Thursday, September 1, 2011

It's That Time of Year Again - September Goals

Another extra post this week because September 1 happens to fall on an off day.

September is one of my three favorite months of the year (Sept/Oct/Nov), but also the busiest. It is my rejuvenating period. My starting over period. My let's-figure-out-what-the-heck-I'm-doing-with-my-life period.

This is not just because my birthday happens to be this month, starting a literal new year of my life. For some reason, I'm backwards from the rest of the world. I don't like to do spring cleaning in the spring. I do my "spring cleaning" in the fall, starting this month.

Probably because I can't stand the thought of being stuck in a dirty dusty apartment through the winter. I need a fresh start right before then.

September also means this:


I've worked in a major department store chain for the past ten years, and it still excites me to merchandise new product, my most favorite of which has always been and always will be fall fashion. I actually get a little crazy-happy when the first set of coats come in and we get to push the swimsuits back in a corner with a discount sign.

Bring on the crisp, cool air. Bring on the sweaters. Bring on the boots.

Aside from all that cleaning and accessorizing, September is when I look back on the previous year's goals and make a new resolution. Not January. September.

For those of you who have been following this blog for more than a year (and to those people I need to say THANK YOU for sticking around) you might remember this post from last September.

Some of those goals of mine were achieved. Some, sadly, were not. But the great thing about goals is that as long as you keep trying, reaching for them, you never truly fail.

So here are the writing-related things I accomplished in the past year, and how these will affect my career goals for the coming year:

Sold two short stories!

I sold "Spread Your Wings and Die" (fantasy) to Pill Hill Press in October 2010; it was published in the SHADOWS & LIGHT: VOLUME II anthology in January 2011.

I sold "Chasing Dreams" (science fiction) to FaePublishing in June 2011; currently going through revisions with the editor; publication date has not been determined yet.

I think two short story sales per year is a good, achievable goal for me while working on novels at the same time. At some point in the future I will likely push myself to do more, but for now, it's enough.

For the coming year, I already have a finished short story out on submission and a few ideas simmering. I just need to pick one and work on it. That makes two.

(Details on all of my short fiction--past, present, and future--is here.)

Wrote a new novel!

In August (just in the nick of time) I finished the novel I had started in December 2010. You all know that novel as SOCIAL GRACES. And even though I haven't started querying it yet, this novel has already received a request from an agent, based on the sample pages I posted at WriteOnCon last month. If you'd like to read the opening, click here.

One novel per year is also a good, achievable goal for me. And as you all saw on Tuesday, I've already started writing my next one. I'll only be chipping at it until SOCIAL GRACES has officially flown from the nest, but once that happens, I'll dive in headfirst. And I really can't see it taking me longer than a year to complete. I've got the entire story in my head already, I just have to write it.

This story has actually been simmering on the back burner since the beginning of the year. It's ready to boil now.

Book reviews:

This one is a bit of a tricky goal. My number of reviews has gone down, even though my goal was to increase them.

But I don't really see this as a failure because my circumstances changed. I'm reading way more books per month than I was before--I can't possibly write reviews for all of them. This is why I've been using goodreads as a backup. Oftentimes I will write a 3-sentence review on goodreads because I feel the book deserves it and I don't have time to write an official review for The Book Book.

Also, I did not anticipate that I would get an offer to contribute to another book blog! I'll be writing spotlights for the YA Contemps once per month now, so again... it's not really a failure, just a change.

A good change.

In the coming year I've decided to cut back on my reviews for The Book Book, limiting them to about one per month, more if I have time. And those reviews will be of (a) free books for review that I get from Harper Perennial, or from authors that I'm not able spotlight at the YA Contemps, and/or (b) books in my personal reading pile that I really really LOVE and want to help promote.

Signing with an agent:

Well. This has been a goal of mine for a while now, and has still not been achieved. But I'm not upset about that. Honest. And I don't look at this as a failure.

I view it as growth.

The very first novel I ever queried received absolutely zero interest from agents.

The next novel I queried, SUMMER HOAX (in 2010) received quite a few requests from agents, many of them saying "almost but not quite" and offering specific feedback on how to improve. But no offers of representation.

So now it's nearly time for me to jump on the query-go-round again, and I feel that all my previous experience has been beneficial, not a failure. Stepping stones.

I feel much more confident in my query writing skills and my agent-researching skills now than I did even just a year ago. I also feel I've gotten to "know" some of the agents on my to-query list a lot better than I did a year ago, and I've learned SO MUCH about the publishing industry in general.

And, probably the best part of my experience with SUMMER HOAX last year, is that a lot of the agents who passed also said they would like to see either a revision of that novel or a new project, once it's available. So I have a decent list of agents to query who won't feel like a "cold query" when I contact them again.

This is a good thing. And I'll take it. I just hope they remember me because a full year has passed...

Anyway.

That's my new September. What's yours?

~Lydia

10 comments:

  1. I'm one of the ones still checking out your blog, and have been for quite a while. A few years now I think :)

    I too am one of those people who LOVE fall, and do all my cleaning out and setting goals during this time :)

    Congrats on meeting/exceeding/coming close to many of your goals. I haven't set mine yet (waiting to take a breath and get myself motivated on September 6th...the day my twins return to school).

    Christi Corbett

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  2. Great post! I found your blog from WriteOnCon from the pitches or query posts. I also love the fall (b-day in Nov) but I'm having a hard time this year because summer flew by. It should be August 1, not September! I feel like I'm missing a month.

    I started my first novel Nov 2010 and still working on it. It's been through many revisions and I would like to finish it to a point to have a few test readers. In the meantime, started a ya contemporary story I like, so I'm pulled in 2 directions. I just want to finish SOMETHING! :)

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  3. What an awesome year for you! Your success is motivating, thanks for sharing these *major* accomplishments. You've come a long way in a short time and it's been fun to watch your journey. Oh! And from one September baby to another, "Happy Birthday" ^_^

    kellysaid

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  4. Congrats on the short story sales--that's amazing!

    I'm like you in that I LOVE this time of the year. I've also had the goal of writing one novel per year, and the past two years I've done that in the month of Oct. Never mind that I'm still revising the one I wrote last Oct. I'm going to a 5-day writing retreat this Oct., and hope to finish revisions and start on the next book.

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  5. September always feels like a new start for me too, after years of working in education. I haven't got my head around my goals yet, but well done on achieving yours!

    By the way, there was a news item today here in the UK which said lots of people are autumn (fall) cleaning as opposed to spring cleaning. So you're not alone.

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  6. I'm not sure how long I've been following you, or how I found you but I'm glad I did :-)

    I love how you use even the goals you didn't achieve to learn something positive. For me, the big one - finish the first draft of my ms :-)

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  7. Wow Lydia, what a great year. What a great post! Congrats on your successes and best of luck on future ones. You have a great and positive attitude on everything and YAY for a request on WOC. Rock on, chica!

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  8. Glad to hear that things are going so well for you. I know what you mean about setting goals in September, though. I always go through the stores looking at the back to school stuff and it reminds me of when September really was the source of new beginnings and further learning.

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  9. Oh, I love September! I too do the goal setting thing. In fact, my post on fall goals will be next week (maybe)
    Anyway, it looks like you did great on your goals last year!
    It's great to hear that things are going so well
    And cheers to a new year!

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  10. My September goals are just a leftover from the previous eleven months. Me? I'm sad to see summer go. I LOVE heat and humidity.

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Thank you for reading and commenting!