Wednesday, January 31, 2007


Ok, a month later here is that post I promised. The one about my goals for this year.

First, I 'd like to blog more. I could set a schedule but then I tend to forget what day it is, etc. Right now I'm going for at least 2 times a week with a gold star for 3 or more.

Writing. Well, that's the big one, ain't it? My ultimate goal is to get two books written (finished) finished this year. To that end, I've signed up for the Book Challenge of a local chapter I belong to - TARA. That means I paid $10 for each book that I set a goal to write and at the end of the year I get a raffle ticket for each one I finish and the winner of the drawing gets half the pot. Or something like that. But the best part is that this puts me on a loop with other people in the Challenge (great people!) who will keep me accountable. Throughout the whole year!

It's so easy for time to pass and to just say "I'll write about that tomorrow." But when you have to check in every Tuesday and you're as competitive as I am, then it's not as easy for time to just float by. For example, I've said I'll write 6k and send my last 20k off to be critted this week. While I haven't written anything, I did send off what I have! So I'm part way there!

Do I have smaller, more concrete milestones to hit my 2 book goal? I wish I did. Originally it was to write for an hour a day. And for those days that I just couldn't write, to at least sit down with the WIP for 10 minutes. So far, not so good. The best that I can say is that I'm getting there. I don't watch nearly as much TV as I used to (in fact, none for the past two nights) and instead The Boy and I camp out in the living room in front of the fire with our computers on ready to write. So at the very least we're creating the habits. I can say that I think about my book every day. All the time. To the point that I get itchy and antsy.

Of course I'd love to have the goal of getting an agent and selling. I mean, that is the ultimate goal. But it is outside of my control. What I can and will do is write and finish work, continue to use my awesome critique people, really incorporate their thoughts, really edit my work, and aggresively send it out. I'm not at the query stage yet or close to it, so those types of thoughts get pushed back for a while. Cause right now, it's all about finishing the current WIP (originally I wanted to do it by Valentine's Day but now I'm not so sure how long it will end up being...).

Another goal of mine is to get more involved in the community. The only problem I've had with that so far is that there's just so much out there - almost too much! I've been watching my loops roll over and over again (I've always felt they're cyclical) and there are so many people out there so much better versed than I to give the requested advice that I just end up being too shy to chime in. That's why I'm going to start small: post on the blogs I read, really contribute to the book challenge group, work my way. My ultimate goal is to have lots of fun friends to have a margarita with at Nationals in July :)

I entered DB&D in a contest. My first ever non GH contest entry! I kinda did it on a lark, especially since I'm not really working on that right now. But it was a goal of mine to submit to a few contests. I can't really submit the current WIP cause it would never win. Trust me. Not your average romance.

Read. I'm gonna go with the goal of 52 books in a year. So far I've been a bit behind, but I got a lotta travel ahead of me. I also have a goal of reading RWR as it comes - all of it :)

As for the other areas of my life... I'd like to have a better attitude towards my day job. After all, it does keep me in the style to which I am accustomed. I want to smile more. In fact, I read someone who said that in 2007 they wanted to bring more beauty to their life: clean house, clean mind, etc etc. I want to be a bit more of an adult (I think it might be time) and keep the house a bit neater, go to the grocery store more than once a month. Those types of things. I also have this big Thin by Thirty plan (which is more of a fit by thirty plan but that doesn't have the same type of ring to it). That means I want to be in better health - back the way I was when I entered law school. I want to be able to run with the dog and know that nothing in my health would keep me from what I want to do! Of course, I say that right now prone on the couch because my back ain't working so good these days (doctor appt. tomorrow - I'm scared!).

So, yeah, I think those are my goals. This time next year, if I am not a contracted author, then I will be starting on my third book having exhausted every possibility on the two I'm going to write this year. My two big focuses: health and writing (The Boy always trumps all, of course :)

I guess we'll just have to check back in a year to see how I did! Wish me luck! And feel free to kick me in the pants if I'm not going after those goals!

Sunday, January 28, 2007

So this is what it feels like to reach a goal?

As the title says, so this is what it feels like to reach a goal? Man, I should set goals more often :) Or rather, I should go after goals more often. I guess I'm so used to having things hanging over my head that I'm not used to completing a task.

So, yes, I made my goal. I wrote 2.2k yesterday (which tends to be my daily average). I could have written more - probably should have. I didn't really finish the scene I wanted to finish, instead a new scene popped up that I think fits great. I love it when that happens and that's the way this WIP has been all along. In the beginning I just wrote and every day the story unfolded in ways that astounded me. In the middle I tried to plot and plan but eventually I realized that - at least with this one - I work best with a phrase in mind.

I know that sounds strange, but I'll hear a character say something in my head and then I'll write until it is time for that character to say that thing. Then I'll hear something else. Very odd, but so far it tends to work when I stop stressing about where everything is going.

Today I read through my progress to date and fixed the 20k going out to be critiqued (adding about 700 more words here and there). There were some scenes that needed moving around and that was tough and took lots and lots of time but I think I got it to work. Technically I could send it out tonight but I'm travelling tomorrow so I might take a hard copy on the plane with me for another read through. I tend to write pretty rough and there's no need to show too much of my knickers to my critiquer :)

Plus, all along I've been reading the day's writing to The Boy and we got off track at some point and he hasn't even read the last 20k. I might want his stamp of approval before sending it off.

Anyway, I'm happy because I feel like I had a solid weekend. And I did what I wanted to do and what I said I'd do. And I like where the book sits now.

Hope everyone else fared just as well!

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Weekend goals

Ok, you heard it here first... I'm going to post my goals for the weekend so I have some sort of accountability. Here goes: my plan is to finish writing the scene I've been working on (sounds lame, I know, but I figure the scene (or combo of scenes) will be anywhere from 2-5k. Then I want to edit what I've written since the last critique (about 20k) into some semblance of readability and send the new stuff out to be critiqued.

Sounds totally doable. I'll check in on Sun and we'll see how I did!

Hope everyone has great and productive weekends!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Money, Money, Money

I know I've promised to write about goals and resolutions and such. But you'll notice that the title of this blog has "procrastination" (close enough) in it. This should be a clue that it may actually be a while before I get around to posting about resolutions.

Plus, posting them might make them real. And I might have to *shudder* follow through on them.

I was reading a blog written by someone who just very recently sold her first book (two book deal - w00t!). In the post she said that already someone had asked her much she'd sold them for (actually, the person asked what she got to which she replied that she earned every penny).

Anyways, like most authors when asked about money, she got a little upset at the question. Thought it was rude. Which is very certainly the way that many, if not most, people feel about questions of salary, money, etc. It is not socially acceptable to ask what someone makes.

I find this so interesting because in my day job (lawyer) we almost all know how much each other earns. Perhaps not at the partner level, but name a firm (preferably NALP recognized), a city, and an associate level and I'll tell you exactly what they make. With some firms I can even tell you what their bonus will be and how it is calculated. Of course, some firms are more cloak and dagger (Jones Day pays what they think you're worth, not on a salary tier) but all in all, most firms only exercise discretion over the bonus amounts. So you know at base what someone is getting. And most of the firms in a given city will be paying the same base amount.

So I guess I don't feel quite as violated when someone asks about the money - anyone can find out what I make with a few mouse clicks. Maybe I will care more when I sell (notice the positive attitude there). And perhaps the PW scale (nice, very nice, etc) is akin to the NALP salary charts for lawyers. Just gives you a range and an idea.

Of course, for lawyers I think the charts give you that extra incentive to get the job. I mean, how many attys would there be in the world if there was no money in it? On the other hand, I think the PW scale works in the opposite way: to bring reality to all those out there who think that all the easy money is in books.*


* yes, very recently I had someone at work say this. She'll have that big money book deal worked out as soon as she gets an agent. She says she'll pick which agent after they sign the non-disclosure agreements so she can send the proposal (because it is so high concept). She won't even tell me what the concept is. I thought it was rare and laughable to ask an agent to sign a non-disclosure agreement... am I wrong?

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Torturing characters

As y'all know, I find such inspiration reading other writer's blogs. I love it. Especially when I'm knee deep in my day job and just want a smidgen of the writing world. I feel that it keeps me on my game, keeps me focused and reminded. Plus, it's good old entertainment and learning.

To that end, here's what I've been thinking about recently. First, agent Kristin Nelson had a very good entry recently about common pitfalls in writing. It's been interesting to see this post reverberate around the net as various writers comment on which lessons are the hardest/most important/most interesting.

A few of her comments are very much in the "oh yeah, I've heard that before" but still always bear repeating. I really should start a file of all of these comments. They're always so "duh" in the moment and yet so hard to keep all in the head at once.

What really stuck out to me is the necessity to drive the story forward. Why have characters sitting around talking when there can be action. I remember Ally Carter talking about this, how she specifically changed a scene so that there was more action but the information from the dialogue still got across to the reader. Great tip to remember: make those scenes pull double or triple duty.

Another writing credo I have been pondering is the need to torture your characters. I remember Diana talking about this as she was rounding towards the climax in writing Secret Society Girl. She talked about giving her character all these great things and then yanking them away.* Other writers talk of daydreaming of the worst thing they can do to their characters. Some writers even say that they love their characters too much to really give them deep conflict - that it's a struggle for them to really hurt the character so that she can grow by the end of the book.

So I've been doing a lot of thinking recently about what I can take away from my character. About what she holds dear. And of course, then I have to figure out a way to take said thing away from her in a very dramatic and tension filled way. Gotta keep up the tension!

How do the rest of you deal with these issues? Do you already know how you'll torture your characters when you start the book? Is that something you think about when meeting your character or plotting out the action? Also, how do you make sure your scenes are carrying their weight?

As I said, lots to ponder :) I love thinking about writing!

* I totally have this post bookmarked because it's a great post about the 4 act structure. very much worth reading and re-reading!!

Monday, January 15, 2007

Happy Birthday to Me!! (updated)

Yay! Happy Birthday me!! While this would be a great time for some reflection, it appears to be an ever better time to clean the house :) Last year, The Boy cleaned our place for my birthday - top to bottom, throwing away junk and old mail and just all that stuff that needed to be thrown away. It was such a suprise and a great treat. This year, I thought I would treat myself! Plus, I'd like to surprise The Boy with a sparkling house for when he returns from Seatlle.

So I'll try to post reflections later. My mom and sister are coming up to take me to dinner so there's a chance such blogging may be postponed.

But I thought I'd leave you with something pretty to reflect on. This was taken at sunset from the porch where we ate all our meals in Curacao. We went for our bar trip and to this day I have somet of the best memories from there!

Update: to keep cleaning, ahem, fun I thought I would give updates. I just retrieved 21 books and three RWRs from my side of the bed. Hmmm....

Saturday, January 13, 2007

random phone calls

Totally not a writing related post...

But I just got a call from the police department. It's not the first call I've gotten from them and I'm sure not the last. When I pick up, an automatic voice tells me to press any key to get an important message. The first time I did this it was an auto police message telling me there was a marathon being run near my neighborhood and to expect traffic delays and to please find alternative routes.

Very good to know! Can't remember the second message. But this one tonight was a missing persons report. An 80 year old mas has gone missing, wandered away and they put out an auto alert to let us in the neighborhood know to be on the lookout. Gave us a description and everything.

Now I know a lot of people hate to get automated messages, but I thought this was awesome. It made me feel safe and secure. Like if something happened to me there would be a phone call going to everyone in my neighborhood to help. It makes me feel like I'm part of a small community rather than a large city.

I definately think those calls are totally worth it. Really cool. And I'll be on the lookout for that poor 80 year old man.

Now, back to writing. The Boy is out of town (even though it's my birthday season!!) and I must take advantage of it!!

Monday, January 08, 2007

Tally me bananas...

I'm always late so it should surprise no one that I'm late getting around to blogging on my reflections of last year. I know I've promised an entry on resolutions and I plan on doing so. But first I wanted to look back before looking forward.

About a year ago The Boy and I came up with the Ten Year Plan. It's very simple: in ten years we wanted to be able to support ourselves with our writing. That would now be nine years away.

To accomplish this goal on my part I joined RWA again (I was a very active member for a year after graduating from college - writing and submitting 2 single title romances). I joined some chapters. I got back on the boards and tapped back into the writing community to figure out where everyone was, get the good info.

I think writing is like exercise - the more you do it, the more you want to do it. Coming up with ideas is the same way. When you're using your mind to conjure stories, they come flying at you from everywhere, but it takes time. So I spent time thinking about what I wanted to write. I started a YA vampire book (got 6,977 words in which is shocking since I only remembered scratching the surface). Then I started a romcom and got 12,738 words in. I was adrift - 2,545 on a memoir even!

I was happy that I'd started writing, but I desperately needed focus.

Then on April 6, 2006 everything changed. That evening I was wandering around, trying to figure out the Big Concept, the Plot, that Storyline that would get me published. I thought about what had sold recently, what was hot, and what only I could bring to the table. I came up with many ideas, one of them was Dead Bodies and Debutantes. I mentioned it to The Boy and he gave the go ahead (he was working very hard on getting me to focus, the poor guy!). Coincidentally, that night I won a contest on Agent Kristin Nelson's blog that earned me a free partial read.

Problem was: I had no partial. She agreed to give me up to a year to submit so I got to work. Then I participated in a pitch slam with Kristin Nelson in June and she specifically requested the partial to Dead Bodies and Debutantes. Then I went to RWA Nationals in Atlanta.

Me being me I took a loong time, got it where I wanted it, and got a form rejection. In the mean time I worked to finish Dead Bodies, started a YA series for NaNo and then halted everything to start on the New New Project (that I still don't have a title for).

And that's where I am. One year after the start of The Ten Year Plan. It may not seem like much, but I feel like I've come a very very long way. First of all, writing now permeates my life. I have writing friends, and am now part of a community of writers. I may have only submitted my partial to one agent, but I learned that I don't want to submit again until the work is completely finished. I learned that I need to do things in order.

I decided to tally up the number of words I've written this year in pursuit of my goals. Without calculating Dead Bodies, I've written 82,446 words. I'm estimating that Dead Bodies is worth about 89,255 because I used the same first few chapters but then started writing it over again.

So that brings my total words written in 2006 to around 171,701.

That's a damn good start, if you ask me. A good, solid first year. Next time I'll talk about what I want for this next year. Here's a hint: it includes focusing and finishing!

Thursday, January 04, 2007


Ok, me=bad blogger of late. I have excuses. Lots of them. Good ones too. But if I was going to take the time to type up my excuses I could instead write a real post so I'm not going to bother tonight. I just wanted to pop by, say that I'm here, apologize for my absesnse and promise that soon I will be posting more.

Lots of writers out there have posted their resolutions. No time now to go get links for you, I'll try to grab those later. But I've loved reading them all. Soon I will post my own.

The good news is that I'm writing. 1.6k tonight. Just under 9k since I sent it out for a quick crit at 20k (for those of you good with math that means that I'm just under 30k so far). Originally this was going to be YA so I was aiming for 60k (actually 50, but we all know I'm too verbose for that). Some folks think it may not be YA. So that means I need more words. But rather than stress I've just decided to write the story and see how far it takes me. After all, that's the way this project has been all along!

Happy New Year everyone!