Tag: goals

Fall 2017 goal review

Mr. McNutterpants, from my short story “A Lesser Man” on Medium

Every 3 months or so, I take a look at the goals I’ve set for the year and then write about how little progress I’m making on them. Here’s the update for this fall.

1. Finish something every month – short story, novella, novel, anything.

I have several chapters done on a novel, and I’ve finished a couple shorts. I’m hoping NaNoWriMo will spur me into action next month.

2. Publish at least 4 things – again, short story, novella, novel, anything. Either with my publisher or self-published or in a magazine, doesn’t matter where.

I’ve started posting stuff on Medium. Three things are up so far – two are stories that have been published elsewhere, and one’s a new story, “A Lesser Man,” that’s pretty damn hilarious. You should read it.

3. Finish the draft of a nonfiction book that’s good for my career.

My academic timeline is about a semester behind where I want to be. But, most importantly, I passed my comprehensive exam and am now officially a PhD candidate! All I have left is my dissertation (and several classes for a master’s I just tacked on), which is my focus right now. My timeline right now is to have my proposal mostly done by Christmas break, so I can still theoretically crank out this nonfiction book over break.

4. Do more live events – readings, book fairs, etc. Again, it’s about getting my name out there.

As I mentioned last time, events are turning into a major waste of time. I’m doing a solo reading tonight, and then I’m done with live events for awhile unless they have a proven track record for women’s fiction book sales.

5. Travel more internationally – and Canada doesn’t count.

Sadly, this isn’t happening – this year. I’m headed to India for 2 weeks in January and Thailand with my kid for a month next summer – but for the rest of this year, it looks like I’ll be staying more domestic, with upcoming trips to Boston in November and hopefully Duluth in December (weather-dependent).

Sadly, now that I’m working again I have money to travel but no time for it.

6. Read 100 books.

I’m at 52 right now – 25 behind schedule. I don’t think I’ll be able to make this goal this year, but I should be able to get closer once a couple approaching academic deadlines pass and I have time to read again.

Overall

I think I’m in denial about achieving my goals. I’m going to keep trying, but it seems there’s a lot popping up that’s taking up my time (unexpected overtime at work due to kiddos in crisis, opportunities for academic projects that I don’t want to pass up, etc). Things are settling down, I hope, so I should be able to focus on writing more.

If you’ve set goals for yourself, how’re they going so far this year?

Summer 2017 goal review

Every 3 months or so, I take a look at the goals I’ve set for the year and then write about how little progress I’m making on them. Here’s the update for this summer.

1. Finish something every month – short story, novella, novel, anything.

I’ve finished several chapters of a novel, plus a short story. So, about halfway there.

2. Publish at least 4 things – again, short story, novella, novel, anything. Either with my publisher or self-published or in a magazine, doesn’t matter where.

I’m two behind now on this.

3. Finish the draft of a nonfiction book that’s good for my career.

My academic timeline was pushed back a couple months, but I’m still planning on writing this book this fall.

4. Do more live events – readings, book fairs, etc. Again, it’s about getting my name out there.

This will never be a goal again because live events, at least the ones around here, are a waste of time. The only people who came to the last event were friends and family of the writers. And as much as I appreciate my grandma stopping by to say hi, she can buy books from me any time. That said, I’m doing a presentation in a couple weeks at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop (okay, so not THE Iowa Writer’s Workshop, just a writing workshop at the University of Iowa, but whatever) that may be interesting. Then a couple local-ish events in August, a reading in October, and nothing else unless it’s free to participate and I don’t have anything else going on.

5. Travel more internationally – and Canada doesn’t count.

A research assistantship position ended this spring, so I recently got a part-time job as a youth residential counselor. While I’m enjoying it so far, it doesn’t leave much time for travel. I went to Michigan a couple times in June, and I’m heading to the Pacific Northwest and Canadian Rockies in a couple weeks. No international travel other than Canada, though.

However, I did book tickets just this week to go back to India in January! I’m taking my kid with me, and we’re hitting the Taj Mahal before heading south to work on a project. I’m super excited about this trip.

6. Read 100 books.

I’m at 43 right now – 7 behind schedule. I caught up a bit earlier this summer, but I’m falling behind again. Still, I think I can still catch up and make this goal this year.

Overall

I’m still in the game. This past semester kicked my butt, and while I’m pretty much recovered, my new job is consuming a lot of my time – plus (fingers crossed!) I’ll be starting my dissertation in the next couple weeks. It doesn’t leave a lot of time for writing, but on the plus side, my new job has given me a lot of story ideas that I really need to write to help me process working with this particular population. Overall, I’m cautiously optimistic that I’ll come pretty close to meeting my goals this year.

If you’ve set goals for yourself, how’re they going so far this year?

A high mileage odometer is a badge of honor

I like to travel. A lot. And seeing as how I’m kinda poor, being a grad student and all, most of my domestic travel is by car.

That’s why I’m happy to report this milestone I hit this week:

250k miles!

Yep, that’s right – I hit 250,000 miles on my car!

It had about 130,000 when I got it in the spring of 2012, so that’s 120,000 miles in 5 years – an average of 24,000 miles per year.

A lot of it, of course, is due to commuting to my university, driving 125 miles roundtrip 2-4 times a week for the past couple years. But it’s also a couple trips to Canada every year, and California, and the East Coast, and everywhere in between. So far in 2017, for example, I’ve gone to India, San Diego (flying, not driving though), Georgia and the Carolinas, and Michigan – twice. That’s a lot of miles. 🙂

timeline map

Google has a cool feature that plots your adventures on a timeline, and here’s what my US/Canada trips look like, starting in August 2013 (so excluding a roadtrip to New Orleans I took in March 2012). This summer, depending on my work schedule, I’m also heading to the Pacific Northwest and taking several small trips around the Midwest. And I’d love to get down to Mississippi to research the sequel to my novel Yours to Keep or Throw Aside (spoilers: it involves Aida in Andrew’s hometown). No matter where I end up going, though, I’m looking forward to adding more dots!

How’s your odometer looking? Any memorable trips you’ve taken or cool dots you’ve earned?

Spring 2017 goal review

sand castle

Much needed self-care at Coronado Beach, CA

Every 3 months or so, I take a look at the goals I’ve set for the year and then write about how little progress I’m making on them. Here’s the update for this spring.

1. Finish something every month – short story, novella, novel, anything.

If you count chapters, I’ve almost done this! I finished the first two chapters of a novel I’ll really excited about, tentatively titled Waylaid on the Road to Nowhere.

2. Publish at least 4 things – again, short story, novella, novel, anything. Either with my publisher or self-published or in a magazine, doesn’t matter where.

I’m not there yet, but I have several longer short stories that are in the pipeline, and I hope to have at least one done by May for an event I’m doing.

3. Finish the draft of a nonfiction book that’s good for my career.

I have to take a dissertation class next fall but since my dissertation proposal will (fingers crossed!) be done by then, I plan to work on a draft of a research how-to book for the course instead. Don’t expect updates on this for awhile.

4. Do more live events – readings, book fairs, etc. Again, it’s about getting my name out there.

I’m on fire here! Kind of. I’m signed up for the Rock Town Lit Fest in early May, the I.O.W.A. book fair in August, and a Read Local event in October. I’ll try to add more events as I hear about them.

5. Travel more internationally – and Canada doesn’t count.

Due to some stupid international relations stuff, I’m not sure how feasible this’ll be. I’m in the planning stages for a trip back to India around Christmas. I was in San Diego a couple weeks ago and wanted to hop the border to Tijuana, but we didn’t have enough time – although if Canada doesn’t count (I’m planning a trip to Banff over the summer), then maybe Mexico doesn’t count either?

At the very least, I’ve been able to travel a lot recently. Three weeks in India at the beginning of the year, a road trip to Savannah and Raleigh-Durham over spring break, and a week-long conference in San Diego. That comes out to a trip a month, so I’m doing pretty good.

6. Read 100 books.

So far, I’ve read 21 books this year, which leaves me only 4 behind schedule. I had a lot of time to read in India (I’m not looking forward to the ereader ban on flights through Abu Dhabi or Doha, the two airports I’ve flown through in the past – what else do you do on a 28-hour trip??), plus I’ve been sneaking in books as a break from my overwhelming schedule this semester.

Overall

I’m actually in a good place regarding my year’s goals. Part of it, I think, is because I’m so busy, not in spite of it. When I don’t have projects and deadlines, I tend to procrastinate, but when I have to be careful about my time management, I get more done.

If you’ve set goals for yourself, how’re they going so far this year?

Resolutions: 2016 review and 2017 goals

new years mandela

Kolam near my hotel in Puducherry, India

Every year I set goals and then periodically update the world on how I’m not meeting them. Here’s the latest year in review.

1. Write at least 30 minutes a day.

Did not happen – at least not on fiction stuff. This year was crazy busy with school stuff that I wrote on instead.

2. Finish something every month.

Nope. But I did at least start something every month. Now, if only I had time to write every day, maybe I’d finish them.

3. Publish at least 4 of those finished things.

I published “A Place to Die” in January. It’s available for $.99 at Amazon or free if you join my mailing list. And I had a short story, “Three Casseroles, Two More Cookies, and a Pile of Uncles on the Floor,” published in a local holiday anthology. I’m close on some other stuff, but school stuff popped up – comps, research projects, classes, etc.

4. Continue the focus on increased marketing.

Overall this year, I focused a lot on marketing: ads, promos, giveaways, etc. Unfortunately, I can’t say that it’s worked very well. True, I lakh-tupled my newsletter subscribers, but that’s not converting to reviews or sales. I’ll be reevaluating this for 2017 because I can’t afford to keep throwing away money on approaches that don’t work.

5. Read 100 books.

I read 73 – by which I mean I finished them completely; I didn’t count books I started but gave up on. This also doesn’t include books I read for classes.

6. Continue the focus on being healthy.

I joined a gym in November – and have made it twice, due to a very busy end of the semester (I think I pulled more all-nighters this semester than I have in the rest of my life combined). My diet also wasn’t the best towards the end – again, no time to cook so I ate a lot of meals out that weren’t the healthiest.

Overall in 2016

Overall, I failed at my goals. Every one of them. BUT I’m doing awesome academically and am on pace to get my PhD in 3 years instead of 4. I’m focusing a lot on building my career-focused CV, which doesn’t leave much time for much else. However, I seem to be more productive the busier I am, so I should have better time management in 2017 and thus actually meet some of my goals!

Speaking of which…

2017 goals

  1. Finish something every month – short story, novella, novel, anything.
  2. Publish at least 4 things – again, short story, novella, novel, anything. Either with my publisher or self-published or in a magazine, doesn’t matter where.
  3. Finish the draft of a nonfiction book that’s good for my career.
  4. Do more live events – readings, book fairs, etc. Again, it’s about getting my name out there.
  5. Travel more internationally – and Canada doesn’t count.
  6. Read 100 books.

What are your goals for 2017?

Fall 2016 goal review

After All cover

Hey look, a shiny new project!

Every 3 months or so, I take a look at the goals I’ve set for the year and then write about how I’m not making progress on them. Here’s the update for this fall.

1. Write at least 30 minutes a day.

I’ve been averaging about 30 minutes per week, not per day – unless you count writing for school stuff, in which case I’m hitting my goal. But we’re not counting that, so I’m not doing so well at this goal.

2. Finish something every month.

I would probably do a lot better at finishing something if I’d stop starting new things. I have at least 50 stories started at this point – if I could just sit down and write, I could probably finish some of them.

3. Publish at least 4 of those finished things.

So far, all I’ve published this year is “A Place to Die” in January (which you can get for $.99 at Amazon or free if you join my mailing list). I have several things mostly done, just gotta sit down and write and I could probably still meet this goal for this year.

4. Continue the focus on increased marketing.

I’ve fallen behind on this lately, but my publisher will be running Amazon ads soon so that should give me a boost. And as soon as I have something new published, I’ll be promoting that like crazy.

5. Read 100 books.

I’m currently at 58, which Goodreads informs me is 18 behind. I’m holding pretty steady on this one.

6. Continue the focus on being healthy.

I discovered the cambus (campus bus) at school, so I’ve been taking that instead of riding my bike. But I also discovered a really nice local farmers’ market and have been buying a lot of fruits and veggies, so there’s that. Which will win out? Stay tuned!

Overall

Basically, it comes down to one thing – making myself sit down and write. Fortunately I’ve taken on a bunch of new projects this year, plus gotten permission to take my comprehensive exams a semester yearly so I can start on my dissertation in the spring and graduate a year early. The way my mind works is that the more I have to do, the more I want to work on other stuff (ie, writing). So I should be writing a lot coming up, instead of doing what I need to for school.

(This TED talk is a great look at my life.)

If you’ve set goals for yourself, how’re they going so far this year?

Summer 2016 goal review

Spice Pirates cover

Maybe I should spend less time making covers and more time writing.

I’m going to be wandering the country next week (2016 big roadtrip #3!!), so I thought I’d do my quarterly review a little early this time.

1. Write at least 30 minutes a day.

I’ve been writing a bit here and there, but it seems like there’s always another, more pressing project to work on instead. I’m going to try writing for 30 minutes every morning when I wake up, so that even if I don’t get a chance to write something later, I’ll have hit my goal. We’ll see how that works.

2. Finish something every month.

I wrote a short story for a contest, “Special,” about post-apocalyptic people living in caves. And I just finished a chapter of one of my novels-in-progress, tentatively titled Waylaid on the Road to Nowhere. Including “A Place to Die” in January, that’s 3 things out of the 6 I should have by this point.

3. Publish at least 4 of those finished things.

I published “A Place to Die” in January. It’s available for $.99 at Amazon or free if you join my mailing list. I’m now two stories behind.

4. Continue the focus on increased marketing.

I’ve been experimenting with Facebook ads. While I get great engagement for the money spent, it’s not translating to sales. I just participated in an Evolved Publishing day at Instafreebie which resulted in a ton of signups for my newsletter, but I’m not sure if the people who signed up will either open my next newsletter or buy my other stuff.

I’m doing a multi-author book fair in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, in a couple weeks that I’m hoping will get me some attention and sales.

5. Read 100 books.

I’ve read 35 books so far this year, which Goodreads tells me is 14 behind. But there’s a good chance I won’t have internet for part of my trip next week, so I’m hoping to catch up.

6. Continue the focus on being healthy.

I got a couple kayaks for my graduation present to myself, and I’ve been trying to either ride my bike 10+ miles or kayak at least a couple times a week. I’ve cut most processed food from my diet, eating a lot of veggies and protein. I think if I could just cut Pepsi from my diet, I’d be doing pretty well – too bad I need the caffeine to function.

Overall

Like always, I’ve been overly optimistic about how much free time I’ll have to work on everything (writing, marketing, school, research projects, etc). And like always, my time management skills aren’t what they should be. So I’ll end with an optimistic promise to catch up, and we’ll all have a good laugh in October about this.

If you’ve set goals for yourself, how’re they going so far this year?

Spring 2016 goal review

It’s that time already – another look at how I’m failing to meet all the goals I set for myself for the year and a bunch of lame excuses for why I’m not doing well on the writing front.

1. Write at least 30 minutes a day.

I wrote for at least 30 minutes for about half the days in January, none of the days in February, and a handful in March. Excuse: grad school – papers, internship, and TAing 2 sections of a class.

a place to die cover2. Finish something every month.

I finished “A Place to Die” in early January. Since then, nothing. See excuse from above. I’m close on several things, which I hope to finish soon.

3. Publish at least 4 of those finished things.

I published “A Place to Die.” It’s available for $.99 at Amazon or free if you join my mailing list. In addition to being probably my favorite story I’ve written, it’s getting great reviews. I’m going to try to have another short story, “Spice Pirates,” out in the next week or so – just in time for a big sale of my novel Yours to Keep or Throw Aside (formerly The Lone Wolf).

4. Continue the focus on increased marketing.

I’ve been trying to blog more often and post more frequently on Facebook and Twitter. So far, my engagement has gone up but not sales. I tried a lot of stuff last year that didn’t work, so I’m taking a more cautious (ie, free) approach this year.

5. Read 100 books.

I’ve read 26 books so far this year, which Goodreads tells me is “on track.”

sandworms

Sandworm infestation I found while biking through my neighborhood

6. Continue the focus on being healthy.

Now that the weather’s warming up, I’ve been riding my bike more, including taking it to campus with me. I’ve also been trying out a bunch of Asian recipes focusing mostly on vegetables, which I’ll claim are healthier.

Overall

Overall, I’m not that far behind (yet). I only have about 5 weeks left of school and my internship. My summer is shaping up to be pretty low-key – several research projects, maybe a few weeks teaching summer school – and lots of free time. Of course, I tend to waste my free time, so I’ll have to make an effort to focus on writing. Guess we’ll see how I’ll do at my next check-in in July.

If you’ve set goals for yourself, how’re they going so far this year?

Resolutions: 2015 review and 2016 goals

Every year I set goals for myself and periodically evaluate them. Here are 2015’s:

1. Write and submit at least one new short story every month, with the goal being at least 10 publications this year.

Did not happen. At all. I didn’t complete a single short story all year, let alone submit one.

2. Write the rough drafts for a seven-part novella series, and maybe even publish one or two of them.

Book one is half done. The rest are in various stages of plotting – but the overall series is progressing.

3. Have at least one novel published, with another one polished enough to publish in 2016.

Didn’t happen. My next one, A Handful of Wishes, needs serious revisions.

4. Publish at least two long short stories (10k+) or short story collections.

Almost. I have one more pass of edits before I hit publish on “A Place to Die.”

5. Improve my marketing strategy in order to increase my fanbase (as measured by newsletter subscription, Facebook page likes, and social media interactions like comments, likes, and favorites), sales, and reviews.

Partly. I doubled my newsletter subscriptions. I also did a lot more promos this year (Facebook and book list ads, author events), but it didn’t have much of an effect on sales. And social media interactions didn’t really increase either. But I did get a bunch of reviews.

6. Read 100 books.

I read 62.

7. Get healthier: cut out my daily breakfast Pepsi (not sure how the lack of caffeine will work when I generally only get 4-5 hours of sleep) and eventually almost all soda; go out to eat once a week or less; eat more fruits and veggies and less processed, sodium-drenched foods; use the gym membership I’m paying for; ride my bike to work when it warms up; etc.

I did this for awhile, but then backslid when I started my internship this fall. However, I lost 15 lbs this year and haven’t gained it back yet, so that’s something.

Overall, I sucked when it came to writing new stuff in 2015.

Part of the problem is that I have horrible time management skills. I tend to procrastinate then cram at the last minute (studying, writing papers, reading journal articles, etc). But the thing is, it works. For the past couple years of grad school, focusing on the immediate next project, rather than planning ahead, resulted in A’s. I have very little incentive to not procrastinate.

Also, I had a lot of free time this fall. Yeah, I was taking 3 classes and doing an internship and teaching a class, but compare that to 5 classes while working full time. I’ve found that I work better under pressure; when I have free time, I tend to waste it on activities that help me unwind (for example, funny cat videos) but don’t do anything for meeting my goals.

So for 2015, knowing that, I’m going to focus on using my time more wisely. Here are my goals:

  1. Write at least 30 minutes a day, which I’ll track through 750words.com.
  2. Finish something every month, whether it’s a short story, series novella, novel, or whatever.
  3. Publish at least 4 of those finished things – ideally, something every 3 months.
  4. Continue the focus on increased marketing, same as last year: increase my fanbase (as measured by newsletter subscription, Facebook page likes, and social media interactions like comments, likes, and favorites), sales, and reviews.
  5. Read 100 books.
  6. Continue the focus on being healthy – riding my bike more, cutting back on the meals out, eating a more balanced diet, etc.

What are your goals for 2016?

2015 book roundup

goodreads 2015One of my goals for 2015 was to read 100 books. I read 62 – more than last year’s 56, but still not there. My son is getting into longer chapter books, so I included some of those this year (I didn’t last year). I didn’t include textbooks or journals that I read for school.

This list only includes books I finished. There are dozens that I started but didn’t finish (often not even the first chapter) either because they were poorly edited or didn’t hold my interest.

Here’s a breakdown of what I read:

  • 2 (3%) were either kids or young adult; the rest were adult.
  • 3 (5%) were nonfiction and the rest were fiction.
  • 14 (23%) were single short stories (yes, I realize it’s cheating to include those), and 10 (16%) were short story anthologies.
  • I know the authors of 29 (47%) of the books; 7 of the authors (9 of the books or 15%) of them are also with my publisher, Evolved.
  • 6 (10%) were in a series. I tend to binge read those. A couple more were also in a series but the other books haven’t been released yet (or hadn’t been after I read the first one and I didn’t track the next ones down later).
  • 5 (8%) came from Buzzfeed’s list of 32 Books That Will Actually Change Your Life, which I started in 2014. These were some of the best books I read this year.
  • 15 (24%) were books I’d downloaded at some point (probably free) and found on my Kindle; another 13 (21%) were books that randomly caught my eye, something I’d wanted to read for awhile, or were based on a movie I watched. All the rest (55%) were either recommended or written by someone I know or follow online.

Best books I read in 2015:

If you challenged yourself to read a set number of books in 2015, how did you end up doing?  What were your favorites?  Anything you particularly disliked?

The Musings of E.D. Martin © 2011-2017 Privacy Policy Frontier Theme