Shoot for the Moon 2017 Challenge – How Did I Do?


Mhairi Simpson, and I, once again, set ourselves a series of ambitious writing-related goals when 2017 was only a couple of days old. How well did I do in meeting these targets?

• Rewrite Miranda’s Tempest after receiving excellent advice on how to improve the storyline.
I finally managed to get this rewritten, including a change in the point of view from first person to third person, and sent back during the summer. In the beginning of August, I got another long, detailed email listing the main problem areas where I could further improve it. So far I haven’t managed to get to it – but it is high on my list for early 2018.

• Edit Dying for Space and Breathing Space
I duly tightened up Dying for Space to my satisfaction, but although I had another go at Breathing Space, I’m still not completely happy with the narrative arc and plan to have a drastic pruning session to see if I can smooth out the pacing in the first third of the book, before publishing it in summer 2018.

• Write the first draft of Bloodless, my space opera crime novel, featuring Elizabeth Wright, my protagonist who features in The Sunblinded Trilogy.
Nope. Didn’t get close to this one as I was tied up with the rewrites of Miranda’s Tempest and later in the year, I also made a drastic change to Running Out of Space and Dying for Space ridiculously close to the publication date which further messed up my writing schedule. So this is another major task that needs to be completed in 2018 if I am to sustain my self-publishing schedule.

• Complete Picky Eaters
And this is another project that didn’t see the light of day and one I intend to get completed during 2018. Apart from anything else, the grandchildren are keen for this one to be published and given my other books aren’t age appropriate, I’d really like to get it out there for them.

• Continue submitting my work
My more professional approach to the submission process paid dividends as in January 2017 I was offered a contract for Netted by Grimbold Publishing. I am thrilled – they are a small outfit, but so passionate about the books they publish. They are like a family, with a strong and continuing interest in the authors they work with and I have huge respect for the quality of the work they release. Netted is due to be published in 2019.

In addition, I was asked to submit a short story to be included in a Grimbold Publishing anthology Holding On By Our Fingertips. I was delighted when ‘A Dire Emergency’ was accepted and will be published alongside a number of excellent writers in the first half of 2018.

• Self publish a novel
And in October, I finally released Running Out of Space. It has garnered a few reviews, all positive and in December I published the sequel, Dying for Space. I am thrilled every time someone drops me a line to tell me how much they enjoyed reading the books. I’m guessing that is an emotion that never gets old.


• Write at least 100 reviews for my blog
This year I read 175 books and wrote 162 reviews, though not all of them have been published yet. I have now got my act together regarding Netgalley arcs and throughout most of 2017 I have managed to achieve an 80% feedback ratio. In another post, I will further discuss the books I read in 2017. I’m really pleased I have managed to sustain my reading and blogging as I thoroughly enjoy being involved in the lovely #bookbloggers community, discussing books I’ve read and swapping recommendations.

• Propose and plan Creative Writing courses for the academic year 2016/17
I am delighted that since the merger with Brighton Metropolitan College last year, the Adult Learning Dept at Northbrook has had a new lease of life. My Creative Writing classes this last year have all been successful and well attended. I’m really pleased, because this is the loveliest teaching job on the planet – teaching a subject I love to the nicest bunch of folks you could wish to meet.

• Continue teaching TW
What an amazing year! We were quite daunted at the start of the year as trying to find a suitable syllabus that would be a good fit for Tim’s specific abilities was a major challenge. And once we found the subjects, we then had a battle getting hold of past papers and a suitably extensive teaching programme as despite the fact Tim is fully funded by County, we weren’t formally recognised as an official learning centre. However, it all fell into place in time for Tim to take and pass a couple of music and singing exams, which he passed with flying colours. He also passed his first formal English exam with a very high percentage. And in March we took the decision to film the script he had been working on for the previous three months – and it turned into a whirlwind…

By the end of November, we had all thirteen songs professionally recorded in a studio and the filming completed – with a cast of twenty-three, shot in a variety of locations, including Bognor pier, the museum, a shop and a local college. Tim repeatedly was pushed beyond his comfort zone as he had to respond to a number of deadlines and react to unexpected problems. He is now in the throes of editing it with the help of the videographer and we are hoping it will be ready to be shown at a local cinema sometime in the summer. I still can’t quite believe we managed it…

• Continue to improve my fitness
It was a year of two halves. I was doing so well with this up until the summer, when I was slimmer and stronger than I’ve been for years. But it was a gruelling summer and I was zapped by flu in October – probably because I was very, very tired. It wiped me out for nearly a month. The result was that I only attend my a Fitstep and Pilates class for three sessions last term. You won’t be surprised to hear that the weight has started piling back on and I am finding a number of my favourite clothes are uncomfortably snug. So I need to get back to exercising and hopefully going on walks with my husband.

Overall, it has been probably my most successful year so far, when long hours of sustained work started to pay off. The irony was that Himself was in real trouble with his job and from March through to December, we weren’t sure if he would be able to keep it. Fortunately, the review board found in his favour – but throughout that time, we didn’t know if he would prevail. So in the middle of all these successes, we were busy trying to keep our anxiety on a leash. I’m fervently hoping that 2018 is a kinder year personally and that I fulfil most of my targets I’ve set for my Shoot for the Moon Challenge 2018, which I will be discussing at the beginning of February.

In the meantime, what about you? Did you set yourself any 2017 challenges and how do you feel they went?

19 responses »

  1. As far as I could tell, Sarah, you had an AMAZING year in terms of creative output and good news, between two books self-published and another under contract. But it also goes to show that sometimes other projects have to get pushed to the backburner, but those delays are only temporary. Once Breathing Space and Miranda’s Tempest are in better shape, I hope you’re able to find time to tackle the other manuscripts you want to work.

    It was also a lot of fun to hear about Tim’s progress during the year. You and his family must be so proud of him! 🙂

    I have to agree that 2017 was a stressful year personally, though I know I freely shared some of the sources (creativity, self-confidence) and was vague about others. (It was mostly related to my day job – which I choose not to discuss online for, well, reasons.) But now that we’re both looking back on our individual years, I think we can both be relieved over what has passed, hopeful for the future, and convinced that we’ve come out stronger in the end.

    Wishing you nothing but the best for 2018, Sarah! I look forward to learning how you’ll shoot for the moon goal-wise… though after reading this post, I think I already know what many of those goals might be. 😉

    • Thank you Sara – as usual, you’ve got to the heart of the matter:). I hope your issues with work are now sorted out – having to deal with ‘office politics’ is always utterly miserable. No wonder you were feeling undermined!
      Hopefully 2018 will be an easier year emotionally and we can both move forward in our writing. Thank you for your kind encouragement.x

  2. This is all incredibly successful! I’m envious–I can barely find the time to read 20 books, write their reviews, and do any other writing. But that’s my 2018 goal – write more!

    • Thank you! Yes… writing more is on my 2018 list – I seem to have spent the last 2 years doing little else other than editing and rewrites. To be honest, I’d love a writing clone, but I’ve tried my hardest to wish for one in the past and it’s never happened:). Happy New Year to you.

    • Yes… though given my fondness for Christmas cake and Christmas pudding, I definitely need to dive back into my fitness regime this month! Hope you are able to grapple with your own fitness regime.

  3. Sounds like you did well with most of your goal.s Isn’t it nice to look back at a year and see what you accomplished. You did great with your writing and publishing related goals. I am wondering now what the picky eaters project is, is it a book for kids? That’s great news your husband was able to keep his job, that must be stressful to be so uncertain about that. I hope 2018 will be a great year for you!

    • Thank you, Lola:). Picky Eaters is a bit odd… It’s a fantasy novella about a grumpy grandfather dragon forced to look after his dragonet grandchildren while his daughter goes off on a mating flight. They don’t like the tinned food he offers them (seared knights in armour) and go off foraging for free range snacks for themselves, with disastrous consequences… It was a published short story years ago and I’ve made it longer. As you may have gathered, it’s not completely suitable for younger children – but my 13 year old granddaughter has heard it and loves it and keeps nagging me to finish it off and publish it. Which I’ve promised to do…
      Thank you for your kind good wishes – I’m hoping that we can now move forward without all the uncertainty! May 2018 be awesome for all of us:).

  4. I think you did brilliant in 2017, Sarah! Even if you didn’t manage to reach all of your goals, this was mostly (from what I can see) due to external or changing circumstances, and you handled them so well, responding and finding solutions rather than giving up.

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