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?

Looking back on 2020

Last week, everyone on social media was talking about what achievements they had during 2020, and I get they were being positive about a pretty terrible year, but when you feel like your life has gone backwards, it’s difficult to see all those achievements listed. But sometimes surviving is the biggest achievement of all. Also, I know I wasn’t such a downer the entire year.

Honestly, 2020 has flown by, despite March seeming like a year on its own. So let’s look back at January’s goals for this very interesting year…

  • Get Fit: I’ve actually made a little progress on this. Nothing to brag about, but I didn’t continue the backslide that I’d been doing, so there’s that! Admittedly, working full-time at a job that is very strict about when you take breaks has helped with the mindless eating, although I don’t feel like it balances out all the negatives.
  • Watch Less TV: There were good and bad weeks of this and it really depended on my mood, but it was a pandemic, so we’ll give this one a slide.
  • Monthly goals: I didn’t really follow through with setting these, possibly because months were such an odd concept for the spring and summer.
  • Write 120,000 words this year (that’s 10K a month): Success! I’m actually about 9K over that goal, and most of it was during the beginning of the pandemic, when I was half-unemployed and had the free time and emotional health to write. (Once I started the draining day job, with a part-time job, my writing plummeted. I’m glad I finished the project I was working on before starting this job.) That said, it’s been very depressing the last three months how little writing has gotten done.
  • Submit The Miracle Man: Success! I’m still waiting to hear back (at this point I’m expecting a reject, but with feedback) but I did my part of it.
  • I also submitted a short story to an anthology call, which I’m also waiting to hear back from (though that’s only been a month). The fact I haven’t already gotten a rejection gives me hope that they liked the story but don’t know if it’s a good fit (or they haven’t read it yet, the lil devil says), and I get that my angle was maybe not what they were going for, but it was very therapeutic to write, so I’ll understand if it doesn’t get selected and still be happy to have written it.

Keep an eye out for later this week, when I’ll write about my goals for 2021!

New Year, New…

If you’re anything like me, you don’t need the turning of a new year to make and break resolutions. But it’s nice to do it all together, isn’t it?

Yada, yada get fit.

Yada, yada watch less TV.

I’m continuing my “monthly goals” (which I hit only slightly more accurately than yearly ones!). I’m trying to up my writing word count and actually hit 120,000 in a year (or 10K a month). Not all those words are going to get published, and some of them are for other side projects not connected to my name, but writing is writing!

One serious goal is to submit The Miracle Man. Which means finally finishing revisions. Which I haven’t touched since….November? I’m a work in progress…

Currently I’ve been using my morning writing time to try to brainstorm the end of a different story (that is only 1/3 written) and takes place in the same world as Mark of the Familiar and Gift of the Familiar, but about a hundred and fifty years in the future (ie, our modern day, assuming similar timelines). I’m excited about this story and the characters (some of whom were not originally supposed to be as important as they are), but something’s hinky and I need to thinky.

So if anyone would like to wave their magic wand and resolve my issues, I’d much appreciate it.

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.

January round-up!

The new year means resolutions, cold weather, and the daylight hours slowly getting longer. I have to say, I’m pretty proud of myself for being on-task for my resolutions so far. But first…

Magic Runs Deep is up on Riptide’s site, available for preorder!! It’s coming in April (SO FAR AWAY)!

For the last five years, Veier has been chained to a king’s throne in his bear form. When a neighboring kingdom overthrows the crown, Veier’s imprisonment ends, but true freedom is not so easily earned. With blood on his hands, he needs someone with patience, strength, and trust to help him become the person he was before and prove to the invaders that he isn’t the monstrous king’s loyal pet.

Elrid, the invading king’s brother and a powerful mage, is everything Veier despises. He’s also the only thing between Veier and execution, because he thinks he can help Veier change from an aggressive bear shifter into a reasonable man. While the pair have a rough start, with long talks and mutual leaps of faith, they begin to care for each other.
However, the closer Veier gets to his freedom, the closer he is to losing Elrid. He must find balance in his heart and his life if he wishes to truly claim the freedom he’s been given—and the man he loves.
I’m really grateful to the artist who made this lovely cover after I gave…less than stellar feedback on what I was looking for.
January has also witnessed me get my first 10k written for 2018, which also matched up with me finishing my current WIP The Miracle Man. This book’s idea started several years ago, as a jotted opening in a notebook that sat unused in my bedside table for several years. Then during a writing slump, I said Well, why not write this, it’s utter bollox, and then everything started flowing. And now it’s done! Er, well, the firs step is. 
I’ve also spent January revising my one manuscript, and I have about 30 pages to go. It’s a contemporary (maybe even a rom-com) with a sexy tattooed biker and his not-as-straitlaced-as-his-parents-think boyfriend. It has playful banter during sex and puns. And a shower scene…
Anyway. I’ve also been reading! (You know…that 1 book a month goal.) I’m on-goal to finish What-the-Dickens by the end of January. It’s not captivating me, but it’s cute. 

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!

Happy New Year!

Normally I do a review of the past year and if I hit my resolutions and all that, but I really don’t care this year. Instead, I’m just going to look at the highlights:

I published two novellas: Second Skin and A Christmas for Oscar.

I participated in Nano and hit the 50K goal!

I wrote a 46K novel before Nano started (er, I sort of finished it on the first two days when I should have been Nanoing).

I knitted a twin-size Spider-Man blanket.

I made various doctor appointments, donated to a bunch of charities, got new glasses, and spent lots of time with friends (and family).

I watched Yuri!! on Ice explode across my Twitter and Tumblr.

I came out a little bit more to my family.

I had my first In-N-Out.

I rode, I laughed, I wrote, I lived.

And for the new year?
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.

And I think that’s it for this year.

Let’s make 2017 as awesome as it can be.

3 Weeks to a Better Me

A casual google search will tell you that the “three weeks to start a new habit” is pretty much BS–it varies person to person and breaking a habit can take even longer, if not be a lifetime struggle.

That said, if you’re trying to start a new habit, trying it out for three weeks isn’t really a bad way to go, if only to include it in your schedule and built it into the rhythm of your life. And maybe it won’t become a habit, but it certainly will be easier to do than before trying it!

I started thinking about this as I’d fallen into the bad habit of not brushing my teeth as often as I should. I know it’s gross not to and I know brushing is good for my teeth, but when you work from home, laziness can happen. So this month I’ve set myself up to brush my teeth at least twice a day for the month. Every time I do, I put a sticker in my calendar. And if I get 30 stickers, I’m going to reward myself. Hopefully having done this for a month will mean that I’ll continue to do it for the months that follow.

Next month, I’ll have a new goal and follow the same system.

And maybe by January I’ll have fallen out of my first habit and need to redo it…and maybe I’ll push it for two months to make sure it sticks! It’s like doing new year’s resolutions, but only one and at the beginning of every month!

We’ll see how it goes for the last three months of 2016, and that will decide if I continue doing this for 2017. Either way, I think trying to better myself in these little ways will definitely be a good change!

Oddly enough, I’m struggling to think of what my monthly “rewards” can be–I don’t want it to be too crazy/expensive, but I also want it to feel special rather than just something I could do anyway. Thoughts are welcome 🙂

July Arrives!

We have reached the half-year point, and I feel obligated to take a look at how I’m doing on those new year’s resolutions.

Take care of my teeth!
I’ve been rather lackluster on this one. I think I did it for like a week. And then forgot about it. I should…start up again.

Make necessary doctors’ appointments!
Definite “necessary”….I made some good appointments, but haven’t made the ones I really needed to make. I was trying to do one “betterment” item a month. And I’ve skipped a lot of months.

Make MORE necessary doctors’ appointments

Work on generally treating my body well (exercise, eating, stretching, and RELAXING).
I’ve done OK on this regard (woohoo!). I had some time in February and March that weren’t going well….and that probably leaked into April and I noticed it really affecting me. But May/June have gone pretty good. I haven’t lost weight or anything, but I’ve been more active and more focused on my food consumption. I still don’t always make the best choices, but I’m at least aware I’m making poor choices?

I’ve been stretching, but only barely. And mostly in relation to riding horses.

And I’ve never relaxed a single day in my life, I swear. But doing things that are less stressful but make me feel productive and that counts as relaxing to me!

…and this post seems like I’ve not been doing anything. But I’ve been hitting (or surpassing) my smol word count goal every month (mostly. Last month was tough). I’ve been working on revisions to stories based on beta reads, and I’ve been donating money to good causes every month. So…not a complete slacker. But I possibly forgot what my goals were this year. 😛

Hope you’re doing better in that regard than I am!

2016 Resolutions

A new year, and now some new goals!

First, let’s look back on the past year and see how I did…

Read ONE non-work book a month
I did…okay here. I missed 3 months. And my goal was to not read any queer romances as part of this “book a month” but I definitely fudged on THAT end. But I also read a bunch of different books, which was good. So, mostly a win. And I want to keep this up!

Write 5,000 words a month
YES. I feel like I did well here. There may have been a month or two where I didn’t hit, but I made up for it with some of the other months. And that size is good for me right now. I want to keep it up, definitely.

Focus more on the craft of writing
Erm. Maybe? Writers’ group and editing has definitely improved, but I haven’t really actively done anything to work on the “craft of writing.” Sooo, gonna say FAIL

Waste less time online
…define “waste”…

Live my life honestly
Sorta? All my friends use “they” pronouns and are cool with it and yay! But I’m still not really out with my family. Things didn’t really change as much as I had hoped in this regard. I didn’t necessarily feel like I was lying, but I wasn’t 100% honest either. But then, who does live their life 100% honest with everyone in their lives?

And for this year? Well, I want to continue trying to read outside of work and hitting my 5K words a month. But those are continuing actions, not new goals.

This year’s goals are going to be a been more physical in their aim.

– Take care of my teeth!
– Make necessary doctors’ appointments!
– Make MORE necessary doctors’ appointments
(I really hate making doctors’ appointments)
– Work on generally treating my body well (exercise, eating, stretching, and RELAXING)

No one wants all the details about how I work from home and have become a slovenly cave-dwelling monster, so we’ll just leave it at those basic things. Though there is one thing I want to work a bit more actively toward, and that is buying a freakin’ house. But that’s kinda huuuuge, so I don’t know if it, in itself, will happen this year. But I’ll take some steps toward it. (Oh goody, more talking to serious professionals. UGH.)

And if anyone has tips on how to deal with the obstacle that is making doctors’ appointments, please let me know!