New Year, New Adventure

I was sufficiently vague about some of my resolutions last week, but I can at least specify one of my  exciting new initiatives: I’m starting grad school today!

I was accepted into ASU’s MA in English program, a thrilling personal and professional development. My first graduate program was for Leadership, and I know I eventually want to get my doctorate — but would like to do something in an area in which I am passionate. As is evidenced by my blog, manuscripts & marginalia and not “motivation & management” or, you know, whatever.

I’m slightly nervous; it’s been almost four years since I took classes for my last graduate program. Can I remember how to student? To balance a full-time job with classes? I’m pushing myself to hit the ground running, notably with loading up on double classes for Sessions A and B in the first semester. There’s going to be a lot of reading with these classes and a fair amount of writing, too. I had my first anxiety dream in months last night, because I’m putting a lot on my shoulders this year and I’m nervous that I can’t carry this load, and that I’ll burn out. At the same time, I need to see what I’m capable of and test myself.

There are a lot of things I want from this life, in this world. It’s time I started earning them.

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Lofty Goals for 2016

In case you missed it, my first post of the year was about my 2016 word, forge. Go back and read it; this will set the stage for today’s post.

2016 goals

2015 was a good year, but with getting married and going on the best honeymoon ever (seriously, Japan is where it’s at; you’ll be going to beaches for the next ten-fifteen years if you have kids anyway), there was kind of this weird “plan everything around this three weeks of being MIA.” I had some cool ideas for things I wanted to start, but leading up to our wedding was bonkers and it felt odd to start something and then be gone for weeks, and then I just avoided the real world as much as possible after coming back; three weeks away from work is phenomenal and I wanted to put off responsibilities to keep that blissed out feeling burning as long as possible.

Of course it didn’t last, and it couldn’t, and now I’m more than ready to hit the ground running and get shit done for the year.


My broad goal: Write more, write more often. I’m still getting used to my new routine for the year and trying to make all the pieces fit together, but I’m going to try to work on my manuscript every other day. I also want to submit something for publication at least once a month — which means incorporating more flash fiction and short stories into my rotation.

(Oh, and one of the micro fiction pieces I submitted last year was published yesterday at The Drabble! Read “Something Like a Prayer” here!)

I’m also looking at expanding into more creative outlets, still focusing on writing but at a different level. Details forthcoming later in the year, I hope.


Guys like everyone is doing #HamAlong so I guess I’m doing #HamAlong, too. Which makes one of my goals to be actually stick with a readalong!

I’m also going to do Book Riot’s #ReadHarder challenge, though I don’t know where to start and would loooooove suggestions!

I’m also trying to read 50 books this year, my usual Goodreads tally. I barely hit my goal last year, which makes this year — with its own to be announced, exciting challenges — even more of a push. But I can do it.

Of course, I want to read more diversely and plan to incorporate more variety into my reading. Every year I end up focusing on one thing – mystery or horror or SFF – and I want this year to be a little bit of everything.

Also, I should probably clear out some shelves.


I feel like this blog is in a constant state of flux, and I’d like to have more stability and consistency this year. I’ll be resuming the Women in Fiction series next Friday, and I’m looking forward to having a full year to focus and hone that feature. I decided that I’m not going to do anything that I, effectively, can’t sustain – so weekly releases are out. I might talk about some books generally if I’m really excited about an upcoming release, but every week? Kill me. Listen to the All the Books podcast instead.


I don’t talk about a ton of personal stuff on the blog, but I want to be better about managing my time and prioritizing. I have some exciting things coming up this year (more next week on that particular front!), but I want this year to be just packed with experiences.

I’m also (re)committing to being healthier. My day job is the busiest around Thanksgiving (at least for me), and I got laid out by congestion and allergy/sinus shenanigans for most of December. The last couple of months I haven’t been great about fitness because my health goals have been “be able to breathe today.”

So yeah. 2016. Bring it.

What are your goals for the year? 

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One Little Word for 2016

This year I’m fully committing to Ali Edwards’ One Little Word project. I’ve already gotten a lot from the workshop so far, including tips on how to select a stellar word. I have to say, I am head over heels in love with mine (though it balks at being called “little”).


I thought a lot about what I wanted to accomplish this year, capitalizing on a great 2015 and pushing myself forward.

In fact, I considered “push” but found it to be wanting: negative, overly forceful, discourteous, and lacking respect. I wanted something with force, with momentum, and I sought similar words: drive, strive, propel.

Forge took hold of me and I gave it my consent. Not a soft, sweet “yes” like with my word for 2015, an “oh, you’ll do quite nicely;” instead, a loud, hearty bellow of agreement, the kind that echoes in your core.

My word is active, and that is one thing I want to define 2016. I have grown complacent in my adulthood, borderline lazy and certainly passive. I will give up easy comfort this year. I will work hard. I will hustle. I will earn.

It can also be grueling: hammering metal, bearing that awesome heat. Dangerous, repetitive, but a skilled act of creation. The same as writing, if you’ve been doing it long enough that it smolders within you and you have to find the right way to temper the flames, to let it burn without consuming.

And the seeming contradiction; the softer, human side that is less industry, more emotion: forging relationships. Something I have neglected somewhat, being an independent introvert. But something I will challenge myself to do. I let people in more in 2015, but I know that I am the friend valuable in the present, forgotten in the future, left behind in your past. I accept that, but I also commit to changing it, to creating stronger relationships and being a better partner.

To forge ahead: 2016 requires it. I loved 2015, but I know I can do better. I can make better, more often, with more people. There is more to achieve, and I will do it.

I will.

What’s your word for 2016? How can we support each other this year? 

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2015: A Year of Exploring?

Last year, I half-heartedly committed to focusing my efforts on one little word.


When I selected the word, I wrote that it was “about challenging myself, breaking out of my comfort zone, and immersing myself in experiences…Instead of staring at an obstacle and backtracking, it will mean finding a new route. It means breaking new ground and finding untapped reserves.”

I’m honestly not sure if I achieved that, but I think it’s partially because I didn’t commit to the One Little Word concept as much as I could have. I’m participating in the community/workshop aspect as well this year and I’m hoping I get more out of it.

I will say that I feel like I challenged myself this year, and more often than not I rose to meet those challenges head-on. I learned about the value of having a buddy system, a writing tribe, and collaborating with others. My exploration was less personal than I thought it would be, and more about expanding my relationships and letting other people in to help me navigate those new routes.

I had some lofty reading and writing goals, too.

I more than achieved my writing goals with NaNoWriMo: I let my characters breathe, and I gave up on such tight, controlled narrative outlines. I also wanted to find my voice, and not manufacture it. I know I’m on my way, and it’s come across in some of my more successful 1:1000 pieces and personal feedback I’ve gotten about my writing/blogging.

My reading goals were surprisingly unfulfilled. I haven’t run my numbers yet, but I don’t think I’ll be anywhere close to reading more diversely and exploring new genres and perspectives. If anything, I read comparatively little (I just hit my 50 book goal last night!) and mostly within my comfort zone.

I’m not sure what 2016 will bring, but I look forward to it. I may not have achieved every thing I wanted in 2015, but I’m ending the year happier, healthier, and more self-aware than I started.

How was your year? Did you participate in One Little Word?

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explore | marginalia

I’ve talked about diverse books a lot on the blog, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that diversity in reading ties back to my “explore” theme for the year. Exploring other cultures, perspectives, and identities through books? That’s a no-brainer for me.

I decided that I would take a look at my 2014 reading habits to see how I could challenge myself in 2015. I figured that 50% “outside myself” would be reasonable, because obviously I really care about diversity in reading, and I’m already reading a lot of diverse authors and books with diverse characters.

Except…my numbers don’t reinforce that.

Sure, I may have read a lot of books in which supporting characters were people of color, non able-bodied, or gay or lesbian, but I didn’t read many in which a main character presented a life terribly different from my own. There were a lot of white hetero characters with white hetero problems. Oh, and regardless, a lot of the books were penned by white folks. My author diversity stats ended up being around 8%. As in, 8% of the books I read were by an author who wasn’t white. I thought I’d hit 20-25%, but I was way, way off. It just goes to show that even with awareness, you still have to seek out “diverse” books and actively engage in the discovery process. My goal for this year is 25%; with a lot of the “looking to 2015” publishing posts that came out earlier this month, I’ve curated quite the future TBR pile. It’s a balance of different authors and genres.

I’m also experimenting with different types of books – more memoirs, essays, short stories, and maybe even some poetry. I’ve been solidly in the “novel” or “rousing non-fiction” camp for years, and I’d like to extend those boundaries.

What are you reading this year? 

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explore | manuscripts

With explore guiding me this year, I’m excited about writing a lot in 2015.

I’m challenging myself to be more focused on atmosphere and immersion than plot points. I won’t outline every moment, chart every interaction. I’ll give the characters room – real room – to grow. Maybe they will become bigger than I anticipated. Maybe their relationships will expand beyond the confines of my own limitations. I hope so. The lack of flexibility, of slack in the line, creates burnout. It isn’t fun. It isn’t good. I’m just a chauffeur, and I’m around to deviate.

The explore part of writing is giving up the meticulous plotting, but it’s also giving up my comfort zone. I’m changing up the setting and time period of my current manuscript, and it requires significantly more research and imagination. It’s daunting, but the pictures inside my head are more vivid than they’ve been in years. They have to be.

I’m also trying new techniques and approaches, allowing different genres and styles to ebb and flow within pieces. It’s weird, but I’ve fought for so long to cultivate a voice that it feels processed, disingenuous. I’m manufacturing me, or what I think I should sound like. My favorite 1:1000 pieces last year were the ones in which I didn’t try so dang hard, when I let the words take me to the story. I hope I’ll have more moments like that this year.

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One Little Word for 2015

This is the first year I will attempt to live with one word in mind.


Okay, fine, the first year in which I will attempt Ali Edwards’ One Little Word project, in which I select one word to help guide me throughout the year. Kim at Sophisticated Dorkiness has a wonderful post up today about her 2014 word (“curate” – such a great choice!) and how it lead to her pick for 2015.

As usual, I feel like I have no idea what I’m doing but I’m up for the challenge.

(Aside: will “I have no idea what I’m doing” be the tagline for my twenties?)

One thing I’ve struggled with in my writing is a clear, concise voice. I have a tendency to be verbose at the worst times. Choosing one word to “focus on, meditate on, and reflect on” for the year seems like a way to keep my bad habits in check and to reinforce the concept of an “economy of words.”

(Another aside: I really should’ve added this RDJ gif in after I drafted my blog post. Super distracting.)

After a lot of thought, I decided my 2015 word will be…


This is a year of new opportunities and challenges, and I’m choosing to meet them with renewed excitement and promise. After a year that sometimes felt like I was stuck with a perpetually-running “womp womp” soundtrack playing in the background, I’m ready for 2015.

For me, explore is about challenging myself, breaking out of my comfort zone, and immersing myself in experiences. It’s about embracing new experiences, perspectives, and philosophies. Instead of staring at an obstacle and backtracking, it will mean finding a new route. It means breaking new ground and finding untapped reserves.

An artist is an explorer. He has to begin by self-discovery and by observation of his own procedures. After that he must not feel under any constraint. — Henri Matisse

What’s your word for 2015? How can we support each other this year? 

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