Tuesday, October 31, 2023

Suzanna's Writing and Reading Goals for 2023: October Update


It is that time of year where I update my goals and begin thinking about my goals for next year. 

Here are my writing goals for 2023:

  1. Write 100,000 words in 30 days as part of a NaNo project (Camp in April, Camp in July, or NaNo in November)
    1. The plan is in motion. I have my word tracker and two projects planned so I can reach 100K.
  2. Write at least one children's book in each category (board book, concept book, early reader, wordless, transition books, narrative nonfiction, etc.)  
    1. Will move to 2024.
  3. Write at least one new short story.
    1. Been thinking about one. Need to find the first paragraphs of a draft.
  4. Edit at least one short story from my undergrad days.
    1. Still sorting papers.
  5. Write at least one new poem each week.
    1. I've written some poems but not where I'd like to be with this one.
  6. Put together a poetry collection.
    1. Still a dream at this stage.
  7. Work on the draft for writing a nonfiction book about the day job.
    1. One of my NaNo projects!
  8. Work on the draft of the graphic novel.
    1. Second of my NaNo projects!

Of course as a writer, I also need to read.
  1. Read at least 10 children's books in each category (board book, concept book, early reader, wordless, transition books, narrative nonfiction, etc.) and focus on one category each month and then rotate. (72 read of 60 children's books)
  2. Read at least one book of short stories each month. (2 read of 12 short story collections)
  3. Read at least one book of poetry each month. (5 read of 12 poetry books)
  4. Read at least one literary magazine each month. (2 read of 12 literary magazines)
  5. Read at least one nonfiction book regarding the day job each month. (15 read of 12 nonfiction books)
  6. Read at least one graphic novel each month. (17 read of 12 graphic novels)
  7. Read a total of 150 books in 2023. (203 read of 150 books)
  8. Participate in every Kindle Reading Challenge this year and get at least 90% of the badges. (The hardest one for me is the perfect month where you read every day in the month.)
    1. I have earned 100% of the achievements for all of the 3 completed challenges: the New Year Kindle Challenge (January to March), Kindle Spring Challenge (April to June), and Kindle Summer Challenge (July to September). I have 9 of 15 achievements for the Year End Kindle Challenge as of October 31.
Reflection so far on this year's goals. I'm shocked at how much I have read. I finally got bit by the audiobooks bug, so I have been invested in reading more than on Kindle or paper copies. Do you have a favorite audiobook?

I have, sadly, reached more of my reading goals this year than my writing goals. I'm still sorting my art studio space, and I'm hoping to organize my books and set aside what I'd like to read each month. Here's to hoping to a productive NaNo in November and some creative time in December.

What are some of your writing and reading goals for 2023? What are you going to do with the last quarter of 2023? How are you preparing for NaNo?

Monday, October 30, 2023

Week #44 – Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

Welcome to 2023!  On Mondays this year, let’s discuss and have fun with books. No I’m not writing book reviews. But this website is for writers, and writers like books right? So let’s have FUN with books!

Week #44 – Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell, 1936

Scarlett O’Hara is the spoiled daughter of a wealthy plantation owner. The story begins when she is 16 and ends when she is 28. The novel is set in Georgia during the Civil War and Reconstruction period. The book won the Pulitzer Prize and is one of the best-selling books of all time.


It was made into a blockbuster movie in 1939 starring Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh.



The story was parodied in a Carol Burnett sketch Went with the Wind in 1976



Carol Burnett's dress in the iconic stairway scene currently resides in the Smithsonian

Have you read the book or only seen the movie? If both, which did you enjoy more? Have you seen the Carol Burnett sketch? Tell us in the comments!

Friday, October 27, 2023

From the Archives: Query Friday/Query Tools


 Writing a book is a huge accomplishment. If you've written "The End" you know how bittersweet it is to move onto the next stage, you may even resist, but if you are hoping to traditionally publish at some point you will have to query.

The query takes a whole separate set of skills. It is, in essence, a sales pitch and many of us are not salespeople.

10 Sales Pitch Ideas to Boost Your Close Rate | Sales Pitch Examples

Nevertheless, many of the same elements that lead to an effective sales pitch will lead to a good query letter.

First is connection, and I'm not talking about the author bio. While it may be nice that you both went to the same college, or share a love of knitting, that is rarely enough to make an agent take an interest in your project. But you can make them take an interest in your characters. Presenting a compelling main character from the beginning, that they can become invested enough in to journey through your first 5-10-30 pages is a great start.

Next, is the product your selling. How is this magic sauce different from all the others? Your conflict and stakes are going to make your story stand out from the others. Show them off, so vividly they can almost taste them. Spicy!

Just like sales, you have to market your product. Who will your story appeal to? What's the word count? Where will it fit on the shelves. This is your genre, age group, word count section. Some agents like to see this upfront so do your research and make their lives easier. 

Finally, I'd include the author bio. Why are you the best person to write this story/sell this sauce? Maybe here you can drop in, your story is about an elderly spinster who saves the world from alien invasion with a pair of knitting needles, and you just happen to be the resident expert on knitting needle throwing. It works!

I hope to provide you with a bunch of resources to add to your query toolbox. YouTube has a wealth, and two of my favorite are:

Alexa Donne's channel - wealth of videos and I particularly love this one on queries

How to Write a Bada$$ Query Letter

And the BookEnds Literary Agency Channel. Again, an amazing collection of great informative videos and I found this one on queries especially helpful:

The Anatomy of a Perfect Query Letter

Happy querying!


Amazon.com: Hape Fix It Kid's Wooden Tool Box and Accessory Play Set : Toys  & Games

Thursday, October 26, 2023

O'Abby's #NaNoWriMo Tips

With NaNo just around the corner, I thought it might be useful to dig something out of the archives to help you through NaNoWriMo... There are other posts I have done throughout past Novembers you may find useful too, so please search them up.

I think I've done NaNo at least 10 times, once I include the Camp NaNos I have participated in as well as the regular, November extravaganza.  I haven't always 'won', but to be honest, that shouldn't really be the point.  Writing isn't a competitive sport and in my humble opinion, any words you get onto the page are a win.

So my first tip is not to get too hung up on hitting 50,000 words.  Life happens and sometimes it isn't helpful to writing anything.  Go in with the mindset that regardless of whether you hit the 50,000 word mark, you're making progress on a story you want to tell.

My second tip is a more practical one.

Try and get ahead on your word count at the beginning.  You're likely to be more inspired, less tired and more excited to write early in the month, so use that to get as many words written as possible.  I always try to get to 10K in the first three days or so because then I have a bit of a bumper if something goes pear shaped somewhere later in the month and I miss a few days' writing.

See if you can block out a few hours on the first day to get started.  Maybe a couple of hours in the morning and a couple more in the afternoon if possible.  Turn off your phone and your internet and just write for those hours.  You'll be surprised how much you can get through.

My third and final tip is another practical one.

Don't stop to research.  If you hit a point in your story where you need information you don't have in your head, don't stop to look it up.  Leave yourself a note in the MS in a different colored font maybe, or highlight it, and move on.  While you're writing and writing fast, stopping to look up the Korean word for grandmother or how long an average runner takes to run 400m takes you out of the story and ruins your flow. It's not crucial to the writing process that you have this information right there and then.  Make a note and move on.

Most of all, have fun with it.  Nothing you write during NaNo is going to be perfect and it's not supposed to be.  Think about your NaNo draft as being your zero draft, or vomit draft.  You're throwing words at the page, trying to get your story and your characters onto the page.  There will be time later to pretty it up.  That's what December and January are for.

Good luck and enjoy yourself.

Monday, October 23, 2023

Week #43 – The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by CS Lewis

Welcome to 2023!  On Mondays this year, let’s discuss and have fun with books. No I’m not writing book reviews. But this website is for writers, and writers like books right? So let’s have FUN with books!

Week #43 – The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by CS Lewis, 1950

The first book in the Chronicles of Narnia. Siblings Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy, step through a wardrobe door and into Narnia, a land frozen in eternal winter and enslaved by the White Witch. Aslan the Great Lion gives his life to save one of the children and later rises from the dead, an allegory of Jesus Christ. Aslan and the children work to free Narnia from the White Witch.


It was made into a movie in 2005


Allegory: an “extended metaphor”; a story, poem, or picture that can be interpreted with a hidden meaning.

Allegory in literature


Dr. Seuss wrote quite a few stories as allegories. Examples are “The Sneetches” [racism, prejudice] and “The Lorax” [environmentalism]. Other examples are George Orwell's Animal Farm [communism] and pretty much everything by Aesop, for example The Tortoise and the Hare [determination and consistency].



Have you read any of the Chronicles of Narnia? Tell us in the comments!

Friday, October 20, 2023

Flash Fiction Friday: Writing Prompt


It's Flash Fiction Friday! For this week's contest, go to HuffPost's Weird News page and write a short piece based on a headline! 

Catching my eye this week is: