New Year, New Goals

Hello, hello! It’s another new year. We’re almost a week into it, so how’s 2021 treating people thus far? It’s been a mixed bag for me, but generally meh. I got some good news that I’ll share later. Aside from that, I started off the year with a rejection and am now up to three as I’m writing this (it’s just the 5th day of the year). Things have also been hectic for Dad because of some stuff with our neighbor that he helps out. So, yeah. I think meh is an apt description of 2021 so far. Anyway, since it’s the first Wednesday of the year and I have nothing to really ramble about, this is just going to be a yearly goal post.

I see a lot of people making vision boards and stuff like that for 2021, but I don’t really understand them, so I’ll just stick with written goals. But I think I’ll group them a little differently this year instead of just writing a random paragraph with multiple goals mushed together.

Writing Goals:

1. Write 3 short stories/flash fiction pieces. I need to replenish my stock of stories to send out into the slush void.

2. Finish the first draft of DS2. I lost steam on this one, but it’s not the story’s fault. I just need to suck it up and write words.

3. Dig out the sci-fi novel I stopped a few years ago because I couldn’t figure out how to fix it and see if I can rework it. I have a new idea that will require rewriting the whole thing, but it just might work. I’ll try, but I won’t force it if it fights me.

4. Pull out the “Lightning Bugs” novelette/novella that I haven’t worked on since Stonecoast (despite Nancy Holder’s cheerleading) and see if I can flesh it out and make it presentable. I’ve avoided it because, submission-wise, I don’t really know what to do with something of that length.

Shut up, Cass. I’m going to write. Soon.

Submission Goals:

1. Submit to two magazines or anthologies a week.

2. Query agents for DS1. I have about 10 to go on my list, but I’m at that point where I need to wait for responses before I can try other agents.

3. Query publishers for DS1. If I strike out with the agents, I have a few publishers I want to submit to before I debate trunking the book/series.

On my Kindle app, but yeah.

Reading Goals:

1. Read 35 books overall.

2. Of those 35, review at least 12.

3. Of those 35, I want at least 8 to be from my “want to read again” list.

Misc. Goals:

1. Finish the shawl of doom. This is entirely because I procrastinate too much, but I will finish the damned thing and move onto another project to procrastinate on.

2. Finish watching The Untamed. I don’t usually care about TV, but I’m behind on all of my foreign shows. It’s extremely rare for me to watch anything on my own (I’d rather read), but I will make time for at least The Untamed this year. I always need more adorable gay stuff in my life.

What about you? What are your goals for 2021? As always, feel free to share your thoughts or comments here or on my social media profiles!

Short Stories, Novellas, Or Novels?

Hello, hello!  Last week, I asked a friend to suggest a topic for my next blog post (I’m running low on ideas, so feel free to suggest some topics or ask me questions) and she brought up short stories vs. novellas vs. novels.  She wanted to know my preferences based on being a reader vs. being a writer.  So, I thought I would use today to talk about the lengths of the things I enjoy reading as well as of the things I enjoy writing.  It seemed like a good topic since I haven’t written many writerly ramblings lately.

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These are the general guidelines.

First, I suppose I’ll approach the topic as a reader.  If I’m looking for something quick to distract me for a short period of time, I love digging into a short story.  But, most of the time, I prefer to read novels.  I like being able to get lost in a new world and getting to know the characters in a way that shorter works don’t allow for.  As far as novellas go, I don’t actively search them out, but I don’t dislike them for any particular reason.  One of my favorite stories is “The Body” by Stephen King, which is a novella in his collection Different Seasons.  Overall, I suppose I’d rank my reading preferences as novels, followed closely by short stories, then the occasional novella.

As a writer, things are a little more complicated.  Let’s look at novels.  I’m still fairly new to this particular form and I’m not entirely comfortable in it.  Though, I will admit, as I work on each new novel, I’m becoming more and more drawn to it.  At first, it felt like I was rambling.  I couldn’t get a grasp on the idea of the slow reveal and how to keep it interesting while my characters were going about their days.  I’m two-thirds of the way through writing my third novel and I’m finally feeling like I might semi know what I’m doing.  So, writing novels is growing on me.

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Me when I look over my novels.

Short stories, on the other hand, are where I feel most at ease.  I enjoy the conciseness of the short form.  It’s easier to keep track of one or two plots and characters than it is to keep track of a novel full of them.  I’m not constantly stressing because I just know I forgot some minor detail that will inevitably turn into something major.  Don’t get me wrong, I forget stuff in my short stories all the time, but it’s much easier to catch those things when it happens in 20 pages vs. 300 pages.  It’s also much easier to keep the writing motivation going for a week or two instead of three or more months.  Plus, I have a lot of fun with short stories.  That’s why they will always be my favorite to write.

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Well, that was a short story.

Then, there are novellas.  I honestly haven’t ventured into this realm yet.  I stopped working on one of my fetish fairy tales because it was leaving the territory of a short story and becoming a novelette/novella.  I thought maybe it had too much backstory and I needed to cut stuff out.  But recently, I decided to just let it go where it’s going and figure out what to do with it later.  I have at least one other story that needs to be expanded into a novella, so I might try my hand at it one day, but today is not that day.

In the end, I suppose my writing preferences would be ranked short stories, novels, and novellas in a distant third.  What about you?  Do you have a preference when reading vs. when writing?  Is there an equivalent option in your craft if you’re not a writer?  Share your thoughts and comments here or on my social media pages!

Word Count? Who Needs That?

Hello, hello!  It’s that time again.  Today, I want to talk a bit about word count.  It’s a subject that Lew Andrada suggested when I asked for questions and comments and all that.  It’s also a subject I struggle with, because it’s pretty arbitrary.  Anyone you ask seems to have a different answer when it comes to the correct lengths of things.

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We’ve all encountered a scenario like this one.  I actually kind of think that’s where the concepts of word counts really help (me at least).  It gives me a firm goal to keep in mind and work toward, that way I can have a more realistic idea of how long a project will take me to finish.

So, how do I approach word count?  I keep it simple!  I basically follow SFWA’s counts for the Nebula awards.  In other words, these rules:

Short Story: less than 7,500 words.
 Novelette: 7,500 words to 17,500 words.
 Novella: 17,500 words to 40,000 words.
 Novel: 40,000 words or more.

Adult

Now, I know that “novel” is an extremely broad category that can be broken down by genres or even target audience age.  In fact, the list above is just one example of many break downs you’ll find with a quick Google search.  No, none of them are the same.  Yes, it gets really confusing really fast.  On top of all that, you also have lists for middle grade, young adult, adult, and a relatively new category dubbed new adult.  It’s complicated.  I don’t like complicated things.

In other words, I don’t bother with all of that crap.  My goal is based on my story.  If I’m going for a flash fiction piece (<1000), I usually aim for 900 words.  A short story?  Around 5,000 words.  A novel?  It depends on what it feels like.  I tried for 70,000 to 75,000 for my first novel after tons of research on word count.  It is a supernatural YA, so on top of feeling like a good amount, it also turns out to be a fairly average count for that type of book.  The novel I’m currently working on is different.  I’m going more by my gut for this one.  My current aim is 80,000 to 90,000 just because that’s what it feels like it will need.  I’m sure my past research is playing some kind of unconscious role, but whatever.

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On the other hand, enforcing a word count can lead to fears of rambling.  Don’t worry!  You can fix all of that during edits.  That’s also another factor that goes into choosing my own word count.  I like to choose a middling number, just in case I need the wiggle room.  I have space to brutally cut out all of the nonsense if I need to, but I also have room to fix anything that’s not fleshy enough.

What I mean to say is that word counts are great tools, but don’t let them freak you out.  Let them help you establish a more concrete timeline for finishing your work, but don’t let them rule your work.  Keep it simple and fun, or it’s not worth doing.  At least that’s how I feel about it.  What are your thoughts on word count?