Tag Archives: Writing

The Craziest Year of My Life: 2012

So much happened in 2012, that looking back upon it all, I’m dizzy.  The day job, which I rarely mention publicly, has been moving in the right direction. I’ve had the opportunity to learn a little about project management and my work is improving for it. I’m looking forward to more learning and new projects in the coming year.  The family situation had some serious bumps which will not ever be forgotten. I try to hold it close and apply it to my daily life to make better decisions. The kidlets and spouse went through some of those bumps as well, but they’re back to their old selves. The Girl is excelling in school but still experiencing shyness issues, and the Boy continues to outshine me in the independence department which makes some days really interesting. The spouse continues to make me proud, and the cats, well, they’re still vomiting everywhere but I’m grateful to have them with us at the ripe old kitty age of fourteen.

And you thought all I ever talked about was my writing. Wait for it….

The writing. It’s been a tremendous year from my writing. I spent the early part of the year planning and world building a novel and characters to write Winter Warrior. I wrote 8 chapters, and revised three of them for submission to Viable Paradise. I was accepted into the 2012 class and attended the workshop in October. Being accepted was only half as exciting as actually attending.  I’ve written since the workshop: two short stories and a novella. I’ve been revising some older items that needed a clean up post workshop. I gave one of the new stories a serious overhaul, which will go into submissions very shortly. This is good, but I definitely note that this year was a “quality” year as opposed to “quantity”. I wrote some really good stories, and spent lots of time learning about my writing and figuring out how to fix what needs fixing.

I attempted Write1Sub1 for the second year in a row. Since the quantity angle didn’t quite work, I didn’t make my W1S1 goals. I’ll be trying again in 2013.

Writing Friends. Between WorldCon and Viable Paradise, I met a lot of people who were previously screen names and email addresses to me before. There were personalities behind those avatars, but there isn’t anything like meeting those people in person and seeing them for who they really are. I met a bunch of people whom I had no idea existed, who have become part of a special circle of friends. We may not talk much or see each other often, but the bond is there. I hope to try and keep these new friendships going in 2013.

Here’s the official count for 2012:

  • ·         Novel Draft: Winter Warrior – in progress 26/80k
  • ·         Short Story Drafts 6
  • ·         Novella Drafts/Conversions 1
  • ·         Short Story Revision: 11
  • ·         New Submissions: 4
  • ·         Short Story Submissions: 80
  • ·         Short Story Rejections  86
  • ·         Short Story Acceptance: 1
  • ·         Critiques: 22
  • ·         Reading: 23
  • ·         May SAD = 12 outlines
  • ·         VP 16 application work (26k written, 8k revised)
  • ·         Worldcon 8/30-9/3
  • ·         Viable Paradise 16 10/7-12
  • ·          W1S1 Monthly (faltering progress)


Let’s look ahead to 2013, shall we? I’ve learned a lot that I need to put to use. (Not that I haven’t, mind you, but it’s one of those use-it-or-lose-it notions.)  The novel needs to be finished and revised. I’d like to get it out to critiquers by the end of 2013 in hopes of revising it for submission in 2014. I’m also keeping up with the short fiction.


Monthly Writing Goals

  • Novel Writing: Winter Warrior – Jan, Feb, Mar (15k monthly/5k weekly)
  • Novel Revision: Winter Warrior – April – October
  • Short Story (Write 2 – Revise 3 – Submit 1)
  • Blog: 4-8x
  • Critique: 4
  • Read: 2-3


This means Write 1 Sub 1 again. This means FMWriters’ May Story-A-Day Challenge. This means getting my schedule back on track, fast. I’m getting back to my morning workouts, which will help my fitness goals. Those aren’t as complex as the writing goals, fortunately, but I’ll be evaluating them monthly as well. I’ll be training for a 5k in May, so the running needs to get back on track. I’d like to be able to run the full race course as opposed to last year’s ½ run ½ walk.  To prepare this, I need to run three times a week, and lift weights twice. The new schedule I’ve devised should help, taking away the question of “what do I do today” and having the plan ready to go. In the recent past, overworking (trying to do too much across the board) and undersleeping have made mornings difficult. The 5am alarm doesn’t wake me. Instead, I go into autopilot and turn it off. I have discovered a new trick – using the alarm in my cell phone, which has a soft chime and a light that goes on when the chime starts. Getting the fitness on track will help get everything else to line up where and when it should.

So that’s the plan.

It IS a plan. These are not resolutions. I’ll be updating on the 1st of each month with my progress, but in between those updates, I plan on blogging a bit about my fitness adventures, and also about some cooking fun. I’m no chef, but I do love food, and I’d like to share my favorite recipes and experiments with you.

Thank you all for sticking me this year, and especially to those of you who reached out in my silence. I’m grateful for this blog and the people I keep in touch with because of it, my writing communities, and the ability to connect at any given moment. The writing life can be a solitary one, but with people like you, it isn’t. I wish you the best 2013 possible and if there’s some way I can help make it better, let me know.



Necessity of Critique in Revision: Giving & Receiving

FMWriters is traveling the web via the Merry Go Round Blog Tour. Site members have grouped together to write monthly on themed topics and turn the blog tour concept on its head: we’re not the ones touring: you are, as you read one writer’s perspective after another. This is my contribution to the
Merry Go Round Tour. Enjoy your ride. ~ Dawn

I’ve been writing for many years, revising for about half those. The critiques –and subsequent improvement in my own writing — didn’t happen soon enough.

I took part in several critique groups on my favorite website (www.fmwriters.com), and picked up bits and pieces from writers of various levels of ability. I put those tidbits to use and start revising smarter. In addition, I read some books and started reading about how to fix all those things my critiquers mentioned seemed off/excessive use of/not even use of. Yes, there’s a lot they said. I mentioned some of the same for other writers as well, but most of it was either really obvious to me, or a repeat of what I was doing wrong myself.

I also joined OWW (www.onlinewritingworkshop.com) where, since I was now paying for the service and privilege of critiquing, I took it much more seriously. I started critiquing stories that were way above my level. I also had my writing
critiqued by people beyond my own ability. I learned more that first year than
I thought possible. I learned revising a story once wasn’t enough, and revising
it ten times was too much. Each revision had to count: no fly-by revisions

Between the two sites, I’ve received 76 critiques on my work and given 122 critiques (including 2 novels) for other writers. I’ve learned to analyze a story for critical elements and how to see the shining light in poorly written story. I’ve seen in stories what I don’t want to repeat in mine, grammar issues as well as plotting/character issues. It wasn’t until I involved myself in the exchange of critiques that I gained the confidence to make my manuscripts bleed. I’m vicious on my own writing. I tear my stories apart, line by line.

It wasn’t until I revised like a maniac that I started submitting. As a result,
I’ve had one short story published, placed three times in the Writers of the
Future contest (once as a semi-finalist), and am currently short listed for
publication in one lovely zine (I’m still crossing my fingers on that one). The
point is: you need feedback.

All writers need feedback. Some find their first readers and harshest audience in
their spouse or best friend. Some find it in critique groups. The best thing
you can do, is find someone who a) will be brutally honest with you and that
you can take it from them, and b) knows what they are talking about.

I have writers I go to for full critiques. I have friends I go to for basic
reader reaction (I’ve referred to them as my First Readers). It’s amazing what
you think you know about your character or world, that these people will point
out. Whether it’s an area they have expertise in, or something they simply
couldn’t believe, it’s important.

My current revision method involves giving the first draft a decent revision then
I send it out to the first readers. One or two people usually get back within a
week or so and let me know what stood out. If I agree, I fix it, give it a
major polish, and submit it to one of my critique groups. After their feedback,
I revise what I agree with. If by chance it was a difficult revision or several
elements were rewritten, I’d send it back to someone for more feedback.
Otherwise, it’s a major polish and I submit the story.

I am grateful to anyone who has offered feedback, and here I offer you my
heartfelt thanks. I know some of you have felt bad reporting the issues, but
you shouldn’t. You’ve helped me grow as a writer. Even Stephen King and Dean
Koontz had their support. I need it, too. And if you’re a writer, so do you.

It’s why so many writers apply to workshops like Viable Paradise and Clarion and Odyssey and attend conventions. It’s why places like Muse Online exist (free!) and sites like FMWriters and Absolute Write are sponsored by appreciative writers.

If you’re a writer and don’t have a critique group or your 1st Person,
I challenge you today to go find one. Learn, revise, and submit. And if you’re
not a writer but know one? Ask if they want feedback when they offer to share
their work with you. If they’re new to writing, a gentle hand may be in order,
but NEVER lie.

We need each other, for without the growth of writers, there wouldn’t be enough
stories to read.

Write happy, Read happy.

~ Dawn

Today’s post was inspired by Forward Motion’s Merry-Go-Round August topic ‘Revision’. If you want to get to know nearly twenty other writers and read about their ideas on Cross-Genre Fiction, then check out the Merry-Go-Round
Blog Tour
.   The next Merry Go Round writer is Bonnie. She’ll be posting her take on this same topic on the 5th for your reading pleasure.

January Results + February Goals

January started with a bang, most of this was done in the first two weeks. Third week involved the two-year-old and his health issues, and the fourth week was spent on crits. I’d like to do a better job of consistency next month, but overall, I’m pleased at my productivity. I also sent out my VP application. Hard to believe it’s only been a month since it’s out. Man, it’s going to be a long wait.

January Results

  • Novel: writing – 3.5k
  • Read – 2
  • Crits   – 2 (1 novel crit, 1 short story)
  • Stories Written: 2
  • Stories Revised: 2
  • Picture Book drafts: 2
  • Picture Book revision: 1
  • Submissions 5
  • New Subs: 2

Stories in Submissions: 6 (+2 with the VP application)

Write 1 Sub1 on course @ 2 + 2

February alas is a short month, and I feel like I’m starting it in a bad place. I hope I can turn this around. My main motivation is completion of tasks, so I broke the novel down into a different form than “daily novel writing”. I took a good look at my chapters and how they’re typically 2 – 3 scenes, so I’m aiming for 3 scenes weekly.  If I do more, that’s good, but at the very least, I’ll get a chapter done a week instead of one per month.

February Goals

  • Novel: writing – 3 scenes weekly
  • Short Story Drafts x2
  • Short Story Revision x2
  • Read x2
  • Crits x4
  • Picture Book draft x1
  • Picture Book revision x1
  • New Submissions 2 (aiming for my Triangulation story + my writers of the future story)

well, I tried something new…

I’ve been working out, I’ve been eating right, and while I’ve been feeling better physically, I’ve also been a little down in the dumps. My writing isn’t what I want it to be right now. I know we all hit a rut now and then, and I just couldn’t figure it out. At least, not until I was driving to work this morning.

This story was supposed to be an easy edit, even with the point of view change from 1st to 3rd, so I treated it casually. Instead of my usual manuscript pages redlined to hell (and back), I decided to try a new approach I’ve read about other writers doing which is to rewrite the story from memory. It was good for the first two paragraphs. I have a new opening that I like, but then I fell apart.

I tried something new, but I think I tried it too late for this story. It’s good, and my revision notes are going to make it great. But not by rewriting it. If your soup just needs some pepper and salt, you do not need to dump the pot and start over. 🙂 I will try this again, but with a first draft story that will benefit from a memory-rewrite.

For this one, I’ll be hitting the library with paper and pen and redlining the manuscript more thoroughly. Tonight, edits will go into the computer. I have a system. I like my system. I just need to stick with it and focus my efforts on the story.

So, what “new” thing have you tried, and did it work for you?

returning to balance

Life is balance. My metaphoric balance of responsibilities is about as bad as my physical balance: it needs work. So I’ve added fitness goals back into my routine, which consequently means I’ll be losing writing time, but getting better sleep, and maybe better able to wake up early for those AM writing sessions.

I’m using lunchbreaks for weights, classes, and running, and tonight is the first weekend day that I’ve managed to fit any exercise in. I’m up to 20 minutes on interval running. I think it’s a good start.

But now it’s off to the writing. I’m still working on Nighthunter and want to have it done soon so I can submit it.

back to work

Insane week, boy am I glad it’s over. Computer’s in good shape, and the only thing left to deal with is getting to know office 2007 as I work in the programs. Getting some sleep tonight and picking up with Nighthunter’s Bite tomorrow. The new title may be “Etherea in Her Veins”. I’ll sleep on it. 🙂

trying to fit it all in

I’ve been horrible with my fitness and healthy eating plan, so I’ve finally figured out how to fix the food situation. First, no more buying food from the cafeteria at work. On Sunday, I’ll be prepping veggie and fruit containers to handle that. I have to test how long a made salad will last in an air tight container, and I have to remember to hardboil five eggs on Sunday while I’m prepping my food. I managed to eat healthy for 3 workdays this week, which happened to be the days I was able to get up earlier.  So it all ties in.

But the exercise? I’ve been walking during lunch on the nice days, but walking isn’t enough. I need a way to fit in weights and max cardio. Walking should be a bonus. Unfortunately, it looks like I’m going to have to mess with my writing schedule to fit this in. My least productive writing time is the evening session, so do I give that up to do a dvd workout after the kids go to bed? I’d still be able to fit in my reading afterward. Having the new laptop will help too – maybe I can get a half hour of writing related stuff in. I’m going to have to play with this. I was only planning on using 3 lunches a week at work for writing, the other two for fitness. I have a hard time with running a different schedule from day to day, but I think this is what I’ll have to do. Even play it by ear– if it’s a lunch workout day, then I write in the evening. If it’s a writing lunch, I work out in the evening.

The problem with that, is betwen the day job and getting the kids sorted out, the rest is kind of relfex. “It’s 8:15pm so I need to be at my computer writring”, etc. I like reflex. It’s what makes my schedule work. I think I could reduce my 8×11 weekly schedule sheet down to an index card and print it off so it’s more accessible in my purse calendar which I look at daily, rather than in my writing folder, which doesn’t come out until I sit down to write.

And the bad news is this gets adjusted 2-3 times a year based on the amount of sunlight available to drive home in after work. Which means I’d lose my after work writing time November through January.

Damn it, I need to be more flexible. 🙂 Or move someplace where the sun shines more in the winter. 😀 Better wait for the bestseller for that . . .

Full Time Working Mom of Two Makes Time for Writing (and stays sane, mostly)

I tell people I’ve been writing seriously for about ten, eleven years now. I thought I was writing seriously all those years. Granted it was a step up from hobby writing, so in that sense yes I was serious, but I’m on a whole new level of serious. Publication Serious. Getting up at 4:30 in the morning serious. I’m there.

I even have a typical schedule, created based on which activities I perform better at various times. All of this is subject to deadlines (like now, I’ve got two major short story deadliens, so ever writing session is spent working on those two stories) and also subject to family needs. My kids are too young for me to say “no this is my time”. But I plan the writing to fit into times where they aren’t around, or when they’re sleeping, or when someone can watch one or both of them for me.

My day-job dictates that Monday through Friday I work from 6;30 am to 3:00 pm, and my household responsibilites run me ragged Saturday and Sunday. Working around that:

Morning Writing: 4:30 – 5:30 Mon – Fri (novel writing / other first draft writing)

Lunch Time Writing: Tues, Thurs, and when possible Sat/Sun – short story work.

After Work: 3:45 – 4;45 (4x weekly) @ the library near daycare for (novel) revision

Evening Writing: 8:30 – 10:00 pm  (5x weekly)- “Other” = Reading, Revision, “Developement” (plan, outline, analyze for revision), Submission prep, critiques, or whatever pressing deadline needs more time.

I guess that between the kids, work issues, weather related road delays, I tend to lose about a quarter of what I planned on doing during the day. The Evening Session will help me make up for those days, hopefully.

This schedule should theoretically allow me to accomplish the following in a year: write one novel, edit one novel, and fit in several short stories. I’ll know better after this year, but I’m hoping that spending more time writing means revision will go faster than I’ve done them in the past. We’ll see.

orchard revisions

It’s been a rough couple of days. I haven’t been able to make use of all my writing sessions, but the ones I’ve gotten in have been productive. The revision for Lonely Orchard is underway and going well enough.  Left arm is sore tonight – something is off about using the library computers for extensive typing. One library has wooden chairs so I can’t adjust height, another library has horrible keyboards so I have to pound the keys. At least I’ve been able to use my evening writing session for reading and giving my arms a little break.

tiger princess… 1st draft done

Yes it’s a crappy first draft, but I like the story. I can fix it. 🙂 But first, I’m going to start on Orchard…

multiple projects

I’ve shifted over to the multiple/simultaneous project mentality. I flowed into it because some of my little bits of writing time don’t always allow me computer access.  I outlined the Tiger Princess story, and started writing it today. The first scene revealed some information about the characters I hadn’t realized–I thought the main character was my tiger princess, but someone else has claimed that title in a very creepy kind of way. Can’t wait to get this one day and out. 🙂

I got some feedback on my letter for viable paradise, and the revision should be fairly easy. The submission is going to take a little while–Nighthunter’s Bite is in good shape, but getting into this workshop is competetive, and I need it in tip-top condition. I’m concerned that I’m sending in my experimental story (1st person pov, present tense), but with proper editing I hope I can make it shine.

Black Violas is on a break (last night). I’m about to rewrite the ending, the right ending I believe, so looking at it fresh should help.


I spent my lunch break today analyzing three of the stories I have queued to edit, and I reviewed my submission needs with a realistic estimate of which stories I’ll be able to get into shape by these deadlines.

The Tiger story is first, I need to get the first draft done so I can revise submit it by 3/31 to the triangulation anthology.

Nighthunter’s Bite is next. My original intent was to submit it to writers of the future (3/31 deadline), but now that I’m applying to viable paradise, I want to submit either this story (2nd choice) or my Honor story, which is with JJA right now for the wizard anthology. So this story has priority for revision.

Dragon’s Bard and Lonely Orchard require much more work than I anticipated. Only one of them will get revised this month, and at the moment, I’m leaning toward Orchard. Black Violas isn’t due until 4/15, so after this round of revisions, I’ll post it for crit, and then get to it early april.

At least now I’m organized.

Query: Titles

So what’s the deal with short story titles? I’m not so worried with my novels because all I’ve heard is that the publisher will change it on you anyway, you just need one spiffy enough to get their attention.  So how about short stories? No one ever talks about their short stories being renamed upon acceptance/publication. 

I also want to know how you come up with your titles. I tend to pick an element from the story, and while my titles tend to be about something from within the story itself, they don’t seem to carry the weight of the stories I’ve read.

What do you think about titles?

Writing writing writing

Progress has been slow, writing time is not abundant, but I’m finding it in little bits and pieces.  That’s the hazard of weekend writing, but we’re back in the week so I should have a better chance of getting time in.

Goals for my week – I intend to get a lot of things done.

Black Violas – two nights of computer time to bring these edits/rewrites into existance (Monday and Tuesday); then I can send it off to my readers.

Nighthunter’s Bite – revision again, probably Wednesday and Thursday.

Two crits, one on Monday, one on Wednesday.

And, if this goes well, I can jump back into Tiger Princess by the weekend.

So we’ll see. My eyes might be overestimating what I have time for this week, but I’m willing to give it a shot. Hopefully, the muse will be along for the ride.

nighthunter continued

I’ve been battling POV and continuing the edit (somewhat) but I’ve at least decided I still like first person for this story.  I’m leaning toward past tense now, though present tense nags me just as much.  I’m just going to have to make a choice at some point.  Maybe tonight, because I have lots planned for this week.

Black Violas needs me.  Tiger Princess needs me.  I have research.  I have a day off, which was supposed to be for writing, but it’s getting eaten up with baking plans and house cleaning that I’ve neglected for too long.  So yes, I really need to choose.

I’m giving myself a deadline of tonight to make the decision.  After that, I continue the edit, and be done with it in a day or two.

nagging stories, taking over my life

I wrote Maya’s story.  I wrote it, and she’s refusing to leave me alone.  I’ve got the fixes for the story already in my head, sooner than I’ve ever had the desire to edit a story (six days after writing it).  I guess I’d better hit it while I’ve got the desire.

The problem I have with this, is I have three other short stories (two in edit, one in draft) that have a 3/31 deadline.  Maya, I so want to tell you to get in line, but I love my muse too much to refuse an untimely gift.

So, editing tonight.  Maybe if I get to the Nighthunter’s Bite edits, it’ll clear my head to hit Violas.  Hopefully, I can get moving early enough on it, and stay up late.  Might not be room for much sleep tonight. 😉

more violas

Violas… new opening, definitely going with 1st person pov.  Not sure of the ending yet, but reshaping the story.  Mostly, I’m rewriting it, not just revising.  None of the writing/language really thrilled me in the first draft, so I really just went through the original manuscript and chose which lines I really like and want to keep if I can.  The rest, is just an outline.