Tuesday, May 9, 2023

There and Back Again: an author's trip to Oz

Good to go at the RARE book signing!

Last month, I had the amazing good fortune to travel to Australia. I participated in the RARE book signing in Melbourne and tacked on a trip to see my sister, who lives on the Gold Coast. 

Most definitely the best of both worlds!

I've been to books signings before - GRL, PNWA, 20Booksto50k - and I've even traveled outside the US to sign books at UK Meet last fall. Flying all the way to Oz, though, broke new ground. I hauled something like 100 pounds of luggage, mostly books, and learned that there are worse sins than renting a cart when you have to hike from the international to the domestic terminals.

It was A LOT, but I managed.

More importantly, I got to meet people, both readers and authors, who love books as much as I do. A few were new acquaintances and some I'd only ever connected with via the internet. (KL Noone, thanks for sharing my table! And Mia, if you're reading this, THANK YOU AGAIN for bringing a copy of The Frogman and the Spy for me to sign!) I came home with some wonderful memories and with a renewed sense of myself as an author.

Here's the thing. It's awfully easy to discount yourself as an author. It's hard to gain visibility, not every reader's gonna love your stuff (and some are incredibly articulate in telling you why), and self doubt shadows just about everything you do.

I'm not whining. I mean, no one sat me down and forced me to publish. I still remember the moment, at about 20 years old, when I realized that the only person who told me I didn't have a good-enough voice to sing in a band was...well, me. (I went on to sing in bands for something like 25 years.) I pushed myself to get out there and sing, and I pushed myself to write a damned book and get it published. Yes, it's hard, but you know what?

Spending four days with a whole bunch of book people did wonders for my enthusiasm. 

Watching horse races on ANZAC Day - and possibly betting a little.

After a fabulous five days in Melbourne, I flew to the Gold Coast, where my sister made me feel like a true celebrity. We crossed off all the important bits: shopping, eating fabulous food (which is the only kind they make in Australia), and exploring the Nerang River and Surfer's Paradise. We also spent an evening at the Australian Outback Spectacular, which you should totally check out if you're ever in the neighborhood.

Really, my only complaint the whole time was the travel time. I swear I made the most complicated arrangements possible, and each way took me somewhere between 27 - 28 hours. Not even joking. Next time I'm springing for a non-stop on Quantas. Because there'll definitely be a next time!

RARE is talking about Brisbane in Spring '25!!!

I got home in time for tulip season!


Wednesday, April 5, 2023

Cover Reveal! The Lighthouse Keeper, a Victorian Gothic M/M Romance


I really suck at keeping secrets, so sitting on this cover for weeks (months?) has been SOOO hard. When I first emailed my cover artist, Kanaxa, I'd intended to simply get on her calendar whenever she had space. She was so excited by the premise - "Oh. My. Goodness. A gothic Lighthouse theme?! Are you serious?!" - that she started work right away. Which was fantastic, but it meant I had to keep the cover under wraps since last December.

So. Hard.

Now to whet your appetite further, here's the blurb...

Twenty years ago, Martin Gallagher stole the Ferox Cor, and now he’s dead.

Vincent Fairchild, a witch with little power beyond his charm, is tasked with finding that dangerous magical object. He’s already been pruned from the family tree because “nice” people don’t have magic. If he fails to return with the Ferox Cor, he’ll lose his place with the Witches’ Council, leaving him very much alone.

Vincent travels to the West Point Lighthouse, where he finds things are different than he expects them to be. Gallagher didn’t use the Ferox Cor to enrich himself, and Gallagher’s son is not a child. In fact, Rafe Gallagher might be the most powerful witch Vincent has ever met. Powerful, adult, and incredibly handsome.

Martin will return on Hallowe’en, when the veil between the worlds is the thinnest, unless Rafe and his mother destroy the Ferox Cor. If they fail, a great evil may be unleashed on the world, but helping them puts Vincent’s future at risk. There's a way forward, but to find it, he must look to his heart.

The book is currently only listed on Amazon, but will be wide
and there'll be a print version available!

Now, for those of you who are here for the bellyaching to learn about my editing process, here goes...

Last month I made a post extolling the glories of editing. (Find it here.) And even though work on The Lighthouse Keeper has involved some pretty heavy lifting, I still think editing is cool.

I just wish I could write a full-length novel that didn't require surgery to make it shine.

I'm working with a new editor on this one, and I really like her. She's not the problem, I am. (LOL) The draft I sent her wasn't bad, but a couple of the issues she identified had me restructuring the story to make it work better. Once I start moving scenes around, I have to look at every other scene to weave things in and make sure it all still makes sense.

So that's where I've been, combing through the thing, paragraph by paragraph. Some bits just take a little tweaking, but some need a complete rewrite, and while I know the whole thing'll be stronger when I'm done, right now...


All that said, I love Vincent and Rafe and I want to make sure their story lives up to that awesome cover!

To whet your appetite, here's a bit where Vincent learns something
interesting about Rafe...
Rafe Gallagher knelt on the ground in a clearing, surrounded by a circle of fir trees and vine maples. Holes had been dug at regular intervals and he held one hand extended several inches about the dirt. He muttered something, words that were unfamiliar but recognizably powerful. At some unseen cue, he produced a trowel from his cloak. He dug up dirt and pine needles and threw them aside. When he'd made a pit that was deep enough to hide the trowel, he stopped, again holding out a hand.
While I didn’t know what we were waiting for, his tension had me hold my breath.
Whatever he wanted, it was not there. Crawling, he found another spot and began to dig, still muttering. If he noticed me or my light, he gave no sign.
The strangeness of his behavior both intrigued and repelled me. Logic suggested that he too searched for the Ferox Cor, and if he – with all his power – couldn’t find it, I didn’t stand much chance.
Still, when he threw the trowel to the ground, I cleared my throat. He froze. Something in his stillness frightened me more than his wild digging had done.
“Who’s there?” he snarled.
I cleared my throat again. “Vincent. Vincent Fairchild.”
“Did Mother send you?”
“No. I’d hoped to find a way to some sort of civilization.”
“You won’t. Not here.” He spoke calmly, as if his hands and nails weren’t black with dirt. “The bluff is too steep to climb, and unless you know one of the natives who called this place Per-co-dus-chule, you’d never find your way.”
“Per-co-dus-chule?” I mangled the pronunciation, though Rafe didn’t seem to notice.
“This place we guard. Did you think our name was the only one?” He swiped a hand across his face, leaving a streak of dirt and blood.
“I guess I never gave it any thought.”
His laugh was bitter. “I’m not surprised. Did you know the first man to sail a tall ship into the Sound named the bluff behind us Magnolia, because he mistook the madrona trees for the pretty flowers he’d known in his youth?”
A collection of rainwater dripped off my hat as if to punctuate the absurdity of the situation. “I didn’t know that either.”
“Hmph.” He found the trowel and tucked it away. “Find my cane.”
“My cane. Where is it?”
Now I was thoroughly confused. “There, leaning against that tree.”
The witchlight wasn’t sufficient for me to read his expression, but since he didn’t seem to be joking, I retrieved his cane and held it toward him. “Here.”
Standing, he reached in my direction, making one unsuccessful swipe before clasping the cane in hand. Without any thanks, he tapped the ground, pausing between taps as if listening for a response. He began to walk in my direction. I was too caught up in his actions to get out of his way. He only stopped when we were chest to chest.
“Move, Fairchild.” His tone brooked no argument, yet I held my ground.
Sometimes I have very little common sense.
He might be strange, and rude, and more than a little frightening - hell, he didn’t even show me respect by meeting my gaze - but Rafe Gallagher intrigued me.
“Move, now,” he repeated. From this close he smelled of smoke and burning herbs, though I saw no evidence of fire.
Gathering my courage, I looked directly into those amber glasses, and though it might have been a trick of the light, it seemed his eyes were wholly black.
I got out of his way, though it may have been closer to a jump than a dignified step. He brushed past without another word. I stood, my witchlight dwindling, until I could no longer hear his footsteps through the brush.
Rafe Gallagher was not a boy and he possessed more power than the Witches Council knew. And unless I was very wrong, something almost demonic had stared at me through his eyes.

Wednesday, March 1, 2023

Editing is where it's at!


Last night I sent a novella off to my editor. 

Such a simple sentence, but it represents SOOO much work! LOL. I'd promised to get The Novella From Hell to her by the end of the month (of February) and over the weekend it dawned on my that the end of the month was NOW. I was about seven thousand words shy of where I wanted it to be, and the thing needed a solid edit before anyone - let alone an editor - could read it.

When I'm drafting, I'm likely to do thinks like change a side character's gender, decide I want to cut Character X and use their name for Character Y, change the point of view (POV) from first to 3rd (or the reverse - either way is not recommended) or make sundry other major modifications. 

Once I changed a book from m/f to m/m after I couldn't get past the first chapter of the m/f version. (The m/m version is Aqua Follies, which worked out pretty darned well, if I do say so myself.)

Basically, during that first draft, anything is fair game. I throw a bunch of words at a document and see what sticks. Creating the first draft is fun, because I get to see where the story is going to go, but I really love the editing process. Once I can see the bones of the story, then I can make it pretty.

There is a method to my madness. When the first draft is complete, I'll do a re-read, leaving comment bubbles and highlighting the things I need to fix. I'll sometimes leave the last chapter undone, because the process of cleaning things up might show me how the story actually ends. If it's a full novel (or a novella where I have the time lol) I'll make an excel workbook with a page for the story calendar, a page for the outline, and a third page for the punch list.

The calendar is pretty self-explanatory and the punch list is something I create toward the end, to show me what still needs work. For the outline, I track the chapter number, the word count, the POV (if there's more than one), first line, last line, a chapter/scene summary, the plot threads it hits, the romance arc, and any notes. 

Here's a screen shot of my first couple chapters of The Lighthouse Keeper, coming to you sometime this spring.

Sometimes I'll add an additional column for scenes, if there are more than one in a chapter. Word count is important because I think there's a rhythm to chapters, and I want them to all be more-or-less the same. If there's more than one POV, I want to make sure each character has about the same page time. I also like to look at first line and last line, to make sure they're not all the same. 

For example, the outline for my book Lost & Found showed me that the POV character stormed off in anger at the end of at least three chapters, maybe more. It wasn't a good look (lol) so I changed a couple of them.

Creating the outline is slow work, but I learn so much from it that for me it's worth the time. It shows me "scenes" that don't actually accomplish anything and gaps that I need to fill in. My "rules" about chapter length and POV word count are malleable; if I can think of a good reason why Chapter X needs to be twice as long as any other, I'll go with it. I just want it to be a conscious decision. Once I start rewriting, I sometimes add another column with a summary of how the scenes actually end up, or how I think they should end up, especially if I end up doing major surgery.

Because yeah, sometimes surgery is required.

Writers spend a lot of ink (e-ink?) debating whether they're plotters are pantsers, but I think there's almost as big a divide between drafters and editors. My writing partner Irene Preston and I are a good illustration of that divide. Irene sweats over each word, carefully placing them exactly where she wants them to go. I just want to get the words down so I can get to fixing them. She spends a lot of time pondering her characters' motivation before she starts, while I get to know my characters as I go. 

We could not be more opposite, and tbh editing our shared projects can get a little tense.

We've survived six books (and counting), so we're making it work. It's been good for me to learn someone else's process, and I think she's learned from me, too - even if she does want to wring my neck a lot of the time.

At any rate, this weekend required a fairly streamlined approach to getting The Novella From Hell ready for the editor. Saturday I wrote 1100 words, Sunday I wrote 5000 (!!!) words, Monday was a wash because Life, and yesterday I sat down at the computer at 0630 and sent the email to my editor about 5:30 pm. It was a looooong day, but I'm pretty happy with the outcome. 

Until she gets back to me with all the stuff I need to fix.

But hey, it's editing, so I'll have fun!

Monday, February 13, 2023

Happy Valentine's Day!! Flash Fic Special!


Flash fic prompts: this city street, a busker, and a key...

So this time last year, the Small but Mighty MM Romance Group page on FB had a flash fiction challenge. The organizer invited group members to post pictures plus three word prompts, and we were all invited to choose one and write a short piece. It was a lot of fun! I liked the shortie I came up with, and even though some of you might have read it already, I wanted to post it over here on the blog. I hope you enjoy it!! And happy Valentine's Day!!

Valentine’s Day in Paris, and the rain matched my mood. The French limited the celebration to lovers – no tacky paper cards for everyone at school or gags for the gang at work – so I got nothing from no one. Yeah, I’d been abandoned in the city of love and the rain-slicked streets made me feel right at home.

I’d staked out a spot under a café’s awning in the Place du Tertre, a hat on the ground at my feet. Wearing my hair in a ponytail let the damp send shivers down my neck. The rain chased away most of the tourists, so the hat was empty, but the artists whose booths lined the square were happy enough to have me serenade them.

Keeping a mandolin in tune while playing outside, with or without the rain, had its challenges. I paused between songs, plucking the pairs of strings to find the offender. Twisted the peg, my gaze on the wet cobbles. Plucked again. Twisted.

A single strum told me I’d restored order. My fingers found the strings, as if they’d made an independent decision regarding what to play next. I took a quick look around. A man leaned against the nearby wrought iron streetlamp. His posture was relaxed, but his gaze was sharp, and aimed directly at me.

I played the opening chords of Scarborough Fair, choosing the tune made famous by Simon and Garfunkel, rather than one of the older, less familiar melodies. The man smiled, nodding in time. The lyrics tell the story of a series of impossible tasks that must be performed to win true love, although most people only know the list of herbs that make up the refrain.

I finished the verse that asks for an acre of land and the man on the light pole raised a finger. He was taller than me, and darker, with a ball cap shading his face. Still, the heat of his gaze took the edge of the cool damp air.

He began a new tune, though the melody still fit the chords I played. He sang The Elfin Knight, an even older folk ballad than Scarborough Fair.

Instead of parsley and sage, the refrain repeated blow, blow, blow, wind blow. I adjusted my strum, adding more drone to suite the earlier mode, hoping the wind wouldn't take it as an invitation. For the next verse, I joined him on the melody, guessing which set of lyrics he’d use.

That ol’ degree in music history came in handy every now and then.

With me holding down the tune, the stranger found a counter-melody, weaving his voice around mine in a way that raised the hairs on my back of my neck. Our lyrics weren’t a perfect match, but I’d spent hours rehearsing with ensembles who hadn’t gelled nearly as well as me and some guy on the street.

We finished another verse, and I wanted to test us both. I paused my hands and, with a teasing grin, said, “the Battle of Evermore”. The Led Zeppelin song was showy and popular, and the stranger returned my smile.

I shortened the finger picking introduction to get us to the vocals and jumped into the verse. Four lines in, the vocal line shifted to a higher register, often performed by a second singer. I nodded at him and the stranger came in, his pure tenor both a delight and a challenge.

After Led Zeppelin, I tried Tam Lin, figuring if he knew The Elfin Knight he’d know this. He did and he harmonized, verse after verse, the overtones created by our blend evidence of our perfect tuning.

How is this happening? The twining of our voices felt like a seduction. We’d drawn a small crowd, despite the rain, and God knows me and my ne’er do well ex- had never sounded so good.

Rather than get derailed by the guy who’d left me broke and busking in Paris, I shut my mind down and just played. Greensleeves, as much a classic as Scarborough FairGaudete, because it’s always Christmas somewhere. Sumer is icumen in, a bouncy Medieval round.

“Wait,” the man said after the last cuckoo’s call faded. “Play Belle qui tiens ma vie.”

Beautiful one who holds my life.

Slower than the others, the song he’d suggested was a pavane, a courtly dance. Though only known by history nerds and SCA types, the lyrics were unashamedly romantic.

Your beauty and your grace
And your divine ways
Have melted the ice
Which was freezing my bones
And have filled my heart
With a loving ardour.

While the song might have been a declaration of courtly love, something in the man’s expression gave the words added layers of meaning. His tone was an invitation, and while my dick thought that was a fine idea, the rest of me was gun-shy.

I stopped after the third verse, the heat in the harmony becoming too personal for a public square. I didn’t even know his name, but right then he could have talked me into anything.

“What?” he asked, one brow raised as if he sensed my discomfort and found it amusing.

“Uh…” I gestured at my hat, now holding a few francs and some coins. “I can buy us both a drink.”

His smile broadened. “Another time, perhaps, but thank you for the music.”

He bowed from the waist, as anachronistic as the songs we’d been singing. His smile held mischief, but his eyes were full of promise.

And me? I was cock blocked in the extreme.

The rain picked up, chasing away the crowd. I packed up my mandolin and pocketed the cash. I wasn’t in the mood for a solo visit to a café, so I found a market and treated myself to a baguette, cheese, and a bottle of wine. All the while, my nerves thrummed with leftover excitement.

Since my ex- had left, I’d had to downsize. Rather than a decent two bedroom flat, I had a small studio, the kind that rented by the week. The place had once been a fancy home, but it had been carved up long enough ago that each apartment came with an antique metal key.

A key that was no longer in my pocket.

Damn it.

Standing in the mildewy hallway, I set my parcels on the floor and patted myself down. Nope, the key wasn’t in any of my jacket pockets, and it hadn’t magically traveled to my pants. What the fucking hell had I done with it?

“Hello Damon. Looking for something?”

The question startled me so bad I hopped. “What?”

The guy from the Place stood a few feet away, dangling my key between his thumb and his index finger. “If I had to guess, I’d say this is what you're after.”

Questions tumbled out of my mouth on a single breath. “How’d you know my name and where’d you get that and who are you and what the fuck is going on?”

His grin widened. “I’m Leo Dubois, Bard of the Danaan sidhe, and I borrowed your key so I’d have a reason to see you again.” He closed the distance between us. “And as to what’s going on, I hope we do more of this.”

Leaning forward, he brushed a kiss over my lips. Up close, he smelled like fresh air and clean pine forest, and, acting on instinct, I grabbed his jacket and hauled him in.

Our second kiss was longer and deeper and hotter than anything in recent memory. The blend in our voices was nothing compared to the way our spirits melded together. When we finally eased apart, I stood with my forehead resting against his chin.

“You still didn’t tell me how you knew my name.” I should have been embarrassed by how breathless I sounded, but Leo’s answering laugh wrapped me in reassurance.

“Invite me in, and we’ll talk. I feel we have much to discuss.”

I blinked, suddenly aware that we were two men kissing in a semi-public place. Not the smartest thing ever, so I fitted the key into the lock.

I had questions and hopefully he’d have answers, but either way, my dick was first in line for satisfaction. This Valentine’s Day had taken a mighty unexpected turn, and, almost vibrating with excitement, I invited him in.






Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Try something new, she said... (On finding ways to promote my books)

An early TikTok video. There's plenty of room for improvement. 😊

For the last couple years, I've been a member of the Book Boss Author Community run by Angela James. It's been a great experience, both for networking with other authors and for expanding my own knowledge base. This fall, I took Angela's Book Boss Strategy Intensive, a 4-month course in business planning for authors. That experience, more than anything else, has helped me shift my mindset. Writing is not my hobby. I'm running a small business and books and their related content are my product.

Those words are at once freeing and loaded with responsibility. I still tend to throw things at the wall and see if they stick, but I'm (hopefully) more intentional about it. 

At the end of the Strategy Intensive, we all created a business plan. Angela gave us individual feedback on our plans, and her advice to me was to try new things. I'd basically built a marketing plan that was based on what worked for Soulmates, the first book in my Soulmates series, even though the 2nd and 3rd books in the series hadn't done as well.

Sometimes it takes an outside perspective to point out what should be easy for me to see. 

So, determined to Try New Things, in early January I joined a Bookfunnel promo and dropped the price of Soulmates to free for a 5-day period. The book has been out for 2 years and it's the first time I've done a free promotion, and OMG did it go well. I had about 2000 downloads over the 5 days, with almost 30 new reviews so far - and those reviews are like gold. I also had sales and KU downloads for the next two books, along with a handful of new reviews for each. 

I can't run a free promo all that often, but I was very pleased with the experience. January's going to be my best month since Redeemed's release in April.

Bolstered by that experience, and in a fit of "throw it against the wall and see if it sticks", I dove into TikTok. Angela made a how-to video for the Author Community that demystified the process, so I made a couple of short videos and la voila, I have a TikTok account. (You can find it here.)

While it's been fun so far, and making the videos exercises a different part of my creative brain than writing does, I'm just now realizing how much I don't know. I did join an Author TikTokers FB page and dug up a video on TikTok from the 20Booksto50K conference I went to in November, so I have resources for learning. I'm also beginning to appreciate the time commitment involved in creating new content every day. The little buggers are short, but it takes time to put them together.

Still, my oldest kid called me yesterday morning and told me that he and his friends love my TikTok account. His friends think it's cool that his 60-year-old mother is living her best life, and you know what? Encouragement like that motivates me to push on. 

Blogging is also an attempt to try something new, and I'm pretty happy with how that's going, too. Thank you all for reading along, and drop a comment if you have questions or want to share promo ideas. We can all learn from each other!

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

So you want to write a book....

So many books....so little time...

A friend of mine messaged me the other day, asking if we could get together for a glass of wine. She wanted to ask me about writing a novel, specifically, what she needed to do to write a book. Prior to that text, I had no idea she had an interest in writing, so before we got together,  I did some brainstorming.

What do I say to someone who wants to write a book?

I didn't want to insult her by coming in too basic, and I didn't want to scare her off with a whole bunch of info she might not be able to use. Instead, I tried to split the difference.

I told her to read.

Pick any author, and I can guarantee they were readers before they were writers. Reading others' work inspires us to write and teaches us how. A good book expands our ideas for what is possible and motivates us to do more with our own writing. 

When I studied voice, my teacher told me to listen to excellent singers. Whether Ella Fitzgerald, Debra Harry, or Whitney Houston, I listened hard and tried to copy what they did. I'd store these little tricks of phrasing or interpretation in my own toolbox, ready for when I was working on a new song. 

I do the same thing when I'm reading.

See, no author operates in a vacuum. Whether it's one of the classics, a new bestseller, or the project I'm beta reading for an author friend, reading consciously will help me learn. And you know, it's also okay to copy a little, as long as there's no plagiarism involved. 

Since I didn't have much sense for where my friend was in her writing journey, I suggested she make an effort to read in the genre she wanted to write, and to study how other authors put their books together. I also recommended On Writing by Stephen King, Bird by Bird by Anne Lamotte, and Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg. All three books touch on both craft and inspiration, and they were all important to my growth as a writer.

I haven't had the chance to reconnect with her, but I've got some ideas for her next steps. Because really, the key for how to write a novel is to, you know, write. Make writing a part of your life, whether you're journaling or brainstorming or sitting down to Chapter One.

Some would probably tell my friend she must write every day. Others are more relaxed, but to me, the most important part isn't frequency or schedule. The important thing is that when you sit down to write, you write, whether or not the muse has chosen to grace you with her presence.

If you wait for your muse, your book may never get finished.

That's actually another thing I learned from singing. For almost ten years, I was the cantor for my church's Saturday evening Mass. For almost ten years, every Saturday I stood up in front of the congregation and led them in the Psalm, Ordinary, and hymns. I generally did a solo at Communion - whether I felt like singing or not.

It was great training for an author.

The discipline it takes to write when you're not feeling it will stand you in good stead when you need to get through edits. Even if the words weren't flowing when you drafted them, you've got a whole bunch of chances to fix things before you send your work out into the wild. (And if you've spent any time on Goodreads, you know how wild it can be! LOL) 

I guess you could say that the three steps to writing a book are reading, writing, and editing, though this barely scratches the surface. I'm not trying to pile everything on at once - nor could I, even if I wanted to. The thing is, writing is a journey, and the information you need will be available when you need it. To get started, though, just read. 

And write.


PS... it can be helpful to start small. A six thousand word short story is a lot easier to wrestle into shape than a 80,000 word novel. 

PPS...here are a few other resources I found helpful...
*** All links are from Amazon b/c I'm lazy. They're not affiliate links, so I don't earn anything if you  click.

PPSS...adding another thought....Kristen Lamb, blogging/writing goddess, coincidentally made a post today on how important it is for writers to read. Here's the link. It's well worth, uh, reading. 😊

Tuesday, January 3, 2023

My sweet Ed the dog, may he RIP

Google defines blogging as "add new material to or regularly update a blog." I used to blog, both here on blogspot and on the Spellbound Scribes. Then the Scribes went on hiatus and life got in the way. Blogging was one of the things I let slide.

To say I've been inconsistent with this blog is fairly hilarious - one post every other year makes you invisible, not inconsistent. I'm feeling the itch, though, so one of my New Years Resolutions is to blog more regularly. I manage once a month on the Scribes, but now I want to double that. 

That's right. You can look forward to twice a month blog posts on liv-rancourt.blogspot.com!

Did you know that when you google a word's definition, you also get a little graphic showing how often a word has been used? (Handy for historical romance authors, ya know?) I don't know why it amuses me, but "blogging" shows a flat line until about 1995.

You might be wondering what I've got to blog about. I expect it'll be similar to my posts on the Spellbound Scribes; a mix of writing craft, what I'm up to, and stuff that pisses me off. I'll also post flash-fiction pieces, along the lines of The Hunt, my December post. I could also see doing a serialized story, depending on how things go. I'll start with two posts a month and see where I find my groove.

All of this has me wondering whether you make New Years Resolutions.

I've made a couple besides blogging. I've committed to limiting my game time on my phone to an hour a day (hard!) and eating more vegetables (harder!). It might not seem like much, but when I make resolutions, I try to keep a few basic rules in mind.

Goals should be specific, measurable, and within your control.

Twice a month blogging fits into that fairly well, as does limiting game time on my phone. (What an effing time-suck Two Dots can be! Don't download it!!) Eating more vegetables is a little nebulous, though if I give it some thought, it won't be hard to figure out how to articulate that goal in a way that fits the rules.

I will eat 1.5 - 2 cups of fruit and 2 - 3 cups of vegetables a day, every day, 
in order to lose the weight I gained over the holidays.

See? That wasn't hard at all. 

In general, setting goals is easier than keeping them, but keeping them is easier if you make them as specific as possible. "I'm going to change my life," might feel good in the sparkle of New Years Eve champagne, but "I'm going to do 30 minutes a day on the spin bike" is a lot more concrete. 

It's important to keep in mind that your goal should be something that is within your control. An author might say "this year I'm going to sign with an agent", but it's up the an agent to offer a contract - or not. 

What's within an author's control? Research, queries, and persistence.

"I'm going to research agents in January, come up with a list of names in February, 
send out queries in March, and rinse-and-repeat until I'm offered a contract."

Also, an author can hone their craft and make sure their books is the best it can be. 

Which isn't to discourage anyone from making big goals. Something like, "I'll wear my high school jeans to my 20th class reunion" might feel grandiose, but break it into smaller steps that define the scope of the goal and articulate what it'll take to get there. Then use the success that comes from accomplishing small steps to motivate the next and the next after that.

Dream big, but keep your feet on the ground!

This all reminds me of the song, "In My Mind" by Amanda Palmer. I'm not all that familiar with Ms Palmer's music, but the lyrics for this one are so accurate and so honest that I can't help but love it. Check out the link if you're curious, and btw leave me a comment with your favorite NY Resolution. I'd love to hear from you!