Posts Tagged ‘writing goals’

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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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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!

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My #writemotivation posting has been a little delayed this week due to a sudden outbreak of migraines slamming into my brain. Life’s way of telling me to slow down and de-stress: medicate, rest, maybe unwind with a good book in front of the fire while my family waits on me hand and foot. (I may have let it all go to my head a bit on the last day.)

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Anyway, I guess they can tell I’m feeling better and I can longer feel my hair growing. Mostly because I finally bathed…without making them bathe me.

So last week was very productive and serendipitous on top of that. I may share some news shortly, but not just yet.

Let’s get on to those #writemotivation goals:

  1. Move MG novel into Scrivener and plot out all revisions still needed. Bonus points for finishing it and sending it off.  I met with my critique group last week and they were such a great help. They were able to flag some passive language remnants from old drafts so long ago still hanging around that needed to be knocked out for good. My eyes kept glazing right over these sections, not even seeing the problems. If I haven’t said it before (until you’re all sick of hearing it) I’m saying it now, THANK GOD FOR MY CRITIQUE GROUP! I LOVE YOU GUYS!!! As far as finishing this revision, I only have a couple of chapters left. I should finish by week’s end! Woohoo! 
  2. Make progress on first draft of new YA project.  Done. Loaded in Scrivener and ready to go. This will be next month’s number one goal.
  3. Prep and plan out all blog posts for the next month. Bonus points for sketching out posts for February. Done. Refining February and March posts this week.
  4. Read at least four books. I’m near the end of book three now and I should start book four soon. This one may be a photo finish.

And my major stretch goal, as some of my fellow writers are calling their bonus goals – submit my completed YA to at least five agents. I have started researching agents to submit to for this goal. Only a few days left for this stretch!

How have you done with your writing goals?

Feeling up to joining us for next month? #writemotivation sign ups are going on now at until February 1st. Take the plunge. You’ll be glad you did.

I’m also posting over on the TGNA blog, today. Mostly talking about my Hemingway experience. Feel free to stop by.

writemotivation_header1Just a quick post to update on my goal progress. We’ve had a few family birthdays this week, but other than that, nothing major. Plenty of time to get work done.

Here are my #writemotivation goals for the month:

  1. Move MG novel into Scrivener and plot out all revisions still needed. Bonus points for finishing it and sending it off.  Only have five more chapters to finish, which is pretty exciting. I meet with my critique group this next week – always one of my favorite days of the month. That should help me finish one of my chapters out.
  2. Make progress on first draft of new YA project. I’ve moved this project over into Scrivener and started plotting out the new direction. I’m really excited about this project. This will be my sole focus next month when I’m submitting my other projects.
  3. Prep and plan out all blog posts for the next month. Bonus points for sketching out posts for February. January is pretty locked. Still working on February. I have a guest post to prep this next week. Very exciting.
  4. Read at least four books. Little slower on my reading this week. Still on book two, but making steady progress. Hoping to make it through to book three soon.

And my major stretch goal, as some of my fellow writers are calling their bonus goals – submit my completed YA to at least five agents. I do hope this stretch goal sees some action soon.

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After surviving several arctic blasts, things are beginning to thaw out here in Oklahoma. We’ve gone from a low of a bitter 4° (before considering the dreadful wind chill) to a balmy 55° set for tomorrow (time to break out the sunscreen). There hasn’t been much to do other than bundle up and read, much to my delight. I did manage to get a fair number of things checked off my writerly do-to list. I also found a lovely reading challenge for this month that is so perfect in timing I felt compelled to jump on board. I had been reading my way through a fast-paced Miss Fishergangster novel to review for my blog about the same time I was on Netflix, binge-watching the entire first season of a fantastic Australian series all about a lady detective in the roaring twenties called Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries. The show’s based off the Phryne Fisher books (pronounced FRY-knee) written by Kerry Greenwood. So much fun! It reminded me a bit of my younger days when I used to tear through all the Agatha Christie novels from my hometown library.

Murder, mystery, mayhem!

Just my cup of tea.

jazzageSo what should I see on a fellow writer’s blog a few days ago but an invitation to join the Jazz Age January reading event and celebrate even more of the roaring twenties. Isn’t that just the berries? This event was set up by Leah over at her Books Speak Volumes blog. Feel free to pop on over and check out her suggested reading list and even sign up yourself. I’ll be posting my first book review this weekend with an added bonus of a book giveaway! Woohoo! You don’t want to miss that!

There will be plenty more from the the Jazz Age throughout this month. For now, let’s check on those goals.

My #writemotivation goals for the month are:

  1. Move MG novel into Scrivener and plot out all revisions still needed. Bonus points for finishing it and sending it off. I went through the tutorial twice just to make sure I’d know what I was doing before I got started. I finally imported my baby over and it was painless. I am so in love with Scrivener right now. It’s like having my own (very cheap) assistant who never gets me coffee. 
  2. Make progress on first draft of new YA project. Haven’t started this yet. More likely next week at the earliest.
  3. Prep and plan out all blog posts for the next month. Bonus points for sketching out posts for February. I have planned out most of my posts for January and have begun writing them up. Bare bones sketching for February started, too. I’m getting so organized, it’s scary.
  4. Read at least four books. Thanks to all the snuggly weather, I’m on my second book already. Yay!

And my major stretch goal, as some of my fellow writers are calling their bonus goals – submit my completed YA to at least five agents. We’re not stretching, yet.

Not a bad start to the new year. I hope you’re all doing well with your goals. One day, one word at a time. We can do it!

If you ever have a question or  need cheering or motivation of any kind, remember to join us on the Twitter hashtag, #writemotivation. We’d love to lend our support to our fellow writers.

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The new year is approaching. It’s time to start thinking about those goals. This year, #writemotivation is sparkling new, with its own dedicated website. Feel free to join in the fun and receive amazing support from this great group of people. If you’re anything like me, you need a group like this to keep you honest with your goals and to keep you motivated through the rough patches. Sign up for January ends on January 1st. Hope to see you there!

Here are my goals for January:

  1. Move MG novel into Scrivener and plot out all revisions still needed. Bonus points for finishing it and sending it off.
  2. Make progress on first draft of new YA project.
  3. Prep and plan out all blog posts for the next month. Bonus points for sketching out posts for February.
  4. Read at least four books.

I may add another goal about submitting my completed YA to at least five agents. Why not?

Do you have any goals for the new year? Let’s hear them!

Anyone else having a bit of trouble adjusting to life after NaNo? I find myself a little directionless without the ticking clock of the relentless NaNoWriMo countdown to face each morning. My pace has slowed to a crawl without the timed writing sprints to look forward to. Now that I’m responsible for my own motivation, I’m finding myself to be a less than ideal coach. Hey, there’s snow outside and Christmas decorations to put up and gifts to buy.

Distractions, distractions, distractions!

This much snow meant we were snowbound.

This much snow meant we were snowbound.

Great time to decorate the tree.

Great time to decorate the tree.

Perfect weather for cozying up next to a fire.

Perfect weather for cozying up next to a fire.

Maybe we all deserve a little downtime after the craziness of last month.

Here’s a wrap up of last month’s #writemotivation /NaNo goals:

1. Survive, nay, WIN NaNoWriMo.  I did survive NaNo, and even though I didn’t officially win it, I feel like I made great progress on my new project. I wrote a little over 25K words and have about 100 pages of a new manuscript to work with that I didn’t have at the beginning of the month. ALL WITHOUT EDITING.That in itself is a major accomplishment for me.
2. Attend at least three NaNo Write-Ins and take some dares. Goal made. This is what helped me make the most progress in my opinion. I loved the write-ins and meeting so many new writers. And all the dares worked into my project really well. Even the bonus Dr. Who one. :)
3. Before Nano starts and maybe even into the first week, prep some posts for the month. I did better with this at the beginning of the month than the end. Still, I plan on using this more in the future. One thing this NaNo has really taught me is how to be more disciplined. 
4. Try to look up every once in awhile and acknowledge family’s presence. Goal accomplished more days than not. There were a few where I failed to shower or make dinner, but I did peek out of my writer’s cave every day and spend some time with the most important people in my life. They love me even when I’m stinky and half-crazed from too much caffeine and when I’m ranting like a lunatic because I can’t make my story work out right, so I have to give them credit where its due.

One day I really tried to spend some quality time with my family was on Thanksgiving.

In support of my writing schedule and because he loves to cook (and I do not) my husband took on most of the burden of preparing our family feast. There was a lot of chopping and simmering that i steered clear of. My husband even did some fancy thing with the stuffing, using cornbread and wild rice that needed to soak in buttermilk like twenty-four hours before. I stayed out of the way in my office, working on my NaNo project, happy as could be. It was also in the middle of birthday week for me, which meant I could ask for special favors from my loving family members, smile at them and then scream at the top of my lungs, “Birthday week!” and they would have to do said task for me. (I love birthday week.) We came up with this a few years ago because my birthday always falls around Thanksgiving and we never really get a chance to celebrate it by itself. Now having a special week every year where I get to boss everyone around is the best gift of all. My birthday actually feels like a celebration. So imagine my surprise when on the evening before Thanksgiving, in the middle of all of these amazing preparations, my husband  turns to me and says that everything is ready to go. “All you have to do is cook the turkey.” I stared at him blankly.

“What?” I’m thinking, isn’t that like the main part of the meal? What did he mean by telling me at the last minute that I was responsible for the biggest part of the dinner? He did remember how much I hated cooking.

“No big deal, just toss it in a roasting bag and pop it in the oven.”

I thought about calling birthday week on that one, but my husband had to work. He wouldn’t be around to cook the damned thing. I think he planned this surprise attack beautifully.

“Sure. Okay.”

Besides, I could do it. I’d made a turkey maybe twice before in my life. Like eight years ago. After all, he was just making all this really fancy stuff, so what if I  just tossed a dry hunk of dead bird on the table as my contribution. How bad could I screw it up? I put my head between my knees to keep from hyperventilating.

After having bad dreams of naked, headless turkey carcasses chasing me, I woke in a panic. I couldn’t just throw the bird in the bag after my husband had worked so hard on everything else. I wouldn’t bring down this holiday. I started with some research. I searched the internet for some sage advice. I needed a great turkey recipe to save the day. What I found were a lot of complicated or even weird ideas. One said I’d need to brine my turkey before cooking it – no time for that! One sounded really tasty, but it would take over nine hours and I didn’t have half of the ingredients. Arg! Then I saw several links telling me I could just pop the damned thing in the dishwasher, and it would be done in an hour and a half. Really? I was sorely tempted by this point, although after reading the fine print, I learned I’d have to carve it up, wrap it in plastic, then broil it in the oven to brown it after it was finished cooking in the dishwasher. No real shortcut after all.

In the end, I found this lovely recipe by Gordon Ramsey that was very doable as I had all the ingredients and I could watch the video. Repeatedly. Rewinding every five seconds and taking notes like a crazy person. And it included bacon. Who doesn’t love bacon? I did have to rub down the turkey with a lemon and parsley butter, which was so not my favorite thing, but the smell was divine once it started cooking. It turned out great in record time. The bird was delicious.

Bacon Turkey

I decided that this is the only way to cook bacon from now on; on a turkey, basted in lemon parsley butter for several hours. And my turkey stood up to my husband’s fancified dishes like they were made for each other.

This experience was a little like my NaNo experience as a whole. Some panic, some experimentation, stretching my limits, and learning that I can do more than I thought I could once I pushed myself past my comfort zone. And I ended up with something pretty cool that I made myself.