Monthly Archives: December 2008

It’s New Year’s Eve…

…are your 2009 goals in place?

I’m not talking resolutions, I’m talking GOALS. What do you want to accomplish in 2009? Do you have an action plan in place to act as a road map to accomplishment? If not, today is a great day to put one in place.

First, let’s talk about S.M.A.R.T. goals. You know, the realistic kind. The ones you have control over. Writing, revising, submitting…those are all controllable goals. Being published, getting an agent, being offered a multi-book contract…those are in someone else’s court. They’re great ambitions, but they’re not goals. The S.M.A.R.T. acronym is a great goal test:

  • Specific: Goals need to be specific, not some loose, vague, impossible to quantify statement. “I will write better in 2009” is not a specific goal. “I will write 2 pages a day” qualifies.
  • Measurable: Goals need to be measurable. Again, a concrete goal is far better than an amorphous wish. You need to know whether or not you achieved it! “I will write for 45 minutes a day” is a measurable goal.
  • Achievable: Goals need to be reasonable and achievable. Don’t set yourself up for failure by shooting for the moon. “I will complete the first draft of my 90,000 word novel in 2009” is much more achievable than “I will complete the first draft of my 90,000 word novel in January.” Also, as I mentioned above, make sure your goals are within your control. “I will write the first draft of my novel” is achievable and within your control. “I will secure the services of Dream Agent” is not.
  • Realistic: Goals need to be realistic. Evaluate your time and your lifestyle. Be honest with yourself. Set goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, and realistic for who you are and how you live.
  • Time-Bound: Goals need to have a time frame. Lots of people dream of writing a novel…someday. But without a deadline, a time pressure, there’s no reason to do anything today. Put a date on your goal and then get started on it today. When you reach that date, you’ll know whether or not you accomplished your goal.

Now that you’ve designed your S.M.A.R.T. goals, you need an action plan. I like to use a calendar for this part.

Pull out a 2009 calendar (mine is a Word document…I don’t write with a pen unless forced *LOL*) and think about your work and family commitments. The first thing I did was to go through and cross off major holidays and family events that require my time and attention (birthdays, anniversaries, family reunions, etc.)

Next I looked at my goals, made arbitrary decisions as to anticipated page counts (YA = 180 pages, ST = 375 pages…your mileage may vary) and tried to anticipate how much time would be required for revision and polishing drafts. I haven’t had the luxury of writing full-time since I began to learn my craft, so I’m not sure what my daily output will be, but for planning purposes I chose 5 pages a day, 5 days a week. Then I simply plugged my numbers into my calendar.

I made notes in an empty cell as to how many pages I expect to write each month on each project with running totals in another cell. Leaving time for polishing the first draft, sending it out to my beta readers, and then tweaking it per their comments, I figure I can write one YA and two single titles in 2009!

Now, we all know that nothing in life goes according to plan, but it’s also true that if you don’t know where you’re going, you won’t know when you arrive. So…I’m planning to write three books in 2009. If something wonderful (like an agent and a multi-book contract!) comes along and knocks my plans askew, I’ll adjust. But for now, I have goals and an action plan in place and I’m ready to shine in 2009!

How about you?

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MERRY CHRISTMAS!!

Happy Holidays to you and yours!

sexysanta7

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I’m cheating.

Since no one ever reads my posts at any of my blogs I’m going to cheat and copy.  Nanny nanny boo boo.

This a lesson about writing I learned from the movie Twilight.  This isn’t specific to writing suspense and mysteries or YA or anything else.  This is just something interesting I observed after watching this movie and then listening to the people in the lobby talk.

To be honest, and why not be AJ Chase isn’t really my name (Ha!), I’m just not that into Twilight.  My best friend who, thankfully, is not a teenage girl is obsessed.  She will rip the throat of any person who does not enthuse with her out with her teeth.   She is in her mid thirties.  I personally find Edward sort of interesting in a clinical way and I’d like to hit Bella in the head repeatedly with a hammer.  (Um, sorry.  I do murder people every day, as it were.)  I am not blaming Stephanie Meyers for this.  Maybe she was a really annoying teenager herself, but more likely it was just the character she stumbled upon.  And frankly I admire her and wish that I could rake in that kind of cash.  Boo ya baby.

This Bella hatred is not made better by the movie.  I am getting to the lesson believe me, the Bella hatred plays in.  It isn’t made better because I can not stand Kristen Stewart.  Everything she’s ever done is testament to how she’s the female version of Keanu Reeves.  Not only do her acting skills include such range as “Vacuous” and “Slightly less Vacuous” she’s on a global tour giving interviews and trying to prove to the world that she’s the most irritating person in it.

So it’s with this double combination whammy of a TSTL heroine and a really awful actress that I approach this movie.  I’m reserving judgement about Cedrick.  Whatever his name is.  Robert Something.  I think he did a good job as Cedrick anyway.  The best part of this movie going experience, bar none, was when Edward comes into the cafeteria in sexed up slow mo, trying to be one of the beautiful people.  I couldn’t find an exact picture of the moment but he looks a little like this.

As soon as he comes in the door some teenaged girl starts clapping madly.  I thought this was hilarious and was already laughing.  Then my husband, who was with me on a date, leans over and whispers, “He looks like a mime.”  I literally had to bite my hand to keep from breaking down into giggles that will get me thrown out of the theater.

When the hilarity is finished bad acting ensues and I find Robert Edwardguy tolerable.  But I think he’s funny looking and I’m not sure I understand what the attraction is for either one of them.  But the more I watch the hotter Robert Edwardguy becomes to me until I’m a little ashamed about how hot he’s looking considering that he’s barely legal.  So I’m alright with the Edward guy.  He’ll do.  And if nothing else he’s nice to look at.  Kristen Stewart thinks looking pained is the same as emoting and we watch two hours of Bella looking like she has constipation and then the movie is over.  I thought it was decent.  Visually very stimulating, and no I’m not talking about Edward I’m talking about scenery, and though the special effects were less than impressive I’m not leaving the theater sad that there’s two hours I’ll never get back.

And here’s where the lesson came in.  I’m waiting in the lobby and then in the bathroom.  Everyone is talking about the movie and I’m able to listen to what they’re saying.  What it boils down to is this.  The majority of them liked Kristen Stewart.  They thought she made a great Bella.  I almost missed the lesson because I was so completely stumped by this.  But I eventually realized this is because these books are not about Bella despite the fact that it’s in first person.  It’s about Edward.  The only emotions she has are those that relate to Edward.  Then they all started talking about Edward.  What I heard, over and over, was that Edward was hot, yes, but he didn’t have the charisma that he had in the book.  That they couldn’t see how he would have the ability to charm people into giving in to him.  He just seemed like a normal charismatic kid, but not the same as Edward.  In fact, he had to say he was able to charm people instead of it just showing.

And then I thought to myself, “WTH?”  Because, really.  Edward is a fictional character people.  He has a fictional charisma that is a powerful biproduct of his fiction powers as a fictional vampire.  Robert Edwardguy is a Brit in his early twenties with a signifigantly bad hair cut.  (Really, really bad haircut.)  Do they really expect him to be able to portray this bizarre level of lethal charisma?  Yes, they do.  And they’re mad about it.

Because they love Edward.

This is the power that we have as writers.  That’s what it really breaks down to.  How amazing is this concept?  Every single person who reads and loves a book has a picture in their head.  That picture will never match that of another reader.  The problem every hard core fan will have with a movie is that it will never match their picture because it came from the mental images of someone else.  We are the purveyors of these images.  The creators of the original picture.  The Edwards and Darcys and Dark Hunters come from our brains.  And they go into other people’s and those people are really freaking passionate about them.  And what that really boiled down to for me, as a writer, was a lesson in my responsibility.

Yeah, maybe it sounds a little silly but think of how people freak if a movie is badly done, not what they saw in their own little word window.  That’s the responsibility of the director, the producer, the actors.  We have a responsibility too.  To write the best characters that we can so that they have the capability of becoming real for our readers.  Maybe not real enough that they forget human beings aren’t capable of portraying magic powers, but real enough to touch their hearts and live in their minds.  We aren’t just writers here.  We’re people who are allowing others to live in a better place for just a little while.  What an awesome responsibility.  And we get to have fun while we’re doing it.  We have the best job on earth.

AJ

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1 Question Saturday

What would your hero and heroine/main characters give each other for Christmas?  Feel free to share why.

I’ll post my answer in the comments sections.

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Thursday 13: No-No Titles

So many times authors have trouble naming their manuscripts. Many use their main character’s names until something pops into their heads.

When you have had as little sleep as I have had today, weird things pop in to your head instead.

13 ROMANCE TITLES THAT SHOULD NEVER BE USED

13 – The Vampire Werewolf LoveChild Meets the Faery Queen

12 – Twisted Shifter

11 – The Rodeo Cowboy Turned FBI Agent Turned NASCAR Racer Turned Billionaire Virgin’s Secret Baby

10 – Sluts-R-Us

9 – FerretLove

8 – Horizontal Zombie- Mombo

7 – Velvet-Fisted Fillies

6 – Duck Duck Goose Her

5 – A Eunuch Embrace

4 – Fido: Waggin’ Your Tale

3 – McDonald’s Drive Thru Heaven

2 – Tobacco Times and Filtered Nights

1 – BUY ME, I TOOK A YEAR TO WRITE DAMN IT!!

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Is It Wednesday Already?

Wow! December is flying by and not much is happening in the writing side of my life. Sigh.

Take today. I’d planned to spend the day plotting a historical that’s been driving my subconscious crazy. Instead, we’re playing “snow day” with my DD, her five-year-old son, soon to be three-year-old daughter, and newborn boy. Not to mention their two German shepherds who are enjoying a play-date with our bull mastiff.

Can anyone say “Hectic”?

*LOL*

Families…they’re what the holidays are all about. So if you’ll excuse me, the historical will keep another day while I snuggle the baby and watch the big boy play Nintendo…and later, there’ll be sledding down our steep driveway into our deserted cul-de-sac. A rare treat in the Pacific Northwest!

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Sure, I’ll have plenty of time to write in December.

Before and after work, before the Christmas musical, before the tacky sweater party, before the work Christmas party, before my Hogfather viewing/Christmas re-gifting party, before I have to go to West Virginia to get my mom, when my mom’s in the bathroom or sleeping, before my MIL’s Christmas party, before dh’s aunt’s Christmas party which takes place AFTER Christmas…

Is it January yet? I’m feeling a little harried.

Didn’t I say something last week about 2009 goals/resolutions? I’m going to work on those and save them for next week’s blog.

Here’s my 2008 round-up, though:

*Finished Dragon Queen and saw it released
*Saw my first title at EC published
*Saw my second submission R&R’d, but at least I finished it in the first place 🙂
*Rough-drafted a full-length
*Finished and submitted four short stories (to NY publishers!)
*Received rejections for all four 🙂
*Won NaNoWriMO
*Invited to join Dreams & Desires 3 anthology (February release – it’ll be print!)
*Lost weight (woo)
*And dyed my hair purple

There might be more, but those are my most yay!

Ok, let’s hear your accomplishments!

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