To keep track of where my various projects stand, for my own good if not for anyone who may read this, here’s my current fictiony status:

Dead and Dying has officially been downgraded as just Dead. There are still two full manuscripts floating around out there–two of the three I received, in fact–but I haven’t heard anything on them since May when I sent them in and I’m done waiting. If something still comes of the book, then great. If not, that’s okay, too.

Project Superhero has been sent to five or six people to read. Hopefully, I’ll start getting some feedback over the next few days so I can see what horribly embarrassing mistakes I have to fix. I’m nearly settled on a title, but I’m still mulling it over while I continue to tinker with the manuscript here and there. I also started working on the query letter last night and will continue to work on it over the next couple of weeks until I feel good about it. Then, a couple of published (or soon-to-be published) writers have offered to check out the letter and offer their insights.

New Literary Fiction Project is still in the planning stages and I will probably begin the rough draft in the next week or so. Scary, but in a good way.

“The Luckiest Man on Earth” is a short story I’ve sent out to one mag so far hoping to find it a good home. I think it’s one of the strongest shorts I’ve written and I’m moderately optimistic that it will land somewhere, sometime.

“Visible Man” is another short I think might have a good chance of reaching publication, although I’m still looking for the ideal market. I’ll probably think more about sending this one out next month after I have the new novel going a bit.

That’s the top-of-mind stuff at the moment. I have a few other things in various stages of completion, but none of them near enough to done or promising enough (yet) to worry about amidst all this other work.

I did have a pleasant experience today, though, that I think bears mentioning. I went to Arby’s for lunch and the young girl at the counter noticed the book (Don DeLillo’s Underworld) in my hand and asked what I was reading. She then took it from me and proceeded to read the inside flap while I contemplated my order. When I was ready, she returned the tome, smiled, and said, “I’m a book person.”

Maybe there’s hope for the young, after all.

Old year done, new one begun. Sadly, most of my new goals will look a lot like the ones from last year, as I fell a bit short of most of them. I can’t call last year a total failure–far from it–but I’m really hoping to have a breakout year instead of a year where I miss everything by inches.

And so, here are my goals for the New Year:

Gain representation from a literary agent. I don’t care if I have a contract or not this year–in fact, I don’t expect one at all–but I would like to have the concern of representation off the table by the end of the year so I can focus on the writing more and the selling less. I felt good about my chances last year and I feel even better this year, so we’ll see how this one goes.

Sell a short story. I want to have at least one short story in a legitimate publication, either online or in print. It doesn’t necessarily have to pay anything, but I want that all-important credit that will make the first goal a little easier to meet.

Write a new novel. I have one in mind that I’ll be starting in the next couple of days and I’m looking forward to tackling something new. My genre fiction tends to incorporate lighter elements of fantasy and horror, focusing more on conflicts among the characters rather than whatever evil they are facing, so I’m hoping to use what I do best to succeed in something a little different, a little outside my comfort zone.

Write three or more decent short stories. I have a few ideas, but we’ll see how this goes. I don’t tend to think of stories in terms of only a few thousand words, but this is one area I really want to work on this coming year. If I can meet goal #2 in the process, all the better.

Get promoted at the day job. I’m due for this and this should be my year. So long as they can take my strong opinions (read big mouth) along with my ability, this should be an easy one.

Lose 25 pounds. If I can apply some of the discipline I use with my writing, I should be able to meet this challenge. I may not like, may go kicking and screaming all the way, but I’m tired of looking like Buddha and I want to do something about it.

Be more positive. I tend to hide behind that lie that all pessimistic people employ when confronted with the truth of their attitudes–“I’m a realist.” The problem with being a realist, particularly a realist in charge of others, is that people absorb that “realism” and pretty soon everyone is just as negative as you are. Well, no more. I’m going to be more positive because, dangit, I’m good enough to change this about myself. See? I’m improving already.

There will be other little mileposts, I’m sure, that I’ll throw up along the way, but this is the grand design for the year. I think all of them are attainable, if not inevitable. They mean a lot of work, but that’s something that I’ve proven not to be afraid of. What I am afraid of is carrying over the same goals to next year.