The Writers Circle: 2018 in Preview

TWC
One of our goals here at Today’s Author is to help all of the writers among us to do what we love to do: write. One of the best ways to accomplish this is by talking to each other and learning from each other.  Our Writers Circle series is designed to do just that – provide a chance for us to discuss writing, editing and publishing questions.

This week’s topic is:

The dawn of a new year is an arbitrary point in time, yet it is one we often use to reset or restart aspects of our lives. In that mindset, what are your writing, editing or publishing goals for 2018? Are you starting any new, exciting projects? How can Today’s Author help you to achieve your creative goals for 2018?

Let’s discuss this in the comments and see what our community thinks.

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Why I Love Goodreads

goodreadsI joined Goodreads as a digital way to keep track of the books I read. Over time, it has grown to a community where I chat with like-minded bibliophiles who love books, words, and anything related. Here are some of the activities I pursue on Goodreads:

Chat with those who read the same book

There are lots of ways to connect with like-minded readers, starting with Discussion Groups. I get a lot of feedback from Goodreads’ members on reviews I post which I always follow up on. If it sounds like we have similar interests, I reach out, say hi, comment on their reviews or book choices.

Get recommendations in my genre

Most authors I like only write a book a year so I’m always looking for new writers. Goodreads is a great place to find those.

Add and read reviews

Before I read a book, I check out what Goodreads members are saying about it. Then, when I’m finished, I share my review and always enjoy the feedback I get from others.

Connect with authors I like

Goodreads’ authors are amazingly accessible. Often, when I review one of their books, they drop in on my Goodreads’ stream or my blog to say thank you or chat. Who would think? When I become famous, I’ll do the same.

Receive free preview copies by great authors

Lots of authors offer free books on Goodreads through promotional giveaways. Truth, I have never won one of these, but lots of others have because I see their comments all the time. These are both Indie authors and NYT best sellers. So, I keep applying (and getting turned down).

Promote my books

Goodreads offers a variety of ways to promote your books such as giveaways, free sample chapters, and Ask the Author. I haven’t taken advantage of these yet. Anyone have experience with this sort of advertising? Results?

Enter competitions

Every year, I try to predict how many books I’ll read the upcoming year. Goodreads has a widget that will track my progress. I can stick it in my blog’s sidebar so visitors can check how I’m doing. Here’s an image of how I did this year:

goodreads

I can’t believe how many people participated this year and all the books they read:

goodreads-2

How about you–do you use Goodreads? If so, let’s link up!

More about the love of reading:

What did I write today?

Why do I Write?

I’m in Love With NetGalley


Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, and the thriller, To Hunt a Sub. She is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer,  a columnist for TeachHUB, monthly contributor to Today’s Author and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. You can find her books at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning. The sequel to To Hunt a Sub, Twenty-four Days, is scheduled for Summer, 2017. Click to follow its progress.

The Writers Circle: New Year New You 2017

TWC
One of our goals here at Today’s Author is to help all of the writers among us to do what we love to do: write. One of the best ways to accomplish this is by talking to each other and learning from each other.  Our Writers Circle series is designed to do just that – provide a chance for us to discuss writing, editing and publishing questions.

This week’s topic is:

Happy New Year!  All of us at Today’s Author wish you a happy, healthy, creative, and successful 2017 in all aspects of your life! 

While the New Year is a somewhat arbitrary day to set as a “new beginning” within our lives, it is certainly a convenient time to take stock of things, set goals, and see if changes might be helpful.  So today we’d like to learn what you are considering doing creatively in 2017. It doesn’t matter if it is a change from your normal writing endeavors or a continuation of what you have always done.  Today we would love to hear what you’re working on, what your plans are for the coming year and how you plan to achieve these goals.  If you are making changes to your writing strategy or process, we’d love to hear about those changes too. 

The Today’s Author community is here to foster creativity.  We are here to help each other along the writing path but also to learn from each other.  Here at Today’s Author we hope to provide a lot of useful ideas, strategies and platforms for sharing ideas that help you get your story out.  So let’s start today! What are your creative goals for 2017 and how can the Today’s Author community help you achieve those goals?

Let’s discuss this in the comments and see what our community thinks.

What Are You Writing for NaNoWriMo 2016?

Are you participating in National Novel Writing Month this year? I am, I think. I have no idea what, specifically, I am writing, though, but I guess I have a week to figure that out.

I know that not everyone participates in NaNoWriMo or the Young Writer’s Program for writers 17 and under, but I see it as a way to take advantage of a vibrant, energetic and enthusiastic writing community while working on a new (or even an existing) project. You can try new things, new genres or styles for example, and you have a great place to seek help or guidance. I, for one, see it as a very useful program and if you haven’t checked it out, I hope you will.

For me, as I said above, I don’t have any clue what I’m going to write. But I’m thinking I will work on something that is like a serial. Thinking about novels I’ve enjoyed, specifically books by Isaac Asimov, many started as periodic stories in literary magazines before they were brought together as full-length novels. So, my current thought is that I’ll work toward writing an installment or chapter every couple of days. I don’t know if that will work out to a 50,000 word novel in the end or not, but this year my goal is to just write.

How about you? Whether you’re participating or utilizing the NaNoWriMo site or not, what are you writing in the coming month? What goals do you have and what new things are you considering trying?

The Writers Circle: Preparing for the Year That Will Be

TWC
One of our goals here at Today’s Author is to help all of the writers among us to do what we love to do: write. One of the best ways to accomplish this is by talking to each other and learning from each other.  Our Writers Circle series is designed to do just that – provide a chance for us to discuss writing, editing and publishing questions.

This week’s topic is:

Today is the first Monday of 2016 and today we will discuss our writing and creative plans for the coming year. Do you have big changes in mind for 2016? Do you have strict or loose goals for what or how much you are writing? How do you define your goals and how do you keep yourself to them as the year progresses?

Let’s discuss this in the comments and see what our community thinks.

The Writers Circle: Assessing the Year That Was

TWC
One of our goals here at Today’s Author is to help all of the writers among us to do what we love to do: write. One of the best ways to accomplish this is by talking to each other and learning from each other.  Our Writers Circle series is designed to do just that – provide a chance for us to discuss writing, editing and publishing questions.

This week’s topic is:

Today is the last Monday of 2015, which seems to be a good time to take a look back at the goals we set for our writing and creative endeavors to see where we succeeded and where we came up short. How did you do with your goals for 2015? What worked and what didn’t work for you this year. What changes did you make in 2015 that you plan to carry forward into 2016?

Let’s discuss this in the comments and see what our community thinks.

The Writers Circle: Goals and Plans for 2015

TWC
One of our goals here at Today’s Author is to help all of the writers among us to do what we love to do: write. One of the best ways to accomplish this is by talking to each other and learning from each other.  Our Writers Circle series is designed to do just that – provide a chance for us to discuss writing, editing and publishing questions.

This week’s topic is:

Last time, we discussed 2014’s wins and losses. Today let’s focus on 2015. What are your writing goals for 2015? Do you intent to start a new project? Restart an existing one?  Finish an old one?  We’re not seeking writing resolutions here, just a discussion of what you hope to achieve in your writing life this year.

 

Let’s discuss this in the comments and see what our community thinks.

The Writers Circle: The Year in Review

TWC
One of our goals here at Today’s Author is to help all of the writers among us to do what we love to do: write. One of the best ways to accomplish this is by talking to each other and learning from each other.  Our Writers Circle series is designed to do just that – provide a chance for us to discuss writing, editing and publishing questions.

This week’s topic is:

The turning of the calendar from one year to the next is an arbitrary, but convenient, time to stop and take a look at how we are doing with our writing goals. What were your writing successes – big or small- in 2014? What things didn’t go quite as planned or expected? Here, on this last Monday of 2014, let’s celebrate and commiserate on the year that was.

 

Let’s discuss this in the comments and see what our community thinks.

On Schedules and Routines

I’m sitting here this Wednesday morning feeling completely out of phase with the world.  It’s a feeling I get whenever I oversleep and today I overslept.  I have to assume I hit the snooze button a few times this morning, but it’s more fun to think that some aliens from a distant planet had a hand in this. Well, the aliens or my evil cats.  Either way, I awoke at 5:07am… a full 30 minutes later than normal.  At 5:07am I’m usually already at the gym, not just getting out of bed.  I hurried through my routine, got myself ready and walked the dog, then scurried off to the gym for a truncated workout.  Officially, I’m back “on schedule” now, having cut my workout short so that my shower and subsequent trip to Starbucks could occur “on time”.

Yet, I feel completely out of sorts.

It gets me to thinking about the importance of routines for me.  My life is ruled by schedules.  Get up at this time, do this at that time.  The kids’ schedules are also my schedule, so I have to be sure they get to their baseball games or dance classes or parties on time and that they get picked up from the same on time.  The dog’s and the cats’ schedules are also my schedule owing to their demands to be walked or fed or pet as needed.  Even the garden has a schedule which is my schedule owing to the need for watering, harvesting and weeding.  You’ll note I haven’t even mentioned the real dictator of my life’s schedule: The Day Job.  You’ll also note I haven’t mentioned writing.

Where I am going with this is simple: schedules and routines are important to me because they are what drives my day.  This has been the case for my entire life, really.  But writing was one thing I never wanted to schedule.  It is the only thing in my life where I don’t plan anything at all – no outlines, no idea where a story is heading before I write it, nothing.  I’ve attributed this to me wanting something in my life that was not schedule-oriented and not dictated by the clock or the calendar or some sterile design document telling me what the result needs to look like.

I’ve also sometimes thought my lack of a writing schedule could be due to the fact that in high school English class we had journals and every day we had to spend ten minutes writing.  I hated it.  Loathed it, really.  I spent ten minutes each day repeating “I don’t know what to write… I don’t know what to write…” over and over again for pages on end.  At the time it looked like an enormous waste of time to me.   Recently, though, I came across one of those old journals and I flipped through it.  Yes, as I recall, there were plenty of those pages of repeated negativity.  But mixed in with them were pages of real writing ideas – dialogue between characters, descriptions of distant, alien landscapes,  ideas for stories or poems.  I do not remember writing those passages, but they are there, in my own horrifically bad handwriting, buried and hidden within the obvious distaste for the forced writing exercises.

Many people have routines for writing.  There are as many ways to schedule yourself to have time to write as there are writers out there.  I’ve read about these ideas (morning pages, dedicated writing times, word sprints, etc.) but I’ve only utilized them in November during NaNoWriMo.  And now, if I’m being honest with myself, I can look back and see that back when I was working in an office my routine included getting to the office early and spending that hour writing.  I suppose that was “scheduled writing”, but it was never required and if I spent that extra hour working on my day job instead of writing I wasn’t feeling like I had done anything wrong.  And since I’m being honest with myself here, I can admit that I’m not really getting any good writing done now with my anti-schedule mentality.

So where does that leave me?  I’m going on vacation next week (which as we all know comes with its own overpowering need for a schedule).  I am considering trying a “forced writing” routine into it.  Just for a little while, just for the week. That’s how I’m selling it to myself, at least.  I haven’t decided if it’ll be on paper or on the laptop. I haven’t decided if it will be in the morning or evening (most likely morning, since no one else will be up early). I haven’t decided if I’ll just allow myself to write “I don’t know what to write” over and over again until something better shows up on the page, or if I’ll dedicate the time to writing a vacation blog post each day or if I’ll try to flesh out some of the story ideas for which I haven’t done anything yet.  My not-so-secret hope is that if I do this every day for a week it will be easier to incorporate it into my regular routine at home.  I have no idea if this will work for me but I need to try.

I’m curious about other people’s routines and methods for carving out time to write from a busy life. Do you have any habits you think help you to focus your writing energy into whatever time you have? Any tricks or routines that you think might seem weird to others but work really well for you? Share your ideas in the comments below… maybe I’ll incorporate them into my experiment next week.

On Success

Dictionary.com has the following to say about the word “success”:

suc·cess [suhk-ses]
noun

  1. the favorable or prosperous termination of attempts or endeavors; the accomplishment of one’s goals.
  2. the attainment of wealth, position, honors, or the like.
  3. a performance or achievement that is marked by success, as by the attainment of honors: The play was an instant success.
  4. a person or thing that has had success, as measured by attainment of goals, wealth, etc.: She was a great success on the talk show.
  5. Obsolete , outcome.

As writers, we have many goals and desires for our writing. Perhaps a goal is to write and publish a novel.  Perhaps it is to write a popular web serial.  Maybe it is to make a career out of writing for television or radio.  Success in these cases may be measured by whether or not a novel, or serial or radio script is completed or in-progress.

For some writers — and by “some writers”, I actually mean “me” — there are times where “success” is as simple as getting a few words onto the page at all.

By any measure, I have had many successes as a writer. I’ve had short stories and poems published. I’ve had several scripts produced. I’ve written a lot of stories, poems and other things which perhaps may never see the light of day outside of my own home, yet they are successes because they are written.  But my biggest success is probably seeing my children’s smiles as they read a story I wrote or laughed at a joke in a script I wrote.

As much as I’d like to envision a future where I can make a living by writing fiction, the reality is that writing computer software is what will continue to pay my bills for a long time to come.  So success for me will continue to be defined by completed stories or manuscripts, perhaps an occasional publication and absolutely by the smiles of my friends and family when they read a piece.

How about you? How do you define success with regard to your writing and where do you want to see it go in the future?