ThinkingUsually at the beginning of a new year, I make several posts about goals. I’ve got my writing goals and my reading goals and my life goals. And I put them all out on the interwebs in written down form so I may be held accountable for said goals. Which is all very well and nice and productive and whatnot.

As 2014 drew to a close and 2015 dawned, I realized that I didn’t want to have goals for 2015. Not that I wanted to be lazy and slack off for a whole year (I’ve done that; it was a drag), but that I just didn’t want to have goals for the year.

I think part of it comes from a conversation I had with my mom last month in which she said something about goals being an invitation to disappointment. I can certainly see what she meant. When  you set a goal and then don’t achieve it, that’s disappointing. When you set a goal and do achieve it, the victory can feel hollow. I’ve had both of those things happen to me. However, I also have set goals that have motivated me to reach them if nothing more than for spite because I’m a competitive person and I don’t like to lose when I’m battling myself.

I think, though, this conversation may have planted a seed in my head. When I started thinking about what I wanted my writing goals to be for the year, I didn’t want to set anything in stone because I wasn’t sure. When I shifted my thoughts to reading goals (as I’m always struggling to be a better reader), I really couldn’t think of anything in particular I wanted to work for. And life? Well, yeah…

So after some thought I decided that it might be an interesting experiment to not put goals on those things for the year.

Again, that doesn’t mean I’ll be slacking. I’m just going to put the focus on “Do” instead of “Achieve”.

So with the emphasis on “Do” in mind, I’m going to work towards really getting all of the old writing projects languishing on the Great To Do List done. This, of course, isn’t going to stop me from starting something new, but my focus needs to be on the old stuff and that’s what I’m doing to strive for.

I’m going to try to read everyday with no expectation of finishing a set number of books.  Let’s see how many I can finish just by reading everyday, be it for five minutes or an hour.

And for the rest of it?

I’m just going to DO whatever I can.

Writing–Reading Goals 2014 Achieved

booksIf you’ll recall, my goal was to read 24 books this year at an even pace of 2 books a month and only four could be re-reads. I’m happy to say that I hit the end goal of 24 books, but that reading at least two books a month…that wasn’t always so smooth. I got behind a couple of times so that I was really cramming at the end of the month to make sure I got two books read. I also totally failed at it entirely two months. September and November I only read one book. Not exactly happy with that part of my goal-accomplishing.

(I thought I was going to have to read three books this month to make sure I had my total, but then I checked my list and realized that I didn’t. I did have a period earlier in the year when I read like 2 1/2 books a couple of months so I think that little edge saved me. It also made me realize that while I can do algebra, apparently counting is out of my league.)

So here is the last 12 books I read in 2014. The list of the first 12 books can be found here.

13. From the Holocaust to Hogan’s Heroes by Robert Clary

14. Rebecca by Daphne de Maurier

15. The Game from Where I Stand by Doug Glanville

16. The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

17. On Writing by Stephen King (re-read)

18. Wyrd Sisters by Terry Pratchett (re-read)

19. The Thirst Within by Johi Jenkins

20. Coroner’s Journal: Forensics and the Art of Stalking Death by Louis Cataldie MD

21. Christine by Stephen King

22. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

23. Salem’s Lot by Stephen King

24. Coffee at Midnight by Brandon Ford

Looking back on the whole list, content-wise, I have to say I’m pretty proud of the fact that I read some “classics”. I never thought I’d ever even consider reading one after Honors English. Good job, self.

Good reading year, too.

Writing–Reading Goals Update

booksSince we’ve accomplished half of a year already, I figure it’s time to check in to see how I’m accomplishing my reading goals.

As you may or probably don’t remember, this year I laid down the gauntlet of reading 24 books in total, 2 books a month, only 4 could be re-reads. The object of these goals was to get me into the habit of reading steadily. I also hoped that I would continue reading widely, which was what my reading goals emphasized last year, even though I put no restrictions on what I could read.

So, according to this, six months should equal 12 books. Let’s check the math. Here are the books I’ve read so far:

1. The Badge by Jack Webb

2. The Wit and Wisdom of Mark Twain: A Book of Quotations edited by Alex Ayres

3. Jaws by Peter Benchley (re-read)

4. The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove by Christopher Moore

5. Mortuary Confidential: Undertakers Spill the Dirt by Kenneth McKenzie and Todd Harra

6. Don’t Look Back, We’re Not Going That Way by Marcia Wallace

7. Ron Santo: A Perfect Ten by Pat Hughes and Rich Wolfe

8. Horns by Joe Hill

9. Just Farr Fun by Jamie Farr

10. The Tale of Halcyon Crane by Wendy Webb

11. The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger

12. Master and Commander by Patrick O’Brian

Looks like I’m right on target. Decent mix of fiction and non-fiction. Even got some chick-lit and a classic in there. It hasn’t always been easy getting in my reading time every day and I admit to being lazy about it sometimes, but I’m meeting the challenge pretty well. Reading two books at once helps.

The best part about this is that I have a pile of books waiting to be read. I won’t need to be scrambling for something to read any time soon.

Writing–2014 Reading Goals


Last year I got quite complicated with my reading goals. I needed to have so many fiction books and so many non-fiction books and only so many re-reads to make sure I was reading new stuff and so many outside of my genre to make sure I was reading widely.

Well, it worked. I did all of that. Sure I was reading three books at once in November and then December to make sure I got everything read, but I did make it happen.

This year? Scrap all of that complicated business.

My reading goals this year are going to be very simple.

24 books. 2 books a month. Only 4 can be re-reads.

There. Done.

I think I’ve grasped the concept of reading more widely. I think I can balance my fiction and my non-fiction. The main goal this year is to read steadily. I have a terrible habit of reading in fits and spurts. I’ll go a couple of months without reading anything and then I’ll read four books in a month. It might take me three months to read one book and then I’ll read another in a weekend.

I need to be more regular with my reading and I need to make a habit of that.

Hopefully, this year’s reading goals will help me accomplish that.

Writing–Books of 2013

Cover of "Rescue 471: A Paramedic's Stori...

As I said earlier this year, laziness led me to stop reviewing every book that I read, which was my form of accountability when it came to doing my reading goals. Instead, I kept a list of all of the books that I read during the course of the year, some reviewed on my blog before I abandoned that idea, but most of them not.

This is the full list, the whole list, and nothing but the list, but the list is not in chronological order. Re-reads are marked.

The moral of this list: my goals were achieved. At least 24 books. At least 10 non-fiction. More than one outside of my genre. More than one memoir. A couple from authors I know. Good job self.

1. Real Murders by Charlaine Harris (blog post)

2. A Bone to Pick by Charlaine Harris (blog post)

3. Charlie by Shana Hammaker (blog post)

4. Cycle of the Werewolf by Stephen King (blog post)

5. Fall Down Laughing by David L. Lander (blog post)

6. The Bullpen Gospels by Dirk Hayhurst (blog post)

7. Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion (blog post)

8. Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted by Jennifer Keishin Armstrong (blog post)

9. Emergency! True Stories from the Nation’s ERs by Mark Brown, MD (re-read)

10. Resurgence by Johi Jenkins

11. The Distant Hours by Kate Morton

12. Fat Chicks Rule! How to Survive in a Thin-Centric World by Lara Frater (re-read)

13. Trauma Junkie: Memoirs of an Emergency Flight Nurse by Janice Hudson

14. The Grimm Legacy by Polly Shulman

15. The Ghost Orchid by Carol Goodman

16. House of Many Shadows by Barbara Michaels

17. The Shadowy Horses by Susanna Kearsly

18. The Murderous Urges of Ordinary Women by Lois Meltzer

19. The Year of the Storm by John Mantooth

20. Shark Attacks: Terrifying True Accounts of Shark Attacks Worldwide by Alex MacCormick

21. Secret Lives of Great Authors by Robert Schnakenberg

22. Carrie by Stephen King

23. Rescue 471: A Paramedic’s Stories by Peter Canning

24. Doctor Sleep by Stephen King

25. Writer’s Gone Wild by Bill Peschel

26. Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife by Mary Roach

27. Aftermath, Inc.: Cleaning Up After CSI Goes Home by Gil Reavill

Writing–2013 Reading Goals Update…Again

Fiction Stacks

With a little less than three months to go, here’s where I’m at.

Of my goal of 24 books, I’ve read 20. Yay!

Since July, I’ve read one more non-fiction book which brings my total to five.

Since July, I’ve read five more fiction books which brings my total to twelve.

The non-fiction book wasn’t a re-read (yay!)

Of the five fiction books, I’d count four of them as being outside of my usual genre.

So, if you add this all up, carry the one, subtract the one non-fiction re-read…then I need to read six more non-fiction books and two more fiction books. And since I’ve been so good at reading outside my genre, the last two books can be horror if I want them to be, which is good because I just got Stephen King’s Dr. Sleep.

I’ve made up quite a bit of ground after my first six months of fail, but I’m still really lacking in my non-fiction reads. This is kind of frustrating considering how much non-fiction I used to read. You’d think it be easy for me to find a few books on various subjects to read about and yet…no. I’m really struggling in this department for some reason. It’s become an effort to get over it

So I need to read a total of eight books before the end of the year and most of them need to be non-fiction.

I’m sure I can do that.


Ugh. When did reading get so hard for me?

Writing–2013 Reading Goals

Fiction Stacks

I need to come up with some tangible reading goals for 2013.  So let’s do a quick review of what my 2012 goals were and what I actually did.

My goal was to read 12 books, 6 fiction (at least one from a genre I didn’t normally read), 6 non-fiction (at least one memoir and only one could be a re-read). In reality, I read 20 books, 6 fictions, 6 non-fiction, and at least one of the fiction books was from a different genre. I kind of blew the rest of the goals.

So here’s my idea for 2013:

-Read 24 books. That’s just four more than I did read and it averages out to two a month. That should be more than doable for me.

-At least 10 need to be non-fiction. I failed to read my required number of non-fiction books last year (strange since I usually prefer non-fiction to fiction). I need to do a better job of balancing my intake. It’s not quite half, but it’s close enough.

-Only ONE non-fiction re-read counts towards my total. I re-read non-fiction a lot so I have to watch it. I need to look for new stuff.

-At least one of my non-fiction reads needs to be a memoir. This was one of the goals I failed last year.

-Only one of my fiction re-reads counts towards my goal. I don’t usually re-read fiction, but I’ve been hankering to read a couple of Stephen King books again.

-I will continue exploring other fiction genres. That means I need to limit the number of horror books I read. I say no more than eight.

-Read more of books by people I know. I need to be more active in supporting the authors that I interact with on Twitter. Reading more of their books would be a good idea.

I think these goals will be a great way to keep me productively reading this year.

Let’s hope I do better at meeting (exceeding?) them than last year.

Writing–Reading Goals/50 Rejections Results

Fiction S-Z (a sequel)

I set myself two goals for the years. I wanted to get fifty short story rejections and I wanted to read twelve books. The results were mixed, but honestly, it was an overall fail for both goals.

First the fifty rejections. That was kind of a lofty goal, in retrospect. I tend to submit in bursts and I really didn’t have enough completed short stories to make this possible. Even the short stories I wrote during the year weren’t really enough to make up that deficit. Even though I scaled back the goal to twenty in November, it still wasn’t enough. As of right now, I garnered seventeen rejections for 2012. An improvement over last year’s total for sure, but far short of my goal. I think next year I’ll be a little more realistic and shoot for a more obtainable number.

The reading goals I set for myself were pretty specific (if you remember; I didn’t…I had to look them up). Not only did I have to read twelve books, six of them had to be fiction and six of them had to be non-fiction. Of the fiction books, at least one had to be in a genre I don’t read. Of the six non-fiction books, one had to be a memoir and only one could be a re-read.

The good news out of this is that I ended up reading a total of twenty books and I did read a couple of genres I normally don’t read. The bad news is that I failed in the non-fiction goals.

14 1/2 of the books were fiction (Margaritaville had both short stories and essays so I counted it as half). 5 1/2 books were non-fiction, falling half a book short of my six book goal. Two of those books were re-reads. And I didn’t manage to read a full on memoir.

So while I read more fiction than I usually do and read more overall than I have in a while, I totally bombed the non-fiction portion of the goals. I think next year’s goals are going to reflect that and my need to achieve balance.

Overall, I’m pretty disappointed with my lack of achievement. I’ve got some work to do next year.

Writing–Reading Goals

The amount I read in 2011 was pitiful. I mean I’m so ashamed of it that I see no reason to put an exact number how little I did read. Just know that it was pathetic and I’m embarrassed by it.

I’m also not going to offer up any excuses. I failed in that aspect of my job and I admit it.

In order to prevent another year of reading failure, I’m giving myself some pretty simple goals to achieve in order to get myself back on track.

The overall goal is to read 12 books this year, one book a month. I know that’s not much, but this is a bounce back year. It’s best to set the bar low to alleviate the possibility of disappointment and discouragement.

Of the 12 books I plan to read this year, six of them will be fiction and six of them will be non-fiction. This is because I have a tendency to read more non-fiction and as a fiction writer, I should probably be reading more fiction. This guarantees that at the very least, I’m maintaining an equal balance.

Of the six fiction books I plan to read, at least one of them will be in a genre other than horror (my preferred reading genre). I’m thinking chick-lit or romance because that’s pretty much as opposite as I can get and I really need to work on expanding my reading boundaries.

Of the six non-fiction books I plan to read, at least one will be a memoir. This is a genre I would like to write it at some point so I need to explore it. Also, of the six non-fiction books I plan to read, no more than ONE will be a re-read (I don’t re-read fiction like I do non-fiction, and there are a several non-fiction books I tend to re-read every year). I need to find something new.

I never said my reading goals were going to be lofty, but they do fulfill specific purposes and outline in concrete terms what I need to do in order to improve my game for the year. I’m that kind of person. If I see it set out just like that, then it becomes a challenge and I am one of those people that hate to lose.

And by completing these goals (and possibly exceeding them), I’m sure to win in more ways than one.