Archive for the ‘Writing Goals’ Category

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Hmm, we seem to have skipped through a few weeks, didn’t we?

I’ve been very bad about checking in with my goals and that’s probably because I’m not so happy about my progress. Also because the middle of the month was a bit of a struggle all around. I’m making up for it with a fabulous finish and a knock out interview ready to post tomorrow.

(Stay tuned! You won’t want to miss it!)

Let’s get to the goals and see the damage/progress done, shall we?

My #writemotivation goals for this month:

  1. Work on suggested revisions for INSTITUTIONALIZED. Oh, boy. No beating about the proverbial bush. This hasn’t gone well. I’m moving so painfully slow on this. I maybe have a fourth of this done. I’m not very happy with the speed of my progress. However, I am making some pretty radical changes, especially to the front half. It might pick up once I get past that point. 
  2. If complete revisions, submit to interested parties/begin submission process. Not even on the table, yet. But I have promised myself I WILL have the revisions done before I leave for the SCBWI LA conference at the end of July. How’s that for a seriously solid deadline? I must have a singular focus to get through July – setting daily revision goals may help push myself where I need to be. This means less time for other distractions, but I think I’m ready to do this.
  3. Read 5 books. Surprisingly I’ve actually read 4 books and made a good dent in a 5th. I’m not sure if I’ll finish the 5th before the end of the month, but that’s okay. We’ll call this goal close enough accomplished. Even though I feel like I’ve been such a slow reader this month. Probably because I still haven’t finished wonder 2ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF SOLITUDE by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. It’s not that I’m struggling with it, it’s just one of those books that begs you to take your time. I’m really enjoying the story and the language – everything about it, honestly. I’m not even going to worry about how long it takes me to. I may actually finish WONDER by RJ Palacio first. I’ve had it sitting by my bedside for months and I finally cracked it open this week. It’s off to a promising start.
  4. Plan out summer blog ideas/giveaways, etc. Done! Wow. One goal accomplished. I finally have my idea box refilled and ready to go. I have several book giveaways planned, starting with the first one tomorrow!
  5. Exercise 4 times a week. We are all doing really well with this at the homestead. Between walking and swimming and now the new gym membership, my muscles will never stop aching that (almost) happy pain of overuse ever again. Whee! And I’m spending so much time outside that for the first time in years, I am not ghostly pale. Yes, I have a (slight) tan. Friends who’ve known me for years will be totally shocked by this.

I hope you have all had a productive or at least motivating June. As I have some actual vacation plans coming up, (woohoo!) I won’t be participating in #writemotivation for July, but I will be active on this blog. We’ll be taking a break over at the TGNA blog for a couple of months, which will help me focus more over here and on my revisions. I’ll join back up in August and I’ll still be following everyone on Twitter.

Keep Writing! (And Stay Tuned Tomorrow!)

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Looking Back

A brief, blunt, and honest review of how dismally I did on my goals in May before we see what this month has in store.

The goals for May were:

  1. Continue work on suggested revisions for MUSEUM CRASHERS. Didn’t finish. 
  2. Work on suggested revisions for Institutionalized. Didn’t even start. 
  3. If complete revisions, submit to interested parties/begin submission process. Nope.
  4. Read 6 books. Did read 4 out of 6, which was actually better than I thought I would do.
  5. The dreaded and yet necessary exercise – whip cracks! 4 times a week. Done. One goal accomplished. 

So yes, some extenuating, messy life stuff happened. When doesn’t it?

Life is messy.

During these turbulent times I think it’s even more important for me to make sure I don’t short-change myself by neglecting to set aside time for my writing. This is what I vow to do going forward. This is what I MUST do if I am ever going to accomplish what I desire  - to be a writer. I have to make it a priority, no matter what.

Looking Forward

My #writemotivation goals for this month:

  1. Work on suggested revisions for INSTITUTIONALIZED.
  2. If complete revisions, submit to interested parties/begin submission process.
  3. Read 5 books.
  4. Plan out summer blog ideas/giveaways, etc.
  5. Exercise 4 times a week.The Poisoned House

I’ve been working hard this week to stay focused and organized. I’ve already read one book this month, a ghost story called THE POISONED HOUSE by Michael Ford. I can’t remember whose reading list I stole this book from, probably Sonia Gensler’s, but whomever’s it was, I thank you. It was an eerily enjoyable read. I’ve also made some big decisions on plot changes for the YA story, so I’m ready to move forward on the revisions. Oh, yeah, and I joined a gym with my daughter and actually used the membership. Yay, me.

Here’s to a better, more productive month. Hope you all are having a fun summer and making good progress on your goals.

Until next time…

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Doing my first check in with a little over a week to go in the month. That should say something right there. This month didn’t start out so hot. I do feel that I am finally getting back on track after having way too much too handle. I don’t like to bore you with details, but let’s just say it seemed as if everyone in my household was having an existential crisis that required hours of me talking them down off proverbial (and sometimes not-so proverbial) ledges. Chaos was the order of the day, coffee was the beverage, nay, the meal of choice, and sleep was nary to be found.

Thankfully, that is all behind me. Everyone has once again found their inner zen and their raison d’être.

The balance is back.

Yes.

Image Courtesy of Robin Benad via Unsplash cc

Image Courtesy of Robin Benad via Unsplash cc

Breathe in. Breathe out.

Namaste.

We now return to our scheduled programming. So…where were we?

The Goals:

  1. Continue work on suggested revisions for Museum Crashers. I am close to halfway through with this round of revisions. I had a lovely critique group session, yesterday, that was very productive. My critique group loved the resolution at the end and how my character faced his fear. I just have some tightening up to do to get that ending the way I need it to be. I am really enjoying working on this book.
  2. Work on suggested revisions for Institutionalized. This will have to wait until next month. Although I have been thinking about it a lot and have been coming up with new ideas for it while working on the Museum book. I think I’ve solved a lot of the problems I’ve been struggling with and I can’t wait to get to work on this one. Next month, definitely.
  3. If complete revisions, submit to interested parties/begin submission process. Not ready, yet. Will have to wait for next month.
  4. Read 6 books. I’m doing a terrible job on this goal. I’ve only finished two books so far this month. Although I am blazing through Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles right now. I finished cinder-117x162Scarlet_final_USA-Today-117x162CINDER rather quickly and am already well into SCARLET. (Aren’t those book covers gorgeous?) I know I’ll have this one read before the end of the month. And then this peculiarly wonderful thing happened. I was invited to participate in Colleen Houck’s book club on Goodreads. I have to read the current book, THE SHADOW PRINCE by Bree Despain, by the end of the week so I can participate in the next discussion. I’m really looking forward to it. I thought being part of a book club might help me expand my reading tastes a bit by exposing me to books I wouldn’t normally hear about. It’s going to be a fun experiment. And it should force me to read more timely. Nothing like a deadline, right?
  5. The dreaded and yet necessary exercise – whip cracks! 4 times a week. I have been walking regularly, and for longer stints, which is good, but that doesn’t seem to be enough. It’s time to get back on the elliptical. BLECH! On another note, our neighborhood pool opens this weekend, so I’ll be taking the boy to the pool at least once a day until September. Time to get a new suit. Woohoo.

I hope you’ve had a lovely May and if you are up for some goal challenges for June, it’s a great time to sign up for next month at the #writemotivation website.

 

 

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I may have overcommitted myself this month.

Just a wee bit.

We have our annual fundraiser for the Autism Center of Tulsa, the A-Ok Walk for Autism coming up in May, and I’m the Team Captain for the Avengers for Trevor team. We are wearing costumes this year (or some of us are) and I’m tracking down props and gathering team members and donations and yeesh, it’s time consuming.

Then, I’m giving a couple of talks next month for our SCBWI OK group and I had to (over) prepare for them. Like way over prepare. I don’t think I know any other way. I hope it goes well. *fingers crossed*

Finally, my son’s job coach and I decided it was time to start increasing his work day – to stretch his potential in manageble increments – until we got him from half days to full days. We both felt he was ready. One thing I should have factored into my schedule was that he doesn’t deal with change well. He gets anxious and needs more attention – he has periods of acting out, aggression, and even total ugly meltdowns when he feels overwhelmed. We’ve seen all of these in the past few weeks. He’s getting better, but we’ve been living with a rabid six foot wolverine most afternoons. Not. Fun.

So…

Why did I think I could revise two complete novels in one month?

Insanity!

I do believe I may have some hereditary traits leaning toward mental instability on my mother’s side. That could explain soooooo many of my questionable life choices. But I digress. Let’s get on with it and view the damage done.

My #writemotivation goals for this month:

1. Work on suggested revisions for Museum Crashers. Although I have made significant progress, I still have a long way to go. I remain excited about the direction this is going and the revision suggestions are only making this story better. Meeting with my critique group this months was also very instructive. They pulled off the kid gloves and gave my chapter the business. It sorely needed it. The end of the story obviously needs more work than the beginning, and I have some character continuity issues to resolve. Everything is very doable, it’s just going to take longer than expected.

Blech.

I need some more chocolate to get through this revision.

2. Work on suggested revisions for Institutionalized. Nope. I’m going to have to add this as a goal for next month. Maybe. If I get goal #1 accomplished. I need to be a little more patient with myself. (Have I ever mentioned that I’m not a patient person?)

3. Read 6 books. So close! But not really. I did read 4 books. Two were picture books. (Not that I have anything against picture books, I love picture books.) I really got hung up on one book that required a slower read. THE DREAM THIEVES by Maggie Steifvater. It was a sequel to a book that I tore through in a couple of days, so it was frustrating that I couldn’t get into the second book so easily. In the end, I was glad I slowed down and stuck with the story. Some books can’t be rushed.  

4. If complete both 1 and 2, work on first draft of Pretty Vacant. Bah! ha ha ha ha ha! Maybe for June.

5. Yes, you still have to exercise. 4 times a week. One goal accomplished! I win! (I’m taking my positives where I can get them.)

So there’s the ugly truth of this month’s goal non-accomplishmenting. I shall not give up, however. I have already signed up for next month to do this thing all over again. I plan on hitting the revision track even harder. Once my son has adjusted to his new work hours, I will have a lot more free time to write. Very excited about that!

I hope you all did better than I did. Here’s to a productive May!

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Many of the people I follow are participating in the A to Z challenge this month, so I expect they are plenty busy with this insanity right about now. (I say this with the utmost respect of one who could never in a million years be organized enough to post daily for an entire month, let alone have a theme involved tying all said fictional posts together – I am not that person.) I think they are all rock stars or mentally imbalanced, like people who purposely run marathons. Seriously, how do you do it?

Goals for this month:

1. Work on suggested revisions for Museum Crashers. I am deep into this goal at the moment and really enjoying it. The suggestions made during my conference critique have me on the right track. YAY!! I also meet with my critique group this week and they will add to the helpfulness, as they always do.

I may have neglected to mention this before, but two other members of my critique group, Barbara Lowell (who has her first book coming out this June!) and Sharon Martin (writer of the most kick-ass novel in verse I’ve read since Ellen Hopkins), both were chosen as top picks by the speakers. Man, do I have a fantastic critique group or what!

2. Work on suggested revisions for Institutionalized. This will be next after I’m done with Museum Crashers.

3. Read 6 books. I’ve just finished one book of poetry that I’m going to write a review on later this week and I’m in the middle of another, a sequel I’ve been really looking forward to reading – THE DREAM THIEVES by Maggie Stiefvater. I’m going a little slow on this one right now. It’s not clipping along with the same fantastic pace as the first one. Part of it may be that it’s been so long since I read the first book that I have trouble remembering everything that happened in the last book and I get a little lost.

4. If complete both 1 and 2, work on first draft of Pretty Vacant. Not ready for this, yet.

5. Yes, you still have to exercise. 4 times a week. Goal accomplished and my body hates it. Every day I wake up wondering why there is pain already. “Oh yeah. The exercise.” We’re not even up to pre-deathly ill month of February levels of exercise yet and my body is already whining. Too bad, chica, cause we’re not stopping. Slap on the icy hot and walk (limp) on.

 

Besides this, I’ve also been busy preparing for a talk I’m doing next month for our local SCBWI schmooze entitled “Intro to Twitter”. As part of this prep, I’ve been creating some lists on my Twitter account to share. Wow, was that time-consuming! I’m glad I’ve finally finished! One is called “Writers of fabulous blogs” and includes all the people I follow who also write really good blogs. Feel free hop on over and subscribe to it.

And how are you all doing with your goals?

I hope to get around to reading at least a sampling of the thousands of A to Z challenge posts out there; they are daunting in their numbers. I am interested in reading through all of Rebekah’s world-building series for sure. Talk about detail. Get on with your bad self!  Are there any A to Z challenges you’ve found fascinating?

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To say that I had a positive experience at our SCBWI OK spring conference would be quite the understatement. One of the first things that happened before our speakers took the stage was the winners of the face-to-face critiques were announced. Each speaker chooses two manuscripts from their selections and those lucky souls get to sit down and discuss their writing for ten whole, uninterrupted minutes. I had not one, but two separate manuscripts chosen.

That was a first.

I was beyond thrilled, beyond honored. (Thankfully I was not beyond speech.)

The two speakers who chose my MG and YA manuscripts were both so fantastic. They gave me insightful suggestions that fit right along my vision for each story – neither thought I had to scrap the entire thing a rewrite either as, say, a paranormal/historical dystopian/time-travel piece. I can’t wait to get back to revising. Is it any wonder I had such a hard time concentrating on the rest of the conference? Once I made my way back into the main room, I did my best to stay focused. The speakers were all so brilliant, so diverse and amazing. It was just an all-around wonderful day. A recap of the rest of the conference will be coming later this week.

For now, let’s take the final look at this month’s #writemotivation goals:

  1. Make progress on new YA project (Pretty Vacant) including plotting out new story arc and starting on first draft with word count goal of 30K. I fell short by 10K, but this story did get off to a good start. I’m happy with the progress made.
  2. Submit first YA manuscript to at least 15 agents. Only sent out to about one-third. Lame, lame, lame.
  3. Read at least 6 books this month. Done! By the skin of my teeth. (That is a weird saying.) Good thing I brought some more books home from the conference; I was almost out – ha ha ha! I can’t even say that with a straight face.
  4. Get back into exercise routine slowly – at least three times week. No comment. (I did dance on stage during the conference while killing time before a bit, but I’m not sure that really counts. And sorry for those who saw that. For some reason, having my back turned made me think I was invisible.)

I hope you all had a productive March.

I am one of the few NOT participating in the A to Z challenge during April. (A themed blog post every day all month long? Those guys are crazy.) I will however, be setting more #writemotivation goals since I have some serious (and exciting) work to do.

If you want to join in all the fun, pop on over and sign up for #WriteMotivation April! 

Spring GrassAh, spring!

It’s only a few days in and already I feel your magic. The trees are budding, the days are warmer, there is more sunlight.

I love springtime.

You saved me from the dreariness of winter in the nick of time.

That’s why I couldn’t believe this story I heard on NPR about this village Rjukan, in Norway that spends half a year in darkness. People living in darkness on purpose.

What?

That country’s first cable car was built in the town for the sole purpose of transporting villagers up to the light for their health. (My first question would be, if you have to do something that drastic, why would you ever, ever live there?)

Finally, one of it’s residents had a brilliant idea (no pun intended) to shed some light on the matter. (Yes, he was an artist.) Many people thought the idea was crazy and a waste of money, but apparently those same people are the ones you’ll find now standing in the town square basking in the warm sun, transported down from above by the fantastic combination of art and engineering. Computer-controlled mirrors now reflect the sun’s light and beam it down to the grateful people below. Brilliant, right?

My point? Just when you think you’re stuck in six months of never-ending darkness, maybe step back and reevaluate your surroundings, your plight. There  could be another way to look at your situation that you just haven’t thought of. I don’t know, I just found it creative as hell and hopeful.  Human beings are amazing, sometimes.

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Now to check on my #writemotivation goals for the week:

  1. Make progress on new YA project (Pretty Vacant) including plotting out new story arc and starting on first draft with word count goal of 30K. Steady progress made. I’m closer to 18K than 30K, which isn’t bad. Might just make this goal.
  2. Submit first YA manuscript to at least 15 agents. I’m behind on this goal, but I do have some potential agents narrowed down. I feel confident that I can meet this goal by next week.
  3. Read at least 6 books this month. (I’m a little behind on my yearly reading goal already!) This one is going well. I have finished five books already. I’m currently TheGraveyardBook_Hardcover_1218248432reading Neil Gaiman’s THE GRAVEYARD BOOK. It has a great opening line: “There was a hand in the darkness, and it held a knife.” And this is accompanied by such an ominous illustration that the mood is perfectly set.
  4. Get back into exercise routine slowly – at least three times week. Meh progress. Two times. Next week comes the dreaded return of the elliptical. I know this helps me have more energy and helps me fight of the depression uglies, so do it I must.

Today I’m also posting over at The Great Noveling Adventure blog. I’m discussing craft books that have helped me stop totally sucking at making amateur mistakes and I’m looking for some more suggestions to stop making the even bigger mistakes. If you have a book on writing that you’ve found invaluable in your quest to be the best writer you can be, hop on over and share it with us.

Next weekend is the SCBWI OK spring conference! WOOHOO! I will be tweeting about the conference throughout the weekend at #SCBWIOK14 if you care to follow along. I will, of course, give you all the highlights and my favorite takeaways from the great speakers we have lined up in future posts, so stay tuned!

Hope you are taking command of your goals and bowing them to your will.

Keep writing!

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Why did mention that I was feeling about 65% back to normal  - ALMOST FREAKING HEALTHY!!! – on my last #writemotivation check in? It must’ve sounded too much like a brag or something because the gods of health decided to slap me with one more wave of the sickness. Of the dreaded sinus infection variety.

Blech!

Oh yeah, but they couldn’t let me be completely done with that lingering cough that kept me from ever getting a good night’s sleep. You know, the one that started at the beginning of February? So the was fun. Brain exploding with sinus pain while still coughing until I wanted to take a power drill to my head and open up some breathing holes. I am so done with coughing, sneezing, aching, etc. I think I’ve eaten my own body weight in cough drops this year already. I loathe the taste of tea and honey after the oceans I’ve consumed. I’ve blown through so many boxes of tissues I should replant a small forest on the next Earth Day to decrease my carbon footprint.

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This week, I’m throwing caution to the wind and stating that I’m over the worst of everything. I may have sacrificed a pomegranate in the light of a full moon while singing a medley of Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus tunes. I think that appeased the gods of health. Either that, or they were afraid I’d sing again. Either way, my voice has finally returned to normal and I haven’t had to take any cold medication for several days. No more Emma Stone voice, but I’m grateful that things can start returning to normal.

This month always brings so much more promise. March, don’t tell February, but I like you more. Our SCBWI OK spring conference is at the end of the month and it’s always fantastic. This year it’s in Oklahoma City so I get to run away from home for the weekend and spend it with my favorite writing friends. It’ll be a smorgasbord of literary goodness and I can’t wait to gorge myself.

In the midst of all this healing and fruit sacrificing, I have finally been able to get back to the work of writing and related things. Let’s take a look at this month’s goals to see the damage progress made thus far.

Here are my #writemotivation goals:

  1. Make progress on new YA project (Pretty Vacant) including plotting out new story arc and starting on first draft with word count goal of 30K. The smallest of starts, but progress has begun. I am so excited about this project, I can’t even tell you. The only hint I’ll give this early is that it will deal with gender politics and the riot grrrl movement.
  2. Submit first YA manuscript to at least 15 agents. Two is better than zero but far from my goal. Need to ramp this up next week with more submissions sent out.
  3. Read at least 6 books this month. (I’m a little behind on my yearly reading goal already!) Three books finished already and another one halfway done. Looks like IMG_20140315_221040there’s one goal I will actually make. What’s really surprising is I just finished reading my first YA book of the year, and it was phenomenal. WINTERGIRLS by Laurie Halse Anderson. It was a little more special because it was my copy I had autographed in LA this past summer. I love Laurie Halse Anderson and not just because she write so damn well.
  4. Get back into exercise routine slowly – at least three times week. This was the most painful goal to accomplish. After not exercising for over a month, I did manage  to go for a walk three times. My pace was horribly slow, and I felt like death after the first two times, but goal accomplished. yay. (hack, pant, moan.) I have no idea when I’ll even attempt to get back on the elliptical.

How are your goals coming along this month?

Do you have any exciting spring break/writing conference plans in your immediate future?

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I am almost glad this is the shortest month of the year so I can put it firmly behind me and start over in March. Speaking of which, it’s not too late to sign up for next month and participate in this great gang of writerly support yourself.

(Just click here. You’ll be glad you did.)

I remain on the road to recovery and I am feeling a good 65% back to normal. I still sound like Emma Stone after a hangover, but my voice is improving a little bit every day. One thing it’s easy for me to do right now is fake a dramatic cry, which I find hilarious. My voice breaks so easily and I sound just like a dramatic teen having an emotional outburst (I’ve seen a few so I know what they look like). Any time my husband says they didn’t have something I needed at the store or we’re out of orange juice, I just collapse my face and wail. “But whhhy? You don’t love me, that’s why!” Or some insane, illogical outpouring. It’s quite an impressive cacophony of sadness that one might almost believe if I didn’t crack up laughing in the middle of it.

Yes, I am emotionally immature, especially when I’m sick. You’d think after the first five or six times I’d stop finding this funny, but no. My husband just sighs and let’s me have my moment. He totally gets me.

On to the #writemotivation goals:

  1. Plot out new story arc for Amazing New YA project (PV), flesh out characters, and then start writing out first draft. Stretch Goal: Make past the halfway mark or 40,000K words, whichever comes first. As I said last week, I’ve put this on pause and I’m moving this to March. Manuscript request trumps new project. Almost done so I should return to this soon.
  2. Prepare conference critique submissions and send off. Done! One goal accomplished during this chaotic month is nothing to sneeze, hack, or cough at. Taking it as a win.
  3. Submit completed manuscript(s) to five agents a week. Look! A dinosaur! (Man, that used to work on my kids all the time.) Moving this goal to March.
  4. Read 4 books. Stretch goal: read 7. Might eek by with 3 books (if one is a picture book) by the end of the month.

Even though the timing was terrible, I’m really enjoying my new job with the Autism Center of Tulsa. It’s really busy at the moment with launching the new website and the big autism walk coming up. I do have to learn how to balance my schedule again. I feel like there are so many possibilities coming around the corner, I just have to stay focused on the goals. That’s what you lovely people are here to help me do, stay focused! Let’s have a great month in March!

writemotivation_header1If you read my last post you’ll know I’ve been slowly recovering from the flu. I have literally been sick this entire month. I am sick to death of being sick. I’ve coughed so much that I’ve damaged my vocal chords and I have no voice to speak of. I’m sure it’s temporary, but it makes it very inconvenient when I’m trying to rant in traffic at the chaotic drivers only to have my ire come out like a squeaky toy mouse. Kind of takes the punch out of my road rage. Probably for the best.

As you all may know, life doesn’t slow down for illnesses, and some very interesting things have happened to me during my quarantine. I was offered a job out of the blue and I received a full manuscript request from an agent.

The job is mostly part-time for the Autism Center of Tulsa, which is a fantastic organization run by two great women I’ve known for a long time. The work will be helping out with their website and later on maybe branching out with some other social media work. So far, it’s been really fun, but time consuming, especially trying to cram work time in while running a fever and hacking my brains out. Thankfully, they are really flexible and very understanding.

The manuscript request is going to effect my initial goals this month, as this will now be my first priority. Since I am no longer hopped up on cough medicine, I can focus on the agent’s suggested edits. I want to get a thoroughly polished draft out to her as soon as possible.

Here were my #writemotivation goals for February before life intervened:

  1. Plot out new story arc for Amazing New YA project (PV), flesh out characters, and then start writing out first draft. Stretch Goal: Make past the halfway mark or 40,000K words, whichever comes first. This will have to wait until after I make revisions to my YA manuscript for the agent. I may get to this before the end of the month, but it may have to wait for March.
  2. Prepare conference critique submissions and send off. Done! Luckily I did eek this out before the deadline last week. Most of the work was done before I fell ill, which really helped.
  3. Submit completed manuscript(s) to five agents a week. I have not sent anything out this month due to my altered mental state and poor physical health. I hope to work on this goal this week.
  4. Read 4 books. Stretch goal: read 7. Sad, sad progress. One book so far this month. Pitiful! I have picked up a new book since I started feeling better. Maybe I’ll get through two books this week.

Can you believe it’s already time to sign up for March? GAH!!!

I hope you’ve made more progress on your goals this month than I have. And as a public service message, don’t be like me; please get your flu shot. Today. Trust me, you don’t want this year’s bug; it is just awful. Take care, my fellow writers, and keep writing!