Writing goals {March 2018}

Bye-bye, February; hello, March.

I have rather mixed feelings about February, so I guess I can only be happy about March being already here. Another chance to start afresh. And time to make set myself some new goals for this brand-new months we’re starting today.

Last month was okay. Okay-ish, maybe. As usual, I didn’t write as much as I would have liked BUT I did managed to write, edit and submit a few flash stories, so all in all, I should be satisfied with what I did. Nevertheless, I didn’t fulfill my writing goals for February. In case you’re wondering about everything I didn’t do, I didn’t edit a short story that’s been waiting for me to do so since last year’s November, and I didn’t finish the short story I meant to write. But as I said, I finished a few other stories and started a a few more.

I don’t know, but I’m starting to think that if I’m failing month after month to finish writing or editing a certain story, maybe this is a sign that those stories are not so worthy. Or maybe they’re more complex and the ideas need more time to take form in my head … dunno. I’d love to read your opinions on this.

Anyway. Here we are again, with 31 days ahead of us to write, read, celebrate or sleep. Whatever it is that takes your fancy. For me, one of the things I want to do more is writing. I want to really try and write something everyday. Even if it’s just a sentence for any of my WIPs (works in progress, that’s it. I learnt that acronym last month and I love it). But this is too vague a goal and non-concrete, measurable goals certainly call for failure. So let’s break this down into something more manageable.

  • I have been thinking for a couple of months now about a story I really want to write. A longer story – nothing under 1000 words. After much sketching characters, drafting scenes and imagining the main features of that new universe, I think I am ready to tackle this project. So the ONE thing I want to do this month is to write, everyday, something for this story. Daunting, I know. I don’t aspire to end the month with a full first draft but let’s say that I am aiming for 15000 words. In March that’s less than 500 words a day.
  • I want to submit at least two short stories.
  • I want to read four books. Okay, there’s a bit of cheating in here because I am already halfway through two (The Fellowship of the Ring and a collection of Celtic tales) so what I really mean is that I want to finish those two books plus some other two.

And that’s it. Let’s do this.

And what about you? What are your goals for this month? What are you planning for March?

Have a cool March!


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Currently reading: The Lord of the Rings

I have been meaning to read The Lord of the Rings for ages. Well, for years anyway. But for some reason or another, I always put it off. Several years ago I was too busy studying, then I was always in the middle of some other book, I was reading the seven Harry Potter books in the last two years, and many other similar excuses. Now, the time has finally come for me to read them. And so far, so good. I am enjoying The Fellowship of the Ring as much as the Peter Jackson’s films.

Tolkien had been under my radar since I was a teenager but I never considered him worthy of my time. My best friend LOVED his books. All of them. She could spend hours and hours discussing The Hobbit, TLOTR trilogy, The Silmarillion, The Unfinished Tales, anything by Tolkien, really. But I simply wouldn’t buy it. And now, many years later, here I am. A self-proclaimed Tolkien fan making up for all the wasted time during my teens.

I am already on Book 2 of The Fellowship of the Ring, so I still have many, many pages to read but, hopefully, I’ll finish all three books by the end of the year. In the meantime I am enjoying this journey and to get a better insight into Tolkien’s masterpiece, I am following a read-along hosted by Hamlette at The Edge of the Precipice. She has been writing detailed posts for every chapter and it is always a joy to read her opinions, favourite quotes and little nuggets of wisdom. I am way behind her, anyway, but I still think that it is a great thing to do and I can’t thank her enough for all the time she dedicates to write those beautiful posts and answer the comments discussing them.


So, this is pretty much what I’m up to these days. I haven’t had that much time for writing this month and I haven’t completed almost any of the projects I had in progress. Hopefully things will get smoother by the second half of the year because right now I’m busy, busy, busy. And exhausted. Always exhausted regardless of how many hours I sleep at night.

Anyway, because I haven’t had that much time or energy or the appropriate mindset or whatever it is that I need for writing, I am focusing on reading and on improving my critical reading skills. So one thing I have done this month is to come up with a list of fifty classics to read during the next five years and join The Classics Club (a blogging community of sorts for people interested in classics). You can check my list here. And yep, another blog. I thought it would be best to start a new blog for all the things related to this new literary quest.


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A whimsical day of sorts

Today I am thirty-three years and four months old. A most tender age, if you ask me. And a curious one, for if I reached the considerable age of a hundred, today I would have loved one third of my life. Funny, isn’t it?

It doesn’t seem entirely unreasonable to me to think that I will live a hundred years old: one of my grandmas passed away a couple of weeks before turning 101 and my other grandma also left us at the age of 98. Nevertheless, I am aiming for 117. One hundred and seventeen, I like the ring of it. So who knows.

Anyway, the important thing about this all is that time goes by. And quickly. So I better write and write and work and work towards achieving my goals because this might be  the only life we get to live and for me one third might already be gone.

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Voting for Sword, Sorcery and Subway Cars now open

Good morning, world!

In case you missed it, I got a new story published last month at The Astounding Outpost. It’ll be part of their Sword, Sorcery and Subway Cars collection.

Every month (or so) they publish a themed anthology and run a contest where readers can pick their favourite story. Editors also choose the best story, according to them anyway and cash prizes are distributed. Nice deal, isn’t it?

Voting poll is now open for last month’s stories so you can go and vote for Saving the Shamrock here. Just follow the link, click on the name of the story you like best and hit ‘Vote’. Easy-peasy.

Also, if you haven’t read it yet, you can find Saving the Shamrock online here.

Much appreciated it you show some love to my story!

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And the winners are …

Last month David Wing of Zero Flash asked me to guest judge the January entries for their monthly competition and I gladly agreed. I have no experience whatsoever and had never done anything remotely similar, like being a slush reader. But it sounded like fun, and fun it was. And educational as well.

As writers we’re told that reading is one of the best, if not the best, ways to learn to write (besides writing and writing and writing). Of course, you have to read with a different mindset than that of a recreational reader in order to pick up the techniques and language subtleties that turn an average idea into an outstanding fiction. And when you are going through the scores of stories in your slush pile, your brain is extra alert to spot what works and what doesn’t, what’s a good story and what isn’t really a story at all. In other words, you’re giving your reading muscles a good workout. So no wonder many successful genre writers started in the trenches, proof-reading, copy-editing or editing all sorts of magazines out there, particularly in these days of e-zines, blogs and every other kind of internet publications.

But I digress, as usual.

Last weekend I had a great time reading some forty stories and choosing a winner was hard. Very hard. There were so many good stories: interesting ideas, surprising turns and beautiful wording – really good stories. You can go and read all entries for Zero Flash January competition here. And congratulations to Alex L Williams, M.P. McCune and Jenny Woodhouse, 1st, 2nd and 3rd place respectively, and to the runner-ups Kris McGinnis, Rebecca Field and Alex Z. Salinas. BIG CONGRATS!

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Writing goals {February 2018}

Oh my, January is already come and gone, way too fast I would say. But maybe that’s just me because I was on holidays for the first ten days of the month and it still took me nearly a week to get my bearings in this new year. Call it what you want, the harsh reality is that February is already here.  The nice side of this reality is that it is time to make some new resolutions for the month we’re starting today.

This year I took a brad-new approach to new years’ resolutions. Besides not really making any personal new years resolutions (okay, I set to read at least 24 books this year and I am hoping to travel to Malaga in June and Scotland later this year) I decided that instead of setting myself some magnificent writing goals for the year whose weight would drag me down month after month, I would break things down in smaller, more manageable chunks. So I came up with the idea of monthly writing goals. You guessed it. And not too original, I know.

Anyway, things have worked out rather good in January, in spite of time constraints. I wanted to edit and submit two flash stories I had written earlier this year and editing and submitting I did. Besides, a couple of cool things happened last month. First, I won Zero Flash’s December writing competition and was asked to be a guest judge at January’s competition and thinking it would be fun I said yes (I’m a total newbie at this but very, very excited!). And second, I had a new story published at The Astounding Outpost, which you can read here. Saving the Shamrock is very different from everything I have written until now but I really enjoyed working on it and I’m hoping you’ll enjoy reading it just as much.

So yeah, January was definitely a good month. I have already patted myself on the back and I am very looking forward to a busy and fruitful February. Let’s do this.

  • Even if I haven’t written as much as I would have like in January (time is always short around here these days), I finished another flash story which I would like to edit and submit, ideally during the first half of the month.
  • I am also working on the second draft of a short story I wrote last year. This is proving trickier than I thought to rewrite but I think I have spotted the problem. The thing is, it is a fantasy story set in a secondary world (kind of) and I think that this world needs to be developed more in order to better understand my character’s journey. So that’s what I’m planning to do in February as well.
  • And finally, I am hoping I’ll have enough time to complete the first draft of a short story I began writing in January. I only have a few disconnect ideas which, I hope, will converge into something worth publishing.

And that’s all, after all, February only has 28 days.

What about you? Have you set yourselves any goals for this month? Anything you would like to accomplish?

Have a productive February!


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It’s all about trial and error

You might have noticed that I this blog has been coming and going lately. Or maybe you haven’t, which I’m not sure whether it’s a good or a bad thing. Good because that means no one’s really noticing that I am kind of toying around with my internet presence in a rather childish way. Bad because it might mean that no one’s actually noticing that I am around here. So good and bad, I still have to make up my mind about which one I’d prefer.

Anyway, it seems like I’m back around here and there’s a good reason for that. Or maybe there isn’t but then again, what would be the point of writing this post. I used to think that it looked more professional to have a blog/personal website with my name on it and my very own domain. I still do, I guess, but I have realised that blog and site needn’t be the same thing. In fact, I think it can be a good thing that they are separate, for they do not serve the same purpose.

I still have my website, which you can visit. Please do, you will find me at Irene Montaner. After trying to get things going there several times, I decided it was best to keep things simple and neat, so I chose a simple template (in fact the theme is called so simple) and laid out a rather slick site, if that makes any sense at all. You will find a small bio and my bibliography there, and maybe some news about my writing career.

There are also times when I’d like to ramble about anything and nothing and that’s when a blog comes very handy. However, I have chosen not to blog on that website. Partly for simplicity’s sake, and partly to preserve my creative spark. What?!, I hear can you saying, what the heck do you mean? Well, I don’t even know it myself. But what I have learnt from my experience in these two years that I have been treating my writing hobby more seriously is that I don’t want to give up on blogging. Also, that blogging is a great way for upcoming authors to promote themselves. However, I sometimes feel constrained when I think of blogging solely as a means to publicise myself. I feel that I should only write about certain topics, that I should have a certain consistency and that I should have a certain voice. And that’s when the blogging spark dies out.

So, after trying out as many possibilities as I could, I think I have figured out what I want to do with this blog and how I want to start my author platform (I still need to learn so much about this elusive and ever-changing concept). And what I’m doing is keeping a professional-ish website and a personal blog, where I’ll chronicle my writing journey, pretty much as I have been doing lately, but also, where I’ll babble about whatever I feel like, whenever I feel like. After all, writing and blogging, much like everything else in life,  are all about trial and error.

I hope you enjoy it! And if you happen to be a writer, whether an aspiring author or not, I’d love to know how you are handling your online presence. What do you do? How long did it take you to figure it out? Is it working for you? 


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