Thursday, December 31, 2009

Goals for 2010

Here are my writing goals for next year. Achievability is crucial, so I have a plan to meet each goal. I have also looked at contingencies and challenge goals (because I am an overachiever).

#1 -- Get my completed fiction published

Sell Zombie Proof Fence
Okay, so I might not have 100% control of this, but here is what I can do:
  • Keep it in the hands of agents. If one set doesn’t take it on, query the next set.
  • Put it in the hands of publishers. Simultaneous subs don’t fly with most publishers, so this is a serial process--one publisher at a time. One has a partial now. I have three more in the queue so if the first doesn’t like it, it goes to the next.
  • Revise. Have good feedback on the lastest draft, and the MS is over-length for the target market. That means another draft. I hope to do this with the editorial inputs of a purchasing editor, or at least an agent, but it will see another draft this year.
  • Advertise. Through blog, Twitter and Facebook, make sure people know it’s available. In 2009, these forums netted one Agent requesting full MS, and one publisher requesting a partial. So, yes, the web presence helps.
Sell short stories
This is an ongoing process. I had 4 short story sales last year, 2 of which were published, 2 still pending. To quantify this goal: Sell at least 4, at least 1 to a pro market. Here is what I can do:
  • Submit existing stories. I have ~12 stories done. Keep them in the mail, and if one is rejected, submit to another market that same week (challenge goal: resubmit in 24 hours).
  • Write new stories. Duh. New material, showing my best writing. These are the ones with a realistic chance of selling to a pro market (as most of my existing stories have already done those rounds).
  • Advertise. Same as above, but the goal is more to generate traffic/sales for my publishers than to sell my work. I want people to read my fiction, and I want the publications I appear in to be successful and to benefit from publishing my work.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Summary of 2010 goals

Started listing goals this morning, thinking about why each goals mattered, and how I would achieve them. This resulted in pages of material--too much for a blog post.

Instead, here is a summary. I will follow with details about each of these as the rational for the goal, and the strategy to achieve it may be of interest.

2010 Goals:
  • Sell Zombie Proof Fence
  • Sell 4+ short stories. 1+ to pro markets
  • Write another book
  • Write 6+ short stories
  • Blog weekly
  • Help other aspiring authors

There you have it folks. My next few posts will delve into these in a little more detail.

Monday, December 28, 2009

The Mandala in 2010

Dear Readers,

Here is what I am planning for this blog in the coming year. I hope you find it interesting, and if there is something you would like me to write about, drop a comment.

On writing a book
Will walk through the writing of a book:
  • The planning,
  • The outlining,
  • The character development,
  • The opening,
  • The ending,
  • And writing the first draft.
  • (maybe) delve into the editing process
This will include general advice, and observations and status reports on my own writing of a short book (targeted at Middle Grade Readers, so only ~40K words).

Writing 101
Will begin a writing 101 series, providing my perspective on various aspects of writing and the tools that work for me, including outlines, work habits, revision, proofreading, marketing, career development.

Status on my own writing
Status on my own writing, including the marketing, revision, and I hope publishing of Zombie Proof Fence; as well as status and news on short stories, sales, and the misadventures of the Writer’s Bloc writing group.

So that is the plan. I hope you find this useful or at least entertaining and will join me for a fruitful and fun 2010.

Advice for the New Year

Here is my New Year’s Advice, this is targeted at writers, but applies to everyone:

  • Tip351 - Year's end-a good time to ponder what you have written this year, and what you plan to write with the next.
  • Tip352 - Keep your goals realistic -- if you reach too far, you will disappoint yourself and that is difficult to recover from.
  • Tip353 - Why not break yearly goals down into monthly goals. See? Much less intimidating.
  • Tip354 - Planning: break monthly writing goals into weekly goals. Keep these loose so you can respond to events in your life.
  • Tip355 - Build a spreadsheet to track progress against your goals--success only counts if it is measured against failure.
  • Tip356 - Now you have a target. What do you need to reach it? More writing time? More know-how? More support? Make a list.
  • Tip357 - Take your list of needs and look at each--how will you meet this need? Is this realistic? Who can help?
  • Tip358 - Are you part of a local writing group? You should be. The new year is a good time to join one--or start one.
  • Tip359 - What did you NOT finish this year? Is important to finish it? If not file it away and don't worry about it anymore.
  • Tip360 - Almost the new year. Why not start early? Get your list of next year's goals and tackle the first one.
  • Tip361 - Look around your writing space. How can you make it better? Do so.
  • Tip362 - Music is a great way to modulate your mood--which helps the mood of your writing. Find mood music for your project.
  • Tip363 - Family is often the writer's first and best support. Thank yours, and support their passions as they support yours.
  • Tip364 - Writing creates flab. Magical flab. Make a new year's resolution to exercise you body and mind.
  • Tip365 - Writing can be lonely. Surround yourself with enjoyable people to welcome the new year. You may take this one day off.

There you go, have a happy new year.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Unapologetically Strong

Had an interesting discussion on “unapologetically strong” female leads, which seem to be popular of late. It’s an interesting label. But what does it really mean?

A man who is unapologetically strong is what? Pushy, unconcerned about the feelings and needs of others--a jerk in other words. This is not a good choice for protagonist as readers are unlikely to sympathize with such a person.

So is that what an unapologetically strong female lead is? A jerk? And if so, why do so many people like to read about characters like this? It seems to me that a person who behaves with callous disregard for others is a poor choice for a protagonist whether male or female.

Don’t know--but a strong character is certainly someone readers can connect with. Strength can mean uncompromising, determined, stubborn, driven--many things that people respect and admire. However, for such a character to be sympathetic, someone a reader is going to bond with, someone a reader wants to spend 400 pages with, then this strong person needs to be concerned about the needs and feelings of others. Thus, a strong but sympathetic protagonist is probably not unapologetic.

Curious how others define this and what their reading experience is like.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Book Review: Writing And Selling The Young Adult Novel

Review of: Writing And Selling The Young Adult Novel by K. L. Going

Who should read this book
New writer interested in YA
Journeyman writer curious about YA

Who should not
Experienced writers

This is a good starting book -- about 70% of the content is writing 101 stuff--the kind of things you might see in writer’s digest, or on the writing track at literature or genre convention.

Only about 30% of the content is relevant to writing YA vs. writing in general. It gives a taste of YA, the kind of stuff that is interesting for people deciding whether or not to write YA. However there is no meat--this will not help someone writing YA write it better.

Also, the format is gimmicky--arranged as ‘periods’ to mimic high school. The gimmick adds nothing, and I found it annoying.

Bottom line
A good starting place for a beginner.