Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Art of Doing Nothing

Well, not exactly nothing. (And I certainly haven't been wearing those shoes around. I've mostly been wearing my Ugg slippers). I've been baking. I've been cleaning. I've been shopping. I've even been working on that accounting thing I told you about. But, and this is a big but, what I haven't been doing is writing.

I hit this brick wall on my WIP a couple of weeks ago. It started with some minor feedback I received from a reputable source. And it just escalated out of control after I signed the accounting client. You'll remember my last post blamed it on the battle between the two sides of my brain. But I've come to realize that's not really the problem. The problem is that my WIP has a slight glitch(okay, maybe major...depending on who you ask), and I don't know how to fix it. So I've found every excuse in the book to do nothing about it.

I've been in this spot before, and eventually I was able to move past it. I'm sure that will be the case this time. But I need to be realistic about the timing of that move. Things are always hectic during the holidays, and I don't have the time it will require to really delve into this problem. I'm okay with that. My plan is to put the WIP aside until the first of the year. When the hustle of the holidays settle down and I wrap up the work on the BIG client, I think I'll be more equipped to tackle the glitch.

So, ever had a glitch you weren't sure how to fix? Did the answer eventually come to you? Are you writing over these busy holiday times? Or are you taking a little breather?

Monday, December 12, 2011

My Brain's in a Battle with Itself

Seriously, the left and right sides of my brain are going toe to toe, and I'm not sure which one's going to come out on top. I've spent hours zoning in on numbers (you know, the new Accounting client I told you about), and I've spent hours crafting words. The two don't exactly mix.

My head is in an uproar, and I can't wait until it's quiet again. Don't get me wrong...I love both sides of my brain and I would never want to part with either of them, but really, something's gotta give.

In all honesty, I'm exaggerating a little. Things with the new client are going well, and I'm making progress on my WIP. But it's slow going on the writing front, and I think that side of my brain is ticked off. I can't help but wonder if it's not because the other side of my brain is in control right now.

What about you? Ever had your creativity squashed by the other side of the brain? How do you keep that side under control?

Friday, December 9, 2011

From Big Girl Shoes Back to Bare Feet

I've been discussing this blog's journey over the last couple of weeks. I started off with bare feet, as in I didn't have a clue what I was doing and I pretty much shared my thoughts and feelings. Then I started getting to know people around here, came up with the shoe theme, and learned a whole lot about the world of blogging. It's been a great resource for important information, and I met my crit buddies through blogging. I can't say it enough--it has been an awesome experience.

That being said, the stage I'm in now has been a little tough for me. As most of you know, I took a six month break from blogging this past year for a number of reasons. And most of you probably also know that since I've been back, I haven't exactly been keeping on top of things. I'm working on it, though.

So, today I'm going back to the barefoot approach. I'm sharing with you exactly what I'm feeling and thinking. The truth is, some days I can't think of a dang thing to write about here. The creative side of my brain is all spent from working on my WIP. Or from dealing with real life issues. Or from exhaustion due to other responsibilities.

Back in January of this year, I shared some of my goals for 2011. One of them was to improve on social networking. I expressed the hope of increasing quality more so than quantity. In other words, my goal was to step up the quality of my posts, not necessarily to blog more often. I'd say I haven't exactly made much progress on either front. But I know why. Blogging quit being fun for me when I put that expectation of quality in the mix. If I couldn't think of something clever, enlightening, or at least timely to post about, I just didn't post.

I decided a month or so ago to let go of my self-imposed quality demand for the remainder of 2011. I needed blogging to be fun again. And my hope was that when it was fun again, the quality of posts would increase naturally. Does that make sense?

The good news is, I'm having fun again. Still working on the quality thing, but I'll get there. And until I do, at least I'll be having a good time.

The bad news is, I just took on a new accounting client. The company hasn't kept financial records all year, and they want me to get them caught up. YIKES! It will be quite the task, but I'm ready. After all, numbers are my second love. (I think you all know what my first love is.) Anyway, from now until the end of the year, my blogging time might be limited. I'll still be around, though. How could I not be? I'm having too much fun!

Have a great weekend everyone!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

From School Girl Shoes to Big Girl Shoes...

Or more specifically, I-think-I'm-a-big-girl shoes. If you've been reading my last few posts, you know that I've been reflecting on my blog's evolution. We've covered the newbie stage, the getting acquainted stage, and the discovery stage. Today, I want to talk about the overly confident stage.

When I first started out, I never thought anyone would be reading, so I wrote pretty much whatever I wanted to write. Then, when a few people began following my blog, I started paying attention to what material I was making public. I also started following other blogs and forming close friendships (if not friendships, then at the very least, common bonds). And eventually, I realized all the information blogging provided.

Now this next stage was not intentional, but it did in fact happen. I took all that information I had learned and started sharing it with all of my readers. My followers increased, and I thought I really knew what I was doing around here. You know, kind of like a fifteen-year-old girl who thinks she knows way more than her mother does. I was a big girl. I knew everything. There was absolutely nothing else to learn.


I figured that out real fast. Not only with blogging, but with my writing as well. During this know-it-all stage, I acquired several beta readers/crit partners. Around the same time I realized I didn't know everything about blogging, I also realized I didn't know everything, or even hardly anything, about writing. And I have those beta readers/crit partners to thank for it. And in a direct way, I have blogging to thank for it too. If I hadn't been blogging, the only people who would have read my writing would have been my ever-praising mother and my easy-to-please teenage daughter. I would have gone on thinking my writing was brilliant. Thinking that all these agents and publishers were crazy for not appreciating it. Sulking because the whole business is all about luck and not about talent. (All of these things, by the way, are so not true!)

Anyway, I'd have to say that this is absolutely the greatest benefit blogging has had for me. Don't get me wrong, I love all my friends around here even if they aren't crit buddies. And I still garner extremely important information. But my crit pals...well...they changed my writing. Which is the reason I started blogging in the first place.

Okay, so there's probably already a day for this (there seems to be a day for everything anymore), but I officially declare this day, December 7th, National Thank Your Crit Buddies Day.

So, to my awesome critters (you know who you are), THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU!

Anyone else have any critters to thank?

Monday, December 5, 2011

From Baby Shoes to School Girl Shoes

If you were around here last week, you know that I've been taking a look back at the evolution of this blog. So far, we've gone from the days before shoes to the baby shoes. Today, I want to talk about the School-Girl-Shoe stage.

This is the stage that I discovered the wealth of information available to me at my fingertips. I was like a first grader learning to read, write, add, and subtract. I took in all the information, knowing it was preparing me for my future as a famous, best-selling author.

I learned things I never would have if I hadn't started blogging. It was amazing. The informative aspect of blogging took a center-stage role. Although, the social aspect remained equally important.

Blogging became more than I ever imagined it would be. I made great friends and got a first-rate education to boot (no shoe pun intended here). It doesn't get much better than that. Oh, wait, it does. But we'll talk about that next time.

So, what aspect of blogging do you appreciate most? The social? Or the informative? Or are you like me and the two go hand-in-hand?

Friday, December 2, 2011

So I went from no shoes to baby shoes ...

Wednesday, I talked about the early days of my blog, the days before the shoes. Today, I want to talk about the next stage--the baby learning to walk stage.

Just like a young toddler when they first begin to walk, I explored the blogosphere with determination. I wanted to go anywhere and everywhere. It was all so new and exciting. The thing I found most fascinating was the kind reception I received. These people, these people I had never met before, welcomed me with open arms. And suddenly, I was a member of something I didn't even know existed--a community of aspiring authors just like myself. It was magical for me at the time, a dream come true.

This is why all of you out there (you know, all you people I've never actually met) hold such a special place in my heart. You made me feel normal for having these dreams of becoming published. You listened to me fail. You cheered my successes. You taught me so much. And for that, I will always be thankful.

Now, it's your turn. When you first learned what blogging was all about, what fascinated you most? Like childhood, do you kind of miss those innocent days? I do.

That's all for now, but please promise to have a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Before there were shoes ...

Some of you may not know that this blog didn't always have shoes. It had no theme. It had no direction. It was, well, blah!

For some reason, I've been reflecting about how this blog started, the path it has followed, and where it is now. I've decided I need a fresh perspective. And what better way to gain that than to look back at the beginning and appreciate how far this blog has come? Over the next few posts, I'm going to take you on a walk in this blog's shoes.

When I first started this blog, it was purely personal. I never thought anyone would actually read it. It was a diary of sorts where I could write down all my thoughts and feelings about my writing journey. It was bare of shoes and filled with emotion. Nothing wrong with that. At least not back then. It served its purpose at the time, but times changed. A few fellow writers started following and commenting. It was no longer personal. It was public. So, the blog had to change. Thus the shoe theme was born.

What about you? How did your blog start out? And what did it mean to you?

Monday, November 28, 2011

These Shoes Are UNTRACEABLE!

They are also the shoes of Grace Wells, the main character in UNTRACEABLE by S.R. Johannes. (Scheduled for release tomorrow.) I'm thrilled to have Ms. Johannes here with us today. And what, you may ask, is she going to talk about? Well, shoes of course. So let's get started. (I apologize in advance for the the formatting. I can't get it to all stop jumbling together.) You make several references to shoes in UNTRACEABLE. Dr. Head wears Vans. Wyn wears Converse. Les wears worn out, old boots. What do these shoes say about the characters? I never understood Vans – they seem like an ugly slipper. I would say it’s retro relaxed with a slight nod to fashion. I see Dr. Head as a man from the 60s – the hair and the horn rimmed glasses. Wyn wears tan converse. He’s a little more fashionable than most people in his town - though he pretends not to be. I think Wyn doesn’t belong there in that town anymore. He’s the guy who has bigger dreams than to live in a small town. His converse imply he has a fashion sense yet they are not that reliable or durable. They are a little soft and don’t have much function. This is the total opposite of Grace. Yet Converse have a classic style and are very comfortable and casual. That is Wyn. 2. As for Grace, you only mention her boots. In one scene, she chooses to wear her "best" boots to impress Mo. I'm dying to know, though, what shoes would Grace wear with her vintage Sesame Street t-shirts (if she's not out in the woods)? What would she wear if, God forbid, she ever had to go to a formal event such as prom? Or a wedding? And what do Grace’s shoe choices say about her? Grace is practical not fashionable. Her hiking shoes are all about dependability, reliability, and comfort. Yet they are about adventure and nature. I think that says a lot about her. If it were summer – she would probably be in Keens – part sandal, part outdoor, part hiking. Grace wouldn’t go to prom – especially not a in a dress. But if she did – she would be in converse and somehow make it go with her dress. Since she is only 16, I’m sure her tastes would change. But I could see her wearing cowboy boots under her wedding dress. Even if they are white. Grace is practical not fashionable. Her hiking shoes are all about dependability, reliability, and comfort. Yet they are about adventure and nature. 3. Okay, we've talked about Grace's shoes. Now let's talk about your shoes. Take us on a little walk in your shoes. How good does it feel to finally see your book in print? How long of a journey has this been for you? What have been the highs? The lows? Any advice for all the aspiring authors out there? For the last 8 years – I’ve been trying to get published. I’ve had 4 books go to acquisitions. Two of those - a MG and Nonfiction book – went before I got an agent. After I signed with a top agent and a top NY agency, I had 2 more books go to acquisitions – a tween paranormal and this YA thriller – Untraceable. Last spring, at some point early in the submission process of Untraceable, after only a few rejections, my agent felt I should shelf my book after the first round. Most books get about 3 rounds and I was determined not to give up on Untraceable. After some back and forths - we decided to part ways so I could get a fresh perspective on my writing and the Book. I believed in this book that much. Over the next couple of months, I queried a handful of my top agents to see if they would pick up Untraceable for a couple more rounds. Unfortunately, since the book had already been seen a handful of editors – even thought it had gone to acquisitions at one house– no one wanted to touch the book. They were all more interested in my WIP that was still in its first draft and at least 6 months away from being complete. During that whole time, my anxiety and frustration mounted. I knew in my heart I was good enough and that Untraceable was good enough. But I could not convince anyone to stand by me. I had been working on this book for so long that after much thinking – I decided Grace deserved to go out into the world. Even if I had to put her out there myself. She had no future in traditional publishing due to everything that happened. I just figured I would use all my marketing skills to put out a product I was proud of in my own way. It wasn’t an easy decision – I wanted en editor so bad, I wanted a publishing house behind me. But that was not in the cards for Untraceable or me at the time. And to be honest, I was tired of someone else being responsible for my dream. It was time I take charge. But I will say – indie pubbing is not the easy way out. It is a long uphill battle and you have to be prepared to do it the right way with little reward. Untraceble was in my heart and I needed to put it out there. I’d work hard for 8 years, been patient, and almost made it – this was the only path for me at this point.
Summary: (from goodreads) 16 year old Grace was reared in the wilderness. Her first pet was a bear named Simon. Her first potty, an oak tree. And, her first swing, a forest vine. Grace has lived in the Smokies all her life, patrolling with her forest ranger father who taught her everything he knew about wildlife, tracking, and wilderness survival. When Grace's dad goes missing on a routine patrol, unlike everyone in her sleepy mountain town, she refuses to believe he’s dead. After finding a Cheetos bag and stolen government file, Grace is convinced she’s one step closer to proving all the non-believers wrong. One day, while out tracking clues, Grace is rescued from imminent danger by Mo, a hot guy who has an intoxicating accent and a secret. Grace has never felt a connection like this before, certainly not with her ex-boyfriend, the adoring, but decidedly unrugged, Wyn. After a few run-ins with the town's police chief, her father's partner, and some new evidence, Grace travels deeper into the wilderness that has always been her refuge only to learn that her father's disappearance is not a mere coincidence. Soon she’s enmeshed in a web of conspiracy, deception, and murder. And it’s going to take a lot more than a compass and a motorcycle (named Lucifer) for this kick-butting heroine to emerge from an epidemic that’s spreading like wild fire, threatening everything and everyone she’s ever loved. Sounds good, doesn't it? Well, it is. I fell in love with the characters and the plot. Johannes does an excellent job of bringing the setting to life. It has so much to offer--romance, adventure, emotional trials. Just read it already! You'll see what I mean.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Yes, it's Turkey Week...

I won't be around much this week, but I did want to tell you about this awesome contest K.M. Walton is having. In an effort to get some buzz going about her debut contemporary YA novel, CRACKED (Simon Pulse ~ Simon & Schuster January 3, 2012), she has launched a live action book trailer contest. Prizes include the opportunity for budding filmmakers to get their one minute trailer critiqued by ten top industry professionals (an Oscar nominated producer team, writers for the MTV Movie Awards, the director of Entertainment Tonight, an award winning independent filmmaker, two accomplished television producers, a film agent, and the director of the movie THE MIGHTY MACS). There is also a top cash prize of $500. The Filmmaker’s Kit, promotional flyer, and complete contest details can be found at Good luck to anyone who enters, and have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Hanging Up My Shoes Worked Again!

I figured since I posted a pair of winter boots Monday, I should balance it out with some flip flops today. And what better way to do it, than to talk about how every time I hang up my shoes (take a blogging break) someone I know around here gets good news.

For you new people, this post from last December will explain the phenomenon:

This may be my greatest Tuesday Tip ever! Don't believe me? Well, just keep reading. If you've been around here long enough, you know that when I get overwhelmed with the whole blogging thing, I take a break. What you may not know is that these breaks benefit you (my followers) as much as they benefit me. You see, every time I go on a break, someone who follows me (sometimes more than one person) signs with an agent or sells a book. Really, I'm not joking. During one of my breaks, my friends Roni Loren and Kate Walton both signed with agents. During my next break, my friend Tere Kirkland signed with an agent. The following break, Roni and Kate both sold their books. Most recently, on my last break, my friend Sherrie Petersen signed with an agent. (If you haven't already, you should go congratulate her.) See what I'm saying? My breaks bring good fortune to my bloggy friends. So, my Tuesday tip this week is this: if you want to find an agent or to sell a book, just follow me and strongly encourage me to take a break. I guarantee one of you will get exactly what you want.

Here we are almost a year later and my latest break brought this good news: My crit buddy, J.B. Chicoine (Bridget) signed a contract with Rhemalda Publishing for her novel, UNCHARTED. If you don't already know Bridget, go by and congratulate her here. It will be well worth your time.

So, anyone else get good news during my last break?

Monday, November 14, 2011 all time favorite shoes ever!

Now, let me set one thing straight. I hate, I mean really, really hate, cold weather. But I do love my Ugg boots! Who doesn't? Stylish on the outside. Comfy-cozy on the inside. Oh, and the best part is, they make me feel young. You wanna know why? Because teenagers wear them too.

Okay, those of you who know me, know that this isn't a plug for Ugg boots and that I'm actually going somewhere with this. So, I'll get to it.

As you can see from my profile, I write young adult fiction. I'm drawn to this genre because it's where I feel my author's voice fits best. I'm no expert in the genre, but throughout my journey, I have learned a lot. One thing that I've heard over and over again is the importance of using strong verbs. I understand the concept, and I do see the importance. But I also feel that the use of a strong verb sometimes undermines the voice. In my opinion, voice trumps rules any day.

Have you ever heard a teenager tell a story? It's always something like...

"So I was walking down the street, and this kid comes out of nowhere." or "I go into the kitchen, and someone freakin' ate my chocolate pudding." or "I'm already late, so I head straight to my first hour class."

Notice it's always verbs like "walk", "comes", "go", "head". Personally, I don't think they can relate to words like "promenade", "lollop", "perambulate". These are exaggerated examples, but I like to exaggerate when making a point. Now, I'm not saying we shouldn't try to use stronger verbs, but I am saying, I don't think we should sacrifice voice to do it.

Bottom line is, the best scenario is to find verbs that are both strong and fit with a teen voice. Like the Ugg boots. They can be enjoyed by adults and teens alike.

What do you think? How would you rank the importance of the use of strong verbs? Got any examples of good, solid, strong, teen verbs?

Friday, October 7, 2011

You Guys Are The Best!

Thanks to all of you for your help on my Blogger problem. I think it's all fixed now. Between your suggestions and provided links, I stumbled across the solution. My browser was out of date. I switched to Google Chrome, and everything seems to be working great! So...THANK YOU! I apologize for the lack of a shoe picture, but in my defense, I didn't plan on posting today. But I did want to pop in and express my gratitude. The support around here is amazing...from writing issues to computer problems. Anyway, I've got a busy day ahead of me and won't be around much. Have a great weekend, and I'll see you all next week!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

I Know You've Been Here...

I see the footprints you left behind. But, I don't know who you are. Ever since I came back to blogging a few weeks ago, I've been unable to access my followers. It's really getting annoying! Does anyone know what I can do about that? Google help says to clear my cache. Say what? What's a cache?

I do realize I've just publicized my lack of computer knowledge, but I need help here, people! If anyone has any suggestions, please either comment here or email me directly. My email is on my profile page.

As for all of my new followers...Welcome! Glad to have you, and I hope to come visit you as soon as I can find you. Until then, happy blogging and thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Signs of Fall...

In Kansas, Sunflowers are a dead giveaway that fall has arrived. They grow wild and are a common sight. But do they float? Why, you may ask, would I want to know that? Well, research for my latest project, of course. Why else?

Anyway, I wanted to pull over to the side of the road and cut one, but the time never felt right. I was either running late for something or the car behind me seemed to be in a hurry. Stopping right in the middle of the road would have been rude. So, I did what any other self-respecting author would do and bribed my eldest child to go out and cut one for me.

FYI...Sunflowers do float. In fact, one is floating in my bath tub right now.

So, what's the craziest research project you've ever done? Come on...please tell. It has to be worse than mine. Right? Please tell me it's worse than mine...

Friday, September 9, 2011

Not Sure If I'm Coming or Going These Days...

It's been one of those weeks. Too much stuff going on to keep up, but I will say this, I've acquired a lot of good fodder in my comings and goings. It's amazing what ideas strike at the least expected times!

Before I continue, I'd like to thank my good friend, Lily Robinson, for the shoe picture. She sent me an email with several, and this one was perfect for how I'm feeling now.

Okay, so, where was I? Oh, yes. Fodder. It comes at the oddest times. My kids, all three of them, have had life changing events this week. It's a lot to deal with, especially since not all of the events were good. But, here's what I bad as things can get for my normal, run-of-the-mill kids (our last name is Mills for a reason, you know), it has to be even worse for my characters. In fact, it has to be so devastatingly worse, that I wouldn't wish that kind of pain on my most awful enemy.

At first, I was hesitant to cause my characters so much suffering. Just like I am with my kids. The last thing I want is for them to go through anything less than utter happiness. But then (and I knew it all along but refused to admit it), I realized my characters would suffer a far greater defeat if I didn't really let them have it. They'd never see the light of day if I didn't put them through the most awful kind of hell.

So I did. And, you know what else I realized? Writing hell for my characters made all the little crappy things my own kids were going through seem like a walk in the park (trite, I know, but this a blog, people, not a novel!)

Anyways, my point is this...writing YA has always been an escape for me. It took me back to my own youth. Now, it's an even greater escape. I get to take all the bad stuff that happens to my kids, quadruple it, and dump it in the lap of my characters. It doesn't get much better than that.

Do you ever transfer your own suffering, or that of your family, onto your characters?

Have a great weekend!

Friday, September 2, 2011

These Shoes Are So Familiar

They're just another pair of flip flops. Sure, they're pink and all, but I've seen a million pair exactly the same. Doesn't mean I don't like them, but it does mean I'm not going to rush out and buy them. And, I'm certainly not going to call all of my friends and tell them they MUST. BUY. THESE. SHOES.

So, I was reading this published book last night, and the strangest thing happened. I started having deja-vu. I mean in a bad way. It kept going and going and going...(you get the point). Finally, I realized what the problem was. It wasn't deja-vu at all. I had written the exact same scenario three months ago. My first thought was that this author had stolen my premise. Then, I came to my senses. There's no way she could have stolen my material. After all, this book was published three years ago. I finally accepted the fact that my "never-been-done-before" premise had, in fact, been done before.

I reacted the exact same way any self-respecting author would react. I ranted and raved, throwing a hissy fit like no other, and then collapsed in a bath of pity tears.

Then, I picked myself up, dusted myself off, and had a burning of the "never-been-done-before" premise party. I watched three months of work (thank God above it wasn't more than that) go up in flames. All I can say is, as painful as it was to throw a beloved project to the wayside, it was far less painful than actually finishing the project, submitting it, and then being told it had been done before.

This, my friends, is why we should read! Especially in our genre. You never know, your next brilliant idea just might have been done before.

So, has this ever happened to you? It stinks, doesn't it?

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

My Great Escape...

I know I've been talking a lot about blogging (or the lack thereof) since my return, and I'm sure you are like "blah, blah, blah...not again." But I do need to talk about one more thing...the pleasures of blogging. You see, it's not a chore. It really is fun. (You do know there's no way those are my feet in the picture, don't you? If I'm on the couch, you can bet I'm in pajamas and slippers, not heels!)

Life has thrown me for a few loops over the last year, and I haven't been around as much as I used to be. I've missed it, though. I've missed the constant inflow of information. I've missed the valuable writing exchanges. But, most of all, I've missed the friendships I've made here and the escape they provide. It's kind of like the CHEERS theme song...sometimes you wanna go where everybody knows your name, and they're always glad you came...

That's what this place is for me. It's a place I can come to, no matter what else is going on, and have a good time; hook up with like-minded people; and explore my writing ambitions. There's nowhere else like that (at least not in my little world).

So, I'm done ranting about the time-suck that social networking has become, and I'm ready to enjoy all the things it has to offer. Who's with me?

(On a side note, I enabled the pop-up feature for my comments because several of you weren't able to comment. I hope that fixed the problem. If not, please email me and let me know. Also, thanks to everyone who wished me a happy birthday on Facebook. It really made my day!)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Am I Getting Ahead Of Myself?

Probably, cause I tend to do that every once in a while. Oh, who am I kidding...I tend to do it a lot.

I know many of you participated in the WriteOnCon conference last week and heard much of what I'm about to say. But, for those of you who didn't, this info may be useful.

We've all heard conflicting opinions about the importance of having a web presence even before publication. It was a hot topic at the conference, and from what I can tell, still up for debate. Some agents feel it is of huge ginormous (is that a word?) importance. Others feel it is insignificant at the pre-signing stage. The one thing they all agree on is that after taking on a client, they expect said client to develop a web presence if they have not already done so.

The way I figure, I may be getting ahead of myself, but I'm still getting ahead, right? Maybe it doesn't matter today, but in the long run, this part of my journey will already be on its way.

That being said, I think David Weisman made a good point about my blogging activity here. I did burn out. And, it was because I thought way too hard about what to post. I set myself up for failure when I insisted that every post be a meaningful one about writing with a corresponding shoe to boot (no pun intended).

Bottom line is this...I was so intent on enlightening all of you with my brilliance (and trust me, I'm BRILLIANT!) that I quit having fun. So, no more. I'm here. I'm going to have fun. And if I'm getting ahead of myself, so be it. At least I'm having a good time, right? Just don't expect any more brilliant posts. And definitely DO NOT expect any kind of regular schedule. I've decided to approach blogging like I do the rest of my life...whatever happens, happens.

I know I've been flippant here, but in all seriousness, how do you view blogging? Is it another task in your already too full to-do list? Is it your method of socializing? Or is it a means to a desirable end? Regardless of what it is to you, when it stops being fun, it stops being useful.

(Oh, and Blogger, I still can't see my followers. Do you think you could help me out? You know, so I can have fun!)

Friday, August 19, 2011

Blogger Gave Me A Good Swift Kick

Yeah, that's right. I finally come back, and Blogger lets me have it. Oh, Blogger, why so angry? Is it because I was away for so long? Or is it because you didn't want me to come back? What? What is it?

Wait, I know. It's because you're annoyed by all the shoes I post. That's it, isn't it?

Okay, okay. I'll admit it.

It wasn't entirely Blogger's fault. It was...err...more along the lines of user error. Apparently, I had my cookie filter set too high and wasn't able to comment on some of your posts. Problem solved now, though, so I hope to get around to you all today. (And, Blogger, I'm sorry about all those nasty names I called you. I didn't mean it. Really, I didn't.)

Anyway, I guess I missed a lot of big things while I was gone. Blogger had an epic fail????? Say what????? Of course, I'm probably glad I missed that, huh? Sounded horrible!

But, I also missed the news that my friend, Carol Riggs, signed with an agent. Congratulations, Carol!

And, I almost missed WriteOnCon. Oh, what a tragedy that would have been! (By the way, that's where I've spent most of my time the last three days). It was amazing! If you didn't participate, you can still access the conference events at the WriteOnCon website here. It will be well worth your time, trust me. And it's totally free!

Okay, I think that's all I have to talk about. Oh, wait, one more thing...thank you all for your big-ole warm welcome back. It was awesome! (And on a side note to Blogger...I still can't see my followers, and I have a couple of new ones I'd like to go visit. What's up with that? I thought we were all good...)

Have a great weekend! (Well, not you, Blogger. You better be working hard this weekend to fix all my blogging problems!)

Monday, August 15, 2011

Who Could Forget These Shoes?????

I posted them here over two years ago, yet I remember them clearly. I hope the same can be said about me. I've been gone a long, long time. Six months to be exact. And, I'm hoping not much has changed. (Other than a lot of good stuff, of course!) Many of you contacted me privately or through Facebook and Twitter, and I can't tell you how much I appreciated it. You are all the best things that ever walked the face of the Blogosphere! Oh my! Where did the time go????? Well, I could tell you, but I'm pretty sure you'd be bored out of your minds. So, I'll leave it alone. Let's just say that real life took over. Most of it good...some of it not so good. At any rate, I'm back now, and I couldn't be happier. I can't wait to catch up with everyone. I'm guessing I missed a lot of breaking news (agent signings, books selling, etc.), so please share. What's been going on?

Monday, March 28, 2011

Hello All!

I've been away for a while, and I miss all of you. Unfortunately, it will be a bit longer. I had a really busy month, and then last Monday, my computer got a virus! It's being fixed, but I'm not sure how long it will it take. Anyway, I just wanted to stop in and say thanks to all of you for your kind emails. I can't wait to catch up with you when I can. In the mean time, I hope all is well.

Friday, February 18, 2011

These Shoes Are So Similar...

But if you look close enough, you'll see that one pair is shinier than the other. I've been talking to you this week about the three qualities that Mary Kole believes separates the aspiring writer from the published author. We've talked about character and voice. Now, we're going to talk about the third quality--Authority. The word itself is self-explanatory, but what does it mean when it comes to our writing? According to Ms. Kole, it means writing with confidence. Ms. Kole feels that this takes time, and lots of it. It's the point at which you become a true story teller. When a writer reaches this level, mistakes and breaking of the rules go unnoticed. In fact, the author bends the rules in his favor. This brings to mind the whole "know the rules so you know when to break them" concept. Again, there's no specific formula for getting to this point. It's all about practice and more practice. Ms. Kole stressed that each of our journeys will be different. One of us might acquire these three qualities sooner than another, but if we keep at it, every single one of us can and will get there. She closed the Webinar with these four pointers: 1. Keep honing the craft 2. Enjoy and respect the journey 3. Get at least one crit partner 4. Keep learning the marketplace So, there you have it. I wish I had more concrete advice for all of you, but this has given me a lot to think about, and to work on. Which I'm going to be doing a lot of over the next week. Yes, it's time for me to take another break. I'll be back on the 28th. Until then, if any of you get good news (and I'm guessing someone will... happens every time), please email me. I don't think I can wait to hear about it until I return. Have a great weekend, and I'll see you all in a week or so!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Dang! She's got a mouth on her!

When it comes to a pair of shoes, or a nagging woman, this may be a bad thing. But when it comes to writing fiction, a powerful voice is essential. Monday, I talked about character and how it's one of the things that Mary Kole feels separates the unpublished writer from the published author. The second thing is voice. As you all know, voice is near impossible to define. It's not something you can teach. It's not something you can learn. But it is something you can develop over time. And by time, I mean years and years of practice that ultimately result in you finding your own voice. In the Webinar, Mary Kole didn't even attempt to give pointers on the matter. Instead, she named books that she felt were perfect examples of strong voice. Tantalize by Cynthia Leitich Smith and Feed by M. T. Anderson were among this list. She also stated what her most frequent voice notes consist of: dry and clunky writing; reads like a business memo; and too adult (of course this only applies to children's literature). She also commented that the voice must be authentic and natural. No author can force it. Readers, even kids, will notice if you're a poser. So, what did I learn? Well, I didn't get any solid answers, but I did learn that my voice is unique to me, and only practice will get it strong enough for publication. I'm sure you all are a bit disappointed that I didn't have some greater words of wisdom, but we are talking voice here. I'm not sure that anyone can give a concrete explanation of what makes for a good voice other than that it captures the reader and won't let go. What do you think? What makes for a powerful voice?

Monday, February 14, 2011

Interesting Shoes...

They certainly get my attention. They may resemble shoes I'm used to, but there's something a little different about them. This, according to Mary Kole, is what makes for a good character. (Okay, so these shoes aren't appealing on any level, but bear with me... I'm trying to make a point here.) A good character is both a mirror and a window. The reader should see something of themselves in the character, but should also see how the character can take them to somewhere they've never been. This, to a certain extent, mimics the advice of Donald Maass in The Fire In Fiction. If your main character is a hero, give him some quality the reader can relate to. If your main character is an everyday guy, give him some heroic quality. In other words, a hero is naturally a window for the reader. And an everyday guy is naturally a mirror. As authors, we need to make sure we give the character the ability to be both. Mary Kole feels this is a difficult thing to achieve, and as I mentioned Friday, one of the things that separates an aspiring writer from a published author. I have to admit, I see her point. An unforgettable character is hard to create. That's why I work hard at it every day. So, what do you think makes for an unforgettable character? Oh, and Happy Valentine's Day!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Bring On The Coppertone!

Yes, it's supposed to be a balmy 35 degrees here today. Possibly near 50 by Sunday. It's a heatwave I tell you. A heatwave! I hear dripping outside my window as I type. I'm pretty sure that's the beautiful sound of snow melting. I know I promised to tell you the three things that Mary Kole thinks separates the aspiring writer from the published author, and I still plan on doing so. However, as I started to write out the post, I realized it would be an extra long one. And you all know how I feel about longs posts. So, today, I will list the three things, but save all the details for next week. First, let me say that Ms. Kole considers these three things the last to come together for any writer. They are vague concepts and near impossible to define but unmistakable when achieved. As with everything else in this industry, I'm guessing there is still some subjectivity involved in deciding whether a particular person has mastered these concepts. Still, I think knowing what they are, gives us something to strive for. Okay, so here they are: Character, Voice, and Authority. I told you they were vague, but I promise I'll elaborate a little more next week. Until then, feel free to comment on what these things mean to you. My kids are out of school for conferences (as if they haven't had enough time off for snow days), so it will be a battle for Internet time today no doubt, but I'll be visiting as much as possible. Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

I've Been Wearing These A Lot!

Good thing they're stylish and comfy, huh? Yeah, we got more snow last night. I'm so desperate for good weather that I started rewriting some of my favorite winter songs. Like, instead of "Frosty the Snowman", it's "Toasty the Sandman". Then, instead of "I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas", it's "I'm Screaming for a Bright Marchmas". My latest masterpiece is inspired by "Let It Snow", but I call it "Let It Glow", and it goes something like this: The heat outside is heightening, but the pool is so inviting. I know I'm not the only one trapped in these Winter blues, so I'll quit complaining and get on to the Webinar with Mary Kole. First of all, I'd like to explain that this Webinar was geared for everyone from the beginning writer to the more seasoned, ready to query writer. She covered a lot of ground, much of which you probably already know. I did pick up a few helpful tips, which I will share with you over the next couple of posts. Let's start with querying. Keep in mind that these are just one agent's opinions and may not hold true for all agents. Here's what Mary Kole would like to see in a query: 1. Personalize it--state why you are querying this particular agent 2. Isolate the hook 3. Necessary Info--word count, genre, whether it's a multiple submission 4. Keep the bio brief and to the point 5. Tell about the book: Who is main character? What launches story? What does main character want? What stands in his/her way? What's at stake if he/she doesn't get what he/she wants? On Friday, I'll share with you the three things Mary Kole thinks separates an aspiring writer from a published author. See you then!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Too Many Shoes!

There are so many things I want to blog about today, and I don't know where to start. I planned on telling you a bit about my webinar with Mary Kole, but all these other things came up. So I'll hold off on that until later in the week. For now, I want to thank Nancy for honoring me with The Stylish Blogger Award. She has to be one of the sweetest people I know. I'm not one to follow the rules with these types of awards, but I do want Nancy to know how grateful I am and that I truly appreciate the friendship we've developed here on blogger. If you don't already follow her, you should drop by her place. You're sure to find a heartwarming experience. Also, I want to congratulate Jennifer Shirk on her 3rd book contract. And get this... I wasn't even on a break when this good news came in! (Don't know what I'm talking about? Then click here). Of course, technically, we could say it counts considering my Internet was down last week and I didn't hear the good news until Friday. Yeah, I know that's a stretch, but still... Finally, did you hear about the drawing my awesome friend Kate Walton is having? If not, you should go check it out. The prizes include 7 YA books and a first chapter critique by the lovely Sarah LaPolla of Curtis Brown LTD. It doesn't get much better than that! Okay, this post is long enough. I'm sure there's more I want to talk about, but it will wait until Wednesday. Have a great day!

Friday, February 4, 2011

I've Been A Bad Blogger

But, in my defense, it isn't entirely my fault. Nor is it my fault that I don't have a shoe picture today. All my shoes are buried under 6 foot snow drifts. And with the winter storm, our Internet connection has been sketchy at best, so I haven't been able to get around to visit all of you as much as I'd like. Being trapped at home, however, has allowed me to do a whole bunch of other things. I wrote a lot. I read a lot. I ate a lot. I cleaned a lot. And, I watched way too much television. Lucky for me, our Internet didn't cut out once yesterday when I sat in on a Writer's Digest webinar instructed by Mary Kole of The Andrea Brown Literary Agency. Let me just say, it was fantastic. I'll post about what I learned next week. Until then, I'll be trying to dig some of my shoes out from the snow and reading as many blogs as my Internet connection will allow. Hope you all have a fabulous weekend! And for those of you experiencing the same weather as I am, stay warm and remember that spring is just around the corner.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

I Want To Wear Flip Flops!

And I don't want to wear them in the snow. I also want an 80 degree day with sunshine, a spotless house, and a Hawaiian vacation with my husband. All of these things will come in time... but not now. In a few months, it will be 80 degrees because it will be summer. In a few years, my house will be spotless because my kids will all be out on their own. In a few decades, I will have that vacation to Hawaii because my husband will retire. For now, though, I have to be satisfied with 0 degree temps, a messy, um... I mean cozy home, and a night out on the town with my husband. If I focus only on what I want to change, I miss out on the pleasures of the present. I may want it to be 80 degrees, but there's something to be said for curling up with a good book on a cold winter night. My house might be cleaner when my kids are gone, but it won't feel as homey without the constant activity. And when my husband retires, we may be able to go to Hawaii, but he'll be home EVERY SINGLE DAY, ALL DAY LONG, pacing because he won't know what to do with himself (which will drive me absolutely crazy). The same could be said for my writing career. I want to be a published author, and I can do everything in my power to make it happen. But (and this is a big but) some things are out of my control. Not only that, but when it does happen, things will change in many ways. I'll have to spend more time marketing and less time crafting. I'll have deadlines that aren't just self-imposed. I'll face criticism on a much broader level. So, for now, I am satisfied with the present. I write for the pure joy of writing and am loving every stage in my journey. The rest will come in time, and who knows... I might miss this part of it.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Cute boot, huh?

Something tells me I'm going to wish I had a pair of them by tomorrow. Yes, the weathermen are calling for the biggest winter storm of the season. My Uggs just might not do the trick this time around. Today... ice and fog. Tomorrow... up to 12 inches of snow. Wednesday... -12 degrees. Will this winter ever end? Of course it will, but in the mean time, I plan on doing what any self-respecting aspiring author would do. I'll be curled up on the couch next to the fire with my WiP. Anyone care to join me?

Friday, January 28, 2011


Wearing two different shoes is not a mistake I've ever made, but I've made plenty of others. Especially in my writing. I read a published book recently that had a glaring mistake. Now, don't get me wrong... it was a fabulous book and I would recommend it to anyone and everyone, but at the risk of sounding critical, I'm not going to mention the title. In fact, my intentions are not to criticize at all. The opposite is true. I sympathize with the author because I see how easily this can happen. The mistake I'm talking about is a repeated line. I probably wouldn't have noticed the line if it had not brilliantly conveyed the emotion of the character in a unique way. It was such a fantastic line that it stood out to me, and when it was repeated later in the book, I remembered it right away. I have a theory on why this mistake went unnoticed by the author, the agent, and the editor. I've actually made the same mistake. During revisions, I move things around a lot. Many times, I've come across a line that I decide is needed elsewhere or would be more effective in a different spot. I move it, but... I forget to delete it from the original place. When I read through my manuscript over and over again, it doesn't stand out as a repeat because I've read my chapters so many times that every line sounds like a repeat. When an author turns in revised material to the publisher, she, her agent, and her editor have read the manuscript so many times that they all fail to catch the repeat. See how easily it can happen? I guess what I'm trying to say is that none of us can be too careful. Even if you've had several crit partners read your manuscript, it wouldn't be a bad idea to let a fresh eye read for you after you've made your final round of revisions. They just might catch something glaring before you submit to an agent. The same could be said for an author whose book is scheduled for an upcoming release. A fresh eye before approving the final copy might not be a bad idea. Noticed any glaring mistakes in your manuscript lately? Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Time... There's Never Enough of It!

Or is there? It's something I've been thinking about for a couple of weeks. My son came home from school one day and informed me that he had to write down what his mom and dad do. You know what he wrote down about me? That I write books (which is true) and play solitaire (also true, but this can't be what he notices about me, right?). Anyway, it forced me to take a good long look at how much time I do spend playing solitaire. And, I've come to a painful conclusion: I have a problem. Does anyone know of a solitaire support group I could join? Okay, in all honesty, it's not just an addiction. It's a procrastination tool. I find myself minimizing my manuscript and playing solitaire on the computer when I get stuck. This would be fine if it spurred some kind of creative streak, but it rarely does that. I have a feeling I'd get more writing done if I removed solitaire from my computer. Not happening, though. Instead, I'm just going to limit my solitaire playing time to after I've completed a daily word count. What about you? Do you have any crazy procrastination activities? How do you keep them in check? On another note, my blog break paid off for someone again. Many of you commented on my last post that Katie Ganshert had good news to share. I'd seen Katie's face in the comments of other bloggers, but I didn't know her. So, of course I had to go check it out. She recently sold her first book and another one to boot. Now, technically, I can't take credit for her good fortune because I didn't really know Katie, but I think it still counts toward my blog break = good news streak, don't you? Besides, I remedied the "not knowing her" part and started following her. If you haven't already, you should go by and congratulate her.

Monday, January 24, 2011

I've Got Nothing ...

My shoe box is completely empty. Go figure. I take a long break from blogging, and the day I come back, I don't have anything to talk about. I could tell you about the leak in my ceiling or the awful haircut I got while I was on break. Or, I could talk about how my kids haven't been in school for a full week since November. But, that would just be me complaining. Instead, I'm going to rely on you guys to tell me some good news. So, please share what's been going on with you. I'd love to hear.

Friday, January 14, 2011

If I Kick Out The Inner Editor...

Will she come back when I need her? Well, I think that's a chance I'm going to have to take if I ever want to finish my current WIP. I've been talking about my goals for 2011 this week. I haven't by any means listed all of my goals, only the ones I feel are most important. I was having a hard time choosing which goal to talk about today and then it hit me. One of my goals would be a step in completing a couple of others thus killing three birds with one stone. So, my third goal this year is to turn off my inner editor. I've been in revision/editing mode for so long that I'm struggling to just write. I analyze every paragraph, every sentence, every word. I'm getting nowhere with this approach. I've been doing the same when I read. I find myself ripping apart novels instead of savoring them. It's sucked the joy out of reading for me. This year (at least in the beginning), I will kick the inner editor out of my head. I will invite her back as soon as I finish a first draft and hope she forgives me for being so rude. Now, I know I've only been back blogging for a couple of weeks, but I'm going to take next week off. My mom will be in town and if I try to blog, it will be unorganized and probably a bunch of pointless posts. That would go against my second goal for 2011, wouldn't it? Besides, half of you are begging me to take a break in hopes of good news anyway! Have a great week, and I'll see you on the 24th.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Hanging Up My Shoes Paid Off Again!

(I usually use a different picture for this, but since it's like -10 degrees here, I needed a reminder that summer's coming!) And you all thought I was kidding about my blog breaks being good luck... Seriously, on my last break, yet another blog friend signed with an agent. Go by and congratulate T. Anne. Her story is inspiration to us all. Some of you may not know what I'm talking about, so here's the short version: I tend to take frequent breaks from blogging, which I call hanging up my shoes. Recently I noticed a very exciting trend. Every time I take a break, one of my blog friends gets good news on their road to publication. I guess it was T. Anne's turn this time around. Good for her! She worked hard for it. Anyway, I decided, in order to ensure a year full of agent signings and book buyings, I should make one of my goals be to take even more frequent blog breaks. No, I'm kidding. Actually, one of my goals for 2011 is to keep up with my blog a little better. I don't mean in the sense of posting more often or visiting more blogs, but I mean on an organizational level. When I first started blogging, I was much more organized about it. That's what I'm shooting for this year. In other words, I'm going for quality, not quantity. So, don't worry, I'll still be taking lots and lots of breaks, but when I do blog, I will be more organized about it. So, do you have any blogging goals for 2011?

Monday, January 10, 2011

Don't Lean Too Far To One Side

Or you might tumble and fall. Last week, I reviewed my goals for 2010 and the progress I made toward those goals. This week, I want to (for my own sake, so please bear with me) outline what I'd like to accomplish in 2011. On Friday, I talked about balancing my professional life with my personal life and how it was a work in progress. It goes without saying that this will be an ongoing focus during 2011. As I mentioned Friday, it's not my other commitments that are suffering. It's my writing. In an attempt to balance last year, I actually ended up leaning too far to one side. This year, I want to steady myself and put my writing back up in the running for top priority. (It can't and won't ever beat out my family, but it can take more of a center-stage role.) So, there you have it... my first goal for 2011 is to put more emphasis on my writing without sacrificing my other commitments. I think I can do it. No, I know I can do it! Who's with me? Are you ready to let your writing take on a more important role in your life?

Friday, January 7, 2011

Balancing It All

I've spent this past week discussing the goals I set for my writing in 2010. The first goal was to complete the rewrites on an older project. The second was to move on to a new project. The third was to try outlining for a change. And fourth was to expand on social networking. As I mentioned in my previous posts, I managed to obtain certain degrees of success with each of these goals so I am pleased with my efforts. Now, my final goal for 2010 was to find a way to balance writing and blogging with family responsibilities. According to my family, this was a success. According to my writing and blogging, this was a failure. In 2010, I definitely put my family first (which a person should). In fact, I think I used them as a procrastination tool (don't tell them that). But, even though we put our families first, as writers, we need to carve out some time every day to spend on the craft. This is the only way we will improve. So, I'm going to call this goal a work in progress. I'm still trying to figure it all out. What about you? How do you manage your blogging/writing time vs. family/work/other obligation time?

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Social Networking

This week, I'm reviewing some of the goals I set for my writing in 2010. I've already discussed finishing up a project, starting a new project, and trying to outline. Today, I want to talk about my 4th goal, which was to expand on social networking. I started blogging in May of 2009 without a clue as to what I was doing. Over the next few months, I started to get the hang of it and realized what a wonderful resource it is. Through blogging, I've learned a lot about writing and the ins and outs of the publishing business. More importantly, though, I've developed some strong connections with other writers. I've watched other aspiring authors climb the publishing mountain to success. I've cried with some over their setbacks and celebrated with others when they've signed agents or sold their first novels. Best of all, I met my crit partners here. All that being said, I decided that I wanted to get even more out of social networking by expanding my use of it. I did, in fact, join Twitter and Facebook, and I kept up with my blog. One thing I realized, though, was that social networking has its place, and writing should always come first. This realization took a whole lot of pressure off me. I don't feel guilty anymore if I can't blog. I don't feel guilty if I don't tweet one day or update my status on Facebook. So, despite the fact that I take frequent breaks and haven't kept up with social networking as much as I intended, I'm calling my efforts toward this goal a success. I'm doing what I can, when I can, without sacrificing my writing. To me, that definitely spells success. How much time do you spend social networking and which site is your favorite?

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Footprints Lead the Way

This week, I'm discussing the outcome of the goals I set for my writing for 2010. The first was to finish the rewrites of an old project. Success! The second was to dive into a new project. Sort of success... And the third was to outline said new project instead of writing by the seat of my pants. I wanted footprints to follow. On every other project, I winged it, and the amount of revision and rewriting has been overwhelming. Well, I'll call this a success. I did attempt to outline my current project. It's a very sketchy outline, but still an outline. I have narrowed down the major plot points and the character goals, motivation, and conflict, but everything in between is still up in the air. I decided I'm not much of an outliner. When I tried to plot chapter by chapter, I lost enthusiasm for the project and I felt lost rather than guided. There's nothing wrong with being a pantser, and there's nothing wrong with being a plotter. Is there anything wrong with being an in-betweener? I guess I'll find out in the coming months as I proceed with this project in that fashion. What about you? Do you plot, or do you wing it? Or are you an in-betweener like me?

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Diving In

I'm spending this week discussing my success and failures regarding the goals I set for 2010. As I mentioned yesterday, the first goal I set was to finish the rewrites on my then WIP. My 2nd goal was to dive into a new project. I had two or three projects on the back burner and couldn't decide which one to proceed with. I'd be working on one, and another one would take over my brain. I kept going back and forth, never getting anywhere with any of them. I wanted to select one, once and for all, and dive into it without looking back. Well, I did dive into another project, but it wasn't any of the three I was working on at the time. It's a brand new one. The problem is that I only had about a month to work on it before the holiday season hit. Now, I'm feeling a little disconnected from it and wonder if I truly dove in or just dipped my toes in the water. I'm going to call the attempt at this goal both a success and a failure. Did I really immerse myself in a new project? No. Did I move on, though, and continue to write something? Yes. What about you? Have you ever had a difficult time really moving on from an old project and diving into a new one?

Monday, January 3, 2011

2010 Recap

Wow! I can't believe another year has come and gone. At this time last year, I set some goals for my writing career, so I thought I'd explore the success and failure of these over the next week. (And, I apologize for the lack of shoe picture today. If all goes well, there will be one tomorrow.) My first goal was to complete the rewrites on the manuscript I was working on at the time. It took the better part of the year, but I did in fact accomplish that. I have no complaints. I learned a great deal in the process and became a better writer because of it. What about you? Did any of your 2010 goals take longer to accomplish than you thought they would? And, anyone have any good news to share? Please do tell! Oh, and Happy New Year!