2017 Accomplishments & 2018 Goals

new years

Yes, this is how I spent New Year’s Eve 2017, and it was awesome!

Though time is a uniquely human construct, there’s something beautiful about the idea of a new year. It’s like a crisp dollar bill, fresh and full of possibility. I use the turning over of one year to the next to celebrate achievements and either reinforce or set new goals. Here’s what went down in 2017 and what I’m hoping to accomplish in 2018.

2017 Recap

In 2017, I published five pieces: one harrowingly personal essay (Shapeless), my first erotica piece (Begin Again), a politically charged (but funny!) vampire romance novella (A Taste of Revolution), and two horror shorts (He Smelled Like Smoke and The Promise). With this motley smattering of writing, I’ve realized that I’m not comfortable boxing myself into a single genre or style. I’ve embraced the fact that I write what I want to when I’m inspired to create it. And I love that approach. It seems to be working for me.  

I read 45 books this year (hitting my Goodreads Reading Challenge goal – whoo hoo! – albeit just barely). My top 7 reads were (in no particular order:

Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits by David Wong bite somebody else

Losing It by Cora Carmack

We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson

Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel

The Dinner by Herman Koch

Joyland by Stephen King

Bite Somebody Else by Sara Dobie Bauer

rocket raccoon

 

Graphic novels I loved reading this year include:

March: Book One by John Lewis and Nate Powell 

Paper Girls: Volume One by Brian K. Vaughan 

Rocket Raccoon #1 by Skottie Young 

 

 

 

I crafted over 100 comic book flowers for my upcoming wedding.

I survived my first hot yoga class (which got up to 106 degrees, thankyouverymuch).

My fiance and I made our wedding bands. Like, mixed-and-melted-down-the-metals-and-cranked-the-metals-through-a-rolling-mill-and-soldered-them-together-and-beat-them-into-circles-with-mallets made them.

I took the stage in an amazing production of The Vagina Monologues. wookie

I learned how to hand stamp metal.

I rediscovered my love for baking pies.

I bought my first onesie and dressed up like Chewbacca for Halloween.

I did a water nymph photoshoot with one of my oldest and dearest friends.

I climbed to the very top of an exceptionally tall indoor climbing wall (six stories!).

I snuggled with an alpaca (which is the perfect way to end a list of accomplishments, right?).

2018 Goals

Read 45 books. I’m keeping this one consistent. Not gonna lie, I read some really short books on December 29th, 30th, and 31st in order to hit my Goodreads Reading Challenge goal. This year, I want to cruise into December confident that I’ll hit my 45-book goal – and then some.

Write one story or piece a month. This one is going to be a challenge. I’ve fallen out of the habit of writing regularly (it’s like I’ve convinced myself I don’t have time because I’m planning a wedding or something!) I lost a little bit of my love for writing in 2017, and I don’t know whether to blame stress, poor planning, a lack of inspiration, a lack of self-motivation, or the monster that hides out under my bed. Whatever the case may be, I want to challenge myself to meet a deadline every month in 2018 to see if I can re-spark my desire to write consistently. Whether flash fiction, a sprawling novella, or a personal essay, I need to write something every month. And I’m going to be gentle with myself. The pieces don’t need to be ready to sell or the best thing I’ve ever written. They just need to be complete.

yogaContinue to cultivate a regular yoga practice. When Bryan and I were living in Phoenix, I was really good about going to yoga at least twice a week. There’s something about yoga that makes me feel incredibly strong and incredibly calm, which I’ve found to be a really powerful combination for me. It’s also a great way to give my lower back and other chronic injuries the TLC they need. I started working toward this goal in 2017, and I’m hoping to build upon it to keep the momentum going in 2018.

Revive my blog presences. My personal blog and the blog I share with my fiance (2geekslife.com) have been grossly neglected. Again, I’ve fallen out of the habit, and I’ve also self-sabotaged a bit. There were times in 2017 when I thought my regular musings were too mundane or too boring to publish. Time to kill that self-doubt and trust that I always have something valuable or funny or thoughtful to say. Time to trust my voice.

Okay, those are the big goals. I’m sure other goals will pop up throughout the year, and I’ll go after them with vigor and an eye for self-improvement and cultivating accomplishment and happiness.

For those of you who create resolutions or set goals each year, I hope you’re off to a great start. I believe in you! Go get ‘em!

 

Read “Take Care” in Shooter Literary Magazine

Shooter magazine cover

Today, I can say that I am an internationally published author! Across the pond in the UK, Shooter Literary Magazine is celebrating the printing of their first issue while I celebrate the fact that my short story “Take Care” is included in the volume. Another cool milestone–this is my first printed publication. That means a bound book with a fancy cover and my name in print. I can’t wait to smell its hot-off-the-press pages!

A little about “Take Care.” This is one of those stories where art most definitely imitated life. When we first started hanging out, my boyfriend and I went to a Garbage concert. Naturally, I took the opportunity to channel my inner (and outer) Shirley Manson for the occasion since my then crush had shared he’d always had a thing for Shirley. So I was all red hair, heavy eyeliner, and punk clothing. I got us a couple of beers to drink during the opening act, and after a few sips, my crush got really sick. When all was said and done, we determined he’d been drugged–and it had probably been meant for me (fucked up, right?).

Luckily, we caught it early enough and after chugging two liters of water, my crush was feeling okay enough to go back into the concert. We wound up having a great night and when enough time had passed and we made our relationship official, we started joking about the experience, because clearly I’d drugged him to get his attention, right? (Because that tactic makes so much sense and this girl who’s never so much as smoked a cigarette would be all about drugging someone–I hope you all sense the sarcasm there.)

Another night, over drinks with my friend, Sara, I told her the account of the Garbage concert. And through the hazy cloud of IPA drunkenness, I mused about turning that whole debacle into a short story. I would write it in first person from the point of view of a truly single white female character who goes to desperate measures to get the attention of the object of her affection. The next day, my fingers couldn’t type fast enough. “Take Care” was born.

And now you can read it in Shooter’s first edition, aptly named Pulling the Trigger, a collection of stories about crucial moments and decisions. Alongside my story, you can read a personal account of a WWII officer’s critical order to fire, a comic take on martial relations as retirement looms, maternal perfectionism, devious pharmaceutical plots, a gangster with a fast food addiction, and a schoolboy with an embarrassing nun fetish.

Visit Shooter’s site, click Subscriptions, and order your copy today!

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Don’t Believe in Resolutions

Photo by flickr user "Angle Torres."

Photo by flickr user “Angle Torres.”

Because I think starting a new year trying to “resolve” something is negative in connotation. Now, I do believe in setting goals. And if you do it right, your goals should build on successes or progress you made the previous year. Otherwise, you’re setting yourself up to fail because you’re starting from square one (never a fun place). New goals for a new year should be all about momentum, continuing the GOOD things you’ve already done, taking them to the next level maybe–from a place where you’re already ahead of the pack. Doesn’t that sound so much better than making resolutions?

That all being said, here are my goals for 2015:

1. Get four short stories published–with pay. In 2013, my goal was to publish one story during the year, because it was the first year I started submitting my work publicly. Invidia was published that year. In 2014, I set a goal to publish two pieces, and I’m proud to report that I did publish two–Blood Melody and Give It Back. In 2015, my goal is four, because I already have two pieces accepted and lined up to be published. Two more pieces on top of that seems very realistic but also a bit of a stretch goal. Let’s do this.

2. Be more active. Notice how that goal doesn’t mention anything about a diet or losing weight? This is because I’ve identified that I need the happy endorphins released during exercise more than I need to be a size 2. I had a revelation the other day. I get depressed when I don’t have consistent physical activity in my life. That part I already knew, but the ephiphany was that I’m a little addicted to endorphins, because growing up, I was a competitive dancer. I was naturally doping myself up on an almost daily basis through pirouettes and pas de chats. When I don’t get a hit of endorphins at least two or three times a week, I lose energy, get moody, and past body image insecurities come back to haunt me. For my mental and emotional health in 2015, I need to be very conscious and intentional about exercise. Lucky for me, I found a kickass yoga studio in 2014 and I just purchased a Groupon for bellydance classes a couple weeks ago. I’m ready to stretch and shimmy myself to good health!

3. Read 40 books. I’m a better writer when I’m reading. I get inspired by those who’ve come before me. Sometimes, the writing style of the author I’m reading seeps into my writing, and that’s always an interesting experience that I tend to grow from. Most importantly, I’m exercising my brain. Reading isn’t a passive act. It keeps me sharp and engaged with the storytelling part of my brain. On top of all that, I genuinely enjoy it. When I carve out time for reading, I feel like I’m spoiling myself. In 2015, I deserve to be spoiled. And I’m already planning out my reading list. First up, Sandman: Preludes and Nocturnes by Neil Gaiman, Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick, and The Carnal Prayer Mat by Li Yu.

4. Self publish a collection of short stories…or at least make a lot of headway toward this goal. This is the big one, kids! I’ve had an idea for a collection for over a year now. Recently, I talked to a good friend about it and she gave me some amazing ideas for art and the confidence boost I needed to decide it was about damn time to do this. My collection will need 12 short stories, two of which I have already crafted. So, 10 more stories to go. For this goal, I’m giving myself a little leniency. If I can’t crank out 10 stories that are totally worthy of this project by the end of 2015, I’ll publish in 2016. But I want to be intentional about my work and truly start to focus my creativity into this project. It’s time for a book. And the thought of it makes me happy and excited and ready to work.

Okay, those are my major goals for 2015, a continuation of everything I accomplished in 2014. And I’m not the least bit intimidated. Rather, I’m excited. I’m ready. May this be the Year of the Writer.

What are your goals for 2015?

Photo licensingAngle Torres

The Write Place, The Write Time

Photo by flickruser "urbanworkbench."

Photo by flickruser “urbanworkbench.”

My goal is to be published within the next six to nine months. And it’s going to happen. I can feel it in my bones. I’m hungry for it. And I can’t stop writing. I’ve become a literary madwoman. And I’m okay with that.

Revisiting an old short story, See How Her Garden Grows, and a number of my college stories and essays has lit a fire under me. I had this epiphany while perusing my old works and editing them, and the realization was that I’m a really good writer and that I need to be taking more chances with my writing. Posting stories on my blog is great, but it’s safe. Why am I not submitting these stories to contests or literary magazines?

Well, now I am. And each time I hit the “submit” button, it’s a rush of adrenaline to the system. Each time I get a rejection email, I simply go back to the list of publications I want to submit to and I’m inspired again. In fact, some of my best writing has occurred on days when people have said “no” to my writing. Weird, huh? You’d think I’d be discouraged. Apparently, I’m not.  

Within the past couple of weeks, I’ve submitted four poems and three short stories to a number of literary magazines. The submission whirlwind also inspired a story which I don’t intend to submit. I want it to be the foundational piece for a new project I’m working on, a collection of short stories, because I also realized that maybe I’m not the novel-writing type. This new story pushes the boundaries quite a bit. It’s probably one of the weirdest and most risqué things I’ve ever written. I consider that progress.

I’ve researched writing prompts and I’m currently working on a bizarre one: Write about a town that runs out of its sugar supply. Of course, running out of sugar is too easy. It’s not interesting enough for me. My story will involve government conspiracy and perhaps the beginnings of a zombie apocalypse. Well, maybe. It’s too early to tell, but those are my initial musings.

The drive I’m feeling right now is like a high. And I have to admit it’s pretty cool. I’m happy to be working toward a goal right now, one that will leave a lasting impression.

It’s time. Here’s hoping you’ll be reading me soon.

 

Photo licensing – urbanworkbench

Into the Woods

woods

I have been having some funky dreams lately. They’ve been really weird. Like take Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and turn that on its head. Yeah, that’s about right.

Some have been terrifying…and some have been tons of fun.

In one, I was living in a society where those who were accused of crimes had to swordfight to the death. They would pit pairs against each other and most of the time, it was an unfair fight. I happened to be friends with a guy accused of…something…and he happened to be madly in love with me. I, sadly, was not in love with him, but he said the hope of us being together one day would protect him from the battle. I nodded stupidly. Of course, he didn’t win and I was distraight.

I clearly had The Hunger Games on the brain.

A week or so ago, there was a dream about a girl who was getting married to the wrong guy, but luckily an attractive woman singing a Melissa Etheridge song (“The Only One” – stereotypical, I know) swooped in (via helicopter, naturally) and whisked away the bride to be to this alternate world where you can travel by a single red balloon and aquatic flippers.

Photo by flicker user "james studiosushi."

Photo by flicker user “james studiosushi.”

Lord only knows where that one came from.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. Something along the lines of, “This chick should lay off the cough medicine”?

I do feel drugged, but it’s not from cough medicine…or wine…or weed…or sugar. I’m high on creativity, because I’m spending a lot of time in the woods these days – metaphorical woods, not literal ones. And that is because I’ve finally decided to write a legitimate novel – and actually finish it this time around.

It’s a retelling of Sleeping Beauty, but much darker thanks to buckets of magic, love triangles, and some vicious plotting. My imagination has been working overtime and thus, my dreams are the crazy aftermath of spending my day in landscapes crafted by magical realism.

Photo by flickr user "andy castro."

Photo by flickr user “andy castro.”

(By the way, just coincidence that my dreams are all wonky while I’m writing a new version of Sleeping Beauty, the chick who slept forever? Yeah, I think not.)

Other symptoms of novel writing?

The feeling like there aren’t enough hours in a day. Professional novel writing is a full-time gig, but since this is my first and I have yet to grace the New York Times Bestsellers list, I have to balance my regular job with caring for my dog, and being a great girlfriend, and maintaining a social life, and cupcake orders and, oh yeah, sleeping. I took my laptop to get my oil changed last weekend. Lunch breaks? Writing time! It may be a far-fetched goal with my lifestyle, but I’d like to have a solid draft of this novel done by the end of June. Eek!

Yet another symptom is fear. When you embark on a project this big and it’s so personal (as any writing is), you start to question yourself. Is my writing good enough? Will I actually be able to finish this thing? What happens if I love it, but no one else does – especially since this could very well be the first piece of writing with my name attached to it that I shop around to publishers? Is my story good enough? Are my characters compelling and likable? Is it too dark?

Of course, I choose to bat all of these questions to the side, because at the end of the day, I believe in myself and my writing, come what may. Finishing will be half the battle and I intend to crack open a very special bottle of wine when I do. What happens after that…well, I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it. For now, I have a story I want to tell and it’s time for me to tell it. That’s enough to keep me going.

I really want this. I really want this to be my moment.

And I want to continue to have weird ass dreams, because that means I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing – living in a fantasy world that someday I’ll share with all of you.