Sunday Roundup

Status
100 words/100 days — I’ve managed 46 days. A bunch of it is just noodling, but when I started this on December 1, it was so hard to get those words out. I’d be counting every one, avoid the use of contractions, anything to get to that count. I was so out of practice with writing that it literally hurt to do so. Now, I can spew out 100 words in a few minutes. The next step, obviously, is to turn that spewing into something that’s actually readable for people besides myself.

Knitting — I am finally about to join the sleeves of my jacket to the rest of the body. Woo hoo! I might actually finish and get to wear this thing before spring arrives.

Books — I will admit to not doing as much reading as I had hoped this past week. Do have a book for the TBR Challenge, but need to get moving on some others. Definitely need to finish The Attenbury Emeralds, which is Jill Paton Walsh’s latest continuation of Dorothy Sayer’s Lord Peter and Harriet Vane.

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Did keep up with the blogs this week, though I didn’t do any responding and found a number of cool links. The one that made me happy today is news ITV is planning a Downton Abbey Christmas Special. If you are not watching Downton Abbey on Masterpiece Theatre, you’re missing a real treat. Austen it ain’t, but it’s marvelously entertaining soap about an Edwardian household shortly before World War I. The series did enormously huge numbers in the UK, so it isn’t really surprising a Christmas special would be in the offing. Christmas specials are big deals in the UK, so much so that ITV and the BBC actually take turns as to where Eastenders and Coronation Street will go on Christmas Day so they don’t conflict — then they play chicken over the slot for Doctor Who and whatever ITV puts up against that. But more Downton! And more Sherlock to come as well, another show you should be watching. (This mention also gives me an excuse to use one of my Sherlock icons.)

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In the arena of “writer beware,” read through this Smart Bitches post on a contest being held by FirstOne, a new digital publisher. Also, scroll through the comments for a number of interesting links. In short FirstOne is holding a contest with a large entry fee (you can buy a Kindle for less) and some rather worrisome fine print down at the bottom of the rules:

All submissions become sole property of Sponsor and will not be acknowledged or returned. By submitting an entry, all entrants grant Sponsor the absolute and unconditional right and authority to copy, edit, publish, promote, broadcast, or otherwise use, in whole or in part, their entries, in perpetuity, in any manner without further permission, notice or compensation.

Uh, no. I’m not paying someone money and handing them the rights to my work in perpetuity. And, yes, that is the wording on the website as of January 15, 8:38 PM Pacific Time.

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I’m taking a Time Management Class for Writers at the moment that’s being taught by Kitty Bucholtz, so that’s much on my mind. Since it’s the first of the year, time management and goal setting seem to be on a number of folks’ minds. Shonna Slayton is doing a three part series on business plans for writers, while Kelsey Browning is is starting a series on her experience with a life coach. For Beth Ciotta, it was a week to hit a speed bump and realize we can’t do it all. At least, not all the time.

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Finally, something glorious to close with. Nancy Smith, the community liaison for the Office of Letters and Lights (the folks behind NaNoWriMo spent her holiday break in Argentina, where she visited El Ateno, an old theatre that’s been turned into a bookstore. This is truly a treat and a great re-purposing of a building while retaining the original character.

Goals for January 2011

Slept rather late this morning after staying up to see the new year in. We went out to get a late breakfast which really was lunch and now intend to spend the rest of the day being quiet, knitting and doing some reading. Before that, though, I wanted to post my goals for January. Also, showing off the new site layout.

  • Write 100 words a day – this is part of getting the muscles moving. I’ve already done today’s, which turned out to be more than 100 words and gave me a scene that’s a nice little nugget.
  • Discovery Class – This starts January 16, and the big challenge for me here is keeping up with the homework, participating and not letting myself get distracted when life does its inevitable, “there are other things to focus on.”
  • Blog regularly — seem to be doing okay on that point already.
  • Deal with Facebook — Do I have to? I don’t really care for Facebook even on a personal level, so there’s an extreme reluctance here.
  • Deal with Twitter — More comfortable here, but I’m not quite certain how to actually manage it with everything else going on.
  • Back to the gym — Two years ago, I had just taken off twenty pounds; as of this morning, I’ve put twelve back on. Time to fix this.
  • Clean five minutes a day — If I start at this level, things will get easier as I go along and I’ll get the re-arranged house I want.

That’s a nice, compact list, and all of them are obtainable. Well, except for Facebook and Twitter, but I think that’s going to be a work in progress for a while. So, how are your goals going for the year going?

Goodbye 2010. Hello 2011

Here we are, the last day of the year. There were moments when I didn’t think I’d make it with any scrap of sanity, but it’s the 31st and I’m still typing. Time for a look back and a look forward, for both my writing and personally.

2010

  • Wrote a short story for submission to Big Finish Audio’s Short Trips collection. Unfortunately, it wasn’t accepted.
  • Made it my meetings at LARA much more frequently than I did in 2009. This was definitely good for morale and making me feel inspired at least once a month.
  • Got a promotion at work, which meant more money and being able to leave the administrative assistant portion of what I was doing behind. Didn’t mean the workload got less, but I wasn’t being pulled in two different directions for two different things.
  • Wrote a story for a fannish continuity series — great practice if I ever get invited to participate in one for publication.
  • Stepped in and wrote a second story the series when another writer dropped out. That one let me play with Sherlock Homes (more Brett and Cumberbatch), which is something I’ve always wanted to do. Amazing how that character is powerful enough to dominate every scene he’s in without even trying.
  • Started the blog moving again.
  • Did NaNoWriMo, but didn’t finish for the first time in several years. Am proud of myself for realizing I wasn’t going to make it and wasn’t going to be doing any good or accomplishing anything useful if I kept pushing.
  • After telling myself I’d wait, acquired an iPad in July. Love this little thing beyond all reason and take it everywhere. I’m thinking of acquiring a keyboard for it, but I’m also getting pretty good at typing on screen. Also finally embraced eBooks through the various reader apps. Because of this, I’m reading more. (We’ll ignore the Angry Birds addiction.)
  • At Mother’s Day, realized my mother-in-law had reached a point in her battle with Alzheimer’s that she didn’t recognize me and very likely didn’t recognize my husband. In June, she was having difficulty swallowing. In July, there was a choking incident with her breakfast. In August, she was gone. If I have to point to a event that has had the biggest impact on my life this year, it is this.
  • Started turning my thoughts to being more serious about my writing, and being more focused with my time.

Lots of stress in the past twelve months, a lot of emotional ups and downs. A major life change with my mother-in-law passing, the shockwaves of which we are still dealing with. For over a year before her death, much of our lives revolved around her care and needs and the family dynamic that surrounded it. Now, everything has changed and we’re trying to rebuild.

That’s where I was. Time to look forward to where I hope to be. These are high level goals for the year.

2011

  • Stronger focus on my writing. I’ve already taken some steps with that by signing up for the StoryWonk Discovery class that starts in January. Need to bring an idea to class; I have eight. Need to make a decision on that.
  • Be better on my social media. This isn’t just for the purpose of putting my name out there, but because I need to the connection to a larger circle. This is reclaiming some of what I lost when my focus was dominated by family matters.
  • Re-do the house. Things have gotten a little out of hand with the past year and who I want from the various areas has changed.
  • Get a handle on time management. That’s something that will help in all areas of my life.
  • Buy a new car. Well, new to us. Not what I want to do, but it’s clear that’s going to be a necessity.

I could list things like “complete and submit three books,” but I’m trying to keep this at a high level. If I focus on my writing and work on my time management, then the other things should follow. Oh, there’ll be monthly goals, but that’s the big picture.

So here’s to the sands of 2010 running out and welcome 2011!

Good Intentions

New Year’s Day… now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual. — Mark Twain

Yup, I’m starting to make my resolutions for 2011. (We will not mention the fact that I had resolved to go to the gym yesterday and didn’t because I ended up working far later than I intended.) The thing I like about New Year’s is that it feels like a fresh start even if it really isn’t. That’s probably a good thing psychologically; 2010 wasn’t a particularly great year from my point of view and I’m glad to see the back of it.

The problem is, what do I set as goals in a year when I’m trying to figure out what constitutes “normal.” I have crossed “Win Pulitzer Prize” off the list because I thought that was biting off more than I could chew. Seriously, though, I’m trying to figure out what would be some goals that will prove a stretch and a bit of a challenge, but not be so far out of reach that I can’t possibly obtain them.

Some goals are fairly easy — write regularly, keep up the blog, don’t let myself go into hermit mode. But those are also mechanical goals. I need something more concrete to work for and not just “finish a book and submit.” What type of book should it be? What do I hope to achieve with it? What am I hoping to do that will push me to stretch and grow?

That’s the questions I need to answer — and maybe that’s the first goal. Decide what I’m hoping reach for in 2011. Think I can do that in the next four days?

Six Things I’d Like To Do

James Moran wrote a post about writing-related things he’d like to do. He stole the idea from Paul Cornell, and I’m going to steal it from him. It seems especially appropriate at this time when thoughts turn toward goals for the coming year. (And even if I wasn’t thinking about it before, the fact I have to complete my self-assessment for my day job before the end of next week definitely shoved my mind in that direction.)

The easy ones are having a manuscript accepted, hitting the various bestseller lists, being able to quite the day job. What I’m listing below is a bit more ambitious, things I’d like to do and may — or may not — ever get a chance to try.

Write a series. If I can get my act together, finish some books and get published, this might be possible. I’ve got some in my head, but part of it is actually sitting down and doing it. There is some hesitation because I’ve read one too many books where I look at the supporting characters and go “sequel”, but I also love a good series where there is a solid continuing story thread.

Write a movie. I’ve dabbled with screenplays for years, though I have to confess I’m not completely comfortable with the medium. What I see in my head when I’m writing is cinematic in nature, with long shots, closeups and a musical score, so I think you can understand the urge. Living in Los Angeles, however, I know how low writers tend to rank in the food chain, which leads to the next thing on my list.

I’d like to direct. If I got my hands on a video camera and pulled some friends together, I probably could do this one. Sure, it wouldn’t be wide distribution (or any distribution beyond YouTube), but if I made the effort, I probably could.

Write a column. If I could find a venue, this is also something I could do. It would take some organization on my part and a firm commitment, but I could do it. A blog is a sort of column, though much more free-form. What I need is a topic and a plan.

Do a podcast. This is in the works, and hopefully I’ll be saying something about it soon. It’s somewhat fannish in nature, but I also think my take on the subject genuinely has something different to say from the other podcasts is out there. Stay tuned.

Take a master class. I’m going back to screenplays here. I’d like a chance to work with someone like Aaron Sorkin, Richard Curtis, Russell T Davies or Steve Moffat for the chance to pick their brains and a chance to see how their mind works up close. For that matter, I wouldn’t mind working with James Moran, Phil Ford, Paul Cornell or Chris Chibnall, all of whom I hold in great respect as writers. Ultimately, you find your own style and voice, but there’s so much to learn from watching others at work.

There are others things, but then we really get into the realm of “That’s never going to happen,” such as writing a James Bond film. Looking over the list, though, all of these are possible in some way or another if I’m willing to stretch and take chances. That’s something to think about.

What’s on your list? What things would you like to do?