2020 Writing Goals


It’s
a new year, and while new year is kind of an arbitrary thing, I admit I like arbitrary new start feelings. It is a good time to look back and look forward. I’ve got some big goals for my writing this year. It’s not just about writing, but about all the other things that come along with it. I’m probably being pretty ambitious with these, but I want to aim big.

Writing

  • Don’t sign up for any challenges with arbitrary goals, e.g. word count goals.

“Writing” isn’t always literally “writing”, and that’s particularly true this year given all the other goals in this post. My daily writing time is between 6am and 7am, maybe a little later if I can afford to work a short day or something. And if it isn’t already obvious from the other items on this list, there will be plenty of things for me to do other than literally smashing out words in those sessions.

Those things still count. And pushing myself to participate in challenges that don’t recognise all these other facets of writing actually do my process harm.

  • Submit stories to four anthologies or short story competitions

I’m hoping that the momentum I’m currently experiencing for short stories will continue into the new year. Four doesn’t seem too ambitious! I was going to aim for six, but that was before I had the breakthrough with my novel.

Speaking of which…

  • Finish the first draft of Facing the Music

I took a four-month break from this WIP after getting too tangled up in the plot and not knowing where to go with it. This turned out to be the right decision, as I suddenly had a breakthrough while out at the circus in early December (the WIP is also set in a circus; there’s a reason I was thinking about it. It’s not that the show was boring).

The most exciting thing about this breakthrough is that I don’t have to change too much of the 90k I had already written. In fact, I’m going to pick up where I left off, and make the necessary changes to earlier parts of the story in the second draft.

Learning

  • Listen to two episodes of a writing or publishing podcast each week.

I have a few of these on my list, including Ingram Spark’s Go Publish Yourself and The First Time hosted by Katherine Collette and Kate Mildenhall.

  • Complete Ingram Spark’s self-publishing short courses (there are three and all take under 2 hours to complete)

I think this point is fairly self-explanatory.

  • Complete self-publishing course on Australian Writers Centre.

The courses through AWC are paid but I think this one will be worth it. It’s a self-paced online course. I want to get a variety of perspectives on this industry so that I can find common themes.

  • Complete at least one other short course on self-publishing/book design (e.g. through LinkedIn Learning)

I’ll do some research about what other courses are out there and see what I think. Happy to hear your recommendations! There’s a wonderful weekend-long bootcamp being run in Melbourne in April by self-publishing extraordinaire and wonderful YA author Ellie Marney, which I’m hoping to attend.

Publishing

  • Self-publish Operation: Sugarplum as an ebook once Christmas: Australis exclusivity period ends.
    • Commission cover
    • Marketing plan

After having the initial inspiration for this story back in 2013, and finally seeing it appear in an anthology in 2019, I’d love to have it out in the world on its own. This is the main reason I want to really start learning the craft properly.

  • Give A More Complicated Fairytale some love. 

I published A More Complicated Fairytale in 2016. Then I got it into my head that I needed to have other novels finished and published before I worried about any serious promotion, because there’s no point in just promoting one thing. It might have taken me nearly four years, but I’ve rid myself of that mindset. I did a 3-day free promotion in December and I have some more ideas for going forward.

  • Compile short stories that don’t get accepted elsewhere into my own collection  (if some do get accepted, maybe this could be pushed out until other exclusivity periods end).

    • Editing
    • Commission cover
    • Marketing plan

I mean, I’m putting this here, but it will depend on a lot of things. What I write, where else it might end up, exclusivity periods at those places, money for other required services for it… If I’m writing on the longer side of short story, then I thought about publishing each thing separately, but that would require more expense in terms of editing, cover, etc. So maybe a collection is the way to go.

Marketing

(myself and my books)

  • Start mailing list

I already have the MailChimp account set up, so it’s just a case of sitting down and learning the mechanics, then getting the word out. I can’t promise these monthly spiels will contain anything especially interesting, but I’ll try.

  • Set up author website

Watch out for emilywrayburn.com, coming soon! I mean, it’s basically going to be this blog, but I will change up the layout and the other pages and such a bit, and make it more obvious that I have books you can buy. Stuff like that.

It seems like a lot and to be honest, I probably won’t get all through all of this. But it’s a good set of goals to aim for and that’s what I’m doing. Aiming high.

I am yet to work out exactly how I’ll kep track on these. I don’t think I’ll be doing something like weekly check-ins. Maybe monthly? Or maybe something more like quarterly. I’m playing that part by ear a bit.

I know a lot of my writer friends and acquaintances have big years ahead of them in 2020 as well. Best of luck to you all and happy new year!

Sunday Summary – 01 December 2019 – One Month To Go

Here we are on the first of December, and only one month remaining of 2019.

Back in September, I wrote that I was going to focus on short fiction for the rest of the year, and to a point, I did that.

I outlined some sequels to my Christmas story, Operation: Sugarplum, and my intention was to work on those for NaNoWriMo. You can see some of my ROW80 updates as I planned for those. But I don’t know… maybe I hadn’t planned well enough. Maybe Sugarplum isn’t meant to be part of a series. Maybe they sequels need more planning or maybe I was trying to write too much each day.

Whatever it was, I was not happy with anything I was writing. I know that’s typical for NaNo, but having not done NaNo for a few years, this really reminded me why I’d started avoiding it. I already have a writing habit, a discipline, and I don’t really need to force myself to write huge amounts of words to get there. So NaNo got abandoned. Ah well.

Book cover for "South of the Sun"Back to short fiction. Halfway through November, I heard about an anthology being put together by the Australian Society of Fairytales. It’s called South of the Sun and the requirement for this anthology was to contribute something that could be considered an “Australian fairy tale”. I started playing around with some ideas about the bush and drew on my memories of training in our National Parks when I was preparing to trek in Nepal last year.

Next thing I knew, I had a 1500 wod short story about a lost and dyhdrated hiker who is helped back home by a kangaroo that may or may not actually exist. I worked it up a bit, and then sent it off to some friends, who gave some really helpful feedback. I spent this weekend working on a subsequent version that incorporated their feedback and is now 500 words longer (oops!) but still within the limits for the anthology (yay!).

I mentioned back in September that I wanted to come up with something for the Zodiac series of anthologies being produced by Aussie Speculative Fiction. I’m a Leo, so that was the sign I most wanted to write about. I always joke the reason I became a performer is because I’m a Leo and want to be in the spotlight. While I have only made a few notes on my idea for this submission so far, there will definitely be an element of over-dramatic actors who hog the limelight. And you know that it’s bad luck to perform in a theatre with no ghost, right? The Leo volume is not yet open to submissions, so I’ve got a little while to work on it.

And the third thing currently on my list is Once Upon A Hallowed Eve: An Anthology of Romantic Ghost Stories, because I already had an idea that will work quite well here. This is being produced by Once Upon Anthologies, and I love their whole idea of collections of romantic stories set around particular holiday or place.

I said in September I intended to return to my novels in January, but that was when I was forcing myself to take a break and just seeing where short fiction would take me. Now that I have some solid places to submit to and a couple of places with lists of others, I’m thinking I’m going to stay in this region a while longer. My novels aren’t going to run away.

One thing I’ve noticed with what I’ve written over the last six months is that I actually think I benefit from giving my stories an Australian background. I’ve always considered myself a fantasy writer but I do struggle with things like world-building. And of course, fantasy can just as easily be set in Australa as anywhere else. The Australian connection doesn’t have to be strong, but I think it helps me. So that’s something I’m definitely going to bear in mind (might make the novels troublesome).

This post has taken me most of the afternoon to write, so before I risk accidentally leaving it until December 02 to post, I’ll sign off.

How’s your writing going? Are you starting to think about writing related 2020 goals?

#WeWriWa // #8sunday 03 – November 10 2019

Welcome to Weekend Writing Warriors, where writers share 8-10 sentences from their WIP for from a current writing project, published or unpublished, then visit other participants and offer opinions, critiques, support.

I didn’t have much to share through October because I was in the midst of planning a couple of new projects, and not actually writing them. But I’m now doing a casual NaNoWriMo (1k a day) to write the sequels to Operation: Sugarplum, so as long as you excuse the very first draft-y nature, I’m happy to share some more with you. In this scene, Max has told Clara that there’s no room on the guest list but she can come to the launch of the company’s new VR game if she is willing to be on the company payroll just this once. It’s a new kids’ game so there are going to be a bunch of kids attending.

“What exactly would ‘kid wrangling’ entail?”

“Well, just making sure that they don’t eat too much. Break up any fights. I guess we might have to deal with motion sickness if they’ve never played much VR before.”

“So I’d have to clean up their vomit is what you’re saying?”

“No! Well, maybe. I guess just be handy with a sick bag…”

Clara giggled. “Max, I’d love to come.

You can read previous excerpts from this WIP under the Operation: Sugarplum tag.

Also, fyi, Operation: Sugarplum is included in Christmas Australis, an anthology of Australian Christmas stories, and it is launching tomorrow! Grab yourself a copy at the special pre-order price before it goes up to $3.99 on launch day.

See you all next week!

#ROW80 Update – November 16, 2019

Hello, and welcome to a Round of Words in 80 Days – the writing challenge that knows you have a life. If that sounds like your cup of tea, then you can find more information at the website.

First of all, a bit of pimping! Pre-order our Australian Christmas anthology! It comes out Monday! It has 8 amazing stories,  including Operation: Sugarplum, my modern-day retelling of The Nutcracker.

Here’s the cover reveal!

We’re having a Twitter launch party on Monday at 7pm Australian Eastern Daylight Savings Time… I have no idea what time that is for most of you. It may be small hours but join us if you can using hashtags #ChristmasAustralis and #FrighteninglyFestive.

Blogging fell by the wayside for a couple of weeks.  We’re nearly a week into NaNo now. I’m already making mental notes on how to improve the story in later drafts, and I should probably actually write those notes down somewhere. I’m really hopeful about this series.

I didn’t quite finish my outlines in as much detail as I’d hoped, but I’ve got enough to work with. Some things are changing as I write, but so far it’s mostly following along.

I’m consisitently writing about a thousand words a day, which will not see me win NaNo, but will hopefully see me write my two sequels to Operation: Sugarplum.

Excerpt? Yeah, let’s have an excerpt. Why not? In this section, Max has called Clara to ask if she’d like to help him test his ability to bring VR characters out of their game and into the real world. The Veritas, his VR system, is nearly live, but he’s got a bit of downtime before the launch.

“I’ve taken the next two weeks off. There’ll be a lot of media attention when the Veritas is released, so I want to be, you know, awake for it. Means I’ve actually got some spare time to muck around. And since you already know what I can do, I thought it might be easier if you could help me. Rather than me trying to explain everything to someone else.”

“Look, I’d be happy to. Just… I mean, I don’t want another Rat King coming after me. Can we make sure of that?”

“I’ll be using a game that has no villain yet. Anything I do pull out of the game will be harmless.”

“Famous last words…”

Indeed, Clara. Indeed.

Also, if you’re doing NaNoWriMo, come be my buddy!

See you next week!

Cover Reveal! Christmas Australis: A Frighteningly Festive Anthology of Spine-Jingling Tales

Hello everyone! I’ve got something a bit special today. For the first time in quite a while, some of my writing is going to be in a book! That you can buy!

Christmas Australis: A Frighteningly Festive Anthology of Spine-Jingling Tales brings together eight stories that reflect the Australian experience of Christmas: it’s summer here in December and we spend the 25th at the beach or under the air conditioner, gorging on seafood and lemonade.

Over the past few months, I’ve got to know some fantastic other Australian writers via our hashtag #6amAusWriters, and I’m super-proud to be included!

There’s something for everyone in Christmas Australis, whether you are a fan of contemporary stories, sci-fi, fantasy, or even steampunk!

And now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for! Here it is!

The fabulous cover was designed by Cassi Strachan at Creative Girl Tuesday. Thank you so much, Cassi!

The contributors are V. E. Patton, Darren Kasenkow, Emily Wrayburn (me!), Lyn Webster, Andrew Roff, Natasha O’Connor, Madeleine D’Este and Belinda Grant.

My story is called Operation: Sugarplum, and it’s a modern-day retelling of The Nutcracker. Here’s a bit about it.

Clara gets more than she bargained for when she plays a new virtual reality platform with boy-genius developer, Max Drosselmeier.

Suddenly virtual characters are coming after her in reality and the only way to stop them is to play the game to the end…

It’s a bit of this:

Combined with a bit of this:

To great effect if I do say so myself. 😉

You can find out more about the other stories on the Amazon Page.

You can pre-order now by clicking the button below for the special pre-order price of $3 US, before it bumps up to $3.99 US on release day, November 11.  And don’t forget to add it to your GoodReads TBR shelf!

#ROW80 Update – 16 October

Hello, and welcome to a Round of Words in 80 Days – the writing challenge that knows you have a life. If that sounds like your cup of tea, then you can find more information at the website.

I shared my goals post last week but due to various things, never actually shared it anywhere. So here’s a link.

So how did I go on this first week?

The plan: 

Brainstorm Beauty and the Beast retelling from beginning to end.

Result: 

Ehhh… Yeah, kinda. Actually, I got myself all angsty about this and so there were a couple of days where I didn’t write at all.

I can actually see myself making the same mistakes I’ve made before. I have discovered that I work best when I have a small cast of characters and not too many scenes. With Operation: Sugarplum, my breakthrough was realising I could ignore a whole section of the original story and still have a recognisable retelling of The Nutcracker.

I think that’s what I need to do with Beauty and the Beast. A “beast” of some kind who asks a question every night and is told no, possibly invisible servants… enough to give the gist, and then put my own spin on it.

This morning I started outlining to see where that takes me, rather than trying to figure everything out in a brainstorming session. The change of tack was good, and I feel better about it now.

Coming week’s goals: 

  • Outline the Beauty and the Beast retelling.
  • Expand the outline for the Sleeping Beauty story (fill in additional scenes , add more detail)

The Sleeping Beauty story outline has not even been typed up yet, so I’m sure it will evolve as I get it onto the computer.

Also, if you’re doing NaNoWriMo, come be my buddy!

See you next week!

#ROW80 Belated Goals Post and An Update

Now that WIPpet Wednesday is no more and I am sharing WIP excerpts on Sundays, I thought perhaps I might be able to find the time to rejoin ROW80 properly. ROW80 is short for A Round of Words in 80 Days, and you can read more about how it works at the ROW80 site.

Round 4 started last week, I think? And I intended to have a goals post ready and everything, but last week got busy. I talked a little in my September 01 post about how I wanted to work on shorter works for the rest of the year, because I needed some distance from my novels. That is still my plan, though what I intend to work on has changed slightly.

I mentioned in that post that I had completed Operation: Sugarplum for an Aussie Christmas anthology. Another contributor put the idea in my head to write some sequels, and I’ve got at least two in the works. I’m thinking maybe a series of five novellas might be nice? I also signed up for NaNoWriMo to write them. I’m not really aiming for 50k, unless they end up being longer than expected. I just want the community and incentive.

So! With that in mind, I’m going to set out some goals for the next six weeks or so. Bearing in mind I generally sit down to write for between half an hour and an hour every day at 6am. So that is when I’ll be doing this stuff. The dates aren’t fixed, of course, and things will probably overlap, lead into the following time. But it gives me something to work torwards!

Oct 10 – 13

Brainstorm Beauty and the Beast retelling from beginning to end.

Oct 14 – 20

– Outline the Beauty and the Beast retelling.

– Expand the outline for the Sleeping Beauty story (fill in additional scenes , add more detail)

Oct 21 – 27

– Expand the Beauty and the Beast retelling (fill in additional scenes, add more detail)

Oct 28 – 31

– make any last-minute additions, complete any of the above not already done.

– set up Scrivener file/s.

– make some graphics/aethestics.

– If all else fails, make Pinterest boards. 😂 (It has recently been brought to my attention that Pinterest has updated and improved in the years since I last used it and now I am actively resisting it again).

***

Nov 1 – 30

– Write, write, write!

– Stop and brainstorm again when necessary. Include it in the word count.

– Stay hydrated. Don’t stress about word counts.

– Attend one writing group or NaNo social event each week.

***

And after that, who knows! I’ll write something about that closer to the time. See you all soon!

#WeWriWa // #8sunday 02 – 29 September 2019

 

Welcome to Weekend Writing Warriors, where writers share 8-10 sentences from their WIP for from a current writing project, published or unpublished, then visit other participants and offer opinions, critiques, support.

Thank you for the warm welcome last week! I can tell I will enjoy being part of this community! I’m once again sharing from my modern-day retelling of The Nutcracker. Max is introducing Clara to the new virtual reality system his company has been developing.

He turned back to the suite in front of him.

“This is the Veritas,” he continued. “It’s been a long time coming.”

Clara smirked and raised her eyebrows. “You called your virtual reality platform ‘truth’?”

Max seemed pleased that she had known the meaning of the word. “I liked the irony,” he said and motioned to one of the lounges. “Have a seat.”

You can read previous excerpts from this WIP under the Operation: Sugarplum tag.

See you all next week!

#WeWriWa // #8sunday 01 – 22 September 2019

*pokes head in the door*

Hello?

Since I decided to retire the WIPpet Wednesday blog hop this week, I was looking for something similar where writers share excerpts from their WIPs. Weekend Writing Warriors seemed to fit the bill. I’m 14 hours ahead of EST but I’m fairly confident I’ve got the timing right.

For WeWriWa, writers share 8-10 sentences from their WIP for from a current writing project, published or unpublished. Then we visit other participants and offer opinions, critiques, support.

Lately, I’ve been sharing from my current Christmas WIP, Operation: Sugarplum. I thought I’d continue in that vein. This story is a modern-day retelling of The Nutcracker, with virtual reality games taking the place of physical toys. It’s in revisions at the moment, and will be included in an upcoming Australian Christmas anthology called Christmas Australis. Watch this space for more info on that!

You can see the excerpts I’ve shared recently via the WIPpet Wednesday tag.

This scene is early on in the story. Clara has wrangled an invitation to the Drosselmeier Industries Christmas party to meet developer, Max Drosselmeier.

“Through that way, Ms Steele,” [the security guard] said, pointing to a large set of double doors. Behind it, Clara could hear music and chatter. She pushed open the door and entered a dim room. There were musicians on a stage up the far end, but the music was intended clearly for atmosphere. There was no dance floor and the players kept the volume low.

There were Christmas trees dotted along the walls, with sparkly baubles and loads of tinsel. Sprigs of mistletoe dotted the corners of the room and formed the centrepieces on the tables. The tables were tall and had no seats, but empty glasses were already being left on some of them as guests went to mingle elsewhere.

Since description is generally not my strong point, I invite any all comments you may have. Looking forward to meeting you on your own blogs!

#WIPpet Wednesday – September 18, 2019

Hello and welcome to WIPpet Wednesday, a blog hop wherein writers share an excerpt from their current WIP that somehow relates to the date.

This is a bit bittersweet but I’ve come to a decision regarding WIPpet Wednesday. Our numbers have been dwindling for a long time, and for a while now it’s been three of us at the most participating. There are plenty of perfectly valid reasons for this of course, and I am not holding it against anyone. Half the time I don’t even end up posting anything lately.

But all that is to say that I’ve decided to wrap up the official blog hop. After this week, I will close the linky. My first WIPpet Wednesday post was six years ago, back on my old blog, on March 6, 2013. I’m not sure when I took over hosting from Kathi Schwengel, but ever since then I’ve had a weekly alert in my phone for 8pm Tuesday night, reminding me to set things up for the following day.

There are other similar blog hops out there, and I plan on investigating those. I encourage anyone here to do the same so we can keep sharing and encouraging each other.

Operation: Sugarplum banner showing a castle morphing out of a phone.

This is kind of cheesy, but since this is my last WIPpet (by that name, anyway; I’m sure there will be other excerpts shared on the blog), here are the last few lines of Operation: Sugarplum. It’s only 17 sentences, not 18, but that’s close enough. David is Clara’s younger brother. Marie is their mother.

Marie returned with glasses of wine on a tray and handed them out. Max held out his glass and Clara clinked hers against it.

“Merry Christmas,” she said.

“I got you a Christmas present,” Max said, leaning down to retrieve a gift bag that sat near his foot. Clara looked inside and saw a stuffed toy rat. She let out a loud laugh and pulled it out to show people. Her parents and brother looked confused. She shrugged.

“Kind of an inside joke, I guess,” she said.

David looked between Clara and Max, his expression envious. He’d already been jealous that Clara had met Max and he hadn’t been able to. A burgeoning friendship was possibly the last straw.

“You two… have inside jokes now?” he asked.

Clara gave Max a small smile and he smiled back. She nodded at David.

“Yeah,” she said. “Something like that.”

Thanks for all the love and support over the years! And I hope I’ll still see you all around. 💜💜