Tag Archives: writing

Here in the Mermaid Lagoon, we’re talking about finishing our books. So, how do I finish writing my books? When I’m nearing the finish line, this is how it generally goes.

Lisa Simpson Writing GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

After I procrastinate by doing such fun and exciting things like laundry, dusting, running to Target, etc., I eventually sit down at my desk.

Kermit The Frog Reaction GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Without fail, I start to doubt myself. Sometimes I have to give myself a dose of tough love.

https://giphy.com/gifs/television-breaking-bad-h5HtVfU8FNwZO

Then I get back to it.

https://giphy.com/gifs/writing-CnJKuy8W0faDu

Eventually, I remember that I’ve done this before. I’ve finished other books.

https://giphy.com/gifs/clueless-thinking-thoughtful-y0NcyfKsVaOTC

So, I get back to it. And I do it. I finish another book!

Excited Jon Stewart GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Yep, that’s pretty much the process.

Pick-Me-Ups, Inspiration and Writing Friends

When I’m feeling like I need a pick-me-up or inspiration, I usually find those in a couple different places: awesome quotes by people/writers I admire; talking to writing friends who understand my special brand of crazy; or drinking–preferably with writing friends who can commiserate. 🙂

Kim and Kerri out of the Waterworld Mermaid Lagoon and on dry land at Mike’s American Grill, clearly brainstorming story ideas and NOT drinking mojitos.

 

Here are some of my favorite quotes that have been tacked up on bulletin boards/dry erase boards in my house or scribbled into countless notebooks.

Some of these are writing related, but most of them are just quotes that make me feel warm and fuzzy. But that could be the mojitos. That’s a real possibility.

 

“You don’t have to see the top of the staircase to take the first step.”–Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Be the change you wish to see in the world.”–Mahatma Gandhi

“In a gentle way, you can shake the world.”–Mahatma Gandhi

“I am seeking. I am striving. I am in it with all my heart.”–Vincent van Gogh

“Success is sometimes the outcome of a whole string of failures.”–Vincent van Gogh

“Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.”–E.L. Doctorow

“The scariest moment is always just before you start.”–Stephen King

“Writing is like giving yourself homework, really hard homework, every day, for the rest of your life. You want glamorous? Throw glitter at the computer screen.”–Katrina Monroe

“You can fix anything but a blank page.”–Nora Roberts, my Queen

“Every time I hear writers talk about the muse, I just want to bitch-slap them. It’s a job. Do your job.”–Nora Roberts, my Queen

“If you don’t step forward, you are always in the same place.”–Nora Roberts, yes, still my Queen

 

My other forms of inspiration and pick-me-ups (other than mojitos) would be lavender bath salts, Burt’s Bees lip balm, chocolate, and ice cream. I’ve been trying to steer clear of the last two, and that has made me surprisingly bitchy. Just keeping it real here among friends. 🙂

Thanks to all my writing friends who bitch-slap me when I need it, give me encouragement and support when I need that, celebrate the good news, and generally give me an outlet to vent when the occasion calls for it. You guys are my rocks. And you know who you are. 🙂

Savvy Seven, YA finalists in the 2013 Golden Heart class, who will always have a special place in my heart.

 

www.kimmaccarron.com
Twitter: @KimMacCarron

Finding Your Flower in the Cracks (Productivity Tips)

Greetings from San Diego where it is a crisp 35 degrees Fahrenheit right now. (I’m eyeballing the fireplace and seriously debating….)

As I think warm thoughts and wiggle the ice caps from my morning toes, I’d like to share with you my favorite tips for writing/productivity/pick me ups when you are down. There are hundreds of things I could include in this post that serve this purpose, and I’d be willing to bet you have just as many, because each of us are so unique and therefore what we find inspiration and hope and magic from is equally so. This is perhaps the best, most important arsenal to have and one you want to be diverse and plentiful. I was going to say that I hope these things that lift you up happen to cross into your path when you need them. While I do hope the universe serves you in that way, I’d like to acknowledge and respect the importance that we have of honoring ourselves, and doing for ourselves. So what I’d really like to say is: Don’t wait for your pick me ups to cross your paths. Go put yourself in the path of your pick me ups. Seek them out, find them and spend purposeful time with them. Whatever they may be. Wherever they may be. These are a few of mine…

Animals, bright flowers, sweet flowers, smiles, trees, Orion, curly hair, lipstick.

Gandhi. Drew Barrymore. The Dalai Lama. Logic. Jim Henson. Dolly Parton. Jesus.

It was a simple flower growing up through a crack like the one above that inspired my first published book, Sidewalk Flower. I had gone for a walk, something one of my favorite authors suggested doing when faced with stilled creativity (she didn’t want to use the word writer’s block). And there it was. A little yellow burst at my feet. “What a fighter.” “How many times have you been stepped on?” These were the immediate things that popped into my head in that moment. “You are beautiful.” My “Sidewalk Flower” ended up being a woman who although fictional, in many ways became one of my real life heroes. Her name is Trista Jean Hart. I am honored to be her author. You can find her story HERE.

I’d like to leave you with this quote…

I’d love to be inspired by some of your pick me ups, so please share in the comments. Have a wonderful day, everyone.

Fishy kisses,

Mermaid Carlene

 

Always give credit where credit is due… 

Flower photo: Copyright: <a href=’https://www.123rf.com/profile_ipopba’>ipopba / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

Elephant photo: Copyright: <a href=’https://www.123rf.com/profile_melpomen’>melpomen / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

 

Do You Hear What I Hear…

The question in the lagoon this month: What’s the one thing you cannot write without?

Today’s answer comes from the Waterworld Mermaids’ very own Kerri Carpenter.

Visit Kerri at her awesomesauce website here. Follow her on Twitter here.

*********************

I have to keep this short and sweet today. Why? Because it’s NaNo month of course.

Wait, you don’t know what NaNo is? Allow me to explain. Writers from all over the galaxy are trying to write at least 50,000 words during the month of November. Intense, right?

Even more crazysauce is that the Waterworld Mermaids are in a tight competition with the writers over at Romance on the Rocks. Who can write the most words? Fingers crossed for the lagoon! Now, back to the question at hand.

The one thing I absolutely, under no circumstances, no way Jose, cannot write without is… Music!

Some writers need absolute quiet. Others love them some background noise. Me? I gotta have the tunes. For the most part, any music will do. However, I do have some favs. Without further ado, here’s my list:

Field of Dreams Soundtrack

I love the movie and I love the soundtrack. I listen to this constantly.

Random Playlists I Create

I love creating playlists and sometimes I’ll do one inspired by whatever I’m working on. For example, in my contemporary romance, The Best Kind of Love, Penelope and Ethan were created by listening to a lot of Lady Antebellum. I considered the song, “Dancing Away with My Heart,” to be Penelope and Ethan’s song.

Anything by John Williams

John Williams is the man! Like a song from a movie? He probably came up with it. I’ve been listening to his Greatest Movie hits for the last couple months. Star Wars, Superman, Indiana Jones, Jurassic Park, and soooo many more.

Random Artists

I really do listen to a ton of different music but I will admit I have some go-to’s. Colbie Caillat, John Mayer, Paul Simon, Lady Antebellum, Ben Folds Five, Ashley Monroe, and more.

Christmas Music

I love Christmas music so freaking much! I would listen to it all year long, but I do restrain myself. However, I’m currently working on a Christmas story so it’s been all Christmas, all the time. Bring on Bing, Mariah Carey, and the Chipmunks. I’m in Heaven! (And thank you to the Hallmark Channel for already playing Christmas movies!)

Alright, folks. That’s it for me. I’m off to fire up The Carpenters’ (no relation) Christmas album and get back to the writing.

 

*********************

Cyber-stalk Kerri at her website.

Like Kerri on Facebook, so you can answer her Questions of the Day and view her plethora of adorable dog photos. Everyone loves Harry!

Retweet Kerri on Twitter, especially when she gets super into #TheWalkingDead on Sunday nights.

What’s that? You still need more Kerri? Wow, you guys are insatiable. Buy Kerri’s books on Amazon. (Most books are also available at Barnes & Noble, iTunes, and kobo too.)

Kerri-Harry Working

Clutter Blocks My Brain – Or Does It?

 

Susan-Mermaid-avatarNo, this is not a blog about clutter (sort of). I’ve been reading a lot about clutter this month, however – when I’m not reading yummy romance novels, that is (Jamie Beck’s Worth the Wait  – so good!). It *is* the first of the year, though – and resolutions are made (and broken) every New Year. Mine is all about getting my house under control.

I’ve been reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, by Marie Kondo, and it is a fascinating read. And the best part of using her tips, is the number of bags that have already left the house. I can almost see myself gliding through a perfectly organized home. *brief pause* Okay, done with that mirage. But…

I remember a moment, years ago, at the beginning of my writing career, when my friend said to her mother, “Susan is one of those neat freaks. We have to pick everything up before we’re done playing.”

“She has a very small house,” her mother answered. “Small houses require a person to be very picky about being neat, or she will be overwhelmed in no time.”

And I patted myself on the back. I was a tidy person! I could clean the house, top to bottom, in a single day (it was a really small house).  I took care of my family that way. And I wrote while my daughter napped. It wasn’t hard at all!

(Fast forward thirty years….)  

Where did that woman go? Who is this aging writer, with Too Much Stuff in her clutches and Too Many Stories in her brain? My children are grown, I have a big(ger) house, and it’s a mess. I recently read an article about how creative people thrive in disorder and I wonder: how? I’m a creative person and, whenever I sit down to write, I find myself contemplating the clutter around me. I mentally shame myself for not leaping to my feet and cleaning it all up. Then, I tell myself, I could write in peace, loving the house I’m living in and having freedom to spin my glorious tales (which would immediately make every bestseller list known, and gain me a gazillion dollars).

 Something tells me my fantasy is a lie. Clutter and brain block are separate problems, and it’s blame-shifting to allow myself to delay writing because I’m bothered by the mess around me. I’m either going to write, or I’m not. (And, even as I write this, the devil on my shoulder whispers that cleaning up just the area in front of my would open the floodgates of creativity.)

Where I write, before stuff crawled began to surround me... !

Where I write, before stuff crawled began to surround me… !

 What do you think? Have you ever been stopped dead by clutter? Or do you thrive in it? Do you enjoy settling down to a pristine, tastefully decorated desk? Do you color code your file folders? Or are you a whirlwind of disorder, obsessed with spinning  your tales and too darned bad if the junk doesn’t get picked up – you have stories to write!

Maybe it’s a fantasy I have, that my house will be perfect one day. Maybe I need to write a story about the house that could be perfect. Wait – I already have that story in progress!

Where do *you* like to write the most, and what atmosphere makes you the most productive?

 

 

 

Days Like These…

http://t.co/sgvHLs4o

Okay, I have to admit lately this video makes a ton of sense to me.

With a recent book release, Immortal Heat (self-published), Distilled Spirits, the sequel to Wanted: One Ghost coming in December, and the sequel to Immortal Heat, Immortal Angel to be written and released in January my head is about to explode! But it’s for the Greater Good….’the Greater Good’.

So if you see me around with a weird smile on my face…it’s just the Zoloft taking effect.  (LOL).

Seriously, it’s a great time but crazy. Trying to wear all the hats in a business (and anyone who tells you being an author isn’t a business should be boiled in peanut oil and salted…because they are NUTS!) is not an easy task. That is why there are so many ‘helpers’ out there (and no, I don’t mean the happy pills).  There are editors, agents, and promotional specialists who are out there to help take the burden off some of our duties and they are a godsend!

I also have my daughters who are big helps when I need my kitchen cleaned because I’m on deadlines or meals prepared. But still, the job can become overwhelming. I’ve always been a person who deals with To Do Lists, and even they are starting to look like a jumbled mess of manuscript needing to be edited.

So yeah, it’s a job and days like these…well they happen.

What do you do to get through “Days Like These” ?

Hugs!

 

 

Bon Voyage: Locations in Writing

Notre Dame MontrealBonjour la lagune!

This past Sunday–my last official day in Vermont–my sister and her husband took me on a drive up to Montreal for the day. Despite life’s craziness, I’d thankfully had the presence of mind to grab my passport in anticipation of such an adventure.

Vermonters drive up to Montreal regularly: for an event, for the day, or for a weekend getaway. My brother-in-law used to deliver lost bags from the Burlington airport, which took him into Montreal so often that he makes both a fantastic driver and tour guide. We ate sushi and Greek food, visited the Notre Dame Montreal to light a candle for my nephew, and even stopped at a Chapters and Indigo so that I could sign some books (hooray, Canada for stocking all my YA novels!).

Mom and Dad and Soteria and I moved away from Vermont when I was six, so I hadn’t been to Montreal in my adult life. I found it lovely and fascinating…like being in France, only everyone speaks English. All the street signs and flyers are in French, and when you’re walking down the street past the outdoor cafes, all you hear is French. But when you ask a salesperson for help, they speak perfect, unaccented English.

I told someone once that my family was “French Canadian” in front of my Memere. She corrected me by firmly stating, “We are FRENCH.” I totally get that now.

I am a firm believer in travel–wherever you can, whenever you are able.
ESPECIALLY WHEN WRITING.

Most of Hero is spent with a witch and a dragon in caves in the White Mountains. While I did not have access to a witch or a dragon, I was only a few hours away from Luray Caverns, so I took a day trip there. I filled an entire notebook with phrases and words and feelings and impressions….the experience was invaluable to the writing of that novel.

But we’re not always that lucky.

When I was putting together Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dark-Hunter Companion, the publisher asked me to include a full section on New Orleans, since that is where most of the books take place. This presented a problem: not only had I never been to New Orleans, but I also did not have the funds to travel there to do my research. I was forced to use what I had: the Internet, books from the library, and a friend who was traveling there. I read all I could, visited ghost tour and carriage ride websites, and pored over every pamphlet and picture Eddie brought home for me. And I guess the publisher liked it, because there were virtually no editorial comments made on that entire section.

The year after writing that–right before it was published–I was finally able to go to New Orleans with Sherrilyn Kenyon. There I was, visiting a place I’d never been, but I could have given my own tour. Everything was strange and familiar, all at once.

It was the second-most surreal location experience I’d ever had.

The MOST surreal was the time I got to visit the town I made up in my own head.

The first book I wrote as an adult (most importantly, the first novel I ever finished) was called HAVEN. (This was back in 2004, before *everything* was called HAVEN.) It was based on a town I’d made up in which to set my Possessed Scarecrow YA Horror Novel. I wanted somewhere in the midwest…like Kansas. But what should I name the town? Let’s see…if I was a Homesteader way back when, traveling across the US with no idea how long–or if–I’d ever reach another shore, and I decided to just STOP, what would I call that place? Well, for me, the tired Homesteader, it would be a haven…so that’s what I named it. Haven, Kansas.

Months later, long after the first draft, it occurred to me to type “Haven” into the Weather Channel website, to see if there was a town called Haven anywhere in the US. There was only one. Yup, you guessed it…

Haven, Kansas.

Fast forward a year or so, to a visit with my friends Tammy and Mark in Wichita. Over dinner one night, I mentioned my John Carpenteresque Kansas writing story. Mark–who grew up in Kansas–proceeded to tell me that Haven was only about two hours from where we were.

Obviously, we had to go visit.

Visiting the town was indeed surreal, but in a way that informed my writing. I took tons of pictures and made notes on things that would have been relevant to my novel. The most fascinating bit, however, was Mark…who spent the entire two-hour drive up there telling me what it was like to be a kid growing up in Kansas. I filled page after page in my notebook, and when I got home, I did my first full-out revision of that first finished novel.

[Edited to add: At the request of my agent, I am currently revising that manuscript again, so that we can get it out to some editors…she *loves* the story. So stay tuned!]

 

All of which is to  say: Never underestimate the power of travel. Write about a place you’ve never been, and then go there, or vice versa. Both experiences will change the way you do research for a story or novel when you can’t actually visit the location you’re writing about.

And then one day, when we’re rich and famous, we can travel to all of these places.

So…is your passport up to date?
Where in the world would you like to go?

Immortal Heat is Hot and Historical

I am excited to finally have the very first book I started writing five years ago (when I decided to go professional as a writer) ready for release!Loni Lynne 5 p12756ta105474_25

Immortal Heat was so much fun to write. It started out when I began researching my family heritage. My paternal grandfather was actually Romanian by birth. For years I couldn’t find out much on Romania due to the fact it was a communist country and at the time, the Internet wasn’t even around. Now with the handy little tool you can not only research a place you’ve never been but virtually go there via Google Maps.

The more I delved into the history of Romania I found some fascinating story lines. I didn’t want to do Vlad Dracul since he’d been done so many times so I delved deeper–all the way back to Pre-Roman conquest when Romania was known as Dacia.

What I found out about Dacia was that the Dacians were a mystical people. Their clans went into battle carrying flags and banners in the shape of dragons to scare off their enemies. Until the Romans second conquer–(the first attempt failed)–they were protected by the dark, mysterious forests that surrounded them. Other countries refused to cross the Danube because they were afraid. Even the god they worshiped, Zamoxlis considered his warriors ‘Immortal’.

What great fodder for a paranormal novel, right?!  I was so excited!

As I worked and researched further, I read about their folklore and found an interesting creature known as the Zmeu. A shapeshifter who would turn into smoke, sneak into a woman’s bedroom and seduce her, take her to his lair only to have the handsome warrior come slay the Zmeu and rescue the fair maiden. The Zmeu could shift into any form, but he was known for his human abilities and those of a Balour or Dragon. He was the equivalent of the ‘boogeyman’ to children in folklore.

But I didn’t see the Zmeu as evil. I figured if he was ‘Dragon’ then he might have been a gift from the gods to go into battle with the Dacian warriors. His kind might have even been sacred. So I created him as my ‘hero’ and Draylon Conier (pronounced Con-yea) came to life. Think of raven black hair with electric blue eyes and just enough shadow of scruf to make you think of waking up to just a touch of whisker burn– 😉 .  There are some pretty serious scenes that my beta readers think are pretty smokin’. So yes, there is HEAT in this book–more ways than just the title.

Immortal Heat is the first book in my new series, The Guardians of Dacia and also my first attempt at self-publishing. I had so much wonderful help in creating this book, a little secret, my daughter Jengi created the cover and my good friend, Magda Alexander helped me with formating and self-publishing support. I have a wonderful editor, Judy who worked diligently with me to make sure all the loopholes were covered–not easy in a paranormal where you create the world to work for you.

So without further ado–I present Immortal Heat, Book 1 in The Guardians of Dacia series!

ImmortalHeat-bookcover2 (VTCSwitchbladeRomance)2 copy revised

The Guardians of Dacia Series

Romania has been called the mystical land of paranormal beings and creatures of the night. Before the Romans conquered their land, Dacia was a mystical land of magic and folk-lore until one man and his army destroyed the closely woven fabric set by the gods between man and beast. Now, cursed by their gods over two thousand years ago, one immortal clan struggles to maintain their private world while still learning to live and protect their human brethren while their enemy seeks power to destroy the new world.  But as the clans face extinction, a new generation of Dacian blood emerges to unite the clans once more. The world as they know it may never be the same.

 

  Immortal Heat

Dacian Historian…

Determined to study ancient Dacian folk lore abroad, Marilyn Reddlin’s plans are cut short when she is abducted by a dark haired stranger who insists she’s in danger. The only danger she’s in is losing herself to her abductor’s inexplicable seductive energy. Draylon Conier teaches her there is more to Romania than myth and fairy tales while sweeping her into a wild adventure of paranormal mystery and intrigue.

Dacian History…

Thousands of years trying to pay back a debt, Draylon Conier is finally able to do so. Sent to capture a young, American student who is in danger while in Romania, he just has to send her back home. Easy enough for him. Unfortunately, Marilyn Reddlin is determined to thwart his every attempt—even telepathy. But there is more to her than meets the eye and the closer he gets to her, the more danger she is in, not only from the ancient immortal Dacian clans he’s trying to protect her from, but also his own sexual need.

History just got a lot harder.

They must find out what connection Marilyn has to Dacian history before Draylon destroys her when she succumbs to Immortal Heat.

Immortal Heat is available for Pre-Order on Amazon. The release date is October 6, 2014!

To read an excerpt click here: Immortal Heat and The Guardians of Dacia

 

Mermaids & Friends: Samanthya Wyatt

Welcome to another edition of Mermaids & Friends. I’m so excited to have this author with us in the Mermaid Lagoon today because not only is her new book, SOMETHING MORE, amazing, but she is a fellow Soulie. That’s right, we’re both authors over at Soul Mate Publishing. Welcome, Samanthya Wyatt!

Hello Kerri. Thank you for inviting me to the lagoon. I’m so excited to be here on the very day my book, Something More, is to be released.

Tell us a little about your writing journey.

Ever since I can remember, I have loved curling up with a book. When I was young I wrote poems and short stories. I signed everything UNKNOWN AUTHOR. I guess even then I feared rejection. When I graduated, my life changed. I married a military man, traveled across the US and abroad, then settled in the Shenandoah Valley and had a family. My children were in high school before I started writing again.

About fifteen years ago, I wrote to Catherine Coulter and was amazed that she wrote back. I couldn’t believe it. She was very encouraging and told me to join RWA. She said to write everyday even if it was only one sentence. I am a RWA member, joined several chapters including Contemporary Romance Chapter, and I’m a member of Savvy Authors.

I started writing again. I entered a lot of contests, workshops, and made some good friends via e-mails. I finally finished my historical romance, the first of a trilogy, and I completed a contemporary romance “Something More”. I contacted more publishers, sent my MS to editors, and continued to hope. A pitch opportunity with Savvy Authors resulted in two books being published. An editor asked for my contemporary, and another asked for my historical. Both books will be released this month. I’m over the moon.

How exciting! Tell us a little about your current release: your inspiration, main characters, setting, etc.

Something More

Something More

On his way to an important meeting, a light flirtation turns into more than Matthew expects. The alluring beauty does not need his money, and makes it clear she does not need him.

Carrie trusts no man. Until a pair of mischievous eyes melts her defenses, and has her second guessing her convictions.

Infatuation and excitement spark a journey of passion and forbidden emotion where two people must overcome their earlier convictions to find an everlasting love.

Why did you choose to write in this genre? Have you ever written any other genre? Do you plan on doing so in the future?

Dashing Lords and pirates seemed so romantic, so my first book was written in the historical genre. One day I was playing around to get my mind off edits and I wrote a scene with two women bantering back and forth. I had so much fun and the words seemed to flow. So I ended up writing my first contemporary Something More. Modern day women have more freedom, and my wit seems to come out more with contemporary. I have started several stories including a hunky fireman series. Station Eight. Can’t wait to get those published.


Who is your favorite character in your book and why?
I love my hero, just because hunky men are sexy and dark hair has always been my favorite. However, I love a strong heroine and Carrie is strong. Her assistant may deserve a book of her own. And her friend is a no-nonsense, anything goes sort of girl. I guess I like all my characters. I’m so indecisive. About everything in my personal life, too. It takes me forever to pick out a pair of shoes.

What do you do in your spare time?

What spare time? LOL. I keep the road hot. I go to soccer ball games, baseball games, cheer competition, or just babysit the wee ones. Can’t wait till July when I retire.

Any final thoughts you’d like your readers to know about you or your books?

I enjoy penning a story with strong characters, a bit of humor, and active scenes.I invite you to lay the worries of the world off your shoulders and get lost in the pages of a romance, where you embark on a journey with the hero and heroine, become involved in a dream, plunge into a world of fantasy, live an adventure your heart can share.

 

Thank you so much for joining us today, Samanthya, and good luck with your book!

Bonus: The interview’s not over yet. If you would like to read more of Samanthya’s thoughts on the writing process and a special excerpt from Something More, hop on over to my website here.

If you would like to learn more about Samanthya or either of her new books, please visit her webpage. You can also find her on Facebook, Goodreads, Amazon, and SMP Authors.

Life After the Six-Fingered Man

Inigo Montoya: Is very strange. I have been in the revenge business so long, now that it’s over, I don’t know what to do with the rest of my life.

Westley: Have you ever considered piracy? You’d make a wonderful Dread Pirate Roberts.

***

The goal of every aspiring writer is to be published.

Maybe that publication comes in the form of a review, an op-ed, an article, a short story, or–*gasp*–even a NOVEL. Hooray! You’ve finally published a novel!

Now what do you do with your life?

Welcome to the Inigo Montoya Dilemma. In The Princess Bride, Inigo dedicated his life to hunting down the six-fingered man who killed his father. After the six-fingered man was dead (spoilers!), Inigo found himself at a loss as to what to do next.

I think every one of us feels that moment in life–after college, after children,  after the marathon, what have you. Writers especially are keenly aware of this. They publish the novel, and then have to create a new benchmark, a new personal goal that motivates them to keep moving forward.

Otherwise, why would we keep writing?

Some of the benchmarks are obvious: Hit the USA bestseller list. Hit #1 on the NYT bestseller list. Win a [award of your choice] Award.

Some of the benchmarks are more personal: Be invited into an anthology by your favorite editor. Have a cover designed by your favorite artist. Have lunch with one of your literary heroes.

I was talking about this mental list I constantly have running in my head to one of the Mermaids and thought: Why not write that down and share it? Why not see what others would include as *their* benchmarks?

So that’s the game, today. I’ll start, and you guys include your picks in the comments. Ready?

Earn out your advance
Write a sequel
Hit the NYT bestseller list
Hit #1 on the NYT bestseller list
See your book in a bookstore
Spot a stranger reading your book in a public location
Chat–as a peer–with one of your literary heroes
Sell a book based only on a pitch
Publish a book outside your original genre
Qualify for Active membership in a national writers organization
Win a major award
Get fan mail
Have a fan bring you presents to a book signing
Have a fan cry with joy at meeting you
Get invited to be Guest of Honor at a convention/conference
Give a keynote speech
Give a TED talk

Okay…now it’s your turn! What else would you add to this list?