Upcoming Agent Spotlight Interviews & Guest Posts

  • Rebecca Williamson Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 7/8/2024
  • Sheila Fernley Agent Spotlight Interview, Critique Giveaway, and One-Hour Zoom Call on 7/29/2024
  • Erica McGrath Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 8/12/2024

Agent Spotlight & Agent Spotlight Updates

  • Agent Spotlights & Interviews have been updated through the letter "K" as of 3/28/2024 and many have been reviewed by the agents. Look for more information as I find the time to update more agent spotlights.


Before I start my first regular blog post in a long, long time, I have a bunch of winners to announce from our 2000 follower giveaway, which had 175 entries. Thank you so much for entering and for spreading the word. You guys are so awesome.

Yea! I love giving away books. So here are the winners:

The winner of THE LIGHTENING THIEF is:


The winner of BREAK is:


The winner of ACROSS THE UNIVERSE is:


The winner of ANGELFIRE is:


The winner of DAUGHTER OF SMOKE & BONE is:


And now to the three winners of the second part of the giveaway:




And the winner of MAY B is:


Congrats everyone. E-mail me your addresses so Casey and I can send you your books. STELLA and SSTOKES, I could not find your e-mail so please be sure to e-mail me by the end of Wednesday or I'll have to choose new winners.

Do you set writing goals at the beginning of every year? To be honest, last year was the first year I set myself goals other than to just write. Not having specific goals worked great my first year writing when my daughter was six. Life seemed a bit slower and the excitement of starting to write propelled me forward. I wrote almost everyday and finished a poor first draft of my manuscript in a year.

But as the years have gone on, (Yikes, it’s been nine years) my life has felt more and more like this.

Yep. A stretched rubber band with work, family, and volunteer activities pulling me in a zillion directions that takes time away from writing. I’m sure I’m not alone.

So last year after reading lots of blog posts about setting goals, I decided to set some for myself. And I did write more. I finished another two edits on my manuscript where I cut about 10,000 words. While I hoped I would be querying by now, I realize after a beta read that it needs another quick revision first. And I do have more than one query (after about 40 pages of drafts) that I like completed. I started a new project, though did not get as far as I wanted. But I did more forward.

So I set goals again this year. They’re modest this year. Because I’m feeling that rubber band pulling again. Ever year I try to cut back on the things that take time away from writing. I did cut my volunteer activities this year. Promise.

But I’ve come to realize that at least for the next few years, as much as I try to cut back on these outside things, there is always a BUT THEN and a new time consuming thing that pops up. Now it’s my daughter’s swimming, helping her get through high school and preparing to apply for college.

And then this Fall a big unanticipated change occurred that has the rubber band pulling me in another HUGE direction. The prepaid legal services plan I work for wasn’t refunded and we’re in a 4 year wind down period. I’m not going into all the details because it’s not good to air those things in public.

But it does mean in the next two to three years I have to find a new job. I’m grateful I have so much time. But I haven’t looked for a job in about 25 years. So I didn’t have a clue how to do it. Luckily one of my awesome secretaries gave me some tips on how to search for a job online.

So these next few years I’ll be figuring out where to go next with my legal career which may include a career change, upping my computer skills in preparation, and networking more with possible employers. I already know it’ll take a lot of time.

Because of this all, my writing goals are more modest this year. A few weeks ago as I contemplated this post I was afraid I was going to have to admit that I’m not writing at all again. Because I do go through those times. With working full-time at a demanding job, blogging, and running my daughter around, it’s hard in the best of times to squeeze in writing time. But I’m happy to say I have been writing. Not everyday. But I am making progress on my new manuscript.

So I’m going to keep moving forward even if I feel like it’s at the pace of a turtle.

And I know these things stretching on me—my job and my family obligations—will pass. I will sort out the job situation. In about a year my daughter will be driving herself (Yikes!) and then a few years later going away to college (I’ll be sobbing then!). Someday I will have more time and can move faster in my writing goals.

For now, these writing goals are my lights that help keep me on track in my writing career. And the writing is one of my pleasures keeping me sane in this crazy time where the rubber band is pulling me in a zillion directions.

What about you? Do you set writing goals and do they help you stay on track? And how do you handle those insane times when there isn’t much time to write or, if you're a book review blogger, don't have time to read book and review them as much as you'd like?

Before you answer, here’s what’s coming up the few weeks. Next Monday, I’ll be celebrating my first year blogging with some reflections and a book giveaway I know you’ll love. The following Monday I’m interviewing debut author Kristen Simmons and giving away an ARC of ARTICLE 5.

Hope to see you next Monday!


Miranda Hardy said...

I don't like to set too many goals, but it's important to keep writing so I try to set deadlines. If I make them, great. If not, no big deal. I write more for enjoyment anyway.

Marta Szemik said...

I did set goals this year. They're pretty big so I'm a little nervous but also determined to meets them. I think they keep me on track.

Does life get in the way? All the time. End of November when my daughter was hospitalized I had to publish my novel from the hospital (that was my date). It all turned out well, but December flew, like it didn't exist at all.

S.A. Larsenッ said...

I'm so glad you're writing at least a little. There is nothing wrong with admitting life is getting in the way. Actually, living that life is part of writing. Just live and then, when you have a moment or two, just write. We all have our roads to follow. That's what makes life and writing so cool! Thanks for sharing yourself with us. And yes, I set writing goals. But I also set life goals. Sometimes I meet then, while other times I'm busy living life. lol

Laura Pauling said...

Good luck finding a job! There are always aspects of life that pull us away from writing. That is very normal. It's writing inspite of life and also knowing when we need a break!

Matthew MacNish said...

Congrats to all winners! You people sure lucked out.

Rosalyn said...

I really liked this post--it's a good reminder to me that the important thing isn't necessarily how much you write on a given day, but that you're consistently moving towards goals. And, honestly, much as I love writing, sometimes other things are more important. (Like family. And work.)

storyqueen said...

I almost always over estimate what I can get done and underestimate the time in which it will take to complete...but I'd be lost without my goals!


Nicole Zoltack said...

Congrats to all the winners!

I do set goals. Otherwise, I tend to not get as much done.

SStokes said...

Great post - I often feel like a rubber band as well. I try to set large, attainable goals for the year (like finish my MS) and smaller milestones throughout so I can have little successes along the way to keep me motivated.

Barbara Watson said...

You know, I loved the personal and close up qualities of this post. It's so genuine. The best to you in your job search and balancing that with everything else you do.

I have goals as opposed to setting them. I'm not sure there's a huge difference to most people, but to me it means I know the big picture and the little pieces that get me there...I don't sweat those too much.

Lydia Kang said...

Congrats to the winners!

I hope you do find a job you like and will fill the criteria you need in a position. That sounds incredibly stressful!

I do set writing goals for myself. Short and medium term ones.

Steve MC said...

All the best with your job search - I hope it all works out for you.

Heather said...

Congrats to the winners!

Wow hon, I'm so sorry that you're on the job hunt. My fingers are crossed that you'll land an excellent job that you enjoy. One that maybe gives you time to write. ;)

Casey McCormick said...


It's so nice to see a personal post from you! You should schedule them in more often. I really hope finding a job isn't as challenging as you're anticipating, and I do hope you continue to find time to write. It says a lot that you're finding time despite feeling so stretched.

Carrie Butler said...

Congratulations, winners! :)

Angela Brown said...

This is my first year setting a writing goal of any kind. I've been fairly serious for a few years but I've amped up my drive toward publshness and set some baby step goals. I'm trying for a month by month goal now. I did mostly okay but with this month coming up, I'll also be setting more modest writing goals.

Kristin Lenz said...

Hang in there, Natalie! You're doing all the right things for yourself, and most importantly, you know where you want to go.

LTM said...

oh, man! Good luck to you in the job hunt and in your transition! I write for a living, so for me it's been more making the mental shift to being a "novelist." My goal is to focus my energies in that direction more. Prioritizing, etc.

Here's to all of us. Best to you~ <3

Ghenet Myrthil said...

Good luck with your writing goals this year! The good thing about your writing projects is that they'll be there waiting when you have time, so there's no reason to rush. Right now I'm giving myself bigger writing goals because I have the time. Once my husband and I have kids, I'm sure I'll feel like my time is stretched really thin, so I'm trying to get a lot done now while I can. :)

Joanne R. Fritz said...

Congratulations to all those lucky winners!

And good for you, Natalie, for setting goals and moving forward, even if you feel it's a slow pace. Nothing wrong with being a turtle! Good luck!

Beth said...

Great post, Natalie. I think there are times when our writing has to take a back seat to being a parent. The trick is finding balance (easier said than done).

I'm sorry to hear about the wind-down of your job, but hopefully you'll find something even better.

Anonymous said...

First off...thanks so much on Legend! I am sooo looking forward to reading it.

As for goals. Each year I set them, but have not yet this year. I was going to go with "Just Write", but have so many things on my plate right now I realize I need a list to keep me on track. Hoping to have that done before Feb 1 is upon us!

Kiki Hamilton said...

Natalie! We're living parallel lives!! I understand completely what you're going through - I've got a daughter just starting to drive and look at colleges, a day job, a blog I *try* to post on regularly, a family who expects dinner every night (can you imagine?!) and that middle-aged waistline that demands I exercise just to try to stay where I'm at!! (I'm on the exercise bike as I type this.....)

Alas, I am not a first of the year goal setter. I do set deadlines of when I plan to have WIPs complete but nothing in terms of the publishing world EVER seems to move at the speed I would like so it is what it is. Finding time to squeeze in the writing is a challenge - but keep at it - a little bit every day and you'll be out querying before you know it!! Good luck!

Michael G-G said...

This is a wonderful post, with which most of us can relate. We are stretched in so many directions. I wish you all the best with your job search, and with your writing. I am sure that you're hard work is going to pay off.

Stina said...

I've cut my goals down this years to a more manageable size (since I'm writing novels and not short stories and novellas). It's too easy to let the writing take over and ignore other things in life. For me, that's my photography. I wasn't spending as much time on it as I wanted, and I missed it.

Great post!!!

Jessie Humphries said...

Good luck on the legal career changes...Estate Planning and Probate are fun:). Come to Vegas and we can start our own firm!

Trisha said...

I'm fairly new to setting writing goals myself. And I tend to set a lot of them! Well, last year I did, and this year I'm repeating myself. This year I'm doing it a little differently - I've got a 'weekly task chart' set out where I can mark off each individual creative task as I complete it (there are also health tasks on there, like beach walks). It's working nicely so far.

Sounds like it's a time of upheaval for you, or at least it will be. But they do say that change is good sometimes, right? :)

Linda A. said...

Thanks for your honest post. Many of us can relate to what you're saying. I am thankful for the writing time I find. It brings me great pleasure. Due to job changes, I am not able to write as much as I did, but I know writing is here to stay no matter the circumstances.

Thank you for hanging on and keeping this wonderful blog up and running.
Linda A.

Natalie Aguirre said...

Thanks everyone for your comments and encouragement. You're giving me the courage to post more personal posts more often. And it's good to know that I'm not alone in being stretched. It inspires me to continue on with my writing.

Coleen Patrick said...

I do set goals, ie daily word counts, but I need to make long term ones, otherwise I think I might get stuck.
Good luck with your writing and job hunt!