Tag Archives: Shoot for the Moon Challenge

Weekly Wrap-Up – 17th April 2016

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Fritillary & bee on rudbeckia1

This is part of the weekly meme over at the Caffeinated Book Reviewer, where book bloggers can share the books and blogs they have written.
This week I only read two books, which I’ll be reviewing when they are due to be published as they are both NetGalley arcs. For the rest, I have been up to my neck in paperwork, preparing for my summer term Creative Writing course, which seems to have come around insanely fast.

I also held a Filking Workshop at West Sussex Writers on Thursday evening, which also took some preparation and organisation. I’ve never done one of those before – but everyone responded brilliantly and we had a really enjoyable evening, ending up with a singsong.

The books I read were:

 

brightblazeofmagicBright Blaze of Magic – Book 3 of the Black Blades series by Jennifer Estap
This adventure fantasy is a swords and sorcery fully of incident, featuring a smart heroine who is capable of taking care of herself. This deftly written story is brimming with strong characters and interesting monsters. I’ll be posting a review on or about 26th April, which it is due to be published.

 

The End of the World Running Club by Adrian J. Walkerendoftheworldrunningclub
This apocalyptic road tale is set in Edinburgh. Ed, the protagonist, is overweight, under-exercised and wearily cynical. He drinks too much and doesn’t spend enough quality time with his small daughter and baby son. And then the world ends – and he is in the position of having to fight for them. I’ll be reviewing this one at the beginning of May, when the book is published.

My posts last week were:-
Weekly Wrap-Up – 10th April

Shoot for the Moon Challenge 2016 – March Roundup

Teaser Tuesday – Bright Blaze of Magic – Book 3 of the Black Blades series by Jennifer Estap

Review of Deceptions – Book 3 of the Cainsville series by Kelley Armstrong

Review of Beaver Towers – Book 1 of the Beaver Towers series by Nigel Hinton

Friday Faceoff – UK vs US books covers of The Forever Watch by David Ramirez – see my review here

Review of Cinder – Book 1 of the Luna Chronicles series by Marissa Meyer

I’m hoping to be able to get back to my editing schedule this coming week for The Sunblinded trilgoy. In the meantime, many thanks for everyone who has visited and commented on my posts – I really appreciate it. Have a great week.

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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 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 2015 – February Roundup

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

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

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

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

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

2014 Shoot for the Moon Challenge – How Did I Do?

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New Year’s Eve 2014, Mhairi Simpson and I concocted a madcap plan whereby we set ourselves a moonseries of ridiculously ambitious writing challenges in the belief that even if we failed, we would still accomplish far more than if we’d been more sensible. At that point, I was halfway through writing Miranda’s Tempest, continuing to build up my blog and teaching Creative Writing at Northbrook College. What happened next?
• Early in 2014 I ran into a brick wall with Miranda’s Tempest with just over half the story written. I realised there was a major faultline running through the current structure and the manuscript would need a long rest while I figured out how to fix it. So I turned to the first two books I’ve written in the Sunblinded trilogy Running Out of Space and Dying for Space, which both needed further editing. After getting ROOS up together except for the Spanish phrases, and having DFS at the stage where the plot anomalies, character inconsistencies and general overwriting had been heavily pruned, I started writing Breathing Space, the final instalment in the trilogy, which also sets up Jezell as my science fiction private investigator who will be flummoxed by a number of unusual crimes in a new series I plan to start in 2016. So I shifted my Challenge to complete the first draft of Breathing Space before the end of the year.
I didn’t succeed at this one. I’m between 10,000 and 15,000 words short of the end, so should have the book completed by the end of January. I also know where I went wrong with Miranda’s Tempest, so will be having another go at completing it in 2015.
• The Challenge was to read at least 120 books and write 100 reviews for my blog.
I actually read 143 books, and started another 20 which I didn’t bother to complete and wrote 126 reviews, most of which are already published on my blog. This rather random Challenge was the most successful of the year and has also resulted in a steady increase in my viewing figures on my blog throughout the year. Thank you everyone who has taken the time and trouble to read my reviews and articles – and that goes double for those of you who then actually comment on the content. One of the reasons why this Challenge was relatively easy to achieve is that I really enjoy reviewing books and interacting with other readers.
• The Challenge was to have the notes and lesson plans completed for the first two terms of the 2014/15 academic year’s Creative Writing course I teach at Northbrook College before the end of the summer break.
This didn’t happen. August ended up being very busy, which effectively holed that plan. But I managed to complete both courses in plenty of time, thus avoiding any last-minute rush – a state of affairs I loathe as I don’t produce my best work under pressure. So while I missed this particular Challenge, I don’t regard this as a Fail.
• The Challenge was to submit all my unsold poems and short stories to different publications.
Complete and unmitigated failure. I submitted one poem and a couple of stories and when I received the rejection emails, I let them lapse. Even to the editor that said while the piece wasn’t what they were looking for – he would be happy to consider any other work I had available… I know, I know – you don’t have to say it.

Why did I fail so disastrously at this particular Challenge? I’ve been giving this a lot of thought – and I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s because I want to be a published novelist far more than an acknowledged poet and short story author. As the year progressed, I’ve been increasingly focused on my books – and while I hated letting this Challenge slide, succeeding would have meant spent days poring over submission guidelines. And that was time I couldn’t afford to take away from writing or editing my novels.

So one important lesson I learnt this year – take care to ensure any future challenges are relevant to my goals. In the meantime, I wrote a total of 325,700 words last year split between my teaching commitments, my blog and my WIPs – and yet if I’d had to guess, I would have estimated that I’d written around 100,000 words, which just goes to show that I’m shockingly bad at estimating my work rate.

Overall, my Shoot the Moon Challenge was a success. Not due to my having failed or achieved any of the particular goals I set – but because it kept me focused and the monthly round-ups forced me to confront those goals I was missing and work out why I kept missing them. Therefore Mhairi and I sat down a couple of days ago – New Year’s Day – and wrote another set of ambitious targets. More about those at the end of January…

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 – October Roundup

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This is just getting silly! ANOTHER month has slipped by and we’re now running towards the end of the year – when did that happen? So the ridiculously ambitious challenges I set myself at the start of the year, aided and abetted by my partner in crime Mhairi Simpson, are winding up, or down (depending on where you are standing). The idea was that if I set myself stupid-crazy goals and failed, I would still be further ahead than I would have been if my targets had been more sensible. What can I say? It was very, very late and we’d been drinking a LOT of strong tea…
• Breathing Space continues to throw me major curved balls. After the shenanigans at the start of the novel, when I ended up telling moonFAR too much, as opposed to showing the action – I’d got into the groove and had started congratulating myself on the steady progress I was making. When it all slid away in Chapter 19 and I wrote a left turn that wasn’t in the plan. I’m normally reasonably laid back about such a development – but this is the last book in a trilogy and I need to have all the major plotlines sorted out in 20,000/30,000 words’ time. And this is a MAJOR detour. So should I scrap all this hindbrain stuff and stick to the plan? Or go with the flow?

I stomped around feeling grumpy and off balance for a couple of days, while I debated what to do. Angry internal dialogues raged – I should be getting some RIGOUR in my writing! It’s all very well ‘trusting your creative instincts’ but is that going to cut it in a professional career? I am writing this book to a schedule and have undertaken to have the whole trilogy ready to be published by next July – what am I playing at, allowing a major new development with a character who will be my science fiction private investigator for – hopefully – a reasonably long-running series? However, one of the advantages in having written a ridiculous number of books is that I do know my own writing process reasonably well. And I decided to allow this development to run for the duration of the chapter and see whether it would be able to be tucked back under the control of the main plotline – and sure enough, by the middle of Chapter 21, I saw daylight emerging… Have to say – each novel is an adventure which doesn’t get any less exciting or white-knuckled.
Challenge – to have the first daft of Breathing Space completed by the end of the year. I think I should have the book finished by the end of next month – whether I’ll be a gibbering wreck by that stage is more debatable. This book has posed some interesting, gnarly issues…

• Nailed. Which isn’t surprising as this was the only challenge that didn’t really matter all that much.
Challenge – to write and publish 100 book reviews on my blog during 2014. I wrote another 14 reviews during October, taking my yearly target to date to 106 reviews. Those of you who kindly follow my blog know that I also posted my 555th blog this month.

• We have now reached half term and the course is going well. I am planning to make next term’s course more interactive with more time devoted to writing exercises – and I have also worked out what topics I want to cover next year, which is always handy…
Challenge – to have written at least two sets of course notes for the next academic year by the end of the summer break. Still hoping to have the Spring Term’s course notes written by the end of the month – although I have just taken on a major teaching commitment until Christmas that might derail this one.

• I’m refusing to beat myself up over this one. It’s been a major issue throughout the year – doing this mad exercise has thrown up a couple of big roadblocks to my writing career – and this is one of them… So I am now aware of just what a problem this is – next step is to devote a chunk of realistic time to address it.
Challenge – submit all my unsold short fiction and poetry. No.

Another interesting month. Breathing Space has certainly provided more than its fair share of excitement. That said, I managed to write 18,600 words this month, bringing the overall word count to just over 106,000 of the first draft – though I’ve junked around 30,000 words of that total. I also wrote 2,400 words on admin for my Creative Writing courses and around 10,600 words towards reviews and articles for the blog – this brought my monthly wordcount to just over 31,750 words and my yearly total to date to just over 258,900 words. I don’t think I need to necessarily work harder – but certainly a whole lot smarter… And that’s going to be my focus for next year.

Shoot for the Moon Challenge – August Roundup

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This is the insane soaring goal setting cooked up between Mhairi Simpson and myself in the depths of December. moonThe theory is that even if we miss, we’ll still be better off than if we’d been sensible more timid. So at the end of August – is anything going to plan? At all?

Breathing Space juddered to a complete halt during August. Busy with the course notes, madly loom-banding for yet another challenge (a grannying one), and with family commitments swallowing up chunks of time, the novel writing didn’t happen. Whether I can easily get back into Jezell’s world after my initial struggles to get going remains to be seen.
Challenge – to have the first daft of Breathing Space completed by the end of September. Not a chance in hell. I’ll be lucky to get it completed by the end of October.

• I set this challenge in the firm belief that I wouldn’t achieve it – and am still on course to complete it with ease… The one that doesn’t really matter *sigh…*
Challenge – to write and publish 100 book reviews on my blog during 2014. I wrote 5 reviews in August, bringing my yearly total to 81 so far.

• I completed my course handouts for this coming term – just as well as we start back in a fortnight. It took a bit longer than usual due to a very busy start to the month. I still have the lesson plans to write, but hopefully that won’t take more than a couple of days concentrated work.
Challenge – to have written at least two sets of course notes for the next academic year by the end of the summer break. Nope. But I have got this coming term’s notes written.

• Nope. Total failure. Nuff said…
Challenge – submit all my unsold short fiction and poetry.

A really frustrating month writingwise. Although all sorts of good things happened as a wife and granny (we got to see Kate Bush in concert on the opening night, for instance…). I wrote 5,000 words in book reviews and blogs this month and 6,500 words on my Creative Writing course, taking my monthly writing total to a paltry 11,500 words and my yearly total so far to just under 195,000.

The only good news about August’s dismal showing is that it can only get better…

Shoot for the Moon Challenge – May Roundup

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My writing buddy Mhairi Simpson and I decided way back last December to set ourselves some over-ambitious goals for 2014, so that in trying to achieve them, we’d get a great deal more done, than if we’d been more sensible. So now that May has flitted past so unacceptably quickly, how are my targets shaping up?

• I’d edited myself to a standstill combing Running Out of Space and Dying for Space for errors, so last month decided to start writing Breathing Space, the third book of the Sunblinded trilogy I plan to self publish by the end of the year. Have to say, it has been slow going – not helped when Scrivener had a fit and tucked away the first couple of chapters somewhere nifty and hidden on my hardrive… I’ve also junked a third of the 12,500 words I’ve written so far as it was basically writing-my-way-into-the-story bumph. Thanks to the wonderful Sarah Palmer, I’ve realised there should be a lot more tension between my protagonist and one of the key characters, so hopefully this month I should be able to really get cracking on this.
Challenge – Have first draft of Breathing Space completed by the end of August. In progress

• Mhairi is currently checking the Spanish phrases I’ve used in Running Out of Space to ensure they read right. So far, she reckons that while they are grammatically correct, they don’t all colloquially pass muster – not a surprise as it is a loong time since I studied Spanish. Then I’m turning the m/s over to my trusty editor…
Challenge – Have Running Out of Space edited and formatted, ready for publication by the end of the year. On target.

• I’m now blogging or reblogging every day, which has increased the flow of visitors to my site. I mostly write book reviews – but I did take a deep breath and wrote quite a personal blog on my son’s birthday. At the start of this Shoot the Moon Challenge, I confidently predicted that this particular target would utterly fail, but eerily, I am STILL on track, having written 13 book reviews this last month.
Challenge – to write and publish 100 book reviews on my blog during 2014. In progress, as I’ve already written 54 reviews.

• With only a handful of weeks left to go before this year’s Creative Writing classes finish at Northbrook College, I’m starting to evaluate the overall experience. I’m blessed with a wonderful set of students – they are all enthusiastic and open to different forms of writing, which makes them great fun to teach.
Challenge – Successfully complete this year’s Creative Writing classes. In Progress.

• Along with the rest of the West Sussex Writers’ committee, I have been reading through the entries for our National Competition. During May we produced our longlist, which we reread and marked. A great effort by everyone involved – we work really well together. So the shortlist is now ready – yay!
Challenge – Read and mark entries for the West Sussex Writers National Short Story Competition. Completed.

• I owe Michael D. Griffithsmoon – my writing buddy and co-writer of our humorous, post-apocalyptic science fiction novel – Chapter 21 of Chaos in New Cluster. What with the WSW Short Story Competition and the glitches in starting Breathing Space, I didn’t so much drop this ball as never picked the damn thing up. At all…
Challenge – To complete the first draft of Chaos in New Cluster this side of Christmas. It’s still doable, but only if I get a serious wriggle on and write Ch. 21 this month.

• I undertook to submit all my available short fiction and poetry. And I’ve failed. Again. Have to say that I debated leaving this section out. But there’s no point in giving a Roundup if I don’t come clean about the failures as well as the successes, is there? It takes a LOT of time to comb through likely publications and see what I have that will fit – and it’s time I just don’t have right now.
Challenge – To submit all my short fiction and poetry to suitable publications and/or competitions… Bah – humbug!

This month has been a mixed bag… I bought and started using Scrivener, which has been a rather lumpy experience although it’s getting smoother. I’ve written 26,000 words this month, with Breathing Space taking 12,800 words, 7,300 words going towards writing blogs and book reviews, and 5,800 words on administration tasks towards my Creative Writing courses. This takes my 2014 wordcount so far to 114,000.

Shoot for the Moon Challenge – April Roundup

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At the end of last year, I and Mhairi Simpson decided to aim for insanely ambitious targets, using the theory that in an effort to achieve them, we would get more done than if we had been more sensible in our goal-setting. It does make more sense as a strategy at 3 am after having downed several mugs of strong Assam – really… So how are things working out?

  • I am giving myself a rest from editing both Running Out of Space and Dying for Space as I’d got to a point where I couldn’t see the story for the words… Challenge – have both Running Out of Space and Dying for Space completed, including edits, by the end of April – In Progress.
  • I wrote 12 reviews in April and am now posting something on my blog every day – including my reviews. Challenge – to write and publish 100 book reviews in 2014 on my blog. For the 4th month in a row, this target is on track…
  •  My Summer Term Creative Writing courses started this week, so I am still working on the related admin. In April, I ran a Therapeutic Life Writing 1 day course with a colleague, who is also a trained counsellor – it was an amazing roller-coaster experience, and we have had some very positive feedback so now want to make it a regular occurrence for those who attended. Challenge – to run our 1 Day Therapeutic Life Writing course. Lyn and I have been working on this for over a year and were excited about its power to help people in a difficult place emotionally. I am very proud that we successfully started this project – and I couldn’t wish for a better partner. Achieved and ongoing.
  • West Sussex Writers ran a national Short Story competition with a 3,000 word limit – no, I didn’t submit (more on that later…). As a member of the committee, I was part of the reading team tasked with compiling the long list, so during April ended up reading fifty-something short stories and marking them. It has taken up a lot of time, as obviously, it isn’t something to be rushed. Our team have now completed the first read-through, and will shortly be working on the long list. Challenge – to read and mark entries for the West Sussex Writers’ National Short Story Competition. In Progress.
  • I am team-writing a book with author Michael D. Griffiths moon– we started a crazy thread when we both were members of SFReader.com and found that we thoroughly enjoyed the fact that when we write together, we produce something completely different from our normal output. This was a book we started a couple of years ago – since then Life has intruded and we haven’t managed to complete it as fast as we would have liked. But Chaos in New Cluster is now approaching the final climax and I am working on Chapter 21. Hope to have it back to Mike within the next couple of weeks. Challenge – to finish the first draft of Chaos in New Cluster during 2014. In Progress.
  • I undertook to submit all my short fiction and poetry to magazines or competitions and this month I’ve failed AGAIN. Miserably… I MUST knuckle down and put in the hours it takes to comb through and find suitable markets, then edit/adjust my work accordingly. AND SEND IT OUT! Challenge – to submit all my short fiction and poetry to magazines or competitions. Failed AGAIN!!

During April, I wrote a paltry 15,000 words, most of which were book reviews, taking my yearly total to a mere 88,500 words. Have to say, I’ve been trudging towards the computer these last couple of weeks as the admin tasks have stacked up. So instead of being all sensible about clearing the decks, etc – after writing this, my instinct is just to plunge into Breathing Space as the buzz of writing will probably mean I’ll power through the admin that at present seems like a dreary slog.