Janet Harriett is often an editor, sometimes a writer, and always a lover of all things penguin. She is the senior editor at Apex Publications and editor-for-hire specializing in science fiction, fantasy and horror.

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Plans of Mice and Writers

I don't put too much stock in New Year's Resolutions, because they're too easy to break and don't really resolve any issues. On the other hand, I like goals, and the new year is as good a time as any to assess one's goals, the progress toward them and whether new or refined goals may be in order. The orbital period of the Earth isn't relevant, but one must choose one arbitrary date or another.

After spending two years throwing everything at the full-time freelancing wall, I've started to get a sense of where my own strengths are, and what I enjoy doing professionally. Lucky for me, those two categories have a lot of overlap. That makes the overall goal a no-brainer: do more of that more efficiently. Since a goal without a plan is an aspiration, here's my plan:

  • Have a novel manuscript ready to have queries sent out on it by the end of the year
  • Increase my short story inventory by one story per month, and have those short stories continually out with editors
  • Take on more project-based copy editing
  • Balance a diversified writing business and prospecting for that diversification
  • Read more genre and non-genre books
  • Learn more about the business of publishing
  • Assess my activities to ensure that they all are helping me make progress toward my overall goals, and weed out those activities that aren't. In short, stop wasting time.


Some of those plans obviously have sub-plans. If I've learned anything from James Bond movies, other than that parents who name their daughters with double entendres pretty much guarantee themselves a lack of grandchildren, it's that no good comes from the evil genius spilling all of the details of the plot to take over.

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