Buh bye 2013, Hullo 2014!

Phew, 2013 is almost over! Gotta say, it’s been a pretty tough year on multiple fronts. BUT, it’s ending on a high note–YAY!!

After several months of negotiating, I’ve started a new day job. It’s been a huge shift moving from a job where I had to juggle acute inpatient stabilization of folks, outpatient medication management, hospital psychiatric consultation, and mental health medication management in collaboration with the HIV specialists to a more focused role working with patients in the crisis intervention unit and crisis inpatient unit. It’s a different aspect of the continuum of psychiatric care and I see people in the most acute (high level of symptoms) stages of their illnesses. Since my first year of residency (8 1/2 years ago!), I knew I wanted to do Psychiatric ER work and I’m finally able to do it!

My new schedule (second shift, AKA evenings) allows me to be free of the alarm clock (except for Saturday mornings, LOL) AND I have more energy to write in the morning. After only a couple weeks, I feel much more refreshed and energized. Talk about a relief!

On the writing front, I struggled with burn out. Like SERIOUS I’m-gonna-quit-writing burn out. It was after writing and re-writing THREE novels in a FOUR month period of time. I met all my deadlines and polished up the manuscripts until they sparkled, but by the end, all my creative juices had been used up. *sad face*

Looking back, I can say the hard work paid off. But LORD, I wouldn’t want to have to do it again!

Anyway, born out of this revolving door of drafts, edits, and copyedits are:

TSAVO PRIDE (a self-pubbed, YA paranormal romance/horror short story spin-off to NEW PRIDE and SHIFTING PRIDE)

Tsavo Pride4

ENDURE ( YA Dystopian pubbed July 2013)

Endure_ByLauraDiamond-800x1200

EVOKE (YA Dystopian; sequel to ENDURE; coming January 20, 2013 by Renegade YA)

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THE ZODIAC COLLECTOR (YA adventure coming May 2014 by Spencer Hill Press)

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PLUS, I have an essay in the Indie-pubbed collection titled: INDIESTRUCTIBLE: INSPIRING STORIES FROM THE PUBLISHING JUNGLE. 100% of proceeds are donated to BUILDON.org, a movement which breaks the cycle of poverty, illiteracy, and low expectations through service and education.

Indie cover_final

So, what’s in store for 2014?

  • I somehow got my writing mojo back in late 2013 (like Nov/Dec late, LOL!), so I’m not quitting. 😉
  • EVOKE and THE ZODIAC COLLECTOR will hit the virtual shelves as E-books and paperbacks.
  • SUNSET MOON, a YA novella, will go through editing and polishing for a LORE anthology.
  • BEAT, a YA thriller will be drafted (hopefully I’ll finish it by the end of February).
  • I *might* try querying agents again. *bites fingernails*
  • I NEED to get through my gargantuan (and still growing) TBR pile.

Ok, so it’s your turn to share. How was your 2013 and what’re working on in 2014?

Flake-out Friday–February First

That’s one heck of an alliteration in the title there, eh? I couldn’t resist.

Anyway, I’m commenting on it being February solely because I can’t believe how fast January has gone by. I mean, seriously, wasn’t it just Christmas, like, five minutes ago? (Yes, I said that in a Valley Girl voice.)

At the beginning of the month, all the insulation in the attic had been removed (it was vermiculite–a substance often contaminated with asbestos) and I was freezing. Let me say that again. FREEZING.

Four weeks later, the entire house is fully insulated (walls and attic), and now I’m sweltering. YES. SWELTERING.

LOL!

Construction continues as a crew works to re-side the house. It’s hard to see maybe in these pics, but here’s the work in progress:

house holes

The circular holes are where the insulation was blown in.

This area has been fully sided.

siding in progress 2

I had the choice of like 30 siding colors. Because the house is Greek Revival, I fully intended on keeping the white. When I informed the fella directing the project of my plan, he was like, “Well, keep the samples, think about it for a few days. You could have different colors for the soffets, corners, molding…it’s all up to you. There’s lots to choose from.”

I chose white. For everything. (The shutters, when fixed, will still be black.)

siding in progressWhat I like most is how the siding really keeps to the style of the house.

Although, I’ll prolly have to replace all the windows next. They look kind of…old, LOL!

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As for writing, I’m editing my short story, TSAVO PRIDE. I have a trailer and a cover–WOOT!–so hopefully things will be in line for an early spring release. I hope you guys like it. It’s horror, which is different from NEW PRIDE and SHIFTING PRIDE, but it’s based on some folklore in SHIFTING PRIDE. 😉

I’m also slowly drafting the sequel, FRACTURED PRIDE. It’s gonna be good, folks, I pwommiss.

How was January for youse guys? What’re your plans for February? Whose gonna see WARM BODIES? And what about BEAUTIFUL CREATURES??? 😉

Happy New Year!

So, 2012 is here. If the Mayans are right, we only have a few months left to do whatever we plan to while on this planet.

The natural follow up to this is a discussion on goals. (Never mind that I’m not really buying the whole Doomsday in December thing.)

Last year, I wrote a list of writerly goals. I met about half of them. But I’m not disappointed, considering I had a huge change in my work responsibilities and I had a huge battle with my mojo over the past couple of months.

This year, I’m not going to write down goals. Why?

I don’t wanna.

Some may think that’s lame, but I don’t. I know what my overall goal is:

GET PUBLISHED.

BUT, I can’t put a timeline to that. All I can do is try my best every day. If that means slamming out 5000 words or doing absolutely nothing, that’s gonna have to be good enough.

Tell me folks, what’s your approach to goals?

Be sure to send me a writerly related psychiatric question so I can address it here on Mental Health Mondays. Check out Lydia’s Medical Monday (she’s talking about telekinesis today. Cool!!!) and Sarah Fine’s The Strangest Situation.

Cheers!

Sisterhood of the Traveling Blog–Writing Goals

 Can I get a woot-woot for the New Year? *Woot!*

This month, Deb asks the pertinent and timely question:

What are your writing goals for 2011?

Last week, I featured two posts on goals. One focused on how to’s and the other focused on my approach to goals. Today, I’ll actually share my list of writing goals for 2011.

Drum roll please!

  1. Get feedback for rewrite of TALENT’S BLOOD while tackling the dreaded query letter. (Already in progress.)
  2. Get *much* better title for TALENT’S BLOOD, THE REWRITE. (I’m thinking ENDURE…?).
  3. Revise TALENT’S BLOOD, THE REWRITE.
  4. Take a Xanax (maybe several), then query agents for TALENT’S BLOOD, THE REWRITE.
  5. Ignore the sting of the R’s. (Again, the Xanax will help with that.)
  6. Rewrite TALENT’S BLOOD, THE REWRITE again. (Um, I’m hoping NOT to have to do this one.)
  7. Finish MG adventure. (It’s 1/2 done and the outline is there for me to resume when ready!)
  8. Outline and write a MG (as of yet untitled) adventure with a twist. (This one will require a lot of research.)
  9. Do you think I’ll have an agent yet? Show of hands, please.
  10. Have my writerly buds pull me back from the brink of quitting. Again.
  11. Revise DARK PRIDE–the kitty shapeshifter one…I miss Nickie and Xavian. There, I’ve said it.

In reviewing this list, I’ve noticed a few things.

  1. My goals start out very concrete and logical–get feedback, revise, etc. Then they become larger the further along I go (relatively distant goals tend to do that, I guess).
  2. There’s a lotta excitement–and stress–heading my way, LOL!
  3. You gotta have a sense of humor in this game.
  4. Writing buds are a NECESSITY!

So, what’re your writing goals for 2011? Be sure to pop in next week for Lydia’s goals!

Goals–Love ’em or hate ’em?

Some writerly pals and I shared our writing goals for 2011. After going through the exercise, I realized that I’ve had these goals in mind all along, I just never committed them to paper.

Why not? 

I didn’t want to set myself up for disappointment if I failed. (I have enough things to feel bad about already, you know what I’m sayin’?) So, by not writing down mygoals, I had the mental flexibility to tell myself it was okay, I changed my mind, or it was okay to change that deadline I arbitrarily made because, well, I didn’t set it in stone in the first place.

But hold on a minute.

If I’m not a goal-oriented person, then how did I get through high school, undergrad, med school, residency, etc? Why am I looking to purchase a house? What makes me save up some money to buy a super cool Mac gadget? (Well, that would be the sexy Apple Advertising, but hey, y’all get the point.)

Even more than that, how in the world would I spend hours, days, weeks, and months–hell, years at this point–drafting seven novel length manuscripts if I didn’t have a goal in mind?

Which brings me to my point.

I realized that it’s worth writing down goals because then I can see where I’m at and where I’m heading. Sure, things will come up to block me (or advance me) along the way. That’s the marvelous thing about life. And writing down goals by no means makes them permanent and unchangeable. Think about it. How many times do we cut scenes and delete chapters to replace them with better versions? All the time! Why can’t we do that with goals too? I say we can. But, like we need rough drafts in order to carry out revisions, we need a starting point for goals in order to make modifications.

What about you? Do you have concrete, tangible writing goals for this coming year? Do you write them down or do you “wing it?” What happens if you don’t meet a goal?

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Be sure to stay tuned for next week’s Sisterhood of the Traveling Blog–we’ll be addressing a NEW topic!

Mental Health Monday–Goal Setting How-to’s

The new year is fast approaching, as is the ole New Year’s Resolution list. We writers can use this time as an opportunity to plot out (haha, like the pun?) our writing plans for 2011.

But how does one determine which goals to set?

Generally, goals need certain qualities. (See picture below.)

(Pic from learnthat.com)

A goal needs to be SPECIFIC. Saying, “I want to write a novel” is much different from saying, “I will write 1000 words a day for 60 days and have a 60,000 word novel done in two months.”

A goal needs to be measureable. Saying, “I want to write blog posts more regularly” is intangible. Consider phrasing it as thus: “I will write and post three blog posts a week.”

A goal needs to be attainable. Saying, “I will write a novel a week for 52 weeks” would be unattainable for most. Committing to writing 500 words a day may be more feasible. This number could be lower or higher, depending on your schedule.

A goal needs to be relevant. Saying, “I will write X” when your topic is Y will not get you nearer to your goal.

A goal needs to be time-bound. Saying, “I will write a novel” without detailing an endpoint will not motivate you to get something done. Saying instead, “I will write a novel and finish it wihtin three months” is a much more concrete and useful method.

Follow these easy steps and you’ll be well on your way to developing goals!

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Be sure to check out Lydia’s post on Medical Monday!

Why Do I Always Get Tired Just Before The Finish Line?

I can see the end point, my goal, my target word count shining in the distance. I rev myself up for the final sprint to the end. It’s so exciting! All the plot lines are converging, all the characters are ready for the final scene, and I actually have some idea of what might go down. Only three thousand words left and I’ll snap through the yellow ribbon marking the finish line.

But wait. I’m out of breath. I’m thirsty. And that hitch in my side won’t let me go on. What is it? Why won’t my legs carry me forward? Maybe I’m getting arthritis in my fingers from typing so much. Maybe I really DO have carpel tunnel syndrome. More likely, I’m afraid to commit to the ending. Why? Because that means my characters will be cemented in, trapped in the page, locked into their destiny. Right now, as it stands, they have options. They have choices. And, oooh, that’s exciting. That’s what keeps me coming back. If I polish off the ending, there’s the risk that I’ll lose interest. And I’m worried. I’m worried that my characters will be relegated to a two dimensional life, looking out from the page in words and symbols, their dialogue ever to be bracketed by quotes and their actions diminished to glances and gestures.

As I think about this dilemma, I wonder, am I avoiding the ending because it represents, in a way, a loss? Will I grieve for my “imaginary” friends?  I’ve traveled with them through their journey of self-discovery. I’ve stood at their side as they confront the things they fear most. And I’ve given them pep talks before they charged ahead for the final conflict. I know I’ll miss that.

Of course, I will meet then again for editing. It’s like a reunion. The problem is that time has passed and the events “we” lived through have been sealed away in “our” memories. To review them again means looking at them through the filter of nostalgia. Will my characters look the same? Will they be wiser? Will I misunderstand something they did, when it seemed so logical before?

And—this is even scarier—how will they cope with being forever stuck in a moment of time, replaying their “plot” over and over again? Will they have the opportunity to “rewrite” their path, change their eye color, pick a different favorite playlist on their iPod, or, God forbid, choose another person to “crush” on?

Tell me, friends, what’s it like for you before the ending?