From down this low it’s only up we go

“Everyone here is ready to go. It’s been a hard year with nothing to show. From down this road, it’s only on we go, on we go. Everyone here is ready to go. It’s been a hard year and I only know from down this low it’s only up we go, up we go.” — Lights, Midnight Machines

Last year was a hard year for a lot of us. Read my previous post to find out the challenges I faced in 2016. But 2017 is going to rock! I’m gonna make it rock. Even if I have to drag it kicking and screaming I’m going to make 2017 my year.

My husband and I are moving to a new place. It’s smaller but we won’t have a roommate. We’re decluttering and downsizing. We’re getting rid of negativity and embracing change. It’s stressful and a lot of work but it’s worth it!

For the past few years, I’ve yearned to become a full-time writer. To shed the daily commute and the cubicle. It will come one day but not for a few more years. I’ve decided to focus on building my non-writing career so I can support my family and my writing. Weekend mornings will continue to be dedicated to weaving stories and building my author platform.

What am I focusing on this year? Here are my writing goals for 2017.

1. Write short stories.

Last year, when my first novel was with my editor I decided to write a short story. It was a rewrite of a script I wrote for my theatre course years ago. I decided I wanted to turn it into a short story. I changed it to 1st person and added a new character. It’s currently with my writing buddy for a second review and I want to finish it by the beginning of spring.

My writing buddy suggested I write more short stories. I started working on a second short story in December and the first draft is in progress. I plan to work on three more after this one — one each quarter.

2. Work on my Hawkins-Flynn Mystery series

I’d like to send novel 1 back to my editor for another review. But this is dependent on if I can get the funds together. In the meantime, when I’m not working on short stories, I’ll be working on draft 1 of novel 2 in the series.

3. Improve my online presence

I’m not great at maintaining a consistent presence online and I want to work on that this year. I want to be more active on Twitter and my blog by posting to both on a regular basis.

4. Publish my stories

I’m not going to aim to publish novel 1 this year. If I’m able to great, but it’s not the focus. I want the novel polished. And I don’t want to rush it or feel bad for not getting it done. Instead, I want to submit my short stories to writing contests and/or literary journals. There’s a chance they’ll be chosen and published. If not, I can look into publishing a book of my short stories.

Have you set your goals for 2017? What are you focusing on this year?

Saying goodbye to 2016

2016 was not a great year for me. Chaos reigned and I experienced disappointment after disappointment. But I made it through and I couldn’t be happier that it’s coming to a close.

Disappointments

1. Round 2 of editing was frustrating. Some of the feedback was good but some of it took me in a direction I didn’t want to go. I also misinterpreted some of the feedback in round 1, removing a lot of backstory. Based on round 2 feedback, I added most of it back in.

2. I’m not as far in the publishing process as I wanted to be. The novel is in better shape but I was hoping to send it for another edit. It didn’t happen. And now the novel is on hold until the summer when I can pull together the funds for more editing.

3. I didn’t do well with social media. I spent a good part of the year ignoring my blog and Facebook page. I just couldn’t focus on it. I didn’t do too well on Twitter either. I’m struggling with my author brand and what I want to say.

4. I missed submitting to a contest I was interested in. I worked on one short story I was hoping to finish in time to submit to a short story contest. But I stalled part way through and couldn’t get the ideas flowing for it. I shelved it for now.

Successes

1. I found a new editor. She was able to go through my story and provide a lot of great feedback. I finished revising the manuscript and it’s ready to go back for another round. I’m going through a lot of editing for this first novel but it’s helping me improve my writing. I know I won’t need quite as much with the second and third novels.

2. I found a writing buddy. One of my colleagues at work heard that I was writing and asked to be writing buddies. This has been working out great and we’re continuing with it in 2017.

3. I got draft 2 of my first short story done. It’s with my writing buddy for review and feedback in January. She’s encouraging me to write more short stories. Not only will it improve my writing but I’ll have stories to submit to contests and journals. When I’m done editing my novel, I plan to set up a new website. I’d like to use a short story or two to entice people to sign up.

4. I joined a writing group and a monthly chat. So far it’s going great and I expect both will help me a lot in 2017.

How has 2016 treated you? Was it better or worse than you thought?

Daylight savings, self-care, and writing

Daylight Savings ended last weekend and I’m still having issues adjusting. It’s thrown my entire week off; a week that was hard enough to get through without that added time adjustment. I still wonder what’s the point of having Daylight Savings at all when things are thrown into chaos twice a year. Is it really worth it? Some years, I can’t help but wonder.

Self-care is important but I have to admit I’m not good at it. I tend to push myself until my body has had enough and insists I slow down. However, I took a few weekends off recently to sleep in, relax, and play Skyrim. I’m obsessed with that video game now. We got the remastered version for the Xbox One and I’ve sunk so much time into playing. I’m enjoying it immensely and I have a new distraction that helps me relax.

After a brief time off I’m back to my writing routine on the weekend. The novel is coming along. I’m working my way through all the edits, and hope to have it finished in a few weeks. Unfortunately, I’ll need to put it aside for a bit while I pull funds together for another round of edits. On the upside, I’ll be able to focus time on my short story and my second novel.

Writing Update

We’re three-quarters of the way through 2016 and the holiday season is only 2 months away. Scary!

This year has been crazy busy with vet appointments, get-togethers with family and friends, errands, and crocheting. My writing life has been equally busy with writing and revising my manuscript, writing a short story, researching self-publishing and reading.

The more I research, the more I realize that if I want to turn my writing into a career I need to start treating it like one. And spending four hours two days a week clearly isn’t enough. So a new plan is in order.

While I’m figuring that out, let’s take a look at where I am with the writing goals I set at the beginning of the year.

1. Publish my mystery novel

Okay, so this one isn’t happening this year. I sent the manuscript out for a second edit, then decided I needed another set of eyes to take a look. So it went out for a third edit and now I’m working on those revisions. A fourth round is required. It’s going to take me a bit to get through those edits. The book needs quite a bit of polishing before I’ll be happy with it. It means waiting longer to publish it, but the end product will be a great book that readers will enjoy. I’ll also be able to save up more money for editing and for the cover design. Plus I’ll be able to learn from the editing for this book to create a more polished book 2 draft for editing.

2. Focus on other types of writing such as flash fiction, short stories, freelancing etc. by working on at least two projects.

I wrote the first draft of a short story. I’m going for a similar feel as the novel. I need to flush out the background and setting more but it’s a great start.

Last week, I started another short story. If I can get this one done in a month and a half, I’m going to submit it to a short story contest. Keep your fingers crossed!

 

Blank Pages

The blank pages haunt me. They chase me through the maze, chanting over and over, “you’ll never fill us. We’ll be blank forever.”

Laughter echoes around me. I reach a dead end. There’s no time to turn back and find another way. I hear the rustling encroach. Shadows dance off the walls. My heart hammers.

“You’ll never fill us. We’ll be blank forever.”

I scramble into the corner, knees pulled to my chest and hands over my head. My face is wet.

The laughter grows louder. The rustling draws nearer. A soft melody drifts in.

I bolt awake, cheek wet from drool, piece of paper stuck to my face. The cursor on the monitor blinks at me. The electronic page is blank. A cool breeze escapes through the window and rustles the pages of a paperback novel.

My playlist displays a new song playing. I gulp cold tea and lower my fingers to the keyboard.

Book Review: Mario Coming of Age

Mario Coming of Age, by George Hatcher, follows a young man, Mario, growing up in East Los Angeles with his aunt in the 1960s. She works hard to provide a good life for her nephew and he does his best to stay in school and away from the gangs.

When Mario finds out his aunt can’t afford their apartment anymore, he decides it’s time to become a man and take care of his aunt. At 10 years old, he finds a job and learns he has a talent that could help people and make him a lot of money.

Hatcher weaves an intriguing tale of loyalty, love and betrayal, as we follow Mario through his struggles and successes, balancing expectations, school, work and friends. And while I thought there could be more to the story, I enjoyed it and look forward to reading more from Hatcher.