Quarterly Goals / Resolution check-in

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2018 is one check in away – looks like there is going to be a mad dash towards Christmas to kick those goals!

This past quarter was awesome! I trail-blazed through the months writing like I was possessed. Got out to visit amazing places and caught up with lots of family and friends for some parties full of love and laughter. In my down time I read sooo many books and managed to get some house renovations done to magazine-quality aesthetics… pity it all happened in my head. Reality was a little different.

A few issues due to health and a holiday stole a chunk of time in meeting my goals for the July-September quarter. I was trying to force myself to finish a few projects… but with the creative process, wrestling to man-handle out the inspiration can have the reverse effect. So I stalled on the two WIP’s which would have been easily wrapped up if I hadn’t stressed myself out. Not writer’s block, but a creative slump. When you’re getting to the pointy end of a novel, the conclusion needs to zing. But I was zingless. 😦

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Though, here’s how I performed overall:

This quarter has shown the highest word count than in the past three years, however, I was working on scattered projects and not on the ones I wanted to complete. It was hard taming the muse. At least I have my groove back and am making progress – now I’m on the home stretch, as the year ends, so will many of the projects. *rubbing a rabbits foot, kissing a four-leaved clover, and tossing salt over a shoulder* It feels great to edit all the text that has been flowing from me lately.

I wanted to get some more of the renovations and furniture restorations done, but alas, while the words were flowing after a sparse previous quarter, I didn’t want to jinx it, so the manual labour I use for breaks was pushed aside. As too were any professional development studies, though, I did get a lot of research done around the publishing landscape and some marketing ideas.

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This quarter was more about getting back on the (writing) horse than anything else. I stopped blogging. Back to concentrating on the basics. Why I love writing, and what I was doing it all for. It seems to have worked, I feel like a weight has been lifted and am back to the regularly scheduled programme. So expect to see this blog coming back to life after just over a month away.

I’d say there was only a 20% progress for yearly goals overall – pitiful really, but I’m just glad to be writing again. Can’t express how terrified I was that my excitement over writing was gone. But there is only one direction left to go. Onward and upward!

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Next check in will be at the end of the year, and hopefully with some news of a publishing date in 2019!

Stay calm and carry on writing!

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© Casey Carlisle 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Quarterly Goals / Resolution check-in / Mid-year freak out

 

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Call it what you want. New Years resolutions aren’t just for being declared and forgotten… I’m posting updates each quarter on social media to keep me motivated from fear of embarrassment all through 2018.

Initially, in 2015-2017, I was creating yearly goals, but because of the amount of time that’s spanned, things were too easily put off and I wasn’t getting as much done as I wanted. I’d fiddle-fardle around until the last 3 months of the year and then go on a tear to start completing things off the checklist…. Only to finish a dismal amount of items. Just like my approach to studying in high school. *sigh* After inspiration from Jenna Moreci, I’ve re-worked my goals in to quarterly lists for 2018 and hoping to increase my productivity. I tried monthly goals in the first quarter, but found it wasn’t enough time for my lofty goals, and writing novels are chunky items to get through, so quarterly seems to be the business. Those first three months were depressing: I locked myself inside, in the dark, working my behind off and did not complete one task. Oi vey!

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Here’s a link to her latest quarterly goals video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=67VbahiISDo

So what achievements were in my sights for Apr-Jun? I wanted to complete the final edit on one manuscript and finish the first draft of another. I was also looking at expanding and updating my online platform in preparation for a marketing campaign when my novel is ready for the publishing stage. Then there were some personal goals around income, home renovations, and socialising…

How did I perform?

None were completely finished, but progressive percentages all added up to the halfway point as a whole. I feel like it’s not good enough – I should have been able to complete everything comfortably but was sidelined with a lengthy period of illness twice this quarter, and had family come to visit. Spending time with family and taking the time to recover to optimal health is important, so I’m giving myself a break. But I’m hoping to have everything ticked off and adding a few more items for July-October quarterly goals. *crosses fingers and strikes a pose in the mirror – I got this*

Is this new format working? I’d say so. With a more immediate deadline, I tend to be more focused. Value my writing time and stop distractions that waste time. I’m a checklist gal. I like to cross things of a to-do list to make me feel happy and productive. Breaking down my writing into completing set scenes/chapters has made it easier to keep the pace up for my writing goals. Especially when it gets to the pointy end of completing your novel because there is so much to keep in mind wrapping up a story, your head can get ‘full.’

It has also helped in keeping me balanced. I get out and explore the Coast a lot. I catch up with friends more frequently. Last year I was starting to feel a bit down, and on closer examination, it turned out I wasn’t leaving the house for weeks on end. No sunshine, no outside contact, just sitting at my computer for hours typing. Having those breaks – that balance – has invigorated my stamina and helped me focus when writing. I has also increased my physical health. I’m more active and my waistline and expanding rear are shrinking back to a more modest size.

How do you set goals and track your progress? What works for you? All tips and tricks greatfully welcome! List some of your best tools in the comments section.

I have always cherished and guarded my writing time, but quarterly goals have made a point in just how valuable it is. I’ve stopped falling into the social media k-hole, or binge-watching shows or YouTube videos. I set a timer and get some solid writing done each day.

Check back with you at the end of Sept, hopefully with a big list of completed items – and some great news on the writing/publishing front.

Stay calm and carry on writing!

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© Casey Carlisle 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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Thoughts about Riley Taylor, the protagonist of the YA ‘Smoulder’ series.

Who doesn’t love a kick-ass chick?

Writing getaway

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The beach, tropical sunsets… the perfect backdrop to dive into my latest writing project.

Except I didn’t.

I had every intention to scribble out some prose during this short holiday to N.S.W. But I’ve been catching up with relatives, checking out the sites, and stuffing my face with seafood. So the writing thing just ain’t going to happen. Neither will uploading the book reviews I had planned – the only internet access I have is via my phone. (So this post comes compliments of my Blackberry)

I have managed to get some reading done – as you do in tropical surrounds. I brought 3 novels with me and have since added another 2 from shopping (I’m such a lost cause and always indulge in book sales)

Final edits on my book ‘Smoulder’ have been going well though; I was hoping to have it finished by the end of Feb, but I think it’s going to be another month yet – and that’s if I don’t decide on any major re-writes.

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So the seaside locale of Ballina has been wonderful food for the soul – plenty of time to read, the sea spray and sunset walks over soft sand. I can feel the cobwebs being blown out of the grey matter! The holiday is only half over, so plenty more time to explore, edit, read and write…

This trip started out as a planned catch-up with family, but turned into a muse for plenty of prose on my return home.

Keep an eye out for more book reviews in a weeks time when I’m back to the regularly scheduled posting.

And as always happy writing (and reading)

In for the long haul?

Writing a stand-alone or beginning a series… what do you picture at the starting point?

In for the long haul by Casey Carlisle

With NaNoWriMo in full swing, I wondered how many of us writers sit down and have full intention of composing a series, or is it merely a case of the story growing larger that we first intended, leading us to subsequent volumes?

It is a bit of a mix with me (as art and the creative process always is). I remember starting my Smoulder series with every intention of it being a trilogy. I had the story of my Firestarter mapped out. But upon reviewing, I completely changed the direction of the plot and added in a whole lot more, afraid it was being too generic… and a four book story line emerged. You could put all of that down to a little self-doubt and exposure to countless reading hours of YA. I think my reading habits (market research) helped me identify major plot problems before I got too deep into the writing process.

The For keeps duology was initially one book, but fears that it would end up being a mammoth book and not lucrative for a budding author, I split it in to two volumes. It was fairly easy – There is definitely a break in the middle of the story where things change in context and was perfect tone for a GLBT contemporary novel to end (and pick up with a second instalment). As it was my first attempt at a completed novel (there had been MANY different books written beforehand but abandoned after 30 or so pages in), it needed the most work. It’s been re-written and edited to death! I’ve found that leaving it for 6 months and coming back with fresh eyes for a final edit to be the saving grace.

A science fiction series (LONERS) I started early last year popped into my head fully formed as a four-book series. It is structured a little differently to a traditional series, where either of the first three books can be read as stand-alone, companions, or out of order. That’s the beauty of sci-fi – you can mix things up a little. This experience has really flipped my attitude towards writing and made me realise that finishing a novel can be a quick, easy and rewarding experience. Or maybe that’s be buying into my own insanity :p

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And finally, the re-boot trilogy started from a few scenes in my head, and evolved into three books… and I’ve yet to decide between one of two different directions this series could take.

And so… I had books that have grown into a series, and those I plotted that way from the outset. Additionally I have some titles which could quite easily become a series, but none of the characters have raised their voices with a desire to continue their adventure as yet.

I’m always amazed at creativity and how it just shows up.

Most of the time I simply just sit and write, no planning, just me and a blank page where I’ll scribe away for hours. Then, if it feels like something, I’ll go back, tidy it up, add to it, and eventually plot out a novel, or series. So, out of 23 concepted works in progress, only two were forecasted as a more than one book franchise.

I’m really great at organising things, and could quite easily plot out everything I write before a letter appears on the page, but find I lose my characters voice that way – and consequently, my passion for writing. Plus I like to keep the work malleable, open to change or exploring other arcs. The debut in the For keeps duology deviated into a major arc that added so much to the story (and how it came about to be a duology) that I’m greatful I let the story stray from my initial imagining.

Who knows if what I’m writing is any good or makes any sense – but the point is: I have to write. I write for me. To be entertained, to escape, to laugh, to vent (and the list goes on…)

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And I’ve committed to the decision to give this writing thing a professional go.

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I guess everyone’s process is different, but I simply wanted to share mine and am interested to learn of other author’s process. How do you write a series? Do you need some major brainstorming before beginning, or does it just happen?

Smoulder series by Casey Carlisle

re-boot trilogy by Casey Carlisle

LONERS series by Casey Carlisle

For keeps duology by Casey Carlisle

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© Casey Carlisle 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Excerpt from ‘Smoulder’ (Book 1 in the Smoulder series) by Casey Carlisle

Smoulder Series Tiles for excerpt

Focused on my little investigation, I neglected to notice Teddy saunter into school, or his surveillance of my activities. I didn’t register Mr Ried’s words in our morning Homeroom announcements as I stewed on my predicament. Instead of heading to my first lesson, as soon as we were dismissed, I hurried to find Tom.

He must have known what was coming, because as soon as Tom noticed my approach, his skin drained white while he stood near the entrance to an empty classroom.

“Can we talk?”

“In here.” Tom led me into the vacant room, closing the door behind us. “I wish I could reverse what I did. You were right. I should have stood up to Teddy. This should never have happened.”

“It’s a bit late for that now. The damage has been done. They don’t remember anything that’s happened between us since I started, not exactly. Rebekah and Bernie didn’t even know who I was.”

“I didn’t think it was that bad.”

“You didn’t think. That’s the whole problem isn’t it?”

“Riley. I’ll do anything, anything to make this right.”

“I’m really trying not to hate you at the moment.” Upon spitting out those words a tear escaped, trailing down the side of Tom’s face.

I wished that I felt guilty, that I could stop, but the venom of my rage failed to waver.

“Riley please-“

“You violated their minds. An essential part of who they are. Doesn’t that occur to you? How serious this is?”

“Of course it does. I don’t do any of this lightly.” The pleading tone had left his voice, replaced with the harsh edge of irritation.

“Like you did with Mrs Noble? That was hardly the last possible choice of action. You could have made up a story, lied?”

Tom simply hung his head, searching for an answer.

“All of you have gotten so used to relying on your abilities, even though you want to appear normal, disconnected from the rest of us. Every time you go alakazam, you fly in the face of everything you’re trying to achieve.” I stepped close, so the seriousness of my face clouded his vision. “Either take ownership of what you can do, limit the damage, or don’t do it at all.”

“I hate this.” He whimpered back. “This is exactly what I didn’t want.”

“I don’t mean to attack you like this-“ I couldn’t finish my sentence as emotion ebbed like a tidal wave from my feet to the tip of my head.

My body sprung forth and I caught Tom in a tight hug, a loud sob escaping from somewhere deep in my throat.

“This feels so helpless.” He croaked as thick arms clutched me against a muscular chest.

Realisation struck at what I was doing, and I pushed him away – well, rather forced myself off his solid frame – my eyes freely trickling with tears as I stalked vehemently from the room.

Hurrying to my special place, I curled up on the bench and willed for the tears to stop. Why was I so upset? Did Tom just use some mind-mojo on me? I waited out the rest of the lesson, using the time to regain my composure.

All through my next lesson, Maths, I pushed every thought of Tom – and that involuntary embrace – into a box locked away deep into the overactive neurons of my cranium. Sneakily pulling out my mobile, I sent a text to Teddy, asking him to meet me at my car for morning break. He was the next victim on my hit list. It was time I made my feelings clear, and be done with him once and for all.

The interior of my bug was like an oven, baked under a boiling sun, I started the engine and cranked up the air conditioning and watched students milling about outside, on alert for Teddy’s approach. I switched on the radio after a minute… where was he?

Just before I ran out of patience and resorted to another text, Teddy appeared through the external doors and headed in a straight line towards where I sat. My heart skipped, it annoyed me how he still managed to boggle my senses, his smooth gait so effortlessly cool. I needed to stay angry to make my point, scowling as he reached the car, knocking at the window. I waved for him to climb in, watching the circumference of the building to see if we were being spied upon.

“This is a little intimate.” He smirked as soon as he pulled the door closed, the radio broadcasting a love song I could not identify.

I switched it off.

“I didn’t want anyone to overhear me screaming at you.” I replied and his smile instantly faded.

“Tom said you tore strips off him.” Of course he did!

“So you know just how angry I am. How indecent it is of you to ask me to be okay with everything that has gone down?”

“I understand. It won’t happen again.”

“And this thing between us-“

“There is still an us?”

“If, and I re-iterate, if, we continue to see each other, I am not going to choose you over my friends. You’re going to have to come up with some other way around keeping what you want secret. Scrubbing out peoples’ memories is no longer an option.”

Teddy replied with a nod and stared at his lap.

“You’re not going to say anything back?”

“I don’t know what to say. At this point let’s just agree to disagree.”

“I can’t be with anybody who condones involuntarily stripping away parts of peoples’ lives.”

“It’s not like that.”

“Then enlighten me. Help me understand; because I want to. I don’t want to feel this way about you.” My words seemed to hit home and Teddy squinted in pain.

“It might be easier for you to understand if you had been living with us for a while. But Roberts’ hunches, they’re never wrong. And he truly believed that there was no other option, a choice between two terrible things, we took the one that meant less death.”

“Less death? Someone is going to die?”

“We think so.”

Another shock, more information that he drip-fed me.

“Get out.”

“What?”

“Please, go. I need to be alone.” He climbed out of the car, pausing before gently closing the door.

“You can ask me anything. Anytime. Just call me and I’ll be there.”

I didn’t want to be sitting at school any longer, with 10 minutes of our break left, I decided to shirk the rule of not leaving the school grounds, and coasted out of the lot, heading towards the closest road out of Alice Springs.

Living in such a small burg, the buildings receded into the scrub very quickly, and within minutes I was surrounded with powder green shrubs and ore coloured rubble. It was the perfect place to gather my thoughts; a clear open sky, nature nestling in from every angle. Parking under the large shadow of a River Gum I waited for my mind to stop reeling.

At least I was taking charge of the situation, although, I did just run away again… Teddy promised no more hidden facts, and I had gotten exactly what I asked for. Was I really capable of handling this? It could be so easy to end all ties and stick my head back into the sand, live out the rest of High School blinkered from the Tavish clan. I could – if I didn’t lose control of my faculties whenever I was in a room with one of them. Resting my head on the steering wheel I prayed a solution would simply fall into my lap and life would be uncomplicated again.

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© Casey Carlisle 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.