Posted by: devonellington | January 2, 2009

2009 GDRs — Questions 1-12

Because I wanted to write out detailed answers, I’m posting the answers to the first twelve questions today, and the remaining answers tomorrow, along with the list in each category.  The following day, I will post my To-Do List for January.

Feel free to comment on the post or post your own answers to the questions below. You are free to offer suggestions and feedback to each other’s comments, but please do so respectfully.

We are here to support each other, not judge each other.

1. Looking back on the previous year, without consulting your notes or the GDRS for it, what stands out in your memory as a met goal that makes you feel positive about the future?

January: The publication of HEX BREAKER and the launch of the Jain Lazarus Adventures. The characters and book received such a warm response, I feel as though I’m back on track with the fiction after flailing for awhile. I’m also thrilled that “The Merry’s Dalliance” was so warmly received by NEW MYTHS. And glad that Nina Bell is back, and, in many ways, better than ever.

2. What did you find you needed to release, because, as the year progressed, it no longer worked to struggle towards it as a goal?

January: The obsession with cracking a couple of specific markets; I don’t like to write what they publish, so why stress over it? Just because they pay well doesn’t mean I’m the right match for them. And I got better at saying “no” to ridiculously low-paying markets and not getting guilted back into working for them.

Also, I’m frustrated because I didn’t get the move accomplished. I feel like I’m spinning my wheels, but, in this economy, it’s getting more and more difficult to pull it off. At the same time, I can’t stay where I am.

3. How has writing become more important in your life this past year?

January: Absolutely front and center. I made the bulk of my living from it. Not to say that I made a lot of money, but I did earn the bulk of my living from it and (barely) kept my head above water.

4. How do you plan to move it up on the priority list this year? List three specific steps to make your writing more of a priority.

January: It is the number one priority to me. What I need to do is find a way to manage my time better, and to utilize more creative marketing concepts to get my name to a wider audience.

My approach is to:

–dedicate specific blocks of time each week for marketing

–try to get more done in my initial writing session of the day

— on non-show days, add an additional writing session in the evening

5. In terms of a living wage, what do you need to adjust in your writing output in order to achieve your wage-earning goals?

January: Hustle and land a few more higher-paying gigs. Perhaps find a few regular clients instead of the majority of what I do (because I don’t want to be tied down) which are currently one-offs. Manage the time better so I can get the fiction out to the higher paying markets more quickly, and market more effectively what’s already out there. I don’t have theatre to fall back on this year, due to the combination of my writing commitments and the economy, so I’ve got to be smarter in the way I go after and land jobs.

6. Do you still hang on to the fallacy that if you love to write, you don’t “deserve” to be paid a decent wage for it? List three steps to move past this block.

January: I deserve to be paid what I’m worth. I need to hold that payment line harder.

7. What large projects do you want to start this year?

January:

THE SANDOVAL SECRET (the third Gwen and Justin book)

The third and fourth Jain Lazarus Adventures

Pick one or two of the novel-length ideas with which I’ve been playing and run with them

FEMME FATALE (play)

CHANNELING JIM MORRISON (play)

Maybe another Nina Bell piece

8. What projects from the previous year do you need to complete? (Either first drafts, revisions, query letters)

January:

ANGEL HUNT

THE BALTHAZAAR TREASURE (the second Gwen and Justin book)

The Big Project

The first Helena Francis Mystery

Keep the momentum going on The Penny’s Dreadfuls tales

EARTH BRIDE

If TRACKING MEDUSA doesn’t get picked up, next round of submissions for that

9. What mix of smaller projects do you want to get into the pipeline this year?

January:

Penny’s Dreadfuls stories

A few shorter ideas with which I’m playing

The magical realism stories I began in Jamieson Wolfe’s workshop last year.

10. How do you prioritize your projects? How do you shuffle them as your needs change?

January: When is the deadline? How much does it pay?

They get shuffled depending upon deadline, payment, and whatever idea catches fire. Sometimes, they need to be re-prioritized on a daily basis.

11. What is your querying goal for the year? (IE, how many queries per week/month would you like to send out)?

January: 3-5 freelance queries per week.

At least one batch of book queries per month ((I usually send those out in batches of ten), as soon as each book is ready for submission.

As many short story submissions as I can manage per month – hopefully at least 3 per month.

12. What new area/genre are you willing to expand into/experiment in this year?

January: I might go back and experiment in erotica a bit, if I can find ideas that interest me enough and markets that pay well enough for writing that needs to be that technical. On the non-fiction front, I want to write for more environmental and wildlife organizations.

The rest of the 2009 GDR questions will be answered tomorrow.

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Responses

  1. Also on my blog (http://dianeparkin.blogspot.com).

    1. Looking back on the previous year, without consulting your notes or the GDRS for it, what stands out in your memory as a met goal that makes you feel positive about the future?

    Publishers and editors started to ask to see Night Crawler again, and I got some very good feedback, even if they didn’t decide to buy it. I thought there must be something there after all and settled down to write a plan.

    2. What did you find you needed to release, because, as the year progressed, it no longer worked to struggle towards it as a goal?

    I had to stop being everyone else’s emotional punchbag and stop surrounding myself with energy vampires. As soon as I mentally did that, and then put my foot down, I started to write again.

    3. How has writing become more important in your life this past year?

    Sadly, it hasn’t yet. Not “more” important at any rate. It’s always been equally as important. I don’t make my living from it any more, but I could do with the extra income and I’d rather do that by doing something I enjoy and am good at than by cleaning toilets or serving in a bar, although I have done that before and would do it again.

    4. How do you plan to move it up on the priority list this year? List three specific steps to make your writing more of a priority.

    I just need to DO IT – as with most things. This may, in fact, join my collection of mantras, the others being LIVE AND LET LIVE and LIFE’S TOO SHORT.

    – schedule writing into my diary every single day, and DO IT
    – set myself tangible and achievable goals and targets, i.e. “I will write 11 short stories this year”, and DO IT
    – finish stuff and send it out, i.e DO IT

    5. In terms of a living wage, what do you need to adjust in your writing output in order to achieve your wage-earning goals?

    I just need to start writing, submitting and selling again. It really is that simple.

    6. Do you still hang on to the fallacy that if you love to write, you don’t “deserve” to be paid a decent wage for it? List three steps to move past this block.

    I have never, ever thought that. I’m too much of a militant socialist. If a publication is paid for by its customers, then it should pay its contributors, end of. One editor even said to me on the phone once: “Why should I pay your extortionate rates when I have hundreds of enthusiastic amateurs willing to do it for nothing?” I did convince him that his time would be better spent doing other, more managerial things, rather than wasting time knocking my work into shape, and as my work would already be in shape before it got there … He did send an apology, but it’s typical of how some editors really think. I struck him from my list once he’d backtracked.

    These steps are not for me, but for others who still believe this ridiculous lie:

    – your time is valuable, spend it writing stuff that gets paid for – if they get paid, why shouldn’t you?
    – you are worth it
    – why write for nothing when you can pull pints/clean toilets/sell burgers/insert your choice here for at least the minimum wage?

    7. What large projects do you want to start this year?

    – Stevie Tarot 1: The Fool
    – Marcie Craig 2: The Beast Within
    – 2 new department brochures at work

    8. What projects from the previous year do you need to complete? (Either first drafts, revisions, query letters)

    – Catch the Rainbow
    – website work at work

    9. What mix of smaller projects do you want to get into the pipeline this year

    I’ve scheduled in one short story, one article, one reader’s letter and one filler per month. Because I’ve also scheduled in 3 x 2-week holidays, the one item I can only manage 11 of this year is the short story. I also need to write at least one standalone article per issue of my own magazine if I can (I already write the news pages).

    10. How do you prioritise your projects? How do you shuffle them as your needs change?

    When I was freelancing, this often came in on a first come, first served basis. I’d get the deadline sorted first, and then work backwards. My diary was often chock-a-block full for up to 3 months at a time, in blocks of 1 hour with 15-minute and 30-minute breaks, and if it dropped much below that, I’d panic. I also learned how to say “no”, or “I won’t be able to do it by then for you”. This was a hard decision, as I was certain I’d never hear from them again. But more often than not they’d say: “Okay – just let us know if anything changes”.

    11. What is your querying goal for the year? (i.e. how many queries per week/month would you like to send out)?

    I’ve not done a query goal this year, yet. I need to get my writing muscle exercised first and get some on spec stuff done to remind editors that I’m still here. Then the queries will begin again. When I was doing this full time, I never wrote anything (non-fiction) that wasn’t already sold first. And then I’d send out half a dozen queries a week.

    12. What new area/genre are you willing to expand into/experiment in this year?

    This year, I’m not. I need to get going again. The Stevie Tarot story is a contemporary regional mystery. Marcie Craig is historical regional mystery. Catch the Rainbow is historical regional mystery romance. (How many genres can you fit into one title? :o) ) Next year, if this year is successful, I may try a non-fiction regional.

  2. Great stuff, Diane. I’m especially proud of you for your determination to cull energy vampires out of your life. Amazing what a difference that makes, isn’t it?

    Also, thank you so much for sharing tips on what you actually do to keep everything on track for people who are still searching.

    It sounds wonderful, and very, very organized!

  3. 1. Looking back on the previous year, without consulting your notes or the GDRS for it, what stands out in your memory as a met goal that makes you feel positive about the future?

    Slick completed and submitted to major Scottish agents and publishers.
    Hunting Jack through to “serious consideration” stage with publisher (still waiting).
    Earned 187% of last years total freelance income (13% off target).

    2. What did you find you needed to release, because, as the year progressed, it no longer worked to struggle towards it as a goal?

    I released the hope that 2008 would be the year I could begin thinking about moving to freelance on a more solid basis.
    I released the drive to push harder with my fiction, in order to fill my plate up with a larger percentage of freelance projects without realising I only have so much time to do it in.

    3. How has writing become more important in your life this past year?

    Novel writing has become much more important to me, and in particular, after three extremely enjoyable weeks at the Edinburgh Book Festival, crime fiction. I set myself up at the festival to be able to spend more time with other crime writers and it fed my belief that I fit well into the genre and my work tends to gravitate towards it. I intend on developing this further in 2009.

    4. How do you plan to move it up on the priority list this year? List three specific steps to make your writing more of a priority.

    Writing is my life and what defines me, so it is never down on my priority list. It is always up there or thereabouts, and always under my protective wing.

    5. In terms of a living wage, what do you need to adjust in your writing output in order to achieve your wage-earning goals?

    I can’t earn a living wage from writing while I’m working full-time, but I can’t pay the mortgage and bills unless I’m working full-time. I’m putting in as much time as I can – and it’s a lot (sometimes too much) – so I’ve reached a kind of balance now. However, I have resolved to finding higher paid long-term gigs from which to increase my earnings, as well as cultivating my current clients.

    6. Do you still hang on to the fallacy that if you love to write, you don’t “deserve” to be paid a decent wage for it? List three steps to move past this block.

    No, and with some of the writing friends I have around me, I had that driven out of me long ago.

    7. What large projects do you want to start this year?

    Write one new novel and one new novella
    Publish a new chapbook.

    8. What projects from the previous year do you need to complete? (Either first drafts, revisions, query letters)

    Complete and submit two fully drafted novels (Gatecrash, Blood Ties) and one novella (Greener is the Grass).

    9. What mix of smaller projects do you want to get into the pipeline this year?

    The above mentioned fiction is top of my priority list, and none I would consider are “small”. I think “small projects” would only be so if they did not directly contribute to my long-term goals and could afford to be dropped, but nothing on this year’s GDR is.

    10. How do you prioritize your projects? How do you shuffle them as your needs change?

    Logically and ruthlessly.

    11. What is your querying goal for the year? (IE, how many queries per week/month would you like to send out)?

    60 this year – well targeted and specific to my GDRs

    12. What new area/genre are you willing to expand into/experiment in this year?

    I will write a new stage play.

  4. Since you’ve got the security of the day job, you can afford, in every sense of the word, to take on only those freelance jobs that pay you what you’re worth.

    In the short run, it may mean fewer gigs. In the long run, it means that when you do make the move out of the day job, you’ll have the contacts and the credits to make a decent living.

  5. Finally got these answered.

    1. Looking back on the previous year, without consulting your notes or the GDRS for it, what stands out in your memory as a met goal that makes you feel positive about the future?

    I finished A Family Tradition, and queried several publications earlier this year. No takers, but the experience was invaluable.

    I also worked to establish and make my writers blog: Soul Echoes, a more productive presence on the web, and practiced/crafted several posts that might pass as serious web or periodical articles.

    2. What did you find you needed to release, because, as the year progressed, it no longer worked to struggle towards it as a goal?

    Not so much a goal [as I really haven’t set any for a while] I realized I’d been in mourning for the active life that for me, is no longer the same.

    3. How has writing become more important in your life this past year?

    Not so much that it’s become “more” important. I’ve been writing for years. But it’s become important to work toward supplementing my limited income—since losing 50 percent of it when I went on LTD.

    4. How do you plan to move it up on the priority list this year? List three specific steps to make your writing more of a priority.

    As soon as I can afford to, I’m buying a better chair for my desk–to help make my time at my desk less stressful

    I plan to complete more pieces in order to query, circulate, and hopefully get a snag!

    I have to start looking it is as a job. It has to take front and center.

    5. In terms of a living wage, what do you need to adjust in your writing output in order to achieve your wage-earning goals?

    I need to have a few completed works—ready for submission.

    6. Do you still hang on to the fallacy that if you love to write, you don’t “deserve” to be paid a decent wage for it?

    No. Never did!

    7. What large projects do you want to start this year?

    I just to get current works already in progress, in better order, and nearer to completion. And for me, the better focus on this question is to say I’d like to FINISH a large project this year.

    8. What projects from the previous year do you need to complete? (Either first drafts, revisions, query letters)

    Finish keying in FWCs Book One

    Finish a complete first draft of Walks with the Moon.

    Key in hand-written notes to both: Destiny’s Heir, and Vortex

    9. What mix of smaller projects do you want to get into the pipeline this year?

    Readdress my Christmas story and send out more queries.
    Maybe a piece on living with degenerating discs and fibromyalgia
    I want to do start sprouting seeds and beans.
    I also want to incorporate the dehydration of certain foods into my lifestyle, onions, celery, etc.
    Write about knitting? Or some of my other crafts, sewing
    Perfect and sell a recipe: my Sautéed Potato Salad
    Hand-dyed Quilting fabrics
    The ultimate would be to rebuild my Navajo loom and begin a new rug.

    10. How do you prioritize your projects?

    I want to utilize the Rotating Disc method I found on Lea Schiaz’s blog. And I’ll do that as soon as I can afford some new discs!

    How do you shuffle them as your needs change?

    When I get stuck on a piece, which I’ve never considered as writer’s block, I pull out another chapter or piece and work on it for awhile.

    Also, what with the fibrom., concentration is a bit of a struggle these days. Taking frequent breaks, is also a physical must—as regards my discs and legs—but, making sure I always have a notebook at hand, while in recovery mode, so that I don’t loose my train of thought, or to capture an additional one, is imperative.

    11. What is your querying goal for the year? (IE, how many queries per week/month would you like to send out)?

    I need to think on this one a little more. First I need the completed substance. And that’s where my subsequent goals will come into play.

    12. What new area/genre are you willing to expand into/experiment in this year?

    Urban Fantasy, articles


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