monthly update

March Done/April To-Do

I really hope that me writing my monthly planning posts while feeling completely out of it is not going to become a trend, but guess what? Turns out that being mildly sleep deprived and also having a bad cold is not the best recipe for productivity. I felt that I’d done nothing in March, but when I looked at my March to-do list, I actually feel like I’ve done a better job than I was giving myself credit for.

March Goals:

  • Outline YA and submit to editor. Done!
  • Write YA superheroes — started! Written 3 chapters out of an estimated 23, and you can read them on this blog (chapter 3 coming Thursday). 
  • Freelance #1 Done!
  • Freelance #2 Done!
  • Weekly Freelance articles 1-5 Done x 5
  • Edit Morgen Prince — halfway there! I ended up printing out the story and doing the edits by hand. In the process, I identified three places where I needed to add new scenes, so I still have to type up my edits and write those three scenes. Then it’s off to proofreading! 

So, despite feeling like I did nothing, I started an entirely new writing project and made really good editing progress. I’m deliberately going to try and keep April simple, and be kind to myself as I get over this cold. Unfortunately, all three of my volunteer gigs are pretty full on right now! My rule for April is small goals so that I’m not overwhelmed.

April Goals:

  • Complete first draft of No One Ever Saved the World by Being Nice
  • Finish editing Morgen Prince and getting it proofread and formatted
  • Keeping up with volunteer stuff
  • Get the cover info for Peregrine Fogg Investigates books 0 and #3 to my amazing cover artist
  • Freelance articles 1-4
  • Be Kind to Myself
  • Read
  • Beta-read for a friend

About the last one: this is really obvious and stupid, but I keep noticing that I’m really upset and stressed and unhappy, and when I do notice this, I also notice that it’s been ages since I’ve read a book. Coincidence? I read two books yesterday and being transported into another world/headspace for a couple of hours is really refreshing. Pretty sure that reading a book is the equivalent to an hour’s meditation or something similar—books are great.

 

February Done/March To-do

I feel like I’m floating—and not in a good way. I’m sitting at my Thursday writer’s group, feeling really disconnected from what is going on around me. A few big deal things have happened recently—Dead Wrong released, I got print copies of Thorns and Fangs and Uprooted—and none of it really seems to sink in.

I also coughed for an hour last night, barely slept and woke up this morning completely congested, so this is not a life crisis, it’s a cold. But it’s still something of a wake-up call.

I’ve been really busy chasing volunteer experience, job interviews—everything except writing. I don’t multi-task well, and so I just need to remove these distractions so I can focus fully on writing. It’s a bit unnerving, stepping away from the safety net of steady employment, but ultimately I think I need to focus on meeting my writing goals. The uncertainty and interruptions of February (and December and January) have meant that I haven’t made the progress I want to. The really good news is that my family is one hundred percent behind me in this, so I’ve got that safety net.

February Goals:

Write Murder Isn’t Art. Added 31,500 words. Not great!

Unfortunately, I can’t get straight down to work in March. I have two freelancing commitments that need to be finished ASAP plus I have a YA story I need to outline and write in March to make editor deadlines. I just have to get my head down and get to work. I’m going to do what I can to get back into a regular writing habit. I’m also going to do what I did last year with my Mindful March, and work at getting myself into a healthier space: walking everyday, eating more fruit and veges, taking my vitamins (lost between move from house to house), and practicing Mindfulness again.

March Goals:

-Outline YA and submit to editor.

-Write YA superheroes

-Freelance #1

-Freelance #2

-Weekly Freelance articles 1-5

-Edit Morgen Prince

Wish me luck!

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!