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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My goals for 2018

Two weeks into 2018, it may seem a little too late to come up with some resolutions for the new year. But better late than ever, or so they say.

Now that this year has been tried and tested I know where I stand. Or I should better say that I know that I don’t know where I stand. Here’s the thing, life is unpredictable and this is particularly true when there are children at home. And with a baby and toddler, no two days are alike. Some days I have plenty of time for writing, reading or whatever it is that I have to do, some days I managed to squeeze some fifteen minutes of editing in between the most hectic hours, and some days I simply don’t have the time or energy to do anything at all. Besides cooking, washing dishes, cleaning the house, playing outside and playing inside, that’s it. With all that in mind, I am keeping things simply this year. And simple might be the key for me.

Last year was already a busy year and I kept my expectations very low. I didn’t have much hope that anything would happen in my writing career and yet quite a few interesting things happened, including having a handful of flash stories published at a couple of magazines and winning a writing competition. So yay, let’s keep things simple and take this writing thing (and life) one day at a time.

Here’s a list of the things I would like to accomplish this year. And a very humble list it is.

  1. Read at least 24 books.
  2. Publish at least 5 more short stories.
  3. Get at least one publication in a pro-paying market.
  4. Write at least a short story per month.
  5. Blog regularly and begin building an author platform.

You might have noticed that I don’t really have that many writing-related goals but this is not because I am forgetting that my number one priority as an author should be writing. Nope. The reason why I am not listing many writing related goals is because I have decided to take things slowly and review my writing goals monthly. First, because that’s the easiest way for me to assess how much time I have and can dedicate to a certain project. And second, to keep myself accountable. I think that writing down my goals every month will help me not to lose sight of what I want to achieve and stay on track. Plus, if you know about it, I’ll have to stick to it, don’t I?

So, January it is and even though I don’t have that much time this month, I have a few things on my to do list. I have three stories waiting to be edited and rewritten, when necessary. Two of them are flash – and written this year already – and I’d like to edit those and submit them. The other story is a bit longer, clocking at 2000 words (not that much, actually) and I’m not sure whether I’ll be able to tackle that one or not, so that might have to wait till February.

Phew, that was all for January. And pretty much the rest of the year.

If you’re still looking for inspiration you should definitely check this post on the resolutions that every writer should be making year after year. It was written by Frances M. Thompson, a self-published writer, blogger, traveller and mam, not necessarily in that order. I have been a fan of her and her writing for quite some time now and I can only recommend anything she writes or blogs.

And up to you now, what are your writing goals for this year? Anything you’d like to achieve in 2018?

All the best for this no-longer-new year!

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Short stories I read and loved in 2017

Well, well. I finally got to write this very short post with my favourite short stories from 2017. Many of them are flash and you can read most of them on the internet for free, so enjoy!

Paradise Regained, by Edward M. Lerner (Analog January/February 2017). Decisions, decisions – a lonesome human in an agonising planet has to decide whether to trust a machine and complete a certain procedure or not. To be honest, I don’t remember many details of the plot but I know I liked it.

A Singular Event in the Fourth Dimension, by Andrea M. Pawley (Asimov’s, March/April 2017). A poignant tale about a child robot who has to find its place in her expanding family.

Seven Permutations of My Daughter, by Lina Rather (Lightspeed Magazine, April 2017). The old conundrum of whether time travel can help us to change the past, only that this time the protagonist is jumping around different universes.

Carnival 9, by Caroline M. Yoachim (Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Issue #225, May 11 2017). Caroline M. Yoachim is one of my favourite contemporary writers. I really enjoy everything she writes and this was definitely my favourite short story of 2017. An teeny tiny doll with too much life in her faces the hardships of life. There’s loss and love, sadness and contentment, much like in real life.

Artist of Love, by JT Gill (Every Day Fiction, June 1 2017). A beautiful story about a father and the love for his son. Or daughter. I no longer remember the details.

The Seven Deadly Genes, by Candice Lim (Daily Science Fiction, October 2017). Again, another story about a mother and the love for her baby.

What I Told My Little Girl About The Aliens Preparing To Grind Us Into Hamburgers, by Adam Troy-Castro (Lightspeed Magazine, October 2017). And yet another story about fatherly love. I’m already spotting a theme in here.

I won at NaSuHeMo!, by Marissa Lingen (Daily Science Fiction, November 2017). Now, onto something totally different. This was a most absurd story, much like everything at DSF lately, but I had a good laugh while reading this one. And I haven’t even done a NaNoWriMo in my life.

And that’s all, folks. I told you that I hadn’t read too many short stories last year. My days were way too busy with a baby and toddler and I don’t think things will be much different this year. I will try, however, to read more short fiction. After all, that’s a great way to learn more about the writing craft.

What about you? Do you enjoy short fiction? Which were your favourite stories last year?

Have a lovely weekend!

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Some happy news

We just returned yesterday night from a three-weeks holidays in Tenerife. Besides being exhausted, I am extremely busy unpacking, tidying things up and cleaning the house. So not much time for writing and everything else right now. It is definitely going to be a slow start this year. Although I have already scribbled a flash story and I have another short story waiting to be edited, I don’t think I will get much done until February rolls in. Or at least, I am not putting any pressure on myself until then. But who knows. One thing I learnt last year is that the busier I am, the more productive I am.

Some exciting things have already happened this year – and it’s only been ten days! First things first, I have won Zer0flash’s monthly competition. Yep, I’m December’s winner. The theme for last month’s competition was obviously Christmas and I went and wrote my goofiest story to date. You can read Santa Hits on Grandma here. Thank you, guys, for this first place. It might be a teeny tiny thing, but it feels like a huge achievement.

And now, onto more mundane things, you can find me on Instagram. I already had a personal account, which I hardly ever used, and now I also have a profile for my writing shenanigans. Photography has been a hobby of mine for quite some time, though I don’t take as many photos as I used to these days – ah, the sacrifices of motherhood. Nevertheless, I want to try and keep a consistent record of my writing journey. And also establish my online presence as an author, or whichever way people call those complex marketing strategies nowadays. Anyhow, let’s be friends! Do come over and say hi. Or simply drop by at @irenemontanerwriter.

That’s all for the time being. I will be back soon with my favourite short stories of 2017 (I still own you that) and my writing goals for 2018. And in the meantime, happy writing!

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Books I read in 2017

Last year was much like a rollercoaster. I already knew beforehand that things would be messy throughout the year, so I was rather cautious when setting goals for myself. That was especially true regarding reading: I only set to read twelve books last year. That’s the way I am, I like to keep my expectations low. And somehow things worked out pretty good for me last year. Maybe because I wasn’t feeling much pressure or maybe because I was feeling extremely motivated with a second baby at home. Whatever the reason, truth is that I outdid my expectations and I read twenty-two books in 2017. It could be much better, I know, especially considering that I took a long summer holiday and didn’t read much during the hottest months of the year. But I’m okay with it.

As usual, I read quite an eclectic mix of books. Some good and some nay; many long books and a few shorter ones; and mostly fiction. One of the highlights of my reading year was to finish the Harry Potter series and what an end it was. I am sad it took me so long to finally read them, but at the same time, I’m happy I did it now, when I can fully appreciate them. There have been a couple of disappointments as well. One of them would be Three Sisters, Three Queens by Philippa Gregory, which had been on my TBR list for a while – it wasn’t that bad but the blurb was rather misleading and I didn’t enjoy it as much as I would have, had I known that it was solely a somewhat fictional biography of Margaret Tudor, queen of the Scots. Another disappointment was A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab, but I was prepared for that one. The second installment of that series was so terrible that anything would be good in comparison and keeping that in mind, A Conjuring of Light wasn’t that bad.

Anyway, enough about bad books. Let’s focus on the good, better and best. Here’s my top five of 2017.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.

The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert.

The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowling.

1984 by George Orwell.

I am aiming higher this year and I want to read at least twenty-four books in 2018. I have already started with Black Ships Before Troy by Rosemary Sutcliff, a retelling of Homer’s Illiad. And next on my list are Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie, White Fang by Jack London and Death’s End by Cixin Liu.

I also want to read more short stories and novelettes but being realistic, time is already scarce for so much reading and writing, so let’s see where this year takes me.

I still have to do a round-up post with my favorite flash and short stories of 2017. But in the meantime, happy reading!

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A year in review

Today is the last day of the year and I can’t think of a better moment to look back and reflect on everything that has happened this year. 2017 has been a good year. I could have been better. But it could always be better, so I’m not going to complain. Not at all.

I haven’t had much time to write or read – at least not as much as I would have liked – and yet I feel rather accomplished. I think I have the right to feel so. I ought to feel so. After all, 2017 has been my rookie year as a writer. 2017 has been the year when I first got published; it’s been the year when first believed that I could really be an author. I mean, I was already a writer, I’ve probably been a writer most of my life. But now I know that I can take my passion further, that I might have what it takes. Or at least some percentage of it.

I had set myself some goals at the beginning of the year and while I haven’t met all of them, I am more than happy with the outcome. I knew that this year would be a busy one, so I didn’t have too many expectations and perhaps not being too ambitious has paid off. I wanted to read twelve books this year – that’s a meagre one per month – and I didn’t do bad at all with twenty-two books. I will tell you more about my favorite books of the year in another post, though. I had also made some writing resolutions, which you can read here. I only fulfilled half of them but as I already said, I feel very, very accomplished. Anyhow, let’s see what’s happened this year.

I didn’t finish the first draft of the novel I had in mind. In fact, I didn’t even try. I was way too busy to focus on something so big and I really don’t think I will be able to do this any time soon. I just don’t feel ready yet. And funny thing, the more I learn about the craft of writing, the less ready I feel. Maybe there will be a point along the learning curve where these negative feelings will melt away and I will be ready to write a masterpiece. Hopefully.

I did write twelve short stories, though not one every month. But it’s the total number what counts, isn’t it? I rewrote and edited some of those stories and I sent a few out there, into the big unknown. And some of them got published! I couldn’t even believe my eyes when I first got a mail saying that one of my stories had been accepted for publication. All in all, I had two stories published at 365 tomorrows (plus one forthcoming any day soon), two other stories published at Everyday Fiction, and two other stories out there at Zer0flash and one of them got a honorable mention at their monthly flash fiction contest.

I haven’t blogged as regularly as I would have liked to but with one post a month, I consider that I didn’t do too bad. I’m hoping to get better at it this year. Especially now that I have moved sites and I am the proud owner of my own domain.

And finally, I think I have gotten better at writing. I am polishing my writing skills one story at a time. Sentence by sentence and word by word. And I want to keep on getting better because the more I know, the more I realize how little I know.

And that was 2017 in a nutshell. I still have to think of my goals for the year about to begin. I think I will do it tomorrow while I lay on the beach. Until then, have a good evening, my friends. And all the best for 2018.

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What I read {December 2017}

Very quick post, as I am busy enjoying a much needed family holiday in sunny Tenerife. Yep, we are this lucky! Not only are we spending Christmas on a subtropical island, but the weather is being incredibly good and we’re planning on starting 2018 at the beach … but first let’s get done with 2017.

December has been a rather good month regarding reading. And a beautiful one. My picks for this month were a mix of classics and christmassy reads and I have enjoyed all of them. All three books are potential rereads in the future, so I’m not going into much detail today.

BOOKS

A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens

5326

Letters to Father Christmas, by J. R. R. Tolkien

16153575

The Hobbit, by J. R. R. Tolkien

289870

 

I haven’t read that many short stories lately. That should definitely change in the near future, though to be honest, I am already spotting a pattern in here. I start the year dutifully, reading A LOT but as the months go by my reading dwindles, especially once I reach the number of books I set to read at the beginning of the year. And it happened more or less the same with short and flash stories. Maybe I should aim for consistency and not only quality. Anyway, here’s a story I particularly enjoyed this month.

The Weatherman, by Saniya Heeba (Daily Science Fiction)

 

And that’s all for the time being. See you in 2018. Have a blast tonight!

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