Tag Archives: writing progress and problems

Shoot for the Moon 2018 Challenge – How Did I Do? #Brainfluffblog #AuthorAnnals4

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This is now an annual event – in the dying days of the year, my writing buddy Mhairi Simpson and I sit down together and set ourselves targets for the coming year. The theory is that in aiming for the insanely unrealistic, we’ll achieve more than if we were more cautious in our goalsetting – did this work for me during 2018?
• Rewrite Miranda’s Tempest and submit it to the agent who expressed an interest in it
Well, I did the rewrite, submitted the manuscript to an editor in June and got the feedback. By then, I was in the throes of rewriting The Arcadian Chronicles, which I thought wouldn’t take all that long. However, it has. It is still doing so. Which means that Miranda’s Tempest is still waiting to be sorted out. I am hoping to get to it during the summer, However, during the long break from it, I have had a major epiphany regarding the beginning. A – duh! moment where I can’t believe I didn’t take this approach before. It should improve the pacing, make the reader immediately aware of what’s at stake and start the story with a bang.

• Organise new covers for Running Out of Space and Dying for Space
It helps when your best writing buddy also happens to be an awesome cover designer – I was so grateful when Mhairi agreed to help me out and the general response has been nothing but positive since I released the books with the new covers.

• Rewrite, edit and publish Breathing Space
Yes – this was all achieved, so that Breathing Space now completes The Sunblinded Trilogy, after being published on 18th July. I have also set up the story so that Lizzy is poised to start a new chapter in her life, once I start writing the crime series featuring her next series of adventures.

• Rewrite, edit and publish Mantivore Preys and Mantivore Freed
This is another casualty of my poor writing performance during the latter end of the year. I’m now nearly halfway through Mantivore Preys, which I more or less started on schedule – and then started wading through glue as the story graunched from one dead-end to another. At last my writing is gathering momentum again, so I’m hoping to complete the book by the end of February. With luck and a following wind, I’ll also have the first draft of Mantivore Freed finished by the end of the summer. Fingers crossed… I have the covers ready for these books and am really looking forward to getting them completed and published.

• Release paperback editions for Running Out of Space, Dying for Space and Breathing Space
I have released Running Out of Space as a paperback and had hoped to have Dying for Space done before the end of the year. However, it didn’t happen – again due to my illness. Hopefully, I’ll have Dying for Space and Breathing Space both available in paperback format by the end of February.

• Write the first draft of Bloodless
No, I didn’t get close. My health became a real issue from the time I returned from my lovely writing retreat. Even before then, I wasn’t happy with the quality of my writing which had lost its bounce and energy. It turns out I was the one without any bounce and only now, since my diagnosis of hypertension, am I starting to feel like my old self as the medication is starting to take effect.

• Learn to market my books
Himself and I attended a marketing conference at the early part of the year and came away a tad overwhelmed, but enthusiastic. With Mhairi’s help, I plunged into the rarefied world of Amazon ads and felt quite pleased with my progress for a few months – before the algorithm abruptly changed and nothing was working any more. It takes a lot of time and energy I simply don’t have to keep on top of these developments, so I’ve decided to put the Marketing aspect on the back-burner until I have more books available to make it more economically viable.

• Read and review at least 100 books on my blog
I read 162 books during the year and published 124 reviews on the blog, although I have a few more written that will now have to wait until the coming year to see the light of day. I always love blogging and discussing books, but during the year I had to cut back from posting daily to about four times a week once my energy diminished as I became unwell. I’m not rushing to resume my daily posts, as I think one of my issues has been overwork.

• Continue teaching Creative Writing at Northbrook
Since Northbrook merged with Brighton Metropolitan, the Adult and Community Learning Department has had a new lease of life and during 2018, I was delighted to be able to run an extra session every week. The start of the new academic year in September saw my 10th anniversary teaching Creative Writing, which I still can’t quite believe.

• Continue teaching Tim
I will be continuing to teach Tim for the rest of the year, while he also attends college three days a week and still needs ongoing support. I cannot quite believe how far he’s come – it’s marvellous to see how well he is coping in a course for neuro-typical students, as he’s busy making new friends and extending his musical skills.

• Continue getting fitter
This was an epic fail. I was enjoying my Pilates and Fitstep classes, but as the year wore on I found it increasingly difficult to keep my attendance regular and finally, regretfully, I gave up first the Fitstep class and then the Pilates class as my energy drained away. I am hoping to resume my Pilates classes next week. Wish me luck!

As you can see, it’s been a mixed year. Overall, I’m reasonably happy with the results, given how my illness impacted my productivity and I’m hoping to put in place some lifestyle changes to help me stay healthy during the coming year. I have already set my targets for my Shoot for the Moon Challenge 2019 – I will be sharing them on the blog at the end of January. In the meantime, have a peaceful, healthy year, everyone – hopefully with lots of wonderful books to get lost in. Thank you all for your kind comments, likes and visits – even during the dark times when I couldn’t summon up the energy to post, I always found the kindness and good will evident within our blogging community a continual source of encouragement.

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Shoot for the Moon Challenge 2015 – August Roundup

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We are sliding into autumn after a thoroughly grotty summer, apart from a glorious fortnight at the start of July, which is now a distant memory. So how are the crazy writing targets I set with the aid of my friend and encourager, Mhairi Simpson?

• I have just completed the first major edit of Dying For Space. The good news is that it is better than I remember moonand wasn’t riddled with a lot of the errors plaguing Running Out of Space. Mhairi has just returned the manuscript of Running Out of Space having done a wonderful job checking the Spanish phrases in it (someone hit me with a very big brick if I ever waffle about dotting another series with a lot of foreign phrases, again. Particularly if said foreign phrases are accompanied with accents all over the place…) and also suggesting some improvements, bless her. However she really enjoyed reading it, which is heartening! Having Running Out of Space ready for Fantasycon should be doable. I now need to turn my attention to stuff like ISBN numbers and book covers… As for Dying for Space – not so sure. But I’m continuing to work hard at it.
Challenge – To have first two books of The Sunblinded Trilogy published by Fantasycon. Hm. Watch this space…

• I wrote 10 reviews during July and read 11 books. Still not sure I’ll make this target, but it’s not one I’m going to lie awake worrying over.
Challenge – To review a minimum of 100 books during 2015. In progress…

• I am now gearing myself up for the new academic year, now writing the notes for my Creative Writing course on viewpoint and narrative time and during the next fortnight I have a series of planning and training meetings to attend.
Challenge – To strive to make my Creative Writing courses enjoyable and informative for my students. I’m really looking forward to meeting up with everybody in a couple of weeks.

I’ve found editing the first two books in The Sunblinded Trilogy incredibly hard work. For starters, I cannot get my head down and simply plough forward, as I do when I’m writing. I have to keep breaking off, or it’s pointless. While my editing skills have dramatically improved and I quite enjoy it these days, I’m really missing writing. But I simply cannot start another project, while my head is in Jezel’s world… The curse of the ultimate monotasker.

I spent a fair chunk of time grannying over the summer, which is a joy. But I sometimes wish I had a writing clone to continue toiling away at the computer at the same time. I wrote just over 10,000 words reviewing books and blogging this month and 7,200 words on rewrites on Dying for Space. It is a delight to announce that during August, I didn’t write a single word on teaching admin, which will doubtless rapidly be rectified during the coming month. So the total wordcount for August is a paltry 17,000 words, bringing my yearly total to date to 168,500 words.

Shoot for the Moon Challenge 2015 – July Roundup

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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