Wednesday, March 28, 2012

2012 goals: 1st quarter update

It's almost the end of the first quarter of 2012. Perfect time for a goals update. It's amazing how much you learn when you're actually working toward goals instead of merely thinking about them. I tend to overplan, and I learned that I work better with broad, project-focused goals instead of more detailed goals like daily word counts. Also, I learned that goals are there to serve me, not the other way around. If my goals are hurting my happiness or my writing quality, then I have to adjust the goals.

So, here is my progress report along with my adjusted goals.

- Write 4000 words a week, every week (with 2 weeks off as vacation). This doesn't sound like much, but for me it's asustainable pace that provides forward motion on new work while allowing time for revisions, promo, research, etc. I enjoy revising much more than writing first drafts, so I didn't set specific editing goals. I decided to kill the word count goal because it created too much pressure when I was editing NEVER LET GO. I didn't want to sacrifice thorough, careful edits just to hit an arbitrary word count on another WIP. For the remainder of 2012, I plan to use word count goals only as needed.

- Write, edit, and submit my contracted short story (by end of February). DONE. WOOT!

- Edit and submit my two category romance WIPs to Harlequin/Mills & Boon, then work my way down the publisher list if HM&B rejects me. The editing process itself will involve pushing both WIPs through a modified version of Donald Maass's Breakout Novel checklist. After reviewing the first WIP earmarked for HM&B, I realized it needs a complete rewrite. Booo!

- Write the first draft (about 100K words) of my novel. There should be enough time left in the year to start edits as well. Pushed to the back burner. I want to have two category romances submission-ready (one submitted, one on deck) before diving into this project.

- Research agents and make a list of at least 50 target agents. Pushed to the back burner.

At 4000 words/week (200K words/year), I have room for more goals, so I'll set those after reaching the goals I listed above. Ah, wishful thinking. I doubt I'll have room for more goals after I do the ones above, but as long as I'm making forward progress, it's all good.

How are your 2012 goals going, writing and otherwise? I'll check back in with another progress report at the end of June.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Two earworms, 70s ballad style

I have no idea why these two songs have been stuck in my head all week, but if I'm going to deal with them, I might as well share. The lights are low and the disco ball's spinning, so get ready for couples skate.

"I Go Crazy" by Paul Davis

"Suddenly" by Olivia Newton-John and Cliff Richard

Monday, March 19, 2012

That awkward in-between stage

For the first time since last June, I'm in between projects. No drafts, edits, contracted books, nothing. Although I have a few promotional things to do and need to get ready for the Romantic Times convention in Chicago (hellooo, clothes shopping), I'm not actively working on a story.

I feel lost.

The plot details for my next book are churning in the back of my mind, and I'm spending extra time studying craft books (I'm a huge fan of the ones by Donald Maass and James Scott Bell), but I still feel like I'm at the edge of the high dive. Without characters crowding my brain space, all my fears are back. What if my next story sucks? What if I'm never successful as a writer? What if I run out of ideas? What if my craft skills don't improve? Am I wasting my time chasing a ridiculous dream?

The other reason I feel "in between" is because my next projects are longer and for different markets than what I'm used to. So far, all of my published stories have been short stories (4000 to 12,000 words) or novellas (27,000 to 35,000 words). Out of the next three projects I have in my queue, two of them are category length romances (50,000 to 55,000 words) targeted to Harlequin and one of them, the one that's making me freak out the most, is a women's fiction novel (90,000+ words) that will be my agent bait. Yes, I'm reaching way beyond my grasp here, but that's what I thought last July when I submitted my novella and look what happened! So, I remind myself to focus on writing the best stories I possibly can and stop worrying about the rest.

This week, I plan to regroup, reassess my writing career plans based on what I've learned this past year, and put together my new schedule. And's back to work.

Friday, March 9, 2012

New cover art for NEVER LET GO

I'm a blogging fool today -- two posts in one day! Anyway, I wanted to share my awesome cover art for my next confession novella NEVER LET GO. NEVER LET GO is about a woman who doesn't believe in the adage "if you love someone, set him free." I'm finishing my final edits and blurb right now, and I have to say it's been quite a fascinating, and uncomfortable, experience being inside the mind of a stalker. Jessica, the main character, believes she can make anything happen if she tries hard enough. Isn't that the advice we hear all the time? Yet it ignores all the things we can't control, especially in matters of the heart.

April 13 is release day. I'll be at the Romantic Times Convention in Chicago that day with my fellow Musa Publishing peeps, so I'll have yet another excuse to overindulge.

Stuff I like: the classic cosmpolitan

I don't care if cosmopolitans are oh-so-90s. They're pink, they're strong, and they're seriously delicious, which make them a modern classic in my book. Cosmos are inextricably linked with Sex in the City and chick lit, but I have at least one male friend who not only loves them, but orders them in bars. Good drinks are good drinks.

Cosmopolitan (serves 1)
1.5 fluid oz vodka (my favorites are Tito's, Grey Goose, and Valentine)
1/2 fluid oz Cointreau
1.5 fluid oz cranberry juice
juice from 1/4 lime

Pour everything into a shaker with lots of ice. Shake and strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with a lime twist or wedge, if desired.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Greetings to The Romance Reviews visitors!

If you found your way here from The Romance Reviews Q&A, greetings! The answer to today's quiz from my romance novella HARD BARGAIN can be found in the excerpt here [Update 03/08: link deleted - contest has ended]. I hope you stick around, explore my blog, and check out my books. Please leave a comment and say hello!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

A little March madness

I can't believe it's March already! For me, it'll be a fun month of writing, editing, and my first half marathon of 2012. For you, it means free stuff!

I'll be participating in two giveaway events in March with tons of other authors. Please check them out for many chances to win books, e-readers, and more.

First: for the entire month of March, The Romance Reviews will be celebrating their first anniversary. If you register on the TRR website, you can play games and quizzes for chances to win free books and more. The quizzes are based on the participating authors' books, and the answers to the quizzes can be found on their websites. Psst: if you want a head start on the quiz for my book (which will be up on March 7), check out my HARD BARGAIN excerpt here.

Second: On March 5-10, Barbara Vey at Beyond Her Book will be celebrating her fifth anniversary (lots of March anniversaries!). Every day will have a different theme, so stop by each day to check out the festivities and enter the giveaways.