Saturday, January 23, 2016

X-Files: The Original Series

I avoided watching The X-Files for decades. I have always been an open believer in UFOs, but I was also one to know the real from the hoax. Little green men? Hoax. That UFO in the poster Mulder had hanging on his wall for so long? Hoax. That's just a prop hanging by a string. The O'Hare UFO sighting? Real.

Something's out there, whether it be government tests or aliens.

Growing up, though, I had the impression that X-Files was about the fake stuff. I did not want the stigma of believing in that brand of UFOs. Also, I was afraid that the show would try to "prove" the existence of UFOs by showing one on screen and having a character say, "See? I told you so." This is pretty much what the recent disappointment, Proof, did on TNT on the subject of life after death. That circular reasoning trope never proves anything.

When I heard of the X-Files revival (which starts tomorrow), and when all my facebook friends talked about how awesome the original show was, and when I learned the whole series was on Netflix, I decided to give it a try. Plus, with the Vince Gilligan connection, it couldn't be that bad, right? (Warning -- spoilers follow for those who still haven't seen the original series.)

I was hooked in one episode. The X-Files didn't try to prove anything, but instead gave us interesting story lines, government conspiracies, a smoking man, and even a love story. It was almost like the writers saying, "Yeah, we know you don't really believe this--or maybe you do--but either way, sit back and enjoy the ride."

And it was great. At least for the first five seasons. We had a consistent storyline about aliens wanting to colonize our planet. There was this black oil virus, and clone people who oozed poisonous green blood who could be killed at the backs of their necks.

Then something happened at the end of Season 5. With the X Files destroyed and with Scully and Mulder reassigned, a cliffhanger was met with ... a in-between-seasons movie? It wasn't just an off-on-the-side story, but rather "required" watching. In fact, the previews of the Season 6 opener included scenes from the movie. I think that if I were a fan back then, I would have been angry having to fork over money to watch something that wasn't free. It was a decent movie, but it didn't feel like an X-Files episode. It didn't start off with the iconic theme. It had cool special effects, though, and a fun ending.

Season 6 was still pretty good. There's a resistance of blind aliens, the syndicate dies. (Did they really, really die?) We learn that aliens created life on our planet. Cool stuff.

Season 7 was also strong, ending with the (second?) death of the Smoking Man and the abduction of Mulder.

But then Seasons 8 and 9 went to plaid. It felt like Duchovny was done playing the role of Mulder, and the writers had to come up with something. The introduction of the Robert Patrick was interesting. The writers made it work, and it was fun to see him do several times his signature Terminator "I'm running after you" look. And what was he being chased by? They were other indestructible Terminators called super soldiers.

That plot line didn't work for me at all. Super soldiers were indestructible, incredibly strong, and they're everywhere. But yet they couldn't take over the world? And the only way to destroy them was to get them near magnetite (which they can't detect until it's too late)? Also, Mulder dying and coming back to life infected with a super-soldier virus that Scully was able to counteract without any alien technology help? And all this came at the expense of the earlier consistent plot. That is, we didn't see any more green-blooded clones, or the resistance, etc.

It felt like the show was losing direction.

Perhaps Carter felt the same. In Season 9, he took steps to end the show--major characters dying and all that. The season finale was decent. It made a really good attempt to tie up and/or explain all loose ends. Though, the super soldiers line is still weak. We got to see the Smoking Man die again (a third time?).

The show ends with Mulder revealing to Scully what he had learned. There's a date: December 22, 2012, when the aliens will enact their colonization. We're all doomed. It can't be stopped. Scully says, "Well, we still have hope," and the music plays the X-Files theme in a major key instead of minor (probably the only time this happens in the entire season).

The 2008 movie was okay, but very disappointing. It answered no real questions, and it had no cool special effects, and definitely no aliens. It would have made a great two-parter TV episode.

Now that the new series is about to start, some big questions remain:

#1) Is the Smoking Man still alive? We saw the skin peel off of his bones! Yet, he's listed in the credits in the upcoming show. Was he a clone? Did he store his consciousness somewhere? Is he still going to have that freaky smoking hole in his throat?

Perhaps we'll only see him in flashbacks? Note that Frohike is also listed in the upcoming credits, who we know can't be brought back to life. So maybe it will all be flashbacks or ghosts talking to Mulder.

#2) What happened to the 12/22/12 deadline? It's 2016 now. Did the aliens cancel their invasion? I hope this is addressed.

#3) Which stories are coming back? The green-blooded clones? The killer bees? The super soldiers (please not them)?

We'll see. Carter says he has some new ideas. We'll see how it pans out. I hope it's good.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Winter 2016 New Shows

Now that the Fall shows are in full force, this is the time that the mid-season shows kick in. Here are four shows that I'm checking out. Though, I'll have to warn these shows -- I'm already pretty booked. If they don't deliver, they're gone.

The Expanse (SyFy Tuesday 10PM) - This show actually started last month. I've seen five episodes so far, and it's enough to catch my attention. It contains hints of Battlestar Galactica, Babylon 5 (without the aliens), and the movie Outland.

The first episode was very confusing, but starting with the second episode, it got to be pretty exciting. The story takes place in the near future when we have colonies and bases on Mars, on the Moon, and several other moons and asteroids. The main action takes place around Ceres, where a mining colony is stationed. Tensions are high between Earth and Mars. A group called the OPA continually protests for the rights of those not born on Earth or Mars. (Or at least I think that's what they do -- I'm still unclear.)

Some party, as yet to be identified, seems bent to start a war between Earth and Mars. And something else seems to be going on.

What gets me excited is how much the writers are trying to stay within the realm of real science, and give us a sci-fi story that could really happen. I'll keep watching.

You can catch up on the first five episodes on

The X-Files (SyFy premieres Sunday Jan. 24, then Mondays at 8PM) - Back in August or September, I heard about the upcoming X-Files revival. So, I decided to give the old series a try. As I described before, I found a list of have-to-watch episodes to help me catch up. After I catch the 2008 movie, I'll be ready.

I was pleasantly surprised with the original series. With the Vince Gilligan connection (of Breaking Bad fame), I should have expected it would be a good show. I'll give a full report on the old series next week, but for now, I'm looking forward to some new episodes.

The truth is out there!

Colony (USA premieres Thursday Jan. 14 10PM) - This looks interesting. Sawyer from LOST, producer Carlton Cuse from LOST, the girl everyone seems to hate from The Walking Dead but loved in Prison Break? I don't know much about it, but it looks better than the Minority Report TV show, so I'll give it a shot.

The Magicians (SyFy premieres Monday Jan. 25 9PM) - This is probably the most iffy of the four shows I'm looking at. It looks like a cross between Hogwarts for grownups and Alphas. It could be interesting, but also a regurgitation of something I've already seen. We'll see how it goes ...

2015: The Shows That Ended

2015 was a year where several of my shows ended. Let us all enjoy a moment of silence as we remember these shows. As usual, thar be spoilers.

Haven (SyFy) - It started off strong, and had a couple of good seasons. Audrey Parker comes to investigate Haven and finds strange things going on. She learns about the "troubles." Then she learns that she's immune, and that she looks amazingly like someone from the past. Later she learns that she's not really Audrey Parker.

Then came a couple of seasons that seemed to lose direction. I came really close to quitting the show, but I always wanted to see how it would end. I was ready for it to end.

All the inconsistencies annoyed me. In the first couple of seasons, the troubles was something that came in cycles. Every time the incarnation of Mara (Audrey) stepped into the barn, the troubles stopped. It also seemed that if someone moved away from Haven, they'd be free from the troubles. But then for some reason, the troubles became more of something that always happened, regardless of whether Mara went into the barn or not. And now you can't escape the troubles by moving somewhere else.

And then there were all the disasters that were severe enough to kill the whole town ten times over. Somehow a majority of people always seems to survive, and hardly anyone moved away! Do you remember how people used to joke about M*A*S*H how it went on longer than there were years in the Korean War itself, and how they only moved their "mobile" unit once? Well, in Haven, I'm pretty sure I saw more people die than there were people living there.

Getting past these annoyances, the fifth and final season (both parts taking more than a year to show) made a good attempt to pull all the loose ends back together. It answered most of the big questions, and even though I felt they were making it up as they went along, I was impressed with what was achieved. I just wish it were 13 episodes instead of 26.

Now it's all over. Everyone's happy. The ending was cool.

But wait ... couldn't William create troubles, too? (No ... I need to stop analyzing ...)

P. S. Who does the Duke Mascot look like to you?

Minority Report (FOX) - Can I pretend that the TV series didn't happen? Maybe in a couple of years, it will be forgotten. I only watched because the movie is by far one of my favorites. There's just something magical when you combine Phillip K. Dick, Spielberg, and a hint of Kubric.

The TV show had Spielberg, but not much else. The show attempted to explain further how the trio of Precogs worked together. Agatha was the best and the strongest. Dash saw all the gore, and Arthur got the names. My response: No, no, no, no, no! That's not how it was in the movie. That just doesn't work. Why did they want to ruin a good thing like that?

Also, the whole time I asked myself, "Why do they call this 'Minority Report' when the writers don't even use that one specific plot device?" Well, in the very last episode, Dash has his minority report, and I slapped my head. No, no, no, no, no! That's not how it works!

Despite all that, I made it through all 10 episodes. There were some good parts. I liked the little twists at the end. I liked how they ran away (everybody runs), setting up for a second season. But at the same time I had had enough. I didn't care what happened next. Goodbye!

Continuum (SyFy) - This was another one of those good shows that went on a little too long, but then wrapped up nicely at the end.

The first season was awesome. There were some strange editing choices, which confused the flow, but that might actually be the fault of SyFy, who most likely cut out some parts to fit in one hour with commercials. Other than that, the time travel rules were consistent and well thought out. The story was interesting. The bad guys had a really good reason for being bad. (We need to make sure corporations don't take control of the government.)

I waited for what seemed to be a long time for season 2 on SyFy. That was another strong season, ending with Alex going back in time in an attempt to save his girlfriend.

Somewhere in there, a couple of funny things happened in regards to time travel mechanics. Kellogg's grandmother died, but Kellogg kept on living. Also, Kiera gave her future mother an artifact, which would be returned to Kiera in the future (the never-ending time loop artifact). Both of these triggered lots of discussion among those of us analyzing this stuff.

Season 3 took off on its own path. The original timeline collapses because Alex no longer exists (however or why that's supposed to happen), and these magical people give Kiera the means to go to an alternative timeline where Alex went. This is where the timeline mechanics broke down, and the story turned into "we're making this up as we go along." The lack of direction and what seemed to be weaker writing pushed this once-loved show near the bottom of my viewing order.

But then Season 4 came back to the rescue. It attempted to finish the Season 3 storyline, while at the same time returning back to the first two seasons. It was also a short six episode season. They successfully changed the timeline. Corporations are no longer in power. Kiera still desired to return back to the future, even though it couldn't possibly be the same as it was before. I was pleased to find that the writers found an acceptable way to have her return to her son. It would have to be in a timeline where the Kiera-yet-to-be grows up in a time where everyone's happy and she never has to go back in time. That Kiera is with her son, never having left him. And our Kiera has a bittersweet ending realizing she can only see her son, but never being able to touch him because he belongs to that other Kiera. Ah!

But wait ... if Kiera is such a big hero, wouldn't the new Kiera know about her? And couldn't they work something out? (Need to stop analyzing!)

Even with the annoyances I listed, I'm planning on watching the whole series again on Netflix. Maybe without the SyFy cuts and with watching more episodes closer together, it'll make more sense. 42 episodes. I can do that.

Resurrection (ABC) - I'm really going to miss this show, and I'm disappointed with its premature ending. I realize many people stopped watching, either because it became "boring" or "stranger," but I never felt the show had much time at all to go astray.

I tuned into the first episode, expecting the usual ABC schtick, but was pleasantly surprised with an interesting story. Decades after having died, Jacob, a young boy, comes back to life and returns to his parents, who are now old enough to be his grandparents. Soon, other deceased people start coming back to visit their prior loved ones. What makes the show interesting is how the people, both inside and outside of Arcadia, react to this phenomenon.

Some are happy with the returned. Others think they are abominations, especially when they exhume a grave to find the original body still laying there. The clashes between people rejecting their loved ones and people trying to protect them sets up the stage for some pretty sad situations. After watching a couple of episodes, it got to where the mini-opening credits started getting to me.

Sure, I can see why people complained about the slowness of the story. The second season seemed to go slower than the first. Yet, I saw it as the writers taking the time to explore different situations.

The religious angle of the second season was also a little strange, especially the whole thing about the birth of the one kid at the end, and that evil preacher dude. The show ends without an explanation, and no real indication of how things will ultimately end up. In fact I'm having trouble remembering how it ends.

You may enjoy watching a few episodes, but be prepared to feel unfulfilled at the end.

Falling Skies (TNT) - I'll finish off this list with another good show that went on too long, and one that became more about how awesome the main character was.

It was an awesome first two seasons, up to where the 2nd Mass makes it to Charleston. The story lines were gripping, and action was cool. My only complaint was the one episode where the enemy was easily thwarted by emitting a certain frequency over the radio. Really? That was the best they could come up with?

Still, I remember the first time they killed their first skitter, and many other stepping stones as they got closer to taking back our planet.

The third season went okay, though it seemed like they were spending a lot of time in Charleston without much going on.

The fourth season went to plaid, with Tom Mason escaping the prison, and with Lexi becoming an adult hybrid overnight, and with children being captured and brainwashed. It just didn't fit with the first three seasons. Still, I watched and tried to enjoy.

The fifth season brought everything to an end. There were a couple of really good episodes in there, but I think they went over the top turning Sawyer into a bad guy. That was pretty silly. Though, Sawyer was right about one thing: the show really was all about Tom Mason. The world really did revolve around him.

Out of all the shows I listed in this post, the final episode of Falling Skies was the most disappointing. All Tom had to do was to hit the queen with that magic bullet, and she practically sat there and let him do it. And then all the ships in orbit exploded?! I really, really, really, really hate that trope.

It all ends with a corny speech at Washington DC where Tom Mason is elected President of the World. Yay!

At least the beginning of the show was awesome.

Finally some honorable mentions. I was about to put Wayward Pines (FOX) on this list, but was pleasantly surprised to learn that it's coming back this summer. Yay! I'll have to come back later and report on this short show that I enjoyed this past summer.

I'm pretty sure Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell (BBC) will not be having a second season, but I want to wait and report on that show separately in a few weeks. As far as I know, Susanna Clarke has started a sequel novel. Unless she gives up writing this book to instead write a second series, I doubt that BBC would produce a sequel that would deviate from the book she's currently writing. We'll see, though.

Friday, January 8, 2016

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay (Movies)

It's finally over. The Hunger Games trilogy is done (now a tetralogy). Was it worth splitting the last book into two movies?

Together, the two movies are 4 hours and 20 minutes of Katniss goodness. That's a lot of time spent on what many call the weakest of the three books, but I'm not sure what could be left out, as that last book contains the most cinematic writing. As it is now, the two movies capture the best parts, and stays true, changing only a few plot lines to speed up some action.

The result is two almost entirely different movies. The first is more about building up the resistance. The second is more about the actual war. Many of my friends like either the first or the second, but not always both. If you prefer all the talk and excitement of preparations, you'd probably like the first. If instead, you prefer watching all the action go down, you'd probably like the last.

I was impressed overall with both movies and enjoyed them both. When they deviated from the book, it sometimes worked, and sometimes not. For example, near the end of the second movie, they added a death trap that didn't work at all. It was too random, too easy to avoid, and too flashy.

I was a little disappointed with the final ending, not because it wasn't decent, but because I prefer how the book ends with Katniss. It was still entertaining.

My favorite of the series: the second movie (Catching Fire).

Overall, it's a good series. Well done, Liongate!

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Struggling With Justice

I wish I could always write positive things, but today I'm going to write about when I'm not at my best. I know many of my readers could care less about my whining and excuses, so I'll let you know in advance. I do not write this post for you, but for those who may have, or currently are experiencing these same issues. Perhaps you could learn what NOT to do, or how to recover.

Also, I'll go ahead and report that I feel like I'm currently in a good spot again. I'm back to writing. I have a plan. I'm pushing forward. So, what you're about to read is in the past, and this is my post-mortem.

As I've mentioned at least twice in the past week, I came to a complete standstill in my writing for months. There were no excuses, no tests, no busies at work, no nothing. Yet there were struggles and depression. The main cause? There's no way around it ... it was mainly coming from working on my book Escape From the Planet Justice (which is now called just plain Justice).

I had finished my 4th draft of Justice years ago, and I set it aside for a long time. Then mid-2014, I decided to self-publish the book. After all, I had already sent it to all the major publishers, and received several rejections and a couple of ignores. What did I have to lose? Get the book ready, put it out there for people to buy. No gatekeepers -- just my book standing on its own, letting the people decide if it was worth buying.

It was a great plan. Get the 4th draft critiqued, make final revisions, get a professional editor, publish it, and sell it. Little did I know that I was going to get stuck at Step 1.

First I went to the online critique service It is probably the best critique service out there for science fiction. (One day I'll give a fuller review.) Up through mid-2014, I had been critiquing several short stories and even a couple of novels. I think I did three total, and those critiques were awesome. I was honest, and I provided what I thought would be the most useful feedback, along with detailed suggestions.

I posted Justice, hoping to get the same treatment in return. I put up the first chapter for everyone to read, and sent details for those wanting to critique the full book. I received four critiques of the first chapter, and just one person -- yes, ONE -- took up the task of critiquing the whole book. That guy, John, read the whole thing in like a day, and he gave me a page-long critique, which provided good overall suggestions, but no details on any specific passages.

Overall, I felt jipped. Not by John, who critiqued the whole novel, but by the lack of other independent critiques that are necessary in order to identify what the real problems are. had let me down.

That's when I decided to turn to my friends. They could critique my novel.

But first, the experience wasn't a complete waste. All those critiquers agreed on one thing: I needed to add something to the beginning, something short to build the world and set the stage, instead of just barging into the action. So I added something: two new chapters at the beginning, plus a major edit on the old-first-now-third chapter.

And then I went to facebook and asked who wanted to do a critique. I got two handfuls of volunteers.

Only three of them critiqued the first three chapters. I sent follow-up emails to try to get feedback from my other friends, but they were all ignored.

Out of the three, one of the friends had already critiqued the 3rd draft, so I only gave her three chapters. She says she'll critique future revisions once I'm done.

One of the others stopped at three chapters and wouldn't provide any more feedback.

The last of the three, Will, who had originally gotten me started down the path of serious writing, made it as far as Chapter 7 and then he went ballistic on me. He picked up that Chapters 4 and beyond were written earlier, and he went on about how much of a cardinal sin it was to send a critiquer such a mish-mash of writing and about how pissed off he was. He made me wish I had sent him just the old stuff without the insert at the beginning. Since he had already helped with the 2nd draft, I let him off the hook for the rest of the book.

Other than that, Will gave a very valuable critique on those first seven chapters.

Then I realized that was it. let me down. My friends let me down. My perfect plan to self-pulish this book came to a total standstill.

And here comes the big kicker. What did I do next? I did the wrong thing. I asked myself, "Why did I get so few critiques on this novel? How can I progress without a full critique?" My answer to myself: "It must be total crap. They must have started reading it, got bored, and set it aside. There must have been a good reason why nobody wanted to publish it earlier."

I didn't have any other projects planned to work on, so I just came to a complete stop. Did the world really need another second-rate science fiction author?

Even though I wasn't writing, I still had this urge. Stories were still wanting to come out of me. I had to do something to fix this. That's when I decided to hire a life coach. We discussed different options. One choice would have been to set aside Justice and move on to something else, but I realized I needed to conquer this book. If I could get it ready for publishing, and actually get it out on the market, then I could do anything with my other works.

I decided to give it one more try. First I read through all the critiques I did get, and I realized the answers I sought were in there, even if my friends hadn't done the whole thing.

So, I got over my whining, self-pitying, and self-loathing, and went to work. The first three chapters went rather smoothly. I had to rewrite some sections to help the flow. And then when I hit the fourth chapter, I hit me why Will (and possibly others) got so pissed off. The older writing was terrible. Well, "terrible" is too strong a word, but it was still a dozen cringes per page. I saw why Will hated the protagonist so much. And it wasn't too difficult to fix the problems.

Chapter 4 ended up suffering some major rewrites.

When I stopped for Christmas, I made it as far as the beginning of Chapter 5. Starting next week, I'll be back in business, shooting for one chapter a week. Then I'll be done in about four months. Next I'll send it to a professional editor, shooting for a release in 2017.

It's a plan.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

The Three-Body Problem: Good For Blowing the Mind

What attracted me to Cixin Liu's The Three-Body Problem was the fact that a Chinese novel had won the Hugo award for 2015. I had never read a Chinese novel, but I figured it was worth a shot.

Overall, I was pleasantly surprised. The book's greatest strength is to deliver strangeness while at the same time making it accessible. The imagery was so great, it triggered for me several vivid dreams.

This first of a trilogy recounts a series of mysterious events. Wang Miao, a prominent nanomaterials scientist, becomes caught up in the investigation of unexplained scientist suicides. This leads him to a virtual-reality video game, called "Three Body," which describes a world with chaotic seasons. And this is just the beginning of that strangeness I mentioned earlier.

The name of the book, itself, provides clues as to what's going on. It's a physics/math problem that has yet to be solved explicitly. In the Two-Body problem, two masses in a system will end up in some predictable orbit around each other. But throw in a third mass, and the system becomes unpredictable.

You may ask: what does this have to do with anything? You'll have to read it to find out. I was pleased with how Cixin Liu pulls it off.

Be prepared, though, for a different kind of reading experience. I'm not sure if it's the translation, or the author's writing style, but I found the prose often going into "legend" mode, much like what you might find in the stories of Paul Bunyan or Pecos Bill. Or probably more appropriately, some old Chinese story. This was a little strange to me, but I found the imagery beautiful and worth reading.

I strongly recommend this book, so you can also enjoy a different kind of sci-fi. In another month or so, I will pick up the sequel, The Dark Forest. The third book hasn't been translated yet, but will come out later this year. And a Chinese film will be released this year as well. Perhaps some theaters in the US will show it?

Monday, January 4, 2016

Star Wars VII: Doing It Right

Disney and J. J. Abrams pulled it off. They did Star Wars better than George Lucas! Well, at least better than the prequels.

First off, they didn't ruin it. They could have displayed the Disney castle at the beginning. Or Abrams could have used more than a few lens flares (I think I counted about 10 total?). Disney could have turned it into a musical.

It felt like ... get this ... a Star Wars movie. I loved it. The fans who caught it with me the night before opening loved it. Even a couple of days ago, there was someone clapping at the end when I saw it for a third time at an obscure theatre in Roanoke, Virginia.

So, who doesn't like it? I've seen a few negative reviews but they are a vast minority. The complaints are along the lines of "it's basically A New Hope rehashed" and "why didn't such-and-such get answered?" Then again, aren't all the other Star Wars movies variations on A New Hope? And we have two more movies on the way for answering questions.

Like I've posited before, sometimes critics give negative reviews just to remind the world that they're real critics. "I was one who gave a top-grossing film a bad review when everyone else loved it!"

Yet, even the negative critics agree: Disney and Abrams delivered, and it was well received.

P. S. I'll venture a small spoiler and impart my wisdom. Star Wars VII finally reveals why storm troopers always seem to miss their targets. Think about it. As soon as one of them takes off his helmet, he's suddenly able to hit his targets. Could it be ...? No, it couldn't be that!

Friday, January 1, 2016

2016 Preview

2016 is going to be an awesome year, because it's divisible by 32, which is 2x2x2x2x2. Check out its binary representation: 11111100000. That's six ones followed by five zeroes. Awesome! It's also the last year divisible by 32 before 2048, which will be 2x2x2x2x2x2x2x2x2x2x2 -- eleven twos! And finally, let's check out the full prime factorization of 2016: 2x2x2x2x2x3x3x7. No 2-digit prime divisors, which is only the second time this has happened in my lifetime (the other time being 2000).

Anyhow, as I mentioned in my last post, I determined that I didn't do so well in 2015 because I lacked focus (of which I will give more details in a later post). Around August, I decided to hire a life coach to help me get back on track. We're still working on it, but I've come to learn what my main priorities are, and I'm already making headway.

After doing some math, I've determined that the fastest way for me to start earning a profit is to publish music (of which I'll give more detail in my Music blog when the time is right). A big chunk of my free time in 2016 will go into that venture.

My efforts in fiction writing will be less, but more directed. My life coach explains that a good goal has to be specific (S), measurable (M), actionable (A), realistic (R), and timely (T). So, if I can set more directed goals, it drastically increases the success rate of achieving the goals.

So, here's what I have for 2016:
  • "Justice": Finish the 6th draft and submit to a professional editor (prior to self-publishing).
    • After a couple of weeks preparation in January, edit/rewrite one chapter a week until the draft is finished.
    • During the editing stage, research reputable editors, and choose one to go with.
    • When the entire draft is finished, submit to the editor.
    • If time permits, institute/correct editor's changes.
    • Final preparations for the book will be done in 2017.
  • "The Last Actuary": Prepare another short story for the 2017 Actuarial Speculative Fiction contest.
    • Start writing Oct. 1.
    • Finish first draft by Dec. 1.
    • Submit for critique targeting first part of Jan 2017.
    • Final edit and submission will be during Jan 2017.
  • 26 magazine submissions (every other week).
There will be 5 goal review sessions at the end of every other month to make sure I stay on track. The first will be around Feb. 28.

There you have it: direct, actionable, specific goals. I'll let you know how it goes along the way.

Good luck with your own goals, and shoot for a productive year!