March 2017 In Review

Yay! Third In-Review post in a row. I’m on a roll! 😀

Just so you know, I’m once more tweaking the layout of the post, so please bear with me as I work toward a format that I like.

My Life this Month…

Since it’s Winter here on the ranch, things are slow and both hubby and I are chomping at the bit to get working on the projects we have around here to finish. It becomes a nice bonding experience for our family and it gets us all our vitamin D. The first cow has finally calved. Yes!

Now that Winter is starting to wind down, I’m looking forward to returning to my twice a day walking routine. I really missed it. When I lived in town over 13 years ago, exercising outside was much easier during the Winter months. Walking in the country during the Winter is liable to hurt as the lane is slick and the meadow has snow drifts to my knees.

I’m still working on cutting back on the electronics and TV during the weekends for the family this month, but as long as the weather is crappy outside I don’t see my goal being very successful. However, with the more Spring-like days, the girls are spending more time outside playing then inside. Lately, their game of choice to outside has been four square, and they always seem to want mom and dad to come play. 😀

The girls are also back to working on the Fort they built with a friend two years ago. It’s becoming quite the project with them finding all sorts of objects that have been trashed over a half a century ago and dragging it back to their Fort. As I look at it, their helping clean up their environment and at a later date we can collect it all for recycling and the garbage, but for the time being they are free to use it.

Now on to my goals…


Finish Writing 5 Books in 2017

March has been a month of deep contemplation in regards to the direction I want to take this writing hobby of mine, the type of books I want to write in the future, and how I want to handle some of the books I have already written. I’ve even started to solidify some changes I decided upon. I want to make a more detail post on this later this month when I have a better idea of what I’ll be doing. I’m only mentioning it here because my plans pertain to my goal to “Finish 5 books in 2017.”

So, yes, I will be finishing at least 5 books this year, plus a  few more if my plans work out the way I hope, but not in the way I planned to when I made the goal. I’m making good headway with this and I’m hoping  to increase my writing output significantly with the changes I will be implementing this month.


Write Everyday & Write 300,000
New Words in 2017

In January I figured that I would have to write nearly 30,000 words a month to reach my 300,000 new words in 2017 goal. Since my best output comes in the winter months before the kids are out of school and the ranch work begins, I have until May to create a good buffer. I had accumulated about 9,000 word buffer before the 1st of March and lost most of it before the end of March due to some bad writing days.

Days I wrote: 26
Days I didn’t write: 5

February’s Word Count for March:  19,495 new words
Total Word Count for 2017:
 85,043 new words

Note: The 300,000 words doesn’t include words written for blog posts or web pages unless it was something creative. I am using a Excel program from Svenja Gosen to keep track of my progress and I would suggest it to anyone who wants to do the same. I’ve used this spreadsheet on and off every year since 2014.


Take 1 writing related workshop in 2017

I know I mentioned that I probably wouldn’t be doing this. Well apparently I lied. Sorry. 😦

Around the first of the month I ran across 5-Figure Author Challenge/ AuthorRemake eCourse  and joined at a discounted price I couldn’t pass up. I’ve really wanted to learn more about platform building because basically I suck at it. Maybe this eCourse will help me become better at it, or at least less awkward.

I’m still going through the course information, but it felt really nice to cross off this goal off my list.


My Plans for Next Month…

I have five main focuses this month:

  1. Keep writing no matter what life throws at me. 😀
  2. Remember to make weekly goals and review them to get shit done!
  3. Solidify my plans for the series I’m working on and write that blog post explaining a few things.
  4. Watch for more calves to drop.
  5. Start walking again as the weather permits.

Wishing you all the best in April,

 

February 2017 In Review

I’m back for a second “In Review” Post, however, I decided to change the layout this time. I might tweak it again next month, so please bear with me as I work toward a format that I like.

Now personally, I’m constantly reviewing my life to see where I can improve, what I can get rid of, and make sure I don’t get caught up in the “you should be doing this” (total bullshit, BTW) rather than the “I want to be doing this”. I’ve learned from my mistakes in writing for business rather than pleasure and it’s not something I want to repeat. (I promise! Really! LOL OK, so probably not so much.)


So, my Life this Month… 

Ran smoothly for the most part, thanks for asking. 😀

No surprise firestorms or hurricanes, although there was a lot of snowstorms  this month, and even a snow day or two. We were even able to make it to the orthodontist for a six-week checkup and back without incident.  Little T, my oldest daughter, might have her braces off sooner than planned. YAY! But Little K, my youngest daughter, still has a few months and should have an x-ray soon to see if she has the needed room for her teeth to come in properly.

I’m looking forward to the braces being gone. The extra time taking care of them and travel to their offices and back is a pain in the ass.

This month I spent most of my mornings hanging out with hubby before he heads to work, writing during the four hours that I have before the girls get home, and hanging out with the girls for the rest of the evening before bed.

Little K came home around the first of the month with a desire to do Yoga. She was inspired by a teacher who showed the girls how to do the “Crow” (outside link for the interested). Ever since we’ve been trying to integrate Bedtime Yoga into our evenings although with less advanced positions. I’m just not that balanced. LOL


My Goal to Finish Writing 5 Books in 2017

This went awesome!

I really want to finish writing all the five books in The Queen’s Rebellion Series (crossing my fingers that I won’t find a reason to write more. I believe five books in a series is my limit.). I started these books in 2014 and due to personal and family stuff I wasn’t able to finish them. Now I’m back to writing and working toward finishing them. I know, “It’s about damn time!”

Now this goal doesn’t include editing or publishing the books, although I’m hoping to get that done this year too. First, I want to finish writing the entire series before I even think about editing them. However, I’m looking toward a 2018 release date for all five books and the series box set.

There was one draw back this month, but it turned out to be the best one so far. When I finished The Warlord’s Daughter and started writing The Scout’s Captive, I had this niggling feeling that something was off with the story and so I finally broke down and printed off all 340 pages (that’s 8.5″x11″ sized pages, not 5.5″x8.5″ sized pages) to look over. I found that I needed to make some changes that I wasn’t expecting but which improved the stories of each book. You can read more about in Listening to my Inner Writer.

Due to these changes, I’m hoping that I will be finishing the books ahead of schedule.

the_warlords_daughter_1_webThe Warlord’s Daughter

Phase: writing completed 01/5/2017
Word Count: 66,715 (but only because I moved two scenes to TSC. I have two, possible three scenes to write.)
Due: February 1st

the_scouts_captive_2_webThe Scout’s Captive

Phase: Writing
Word Count:  78,422
Due: April 1st

the_lost_heir_3_web

The Lost Heir

Phase: Waiting to be written
Word Count: 27,734
Due: June 1st

the_empty_throne_4_webThe Empty Throne 

Phase: Waiting to be written
Word Count: 27,910
Due: September 1st

the_rebel_queen_5_web

The Rebel Queen

Phase: Waiting to be written
Word Count: 43,039
Due: December 31st


 My Goal to Write Everyday &
Write 300,000 New Words in 2017

Part of my writing goals for 2017 is to write every weekday and add 300,000 new words this year. This month has required a little more discipline on my part because Hubby’s work schedule changed and so my schedule had to change with it. So no more writing in the morning after the kids leave. 😦

Most days I’m forced to wait until the afternoon to start writing and by then I’m tired or distracted by other things. I wish I could say that the change is easy for me, but I’m a very routine oriented and the constant back and forth every month screws me up for a few days to most of the month.

Even with the change in schedule, the word count and writing every weekday goals went better than I thought they did. Despite thinking that I would take the weekends off, I usually ended up writing something, even if I did it old school and wrote a scene in my notebook rather than on my laptop.

Days I wrote: 20
Days I didn’t write: 8

February’s Word Count for February: 28,346 new words
Total Word Count for 2017:
 62,979 new words

Note: The 300,000 words doesn’t include words written for blog posts or web pages unless it was something creative. I am using a Excel program from Svenja Gosen to keep track of my progress and I would suggest it to anyone who wants to do the same. I’ve used this spreadsheet on and off every year since 2014.


My Goal to Write in my Work/Writing Journal

After reading Working Days: The Journals of The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck, I decided that I wanted to keep a writing journal for my works-in-progress. I started this goal in December in my Bullet Journal.

In January 2017, I started to use one of the journals I’ve had lying around forever. So far I like how it is turning out. I don’t always remember to write in it before I start writing but I figure it’s a work-in-progress.

work-journal

I believe I bought this leather journal in 2001 with several refill journals and never used it. Ah, such is the life of a writer.


And My Office Goal

Yet another goal of mine is to create an inspiring work space, which I knew wasn’t going to be easy when I made the goal because even though we are living in a house that is two to three times larger than our cabin, my office area is smaller than ever.

officebefore

My old office in the cabin was roughly 4’x8′ and there was more storage space with my printer stand/shelves & filing cabinet that you can’t see in the picture.

office

My office space now is about 2’x4′ and doesn’t include the filing cabinet which holds other paperwork unrelated to me at all or my printer stand/shelves which was re-purposed for something to do with movies.

Since I’m once more in the living room, which is filled with distractions and very limited on space, and everything I need for writing has to be on the desk, I’ve had to make some changes like:

  • The wire basket on the left side of my desk holds notes for current writing projects, my day planner, and blog notes. Then if I have to work somewhere else, like the kitchen table or the counter in our bathroom, I can take the basket with me. Anything I don’t need for the moment has to be stored elsewhere in the house (which is really annoying).
  • The big black binder on my desk is my story binder for The Queen’s Rebellion. It holds all my notes on the world and characters for the series, plus pictures and maps and timelines. I found the printed version much easier than the digital one. It’s in need of an update though. (My favorite how to create a series binder explanation is on YouTube by author Kami Garcia.)
  • The black book on the right of my laptop is the work/writing journal I mentioned above. It’s where I record all the boring details of what I’m writing, how I feel about what I wrote, ideas for the stories, etc.
  • The stacks of crap in the shelves on the right side of my desk is everything I’m working on making digital or that I need close by. It’s been a goal of mine for a few years now to make my office as digital as possible. I’ve been going through all my papers when I have time and deciding what to keep and what to toss. When I have the chance I type up notes for future books (I love using Scrivener for this. I find it very helpful) and any notes I’ve made while reading books or articles (I like OneNote for this).
  • Since my desk faces the window and I have no walls to hang my corkboard of inspiring quotes, writing calendar, dry erase board for notes, or pictures, I’m creating a desktop slide show for quotes and pictures, and my planner for my writing calendar. So far I have eighteen pictures or inspiring quotes. I’ve been thinking of placing it on this website as a freebie for other writers, but I have to look into copyright issues first.

If I could find another space in the house for my office space that didn’t include me getting rid of my awesome desk or our furniture, I would do it in a heartbeat, but it’s not possible. Trust me, I’ve looked. 😦


My Plans for Next Month…

Are limited to watching for that first cow who is going to calve, feeding the livestock, working toward finishing The Scout’s Captive, and starting The Lost Heir.

Wishing you all the best,

January 2017 in Review

Welcome to my first “In Review” Post! Personally, this is something that I usually do at the end of each week so I can stay on track with the goals I made, but I thought a weekly post about what was working, what wasn’t, and how I could improve on a goal would be too much. Instead I’m going to do a monthly “In Review” posts, unless that gets too annoying and I decided to post this every 3 or 6 months.

Now, not all the goals I made this year were writing related but the ones I posted here in December were. My hope was that by publishing them and making monthly assessments on how I’m doing with them, I will rock these goals!

We’re about a month into 2017 and this is how I’m doing so far:


My Writing

Writing at least 300,000 new words this year (doesn’t include words written for blog posts or website unless it was something creative): I am using a Excel program from Svenja Gosen to track my word count goal this year. I’ve used this spreadsheet on and off every year since 2014.

Total Word Count for January: 34,633
Total Word Count for 2017:
34,633

Finish writing 5 books this year (this doesn’t include editing or publishing them. That will come after I finish writing the entire series):

the_warlords_daughter_1_web the_scouts_captive_2_web the_lost_heir_3_web the_empty_throne_4_web the_rebel_queen_5_web

As of January 16, 2017 the first draft of The Warlord’s Daughter (due February 1st) is done. It came in at 97,149 words. 

I started The Scout’s Captive (due April 1st) January 16, 2017. I have 51,102 words written so far.

The other books will be: The Lost Heir by June 1st (about 58,000 words written); The Empty Throne by September 1st (about 10,000 words written); The Rebel Queen by December 31st (about 10,000 words written).


Books I Read This Month

One of my goals is to read at least 50 fiction books & 5 non-fiction books. So far this year I’ve read 5 fiction books and 1 non-fiction book. The last one was a short story that caught my eye.

    

  

Happy Reading y’all!


My Other 2017 Goals

Nurturing my creativity by spending more time doing fun things with my family because downtime is therapeutic for the creative brain: I’m doing better at enforcing Family Time during the evenings and on weekends. I decided that I can always write after everyone heads to bed or get up earlier in the morning. 

Unplugging from the electronics on the weekends: I’ve been inspired to write on the weekends for a few hours in the morning or at night. They are usually blog posts as they are the easiest to return too when I’m interrupted.

Be a better writer and develop my writing craft by taking at least 1 writing craft related ecourse or workshop before the end of the year: I haven’t even started this one because I’m afraid of a repeat of the last two seminars I attended online (going somewhere isn’t an option I’m even considering) because:

  1. When I spend money for the event like I did for the first one, I expect to gain some benefit from it and get what was promised me. Even though this seminar was aimed at helping writers promote and market their books, There were only 2 speakers in the whole lineup that had any advice for fiction writers and another 3 had advice that could be modified for fiction writers, but most of the speakers focused on marketing and promoting books for self-help writers who wanted speaking gigs. 
  2. If I sign up for it, I need to know that I can be there for the lectures. The second seminar that I signed up for started on a Thursday and went until Saturday. I had nothing going on that week and planned to watch them, either live or as a replay. It ended up being a busy weekend and I missed most of the seminar. I found out later that the link for the replays only lasted 24 hours so I didn’t get to see most of them. The only plus side for that seminar was that it was free and research for a series I plan to write in the future.

I really want to take a few classes that I’ve had my eye on for a few years now, but I’m afraid to do it because my schedule can go from empty to chaotic in the blink of an eye. I don’t want to start a class and then not have the time to work on the assignments or attend the lectures. If I’m going to take a class then I want benefit fully from it.

Writing and maintaining a work journal each writing day: I started this in December last year after I started to read Working Days: The Journals of The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck. I combined this with how I was using my new planners and tried to keep it going through January but by week two of the new year I knew I needed to do something different. I’d start to write an entry, get distracted or interrupted, and never returned to the journal. So most my entries looked like this: Worked on fixing scene between… (can’t begin to tell you who) or I need to remember to… (not sure what, I can’t remember).  I tweaked this goal a bit and tried it again. It’s working much better now but I’m not quite happy with it.

Be more disciplined in my writing by writing something (story, blog post, letter) every weekday but not feeling too upset if I don’t write something one day because sometimes daydreaming is working too: I have 27 days where I wrote and 4 days where I wrote nothing. Most days I wrote something in my current story.

Create an inspiring work space by keeping my office area/desk de-cluttered for better working and creating a desktop slideshow of inspiring quotes and pictures for my computer: I figure this will be an on-going goal. Right now my desk/office area is mostly clean, except for the pile on the left side of my desk. I’m still looking for pictures or quotes that inspire me to add to my desktop slideshow. 

Work on my time management by using the planners I created and bought, setting writing goals at the beginning of every month and reviewing them daily to see where I can make improvements, and sticking with the daily work routine that I created to mesh with my family’s schedules (to be tweaked as needed).: My plan for the planners failed two weeks into using them. They weren’t helping me manage my time, they were a time suck that took away from writing time. I downsized to one planner and decided that I would switch off to see what one I liked better. I started by taking all the goals I set for myself and breaking them down to actionable steps to make it easier to incorporate into my life. 

Be a healthy writer by keeping the daily exercise routine I started, making healthier meal choices, and drink more water.: I could do better with this one. I substituted the time it takes to feed the cows and load the hay truck with my normal exercise. It’s the water situation that I need pay more attention to, which reminds me that I need a drink of water.

Okay, I’m back.

Maintaining my meditation and affirmation practice I started in 2016.: I found that I love meditation and it was something that went really well with walking during the summer months. Now that it’s winter, I’m having trouble sitting still and my meditation practice fell by the way side. I tried a 30 Day Affirmation Challenge in January but I really hated the affirmations they choose. I want to create my own affirmations for February. 


So there you have it! All my 2017 writing related goals. 😀

I would love to hear about your goals for the new year if you’d like to share?

Welcome to 2017!

I hope your holiday break was as fun and productive as mine. I spent most of my free time working on finishing The Warlord’s Daughter (both productive and fun), putting together puzzles with my girls (possibly not so productive but it was really fun), working on my latest stitching project (more meditative), and spending quality time with my family (both productive and fun).

Now that our girls are back to school it’s time for me to buckle down for some heavy writing sessions this month. But first, I wanted to give you all a preview of what I’m doing in 2017.

~ Reading 55 Books in 2017 ~

I made the goal to read 50 fiction books and 5 non-fiction books this year. I’ll be making a monthly post about the books I read that month on my blog.  I wish I could say that I picked them all out ahead of time, but since I don’t know what each week will bring I thought the better plan would be to pick them out as I went along. The fiction will be a mix of novels, novellas, and short stories.


~ Writing 5 Books in 2017 ~

When I posted my writing goals for 2017 in December I mentioned that I wanted to finish writing 5 books in 2017. Those books include the entire The Queen’s Rebellion Series. They are: The Warlord’s Daughter (#1), The Scout’s Captive (#2), The Lost Heir (#3), The Empty Throne (#4), and The Rebel Queen (#5). This is where most of my focus will be for the next 12 months. My hope is to have all 5 book written, edited, and on pre-order so that I can publish them throughout 2018.

To accomplish this I had to rethink my entire writing game plan. I’m going to have to be focused, organized, and disciplined in my writing. Which is code for “stop goofing around on Pinterest and playing Solitaire or Sudoku on the computer during writing time, Stephannie!”

So I started 2017 by erasing all the games from my computer, weaning myself off Pinterest (started this in December), downloading the new version of the Cold Turkey app (December 31st), and making my writing schedule for 2017. While I don’t want to push myself too hard and burn out, I also like to aim for the moon, maybe then I can land among the stars (LOL). So while I made my goals attainable, I decided to challenge myself with an added bonus to inspire me. If I finish these 5 books before my scheduled deadline then I get a prize. Incentives are really great for people like me. 😀

I will be writing a post at the beginning of each month to let you all know where I am in my goals.  This is where I am so far in the books…

The Warlord’s Daughter (Book 1)

the_warlords_daughter_1_web

Click on the picture to read the description

I was about 70,000 words into this book in December 2016. My word goal for the book started out at 85,000 but I as I reached my goal I realized that the story wasn’t done so I changed my word goal for the books to a 100,000. During the holiday season, I started on the complete overhaul of the scenes in The Warlord’s Daughter and even got around to writing some new scenes that I needed.

As of January 1st, I have around 93,000 words done and about 8,000 to go. I should be done with this book before my deadline.

Deadline: February 1st
Status so far: 92,974 words written of my 100,000 Word Count Goal
My Incentive for finishing this book: Buy Miracle Morning for Writers. I love the idea behind the Miracle Morning Routine, however, what I learned about it didn’t mesh with my kinda chaotic schedule. I stumbled upon one for writers and figured it would be a good incentive to work

The Scout’s Captive (Book 2)

the_scouts_captive_2_web

Click on the picture to read the description

I’m not as far along in this book as some of the others, but mostly because I took more than half this book away to create The Warlord’s Daughter.

This book will take more fleshing out as most of the big scenes are already written, although I have a few ideas for new scenes that I will be adding.

Deadline: April 1st
Status so far: 32,755 words written of my 100,000 Word Count Goal
My Incentive for finishing this book: Buy that Tibetan Singing Bowl I’ve been eyeing for the last two years to add to my meditation collection.

The Lost Heir (Book 3)

the_lost_heir_3_web

Click picture to read the description

This one should pretty much write itself as I know where this book is going and as with The Scout’s Captive all the big scenes are written. Side Note: If I finish The Warlord’s Daughter and The Scout’s Captive early, the deadline for this book will shift to compensate. It wouldn’t be much of a challenge if I had an extra month to three months to finish this book.

Deadline: June 1st 2017
Status so far: 50,905 words written of my 100,000 Word Count Goal
My Incentive for finishing this book: Buy three books from my wishlist.

The Empty Throne (Book 4)

the_empty_throne_4_web

Click on the picture to read the description

This is one of those books that I don’t have much done on. The scenes in this book are where I stopped because I had written myself into a corner and needed to figure out some plot holes. I have a better idea where the books are going so I’m hoping by the time I get to writing it it will go fast.

Side Note: Even if I’m ahead on my book writing goals the deadlines I will probably not change the deadlines for The Empty Throne or The Rebel Queen. I going to be writing these books during the Summer and Fall months when my girls are out of school and there is a lot going on around the Ranch. I’m pushing it with the deadlines I have already.

Deadline: September 1st 2017
Status so far: 3,233 words written of my 100,000 Word Count Goal
My Incentive for finishing this book: Wacom Digital Graphics Tablet. I’m not sure what model as the one on my wishlist is now years old and out of day. I have to do some research.

The Rebel Queen (Book 5)

the_rebel_queen_5_web

Click on the picture to read the description

I have a vague notion of where this book is going but other than the opening chapter that refused to go away, I have nothing else written. I’m hoping to have several ideas for scenes ready by the time I write this book.

Deadline: December 31st 2017
Status so far: 9,167 words written of my 100,000 Word Count Goal
My Incentive for finishing this book: Buy a new tablet as my old one died at the end of 2016. Yeah, I know. Why am I waiting a whole year? Because I still have a Kindle I can read my books on for the moment.


Wishing you all the best for the New Year!

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My Writing Goals for 2017

Usually, I’m not one for New Year Resolutions; mainly, because I don’t believe in waiting for the new year to make goals for change. When I have something I want to change in my life, I create a goal to accomplish it, regardless of the time of year. That said, this time around it just so happens that I had a few changes that I wanted to make and it happens to be the end of the year.

Now, not all the goals I made are writing related, but I decided to share some of the ones that were. Mostly because I’m hoping that by publishing them and then making monthly assessments on how I’m doing with them, I will accomplish them.

So without further ado, here are my writing related goals:

Nurture my Creativity by…

  1. Reading at least fifty fiction books this year. That is about 1 book per week.
  2. Spending more time doing fun things with my family and playing more with my daughters, because downtime is therapeutic for the creative brain.
  3. Unplugging from the electronics on the weekends, unless I’m inspired to write on my current writing-in-progress and I have the time to do it.

Be a better writer and develop my writing craft by…

  1. Reading at least 5 books on the writing craft this year. I know I have that many or more on my Kindle or in my bookshelf.
  2. Take at least 1 writing craft related ecourse or workshop before the end of the year.
  3. Writing and maintaining a work journal each writing day. This will help me track how I feel about my writing that day, what worked and didn’t work, where I left off and where I was headed for the next day, analyze what might help me in the future, and record good ideas and advice.

Be more disciplined in my writing by…

  1. Writing something every weekday, even if it’s a blog post or a letter (this one could help me improve my handwriting which is a personal goal of mine).
  2. Not feeling too upset if I don’t write something one day because sometimes daydreaming is working too.
  3. Writing at least 300,000 new words this year. That’s about 1,100 words each week day. Totally doable!

Finish writing 5 books this year…

  1. The Warlord’s Daughter by February 1st (about 72,700 words written).
  2. The Scout’s Captive by April 1st (about 33,800 words written).
  3. The Lost Heir by June 1st (about 50,700 words written).
  4. The Empty Throne by September 1st (about 3,100 words written).
  5. The Rebel Queen by December 31st (about 9,500 words written).

Create an inspiring work space by…

  1. Creating a slide show of inspiring quotes and pictures for my laptop desktop.
  2. De-cluttering my office area and desk for better working.

Work on my time management by…

  1. Using the planners I created and bought. One planner is for tracking what I did that day and the other is for planning what I want to get done.
  2. Setting writing goals at the beginning of every month and reviewing them daily to see where I can make improvements.
  3. Sticking with the daily work routine that I created to mesh with my family’s schedules. To be tweaked as needed.

Be a healthy writer by…

  1. Keeping the daily exercise routine I started. Walking during good weather, and dance or yoga when it’s yucky outside.
  2. Taking the time to make healthier meal choices and drink more water, especially during my working hours.
  3. Maintaining my meditation and affirmation practice I started in 2016.

So there you have it! All my 2017 writing related goals. 😀

I would love to hear about your goals for the new year if you’d like to share?

stephanniebemansignature