Saturday, January 9, 2016

Beautiful People - 2016 plans

It's time for Beautiful People! I've missed doing these link-ups. I skipped the last three months, partially due to the Nano focus of the questions, but at last I'm participating again.

This round of questions is about writing plans and goals, which is perfectly timed. On my way home from the city earlier this week, I was talking out loud to myself and making plans for this year's writing. (What? You guys don't talk to yourself when you're driving alone?) They're rather ambitious, and I have to wonder if it's insane to ask so much of myself, especially when 2016 is full of so many unknowns. But I want to aim high, and if Life has other ideas, so be it. Contrary to my usual thinking, goals can be adjusted.

Hosted by the lively gals Cait & Sky!

What were your writing achievements last year?

I finished up a couple rounds of edits on book 1. I read over book 2, outlined a new version of it, and had way too much fun masterminding stuff about the series as a whole. I completed a novella-sized retelling of Sleeping Beauty and entered it in the Five Magic Spindles writing contest. I also helped both my brother and a friend of mine edit their entries.

Tell us about your top priority writing project for this year.

I have three, actually! And now's as good a time as any to whip out my 2016 Writing Goals.

January: Finish editing book 1.
February: Begin querying agents for book 1. (Yipes!) Review the outline of book 2 and do some research.
March-May: Draft book 2.
June: Draft Rooglewood entry.
July: Edit Rooglewood entry and send it off. (I'd like to be much more on the ball this year, so I'm going to try finishing it in two months. Two and a half, tops.)
August-December: Finish drafting book 2, and if I've actually managed to meet my monthly goals, I'd like to do a round or two of edits on it as well.

So to directly answer the question, my writing priorities are books 1 & 2 plus a fairy tale novella. Because these plans must be balanced with things called Work and (very hopefully) School, I'm trying to remember to take my own advice and have grace for myself if circumstances change and crowd out writing.

List 5 areas you’d like to work the hardest to improve this year.

Efficiency. I'd like to write more often, and write better when I do write. Even if all I can do is a little bit here and there, I want to be more consistent.

Moving forward. I'd like book 1 to be ready for the next phase.

Writing first drafts that aren't littered with dragon-sized plot holes. It's been about four-ish years since I've actually written a first draft for my fantasy series, and the most recent was possibly one of my worst. But I've grown since then, and I know a lot more about my fantasy world, so maybe the new book 2's first draft will be more structurally sound. We can hope.

Continuing to cultivate my writing craft in general. One should never stop growing, after all.

Poetry. I wrote only seven poems last year, but I'd like to do more this year. Stretch my poet muscles. Try new techniques.

Are you participating in any writing challenges?

Only if you count the annual Rooglewood Press contest. Nano might be a possibility this year, but I'm not putting any expectations on myself.

What’s your critique partner/beta reader situation like and do you have plans to expand this year?

I stumbled into a wonderful Pack of writer gals online a year and a half ago, and have since had the pleasure of beta reading a number of their stories. Some of the girls have been betas for me too, which is heaps of fun. (My goodness, that sounds British: heaps of fun.) I'm quite content with my current situation, so no, I don't have expansion plans.

Do you have plans to read any writer-related books this year? Or are there specific books you want to read for research?

Finish Gail Carson Levine's "Writer to Writer," which I started last year. I've heard that "Steal Like an Artist" by Austin Kleon is good, so maybe that too? I don't have many specific titles in mind. I'll probably look for some good books on mental illness (specifically delusion-related stuff, though there's probably a nicer word for that). I have a character whose parents believe he's crazy, resulting in psychologist appointments. I'd like to at least sound like I know what I'm talking about.

Pick one character you want to get to know better, and how are you going to achieve this?

Basically my entire supporting cast of book 2! Aileen's and Josiah's family members. The Shifters, a group of five elementals. Rex Nelson, the pilot. Yeah. Basically everyone. I'll get to know them better by writing their story and doing character sketches.

Do you plan to edit or query, and what’s your plan of attack?

Some of both. See question #2. As for a plan of attack . . . with editing, it'll be the usual process. With querying--well, that's a whole new arena for me. So I have no idea!

Toni Morrison once said, “If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.”  What are the books that you want to see more of, and what “holes” do you think need filling in the literary world?

More clean, excellent fantasy. Whether it's Christian or not is almost besides the point. I want to see good fantasy--without all the foul language and sleazy content so many of them seem to carry.

More steampunk, because the genre is awesome and quite underrated.

And I don't know if this is a hole, exactly . . . But I want to see an off-kilter story that plays with mind. One part crazed humor, one part creepy, and one part deeply hidden meaning. I have something like this cooking in my brain, but it'll be a while before it's ready to be written.

What do you hope to have achieved by the end of 2016?

I hope to have book 1 actually, for real complete--and if all goes well, I want to either have an agent or at least be actively querying. I hope to have another fairy-tale novella completed, and I also want to have book 2 drafted. Somewhat edited too, if I have the time. Like I said before, it really depends on how these next several months pan out.

If nothing else, I want to be able to look back on 2016 and say that I made good use of the writing time I had. (But if I'm honest, I'd really, really like that whole querying thing to . . . you know, be a thing.)

What do you think? Insane or doable? (Wait . . . don't answer that.) What are your writing plans for the year?


  1. YOU'RE GOING TO QUERY AGENTS IN FEBURARY?! *flails* That is SO seriously cool, Tracey! I really hope it all works out :). Do you have any idea what your first, ahem, plan of attack shall be?

    I don't have many writing plans for this year, except for entering Rooglewood's contest. I tend to just go with the flow and write whatever I feel like, whenever I feel like it, so that's pretty much what I'll be doing this year :).

    1. THANK YOU!! That's the plan! At the very least, I want to start learning HOW to query agents. o.o 'Tis an intimidating thought, I'll admit. My first step will be to research. A lot. I'd like to start making a list of potential agents, research how to go about querying and what one sends to an agent, and then . . . go from there? It'll be an adventure, that's for sure!

      As much as I'm looking forward to the results of Five Magic Spindles, I also can hardly wait to see what the next theme will be. Isn't it such fun? Going with the flow is a good idea. Explore! Dabble! See where your writerly whims take you! :) I hope you have an awesome year of writing.

    2. Have you ever read the book 'Go Teen Writers'? I got it as a gift a few months ago, and it has been an invaluable source of information, from editing to querying agents to what-one-sends-to-an-agent :).

      I agree, it is tons of fun, I'm so excited to see what the next theme will be (I'm guessing Snow White for some reason. Five Poison Apples?)! Yep, exploring and dabbling will probably take up a lot of my writing time :D (and, ya know, plot bunnies will probably find there way in ...). Hope you have an amazing year of writing, too :).

    3. I haven't read the book, though I do follow the blog. It's good to hear that it's such a helpful book, though--I'll have to check it out! :)

      I've considered that title too! Or it could be Five Golden Braids (Rapunzel) . . . Five, er, Mermaid Tails (Little Mermaid) . . . But Snow White is a really good guess. They seem to be sticking to the classic, well-known fairy tales.

      Plot bunnies--they can be hugely fun or hugely annoying (when they steal one's attention from other stories). XD

    4. Yes, you definitely should! I read the blog, too, but the book was extra-helpful. And if you're unsure, ask Christine, she's read it, too :D.

      They do seem to be sticking to the more classic fairy tales, so there aren't too many that would fit into that category. But all three of those seems to work!

      Yes. The plot bunnies seemed well trained to do only one thing: steal your attention. Oh well, at least they're cute :D.

    5. That's right, I do recall her mentioning the book. :)

      Whatever the case, it'll be tons of fun.

      LOL, too true! XD

  2. BP post! YAY! I love this edition and hope to do it in a week or two.

    Oh my goodness, I totally talk to myself while driving! Actually...pretty much anytime I'm completely alone. I find it helps plotting books or just figuring out specific scenes sooo much. I'm so glad I'm not alone in this. XD

    "Goals can be adjusted..." And that is something I need to be reminded a lot. I get so obsessed with accomplishing goals I kind of forget about OTHER parts of life, like important parts. I've got to remember that.

    Querying! *squeals* You have so many awesome things planned for this year. I AM ECSTATIC!!! And you already got so much done last year. YOU ARE AN AWESOME HUMAN BEING.

    Oh man, ALL those things you listed for what holes need to be filled in the literary world. YESH. More GOOD clean fantasy, oh goodness me, PLEEEASE. And steampunk. I so want a bunch of steampunk books.
    This other idea... *blinks* This...this sounds amazing. I love off-kilter stories, but they usually don't have anything deep in them. So this would be AMAZING. Just...yes! WRITE THIS IDEA YOU HAVE. I WANT THIS TO EXIST.

    I think you're going to have a fantastic writing year! And if you ever need a brainstorm partner or help with anything at all or just someone to rant to, I'm always here!

    1. Ooh, goodie, I can hardly wait!

      Ha, so I'm not the only one! *fistpump* Verbalizing plans or plot knots can be quite helpful indeed. Sometimes, when I'm brainstorming with someone, all it takes is me talking the problem out, and my brainstorming partner (whomever it may be at the time) doesn't have to say a word. XD

      ME. TOO. I set a goal and think it's written in stone. I have to remind myself that there's no reason to feel bad if circumstances demand the goal be adjusted. Like you said, sometimes other things are just more important.

      LFKAJLKSAJDLASJ The big Q! Gah, thank you--it's immensely encouraging to think that you and I are both aiming to do that soon. <3

      Give me all the good/clean fantasy! And it has to be both--not second-rate fantasy absent of bad content, and not amazing fantasy with yucky content. *nods*
      Steampunk! I'm reading one right now, and it is SO GOOD.
      Christine, why must you make me even more excited about it? Why? XD (I have mentioned this one to you before . . . Does "Welcome to Absurdity" ring a bell?)

      Aww, thank you! I'll definitely be taking you up on the offer. I think your writing year is going to be splendiferous as well! ^_^

  3. I don't talk to myself when I'm alone...I do it in the grocery store, for all the other shoppers to hear. I'm always muttering about expiry dates and the menu for the week, or my opinion on prices and low fat products.

    Those are good plans. A lot of them, but good. Best of luck to you, brave soul!

    Yes, the world needs more steampunk. However, more steampunk with less of this:
    1) Science vs. Religion (Christians can be smart scientists too!)
    2)female lead who thinks she needs to prove her worth by being fierce and wearing trousers, or anything else that goes against society.

    I like how you mention that goals can be adjusted. I wrote something similar on my writing to-do-list. It's not a bad thing to have a plan and stick to it, but sometimes I forget to relax and focus on other important things.

    1. Oh my goodness, your first paragraph made me laugh out loud. XD That is just awesome. (Do you also apologize for dropping things or creating loud noises when there's no one around to witness it? I do. XD)

      Oh, thank you immensely! Like I said, I'm not 100% sure this will all get done, but it's something to shoot for, right?

      I VERY MUCH AGREE. Science and Christianity actually don't have to contradict each other, and oh. my. word. I am tired of those girls being touted as "strong female leads," when all they really do is whine loud enough for others to hear them. It doesn't always have to be proving the men wrong!

      Same here! As much as I love writing, there are other things in life that should always take precedence. What's on your to do list for 2016, if I may venture to ask?

    2. Sometimes. At least it means politeness is automatic!

      I might be crazy, but I have five projects on the go. Two to write, two to re-write, and one to re-structure.
      I hope I'm not being presumptuous, but how did you find these beta readers? Is there a trustworthy and yet free online community that writers gather at?

    3. True. XD

      Five projects? O.O Go you! I'll bet it helps having them in different stages of the process, though. That way you can switch from drafting to editing to restructuring. Keep the creative juices flowing.

      No, not presumptuous at all! I totally stumbled into the group. Mirriam Neal ( had mentioned in a post that one of her stories was up for beta. I'd fallen in love with the snippets she'd posted, so I sent her an email asking if I could read it. She said yes . . . and I found myself on an email list of 20-ish beta girls. (My inbox proceeded to explode with the fun craziness, LOL.) I think they're quite open to accepting new people. :) I can run the idea past Mirriam if you like.
      (This reminds me, I should have a proper email address or contact form on my blog...)

    4. My idealistic self has just been shackled by my practical self. I'm down to three main projects. It's for the best, I tell myself.

      Hm, I always seem to come across these blog invitations too late. 20 sure sounds like a full group, but I suppose it won't hurt to ask. I'd appreciate it.
      If the group is full I will keep my eyes open. Perhaps I should even start a group myself. I'd love to beta as well as be beta-ed.

    5. Sorry I took so long to get back to your comment!

      Three main projects is still awesome. (It's times like these that we almost wish we could clone ourselves, right? XD)

      It's not as full as it sounds. Not everyone is very active, and we seem to form groups within groups as different people connect and share their work. I'll let you know what I hear back!

  4. I talk to myself all the time, no one else seems to want to listen :D
    I love how you have this whole year mapped out, it inspires me to get on the ball as it were. Clean fantasy, yes please! The amount of books I read last year, that I had to get rid of due to foul language, and other things was astounding.

    1. It's when you start answering that you know you've got a problem. XD

      Funny thing is, this is my first time mapping out the whole year like this. Last year I did have a specific goal in mind for book 1 (which I didn't quite reach--hence my January plan), but normally I just aim to make progress. Whatever that may look like.

      Ugh, it's so disappointing to have to put a book down because of unwanted content.

      I hope your 2016 writing goes wonderfully!

  5. Yay, Beautiful People! :D

    *jaw drops* Oh my goodness, Tracey, you have such awesome goals for this year! O_O Editing and querying and writing and Rooglewood, oh my! :D I wish you the best of luck in all of them! ^_^ And yes, it's good to remember that goals are also flexible... which is something I usually utterly fail at remembering. XD I bet you will do great though, because I've seen how dedicated and awesome of a writer you are! :D

    As someone who was still writing/editing a Rooglewood entry in December, I applaud your idea of getting it all out of the way early. XD

    Also, YES to your thoughts of holes! Clean excellent fantasy (because much that is clean is not excellent and much that is excellent is not clean...) and steampunkkkkk. :D I'm kind of obsessed with steampunk right now. XD

    Happy writing to you this lovely year of 2016! Keep being awesome! ^_^

    1. O__O I have mild cases of freaking out when I think of it. However the writing year unfolds, though, I plan to have fun! (Adjustable goals... something I have to work to remember as well.) Thanks so much for your encouragement! <333

      I've worked into December all three years that I've entered. XD I just think it'd be nice to write it quickly so that there's still time for my novels.

      YES, EXACTLY. Give me all the clean, excellent fantasy and awesome steampunk! :D (DEB. I JUST FINISHED READING ILLUSIONARIUM. EEEEEP!!! Expect to hear about it via a future blog post and/or email.)

      Thank you, darling! May your writing year bring renewed joy! ;D

  6. A Canadian /and/ and poet? /And/ you're seeking out agents this year? We've got a lot in common :D :D

    I'm with you on moving forward as a goal. I didn't write that one down but I should have. Last year was slow for me so I slugged along for most of the months. I really want this year to be productive.

    You've got some great goals! And you're totally right about the clean fantasy thing. Working in a bookstore, people ask me for that all the time and I have a heard time helping them. Any recommendations would be appreciated XD (since I'm only just getting into fantasy)

    Best of luck this year, Time Hortons buddy!

    1. We do have a lot in common! :D Proud to be Canadian--check. Poet--check. Seeking out agents--*gulp*...check that box too.

      I'd love to make this a productive year too. I'm having to redefine 'productive' in this busy season of being in the job force, but hopefully laying out an actual plan will result in . . . you know. Getting somewhere.

      I can imagine! There's a lot of fantasy with great characters or worldbuilding or whatever, but so few are clean. Hmm. Recommendations. You sure you want to ask? XD

      -Anything Bryan Davis. Seriously. Anything. Dragons in Our Midst is a great place to start if you're looking for, well, dragons. (See my comment to Emily.) The Echoes from the Edge series isn't in print right now, I think, but it's got fabulous stuff like three Earths and violin music and mirrors that reflect things differently than they really are.
      -The Ascendance Trilogy by Jennifer A. Nielsen. I've only read the first, but it's great.
      -Ranger's Apprentice series by John Flanagan. Some language, but it's witty and fascinating and full of rollicking good adventures.
      -The Bright Empires series by Stephen Lawhead. Alternate dimensions/time travel + British-ness = fabulous.
      -The Dragonkeeper Chronicles by Donita K. Paul. Quirky, light fantasy with lots of different races, including kitten-sized dragons.
      -The Door Within trilogy by Wayne Thomas Batson. More of a middle-grade read, but it's delightful. I can still see scraps of inspiration from these books in my own work.
      -River of Time series by Lisa T. Bergren. Romantic fantasy involving time traveling to medieval Italy.
      -Anything by Gail Carson Levine is cute and enjoyable, such as Ella Enchanted or Fairest.
      -The Auralia Thread books by Jeffrey Overstreet. Poetic prose and vivid symbolism. (Love it!)
      -And last, but most definitely NOT least: the Tales of Goldstone Wood series by Anne Elisabeth Stengl. Sparkling characters, intricate story world, and all-around awesomeness!

      Whew, sorry if I just buried you in that list! XD I'm not even sure if Chapters (that's where you work, right?) would carry all those. A lot of them are Christian fantasy.

      Thanks, and same to you! (Go Tim Hortons!)

  7. New Years goals....a mix of exhausting and fun. I hope yours go nicely for you

    1. Yes, definitely a bit of both! Thanks, Jack--I hope your 2016 is wonderful. ^_^

  8. Woah! Those are some awesome goals! I wish you all the best with your writing and querying. YOU CAN DO IT!!! :D

    1. THANK YOOOUUU!!! :D I wish you the same with your writing goals!

  9. I think you can totally accomplish all of these goals! Yay for querying! I'll be doing some of that come March. XD Yesssssssss more steampunk is definitely needed. Woot woot! Best of luck with your writing this year!

    I did Beautiful People too!

    1. Aww, thanks for the support. (This month's goals are coming along nicely, so that's a good sign.) Ooh, that's right, you'll be querying some more in March. How exciting!

      Yes, I've been meaning to come and catch up on commenting on your posts! I'm pretty sure I read that one, I just have been terrible at commenting recently... :P

  10. Eep, querying! I wish you well with that! That seems very far off for me, so I offer sympathy if not empathy, haha.

    "If nothing else, I want to be able to look back on 2016 and say that I made good use of the writing time I had." Yesss... which means I need to get on top of things...

    I commented on your blog AGES ago, on your very first post, I think. I was reluctant to comment more because my profile linked to my blog-under-construction. But now it is launched (and I did the thing, too: so I have no excuse, therefore I must comment more! Hurrah!

    1. It's a crazy thought, that querying thing...

      We can get on top of things together, then! It takes a huge amount of discipline some days, doesn't it? And some days it just doesn't happen. XD

      Yes! I remember you! And your blog is launched--how very exciting! :D I will hop on over, for sure.

    2. Yesss, it does. And yesss, sometimes it doesn't. *cough* But may it happen more and more that it actually happens!

      Ooh, a hopper-on-overer. *offers virtual fudge*

  11. BEST OF LUCK! It's so exciting to read everyone's goals. I love the thought of us all working on our fantasy series in our respective countries <3

    I totally feel you re structure. Hopefully when I plot Book 2 I'll actually know what I'm doing, and therefore avoid what you so aptly call the dragon-sized plot holes! (Lol, some hope!)

    1. THANK YOU! Yes, we can slave over our fantasies together, though we be a whole ocean apart. ^_^

      One can always hope. ;) I'm not sure if I *ever* "know what I'm doing," LOL! There's always an element of the unknown with any writing project. Ah, well, keeps things interesting. As for dragon-sized holes, stuffing them full of dragons might help. XD