Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Halfway Point

Wait...what's this? A second post in the same month? Why, that's just crazy.

But let's do it anyway.

So, when the calendar gets to about the halfway point of the year, I like to take a look back at the goals I set in January to see how it's going. (Hint: usually not well.) Often I'm early with this post, but this year I'm running behind. Which is kind of the theme of 2018.

But, at the very least, I have made some sort of measurable progress on everything.

The Writing Goals

The biggest goal in this category is to publish Second Nature. That obviously hasn't happened yet, but as you may have seen on social media, progress has been made. Look! Proof copies!

The only thing standing in the way of publication is the completion of the ebook formatting, and the only thing standing in the way of that is simply me procrastinating on getting it finished. Or, you know, started. But I'm working on it. Kind of. I mean, I haven't been working on it at all. But I will. Soon. Probably...I'm hoping to get my act together and get this book out in the world by the end of the month. Or, if failing that, the end of the summer. Or the year. Or next year...

The other three writing projects on my radar this year are still in the works, but they are in the works, and I'm super excited by them. I've been strangely productive lately (on those projects, anyway. Maybe not so much with the ebook formatting...). Who knows how long it'll last, but I hope to take full advantage of it while it's around.

The Reading Goal

I intend to read 52 books this year. I was doing well for a while there, but that's kind of come to a grinding halt. But hey, I just checked in with Goodreads, and apparently, I'm on track. Which is a nice surprise. I seriously thought I'd be way behind. Good for me!

The Fitness Goal

The goal is to log an average of 4.10 miles per day. As of yesterday, I have logged 623 miles, which only sounds impressive until you realize I was supposed to have logged 787 miles by now. So, yeah. I'm a little behind. But I could be behind by a whole heck of a lot more.

What Else Is Going On

—I volunteered to give a presentation to a local writers group this Saturday. That's right. I was, like, "Hey, I'll totally talk in front of people! I love talking in front of people!" Could someone please check to see if there have been reports of pod people in Florida?

—While The Man was watching The NeverEnding Story last night, I was reading that there's a film studio-type place in Germany (where they filmed the movie, perhaps?) where you can actually ride Falcor. I don't know if this is true, but if it is, I so want to do that.

—Also, thirty-four years later, I still can't watch the Swamp of Sadness scene in that damn movie. It's just too damn sad. Says the author who gleefully giggles every time she devises a new way to torture her characters.

—Speaking of torturing characters, this weekend marked the one-year anniversary of the conception of the Shiny Potentially Devastating-to-Readers (all five of them...) Storyline for Book Three in my fantasy series. I tip my hat to my brother for all his help in devising it. I'm really looking forward to one day finishing the book so I can test that storyline with the betas.

And on that note, I'm going to call it quits for the day. Thanks for stopping by, and maybe I'll see you next week. Or next month. We'll see how it goes.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Do Your Thing (An IWSG Post)

Hey, everyone! It's the first Tuesday of the month, and tomorrow's an American holiday, so that means it's time for another action-packed installment of the Insecure Writers Support Group!

(For more information or a complete list of participants, please click on the above link...)

I totally spaced on last month's installment. This blog has really become a ghost town filled with nothing but dust and tumbleweed. Oops. I shall henceforth attempt to do better...but will probably end up disappearing after this post until next month. Which is never the intention, but just kind of the way things have been going this year.

Anyway...This month's awesome co-hosts are: Nicki Elson, Juneta Key, Tamara Narayan, and Patricia Lynne.

This month's (optional) question asks, "What are your ultimate writing goals, and how have they changed over time (if at all)?"

Which I found to be an interesting question, so I am going to ramble at length about it now. Let's see where we end up, shall we?

So, okay. I think, when my writing first started to transition from hobby to career, I was very concerned with what an author was supposed to do. There were certain hoops that I thought an aspiring author-type person was supposed to jump through that would lead to becoming an actual author-type person, rather than an aspiring one.

(Aside: though I am using it here, I am not a huge fan of qualifying 'author' or 'writer' with adjectives such as 'aspiring'. If you write, you are a writer. If you write, you are an author. You may not be published, or have a book on a best sellers list somewhere, but you can and should still call yourself an author. End aside.)

And this is not me saying that there isn't merit to following such a path and jumping through those hoops or whatever. There are a great many authors who have found success in that traditional way, and I salute them. I firmly believe that everyone should choose the path that is right for them. What I am saying is that at any point in time in my life when I attempt to do what I am supposed to do, it more often than not leads to me really struggling to do that thing.

Take college, for example. I went to college right after high school because that's what I was supposed to do. I attempted to major in music and English because that's what I was supposed to do, and it took me six years to earn a four-year degree because I didn't have a clue who I was or what I wanted to do. I was trying to cram myself into a mold in which I just didn't fit. For that reason, my first three years of college were, quite simply, a disaster. I would have been better served had I taken some time off after high school to figure out what exactly I wanted to do with my life and what exactly I wanted to get out of my college education.

Now, back to writing.

So yeah. When I started, I feel like I was too focused on what I thought I was supposed to do. And that's changed. These days, I'm more about doing what won't make me miserable. I want to write stories that make me happy (or as happy as I ever am with anything I ever write...). I want to please myself. If other people happen to like my books, then that's okay. If they hate my books, that's okay, too.

To each their own.

Last year (or possibly two years ago), I gave a talk at a public library. One of the questions I received afterward was about my level of success—was I successful?—and I had to consider it for a moment. In terms of number of books sold, I am not successful. I will likely never be able to support myself on my writing alone. In terms of number of readers, I am not successful. You can count my readers on two hands. Possibly even one. I am not on any best sellers lists. I am not on any lists anywhere. I am not anything that would traditionally be counted as successful.

But is that how I view success?

Truth is, it's not.

Authors are all different. We have different goals; we have different measures of success—and that's fantastic. If your goal is to sell 1,000,000 copies of your novel, that's awesome. If your goal is to sell the rights to your novel to a major movie studio, that's awesome. If your goal is to simply write your memoir to pass down to your grandchildren and great-grandchildren, that's awesome. I applaud you.

Yes, my career would be better served if I was more invested in sales rankings and marketing and all of that. But I'm not. That has never really been my goal—and probably never will be my goal—because it makes me miserable, and as has been previously stated, I strive to make myself as not miserable as possible as much as possible.

My goal with Effigy was to make one person (preferably someone not related to me) stay up all night to read my story because that's what I love most about reading. That moment when a book grabs me and renders me incapable of doing anything else? I freaking love that feeling, and I wanted to affect a reader the way that some books, some authors, have affected me.

And not to be braggy or anything, but I achieved that goal. Twice, actually. Twice, readers (neither of which were related to me in any way, shape, or form) contacted me to tell me that they had stayed up all night to read my story because they just couldn't bring themselves to put it down.

Which felt great. Well, in the moment it was utterly terrifying because interacting with humans is something at which I do not excel, but afterward, in the privacy of my own home, it felt great. I achieved what I set out to do.

Everything else is gravy.

So I guess the point is that we should never allow anyone to define success for us. We can only do that for ourselves. As my good friend, Tina Fey, says, "Do your thing and don't care if they like it."

I feel as though I've gotten away from the original question and point of this post (or as much as of a point as any of my posts ever have...) which I know never, ever happens on this blog. I probably could have just said that I want to write the books I want to write, and left it at that.

Once a rambler, always a rambler, I guess. 

Anyway, that's my opinion. We welcome yours.

Thanks for stopping by today. If you're celebrating tomorrow, please do so responsibly. It's all fun and games until someone loses a finger in a fireworks accident.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Awkward (An IWSG Post)

Hey, all!

It's the first Wednesday of the month, which means it's time for another action-packed installment of the Insecure Writers Support Group!

Please click on the above link for more information about the group and/or for a complete list of participants.

This month's co-hosts are: E.M.A. Timar, J. Q. Rose, C. Lee McKenzie, and Raimey Gallant.

This month's (optional) question asks, "It's spring! Does this season inspire you to write more than others, or not?"

The short answer to this question is no.

There's a longer answer, but I don't really feel like getting into it. Instead, I thought I might ramble a little about how damn socially awkward I am. I don't think this post has much of a point, but I guess we'll see where the rambling takes us...

(Note: I don't know what the above gif has to do with anything, but I kind of liked it so I decided to use it.)

Okay. So, here's the thing—and this certainly won't be a shocking revelation by any means—I am seriously socially awkward. I have very little ability to interact with the human race without coming across as some kind of giant awkward goofball. And after I do interact with the human race, I feel anxious about the encounter for days, if not weeks.

For example, yesterday I was able to make a quick trip back to New Hampshire to visit my old writers group. It was really great to see some old friends, meet a few new faces, and hey—the library still has my book Effigy on the shelves. I don't think anyone has checked it out in a while, so it's really even nicer that they keep it around.

And because the group asked nicely and made sad puppy dog eyes at me (Note to self: become less of a sucker for sad puppy dog eyes), I shared with them an excerpt from my in-theory-will-someday-be-published-but-who-knows novel Second Nature. The excerpt was very well received. Like, really well received—and this is not a group of people in the habit of heaping false praise on people. Which, naturally, made me want to crawl under a table or disappear into a hedge Homer Simpson style...

It got worse when one of those people decided to pull up Effigy reviews online and read them out loud to the rest of the group. 

I don't think I've ever run from a room so fast in my entire life.

(First Aside: Yes, I really did leave the room, with my fingers in my ears. I did not, however, actually run. I was wearing flip-flops and figured that falling and breaking my neck would do me few favors.)

(Second Aside: I really can't bring myself to read reviews. I tried it once, and though it was a lovely five-star review for which any author would probably kill, I felt horrible for weeks afterward. (More on that in a moment...) Because I have issues. Anyway, that said, I really do appreciate anyone who not only takes the time to read my book but who then takes the time to write a review for it. You are rock stars and I salute you!)

Now it's the next day, and I feel anxious and sick—physically sick—that I shared something I wrote with five whole people, and they liked it. (And that whole reading-reviews-out-loud thing, but that may be a different post altogether). I will continue to feel this way for days. It'll probably be a little worse because I'm writing about it in this blog, and I always feel the same way about anything I post on IWSG day (and every other day, too, truth be told.).

It's possible that I have issues.

But I suppose there's no way to know for sure.

Why did I share anything? Why couldn't I just sit there quietly? Damn you, puppy dog eyes!

I really need to look into become one of those reclusive writers who lives all alone in some cabin deep in the woods.

Just so long as the cabin has Internet. And chocolate. And Chris Hemsworth in a letterman jacket. (Waits to see if anyone gets the reference...)

All right, that seems to be as good a place as any to end this ramble. Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, April 2, 2018

Goal Post

All right, so this is going to be a long post, so I'm just going to jump right into things. If you celebrate Easter, I hope it was a good one.

Here's a quick-ish recap of the goals I set for myself last month:

1. Send Second Nature to the printer.

Okay, so, technically, I did this. I sent the manuscript to the printer, and I am now in possession of a proof copy. This may seem like progress, but there were some formatting errors, and a few really stupid typos that I am now in the process of rectifying. I'm not sure how long this process will take—except it will almost certainly take longer than I think because it always does—but I guess I can still say that I achieved my goal.

2. Prepare for and don't vomit during upcoming presentation at local writers group.

I did this. And I didn't even vomit. I am also told it went reasonably well. (Which may not be the phrase they used, but it's one with which I am almost comfortable.) Not only did I do this, but I also received an invitation to give said presentation at another local writers group—and I said yes. That presentation isn't until May, so I have plenty of time to worry about it.

3. Walk or run at least three miles a day.

I just missed this goal. By one mile on one day. The Man and I, however, have managed to stick with our running program, though. I'm not sure whether to put that in the good or bad category, but we're still running three days a week.

4. Complete one fifteen-minute yoga workout each week.

Yeah. I didn't do this. I did one fifteen-minute yoga workout the entire month. It may be time to give up this goal. At least for a little while.

5. Read at least four books.

I only read three. I probably would have made this goal had a certain flawed proof copy not arrived. Oh well. Better luck next month...

Speaking of April, here's what I'm hoping to tackle this month:

1. Complete review of Second Nature proof copy, make all necessary changes to the manuscript, and order a new proof copy.

2. Walk or run at least three miles a day.

3. Don't sob too uncontrollably when I go see Avengers: Infinity War

4. Don't beat myself up too badly when the entire month goes to hell (as it inevitably will because...karma, apparently) and I accomplish nothing on this list.

I have a lot going on this month, so really, my major goal in April is to just get through it. Sure, I'd like to wrap up Second Nature once and for all, but it's taking a back seat this month (Can't be helped. Other things are more important.).

I aim to do my best (and also to misbehave...) and also to forgive myself if I fall short.

What's on your to-do list this month? Are you A to Z-ing? Camp NaNo-ing? Both? If you are, best of luck to you. I'm rooting for you!

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Celebrate Good Times (An IWSG Post)

Hey, everyone!

It's the first Wednesday of the month, which means it's time for another action-packed installment of the Insecure Writers Support Group. (Click on the link for more information and a complete list of participants...)

This month's amazing co-hosts are: Mary Aalgaard, Bish Denham, Jennifer Hawes, Diane Burton, Gwen Gardner.

This month's (optional) question asks, "How do you celebrate when you achieve a writing goal/finish a story?"

It depends upon the goal.

More often than not, I just get irritated with myself for not having achieved the goal sooner, but it has been suggested that perhaps that particular approach may not be the healthiest one ever, so I am trying not to do that anymore. (With mixed results, naturally.)

So when I finished Second Nature's blurb last week, I celebrated by taking the afternoon off and going to the beach (*ducks as everyone in a cold-weather climate throws giant snowballs at her head*). Of course, me taking the afternoon off looked like me sitting in the sand and writing a scene for Full Circle, but we all celebrate things in different ways, right?

When I finally published my debut novel (fine, my only novel...) Effigy, I celebrated a little bit differently.

I bought swords.

I really love swords. I told myself that if I one day released Effigy into the world, I would treat myself to a matching pair of short swords. My significant other was like, "Can't you just eat a lot of cake?" To which I responded, "Oh, I'm going to do that, too."

And I did.

And yeah, maybe I bought a matching dagger, too.

They're pretty awesome. If I do say so myself. (I understand if I am saying so myself...) Plus, it totally inspired me to want to write and publish another book so that I could add to my collection. Three and a half years later, I am...getting closer to accomplishing this goal.

Which means that I am getting closer to needing to decide upon what to add to my collection next. A double-bladed battle axe? A nice broadsword? A trebuchet? (That could be one way to encourage my loud neighbors to stop being loud neighbors...)

Or perhaps I should just stick with the cake.

How about you? How do you celebrate your writing achievements?

Thanks for stopping by today, everyone. Have a great Wednesday!

Monday, March 5, 2018

March Goals

Hey, everyone. Happy Monday. Hope y'all had a great weekend.

As I mentioned in my last post, today I am sharing my goals for March.

Stop me if you've heard these before...

Send Second Nature to the printer

The Man has this theory that I'm actually the problem here. Which is...ridiculous and completely not accurate at all. Except it isn't and it is. Here's hoping that this month is the month when I get my act together long enough to get this book wrapped up once and for all.

Prepare for and don't vomit during upcoming presentation at local writers group

I'm scheduled to give a talk on storyboarding at a local writers group on March 10th. I'm not exactly sure how that happened, but I do hope that my obsession with storyboarding will defeat my absolute terror of talking in front of other people.

Walk or run at least three miles a day.

Part of this goal will also be to keep up with the running program The Man and I started last month. We're supposed to run three times a week. Every time we do, I have to wonder why we started this stupid program.

Complete one 15-minute yoga workout each week.

I hate that I have to keep backing up with this goal. Next month, it'll probably read 'one 15-minute yoga workout every other week'.

Read at least four books.

I know I have a slight lead in my Goodreads challenge, but I'd like to keep that lead. However, that said, I will totally sacrifice it in the name of getting my own manuscript to the printer.

Other Things I'm Looking Forward To This Month:

—A visit to the Ren Faire. I still haven't decided upon which theme weekend I want to attend, but as long as I get to go at all, I'll be good.

—Season Two of Jessica Jones. Season One was seriously amazing, and I have been looking forward to the second season from the moment that the first ended.

Ready Player One in theaters. I'd really like to read the book again before I go (it's been a while since I've read it. A refresher course couldn't hurt), but I have no idea if that's in the cards.

That's everything on my agenda this month. What's on your To-Do list?

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

February Wrap Up

Wait...what's this? Two posts in the same week?

I know. I can't believe it, either.

Okay, so we've finally reached the end of February. I say 'finally' because it feels as though this month  (this year) has gone on for about twelve million years. I wouldn't mind this phenomenon, if I were actually getting anything done, but the harsh truth remains that I really am not.

Whatever. I'll just try again next month.

Today, however, I am offering up a review of the goals I had set for myself at the start of February and a little bit on how I did with them.

Here we go...

1. Send Second Nature to the printer.

Yeah. That didn't happen. But did you really expect it to happen? I'm still working on the blurb for the back of the book. Three-quarters of it is done and ready to go. There's just one paragraph for which I haven't yet found the right wording. I'm a little afraid that I'll be working on the blurb for the rest of my natural-born days and a good portion of my being-a-ghost days, which is sad. If I'm going to be a ghost, I want to do way more interesting things than write blurbs for the back of books.

2. Read at least four books.

I actually managed to do this one. Not only did I read four books this month, I read eight. Sure, three of those books were kids books that were lying around my mother's house (some series about a pigeon who wants to drive a bus and eat junk food), but they still count, right?

3. Walk, run, or bike at least three miles each day.

I fell short on this one, but not by much. I missed the mark on two days (one by a little, one by a lot). Every other day, however, I either met or exceeded the three mile mark, which is a vast improvement over January. The Man and I have even started one of those "Couch to 5K" type programs to help us become actual runners and not theoretical ones. It's going really well. Here's some footage of me running:

4. Do two fifteen-minute yoga workouts each week.

Yeah. I managed one ten-minute workout the entire month. So...yeah. Still a little work to do here. I don't know why I'm having such a hard time getting back into the routine, but if anyone can come up with a way to blame Florida rather than my own laziness, then please let me know. I couldn't find a gif I liked for this, so please enjoy Baby Groot instead:

Recap of Other Things I was Looking Forward to in February:

—The Super Bowl.

Yeah. That did not go the way I had hoped it would. But, like, congrats to the Eagles or whatever.

—This Is Us

Well, I sobbed and then sobbed some more. This show makes me cry a lot. I have a friend who's afraid she's this cold, unfeeling monster because she never cries while watching. I've assured her I'm just a big baby. Here's some footage of me watching the show:

The Black Panther movie

I thought it was a lot of fun, and I want to be Shuri or Nakia or Okoye when I grow up. That is all.

—Ren Faire visit

This didn't happen. Other things came up, so the Ren Fair visit has been bumped to March. I'm trying to decide between two theme weekends: Saint Patrick's Day or Harry Potter. I know you wouldn't think it, but it's been surprisingly tough to settle on one. The Man, being the superhero that he is, has suggested that we just go both weekends. Which seems like a good compromise to me.

The Winter Olympics

I watched so much curling. (Yet, I still don't understand it. Like, at all. I was even reading about it online, and I still don't understand it.) And figure skating. And downhill ski racing. Congrats to the U.S. women's hockey team on their gold medal. That was a hell of a game, even if it did make my Canadian friend very, very sad.

Okay, that's going to do it for me today. Tune in on Monday when I write about my March goals and plans. I promise it'll be more riveting than it sounds*...

I know it's just Wednesday, but have a great weekend, everyone! Thanks for stopping by.

*—Possibly not more riveting than it sounds.