What is Camp NaNoWriMo?

Goodbye, March. Hello, April and insanity! For those that already know what Camp NaNoWriMo is, welcome to another month of the madness. For those that don’t know or are new to the world that is NaNoWriMo I’m going to give you a crash course.

I know I’ve talked briefly about Camp NaNoWriMo and NaNoWriMo before on this blog, but those times have mainly been discussing my own successes, failures, or bouts of insanity among writing for these month long challenges. I’ve never talked too much about the challenge in general though.

So today I’m going to paint you the journey of Camp NaNo and all its perks.

camp nano banner

Camp NaNo is affiliated with the non-profit organization called NaNoWriMo — an acronym that stands for National Novel Writing Month. Perhaps many of you have heard of it, but I’m not here to talk about the big NaNo show perks. Not today at least.

Consider Camp NaNoWriMo a trial run of the big and bad NaNoWriMo. Whereas NaNo is a more cookie cutter challenge with a set goal and fewer options of what you’re writing, the Camp version allows you more flexibility on numerous levels. And is more fun in my opinion.

Camp happens twice a year — once in April, and then also in July. Unlike NaNoWriMo, you don’t have a set number goal of 50k, and you can choose from more than just a word count goal. You can make your own goal to fit your own lifestyle. Within Camp you have all these options to choose from in creating your goal: word count goal, page goal, line goal, hour goal, or minutes goal.

From there you choose any goal count from thirty to one million. (I’m not sure I’d suggest trying one million. That sounds impossibly hard.)

One of the best things about choosing your own goal that can be more than just a word count is it allows you to do more than just write. Take this for example:

Last year for July’s Camp NaNo session I choose a page count instead of word count. Wanna know why? Because I had finished writing the first draft of my novel in April’s session and needed some more motivation to edit. You heard me. Edit.

Camp NaNo is flexible enough that you can use your goal for editing instead of writing if you wish.

I choose a page count equivalent to so many chapters of my novel that I had to read through, edit, and make notes on for what needed changed or fixed. That month was the furthest progress, and most accurate progress, I have ever made on editing because it kept me moving without losing my focus. It worked out really well.

If you’re ever lacking motivation to get started the forces that run this month long retreat send out a Camp Care Package every day in your account mailbox (not your email). These Camp Care Packages range from pep talks, to writerly advice, daily challenges, and invites to word sprints, write-ins, and other goodies hosted on their YouTube and Twitter account.

And if you ever need more than those daily packages, their site has an awesome Writing Resources tab full of events, information on the Camp counselors, and lots and lots of Q&A’s for planning, characters, beginnings, scenes, and so much more.

On the side of great resources, since NaNoWriMo and its affiliated sessions are part of a non-profit organization you can win some great goodies from their sponsors by meeting your goal. Sponsors that include (but are not always limited to): Scrivener, Dabble, Scribophile, Storyist Software, She Writes University, and Litographs. Scrivener I know is a big sponsor of NaNoWriMo and its affiliations, and they offer a great discount on their software if you verify you met your goal. Though I’ve not tried the software myself I’ve heard it’s a great tool for writers.

Another great thing about Camp sessions, you don’t have to work on just a novel or novella for Camp NaNoWriMo. You can be writing a screen play, poetry, a short story, multiple short stories or poetry pieces, revisions, essays even. As long as you can fit a goal of hours, minutes, words, pages, or lines to what you want to work on, you can make it work for Camp sessions. That’s the true beauty of Camp NaNo.

However, there is one more perk to Camp that happens to be my favorite.

The cabins.

Cabins are Camp’s version of a small writing group full of buddies you can chat with about anything during your month long journey. You can have up to twenty people in a cabin, and there’s three different options for joining. There are two types of cabins: public and private.

Within the public cabins you have two options. In your cabin preferences you can select to be tossed into a random cabin with mates you don’t know anything about. Or you can choose to be filed into a cabin that meets a certain criteria of similar interests. Whether that interest is by age group, the same genre writing as you, and/or with similar goals as you. That part is totally up to you.

Private cabins are a little bit different. Any member can create their own private cabin, give it a name, and invite campers they know by their username. If you have friends who join you on this mad challenge private cabins are a perfect option to chat along with them and nag — or congratulate — them about their progress.

If you don’t want to be in a cabin that’s okay too. Camp does offer an option to elect out of being placed in a cabin so that you can hole yourself up on your own to write if that works best for you.

So there you have it! Camp NaNoWriMo’s perks and workings crash coursed in all its brilliant madness. Of course, there’s much more I could talk about for Camp NaNo, and their other affiliations — like NaPoWriMo and the Young Writer’s Program — but those are topics for another day.

Here’s to writing like mad for the month. If you’ve taken the plunge into the challenge, share how it’s going and what you’re working on in the comments below.

Reflecting On A Chaotic Win

Camp NaNoWriMo has come to a close for the year 2017, sadly. They always go by so quickly, each time making me realize I am way too close to the cold months, holiday madness, and the big November NaNoWriMo. (Which, as of right now, I have absolutely no idea what I’m working on during that month.)

Camp NaNo 2017 Winner

Camp NaNoWriMo July 2017 WINNER!!!

I can officially say I made goal for Camp NaNo in July. It was not a pretty win, but I did make it.

If anyone recalls from my post last Tuesday, I had lowered my goal — on what I thought was the last possible day before validating began — down to a mere 55 pages compared to my hope of 146 at the beginning of July. If you also recall from that post, I had started working daily on the editing for Fated to Darkness with a writing buddy and had made it half way to my original goal with six days left to Camp yet. So yes, I had technically already passed goal and could have stopped but I did wish to see if I could hit my original before the month ended.

I found out a couple days later through my email that Camp NaNo no longer has a cut off date for goal changing. That meant I could officially bump my goal back up so that I would have to keep working every day. (I was going to keep working anyways, but this just gave it a little more motivation. I’m not quite sure how I feel about this change though.)

Truthfully I didn’t bump by goal back up until the 30th, once I determined how much I could manage to get through on the last day of Camp. I didn’t jump to my original 146 pages, but I did jump pretty close to it.

At first I thought I could manage the whole 146, but then I told myself I better be a little bit more safe than sorry. (I’m glad I was.) I was on Chapter 9, and I wanted to get through at least Chapter 10 by the end. Well, turns out Chapter 10 was twenty-some pages long. I told myself I would cut that chapter in half for my final page goal of the month. It ended up evening out to 135 pages, which isn’t bad considering where I sat a week and a half ago at a mere 23 pages.

And yes, I made goal. I validated around nine o’clock Monday night. 31 days, 135 pages, 10.5 pages (including the prologue), and many, many concordance pages. It was probably more like roughly two weeks instead of 31 days after my complete fallout in the middle of the month, but I still did it.

I say I was glad I didn’t tell myself to do the whole 146 pages because my plans for Monday were tweaked after I woke up in excruciating pain that morning. It took me longer than I planned for to get myself up and moving to be able to edit yesterday. I’m still in pain and my movement is limited.

So despite all the hardships and roller coaster rides of July, I can say I put another winner’s certificate in my belt. It didn’t go at ALL how I had planned for the month to go, but I learned one important lesson. Or maybe two…

Perseverance is everything.

If you can push through and keep showing up every single day no matter what, then anything is possible to accomplish. You just have to have enough dare and nerve to do it, and keep doing it.

Secondly, never give up.

No matter how bleak, daunting, far off, or foolish a goal or dream looks, never give up on it when it means something to you. It can be attained with enough effort and perseverance.

Two weeks ago I wanted to give up, and two weeks ago now I learned to simply show up and persevere.

Now I’m one-fifth of the way through the first part of this phase of editing for Fated to Darkness. One milestone down, many more to come to add to my accomplishments list as I watch it grow. Camp NaNo may be over for the year, but I will find a way to keep making myself show up everyday to work.

This month may have been a chaotic mess, but it was in no way a fail even with all the faltering I did. Now’s the time to put what I learned to use outside of the madness that is NaNo:

To stop dreaming so much in the big picture and look at the stepping stones along the way. To stop making the ginormous goals and simply just show up day after day to do some work, even if it isn’t as much as I wanted it to be.

Progress is progress, no matter how small or big it may be.

Bring on August, and bring on the simple daily editing goal.

Progress Is Progress

Hello, world. Somehow I have once again managed to find my way to the surface to post. Truthfully, I had every intention of posting at the beginning of this month and keeping up with it this time. I even had all my Writer’s Guide topics laid out for each week this month! That’s a miracle!

Unfortunately that didn’t go to plan in the slightest, and I’m not really sure what happened that screwed every intention I had.

My last post — nearly a month ago now — was right before Camp NaNo began, and I had talked about getting ready for that, and I possibly also ranted about work… *Looks off innocently*

I suppose I could account part of my “falling off the blog wagon” incident to work and how much of a hell situation is was a month ago, but that has smoothed over for the most part again about two weeks ago. Maybe I was just so burned out and fed up with life and work that I no longer cared. Or maybe I was just so bummed and mad at myself because I wasn’t working on my Camp project that I figured I had absolutely nothing to talk about. Maybe all of the above and then some. Who knows with me, I’m not going to try to find the source of my absence, it’d be pointless.

(I do know there was more than one time I remembered I needed a blog post, and by the end of the day I had totally forgotten again and it was too late to do it. That happens a lot anymore. I need to start setting myself an alarm to write my posts so I stop forgetting.)

So while the first two and a half weeks of this month were a complete bust in Camp NaNo and life, I seem to have finally managed to pull some semblance of productivity and motivation back together. Perhaps this time the pieces of my life are a little more well glued together. A feat I can credit to some friends of mine.

Camp NaNo 2017

For the first three weeks of July, there were truthfully only two days in which I edited and worked on my concordance for Fated to Darkness. Those days were Day 1 and 2.  After that it was all down hill from there.

My original goal was to work up through Chapter 11, which was roughly 146 pages or so.

At first I wanted to work on it and kept telling myself I should work on it, but it just didn’t happen between work and other obligations. After that first week, when I had fallen so far behind in only managing to do 23 pages, I started to give up.

In the beginning it came across as I was going to have to lower my goal, to what I didn’t know, but I was going to have to lower it below 100 pages because the rest of my month was so booked with work, camping, and other obligations, that I was never going to have any free time at all to edit. (Or so I thought.) Then that notion began to spiral into not caring if I won for the month or not, which lead to wanting to just delete my entire Camp project for the first time ever because I was so frustrated with myself. I couldn’t figure out why I had tanked so hard this Camp.

On the last possible day before validation began I dropped my goal to 55 pages, which was only two more chapters from where I fell off the Camp wagon. A couple hours after that, I dropped my goal even lower to only 38 pages: one more chapter.

I hated myself for it. I hated how pathetically small that number looked, when I had such high hopes and plans for how I could finish the minor editing and concordance work before November started. I could see all those plans and hopes washing away down the drain each time I sighed heavily and officially dropped my goal.

But I’ve come to realize that I dream too big for the war I fight inside my own head every single day. I’ve come to finally see that those dreams carry me away on an euphoric high way up into the pristine white clouds and sunshine for a little bit, then the storm clouds roll back in at the slightest diversion to those dreams, snuffing the sun out, and the high is gone. The storm takes my motivation and hopes with it; and Mother Nature always wins in the end.

I also realized something else though. If I cannot find the willpower strong enough to hold myself accountable to my goals and dreams, then I do need help to do so. I don’t mean just encouragement, I mean the kind of help that stands at your side as your shadow, doing exactly what you do so that you aren’t doing it alone anymore. It’s easier to motivate yourself when you have someone in your corner consistently cheering you on and helping you build castles from sand.

And that is what happened finally.

Five days ago the black clouds began to clear, and with help — and much grumbling and resistance at first — I got myself to once more sit down and try to edit. I only expected to work for an hour, if that if I could keep myself focused, and instead I ended up working for two hours. Perhaps I didn’t feel very accomplished in the end, perhaps I didn’t feel the excitement to be working again yet, and I didn’t believe at the time that “some progress is better than no progress”, but that was because again I was still dreaming too big.

I’ve been looking at the long run goal for so long instead of looking at the stepping stones that lead me there. I’ve been looking at the completed concordance, and all 43 chapters (including Prologue and Epilogue) read through, slightly edited, noted for paper edits, and all the work for Phase 2 of this stage where I take all my messy notes and organize them to the concordance, and every word of every page in the Word doc that is overwhelming.

I’m psyching myself out when I stare at the project as a whole.

Yes I have a long, long way to go in this novel yet, but don’t they always tell you to stop and smell the roses, to enjoy the journey instead of focusing solely on the destination? Isn’t it easier to see how far you’ve come when you break the journey into parts, like traveling cross country, state to state, city to city.

If I stop thinking about the goals, if I stop making the goals, then I finally stop stressing about making par, about getting to the page or chapter or word count I so-called need to.

Progress is progress, no matter how small or big.

Yes, I want to finish this stage before November, but I don’t have to plan out doing this many chapters and pages every single month. All I truthfully have to do is show up and work, and before I know it…I’ll be farther than I thought I would be. Then suddenly I won’t be worrying so much about par, wondering if I’ll make my goal for the month.

I read somewhere that it is more motivating to make a list of all the things you accomplish, instead of a list of all the things you want to accomplish and never get to cross off half. Watch the positive list grow and grow to build yourself up, and if you so wish, make that goal list anyways and watch it grow smaller and smaller compared to your accomplishment list on steroids so long as you show up to work. At some point the positive one will come to outweigh the ever-growing, daunting list.

So right now I have no true monthly goals anymore. My only intention is to be through this stage of editing before November, and at the rate I’m going now without the stress of meeting quotas, I might even be there before October.

Right now it’s just work for one hour a day at the very least with a friend to help hold myself accountable. (Most days I’m finding I do more than an hour.) It doesn’t matter how many pages I get done, or if I make it through the chapter or not, just work. The hope is the more I do it, the easier it will get, the more habit it will become until I can hold myself to it every day without issue. And the more I work, the further I get every single day.

A week ago I thought I wouldn’t make goal for Camp. A week ago I wrestled with myself over deleting my Camp project and giving up entirely. A week ago I didn’t care. It’s amazing how one week, one day, one conversation can change everything.

Now I here I sit making sure I edit every single day with a writing buddy for at least that one hour. Now here I sit somehow managing to get through almost a chapter a day without even realizing how much progress I’m making. Now here I sit truly wondering if I ever needed to drop my Camp goal at all from just four days of work.

I am over halfway to my original goal of 146 pages, and there is still six days left to Camp NaNo. I am 23 pages away from being one-sixth of the way through my entire book. I am 23 pages away from breaking triple digits in page numbers. I am three chapters away from breaking double digits in chapters.

When I look at it that way, in bits and pieces, only then do I see just how far I’ve gotten already. When I look at how many pages are being added to my concordance, how many notes are being organized and recorded to make the paper edits that much easier, I see just how far I’m getting finally.

Progress is progress, no matter how small or big it may be. Remember that fellow authors, writers, poets, and dreamers. Always remember that and the storm clouds will clear the way for sunshine once more.

Gearing Up For Camp NaNo

The Evil Day Job and writing don’t always mix nicely, especially when you work in soul-sucking retail. Sometimes it seems impossible to be able to unplug from work and find time, or energy, to write once you make it home — hopefully in one piece. And other times…it really is impossible.

I am going to hate myself for saying this, but I have begun to associate this work week as a third Christmas. (Easter is the second Christmas when it comes to retail, and actually Back to School could be the third mini Christmas instead, so maybe this is like my fourth Christmas.) Essentially this week is Hell Week when my boss decided it’s a great time to take an eight day vacation — for what I swear is the third time in only a couple months, throw myself and the two other managers under the bus more than once, and leave all of us to pick up her slack the final week before the biggest boss visit of our store’s life.

Thanks, bitch! NOT! I don’t care what’s going on in your life right now, you should definitely be here for this.

I do not get paid enough for this amount of stress, frustration, and responsibility now sitting on my shoulders. I should also not be going into overtime this week, but guess what? All three of us managers left to deal with this bullshit are probably going into overtime, even when we’re technically not allowed.

You know it’s time to find a new job when you’ve got to the point that you really just don’t care anymore. You do what you get done and the rest… “Well, fuck it. It is what is anymore. I don’t care.”

I get it though. You’re the general manager and you’ve adopted an “I can do whatever the hell I want” attitude because of it. Whatever though. I don’t care anymore. I’ll look for a new job unless things start shaping up as fair again, or I’ll leave and laugh while I watch you scramble to fill an already shorthanded position.

Well no wonder I’m going into overtime then when I’m not supposed to!

*Rolls eyes* Idiot…

I shall forego a longer rant about work though and move onto writing. If there’s one thing overtime kills, it’s free time at home and the energy to do anything once you get home. It also doesn’t help when you work so many messed up shifts that you have to choose between eating, sleeping, or getting things done once you finally do get home.

The bad thing about all this happening right now is that it’s the week before Camp NaNo starts for me. By the time Saturday rolls around I’m going to be so fed up and exhausted that I’m going to need all of Saturday just to recover some sanity and motivation — maybe longer than that at this rate, which means I only have Sunday left in my request off days to get a head start on Camp.

I should have taken the first three days of July off for Camp, but then again, even if I did, my boss would be taking away the approved third day just like she took away one of my approved days — approved in FEBRUARY — this week because her life took precedent over mine.

I did not do it for you, bitch, I did it for the two other managers getting stuck with your bullshit too. Don’t you dare thank me for it, or I might just have the balls to finally say to your face I didn’t do it for you. (The other two managers know straight up I did it for them.)

Despite how much hell this week is going to be I did manage to start my Camp NaNo  project on Sunday. For the first time in two months I finally picked up some of my writing and got to work. Since I’m using Camp to work on the concordance and some minor editing of Fated to Darkness, I wanted to get a head start so I could play around with the best way to go about this project.

I’m glad I did get a head start because I spent a good hour and a half just organizing pages in my concordance and figuring out what sections/categories needed added yet, and making lists for what to include in certain categories (like character sheets, and chapter summary information for easy access to arranging plot lines, and so forth).

By the time I did call it quits Sunday night since I had to be at work early Monday morning, I had a better basis for how to do things, started a rough note notebook to keep track of things for said pages above, had managed to get through the Prologue of my story with the minor editing, and created a reference and question Word doc I can consult and use when I begin the major editing.

My hope is by making this Word doc I’ll better be able to organize the notes I left myself in my rough draft. I’ll be able to use it to answer questions of past events or miscellaneous things, or note that I need a character name, or a chapter title, or that this section needs more editing, or that I need to watch my “telling words” in this section, or this scene needs more description, etc. etc. etc.. By transferring and noting where those references and questions are in my rough draft, I should be able to eliminate lots of unnecessary words and some pages so I’m not printing — or paying — as much when I start paper editing the book. (I plan to put the Word doc on a flash drive and take it to an office supply store to print it instead of using all my own paper and ink.)

I think it’s going to work based on how things started out for me, and my hope is to get up to at least Chapter 11, which is about 146 pages, by the end of July. If I want to stick to my original goal of getting through the whole book by November, that gives me four months, and there’s about 40 some chapters in this book. Roughly ten chapters a month, not too bad — I don’t think. By doing it this way I can use the minimal free time of November and December to organize the rough notes I’m putting in the notebook into my concordance, and also print my reference Word doc and the actual book.

(Wait, what free time in November? That’s NaNoWriMo! And the start of the holiday!)

The more I think about this, the scarier it is to see how far I’ve really come. At the same time it’s exciting. It’s hard to believe I’ve really come this far.

Now if only I can figure out how to regain energy and motivation in the face of work’s hell to keep pushing forward this week — I would like to get through Chapter 1 before Camp starts — and in the future at this rate… Music only helps so much sometimes. I need another way. Like maybe taping the logo of my company — or maybe my boss’ face — on my target and practice shooting my bow at it. Bet you I’d hit a bull’s eye…

How do you unplug from work to shake off it’s exhaustion and frustration to be able to focus on writing and/or editing once you’re home?

Now What?

On Sunday I finished the first draft of Fated to Darkness and since then…I have felt like a lost puppy. I’ve sat on my desk chair spinning in a circle because I haven’t known what to work on. I’m so used to working on FtD for so long now that it feels weird to not be working on it, to not be pushing for that end scene yet.

I feel so lost.

There’s still a very palpable sense of grappling for straws on the reality of completing this novel right now. The “now what?” feeling as I try to figure out what I’m supposed to be doing. It’s been five days since I finished the novel, but I’m still staring somewhat dumbfounded at the binder that holds my concordance for FtD and at my other WiPs with an “aaaaahhhh….” kind of expression. I could almost just flip a coin to try to figure out what I’m doing.

Granted, there are many, many things I could be doing now.

For starters I could get back to working on Clockwork Heart like I wanted to use part of Camp for. I could use the rest of the year, or however long it takes, to work on that novella/novel. Or I could go back to the very first novel I ever started writing, Breaking Point, and continue that. (The more I look at that novel though the more I need to do some outlining and brainstorming and probably a title change too. To what though I have no idea…sort of.) I could even start outlining Shapeshifter Wings and start work on that. Then there’s the option of starting one of the plentiful, new novel ideas kicking around in my head — like Alice in Court, or Book 2 to The Dark Heir series, or the horse ranch storyline that’s been kicking around up there since I was little that actually has a title and subtitle already.

Or, I could forgo novel work for the time being and start on some short stories. I could write the sequel to The Black Lake, or redo that story altogether to make it better then do the sequel. Or expand and fix up The Beast. I could also poke around at Seductress and see if it leads me anywhere beyond the vague storyline and grand ball scene it has.

On the other hand, I could refocus my efforts to editing instead of writing. I don’t mean editing Fated to Darkness. No no. That is going to sit and wait until I can come back with fresher eyes. I mean that I could take this time now and focus on re-editing, polishing, and maybe expanding Rivers of Black more. The thought has crossed my mind to try to publish the story, but I’m not going to explore that spurt of consciousness any further yet. I don’t want to think about publishing right now…

The fact I have finished the first draft of Fated to Darkness doesn’t mean it’s not going to be touched at all until I’m ready to edit though. I won’t let it collect dust for a couple months. I still have a binder concordance I need to flesh out and finish, and there are multiple notes within my book that I need to find a way to organize and put together in a notebook or something so that as I go along and edit and answer the questions I left myself I’ll be able to avoid plot holes or errors.

There’s still quite a lot of work to do on FtD before I get to the true editing phase. So while I spend the rest of the year — I’m hoping to be done before December, because…holiday — finishing the concordance and finding a way to organize those notes and questions to myself, I am going to be working on something else as well. I would like an entire month of letting FtD sit completely ready for edits before I do dive into full on scrutiny paper edits, but until then there’s lots left to do.

My tentative plan right now as I start to get the ball rolling again is to get working on the concordance and an organization technique for the notes/questions I left. In doing that, I will be reading through my entire novel, which also means that while I’m reading I can minimally fix light edits. Say a missed word, or the wrong version of a word, missing quotation marks, and so forth. The things that won’t require me stopping for an hour on one paragraph to make it sound the best it can possibly be. Doing this will make the paper edits a little less daunting in red marks.

That’s the plan for Fated to Darkness from here till December. *Prays I can be ready by then*

Because I don’t want to lose the next six or seven months with no writing to show for it — well, that wouldn’t have happened anyways because of July’s Camp NaNo and November’s NaNo — I am going to work on something alongside the next stage of FtD. I believe that “now what?” feeling is going to be geared toward writing Clockwork Heart and trying to finish that story this year, as well as re-editing Rivers of Black.

Actually, my original goal of May was to re-edit Rivers of Black finally since I kind of failed on that one last year. Perhaps that will actually happen now that FtD is done. Then again, I had expected Clockwork Heart to only be a short story and already be done by this time too, but…

Yeah, the universe hasn’t been kind to me this year in more ways than one.

But that’s the plan for now. I guess I’ll see how it works out, though I don’t have many expectations for it. I’ve learned better at this point. The hardest part I think is going to be finding a balance between these three projects now when my life is already so screwy and unpredictable.

Or, maybe, the hardest part is going to be finding the heart that says it’s worth it again…

Declaring A Win And A Completion

Camp NaNo 2017 Winner

Camp NaNoWriMo April 2017 WINNER!!!

That’s right. I managed to pull off the win on the very last day of Camp. As predicted, after the long work week I had, I totally blew getting anything done on Saturday. So come Sunday I was up and writing from the moment I woke up to get that final 5,669 words I needed. Come to think of it, I didn’t even stop to eat until I had validated, which by that point was definitely dinner time. Whoops…

But I pulled off the win! Hooray! *Throws confetti*

30 days, 30,058 words (30,053 after validating), 65 pages, and 4.5 chapters plus a blurb.

It may not have been a pretty win this month, but it’s a win. And guess what else?

That’s right, baby.

Fated to Darkness is FINISHED!!!

SQUUEEEEE!!!

Excuse me while I scream, cry, laugh, and essentially freak out internally for a little bit again.

I can’t believe I’m finally typing those words. I’m in shock. It’s a dream come true. (Or, well, the beginning of a dream come true.) I actually did it. I actually finished my first full length novel after almost three years of working on it with NaNoWriMo’s and spare time.

And this isn’t just any novel to me. This is the first book of the series that is my heart and soul. The storyline that has been kicking around in my head since I was a little girl. The characters that have literally grown up with me in my head. They’ve been waiting for this to happen for as long as I’ve been waiting for it to happen.

I finally did it.

Book 1 of The Dark Heir chronicles is complete.

I’m still in shock, and I’m definitely still freaking out internally. *Happy dances*

This whole month, this whole book, has been a roller coaster. I started out this Camp with the intentions of having Fated to Darkness finished within the first week so I could spend the rest of the month working on Clockwork Heart. (Obviously I didn’t get to work on Clockwork Heart at all.) But I was both excited and scared out of my mind to finish this novel.

I struggled to get through the end of this book for many reasons ranging from frustration to hesitance, but I made it and I managed to type these words for the first time in my life:

end book 1

When I got to those words — which I’m not going to leave them in come edits, I just wanted to be able to write them, lol — I had to stop and just stare at my Word doc while I tried to process the fact that I actually did it.

It was quite an interesting day of writing on Sunday to get to that point. Because I was so frustrated with Chapter 41, I left it off with my lengthy ranting note to redo the chapter. I didn’t try to pick up from where I had stopped, but I did jump ahead just a little to the end of the chapter where I knew how it was going to go down to the smallest detail.

Once I got to that part the words just started flowing again full force. The end of Chapter 41 went down without a hitch — though it could use a bit more bang — and I went onto writing the Epilogue. (That was another word I had to stare at whenever I typed it because I couldn’t believe I was seeing it.) I thought the Epilogue was going to be a bit difficult to write because I have to be very careful in what I reveal in it. (No I’m not going to tell you why. Mwahaha!) Surprisingly it didn’t give me the issues I thought it was going to, and it even ended up setting up the Prologue for Book 2!

Of course once I got to writing the words “End Book 1” I realized I was about 150 words short of hitting goal for Camp.

Go. Figure.

I was not going to write a 150 words of something new or another WiP, and I realized the blurb I made years ago for Fated to Darkness needed some tweaking and kind of sucked. So you know what I did? Yep, I took that final little spurt of words and wrote another blurb!

Gods I hate blurbs…

This one wasn’t that bad to write though, shockingly.

It got me to the NaNo win so that’s all I cared about. I just can’t believe I’m going to be setting this novel aside now for awhile so I can come back to it with fresh eyes. I miss my characters already. I miss Kailyn, and Matt, and Gods…I even miss Ciara, the evil bitch. It feels really weird to not be working on their novel. I feel lost.

Granted, I’m not putting it away completely yet, there’s still a few things I need to do with it before I’m ready to begin editing — which I plan to be the start of next year — but I still miss them already.

But alas, the explanation of that headache stuff I need to do, as well as my next plans, can wait a couple days. After all, I’m still celebrating my win and the completion of my first full length novel.

Camp may not have gone the way I had planned for it to go last month, but it will definitely be one that goes down in my history books. I did it, baby! Now excuse me while I go celebrate some more and squeal in happiness.

Planning A Year

happy-new-year

It’s officially 2017. I hope everyone’s New Year so far is shaping up as they had hoped. I’m sure there’s lots of new goals and resolutions and hope out there. Whatever you’re aiming to better or do this year, good for you; and if you have no resolutions, well, then, good for you too.

After talking about my accomplishments, half accomplishments, and failures of last year’s goals on Friday, I spent the last couple days thinking over goals and resolutions and trying to organize myself for the new year. Normally I don’t do resolutions, I just do goals, but this year I seem to have written a few things off as resolutions.

Which brings me to something interesting I saw. The other day I was searching Google images for something relating to goals and resolutions. In a lot of images I found they were crossing out the word “resolutions” and replacing it with “goals”. Or they were simply saying “goals, not resolutions”. That took me a little be surprise and I wondered, “why?” Why do they say goals not resolutions?

Naturally, I looked into it a bit and found that the meaning behind those images were to set goals that you could physically work toward, a plan, not a resolution that you don’t know how to go about. Think about it…

Say your resolution this year was to get fit. Okay, great. You want to get fit. Now if I were to ask you how are you going to do that, would you have an answer for me right away? Would you have a plan? Maybe some of you do, but when you list something so vague and broad, it can leave you fumbling.

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That’s why they say make goals, not resolutions. Goals can be specific, goals can have a path you can follow toward. Goals can make you plan how to go about achieving it in tiny steps so it doesn’t look so daunting a monster to conquer. I’ve learned that over the past year, and now I’m really starting to see why it’s so much easier that way. Even so, it can be easy to overbook yourself on goals if you feed them too many growth hormones. Never forget though that goals can be broken down. Even the most humungous and fiercest of them all can be broken down into tiny little pieces, limb by limb, stage by stage until the monster you built can be seen as tiny little monsterlings that are more easily conquerable.  And each monsterling you conquer you can put back into place, now tamed, and watch how your goal is shaping up and building until you are so close to achieving it and becoming the master.

mistake-goal

That gives you motivation. To watch it grow, to watch yourself actually achieving the steps toward that monster of a goal. No matter your goal, it can be the same process, you only have to be careful you make the goal realistic in the time frame you set yourself for it, otherwise your monster will become too scary and seem to grow bigger and bigger day by day until he crushes you instead of you taming him.

And that brings me to the goals I’ve been putzing over the past couple days. I found myself labeling some things as resolutions, but only because they are something I want to make habit in a sense. They are still goals in a way that I have a plan on how to go about them, but for the sake of organization I labeled them as resolutions because they aren’t a one-and-done type of goal. They are constant.

Once I finally had my goals listed out and I had begun to shape out my planner, I tried to work out a timeframe that I could work with for each one. To do that I grabbed notecards — one for each month, and one simply for daily things — and started mapping things out.

While I may have a rough time frame worked out now, I still do not have a detailed, written plan of every goal. That was today’s plan, because it is much easier to type it out as I think in a post and then copy it down to my secondary planner, then it is to write it once on paper — in pen — and be perfect. I work it out in head here and then I’ll be good to copy it all to paper and get to work on achieving things.

So here we go. Down the rabbit hole for a look into the way my mind thinks. Hopefully you don’t get scared off by the monsters that are my goals.

RESOLUTIONS

As I said above, I am simply labeling daily things I wish to make more habit in my life as resolutions, but they are still goals I can work toward and achieve in order to make them habit.

Meditate
This is something I began to try my hand at last year and it never really worked out. That was partly due to the fact I wasn’t entirely sure on what I was doing. I had always believed that in meditation my mind was supposed to be utterly quiet, not a single wisp of thought. In just three days alone since this new year began I learned that isn’t quite true, and it’s already begun to help, because now I’m not so frustrated that I’m yelling at my mind to be quiet and I’m actually getting somewhere. (Yelling at yourself in mediation doesn’t exactly help you relax.)

So this is something I wish to become a daily habit, even if it’s only for a couple minutes a day. It certainly helps to have someone doing it with you, too, both for support and for making sure you did it. It also helps to follow a 30 day challenge to get yourself some instruction — if you’re a bit of a beginner like myself — or to simply remember to do it.

Do Yoga/Workout Once a Day
Another thing I wish to make a daily habit. Once again, I started doing both yoga and small workouts last year but it’s hard to have any free or alone time in my home to be able to do it. The only open enough space I have to work out is in the living room, and with a constant hovering patron of this house, it’s extra hard to get any alone time to simply do this. If I get lucky enough to score the house to myself, great! Either yoga or a small workout session is the first thing I’ll go to downstairs. If not, then I might be waiting until midnight to have the chance to be alone downstairs.

Granted, I can do some minor things that don’t require space in my own room, but it isn’t much I can do. Also, once the weather turns to spring, I can easily go outside to get away to complete this daily. I think the best thing about this one is I’m giving myself some leeway with it. Perhaps one day I’ll get to do some yoga and the next two or so I won’t be able to due to space constraints, but I’ll still be able to do some easier workouts that don’t require the same space. Or perhaps once it warms up I’ll count my workout as going for a walk, or a run. It won’t always be the same, and that’ll give me flexibility so I don’t get bored with it or tired of it quickly.

I won’t need to join a gym or spend a ton of money to do this either. I could grab a couple things from where I work that I can workout at home with, and there’s always YouTube to look up any kind of workout video imaginable. It’s not the same as a gym, but it’s still better than nothing and easier to fit into an ever-changing work schedule.

Be Awake By 11am
Everyone knows I’m a major night owl. In the past month or so I started to really, really sleep in late. My day wouldn’t really start until one or two in the afternoon because I wasn’t getting up until noon or later. I partly blame that on work and just being exhausted over the holiday season, but it’s also cutting into the ability to manage my time.

To help that, I’m trying to make myself be in bed, lights out, by or at 3am. That way even if I need to be up around eight or nine for work I’m still getting five to six hours of sleep, instead of my two or three I did a lot last year, and the year before. The reasoning behind this is to hopefully have somewhere between six to seven hours a night and still be able to get things done as I hope to since I’m most active at night. That’s the hope at least, we’ll see how it works out, especially if I start getting the ungodly shift of 5am again.

Better Time Management
I royally sucked at this last year and let a lot of things slide until last minute that left a lot of scrambling, a lot of stress, and a lot of weight on my shoulders. I hope to change that this year.

At one point I asked a friend last year how she did it. Her response was a simple one, but it stuck with me.

“It’s easier to stay caught up than to play catch up.”

Alright, so that may not be the exact words of months ago, but that’s the concept. It’s never left my mind, and I’ve realized just how right she is. It’s much easier to simply stay on track than to be running to catch up, especially when you have so much going on.

So this year I am going to try to manage my time better. Part of that ties in with being up a little earlier. As things come, I’m going to try to complete them. For instance… The Snippet Sunday blog hop always happens on Sunday (though it technically starts Saturday with a couple), so by Monday night I want to have gone through all the blogs so I don’t have to worry about it the rest of the week. If I work the long afternoon to close shift on a blog post day, I want to try to complete that post before I go to bed, or at least have a draft of it so I’m not scrambling the next day to write a half-assed one. As mail comes in, junk or otherwise, I want to have it gone through, paid, replied to, pitched and/or filed away within a day or two. If I shop at all, I want to put things away in a timely fashion instead of leaving them sit in the corner of my room as I started doing. Keeping my desk clear is going to be the same concept. Scheduling my Sunday Snippet posts will be something I take one or two at a time, so that doing four or five at a time doesn’t take so long.

In all I just need to keep on top of things instead of simply shrugging them off for later. “Later” is a word I want to stop using this year.

Use My Planner
This is what’s going to help with my time management. I started using a simple, kind of stupid planner last year. After the first two months maybe I just kind of stopped looking at it. This year I bought a new one, a better one, and the hope is to keep at this year.

The best things about this one are I can actually flip to a certain month via tabs, and it has both a monthly calendar and pages of day by day to write things in. The calendar itself will allow me to write down events, birthdays, mercury’s retrogrades, deadlines, what days need posts, and so forth. The day to day pages will help me plan out my week with everything else.

I used to keep a simple lined notebook that I would write down “Week of January 1st” at the top and then list the things I wanted to do that week. I never broke it down further though. Now, since I still use that notebook to help organize myself — and that’s actually the notebook I will copy these goals down into — I can organize even further by breaking that week page down into daily by writing them into my planner.

Now so long as I stick to that and actually open both my planner and notebook, I should be good.

Write Consistently
This was a goal I held last year as well, and pretty much failed on. This year I’m going to try once more to hold myself accountable to writing at least something each week, even if it’s simply a 100 words a day, even if it’s fifty words a day. I don’t care if it ends up being a 100 words a week, I just need to stop letting myself fall off the wagon during non-NaNo months.

This year, I hope that the support of friends will help hold me accountable to doing this. If they are expecting a snippet of something I wrote that week then I have to deliver every week for the group to see my proof of creativity, or be pestered until there is a fire lit under my ass. Even just working with them to make us all write should make it that much more manageable and easy to accomplish.

The goal of this group is to take the NaNo out of NaNoWriMo. That way every month simply becomes a Writing Month, even if the word count isn’t as huge as actual NaNo months. Just so long as I am doing something every week toward my goals of writing and publishing, whether it be writing or editing. And if we can make it more interactive with each other like NaNo then there’s motivation.

The only problem in this is that we all have to make the commitment to not slack off on each other, and then actually stick to the commitment, no matter how hectic life gets.

GOALS

So while all my resolutions are goals in a way, they are not the one-and-done type of goals as the rest of these are.

Read Two Books A Month
Alright, so this technically could have counted as a resolution to simply read more. However, as I talked of, the goal to simply read more is vague. Which is why I came up with the goal of reading two books a month, at least.

Ever since I started working and writing more the time for me to read dwindled further and further. As an author, reading is a must no matter what you think. This goal will help me get back into reading. It doesn’t matter what the book is, how long it is, what it’s about, as long as I am reading something. For instance, my first choice of this month was a book called Meditation For Beginners.

I did, however, give myself a little bit of leeway again in this goal. During the three NaNo months, I let myself slide on only needing to read one book that month.

The easiest way I’m going to accomplish this goal is if I set aside a specific time to read. I came to the conclusion that best time would be at night. If my goal is to be in bed, lights out, by 3am, then by 2:30am I need to be off my computer, phone, whatever I’m working on so that I can sit in bed for half an hour and read. Doing this might even help me sleep, it’s been proven that reading can help you sleep.

Revamp Blog Layout/Info
This is something I should have done last year. I want to go back through my pages and update any information in the About pages so that it is current and reflecting of me. Since, you know, I haven’t changed any of that since I first made this blog…two years ago now I believe. (Wow… Doesn’t feel like it’s been that long.)

I also want to rework the pages that hold information on my stories and books. Instead of being one long list of books on the page, I want to turn each book into a tab under the page. On top of that, I wanted to create a separate page (and hopefully one day more tabs) for anything that is physically published and available for purchase, not my freebies on Wattpad.

I plan to have this completed by the end of January, so if you start seeing things changing a bit, that’s why.

Finish and Submit Clockwork Heart
This is one of my bigger ones that I’ve broken up into two parts. The first part is to simply outline and write the story; the second part is to edit it and submit it with all necessary information.

I have until February 20th to do this.

If the title Clockwork Heart rings a bell that’s because it was the title of one of my Wednesday Words last month. Just like with Embermyst, the story sprung into a full on plot bunny and I’m going to be submitting this to VTP’s Spring Anthology for another chance at publication. That deadline is obviously February 2oth.

By working out a timeline on how to go about this, if I can outline and write it — including a dreaded blurb — by the end of January, that will give me about two and a half weeks to edit and polish it before sending it in. I plan to have it outlined and begin writing by the end of this week.

Complete 2016 Camping Journal Entries
This goal looks very familiar, doesn’t it? That’s because, like the year before, I failed miserably at staying on top of those entries during the camping season. So once more, I have six entries to write before May, and I think maybe one or two sets of notes to complete in order to do so again as well.

Since I have Clockwork Heart to focus on right now, I’m not going to plan to start these until the week of February 19th. Like last year, I will do one a week and I will complete them just in time for the start of April’s Camp NaNo.

The other side to this goal is when the 2017 season starts I need to stay on top of them this year so this goal doesn’t become something that happens every year. I believe I’ve figured out how I can do that too. The last few years I’ve only taken off work the days of the trip, this year I am going to take off the day after each trip as well. That extra day will allow me to catch up on lost sleep, get organized, and also sit down to write the entry while it’s fresh in my mind, as well as loading any pictures I took of that week to my Facebook. If I can do that, I won’t be scrambling at the last moment to write or finish an entry before the next trip rolls around right quick when they are normally only two weeks apart.

Obtain Driver’s License
Alright… This one was on last year’s list as well. To my credit I got half way to it last year, I got my permit. I just never got out much to practice due to circumstances beyond my control.

It’s nearly certain I will not get that dumb little plastic card by the time my permit runs out, so once more I have myself listed to re-acquire my permit once this one runs out of time. Just like last year, I hope to have gotten my license sometime before the snow falls. Say maybe by the end of October.

Providing schedules can work out better this year, I can hope that this goal will be achieved this year.

Re-edit Rivers of Black
This goal is also quite familiar if you recall my last post. Re-editing this story was a goal I set myself last year and I just never quite started to edit it. I’m going to try again this year and I plan to use the month of May to edit it and re-release it on the Wattpad world.

I figured May would be a good time because it’s coming off a maddened induced month of writing for Camp NaNo and will be a little bit of a break from writing. Granted, I’ll still try to hold myself accountable to writing, but my focus will be on editing that month.

Finish Fated to Darkness
Yes, this was another goal I held last year as well. I got close to completing part of this goal last year, but my lack of follow through in non-NaNo months is what became my downfall on the goal.

Now that I’m only about six chapters away from the end of this book, I can definitely finish it this year. If I don’t, there’s something wrong with me. However, it is more than just completing the first draft that I want to accomplish with this novel this year. I also want to have the concordance completed so that I have something to look over in editing to help keep me straight. Lastly, I want to have this rough draft printed and in a binder by the end of the year to be able to begin editing next year. That print out may also include a print out of a list of notes and questions I left myself within the Word doc for when editing comes along. I haven’t decided if I want to simply print them or copy them to a notebook to have handy. Printing might be easier.

To do all this, I planned to have completed writing the book by the end of May. Honestly, if I don’t finish it by the end of April with Camp NaNo or even before that I’m going to kick myself. The more time I have to work on the concordance and print outs, the better. Because, you know, I only have 500 some pages to read through to make notes of and stuff.

If I finish writing hopefully by the end of April, then I will focus on completing the concordance by the end of October, before the holiday madness begins. That gives me time to worry about nothing else but NaNo in November and then gifts and work for the rest of the year. Printing everything will also be easy to do when I’m already out running errands during that time of year.

That’s the detailed goal, now I only need to stick to it again. I’m itching to get to work on it, but Clockwork Heart is going to take precedence right now with a looming deadline.

Get Rid of Yard Sale Items
This goal is the result of one of my goals last year. I had cleaned out my entire room and held a yard sale to sell what I no longer wanted or use. Unfortunately, the yard sale was less than successful and it left me with more than half the stuff I wanted to get rid of sitting around here with no time to do anything with it.

The goal this year is to simply get rid of it all. Whether it be by donating it, craigslist to try to sell more, a Facebook group to sell it, throwing some stuff out, or trying a thrift shop. This will be a good thing to do in June when camping will start to take up some of my time. Simple and easy, as long as I don’t start cleaning something else out in this house. Like the spare room.

Meet a Friend
I only have this listed as a goal because I have a couple online friends I have never actually met face to face. Well, one I have half met face to face thanks to a lovely thing called webcams and Skype, but I still have yet to meet the other.

It doesn’t help when both of you are such introverts that you talk of making plans to meet but then just never follow through on it. I’m totally guilty of that.

So to put it simply, I just want to finally make that meeting happen sometime during this year. Maybe after the snow stops flying though.

END RESOLUTIONS/GOALS

That’s it then. That’s my year in a nutshell. 365 days of planning down to one rather long, detailed blog post. Now I can be held accountable to these goals. They are officially written down in some form. All that’s left to do is copy them to my notebook and start getting to work.

Although, I have one last parting thought. If you were to consider one word as your attainable goal this year, what would you pick? What would you strive for? If I had to choose, my word would be creativity. Simply because it can cover such a wide variety of my goals in writing. Or it would be time management, since that is what I need to work on.

If I accomplish even half of these goals, I will be happy with myself. If I make nearly all of them happen, I will be ecstatic. If by some chance I am able to check off every single goal at the end of this year, and will proudly be able to say I didn’t give up on yoga, reading, meditation, writing, and working out, I will be without words. My hope is that this year I finally begin to take my life back in my own hands after years on end of struggling, and that in making new daily habits I will no longer be sitting around lazily or scrolling through my phone because I’m bored.

Here’s to a better year than 2016, and a brighter, better, happier me.

Reflecting On 2016

I’ve been quite absent here the past week or so. Last week was a total madhouse of things going on with the holiday season. The week before Christmas is the final and worst Hell Week when you work retail. Since I had my own things I had to finish to be ready for the holiday on top of working I was going non-stop and a lot slipped my mind, like blog posts. I hardly slept last week with the final rush of things.

(I know I’ve said something similar to this before but roughly ten hours of sleep in a matter of three days is not recommended. I crashed for about 18 hours after that little doozy of a nightmare.)

Things have finally begun to quiet down now that it’s over. At least, work has quieted down from the chicken without a head rushing, there’s still lots to do though. Home life, on the other hand, has not taken the memo to quiet down this week. After putting in two weeks of overtime, I somehow managed to score four days off this week and I was so looking forward to it because this introvert needs about three weeks of calm to realign after the last several weeks before she has to hit another two or three weeks of madness due to inventory.

Unfortunately that calm has not worked out.

Monday into Tuesday morning was my sleep for about 18 hours spell. Tuesday was my first day off (other than Christmas, I didn’t exactly count Christmas as off since there was still no relaxing about it) and I had completely planned for it to be a “fuck it all” kind of day where I was simply going to just sit around and relax finally. I didn’t care if I got anything done or not, and I was not planning to go anywhere.

Right off the bat that got screwed because I had to go out to finish an errand that I couldn’t do on Monday since the post office was closed the day after Christmas, and of course, other people wanted me to do things that day. I said no. The relaxation also got a little cancelled by a bummed out and irritated mood thanks to certain events. Thankfully, by the end of the night I was pretty alright though.

Wednesday I worked and upon getting home I began to hear the news about the company All Romance eBooks closing its doors at the end of the year quite abruptly without warning and basically screwing over its authors and publishers. It gave me a mini heart attack because for a moment I couldn’t remember if my publisher for Embermyst had used them or not. I got lucky, but many others haven’t, and just hearing about it is making me reel and shaking me off center a little.

Now Thursday into today has pretty much been an irritating hell in which nothing has gone to plan thanks to uncontrollable circumstances that don’t even involve me but end up effecting me. I even had off today and, yeah, nothing has gotten done.

At this point, all I’m praying for to whichever god or goddess will hear me is that the rest of this night goes more calmly and that tomorrow mellows out into a good day since I’m again off. Tomorrow better be a good day because it’ll be the first time I get to spend one on one time with someone I hardly see. I don’t want anything to ruin it, not the slightest hitch. You hear me, universe? Not one hitch. No ifs, ands, or buts. That’s my one and only warning. I need something good to end this nightmare year on.

Speaking of this nightmare year, it’s just about over. I think a lot of people are saying “fucking finally” and will be jumping for joy when this year ends tomorrow, or they’ll be flicking off the ball as it drops. Myself included. There have been a few good spots to 2016 but there’s also been a lot of bad that has left a shadow of darkness hanging over this year forever. I honestly believe it will be a year that goes down in history as one nobody ever wants to speak of again.

As I sit here with six candles to light my room, my diffuser running with a blend of essential oils to try to ease my stress and relax, and a CD of hammer dulcimer instruments playing softly, I can’t help but look back on 2016. (Can you tell I was meditating before I began this post?)

A lot has happened this year, and a lot also hasn’t happened this year. Some things were amazing, others were horrific. Some things were half started and never finished, others were never began, and others still were huge accomplishments. It has certainly been a royal roller coaster of a year, and not just for me but for a lot of the world.

The world was rocked by terrorist attacks on Paris. Outrage flew out over the Pulse shootings in Florida. The world reeled at the results of the US Presidential Election. So many influential and amazing actors/actresses, singers, songwriters, producers, and authors passed away this year. DAPL’s heinous acts have gotten little media coverage and left many people outraged by greed and fighting back with the risk to their lives by this point. The Zika virus outbreak caused much panic in women and over the Olympic games. Let’s face it, no one was happy where the Olympic games took place either.

There were spots of light amongst the darkness though.

Thanks to the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge of oh so long ago, the gene responsible for the disease has been identified, giving us new ground to work toward an effective treatment. Scientists learned how to link robotic arms with the part of the brain linked to intent so that they may use them just as we use our own limbs, just by doing. Endangered species’ numbers are growing, like tigers, and pandas, and manatees. World crime is still declining — even if it doesn’t seem like it after this year. A bank firm paid the college tuition for children of employees killed in 9/11. After the Pulse shootings, the Orlando Shakespeare Festival showed up at the funeral for the victims with angel wings to block the view of anti-gay protestors from the proceedings. The world of Harry Potter has not ended with a new book and movie out.

2016 has seemed bleak and despairing, but if we only look at the bad, we will never see the bits of good that have bloomed out of the darkness against all odds either.

The world has seen its massive ups and downs this year, that much is for sure, but what about for me?

With the year ending tomorrow I have found myself reflecting back on the goals I had for this year. Some I had actually completed, others I tried but didn’t quite get very far. A few fell through, and still 2016 held a couple surprises.

Does anyone remember what my goals were? (No cheating by clicking on the link. Lol) Well, I suppose I’d be surprised if ya’ll remembered what my goals were. Somehow I managed to remember them, maybe because I wrote them all down in a nice little journal entry at the beginning of the year.

And ’tis the season to take a walk down memory lane from the whole year so I might as well start walking to see what I accomplished — or didn’t accomplish — this year. Care to join me?

THE GOALS

Write Consistently
I suppose my only resolution of this year was to simply write consistently instead of my jumping around in writing this month and doing nothing the next month and so forth. Unfortunately, I still failed pretty miserably at that resolution. I need more discipline to make it work. Something I’m not at all good at.

However, this was the first year I successfully managed a win for NaNoWriMo in November, so I call that an accomplishment. (I tried for it in 2015 too but I had computer issues that rendered me unable to do it.)

After three NaNo sessions working on Fated to Darkness and my short story Embermyst, at the very least I wrote 156,792 words this year. And that doesn’t even include all my Shards of Imagination flash fiction writing or any other writing I did in non-NaNo months. So it’s safe to say I did at least write over 200k this year. (It’d be pretty cool to see what the actual number was if I could ever figure it out.)

*Couple minutes later*

Okay, I did part of the math. If I add in all the words I wrote for Shards of Imagination, I get 203, 177 words. That doesn’t include any of the little bits of writing I did on Fated to Darkness in non-NaNo months so I am definitely over 200k for the year. I wish that number was higher, and I wish I could know just how much I wrote, but I’m not sure I could figure it out exactly. Well… Maybe if I went back through my email to find where I kept leaving off in writing I could get pretty darn close to the exact number. As cool as it’d be to find out I’m not going to try. The 203k also doesn’t include any editing or rewriting I did on Embermyst either.

That’s still a lot of words though.

Re-edit Rivers of Black
This had been one of my “dammit do it already” goals for 2016. I’ve been meaning to re-edit this story for quite some time because I believe it will get some better reads on Wattpad if I clean it up more. (I wrote it years ago at this point.) However, this was one of the goals I failed to get to. I started to get ready for it, I got everything I wanted organized to begin editing it. I just never actually started on it.

Fingers crossed this is something I can actually get to in 2017. (Someone better nag at me to do this.)

Complete 2015 Camping Journal Entries
This goal really should have been completed in 2015 after every single trip I had, as I did the year before. Obviously that didn’t happen in 2015 if it was a goal for this year, and I still haven’t learned my lesson on that one for this past season either, but I did get them done. Almost on the same time frame I had hoped to have them done too: one a week until they were completed. I think I finished about a week late on them but that’s pretty damn good for me that I stuck to it!

Hooray for that accomplishment at least, but I still need to learn my lesson on those entries, because, um, yeah, I did it again this year. Guess who still has all six entries of this year’s season to still write? I’m an idiot.

Obtain My Driver’s License
Yeah… About this one…

This goal had been one of my big, big ones. I’ve only been putting it off and putting it off — for multiple reasons — for a few years now.

To my credit, I got half way to this goal. I did manage to get my permit by the deadline I set myself, which was back in March. However, I’ve only been out to drive less than ten times and haven’t been out in probably five months. Part of that is because I hardly see my dad, who is the only person I trust enough and am comfortable with to teach me to drive; and part of that is simply because the idea of driving on the road still scares the living shit out of me.

Okay, let me rephrase that: it’s not the driving on the road that scares me. It’s the driving with other cars around that scares me. Last night, coming home from work at 3am when the roads were empty I would have been perfectly fine to ask my dad if I could try driving home, even though it was snowing lightly. In fact, he almost thought about asking me that, and if he had I’m 99% sure I would have said yes. But if you ask me to drive on the road during the day… I freeze up.

Sadly, the year limit on my permit will be up in a couple months and I’ll have to go through this whole process again because I know I will not have my license by then. Not when I’ve begun seeing my dad even less than the beginning of this year. Who says next year is going to be any different either with our jobs?

Start Horseback Riding Again
At the beginning of the year, I had really missed riding and had wanted desperately to go back. After talking with a couple friends, I was encouraged to pursue it again because it could have been that one thing that helped me get through each week in a life I was beginning to deem miserable for eternity.

Well, a few months ago I finally took that step and went back to riding at the academy I used to attend. However… While it started out great and I was beginning to gain the confidence I lost three years ago due to my fall, riding rapidly began to lose its charm.

The horse I normally rode switched to a different one that I enjoyed at first but then began to get frustrated with because I was spending more time trying to slow him down from running into the rider in front of me (I ride in a group of three or four per lesson) than I was having fun. I also tended to work every morning before riding and by the time I was getting home I’d have to change and leave. It became exhausting, it became more of a chore than something I enjoyed doing and looked forward to.

Now I haven’t ridden in probably a month and a half between the lesson itself being cancelled or me deciding not to go because I’m exhausted or have had too much to do. I’m to the point now that I’m honestly thinking of dropping the lessons once more, because it really isn’t doing what it used to for me. Perhaps it would be less of a chore if I could get those days totally off work, or if I could get a different horse again, but riding a different horse isn’t up to me, and I had enough trouble the first month or so with my boss screwing my schedule up. I can only imagine how much it’d be screwed again if I asked for Wednesday’s off completely now.

So I accomplished the goal, I went back, but I’m on the verge of giving it up again.

Organize Closet
This was one of my major goals of 2016. At the beginning of the year I didn’t actually believe I would accomplish it. I surprised myself though.

Not only did I organize and clean out my closet, I organized and cleaned out my entire room. I even held a yard sale to try to get rid of the stuff I no longer wanted. To my dismay the yard sale hardly panned out and wasn’t worth half the stress and sleepless nights I put on myself over this goal. Even now I’m still sitting on half the stuff I couldn’t sell because I have had no time to go through it and do something with it since then.

The intent of this goal was so I could finally start to reclaim my room as my own after about four years. Needless to say, it hasn’t really worked out. The only way it’s going to work out is if the spare room is cleaned out as well. Which shouldn’t be a problem since I just did one room, right? Wrong. Not when half the stuff in there is your lazy mother’s who can’t hold a single penny to her word and who is pretty much useless and disrupting if I were to do it anyways.

So while I managed to accomplish the goal of cleaning my closet and room out, it left a mess of things I still have to find a way to work with. I need to get onto either a Facebook group or Craigslist to try to sell the rest of the stuff, and start either donating what I can or throwing the other stuff out.

Finish Fated to Darkness
This… This was my most major of goals for 2016. The one that if I would have completed it I wouldn’t have cared if I accomplished nothing else all year.

Now, this goal included finishing the first draft of the novel and working out the concordance so when I began to edit next year in theory I wouldn’t be so lost. So there was a lot of work involved in this goal.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get all that work done.

To my credit, I nearly accomplished half of that work. The first draft is about six chapters away from being completed after writing feverishly on it for every NaNoWriMo month there was this year, as well as in between at times. I put in over 150k to this story this year, and no, I’m not going to tell you how long it actually is. (I’m hoping editing takes it down in word count a little, the length is even starting to worry me.)

It’s been quite a ride with it this year. Some chapters I stared at my screen slack-jawed in shock with what I just wrote. One in particular I did. Others I wanted to tear my hair out. I got stuck a few times and other times I was on fire, but now I really do see the light at the end of the tunnel after almost two years of working on this novel.

I’m oh so close to the end of the first draft.

And while I wish I could have made it — I probably could have finished it this month if not for work madness — I’m proud of how far I came in it. It’s got a long way to go, and I would be much further if every other month was a NaNo month, but I’m proud of how it — and my writing style — have grown over this year.

Not only that, but I can also proudly say while I didn’t finish this goal, I did accomplish something else completely unexpected and huge:

My debut publication with Victory Tales Press for my story Embermyst in their Halloween anthology, Paranormal Pleasures.

This publication quite honestly made up for not finishing Fated to Darkness. It’s a foot in the door on a dream I hold, it’s the beginning of making a name for myself, and it’s also credibility for when I try to publish my series. So it was huge. Beyond huge even.

END OF GOALS

Overall, I think I came out about fifty-fifty on my goals. That’s better than I thought I would do, and probably better than any year before too. So I’ll take that as not so bad. Other than my publication I finally passed 100 followers on my Wattpad account, and I even passed 100 WordPress followers here. I call those two things accomplishments as well.

Looking back I think the way I laid out my goals and organized them worked fairly well. It could maybe use a little tweaking for how I do next year’s goals, and I also need to set up my calendar and planner for next year, but I think it’s going to be something I try again. Of course, that would work out even better if I knew what next year’s goals were yet. Because I don’t have a list of them yet, maybe a vague idea, but not a list of them.

That’s the next thing to tackle tonight and tomorrow. Well, that and organizing Christmas gifts I got, as well as setting up my Sunday Snippet posts for January. I think I need to just start with making a list of everything I want to do and go from there.

Hopefully by Tuesday’s post I’ll have an idea on my goals and how I’m laying them out. See ya in 2017, folks. Happy Freaking New Year a day early. Let’s hope this next one doesn’t suck as much.

POV? More Like Points Of Vexation

Warning: A rant may occur ahead. Read at your own risk for rambling frustration and perhaps spurts of crazy laughable moments.

So on Sunday I got my MS back for another set of edits that mainly involved POV changes and few other minor fixes that were more so agree or disagree to this word take out or this word change, or a few about explaining the reasoning for this happening a bit more. Since I shockingly had Monday off, that was when I dove into blog hopping and sorting out this fourth round edit. (Which is more like edit seven for me at this rate.)

It was all relatively easy edits except for the POV changes, particularly, one section of about six to seven paragraphs of POV changes that I about wanted to rip my hair out with. Correction, I did want to rip my hair out. As well as scream, hit something, throw my computer out a window, and cry.

Thankfully only one of those things happened, and no I’m not saying which.

The problem with this little bastard of a section was it had a couple quick POV changes, and it was only ten pages into the MS. In my head that’s no big deal, you can still understand it, what does it matter if I switch POV? That’s how I write for moon’s sake! But I guess the reviewers are a bunch of critics and don’t like it. Jerks.

So, I was given suggestions for changing a few paragraphs to the other character’s POV.

Now here’s where the hair pulling began. Two of the paragraphs I had in that section I did not want to change. If I changed the one paragraph it was going to turn a matter of fact into an assumption of the other character and I did not at all like that. But if I changed it to stay in the POV that would keep the fact, I screwed up another paragraph of mysterious questions I was not going to cut.

What the hell route could I really go then?

No matter what changes I tried to fit the suggestions, I hated what I was coming up with. I hated the way it sounded, and I hated what it took away from the story. I felt like it was changing my voice and I loathed it. I felt like I was destroying my writing, my voice and style, and I couldn’t make myself do it.

I spent over an hour of frustration, lots of swear words, ranting, asking help from friends for suggestions and support, and the verge of some unpleasant mental break due to stress, doubt, and anger before I finally said — pardon me a moment — fuck it.

I moved on.

I was getting nowhere fast and I just couldn’t keep trying or I would blow a gasket and a half in doing so. So I skipped ahead past that bitch of a section and kept plugging along, hoping later on a friend could help me untangle the mess into something that I still felt was my voice and style but would satisfy my coordinator.

Well, roughly ten pages or so after that, as I hit another POV change, I suddenly hit an epiphany. Staring me in the face was a sentence in the POV I needed in which I could cut and paste part of the problem section with the mysterious questions to that later page and it would fix all my problems. It even worked better by moving it ten pages later or so in the story, it made more sense there.

With renewed hope and glee, I finally went back to that problem section and did just that, then worked out the rest of the section to stay in the POV I wanted so I would not lose the matter of fact I wanted.

And what do ya know, it worked out in a way that I was happy with. I could live with that change in print and not feel like I lost my voice or style. Now I just have to pray my coordinator is alright with the change I induced instead of her suggestions to making it the other character’s POV. It fixed the problem, so I really don’t see why she wouldn’t allow it.

After that I just kept chugging along through the edits, and about seven hours later, I finally finished. My brain hurts.

Considering I did it all in one go — thanks to the fact I knew today and Wednesday would be shot to hell for me in being very productive due to work and riding and I didn’t want to run out of time — I’m deciding not to send it back just yet. I think I’m going to wait until Wednesday night when I can sit back down and give it another read through to make sure I coherently edited for seven hours straight with very minimal breaks, and then I’ll send it back and pray I don’t have to do this again.

But at least I got it done, and at least I figured out the problem section.

Seriously though, what is so wrong with POV changes in the same chapters? If it’s clear and coherent who’s thoughts and actions are who’s, why the goddamn hell does it matter?

That’s how I write. That’s my style. Writing in a double POV like that is how I’m writing my novel, and I am not going to change that. To me that is more in depth and more connecting by knowing both character’s thoughts and actions. It gives you such a greater image and understanding. Yes, I see where sometimes it isn’t appropriate. And yes, I know it’s supposed to stay one POV per chapter.

I’m not saying I’m opposed to learning to write better and clearer, I just want to know what the hell is wrong with POV changes like that? If that is how I write, then why should it matter as long as they are clear?

To hell with the critics and reviewers I say. (I apologize if anyone reading this is one, you may have your opinion, this is just mine.) I’m unconventional in writing and I know it, but I’m not changing that completely when that is me. When that is my style and my voice.

Writing is art, and art is about being expressive and making it for yourself. I will never change that in my style no matter what some editors or reviewers might say. Who knows? Maybe that style will be what makes me best selling one day because it is unique.

(A girl can hope at least.)

Goal Crunching

Another weekend has come and gone, and with it comes the end of August. Where has the time gone? Didn’t August just start?

With the end of August also comes the deadline of all the goals I had for August, and, er, well…

*Clears throat, looks off innocently*

Can I skip talking about that? Let’s just say I did horrible.

In truth, not one of my goals was accomplished. *Sigh* I know I still have two days left to August but none of it is going to get done more than likely. I mean, unless I can write 15k in Fated to Darkness, two sets of notes for journaling, and five entries for that journaling in two days time, it ain’t getting done. In fact, it’s more like one day because my Wednesday is shot to hell between work and riding until about 8 o’clock at night.

What fun! Not!

I actually could get the notes done in time, and probably should before I forget any more of them.

I guess it’s not too bad that I didn’t get any of those goals done, though. I mean, I did write an almost 10k word short story, and submitted it for a chance to be published, and I am getting published. I did write it and edit it in the span of 12 days, and then had to putz around editing it once more when I got it back for a look over.

(Which I just finished that yesterday and sent it back so we’ll see what suggestions, if any, come back to me this time.)

So it wasn’t like I wasted the whole month. I was busy. Work drained me a couple weeks, I worked my ass off writing this story and submitting it. I did do about 5k worth of words on Fated to Darkness before I got sidetracked on the submission.

I did write then. I did do something in the world of a writer. It just wasn’t the goals I was supposed to be doing.

Go figure.

Not to mention right now I’m a week behind on blog hops thanks to work and a lot of other stress… Yeah, that’ll be my later today goal, plus some writing and whatever else needs done, like scheduling Sunday Snippet posts for September. My villain and hero of FtD are feeling quite neglected, too. Yet I’m still struggling a bit to get back into them, I’m managing a few hundred words at a time, that’s it.

So now that August is coming to a close, what are my goals going to be for September? Well… Maybe I’ll save that in depth topic for Friday’s post. (Mainly because I’m not quite sure on them just yet.)