I might be one of about five people in the world who love January. The New Year always brings hope, and the chance to start afresh. It’s also an opportunity to set goals for the coming months. As I love making lists, this appeals to me. The timing is also fortuitous: Yesterday, I submitted ‘Luck of the Irish’ to the editor and agents who requested it, so it’s time to get cracking on a new story.
2011 was my year to focus on writing craft. I participated in several workshops during the first half of the year, as well as reading books on craft. Attending the RWA conference in New York City was a fantastic experience, both personally and professionally. Concentrating on writing theory, and applying the tools I acquired to my WIP, did mean it took me longer to complete ‘Luck of the Irish’ than I’d hoped, but I feel I learned a lot. ‘Luck of the Irish’ might not be perfect, but I know it’s much stronger than its predecessor.
I was fortunate enough to participate in the Romance Divas’ Mentor Program between March and June. My mentor was extremely helpful, and gave me some invaluable advice. She suggested I focus on improving one craft element per story. For ‘Luck of the Irish’, I chose plot structure with a particular concentration on constructing strong scenes. For my next story, I want to work on my use of dialogue and nonverbal communication.
I’m keeping my 2012 goals focused on writing. I want to complete one novella and one novel of by the end of the year. The novella idea might turn into a longer book, but I want to start off with a bare-bones story of around 30K. The novella/potential novel will be a historical romance set in Ireland in the early Twentieth Century. A hard sell, perhaps, but I figure I have nothing to lose by trying. It’s not like I’m a contracted author with deadlines. Besides which, it’s the sort of story I’d love to read, and I think readers can tell when an author feels passionate about the tale they’re telling.
I hope to have the novella/first draft of novel done by the end of March, then take a couple of months off (I’m expecting another baby), and begin writing again in June. I’ll probably start back with Inkygirl’s 250 or 500 Words a Day Challenge to draft another contemporary romance. A page or two a day should be manageable, even with a newborn.
2011 was the year of slow reading. I read 47 novels last year, down from 152 last year. Only 19 were romance, and the vast majority of those were published by Harlequin. I read 5 romances published by the so-called Big Six New York publishers. One reason I read so few books is down to a lack of time. 2011 was crazy busy, and I invested most of my spare time on my writing, or writing-related reading. Another reason is my lack of satisfaction with the variety of settings and tropes on offer from the traditional publishers. Either I’m bang out of luck in that what’s popular at the moment doesn’t appeal to me, or publishers are playing it safe and not publishing the sort of envelope-pushing romances I miss from the Nineties and early 2000s. For more on this topic, Sandy at All About Romance has a great blog post entitled Romance Rant (Volume XXXVI).
How was 2011 for you reading wise? Did you discover any great new-to-you authors? If you write, did you achieve your goals?