I’m over at Word Whores today, talking about my new secret method for setting annual goals.
Rogue was picked as one of the Best Book Boyfriends of 2012 by the What’s Beyond Forks? review blog! I’m very excited and pleased, as I’m partial also. Rogue, of course, couldn’t care less.
You all know how much I love my lists. And spreadsheets. Over the holiday, I was comparing To Do lists with Stepdad Dave, who shares my Virgo inclinations and loves a good To Do list. We discussed the merits of various approaches – the long-term To Do list versus the short-term one. We gave him a Boogie Board a while back – an electronic listmaker – and he complained that, because of the way it erases, that he has to write down important tasks that he won’t do later (like after the holidays) over and over again.
What? This is so interesting!
Plus, there were cookies.
At any rate, I’ve been thinking about my lists and how I have them set up. The long-term vs. short-term thing can be an issue. Especially when a long-term task is something like “write this novel.” Of course, that kind of thing one breaks out into daily word counts, but it’s still on the list, at least mentally. Hovering out there, like a grinning hot air balloon on the horizon. Other long-term tasks are things I’ve been meaning to do – like contacting certain bloggers for reviews, or putting tax information together. No deadline (yet), but needing to get done.
My big problem is that I tend to load too many tasks onto a single day. With an entire day ahead of me, I become flush with ambitious optimism. I truly believe that I will accomplish All The Things. The problem then is that, if I don’t, I get all sad. It doesn’t matter that I finished ten tasks, those two things still lurking on my list, undone, taunt me. Worse, I have to move them to the next day, or back to my long-term list.
What I’m thinking of for the New Year is making a tiered list, one that reflects priorities. I might make a Must Do list, followed by and optional list. I wonder, though, if the stuff on the optional list will *ever* get done, if they’re not prioritized enough…
What – you’re still reading? If so, you might be a listmaker, too. What are your secrets for prioritizing tasks??
I’m over at the Here Be Magic blog today, celebrating Boxing Day and looking forward to the world continuing to go ’round.
I’m over at Word Whores today, talking up my five favorite books of 2012.
Because, as excited as I am about doing the Phantom e-serial – and wow, I can’t believe I announced that exactly two weeks ago, it feels much longer – this is even bigger and better.
Like three-book contract bigger.
Like I get money up front better.
Like PRINT, beyotches!!!
Ha! I may be running around giggling like a madwoman. When my mom asked me if this is what I’d been working toward all these years, I had to say, why, yes. Yes it is. All those Christmases when my family asked me what I wanted for Christmas and I told them “a lucrative multi-book contract” – well Santa finally delivered. (And yes, my family does love me – most of the time – even though I’m a smart ass.)
So, here’s the blurb from Publisher’s Marketplace:
December 17, 2012
Jeffe Kennedy’s The TWELVE KINGDOMS Series, three books in which the three daughters of a failing kingdom find their own magic and use that to help heal their lands and people while finding love along the way, to Peter Sentfleben at Kensington, in a nice deal, for publication in 2014, by Pam van Hylckama Vlieg at Larsen/Pomada Literary Agents (World).
This is the same editor who acquired the Phantom story. He read and loved The Middle Princess, which faithful readers of this blog will likely remember me writing. I’ll be doing some revising on that (though not much, Peter thinks – yay!) and turn that in by May 1. Then book 2 is due 11/1 and book 3 is due 5/1/2014.
Let me tell you, it feels really weird to have a 2014 deadline. “Hey, Jeffe, do you have plans for April, 2104?” “As a matter of fact…”
Please also note that these books will be classified as Fantasy. I am officially a Fantasy Author as well as a romance author. I’m all pleased with myself. Also, the books will be trade paperback (and will be available in digital, too), which is extra fancy. They don’t love my title (alas!), so that will change. We’re just kind of calling the series “The Twelve Kingdoms” for now. Which is probably for the best, because when I get emails from Peter with the subject line “Princesses,” it kind of cracks me up.
Of course, that just fits in with the whole giggling-like-a-madwoman thing.
I am beyond lucky.
I know, I know – it doesn’t count as an actual problem. Still, the labels I choose to index the various things I’m writing and talking about, provide a certain insight into how I see things at different points in my life.
See, the thing about blog post tags is that I don’t have a good system for assigning them. I’ve tried a few things, but it’s still a semi-random and more-than-a-little subjective. WordPress will suggest labels from my existing ones as I type them into a box, but it’s kind of like looking a word up in the dictionary – you have to have kind of an idea of how to start it before you can get close. It becomes a problem for me, because I sometimes want to look up an old blog post – something I know I wrote about before – and I have to play this guessing game with myself to figure out how I might have tagged it at the time. I’m right less than half the time.
So when I label current posts, I try to strategize what my future self will think of to look it up under. This means I’m playing this eternal guessing game with my past and future selves, which probably does not speak well for my long-term sanity.
I have this fantasy, you see, that I would be incredibly organized and *always* tag the same concept with the same tags. This would make the scientist in me happy.
However, I’ve recently realized part of the problem: concepts for me drift over time. They don’t get the same tags because I don’t think of them in the same way.
I noticed this on Tuesday, when I tagged my post on How Having Your Book Rejected Makes You a Better Person with the label “Writer’s Life.” Because that is absolutely a topic that is core to living the life of a writer to me. I talked about how my friend is dealing with disappointment in her writing career and compared it to recovering from heartbreak and becoming a stronger person because of it. Yes, “Writer’s Life” is the perfect tag for that.
It struck me then that this not how I used to think of “Writer’s Life.” I started writing in a more academic and literary environment and discussions about “writer’s life” were much more about art and philosophy and mindfulness. A lot of it can be encapsulated by the critical praise for Annie Dillard’s “The Writing Life.” (Yes, I have that book on my shelf.)
A kind of spiritual Strunk & White, a small and brilliant guidebook to the landscape of a writer’s task.
…a glimpse into the trials and satisfactions of a life spent with words.
Gracefully and simply told, these little stories illuminate the writing life…
Anyone hoping to see inside the process of literary artistry is unlikely to find a more lucid, sensitive or poetic view.
…as slim and potent as the Tao Te Ching, that ancient Chinese manual on the art of living…
And so on.
This is how I used to view this concept – probably heavily informed by this book. I look back to when I began my blogging life over at lovepowerandfairytaleendings.blogspot.com, where I used the “Writers Life” tag 102 times in the two-year, eight-month life of that blog, making it my most frequently used tag. I look back at those early posts and see I did a lot of angsting over things like selling out and balancing writing projects and order vs. chaos (I linked to it because that one is kind of amusing).
At any rate – I can see how I’ve changed in my understanding of the Writer’s Life. I moved from thinking about my writing process to recognizing how my day job had made me a better writer and what the corporate environment had taught me about dealing with personnel issues.
I think this is a natural progression: as we become professional writers, our lives become less about the philosophy and more about the reality.
And that’s a good thing.
Now to select some tags for this besides “Writers Life.”
When I was in my early twenties, I used to argue that everyone needed to have their heart broken at least once. Not only was this a great way to soothe a friend who’d just had his or her heart broken – hey! this will make you a stronger person! – but I also believe it to be very true.
Falling in love is a fabulous, giddy and wonderful thing. Loving relationships are what sustain us through life. Most of us want to find that special someone (or someones) and find our own happily ever after. But that quest can be a trial. With each busted relationship, we lose not only that person, but also the dream of what could have been.
I’ve been there – the sense of failure, the certainty that I would never love again and would be alone for the rest of my life.
But, over time, your heart begins to heal and you discover that you learned some things. Thinking about a new relationship changes – it’s no longer a laundry list of “wants.” After a shattering break-up, you get a a really good idea of what you do NOT want. The new Dealbreakers List is usually short, but it’s backed by experience. It provides you with a much better compass for knowing what is likely to work for you.
Heartbreak also teaches the very valuable lesson that nothing is easy. Even if the falling in love part was, the maintaining of it can be damn hard work. If you take the relationship for granted, fail to nourish it, it can fall apart in the blink of an eye.
Finally, that rejection, the sense of failure – from those things grows resolve to do better. To be better. Hope grounded on this kind of foundation is a powerful force.
Then, when you love again – you’re better at it. Wiser. More careful with what you’ve been handed.
I think career-heartbreak can be just like this.
A friend of mine recently had her option book rejected. In most contracts with publishers, they say they’ll publish two or three books in a series and then have right of first refusal to see the next book in the series. This means you have to show it to them first, before you try to sell it to someone else. The rub, however, is that very few publishers want to buy the third or fourth book in a series. To them the series has been done already. So, when her option book was refused, she knows that’s the end of those characters and that world.
(And yes – she can self-publish more books in the series, and she might, but that’s a different kind of effort.)
This kind of thing happens All The Time. Of my three crit partners, all three have had their option books refused after the first two in a series. They grieved, wailed and gnashed their teeth – and moved on.
While I see my friend going through the stages of grief over this, I also see her wrestling with the heartbreak and healing from it. She now knows what she does not want in a new publisher, a new book contract. She was lucky to begin with – a Cinderella story of many offers and a very nice deal. The courtship was great but working under contract was crushing. She knows now what she needs to maintain a creative and productive writing pattern.
Best of all, when we discuss her options – like self-publishing – she shows an increased resolve. She’s working on a new story and she’s going to focus on that. She’s stronger and wiser now.
It’s funny to me, that in my 20s the conversations were about busted relationships and now, in my 40s, they’re about busted careers.
We know now what we learned then – there’s always another one, just around the corner.
I’m over at Word Whores this morning, talking about the bad and good of holiday-themed stories.