A to Z is over… now what?

Hello, sports fans!

Welcome to May.

Yes, I know May has been going for more than a week now, but April was pretty busy and I took a few extra days to recover.

For those who were playing along, you are already aware that my A to Z challenge was completed with relative success.

I didn’t adore ever single story, but I got them all written, mostly on time. And I’m happy enough with the overall quality that I’m going to publish a collection!

What that means for you is that if you want to reread any of my stories you should do it sooner rather than later. I expect to leave everything up at least through the end of May, but once the collection is ready I’ll be taking down most of the stories here. My Blog Hop story (V is for Vortex) will stay put indefinitely, and I may pick one or two more to remain. I also need to do some rewrite on a couple of them, and I always like to include some bonus material so I need to write a few extra stories too. But I’m hoping to have the collection ready by mid-June at the latest. Watch this space.

Writing Stuff

In other writing news, I’m getting back to work on the revision that fell fallow over the last several weeks. As I think I’ve mentioned before, it is almost certainly going to end up as a complete rewrite. But I’m still taking the whole thing through a completeย HTRYN-style revision process to get there. Partly because I want/need to fully understand that process. Partly because what I’ve done of that process so far has really helped me focus on what I think the story will end up being. I want to create a clear enough target that I know for certain that I’ll hit it the second time around. ๐Ÿ™‚

I also have another idea percolating in the back of my head. It’s a young-adult-space-opera kind of thing that I worked on for a while and abandoned because I didn’t know what to do with it. But recently I’ve had some new ideas for the story so I want to take another stab and it. I think it will be 3 novella-length shorts, but it may decide to end up as a single, full-length novel. I’ll play that by ear as I’m working on it.

I’d really like to get both those ideas completed and published before the end of the year. It should be more than doable, but will require the kind of focus I employed during the A to Z. Sustained effort! Yikes!

If anyone wants to help, send chocolate! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Moving Forward

In other news (that’s really related, but on a slightly different trajectory), another author has put a challenge out there to do what she is calling the 1000 Day MFA. Basically, it’s a process of intentionally self-educating by consuming lots of content and producing stories on a regular basis. Without the high price tag of a traditional education. Yeah – that’s a plus.

I’m at least tentatively committed to her plan which includes:

Reading/consumption
  • 1 short story, 1 poem, and 1 essay every day
  • watching 3 movies every week
  • reading 1 novel every week
  • reading 1 craft book (writing craft, duh–not arts-and-crafts) every month
  • (my own, personal addition) regularly listening to writing-related podcasts as a means of keeping up with author/writing/publishing news. I regularly listen to:
    • Writing Excuses
    • The Every Day Novelist
    • The Creative Penn Podcast
    • The Self Publishing Podcast
    • The Rocking Self Publishing Podcast
Writing/output
  • write 1 short story (or flash fiction story) every week
  • write 1 novel every year

My personal goals are actually a bit higher, but I don’t have the best track record of meeting my self-imposed goals, so going with these reasonable, doable plans is a good starting point.

Really, the overall goal is to get story and form and language and ideas percolating in my brain. That way, when sitting down to write, interesting things will end up on my page. I was already doing some of this. Joining this public-ish challenge seemed like a reasonable extension of my own personal commitment.

I haven’t quite “officially” started yet. I need to figure out a regular source for poems and essays since those have not been part of my usual intake up to now. This might be as simple as a visit to the library, but I also want to look into online resources. Additionally, I need to set up a tracking system both for what I’m consuming and for what I’m writing. That shouldn’t be too hard, especially since I have a husband who is the king of spreadsheets. But I need to figure out exactly what I intend to track and what I want that to look like.

The other bit I am adding that isn’t part of the “official” process–sharing things here. I want to start posting a weekly review of some kind. I want at least some of my short fiction to be practice in genres that are not my usual fare. And I want to get back in the habit posting weekly fiction or snippets here so y’all can follow along with what I’m doing. I probably also need to improve my blog organization so it’s easier to just get to what you want here. Right now it’s a bit of a mess, as per usual. * insert eye roll here *

Again–none of what I’m proposing should actually be that hard. The tough thing for me is going to be creating the habit.

Wish me luck!

And, like I said, send chocolate!

Writing podcasts

I’ve got to admit it – I have mixed feelings about podcasts.

On the pro side, you can be entertained, get some education, and dive into interesting subject matter, all without spending a penny or leaving your house. And since there are so many podcasts out there, you could theoretically listen indefinitely without ever running out of material.

On the other hand, sometimes it can be hard to find the specific material you might want. And because there is so much out there, occasionally things do get repetitive, you can end up with conflicting facts, and, worst of all, podcasts can eat all your time!

Still, I have a couple of writing podcasts that I listen to that I thought I’d share.

Writing Excuses

WXFirst and, in my opinion, King Of All Writing Podcasts, is Writing Excuses.

Writing Excuses boasts the combined knowledge of Brandon Sanderson, Dan Wells, Howard Tayler, and Mary Robinette Kowal, all of whom are fantastic and successful authors, and who each have a slightly different take on various topics, primarily relating to the sci-fi, fantasy, and horror genres. Of course, a good story is a good story, regardless of genre. So even if you’re writing in literary, romance, western, or some other sector of the fiction world, you will find takeaways from this podcast that will make you a better writer.

Each episode runs in theory around 15 minutes, as noted in their tagline Fifteen minutes long because you’re in a hurry, and we’re not that smart. Of course, they actually are that smart, so from time to time they do exceed their self-imposed time limit. But, on average, most episodes are under 20 minutes and I don’t think I recall them ever having gone over 30.

Because this podcast tends to be quick, entertaining, and packed with useful information, there’s almost no downside to subscribing. Episodes air weekly on Sunday nights.

Rocking Self-Publishing

RSPI’ve been downloading this one for a while, but only recently started actually listening. The Rocking Self-Publishing Podcast has a much different format than Writing Excuses. It’s one guy,ย Simon Whistler, who interviews a guest each week on topics of direct interest to indie writers. He’s much more likely to cover topics related to marketing than craft, and the episodes run a little long for my taste. But he’s a good interviewer and he’s covering subject matter that is actually pretty vital for self-publishing authors.

Recent topics have included getting a hook for your book, long-term planning for indie writers, and career building for self-pubbed writers. He asks good questions, and with his British accent, he’s easy to listen to.

As I mentioned, the episodes run a bit long – roughly an hour, give or take. But because he’s going fairly in-depth with his guests, he can cover some detailed information that would otherwise get missed. Episodes air weekly on Thursday nights.

Other Podcasts

There are a ton of other podcasts for writers out there, but I really can’t tell you anything about them because I’m not listening to them. So if you have a podcast that you think is can’t-miss for indie fiction writers, share it in the comments with a brief description of why it’s useful. At some point I may post an update to this post and I’ll give you credit for recommending something if I find it useful. ๐Ÿ˜€