but I’ve suddenly realised that’s okay.

In 2017, I struggled to write in January. I started the new year enthusiastic but tired, and my creative project quickly got overwhelmed by doubt and a freelance project I was working on.

In 2016, my January got taken over by school and cold and being sick. Can’t remember January 2015 either, but I’d be surprised if I got anything done. And I know that January 2014 I struggled to write anything at all.

This is a really obvious trend. So obvious that I really need to acknowledge it, take some pressure off, and celebrate what I have managed to achieve. Even if it doesn’t feel like much. Even if it’s a step backwards.

And speaking of backwards…

Life After Humanity (Thorns and Fangs #3) releases in one week!

Life After Humanity came about in a really backwards way. I wrote it as the second book in the Thorns and Fangs series, learned a hell of a lot while editing Thorns and Fangs, pretty much rewrote it a second time, submitted it to NineStar, and was in the early stages of reworking it when a writing friend helpfully pointed out the series was missing something, and I realised Life After Humanity was book three, not book two. It was on hold while I wrote Uprooted, and the ways that Ben and Nate developed in Uprooted meant that I had to rewrite Life After Humanity a third time (or possibly fourth time)—and it became something entirely different. There are things I miss from the earlier drafts, but this story leads into Dead Wrong in a really powerful way, and makes the series really hold together, so I can’t regret the changes too much.

I do regret that I didn’t see what was missing sooner, or that I didn’t plan the entire series before jumping in and getting started writing. But I’m wondering if I shouldn’t just let that go. After all, a big part of Life After Humanity is Ben stepping back to get his life straightened out, even though that means putting his relationship with Nate on hold. I support sideways moves or even a step back to regroup when friends or family members need to figure out life stuff. Why is it so hard to give myself the same permission?

I am really nervous to see if readers are willing to allow Ben and Nate a step backwards. I think it’s necessary for their development individually and together, but it’s not something you see a lot of in typical romance. Luckily, I think my readers appreciate atypical romance…but we’ll see! In the meantime, stay turned for sneak previews, where the central plot of Life After Humanity came from, and more.

November Done: December To-do

I feel like I’m finally shaking off a funk, and coming back into the light. Nothing’s wrong. I haven’t been down, or at least, I haven’t had a reason to be sad. I just wasn’t my usual self. I think this is the result of finishing Big Freelance Project (the first draft anyway) on Tuesday and spending the afternoon getting my flamingos in a row. Having some relaxed time without feeling that there was work I should be doing was clearly necessary!

December is going to be a very busy month, even without taking on any new freelance project. Big Freelance project will need a tidy up, and I want to finish not one, but two drafts–but I’m getting ahead of myself.

23 October 2019 • 9_00 pmThe Cable Yacht Club

November Goals:

  • Morgen Prince Complete First Draft. (45,499/75,000 words)-Nope! Currently 55,421/75,000 words, but that is 55,000 more words than I had at the start of November.
  • Freelance Project 9/12 chapters  Done! Waiting client feedback.
  • Get back into blogging  I’m going to mark this as a success!
  • Return Edits of Dead Wrong (1200 em-dashes). Well, I talked about this…Did not actually do it.

Note to self: Next time you decide to do NaNoWriMo… do not take on a freelance project requiring you to write 40,000 words in a month at the same time. It just doesn’t work.

December Goals:

  • Morgen Prince Complete first draft, tidy and send to editor!
  • Dead Wrong edits and cover request
  • Tweak plot to Murder Isn’t Art
  • Outline The Case of the Very Forthright Letter that Peregrine Should Not Have Written and think of a better title
  • Look at Over Familiar and sigh a lot, and then think about an outline
  • Finish drafting one of the above
  • blog
  • Have a birthday
  • Release The Charity Shop Rejects Live in Concert
  • Read 11 books to reach my goal of reading 100 books in 2017

December hasn’t even properly started, and I feel like I need a nap…

October Done/November To-Do.

Sorry about the sudden, unannounced disappearance. I’ve been having some Internet issues. For the longest time, logging onto Facebook meant I got only the top post of my newsfeed loading, Skype was completely unusable, and it took over two hours to send a one line e-mail. My motivation to fight with the Internet to accomplish online things took a big hit with the combination of a big freelance job and the start of NaNoWriMo.

The good news is that as of last Thursday, my net has been amazing! The bad news is that    you’d think that having pretty much no internet would mean that I was incredibly productive, right? Alas. I ended up trying to do something online, getting frustrated, then surfing on my phone instead. So I read a lot of inane news articles, but since I couldn’t really write any lengthy comments on my phone, wasn’t really able to talk much with people. I ended up feeling really isolated and alone during the last weeks of October. Then NaNo started, and I was able to attend in person writing groups, and that has given me a renewed enthusiasm and energy for writing. I have a lot of catching up to do, so I’m going to get to work right away. I have a new release in December, one in January and one in March, so you’re going to see a lot of me from now on!

October Goals: 

  • Banging The Supernatural: revise draft. Done! The sad news is that I think I need to write books 2 and 3 in this series before I can properly edit this one, so this project is going to take a little longer.
  • Freelance project #1
  • Freelance project #2
  • Read 4 books on Craft/Marketing Well, I read the books on Marketing, but in November…and not for my own benefit, but for the freelance project. I’m going to give myself this one because it’s embarrassing to have forgotten it this completely.
  • Plot my Nano project Done!
  • Mindfulness Habit Whoops.
  • 9 Blog Posts Haha, nope!

On the personal life front, October had some big family events. The biggest being that I have started babysitting my niece more often, which is really great. So far November has also had a lot of family events, including a trip to Akaroa for a special event. Plus the garden of my housesit keeps sneaking up on me every time I turn my back.

November Goals:

Since the month is already underway, I’m going to give a progress report on these:

  • Morgen Prince Complete First Draft. (45,499/75,000 words)
  • Freelance Project 9/12 chapters
  • Get back into blogging
  • Return Edits of Dead Wrong (1200 em-dashes).

So far, November is busy but good. Morgen Prince had a few tricky moments, but has been an absolute blast so far. I shared the first chapters with my friend/alpha reader, and she reports herself to be dying of laughter. Hopefully she’s laughing at the story and not my typos!

September DONE/October TO-DO

September seems to have gone by like a steam-roller. This month was unrelenting with hurricanes, volcanoes, and a national election here in New Zealand that will probably not be resolved until mid-October. When things get insane, I find myself needing more quiet time off social media simply recharging my batteries. At least I got a lot of work done!

I’ve already shared the big news—Dead Wrong is complete and I submitted it to NineStar this afternoon. I’m bizarrely happy with it. Bizarrely happy because it’s rare that I feel this positively about anything I’ve written after submitting it. Usually, the moment I hit ‘send’ on that Submission e-mail, I immediately remember every niggling doubt I had while writing. Author friends, can you relate?

September Goals: 

  • Edit Gentlemen Don’t Murder. Done! Submitted it to my editor friend and betas, waiting for responses. 
  • Complete Dead Wrong. Done! YAY!
  • Freelance Project #3 Still working on this, but this is my client behind schedule, not me.
  • Regular blog updates  Whoops!
  • Submit work to agent Not done–moving to October.
  • Work on craft Not consciously worked on. Will have to do better!

Overall, I’m pretty happy with what I achieved in September. There were some unexpected things that popped up. Freelance Project #3 doesn’t really give a good idea of how much freelance work I did, and from one day babysitting a week, I’ve gone up to one day and two half days. Despite all this, I stayed on track with my primary goals and even got some reading for fun in.

October Goals:

  • Banging the Supernatural (And Other Poor Life Choices #1) – revise draft.
  • Freelance project #1
  • Freelance project #2
  • Read 4 books on Craft/Marketing
  • Plot my Nano project
  • Mindfulness Habit
  • 9 Blog Posts

October’s going to be an even busier month than September… Wish me luck!

August Done/September To-Do

I am happy to say that I am feeling much, much better than I was my last goal-setting post. That cold lingered on but met its match in Rotorua. I don’t know when I noticed I wasn’t coughing as much, but I do know that ever since I got back to Christchurch I have been feeling more like my usual self than I have been in months.

There are a couple of possibilities.

1. I have an allergy to something in Christchurch.

2. Rotorua’s geothermal waters boiled my cold germs out of my system.

3. I’ve been back in New Zealand long enough that my body has adjusted to all the local germs and now I’m good.

Really hoping that it is not the first option! Of course it is early days yet, but it will be interesting to see how September develops. And on that note–goals!

pexels-photo-131979

August Goals:

  • Freelance project #1  Done!
  • Get to work on Gentlemen Don’t Murder Not just done—the first draft is complete!
  • Return Life After Humanity edits. Done! 
  • Attend RWNZ Conference 2017 Done!
  • Get organised for Dead Wrong. Done!

Not on my list: keeping my blog up to date. I let this slide because I needed to concentrate on getting prepared for conference and then working on Gentlemen Don’t Murder. I don’t feel bad because the results speak for themselves. Also, I’ve made up for neglecting the blog since!

September Goals: 

  • Edit Gentlemen Don’t Murder.
  • Complete Dead Wrong.
  • Freelance Project #3
  • Regular blog updates
  • Submit work to agent
  • Work on craft

Pretty straightforward…except for that last one. To be honest, I’m not sure how I’m going to put that into action, but I know what it’s something I want to do. I own a ton of writing advice books, so I might search them for suggestions, or go-over the notes I took at RWNZ to try to come up with a to-do list or a checklist.

If anyone has suggestions, I would love to hear them! My weakest areas are creating dynamic scenes, hooking readers and investing characters with emotion—or more accurately bringing that emotion out in the writing because I know they’ve got emotions and they know they’ve got emotions, it’s just communicating that. Thanks in advance!

July Recap, August Goals!

I’m writing this update with decidedly mixed feelings. I’m all about goal-setting, and I love the high that comes with getting all my ducks lined up for the coming month. However, yesterday Monica Leonelle announced she’s retiring the Prose of Fire series of writing advice books.

Monica is one of my writing heroes, and I come back to her books again and again. While I’m really happy that she’s reached a new stage in her writing journey and can definitely get behind the philosophy driving her new project, it’s not a direction I see myself going in right now. So that’s a bit of sad news.

The other thing that’s on my mind is my health. Since June 24th, there have only been two days were I truly felt my usual self—and even those two days, I still had a cough. The rest of the time, I’ve been dealing with either two particularly vicious colds and a chest infection, or stealth tuberculosis (I should get the test results back this month). While I’m not the sickest person in the world by any means, this is having a cumulative effect. I’m tired, and spending more time resting, meaning I have less time to spend on projects, which means that I feel like I’m constantly battling to get anything done. A lot of my happiness is tied to being productive and achieving goals, so this has been frustrating on many levels. Despite all this, I actually achieved a fair amount in July.

July Goals:

  • Edit and Release More Than Coffee (new title needed!)  Done! The Wing Commander’s Curse came out on Monday after a few false starts. Overall, I’m really happy with it.
  • Get back to work on Mystery 1. Not done! Change of plans.
  • Continue work on Dead Wrong Change of plans.
  • Get my writing mindset back in the right place. Yes! I have productivity and positivity for days. I’m credited The Journalling Superpower Secret for this.
  • Take care of myself, and tackle scary health thing. Ha. I’m trying! 

Overall, I feel good. I completed a project not on this list. When I set my July goals, I didn’t realise Ninestar had moved the submission deadline for seasonal stories earlier this year. Obviously, that took priority! And I have great news. Not only did I manage to write, edit and submit a seasonal story by the deadline, but I’ve already completed the first editing pass. That’s right—The Op-Shop Rejects Live in Concert was accepted by NineStar! I also got a big freelance project that has been taking a lot of time and energy, which isn’t great, but it pays so, that is a good thing!

Anne and I also launched New Zealand Rainbow Romance Writers, so that was a definite bonus!

August Goals:

  • Freelance project #1
  • Get to work on Gentlemen Don’t Murder
  • Return Life After Humanity edits.
  • Attend RWNZ Conference 2017
  • Get organised for Dead Wrong. I’m also planning to write-up the Marlborough Book Festival, and pitch to agents at the Romance Writers conference. August is going to be a busy month!

June and July Goal Setting.

It’s really hard to make plans in times of uncertainty. As July begins, I’m struggling to decide what to focus on. That really stubborn cold I complained about in my last post? Not a cold. I’m still waiting to find out what it is, and will probably find out next week. Not knowing if I’m going to be well enough to act on my plans is really discouraging me from making plans, but at the same time, I’ve had enough resting, and am ready to start doing again. Here’s hoping I find my balance!

June Goals:

  • Write More Than Coffee, Kathleen’s story. DONE! The first draft at least. I’m working on editing it at the moment.
  • Freelance Project Number 1.
  • Freelance Project Number 2. Done, and done!
  • Continue work on Dead Wrong (Thorns and Fangs 4)not done, but considering everything else I’m okay with that! 
  • Walk everyday – My health had other ideas. 
  • Vitamin + Five Plus –Yes for the vitamin, nearly for five plus. 
  • Mindfulness- totally feel off the wagon here. 
  • SLEEP– much better than May, but could still improve. 

July Goals:

  • Edit and Release More Than Coffee (new title needed!)
  • Get back to work on Mystery 1.
  • Continue work on Dead Wrong
  • Get my writing mindset back in the right place.
  • Take care of myself, and tackle scary health thing.