Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Writing Goals for 2015

I have a couple things this year in “Dependent” status that might change OTHER plans depending on what happens. I will do my best to double plan so I can be adaptive...

First Quarter

IN my control:

January I will do two more rounds of revision on Also Appearing for ABNA and then enter.

January/February I will read Kahlotus Disposal Site and Medium Wrong, then revise the one I am closes to happy with for Querying.

And in March I plan to write a mystery... WHICH mystery depends on...

Somewhat out of my control: What Ales Me is with Ellen. If she LIKES it, hopefully she can sell it (meaning a focus on this series all year). If she DOESN'T like it, I think it is still good enough to query. My agreement with Ellen is project by project and I like working with her, but she will do the best job for me if she really likes it. Most of her suggestions last time she saw it I totally agreed with, but I will have to see if I managed the tweaks where I didn't agree with her (my approach is to generally think I didn't get what I meant across right so I need to do a better job rather than to make it something I didn't mean in the first place... usually it works, not always).

IFF I sell it, I will write the 2nd in March (March Madness). If I DONT sell it, I will write my 2nd Corset Cop one, strictly because I have one for THAT already started)

Historic postcard from Lake Chatcolet
Second Quarter

April and May will again be revision months, one for a YA, one for the first Corset Cop (unless I have requested revisions for What Ales Me or the YA I submitted in February). Then June, as usual (as it is BuNoWriMo, I will write a book... I have a YA I've been thinking about for a long time and really want to get to called Summer Bones—it is part of my Chatcolet series, of which Also Appearing is the first—they are standalone novels, but connected by location—the lake and small communities nearby where I spent much of my growing up. This one is a bit of a prank gone wrong/bullying tale. BUT if I've sold What Ales Me, I MAY be in a position of needing to write one from that series (the 3rd).

Third Quarter...

July and August tend to be months I reserve for winding stuff up that needs doing. If I've sold the Artful Ales series, it will be a polish time there—getting book 2 really totally ready. If I haven't (or my timing is farther out) I may invest it to make progress on either Undoing or Endangered—both of these are huge projects and both need a lot of work still. Undoing is 3 books in three acts and I've written 2 of the 9 total acts. Endangered I am closer to half done but have done a lot of reconceiving. I may structure it more like I did A Shot in the Light—as written I rotate 4 PoVs but the action doesn't distribute that nicely, so I need to restructure.

September will hopefully be a polish/submit time... (TBD--maybe first Corset Cop)

Fourth Quarter:
October a revision TBD.
November write a mystery for NaNoWriMo
December pick my ABNA book and work on revisions for THAT...

Hopefully there is enough flexibility built in here that I can manage... It is a total of 3 new books, polishing and querying 2 and major edits on 2, plus progress on a big project...

Ready, set... GOOOO!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The Non-Writing Goals for 2015


Know what I've realized? I haven't been truly fit since I started writing. Don't worry. It's not you, it's me... and what I mean by that is I am capable of total and utter obsession, but with a limited number of things. And fitness, to my poor addled brain, requires this obsession. I've never been able to do it unless it is the THING I am doing.

This has to change and I know I need to figure out how, but in the short run, I think I really need to allow the obsession in January so I can get some habits formed. I followed Weight Watchers SO CAREFULLY and SO SPECIFICALLY in September and October and lost a grand total of two pounds. That is a lot of work for a whole lotta nothin... I'm thinking this time around I need to do something I've thought was taboo since I was about 16. I need to get drastic. I'm thinking I will start with a cleanse. I've never done one, but hey, why not? I will look for one that is said to be a nice metabolism re-set.

The other trick I plan to mix into following low-end Weight Watcher points is NO REFINED... no white flour or sugar, no highly processed anything, no fake sugars (really the only sugar source I''m going to permit is fruit and the bit of brown sugar I can't skip on my oatmeal). I think the chemistry ban may help... a bit caveman-ish, but NOT skipping the fruit. Anyone who tells you cavemen didn't eat fruit doesn't understand hunter/gatherer culture. I DO get though, how carbs can prime you for hunger, so I think I may segregate fruit to the early hours of the day (fruit and carbs before noon, none after? Still working on this)

The final eating trick I learned from my friend Leslie... mini-fasts, she called them... confining all food to an 8-hour period. Our bodies, biologically, expect feast famine cycles and work most efficiently this way, so I intend to eat all my food between 10 AM and 6 PM...

Part of that trick ALSO wants you to exercise while your body is depleted to burn of the last of the prior day's food, but walking to work sets me up for this—though I will need to add something weekends.

The gym is also going to make a reappearance. Hell, I'm paying for it already and haven't been since October... And that Flex and Strengthen thing... I need to work it in... I will spend some time New Year's Day hammering this out...

The Day Job:

I know I grumble about this because it interferes with my writing, but I honestly consider what I do very important. I do research geared at reducing health disparities and making my med school and health system a more equitable and welcoming place to work and study for people of all backgrounds. It is stuff that matters.

And I've struggled since our office became this big behemoth. I went from being the single researcher for a physician with disparities interests to being part of a 20-person team with a cubicle. I am an introvert who needs to dive into my tunnel to be productive and I feel like I've really fallen down on this, so this year I pledge to work out a system whereby I can be more productive at this important work—productive enough by day that I can leave it at the office, which is something I've struggled with this year.

My cousins and our families rafting this summer

Some of this has to do with HWMNBMOTI so does not belong online... suffice it to say we've talked and have a plan that I am committed to. The other is my kids. At 19 and 16 they often seem to not need me, but I feel like my daughter has spun her wheels a bit this year and needs some help finding traction and my son is just entering the 'get that application ready for college' part of his life, so they deserve my diligence.


Remember my pledge for one book a month by a blog buddy? If NOT, you can join this, TOO. It is HERE. I really encourage you to--it is a great way to be mutually supportive. I ALSO intend to read a classic every month. And then a third book (when the classic isn't super long) that falls into the genres I try to write in so I can keep up a bit. Three books a month seems about right for my reading speed when I consider I also read a book of my own most months as part of the editing process...


Man, has my blogging commitment fallen off. Part of this is the stress of that reciprocity that I KNEW with the day job I couldn't do as well. And I think that is right. I really can't keep up several days a week if I intend to do it right. So I think my plan is this: Twice a week, plus a guest here and there (maybe twice a month). Monday and Thursday seems to make the most sense (except the first week of the month where Insecure Writer Support Group would move me by a day). That gives me three days to do my reciprocity attempt, eh? That is the part I really need to be diligent about—visiting a few (6-10) blogs EVERY day instead of just the days I blog. I should probably clean up my blog roll, too, to better reflect who is still visiting ME regularly so I see your new stuff as it goes up and not just when I am “back-visiting”


This is the trickiest part and I know it. I am STILL suffering burn-out from that serial and the shifts at work. I haven't found my balance yet, but by-golly, I MUST. For me this means getting a bit rigid about a schedule for a while, I think. I can't seem to fit it all in if I haven't given it a place. Everything takes more time than it seems like it should, unless I've set the timer and said “it only gets this today”... So January I am going to SCHEDULE my balance, tweak that schedule in February, and hopefully by March I will have fallen into it more naturally.


Monday, December 29, 2014

I Did WHAT? An Assessment of my 2014 Goals

The first thing I note in this supposed PLAN of mine is how pathetically unplanned it was compared to prior years. Maybe THIS is why I felt like my wheels spun much of the year. If anyone is curious, they are here, assessment of 2013 and plans for 2014 all in one...

Well... even before Christmas, really...
So how did I DO?

Fitness plans? I SUCKED. I had a bad year on that front. I really tried twice, but I have reached that age where I need to really REALLY try and maybe get a bit of formal help. I will call this a big fat fail. And I mean that literally. Okay, maybe a D. And I am only not failing myself totally because I DID have about 4 months of real effort in there... It just didn't help. At all.

Family Stuff... hmmm... it went okay, not fabulous, but not horrible... I will give this a B.

Reading: I read 22 out of 26 letters for my goal with Escape with Dollycas... I got sidetracked with rereading Song of Ice and Fire and Harry Potter, which I do occasionally, and there are some letters with very few books (I was missing Q, X, Y and Z)—here at the end the Library failed me on a couple. My Q book never came in. Had I been more diligent up front I would have made it, but I left the hard letters to the end and I just couldn't quite pull it out. I DID read probably 30 books (in addition to all the rereads of my own as part of editing rounds) but there were letters missing from the goal. I give it a B-.''

And the Writing...

The real trouble is building the darned boat...
A Shot in the Light ALL got out and is finally into anthologies, too (final paperback pending), but I have NOT gotten it into other formats and forums as planned (Nook, iTunes, Kobo). I am still just on CreateSpace and Amazon. That is sort of a failure, but I am looking at it more as a lesson learned. As a full time worker I just don't have time for all this formatting and editing stuff. I don't think I was meant to self publish... so this little detour for me was like doing 30 credits then changing majors. I am wiser and more rounded for it... it wasn't a WASTE of time, but I have sorted my priorities and think that isn't the track for me. At least not at this time.

That detour cost me in terms of some of my other goals, too. The one that I regret is not putting in the time I needed for releasing Keeping Mum. I have not been invited for a fourth in my series and I suspect it is because I have not been the go-getter marketer they needed me to be. Reviews for it were the best of all the books, but I just couldn't seem to do all the things to create the buzz and get more reviews and I suspect that was because I was trying to do too much (and substantially burned out).

In addition to finishing A Shot in the Light this year I wrote about 2/3 of the first book in my Undoing series and the first in the Corset Cop Series: Teddy Trouble. Both are very first drafty. I revised What Ales Me substantially and Ellen has it once again. And I am almost done with first revisions of Also Appearing which will be my ABNA Entry this year.

I am not sure how to grade my writing year... I did a lot of work, but a lot of it was maybe in the wrong direction and caused distractions to what is going to progress my career. I'd probably give it a B because those were lessons I needed to learn, but I consider the year a bit of a setback on my path.

The next few days I will work out my goals for 2015... Probably non-writing tomorrow and writing on Wednesday.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

12th Day of Christmas

On the 12th Day of Christmas the Tart's true wish for you is 12 Warm Emotions
11 Christmas Presents
10 Quiet Minutes
9 Aches from Laughing
8 Resolutions
7 Nice surprises
6 Inspirations
5 Brand New Books!
4 Old Connections
3 Second helpings
2 Christmas parties
And the patience to shop and stay sane!

WHICH 12 emotions, you ask? Compassion, generosity, tolerance, forgiveness, gratitude, wonder, perseverance, strength, openness, joy, inclusiveness, and love. I wish for you to be on the giving and receiving end of all of these this year. Wishing you and yours a very happy Christmas.

I will see all of you next week for a review of 2014 goals and my resolutions for 2015!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

11th Day of Christmas

On the 11th day of Christmas, the Tart's true wish for you is... 11 Christmas Presents
10 Quiet Minutes
9 Aches from Laughing
8 Resolutions
7 Nice surprises
6 Inspirations
5 Brand New Books!
4 Old Connections
3 Second helpings
2 Christmas parties
And the patience to shop and stay sane!

Somehow 11 seems a nice balance between not enough and excess, yes?

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Christmas Eve Eve and the 10th Day of Christmas

So historically, this is actually my favorite day... it is the same theory as Thursday... it's all about anticipation... I love ALMOST being on the verge... if you will. Tomorrow it is really on top of us, but TODAY, it is only ALMOST here. I love almost.

This peak of anticipation might be confounded by a family “23rd” thing... My family of origin has a lot of birth dates now, but when I was little, it seemed like most of us had birthdays on the 23rd of SOMETHING. (me included) So ANYWAY, happy Christmas Eve Eve, and Happy Anticipating!!!

It is ALSO the 10th Day of Christmas... and so...

On the 10th Day of Christmas, the Tart's true wish for you is, 10 Quiet Minutes
9 Aches from Laughing
8 Resolutions
7 Nice surprises
6 Inspirations
5 Brand New Books!
4 Old Connections
3 Second helpings
2 Christmas parties
And the patience to shop and stay sane!

This wish comes from the Christmas chaos. Crowds. Shopping. Parties. I hope you get in a little down time so you don't burn out and can still enjoy your holidays.

Monday, December 22, 2014

9th Day of Christmas

On the 9th Day of Christmas the Tart's true wish for you, is 9 Aches from Laughing
8 Resolutions
7 Nice surprises
6 Inspirations
5 Brand New Books!
4 Old Connections
3 Second helpings
2 Christmas parties
And the patience to shop and stay sane!

This is self explanatory. I want you to laugh so hard that it makes your belly ache. We all need a good laugh. Often.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

8th Day of Christmas

On the 8th Day of Christmas the Tart's true wish for you is 8 Resolutions
7 Nice surprises
6 Inspirations
5 Brand New Books!
4 Old Connections
3 Second helpings
2 Christmas parties
And the patience to shop and stay sane!

Say what? You say.... Well I figure 8 is about the right number of goals to hit for the year. Maybe three writing or professional goals, three self-improvement habity things, and two interpersonal... or something like that. And I am wishing for you not just to make them, but to manage them. MEET those resolutions, friends!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

7th Day of Christmas

On the 7th day of Christmas the Tart's true wish for you, is 7 Nice surprises
6 Inspirations
5 Brand New Books!
4 Old Connections
3 Second helpings
2 Christmas parties
And the patience to shop and stay sane!

Why 7 surprises? Lemme esplain. No... is too much. Lemme sum up...

Surprises raise the heart rate and force us to adapt, no matter how small the way... this is something that, even in the case of GOOD surprises can end up hard on your health. If you are a person who likes LOTS of surprises, then more power to you, but I think most of us just want a moderate number, and PLEASE, let those be of the positive sort...

Friday, December 19, 2014

6th Day of Christmas

On the 6th Day of Christmas the Tart's true wish for you, is 6 Inspirations
5 Brand New Books!
4 Old Connections
3 Second helpings
2 Christmas parties
And the patience to shop and stay sane!

Why 6 inspirations? Because if inspiration was an everyday thing it would become the ordinary. The expected. I mean those grand inspirations that make us feel like demi-gods. INSPIRATION. I figure about every other month is the pace at which we could experience this and still have it be extraordinary...

Besides, if it happened to often, we'd all be sleep deprived...

Thursday, December 18, 2014

5th Day of Christmas

Possibly too many books
On the 5th day of Christmas the Tart's True wish for you, is 5 Brand New Books!
4 Old Connections
3 Second helpings
2 Christmas parties
And the patience to shop and stay sane!

Nobody needs to ask why books. What would just be a silly question. But maybe I should explain why 5... See, I LOVE books. But I know over the course of the year I will learn of NEW books I want to read. So I don't want a pile larger than about 5 new ones NOW or I will feel like I can't add new titles later...

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

4th Day of Christmas

Hug your loved ones!
On the 4th Day of Christmas the Tart's True wish for you is 4 Old Connections
3 Second helpings
2 Christmas parties
And the patience to shop and stay sane!

Why old connections, you ask? I love the holidays for a few reunions. Whether you get back to your home town and see an old friend, or talk to family you haven't talked to for ages, the holidays are a wonderful time for this. And a much less sad time to do it than say, a funeral or something. So reach out to someone you haven't talked to for too long.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

3rd Day of Christmas

On the 3rd Day of Christmas the Tart's true wish for you is 3 Second helpings
2 Christmas parties
And the patience to shop and stay sane!

I say this because Christmas is a time it is SO HARD to find moderation... And I find if I am in total denial of all the extra stuff I just feel... either self righteous but food obsessed or resentful and crabby. So I am wishing for you the ability to splurge A LITTLE, but not so much you regret it...

Monday, December 15, 2014

2nd Day of Christmas and News

On the 2nd Day of Christmas the Tart's true wish for you is 2 Christmas parties
And the patience to shop and stay sane!

Why two parties you ask...

Because a lot of parties ends up a stressful madhouse and none seems like you miss the mood of the season. Two to me seems just right—one with coworkers, maybe, and another with family and friends.

(each day I will say WHY for the new ones, in case you are interested in checking out the why for any already on the list...

A wee bit of NEWS

A Shot in the Light: The bundled set is available. It is value-priced—half what the 12 separate issues would have been and $3 less than the trilogy purchased separately, so if anyone is interested and has faith to get the full thing all at once...

If you are interested in the paperbacks, they are COMING... I have wee things to fix on the 2nd and 3rd, but hopefully by the end of the week...

Sunday, December 14, 2014

1st Day of Christmas

On the first day of Christmas the Tart's True wish for you is the patience to shop and stay sane!

I am going to post a Christmas wish for you every day until Christmas, but I will keep it short and sweet (a drabble worth or less for the wishes). I DO however, have additional blog content on a few days (my normal Mondays and a couple others) just so we all know what's going on around here.

Nope. Nope. Nope. NOT my favorite thing.
Why patience?

Have you BEEN shopping? Crowds can bring out the worst in people, but for us, people with stories in our head, if you can step back and look at all this as content opportunity: character, plot, human interaction, I think it is easier to keep our own emotional responses in the positive range. No, it's no fun to wait in line, but imagine full lives for the people around you and it can suddenly be very interesting. Almost enjoyable.

Monday, December 8, 2014

The Lost Art of Anticipation

We have FINALLY reached the time of year where I can get excited about Christmas. I have a couple friends—my Couch to Keg buddies—who are all into all that early crap. I give them a bad time as they start to get all excited around Halloween. Christmas stuff before December tends to just make me Scroogish. And here is why...

Know how Thursday is my favorite day? I actually enjoy my weekends best, but the BEST part is anticipating all that POTENTIAL fabulousity from BEFORE hand. On THURSDAY, the weekend could hold ANYTHING. It is all-encompassing wonder.

Well see, December leading up to Christmas is like that, but all these nuts are like... getting giddy for the weekend on Tuesday and there is SO MUCH STUFF to do between now and then... It makes all the WAITING harder if there is more of it.

I have a theory...

My buddy Jackie ALSO likes spoilers—she wants to know what is going to happen before it happens. The stuff associated with opening your packages and re-wrapping them in my mind, but it is just how she is. Me, if I know AHEAD it makes the actual experience less sweet... I am back to that POTENTIAL thing... I LOVE potential. These non-anticipators go to the last page of books and they peek when someone says “close your eyes”. I think there may be some fear at the element of surprise.

But now that I am in the holiday spirit, I wanted to share a couple things that are making me happy...


I ordered their Christmas CD and they are amazing. I fell in love with them last year with their rendition of Little Drummer Boy. These guys won Sing Off in 2012—5 people acapella. From the CD I particularly love their Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy and their original Mary, Did You Know. I've really enjoyed listening to these guys a lot.

Pretty Lights

I'm a bit of a nut for sparkly and Christmas Lights fit right in there—I love when all the lights are up.

And I love that stuff like this happens
A Couple Neighborhood Fun Events

We have, as a neighborhood, a caroling night that is a blast—we wander en masse and sing a song for people who are at home. Typically we carry a mug of spiked cocoa or something. We ALSO have a Winter Solstice Party we attend, and a Karaoke party...

How about all of you? Have you mastered anticipation enough to HOLD OFF on celebrating, or do you jump in as soon as possible because you have no self control? Erm... What are your seasonal things you love?

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Making a Muck Of It

Halo, friends! Welcome to Insecure Writer Support Group First Wednesday!

Have you heard the saying we rise to our lowest level of incompetence? It means in regular jobs that we keep getting promoted until we reach a job we really can't do all that well and then there we stay, no longer proving we deserve promotion, so we are stuck in the job we are bad at...

I feel a lot like I've somewhat mastered writing a pretty good story, and I am pretty decent at getting an edit done, and so I am forever doomed trying to get the darned things OUT THERE. I suck at the query or the framing and promotion for self publishing, or any of these other things that are supposedly necessary, so here I am stuck with this stuff I HATE.

Then again I am facing a rewrite for the Amazon Contest right now and I am not even quite convinced anymore I can write a book...

But I AM making progress (FINALLY) on getting the later books of A Shot in the Light up and out, so that is something.

How about you? Have you hit your lowest level of incompetence? What is it? What do you do to master it?

And if any of you are interested in being supportive reader friends as a resolution next year, I encourage you to look at my LAST post. I'd love you to join!

Now go see some MORE insecure people.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Blog Book Buddy Resolution

So know how I sometimes have really good ideas but am sort of crap for execution? This is one of those... I have recently read a couple GREAT books by author friends and it occurred to me I should make a better POINT of it. And I want to be HELPFUL and what is more helpful to author friends than REVIEWS. So I am making a resolution for 2015 to read at least a BOOK every MONTH by by blogging author friend.

And I am inviting YOU to do the SAME.

See, and hopefully it ALSO means we all get more reviews
Here is how it will work.

1)  Sign up with the McLinky below but link YOUR PAGE that lists your BOOKS so anyone wanting to read from the list of participants can use that. ALSO—when you name your page, include GENRE(s) so it is user friendly

Like this: Hart Johnson—mystery and suspense

2)  I don't want this to be cost prohibitive—some of us struggle, so if you are willing to give any books for FREE email me ( with the book name and how people would get it (your email or a link to the freebie). I will keep a running list on the page with the tab above for Blog Buddy Book Resolution—feel free to add to the list if you publish more books. You may ALSO want to note how they could get it for free on your linked page listing your books, but you don't have to.

3)  I am asking those who participate to leave HONEST reviews about the BOOK. Anyone who thinks they might be tempted to 'respond in kind' if someone leaves a less than sparkly review, this is not your gig... move along. No harm, no foul. We all honestly benefit more from these honest reviews

4) Next December maybe we can have a party where we all share our reviews on the same day and if we GOT more reviews, share about THAT... And if it was successful, we can renew it for the following year.

How YOU can help:

1)  SIGN UP! Participate! These things are always more fun with friends. If you aren't published, you can still play—just put FRIEND instead of your genre with your name so everyone knows you are being supportive.

2)  I could use a clever badge and my art skills seized when I was about 8, so if someone wants to make one...

3)  SHARE! Invite people! Be sure to note though, what link we want—it can be confusing if people just link their blogs.