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Writing Goals

I used to always set writing goals for myself, but lately I've been so up and down that I've pretty much abandoned them. Now, after watching my friend Heather's amusing but informative guest vlog on revisions (something I'm far, far from) featured on Lip Gloss Lit, I've decided to give them another go.

Amidst her great advice on revisions she talked about goals and I was reminded that goals and deadlines are hugely important in writing, especially when we have to be our own taskmasters. I should know this since I'm self-employed and struggle with the exact same problem in my other work - self-motivation.

So... what is my writing goal going to be? Hm.... Normally it would be at least 1000 words a day (which used to be cake) but I'm almost afraid to commit to that right now since my daily word count has been all over the place. On the other hand, it might be exactly what I need and 500 words seems too little.

Okay, I'll commit to 750 words a day and see how it goes for awhile. If I can stick to that then I'll keep challenging myself and up my goal count. I'm thinking about doing a Wednesday Word Count post each week too so I can track my weekly progress. We'll see! I'm hoping to get back up to the 2500+ daily word count I used to keep.

Feel free to add your own writing goals in the comments and we can try to keep each other going!

In other non-writing related news, we found out on Monday that we're expecting a little boy! Now I'll have one of each and I couldn't be more thrilled. This should be the last one for us so I'm trying to soak up my final pregnancy (which isn't always easy) and can't wait to have an infant again (which certainly isn't easy.) I just wish they didn't grow so fast. My daughter is turning two next week!

**Update** I have 1200 words written so far for today! I might write more later but now I have some cleaning to do, yuck.

Realizations on Reality

I’m one of those people that is good or mediocre at a little of everything. I’ve tried a lot of different hobbies hoping to find something I’m immediately genius at. It’s ridiculous, I know, but it’s something I haven’t been able to shake. Maybe it’s the era of instant gratification I’ve grown up in, but I always give up on things before I’ve even had a chance to get really good at them – all because I want to be immediately fabulous at something and find my place (as it were) in the world.

Writing has been my one constant, which is why I hold on to it so tightly. I’ve been writing since I was rather little but it’s always been pretty directionless. Because of this, I don’t think I’ve come very far. The main improvements I see in my writing are things like grammar and sentence structure and, mainly, I have college to thank for that (and they still need improving.) It’s only been this past year that I’ve really set out to learn the art of creating and shaping a novel, but it’s certainly not easy. I feel like there is entirely too much to learn and it’s even harder learning how to spot and implement these gems into my writing.

I was pondering this little annoying tidbit about myself this morning and decided it probably explains my occasional, recurring desire to give up. In reality though, given how long I’ve been writing without really giving up on it, I think it’s essentially “my thing.” It’s just that I need to put the time and effort into learning the craft, to shape my love of writing into something other people find worth their time to read. So what if I’m not naturally genius at it? If it means enough to me, I can succeed despite this unrealistic standard I have for myself, right? I think so, and I think I really needed to come to this realization.

So, now a question for my writer readers: What method of learning caused the highest level of improvement in your writing? What would you suggest I do to improve? I already read and write a lot, so where is the next best place to focus my desire to learn?

Argh...

I haven't posted in a few days because I managed to catch the small cold my daughter had and turn it into a bigger one. At least it seems that way. I'm certainly whining a lot more than she did, haha.

Fortunately, just a day before this came on, my best friend gave me the first five books to the Sweep series by Cate Tiernan to borrow. They're small, around 180-200 pages apiece, but I managed to read all five in less than 24 hours. Crazy, I know. But, I haven't felt up to doing anything else and the small amounts of energy I have been able to muster go straight to my daughter.

I really, really enjoyed them but now I'm wishing I had the rest to plow through. I beleive there are fourteen or fifteen total. Guess I'll be texting my best to see if she owns the rest!

And...But....Yet...

I remember being taught in school that you shouldn't start a sentence with a conjunction in formal writing. I don't know what falls into the category of "formal" writing (business correspondence?) but it seems to me that this rule is either lax in novel writing or it has simply become lax in general.

I'm speaking of, in particular, the conjunctions "and" and "but" which seem to beg me quite often to place them at the forefront of my sentences. I am quite guilty of starting many sentences with one or the other. It's part of my writing style. But, (and here I go!) each time I do there is a portion of my brain that pauses and wonders if I should be limiting myself. Is this something an editor would cringe at or is it truly acceptable in the publishing industry?

So my questions for the day are: Does anyone have educated insight on this question? And, do you, as writers, ever use conjunctions as sentence starters in your own writing? Often? What are your thoughts on this?

The Year of Secret Assignments

Please bear with me while I learn how to write book reviews! Here is my first.

THE YEAR OF SECRET ASSIGNMENTS by Jaclyn Moriarty.

Lifelong friends, Cassie, Lydia, and Emily, are sophomore students at Ashbury High School, rival school to Brookfield High. When their English teacher attempts to dissolve the feud between the schools with a confidential pen pal project, the girls tackle their assignment with varying degrees of interest and reluctant enthusiasm.

Emily and Lydia are surprised to find themselves paired with charming, funny partners, Charlie and Sebastian (Seb), while Cassie struggles to break down the defenses of mean, threatening Matthew who opens their correspondence with a threat. After some hilarious initial correspondence, each girl sets about meeting their pen pal in person. What follows is a series of secret rendezvous, kissing, hurt feelings, and a tragic betrayal where Matthew finally crosses the line.

When Emily and Lydia find out that Matthew has betrayed sweet, vulnerable Cassie, they vow revenge and, with the help of Charlie and Seb, instigate a series of Secret Assignments, spy tactics, lock picking, and other downright hilarious payback tactics.

Told entirely in letters, diary entries, notebook notes, and e-mails, THE YEAR OF SECRET ASSIGNMENTS illustrates a humor-packed story about six unique teenagers dealing with the trials of life. Will they come out ahead? Will Matthew get what he deserves? Does romance ensue? Pick up a copy to find out! You won’t be disappointed. In fact, I guarantee you’ll find yourself laughing out loud and marveling over Jaclyn Moriarty’s fabulous writing.


Casting Call!

It seems to have become a popular pastime for YA writers (and others) to do the following:

A) Cast actors/actresses for their characters

and

B) Create play lists for their novels.

These are fun diversions that even I have dabbled in but I can never find the perfect actor or actress for a character or the perfect song for any given scene, so it's never been an active part of my writing.

However, during a stint of boredom yesterday I started to search for faces that might could work for the two main characters I'm brewing up for my gargoyle fantasy and I'm actually pretty pleased with what I came away with. So, without further ado...

Emily Browning, who is actually a tad old for my character, is the best match I could find for Kara (tentative name) who has a rather unique look. I couldn't find someone with ideal features, naturally, but I think Emily Browning is the closest I can come at the moment.

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And this rather attractive young man, Alex Pettyfer, will be representing the main male role presently named Matthew (tentative.) The funny thing here is that he is actually a little too young. So if that actors could just switch their ages...

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*Sigh* That was fun. A play list is still yet to be seen but I'll be working on one of those, too.

So tell me, do you cast actors/actresses to help you visualize your characters or do you like to leave it all in your mind? If you do, who are your "chosen ones?" And furthermore, do you create play lists? If so, do you spend the time finding the perfect song for your key scenes or do the songs just generally touch on the emotions but aren't perfectly fit for the scene? Feel free to share any personal thoughts on either!

Working Out the Issues

My attitude is severely improved now with much thanks to all the kind, fellow-writers who offered their support these past few weeks. It looks like we all have times where we struggle with our writing and in many ways we all go through similar thoughts, torments, and doldrums.

Much to my surprise, my new novel idea is coming together pretty well. I'm not sure if it takes the cake on the other projects I have waiting around, but I'm not about to let something go that has me excited and writing again. Besides, it has romance, mystery, adventure, teen orphans, my modern rendition of evil scientist, and gargoyles with fabulous personalities. How can I not write that? Just for the fun of it, if nothing more.

So, a big thank you to everyone who has helped me through my awful phase of doubt and best wishes to you all on your own writing careers! I'll be keeping up with everyone via your blogs!

Maybe It's Not Over

I was really in breakup mode with my writing last week, as evidenced by my pathetic give-up post, but perhaps our relationship isn't over after all.

No, no - I still haven't written anything, but apparently I can't stop thinking like a writer. I've been doing a lot of reading to pass the time, and otherwise filling my days with wonderful mommy moments and dreadful cleaning binges, but each time I finish a good book I get that niggling. That fervent desire to write something - to publish - to create characters that leap off the page and bond with their reader. I even got a spark of an idea! But it's just another small idea that needs major developing and nurturing. I don't know if it will ever go anywhere.

I guess I'd place myself in writer's limbo right now. I'll no longer say I should give up (because you're right, I shouldn't) but I still feel like I need to let this fly for awhile and not force myself. We'll see what comes of it.

If anything, I'm at least encouraged that I couldn't shut down my writer instinct, even when I really was feeling like parting ways was for the best.

Breaking Dawn

I think the best, non-spoiler summary of BREAKING DAWN is officially:

OMG!!!!

Talk about intense. Wow! But, yes, it was very good.