Tag Archives: mad writing targets

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

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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. 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?

My 1,000th Post – Shoot For the Moon Challenge 2016 – May Roundup

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I was all set to write a special one-off post about this being my one thousandth blog –moon but I really couldn’t think of anything to say, other than thank you very, very much for taking the time to read and comment on my reviews and articles.

So how have I done during May – have I managed to keep within touching distance of my very ambitious targets for this year?

• I’m now on the last lap of the third major edit of Breathing Space. It’s taken quite a long time, but I’ve been quite pleased with it, so far. It’ll be interesting to see if the closing scenes work, as I’ve had several goes at them to ensure the ending is sufficiently satisfying – though it will be leading into a crime series with my protagonist, Jezel Campo, solving the murder mysteries, so I’ve left a dangling plotline that I can pick up again in Bloodless. I’ve also been working on the blurbs for all three books and I’m finally happy with them.
Challenge – To have The Sunblinded trilogy published during 2016. Still on target…

• I read 13 books this month and reviewed 11 of them. Five were new releases, but I’ve gone a bit mad this month with all the NetGalley arcs I’ve stacked up for review, so will need to keep on top of it all. There’s a good chance it will all come crashing down about my ears… Though I got carried away because I’ve been having so much fun reading books I wouldn’t necessarily have picked up off the shelves. Only one, so far, has been an utter disaster – which is very good going, given that I’ve read 66 books so far this year.
Challenge – To review a minimum of 100 books during 2016 and widen my reading to include more authors new to me. So far, I’m comfortably on target for this particular challenge, as during May I read another 6 authors I haven’t encountered before.

IMG_0153Overall, it’s been a good month. My classes are going well at Northbrook, though I can’t believe we are now nearing the end of this academic year. Tim is now thriving with the one to one teaching he is getting and we now have a solid plan as to what we’ll be working on next year. I thoroughly enjoyed going to Lesley’s book launch at The Kew Bookshop last week, and will be reviewing The House With No Rooms next week. I wrote just under 14,000 words for my blog and just over 6,000 words on teaching admin during May, bringing my overall writing total this year to just under 114,500 words. Sadly, none of those were new manuscripts – but once I decided to publish my novels, inevitably editing has to become a far greater chunk of the workload than the initial writing.

Here’s hoping everyone has a successful June and that the weather starts to act as if summer has arrived!

Shoot for the Moon Challenge 2016 – April Roundup

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Now April has zipped past and we are a third of the way through the year, how am I doing with my writing and publishing targets that I concocted on New Year’s Eve when all right-thinking folks were partying?

• I’ve been working on the first major edit of Breathing Space since I completed it last year, and in addition to the earlier fixes, I ended up doing a major rewrite of the final battle scene, as I wasn’t all that happy about it. There was a long build-up, and the final action scene was too short and not sufficiently satisfying. I’ve also completed reading Running Out of Space on my Kindle and after going back and tweaking the final manuscript with the niggling errors I discovered, I’ll be working on Breathing Space once more. Dying for Space is currently with a beta-reader, so I’m waiting for her feedback, before embarking on the final line edit.
Challenge – To have The Sunblinded trilogy published during 2016. The editing run is still rolling forward and I still feel reasonably confident I’ll get them published this year.

• I had a lovely surprise this month – I submitted a short story for the anthology Eve of War and then forgot about it – as you do. So when a request for my biography and a copy of the arc bounced into my Inbox, I was delighted. The anthology is being published in June, which is great.
Challenge – nope. Nothing about this particular project was on my to-do list – because I’d forgotten about it.

• I read 17 books, did not finish one and wrote 16 reviews during April. So it’s been another storming month with my reading challenges. I wrote seven New Release Special reviews during March, although some of these won’t be published until the launch date of the books in question.
Challenge – To review a minimum of 100 books during 2016 and widen my reading to include more authors new to me. So far this year, I have read 53 books and 10 books during April by authors I haven’t read before, so I am also hitting this particular target. I’m very much in reading mode at present, but if I hit a slump or get buried in all the chores that go with self-publishing The Sunblinded trilogy, it could all slide away.

I’m very pleased with my blogging and reading targets, as I produced a blog every day, except one, when I was away. During April, I wrote just over 13,000 words on blogs and just under 11,000 words on teaching admin. Again, novel writing is non-existent at present, so my wordcount on writing projects is a measly 1,500 words, which brings April’s total to just over 25,500 words. Am I on target? Yes. But there is a long way to go and lots that could still go wrong, so I’m not able to relax just yet. In fact, I think this is going to be a year when I continue to put my head down, keep working and hoping for the best… Wish me luck, I’ll need it!

Shoot for the Moon Challenge 2015 – November Roundup

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This was certainly an odd month… On one hand, I went down with a really nasty head cold like a sack of spanners. Try as I might I could NOT shake off the damn thing, which continued on and on moonthroughout the whole month. It pervaded my whole existence, turning my lessons – which I normally love – into a dreary trudge as I struggled with a blocked nose, temperatures and persistent sore throat. BUT on the other hand, while feeling so grim the only refuge was to get lost in writing. So I did…

• As I mentioned last month, my plans to get Running Out of Space fully formatted and self published in time for Fantasycon landed in a heap when I encountered a corrupted file and as this was my first time, I hadn’t realised it until after 3 twenty-hour days in a row trying to get it right… After returning from Fantasycon and while struggling with my cold, I wasn’t up to facing the fiddly job of formatting – yet again. So decided to put this project on the back-burner until the New Year. December is always crazy-busy with more than half the family birthdays occurring throughout the month and then there’s the small disruption of Christmas. I am not going to put myself through the madness of the run-up to Fantasycon again if I can avoid it.
Challenge – To have Running Out of Space – Sunblinded: 1 published by the end of the year. I’ve failed at this major target, but I’ve learnt so much in the process that while I won’t deny it felt like a huge defeat at the time – it isn’t the end of the world. Better by far to delay the project to ensure the book is something I’ll be proud to share with the rest of the world, than to fling it out on Amazon with major formatting issues, regarding the italicisation – which was my biggest bugbear. I’ve also decided to bring out the whole trilogy together in 2016, with, hopefully, Bloodless, the first book in the follow-up space opera crime series ready to go  at the start of 2017.

• Due to the cold and the fact the only time I felt remotely human was when sitting at the computer lost in my own world, I spent the month writing. The result was I managed to complete the first draft of Miranda’s Tempest. This is a huge deal for me. This book has been boring holes in my skull for most of the year after I screeched to a halt with it in February and hadn’t had a chance to go back to the start, work out where I went wrong and put it right. Even so, the last chapter took 4 goes before I was happy with it – and I’m still unsure whether I’ve completely pulled it off… But I do know I’m very proud of the book and think it is the best thing I’ve written so far, once I’ve completely tidied it up, of course.
I also managed a major rewrite of a space opera romp I wrote years ago and stuffed in the back of a virtual drawer. Dusting it off, I realised it wasn’t as dire as I’d recalled – in fact once I addressed my tendency to repeat all the major events three times in three different ways – the narrative and characters work very well. It was also the last time I wrote anything in third person pov and I’m also pleasantly surprised how successful it was.
Challenge – to complete Miranda’s Tempest by the end of the year. Yep. Ticked that box:). Also dusted off and edited/rewrote Unearthly Things Above, which way back when, was on DAW’s ‘seriously considered’ heap for a while after I submitted it to their slush pile. No wonder they passed on it, given how overwritten it was!

• I read 11 books and wrote 8 reviews during November, which brings my annual total to date of 100 written reviews.
Challenge – To review a minimum of 100 books during 2015. Nailed that one…

With a chunk of my teaching commitment on hold – I could not possibly risk giving the boy I tutor my monster cold – I only wrote 3,400 words on admin, my blog took just over 7,000 words. But my wordcount for writing my own work was just over 91,800 words. Yes… my jaw dropped too. I have to say that while I was certainly on a roll, it didn’t feel unduly difficult. Hopefully I won’t get that ill again for a while – but at least it wasn’t a complete bust. That now brings my yearly total to date to just over 314,000 words.

Shoot for the Moon Challenge 2015 – October Roundup

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It was a busy old month and I missed one of my main targets for the year. Which was to get Running Out of Space published in time to have it available as an ebook for Fantasycon. So what happened next?

• It’s certainly been a roller-coaster month and I was lined up, all ready to go. The cover is just what I wanted – eye-catching and genre appropriate, yet simple enough to look really good as a thumbnail, thanks to the wonderful moonJanet Sked. Mhairi Simpson had helped me get started on the formatting, which was always going to be a major headache, given the number of foreign phrases and internal dialogue running through the book. I couldn’t get it to upload without it looking a dog’s breakfast on my Kindle and when Mhairi rootled around, we discovered the progam we’d been using had become corrupted. And at that stage, I decided with only a couple of days to go before we set off for Nottingham, I’d rather step away, take some deep calming breaths and sort it out when I got back.

When we sat down and discussed the situation after Fantasycon, I decided that I’d rather publish the whole Sunblinded trilogy together – while it won’t be in 2015, it shouldn’t take all that long as I’m well on the way with editing Dying For Space and Breathing Space should be a lot more straightforward, anyway.
• Challenge – To have Running Out of Space – Sunblinded: 1 published by Fantasycon. Nope. This one is a bust for the year. Still, I’ve plenty to be getting on with…

• I read 9 books and wrote 8 reviews during October, bring my annual total to date of 92 written reviews. So it looks as though this target will be met during the month. Oh well, nice to meet this one, I suppose.
Challenge – To review a minimum of 100 books during 2015. In progress…

Inevitably, this month it’s been all about Running Out of Space, other than Fantasycon, which was great fun and a welcome break from all the pressure. I’ve written about it in more detail here.

My wordcount in October is fairly paltry. Again, I wrote next to nothing creatively in October, other than some rewrites and a few bits for the preliminary pages in Running Out of Space, which came to just under 3,500 words. My blogs totalled just over 6,000 words and my teaching admin wordcount came to just over 8,500 words, bringing my monthly total for October to just over 18,000 words and my yearly total to date to just over 212,000 words.

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.

Shoot for the Moon Challenge 2015 – June Roundup

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We’re just over halfway through 2015 – and for once I’m skipping the head-shaking amazement at the speed at which we got here, just take it as read! In the meantime, how am I doing? Well, I’m hanging my hopes on the saying that it’s not over until it’s over – and hoping that it’ll be over in time for Fantasycon. I may be shooting for the Moon, but at present I’m barely clearing the roof of my humble abode.

• I have at last completed my major edit of Running Out of Space and am about to hand it over to my long-suffering moonhusband and a couple more beta readers. I haven’t looked at the other two manuscripts, yet. Challenge – To have The Sunblinded Trilogy ready to publish by the end of August. Right now this target is looking risible – but I’m going to keep plugging away and hope that it somehow falls into place. July will be a keynote month for me and by the end of it, I should know whether I’ll be able to come close to this ambition.

• So far this year I have read 57 books and written 50 reviews, making me bang on target – so long I don’t get so overwhelmed by a ton of work that all my timescales end up in a heap on the floor. Can’t image WHAT could possibly cause such an occurrence during the next couple of months… Challenge – To review a minimum of 100 books during 2015. Given what else is going on this year, the chances of missing this challenge is high.

• Submissions of my two novels Mantivore Dreams and Netted to agents has rather lost momentum while I’m waiting to see if the agents who requested full m/s are interested. I’m hoping to address this lapse during July/August while my teaching commitments are not so pressing. Challenge – To seek and procure representation for at least one of my novels. Still ongoing.

• I have now had an opportunity to discuss the summer term with the participating students, who overwhelmingly enjoyed the opportunity to present their favourite writing to the class. I’m delighted this has been so successful and intend to run a similar format next summer. My final teaching course this year is a one day Summer Surgery at Northbrook College on Friday 24th July. I’m really looking forward to the day, which will round off a successful year at Northbrook. I’m very grateful to my lovely, loyal students for making the whole experience so much fun. Challenge – To make this term’s Creative Writing courses more interactive. Yes, I succeeded in this Challenge. I aim to continue along this trajectory when planning and writing the course notes for the new academic year, starting on 22nd September.

• I owe my long-suffering writing partner Michael Griffiths a chapter for our joint science fiction adventure Chaos in New Cluster. And now I’ve completed the major rewrite of Running Out of Space, I shall FINALLY be turning my attention to this project before plunging into the manuscript of Dying for Space. Challenge – To complete the first draft of Chaos in New Cluster before the end of the century year.

Realistically, having The Sunblinded Trilogy ready for Fantasycon is a fairly remote possibility, given that I have no intention of cutting any corners just to reach the deadline. But Running Out of Space will definitely be good to go – I’m really pleased with the major overhaul I’ve given this manuscript. As for Dying for Space and Breathing Space – watch this space!

I wrote 7 reviews for my blog this month with a wordcount of just over 6,000 words and failed to finish reading another 3 books – a consequence of attempting more novels by authors unknown to me. I wrote just over 15,700 words this month on my teaching courses in the form of admin, lesson plans and evaluations and just over 1,500 words on a poem and a couple of articles, bringing my June wordcount to just over 23,500 words.

Shoot for the Moon Challenge 2015 – May Roundup

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At the end of yet another month, how am I doing with my series of my ambitious targets? Hm. Not brilliantly. Family commitments have to come first, of course and during May they featured fairly heavily.

• I have had some extremely detailed feedback on Running Out of Space from two of my marvellous beta readers, so I’m in the throes of addressing some of the issues they suggested I revisit and fix. It’s been very helpful to be able to give the manuscript a thorough going-over before presenting it to another wonderful writing friend who has agreed to comb through it for me. As for the other two manuscripts – I’m still in the very early stages of knocking them into shape.
Challenge – To have my science fiction series, The Sunblinded Trilogy,moon ready to publish by the end of August. A target that is looking increasingly unrealistic. I’ll keep working as hard as I can to get the books ready, but obviously the requirement is to have the books as polished and readable as possible. It would be completely daft to compromise the quality of my writing for the sake of a timescale.
• I wrote eight reviews this month, so I’m still on target for the year. Although I’ve noticed that so far this year, I’ve read and reviewed 9 less books than this time last year.
Challenge – To review a minimum of 100 books during 2015. I should still easily fulfil this target, unless something major happens before the end of the year.
• I am still in the process of submitting Mantivore Dreams and Netted to agents.
Challenge – To seek and procure representation for at least one of my novels. Still ongoing.
• As the academic year at Northbook College draws to a close, I have an opportunity to judge whether this year’s courses have been successful. Overall, I think they have worked. The interactive nature of this term’s course has meant I have had to alter my working methods more than I’d initially anticipated and it should run more smoothly next year. But I am definitely going to give it another go. The students seem to have found it an enjoyable and stimulating experience to share their favourite authors with the rest of the class and I have found it fascinating and enlightening to observe the wide variation in choices.
Challenge – To make this term’s Creative Writing courses more interactive.

In addition, I gave a talk to West Sussex Writers’ in May, along with my committee colleague and computer guru, Ian Black, on the available technology to help writers. It took us a while to organise and design a structure so we could deliver the information in the most user-friendly way, but it was evidently worth the effort as the talk was received positively by the membership.

It’s a busy time of year. My teaching commitments are intense right now, the garden needs knocking into shape if it is going to be anything other than unruly jungle for the rest of the summer, and Family need more of my time than I’d anticipated. But then, that’s Life isn’t it? Unpredictable, often frustrating and taking me off into unexpected directions. And if that didn’t happen, I’d be a diminished, narrower version of myself. That’s what I keep telling myself, anyway. Though I’d LOVE a clone to get on with all those boring-but-vital chores that still need doing.

In the meantime, I wrote just over 9,000 words on books reviews in May and just under 11,500 words on my teaching courses, bringing my word count to date to around 106,500 words. There’s been one bright spot in my creative landscape. I am not a brilliant poet, but sporadically the idea for a poem rattles around in my head until I do something about it. As submitting to magazines takes time and organisation that I currently don’t have, I’ve been posting some of my poems on my blog. This has prompted me to tidy up and thoroughly edit some of my rougher-edged efforts. Thank you for the kind comments and Likes some of you have taken the trouble to leave. It was unexpected and very cheering.

Shoot for the Moon Challenge – November Roundup

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So as the year end is looming – how am I doing with the clutch of mad challenges I set myself at the moonstart of the year? Helped along by plenty of encouragement from Mhairi Simpson and industrial strength Assam, the theory is that even if I pitifully failed, I’d still be further along than if I’d been sensible and set more attainable goals. I’ll be looking at that theory in more detail next month – which is crunch time, anyway.
Breathing Space was doing just fine last time I looked at it – which was a couple of weeks ago. But on the way home from Bristolcon on the train, Mhairi suggested it might be a good idea to finally write the extended story of ‘Picky Eaters’ and unleash it on an unsuspecting world before Christmas… I’m putty in that girl’s hands!

I wrote the original 1,000 word story and those lovely folks at Every Day Fiction published it back in 2009 – but Granddad and his family of dragons wouldn’t leave me alone. (If anyone is interested, you can read the original here.) While I knew there wasn’t enough for a full-length novel, every so often I’d find myself sliding back to Wyvern Peak and wondering how things were going with him, Sammy Jo and Billy Bob… So when Mhairi suggested I went for it – I did! I’ve completed the first draft, which had me skipping around the room on a high that didn’t fade for several days. Which is bizarre, as when I complete a novel, I normally feel drained and rather depressed for the following week. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that this slice of Granddad’s story has come out at just over 10,000 words. I’m still aiming to have it out with Amazon before Christmas (this habit of setting crazy-stupid challenges is getting to be something of a bad habit…) but the RELIEF of having let Granddad out again has affected me far more profoundly than a daft story about dragons should, really…
Challenge – to have the first daft of Breathing Space completed by the end of the year. Hm. Not sure whether I’ll hit this one, thanks to Picky Eaters popping up – but I refuse to let the tail wag the dog. Challenges and targets are there to facilitate my creative process – not ringfence it.

• Continuing to read books and write more reviews – although I hit a rough patch in the middle of November where I read several books in a row that I didn’t like enough to finish. Which had me nearly running out of reviews…
Challenge – to write and publish 100 book reviews on my blog during 2014. I wrote 9 reviews during November, bringing my total to date to 115 reviews.

• The Autumn Term course is now on its last lap and though I have yet to have done the full evaluation with the students, it seems to have been well received. I have completed all but one of the main sets of course handouts for next term and should have them all prepared for printing next week, in readiness for the students in the New Year.
Challenge – to have written at least two sets of course notes for the next academic year by the end of the summer break. The Spring Term’s course notes are now nearly completed, which I regard as an achievement as I have been also working hard on another teaching project.

• This remains the biggest failure. I am stepping away from this until next year. I’ve been thinking long and hard about exactly what has been hampering my progress and I now see how to progress. But it needs time and a flexible, resilient strategy, which I’ll be devising over the Christmas break.
Challenge – submit all my unsold short fiction and poetry. No.

I was surprised to see that November provided my highest word count so far this year. I managed to write another 18,000 words towards Breathing Space which is still going well. As I’ve already mentioned, ‘Picky Eaters’ was another 10,200. The work on next term’s Creative Writing course meant that jumped to just over 10,700 words and my reviews and blogs added 7,500 words, making my monthly wordcount to just over 46,500 words and my yearly total to date to just over 305,000 words.

Shoot for the Moon Challenge – September Roundup

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This is the ambitious goal setting I recklessly signed up for, instigated by writing wingman and all round good egg Mhairi Simpson at the end of December 2013, which now seems a very long time ago. The theory is that even if we miserably failed, we’d still be further along than if we’d set more attainable, sensible targets. So now three-quarters through the year – how am I doing?

  • Breathing Space is growing far more slowly than I’d like. But September was a busy old month, what with Fantasycon moonhappening, getting to grips with a new academic year at Northbrook and zipping up to London for an anniversary getaway… Despite the excuses, I still managed to write 11,500 words towards the novel and have definitely crossed the halfway stage, which is always a significant milestone for me.  Challenge – to have the first daft of Breathing Space completed by the end of the summer. Nope. At my current rate, I’ll be happy to have the first draft finished by the end of the year.
  • I set this challenge in the firm belief that I wouldn’t achieve it – but this is the single challenge that I’m going to have nailed with ease. Typical, isn’t it? The only one that really doesn’t matter all that much. I wrote another 11 reviews during September for my blog. Challenge – to write and publish 100 book reviews on my blog during 2014. I wrote another 11 reviews during September, taking my yearly target to date to 92 reviews.
  • I have now started teaching this term’s course. And no… next term’s course notes aren’t yet written. But I am still aiming to get them completed before the Christmas holidays, which are always very hectic. I wrote 11,930 words towards my Creative Writing course. Challenge – to have written at least two sets of course notes for the next academic year by the end of the summer break. I’m hoping to have the Spring Term notes completed by the end of November.
  • Erm… Well, I’ve made SOME progress in this department. Albeit rather paltry… Challenge – submit all my unsold short fiction and poetry. Not there yet…

Another up and down month – I’d have like to have made more progress with Breathing Space. I added up how much I’d written towards my course since the start of the year, including notes, lesson plans and admin – and the total to date is a jaw-dropping 69,900 words… That doesn’t include emails to students, either… I also wrote 7,400 words in book reviews and blogs this month, making my monthly wordcount 31,150 and my yearly total so far 227,130 words. Hm. Must try harder…