The Power of Writing Partners…Or How I Won #NaNoWriMo After All

nanowrimo_2016_webbadge_winner-smallerIn my last post, NaNoWriMo: 4 Reasons You Should Keep Going, Even If You Won’t Win, I talked about how far behind I was in my goal of writing 50k in one month. Although I kept writing, I felt pretty certain that I would not be a NaNoWriMo winner in 2016.

And then, something happened.

My good friend, Jenny Hansen, suggested doing writing sprints together. The NaNoWriMo website provided an easy, effective tool for setting up a group sprint and then adding your word count total at the end of your time. We coordinated our schedules, set up group sprints, and let our fingers fly across our keyboards.

Even though we’re separated by 1500 miles and two time zones, we experienced that connection of both going for the same goal and supporting one another. Just knowing she was on the other end and expected me to get some words down motivated me to, well, get some words down. Her encouragement was awesome, but the accountability probably mattered more.

Because having someone cheering for you isn’t quite like having someone on the same team with you. It’s fabulous to hear, “You can do it!” “I’m pulling for you!” “You’ve got this!” And the support of other writers on Facebook and Twitter and face-to-face absolutely helped me adopt the right attitude.

But the accountability of a writing partner forced me to clear the time, open up my manuscript, and write words and pages and scenes.

I was 20,000 words behind. But Jenny and I both ended up having two 5,000+ word days. And on November 30, we crossed the finish line together. That’s right, I’m a NaNoWriMo winner after all!

I have a mostly completed manuscript, a NaNoWriMo winner T-shirt on its way, and some great takeaways. Including that I want to continue writing with others to increase my accountability and meet my goals.

In fact, the NaNoWriMo site still has its group sprint page available, which I highly recommend. Or you could meet in person with local writers. Or set a clock and tag someone on social media. Whatever works for you.

Congratulations to all the NaNoWriMo winners out there! And an especially big shout-out to Jenny Hansen for breaking the finish line ribbon with me.

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NaNoWriMo: 4 Reasons You Should Keep Going, Even If You Won’t Win

keep-calm-and-write-50kNaNoWriMo is short for National Novel Writing Month, a challenge across the globe for people to write a novel in the month of November. To set a specific goal, the “novel in a month” is defined as 50,000 words.

I’ve participated once before, when I did not complete the goal but got a bunch of words. This year, I threw my hat in the ring again with hopes I’d make the 50,000-word mark.

But I’m currently 8,300 words behind where I should be. At the rate I’m going, I will reach 50k on December 17.

Realistically, I’m not going to win this thing. At the end of November, I won’t have a complete novel, I won’t get the NaNoWriMo Winner Badge, I won’t get bragging rights. Yet even though I’m usually a glass-half-full gal, when it comes to NaNoWriMo, I take a raise-your-glass-for-a-toast attitude.

Here are four reasons you should keep doing NaNoWriMo, even if you’re pretty darn sure it’s not going to happen after all:

  1. You’re consistently writing. Okay, maybe not every day, and maybe some days you’re happy to get 400 words. But I’m writing on my novel more often than I had been, and with greater consistency. Getting these words down has become a priority on my daily list. If NaNoWriMo helps you get back into the writing groove, it’s worth it whether you reach your 50k on time or not.
  2. You’re making progress. Saying I’m 8,300 words behind sounds bad, but saying I’ve written 18,300 words this month sounds much better. That’s 18,300 words I didn’t have when NaNoWriMo began. That kind of progress should be celebrated and continued. So what if I don’t make 50k, I will have a bunch of new words. And most of them are words I like. I bet you’ve got more words too.
  3. You’re building community. One of the perks of a group writing challenge is being able to share your experience with others. Once you tell people on Facebook or Twitter that you’re doing NaNoWriMo, you’ll find others doing it too. Then you can encourage, congratulate, and commiserate with your peers. Some will reach their goal, some will not, but we’re all in this together.
  4. You’re going to finish. The rules of NaNoWriMo are that you have until November 30, but no one’s standing there and stopping you from writing on December 1. So what if you don’t get the “win” and you finish the book a half-month or a month or even two months later — you still wrote a book! Once you get a bunch of words into a novel, hopefully you’re sucked into the story enough that you’re determined to finish that baby. I know I am. Maybe I won’t make it by the end of the month, but I’m willing to bet a bottle of wine that I finish by the end of the year.

There’s still a chance I could make my 50,000 words. I’m a competitive enough person that I’m motivated to try to make up that gap.

But even if I don’t, I’m personally calling this a win. NaNoWriMo has gotten me deeper into my novel, excited about my story, turning out words, and hanging out with other writers. So I’m not quitting.

Neither should you.

Lucky 7 & An Unlucky Fairy Godmother

One of my very favorite indie authors, Kait Nolan, tagged me for the Lucky 7 challenge. The rules?

Go to page 7 or 77 in your current WIP.

  • Go to line 7
  • Post on your blog the next 7 sentence or 7 lines — as they are!
  • Tag 7 people and do the same

A Little Fairy Dust coverSo here’s my entry from page 7 of A Little Fairy Dust, the next short story coming out (hopefully) in August! Faye is a fairy godmother in training, Jet is her ex, and she gets caught working a little magic.

“What is it, Faye?”

“Why should I tell you?” I dropped my caught-off-guard tone and moved to my he’s-still-a-liar tone. He’d hid plenty from me, so whatever I was up to was none of his business.

“Because you might be doing something else to sabotage the team.”

“Something else? What did I do before?”

Jet tilted his head and held up his casted hand, like it was a smoking gun.

“I didn’t do that,” I answered. “You punched the wall.”

[Now imagine a serious, booming voice.] “Why did Jet punch the wall? Why is he blaming Faye? Is Faye sabotaging the football team? Why is this guy named after a plane?

“Find out when you read A Little Fairy Dust — coming soon!” 🙂

ROW80 Goals

It’s time again to announce my goals for the next round of A Round of Words in 80 Days, the writing challenge that knows you have a life. Last round, I set only five goals and did reasonably well reaching them. I’m going to keep it streamlined once again.

1. Finish editing Sharing Hunter, young adult contemporary novel. I’m already making better progress on this, by the way.

2. Edit, polish, and release two more short stories in my Paranormal Playground series. Release dates will probably be mid-August and late September.

3. Read 12 books. This remains a good number for me, and my reading will include both fiction and nonfiction.

4. Attend RWA Conference and Day of YA in San Antonio and follow-up as needed. The conference is July 23-26.

That’s it! A few specific goals that are do-able, yet stretch me all the same.

I am forgoing sponsor duty this time around, since summers are kind of crazy for me, but I’m glad to stay involved. ROW80 has been a boost to my work productivity and a great chance to support other authors. If you’re a writer looking for some inspiration, motivation, and/or accountability, check it out here.

How’s your writing or your week gone? What goals have you set for yourself? And, just for fun, who’s your favorite fairy in fiction?

How Much Should You Cuss in YA?

I’ve wanted to take on this subject for a long time, but I vacillated about the risk of creating controversy. But then Mark Alpert of The Kill Zone wrote What the %#$@? in which he talked honestly about cutting out the curse words for his young adult novel and how that affected his writing.

So I’m tackling the subject today.

Teenage girl holding book

Here’s my own truth. I allow myself to cuss in first drafts. If I truly believe a teen character would say s**t, I type s**t in that first draft. I turn off the editor and put on the page whatever seems to work for the scene.

But my final goal is to limit cussing as much as possible. Why? Do I think teens must have squeaky-clean books? That they should be placed in a bubble?

No, I don’t. However, there are some good reasons to limit the curse words on the page.

Setting a higher standard. People learn language when they read. Reading has vastly improved my vocabulary, and a lot of that learning happened in those formative teenage years.

Plenty of teenagers are near-experts in the use of the F-word, but maybe by reading other ways to express themselves, they’ll expand their language options. Hey, I’d love for my kids to learn to insult more like Shakespeare:

“‘Sblood, you starveling, you elf-skin, you dried neat’s tongue, you bull’s pizzle, you stock-fish! O for breath to utter what is like thee! you tailor’s-yard, you sheath, you bowcase; you vile standing-tuck!” – 1 Henry IV

“The tartness of his face sours ripe grapes.” – Coriolanus

“A knave; a rascal; an eater of broken meats.” – King Lear

Thank goodness he didn’t simply use the same curse words over and over. And if the Bard can set that standard, I want to aim for it too.

Extraneous cussing can offend readers I want. I don’t know anyone who won’t read a book just because it’s cuss-word free, but I know plenty who won’t pick up a book with a lot of cussing in it. I want everyone I can possibly have as a reader to pick up my book. Of course, my subject matter and style won’t appeal to some, but if it’s merely some cuss words I can easily eliminate, I figure that’s worth doing.

I won’t shortchange the story, and some stories are simply made for older audiences, but I still watch my words to keep my story as accessible as I can.

Going deeper and getting more creative with words. Cuss words can be shortcuts, like when we know a character is angry because he utters “dammit.” Mark Alpert talked about having to go deeper to find ways to express emotion on the page without resorting to cuss words.

I recently went through this process of trying to figure out what a character would call this total jerk. In my first draft, she called him the apt a**hole. But that was easy. I dug deeper to what she really wanted to say and found a story-themed phrase that worked way better (waste of flesh). When I pushed myself for that more creative epithet, I reveled in the final product. It was right for her and for the scene, and it was more original.

It’s fiction, not real life. The reason I most hear from writers for the inclusion of many curse words is realism. I totally get that. Sure enough, if you’ve got a gang member selling drugs on the street, he’s isn’t going to say, “Jeepers, the cops are here!” So sometimes a cuss word is exactly what’s needed.

But this is fiction, not real life. If I wrote real life dialogue between teenagers, I’d also use the word like a billion times. “He was like, ‘Hey, Babe,’ and I was like, ‘No way,’ and then we like went to her house and she was totally like ‘Why didn’t you get with him?'”

Or we’d include a bunch of ums and uhs. But we don’t. Because those are unnecessary words. Instead, we streamline words and dialogue to keep things realistic yet well-paced. So I think about that standard when I consider using cuss words. Do I need this word? Or is it more of a “like” or “um” choice?

I want my family to be able to read what I write. On a personal level, I want my parents, my siblings, my children, my nieces and nephews, and my someday grandkids to all be able to read what I write — and me not feel any need to blush or apologize. As a devout Christian, I try to keep my own language clean and positive, so I want to model that life principle on the page as well. Such unspoken accountability to my family keeps me within the standards I’ve set for my own life.

So yeah, to some extent this is a personal choice. But I also believe it’s a good professional choice to limit cussing in YA when you can.

ROW80 Update

And now for my weekly update for A Round of Words in 80 Days. Has my progress evoked a stream of cuss words in my head or some yahoos instead?

1. Read 12 books. I finished Sketchy Behavior by Erynn Mangum and The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. Done! 12 of 12 read this round.

2. Finish editing SHARING HUNTER, a young adult contemporary novel. Still editing and will be for a while, but I’m supremely happy to have found an excellent critique partner nearby. I rewrote a chapter based on her comments and love the result. I also did some important replotting and started rewriting another chapter. Yahoo for this one.

3. Edit one short story to publication quality. Still waiting on comments from a couple of advance readers. One plus of self-publishing is I can move my personal deadlines back if I need that time to polish the story to where I want it. Nothing this week.

4. Publish and promote two short storiesMy Sister’s Demon is done. Still waiting on story #2. Half done!

5. Stay on top of ROW80 sponsor duties. Checked in on the Wednesday updates from several bloggers. Some fabulous progress! Downright inspirational. Done.

So what do you think about cussing in young adult? Or any other genres? And how was your week?

Are You Snarky? Synonyms for Sarcastic

Sarcasm often gets a bad wrap. Look up the word sarcasm on Google, and this is the first definition you’ll see: “the use of irony to mock or convey contempt.”

Indeed, one can be sarcastic with a mean motive. But what many people tend to call sarcasm today is really comic irony. Perhaps a better definition for modern usage is the first one given by Merriam-Webster: “the use of words that mean the opposite of what you really want to say especially in order to insult someone, to show irritation, or to be funny.”

Yeah, those last two are what I do. Not really the first.

In case you need some alternatives for the word sarcastic, here I come to the rescue!

Super Sarcastic Girl

Snarky. This has become my favorite. Although around since 1906, it’s been used more often in recent years. It derives from a word meaning “snort,” which is about the way a good snarky comment can come across.

Sarky. In case that word above just has too many letters, you can go with the British (or more specifically, Cockney) slang version of sarcastic — sarky. Which really just sounds like you’re too lazy to use three syllables and shortened it to two.

Quippish. You know what a quip is — “a clever usually taunting remark.” But did you know there’s an adjective version? Yep, it’s quippish. It’s not often used or even included in some dictionaries, but we can bring it back into fashion.

Witty. Let’s face it. If you’re good at sarcasm, you’re witty, which is defined as “showing or characterized by quick and inventive verbal humor.” You can be witty-mean or witty-funny, and that part is your choice.

Use your snarky, sarky, quippish wit with care. While studies have shown that “exposure to sarcasm enhances creative problem solving, the effects aren’t all positive; some people take sarcasm as truly insulting.

But if you’re looking for someplace to celebrate your sarcastic wit, you can share your sarcasm with me or you can check out the Sarcasm Society (also on Facebook).

And now here’s my un-sarcastic report on my progress for A Round of Words in 80 Days, the writing challenge that knows you have a life.

ROW80 Update

1. Read 12 books. I read No More Christian Nice Girl: When Just Being Nice–Instead of Good–Hurts You, Your Family, and Your Friends by Paul Coughlin and Jennifer D. PhD Degler (nonfiction obviously). And I’m two-thirds through Techniques of the Selling Writer by Dwight Swain. 9 2/3 of 12 finished!

2. Finish editing SHARING HUNTER, a young adult contemporary novel. Yay, I got quite a bit of plotting done this week! I’m working on summarizing scenes and seeing where I need to beef up and where I need to press delete. Call this week a win! (Finally.)

3. Edit one short story to publication quality. I found two teenage girls to read the short story and give their feedback. Once I get their comments, I’ll finish editing and polishing. On hold.

4. Publish and promote two short storiesMy Sister’s Demon is available on Amazon and coming soon to Barnes & Noble. Half done!

5. Stay on top of ROW80 sponsor duties. Visited 7 blogs this week. Lots of great progress and exciting news out there! Done.

So are you a sarcastic person? What word do you use to refer to yourself or others who use comic, or abrasive, irony? And how was your week?

P.S. I wasted a ton of time enjoyed spending time creating a superhero, which you can do as well at Marvel.com.

Wrapping Up the Year and ROW80

2013 Year in ReviewWelcome to Scarlet Thread Sunday, the day I share something I’ve learned in the labyrinth of life. This particular post is about what I’ve learned this year as a writer — my accomplishments, my setbacks, and my ongoing challenges and goals.

Throughout the year, I’ve signed up for A Round of Words in 80 Days, the writing challenge that knows you have a life from Kait Nolan. Each 80-day round allows writers to set their own goals, check in once or twice a week, and share their achievements and struggles. Fellow participants provide encouragement and accountability.

Following are my particular goals this round and what I accomplished. I didn’t complete all of the goals, but I want to focus on what I did get done.

1. Finish YA contemporary novel, SHARING HUNTER, by completing three chapters each week.

  • Replotted Sharing Hunter with a better plot points and a synopsis.
  • Wrote/rewrote several chapters in Sharing Hunter, in line with the replot (and loved how it was finally coming together!).
  • Revisited and researched archetypes to make sure all of my characters have a darn good purpose in this novel. Streamlined the character list and introduced one new character.

2. Take Short Stories 101 course from Young Adult RWA.

  • Took the short story course and wrote a young adult paranormal short.
  • Wrote two more YA paranormal short stories.
  • Edited one of those stories thoroughly.
  • Edited the other two stories somewhat.
  • Laid out a publication schedule for the stories in 2014 and consulted with a potential illustrator about book covers.

3. 10 fiction books and 2 nonfiction books. 

  • Read 9 fiction books: Scarlet by Marissa Meyer; A Voice in the Wind by Francine Rivers; Dangerous and Unseemly by K.B. Owen; Taking Chances by S.J. Maylee; Haunted Spouse by Heather MacAllister; Real Vampires Have Curves by Gerry Bartlett; Shiver and Linger by Maggie Stiefvater; and Scandal in the Night by Elizabeth Essex.
  • Read 3 nonfiction books: Breasts by Florence Williams; Competability: Solving Problems in Your Multi-Cat Household by Amy Shojai; Grace-Filled Marriage by Tim Kimmel.

What else did I accomplish this past year?

  • Took an Internet Security for Writers course from WANA International
  • Attended DFW Writers’ Conference
  • Participated in Immersion Class from Lawson Academy (Margie Lawson, writing coach)
  • Wrestled with Sharing Hunter several times over, but on the right track now
  • Found a fabulous critique partner in my area
  • Wrote a paranormal short story; edited and polished it to publication-ready (not one mentioned above)
  • Visited three Houston-area chapters of Romance Writers of America
  • Joined the Houston Bay Area RWA
  • Took a short story course from the Young Adult RWA chapter
  • Wrote 116 blog posts
  • Read 42 Books (my list on Goodreads)
  • Copy edited a few projects
  • And the plot bunnies (yeah, I started a few, but maybe these aren’t exactly accomplishments)

My kids put real perspective on all of this, however, when they say, “Where’s your published book?” 😀 I simply reply, “Working on it!”

Yet, I can see that I truly am. What doesn’t show in the numbers is that my writing ability and confidence have vastly improved in the past few years. When I first began writing, I thought I was ready, but I wasn’t. Not really.

Now when I write, and read back over my output, I know it’s better — much closer to the good stuff on bookstore shelves — and I don’t wish to merely write books, but rather to write engaging books.

Also, what doesn’t show here are the successes of fellow authors whom I’ve been happy to cheer on! Congratulations for the debut releases of fellow author friends and the ongoing success of the multi-published. The writing community has been a serendipitous discovery along my journey! I couldn’t ask for better people in my corner.

My current goals for 2014 include:

  • Finish, edit, polish, and query Sharing Hunter, young-adult contemporary with romance
  • Edit, polish, and query Good & Guilty, young-adult mystery
  • Enter at least three RWA contests
  • Attend RWA Conference in San Antonio in July
  • Complete and self-publish 4-6 young adult paranormal short stories
  • Read 50 books
  • Post at least once a week on blog
  • Draft sequel to Good & Guilty

And that’s it: my year in review and looking forward. I hope it didn’t bore you to hear what I’ve been up to. Personally, I often find inspiration in what others have done and are doing.

How was your year? What do you have planned for 2014?

I Wash My Face with Oil & ROW80

Welcome to Scarlet Thread Sunday, the day I share something I’ve learned in the labyrinth of life. I’m on a sort of blogging vacation right now. But I am posting Sunday ROW80 updates, with a brief something first.

Today’s life lesson is about cleaning my face with oil. Yep, you heard me right. When a friend of mine suggested this, I was incredulous. “Oil? You want me to use oil to clean my face?!!” Then I did the research, gave it a try, and discovered that it works. My skin looks and feels better than it did before.

How does this work? Well, it’s a blend of oils–one that moisturizes and one that works as an astringent. I use olive oil and castor oil.

Oil in my hand

You have to experiment with the ratio (mine is 1:1, my friend’s is 3:2). And you have to give it about a week to see the difference. I also don’t do this every night, but about 3-4 times a week. My skin is smoother and healthier, and–believe it or not–I break out less often.

For specifics on how to start, you can check out this article from MindBodyGreen.

ROW80 Update

  • Edit/rewrite SHARING HUNTER, a YA contemporary novel. No more progress.
  • Edit two short stories–one needs a final polish, the other a full edit. Done last week.
  • Read 10 fiction books: The count’s at five: White CatRed Gloveand Black Heart by Holly Black; Firelands by Piper Bayard; and Almost a Scandal by Elizabeth Essex. Now reading Rise of the Machines: Human Authors in a Digital World by Kristen Lamb and re-reading The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams with my son.
  • Finish craft book: Writing Young Adult Fiction for Dummies by Deborah Halverson. (I read the first half last round.) Read two more chapters and typed up a lot of notes from the book.
  • Visit and comment on five ROW80 blog posts per week. Done.
  • Attend at least one RWA meeting. Attended Northwest Houston RWA meeting yesterday, where I listened to a presentation on the secrets of ebook success from Mark Coker, founder of Smashwords.

Have you ever heard of cleaning your face with oil? Have you tried it? And how did your week go?

Blog Vacation Update

Welcome to Scarlet Thread Sunday, the day we enter the labyrinth of life and see what lessons we can learn.

Last Wednesday, I mentioned that I am taking a blog vacation, with the exception of ROW80 updates. Still, I want to share something I’ve learned, so here’s an important truth my humorous uncle taught me while I was growing up.

Image

At least not without getting clobbered right after. Consider yourself warned. 😉

ROW80 Update

  • Edit/rewrite SHARING HUNTER, a YA contemporary novel. No more progress.
  • Edit two short stories–one needs a final polish, the other a full edit. I wasn’t ready to get back into Sharing Hunter, so I got on this one. Done! I even edited a third story.
  • Read 10 fiction books: I’ve knocked out four so far: White CatRed Gloveand Black Heart by Holly Black and Firelands by Piper Bayard.
  • Finish craft book: Writing Young Adult Fiction for Dummies by Deborah Halverson. (I read the first half last round.) Read another chapter.
  • Visit and comment on five ROW80 blog posts per week. Done.
  • Attend at least one RWA meeting. Just waiting for August meetings to arrive.

How did your week go? Have you ever taken a blogging vacation? What vacation plans do you have the rest of the summer?

By the way, I appeared on Catie Rhodes‘s blog last week, writing about my Celebrity Author Playlist for “Color Me Happy,” my young adult short story in the anthology Orange Karen. Check out the post HERE.

What I Suck at and #ROW80

Sometimes a writer will refreshingly admit that a part of the writing life is especially challenging, difficult, seizure-inducing. It could be those first words on a blank page, the unintentional overuse of a particular word, writing a decent query, or any number of to-do’s along the way.

Having written fiction for about four years now, I am not only getting better at writing, but also getting better at recognizing where I suck at writing.

  • Telling, not showing. Hey, let me explain to you how my character feels. Because all of the body language, visceral reactions, and dialogue might not have indicated to the reader that the main character is frustrated. Just in case you missed it, I will make sure to include the word frustrated somewhere in this scene.
  • My favorite word, just. My characters are just going over here, just talking about that, just thinking of new ways to use the word just. Because it’s obviously my favorite word.
  • Chapters. Where should this chapter start? Where should that one end? What’s the natural break? Can I write the whole thing in one run-on chapter? Can I assign a new chapter each page?
  • Directional cues. Did you know that characters must sit down? Stand up? Turn around? Lay down? Because if I simply say “lay,” how will you know they aren’t laying up–like basketball?
  • Dialogue tags. He said, she said isn’t sufficient. My characters like to “chime in,” “murmur,” and even “chirp.” Moreover, how will you know who’s speaking unless I tag almost every line of dialogue with the character’s name or pronoun?
“That is so wrong.”

Yet it really is progress to know where your weaknesses are. Now that I have acknowledged what I suck at, I can correct it. I can change “sit down” to the more appropriate “sit” and eliminate a good third-to-half of justs in my manuscript. I can ask a beta reader where chapter endings make sense and remove adjectives that describe what all of my showing has already demonstrated.

I can get better.

Isn’t that true of anything you do in life? If you know what personality weaknesses you have, you can introduce tools and others to compensate for those. If you figure out where your relationship weaknesses lie, you can address them and improve your relationship. If you know that you always gain weight in your belly, you can use exercises that address your jellylike midsection instead of your perfectly-fine thighs.

Knowing what you suck at doesn’t make you sucky. It makes you smart–at least if you do something about it. Admitting that you have a problem really is the first step toward recovery.

So I will start today by saying, “My name is Julie Glover, and I am a justaholic.” Then, and only then, I can do something about it.

ROW Update

Editing

  • Complete full rewrite of SHARING HUNTER. Still with fabulous Beta reader.
  • Work with editors on short story for Orange Karen Anthology. Traded emails with content editor this week. Now my story goes to the copy editor.
  • Revisit GRACE & FIRE (1st novel) and run through one more round of edits. Made it through 4 1/2  more chapters (up to 18.5). Not as good as last week’s 10 chapters, but moving forward nonetheless.

Writing

  • Write one full short story.
  • Write blog posts for Sundays (including ROW80 updates) and Wednesdays. Done. Posted Words that Begin with F and #ROW80 on Sunday, Professor Punctuation Takes on Quotation Marks on Wednesday, and Changes and Challenges with the New Year on Friday.
  • Start plotting sequel to GRACE & FIRE (working title: HOPE & ASHES). Researching fire, arson, and forensics. If you are squeamish, do NOT read this next part. Skip down. In addition to learning fascinating facts about how fire burns bodies and what remains for scene investigators, I watched a video of cremation this past week; it was interesting, and the techs seemed very respectful of the bodies. (Since I plan to be cremated after my death, I was glad to see what exactly that entails.)

Reading

Non-writing goals

  • Exercise twice a week. Zumba on Monday. LOTS of walking this weekend.
  • Take a true Sabbath–no working and time with God and family one day a week. I did okay with this last week. I took about a half-Sabbath, which was better than I had done before. It is hard to turn off the laptop and the brain.

And that’s it for this week!

So how has your week gone? What do you suck at? How have you worked or plan to work to get better?

Words that Begin with F for 2013 and #ROW80

I teach children’s Bible classes. One year I drafted a curriculum for 9-11 year olds with principles for dealing with the bombardment of inappropriate messages to kids: Foundation, Fortress, Filter, Focus, Friends. While explaining the course to a fellow teacher, I said that I was using F-words for each lesson.

She flinched, and I immediately caught my error. Thenceforth, I made certain at all times to refer to the list as “words that begin with F.”

I had a similar realization when I was thinking about resolutions for the New Year. Several other writers (Kait Nolan and Raelyn Barclay among them) have mentioned adopting a single word as an inspiration for what they hope to achieve in 2013.

The word that appealed to me was FORWARD. I want to keep moving forward with my goals in 2013 and not stagnate (like I did somewhat in 2012).

But other words began to crop up in my head too. Words like FOCUS–keeping my mind, time, and resources on what is most important–and FAMILY–recognizing how few years I really have left with my children at home.

I kept going with the letter F theme, and here is my list of “Words that Begin with F” for 2013.

FORWARD. No looking back. No standing still. Keep moving forward.

FOCUS. No caving to distractions. No time-suck on details. Stay focused on what matters.

FAMILY. Spend more time with my fabulous family.

FAITH. Invest more time in Bible study and prayer. God has done so much for me. I want to know Him better.

FICTION. Write, write, write. Edit, edit, edit. Publish, publish,… You get the point.

FIT. Get healthy. Eat better. Exercise regularly. Drink more water. Sure I’m not 20 anymore, but I want to be healthy in my 40+ years.

FORTY. Check off “bucket list” activities. A few years back, I made a 40 After 40 List with forty items to accomplish in my life after I hit that big 4-0. I have let that list languish. It’s time to go back to my 40 items and start living out what I want to do.

And finally, here’s a phrase beginning with F: Fess Up. Yes, it’s time to fess up on how I did with A Round of Words in 80 Days this past week.

ROW Update

Editing

  • Complete full rewrite of SHARING HUNTER. In the hands of a Beta reader.
  • Work with editors on short story for Orange Karen Anthology. Waiting for the call.
  • Revisit GRACE & FIRE (1st novel) and run through one more round of edits. Made it through 10 chapters, so I’m up to chapter 14 of 29.

Writing

  • Write one full short story.
  • Write blog posts for Sundays (including ROW80 updates) and Wednesdays. Done. Posted on Christmas Gifts and #ROW80 on Sunday, If Da Vinci Tweeted on Wednesday, and Bond-ing with the Family on Friday.
  • Start plotting sequel to GRACE & FIRE (working title: HOPE & ASHES). Researching fire, arson, and–saddens my heart–burned bodies.

Reading

Non-writing goals

  • Exercise twice a week. Zumba on Monday and Thursday.
  • Take a true Sabbath–no working and time with God and family one day a week. You won’t see me today online. I’ll be back in full swing on Monday.

What would be your word for 2013? Do you have any other great words that begin with F to add to my list?

Make sure you cheer on my fellow ROWers! You can find them HERE.