Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Happy Holidays!

Just a quick note to wish everyone a merry Christmas and a wonderful holiday season!  I spent the morning at the barn, giving the horses a holiday treat, and this afternoon we're having homemade brunch and watching The Princess Bride.  I might even get some writing or reading in before we go out for sushi this morning -- our new Christmas tradition, which we started last year!

Happy holidays, everyone, and may it be the holiday you want -- whether that is a busy one filled with family, friends, and festivities, or a quiet one like ours!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Nearing the end of 2013

My weekly goals check for 2013 has fizzled out, I am afraid.  Being a bit burned out after November, I sadly haven't written much lately, so I haven't completed my NaNoWriMo novel, let alone gotten back to revisions on my novel series.  I never did get around to updating my blogs and websites, let alone my other writing projects, and I am still stuck on the first novel I tried reading from my 2013 reading list.  Even my horses haven't gotten a lot of attention lately (partly thanks to NaNo, partly thanks to getting sick almost as soon as it was over, and partly thanks to the deep freeze Denver experienced after November ended).

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

NaNoWriMo in review

I took a break from my goals posts during November for the sake of doing NaNoWriMo -- and it was a good month!  I met my goal, even though I got a little behind and had to do a big day of catchup at the end.


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Goals, NaNoWriMo, and tough times

It's been a long time since I blogged about my goals!  I've had my hands full lately, between NaNoWriMo, general scheduling business, and a family tragedy.  For now I won't try to catch up on my "goals check" posts, and just write a general post instead.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween!

I've had a busy week so far and haven't gotten around to writing up my goals check for last week -- I will do so soon, I promise, but tonight I am busy with Halloween and the NaNoWriMo kickoff party!  For the first time, I am dressing up to go to the party -- ironically, since I am not working on it this November, I am dressing up as my main character in my novel series, Ruby Ransome.  (Everything but the red hair -- I didn't feel like messing with hair dye or spray.)

Anyway, I will be blogging about the kickoff party later on, but in the meantime, I hope everyone is having a happy and safe Halloween!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Gearing up for NaNoWriMo

I am really excited for NaNoWriMo this year.  I don't recall offhand if I've already blogged about it (or at least mentioned it in prior posts), but I've been counting down the days (or weeks... or months) since August or September!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Goals check for the week of October 14

Let me start out by saying that last week was not a terribly productive week.  I've been pretty stalled with my novel, and have hardly worked on it at all.  Partially as a result and partially because I had an idea I liked, I've decided to take a break from my novel series and work on something completely different, a "fun" story that I'm not actually investing with any plans for the future, this November during NaNoWriMo.

Anyway, here is last week's rundown.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Goals check for the week of October 7

Last week was an odd mix of productive and unproductive.  I participated in the Muse Online Writers Conference, and I knew going into the week that the conference would replace any work on my novel.  (In some ways, I have to admit, I was glad of it -- I've been very frustrated with feeling "stuck" on my novel, so I was glad to be taking a break from it for a week, but I was also hoping the writers conference would inspire me to get back to work.  Too early to tell yet if it's had that effect.)

Monday, October 07, 2013

Goals check for the week of September 30

Last week wasn't a very productive week.  I've still been feeling stuck on my novel -- I completely lack the interest in working on it, as well as the motivation to make myself do it anyway.  Hopefully this week will help to repair that, since it is the week of the Muse Online Writers Conference, and I am planning on participating in quite a bit.  And with NaNoWriMo coming up, too, hopefully that will help me to get back in gear.

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Goals check for the week of September 23

Last week was a difficult week for me.  I didn't ride all week, and I only did minimal work on my novel.  My first foray into a writing critique group was difficult for me, and although it wasn't all bad, I have struggled with wanting to write the past week.  The horses got very little attention too, primarily because my week conspired to keep me away.

So this will probably be the most dismal post of the year as far as my goals go, but I'm going to write it anyway.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Goals check for the week of September 16

Yesterday was a crazy start to the week -- I had my annual eye exam that included having my eyes dilated.  That usually takes forever to go away on me, so I took the entire day off from work of all kinds.  Today is technically the first day of the week for me, therefore.

I had a reasonably productive week last week behind the computer, though not as productive when it came to horse things.  I made good progress on the novel, though, which makes up for the lack of attention the horses got.  (I think so, anyway -- they might not agree.)

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Burning at both ends

I have a habit, no matter what I am doing in life, of burning the candle at both ends (so to speak).  When I was freelancing full-time I would take on far more work than I could handle, burn myself out, and miss deadlines.  Furthermore, I would feel guilty any time I was doing any writing projects that weren't earning me money directly -- such as working on my own fiction.

That was part of the reason I took a part-time nanny job.  I'd burned myself out, for one thing, but I was also hoping that having a reliable income would help me make time for my own writing projects without the guilt.

I'm actually not sure much has changed.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Goals check for the week of September 9

I am writing this late Sunday night because I have a number of things to do Monday that will keep me out of the house pretty much all day until I have to pick up the kids from school.  It's not a good way to start a week, especially if I want it to be a productive week, but hopefully I can make up for it on Tuesday and Wednesday.

This past week was middling -- a little less productive on my novel than last week, but the horses got more attention, which is probably where my noveling time went.

Monday, September 09, 2013

Goals check for the week of September 2

Last week was happily more productive than previous weeks, at least as far as my novel went -- and this despite the holiday and the fact that my husband was home from work all week long.  I am hoping for even more progress this week, now that hubby is back to work -- though admittedly, that might be a tall order, since I have several things (riding lessons, doctor's appointments, and my mother, oh my!) conspiring to take up my mornings.

Monday, September 02, 2013

Goals check for the week of August 26

Today is Labor Day and I am spending it by laboring away!  I have an extended weekend away from my nanny job, which I am celebrating by working on other things.  Writing really has become my non-day job in so many ways, the most obvious being that I consider a day writing to be "a day off."

The past week wasn't as productive for my goals list as I'd hoped, though -- my new computer has motivated me to get some things done, but that means I've spent more time doing admin things such as setting up the computer and going through email.  It is necessary stuff, however, so I can't feel too bad about it.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Review of the Sony Vaio Pro 11

I've been using my new Sony Vaio Pro 11 for a week now and I wanted to finally write a full review.  I've talked a bit about the things I like, and on the whole I still like those things, but I have some other observations now that I've been using the computer for a week.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Goals check for the week of August 19

Last week was both fun and productive.  Not only did I get my new computer and spend a lot of time playing with it, setting it up, and enjoying the heck out of it, but I also had a very productive week in terms of both writing and horses (my biggest priorities).  I feel like I've been given a great gift, having an extra couple of hours every morning and afternoon before I have to go to work.  Unfortunately I do have to work earlier today (the kids have a half day since it's their first day of school), but overall it feels great to be back to my school-year schedule.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Preliminary review of the Sony Vaio Pro 11

I've been using my new computer pretty steadily over the last couple of days.  I still have a lot to learn about it, especially since it's my first time using any operating system newer than Windows XP, but I have a few observations to make already.

Friday, August 23, 2013

A new writing machine, part 2

The Samsung Series 9, my new writing laptop, arrived Tuesday, and it was a complete failure -- there was clearly something very wrong with it from the get-go.  It took hours to complete setup alone, and then once it even loaded Windows, it couldn't connect to wifi and could barely load the control panel, let alone Internet Explorer.

I probably could have exchanged it for another one from the same seller, but I was worried about the same thing happening all over again -- these were, after all, 2011 models that had probably been sitting in a warehouse for the past two years.  So I opted to just return the computer.  Instead, I decided to get a sleek, sexy Sony Vaio that I had played with at the computer store a couple weeks ago, the biggest advantage being that if something went wrong with it and I didn't like it, I could return it locally.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Goals check for the week of August 12

One more report of disappointing progress, but from there on out I think things will improve dramatically!  Already, two days into this wonderful week, I am getting lots done and having a great week.  I look forward to seeing what the rest of the week will bring.

Last week on the other hand wasn't so great.  It was the last week of my summer schedule, though, so I literally just gritted my teeth and rode it out...

Thursday, August 15, 2013

A new writing machine

Well, it looks like I'll be getting a new laptop after all, despite everything I went through recently to get my Averatec back into good working order.  That's okay -- the Averatec will make a fine backup computer for some time still.  It probably would have been a fine main computer for a while still, too, but I can't help it -- I found and fell in love with the looks and light weight of a Samsung Series 9.  The best part is that since it is a slightly older machine (came out in 2011), I get a computer that is still brand new BUT it runs Windows 7, so I won't have to upgrade my software yet.  (I have a lot of old software, such as MS Office 2000 and Photoshop 7.0, as well as an older scanner and printer, but it appears that most everything runs on Windows 7 with the occasional workaround.)

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Goals check for the week of August 5

I am now in full countdown mode until the end of my summer schedule -- currently three more days.  Last week and this week have been very busy, though, so not much progress to be expected until the kids go back to school.

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Goals check for the week of July 29

I'm in the middle of another busy week, which is why this is again a day late.  I keep reminding myself that there are only two more weeks until I go back to my regular school-year schedule -- it's the only way I'm getting through these last few weeks of the summer.  The family I work for has company and so things have been busier and more hectic than ever.  Once I am only working after school hours again, however, I'll have my mornings and early afternoons to myself again...  I can't wait!

Last week being the first week of their company, I worked some extra hours and didn't have much time for my goals.  I've had worse weeks, but I've also had much better.

Saturday, August 03, 2013

Adventures of a long-lived laptop

Long ago, just before I started freelancing full-time in the fall of 2005, I bought myself a brand-new laptop for the first time in my life.  I'd always had used, outdated machines to that point, so I was very proud of my little Averatec 1020.  Not only was it twice as fast as the 500 MHz Dell laptop that I had been using, it was also equally as small and light, despite the fact that it had a CD/DVD drive on the computer (my Dell had a separate one, much like the netbooks do now).

My Averatec survived being knocked off my desk by my cat, being sent back to the manufacturer to have the cooling fan replaced while it was still under warranty, and numerous other adventures.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Goals check for the week of July 22

Last week was, quite simply, nuts.  I worked a lot all week, and although the kids and I went to the barn a lot and therefore got plenty of horse time in, I didn't get much else done on my goals.  I had various things going on most evenings during the week, and therefore didn't get a chance to do any work from home until the weekend.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Goals check for the weeks of July 8 and July 15

This past week was so busy that I didn't have a chance to post about last week, so I'm doing a two-for-one post.  Since I was on vacation the first week, and the second week was almost the reverse (constantly busy), this post is going to be something of a mixed bag.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Goals check for the week of July 1

I've been having such a productive week -- this week being my week off (and my week being home) -- that I haven't wanted to blog about last week.  Not that last week was bad, mind you, I just was on a roll and didn't want to take a break from that.

And actually, since I have limited time to work today, I want to squeeze as much work in as possible -- so let's give you the quick rundown so that I can get back to it.

Monday, July 01, 2013

Goals check for the week of June 24

Today is not only the first day of the week, but also the first day of the July session of Camp NaNoWriMo, which I will be using to keep my revisions going throughout the month.  Last week was only moderately productive, but I am hoping that with the pressure of Camp NaNo, the next month will be more productive -- especially next week, when I am taking a "staycation" with the intention of spending almost the entire week on writing and some admin tasks (tracking work expenses and such) that I've been putting off.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Almost time for Camp NaNoWriMo's July session!

The July session of Camp NaNoWriMo is looming -- it begins on Monday.  Of course I'm already working on my novel, in fact I have been all along, but I'm looking forward as usual to that extra push that NaNo usually gives me.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Goals check for the week of June 17

Last Monday, I acknowledged that the week might not be very productive, since I had a lot of other responsibilities taking up my time off.  I was right... in a way.  I didn't get much done while we were home, but once we went on our vacation, that all changed.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

One vs. two spaces between sentences

Are you a spacist?  Believe it or not, it's a serious question.  Apparently there are two very vehement camps, divided over the issue of whether you should use one or two spaces between sentences.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Blumesday and writing heroes

Apparently Judy Blume has a day of her very own: According to this article on NPR, Blumesday was yesterday.  Judy Blume is one of my biggest heroes -- I have a picture of her on my fridge that I tore out of a magazine in college -- so this headline on NPR yesterday caught my eye.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Goals check for the week of June 10

It just figures that immediately following two of the most productive weeks I've had all year, this last week would be my least productive.  At least, I think it's probably about the least productive.  It was my first week of my summer schedule, and it was a reminder of how much busier I am when the kids are out of school, and my hours double.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Goals check for the week of June 3

I had a great week last week!  I had a horse show to get Panama ready for, which meant lots of riding, and I did a reasonably good job of balancing that with working on my novel.  I also did all this while still balancing a day spent with my mom on Wednesday.  I like the feel of having had a balanced week, where I managed not to neglect any one thing.

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

NaNoWriMo in July

The last couple of years, I've been doing Camp NaNoWriMo, which is the summer version of NaNoWriMo.  This year it is being held twice: The first session was in April (when Script Frenzy used to be), and the second will be in July.  Signup for the July session just started on Monday.

Monday, June 03, 2013

Goals check for the week of May 27

Last week was a wildly successful week, at least as far as my novel goes.  For the first time, I actually worked on my novel pretty much every day (except for Sunday -- I rested on the seventh day, ha!).  As usual, though, doing well on one goal meant sacrificing in other areas.  I am beginning to think this is not necessarily a sign that I am not able to balance my goals, but that I am not able to balance my expectations of how much I can cram into my life and still succeed at what's important to me.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Happy 1,111th post

I love hitting interesting milestones on my blog.  I just noticed this week that my next post would be my 1,111th post.  I've been keeping this blog since December of 2005, and although it has changed a lot over the years -- from just general blatherings to a more focused writing blog -- and I've gone through periods of writing more and writing less, I always like seeing these milestones as they pop up.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Goals check for the week of May 20

Happy Memorial Day!  I have a rare day off today, where I don't nanny OR babysit at any point during the day, but I do plan on getting some work done here at home (novel work).  I hope everyone else is enjoying their holiday.

Last week felt quite busy, but also surprisingly productive, considering how many other demands on my time I had.  I still haven't gotten around to working on my websites or blogs, not to mention some of the other writing projects I wanted to work on this year, but I got a lot done on my novel -- the thing I want to be most productive on.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Goals check for the week of May 13

I thought last week was going to be more productive, but it turned out it wasn't.  I wrote my goals check-in on Wednesday, and on that day I was spending a lot of time on my novel, so it felt like the week would be a good one.  But the truth was that I hadn't accomplished much Monday , and I went on to accomplish very little on Thursday and Friday.  As I said in my post yesterday, how I start the week -- how productive I am on Monday -- seems to set the stage for the rest of the week, and I simply wasn't productive last Monday.  And since I have my riding lesson on Thursdays, and often other responsibilities on Fridays, waiting until Tuesday or Wednesday to get anything done is generally bad policy.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Starting the week off right

Sometimes I think how I start the week off sets the mood for the rest of the week.  I often call Monday my "recovery" day -- recovery from my busy weekends, that is.  If I can stay home on Monday and get work done in the morning, I feel like it puts me in a good place for the rest of the week.  But if I have a lot of other demands on my time on Monday (as I did last week), one thing often leads to another, and I feel like the week is almost over by the time I finally sit down at my desk.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Goals check for the week of May 6

I decided to go ahead and continue making these posts weekly, at least until summer starts.  Come summer I may not have as much time for weekly updates (or as much time to work on my goals for the year) since I will be working more with the kids while they are out of school, so that may mean monthly goal updates over the summer.  At least for now, though, I think that weekly posts are more helpful to me -- with so much time between posts, monthly updates will most likely result in me losing track of my goals, whereas the weekly posts keep me more on track.

As for last week: not the most productive of weeks, I'm afraid.  I didn't have as many mornings at home as I would have liked, for reasons that I can't now remember (how quickly I forget the previous week! another reason monthly updates won't work).  This week is already shaping up to be a little better, thankfully, but last week -- the subject of this post -- was dismal.

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Support for writers and freelancers

The other day, a blog I follow linked to this article:

Freelancers Union Tackles Concerns of Independent Workers

It's about how the Freelancers Union, based in New York, provides access to health insurance -- the biggest concern for most freelancers -- for its members.  Especially interesting was the part of the article about the union's health care center, which charges no co-pays and provides a more unified approach to primary care.

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Goals check for the week of April 29

Last week was a good week -- for the most part.  I've discovered that my daily writing goals usually fall apart toward the end of the week -- Thursday I have my riding lesson and Friday I often have other things going on; last week it was lunch with my mom -- though sometimes I am able to get a little done over the weekend.  But as of last week I am back on track with two goals, my novel and my 2013 reading list, which is a step in the right direction.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Goals check for the week of April 22

First of all, I am considering doing a monthly goals check-in, instead of writing weekly posts on it.  Although these posts keep me on track, they also keep me from blogging about other -- and probably more interesting -- topics on my blog.  The biggest downside is that I often forget the previous week if I wait too long beyond Monday to write the post; if I'm trying to recall an entire month, I think I'll forget even more.  What do you think?  Would you prefer to see less of these posts?

Thursday, April 25, 2013

My plans for freelancing

A reader's comment on my post Balancing goals and freelancing made me realize that I didn't really include any information on what I'm planning to do moving forward.  The post was a short post that only talked about my observations, not what I was planning on doing about it.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Goals check for the week of April 15

I'm a couple of days late again on reviewing the previous week.  Last week was an interesting week because of Tax Day -- I stayed up literally all night Sunday night working on taxes.  I had gotten very behind on tracking my freelance income and business expenses, so I had about 6 months' worth to catch up on.  I started on it the previous Thursday and got a little done, but there was just too much and I'd left it too late.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Goals check for week of April 8

I'm a few days late on this post, mostly because of Tax Day falling on Monday -- I procrastinated horribly this year, and not only had to prepare my tax returns the night before, but also had to update my spreadsheets with all my income and expenses for the last half of the year.

Last week was actually not too bad, though.  We've been getting some spring snowstorms, so I didn't do much with the horses, but I got enough done on my novel to make up for it.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Happy 1,100 posts!

I like counting things and celebrating milestones.  For instance, in March I celebrated my eighth freelancing anniversary.  Not full-time or even all that seriously -- but my first-ever freelance article (an article for a content site, not something I'm necessarily proud of, but it's what got me started) was sold in March 2005.  (I freelanced full-time for six years, from October 2005 to November 2011.)

This post represents another milestone: It's my 1,100th post on this blog.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Balancing goals and freelancing

Tracking my progress on my goals this year has had an interesting effect on my freelancing:  I'm not anymore.

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Goals check for the week of April 1

Last week was a somewhat iffy week.  I had a vet appointment for the horses on Tuesday that kept me at the barn nearly until it was time to pick up the kids I take care of from school.  Panama, my first horse, has been struggling with his weight lately, and as a result I have backed off on how much I am riding him.  The vet has me feeding him extra every day, though, so I have been out at the barn more often than my usual -- which is, of course, eating into my time to do other things.

Monday, April 01, 2013

Goals check for the weeks of March 18 and 25

I never blogged last week with an update on how work on my goals was going, which was largely because it wasn't.  I spent a lot of the week of March 18th reading, both old vampire literature (research for an important scene in my novel) and the March selection for the sci-fi/fantasy book club I belong to.  I didn't ride much, and didn't get much of anything else done, either.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Goals check for the week of March 11

I can't believe in another couple of weeks we'll have reached the end of the first quarter of 2013.  It's a bit of a reminder to keep going on my goals, because with a quarter of the year gone, what do I have to show for it?  I've done passably well at achieving my daily and weekly goals -- riding the horses and working on my novel -- not as well as I would have liked, mind you, but well enough to maintain forward progress.  But what about my longer term goals for the year: my blogs, my other writing projects, my reading list?  I've made virtually no progress there, except for finally starting Les Miserables.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Goals check for the week of March 4

Last week will be a fun week to blog about!  Lots of developments.  For one thing, I found out that there is a Camp NaNoWriMo session in April this year, which motivated me to finish the novel I was currently working on and do the revisions (finally) on the first novel -- I want to be ready to start a new project on April 1st!  I also had a good week with the horses, even though I didn't entirely meet my goals for the week.

Monday, March 04, 2013

Goals check for the week of February 25

Last week is a bit of a blur in my mind -- what with worrying about Panama's back and several other responsibilities, I didn't move forward much on either working on my novel, or riding Rondo more often as I had planned.  I am, however, plugging along on Les Miz.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Goals check for the week of February 18

Last week Michael had Monday off of work; his mom came over Monday to spend the night (she lives in a rural area about an hour southeast of us), so he also took Tuesday and Wednesday off.  As a result, I didn't have much time sitting at my computer during the first few days of the week, and in fact I didn't even remember to do my accountability post for the previous week (the week of February 11) until I finally had some time on Thursday.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Goals check for the week of February 11

Well, I'm doing this late again, this time because Michael was off work until today, and I sometimes don't even sit down at my computer when he's home.  It will be another dismal week in all respects except one, which I can't wait to blog about on Monday.  But this post is about last week, so that will have to wait!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Goals check for the week of February 4

I had a very busy week last week and not much time at the computer, so I didn't realize until yesterday that I hadn't done my goals check on Monday like usual.  (Of course that doesn't bode well for next week's goals check...)

I've been finding it very hard to look back to the previous week and write about what happened and why I did or did not get things done.  In fact, if it weren't for a handy little app I use to mark when I get things done, I would have no idea -- the days pass so quickly for me that they blur together, and I often can't remember what happened even a few days before.  And since I am writing about last week on Friday instead of Monday, my memories are even hazier than they usually are when I sit down to write these things.

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Self-publishing vs. traditional publishing

This week, NPR has run two opposing radio spots: one about the evolving self-publishing industry, featuring the founder of Smashwords, and one about traditional publishing's "golden age."

This hits close to home for me, since I've been planning on self-publishing the novel series I am currently working on -- as the first radio spot said, self-publishing is the first choice for some authors (and I was planning on using Smashwords as well).  So, granted, I may be a bit biased in my assessment of these two stories.

Monday, February 04, 2013

Goals check for the week of January 28

Last week was actually a much better week in most respects, at least compared to the week of January 21st.  It was nice to have a bit of a comeback, both on my novel and on my riding.  I still need to work on making sure I ride both my horses, instead of just Panama, but just having done more writing and riding makes me feel much better about the success of my week.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

DIY for freelancers

I recently had a conversation with a self-publisher author about the publishing process -- I've probably mentioned before that I'm fairly certain that's the route I'm going to go with the novels I am currently working on, and I wanted to chat with someone who has been fairly successful at it themselves.  I got a lot of valuable information -- everything from tips on hiring editors and cover designers, to information on marketing tactics and what times of year you tend to get more sales.

A recurring theme in all of this, though, is what -- if anything -- I can do myself. 

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Goals check for the week of January 21

Last week flew by almost too fast to keep tabs on it.  Monday was Martin Luther King Day, and I didn't get anything done then -- I had lunch with a friend who is coming out of a long recovery from surgery, and then I took the girl I nanny for to the Grand Prix jumping show at the National Western Stock Show.  Otherwise, I am still trying to figure out where my week went.  I didn't ride that much, didn't work on my novel, didn't do much with anything to show for it, other than reconnecting with a client and lining up some new work, and doing some mid-week work for a disabled single dad I run errands for (usually on the weekends).

Even though it will be pretty dismal, here is the lineup anyway:

1. Novels: No progress on the writing itself, although I did start reading one of the books on my list for general research and mood-setting.  Putting an ending on my novel apparently went to my head, and I haven't gotten back to writing ever since.  I do have a write-in with friends scheduled for tomorrow, though, so that should force me to get some work done.  In the meantime, I have needed to work out some kinks in my series timeline -- today's task, most likely.

2. Websites and blogs: Still no progress here, although I need to get cracking on this!

3. Other writing projects: Same as above!

4. Books: As mentioned above, after reading The Hobbit I started reading a book that was on my to-read list as general research for my novel -- a book about Al Capone.  Still need to get to Les Miz and the others on my list.

5. Horses: Again, I didn't ride as much as I should have, partly because of the mid-week work for my weekend job.  I remember there was something I was working on the other days that kept me from going to the barn the other mornings, but now I can't remember what that was or why it was so important.  How terrible is that?  I did have great rides on both horses on Thursday, though (the day my trainer comes), and I rode Panama again on Sunday.

It wasn't a great week for meeting goals, but it was a shortened week because of the holiday, so I suppose it's not as bad when you think of it that way.  Better luck this week!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Goals check for the week of January 14

With the holiday yesterday and the Grand Prix horse show I went to, I wasn't able to blog about last week's progress on my goals for 2013.  I hadn't forgotten, though, so here it is!  The week was overall a good one, with a milestone reached on my novel and some more progress with my allocation of horse time.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Goals check for the week of January 7

Last week was a fairly productive week for my novel, with declining productivity everywhere else.  Much of this stuff isn't in my goals, but I started out very productive on Tuesday (my first "normal" day, since the kids I took care of were still out of school on Monday), but I started accomplishing fewer of the administrative tasks and other things on my to-do list throughout the week.  This week, therefore, I'll need to play some catch-up.

As for the goals, though, here we go:

1. Novels:  I continued making fantastic progress on the current novel I'm working on all throughout the week, until I got to Friday.  This is ironic, since it happens to be Friday evenings that I meet with my friends from NaNoWriMo -- we were members of a write-in from NaNo 2011, and we've just kept meeting ever since -- but we often have so much fun chatting that we don't actually do any writing except during NaNo or Camp NaNo (the summer session).  But the reason why is that I do most of my writing in the evenings, and that was when I was with my friends, so no writing got done that way.  Then I was preoccupied on Saturday and sick on Sunday, so I have yet to start back up again.  Fingers crossed that it will come today... though you might have to wait until next week's goal check to find out.

All in all, though, I'm not too bothered by the fact that I took a few days off.  I'd written for six days straight, adding more than 13k to my novel and averaging a little over 2k each day.  As long as I can get back to work today without a hitch, I think that's pretty good progress.

Also, I made a very good contact, a successful self-published author whom I talked to for about an hour and a half Friday morning.  He had lots of good advice for me, and seeing as how I'm planning on going the self-publishing/e-publishing route with my books, I suppose this counts somewhat toward my goal of making progress on my novels.

2. Website and blogs:  No progress yet, I'm afraid.

3. Other writing progress:  No progress yet.

4. Books:  I've been plowing through my reading list so that I can get to a point where I can read one of the books on my 2013 reading list.  I want to reread The Hobbit first (I like having books fresh in my mind when I go to see the movie), and then I'm going to tackle Les Miz.

5. Horses:  Not so good in this department last week, either.  I did manage to ride Panama Wednesday evening, but only him, despite the fact that I'd been planning to ride Rondo on my own for the first time before my next lesson.  I woke up feeling a little ill Thursday morning, too (a precursor to whatever took me out of commission yesterday, I'm guessing), so I didn't even make it out to the barn for my lesson -- my trainer rode Rondo without me.  I was feeling better by evening, and rode Panama again, so he got two rides last week -- but then our temperatures went down into the single digits and teens for the weekend, and I got sick, so I haven't seen the horses since I blanketed them Friday evening.  I am hoping I will feel up to riding both of them tomorrow, when it finally pops up above freezing for a little while.

So the week itself was a mixed bag -- for the most part, there was lots of success with my fiction goals, but not much anywhere else.  Hopefully this week will be better!

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Goals check for the week of January 1

I'm actually a day late posting this -- perhaps predictably, I forgot all about my idea to post my progress and keep myself accountable to what I said I was going to do during 2013.  Also, I know last week didn't start on January 1st, but since the year did, that's also when my goals went into effect.

Without further ado, here is the lineup:

1. Novels: Since the family I work for came back from vacation on New Year's Day, I went back to work on the 2nd, and I was working longer days than usual that Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.  I realized I wasn't going to get anything done, and reset my to-do list app with a deadline of Monday for working on my novel.  However, I had some time on Saturday and decided to work on it then, and ended up writing nearly 6,000 words over the course of the weekend.

2. Website and blogs: I haven't started on this yet, but I have set up tasks in my to do list to remind me to work on one every month until they are done.  My DollStringing.com site is the first on my list -- an intimidating task, since I have the most to do on it, but also one of the most important ones, since I failed to migrate the blog a few years ago when Blogger stopped offering FTP publishing, and I haven't been able to update the blog since.

3. Other writing projects: Again, I haven't started on any of this yet -- my first priority is finishing the novel I'm currently working on, and getting the necessary revisions done on the first novel.  I'm planning on starting on one of these projects in the spring, once most of the blogs have been overhauled.

4. Books: This is about my reading list for 2013, the classics I want to (finally) read throughout the year.  I haven't started on any yet, but I am planning to read Les Miserables first, before I see the movie (we'll probably wait until it's available to rent).  Again, I have set tasks and reminders in my to-do list app, spaced throughout the year.

5. Horses: This wasn't on my original list on this blog, but it was one of my goals for the year nonetheless: to ride both my horses three times a week.  I'll still post my progress here, even though it's not writing-related, because I think it has some bearing.  It's a goal for 2013, after all, and it reflects on a larger goal of mine: to balance my writing life with my hobbies, and still get stuff done in both arenas, without neglecting either one in order to succeed at the other (something I tend to do).  I failed miserably at that last week, riding Panama twice and Rondo once.  In fact, as a perfect example of why I'm blogging here about my progress on this goal, I gave up the opportunity to ride in order to work on my novel both days over the weekend.

So it's not a perfect start, but it's not bad, either.  I'm making solid progress on my novel -- so much so that I think I'll have finished it by the end of the week (I was close to the end when NaNoWriMo ended).  I think there is a lesson here, though -- I am not good at focusing on more than one goal at a time.  I think it's reasonable to focus on one writing goal at a time, but I need to get better about balancing my writing/work goals with my personal goals, such as riding!

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Practicing accountability

My last post was on my goals for the year -- things I plan on doing in 2013 anyway, though of course some of these (such as overhauling my website) have been on my to-do list for a long time, so just being on my to-do list already doesn't mean that it's any more likely to get done than any other New Year's resolution.

I'm going to implement a two-pronged strategy to keep myself accountable this year.  The first thing I'm going to do is to try out an app that seems like it might actually help with those daily tasks -- the kinds of comprehensive resolutions that they say tend not to be successful, like "eat better" (or "work on my novel," as the case may be).  The app lets you set reminders, plus you can check off every day that you meet your goal.  You can also go into each goal and look at the calendar to see what your track record is like for that particular task.  The app is called Achieve It or just Achieve, and is available on the iPhone (I don't know about any other devices, such as the iPad or Android).

The other thing I'm planning on doing is posting weekly about my progress on my different goals.  I'm not sure yet whether I'll post on Fridays about that week, or post on Mondays about the previous week.  Part of me thinks that posting on Mondays will help me refocus for the coming week.  If this app works out, I can use its tracking capabilities to help me review my progress for the previous week; I'm also starting an Excel spreadsheet to track my daily word count on my novels and similar projects.

I've felt very out of control of my own life in 2012 -- although I love my part-time nanny job and I love my pets and horses, I have also felt very overwhelmed by all the demands these things place on my time.  I think the best way to take back control of my life is to get a little better organized, and be more accountable for what I say I'm going to do.  When I have a limited amount of time in which to get things done, I can't afford to waste any of it!

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

New Year's resolutions for 2013

Last year I came up with a list of books I wanted to read in 2012, and I am sorry to say that I did not read a single book on the list (and there were only five!).  In light of that failure, my "New Year's resolutions" this year consist of a few things that I'm planning on doing anyway.

1. Finish and revise the first two novels I've been working on.  I've been working on a series of novels that I started in 2011.  I've done some revisions on the first book, and I started the second during the August session of Camp NaNoWriMo this past year (2012).  I don't have much left on it, so I need to finish it, and then get back to finishing the revisions on the first book.  After that, I'll have to do revisions on the second book, of course.  I'm sure it seems very jumbled how I'm working on them all together like this, instead of finishing the revisions on one before moving on to the next, but I've found that since they are a series, some decisions I've made about later books have required changes to the first book.

2. Overhaul my website and blogs.  I'm also planning on reworking several of my blogs, including this one and the corresponding website.  I want to simplify this site a little and take some of the focus off of client work, since that's only a portion of what I'm doing now.  I also need to overhaul several of my other blogs, which haven't been updated in years.

3. Work on a couple writing projects of my own.  Besides my fiction, I have a couple other ideas for writing projects I've wanted to pursue for some time.

I also still plan on reading those books from last year's list, and who knows -- I might even add a few more for this year!