Monday, December 31, 2012

Writing Goals for 2013

I'm gearing up for 2013. This year I plan to focus on finding homes for my manuscripts and to continue building my knowledge of the craft. I am NOT entering any contests. Instead, I am focusing on querying and honing my skills as a writer. I need to get faster, better, more efficient. I tend to write messy first drafts and then clean them up, layering in elements of setting and emotion as I go. This year I want to revisit 3 of my favorite manuscripts, stories with legs to carry them, and see if they can find a home in the publishing world. At the same time, I also need to generate new stories. Much depends upon who bites first. Really. What I choose to write about will hinge on who wants to BUY my stories. I want to become published. I want that credential. And I'm putting it out there as a challenge to myself. If I write it. If I believe it. I will become it. I know I have little to zip control over the "get a publishing contract" but I have to write it to believe it. 

Writing Goals for 2013

*clean and organize office to get ready for the new year
*finish first draft LHD by end of January
*revise MINO by mid February. 
*check in with editor by Feb. 1 regarding MINO
*revise first three chapters of LHD and be ready to query to editor by mid February
*March: revise and query MAVERICK
*April: revise and query HPOL
*May: revise and query TYCOON
*build query list for above three books
*go to both readers’ luncheons and participate with Digging Out of Distraction basket
*brainstorm 2 new category books with CPs
*write 2 new category books
*Attend the RWA National Conference in Atlanta
*Attend Moonlight & Magnolias
*Pitch at both conferences if necessary
*build name bible of all names I've used in my books
*maintain personal blog
*add new feature to blog for recipe rut
*continue to build my brand name via social media, web page, professional presence in writing world
*coordinate the Linda Howard Award of Excellence for 2013
*get a publishing contract
*continue building professional mentor relationships
*continue to streamline writing and business of writing with proper schedule
*Review digital and e-publishers for submissions
*take at least two master classes in craft; one with Margie Lawson
*judge at least two writing contests
*set Top 5 Priority List and review every quarter
*read for fun
*continue to analyze published books in my genre
*continue learning and growing in my craft with online courses and craft books
*attend chapter meetings which aid in my professional development and in my goal for achieving publication
*build my new critique partnership
*be courageous, strong, and focused in pursuing my dreams and goals

And now, because I adore this man and his books and his writing knowledge, I leave you with this quote. Carry it with you as you venture into this new writing year. 

I hope that your measure of success will be not the gratification of getting an agent or seeing your name on the cover, but putting together a novel of real depth--of having something to say and saying it in a story with lasting power. Donald Maass

Saturday, December 29, 2012

2012 Goals in Review

Every year I sit down to refine my writing/professional goals as well as my personal goals. Last year I made a pretty extensive list, but I am proud of all that I have accomplished along with the extra curve balls I managed to field in my writing career. I accomplished almost everything on my list and I also revised one book twice for submission. A lot of excitement built up in 2012, but I'm still not published... YET. 2012 taught me that I can work smart and make things happen with my career. I've made decisions based on the timing of the outcome for the future. I believe I have more control and power over my career now despite the fact that I don't have a contract. I WILL get a contract. I don't know when. I don't know with which publishing company. But I do know one thing: I am doing exactly what I want to do which is already a huge blessing and a privilege in a world where so many people aren't afforded that kind opportunity. So before I begin plotting and planning for 2013, it's time to review my goals for 2012 and see how well I did.

Writing Goals for 2012

*clean and organize office to get ready for the new year YES
*brainstorm 3 new category books with CPs YES
*write 2 new category books YES
*send requested materials to agents by February 1st YES
*query Mills & Boon with 4th and 5th books YES WITH 4TH. NO FOR 5TH DUE TO REQUEST FOR 3RD.
*get head out of sand and ask Mills & Boon about the R&R’s status by January 31st YES
*Build web site by end of first quarter of the year/March 31. NO, BUT I DO HAVE ONE NOW AND I'M VERY PLEASED WITH AUNTIE MOMO DESIGN.
*Continue revising 1st book for fun NO. GOT SIDETRACKED BY MILLS & BOON REQUESTS
*Enter 4 contests at a minimum with at least 3 manuscripts at all done including the Golden Heart with at least 2 manuscripts ENTERED 3 CONTESTS, BUT DID NOT ENTER THE GOLDEN HEART DUE TO RULES CHANGING AND TIMING. I WON THE LINDA HOWARD AWARD OF EXCELLENCE AND TRIPLE FINALED IN THAT CONTEST. 
*Attend the RWA National Conference in Anaheim NO. DID NOT GO DUE TO FINANCIAL CONSIDERATIONS.
*Attend Moonlight & Magnolias YES.
*build name bible of all names I've used in my books. NO. THE BEST LAID PLANS...
*continue building my brand name via social media, web page, professional presence in writing world YES
*continue building professional mentor relationships YES
*continue to streamline writing and business of writing with proper schedule YES AND NO. I AM PRETTY DISCIPLINED, BUT LIFE DOES GET IN THE WAY ON OCCASION. FLEXIBLE SCHEDULING IS HOW I VIEW IT NOW.
*Review digital and e-publishers for submissions YES. I'M CONTINUING TO REVIEW AND RESEARCH THIS AVENUE.
*take at least two master classes in craft YES. I TOOK SEVERAL RU COURSES ON LINE AND LOVED THEM.
*judge at least two writing contests YES.
*set Top 5 Priority List and review every quarter YES, BUT I DIDN'T REDO IT FOR THE 4TH QUARTER. 
*read for fun YES.
*continue to analyze published books in my genre YES.
*continue learning and growing in my craft with online courses and craft books YES
*attend chapter meetings which aid in my professional development and in my goal for achieving publication YES
*build my new critique partnership YES
*be courageous, strong, and focused in pursuing my dreams and goals YES, BUT THERE ARE DAYS WHEN I AM AS UNFOCUSED AS THE NEXT GAL ;-)

Wow, that's a lot of work! I also took on the job of coordinating the Linda Howard Award of Excellence for the 2013 year, traveled to Silken Sands Conference in Pensacola Beach where I learned I had won the Linda Howard in my category. I fielded and responded to several requests for submissions. I networked more. I really did do a lot to build my writing career. My launching pad is constructed with a solid web presence and now all I have to do is fine tune my rockets and get ready for lift off!!

I hope your year was good and that you managed to accomplish many things in 2012. Stay tuned for 2013's goals!!

Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Holiday Thoughts

I am here. I am still celebrating the season with my family. I can. I will. I must. Not celebrating the small moments, the tender exchanges, the highs, the lows would be wrong even though I know evil has happened and will happen again.

Celebrating life. Celebrating goodness and hope is the only way I know how to truly honor the lives of those who are gone.

And so I am celebrating, but it is with a subdued sensibility. I'm slowing down. I'm appreciating what I have and not moaning about what I can't or don't have right now. I am grasping for moments of happiness amidst the storm.

I'm making goodies, looking up recipes, hanging out with my College Kid whenever she shows up--often with her friends and usually followed by a sleepover. I am grateful for this time. For all of it. I know it is a gift. The real gift that I am opening is every day, every moment, every small exchange while sitting around just doing nothing but "being."

I treasure this gift. I don't take it for granted. I know it is fleeting.

So this season is filled with somberness, but also a hopefulness. Because I still believe in good. I still believe that love exists. And I believe that goodness and love will conquer all.

And if I celebrate the season while bearing this truth in mind, then my little corner of the world will shine a light in the darkness.

Be that light. Be that which shines through the darkness regardless of religion, faith, creed.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Break Out the Bubbly & the Dark Chocolate: Celebrating Jerrie Alexander's Debut Novel THE GREEN-EYED DOLL

Debut Novelist Jerrie Alexander

Hi Everyone! It's getting close to the holiday season and I'm celebrating the gift of an other friend selling her first novel. Please join me in giving Jerrie Alexander a big welcome to the Veranda cheer as we celebrate her debut novel THE GREEN-EYED DOLL. *Pop*Pour*Sip* 
Christine, thank you having me over. I appreciate the opportunity to meet your friends. 
And I am so glad you joined me today. Tell me, are you a plotter or do you follow the muse?
Maybe I'm what you'd call a planner. I do tons of research, create each individual's back story, a character profile, lay out their internal and external conflicts, and go as far as finding pictures for the main players. I even give the book a working title. Then I let the characters and the muse take over.
Your process sounds a lot like mine. How do you relax after a writing day after you plan all those great books?
I love to bake and I try to read a little at night. We occasionally play poker with friends. These are real high dollar games, where we could lose twenty dollars!
Oh, I had better guard my quarters when I get to your house to play poker! What do you read? What are your favorite genres? Who are your favorite authors?
If it's well written, I'm a fan of most genres. If I had to choose, romantic suspense is my favorite. Christy Reese and Cindy Gerard write great stories. I'll sneak in a historical romance, especially one from Elizabeth Hoyt or Jade Lee.  
Christy Reese is a dear friend and fellow Southern Magic Romance Writing chapter member. Love her books. And I adore Cindy Gerard's as well. Historical Romances are a great way to read about sensual tension. What is your current project?
I'm in the rewrites stage of His to Lose. It's the second installment in The Lost and Found, Inc series. A large portion is set in the jungle in Colombia, which required tons of reading and research. Then I'll start on the dreaded synopsis.
Ah, the dreaded synopsis. I am total accord with the adjective "dreaded." Any new releases?
My debut romantic suspense The Green-Eyed Doll released December 7th. To be honest, I didn't have a big kick off that day. December 7th is the day we remember all the lives lost at Pearl Harbor, I asked Goddess Fish to set up a blog hop and to start it on the 10th.
Here is a blurb from the book:
Catherine McCoy is running from her past. She's been on the move for a year, hiding the secret and guilt in her heart. When she lands in small-town Texas and meets Sheriff Matt Ballard, he ignites a flame she thought lost forever.
Matt has scars of his own. He left the big city after an undercover operation went bad and his partner was killed. Now, as Matt hunts for a serial killer who paints his victims like porcelain dolls, Catherine becomes a safe haven for him. Two tortured souls finding comfort in each other's arms—until he uncovers her secret, and their bond of trust is broken.
When Catherine disappears, Matt races to find her, fearing the murderer has found his next green-eyed doll. But the killer has a surprise coming. Catherine will fight to the death before she'll be a victim. But will her determination be enough?

Intrigued? Here's an excerpt....

His anguish, more than she’d planned for, hit her hard. His dedication and concern, traits she admired, shook her conviction that no man could be trusted. His tenderness, something she’d never had, touched a long-neglected place in her soul.
In that small space of time, where no one else in the world existed, Catherine’s heart found hope. Tears, she’d promised herself never to shed again, slid unchecked down her cheeks. But these tears weren’t because of her pain or grief. She cried because Matt suffered and grieved for the missing woman. She slid her arms around him, stroking his tense muscles.
“Hey, yourself.” He leaned back and studied her face. The warmth behind his eyes returned as he wiped away her tears with the pads of his thumbs. “Were those for me?”
She nodded and emotions swirled in her head. Catherine struggled to regain her perspective. “I have to remove no more tears from the Never list.”
“Why would you hold yourself to such a never?”
“The only thing crying gets you are red eyes.”
“Okay, tough guy. Maybe someday you’ll trust me enough to explain. Why’d you break a rule for me?”

       “Stop, Catherine. I’m nobody’s hero. I failed miserably in that department.”
“The worry for Annie Travers in your eyes broke my heart. I’ve never known anyone with your compassion and dedication.”
“Careful.” The corners of his mouth lifted. “You’ll be calling me John Wayne again.”
  “Same soul.” She pushed a lock of black hair off his face. He caught her wrist in his hand.

I am so glad to be part of the BLOG HOP and to help bring out the word about your new book THE GREEN-EYED DOLL. Where do you get your ideas for your stories?

A riveting cover!
That question would bring laughter from my critique partners, friends and family. I envious of authors who have tons of stories rolling around in their head, dying to be told. When I finish a book, I'm absolutely positive I'll never have another original idea. I'll fret, complain, and agonize. I dig through research published by FBI profilers. Read case studies and do the 'what if' method. Then something clicks, and I'm working again.
Wonderful way to find a new story! I think we all fret about finding a story. Then we fret about writing it and selling it. Speaking of selling, how long were you trying to get published before you got the “call?”
Almost five years. I thought my genre was contemporary romance. Three books later, I figured out my heart belonged to romantic suspense.  
So often we have to try different genres before we find a match. Was the “call” an actual phone conversation or an email or a snail mail?
I received an email. Actually, I received two offers on the same day. How wild is that?
Fantastic!! That is super wild. What encouragement can you give writers who face rejection?
Everybody has dealt with some form of rejection, and it stinks. I agree that you have to develop a tough skin, but give yourself a minute to grieve and move on. You cannot please everyone. And remember Margaret Mitchell's Gone With The Wind was rejected 38 times.
I'll hang onto that advice the next time I get a big R letter in the in-box. What is the most surprising thing you discovered after you received the call?
That marketing is incredibly difficult. Reaching out to potential readers is a challenge. It's not my nature to draw attention to myself, and I take comfort in hearing most writers tend to be introverts.
Here are the buy links for The Green-Eyed Doll. I'm sending the full link and the Google shortened link.
My book video is up on Youtube...use if you want. Just thought I'd include the link.

A student of  creative writing in her youth, Jerrie set aside her passion when life presented her with a John Wayne husband, and two wonderful children.  A career in logistics offered her the opportunity to travel to many beautiful locations in America, and she revisits them in her romantic suspense novels. 

But the characters went with her, talked to her, and insisted she share their dark, sexy stories with others.  She writes alpha males and kick-ass women who weave their way through death and fear to emerge stronger because of, and on occasion in spite of, their love for each other.  She likes to torture people, make them suffer, and if they’re strong enough, they live happily ever after.

Jerrie lives in Texas, loves sunshine, children’s laughter, sugar (human and granulated), and researching for her heroes and heroines.