Monday, December 29, 2014

Goals - Mine

Remember last week?  I discussed attaining goals and the method to use was S.M.A.R.T which is —

S = Specific
M = Measurable
A = Achievable
R = Realistic
T = Time Bound

Well, it is that time of year when come midnight on 12/31 we will celebrate, kiss, toast 2015 and make New Year Resolutions.

Last year I toasted, kissed my wife and celebrated the New Year with a few friends.  The idea of resolutions didn't come to me until the next morning.  After some serious thought, I decided what I would do —

1. Lose weight
2. Publish four (4) books
and some other stuff but we won't go into that …

So how did I do for the year?  I actually did lose some weight.  At least, according to the doctor when he weighed me in for an office visit and I was down almost 10 pounds by April.  To be fair, I just checked my weight.  Okay, almost a year later, I am down about 5 pounds.  Is that good?  Sort of.  As my doctor stated, You didn't gain all this weight overnight, so don't expect to lose it overnight.

Hmm?  It took me about 30 years to gain all this weight.  I really don't think I have 30 years to lose it.  Therefore, some drastic action must be taken.  I want to lose 100 pounds.  At the current rate of 5 pounds per year, it will take another 20 years.  That could be doable but really?  Do I want to look good the last 2 or 3 days of my life — considering if I live another 20 years?  Okay, if I shed 10 pounds each year, it would only take 10 years.  Again, good potential but not quite what I had in mind.  And, personally, I don't think that is what the doctor had in mind, either.

BUT, if I could lose 50 pounds this year and another 50 next year … I would reach my goal.

So, using S.M.A.R.T. I have decided I want to lose 50 pounds this year by Dec 31, 2015.  I am being specific, it is something that is measurable.  Is it achievable and realistic?  If I lose 5 pounds each month, then, yes, it is achievable and realistic.  But I'm not being honest with myself:  I'm a diabetic.  I'm old.  I'm very sedentary.  Let's re-calculate and say 25 pounds for the year.  If I can lose more, that's called a gravy bonus.  By changing to 25 pounds, I think I have something achievable and realistic.  Since I have set the date as December 31, 2015, I have locked it into a time table.

Next resolution.  Publish four (4) books.  I didn't.  I tried.  I got the first book published by allowing myself a month (January) to finish the cleanup.  It took until early April.  Way off schedule.  My tentative schedule was to have book 2 done by the end of April.  Okay, I did get book 1 out and it was Pangaea, Eden Lost.  Book 2 was supposedly (working title) Jewyl.  Instead, I put together a how-to writing/editing book titled 52 Weeks of Writing Tips and SURPRISE!  It was published early April (about a week later) with a promotion release date of May 1.  I was back on schedule.  Not exactly the books I'd planned but I had two books out for the year.  I still had time to get Jewyl ready and my next "due date" was late August.  Plenty of time.  Hmm?  I didn't calculate the summer and traveling with grand kids to go camping.  Plus there was the garden, too.  Did I mention lawn mowing?  August was soooo far away — I had plenty of time.

Waste not.  Well, I did.  Like the proverbial grasshopper, I fiddled my summer away and Labor Day was upon me and book 3 wasn't even close to ready.  I thought I had it ready when I caught a major flaw in my story: the heroine was stumbling along, following everyone; not leading.  Wrong!  Major re-write needed.  Plus, it seems Fall must be a magical time for writers since my skills as an editor were called upon and I was suddenly deluged with several well-paying editing projects.  Let's get real here.  I'm retired and on a fixed income.  This was welcome money.  Three edit jobs found me pushing into November which is NaNoWriMo.  I wasn't going to participate.  Day 3 — Yeah, hook, line and sinker.  I was doing NaNoWriMo and finishing up an edit job.  I finished the story, and the month of November, with the promise of another edit job.  December became a month of holidays, editing and no writing for me.

So I only published two books.  Not my goal but still, I did get two books published.  That, in and of itself, is quite an accomplishment.  Just think how awesome it would have been to publish four!!!

Therefore, once again, using S.M.A.R.T. I will attempt to publish three (3) books during 2015.  I still have Jewyl waiting in the wings, plus my Amish novel, and Fire Life is glaring at me.  I think I'm good at three, but I might be able to do four.  Let me see, set a goal of three, shoot for four, and maybe do five.  Now THAT would be quite an accomplishment.  I'll be happy with three.

This blog will be released on 12/29.  What goals are you setting, have you set, or will you set for yourself for 2015?  Share your S.M.A.R.T. goals with me and we'll keep tabs on each other during 2015.  Won't that be fun?  I promise not to shame you during the year.  I'll just make comments during the passing time to help us keep on schedule.  A reminder is always helpful.

Until next I ramble on …

Monday, December 22, 2014

Setting Goals

The new year is almost upon us — mere days away, in fact.  As a writer, I usually attempt to set goals and next week I will discuss mine … but right now, I want to focus on yours.

Come the midnight hour on 12/31/2014, we will cheer, kiss and toast to the New Year 2015.  Then we will blurt our intentions, calling them resolutions for the new year.

I will lose weight this year.
I will finish that novel.
I will … blah-blah-blah

Those are not goals.  They are not resolutions.  They are hollow wishes of ambiguous ideas.

I will lose weight this year.  Yeah, right.  So come 12/31/2015 and you now weight 1 pound less than you did a year ago, if you even remember what your weight was on 1/1/2015!  There is no goal.  Just a wish.  In fact, I promised myself that I would lose weight during the year.  I did.  I was able to reduce my weight by 15 pounds.  I am very proud of that fact.  Unfortunately, I have to admit complete and utter failure.  I wasn't able to maintain that loss.  So, in reality, I didn't lose weight and keep it off.

I will finish that novel.  Again.  Blah, blah, blah.  What novel?  Some ambiguous collection of words that you've so valiantly flipped in front of your friends claiming it is a book?  I heard my friend claim she was going to get serious about her writing in 2014 and finish her novel.  Did she?  No.  In fact, she barely talks to me because when we greet, I ask her about it.

If you're going to set goals, I learned to be SMART.

S = Specific
M = Measurable
A = Achievable
R = Realistic
T = Time Bound

Yes, this is what you need to set goals and reach those goals.

Specific.  "finish my book" is not specific.  "Send the book to at least 5 publishers" is specific. To claim "I will lose weight" is not specific.  "I will lose 50 pounds" is a goal and specific.

Measurable. With writing, make your goal measurable. NaNoWriMo teaches this by forcing the author to write 1667 words or more each day for 30 days to finish 50K words in a month.  By setting a measurable amount, whether it be 5 pages or 2K words each day, you establish a point to reach.  As with weight loss, keep track of the pounds you lose.

Achievable.  If you're a 300 pound person, to set a goal to wear size 30 inch waist jeans is not achievable in three months. You're setting yourself up for failure.  The same holds true for writing.  You're not going to write the #1 best-selling novel in 30 days.  You could, but the odds are stacked against you.  I have a friend who thought when she finished her very first book, the first publisher she approached would "snap up" her novel and she'd be published, doing talk shows and in the limelight.  She thought this would all happen in the 3 to 5 weeks after her completion of the novel.  Needless to say, she was rudely awakened when the editing took almost 8 months to clean up the novel.  Also, her first publisher choice she sent it to rejected it.

Realistic. Writing 50K words in 30 days is a very lofty aspiration.  Some are able to attain it.  It is a possible realistic goal, but you have to realize what you will give up.  That little 30 minute chit-chat with Suzy, 3 hr shopping spree with the girls or 2 to 3 hr game with the guys won't be on your social dance card.  If you're married, have children or care for another, that is time taken away from writing.  Make your goal achievable and realistic.

Time Bound.  Time is the writer's enemy.  It is also the weight loss enemy.  It always seems there is more time than reality allows.  Set your goal to sensibly stretch the proper amount of time.  You're not going to lose 50 pounds in 1 month.  You could, but your health will be at risk.  When establishing time goals in writing, be honest with yourself and your skills and your time available.  If your social life is very time consuming, don't expect to set aside several hours, 4 or more, to write.  To set a goal of losing 50 pounds within the next 6 months is a great example of being time bound in your goal.

With the few days left of 2014 to evaluate your life and establish your goals for the coming year, now is the time to use SMART to create your new year's resolutions.  Maybe, come this time next year, you will be able to sit back and smile, your goals reached.

What are some of your goals?  Do you want to lose weight?  Quit smoking?  Eat better?  Publish a book? Write a novel?  Tell me how you envision using SMART to reach your goals.

Until next I ramble on …

PS: As a special Christmas treat, for my blog readers, I am offering a short-story to read.  Enjoy.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Writing: Talent or Skill?

Do you remember your first story/novel/article/poem?

Yeah, it was perfection.  There was nothing that could be added to make it any better.  The angels sang your praises of the wonderfulness of the accomplishment.

Yeah, right!

Okay, I'll back off.  Your mother praised it. Your aunt sang its glories. Your friends stood in awe of your accomplishment. The manuscript was literally ready to be etched with gold leaf into expensive Italian marble for all prosperity.

Yeah, right!

Publisher reality check!  They rejected it.  Your dreams.  Your hopes.  Your aspirations.  DASHED!!  All of them thrown into the chasm of disbelief.

Does a writer use talent or skill to produce a salable manuscript?

My son has talent. He can weave a story that will hold your interest and make you want to turn pages faster than you can read.  In fact, he got an A on a short story he wrote back in school - I think he was in 8th grade.  It was titled: I Wished My Dog Had Ate My Homework But An Alien Stole It.  I loved it and, obviously, so did his teacher.  As I said, he can weave a tale.  Today, his daughter is getting ready to enter 8th grade next year and well, he can still tell some whoppers - and so can his daughter!

Yes, the kid has talent, but...

He doesn't has the skill.  English wasn't his forte class in school.  He's been published in an anthology but it took an immense amount of work.  His story he submitted to an anthology was unique.  His story grabbed the editors' eyes and they overlooked the bad formatting and English because the story was great.  When I say "formatting" I am really saying that his skill at punctuation, capitalization, sentence structure and spelling were atrocious.

Now, a little history.  When my son submitted this story of his, he used an alias, including the snail-mail address.  Both editors had had a chance to read and score the story.  Both thought it worthy but needed a drastic amount of work.  I was one of the editors.  He came to visit and I was working on the submissions.  I was getting ready to contact the authors, letting them know if they had made the cut. He asked what we did with those who submitted under an alias.  I explained that they would need to let us know their real name if they were published.  He confessed and I had to withdraw myself as a judge.  To be fair to the other judge, I explained that the submitter had been in contact with me, revealing their identity and I felt I couldn't judge fairly any longer since I knew who it was.  So the other editor was to make the decision if we'd go forward with the story or drop it. She decided to keep it and would be in contact with the author to get the corrections done.  My son decided to use his real name.  My co-editor was pleasantly surprised.  And the rest is, as is so often said, history. Nights of Blood 2: More Legends of the Vampire went to press.

This was before self-publishing via Amazon and other places was available. He had the talent to compose a story but it took the skill of others to make it something marketable.

Today, many authors don't bother with a publisher and go directly to self-publishing a book. They may have the talent to tell a good story but they don't have the skill to write the story.  OR, they may have the skill to write a story but not the talent to tell it properly.

The problem is many of them feel they have both the talent and the skill.  They don't.  An editor can help to guide the talent and skill to produce a viable book.  It is a necessity for an editor or publisher to correct the story and make it marketable.

So, does talent make you a writer?  Does skill make you a writer?  Or does it take both talent and skill?

What's your take on this?  Do you have talent or skill?  If you have one, can you learn the other?  Why or why not?  Share.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Procrastination and the Internet

Anyone who is a procrastinator - please raise your hand.

Yeah, my hand went up.  I'm a procrastinator.  Sometimes, really big time.  In fact, today is a perfect example of my exceedingly bad procrastination.  I do a weekly writing tip ( and a weekly blog (what you're currently reading) and I tend to wait until the last minute.

Oh sure, I've written posts earlier in the week. In fact, I've even written some of them 2 and 3 weeks in advance of their appearing in cyberspace. I didn't always wait until the last minute.

Today?  I waited until after 11 p.m. to even begin composing my writing tip and due to my "wonderful" high speed internet connection, this is taking even longer.  For some reason, I'm finding myself connected to the "local" network more than the "internet" network.  What does that mean?  No internet connection.

So how does a slow or not connecting internet have any relationship to procrastination?  Simple.  I'm having an awful time getting my writing tip and blog up and into cyberspace. I always try to have it up and posted before midnight so everything is ready to go shortly as midnight on a Monday morning.

My writing tip needed a little research.  One cannot simply whip up a writing tip without some references. Of course, under duress of no continuous connection, references can be omitted if the topic is a simple or easy one.  Obviously, with a crappy connection, I had to change my writing tip to something that I knew and could talk about with some authority.  I love doing character descriptions and defining the cast in my stories.  I want to know who I'm writing about so my readers get to know them, hopefully, as well as I do. Hence, this week's writing tip ( is about knowing your character.

Normally I will write my blog and writing tip early in the evening on Sunday night since both are due on Monday - my decision.  I get concerned and worried when I haven't started by 9 p.m. and even begin to get antsy by 10 p.m.  At 11 p.m.?  This is the worst-case scenario of procrastination.

It is now almost 1 a.m. on Monday morning and here I am, typing feverishly to get this blog finished.  My writing tip is finally posted and available.

What does dawdling until the last possible moment to begin the dual posts mean?  Simple.  I will, more than likely, write my tip and blog much earlier next week.  I may even compose them during the week.  In fact, there is a good chance I will write a couple of them so I am ahead of the game as the holidays come closer.

Want to know a secret?

I'm a procrastinator.  Next Sunday night will find me scurrying about, attempting to compose a blog and writing tip while fighting with my internet connection.  Some things can change.  Procrastination?  Seldom.

With a little luck and a chance connection - I might even get this posted before 1:15 a.m. but I'm not holding my breath - I know better.

Are you a procrastinator?  Were you a procrastinator?  How did you beat the odds and become timely OR still remain a procrastinator?  Share your experiences - I need help.

Hi, everybody. My name is Bob Nailor and I'm a procrastinator.

Until next I ramble on...

Monday, December 1, 2014

NaNoWriMo Update

Simple.  30 days.  50,000 words.  Anyone can do it.

Sure, anyone can do it but that person has to be willing to put aside many aspects of their life. I'm fortunate. I'm retired. I don't have a life.  Not really.  Yes, I am retired but I do have a life. I don't sit around the house with nothing to do but sit in front of the boob-tube and watch TV all day.  I'm active with weekly things like worship practice, getting the mail, taking out the trash, during the summer - working in the yard and garden, during the winter - reading and doing some projects that can only be done indoors.  I also visit family and friends.  I shop, cook, occasionally help clean the house.  I spoil my grandchildren and like any good husband, annoy my wife so she will continue to love me.  And I write... of course.

But, I did it.  I got my novel finished.  Yes, I did the 50,000 words - actually, it was 51,768 words of very poorly written prose.  I now have the main structure of another novel completed.  I will let it set for a variable length of time then re-approach it with what I'd like to think, a critical eye to plot, character and story line.

What did I write?  An Amish horror story.  If you'd like to read the first not quite 5000 words, then just click on The Amish Hunter (or to read the beginning.

Overall, it was fun and I hate to admit it, but I actually wrote myself into a corner at about 39k. I had to do some decisive thinking and fancy foot-work at re-arranging things to get my story back on track.  I'd tell you the details but I don't want to give away any secrets of the book.  Yes, the plot took a change, added another sub-plot and, I am hoping, made for a better tale.

This is my 14th entry into NaNoWriMo and the 13th time to complete the task. At least 3 of the novels have seen publication and a 4th is currently with an agent seeking a publisher.

My job, if I decide to accept the task, is to get all these stories cleaned up and out on the market.  They do no good sitting on my hard drive in cyberspace.  THIRTEEN stories you ask?

Here is a listing of my fourteen years of doing NaNoWriMo.

2000: A Snowbird's Guide to Pecans. Not finished. A pecan cookbook. Failed 1st attempt at NaNo.
2002: I'htha. A native American detective story involving a cross-breed, vampire-werewolf.
2003: The Legacy of Pangaea. Now published as Pangaea, Eden Lost, see Amazon.
2004: Zilli: A Fairy's Tale. A fairy goes on an adventure.
2005: Jewyl and The Singing Crystals of Mystyk Mountains. Jewyl and Chardo's 2nd adventure.
2006: White Rose, Yellow Dragon. A historical, literary romance taking place in Hong Kong.
2007: Gray: An Alien Journey. An encounter that wakes up wrong thirty years later.
2008: 2012: Timeline Apocalypse. Now published, see Amazon
2009: Circle of Stone. A man seeking his future by finding his true past in stone circles.
2010: Vamazons. Now published as Ancient Blood: The Amazon, see Amazon.
2011: An Amish Voice. To an agent. An Amish boy who finds himself via his voice amid Civil Rights.
2012: Snow Snake. Large snakes discovered in the snowy fringes of Canada.
2013: The Treasure Within. An old gold-miner leaves a secret, but what is it?
and of course 2014: An Amish Hunter.

If you'd like to sample read any of the above, please go to Bob Nailor's Webpage of Works in Progress. The only one you'll NOT find will be the cookbook.  Don't know why I haven't put up a sample of what it will be like.  Hmm?  Maybe I will.

Each year, for the last few years, I swear I'll not do NaNoWriMo the following year. This year I was able to abstain for almost 3 days into event before breaking down.  My mission was to finish before Thanksgiving. I did and only because I had some fantastic days where I was able to write - the words flowed without any hesitation - and do upwards of 10k words or more.  Even when I got cornered and blocked, the next day was a great writing day to get me back on track and stay ahead of schedule.

Right now I have a Viking tale that is nagging for some attention.  Unfortunately, I have a couple of editing job to finish before Christmas for some clients.  Also, I have a novel - Yendisa - that I would like to get finished with the final edits so I can get it published.  I'd hoped to publish four novels this year but I can see that ambitious goal is not going to be met.  Maybe next year will the year to get four out.  Still, I did get two books out this year and the one has been selling pretty well and even made it to #2 for Editing on Amazon -- and it wasn't free!

Until next I ramble on...