Tag Archives: goal setting

Goals post #3

Today is my last day on the Bewitching Tour for Little Red Riding Wolf. Check out today’s guest post on:

And A Girl and Her Kindle reviews Little Red Riding Wolf:

Now on to the real post!

January is my traditional time for reviewing and setting goals. On New Year’s Eve I posted last year’s goals and showed you how I did. Click here for Goals Past and Present to see my 2012 goals and how well I did on hitting them. (Okay, I didn’t hit them all!)

 Check out the post Changing Goals for the New Year  for advice on setting goals and discover my own goal-setting pitfalls.

Today I’m posting my goals for 2013, but I have to add a caveat. I’ve already changed my goals several times since the beginning of the month. It’s taken me almost the entire month to quit waffling on where I want to go and how to get there, but I think I’m finally set on where this year is taking me.

Jessica Aspen Goals for 2013

Overall Organizational Goals: 

  1. Continue to set and review monthly goals, set daily goals based on monthly goals
  2. Write five days per week, 3 hours per day
  3. Goal is 3k/day
  4. and edit 15-20 pages per day
  5. Keep up with personal site, blog 2 days a week
  6. Self-publishing class in January (taking a fabulous class on Author EMS with  Amy Atwell and Kelli Finger!)
  7. Tax class in February from Colorado Romance Writers.
  8. Market 1-2 hours per day
  9. Attend CRW Writing Retreat in September 

Writing Goals 

  1. Finish editing Goldi and the Bear by January 18th
  2. Polish Goldi and the Bear  by January 30th
  3. Write rough draft of B&B (second book in TQH series)
  4. Edit rough draft of B&B
  5. Start thinking about 3rd book in  TQH series
  6. Outline 3rd book in TQH series
  7. Superhero goals: Edit BW and outline first book in that series

Marketing Goals 

  1. Submit Goldi and the Bear to PIP by January 30th
  2. Decide what to do with HH Novellas
  3. Continue to submit TQH
  4. Market all books (Little Red. S&S. Goldi)
  5. Enter Little Red in  contests
  6. Enter TQH into contests
  7. Increase presence on Goodreads
  8. Work on All Romance Exposure
  9. Figure out how to increase presence on reader sites/loops

So that’s it. I’ve slimmed my goals down and streamlined my writing goals. B&B will be written this year, I’ve put it off long enough. And I’m excited to be releasing Snow and the Seventh Wolf this month. Check out Thursday’s post for details and how you can win a review copy.

How are your goals for the year? Have you set them? It’s not too late, I don’t think it’s ever too late. 🙂

Want to see where my blog tour has been this week? Check out the entire list HERE and find out!

bewitching_author

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Filed under About the Author, Bloghops, Goal Setting, Moonday mania, Writer's Journey

Nanowrimo Wrap-up

Moonday Mania

a random blog about writing

It’s over! JumpMy first Nanowrimo. And it was a pretty interesting experience. I was pretty sure that working full time during November was going to mean I would not hit the 50k mark, but what I didn’t know was how close I could have gotten.

Now, before you get too excited, my total word count was 21,588 total words written on my ms during November. Not even close to fifty thousand. But about 14,000 of those words were written in the very last week. Imagine if I’d been able to apply myself the entire month the way I did at the end. And I could have.

I could have gone to the coffee shop two nights a week and the library one day on the weekend and I think that would have made the difference. So I’m going to try again. Even if I work full time next year, I’m going to try for the whole shebang. I think I can do it.

This past week I have written a minimum of 3,000 words every day. And some days it was very hard. But other days I ended up surpassing my daily goal and it wasn’t difficult. So I’m going to try to keep up that kind of speed all year.

Will I hit 3,000 words every day. No, I know I won’t. But it’s going to be my new word count goal, when I’m not working. And when I am working? I’m not sure yet. I have until March to decide, so we’ll see how it goes.

And as for my 21,588?

Holiday Gifts of Love Blog Hop

Coming December 14th! Prizes galore!

It wasn’t 50k. It wasn’t my goal of 30k, that I thought I set as my goal while I worked. But it is 21,588 more words than I wrote last November. And I learned I could write during November and while I worked. So I’m happy.

Have you ever set a goal that you didn’t meet, but you will still satisfied with the results. Do you get down on yourself when you miss a goal, or do you look for what you can use from the experience? Does it make a difference if you expected to hit the goal?

Don’t forget there will be lots of prizes during the Holiday Gifts of Love Blog Hop! Hop on by on December 14th!

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Filed under About the Author, channeling success, Moonday mania, Nanowrimo, Writer's Journey

Super Killer #Goals, Take Two!

Moonday Mania

a blog for the writing journey

In January I published my goals. Click HERE to see my crazy, over-achieving, goal list. Today, I’m re-visiting my goals and updating where I am. I would have liked to have gotten this done in June or July, but between working, driving kids up and back to camp every two weeks, and helping out my folks, (Oh and the travelling- I went to two conferences this summer. Yippee!) I didn’t get to checking my goals. But now I’m back to writing (actually mostly editing) full time and here they are, with updates!

Jessica Aspen Goals for 2012

    1. Polish and submit TQH , (January) continue to submit as needed January, my edits for Little Red Riding Wolf came in and my mother went into the hospital (she’s just fine!) so I put this off, until July! I’m now a third of the way through and plan to finish by the end of August, if not sooner.
    2. Polish and submit BW Another delayed project. My whole year got pushed back, so now this is on the table as soon as TQH is finished. I’m thinking before the end of August, but definitely during September. Finish by the end of Sept.
    3. Outline and write  DW second novel in BW series-possible #BIAY The plan is to now outline this in September when I am working on the companion book, BW. So by the end of September I should  have the outline, then begin writing either this or TQH sequel in October. 
    4. Add BIAY page to my website and update monthly I added this in January, and dropped it with last months website re-do. 
    5. Polish and submit DW Not even written, so not polished. I think this will end up being a 2013 goal.
    6. Re-vamp novella-Rogue Enforcer, and publish Pushed forward, maybe 2013.
    7. Outline and write GB (new novella) (February) This became Snow and the Seventh Wolf. I outlined in February and wrote over March and April, submitted and is now due for publication in 2013 from Passion in Print Press. WOOT!
    8. Polish and submit GB see above
    9. Start thinking about 3rd book in Enforcer series Haven’t written prequel, DW, yet. The 3rd is pushed back to 2013
    10. Outline and write sequal to TQH book (If TQH is accepted, this becomes a priority) I have a good start on this one, am outlining it during August, then I’ll see if I write this one first or DW first. I would love to have both ready to go for October.
    11. Attend Rom con 2012 (already purchased ticket) Done! I had a blast! See HERE.
    12. Go to RWA Nationals in July. Done! I had another super good time, see HERE and check out my FB page for pix HERE.
    13. Market all books (Little Red Riding Wolf was the focus for Jan and Feb) Still working on this!
    14. Keep up with personal site and improve it, blog 3 days a week As most of you know, I had a tough time this spring, keeping up with the job, the class I was taking, my folks, my kids, my life. Oh yeah, and the blog. I took a major siesta from the blog and it was wonderful. Now I’m cutting down to twice a week and I’m loving it! And of course the site has been re-done beautifully, with the assistance of cover artist Viola Estrella.
    15. Finish business plan Yeah, yeah. Someday this will actually happen. I do have one, it’s not pretty.
    16. Outline a YA and write for NANO (if not working at MP) I am planning on taking one of my finished outlines and attempting NANO, unfortunately I will be joining my working friends and working, so I may not hit the 50k mark, but I will try! Will it be the YA, probably not. Push this to next year, again!
    17. Keep up with PNRF and improve site, blog once per month This actually happened. Ok, I didn’t improve the site, but I have kept up!
    18. Take Bob Mayer class and keep up with it (Jan and Feb) Loved my Bob Mayer class, check out HERE
    19. Work at applying analytics and website knowledge to sites I don’t love analytics. I did try this at the beginning of the year, and I used it to determine that I should drop Sensational Saturdays, but other than that I’d say this is a wash.
    20. Write five days per week, 3 hours per day (actually I want to have butt in chair for 6 hours per day)
    21. Goal is 2k/day, expanding to 3k/day Hmm, some days, my non-working days. I can hit 2k. 3k is still a reach. And now that I haven’t written for so long, we’ll have to see how October goes.
    22. Or edit 15-20 pages per day Keeping up with this! WOOT!
    23. Market 1-2 hours per day Um, no.
    24. Increase presence on Goodreads and Google plus I think I’m tabling Google Plus, Joined MyWanna, but haven’t done much with it. I do like Goodreads though and have gotten more social there recently.
    25. Think about possibly 2 other classes this year Yeah. I’m done with classes for a long time. I have too much to do. I have the RWA Nationals Workshops I took to review, and I can listen to the CD if I want a class. I am in the middle of The Fire in Fiction and think that I might use those exercises if I need a bump. No more classes this year, just some CRW mini-cons and the retreat.
    26. Figure out how to increase presence on reader sites/loops If anyone has ideas, let me know!
    27. Work at improving plotting with the intent of speeding up actual writing by an extra 1,000k per day from current speed of 2k per day using Rachel Aaron‘s techniques I’m working on this. I think I’m up to 2k per day, when I’m actually not editing. I’ll have to get back to this in October.
    28. Continue to set and review monthly goals, set daily goals based on monthly goals This fell apart, but as of this month I am back to being disciplined. It’s the only way to stay on track.
    29. Explore self-publishing a short story Still on the back burner. Our August mini-con is on Self-publishing, so I may get some ideas. Meanwhile I’m working on everything else!

     I knew when I wrote these down that I wouldn’t have them all done by the end of the year. But the very cool thing is how many I have finished or am still on track to finish. When you write a goal down it makes it much more likely that you will achieve it. Even if you don’t look at it all year, it hangs out in the back of your head.

    Have you checked up on your killer goals this year? How far along are you? Did you have a bump in the road to your goals and have to go off the map? What about off-road? Did you get back on track? Leave me a comment and let me know how your year is going.

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Filed under About the Author, Goal Setting, Moonday mania, Writer's Journey

Help! When do I write?

Sensational Saturday’s

a blog about whatever the bleep I want to write

Free Stock Photos - Blue Ballpoint Pens

I’m a goal setter. A go-to goal setter. If you peek back into January you’ll see my mega-list of goals. And there are a lot of little things, like, hmm, blog, blog and more blogs. But the most important thing on the list, the one thing I’m supposed to be doing before anything else, and the thing that actually might bring some real meaning to my chosen career is to WRITE.

Now don’t get me wrong. All the other stuff is important, but if I’m not writing, am I an author? If all I’m doing is promoting the one book or checking out everyone else’s books, can I call myself anything but a dabbler? A doodler? A dilettante?

Even if I’m sacrificing my writing for a good cause, even if it’s because my house needs attention, the fridge needs re-stocking, or the family desperately needs me, even then can I call myself an author? Or am I just a hobbyist?

Writing is the call. Writing is the thing that needs to be done.

Stock Image - Cow
That’s why my family is forced to eat nothing but PB&J’s till the cows come home, because Mama ain’t cooking. Mama’s writing.

Am I struggling to balance my life?

Yes. But I’m still writing.

Yes, this month things have gotten seriously in the way. My folks have needed way more help than usual. I took on a contest and that required a good deal of attention. And there are the usual suspects, the dirty bathrooms and the dog that needs walking.

But overall I am writing. And I’m on schedule. Or close to it.

My main goal for the beginning of this year was to write a novella. And I’ve done that. I have the rough draft of the sequel to Little Red Riding Wolf finished. Snow and the Seventh Wolf is in the middle of the polishing stage and I am on target to have it off to Passion in Print for the query stage by the end of March. Now all I need to do is fend off the children during spring break. Any ideas?

My next main goal is to edit BW (and rename it, I’m not happy with the title, hence the intitials). I’ve signed up for a Margie class in April, specifically to get the editing rolling. Fab 30, where Margie herself looks at your thirty pages. Wish me luck, I’m going to need it!

I’m working in April, so this will be a challenge, but like I said, the natives will have to eat more PB&J. Or maybe learn to cook for themselves. That’s an even better idea!

I have a ton of other things I want to get done. Re-vamping this website is high on my list. But don’t expect to see it done anytime soon. One thing I took away from my Bob Mayer class, one thing I took away from reading Stephen King’s On Writing, one thing I read over and over again from successful authors is…. WRITE!

Do you have trouble getting your goals accomplished? How do you fend off the natives when they need, need, need you? Can you turn off your phone and buckle down? What are your success strategies?

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It’s Not New Years Any More, Dorothy

Sensational Saturdays

a blog for whatever I feel like writing

What happens when you set a huge mountain of goals, and then life interrupts?

First, you panic.

Then you look at the goals and wonder: What was I thinking?

Then you get back to work and try to get back on track.

This is my epiphany now that it is the middle of February. In January I happily set a huge amount of goals. (Click HERE to see the mountain) I knew that I wouldn’t get every single one crossed off the list. I even said that. But I wanted to dream big.

So I wrote them all down. And then life kept interrupting.

Okay, it’s not the end of the year, but it is the middle of the second month and I am not where I expected to be. To start with, I had planned to have all of my edits, including the galley’s, done for Little Red Riding Wolf in January. I was going to edit an old ms while I waited for them to show up and work on my plotting for my new novella.

And I did get my edits, and I did get them done. And I do have my novella plotted. But what I didn’t plan for was the family emergency that sucked a week out of January. Poof, gone.

Oh, and the other thing I didn’t plan for was the CRW Award of Excellence contest (that I am running) to come to a head the same week as the family emergency. Nor did I plan for that week to be the week my second round of edits came in.

Life sucks happens.

But what do you do when you are a tight goal setter? What do you do when it snows and the kids and husband don’t leave the house. Or you get the killer head cold and can barely even stand to look at the computer for a week? Or those same kids get sick and not only are they home, in need of Mom’s homemade straight-from-the-chicken soup, but they also then need to be driven to school when they are finally almost feeling better?

All these things made my January crazy.

Actually the killer head cold was last week. I did get some writing done, but not enough. And this week I also had another family crisis. Not an emergency, but still….

I’m at the point where I need to be firm and say, I’m not answering the phone between the hours of nine and three. If I was at work, they would have to wait. Why is it so hard when I’m at home?

I’m the sandwich generation. I have parents who need a little more help and my kids still need me. I’m trying to work at my writing career, and (in the spring/summer/part of the fall) I hold a job. I’m trying to keep up with my Dr. Oz recommended healthy lifestyle (the 85 pound Labrador helps get me out the door) and oh, yeah. My husband.

Let’s not forget about him. He seems to think that being married requires that we spend time together. Where has he been the last ten years? Modern couples just text  I LUV U, and roll over exhausted.

And yet, no one but me set those goals. I knew things might come up. What was I thinking?

I’ll tell you what I was thinking. IN fact you can go back and read the original post if you want to, but I was being optimistic. Is that a bad thing?

No. I don’t think so. But now when I know I’m falling behind, now is the time to reexamine those goals. To figure out if I can buckle down and make my word count double this week and catch up for last weeks head-cold. To realize that I’ve not just been busy with other people’s crisis, but I could have worked harder when I had the time.

Yeah, I admit it. I’ve slacked off too much. So now is the time to get back on the track. Now is the time to not answer the phone for a few hours, check messages at lunch, and then get back to work. Now is the time to treat my time at my computer as sacred.

Because if I don’t, I’m not even going to get halfway up the mountain. And I expect to do at least that.

Have you stopped by Gloria Richard’s blog an seen Sherry Isaac’s Step Away From the January, It Might Be Loaded posts? Unlike me Sherry has a reasonable approach to goal setting. Where are you on your goals? Did you set any and have you reviewed them?

My Little Red Riding Wolf Contest is still open. Leave a comment today and click HERE to enter.

This week I’ll be on Sutton Fox‘s blog on Friday and don’t forget to RSVP for the Twitter Party that amazing Brinda Berry is throwing for me on February 18th at 5pm Mountain time.

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Goals 2012

Moonday Mania

a blog on the craft of writing

I’m taking a page from my ROW 80 friends, Gloria Richard and Jenny Hansen and posting my goals for 2012. Just to let you know, unlike the ROW 80 peeps, I will not be checking in on Fridays and letting you know how I’m doing. Not because I don’t love you all, but mostly because I’m blogging enough for ten writers this year and I simply can’t add one more blog to the list. Instead, from time to time I’ll jump on and celebrate (or not) and let you know where I am.

So, this is the list of goals I sent out to my goal setting group, Writing Gaim, hosted by Amy Atwell. (I’m actually on the fifth goals setting group that Amy has set up, so you won’t see my goals on the site. But jump on over to Amy’s site and see all the cool things she has to offer.)

Jessica Aspen Goals for 2012
  1. Polish and submit TQH , (January) continue to submit as needed
  2. Polish and submit BW
  3. Outline and write  DW second novel in BW series-possible #BIAY
  4. Add BIAY page to my website and update monthly
  5. Polish and submit DW 
  6. Re-vamp novella-Rogue Enforcer, and publish
  7. Outline and write GB (new novella) (February)
  8. Polish and submit GB
  9. Start thinking about 3rd book in Enforcer series
  10. Outline and write sequal to TQH book (If TQH is accepted, this becomes a priority)
  11. Attend Rom con 2012 (already purchased ticket)
  12. Go to RWA Nationals in July
  13. Market all books (Little Red Riding Wolf focus for Jan and Feb)
  14. Keep up with personal site and improve it, blog 3 days a week
  15. Finish business plan
  16. Outline a YA and write for NANO (if not working at MP)
  17. Keep up with PNRF and improve site, blog once per month
  18. Take Bob Mayer class and keep up with it (Jan and Feb)
  19. Work at applying analytics and website knowledge to sites
  20. Write five days per week, 3 hours per day (actually I want to have butt in chair for 6 hours per day)
  21. Goal is 2k/day, expanding to 3k/day
  22. Or edit 15-20 pages per day
  23. Market 1-2 hours per day
  24. Increase presence on Goodreads and Google plus
  25. Think about possibly 2 other classes this year
  26. Figure out how to increase presence on reader sites/loops
  27. Work at improving plotting with the intent of speeding up actual writing by an extra 1,000k per day from current speed of 2k per day using Rachel Aaron‘s techniques
  28. Continue to set and review monthly goals, set daily goals based on monthly goals
  29. Explore self-publishing a short story
Okay, so it’s a huge list. And they aren’t SMART goals. Why? Because I like to dream big for the year. I like to look at everything I want to accomplish for the year when I plan what I’m going to do for the month. Now on my daily goals, I set goals using Margie Lawson‘s DSDB techniques. Winner and superstar goals that I can accomplish and check off and feel good about. But for the year, I want it all out there.
Maybe it won’t all get done, (okay, it’s not all getting done) but I believe if you don’t shoot for the top of the mountain you won’t get there. And I’m a top of the mountain kind of gal. Even when it hurts, and it’s gonna hurt.
I set a tremendous amount of goals for 2011, did I hit them all? NO.
But I did hit quite a few, and I feel good about it. If you are the kind of person who will feel bad if you don’t have bright red check marks next to all your goals, then set them SMART, and even SMARTER.
Letter Major Term Minor Terms
S Specific Significant, Stretching, Simple
M Measurable Meaningful, Motivational, Manageable
A Attainable Appropriate, Achievable, Agreed, Assignable, Actionable, Ambitious, Aligned, Aspirational
R Relevant Realistic, Resourced, Resonant
T Timely Time-oriented, Time framed, Timed, Time-based, Timeboxed, Time-bound, Time-Specific, Timetabled, Time limited, Trackable, Tangible
E Evaluate Ethical, Excitable, Enjoyable, Engaging, Ecological
R Reevaluate Rewarded, Reassess, Revisit, Recordable, Rewarding, Reaching
source: wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SMART_criteria

For me, I’m shooting for the top, and setting them SMART along the way. That’s just me.

What kind of a goal setter are you? Do you set goals? What’s your process? Are you a SMART goal setter?

Don’t forget to enter my contest HERE, rules etc are on the contest page. And you can comment etc more than once (just once per day) so enter often! I’ve added Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory Gift Certificates to the list, and yes, you can order online. Yumm!

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Retreat Bijou, Elizabeth Pelletier of Entangled Publishing

Sensational Saturdays

a blog about whatever is on my mind

This is the last in a three part series about the wonderful jewels I gleaned from the Colorado Romance Writers Retreat. To read the initial post about the CRW retreat you can visit HERE. To read about the amazing Margie Lawson’s Defeating Self Defeating Behaviors you can visit HERE. And to read about coping with contest grief with Ann Brady you can visit HERE.

Have you ever wished you knew exactly what an editor was thinking when they read through the slush pile? Do you want to know what stands out and how you can get your manuscript read? Well, we were lucky enough at the retreat to have our very own editor at our mercy. Liz Pelletier from Entangled Publishing was brave enough to step into the room and answer all our questions. She was frank, she was open and she let us know exactly what we could expect from Entangled when we sent our babies off to the slaughter.

No, that’s the first thing. Entangled is a small press. They are fairly new and they really take the time to look at your query and to try to read through those first five pages. If you are worried that no one even looks at your piece, Liz does. She can’t read everything, but she looks at the query and decides if it should be read in depth by an intern. So how do you get her attention?

She said it was simple. She needed to connect to the story, connect to the characters. And she needed to do it right away. Make your character either likeable, in a situation of adversity, sympathetic or empathetic (put the reader in the character’s shoes).

That’s it. If you do that, right away, Liz will send it on to the next step where they read it and critique it. At least the first thirty pages.

And then what happens? Well a few books get picked up. Most don’t. Why?

  1. The reader couldn’t connect with the character
  2. Lack of voice or too much voice
  3. Too many books just like it
  4. Just don’t love it
If you can hit the character hook, the interesting plot or a twist on an old plot, then you will make it to the next step. As long as they have a place for it. Liz said occasionally it happens that there is a fantastic book, but they just signed someone with a similar plot and they can’t publish two books that are so similar.
At Entangled they work with each author in depth, so they have to really like the book. Liz reads the books she’s responsible for multiple times. She has to love the story or she just won’t want to face it over and over and over again.
Is there anything else you can do to maybe get a leg up with a publisher? Yes. Edit your query and your submission. Then edit them again. Actually read them, don’t just spell check. And if you can, have someone else read them and make sure you didn’t use the wrong there, or two for to. I know you’ve heard this many times, but editors are still getting manuscripts with major editing mistakes. Don’t be a victim!
Be on the internet, be a prescence. We’ve talked about this before, but you should at least have a website and be on some sort of social networking platform. Editors want to know you can market yourself. Or at least that you know you should be doing it!
Google yourself. Check out if someone can find you, or does that stripper with the dog face come up instead. (Hey, it happens!)
Make sure your book is within the parameters for their house. If they don’t do YA, don’t send your YA mystery to them. Check the submission rules and be aware. Every  house is different with different rules. Get in line with the rules and you stand at least a chance. Get out of line and you will be receiving an auto rejection. Next!
I want to thank Liz for her time and consideration. She made me think and even though I’m not sharing everything on my three pages of notes I hope this made you think. Sometimes we take rejection personally, but after listening to Liz I had a new respect for how an editor makes her decisions. Thanks Liz!
Let me know about your experiences with rejections. Did the editor give a reason? Did you listen?
Today’s Halloween Treats book is giveaway is a signed copy of CRW’s very own Alegra Gray’s Nothing But Scandal. Halloween Treats is my treat to you in celebration of my novella Little Red Riding Wolf’s publication on February 18th, 2012 by Passion in Print Press. Leave a comment to enter the drawing for the book and to enter the grand prize drawing on October 31st for three swag bags and B&N gift cards!
Nicole Grueber has won Thursday’s book, Dragon Moon. Send me your address through the contact box and I’ll send you your book. Congratulations!

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Advanced Plotting with Chris Eboch

Moonday Madness

A blog about the craft of writing

Today’s guest is multi-published author Chris Eboch. Chris is not only an accomplished fiction author, but she now teaches what she has learned. Her book Advanced Plotting will help you smooth out those bumps in the road. 

A woman heard I was a writer with 12 books published, and she said, “Why aren’t you living in Beverly Hills?”

I managed to keep a straight face. Besides the fact that I prefer New Mexico to Beverly Hills, 12 books in about as many years does not pay a living wage. It does, however, mean that I’ve learned a lot over the years. I’ve written historical fiction (The Eyes of Pharaoh, a mystery set in ancient Egypt, and The Well of Sacrifice, a Mayan adventure, both for ages nine and up), an original paperback series (the Haunted series, which starts with The Ghost on the Stairs, also for kids), and various types of work for hire. I also recently started writing romantic suspense for adults under the name Kris Bock (Rattled is a treasure hunting adventure in the New Mexico wilderness).

Besides my published books, I have a dozen unpublished manuscripts – part of the learning process. I learn a lot from teaching other writers as well. I lead workshops, work with students through a correspondence school, and do private manuscript critiques. You can’t analyze thousands of stories and novels without learning a few things about what works and what doesn’t.

And yet, somehow, that doesn’t mean it’s easy to see the flaws in your own work. But I’ve found a method to help. I call it the Plot Outline Exercise, and I discuss it at length in my book Advanced Plotting. The short summary is, you make an outline of your finished manuscript, briefly describing the main action and any subplots in each chapter. Then you analyze your plot. Looking at the outline, rather than the entire manuscript, makes it easier to see the big picture without getting distracted by little details.

That doesn’t mean it’s easy. It takes a lot of work to make a manuscript strong, so I ask over 40 questions, divided into sections for Conflict, Tension, Main Character, Subplots and Secondary Characters, Theme, and Fine Tuning. For example, here are the opening three from Conflict (and each of these bullet points I consider to be one question, despite the multiple question marks):

·         Put a check mark by the line if there is conflict in that chapter. For chapters where there is no conflict, can you cut those, interweave with other chapters, or add new conflict? The conflict can be physical danger, emotional stress, or both, so long as the main character (MC) is facing a challenge.

·         Where do we learn what the main conflict is? Could it be sooner? Is there some form of conflict at the beginning, even if it is not the main conflict? Does it at least relate to the main conflict? The inciting incident—the problem that gets the story going—should happen as soon as possible, but not until the moment is ripe. The reader must have enough understanding of the character and situation to make the incident meaningful. Too soon, and the reader is confused. Too late, and the reader gets bored first.

·         Where do we learn the stakes? What are they? Do you have positive stakes (what the MC will get if he succeeds), negative stakes (what the MC will suffer if he fails), or best of all, both? Could the penalty for failure be worse? Your MC should not be able to walk away without penalty.

As you answer each question, you make notes on the outline for where you need to make changes on your manuscript. Then, of course, you need to actually make the changes. Advanced Plotting has over 20 additional articles to explain how to make these changes, covering topics such as getting off to a fast start and using cliffhanger chapter endings.

As I said, it isn’t easy to do this kind of revision, but when the result is a much stronger manuscript, it’s worthwhile. Since I now outline before I start writing, I use the Plot Outline Exercise at that planning stage and catch a lot of problems early, but not every writer can – or wants to – sketch out a manuscript in detail in advance. However you write, making an outline at some point can help you see what you really have, so you can identify and fix problems.

Learn more about Chris and read excerpts of her work at www.chriseboch.com (for children’s books) or www.krisbock.com (for adult romantic suspense written under the name Kris Bock) or see her Amazon page at http://www.amazon.com/Chris-Eboch/e/B001JS25VE/. You can also read excerpts from Advance Plotting on her blog:http://chriseboch.blogspot.com/.

Thanks Chris! Leave a question or comment for Chris and you will be entered in today’s Halloween Treats drawing for an autographed copy of Michelle Celmer’s A Clandestine Corporate Affair. All commenters will be entered in the drawing for three grand prizes to occur on October 31st, so check back to see if you are a winner! Saturday’s winner is Gloria Richard! Congratulations Gloria, send me your address and I’ll send you the book!

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Announcing Big News!

Moonday Mania

a blog about the craft of writing

TA DA!

I’m thrilled to announce the acceptance of a contract from Passion in Print Press for my sensual novella Little Red Riding Wolf!

Little Red Riding Wolf is a tongue in cheek twisted fairy tale that won an honorable mention in RWA’s Passionate Ink’s Stroke of Midnight contest this July. I had a fun time writing it and I’m thrilled that Passion in Print is picking it up. After listening to Laura Baumbach talk to CRW at our mini-con in August I came away very impressed with her dedication to publishing a quality product and even though I hadn’t planned on pitching (because The Queen’s Huntsman is still being edited again and again and my current WIP is not finished) I took a chance and pitched Little Red.

And now it will be a published e-novella! With it’s very own cover and available on the Passion in Print site for purchase!

I’m not sure exactly when it will be available, I will now have edits and all that goes with the publishing process to complete, but it is a very exciting way to come full circle this September. Last September I turned the corner at Margie Lawson’s Deep Immersion class and moved from being a writer to being an author. If you’ve been following my journey, I have been marching steadily down the road with the full intention of reaching publication. And now that day is here!

I’ll be posting updates on Little Red’s journey as well as my own on my News! page and I will continue to update my bio page with semi-montly snippets on my life.

I want to thank everyone who has contributed to this excitement!

My husband, first and foremost, for always being supportive. My IMC buddies from WooHooU! Sherry Isaac, Gloria Richard, Joan Swan, Babs Mountjoy, and of course Margie Lawson. And my mother, who insisted I had to go to Margie’s last year!

As well as everyone in CRW, but especially ML Guida and Hillary Seidl for insisiting I pitch and Lori Corsentino for switching spots with me. Lori, I never would have pitched if you weren’t such a generous soul!

And my CP Jessica R., for reading through Little Red Riding Wolf when she had just met me and writing detailed comments complete with green post-it notes. Thanks for all the critiquing!

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Filed under Goal Setting, Moonday mania, Writer's Journey

Embarking on a New Adventure

Sensational Saturdays

a blog where I write, whatever!

For those of you just joining my blog I started the year stepping onto the board of life. Spinning the wheel and seeing where my little car would take me I drove straight into a class by Angi Morgan, author of Hill Country Hold Up (if you love suspense, you’ll love Angi’s books!) where I learned that first time authors have a world of things to do and no time to do them. Angi described her first year as an author as a roller coaster ride, thrilling, but scary.

Angi’s advice was to jump on the roller coaster now! What would you be doing if you were published? And she told us what she’d needed to do. Not only come through with edits for the accepted book, but whip out a synopis and a second book in record time. And the roller coaster continued with websites and promotion and all the things she’d never thought of doing before being published.

And that’s how I find myself in the predicament I am now, amazingly, astonishingly, awesomely busy. I love everything I do and dropping something is difficult. I am very active in my local RWA chapter CRW. I’m working hard on our OctoberFalling into Romance Tea. I am still juggling reservationist, but have a wonderful person to take it on after today. So that will leave me PRO liason and AOE co-ordinator.

Phew! Along with balancing two websites (if you haven’t checked out Paranormal Freebies, please do so HERE), my crazy self-imposed goals for writing, oh yeah, the dog and the family, I have loaded a lot on my plate. But I’m winnowing it down.

And then I came across the Third Writing Campaign! Seems easy, right?

Just check out the 25+ blogs in my group, and accept the three challenges.

Well I couldn’t leave it there? Could I?

I have added in Kerri Cuevas Choose Your Own Adventure to my plate. But how could I resist? I loved those books as a kid. It was like writing your own story. You would start the story, and it would be about you. Something terrible would happen and at the end of the chapter would be those magical words: If you  choose to stay and fight, go to page five. If you choose to run out the door, go to page twenty-two.

Well, what would you do?

Read them over and over and over, till you had the entire thing memorized. I still see them sometimes in used bookstores. Well read, but still chugging along. So I had to jump on Kerri’s train and I’m thrilled to announce that we’re about to start working on our very own choose your own adventure!

You can check out the list of nineteen intrepid bloggers and authors who will be writing this adventure with me HERE, and I hope when the time comes you will all be adventurous yourselves on October 23, 20011 and go to Kerri’s blog and see what happens when the reader gets to choose!

Did you read these as a child? Share with me if you did and if you didn’t what fabulous books held your attention when you were young?

And don’t forget to check back Monday for Moonday Madness with guest blog by Summer Mahan!

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Filed under channeling success, Optimisim, Sensational Saturday's, Third Writers Platform Building Campaign, writing organization