Monday, January 30, 2012

Hanging with the King

Emily R. King, that is! I'm at her blog today, for Blogger Mentor Monday. Come on over and hang with us! Get Busy Writing

Friday, January 27, 2012

Quotes and Cookies: Fact vs. Fiction

Three quotes today! Only because they all come from giants, and they are so very similar.

"The difference between fiction and reality? Fiction has to make sense."

~ Tom Clancy

"Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities. Truth isn't."

~ Mark Twain

"Rule one of reading other people's stories is that whenever you say 'well that's not convincing' the author tells you that's the bit that wasn't made up. This is because real life is under no obligation to be convincing."

~ Neil Gaiman

Hahaha! Great, isn't it? I TOTALLY AGREE. Also: SUCH A HARD LINE TO WALK. Write what you know, right? Yet, when you're reading a book, don't you hate when you come across a scene that feels like it probably happened in the author's life? Or when a character has a certain tic that kind of feels like it must be the authors tic? I guess it all comes down to including something because it feels right for THAT CHARACTER. Using what feels right for THAT STORY. Regardless of how awesome a story it was when it happened in real life.

Have you ever had something that happened in real life that you've wanted to include, but it just didn't seem convincing enough? Pretty funny how much real life can sometimes be unbelievable, isn't it?

While we're laughing about life, let's share a lace cookie! Because that's what you should do when you're laughing about life, right?

Photo credit and recipe: Secret Life of a Chef's Wife

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Way We Are: Playlists

Even though I don't, I know a lot of people rely on music heavily when writing, and it completely fascinates me. I want to hear about it!

Do you have a playlist for your WIP? Do you have certain songs you listen to when you are writing certain scenes? Songs that fit a specific character? If so, what's your process for finding the perfect music?

Or does it matter less what the song is, just that it's the right type of music?

For me, I write best in silence. If I can't have silence, Pandora and headphones save me. But I have to admit, Pandora works for me like white noise, not as a method of inspiration. Although sometimes I wonder if it's just because I haven't found the perfect music for what I'm writing yet.

How about you? Do you prefer silence, or do you have a hard time writing without music?

Monday, January 23, 2012

They need goals, dang it. GOALS!

Don't you hate when you read a book and you just can't seem to root for the main character? Tons of thing happen to MC! But MC just gets swept along in the current, and somehow you can't seem to care.

If it's a character that is otherwise likeable, then I'd venture to say that, nine times out of ten, the reason you're not rooting for the character is because they don't have goals. They aren't working toward something. They haven't made a plan, or they aren't making forward progress.

I know this. It's a huge pet peeve of mine, actually. Yet I still did it.

My writing group and I meet weekly, and we submit a chapter each week. I had written the first draft of a section a couple weeks ago, then went back through to do a quick edit before sending it to my group. Something wasn't right with the chapter, and I could feel it. But I couldn't immediately see the problem, and I was already past my group's deadline, solidly encroaching on too-late-to-read territory. So I sent it. And, like every week, I was reminded why a writing group is so important. They pointed out that Hope didn't have a goal for the chapter. (Her previous goal had been lost in the chaos of a major natural disaster.)

There are huge book-encompassing goals. Ones that you lay out from the very beginning. They can even be series-encompassing goals. But sometimes the goal need only last a single scene or chapter. It may not change how the chapter starts or how it ends, but the presence of or lack of a goal will definitely change how much the reader roots for your character.

But it doesn't stop there. Goals also greatly affect pacing.

Have a part in your manuscript that seems to drag? Take a look at it. It's likely because there isn't any progress being made toward the end goal. Sometimes the answer lies in helping the MC to do things that help him/her to progress toward the goal. But sometimes things genuinely need to get in the way of that goal. If that's the case, see if there's a goal the MC can have-- even if it's only a goal that will last through that one chapter or that one scene. If they are making progress toward ANY goal-- be it the main goal or not-- it will help your reader root for your MC.

You probably already know all this. But as I learned last week, a reminder is worth its weight in... words, I guess. Happy writing! May your day be fabulous, and may all your characters be full of goals.

P.S. The clone I made of myself came out looking like a featherless chicken with one eyeball. It isn't pretty. Or functional, sadly. In an effort to siphon a few more hours a week, I'm only going to post on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays for the next three weeks. So when a post doesn't go up in the wee hours tomorrow morning, know that I'm not dead. ;)

Friday, January 20, 2012

Quotes and Cookies: It's easy to not write.

"It's easy, after all, not to be a writer. Most people aren't writers and very little harm comes to them."

~Julian Barnes, Flaubert's Parrot

This quote always makes me chuckle! Plus: so true. I mean, isn't it so much easier not to write? Easier to find time to get to that housework, easier to convince yourself that the fridge has been empty long enough that you should probably go grocery shopping, easier to stay on top of everything else in your life. There's more time for family, friends, movies, books, sleep. Plus, then you don't have to cry because of something that happened to one of your characters.


But, but, but. But then there wouldn't be the joy that comes from writing. That high you get when you nail a scene. That crazy humming powerful feeling your heart when you bring a character to life. When you bring a world to life. When you create something out of nothing that feels so very real and tangible that you're constantly surprised that it isn't a real place. That they aren't real people. That the things that happened to them didn't make the news. That you can't go there or talk to them outside of your head.

And that makes it worth giving up the things in life that don't really matter. It makes it worth being more efficient and organized to not give up the things in life that really do matter.

Because who needs easy when we've got something as powerful as writing?

Recipe and Photo Credit for Secret Life of a Chef's Wife

Have a fabulous writing weekend, everyone!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Who knew we were playing with so much power?

Well, okay. Probably us. We know the power words have. I watched a youtube video months ago that showed the power words have in such a different way than I've ever thought, and it's fascinated me ever since. This video really spoke to the writer me.

It's eight minutes long. I know not everyone wants to watch a clip that long, so I'll paraphrase.

Basically, it says that the words you learn could have an impact on the colors you see. Fascinating already, right? They talk about tests they do on babies and toddlers to see how the brain processes color before language and after language, which is in itself interesting, but the part that really got me was about the Himba tribe in Northern Namibia.

The English language has eleven color categories. Reds, blues, greens, browns, yellows, etc. In the Himba tribe, they have FOUR.

Zoozu= dark colors, including red, some blues, some greens, and purple
Vapa= white and some yellows
Borou= some greens and blues
Dumbu= different greens, reds, and brown

Why is this weird? They did a test, showing participants a ring of squares where all but one of the colors were the same. When the colors were all green, with one very slightly different, English-speakers had a hard time figuring out which green was different. With the Namibia, the other green had a different NAME, so they picked it out instantly. When the ring of colors were all green with one blue, English-speakers picked it out the second it was put on the screen. Easy peasy, right? The two colors had the same name among the Himba, though, so they couldn't tell the difference.

So the words we use to categorize things really changes the way we SEE things. Isn't that fascinating? (If you want to just watch the Himba tribe part, skip to the 3 minute mark. I promise it's worth it.)

When I first saw this video, I thought, Wow! It would be so cool if someone wrote a fantasy using some of these elements! But then I realized that its implications are far greater. This talks about how we categorize colors. That by having categories to put them in, we quickly order what we see.

Characters and setting are the same way. When you read about someone or some place, your mind immediately categorizes them (not always in the right category, of course). The brain orders what it sees. And that, my friends, can be used to our advantage or our disadvantage. A reader WILL do it, whether we want them to or not. If we're aware of it when we first introduce a scene, it can be to our advantage. A few carefully chosen words can set a scene by placing it in a well-known category, which is especially helpful when it's a part you don't want bogged down by description. If we're aware of it when we're introducing a character, helping the reader put them into a category with the words we choose can get them thinking exactly what we want them to think about that character (whether it's a correct assumption on their part, or whether we want them to learn it's incorrect later).

Pretty powerful stuff, words. Kinda makes you feel like a superhero, doesn't it?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Way We Are: POV and Tense and Polls, Oh, My!

Big thanks to Sara Bulla at Live to Write for the Versatile Blogger award and sweet words. I love it! And a big thank you to Kelley Lynn at Between the Bookends for the Versatile Blogger and the Kreative Blogger awards. You girls rock my world!

And now, onto a fun poll. Just for curiosity's sake. People tend to have some pretty strong feelings about what POV and tense they write in. I'm curious as to what those are! So if you don't mind taking this handy dandy poll, we can all get a glimpse into what everyone's writing. It's like research. It'll be helpful to.... Okay, it may only be helpful in sating our curiosity. It's not like it'll change what we write or anything. :)

Feel free to elaborate in the comments!

I'll elaborate here. My current WIP is first person. Not that I have anything against third person! I quite like writing third, too. This one just demanded first. And I write past tense. Why? Because a) it feels natural and b) I'm fairly certain I couldn't pull off present tense well. Plus, I write for kids ages 8-13, and they don't embrace present tense the way the YA crowd does.

What about you?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Obligatory Pic

First off, crazy thanks to the lovely Paige Kellerman from There's More Where That Came From for the Kreative Blogger award!

And second.... I got my contract! It's kind of a thick stack of papers filled with legalese, but I'm pretty sure it says somewhere in there that if I blog, I'm somewhat obligated to post a picture of me signing it. (It's hard to say, exactly. I was too distracted by the fact that something written by lawyers had both my name and my book's name on it.) Surreal? You betcha. Made me do an embarrassingly giddy dance? Um... yeah. Does it feel like it's not really me and I'm just writing a book about someone who wrote and wrote and then one day got a contract? You could say that.

To everyone who is an aspiring author seeking traditional publication, I want to pass along a couple of things I've learned recently.
  • As far as normal goes with this kind of thing: there is no normal. Of course, there's a normal range. Two months is at the Lightning-Fast end; Six months is at the I-Might-Die-Soon end, but both are entirely normal. I have a friend who got a book deal with a publisher who wanted to open a new line and lead with her book. Speed for her book was really important to them. Her MS was already in great shape, so it went through edits, went to copy editing, and she got her book cover, all before she got her contract. Incredible, right? Yet at the same time, still within normal. The point? Expect the unexpected, because it's probably "normal."
  • There are very few agent / publisher combinations that allow for announcing the book deal before the contract is received, signed, and returned. I just happened to luck out. To everyone who has / will have to wait six months for a contract and somehow manage to keep quiet about the book deal the whole time, I bow down to you. (I'm talking one like in the olden days where they almost laid on the ground.) You will never cease to impress and amaze me.
I hope you all are loving writing you own author story! I especially hope the really frustrating parts that get you down feel like they're just happening to a character you're writing. And I hope the incredible parts bring you bucket loads of bliss. Even if they also feel like they're happening to a character you're writing. :o)

Monday, January 16, 2012

Finally! Nesting! Let's have a party!

Did you know? Have you heard? You can now do nesting comments in Blogger! That means they made a reply option after every comment. So a commentor can comment on someone else's comment, or the blog author can comment on your comments right below instead of in a massive comment at the end. This is the stuff dreams are made of, Blogger! When we Blogger bloggers aren't thinking through our next scene, we are spending our time thinking how awesome it would be if Blogger had that capability.

I feel like throwing a party in Blogger's honor! With orange rounded corner cookies with a white frosting funnily-shaped B that really looks like a padlock with the top hook off center. And orange punch. And little smiling GFC pictures covering the walls.

If you use Blogger and you haven't already done this, are you dying to know how? Well, wonder no further. Because look! Here's a handy link to the instructions.


Yes, there's a but.

Your comments have to be embedded in your page. That means they show up right below your post. So if you have your comments set to take you to another page that just shows comments, or if you have them in the little pop-up window like mine, you can't access that feature. Makes you want to cry, doesn't it?

I love my popup comment window. I like that, when commenting on a blog post, I can still see the post if I need to refer back to it while I'm commenting. Sometimes I comment about one thing in the post, then think, Wait. What was that other thing I was going to say? Then I glance at the post, think Oh, yeah! And comment on that. I don't want to have to scroll up through all the comments to remind myself about that other thing in the post! Go ahead. Call me lazy.

So now it's a toss-up. Keep my comments pop-up window? Or sacrifice it to get the nesting comments feature? (Life's full of tough decisions.)

So now I'm asking you. When you comment, which is most important to you? Having someone (either the blog author or other commentors) be able to comment on your comment, or being able to see the post in the background?

And if you use Blogger, do you already use nesting comments? And on a scale of 1-10, how freakin awesome do you think they are?

(I'd like to apologize for my excessive use of the word "comment" in all its forms in this post. Yes, I was going for a record. Did I make it?)

Friday, January 13, 2012

Quotes and Cookies: Being Good

"He who stops being better stops being good."

~Oliver Cromwell

It sounds like a quote from Confucius, doesn't it? But nope. Oliver Cromwell was a soldier, statesman, and for a bit, Lord Protector of England, Scotland, and Ireland. (And later, interestingly enough, he was posthumously dug up and beheaded.) So, yeah. This quote really had nothing at all do do with writing.

Yet it has EVERYTHING to do with writing.

Does it ever amaze you how much there is to learn when it comes to writing? I'm pretty sure you could learn FOREVER and never run out of things to improve on. Which, actually, is pretty cool. None of that reaching the top and having nowhere to go nonsense. ;) So, yay us! Have a cookie!

Photo credit and recipe from Secret Life of a Chef's Wife

Just make sure to lick your fingers when you're done, before you put those fingers back on your keyboard. Don't say I didn't warn you.

Happy Friday the 13th, Everyone! Especially if you're suffering from paraskavedekatriaphobia. (That's the fear of Friday the 13th. And if you are, you should definitely take another cookie.)(I'm kind of partial to the 13th. The year 13... the day 13... especially when they also fall on the ninth month... ;))

Thursday, January 12, 2012

All Addictions Are Not Created Equal

I've heard that when you're trying to rid yourself of an addiction, a lot of times you just end up replacing it with another.

So, it got me thinking that maybe I'd like to trade in my Diet Coke addiction for an exercise addiction. Because you know: healthy.

But then I got thinking. My Diet Coke addiction takes almost NO time each day. An exercise addiction would take an hour or two every day. So then I got thinking that maybe I shouldn't be coveting other addictions, and maybe I should just be happy with what I have.

Ooo. Unless I could get a laundry folding addiction. Cuz dang. I could really use that.

In all reality, though, I'm shooting for swapping my Diet Coke addiction for an exercise addiction. :)

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Way We Are: Countering Writer's Block

When I was a kid and I first heard about writer's block, I always assumed it was some mystical thing that came over writers that stopped them from writing. Something like how vertigo can stop someone from piloting a plane. Something that happened to them that they really couldn't control.

Maybe I just figured that authors had a magical something that allowed stories to flow from their brain on command, and that writer's block stopped the flow. (Oh my gosh. Wouldn't that be so cool?)(No, not the writer's block. That's almost never cool. The having stories flow freely from our brains.) Since then, of course, I learned that writer's block is basically not having thought through your story enough. Not having figured out the next part or the next scene. That it isn't just a mystical thing. (I picture it as a reinforced steel wall in my mind, behind which all answers to my plot reside. I have to beat and beat and beat at it to punch a hole big enough to grab out a piece of the plot, then I have to beat and beat and beat to get the next part.)

Getting those stories to flow takes so much work! But beyond that, it takes your mind being in a creative place-- mentally and / or physically. When you are putting in the time and the work and the effort to try to figure out the next scene or that next plot turn, or how to make that climax more spectacular, or one of the million little things you have to figure out along the way, there are things that can definitely trigger your creativity more. Things you see or hear or experience or places you can be that help you unblock writer's block.

So what's your go-to? What creative triggers
can you count on to help you get past writer's block?

For me, it's walking. Folding clothes. Looking at pictures of fascinating scenery. Watching movie trailers. Listening to my daughter's wildly fantastical stories. That last few moments when I'm lying in bed before I fall asleep.

Now it's your turn! Share what works for you-- it just might work for someone else, too.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

I've Got a Theory: How to send an inner editor on vacation

Many thanks to LisaAnn at Kicked, Cornered, Bitten and Chased for the Versatile Blogger award and the kind words. Thanks, Lisa!

I've gone through a few different inner editors. I even came up with a theory about how you can fire your inner editor. I still wholeheartedly believe in that theory. And now I've got another theory to go along with it.

When I first started writing, my inner editor was Miss Stakeless. She was tough. She made me get my wording close to perfect the first time. She made me stop and think about every single sentence as I wrote it. She made me vary my sentence structures as I went. Why? Because she knew that in my revision process, wording didn't tend to change much. I hate hate hated it. But I totally understand why she did it.

But I still jumped for joy the day I was able to fire her and to hire Auntie Em. Because she made cookies in the brain kitchens while I worked, and I just happen to work really well to the smell of baking cookies. And she'd only check on me every 9-11 minutes. I was sad to see her go, but she still has a standing offer to take over my brain kitchens anytime she wants.

She left because I finally cajoled my dream inner editor to move in. (Yes, there was much cheering. The brain dudes in my army even hosted a party in the streets of my brain.) His name is Dood, and he's a surfer. I really, really loved getting Dood, because he is perfectly willing to surf while I write, and not check in very often. Yet he drops everything and helps non-stop when I'm ready to go to editing mode. He's quite the dream.

My problem? I went into a very intense editing mode for many months. Then I drafted a new book for a bit, then I went into an even more scrutinizing edit.

So when I was ready to start TTBB Book 2, I was afraid. Afraid that since I had been in such a strong editing/revising mode, and not a drafting mode, I was going to start drafting and find that Dood had moved out, and Miss Stakeless had taken his place again. But, I plunged in anyway, and guess what I found? My revising skills had increased enough during the intense editing phase that Dood felt he could take a vacation while I drafted! Apparently, he has enough faith in me. Not faith that I won't mess up the draft. I think he's pretty sure that's a good possibility. He's got faith that when he returns, WE CAN FIX IT.

Ahh. Bliss.

So here's my theory: Delving deep into the revision caves isn't going to cripple your ability to write. You may feel a little rusty, but spending so much time on revisions actually makes you a better writer. And makes your inner editor more confident in your abilities.

Do you find that to be the case? Or have you just not had the heart (or the guts) to fire that one inner editor that thinks (s)he needs to rap your knuckles every time you make a mistake? (If that's the case, I really feel for you. I don't know about you, but my knuckles are pansies. There should probably be a Fire Your Inner Editor Support Group.)

Monday, January 9, 2012

Mojo Hide and Seek

I spent a good deal of last year editing and revising and NOT DRAFTING. Editing so intensely that I couldn't even read a book without scrutinizing every sentence. Analyzing every choice. Evaluating every bit of thought and dialogue. It was early September; I had just gotten ready to query TTBB, and I was about to start writing my next novel. But as far as taking a plot in my head and figuring out how to start and what to reveal in the opening and how to order a scene or multiple scenes and how to develop a character, I was at a loss.

I didn't remember how I got the knowledge to do those things in the other books I wrote, but wherever it came from... it was lost. I couldn't remember how to combine all those elements into a story.

I texted my sister, "I forgot how to write!"

She texted back, "It's just like riding a bike, right?"

I replied, "I may remember how to pedal the bike, but I can’t remember how to steer. I keep crashing into bushes and my legs are all scratched up. So is my bike. And the bushes. And if I’m being honest, the sidewalk. And that poor kid walking on it."

I find it oddly comforting to know that everyone crashes now and again.

But just because your mojo goes into hiding, doesn't mean it can't be found. Even if it's hiding REALLY WELL.

Peggy's Guide to Getting Your Mojo Back

Write total crap. 

Somehow convince yourself that you aren't trying to get this first draft as shiny as that manuscript you've taken through a million revisions. All that matters is that you continue.

No matter how much those words stink, power through it. Keep writing even if every single bit of it comes out crap. Keep writing even though it gets really really hard and all you want to do is stop, throw the laptop out the window, walk away, decide you are done, quit. Because do you know what that means? That you're about to the crest of that incredibly high mountain! You're almost there! And, well, yeah... It will get harder before it gets easier. And you'll have to push a little harder even when you think there is absolutely no strength left in you to give. But you'll crest that mountain.

And then from there... Oh my gosh, from THERE, you hit the downhill part. The part where you start going so fast, you don't think you can ever stop. Possibly not even to sleep. (And then as long as you mind the occasional rock, tree, ditch, river, or crevice, you've got it made. :))

Have you ever lost your mojo? (I'm not the only one who had to play hide-and-seek with my mojo, right?) How did you get it back?

Friday, January 6, 2012

Quotes and Cookies: Fail.

I just got the Kreativ Blogger award! (Don't you just love how creative that spelling is? :)) Thank you so much, Commutinggirl!

"If you're not failing every now and again, it's a sign
you're not doing anything very innovative."

~Woody Allen

Failed at anything lately? Good for you!! Give yourself a pat on the back, grab a cookie (make sure you do it in that order, lest ye get powdered sugar on your back), and go out and try something else innovative.

Photo Credit and Recipe Link from Secret Life of a Chef's Wife

Have a fabulous Friday and an amazing weekend, everyone!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Top Names

First off, I just have to say that the comments from yesterday's post were some of my favorites EVER. Those were some incredible WIP Spark stories! Some of them made me laugh, some gave me chills, and some made me go Whoa. That is so cool. All of them put me in awe. I loved them!

At the very beginning stages of a manuscript, I heard the name "Livi," and thought, Oh! That fits my MC perfectly! (Turns out it didn't, actually, and half-way through the draft, it felt like I was typing someone else's name every time I typed it, but that's different story.) About the time I finished the draft (and still hadn't come up with an alternate name), the end-of-the-year lists came out for most popular baby names. Guess which one had become number one over the course of that year?


To which the Change it! Change it! Change it! voices got louder. (Which may or may not have been because her name just really needed to be changed.)

I guess there's two ways of looking at the popular name lists.

1. A lot of people LOVE seeing their name (or even the name of someone they know) in print. If you have a character with their name, chances are they are going to relate the character that much more. If you choose a popular name, there's going to be a lot more people experiencing that. (And with the speed of publishing, those kids who were born this year... might be old enough to read when your book comes out. ;))

2. The name stands out less. It's not unique. It's not different. It's not as easy to remember. (And if you're writing first person, the MC's name is going to be harder to remember by is nature.)

So if you are choosing TO name a character with a popular name or of you're choosing NOT to name a character with a popular name, here's the list in all it's glory, taken from msn's site (where they talk about patterns a lot more, if you're interested).

Top Baby Names of 2011


And just because I found it interesting, this bit from the article: "This year it’s all about two letters: A and N. For girls, the top five names all end with –a: Sophia, Emma, Isabella, Olivia and Ava. On the boys’ side, the –n ending ruled five of the top eight: Aiden, Jackson, Mason, Jayden and Ethan."

Do you choose names more on the popular side, or less?

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The way We Are: That WIP Spark

Think back to when you got that very first spark of an idea that later became your Work in Progress (the one you're either drafting or editing right now). Maybe it was the way someone crinkled their eyebrows, or the way a branch grew out of a tree funny, or a movie trailer, or a picture that you saw. That first little interesting thing that stuck with you and kept you thinking about it, until it became that first idea of the thousands of ideas you'd need to write a book.

We're curious to know what that initial spark is! (And by "we," I mean me and everyone who reads the comments. No, I'm not feeling all multiple-personality this morning. ;)) Usually that initial spark is such a small thing. I find it fascinating to hear what it was that inspired an entire book. Or even an entire series!

My spark came from looking at clouds from the wrong direction. I had been to Disney World with my husband and kids, and I had a window seat for our three-hour flight home. I swear the entire country was cloudy that day! I stared at the clouds the whole time, mesmerized.

Later, they became a band of compressed air that was invisible and deadly, named the Bomb's Breath.

What was your WIP spark?

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Things Successful People Do

So... New year... If you didn't set resolutions, it's probably because you already have goals in the works, right?

And you really want to achieve your goals so you can feel like this guy. Like you're standing at the top of a mountain, cheering because you made it.

But really, those goals are hard! And they're making you feel more like this guy. Like they're so tough, you're barely hanging on.

I recently came across an article that told about the nine things successful people do, and it was so fabulous, I wanted to share! (You can find the full article here.) I was surprised at how many great things it suggested that will help you meet all those New Year's Resolutions / Non-New Years GOALS you made. :)

If you want to read the article in the words of the professional, definitely click on the link. It's worth it. If you are looking for the short summary from a less-than professional, read on.

1. Get specific. We all know this, right? "Write ___ words a day / week" is a billion times better than just "write more," right?

2. Seize the moment to act on your goals. This one basically means to figure out WHEN you are going to accomplish your goals. The article says that when you plan the when, it helps your brain to "detect and seize the opportunity when it arises, increasing your chances of success by roughly 300%." Three hundred percent! Pretty darn impressive if you ask me.

3. Know exactly how far you have left to go. "If you don't know how well you are doing, you can't adjust your behavior or your strategies accordingly." 'Nuff said.

4. Be a realistic optimist. Think positive, but don't assume it's going to be easy! Goals take time, planning, effort, and persistence. Plan, lest ye likely fail.

5. Focus on getting better, rather than being good. I'm going to quote directly from the article here, because it's so good. "Believing you have the ability to reach your goals is important, but so is believing you can get the ability. Many of us believe that our intelligence, our personality, and our physical aptitudes are fixed — that no matter what we do, we won't improve. As a result, we focus on goals that are all about proving ourselves, rather than developing and acquiring new skills."

It says if you accept that you can change and make better choices, then you can reach your fullest potential. And you can enjoy the journey of getting there better! I really love this one. And I totally agree with it. We can GET those abilities we need! All it takes is... you know... a lot of work.
6. Have grit. This one makes me giggle, because people just don't use the word grit anymore. Basically, grit is the willingness to persist. Even when things get really, really hard. Which, come on! This is definitely a profession where you need a lot of grit!

"The good news is, if you aren't particularly gritty now, there is something you can do about it. People who lack grit more often than not believe that they just don't have the innate abilities successful people have. If that describes your own thinking .... well, there's no way to put this nicely: you are wrong."

So there you go. We can ALL get more grit. We can have a grit-a-thon.

7. Build your willpower muscle. This is another one I LOVE. You exercise your muscles, they get stronger. You exercise your willpower muscle, it gets stronger. Stronger willpower muscle = better chance at reaching goals.

So how do you make it stronger? Whenever there's something in your goal you'd rather not do... do it anyway! Even if it's just for a teeny little while. It'll make that muscle stronger. It will be hard when you first start, of course, but every little thing that you do to make that willpower muscle stronger will pay off. It'll make it all that much easier. Then you can take on the next part of your goal, and with the increased strength in your willpower muscle, it'll be easier.

8. Don't tempt fate. The article said that many people are overly-confident in their ability to resist temptation. So don't go there! Don't make it harder than it already is! Plus, if you can help it, don't take on two really challenging tasks at one time. Get strong in one first, then take on the second.

9. Focus on what you will do, not what you won't do. Basically, if you have a bad habit you're trying to get rid of, focus on what you're replacing it with, instead of the bad habit itself. In other words, thinking, "How should this scene play out that I'm writing?" works a ton better than "I'm not going to click on twitter. I'm not going to click on twitter. I'm not going to click on twitter."

So there you go. Nine things successful people do that I totally needed to hear.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Resolutions! Oh, wait.... let's do GOALS. No! RESOLUTIONS!!

First off, HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! I hope yours was fabulous! We spent ours the way tradition dictates: eating homemade pizza, spending hours with a plethora of board games, and ringing in the new year by clinking fancy glasses filled with sparkling juice.

I heart balloons. I heart the color red.
Is anyone else weirded out by the fact that there are no balloon strings?

I'm a goal setter. I have lots and lots of lists with goals on them that have nothing whatsoever to do with January first. A lot of years I don't even make resolutions, because I already have plenty of goals laid out.

This year, though, I feel oddly motivated. Maybe it's because I read so many of all your blogs that had New Year's Resolutions listed. And you're all driving by, cheering and laughing and eating tasty appetizers on that bandwagon, so I decided to jump on, too.

Without further ado, here they are!

1. Write five books this year.
2. Edit six books this year.
3. Read 365 books this year; 50 of them on writing.
4. Read 40 blogs on writing a day.

Awesome goals, right?

Hahahaha! I almost killed myself just writing those goals down! SO not remotely going to happen. But because it's funny, a comic just for writers:

Okay, okay, we'll get down to the real resolutions / goals.

1. Write Every Day. I've never been a write-every-day kind of girl. I write better in chunks, so I tend to work through all the responsibilities I have, clear my plate, then write in a chunk. I KNOW, however, that when I write daily, my story flows better. I'm more efficient when I do write. And that's a pretty valuable thing. I have a calendar taped to my desk where I can mark every day I write. A very visual representation. Now I'm not saying this is a year-long goal. I am currently 10,000 words into the sequel to TTBB. At some point, edits will need to take over my world, and writing every day may no longer be possible. But whenever I'm drafting, it's my goal to work on it EVERY DAY. There. Now that that's set in stone and there is NO CHANGING IT, we can move on to number two.

2. Make a Freakishly Fabulous Presentation to Present at Writers' Conferences. Subject matter to be decided. And soon, hopefully. Hmm.... Maybe I should have made Figuring Out Subject Matter one of my resolutions.... There's just so many options! What should I choose? (That wasn't a rhetorical question. ;) If you feel so inclined to give a suggestion, I'll feel so inclined to love you forever.)

3. Make THROUGH THE BOMB'S BREATH Beyond Awesome. I get my first editorial letter this month. [Insert giddy laughter.] My first round of edits are due in April, and copy edits are due in August. During that time, I WILL MAKE IT ROCK. Whew! Glad that's set in stone now, too, because that means it will happen, right?

So what about you? Are you a resolution-maker, or do you purposely make goals that don't start on January first? (You rebel, you.)(Plus, remember? There's tasty appetizers on that bandwagon.)