2013 Resolution Update — How did I do?

Before I dive into drafting my 2014 Resolutions, I wanted to take a look back at 2013 and see how I did on my last year’s resolutions — or how soon I abandoned them.

To be fair to myself, I actually did quite well on my goals.

1.  Keep a monthly word-count calendar.
Done! This was not a difficult task because I love creating spreadsheets and tracking incremental progress toward a goal. Especially if there are charts involved. Man, I love charts. This year, I think I’m going to use a different type of spreadsheet. This makes my inner accountant ridiculously excited. I had a goal of writing 180,000 words in 2014 and I came fairly close to that with 156,000 words. I’ll do a separate entry dissecting what I wrote last year and what I learned from that.

2.  Finish and edit Trust Me, I’m a Lawyer
Done! It started as a novella. It ended about 120,000 words later. The the painful editing began. Seriously, this book convinced me to learn more about plotting, outlining, writing the ending first — all sorts of tactics that might have helped me rein in my out-of-control story.

3.  Finish draft of PDT
OK, this didn’t happen. I do have a full outline for it, and I’ve written about 10 chapters. I will get back to this standalone romantic suspense novel. But probably not right away. I do love the characters and the premise. Maybe I’ll add this to the 2014 to-do list.

4.  Finish You, Again
Again, this didn’t happen. Once I realized that I need to rewrite the first three chapters, I lost some steam on this. But I do know where I’m going and have a good idea how to get there. It may just take a heavy revision of the 76,000 words written.

5.  Submit something.
Done! And then, done again! I submitted a chapter to a contest, got great feedback and was invited to submit a partial manuscript. And then the rest of the manuscript. That went out on December 1, so this item can be crossed off my resolutions list.

6.  Professional development
Still not networking with other authors, except online. I still haven’t joined RWA or attended a conference. I do have an awesome critique partner and nobody listens to more writing podcasts. (Nobody! I have a long commute.) But I would like to do more in real life, not just online. This will go on the 2014 list.

7.  Write something in first-person POV
Done! Sort of! My new project is in first-person POV and I’m loving it. It’s been really fun and so far, I have received some nice comments about my voice in this WIP. It’s a little more than half-finished.

8.  Outlines for next WIPs
I have many more outlines filed away now — including a couple standalone novels, two in the Trust Me series, and one and a half in a new series of novellas. I did the outline for my first-person WIP in a spreadsheet, so you know I loved that. I had intended to write the outlines for books two and three that follow Trust Me. I have a fairly sketchy one for Jude, but I still have no idea why there’s a dead body in the first chapter of Fiona’s book. But I do have books 4 and 5 outlined.

So overall, I’m pretty happy with how well I stuck with my 2013 goals. I think doing a monthly recap helps me keep on track, so I’ll keep doing that in 2014. Next up, what do I want to do in 2014? It’s time to make that commitment.

From the desert to the beach

Mexico beach BW 019
Mexico, 2008.

I just spent five hours of my day driving and am too wiped out to write, so please enjoy another vacation photo from the archives. The marathon commute wasn’t too much of a chore because I love road trips and also because I caught up on my favorite writing podcasts — Storywonk Sunday, I Should Be Writing, Writing Excuses, and The Roundtable Podcast. It was a lot of writing talk, so I figure it was time (and fuel) well spent.

Now to get back to actually writing … soon.

Soundtracks

    Taking the advice of Lani Diane Rich, whose Storywonk podcast is my new favorite discovery, I am putting together a soundtrack for my current WIP. She recommends a playlist of music that is new, so you haven’t already associated memories with the songs. The soundtrack should become an auditory signal to your muse, allowing you to easily slip into that creative state where your characters speak to you.
    Rather than go on a major spending spree on iTunes (yet), I’ve managed to come up with a playlist to start with. As I started compiling the songs, I realized that the titles were, well, rather appropriate to my setting and story.
    The story, a romantic suspense, takes place in Minnesota in the middle of winter. The two main characters are competing newspaper reporters who return to their hometown to cover a murder trial.
    And here are the first 10 songs on my playlist:

  1. Ice Melts – Matt & Kim
  2. White Sky – Vampire Weekend
  3. Lies – Peter Bjorn & John
  4. Someone’s Missing – MGMT
  5. Miss Murder – A.F.I.
  6. Cold Hands – A.F.I.
  7. Anything Can Happen – The Finn Brothers
  8. Home Is Where Your Heart Is – The Sounds
  9. Antarctica – The Weepies
  10. The Interview – A.F.I.

    Clearly, my mind has already prepared for a cold winter setting. For good measure, I threw in Small Town Romance, by Richard Thompson, and When I Write The Book, by Nick Lowe, among about two dozen other songs. I’m happy with the list, but may still tinker with it a little. And a short shopping spree at iTunes might still be in the works. 

Podcasts, Or The Reason I Just Missed My Exit

    Oh, how I love them. As I wait for my iPod to sync with all of my new podcasts, I thought I might talk about a few of my favorites.

    Writing
    I love all things bookish – reading and writing – so podcasts about books or writing are tops on this list. My favorite writing podcasts are, in no particular order:
Writing Excuses – No, I do not read or write fantasy or sci-fi. But these writers are a treasure trove of good advice, no matter the genre. I love that it’s concise, 15 minute long, so it doesn’t get bogged down in banter. If the topic starts to stray, they “can of worm” it and save it for another podcast. They’re funny, intelligent, and great guides for beginning writers. They’ve also broadened my reading list with their recommendations, so actually, I should revise that first sentence to say, “I used to not read fantasy or SF.”
I Should Be Writing – Mur Lafferty’s podcast is another writing podcast that inspires me to keep writing. She’s a writer who talks about how damn hard it is to write sometimes and the many ways there are to get discouraged. But she also keeps writing – no matter how hard it is. And she does great interviews. I appreciate that she is sharing her own writing journey with the rest of us.
Packing Heat – Unfortunately, no longer updated, but author Jordan Castillo Price put together 140+ podcasts that kick ass. Ignore the part where it says it’s for wannabe erotic fiction writers. This is just plain awesome advice for all writers. She talks about craft (dialogue, description, plotting, character arcs), business (the ins and outs of publishing, book covers, marketing, online presence), and many other helpful bits of advice (new software for writing, systems for backing up and versioning drafts, getting over writers block). Yes, she writes m/m erotic thrillers, which may not be your cup of tea. Get over it. She’s a damn good writer and has much wisdom to share. And it never hurts to have a few more synonyms for cock, right?

    News
    I am a total news junkie. It’s a sickness. My news podcasts include:  BBC Documentaries, BBC Africa, NPR’s Planet Money, In Our Time with Melvyn Bragg, World Affairs Council of Northern California, and the International Spy Museum SpyCast. To name a few.

    Other
How to categorize the others?
The Moth – Storytelling at its finest.
This American Life – I really don’t have to explain this to you, do I?
The Reading and Writing Podcast – Maybe this should go up under writing, but I tend to think of it more as a book podcast. Good interviews with authors, including Lee Childs, Carla Neggers and many others.
NPR’s Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me! – Makes me laugh in traffic. Other drivers fear me. As they should.

    What podcasts can you recommend? Have you considered starting one? What would it be about?