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What I’ve Been Reading…

 

When I wasn’t shopping, putting up the tree, decorating, and cooking, I spent December indulging in everything Christmas. I had read Kate Kingsbury before and decided to read the new one that came out this year as well as some of her back list. If you are a fan of Downton Abbey, which I am, you will love this series. Since I have read a few already, I have come to love the characters. Cecily Sinclair Baxter is the protagonist. She owns the Pennyfoot Hotel/Country Club. There have been so many murders around the holidays that everyone has come to think of the Pennyfoot having a holiday curse. Luckily Cecily has a knack at solving the mysteries. You will get entangled in the lives of the servants as well as Cecily. These stories are satisfying cozy reads and you too will become attached to the characters. I picked up several from this series but only managed to read two. The rest will have to wait till next December. Here are my thoughts on December 2012 reads.

First I read ‘Herald of Death’ –  This one involves a murderer who kills with a different method each time but leaves an Angel sticker on the victim’s forehead. I would give this one 4 stars.

‘The Clue is in the Pudding’ – involves a maid finding a dead guest in his bed. At first it looks like he was poisoned by some Christmas pudding served by the new housekeeper. Pudding the cook was saving for guests for Christmas day. You then discover that though she might have a motive so do several more characters. 4 stars.

Santa Cruise‘ by Mary Higgins Clark and Carol Higgins Clark was the third book from December. I have read a couple other from this series co-written by mother and daughter but it had been a while. This one was okay but found myself not caring so much about the characters. To be honest, I had a hard time telling who was the protagonist of this story. The characters who appear in the series are Regan Reilly a private investigator and her husband head of the NYPD Major Case Squad. I would have assumed they were the main characters but it felt more like Alvirah Meehan, a lottery winner who must have solved a few crimes in previous books in this series was also telling the story. Needless to say, I did finish it, something I don’t always do now – so many books – so little time. If you like a cozy mystery set on the sea, do check this one out. I would give this one 2 stars.

I resolve to continue reading. I believe you have to read to write. What have you been reading? Any suggestions for 2013?

Till next time,

Virginia

 

 
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Posted by on January 1, 2013 in What I'm Reading

 

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G is for Goal

“The trouble with doing nothing is you never know when you’re finished.” – Anonymous

Goal setting is the one thing you do just for you. No one else really cares what your goals are because it isn’t important to them. Not like it is for you.

Once you decide what it is that you want to accomplish, then you can determine what your goal is. If you want to complete a manuscript, you could set a goal of writing for a specific amount of time, each day, week, and month. I wouldn’t suggest making your goal all about time though. You could spend an hour a day sitting in front of a blank page and not get anywhere. I would suggest making a specific goal that you can measure, like 500 words a day or a page a day.  Don’t start out with a goal that is not realistic. Set a goal that is achievable and then raise it.

Once you’ve met your goal, reward yourself. I am one of those people who can handle delayed gratification, at least for a while. I often watch last season’s television shows because by the time I hear people talking about the current season it’s usually half over. So what I do is order the previous season on Netflix. After I meet a goal, I give myself an evening with True Blood, The Walking Dead, or Downton Abbey. I can indulge without guilt because I met my goal.

Find what works best for you but be realistic. Your goal must be specific, it must be measurable, and you need to have a completion date to aim form. It’s okay to have a long term goal but give yourself those baby steps along the way. Nothing is more frustrating than working toward something and not seeing any progress. Those short term goals will get you to that long term goal of a finished manuscript.

Do you have goals and do you reward yourself?

 
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Posted by on June 16, 2012 in Writing a Novel

 

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Baby Steps…

I find that as I get older it takes me longer to do things, with work and my other activities it cuts into my actual writing time. Because of some health concerns, I have had to look at losing weight and getting more fit. I have made getting fit a priority whether I wanted to or not. I am working on finding a balance between fitness and writing that will enable me to succeed at both. I have learned to say no to some foods and I am learning to say no to things that are keeping me from my writing goals.

Here are some of the things I do that feed my desire to write:

  • I belong to a couple different writers’ groups and have for a while. I think meeting regularly with writers gives me the outlet I need to want to continue. I watch their success and it feeds my desire to succeed. Two of our members, who write as a team, had their first book published, ‘Desperate Housedogs’. It is the first of four that they sold and the second will be coming out some time soon. It is titled ‘Get Fluffy’. You need to check them out.
  • I am critiquing with another member of IRN and that has helped feed my desire to write. My critique partner Kelly writes so well, it truly is a pleasure to read her stuff. The story I am currently reading has been chosen as a finalist in a writing contest from an RWA chapter in Texas. I am looking forward to seeing her win.
  • The one thing I am doing as part of Iowa Romance Authors is a weekly post to the members to motivate and encourage. It is just a small piece and doesn’t take long. I do well with deadlines so this is a good fit. I know they expect it from me and I hate disappointing people. Now if I could only get that attitude with my own writing.
  • I have a 40 minute commute daily for work and have been listening to the Craft CD’s from RWA as I drive. If you have ever been thinking about joining the organization, these alone are worth it.  This week I listened to Suzanne Brockman and Lee Child do a workshop. They discussed how to draw both male and female readers. Sounded like Lee had a good time with the mostly female audience, he had some great ideas. It was really entertaining. Another one was with Alexandra Sokoloff. She is a Hollywood screenwriter turned novelist. She had some great suggestions for the planning process.

A few things I have given up:

  • Last year I served on the Iowa Romance Novelist’s board as Treasurer and Secretary of the local Sister’s in Crime chapter. Granted it wasn’t real time consuming but it was two more items on my ever growing to do list. I decided to step back from board activities this year to focus more on my own work.
  • I use rewards for my weight loss. When I reach 5, 10, 15, 20 pounds lost, I plan to reward myself. I am doing the same thing with writing. Television is a reward. I will not watch garbage just to avoid writing. I am not a saint; there are some shows I really love. Have not become a fan of Downton Abbey yet but I might down the road. There are so many bad shows on television I have turned to Netflix. I order the DVD’s and then I can watch exactly what I want to watch, when I want to watch it. That is the trick. That little DVD can sit there forever until I’ve written what I need to write for the day. Then I can reward myself with an episode of ‘Supernatural’, ‘Haven’, or whatever older series I’m currently trying to catch up on.
  • Books – I confess, I am a bibliophile, I love books. I use them as rewards for both weight loss and writing. I save buying them until I have earned them.

I admit I get discouraged because I wish I had longer periods of time to sit down and actually write but in reality I don’t. I have to learn to be happy with the 10-20 minutes at a time I get most days and just push forward instead of thinking it’s not worth the effort. Anything in the right direction should be worth it.

Writing is more than sitting down typing words. Even when I am not actually writing, I am usually thinking about the story as I go about my everyday business. That can pull me into the story when I do find the time.

I have continued to work out the details of my story and characters and though it’s not exactly the story I thought it was with the first scene that came to me, I think it’s a better story for having taken the time to let everything percolate. It’s like digging for stuff in the sand at the beach, most of the time you will get someone else’s smashed pop can or cigarette butt but occasionally you find a sea shell or a sand dollar, or if you’re lucky the diamond ring someone lost 50 years ago. I think I’ve let it stew long enough. This is the week that I will get back to my novel. I just have to have guts enough to write a crappy first draft to get it done.

I keep working toward my weight loss goals and feel I’ve met with some success. My goal is 1.5 lbs. a week. So far I am down 6 in 4 weeks. They may be baby steps but they are in the right direction. I will use that attitude toward my writing goal.  Baby steps can get me to The End.

What keeps you motivated to write when you can’t sit down for long periods of time each day?

Virginia

 
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Posted by on February 25, 2012 in Writing a Novel

 

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