Tag Archives: Miranda’s Tempest

Shoot for the Moon 2017 Challenge – February Roundup

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So now that I blinked twice and discovered February has gone, how have I got on with my writing, reading and blogging targets that I have set myself for the year only last month here?

• Rewrite Miranda’s Tempest
Complete my rewrite of Miranda’s Tempest in response to some very detailed advice on how to improve moonit by an agent during the submission process. I had intended to have it completed by now, but got seriously stalled halfway through December…
This had me tearing my hair out all through January and the first half of February. I’d roll up my sleeves, all set to get stuck in and only to just get stuck… Then in the last quarter of the month, Himself and I went on a walk on one of the few sunny days in the month – and I made a breakthrough halfway through whining to him about how hard it was. He’s a great listener and knows this project almost better than I do, so is an invaluable partner in the whole process. And sure enough, as soon as I sat down I managed to power through it in five days of intense writing nearly 25,000 words. The relief is indescribable…

• Write at least 100 reviews for my blog during 2017
I 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’s post. I also would very much like to get more of my To Be Read pile read and reviewed, so will have another go at the Tackling my TBR Pile this year with the aim of reading at least 30 books during the year from this teetering stack.
During February, I read 17 books, wrote reviews for 16 of them and DNF’d another two which came to just over 16,000 words. This clearly isn’t my usual reading pace and is down to the fact that during half term – unusually – I didn’t have the grandchildren to stay at all so read far more than normal.

• Creative Writing courses
To propose and plan next year’s course to Northbrook College and continue delivering this year’s Creative Writing courses.
This term’s course has gone very well so far, despite the seasonal illnesses that have put a dent in attendance figures. We haven’t had to cancel any sessions due to snow, thank goodness. I have next year’s courses sorted out and will probably be submitting them for approval to Northbrook in the next few weeks. In addition, I have completed writing my One Day Poetry course due to run on Saturday 11th March at Northbrook. I hope to get sufficient students to be able to teach it as it should be great fun.

• Continue teaching TW
Continue delivering the customised syllabus we have managed to find and devise in order to meet Tim’s specific learning requirements.
The decision to increase my hours with Tim has continued to be an unqualified success. Sally and I had an exhaustive planning meeting during February to monitor our progress and came away very heartened at the progress we’re making so far. So now it’s just a question of continuing to focus on the areas that need ongoing development and ensure we go on covering the projects within the necessary timescales.

• Continue to improve my fitness
To continue to attend Fitstep and Pilates classes to improve my fitness and regain the strength and stamina I lost after a decade of chronic lower back pain.
I’m really enjoying both the Pilates and Fitstep classes as I can now see the progress I’ve made in my strength and stamina. I now carefully watch my sugar intake as I realise just how much it aggravates my back and general joint pain, increases the wrinkles on my face and messes with my focus and concentration when I’m trying to write. It’s something of a shock as I have a very sweet tooth and really enjoy my sticky buns… no more, though, except for the very occasional treat.

Despite loathing February as the dreariest month of the year, this one has been nothing but successful work-wise. I wrote just over 51,500 words during the month – a goodly chunk of those on the Miranda’s Tempest rewrite, bringing my yearly total to just under 90,000 words so far.

Shoot for the Moon Challenge 2016 – November Roundup

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

Family issues rather ambushed me and I had little mental energy or necessary headspace required to cope with my demanding rewrite. On a more positive note, I gave a talk at West Sussex Writers on the joy of writing reviews and posting them online and my Creative Writing course gathered momentum, while Sally and I finally sorted out Tim’s syllabus and have drawn up a coherent schedule of work for him for the next two years.

• During November, I read eleven books. Again, it’s been a great reading month. I really enjoyed songsofseraphinethe wonderful the children’s book Clover Moon by Jacqueline Wilson, cyberpunk adventure Synners by Pat Cadigan, Bloodrush by Ben Galley and E.D.E. Bell’s penricsmissionThe Banished Craft – however Songs of Seraphina by Jude Houghton and Penric’s Mission by Lois McMaster Bujold are my standout reads for the month.
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 am currently stranded in the boggy mid-book bit of Miranda’s Tempest. Realistically, I don’t expect to get much further this side of Christmas, but there’s no point in getting in a spin about it. I’ll continue as and when I can manage it.
Challenge – To continue to submit my work.

 

• I’ve continued to improve my fitness with Pilates and Fitstep classes and we’re now learning extra steps for the jive and tango – so much fun … thanks to the marvellous Louisa Jones, an inspired and very patient teacher. I hadn’t quite reached my target weight during November, but it was very close and I am continuing to improve my fitness and stamina.
Challenge – To continue to improve my fitness.

Another month where nothing has gone to plan… Oh well, that’s Life I suppose. I wrote just under 17,000 words on my blog during November, nearly 6,000 words on my teaching admin and just over 10,00 words on my rewrite of Miranda’s Tempest, bringing my total for the month to just under 33,000 words.

How are you getting on with your targets now the year is drawing to an end? Are you anywhere close to fulfilling them?

Shoot For the Moon Challenge 2016 – June Roundup

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Here we are – halfway through the year, already. Though it feels as if we are permanently stuck in April, given the shocking weather. So how am I doing with the targets I set myself back on New Year’s Eve?

• I’m now working on the line edit of Breathing Space. Events like my birthday, the end of the college moonyear at Northbrook and changing over my computer have slowed everything up over the last week and a bit, but overall, I think I’m more or less on track. I now have the covers for all three books – Running Out of Space, Dying for Space and Breathing Space organised, thanks to the wonderful Janet Sked.

During the All Night Write event, I started work on the opening passage of Bloodless, which will be the first book in the Jezel Campo murder mystery series. While it wasn’t my best effort – there was too much going on to really get into my writing zone – it did feel great to actually get back to writing, rather than editing.
Challenge – To have The Sunblinded trilogy published during 2016. Still on target…

• I read 10 books in June and will be reviewing all of them. I have slipped slightly behind on my reviews of NetGalley arcs, as I miscalculated just how long it would take me to read Justin Cronin’s The Passage. It’s a remarkable book, but a really hefty read and I had a whole lot of other things going on. I have read 76 books so far this year and enjoyed most of them.
Challenge – To review a minimum of 100 books during 2016 and widen my reading to include more authors new to me.

I should be able to achieve this target, though it won’t necessarily be with such a wide margin as the numbers might suggest so far. The numbers of books this month I managed to read has fallen and I’m expecting that trend to continue through the summer while I get through the mountain of work I’ve got waiting for me. However, I am really enjoying blogging and interacting with fellow book bloggers.

• I have now completed this year’s Creative Writing classes at Northbrook College, other than a one-day Summer Surgery course on Friday 22nd July. It has been a successful year, with most students continuing to improve and several celebrating successes in competitions.
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.

eve-of-war-finalThere are still a couple of my 2016 Shoot for Moon challenges that need serious attention, but I am reasonably pleased with where I am halfway through the year – I just need to sustain my momentum. I was delighted that my short story ‘Miranda’s Tempest’ was published in the anthology Eve of War. I wrote just over 13,000 words on my blog in June and just under 5,500 words on teaching admin, as well as nearly 1,000 words on Bloodless – though a fair chunk of those won’t ever see the light of day!

How about you – how did you get on during June? Are you where you want to be halfway through 2016?

Shoot for the Moon Challenge 2016 – March Roundup

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Another month that has slid by far too fast – and here we are with Spring springing and a quarter of the year already gone… So am I on track to meet my crazily ambitious writing and publishing targets?

• As I reported last month, both Running Out of Space and Dying for Space were a nice surprise when I sjhigbeefinalcame to look at them again. But Breathing Space was bound to pose more of a challenge as this was the first time I’d looked at the manuscript since I’d finished writing it last January. I’m now about halfway through the first major rewrite. I’ve introduced a murder and a kerfuffle in a tunnel and fixed a hatful of niggling formatting errors, mistakes with the Spanish and typos. Hopefully by the end of the month I will have completed this pass and be checking the Kindle format for Running Out of Space on my Kindle.
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.

• I have finally completed checking Miranda’s Tempest – my fantasy novel charting the fortunes of Miranda and Prospero after they leave their enchanted island in Shakespeare’s The Tempest. It was slow, fiddly work and I didn’t want to rush it, but I completed the job to my satisfaction during the second week of March. I’ve put it on one side and will look at it one more time before sending it anywhere after I’ve completed the edit on Breathing Space to check it’s fit to submit.
Challenge – to get Miranda’s Tempest fit to send out by the end of the Easter holidays. I want to get at least one more pair of eyes to check it over for me before sending it out, so am waiting for feedback…

I read 15 books and wrote 14 reviews during March, which I think is some sort of record. Again, it’s been a blast to read so many great books. 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. I have acquired more NetGalley ARC copies, and am in the process of organising my reading schedule, so I don’t miss downloading books by accident – which happened a couple of times last year. I am continuing to widen my reading and during March I encountered five authors I hadn’t read before. Read my Discovery Challenge March Roundup here.
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 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 some of my other targets.

I’m very pleased with my blogging and reading targets, as I produced a blog every day, something I don’t think I’ve managed before. I wrote just over 13,500 words on blogs and just under 12,000 words on teaching admin. As I’m in the depths of Editland, I have produced a paltry 2,000 words on creative writing, which brings March’s wordcount to just over 27,000 words. Am I on target? So long as I manage to get this editing pass of Breathing Space completed by the end of the month and the Running Out of Space formatting continues to behave well. But it’s going to be a close-run thing, of course it is – after all, I’m shooting for the Moon…

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 2016 Challenge – January Roundup

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Mhairi Simpson, and I have set ourselves some crazy writing-related goals over the last several moonyears with variable results. But I have found the experience so very helpful in keeping my focus throughout the year, it was a no-brainer as to what I’d be doing as 2015 sputtered to a close in a flurry of fireworks. So what goals have I set for 2016?

• Publish the Sunblinded trilogy
As some of you know, I was all set to go with this target, having planned to release Running Out of Space in time for Fantasycon 2015 at the end of October – and fell at the last hurdle because I had major problems formatting the book to a suitable standard. And then was ill throughout November with a dreadful cold that would not lift – chiefly due to exhaustion.

However, my clever son has sorted out the formatting issues for me, so I’m hoping to have both Running Out of Space and Dying for Space released together in the first half of 2016, followed by the final book in the trilogy, Breathing Space, in the autumn. I have learnt my lesson, though. No spreading the word about release dates until I have everything set up and ready to go!
It was huge breakthrough to understand what went so wrong and why – not something I’m going to bore you with, seeing as it’s an arcane techie niggle. But it means I should not run into the same problems again!

• 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?

• Complete Chaos in New Cluster
This is the novel my writing pal, Michael Griffiths, and I started in 2014. We still haven’t managed to finish it, but perhaps this will be the year when we can get it completed. It’s not a priority as we both have plenty else to be getting on with.

• Complete Picky Eaters
This is the novella that mushroomed from my short story, published at Every Day Fiction longer ago than I care to think. Another story that wouldn’t rest in my head until I completed the whole tale… While reading it to the grandchildren over the Christmas holidays, I realised there were another couple of plotpoints that needed tidying up, so I have it pencilled into my editing schedule during the summer when I’m not teaching, to have a go at getting it to a publishable standard. All being well, I intend to see if I can self-publish it at the start of December.

• Edit Miranda’s Tempest
This is one of the successes of last year. This novel has been burning a hole in my brain for the best part of a year, after I made a couple of false starts. When teaching The Tempest, I always felt that Miranda sailing off to marry Prince Ferdinand was never going to work – she’s been running around an enchanted island in her father’s cutdown robes since she was a toddler, which simply will not prepare her for surviving life as a 15th century Italian princess. And I finally managed to complete it while I was ill during November, given that I couldn’t sleep and couldn’t seem to concentrate on reading. I now need to knock it into shape so I can send it out to some agents.
I am working through it right now, as it still won’t leave me alone. I’m more than halfway through the manuscript and so far have lost 8 pages as I’m tightening it up and ensuring the language is appropriate for the Shakespearean period. It’s a balancing act to keep the feel of the language without too many forsooths and I prithees cluttering up the narrative drive…

• Submit Miranda’s Tempest and Unearthly Things Above
While submitting my work still happens in fits and starts, rather than the smoothly rolling process I’d planned in theory, it hadn’t been completely discouraging. A number of agents requested to see the full manuscript of Mantivore Dreams and said nice things about my writing. Meanwhile Netted is under consideration by a publisher. I don’t want to say more at this stage, but I plan to send out Miranda’s Tempest and Unearthly Things Above as soon as they are suitably shiny and good to go.

• Write at least 100 reviews for my blog
As 2015 was the second year in a row that I nailed this challenge, I’ve decided to fine-tune it. While I don’t want to extend the number of books I read and review, I am going to apply for more Netgalley ARCs and read and review more new releases. There is a real buzz about doing this – and as reading is my main hobby, increasing the excitement and fun can only be a good thing. I’ve also already signed up to the Discovery Challenge, thanks to Joanne Hall’s thoughtful post – read it here – which is to read and review at least one female author I haven’t read before per month, then report back in a specific blog, which should keep me on the ball…
I wrote 12 reviews during January, which came to just over 10,915 words. Half the books I completed were by authors I hadn’t previously read and five were new releases. I don’t think for a second that I shall be able to sustain those shiny stats – the slew of new releases were affordable due to Amazon vouchers and book tokens as Christmas gifts. But I am hoping to be able to continue to read and review at least two female authors new to me every month.

• Propose and plan Creative Writing courses for the academic year 2016/17
I have next year’s courses sorted out, but during the second half of the term I will be submitting them for approval to Northbrook College. I really would like to have the course notes and plans written by the end of the summer holidays, and so long as I work hard, that should be doable.
So far this term is going well – although a number of students have gone down with various bugs and illnesses and I’ll be glad when they have all recovered!

• Work on the teaching syllabus for TW
Since taking on teaching my friend’s son, County have given the go-ahead for the current situation to prevail. So we are now getting organised to start teaching him the English GCSE syllabus and I will be taking responsibility for the planning and delivery of both the English Language and Literature. This is hugely challenging – but also extremely exciting as only a few years ago, no one would have thought he would be in a position to consider taking such qualifications due to his autism.
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, which left me with ongoing sciatica that meant I was a constant visitor to the Physio. Doubtless spending hours in front of the computer aggravated the situation, but I found I couldn’t go on long walks, swim or spend an undue amount of time gardening. Then last year, Mhairi suggested I get a TENS machine to see if it would improve the nerve pain during yet another flare-up that was making my life a misery. It worked! Last June, I spent the day at Kew Gardens for my birthday treat, walking up the stairs in the Palm House and around the grounds without so much as a twinge.
I’ve now been signed off by the Physio and am on my second course of Pilates – yay! Himself and I have also started hiking again, albeit gently. But it’s marvellous – I feel I’ve got my life back. My ambition is to resume my regular swims, which I used to enjoy and increase the distance I can walk. And in case you’re wondering how this impacts my writing – it’s huge. I used to battle through the nerve pain to write, and now I don’t have to, it is such a wonderful relief…

Those are my 2016 Shoot for the Moon Challenges. Wish me luck!

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.