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Revision! Taking Your Story to the Next Level

I have a new video for you today covering the topic of revision!


Have you ever felt like this when revising?



I have! Sometimes revising feels like I’m floating around lost in a black hole (I’m obsessed with LOST, BTW!).


Some of you have emailed asking for a video on additional revision tips. So I’ve created another revision tips video for you. In this video, you’ll find quick tips to help you stay focused, discover those issue areas, and keep you on track so you will come away with a stronger manuscript.

I hope you will find this helpful! Now go pour yourself a cup of coffee, watch the video below, and get revising!




In the comments, feel free to ask questions or let me know which revision tip resonated with you. Also, let me know if there are any other topics you wish for me to talk about in the future!

Excerpt and Giveaway of SCAVENGER OF SOULS!


It’s here! SCAVENGER OF SOULS, the sequel to COLONY 9 by Joshua David Bellin! I read COLONY 9 and loved it so when I had the opportunity to read the sequel in advance I was like YES!


And let me tell you SCAVENGER OF THE SOULS does not disappoint! In fact, I loved this book even more than book 1. Bellin nailed the world building in Scavenger. I didn’t think it possible to up the stakes any more than he did in Survival, but I was wrong! Between the creepy new group that Querry discovers and a compound that holds deep, dark secrets of Querry’s past, I was hooked from the very first page. Highly recommended.

Today on my blog, I’m thrilled to be a part of Bellin’s blog tour. Below, you’ll find an excerpt of the book as well as a giveaway.

About the Book:

Querry Genn is running out of time. He may have saved his survival colony and defeated a nest of the monstrous Skaldi, but that doesn’t mean he has any more answers to who he is. And Querry’s mother, Aleka, isn’t talking. Instead, she’s leading the colony through a wasteland of unfamiliar territory. When they reach Aleka’s destination, everything Querry believed about his past is challenged.

In the middle of a burned-out desert, an entire compound of humans has survived with plenty of food and equipment. But the colonists find no welcome there, especially from Mercy, the granddaughter of the compound’s leader. Mercy is as tough a fighter as Querry has ever seen—and a girl as impetuous as he is careful. But the more Querry learns about Mercy and her colony, the more he uncovers the gruesome secrets that haunt Mercy’s past—and his own.

With threats mounting from the Skaldi and the other humans, Querry must grapple with the past and fight to save the future. In the thrilling conclusion to the story that began with Survival Colony 9, Joshua David Bellin narrates a tale of sacrifice, courage against overwhelming odds, and the fateful choices that define us for a lifetime.

Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Age: 12+
Release date: August 23, 2016
For order links, visit http://joshuadavidbellin.com/my-books/
Available in hardcover and e-book

Praise for Survival Colony 9:

Tantalizing mysteries abound among the human and inhuman inhabitants of the bleak landscape, and the post-apocalyptic plot is satisfyingly full of twists.—Booklist

Joshua David Bellin brings serious game in a post-apocalyptic thriller that collides breathless action with devious world building and genuine heart. A terrific novel!—Jonathan Maberry, New York Times bestselling author of Rot & Ruin and V-Wars

Set in a gritty post-apocalyptic world, Survival Colony 9 is both an adventure and an exploration of what it means to be human.—Margaret Peterson Haddix, New York Times bestselling author of the Missing Series

Excerpt from SCAVENGER OF SOULS 
© 2016 by Joshua David Bellin


Chapter One

Aleka looked out over the land and frowned.

She stood at the crest of a low hill, squinting in the sunlight, the lines deepening around her mouth. I tried to read her expression, but as usual I failed.

This was Aleka, after all. Her close-cropped, graying blond hair framed a face she could turn into a mask at a moment’s notice. I’d been studying that face for the better part of a week, and I still had no idea what was going on behind her deep gray eyes.

Aleka. My mother. And as much a mystery to me as my own past.

After a long minute she spoke the name of her second-in-command. “Soon.”

Soon, a big guy with what might have been called a pot belly in a different time, came up beside her.

Aleka surveyed the unforgiving landscape, the lazy glint of river the only sign of movement in the waste. “How long?”

“A week. Maybe two if we’re extra careful.” He searched her face, but he must have come up empty too. “Why?”

She didn’t answer. The others had edged closer, listening. Any conversation that hinted at our dwindling supply of canned goods got their attention.

But after another long look over the barren land, she turned and strode back down the hill, refusing to meet any of our eyes. Everyone watched her go in silence, until she disappeared behind a clump of rock that stood at the base of the hill.

“Well, that was enlightening,” Wali said.

There were sixteen of us, the last survivors of Survival Colony 9. Five grown-ups counting Aleka, Soon, our camp healer Tyris, our craftswoman Nekane, and the old woman whose name no one knew, a wraith with wild white hair and a threadbare shift the same drab gray-brown as our uniforms. For the past week we’d been carrying her on a homemade stretcher, while she gripped her late husband’s collection container, a scuffed, bottle-green jar overflowing with scraps of hair and fingernails. She was amazingly heavy for a woman who’d dwindled to skin and bones.

The rest of us were teens and younger. Wali, with his shaggy hair and bronzed muscles, the oldest at seventeen. Nessa, the only teenage girl left in our colony since the death of Wali’s girlfriend Korah. Then there was Adem, a tall skinny awkward guy who communicated mostly with gulps and blushes. And the little ones, seven of them total, from ragged five-year-old Keely to knowing Zataias at age ten, with straggly-haired Bea in the middle.

And that left only me. Querry Genn. Fifteen years old last week, and thanks to an accident seven months ago, with no memory of the first fourteen.

Only my mother held the secret to who I was. But she wasn’t talking.

She hadn’t said a word to me the whole week. That entire time, we’d been creeping across a desert landscape of stripped stone and yawning crevices, the scars our ancestors had cut into the face of the land. For six of those seven days we’d been carrying the old woman. Aleka had driven us at a pace unusual even for her, with only short rests at the brutal height of day and long marches deep into the night. What she was hurrying for was another thing she wouldn’t talk to me about.

When we’d left our camp by the river, the old woman had babbled on about mountains somewhere to the north, licking her lips while she talked as if she could taste the snow-fresh air. She’d described green grass as high as our knees, wind rippling across it so it seemed to shimmer like something she called satin. She’d told us about yellow flowers and purple ones, trickling water so clear you could see brightly colored fish darting among the submerged stones. Clouds, she said, blanketed the mountain peaks, cool and white and soft, unlike the oppressive brown clouds that smothered the sun but almost never rained in the world we knew. At first I refused to believe her, told myself that half of what she said had to be exaggerated or misremembered or just plain crazy. But like everyone else, I’d fallen in love with the picture she painted. None of the rest of us had seen mountains, not even Tyris, who’d been two or three years old when the wars started. After a lifetime in the desert, the prospect of mountains rearing up out of nowhere, white and purple and capped with gold from the sun, was irresistible.

By now, though, it seemed even the old woman had forgotten where we were headed. She’d lapsed into silence, except for the times she stroked her collection jar, mumbling to it. She slept most of the time, sometimes beating her hands against her chest and mouthing words no one could make out. But even when her eyes opened, her glassy expression showed no awareness of anyone or anything around her.

We set her stretcher down in the best shade we could find and stood there, waiting for Aleka to return. Nessa held the old woman’s gnarled hand and sang softly, something the old woman had sung to her when she was a kid. I tried to organize a game with the little ones, but they just flopped in the dirt, limbs flung everywhere in postures of dramatic protest. I’d learned the hard way that you couldn’t get all seven of them to do anything at once, but occasionally, if you got one of them doing something that looked interesting enough, the others couldn’t stand to be left out.

Today, though, it wasn’t going to happen. A fossil hunt usually got them going, but this time even Keely wouldn’t bite when I told him an old, rotting buffalo skull was a T. rex.

“I don’t want to play that game, Querry,” he managed weakly, before putting his head down and closing his eyes. “It’s boring.”

Without warning, Aleka stalked back to the group. To my complete surprise, she took my arm and pulled me away from the others. I stumbled to keep up with her long strides. When we reached the rock where she’d hidden herself before, she stopped, so suddenly she just about spun me around.

“Querry,” she said. “We need to talk.”

“We’ve needed to talk all week,” I said under my breath.

She heard me. She always did. “That will have to wait. This is priority.”

“Something else always is, isn’t it?”

We faced off for a moment.

“I’m asking you to be patient,” she said. “And to believe I’m working on this.”

“Fine.” I wished for once I could meet her on even ground, but she had a good six inches on me, not to mention at least thirty years. “Let me know when you’ve got it all worked out.”

If I thought I’d get a reaction from that, I was wrong. Her face went into lockdown, and I was pretty sure the conversation was over. But then she asked, “What is it you want, Querry?”

“Answers,” I said. “The truth.”

“Answers aren’t always true,” she said. “And the truth isn’t always the answer you want.”

“Whatever that means.”

She glared at me, but kept her voice in check.

“It means what it means,” she said. “For one, it means that Soon’s estimate is wildly optimistic. I’ve checked our stores, and we have only a few days of food left. If we’re even stingier than usual. Which is a risk, since there’s nothing here to supplement our supplies.”

“Why would Soon. . . .”

She ignored me. “And it means the old woman is failing.  Earlier today she asked me if she could talk to Laman.”

“You’re kidding.”

“I wish I were.”

I stared at her, not knowing what to say. Laman Genn had led Survival Colony 9 for twenty-five years. But like so many of his followers, he’d died a little over a week ago, just before we set out on our journey.

Died. Been killed. I tried not to think about it, but I remembered the nest, the bloody wound in his side, the creature that had torn him open.

The Skaldi.

The ones we’d been fleeing all our lives. Monsters with the ability to consume and mimic human hosts. It was hard to believe anyone could forget them. Even though we’d destroyed their nest, I kept expecting them to reappear, like a second nightmare that catches you when you think you’re awake and drags you back under.

“Any more good news?” I said, trying to smile.

She didn’t return the offering. “The children are failing too,” she said. “Keely and Beatrice especially. If we run out of solid food. . . . We forget how fragile they are. And how many of the little ones simply don’t make it.”

I turned to look at the kids, lying on the ground like so many dusty garlands. “What can we do?”

She didn’t say anything for a long time, and her gaze left mine, drifting to the desert beyond. I thought she wasn’t going to answer when her voice came again, as far away as her eyes.

“I know this area,” she said. “Or at least, I did. None of the others has been here—Laman seems to have avoided it assiduously. But I was here, once upon a time. So long ago the details are fuzzy. Either that or it’s . . . changed.”

I glanced around us, as if I expected to see something I hadn’t noticed before. “Why didn’t you tell anyone?”

Her shoulders inched in the slightest of shrugs. “I didn’t want to give anyone false hope. They were excited enough about the mountains. And I wasn’t sure I could find it again. I’m still not sure.”

“What is it?”

She waved vaguely toward the northwest. “A sanctuary, or as much of one as we’re likely to find in this world. Not mountains, but a canyon. Shaded, protected from the worst damage of the wars. The river gains strength as it flows through, nourishing what grows on its banks. If we could only reach it, there might be a chance for the most vulnerable members of the colony.”

I studied her face, as still and remote as the surface of the moon. This time, though, I thought I caught something there.

“If this place is so great,” I said carefully, “why did Laman stay away from it?”

Her eyes snapped to mine, and for the briefest second I imagined I saw a glimmer of fear.


About the Author:

Joshua David Bellin has been writing novels since he was eight years old (though the first few were admittedly very short). He taught college for twenty years, wrote a bunch of books for college students, then decided to return to fiction. Survival Colony 9 is his first novel, with the sequel, Scavenger of Souls, set to release on August 23, 2016. A third YA science fiction novel, the deep-space adventure/romance Freefall, will appear in 2017.

Josh loves to read, watch movies, and spend time in Nature with his kids. Oh, yeah, and he likes monsters. Really scary monsters.

To find out more about Josh and his books, visit him at the following:

Website
Blog
Twitter
Facebook
Goodreads

Full Tour Listing
            
8/18     Margo Kelly

8/19     Kat Ross
            
8/20     Christina Farley

8/21     JeanzBookReadNReview

8/22     Gold from the Dust
            

8/26     Strands of Thought

8/29     Eric Price
        
Giveaway!

Win a signed copy of SCAVENGER OF SOULS + bookmarks and T-shirt! Fill out the Rafflecopter entry below:

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Deconstructing the Query Letter


Writing a query letter is tough, but at the same time, it’s an essential skill a writer who wishes to get an agent must master.

I’ve received a lot of requests from writers wondering how to write a query letter. So I put together some of my tips and thoughts into this video. Basically I’ve broken down the query letter by paragraph.



To those of you who are querying, make sure you check out Query Tracker and Literary Rambles to help you with your agent search.

May the odds ever be in your favor!

Cover Reveal for THE PRINCESS & THE PAGE + Giveaway!

I am thrilled to share with you the cover for my first middle grade book, THE PRINCESS AND THE PAGE!


Giveaway Details

The official reveal was yesterday on YA Books Central where a insider look from the illustrator, Pétur Atli Antonsson, is shared as well as a giveaway. The giveaway includes two advanced autographed copies (US only when they become available) and a $25 gift card (international) so make sure you head over there to check it out and enter.

Make sure you add it to your Goodreads list here, and consider adding it to your favorite Goodreads list, too!

What is this book about?

If you loved the Gilded series, I think you’re going to fall in love with Keira, Chet, and Bella, too. This book is full of twists on fairy tales, humor, adventures, history, and a modern-day girl who discovers a powerful pen. Plus it’s set at my favorite castle in France- Chateau de Chenonceau! (click on the link to check it out).

Here’s the official blurb:

A mystical adventure about a pulls-no-punches princess and the power of her magical pen.

A dark secret lurks in Keira’s family. She comes from a long line of Word Weavers who bring their stories to life when they use a magical pen. But for generations Word Weavers have been hunted for their power. That’s why Keira is forbidden to write. When Keira discovers her grandma’s Word Weaver pen, and writes a story for the Girls’ World fairy tale contest, she starts to wonder if anyone ever truly lives happily ever after. Inspired by the life and times of Gabrielle d’Estrées, a real French princess who lived during the 1500’s.

Enter the YA Books Central giveaway here! 

3 Winners! Prizes include 2 autographed advanced copies of the book when it is available (US only) and a $25 gift card to your favorite book vendor (international).
 

The First Line of Your Book

That first line of your book is the most important. In this video, I’m sharing some quick tips and giving examples of how to create a captivating first line for your book. If you have any questions, feel free to post below or on my YouTube channel!

Teachers!


Thank you to all of the teachers and media specialists that invited me to your school this past year. It was an amazing experience! 

As the school year comes to a close, I wanted to share some quick things for you as you plan your next school year. 

1. If you are a teacher, media specialist, or librarian, you can get a free swag pack of the Gilded series (middle and high school) or THE PRINCESS AND THE PAGE (elementary and middle school). Just fill the form out here or below. 

2. Are you looking for new books to teach next year? If so, I’ve compiled a list of free novel guides for middle grade and young adult books here

3. Interested in hosting a author visit? Check out Kim Norman’s blog, which lists authors by state who do school visits

4. I’m currently booking school visits for next year. For information and pricing of my visits, go here for US schools and here for international schools. 

5. Finally, I have a new author visit video featuring my visits. Check it out!


Reviews of the Gilded Series and Pictures!

Hello guys! Lots of fun things have been happening over the past few months with more cool things to share with you in the near future! But today I wanted to post 3 reviews written by Erica Luo, a middle schooler from Washington state. She sent these to me through her teacher, Mr. Pearson, since she is unable to post reviews on Amazon or Goodreads. I was so impressed with her writing and thoughtfulness that I wanted to share her reviews with you (don’t worry, she sent in her consent!).

Also, below I have posted some pictures of some of the events I’ve been doing including an author visit to Colonial High School, the Amelia Island Book Festival, and a really cool limo ride to Chili’s and ice cream autograph party for students who read all 15 of the Sunshine State books!

Reviews by Erica Luo
I really enjoyed Gilded by Christina Farley. I loved the plot and the awesome character development. I could picture every single moment of the book in my head. The ending is great, it leaves you wanting to read more. The book starts with 16 year old Jae Hwa having to recently move from the United States to Seoul, South Korea. Her life is chaos, her grandfather hates (?) her, and this boy named Marc is SO ANNOYING, she WANTS to like him, but family issues. Then she sees two creatures of Korean folklore on the street after being sent outside for hurting someone in Tae Kwan Doe, she’s confused and scared. That’s when her grandfather explains that their family has been cursed for centuries, every generation the oldest female over 15 years of age will be kidnapped by Haemosu, the Korean god of the sun. It turns out she is the oldest female in her generation AND over 15. Haemosu will stop at nothing to capture her and turn her into his bride. Even if it means hurting the ones she loves most. Jae struggles to find a way to beat Haemosu, so she can get her life back. Jae is a really complicated person, you wouldn’t be able to tell by looking at her. When you listen in to her thoughts, you can almost feel her pain, from losing her mother, and shock from seeing two mythical beings. Jae is portrayed at the beginning to be sort of confused about feelings, she has loyalty to her family’s favoring (Example: Not wanting to like Marc because her father wants her to date a Korean). In the end, she seems to understand her feelings a lot more than she did before. The books teaches you how things can all work out in the end no matter how hard they seem to be. Jae suffers great loss, but in the end it all works out. I’d recommend it to people who are ok with a little romance and violence.

The book Silvern by Christina Farley builds off of Gilded is a unique way. The book somehow manages to continue a seemingly closed off book, which is very surprising. After beating the living daylights out of Haemosu, Jae thinks her connection to the spirit world is over. She can go on with life and pretend that didn’t happen. Until someone sends an assassin to kill her in a Tae Kwan Doe test. She barely manages to escape with her life, and finds out that now Kud, the god of Darkness, and Haemosu’s partner in crime, sent the assassin. Now ANOTHER god is trying to kill her. Great. She and her friends must find the White Tiger orb before Kud does, and fast. No one likes an angry god. This time, Jae feels so much more sorrow, you want to cry for her, all her emotions are now clearer, and she learns more about The Guardians. There is so much character development in the book, Farley even makes the immortals have human like personalities, which makes you think of people in history, or people you know around you.  This book teaches the lesson of hope, to never let hope go no matter what. Throughout the book, Jae always has hope that something good will come out of every situation. I’ll warn you though, this book does have a bittersweet ending, so you might get a bit emotional. Once you finish this book, you’ll be waiting for the next!


Brazen by Christina Farley, is probably the best book in the ‘Gilded’ series. There is so much suspense and stakes for survival, you’ll be on the edge of your seat, wondering what will happen next. Jae is now Kud, the god of darkness’ servant. She has to do whatever he tells her, the contract on her arm is a sign to remind her. Now her father and grandfather think she’s dead, even though she’s not. That’s the punishment of being Kud’s slave. She can’t see her family OR Marc anymore. And now she and all her friends, her supporters are now supposed to be her foe. But Jae has a plan, a plan to break free of Kud’s control. She only needs someone to believe her. Jae is now begging for help from her former allies, because she needs their help. Jae is so pitiful, and when everyone calls her a ‘thing of evil’ you want to magically pop into the book and yell at them, you will genuinely feel all Jae’s emotions. Her fear, anger, sadness, worry, and even hate at herself. The book taught me that when all hope is lost, you have to try your best to find hope, even in the most impossible situations. The ending of the series is calming, you feel like the story has closed off somehow, and peace is restored.
Colonial banner

Spring YA Scavenger Hunt!



Hey guys! I’m Christina Farley, your hostess for this leg of the hunt. I wrote the GILDED series, contemporary fantasies about a Korean-American girl with a black belt and a deadly proclivity with steel-tipped arrows who discovers an ancient Korean demigod has been kidnapping the first-born daughters of her family for generations. And she’s next.

Look for my next novel, THE PRINCESS AND THE PAGE, comes out early 2017.

To celebrate, I’m giving away a $10 gift card to the book vendor of your choice (open internationally). Enter at the bottom of this post!
 

Welcome to YA Scavenger Hunt! This bi-annual event was first organized by author Colleen Houck as a way to give readers a chance to gain access to exclusive bonus material from their favorite authors…and a chance to win awesome prizes!


At this hunt, you not only get access to exclusive content from each author, you also get a clue for the hunt. Add up the clues, and you can enter for our prize–one lucky winner will receive a book from each author on the hunt in my team (that’s 20 books)!  




Are you freaking out yet?

Go to the YA Scavenger Hunt page to find out all about the hunt. There are NINE contests going on simultaneously, and you can enter one or all to win tons of books! I am on TEAM RED!





SCAVENGER HUNT PUZZLE

Directions: Below, you’ll notice that I’ve listed my favorite number. Collect the favorite numbers of all the authors on the RED TEAM, and then add them up (don’t worry, you can use a calculator!).

Entry Form: Once you’ve added up all the numbers, make sure you fill out the form here to officially qualify for the grand prize. Only entries that have the correct number will qualify.

Rules: Open internationally, anyone below the age of 18 should have a parent or guardian’s permission to enter. To be eligible for the grand prize, you must submit the completed entry form by Sunday, Apr. 3rd, at noon Pacific Time. Entries sent without the correct number or without contact information will not be considered.



SCAVENGER HUNT POST


Today, I am hosting Vicki Leigh



Vicki Leigh grew up in a small suburb of Akron, Ohio where she learned to read by the age of four and considered being sent to her room for punishment as an opportunity to dive into another book. If she couldn’t be a writer, Vicki would be a Hunter (think Dean and Sam Winchester) or a Jedi. Her favorite place on earth is Hogwarts (she refuses to believe it doesn’t exist), and her favorite dreams include solving cases alongside Sherlock Holmes. She’s a previous acquisitions editor for Curiosity Quills Press and also writes as Tori Rigby.

Find out more information by checking out the author website here

EXCLUSIVE CONTENT



They may have won the first battle, but the Apocalypse has just begun.

Five weeks have passed since the battle that left Rome and Columbus in ruins. Sheltered in the hidden city of Caelum, Daniel and Kayla train alongside over one hundred Magus and Protectors, hoping that their unified ranks will be enough to take down their greatest threat yet: Richard, his followers, and his horde of Nightmares. Then a fallen comrade is returned to Caelum with a message carved into his chest and a note referencing the four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, and Daniel knows their time for training is over.

Finally understanding Richard’s plans for Kayla and the three other Magus born on Halloween, Daniel and the rest of Caelum’s volunteers scout the U.S. in a desperate attempt to stop their enemy before he can unleash his first Horseman. But when massive attacks claim thousands of lives, people all over the world begin to fall ill—including those Daniel and Kayla care about the most.

With the Horseman of Pestilence released, Daniel knows it’s time to step aside and let Kayla take the lead. Only she has the power to rival her father’s. But when Richard’s plot turns out to be darker than they imagined, their fight is met with more death and destruction—and an enemy who might be unbeatable, after all.


Hello, everyone! Vicki Leigh here, excited to be back for my third YA Scavenger Hunt. So excited to be on Team Red this time!

I’m also super pumped to be sharing with you my dream cast for Book Two of my DREAMCATCHER series, FIND ME IF YOU DARE. Pretty sure every author dreams about who they’d cast in their characters’ roles. I’ve had mine picked out since I started writing! So here you are—the main cast of FIND ME IF YOU DARE:


Plus get the sneak peak at the first chapter of  BECAUSE I LOVE YOU.

And don’t forget to enter the contest for a chance to win a ton of books by me, Vicki Leigh, and more! To enter, you need to know that my favorite number is 7. Add up all the favorite numbers of the authors on the RED TEAM and you’ll have all the secret code to enter for the grand prize!

CONTINUE THE HUNT

To keep going on your quest for the hunt, you need to check out the next author!



Don’t forget to enter my additional giveaway of a $10 Gift Card below!



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Review the Gilded Series and WIN Big!



It’s that time! My THANK YOU to all of you who helped bring the Gilded series to life. It’s because of YOU that I’m able to keep publishing books.

Giveaway: If you reviewed any of my books, I’m giving away the new 4G Kindle paperwhite with 300 PPL display to one lucky winner! (US only)

Bonus (International): If I get 100 reviews total for BRAZEN or 200 reviews total for SILVERN or 800 reviews for GILDED, I’ll add in a $25 gift card to your favorite book vendor (Indie, Barnes and Noble, Amazon, etc). Double that and I’ll double the amount.

It’s pretty simple. Just review GILDED and/or SILVERN and/or BRAZEN on Amazon and let me know by filling in the rafflecopter form below. Your review doesn’t have to be 5 stars or long winded. 1-2 sentences is fine! If you haven’t reviewed the books, go now and do so!

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Lists, Resolutions, & Action!

Every year, I make goals. I found this old post here where my goal was to finish GILDED. It’s crazy to think at that time I had no idea that book would someday go on to be published and hit #4 of all books on Amazon and #1 in the YA category.

I’ve found creating manageable goals that I have control of are powerful and effective. Here’s my process for goal setting and (more importantly), the action plan.

Reflection
One of the keys to developing goals is to reflect over what has worked and what hasn’t in the past.
1.     Pull out that calendar! Look back through the last year. See what you did and when you accomplished things. For writing, I love using Word Keeper. At the end of every writing session, I type in my daily word count. This program graphs my progress so in one glance I can see which months are my most productive months.
2.     Question yourself. What were my busy months? When am I most productive in the day? What projects did I enjoy working on the most? The least? What inspired me? What was discouraging?
3.     Friends and co-workers. Always surround yourself with people who are not only positive, but also push you to become a better you. This year take the time to build those relationships and let go of the relationships that are toxic. 
I’m a part of the MiG Writers, a group of six writers from all around the world, who critique each other and offer support. 
I also a part of the YA Chicks, a group of Florida writers. We tour together and offer school visits. Then I have my crit partners like Beth Revis and Casey McCormick who not only give me honest and deep critiques, but are great as sounding boards. Having these groups revitalizes and stimulates me professionally and mentality as well as offers that support system I need.

Goal Setting
http://intaward.org.mt/do-the-award/set-smart-goals/
Once you have a solid handle on what worked and what didn’t, create your goals for the new year. Remember:
1.     Make manageable goals. Goals are created so you can be successful.
2.     List your goals and post them in a visible location in your work place.
3.     Break down your goals into chunks. For instance, by early January my goal is to send my agent 3 chapters from two new YA projects I’m working on. My goal for February is to revise my middle grade project.
4.     All goals must be in your control. So getting a movie deal would not be on my list because I am not the person to decide if GILDED or THE PRINCESS AND THE PAGE would be picked up by a producer.
5.     Set up a support system. Find friends who will keep you accountable to hitting those goals. My MiG Writers Group emails each other from time to time with our goals and how we are doing on them. Here’s our post with examples. Debbie Ridpath Ohi set up a team on #Slack for a group of writers who wanted accountability. It’s a great place for me to tell the group my goal and then return with my results.

Action Plan
1.     For each goal, determine the actions to achieve that goal. For instance, if I want to finish a novel by February, then I need to write 2k a day. Am I having trouble finding time to write? Maybe I need to go to bed earlier so I can wake up earlier? Or cut out TV for two months so I can write for an extra hour that night.
2.     Rewards. Build into your schedule freedom days. Know that if you meet your weekly goal, then you get a day off. Or once you finish a draft of a book, celebrate by going out to dinner.

The Reach-for-the-Stars List
Last year I attended the Lucky 13 and One Four Writer’s Retreat. One of the exercises we did was to share something that we secretly really wanted for our writing career that was a big reach goal such as movie deal, selling or hitting a bestseller list. This is the list that is NOT in your control.
Why keep this kind of list?
Because it:
1.     Pushes me to be better.
2.     Forces me to not settle or get too comfortable.
3.     Allows me visualize hitting that next level.  
The important thing is to remember that this is a fun/dream list. If you find yourself getting discouraged or it’s dragging you into despair, then set this aside until there’s a time that you are able to pull it back out.

The most powerful aspect to goal setting is to be steadfast in your daily delivery. Think of your goals like a marathon—one mile at a time—until you reach the finish line. 

 

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