Simple Goal Setting for 2020

The New Year is just hours away, and I wanted to talk about setting goals. I know, again, lots of blogs and articles appear today on this very subject. I apologize and hope my thoughts are of value and perhaps freeing.

Goal setting for me gets complicated. It’s supposed to help set a course and give direction. But for me, goal setting ties me up in knots, because I can’t keep it simple. Which means I set myself up for failure before I begin.

As I’ve said in previous posts, I’m a list maker and they can get quite long and exhausting. Unfortunately, that is the way I approach goals. If three goals are good six is better and four hundred nineteen are optimum.  I exaggerate. Well, maybe a bit.

Let me explain. I can’t make myself settle for a few specific goals. I must grab as many as I can, like a child who doesn’t want to share any toys. They fall out of my hands and into the hole of failure. Can any of you relate?

This year I want to strive to keep my goals simple: write, social media and sell books. Only three. Sounds reasonable, right?

Now, I’ll break those down into more specific goals. Again, my list-making gene comes into play and I must be careful not to micromanage each goal.

Writing words:

  • Write 1,000 words on my novel a day.
  • Write two blogs a week.
  • Write one guest blog a month.

And then take my hands off the keys before I add write five articles a week and fifteen devotionals a month. Some writers can do all these additional things handily. I am not one of them.

Social media:

Next, I’ll break down social media into manageable bites. I have a marketing person who does much of this, but I still need to interact personally on social media. Overthinking content makes this a hard area for me. (An excellent idea for another post.) I often place my hands on my keys and can’t think of anything earth-shattering to post, so I post nothing. When I post a picture of my elderly mom or share, I’m ill that often produces more responses than clever prose. This year I want to try to be more fun and spontaneous and see if that doesn’t promote more interaction.

Book Sales:

Sell books is a large category with lots of sub-goals. I need to decide which book events or local festivals I want to devote Saturdays to and add them to my calendar now.  Find book clubs, talk to bookstores about book signings. (There aren’t that many in my area anymore.) Decide where I’ll invest my money online to make sales and look for podcasts and radio opportunities. And write a compelling newsletter every month that keeps my readers eager for my next book.

Few goals still take time

I think even these simple goals will take more time than I expect so I’m going to tie my hands behind my back least I’m tempted to add writing three novels at once while editing four others.

I’ll let you know if I kept it simple in 2020. I’d like to know your thoughts on goals setting and what you hope to accomplish this year.

May you have a productive writerly 2020, my friends.

 

Booklovers Gift Suggestions Part 2

Tuesday’s post was only a tiny portion of the books I’ve read this year and there are so many more I can recommend. I wanted to introduce you to some awesome authors whose books are praise-worthy. Today I thought I’d list some novella collections. That way your book lovers can discover a favorite new author or two as they read the collection. For me finding new authors is thrilling. The book lovers on your list will enjoy these.

I’ll start with a collection I’m a part of because the other authors are wonderful writers and I hope you like my story Healing Hearts.

The Cowboys (Historical Romance)

Taming the west—one heart at a time.

Healing Heart

Lonnie Holt’s external scars remind him of his failures, his internal scars torment him. Genny Collins seeks safety at the ranch once owned by Lonnie’s uncle. When Lonnie and his brother arrive, sparks fly and distrust abounds. While Lonnie and Genny fight the love growing between them, his past haunts him, and her past pays them a visit.

Becoming Brave

When Coy Whittaker stumbles upon a grisly scene littered with bodies, he wants nothing more than to get his boss’s cattle out of Indian Territory. But when a bloodstained Aimee Kaplan draws down on him, his plans—and his heart—screech to a halt.

Trail’s End

Wade Chadwick has no money until his boss’s cattle sell, so he takes a kitchen job at Abby’s Home Cooking. The beautiful and prickly owner adds spice to his workday. Abby Cox hires the down-and-out cowboy even though the word cowboy leaves a bad taste in her mouth. Just as she’s ready to trust Wade with her heart, money starts to disappear … and so does her brother.

Loving a Harvey Girl

Eva Knowles can’t imagine why the local preacher doesn’t like Harvey Girls—women who work serving tables instead of finding a husband and falling in love. But if Eva can get the handsome and wayward cowboy Cal Stephens to join her in church, maybe the reverend will accept the girls. Or maybe she’ll forfeit her job for a husband, hearth, and home!

Click here to order.

The Highlanders (Historical Romance)

Never underestimate the heart of a Highlander.

Night Fox

After the failed Jacobite Rebellion of 1715, war-weary Deven McLendon returns home to discover a thief creating chaos on his lands. But this thief isn’t like any other. When Rooney Corsen sets out to steal jewels to repay her family’s debts and keep a roof over her little sisters’ heads, never does she imagine snagging the laird’s heart instead.

A Tender Siege

Pontiac’s War, August 1763: “I beg Ye to take me.” Wounded in battle in the American wilderness, Lachlan McRea of His Majesty’s 42nd Highlanders pleads with God, yearning to be reunited with his lost wife and child. As death hovers near, he is discovered by Wenonah, a native widow doing all she can to survive alone while avoiding the attentions of a dangerous Shawnee warrior. In aiding one another, their perils increase. If Lachlan can let go of the woman he once loved, he might find healing for both body and soul.

The Year without Summer

Shoved off his family’s land in Scotland in 1816, Grant Cummings looks for work in Ulster, Ireland. He needs money and a home to raise his young brother. Molly MacGregor loses her father and his income, but she has no time to grieve as she sews and spins to earn enough to keep her and her young brother alive. Renting out the hut on their land might be the answer, but only if she can overcome her prejudice against the handsome Highlander who moves in. Her heart might soften toward him, but not when he plans to set sail for America.

The Violinist

In 1915 Idaho, homesick lumberjack Callan MacTavish despairs of ever seeing his Scottish homeland again. With kindness and patience, music teacher Rose Marchmont reaches a part of Callan’s heart he’d long ago locked away. She sees beyond his rough exterior to the artistic heart beneath. He longs for more than he can offer her, but she doesn’t know about the secret trauma that keeps him from crossing the sea.

Click here to order

Coming Home a Tiny House Collection (Contemporary Romance and more)


Tiny houses are all the rage these days, but what can you do with something so small? Here are seven stories about people chasing their dreams, making fresh starts, finding love, stumbling upon forgiveness, and embarking upon new adventures in tiny houses. Travel with them around the country in this big novella collection. Click here to order.

 

 

 

 

The Backcountry Brides Collection: Eight 18th Century Women Seek Love on Colonial America’s Frontier

Love on Colonial America’s Frontier

Travel into Colonial America where eight women seek love, but they each know a future husband requires the necessary skills to survive in the backcountry. Living in areas exposed to nature’s ferocity, prone to Indian attack, and cut off from regular supplies, can hearts overcome the dangers to find lasting love? Click here to order

 

 

 

A Southern Season: Four Stories from the front porch swing

Four seasons. Four stories. Each one set in the enchanting world of the South. These are the kinds of stories your grandmother told you from a front porch swing.

Ice Melts in Spring by Linda W. Yezak When Kerry Graham’s boss forces her to return to the Gulf of Mexico where her husband drowned years ago, she feels only spring’s chill and not the warmth of the Texas sun. Can the joy of a reclusive author and the compassion of a shrimp-boat preacher thaw Kerry’s frigid heart?   Lillie Beth in Summer by Eva Marie Everson With the untimely death of his wife, Dr. James Gillespie believes God has abandoned him. He also believes he’s never met anyone like the young widow Lillie Beth, whose beloved Granny lies dying at home, and who sees a God who sweeps hope through a farmhouse window. Can a young woman whose husband died in Vietnam restore a faith that is all but dead.   Through an Autumn Window by Claire Fullerton Because her larger than life mother Daphne Goodwyn is dead, forty-year-old Cate returns to Memphis with one thought in mind: something always goes wrong at a Southern funeral. But surrounded by the well-mannered society that raised her, the nostalgic rites of a three-day, autumn mourning bring the unexpected gift of the end of sibling rivalry.   A Magnolia Blooms in Winter by Ane Mulligan With Broadway stardom within her reach, Morgan James returns home in winter to help an old friend. Maybe its just nostalgia, but when she sees him again, an old flame rekindles. When she s called back to NYC to take the lead in a new musical, will fame be worth losing the man she loves? Click here to order.

There are so many more wonderful collections and so many more authors I could introduce you to that are worthy of adding to your Christmas giving list. If you love YA or Suspense Aaron Gansky is awesome. Mary Connealy is my favorite Cowboy writer. She writes both historical and contemporary cowboy stories.  All of the books I recommend mostly can be ordered and arrive in time for Christmas. Have a blessed Christmas and take time to read a book or two, or three, or four.

 

Book Suggestions for the Book Lovers on your Christmas List

My favorite gifts to receive for Christmas are books or gift cards to buy books. If you have readers on your Christmas list let me share some new releases or just new finds of mine. Today and Thursday I’ll share and hopefully, you’ll find the perfect book for your booklover.

I’ll list by genre:

Thriller:

Hush by Leann Sein

Lacey Campbell dreams murders before they happen.

The night she dreams of a man strangling a young woman while crooning the lullaby “Hush, Little Baby,” she tries to convince herself it doesn’t mean anything. The next day she’s horrified to learn her dream was reality. Then she dreams the second murder….

Detective Ford Jamison is called in to help the local police, and he soon has a working theory about the murders. His belief that the killer is using the lullaby as a “blueprint” to target women who resemble Lacey, doesn’t slow the killings. Lacey is now afraid to fall asleep at night because the next face she sees in her dream might be her own.

As a hurricane churns ever closer to the little coastal town, danger and suspicion spins out of control. Time is running out. Can they stop the killer before the last verse of the lullaby? Click to order

Kill Order by Adam Blumer

Grammy-winning pianist Landon Jeffers’s brain cancer has given him only a few years to live. But when he sleeps, the forgotten terrors of his past torment him. When he wakes, shameful memories come rushing back. Desperate for answers, Jeffers discovers that a brain implant intended to treat his cancer is really a device to control him, forcing him to commit terrible crimes. Now he’s being manipulated by an evil crime syndicate and a crooked cop. What if free will isn’t? What if your every move is predestined? If you kill, are you guilty of murder? Click to order.

Mystery:

Edisto Tidings by C Hope Clark

(This is her Christmas offering even if you haven’t read the Edisto series you’ll enjoy this mystery.)

When the discovery of a body on a vacant lot puts an end to Police Chief Callie Morgan’s surprise birthday party, Christmas week loses some of its charm. Not only does she know the dead man, he’s a relation . . . of sorts.

Soon she’s juggling a murder investigation and a rash of burglaries that may have been committed by the mythical Edisto Santa—a holiday secret Santa, who may have taken a page from Robin Hood’s book and begun robbing from the tourist rich and giving to the local poor.

Since the suspects for both crimes are Edisto residents, no matter how delicately Callie treads, this holiday season will pit Callie against her beloved Edisto and leave her feeling like the Grinch, Scrooge, and Old Man Potter rolled into one. But she has no choice. Murder trumps Santa.

This year Callie is making a list and checking it twice. Click her to order.

Burden of Proof by DiAnn Mills

Reeling from a negotiation gone wrong, FBI Special Agent April Ramos is caught off guard when a frazzled young woman shoves a crying baby into her arms, then disappears. Worry for the child’s safety quickly turns to fear when a man claiming to be the girl’s father abducts them at gunpoint. April puts her hostage negotiation skills to use to learn more about who she’s dealing with: Jason Snyder, a fugitive accused of murder.

As Jason spins a tall tale about being framed for the killing of his business partner, April must sort through his claims to find the truth. A truth that becomes all the more evident after April overhears a conversation between Jason and the local sheriff and realizes something more sinister may be happening in their small town of Sweet Briar, Texas. But aligning herself with a known fugitive to uncover the burden of proof could cost April her job . . . or worse, her life and the lives of other innocent people.  Click here to order.

Contemporary Romance:

Fall Flip by Denise Weimer

The tragic death of Shelby Dodson’s husband—her partner in a successful Home Network house flipping business—stole love, status, and career. Now a bungalow redesign thrusts Shelby into the company of a new contractor. Scott Matthews remembers high-and-mighty Shelby from high school, and her prissy, contemporary style goes against his down-to-earth grain. When the house reveals a mystery, will its dark secrets—and their own mistakes—cost them a second chance at love? Click to order

 

 

Dakota Peace by Meghan Kinney

She went looking for peace, but trouble found her.

After a traumatic call, emergency dispatcher Natalia Brynner flees the city, desperate for some distance from her stressful life. Her peace is short-lived when a flat tire strands her on the other side of South Dakota with nothing but her high heels and a speeding ticket. State Trooper Travis Wilkins offers to keep her company while she waits for a new tire, but the quick fix turns into an overnight visit which turns into an extended stay. She soon finds herself in the middle of a foster child’s kidnapping case helping the handsome lawman. His presence doesn’t quite settle her anxious heart. With the support of her new friends and her blossoming relationship, Natalia starts to believe she could finally experience a peaceful life … until an armed madman threatens it all. Click here to preorder (This is not out yet but I got an ARC copy and it’s fantastic)

Historical Romance:

Witness Tree by Denise Weimer

Past betrayal has turned John Kliest’s passion to his work as a builder and surveyor in the Moravian town of Salem, North Carolina. Now, to satisfy the elders’ edict and fulfill his mission in Cherokee Territory, he needs a bride. But the one woman qualified to record the Cherokee language longs for a future with his younger brother. Clarissa Vogler’s dream of a life with Daniel Kliest is shattered when she is chosen by lot to marry his older brother and venture into the uncharted frontier. Can she learn to love this stoic man who is now her husband? Her survival hinges on being able to trust him—but they both harbor secrets. click here to order

 

 

Lord of His Heart by Sherrinda Ketchersid

Lady Jocelyn Ashburne suspects something is amiss at her family’s castle because her father ceases to write to her. When she overhears a plot to force her into vows—either to the church or a husband—she disguises herself and flees the convent in desperation to discover the truth. Malcolm Castillon of Berkham is determined to win the next tournament and be granted a manor of his own. After years of proving his worth on the jousting field, he yearns for a life of peace. Rescuing a scrawny lad who turns out to be a beautiful woman is not what he bargained for. Still, he cannot deny that she stirs his heart like no other, in spite of her conniving ways. Chaos, deception, and treachery threaten their goals, but both are determined to succeed. Learning to trust each other might be the only way either of them survives. Click to order

Western:

Rifle by the Door by Dan L. Fuller

After their father is bushwhacked, David and Jenny Foster must ready themselves for their first winter in Colorado’s rugged San Juan Mountains. Eighteen-year-old Jenny is under no illusions—it’ll take a miracle to survive, much less thrive, in the unforgiving wilderness, particularly when twelve-year-old David fights her every attempt to prepare.

Unexpected help arrives when John Beck—once a close friend of their father’s—arrives at their cabin. The tough-as-nails bounty hunter reluctantly agrees to stay through the winter. He owes it to his murdered friend to help Foster’s children build a working ranch, even if it’s the last thing he wants to do.

Their uneasy alliance is fraught with hardships, danger, and back-breaking work that still doesn’t guarantee anyone will survive until spring. Especially with their father’s killer still on the loose. Click here to order

This is the only Western I read this year but it kept me engaged.

Thursday I’ll share some more books I adored this year.

Share your favorite new reads with me. As I said I love books.

Laying a new floor is like Writing a novel

We are finishing up some major rehab on our home. The latest project was installing hardwood floors in the whole downstairs. I’d visualized what it would look like and was excited to see the finished project. The whole process reminds me of writing a novel. Each step in the process of installation took much longer than I anticipated, even with my wonderful son bringing all his great tools over to make the job easier. My hubby, grandson and my son’s brother-in-law all had a part in giving me my beautiful wood floors.

We had lots of insulation and carpet bits to remove from the subfloor. That reminded me of all the repetitive words and unnecessary phrases in my draft.

Rough draft/ subflooring

Once the yucky old carpet was removed we discovered that the subfloor was threequarters of an inch below the wood floor already in the kitchen. We could have laid the wood floor and left a nice trip zone between the family room and the kitchen. That short cut would have saved time but made it less than I envisioned. Less professional looking and an even flow of flooring from room to room.

The subfloor is the rough draft, the time to get the story on paper. Nailing down the story arc is the key to giving your manuscript a good subfloor.

Short cuts early on in a manuscript create problems later. If your idea for a scene isn’t working because previous scenes don’t lead up to your present scenario you will trip up your readers. Don’t leave those uneven parts in your novel. Early in the process, you can fix them.

Stripping the area down to the subflooring revealed a problem. The previous owner left the linoleum when they laid the wood floor. To be sure the finished floor had an even flow required an additional layer of three-quarter-inch subfloor on top of the original. It leveled the floor to the perfect height to install the new flooring.

Rework those early drafts until the story arc moves as it should. Be sure each scene seamlessly flows into the others.

The first draft, even the second is that subfloor stage.

What a difference adding the extra layer of subfloor made. Tweaking your manuscript at this phase adds depth and makes it better.  Although the new subflooring looked clean and fresh I still wasn’t about to invite guests over. The same is true of your manuscript at this stage—don’t rush to send it to a publisher.

Proper layout

My husband and son taking a break from laying the floor. The bare floor is beautiful but there is so much more that needs doing before we can reveal the finished product.

The bare wood is beautiful and to remain so there is a specific way it needs to be laid. Each new row of planking must be laid so the seam of the previous row of planking is met with a solid surface. The patterns make the flooring firmer.

At this point in your story creation, you need to go back and layer your scenes. Check to see your character arc is moving along. Look for show vs tell areas and checking your POV.  Be sure surprise twists in the plot make sense, otherwise, the reader will be irritated. The pattern of your story arc and character development must be a thing of beauty to keep readers engaged.

The new and old flooring had to be sanded before the final step can take place. The stain had to match throughout, and it had to lay flat with no bubbles or imperfections. At this stage, you may gut an entire scene from your novel or rearrange sentences or even chapters.

Turning good to great

It took a weekend to get the floor laid properly and it still wasn’t entertainment ready. This step pairs with the polished final draft. But there are still things to transform the manuscript from good to great.

After the stain and varnish are added, the true character of the flooring comes to life. Then you wait a few days before furniture can be placed on it. This step in your manuscript is the polish your prose stage. You scour it for overused words, correcting punctuation and grammar (errors you missed the first ten times you read through your work) and tweak your character arc. Anything to make your novel shine.

Trim and final touches

The trim pieces are added and then the floor is complete. Your publisher adds the trim pieces and gets it ready for release.

The time from ripping out the carpet to completing the floor was several months. We had other rooms that need to be finished first. My son has a full-time job so he came when he could fit it in.

A book can take up to eighteen months after you sign a contract before it sees the light of release. During that time editors work with you to rework and polish to perfection, the right cover is chosen. The front and back copy added, and the font is selected. Not to mention the proper layout of the e-book edition.

My hubby looked over the finished floor to see if there was any touchup needed. We discussed the type of lightening we need and the furniture placement to set off the floor to its best advantage.

Shortly after receiving your paperback copies in the mail it’ll be release day and your beautiful novel is ready to share with the world.

Now that my floor is complete and my furniture in place I am ready for holiday gatherings.

And additional thought

The hardest part of this whole process was the waiting. Walking around on subflooring for months was frustrating and embarrassing. As a writer, the hardest part of novel creation is the edit and rewrite stage. The initial story and the final product are the most fun. Somewhere during the process discouragement sets in. That’s when I seek out others to remind me the finish line is just over the next hill of edits. By the time we got to the stain and varnish stage, I was more than ready for the final reveal. Don’t miss a step in the process and you’ll love the final result.

What is the hardest part of the writing process for you? What is your favorite part?

 

Four of my Favorite Writer Christmas Gifts

Let me give you four special gifts you might want to give your writer family member or friend. We writers are often not taken seriously for our career choice. these gifts will show so much support. These are the kinds of gifts I would love to receive.

Time

Allowing the writer in your life the freedom to sit at the computer and write, uninterrupted is a big blessing. It is so easy to put other things first and leave the writing until their creative juices are all drained. Spouse entertain the kids, take over household chores during that time. Drive them to the library and wait for them to call for a pick-up. Time to read craft books, time to listen to webinars will keep them inspired and happy.

Food

Send over a precooked meal that can be warmed when the writer gets hungry or her family. 😊 Send their favorite treats to munch on while creating. Don’t cook—send their favorite take-out to them. Lots of food delivery options to make it easy. Husbands cook dinner for the family or over the weekend, whenever your wife needs time to meet a deadline.

Reviews

Readers post reviews after you read their books. Even if you think the author doesn’t need your review post it anyway. The latest review goes to the top of the pile. Reviews help promote their work and encourage others to buy the book.

Praise

Send a note of encouragement after reading their book. while they are in the process of writing and especially if they are not published yet. We get easily discouraged and your praise fuels us.

 

What is your favorite Christmas gift to give the writers you know?