Goals for 2017

In the past, my January posts have generally been about how to accomplish as much as possible in the new year. I hate resolutions. In this post, in which I detailed how important it is to set a measurable goal, I said:

[Resolutions] tend to mask a lot of self-hate pretending to be good for you.

I’ll never not feel that way, I think. However, as I said previously, I do believe in commitments and measurable goals.

I have lots of writing goals for this year. I’m writing a 40k novella in January, a full-length from March-July, and finishing a partially complete full-length from August to November. I’ve learned over the last two years of increased productivity that I need December off. Not just because life is so busy, but because I need a break. I’ll be doing lots of editing over the coming year, as well. All those first drafts have to be shaped into something useful.

Personally, I have two main goals. One, I’m giving up my beloved sweet tea. I’m going to miss it–a lot. But, I’m going to replace it with water to make a healthier choice.

Second, I’m going to Dirty Dance. Yes, you read that right. I bought this DVD from Amazon and plan to use it every day, slowly increasing my exercise time over the months ahead, to rebuild the muscles that have stagnated over the last few years of my illness (I have fibromyalgia).

I’m excited to start getting healthier and I believe if I apply the methods I’ve used to increase my writing productivity, I’ll have a lot of success.

Tell me all about your New Year commitments. You can even use that horrible “R” word (resolution).

About Lori Sizemore

Lover of nail polish, pens, her Kindle, and fresh coffee. She likes romance filled with messy, real characters and lots of snarky banter. Reading was (and still is!) her BFF; when she discovered writing she fell in love. Come for the snark. Stay for the story.

Elves vs. Grinches

There are two types of people during Christmas, excluding those who don’t celebrate Christmas. Which is totally cool, they just aren’t part of this dataset.

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  • The happy, warm-fuzzy Christmas people we’ll call Elves. Elves have their tree up before Thanksgiving, all their shopping is done, and their gifts are already wrapped with perfect, real ribbons and handmade bows.
  • The so-it-begins people we’ll call Grinches. Grinches put their tree up when (if) they think of it. They see the Christmas decor go up in the stores in September and think, “Seriously?” They practice the giving of gift cards because they can’t choose a gift.

elves-vs-grinchesI am a Grinch. I used to be an elf. I would decorate the tree (by myself, because my family likes it done but doesn’t like to do it) and look at each ornament before placing it on the tree. Every year, for 20 years, I’ve bought each of my kids an ornament a year, so that when they started out Christmas in their own homes, they’d have a box full of special ornaments. I loved wrapping presents so much my uncle would pay me to wrap his wife’s gifts. I’d have done it for free (I was a teen and needed the pocket change). I adored Christmas.

I’m not even sure what changed, or more specifically, why it changed. One year, my old artificial tree was in need of replacement. I didn’t feel like looking for the perfect tree, so I bought a four-foot collapsable circle tree. You couldn’t call it anything like a tree, except it was vaguely triangle shaped. It was made of circles of wire (covered in silver tinsel) that got bigger the lower the tree went. I bought a handful of cheap ornaments, all in teal (because teal screams Christmas, right?), and called it done. I think my parents and brother felt sad for me. And the kids. God bless the kids at Christmas.

This was when I became a Grinch, when I finally crossed over to the Dark Side. That year, Christmas was just too much. Too much work, too much effort, too much caring. I don’t remember it being a bad year–I don’t think I was depressed. I was just… done being an elf.

Now, I’m not a full-on Grinch. I like sitting in the dark with the tree lights on. I like seeing the presents, quickly covered in paper and that’s it, pile up under the tree. I love picking out those yearly ornaments. But, I hate the commercialism of Christmas.

This year, I’m making my family’s gifts. Food for my brother, a lapghan for my dad, a scarf for my mom, and cat-butt coasters for my aunt (she requested them–she’s weird). It’s my way of bringing back what Christmas is supposed to be about.

What’s your favorite part of Christmas (you elves, you) or (if you’re a Grinch, like me) your least favorite part?

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P.S. Don’t forget my novel, Infamous, is releasing in one week. Buy links and a blurb to follow:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo
All Romance | BookStrand | Goodreads

Justine Montgomery, daughter of a divorced beauty queen and TV magnate, is a tabloid disaster after her infamous sex tape. She’s so desperate to help save her family’s home she turns to her deal-making dad. Can she prove to him she’s cut out for a career in television or will she lose it all?

Sawyer has his own past and a successful career is his only goal. Seeing Justine fail would mean the promotion of a lifetime, but things get complicated when he develops feelings for her. Suddenly, the lines between work, life, sex, and love are blurry.

They will have to overcome the bitterness of a rejected ex, the controlling actions of her father, and the half-truths they’re telling one another to forge a lasting partnership both on the job and off the clock.

About Lori Sizemore

Lover of nail polish, pens, her Kindle, and fresh coffee. She likes romance filled with messy, real characters and lots of snarky banter. Reading was (and still is!) her BFF; when she discovered writing she fell in love. Come for the snark. Stay for the story.

It Takes a Village: The Benefits of Writing Groups

it-takes-a-villageHere at Heart-Shaped Glasses, we’re not just authors who blog together, we’re family.

We started as a private online critique group which has evolved into so much more. Yes, there’s critiquing, which is invaluable. Especially when it’s from people who focus just as much with what’s right as what’s not working. I trust these ladies with my precious stories, I trust their experience, which probably (added together) is a lifetime of writing.

I love that we all bring something different to the table. We each have strengths and weaknesses, not only in our writing but in our critique styles. I’m constantly learning. 

The next best thing about being part of a great writer’s group? The cheerleading. We’re all at different places in our careers, going down different paths of publishing, writing different genres. But the support we give each other transcends all those things. 

I get hurrahs when I succeed at something, even if it’s meeting my wordcount, and sympathy when things are going rough.

Which brings me to my next point on why writer’s groups (the right ones) are awesome: trust. It takes trust to upload a first draft for critique. It requires trust to say, “Hey, I’m having a rough time in my life right now, and this is why.” And I’ve never, ever seen anything shared in that private group shared anywhere else. It’s like a vault. A vault of caring, kindness, and support.

We’re not accepting new members right now, but don’t worry. Your perfect writing group is out there somewhere. Here are some articles on finding and getting the most from writing groups. Read all about them, then find your perfect writing home.

Tell us about your experience in writer’s groups. Has it been more positive, like mine, or do you have horror stories?

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About Lori Sizemore

Lover of nail polish, pens, her Kindle, and fresh coffee. She likes romance filled with messy, real characters and lots of snarky banter. Reading was (and still is!) her BFF; when she discovered writing she fell in love. Come for the snark. Stay for the story.

Happy Fall, Y’all

Happy FallThe kiddos (for those of us that have said children) are back in school, the air is beginning to cool off (finally), and the leaves are starting to fall.

It’s that time of year, again, to snuggle up inside with a good book and the hot drink of your choice.

Fall has always been my favorite time of the year. More so than spring, fall reminds me of new beginnings (all those new school years for me and then the kids) meant possibility. Anything could happen, there were fresh books to be read, and new fall fashion to wear. I loved the start of a school year. I’d make new friends (I told myself), have a makeover (this never actually happened), and find a new boy (I was not the many-boyfriends type). I was, and am, a nerd.

I live in West Virginia; four season country I’ve heard it called. We have beautiful fall foliage at the end of September through October. I love all those colors. Even though I know it means the leaves will all fall off and the trees will look depressingly naked by winter, I can’t not revel in the reds, oranges, yellows, and purples. It’s like someone got creative with one of those coloring book apps, the ones designed to relax you. Autumn colors are my zen.

Finally, my favorite part–the staying inside and reading part. No one’s telling you that you should be outside, enjoying the hotter than Hades weather (not a summer person, here). It’s perfectly acceptable to get a coffee, cocoa, or whatever your Keurig can dream up and settle in with a book. I’ve got Susan Elizabeth’s Phillips‘ new one (First Star I See Tonight) resting on my e-reader now, just waiting for me to open it up. At the moment, I’m reading (and enjoying) Lover’s Leap by Kimberly Keyes.

What’s your favorite part of fall? And, by the way, what book would you recommend?

I need more books, people. Fall lasts for three months, you know.

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About Lori Sizemore

Lover of nail polish, pens, her Kindle, and fresh coffee. She likes romance filled with messy, real characters and lots of snarky banter. Reading was (and still is!) her BFF; when she discovered writing she fell in love. Come for the snark. Stay for the story.

School Supply Sales: The Most Wonderful Time of the Year (for Writers) 

writer supplies

Recently, I had to pick up a few things at Wal-mart. None of those things consisted of writing tools in any way.

Nonetheless, the siren’s call of the school supply aisle led me down the rabbit hole.

I bought the most beautiful novel notebook for the next full-length novel I plan to write. It’s already in plans, and a place to put notes is win-win. Plus, it’s just so freaking pretty.

Next, as most of you know from previous posts, I use a calendar to keep track of what needs done, what I’ve accomplished, and if I write every day. I’d been planning to invest in something a little more elaborate, with more room for notes next year because I’ve been doing this for two years.

Instead of waiting for the end of the year, I found a beautiful, durable “school planner” to pick up from July 2016 through June 2017. It’s got plenty of room for notes (I generally write what I’ve accomplished and on what project, sometimes working on multiple projects in one day). Even better, the cover is so durable, I don’t have to worry about rips and tears when I lay it aside for the day (or pull it in and out as I progress).

I put a limit on myself there of $15  and bought my daughter who actually attends school some token supplies so I wouldn’t feel so guilty. Still, for me, this is the best time of the year, combining my love of writing supplies with sales.

What’s your best writerly find and did you pay well for the item or catch it on sale?

About Lori Sizemore

Lover of nail polish, pens, her Kindle, and fresh coffee. She likes romance filled with messy, real characters and lots of snarky banter. Reading was (and still is!) her BFF; when she discovered writing she fell in love. Come for the snark. Stay for the story.

Self-Styled Writers Retreats, Part Two

writer retreat 2This is the second part of last month’s post, in which I describe the outcome of our writing get-together. I’m writing this blog post in June because I wanted our “results” to be fresh in my mind.

Please note that while I’m dividing up what we completed, a great deal of it was things we accomplished together.

I:

  • Did a complete read-through of a 96k manuscript without some of the other POV scenes in it for consistency and pacing.
  • Finished plotting a full-length novel from the mid-point to the end.
  • Came up with my catchy new tagline.
  • Edited my manuscripts blurb and tagline.
  • Got through one half of my first-round of big edits on my manuscript.

Our friend:

  • Added over 20k words to a story she was taking from novella-length to full-length.
  • Plotted a series of fantasy novels.
  • Worked on her secret project. I’m not sure of all the details, but I know she was happy with the amount she accomplished.

Landra:

  • Finished the final seven chapters on a full-length contemporary romance she’s been writing.
  • Outlined and plotted not one, but two stories.
  • Edited the entire second 50k novella in her Alternate History series.

Together, we all accomplished far more than we would have alone. Not only were we there to brainstorm with one another, but when you’re the only one in the room not working, you pick up your notebook or your laptop, and you start again.

We went out for dinner, there was an afternoon in the hot tup (with a writing notebook, to be fair), there was happy hour at the hotel (or in our room) every evening–but we still managed to accomplish an amazing amount of work in four days.

I will (and hope to) do it again in a heartbeat.

Have you had a similar experience? What’s your best tip for working in tandem?

About Lori Sizemore

Lover of nail polish, pens, her Kindle, and fresh coffee. She likes romance filled with messy, real characters and lots of snarky banter. Reading was (and still is!) her BFF; when she discovered writing she fell in love. Come for the snark. Stay for the story.

  • OUR LATEST BUZZ!

    The first two books in the Cupid's Cafe series release in June by Lori Sizemore and Landra Graf *** Lori Sizemore's Infamous released on December 14. *** Julie Jarnagin's Cowgirl in the Kitchen is available now. *** Bethanne Strasser LETTERS FROM HOME from Entangled Publishing is available now! *** Nina Croft's latest books, Her Fantasy Husband, a hot contemporary romance from Entangled's Brazen line, and The Order Boxed Set, a compilation of the three full length novels, plus a new novella, exclusive to the boxed set, both released in April 2016 *** Debora Dennis's holiday novella, CUPCAKES & CUPID is available.