Fiction Blog, Writing Updates

My 2018 Goals and Resolutions

Welcome, new readers! And welcome back, longtime readers! I hope you enjoyed your holidays and New Year festivities, and are ready to tackle 2018 with me.

Happy New Year

If you read the blog last year, you know that I’m a major goal junkie. Whether that’s New Year’s resolutions or just my daily to-do list, I’m always gunning to tick off those pesky must-do tasks and thinking forward to my larger goals. So, late December / early January is one of my favorite “seasons.” It’s a time to reflect on my accomplishments, consider where I want my writing and life in general to go, and plan out the next year.

Over the last few years, I’ve adopted my husband’s tradition of making one resolution per year of my age. That means I’m making 25 for 2018. (Before you comment about how you’re 48 and could never do this … the whole mentality is that you find more reasons to live and make the most of your time as you age … there’s no rule against making small, simple goals!).

As I sat down to write my New Year’s resolutions, I realized that most of them don’t have the typical “resolution” quality. Sure, some of them speak to personal habits or lifestyle improvements, but the majority are simply goals or tasks that I aim to accomplish. As usual, with 25 goals, I’m biting off more than I can chew.  In 2017, I “only” hit 17 of 24 goals … but if I hadn’t set so many objectives, I wouldn’t have done even that much.

I know I won’t accomplish every goal I set. But if I shoot for the moon, I can still hit several stars along the way.

Usually, I list out all my goals and resolutions to share with you. This year, I’m going to share a few of them, but mostly focus on the larger reasons and themes that connect my goals. (Some are rather personal in nature, and others details exciting projects I’m not yet at liberty to discuss!)

Writing Goals

createSame as last year, my primary writing goal is to create (either writing, editing, or outlining) at least five days per week. Like many writers, I still struggle with consistency. I’ll write a whole book in 90 days or less … then go for a month without putting a single word on the page. I know consistency is the key to a sustainable, long-term writing career (as well as my specific production goals), so it remains top of my list.

As for my specific production goals, I’d like to finish the Desertera series this year. This means writing and publishing the final two books in the series, and hopefully putting out a complete boxed set and starting audiobook versions. I’d also like to kick off my dark fantasy / paranormal thriller series … and I have a few other ideas in the works too.

Business Goals

Most of these are pretty boring for non-entrepreneurs (okay, even for some entrepreneurs too), so I won’t go into too much detail. Mainly, I want to refine my author brand. With three novels, a nonfiction series, and several other endeavors under my belt, I think I finally have a strong grasp on who I am as a writer and who my readers are. Everything I do with my business in 2018 will focus on creating value for my readers, sharing more of myself, and building assets/revenue so I can do even more in the future. So, yes. MY business is really all about YOU.

Personal Goals

Kate cookieIn the second half of 2017, I finally made exercise a regular part of my life. I also started meditating. These are habits on which I hope to expand in 2018. I’m lucky to be young and in good health … so I want to keep it that way as long as possible! (Though, I’ll still have the occasional cookie — especially if it’s that cute!)

Another major theme of my personal goals is being more present and intentional with my actions. Like many people, I feel the need to be superhuman and do ALL THE THINGS. This societal-/self-imposed pressure has led to stress and even migraines (which resurfaced with some negative events at the end of 2017). So, one of my big goals is to stop multi-tasking and focus on one task at a time. I’m hoping that this will reduce how often I feel “spread too thin,” as well as increase my efficiency and the quality of my work, whatever the task may be.

How I’m Tracking My Goals

For daily tasks that apply to my goals (such as meditating, exercising, writing, reading, etc.), I use a habit tracker on my phone. This allows me to check off each task as it is accomplished, as well as see my progress for the week, month, or year. Sometimes, I’m surprised by how much I completed … and other days, it’s the harsh wakeup call I need!

For weekly, monthly, and one-time 2018 goals, I’ve created my own tracker in Google Sheets. Each category of goals has its own sheet, and once a week, I will go into the spreadsheet and report my progress. Instead of simply checking off a goal or leaving it blank, I’m marking it off with a color (green for accomplished, red for failed, and yellow for partially accomplished) for an easy and immediate visual representation of my progress. At the end of 2018, I hope my spreadsheet will have lots of green!

Making Your Own Resolutions

targetIf you’re looking for advice on making your own resolutions or goals, I give my strategy in this post. (And Dr. Google has millions of tips too). In the end, what it comes down to is deciding what’s really important to you (not what you “should” do, but what you genuinely want to do), dreaming as big as you can, then working toward that dream with several small, specific, and realistic goals. It might take the whole year (or several years) to accomplish your dreams, but if you don’t start taking those steps, you’ll never make it.

And if you’re one of those New Year Scrooges who hates resolutions, that’s fine too.

As for me, I’ll keep shooting for that moon one goal at a time.

What are your goals and resolutions for 2018? Why did you choose these objectives? Share your dreams (and tips for reaching them!) in the comments.

Author Business & Publishing, Musings & Bookish Things, Writing & Publishing Articles

Why Do You Write? (An Idea Revisited Two Years Later)

If you’re reading this, I assume you want to be or already are a writer. I also assume that there’s a decent chance you want to be a full-time author. So, if that’s you, let me ask you two difficult questions: Why do you write? And why do you want to be a full-time author, when there are hundreds of easier career options?

writing and coffeeNow, your gut instinct is probably something like, “Come on, Kate! Writing is my life. Those questions are so easy!”

But do me a favor and really think about it. I’ll give you a personal anecdote while you ponder your own situation …

After my recent move from New Haven to the Bay Area, I’ve had a difficult time getting back in my creative groove. I have a lot of perfectly valid excuses: organizing the new place, adjusting to a new work and household routine, exploring new shops and landmarks, to name a few. But, I think I finally understand the real issue.

Whenever I meet new people, I introduce myself as a writer. I include my novelist side, but I always admit, with a twinge of unnecessary shame, that my books don’t pay the bills. I’m “really” a copywriter for a wine marketing company (which has actually helped my fiction writing). It sounds super-sexy on paper, and while most of the time I just stare at a computer screen like every other office worker, it is a great job. Though I’m still the lowest rung on the company ladder, I could make copywriting/marketing a long-term career. And I think it would make me happy.

It would be SO. MUCH. EASIER. to just let go of my author ambitions and relax into the 9-to-5 life. I’m NOT saying every 9-to-5 job is easy, and I’m definitely challenged at my work, but giving up the author stuff would relieve me of several challenges. I could stop spending nights and weekends at the computer. I could stop heaping guilt on myself when I don’t meet my creative goals. I could stop spending hard-earned, harder-saved money on editing, cover designs, and marketing expenses. I could stop all the other nuisances of indie authorship and still call myself a professional writer.

Live your dreamBack to you: your situation is obviously much different from mine. Maybe you’re working a job you loathe. Maybe you have tons of extra money to shower on self-publishing. Maybe you view writing solely as a career and aren’t bothered by any of the emotional, passionate aspects.

Still, I ask again: Why do you write? And why do you want to be a full-time author?

(If you’re a fan of the Sterling & Stone trio, you can probably guess that I’m a big believer in Sean’s “Know Your Why” mantra, which this insightful article discusses more eloquently than I can.)

While contemplating this question, I remembered a blog post I wrote over two years ago. It lists the reasons why I write, along with some great additions from fellow writers in the comments. They all still hold true, but they don’t answer why I want to write fiction professionally and not just as a hobby.

After giving it some careful thought and seriously evaluating my larger personal/life goals, here are a few of my reasons:

Writing is my greatest passion.
Writing is my most employable skill.
Creative satisfaction means more to me than conventional success.
I want to be my own boss and set my own working hours.
I want the freedom to vacation when and how I choose.
I want to work be able to work from anywhere in the world.
I don’t want to regularly manage other people.
I don’t want to give up my dream to help someone else achieve theirs.
I love storytelling.
I want the opportunity to make my daily work meaningful and valuable.
I want to entertain, inform, and educate others.
I want to make a difference in the world and provide a source of escape for others.

Conclusion? Being a full-time writer both satisfies my creative passions and provides several practical benefits that “regular” jobs cannot.

If you’re in a similar situation to me (and I know at least one of my friends reading this is), do yourself a favor and ask these questions. You might realize that writing is just a hobby for you — and that is 100% awesome. Or (more likely, I bet), you’ll realize that full-time authorship is really the career you want. If that’s the case, you’ll be armed with a list of reasons to keep you motivated when the going gets tough. And trust me, it will get tough.

But, if you’ve made it all the way to the end of this post, I’m sure you’ll agree that it’s also wholly, completely, utterly worth it.


Leave your reasons in the comments and cheer on your fellow authors. If you’re already living the full-time dream, I’d love to hear whether your “why” remains true now that you’ve reached your goal. 

Writing & Publishing Articles, Writing Craft & Tips

What to Do When You Have Too Many Story Ideas

Are You Drowning in Story Ideas?

What’s the best problem a writer can have? Too Many Ideas Syndrome (TMIS).

TMIS is the opposite of writer’s block. It’s that sensation when you have so much inspiration, you feel overwhelmed. What story should I write next? Which would be the most fun? Which would my readers like?

I can’t answer those questions for you … but I can give you strategies to make your own decisions. Read on for methods to help you choose which idea to pursue and how to stay loyal to that idea when more inspiration comes calling.

5 Ways to Choose a Story Idea

First things first, start by writing all of your ideas down. You don’t have to use detail, just create a simple list so you can see exactly what you’re working with. You might have more (or fewer) separate ideas than you thought.

1. Go with your passion

When you look through your list, there will probably be an idea that calls out to you more strongly than the others. If you’re writing for a hobby or aren’t married to a particular genre or series, pursue this idea. (Let’s be honest: it’s what you want to do anyway.)

2. Go with your business

If you are writing for your career (and have an established series or genre), then the most logical decision is to write the project that fits with your other books. Your audience will be most comfortable reading a similar story, and you’ve already proven to yourself that you can write that style. Confidence and business win!

3. Combine ideas

More than likely, there will be two ideas or concepts on your list that could go together. Consider which ideas fit in similar genres or have connecting themes. How could you take the best elements from both and make them into one story?

4. Leave it to chance

Seriously, get out a coin or put all your ideas in a hat and see what happens. When the moment to reveal the winning idea comes, you might just realize which one you were actually hoping would win (hint: pick this idea!). If you are 100% indifferent or torn, then accept the verdict and get writing!

5. Talk through your ideas

Sometimes, explaining your ideas aloud can show you which ones are strong and which have less potential. You could do this with yourself, a friend, or (ideally) someone who represents your target audience. Word of warning: make sure you tell your listener whether you want feedback and/or what type of feedback to give. Too much criticism at this early stage can crush your enthusiasm for a great idea.

5 Strategies to Prevent Distraction From New Ideas

Once you have finally settled on an idea, you need to stick with it. Unless you have the time and creative energy to write multiple books at once (lucky duck!), you must avoid the siren call of tempting new projects. How do you do this?

1. Write down your idea

Again, record your shiny new idea wherever you gather inspiration. Sometimes, just acknowledging the idea and promising to return to it later is enough to quiet your mind.

2. Put it on the calendar

If you have a production schedule (even a tentative one) and you think your new idea has potential, give it a slot on your calendar. Knowing that you can explore it after you finish other projects will be great motivation to finish your current works-in-progress.

3. Start researching

While you might not want to write two stories at once, there’s no reason you can’t start researching or outlining your new idea. This allows you to play with the idea, without letting it distract from your creative work. Just don’t let this take away from your writing time!

4. Work on it in your “off” time

Whatever writing project is top of your list should say there. However, if you meet your word count goal for the day, there’s no harm in starting your new idea in your “free” time. Again, though, do not let this new story derail your current work-in-project.

5. Use it in a different form

If you make art in another media (painting, music, etc.), could you incorporate an aspect of your idea in that facet of your creative life? By doing this, you’ll explore the idea and give into your passion without taking away from your writing time.

Though these strategies can help you choose a story idea and prevent distraction from new ideas, ultimately, you have to trust your gut. You are the writer. You are the artist. And only you know what stories are best for your creative life and your audience. Trust yourself, work hard, and no matter which idea you choose, you’ll rock it!


How do you choose which writing projects to pursue? Have you ever felt torn between story ideas? Share your tips and experiences in the comments!

Fiction Blog, Guest Posts, Musings & Bookish Things

Guest Post: Why Books Are Important From a Writer’s Perspective by Joe Baldwin

Joe Baldwin Guest Post

We have everything we could ever want in this cruel world. We just have to come and get it. As simple as it may seem, getting all the things what we want can be a bit tough. First off, we have to equip our self with all the necessary knowledge to get there. We also need to dodge obstacles that come our way. With that, we find ourselves going to academies and universities trying to learn all the things that we possibly can, which we may, later on, use in fulfilling our dreams and desires.

Back during the days, teachers would require students to write a college essay, they would be required to read loads of books. But nowadays, with the invention of the computer and the internet, books aren’t much of a thing than it used to be. These days, with just a click on the internet, you’ll be introduced to tons of facts and research about a certain topic. To say it simply, information is free. That being said, people don’t resort to books anymore. They find the internet more useful since it gives them access to an even wider array of data. I guess it’s safe to say that some people have forgotten the importance of books in or lives. Who can blame them, though? With all the advancement that we have going on with gadgets, why would they even bother putting their phone down for one book?

I just feel differently about it, though. Books play an important role in our lives. You’ve probably heard of this saying before: “when you open a book, you open a new world”, and I don’t think I’m the only one who agrees with this. There are loads of people whose everyday lives are intertwined with books. They won’t last a day without at least having to read a few chapters from their favorite book. Why are books so awesome? They’re packed with insights, knowledge, life lessons, love, and helpful advice.

Books just seem perfect for me. Not only does it make for a great pastime, it also opens new doors for the reader. Yeah, sure, the internet also provides us with a diverse set of reads, but it’s really different when it comes to books. Books allow us to internalize each idea, whereas the internet reads only give us a gist of an entire topic. Here are more of the reasons why books are important:

It exposes us to new writing

Even though we’re not all writers, writing is still an important aspect of our life, most especially in our jobs. It’s important to be skilled in communicating effectively through the use of writing. Sure, good writing is inherent for some people, but for most, it can be a real piece of work.

I guess you can get a few ideas from the internet in writing, but that won’t surpass the writing insight that you’ll be gaining if you’re reading a book. Why? Well, it’s because reading a book lets you into the story or concept. Reading books on a daily basis will help you understand different types of writing.

It helps us improve our self

We may think that we already know enough about the world, but we only know so much as what information the media and society feeds us with. We only become as good as society expects us to be. It’s healthy to have our own personal standard. With that, we should aim to improve ourselves. The question is how. Self-improvement only starts with awareness, meaning knowledge. We need to become more aware. There’s no better way to become more knowledgeable than by reading books because through it, we’ll begin to understand the world more, and when we do, we come to understand ourselves more.

It improves our imagination

In this world, we are limited. We can only do so much. But we are only bounded by these walls if have a weak imagination. Imagination is part of growth. It’s the one thing that makes us think that everything that’s happening can get better, that there’s still hope. Reading books gives us access to other people’s ideas and imaginations, which we can inculcate in our own.

It improves our memory

Memory is an important aspect of our life. Unfortunately, our attachment to technology is disrupting our memory affectivity. We become too reliant. It’s not like we can avoid using technology, but that’s no reason to let ourselves to fall into the pit. Rather it gives us more reason to maintain or improve our memory. Reading exposes us to different kinds of information. In order for us to fully understand what we are reading, we have to become aware of the previous events in a book or story. That being said, it urges our memory power to be at its maximum.

It gives us entertainment

A life spent only on academics and career can really tear us down. We’ll get to the point when we don’t even know what we’re doing the things we do anymore. We need to get out of our poor spirits. Books can give us exactly that. Reading books can take us to a whole new world, where all our fantasies come to life.

It’s important to keep our life balanced. Reading books is one of the best ways to do so. Why? While you’re busy with school or work you’ll always have a book to keep you away from all your troubles. Imagine feeling all hopeless about your job, that it almost makes you want to quit. No worries, then because there’s a book you can rely on that’ll take you to other places of the world where you meet new people. It’s just like going on vacation.

It doubles our knowledge

Yeah, sure, school is already doing fine educating us, but it’s just not enough. Knowledge is ever static. It changes every second. That being said, we can’t always rely on what was taught to us at school. Reading books is great if you want to become more knowledgeable.


About Joe

Joe BaldwinJoe Baldwin is a native US resident & professional Article writer for https://essaylook.com. He studied English literature and creative writing. He has experience with online web content including blogs, web page content, news, public relations, press releases, and long form sales and industrial presentations.

Guest Posts, Writing & Publishing Articles, Writing Craft & Tips

Guest Post: The Best Information for New Authors by Allison Conley and Annette Abernathy

Welcome back to this week’s special guest series by professional beta readers Annette Abernathy and Allison Conley of BetaWitches.com. They’re offering writing tricks and providing advice on how to sell your finished book. In the last post, the beta readers talk about their top tips for new authors.

Content Note: One of the tips shared is about writing intimate scenes between adults, so best not to read at work or around the children!

beta witches guest post

Allison Conley and Annette Abernathy share some of the most blatant, consistent problems their clients tend to have.

Annette: The story begins with the first sentence. That means the first sentence has to grab the reader. People have short attention spans these days, so give them that powerful, compelling reason to invest in your story.

Allison: The most fundamental part to writing a book is the characters! No matter who they are or what they do the reader has to empathize with them. A bad plot filled with holes can be forgiven with great characters. Characters are the glue that holds the book together.

Annette: Each action of the character’s story has to build towards character growth. Don’t have a character, especially the MC, be a vegan all through the book and then she suddenly eats meat just to try it on page 100. There has to be a compelling reason why a character does anything.

Allison: This is so important! Make sure that the character has the same personality all through the story. It doesn’t make sense to have a quiet person be an introvert halfway through the book. That makes the character come across as bipolar and shows that the writer has a terrible command of the story. How is the reader going to root for the character if they are all over the place?

Allison: Also, remember that this is a book, a medium that highlights the most exciting parts of your characters. It’s not a documentary of someone’s life. Even nonfiction books don’t tell everything that’s not essential to the characters development or plot. Use the benefits of the medium to your advantage when writing your book.

Annette: Good writing can take character inconsistencies and make them a major plot point, though. Your MC may have to eat meat on page 100 or starve. That scene could add pivotal character insight that furthers the plot and the readers renewed interest in the book.

Annette: Speaking of plot points one of the most exciting plot developments in a book is a sex scene. I’ve learned from my readers that just having sex doesn’t mean a person can write a sex scene well. I can’t go into this subject too deep here, but the basics to a sex scene are:

1. Give the couple chemistry from the start.

2. Know audience expectations. I you’re writing a traditional romance don’t have the man stalk or rape the woman and have her thinks it’s passion. That’s not sexy. It’s very sick. Also write a man that a real woman would be attracted to.

3. Write the scene like real sex. I once read an intimate scene that lasted ten pages because the characters had to discuss everything before it happened, although nothing actually happened. Real sex is breathy and in the moment and no one is going to stop for a play by play! Women release oxytocin in their brains that make them want to be close to the man more during an orgasm. Men release vasopressin that makes them feel more responsible for the woman during orgasm. Know what the body does during sex and use that to make the act more real and passionate. It takes skill to make sex boring. The word sex alone makes parts of the brain react, but there seems to be a lot of writers with this skill.

Allison: When you write really intense scenes make sure there is that perfect balance of detail (invoke the senses with mood and visualization) and succinct prose to move the action along. Make it as if the action is happening in real life for the reader.

Annette: Yes! Please take that last point to heart. If you can make a reader see the story and characters while they are reading they will continue to read your book. After they finish that book they’ll yearn for more. Good TV does this, and we are living in a time where mediums are blending. The most popular TV shows have movie qualities (high caliber writing, excellent acting, stunning visuals, and real soundtracks). Movies are now series. Books are being made into movies and series more and more each year. Write your story so it can be a movie series, a TV show, and a book series all in one.

Allison: Writing a book that can stand alone is the best way to go about what Annette said. If you have a detailed, compelling novel it’ll be easier to turn it into other mediums. Think about this from the beginning of your writing process. People always say that the book is better.

Annette: Great point. A book is like a website while movies and TV series are social media. People always want the book (and the website) to be the home base of the story. So make sure that your book is a welcoming home for the reader. That means really putting the work into making it great.

We know that this is a lot of information and probably feels like an info dump, but you can put them into practice on your work in progress bit by bit and once you intuitively get this you’ll be farther ahead than the majority of writers.

Reach out to Alison and Annette at their spellbinding home https://www.betawitches.com or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/BetaWitches.


About Allison

Allison Conley has a B.A. in Mass Communication and Journalism from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with a minor in Sociology. She finished the Seeding Entrepreneurs Across the Midsouth (S.E.A.M) program in 2016 for her work as an entrepreneur and artist in the greater Memphis Tennessee Area.

About Annette

Annette Abernathy has a B.A. in psychology with a minor in Women’s Studies, and a professional certificate in photography with a background in visual storytelling.