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2009 Goals - January Review

Okay, this is more for me than anything else, but it brings me a measure more motivation by making it public.

So, here are the goals I made for 2009 and their present status...

Write new outlined book by May or June:

Hard to say if / when I'll achieve this, but I'm working on it. If I can write 3,000 words a week or so, I beleive I'll make it.

Edit / Revise / Beta-read by September:

Working towards.

Start querying in September (if ready):

Working towards.

NaNoWriMo 2009 through November:

Still planning on it.

Continue querying and working on NaNo manuscript if I'm happy with it.

Up in the air until then...

Buy and read at least two or three books a month:

This one has started off bad. I've re-read three books and started one new one but I won't have two *new* books read by tomorrow. I plan on catching up in February.

Continue to learn about writing / publishing:

Check. Ongoing.

Continue blogging regularly:

I think I've been pretty good about this.

Start doing book reviews on blog:

I haven't done one yet but I still plan on it.

Post a teaser or something for critique every few months at least:

I posted a small "teaser," which I've since changed a bit. My first. Woo! Thank you for all the input that was given.

Focus on overcoming weaknesses and issues found in 2008:

The main one is finishing what I start. I'm trying!

Review this list every month:

Done for January!

***

It's only the first month, but I think I'm relatively on target so far.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

I just read this blog post over at Rhonda Stapleton's blog and had to copy it over to here because, well, I'm a pretty big Austen fan and, well...

Holy heck! Have you heard about this?

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This is a book that is coming out April 15th. You can read the blurb on Rhonda's post.

I can't even imagine what the Austen fanatics are going to say. I hope the author is prepared...

As for me, I'm SO reading this.

Wednesday's Word Count

Happy Wednesday! Can you beleive January is almost over already? Yikes!

Prior Goal:
Smooth out plot issues. Write a chapter.

Achieved: Plot issues resolved. Tweaked chapter one.

Goal for new week:
Write a chapter.

Excuses / comments:
I think I have my plot mostly figured out, but I fidgeted with chapter one so much I didn't end up writing a new one. Like with NaNo, I need to turn off my inner editor and just push forward - get it written. Erg. I'm certainly starting off slower than I had planned, but I thought I would have my story all figured out by now too. Ideas keep swimming around my brain and I can't figure out which direction to go!

Your turn! Time to spill your goals and accomplishments for the week.

Word of the Day

Here's a fun word that I rather like. Might even be able to use this one eventually. I've never heard anyone use it in Cali though. I'm curious if it's a common word (phrase?) elsewhere.

Shilly-shally
: "in an irresolute, undecided, or hesitating manner."

Essentially, it means to procrastinate...

If you're a geek like me and interested in word origins, here's what the Etymology Dictionary has to say on it:

"Vacillate," 1703, earlier shill I, shall I (1700), fanciful reduplication of shall I? (cf. wishy-washy, dilly-dally, etc.)."

Wishy-washy and dilly-dally are much more common around here!

So Tell Me: Backstory

If you need to include a certain amount of back story rather early in the story, what, in your opinion, is the best way to go about it?

Dialogue?
Narration?
Flashbacks?
A combination?

Or, does this signal that the story should start elsewhere?

Fabulous Query Examples

In case you've been missing out, agent Jessica Faust at the BookEnds, LLC blog has been posting the query letters that jump-started some of her clients careers. Totally worth checking out, especially if you're presently querying or working on your query letter.

Check it out!

Today's good news? I've come up with a new plot and did a quick outline for it. I think I'll throw a practice query together and see how it holds up!

Word of the Day - Tawse

I used the word tawse in the excerpt I posted on Tuesday. Not one you hear everyday, so Shelli suggested I use it as a Word of the Day. I'm taking her up on that. Before doing so, however, I feel like I should establish that I do not personally support Corporal punishment where children are concerned. It is a part of my character's back story and is significant in only that it pertains to some of the internal conflict he must face later in the story.

Now...

Tawse: "A leather strap slit into strips at the end and used especially for disciplining children."

Per Wikipedia: "A tawse (the plural of Scots taw, a thong of a whip) is an implement for physical punishment, called tawsing. It was used for educational and domestic dicipline, primariliy in Scotland. Scottish schools used the tawse to beat pupils on the palms. In the 1980s a European court judgment led to its use being banned in UK schools in 1998."

Ouch! Can you imagine?

Wednesday's Word Count

Who's up for Wednesday's Words this week? Even if you don't want to post a specific goal, feel free to share what you're currently working on. I love to hear the progress we're making towards our dreams, and the more support we can garner for each other the better!

Prior Goal: Continue outlining. Nail down plot details surrounding villain.

Achieved: A little more outlining, some plot anxiety, and a little bit of writing.

Goal for new week:
Seriously tackle plot issues. Write a chapter?

Excuses / comments:
I've decided to start working again this week (yuck!), so I'm entering another unknown as far as time and priorities go. I'm hoping I can juggle everything and still have plenty of writing time but it will be up in the air for a few weeks (haha - punny). But, I'm optimistic that I can manage, so I'm going to focus on altering my plot and I might even tackle a chapter. I don't think my plot issues will touch the first three chapters, so I beleive I can continue on to chapter two this week while I'm sorting that out.

What are your goals for the week? Do share.

Heather, did you get your chapter (or two) done?

Hooked? Yea or Nay?

Please tell me why this does or does not work for you as an opening paragraph. Feel free to rip apart the writing and/or content, but please do so considerately.

Genre: Upper MG Fantasy.

***

Riley Goodman clenched his jaw a little tighter as his social studies teacher, Ms. Stye, fingered her collection of paddles and canes. A small sigh escaped her lips as she passed her imported tawse and lingered on the large paddle with the holes. Riley was familiar with all the inhabitants of the punishment cabinet.

***

Also, I know I don't have a lot of readers yet (note the optimism) but if anyone ever wants to send me a snippet of writing to post anonymously (or otherwise) for critique, please do so. My e-mail can be found on my profile page. Questions are also welcome.

Have a fab Tuesday! And thanks in advance.

Dresden - Two Weeks

Sorry for double-posting two days in a row. Impatient lately, I guess. But, since today marks my baby boy's second week in the world, I wanted to post one of my pictures of him. Taken yesterday.

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Thanks for looking!

Tag - I'm it?

I was tagged by Lisa Nowak yesterday (thanks Lisa!)

The rules are as follows: link to the person who tagged you; write down six things that make you happy; post the rules; tag six others and let them know you have done it; tell the person who tagged you when your entry is up.

Six things that make me happy... well, this should be easy!

1.) My darling children. I have a two-year-old daughter, Berlin, and a two-week-old son, Dresden. I've never felt so complete as I do with them in my life (and all that usual gushy, parent stuff.) I'll never understand people who don't like or want children but more power to them for recognizing that in themselves, I suppose. They truly are joyful blessings. Some days I struggle just to feel worthy of them.

2.) My fiance, Jesse, who will eventually be my husband if I can stop writing and changing diapers long enough to plan something... Er, where was I? Oh yea, he makes me happy. Very happy. He's my life partner and I couldn't be more excited about our future years together with our precious children. He's also very supportive of my writing, which just adds to his worthiness. : )

3.) Writing. Do I even need to list this one? Writing is an outlet, a hobby, a dream, and so many other things. I'll always be a writer. I love it. I just hope one day I can actually be an author, too.

4.) My camera. I bought a digital SLR camera when my daughter was about five months old. One of the best things I did in 2007, in my opinion. Like writing, I feel like I've found another piece of myself that was always waiting to be discovered. I love taking photos of my children and editing them. Someday I might even get into child photography on the side. I think I'd like that.

5.) Music definitely needs a place on this list. Music touches a place in my soul that nothing else seems to reach. I can always turn to music for whatever I'm feeling / experiencing and find a measure of peace, happiness, and/or comfort with its aide.

6) I'm going to list several other things here because I just don't want to choose between them (could, don't want to.) I think the reasoning will be obvious. Family, books, chocolate, life, love, animals, snuggly blankets, sunshine, french fries, coffee, cocoa, my laptop, wireless internet, heaters, modern toilets, and, well, I should probably just stop now....

And now I shall tag the following six:

Heather Hansen (From the Desk of...Heather)

Jill Wheeler

PJ Hoover (Roots in Myth)

Stephanie J (Musings and Scribbles)

Sheri (Diary of a Children's Book Writer)

Rhonda Stapleton (Just Your Average Crazy Writer)

If you don't already follow these blogs, make sure to take a peak! Now, I'm off to play tag.


The Joy and the Horror of an Outline

I've decided that my plot is too cliche. Seems to be a bad habit of mine. I wrote a back cover copy, which I then adjusted into a query, as a form of exercise. I discovered that, while the story has fabulously original elements, the actual plot fell flat once it was summarized.

I've got that whole "one against, death hanging over the MC, power plot" thing going on. Sounded good while I was outlining, of course. But actually trying to market it to an agent? Nope.

Thus....

The joy: I haven't written 30,000 words before coming to this conclusion.

The horror: This puts my outline in shambles. Sort of.

I realize there are plot patterns and nearly every plot in every book falls into one, but I couldn't figure out how to make mine stand apart in the query. So... it needs tweaking or launching. I'm not sure yet.

Erg. I must be the worst plotter in the world. It feels like it. I spend more time trying to come up with a good plot than anything else and it still ends up sucking.

Your thoughts please. Is there a method to your plotting? And... how do you know when your plot finally sparkles with originality?

Loss of a Book Store

I just received an email that my favorite book store is closing. Next week. It's not an indie book store. We don't have any in my pathetic, deficient town (and yes, I SO wish I could open one.) It's just a small Walden's (owned by Borders) but it's been my go-to store nearly my entire life. Before Border's bought it out, even.

I'm sad - disturbed. Especially since Lindsey Leavitt just posted this week about the closing of an indie store in Las Vegas that she had fallen in love with. How many other book stores are closing across the nation? I find myself having thoughts similar to those Lindsey expressed. Could I have done anything to help? What if I had bought more books? Gone to some of their events? What if I hadn't started ordering all my books from Amazon in the last six months? Why did I do so when I knew the market was shaky and other various box stores were closing and down-sizing left and right?

Convenience.

And now it's too late. This leaves me with one small book store in town (two used.) Sad. I guess I'll put my efforts into keeping our remaining one open.

Friday Five

Okay, going to give this "Friday Five" thing a try. What is a Friday Five anyways? Whatever five random bits of information on current life I think might be interesting or care to share?

Let's go with...

1. After a good month or so of outlining, hearing character conversations in my head, and dreaming up first lines (I love me some first paragraph crafting), I've started writing my new novel. I *think* it will end up being upper MG. Outlining shall continue as I go...

2. Except for doctor appointments and walks around the block, I haven't been out of my house in weeks. I'm ready to suck in my baby flab, brave the world, and run some errands. TODAY. Jesse's birthday is on Monday (read: in need of present STAT) and I want some fabric for a sewing project. Hallelujah. I have serious cabin fever going on over here.

3. I'm making a point of ordering a few new books from my TBR list by tomorrow. If you'd like to weigh in and make a recommendation or two, stop by my Amazon wishlist on the side bar and scroll through my ever-growing list to see all the gems I haven't read yet.

4. After two years of begging and pleading and living in a house with dust bowls for a front and backyard, Jesse is installing SPRINKLERS tomorrow (it kept getting put off for other remodeling projects.) This alone will make 2009 a great year. Sod and landscaping are supposed to follow soon. Thank goodness - my daughter really needs some readily accessible grass to run and play on.

5. I've pretty much re-read THE FIRST FIVE PAGES and PLOT AND STRUCTURE in the last week (random chapters at a time) in conjunction with outlining. It's been really helpful. I just stopped by PJ Hoover's blog and was reminded that I also have SELF-EDITING FOR FICTION WRITERS buried around here somewhere. I think I'll make a point of locating that and perusing its chapters again as well.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Word of The Day

I collect words. I have very few outlets for a lot of them, seeing as I generally either can't use them in my writing or only sparingly; so, I've decided to share them here on days I have nothing to blog about or I'm feeling lazy. Maybe you'll learn a new word. Or maybe you'll find a use for one or more of them.

Today's word: Lugubrious

"1: Mournful ; especially : exaggeratedly or affedtedly mournful.
2: Dismal - a lugubrious landscape."

Those of you with kids may recognize this from the Disney movie Hercules. The character Pain has a line in which he says to Hades: "Coming, your most lugubriousness."

Wednesday's Word Count

Our first Wednesday's Words for 2009!

The holidays are over, my baby is here, I'm working on my outline again, and I'm totally jazzed about my goals for the year. How long will that last, I wonder? January is treating me quite nicely so far. Although, I am behind on my book reading goal; I really need to pick a couple from the ones I have or place an order! Half the month is nearly over!

Prior Goal:
Have baby.

Achieved: A-yup.

Goal for new week:
Continue outlining. Nail down plot details surrounding villain.

Excuses / comments:
I'm getting much more into this outline than I ever have with one before and, surprisingly, I'm enjoying myself. The itch to start writing it is getting really bad though, so as soon as I nail down a few more things I'm going to start chapter one and continue outlining as I go. As I've mentioned before (or at least I think I have) most of my ideas come to me while I'm writing so I think this will be a good process for me. It will allow me the freedom to dance around being a strict outliner, which I'm not sure would work to the best of my creativity. I might even try outlining each subsequent chapter after I've finished the previous one (using my master outline as a guide) - I've never done it that way before.

How is January treating everyone else? Please post your week goals. I'd love some company, even if I'm not setting an exact word count just yet.

Book Give Away at Keri's Blog!

Keri Mikulski, author of SCREWBALL, is having a "Yay for YA January Giveway" on her blog. You have a chance to win three books (one signed!) - all of which sound awesome - just by sharing those famous (or not so famous) individuals who share your birthday with you. Check it out!

Also, make sure you pause to read her fabulous interview with PJ Hoover, author of THE EMERALD TABLET, as well (which I've read, loved, and recommend!)

Thanks Keri!

Blog Topics For a Writer's Blog?

Update: See my more recent post HERE where I expand on blog topics for writers.


I had the most awesome morning today. I lounged in bed for two hours with my baby and worked on my outline on paper. We’re talking sans computer – longhand. Wow. That’s rare for me. Meanwhile, my darling toddler, Berlin, played quietly next to me (also lounging) with a single toy (!!) and enjoyed the apples slices and juice that her father provided. She was such an angel. Talk about a writer-mom’s dream morning. And ya know what? I’m going to try it again tomorrow! : p


( - One week postpartum and I'm back at it - yea! -)


Anywho, I’m trying to come up with regular blog topics / posts to keep me blogging regularly. The focus of this blog is my writing journey, but I’ll definitely have some personal family-focused posts as well.


This is what I have so far…


Wednesday’s Words for our weekly goals

Occasional book reviews (per my 2009 resolutions)

A monthly review of my resolutions / larger goals


Other possibilities based on what I’ve seen others do…


Thankful Thursday

Friday Five

Teasers

Open discussion questions (I suppose I already post questions pretty regularly : p)


I’d like to have an additional writing-related post once a week or so that is either educational or a query of some sort, but that will take some planning and I might not tack that just yet. We'll see. I have a post on character arcs brewing in the brain - so you might see that soon.


Any other ideas or recommendations for me?

Widget Fun

I moved some things around and added this neat Amazon Wish List Widget to my side bar in place of my To Be Read list. I plan on choosing my new reads from this list for my 2009 goal to read two to three books a month (at least, and as finances allow.) Pretty cool! You can also make one for your favorites and recommendations.

My most recent adds? Writer Mama: How to Raise a Writing Career Alongside Your Kids and Get Known Before The Book Deal: Use Your Personal Strengths To Grow An Author Platform by Christina Katz. Shelli recommended / mentioned these on her blog, Market My Words, and I'm pretty excited about them.

Not sure when I'll pick them up but they will definitely be part of my 2009 book consumption.

Thanks Shelli!

One of THOSE Issues...

It's going to take me quite awhile to catch up on everyone's blogs, but I came across this interesting, scary article posted by Editorial Anonymous. It's definitely one of those double-edged issues.

Now, of course we want to protect our children from ANY possible lead exposure, especially with the humongous rise in recalls over the past year for this; however, the generality of the legislation could have horrific ramifications on collectibles and historic jewels. Or at the least, our ability to circulate them. As someone who casually collects antiquarian books (though not generally "children's books,") I'm a bit concerned. Add to that the horrific costs involved in order for publisher, manufacturers, and retailers to comply - it's a disaster.

Besides, what's to keep kids from accessing "adult" books around the house that may or may not have lead? Nothing. Since kids are more likely to have, pick up, and /or be given children's books, however, I suppose it does lower the chance of exposure.

I'm curious for your thoughts.

Introducing...

Dresden Vaughn
Birth date: Monday, 1/05/09
Weight: 7 lbs 5 0z
Length: 20.5 inches

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He finally made his arrival - seven days late! We're home and doing great. Thanks for all the comments and well-wishes everyone!