What is it going to take to achieve my writing goals in 2019?
Can you believe we are already into the beginning of February 2019? Did you set goals for yourself this year? How is that going? Are you achieving them? These are questions I ask myself daily about the writing goals I have set for myself for 2019. How am I going to stay on the path I have carved out for myself and reach my goals?
Here are a few of them:
Goal #1 Finish and publish my second book, BETTER ENDINGS
My number one goal for this year is to bring my second book, BETTER ENDINGS to my readers. It is the sequel to RECKLESS BEGINNINGS with a third book to follow. I’m pleased with the progress I’m making and happy to say I’m about 50,000 words into the story. In order to reach my goal, I must set time aside strictly for writing, which in the past has been difficult to do when I work full-time at another job. Before structuring my writing time, I tended to try and fit it in wherever I could. An hour here, a couple of hours there and it was never productive and I always finished my sessions feeling disappointed.
I Now find, if I discipline myself and allocate a certain time of the day to writing and treat it like a job, the writing comes easier. Early in the morning when the house is quiet works for me. I begin my day at 5:00 am and refuse to leave my desk until I’ve written at least 1,000 words. I now find myself writing close to my goal within an hour and exceed it most days, which thrills me. No longer do I feel pressured to fit in writing time and with it being my first activity of the day, the rest of my day tends to be less stressful.
What can you expect from BETTER ENDINGS?
BETTER ENDINGS continues on where RECKLESS BEGINNINGS left off, following the path of Tammy Mellows. You’ll be reintroduced to some familiar characters, including her sister, Donna, Her best friend, Judy, her son, Matt and her father, John. You’ll also meet new characters, including a love interest called Dwayne. You’ll discover that Tammy has issues with trust and demons of her own that she must face and conquer before they destroy her.
Tammy eventually finds solace on the ocean and enters the world of commercial fishing, an industry dominated by men and hopes she can live up to their expectations and be accepted by the fleet.
Tragedy Strikes Tammy’s family not once but three times and she suffers devastating losses and while still trying to heal from the wounds, she suddenly finds herself fighting for her own life. Tammy comes to the realization, that life on this earth is short and sets out on a quest to fulfill her mother’s only wish.
Goal #2 Finish the steamy romance trilogy
I’ve also been working on a steamy romance story that will be a three book series. (You’ve been warned – it gets juicy). These will be quick, fun reads with each book having around 150 pages. I have yet to come up with a title but it will come to me. I have completed the first draft (47,000 words) of book one and currently going through revisions before it is passed on to my beta readers.
My plan is to have all three books written, edited and with covers before releasing the first one and then do a rapid release with the second and third ones being released shortly after. I hope to have all three available for purchase and in KU by the end of the year. Wish me luck!
Goal #3 Increase my knowledge and skills in marketing my books
When I told people I was writing a book, many would tell me, That’s the easy part. The hardest part is marketing it. Boy were they right! I’ve barely scratched the surface in marketing when it comes to my debut novel, RECKLESS BEGINNINGS. Even though I’ve had many interviews, radio interviews, I’ve been a guest on blogs and even had a segment on the evening news, there is still so much more to learn. Where to begin, is the overwhelming part and organizing some sort of promotional plan is a job in itself.
I’ve spent more money than I should have, trying to figure out what works and what doesn’t, but that’s okay. It’s all part of the learning curve and I now know where to focus my time. I’m slowly putting together a plan for each launch of a book, using social media, a few paid sites (That have positive results) and facebook ads which I am currently learning, testing and tweaking. I also plan on learning the art of AMS ads. But one step at a time.
I don’t expect success overnight. There are a million books out there and it’s not easy to get noticed but I’m enjoying the ride and I’m excited about the future. Over time as I continue to write every day and stick to my promotional plans and study hard, I believe it will get easier. My ultimate goal is to be able to write full-time. Having that dream is what keeps me going.
What are your goals this year? How are you achieving them? I would love to hear. Leave your comments below.
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New Reviews for Reckless Beginnings Since My Last Blog
I loved this book, could not put it down.😎 It shows the struggle of a very brave, strong but trusting woman who overcomes numerous hardships, but always finds a way. Cannot wait for the sequel. – Chicadeepatti
I couldn’t put it down as it piqued my curiosity. I’m looking forward to the next one. The story is tastefully done but draws the reader in as the story progresses with how Tammy can survive such an emotional roller coaster. – Deedee
I loved this book. The main character displays the kind of strength and resiliency that all women will find impressive. It is well-written and inspirational. – Avid reader
Book Review and Bonus Book Club Questions – The Mermaid Chair
As many of you know, I run the book club at our local library. We just finished reading The Mermaid Chair by Sue Monk Kidd. We had quite a discussion about this book. The author is new to all of us and at the end of our review, you will find questions to ask at your own book club.
About The Author
Sue Monk Kidd’s first novel, The Secret Life of Bees, spent more than one hundred weeks on the New York Times bestsellers list, has sold nearly six million copies, and was chosen as the 2004 BookSense Paperback book of the Year and Good Morning America’s “Read This!” Book Club pick. It was adapted into an award-winning movie in 2008.
Her second novel, The Mermaid Chair, a #1 New York Times Bestseller, won the 2005 Quil Book Award for Best General Fiction and was adapted into a television movie. Her novels have been published in more than thirty countries. She is also the author of several acclaimed memoirs and the recipient of many awards, including a Poets & Writers Award. She lives near Charleston, South Carolina.
The Synopsis of The Mermaid Chair
Inside the church of a Benedictine monastery on Egret Island, just off the coast of South Carolina, resides a beautiful and mysterious chair ornately carved with mermaids and dedicated to a saint who, legend claims, was a mermaid before her conversion.
When Jessie Sullivan is summoned home to the island to cope with her eccentric mother’s seemingly inexplicable behavior, she is living a conventional life with her husband, Hugh, a life “molded tot he smallest space possible.” Jessie loves Hugh, but once on the island, she finds herself drawn to Brother Thomas, a monk about to take his final vows.
Amid a rich community of unforgettable island women and the exotic beauty of marshlands, tidal creeks, and majestic egrets, Jessie grapples with the tension of desire and the struggle to deny it, with a freedom that feels overwhelmingly right and the immutable force of home and marriage.
Is the power of the mermaid chair only a myth? Or will it alter the course of Jessie’s life? What happens will unlock the roots of her mother’s tormented past, but most of all, it will allow Jessie to come to discover selfhood and a place of belongings as she explores the thin line between the spiritual and the erotic.
Jessie the main character, seems to be going through a mid-life crisis and begins to question her marriage to Huge after twenty years. At the same time her mother Nellie is having mental-health issues. Jessie travels alone to tend to her mother’s needs who has lived alone since the death of Jessie father when Jessie was only six and had always thought it was her fault.
While visiting her mother, Jessie has an affair with a monk called Witt and is ready to leave her husband. The speed at which she came to this decision, seemed unrealistic and was when our dislike for her began. (I believe it was after their first encounter).
The story then unfolds many truths, some of which are shocking. Surprisingly we all had different opinions about the book. One member absolutely loved everything about the book, from the author’s style of writing, the main character Jessie, whom she related to and in some way, Jessie reminded her of herself.
A couple of us didn’t like Jessie or the way she treated her husband and left us feeling only anger toward her. We asked ourselves, Why didn’t she talk to her husband about how she was feeling? A big bombshell was dropped in the story about her father’s death that none of us were expecting and also created more feeling of anger with some of the other characters.
We all felt sorry for Jessie’s husband, Huge because of the way he was treated by Jessie. (Well I know I did.) Huge seemed like a really nice guy but toward the end of the book, he disappointed a majority of us.
Overall it was a good story with some unexpected twists. Parts of it dragged on and became too descriptive for some of us, to the point where we had to backtrack because we had forgotten what the author was describing. This happened numerous times throughout the book and prevented us from keeping engaged with the story.
Our Overall Rating
COVER DESIGN – 5 STARS – It’s an intriguing eye-catching cover that entices you to pick up the book and read more.
CHARACTERIZATION – 3 STARS – We disliked the main character and was disappointed with Huge. Some of their actions seemed unrealistic and rushed.
STORY & PLOT 4 STARS– The storyline was good. At times it dragged on and wasn’t engaging.
OVERALL RATING – 4 STARS – Overall we gave this book 4 stars
Questions to ask at your book club
1. How does a woman like Jessie become “molded to the smallest space possible”? What signs might appear in her life? What did Jessie mean when she said part of the problem was her chronic inability to astonish herself?
2. Jessie comes to believe that an essential problem in her marriage is not that she and Hugh have grown apart, but that they have grown “too much together.” What do you think she means by that? How important is it for Jessie to find her “solitude of being”? How does a woman balance apartness and togetherness in a relationship?
3. How would you describe Nelle before and after her husband’s death? What is your interpretation of the mysterious factors that led her to cut off her finger? What do her fingers symbolize? How does the myth of Sedna—the Inuit mermaid whose severed fingers became the first sea creatures—shed light on Nelle’s state of mind?
4. Jessie feels that she has found a soul mate in Whit. Do you find this word inviting or repellent? When we speak of looking for a soul mate, what do we mean? Is there really such a thing?
5. Why do you think Whit came to the monastery? Would you describe him as having a crisis of faith? In what ways does he vacillate between falling into life and transcending it? What do you think of his decision at the end about whether to leave or to stay?
6. Islands are often places of personal trial and distillation of self—such as Shakespeare’s The Tempest or Golding’s Lord of the Flies. What are the emotional islands upon which each character is stranded? What is the significance of the Egret Island setting? How does each character finally escape the island of his or her making? What does the trial on the enchanted island reveal about each character?
7. St. Senara only becomes a saint once an abbot hides her fish tail and prohibits her from returning to the sea. On one hand, she has lost her wild nature and freedom to swim away, but on the other hand, she has gained sainthood among the humans she has grown to love.
What is the significance of this tale in Jessie’s life? When she leaves her husband to return to Egret Island, is she the wild mermaid or the stranded saint? How does the duality of the mermaid and the saint play out in women’s lives? Can a woman contain both? Why do you think mystics and poets have drawn comparisons between sensual delight and godly delight?
8. The mermaid chair is a central image in the novel. What does it symbolize? What role does it play in the novel? In Jessie’s life? In her father’s? How does it become a place of death and rebirth for both of them, literally and figuratively?
9. How would you describe Jessie’s relationship with her father? How did having an absent father affect her? How did it affect her relationship with Hugh? What do you think Kidd was suggesting, by the image of the Whirley girl?
10. Jessie breaks away from creating her tiny art boxes and begins to paint, finding her true gift. Why is she unable to take up her authentic creative life before this? What role do her paintings play in her metamorphosis? How does Jessie’s series of paintings of diving women reflect her own experience? What role does the motif of diving play in the novel?
11. The novel celebrates the hallowed bonds of women and suggests how a true community of women can become a maternal circle that nurtures a woman toward self-realization and helps her to give birth to a new life. How do Kat, Hepzibah, and even Benne play a role in Jessie’s transformation? What has been the importance of female communities in your own life?
12. In perhaps the most moving and cathartic moment in the novel, Jessie goes to Bone Yard beach and speaks vows of commitment to herself—“’Jessie. I take you, Jessie…for better or worse…to love and to cherish.’” What does it mean to make a “marriage” to your self? Paradoxically, Jessie discovered that belonging to herself allowed her to belong more truly to Hugh. Does an inviolate commitment to oneself enhance one’s commitment to a relationship?
13. In your mind, was Jessie’s father’s death a sin? Jessie isn’t sure if choosing to end one’s life in order to spare oneself and one’s family extreme suffering was horning in on God’s territory and usurping “the terrifying power to say when,” or whether it was usurping God’s deep heart by laying down one’s life as a sacrifice. What do you think?
14. The Mermaid Chair suggests that a love affair may be a common response to a marriage that has lost its way, but that in the end, it is not a solution. In what way do you think the novel is a cautionary tale? Why do you think Jessie is unable to heed the warnings from Kat and Hepzibah? How could Jessie have found awakening without betraying her marriage?
15. Upon her return home, Jessie says, “There would be no grand absolution, only forgiveness meted out in these precious sips. It would well up from Hugh’s heart in spoonfuls and he would feed it to me. And it would be enough.” Why does Jessie return to Hugh? Why is Hugh able to accept her back into his life? How has their relationship changed since she left for Egret Island? How has Jessie changed?
(Questions issued by the publisher.)
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New Reviews for Reckless Beginnings Since My Last Blog
IThis story was easy to read and involved enough to keep my interest. It didn’t take me long to read and I had a hard time putting it down. It’s not deep but it sure isn’t a cozy. It’s a somewhat different storyline with both good and bad characters. Each character has his or her own personalities and even though there are several, I never had one problem keeping them separate. This is a very important aspect for me. Having to turn back to figure out “who is who” is a great irritation to me. I found none of that here.
So, in conclusion…a good storyline, interesting characters, and a very interesting read. Not much more you can ask than that is there? – – Bookaholic
AMAZING STORY. So well written, I could not put it down. I CANNOT WAIT FOR BOOK 2… I sometimes read so fast, I can skim over words.. not this book. I hung on to every single line.. so well written, such good detail, I felt and knew each character and felt each feeling.. was just great.. thank you! Sad I am divine with it! So glad Judy hit him with the poker! – Jennifer Dobos-bubno
I loved this story, it was amazing!! It totally captured me from page 1. After reading the first few chapters I was addicted and couldn’t put the book down. I did nothing for the rest of the day but read even though I had a long list of stuff to get done. Reckless Beginnings by Tina Hogan Grant is a well-written story based on the author’s life. This is such a touching story about surviving. I personally find her work amazing in every way. Her writing is so good. The book is exceptionally well written and beautiful. The characters are all well developed and relatable. you can feel all their emotions and they grow beautifully as the story progresses. – Stewart’s Book reviews