My Goals for 2020

2020 is upon us, and with it the obligitory Yearly Goal Setting Post.


This year, I’m piggybacking onto the Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge, hosted by Long and Short Reviews.

So what’s on tap for me this year? I’m trying to be conscious of the fact that I have a new baby, which obviously changes a lot in terms of how much time I have for any sort of goal setting. But here goes.


Obviously I want to try and do more writing this year. This includes submitting the historical romance that placed 2nd in three 2018 contests (yes, I know that was a goal last year, too). I also need to return to the first installment in my Sweet Somethings spinoff trilogy, which has sat in First Draft Limbo since last February.

This also incorporates freelancing. I had several excellent freelance writing gigs the past couple years and I want to keep that up, in addition to my independent contractor work with Newsela.

As an extension, I would love to finally set up a copyediting business as well. This has been sitting on my chairside table for over a year. I should probably start perusing it:

Ultimately I would love if I can make enough with my pen, so to speak, to cover Babycakes’s school expenses and maybe a little extra.

Reading More Books

Or just reading books.

More on that later.


I love to cook and bake, but haven’t had time to do much of either since I went back to work in 2015.

Okay, since Babycakes was born and then we moved to Charlotte and most of my kitchen stuff stayed in boxes for almost a year.

Being a stay-at-home-mom again for a while will, eventually, give me time to cook and bake again like I used to. For now, it helps that I am now the owner of an Instant Pot:

Apparently I can make yogurt with it? I’m also interested in the fact that I can also apparently sterilze baby bottles with it.

Being Mommy

Of course this year, I want to focus once again on being Mommy. I am officially on maternity leave for the rest of the school year, and then we have to reevaluate our plans beyond that. But I have a 5 year old in kindergarten, and I want to volunteer at her school. And of course, Sugarpie is here.

I also hope to not only finish filling out Babycakes’s baby book, but also keeping up with Sugarpie’s.

what are your big goals for 2020?

Welcome to 2017

I hope everyone has had a fun and refreshing holiday season, whatever holiday(s) you may celebrate. My own holiday hiatus was insane, between work and writing and family. But now that the cookies are gone and the confetti has settled, it’s time to get back to business.


And as usual, that means it’s time for the annual….

Goal Setting Post!

I took a quick peek back at my goal setting post for 2016 and found, well, I didn’t do so hot.

Resolutions and me tend not to get along well.

That said, let’s take a look at some goals for this year.

  1. Finish Sweet Somethings Book #4. It took me a while to really get into this last installment, despite the fact that it’s been plotted since, like, February (I went back and forth over whether Book 4 should have come before THE ONE I’M WITH, so I had both plotted way early on and sort of went “eeny, meeny, miney, mo” with them). I have a soft-ish deadline to get the draft to my editor by the beginning of February, so once again, this is a no brainer of a goal. It’s non-negotiable.
  2. Have at least one hour-long writing session a week. I’ve struggled to pin down writing sessions once September rolled around, when I started a new position at a new school. Much of my extra time has been spent building a kick-ass online course platform for my 7th graders. However, since I’ve streamlined a lot of how my in-school planning time is being spent, I’m doing less at home and more at work. So that’s helping.
  3. Peddle my post-Civil War historical romance. I did some serious editing over the summer, and still need to do some touch ups (plus write the damn synopsis and query letter). But once Sweet Somethings Book 4 is in the bag, I can devote some time to this project and start making the rounds with the manuscript.
  4. Return to the “Magnum Opus”. I actually spent a good chunk of time this summer looking at Volume 1 and marking some areas that still need a bit of spit and polish. And I spent a full day’s work just reading through the mess that is Volume 2 (OMG THE HEAD-HOPPING!!!!). So at least I’m up to speed on what I actually wrote…four years ago…
  5. Flesh out some short synopses for future project ideas. Several years back, I started compiling a list of novel ideas, but most have just the barest basics of a plotline. I’d like to sit down later this year and build on a few of the frameworks, in part to decide where to go next.
  6. Be better at promotional opportunities. This encompasses a lot of things. In addition to the standard stuff I do around a new release, I’m also going to start hitting up review bloggers, looking into getting print releases into local bookstores (and potentially setting up more signings), participating in local author events, and doing more online promotional events, like the Romance Writers Gone Wild Facebook event I did in November.

As far as writing goes, I think I’ll leave it at that. Yeah, a couple of those are repeats from last year, but I don’t think I’m being overly ambitious with this list.

2016 proved a very tumultuous year in Casa de Rowan, for a variety of reasons, but overall our year has us moving in a very positive direction as a family and professionally. I have high hopes for 2017 to continue in that same vein.

And just to get you all excited, Sweet Somethings Book 4, HE TAKES THE CAKE, is slated for a spring release. Lots more details to come, so make sure you keep an eye on my socials, the blog, and sign up for my email newsletter to stay in the loop!

Here’s a little taste to jump start your craving…


Mmmm… Red Velvet…


The Countdown to School Begins

I used Grammarly to grammar check this post, because my red pen is a little rusty from two months of disuse.

As I crawled into bed last night, my final thought before falling asleep was, “School starts three weeks from tomorrow.”

Yikes. Where did the summer go?

To be completely accurate, school actually starts, for me, three weeks from yesterday. But students start on September 4th. Given that time frame, and given that I have to completely set up a new classroom from scratch, I decided I’d best get my butt in gear.

This is going to be a year of big changes for me. About two weeks before the end of last school year, I found out I was changing grade levels. This meant that not only was I leaving second grade for sixth, I would also be changing buildings. I will not deny that there was a great deal of shock and perhaps a few tears on my part. I’d worked in the elementary school for nine years – two as a teaching assistant, and seven as a teacher. If you count the fact that I did my first student teaching placement there, it was really more like ten years.

That’s a long time to work in a school building, to develop a sense of not only camaraderie with your coworkers, but also a sense of family. Together, we went through the ups and downs of Reading First, two huge construction projects that required the relocation of classrooms to unaffected parts of the building, retirements of teachers and a principal, two reading curriculum changes within ten years of each other, and the ever changing, ever stressful advent of Common Core Curriculum Standards.

Once I got my head around the fact that this move was actually happening, I then had to figure out where to begin packing up seven years’ worth of teaching paraphernalia. June 20th found me standing in the middle of my second grade classroom, surrounded by pencil-smudged desks and empty cardboard boxes into which I would have to pack my teaching career.

A coworker and friend poked her head into my room. “Need any help?”

My response? “I’m not sure where to start.”

But I did start. I didn’t finish in an afternoon as I’d hoped. It took another full day of packing to get all my personal belongings sorted out from school and grade level materials. I had ten boxes of classroom library books alone. Another five or six held the rest of my stuff. (I guess that hints to you how I prioritize personal classroom spending.) And as I stood there, staring at my boxes and bins and baskets, I could only send up a prayer that everything would make it over to the middle school without getting lost in the shuffle.

Were there more tears? You bet. It was a sad moment. But then I turned off my lights and went home, determined not to think about it until August.

Well, August is here now. I’ve had a few days of training on the new Common Core Curricula for math and ELA, and I snagged copies of the social studies books I’ll be using.

Did I mention that I get to teach World History this year? Not just a little bit of exposure here and there. Like, actually teach World History. The only thing that could make that sentence better is if World History was replaced with American History. *squees and flails*

I’m starting to get excited. The kids coming up to sixth grade this year are my second class of kindergarteners and my second class of second graders. There are a handful I’ve had twice already, and even if I didn’t have them, they know who I am. That’s what happens when you teach, by the way. You become a sort of celebrity to the kids who’ve gone through your classroom. I’m hoping that the fact that I’m not a stranger to these kids will help us get off on a really good foot. And if somebody starts acting up, I can say, “I’ve known you since you were five. Stop that.”

Unfortunately, my classroom is far from ready. That was the other thing that made moving hard. I finally, FINALLY, after five years of teaching second grade, had my classroom set up perfected. Everything had a place, and everything worked. Now I’m starting from scratch again. I don’t even have student desks in my room yet. However, after about two and a half hours of working today, I’m almost sorted. Other than the classroom library books. I’m not touching those yet, mostly because the carpenters haven’t finished installing my new shelves and everything is covered in dust.

Hopefully, it won’t be too long before I go from “Where do I start?” to “I’m ready to start.”

21 days, people.

Two Weeks In – Where Am I?

I can’t believe we’re already two weeks into the new year. I feel like the holidays flew by.

So what’s my status?

I’m about five pages (estimated) away from having one chapter left in my rewrite. BOOM! That feels good. At the same time it’s got me a little sad. As I’ve said before, this book, in one form or another, has been a huge part of my life for seventeen years. It’s odd to think I’ll be truly done with it soon. My hope is to have the last chapter done by this weekend, so I can use my day of on MLK Day to read through the manuscript from beginning to end. Out loud.


I had the opportunity to meet author E.M. Crane a couple years ago during an adolescent literature class I was taking (as part of my Master’s in Literacy program) and one of the pieces of advice she gave aspiring authors was to lock yourself in a room (figuratively or literally) and read your work out loud from start to finish. That way you hear the things that sound awkward and you catch your grammar and spelling mistakes.

The next step after that is to print a copy and entrust it to a couple of very exceedingly discreet and trustworthy individuals to do a beta read for me. And then it’s on to the chapter summary, a daunting task, but one that’s really necessary in case an agent and/or editor requests one.

Since I’m rather bogged down at work with our new reading series this year, I anticipate being ready to tackle the task of finding a literary agent by summertime. If I’m very lucky, I may have one acquired by summer’s end.

I other news, I weighed myself on January 1st and tipped the scales at my highest weight ever. I shall not post it here, because I don’t need it enshrined. And technically I’m still within a “healthy” weight range, but it’s not a cool number. So for the first time ever I’m tracking my calorie intake and really pushing myself to do my workouts for a better reason than looking good in a wedding dress (which was the catalyst for getting fit the first time around in 2009).

I’ve also been trying to keep myself positive. I’m really a very optimistic person in general, but the past year or so has just thrown so much crap at me, it’s been hard to stay positive. Right now I feel like focusing on my health and fitness, and on my writing, is important. It gives me something to dwell on other than what has been making me sad for so long. I anticipate still having sad days here and there, but hopefully they’ll be few and far between.

It’s also time to start thinking about vacations. 🙂