Assessing Goals, New and Old

keep-calm-and-set-new-goals-257x300[1]This year hasn’t gone by quickly for me, although it has been eventful. I had two main goals in 2018 and neither of them had to do with writing. One was to finally move my mother into assisted living (the decision involved many discussions and was both physically and emotionally draining). The other was to sell Mom’s condo (which required lots of repair). The first goal was achieved on July 29, the second on Nov.  2nd.

Rather than wait for the new year to begin, I’m starting to think about new goals. I’m a big believer in goal setting. It’s the difference between getting something done and plodding along, leaving heaps of half-finished novels in piles.

I do have a number of big, ongoing writing goals that started a few years back. A few of those goals have been met while others are still in the works. Each year I edge a little closer to the finish line.

I probably won’t meet my reading goal of fifty novels this year. I just finished number forty, but I’m not sure I can read ten more books over the next two months. I’d also planned to get the sixth Casey Holland Mystery, The Blade Man, ready for my editor, but I’m behind schedule there as well. I’m just finishing draft #7 and while the book’s much better than it was with draft #6, I need another read-through before handing it over.

There are other writing projects that are not as far along as I hoped, but as you can imagine, real life family issues took priority and will take priority again as my mother’s health slowly declines. So, do I continue to make writing goals? You bet. I’d rather try and fail than not try at all.

The thing about goals is that they can be adjusted, and time limits aren’t always necessary or helpful. The point is to have at least one that matters, so I’m going to be realistic, as I decide which writing and household projects to spend time on over the coming months. Before this year is over, I just might have new goals ready to go for 2019.

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MIA: A Title For My Next Novel

leather-book-preview[1]I’m working on the sixth draft of my current Casey Holland mystery. The book’s coming along nicely, except that I haven’t yet found the right title. Titles used to come easily for me, but for some reason the more books I write, the harder it gets.

The sixth installment in the series has Casey’s employer, Mainland Public Transport, (Casey’s a female security officer) under siege by an arsonist. Two of the company’s bus drivers have also been attacked by an unknown assailant who’s been attacking others in the same area of Coquitlam BC. Meanwhile, local thugs hold a grudge after an ugly confrontation with Casey and a driver during a riot. This isn’t the book blurb,  just my thoughts about will eventually be a blurb.

One of the ongoing themes is anger, the way it permeates the workplace, the public, and one’s personal life. Another part has to deal with mental illness issues that drivers in real life face from the public nearly every day.

There’s a lot of action and drama, which should make finding a title easier, yes? I’ve been compiling a list of key words and trying mind mapping, but so far nothing’s working. The title, Under Siege, aptly describes the plot and subplot, but it’s been used in movies and books many times before. So, if anyone has some great tips on coming up with a title, please let me know!

When You Find a Good How-To Book

Manuscript MakeoverIn my quest to read more nonfiction and improve my writing skills, I picked up a book that was recommended to me several years ago. It was a good decision. Manuscript Makeover by Elizabeth Lyon is one of the best how-to books on editing I’ve read in a while.

One of the great things I’ve found about how-to books is that they trigger ideas for improving my plots, characters, settings, and so forth. It happened several times throughout this book, which has caused me to go back and make key changes to the second draft of the urban fantasy I’m working on.

Now I find myself with three sets of notes to type up. One for the book review I’ll post. The second is a quick summary of editing tips I specifically need to address in all of my manuscripts. The third is to incorporate all of those notes I scribbled down about the urban fantasy.

The last section is entitled ‘Marketing’, but it’s not about promoting and increasing visibility. It’s about properly preparing your manuscript to submit to publishers. Lyon offers some really great tips on writing query letters and a synopsis. If you’re a fiction writer, I strongly encourage you to read this book. With any luck, new ideas will spring up for your work.