Thursday, December 29, 2011

Favorite Books For 2011

I enjoyed a lot of books this year, so it was really hard to narrow them down to my top ten.  I decided to go with the ones that I talked about the most and stayed in my head the longest.  To me that’s what make a good book, you’re thinking about the characters later.   Most of these aren’t Christian fiction just in case you’re wondering.  I read all over. They are also are not in any type of order.

Something Old, Something New by Beverly Jenkins

Wading Home by Rosalyn Story

Night Hawk by Beverly Jenkins

Zen Cooper Woman – Child Ghetto Genius by Angelia Vernon Menchan

Wench by Dolen Perkins-Valdez

Delilah by Shelia Goss

A Good Excuse To Be Bad by Miranda Parker

Heart Revealed, A: A Novel (Winds of Change) by Julie Lessman

The Resurrection of Nat Turner, Part 1: The Witnesses: A Novel by Sharon Ewell Foster

Never Dead by Jumata Emill Jones

Friday, December 23, 2011

Revisiting Goals For 2011

At this time of the year I try to revisit my goals for the year. I had high hopes for this year. I had a book I was working on and two books I wanted to complete. I thought I would be attending the ACFW writer conference for the first time, and presenting at conference.

It’s good to have goals because you have some sort of road map to move you forward.

Life was wild this year, but I did a lot more writing than I expected. I did two challenges this year. One was the Bible in 90 days and A Novel in 30 days. Both pushed me to my highest limits. I finished one and didn't finish the other.

I'm glad I did both challenges. I always wanted to read the whole bible but I would get half way through and stop. This challenge let me read small chunks of the bible until I finished it. I will admit it was a hard challenge because it made me realize that I needed to make time for my bible reading, something I had a hard time doing. I'm still working on it, but I'm getting better at it.

The Novel in 30 days was an amazing challenge because I honestly didn't think I could write 50,000 words in 30 days. I'd never committed myself to writing that much or on a daily basis. I usually write when the muse hits. I have that luxury because I don't have a deadline hanging over my head.

I finished the challenge with 35,000 words to add to my WIP which was fantastic because I was on my way to completing one of my goals for the year.

Before I started this post I went in search of my goals post and realized I didn’t write one for this year. I did write my goals in my journal I keep.

2011 GOALS

Complete Purple Kids
Final edit Trust/Wait
Blog (2 times a Week)
Column (2 times a month)
Attend the ACFW Conference
Attend the Write The Plan Conference

I believe I completed Purple Kids when I finished the Novel in 30 days challenge. I’m still working on the edits for Wait and Trust but I believe they will be done by the end of the year.

I didn’t write in my blog the way I wanted but I’m getting better at it. I learned that I need to pick a day and write my posts instead of just writing when I feel like it. I found Sunday evening works for me, so I’ll use that day in the future.

I completed my column goal which helped me create what I hope will turn into an eBook, How to create an online marketing plan.

I didn’t attend either conferences, one due to my budget and the other one was cancelled. However I did attend two amazing conferences. The Fall Into Literacy conference held here in St. Louis in September. I learned so much and look forward to next year’s conference. I might even present a workshop. Need to come up with an idea.

I also attended the Show Me The Blog –Social Media and Blogging conference in October. It also was held in St. Louis. I learned a lot about blogging and I will be attending this conference again next year. I definitely will be getting my ideas together for this to be one of its presenters.

I do believe this year my writing started on a new path. Now that I’m able to see the vision for my writing, I’m no longer stumbling on my path. I have a course I’ve set for myself and I look forward to seeing what’s down this new path.

Did you complete your goals for 2011?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Lessons Learned This Year – 2011

You Don’t Have To Be Alone

I started the critique group last year and we continued this year.  I looked forward to our monthly meetings.  Sharing our writing, writing successes and failures helped me a lot.  I also found a community online when I attended an online writing course.  We posted daily our writing goals and encouraged one another.

I also have a new writing mentor, Dr. Linda Beed, who has been a blessing to me spiritually and mentally on this writing journey.  Her weekly encouragements have helped me to complete my editing.

Writing On Schedule

The Novel in 30 days taught me about writing on a schedule and knowing how much I can write if I have to.  When I set a scheduled time, I write and don’t let anything interrupt me.  I found that I can write for an hour and write about 1500 words.  That’s not bad for an hour.

Know Your Budget

I was excited to know the ACFW conference was coming to St. Louis and I really wanted to attend.  However when the date started to get closer and I had to make a decision.  I had to sit down and look at my budget and think about if attending the conference was a good idea.  I hated to admit it, but at the time it wasn’t.  My budget had taken a major hit with my mother’s death and other family emergencies, I had to let that goal go.

I learned that when I’m planning my schedule for next year to look at the costs of each event. What will I get out each event and to also look locally.  I was able to attend two conferences this year and the prices were very reasonable. I was able to do a lot of networking, which was worth the admission.

I also attended an online writing course on plotting and character building.  I learned so much in that course, it helped me be prepared to accept the challenge of the Novel in a Month.  This was a free course and I hope next year to find a few more courses to attend.

You’re Never Prepared For Death

I started the year out with a mother and I’m finding it very hard to know I will end this year without my mother.  I don’t care how sick someone is, you’re never ready for them to die.  It is probably the hardest thing you have to handle in your life time.  I can honestly say after my mother died, I think I went into a cocoon.  I was living on the outside but inside I was growing in ways I never knew I could.  Her death taught me not to take life for granted and to stop talking about what you want to do and do it.  My mother use to tell me that all the time, but I wasn’t willing to come out of my comfort zone.  My biggest regret is that she’ll never see my published books.  I know it will happen mainly because of her loyal support.  She saw my books before I did.  So in her honor I will make sure I get to see them too.

I also lost a writer friend this year, Leslie Esdaile or L.A. Banks.  I was still grieving over my mother when I learned of her death.  It hit me hard too.  She was an amazing writer who supported SORMAG since day one.  She is the reason we were mentioned in Essence Magazine.  It hurts my heart to know she will no longer grace the earth.  However her legacy to me is to follow your dream and write your butt off.  Leslie wrote in different genres and she made it work.  She inspired me to branch off into something new.  I’m so glad I did.  I am truly blessed to have known Leslie.

These are a few of my lessons I’ve learned over the year.  If you’ve been reading my blog you’ve seen a few more.  If this is your first visit, take a moment to read some older posts. I shared a few other lessons.

What lessons have you learned this year?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Seeing the Vision

I wrote my first book at the age of 16.  I wanted to be the Black Jackie Collins.  I didn’t have a clue.  I dreamed of being a best selling author, but asking me how many people read my book?  My mother and her bestfriend, who took my hand written story and typed it up.  She couldn’t believe a 16 year old could write a hot romance.  What did I know about love.
I worked on that book for years.  Then I joined the Navy and created another story that I worked on for years.  I began to learn the craft and I submitted my story but at the time they weren’t taking African-American stories, so I continued to work on it.
As I look back over the years of my writing, I realized that I never had the real vision of a published book.  It was cool to say I was writing, but I wasn’t submitting, so there was no hope of seeing it published.

I think I’ve talked about fear a lot here and how I’ve let it take over me.  In October I attended a blogging conference and I will say it opened my eyes to a lot of things.  I had a discussion with someone and we discussed seeing the vision.
For the first time I could see my vision with my writing.  I know where I want to go with my writing and I know what genres I want to write.  I can see the books with my name on them and I can see the readers taking them off the shelves to purchase.
I like knowing where I’m going.  Believe me being out there not having a vision is hard path to go.  I don’t recommend it for anyone.  Take time in 2012 to see what your vision is for your writing.
Do you have a vision for your writing?

Thursday, December 08, 2011

How To Have A Successful NANOWRIMO

Do you plan on participating in the NANOWRIMO for 2012? I’d like to offer a few tips to help you have a successful NANOWRIMO.

SET REALISTIC DAILY WORD COUNT - If you write 1500 words a day don’t set a 3000 word goal and stress yourself out trying to reach it. All you’ll end up doing is shutting down and not completing your goal.

PLOT OUT YOUR BOOK – I recommend you do this before you start the NANOWRIMO, maybe a month before. It’s nice to know where your story is going and you won't get stuck trying to figure out your plot as you write.

LISTEN TO YOUR CHARACTERS – I plotted out the story, but my characters decided to go a different way. Instead of trying to stay true to the plot, I let the words flow and was surprised by how the story developed. Sometimes the characters know best.

LIFE HAPPENS – Life still goes on as you write, so be prepared for emergencies or happy events. If you have the time, write extra words, because there will be some days you might not feel like writing or something happens that prevents you from writing. You’ll have those extra words to help move you forward and you won’t be so behind on your writing goal.

HAVE FUN – If you’re not enjoying the writing, you won’t meet your goals. It will feel like you’re forcing yourself to write. This won’t help your story and you’ll probably end up dropping out. Have fun with it; let your imagination go free.

REWARD YOURSELF - One of the things I looked forward to was my reward for my commitment.  I had two rewards for myself. One if I completed the 50,000 and one if I finished the 30 days.  I saved a copy of Night Hawk by Beverly Jenkins as my reward for staying the course of the NANO.  The 50,000 reward will be saved for another goal.

These are just a few tips I learned in my journey last month.   Hopefully they will help you on your journey.

Please share what you learned or share a recommendation to help others make their 2012 goals.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011


I signed up for the NANOWRIMO in hope of adding more words to my young adult WIP. If I made the 50,000 goal that would be fantastic, but I wanted to commit myself to writing everyday.

No I didn’t win this year, I finished with 35,000 words. I’m excited about those words, because it moved my story from 26,000 to 61,000 words. I think that’s great.

I want to share a few things I learned last month.

LIFE DOESN”T STOP - If you expect this, do not sign up for NANOWRIMO. Life doesn’t stop. Sometimes it throws you a few curve balls. Mine were a few tough ones. My God son was shot and was in intensive care (he is still in intensive care) my grandmother died. Yes some serious stuff.  I honestly had a few days that I didn’t want to look at the computer screen or think about my story. I felt bad about this but I realized you can’t force the muse.

WRITE EVERYDAY – Even if you write a 100 words, you’ve added to your goal. I tried to write something everyday even on the bad days I found myself writing something. I might not have met my daily goal, but I wrote something.

DON'T BEAT YOURSELF UP – The goal of NANOWRIMO is to write. If you don’t write everyday this might seem foreign to you, but you have to get out of your comfort zone and write. Don’t worry about if the words are perfect or make sense, write. Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t make your goal move forward to the next day and write. You might surprise yourself and exceed your goal.

WEEKENDS ARE HARD – I found the weekends were my hardest time to write because I normally wrote on my lunch break and at night. On the weekends, life takes over and it was so hard to get time to myself to write. Sometimes I could get up early and write, but with a teenager in the house, that was rare.

MOTIVATION – I highly recommend joining a group or do NANOWRIMO with a friend you can check in with daily.  This so helped me to stay motivated and not give up. I loved reading how well they were doing in reaching their goals. It helped motivate me to continue writing.

I want to say that I’m glad I did NANOWRIMO this year.  It helped motivate me to finish the story I was working on.  It introduced me to some amazing writers who I look forward to reading their books one day.  It showed me that I can commit to this writing and reach my goals. 

Stop by Thursday and I will share my recommendations for a successful NANOWRIMO.

Did you WIN this year? Share your experiences in NANOWRIMO.