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Tag: road tripping

Annual goals: 2021 review and 2022 goals

Wow, I am really late with this.

Every year, I set goals for myself. And every year, I look back at how I didn’t meet those goals.

This year is no exception.

About a year and a half ago, I started a new job, as an overnight admissions social worker at a local psych hospital. I really enjoy it; not only is it a second shift job in my field, I like my coworkers, the pay is awesome, and it’s only 3 12-hour shifts a week with no weekends (although we’re short-staffed so I usually work 4 shifts). Theoretically I have an extra 1-2 days a week to myself, although that usually doesn’t happen because I’m sleeping or spending the weekend days with my kid.

So with all that in mind, let’s look at my 2021 goals and how I did with them.

2021 goals

  1. Continue to publish and promote my Heartsbane Saga series. This really fell off. I don’t think I actually got any more of them published this year. And while I did work on edits and rewrites for the first half of the year, that fell off too when I consistently started working 50+ hours a week in midsummer. And, quite honestly, the response to the series has been super underwhelming, so I’m not as gung-ho to get published quickly like I was this time a year ago.
  2. Publish something at least twice a week. I did decently with this for the first half of the year, until again, I got caught up with work over the summer.
  3. Marketing. I’ve consistently been running Amazon ads, and they’ve been good for some movement. I didn’t get around to a blog tour because I was waiting until I had a couple more books out. I have several in mind though, so maybe I’ll get to it later this year.
  4. Painting of Renaissance peasant woman holding a dog and shrugging as if to say WTF

    Possibly my favorite painting at the Met.

    Travel travel travel. This is one goal that I did overwhelmingly meet! In February I went to Dodge City, Kansas, because I liked watching Gunsmoke with my dad and because I wanted to spend more time in Wichita, where I found an awesome German restaurant, Prost. In March my kid and I spent a weekend in Chicago; usually we just go for a day, but this time we stayed overnight downtown and had some awesome arepas (which are his favorite thing this year). In April we went to Detroit, mostly to eat at Al Saha, my favorite Middle Eastern restaurant there, as well as Cadieux Cafe, a yummy Belgian restaurant, but we also went to a Korean barbecue place that was awesome. Memorial Day weekend we went to the Black Hills of South Dakota and hiked around the Badlands and Custer state park. In June, I vanlifed in Bemidji, Minnesota (home of delicious pasties), but it was too hot so I wandered over to Devils Lake, North Dakota. In July we went back to Wichita to hit up Prost, then over to Oklahoma City to get some goat sausage at the farmer’s market (yes, it really is worth the trip). In early August I vanlifed at Spirit Lake, Iowa, and also hit up the National Hobo Museum where I found my tribe. Then my mom, kid, and I spent a week in Hawaii, kayaking and hiking and of course eating our way across Oahu. I’d planned to vanlife up in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan in October but canceled due to bad whether. My kid and I went back to New York City for his birthday in November – in addition to good food, we caught Stomp again (five years to the day from when we saw it previously). Then in December we went down to New Orleans for a long weekend of shrimp po’ boys, jambalaya, and gumbo, before hitting up a couple barbecue places in Memphis, Tennessee, on our way back. And then right after Christmas, my dad, son, and I spent a week down in the Everglades and Florida Keys and Dry Tortugas, kayaking and hiking and eating great Latino food like pupusas and baleadas and ropa vieja. It was wonderful, all of it.

  5. Continue to Marie Kondo the shit outta my life. This year I tried to tackle my yarn stash. The problem is that with each box I tried to organize, I’d get sidetracked into making something with the yarn, and then I’d need to buy more yarn to finish the project. And while I’m buying more yarn, oh hey look there’s some clearance yarn. Just think what I can make with that! So, while the rest of the house isn’t too bad, my office/craft room is horrible.
  6. Read 100 books. Made it to 53.

So, maybe not the best year for goals. But what about 2022?

2022 goals

  1. Publish consistently. As of right now, I’d like this to be at least a couple times a month. I’ve already gotten back into the habit of posting on Medium every couple weeks, and I’ve noticed that I can get a lot more consistent readership when I’m on a more consistent schedule, as opposed to every few months. I also want to try to expand where I publish, rather than just Medium most of the time.
  2. Keep traveling. My theme this year is filling in the gaps – getting to all the places I haven’t been to yet. I’m hoping to go somewhere at least every months, if not more frequently. I have a ton of PTO and there’s no reason I shouldn’t use it, especially when vanlifing is my self-care.
  3. Be more mindful regarding sustainability and my health. I’ve noticed over the last year or so I’ve been eating out a lot more. It’s super easy to wake up and just grab dinner on my way to work, but it’s not healthy or cheap. And I’ve noticed that when I do cook, a lot of it doesn’t get eaten. To that end, I want to decrease my food waste, either by cooking less or freezing or dehydrating the leftovers. This goes for veggies too. And I want to grow a lot more of my food, as well as make healthier choices as to what I do buy. And more environmentally sustainable choices, such as less plastic and less meat. I’m also going to throw that Marie Kondo’ing goal into here, as I try to cut down on how much stuff and clutter I have.
  4. Keep plugging away on my Heartsbane series, both writing and marketing. It’s been a while since I published anything with this. I’ve been picking at edits for #1.5 “The Brave Little Thrall,” and #2.5 “Ezichi the Beautiful” is about half done. #3 Little Amethyst Abaya is done, but I need to incorporate changes based on what happens with #2.5. I have some Amazon ads running, and I want to promote it more as I release more books.
  5. Start a series on Kindle Vella. Amazon has this new platform for serialized stuff, and I have a few friends who are finding success with it so I’d like to try it out. I have a series of short stories I’ve been playing with, The Suburban Hedgewitch, about a woman who grants little innocuous wishes and curses to her suburban neighbors, that would work for Vella. I also wrote a little microfiction piece last year, “The Diarassia Not Taken,” and I think it would be a fun world to continue in. Then there’s a third work I’ve been scribbling on this year, about the MC’s past lives, that I think would lend itself well to serialization.
  6. Read 100 books. My perennial goal.

If you’ve set goals for yourself, what are they? How do you plan to accomplish them?

 

Media Monday: What if cryptids were real?

The books: Lorestalker series (1-5) by J.P. Barnett

The music: “Godzilla” by Blue Oyster Cult

A few years back, as I was wandering the country, I found myself at a cryptozoology museum in New England (I won’t mention the name because when I criticized it on Twitter, the owner got a little pissy about it). Suffice it to say, the exhibits were built on some questionable “science.” And I wondered, how can anyone believe this stuff?

Well, the Lorestalker series takes this and runs with it. It follows Miriam Brooks, daughter or renowned cryptozoologist Skylar Brooks, as she and her friends investigate weird phenomena around the country, from a Bigfoot-like creature, to a giant kracken and skinwalkers.

Book 1, The Beast of Rose Valley, takes place in small-town Texas. Some creature is killing livestock and animals at a wildlife sanctuary, and the powers that be are trying to cover it up. What hooked me into this book, and the series as a whole, as that I figured out who was responsible about 1/3 of the way in – and then the author said, “Yep, here’s what you figured out but also here’s this twist.” It’s a great twist, something that’s built on in the rest of the series so I won’t spoil it, but something that makes you want to try to figure out each book as you’re reading it. Throw in likeable, believable characters, and this is a series you won’t want to put down.

Book 2, The Kraken of Cape Madre, switches the main character from a Texas guy to Miriam. This threw me at first, since she was basically just a side character in the first book with no POV, but it works for the series, and she becomes the main protagonist for most of the series. Miriam, her cousin, and her best friend are on vacation on the Texas Gulf coast, and a giant octopus appears. Again, the author takes everything you think you’ve figured out about the story, tells you you’re right, and then takes it further with a similar twist to what he did in the first book. The plot is good, but it’s the characters that have me giving this book 5 stars. Miriam is very real, from her on-the-spectrum-ish behavior instilled in her by her obsessive, narcissistic father, to her guilt-ridden PTSD earned in the last book. Even without the enjoyable sci-fi/fantasy/thriller/horror elements, I’d keep reading just to tag along on her adventures and watch her growth.

Book 3, The Witch of Gray’s Point, shifts gears a bit. Miriam is taking a study break at her father’s ranch in the Texas desert – only he’s there too, with his new team of assistants. Miriam and her dad have a complicated relationship, to put it mildly, but she’s convinced to stay at least the night. And that’s when the skinwalkers show up – Native American demon people. Based on their descriptions and their abilities, I thought there was no way this book could have the same twist as the others – but then bam, there it was, showing just how creative and ingenious the author is. Some great character development in this too, for characters I wasn’t expecting it from, and I was even more invested in the series to see how everyone continues to grow.

By book 4, The Haunt at Hogg Run, I was devouring this series. As in, as soon as I finished book 3 I immediately bought and read book 4. Unfortunately, book 4 was a shift away from the themes of the rest of the series. I’m not saying it wasn’t good – it definitely was – but it was almost straight-up slasher horror, compared to sci-fi/thriller/horror of the rest of the series. This book focuses mostly on Macy Donner, Miriam’s best friend. We know her pretty well at this point, but it was jarring for her to carry the book on her own, without her friends along. And the cryptid in this book, unlike the rest of them, is revealed pretty early, so there’s none of the related suspense that the rest of the series has had. Again, this is a good book, but it broke my stride in the series a bit.

Book 5, The Devil of Misty Lake, was a return to the rest of the series. Miriam and Macy have their first real cryptid investigation, this time in the forest of the Pacific Northwest (I would’ve loved to see a reference to the Pacific Northwest tree octopus). The author also returns to the same twist/reveal he’s used in the prior books, and it works as well here as it did in the rest of them. I also liked the introduction of the new characters – a monster-focused bounty hunter and a local guide – who I hope to see teaming up with Miriam and Macy in future books. Miriam again shows some great character growth in this book, especially at the end, that I expect to affect her in future books as well. Macy has growth too, the realistic kind that comes from her experience in book 4, that demonstrate the author’s deep understanding of human nature.

Overall, I highly recommend this series. It’s a mix of sci-fi, horror, and thriller, but the characters are so skillfully written that the plot almost takes a backseat and becomes a way for them to interact and grow. Even if you’re not generally into this kind of series, I recommend at least checking out the first book.

The song accompanying this week’s books is awesome in its own right, but there’s one lyric that specially applies: “History shows again and again how nature points out the folly of man.” And that’s the theme of these stories – whenever people start messing with nature, bad things happen. Again, and again, and again….

Fall 2021 goal review

Clyde happens

Clyde from Heartsbane does not care about my goals.

It’s that time of year – my quarterly check-in to see how I’m doing with the goals I set for myself in January.

We were short-staffed at work this summer, so I volunteered to pick up an extra shift each week. My schedule was 7pm-7am Monday-Thursday nights (50+ hours), and with sleeping and spending time with my kid, I didn’t really get a whole lot accomplished this summer. Just this month I’ve gone down to that extra shift just every other week, so maybe I’ll find some time for these goals. Haha.

That said, let’s take a look at my goals.

  1. Continue to publish and promote my Heartsbane Saga series. I haven’t made any progress on getting more stuff published, but I have increased the number of ads I’m running, and that’s helped with sales a bit.
  2. Publish something at least twice a week. I’ve only published 3 microfictions on Medium since my last update. A couple places I’d been publishing to regularly have Friday evening deadlines for prompts posted Monday morning, and with my schedule I don’t have time to write during the week.
  3. Marketing. As I mentioned for goal #1, I’ve been increasing my Amazon ads, and that’s helped with sales.
  4. Travel travel travel. This is one area I will NOT compromise on, because travel is my self-care. I spent a weekend at Spirit Lake and Lake Okaboji in northwest Iowa in early August, knocking the National Hobo Museum off my bucket list. Then a few days later my mom, son, and I went to Hawaii for a week, where we hiked and kayaked just about every day which was awesome. In September I went to St. Louis for the Pointfest concerts and to catch up with an old friend (I haven’t been to Pointfest for 20 years and we talked about our 401ks – I feel soooo old). I have several more trips planned – camping in northern Michigan next weekend, NYC in November for my kid’s 15th birthday (again, feeling old!), and the Florida Keys at Christmas. Maybe another weekend getaway in November or December too, depending on schedules.
  5. Continue to Marie Kondo the shit outta my life. I just went through my bedroom closet and got rid of a ton of clothes I haven’t worn in a few years and probably never will, plus one of my bookshelves with stuff for a local little free library. My basement is next on my list, as is my shed.
  6. Read 100 books. I’m at 45 books, which puts me at 33 behind schedule. I’m doing several review swaps, plus several of my friends have either just released books or will be soon, so I’ll be making an effort to read those. I’ve also had a hard time getting into some of the books I’ve started, and if I don’t finish sometimes I don’t count it at all. I don’t think I’ll make it to 100 though; maybe 75 by the end of the year?

If you’ve set goals for yourself, what are they? How are you doing with them? And what books would you recommend I read, so I can maybe hit that goal?

Summer 2021 goal review

Once again, it’s time for my quarterly check-in to see how I’m doing with the goals I set for myself in January.

I’m still adjusting to my new-ish job. Someone quit when they moved, so I’m picking up an extra shift every week for the next I-don’t-even-know how long. Which means 50 hours, over 4 days. Sometimes it’s slow and I have some free time to write or crochet or read or whatever, but for the most part life right now consists of work, sleep, and loading and unloading my dishwasher. As you can see, my annual goals don’t really fit into that very well.

Anyways.

  1. Continue to publish and promote my Heartsbane Saga series. I’m still picking away on edits on books 1.5, 2.5 (which has to come out before book 3), 3 (which has to be edited to match book 2.5), and now book 3.5.
  2. Publish something at least twice a week. I’m at 29 stories published on Medium so far in 2021, which is just over one a week. I serialized the first Heartsbane Saga story, “The Maiden in the Tower,” into 7 parts, but even excluding that I’m not doing bad for this. Aim for the stars, still on top of the world, and all that Pitbull jazz. I’m also looking into a series for Amazon’s new Vella thing, which would bump this number up too.
  3. Marketing. I have several things on my radar, as soon as I get another Heartsbane book or two out. September, maybe?
  4. Travel travel travel. Now here is somewhere I’m exceeding my goal. Since my last update, at the end of May I went to Rapids City, SD, and eastern Wyoming to hike around the Badlands and Black Hills (and tried Runza in Nebraska for the first time, after driving past them for years. Verdict: okay). Then the next weekend, I headed up to Bemidji, MN, to vanlife around the Frigid Northlands (and eat pasties), but it was almost 100F so I headed over to cooler North Dakota instead. Last weekend, I picked my kid up from his aunt’s in Kansas City, MO, so I’d have an excuse to go back to that German restaurant in Wichita I ate at in February, and then head to Oklahoma City to get some more goat sausage for ravioli. I’m hoping to squeeze in another weekend trip in early August, and then in the middle of that month I’m heading to Hawaii for a week, where I plan to make myself sick eating fresh pineapples and lychee smoothies daily.
  5. Continue to Marie Kondo the shit outta my life. My current project is my office, and specifically the yarn that covers every surface. My problem here is that every time I sort through a box of it, I get sidetracked by starting a new project with every skein. I have a couple craft shows planned for this year, so at least the projects aren’t wasted (assuming I finish them).
  6. Read 100 books. I haven’t made much progress with this since the last check-in; I’m currently at 28 books (26 behind schedule). I’m looking forward to spending some time reading on the beach next month, to try to catch up.

If you’ve set goals for yourself, what are they? How are you doing with them?

Spring 2021 goal review

Clyde happens

Clyde from Heartsbane still does not care about my goals.

Once again, it’s time for my quarterly check-in to see how I’m doing with the goals I set for myself in January.

I started a new job in January, doing intake assessments at the psychiatric hospital that recently opened in town. I’m enjoying it pretty well, although the schedule of three consecutive days of 12-hour shifts looks a lot nicer on paper than it does actually working it – especially when that third day rolls around and my brain is numb. And especially especially when I pick up an extra shift. My bank account is loving it, but my writing goals not so much.

Anyways.

  1. Continue to publish and promote my Heartsbane Saga series. Books .5, 1, and 2 are all out. Books 1.5, 2.5, and 3 are ready to go as soon as I’m done with edits. Soon, I hope.
  2. Publish something at least twice a week. I just checked and I’ve published 15 stories on Medium this year, which averages out to about one a week. Not twice a week, as per my goal, but still pretty good. Most of it is microfiction, but that’s okay. It’s something.
  3. Marketing. Brian Cohen just started another Amazon ads mini course this week, and I’m hoping to follow along. My Amazon ads have been doing decent for sales, and I want to kick them up a bit. I’ve also started participating in the Weekend Writing Warrior blog hop again after a long absence, which is helping with marketing a bit too, I think.
  4. Travel travel travel. I made it to Dodge City, KS, in February. The museum was a bit of a whitewashed disappointment, but I still enjoyed getting out on the Plains. On that trip I also ate at a delicious German restaurant in Wichita, explored Truckhenge in Topeka (not as good as Carhenge or even Cadillac Ranch, but A for effort), and managed to sweet talk my way into a private self-guided tour through a closed-for-renovations psychiatric museum in St. Joseph, MO. A couple weeks ago my kid and I went to Chicago for his belated birthday trip and found some awesome arepas, which is his thing right now. This weekend I hope to go to Detroit and eat pasties from the Eastern Market, Middle Eastern from my favorite Middle Eastern restaurant in Dearborn, Belgian from this little restaurant with awesome beer, and maybe even some Aramaic from this Chaldean restaurant. Yes, I am all about food when I travel. Now that the weather is getting warmer, I’m hoping to use my 3-4 day weekends for some solo vanlife hiking trips pretty regularly.
  5. Continue to Marie Kondo the shit outta my life. I Marie Kondo’d my living room last year and it’s still pretty good. Now I’m nearly done with my dining room; my dad is building me a big floor-to-ceiling cabinet so I can organize all my kitchen gadgets and pantry stuff. Next it’ll be on to my office, which is a godawful mess.
  6. Read 100 books. My usual goal. I’m currently at about 16/30 books, but I’ve been able to read a bit recently at work to catch up (another nice perk of the job; when we’re full or on hold for admissions at night, my supervisor doesn’t mind if we read or whatever as long as we’re caught up with everything else). I’ve also started going to the gym 2-3 times a week, and I read for about 20 minutes while walking on the treadmill. Two birds with one stone and all that.

If you’ve set goals for yourself, what are they? How are you doing with them?

Resolutions: 2020 review and 2021 goals

Clyde happens

Clyde from Heartsbane still does not care about my goals.

It’s that time of year: looking back on my goals for the previous year and then setting goals for the new year.

2020 goals

First off, I’m gonna preface this by pointing out that 2020 was just a weird year that sucked for everyone. That said, here’s how I did this year.

  1. Finish and submit/publish my Heartsbane series and 7+ related short stories. Books 1 and 2 are OUT!!! Short story .5 has also been released, and 1.5 and 2.5 are coming very soon. I had to push the preorders back a little bit (and 1.5 is almost 3 months overdue at this point), but at least I got them out! And I have a schedule set for the rest of the series too.
  2. Publish to Medium at least twice a month. I was doing well with this, and then the publication I’d been submitting to stopped publishing. And then Medium changed its layouts and a lot of fiction writers abandoned the platform due to a 90% drop in income. This year I published 28 stories to Medium – which means I hit this goal!! 2/2 so far!
  3. Continue to increase my networking. This was hit-or-miss in terms of reading and sharing other writers’ stuff. BUT I did rejoin the Weekend Writing Warriors blog hop and I comment on every single other post each week. And believe it or not, but I actually see an increase in my own reads on Medium when I’m actively engaged on clapping for others’ stuff. Who knew?
  4. Buy a cabin on Lake Superior. This didn’t happen this year. I knew it wouldn’t happen this year. BUT I am starting a new job in a couple weeks. It’s a very significant pay increase so this could actually be an attainable goal in the next year or so.
  5. Marie Kondo the shit outta my life. I was about halfway there. I repainted and organized my living room, dining room, and front entryway. I’ve also gotten rid of a ton of stuff I don’t need/use. I just moved back into my office a couple weeks ago and now I’m slowly going through all the crap I have stashed in there (mostly yarn). More importantly, I’ve been able to KEEP my downstairs from re-cluttering.
  6. Read 100 books. Man I sucked so bad at this. While I had more time to read this year due to working from home, I had a really hard time finding anything that kept my interest. I finished 37 books last year. (If you add in all the books I started but didn’t read more than a chapter or so, I probably hit my goal – but I only count those I finish). My annual breakdown of what I read will be along shortly.

Overall in 2020

I hit my main goal, which was to publish my Heartsbane Saga series. Considering I’ve been trying to do that for years, I think 2020 counts as a success.

2021 goals

  1. Continue to publish and promote my Heartsbane Saga series. As I said above, I have a set publication schedule for the rest of them. Sometimes I might have to adjust it a bit, but having that schedule – and announcing it to the world – has helped with accountability. So has setting preorders for the main books; Amazon only lets you change it once, and then you lose preorder privileges for a year. That’s been a HUGE motivator for me, especially seeing as how people are preordering!
  2. Publish something at least twice a week. I’ve found several Medium microfiction publications with weekly prompts, and there’s really no excuse for not being able to write 50 or 100 words for these. Plus I just joined Microfiction for Lunch as a contributor, and that requires something weekly. They take older stuff, but I’m trying to write new stuff. I’d also like to get back to writing longer stories.
  3. Marketing. I did Brian Cohen’s Amazon ads course a couple times in 2020 and it resulted in more sales from September-December than I’d had in the past three years COMBINED (part of that was due to releasing 3 new books, but I also saw a lot of movement on my backlist stuff). This year I want to really ramp up my advertising and marketing, not only with Amazon ads but Facebook ads and maybe blog tours too.
  4. Travel travel travel. My kid reminded me that I owe him several trips due to COVID. We tried to go to NYC over spring break last year, but only made it as far as Boston before everything shut down, so we need to head back there (which is okay, because we had tickets to STOMP and Phantom of the Opera which I was super excited about). I take him on a trip for his birthday every year, but everything was re-shut down so I owe him a trip to Chicago. We wanted to do a long weekend on a beach but with the COVID surge we held off, so I owe him a trip to Pensacola (the closest beach to us). And several years ago I promised to take him backpacking around Europe over the summer before he went into high school, which is this summer (gods I feel old). In addition to that, I bought a minivan last year and made an effort to knock places off my bucket list, which is easy to do when you’re living out of your van. I hit Carhenge, and Zzyzx Rd in California, and Rte 6 east so that I’ve now driven its entire length in the US. Top of my list this year is Dodge City, KS, because Gunsmoke, as well as the Florida Keys if the Bahamas open back up. And Canada. I haven’t been there for a while either. So many trips!!
  5. Continue to Marie Kondo the shit outta my life. My downstairs is looking good, but the upstairs is still a mess. And the basement. Dear gods how have I accumulated so much stuff?? I’ve realized my house, as much as I love it, is too big (yeah, I know, first world problem). I’d love to be able to downsize to maybe a 1-bedroom place when my kid graduates in a few years (or that cabin in MI), and there’s no way I can do that with all my stuff.
  6. Read 100 books. My usual goal. I want to continue my around-the-world challenge and knock out at least 1/3 of this goal with those books.

The good news is, I’m starting a new job in a couple weeks that consists of 3 12-hour shifts a week, rather than 5 8-hour ones, and I’m hoping that’ll give me more time to write and read and travel and do stuff I need to do. Or, more realistically, more time to waste on procrastinating but still more time to do stuff. On the other hand, I tend to work more efficiently when I have less free time, so we’ll see how it goes.

If you’ve set goals for yourself, what are they? How do you plan to accomplish them?

Fall 2020 goal review – ‘Ronaverse edition

How is it that 2020 feels like a million months’ long yet is still flying by?

I did an online writing conference in August, and that’s really helped me to focus. I love to-do lists, and so I now keep a planner with weekly goals. I don’t always hit them (okay, I never hit them all), but it’s helped keep me on track a lot better than my previous method of wishful thinking. It’s especially been helpful as I’ve ramped up Amazon ads and systematically gone through and updated my backlist covers and blurbs.

Anyways, here’s my quarterly review of how my progress towards my goals is going.

  1. Finish and submit/publish my Heartsbane series and 7+ related short stories.
    I DID THIS!!!!! I released the first short story, “The Maiden in the Tower,” in mid-July, followed by book 1, Captive and the Cursed, at the beginning of September. I’m finishing up edits on the second short story, “The Brave Little Thrall,” and book 2, Sleeping Shaman, which is also finished except for edits, is available for preorder, set to release December 1st. I’m currently working on going wide with books .5 and 1, and 1.5 will be wide probably by early November.
  2. Publish to Medium at least twice a month.
    So far in 2020 I’ve published 22 stories on Medium, with one more submitted and waiting on publication. I didn’t publish anything in September, which I can definitely feel in the decline of views. It can be difficult to get that momentum back, but I have several pieces in the works to try to recover and continue publishing regularly.
  3. Continue to increase my networking.
    I’ve reconnected with Weekend Writing Warriors, a weekly blog hop that shares snippets of works in progress. I’ve also joined a couple Facebook writers groups. As part of #2 above, I plan to continue to try to clap for 15+ Medium stories every day, specifically those written by people I follow and people who follow me.
  4. Buy a cabin on Lake Superior.
    Last goal review, I mentioned how the transmission went out in my minivan. I was able to get the warranty company to pay for it (yay me!) but they wouldn’t pay for a new timing belt. And then just a couple weeks ago, as I was about to embark on another cross-country road trip, I ended up needing a new catalytic converter and four new tires. Ouch. BUT sales have been decent on my new books for the past month (although not enough to buy a cabin, sadly) and I’m signed up to do a craft fair at the end of the month. Depending how that goes, I may do another one in November and/or December. Although who knows what’ll go out on my van next month….
  5. Marie Kondo the shit outta my life.
    As the weather is starting to cool down, I’m starting to get back into this. After the craft fair, my plan is to tackle my dining room: fix the stuck pocket door, repaint, and declutter. Then onto the upstairs bedrooms.
  6. Read 100 books.
    Right now I’m at 30 books for the year, which is 46 behind where I should be. This is not going to end well.

On the positive side, I’ve gotten a lot more travel in, which is really important for self-care. I just got back from a 10-day, 5300-mile roadtrip around the American southwest, with lots of hiking and vanlifing. It was wonderful, especially Death Valley, and I’m already planning out the next trip. (I also tweeted my observations during the trip; follow me on Twitter for lots of random musings that don’t make it onto my blog.)

Like most years, I’m making progress on some goals, not so much on others. It’s hard to know what’s going to happen for the year when I set my goals back in January, and I think this year wins for least predictable year ever. But I’ll keep going. As my buddy Armando Perez says, “Reach for the stars and if you don’t grab them, at least you’ll fall on top of the world.”

If you’ve set goals for yourself, what are they? How are you doing with them?

Summer 2020 goal review – ‘Ronaverse edition (again)

What is normal anymore? This pandemic has been going on for months. We’re adapting (kind of), but then what we’re adapting to changes. I don’t even know any more.

Anyways, here’s my quarterly review of how my progress towards my goals is going.

  1. Finish and submit/publish my Heartsbane series and 7+ related short stories.
    Still working on edits. Two short stories are done (.5, “The Maiden in the Tower” and 5.5 “The Fabiranum Town Thieves”). Edits are almost done for book 1 and I will FORCE MYSELF to get it to my editor in the next week. I need to get this done already.
  2. Publish to Medium at least twice a month.
    So far in 2020 I’ve published 16 stories on Medium, with one more submitted and waiting on publication. I’ve gotten at least 2 stories published every month since January, and 3 months I had 3-4 stories. Writing microfictions definitely helps with this.
  3. Continue to increase my networking.
    My goal is to comment on, clap for, and/or share at least 15 people’s blog posts or works, at least 4-5 times a week. I thought I’d be better with this since I’ve been mostly working from home the past several months, but I’m probably only meeting this about once a week. I’m doing a conference (virtual, unfortunately, due to the ‘rona) with Brian Cohen next month, and that should be great for networking.
  4. Buy a cabin on Lake Superior.
    Everything is still on hold with this. Craft shows are starting back up, but I don’t feel very comfortable being around unmasked people. Side counseling is also on hold due to the pandemic. AND the transmission just went out in my van; I’m fighting with my extended warranty company over fixing it, which could be very expensive if they won’t cover it. With retail and everything opening back up, I’m looking into maybe getting a part-time job, at least for the time being, because I really need this cabin for my mental well-being.
  5. Marie Kondo the shit outta my life.
    Living room is done and hasn’t really filled back up with clutter (other than the bags of stuff to go to Goodwill and my mask-making stuff all over the coffee table). Due to the nice weather I’ve switched gears to outside. My dad and I put in a retaining wall out front, with an herb garden in one bed and flowers in another. I added more vegetable beds and fruit trees outside too. It’s now super hot and humid here in the Midwest, so I’m back inside more than out. Time to tackle probably my dining room and my basement. One of the problems with the dining room, however, is that it’s filled with yarn and so every time I move a ball or skein I start making something with it. Oh well.
  6. Read 100 books.
    Right now I’m at 16 books for the year, which is 35 behind where I should be. I just haven’t been in the mood to read anything; work has been really emotionally draining over the past couple months, with lots of tough client situations, and when I unwind I don’t want to have to think. A few authors I enjoy have new books coming out soon though, so maybe this’ll pick up for me.

One thing I have done, that’s not reflected in the goals above, is knocked several travel destinations off my bucket list. My son and I drove out US Rte 6 to Boston in March (we drove the western part of it in 2016), so I’ve now driven the entire 3200 miles of it! We were supposed to go to New York too at the time, but our trip was cut short by the pandemic. I also finally made it to Carhenge on Memorial Day weekend, a place I’ve wanted to go since I was probably about 12 or 13. And I just got back from a road trip with my son to Delaware, which was the last of the lower 48 states we hadn’t been to. (For the last two trips, I camped most of the way, wore a mask when I was in public, and generally avoided people.) Google has this timeline thing where they put a dot on a map for every place you go when you have the location turned on for your phone, and my goal now is to fill in the missing dots. Upcoming possible destinations for camping road trips include southern Missouri/Arkansas and Michigan/Wisconsin/Minnesota, depending on how many vacation days I have and how stupid other people are being.

Carhenge

Carhenge is both stupidly awesome and awesomely stupid. Definitely worth the drive to see it.

Overall, I’m making progress on some goals, not so much on others. A large part of this is the pandemic; I have more time on my hands, and I’m always less productive when I don’t have dozens of things that HAVE to get done. I need external deadlines, not internal. If you have similar issues with ignoring self-imposed deadlines, please let me know in the comments below!

If you’ve set goals for yourself, what are they? How are you doing with them?

Fall 2019 goal review

Every three months or so, I try to provide an update on how I’m doing with my annual goals. Here’s my update for this fall.

  1. Publish to Medium at least weekly and Patreon monthly.
    Mid August, I offered to fill in running evening substance use groups as-needed. Turns out they needed me to do it three times a week until someone new was hired for the position. I’m currently on week 8 of this, and that 15 or so extra hours of work a week, in addition to my regular 40, has been kicking my butt creatively. I’ve been putting all my time into my novella series (see #2 below) and have only published 15 stories on Medium this year, compared to the 39 I should have at this point. I’ve also only posted 3 short stories on Patreon, compared to the 10 I should be at (but I don’t have any patrons, so I don’t really feel all that motivated to post).
  2. Finish my novella series.
    Book 3 is done and I’m planning on writing book 4 for NaNoWriMo this year. I also have a finished short story and a couple more half-written shorts. I’d planned to send the first book to my publisher already but have had to go back and change some stuff in it so that the plot flows better in later books. I’ve also completely re-outlined the series several times, as characters have not cooperated as they should’ve. However, I think this is making the series stronger because the plot and character development is now more natural.
  3. Increase my networking.
    14-hour work days will kill your networking. I’ll get back to this when I drop back down to filling in occasionally rather than 3 times a week.
  4. Read 100 books.
    I’m at 51 right now, which is 27 behind schedule. Again, no time to read.
  5. Keep going with my trauma-informed care/school social work writing.
    I have some ideas for posts on TIC but I haven’t written any yet. I need to get back to this.
  6. Have more adventures.
    I made it to Wichita and Truth or Consequences, NM, on our vacation to the Grand Canyon this summer, but for the most part the trip went well. We didn’t run out of gas like we did in Oregon a couple years ago. No ambulance rides like in Thailand last summer. No wild animal attacks or banks blocking my debit card or really weird tourist traps. My kid and I are spending a weekend in L.A. in December, so maybe that’ll turn into an adventure for us?

Unless something drastically changes soon (and I really, really, really hope it does not), it doesn’t look like I’ll be hitting my goals this year. But you know what? That’s okay. As Armando Perez once said, “Reach for the stars and if you don’t grab ’em, at least you’d fall on top of the world.” I may not be hitting my goals, but at least I’m writing!

If you’ve set goals for yourself, what are they? How are you doing with them?

Summer 2019 goal review

Going In Circles Ebook

I released this not too long ago. Not a goal but it’s still an accomplishment!

Summer is in full swing. The flood waters have finally receded (yay for a record-length flood of 66 days of major flooding and 103 total days of flooding), my garden is in overdrive, and I’m longing for a North Dakota winter with snow and cold and zero humidity.

And it’s also time for my quarterly goal review.

Every 3 months, I review my annual goals. Here’s my progress so far this year.

  1. Publish to Medium at least weekly and Patreon monthly.
    I should be at about 26 Medium stories and 6 Patreon. I’m at 13 for Medium and 2 for Patreon, with another short story posting this weekend.
  2. Finish my novella series.
    I’m still final revising book 1, Captive and the Cursed. Book 2, Sleeping Shaman, is finished and needs to be edited. Book 3, Little Amethyst Abaya, is half done. I’ve also written a stand-alone short story, “The Maiden in the Tower,” which is currently available on Patreon, and I’ve halfway through a couple more stand-alone shorts: “The Brave Little Thrall” and “The Fabiranum Town Apprentices.” These are about side characters and take place years before the main storyline. I’m hoping to have several to send to my publisher when I get them the first book (which I hope to have to them soon; I’m just more interested in writing new stuff than revising).
  3. Increase my networking.
    I was doing well with this but since I got a new job, it’s fallen off. I put the Medium app back on my phone though, so I theoretically will read stories on it when I have free time rather than playing stupid games.
  4. Read 100 books.
    I’m at 40 right now, which is 10 behind schedule. Between working and writing and gardening and destressing from my job with YouTube videos, reading hasn’t been a priority. I also haven’t really found anything recently that’s grabbed my attention.
  5. Keep going with my trauma-informed care/school social work writing.
    I have a couple posts in mind but nothing written yet.
  6. Have more adventures.
    My new job means I don’t have the summers off anymore. And it also means I don’t have enough vacation time accrued yet to take time off for adventures. I’ll have enough days in August to head out west to the Grand Canyon, Vegas, and other places I’m going based just on the name (Truth and Consequence, NM) or because The White Stripes told me to (“I’m going to Wichita/Far from this opera for evermore”). Yeah, that seriously is why I go places. Like Medicine Hat, Alberta, a few years go – I liked the name.

Just because my life hasn’t aligned with my goals doesn’t mean I’ve been unproductive. My writing group is doing a great job of keeping me accountable and motivated with my Heartsbane novellas. And even though I haven’t hit my short story goal, between those stories and my series I’ve been writing more in the past six months than I probably have in the past six years. I’ve also been crocheting a ton so that maybe I can do some craft shows this fall. We’ll see how much I have made closer to time.

If you’ve set goals for yourself, what are they? How are you doing with them?

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