Skip to content

Posts tagged ‘creative writing’

Goals for 2016

Goal Pic


I started and stopped this post a couple of times. I tried to think of something clever and different to challenge myself this year. But the truth is that there is only one simple goal I have for 2016.

Write More.

I had four goals for 2015:
1) Complete 2 pieces a month
2) Write one long piece
3) One Year One Hundred Rejection Challenge
4) Design an E-book (cover and text)

Those first 2 I failed. I didn’t write nearly as much as I wanted too. The first half of the year I was working on my degree. Then I took a break. Then I worked on the longer story. I did complete a few stories, but no where near the 24. And my longer story? Still unfinished. I found myself running out of interest in the plot and not sure what comes next.

I don’t outline my stories, but I’m not a shoot in the dark writer either. I have a vague sense of where the story is going. But with this novella… I just lost the thread. As I’ve said before – It’s been a long time since I wrote a long story (say over 10k). Over ten years…maybe I am out of practice. Not writing, but trusting the process. Trusting myself as a storyteller.

Currently, I have 3 unfinished short stories, 1 unfinished novella, and 1 beginning of what I think is a novel. Lots of stuff started, not much done.

So my BIG goal for 2016 is very simple. Finish everything I start. I hope to have @500k in new words this year. (Yep, that’s right.)

Other goals:
1) Read at least 5 translated books. My reading habits need to expand, so reading outside of the native English speakers is good.
2) Read 50 books this year.
3) Go to 2 conferences this year. Either literary or something else. I want to keep learning.
4) Devote one day a week to the business of publishing.

I know I need to work on balance. I think devoting one day a week to working on my business (and you’d better believe it’s a business) will help keep me writing and submitting. Won’t be perfect. I may need to change and adapt as the months go on, but I adjusting to this new life out of school. Time to try new methods and fine what works best for me.

I’ve read a few blogs in the past few weeks with the same sentiments. It seems like a lot of writers are looking to write more and get back to their craft. I’m with them. I never want to lose sight of my devotion to storytelling. That needs to come first.

Here’s to 2016! And to all my fellow writers – I hope your year finds you working on your best work yet.

Oh, and about 2015 goal #4… Here’s a sneak peek:

Shhh... secret pic here...

Shhh… secret pic here…

But we’ll talk about that later…

Update End of November 2015

November was a big, busy month. I hope everyone had a good holiday (if you’re in the USA, of course). And I hope everyone hit their #NaNoMo goals. I tried one time a few years ago and realized it was just not for me. I like setting my own pace and I mostly write short stories. I do like to cheer people on though. Everyone should at least try creative writing.

Good for the soul, I think.

I can’t believe I’m almost at the end of the year. I don’t think too many rejections are going to come in so these numbers may not change. Still it’s been a good year. Here’s where things stand:

Rejections: 35
Submissions: 6

One market will open on Dec. 1, so I will be sending a story there, but other than that, I have no other plans to submit. I’ll keep an eye out for other places, but for now I should focus on other projects like my novella.

I still work a day job and finishing this novella is my number one priority. I really don’t know how close I am to finishing. I took a break a few weeks back and now getting back to it feels like a new book. I’m resisting the urge to go back a rewrite the beginning. I need to finish, then I can change whatever I want.

Also this week there will be series of blog posts from other Dear Robot contributors. Check my Twitter Feed for other stories. I’m going to retweet all I see. The blog posts are designed to tell what inspired the story in the anthology. So check back here on Friday for my behind the scenes story of “#iamhuman”. For anyone who ever wondered where I get my story ideas, this will be a nice peek into my story brain. (This is different from my everyday brain, which tends to be practical and sensible.)

To read the editor’s story please go here. Also there is a Goodreads giveaway until Dec. 10th, so be sure to check out Kelly’s post for info.
See you again on Friday. Happy December and Happy Writing!


Books that Inspire Me #2

Borderlands Books 005

I found the first book in this anthology series in the UNM bookstore. Perusing the general fiction shelf, I saw it sitting in the corner. The cover was so black, I couldn’t make out the title. But when I turned it over and read the back blurb, it hooked me.

No ghosts. No maniacal slashers. Nothing that goes bump in the night. Borderlands is a horror anthology series not concerned with traditional elements of horror fiction. Borderlands is about breaking the mold and pushing the genre and its finest writers to the edge. Hailed as the anthology series of the 90’s, Borderlands will remind you that horror can indeed be horrific. Discover a vampire of an altogether different sort… a man who sows the seeds of his doom in his lawn… a dutiful son whose last duty is his parent’s murder… and more.”

I spent a good part of my teenage years reading Stephen King and Anne Rice, but I wasn’t really familiar with the complete horror world. This was in the 90’s before the internet and you had to go the the bookstore to find a new author. The small bookstores in my area barely had a horror section. I tended to pick up whatever looked interesting or, if the person was famous, whatever seemed to be their latest tale.

This anthology opened me up to a whole new world of authors. Although the first one came out in 1991, I didn’t find it until that day in Albuquerque in 1998. It was the only copy on the shelf and I consider it a blessing that I found it.

That semester, Spring 1998, was a real turning point in my writing career. The previous semester, I had my first creative writing class… and it was a disaster. The professor acted more interested in writing his own work rather than teach us anything. I left that class dejected and thinking that I had no business being a writer. For the first time in my life I wanted to quit. I jetted off to New Mexico (I studied in Maryland for most of my degree.) on an exchange program and figured I would just enjoy my experience and not worry about writing. After all, I wasn’t a writer anymore.

In New Mexico, I took another creative writing class (It was too much of a hassle to drop the class.) and it opened my eyes. This was a real class, with assignments and homework and a professor who worked with the students. She was so kind and thoughtful that to this day, I think she pulled me back from the edge. Finding Borderlands became another stepping stone in my growth as a writer.

For the first time I read works by Harlan Ellison, Bentley Little, Elizabeth Massie, Poppey Z. Brite, etc. This anthology showed me what the horror genre could become. What a story could become. The stories weren’t scary, they were horrific in the old fashioned sense of the world. What truly horrifies us? A run of the mill serial killer? Or maybe a lady who buys a purse made of human skin and likes it? (That’s in volume 2.) None of these stories scared me, but they stuck with me. Even today, I think about some of them, turning them over in my mind at odd moments.

Borderlands Books 003

After I read the first book, I toted it back with me to Maryland. A few years later in 2000, I was living in Virginia and found Book 2 in a dusty corner of Borders (remember them?). A couple years later, I ordered Book 3 and 4 off the internet. As I said above, the first four came out in the early 90’s, but the last edition, From the Borderlands, came out in 2005. Unfortunately, I think most of them are out of print. But if you can get your hands on one or all of them, I would snatch them up. They have sat on my bookshelf for years and I do reread some of the stories from time to time. Answering the Call by Brian James Freeman (Book 5) is one of my favorite short stories of all time.

Borderlands Books 001

Once a year, I go over to Borderlands Press website to see if there are any forthcoming. Sadly, there haven’t been any more. Maybe one day, they will put together another collection. Still, I am happy there were these five. They made a difference in my writing life and I am grateful.