Reflecting in 2017


I started last year by completing “Unravel your 2016.” While I didn’t stick to everything, I found the exercise useful, so over the  winter break I completed the “Unravel your Year 2017″ workbook from Susannah Conway. I even managed to complete it before the end of 2016.

Center word Reflect, surrounded by believe/trust/faith, (re)create, release and connect -seen on a daily random generator of simple tasks

I created the word cloud out of index cards to help keep the word(s) fresh in my mind. The Daily Random Generator are small things I can do that help fulfill my goals.

Along with reflecting on the previous year, the workbook takes you through exercises to consider the year ahead along several different axes, as well as finding a word to act as a guide for your upcoming year. As I sat by the koi pond at my in-laws house, I contemplated what word would be meaningful. I was having difficulty selecting, having narrowed it down to reflect and (re)create. I ultimately chose reflect, because for the challenges I’ve faced, and the self-improvements I hope to make, this word means different things.

I was surprised that the next page had me select 4 extra words to support my word of the year. I was skeptical, but tossed (re)create in the first spot. I added a second word, and all of a sudden something clicked, and my heart felt a bit lighter. I considered a bit before adding my third and forth words, and had a sense of contentment I was missing from selecting a single word to encompass the year.

There are many areas encompassed by this collection of words that where I am seeking self-improvement. As a way to not feel overwhelmed by everything that was crowding my mind that I wanted to accomplish, I decided to make a “The Least I Could Do Daily Random Generator.” The list is made of small tasks (I aimed for things that could be completed in 15-30 minutes) that contributed to my goals, and to the values that the words encompassed for me. My current list is 25 items. I roll 2 d10 each morning, and take my number from there. So far I have completed my tasks for just over half the days, but because they are so small, and because they change everyday, I’m happy with how it is working.

1 Blog Post
2 Read a Short Story
3  Meditate
4  Color Something
5  Connect with someone via electronic means
6  Write a letter or card
7  Call political office (senator, representative)
8  Stretch session
9  Write fiction
10 Phone a friend
11 Plan a meal
12 Go through files / things
13 Read from to-read online list
14 Put things away
15 Walk somewhere new
16 Exercise set (20 min)
17 Take photos
18 Tai Chi
19 Puzzle/ word puzzle/ logic/ sudoku – etc
20 Romantic act
21 Random act of kindness
22 10 ideas in 10 minutes
23  1 letter of address book (or 10 entries), whichever is less
24 Watch a TED talk
25 Listen to writing podcast

There are a few other things I’ve done in prep for the new year. One is small tasks I’m trying to complete everyday (with an understanding that doing all of them is probably unsustainable, but I’ll see what sticks) – 15 minutes of cleaning / tidying before bed; adding one moment of happiness into my mason jar; keeping track of spending on a daily budget.

I could go on with my plans, because even 2 weeks in I am still feeling hopeful and motivated about the year. Instead I will end with a visual -another piece of the Unravel Your Year workbook – a visual map of my upcoming year.  I hope you are making the most of your new year.

Image of small icons, including a boat, a giraffe, red hair, the number 40, the word "reflect", multi-sided gaming dice, a stack of games, a notepad and pen, and a book and glasses

A visual representation of things I anticipate happening in 2017.


Six month plan – Writer’s Table model

Whelp, we have officially wasted half a year. Only six month remain to make what we want to out of 2016. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not mad at myself for what I have/ haven’t achieved so far this year, but I can say I didn’t get as much done as I had hoped, particularly on the writing front, which means maybe a new tactic is in order.


I had the good fortune to meet Eleanor at a book signing tour in New Orleans in 2011

Luckily the latest newsletter from The Writer’s Table, from the charming and brilliant Eleanor Brown arrived with not only the reminder that the year is half done, but also a way to set realistic goals for the rest of the year.

The goals work backwards from the big picture to today, and I think this will be a technique I can really work with – because let’s be honest, part of my not accomplishing writing goals for the first half of 2016 was not having clearly defined goals. Hard to achieve goals when they consist mostly of a nebulous “I should write more.”

The questions Eleanor recommends you ask yourself when setting your 6 month goals are:

  1. Where would I like to be with my writing by the end of the year? [12/31/2016; 183 days away]*
  2. In order to achieve that goal, what do I need to have accomplished by Halloween? [10/31/2016; 122 days away]
  3. In order to make it there by Halloween, where do I need to be by Labor Day? [9/5/2016; 66 days away]
  4. In order to reach that Labor Day goal, what do you need to do right now? [7/1/2016; right now]

*Dates and # of days away are my own addition, to help me conceptualize this better. And I know this post is several days after 7/1/2016, but work with me here 😉

Upon reading the newsletter, I came up with these possible writing goals:

  • Time writing per day/week
  • Finish and begin submitting  Here There Be
  • Write and submit to critique group the Garret short story (to send to Writers of the Future in Spring)
  • Write first draft of Casey Watkins and the Missing Mascot
  • Complete second draft of Foxglove and Queen Anne’s Lace – find Gamma readers
  • Expand the Snow White inspired story to novel length
  • Get to halfway point of next draft of Divine Madness (1/2 point defined as 1) through second trail or 2) 60,000 words)

As you can see, I have too many writing goals to do them all in the next six months (or the last six months, which is probably why I stalled out). I have decided to focus on the two in purple text, one is polishing a short story, and beginning to send it out, the other is working on a second draft. I chose that one because it sounds difficult – I find generating story ideas and coming up with a first draft relatively easy – the part of my craft that I need the most work on is editing/ getting to the point of submission.

Wish me luck, and best wishes to all of you taking the opportunity of the new month to reevaluate goals.

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January 1, 2016 – thoughts of the new year


Sunrise over Paynes Prairie, Jan 1, 2009

Several years ago (somewhere in the early 2000s – but I can’t find the exact year), I started getting up early on New Year’s Day and go out to see the sunrise with friends, mostly from my local writing group. Most years we went to the Baughman Center, on the UF campus, looking out over Lake Alice as the sun started made it’s first trip up in the new year. One year we mixed it up by going to Paynes Prairie, a local state park.

The years have ranged from cold and crisp, to humid and warm. More often than not the sky was overcast, and we watched the brightening of the sky without seeing the sun itself. We chat a little, sometimes sharing goals or aspirations for the new year, but mostly stand in companionable silence as the new day starts.

This was the first year in over a decade where I did not get up for New Year’s Day sunrise.

I’m still processing how I feel about that decision. There is some sense of loss in it, a tradition broken. Sleeping in instead of upholding a tradition. There was a bit of worry, that I am in denial about the changing of the year. And there is a bit of a sense of freedom, of acknowledging that I am not eternally bound by the choices I made years ago.

As 2016 starts, I am completing the “Unravelling the Year Ahead, 2016.” I had meant to complete it prior to midnight yesterday, I didn’t. This morning after sleeping in as long as my hungry cat would let me, I made a cup of tea, and headed out to the back patio to sit, and ponder 2015. I am still reviewing the year past, and don’t know what the pages for 2016 have looked like, but I am enjoying the process.

Sunrise 2011 – Version 3

Sunrise at Lake Alice, Baughman Center – Jan 1, 2011

Baughman Center, Jan 1, 2011

Baughman Center, UF – Jan 1, 2011

One thing I do know about 2016, I want to be more intentional with what I consume, and where I dedicate my resources. Consumption covers not only what I eat, but what media I take in, and what people I interact with over the year. Resources include my energy, my time, my money and the space I maintain. I feel that better awareness of that flow – what I am taking in, and where I am spending, will help me have a better understanding of myself. By eliminating the impulse spending of time and money, habitual consumption, and the unexamined retention of things I have accumulated over the years I hope to be more satisfied with my choices, because with intention I can be more cognizant that is what they are – choices.

My first choice was to take a break from the Unravelling workbook, and sit down to write a post. To let go of the guilt I feel from letting this blog languish in the past months, and to address how I feel about the change of the calendar. I’m not sure I’ll be setting resolutions or goals, per se, but I think that the intentionality I plan to bring to the new year will be more rewarding, and will, in the long run, lead me down the path that such resolutions and goals have failed guide me down in the past.

Good morning, 2016, and may you, my readers, find a path you are happy with for the upcoming year.


GenCon – tentative schedule achieved


One of my 38 things this year was to attend a convention with a strong writer’s track. Writer's Symposium

I have booked convention tickets for GenCon, arranged time off work, booked airline tickets and a hotel, found a roommate, and the last step in my pre-convention excitement, I have signed up for several of the seminars and two workshops (former are free, later cost a small amount) to keep me well occupied, and learning, from Thursday – Sunday.

So, here’s current schedule (subject to change):

Writer’s Craft: Eliciting Emotional Responses 11:00 AM
Writer’s Craft: Atmospheric Writing 12:00 PM
Writer’s Craft: Editing Your Work 1:00 PM
Writer’s Craft: When to Show, When to Tell 2:00 PM
Business of Writing: Professional Organizations (SFWA, IAMTW, & More) 3:00 PM
Writer’s Craft: Killing Off Characters 4:00 PM
Worldbuilding: When Your World is a Character 6:00 PM
Writer’s Craft: Novel Outlines & Synopsis 7:00 PM
Writer’s Craft: Finding Work for Your Inner Critic—Self-Editing for Fiction Writers 9:00 AM
Writer’s Craft: Rewrites & Second Drafts 11:00 AM
Writer’s Craft: Plot Design 12:00 PM
Writer’s Life: Breaking Writer’s Block 2:00 PM
Writer’s Life: Writer’s & Mental Health—You’re Not Alone 4:00 PM
Worldbuilding: Mythology 6:00 PM
Worldbuilding: Governments & Laws 7:00 PM
Character Craft: Character Voice 10:00 AM
Worldbuilding: Flora, Fauna, & the Natural World 11:00 AM
Worldbuilding: Writing a World’s History 12:00 PM
Writer’s Craft: Sustaining the Tension in Novels 1:00 PM
Writer’s Craft: Hickman’s Guide to the Care & Feeding of Your Audience 2:00 PM
Writer’s Craft: Magic and the Modern World 3:00 PM
Worldbuilding: Creating Religions 4:00 PM
Writer’s Craft: Is Your Story Ready to Sell? 5:00 PM
Special Event: Writing Excuses Podcast Recording LIVE! 6:00 PM
Character Craft: Build Them Up After Tearing Them Down 11:00 AM
Business of Writing: Schmoozing 101 12:00 PM


Thursday 38 things update – 5

On my birthday I decided to do one new thing (or revisit one thing I enjoyed but haven’t done in a while) for each of my 38 years. (Original Post Here).

Here is an update on some of the items I have done:



  • See Welcome to NightVale live show (4/3 – it was awesome, and the actor for Carlos –adorable.)


Items I have made progress on:

  • Find a way to support, advocate the LGBT community
    • Helped PFLAG secretary create LGBT+ term bingo for upcoming PFLAG meeting
    • Spoke with on-campus LGBT affairs rep on how to get involved
  • Learn how to knit ; knit something
    • Learned how to purl and close off a project; used an entire skein of yarn making one long not-quite scarf
  • Submit at least 1 short story a month
    • Found a potential new market for my one circulating story
  • Complete a 2nd draft of a novel
    • Printed outlines of the two current contender stories to evaluate which I will work on
  • Learn how to play Magicwpn_productshot_m15_builderstoolkit_1
    • Played several games of open-handed magic with my premade/ purchased deck
    • Bought a deck-builders kit for 2015 Core, sorted the cards
    • Build my own deck – played two open handed games with it – one loss, one win
  • Swim with Dolphins
  • Read 38 books
    • Books read to date in 2015 (as tracked in Goodreads)
      1. The Winter Long – Seanan McGuire
      2. Celebromancy – Michael R. Underwood
      3. Anna Dressed in Blood – Kendare Blake
      4. Sparrow Hill Road – Seanan McGuire
      5. The Eighth Guardian – Meredith McCardle
      6. The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win your Inner Creative Battles – Steven Pressfield
      7. Invisible – Jim. C. Hines
      8. The Brief History of the Dead – Kevin Brockeier
      9. Writing the Other – Nisi Shawl & Cynthia Ward
      10. Curtsies & Conspiracies – Gail Carriger
      11. Lock In – John Scalzi