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?

3Q22 Update

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It’s that time of year again. Yes, the Halloween decorations need to go up. Yes, the decorative gourds need to be put out. Oh, and I should provide an update on my writing progress during the third quarter.

Words written = 6,591
Submissions = 42
Rejections = 32
Acceptances = 0
Shortlists/Holds = 0
Publications = 1
Rewrites = 0
Withdrawals = 0

Those numbers on the top look amazing. Outside of a quarter with NaNoWriMo, I haven’t written that much in ages. Even more impressive, only about 1700 words of that were additions to existing stories, which has been where a lot of my writing has gone this year. Instead, I actually wrote 5 new stories – 4 flash and 1 short story. I had an awesome vacation in August to thank. Not only did the family go out west to see some amazing national parks, but work left me alone enough that I could write in the evenings rather than catching up on things.

Also, that submission total is one shy of my all time quarterly record. I’m basically sneezing distance from reaching my goal of 100 submissions this year already.

On the other hand, the big fat zero in the Acceptances column hurts. While I still have 3 acceptances on the year, thus meeting my one acceptance per quarter goal, that zero in the Acceptances column looms large. Thankfully, a ton of markets opened to submission as of October 1, and I’ve already fired off 5 this month. I just need one to hit to meet my acceptances goal.

The sole publication snuck in at the end of the quarter in the Virginia Writers Club Journal. I wrote about that here including the inspiration for the story. If you like humorous science fiction or are a fan of dad jokes in general, give it a read. You won’t be disappointed.

Now it’s time to look forward to an exciting time of the year. Yes, there is Halloween, then Thanksgiving, and then Christmas (at least in my household), and I love all three of those holidays. But the 4th quarter also means NaNoWriMo in November. I already know the book I plan to write, and I’ve been plotting it in my head all year. Honestly, I thought I’d have the entire book mapped out by now, but there are still a couple scenes missing. If past experience is a guide, those will come to me while writing what I’ve already got.

I’m excited. The book I plan to write during NaNoWriMo is the third in a middle grade series, the first two of which I wrote during NaNoWriMo 2020 and 2021. Chronologically, this one will be the second in the series. It’s just how things have worked out. Next year I plan to have them professionally edited, and then I plan to make the tough decision of whether to query agents or move directly to self publishing. I’m sure I’ll be blogging about that next year.

The only goal I’m worried about for the 4th quarter is finishing my NaNoWriMo middle grade book. Last year, I got a great start during NaNoWriMo but didn’t finish the first draft until the calendar rolled over to 2022. This year, I’d like to finish the first draft in November. If I can do that and then give it a very rough first edit before the Christmas break, my first reader for these middle grade books (my 8 year old daughter) can read it over the holiday break.

That was my July – August 2022. How’d yours 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.

International Publication

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I am pleased to announce the next publication of one of my stories. “Field Log” will appear in Alien Dimensions #22. The ebook version will be released February 22 and is available for pre-order on Amazon here.

For some reason, I have it my head that this anthology series originates in Australia. That’s international to me as I sit on my couch in the United States. However, with the internet, aren’t all publications pretty much international these days? (*Stop stealing my thunder, Rational Self!*)

I’d wanted to submit to this anthology series for some time. It has exceptionally specific submission guidelines as to its content. The editor wants stories involving aliens in a futuristic setting. Nothing should be set on Earth, unless that version of Earth is unrecognizable, and the story should be adventurous and fun.

Luckily for me, I had such a story. I wrote it three years ago and had submitted it to a couple publications but with no takers. I suspected my story would fit this market well, with one exception. For the longest time, the maximum length in the submission guidelines was lower than what my story clocked in at. I thought about doing a little cutting but ultimately decided, in this case, it would do the story a disservice. (Trust me, I don’t always think that with my work. I have found on several occasions that having to cut a story down to meet a submission criteria has benefited the story.)

Finally, my patience paid off. The editor upped the maximum story length. I was in business! Thankfully, the editor agreed that “Field Log” was a good fit for the anthology.

This was a challenging story to write. First, the story involves a human interacting with members of two alien species. The idea for the alien species came from a couple science articles I read in the newspaper. So some of their stranger characteristics are taken from actual animals here on Earth.

Second, the story is in the “found footage” genre. Think The Blair Witch Project. It is told solely through what is seen in a series of recordings. While I typically write in close third-person or third-person limited, I had never written something that completely eliminated the narrator. I enjoyed the challenge but probably will not repeat it.

I am excited to start the year off with a great publication. I hope there are more to come, and I hope you will check out Alien Dimensions #22.