Goal-setting for Writing

  • Create a To-Do list (prioritize your top three projects)

  • Create SMART goals: (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, time-able)

  • Choose a genre (mystery, romance, fantasy, sci-fi)
  • Choose an age-group/target audience (middle grade, YA, adult)
  • Choose a title
  • Choose a theme
  • Choose POV perspective (omniscient, 1st person, 3rd person)
  • Define main character
  • Define main conflict
  • Describe the ending
  • Describe the opening scene
  • Research your topic, write down future research questions that might come up
  • Outline Plot: 1) Opening scene 2) Inciting event 3)External Goal 4)Display of Flaw 5) Drive for Goal–“Answering the Call” 6) Thwart #1 7) Revisiting the Flaw 8) New drive for Goal 9) Antagonist Attacks 10) Thwart #2 11) Changed Goal 12) Ally Attacks 13) Girding the Loins 14) The Battle 15) Death 16) Outcome 
  • Create deadlines for completion:

  • Set a Timeline–Example: Monday–write Chapter one, scene 1, Tuesday–write Chapter one, scene 2, Wednesday–write Chapter two, scene 1, Thursday–write Chapter two, scene 2, Friday–write Chapter three, scene 1, Saturday–write Chapter three, scene 2, etc.
  • February: Revise and Edit 1st draft
  • March: Check for consistency of names, dates, facts
  • April: Revise and Edit 2nd draft (line edits) for punctuation, wordiness, redundancy, adverbs, voice tags, concise and succinct phrasing; cut unnecessary and extraneous details
  • May 1st: Write one-page synopsis
  • May 2nd: Write One-sentence pitch
  • May 3rd: Research similar works to this project, plus their agents/publishers
  • May 4th: Write Query letter
  • May 5th: Query/Submit manuscript

What I Learned From Dogs

For the past nine days I’ve been in training on how to do life. My life-coach was a dog.

I volunteered to dog-sit without knowing how this opportunity might change my life. Little did I know, the experience would revolutionize my own personal productiveness and overall fitness. This Bootcamp training ordeal happened to also coincide with my husband’s new schedule, so I found myself getting up earlier than I’d ever done before–something that added to the “brand new me” package. The dog, a German Shepherd pure-bred named Sami, taught me more than I taught her, proving the truth in that old maxim: you can teach an old human new tricks.

  • Bounce out of bed before sunrise, hit the ground running
  • Go for a long walk before anyone else is up, get your blood pumping, enjoy the sunrise and quiet splendor of the dawn
  • Take frequent breaks throughout the day with a change of scenery
  • Exercise not only revives the body, but also the spirit
  • Plan ahead, but be flexible about changing to “Plan B” if necessary
  • There is much beauty in the world but you must sometimes search for it, go out of your way to find it, sacrifice by getting out of your comfort zone to meet it where it resides
  • The best pleasures in life are free
  • Being in Nature reconnects us to Spirit
  • Cold, snow, ice are minor inconveniences, compared to the crystal clear majesty of nature clothed in winter
  • “Playtime” is vital to full health

Planning my “Ideal” day

Ok, folks. This is mostly for me, sorry but I’m working on not letting other people’s opinion dictate what I do or don’t do during my day. So if I ramble or seem disconnected I hope you’ll pardon my chaos. I’m merely allowing total strangers to follow me around in my slippers before I’ve had any coffee (and even before make-up) so that should be reward enough. Hopefully, if you’re also an aspiring writer (who isn’t privileged enough to have access to Hermione’s time-turner) you might still find some valuable suggestions for your own chaotic day-planning. My own goal is to try to regiment myself so that by the end of the day I’ve actually accomplished something I’m proud of, rather than having spent all day surfing social media sites and eating chocolate.

5:15am Get up, pack light breakfast and lunch (and water bottle), make hot water for tea

5:35am Leave house with laptop, book, lunch, water bottle, hot tea

5:45am Breakfast at coffee shop, add to blog, organize and review notes, Create one Specific Goal for Today (based on over-arching goal) or define over-arching goal:

Example: Start a new book

Outline new middle-grade novel based on a private-eye who also happens to be a weasel who lives in space


Example: Specific Goal for Today

Edit first draft, chapter one, scene one and two

7:00am Walk, run 20 minutes (open-space, lake, park) or Yoga (basement or studio)

8:00am WIP at coffee shop (or wherever I concentrate best)

12:00pm Lunch

1:00pm Break for “day job”

3:00pm collect mail, run errands, time with hubby

5:00pm dinner, laundry, chores, shopping

7:00pm Yoga, running, exercise

9:00pm Ready for bed, read, lights-out

Note* This schedule affords me the structure to accomplish my goals of exercise, breaks, interaction with family, writing time, planning time, adequate sleep, all of which are important to my overall goals of achieving a balanced life as a writer! Stay tuned tomorrow for the specifics about how I outline, organize, and execute my S.M.A.R.T. goals every day….

100 Horrible Ideas, part 3

67) Caterpillars infest all the drainpipes in the house

68) Rolling in the grass causes third-degree burns

69) Swinging on playground equipment causes a time-warp

70) A skipped rock bounces off the water and hits a guy in the forehead, causing amnesia

71) The antagonist is a maniacal painter who paints people into portraits, imprisoning their souls forever

72) Sidekick puts on face paint and it becomes permanent

73) Collecting shiny rocks on the beach causes a curse by the Monster of the Rocks (who wants his treasure back)

74) Playing with Legos causes kids to get stuck in a gigantic Lego house

75) Roly Polys grow to gigantic proportions and cause havoc in NYC

76) Playing a board game causes real-life effects to the weather: blizzard, hail, tsunamis, tornados, hurricanes

77) A snow angel comes to life as the evil (negative) side of a child’s personality

78) Sidekick tells jokes that are not funny but they cause all adults to become hysterical with laughter

79) A kid makes goofy faces and their face freezes that way for a week

80) Playdoh creatures come to life and try to take over the city

81) Sidekick climbs a tree to escape the villain, only to realize the tree is one of the villian’s evil minions

82) A sweet kitty cat turns into a tiger every night and prowls the bedroom

83) MC talks to his pet goldfish and it starts talking back–about his sister’s secrets

84) A bubble bath turns into a dangerous situation when a kid gets trapped in a giant soap bubble

85) The only way to escape a haunted funhouse is to sing silly songs

86) Kids have a contest on who can make up the silliest word, then create their own dictionary

87) Catching fireflies has dangerous consequences when some kids accidentally capture a fairy

88) An enchanted frog caught in a bucket grants three wishes

89) Two kids go exploring near a condemned building and uncover a secret underground city

90) Three friends form a spy club, only to be mistaken for actual government agents

91) Two kids camping in the backyard are abducted by aliens

92) A kid who loves practical jokes accidentally pranks a horrible, cranky troll

93) Telling the biggest and worst insult backfires when it comes true and turns into a curse on a kid’s best friend

94) An evil witch throws cockleburs which grow to the size of tumbleweeds–with razor-sharp barbs

95) Playing hopscotch may have deadly consequences for two kids trying to outwit an evil warlock

96) Giants shooting huge Nerf guns threaten to take out the neighborhood

97) The creek begins to rise and floods the basement where two kids are trapped

98) All food must be used as artwork, before being consumed

99) Sidewalk chalk art comes to life and follows a kid to school

100) Two warlock kids counter a game of “guess who” with “twenty questions” trying to trick an evil villain into letting them go.

100 Horrible Ideas, Day 2

Here’s the next installment of “100 Horrible Ideas”:

36) The only edible foods in the world are orange, everything else is poisoned

37) The planet Earth is cold, governed by 10 moons, no sun.

38) All children are slaves until age 12 when they turn into workers, drones or queens

39) The only fairy tale creatures who really exist are the villains

40) “Daymares” are just as scary for kids, but only happen during the day–on their birthday

41) A plague takes over the planet, spread by butterflies

42) All school lockers come equipt with shower nozzles, water, shampoo and privacy curtains

43) School lunches in the cafeteria are always babyfood items: creamed peas, pureed spaghetti and meatballs, mashed green beans and blended beets with carrots compote

44) Every time you go to bed your lights turn on and loud music begins to play

45) All the adults go crazy and start acting like kids

46) MC sneezes uncontrollably whenever she sees a boy she likes

47) Aliens leave all their babies here on Earth, as if they think our planet is a giant playpen/daycare

48) MC meets her younger self and gives herself terrible advice, in hopes of influencing her own future

49) All children are forced to wear armor to school, due to concerns for their safety

50) A strange epidemic sweeps the country, causing children’s hair to turn strange colors

51) 10 Modern-day plagues create chaos in downtown Denver, due to some kind of re-opening of the ancient Ark of the Covenant:

*cell phones go dead; internet is only usable between 2am and 3am; sugar turns into sand (and everything made with sugar); everyone goes deaf on Mondays; everyone goes blind on Tuesdays; everyone finds their dominant hand is paralyzed on Wednesdays; no cars or vehicles will run on Thursdays; no one can speak out loud on Fridays; everyone gets the flu on Saturdays; spiders infest all water sources; all children who aren’t potty- trained age 60 years

52) Kangaroos become nanny’s and babysit all children in a daycare

53) All plants learn how to hum and start trying to communicate with humans

54) The only pets people own are reptiles

55) MCs uncle turns out to be an ogre with hairy toes, deadly gas, and body odor

56) Everyone in the world learns how to mind-read, but only angry thoughts

57) Scientists train monkeys to take notes for students but add in one false answer for every 9 correct answers

58) Robots replace all human daycare workers and teachers

59) All children must learn “anti-gravity” skills in gym class, due to a terrible space accident that has caused earth’s gravity to lessen

60) A kid gets three wishes and turns every water source on the planet into Koolaid, every meal into french fries and every day into his birthday

61) For one whole day, everything runs backward

62) MC princess wakes up one morning and commands the entire kingdom to be painted pink

63) On Leap Day of Leap Year, Frogs carry away a baby and raise her to be their Frog Queen

64) In a remote village, the inhabitants write everything down on slices of bologna, then eat the pages in order to pass on knowledge.

65) “Safety Police” patrol the planet, searching for violators of the “Safety Code”

66) A strange disease causes sleeplessness for the entire planet–for a week


100 Horrible Ideas

Good Morning, everybody! I needed a boost to my creativity and found an article that suggested writing down one hundred horrible ideas. I thought that kind of brainstorming might actually help me, because…well, I’m just that kind of person who needs permission to write horrible, in order to stumble upon that one beautiful gem in the mix that will resonate with readers. I’m looking for the “Eureka!” moment, when something I’ve jotted down will actually sound mildly wise and poetic. (Or at least earn me a paycheck). Obviously, ninety-nine ideas will suck. You can be the judge of which one is the “diamond.” I’ve started with the first 35 here. I will add more tomorrow! Feel free to add some horrible ideas of your own down in the comment section below.

Here goes:

  1. MC (the main character) gets attacked by sea slugs
  2. Sidekick gets mauled by wild potato bugs
  3. The antagonist is actually a long-distant relative of MC
  4. Oranges rain down from the sky and kill half the population
  5. Purple ponies show up to save the day
  6. Flying monkeys tell jokes to the prisoners until everyone falls asleep
  7. The cucumbers sprout arms and legs and take over the kitchen
  8. Everyone in the place is ordered to go on a diet
  9. The “love interest” is actually a hairy troll
  10. All the toilets overflow and cause dysentery
  11. Cockroaches grow to be the size of elephants and make everyone into slaves
  12. All the water in the place turns green and grows slime
  13. Art of War class is replaced by Arts & Crafts class
  14. An ugly troll is assigned to kitchen duty, creating inedible menu options
  15. The doctor has a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde personality
  16. Weird things happen around the place, due to a “disturbance in the Force”
  17. The MC gets abducted by aliens and returns as an old geezer
  18. The planet gets hit by a meteorite, plunging the world into an ice age
  19. Sidekick gets stuck inside a suit of armor
  20. Food shortage requires everyone to eat only Brussel sprouts, lima beans and prunes
  21. Pigs learn to talk and start ordering everyone around
  22. Everyone starts talking in numerical symbols, rather than words
  23. MC wakes up from a nap to find he can only see the color green
  24. Sentient worms emerge as oracles every Easter Sunday
  25. Every book in the world is banned, along with reading
  26. Every room in the house shrinks by the hour
  27. The government thinks MC is an enemy spy–for raccoons
  28. Sidekick is allergic to pickle juice
  29. The world somehow gets turned into an old folks’ home
  30. MC suddenly has cravings for foods she hates
  31. Wise old wizard is actually a frog who likes flies
  32. Everyone must walk backward for a day, or be eaten by leeches
  33. Everything MC eats tastes moldy
  34. Birthdays must be mourned, ridiculed or cursed with floggings, hazings, eggings and public apologies
  35. Holidays are never joyful, only moments of dread and despair

Overcoming Food Addictions

I struggle with eating healthy, especially around the holidays. But if I’m honest, my war isn’t with food. After all, I know I need food to live. My battle is most often in my own head.

These are just a few things I’m planning to do each day, to overcome my war with food:

  1. Enjoy berries, apples, oranges, as a treat (they’re so decadent!)
  2. Enjoy the fresh, energetic feeling of eating healthy
  3. Avoid gluten products (gluten products seem to cause a toxic reaction in my system, weight gain, hunger, elevated blood sugar, cravings)
  4. Fasting (intermittently) after 2:30pm results in a wonderful “light” feeling
  5. Weight loss is easy and inevitable when eating low-carb
  6. Healthy foods are delicious
  7. Low-carb is easy and maintenance is just a matter of eating healthy
  8. Sugary sweets aren’t always as delicious as I think they’ll be. (the sickly sweetness often disappoints)

What are some things you’ve noticed about eating healthy? Do you struggle like me? Have you learned any tricks to overcome your own food addictions? Please share in the comments below!