New Year, Same Old Me

Well, it’s curtains for 2013. A new year has begun.

This is my favorite time of year. So much promise and possibility. Plus, at heart I’m an over-thinker and a planner, so I delight in taking stock and looking ahead.

2013 was a pretty great year for my writing career. I had two new stories come out and have sold a third one which will appear next year. I finished one novel (ABSENT) and began sending it around to agents and have nearly completed the first draft of another one (PROJECT AWESOME). I feel like it’s been a year of growth for me, both in terms of creativity and in terms of deepening my understanding of structure.

Here are my 2013 numbers:

  • New short stories completed and out on submission: 4 (I hoped to write 7, so I fell short here)
  • Total short stories out on sub: 12 (garnering a total of 49 rejections and 3 acceptances)
  • Short stories sold: 3 (plus I was awarded both Semi-Finalist and Honorable Mention finishes from Writers of the Future)
  • Novels out on sub: 1 (ABSENT)
  • Total words written: approximately 220,000 (a complete rewrite of Absent, 75K on the first draft of Project Awesome, plus 4 new shorts and a couple of in-depth outlines). This does not include short stories drafted but not yet finished. While this is a good number, it’s 30K short of last year and 50K shy of what I hoped to accomplish.
  • Conventions attended: 1 (MileHiCon)
  • Writing Workshops attended: 3 (Vegas women’s writing retreat, Colorado writing retreat, and Paradise Lost)

While I think this is a pretty respectable showing, I wrote less in 2013 than I did in 2012 as well as less than I’d projected.

There are a number of reasons for this. I developed and taught a new class for my day job in the spring semester, which was about one million times more work than I’d anticipated and definitely cut into my writing productivity. I also had some personal things going on that kept me both distracted and busy and reduced my writing time throughout the summer and early fall.

However, numbers aren’t everything. This was my most successful year to date in terms of sales, as well as a year in which I received dramatically more personalized rejections and had more stories held for voting and editorial consideration. Thus, I infer it is not just me who thinks my writing is getting stronger and more compelling. And that is always a win.

So, my writing goals for 2014 are:

  • Finish the first draft of PROJECT AWESOME, get it beta-read and revised and start subbing it to agents
  • Begin a new novel (TBD – so exciting!)
  • Write and sub at least 5 new short stories
  • Make more sales!
  • Attend more conventions. Much as I dread networking, I need to get out there and meet more people.
  • Revisit some old abandoned projects and see if they can be revised and revitalized or if they are destined to be trunked

So, that’s my year behind and my year ahead. How about you? Did you meet your writing goals? Any important milestones to share? Do tell!

Bon voyage!

Well, it wasn’t pretty, but I’ve got a more-or-less completed rough (really, really rough) 2nd draft of my novel, ABSENT.  It’s not in a fit state to send round to my writing group yet.  So, in that sense, I failed to meet my goal 😦

Still, it clocks in at around 80k and is complete enough to print out and take along on my journey over the Atlantic…for which I depart today!

I picture myself sitting on the patio overlooking the azure Mediterranean, sipping wine, and editing away.  A more accurate reality will probably be the replacement of the editing with a mid-afternoon nap, but who knows?  It could happen.

In any case, I won’t be online much for the next 10 days, so I bid you all a fond adieu (for now, at least!) and I’ll see you when I get back (no doubt 10lbs heavier and permanently hungover).

Well…I’m off and missing you all already!  Try to hold down the fort while I’m gone, will you?

September whosit whatsit?

September is always a tough month for professors.  After the long, lazy sprawl of summer (which invariably ends with an abruptness that I never seem to see coming), the onset of the fall semester is both exciting and traumatic.  This year I’m teaching a new course (on the Aztecs, Maya, and Olmec) and the prep work is all but burying me alive.  So, as far as writing goes, September has been a lean month.  Here’s what I’ve managed to get done:

1. I wrote only about 9,000 new words – most of it on the second draft of my archaeological time-travel novel ABSENT, but also a bit on a steampunk short about 17th century skull collectors.

2. I sent out one new query for BLOOD RED SUN and am still waiting to hear on the partial request I got over the summer.

3. My short story ARK IN A SEA OF STARS won Honorable Mention at Writers of the Future.

4. I completed zero critiques – a first for me in awhile.

5. I read a lot of books.  My Nook is making the 1 1/2 hour (each way) subway commute to work a literary paradise.  This month I read 6 books, including: Moon Called by Patricia Briggs, Blood Bound by Patricia Briggs, In Shade and Shadow by Barb & JC Hendee, all these things i’ve done by Gabrielle Zevin, An Artificial Night by Seanan McGuire, and Summer Knight by Jim Butcher.

6. While I may not have accrued a very high word count this month, I have done a lot of thinking (that good old subway commute is not wasted time, my friends) which resulted in some good forward progress on the Urban Fantasy novel I’m working on outlining.  I’m still debating the wisdom of trying to begin drafting this for NaNoWriMo (or attempting NaNo at all, given my teaching schedule this year), but the outline is getting to the point where I think it might be doable.

Seabrook Island, SC

7. I took 2 trips this month.  First I traveled to Charlottesville, NC for a wedding and then to Charleston, SC for a weekend on Seabrook Island (from where I am currently writing this post).  The latter really surprised me with its awesomeness and proved a great spot for writing.  I’m already mentally plotting a return here for a writing retreat sometime.

I’ve still got a major completed-lecture-deficit going forward into October, so it’s not like I’m expecting to have tons of free time, but I am hoping that with the first crazy push of the semester over I’ll be able to establish a better rhythm for writing next month.  This month, that is.

Fingers crossed.

What did you get done in September?  Do share, please!

The New Digs

As many of you know, the hubby and I have recently purchased our first home, a three bedroom apartment in Park Slope, Brooklyn.  Squee!  Terror!  The last week or so has been taken up with packing, moving, and unpacking, but we’re finally settled (more or less) in our awesome new place.

There have been all the usual adventures involved with buying new construction and being the first to move in…including working out adjustments with the hot (or not) water, and getting the washer/dryer to overcome its overly high-tech qualities and actually turn on.  Here’s a shot of the hubs trying to see behind the unit to figure out if the hoses were hooked up:

The laundry closet is hungry...stay clear of its maw or pay the price!

We’re still short a few pieces of furniture and haven’t hung any of our art yet, but here are a few pics to give you a general idea of Home Sweet Suri:

The lovely living room
Cook's central
Where the writing magic happens (or: I FINALLY HAVE MY OWN OFFICE!!)

Bonus points if you can spot Ramses, who is hiding in one of the three pictures….

So, now that we’re moved in, I have no more excuses and have to get back to work.  Naturally, I’ll be traveling again soon (a trip to Seattle in a week and a half), so I’m tasking myself with finishing the rough draft of ABSENT before I go.  Once I get back, it’ll be time to start gearing up for the fall semester, so it’s now or never!

What do you think of our new place?  What’s new in your life and what are your writing goals for the week?

Dreams of 2011

2011 is staring us down from next weekend, steely-eyed and implacable.  We’ve got less than a week to go until New Year’s and nowhere to hide.  Okay, maybe that’s a bit dramatic…but what can I say?  I’m coming off a Christmas food coma and waiting for a threatened snowpocalpyse to hit New York.  My husband is already going stir crazy from being off work for 4 days, and his office is closed all next week.  He’s got a wild look in his eyes.  Mr. Ramses has built an impregnable fortress underneath the Christmas tree and keeps launching sneak attacks on passerbys.  Everything seems dramatic right now.

But I digress.

It being New Year’s soon, and in light of the list of 2010 accomplishments (and failures) I posted last week, I thought I’d reflect on some goals for the coming year.  So, here goes:

1. Set more realistic writing deadlines.  Or rather, come to a better understanding of how to balance my writing life with my home and work life.  I tend to set writing goals independent of how much I have to do in other arenas of my life.  Inevitably, I get a massive amount of writing done in a few weeks and then spend an equivalent amount of time burned out and catching up on everything I let slide.  This is exhausting.  So, in 2011 I’m going to strive for more consistency and balance.

2. Increase my output.  I don’t currently have a daily or weekly word count goal, and I think it’s time to start.  I also think this will help me achieve #1.  I wrote about 130,000 words in 2010, so I’ll shoot for 200,000 in 2011.

3. Finish final revisions to “A Blood Red Sun” and start querying it by the end of February, maybe sooner.  Then finish a revised first draft of “Absent” by the end of the year and have the next novel in early draft form.

4. Work on novels one at a time.  Last year (thanks to NaNoWriMo) I decided I could multitask on two novels simultaneously.  The result was a slowdown in productivity on both.  A better formula (for me, at least), is to work on one major project (such as a novel) with short stories and development work on future novels going on the side.

5. Though I consider myself more of a novel writer than a short story writer, I resolve to continue writing (and hopefully) publishing short stories.  Last year I wrote and subbed 4 short stories.  This year I’ll shoot for 6.

6. Attend at least two Cons and continue/increase my in-person and online interactions with other writers.

7. Continue this blog with regular and substantive posts and hopefully widen my readership.

8. Continue exercising regularly (5 days a week), lose 4lbs and then maintain that weight.

9. Be (much) better about practicing my guitar — at least 2x a week outside of my weekly lessons.  At least!

10. What travel time and money I have, I want to use it to see friends.  Trips to Miami and London are particularly overdue.  You guys know who you are, so consider yourselves forewarned 🙂

That seems like a good line-up, so I’ll stop there.  No sense going overboard, eh?