beth_bernobich: red mushroom (Rose Fractal)
Last year, I set only three writing goals for myself. One the one hand, I only accomplished two of them. On the other hand, I really like what I did accomplish:

  • There's the new version of the pirate novel, which I had to rewrite from the ground up. Several chapters proved to be very thorny (I'm looking at you, chapter 10), several new chapters showed up, and the entire second half needed rethinking.

  • Then there's Not!Sherlock, which went out on submission in February, got a revise and resubmit from an amazing publisher in May, and is now awaiting final word from that same publisher.

There was more, but those are the highlights. There were also two fabulous vacations, one medical curveball, my first tattoo, and a promotion at the dayjob.

Here is where I usually list my goals for the New Year. And usually life hands me a plot twist that upends those goals. This year? Even more uncertain than ever. Everthing depends on whether Not!Sherlock sells. Or the pirate novel. (Or both!) But if I had to pick a few goals, I'd choose:

  • Write at least one chapter of Not!Mansfield Park

  • Write one novella in my River of Souls world

  • Release new editions of Passion Play and Fox & Phoenix, print and e-book, with new covers and lower prices for the e-books

Low key goals, but goals that are important to me. Let's see how it goes...
beth_bernobich: red mushroom (Fractal Star)
This last year set a record for changes, most of them good ones, several daunting, and all of them necessary.

For the first half of 2015, I switched to part-time status at the dayjob so I could finish my Not!Sherlock novel. We had to juggle the budget a bit, but the result was definitely worth it. Those two extra days each week gave me the space and quiet to finish this novel, with characters I love to pieces, and with time left over for my family.

The first half of the year, I also ran a successful Kickstarter campaign for Nocturnall, the coda story to my River of Souls books. My goal was to raise enough money to create a professional publication, including custom artwork, a professionally designed cover and interior, and a special print edition for my supporters. I am deeply satisfied with the results, especially that readers can now see Ilse and Raul as they were meant to be.

There were some major changes, as well. I quit my job at the contract firm and started a new one at the University of Connecticut. I'm still a web developer, but now I have minions. (Plus real benefits!) I also parted ways with my agent. She's done many wonderful things for me over the years, but as time passed, we no longer meshed in several key ways.

All those changes—the new job with new responsibilities, the various self-publishing experiments—took up much of my writing time, but I still managed to accomplish a few things:

  • My Not!Sherlock novel complete and ready for the world (plus notes for two sequels)

  • My coda story, Nocturnall, released into the world as an e-book in December

  • My LGBTQA geek girl story, The Ghost Dragon's Daughter, expanded by several thousand words and released as an e-book in October with its own custom cover

  • Seven chapters of The Edge of the Empire ripped to pieces and put back together with one new character and a strong voice for my main character
So what about 2016?

I've learned not to overplan, but I have two goals I want to accomplish. The first is to finish revising The Edge of the Empire. I'm on target to accomplish that by late March/early April. The second is to write a first draft of my Not-Mansfield-Park novel, the one with magic and polyamory. After that? It all depends on the wild and wooly world of publishing.
beth_bernobich: red mushroom (blue woman)
Every year, I update my website journal with a new page for the new year. It's a time for taking stock, for looking back at the old year, and forward into the new.

So. 2014. It wasn't an awful year for me, personally. But wow, it did have its challenges. (Newbie. Unsales. Bronchitis.) It also had some splendid moments. (London!! RT Nomination for The Time Roads!!!)

The unsales are disappointing, but I can do something about them. One item, a short story, is already back out on submission. The other item needs a thorough rewrite before it goes out into the world again.

What truly discourages me is how little I wrote last year. I added up all the new work and came up with barely 50K of new work. And nothing new finished. Not only am I someone who *needs* to finish things, I also realized that unless I did finish at least one novel in 2015, my career would lose momentum. Again.

So. What did I accomplish in 2014?

A couple rough chapters for Not-Mansfield-Park
Fourteen edited chapters for Current Novel
Copyedits for The Time Roads (which almost counts as revision)
A thorough rewrite of Nocturnall, the coda story for River of Souls
A rewrite of The Ghost Dragon's Daughter, a short story set in the same world as Fox & Phoenix
A rewrite of chapter one for The Edge of the Empire, a River of Souls novel

See what I mean? I've written more in six months in previous years than I did in 2014. Or even three months. But beating myself up is pointless. Better to cast the old year aside and do better in the new.

To that end, I've made a few specific writing goals for 2015, and some sketchy plans that depends on how those first few goals pan out. They all can be summarized by "Finish things. But don't burn myself out. Take joy in the writing."

Speaking of which, I have a couple edits to finish up, and a new chapter to start.
beth_bernobich: red mushroom (girl and balloon)
...with a purring cat on my lap, making plans for the day and the year.

Today will be a day where I write one scene, tidy up one (small) room, and read one chapter from a friend's latest book. More would be lovely, but not required.
beth_bernobich: red mushroom (celestial map)
I'm in my office. The house is quiet. The cats have settled down now that I'm awake and about. I have a cup of good coffee, and I just read a shiny review for Fox & Phoenix in the January issue of Locus.

Time to start writing.
beth_bernobich: red mushroom (blue woman)
Every January I write a brief summary of the previous year. It helps me focus on what I have achieved, which in turn lets me sift through the noise of every day life so I can (if only for a day) figure out what I want to achieve next.

Just to add a few more details:

  • Last year, I wrote somewhere around 120K words. One novel (Queen's Hunt) and one new novelette ("Jump to ZIon"), and the first chapter for Allegiance.

  • Sales were few but significant. One short story collection (A Handful of Pearls & Other Stories), one YA novel (Fox & Phoenix).

  • Stories in print were also a bit scarce, but again, they marked new milestones for me. My first chapbook (Ars Memoriae) came out from PS Publishing, and my story "Air and Angels" appeared in Rich Horton's Unplugged: The Web's Best Sci-Fi & Fantasy
.
That was nine. For ten, my goals are pretty much what I described in my linked post. If all that talk about contracts and deadlines sounds dry, it isn't dry to me. It means books—books edited to make them better, books printed and showing up in bookstores. And to me that's magic.
beth_bernobich: balloon heart (balloon heart)
The New Year begins. I wish you all joy and good fortune through the coming months.

On the first day of the year, I aim for starting as you mean to go.

The past two years, I worked on Eireann stories—The Golden Octopus and Ars Memoraie. This year, a novel.

Usually I write plot notes and/or a loose outline. I'm trying something new this time around. I've moved all my existing drafts for QUEEN'S HUNT into a separate folder on my hard drive. I opened up a new document. And I just started to write.

Three hours later, with a couple breaks in between, I had over 1500 words.

I'm stopping now. I could write more—the images are bright and clear in my mind—but I did say starting as I mean to go. And so I pause now to snuggle the kittens, talk to my son, tidy up the house, spend a short interval excercising this ever-older body, and then it's off to visit my in-laws.

Because this writer needs her family, too.

Tomorrow I'll write some more. Nothing planned. Just picking the moments one by one and setting them to words.
beth_bernobich: red mushroom (Painter Flower)
Wrote 1,000 words today, bringing the WIP to the 8.2K mark. I'm now venturing (deeper) into the murky swamp where I kinda know what I want to happen but I rilly need to listen to my characters so I don't screw things up. However, I'm very happy with what I have so far, and the end is within sight. Finally. Various deadlines mean I must finish a first draft soon.

In other news: slept well and deep last night, played with the kittens this morning, installed security software on my son's new computer, and read a friend's wonderful ms.

Off to read more of that same ms. before we head to the in-laws for gnocchi.
beth_bernobich: red mushroom (tea cup)
Today was an all-day writing session. Not writing year-end summaries. Not writing goals for next year. That I'll do later in the week. Today was just for writing fiction. Because, y'know, I really, really wanted to finish the novella today.

And I did.

First draft word count is 27,300 words. It's too long, and the final scenes are wicked rough, but it's done. Now I can throw it out to readers and forget about it for a month. And make backups. And get back to writing novels for a while.

Rob and M visited the relatives without me. They came back with dishes of leftover gnocchi and veal cutlets from my mother-in-law, so I didn't even need to cook dinner.
beth_bernobich: red mushroom (sepia woman)
I don't often make New Year's Resolutions. Rather, I tend to spread my resolutions through the year. And though it might sound odd, I also give myself permission to fail. It's a question of mental trickery. If I lambaste myself for failing, I get too discouraged to try again (soon, anyway). As the Grand Master told us before our black belt test, "We're human, so we're imperfect. We expect you to make mistakes. Part of the test is how you handle those mistakes."

So, instead of resolutions, some goals:
  • Finish the current draft for "In the Presence of Her Enemies" (the second novel in the series I'm writing). How soon and how fast I finish depends on what happens with the first volume (currently with a couple editors), but I would like to finish the draft no matter what.

  • Get at least half of my Poison novel finished. Rough or polished or somewhere in between -- the level of draft doesn't matter. I want to anchor this story in my mind.

  • Find a short-story workshop that's doable. Clarion and Odyssey both sound lovely, but taking six weeks out of my life is just not possible. I might be able to swing one week, or a long weekend. A correspondence course would be even better. The point is to stop making writing exercises with lovely prose, and to start making real short stories.
Yes, it's a short list, but long detailed lists don't survive the first three months, I've found -- especially when it comes to writing. However, I would like to add a few more goals, ones only tangentially related to writing:
  • Take care of myself, mind and body. That means make time for karate, for eating the right things, for getting enough sleep. I started doing that last spring, and it's made a huge difference this winter.

  • Remember drawing. I used to be an artist -- that was how I defined myself. Since I took up family and writing and other activities, I've neglected all my drawing, to the point where I fear I can't do it anymore. It's time and past time to recover that part of myself.

  • Try one new thing.

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