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Tag: short story

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?

Spring 2020 goal review – ‘Ronaverse edition

Heartsbane Saga PromoHow is it that it’s already April and yet this year feels like it’s lasted a million years already?

I’m working from home right now, which is weird. I usually spend my work days running from the 3 area hospitals to the shelters and other places my homeless clients hang out, from the courthouse to the treatment facilities, and for the past couple weeks I’ve had to do everything by phone because I can’t have face-to-face contact with clients. It’s an adjustment, definitely. I’m trying to stay busy, but let’s be honest, I definitely have more free time now. So maybe I’ll make some progress on these goals?

Regardless, every three months or so I try to provide an update on how I’m doing with my annual goals, and it’s time for my spring update.

  1. Finish and submit/publish my Heartsbane series and 7+ related short stories.
    I’ve pitched the series to my publisher and am working on polishing up book 1 to give him very soon. I have an editor assigned, and we’re working on getting the cover artist. So, maybe mid summer for the release of book 1, possibly a little earlier for the first short story? The first 4 are written, just need revisions. And of course something I revise in the first book (“I’m a secret agent!” “I’m a secret villain!”) has to trickle down to the rest of them.
  2. Publish to Medium at least twice a month.
    So far in 2020 I’ve published 5 stories on Medium, with one more submitted and waiting on publication. And I’ve also done parts 1 and 2 of a short story, “Spice Pirates,” that’ll probably end up being 4 parts altogether. Yay, I’m meeting this goal!
  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’ve been going in spurts on this, and I’m hoping I’ll be able to do this more consistently with the extra time I have on my hands right now.
  4. Buy a cabin on Lake Superior.
    Reaching this goal right now means upping my side hustles, which are kinda on hold right now. I’d intended to do some craft shows this spring but that’s obviously not happening. Neither is a side job at the moment, since counseling places aren’t really hiring for evenings right now. I’m still keeping my eyes open for extra income, and crocheting a TON so I’ll be set when/if things go back to normal.
  5. Marie Kondo the shit outta my life.
    I’ve been doing decent with this. I decided to go through each room of my house and make it exactly how I want it. I started with my living room; I repainted the tan walls pale blue and painted all the dark wood trim white, then rearranged the furniture. My dad made me a couple book shelves as well as some little shelves tucked into the walls, and I’ve put everything on those. Decluttering, as well as keeping the room decluttered, has been good for my mental health. I’m now working on my entry hallway and stairs. I repainted the lighter tan hallway a lighter pale blue and repainted the trim white as well. I got rid of a lot of the clutter that tends to congregate in the entryway. We stripped all the old stain and carpet glue off the stairs, and now I’m in the process of restaining and painting them. I should be done in the next couple of weeks, depending on how motivated I am. I’m also building a wall ladder plant holder (since my cats love eating my plants) to put at the bottom of the stairs. The colors are very calming, as is not having stuff everywhere. Then it’s on to my dining room, which is a cluttered disaster since it currently doubles as my office.
  6. Read 100 books.
    So far I’ve only read 9 of the 25 I should be at. I just haven’t been in a reading mood, I guess. I’ve been spending a lot of time writing and crocheting instead of reading. And I’ve started a bunch of books but lost interest in them halfway through. Maybe this would be a good time to unpause my reading around the world challenge.

So, there it is. Like usual, I’m making progress on some goals but not on others. Life is throwing us all a massive curveball right now, and I guess all we can do is try our best to keep things normal while everything is definitely not normal. Welcome to the ‘Ronaverse, I guess.

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

Coming soon – a new series with its own mascot!

Clyde happensFor the past year or so, most of my writing effort has been divided between short stories and The Heartsbane Saga, the new series I’m working on. I’ve been working on this series for years, actually, but it’s really gained its momentum over the last 12-15 months.

This series will be 7 novellas (so far, about 40-50k words each although I expect they’ll get longer as the series progresses) and 7 stand-alone-ish short stories, each of which is based on a different fairy tale.

Originally the series was just going to be one book, but then it morphed into 7. I had them all roughly plotted out. My writing group, Chicken Scratch QC, approved of the arc. I was all set.

I wrote book 1. So far, so good. I started on book 2. And that’s when things started to go off the rails (although in a good way, because the direction I’m going in has a lot more depth and excitement and twists to it). Specifically, Clyde happened.

Clyde is a character who wasn’t supposed to be a character, who’s kinda become a legend in my local writing groups as a way to express when things aren’t going the way you thought they would in your story. “Dammit, Clyde” is frequently heard at writing gatherings.

In book 2, my main group of characters travels to Aghlabid, a far away country, and they’re accompanied by a couple nameless huskarler (bodyguards). Or at least, they were supposed to be nameless. Our conversation went a bit like this:

Character A: We want names.

Me: No.

Character B: I’ll be Gunnar.

Me: No.

Character A: And I’m Clyde.

Me: WTF. Clyde? Clyde is not a Viking name. At least Gunnar is a traditional Icelandic/Viking name.

Clyde: Also, we’re going to be integral to the plot.

Me: No.

Clyde: F your outline.

Me: Dammit, Clyde!

And Clyde’s been uncooperative ever since. I’ve had to redo my series outline at least three times now because of him, although again, each time the story’s become stronger and better for it.

But please, don’t tell Clyde that.

Heartsbane slideI’d originally planned to have the first book to my publisher earlier this spring, but due to changes to the series I’ve had to do some retconning (dammit, Clyde) and am now waiting until most of it is done before we release all the books a month or two apart, hopefully starting this spring. If you want to read sneak peaks, please head over to Patreon, where the first short story, “The Maiden in the Tower,” is posted as well as the first chapters of the books.

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?

Spring 2019 goal review

Going In Circles EbookHow is it April already??

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.
    So far I should be at 13 or Medium stories, and 4 Patreon stories. I’m at 5 Medium stories and 0 Patreon stories. Although to be fair, I currently have 0 patrons, so I’m not really that motivated to post any stories there. No excuse though for Medium.
  2. Finish my novella series.
    I’m in the final revision stages of book 1, Captive and the Cursed, and have book 2, Sleeping Shamans, about half written. If I can keep up the pace of writing a book every couple months, I’ll be on track to have this done in a year or so. We know I won’t stay on track, but it’s nice to currently be on schedule.
  3. Increase my networking.
    I’ve been reading and clapping for about 20-30 Medium stories a week and commenting on quite a few of the blogs I follow as they write new posts. Most of my comments have been on fellow writers’ blogs, so I need to expand to industry people too.
  4. Read 100 books.
    I’m at 27 right now, which is 2 ahead of schedule. I haven’t read much nonfiction yet, but I have been trying to read more than just US/Western authors.
  5. Keep going with my trauma-informed care/school social work writing.
    This has not happened. At all.
  6. Have more adventures.
    This has also not really happened, sadly. My son and I went to Detroit for a few days, but I wouldn’t really call that an adventure, even though I could probably spin it that way if I mention, completely without context, that he held a human brain and we dug around in a cemetery. I’d planned to go to Florida or Carhenge over spring break but my car needs a new radiator and I decided to be responsible and fix it rather than go on a trip. I probably won’t have time for an adventure until this summer, when hopefully I’ll have an epic one.

Mostly I’m not meeting my goals right now because I have too much free time, and I tend to waste it on YouTube videos or just not being productive since I think I have all the time in the world. Fortunately my writing group is keeping me focused and accountable, at least for my series!

Not on my goals this year but something I DID accomplish – a new short story collection! Going in Circles: Vol 1 contains 10 connected very short stories that were originally published on Medium. If you’re not a member of that site, you can pick up a copy of the collection at Amazon.

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

New release!! Going in Circles Vol 1: 10 Very Short Stories

Going in Circles vol 1 coverI’ve been posting a lot of stuff on Medium over the past year or so, from short stories to preview chapters of a novel I’m working on. A lot of the stuff I’ve posted has been members-only (since I like getting paid for what I write).

I know a lot of people aren’t paying Medium members, so I’ve put together a short collection of some of my related stories for nonmembers to read.

Going in Circles Vol 1: 10 Very Short Stories is about 6 connected people:

  • Reggie, who is the son of Carly and Mark from Yours to Keep or Throw Aside (bet you didn’t see that one coming!) and will be one of the main protagonists, opposite Aida and Zoe, whenever I get around to writing its sequel
  • Stella, Reggie’s girlfriend
  • Curtis, Reggie’s best friend
  • Rana, Curtis’s sister
  • Big Ed, Rana’s boyfriend
  • The Fox, the villain of my current WIP novel, Waylaid on the Road to Nowhere

So yes, that means that Yours to Keep or Throw Aside and Waylaid on the Road to Nowhere are set in the same universe, although they’re both standalone novels and only connected by these short stories.

Anyways, if you haven’t already read these stories on Medium, please check out this compilation. It also has the first chapter of Waylaid (which you can also read on Medium, if you have a membership, along with several other chapters of the book).

And go ahead and read Yours to Keep or Throw Aside, too, if you haven’t already.

Let me know in the comments below what you think about crossovers and shared universes, and whether you have any predictions about that sequel.

New releases!!

Futility CoverAfter – well, let’s just say a while – I have a couple new releases!

Kind of.

The first is an audiobook of The Futility of Loving a Soldier, narrated by Maria Kelly. She has a beautiful Irish lilt that makes the eleven short stories a joy to listen to.

Get your copy at Amazon/Audible or iTunes.

The second release is a paperback of “A Place to Die.” I wanted to have print copies on hand for an upcoming book fair event thing but didn’t get them ordered in time. However, you can still get your copy at Amazon. And don’t forget, you can read the story for free if you sign up to my mailing list.

If you’re wanting actual new stories, I’ve been posting pretty regularly over on Medium. I’m also nearly done with the first draft of the first book in a new series, which is retellings of fairy tales but with Vikings and no magic. My writing group is loving the first book – the MC was described as “wonderfully prickly” – and they’ve been pushing me to finish. I’m hoping to have the first one out by Christmas, with more to follow over the next year.

I also started a Patreon account. One of the tiers includes access to a new story every month. Please consider supporting me – just $1 will give me that extra push to actually write each month!

Thanks for your support!

Weekend Writing Warrior 7/22/18 #8Sunday

After All coverThis week’s excerpt is from one of my end-of-the-world stories, “Special,” that’ll be included in an upcoming collection. It leaves off from last week’s excerpt, where a young boy told his friends he had grass growing under his bed.

* * * * * * *

I’d forgotten about it by morning, like I forgot about most of what he said, until at breakfast Yaya asked, “Where’s Niko?”

“He’s by the lake,” I answered, without hesitation.

“What lake?” Yaya’s eyes narrowed, probably suspecting this was another of Niko’s tricks he’d convinced me to go along with.

“The one at our old plantation.”

She grabbed my arm, her eyes wide in disbelief. “Tevi, has Niko gone Outside?”

“Yes.” I closed my eyes, honing in on where my brother was. “He wanted to find some grass to show Szymon.”

* * * * * * *

Read the rest of “Special” over at Medium, then post a link to your eight-ten sentence blog entry, or join the fun at the Weekend Writing Warriors website.

About After All:

Nuclear war. Plague. Asteroids. Financial collapse.
Dystopian governments determined to exterminate anyone different.

Through it all, humanity struggles on.

And if you’re a writer, sign up to be a Friday Five author, which gets you and your latest work featured on my blog.

Weekend Writing Warrior 7/15/18 #8Sunday

After All coverIt’s been almost a year since I’ve participated in WWW!

This week’s excerpt is from one of my end-of-the-world stories, “Special,” that’ll be included in an upcoming collection.

* * * * * * *

Growing up, Niko didn’t do anything special. He played with the other children in the caverns into which we’d moved to shield us from the airstrikes. He matched their outlandish stories about their dead fathers’ exploits with ones about our own father, trumping them by including the adventures of his namesake, even though no one had heard of him.

One day, when we were about eight and Niko was running screaming with the others playing king of the hill, he pulled out the boldest story of all: “I have grass growing under my bed.”

Szymon paused from shoving him off our dirt pile hill. “No one has grass growing anywhere.”

We’d read about grass and about other plants, and once we’d even toured the hydroponics labs the soldiers maintained. But no one actually had plants of their own. How would they grow in the caverns, without sunlight?

* * * * * * *

Read the rest of “Special” over at Medium, then post a link to your eight-ten sentence blog entry, or join the fun at the Weekend Writing Warriors website.

About After All:

Nuclear war. Plague. Asteroids. Financial collapse.
Dystopian governments determined to exterminate anyone different.

Through it all, humanity struggles on.

And if you’re a writer, sign up to be a Friday Five author, which gets you and your latest work featured on my blog.

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