Monday, December 31, 2012

My 2013 Goals and a 2012 Goal Recap

I've previously blogged draft versions of my goals for 2013 and in the end, I've decided to make no real changes to the list. To have them in a nice, consolidated place I'm going to list them out here along with links to the original blog posts which covered each individual goal and the details behind them.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Editing for Kazka Press

Several of my first published short stories ran at Kazka Press as part of their monthly flash fiction contests and also as the first longer-form story they ran online. Earlier this year, I guest-edited the "Love Beyond Death" flash fiction contest for the site. I'm very pleased to announce that starting with the first of 2013 I will be editing their flash fiction contests every month. (If you'd like to read the full announcement, it's available here.)

I'm very excited about this opportunity and pleased that publisher L. Lambert Lawson felt that I would be a fitting person to continue the work he began with that portion of the site.

The two submission calls already announced for January and February submissions will be the first two I will be editing. Those are:

  • January: An Undelivered Valentine (submissions due 1/20/13)
  • February: Spring Training (submissions due 2/20/13)
So I'd encourage you to consider those themes and submit stories of 713-1000 words for consideration!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Story Sale: "Learning the Game" to Sidekicks!

A real quick note during my holiday hiatus. I'm pleased to announce that my short story "Learning the Game" has been accepted for Sidekicks!, an anthology of sidekick-themed stories edited by Sarah Hans for publisher Alliteration Ink. This book will be coming out in print and eBook in early 2013. I'll post more details as they become available.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Letting Go Of The Chain

"Will I give up the chain someday even while continuing a daily writing routine? I suppose it's possible. But I know that if I did give it up and then realized I was having trouble keeping to a routine, I'd want to return to using the chain to help myself get back into a groove.
In the end, the chain is just another tool to help you reach your goals. Like any tool, you can use it when it's helpful and leave it in its toolbox when it's not."
- A Time to Let Go of the Chain? (Chapter 11, Write Every Day)
I've been considering this for a while, off and on. But I've decided to make it official with the start of 2013. I'm no longer going to be formally maintaining a Daily Writing Chain.

Still Here...

Though pretty much completely out of it.

Five-sixths of my house has been struck by a hideous bug the past three days and I'm still feeling wiped out. I've gotten no writing done for the past two days and even being awake long enough to run my daughter (the one who DIDN'T get sick) to the orthodontist, run by the grocery store, answer a few emails and now type up this blog post has felt like a challenge.

The blog post which was going to run Monday will run later today or tomorrow (Thursday 12/20). Everybody else out there, stay well.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Sunday Links: December 16, 2012 Edition

I had let myself get horribly behind on short story submissions. This is normally something I'm very good about, however over the last couple of months in particular, as I got rejections I wasn't getting around to sending stories back out to another market. I've made a major push to that end this week and I'm basically caught up now. The only things not currently out the door are stories which I'm considering making revisions to before submitting them again. As of tonight I have 36 submissions out, five reprints and 31 originals. It feels good to be back to where I've got a lot of stories on on submission and I'm going to make a concerted effort to not fall behind again.

As a side note, with this week's efforts I've crossed the 300 mark for 2012 submissions. There was a point where I thought I might have 366, which would have been neat, but my slacking off in recent months ensured that wouldn't happen. Still, 300 submissions is a lot and I'm quite pleased with what I have accomplished.

Something in early 2013 I'll do a Year-in-Review for 2012 with all kinds of statistics. For now, though, let's move on to the writing-related links I've come across this week which I want to share:

Thursday, December 13, 2012

December Goals Progress and Holiday Hiatus

Usually, around the middle of the month I'll post an update on how my goals are going so far. After several months where things weren't going quite as smoothly, December has gotten off to a very solid start. Here's my goal progress so far:

1) Keep my Daily Writing Chain going. - No issues so far this month.
2) Write and submit four new stories. - My goal is to have a new story out the door every Friday in December. I have accomplished that for each of the first two weeks of the month. Two to go.
3) Revise and submit one story from my backlog. - This is not done yet, but I have an idea which story I might tackle first, so there's a bit of progress here.
4) Finalize my 2013 goals. - I finished up my "first draft" goals. Now I'm going to finalize the goals and put together the blog post on them.

At this point, I have no reason to think I won't go 4-for-4 here. There's always the chance of a challenging day or two for the Daily Writing Chain with the holidays, but I managed it last year and I'm optimistic that I'll do the same this year.

Speaking of the holidays, I tend to go on a blog hiatus around major holidays and this December will not be an exception. I'll have a post up on Monday the 17th, but I don't plan to do another post after that until Monday the 31st. As usual, there's nothing that says I won't decide to put up a bit of news or something else that strikes my fancy, but it's equally possible that there won't be any new posts from the 18th through the 30th.

Finally, I wanted to note that author and editor M. Bennardo put together a list of his favorite stories from 2012 which were not published in pro-rate-paying venues and he included my story "Twenty-Seven Rules for Coping" (originally published in Goldfish Grimm's Spicy Fiction Sushi and slated for Greek and French reprints) on the list.

Best wishes to all of my readers and friends as we head into the home stretch of 2012!

Monday, December 10, 2012

On Goals and Aspirations

I've written a lot about goals lately. Monthly goal wrap-ups, monthly goal declarations, drafts of goals for next year, and on and on.

Well, goal-setting and goal-achievement certainly has been one of the main themes on this blog throughout its existence, so I guess it's not a surprise that I've been talking about them a lot. And here I am, again, talking about goals. Though I plan to mostly talk about things which aren't goals: Aspirations.

An earlier blog post of mine talked about setting "SMART" goals. So, for example, I wouldn't have considered "Qualify for Active SFWA Membership in 2012" to have been a good "goal." Ultimately, whether I did so or not was something I couldn't directly control. I could influence it very heavily by working to improve my writing, submitting diligently, etc. But in the end, it was up to the editors of various markets to determine if that happened or not. (I'm still very excited, by the way, that it did...)

I refer to things like that -- which I would like to see happen but have incomplete influence over -- as "aspirations." I believe that it's very important to not mistake aspirations for goals. Doing so can lead to frustration and disappointment because you are making your satisfaction dependent on something which is outside your ability to control.

So that's why, as much as I'd love to see it happen, I won't create a 2013 goal for myself like "Sell a story to a major print SF publication." That's an aspiration because I can't make it happen. I can try very hard and do all the right things toward that wish, but once I've done that it will either happen or it won't. ("Sell a story to a major print SF publication" would also be a poorly-defined goal because it doesn't define "major." But I digress...)

Goals, for me, are the things by which I measure myself. But aspirations are what I dream about -- they are the things which I hope the goals drive me toward. And while my goals are things I talk about on a regular basis in public, my aspirations are the things I for the most part keep close to me, discussing them with relatively few people.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Sunday Links: December 9, 2012 Edition

Earlier this week I discovered that my story released earlier this year by Daily Science Fiction ("Scraps") was reviewed very favorably by Diabolical Plots. In fact, "Scraps" was the only one out of the 20 or so stories published by DSF in October of this year which the Diabolical reviewers chose to grant "Recommended" status. While reviews are one of those things which writers can't control and have to learn to accept for what they are, I can't deny that it was pleasing to read such a favorable review.

Here are the writing-related links which I've come across this week which I wanted to share:

Thursday, December 6, 2012

2013 Goal #5: Attend Four Conventions (And a Non-Goal. No Word Count Goal for 2013)

I'm going to be working out my 2013 goals publicly here on my blog between now and the end of the year. Note that all of these posts will be considered "First Draft" goals, subject to being modified, enhanced, shrunk, contorted, folded, spindled, mutilated, or even out-and-out obliterated at my own future whim. These goals are also being presented simply in the order that I decide upon them. So Goal #1 isn't any more important than Goal #5 (or whatever). I probably will reorder the goals in order of importance when I go to wrap this all together in a final set of 2013 goals.
2013 Writing Goal #5: Attend Four Conventions

This is a rather straight-foward goal. I want to continue to work at meeting other writers and getting the benefits of going to conventions. The most difficult thing was deciding what number to place on this goal. On the one hand, there are three conventions locally (Marcon, Context, and -- if I include it -- Pulpfest). On the other hand, with a family, making time to go to these events can be a challenge.

Still, in the end, I decided that these are goals, not "must-do"s. I'd like to travel to at least one out-of-state convention again this coming year. So setting the goal at four feels right.

This may well end up being the last of my draft goals. One goal which I explicitly know I will NOT have for 2013 is a word count goal. This isn't because I missed (badly) on my 2012 word count goal. I have two main reasons.

1) It's a bit of an awkward goal to track. I had a spreadsheet which I was using to track it for the better part of 2012 before I realized I wasn't going to make my goal and that I didn't really need to know exactly how many words I'd written in 2012 anyway. Once I set up the spreadsheet it wasn't terribly hard, but it still meant a little bit of fiddling on a lot of days.

2) More importantly, I'm not trying to produce words. I'm trying to produce completed, out-the-door stories. I've put together multiple goals around story production, so I should be well covered in that regard. In theory could I write 4 7500 word novelettes and 32 100 word drabbles and meet my goal? Well... Yes. But it would be obvious to myself and everyone else that this was cheating and not really moving me forward. And if I was inclined to go that route, I doubt a word count goal would all of a sudden "shock" me out of such an approach.

I suspect there's a very good chance I'll end up writing 100,000 words in 2013. And I'll certainly have a good idea of my count of final draft words for 2013. But I won't be tracking every word day-by-day because it just doesn't seem like a productive activity for me at this time.

Monday, December 3, 2012

2013 Goal #4: Read 500 Short Stories

I'm going to be working out my 2013 goals publicly here on my blog over the next couple of months. Note that all of these posts will be considered "First Draft" goals, subject to being modified, enhanced, shrunk, contorted, folded, spindled, mutilated, or even out-and-out obliterated at my own future whim. These goals are also being presented simply in the order that I decide upon them. So Goal #1 isn't any more important than Goal #5 (or whatever). I probably will reorder the goals in order of importance when I go to wrap this all together in a final set of 2013 goals.
2013 Writing Goal #4: Read 500 Short Stories and Document What I've Read

As I've discussed in several recent blog posts, my focus as a writer is primary around short fiction (For the purposes of this goal I'm using "short stories" to cover everything shorter than a novel, from flash fiction to novellas.) One of the things which I can do to improve my abilities as a writer of short fiction is to be an avid reader of short fiction.

When I say that I'll document what I read, I pretty much just mean note what I read, who wrote it, and where I read it. I'll also make some kind of notation if it's a story which I want to keep track of for award nomination purposes. That will not be public documentation; just a spreadsheet or something like that which I keep for my own use.

I've occasionally set myself short fiction reading goals and there for a while I was doing a very good job of taking part in #storyeachnight on Twitter. (Exactly what it sounds like, read a story every day and tweet about it.) This goal is a bit more ambitious than a story a day; a little more than four stories every three days. But it's the sort of thing I shouldn't have any real difficulty with as long as I keep reading at a steady pace.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Sunday Links: December 2, 2012

A new month, the last of 2012. I haven't met all of my goals for the year. Haven't even come close in fact. And yet, I've met many more of my writing aspirations in this year than I would have ever dreamed possible. Put simply, it's been a good year, and I'm hoping that 2013 will provide opportunities to build on what's happened during 2012.

Here are the writing-related links which I've come across this week which I wanted to share:

Saturday, December 1, 2012

"Twenty-Seven Rules for Coping" in French

After a kind of quiet several weeks, all of a sudden I've got lots of news to share. Fortunately, it's all good news!

On the heels of my two recent story sales I received word on Friday that my short story "Twenty-Seven Rules for Coping" will be translated into French and will appear in the yearly anthology Ténèbres. It will appear in the 2013 edition of the anthology, around the middle of next year. I'm very pleased to appear in this series of anthologies which has published such authors as Orson Scott Card, Jack Ketchum, Jason Sanford, Tobias S. Buckell, and Terry Dowling.

This also marks the second translation for "Twenty-Seven Rules for Coping." It is scheduled to appear in a Greek publication in the near future as well. While I read neither Greek nor French (the only language I have even a passable knowledge of is Spanish) I will enjoy seeing my words in these publications and knowing that more readers will have a chance to read them than would have otherwise done so.

If someone had told me that 2012 would have been as successful for me from a writing perspective as it has been, I would have called them wildly optimistic. I consider myself very fortunate to have had the year I've had.