Sunday, 30 December 2012

End of 2012 - Goals and Dolphins

It's time for the end of the year, when I consider if I hit last year's goals and make new ones.

Writing Goals

Short Stories

My writing this year has mainly been short stories. I've had a few published, and the rest will be going into a short story collection (but more on that in a moment). My stories from this year were:

  • "Dead Meat", Nature (Nature Futures), Volume 488 (7409), 2 August 2012 (available online)
  • "The Road to the Beach", Penumbra, Volume 1 Issue 11 (Dreams), August 2012
  • "Through the Hoops", The Tomorrow Project, November 2012 (available online)
  • "Letters to a Fungus", Fungi, Innsmouth Free Press, 1 December 2012

My contributor's copy of Fungi has now arrived. It's actually the first anthology I've been in that isn't a collection of 'best ofs' for a market. Fish will be out early next year, as I understand it.

Short Story Collection

I've already blogged about my plans to self-publish a collection. Rainbow Lights will consist of my previously published stuff and new stories.

I set a tentative target of 13 February, 2013 as a publishing date, with the comment that I'd set a final date at the end of the year. It's now that time.

I know I could finish everything I need to by the February date, but my editorial volunteers have other stuff going on and I don't want them to be pressured. I also think it's better to finish early than scramble to finish on time. So I'm setting the final release date as 13 May, 2013. This gives a bit of breathing space for all involved.

My goal is to get the collection out, but also to produce a series of posts about the process. This won't swamp all other content on the blog... I'll keep it balanced, so no need to worry. Unless you don't like my random posts about daisies.

Urban Fantasy Novel

My goal this year was to query my urban fantasy book. Though my goal was met, it didn't lead anywhere. I'm not surprised, but I had to try in case it turned out differently.

Urban fantasy has always been a mixed thing for me. I don't like the racism, sexism, and every other -ism. I don't like the limited range of characters with major roles. And I don't want to read another book with a female main character where she's raped, often because she went against the wishes of an abusive alpha male who told her not to go to a place/do a certain thing/talk to a certain person, and often justified as being necessary to make her vulnerable to the abusive male's advances.

The book I wrote was in response to that. It took the things I found fun about the genre, and changed the things I didn't. I chose a cast I didn't get to see much in urban fantasy. I wrote a murder mystery, rather than a saving-the-world story, because that's what I wanted to read. I didn't write a romance, abusive or otherwise. But I knew when I did it that I'd written something hard to sell, in a genre that was already at saturation point. It was a risk and it didn't work out.

I will still keep an eye open for publisher's submission calls. It's possible some of the smaller houses might be interested. But for the most part, this one comes in the category of, "...but it'll make a great second novel."

New Novel

I didn't have a set novel-completing goal last year, as I wanted some flexibility. As it turned out, I focused mainly on shorts and floated around a number of novel ideas. This was useful, as it gave me space to think through where I might fit as a novelist, and what sort of novel might work as a first novel.

I'm not going to say which of my floating ideas will be the one I finish, but I intend to finish one in the early part of the year and query in the late part. This means no idea that needs massive cultural research (unlike the urban fantasy).

Picture Books

My goal was to get ten manuscripts ready. I don't have ten ready to go, but I do have some, and more than ten in various stages of written. This one's on a bit of a back-burner, as I don't see picture books happening any time soon.

Other Goals

Art Course

I went on an art course last year, which was one of my set goals. I haven't put the pictures online yet, as they'll need to be photographed rather than scanned. But once I get the lighting sorted for that, they'll be there.

It was useful being able to work large scale, using an easel. It made it easier to draw/paint with both hands and it wasn't as fiddly. Most of my previous stuff hasn't been any bigger than A4, which limited what I could do.

Since then, I've brought my own easel, and I'll use some of the stuff for producing illustrations for my story collection.


I've always been interested in the sea/ocean and the idea of freediving (diving whilst holding your breath, rather than using air tanks), but I've also always been a poor swimmer. I was scared off swimming as a child and stopped entirely when I was about 13.

Towards the end of this year, I decided to do something about it (which I've been tweeting using the #terribledolphin tag, for those of you who follow me there). I found a swimming costume that covered all my skin (except hands, feet and neck/head), which dealt with my sensory overload issues (I have problems when my skin is exposed to the air or water directly). And I've been swimming once a week.

My swimming goals for next year are to improve my technique and swimming strength, in breast stroke, front crawl and dolphin kicks (this is a whole-body movement used to swim). I'm also working on learning to hold my breath for longer and to swim whilst holding my breath. I have a heart rate monitor, so I can see how low I'm managing to get it down before breath holds.

During the summer, I'll be practising my dolphin kicks in the sea, with my Christmas present attached to my feet:

Blue monofin worn on feet with plain white background

A monofin, attached to me!

This is a SwEA'm Hydra monofin, and the packaging claims you can "be a dolphin...*" I guessed the starred footnote would be something like, "actual dolphin transformation not guaranteed," but it's a French translation of "be a dolphin". So I'm expecting great things. I'll only be swimming at the surface and shallow depths this year... a proper freediving course and stuff will be for a future year.

World Fantasy Convention

Sort of writing too, though I don't actually need to write to attend, so I'm putting this as an 'other' goal. I've booked a room at the hotel and I have my membership, so I'll be at WFC 2013 in Brighton. I may even bring my fin, if I'm feeling bold and like submersing myself in near-freezing sea water. If you're going to be there, it doesn't hurt to mention, so I know who might be interested in meeting me.

Short Version

I'm going to write a new novel, publish a short story collection and transform into a dolphin! Also, see you at WFC 2013.

How did your year go?


  1. OMG you got a Natures Futures published! I remember when that started maybe 5 years ago, I really enjoyed the first few ones (by Big Name Authors), and have often wanted to write "that kind" of hard SF. I read and enjoyed Dead Meat, an artist has got to do what an artist has got to do.

    Yeah, maybe I should write and submit That Kind Of Stuff for 2013.

  2. Go for it! They take a lot of stuff from the slushpile now, so it's worth trying.


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