Sunday, January 5, 2020

The Year Behind and the Year Ahead

What’s behind me is not important!

Just kidding. I think what’s behind me does matter, which is why I like to review the year behind before setting goals for the year ahead.

Because this is the start of a new decade (yes, I know technically a decade is any ten year period, but you know what I mean) I thought it would be kind of cool to see what I was up to ten years ago, and I gotta tell you, I feel like I’ve kind of been back sliding.

For one thing, ten years ago I had three blogs going (two of which are now defunct) and I was posting to them several times a week, including serializing a couple of my novels. 2010 was also the year I switched novels 10,000 words and one week into NaNo and still managed to rock it.

While I think I’ve grown a lot as a writer, I think I was getting more actual writing done when I was working outside the home. It added structure to my day. There is a fitting quote out there (which of course I can’t find) about how it’s easier to add just one more thing to your work load when you have a million things to do than to find the motivation to get up in the morning when you have nothing to do. I think it kind of applies to my situation and I think it’s something I need to work on in the year ahead.

But enough of that. Let’s review the goals I set in 2019 and how I did with them.

1. Get Wandering Wizards finished and published - Fail
2. Do an anthology of short stories - Pass
3. Start sending out stories and poems to appropriate markets - Fail

Organizing and Indexing:
1. Set up a searchable database for my poetry; have only one hard copy and one electronic copy - Fail
2. Organize short fiction – keep only one copy and delete extras - made a start
3. Organize photos and delete doubles - Fail

1. Write a minimum of 30 minutes a day - Hahahaha Fail
2. Finish Wandering Wizards - Fail
3. Finish Shattered - Fail
4. Make a start on An Elemental Spirit - Pass

1. More reading, less mindless surfing/socializing/gaming - getting better
2. Spend time doing things away from the computer - Fail
3. Get back on the exercise band wagon - off and on

Well, it appears I didn’t do so hot on my goals last year. I got my anthology done, although it wasn’t what I had in mind, but I definitely didn’t send any stories out for publication.

I did make a start on trying to organize my story files, but only my story files and I really didn’t get that far with it. I have this fear of deletion which is why I still have a lot of hard copies as well as e-copies.

The writing thing was kind of feast or famine. I did get some work done on Wandering Wizards, but it’s not finished yet. Never gave Shattered a passing thought, but I did get a draft done of An Elemental Spirit.

It looks like 2019 wasn’t a stellar year. One can only hope that 2020 will be better.

As for my goals for the year ahead, I still haven’t come up with any yet, but I’ll post them as soon as I do.

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Happy New Year!

In case you haven’t figured it out, the holidays kind of got away from me this year. Normally this is where I’d do a recap on last year’s goals and share the goals for the year ahead, but I haven’t even given them a thought. This has become the holiday that never ends and I haven’t had time for anything except that.

Having the holidays smack in the middle of the week threw me right off and I feel like I spent a lot of my time scrambling to catch up. Of course I think a lot of that could have been poor planning on my part. I just couldn’t seem to get my head in the game.

The Christmas spirit seemed to be missing this year, at least as far as I was concerned. I got the tree up and decorated, the shopping was actually done ahead of time, although the cookies didn’t get baked until Christmas Eve, but I’m not even sure snow could have made a difference (we’re on day 12 of an above freezing but grey and dismal streak).

I guess part of it was everything was rush, rush, rush this year. I never seemed to be able to relax. There was always something to cook or clean or organize, but I have to admit a lot of it was pressure I was putting on myself.

If I’m honest, what really put me behind was the anthology – again, pressure I was putting on myself. I should have just let it go for another year, but I was like a dog with a bone.

I have holiday obligations right through the weekend, but I promise on Sunday I’ll do a combo post of the old year in review and the goals for the year ahead.

Happy New Year

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Happy Holidays

Yes, I know I threatened promised to share Christmas videos earlier, but I got caught up in the holiday rush and haven’t been on my computer much.

My all time favourite Christmas music is the Trans-Siberian Orchestra (just ask my daughter, she got married and moved out of the house just to avoid having to listen to it over and over and over again) so today I’m taking a minute to share some with you.

Hope you enjoy.

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Taking a Break

Whelp, the anthology came back from the printer and it was not what I asked for and it was a LOT more money than I thought it would be. If I do this next year, and I probably will (depending on how well it goes over this year) I will leave myself enough time to do up a chapbook of my own needing only the folding and trimming service offered by the print shop.

I hope my anthology debacle has not discouraged anyone else out there who might be thinking of doing the same. A lot of my problems stemmed from lack of planning and shortness of time, and from wanting to do everything myself.

Now that that’s over I should be able to get back to my regular writing life right? Wrong. Christmas is just 10 days away. I think we’ve pretty much finished the shopping, and I’ve got one of my out of town parcels in the mail. The tree is in place acclimatizing to the indoor temperature but there are no decorations on it as yet. And I haven’t even started the baking.

So. . . normally I take the week between Christmas and New Year’s off from blogging, this year I’m giving myself a break and starting early. Which means I’m not going to do a proper post here again until next year.

But if you like Christmas music, check back once in a while because I won’t be able to resist posting a few of my favourite Christmas songs.

Merry Christmas everyone! Have a happy holiday and a great beginning to a brand new year!

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Lessons Learned

The book flood anthology is, for all intents and purposes, done! Woohoo!

It’s not pretty, but it is what it is in the time I had. And in the process I learned several valuable lessons:

1. Pick a theme before picking your stories.
My theme was apparently “early stories that are out-dated and I didn’t know what else to do with them.” My stories run the gamut from comedy to morbid, and span a variety of genres. And when I came up short on stories I filled in the space with a few poems.
Also, I kept switching between all dark flash and all non-dark flash and all new stories to all old stories. Figure out what kind of stories you’re going to collect before you waste a lot of time editing the wrong story.

2. Give yourself lots of time – then add some.
I’ve been toying with the idea of an anthology for a while, but it wasn’t until I decided to use it for my book flood book that I started to get serious about it. I’m not sure exactly when this was, but I know I didn’t take into account the time suck NaNo would be.

3. Decide an approximate number of pages early.
It will help you figure out the size of your anthology and how many stories you’re going to need to work with.

4. Decide the binding ahead of time.
This kind of goes with number three because the number of pages will help determine the kind of binding you can go for. Just a few pages, you can have a chapbook, more and you’ll have to look for some other kind of binding.

5. Take it seriously.
I got caught up in the whole idea of an anthology and started working on it before I really thought it through. Then I kept changing my mind and waffling on the stories. If I’d been a little more serious about it I would have thought it through better and saved myself a lot of time and angst.

The anthology is a little stark looking, to my eye. It could have used a few flourishes like a more decorative font for the titles, maybe a graphic or two. Again, this is something I just didn’t have time for. And something to keep in mind for next time.

Ironically, I have an idea for next year’s NaNo and it’s a themed anthology. But trust me when I say I’ll be taking my time when it comes to publishing it.

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Busy as a Bee

This is going to be another one of those good news/bad news posts. The good news is that it’s been a week since NaNo ended and I’m still spending a lot of my daytime hours in my office, the bad news is that I don’t feel like I’m getting a whole lot accomplished.

I’ve been struggling a lot with the anthology and I have to say it’s been kicking my butt. A couple of the stories had to be re-typed (because they pre-dated me owning a computer), and many of the others have formatting issues. Specifically, they have straight quotation marks instead of curly marks.

Now, I had to deal with this once before and it was a fairly easy fix. But I don’t know if it’s because my version Word is so out of date or if it’s a Windows 10 thing, but I cannot get them change in bulk. I Googled a couple of different ways – neither of them worked. I even tried to use find/replace using the character map for my curly quotes. It didn’t work either.

This means I have to replace them one by one – including the apostrophes. Do you know how time consuming that is? With some of the shorter stories it’s almost quicker if I just retype the darn things.

Meanwhile, the clock is ticking down. I need to get this anthology done like yesterday for the ones that need to be mailed. I have 10 stories finalized, but four of the stories are long, older ones which got me to thinking I should only use old stories and make it a chap book, maybe throw in a few poems just to make it interesting.

It doesn’t help that I keep waffling on the format as well. Chapbook, spiral bound, perfect binding – I guess it will all depend on how long it is.

Goal For the Week


This will be me this week:

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Back to Truckin' Along

NaNoWriMo hasn’t even been over a week yet and I’m back to my same old habits – namely, almost being late with my blog post.

But as excuses go, the why for this one is a pretty good one. I got caught up editing a short story for the anthology last night and forgot all about the blog post. So now the race is on to see if I can get the post finished before I have to leave for my MRI this morning (to figure out the reason for the headaches I’m no longer getting).

The good news is, I’ve kept the habit of working in my office during the day. And I haven’t even tried to use the excuse that my office could use a good cleaning, I’ve been getting actual work done.

Mostly what I’ve been working on is the book flood anthology (the one I want to make for friends and family for this year’s book flood). One of the stories I wanted to include was the very first story I ever wrote, and I had to re-type it because I did not have an electronic version. The story I got bogged down editing last night was (I think) the second one I ever wrote.

Because they were written so long ago they’re a little dated and while it’s tempting to give them a quick nudge into more modern times, I think that would take away from their charm so I’m leaving them alone. It’s interesting that they both have small town settings, but they’re totally different tales.

I didn’t set any goals for myself on Sunday, so I can’t really report on that. Usually the month right after NaNo is a dry spell for writing and I use it to figure out my game plan for the following year. This year I'm still doing that, but I'm also continuing to work.

I’m focusing on the anthology rather than Wandering Wizards for now, so I don’t have an excerpt from that today, but I do have one last one from Spirit. This is from near the beginning when Nakeisha (an Elemental Wind) is starting to have questions.

Taja looked at her sister. “What is it?”

“This prophecy business bothers me, it always has.” Nakeisha set her cup down. Rising, she went over to look out the view port at the stars streaming by before turning back to her sister. Her hands slid automatically into the opposite cuffs at the end of the sleeves in her robe in the position Chaney dubbed “the wise ambassador” pose.

“Before I learned to control my winds, when I was with Chaney and the Burning Star down on Anchyre, the Illezie tested me for my elemental power.”

“You never told me that before!”

“You never wished to develop your own gift so it never seemed relevant,” she said with a slight shrug. “It was something they did only to the elementals who showed a measure of strength in their gifts.”

Taja had set her cup aside and was listening intently. “Why would they do this?”

“At the time I was told they were seeking “the one,” although the one what I had no idea. All I knew was that I was found somewhat lacking, and I had the sense they were somewhat bewildered by this.”

“Fancy that, the great, all-knowing Illezie perplexed by something.” Taja digested what her sister had told her for a moment.

“When we were on Sikka, both Rayne and Pyre were tested, and it was discovered for the first time that different elementals could combine their gifts into something more.”

“Yes,” Taja said dryly. “And look what it got us. That half-sentient beam of elemental energy loose in the galaxy.”

The energy came from the attempt to stop a volcano from wrecking havoc on Sikka. While Nakeisha used her wind and Rayne used her control of the storms to try and contain the flow of lava, Pyre pulled the heat and energy from the volcano into himself. Unable to control it or release the energy back to its source, he sent it into space.

“And were it not for that beam of energy we might never have found Chloe, or Gra’anna,” Nakeisha pointed out. “Gra’anna, who believes they were wrong for all those centuries. It was not “one” the Illezie were looking for, but “five who are one.” But it still begs the question, why? And what role do these five play in the prophecy?”

“Five who are one,” Taja repeated thoughtfully. She straightened up in her seat suddenly. “Five who are one! There is something else that beam is responsible for, it also brought us Pyre, and Ravi, and Chloe – three of the most powerful elementals ever known – and when you add yourself into the mix, it’s four.”

“You are correct,” Nakeisha said without a trace of modesty.

“But it still doesn’t answer the question, who is the fifth?”

“I have asked Chaney that very same question, but it is a question without an answer.” But she felt a measure of reassurance that she was not the only one who was questioning the Illezie and their prophecy.