Friday, January 04, 2008

Days of Dreams: A Writer's New Year

I love this time of year. Now that the holiday trappings have been put away, I get a chance to reflect on the past year, and to look forward to the new one. Goals are very much on my mind.

Last year was a good writing year for me. I finished the second draft of my second book (which I'm still tweaking). I attended the RWA national conference in Dallas, and met one of the top agents in the business. I was a contest finalist. I spent a weekend at the home of Susan Wiggs, along with some writing colleagues I've gotten close to. In 2007, this web site went up, built by my college-age daughter. Now I have two blogs, this one and another that is concerned with exercise and nutrition, called "Off the Couch and At the Table."

Speaking of exercise and nutrition, this year my efforts really paid off. Besides sticking with my exercise program, I improved my diet. The result? I lost TWENTY-FIVE pounds. (The picture on the home page was taken before the weight loss.)

All in all, a very good year. In 2008, I hope to be submitting both my books to agents with the goal of representation.

What are your goals? I'd love to hear them.

To help in goal-setting, this year I've asked myself and some writing colleagues three questions. Here they are, along with my answers.

Question 1: Sit back and close your eyes for a moment and imagine this is December 31, 2008. What dreams (or concrete goals) would you like to be able to say you've made come true by then?

My answer: On December 31st, I'd love to tell you I've obtained an excellent literary agent to represent my works of fiction. I'd like to say I've tweaked my two novels to make them the best they can be, so I can proudly submit them to my agent. Since that will require many hours sitting at the computer, I'd like to say I've been steadfast with my exercise routines, that I've maintained my current nutrition standards of minimal saturated fat and lots of vegetables and fruits. I also have goals for my "personal" life -- to be a good wife and mother, a good friend, a good sister and aunt, and to keep a good house.

Question 2: On December 31, 2008, if you've met these goals or made those dreams come true, what will your life be like? What changes will you see?

My answer: I'll be full of excitement and energy. Having a great literary agent will tell me I'm on my way to being a published author. And, with the vibrant health and energy that come with good nutrition and exercise, I'll feel especially ready. Succeeding with my weight loss goal will make me feel really good about myself, and I'll love being able to wear more stylish clothes. For me, success with diet and exercise and success as a writer are linked in my mind.

Question 3: What specific challenges do you face right now?

My answer: I feel like I never have enough time to get everything done. Another problem is that once I get writing, I don't want to get up to do anything else, and that includes exercise! When I'm working fast and furious on a novel, or on anything involving writing, I don't even want to take the time to eat right.

Those are my thoughts. What about yours?

Perhaps you can ask yourself these three questions as you formulate your goals for the new year. If you'd like to post your answers here, you are welcome to do so.

I wish you the best in 2008. May it be a great year for us all!

xo, ciao,


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Blogger Sniz said...

Well, my goals are just to get my son through eighth grade (he's going to public school next year), write when I can, and lose 25 pounds. I'm not quite where you are yet, but I sure relate to when you're writing, you forget about everything else. So what's your second book about? Who have you sent the first to?

6:54 PM  
Blogger Cat Schield said...

Your goals are inspiring. I especially like how balanced you are with your writing, exercise and family. I hope you keep us up to date how things are going. I have a great feeling about this year!

4:40 PM  
Blogger Rita St. Claire said...

Hi, "Sniz,"

Getting your son through eighth grade is the worthiest goal, don't you think? I remember when my daughter was in eighth grade -- that was a year of emotional growth for her, and, actually, a pleasure for me to see her grow.

GOOD LUCK to you on the twenty-five pounds! I can vouch that it will make a big difference. And, I hate to say it, but I need to lose at least twenty-five more.

My second book is about a young businesswoman who inherits her father's ballroom dance studio and wants to fulfill her promise to him to win for the studio the local "academy award" of ballroom dance. Love blooms with her studio's best student and presents many complications.

As a "test market," feeling pretty sure my first book wasn't ready, I sent requested partials to several agents, all of whom passed on it, but most of them gave me some good feedback. That told me I needed to work on it more, so that's what I'm doing now.

How about you? What are you writing and what are you submitting?

10:46 PM  
Blogger Rita St. Claire said...

Hi, Cat,

Good to hear from you! I'm really trying to balance writing with exercise, and of course, family. What are you own goals for this year? Would you like to share?

By the way, "Cat" and "Sniz," since writing is so sedentary, if you're interested in camraderie regarding diet and exercise, I've started a mutual support blog for writers and others. Already it has about ten "members."

You can click here to go to that blog, which is called "Off the Couch and at the Table."

10:53 PM  
Blogger Sniz said...

I just wrote this really long comment and when I tried to publish it, it disappeared. Waaaa!

My story started out as a medieval, but after a while, I realized it works better set in the late 1700's, early 1800's. It starts in England, moves through France and into a fictional country set between France and Spain called Haldor, and ends up on the American frontier. Those are just backdrops to the relationships in the book, though. It is very character-driven.

I just watched "Save the Last Dance" and so was thinking of that when you said your story involved ball room dancing. What kind of feedback have you been getting? What kind of publisher are you going for?

4:39 PM  
Blogger Rita Horiguchi, writing as Rita St. Claire said...

Hi, Miz Sniz,

Actually, the first few pages of my ballroom dancing book finaled in the first contest I entered it in, and also it took honorable mention in the NJRWA "Put Your Heart in a Book" contest. I've entered it in other contests, and gotten some good solid feedback as to changes I should make. I did read the first few pages to an agent when I was at the RWA national conference in April, and she liked many things about it, and made some suggestions. So, now, I'm working on these things. I've been kinda overwhelmed with the holidays and also I'm tweaking my first book, too, so I haven't really had much time to tweak my ballroom dancing book. I haven't actually submitted it to anyone yet, although I did get a request for a partial from Mills and Boon. I have to tweak it before I send it to them, though.

I like the sound of your book! A fictional country between France and Spain--sounds great! Have you ever been to the Basque country? It's not really a country, but a region, part of which is in France and part of which is in northern Spain. We were there a few years ago, and enjoyed it very much.

Your book starts in England? So does my first book, so we have something in common! Actually, my family and I lived in England for a couple of years, and a move from England back to the U.S. (California) was a convenient way to start my book.

What made you decide to set your book in England, France, Spain, and Haldor? (I ask because I'm a great fan of setting, and when I write the setting almost becomes a character, too.)

8:19 PM  

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