Sunday, December 31, 2023

My December Project Is DONE

Anna-Louise on Pexels
 I just finished my December project, which involved starting a new short-form writing piece every single day. Yup, that's right. It included Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and today, New Year's Eve.

I did that after finishing my November revision for NaNoWriMo. 

Sure, it would have been gratifying to finish a year with a new publication or some agent interest. But these two months involved working and staying on task, two things I'm very fond of, so I am embracing that and am pumped about the new year.

Hey, New Year's Day--that's a new temporal landmark.

By the way, I am aware that I'm bragging, but my December 29th start is called Pride Doesn't Last and, if completed, will be about how, yes, pride doesn't last. So does that make it less of a deadly sin? Hmm. I should go add that question to my notes.

Tomorrow is a holiday, and I've got it off!!!! 

Time to start New Year's Eve's dinner.

Tuesday, December 26, 2023

Time Management Tuesday: The 2023 Recapitulation Post

It appears that I didn't do a recapitulation post for 2022, which makes sense because I was suffering trials and tribulations and disappeared from Original Content for a while. But things are much better this year.

So this is the tenth time over eleven years that I've done what I call a recapitulation post.  My whole recapitulation thing was inspired by an article called Out With the Old by the late Sally Kempton in Yoga Journal, which I can no longer find on-line. But Kempton wrote about recalling "things we'd accomplished," "changes," and "conflict," all of which seemed to me back in 2012 to be things that would be useful in planning for a new unit of time. The very next month, I used my first recapitulation post to make goals and objectives for 2013, and the two events--the recapitulation posts and the time-to-make-the-goals-and-objectives posts--have been tied together ever since.

So this year's recapitulation post is all about how I did with this year's goals and objectives. Goals, remember, are what you plan to do. Objectives are what you are actually going to do to achieve your goals.

What did I do this year?

Goal 1. Finish 143 Canterbury Road As An Adult Book

  • I won't go over all the objectives for this, because I met this goal. Got a technical reader to read it and even did another draft during National Novel Writers' Month. 

Goal 2. Work On Adult Essays, Short Stories, And Humor


  • Complete and submit something every month to a Medium publication I made 14 Medium submissions, which averages out to more than one a month, though I'm not doing the reading to see if I managed this on a monthly basis. I had 7 acceptances, which is one more than last year. However, this year I didn't get anything accepted off the Medium platform. But I had my most successful Medium publication to date, so there's that.
  • Revise some short stories and essays, preparing them for publication. I think I did that with one piece, which did end up being published at a Medium publication.
  • Increase my reading of both traditional and on-line journals--market research. Yeeees, though I could have done more.
  • Spend more time with flash and essay Facebook groups. No, I just can't seem to get to that.
Goal 3. Revise An Adult Manuscript Called Good Women
  • Again, I will not go through all the objectives, because I met the goal.
Goal 4. Submit Adult Books To Agents
  • Submitted Good Women to a number of agents. Is anything truly a waste of time?
Goal 5. Community Building/General Marketing/Branding
  • Provide social media support for adult writers and continue supporting children's writers when appropriate, which means when the spirt moves me. Can always do more of this.
  • Attend virtual events for adult writers, fewer for children's writers. Again, can always do more.
  • Attend workshops for adult writing. Yup.
  • Use NetGalley to support authors with new books publishing this year. This didn't work out that well this year.
  • Continue promoting Original Content at Facebook communities, Goodreads blog, and X. Not making good use of that Goodreads blog, though I love keeping track of my reading there.
Overall, I made 31 submissions this year, both short-form writing and novels. That's one submission less than last year.

Next week I will use what I accomplished, and didn't accomplish, this year to plan what I'll do in 2024.

Saturday, December 23, 2023

Some Christmas Reading

Annie Spratt on Unsplash
 I am sure that two days before Christmas, you have nothing to do but sit down with some Christmas reading. It turns out, I have a Christmas essay and a Christmas adjacent short story among my publications for you to kick back with.

A Minimalist's Christmas at The Bigger Picture

The Mother Suite at Literary Mama

Also, if you happen to own a copy of My Life Among the Aliens, there's a chapter there called Santa is an Alien? that I've considered republishing somehow for Christmas.

Friday, December 22, 2023

Done List For December 22

I'm still keeping up with work, though there's been illness here since the Sunday before Thanksgiving and someone, not me, is still recovering from community acquired pneumonia, which sounds fancy, doesn't it? Only nine more days, and I'll have made it to the end of the month.

Goal 2. Work on Adult Short Stories, Essays, and Humor

  • I had planned to start something short every day in December, and I've made it this far, meaning I've done that every day this week.

Goal 3. Submit Adult Work to Agents

  • The plan for this month was to take names of agents to whom I could submit after the first of the year. Not going well with that this week. I've done a little research but not much in the way of taking names.

Goal 6. Community Building/General Marketing/Branding

  • I've managed two blog posts, three counting this one, and did a little promotion of one of them.

Wednesday, December 20, 2023

How Likely Is This To Happen?

 Five Years and 2M Copies a fascinating story about a successful self-published author. J.M. Dalgliesh just landed a contract with a traditional publisher after writing and self-publishing twenty-two books in five years while serving as the primary caregiver for two children. My guess is that that traditional publisher is attracted by the large number of fans Dalgleish has acquired over the years...on his own.

These are the kinds of stories that lead so many people into self-publishing, most of whom don't get this result. I think that's because this great story misses something Dalgliesh did.

In order to write twenty-two books in five years, he had to be working incredibly hard. On top of that, he published twenty-two books himself. That's time consuming and requires some effort. And then he marketed twenty-two books himself. Even if he hired help for any of that, he had to find the help and interact with them. And while he was doing all that, he was caring for children. Please don't assume that this guy had nothing to do but write and publish, because he was home with kids.

Dalgliesh deserves a lot of respect for what he did. We absolutely should not assume that just anyone could do it.

Tuesday, December 19, 2023

I Could Get Inside One Of Shirley Jackson's Homes

A couple of days ago, I learned that one of Shirley Jackson's homes in North Bennington, Vermont is now a bakery, Moon Scones. It is not the house I walked by during my personal Shirley Jackson Bennington Tour back in 2015. If only I'd known this second house existed when I was there! 

Now there is a business in Jackson's second home, the bakery I just mentioned. I could make another trip to the Bennington area and actually get inside this house, the one Kathye Fetsko Petrie says Jackson bought with money from her writing.

However, it's a bakery, and I don't eat gluten. 

Woe, huh?

Here's something to mull over--Fetsko Petrie says Jackson bought the Moon Scones house with money she made writing Life Among the Savages, one of her mom memoirish books, not the books she is famous for now. Is Netflix ever going to turn Life Among the Savages into a series the way it did The Haunting of Hill House? Probably not.

But maybe it should. 

Friday, December 15, 2023

Friday Done List For December 15

My office in December
By this time last year, I had thrown in the towel and given up on work. That could still happen. December is always a bad month for us, and two of us here are just finishing an upper respiratory "thing," as it is. That seems as if we might be safe until the end of the year, but I can't be sure about what's going on in the extended family.

This past week I did continue with my daily story starts and did some more agent research for next year. I've got a nice list of reading to tell you about, but can't remember what I did yesterday instead of posting about it. 

I have reason to believe I'll be more under control next week.

Friday, December 08, 2023

Friday Done List For December 8

Goal 2: Work on Adult Essays, Short Stories, and Humor

  • Got 6 new pieces started this week, one for each day of the week. Right on track.

Goal 3: Submit Adult Work to Agents

  • I'm only planning to collect names this month. I did minimal searching this week.

Goal 6: Community Building/General Marketing/ Branding

  • I blogged five days in a row this week, the most intense blogging I've done in years. Don't expect it to last.
  • Additionally, I did a little marketing of blog posts at Facebook and X.

Thursday, December 07, 2023

Some Annotated Reading December 7

This week's annotated reading is all short form.

Pool of Souls by Madeline Graham at Redivider   One of my favorite things about flash fiction is that it can pack an intense emotional wallop that longer works can't. Pool of Souls definitely packs a wallop.

Flash fiction sometimes gets a little mystical, which I'm not as fond of as I am intensity. We Don't Want Kids by Catherine Roberts at Flash Frog has enough intensity to offset whatever mystical thing might be going on, so I found it satisfying.

Facebook friend Sherrida Woodley just published Me and Amelia Earhart at Halfway Down the Stairs. This is not flash, but a memoirish piece and some very elegant writing. Check out the first paragraph, if nothing else. 

What Happened When the U.S. Failed to Prosecute an Insurrentionist Ex-President by Jill Lepore in The New Yorker. (I have a digital subscription this year.) I read this because I love Jill Lepore. I own two of her books, one being a big history of the United States that I carry in the car to take into any place where I might have to wait. I read it when it's someone else's turn to drive. Lepore is a regular contributor to The New Yorker, so I have a lot of reading to do. I have to admit that I got lost in all the people involved in whether or not Jefferson Davis would be prosecuted, but there was still a lot of terrific material here. I'm the kind of nonfiction reader who takes what she can take and doesn't grieve the rest.

Wednesday, December 06, 2023

Child Readers...Maybe Any Readers?...Of Science Fiction

This past September I came upon and flagged a 2015 Horn Book article, The Campaign for Shiny Futures by Farah Mendelsohn. I probably read it at the time it was published, because I was subscribing to Horn Book then, and I've been familiar with Mendelsohn's work for a long time. I believe we were once members of the same listserv, I may have heard her speak at a scifi/fantasy conference years ago, and I find her to be an incredibly logical and coherent thinker and writer.

In The Campaign for Shiny Futures she has fascinating things to say about child readers of science fiction, how science fiction for children has changed over the last half century, who is writing science fiction for children...I could go on.

One of the things she writes about is child readers' interest in ideas and information in science fiction, versus relationships. I am only a dabbler in reading and writing science fiction, but I wonder if this may be true of adult readers of science fiction, as well.

I was reminded of a science fiction discussion I attended at my local library years ago, back in the day when it actually sponsored literary events vs. gatherings regarding crafts and cooking. (Why, yes, I do have an ax to grind.) I don't recall what book we'd read, but I had not liked it at all. However, I was sitting in a circle with people who were leaning forward, on the edge of their seats, consumed with interest. What is going on here? I wondered.

What I realized was that those people were reading for content while I was reading for style. Did that make me just a little superficial? Or a lot?

For example, I like the Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells. In fact, I believe there's a new book out I'll be buying myself for Christmas. However, I can't tell you a whole lot about what's going on in those things, the technical information, or ideas. I am totally taken with Murderbot, itself. The same is probably true for any science fiction I read.  

This means, I think, that I should not be shopping for or advising any true science fiction reader of any age.

Tuesday, December 05, 2023

Time Management Tuesday: If The Metaphor Works...

Sometime in the last month or two, I stumbled upon Eat the Frog: Brian Tracy Explains the Truth About Frogs. Tracy is a "success expert" and has a book called...Eat that Frog, about dealing with procrastination.  The Eat the Frog concept is inspired by a Mark Twain quote. "If it's your job to eat a frog, it's best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it's your job to eat two frogs, it's best to eat the biggest one first." To make a quite long story short, Eat the Frog involves doing your biggest and most important task first thing. And if you have two big and important tasks, you hit the biggest and most important task before the less big and important one.

Now, this seems like old wine in a new flask to me. This is not the first time I've seen advice regarding doing the biggest or the most important or the least desirable job first thing in the morning while you've got energy and impulse control, both of which peter out over the course of the day. Though I've also on at least one occasion read a suggestion to do two or three small things so the adrenaline rush of completing them encourages you to take on more.

But Eat the Frog is a metaphor. You're comparing a job you're not enthused about doing to eating a frog, another thing most of wouldn't look forward to. I believe metaphors help us. They can be like mantras. I, for instance, use "staying on task" or "on task" for actual work and for craft. I need to stay on task with a humor piece, with an essay, even a piece of fiction, to keep myself from drifting off topic or theme or losing a character's voice. "Staying on task" comes from back in the day when I was harassing young kids to do any number of things. It is a metaphor I lean on.

One could argue that everyone needs a metaphor. If eating a frog helps you with your workload, embrace it.

Monday, December 04, 2023

2023 Thurber Prize Semi-Finalists

The semi-finalists for the Turber Prize for American Humor were announced last month. I usually don't hear about these until the winner and finalists are announced, but I got an email this time! I've been trying to do some Thurber Prize reading the last couple of years, so I'll get to a few of these at some point.

Disorientation by Elaine Hsieh Chou                   

Hysterical by Elissa Bassist

Ms. Demeanor by Elinor Lipman


The Lemon by S. E. Boyd   


Working Girls by Trixie Mattel and Katya

Friday, December 01, 2023

Friday Done List For December 1

Goal 1. Finish 143 Canterbury Road

  • Finished doing a new draft of this manuscript for National Novel Writing Month last Sunday. (Will Gail ever stop talking about that?)

Goal 2. Work on Adult Essays, Short Storis, and Humor

  • Made two submissions of a humor piece.
  • Received one rejection.
  • Began working on what I'm calling the Daily December Project, which involves just starting a new short-form piece each day. Did the first one today, December 1.
  • Filed some materials related to short work that had been floating around.

Goal 4. Submit Adult Work To Agents

  • Have been working on collecting agent names to whom I'll submit 143 Canterbury Road.

Goal 5. Community Building/General Marketing/Branding

  • Did three blog posts (counting this one).
  • Started a fourth blog post.
  • Promoted the blog at a couple of places, which I haven't done in a long time.
  • Made a list of OCWW workshops I'm interested in taking in the next few months. Hmm. I think there's one next week.
I also cleaned my desk as a sort of between temporal landmarks purge/preparation. When you're a minimalist, it takes far less time to do that.