What lessons did I learn from a workplace renovation that I applied to my writing life? I give my light at the end of the tunnel realization at Writers Who Kill on January 25.
I answer the question, "Where do you get your ideas?" on my next Blog Tour stop January 21. Join me at A Date With A Book, hosted by Dalene Higgins. http://datesbooks.blogspot.com/
And if you missed it, Dalene gave Stone Cold Dead a five star rating in her January 15 review.
I received an "Excellent" rating at the Mysteries and My Musing blog by fellow Colorado author Ariel Heart.
Jacqueline Seewald interviews me at Author Expressions January 17. I share some experiences I have in common with my protagonist Morgan Iverson, and what I did to fight rainy day boredom during my childhood summers in South Dakota.
January 17: http://authorexpressions.blogspot.com/
A five star review from blogger Dalene on her A Date With A Book blog has me on cloud nine.
I write about coincidence on my January 14 guest post at The LadyKillers blog. Is it possible to plan to be in the right place at the right time?
By this time, many New Year’s resolutions have already fallen by the wayside. With this comes a sense of despair and self-blame. Why try? I’m just going to fail. The New Year’s Resolution has an undeserved mystique. Resolutions are merely goals. I break them down into four keys.
1) Keep your goals in front of your face. Do you remember last year’s resolutions? Probably not, if you didn’t write them down. Don’t make verbal resolutions. They are easy to forget.
2) Set quantifiable goals. A vague “I will be a better person” is a set-up for failure. How will you determine whether you achieved this? “I will visit Auntie in the old folks’ home once a month” or “I will volunteer X hours this year at the food pantry” can be measured.
3) Include methods for achieving your resolutions. Getting in shape, writing a novel, or advancing your career sound great. How are you going to get there? Joining a gym or running club? Taking a creative writing class or joining a critique group? Going for a certification in your field?
4) Don’t define a setback as a failure. If your resolution was to start an exercise program, and you haven’t yet, this is not a fail. It is a delay. Start now.
Write down goals that are quantifiable, and include a defined route to achievement. Here is how I put these keys to work in my writing.
The Spreadsheet – I have an Excel file I name Writing Log 20xx, updating it for the current year. There is a tab for each month. I save it to my computer desktop. Every time I work on my fiction, blog, do promotional work, or volunteer with a writing group, I open the file so I can log those hours. If I am working longhand, I jot my time at the top of my paper, to be logged later.
With a spreadsheet, you can see at a glance when you are productive, and when you are slacking off. By the way, I did a similar spreadsheet a few years ago when I decided to run a marathon. I kept track of the miles I ran, the time, gym workouts, and race stats.
My writing log satisfies the quantifiable part of goal setting. I also have an annual goal list. Write X number of short stories, finish a novel-in-progress, submit X times, attend a conference. As I achieve a particular goal, I strikethrough it. By keeping my log on my desktop and using it on an almost daily basis, I keep my goals in front of my face.
And the setback part? Sometimes I set too many goals, or life interferes with serious business that must be attended to, like illness in the family. I don’t count that as a failure. At the end of the year, I evaluate my goal list. Did I reach too high? Was part of my goal (like making a sale) out of my control?
I did finish my first marathon, but not before the official cutoff time. I evaluated my goal, and decided my training program was more suited for a 5K runner. I was lazy. The next year, I upped my miles and hours, and stuck more closely to a defined training program. I finished within the cutoff time. Not a lofty goal in the wider world of athletics, perhaps, but achievable considering my age and fitness level.
What if you’ve already gotten off on the wrong foot with this year’s resolutions? You can adjust your list, or scrap it. Start a new one. New Year’s Resolutions should not be a perpetual failure tradition. Think of them as tools to guide you to achieving your dreams.
On a recent visit to the Denver Museum of Nature and Science http://bit.ly/19YhpPJ I spent time in the Gems and Minerals exhibit. An incredible display of gold and silver dazzles visitors, but the gemstones are what held my attention.
In my novel, Barton Potts is an amateur prospector who mines topaz on a small claim. I searched the exhibit for topaz, so I could show readers what the “raw” gem looks like, and why my protagonist Morgan was baffled by their value.
I had competition in my search. A group of young teens fascinated by the museum gemstone displays exclaimed over the beauty of the cut stones, pointing and claiming, “That one’s mine!”
Entering one alcove, I was stunned by a huge red rhodochrosite crystal. I tried to imagine the excitement of the miner who made the discovery.
Then I watched a continuously scrolling video about aquamarine, the Colorado state gemstone. Steve Brancato from the television program Prospectors http://wxch.nl/1fYex65 was featured. He discovered the best aquamarine pocket ever found in North America. The museum displays the actual find, worth possibly two million dollars.
Colorado has at least thirty varieties of gemstones. While the state was known for gold and silver in times past, gemstones are drawing more attention today.
Lisa Haselton reviews Stone Cold Dead - A Rock Shop Mystery on her award winning blog Reviews and Interviews December 27. You can read the review here:
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