2017 Writing Goals

Every year I try to make a list of goals that I want to achieve with my writing. (I also have monthly and daily goals. It keeps me on track.) In 2015 I had my best writing year ever, writing over 200,000 words. I knew I’d never match that in 2016 with working from home and my partner’s health issues, so the goal I set for 2016 was 185,000 words.

I didn’t make it, but it wasn’t too bad a year. In 2016, I wrote a total of 152,421 new words on books. I don’t count blog posts, editing, or any other words for promotional purposes, just new words on novels and short fiction.

My other goals were to:

  • complete edits for Murder Once Seen and promote it:  Done
  • finish and submit Book Two of the Oddities series (Fraud Twice Felt)– done
  • finish and self-publish my m/m weretiger novel–done, except I chose instead to submit it to Riptide, so they’ll be publishing it
  • finish and submit my YA m/m novel–not done
  • finish and self-publish my 3rd pen name erotica serial romance–7/10 parts done and published, almost done with Part 8.
  • finish the fantasy novel in my first pen name–lol, still not done. Lowest of my priorities.

2017 Goals:

So now, since I know I’ll be deep in editing for the first quarter of the year on two books coming out in the next six months, plus since I’m starting a new job tomorrow and don’t know what my writing schedule will be, I’m going to keep my writing goals for 2017 conservative.

My goal for 2017 is to write 150,000 new words.

In addition, my goals for 2017 are to complete editing and promote the books Forest of Thorns and Claws and Fraud Twice Felt, finish the YA m/m paranormal book and submit it, complete the last parts of the Deena erotic serial romance, write the 3rd Oddities book, and maybe, just maybe finish the never ending fantasy novel.

 

Current Projects:

1. Forest of Thorns and Claws (weretiger M/M), completed, final length 65k: Developmental edits submitted, awaiting line edits. Currently scheduled to release 3/20.

2. Fraud Twice Felt: The Oddities Book Two, (gay paranormal), completed, final length 98k: Working on line edits. Currently scheduled to release 5/29.

3. Fae Fortunes (YA M/M paranormal), currently at 52,813, estimated total 65k.

4. Deena and the Professor (Trudy Judd, BDSM romance), 7 out of 10 parts written, almost done with Part 8 which is currently at 10,800. Estimating 12k for Part 8, 10k for Part 9, and 9k for Part 10.

5. A Conspiracy Uncovered: The Oddities Book Three (gay paranormal), currently at 12,096, total estimated 95k.

6. Fantasy novel currently at 87,257 words, total will be 110k.

If I total up the words needed to finish all these current WIPS, it comes to about 138k. So there’s my year, basically.

The Romance Arc

I’m writing the almost final chapter of my 2nd Oddites book (other than a short epilogue), which also happens to be the final love scene. I never write sex just for sex’s sake–I like my sex scenes to also move the plot along, especially the romance plot. Things that happen during intimacy often mirror what’s happening in other parts of one’s life (things like control or loss of control, denial or acceptance, trust or distrust). Even outside of BDSM, there’s also something quite powerful about the act of topping. Or bottoming.

When I was writing my first mmromance full length novel, I didn’t really understand the romance arc. Oh, I knew that my two leads had to have flaws that had prevented them from falling in love and all that. I just didn’t entirely get how their romance arc beats were supposed to work and intertwine with the mystery/suspense plot. I have to give thanks to my editors at Riptide for helping me develop that in my first book. I still didn’t truly understand it until I read Romancing the Beat by Gwen Hayes. She put it all into very simple terms (with lots of fun 80’s music references).

Basically it was summed up for me in one line. “Love conquers all.” The heart of the romance arc is that love finds a way to overcome whatever external obstacles there are between the two characters, but more importantly also overcomes whatever internal barriers there may be. Understanding that, I’m getting a whole new perspective of my characters and their relationship. I wrote an entire chapter over the weekend that I never expected to write, which was mostly about them, their hopes and fears, and dealing with the emotional aftermath from the climax scene. I’m really happy with it.

Anyways, with each new book, I’m learning something new, and improving all the time.

Just about to hit 98,000 words. Less than 3000 words to go to finish this thing.

A Race to the Finish–WIP progress

Ah, September!  Finally an end to the 100 degree nights that is summer in Arizona. Nevermind the 100 degree plus days. Those won’t end until October. But at least the nights are starting to be bearable.

September also means something else–that I have less than one month left to finish, edit, and turn in the 2nd Oddities book, Fraud Twice Felt. I originally estimated it would be 90k, much like the first Oddities book, but my villain proved stronger than I anticipated, the climax much larger and more complicated, and so I find myself now sitting at 91k, going, “Crap! I need to get this thing finished!!”  I estimate about three chapters to go in order to finish the thing. Editing?  Ergh. May not have time for much of that.

So here’s where all the works in progress currently stand:

 

Current WIPs:

1. Fraud Twice Felt (The Oddities Book 2, paranormal M/M suspense), now at 91,682 words, NOW estimated to be about 100k. ACK!  Due to publisher by October 1.

2. Fae Fortunes (YA M/M paranormal), currently at 45,563 words, estimated 65k.

3. Deena and the Professor (Trudy Judd, BDSM romance), Seven out of 10 parts written, first 7 parts published, currently at 2862 words on Part 8 (estimated to be 8k).

4. Forest of Thorns and Claws (weretiger M/M). Received the notes back from the publisher, will work on developmental edits as soon as the 2nd Oddities book is done and turned in.

5. Fantasy novel currently at 81,675 words, total will be 110k. Right now this one is the lowest of my priorities.

 

Villains You Love to Hate

I recently watched Suicide Squad, which I found to be a fun superhero movie, despite some criticisms of the editing. I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for Harly Quinn, the Joker’s little puppet and love interest, and I think Margot did an exceptional job at portraying the completely crazy villainess. Jared Leto was also fantastic as the Joker.

A really good villain is one that you can’t help loving, even if they’re really, really bad. Maybe it’s because you have some understanding about why they became the way they are, or maybe their personality is just so infectious that you can’t help liking them. Or maybe they have awesome powers and they’re just plain cool. (We all loved Darth Vader long before we knew anything about his past. In fact, learning his past diminished some of his coolness, I think.)

Maybe it’s that allure of power that draws us towards certain villains. Maybe it’s the cool clothing. Villains tend not to care what anyone thinks of them. They’re supreme in their self-confidence. That can be attractive.

Or maybe they do things we only wish we could. The Joker loves to wreak mayhem, particularly on stuffy rich folk. Hannibal Lector eats whatever–and whomever–he wants. Voldemort is practically worshiped by his followers. And Lucifer gives you everything you desire . . . then takes your soul.

So anyways, I enjoyed Suicide Squad because it brought together a lot of evil, selfish villains, gave each of them a weakness, and put them in a situation where they had to decide between being selfish or doing something good for once. I liked it, and I wanted to take Harly Quinn home even though she’d most likely kill me.

And that brings me to the writing of my latest book, Fraud Twice Felt (Book 2 of the Oddities). I’m writing the climax, which has a lot of characters moving around and a lot of action. I have a villain that appeared in the first book that I’ve come to adore, but I need to somehow resolve his story arc in order for my heroes to move forward to the next book. This villain is charming, suave, but also vicious, like a snake. I’m thinking of making him even cooler to really up the stakes in the climax. (Can’t say how–it would be a major spoiler.)

And then? I probably should kill him, because otherwise everyone knows he’ll continue to be a threat out there, unresolved. But I’m finding I don’t want to kill him!

-Sigh.- And that’s the dilemma of loving your villain.

 

 

Progress report for July

Apparently it’s been a while since my last WIP progress report, which gives a hint as to how busy my life has been. The edits to the first Oddities book kicked my butt, as did my working from home and personal life. I’m hoping things will start to smooth out as we head into fall. Look for the next Deena book coming out in a few days!

 

Current WIPs:

1. Fraud Twice Felt (The Oddities Book 2, paranormal M/M suspense), now at 80,609 words, estimated to be about 90k. I’m writing the climax scene! Due to publisher by October 1.

2. Fae Fortunes (YA M/M paranormal), currently at 44,037 words, estimated 65k.

3. Deena and the Professor (Trudy Judd, BDSM romance), Seven out of 10 parts written, first 6 parts published, currently at 476 words on Part 8 (estimated to be 8k).

4. Fantasy novel currently at 81,352 words, total will be 110k. Right now this one is the lowest of my priorities.

Time Management

I knew that writing would become more challenging when I was laid off from my steady 8-5 M-F job and began working from home as a consultant, but I don’t think I fully appreciated how challenging it would be. Add in a ton of doctor appointments for myself and also my partner, and it becomes almost herculean. Oh yeah, and I’m ADHD. Which means I pretty much suck at time management.

Lately, what this has all meant for me is that I’ve been spending a lot of time on my weekends catching up on the work and writing tasks that need to be completed each week. Which means there hasn’t been a lot of time to relax and regenerate. Which is probably why I keep getting sick.

Ugh, but now it sounds like I’m complaining, which I’m not. I like working from home, and I like the fact that so much is happening for me right now on the writing career that I have no time. It’s just tough to stay on top of it all.

Which brings me to this blog and what I wanted to talk about in the first place. How does one manage time when there so much to do? Some of these I came up with myself, but I have to give most of the props to my partner, who is a brilliant problem solver.

  1. Make daily goals.

I do this for my work as well as for my writing, having a minimum number of hours that I need to work each day in order to make the money to pay the bills (I’m paid by the hour as a subcontractor). I also have a minimum word count that I must write each day in order to meet my deadlines.

2. Use calendars. Plural.

My most important calendar is in my phone, because I can instantly share it with my partner, putting in all meetings, appointments, social engagement dates, etc. I also have a wall calendar by my desk because sometimes it’s just easier to glance over at it.

3. Have reminders.

This is a big one for me, with my problems remembering and keeping track of a lot of details. I use three different apps on my phone–the built-in “Reminders” app where I can schedule reminders for things like “Get cat food” or “Call the insurance company.” I also have reminders every day for things like taking medication. I also use checklists, including an app called “2Do” which is great for shopping lists, task lists, etc. I’ll also use visual reminders like leaving out a bill or a note for myself.

4. Don’t be too hard on yourself.

Even with every strategy above and more, there will be times that I forget something, or I just plain run out of time. I try to keep things in perspective and not kill myself off trying to do everything. Stressing out only makes things worse, after all. I still try to have fun and relax once in a while.

 

Real Life and Writing

May was a hell of a month.

It was a month filled with doctor appointments, the creation of a pilot training program for work, line edits that kicked my butt, and at the very end, a medical emergency that required a fast trip to the ER.

Please note that 90% of the medical stuff was actually my partner, who has been dealing with several health issues that we’re trying to get a handle on. She suffers from Generalized Anxiety Disorder, so I accompany her to most of her doctor appointments. And she’s fine; the medical emergency was a very bad reaction to a new medication–hives, swelling of the face (and eyes! O.o), and the beginnings of trouble breathing. Fortunately, having experienced an allergy to medication myself, I knew exactly what to do. By the time we reached the hospital the Zyrtec I’d given her was already taking effect and helping the breathing and the hives.

Still, it wasn’t a great month for trying to be a writer. And that brings me to today’s subject.

Real life kicks our butts sometimes. It can be the day job, relationship issues, health, family–you name it. Life has a tendency to try and crowd out  writers’ efforts to carve out time to do the thing they love most. Even scheduling writing time doesn’t always work because emergencies can come out of the blue.

I think the key to being successful is to just get back into the chair as soon as you can. I met my May goal for my main writing project (the one with a deadline) because I forced myself to write and catch up to my daily word goals: 400 words a day, five days a week on that book. I let other projects slip because there just weren’t enough hours in the day to do everything. And yet even though the month felt terrible, I still managed to write over 12,000 words total.

So the key to success in writing, like the key to success in anything else in life, is persistence. Try to schedule time for the activity. If something comes up, schedule a makeup session. Try for a daily minimum word count, but be realistic. I feel irritated on any “writing day” that I don’t get any words out. I try to take that fuel and use it to write more the next day. But I also try not to beat myself up if some other part of my life demands attention. Prioritize each day, and try to balance the things in your life.

It just takes dedication.