Saturday, December 29, 2018

Time Management Tuesday (Sort Of): Welcome To The 2018 Recapitulation Post

Recapitulation! That time when we assess what we've done over the last twelve months in preparation for getting ready for the next twelve. I look forward to doing this, even if it leads to the knowledge that I've done less than I'd planned, because it gets me pumped for the new year. I love being pumped for the new year.

Recapitulation is easy, if you have specific and measurable (either you've done it, or you haven't) goals. And look! I had some for 2018.

Submission Boards (2017's, But Still)
Goal 1. Make Submissions Of  Completed Work Throughout The Year: I made 37 submissions this year, maybe 18 of them Twitter pitches, that resulted in one publication, one agent request, and a
few encouraging responses.

  • Submissions to editors and agents from November NESCBWI program: Done. Reasonable responses.
  • Research agents at Publishers Marketplace: Not as much as I'd have liked
  • Research agents for adult books for Becoming Greg and Emma: Nowhere near as much as I'd have liked.
  • Spend time at Essay Facebook group while on retreat in January: Done. Visited it during the year and learned of an on-line publication that I submitted to, which led to Heroes being published at Bending Genres. 

Goal 2. Begin YA Thriller: This ground to a halt half way through the year when a family member had a stroke the day after  Memorial Day. She survived, but the extra workload and, let's be honest, stress led me to dropping this goal, as well as going to writers' group.

  • Finish character sketches
  • Generate material for plot, setting, theme using Scott Turow Method, meaning working in very short sprints
  • Read YA thrillers
  • Bring material to writers' group each month: Dropped writers' group to conserve energy and then focus what was left on Good Women. See below. 

Goal 3: Generate New Work: Nothing to brag about here.

  •  Finish a first draft of Good Women: I have reason to hope that I'll have this done before going out New Year's Eve. It won't be pretty. The last chapter and a half will be a lot of choppy blueprinting, and I realized yesterday or the day before that I need a new thread and maybe a new chapter early on. But I've been making notes within this draft for that, and it will be done after I've put the so-called First Draft away for a while.
    • Do some work--any work--on this in January through March: Yes.
    • In April prep for a May Days Good Women sprint (NaNoWriMo model): Yes.
  • Food essays: No
  • External support for willpower essay: No
  • Essays developed from workshop proposals: No
  • Article on the recycling crafts in Saving the Planet & Stuff: No
  • Research markets all year: Sort of
  • Make essay and short story reading a priority: In fits and spurts
    • For instance, on Retreat Week next week.


Goal 4. Community Building/General Marketing/Branding

  • Continue with writers' group: I let this go halfway through the year. See above.
  • Continue with Original Content: Yes, though sometimes at a reduced pace
  • Start using a weekly social media calendar again: If I did this at the beginning of the year, I gave it up after May.
  • Check out NESCBWI spring conference, with possibility of attending: Check out, yes; attendance at conference, no.
  • Check out NESCBWI-PAL offerings this year, with possibility of attending: Did nothing.
  • Attend other authors' appearances: I spent a few hours at the Connecticut Children's Book Fair
  • Continue with promoting Original Content at Google+, Facebook communities, Goodreads' blog, and Twitter: The Goodreads blog hasn't had much attention, but I've managed to keep up with a lot of the rest of this.
  • Provide social media support for writers/bloggers generating diversity material: Did nowhere near as much of this as I had hoped.
  • Improve my use of Pinterest. It's not that great for marketing, but it's fun: The big thing I did with this was create boards for characters in Good Women and the YA thriller, providing them with clothing that fit their personalities.

Goal 5. Expect the end of the year to be a disaster. Get as much done professionally and personally before mid-November. Quite honestly, I felt pretty good about this one until I went over the above goals and saw how little I got done professionally before mid-November.

Not That Great A Year, Gail

Yes, I should feel pretty bad about how things went this past year. I don't because:
  1. I can accept the realities of needs involving elders, an actual elder crisis, a new baby in the family, two babies in the family now, and a six-year-old. 
  2. I managed a small publication this year, which doesn't happen regularly these days, as well as some interesting responses from editors and an agent.
  3. I'm nearly done with a first draft of a book I've been struggling with for a few years, been thinking about for many years.
  4. It's the end of the year, and I'm psyched for some things I have in mind for 2019. That's only a couple of days away. 


Next Week

A new year, a new set of goals and objectives.

Friday, December 28, 2018

January Connecticut Children's Literature Calendar

Connecticut has a big YA event at R.J. Julia's this month. Otherwise, The Storytellers' Cottage is where everything's happening.

Sat, Jan. 12, Lana VanValkenburgh-Bennett, The Storytellers' Cottage, Simsbury 11:00 AM

Thurs., Jan. 17, Julia Tannenbaum, Storytellers' Cottage, Simsbury 7:00 PM to 8:30 PM

Fri., Jan. 25, Maureen Johnson, Ben Philippe, Sara Holland, and Evelyn Skye, R. J. Julia Booksellers,
Madison 7:00 PM  

Sat., Jan. 26, Janet Lawler, Storytellers' Cottage, Simsbury 11:00 AM Storytime

Friday, December 21, 2018

A Terrific Granny Book

I picked up Hubble Bubble Granny Trouble by Tracey Corderoy with illustrations by Joe Berger because the grandmother on the cover looked like fun. It turns out, she is.

Hubble Bubble is a good example of a picture book in which the text works very well with the illustrations. The word witch is never used. We get that totally from the illustrations, where it is obvious that Granny is a witch.

More importantly, though, she is a vigorous, healthy, even kind of hip grandmother witch. No sign of creaking joints. No hints of cognitive loss. No aging jokes. No aging sadness.

She's pretty unique, and not just because she's a witch.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Time Management Tuesday: There's Always Time For Blueprinting

Or almost. It's definitely something you can do when you don't have time to do much.

I sometimes lump blueprinting in with outlining. It's different, though, in that it's a method of generating material for new writing, while outlining is more about organizing material you already have.

The Basic Blueprinting Method

As described by Wendy Maas in a workshop I attended in 2016, blueprinting involves coming up with eighteen events that could happen in your book, which become your chapters. Then for each chapter, come up with ten things that could happen in it. For each of those ten things, use who, what, when, where, why questions to elaborate upon them.

There's more to it than that. Take her workshop. Or read her article on the subject.

How It's Been Working For Me

I've used this quite a bit for an adult book I'm working on. I don't worry a lot (or at all) about getting the numbers right. But the system is very helpful. When it's working particularly well, I can practically drop my blueprint notes right into paragraphs.

Why Can Blueprinting Help During A Time Crunch...Like December?

Blueprinting can help when you don't have a lot of time because you can do it in bits and pieces. You can work on coming up with a few things that could happen in a chapter at any time, wherever you are. In the car during a twelve hour road trip, for instance.  You can answer who, what, when, where, why questions about the items you came up with in odd moments. Make some notes on your phone, tablet, or any scrap of paper nearby. If you can grab ten or fifteen minutes, pull the notes together.

When you can get back to regular work time, you'll have at least a part of a blueprint to use. You can get back to producing content a lot faster.

Also, just tinkering with your blueprint whenever you can will help keep your head in the game, because you won't have gone days or weeks without even thinking about it.

Next Week: Time Management Tuesday will publish on Thursday to avoid the actual Christmas holiday. It will be my annual recapitulation post. What has Gail done this year?  

Friday, December 14, 2018

Environmental Book Club

Sierra, the national magazine of the Sierra Club, has a nice round-up of environmental book gifts for readers. The list includes a wide variety of titles.

And if you're looking for an eco-comedy for a humor-loving Kindle reader, there's always Saving the Planet & Stuff.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Time Management Tuesday: Why Going Over My Whining Is Helpful

Last week my TMT post was a round-up of December Whine Posts. ("Whine Posts." I'm going to make that a thing.) I found them oddly helpful.

You Don't Need To Do Much To Keep Your Head In The Game

The day I did that blog post I worked maybe twenty minutes sometime in the afternoon. Yeah, that's pathetic. Except with those twenty minutes I managed to figure out a transition, either getting from one time period to another or moving someone from place to place. I can't remember now. I can tell you, though, that I often have trouble making those kinds of transitions. That little bit of work meant that the next time I worked, I was able to move forward far more easily than I would have been without those twenty minutes.

Dec. 12, 2017
This experience made going over my whine posts more useful than it might have been. One of them involved using the unit system, short segments of time, which was what I had done that day. It served me very well and that success, such as it was, encouraged me to keep sneaking in little segments of work whenever I could. I'm staying on tasks better this year than I did last.

Remembering What We're Supposed To Do

Dec. 10, 2018
Writing last week's whine post about my old whine posts reminded me that it's all well and good to be constantly studying time management and coming up with schemes for how I'm going to work more efficiently and get more done. But I've also got to remember
  • all I've planned to do
  • what I've planned, tried, and liked
  • what I've planned, tried, and decided to discard
In all the chaos of juggling work and life, we may have to make an effort to recall that we have ways of dealing with all that stuff.  But it's definitely worth doing.

Tuesday, December 04, 2018

Time Management Tuesday: A Collection Of December Whine Posts

December is upon us. I dislike December. I dislike it so much that last January I created a goal to deal with it.

Goal 5. Expect the end of the year to be a disaster. Get as much done professionally and personally before mid-November. Putting it in writing so I won't forget. 

I have been getting ahead professionally, not so much before mid-November, but ahead. Sort of. Nonetheless, yesterday I only managed to write about twenty minutes. And it was only December 3rd.

So last night, because I was teetering on the brink of what we call here the Overwhelm, I decided to do a round-up of my December misery posts, primarily because I was too overwrought to come up with any new material.

The Whining I've Done About December Over The Years

Dec. 12, 2017 December Continues To Suck Up Time I was sick last year at this time. Well, at least I'm healthy this time around. So far.

Dec. 21, 2015 Know When To Give Up This post actually has a positive suggestion for dealing with Overwhelm. Pick something to not do. Seriously. It's a good idea.

Dec. 16, 2014 The Unit System Lifeline During That Time Of The Year The title of this one says it all.

Dec. 3, 2013 Will Sprinting--And A New Laptop--Get Me Through The Holidays. Another one with a title that pretty much tells you what's going on. Sprinting really is helpful, like not doing something.

Helpful Much?

Oddly enough, I found these posts helpful. I'll go into why next week, because I'm choosing not to do any more this evening.