Beautiful People Link-up: Resolutions & Goals

During Oct-Nov-Dec last year, I participated in the link-up Beautiful Books, created by by Sky of Further Up, Further In and Cait of Paper Fury. The rest of the year, they host the meme Beautiful People, which consists of ten questions about writing and works-in-progress.

This month, the meme is focusing on resolutions and goals.

1. What were your writing achievements last year?
I had the first book, GUARDED, in my series beta-read, then rewrote the manuscript based on the feedback. I also won NaNoWriMo2015 with 65k toward book 3.

2. Tell us about your top priority writing project for this year?
My top priority this year is querying GUARDED. Right now that means adding new chapters from a second POV, revising said chapters, revising the whole MS for continuity, then doing a couple rounds of polishing. I’m not intimidated at all…

3. List 5 areas you’d like to work the hardest to improve this year.
No. 1 – Improve my copyediting skills. I’m currently taking a course through Writers Digest, so I’m on my way with that one.

No. 2 – Expand on skills developed in 2015. I spent a lot of last year learning how to write a fuller narrative. It still feels a little foreign at times, so I’m hoping I’ll be able to set those skills more firmly this year.

No. 3 – Improve world-building capabilities. I feel like I’m always battling the info dump or not providing enough details in my settings. Here’s to hoping I find the right balance.

No. 4 – Keep my mind open to new, creative possibilities. This might seem weird, but sometimes I get so focused on where I think the story should go that my mind closes off to all the awesome things my characters/world are capable of. [And now it’s time to sound like a nutter.] They’ve spoken to me a lot this past year, revealing things I didn’t even know existed inside my own fictional universe. I know there are plenty more secrets to discover, so I hope I’m open enough to listen.

No. 5 – Stop letting my PTSD get in the way. Though I’ve made some progress, I still have a ways to go. I have this stupid thing that happens whenever a trigger gets hit: I give up. Well, to me it feels like I give up. In reality, it’s more that I’ve fallen into a deep, dark well, and I have to claw my way up the slimy, slippery stone walls to get back to working order. Depending on which trigger is hit or the condition of my support system, it can take hours or days or even weeks.

4. Are you participating in any writing challenges?
I try to participate in the monthly twitter writing challenge where you’re to write at least 500 words a day. To learn more about the challenge or to participate yourself, visit

And of course I’ll be participating in NaNoWriMo2016! I’m a big advocate for the vomit draft, so NaNo is right up my alley. I’ll be drafting book 4 of my YA Fantasy series this year.

5. What’s your critique partner/beta reader situation like and do you have plans to expand this year?
Right now, I have a couple brilliant writers who read my stuff when it becomes available. I’m not sure what the future brings in terms of my living/work situation. If I had my way, I would spend my days working on my books, reading/critiquing other manuscripts, or studying the industry. Hopefully one day I’ll get to that point. Then again… adulting…

6. Do you have plans to read any writer-related books this year? Or are there specific books you want to read for research.
I have a few books that I return to on a regular basis: The Kickass Writer: 1001 Ways to Write Great Fiction, Get Published, and Earn Your Audience by Chuck Wendig, The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide To Character Expression by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglist, and Save The Cat!: The Last Book On Screenwriting You’ll Ever Need by Blake Snyder.

7. Pick one character you want to get to know better, and how are you going to achieve this?
Piper Saunders. She’s the protagonist for book 2 in my YA Fantasy series. Her story is the first I ever wrote from beginning to end, but due to the nature of it being written when I was fifteen and still learning how to write a novel, it lacks in a lot of areas. I’ve completed the outline for the new version, which is completely different than the original, so I’m excited to see how the story and Piper evolve.

As for how I’m going to achieve this: I’m just going to take off the reigns and see what happens.

8. Do you plan to edit or query, and what’s your plan of attack?
Yes. All the above. The query for GUARDED is already set and vetted, so now I just need to finish the revisions on the MS and kick it out into the world. I suspect there will be a lot of crossed fingers and refreshing of the emails.

9. Toni Morrison once said, “If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.”  What are the books that you want to see more of, and what “holes” do you think need filling in the literary world?
Umm, this is a difficult question because there’s a lot of cross-pollination of genres out there through small press publishers or self-publishing. If you want an awesome steampunk historical thriller, pick up Odd Men Out by Matt Betts. Paranormal alternate history? Steel Victory by JL Gribble. I’m sure there are small slivers open in the literary world, but what it really come down to for me as a writer is simply writing the book I want to read. The characters and worlds I create I need to love enough to spend years with. It has more to do with me as the creator than what I feel is “missing” in the industry.

10. What do you hope to have achieved by the end of 2016?
I’m really hoping to have signed with a literary agent by year’s end… *prays it doesn’t take years to find one who loves my work like I do*


So It’s 2015 . . .

Well folks, it’s that time of year where we try to sit down and decide what goals we want to achieve in the next 12 months. The most common resolutions: eat healthier, go to the gym more and save money. Although these goals are usually on my list of New Year Resolutions, I’m really looking to make 2015 a super productive year of writing.

You see, since my deployment in 2011, I’ve spent a lot of time attempting to overcome some of the emotional and psychological scarring that has kept me from being a productive writer. As I’ve said in previous posts, PTSD is a bitch. The good news is that 2014 has been a very cathartic year for me, allowing me to pour energy into my passion for the first time in six years. I was able to complete the rough draft of my first book; won NaNoWriMo, which gave me 50k toward my second book; started this blog and joined a fantastic writers’ critique group.

So here’s my list of 2015 resolutions:
Feel free to hold me accountable.

I’m breaking them up by writing project. First up, my book series . . .

  1. Finish rough draft for second book. (While writing said book during NaNo, I realized it’s actually the first book in the series, so this project is moving to the top of my to-do list.)
  2. Edit and polish said MS and prepare for query. (My goal is to have a polished – or at least as polished as I can get it – by the end of May to start focusing on querying this summer and fall.
  3. While I wade through the painful query process, edit and polish my other MS (now book 2 in the series).
  4. For NaNoWriMo 2015, write 50k toward the third book in the series [of five].

Second, this blog and other online forums . . .

  1. Publish a post a week. I know I’m bound to miss a week here and there, but I’m really aiming to make this a weekly habit.
  2. Actually make social media a priority. I’m seriously awful when it comes to Twitter. I’ll have weeks where I do a good job, but more often than not, I don’t even open the app on my phone. Sigh The joy of being a 21st Century Novelist.

Lastly, READ MORE! Seriously, for being a novelist, I’m awful at reading them. I think in 2014, I read a total of six books: three in my genre (YA Fantasy), two industry non-fiction books, and one biography. I have so many books on my to-read list and it just keeps getting longer.

So anyhoo, that is my laundry list of writing resolutions for 2015. Now I’m off to the gym. 😉