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Go Big or Go Home (2018 Goals)

Happy New Year, everyone! May it somehow be better than last year.

So, it has become my habit to set a series of goals on the first of the year to be completed by the end of the year. These are big, bold goals, or occasionally very silly things. One year, I set a goal to eat more donuts. Don’t ask me how I intended to measure my success with that goal, but at least I had a reason to eat a lot of donuts.

Because, you know, I need reasons to eat a lot of donuts.

But there shall be no donut goals this year. Instead, I am laying out my biggest, toughest, boldest (possibly stupidest) goals yet. And yeah, there’s an excellent chance that I shall outright fail, but I like to think that there’s also the outside possibility that I might not. Or perhaps I’ll fall somewhere in the middle. Regardless of where I end up come December, I feel like bold is the way to go this year. To paraphrase a line from an episode of The West Wing (and you shall receive super ultra mega bonus points if you can name the episode), if I’m going to run into a wall, I’m going to do so at full speed.

So…just remind me of that when, in six months’ time (or six days’ time…), I’m hiding under my desk and crying into a pint of Ben & Jerry’s.

Let’s begin…

 

The Writing Goal


This is the goal by which my entire year is always measured. I don’t care if I achieve everything else on this list. If I haven’t accomplished what I wanted to do here, my year has been a failure. Which is, perhaps, not super healthy, but it is the truth. That said, here are my truly insane writing goals for 2018:

1. Publish Second Nature. If for no other reason that I’m so sick of having to write out this goal every January. And I’m close. Just so, so close. I hope.

2. Publish Vinnie & Ellie (working title). This is that (potentially crappy) romance novel I’ve been playing with off and on for a while. I’d love to have it available for this big book fair I have coming up this year, so it’s on the list. And yes, I realize this means I’ll have to come up with a much better title for it. And, you know, finish it.

3. Publish book of work-related sarcastic haiku. I’d love to have this available for the same book fair as mentioned above. I have half a plan for this book, and I’m looking forward to working out the rest. Including a title. The working title is Retail Rhapsody, but I think I need something better.

4. Complete first draft of Full Circle, otherwise known as Book Three of my fantasy series. I’m really looking forward to finally getting into this story. I mean, there’s a scene where my characters are happy (Well, happy-ish. For a couple of paragraphs, anyway…All right, fine. Maybe just the one paragraph. Or the first half of that paragraph. Still, they’re happy. Ish.) and that’s just so weird. I can’t wait to find out where this story will end up because I know it’s probably nowhere near where I think it will end. I mean, I am totally in control of my characters and what they do.

 

The Reading Goal


I create one of those Goodreads challenges every year, too. Last year was 40 books. This year, I’ve decided to go with 52. Because I don’t already have enough planned for this year.

 

The Fitness Goal


As I reached my 2017 mileage goal with relative ease, I’ve decided to up this year’s goal as well. Instead of running, walking, or biking at least 3 miles each day, I’m aiming for a yearly total of 1500 miles, which comes out to approximately 4.10 miles each day. I know I won’t actually log 4.10 miles each and every day, though. Unless I get one of those treadmill desks. Well, maybe not even then.

The other part of my fitness goal is to start doing yoga again. I fell out of the habit a while ago, and I really want to get back into it to see if it can help with my chronic back issues. I plan to start off with two yoga workouts a week with the intention of moving up to three someday.

 

And I think that’s where I’m going to cap the goals this year. There’s more than enough on that plate, and I’ll drive myself crazy enough as it is.

Wish me luck! (or just call the men with the giant butterfly nets to come and take me away now because I have so very obviously lost it…)

Did you set any goals and/or resolutions for 2018?

In Which I Review Books

Once upon a time, once a month, I would review all the books I had read the previous month. Nothing super long or in depth—well, usually nothing long or in depth (unless a novel really, really irritated me, that is…), but reviews nonetheless.

Then I fell out of the habit. I’m not sure why. Time constraints maybe? Laziness? Who knows. Anyway, my last book review post was back in March 2014.

But whatever the reason I stopped, I thought I might try bringing it back. Since it’s been so long since I’ve done one of these, I will not be reviewing every book I’ve read since March 2014. Instead, I’ll give you the highlights (and maybe a low light or two) from my 2015 reading collection (January through June).

Generally, I’d post any reviews at the beginning of the month, but Camp NaNoWriMo has me all flustered and turned around (proud to report that I am currently on pace to finish my novel…in August.) so I forgot to do this post earlier. I’ll do better next month.

Probably.

Anyway, here we go…

Heir of FireSarah J. Maas—The third book in her Throne of Glass series. I’ve really enjoyed this series overall, and I really do adore the MC. My biggest criticism of this particular novel was that it took me longer than usual to finish it. It’s a big novel, and there were parts that dragged. But again, I adore the MC, and I can’t wait for the next installment. I want to know what will happen next.

Mr. Kiss and Tell—Rob Thomas—This is the second book in the Veronica Mars novels, which take place after the events of the movie. The books are all right, this one included, but as grateful as I am to know anything about the Veronica Mars universe, I think something is lost in book form. Or maybe I just really want more movies. Again, I will read the next one because I’m a fan of the character. And Logan. I admit it.

One Good CatchHeather M. Gardner—The second book in her Maguire’s Corner series. I enjoy these books. Gardner (you occasionally read this blog, Heather, so if it’s weird for me to be using your last name like this, I’m sorry.) does not waste time getting to the action, and the story’s entertaining. The end surprised me as well. The story didn’t go how I thought it would. I mean, there’s a happy ending, which I expected, but it didn’t play out how I thought it would. It’s always nice to be surprised. Anyway, it’s really a fantastic summer beach read (I should know…I read it on the beach.) and I’m looking forward to the next installment. Also…I desperately want to go to this town for the pancakes, because they sound amazing.

Robert B, Parker’s KickbackAce Atkins—This is the 43rd Spenser novel, and the third or fourth (fourth, I think) written by Atkins. I have pleasantly surprised by the quality of these novels. It’s hard, I think, to take over a series loved by so many, and be able to emulate the style set forth in the previous 39 novels. He had big shoes to fill, and I think he’s nailed it. My one criticism (you knew there had to be one, right?) is that I occasionally feel as though Atkins is working too hard to cram in as many characters from the Spenser-verse into each novel. Robert B. Parker did have recurring characters, and I do love that about the books, but I think Atkins is using too many at once.

The Darkest Minds—Alexandra Bracken—The first in her The Darkest Minds series. I came across this book while hunting for novels in which mind control is possible. True story. Anyway, the reviews seemed good, so I went into this series feeling excited. That faded. The concept is intriguing, the execution I think fell flat. There were parts I liked, and characters who made me laugh out loud, which is always good. I wasn’t a fan of just how often Watership Down was referenced and/or quoted. We get it; stop hitting us over the head with it. So while I wasn’t a diehard insta-fan or whatever, I still went out and read the other two books in the series because I wanted to know how it would end.

Never Fade—Alexandra Bracken—(You guessed it…the second in The Darkest Minds series. There was an interaction between two characters that really intrigued the hell out of me. I don’t want to be all spoiler-y, but (SPOILER ALERT) at the end of the first book, a character with the ability to manipulate memory (Ruby) uses her abilities to tamper with the mind of the boy with whom she fell in love in the the first book (Liam). She has to make him forget that he knows her. But it’s true love, or whatnot, so naturally they’re going to encounter one another in the second book. That meeting and what follows it is intriguing. While Ruby could erase the memory of her in Liam’s life, the feelings Liam had/have for her are still there, but he doesn’t understand why he has them. It was an interesting concept.

In The Afterlight—Alexandra Bracken—The third and final book in the series. This is the book where the limitations of the first person POV are most evident. With the first person POV, the reader is limited to what the narrator sees/knows, and that limitation hurt this book, in my opinion. Major events would happen, but as Ruby wasn’t there to witness them, both she and the reader find out about it secondhand. I don’t know—it made the story a little duller, I guess. I also felt like the story relied entirely too much on coincidence, and that the ending was rushed. Given the world built up in the first two novels, it was a little dues ex machina-esque for my personal taste.

All right—that’s going to do it for me today. I’m headed off to Camp to see if I just can’t get caught up on my word count. What have you been reading? Tell me in the comments…

Checking In

Hello all.

I know I promised you a post on my Storyboard Substitution, and I do intend to follow through on that promise, but I haven’t quite finished that post yet. (Translation: I have yet to start it.) Perhaps this coming Wednesday, I’ll have it done.

In the meantime, I thought I would announce my goals for 2015, as it is now January 12th, and I haven’t done it yet.

Last year, I did pretty well on my goals. I missed the mark on more than half of them (but let’s be honest—I was never going to make that healthy eating goal), but I did accomplish the Big Goal: the Publishing Of Effigy.

It’s been a while since I’ve posted this cover art here.
Unless you look over at the sidebar, but who does that, really?

And as I have often said, if I make the Big Goal, I am far less upset about missing any of the other ones. Turns out, I was even telling the truth.

But this year I have no publishing goal. I guess that means I have to do everything on the following list:

1. Finish Second Nature.

Second Nature is Effigy‘s sequel, the second book in the Coileáin Chronicles. I talked a little bit about this last week, but to recap: I need to finish up Parts Two and Three. The characters are being rebellious, and so this draft has been hanging on long past my point of appreciation or amusement. But I’m gaining, though (unemployment is agreeing with me. At least until I run out of money.), and have truly been writing a lot in the first twelve days of this new year.

Last week, I stated that I had ten scenes left to finish in Part Two. I wrote a lot (the word count is now sitting at 227,000 words.) this past week. So naturally, I now have eleven scenes left to finish before I can move on to Part Three. Because my characters decided to add three other scenes. Because they hate me. Because I’ve tortured them far too much. Because I’m a writer, and that’s what we do.

But anyway, the goal is to finish this book this year.

2. Read 60 books.


I had the same goal last year and only read 56 books. I was doing all right there for a while, but fell apart at the end of the year. Maybe I’ll be able to hold it together this year.

3. Walk, run, or bike 800 miles.


Last year the goal was to log 700 miles. I ended up with 768, so 800 isn’t much of a stretch. Of course, the fact that I have only recorded one lonely mile thus far in 2015 might make things interesting. Only 799 to go!

4. The requisite healthy eating goal.


I need to eat healthier. I’m not overweight by any stretch of the imagination (even my Wii tells me I need to gain weight), but I need to eat healthier. You know, have some fruits or vegetables once in a while. And no more soda. I don’t normally drink a lot of the stuff, but I fell into bad habits at the end of the year. Lots of soda. So no more…Unless I’m having a Jack & Coke.

So that’s going to do it for me today. I know this questions is late, but…Did you set any goals for yourself this year? Anyone else out there giving up soda? Are you having caffeine headaches as well?

See y’all next time. Thanks for stopping by.

Seven Deadly Sins (Of The Literary World)

Hello all.

As you’re reading this, I am at The Store working my way through an 18-hour shift (Boy, I love holiday weekends!) and doing a shot writing a haiku smiling politely and patiently every time a customer asks me if the “Everything On Sale” event extends to whatever item they’re holding in their hands.

In case you were wondering, the answer is YES, THE ‘EVERYTHING ON SALE’ EVENT EXTENDS TO THOSE PANTS/COAT/SOCKS/SHIRT/OTHER CRAP IN YOUR DAMN HANDS.

But on My Pet Blog today, I am participating in the Seven Deadly Sins tag. Author Crystal Collier tagged me last week (Thanks, Crystal) and I finally found a moment to post it….

Greed—What is your most expensive book? Inexpensive books?


My most expensive books are probably the leather-bound Harry Potter books my mother found for me. They look great sitting on my shelves and have never been opened. I feel they’re far too nice to touch. If you want to touch a Harry Potter book, I have about twenty paperbacks.

My most inexpensive books are the free e-books I download from Amazon.

Wrath—Who is the author with whom you have a love/hate relationship?


I have to go with Janet Evanovich and her Stephanie Plum series here. I absolutely loved the beginning of this series. The characters were fun, and the stories made me laugh out loud on several occasions. But from about Book 10 and up, I’ve been less than impressed. And I hate how the love triangle between Stephanie and Morelli and Ranger is STILL going on. Morelli, you can do better.

Gluttony—What book have you devoured over and over again with no shame?


There are a few series that I try to revisit at least once a year because I just adore the characters so much. They include the Harry Potter series,  Ellen Emerson White’s President’s Daughter series, and Sharon Kay Penman’s Justin de Quincy series.

Sloth—What book have you neglected reading out of laziness?


Moby Dick by Herman Melville. It’s one of those classic novels I feel like I should read, but…damn, it’s big. And possibly boring.

Pride—What book(s) do you talk about most in order to sound like an intellectual reader?


I was going to make a Fifty Shades of Grey joke here, but I’m afraid people wouldn’t get that it was a joke. My real answer would probably be Troilus and Creseyde by Geoffrey Chaucer. Which I read in the original Middle English because I am a huge dork who used to do things like that. Either that, or Les Miserables. In French. Because I am a huge dork who used to do things like that.

Lust—What attributes do you find attractive in a male or female character?


I adore flawed characters. Perfect characters are boring. Imperfect characters are awesome. I like a hero/heroine who screws up on occasion, or even all of the time. For example, Harry Potter is, from time to time, a big jerk. And I love that. Because it’s real.

Envy—What book would you most like to receive for a gift?


I’m happy to receive any book as a gift, but if John Green or Maggie Stiefvater wanted to send me copies of whatever they’re working on now, I’d be more than happy to accept. Even if that’s just a grocery list. Or, if Sharon Kay Penman wanted to send me more Justin de Quincy novels (her publisher won’t release any more because they’re not viewed as profitable as her other works), that would be incredibly awesome.

This is supposed to be the part where I tag other people, but I never do that. Should you decide that you’d like the participate, feel free to tag yourself, and then tell me that you did it so I can be sure to check it out.

That is going to do it for me today. Thank you for stopping by, and I hope everyone out there is having a fantastic weekend. And should you be hitting the stores today, be kind to your sale clerks. You have no idea what they might tweet about you on their lunch breaks…

A Serious Question

Tomorrow, I shall be participating in my first-ever author event. As, you know, an author.

It’s a book fair at the public library.

Public. As in “open to.”

That’s right. Tomorrow, I shall be sitting at a table in the public library with copies of my novel to sell and bookmarks to give away—an idea which terrifies me.

But I’m going to do it anyway.

Unless I contract the Bubonic Plague before then.

Which probably won’t happen.

Right?

Right.

So, in case I don’t contract the Bubonic Plague, I have a question to ask of you wise, more-experienced authors…

What does one wear to a book fair when one will be sitting at a table selling copies of their novel and giving away bookmarks? (provided, of course, anyone wants one.)

I’m guessing my “I can kill you with my brain” tee shirt is out. As is my new “LEAVE ME ALONE” shirt—a gift from my sister and niece (they thought I could wear it to work. Which I will.). That pretty much leaves my selection of Harry Potter, Zelda, Hunger Games, Battlestar Galactica, Sherlock, Veronica Mars, and Game of Thrones tees.

Or what about one of my Care Bears, My Little Pony, Schoolhouse Rock, or Sesame Street tees.

Pause.

I am such a geek.

I also have some Red Sox or Patriots tees. My Tom Brady jersey? Or perhaps an oversized Big Papi jersey?

I don’t know—what do you think? Should I perhaps go shopping for something that doesn’t have a cartoon character on it?

While you’re mulling over that question, let me pose another one:

Say a person approaches the table at which I am sitting with my novels and my bookmarks and asks a question or otherwise expresses interest. Is diving under the table and hiding until they go away an acceptable response?

Please say yes.

On that note, I’m out of here. I get to go to my day job on my day off.

I am so very lucky.

Thanks for stopping by today. Have a wonderful weekend, all.

Oh, and if anyone out there would like an fancy Effigy bookmark of their very own, email me your address, and I’ll send one out to you. (U.S. only, please)