Monday, January 31, 2011

The Longetivity of Journals

I stumbled across this article Tales of Lives Richly Lived, But True? on the online version of the New York Times and it made me want to hop on a plane and jet to New York. The Morgan Library & Museum is featuring an exhibit, The Diary: Three Centuries of Private Lives, that makes me drool.

The exhibit features diaries of many famous people. Wouldn't you love to have a look at the personal journals of John Steinbeck, Nathanial Hawthorne, Bob Dylan, and even Albert Einstein? I know I would!

It got me to thinking about journals in general. Most writers keep journals. Maybe they don't keep one at every stage in their lives, but at some point it's likely they had a diary or two.

I've written on looseleaf paper, in a Hello Kitty diary complete with lock, on a journal of homemade paper, and in a Microsoft Word file. I currently have journals all over the house for various reasons. One is to record reviews of the books I read, another is to jot down ideas for books, one is for impromptu sketches, and--the mother of them all--I have my journal of spew.

Yes, I keep a journal to vent. In it goes every doubt, irritation, and bit of craziness my brain can no longer contain. I don't write in it all the time, but let's just say that if Morgan Library & Museum found my tome in one hundred years, the curator would be horrified.

Mental note to self: Burn all spew journals before death.

Do you keep a journal (or more)? Would you be embarrassed to have future generations read it in a museum?

Have a wonderful Monday!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Scared of Social Media? Get Over It!

Social media can be intimidating. I often talk to unpublished writers who are on the fence about starting a blog, joining Facebook, or getting on Twitter. And I understand. We can't afford to waste hours dabbling on building a platform if the hours we spend ultimately yield no results.

I've been active on my blog, Facebook and Twitter for a long time, and I still search for advice that works.

But here's a true story of how simple and effective social media can be.

Our example starts with Goodreads. I recently joined this book lover's site after more than a year of considering it. After all, it was one more place I would have to devote precious minutes to on a regular basis. Also, I would need to figure out how it works and take time to set up an account. But I signed up, and promptly saw the super-funny, lovely blogger, Jennifer Shirk. I sent her a friend request and noticed the title of one of her "currently-reading" books, We are Not Alone: The Writer's Guide to Social Media. We talked via direct message about it, and I mentally tucked the information away.

Enter Twitter. Last summer, I'd come across Kristen Lamb (@KristenLambTX). She sent me a direct message, and I ended up checking out her fabulous website. The whole transaction left a Godiva chocolate taste in my mouth so I added her to one of my Twitter lists. Shortly after the online chit-chat with Jennifer on Goodreads, I noticed a retweet of one of Kristen's blog posts about social media. I went to the link and realized Kristen Lamb was the author of the above book! Her blog post, Blogging Part 6--Maintaining Your Sanity and Your Blog, was awesome. I mean it. Awesome. It's linked; go check it out.

As soon as I connected Kristen Lamb as the author of the social media book, I sprinted to Amazon and ordered her book--after re-tweeting her blog post, of course.

A variety of social media sites connected me with people I've never met, and influenced my decision to purchase a book. If I didn't have a blog, I wouldn't have found Jennifer Shirk. If I hadn't gotten the courage to join Goodreads, I wouldn't have noticed the book on Jennifer's list. If I hadn't made an effort on Twitter, I wouldn't have come across Kristen Lamb's blog and ultimately bought her amazing book on social media.

These connections matter. Do you want people to purchase your books? I just purchased one based entirely on social media. That's power, people.
So if you're scared of social media, don't be. It works. You aren't a sixteen-year-old in ill-fitting clothes hugging the wall at a high school dance. You're you. Make an effort to be friendly, and see where your social media efforts take you. You might be surprised!

Have a terrific weekend!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

How to Avoid an Endless Revise

I'm crazy. I know I must be. Why else would I dust off the book I wrote over two years ago (and rewrote later that year) and decide that now was the time to polish it?

It's a good book. I love the characters, and it won't need that much work.


I conveniently forgot that my writing has grown--a lot--since I last opened the file. Yes, the characters and setting are fabulous, but the story needed an overhaul. The quick revision I pictured has turned into a rewrite. Again.

In order to avoid spending six months on this project, I've had to employ a tough-love strategy. I can't afford an endless revise.

If you revisit a writing project in need of major renovations, here are a few tips to keep it moving.

1. Read through the entire book and analyze it for:

* plot weaknesses
* vague character goals, motivations, and conflicts
* slow or choppy pacing
* gaping breaks in logic

2. Spend a day or two brainstorming ways to fix the problem areas. Nail the story goal and the character goals, motivations and conflicts. Determine where extra chapters are needed or which chapters need to be cut.

3. Fix the big problems. This might involve scrapping 75% of the first chapters or writing completely new chapters. That's okay. Do it and move on. The bulk of your time will be spent here.

*This is the slow as molasses portion of the project. Aim for a minimum of 5-10 pages each session. Any fewer and this revision will never end.

4. When all of the big problems have been fixed, you should have a new rough draft. Starting from page one, begin your regular revising process. If you don't have a regular process, feel free to print out my revision checklist.

Some of you may jump with joy at rewriting and revising an old book, but if you're anything like me, you'll stare at it and dream up ways to procrastinate. Forge ahead, my friends. Chip away at it each day and you'll be holding a sparkling gem in your hands before you know it!

Have you ever found yourself in an endless revise? How did you get through it?

Join me on Friday for a frank discussion on why social media helps sell books.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Verbal Goals, Time Management, and UsWeekly Magazine

On Saturday, I attended my local writer's group, MVRWA, and we discussed our personal goals for the year. Each January, we take turns telling the group what we want to achieve with our writing. Then we write our goals down on an index card. Hearing my fellow writers' dreams is a huge mood booster and always motivates me to reach higher.

The Saturday before, I kidnapped my husband and forced him to Panera Bread for a discussion about my 2011 business goals. Wendy Delfosse asked me to share the details, so here goes.

I was nervous. Over the years, we've had informal discussions about my writing, but we'd never set an actual date to talk about my plans. After ordering two coffees and settling into a comfy booth, I handed him a printout of things to discuss.

My nerves dissipated as we began with the easy stuff, my hours--no surprises there--then moved on to expenses, writing goals, and my wish list. My husband supported most of my points, but we don't see eye-to-eye on everything, and that's okay. He trusts me to make good decisions, and I trust him to be honest with me.

I highly recommend sitting down with a close friend or your significant other once a year to discuss these things.

Writers, especially unpublished writers, need to view themselves as professionals. By setting verbal goals with another group of writers, you validate your choices. By taking the time to create a business plan and discuss it with someone close to you, you validate your choices. Validation leads to respecting yourself and sticking to your plan.
Once you've set the goals and shared them out loud with someone, you need to actually come up with a plan on how to achieve them. I recently came across a post by Sarah Sundin (do yourself a favor and check out her WWII inspirational romances) at Novel Journey. Her article, Taming Time is so good, I recommend printing it out and keeping it in your planner.

And finally, when you've set your goals and made a plan on how to achieve them, reward yourself! I indulge with a subscription to UsWeekly. It's wonderful to check off my weekly goals and lose myself in a few pages of Fashion Police.

Do you tell anyone your writing goals? What's your favorite regular reward for a job well done?

Favor to ask--MVRWA is launching our group blog today!! I'm the welcome wagon and would love to have you stop by. One of our twelve contributors will be posting every Monday and Wednesday, and we have some extremely talented authors. We'd love to see you, just click here for the MVRWA Group Blog!

Happy Monday!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Why Not to Announce Requests/Rejections on Twitter or Facebook

Last Friday, I posted Three Topics Writers Should Avoid on Social Networks. The response surprised me--it must have hit a nerve! Thank you to everyone who chimed in with an opinion.

After reading through the comments, I realized the topic wasn't quite finished. Katie Ganshert mentioned, "I think, if handled in the right way, numbers 1 and 2 could work."

Sarah Forgrave also made a good point. "I did a blog post after getting a rejection, but I waited about a month (after I'd processed it) and kept it anonymous and positive, focusing on how it represented a graduation of sorts for me and how it gave me feedback to make my story better. I actually sent the link to the rejector, and they had nice things to say about it."

Let's take another look at #1 and #2: posting that we've submitted or been rejected.

Posting on our blog: I think it is appropriate to blog about being out on submission or being rejected if it hasn't been dashed off as a hasty confessional. I appreciate reading about other writers' struggles, and I share my own too. But as writers intent on getting published, we need to remember how this is coming across not just to our readers but to any agent or editor who might stop by.

Posting on Facebook or Twitter: I do not think it's appropriate to confess on Facebook (unless it's a personal account) or Twitter that we're on submission or we've been rejected.

I do have reasons. It's tricky enough sending queries, why give any agent or editor a reason to question their decision? J. N. Duncan said it well. "You don't really want to be telling the world, and agents who might be looking, that your query has just suffered its 87th rejection."

But what if you aren't mentioning agent names or the number of rejections? Is it okay to post about it then? Let's look at a fictional scenario.

In 2008, aspiring author Susie joins FB and Twitter and sends out her first batch of queries. She never mentions particular agents or editors--she's following the rules--and we can assume her posts are padded with plenty of non-request/rejection related tweets. But if we tallied up only the tweets relating to requests/rejections, here is what the list would look like.

Posted to Facebook and Twitter:
03/14/08 "Just got my first rejection. Crying buckets."
04/05/08 "Another rejection. These stink."
05/08/08 "Someone wants my book!! Hallelujah!"
05/15/08 "Another request! Woo-hoo!"
06/29/08 "Rejected again. No biggie. Getting easier."
11/04/08 "Just hit send on 5 more queries. Crossing fingers!"
01/12/09 "2 requests for partials!!"
03/07/09 "Sent another round of queries."
08/14/09 "Another request!"
08/16/09 "Three rejections today. Drowning in chocolate."
01/05/10 "It should be illegal to reject someone the first week of the new year."
01/13/10 "Back to querying. Ten out today."
02/14/10 "Request for full!"
02/28/10 "Request for partial!"
04/27/10 "Just wasn't what they were looking for."
08/13/10 "Depressed, a rejection arrived in my in-box this morning."
09/23/10 "Querying again. Sent ten out this morning."
09/27/10 "Rejection. Rejection."
10/01/10 "Just got a request on a query I'd sent out two months ago!"

You can see where this is going. If you're a writer, you're reading through this and maybe thinking, "Oh, yeah. I get this. I can totally relate." You may even become good friends with Susie, because she's transparent and a little funny.

But what if you're one of the ten agents she queried on 01/13/10? What if in the query, Susie didn't mention it was a simultaneous submission? The agent just found out. How excited is Ms. Agent going to be to find this piece of information out on Twitter?

Let's go a step further--let's say a different agent, Mr. Agent had requested one of Susie's books in 2008, saw some talent, passed on the project, but decided to "follow" her on Twitter or Facebook? Mr. Agent knows Susie hasn't queried him since 2008, but sees Susie hasn't been shy sending queries to every other agent. If Mr. Agent gets a query in 2011, will he be more likely to want to work with Susie or dismiss her?

Or what if an agent who requested Susie's full in 2009 is still considering it? This agent can see Susie is getting rejected over and over. Is this going to make the agent more likely or less likely to offer representation?

Now let's assume an avid reader, John, reads these posts on Susie's social networks. Most non-writers have no idea how competitive the publishing industry is. They don't know most writers do not get published with their first book. They don't even know it's difficult to get an agent, or that if you're lucky enough to get one, you still might not get published for two years. What do you think John would think if he reads these posts? Boy, Susie must not be very good.

Writers who are trying to build a platform will include many different people on their social networks. Some will be agents, editors and other writers. Some will be published authors, random strangers, and family members. Maybe it's unfair that someone will think we aren't very good because we're being honest about our rejections, but that's the price of social networks--we're "friends" with people who really don't know anything about us except what we post.

Thanks for bearing with me as we took a more in-depth look at this topic. As before, this is my opinion. I appreciate you having your own opinion, even if it doesn't match mine.

Have a terrific weekend!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

A Winter Hour in Michigan

Large, dense snowflakes swirl to the ground outside our patio door. The house is silent--man, how I love silence--and I'm brainstorming a topic for today's blog.


I stare out at the gray sky, the white snow, the black branches of the bare tree out back. I glance down at our dog, curled up under two blankets. Reminds me how I layer my clothes each morning. First the T-shirt then the extra-fuzzy sweater. Under no conditions will I wear a scoop neck in January. Too cold.

Later, I brave the slippery, slushy drive to school. There's an art to driving without all wheel drive in the winter. If it's slippery, you don't always completely stop at a stop sign. You slow down to a crawl and if no other car is coming, you drive through, otherwise you'll likely get stuck. Also, when turning, you need to take your foot off the brakes and gas or your vehicle won't always make the full turn. You don't expect to be able to stop behind the car at the stoplight in front of you; sometimes you'll hit a patch of ice and end up more next to the car than behind it.

When we make it home, I say a silent prayer of gratitude. I shovel and my hair gets drenched from the snow melting as it touches my warm head. Then I come inside and am thankful I live where I do. There's something refreshing about monochromatic colors, a tense ride in the car, and an exhilarating shoveling session--at least until tomorrow when I'll look out at the gray landscape and sigh.

This basic, ho-hum day is perfect for the romance writer in me. It allows me to feel the frustration of waiting, the longing for something better, warmer, and brighter, and the gratitude of being alive--all vital to convey in a romance novel. If life sparkled every minute, I would not be able to write a realistic heroine.

So tell me, what's your weather like today?

Have a terrific Wednesday! And if you haven't heard, Keli Gwyn (one of my favorite people!!), just signed her very first contract with Barbour Publishing!! Congratulations Keli!!! Please stop by her blog (linked above) and celebrate with her!

Monday, January 17, 2011

The Price of Excellence

My favorite section in Entertainment Weekly Magazine is the book section. The January 14, 2011 issue reviewed Amy Chua's memoir, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. Ms. Chua chronicles her decision to raise her two daughters in "the Chinese Way," a strict, success-oriented method of parenting.

The review intrigued me, but not enough to add it to my to-be-read list. Then last week, I noticed several retweets of a Wall Street Journal article, and I recognized the author as Amy Chua. I had to check it out.

The title of the article, "Why Chinese Mothers are Superior," (the article is linked if you're interested in reading it) instantly made me uncomfortable. It's like saying "why working mothers are better than stay-at-home mothers" or vice-versa. I'm not a fan of mommy wars of any type. Naturally, I clicked on the link and read the piece.

A few things struck me at once. This mother is on a mission to raise proficient children, and she's not afraid to be controversial to get her point across. You really have to read the article to believe it. I give her credit for her honesty, but I am too "western" to accept her methods.

There is a price for excellence. It's hard work, perseverance, and sticking with something even when it's hard. I don't mind working hard at my books, persevering through rough revising patches, and sticking with a project even when it's hard.

But there's also a price for expectations. Since I set my own expectations and my own goals, I want to reach my goal. It's deep within my soul. When children can have no expectations or goals of their own choosing, I wonder what the cost is to them? Do they want to reach their parents' goals? And if they do, is it to please their parents? To get them off their back? When they are adults, are they still living up to their parents' vision of what their lives should be?

I don't have the answer for that. I don't believe there is only one way to raise a child. God gave us our kids to be uniquely raised by us.

I'm happy to raise my kids in "the Western way." I expect them to get good grades, I expect them to be high achievers, but I also expect them to be in touch with their own desires and needs. One of the virtues of being raised in "the Western way" is that our kids are independent. They make up their own minds. They're creative, and if something sparks their interest, they'll spend hours and months and years of their lives dedicated to it--not because we forced them, but because they want to.

Do you get riled up when you read controversial titles? What about the price of excellence--do you think there can be positive and negative costs involved?

Have a great Monday!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Three Topics for Writers to Avoid on Social Networks

Facebook. Twitter. Blogs.

I love interacting on each of these social networks. When I meet new people either through friend requests or new twitter/blog followers, I subconsciously form a mental snapshot of them based on their profile, picture, and their posts.

Writing is a tough, competitive business, but it's also full of some of the most generous people you could ever meet. We encourage each other through the bumps, offer virtual coffee and chocolates during the rough patches, and shout congratulations at good news.


If you're a writer, consider only sharing certain information with your entire social network. You can e-mail or direct message news to your close friends.

I suggest avoiding the following three categories when posting to everyone.

1. An agent or editor just requested material from you.Why not shout this out to the world? You may have a rejection in your e-mail the very next day or you might not hear anything for months. People will wonder what happened with that submission, and it might not be news you want to share.

2. An agent or editor just rejected you.Why not shout this out to the world? If you're querying other agents and editors, do you really want them to know someone passed on your book? It doesn't help your cause. And under no circumstances post who rejected you. Believe it or not, agents and editors don't like to reject people. Be courteous and keep that information private.

3. You haven't touched any work-in-progress in months.Why not shout this out to the world? Your social networks consist of people who have never met you and who are forming an opinion of you based on what you say. This downgrades your image and doesn't make you look serious.

I won't get into obvious posting no-no's like trash talking other authors or industry professionals, or oversharing your party habits. I think we all have common sense about that!

Before you post something, think about possible consequences. Also, ask yourself if the post was written by a stranger and you read it, what would you think of the person? You don't have to be cavity-inducing sweet online. It's okay to whine and need coffee, just as it's appropriate to pat yourself on the back about finishing a chapter or exercising the night before. The key is to remember who your audience is.

Do you agree with my three topics to avoid? Why or why not? What do you think is appropriate to share with the world online?

Have a fabulous weekend!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Glam Factor

Is the fantastic life always glamorous? Well, the word life is in it, so I'm guessing no. A large portion of anyone's life involves chores. Food doesn't magically land in the refrigerator, the house will need to be vacuumed, and you still have to pack your own suitcase for vacation.

Okay, okay, I know what you're thinking, well, isn't that what a maid is for?

Even if you get a maid, you still have certain responsibilities you can't pawn off. No one can exercise for you or shower for you. You will need to come up with the money to pay the maid and writing out a check will be involved. No one lives a glamorous life every minute of every day.

It isn't unreasonable to have an expectation of how much glamour you would like, though. If I could rate each day by a glam factor based on choice of clothing, I would have the following categories.

5 Star--Little Black Dress
4 Star--Skinny Jeans
3 Star--White T-Shirt
2 Star--Stained Khakis
1 Star--Nasty Sweat Pants

I aim for mostly White T-Shirt and Skinny Jeans days. There will be plenty of Stained Khakis days but hopefully only a handful of Nasty Sweat Pants days. Throw in a Little Black Dress day twice a year, and I'm ecstatic.

What would your five-star glam factor rating look like?

Before I sign off, I want to share some of my friends' fantastic news. If you haven't heard, the lovely T. Anne of White Platonic Dreams landed an agent--Rachelle Gardner! Also, the talented Erica Vetsch of On the Write Path showed up several times on the Heartsongs Presents 18th Annual Awards Winners list! If you haven't had a chance to congratulate them, I've linked their blogs so stop on by!

Join me on Friday to talk about the fine line between keeping it real and TMI.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Why Momentum is Vital to Success

Over the holidays, I lost my momentum. I had to force myself to open my manuscript. It took me an hour to revise one page. Exercising was the same way--a painful chore. Sure, for ten days I enjoyed all that delicious food and fun times with the family, but getting back into a routine stunk.

It's easy to overlook the power of momentum. I exercise 3-4 times a week. I write or revise every weekday. If I cut back to exercising once a week, I lose that hard earned muscle. If I skip writing or revising for more than two days, it takes twice as long for my brain to make sense of the work.

In Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell analyzes a study of elementary school children's test scores in June and the following September. While some children, mainly the upper income kids, improve their scores over the summer, other children's scores, more of the lower income kids, actually decline. His hypothesis is that the children who improve over the summer likely have access to more learning opportunities. They aren't losing momentum. Who do you think will have an easier time adjusting to the more difficult subjects in September--the kids who expanded their learning or the kids who regressed?

Momentum is vital to success. I could say my goal isn't competitive, but I'd be deluding myself. There are thousands, possibly millions, of other people just like me who want to see their books in an actual store. With only so many publishing slots available, not everyone's publishing dreams will come true. I believe the people who are disciplined, who constantly study and analyze what could make their writing better, they are the ones who will be published. They don't write one day a week and watch Dr. Phil the other four days. They build momentum by writing on a regular basis.

Everything worthwhile involves hard work and discipline, but a big part of the battle is getting started and making it a habit. Momentum will take over and make our task easier. It's one of the keys to meeting our goals.

Do you dread resuming a task if you've taken time off from it? Is momentum key to reaching your goals?

Join me on Wednesday when we talk about the glam factor.

Friday, January 7, 2011

The Safe Zone Isn't Safe

I like feeling safe. I crave the comfort of the familiar. When life gets thrown into chaos, I take steps to get in order as soon as possible.

I don't know about you, but the more I care about something, the scarier it is to pursue it. But to get the life we dream of, we have to leave our personal safety zones. Let's face it, the process can be terrifying. When we have big dreams, we have potentially big falls to go with them.

Sometimes it's easier to keep the dreams locked in our fantasies rather than risk failure. However, it's more devastating never to attempt to achieve our goals than to sit on the sidelines of safety.

Here are a few safe zones I had to step out of when I decided to pursue a writing career.

1. I was used to being a mother 24/7, but my kids aren't babies anymore. I spend less time with my children to focus on my writing. I utilize the time they're at school to write, but I also work in the afternoon.

2. I swallowed my fear and admitted to people that I'm a writer. I also have gotten very good at admitting I haven't been published and how long I've been trying to get published. Not easy on the pride, let me tell you!

3. I once dreaded letting anyone read my work. Sending chapters to my critique partners on a regular basis has made a huge difference in my writing. I never query until I've gotten feedback.

4. The thought of walking into a group of strangers intimidated me, but joining writer's groups has made an enormous impact on my writing. I've gotten so much advice. And now I'm able to return the favor as vice-president and webmaster of MVRWA, my local RWA group.

5. I was terrified of "putting myself out there online" but now I find it very rewarding. Starting this blog, designing a website, joining Facebook, Twitter, and recently Goodreads have helped me budget my time, learn new programs, and feel confident about my ability to promote myself and eventually my books. Of course, the greatest reward has been meeting so many wonderful writers.

6. Querying. Enough said.

I would love to say there are no safe zones left for me, but I'd be LYING. Here are some things I'm working on this year.

1. Staying active with my social networks even when it's uncomfortable or I'm gloomy.

2. Actively promoting myself even though I'm not published. I often think that I don't have anything to offer yet, but it's not true.

3. Pushing myself to meet daily, weekly, monthly and annual goals. I had success with this in the fall, but it's a constant struggle.

4. Coming up with a business plan for 2011. The more I think of my writing as a business, the more seriously I take it. My husband and I have a date to discuss the details of my plan including my hours, my goals, expenses, our expectations about vacations and my time spent online.

So now you know some of my safe zones. What are your safe zones? What can you do to push yourself one step closer to your goal?

Have a fabulous weekend!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

What Does Fantastic Mean to You?

We all have our own idea of fantastic. My concept of the good life has changed from when I was young.

As an adolescent, I fantasized about living in a big city, going on romantic dates (in an evening gown, of course!), and having an exciting job. I figured I would get married at the mature age of twenty-five and have a few kids later on.

I chuckle thinking of it now. While I enjoy visiting a big city, I could never live in one. I love nature, love having a big yard and a garden. No, I don't go on frequent romantic dates with my husband--especially not in an evening gown!--and the exciting job? Well I quit it years ago to stay home with our children. Oh, yes, I also was off on the whole marriage/kids thing. I fell in love in high school and married at the mature age of twenty-one.

Our vision of the fantastic life changes as we grow and it should.

But there is a downside. If we've been disappointed, we sometimes downgrade our version of the fantastic life to the kind-of-doable-okay life. I've been guilty of it. In fact, I often have to remind myself that dreams can come true. Settling for okay just seems wrong.

My current idea of the fantastic life is pretty simple. I want to grow in my faith and in my marriage. I want to raise healthy, productive, moral children. But on a personal level, I want the career I always dreamed about--I want to be multi-published, to speak at writer's groups, to continue meeting other writers, and to collaborate on projects. I want it all, and I'm not afraid to admit it!

This combination might not be your idea of fantastic, but it's mine. If someone would have told a younger me I could write books for a living, I wouldn't have believed them. The concept was too glamorous for little old me. But now? Yeah. I believe it is possible.

What is your version of the fantastic life? Do you believe it's possible?

Join me on Friday when we'll discuss our safety zones.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Exiting Safe, Chasing Fantastic

Stale. Boring. Blah.

That sums up how I've felt about my blog lately. For the past month, I've been brainstorming what I want this sliver of cyberspace to accomplish. What is it I'm trying to convey three days a week? Have my goals changed from when I started it? How do I keep it fresh and satisfying?

Blogs evolve. Mine started as a place to encourage and share tips with other writers. Last year I broadened the content to apply to more than just other writers. Honestly, my writing-related posts generate the most traffic and comments. Who doesn't want tips on creating a synopsis and crafting a great query letter? But there are oodles of wonderful blogs with excellent advice on the writing craft.

I'm in a different place this year. As many of you know I signed with an agent this fall (read about it here). Everyone has been very supportive. I can't tell you how many times I've heard "you must be so excited." Yes, I was and still am excited! But the process brought out unexpected feelings I really didn't know I had. All of a sudden, I was leaving the safe life I'd carved out over the last few years.

Could I handle the new responsibilities? What if no publisher wants my book? Will my agent regret signing me? What if my new books aren't as good? Will my schedule change? And finally--the mother of them all--what if this dream I've been chasing turns out to be a nightmare?

It took me a month of praying and living to work through these fears. In the process, I learned what I really want to share here three days a week--I'm exiting "safe" because I want "fantastic." Don't we all?

Join me on Wednesday to discuss what "fantastic" means to us.

Happy New Year everyone!