4Q22 Update and 2023 Goals

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I started seeing people post (on Twitter) their year-end writing numbers early in December. It seemed a little premature. There was so much time left! I understand the excitement of sharing one’s accomplishments (*cough* this blog), but hold your horses people. I’m glad I did. Having to quarantine with the family over the holidays due to an illness led to a late surge in submissions, two new flash stories, and lots of reading time. I also received a shortlist notice with mere hours to spare on New Years Eve. I’m glad I was awake (for a change) for that one! Here are the full numbers for 4Q22.

  • Words written = 17,347
  • Submissions = 36
  • Rejections = 33
  • Acceptances = 4
  • Shortlists = 1
  • Publications = 4
  • Rewrites = 0
  • Withdrawals = 0

Those quarterly numbers are pretty good. Fourth highest number of words written. Fourth highest number of submissions. Third highest number of rejections. Most importantly, highest number of acceptances and publications in a quarter!

As is typical (for me) in the 4th quarter, the bulk of the quarter’s writing (about 17k) went to the middle grade novel I wrote during NaNoWriMo. The rest consisted of additions to two existing stories, a new sci fi poem (my first!), and those two flash stories mentioned above, one of which was a tribute to my paternal grandmother, who passed early last year. Probably like most writers, I thought the best way I could honor her was to include her in a story. The story idea came to me on Christmas night after we missed the Christmas dinner gathering at her house due to the quarantining. I started writing it on my phone the next morning while my daughters played on the beach (this was in Florida, though it was still cold) and finished it that afternoon while the kids watched TV. I love it when a story comes together that quickly, and I think my grandmother would have liked it too.

Now, let’s look at 2022 as a whole.

  • Words written = 32,473
  • Submissions = 129
  • Rejections = 104
  • Acceptances = 7
  • Shortlists = 1
  • Publications = 6
  • Rewrites = 0
  • Withdrawals = 2

Those numbers are a mixed bag. The second lowest number of words but the highest number of submissions, acceptances, and publications. And one of those acceptances/publications resulted from third place in the Virginia Writers Club’s 2023 Golden Nib Writing Contest in the nonfiction category. November and December were so busy that I haven’t even blogged about that yet. My first goal of 2023!

Whether I achieved my goals for 2022 also was a mixed bag. 100 submissions. Check. Averaging one acceptance a quarter. Check. 40,000 words written. *crickets chirping* Even though I haven’t written 40k in a year since 2018, it always seems feasible. I either need to accept that it isn’t for me at this time in my life, or try something different. Another 2023 goal! While I did let go of one volunteer position in 2022, I took on two more with my younger daughter joining her older sister in Girl Scouts. I’m hoping to jettison one of my other two Girl Scout volunteer roles in 2023. That, at least, will free up a little more time in the autumn.

My goals for specific projects in 2022 turned out pretty well. I finished a draft of the WIP started during NaNoWriMo 2021. A friend and I finished the short story we had started years before and sent that off in response to a submission calling for co-written works. And I wrote, and fired off, several more stories. Though not a goal, I expanded and/or shortened several stories to enlarge the pool of markets those stories qualified for. That met with remarkable success. Several of my acceptances last year stemmed from these changes.

The goal I didn’t achieve was taking another pass through my first middle grade manuscript and possibly getting that off to an editor. That was intentional. I decided last year that first manuscript would be the first of three, the third of which I wouldn’t write the first draft of until NaNoWriMo. Only then, after all three were drafted, would I revise the trilogy together and get the lot off to an editor. Another goal!

That leaves my goals for 2023. I’ve already mentioned three. I’d like to continue my Behind the Stories series of blogs about stories that have been accepted. I’d like to complete a first edit of my third middle grade manuscript. Then, I’d like to fix any consistency issues in the first two middle grade manuscripts and get all three off to a developmental editor.

On the short story front, I like my usual 100 submissions goal, though that may be a little harder to achieve this year due to another goal taking many of my stories out of circulation. I’d like to finally publish my first short story collection. I’ve already come up with the theme and compiled the stories. I’d like to get this off to a line/copy editor for a final polish. While that’s in process, I want to learn how to format the book and design the cover. No biggie. I consider this good practice for when I eventually publish the middle grade trilogy.

What bout the all-important words written goal? I’m not sure about this one. I could set it at 40k again and likely fall short. Various stories throughout the year will chip away at that total, but I’m not sure I’ll participate in NaNoWriMo. I have an idea for the start of a new middle grade series, but I’m not sure I want jump into that yet with my other middle grade series still in its relative infancy. I could instead spend NaNoWriMo 2023 doing a thorough edit of my existing middle grade series. A friend did something similar during NaNoWriMo 2022. Instead of writing new material, she set a goal of spending 50 hours in November fixing (i.e. editing and untangling plot lines) what she had as far as a manuscript for the fourth (and possibly fifth) books in her existing series. What the heck, I’ll set my words goal at 36,000. That’s 3k a month. Let’s do this.

That’s looking back at 2022 and looking forward to 2023. How’d you do, and what will you do this year?

NaNoWriMo Recap 2022

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Another NaNoWriMo is in the books, literally. This is the fifth year I’ve participated, but only the second year I’ve been successful (mostly). Let me explain.

As many of you know, the goal of NaNoWriMo is to write 50,000 words in November, essentially a short novel. I’m never going to be able to write that much. I get maybe an hour a day to write. At 500-800 words an hour, which is my usual speed, you can see the math doesn’t add up.

My goal for the last three years has been to finish the first draft of a middle grade book. The first two of these wound up in the 15,000-20,000 word range. Now that is doable for me during November.

This year I achieved that goal, for the most part. Technically, I didn’t finish the first draft of this year’s middle grade book until this morning. It turned out I only needed another 200 words to finish. I’ll count that as a success.

I averaged 517 words a day during November, and the manuscript sits at 15,718 words currently. I find I don’t often need to cut large chunks from my WIPs. Instead, I often need to flesh out the word building. I already know this is true for this WIP. I’m guess I’ll add a couple of thousand more words when editing the first draft.

Once I’ve finished that first edit, it’ll be on to my first reader for these middle grade books — my oldest daughter. In the past, I read each chapter to her as I finished writing it during November, and then she read the entire book herself after I’d completed a first edit. This year she wanted to wait to read the entire manuscript once I finished. I think she really wanted to spend the time writing her on story during NaNoWriMo, which she did. She got down 3633 words. Not bad for an 8 year old. She says she has a long way to go. I hope she keeps going.

Whether you officially participated, unofficially participated, or did your own thing, how’d your NaNoWriMo go?

2Q22 Update

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It’s that time again, writers, readers, and everyone in between. How were my writing and submission exploits during the second quarter of 2022? Read on!

Words written = 5,026
Submissions = 24
Rejections = 21
Acceptances = 1
Shortlists/Holds = 0
Publications = 0
Rewrites = 0
Withdrawals = 0

If you think this looks a lot like my first quarter, you’re spot on. This time around I wrote 1500 words more, had three fewer submissions but three more rejections, and had one fewer acceptance. I’ll take the status quo at this point. It’s better than a regression.

It was an interesting quarter for two reasons. First, those 5000 words were not attributable to any new works. All 5000 were additions to existing works. About half went to finishing (finally!) my WIP middle grade novel that I started during last year’s NaNoWriMo. That’s how close I was before getting sidetracked. Another quarter went to finishing a story I’ve been collaborating on with a friend. We’ve been working on this story for years, but life kept getting in the way. The irony is, after all that work, we need to cut it down by about half to fit under the word limit for a submissions call specifically requesting collaborative works. The last quarter of my quarterly word count went to expanding three other stories.

The second interesting thing about the quarter pertains to where my submissions were as June 30 approached. About a week out, I sat at 12. Thanks to a bit of luck as to what markets were open and a bit of free time, I was able to double that to squeeze in a respectable 24 submissions.

The one acceptance was by the Virginia Writers Club Journal. I’m a member of both the Virginia Writers Club, where I currently serve as Recording Secretary, and its Northern Virginia chapter, where I currently serve as Vice President. In the past, the state club’s journal didn’t have much in the way of acceptance standards for works submitted by members. However, this year, that changed. A new editorial board was installed and now includes editors tasked with raising the bar for works accepted for publication. I’m pleased one of mine made the cut. I’ll, of course, share publication details once released.

From a writing standpoint, I’m both excited and a little scared by this quarter. On the one hand, I’ve been using my runs to plot my next middle grade novel, which I’ll write during this year’s NaNoWriMo. It’s going well. I have most of the plot mapped out, maybe needing only 2-3 more scenes. Also, the family and I are going on vacation. I’m hoping the lack of reliable internet and it being the summer will leave me time in the evenings to write rather than catch up on work.

In addition, yesterday, I submitted to the Virginia Writers Club’s Golden Nib writing contest. As the president of my local chapter the last three years, I was not eligible to submit to this contest. Now that I’ve taken a step back, I am pleased to be able to submit again. Hopefully, the story I chose stands up to the competition better than my submissions several years ago. The judges of this competition over the years have not favored genre work, which is pretty much all I write. Maybe I’ll throw in a poem for something different.

The scary part is I’m not sure what to work on. I have one idea for a short story and another for a flash story. These have been bouncing around in my head for awhile, but I’ve never felt the urge to write them. Maybe it’s time I get them on the screen. There’s no sense waiting for lightning to strike.

That’s it for those three months. How’d your quarter turn out? Any writing triumphs or failures?

1Q22 Update

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I’m a little late on this. I’m not going to lie. The first quarter of this year was tough, probably tougher than any quarter the last two years and those involved a global pandemic. An extended family member passed away; one of my kids was out of daycare for nearly a month, reeking havoc on work and family life, and I ended up in the hospital briefly. Still, it could have been worse. I could live in a country that was invaded and now lays in ruins while its people continue to fight off the foreign aggressor. It sounds like a great story idea if it weren’t so sad and too soon. Still, I am a horror writer now, so maybe there is an idea to be mined there.

Let’s move on to happier thoughts, if my minimal writing exploits can be considered happy.

Words written = 3,509
Submissions = 27
Rejections = 18
Acceptances = 2
Shortlists/Holds = 0
Publications = 1
Rewrites = 0
Withdrawals = 2

I wish I had brought my laptop to the hospital. For those of you who have had the pleasure, you know there is lots of downtime. I could have gotten some more writing in. Most of those words this quarter went toward the current middle-grade sequel WIP. I also managed to sneak a new flash story in there and add to an existing story in an attempt to raise its words to drabble length. For those not in the know, a drabble is an exactly 100 word story. Yes, I took a 50 word “dribble” and increased it to a 100 word “drabble.” That drabble wasn’t accepted, but that same market accounted for one of my two acceptances discussed below.

The two acceptances last quarter were appreciated. One I discussed here. Alien Dimensions #22 contained my story “Field Log.” I’m still pleased that story found a home. It was difficult writing a “found footage” story, so I am glad an editor appreciated the effort.

I was pleased with the second acceptance, as well, which was the drabble market mentioned above. The story itself also was an experimental piece. Titled “Agenda,” it is told in the form of a meeting agenda. Plenty of markets ask for experimental forms, and I’ve seen plenty of stories told in the form of lists, which I enjoy. This was my attempt at something similar but different. Oddly, the story clocked in around 160 words, but to qualify for the market that accepted it, I needed to get it down to 100 words. That was another challenge altogether. When the publication date is released, I’ll share the details.

I also oddly had two withdrawals. One was a mere oversight. A certain publication had a lengthy submission window. Toward the end of that window I submitted a story forgetting that I’d submitted a different story at the beginning of the window. The submission guidelines clearly state multiple submissions are not allowed. Always read and reread the submission guidelines!

The second withdrawal was more bittersweet. I had submitted a collection of short stories for a book contest that I qualified for and that only comes around every two years. A story in that collection fit a market perfectly, the submission window for which opened a little after I had submitted the short story collection. I submitted a sim sub and went about my day, but then the standalone story was accepted! I spent days agonizing over whether to withdraw the short story collection, trying to determine if the exclusivity period for the short story would expire before the winners of the book contest were announced. The numbers didn’t add up. I hate math. Otherwise, I have no regrets. “Field Log” found the perfect home, and I can submit my short story collection in another two years.

What goals do I have for the current quarter? I already added 1000 words to the middle grade WIP. I’m maybe a scene and a half from finishing that book. I plan to complete the first draft, give it a good edit, and then have my oldest daughter read it while on vacation over the summer. She’s the right age group, so it’s great to get appropriate feedback.

Of course, I will continue submitting – always be submitting! I’d also like to finish a short story a friend and I started years ago. Such is life. Finally, I want to brainstorm the book I’ll write during this year’s NaNoWriMo. I have the germ of an idea for a story set between the two middle grade books I wrote the last two years during NaNoWriMo. Now all I need is some good running time before November to hash out the plot.

That was my first quarter of 2022. Let me know in the comments how yours went.

4Q21 Update and 2022 Goals

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It’s time to see how I closed out 2021 and then check in on how I did for the entire year. I also failed to provide my annual NaNoWriMo recap last month, so I’m tossing that in here too.

  • Words written = 16,100
  • Submissions = 24
  • Rejections = 17
  • Acceptances = 0
  • Shortlists = 0
  • Publications = 0
  • Rewrites = 0
  • Withdrawals = 0

The amount written was significantly higher during the fourth quarter, which has been typical for me the last several years thanks to the NaNoWriMo bump. The submissions were only a couple off my usual of 25-30 during a quarter. Rejections matched that of 1Q. Based on my numbers last year, editors plow through submissions during 2Q and 3Q but took it easy the other two quarters. Most disappointing was the lack of an acceptance during the fourth quarter. That torpedoed my goal of at least one acceptance a quarter.

The bulk of the quarter’s writing (about 15k) went to the middle grade novel I started for NaNoWriMo. It’s a sequel to the one I wrote during last year’s challenge. Unlike last year, I didn’t finish; and I still haven’t finished. December came, and all those things I had put off in November to write came home to roost. I did manage to crank out three flash (or shorter) pieces, two of which in the last week of December while on vacation. Even so, my vacation wasn’t as productive as usual. Something else to work on in the new year.

So how do the numbers for all of 2021 look?

  • Words written = 24,725
  • Submissions = 108
  • Rejections = 97
  • Acceptances = 3
  • Shortlists = 1
  • Publications = 3
  • Rewrites = 1
  • Withdrawals = 1

The numbers don’t lie. My volume of writing was pitiful. At least I kept up with submissions, and once again cracked the 100 mark. I came close to that mark with rejections as well, but I have less control over that number. Three acceptances/publications isn’t terrible for me, but every writer wants more.

I don’t plan to make many adjustments as far as my 2022 goals. I’d like to hit 100 submissions again. I already submitted one yesterday. 99 to go. On the flip side, I already received my first rejection of 2022. I’d also like to average one acceptance a quarter. Acceptance droughts are never pleasant.

As for words written, that’s a tough one. My total has decreased every year since a high in 2018 (my first full year of writing). I’m going for it and setting a 40,000 word goal. One of my three volunteer positions ends this month, so I’m hoping that will free up a little time. Now if only the day job would cooperate.

By way of specific projects, I intend to finish the WIP started during this year’s NaNoWriMo, as well as a short story I’ve been co-writing with a friend that took the back burner last year. I’d also like to complete another pass through my first middle grade novel and maybe get that professionally edited before starting the whole querying process. And, of course, fire out various short stories. Fresh stories always means more submissions.

How productive was your fourth quarter and 2021? What writing goals have you set for 2022? Let me know in the comments.