Tag Archives: ambitious writing targets

Shoot for the Moon 2017 Challenge – August Roundup

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How have I got on with my writing, reading and blogging targets?

• Edit Dying for Space
Edit Dying for Space after receiving advice from my beta readers on the second book of the Sunblinded trilogy, in readiness for self-publishing the series.
I completed my edit of Dying for Space and it is now ready for publication, which all being well, I hope will happen before the end of the year.

 

• Self publish a novel
This is one of the main targets I had back in January – after the false start I made last year with Running Out of Space due to some significant formatting problems, I was feeling a lot less gung-ho and I wanted to be in a situation where I could release the first two books of the Sunblinded trilogy reasonably close together. I’m now in that situation.
I have arranged a blog tour for Running Out of Space and decided on a release date – 11th October. The book is now up on Goodreads and I hope to have it on Netgalley very soon. My website and blog will also be undergoing a major makeover, so the covers for all three books – Running Out of Space, Dying for Space and Breathing Space can feature.

While I managed to successfully complete the line edit on Breathing Space, after receiving some really helpful feedback on my manuscript of Miranda’s Tempest, I can now see my way to tightening up the book, which has a few issues that I wasn’t completely happy about. So I hope to be able to work on it after completing the rewrite of Miranda’s Tempest.

 

• Rewrite Miranda’s Tempest
After resubmitting Miranda’s Tempest, to an agent who expressed interest in the book last year, she got back to me very quickly…
The agent has responded with another very helpful email, detailing her concerns with the manuscript. So it’s back to the drawing board to continue working on it until this book is right.

 

• Write at least 100 reviews for my blog during 2017
The target I set in January was to to read and review at least 100 books this year.
During August, I read 15 books and reviewed 13 of them. This brought my yearly total of books read by the end of the month to 121. As for book of the month – there were 4 that blew me away – The Real-Town Murders by Adam Roberts, The Lost Steersman by Rosemary Kirstein, The Heir to the North by Steven Poore and Sea of Rust by C. Robert Cargill. Don’t ask me to choose – each one moved and excited me in different ways and for different reasons. By the end of the year, I will be in a better position to know which of them has really stuck with me – but right now, I simply cannot decide which I love best.

 

• Short story to be published
This wasn’t part of my initial January target, because it popped up during the year. I was asked if I would be interested in submitting a short story for the upcoming Grimbold anthology Holding On By Our Fingertips.
I was a bit overwhelmed – and also very excited. The premise for this anthology is what you would do if you only had 24 hours before it all goes belly-up. I had several false starts before submitting a story entitled ‘A Dire Emergency’. And I had the news in the middle of the month that it has been accepted for the anthology, which was a lovely surprise.

I started writing August’s roundup feeling a bit miserable. In the middle of everything else, I also had the grandchildren to stay for a large chunk of the holidays and my sister was taken seriously ill, so I was unable to get the amount of writing done I’d planned. But looking back at what I actually managed to do, I realise it isn’t the failure I had feared. And there are several developments that didn’t exist at the start of the year which are enormously exciting, if a bit terrifying… I wrote just over 16,500 words on my blog, just under 8,000 words on course notes for next term’s Creative Writing course and just over 25,500 on the rewrite of Miranda’s Tempest, which comes to just under 50,000 words for the month and a total for the year to date of approximately 266,000 words.

How did you get on during the summer? Is there anything unexpected looming in your life right now that keeps you awake at night?

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Shoot for the Moon 2017 Challenge – January Roundup

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Mhairi Simpson, and I, once again, set ourselves a series of ambitious writing-related goals when 2017 was only a couple of days old. This has become something of a ritual, because over the past several years I have found it so very helpful to set out my targets for the year and then at the end moonof every month to hold myself accountable for these targets. And these are the goals I have set for 2017.

• Rewrite Miranda’s Tempest
After completing Miranda’s Tempest and sending it out last year, it garnered sufficient interest that I had some excellent advice on how to improve the storyline. So I embarked on a major rewrite at the back end of last year, intending to resubmit it in early 2017.
This slid to a halt in the run-up to Christmas and as January was extremely hectic, I only managed a paltry 7,500 words. I am hoping to make better progress during February.

• Edit Dying for Space and Breathing Space
My trusty beta-readers came back with some excellent advice on both these novels, particularly around the ending of Dying for Space and the start of Breathing Space, which I’m still not completely happy about. Given these are books 2 and 3 of The Sunblinded trilogy, I want them to be the very best they can be before I set them loose onto an unsuspecting world.

• Write the first draft of Bloodless, my space opera crime novel, featuring Jezell Campo, my protagonist who features in The Sunblinded Trilogy
I have the plot outline sorted out and I’m going to have a go at writing this one, while editing Dying for Space and Breathing Space. It may not work as I’m the ultimate monotasker, but I won’t know until I try, will I? Another project that got shunted further down the line when Netted needed a major rewrite last year. I am really hoping that by the end of the year I will have a first draft completed.

• Complete Picky Eaters
This is the novella that mushroomed from my short story, published at Every Day Fiction longer ago than I care to mention. While reading it to the grandchildren, I realised there were another couple of plotpoints that needed tidying up. I wanted to have this one completed last year, but my major rewrite of Netted took priority so this one got pushed to the side. However, I would really like to get it to a standard where I can either self-publish or submit it.

• Continue submitting my work
Thanks to the Shoot for the Moon Challenge, I have become far more professional and organised in submitting my work. As a result, I am now rewriting Miranda’s Tempest, achieved significant interest in Netted and have Running Out of Space out with an agent. Anyone who has been through this process knows it can take a long time to get a response, so I am continuing to work on a number of other projects while waiting.

• Self publish a novel
I have wanted to get at least one of my novels self published for a while, now. Hopefully 2017 will be the year when this happens.

• Write at least 100 reviews for my blog
I easily achieved this goal in 2016, having reviewed 150 books, while also becoming very involved in reading and reviewing new releases, which was one of last year’s targets. I don’t intend to increase this target but hope to continue to read and review at least 100 books, with at least 24 being by women authors previously unknown to me as part of the Discovery Challenge, thanks to Joanne Hall if you’re interested in joining the 2017 Challenge, here is her post.
I read 12 books, DNF’d another and reviewed 11 of them during January, which came to just under 15,000 words. I am not sure this will be a pace I can continue once I am writing again, as opposed to editing and rewriting.

• Propose and plan Creative Writing courses for the academic year 2016/17
I have next year’s courses sorted out and during the second half of the term I will be submitting them for approval to Northbrook. In addition, I am starting a series of Creative Writing courses with gifted writers and talented teachers Sarah Palmer and Linda McVeigh, called Writing Sussex. This promises to be a really exciting development.
We are planning to start our very first courses at the end of February, so if you live in or around the Worthing area in West Sussex, check out our website and course availability.

• Continue teaching TW
This has been a roller-coaster year as it proved a whole lot harder to find a suitable syllabus and qualifications suitable for Tim, who is autistic and taught at home. However his mother managed to find a series of projects based around acquiring practical skills that I will be helping to deliver, alongside Tim’s team of other tutors, which will also give him qualifications he can use to access college or university courses in the future. In addition, I am also helping Tim acquire the necessary skills to take the Functional Skills exams, so have doubled my teaching hours with him.
This is, obviously, going to take priority as it becomes necessary.

• Continue to improve my fitness
I suffered a major back injury back in early 2005, leaving me with ongoing sciatica that meant I was a constant visitor to the Physio for almost a decade. After Mhairi’s suggestion back in 2015 that I try a TENS machine to see if it would improve the nerve pain during yet another flare-up that was making my life a misery, I have gone from strength to strength. I now attend a Fitstep and Pilates class every week and have managed to lose nearly a stone so that I have now reached my target weight, which I want to maintain – more or less – throughout the year. One of my goals for 2017 which we didn’t achieve last year is to resume hiking with my husband on a regular basis.

Those are my 2017 Shoot for the Moon Challenges. Wish me luck!

Shoot for the Moon 2016 Challenge – How Did I Do?

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For the last three years, my writing buddy Mhairi Simpson and I have set ourselves a series of ambitious goals to work towards. How did I get on with the targets I set myself last year?

Publish the Sunblinded trilogymoon
Nope. Still not happened… In the flurry of submitting work to a number of agents who appear to like my writing, one of them specifically requested to see Running Out of Space, instead of the manuscript I was submitting. This presented me with a dilemma – ROOS was all set to be my self-publishing project, but if I was serious about also wanting a traditional publishing career, it seemed that I should submit it. So I have. In the meantime, I’ve got further work to do on Dying For Space and Breathing Space as my wonderful beta-readers have provided me with invaluable feedback that impacts on the ending of one and the start of the other.

Write the first draft of Bloodless, my space opera crime novel, featuring Jezell Campo, my protagonist who features in The Sunblinded Trilogy
Again, no. I have been busy rewriting and editing a number of other manuscripts, so this simply didn’t get done.

Complete Chaos in New Cluster
This is the novel my writing pal, Michael Griffiths, and I started in 2014. Yes – we completed the first draft and Mike has someone looking over it. As this is a project we will be working on in between everything else, it is ticking over quietly in the background.

Complete Picky Eaters
No, this didn’t get touched. I have been busy on a variety of other projects and didn’t have the time or headspace to get it done. However, Frances regularly asks about it, and I have made a PROMISE that it will see the light of day at some stage.

Edit Miranda’s Tempest
Miranda’s Tempest was duly submitted after being edited and I had some excellent feedback from an agent. So I am now in the process of rewriting it, which is challenging but much easier than it might be, because getting that advice was a lightbulb moment where I could then see exactly where I could improve the story flow and tighten up the plot.

I am working through it right now, though I took a break over Christmas as I also needed to produce my course notes and it was particularly busy, social time.

Submit Miranda’s Tempest
This year, I have been far more organised about submitting my work and while I don’t have a publishing contract, I have had some very positive feedback, which will help me move forward. One of the reasons why I failed at some of my other targets, was that earlier in the year a publisher considering Netted, my other novel which was ‘out there’, asked me to undertake a major rewrite which took me the best part of five months to complete. I’m now waiting to see if they like it sufficiently to offer me a contract…

Write at least 100 reviews for my blog
I wrote 150 reviews for my blog during 2016, the most I’ve ever posted. I also nailed my target to read and review more new releases as 71 of those reviews were about NetGalley arcs. I made one of my goals to increase my blogging output to every day and I have also mostly achieved this, too. Indeed, my views on my blog during 2016 have nearly doubled from the 2015 figure and I also have far more interaction with a number of wonderful bloggers who love books as much as I do. Given the fact I’ve been rewriting and editing throughout the year, reading and reviewing have become increasingly important to me as a source of pleasure and escape, particularly as personally 2016 was something of a heartbreak throughout the latter half.

Propose and plan Creative Writing courses for the academic year 2016/17
Obviously, I had these planned, but due to all sorts of things going on from August onwards, I didn’t get the Spring Term course notes written during the summer as I would have liked. Last year’s classes went really well and I was also able to run my one day courses. I have a lovely time teaching – it’s got to be the best gig of all, teaching a subject I’m passionate about to a group of people who are equally keen to learn.

Work on the teaching syllabus for TW
I undertook to teach English to Tim now over a year ago, paid for by County. Last year, we needed to find a suitable syllabus for him to study with a view to getting him some qualifications. This proved to be far more difficult than we initially thought. However, we now have found a way forward that is unusual but doable and I have now begun working on a series of projects with him that will provide Tim with a qualification commensurate with an English GCSE. Meanwhile, I am privileged to watch Tim continue to blossom into a remarkable person.

Continue to improve my fitness
This has gone really well. I decided to become vegetarian right at the end of 2015 and while I still eat eggs and fish occasionally, I haven’t eaten meat for over a year. I cannot get over how much better I feel – I have so much more energy and my nails, hair and skin have never been in better condition. I’ve continued my Pilates classes and now also attend a Fitstep class, which is exercise through dance and so much fun. Just before Christmas I finally achieved my target weight and although I put on a few pounds over the holiday, I’m confident I’ll soon lose it again. It’s marvellous to open up the wardrobe and know I can wear everything in it!

It’s a mixed picture, isn’t it? On one hand, the aspect that is really important to me – my writing – hasn’t appeared to make much progress. However, all that rewriting and re-editing prompted by professional advice has helped me to further improve my craft, which was one of the reasons why I wanted a hybrid career in the first place.

As regards the reading and blogging, it’s never been better. Though I don’t expect 2017 to be such a productive year, as I’m hoping to spend more time writing and less time reading. And teaching continues to provide me with plenty of challenges and much-needed interaction with other people.

Shoot for the Moon Challenge 2016 – October Roundup

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After setting some crazy writing goals with my writing partner in crime, Mhairi Simpson, way back in the dying throes of 2015, how am I doing?

I had expected that my reading would have significantly eased up at this stage as I’d moonplanned to be busy writing Bloodless. That hasn’t happened and as I’ve been mired in editland and rewriting, I’ve been turning to reading for relief and relaxation. It has also been a very sociable month with a series of visitors staying with us and the highlight – the amazing, marvellous Bristolcon 2016. So October has been busy, productive and congenial.

• This month, I read fourteen books, though that isn’t as impressive as it sounds because there were a couple of children’s books in there and some novellas. Once more, there were some marvellous reads. I thoroughly enjoyed How To Be Pirate by Cressida Cowell, Escapology by Ren Warom and V.E. Schwab’s A Darker Shade of Magic. While two novellas – Lois McMaster Bujold’s Penric’s Demon and Frontier by Janet Edwards were my standout reads this month, along with fantasy novel The Steerswoman by Rosemary Kirstein.
Challenge – To review a minimum of 100 books during 2016 and widen my reading to include more authors new to me. I fulfilled this challenge in August, but I am continuing to read and review more enjoyable, exciting books.

• I finally managed to resubmit Netted halfway through October after the hardest rewrite I’ve ever had to do. This now gives me the opportunity to act upon the feedback I received on Miranda’s Tempest and so I have now started work to improve it.
Challenge – To continue to submit my work.

• I’ve continued to improve my fitness with Pilates and Fitstep classes. It’s a wonderful feeling when I find I can now easily complete exercises that I couldn’t begin to manage this time last year. I’m working long, intensive hours and now have given up sugar, as I’ve found it diminishes my energy and messes with my concentration. We managed one longer walk this last month, but with all the guests visiting it has been difficult to get away.
Challenge – To continue to improve my fitness.

After being dismayed at just how far off track I’d strayed from my original targets, I’ve come to the realisation that plans are made to help focus while working. But once events overtake them, then comes the time to let them go. That doesn’t mean this monthly accounting is a waste of time, however. While my writing targets have taken a dog-leg down a by-way, there are still other challenges I need to keep tracking.

I wrote just under 15,500 words on my blog during October, less than 3,000 words on my course notes and teaching admin and just over 44,500 words on my rewrite of Miranda’s Tempest, bringing my total for the year so far to just under 290,000 words.

How are you getting on? Do you also set yourself targets and if so, as the year grows older, are you able to keep fulfilling them?

Shoot for the Moon Challenge 2016 – August Roundup

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Now that I have the opportunity to get down to some uninterrupted work during this moonbreak, how am I progressing with the ambitious targets I set myself waaay back in the dying hours of 2015?
• I had another really brilliant reading month in August, reading 15 books again and reviewing all but two. Once more, it was a delight to have so many really good books to read – I loved Autonomy by Jude Houghton, which raises some uncomfortable questions in amongst a cracking post-apocalyptic, near future thriller; Janet Edwards’ Telepath was such fun – I really love her writing and Adrian Tchaikovsky’s Spiderlight was another gem from this talented, award-winning writer. But the two outstanding reads this month for me were Spellbreaker by Blake Charlton and N.K. Jemisin’s The Obelisk Gate, the second book in her fabulous Broken Earth series.
Challenge – To review a minimum of 100 books during 2016 and widen my reading to include more authors new to me. As I have now read 106 books and reviewed all but a handful, this challenge has been achieved. Thanks to Netgalley, I am continuing to come across authors unknown to me and broaden my reading.

• I have continued to submit my work – another of my challenges I’ve been working on – which has entailed some major rewriting. I worked on the opening of Miranda’s Tempest at the front end of August, which went reasonably smoothly and then had another go at Netted. It is by far the hardest rewrite I’ve ever undertaken and twice since attempting it, I’ve ground to a halt. I’ve learnt these days that when I stare at the page and my mind blanks, I need to take the hint and walk away. If I try pushing through it, I write rubbish which just compounds the problem. I now need to make an editing pass and hopefully, get the manuscript in a fit state for resubmission by the end of the month.
Challenge – To continue to submit my novels.

• I am in the process of writing my course notes for this term’s Creative Writing class, which starts in a fortnight. Obviously, this deadline isn’t optional.
Challenge – To have two of my four courses written by the end of the summer break. No – that isn’t going to happen. The rewrites that popped up out of nowhere took a large bite out of my writing schedule this month and I am playing catchup with a number of other tasks.

I wrote just over 16,500 words on my blog in August and around 20,500 words on rewrites. With a paltry 500 words on teaching admin, my monthly total came to just over 37,500 words for the month, bringing my wordcount for the year so far to just over 200,000. What were your favourite August books? Do you read more in the summer or winter?

Shoot for the Moon Challenge 2016 – July Roundup

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High summer is here. So how did I do with my targets during July?
• I’ve now completed the line edit of Breathing Space and have also finished the timeline edit of Running Out of Space, Dying for Space and am on the last lap with Breathing Space.
Challenge – To have The Sunblinded trilogy published during 2016. Still on track…

• I had a great reading month in July, reading 15 books in all and reviewing all but one of them – and moonthat was only because it was the next in a series I’d recently covered and felt I did not have a great deal more to say. There were some excellent books in amongst that selection. I very much enjoyed Louisa Hall’s thought provoking Speak and Jane Lythell’s Woman of the Hour was a strong start to an entertaining, original series – however the two books that were outstanding reads for me this month were N.K. Jemisin’s The Fifth Season and Foz Meadows’ An Accident of Stars.
Challenge – To review a minimum of 100 books during 2016 and widen my reading to include more authors new to me. I wasn’t expecting to be reading quite so much – but as I’m still editing, I find I need to keep plunging into other worlds to keep my head straight. This takes the number of books read so far to 91 books, so this challenge is clearly nailed.

• My one-day Summer Surgery course on Friday 22nd July went really well – I’m glad I have planned an identical course next year. Both my Monday evening and Tuesday afternoon courses starting in September are now full.
Challenge – To have at least two of the four courses I hope to run next year planned and written by the end of the summer holiday. Yes… this should be doable.

There are also a couple of my 2016 Shoot for Moon challenges that I am working on – but right now I’m not saying anymore, as I don’t want to jinx things… It’s exciting and terrifying in equal measure and hopefully I will be in a position to fully update everyone in due course. I wrote just over 20,500 words on my blog in July and just under 6,500 words on teaching admin. I also wrote a number of query letters and synopses which took my overall writing total to just over 29,000 words for the month. This takes my yearly total to just under 164,000 words. How are you getting on with your August reading targets? Do you find the weather affects your reading habits?

Shoot for the Moon Challenge 2016 – February Roundup

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Where did it go? I know it’s a short month, but I turned around twice and February has moonalready slipped past with terrifying speed… So how did I do with the stupidly ambitious 2016 targets that I set in the New Year, aided and abetted by writing buddy Mhairi Simpson?

• I hadn’t been near my space opera novel, Running Out of Space since the mess last October, when formatting issues meant I couldn’t publish it as I had initially planned. When I revisited it in the middle of February, I was expecting the manuscript to be littered with a forest of niggling errors after my desperate efforts to manually replace all the italics and bolding that had been wiped out by the likes of Sigil. But there were only a small handful of mistakes which were quickly fixed. I have loaded onto Himself’s Kindle to see if the format is as robust as I’d hoped, and so far, so good… I also completed another editing pass on the sequel, Dying For Space, after my major rewrite last summer. Again, there were a series of small errors, but nothing too major.
Challenge – To have The Sunblinded trilogy published during 2016. After my failure last year, I am reluctant to give any firm dates when this will happen until I have everything in place, but at present, I am certainly on schedule.

• Last November, I finally completed the first draft of the book that has been burning a hole in my skull for the past eighteen months – Miranda’s Tempest. So after Christmas, I started the editing process. The biggest issue was that the style was far too modern and snappy, so I set about ‘Tudorising’ it. I went through and expunged most of the main verbs that were not around in the 16th century and replaced them with older words, as well as making the dialogue sound more appropriate. The word nerd in me was purring like a well-fed cat, but aware I can get carried away on these sorts of tasks, I kept passing bits of manuscript around to my long-suffering beta readers to ensure I wasn’t getting too extreme. So far the feedback has been positive. As soon as I am sure, the manuscript is as strongly written as I can manage, I shall start submitting it.
Challenge – to get Miranda’s Tempest fit to send out to agents by Easter. I’m on target for this one.

• I read 9 books and wrote a review for every single one of them during February, as they were all really good. It’s been a joy to read such a great run of books – it’s the best year that I can recall to date. I wrote two New Release Special reviews and have been applying more to NetGalley for ARC copies, which so far I have been getting. I am trying to widen my reading to include more authors new to me, especially women. During February I encountered four authors I hadn’t read before.
Challenge – To review a minimum of 100 books during 2016 and widen my reading to include at least a third of authors I haven’t read before. So far, I’m on course for hitting this target, although it’s early days and later in the year it could very easily slip, when I’m grappling with my publishing projects.

Overall, it’s been a reasonably productive month. I have managed to get through a significant amount of editing. I wrote just over 6,500 words on teaching admin and just over 7,000 words on my blog, bringing my writing total for 2016 so far to just over 40,000 words.

Shoot for the Moon Challenge 2015 – How Did I Do?

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Thanks to the success of this form of goal-setting, concocted by writing buddy Mhairi Simpson and moonme one New Year’s Eve a couple of years ago when we were slightly the worse for wear – this has now become an integral part of my writing process. The theory is that I set myself some crazily ambitious targets and while striving for those, achieve more than I would have done, had I been more sensible. Um. Yes, I know… But it made sense at the time, when you consider we were both rather the worse for wear – and it has proved to be a very successful strategy for improving my productivity. Question is, did I achieve my targets for 2015?

• The Challenge – Publish Running Out of Space
Nope. This was a decided fail and when it happened, felt like a devastating blow. I had intended – and announced – that I would self publish Running Out of Space, Book 1 of The Sunblinded in time for Fantasycon at the end of October. And I was fully geared up to do so – but fell at the very last fence due to a major glitch in getting it formatted. It was a nightmare, with the clock ticking and convinced it would only take one more major effort, I pulled three 20-hour days in a row trying to get it right. Only to face the fact that it just wasn’t going to happen – unless I shrugged my shoulders and let those occasional bolding/italicization errors remain. I was tempted. Truly. But when I went back to the uploaded version on my Kindle, I felt vaguely sick every time I flipped through the pages and came to those particular passages and knew that feeling would intensify tenfold if I took the decision to publish with those errors in place. So I took the decision not to do so and set off for Fantasycon without having Running Out of Space live and available. It hurt. So much so, that I woke up on the last day of the conference with a heavy head cold that lasted six weeks – and I think the fact it lasted so long was due to exhaustion, both physical and emotional.
However, I take comfort from the knowledge that I made the right decision – and that if I had gone ahead and published Running Out of Space with those errors in place, I would have bitterly regretted it.

• The Challenge – Complete first draft of Miranda’s Tempest
Yes – I managed to achieve this one. Ironically when I was so ill throughout November, I couldn’t sleep much or read – but the one thing that alleviated the misery was writing. So I dived back into this world which has been burning a steady hole in the back of my brain since I started it over a year ago and couldn’t get it right. I went back to the beginning and did a major rewrite, then powered on until I completed the manuscript. It is the most ambitious book I’ve attempted to date.
When teaching Shakespeare’s The Tempest as part of the GCSE syllabus, I always wondered about poor little Miranda. She has been running around an enchanted island, playing with spirits since she was three-years-old. And now, engaged to Prince Ferdinand of Naples, she is sailing off to become a 16th century princess in an Italian court. I never saw that one ending well… So I wrote her adventures, first as a short story, and then when the idea still wouldn’t leave me alone, made a start on the novel. I feel delighted I’ve managed to finish the first draft and am currently working on fine-tuning it, ready for submission.

• The Challenge – complete Chaos in New Cluster
This is the book my pal Michael Griffiths and me started writing a while ago, now. We are really, truly now on the last lap – but Mike has a new baby, so it is not a surprise that this one is still on the backburner. But the nice thing about this project is that it has been written in amongst all our individual writing activities, so if it takes a tad longer before it sees the light of day – so be it. It’s a bonus any way you look at it.

• The Challenge – Write at least 100 reviews for my blog
Done. Actually, I wrote 108 reviews, after reading 121 books, so I only achieved it by the skin of my teeth. This is the one target I haven’t bothered to strive for – I enjoy writing book reviews and I read for pleasure. It was a target I’d set in 2014 and achieved, so there was no point in changing it. But if I hadn’t met it, I wouldn’t have been unduly worried.

• The Challenge – Propose and plan Creative Writing courses for 2015/16
Done. I didn’t manage to get the courses written during the summer, as I had wanted, because I was busy on the final edits of Running Out of Space. In addition I was also very busy Grannying, which tends to drive a coach and horse through all my writing schedules. But I had a successful teaching year, with some new tweaks to make the classes more interactive which have proved popular and I’m pleased to say that both current courses are full.

• The Challenge – Submit Mantivore Eyes and Netted
Those of you kind enough to closely follow my blog will know this has been a major block for me – I am reasonably productive, but not terribly good at getting my work ‘out there’. I resolved to submit my work to at least 50 agents. And no – I didn’t achieve those numbers, BUT I did send out both manuscripts and received a number of nicely worded rejections along the lines of ‘this one isn’t for us, but please bear us in mind for your next project…’ and both manuscripts are currently under consideration.

Overall, despite the mess-up with Running Out of Space, it was a successful year for my writing. And the very good news is that my clever son managed to untangle the formatting issue for me over the Christmas holidays. As for my 2016 targets – I will be posting those at the end of January.

Shoot for the Moon 2015 – February Roundup

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These are the ambitious, writing-related goals I set myself to ensure I keep moving forward in my writing and teaching career. Last month I set the 2015 targets, which you can read here. So how am I getting on?

• Publish the Sunblinded trilogy
The fact that I didn’t manage to complete Breathing Space until the end of January is starting to catch up with me. moonEditing is a process that cannot be rushed. I’m going through the first book, Running Out of Space, and checking and correcting the Spanish phrases I’ve used with the help of the marvellous Mhairi Simpson. Apart from deciding never to do anything so stupid as to include a bunch of foreign phrases in a manuscript again, I am more or less on the home straight with ROOS. I’m hoping the same process will go faster and more smoothly with Dying for Space – one of the issues with Running Out of Space is that at one point it was with an American publisher and was formatted in American English. And I’m still tripping over the occasional American spelling…
I’ve nearly completed the corrections to my Spanish phrases in Running Out of Space and hope to have the m/s ready for my writing group next time we meet next week.

• Write at least 100 reviews for my blog
I’ve been reading some wonderful science fiction this year, so far and Daniel Polansky’s wonderful underworld trilogy has been a huge pleasure. One of the delightful consequences of steadily expanding my blog readership, is that I now regularly chat to other like-minded bloggers and book lovers… Thank you, those of you who take the time and effort to comment about various subjects related to reading and writing – and for Gloria Chao in nominating me for the Leibster Award, which I was delighted to receive…
I wrote 9 reviews during January, which came to just over 9,227 words. That includes a review of mine that I reblogged, after reading it to my granddaughter, as well as my response to the Leibster Award.

• Submit Mantivore Eyes and Netted
Yes – I’m actively seeking representation for these two novels and have been sending off submissions to agents… (Pauses to take in your stunned disbelief after a year of complete procrastination…) Of course it’s absolutely vital for professional writers to be prepared to roll up their sleeves and write the bleeping synopsis and query letter, rather than diving straight into another novel in the hope that my work will somehow seep into the consciousness of editors and agents ‘out there’. Fortunately, I’ve finally caught on that if I want an agent and a traditional publishing deal, I need to actually submit my work…
I’m working through a list I compiled in early January – and need to continue my initial strong start. NOTE TO SELF – one submission flurry does not constitute a sustained coherent search for a suitable agent…

Overall last month, I wrote just over 19,700 words and edited three manuscripts – Mantivore Dreams, Netted and Running Out of Space, totalling just over 250,000 words.

Shoot for the Moon 2015 Challenge – January Roundup

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Last year, egged on by fellow writer and partner in crime, Mhairi Simpson, I set some crazy writing-related goals, which I revisited every month to see how I was doing. It worked so well, that this year I decided to continue with yet another set of over-ambitious targets. So what are these goals?

• Publish the Sunblinded trilogy

Running Out of Space and Dying for Space had already been written, when last year I decided this would be my firstmoon foray into self publishing my work. So I needed to complete Jezell’s story arc in the last book, Breathing Space. I’d initially hoped to complete the manuscript by the end of 2014, but it kept running off and generally behaving badly. One of the reasons prompting me to publish this series is that I’ve wanted to write a science fiction crime series featuring a female PI – and using Jezell as that character is an obvious choice. I know all her gnarly secrets, and how she got them; and given that I’ve also written two other books in the same world, I’m also on more than nodding terms with how it works. So now comes the stupidly ambitious part – I intend to publish the Sunblinded trilogy in time for Fantasycon in the autumn, so with a following wind and the gods of editing being very obliging, the three books will probably appear during mid-August. My marvellous writing group have agreed to beta-read and nitpick the manuscripts for me – though if anyone else is interested in doing so, I’d – of course – be delighted to hear from you.
Managed to complete the first draft of Breathing Space in the last week of January. Just as well – I was considering battering my head against a brick wall to see if I could shake the dratted story free, as it took 25,500 words – and less than half of that wordcount made the manuscript…

• Write Miranda’s Tempest

I started this last year and got nearly three-quarters of the way through before hitting a wall. I knew I’d gone badly wrong, but was too close to figure out what it was. So plonked the manuscript into the Pending box, and sure enough, I now know where and how it went off the rails… As a fair amount of what I originally wrote can be recycled, it shouldn’t take too long, once I get going.
Just to see if I could – I sat down and rewrote the first chapter in present tense, first person pov and it was so much punchier, while still keeping the slightly formal feel I wanted. But won’t be tackling this in earnest until the Sunblinded trilogy is done and dusted…

• Complete Chaos in New Cluster

This is the novel my writing pal, Michael Griffiths, and I started last year, writing alternating chapters between us. It has been pushed onto the back burner rather a lot, but is in the closing stages, so it would be great to get the first draft done and dusted. And start on the editing runs…
Haven’t had a chance to get to grips with this one, yet.

• Write at least 100 reviews for my blog

I pulled this number out of thin air last year – and nailed it. In fact, I wrote 126 reviews last year, as I increasingly find writing about books I enjoy helps complete the reading experience for me. I did debate whether to extend the challenge to make it more… challenging. But just because last year I happened to hit this target doesn’t necessarily mean I’ll be able to do so with such ease this year – and as I find it really useful and fun to do, I don’t see the need to spoil it by placing undue pressure on a process that seems to work anyway.
I wrote 10 reviews during January, which came to just over 6,700 words. Half the books I completed in were by authors I hadn’t previously read – a promising beginning for my target to include more writers new to me in my reading pile.

• Propose and plan Creative Writing courses for the academic year 2015/16

I have already been thinking about next year’s courses. I really would like to have the course notes and plans written by the end of the summer holidays, but given I will be probably working flatout on getting three manuscripts ready to go at that stage, I’ll settle for having the Autumn term course good to go in plenty of time.

• Submit Mantivore Eyes and Netted

I attended a wonderful talk last year at Bristolcon by Jacey Bedford, who was very generous in telling us about her efforts to obtain an agent. She took us step by step through her approach and totally inspired me. As I want to be a hybrid author, with a traditional publishing deal in addition to my self publishing career, I’d like an agent. Up to now I’ve been rubbish at submitting my work – but this year, I’ve determined I will NAIL this target!
Nope. But then I spent January grappling with Breathing Space – and in order for a submission to be any good, I have to pay attention. I’m liable to make stupid mistakes, otherwise… Watch this space, though!

Overall last month, I wrote just over 37,400 words.