Monday, January 28, 2013

My Jan Plan Update

It's been a long time since I've done a proper post around here. Well, it's because I've been working on my Jan Plan, just like I promised you I would.

If you recall, my plan for the month was to finish IN REAL LIFE and get it off to Agent Jill before the 31st. Well, I am happy to say that I did it. It's done (to the best of my ability at the moment) and in her capable inbox with time to spare. I don't think I've ever met a self-imposed deadline so early, and, not gonna lie, I'm feeling mighty proud of myself. (But if you never hear me mention this project again, let's pretend I never even told you about it, ok?)

So, this is the second ms I have ever completed, and I finished it in less than half the time of my first one. I learned SO much about my own writing from both of these, and I also learned a ton from the things I did differently this time around. It's amazing how much of a learning experience just jumping into writing a novel feet first is. You can read all of the how to books on writing you want, but you never really figure out what you're doing until you're in the thick of it.

Now my thoughts are going to turn to starting something new, and I'm going to remind myself that one of my goals for 2013 is to try something new with my writing. I don't have any solid ideas for new projects right now, and that's okay. I didn't have a solid idea before I started IN REAL LIFE, either. I had the beginnings of two different projects that weren't working before I saw something on TV that sparked the story, so I'm just going to read and relax and keep my mind open. You never know what is going to light an idea on fire!

I'm glad my 2013 is chugging right along, and that the POSITIVITY I decided to focus on is still front and center.

Anyone else Jan Plan-ing it? How are you doing?

Friday, January 25, 2013

Let's Celebrate Rachel's Book Deal!

One of my very favorite things about immersing myself in the kidlit community is all of the amazing friendships I have made. I'm REALLY lucky because I've connected with this amazing group of women here in Southern California; we get together for dinner, we retreat in the mountains, we accompany each other to book events. These are my girls, and I adore the heck out of them.

I thrills me to death that the first member of this very talented group of ladies has landed a book deal! (And a really awesome one at that.) Check out this announcement from Publisher's Weekly yesterday for my amazing friend Rachel Searles:

Yeah. You know what that means, right?


Be sure to go over to Rachel's blog to hear all about her deal and give her lots of love. (And follow her on Twitter, if you don't already: @RachelSearles)

I love when my friends have good news, and awesome book deal news is the best kind of news. Yay Rachel! I adore you, and I'm so thrilled for what the future has in store for you and your awesome book!

Monday, January 7, 2013

My Jan Plan

You know what I don't want to talk about? I don't want to talk about the fact that I go back to work today. *shudder*

Three weeks is too long to have off work. Don't get me wrong, I loved every single second of my winter break. Every second. That's the problem, though. After three weeks off, you really forget what it's like to be at work. You get so into "being off" mode that you totally forget what "being on" mode felt like at all.

I know, I know...cry me a river, Jess, with your three weeks off. But, really, do I start counting down to the end of the year now? Or do I just start small and count down to Spring Break? A girl needs something to look forward to.


I had a super productive break. I finished my major revision on IN REAL LIFE, and it's with some readers right now who are hopefully telling me all the magical ways I can smack it into submission and turn it from meh into a-meh-zing. Then more tinkering, some beta readers, and it's off to my agent at the end of the month. *breathes into paper bag*

It's kinda perfect that the amazing Christa Desir is hosting The Jan Plan, a, well, a plan to finish a project, any project, in the month of January.

Because I actually have a Jan Plan...get IN REAL LIFE as finished as it can be and sent to Agent Jill by Jan 31st. I can do it, right? I mean, with being back at work and teaching a brand new book and and lesson planning and grading and my January MFA packet of work due, right? *breathes into paper bag again*

I think this is the best way to kick off my SURE TO BE AWESOME 2013 - have a solid plan in the very first month and commit to getting it done. I need you guys to keep me going, though. I have a lot of work ahead of me in the coming month.

What does your January look like? How are you making positive changes for this coming year?

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Happy New Year! Happy New Goals! Part 2

Yesterday I blogged about how I did with my 2012 goals. Today I want to set some goals for 2013.

Just like last year, there are many things I want that are out of my control. I'm going to make my peace with that and focus on the things I can do.

2013 Goals

1. Start and finish a new project in 2013
I think it was pretty ridiculous to put a time limit on my drafting last year, especially because I ended up abandoning the original project. But I do want to continue my quest to become a more efficient writer.

I don't know what the future holds, so who knows if I'll have lots of revisions to work on this year or if I'll have nothing but free time. So I think (I hope) setting the goal of starting and finishing a new project at some point this year will give me enough wiggle room to get it done no matter what.

2. Try something new in my writing life
I don't know yet what this is going to entail, but I want to stretch myself as a writer and step out of my comfort zone in some way. So I'll be looking for opportunities this year to do something I've never done. Write a short story? Try a different genre for my next book? Try my hand at poetry? I don't know yet, but I think I'm at the point where I can stretch myself a little bit, and I think it will only help me become a better writer.

3. Read 52 books
This was my reading goal from last year, too, and I'm just going to leave it as-is instead of increasing it. I think a book a week while writing and teaching and living is a totally reasonable goal, and if I go over, like I did in 2012, then it's an awesome bonus.

However, this year I really want to support as many debut authors as I can. As more people I know from blogging/twitter/the writing community are getting published, I really want to help celebrate them, so I'm going to try to buy/read as many debuts as I can this year and help to cheerlead for those authors as much as possible.

Also, for the past couple of years, blog friends of mine like Katy and Erin have chosen a word to represent a focus for the coming year for them. I thought this was a fantastic idea, and I wanted to do the same.

For 2013, my focus word is


This past year was difficult, and, honestly, 2013 is going to continue to be difficult. I know that's not going to change...the only thing that will change is how I deal with everything that life throws at me. So I am going to choose to be positive and look at everything I can as an opportunity. I believe very much that you get out of the world what you put into it, and I don't want to poison the coming year with negativity. I'm all about creating a positive space in every part of my life.

What goals do you have for 2013?

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year! Happy New Goals! Part 1

Good bye, 2012! We had some good times, but you were a huge asshole, so I'm glad to see you go. And WELCOME 2013, a year that sounds pretty awesome. I'm really excited for this starting over point, and I'm hoping that this year has some outstanding things in store for all of us.

Because I'm all about goal setting, before I set goals for the coming year, I want to take a look at 2012's goals, which I outlined here back at the beginning of the year.

2012 Goals

1. Finish my new project
1.5 Finish 1st draft my March 31st. 
HAHAHA! I love how ambitious I always am when it comes to writing. No, I didn't finish a draft by March 31st, but, in my defense, I actually abandoned the project I had been talking about when I wrote this post. I started my current project, IN REAL LIFE, in late February/early March, so I knew I would be abandoning this date. But it took me eight months to cobble that first draft together, and I just (as in, on Sunday night) finished my big revision. I was determined to get that revision done, and have a story that I could read from beginning to end, even if it still needs a little work, by the end of 2012.

I will say, though, that this time around was so much faster than my first book, AVOIDING DRAMA. I learned so much from the process, and that was evident in my writing this time around. Hopefully my next project will move along even more smoothly.

And, I guess my new project isn't FINISHED finished. But I did type THE END before the end of the year, so I'm okay giving this goal a partial check mark.

2. FOCUS during writing time.
I did better at this in 2012, but not as much as I would really like. I'm still so easily distracted, and I let myself get distracted while I'm writing, which is an enormous waste of time. I have found some things that work for me - leaving my house and writing at Panera/Starbucks, listening to music that is very familiar vs new music that begs to be listened to, and using Write Or Die, which has made my drafting so much more efficient. So I did improve in this area. I think this is an ongoing goal, honestly.

3. Read 52 books
I did this one, and I even exceeded my reading goal, ending with 66 books read in 2012. I wasn't sure if I would be able to read as much this year, with everything I've had going on, but books really did serve as an awesome way for me to escape all of the stress of my real life. So, yay books!

Tomorrow I'm going to set my goals for 2013.

How did you do with your 2012 goals? Did you accomplish what you wanted to this past year?