The Posting Schedule

Hey all! Mark and Shannon here. We’re going to talk a little bit about what’ll be happening with the blog this coming year, including our goals and we want to give you some idea of what we’ll be posting when.

We’re planning to kick it into gear this year with a minimum of three posts, two of which will be reviews, every week! It should be fun. It’s a lot more than either of us have done for a sustained amount of time before, so yes, we’re a little bit nervous about things. Yes, we know the plan is a bit ambitious. But we think we can stick to it, and we’re happy that you’re along for the ride.

Our weekly schedule will hopefully look something like this: One review on Tuesday, one “other” post on Thursday, and another review on Saturday. At least one of the reviews each week will be a book review, but we can’t promise that they both will be. As you may have already noticed, I (Shannon) have been reviewing some comic books, and I’m hoping to branch into visual novels as well.

We may also start doing movie reviews, as I (Mark) don’t know if I’ll be able to read a new book every week this year, and have definitely been watching a lot more movies lately than I used to. (I saw Rogue One, Rogue One, Snowden, Collateral Beauty, Dr. Strange, Arrival, Fantastic Beasts, The Secret Life of Pets, Moana, and Independence Day all in the last two months or so.)

We’re not currently receiving any review copies other than ones we happen to get by luck, but we’re hoping to change that eventually, once we have this whole schedule thing down a little bit more. We’ve signed up for a Netgalley account, which I (Shannon) will likely be making the most use of. I (Mark) am not much of an e-book person, so I’m hoping I can pursue physical review copies a bit more.

The “other” posts will be in a wide variety of areas, though we’ll try to keep most of them related to the blog, reading/reviewing, and us. We have a lot of convention reports coming up, including Mark’s report from WorldCon last year, Shannon (and possibly Mark)’s report on ICFA this year, Mark’s JordanCon report, and perhaps we will throw in a report or two on any signings that we go to that end up being particularly fun. I (Mark) reserve the right to write random Sanderson posts when I want to, too.

We look forward to seeing everyone in the comments section in the new year!

2017 Resolutions

1. Write and Submit.

What I want: I want to be a writer. I don’t need to make a living out of it—and I’m honestly not sure I could handle the stress (and lack of rigid schedule) that would come with doing so. But I still want to write stories, get better at it, and have a few of them published, if possible. I have a few short stories that really need to be submitted to places, and a few more that just need a revision or two before they’re ready to submit.

What I’m doing: My goal is to write 250 words/day. No increases in requirements after a month or anything, just write and be steady. Every day. I’m joining a new writing group at the beginning of the year, and I’m hoping that all of us can motivate each other to write, read, critique, and submit more, and stay on track with it.

2. Blog regularly.

What I want: A minimum of three posts per week, some ARC/release day reviews. Basically, I just want consistency. Also, this will force me to write more, and stay in the writing mood.

What I’m doing: As you’ve hopefully noticed, I’m now co-blogging with @conflictedesire, and this adds a lot of accountability. It also means that, most weeks, I don’t have to do all three posts myself. We’re aiming to split the reviews at one each, and have on of us do another “other” post on whatever seems relevant. This week, it’s this post.

3. Budget efficiently.

What I want: A regular budget that lets me know how much I can spend on things like keeping the URL for this blog (no longer at .wordpress.com), keep adding to my book collection, and have enough cards to enjoy playing Magic. I also plan to attend another few conventions in the coming year, and I’m hoping I can start saving money for the future…

What I’m doing: For starters, I’m working a full time job now. I’ve got a list of my expenses each month, and once I have a few other things settled, I’ll try to have set limits on what I spend on my hobbies each month. I’m kind of looking forward to handling all my finances, though it’s also quite terrifying.

4. Work on personal projects.

What I want: One or two personal programming projects that I keep working on and attempt to make something out of.

What I’m doing: I know what projects I want to do, and I have people to keep me accountable while working on them. One of them is a joint project with one of my best friends, and she’s going to make me stick to it. Another is more personal, but I’m excited about it, and hopefully I can use that to keep me going. We’ll see.

5. Travel a bit.

What I want: I really enjoyed going to WorldCon these past 2 years (I’ll hopefully have a 2016 WorldCon retrospective post up soon), and I’m hoping to branch out into some other cons this coming year, as well as attend another few events.

What I’m doing: I’m signed up for ICFA and JordanCon in March and April, respectively, with airfare and hotels booked. I’m looking forward to meeting a lot of new people at each of these conventions, and seeing some that I’ve met in the past. There’s also the release of Sanderson’s next Stormlight book sometime near the end of the year that I’m planning to take some time off to work at, which should get me out of the house in those later months (I’m not planning on doing WorldCon because it’s a bit too far away this coming year.). Fingers crossed that all of those work out for me.

6. Work out.

What I want: To be fit.

What I’m doing: My office has a gym in the basement, and I’ve filled out the paperwork to be able to use it. I sporadically started using the gym at my university last fall, and I hope that, now that school is over and things are hopefully more predictable/stable, I can be regular about going to the gym and working out.

7. Read regularly.

What I want: To read a lot more. 2016 was probably the worst reading year I’ve had since I learned how to read, and that’s really sad. I did do a significant amount of beta and gamma reading during the year, as well as preparatory rereads of other works so that I knew the continuity, and I didn’t really count these into my books read. They felt more like work, even though they’re books from authors whose work I absolutely LOVE, but I’m hoping to do more pleasure reading and get some new books read this next year. I also want to reduce my TBR.

What I’m doing: I have the blog to keep up with—a review every week—and that alone is some good motivation. In addition, i’m budgeting time every day to read, and hoping that, again, with a more regular work schedule, I can stick to this. I don’t want to set any hard and fast goals for the year, as I’m notoriously bad about tracking some of this stuff, but to do a review each week, I’ll say 52 books seems reasonable. I’m trying not to buy any new books unless A) I’m planning to read them immediately and B) I’ve “earned” them by net reduction of my TBR stack.

So there you have it. Those are my big goals for the year… I’ve not been the most successful about sticking to all of my goals in the past, so we’ll have to see how it goes this year. I’m optimistic, but not overly so. I hope.

Goals.

I’m going to write another post about where I am, what’s been happening lately, and where I’m going with my non-writing life pretty soon, probably in the next week. I’ll give you a teaser for it here: I move out of home in 6 days to go to school.

This post, however, is going to talk about where I’ve been, where I am, and where I want to go in my writing life. I’ve decided it’s time to assess where I am, see if I like it or not, and see where I want to be a month, a year, a decade from now.

I’m working on a new project. A friend and I are working on an online game. He’s doing most of the coding, though I’m helping with that where I can. One of my majors is computer science, and trying to struggle through the code is good practice for me. But my major role in the project is the story. Many small games just have basic stories, or even no story at all, and they’re there only for the game. I understand these games; I play a few of them. I want our game to be different. Some of the large games–RuneScape, World of Warcraft–have novels that go with them. I don’t know if I’ll get that far, but I am writing background, flavor text, and some short stories to go along with the game, so that your progression actually makes sense, and so that there’s another level for the players to enjoy, if they choose to do so, and that they can ignore if they want to. I wrote my first short story for this two days ago, and I really enjoyed it, clocking in about 3,000 words in a single day, pretty much non-stop. I ran a quick grammar revision over it, and let a few gaming friends read it. So far reception has been pretty positive. My goals here are to get the game launched in a reasonable time-frame, and to continue writing short stories and back-ground text. I would like to have several ready to go when the game launches, and a new one every month or so as the game progresses, maybe less often. I’m not sure yet.

I’m close to finishing my NaNoWriMo novel. I’m 60,000 words in, and in the middle of what I think is the ending. My immediate goal is to make it through the novel, and set it aside/send it off to a few friends for comments. I hope to do this before classes start, and it’s what I’ll be spending all of my writing time doing for the next few days.

What will I work on after that?

What are my long-term, 10-year+ goals? I want to be a published author, with books in the bookstores. (Yes, I’m optimistic that bookstores will still exist in 10 years.) That is the ultimate goal, I guess, and I want to take steps toward that goal, not away from it.

Let me take a minute and explain that goal. My true goal is to be a writer. I’ve done that already, I’ve written a novel, several short stories, and I’m almost finished with a second novel. But my drive to be a writer consists of two parts. First and foremost, I want to tell stories. I have more ideas than I have time to write, and I want to write these ideas down, get them out of my head–though this mostly seems to just make room for new ones. But I also want my stories to be read. That’s the purpose of a story, to entertain others. I read books to be entertained, and I would love for my books to be able to do the same thing. That is why I want to be published. (I’m not under any delusions that I’ll get rich from it. Not in the slightest.)

So what am I going to do? I could just keep writing novels until I feel they’re good enough (My second one is much better than my first, IMHO, and I hope this trend will continue.), and hope to get in that way. It’s one of the traditional ways, and lots of people have done it. I have considered it, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it.

But I also enjoy writing short stories, and reading some of them as well, at least of types that fit my tastes. I don’t want to write only novels. Some parts of writing, some aspects of the craft, can be practiced in short stories, and I intend to keep writing these when I feel like it. In addition, some ideas are better suited to short stories, and wouldn’t work as complete novels, and sometimes, it’s refreshing to start and finish something in a day or a week, instead of it being a months-long process.

So on my path to submitting novels and writing more of them (I’m not going to stop doing that. Period.), I’m aiming to submit and have published some short stories. I don’t have any right now that I feel are ready to submit (I really like the one I wrote for the game, but it’s for the game, not submission. There’s too much back-story and interconnectedness for that to work, even if I wanted to.). Thus, my immediate goal is to write some more short stories. Today is August 17. My goal is to have 1 done by the end of this month and being read by some writer friends for feedback. I want to have that one revised and sent off somewhere to be rejected by the end of September, and I want to have another one written by then. I want to do at least one new one per month until the end of this year (I might take November off if I decide to do NaNoWriMo), and have at least one rejection letter that I can print out and hang on my wall before the end of the year.

By the end of next year, I hope to have several short stories to shop around, and be able to collect a nice stack of rejections. My goal, my big goal for next year, is to get one acceptance, though that will probably be a low-paying, easy market. I’ll take what I can get, though I’ll always strive for the best.

I also want to write at least one more novel this year. I have three months, and I’m going strong with 1000 words per day. I can do another 50-60k on a single project, though I’ll be happy as well being 60k into a novel and it not being done, due to the fact that it ends up being longer. This is some-what vague right now, as I don’t know what I want to write next–I’m going to do brainstorming soon.

Next year, I hope to be able to revise the novel I’m working on now, once I have some distance from it, and write at least two more rough drafts, as well as several more short stories.

From there, it gets vague. Keep writing, keep submitting short stories. Hopefully in a few years, I’ll feel confident enough to start shopping a novel around, with the eventual goal of selling one. But that’s all vague.

For the rest of this year, here’s my checklist. I’ll keep you updated as I go through and hopefully hit these markers.

Finish the July novel by Wednesday, August 28, 2013.

Brainstorm and write a short story, rough draft, by September 1, 2013.

Brainstorm and write a short story, rough draft, by October 1, 2013.

Revise and etc. the short story from August by October 1, 2013.

Submit the August story to a market by October 2, 2013.

Get a rejection letter by the end of the year.

Brainstorm and write a short story, rough draft, by November 1, 2013.

Revise the September story by November 1, 2013.

Submit the September story by November 2, 2013.

Maybe brainstorm and write a short story, rough draft, by December 1, 2013.

Revise the October and November stories by the end of the year.

Write at least one more short story for the game project, and whatever else needs to be done.

Write at least 60k words on another novel by the end of the year.

All in all, this would leave me with 4 revised short stories, 1 unrevised, and hopefully at least one rejection letter under my belt, as well as 2 completed novel rough drafts and a good chunk of a third. I think that’s a pretty good goal-set for my first year as a serious writer, while going full time to college. Don’t you? Looking at it all, I’m kind of scared. But if I can get all that done, I’ll be very proud of myself, and well on my way to becoming a published author. I’ll also have established that I can set goals that will stretch me, and I can make myself meet them. I want to continue being able to stretch myself and to grow.