Habits, Goals, & Bedtime Stories

Monday, 30 January 2012

My original plan when I listed my 2012 Goals on this blog was to revisit them in February to see where I stood. It’s well known that many resolutions made at New Year’s never make it past January, so I thought looking back to see if I was on track was a good idea. I’ve decided to start my review a bit early.
I already know if I am hitting my goals or not. Some of them have gone on to become habits (yay!) and some have never gotten off the ground (boo!). I wrote 10 goals—5 relating to my home and family and 5 relating to my writing. I now plan to address one goal from the Home & Family list on Mondays and one goal on the Writing list on Wednesdays until I get through them. It shouldn’t take long. Not even five weeks. The 30-Day challenge on goals that I was doing is drawing to a close, in fact, my last day was today, and it has helped me to realize that not all of my goals are goals in themselves, some are just extensions or stepping stones leading up to the others.
I am pleased to say that one of my goals has come to fruition.
My first goal was to start reading to Hunter every night before bed.  This was something that I used to do when he was little, before the pressures of work got to me. I truly believe the best way to foster a love of reading in my children is to read to them regularly, so I knew it was time to get started again. I also wanted to make sure I started before Scarlett was born so that Hunter would not think I was doing it just because she was here. I wanted this to be something I shared with him first. He’s been an only child for a long time now and I am bit worried over how he will take not being the baby anymore.
I also wanted to read stories to him that he couldn’t read to himself. He is very interested in reading now and is getting quite good at it considering he’s only four. He read an entire book to me the other night and I nearly cried. I started with Harry Potter. It couldn’t have been a better choice—he loves it! It also helps me out since I need to read it for the Children’s Literature course I am taking.  Of course, he never makes it through a whole chapter, but I’m glad he falls asleep to the sound of my voice. It makes me feel closer to him and these days, he’s growing up so fast—too fast for my liking (tonight he made a mistake on a game and said ‘dammit’  :-o).
We are on the next to the last chapter and I haven’t decided whether to go on to the next book, or read him Eragon—he’s really into dragons right now. The only thing I know for certain is that I will continue reading to him. I have always heard that it takes 28 days to create a habit and now that I have created this habit, I can’t imagine not reading. Not that Hunter would let me off the hook, either. One night when I felt especially ill and tired I told him I wasn’t going to read and you’d have thought I told him I was giving the dog away. He went into hysterics, sobbing and pleading until I had no other choice but to cave. I’m glad I did though. He drifted off to sleep peacefully and I wasn’t far behind him.
As it turns out, it isn’t just a special time for me and Hunter. Scarlett seems to like it. She wiggles around inside me at first, then gets into a comfortable position, and calms down. I think it soothes her. Probably the most surprising—and most entertaining—reaction though is the cat’s. That’s right, the cat. Piper comes in and climbs into Hunter’s bed every night while I read. It’s a bit of a shock since she mostly stays clear of him otherwise and she never goes in his room. But even Piper has developed a habit of sharing this time with us. I never really realized how much so until we were late for bed the other night and she sat on the stairs and meowed for us to come up. She then went and stood by the bed until Hunter and I were settled in before jumping up. Who would’ve thought the cat would enjoy bedtime stories, too!
So every night, except the one night a week I am coaching until late, Hunter, Piper, Scarlett, and I read together. It’s quality time for me, the kids, and the cat. And honestly, it’s the best half hour of my day.

Sleepy Saturday

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Well, I’m late again. But to be honest, there was absolutely nothing about my Friday that was Fun. I couldn’t think of a single thing to write about for Fun Friday. I just wanted to go to bed.
So instead, I give you Sleepy Saturday!
Not my cat, but sums up how I feel right now.

Yesterday was really a nightmare, so bad I never even made it to the office. But that is not to say I didn’t work, oh boy did I work. I clean when I’m upset and by the time I picked Hunter up from school, you could’ve licked my toilet seats. Not sure why you’d want to, but whatever.
So today, as I look at my to-do list with 4 overdue tasks from yesterday, I want to roll over and go back to bed. It’s not going to happen, of course, the monster won’t let me. I’m thinking I’ll stay in my pj’s all day anyway in protest. It’s freezing outside and for some reason the cat keeps begging me to open the window so she can come in and out as she pleases—not going to happen. In fact, we were supposed to be snowed in this weekend. No reason to get dressed, really. I even went to the store last night so I wouldn’t have to leave the house this weekend.
One overdue task is this post. At least I’m making some progress to start. And it’s 0835 on a Saturday. I’m not going to lie—I’m impressed with myself! There’s a bill to pay, but they won’t be open for another 20 minutes or so. I’ll call after I finish this.
The rest of my ‘left-overs’ from yesterday are writing tasks. I have 2 chapters of my WIP to work re-writes on. Not a huge task, but one I want to sit down in peace to do. At the moment, the monster is chattering on like there’s no tomorrow and the cat is meowing along with him. Peace is nowhere in sight. I do plan to take my clipboard down when I cook breakfast and see if I can run through them with a red pen at least.
Today’s task is a non-fiction project. A while back I ran a company which trained and certified cheerleading coaches and part of it was done through home-study courses (theory only, of course, I believe skills can only be taught in a hands-on environment). Nowadays, these courses are just sitting around my hard drive gathering virtual dust. I’m thinking of re-formatting them and publishing them to Kindle.  They may never sell, but even a few pounds is better than them sitting around doing nothing. Today I hope to start converting one to see how it works.
It’s just an idea, but I have so many questions/fears. Mostly, I want to use Scrivener to format them and upload them myself. I can design a cover, or at least I think I can. I’ve played with some cover designs for my fiction work in Photoshop and had lovely results. What I don’t know is if I can just use a file like that or if I need to do anything special to it. I also want to add pictures and I’m a little afraid of how that will turn out. I thought I might just take one of the courses and plug it into Scrivener, start playing with the pictures and stuff, and then try to upload it to Kindle. I figure there must be a way to edit it before I release it. Or after if I catch formatting problems then.
I’ve heard that using Scrivener cuts out a lot of extra formatting work. Anyone out there have any experience with this? Especially formatting in Scrivener and publishing that to Kindle?

Writing Wednesday again.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

I haven’t done as much writing as I planned lately, but I have done some, I’ve mostly been editing. Thankfully, I think I’m getting better at battling a few of my writing demons, mainly my ADHD. I hope so.
When I found out that Harlequin was running an Editor Pitch Contest for the Medical Line, I jumped at it. I had the makings of a story saved up from last year’s New Voices. I decided not to enter last year’s NV after finding out I was pregnant. Good thing, too, since the deadline was 1 day after my Approaching Literature exam and I was suffering from the worst morning sickness ever.
So anyways, as soon as I saw it I was in. Head first. I pulled out my old notes and started working on the idea. I brainstormed, I plotted, I wrote a logline and a blurb… and then I tried to write it. I couldn’t even get started. I just couldn’t find the spark.
This has never really been a problem for me before. Normally I can start a story quickly. I only start to struggle around chapter four. Normally I also have at least two stories on the go at once. Something has changed in these last few weeks.
This is the first time I can remember that I’ve truly been wrapped up in just one story. It’s an Intrigue that I started ages ago. Truth be told, the original idea dates back to 1998 or so. Over the years there have been tons of changes to the concept and the characters. Sometime in the past couple of years, I nearly finished the manuscript. I even made it through 47k words of the 55-60k called for by the line. I only stopped writing it because I got sick of the story. Something just wasn’t clicking and I lost the spark.
At the start of the New Year, I pulled the old MS back out and decided to see if I could make something of it. I started to think and came up with some major changes, which I think will drive the story better. I’ve also found the spark! I asked on the community boards and it would seem that Intrigue has some sort of contest in the works, so I’m going to press on with this new take on my old idea.
I hate to admit it, but I honestly think that I am so desperate to get published that I’ve been willing to take any chance, on any idea, just to have a shot. I need to make this dream a reality to achieve my biggest dream—moving home and buying our dream house.
So that just about sums up where I am in my writing, right now. Anyone else found a new direction in an old project? I’d love to hear how it has turned out!


Tuesday, 24 January 2012

I forgot to post yesterday! How sad, I was on such a roll. Oh well, I'll give you a quick update on what I'm doing (besides trying to keep my head above water).

First off, I am counting down the days until April. So I can have this baby... and then, more importantly, so I can have a damn Sudafed! That's right. You guessed it, my sinuses are at it again. Of course, once April rolls around I'll probably never have another sinus infection.

Work has gotten a bit more demanding as I am training the girl who will take my place while I'm on maternity leave. But I'll cope. Today I am working from home in my pj's, feeling sorry for myself. As for the part-time job I do for free-- I am coaching tonight and I am so excited. I have some great surprises for my athletes and I'm looking forward to 3 great practices.

Writing wise, things have ground to a halt in the last 2 nights. Mainly because I've been too sick to stay on top of my to-do list. I think I have convinced myself (or maybe my ADHD) not to enter the Harlequin Medical Pitch contest. I still really want to, but it means starting with a brand new MS. I was able to work out the logline, concept, etc. but honestly  I can't bring myself to even start the first chapter. It isn't that I don't like the story or even that I don't want to write it. I just can't seem to find the spark. Meanwhile, I am editing and LOVING my Intrigue MS. Everything about it is exciting me right now, so I've decided to run with that one for now in hopes it will be ready when the time comes for a pitch contest for Intrigue.

But, looking at my mile long to-do list, I still have loads to do in the next 2 hours, so I better get off here and get to work. I hope everyone else is having a productive week. More productive than mine at least. :)

Friday at last!

Friday, 20 January 2012

Getting ready for the Harlequin Medical Editor Pitch!

This has been such a long week. And it just keeps getting longer. It is nearly eleven at night and my four-year-old son is showing no signs of slowing down. I have to finish one more task before I can finally get some sleep and I swear to you, if he isn’t asleep by then, I’m putting him in his bed with a Scooby Doo movie and I’m going to sleep.
I have spent the last few hours—that’s right, I said ‘few hours’—making animals, glasses, letters and numbers out of pipe cleaners. This is my little man’s new obsession. Pipe cleaners. I’m ok with it, though. After all, they’re cheaper and much less trouble than stickers.
What I really want to do is write, but I can tell you now there is no way I will finish this post, complete my last goal for the day, and still have the brain power left to write.
It just isn’t possible.
In my Monday post, I told you about the Medical Pitch contest Harlequin is running and promised to keep you up to date on my progress with it. I am happy to report that I have done my brainstorming and plotting and I think I have a good concept. I even wrote a logline and a blurb. I’m holding onto the blurb a bit longer to make sure I have time to write and polish the partial, but I think it is doable. I just need to get writing. I plan to start Chapter One this weekend and see how it goes.
Overall, though, I am happy with what I have accomplished so far. And I like my idea. Like I said, I am going to sit on my blurb for a bit, but I thought I might be brave enough to share my logline with you…

‘After losing his wife and son, paediatric heart surgeon Lincoln Sheffield walked away from his career determined to leave that life behind...  until he fell for emergency nurse Lucy Fisher and she asked him to perform surgery to save her son.’

What do you think?

Calgon, take me away...

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Monday I posted about writing. Well, sort of. I posted about the Harlequin Medical Editor Pitch contest and my plans to see if I could make the time to enter it. But if you remember the 'schedule' I set up ages ago, Mondays were supposed to be for 'Momminess' and Wednesdays for 'Writing'. What can I say, I've had a tough, mixed up week so far.

So tonight, I'll talk about Mommy things. Sort of.

This is the first I have actually sat down tonight and I can't believe how tired I am. After work, I picked the monster up from school and went to the grocery store. What started out as a trip for a frozen pizza for dinner (there was no way I was actually cooking tonight), turned into an hour-long grocery trip. And let me just say, if you think it is bad to go shopping when you are hungry, try being hungry AND pregnant.

By the time we got home, monster was moaning about being hungry and when will tea (English equivalent of dinner/supper) be ready and I was baking those cheap little pizzas as fast as I could, all the while trying to finish some work from the 'real job' which I hadn't yet finished. I tell you, I love my kid(s) and I love my job, but I really don't like being a working mom. I think moms as a species work enough without the added stress of a career, but since I do love my job and we do need two incomes to survive I see no other choice.

Monster fed and in pj's, it was time to read Harry Potter in bed. He was out by 1915. Thank God. And here I am, typing furiously, some rambling mess, because I can barely keep my eyes open and I am trying to stay awake at least until 2030 when I need to do my clexane injection.

I thought about writing a little while I wait out the next hour, but honestly, I'm not sure anything I'm writing now makes sense. God only knows what a scene written in this state would be like. Then again, it could be entertaining. Maybe it would be good for a laugh in the morning. After coffee, of course. Before coffee, it would probably make sense.

What do you think? Have you ever written something when you were too tired to move and found it to be hilarious the next day? Or have you done good work when your mind is too exhausted to wonder from the task at hand?

Another awesome contest from Harlequin!

Monday, 16 January 2012

Seriously short one tonight.
Harlequin has announced a new Editor Pitch Contest for the Medical line!
I’m actually very excited about this because it’s different than most of these contests. While the editor, Flo Nicholl, may request either a partial of a full manuscript from the winning entries, the rules for this particular contest only say that a PARTIAL (first three chapters) is required to submit, most of the pitch contests require a full manuscript.
I have an idea for a for a medical which I nearly entered the New Voices contest with. The only reason I didn’t enter it then was because I was in the throes of morning sickness and trying to study for an exam. I did plan out the characters, setting, plot, etc.
I know, the ADHD is partly to blame for my interest in entering, but this is such an awesome opportunity I’m not sure I can pass it up. Last night I had a go at revamping the plot and wrote a blurb for the contest. I’ve got loads to do tonight, but I also want to have a go at brainstorming the first chapter just to see what I can get down.
The cut off for submitting the blurb is February 10th. That gives me just over 25 days to see if I can get a partial done, or at least the first draft of it. In a perfect world, that would be all I needed to do over the next month, but if you’ve read any of my posts, you know my life is far from perfect. Nonetheless, 25 days should be plenty of time to not only write roughly 15k words and polish them.
I’m going to have a go I think. I’ll know for sure if I can get this project on the move before the blurb is due. I’ll keep you posted on how I get on. In the meantime, if you’d like to check it out, the details are here:

Software for Writing

Friday, 13 January 2012

After a lot of thought, some additional research and an hour of cutting and pasting as I re-arrange a plot, I’ve made a decision…
I’m going back to Scrivener.
The truth is I always liked Scrivener. I’ve tried more trial versions and free versions of writing software than I care to admit and none of them really seemed worth the hassle of transferring my files over. Until I found Scrivener.
I was impressed with a number of its features; probably my favorite was the ability to move entire scenes from one chapter to another without cutting and pasting. I started using it when they announced a beta trial for the Windows version (it was only available for Mac) and continued using it for ages while they perfected it and released updates. The only thing I didn’t like was the font. Honestly, that’s it.
I never really took the time to try much on it. I never even knew I could change the font (you can). Then came my way too long break from writing, when I was buried in university work and too sick to write (morning sickness is so much fun).  Once I was able to pick up my writing again, I found that the Windows version of Scrivener was complete and available for purchase. At the time I was broke, so even at the ridiculously low price of $40 it was still out of my reach and I went back to using Word.
Last week I pulled out an old project and gave the plot a major overhaul. I cut about 14 scenes, added about 10, and rearranged the ones left over from the old manuscript. Cue the cut and paste.
After wading through around half of the project, I decided I needed a better option. Suddenly I remembered Scrivener. I went straight to the website and downloaded the 30-day trial. I’ve spent a few days now, not only transferring two WIPs into it, but also checking out all of Scrivener’s features.
And the verdict is… It’s better than I remembered. Plus, they are currently working on a version for the iPhone/iPad!! If they include a way to sync between the Windows version and the iPhone version, I’ll be able to write from anywhere! That would be so convenient. I could even write during downtime at my ‘real job’. So, once my 30 day trial is up, I’m going to buy Scrivener. I have a feeling it will be a great investment.
Do you have a favorite writing software?

Time to Write

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Tonight’s post is going to have to be a short one.
No, seriously. I’m going to make it quick.
Today is Wednesday, which is the day I am supposed to post about writing. Thing is, I don’t feel like I’ve done any writing in a while. I’ve done loads of prep—loglines, blurbs, plotting, even a synopsis, but no actual writing.
One of the things I decided to do at the beginning of the year was print up weekly spreadsheets to use as to-do lists. They are awesome (even the girl at work who I’m training is blown away by my organizational skills)! They are divided not only by day, but there is a section for work-related tasks, school, writing, and coaching. And between the Susan Meier Goal Workshop, Chalene Johnson 30-Day Challenge, and Jeff Olsen’s The Slight Edge I have been able to accomplish more in these first 11 days of the month than I did all month in December!
The only thing I haven’t really worked out yet is how and when I’m going to squeeze in my much needed writing time. So far the writing tasks I have done haven’t really fit to a schedule. I’ve been getting around to them after everything else is done (so I have nothing else weighing on my mind) and I haven’t spent a set amount of time on any of them.
My next step is to set a time (and amount of time) for the actual writing each day. I know I want to complete one scene a day. That’s how I did it in the past and it seems to work best for me. I was easily able to hit 1000 words in an hour. These days, though, a scene equates to more like 2,500 words. Right now, I truly can’t figure out where to squeeze in 3 hours of writing in a day (maternity leave is going to be so awesome for this). In the meantime, I’m just going to try to squeeze in as much time as possible, I just need to set a time to do it each day.
And now, I really need to get started. So, I’m off to write.
What’s your writing routine? Do you set a time limit or a word count?

7 Steps to Overcoming Fear

Monday, 9 January 2012

This week I have read a lot of blog posts, tweets and comments on fear. It seems now that the novelty of the New Year has worn off, everyone is taking a good look at the resolutions they were so resolute about just last week. And they are scared. You see, the New Year brings with it the promise of new possibilities… and new pitfalls.
I, too, have found myself gripped with fear. All it took was signing up for a 30-day challenge about achieving my goals. On day 5, the ‘homework’ was to narrow my goals down to one priority, one thing I was determined to accomplish in 2012 and the tell someone close to me, someone who would be affected by my achieving my goal. That’s where fear took over. The thought of telling someone, someone who would know if I failed terrified me.
Today, I started work on a new project, a series of non-fiction eBooks about cheerleading safety and skills. Looking at a list of possible titles, it occurred to me that I happen to know a little about fear and more importantly how to overcome it. Fear is common in cheerleading. It doesn’t matter whether you are the one being thrown twelve feet in the air, or one of the ones on the ground expected to catch her. A good, safe cheerleader must not only overcome their fear, they must use it to push then towards their goals.
You would think, as a cheer coach, training athletes ages 3 to 23 to overcome their fears—of heights, of flipping, of being injured, of failure—that I’d have complete control over mine as well. Sadly, we rarely ever take our own good advice. This week, I’d like to show you how to overcome your fears. Later, I’ll show you how to use that fear to drive you. And to demonstrate, I’ll take my own advice. Honestly.

7 Steps to Overcoming Fear
1.      Get to the root of the fear. Most of what I’ve been reading lately is that people are spooked by the possibility of failing while trying to accomplish the goals they set for themselves. Look closely at your fear and decide exactly what it is that you are afraid of. It may take some time, but break it down to its most basic form.

It started as fear of failure for me. I truly believed that I was afraid to finish and submit a manuscript to Harlequin, because it might be rejected. That wasn’t it. There is nothing I hate more than wasting time. If it takes me two months to complete a novel (that, by the way, is an example of wishful thinking) and nothing comes of it, that is two months of wasted time. Yeah, I know, every rejection brings you closer to a sale and such, but I am too blinded by the wasted hours to worry about that.

2.      Freak out. That’s right. I am giving you permission to freak out. First, it will get the emotions out. Second, it will set you up for Step 3. Just don’t go overboard here. You don’t want to get buried under emotion. It is important that you are able to clear your head and look at the consequences of going after what you want.

I won’t go into detail on my freak out, but rest assured it wasn’t pretty. Sometimes I worry myself even.

3.      Think about the Best and Worst Case Scenarios. Take a deep breath and list every worst case scenario you can think of on one side of a sheet of paper. What is the worst that could happen if you try and fail? On the other side of the paper, list the best case scenarios. Now take a look at both columns. Do the best case scenarios make it worth trying?

If the answer is yes, keep going. If not, you may need to rethink your goals. My worst case list is mainly about wasted time and finding out I have no talent. My best case list is far longer and includes financial security, which I made my number one priority for 2012. No contest.

4.       Develop a ‘Plan B’. I sometimes call it an escape plan. The idea is to find an escape if you should find yourself faced with a worst case scenario.

Now, I admit, my escape plan is a little weak. Essentially I decided either way if my manuscript is rejected I will ask for detailed feedback. I will study more, write more, and incorporate any and all feedback I receive into repairing the manuscript and preparing the next. It isn’t a glamorous ‘Plan B’, but it makes me feel better about taking the initial risk.

5.      Take a second look. Make certain there is nothing else holding you back.

Unfortunately, failure does mean more to me than wasted time. I hate to admit it, but I really worry about what people think of me. Especially my friends and family back home.

6.      Go through steps 1-4 again. If you found something else standing in your way, use the steps above to come to terms with the additional fear.

I don’t want anyone to see me fail. This is why I use a pseudonym. It is also why very few of the people I interact with on a daily basis know that I write. I guess you could say secrecy is my escape plan.

7.      Dive in. Take another deep breath. Relax, knowing you have a Plan B if necessary. And jump. Take the chance.

I’m still working on this, but I have made some advances. I’ve set a schedule for writing and I have told everyone who is part of my ‘secret life of writing’ about my goals for 2012. I’ve even listed them on this blog.

I’m still doing the 30-day challenge and doing well, I might add. So, here’s my challenge to you. Tell me what is holding you back. What is the root of your fear

Let’s band together and fight the fear. Let’s make 2012 the year we achieve our goals.

The Dreaded Synopsis

Friday, 6 January 2012

Last night I wrote a synopsis. The first of two I need to write. See, I have two WIPs in the works right now. Well, that’s a lie. I actually have eight WIPs (damn ADHD), but in an effort to actually finish them, I have decided to focus on only two. One is targeting Harlequin American Romance and the other, Harlequin Intrigue. I blogged about these the other day and I’ve even put the blurbs on my Romance page for the world to see (shudder). Have a look if you like.
As someone who quickly loses interest in a story once she’s played with it for a bit, I have come up with a plan to stay interested in my tales until the day I can finally type ‘The End’. After brainstorming about the story, I write a logline, then a blurb, a breakdown of the chapters (like an outline but more detailed), and finally a synopsis. I’m hoping this will keep the story fresh and new in my mind and prevent my losing interest part-way through (chapter four, in my experience). Now, when I start to lose sight of the story, I can have a read through the synopsis or outline and get back on track (I hope).
I know a lot of authors who start each story with a synopsis, kind of like a road map for the journey, but for some reason, I always saw the synopsis as something to write after the book was finished. Maybe there’s a bit of ‘pantser’ in me after all.
I have been trying to start this particular synopsis for a week now and just couldn’t bring myself to type the first line. The whole concept seemed so foreign to me. I know all about showing, not telling and plot twists which keep your readers guessing. Details to set the mood and dialogue which is smart and lifelike.  And here I was trying to write something which could contain none of that. I even had to (gasp) give away the ending! It seemed like such a bland endeavor.
And I did find it bland, but finally last night I started typing and I refused to go to sleep (even though I was exhausted) until it was finished. I haven’t read it yet. God knows, it could be all gibberish. But I hope it isn’t; I hope it’s a good start. I’m not expecting a masterpiece, just a rough draft with potential. I just want to be on the right track.
And that, is the problem. I’ve read a million how-to’s. There’s even a thread over at the (unbelievably helpful) Absolute Write Water Cooler where quite a few published authors have posted their selling synopses for us hopefuls to have a look at. But what I really need is someone to read mine and say ‘yep, that’s about it’ or ‘nope, you’re way off base’.  
So I think I’ll have a read of it tonight and see if there is anything which is blatantly off-key, polish it up a bit, and see if I can bribe one of the Harlequin community into having a look at it. Pray for me, because I really don’t want to start this whole damn thing over again.

Staying on the wagon...

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

I am trying so hard not to fall off the wagon today. The goal wagon, that is, I’m not much of a drinker and though I’d love a shot of whiskey to clear out my sinuses, my ever-expanding bump forbids it.  You see, I set out to make 2012 the year that I work hard and achieve all of my goals. I’m doing well so far, but tonight nearly ruined me.
As you all know, I used Susan Meier’s Goal Workshop to set some goals. Since, I’ve also signed up for an online goal workshop—Chalene Johnson’s 30 Day Challenge (http://www.chalenejohnson.com/products-page/product-category/30-day-challenge/). I figure overkill is better than my usual tactic- talk about doing something but never get around to it. The challenge is free (probably the most important factor post-Christmas) and it’s fun so far. It doesn’t take a ridiculous amount of time each day and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it will work.
Let me back up a bit and tell you where I found Chalene Johnson. I happened to see a tweet from an independent author who I follow promoting one of his books. Again, since money is really tight this time of year, I checked it out on Amazon and found the Kindle version to be very affordable, so I clicked ‘Buy’. The book is The Path to Self-Publishing by Michael R. Hicks (http://www.amazon.com/Path-Self-Publishing-Success-ebook/dp/B005FU49BG/ref=sr_1_11?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1325710357&sr=1-11) . I haven’t finished it (only got it a few days ago), but so far I’m happy to recommend it.
It has a section on self-help books and tapes and such which I had every intention on skipping, only Michael knew I’d skip it. He said so right on the first page. And there I was half shamed, half curious and knowing full-well that I was going to read the section. Just to prove myself, I even resolved to try the programs and books he suggested.
Now I’ll be the first to say that I’ve never been a big fan of ‘self-help’ or probably any help for that matter. I am such a pain in the ass. I make goals, but I never keep them. And I’ve never been all that inclined to figure out why or to follow someone else’s ‘path’.
I seem to have had a shift in my way of thinking. It happened about the time I realised that I really was going to carry this baby to full term and I really was going to see my income go from £22k a year to less than £3k a year. I knew I needed to make some goals. And stick with them. There was no other choice.
So, I pulled up Chalene’s website and signed onto the challenge. I also bought Jeff Olsen’s audio book The Slight Edge (http://www.amazon.com/Slight-Edge-Jeff-Olson/dp/B000NU3KS6/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1325710470&sr=1-2) at Michael’s urging. I’ve been listening to it in the car today on my way to and from work and I’m really seeing his point. It’s simple, really, it’s all about how easy it is to make the wrong decisions because they aren’t going to affect you right then and there. I won’t break it down any further for you, you’ll have to buy it yourself, but I will say sometimes you just need to hear common sense aloud to see the sense in it.
That brings me to tonight. I feel awful. Really, truly ill. The sinus infection settled in my chest, so you can imagine I’m not a happy bunny. I had every intention of going to bed after I tucked my son in and calling it a night. Then I looked at my list of tasks for the day.
I make these weekly charts to list everything that needs to be done each day. It’s my own design and I’ve done it for ages, I just haven’t always checked the tasks off each day. Most of the time I figure I’ll just work extra hard tomorrow to catch up. I am a certified procrastinator. When I looked at the long list (read 23 pages, come up with theories for my essay and make an essay plan for Children’s Lit; write this blog; start my WIP synopsis…) I realised there was no way I’d ‘catch up tomorrow’. If I left it all I was sunk. Just like The Slight Edge says, the decision to procrastinate today wasn’t going to hurt today, but it would compound day after day as I was unable to catch up until at last it because a mountain I couldn’t climb.
So first I set to this blog—after all, I promised those of you who read my posts (all 2 of you—Hi, Mom!) that I’d stick to a Monday-Wednesday-Friday schedule. I’m not sure where I’ll head next. I may not complete it all tonight, but I am going to at least get a good start so I’m not stressed out tomorrow trying to cram everything in. I owe myself that. I’d like to tell you I’ll head to the school work next, but I would much rather write. Even if it is a synopsis (yuck!). One way or the other, I’d better stop rambling here and get to work!

Goals for 2012

Monday, 2 January 2012

Happy New Year Everyone!

It is day two of 2012 and I’m still determined to stick to my goals for the year. I hesitate to say resolutions, because I never seem to keep the resolutions I make anyway. This year I followed the Goal Workshop on Susan Meier’s blog (http://susanmeier.blogspot.com/) and came up with a list of 10 goals for the New Year. The key, according to Susan, is to choose goals that you have to accomplish, needs not wants. It was easy enough to settle on some specific needs once I got down to the heart of what was really wrong with my life, or maybe I should say, what I’m doing wrong in my life and what I’m lacking.
Gretchen McNeil, young adult author (http://gretchenmcneil.blogspot.com/), summed it up better than I ever could in a tweet she posted on New Year’s Eve:
“What I'm looking for in 2012 is contentment: in my writing, in my self, and in my
relationships. It's harder than it sounds...”
That is exactly it. I am lacking contentment.
I went into the countdown this year with a clear plan for getting what I need in 2012. This was the first year I didn’t cry when the clock struck 12. New Years has traditionally been a time of sadness for me, but not so much this year. I don’t know if this was because I was sober (the only one at our party) or because I wasn’t thinking so much about what I didn’t accomplish in the passing year, but more about what I could accomplish in the year to come.  
Now, onto the goals… My goals for 2012 are divided: 5 to improve my home/family life and 5 to improve my work/writing life. I figure if I can find contentment and a healthy balance between work and home I should be able to find contentment within myself as well. I know it is going to be hard to stick to these goals, but I’m going to try my hardest. I promise.
2012 Goals
Home & Family
1.       Read a bedtime story to Hunter (and Scarlett) every night. Except Tuesdays, when I am coaching and Daddy does bedtime. I used to do this and Hunter loved it. I think it’s good to foster a love of reading in my children.

2.       Schedule a ‘date night’ with my hubby at least once a month. This means I’ll need to set aside money for a babysitter and dinner or whatever.

3.       Get up earlier in the morning (even if only by an hour) and do household ‘chores’ before I leave for work so the housework stays caught up.

4.       Schedule a ‘family day’ at least once a month (but aim for once a week). We could go bowling or to the safari park or whatever, but it doesn’t have to cost money. Hunter would be thrilled with a trip to feed the ducks or a family board game night.

5.       Sit down to do Hunter’s homework every day directly after school. This isn’t going to be easy since I have to help him with it and cook dinner, etc. Nonetheless, if I can get him into the habit now, it’ll be easier once he can do it on his own.

Writing & Work
6.       Set both a writing schedule and a daily target for my writing and STICK TO IT!

7.       Aim for at least £500 per month from freelancing to supplement the significantly reduced salary I’ll have once I go back to work after maternity leave.

8.       Find at least 4 regular or repeat clients by April (when I go onto leave) through my freelance editing or writing. Double that by January (when I return to work).

9.       Aim to have all ‘work’ (Biobank, editing, writing, coursework) finished by 5pm each day. Then I can devote my evenings to my family.

10.   Finish at least 2 Harlequin manuscripts by December 2012 and submit them by writing a minimum of 1000 words each day.  (my total writing word count each day as in #6 will be higher and will include freelance, etc.)

So there you go. These are my goals for finding contentment in 2012. How about you? What goals have you set for yourself?

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