Goals: April 2018

I thought I was being clever by keeping my March goals short and sweet, but even so, I struggled to meet them. Sometimes life just gets too busy and it’s hard to stay on top of everything. The big wrench in the works for March was my Alaska Essays project, which I had thought was nearly done, but then late in the game needed another revision. For a book of nearly 150,000 words, another revision is a big deal and quite a few hours of work. I guess that’s what I get for leaping to the conclusion that it might be done.

Anyway, my exact goals for March were:

  • FINISH DAUGHTER of FORTUNE REWRITE: No check. I made progress, but I did not finish. I guess it will roll over into April.
  • FORMATTING PROJECT- No check. This one got cancelled entirely.
  • FINISH ALASKA ESSAYS- No check. I did, however, make solid progress on a final and unexpected revision.
  • FINISH LIGHT AND SHADOW TWEAKS/READ THROUGH and SEND TO BEAT READER(S) CHECK! At least I got one.

April Goals:

  • FINISH DAUGHTER of FORTUNE REWRITE: One could say the saga continues.
  • ALASKA ESSAYS: I like to think I’ve learned my lesson about using the word “finish.”
  • APPLY LIGHT & SHADOW feedback and prep for publishing in May!

If you haven’t checked out my first co-written book, River Running, writing as Eden Reign with Tamara Shoemaker, you can get it here.

RRfinalMASTER11.23.18 ebook

 

 

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March 2018 : Goals

Ugh, February. It’s such a short, difficult month. I’m glad to see it go, but sad that I did not perform very well on my goals. The good news is I got a puppy, which always makes everything better.

Shadow the border collie mix is a loyal, curious, utterly devoted little sweetheart. He is currently sitting in my lap as I write this blog post. He has good balance and a particular ability to insert himself into laps unexpectedly.

shads.jpg

Last month I over ambitiously thought I could do all this despite the distraction of that adorable puppy face:

  • DAUGHTER of FORTUNE REWRITE- HALF-CHECK? I got about halfway through this revision. I’ll plod on through it next month.
  • FORMATTING PROJECT- QUARTER-CHECK? It’s coming in slowly, in bits and pieces. It will also roll over into next month.
  • ALASKA ESSAYS-CHECK! The draft is now out for review with the principle players. The deadline for final revisions is March 20th, which means the project really should be drawing to a close by the end of March!
  • LIGHT AND SHADOW TWEAKS-HALF-CHECK: I got about halfway through this one, too.

I DID do a revision with Tamara on one of our Eden Reign projects (The Eighth Octave) and we prepped for publication for River Running. If you’d like to read more about that, head over to Eden Reign’s March goals blog.

Next month I’ll be playing catch up on everything that I did not finish this month.

March Goals:

  • FINISH DAUGHTER of FORTUNE REWRITE
  • FORMATTING PROJECT
  • FINISH ALASKA ESSAYS
  • FINISH LIGHT AND SHADOW TWEAKS/READ THROUGH and SEND TO BEAT READER(S)

 

Eden Reign’s River Running comes out March 6th. You can still pre-order!

RRfinalMASTER11.23.18 ebook

 

 

The Top Ten Books I read in 2017

I went into 2017 aiming to read diverse fiction books and non-fiction. I definitely read diverse books, though I failed to read many from earlier eras.

I also set out with the idea that I was going to use my reading as an escape. I’d been feeling pretty down at the end of 2016 after Election Day. My therapy for my disappointment was reading whatever I wanted during 2017.

Looking back over the books that really left an impression on me in 2017, it turns out most of them weren’t escape reads, though I did read quite a few I would consider as such.

As ever, my reading list is comprised of books I read in 2017, not necessarily books published in 2017. See my entire 2017 reading challenge here.

My stats:

Total books read: 103

Total pages: 36,334

Books by men: 36

Books by women: 63

Anthologies or co-authored works: 4

Fiction: 78

Non-fiction: 23

Poetry: 2

Indie-pubbed: 10

Books by minorities or people of color: 21

Books from 21st Century: 92

Books from 20th Century: 9

Books from other centuries: 2

My Top Ten, in no particular order:

1) The Moral Arc by Michael Shermer (2014): At its heart this is a hopeful book, and I read it at a time when I needed hope. I appreciated Shermer’s ambitious attempt to offer a philosophy of morality based in science and reason, although I do think at times he neglected to account for the darker angels of our nature in favor of focusing on the better ones.

2) Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari (2011, 2014): In a year when “science” faced political and popular opposition, Sapiens stood out as a proudly scientific book full of interesting information about the history of Homo sapiens. I appreciated the information, but not always the tone of this book, which sometimes slipped into somewhat dismissive or over-generalized musings. That said, the profound and thought-provoking examination of the human species was worth the irritation. I also read the next book by this author, Homo Deus, in which he tries to predict the future of humanity, but I think he was at his best when firmly grounded in evidence, without so much speculation.

3) Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi (2016): One reason I love fiction is how a story unfolds on so many levels. This book is a beautiful example of layers—layers of time and history and memory and experience and how they come together to create a character’s story. This was one of those precious books in which the total effect was more than the sum of its parts. I don’t rank this list, but if I did, Homegoing would be in the spot of #1 for my 2017 reads.

4) The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben: After the self-important voices of The Moral Arc and Sapiens, The Hidden Life of Trees offered a delightful alternative in my non-fiction science reading. This was a book of passion, written by a forester with a profound relationship with his trees. I found myself utterly caught up in his joy and excitement as I read about the fascinating lives of trees. A breath of fresh air!

5) Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson (2014): This book came highly recommended, but I was a little worried about reading it. I was already feeling a little bruised and battered by trying to talk about racism in America with what I’ll call racism “deniers.” I feared reading this book would only make me sadder. However, Just Mercy armed me with more concrete information, which is always helpful. I read this back-to-back with Ibram X. Kendi’s Stamped from the Beginning. The two books taken together provided me with a deeper understanding of America’s enduring shame.

6) Missoula by Jon Krakauer (2105): I’ll read anything by Jon Krakauer. I appreciate his accessible approach and his genuine curiosity as he examines diverse topics. In the case of Missoula, I did fear the heavy subject matter (rape) was likely to depress me again in a social climate exploding with the misogyny that led to 2017’s #metoo scandals. But Krakauer did a fine job with this book, using a specific case of one city to show problems in how we attempt to deal with rape in our culture. I was a little startled that he his posited himself as unaware of the magnitude of this problem, but if one thing has come out of 2017’s turmoil, I’d hope it’s that no one is left unaware that one in four women experience sexual assault in their lifetime.

7) The Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman (2015): This was a fun read that blended the best of fantasy and Regency romance. I picked it up on a lark at the library because I liked the cover, and it turned out to be one of those books I simply couldn’t put down, right on through the next book in the series and a related novella. I look forward to the third installment.

8) An Ember in the Ashes/A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir (2016, 2017): This is the unfinished fantasy series keeping me on tenterhooks, supplanting Games of Thrones and The Name of the Wind as the top “next installment” that I will devour in one night when it finally is released. Ember in the Ashes has it all: an exciting story, deep world-building, juicy intrigues, epic familial drama, diverse and dimensional characters, and a slow-burning romance with a love triangle. The only trouble is the release date for Book Three keeps getting moved further out…Sabaa, please. Stop listening to all that music and get that book written!

9) His Bloody Project by Graeme Macrae Burnet (2015): This was another serendipitous find at the library, a random book I picked out for no particular reason except that I felt like reading a historical novel with a touch of mystery. I found a well-written mind-bender of a story that held me captive from start to finish. Thought-provoking, chilling, and intense, it transported me back in time in the same way Alias Grace, by Margaret Atwood did, years ago.

10) We Were Eight Years in Power by Ta-Nehisi Coates (2017): Ta-Nehisi Coates does not write to make you feel comfortable or hopeful, nor to provide solutions. But he’s a thoughtful writer, concerned with exposing the interior of his mind in the most precise way he can. I appreciate his embrace of the essay form and his painstaking explication of his thought process and his experience, and how the personal relates to the political in understanding racism in America. Reading Ta-Nehisi Coates asks you to listen in the deep way that only reading can train you to do.

Goals : April : 2017

It’s time to review and post goals for another month. I was smart last month and kept my goals simple:

  1. FINISH  Mage & Source  revision. CHECK–I did this and sent to Tamara Shoemaker for line edits. That’s a relief.
  2. START musical magic co-write. CHECK–this is going very well. Tamara and I have nearly created a very rough draft for the entire book. We estimate 2-4 more chapters, plus an epilogue.
  3. READ through newly revised River Running and send to beta readers. CHECK–this one is off with a beta reader right now.

I’m going to keep it simple for April, too:

  1. LIGHT & SHADOW (ToB&L 5) revision and rewriting.
  2. FINISH draft of musical magic co-write.
  3. ODDS & ENDS (this includes working on some editing and formatting projects for others, mainly).

Goals : March : 2017

February seemed to pass too quickly! Even so, it is a great relief to have the days growing longer and to see the sun a little in the morning and the evening.

Though I worked and worked, I didn’t quite manage all my goals this past month, due in part to work and to transportation difficulties caused by landslides. Both of these sucked up some of my writing mornings. I had to let my last two goals go by the wayside entirely just to make any progress on my first two.

February goals:

  1. FINISH ToB&L Book 6 revision. CHECK, although the end is still one big snarl.
  2. REVISE Mage & Source based on new reader feedback. HALF-CHECK. I worked and worked on this and got about two-thirds through. I ended up doing more rewriting than expected.
  3. START musical magic co-write. NOPE
  4. READ through newly revised River Running and send to beta readers. NOPE

March Goals:

I’ll be keeping it simple in March as last month I obviously planned for more than I could manage.

  1. FINISH  Mage & Source  revision.
  2. START musical magic co-write.
  3. READ through newly revised River Running and send to beta readers.

 

 

 

January 2017 Goals

I ushered out 2017 with a big, long migraine headache yesterday, during which I accomplished very little. I meant to make some progress on one of my December goals and that did not happen. I can’t say I’m sad to see 2016 go–towards the end there it felt like a real slog. There have been many external world issues that have intruded on my writing mind this year, especially this winter, mostly in the form of mental depression, although the noisy construction project next door hasn’t helped, either. Thank goodness for noise-canceling headphones and music or I’d get nothing done.

I don’t generally like to post my yearly goals, since it feels like too long a time frame for realistic projection of my capabilities, so I will stick with my monthly goals.

Last month I planned to:

  1. FINISH ToB&L Book 5 LIGHT & SHADOW revision. NOPE! I made good progress but I still have several chapter to go to have a finished draft. This one will have to roll over to next month. The good news is that I have have a solid outline for the remaining chapters, finally.
  2. LIGHT Mage & Source revision. CHECK! It’s ready for my next set of readers and I’m sending it off to them today.
  3. BRAINSTORMING: CHECK! Tamara and I spent several days and nights brainstorming our next co-write. I’m very excited about this one. It involves music and magic in an old world/eastern Europe setting.
  4. Other. CHECK! I completed some formatting odd jobs and finished a beta read for Nancy Chenier’s YA fantasy Dragon Sprite.

 

Goals for January 2017:

  1. FINISH ToB&L Book 5 revision–this time for real!
  2. REVISE River Running with Tamara based on beta reader feedback. We have a master document all set up with the revisions we need to make.
  3. START musical magic co-write: This is a tentative goal, as both Tamar and I want to finish our goals #1 for this month before we begin this project.
  4. Other. This seems like a good goal category to keep. I’m sure I’ll have more other to report at the end of the month.

November Goals

As I sit down to write my November Goals, I am struck by how very dark it is outside. We’ve had rain for almost a week here in Northern California, a feat that hasn’t occured in years, and I find the dark, wet mornings are perfect for writing. They make me feel quite inspired. I wish this weather could go on for longer! Alas, both the darkness and the wetness will go, as we change our clocks next weekend and the weather pattern is already shifting.

My October Goals were:

  1.  ToB&L Book 5 revision. CHECK.I finished this much faster than the actual draft-writing.
  2. Begin ToB&L Book 5 revision. I’m in the thick if this right now. CHECK.
  3. Other CHECK. I worked on plenty of “other” last month. First, I formatted a box set for Margaret Locke. Second, I did a global read through on Beth Deitchman’s latest fantasy novel. Third, I finished line edits on Mark A. King’s Metropolitan Dreams. And fourth, I began a global read through of Tamara Shoemaker’s final Heart of A Dragon book, Unleash the Inferno!

My November goals are:

  1. Continue ToB&L Book 5 revision.
  2. NANOWRIMO I’m participating as one half of a co-writing team (with Tamara Shoemaker) in National Novel Writing Month. We are writing a fantasy romance book set in a Reconstruction Era-ish setting with a magic system that involves the elements and … indigo. My goal is to add words every day, with a target of about 1500 or more per day.
  3. Other. This seems like a good goal category to keep. I’m sure I’ll have more other to report at the end of the month.