Happy New Year! + 2018 Goals

It’s hard to believe another year has gone by, but it has—and much to my surprise, I’ve pretty much achieved my goals. (This is only surprising to me because usually, I don’t set any goals.)

Last year, I set out to achieve three things: (1) finish editing Book I of my fantasy series, (2) begin planning and writing Book II of said fantasy series, and (3) plan the end of a long-distance relationship I was involved in. (Notice how I used the past tense.)

#1 I’ve done; I’m still not “finished”, per se, but I’m “done” for now. I’ve sent the thing out to beta readers and am currently still getting some feedback to consider. So far so good. (Thought maybe I could be done with the whole beta reader process and edits based on that before now, but that was a joke. Still, I consider this goal “accomplished”.)

#2 I can also check off the list. Barely started actually writing the story just a few days ago so squeaked that one in. (My progress bar on the side of my website now reflects this.) One particular scene was in my head and I just wanted to get it down on paper. Since I’m still waiting on feedback for the first novel, I thought this would be a good time to get the second one going.

As for #3, well, things just didn’t work out with me and the ex-boyfriend. I think we were in very different places in our lives, and our lifestyles were way too different to really coincide. He was a lot more footloose and bohemian than me. Traveled light…that kind of thing. (And here I am collecting vintage furniture I don’t necessarily need.) There’s a certain appeal to that, but if you’re talking about possibly spending the rest of your life together and moving to another state…well, I’ll let you fill in the blanks.

There was also the issue of him changing his tune from “I can see us getting married” and nonchalantly asking me about ring styles to “I’m not sure I want to get married/believe in marriage anymore,” which is enough in and of itself if you ask me. #dealbreaker

That all happened back in February, in addition to having to put down my two very sickly cats of 17 years, and I’ve pretty much been single ever since. Actually, I think I’m a lot happier being single. Looking back on my dating escapades, I think I’ve always been happier single. Doesn’t mean I don’t get curious about men every now and then; I like men. (Well, some of them.) I’m just not sure I ought to be living with one. See, I happen to be responsible with my money, I live a pretty stable life, and I still believe that marriage can be a good thing. Unfortunately, none of those things seem to be en vogue with the guys I run into nowadays. (Because in my past lives, apparently, things were different. </sarcasm>)

I could really go on about this if I’m not careful, but that’s not why I started this post; I’m setting some new goals for the New Year, people. Three of them, to be exact—two that are writing-related and one that’s more personal. After all, that’s what I did last year, so y’know, let’s not get too creative.

Okay, I lied: let’s do two personal goals. There, I’m trying something new now.

Goal #1: Review & Implement Select Beta Reader Feedback on TEROH

Beta reading has been an interesting process. There are some baseline expectations that I think everyone brings to the table when they read a new novel, but I think people also bring some unsaid expectations to their experience. Those are the things that can throw you for a loop unless you’ve got multiple readers to compare notes with. Sometimes, you just flat out disagree with things readers say, and sometimes, you wholeheartedly agree—even if that means making some substantial changes to the story.

Since I’m still waiting on feedback from a lot of my beta readers, it’s hard to get a “big picture” view of the changes I should make right now. I do intend to cross-reference perspectives to see if there are commonalities, though just because one person’s suggestion isn’t being repeated by another person, that doesn’t mean it isn’t a good suggestion. Anyway, once I’ve gathered enough feedback, these are the kinds of things I’ll have to sort out before I begin making more edits in the novel. That way, I can come up with a plan of attack and then, well, attack.

In any case, I definitely want to get all of that done sometime this year. The earlier, the better, though it’s not like I don’t have other things to keep me busy. I’m not necessarily in a hurry to publish right now, and I still have some things to learn about the publishing process. Lately, after pondering how in the world I ought to position TEROH in a marketing light, I’ve been researching how to use keywords and choosing categories for your novel on Amazon. There’s a lot more to it than I realized, but it’s also kind of fascinating. This will mostly be helpful if I decide to self-publish in the end, but even if I go the traditional route, it’s still good to understand how the rankings and search engines work plus knowing what kind of ideas are making money (and what’s not) and all that fancy-schmancy jazz.

(Even though I’ve told myself I should try submitting my novel to agents when it’s ready, I’m still pretty torn on the decision, to be honest. I think I will go ahead and submit after completing feedback edits and finding an editor, but the idea of self-publishing is scaring me just a little bit less the more I research what’s involved.)

Goal #2: Write As Much of Revolutionary as Possible

This one’s pretty self-explanatory.

Just recently, I started writing a scene for the second novel in my series, The Elementalist: Revolutionary, that soon became two scenes and a full chapter. What I’ve done is brainstormed a bunch of scene ideas and wrote them down on index cards using a 1-2 sentence explanation of some main event I want to take place. As I make a new card, I also decide where it should go in the pile. I can lay them all out to help me see everything in relation to one another then just stack them back together again when I don’t need to see them all at once.

From there, as I’m writing, I’ll start at the beginning of the stack then methodically work my way through the end, using the index cards as a general guide/goal while I fill in the particulars as I write. (I don’t have to go in order, but my brain usually likes to work through things sequentially. Though if I feel the need to take the story in an unexpected direction, well, I would have never seen it coming because I didn’t plan for it.) Most of the scenes I’ve already come up with are ones that I can picture pretty well in my head, so really, the cards are just to help jog my memory and keep things in order.

Seems to be working, for the time being.

I’ll be tracking my progress by scenes, as I did with edits on TEROH. I find this works a lot better for me than tracking my word count. My brain doesn’t really grasp and hold onto numbers well, but it seems to understand scenes just fine. Besides that, I’m more motivated to complete a “scene” than I am churning out an arbitrary “number” of words. A scene, for me, is a complete thought; it may be open-ended or closed, but it stands pretty well on its own. A number is…well, just a number. I tend not to be emotionally moved or mentally stimulated by those (unless we’re talking big numbers that are leaving or coming into my bank account for some reason).

That may seem like a very minor distinction, but it’s actually made a huge difference in my ability to get stuff done. So yes, work on Revolutionary gets accomplished this year. (I don’t care if I ever find agent representation or not. This series is getting published regardless. In my mind, it’s already happening.)

Goal #3: Clean Up the House

As I’ve said before, sometimes I collect old furniture—mostly chairs—that I don’t really need.

My intentions were good. See, I’d planned to have them reupholstered so I could resell them for profit. Problem is I’d have to sell them at a fairly high price to the right kind of buyers, since I’m not doing the reupholstering myself, and there’s a lot more involved to do this legally than I originally figured. Long story short: this was supposed to be simple, turned out it wasn’t, I had my stint of being an entrepreneur before, and I really didn’t feel like doing it again. So…

Basically, I need to get rid of these chairs ’cause right now they’re just taking up space and giving my neighbor’s cat something to pounce around on. (The ones I haven’t already purchased fabrics for, anyway.) The good news is I’m pretty sure I can get more money for them than I originally bought them for. I just have to scrounge up enough energy to actually get rid of them. (Leos are known to be lazy when they aren’t actively “working” or on the hunt for something savory like fame or glory or food.)

Besides this, I’ve been meaning to finish painting the lower level of my house. The first half was a huge undertaking to do on my own, and now I’m like, “Mmm…yeah, I don’t really feel like doing that again.” Again, pure Leonine laziness.

Hey, just being honest!

Whilst at home in their luxurious caves, lions—mostly the males—like to lounge around and hibernate for lengthy periods of time. This thing called work? Nope, doesn’t belong in The Cave. Why do work if you’re not even at “work” and can hire someone to do it for you? That’s just an inefficient use of one’s “play” time. That is unless you decide to get some “work” done at night, when no one can really see you “working” and your conquests never see you coming. (Yes, that can happen sometimes.)

Oh, by the way: did I tell you my neighbor’s cat comes around to chill at my place regularly? He’s basically my cat without the label–’cause you know, he always comes back to me at the end of the day and he never spends too much time with anyone else. *snorts*

I’m happy; he’s happy. (That’s what the kids say these days.)

Goal #4: I Had One…and Then I Forgot

Yeah…let’s just stick with 3 goals. I’m already tired. (Kiiiiiding…)

I’m gonna go to a convention at least once and meet other writers and dieselpunks. There.

Say, what’s on your #goals list?


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