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Wednesday's Word Count

Happy New Year's (eve day) everyone! I'm not sure anyone is doing much writing at the moment, but I thought I'd throw this up just in case.

Prior Goal:
Outline / have baby.

Achieved: Zilch.

Goal for new week:

Excuses / comments:
I'm officially "overdue" now. I went overdue with my first as well, so I guess I should have expected this. There isn't any writing or outlining getting done over here. I'm just waiting and pouting and waiting. I was really hoping he'd come before the end of the year, but it looks like he wants to be a 2009 baby!

Have a safe, fun New Year's tonight! I hope everyone is gearing up to tackle their new 2009 goals! I love when a new year starts - it feels so refreshing to me!


2009 New Year's Resolutions / Goals

This is coming a tad later than I had planned (yup, I'm still here and large *grumble*) but here it is - my 2009 New Year's goal post!

Like I mentioned before, I'm not entirely sure where my writing will fall in the scheme of life once the new baby arrives, but I'm hoping I can get back into a routine within a couple months and be able to meet these goals. And now, without further ado... my public declaration of goals for 2009.
  • Write new outlined book by May or June.
  • Edit / Revise / Beta-read by September (hopefully.)
  • Start querying in September (if manuscript is really ready.)
  • NaNoWriMo 2009 through November
  • Continue querying through the end of the year (unless I magically get an agent sooner.)
  • Continue working on NaNo manuscript if I'm happy with it.
  • Buy and read at least two or three books a month (shouldn't be a problem *grin*)
  • Continue to learn about writing / publishing.
  • Continue blogging regularly.
  • Start doing more book reviews on my blog.
  • Post either a teaser here or something for critique at AW every few months (at least.)
  • Focus on overcoming weaknesses and issues found in 2008.
  • Review this list every month.
I'm not sure how feasible or reasonable the time-frames are for my new manuscript, but I wanted a loose guideline. So, time-frames are subject to change (earlier or later) but my main hope is to get to the querying stage this year, whether that means polishing something I've already written or getting to that point with my new project.

I have high hopes for 09 and hope my Blogger / writer friends will stick through it with me. And speaking of, what are your goals for 2009? Feel free to post them in the comments, especially those of you that keep up with our weekly Wednesday goals!

If I go MIA on the blog front before then (please baby, please) have a safe and Happy New Year's!

Merry Christmas and Reflections on 2008

I hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas yesterday! I ate waaay too much but had a wonderful, relaxing day.

Before I disappear into the land of baby bliss (I'm still hoping he'll show before the first,) I wanted to reflect on the waning year.

So... 2008, let's see.

2008 was a year of very few goals and accomplishments for me. My only writing goals, really, were to keep learning, improving, and to finish at least one manuscript. It's debatable whether or not I truly accomplished these things, but I'm going to say I did - I just don't feel extremely good about them.

But, I did accomplish the following:

I became more interested / determined in becoming a published author.
I made some awesome new writing / blogger friends. *Waves*
I became a somewhat regular blogger.
I kept writing throughout the year, despite an awful spell of "writer's block."
I experimented with writing different genres.
I learned a ton about the publishing business.
I started reading YA, which I now love.

I'm cautiously optimistic for 2009. It's hard to say what I'll be able to manage with the new addition mixing things up, but I've got some New Year's resolutions and goals brewing in the brain for when things start to settle down. Providing I haven't had the baby, I'll be making my New Year's goal post some time this weekend.

Have a beautiful Holiday week if you don't hear from me!

Wednesday's Word Count

Yes, I'm still alive. On bed rest for high blood pressure, sick, and still pregnant... but alive, barely I think. Heh.

Prior Goal:

Achieved: Very little.

Goal for new week:
Work on the outline if I'm feeling up to it and have a baby.

Excuses / comments:
I've been having a rough week. I was put on bed rest because my blood pressure keeps coming up high at my appointments and then I caught a head cold. Not fun. So... I came up with a few new ideas for my novel, which I put down on my outline, but that's about it. I've mainly been trying to rest, which isn't always easy with a two year old. Hopefully the baby will wait until after Christmas to make his arrival now but anytime after that is fair game as far as I'm concerned. I'm so tired.

I wish everyone who celebrates a wonderful, fun-filled, beautiful Christmas tomorrow!

Merry Christmas Eve Day! Please continue to post your Wednesday goals if you'd like!

Wednesday's Word Count

Happy Wednesday! Everyone getting ready for Christmas? Nine days left. Are the holiday's interfering with your writing?

Prior Goal:
Finish outlining / character profiles.

Achieved: More / revised outlining and a couple new characters.

Goal for new week:
Keep at it - maybe finish?

Excuses / comments:
I'm definitely not finished, getting closer though. I had to revise quite a bit of my outline this week when some things took a different direction. I also have quite a few more plot details to figure out before I'll feel comfortable wading in. Characters are coming to me slowly, too. I'm trying to make each one unique and memorable in some way (if they matter) but it's not easy - that's for sure. I really don't want cardboard characters though!

So, how are the rest of you doing? Anyone tackling a healthy-sized goal this last week before Christmas? Hope you're all doing well!

By the way, if I go MIA it's probably (hopefully) because I've had my baby. So far he seems intent to stick it out to his due date though. You just never know when they'll come in these last couple weeks. I'm really hoping he doesn't go overdue... but he's only going to come when he's good and ready.


Books, Bards, and Babies

Just a quick update since I haven't blogged in a few days.

I started reading "The Emerald Tablet" by PJ Hoover. My first thoughts? Fun, fun, fun! I love the world and characters so far.

I received my edition of "The Tales of Beedle the Bard" FINALLY! Yeesh. I should have just bought it at a local store on its release day. I didn't realize shipping would take so long. The Other came home yesterday to find me snuggling it on the couch and admiring its cover. I haven't let myself start reading it yet though. I've decided to save it for a day I'm feeling especially down and tired, which probably means tomorrow since I'm getting to be SO done with being pregnant.

The humongous full moon we just had? Yea, I had my hopes... but no gravitational-pull water breakage happening over here. Guess it's just a wives tale after all. *Pout*

My outline? Going slooooow. Now that I'm into the nitty gritty of the plot I'm spending a lot more time on trying to figure out little details. I have an impressive list of questions going about my world, plot, and characters. Do you outliners really take the time to answer ALL of these questions before writing? It seems like it would be the best thing to do, seeing as I could then incorporate said knowledge into the novel as I go, but it just seems soo daunting.

I did pull out my copy of "Plot and Structure: (Techniques and Exercises for Crafting a Plot That Grips Readers From Start To Finish)" by James Scott Bell. I forgot how much I LOVE and value this book. The chapter on structure really helped me figure out my "second doorway of no return." I highly, highly recommend this book as well as "The First Five Pages" by Noah Lukeman, which I always have floating around the house to reference at any moment.

That's it for me today. I'm looking forward to getting out and doing some Christmas shopping. I just have one person left to buy for. Yay! And who knows, maybe the moon still has something in store for me.

Hey, an uncomfortable pregnant woman can wish, right?

Wednesday's Word Count

Wednesday again. I hope everyone had a great week!

Prior Goal:
Three to five pages of outlining.

Achieved: Seven pages of outlining.

Goal for new week:
Finish outlining and hash out more character profiles?

Excuses / comments:
I didn't do too bad with the outlining, surprisingly. It's more like five or six pages, really, since the first page is an index and a couple other pages aren't completely full. In any case, I definitely met my goal. I'm hoping to finish within the next week but I'm sort of stuck at the moment - having some issues with my plot. Hopefully I can push through and figure those out.

I'm definitely seeing the benefit of outlining though. Seeing how I've changed key elements of the story about three times already. That would have been pages and pages of writing down the drain if I had just jumped in to write. Maybe this really will benefit me after all!

How did everyone else do? I know we had some healthy goals of 5,000 words - I hope you met them! Oh, and how is the querying going, Angela? Any bites?

Keep up the great work and goals everyone!

A Bit About Me and Christmas

Grabbed this off of Shelli's blog, so I could play too.

Who Are You? Christmas Edition:

Welcome to the Christmas edition of "getting to know your blogger friends". Please feel free to change up the questions if you follow a different religion and/or set of traditions.

  1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? Both.
  2. Real tree or Artificial tree? Real!
  3. When do you put up the tree? Usually the second weekend. It was the first this time.
  4. When do you take the tree down? The week after New Year's.
  5. Eggnog or Hot Cocoa? Hot Cocoa.
  6. Turkey or Ham? Ham.
  7. Grinch or Charlie Brown? Grinch - the classic cartoon for me.
  8. Favorite gift received as a child? Not sure. I think my play kitchen was most memorable.
  9. Christmas cards? Yes, when I actually get on the ball and do it.
  10. Favorite Christmas Movie? The Grinch, It's a Wonderful Life, or Love Actually. Not sure!
  11. Pumpkin or Pecan Pie? Pumpkin.
  12. White lights or colored lights? We have white on the outside but I love a colorful house too.
  13. Favorite tradition? Getting and decorating the tree.
  14. Favorite Christmas song? Carol of the Bells.
  15. Travel at Christmas or stay home? Prefer to stay home but we usually travel.
  16. Most annoying thing about this time of the year? Materialism and greed.
  17. Favorite ornament theme or color? I love retro looking ornaments.
  18. Eat on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day? Technically both but the big meal is a Christmas one.
  19. Spend it with your family or Inlaws? We try to make time for both. It's a pain but we love them.
  20. What is Christmas about to you? Family, tradition, making memories, and being thankful for the blessing of another year.
Please feel free to put this on your own blog and let me know if you have!

P.S. Tomorrow is Wednesday's Words - are you working on your goals everyone?

First Paragraph Contest

In case you've missed this bit of fun, Nathan Bransford is having a "First Paragraph Challenge" on his blog. The deadline to post a paragraph is this Thursday at 4 pm, Pacific time.

I haven't decided if I'm going to play yet, but I just might.

Fellow writers, I'd love to know if you've entered so I can read your paragraphs!

Happy Dance!

My pre-ordered copy of "The Tales of Beedle the Bard" shipped today.

I'm SO excited.

Wednesday's Word Count

Oh my! I'm so sorry this is a day late. My week got a bit mixed up and yesterday went down like a normal Tuesday would for me, so this post totally slipped my mind.

Prior Goal: 6,000 words.

Achieved: 6,775 (11/26 - 12/02)

Goal for new week:
Three to five pages of outlining.

Excuses / comments:
I completed NaNo and my weekly writing goal, so I'm obviously quite pleased with the last week. This week I've set myself three to five pages of outlining. That may seem like a puny goal to some of you seasoned outliners, but it's likely to be quite a feat for me. I'm going to give this a real attempt though and NOT write until I've got a decent outline underway. I'm thinking if I don't let myself start the story than I'll have the incentive to keep working on the outline. Wish me luck!

Now, your turn! Post your goals for the week in the comments. Let's try to keep each other accountable.

Oh! And start thinking about your New Year's resolutions and year-goals for 09. I'll be doing a special New Years goal post closer to the end of the month.

Finding My Niche

I've been thinking about my writing in terms of where it started, how far it has come, and where I want to go with it (working on that career plan of mine.) It occurred to me that I've tried my hand at adult fantasy, young adult fantasy, middle grade fantasy, historical romance, literary fiction, mainstream, and poetry. I've heard this is a great way to discover your writing voice and what you enjoy writing the most, but for me it's been more about finding where I belong.

Now, I'm fairly certain I'll always write fantasy, but I haven't discovered where my voice fits best within the genre. I think I enjoy writing MG more than anything but I prefer to read YA and/or adult fantasy novels. So I'm just not sure. I tend to think you should write what you like to read, at least, there are many benefits of doing so, so I'm hesitant to delve into this MG novel I'm trying to outline.

As I pondered this, I began to wonder if a lot of other writers try their hand at various genres, whether to find their voice and/or genre, or if they just immediately "know" where they belong based on what they read or what they first started writing.

And now I'm curious, why do you write what you do? Have you tried other genres? Are you certain you are writing where you "belong?" Please humor me and my constant posing of questions.

: p

Outline an Outline For Me: Outlining Struggles

Now that NaNo is over and I'm starting something new (yet again), I'm faced with my old outlining struggle.

How do I outline?
What's a good method and what will work for me?
How do I keep my focus when I just want to delve in and write?
How do I know where I want my story to go?
Is this going to ruin the story for me?
Will my characters still be able to lead me if I’ve plotted their path?

My questions in the realm of outlining go on and on. I contribute this to the fact that I've always been a "pants" writer; as in, I write by the seat of my pants. Or so the saying goes. I feel that I need to learn to outline to push myself further as a novelist (as opposed to just being a writer) but every time I give it a go I end up distracted, frustrated, and/or disheartened. Outlines ruin my euphoric new-novel high and subsequently scare me away.

So what’s the answer to my problem? Well, I think my options are as follows: Learn to finish novels without an outline, use my first draft as my outline, or find a method that doesn’t bog me down and ruin the story for me.

I’ve tried various “methods” and have tackled the advice of others with some success, but I’ve never succeeded in making a complete outline. They always fail me (or is it that I fail them?) Most recently I tried the Snowflake Method, as you may or may not remember, for my NaNo novel and the one previous to it. It’s not bad, tedious maybe, but I don’t feel like it’s working for me. Both of the stories I used this method for have larger holes in them than anything I’ve ever written pants-style. Of course, that might have a lot to do with me not completing the steps of the method more than the method itself. So…I guess it’s back to research and trial and error while I try to figure this out.

Tell me though, if you please. What is your opinion on outlines? Are they necessary? Did you struggle to become an outliner? Is there a method to your outlining madness? Do you have a method you’d like to share? An outlining success story? Advice?

Anything – I’ll take it!