Six months later…

I had high hopes for blogging this year, but those hopes were not meant to be. 

First, I got a new job in May, which was a huge improvement but also a change, so I had to deal with that. And aside from work, I didn’t have any fun updates since my writing had dried up and my editing motivation was MIA. After a few months I even stopped putting “edit Familiars” on my to-do list. 

Then as I was getting settled into my new job, summer arrived, with horse demands and part time job demands and petsitting demands, and blogging (and writing and editing) went to the bottom of the pile.

Then, just when it looked like I would have time to do things, I decided now (in a seller’s market) was the time to buy a house. So I did. 

Which brings me to now. I have the job(s) I’ve had all summer, and am in fact petsitting two different dogs in two different towns this weekend, but I’m moved into my house (aside from the books, but we won’t talk about that, you all understand), and I don’t have my work computer with me, so I can’t fulfill any of those obligations. So I thought I’d take a second to update my blog.

I’ve written very little, but there’s a tiny flame that wants to be kindled inside me, so I’m optimistic about that. I also have a backlog of like four or five stories that are finished but the idea of editing them has not motivated me to do anything with them. But I’m hoping this blog post will be the start of me getting back in the habit of putting words on a page.

April Showers and finding balance

As I sit here writing this before work, I can hear the rain outside trickling against the window and making me want to do nothing more than to crawl back into bed. Yet here I am, thinking about goals for the month!

Lately it’s been harder than I like to admit to make goals and go anywhere near hitting them—there’s always some excuse readily at hand: I’m too busy, I’m too tired, I’m too overwhelmed by all the stressors in life. And those are all valid points. We hear about self-care and avoiding burnout and we hear about keeping motivated and staying on task and we rarely hear about how to balance the two.

Am I not writing because I’ve burnt out (with everything going on) or because I gave myself a rest and I’ve fallen out of practice? Am I listening to my body to give itself rest rather than exercise, or am I being lazy and avoiding working out? The list goes on. To an extent, I don’t think there is a clear answer and it depends person to person (and day to day), but I’d like to have a clue!

Unfortunately, I don’t. So I’ll continue muddling through with the rest of you.

For April’s goals, I want to:

  1. Finish the Familiar re-read
  2. ”Exercise” 50% of the days
  3. Tidy out my apartment (see my last post)

Here’s to sunnier days ahead.

Not quite sprung…

First things first: how did I do on my March goals so far?


I did start, even if it was only two pages, and I have Plans to get more done this week (hah). My excuse for the rest of the month was that I was reading other people’s published books, and since my reading lately has been hit or miss, I’m taking it. And again, I hope to get more done this weekend

2) Do more focused relaxation exercises/meditations

I tried to do a lot more breathing exercises during work, when my Whatever issues were occurring, but I’m not sure I was fantastic at them. Or maybe I was, because the problem seemed to fade just long enough for me to be hooked up to a machine to try to record the problem. Which of course ramped me up and meant Friday I felt the worst I’d felt in a long time (and I’m cutting way back on caffeine again *weeps*)

3) Freestyle brainstorm for whatever creative avenue my brain wants to take.

I did a bunch of freestyle brainstorming at the beginning of the month, but then I picked up Save the Cat Writes a Novel and it seemed prudent to focus on one task, so I started applying it to the Fairy story that I had begun. Of course, this morning I’m question if it’s the right one for the deep dive (or if that’s a sign that it’s exactly right for the deep dive. Will have to ponder that.

Thankfully, with an editing project on my plate, plus re-reads of Familiar, I’m going to be busy enough this week that Save the Cat will go to the back burner.

As spring begins to set in, I’ll start going to the barn more. Really, it’s my haven. It’s not always a stress relief, but it usually is. In fact, after my massage, and reading all of yesterday morning, I decided it was too gorgeous not to go out! So I headed to the barn where I did a fair amount of physical labor, which might have countered that massage, but I felt superb after. Useful and human. Let’s hope it’s enough to get me through the week.

An Anniversary of Sorts

As March approaches, many of us are astounded/horrified/chagrined that we’ve been dealing with this pandemic for a year. I can still recall where I was when I heard first word about the schools closing (I was visiting my grandmother at my parents’ house) and the last place I went Out (to play tabletop with friends in Philly and then out for dinner to celebrate a birthday). I haven’t seen most of my friends since then and not at all since September. I live alone, with no pets. My refuge has been the barn (outside and usually masked) in the warmer months and my parents (who are in my bubble because we need each other).

I didn’t come here to talk about the pandemic, though. I started writing about my monthly goals and how they’re going…but then it seemed weird to just let the anniversary pass by without comment. It also seems weird to focus on goals when the world is in such a state around us, but it gives a sense of progress and hope, I suppose. (Or defeat when you push that item to next month again.)

So here we are. February’s goals:
1) Start Familiar revisions (huh, that sounds familiar).
2) Be more physically active.
3) Do what makes me happy.

1) I did not start Familiar’s revision yet, because I was helping a friend with her draft and I took longer than it should have taken, and then I found other excuses. I think Familiar is good, but revising is always overwhelming and I’ve been pretty whelmed to begin with. If anyone wants to read it and tell me it’s brilliant, let me know!

2) I was more active! I did some workouts and increased my walking as much as the weather permitted. It’s been good for my mental health too–because exercise is good for that, even if it can’t fix everything. If only.

3) Do what makes me happy. Heh. This is a freebie, isn’t it? So what did I do to make me happy?
– I started watching Tokyo Ghoul: Re with a friend (we watch the same episodes the same day and then talk about it). The series itself kind of annoys me because they didn’t live up to potential in a lot of ways, but I’m always interested in seeing more of the world (and I now want to create a TTRPG using the setting)
– I bought a twelve pack of Peppermint/Candy Cane flavored Chapstick. I love this shit. It makes my lips tingle sometimes and it’s only in stores in December and I missed it (something something pandemic) and this felt like a stupid purchase but I’m so excited.
– I also bought Save the Cat Writes a Novel because I heard good things (about this and the original) and I figured if I’m not writing, maybe I could hone my craft.
– I re-read Second Hand randomly rather than stressing about having to Read Something New. (I also probably shouldn’t have picked a ghost story as the Something New but that is Future Alex’s problem)

And now for March. A time for thinking about spring (and maybe the barn). A time for four birthdays in the first six days of the month (I kid you not). A time for #PitMad. A time for…well, more of the same from the past year, really. Masks. Isolation. Playing tabletop roleplaying games online (so grateful for technology).

March’s goals:
2) Do more focused relaxation exercises/meditations
3) Freestyle brainstorm for whatever creative avenue my brain wants to take.

New Year, New Plans

“Here’s to the New Year. May she be a damn sight better than the old one,
and may we all be home before she’s over.” – Colonel Potter

Last year (feels like yesterday) was a lot to take in, and I think we all hope this coming year will be easier on us. But all we can do it carry on and continue doing our best. Which means new resolutions! Except I like to think of them as goals, because when you fail a resolution, you haven’t been resolved, but if you fail a goal, you’re still making progress. (Don’t ask, it makes sense to me.)

  1. Be More Positive. I’m a downer, some days more than others, and my one goal is to find something positive about every day. I’m hoping that this small change in my thinking will have a greater effect on my overall thinking. I’ll be journaling in this One Line a Day book, which will be a good place to put positive thoughts if I’ve nothing better to note.
  2. Write 10k a month. I’ve done well with this number, and while I’d like to increase it, at this point in my life (working 1.5 jobs, being constantly stressed), I think I’ll keep on it for another year. I have several stories I want to write, so I just need to pick one and stick to it. The Clueless Boy wanders into Fantasy Land is currently in the lead.
  3. Blog about monthly goals. This is a two-fer, because I want to do monthly goals to give myself smaller steps and keep on track, but also use it as the topic for blog posts so I remember to open this dusty thing and share with the class.
  4. Revise Familiar and look at where to submit it. This one is a bit scary because while I started re-reading it at the beginning of the month and really loved it still, I hate revisions and it’s not a (traditional) romance, so I’ll be looking outside my normal wheelhouse for this book. I don’t expect to sell it by the end of the year, but I hope to have made progress on it, at least.

I have a few other goals (lose weight! read! keep learning Spanish!) but these are my focus this year. (Because of this, I’ll probably end up mastering Spanish or something.)

What are your goals for the year? How often do you succeed at resolutions? What are you doing differently this year in order to kick your goals’ butts?

Let’s Talk About Expectations

There are many, many things to have expectations for/about in life, but this post is focusing on self-expectations, specifically in regards to goals/resolutions, because these are the expectations we have the most control over.

I set some goals for myself at the beginning of the year and by the second week of February I knew I’d built a pretty high mountain to climb. January went well. Book read, edits done, writing mark hit! Of course I also finished a book, so starting a new one was hard–immediately my word count plummeted. I finished edits, got beta reads, submitted the book…and immediately got developmental edits to do. While I was brainstorming how to fix February’s editing case. So my “edit a book a month” plummeted. Reading one book should be easy, right? But after reading all day, editing various books, and struggling to write, the last thing I wanted was another person’s words in my head. I read one page of a book and switched to another. Read a page of that and put it aside.

What I realized around the middle of the month, was that I might have burnt myself out by being too productive too fast. I need to reassess and adjust accordingly.

Revising: One book a month is kind of crazy, especially depending on how much work needs done. Especially since I edit for a living (duh, Alex). I think if  get 6 books revised this year, I’ll call it a win. It’s still going to be about 5 more books than I did last year!

Writing: Same basic 10K a month, but I think it’ll be a year-end goal of 120,000 instead, which will average out to 10K a month, which is pretty much how I looked back a 2017, so I think it’ll work.

Reading: I might need to “cheat” and read another volume of manga, but I do want to at least hit some of my titles on my to-read list. However, I also want to watch a bunch of anime shows (many of which are subtitles), so I’m giving myself flex here. Kind of a “we’ll see how it goes”. I know it sounds like I’m giving up, but it’s more a matter of “how much can I fit into my free time without feeling like it’s not fun anymore?”

The important thing, for me, is not thinking of the above changes as failing. Goals and resolutions should be flexible, especially in the beginning, so you can improve while also not killing yourself. Because once you start to fail, you give up. But if you lower the bar, then you might end up jumping just as high as you’d first planned, once the stress of failing is removed.

New Year, New Resolutions

Last year, my goals were:

I want to keep being better at my fitness ‘program’ and eating habits.
I want to write 10K a month every month.
I’d like to get three things published this year.

I…didn’t do awesome. In fact, I forgot about the first goal completely (or at least I didn’t try harder than I normally do).

I hit 10K roughly ever month. If I add up the months and average them out, it’s about 10,900 words a month.

Three things published? Er. Well…I didn’t think this one through. I submitted three pieces to publishers, and two were accepted. One got feedback, one came out a few weeks ago, and one comes out in April. So I think that counts as a success, even if I didn’t publish three things this year.

And this year?

My goals this year are similar to last year with some additions (and maybe some follow through :D)

1. Write 10K a month. I was originally thinking of upping it to 15K, but after November and December this year, I decided to focus on another resolution:

2. Revise a book a month. Writing is only worthwhile if I actually revise and submit books for publishing. Last year I focused on publishing books, but I think it was too abstract (and much of it out of my control), so this time I want to focus on taking steps to submit books–aka, revise the stuff I write and move it along on the path of publishing!

3. Read at least 12 books. This obviously doesn’t count work stuff, and last year I only squeaked by via manga (specifically What Did You Eat Yesterday?), which isn’t bad but wasn’t what I had in mind. This year I’m picking 12 books from my pile and want to read them:

The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle, The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K Le Guin, The Lord of the Flies by William Golding, 10 lb Penalty by Dick Francis, The Kitchen God’s Wife by Amy Tan, The Innocence of Father Brown by GK Chesterton, Trigger Warning by Neil Gaiman, The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco, The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver, The Black Book of Secrets by FE Higgins, and What the Dickens by Gregory Maguire

I figure some might get replaced by manga, some might get replaced by library books or new finds, but these are some titles on my shelves that seem like I should read or at least might be interesting. I tried for a variety so I wouldn’t get bored or burned out.

(If you’re interested in reading along with me when I start a book, let me know, I’m always looking for reading buddies, and I’m not a fast-paced reader…)

First up will be What the Dickens.

Good luck on your New Year’s Resolutions!

Required New Year Post

I hope everyone had a lovely evening welcoming in the new year. I spent it with friends (which is the best way to spend it–and I’m counting family as friends, since your family should be your friends).

The new year means resolutions, right? I like to aim for a whole bunch of resolutions in the hopes of hitting one or two 🙂 And this year, instead of doing monthly resolutions, I’m going to aim for more general ones:

– Read ONE non-work book a month

This one should hopefully be easy, or at least not a stressor. I really just want to read more outside my genre so that I can get exposed to different writing and thoughts.

– Write 5,000 words a month

This might be tough, but it’s a low enough number that I should be able to do it. I would like to put all these words toward one project and by the end of the year have a finished 60K novel, but…


– Focus more on the craft of writing

I don’t just mean the craft of stringing words together. I feel like in my frenzy of writingwritingwriting, I’ve forgotten about things like plot and character development. Need to return to the livelihood of writing rather than the taskmaster I’ve made myself.

And yes, I see the irony that my previous goal is a word count. I don’t think the act of writing should stop me from improving in other ways.

– Waste less time online

I waste tons of time online and it needs to stop. Tumblr is a big one, but it’s also often my de-stressor, so I’m trying to tweak how I can keep a good balance here. This one is going to need to be a slow work in in progress, I know already 🙂

– Live my life honestly

This will be the toughest. Not that I live a lie currently, but I want to slowly start being able to be myself in all avenues of my life. Mostly in being openly genderqueer. Getting everyone to use “they” pronouns. I hate change and I hate changing how people view me, so this is a tough one. I’m going to need to be a lot braver than I generally feel I’ve been.

Along those lines I’ve also been thinking more about having certain surgeries, and while that’s going to take A LOT of contemplation, it’s something that’s on my radar.

That’s it!

Mostly. I do want to get into better shape, but I’m not making that a resolution, because…I’m pretty sure I’ll fail to reach certain goals. But I do want to start afresh. Eat less crap, exercise a little more each day, that sort of thing. If anyone wants to be competitively fit with me, let me know 🙂

May your year get progressively more awesome!

November is over!

Okay, so:

My goals for this month:
1. Edit/write every day I don’t have a conflicting event (like my GKE trip next weekend). *Holds up calendar* You can tell I’m serious ’cause I wrote it down.
2. The above should let me finish a pass of edits on SaP, SS, and HtPD. So hopefully.
3. I’d love to get 3-5 K written this month, and I’m keeping track, but it’s not make or break.

I am excited to announce that I was very successful this month.

My writing hit 3K, but it wasn’t as much original, publishable fiction as I would have liked. And I haven’t written anything since the 16th. So that one wasn’t a huge success, but it did keep me writing a little when I knew my edits would overwhelm me.

As for the edits: I finished doing a pass on SaP, SS, and HtPD. I sent SS out to two beta readers and have gotten feedback from one. Overall positive feedback, so that makes me happy. She pointed out an issue with the end that I also felt…but I need to ponder how to fix it.

SaP, sitting at just over 50K, was a close one. I just finished my editing pass today. I also have to ponder how to move forward with this one. There’s a submission call that it can be sent to, and the deadline for it isn’t until 1/31/15, so I could hunt up a beta reader and get feedback, or I can just send it off and get it off my plate.

I’m leaning toward the second, because I’d like to focus on finishing up SS and then returning to BaW, which I’d REALLY like to get done or closer to friggen done 😛

Which leads me to this month’s goals:
1. Finish writing new ending to BaW.
2. Enter handwritten edits into final file.
3. Submit BaW to the writing group.

National Month of Doing Things

November is National Novel Writing Month. 50K in 30 days.

I’ve participated before. Enjoyed the challenge. Enjoyed the amount of work that got done.

But I’m also being realistic that this year it just is. Not. Happening. For reference, see October.

Here were October’s Goals:
1. Finish first pass on SaP. If ready, send to beta.
2. Finish pass on SS. If ready, send to beta.
3. Another pass on HtPD. Try for 500 more words. Submit.
4. If time/energy, look at R&R on GR.

I…did none of them. Now, I knew I had GRL, which would take up the 12-20. I just wasn’t also expecting for the ramifications of after GRL. Exhaustion being a big one. I still should have gotten some work done (and I did some edits on SaP, but not nearly enough).

I had vague plans at the beginning of October to use November as a chance to finish additions on BaW and alterations for GR. But since Nothing got done in October, I have new goals.

For November:
1. Edit/write every day I don’t have a conflicting event (like my GKE trip next weekend). *Holds up calendar* You can tell I’m serious ’cause I wrote it down.

2. The above should let me finish a pass of edits on SaP, SS, and HtPD. So hopefully.

3. I’d love to get 3-5 K written this month, and I’m keeping track, but it’s not make or break.

I’ve already started thinking about how I want to handle goals next year. I definitely want to try something different, but I’m not sure how. (Either something more consistent, something with rewards, or…I have no idea.)

I do need to do something that has more results, that’s for sure!