Goals done, gone, ahead… and a musing

Goals people make are frequently not SMART. And that makes them all fuzzy, and frustrating, frankly, when trying to assess progress. 2018 has been, for me, surprisingly good, exciting, and charges me with hope and excitement for 2019.


It’s been a year. I worked as a contractor for two months, and had the amazing, humbling, and powerful experience of writing full-time. It’s thrilling. I’ve got a spreadsheet of data (see below), but I wrote approximately three in four days this year, with an average daily word count a bit over 1,600. I developed three separate “universes” and three of the six manuscripts draw from them. The last, for a project named “Qoch,” is my first true fantasy foray. Worldbuilding is a whole different matter than alternate history timelines. Wow.

I now have a literary agent: Martha Hopkins, of Terrace Partners. For traditional publishing, agents are a critical success factor, and Martha’s got the power and panache to find the right deal for my work product.

Novels were definitely my focus. That I have four novels in progress isn’t a good thing. There are logical reasons for why they’re that way, however.

  • Ken Yirbu is on hold pending my agent getting the first novel in the series, A Day at the Zoo, sold.
  • I had an editor do a developmental edit on Last Run, so the start of next year will be consumed with getting that out to my agent. It’s done, but not ready for publishing.
  • Brightly Needing I’ve rewritten from scratch five times, but I’m only counting the last. This might be a trunk novel, but the universe and some of its characters have promise. Call it on hold for now.
  • Qoch has three novellas/novels outlined, and I’m well into the first of them. It’s always a good sign when my characters wake me up to tell me what they want to do.

On the short story side while I’ve done some writing, it’s not been at the forefront of my writing. And zero acceptances for twenty submissions isn’t indicative of anything–too few to be statistically important. On one hand I’m bummed, but the time cost in shifting from one project to another, be it small or large, is expensive. Better to focus on a single novel plus edits than get creative in a few ways all at once. The one short I started and completed in 2018, Selection Bias, I’ll shop after getting it through the Slugtribe group’s review.


I dragged my heels for years before getting a degree, and worked at Charles Schwab for a year as a product owner without any formal training. While I’m not a fan of official stamps of approval that I know something, employment site AIs and corporate recruiterfolk are increasingly buzzword scanners rather than resume readers. So my investment in Agile-related certifications will, I hope, pay off in the new year. I’ve enjoyed doing development, but I’m more attracted to working with humans than screens. (Said the man who types in front of screens for hours on end…)

2019 Goals

I like my goals to be SMART. So here they are:


  • Write two novels in the Qoch universe (~70k words each). One in 1H, one in 2H. If the Shmuley Myers mystery/thriller series sells, possibly finish Ken Yirbu.
  • Write two novellas/short stories in the Brightly Needing universe. A minimum of 100k words between the two. I still think there’s at least one full novel in it, but the shorter works might (finally) kick that off. Timing: one in each half of 2019.
  • Have Last Run off to my agent at Terrace Partners by the end of 1Q.
  • Redo this web site so it’s mobile-friendly.
  • Write a minimum of one web post per week.
  • Restart my ceramic painting creativity such that I’m putting ten hours/week into it by the end of 2Q.


  • Get a position in a company with a great culture and good folks by the end of 1Q. Work/life balance very important.
  • Based on where I get the job, buy a house, possibly with acreage and possibly for sustainability as a goal, but that’s income-dependent.
  • I worked hard in 2017/2018 to get my weight down from heavy to just big. Need to continue that progress so I can (goal here) do a twenty-mile hike in a day without turning to mush and my weight down by fifty pounds from current weight.

It’s a new swing around the sun…

I’m looking forward to applying the momentum built up so far.