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
….Right.

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!

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…

Yeah.

– 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!

February’s out, March is in

February’s Goals1. Get in a good exercise at least 3 days a week.
2. Write 6,000 words this month.
3. Tie up a lot of loose ends for random things.
4. Find at least one place to submit something to (whether or not that story is finished for submitting).

So we survived February.

1. Not really. I tried to exercise, but some weeks I was super busy, some weeks I was just tired, and some weeks I had no excuse. I need to get back on this wagon.

2. 8,966. So I ended up almost 3,000 over my goal. I want to celebrate, but part of the success was writing over my lunch breaks, which will only work until spring, when I go on walks. However, it did give me a nice push on my shift story (which is only a few thousand from finished, I’d guess). And now I have a few stories fighting for next. It’s a lovely feeling.

3. Pretty much tied up things I needed to. I have on last item on my long-term to-do list. It’s not really a loose end, but it is on the check list. But otherwise cleaning this up helped a ton.

4. As I said before, this is on hiatus, I think. When I wrote the goal, I was in a different place in my head. I’m fine with having not done this. Focusing on #2 was more important.

So February went pretty well. It was super busy, but I still hit half my goals (more than, really). In fact, considering how much time I spent working, I’m surprised I did half as well as I planned. But now it’s March!

March Goals

1. Write 6,000 words. I’m not upping the count yet. I want to see if I can get more than one month with goods word counts.

2. Do some level of physical activity every day (even if it’s just a 5-minute routine).

3. Do that final loose end that I need to do.

I think that’s it for March. I have busy weekends, #3 will take a good chunk, and the other two will involve a level of daily focus. Whew.