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Sunday, March 29, 2015

March Madness Check-in 29 - #WIPMadness - It's Nearly Over?

So sorry about yesterday's missing post!  There was some technical difficulties over on Dawn's blog. No one used that as an excuse to slack off,  right? 

I cannot believe the month is almost over! I'm happy to report that I've seen lots of positive comments about goal attacking and completion around the hosting blogs and on Twitter. To that, I say CONGRATULATIONS!!!!

And even if you haven't completed your goals? Guess what? You're still here!!! You ARE diligent. You ARE committed. You ARE going to succeed in life--even if you didn't make your exact goals, your diligence will pay off in your future, I promise. 

We have loved having you here with us, and you've been an integral part of OUR processes. I honestly would not have set such lofty goals (and very nearly completed them) if it weren't for all of your participation in March Madness this year. And to that I say: CONGRATULATIONS and THANK YOU!

As for me, I am so close I can taste my goal! I've been working super hard all week, and will keep this short so I can get back to it. I hope to tie it up before the 31st. How about you? If you don't think you'll reach your goals, did you get more done this month than you would have without this challenge?

I still have prizes to give away, and I admit, with all my crazy hard work this week, I lost track a little of giving much away. If you have taken part in March Madness and have not received a prize yet, would you mind making my life just a little bit easier and emailing me at d(at)denisejaden(dot)com, and I will make sure you get something fabulous to celebrate your participation. 

I want to send out a HUGE ENORMOUS HEARTFELT THANK YOU to all of my March Madness co-hosts. They have been so incredibly generous, both with their time and with prizes and so very responsible. It was a joy to visit each of their blogs along the way.

The last thing I need to talk about today, on my last check-in post for the month, is CELEBRATION. If you've known me for any time at all, you know that I'm a big believer in celebrating all of the tiniest victories. There's enough soul-crushing, difficult stuff we have to face in the writing world. We need to celebrate ALL of our successes to combat that! Even if you've simply checked in all the way through the month, that deserves to be celebrated!

As usual, I plan to celebrate with some nice red wine, some delectable chocolate, and possibly some guacamole. How about you? 

It's too bad we can't all get together to celebrate, but know that I will be raising a glass to all of you on the 31st!

Eek! I forgot to lead you on to tomorrow's post! On Monday, we're over on Kim's Blog. See you there!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

March Madness Check-In Day 22 #WIPMadness - How Motivated Are You?

Last week I went for a "hike" with my family. I put "hike" in quotes, because, to be honest, whenever I hear about people going for a "hike," they're usually just talking about going for a walk in the woods.

We have a fairly famous "hike" in the Vancouver area called The Grouse Grind. I know people of all shapes and sizes and athletic abilities who have completed this "hike." We have another trail, a little closer to home that is supposedly about half the length of The Grouse Grind, and my family and I decided to try it as a warm up to help decide if we wanted to give The Grouse Grind a try. You see, The Grouse Grind is so busy with people, that you're not allowed to turn back part way and go downhill. Once you've started it, you must complete the "hike."

So we headed out to The Abby Grind, stocked with a bit of water and sweaters, since it was a cool day. Well, the sweaters came off during the first fifty feet. My eleven-year-old son took off ahead of my husband and I, and I was having trouble keeping up to my husband's giraffe-long legs. But soon my husband petered out. I caught up and then passed him as I put one very slow step in front of the other headed almost straight upward.

My husband was a hesitant participant in this "hike" to begin with, so I wasn't surprised when he said he probably wouldn't push through to the top and planned to turn around. However, my son was now so far ahead of us, above us in the woods of this mountainside, that not only could we not see him, we couldn't even get a reaction from yelling to him.

My lungs were burning, my legs were burning, and I hadn't even reached the halfway mark! But my son was out of reach, my husband was going to be no help in keeping track of him, and so the Mama Bear in me emerged. I sometimes had to stop every four or five steps and pray against heart palpitations, but with my concern for my son in the forefront of my mind, I made it to the top of that mountain!

Sometimes the goal doesn't seem worth it, or the reward doesn't seem like enough, or you may doubt your ability to complete it, or you may just feel really, really tired. But just take a moment and think...what if you HAD to complete your goal this month? What if something dire was at stake? No matter how far behind you are, I'll bet you could do it, couldn't you.

I'm behind, but I pictured that scenario for a minute, and the truth is, I can do this. I can make it happen. I just need to reach deep and pull it out of myself. How about you? CAN you make your goal happen this month? How proud would you be of yourself if you did, especially if it meant overcoming some pretty huge lapses and obstacles?

I'm proud of myself for completing The Abby Grind. I'm even considering attempting The Grouse Grind.

Also, I no longer put the word hike in quotations.

Don't forget to check in over at Kim's blog tomorrow!

Friday, March 20, 2015

YA Scavenger Hunt!

Hello Everyone! I'm so happy to introduce to you the Spring 2015 YA Scavenger Hunt Authors! We have eight outstanding teams this season. I am going to be a part of #TeamOrange! 

The Scavenger Hunt runs from April 2nd through April 5th beginning and ending at noon Pacific time on those days. If you've never been a part of the hunt before you should give it a try. It runs like a giant blog hop, introducing you to new YA authors and books along the way. 

There are tons of prizes including a grand prize for each team. If you win one of the grand prizes you will get a book from each author on that team! For more information and to make sure you get hunt updates, sign up for news on the #YASH website. 

You don't want to miss out on this fabulous and fun event, but play fast because the hunt is only live for three days. And now, here are the teams! (Hint: If you click on the image you can get a close up)

Blue Team 1 Pink TeamTeam Gold (2)Team Purple 1Team GreenTeam Red 1Team Teal (2) Team Orange 
I hope you are all as excited as I am!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

March Madness Check In Day 15 - Breaking It Down - #WIPMadness

We're just over the halfway mark of March Madness! Woohoo! Congratulations to all who have stuck with it from the beginning, and if you have not set your goals yet for March, what are you waiting for? You still have TWO WEEKS LEFT!

For those who are soaring through March Madness this year and getting tons accomplished, way to go! Keep with it! Keep checking in to inspire the rest of us!

I want to talk today a little about those times when we're not keeping up on our goals, or we're further behind than we'd like to be at certain checkpoints (like the halfway point!)

First of all, you're not alone. I've been there many times, and, in fact, I'm facing that kind of situation right now.

Secondly, this is not an unfixable problem. And maybe the "problem" isn't even a problem at all. Perhaps along the way you've realized that the goal was bigger than expected, or maybe you've realized your story had to go in a different direction than anticipated, and this has required stepping back to discover a new plan of attack.

The most important thing, wherever you're at with your goals, and for whatever reason, is that you're not thinking of your work (or yourself) as a failure.  This kind of outlook is debilitating, and will stop you in your tracks. At first you may think, "Yeah, I'm a little behind, but I'll catch up tomorrow." Then tomorrow comes, and you don't really feel like catching up. The next day rolls around, and you've become so far behind, and you are now so unmotivated, it seems nearly impossible to close your Twitter window and open your manuscript. Sound familiar? Or is this just me?

One solution I've found is to micro-focus until I've built a few small successes to bolster me up again. Opening my manuscript IS an accomplishment when it's hard to do, as is writing one new sentence. Pretty soon, I'm writing an entire new paragraph. Sometimes we miss those small accomplishments if we're focusing too hard on the Big Goal. A question I often ask myself (with writing and with other areas of life) is "Am I going in the right direction?" If the answer is yes, maybe all the little details of when and how and how much are not that important.
Children, Win, Success, Video Game, Play, Happy
Sometimes I think we need to be more like little kids. I love this picture, because it reminds me that kids have no problem celebrating the little things in life, like creating a silly cartoon character or winning a round of a video game. We adults may have more of a tendency to tell ourselves it's not enough, or not good enough, or not worth celebrating. Forward progress of any kind IS worth celebrating. Making yourself accountable to us was a huge step in its own right, so if you're feeling down at all today, remind yourself that you're here, you're doing this, and even though this month may not be looking exactly how you envisioned it, you are accomplishing things! One of my favorite song lyrics is from Avril Lavigne: "I'm waking up to say I've tried, instead of waking up to another TV Guide." That's all of us. We're all trying, and it's a lot better than not trying. 

What do you do when you get behind or feel like you just can't motivate yourself to do anything?

And finally, what's one thing you are celebrating about yourself or your progress today?

Sunday, March 8, 2015

March Madness Check-In Day 8! #WIPMadness

If you haven't set your goals for March yet, or seen the arsenal of prizes we are giving away to people working toward their goals this month, it's not too late! Check out this post and chime in with any kind of bookish goals you want to work toward this month.
Salad, Fresh, Food, Diet, Health, Dieting, Meal

But actually, I'm going to talk a little about non-bookish goals today. I noticed among the goals posted, that many of you have physical or health goals this month too, along with your writing goals, whether it's to lose weight, eat healthier, or exercise more. I'm also working through some physical goals. I'm generally in okay shape. I exercise regularly and eat fairly well, and I've never been terribly overweight. However, a few years ago I went through a very difficult personal year and put on some weight that I haven't been able to shake off. My clothes haven't fit right, and I just haven't felt like myself every since.

So I've finally decided to do something about it. I'm not a fan of starving myself or doing anything crazy. My husband is a personal trainer, so he helps keep me in check with any weight loss strategies. He often tells clients who don't want to feel overwhelmed with their goals simply to start by doing a little more and eating a little less.

I think it's a great mantra to keep in mind. Another phrase that goes through my mind regularly now is "What would be a healthier choice?"

The Gabriel MethodI recently read a holistic book on weight loss called The Gabriel Method by Jon Gabriel. He focuses heavily on adding better choices into our diets, rather than concerning ourselves with what to cut out. He also spends a lot of time teaching on using visualization to achieve goals. I admit, this is not an area I've ever been very good at. But I'm trying it, not just with my diet and exercise, but also with my writing. I spend a few minutes here and there, closing my eyes and imagining a writing session where I'm so enthused and bombarded with great ideas, I can't get them onto the page fast enough. I can't say for sure that this is what has brought the improvements I've seen recently in my writing, but I'm fairly sure it is what's made a difference to me healthy wise.

Picturing myself full of energy and thinking of my body as a well-running machine has actually made me crave unhealthy food much, much less. And I've finally shaken the habit of relying on sugary snacks to fuel my creativity.

Do you have any experience with visualization or any other techniques that have made your writing and/or health goals easier? I'd love to hear about them, and I'd also love to hear about how your March goals are coming along so far.

Don't forget to check in on Kim's blog tomorrow!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

MARCH MADNESS is Here! Day 1: Set Your Goals!

If you’ve been looking for a challenge to get your writing into gear, you’ve come to the right place! Through the month of March we will be cheering each other on to meet challenging goals with our writing, reading, blogging, or illustrating.

Basically, anyone who wants to challenge themselves regarding books and win prizes for it!

Today is goal-setting day! 
(But if you don't make it here on the first day, not to worry.
Feel free to add your writing goals here any time during the month of March).

March Madness officially begins today, March 1st, and this is how it works.

1. Set a goal here (anything writing, reading, blogging, or otherwise book related). It can be as small and simple of a goal as turning off your Internet while you write, or finishing reading a book you've been trying to get through during the month of March. Or it can be as large as writing or revising an entire book.

2. Check in daily through the month of March at our designated check-in points. Let us know how you're doing with your goal. Share your victories and struggles. Encourage others. The key is support and camaraderie.

3. We give you prizes just for stopping by and letting us know how you're doing, and for encouraging others!
Sounds easy and fun, right?! The following will be the check-in points for the month of March. Check in as often as you can, as we will be announcing prize winners throughout the month on all of the different blogs, but we're writing too, so we don't have time to chase around anyone who has won.

We plan to have check-in posts up and running by 9AM PST (noon EST) each day.

Mondays  Check in with Kim Baccellia -
Tuesdays – Check in with Shari Green –
Wednesdays – Check in with Mary Ann Scott -
Thursdays – Check in with Carol Garvin -
Fridays –  Check in with Tonette
Saturdays – Check in with Dawn Ius -
Sundays –  Check in with Denise Jaden –

The prizes! We have some truly awesome prizes up for grabs this year! I'll start by giving away a prize to one person who comments below with their goals within the next 24 hours!

Here are the prizes that are up for grabs (these are in no particular order and have been donated by my generous co-hosts for this event!) I've added in brackets where we are able to mail each prize:

A critique of your first five pages - (courtesy of Denise’s agent Michelle Humphrey – INT’L)

A handmade bracelet - (courtesy of Mary Ann Scott – INT'L)

A surprise book on the craft of writing (courtesy of Dawn Ius – US/CAN)

An audiobook of Writing With a Heavy Heart  - (courtesy of Denise Jaden – INT’L)

A FULL Manuscript Critique! (courtesy of Tonette de la Luna - INT'L)

A Writing-on-the-go Writer’s Kit – (courtesy of Carol Garvin – US/CAN ONLY)

Book of Choice (to $20 Cdn) from Book Depository (courtesy of Shari Green - INT’L)

A swag pack from Anne and Henry and Falling For Alice - (notebook, charms, bookmarks – Courtesy of Dawn Ius – US/CAN)

A surprise box of YA Fiction - (courtesy of Denise Jaden – US only)

A package of fiction books, including KI, SPIRITED, and possibly an ANNE & HENRY ARC – (courtesy of Dawn Ius – US/CAN)

A beautiful Van Gogh Sunflowers Canvas Cuff Bracelet (courtesy of Kelly Calabrese - US Only)

Some popular high-demand advance copies of YA fiction – Choose one or two from the following selection (courtesy of Kim Baccelia – US/CAN)

Isn't that quite the ARSENAL of prizes?! Wow, thank you to all of our awesome hosts!!

(Also, check back, because in the past I have had March Madness participants so eager about their progress  or about the great camaraderie that they have offered additional prizes during the month!)

Why do we do this, you may ask. Well, I can only answer for myself. First of all, people who set tangible goals and stay accountable with them are as much as 90% more likely to achieve those goals. And I REALLY want to achieve my goals this March. Secondly, I love the camaraderie. This business makes writers feel lonely enough, so any chance I have to feel like I'm not in all of this alone, I'll take it! I love NaNoWriMo each year, but this group is a little more personal. We get to know each other and care about how we're doing on our projects and in our lives. And if one check-in a day is not enough camaraderie for you, we also hang out on Twitter under the hashtag #WIPMadness, so please join in on the conversations there as well.

As for this year's goals, I'd like to draft a book that I outlined over a year ago. I haven't even looked back at this outline for months, so I'm still unsure of how it will hold up, but I'm jumping in with both feet anyway! 

How about you? What are your goals for this March? Have you done this challenge with us before, and if so, how has it worked out for you? I'd love to hear!

Don't forget to leave your goal(s) in the comments below, and head on over to check in with 
Kim Baccellia -  tomorrow! Remember, the more you check-in and encourage others, the better chance you have of winning some of the above awesome prizes! And if you set your goal within the next twenty-four hours in the comments below, you have a good chance at winning one right away!

ONWARD, Fearless Writers!