I want to set realistic goals, but at the same time, challenge myself. I also want a clear list from which I can refer to at the start of 2021 to see what I have achieved and what I have failed to accomplish. Aside from that, I want to include in my list those that I have failed and keep doing so yearly until I achieve them (unless if they don’t make sense to be redone). And for those that I have achieved, I should either keep it or increase it – although, this only applies to countable goals (like how many books to read).

Now that I have set some ground rules, here are my goals…

2020 Reading Goals

  • Read 50 Books. I thought 50 books would be more or less easy for me, but I actually just barely made it last year. So this year, I’m gonna maintain this goal and hopefully, it’s easier this time around.
  • Beta read 3 WIPs. Last year from September to mid-November, I beta read 2 projects completely, and the first part of another project. More or less, I had a good experience, and so I hope to do the same this year. I’m doing the second part of that project now, signed up for another one just recently which will start soon, and will be looking for a third one once I’m done with that. (FYI, WIP stands for Work In Progress. Also, FYI stands for For Your Information. 😜)
  • Read 5 books published in 2020. I haven’t yet decided which books these are, but I’ll definitely be checking out books that are set to release this year and see what catches my interest.
  • Read 5 indie books published in 2020. I know some indie authors who will be releasing books this year, so I’m excited about those.
  • Read 5 books that won Goodreads Choice Awards in 2019. I expect these “award-winning” books to be excellent, so I’m going to be checking out that list for anything that interests me. And also to update myself as I may be slightly outdated.
  • Read 5 books from my Scribbler subscription boxes. I have been subscribed to Scribbler since mid last year but have yet to read any of the books that came with the boxes. I have a library of books on my iPad so I usually default to that for reading choices. Now, that I have my TBR cleared, I’m gonna check out those Scribbler books. (Scribbler is a monthly subscription box that comes with a book and writerly goodies. Check out their website here.)
  • Read 12 dark fantasy or horror books. My current project, tentatively called “Claire of the Corpses” is a dark fantasy (and horror, if I can help it) story. So naturally, I would like to read books from the same genre, maybe after I finish the draft, while I let it breathe. (I actually did “finish” the draft during NaNoWriMo last year, but I skipped several scenes and so I intend to fill them all up before going into revisions.)
  • Read the books I should have read last year. I talk about them in my last post, and this shall be the year I finally complete that list. 🤞

2020 Writing Goals

  • Complete COTC draft by March. COTC stands for “Claire of the Corpses” which is the tentative title for my current WIP.
  • Finalize TMM revised outline in April (Camp NaNoWriMo). This is my WIP for my 2018 NaNoWriMo project and this outline needs a huge overhaul! Before I even start writing one word of (well, a brand new) draft, I want to produce a cohesive outline that flows well. TMM stands for “The Moonseeker’s Medallion”, though recently I’ve changed the title to “Davathad” (which means “war” in my fictional language). Both these titles are tentative.
  • Finish COTC revisions in July (Camp NaNoWriMo). Hopefully, I can complete the draft in March so I can use Camp NaNoWriMo in July to do the revisions. I don’t want to start revisions right after completing the draft, as I may be too close to it to objectively correct mistakes, find plot holes, etc.
  • Brainstorm an outline for “New Project” in October (Preptober). I want to use NaNoWriMo to work on new ideas. This is the time to set aside anything I’m currently working on and focus on the ideas I have put on hold. I’m not sure if this is a good idea, jumping from one project to another, but depending on the actual progress of TMM and COTC by that time, I may just have to work on one of them for Nano and skip this step.
  • Draft 50K words of “New Project” in November (NaNoWriMo). I do intend to win NaNo again this year.
  • Write 12 new poems. I actually wish to join NaPoWriMo in April, but since last year I wasn’t even able to write 12 poems, I’ll just repeat that goal until I’m able to do it. (Okay, actually that’s a lie, I did write more than 12 poems but some of them are depressing and are about actual people that I don’t want to share them. I guess the goal is really to write and post 12 new poems.) Then, I can think about participating in NaPoWriMo. (NaPoWriMo is National Poetry Writing Month, which is in April. Check out their website here.)

2020 Blogging Goals

  • Post every Sunday. Definitely maintain a consistent posting schedule. Starting today.
  • Post at least 1 poem per month. This will tie in nicely to my 12 poems goal, although I’m hoping for more than 12 poems. I also want to write more haiku and free verse poems this year.
  • Review Witcher books. Witcher is constantly on my mind after having just watched the show. The Witcher books were the books I read after I’ve finished rereading the A Song of Ice And Fire books, like, five times that I had to tell myself to go find another book. Witcher 3 is my favorite video game of all time and I’ve spent more than 300 hours on it. This franchise is quite valuable to me so I thought it should reflect a little bit on my blog by reviewing the books.
  • Post reviews of the books I read for Indiecember 2019. I’m either gonna just repost the ones I posted on Amazon/Goodreads, or write about them a little bit more for this blog.
  • Create a WIP updates page to track my WIP progress publicly. It just makes me feel more accountable and motivate me to work on them more.

Aside from the above, I’ve decided to include some personal goals as well. Typical personal goals are financial goals and fitness goals. So I’m gonna go ahead and give those a shot:

2020 Financial Goals

  • Increase my Savings ratio by 1%. What the hell am I talking about? I’m talking about the “50-30-20 Rule”, which corresponds to Needs-Wants-Savings. Basically, it means that 50% of your spending should go to Needs (such as rent, bills, etc), 30% on Wants (shopping, entertainment, etc.), and 20% on savings or financial goals (like savings, investments, retirement plans, etc.). I began tracking my expenses in June of last year when I just started my new job, and based on that, my ratio is approximately 49-31-20. Which means Needs is 49%, Wants is 31%, and Savings is 20%. It’s unlikely my Needs will change, so I guess I’d like to transfer that 1% from Wants to Savings this year.

2020 Fitness Goals

  • Do plank pose for at least two minutes every day. I’m taking inspiration from my colleague on this as she does it and recommends it. I tried to do it in December but didn’t really do it daily. So I’ll do this goal for 2020 and if I can do it consistently, then maybe I can think about better fitness goals in 2021. I generally don’t like to exercise 😅 so I don’t want to overwhelm myself with fitness goals this year.

 

Do you think these goals are feasible? Am I challenging myself a little too much? Or maybe, it’s not enough and I need to challenge myself more?

 

I mentioned my 2019 goals in this post and it’s now time to check if I achieved them.

Reading Goals in 2019:

Why did I not read those 4 other books? It probably was because the other indie books from the Indiecember prize pack arrived and… I got distracted by them 😅

Writing Goals

  • Participate in Camp NaNoWriMo – ACHIEVED
  • Participate in NaNoWriMo – ACHIEVED
  • 12 Poems – PARTIALLY ACHIEVED 😓 I only did 10 new poems in 2019:

Blogging Goals for 2019:

  • Although, I said in the post that I don’t have any blogging goals, but I did say in this other post that I will be blogging on Sundays starting in September. However, I did not do that consistently so this one will have to be a FAIL. Sigh.

I’m hoping to finalize my 2020 goals this weekend and will be posting them soon.

Did you also have reading, writing, and blogging goals in 2019? Did you achieve any of them?

Indiecember is a reading challenge created by the lovely Megan Tennant in order to motivate people to read indie books and write reviews on them in December. It comes with a bingo board that has 25 labeled squares. For each indie book you review, you can cross out the squares that match it until you fill-up the board in flush style. Or, just cross out a line of squares bingo-style, but for only one matching square per book. Players who win will be able to fill out a form to get entry into a huge giveaway going down in January! For more info, check out megantennant.com/indiecember or her Indiecember YouTube video.

23-NUMBER-GRIDx5xSo, what is this Indiecember Writing Tag?

It’s like another bingo game for writers, where you get a board of numbers 1 through 25, each with corresponding questions, and you pick or randomly generate a number and answer the corresponding question until you get a bingo! Megan Tennant has a video on it as well, including the full list of questions.

I ended up with 16 unique numbers that I randomly generated (thank you Google, for providing a random number generator) before finally getting a bingo. Whew!

Anyway, without further ado…

(more…)

IMG_0783This is going to be a quick update: I’m proud to report I won NaNoWriMo with a total of 50,195 words! I was planning to update my blog as I go along, but I was just so drained every day that I really struggled to even catch up to the recommended word count even towards the end. Posting a blog update just felt like more struggle. I don’t know why I’m feeling this way, honestly, but I can tell you, if it weren’t for my outline, I probably would have completely lost. However, because I already know the direction it’s heading, writing the story became less exciting to me. Does that make me a natural pantser? Pantsing makes me go off-tangent pretty quickly, though, so that was why I felt – and still feel – that outlining is the smarter move for me. Not to mention during pantsing, when I get a writer’s block… I really get a writer’s block. Outlining means, even when I’m not feeling it, I know what to write about, even though it may not excite me at that time. Is there a nice and sweet middle ground for this? Regardless, I’m definitely learning more about myself and the kind of writer I am. And that’s one of the great things about NaNoWriMo!

Did you participate in NaNoWriMo? Did you learn something about yourself as a writer?

It’s beyond midnight of Nov 3 (therefore it’s Nov 4 already, here in Singapore) and I just want to blog about a few NaNoWriMo stats. I don’t expect the same kind of progress during weekdays so I’m glad I have this buffer.

 

Day 1

Words Written: 1,773

Total Word Count: 1,773 / 50,000

Scenes Completed: 1

Total Scenes Completed: 1 / 64

 

Day 2

Words Written: 3,395

Total Word Count: 5,168 / 50,000

Scenes Completed: 3

Total Scenes Completed: 4 / 64

Special Note: I got a treat from my husband for hitting the 5K milestone. I got a snack called “Yan Yan” which is a childhood snack that I love but don’t often eat anymore. Yum! I can’t wait to find out what I get for 10K! 

 

Day 3

Words Written: 3,571

Total Word Count: 8,739 / 50,000

Scenes Completed: 4

Total Scenes Completed: 8 / 64

 

Reflections…

I ended up including two characters I didn’t plan for who each only showed up for one scene. I’ve also changed a character’s name (“Trisha”) because it sounded too much like another character’s name (“Tristan”, her brother). It was advised by someone who was nice enough to critique my outline. The new name is still similar (“Kristin”), but not too similar, I hope? Lastly, anything I ended up thinking about on the spot, I just added in “[ ]” even though it’s not actually related to the scene I’m currently working on, but maybe a big-picture thought, or something I want to add or detract from a previous scene. This keeps me from going back to read the previous scenes (and the risk of rereading and editing them). Usually, though, it’s something I want to include later in the current scene.

 

Are you participating in NaNoWriMo?

If so, have you met your NaNoWriMo goals this weekend?

IMG_0245In a previous blog post, I mentioned a checklist of what I intend to prepare before NaNoWriMo hits:

  1. Chapter Outline
  2. Character Descriptions
  3. Aesthetics/Moodboard
  4. Writing Music Playlist
  5. Milestone Rewards

It’s now the end of October, and I think I did well for myself, although there are still a lot of kinks to sort out and a lot of details missing. However, the missing details won’t hinder me too much and I can work through them after, if not during NaNoWriMo (but I don’t want to spend too much time on them during Nano). Before I proceed with my update, I would like to mention the book that helped me sort out my story – Outlining Your Novel Workbook by K.M. Weiland. I’ve read the book and learned a lot so I decided to go ahead and purchase the workbook.

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I have not completed the workbook yet and don’t really have the time to complete it before Nano, but I enjoyed the exercises. Basically, the book presents exercises through questions that you can answer to flesh out elements of your story more. I have completed Chapter 1 (The Premise), Chapter 2 (General Sketches) is partly done and partly being worked on, and I’ve done a bit as well for the rest of the chapters (Backstory, Character Interviews, Setting, Extended Outline, Unconventional Outlines). Maybe next year I’ll do this same workbook again, but start my prepping in September. (Or earlier!) I am eyeing another workbook about story structure by the same author, which I will probably do when I’ve completed the draft and in revising mode. I don’t know when that will be because, after Nano, I plan to go back to the fantasy WIP I had been working on and shelve this story for the meantime.

Without further ado, here’s my progress so far:

✔︎ Chapter Scene Outline

Instead of a chapter outline, I’ve created an outline for all the scenes in my story. There are 64 in total excluding the Prologue and Epilogue which are just very short scenes and will be written last if I really need them. Of course, I intend to group the scenes into chapters, but for now, the scene list is enough. Here is a glimpse of my scene outline using the corkboard view in Scrivener:

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I’ve numbered and titled each scene but those are for my own use only. I’m definitely going to go with the chapter title (or just the number) once I’ve grouped them into chapters, which will be separated by folders in Scrivener.

✔︎ Character Descriptions

This is definitely still a work in progress along with my setting descriptions (which I didn’t put in my checklist, silly me), but I have properly identified which characters or groups of characters will be present on which scenes (as well as the location/settings). In case you don’t know, Scrivener allows you to link them through document bookmarks. This means that when you click a scene, you can see which characters are in it, and likewise, if you click a character, you can see which scenes this character is in. Below is a quick look at my character list.

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As you can see, it’s still very much in progress, and the names are not final either because they were hastily thought out. But for NaNoWriMo, I will stick to those names. My working title is “Claire of the Corpses” and if I’m gonna keep that, then I’ll have to keep the name Claire.

✔︎ Aesthetics/Moodboard

I went ahead and created a Pinterest board for my story and here’s a shot of it:

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It is a private board so I won’t be sharing it, but it helps me visualize the look and feel of my story. It is also still in progress (and will probably always be in progress?) and I will be putting images in there from time to time if something catches my eyes (or if I find myself going down the Pinterest rabbit hole).

✔︎ Writing Music Playlist

This is a private Spotify playlist I’ve set up for my writing sessions which mirrors the tone of the story.

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Most of the music on the list are instrumental versions of songs or soundtrack from games and anime. I would say it is also still in progress as I intend to add more music to it.

😅 Milestone Rewards

Although I have some vague ideas of what rewards I could give myself per milestone (mostly sweets), I don’t know which milestones to use. Do I do it every 5k increment? 10k? Do I follow the writing badges in NaNoWriMo? In any case, I know what reward I will give myself after Nano, and that is a new iPad. My current iPad screen is broken and since it’s old I’ve decided to get a new one rather than try to see if they can repair the broken screen. I’ve been thinking of getting a new one for a while now, but when Preptober hit, I’ve decided I won’t be buying a new one until after Nano. Note that the iPad can be a distraction, after all, so after Nano will be the perfect time to get one.

So that’s it for my Preptober Update! I still have some time to get that ✔︎ for Milestone Rewards, but in any case, I am now much more confident about winning NaNoWriMo 2019, which is why I’m gonna go ahead and order that winner shirt right now!

It’s officially Preptober and I am going to be working on prepping for my NaNoWriMo 2019 project for the whole month of October.

I have a fantasy WIP that I’ve been working on, the same project I did for last year’s NaNoWriMo, but that one’s massive. It has multiple characters, multiple POVs, dragons, sorcerers, war(s), fictional language(s), lore… definitely requires me to create a world map, and I don’t even know how to begin with that… Let’s just say the very thorough outline I’ve been (re)working on for that will definitely not be ready by November.

So, therefore, I’ve decided to revisit an idea that I’ve never drafted before and use that for NaNoWriMo. It’s dark supernatural fantasy with — and this is key — only one main character (YAY!).

I’ve started doing some prep work right at the beginning of October, and here’s a couple of screenshots of my synopsis and outline (using Scrivener):

Those are not final at all and I don’t even have a title or any character names. However, I’m excited to plot it for the whole month of October and draft it when November comes.

Can I get 50K words? Even though I was able to accomplish that last year, I’m not as confident this year because my personal circumstances were different. However, I have learned from last year so I guess this year may be smoother and I might actually accomplish it.

Here are the things that I will be preparing based on what I learned from last year:

  1. Chapter Outline
  2. Character Descriptions
  3. Aesthetics/Moodboard
  4. Writing Music Playlist
  5. Milestone Rewards

I feel that drafting will definitely be easier if these things are prepared beforehand. I have a tendency to get off-tangent, thereby ending up with subplots that don’t advance the story. A chapter outline will keep me on track, hopefully. I also spend a lot of time fussing over character names, descriptions, personalities, etc, so preparing them in advance will definitely save me time. The rest are just to help motivate me when the time comes, so they’re not really priority.

Are you planning to join this year’s NaNoWriMo? Will you be preparing for it this month? Do you think my prep list is good enough?

I’ll be sure to give an update on my next post. Thank you for reading!

It’s been a while since I last posted anything, so I guess I’m overdue for an update. My social media is pretty much updated (more or less) but it seems that blogging is a different beast. Without further ado, here are a few updates:

Wedding

I recently got married (last May) in Cebu, Philippines and I’d say the wedding was quite fun and great and it went better than we expected. 😁  It’s a black-and-white beach wedding and here’s a few shots:

Credits: Venue — Plantation Bay Resort & Spa | Coordination — BridesBestfriend.ph | Event Styling — First Of April | Photography — Blinkbox Photos

WIP

I joined Camp Nanowrimo in July… and failed 😭. My plan was to go for 50 hours and I got in about 5 😂. 

Right now I’m reworking my entire outline (again). But this time, it will be very detailed, as I will be fleshing out story and character developments starting from the ending and going backwards as much as I can. I want to make sure that all the necessary loose ends are tied up nicely as I seem to have that habit of creating new subplots as I go without any idea as to how they’re gonna be tied up in the end.

For those points in the story where I have no idea what to do, I do some writing sprints to get the juices flowing. And if I find something I can use in the outline, I get to put it in there and scrapped what isn’t really needed. If I write a particularly good scene or idea, I’ll keep it in my notes for reference later when I start drafting.

So This will definitely take a lot more time as my story is quite massive and I may not be able to fully complete my outline by the time NaNoWriMo in November comes along. But we’ll see! I still intend to join NaNoWriMo regardless of my WIP progress (and win it).

Here are a few things that are helpful to me:

MyWriteClub is in beta right now, Scrivener is a paid app but there is a free trial period, and WorldAnvil has a free tier but I’m using a paid tier for the option to make my world private.

Work

Right after the honeymoon, I started working again and I found that I really like the company I’m working at right now compared to the last one. However, my time for writing will be incredibly shorter now but I’m planning to write on weekends and weeknights.

Weekends

… specifically Sundays shall be the days I’ll be uploading new content here on a regular basis! (Starting with this one!)

Website

I have another website mainly for my poetry book at sathepinemarco.com created by Partridge Publishing, the supported self-publishing company I hired to self-publish my book (because I didn’t know anything about self self-publishing the time I bought their services). The website is part of the package so that’s nice, but I don’t know if it can even be updated without having to pay them, or if I can update it myself. I did ask, but no response as of yet.

Lastly, this website (sathepine.com) is the one I’ll be updating, of course. Since my last post, I have made some changes to the design and layout, including the theme, so hope you like it!

IMG_7244

I participated in Camp NaNoWriMo last month and achieved my initial goal of 30,000 words a bit early, so I increased it to 45,000 which I still achieved with the final total of 45,349 words!

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Unfortunately, it feels like a hollow victory.

I wrote 50,000+ last NaNoWriMo and realized that I needed to change the outline of my WIP and rewrite some scenes in a different POV.

So I rewrote the 45,000+ words with the previous 50k-word draft as a guide.

But that is only Part I of my novel, which is meant to consist of 3 parts.

It feels like I haven’t progressed at all, even though I did make improvements. But even then I felt that I should have just let it be for the meantime and continue on writing until I complete the whole novel. I would still have the chance to make improvements later on, anyway.

It’s just that Part II is so daunting because of the scenes that it requires. So I guess I chickened out and revised Part I instead (and it’s not even finished, some scenes are incomplete!).

Actually, the whole book is so ambitious! For example, I have a spreadsheet full of made-up words because the seventeen-year-old me — who started this whole thing — decided I needed a made-up language. Now I feel compelled to translate anything “ancient” that I come up with. I can’t just name random characters normally because all the other names are made-up — again, courtesy of seventeen-year-old me — and I have a shit ton of characters. And there are three magic systems. Not one, but three.

41sc1mtntjlRight after Camp NaNoWriMo, I started reading Save the Cat! Writes A Novel by Jessica Brody. The first part talks about the hero… and with my multiple characters, I’m kind of stuck. But I am enjoying the book and learning a lot from it. I love the exercises at the end of each topic but I want to do them in sequence. I’m still stuck with handling the character arcs of the potential main characters, and choosing the one true main character from among them. According to the book, “If you’re writing a story with multiple main characters and/or multiple points of view and you’re still having problems figuring out who the hero is, or whose arc is the biggest, try asking yourself, Which of my main characters is most like my reader?” and this is definitely helpful for me.

The title itself is also a struggle for me. At first it was supposed to be “The Moonseeker’s Medallion”, then I changed it to “Davathad” which is supposed to mean war in my made-up language, but I’m not quite satisfied with either of these. But I’ll leave it be for now and I’m definitely coming back to it once I’m done with the first draft.

Like the title, I’ve now come to the conclusion that it might be better to write or rewrite the prologue and first chapter of my novel once I’m done with my draft. I’ve probably revised both of them 10 times or so, wondering if they set the right tone or if they provide a good hook. Instead of worrying about them, I should just continue on for now and by the time I get back to them, I’ll be a better writer with a better grasp of my story. Here’s hoping.

Last week, I let my fiance read my prologue and first scene of the first chapter. When I told him the story verbally, he seemed quite bored and I felt quite bored telling it. 😬 Not a good sign. I had ended up telling him a bunch of backstories and when I realized he was bored, I just stopped and decided maybe he didn’t need to hear it right now 😅 When he read the synopsis, he said it’s too generic it could be written by an A.I. 😂 It’s true because I feel that the not-so-generic plot points are spoilery so I just gave a broad overview of the story.

With aid from a mysterious medallion, the Dragon King and his forces invade the Elder Kingdoms to prevent a dreaded prophecy, while a secret society aims to stop him and restore balance. 

This has got to change. I want to change the term “Elder” as well but I can’t think of a replacement. (Off the top of my head, “Elder” has been used in Harry Potter “Elder Wand”; in Skyrim/”Elder Scrolls”; in Witcher “Elder Blood”, “Elder Speech”, “Unseen Elder”; in Monster Hunter “Elder Dragons”; and I’m sure other places as well! I use “Elder Kingdoms” and “Elderblood” in my book but if I could change them into some other term I will.)

Anyway, before I let my fiance go, I asked him to read the prologue and the first scene of the (very long) first chapter which was only a few pages. I was hoping to get some constructive criticism and maybe some idea on how to improve it because I’ve been revising them several times already. He was able to provide some good feedback, and surprisingly he actually liked them. He said I shouldn’t change them and that they give enough reason for the reader to continue with the story. But note that he himself did not continue because he wants to play his MMORPG already 😂

Something else on my mind is getting a Critique Partner. I don’t have one. But I don’t know how much I can commit to writing my own work and critiquing others because I’ll be going back to work as software engineer in June. My writing time will be decidedly limited then. My very ambitious novel will probably take a long time, considering I won’t be satisfied with one draft. It has to undergo at least five revisions before I will be satisfied to even get to the beta reading phase. I have to plan out my timeline first as well as what I intend to so for July’s Camp NaNoWriMo and November’s NaNoWriMo because I’ll be participating for sure.

This post is meant for future me more than anyone else. But if you’re reading this, I give you my thanks 😊