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I’m passionate about literature for young people. I love books that portray diverse experiences and cultures. I’ll be sharing my novel writing process, news from the publishing industry, books and authors, and other posts.
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1. Novel Wisdom (26)

This post is part of a series on the blog where I share some of the nuggets of wisdom and inspiration — related to writing and/or life — that I find steeped in the pages of novels that I’ve read.

This book centers on a character who does production design for films. Since I’ve read this book, every time I watch a movie, I take extra care looking at a set design. I think about all the care that was put into a setting or room that may only be on the screen for a few minutes. Amazing how a book can stay with you long after you’ve read it.

I’m in the middle of revisions. Maybe I should say re-vision. I have 4 parts to my novel and I’ve finished the Part 1 but Part 2 is gonna be interesting. Several plot holes and snags to think about. But gotta keep going. Which brings me to this quote that I remember from this book.

everythingleadstoyou
From Toby, brother of Emi, the narrator of the novel Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour

“This is how it works. You bust your ass. Not everything goes your way, and then, after a while, you get to that point. You get to make your own decisions and people look to you for approval on their work.”

0 Comments on Novel Wisdom (26) as of 3/25/2015 9:49:00 PM
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2. Pandemic Novels

I recently finished reading Station Eleven. I had heard so many good things about this book.

I wasn’t disappointed by the writing and the characters. But I have to admit, this book had me at flu pandemic.

I love a pandemic.

Pandemics in novels are not a new premise. It’s been done thousands of times, which proves that there are no new stories under the sun; however, it all depends upon what the writer brings to the story — the plot, the characters, the setting.

So then I started thinking of other pandemic novels that I loved — each of them very different. Here’s a few from my list:

pandemics

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
Love is the Drug by Alaya Dawn Johnson
A Matter of Days by Amber Kizer
Orleans by Sherri L. Smith
Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
The Stand by Stephen King

Do you also love pandemic, end-of-the-world novels as much as I do? Let me know your favorites — I’m always on the lookout.

4 Comments on Pandemic Novels, last added: 3/12/2015
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3. Novel Openings

I love it when I open a book and I fall in love with the words and the character.

I’m currently working on the opening of my current Work-In-Progress (WIP). After this revision, it will probably change. But that’s okay. For inspiration, I tend to go back to some of my favorite books and relish over the opening.

Here’s just a few of my favorites:

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz

AristotleDante

One summer night I fell asleep, hoping the world would be different when I woke. In the morning, when I opened my eyes, the world was the same. I threw off the sheets and lay there as the heat poured in through my open window.

Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King

ignoreveradietz

The pastor is saying something about how Charlie was a free spirit. He was and he wasn’t. He was free because on the inside he was tied up in knots. He lived hard because inside he was dying. Charlie made inner conflict look delicious.

Cress by Marissa Meyer

cress

Her satellite made one full orbit around planet Earth every sixteen hours. It was a prison that came with an endlessly breathtaking view — vast oceans and swirling clouds that set half the world on fire.

The Dark and Hollow Places by Carrie Ryan

darkhollowplaces

The city used to be something once. I’ve seen pictures of the way it gleamed – sun so bright off the windows it could burn your eyes. At night, lights shouted from steel like catcalls, loud and lewd, while all day long white-gloved men rushed to open doors for women who tottered about on skyscraper heels.

What are some of your favorite novel openings? I would love to hear about them.

4 Comments on Novel Openings, last added: 2/18/2015
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4. Trust Yourself

One of my favorite writing books is Writing is My Drink by Theo Pauline Nestor. I found it last summer during a bookstore browse — and I’ve been raving about it ever since. It’s hard to define this book. It’s basically a memoir but based on the writer’s journey. I think it will speak to writers who are trying to find their way and their voice.

writingismydrink

Let’s face it, writing can be hard. I’m working on revisions and I want to be done in the Spring so that I can move on to my next project. But I want to finish the book I’m writing now. This book has put on the back burner so many times because of obligations and life events so I want to finish it. I also feel that I must make it worthy and then I start to freak out because what if I can’t make that happen?

When I was reading Writing is My Drink, this passage made me realize that I have to just let go and trust myself. Here’s what the author had to say on this:

Writing requires trust: trust that words will find you, that the unknown will become known, that the mystery will be solved, that the story will find its arc, that you will find your story and your voice, that your voice will be heard, that you will be understood. But most of all, writing requires you to trust yourself, the source of the voice inside you that supplies the next word, the next line, the next idea. And until you can access some of this trust, you won’t be able to write the stories you want to write the way you want to write them.

So whether you’re revising or starting new draft — don’t be so hard on yourself. Trust yourself. Know that you will find the structure of your story and find the best way to write it.

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5. Some Zen For You

Hope that everyone is doing well. Winter is still with us and I hope you are nice and warm wherever are.

Things are getting back to “normal” — although it will never be like what my life was before — but the good news is that I’m reading a lot — I read 6 lovely books last month, which may be a record for me. A benefit of moving into the city and drastically cutting my commute time. The even better news is that I’m also back on my revisions.

For those of you who have known me and this blog for awhile, you know I love to connect with my “Inner Zen” — one of my favorite online places is Zen Habits. Here’s a recent post that I loved because it spoke to me about life and also can be translated to writing as well. So I wanted to share it with you:

So that day, she stopped trying to protect an imaginary gem. She stopped trying to be right, to be seen as good and competent and smart and perfect, to see herself as a good person at all times. She stopped thinking that other people’s words and actions had anything to do with what she imagined herself to be. She stopped trying to protect her position and self-image.

Enjoy the rest of your week. Get some writing done!

6 Comments on Some Zen For You, last added: 2/7/2015
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6. Novel Wisdom (25)

This post is part of a series on the blog where I share some of the nuggets of wisdom and inspiration — related to writing and/or life — that I find steeped in the pages of novels that I’ve read.

This is a book I found at my public library. It’s been on my radar for awhile and I was happy when I saw it on the shelf. Ironically, I had just re-read The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath the week before so maybe it was kismet since this book revolves around this author.

This novel centers around several teens who are all going through their unique traumas. This particular line spoke to me because we have all been through some type of trial or trauma ourselves and sometimes we just want it to be over — but sometimes you just have to go through whatever it is that has hurt you before you can move on.

Belzhar
From Jam, the narrator of the novel Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer

“I hadn’t known that if you hold on, if you force yourself as hard as you can to find some kind of patience in the middle of all your impatience, things can change. It’s big, and it’s always incredibly messy. But there’s no way around the mess.”

1 Comments on Novel Wisdom (25), last added: 1/31/2015
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7. 2015 Winter TBR List

I still have tons of books on my “To Be Read” (TBR) list but I can’t seem to stop myself from adding even more books to my leaning pile. There are lots of new lovelies coming out.

Here are just a few books that I plan to read this Winter:

2015Winter_Small

The Boy in the Black Suit by Jason Reynolds
Fairest by Marissa Meyer
Please Remain Calm by Courtney Summers
Vivan Apple at the End of the World by Katie Coyle
Hold Tight Don’t Let Go by Laura Rose Wagner
The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma
When by Victoria Laurie
When My Heart was Wicked by Tricia Sterling

How about you? What have you read lately? What do you plan to cozy up and read before the Spring thaw?

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8. Terrible Titles Blog Hop

Today I was tagged by one of writer friends Courtney Leigh to join in the Terrible Titles blog hop.

The idea is simple. Scroll through a WIP and let your cursor randomly land somewhere. That phrase or sentence becomes a terrible title. Do this about eight times and see what you come up with.

These Terrible Titles come from my current novel project LINEAGE:

  1. Her favorite was the Lip Gloss Mafia.
  2. Until bras and body hair.
  3. Poor math deficient child.
  4. Yes, I do love the feel of cash myself.
  5. The Killer Girl would be me.
  6. Shut-up and thanks.
  7. The ultimate walk of shame.
  8. You playing stake out in front of my house was getting old.

Ha. These are not the best titles at all. But kinda of funny don’t you think?

Thanks for tagging me Courtney. :)

5 Comments on Terrible Titles Blog Hop, last added: 1/9/2015
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9. (Re)Evaluating a Year

The year is coming to a close.

When 2014 first opened up, there were shiny new ideas, bursts of energy, and an overall hopeful outlook of a clean slate. It was a chance to get things right, get things done, and end the year with a feeling of accomplishment.

There were the things we thought we would manage: distractions, obligations, responsibilities.

But then there were the things we never saw coming: illness, social injustices, death of loved ones.

The year may have worn us all down. It could have been small cuts. Or devastating blows. Or deep wounds that are still quite not healed.

Either way, you’re standing on the cusp of a new year and you may not feel that you’ve done what you wanted. Now at the end, you may be left with the feeling that another year has slipped by. One more chance has been wasted. The initial evaluation of the year looks like another wash-up. No real successes. Another failure.

Maybe not.

Maybe it wasn’t at all bad. Let go of evaluating the disappointments, lost battles, and setbacks. Maybe instead concentrate on all the good things that happened to you in 2014. Focus instead on the intangible successes and give gratitude for your blessings — no matter how small. Make a list.

For me, here are some things from my list:

  • Being recognized and valued for my skills at my job
  • Selling my house and moving to the city
  • Developing a morning writing routine
  • Creating a total of 45K new words
  • Keeping the promise to travel for quarterly vacations
  • Making beautiful memories with my father
  • Listening to my heart and giving it a voice

I’m sure you can make your own list as well. Write it out. Glow in its truth and then get ready to face 2015 not as broken and bitter but as open and optimistic.

0 Comments on (Re)Evaluating a Year as of 12/17/2014 9:10:00 AM
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10. 2014 Book Favorites

I didn’t get a chance to read everything on my leaning tower of TBR books this year, but here’s a list of some the books that I did enjoy. I would love to hear about your favorite books that you read on 2014.

Young Adult Fiction

2014YA
Dreams of Gods & Monsters by Laini Tyalor
Cress by Marissa Meyer
Pointe by Brandy Colbert

Adult Fiction

2014Fic
The Martian by Andy Weir
The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert
The Girls With All The Gifts by M.R. Carey

Memoir & Essays

2014MemEssays

Life in Motion by Misty Copeland
Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay
Redefining Realness by Janet Mock

Writer Inspiration

2014Inspir

Wonderbook by Jeff VanderMeer
Writing is My Drink by Theo Pauline Nestor
Imagine This by Maxine Clair

4 Comments on 2014 Book Favorites, last added: 12/11/2014
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11. Anatomy of a Morning Writing Session

NaNoWriMo is finished. I didn’t win but I did get more words down than I had in a long time. Winning was not my ultimate goal but to get back in the habit of facing the blank page and to start writing again.

Another thing that I’ve learned is that writing in the morning is where I got the best results. In the past, I wrote at night but my day job responsibilities have changed dramatically and my brain cells are low by evening.

It’s wasn’t very appealing at first but once it became a habit again, I loved the boost it gave me because it meant I was putting writing as a priority — the first thing I do in the day and word by word I found myself getting my confidence back.

It’s very hard to get back into your story after distractions or any kind of emotional trauma. And if you have a perfectionist bent like me, it can be even more discouraging because you know there is still work to do as well.

The point is, you must keep going. You can’t give up. You are not in competition with anyone else. You are unique and you also have a story to tell. You can only do this one word at a time.

With my morning sessions, I have a few things I do and I thought I would share them with you:

  • Coffee Meditation: The fact for me is that I need coffee to become conscious. After I make my coffee, I sit and sip and think about what I want to write or revise or on most days I sit in silence and wait for my mind to wake up. After the caffeine has kicked in and I can go face the page.
  • Reading Selection: I read a chapter from my always huge TBR leaning tower of books. It gives me the inspiration I need or if I’m reading fiction, it can give me an example of how a particular scene can be done. This week, I’m reading Imagine This by Maxine Clair.
  • Writer Journal: I’ve had a writer journal for years. This is the place where I write about my progress or story ideas. It’s a hodgepodge of things related to the writing process only. This is the first writing I do. It’s almost like a warm-up in a way.
  • Word quota or Revision Goal: If I’m writing draft, I usually set a 250 or a 500 word quota if I’m a drafting a scene. No editing, no correcting. Just getting words down on the page. If I’m revising, I set a goal to revise a specific chapter or a specific scene.
  • Next Day Prep: I think about what I want to work on the next day. It gives me something to look forward to and gets my subconscious percolating about ideas.

My writing session usually is around 2 hours (5:30 am to 7:30 am). Usually the sun is just starting to rise when I’m done. The city starts to wake up and then I go about my day feeling like a bad ass who has worked on her novel.

Morning sessions are what work for me. Do you have a structure or specific time that you work on your writing?

6 Comments on Anatomy of a Morning Writing Session, last added: 12/3/2014
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12. Writing Again

I knew it would happen but it feels good to actually know that my characters are speaking to me and that I’ve been writing.

I’m participating in National Novel Writing Month (NanoWriMo) — I’m TrueImage if you want to buddy me. I’ve never won NaNoWriMo and I’m usually a slow writer but a lot of my writer friends are participating so I knew I would have lots of support and I also knew it would be a good way to get back into the writing habit without the pressure. Perfection is a weakness of mine and getting words down on the page without an internal editor could result in some great things to revise later. Technically, I’m not writing a novel from scratch but new scenes for my revision. I hate drafting. Ugh. Hopefully NanoWritMo will help me get them done.

On the first day of NanoWriMo when I wrote 644 words, it felt amazing. The first new words that I had written since my father passed away in August. It was as if I had never left my story. My characters, plot twist, and even that stupid chapter 34 were all waiting for me to come back to them.

I’ve also started back writing at night. I’m a night owl by nature so this is most beneficial to me. Since I’ve moved into the city, I’ve gained a good chunk of time back into my life that I can dedicate to my writing. Plus that 5:30 am wake-up call had lost all its sex appeal.

The thing I’m most proud about is that I’m still writing and still striving. Even with everything that has happened in the last few months, I know I still have the things that give me that rush — words, characters, plot, drama, and storytelling.

For those of you who are participating in NaNoWriMo — good luck! I’m usually writing between the hours of 8:30pm and 10:00pm so you can join me and share your word count and your progress with me on Twitter at @KarenMusings.

2 Comments on Writing Again, last added: 11/12/2014
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13. Novel Wisdom (24)

This post is part of a series on the blog where I share some of the nuggets of wisdom and inspiration — related to writing and/or life — that I find steeped in the pages of novels that I’ve read.

It’s very easy to get burdened down with worries and regret and things that could been done a different way. One of the things I’ve been learning is just to take each day as it comes with a fresh start.

I read this book based on a Twitter post from the author Nova Ren Suma, who taught a fabulous online writing workshop that I loved and learned much. It was a haunting literary novel set in the 80’s about a girl who has no choice but to endure her circumstances.

From Joon, the narrator of the novel Miles from Nowhere by Nami Mun

milesfromnowhere
“And at the start of every new day, I still believed I could choose my own beginning, one that was scrubbed clean of everything past.”

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14. Before and After

I know now that we never get over great losses; we absorb them, and they carve us into different, often kinder, creatures – Gail Caldwell.

My life has dramatically changed since my last blog post.

My father suddenly passed away on August 13th. A total shock to everyone who loved him.

Now I see my life separated into two watersheds: Before and After.

I ask myself what happens now that I’m in the After? Things will never be the same. There will now always be something different. Something always missing. It can never be like it was in the Before.

I found the above quote on Pinterest and it spoke to me — because I would like to think there is hope into carving myself into a different, kinder creature with this great loss.

Books and writing have always saved me. With the difficult times ahead of me, I now know that books and writing will save me again.

My blogging may be sporadic but I plan to share inspiring gems from my reading and then when I’m ready I’ll start back on the novel revision. My father wouldn’t want me to give up and I know the writing will be waiting for me when I return.

6 Comments on Before and After, last added: 9/11/2014
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15. The Depression Stigma

She woke up torpid each morning, slowed by sadness, frightened by the endless stretch of day that lay ahead. Everything had thickened. She was swallowed, lost in a viscous haze, shrouded in a soup of nothingness. Between her and what she should feel, there was a gap. She cared about nothing. She wanted to care, but she no longer knew how; it had slipped from her memory, the ability to care. Sometimes she woke up flailing and helpless, and she saw, in front of her and behind her and all around her, an utter hopelessness

From Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

When I read this passage in the above novel, I thought that this was probably the most accurate description of what depression can feel like. Depression can be a relentless and elusive entity.

There has been a lot of talk lately about depression due to recent death of Robin Williams. As writers with our creative spirit, we tend to live inside our heads. It can be very easy to go into a downward spiral. Between writer’s block, rejection letters, dealing with envy and comparing yourself to other writers, it’s easy to fall into depression’s grip.

The thing about our society is that everyone feels that they should be happy all the time and then feel guilty when they don’t. Social media doesn’t help much either because we tend to only share our sunny days instead of our stormy ones.

Then there’s the stigma that people with depression are weak and need to get a grip. This is probably the most common reason that people hide their feelings. Sometimes the happiest people can be the saddest people. Emotions are sticky and private. They can be overwhelming. It’s messy work and makes people uncomfortable. It’s hard to share when the possible reply could be a brush off instead of empathy. It’s hard to be vulnerable with your emotions. It’s much better to fake it and pretend that everything is okay.

The most important thing is that you shouldn’t ignore the feelings. It could be more than a case of having a bad day or melancholy. Events like heartbreak, death of a loved one, or other personal losses can have an effect over a prolonged period of time.

So don’t ignore these feelings. They are real. Don’t feel guilty that you should feel happy. You are not weak. And most important, don’t feel like there is no hope. The trick of depression is that it tells you that you don’t matter and nobody cares. But that is a total lie: You do matter and there are people who care. Ask for help. It is waiting for you.

1 Comments on The Depression Stigma, last added: 8/14/2014
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16. Your Writer Journey

During my July hiatus, several things have started to click together for the benefit of my writing.

I finished the 18-month stint of a major software project, which frees up more time for me to work on the novel and I’ve decided to put the house up for sale! I have about a 2-3 hour daily commute and it’s been a drain to say the least. So now that the real estate market is in my favor, I will have an opportunity to move closer to the city. So excited!

One thing I’ve been thinking a lot about lately is the writer journey. How as writers we go through the valleys and peaks and then maybe stumble and have to work hard to find our way again. This summer I’ve had several conversations with writer friends about envy, disappointment, and disillusionment.

I always try to steer myself back to one of the things I want to do LESS of in 2014: Compare myself to other people.

I’ve been on my writing journey for a while but started seriously 5 years ago when I started this blog. Within this timeframe, this has been the journey of some other writers:

  • Has published several books and just signed another multi-book deal.
  • Has struggled with getting better at writing but lacks time and money.
  • Has become a mainstay on the New York Bestsellers list.
  • Has made the painful decision to stop writing.
  • Has worked hard and now on the verge of a major breakthrough.

I’m sure if you were to create a list, you would have the same varied experiences of writers that started within the same time frame of your journey as well. You could compare yourself to the list and be left feeling smug, indifferent, jealous or depressed.

The thing is all of those writers had different paths. Paths based on different wants, needs, priorities, opportunities, privileges, and luck.

Those paths are not your path. It’s not your writer journey.

Never forget: You are the only one in the Universe that can write the words for the story that needs to be told.

No one else.

No matter how long it’s been or how long it takes.

Never give up on your journey to be the best writer you can be.

6 Comments on Your Writer Journey, last added: 8/6/2014
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17. Novel Wisdom (23)

This post is part of a series on the blog where I share some of the nuggets of wisdom and inspiration — related to writing and/or life — that I find steeped in the pages of novels that I’ve read.

I seem to have an obsession with horror. Particularly zombies. Why I want to read something that gives me nightmares is beyond me. This started early as a kid — like 11 or 12. Maybe it’s being able to live through an apocalypse and see what how it fares out. At least my zombie survival skills are on point. I think I would be able to make it.

I’m actually reading a zombie book now, The Girl with All the Gifts but one of my most favorite zombie books is by Courtney Summers and I found out recently that there will be a sequel next year. So the first book may be on my summer re-read list. I originally read this book while on vacation in Italy. Lucky for me Rome was so beautiful and consuming that I didn’t have any nightmares.

How can a zombie novel give a nugget of wisdom? Basically you’re in survival mode so you have to stay in the present. You have to be aware of everything in the moment. Stay out of the past. That is something that we can transfer into our own lives.

From Cary to Sloane, the narrator of the novel This is Not a Test by Courtney Summers

Summers
“Maybe but you need to bury it,” Cary tells me. “All of that’s over. You have to be here now.”

4 Comments on Novel Wisdom (23), last added: 6/28/2014
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18. Writing for Yourself

Hope everyone’s writing is going well.

For me, I’m struggling with the logic of the ending and some other plot points of my current novel project. I’m happy with some results and not so happy with some other things.

If you follow me on Twitter, you already know that I’m struggling with Chapter 12. That stupid, stupid chapter. No, it doesn’t seem I’m bitter at all, does it? Ha.

Looking at my list of “Doing Less in 2014” one item was trying to be perfect at everything. At the end of the day, this book won’t be perfect and it’s a stress maker trying to make it so. I’m learning that sometimes you just have to do your best and move on.

Also looking at my list of “Doing More in 2014” one item is writing from the heart. Yesterday on my commute, I listened to the latest podcast of This Creative Life featuring Stephanie Kuehn. This podcast is hosted by Sara Zarr, who is the author of one of my favorite YA novels, Story of a Girl.

Stephanie talked about her road to publication and how she wrote previous novels, worked with a previous agent, and basically got a little disheartened about the whole process. She also kept hearing at writing conferences about what sold well when it came to male protagonists.

It wasn’t until she cancelled out everything she heard and began to write for herself. Not only the result was the award winning Charm & Strange, but for also a lesson of just writing from your heart and not so much writing for publication.

Another item of my “Doing Less in 2014” – thinking publication is the answer. Publication is a goal to strive for but not a desperation that overwhelms you and makes you write for an audience that others tell you will make your novel a bestseller. You must write the story you want to write. The story of your heart. The story you are meant to tell.

It won’t be easy but it will be worth it.

5 Comments on Writing for Yourself, last added: 6/19/2014
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19. When Goals Fall Apart

This is the time of year when goals die.

Remember all those goals you set for yourself? What you planned on that bright and shiny January day when all things were hopeful and everything could be accomplished?

It’s now March and usually two scenarios are unfolding:

Scenario 1: You’re striving toward your goals and making great progress. You may even finish all your goals ahead of schedule. You’re officially kicking 2014′s ass.

Scenario 2: You’ve fallen off the wagon with your newly formed habits and now are having second thoughts about your goals. You’re getting behind schedule. 2014 is easily kicking your ass.

So let’s not talk about Scenario 1.

You’ve fallen off the wagon. You haven’t been consistent. You want to ditch all your goals and chill. All symptoms that your resolve and discipline are wearing off.

If you’re feeling this way, you’re right on schedule. This is usually the time of year when it happens. There are many reasons. I’ll share a few of mine:

  1. These goals require hard work and sacrifice — what the hell was I thinking?
  2. Overwhelmed with competing goals — I should take a nap and let my subconscious choose.
  3. These goals gotta be perfect — I want everything to be flawless and it kinda isn’t. Dammit.
  4. Fear of failure — if I stop trying to reach my goals I’m technically a quitter and not a loser.
  5. Coldest. Winter. Ever.

The good news is that it’s not too late for me and it’s not too late for you.

You can dust yourself off and get back on track. If you’ve swayed away from any new-formed habits or haven’t been working on your goals — don’t beat yourself up about it.

If your goals are falling apart, it may be time to get realistic — take a step back and reassess what you need to do.

Ask yourself this important question: Can I accomplish all my goals in 2014?

If your goals are reachable, make an effort to keep striving but realize you may fall off the wagon again. New habits are especially slippery and when you find yourself slacking off — start back up again. You may also have to dig deeper on why you’re not actually making an effort to make a goal happen. Is it fear of failure? Trying to be perfect? More than likely it’s psychological. Be honest with yourself and take it on a day by day basis.

If your goals are too over the top, scale back and break down into smaller milestones. Can you *really* write 1500 words a day? Is 500 words a better fit for you? Maybe take the word count totally out of the equation. How about writing for an hour or 30 minutes a day? You’ll be more motivated by the success of finishing manageable tasks instead of being overwhelmed and giving up.

How do you keep your goals from falling apart? Are you still on track for your 2014 goals?

7 Comments on When Goals Fall Apart, last added: 3/5/2014
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20. Vacation TBR List

My vacation starts tomorrow!

I’ll be spending some time off the grid in the Caribbean for awhile. I’m taking LOTS of books with me to-be-read (TBR). Not sure if I’ll be able to read all of them between relaxing and being fabulous. Ha.

I don’t know about you but there are SO. MANY. BOOKS. I want to read. For this trip, I have a sort of science fiction theme going but I also have some fun fiction, craft, and memoir in the mix as well.

Here’s what I plan on taking with me on my trip:

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In the After by Demitria Lunetta
Cress by Marissa Meyer
Lilith’s Brood by Octavia Butler
The Martian by Andy Weir
Redefining Realness by Janet Mock
Conversations with Octavia Butler edited by Conseula Francis
The Awesome Girl’s Guide to Dating Extraordinary Men by Ernessa T. Carter
The Authentic Swing by Steven Pressfield

Read any good books lately? Let me know about them so when I get back I can add them to my already growing, leaning tower of TBR books!

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21. Off the Grid Benefits

It’s been awhile since my last post. Hope everything is OK with everyone!

I’ve slowly managed my way back to civilization and “real world” life. Last month, I spent a week in the Caribbean and I must say it was the best thing I could have done for myself.

I was off the grid too. No access to my phone. No access to social media. It forced me to enjoy right what was in front of me.

I also didn’t do any writing. Usually when I take off and travel, it usually involves some type of writing – working or revising a current WIP but this time I literally did nothing but relax, read, and enjoyed the ocean, the sun, and the sand.

Being of the off the grid has benefits. Here were some of mine:

  • You can bring focus back to yourself. Self-care is something we don’t do enough of and having limited access to the outside world allowed me to access and remember all the simple things I love that bring me joy.
  • You can get back in touch with nature’s beauty. Just the simple things like the frosted wave caps of the ocean, the melody of a tropical bird, or even the sun baked warmth of the sand was a natural endorphin that gave me calm and peace.
  • You can practice the art of doing nothing. Everyone has a “to-do” list. It’s always “Go, Go, Go!” Sitting and doing nothing usually makes me feel guilty. But in reality it was a small gift that I gave to myself.

I know that not everyone can take off for a week and chill in the Caribbean but there are some small things everyone can do to take time off the grid. Maybe take a day and not use any smartphones or social media. Take pleasure in staying in your pajamas and sleeping in for as long as you want. Reserve a day to have a binge-watch party or read that book you’ve been trying to complete in snippets. Go to the park and have a picnic with no timeline of how long you stay.

Or make it a daily practice. Get up an hour early when the house is quiet or stay up a little later at night when everyone is asleep. Or for the busy person whose schedule is overflowing, how about just 10 minutes in nature? Put your bare feet in grass, close your eyes to the sun, and take a deep breath?

Have any of you been off the grid? Do any of you incorporate it in your life as a practice? I would love to hear about it!

3 Comments on Off the Grid Benefits, last added: 4/10/2014
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22. Novel Wisdom (22)

This post is part of a series on the blog where I share some of the nuggets of wisdom and inspiration — related to writing and/or life — that I find steeped in the pages of novels that I’ve read.

Last week, I finished this YA novel that touched a nerve with me. Bullying is taken on a whole other level with social media and technology, but the root of bullying hasn’t changed. Growing up working-class, I had several girls in my neighborhood who hated me for the basic reason that I loved books and got good grades. They tormented me all through middle school. It was an awful time. I became a different person as a defense mechanism and it took some years to find my way back to the girl I actually wanted to be. I was one of the luckier ones who had the support of a family who loved me and convinced me that I could have a better life. Now when I look back at those girls, I know it really wasn’t me that they hated.

From Lila, the aunt of Piddy, the narrator of the novel Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass by Meg Medina

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You know where this Yaqui girl is going to be in a few years if she doesn’t change? She’ll still be there — same as always in her old neighborhood — a nobody with nothing. And guess what? That’s her worst fear. And who knows? Maybe that’s what she’ll deserve for being a punk and making people feel bad just because she could.

But you? You’re different. You’re going to be better than that, and that’s what kills her, Piddy. That’s what makes her burn with hate. She can already see you’re winning. You’re going to get an education and use your brain.

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23. Trilogy Re-Reads

There’s something about reading a trilogy — of course the waiting for the next book can be torture — but once all the books are out, it’s a reader’s dream to relish through the whole story uninterrupted. Especially when bound all together in one big omnibus.

There are some specific trilogies that I love and have read several times. I think this summer I’m going to revisit them yet once again. I can always find something new in each read.

Here are my summer trilogy re-reads:

His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman

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The Golden Compass
The Subtle Knife
The Amber Spyglass

The Midnighters Trilogy by Scott Westerfeld

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The Secret Hour
Touching Darkness
Blue Noon

The Abhorsen Chronicles by Garth Nix

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Sabriel
Lirarel
Abhorsen

Ah, I see a theme here. :)

Do you have a favorite trilogy that you love to re-read?

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24. Feedly Inspirations

Since my beloved Google Reader died and went to tech heaven, I’ve been using Feedly, which keeps me sane by helping me organize all of the various articles, blogs, and Tumblrs that I want to read.

This week I’ve found some inspirational posts that I thought I would share with you.

Stacia Brown, Levels to This: One Week at WaPo:

“There is nothing wrong with the slow rise, the circuitous, meandering exploration of many paths. We are not all meant to be meteors. Some of us are satellites: we hover, capture, study. We wait. There is no shame in it.”

Joshunda Saunders, Poem: For Writers

“No one is coming to proclaim your talent rough or refined.

You are your only true nemesis,

a house divided against its productivity.”

Have you read anything recently that has been inspiring to you? I would love to hear about it.

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25. June? Seriously?!

We are six months into 2014. It’s June. Isn’t that crazy?

2014 Goals: Revision, Revision

Summer is my favorite time of year. For one thing the software geek job tends not to be “as crazy” as it is during other times of the year and I can get more writing done. My goal is to finish my revisions. Morning writing sessions are helping a lot as well as not giving myself such pressure to be perfect. Basically I’m trying to “fail better” and “write from the heart.” Instead of trying to write what can sell, I would rather write what I would want to read. Much better.

Doing More in 2014: Vacations

I recently went to my favorite place — the beach — and mostly ate shaved ice and read books. Works for me. It was sultry and hot — just the way I like it!

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One of my dream vacations is to go to Bali. This Travel Noire post Bali: Island in the Sun just made me want to book a ticket. I’m going to try and make that happen soon. Maybe in 2016? *crosses fingers*

Recently Read Books

I finally got a chance to read the sweeping, thick novel The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert and also the provocative and stunning An Untamed State by Roxane Gay. Both are excellent reads.

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Inspirational Gems

Here are some gems that I’ve found in cyberspace that you might find interesting.

YouTube Video: Inspire Her Mind – Promoting More Girls to go into STEM

Shonda Rhimes’ Real Talk for Dartmouth Grads: Dreams Are for Losers

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