to-do

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!

Mindful March

Time for the monthly recap! As you may have gathered from my January recap and Accelerated February posts, February was a busy month. The decision to track my writing, health and money made a big difference, not so much in keeping me on track, but making me aware of what is holding me back currently. Despite the lack of word count, I feel I am making really good progress towards my writing goals. I have a lot of work to do if I want to make my 2017 goals, but I feel confident that I can make it happen.

Quick and dirty recap: February Goals

  • finish Murder #1 – NOT AT ALL
  • re-plot TDL – Almost finished!
  • Freelance project 1 AND 2 – Finished project 1. 2 was not finished, but my client was dealing with IRL stuff, so I am counting this as a success.
  • Complete Freelance Project 3 (weekly)- Great Success.
  • regular blog posts- More or less!
  • read 9 books- YES!
  • establish a daily writing habit.-NO

I started February all fired up to write every day. Unfortunately, until I resolve the plot issues I’m having with Murder#1, working on this project is like pulling teeth. I managed for two days, before sinking into a depressed funk. Not writing also made me fall into a depressed funk, until I realised that I could count plotting as writing. Being able to check off time spent plotting as writing made me feel productive and happy, and that encouraged me to keep at it. I came to the conclusion that I have a lot more work to do with research on Murder#1, but that if I came up with a solid plot for Thorns and Fangs #3, then I could work on that while continuing to research Murder#1. All in all, I wrote 12 out of 28 days in February, which while far from the results I wanted, have meant that I am in a really good position to try again for a daily writing habit in March.

Balancing Freelance projects with everything else will continue to be an ongoing problem in March, as I’m finding it hard to say no to clients adding extra work onto existing projects. I’m going to have to be strategic in what projects I take on, and in protecting my creative and research time.

Now that I’m back in the habit of regular blogging, I’m really enjoying it. Travelling was great fun, but while it gave me a lot of interesting places to write about for the blog, I also returned from Auckland totally exhausted. It took me about a week to recover. What is interesting is that the exhaustion was all mental. Physically, I was tired but otherwise fine. I was not sick at all during February, which, for me, is a huge accomplishment! I think this is Accelerated February already positively impacting my health.

Although I didn’t manage to take my vitamins, eat 5 plus servings of fruit and veges a day or walk every day, I am doing all three more regularly and it is having a tremendous impact, not only  on my health but on how I feel about myself. Another new addition to my health routine is a daily guided meditation using the smiling mind app. This is something I want to continue–hence Mindful March! And that brings us to March Goals:

  • Daily Writing Habit (Currently 2/31)
  • Write Thorns and Fangs #3 (3,894/100,000)
  • Balance Freelance and Creative Work
  • Read 9 books (3/9)
  • Regular blog posts (1/9)
  • Edit and release Deep Magic boxset
  • Complete Defensive Driving Course
  • Sit Full Licence Test
  • SECRET PROJECT TBA later.

April Goals! (and sneaky sneak-peak of new story)

This month’s stock take is coming a little later than usual, but you’ll have to forgive me — tonsillitis wasn’t on my schedule! Today is the first day since March 28th that I’ve had a temperature that was approaching normal. I am functioning and happy, but still suffering an energy deficit … Just as well I had most of the week off!

Before I get into my April goals, let’s look back at March. It was a busy month. To be honest, I was not entirely sure I would survive it, what with the WWOOFing, the room-mate moving in, the staff changes at my workplace … Actually, while intense March ended up going quite well! I’m going to be talking specifics in future blog posts, so look forward to that!

IMG_5982

From Hells … to Hospitals. March was an intense month!

March Goals:

– getting March and April blogs posts done in advance! Mostly done! I left for my farm adventure with only a few minor tweaks. While the tonsillitis knocked me back, I have ideas for April’s blog, and some exciting interviews on the horizon.
– reading more M/M romance. Read two M/M books thanks to interviewees for the blog! I am enjoying this, but need to do better.
– reread Thorns and Fangs. Done!
– new Uprooted (Thorns and Fangs 2) outline. Done!
– continue experiments with dictation and write up blog post. Done! Would have liked to do more, but considering that from the 19th I had very little time or space to myself, think I did okay.

I also started an unexpected writing project.

April Goals!

– continue to update blog biweekly.
– Finish mystery project.
– Start mystery project editing process.
– Submit mystery project cover request.
– Work on Uprooted.
– Read more M/M Romance.


 

And onto the sneaky excerpt! This is the second piece I’ve shared of ~mystery project~ and there have been a handful of name changes since then, and probably many other changes before I’m done with this story.

“I was not born when the humans cast us from the land,” Ieuan said, brushing his hair back from his face. “I do not remember to grieve what we lost. But you do.” He peered at the murky shadow that obscured the Cursed One’s face. “You have no reason to save this man.”

“No.” The word was almost a sigh. “None whatsoever.” There was a glint of bone white as the Cursed One smiled, and Ieuan was uneasily reminded that he was alone in a predator’s lair. “And yet …” The Cursed One spoke briskly. “The storm was sudden and unusual. It roared with powerful fury. I made up my mind to see it for myself. I was there when the boat smashed against the rock and I delighted in the wreck! I searched the surf for any survivors, thinking to drag them down into the deep, feel for myself the moment of his death. But when I saw him—” The Cursed One faltered, his voice growing uncertain. “His arm was broken, and there was no hope of rescue. Yet he clung to the wreckage of his boat like a man who very much wanted to live.” The water stirred as the Cursed One drew his hair around him, gathering it into a single rope.

What is so remarkable about that? Ieuan opened his mouth, but he caught a glimpse of the Cursed One’s face, the part of it that remained.

The right eye was downturned beneath delicate lashes, the fine brow creased as the Cursed One continued. “It is long … so long since I have felt any interest in living that I have forgotten what it feels like to want to live,” he said slowly. “Since I lack it myself, I wish to preserve it in him. I cannot kill him.” He looked up, his undamaged eye meeting Ieuan squarely. “Do you understand, Ieuan? The man must live.”

Ieuan swallowed. The weight he felt had nothing to do with their depth in the water. “What would you have me do?”

The Cursed One breathed out, releasing his rope of hair. “There is water. Fresh water — in a container of metal I took from his boat. Help him to drink.”

Ieuan nodded. “That should not be difficult.”

“Talk to him gently so that he does not agitate himself,” the Cursed One continued. “If you succeed, he may eat. I have placed what supplies I could recover within reach. If he will speak to you, ask him the extent of his injuries.”

“Injuries?” Ieuan looked to the surface above them. The man was not visible but remembering how still he lay and how slight his movements, he felt a moment’s pity. It is likely the Cursed One is wasting his time! The man will surely die.

The arm is the worst that I saw, but it is possible that he has other injuries. If he responds well, have him tell you who his friends are and how they will seek him.”

“Friends?” Ieuan tilted his head.

“Men have learned — as they should have centuries ago — to fear the sea,” the Cursed One said wryly. “He will not have ventured out alone in a vessel without telling someone of his plans. There will be someone searching—”

A pebble slid down the slope above them, speeding a scattering of loose stone before it.

“He is stirring!” Ieuan started towards the surface.

The Cursed One snatched him back by his ankle. “Ieuan, what do you know of man?”

“I know enough.” Ieuan freed himself easily.

The Cursed One followed him towards the surface. “We morgen came here in secret to live apart from man. The people of these waters are entirely ignorant of us, and we must keep it so. Ieuan, he must think you a man.”

It never changed! Whether it was the Cursed One, Howel or even Ieuan’s mothers, everyone thought they could tell him what to do! Ieuan kicked, slicing cleanly towards the surface. “But that is simplicity itself!” Men were just like morgen after all, except they drowned.

“Ieuan, I am serious—”

Ieuan broke the surface.

Teaser Thursday!

This week, I am combining a teaser with my weekly to-do list. With that in mind, I’m going to speed through my checklist so we get to the fun part sooner.

Thorns and Fangs rewrite: Slow progress. After a couple of false starts, I finished the new chapter 14 this morning and have started the new chapter 15. Getting back into writing mode has been hard, and I find that I am really fighting to shut up the lingering doubts I have over whether these changes are for the best. Fortunately, I also have a supportive beta on hand to give me instant feedback!

Instead of looking for betas, I wound up looking for friends to take place in the Fabulous 5 blog hop! I’ve been tagged, and my corresponding blog post will go up next Monday! I’m excited.

Bootcamp: Over. Sadly, my busier than anticipated weekend (had an unexpected houseguest and an only slightly less unexpected houseparty over the weekend — fun, but it wiped me out physically and creatively for the entire weekend!) meant I didn’t have time to take part in the final workshop, however, I know that I will be returning to Ellen’s informative lectures again and again. Writing friends, she is leaving the posts up on her editing blog, and I cannot recommend checking them out enough! Of particular interest, her final lecture, How to Self-edit!

Taking the place of NaNo, a new challenge! Lisa Henry has created an M/M flashfiction group on LJ. I’m looking forward to our first flash challenge. Results will be posted here!

And without any further ado: today’s teaser is from Thorns and Fangs. This is from the chapter I have just completed today!

“A substitution rite is when one thing is swapped with another.”

Nate looked up, surprised. He hadn’t even heard Ben join him at the edge of the circle.

The vampire watched Hunter and Saltaire confer. “It can be anything from a permanent swap like changelings, or temporary such as using something to take the place of your intended target in a spell.”

“I hope you’re not saying Peter wanted to use me as a living voodoo doll.”

Ben glanced sideways at him. “You have a unique way of looking at things.”

Nate shrugged. “I’m just saying. Acupuncture is not among my kinks.”

“I didn’t realize acupuncture was a kink.”

“In the right hands, anything can be a kink.”

“I’m not sure I—”

“Stop flirting with the shadow, Ben.” Hunter rejoined them. “Lack of outward hostility is no guarantee that he hasn’t been charmed. Out of the three of us, you’re his likeliest target.”

Suddenly voodoo doll sounds good. “You’re saying he made me into some kind of … sleeper agent?”

Yet another Thursday!

I have to admit that the week I thought I had in front of me and the week I actually passed were two very different things! I travelled out of town to catch up with friends, a seven hour journey by bus either way. I thought the long bus trip would give me plenty of uninterrupted writing and reading time — not so! It is curiously hard to write with the person in the seat beside you continuously falling asleep on to you. The return journey, I had a seat entirely to myself, but I was feeling the first effects of the bug that I am now sick with!

In addition, my friend is that rare creature that apparently can survive without an internet connection! It was a blast hanging out with her, but it does mean that I have a ton of catching up to do!

Last weeks/this weeks goals:

Continue Thorns and Fangs rewrite: I hoped to be working on chapter 10 today. Instead I am making slow progress on Chapter 9! I might be able to acheive this goal if I really get my but into gear. This time next week, I would like to be done with Chapter 12.

Reading: I only finished one book over two bus trips! Shocking. My problem is that authors are too good at making me invested in their characters — I have to stop reading because I’m too worried about them. Anyone else have this problem, or is it just me?

Bootcamp: If I do manage to catch up with Chapter 9 today, bootcamp is next on my hit list. Without internet access while I was travelling, I am behind on workshops and lectures!

NaNo: Behind again! However, if I do succeed with Chapter 9 today or tomorrow, I will be back on top of things.

 

Well, I think I know how I am spending the rest of my day!

 

 

Another Thursday.

This was very nearly typhoon Thursday! Almost because the typhoon looks to pass us by entirely. I got rained on coming home tonight, but that is the least of my woes. In fact, the rain was a welcome antidote to the humidity, tiredness and general almost but not quite end of term blues. I, like my students, cannot wait for summer vacation!

I’m up way past my bedtime so very quickly, the week’s rundown:

 -Continue rewrite of Thorns and Fangs. Making slow progress! I’m currently on Chapter 4. I feel pretty good about it, actually. Thanks to Ellen Brock’s novel boot camp, I have a better idea of what I need to focus on!

– Critiques. Still 3/4ers done! One critique partner has been very silent. I should e-mail and check in.

-Bootcamp! I was doing really well until today. I’ve got today’s lecture to catch up on, and I only got two first page critiques written. These exercises are so valuable, however, I really want to keep at it!

-Finish LL Beta. Done! Another really good LL story in the works — feels good. I am going to try and avoid betaing any more fics until this month is over, however! It’s really good practice for working on my own stories, but I need the focus.

Catch up with NaNo. I was caught up for all of one day. That counts, right?

Share a Thorns and Fangs teaser. Done! And I enjoyed it so much that I want to do it again! I’m assessing my writing as I edit with a view to sharing.

This next week’s goals: continue all of the above! I’ve also been getting easily discouraged this week. I’m not sure whether to blame the weather, the sad plagiarism news (I wasn’t personally effected but I don’t think anyone who reads this blog isn’t able to sympathize with the news that so many of our author friends had their works stolen) or just the time of year where we say goodbye to friends, but I want to make sure this next week is much more productive and positive.

But now, bed.