Assessing Your Goals: The Halfway Mark

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Believe it or not, we are halfway through the year, which makes this week an excellent time for you to sit down and take a few minutes to assess where you stand in terms of your goals for 2015. How is your writing going? Have you accomplished what you wanted to in the last six months? What sort of changes would you like to make moving forward?

The idea of this sort of check in is not to make you feel terrible if you haven’t made as much progress as you’d like. It’s really just a touchstone, a moment to readjust your course and to remind yourself why you’re doing what you do. With that in mind, I’d like you to ask yourself a few questions while you’re checking in with your word count or the number of query letters you sent into the world:

Are my goals challenging but reasonable? Make sure you’ve given yourself something to reach for, but don’t set the bar so high that you need to don your cape and take flight in order to reach it. Everyone faces some failures, but a steady diet can be discouraging so you want to make at least a portion of your goal something that you absolutely know you can do.

Are my goals something over which I have control? You want your goals to be actionable. It’s great to say you plan to have a three-book publishing deal by the end of the year, but not every variable in that particular milestone is something you can make happen. Luck and timing also come into play. Instead break that goal down into the parts that are entirely up to you: Revising your manuscript, sending query letters, working on your social media platform to show agents and editors that you plan to be an active participant in marketing your work.

Am I getting in my own way? Self-sabotage can creep into your life when you least expect it. Sometimes it’s simply procrastination, but others it’s allowing impatience or frustration to convince you to make an impulsive choice that is contrary to your carefully laid out plan for your career. This could be anything from signing a suspect contract with a small, unknown publisher just to get your book out there, to giving up on your social media efforts after just a few weeks because you feel you aren’t making inroads. Try to pause and determine if your impulsive decision is more likely to help or hinder in the long run.

Don’t forget to look forward, too. It’s great to see how far you’ve come and whether you’re working well toward your goals for the year, but it’s also an excellent time to assess those goals for the next six months. Is there anything you want to change? To scale back or ramp up? Maybe an opportunity has come along and you’d like to veer off on a tangent. Build these things into your plan for the future. The best goals are flexible, after all.

Happy writing, and good luck ticking off those goals between now and the end of the year!

Friday Links

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Happy Friday, everyone! I am actually off to Denver for a conference, but I’ve left you some links to entertain you in my absence. Wishing you all a wonderful weekend, including good progress on your latest writing project and a few hours with a fabulous summer read. Enjoy!

Increase Writing Productivity: 7 Tools — I can’t attest to the quality of most of these, but for those of you who find gadgets help you get down to it, they could be helpful.

The Best Books about Books – Pretty much what it sounds like. I’m a big fan of books about books, so I’m looking forward to checking these out.

On Getting Lost – Dani Shapiro on finding the next book.

All You Have Is What You Remember: The Millions Interviews James Salter – In memory of the author, who died the past week. The interview is a reprint, but no less interesting as a result.

The Holy City: Charleston, A Remembrance – A moving look at the city by someone who knows and loves it.

Friday Links

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TGIF! I mean that in so many ways, the most pressing one being that I intend to pack up my books and my laptop and go work somewhere cool this weekend. The HVAC for my entire condo complex died a few months back, and while the HOA finally approved the money to go ahead with the repairs, they have not actually fixed anything yet. Which… hasn’t been so helpful this week when it’s hit 90 degrees every day.

There’s no denying it’s summer in my neck of the woods. Have you all started your summer reading yet? If you’re still searching for some great reads, I have a few ideas for you in this week’s links, and there will be more coming up in the days ahead. I hope they inspire you to get some writing of your own done, as well. Enjoy!

The List: 100 Great Science Fiction Stories by Women – Some wonderful recs, including a bunch that are available online.

Why Startups Love Moleskines – Vindication for those of you who like to take notes by hand. (And maybe a mild suggestion for everyone tapping away on their keyboards in the audience of presentations.)

‘Mortal Instruments’ Creator Reveals How Female Authors Can Be ‘Dehumanized’ By Their Own Fandom – Male authors, too, but I think it’s a more volatile situation for women. I have my own issues with Cassandra Clare, but this is a really thoughtful and disturbing look at something I’ve noticed happening more and more on social media.

The Places We Read – A look at how location can affect our reading choices and experiences.

Peek Over Our Shoulders – A juicy, long list of the books various Book Riot staff members are reading (as of yesterday).

Summer Binge Reading

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Half the planet is in summer reading mode, even if summer won’t officially begin for a few more days. But summer reading means different things to different people. Some think about light beach reads enjoyed in the sunshine, others seek to catch up on the hefty titles they couldn’t spare the attention for during the winter months, and still other readers care less about what they’re reading and more about binging on books in general.

For those of you intent on cruising through a bunch of your TBR pile, I have wonderful news: not one, but two readathons on the horizon.

What’s a readathon you ask? It’s pretty much what you think it is. Organizers set their own rules for each specific event, but the basics remain the same. A time period is set, and readers dedicate themselves to reading as much as they can between the start time and the finish time. Some events challenge you to read for twenty-four hours straight. Others ask you to set goals for what percent of the time period you will spend with your nose in a book. But all readathons allow you to schedule a book binge with a clear conscience, because while that readathon is taking place, you’re supposed to be reading.

Regular readers of this blog might recall that I became a readathon convert last fall with the 24 in 48 Readathon in November. I spend so much of my reading time focused on client work or submissions that it’s not always easy to get around to those published books lining my shelves and piling up next to my bed. I love the idea of setting aside a weekend with the expressed purpose of reading for myself. And I am definitely overdue for a bit of personal reading time.

So if you’re feeling the need to read, check out one or both of these upcoming readathon events. I’m already signed up for 24 in 48 in July.

The Tenth Annual 48-Hour Book Challenge

This challenge runs from Friday, June 19th, through Sunday, June 21st. You choose when to start and finish within that three-day time frame, but you much pick a 48-hour window — Friday at noon to Sunday at noon, for example. Within your chosen 48 hours, you decide how many reading hours you want to shoot for, and the Mother Reader blog, host for this event, is providing prizes for top readers in various time frames. And even if you don’t win, you’ll get tons of reading done! Complete rules and instructions are up at the site. This sounds like a fun challenge and I only wish I could take the time to participate this weekend.

24 in 48 Readathon

This challenge runs from 12:00 a.m. on Saturday, July 11th, until 11:59pm on Sunday, July 12th. The premise is simple: read for 24 hours total, spread out however you wish, during the 48 hours of the challenge. This leaves plenty of time for things like sleeping and stretching and grabbing a bite to eat. I participated in last November’s challenge and had a great time. Rachel Manwill, the force behind the challenge, sets up fun check-in tasks and prizes throughout the weekend, and everyone is great about sharing what they’re reading and how they’re progressing on social media. As I said above, I’m already on board for this one.

 

 

Friday Links

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Happy Friday, everyone! My week has been quite busy, but overall very good, and part of that has been that I feel rather inspired and energized by a couple of things that happened. Unfortunately, I cannot talk about them. One of the problems of this job is not all news is suitable for public consumption.

However, I do have links to share, and I sincerely hope that they inspire you and leave you feeling energized and anxious to write. At the very least, I hope they make you take a fresh look at certain aspects of writing and of reading, because I find a new perspective can be excellent for generating new ideas. Enjoy, and happy writing!

“Let’s Talk Genre:” Neil Gaiman and Kazuo Ishiguro in Conversation – A great conversation inspired by the release of Ishiguro’s The Buried Giant, and the genre-related chatter that followed.

On Writing Diverse Characters… And Moving Past Passive Aggression – An intelligent, informative blog post about what diverse characters should and should not look like.

Ten Commandments of Writing – An interview with Karen E. Bender in which she shares her wisdom.

Artist & Thief – Author Maggie Stiefvater shares an excerpt from her SCBWI Keynote speech.

The Power of Female Friendship – In the wake of the discussion of how unlikely books featuring females are to win major prizes, Michele Filgate offers this short-but-intriguing list of books about women and their friendships.

Playwright Branden Jacob-Jenkins on His First Time

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As part of their “first time” series, The Paris Review posted this wonderful video of playwright Branden Jacob-Jenkins and his experiences writing his very first play, where he addresses race and black theater culture, touching on subjects that traditionally make people very uncomfortable. I love how he traces his own thought process and the realizations he came to as he wrote and eventually mounted this challenging work.

Friday Links

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This has been the sort of jam-packed week where I actually had to do a double take to make sure it was really Friday. But rest assured, I am here with links to get your weekend started in style. I hope you’ve got a little bit of time set aside to write, or at least for a good book. Personally, I’ve got a huge backlog of work reading, so I’m afraid books-with-covers need to wait a bit, which is especially difficult this time of year when there seem to be so many fun new things hitting bookstores.

But you are here for links, so without further ado, I give you this week’s selection. I hope they inspire and entertain you. Enjoy!

Giving Voice – An interview with Jacqueline Woodson, who has been named the new Young People’s Poet Laureate.

C.S. Lewis on Why We Read – Some great thoughts on the effects that books have on us.

How to Analyze Your Bad Writing Habits–and Break Free from Them – Good advice from author and editor Lexa Hillyer.

Judy Blume on Writing, Twitter, and Vaginas – Yes, really. A fun interview with Jami Attenberg.

Haunting Houses: An Interview with Angela Flournoy – A intriguing discussion about her book, THE TURNER HOUSE, and the roles of place and history in the story.

Happy Book Day!

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Wishing a very happy book birthday to Nalini Singh, whose SHARDS OF HOPE, the next installment in the Psy/Changeling series, releases today!

Awakening wounded in a darkened cell, their psychic abilities blocked, Aden and Zaira know they must escape. But when the lethal soldiers break free from their mysterious prison, they find themselves in a harsh, inhospitable landscape far from civilization. Their only hope for survival is to make it to the hidden home of a predatory changeling pack that doesn’t welcome outsiders.

And they must survive. A shadowy enemy has put a target on the back of the Arrow squad, an enemy that cannot be permitted to succeed in its deadly campaign. Aden will cross any line to keep his people safe for this new future, where even an assassin might have hope of a life beyond blood and death and pain. Zaira has no such hope. She knows she’s too damaged to return from the abyss. Her driving goal is to protect Aden, protect the only person who has ever come back for her no matter what. This time, even Aden’s passionate determination may not be enough—because the emotionless chill of Silence existed for a reason. For the violent, and the insane, and the irreparably broken…like Zaira.

 

Friday Links

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TGIF! We’re winding down the month of May, and per usual, I’m not sure quite where time is flying. Did you set any goals for your month? If so, I hope you nailed them. If not, maybe take a moment this weekend to decide what you want to accomplish with your writing in June. Sometimes a mini goal can be a great way to spur yourself on and enhance your productivity, or even come up with a wonderful new idea. A month-long goal needn’t be anything as ambitious as drafting a 50,000-word novel, though of course if that’s what gets you in front of your keyboard, I say go for it!

But first, of course, I bring you this week’s links. They involve quite a few different writerly points of view, and I hope you find them interesting and inspirational. Whatever you’re up to this weekend, good luck with your writing and/or reading. Enjoy!

Shadowing Jason Matthews, the Ex-Spy Whose Cover Identity Is Author – What writing is like for a former CIA agent who has turned novelist.

Books About Women Don’t Win Big Awards: Some Data – A blog post from author Nicola Griffith where she assembles a few depressing statistics.

Horror Stories Are Love Stories – An interview with author Kelly Link.

Writers Read – A wonderful blog where each post features an author talking about what they’ve been reading lately.

Christine Schutt’s First Time – Another in The Paris Review series, and wonderful in the way it illustrates how much time and persistence it can take to achieve your writing goals.

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