Going into 2021, I had three goals: play the piano everyday, sign with an agent, and get a book contract. I did not play quite everyday; on Twitter, I logged my progress using the #RomancePianists hashtag. I got off with my numbering a bit, but I think I missed 3 days when I was away from my instrument. In terms of my other two goals, well, it was mission accomplished.
Given my relative success, I wanted to set a few more goals for the coming year.
- Play the piano most days. I’m going to keep using the hashtag–and everyone is free to join, whatever instrument you’re playing and however often you practice–but I’m going to cut myself a bit of slack. I’d like to log six sessions a week (or 312 practices) next year.
- Write two books. One of these is contracted, planned, and started, but I’d like to write another in the second half of the year.
- Complete the work for my secret project. More on this later!
- Start jogging again. I fell off when I sprained my ankle and upper foot in 2019, and I want to get back to it.
- Cut back on my social media use. Sincerely, I’m on Twitter less than I used to be, but I’m going to start aggressively using the tech blocking software on my phone. My plan is to log on for a few minutes each day to update my piano hashtag and check in, but then to log off again. I need my mind and my time to get the rest of this done.
And that seems like an ambitious enough year for me.
The last twelve months have been strange, which is to say stranger than normal because the baseline in my life is, well, strange. At the start of the year, I had many goals and most have not been achieved. But here is what I did do!
- I wrote about 100,000 words of fiction, which included finishing the book that’s now called Special Interests, writing a sequel to it, and starting three other projects. I also wrote innumerable words of non-fiction, emails, and blog posts (some highlights of the latter).
- I sold a book and then, because that had been so much fun, I sold three more.
- My first novel, Brave in Heart, came out in July, whereupon I discovered convincing people to read your book might actually be more difficult than writing one.
- But the sting of that faded because working with critique partners, beta readers, and editors who take you and your work seriously is awesome.
- I revised Special Interests and now I can’t wait for you to read it (April 7, 2014; mark that down someplace).
- I read many wonderful books, and even more articles, blog posts, and tweets about books. I generally came to feel like contemporary print culture is a vibrant place that I want to contribute to in as many ways as I can.
But for the past few weeks, I have been feeling very doldrum-y. My writing and creative process is like a tide. I’m the sun-bleaching-the-coral moment, waiting for inspiration to sweep back in. I know this: next year, I want to read more words, to write more and better words, and to work more productively and consistently.
As Yul Brynner once said in a movie, “So let it be written; so let it be done.”
I’ll see you in 2014!
Golden Heart nominations are being announced today. I didn’t enter so this doesn’t directly involve me at all. But if I haven’t signed a contract, I hope that in a year it will involve me. I can’t make finaling in Golden Heart a goal — after all, there’s nothing I can do to make that happen other than submitting a manuscript — but here are things that I’d like to accomplish before next year’s nominees are announced:
- Finish revising The Easy Part
- Finish writing and revising August and Matilda’s novel (the sequel to Brave in Heart)
- Start, finish, and revise Alyse and Liam’s novel (the sequel to The Easy Part)
- Submit The Easy Part and August and Matilda’s novel to a contest this summer
- Continue querying and submitting to agents and editors through the summer and fall
- Submit at least one manuscript to the 2014 Golden Heart
The other day, I had a conversation with a potential critique partner. She asked, “What kind of books do you want to write?”
I’m embarrassed to admit, I was a little stumped. What I eventually said is that I want to write historical romances that show as much interest and enthusiasm in American history as the best European (read: British) historicals do and that I want to write sexy, youthful contemporaries that capture what I feel like is missing in the market today (e.g., romance between smart, ambitious professionals, etc.). The manuscripts I’ve completed so far are all pretty serious. I’d also like to lighten things up a bit and have a little more fun, while remaining true to myself and my voice.
In the next year, I’d like to finish The Easy Part and revise it. I want to finish the revisions of Brave in Heart and Together is Enough. I want to write a full-length book for the Dauntless Love series plus one other manuscript (either the next book in that series or a sequel to The Easy Part). I want to win NaNoWriMo, either with one of those manuscripts or maybe with a third project. I want to send out query letters for Brave in Heart and The Easy Part. I want to get ready to enter a manuscript in the 2014 Golden Heart. If I haven’t been able to find an agent or a publisher or to final in Golden Heart, I want to prepare to self-publish in mid to late 2014.
Most of all, I want to improve my craft. I’m a better writer now than I was 12 months ago. I want to be a better writer still 12 months from now. This means writing every day, focusing on showing versus telling, keeping my dialogue realistic and light, and becoming a better planner.
What are your 2013 writing goals?
My novella’s up to 14,231 words and I hope to write this evening. I only penned 5 dissertation pages this week, but I worked fairly extensively on revisions for Together is Enough, which I hadn’t planned for. I’m going to go ahead and call that a successful writing week.
Next week will be all about the dissertation, but I’d like to get the novella over 20,000 words.
I’ll get a full review up at some point in the future, but I wanted to draw the attention of my readers to Kimberly Truesdale’s new novel, My Dear Sophy, a beautifully realized prequel to Jane Austen’s Persuasion. I was fortunate enough to read an early draft and I can assure you that it’s delightful and squee-worthy. You should just go buy it now.
7968 words for the novella. About 30% of the way there, at least if my outline turns out to be accurate.
I hate when you end up with a middle chapter that you don’t want to write but need for the story. For me, it always ends up being a chapter in my notes that contains the phrase “they fight.” I’m not good at writing conflict.
I’d like to have 15,000 words by the end of next weekend, plus 15 dissertation pages. That’s a lot of writing.