Tag Archives: Chaos in New Cluster

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.

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Shoot for the Moon Challenge 2015 – July Roundup

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We are now in the middle of what should be high summer, but for the indifferent, damp weather. So how am I getting on with the writing targets I set myself back at the beginning of the year with my writing buddy Mhairi Simpson?

• I am now busy in mid-edit of Dying For Space, but I’m grannying right now and I find it extremely hard to become moonthe edit-goddess while in granny-mode…
Challenge – To have first two books of The Sunblinded Trilogy published by Fantasycon. Yep – if you’ve been paying attention, you will notice that this target has changed.

• I wrote 8 reviews during July and read 9 books. I think my target is hanging in the balance at the moment, but when all is said and done, it isn’t one of the vital ones.
Challenge – To review a minimum of 100 books during 2015.

• Submitting my two novels Mantivore Dreams and Netted to agents has taken the back seat while I’ve been firefighting other, urgent deadlines recently. Hopefully this month I can get this one back on track.
Challenge – To seek and procure representation for at least one of my novels. Still ongoing.

• I have now completed all my teaching commitments for this academic year. The one day Summer Surgery at Northbrook College was really enjoyable and sufficiently successful such that I’m aiming to repeat it next year, all being well.
Challenge – To make this term’s Creative Writing courses more interactive. Yes, I succeeded in this target and hope to continue when writing next term’s course later this month.

• I completed Chapter 23 of the joint science fiction adventure Chaos in New Cluster I am writing with my buddy Michael Griffiths. So when he finally ties up the last dangling plotpoints, we’ll have completed the first draft.
Challenge – To complete the first draft of Chaos in New Cluster before the end of the year.

I’ve decided not to faff about whether The Sunblinded Trilogy is ready or not, but just get my head down and get on with it. I’m about a third of the way into the second major edit of Dying for Space. While I’m on a break from my teaching commitments, I’ve just completed reading 70 short stories and helped to compile a longlist of 20, then a shortlist of 10 for the West Sussex Writers’ National Short Story Competition. Although it is enjoyable to read the variety of stories submitted, it takes quite a chunk of time to read and mark them all. My time on the West Sussex Writers’ committee is coming to an end as I am stepping down in September. It has been a blast, but after 6 years and with recently taking on another teaching appointment, I don’t feel I could continue to give it my best effort.

I wrote just under 10,000 words reviewing books this month and 5,500 words towards Chaos in New Cluster. Writing my one day course and completing the necessary admin took just under 6,000 words, which took my July wordcount to just over 21,000 words.