New Years Goals 2019 #AmWriting

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Hello folks! How are you? Once again, I have managed to neglect this blog. There’s been a few more changes this last year personally for me and again, it is my Twitter that I am turning to rather than here.

The world seems to have gone that bit more insane this last year, what with Trump still in the White House (somehow!) and Brexit turning into a bit of a mess shall we say. This time next year, the UK will have left the EU but whether it will be with a bad deal or no deal remains to be seen. The UK has had the Beast from the East and a scorcher of a summer. Both caused trouble, giving us Brits plenty to talk about in relation to our favourite subject: the weather! We’ve had a royal birth, 2 royal weddings, the English became convinced football was coming home and once again had their dreams crushed. The world also lost an icon of pop culture in Stan Lee, a man whose work was loved by millions around the world and probably encouraged some of them to become the creators of the future.

With all that in mind, it feels right that my success and failure in completing my 2018 goals was very much mixed:

1) Write something at least once a week, every week.

Not a complete success on this one but that’s not been a bad thing. My yearly target was 38,000 words and I have written 52,320 words overall. I cleared my target for the year in September despite having missed some weeks and taking a break in the same month. I also succeeded in writing every single day of November, so I could get all the challenge badges for consecutive writing days.

I ended up taking a break because I was experiencing burnout. I suspect it was because I had been working on the Steampunk Dragon Rider WIP, a project had developed quick in a few months and is in a genre I don’t have too much experience in. I needed to step back and recharge my creative energies. I don’t normally do this but I reached out to a writerly friend of mine, @Draebox on Twitter, who gave me some advice and made a video about the question:

I came back from the break stronger. It helped me work out what I needed to do. I will elaborate when I get to goal 4. Like last year, I have been reviewing and occasionally adjusting my targets every 3 months to help me keep writing even when things in RL have got busy needed to take priority. Any adjustments have always been down to enable me to create a buffer should I need it later in the year. This has worked a treat as it took the pressure off me for the last 3 months of the year (very busy ones for me).

Looking ahead to 2019, again I will be keeping this goal. Not because I didn’t succeed but because it works for me.

2) Keep this blog active, somehow.

Yeah, this is a big fat FAIL! I think I know why I have not succeeded on this one for two years straight: it is simply not achievable for me. At least, not right now. Writing and life and other personal stuff means that even taking 10 minutes to write on my blog even once a week with a writing update that I use to do is just not possible for me it seems.

I have started using an app/website called Habitica in recent months that lets you set goals and tick them off as you achieve them. You can set goals to reoccur at certain intervals and I am tempted to put a blogging daily on that is set to occur even just once a month but looking at life and how I have not managed this goal for two years makes me think it would be a waste of time.

With that in mind, I think it is time I retired this goal. It is not possible for me. I will just have to hope that I can at least be doing something on this blog when I have a chance I guess. In time, if life allows me, I will try to return to regular blogging.

3) Read more and finish books

Whilst not a complete success, I have at least been reading comics and some books. Granted I have also had to check GoodReads to see what I have read this year. Mostly comics rather than books but I have at least been reading and I will take it, all things considered. Rather than reading, I have been watching a lot more YouTube videos and gaming more. I have recently started playing Persona 5 and it’s story is incredible. I feel I can learn a lot from it about pacing but I also think I need to be putting the game controller down and reading more.

Going forward into 2019, I think I am going to adjust this one to simply read more.

4) Continue to work on the Dark Witch and Dragon Rider projects.

This one is definitely a success because I have been working on both projects all year, flicking between them. That isn’t to say that there has not been problems or that I haven’t been writing Destiny fan fiction.

I mentioned above about having to take a break due to the work and nature of the Dragon Rider project. The break though served me very well as I realised that I needed to step back from the Dragon Rider project and it made me see what I needed to do on the Dark Witch project (known as the Hallie WIP on Twitter).

The Hallie WIP was in a mess and all over the place because of how it had developed since even January of last year. I had to stop writing and do some planning, replotting and world building. I have also been writing stuff that takes place later on in the timeline for the characters. This helped solidify and understand who these characters were and their eventual place in the world. In turn, I know what I needed to do and how to remould the characters for the very start of their journey. This has helped me when I made a fresh start on the project for November NaNoWriMo. That fresh start has been a slight slog but I know the WIP is stronger and better for it.

As part of the world building when I have not been writing the WIP, I have began learning Welsh. Why? Well, the WIP has lost at least some of it’s Steampunk-ish feel, taken on an Arthurian Legends base and I am using the basic Welsh version of the story to help me. This also led me to realise therefore that the language of magic in the world is Welsh. I know it seems crazy to be learning it purely for a story but I want to make sure everything is right when the characters speak it.

The Hallie WIP has been my main focus for 8 months of the year. The other 4 have been taken up by the Dragon Rider one.

From a plot bunny that bit me and refused to let go of me in November 2017, this one has developed from a barely coherent story, plot and world building into something more solid. It does mean that, like the Hallie WIP, there is some mess and disjointedness but at the same time, this one also feels like it has developed and settled much faster once the work was put into it. I also feel that, unlike the Hallie one which could run on a bit, this one is more finite (and shorter!). With that in mind, I think I do have time to be working on the Steampunk aspect to make sure it is ingrained in the story rather than window dressing. The story I feel could take care of itself (with a bit more planning).

I am therefore keeping this goal obviously and hopefully, both will be much further along this time next year.

My goals for the next year are as follows then:

1) Write Something, once a week, every week.

2) Read more.

3) Continue to work on the Steampunk Dragon Rider WIP and the Hallie/Dark Witch WIP.

How has your 2018 been? Successful? Mixed? Otherwise? Feel free to comment below.

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New Years Goals 2017 #SundayBlogShare #Writing

Happy 2017 folks! Hope you had a great Christmas and New Year!

New Years always brings a flurry of hope and optimism with them. After the last year, I think we all need it! This optimism leads to people making resolutions and promises to themselves and others. If you have been around here long enough, you will know I don’t do resolutions. I break them the moment I make them! Instead, I set myself goals I want to achieve. These are either for my own well-being or in the interests of improving my writing.

To say the least, I have had limited success with the goals I set myself last year.

Try to write something every day or every week. Writing every day is not easy. I was either being too lazy or life was taking too much of a priority. Looking at my spreadsheets, it shows that, on average, I wasn’t writing 11 days each month. I was achieving my word counts most months, until I gave myself a new word count after achieving it. This was a short sighted move. I ended the year with a deficit of 4,848 words. I am still proud of that when I compare it to 12,700 word one I went into November NaNoWriMo with.

It hasn’t been all bad on this front. I have been reviewing my word goals every three months. This has proven helpful. It made me reset some of them because of life and how that was going to impact on my writing. This is something I wouldn’t have done without the Word Nerds talking about it in their videos.

Post once a week, every week on this blog. Partial success again that fell by the wayside at the end of the year. I did achieve this, putting November and December aside. I was writing or reblogging something roughly once a week.

Read more. Uh, yeah. I am calling this one a failure. I did read stuff, like the Rivers of London comics and started reading books but did I finish them? Not many. Going by my GoodReads Reading Challenge, I set myself a target of 25 books and read 23. Some were rereads, like Doctor Who Writers Tale: The Final Chapter, quite a few were comics, like Kingsman and Green Arrow New 52 Vol. 1, then there were indie books like Witch At Heart and Preternatural Affairs. So a mix and I did complete some books but I still feel like that I just didn’t read enough or finish enough books.

Participate in as many writing/National Novel Writing Month events as possible. Done and dusted on the NaNoWriMo front but definitely not on the writing event front. I participated in the DraeBox Writers Club challenge, which was a lot of fun. I will be again this year and I am looking forward to it. I am not resetting this goal for this year though. Instead I am replacing it.

Reason being, I think the universe has been trying to say something. Few recent experiences have made me think this. Firstly, I was talking with good friends of mine about drafting. We noted that we seem to always be starting or restarting drafts but never finishing them.

Secondly, I have been seeing tweets about committing to finishing 1 draft of a manuscript in 2017. It’s just typical I can’t find any of them now. This is what got me considering this new goal.

Thirdly, as I was writing this and reflecting on the past year, I realised something. I have spent more time on just one story than I have done in a long time. That story is the dark witch story. I have had some detours but I have always gone back to this one.

Spending so long on it, talking with friends and seeing the tweets have made me want to get at least one draft done. I want to be able to say I have finished something.

So my goals for 2017 are:

  1. Write something at least once a week, every week.
  2. Post once a week, every week on this blog.
  3. Read more and finish books.
  4. Complete at least one draft of one story.

What goals are you setting or pursuing this year? Had any luck with your goals or resolutions last year? Wishing you all the best for 2017!

#Writing Update

d7a3e-writingWord Count: 1,137 words

Nothing much to tell. Most of what I have written is redrafting of some writing I did last Sunday on the WAY On The Go app which failed to send to my e-mail address once more. I am starting to wonder if it just does not work on Kindle. So it’s only been my characters finally becoming a couple that has happened.

On the other hand, I have done some thinking and it is mostly surrounding a potential new idea for Camp in April and maybe some rewriting or the continuing of writing of other past NaNoWriMo stories. Camp is the place to do rewrites I think, at least for the first few drafts when it’s major changes being done. Of course, this is just my opinion.

The first story under consideration is my November 2014 hotel story with the witch and the werewolf. The direction of the story differed from my original thinking and I think that was the story’s undoing. I would like to go back and rewrite that story, if only to follow the original story idea.

The other is my July 2015 story about the witch from the dark family background. The only reason I stopped writing it is because I needed a break I think, along with the Post-NaNo Blues. I may completely rewrite the story as certain aspects kept changing and I never fully ironed out. Since I’ve had a break and whilst I was writing the story that took place years later, I realised that there was character stuff that needed changing and completely redoing.

Another reason I been thinking about it is because I have bought an etiquette book, reproduced from the 1800’s, for general research as I’ve noticed a lot of my writing lately has required me to think about or research etiquette and deportment among other things for stories. Having a go to guide on hand hopefully will help, especially with my July 2015 idea.

If course I still have nearly two months to think about and decide, as well as the fact I still have the new idea to flesh out and consider. In the meanwhile, I do have my current writing to be doing. Hopefully it will be a little more successful this next week. How’s your writing going? What do you think of the idea that Camp is a good place for rewriting or continuing old stories? Are you thinking about Camp yet or am I thinking too far ahead? Do comment below.

Writing only looks easy. But it can be learned.

Some great words of advice here. Never throw away your old stuff. Keep everything. Maybe, in the future, you can go back to it and realise you can use or recycle some of it.

Matthew Wright

Writing isn’t something you can sit down and do without training. It only looks that way.

Spot my title in the middle... Spot my title in the middle…

I’ve noticed, of late, various posts and comments around the blog-o-sphere along the lines of ‘my book is good, because I got positive comments on Good Reads (or Amazon, or Smashwords), so why did an agent say it was terrible?’

Or ‘I got positive comments on Good Reads, but the agent said the book needed this-and-this-and-this…’

Why? There’s no soft way to say this. Fact is that neither writer nor on-line reviewer actually knew what constituted a good book – meaning not just an abstract measure of quality and authorial competence, but what’s required for a specific market.

Agents do. So do commissioning editors.

What’s happened is that the aspiring writer’s sat down and thought ‘I want to be a writer’ – usually, meaning ‘novellist’. They’ve then churned out…

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Social Media for Writers

I’ve found this excellent web page to help writers to make the most of social media networks to promote themselves and their work, looking at each of the big websites and how writers can use them to their advantage. You can have a read of it here: http://www.publishingcrawl.com/2014/01/22/making-the-most-of-social-networks-as-a-writer/

It doesn’t include ALL the  different social media websites, like Google+, in the main article but have a look in the comments where  Google+ is discussed and all the websites are compared.

Book Review: The Good Thief’s Guide to Vegas by Chris Ewan

The Good Thief‘s Guide to Vegas is the third book in this series and follows Charlie Howard, part time mid list novelist, part time thief,  as he heads for Las Vegas, USA, following events in Paris. No sooner has he arrived is he pick pocketing a poor sucker at a roulette table for his wallet and checking out a magic show. The wallet happens to belong to the magician, Josh Masters, who takes quite a liking to Charlie’s agent, Victoria. Charlie isn’t one to hold a grudge but decides to use the key card he finds in the wallet to have a look round Master’s suite. Unfortunately, that’s when things start to go wrong, not least of all discovering a dead body in the bath tub…

This novel is great fun, written in the first person with wit and humour, and features everything that has come to be expected of Ewan. The series can be read out of sequence (I really need to read the other books!) as very little of the storytelling really relies on past events in previous books. All the characters are full of surprises and keeps you grip from page to page. The events in the books can be a little confusing if you are unaware of Vegas’s strip layout (even after watching over a hundred episodes of CSI:LV), especially the story takes place (mainly!) in two fictional hotels however that disorientation isn’t enough to break the suspension of disbelief and Ewan does explain the location of them at the end of the novel as an author’s note. The events and actions of the characters keep ramping up the danger the characters are in, especially Victoria reveals that she hasn’t been all that honest when playing the tables.  There are also a lot of surprises and twists and turns, making the solution to everything that has happened an enjoyable and satisfying ending.

This instalment is very much aimed at an adult audience as the themes of gambling, threat of death, betrayal, prostitution and sex are extremely prevalent. This might seem like an odd thing to note considering the novel is set in Las Vegas, the city of sin, but the story itself could easily appeal late teens and young adults who might not necessarily like having these sorts of themes so in their face. Of course, society often brings these issues into the public forum and many people read to escape that reality which makes this novel rather gritty and these themes not necessarily appropriate and/or wanted in a novel such as this.

As a rule, I don’t tend to look at reviews before reading a book or seeing a film but, whilst writing this, I have read reviews on GoodReads and Amazon which indicate that this book a bit like Marmite: either you really enjoy it and take the book as part of an excellent series by Chris Ewan or you hate it because the plot is holey and/or the characters are underdeveloped and/or the writing a little rambling. (I would note that the rambling might be down to the fact that the novel is written in first person and Charlie ends up exhausted which often leads to rambling).

In general though, I do like this book, it’s story and how well Ewan utilises his chosen location. It is definitely an adult book and can be read as a one off or part of the series. For me, I intend to track down the other books and get reading. I might end up doing reviews on those books in the future too.