A Lesson in Focus

Great Blue Heron, Thumb Lake

Every day at camp, this handsome great blue heron hunted for fish and frogs in the marshy shallows of the lake.

No matter how many screaming kids were around and no matter how many ridiculous games they were playing in the water within a few yards of this bird, he calmly searched for meals.

He did not allow the plans of other beings to affect his schedule.

He did not concern himself with the people who were watching him and commenting on him.

He thought only of his goal and applied himself to achieving that goal, distractions be damned.

Is this speaking to you?

It’s speaking to me.

The Picture of Confidence

I’m eleven chapters and 27,000 words into the novel and feeling a bit like this…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The boy got his orange belt last week. In January, the word of the month at the dojo was goal-setting. This month, it’s confidence. 

Reaching your goals does wonders for your confidence. So what are you hoping for? What are you striving for? How will you achieve your goals? How will you surmount the obstacles in your way?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

In late March, the boy should earn his green belt. Round about that time I hope to be in the home stretch of my book. We’ll both face obstacles along the way. But we’re both committed to overcoming them.

How about you? Are you going to let your circumstances stop you? Or are you going to have confidence in your ability to persevere?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Remember–the only thing all published authors have in common is a finished book. The paintings that hang in museums are finished paintings. The quilts that people sleep under are finished quilts.

So be confident, work hard, and go out there and finish something!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We did it! 1,000 Followers = FREE ebooks!

Oh happy day! I’m so pleased to see that A Beautiful Fiction has reached more than 1,000 followers! I had stated last year that when that occurred I would be giving away all of my currently available short stories on Kindle, the only exception being “This Elegant Ruin” due to current rights restrictions.

While the original goal was to hit that number by the end of 2013, I’m not feeling terribly stingy. So…

AllThumbs

For one day only, on Monday, January 27th, each short story on Amazon will be absolutely free! Download to your heart’s content. I’ll remind you tomorrow, but for now remember that you can access all of them easily by clicking on the links found on the Books page (look above the lovely photo of seagulls over the Straits of Mackinac at the top of this page for the link, or click here).

And while you’re at it, get your own writing life energized with The Intentional Writer.

Intentional Writer ebook CVR FINAL

Thank you all so much for your support, your likes and comments, and your time over the past couple years of blogging. My hope for you is that 2014 will be the year you take great leaps and bounds in your own creative pursuits. Keep reading, keep writing, keep photographing, keep painting, keep knitting, keep sewing. Whatever you’re doing to add beauty and point to truth in this world, do it even better this year!

Settling into Cold and Cloudy

While a winter storm is apparently raging on the Atlantic coast, we in mid-Michigan have been enjoying a sunny day. But we’ll need to soak it up while we can, as the forecast calls for high temps in the teens and lots of clouds through the end of the month.

Late January and into February, my irritating habit of making the most of the weather starts to fade. The more the people around you complain about the snow and ice and wind, the more you start to resent it all too.

But I’m telling myself that it is a very, very good thing that I will not be able to get out into the garden until late April. I have a writing goal to reach and I don’t want to get distracted. With everything in my work in progress going fairly well (I’m up to chapter nine and have topped 20,000 words since starting just three weeks ago) I’ve decided to shoot for finishing the first draft by Easter (which is April 20th this year). If I reach that goal, then I can let the thing settle for a month while I get the yard and gardens in order and spend some serious time outside enjoying spring.

So I’m looking at the cold and cloudy near future as an asset rather than a reason to despair.

What about you? What are you going to get done before spring rolls along?

13,652

This is why you should occasionally take a week of vacation just to write if you have a full time job and are finding it difficult to set aside concentrated writing time. I had a goal for my week off to net me three chapters of my new book. Instead, I ended up with five chapters and a nice, encouraging total of 13,652 words–a little over 2,700 per day.

Because I waited to start writing until I was really, really ready (in other words, until I just couldn’t hold back the tide) I had very few moments when I struggled with what to say or what should come next. And it took about a year of musing, outlining, researching, and a few false starts to get there. Now I wish I had a couple more weeks off lined up this month! Still, if I make the time at night or during a few early mornings, I can still manage to keep up a nice pace.

I hope if you made any writing goals for the new year that you are actively pursuing them and that when your passion or energy inevitably fades (as mine will at times, I am quite sure) that you pick it back up before letting the dust settle.

Write on!

A Letter to My Future Self

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This morning I wrote a letter to myself, sealed it in an envelope, and taped it to the December page of my 2014 calendar. On January 1, 2015, I plan to open it. I won’t tell you what it said just yet (maybe I will next New Year’s Day), but in it I made some suggestions and promises to myself. I hope to find that this year next time some hopes and dreams will have come to pass, some goals may be met, and some growth may have occurred.

As for writing goals, this year I have just one–to write, revise, and edit my novel so that, come 2015, I’m ready to query agents. I’ll do other writing-related things, like publish my ebook, The Intentional Writer, and my collection of 2013’s short stories (now planned for June to avoid rights conflicts). I’ll put the individual short stories up on Smashwords for you non-Kindle users. I’ll continue to write in this space.

But the main thing is the novel. I’m quite thrilled about it. The first couple days of writing have gone well and netted me close to 5,000 words and a lower back ache that is subsiding a little today.

Here’s where I’ve been writing:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The big map is of Detroit and the markers are to delineate borders at various times in the city’s history and highlight spots affected by riots. The books include a number I’ve already read, some relevant ones I got for Christmas, and the sixteen new ones I just picked up from a couple used bookstores. Because, after all, the more you research the more you realize you need to know. I’m hoping I can get them all read as I work on writing the book.

My husband says it looks like I’m planning to go back in time and murder someone.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

But actually, I imagine the body count will be far greater than just one…

I’m Checking My Own List…Once

I know that generally the only lists on our minds this time of year are Christmas lists, Top Ten {insert pointless thing here} of 2013 lists, and lists of celebrity deaths (why do we do this every year?) but my December list is a little different.

I’m busy hacking away at my little “Finish in 2013” to-do list. I have one more short story to write, one more book to finish reading, an article to write, some brochure copy to revise, some bills to pay, and some edits to make. I’m winding down as fast as I can so that I can fully enjoy gearing up for my 2014 novel-writing extravaganza!

I love lists because I love checking things off.

And I really like the feeling of a closed door at the end of the year, nothing hanging on out there in my synapses that I still have to deal with.

A new year means a new chapter, especially for people like me who have birthdays so close to the beginning of the year (January 2nd, in my case). A month from today I will be 34, and I want to start the new year fresh and ready for the next big thing.

What’s the next big thing for you?