Out with the old goals, in with the new.

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December is the time to set writing goals for the new year, but I thought it would be fun to see if I achieved my goals from last year, because I always forget them by the end of January.

My initial goal for 2021 was to finish a short story I was working on for Metaphorosis Magazine. I submitted this story the previous October and was offered a rewrite. I didn’t realize how much work that would require, so I dropped the novel I was also working on, and persisted with the short story.

The result was The Secret Keeper, a fantasy story about 16-year-old, Rose, a demi-god charged with keeping hope in the world. A fantasy, it dives into the world of Hades and Harpocrates and explores the ramification of keeping a secret.

The Secret Keeper was published in June and you can read or listen to the podcast by CLICKING HERE.

Throughout the year there are a number of writing contests I consider. I like testing my skills against a time limit, or with prompts. One contest I particularly enjoyed was a 30-word story contest run by Writing Victoria during April. This would be easy, I thought. Wrong. The amount of brain effort required to come up with a different story every day for a month was incredible. I won’t spoil it by revealing more, but you can read how I fared, and my 30 stories by CLICKING HERE.

You’d think I’d be done with contests by then, but no. My other favourite contest is the NYCMidnight writing challenges that run regularly throughout the year. I participated in the flash fiction, 250-word, and 100-word challenges, with varying results.

In the flash fiction, Spies Like Me, a comedy/spy story placed 5th in my group, taking me through to the next round. My next round story, Security Upgrade, a horror, placed 11th in my group. My combined points were two points short of moving through to round 3, but I’m happy with my effort.

To read Spies Like Me CLICK HERE.

Security Upgrade has since been sold and it will be published next year.

In the 100-word microfiction challenge, my story Accural, a drama including hiding money, placed 7th in my group, but that’s as far as I progressed in this event. My 250-word effort didn’t place high enough to progress either, but the feedback I received from the judges was positive.

To read Accural CLICK HERE.

Did I mention I was writing a novel?

It’s a YA Scifi and I’ve slaved over it for years. Every time I thought it was right, I discovered something that was wrong. Mid-year, I returned to it, determined to finish. So for the next few months, that’s all I did.

Not exactly. Writing a novel is hard, and I love writing short stories. While I was untangling scenes, I jumped out every now and then to work on a new addiction. Drabbles.

I discovered a new publisher, Black Hare Press. They run a monthly drabble contest comprising dark themes. Perfect for me. I love writing dark. First I had to break down their door because they only allowed writers who’d published with them previously to enter. Every so often though, they have an open call, so I jumped at the chance. My first acceptance, a drabble titled Well Done, was included in their anthology, 666 Dark Drabbles. It can be purchased by CLICKING HERE.

Accepted into this group, wow, what fun I am having. The Black Hare Press community is fun and supportive and engaging. And I can enter the monthly drabble contest. Every month has a different theme, and the best twelve are chosen for on-line publication. These are my stories so far and you can read any of them by clicking on the title:

Clean Sheet – Purge

Pumpkin Head – Halloween

Dual – War

Stranger Danger – Underwater (Patreon)

Kuntilanak – Myths and Legends

Naughty and Nice – Christmas

Jump back to October and I had another short story published, a creepy horror story that found a home in The Lost Librarian’s Grave published by Redwood Press. I love this story. Written in 2nd person, it’s a short horror with an end you won’t expect. To purchase the anthology CLICK HERE.

My novel … not quite. Another contest I enjoy is the Australian Writers Centre Furious Fiction. Every month, they put out prompts and gave us 55 hours to craft a story. The number of writers who enter this is huge, like 1600 in one month. It must be a mammoth task selecting a winner, the shortlist and the longlist, and to get on any of those lists is an achievement.

I didn’t enter every month, for obvious reasons if you look back at everything else I was doing, but in September, my entry Before You Go was longlisted. And in November, my entry Flying Home for Christmas was third on the shortlist. To me, that’s as good as winning (just minus the paycheck). You can read Flying Home for Christmas by CLICKING HERE.

I saved the best for last.

Last year, my story The Best Medicine, won the AHWA Short Story contest. This was huge for me. I wrote this during a when time I suffered the worst writer doubt imaginable. I’m not ashamed to say that when I received the email, I cried. Fast forward twelve months, The Best Medicine is included in Midnight Echo #16 which is available to purchase HERE.

Even better, The Best Medicine was chosen for translated inclusion in The Bar Immediately After, Mondi Incanti series, produced by RiLL, Italy. To learn more about this anthology, CLICK HERE.

From writer doubt to translated, that’s pretty cool.

The Best Medicine, The Jump, and The Secret Keeper are all award-eligible stories, so if you’re looking for stories to recommend, I love if you’d consider these.

My novel. That’s where I am right now, applying another round of edits to tighten everything up and get my word count down. And as we’re at the end of this year, I’ll set my goal for next year:


That’s it. Anything else is a bonus.

But wait, there’s more:

I have other stories coming out next year, including some dark poetry that was accepted during the year. For a sneak peek, and to see stories from other years CLICK HERE.

If you made it this far, thanks for reading, and have a safe and joyous season.

Write on!

Pauline Yates

Published by PYates


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