Monday, December 31, 2012

My One Year Goal Plan - 2013 Edition

Every year I make New Year's resolutions and post them on my blog. Every year so far I've gone about keeping up with them in a different way. In 2011, I posted "report cards" a couple of times. In 2012, I posted updates on the first day of each month for most of the year (last update at the bottom of this post).

In 2013, starting tomorrow, I have an entirely different plan.

I have eight goals to accomplish by December 31, 2013.

  1. Finish THINKING OF YOU revisions.
  2. Draft all CITY IN THE SKY stories.
  3. Finish THE TRUE PRINCESS revisions and edits.
  4. Finish drafting and rewrite OBJECTION.
  5. Replan and start rewriting THE LULLABY.
  6. Draft untitled lucky genes story.
  7. Finish 26 short works.
  8. Reduce percentage of unread books to 10%.

To make sure I actually work toward all of these goals throughout the year, I have developed a plan with the help of Microsoft Excel: The One Year Goal Plan - 2013 Edition.

When I look at those big goals and think about trying to finish them, my heart sinks a little bit. They're not goals that can be completed quickly or easily. Hence, they're hard to keep my sights on. These feelings are what my whole plan revolves around.

Each "Year Goal" will be broken done into twelve "Month Goals." Looking at that smaller goal is better, but a month still leaves plenty of time to get distracted. So each month is split in half and each half is given its own goal. Both "Half-Month Goals" are then split into various amounts of "Mini-Goals" that are easy and far less stressful to reach.

I feel this method will keep me focused on and excited about accomplishing my goals. I've completed January's breakdowns, but will be waiting to do the other months until they roll around. This way I will be most up-to-date on each goal's progress and know for certain what might decrease or increase my writing time each month.

And, in case you were wondering how Excel helped me:

January Goals for THINKING OF YOU (drag to URL bar to embiggen)

I will be updating all of you on my progress in the style of my usual posts and with occasional snapshots of my spreadsheet.

2013 is going to be a great year!

2012 NYR Last Update - 1 Year

  1. I will have complete THINKING OF YOU's ready for query first round of revisions. I finished small revisions on the first six chapters and conquered my fear of revising.
  2. I will have two new first drafts. I finished one first draft of THE TRUE PRINCESS and got to 32,393 words on OBJECTION.
  3. I will win National Poetry Writing Month (NaPoWriMo).
  4. I will submit at least two short stories to two anthologies, journals, ezines, and/or contests.
  5. I will read at least one hundred books. I read 57 books and made it over half-way with two others.
  6. I will post at least one vlog a month. I posted one vlog in January, March, April, July, September, October, and December. I posted five in November.
  7. I will exercise in some way once a week. Since the beginning of September, according to the My Fitness Pal app on my phone, I did a round of jumping jacks on six different days.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Michael Offut's Blog Tour Post!

Today I am very excited to be hosting Michael Offutt on his blog tour for his newest book, OCULUS. Michael has always been a wonderful supporter of mine and I am happy to return the favor. Make sure to read the whole post because at the end there is information concerning two OCULUS themed giveaways!

There are days when I doubt myself but not today.

There are days when I write a sentence, and I imagine that if Stephen King or Neil Gaiman wrote it, it would sound better. Take for example the sentence “I bought a car today.” King might say “I bought a hearse” whereas Gaiman might write, “Odin bought a Chevy from a used car salesman.” The whole “Odin” thing makes it different. God-like. But by name dropping Chevy it’s also instantly American. And maybe that’s all you need to write the great American novel. That and cheeseburgers. Americans love cheeseburgers.

I think OCULUS represents my best work. And by best, I mean that I’ve reached a point in my writing where I no longer thought it might sound better if written by someone else. I’m not sure why we even think those things. But I think all writers do. But if it were written by someone else, then it would be theirs and not yours. I think the one thing that many writers need to embrace is that no one can write what you know better than you. That’s just the way it is.

If you wanted to see how I write, I have a short story for you. It would take 15 minutes of your time to read. That’s it. Fifteen minutes. It’s called “The Insanity of Zero,” and it tells you all that you might need to know about my books SLIPSTREAM and OCULUS. There are days when I doubt myself. But it’s not this day. Today, I think I could win you over, if you gave me fifteen minutes. The choice is yours. :)

Go here for “The Insanity of Zero” if you dare. It’s completely free!

OCULUS by Michael Offutt

Genre: Sci-fi

Book Description:

Autumn has arrived in New York, and Jordan Pendragon attends his first classes as a freshman at Cornell. Born with a brilliant mathematical mind, he balances life as a research assistant with that of a student athlete.

But Jordan also has a quest. He must find the Black Tower, a monolithic edifice housing a thing that defines the very structure of the universe. Jordan believes it is buried somewhere in Antarctica under miles of prehistoric ice.

October finds Jordan earning a starting position with the Cornell hockey team. But a dark cloud gathers over his rookie season. Unexplained deaths, whispers of a cannibal cult, a prophecy, and a stone known only as the Oculus, cast a shadow over his athletic ambitions. It is the start of a terrifying journey down a path of mystery, murder, and to a confrontation with an Evil more ancient than the stars.

About the Author:

Website | Blog | Goodreads | Twitter | Facebook | Book Art

Michael Offutt writes speculative fiction books that have science fiction, LGBT, and paranormal elements. His first book, SLIPSTREAM, has received some critical acclaim and was published by Double Dragon in the spring. The sequel, OCULUS, came out in November 2012. He has one brother, no pets, and a few roots that keep his tree of life sufficiently watered. By day, he works for the State of Utah as a Technical Specialist. By night, he watches lots of t.v., writes, draws, and sometimes dreams of chocolate.

Michael Offutt graduated from the University of Idaho in 1994 with a Bachelor's degree in English.

He keeps a blog and would appreciate a visit or two even if all you want to do is say hi.

If you think Michael's book is something you would like to read, he's put up six signed print copies of OCULUS for an international giveaway.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Also, I have been given permission to giveaway one OCULUS bookmark. This is available internationally as well. Just leave a blog post comment telling me what you thought of Michael's first book, SLIPSTREAM, or why you think Michael's books sound interesting.

Thanks go to Roxanne Rhoads at Bewitching Book Tours for organizing this blog tour!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Until Monday...

I've been pretty absent for the past week and a half. I would like to say it's been because of holiday stuff, but it hasn't. The reason I've been gone on all fronts is because I just haven't felt like doing anything.

My brain feels overworked and fried. When I try to think, it's almost as if I don't even have a brain. It's like my head is solid bone or packed very tightly with cotton. I can't even read let alone write.

However, I think all I need is a little break. I'm already starting to feel more motivated and... thoughtful today. I just need a few more days to destress and goof off.

So, since I've caught up on the last week and a half's worth of blog posts I missed, I'm taking this week off. No Internet, except perhaps the occasional email check. Of course, I'm hosting Michael Offutt on his blog tour this Friday, but that post is already set and scheduled so that won't require much more effort from me.

I'll be back next Monday to lay down my new goal system for 2013.

Until then, Happy Holidays!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Birth of a Novel 2012 - Objection Completion #4

I fail. Well, depending on your definition of "fail." I didn't complete any of my set goals this week. However, that's not to say that I didn't do anything. In fact, I feel like I did quite a lot.

I put my "shelving" binders together for ROYALLY BURNED; FOREVER, FROG; and AFTER AUSTIN. I even made a whole video about it (seen at the bottom of this post).

I finished labeling all of my posts so my blog is "perfect." Everything is in order and my brain is completely at ease.

School is in order and I feel as if I'm ready for my semester tests. I'll be getting my PSAT results any day now!

Even though I did all of these things and I'm proud to have accomplished them, I still feel kind of guilty about not completing my goals. The whole time I was working on all of these other things, the worry about not doing what I said I would niggled at me. And I didn't like it.

So. I've reached a decision.

I already planned on stopping Birth of a Novel at the beginning of the new year since I have a new goal setting system I want to try. Now though, I think this is a better stopping point.

The rest of December is for friends and family and fun. I have my best friends' birthday party to go to this weekend. Then Christmas. Then laziness because I won't be in school. ;) I don't want to be worrying about specific goals, especially since I have a habit of setting them too high. I want to enjoy the season.

I leave you with this, my last Birth of a Novel wrap-up.

    Last week's goals:
  1. Reach 37k on OBJECTION before I go to bed on Sunday. Didn't get to at all.
  2. Reach 40k on OBJECTION by next week's BoaN post. I did actually make some progress on OBJECTION. Yesterday I managed to get to 32,393 words.
  3. I will do jumping jacks for the duration of three minutes every day. I am proud to report that I completed my three minutes on Thursday, Friday, Monday, and Wednesday.

This is the song I do my jumping jacks to.

This is my shelving vlog.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Birth of a Novel 2012 - Objection Completion #3

Most of my goals I work on steadily throughout the week, but some how I never seem to quite reach the end in time. I usually scurry around to finish things up on the last day. It's one of the reasons these posts go up so late.

However, today I did not do that. Today I went to my best friend's choir concert instead. And I do not regret it. Lizzie is always supportive of my writing and it's good of me to return the favor.

It's also good of me to live. The writing can wait. My youth will not.

    Last week's goals:
  1. Reach 35k on OBJECTION. My total word count for OBJECTION is 31,661. I wrote 1,637 words this week and fell 3,339 words short. I'm disappointed that I didn't meet my goal, but at the same time, 1,637 words in a week is good for any month besides November.
  2. Finish CALL OF THE WILD by the time I go to bed on December 1st. I finished reading the novel on the fifth, four days late, but hey, I still finished. It was a pretty good read.
  3. Continue planning THE SMILE FIXER. Didn't get to at all.
  4. Write first draft summaries for THE TRUE PRINCESS and OBJECTION. I wrote half of one for THE TRUE PRINCESS, and I'm not sure if I like it.
  5. Catch up on 34/43 blogs. I've managed to completely catch up on 32/43 blogs. I didn't finish one regular posting blog and have nine posts left on the big blog.
  6. Attach labels to posts from January to March of 2011. Check. I also went ahead and did August of this year since it was only three posts. I've now relabeled 113 posts, putting me a little over a third of the way through.

This week I'm paring down. I want to focus on just one or two things. The reason I never get anything completely finished even though I work toward it, is because I'm working toward about a hundred other things. Even though I may still work on those other things, this week my sights are set squarely.

    This week's goals:
  1. Reach 37k on OBJECTION before I go to bed on Sunday. One of the problems with my non-NaNo writing goals is the whole week I have to fulfill them. This gives me the opportunity to tell myself I have plenty of time, until I don't anymore. I'm hoping this midpoint deadline will push me to write without stressing me out.
  2. Reach 40k on OBJECTION by next week's BoaN post. This will put me back on track and make up for this week's indiscretion.
  3. I will do jumping jacks for the duration of three minutes every day. As you may remember, one of my New Year's Resolutions was to exercise every week. For the past few months, I've been failing miserably. But I'm trying again. In fact, after I finish up this post, I will be doing my three minutes for the second day in a row!

Monday, December 03, 2012

Letting Your Brain Babies Go

I started writing my first "real novel" when I was in third grade. My mother had put one of my birthday presents in her closet and forgotten about it. It was a journal. Upon discovering it two months later, she gave it to me.

Thus, it began.

This must have been around the time I was into ERAGON because I determined to write about a dragon. Her name was Diamond and she was black, hence the title BLACK DIAMOND. I dove into it without any real thought, being eight years old. I worked on it periodically now and then and slowly a bit of a plot and other dragon characters started to appear.

Years went by and I started it over about four or five times, never finishing a full draft. The "novel" evolved. Eventually, my story gained human characters.

In seventh grade, I started writing poetry and spending time on the Neopets writer forum. There I learned about NaNoWriMo.

Thus, other things began.

I finished my first draft of THE LULLABY, reveled in this first time accomplishment, then went back to my old story, now entitled RUBIES AND SILVER. I had begun to put at least some thought into my stories by then and the idea occurred to me that I could somehow connect the two novels. Later I, luckily, vetoed this idea.

More time passed and I started rewriting THE LULLABY and contemplating THINKING OF YOU. My friend of old had fallen to the wayside and this worried me. I went to great lengths to revive it, reworking major parts of the story, though keeping the same characters and main conflict. It became ROYALLY BURNED. You may remember me mentioning it.

You may also remember that I've never really, really done anything with it. Sure, I planned out a whole continent and attempted to start drafting, but that's not much, not enough. ROYALLY BURNED doesn't grasp me like my newer stories, doesn't hold the same appeal. I'm essentially beating a dead horse.

But... I'm scared to let go of my very first characters. In a way, I still love them, still smile when I occasionally think about those long-ago-written scenes.

However, it's time to let it go.

And not just ROYALLY BURNED. There are two other ideas I'm shelving, at least for the near future: FOREVER, FROG and AFTER AUSTIN.

You may remember when I started the first draft for FOREVER, FROG and failed miserably. I don't know if I've ever mentioned AFTER AUSTIN in a post, but it's been up on my Projects page. They're intended to be verse companion novels.

There are a few reasons I'm dropping them.

First, as with ROYALLY BURNED, they're just not speaking to me. They haven't in a long time. I never fleshed them out, especially AUSTIN, and that might be the source of it. However, I have too many other stories to focus on at the moment to try.

Second, I don't know if I can write a verse novel. I can write poetry, and I can write novels so I don't see why I couldn't write a combination of them. Something just feels off about it. I normally wouldn't let the challenge stop me, it's always an adventure to step out of your comfort zone, but that's a project I would need to focus all of my attention on, and I just can't do that right now.

Most importantly, I'm not ready to write about these subject matters, mainly child kidnapping/molestation and rape. I don't know why I ever thought I could tackle them. They're too big for me, especially at this stage in my life. I've been thinking perhaps I could work these stories in a different angle, away from these topics, but again, that would take time I don't have right now. Maybe in a year or two.

To make a clean break with these stories, I'm going to go through all of my writing files and find the bits and pieces that relate to them. Then I'm going to buy some grey binders, just as these novels are now displayed in grey on my Projects page, and fill them with those odds and ends. Then I'll put them away, up in my closet, though I may never completely forget about them.

Have you ever had to shelve a project, temporarily or otherwise?