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Monday, January 31, 2011

Water, Ice and Snow

We're getting hit with freezing rain today, which is to change to snow tonight and heavy snow all day tomorrow. Ice and snow are enough to contend with, but add water--lots of water--into the mix and it gets even more interesting.

This morning, I got up at 6:45 and walked across the hall to my office to look outside and see if any precip had come overnight. I had a 9 a.m. appointment today, and driving on ice is not something I relish doing. As soon as I hit the office doorway, I saw a flashing light, zipped to the window to see a large city utility truck outside across from our driveway. A police car was also there, and men were walking in the street.

Ken went outside to see what was going on. The street was icy, and someone had slid into the fire hydrant that sits just a few feet from our driveway and the curb. The car was still sitting in the side of the fire hydrant and water gushing out all over the street.

I took a quick shower with water pressure lower than I ever remember it being here. Ken filled containers with water for use later in the day when they turn off the water main to replace the hydrant. It's three hours later, and the water is still gushing out, flooding the street. A tow truck has pulled the car and hydrant out, and a backhoe is here now preparing to replace the fire hydrant. It may take hours to replace, and while this is going on, we have no water. Ken had the forethought to fill some containers before the water was turned off.

I can only imagine the skating pond our street will be. Then add 7 to 10 inches of snow on top tomorrow, and it's a recipe for Winter Woes. I cancelled the appointment for this morning and another scheduled for this afternoon and tonight. Had two things to do tomorrow but looks like they aren't going to happen either.

I knew it was bad when I heard on our local radio station that the Kansas State University was cancelling classes, and the library on campus is closed. This almost never happens. We're only a small part of this storm system, as it looks to be spreading over a huge area of the Midwest. But I wonder how many others have ruptured fire hydrants to add to the fun.

Tune in tomorrow to see how long it took the city workers to take care of this mess. Not complaining, just kind of amazed at how long it is taking. More than one man out there has fallen on the slippery driveway and into the water. With below freezing temps, they should have frozen outer clothes in minutes! It would not be a choice job today.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Computer Woe Times Two

Seeing the UPS truck pull out outside our house late Wednesday afternoon made me happy. The new modem had arrived! But, guess what? It was not the modem he left on my front porch. Another package I'd been expecting sat there waiting to be picked up.

Thursday, I had a busy day from early morn til evening. One of the things we did was to attend a Landon Lecture Series on the K-State campus. The guest speaker was Justice Sonia Sotamayor, one of the more recent judges appointed to the Supreme Court. Ken and I were both very impressed by her answers to questions addressed to her by a three person panel. She's a most interesting person who appears to take her job very seriously.

But back to the modem story--the UPS man had left it on the porch while we were away. Happiness is what I felt when I saw the box there. I immediately opened it, hooked up the three cords and waited for the internet to magically appear. Just the fact that I figured out what cords went where is a major accomplishment for me--the world's biggest clutz when it comes to anything mechanical.

I called the tech support my server offers and got the 'next available representative' message. I wonder sometimes if they have only one guy there! After 50 minutes of waiting, I finally had to hang up and zip off to Bridge Club.

This morning, I tried tech support again and got a rep after less than ten minutes. Turns out that the company has been doing some conversions with DSL and there were some settings that had to be redone on my router and Outlook Express e-mail program. Shame the other guy hadn't mentioned that. Would have saved me a great deal of frustration.

The nice young man I spoke with this morning guided me through the changes, and I was connected to the world once again. There were 152 e-mail messages waiting for me. Guess what I'll be doing this week-end?
I'd like to tackle them this afternoon, but I'm booked with friends for a birthday lunch for two of them, which I know I'll enjoy. After that--the e-mails.

All this did allow me time Wednesday to begin sorting out the big notebook I keep of all the things I've written. It had become too full, so I purchased a new notebook and am dividing the writings into fiction and poetry for one book, no-fiction and articles for the other one. I'm about halfway done with that project. Feels good to get going on that job that has been nagging at me for weeks now.

Next week, back to my writing world here. Meanwhile, I wish all of you perfect running computers.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Computer Woes

I missed posting here yesterday due to computer woes. The signal on my modem was out and I tried all the little tricks the tech guys have given me over the years. All to no avail, so I called for a techie's help. Waited and waited and waited before one finally got to me.

Long story short--the modem had up and died! "Sorry, but you're past warranty on it, so it will be $49.95 for a new one. We'll ship it to you via UPS."

Ship it! How long is that going to take I wonderd. When I asked him, he said I should have it either Wednesday or Thursday. I'm sure hoping for today--Wednesday. Maybe by late afternoon. Right now, I'm at the library using a public computer. A little sign just flashed telling me I have only minutes left. Horrors because I have so much left to say!

I learned one thing, or rather I learned it again, because I already knew it. I'm totally addicted to my computer. It's my link to the world. And I miss it a lot.

Hope to be back on board very soon.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Reading Anthologies

We traveled home from Texas on Saturday and Sunday. The Great Unpacking is done and the laundry going full force this morning. It's always nice to have a winter break, but coming home is even nicer. As the miles rolled by, I sat in the car thinking about all the projects I wanted to work on in my writing life. Plotting and planning all the way home!

Another thing I did while we were away those ten days was to read all the stories in the anthologies I'd received as author copies. When they show up in my mailbox, I read my own story to see if it was published as sent, and to bask a tiny bit in the joy of seeing it in print. Then, I put the book aside with well-meaning intentions of reading it from cover to cover. Three had come just prior to the holiday season, and my intentions ran astray.

I finished the Guideposts anthology and must admit that I shed many a tear when reading some of the stories about extraordinary answers to prayer.I found myself feeling very blessed in so many ways after reading all that some people have been through.

Next, I dived into the Thin Threads book--In Times of Change. This was the first time I'd had my work in a Thin Threads anthology. I have to say that I've been very impressed with the quality of the work. I read the bios of the contributing authors and the caliber of the authors also impressed me. Many were professional journalists, writing instructors and full-time freelance writers. There were also writers who are not widely published as yet, so anyone that contributes a story has a chance here.

It's good to read the other stories in an anthology to compare your own work to the rest. I also find myself doing a little mental critiquing as I read. Being in my writers group for son long has left me mentally critiquing almost everything I read. Not a bad thing as it makes me more aware of a lot of little technical things in my own writing.

I think some writers who have stories in anthologies never get around to reading the entire book. It's too bad, for there is much to be learned and a lot to enjoy. The best part is that you don't need to read it all at once. It's the kind of book that can be put down and picked up a week later with nothing lost. I still have one to go and will make it bedtime reading.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Little Sayings

One of the pleasures of browsing in gift shops is reading the little signs for sale. You know the ones, I mean--done in all kinds of designs. Some are humorous like the one that says "Your husband called, he said you can buy anything you want." Others are life lessons or religious insights.

When we were in and out of little shops on Wednesday in Boerne and Comfort, Texas, I read what seemed like a gazillion of those type of signs. But two reached out to me far more than the others. One will give me inspiration while the other will make me laugh each time I think of it but also shake my head in agreement.

The first one was Everyday a new story begins. If that doesn't inspire a writer, something is wrong in her writing world. Look around you on each new day and find a story just beginning. They're everywhere. All you have to do is find them.

The other saying was Wine is poetry in a bottle. Wine is what I drink more than beer or hard liquor when cocktail time rolls around. And so, this little saying particularly appealed to me. Yes, there are times when sipping a glass of wine in a special setting with a special person does make it feel like poetry.

When you're out shopping and you run across these little sayings, write down the ones you like best. It's all too easy to forget them later in the day or week or month. Many of them will give you pause to think, might inspire you or tickle your funnybone.

We're off to Kerrville, Texas this morning. Maybe I'll find a third special little saying over there in a yet-to-be-explored shop.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

A Gold Star For Comfort, Texas

We stopped in a town called Boerne (pronounced Bur nee) yesterday morning. Less than 10,000 population but there were several fun little shops to browse in. Finished there and making a purchase of two birthday cards, we move on through the scenic hills to Comfort.

Boerne was small and Comfort much, much smaller. The sign we passed on the way into town said "Comfort--An Antique Town"  The commercial part of the town was two blocks from east to west and two blocks from north to south. We parked in front of the Cozy Cottage B&B. I opened the car door and was greeted with the sound of birds singing as if they were in Carnegie Hall. It made me smile to hear them offer us a welcome.

We walked across the street to what appeared to be a gift shop, but when we entered we realized it was filled with art works of all types. Most were from local artists and of high quality. The proprietor offered us "Welcome y'all" when we went in, and she was most helpful but not pushy. I found a Christmas gift for my daughter-in-law. Yes, Christmas of 2011--the first Christmas shopping done this early in the year, ever. Ken found a piece of pottery to add to his collection, so we left very pleased.

Next was lunch. We had two choices, one of which was the Texas Bistro. We walked into a very old building expecting a small town cafe but found a chef and a very upscale foods menu. The service was warm and friendly, the menu selections appealing, and the food wonderful. Score one more star for Comfort.

After lunch, we walked around the small downtown area, passing by the antique shops which don't appeal to us. If someone liked antiques, it would probably have added another gold star for them.

Comfort was small, quaint, and yes, I'll say it--comforting. Worth a stop if you're ever in the vicinity.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Heading For Comfort

We're going to Fredericksburg, Texas today with a couple stops along the way. One place we went to explore is a town called Comfort. Doesn't that name just pull you in immediately? I wonder who had the good sense to grace it with that name? Friends have told us that it's an interesting little town and to be sure to stop there. So, it's more than the name that is calling to us.

All the above points out the importance of names for towns and people as you write. If the town of Comfort had been named Martinville, would it have made me want to go there? Probably not. When you're writing fiction, don't name your characters haphazardly. Give some thought to those names. Does the name you select help form a picture of the person? Is it a strong name or a nothing type? Strong characters deserve strong names. Soft, comforting characters do better with the same kind of names.

Naming your characters is one of those little things that can make a difference. It won't completely  carry a story, but good names will add to a good tale.

Get our a map and look at the names. Which ones draw you in? Check a phone book or a directory of some sort and find the people names that please you.

I'll let you know tomorrow if Comfort was aptly named or not.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

More Stories Found In Texas

Yesterday, we spent a few hours and a lot of dollars at a huge outlet mall located on I-35 near San Marcos, Texas. The place is so big that it's necessary to drive from one area to another. Ken and I both were lucky to find a lot of things we liked at bargain prices. So, how could we pass them up?

At most of the shops, the clerk asked for our zip code, then would ask us where that was.
"Kansas" we'd tell them which inevitably led to further conversation about a time they'd been to Kansas, knew someone there, or would tell us where they lived before they'd come to Texas. It seems that an awful lot of folks here are from somewhere else, but they all said they love living in Texas.

Each one of those clerks is a story waiting to be written. Each one could be used as a model for a character in one of your stories. Your job is be observant, to listen carefully and file the information away for possible use later on. If one of them particularly impresses you, write a few notes, or a paragraph to keep the memory fresh when you get back to your car.

Even on vacation, my writer's mind keeps on working. Yours can, too. It  may not take a vacation. Look at all the people you encounter at the grocery store, the doctor's office or the auto place where you get your oil changed. Wherever there are people, there are stories.

Monday, January 17, 2011

The Worth of Eavesdropping

I became an eavesdropper yesterday, shamelessly so. We stopped for lunch in a small Texas town that has one of the best barbecue spots ever. Big smokers are the outside decor and the line for food begins outdoors, too. You order whatever meat you want--brisket, turkey, pork, prime rib, sausage--and the man slices til you tell him to stop. He then slaps it on a piece of parchament paper on a tray, weighs it so they know what to charge, and sends you  inside, where you pick up the side dishes to go with your meal. To say it's good is putting it mildly.

Long tables and stools fill the dining area, so you sit with and across from strangers. We found two empty stools and prepared to dig into our barbecued brisket. A woman sitting two stools down from me had a voice that drew my attention. A definite Texas drawl, decisive, and interesting. I stole a look at her as she carried on a conversation with the couple across the table.

She was tall, large boned, maybe 20 pounds overweight. She wore a suede tailored jacket, a cowboy  style hat and long, dangly earrings that added a bit of elegance to her person. As close as I sat, it was difficult to ignore her 'almost monologue' about her life. While I ate and, yes, eavesdropped I learned a lot about her.

She had two husbands, none now. She had no family so she could live anywhere she wanted to which is why she left Montana and moved to Texas. "Fell in love with this area," she said. "Weeds nine feet high on the place I bought." "I left a hunting business in Montana--too little money and too cold." She has four guns and a hoe by the  back door to keep the snake population down. At that point, I vowed never to visit this woman!

She didn't run cattle, as it takes too much investment to begin with. She was considering keeping one steer so she could have meat in her freezer later on. She chattered on and on, while the couple listening to her made occasional comments.

I took another look at her, and noticed her extremely lovely  complexion. The woman could have been a model for face creams. I watched in fascination  as her earrings swung to and fro during her chatter.

The worth of this little eavesdropping session is that I found someone who can and probably will be a character in a story someday. I know I won't forget her, but I want to write down the details. Later on, some things might easily be forgotten. Eavesdroppers sometimes run into treasure like this.

The brisket was every bit as good as we'd remembered, so a good lunchtime stop all round.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Searching For Warmer Temps

We're leaving our house in good hands and hitting the road this morning. My husband, Ken, felt like he needed a break from winter, so we're heading south. First to Dallas to visit our son and family for a couple days, and then on to the Hill Country in the San Antonio area.

We've been there before but it's a fun place and definitely warmer than Kansas is right now. We may stop to see friends who winter in New Braunfels, a charming little town between Austin and San Antonio that has a distinct German flavor.

I've filled my book bad with the anthologies that I've got stories in and haven't had time to read yet. There are three of them that have been waiting patiently for me. Ken has a new book he received for Christmas, so I'm looking forward to some reading time, some relaxation and maybe finding some new stories to write.

I'll have the laptop with me so will be checking in next week as usual.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

An Irish Murder Mystery

I finished reading Faithful Place by Tanya French several days ago, but off and on I've thought about the story. The fact that I didn't close the book, take it back to the library and then forget about it says something to me.

I enjoy an occasional mystery book but not a steady diet of them. It had been awhile since I'd read one, but a review I saw drew me to it. Set in Dublin and narrated by the main character, Francis Mackey, the story is part mystery, part dysfunctional family saga,and  part romance. The dysfunctional family theme seems to take over, perhaps too much so, since the Mackey family is definitely one of the most dysfunctional ever. If you enjoy studying people and why they make one decision or another, then you'll enjoy this book. The mystery involves a a disappearance of Francis' (or Frank as he is most often called) girlfriend twenty years earlier. Everyone thought she'd run off to England for a new life, deserting Frank who had planned to go with her. He moved on with his life as he became a detective, married and divorced. Suddenly, a long-buried body is discovered, and Frank has to find out who murdered his girlfriend and make peace with his estranged family, which still lived in the tenement sector of Dublin.He's filled with hate and anger with his family but still drawn to them, while his softer side comes out in the deep love he has for his nine-year-old daughter.

The mystery itself is one you'll figure out before the ending, but not until close to the end. For me, the mystery was secondary to the characters and the family story. Would I recommend it? Yes, I believe I would even though the language is x-rated.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

A New Venture

My writing world continues to expand as this 21st century moves on. Yesterday, I received an invitation to participate in a new nonprofit community internet radio station project here in Manhattan, KS. The director contacted me to see if I would be interested in the newest project they are working on.

Novels, short prose, and poetry will be read over an internet stream through their website and then be available on demand through the website for whatever period of time the author specifies. We e-mailed one another a couple of times after I expressed interest in the project.

I would be able to make the recording myself rather than have someone else read my work, and that pleased me very much. I've read my stories publicly a number of times and it's truly a pleasure to do so. Or, if I so choose, one of their readers will make the recording.

The next step is to fill out a permission release form and to select the pieces I would like to have featured. The latter is the hard part. This one? Or that one? What shall it be? One that is already published? Or one in the Waiting to Submit File?

A radio station using an internet stream on a website is definitely 21st century, and I hope to stay current with what is going on in my writing world. Stay tuned for more on this new project later.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Ride The Ferris Wheel

Do you take regular rides on the ferris wheel of submissions? If you don't, you should. Submitting your work for possible publication needs to be done on a regular basis. You can't send one story to an editor, then sit back and wait for the good news.

As soon as you send one submission, move on to the next one. A ferris wheel has plenty of seats, and it's up to you to keep them filled. One submission per swinging seat on the ferris wheel. Remember what a thrill it was to hop onto that seat and latch the safety bar, then move up to the sky and over, down and back again? It tickled your tummy, made you squeal sometimes. As I grew older, I learned to appreciate all that I could see from the top point of the ferris wheel, and I didn't want the wheel to stop.

The thrill of a submission ferris wheel is there, too. You feel it every time you receive good news from an editor for one of those stories you've sent. That seat's empty again, so find another piece of work to fill it up. As for those submissions that come back with a standard rejection notice, put them right back into another seat. Find another market and send it again.

Annette Gendler noted on facebook the other day that she'd received two acceptances in one day. Must have been a very pleasant surprise for her. If she'd only had one submission sent out, that might never have happened. Multiple submissions is the way to go. Yes, it's unusual to receive more than one acceptance on the same day, but, as you can see, it does happen.

I can hear someone saying, "But I don't have a file filled with lots of finished work." My answer to that is to spend a more time writing so you can build up that file. When a Call for Submissions comes out, you can go through your files to see if you have something that fits.

Keep a ferris wheel of submissions going at all times, and you'll reap the benefits.

Monday, January 10, 2011

My Two Cents On Huck Finn

I've read many op-ed pieces recently about the re-editing done by a college professor on Mark Twain's classic, Huckleberry Finn. In case you've been living in a cave and haven't heard about this, the gist of it all is that the n...... word is used over 200 times in the book. It's a cruel and despicable word that the majority of people today will not use. They don't want their children to hear it or use it either. And rightly so.

But Mark Twain did not write his story in the 21st century. He wrote it in the 19th century when the word was commonplace. He wrote the story about a boy and a runaway slave which has become a classic in children's literature. A book that adults read again. Our Kansas City newspaper's editorial today made a good point. The writer said that Mark Twain chose his words carefully. Yes, Jim was a slave, which is the word now being substituted in the new version, but in the time and place of this story he was also known as the n......... word. The book defines American society at the time, and it also shows how Jim moves from being the slave who was called n......... to becoming a man. It's an essential part of the story.

A worthy quote from the editorial is " is important to note that if we do not confront life's unpleasantries, it can be far worse than painful." He goes on to say "Author Mark Twain.s work perfectly captured an era. If we change his words, we fail to fully understand how Huck changed, and we lose a sense of how our own country has changed since the days before the Civil War."

I am against changing anything in Mark Twain's book. Children today should read it as it was written. I do, however, think that parents can and should sit down with a child and talk about the word used, about the times when it was written and how things have changed. Let them understand this before they read the book, and they'll have a better sense of the need for other changes and the great amount of time it takes to achieve them.

What happened before our time cannot be changed. It's history and should not attempt to make it something it wasn't. Nor should we take it upon ourselves to change the words of another author. If it happens once, it can only continue, and that, to me, would be a tragedy.

If you would like to read the Kansas City Star editorial, go to

Friday, January 7, 2011

Secret Writing

If you knew no one would ever see your work, what would you write? 

The above was posted today on a members only website group called SheWrites. The question was used in a list of writing prompts. I usually push writing for publication, but there's probably a benefit for some people to write something that no one else will ever see.

If you write to this purpose, you can dig deep into your feelings about a situation that may have been filled with anguish, fear, or loathing. What you might not be able to say publicly can be said in this one- on-one type of writing. Pull out all stops and let the words flow freely. Having done a little of this kind of writing myself, I know that sometimes what comes out is a surprise even to the writer. Once we let our emotions surface as we delve into a long-buried event or a period in our lives, the words seem to flow endlessly. And when you read those words, you may feel vindicated, cleansed, or satisfied, depending on what you're writing about. Writing in this vein is a step in the healing process for many people.

It sounds like all I'm advocating here is to write about negative happenings, but if you stop and think about it, happy times are the ones we're eager to share with others. So there seems to be no need to write about delightful times only for ourselves.

I once wrote a short essay called "Dusting Off Those Holiday Memories." I suggested spending a little time alone with holiday memories that contained difficult times. Look at them, assess them, and return them to your memory bank in hopes that they may not seem so dismal. Sometimes the deeper we bury the bad memories, the more they nag at us. I think it's good to revisit them from time to time.

So consider the exercise above and ask yourself what you might write if you knew no one would ever see it. Secret writing may not bring publication or a paycheck, but the personal  benefit might be well worth it.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Write About Color

I believe that writing exercises are beneficial to all writers. They don't need to be done on a daily basis, but now and then, they help us flex our writing abilities and even give us some material to save for later use. There are books and websites which offer exercises for writers. Try any search engine to find them, or go through your writing books to find them.

I found one to be especially enjoyable, and it produced a few paragraphs I liked so well I saved them in a file for later use.The exercise involved selecting a color. Then write a paragraph or more in which the color comes through clearly, but you cannot name the color itself. The object is to let the reader see the color.

The first time I did this exercise, my friend, Molly, and I were doing writing exercises and sending them to one another every day for about a month. The idea was that, if we knew we had to send it to our friend, we were definitely going to do the exercise. If not, it's very easy to set aside until tomorrow or the next day or....
Molly and I both produced some good paragraphs with the color exercise.

Another exercise dealing with color will give your brain a power workout. Choose a color--brown, green, blue--any color you like. Then list ten words that describe that color. Sounds easy, doesn't it? The first three or four may be easy, but then it gets a little more difficult.

Give both these exercises involving color a try. Use a different color each time. The next time you are writing a story, you'll have a whole new string of color thoughts.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Writer Quotations

Writers need motivation, and what better way to be inspired than to read quotes by accomplished, published writers? I read a quote by Mark Twain yesterday that left me smiling as some good advice was given with the humor and wit for which he was known. He said,

Substitute "damn" every time you're inclined to write "very;" your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be. ~ Mark Twain

You can find many more quotes from authors whose names are familiar to you and some whom you may not know. You'll receive a few smiles and you might pick up some good tips.Best of all, you may be inspired to write. Google using keyword like quotes by writers or quotes about writing.

Here are a few links to get you started:

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Commit To A Blog

Annette Gendler, a writer friend in Chicago, writes personal essays and memoir stories. She also teaches writing classes at StoryStudio  (  in her city. Yesterday, she entered the beautiful world of blogging. Her brand new blog called Memoir, Writing and Life can be found at  If you write creative nonfiction, this blog might be of benefit to you. I have signed on as a Follower and am looking forward to reading it regularly.

Another writer friend in England mentioned in an e-mail note today that she has a blog that needs nurturing. She confessed that she has been neglecting it. Good move on her part, as blogs need feeding it on a regular basis.

There are hundreds, thousands, and more blogs floating around in our cyberworld. You can't possibly read every single one that holds interest for you, so you have to pick and choose the ones that appeal to you for one reason or another. Maybe it's because you know the blogger personally. Or, better yet, that the information given has been helpful to you. Or, that the blogger writes so that you look forward to what he/she has to say when you click on the blogsite.

The one thing most readers do is give up reading blogs where the posts are haphazard and come with great lengths of nothing between them. Readers get tired of checking to see if there is a new post. I've tried to post Monday through Friday every week so that readers will know they can find something new on a regular basis. I don't have time to do that! say many bloggers. My reply is If you don't take time to do it, why bother having a blog in the first place?

Signing on to blog is a commitment. Whether your blog is about writing, repairing cars or brewing beer, you started it for others to read, so you'd better deliver the goods. If you want to post once a week, make it always on Monday or Friday or whatever, but do it so readers can rely on a new post at some certain time.

Give serious thought to all facets of being a blogger before you make the leap into Blogville. If you're ready to commit, go for it.

Monday, January 3, 2011

2011 Goals

I wrote the other day about setting goals rather than making resolutions. We can work toward our goals in small steps and we're more apt to stay with it. Those major resolutions sometimes seem so overwhelming that it's easier to just plain forget them. Next year, you tell yourself. It's so easy to to that.

Yesterday, I gave thought to what some of my goals for 2011 will be. It never hurts to make a list and keep it somewhere where you see it often. Don't stuff it in a drawer or the same thing will happen as it does with broken resolutions.

In my writing world, my goals are:

1.  Read more.  I love to read, but my reading time seems to become less and less. I'm going to try to set aside at least an hour every day to read a novel or nonfiction book. I do read newspapers on a daily basis, but I consider that a totally different type of reading. Still, it's better than reading nothing at all. I am well aware that being a good reader helps me be a better writer.

2.  Submit more If you don't submit, you don't get published. Can't be said more simply than that.

3.  Read more books about writing  Some writers only read books on the tools and techniques of writing when they are beginners. It's important to do so then, but it's also beneficial to continue to read about our craft. Like the world of medicine, new discoveries are being made all the time, new approaches. I want to learn about them.

4.  Write more poetry  I enjoy writing poetry but I don't do it very often. I would like to try different types of poetry this year

5.  Write more fiction.  I've concentrated on nonfiction in recent years, but I enjoy writing fiction, and I've had a few fiction pieces published. I'd like to write more and write better in the fiction world.

Five goals seems a workable amount. I could probably make the list a lot longer, but if I do, I'm limiting my chances of success. So, five it is. How many goals will you set for yourself this year?