Tag Archives: monthly roundup

Shoot for the Moon 2017 Challenge – February Roundup


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 – June Roundup


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 2015 – June Roundup


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 – April Roundup


We are now a third of the way through 2015, though that fact alone has me shaking my head in moondisbelief and wondering if Dr Who has been messing with the Time/Space continuum again… So how am I doing with the stupid ambitious challenges I set myself on New Year’s Eve, which was SURELY only the day before yesterday?
• I’ve gone through Dying For Space once, but this has been a particularly busy month. In addition to starting the summer term at Northbrook College, I also went on a wonderful short-break holiday to Venice with my family. So I need to refocus on the manuscript, printing it out and slashing passages with my pencil – I really haven’t found a better way to do it… I’ve had some thoughts about the book covers and need to get cracking on sorting those out, too.
Challenge – to have all three books of The Sunblinded Trilogy ready for self-publication by August. Um. Right now I’m not convinced I’ll make it. However, I should have Running Out of Space ready to go. I’m still waiting for feedback from my beta readers, brave souls that they are. And of course, if a major rewrite is necessary, then timescales may need some more shifting about.
• I’ve written 9 reviews this month, which means that my target of writing 100 reviews this year is still on track – although again I was a tad dismayed by the number of books I started and didn’t finish. But as I’m now reading more authors new to me, it is inevitable I suppose.
Challenge – to write and publish 100 book reviews on my blog during 2015. So far, on target…
• I’ve been submitting Mantivore Dreams and Netted to agents and now I’m in the situation where I’m waiting for responses. I’ve been impressed with the speed and efficiency with which my submissions have been dealt with, but obviously when a manuscript has been requested, it’s bound to take a little longer.
Challenge – to continue submitting Mantivore Dreams and Netted until I manage to get representation. Still ongoing.
• The new term has now started at Northbrook and I have slightly changed the structure to make the course a bit more interactive. Many of my students are regulars, who have been coming to the courses for several years. I wanted to take account of this and change things around a bit. I’ve now been teaching at Northbook for 6 years and I don’t want to fall into any kind of rut.
I am also now working one-to-one with a young student. It’s enormously rewarding, but takes a great deal of effort and thinking time to get absolutely nailed.
Challenge – to keep abreast of all my teaching commitments.

I’m finding Life a bit of a trudge at the moment, to be honest. I haven’t written anything creative other than a couple of poems now since the end of January and although I’ve tried – I cannot write anything worth the name while I’m hacking through the thickets of Editland. I’m the ultimate monotasker. It’s always been something of a handicap, but right now is really biting me in the bottom as my brain is starting to chew on itself while I’m not writing anything creative. It may well be for this reason alone, I’ll miss my target of getting the Sunblinded trilogy self-published by August. While I’m adorable, of course, right now I’m liable to suddenly morph into Bitchqueen of the Universe. And I love Himself too much to unleash Bitchqueen onto him more than is absolutely necessary…

I wrote just under 7,600 words in book reviews and blogs this month, my Northbrook and teaching commitments took just over 8,000 words, which makes my monthly writing total around 15,600 words and my yearly total so far to just under 85,000.

Shoot for the Moon Challenge 2015 – March Roundup


This is my monthly report of how I’m getting on in relation to the very ambitious goals I set with the moonhelp of Mhairi Simpson, outstanding taskmaster friend and writing confidante on New Year’s Eve. So now we’re a quarter of the way through the year – when did THAT happen? – how am I doing?
• I’ve now completed editing Running Out of Space, which is now being read by my Writing Group and some hardy volunteers (many, many thanks – you know who you are…). So have turned my attention to Dying for Space. As we’ve just started the Easter holidays and I’ve been grannying, I haven’t really had the chance to turn my full attention to the manuscript. I’m a bit behind where I wanted to be, but I’m hoping that once I get down to it, the manuscript will pose less problems than Running Out of Space – at least there won’t be any errant Americanisms to chase down and eradicate!
Challenge – to have all three books of The Sunblinded Trilogy ready for self publication by August. It’s going to be tight, but I think it’s still doable. I have a fallback position if Breathing Space proves to be too much of a task to knock into shape within the timeframe as I have NO intention of releasing anything that is not the best I can possibly make it.
• I’ve written 10 reviews this month for my blog, which means that my target of writing 100 reviews this year is still on track – although I was slightly hampered as I read a string of books I didn’t like enough to complete. It doesn’t happen to me very often, but I found it rather annoying – and disappointing. But it is an inevitable consequence of reading more books from authors I haven’t previously encountered
Challenge – to write and publish 100 book reviews on my blog during 2015. So far, so good – but I’m very aware that at this stage plenty could happen to derail this particular target.
• I’m still sending submissions to agents for Mantivore Dreams and Netted and took part in the amazing PITMAD event on Twitter, which was so much fun and a great experience. However, I’ve been careful in selecting agents who I really believe would be a good match for my genre and my personality – it seems pointless to carpetbomb every agent who is looking to expand their lists, regardless of whether I think we’d work well together. And if that sounds like an excuse… well, I’m still on the case.
Challenge – to continue submitting Mantivore Dreams and Netted until I get representation. Still ongoing.
• I now need to roll up my sleeves and get cracking on my course notes and lesson plans for next term. I have now taken on another part-time teaching post which will, hopefully, continue for another several years until the youngster has attained his GCSE’s.
Challenge – to get the course notes and lesson plans written this month for the summer term.

Things are ticking over. While editing is no longer the loathed task it used to be, I still far prefer writing than word-combing my manuscripts. I know I need to shake the sense that I’m only ‘properly’ working when I’m writing the first draft – it clearly isn’t the case, but it still somehow feels like it.

I wrote just over 7,700 words in book reviews and blogs this month, my Northbrook and teaching commitments took just over 4,000 words, which makes my monthly writing total around 11,800 words and my yearly total so far to just over 69,000.

Shoot for the Moon 2015 Challenge – January Roundup


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.

Shoot for the Moon Challenge – July Roundup


moonThis is the ambitious goal setting inspired by writing buddy Mhairi Simpson waaay back at the end of December – said goals were set under the influence of strong Assam – in the belief that even if we failed, we would still have achieved far more than if our targets had been more sensible. So at the end of yet another month – how am I doing?
Breathing Space is still progressing steadily, if more slowly than I really would like. I’ve just been away and been grannying fairly intensively (it’s what tends to happen during the summer holidays…) so the writing has inevitably slowed up somewhat. But I do feel I’ve reached a point where I can dive back into Jezell’s world without too much effort – and she has finally overcome her tendency to burble away at the reader in tell mode.
Challenge – to have the first daft of Breathing Space completed by the end of August. Being realistic, I think it’s more likely to be finished in early September.
• I set this challenge in the firm belief that I wouldn’t achieve it – but up to now it has sort of taken care of itself and July was no different. But during the last week of the month I started 2 books that I didn’t bother to finish and completed 2 others that I’m not going to review as I didn’t sufficiently enjoy them. So I’m not sure I shall be able to continue to sustain my output.
Challenge – to write and publish 100 book reviews on my blog during 2014. I wrote another 10 reviews during July, so I should be able to achieve this target with ease.
• I completed Chapter 21 of Chaos in New Cluster and my amazing writing partner and I are starting to plan how we are going to wind up with particular adventure, which has been a total blast.
Challenge – to complete Chaos in New Cluster which I am writing with Michael J. Griffiths before the end of the year. This is looking very doable.
• I now need to roll up my sleeves and get cracking on my course notes for next term – particularly as both courses are already full. I’d love to be one of those folks who can perform two major tasks at the same time – but I’m not. While I’m planning and writing my Creative Writing courses, my novel writing has to stop, otherwise I don’t get the necessary depth and quality in either the course notes or writing exercises.
Challenge – to have written at least two sets of course notes for the next academic year by the end of the summer break. Not yet started. Watch this space…
• Nope. Again dismally failed at this target.
Challenge – submit all my unsold short fiction and poetry. Another wholesale failure at this particular target.

Again, it’s been a mixed month – although I’m happier with Breathing Space, having written 26,000 words this month and nearly at the halfway point. If I didn’t have to write the course notes and spend more chunks of my time grannying, I’d probably get it completed this month. However, those are also crucial calls on my time and non-negotiable for completely different reasons.

Writing just over 5,000 words toward Chaos in New Cluster, has brought this rom-com science fiction post-apocalyptic thriller closer to the finishing post (Mike and I haven’t so much mashed up our genres – more like creamed them with added spice and nuttiness along the way…)  I also wrote 7,000 words in book reviews and blogs this month, taking my monthly writing total to 38,000 words in July and my yearly total so far to 184,000. If only I could get to grips with submitting my work – I’d be really pleased with myself…