My 2018 in review

HAPPY NEW YEAR! (Well, it is here — though maybe not there, where you are. And if it isn’t, why are you reading this right now? Bookmark it and come back to it later!)

Like 2017, 2018 wasn’t a stellar year for me on the writing front. Or at least, that’s how I feel when I think about it — but I’m measuring that purely against the number of words I’ve written on my current novel manuscript. I’m maybe a third of the way through, and have been for a month or more. Everything has kind of … ground to a halt.

Still, one of my two resolutions for 2018 was not to be so hard on myself when I fail to meet my goals, so — in that spirit — I’m going to go over my accomplishments for the year. There have been a few firsts in there, which is actually kind of exciting when I think about it.

I released two new books: Guardian Angel and Rheia

Guardian Angel is a novella, and it’s maybe a quarter of the length of Rheia, so the grumpy cynic in me says it’s cheating, but she can go sit in the corner and sulk. Aside from anything else, urban fantasy is my jam and my comfort place, and working on Guardian Angel really helped me when I got stuck on other projects.

On the subject of Rheia, I love this book and am very proud of it. A friend told me she thought it was my best book yet, and I quietly agree with her (even as this fills me with terror regarding the next book, ahahahahasob). If you haven’t already grabbed a copy and you love the ancient world, creeping doom and/or steampunk, then may I urge you to check it out? 😉

(Actually, I technically released three books, as I also released an erotica novella, Kiss of the Succubus, under my Tammy Calder pen name. If you’re an adult and not related to me in any way, you can learn more about it here.)

I had a story published in the A Hand of Knaves anthology

Being a part of a multi-author anthology is something I’d always wanted to do, so it’s super awesome to be able to cross that off my bucket list. This one was published by the Canberra Speculative Fiction Guild, and working with the editors — Leife Shallcross and Chris Large — was a joy. 10/10, would do again.

I was part of the Shadows and Spellcraft book bundle

Again, this is something that had been on my bucket list. This urban fantasy book bundle has fifteen ebook novels and novellas, including Isla’s Inheritance — and it’s around US$4 for all of that, which is great value. And, again, working with this wonderful team of authors was both inspiring and educational. Seriously, I learned a lot.

I went out into the world and did author-y things

Okay, that’s not the best summary in the world, but bear with me. I went to the A Hand of Knaves book launch — a real-world launch, not the online ones I favour — and met new people and signed stuff. I also had a signing at BookFace here in Canberra, and signed even more stuff (mainly copies of Rheia). Given I never organised face-to-face promotional events because the awkwardness it inspires in me isn’t great, this was a pretty big deal for me.

See? Photographic proof! (Also, check out my low-key signing pen.)

A resolution round-up

At the start of 2018, I made two resolutions (one of which I’ve already mentioned):

  • Do better.
  • Forgive myself at times I don’t do better.

Comparing 2018 to 2017, I can definitely check the first one off the list. The second one … eh, it’s a work in progress.

This year, I want to finish the sci-fi draft that I’ve been wrestling with for the last few months. I’ve also got another idea that I plan to work on — stay tuned for more as the year progresses. Beyond that, my resolutions are the same as for 2018.

Do you do new year’s resolutions? Tell me in the comments below!

Advertisements

My 2017 in review

This is the first time I’ve sat down to write one of these year in review posts where I’ve felt like my successes have been qualified. Where I haven’t felt as proud of myself as in previous years.

On writing

The Lucid Dreaming duology, as endorsed by (my) Lara Croft (PopVinyl)

I finished writing, edited and self-published False Awakening, the second book in the Lucid Dreaming duology. But, since then, I haven’t managed to start my next novel, and my promo efforts have been lackluster at best.

I have done other things; I wrote and submitted a short story for an anthology (which I’m still waiting to hear back about), and this month I’ve been working on a novella I originally wrote more than ten years ago. But I had this huge period in the middle of the year where it felt like I didn’t achieve much of anything.

A lot of that was due to real-life pressures. My work has been short-staffed all year, and insanely busy since May. I edit for a living, as I’ve said before, and the idea of coming home and sitting in front of a PC after sitting in front of a PC all day was just too exhausting. As a result, I’ve fallen out of the habit of writing. Blog posts and reviews, sure, but books? Not so much.

I’ve been working on that over the last couple of months, though not with a novel (yet). Still, I will definitely have a couple of releases for you this year. Woohoo!

On reading

This is the first year since I started doing the Goodreads and Australian Women Writers challenges that I haven’t quite met me goals. For the Goodreads one, I set a goal of 40 and read 31. And for the Australian Women Writers challenge, I set a goal of 15 and read 11. At least I got close in both, right? (Right?)

A lot of the blame here goes to Brandon Sanderson’s Stormlight Archive. When I set my Goodreads goal, I didn’t anticipate discovering (and adoring) this series, and each of these books is over 1000 pages. That’s three regular novels for one Stormlight one. I’m currently listening to the audiobook of the third one in the series, and the download is available in five parts. FIVE. If I hadn’t been reading them, I would have nailed my goal, for sure! 😉

Goodreads produced a handy summary, an extract of which is below. If you’re desperate to stalk my reading (and why wouldn’t you be?!), you can find the rest of the blog post here.

My 2017 reads

My resolutions

In light of all this, my writing resolutions for 2018 are very straightforward:

  • Do better.
  • Forgive myself at times I don’t do better.

I figure that’s pretty comprehensive!

What about you? How did you do with your reading (and, if applicable, writing) in 2017? Tell me your triumphs, or commiserate with me on your woes. ❤


Wrap-up for 2015

As I said in my Christmas post, 2015 has been a crazy year for me. It started off with a bang, with Isla’s Oath being released in January. In April, Melpomene’s Daughter came out.

However, for both books, only the ebook version was released — and, in October, just as I was gearing up to self-publish Lucid Dreaming, I got the word that Turquoise Morning Press was closing. The bright side is that I got the rights to the trilogy back straight away, as well as permission to use the original covers if I wished. I ended up deciding to commission new covers, and so the scramble to re-release them commenced.

I couldn’t have done it without Kim from KILA Designs; as well as being my designer and friend, she also patiently explained the parts of self-publishing a book that I hadn’t even considered to that point.

The upshot is that, in 2015, I had five release days for three books. Is it any wonder I’m spending my new year’s eve in my pyjamas and a T-shirt (a black one that says “The book was better”)? I’m too knackered to contemplate anything else!

I achieved most of my
reading and writing resolutions…

but not all.

As I mentioned yesterday, I only read 9 out of 12 of the books in my Aussie Readers challenge. And, although I did indeed release Isla’s Oath, Melpomene’s Daughter and Lucid Dreaming, and I did finish writing my fantasy novel, I didn’t manage to write another Tammy Calder novella. I’ll have to save that one for next year.

I also set myself a goal of blogging at least twice a week, but I don’t know that I always achieved that. (Trivia: according to the WordPress stats monkeys, my most popular post in 2015 was my review of Eleven Weeks by Lauren K. McKellar.)

I haven’t done up a list of 2016 resolutions yet. I know I’m supposed to do it before the year kicks over, but at the moment I can’t think past “don’t release three books five times”!

I read one book a week…

That wasn’t deliberate; it just worked out that way. For the last two years, my Goodreads challenge number has been 40 books + however many kids books I read/listen to with my son (excluding picture books, which I don’t bother recording). This year, that worked out to 50 books. I overachieved a little.

Of these:

  • 87% were by women writers (or, in the case of Three Slices and Illuminae, had at least one female writer)
  • 75% were speculative fiction of one stripe or another (including the children’s books)
  • 31% were by Australian authors (or, in the case of Losing It, had at least one Aussie author)
  • 25% were by Kim Harrison (I gobbled the entire Hollows series this year)
  • 12% were by Cressida Cowell (the boy and I went on a How to Train Your Dragon kick earlier in the year — did you know the audiobooks are narrated by David Tennant?)
  • 4% were non-fiction

Goodreads2015

So there you have it!

This year has been busy, but I got by with a little (or a lot of) help from my friends. And also my family, and you guys — my lovely readers. I hope your 2016 is filled with love, hugs, laughter and, above all, books.

See you next year!


New year’s resolutions: 2015 edition

toptentuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a bookish meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, and it is loads of fun. You should all partake of it. PARTAKE! (Please imagine I said that in my best Dalek voice.) This week’s theme is: “Top Ten Goals/Resolutions For 2015 — bookish, blogging or otherwise!”

I’ve discovered over the last two years that blogging about my goals is a really great way to hold myself accountable, and make sure I actually do the things I set out to do.

2014 recap

Celebrate the launch of Isla’s Inheritance in October (or thereabouts). Convince as many of you as possible to buy it. Check. Sort of. I dunno if I’ve convinced as many of you as possible. I mean, I haven’t paid people with kittens or threatened dire consequences if people don’t. But people
have readIsla's Inheritance button it, and left nice reviews around the place. So I’m pretty happy about that.

Finish writing and editing the third book in Isla’s trilogy, so it’s ready to go to Turquoise Morning Press when they ask for it. Check. Right now, I’m actually halfway through re-reading it after the second-round edits from TMP. I really love this story, you guys. I know we’re not meant to have favourites among our children, but of the Isla’s Inheritance trilogy, the third book in the series, Melpomene’s Daughter, is definitely my favourite. Shh!

Find a home for Lucid Dreaming, whether that be via the agent/traditional press route or the small press route. This is the one resolution I have’t yet been successful on, for reasons that would require another blog post. But I have a plan of action. Hopefully I’ll be able to share something with you around the middle of next year. (By the way, there’s a lesson in this for everyone: don’t set goals that are outside your control. You can’t make people offer on your manuscripts, and sometimes people love them but don’t offer on them anyway, for market reasons or list reasons or whatever. Publishing is a tricky thing.)

Start writing something else. Possibly a sequel to Lucid Dreaming, although there’s that steampunk I’ve been thinking about for aaaages. I’m currently 18,000 words into the aforementioned steampunk, although the steampunk elements are actually pretty light. A year later, I describe it as historical fantasy. 🙂 I also self-published a novella under another pen name, Tammy Calder. It’s 8500 words long.

That means in 2014 I wrote…a lot of words. Probably in the order of 70,000, counting Melpomene’s Daughter, although I didn’t track it. And that doesn’t count blog posts and reviews. Whew. Chuck Wendig estimated he wrote 750,000 words this year, but we can’t all be Chuck, I guess! (I can’t even grow a beard.)

Read. I’ll set my Goodreads target to 40 again, see how it goes. Kicked this one out of the ballpark.

2015 goals

Reading goals

Aussie author challengeRead lots of books. I’ve set my Goodreads target to 40 again, with the caveat that childrens books and novellas don’t count. If I read 10 of those, I need to read 50 titles overall. Otherwise I have to wear the cone of shame.

Read a variety of Australian books. I’m also doing the Aussie Readers challenge over at Goodreads. For that, I need to read 12 books by Australian writers in 12 different genres. I’ll post my choices in a blog post in the new year. I’m looking forward to it — it’s a very exciting list!

aww-badge-2015Read books by Australian women. I’m also going to do the Australian Women Writers challenge again in 2015. There’s a lot of overlap between this list and number two, I confess — currently my Aussie readers challenge list only includes one bloke. Still, since this year I read and reviewed 11 books by Australian women, my plan for 2015 is to set my own goal of 15. I think I can do it, and it means this challenge is pushing me further than the previous one. Otherwise, what’s the point?

Writing and publishing goals

Release Isla’s Oath and Melpomene’s Daughter on time, with as much fanfare as I can manage. The former is scheduled for release on 20 January, and the latter for the week of 20 April (I don’t have an exact date). SO EXITE! Isla’s Oath is already available for preorder aButton_Isla's Oathnd is on NetGalley, but I still have some promo stuff to finish off. And as I mentioned, Melpomene’s Daughter is still in the editing process. Busy busy busy.

Finish my historical fantasy. The four other novels (and even the novella) I’ve written have been urban fantasy, and the novels have all been in the first person. Switching to historical fantasy and the third person has required a massive change of gears. But I’ve wanted to tell this story for three years now, and the thrill of actually seeing it come to life is pretty high. Sure, there are growing pains, but that’s to be expected. And fixing it afterwards is what edits are for!

Give Lucid Dreaming the attention it deserves. I love this book, you guys. At least as much as Melpomene’s Daughter. I’ve neglected it a bit this year — having three books scheduled for release over the space of seven months does tend to eat up your time — but 2015 will be its year. I promise. *pats manuscript reassuringly*

Write another novella for Tammy Calder. Enough said about that. 😉

Blog at least twice a week. This will require some planning, since I’m going away to the coast with my son and some friends for a week at the end of January (a few days after Isla’s Oath comes out — oops), but I can do it. I don’t need to sleep, right?

What are your goals for this year, reading, writing or otherwise?


New year’s resolutions: 2014 edition

I did alright with my 2013 resolutions. They were all successes except for the “get more exercise” one — because in the course of attempting that, I tore my Achilles tendon at the gym in May. As it turns out they take FOREVER to heal. Curses!

Anyway, here are my resolutions for 2014. You could just as equally call this post “writing goals” because that’s what they are.

1. Celebrate the launch of Isla’s Inheritance in October (or thereabouts). Convince as many of you as possible to buy it.

2. Finish writing and editing the third book in Isla’s trilogy, so it’s ready to go to Turquoise Morning Press when they ask for it. (My goal is to write a minimum of 2000 words a week. I know that may not seem like much, but I’m time poor. This is why I write so slowly.)

3. Find a home for Lucid Dreaming, whether that be via the agent/traditional press route or the small press route.

4. Start writing something else. Possibly a sequel to Lucid Dreaming, although there’s that Steampunk I’ve been thinking about for aaaages.

5. Read. I’ll set my Goodreads target to 40 again, see how it goes.

What about you? Do you do the resolution thing? Or, even if you don’t, do you have 2014 goals?


New year’s resolution update: partial success

There are four months (plus change) left in the year, and I decided it was time to review how I was going on my new year’s resolutions:

1. By the end of the year, I will have either found an agent or publisher, or will look at indie publishing routes for Isla’s Inheritance and its sequel.

Check! *dances*

2. I will finish writing another novel. (I’d aim for two but, let’s be honest, I don’t have that much spare time!)

Check! *dances turn into Kermit flails*

3. I will edit my second book and see if I can find some beta readers for it, so it’s ready to go.

Now I’m done drafting Melaina, a full edit of Isla’s Oath is next on my to-do list. I should be done by the end of the year, barring fire or flood. (Please no fire or flood. I’ve had enough disasters for a while!)

4. I will stop being a cagey, secretive writer with people I know personally. I may be a wannabe published author but, with two novels completed, I can probably say I’m a writer, at least. :p

I ticked this one off back in January. Time to stop being so afraid to say what my hobby is. (I was scared of looking pretentious, like one of those people that says they’re a writer but never seems to write. Even though I was writing. I know it doesn’t make sense, but since when does logic enter into anything?)

5. I will get more exercise. I will use the gym at work: it’s free and I really have no excuse.

I was doing well with this until I tore my Achilles tendon. It’s getting better, though, so it’s definitely time to get back on the horse. Treadmill. Thing.

Did you make any new year’s resolutions? How are they going?


My new year’s resolutions…

I don’t usually do these things. Resolutions, I mean. But I’ve decided this year that I will – so here, blogosphere, are my declarations of intent for 2013:

1. By the end of the year, I will have either found an agent or publisher, or will look at indie publishing routes for Isla’s Inheritance and its sequel.

2. I will finish writing another novel. (I’d aim for two but, let’s be honest, I don’t have that much spare time!)

3. I will edit my second book and see if I can find some beta readers for it, so it’s ready to go.

4. I will stop being a cagey, secretive writer with people I know personally. I may be a wannabe published author but, with two novels completed, I can probably say I’m a writer, at least. :p

5. I will get more exercise. I will use the gym at work: it’s free and I really have no excuse.

Do you do the new year’s resolution thing? If so, what are yours?

Edit: Number four: check! I outed myself on Facebook to all and sundry today. Now if only the others come so easily. 😉