“I can’t wait for A.J.’s monthly update on her New Year’s Resolutions,” said no one.

What I hope this blog will be after I finish all my little changes. (Image courtesy of Marc Falardeau.)

Which is why, although this is July 2, there is no resolution update here. Not today, at least.

The fact of the matter is, I am teaching a blogging course for my community college’s extended studies program, and I’ve spent a lot of time on class prep.

Ironically, the frequency of my own blog updates has suffered because of this. Not because I’m too busy to update, but my blogging course has prompted me to make some changes to what I do here. Most of my work on this blog has been more structural lately.

You may notice that some older content is disappearing. You may notice a change in my categories. You may notice a design change on some of the pages as well.

Actually, scratch that. Those are tiny changes.  I don’t think you’ll notice any of them unless you’re bored and spend a lot of time on this site. And by “a lot of time,” I mean “a stalkerish amount of time.”

What else is new?

I’m setting up some Beware the Hawk readings and getting my book into some Connecticut bookstores. Progress there is slow, so I can’t really tell you too much about some of the engagements until I get more details hammered out. I can tell you, however, that I will be reading at alumni day at Enders Island in Mystic, Connecticut on Thursday, July 19. I will be introduced by the delightful Kate Gorton. I will also be selling and signing books with the rest of the Fairfield University MFA alumni authors.

What else? I’ve been working hard on some creative endeavors, including a piece set in the Beware the Hawk universe.

I can’t say much about that piece because a.) it’s not done b.) no one has even remotely agreed to publish it and c.) it’s bad policy to do any egg-counting while your eggs are still inside the chicken. Also, that’s just messy.

Which reminds me, I still need some suggestions for my protagonist’s name. That contest ends on July 19.  I have a few suggestions, ranging from Sarah (as in Sarah Connor) to Rufus T. Firefly. For real. So I would love to have some more. Please comment or email or Facebook me with the name you think my protagonist should have.

I’m also working on two other projects, including a Snow White reboot. Because that’s what we need in 2012. More Snow White. You’re welcome, world.

March: Goals for 2012

It’s the first of March. I am happy to report that one of my 2012 goals has been checked off. Granted it was the goal that I had the least control over, but it’s always nice to see anything crossed off a list. Here we go.

As an aside, if you’d like to read something more interesting than an update on my new years’ resolutions, you can stop reading now. Here’s an interesting site. Or you could just watch this:

Finish the second draft of my novel by April. Oh… I don’t think I’m going to make this deadline. I have copies of my first draft out to one of my writing groups. I just need the courage to start work. Also, I need to pick a day and read the manuscript in one swoop. And on that day? I should not check my email, plan a class or be anywhere near my phone. I should probably not even be in the house. That might take some doing.

Get it sent to agents before summer. I’m not even thinking about this. I’m not.

Send out at least three short stories. I have sent out two essays and lots of guest posts for other people’s blogs. I’ve sent out three news articles. But I’ve sent out exactly no short stories, which means I fail this one.

Beware The Hawk novella

Thanks to this book, one goal is off the list.

Read one novel a month in 2012. I’ve read five since January 1: The Lord of the Rings trilogy,  Jack the Theorist, and Carry-On, a novel by MFA colleague Chris Belden. At the moment, I’m bookless, but that will change soon. I’m trying to find a fun read and then I’m moving on to Blood Meridian, since that’s the book that my writing group is tackling next.

Make at least $20 off a piece of fiction. Done! I just got the sale numbers for January  from my publisher, Vagabondage Press, for my book Beware the Hawk. I don’t have exact numbers, but based on my usual fuzzy way of doing math,  seemed to have crossed the $20 line.

Other goals: I also set to work on two of my big conflicts: My feelings about my faith and my issues with anxiety. I haven’t done a thing about the anxiety, which is probably pretty evident to anyone who’s been reading my posts lately.

I have, however been thinking a lot about the faith issue. That’s been unexpectedly freeing; it’s really the first time since childhood that I’ve given myself permission to explore my own beliefs without a person, a church or a dogma peeking over my shoulder.

As interesting as this exercise has been for me personally, I now wonder if I should write an essay about it at all. I’m beginning to understand the religious zeal of the people who have confronted and accepted their beliefs, and who show up on my doorstep bearing pamphlets. I now notice that they are very interested in their own beliefs, but they can be big damn bores. It’s not exactly the stuff that thrilling literature is made of.

In fact, I’ve seen just one religious pamphlet that could be considered thrilling. It featured an illustration of a figure I can only describe as Super Satan. He had no clothes, no face, and the number of the beast tattooed across his bare, muscled chest. Nothing I produce can ever compete with that.

I digress. My point is that personal epiphanies are just that – personal.  What’s more personal than belief? Who would want to read about my own spiritual journey?

Also there’s this: people get criz-azy about religion. No matter what you think about religion, there’s always some nut ready to vehemently jump down your throat for not agreeing with him or her. Or for having a sense of humor about something they take very, very seriously. I’m not sure if I want to deal with that.

If you’ve made it down to the bottom of this post, thank you. I promise that my next post will have something of added value – all the comments about revisions from yesterday’s cry for help blog post. Many of those tips are in the comments and you can read them there, but I did get at least one via social networking and I have a few of my own to share. No, really, I do.

A little accountability please: New Year’s resolutions, month one.

It was not my intention to post this evening. I had instead planned to kick up my heels at the casino, but I’m killing off the remainder of the cold that was bugging me at the beginning of the week, so I’m home, hanging with Phyllis. I was berating myself for for not updating my blog enough when I realized that whoops, it’s the fourth of February, and I completely forgot to check in with my progress on my New Years goals.

Now’s as good a time as any. It’s that, or watch The Hunt for Gollum again, and I don’t know if I can stand to watch fake-Aragorn whisper any more lines while he stares moodily into the camera. Here we go:

Finish the second draft of my novel by April. Well, I don’t know if I’m going to make the April deadline, but I’m sure as hell going to try. I have my copies of my first draft, and they’ve been given out to one of my writing groups. I also have my office mostly prepped for the writing/revision marathon that’s about to begin. All I need is to spend a day reading through my own first draft.

Get it sent to agents before summer. That will depend on how the revisions go.

Send out at least three short stories. I have sent out exactly no short stories, but I have workshopped one, and I plan to re-tool it and submit it to my next writing group. Then it’s getting sent right out.

Read one novel a month in 2012. I’ve read two since January 1: The Fellowship of the Ring and a novella, Jack the Theorist. So that’s one and a half. I’m finishing The Two Towers right now, and then I’m taking a Tolkien break to read Carry-On, a novel by Chris Belden, an MFA colleague of mine.

Make at least $20 off a piece of fiction. I may have done this already. My book Beware the Hawk was released last month, and I know some people purchased it, but I won’t see a royalty check for a while, so I have no idea if I’ve made $20 or not. Right now, it’s enough to know that I’ve made even one cent off my creative work. Until now, I’ve been paid in writing credits, contributors’ copies and warm fuzzy feelings.

I also set myself to work on two of my big conflicts, which I will write about in detail at the end of the year.

The conflicts were my feelings about my faith and my issues with anxiety. I did a little bit of brainstorming about the faith issue, but I was forced to begin work on the anxiety issue after a panic attack in January. Right now I’m sporadically reading a good book about dealing with anxiety in a conscious way, called The Mindful Way through Anxiety, but I still have a lot of work to do, if I’m going to be ready to write an essay at the end of the year.

So that’s that. Stay tuned for more Beware the Hawk-related posts soon. I have a guest post interview coming up in the next week, and I’m hopefully going to have more blog tour dates to announce soon!