2016 Resolutions — Maybe

I am a list lover from way back.  Show me a scrap of paper and I’ll show you how to fill it with lists about:

  • 8 tasks to do today (no more than 8, because that’s how many work hours there are in a day)
  • 5 ways to kill the fly that keeps whining around your light bulb (or 6, or 3; whatever works is the most important idea here)
  • 148 “things on my mind” (in other words, living with the guilt of how much I DON’T do in a day)
  • 4 book titles for stories I want to write . . .

Wait. Four stories I want to write? Hmm.  Is that all?  Shouldn’t I, as a writer, be so full of ideas that I’d take your one scrap of paper and raise you by seven?  Stories are my avocation.  I will write and write until the cows come home (or in today’s lingo, until the cars come home, complete with hubbies nice enough to have brought carry-out dinner along with them, and the laundry from the dry-cleaners, and . . . well, you get the picture).

To-Do List with Quote & Vocabulary

Today’s list and January’s reading materials.

As you may have guessed, I not only love lists, but I need them.  When I allow my mind to drift into “writer-land” there is no way to stay focused enough to accomplish much of anything.  I think this is what my counselor calls ADHD.  So lists truly help.  I love the hand-written kind, as there is a physical connection between me, my aspirations, and accomplishments.  I love jotting down fun items with stars or flowers, and regular to-do items with regular dashes or bullets, and frowny-faces with things I have to do, but don’t want to.  I give myself extra points for getting the frowny-faces done in a day.

So what has all this to do with my 2016 resolutions?  Plenty.  I have found over the years that simply writing down a resolution makes it more of a TO-DO than a WISH-THIS-WERE-SO item.  Now I’m going to take the brave step I’ve been putting off for the past four paragraphs (and several years) and let you know what I’m resolved to do this year in my writing life. Making resolutions public is supposed to help you accomplish them.  Right now, I have butterflies in my tummy, ringing in my ears, and chills in my typing fingers. Commitment! Scary. Will you forgive me if I don’t get all these done?  I hope so.  Still, 2016 hasn’t started yet.  I have high hopes to:

  • Finish writing and submitting Pot Shots, my 3rd Daisy book
  • Write 4 really short (750 words or less) mysteries
  • Read 24 books, starting in January with these two titles:
    • Agatha Christie Miss Marple – The Complete Short Stories: Berkley Books
    • How to Argue Powerfully, Persuasively, Positively, by Jonathan Herring, Pearson Publishing
  • Write 48 to 52 scintillating blog posts that will keep you coming back here
  • Give my talk, “Author Platform101” to the Rocky Mountain Mystery Writers of America chapter in January
  • Come up with 365 story ideas (one a day for each day of the year)
  • Share the best writer and reader blogs I can find with you.

Have you ever noticed that when you start a bullet list, each time you hit “return” the bullet automatically appears? I feel like I have to keep going until the bullets stop.  No wonder my to-do lists keep growing out of control–ooh! There’s a sci-fi story in the making.  Evil bullet lists keep their victim writers typing until the writers’ fingers literally fall off.  Who will stop these terrible task masters?  Stay tuned, when next week the master of sloth, Inertia Girl, jabs the writers’ hands with nerve deafening Midazolam, whereupon bullets, writers’ hands and writers go to sleep, thus ending a chapter the absolutely wrong way. But hey, I never said a story idea had to be good.  Now I have a jump on my 365, right?

If you want to see a really good article on making New Year’s Resolutions, be sure to check out Catherine Dilts’ blog post.

Happy New and Creative Year, everyone!

A Writer’s Thanks

books at a bookstoreNext week I’ll be on vacation, so today I’d like to express my Thanksgiving thoughts from a writer’s perspective and wish you a happy holiday season:


  • For wonderful wordsShakespeare made them up. So did Dr. Seuss.  But for most of us who tell stories, give speeches, or write to inform, words are our building blocks to success.  We rely on words like “bubble gum” or “candy hearts” to describe a special shade of pink.  We fall in love with words like “buccaneer” or “dragon” that so clearly ignite our imaginations and fill our hearts with adventure.
  • For history–That point in time which helps us see anew the lessons mankind has learned, and gives us a starting point to some of the best fiction around.  Have you read All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doer this year?  Perhaps Death as a Fine Art by David Morrell is more up your alley.
  • For the future–which is ours to make. We decide whose vision we’ll follow, what dreams we make true just by putting it down on paper (or in today’s world, up on our computer screen).  Fahrenheit 451 was a grim look into the future, but Star Trek  always ended on a happy note. Which future will you look to?  And isn’t it fun to see so many of the gadgets on Star Trek come into being with our own electronics today? I say, dream on, future writers.  We need you!
  • For genre or commercial fiction–many will bemoan the use of tropes and formulaic writing, but I wonder where a romance would be without the two main characters falling in love in the end?  Or how could we turn to mystery time and again if, in the end, the world isn’t made right, the bad guy caught?
  • For Strunk & White — Who gave us the ultimate rule book from which to argue our points of view on grammar and punctuation with the finesse of the finest lawyers arguing over the Constitution. I particularly like the rule, “Avoid the elaborate, the pretentious, the coy, and the cute. Do not be tempted by a twenty-dollar word when there is a ten-center handy, ready, and able.”
  • And especially, thank you for Readers–Without you who generously give your time to read what us writers have written, the world would be a much darker place.  You soak up our words and transport yourself anywhere your imaginations will take you, fueled only by the meager words we writers jot down. You enter a contract with us that says in part, “You write what your mind sees, and I will imagine right along with you.  You entertain, and I will find entertainment within.  You educate and I will learn. You voice an opinion and I will form my own to agree or disagree with you. Most of all, you spend the time to write me a story, and I will read that story. We are friends.”

Thank you to my entire reading, writing, and publishing community. I’m grateful for this wonderful life you share with me.