Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Goals, Goals, Goals

Although it's deep into January 2021, I think I finally have a grasp on the goals I want to set for the year. Because of last year's chaos, not only do I not really remember the goals I set for myself, I also don't want to look back and find out that I didn't meet them. We're now just going to talk clean slate and give 2021 a chance. 



Professional Goals

I'm going to have a long list of these simply because I have so many projects that I know need finishing, and I'm tired of seeing them left to the side to get something else done. Here are my top five professional goals for the year:

  • Four pieces published (this does not include anything on Medium)
  • Earning at least $1/month on Medium royalties (while maintaining consistent growth afterwards)
  • Entering at least three writing contests
  • Gain ten patrons on Patreon
  • Write, edit, and publish a poetry chapbook for National Poetry Month

These are all in my sight, and I believe very doable this year--even the Patreon goal, which for the past couple of years hasn't been met. I just need to get a better grasp on my target audience and figure out what they would like to see from me and get all that good stuff posted. I also have more goals on this list, but some of them need these accomplished first before I can move on. 

Personal Goals

Personal goals are often the thing that gets left behind when I don't feel I have enough time in the day. However, I've been tired of not making progress, so I'm keeping my top three personal goals simple:

  • Maintain my bullet journal/planner for the entire year
  • Consistently track good habits
  • Budget like a boss

So far, 2021 is looking pretty good for these personal goals. They are small steps, yes, but if I tackle these I can move on to something greater. After all, most personal and professional goals take planning, good habits, and money. After this year, the work will be done. I'll know exactly what I have and what I need to get through the next set of goals. 

Thursday, January 07, 2021

The First Seven Days

 My plan for 2021 was to move my weekly blog posts to Tuesday--it would work out better for many reasons, including the ability to get those posts out more consistently. But without a planner to write my little to-do lists, I was in a bit of a mess on the first week of the year. That's changed, because my bullet journal/planner/whatever you want to call it arrived on Tuesday. That doesn't mean my world is suddenly organized, and I know that I have to rush through January without great thought to design, but so far it's getting the job done. And I can't begin to tell you how much I love having an excuse to use Micron pens again. 


So I thought I could easily push out a blog post for the beginning of year yesterday, but then yesterday happened. On my best day it's hard to pull myself away from breaking news, so I usually just settle in and try to absorb what's going on. Needless to say, yesterday's productivity was near zero. 

Now I'd love to tell you what grand plans I have for 2021, but getting a bullet journal planner started was my main focus in the last week of 2020. Beyond that, I'm not sure where to go next. I have released the first article in my series A Taste of Money with a follow-up coming tomorrow. I plan to publish 1-2 articles a week for that one, but what I really need to get out is the publication guidelines so that others can have their chance at publishing work in Frugal and Freelancing

I'm still looking into other Medium publications to get my work out there, as well as those good ol' literary journals. I need to make a list and pay more attention to submission dates because I tend to miss some good opportunities when submission windows close before I get the submission sent. And all of my longer projects? Those are all still waiting in the wings for when I get inspired again. And since its January, you know I'm already planning for a project to do for National Poetry Month in April. All this leaves me now with plenty to do, and I better get to it. 

Thursday, December 31, 2020

Review: A California Christmas

A California Christmas A California Christmas by Brenda Novak
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Emery is in a whole lot of turmoil from page one of this book--she's a once-renowned TV anchor who not only got caught having an affair with her cohost, but now has the sex tape on the internet to prove it. Without much left of her life in L.A., Emery returns to Silver Springs. That's where she reunites with Dallas, someone that she doesn't know that well, but will quickly realize has loyalties to her even though he is dealing with the reemergence of his own demons from the past. 

Because this is a book as part of a series, I think I'm missing some information. While Emery and Dallas' stories are clear, there are tons of other characters that pop in and out of chapters and their stories may very well be a part of another book, but starting at #7 made these intrusions into the main story very distracting. Also, although the title says Christmas, it doesn't have as much Christmas in it as you would think. 

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Thursday, December 10, 2020

The Last To See Her -- Exclusive Excerpt

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Courtney Evan Tate's The Last to See Her (MIRA; 12/29) is a twisty, fast-paced domestic suspense about sisters, secrets and betrayal--for fans of B.A. Paris and Riley Sager.

Genevieve, a writer, is about to finalize her divorce from her cheating husband Todd. So when her sister Meg, an ambitious physician, has a convention to attend in New York City, she invites Gen along to celebrate her return to single life. It will be a perfect sisters' getaway in the big city! But things go awry when, on their first evening at the hotel, Gen decides to take a late night walk and disappears without a trace. Eventually she is officially declared a missing person.

Suspicion soon falls on her sister Meg, who was the last person to see her.

Through twists and turns, it is revealed that Meg has been sleeping with her brother-in-law Todd... And then there is a question of a newly purchased insurance policy that just has just gone into effect before Gen’s disappearance. Both Todd and Meg deny any knowledge of it.

But has an actual crime been committed? Can it be proven? And if so, who is really the guilty one?

 



Please enjoy this excerpt of Courtney Evan Tate's The Last to See Her. 
_
Genevieve tipped the courier and set the certified letter on the coffee table.
She knew what it was. She’d been waiting for it for almost a week.
Every day, she’d wondered, Will it be today?
And each day it wasn’t.
Until today.
Nervous energy buzzed through her fingers and toes, tingling through her veins, like ants scurrying in a thousand directions. She paced for a minute, stopping at the floor-to-ceiling windows, staring at the magnificent cityscape lining the horizon. Buildings burst through the hazy pollution, their tips scraping the clouds.
People far below her were bustling here and there, quick to walk, slow to linger. They had things to do, places to be, and she didn’t.
Not anymore.
She ripped open the envelope, pulling the banded documents out, scanning through the words, hunting for the official stamps and signatures that declared this an official act of the court.
They were all there.
This was real.
It was finally happening.
She focused her gaze on the words before her.
Honestly, they were simple.
The black-and-whiteness of them was stark and startling. There were no gray areas, no areas open to interpretation.
They reduced the last ten years of her life into a handful of legal phrases and technical terms. Incompatible differences associated with adultery, marriage dissolution and absolute divorce.
She stared at the words.
Soon, she would be absolutely divorced. She just had to sign the papers.
It had only taken six months of her life to iron out the details. To separate all of their worldly possessions into two camps, his and hers, to figure out who got what. Divorcing a lawyer was the only thing worse than being married to one. No matter that he was the one in err, because he repeatedly fucked someone else, he was out for blood and it took months to sort it all out.
But thank God no children were involved.
That’s what people kept saying, like it was a good thing or a blessing.
But if she’d had a child, she wouldn’t be all alone, and someone would still love her.
She felt like she was floundering. For so long, she’d put all of her energy into a man who hadn’t deemed her worthy to stay faithful to. That had done something to her self-confidence. Something terrible. It wounded her in places she hadn’t known she had, and now she had to figure out who she was without him.
She wasn’t Genevieve Tibault anymore, one half of a whole. She was Genevieve McCready again, and what was Genevieve McCready going to do now, now that she had to stand alone?
She pushed herself off the couch and ran water in her coffee cup. It was a habit Thad had taught her. He hated it when the cups developed coffee rings. She stared at the running water, and then set her cup down.
She didn’t have to do what he wanted anymore. If she wanted coffee rings or tea rings or any kind of fucking rings, she could have them.
It was an epiphany.
She was her own person again. It had been so long since she was a me instead of a we.
She looked around, at the condo she had fought so hard for…the marble floors that they couldn’t agree on—she’d wanted slate, he’d wanted marble—at the modern light fixtures that he’d gotten his way on, at even the tan wall colors. She’d wanted gray.
Why had she even wanted this place?
It was all Thad, and none of Genevieve.
A sense of exuberance, a strange jubilation, welled up in her as she searched online for a realtor and then dialed the phone.
Bubbles of excitement swelled in her belly as she arranged a time for the realtor to come see the place.
And then again, as she stared at a map.
Unlike Thad, someone who had spent years building up his legal practice and honing his networking skills in this one city, she could work from anywhere.
She wrote novels. 
She could work in Antarctica if she wanted to.
She didn’t want to, but she could.
She already had a plan. She knew where she was going, and what she was doing. She just had to have the courage to do it.
She picked up the phone and called her only sister, Meghan.
“Meg, I’m moving home.”
Her sister paused. “Home as in…?”
“Cedarburg.” There was a long pregnant pause now.
“Um. Why would you want to move back to Wisconsin? You haven’t lived there in…”
“In eighteen years. Since I left for college. Yes.”
“But…why?”
“I don’t know,” Gen said honestly. “I just feel a need to get back to my roots. I love Chicago, but the traffic and the noise…” She stared out from her twentieth floor windows again. Even from up here, even though the vehicles looked like Matchbox cars, she could still hear the honking. “This feels like Thad. I want to feel like me.”
“There’s nothing there,” Meg said carefully. “Nothing but fields and cold and—”
“And friendly people,” Gen interrupted. “And our parents, and familiarity, and open spaces, and distance from Thad.”
“But I won’t be there,” Meg reminded her gently. “I’m not moving back. I think you need to be near me, Gen. You need a support system. Divorce is no joke.”
“I know that,” Gen said patiently. “I’m the one living it. You’re still with your Prince Charming and point five children living the American Dream, and I’m the one sitting in an empty condo.”
She fought to keep the bitterness out of her voice, as she compared Meg’s bustling, messy home to her own stark and empty condo in her mind’s eye. 
“I’ll tell Joey that you’re counting him as a point five,” Meg chuckled.
“Well, he’s only five, so it’s fitting. I mean, honestly. He’s not a whole person yet.”
They laughed again, and then Meg sobered up.
“Is this really something you want to do?”
Gen nodded. “Yeah. I think so.”
Meg took a big breath. “Well, let’s do it, then. I’ll help you with your condo, and finding a moving company, and looking online for a house there, and hell’s bells, we’ve got a lot to do!”
“You don’t have to help with all that…” Gen trailed off, but Meg interrupted with their life-long pact.
“Sisters forever,” she decreed. They’d used that pact since they were kids. Whenever one didn’t want to do something, the other would remind them “sisters forever,” and they would concede.
Gen realized she wasn’t going to get away with not letting Meg get her hands in all the new plans.
“Sisters forever,” she agreed.
“But first, you promised to go to my convention with me,” Meg reminded her.
Gen hesitated.
“Don’t tell me you forgot. New York City? Spa days, shopping—you need a new wardrobe, sis—and nights on the town. You promised.”
Gen paused again, and Meghan cajoled, “Pleassssse. We need this. You need this. It can be your divorce party.”
“Okay,” Gen found herself saying. “Fine. I’ll still come.”
Her sister squealed and Gen hung up before Meg could get too excited. She was moving away from everything she’d known for over a decade. Even though the world seemed unsettled and uncertain, for the first time in at least five years, she felt at peace.

Excerpted from The Last to See Her by Courtney Evan Tate, Copyright © 2020 by 
Lakehouse Press, Inc. Published by MIRA Books


The Last to See Her is available from these sellers: 

Harlequin 

Barnes & Noble

Amazon

Books-A-Million

Powell’s



Author Bio: 


Courtney Evan Tate is the nom de plume (and darker side) of the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Courtney Cole. As Courtney Evan Tate, she is the author of Such Dark Things and I'll Be Watching You. Courtney grew up in rural Kansas and now lives with her husband and kids in Florida, where spends her days dreaming of new characters and storylines and surprising plot twists and writing them beneath rustling palm trees. Visit her on Facebook or at courtneycolewriters.com

Tuesday, December 01, 2020

Review: In a Holidaze

In a Holidaze In a Holidaze by Christina Lauren
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Mae just wants to have a normal holiday, but when she wakes up the day after making out with a long-time friend of the family, she's certain that she's ruined everything. Especially when she's secretly in love with his older brother, Andrew. So when she's leaving the cabin, possibly for the last time, she makes a wish and sees in come true Groundog's Day-style. 

This is a classic rom-com from Christina Lauren. It has all the elements that you would expect: drama, intrigue, hilarity, and a happy ending. Not only does it have all that, it is also set during the holiday season, so it's the right book to pick up right now when you have a few hours free between online shopping and cookie baking. 

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