Shhh! (Penny Rader) 
Do your characters have secrets?  I'm trying to figure out what secrets the characters in my wip are hiding, so I thought I'd poke around the Internet and see if I could find any tips.  I found tons of articles about the secret to writing characters, etc, but not a whole lot about secrets characters keep.

Character Secrets

"A secret helps define a character.  What we feel we have to hide from other tells us a lot about ourselves.  Maintaining that secret will influence every choice we make.  Every choice our characters make."

 5 Secrets about YourCharacters’ Secrets (Darcy Pattison)

This article gives 5 ways to use secrets to develop your characters:

  1. Using the Secret as a Plot Twist
  2. Source of Conflict – Making Sure the Secret Stays Secret
  3. Tangible Secret
  4. The Secret Revealed: Big Scene or Climax Scene
  5. What Is YOUR Secret?

My Character’s Whispering Secrets (Darcy Pattison)

Sol Stein said, “I remind you that the best fiction reveals the hidden things we usually don’t talk about.”


So...what secrets do your characters have?  What do they do to keep their secrets safe from discovery?

Ninety Thousand - My Magic Number (Melissa Robbins)

This year, WARA has challenged their members to a word writing contest. The winner will be based on percentage completed, so the writer who struggles writing 25,000 words can compete with the published authors who have several book contracts.

Ninety-thousand words. That's my writing goal for the year. Seems pretty daunting, doesn't it? How did I come up with this magic number? Most of the stories I write have 85,000 words, but I have 70,000 words for a story I should finish and 20,000 for one I started last November for Nanowrimo. Ninety-thousand might just finish both stories or at least one!

But 90,000 is still a big number, so I broke it down. Being able to break a goal down in manageable mini-goals is key or you'll go stark-raving mad. I created a spreadsheet with equations. My engineering husband is so proud. For a yearly goal of 90,000, that's 7,500 words per month, 1731 words a week, 246 words a day (Hey, it's a leap year! We get an extra day!). Two hundred forty-six words is less than a page a day. That's doable, right? Okay maybe not for me last week, but editing can really slow a writer down and that's what I was doing. I rocked the word count earlier in the month, so I should still meet my monthly goal. Correction, I will meet my monthly goal.

Since the group is tracking their percentages, I added an equation on my handy-dandy spreadsheet that tracks my monthly and yearly percentage goals. I have reached 78.29% of my goal for January and 6.52% for yearly goal. Another trick I found helpful for tracking are the number rows. One for January 1st and down the column.

We'll have to see how I do. I'm not one to keep New Year's resolutions, but I prefer to write than exercise, so I may just keep this goal.

Goals? Resolutions? What's a Writer to Do? (Penny Rader) 
I poked around the Internet for some wisdom on the subject.  Here's a bit of what I found (including excerpts from the articles):

New Year’s Resolutions: 6 Ways to Stick with Writing Goals (Alicia Sparks)

1. Determine your writing goals.
2. Write resolutions related to those goals.
3. Make sure you can outline specific steps for your goals.
4. Be realistic as you write your resolutions.
5. Ask for help.
6. Reward yourself.

How to Set SMART Writing Goals (Dustin Wax)
The idea of the SMART goal was conceived by a business psychologist named George Doran. SMART is an acronym, standing for goals that are:
Relevant, and

Why Writers Must Set Goals And Track Progress (And How to Get it Done) (Tracy O’Connor) 
Tracking your progress can be as simple as checking off boxes on a to-do list or crossing off dates on a calendar, to more elaborate methods like complex spreadsheets and graphs. You can choose any method that makes sense for the specific goals you are working on and your own particular personality.

Be faithful in tracking your progress and be sure to check in regularly to see what you’ve done and what remains. It’s important not to beat yourself up over a lack of progress, instead look at it as an opportunity to troubleshoot and look for ways to improve your performance. Give yourself a pat on the back for all you’ve done and reward yourself for milestones. Staying motivated comes from feeling good about what you’ve accomplished and making the decision to look at valleys and setbacks as opportunities to learn and grow.
The Most Important Thing You’ll Write This Year (Suzannah Windsor Freeman)

The most important thing you’ll write this year is a list of goals. …

A few things to keep in mind about your goals during the process:
Write them down and keep a copy where you can see it every day
Don’t commit to anything you don’t truly believe you can accomplish
Keep them to a minimum
Make sure your expectations are realistic
Don’t give up when you fail temporarily
Your Approximately Perfect Writing Life (Kristi Holl)

…I reviewed my goals for the year and saw that I was moving fairly steadily toward each one.  Mostly that made me happy.

But two goals I’m moving toward make me uneasy.  I realized I really didn’t want to reach those goals.  They were things “the experts” said I needed to do to be a successful writer, but they appeal to me less and less, the closer I get to the goals.


My writing goal this year is to finish a rough draft of a book I started a couple years ago.

My personal goal is to de-clutter my home. And drink more water.

Care to share your goals for 2012? 

Gentle Resolutions for a Writer

It is that time of year when many of us make New Year's Resolutions. There are always the standard "I will eat healthier," "I will exercise daily," and so many more that a lot of us work hard on for the first month or so and then our enthusiasm fades. Writers, too, sometimes make resolutions or set goals. Beware setting lofty goals that are unrealistic and end up making you depressed. Be kind to yourself. Make resolutions or set goals that won't drive you crazy as you attempt to meet them. Remember that you have other facets to your life: family, work, community commitments, and more.

Gentle Resolutions for a Writer
• Train your brain to write on a consistent schedule, whether it is daily or weekly.
• Figure out what causes your writer’s block and learn to overcome it.
• Don’t let unfinished works drain your energy. Either bite the bullet and finish them or put them far, far away and forget them.
• Set a modest goal for pleasure reading.
• Make your writing space workable instead of a headache. Clean up your space, add things to inspire you or that make you happy to look at.
• Make realistic goals for the number of projects to write, submit, and promote for the year.
• Try writing a new genre or sub-genre.
• Focus on your accomplishments and reward yourself for them.
• Fight back being jealous of other writers, be proud of who you are as a writer, and keep working to improve your skills.
• Help other writers.
• Promote your writing skills daily in a blog post, on Twitter, on Facebook, or wherever…but don’t focus only on selling. Learn to be subtle and interesting to readers.

Tougher Resolutions for a Writer

• Update your website at least monthly.
• Update your blog at least weekly.
• Post on your social networks at least every other day.
• Learn to speak in public.
• Contact local libraries or local organizations about being available for speaking engagements.
• Attend as many writing conferences or workshops as you can afford.
• Be a speaker at writing conferences.
• Do at least one thing every day to self-promote.

What's the Point in a Goal?

First: What's a goal? It is a desired outcome.

Second: Why are they important? Because if a person, plant, or animal cannot muster up the candlepower of mental wattage to desire enough for an outcome, there is no need to bother breathing.

Last: What do we do with them? We work toward them. And I believe the best first step is to write them down.

Why? Because if you can think clearly enough to define a goal well enough to write it down, then your subconscious can help make your goal a reality. I have proof!

When I was in school, I watched as flurries of notes were passed about the next heartthrob and the comparisons thereof. Idiotic, I though it. After all, who can define love in fourth grade? Eighth grade? High school? I watched as those around me seemed to flitter here and there, defining their newest date as a love. From fourth grade on, I vowed never to tell anyone I loved them unless it were really true. No fly-by-wind-change love for me. Did I wish to date, kiss, carry on with a less than my true love? Of course. That I called dipping a toe in the lake of life. However, true love would have to wait for a true love in my heart.

But, I did dip a toe in the lake of life. And when I did, I discovered a banquet of options that I would need to choose from. I needed a list of likes and dislikes. By the time I was nineteen, I had noticed that people put more actual thought in the features of a stereo system or a car then in the loved one they hoped to acquire. This little issue I thought the height of, shall we call it foolhardy carelessness? So, in a cabin, high in the Rocky mountains, one day I made the list. Yes, a list of what I best required in a true loved spouse. A shopping list as it were. I still have that list. My husband has all but two requirements. He doesn't like to dance, although he can manage a bit. He isn't always a snappy dresser, although he is capable of it. The list was as simple as a height requirement (for ease of kissing). And as testing as the question about dogs. He had to interact with dogs well. For, I thought, if he does well with dogs, it will tell me how he will treat his wife and his children. I don't like dogs all that much. This was merely a test. He is wonderful with dogs. He can't help but play with them and likes to give them treats. I once watched him talk a huge, not-too-happy guard dog to his hand for petting. It took about twenty minutes, but was incredible to watch. He also likes to play and give treats to those he cares for. Does it get better? I'm spoiled.

What was that list? It was a goal. Did I refer to it often while dating? No. But my subconscious didn't let me stop looking until I found the guy who fit the list slipper. I repeated the same with my two daughters. There was a lot of eye-rolling, stubborn grumbling, and I think some under-the-breath name calling, but I made them put some thought one afternoon into completing a list. One had what I thought was out-of-the-box thinking that was likely to fail. And yet, her list did not fail her. She got what she wanted. Yes, she shed tears over other men, but when she found the one that fit the list, she stuck like a burr. Same with her sister. Not too long ago, I found their lists and sent them a copy, for fun, to show them how close they came. Their choices too, were almost spot on.

Is a goal important? Is it important to write it down? Obviously our answers are YES!!!

Lesser goals than personal happily-ever-after goals are also very useful. A few years ago, then WARA president Pat had us write out goals out for the year. I then lost the list for a while. It was a few months after the year was over I found the goal list. I had managed to meet many of them. Not that they were simple things--like getting dressed most days, no, they were writerly related. My subconscious had used the goals as a map that it used to make choices that led me to achieve better that year than any other.

Write yer durn goals down!
Write down lesser goals that get you going the direction you feel you need to go!
Don't forget goals in other areas of your life as well. You're a well rounded person, right?
The time you spend writing down goals is NOT a waste of time. If you have the time, spend some time thinking about and listing lesser goals that will get you closer to the big goals. The big girls call that planning. I call it essential.

Resolutions or Goals? Just Do It

It's that time of year again.  In fact, we're starting the second week of that time of year.  Did you make your New Year's Resolutions?  Or are you like me and run screaming from the mere thought of doing it?  If I had made resolutions, I'd have already broken one by being late this morning with this blog.  It happens.

I admit it.  I find the words "New Year's Resolutions" totally frightening.  That's probably because I've never been able to carry my resolve to do something past the first week or two of the year.  But look at it this way.  Another definition of the word resolve means to disintegrate, and I'm obviously good at doing that to my resolutions.

But none of that means that I don't try to set goals and work toward them.  Sometimes there are things that come along--life things, career things--that make changes in those goals, but I still have something in mind.  The word goal carries a more positive ring for me...probably because of that resolve thing and carpet cleaner.

With all that in mind, I wrote a blog post for my own blog last September and thought some of the information I found while researching it could be shared here today.  Besides, I need a nudge to keep me honest and working toward my own goals, New Year's or not. ;)

First, ask yourself some questions.

Is your goal realistic? 
For writers, this is one of the biggest blocks that can keep them from reaching their goal.  For instance, if your goal is to become a published author, setting a goal to be published in a year or any other specified amount of time, isn't realistic.  You have no way to control whether an editor/publisher will buy your manuscript.  Once you've written your book, researched the right publishers to submit to, and slipped your baby into the mail or an email, the control is in another court.  Outside of writing is the same.  You can't control what another person will do.  Make certain your goal is something you can control.  You should also give yourself the time needed to reach your goal and add a little wiggle room.  Realize that life can sometimes throw curves and be prepared.

How badly do you want it?
It takes wanting something enough not to give up at the first sign of problems to keep working on a goal.  Don't quit too soon.  In fact, if you've set a specific time period in which to reach your goal, see it through.  Why?  Because even if you don't reach your goal, you've made progress.  Celebrate it.  You can always try for that brass ring again.  If you decide to do that, you're already a step ahead, because you've seen some of the things that can trip you up, and you can adjust your plan in accordance.

There are all kinds of goals, not only for writing, but for making life easier, healthier, and more fun.  Whether it's getting more exercise, losing weight, organizing your home or life, or taking a vacation, setting goals can help you be a success.  You can find some great tips online to help you along the way, from planning and the process of working on goals to reaching them.  Here are just a few:

Harlequin author Susan Meier also has a great workshop on her blog about Goal Setting that began in December.  Check it out for more tips and tricks on making and keeping both writing and other goals.
It begins with It's Monday Morning...Do You Know Where Your Goals Are?  (Scroll down the page until you get to it.)

This year WARA has decided to take on the task of not only urging members to set writing goals, but to keep track and encourage each other individually and as a group.  To change things up a bit, we've chosen word count, instead of page count, and will announce our goals for the year at our first meeting of 2012...TODAY!  We'll be posting our combined progress each month here and on our website in the form of a meter.

The significance of a man is not in what he attains but in what he longs to attain.     Kahlil Gibran

Goals and Shoals by J Vincent

January. The month of resolution-making, of setting goals. Doing this is never difficult. Keeping goals from sinking on the shoals of life is excruciatingly tricky at times. Like last week. My goal was to write this blog. The shoal that goal hit was a virus striking my computer. Traumatic! I had actually managed to remain a virus virgin these many years. The aptly named "Trojan" somethingorother slipped right past my virus protection program which was the first thing to disappear--but let's not go there. What turned out even more painful happened after I handed over my laptop to be "scrubbed" and have a different virus protection program installed. It was then I realized why I should have replaced my old desktop that died in October. Sans computer there is no word-processing--i.e. writingmanuscript, email, or otherwise; there is no email reading. There is no internet, no google directions to the new doctor, no browsing. I can hear you thinking that anyone can live without the internet. Many do. BUT, there is always a but, I had changed all my bills over to paying online and not automatically. I am also going to be taking a trip and need to finalize arrangements and print out several things that they used to mail the traveler. Enough of those shoals.

Back to goals in a roundabout way. Making them is easy. Keeping them is more difficult (see above). Reaching them revolves around the degree of sincerity. No, seriousness. Nope, determination and desperation (a new insight after the computer withdrawal) are much more accurate. Remember the no email reading? I solved that by figuring out how to do it on my Nook. Same for browsing and googling although word processing and printing is sadly out of the oop. To get this blog written I went to my son and used his computer/printer. In the end I will solve all the problems by buying a new desktop. I momentarily thought "Never again will I be high and dry" as fools do but something will come along and throw a road block up along my personal computer highway in the future. To prevent one of the major ones I also bought an external hard drive and set it up to automatically backup any new or changed file. Remember I did say this was a roundabout approach so back to the topic.

Another difficulty in meeting goals occurs if they are too nebulous, too indistinct. The more concrete, the more specific the better. One of my major writing goals for 2012 is to get the first book in my Honour series up through Smashwords. If I write just that as my goal I can almost guarantee it will never happen or take many many months to implement. So I broke it down into specific steps.
1. Find an editor---check
2. Sketch out a cover and find someone to draw or paint it--check
3. Implement the changes necessary after the editor goes through the manuscript--check
4. Download the Smashwords manual on formatting and study it --in progress
5. Format the manuscript
6. Format the cover art
7. Upload to Smashwords

My other major goal is to write the fifth book in the Honour series. I've broken that goal down into research steps, plot realignment (I started this book over a year ago and it has mostly lingered in a doc file--a non-growing file), and scene and chapter goals. Staying on track is not easy but setting small obtainable goals week by week insures more success--at least for me. My "goal" is to finish the book. My set goal at the moment is to finish a chapter. Small is better in goals, like building a two thousand piece puzzle. You can only do it one piece at a time but each piece builds the picture. Each small goal builds the story until one day there is a completed manuscript!

Happy New Year! Happy Goal Making and Keeping. May the shoals in your life be but minor ones!


If you’re reading this then pat yourself on the back for surviving another year. Whether 2011 brought you misery and heartache or triumph and happiness, be thankful you made it over the threshold to 2012. There's just something about a new year that brings renewed hope. Maybe we’ll finally lose that extra weight. Finish our first manuscript or our fifteenth. Organize our home and office to make ourselves more productive. Weed out the unnecessary brick-a-brack in our way to being more productive writers.

Set some goals.

Where do you start? It’s quite simple. All you have to do is move your personal game piece to the next square on your game of life. Plan your next move. Roll the dice. Don’t be afraid to take a chance. What’s the worst that could happen? Forward progress is the only way to get the job done.
All you have to do is put one foot ahead of the other.

Good luck. I'll be rooting for you all the way.



Pat Davids here wishing everyone a Happy New Year. I've never been so glad to put any year behind me as I was to 2011.

So, are you making New Year resolution? I'm not. I've decided not to do that anymore. I used to be an avid list maker. I'd plan the steps I needed to accomplish my goals. Some I did manage to make. Others, like regular exercise, went by the wayside before the first week was over.

So this year I've decided I'm not making resolutions. If I eat better, great. If I exercise more, terrific. If I write lots of words, paragraphs and pages, I'll finish a few more books. I will not resolve to do, I will just do.

That's my secret to writing three books a year.