Category Archives: goals

Ukrainian Golden Tree!

Hey everyone, just a quick update for today: last week, I finished my Golden Tree!!!!  I made a quick video to celebrate:

And yes, it was a crazy coincidence, but I finished the Tree on Ukrainian Christmas. 🙂

Last week was also my first French Zoom meeting of 2021.  Having been away from speaking in French for a few weeks, I had a super hard time finding the words.  So I also made a French video talking about it (it was more for the practice in speaking).  Check that one out here:

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Hello 2021!

Hi everyone! How were your holidays?  Mine were quieter than normal, but still good.  I’ve always loved the holiday season because it’s a time when I reconnect with family and friends.  Since it wasn’t really possible to do so this year in person, I decided to send out Christmas cards instead.  I even got a few back in reply by the end of that week! (I couldn’t believe how quickly they travelled!)

But now it’s a new year, which means time to reflect on the goals I set last year (and set some new ones!) Last year I basically set the same smaller goals for myself as in 2019: I wanted to read 25 novel-length books, finish one of the RPG’s that I’ve started (although I specifically picked Memories for 2020), and work on two short stories (although I decided I was going to edit a few I’ve already written, rather than write new ones).  While I was successful with the first two goals, the short story editing unfortunately didn’t happen: I put it off, and then, when I was going to make a push to work on at least one during December, the book editing project I’m working on derailed that plan completely (which is okay – it was good to get some work on that done instead).  And ever since I started learning both Ukrainian and French when I was off work due to the Covid-19 pandemic, a lot of my time has gone towards language learning as well.

I wasn’t really sure what sorts of goals I should set this year because I honestly have no idea what 2021 will bring in terms of the pandemic (I am hopeful we’ll get through it this year, but who knows if a third or fourth wave might shut everything down again?)  I don’t want to overwhelm myself with ambitious projects (especially during this pandemic; some days I don’t want to do anything and that’s okay).  Plus, if I’ve learned anything during the last several years of setting goals, it’s that a few smaller goals are better for me (also, I still seem to get derailed over the course of the year even with those smaller goals!)

But I did know that accomplishing some milestones in both French and Ukrainian would be important.  Unfortunately it’s hard to quantify things like “be able to have a basic conversation” or “be able to have a deeper conversation.”  So I looked through the goals I set for myself during my random October planning session, and chose some concrete things to accomplish from that list.

So with all of that lead-up, here are my goals for the year:

  1. Read 25 of the novel-length books I own.  I know I can read 25 books in a year (I read 43 books this year).  But I keep getting distracted by shiny new books at the library, completely ignoring all the books I have here.  So I’m going to challenge myself to get through more of my books (of course, that will have to wait until I deal with the library books I’ve already got out…).  Whether they’re physical or on my Kindle, I want to get through 25 of them before the end of the year!
  2. Write a new story.  I feel like it’s been forever since I have, and I’d like to change that.  I don’t care what kind of story it is: a short story, a novel, an RPG, a podcast, a screen play, whatever.  I just want to work on something new!
  3. Language Learning goals:
    1. Ukrainian Duolingo tree to Gold (I’ve only got four more lesson bubbles to go!)
    2. Finish reading Short Stories in French for Beginners
    3. Finish reading 100 Easy Ukrainian Texts
    4. Read French Short Stories for Beginners
    5. Read French: Short Stories for Beginners and Intermediate Learners
    6. Read Ukrainian Language: Texts in Ukrainian
    7. Finish Ukrainian Lessons Podcast seasons 2-4
    8. Finish the Duolingo French tree (just getting to the end, not turning it to gold)

While it didn’t make the list, I’d also love to finish with the book editing project I’ve been working on since 2019.  Unfortunately that’s out of my hands (the original end date for that should have been last winter, but it was taking longer than planned even before covid hit).  So fingers crossed that it will finish this year, too!

So what about you?  Have you set any goals for yourself this year? 🙂

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Tuesday Update: Language Progress, Short Story Setback + Guest Hosting!

Hey everyone, how’s it going?  This week I made some great progress on my goals for the month! My Duolingo Ukrainian tree is now to red + (so I’ve got through all the lessons at least three times each; the ultimate goal is to get through all the bubbles 5 times, turning tge tree to gold).  I finished the second section of stories in 100 Easy Ukrainian Texts (these all involved “things” like pens and keys and stuff).  I started another story in Short Stories in French. And I passed the 6th Duolingo checkpoint in French!

I did experience a slight setback though where it comes to editing my short story for the month.  I’ve talked before about choosing the stories I wanted to work on for the remainder of the year.  Unfortunately, I came to the realization that one of the stories isn’t really a short; there’s so much more going on in it, that I think it needs to be a longer work of some sort (perhaps a novella or even a novel?)  A lot more work will need to be done on it than I initially expected because there’s so much more going on. So I made the decision to put it aside for now. 😦

So instead I’m going to see if I can whip the other story I choose into shape. I’ll also have to choose a second story for editing in the hope that I can still make that goal!  I don’t know if I’ll have time to edit two stories now, but I’m still going to try! Wish me luck. 🙂

Oh, and on Friday, I was once again a guest host on Thunder Bay Public Library’s weekly show Read This Next.  Nicole and I talked about the Massey Lectures (which I had been reading when we filmed).  We thought this was really topical as the 2020 Massey Lectures aired this month!  If you’re interested, check it out! 🙂

For this week, other than looking over that other short story, my main plan is to fit in more reading in Ukrainian, French, and English. What about you?  How’s November going? 🙂

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Remembrance Day Reading Accomplished + Language Learning Goals!

Last week, the only goal I set for myself was to read D-Day Girls: The Spies who Armed the Resistance, Sabotaged the Nazis, and Helped Win World War II by Sarah Rose (which I finished on Friday night!)   I was glad that I didn’t set other goals for myself because D-Day Girls was a bit of a tough read (particularly in terms of subject matter – there were a few points where I had to stop reading for a bit because of what happened to the people).

But even though that was the only goal I set for the week, I still managed to finish off a few of my November goals!  First I passed Checkpoint 6 in French on Duolingo!  That was super exciting – there are only two checkpoints left within the course!  Then I listened to the final episode of the first season of Ukrainian Lessons Podcast!  I’m excited to start Season 2 – I’m hoping it will help me improve my listening comprehension (I’m finding with Ukrainian right now that I have a super hard time understanding words that I’m hearing; if they’re written out for me, I often find that I did know more of the words that were spoken that I thought).

I also accomplished most of the goals I set for myself two weeks ago, with the exception of some work I wanted to do editing one of my short stories (I keep ignoring it in favour of my language learning).  As we’re now over half way through November, I’ll have to make a point of working on that if I still intend to work on a second story next month!

So how’s everything going for you?  Are you making progress on any goals you’ve set for the month?  Let me know in the comments! 🙂

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October Goal Review

I didn’t set myself any major goals last week; I was on vacation from work, and just wanted to relax (and work a bit more on learning my languages!) Although I did manage to fit in some fun reading too (I finished The Gown by Jennifer Robson yesterday!) I was also excited to attend a virtual hour-long French discussion that is put on by a local organization.  At times I had a hard time following the discussion, but at other times I felt like I understood a fair bit.  This meeting is held weekly, so I am hopeful that my brain will be able to follow along with the discussion a bit better after attending a few. 🙂

But now that it’s November, I wanted to look back at the goals I set for October (or at least the second half of October – I set them on the 12th).  I set four goals for myself, and managed to completely accomplish three of them!  The only one I failed to accomplish was getting six Ukrainian Duolingo lesson bubbles to gold – I only finished five of them.  The sixth one I kind of lost interest in at the time, and started working on some of the other bubbles instead. All in all, I am very happy with what I managed to accomplish over these last few weeks!

I sat down last night to set goals for November, all of which support the 3 and 6 month goals I set last month, too.  These include editing one story I’ve already written, reading more short stories in French and Ukrainian, making more progress on the two language trees on Duolingo, and finishing listening to the first season of the Ukrainian Lessons Podcast.  I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to complete all of these goals; the one I imagine will be hardest to meet is editing the story because that goal doesn’t have easy to follow steps like the other ones do (ie read one chapter of a story, or complete x lesson bubbles per week).

So how was your week? Have you set any goals for yourself this month? Have you made any progress on goals you’ve previously set?  Let me know in the comments! 🙂

PS Good luck to everyone who is participating in NaNoWriMo this month! 🙂

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Tuesday Update: Revisiting Goals

Hey everyone, Happy Thanksgiving!  I hope you had a good weekend *and a good Thanksgiving if you’re in Canada too). 🙂

This weekend, I sat down and revisited my goals.  I realized that I haven’t really been thinking about that sort of thing in months.  But I’m doing well with the goals I set here on the blog: I finished Memories and have already read over 25 books this year!  That just leaves editing a few short stories that I’ve previously written.  So I need to get on that over the next few months!

I also noticed that in my notebook with the weekly goals I try setting for myself, back in 2019 I set more long term goals.  So I took some time to set some goals for myself over the next year and beyond.  At this point, I’m mostly focused on my language learning as I’ve already put in so much time learning both Ukrainian (over four months) and French (about 3.5 months); I don’t want to stop working on either of them right now because I’m afraid I’d lose the progress I’ve made.  So ideally I’d like to get one of them to a point of conversational fluency sooner rather than later to get it off my plate, so to speak (I’m hoping/thinking that it’ll take less time  per week to maintain a language once you’ve learned it well enough to have in-depth conversations in it).  Realistically, this is going to be French, thanks to both its similarity (particularly in terms of vocabulary) to English and the fact that I took French classes in elementary school many years ago.  I’ve found that French vocabulary is currently a lot easier for me to learn and retain, and for that reason alone I’m pretty sure I’m going to be able to have conversations in French far sooner than in Ukrainian.

So with that in mind, I set the goal of conversational fluency in French for one year from now.  I made some goals to build towards that through the year, including making it through some books, finishing the Duolingo French tree, and understanding French media without subtitles.  For Ukrainian, I’ve set similar goals, but with a longer timeframe; my current hope is to be conversationally fluent in Ukrainian two years from now.  But it’s okay if I don’t meet the goals I set in the exact timeframe I’m hoping for; I’m going to treat these goals as a sort of road map to help me get to that point (not as a set in stone deadline for being able to have deep conversations with people).

In terms of writing goals, at this point I haven’t set any new ones for now (although as a super long-term goal, I’d love to create French and Ukrainian versions of Memories….)  Hopefully I’ll be able to meet the last goal I set for 2020 here on this blog (editing two stories), and then I can plan for some new writing projects for 2021!

Oh, I am still planning on brainstorming a new story idea I had as well, but I didn’t want to put any pressure on myself by making that into a set goal for the remainder of the year.  We’ll see how it goes. 🙂

So what about your goals for 2020?  How have they been going?  🙂

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Hello 2020!

Oh my gosh, it’s a new year already! I can’t believe how fast 2019 has gone!

Last year I did things a bit differently.  My plan was to set smaller goals every month to give me the flexibility to accomplish more through the year (especially as plans inevitably change).  But then that didn’t really work; the goal I set for January (finish the Make Your Way story I started writing) – took until May to finish the first draft, September to finish edits, and I finally submitted it in November.  And by the time fall rolled around, a few other commitments popped up (ThunderCon and the book editing I’m still working on), which pretty much brought me to the end of the year.

In the beginning of 2019 I was also trying to balance working on Sustainably North with other writing goals.  I even dedicated the entire month of March to working on the blog.  But over the spring, I started to feel like I was spending far too much time on the blog to the detriment of everything else; by the end of July, I decided to stop working on Sustainably North.  As much as I was sad to do this (and still am – I feel like Sustainably North was a good thing to be working on), stopping the blog freed me to work on other things; I’m pretty sure if I didn’t stop working on it, I’d still be trying to fit in finishing the Make Your Way story!

One thing that I did in 2019 that I was very proud of was I started setting weekly goals for myself.  In a notebook I’d write down the things I wanted to accomplish in a week, then break them down into really small-pieces and check them off as I accomplished them, like so:

weekly goals example

Here’s an example page from September 2019, where I broke down editing sections of the Make Your Way story.

This worked surprisingly well for me, keeping me on track and motivated, while allowing me to chip away at things and a very sustainable pace.  Unfortunately I haven’t been able to use this method with the book editing project because I have no control on what I’m working on when.  But as soon as that is finished, I’ll definitely be going back to this!

I also did accomplish the year-long reading goal I set in 2019.  I actually blew past my goal of 25 books in June, finishing with 40 (well, Goodreads says 40, but it was a bit less because I added a few short stories on at the end – my goal for the year was 25 novel-length books, which doesn’t count those or graphic novels like Die, which I added because I loved it so much).

Based off of what happened in 2019, for this year I’m going to go back to having only one or two major goals I’d like to accomplish for the year, rather than trying to break things down by month.  I’m also going to just list personal projects and goals, rather than the book editing project which I have been contracted for (even though that is a big project I will be working on, at least for the next few months!)  So with that in mind, here’s what I’m hoping to accomplish in 2020:

  1. Read 25 novel-length books. 25 books continues to work really well for me so I’m going to keep the same goal.  This number takes the pressure off of me and makes reading more fun.
  2. Finish Memories.  The RPG I’ve been calling Memories is close to being done. The game is pretty much built, but I need to fix up a few points and figure out how to end it.  I really want to finish it this year!
  3. Edit two of the short stories I’ve already written so they’re ready for submissions. I’ve got several stories on my computer right now (including “A Friend from the Deep”) which definitely need to be edited.  I may not have places to submit them to, but having some of them ready to submit would be fantastic!

So what about you?  How was your 2019?  Do you have any goals for the new year? 🙂

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Hello 2019!

Happy New Year’s!  It’s that time of year again – time to look at the goals I set for myself last year and set new goals for this year.  Last year, my goals were:

  1. Read 25 novels.  Success! I read over 50 novel-length books this year!  I didn’t read many long ones, but that’s okay. Having no pressure to read made it much more enjoyable over 2018.
  2. Write two polished short stories.  Failure.  I wrote one, but didn’t finish the second one. 😦
  3. Finish a bloody RPG! Failure. I didn’t really work on anything at all. 😦

For 2018 I was hoping to work towards freelancing more.  Even though I wasn’t really successful with my goals, I think I was somewhat successful thanks to starting my other blog, Sustainably North. Thanks to Sustainably North, I was asked by bUneke Magazine to write a monthly column, which has been a lot of fun and tremendous experience.  For my day job I also wrote 9 articles, 7 book reviews, and interviewed 12 authors for TBPL Off the Shelf, so that’s pretty good, too.  Oh and I almost forgot that 2018 saw my first published short story, “A Harmony of Soil and Sand,” which was published in Menagerie de Mythique Anthology back in May.  So while I didn’t exactly meet all of my goals, I still think 2018 was a pretty good year of writing for me! 🙂

Oh yeah, and I participated in my very first game jam back in January!  That was fun, too! 🙂

For 2019 I’d like to do things a little differently, particularly in regards to my writing goals.  This year I’d like to set smaller goals every month rather than big overarching goals.  My thought is that way I can use the end of the month as a deadline, plus I’ll have more flexibility in case other unexpected projects come my way (like when that big freelance project came my way back in 2017).  Plus if something takes longer than planned (like how the story I’m working on for the Make Your Way anthology got bogged down in worldbuilding), I can adjust my scheduled goals accordingly.  So here are my goals for 2019 so far:

  1. Read 25 novel-length books. 25 books worked really well for me last year and I’d like to keep the same goal.  Like I said, this took the pressure off of me and made reading more fun.  This goal is the only one I’m naming that’s for the whole year.
  2. Finish the story for the Make Your Way anthology by January 31st. I think that’s a reasonable amount of time to get this story written (and hopefully submitted!)

I’m not going to talk about Sustainably North goals on here right now.  At this point I’m kind of just carrying on, trying to get a weekly blog post written plus an article for bUneke Magazine.  If that changes, I’ll let you know. 😉

This will be an interesting year – I really hope that setting smaller monthly goals (with deadlines) will work better for me!

So what about you? Have you set any goals for the upcoming year? 🙂

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#WriteMonday – Happy Labour Day!

It’s #WriteMonday, it’s the end of the summer, and I thought that now would be a good time to reflect on those goals I set for 2018.  To date, the only goal I accomplished from my short list was to read 25 novel-length books. That leaves me with four months left and two goals to go.  I think what I’m going to have to do is set a goal for each month (which will also leave me with an extra month either for a goal that needs a bit more time, or to work on something else).  For September, I think I’m going to finish the short story I was working on in June.  I’d like to get that story out of the way since all it needs now is some edits.  Depending on how long that takes, I may also do a bit of work on Memories (which I think is going to be the RPG Maker game I try to finish this year).

So with that in mind, I spend a couple of hours yesterday writing down everything I could think of about an idea I’ve had for a few weeks now.  I love this idea and would really like to work on it.  But first I need to finish some of my other projects that are on the go before I plot it out (and learn how to write for a whole new medium, which this project will require).

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Read 25 Books + Editing Pass Complete!

So earlier in the week, I got sick.  It sucked, because while I was feeling completely like crap, I didn’t feel like working on that short story I’ve got on the go (even though I had just a few paragraphs left to go on that editing pass!)

But what I did end up doing was reading.  Quite a bit, actually.  As of today, I finished one book and read two more, including Steve Brusatte’s The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs, which I read in about 24 hours (thanks in large part to starting it while waiting to see a doctor yesterday).  The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs actually ended up being book 25 in my reading challenge!  So yes, as of earlier today, I accomplished one of my goals for the year – I read 25 books!  At least some good came of being sick. 🙂

In all seriousness though, I am feeling a bit better today.  I’m now on antibiotics, which I think is the main reason for that.  I’ve eaten a bit more today without feeling super nauseous (thanks to being nauseous, I barely ate anything over the last two days).  I’ve spent the evening making soup (it seriously has ended up an entire evening affair – I started at about 6pm, and it finally finished at almost midnight! Oh well, at least I now have soup). And over the last few hours of soup making, I sat down to finish this editing pass on my short story. 🙂

So with my story shaping up, I went to go and check the Duotrope listing I’m planning on submitting it to.  The listing closes in about a week and a half, so I’ve still got plenty of time to work on it.  Unfortunately, I just realized the listing wants short stories of 3500- 5000 words in length.  And their website says they are looking for horror (the Duotrope listing says horror, sci fi, and fantasy).  This story is currently quite a bit shorter than 3500 words (it’s now 2440, which is over 1000 words longer than the first draft, so it’s moving in the right direction), and is not at all a horror.  I just sent them a message over Facebook asking about the genre and whether they are open to accepting shorter submissions (someone else asked about the shorter submissions on their website, but they didn’t answer).  And of course after I asked my questions I found that they say they are open to all forms of speculative fiction.  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

I’m not sure if I’ll be able to get this story to 3500 words or not.  But that’s a problem for another day.  For tonight I’m just happy to be done this editing pass! And whether it gets submitted anywhere or not, at the very least it will hopefully be one of the two polished short stories I wanted to write this year. 🙂

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