Monday, December 31, 2012

Writer-ly Resolutions...or should I say "Goals"?

Earlier this week, I heard a radio station host say that we shouldn't make New Year's "Resolutions" for ourselves but should call them "Goals" instead. "Goals", it seems, is a friendlier word. That way, we won't feel as bad if we don't live up to them, and instead of despairing at our failure, will pick ourselves up and try again.

At first, I wrinkled my nose at this piece of advice. I like to give myself firm deadlines. And I like to meet those deadlines. If it's Law vs. Grace, I'm with Law all the way.

But the more I thought about it, I realized that there's quite a bit of wisdom in this. Last year, I had several resolutions that weren't met. I was planning to finish Flower of the Desert: Book II of the Chronicles of Tancred. I was also planning to finish a nonfiction project, working with a church committee to put some of our pastor's sermons together into a book.

But things happened. Life happened. I had a baby--Boy Number Three--in January. My oldest son had four extended stays at the hospital and five different PICC lines put in his arm so we could spend a total of 10 weeks giving him IV antibiotics at home. 

Before I was a mother and a wife, I was fairly invincible...or, at least, I felt that way. I performed what I promised. I stayed up late if I had to get things done or skipped social outings if I had a project I wanted to finish.

Things are different now. If Adam has a fever, everything goes on the back burner until I can take him in for labwork. If Marcus is teething, I have to hold him all afternoon instead of sneaking in a half hour of writing. If David has a school paper that needs proofing, I'll spend half the evening doing that instead of writing a new chapter. I have to make a choice between staying up late to write (and being a very grumpy mother the next morning), or getting my rest so I can be kind to my kids and my husband.

And with all these other beings depending on me, I've found that it's a lot harder to control my own destiny than it used to be. It's a lot more challenging, and sometimes humanly impossible, to meet my self-imposed deadlines. New Year's Resolutions? Maybe it's time to start setting "Goals" instead.
GOALS for 2013 
(1) Finish Flower of the Desert: Book II of the Chronicles of Tancred. The first draft is two-thirds done, and the ending is already written. I just need to connect the dots and tie everything together. 
(2) Finish To Wed an Heiress. This is a novel of romantic suspense set during the Regency period. I started it during NaNoWriMo in 2011, and picked it up again in November of 2012. It's a lot "fluffier" than the historical fiction I usually write, and a great exercise to help me focus on creating memorable characters instead of on incorporating historical research. And it's also stretching me in another area I need stretching--writing a believable romance and building romantic tension. 
(3) Finish "The Sabbath Book", the working title of the project my church committee has undertaken. So far we have transcribed twenty or so sermons on the Lord's Day by our pastor, and have been editing and condensing them in book format. Yours Truly is the general editor, distributing tasks and coordinating the project. It's been in the works for two-and-a-half years now, with many starts and stops due to my tumultuous family life. And as one of my team members said the other day, "We better get this finished before Rosanne has another kid."
So, there you have my goals for the upcoming year. Ambitious? I think so. Doable? Lord willing. If we can stay clear of the hospital for twelve months, there just might be a chance....

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Queen of Scots and the End of the World: Saturday Links

Today's Saturday Links both come from the English Historical Fiction Authors blog, a site with daily historical essays written by historical novelists. If you love English history, then you NEED to follow this blog regularly. I learn new things every day from one of the forty-or-so novelists who post there.

Barbara Kyle had an excellent post on Mary, Queen of Scots. I loved that it mentioned her half-brother James, Earl of Moray--the hero of a short story I wrote a while back and hopefully the hero of a novel I will write someday in the future.

Nancy Bilyeau posted Friday about the day the world 1881. She talked about the legendary sixteenth century Mother Shipton on whose prophecies this spurious prediction was based. I guess the Tudors and the Mayans have something in common after all--being wrong.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Stocking Stuffer Debacle

It's pretty easy to buy stocking stuffers for little boys--candy, Hot Wheels, train stickers, socks. The hard part comes when you have to buy stocking stuffers for the husband. This year, I bought a few things on-line, but my main plan was to stick a bottle of Jameson in the top of his stocking. That takes up a lot of room, right? Problem solved. Mischief managed.

Yesterday afternoon, my husband came home from work and I heard, from the other room, the sounds of the liquor cabinet opening. "Did you go to the liquor store?" I asked, a little apprehensive.

"Yes, I just got a bottle of Jameson."

"Oh." That was a bit of an upset. Everyone knows you're not supposed to buy ANYTHING for yourself around Christmastime, just in case somebody is already planning to gift it to you. I decided to admit my disappointment to the world. "I was going to buy a bottle of Jameson for your stocking."

"Oh. Sorry. But you know I only have so much time to drink during my school break, so I need to get started right away." An amusing statement, but a true one. My husband attends a Quaker university, and has signed (and actually observes) a pledge that doesn't allow him to consume alcohol during the semester.

"OK, I guess I'll have to think of something else for your stocking."

I made dinner that night--worthy of mention because it doesn't happen all the time. Unfortunately, I decided to fry something in oil, a process which I both hate and am not very good at. Ergo, dinner was burnt. Ergo, I felt like a failure as a cook, a wife, a mother, and a person.

My husband tried his best to console me--"It wasn't as bad as when the nachos caught on fire last week."--but somehow, my spirits failed to lift. At last he said, "Do you have any tonic water?"

"Yes, why?"

"I bought you a bottle of gin for your stocking, but it sounds like you might need it now."

What a wonderful man! And in other news, it looks like we're both out of ideas for stocking stuffers.... Back to the drawing board.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Biased? Of course!

Today I have a post up at English Historical Fiction Authors discussing one of my favorite hobby horses--historians' bias. I use John Wycliffe as a case example and show how historians from the Middle Ages on have treated him as either a hero or a villain. Click on over and have a read.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Books I am EXCITED for: Saturday Links

I don't have much time for writing up today's Saturday Links post, so I'll make it short and sweet.

Sam Thomas writes about the evolution of the book cover for his upcoming release The Midwife's Tale. Interesting stuff to see how the cover artists played around with the idea before reaching the finished result.

Nancy Bilyeau gives an exclusive cover reveal for her upcoming release The Chalice, sequel to her fabulous Tudor thriller The Crown. This is a book cover I really like, and I'm sure I'll like the book itself just as much, if not more.

Philippa Jane Keyworth's Regency romance The Widow's Redeemer releases today. A penniless young widow with an indomitable spirit.... A wealthy viscount with an unsavory reputation.... See the sparks fly and watch love ignite in this story "filled with all kinds of delectable angst and drama." InD'Tale Magazine)

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