Friday, June 26, 2009

Summer Time, Summer Time...

Summer officially donned this past Sunday. The longest day of the year heralding warm weather, lazy afternoons, and…tons of stuff to squeeze into two short months! With gardening, kids off on holidays, picnics, camping, trips to the beach, and nights where the sun’s warmth allows for sitting on the deck visiting with friends and neighbors, our writing just may take a back seat.

Writers write. That’s what we’ve been told – over and over again. But what’s a writer to do when Summer lures us into sitting in our loungers to soak up the sun’s rays, sip a cool lemonade, and read a great book? As an unpublished writer I don’t have the joy of deadlines tapping me on the shoulder and forcing me back into the house to work. As an unpublished writer I can ignore Muse’s call, promise her that I will get back to work when it decides to rain. After all, here on The Prairies Summer is taken very seriously – more so when the winter we’ve just endured seemed colder and longer than any in recent history.

In past years, I wrote on rainy days. Or in the middle of the afternoon when only ‘Mad Dogs and Englishmen’ would be caught dead sitting in the sweltering heat. But that didn’t last long once I started working full time at a job where summers off were not the norm (ah, the joys of teaching – holidays!). My weekends are the only time I get to enjoy the mid day sun – and I gladly join those Brits and their canine companions. So writing took a back seat.

But the more I write, the more I read about writing (practice hones the craft), and the more I want this career, the more I realize I need to create some goals to see me through the temptation of Summer. And like other times in the year, I need to set short term and long term goals that once accomplished will get me closer to my realization of being a published author with deadlines tapping me on the shoulder.

I won’t go into goal setting here. I will direct you, if you’re interested, to this website that helps you to set goals (if you’re not already a goal setter). I've used SMART Goals when I taught and in my own personal life and they really do help a person to focus. This website is pretty extensive; so have a look around, you might just find a way to set goals that works for you. I will, however, share with you my summer plans (because they do effect the blog) and my goals.

In four short weeks the entire contents of my house will be in cardboard boxes. A giant self-moving truck will be pulling away from the curb with The Husband and a good friend starting out on a journey of 3000 miles to the East Coast of Canada. Lucky me gets to stay behind to clean the house, deal with the power, phone, real estate business before heading to my mom’s to await The Husband’s return. He’s flying back – he and his friend have decided to make this trip a "Golf and Move" one. Yes, they are going to be golfing their way across Canada in a self-moving Truck (only a guy would think of that – and I just may have to use that in a book at some point in time). When The Husband returns, he, the dog (who’s picture adorns my blog this week), and myself will head out – camping our way across many provinces to our new home. We are due to arrive (and move into our new home) at the end of August.

Because I will be without Internet access for the entire month of August, with the exception of a trip to an Internet café or library, I will not be blogging on Fridays. I have invited some wonderful writer friends to blog for me so there will still be some great posts here for you to read. I will also be without my distractions (solitaire, blogs, etc). My goal for the summer – with all that time on my hands – is to finish (yes, your read that correctly) Gillian and Mac’s story. It’s all there, in my head, so I figure this is the perfect time to get it on paper. And I’ve put that goal out here for you all to see. Talk about accountability!

To celebrate the beginning of Summer – and the fact that today is the last day of school for many children and I am still a teacher at heart – let’s use the comment section to share our summer plans (opposite to "What I Did On My Summer Vacation"). While you’re at it, perhaps you’d like to share your writing goals – do you have specific work you want to get done over the next two months? We'll come back in September and see how well we stuck to our plans. And a final question, People of Blogland, what’s your favorite Summer activity? As you can see, Taz loves to run through the sprinkler.

Janet (who is very glad she will continue to be a Prairie Chick, even though she won’t officially be living on The Prairies)


Helena said...

Janet, that's some assignment you've given yourself today. No, I don't mean packing (and packing AND packing) and moving. I mean writing about goals, yeah, the exciting topic of SETTING GOALS, the day following Samantha's super post on SEX!

But, hey, as usual, you've pulled it off. Hooked me, hogtied me, and got me thinking about that detailed summer schedule I actually typed out a couple of weeks ago to guide me through the summer. I do that kind of thing frequently, thinking that an assigned block of time will ensure that I do some writing every day, even in summer.

I have even allowed for the fact that I don't do well in heat, so my early hours each day (retired, don't you know, so I have the choice) are given over to the necessary yardwork before it gets too hot. Then, I have my break, cool off, and I'm supposed to sit down and switch gears and write for the next couple of hours.

Of course, that comes after checking my email, reading my favourite blogs, and making snarky (or appreciative) comments. By then, I'm hungry!

I have an allotted time to read about writing, and another block for recreational reading because all writers must read, right?

Well, you get the picture. I must check out the website you mentioned because obviously I need it. What I have been trying to do hasn't been working all that well.

One of my summer goals is to stay home as much as possible because my yard needs some serious DAILY attention. I've neglected it big time the last several years, and even I can't stand its 'natural' look anymore.

My writing goals are left over from our spring retreat -- first draft of my wip to be finally finished by mid-July. We'll see. I am also going to attend some workshops conducted by wonderful writers who will motivate me to get back to short fiction, which I have been neglecting lately. So perhaps all is not lost.

And, yes, I will report in at the end of the summer to let you know if and how it all comes together.

And I'll be thinking of your journey, through the physical move and the writing odyssey, until you reach your destinations. Good luck, Janet. Thanks again for what really is a thought-provoking post after all -- always good to get a nudge in the right direction at the beginning of the summer.

Karyn Good said...

This will be my first writing summer so my goal is to write for a couple of hours in the morning five out of seven days (when we're not away on holidays) and I'll see where that gets me!

As for summer plans, we are campers and we'll be spending at least three weeks and the odd weekend in our trailer. Two weeks close to home so my husband can commute to work and one week in August at fabulous Waskesiu Lake, Prince Albert National Park. I'm a stay-at-home Mom so the rest of the summer will be spent hanging out with my kids doing stuff.

Good luck with your goal, Janet. I have no doubt you'll accomplish it. Can't wait to hear how your story's turned out.

Captain Hook said...

Janet, I have that problem in winter. I actually hate summers (anything over 70F is too hot for me) and am unable to be in the sun for more than 20 minutes without suffering from blister sunburns and sun poisonoing.

Janet C. said...

Yeah, Helena, I was a little worried about following up a post on sex. Great post yesterday, wasn't it?

I'm so glad to hear you have a detailed summer writing schedule. I'm looking forward to reading your finished manuscript. Let me know if you found the website helpful.

And I'd love to hear about your workshops. Hopefully, you'll post your experiences in a future blogpost. Good luck with the summer goals (and the 'natural' garden). And I always find your comments appreciative and insightful :)

Janet C. said...

Waskesui is a beautiful place (and since I'm originally from Prince Albert, I have a fond appreciation for the park :) I hope you have a wonderful camping trip - too bad I'm going to be gone, I would have loved to come up for a visit.

Good luck with the writing goals. I know that you're very dedicated and have no worries that you will accomplish your goals. Be prepared to share your highs and lows when I post in September. I'd love to hear how you manage your time.

Janet C. said...

Stay out of the sun, Captain - we don't want you being sick.

How's the new job going? Are you going to find time to get some writing done? Have you set yourself some goals for the summer, or do you just plan to squeeze writing in when you can?

Ban said...

ahhh, that picture makes me want a shephard now but i know i must wait. i have no writing plans, maybe that is my problem, if i made goals i might try to reach them only i am one of the hardest people to motivate you've ever met. seriously, i WATCHED my roomy exercise in front of me, listening to her words of encouragement while i flipped the pages in my book. still, i should try ...
as for other plans, my parents have a house up in the adirondacks we spend several weeks at every summer (it has internet :) usually i stay there with the girls and my husband comes up the end of every week. it's right on a cliff overlooking a lake and a stretch of govt. owned land, which means no one will ever build there so it remains pristine. it's beautiful up there and it is where i am most inspired to write so i might get something done after all :D will have to put some pics up on my blog for ya !

Jana Richards said...

Hi Janet,
I've already started on my summer goals. I took the past week off to give myself a kick start. I finished my edits for Burning Love and sent them back to my editor. Hopefully that project is ready to go into production soon. I just want to give Welcome to Paradise the once over before I send it to you for critiquing (that July 18 deadline is looming!) And the last couple of days I started working on a project I start a while ago and I'm really excited about it! It's called Twice in a Lifetime and it's the continuing adventures of my angel Angelica from Burning Love. Her quest this time is to give an old man a second chance at love. So she takes him back in time, to England in 1944 just before the D-Day invasion. After putting this story away for a long time it feels very good to get back to it. My goal is to get a first draft by the time we go to Surrey.


Kira Daniels said...

I always set goals. But I don't always make them. But goal setting is important to me. I also have a vision board. Pictures and words that say exactly what I want. Short term and long term.

And I accomplished one goal already this summer-- finish ON EDGE. Now on to edits, queries and synopsis.

Janet C. said...

Your summer get away sounds absolutely wonderful, ban. I would love to see pictures - I bet the solitude (with the addition of Internet - bonus) is perfectly peaceful. I'm relaxed just thinking about it.

I used to balk at goal setting (ask some of my girlfriends who I poo-pooed as they were listing their aspirations), but now I believe it really does help to motivate. I still have the problem of accountability when it comes to my own goals, so I empathize with you there. Remember you can always count on one of us as your 'deadline' - a trick Jana and I have employed.

Hopefully you get inspired and find some time to write to your heart's content.

Janet C. said...

Way to go, Jana. Talk about productive. I hope the editor reads it over and gives it the green light (let me know what she says - curious about the change you were planning on making). And July 18th IS looming. I'm looking forward to reading it during the month of August.

I'm so glad to hear you've gone back to the WWII story. I love the premise and the romance! And you're excited about it - even better. Can't wait to read it :)

Silver James said...

Janet, I am so going to miss you, girl! Safe trip and Taz is a handsome lad!

My editor is taking ten days off, returning to work after the 4th of July. My first goal is to have FAERIE FIRE edited and sitting in her inbox when she returns. Then I'm going to get ready for RWA Nationals. That means creating pitches for SHADOW DANCE and SEASON OF THE WITCH, just in case I'm sitting next to an agent or editor. When I get back, I have to finish the revisions on SOTW and then start my Query Agent Blitz! And somewhere in the midst of all that, I'd like to actually write something new. :D

Hayley E. Lavik said...

Love that picture of Taz. Your post has really made me long for that sort of ideal of summer. Unfortunately I've never really had that out here. Our yard is more everyone else's backyard with no privacy, and I'm not 'with it' on all the good places to go in Stoon.

The upside of that is I shouldn't have much trouble meeting my summer goals. I'm sticking to my usual schedule, working when Hubby's on shift (so I put in my 8 hours) and on days off when he's off. It served me very well last summer when I was between semesters. My tangible goal for the summer is to rewrite the beginning of the book (so I can do the fall retreat's "We Dare You") and then continue forward making all the little (and big) changes I've left waiting until now. I also want to do some brainstorming on character development to flesh out some of the ideas you and I talked about at retreat.

In more summery plans, one of my best friends is coming to visit from Victoria, in-laws and our niece and nephew in August, which is more people than we've ever had at our house, and I hope to actually check out some of the summer festivals or other things for once. Any recommendations?

Janet C. said...

Kira - glad to see you over here. For those visiting here, head over to Kira's blog for some very fine eye candy today. Friday's on Kira's blog is a bevy of good looking men.

I love your idea of a Vision Board. I am so using that (giving you full credit, of course) when I get settled in my new home and set up a little corner for my office. Seeing your goals (long and short term) right in front of you, reminding you daily of what you want in life. Sometimes we forget our goals when they're tucked into notebooks or dayminders. Ooh, I'm excited - must find some magazine pictures to cut out.

Thanks, Kira. And congrats for finishing your manuscript. Good luck with edits, proposals, queries, submitting :)

Captain Hook said...

Janet, the job is wonderful. Thanks for asking. It's such a relief to be working again.

I have managed to get some editing done lately. No writing on new stuff, except when I can't help myself.

Goals? To write and edit steadily through the summer. I intend to have Cassandra's Secrerts ready for querying by the end of the year.

Janet C. said...

I'm going to miss my blog family, too, Silver. It's only a month, but I feel like I'll be on another planet, out of the loop - and I'll be dying to get back to you all and read everything that I've missed :)

You are going to be one busy woman. Remember what I said - any run throughs on proposals/queries you want to put to us, just post on betabloggers and we'll help you out. Query Agent Blitz is not the funniest thing you can do - but a necessary evil. I know you'll do great - and we'll be reading all about your agent news very, very soon.

I hope you fill us in on RWA - I'm hoping (fingers crossed) that I'll be able to swing next year in Nashville. But until then, I can live vicariously through you.

BTW - Taz is a lass. And I love her to death.

Silver James said...

*blush* Tell the lass I apologize profusely! I'll be twittering during RWA and will try to keep Penumbra updated with doings rather than regular posts. Nashville? It's a date! I'll be there.

Lu said...

Hi Janet,
I sympathize with your packing and packing and... but I'm going to be selfish and be really glad you're moving to my side of the continent. And I plan on being in Nashville too.

We're vacationing in NS the last two weeks of July, and will be without internet, unless I want to drive into town to the library. So I predict improved productivity.
I plan to finish my RS by the end of August. Come hell or high water, as they say.

Drive carefully, have fun camping!


Jana Richards said...

Hey Janet and Silver,
If you guys are going to Nashville, I'm so there! Assuming I can scrape up the money of course. Sounds like a blast.
Keep us posted Silver!


Janet C. said...

Your plan sounds solid, Hayley - and I know based on previous writing output, you can do it :) I'm looking forward to reading the 'new' beginning (as the old one was pretty damn good). I love how you're treating this as a career and making time (8 hours a day) to accomplish that. Well done - you are an inspiration.

The personal plans sound good, too. I hope you have a fabulous visit with friend and family. Will it be your friend's first visit to The Prairies? I seem to recall the inlaws are from this province (please correct me if I'm wrong - brain doesn't retain all the information it once did).

As for festivals, etc - I'm afraid I don't know Saskatoon that well. The big exhibition/fair is on end of July, beginning of August, but that's all I know.

Janet C. said...

I'm glad you're liking your job, Sarah. It helps to go to a job that's enjoyable rather than drag yourself to one you despise.

And those sound like great writing goals. You've put it out there - we'll hold you accountable for finishing Cassandra's Secrets! I like to call it gentle nagging :)

Janet C. said...

Hey, Lu! Yes, one of the benefits of our move (and there are many) is that I will finally be able to meet you in person (and have coffee at Tim's). The Internet brings people from far and near together, as I said earlier, a blog family (or in this case, my RWA Online family).

Great goals for the summer. I look forward to hearing all about you reaching that goal when I log back into RWA Online chat in September.

And best of luck with the contest in July - they announce the winners of Passionate Pen's contest at RWA, right? I've got my fingers crossed for you and Alannah.

Thanks for the well wishes - should be quite the adventure :)

Janet C. said...

Silver, I'll have to catch up with your RWA conference news when I get settled - can't wait to hear about the event from your POV :)

And Nashville - Silver, Jana, and me (I'm hoping to scrape up enough money as well) - any other takers? Sounds like a goal being set right here, right now. I'll have to find a really great picture to go on my Vision Board (tm - Kira) as soon as possible.

Hayley E. Lavik said...

Janet, we've coerced our friend into coming to the prairies once before, last May, so this is her second time. The in-laws are all prairie stock liberated to BC, so they know to visit in the summer rather than winter ;)

At the moment, I'm assuming the first page of the ms will stay the same, although we'll see how that goes. What I need to do is rewrite the wandering chunk of character exploration I had before things got cracking in the first draft, and tie the first page you've seen to the bulk of the ms that isn't getting overhauled. Then I'll have a nice first chunk to submit at Ancient Spirals (hopefully well before the deadline), and maybe a steady enough progression of chapters, I can solicit some CPing for them.

Janet C. said...

Great job, Hayley. I can't wait to read it and I think our SRW 'We Dare You' contest is just the thing to get us all looking at the first chunk of our manuscript. Afterall, that's what we send out on proposal so it had better be good.

Anita Mae Draper said...

Getting in late. The kids have me running around already and the summer hasn't even started. Ha!

Actually, I'm getting the kids ready for summer because they are going to be gone most of the time and then I'll be writing. My little guy will be clingy, but I'm hoping not too much this year.

My goal this summer: to write Silent Keeper an inspirational suspense which I hope to pitch at the ACFW conference in Denver in Sept.

Also, The Wild Rose Press returned my partial with revision requests. I'll have to revise the Marry Me Ma'am ms and get it back to them.

And although I hate the thought of you moving, Janet, I'm so glad you'll continue to be a Prairie Chick. Just wouldn't be the same without you.

Golfing across Canada, what a way to go!

Congrats, Kira, on finishing your ms.

And there's a good chance I'll be in Nashville next year. I've been offered a spot in a timeshare with a Love Inspired author and Hope who comments here sometimes. It's a couple miles from the RWA hotel, but Hope will have her car. It will cost me about US 150 for the week.

connie said...

Hi Janet,
You have me cringing every time I see a cardboard carton but I know the trip will be worth the pain of getting to make one. I drove from here to Nova Scotia in 2007. More darn settings and plots from overheard to everything and anything you see.
Have some curds in Quebec for me please.
As for goals, actually, Helena saved me a lot of typing, except August 15 for wip, Sept 1 for contest entry and no workshops unfortunately.
Enjoy the trip

connie said...

p.s. we lost Sarge five years ago but she and Taz could have been sisters, except - I have always kinda thought Sarge was a Lab in German Shepherd's clothing.
Summer plans: Keith golfs every day of the week. He visits me at the cabin on Weds and Suns and we relax on the porch and talk or not.
The cabin is at Round Lake. As a PA babe, do you know where it is? Most people don't which is the way we like it (selfish folk all). It is a privately owned lake area with 37 cottages (and members) on leased plots of about an acre each. Privacy insured by 15 yard treed or bush area between cottages enforced. I live on the porch where my 'office' is next to my lounge chair and book case.
You will understand why it is called 'Sarge's place'...

Janet C. said...

That's great news, Anita - getting your manuscript back with revision requests is sounding very, very promising. Good luck with the process and keep us informed.

And that's some writing goal - a whole manuscript in two months. Looking forward to hearing about you meeting that goal.

Connie - yeah, I'm beginning to hate cardboard boxes myself. But they have to be packed. I'm looking forward to our cross country trek and plan on taking lots of notes and pictures. Good luck with your writing goals and enjoy your cottage - Round Lake sounds ideal. And I fully understand the name - they just wiggle themselves right into our heart, don't they? You have a Norwegian Elkhound now, don't you?