Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Book Winner & Goals

Contest Update:

 Caroline is the winner of,  Help Your Twenty-Something Get A Life! Congratulations, Caroline.
Thanks to everyone else who participated in the drawing by leaving a comment. I wish I had a book for each of you!


How are you doing with your 2013 goals as January draws to a close?

We've discussed goal-setting this year, so let's keep up the conversation.
I started the month with a whopping 34 goals, but keep in mind that they spanned five areas of my life: Personal, Home, Family, Career and Finance. For the rest of the year, my monthly list is rarely as long as January's, and that's because I'm seldom as revved up and enthusiastic as a bright new year gets me feeling.

Anyway, a quick assessment of this month's goals reveals that I've crossed off less than half the things I set out to accomplish this month. HOWEVER--that still means I've done a lot. And if I take into the account the things I got done that never made it to the list, I'm not unsatisfied.

Periodic Reviews:
When you review your goals, don't hesitate to cross off items that no longer matter to you. We are changeable, life happens, and sometimes what feels important while you're making out your list becomes less so over time. Be flexible and go with the flow. Just be sure that you're not discarding anything that moves your towards your TOP TEN GOALS for the year.

In the same way, each new month is a chance to revise goals, or plan for new ones. 
Sometimes I carry over items from the previous month; I also incorporate a few from my master list; and I add any that have arisen. Your list is your list, it's not written in stone. If it's not working for you, change it. 

A blog I sometimes read offered a really good post on the topic of setting and reaching goals, and underscored the importance of focusing on the ones that matter most. (For me, it's the "Top Ten".)
The focus there is on eating right, but the principles apply to reaching goals for any area of life. Check it out

So, how did you do? 
Did you make a monthly plan for this past month, and if so, how did it work out? I'd love to hear about it!

Warmest Blessings,



Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Success Secret

We've been talking about setting and reaching goals here at Woman of Faith, so today I wanted to share some principles that work for all walks of life, even though I wrote them specifically for writers. As a workshop leader with Greater Harvest Workshops here in the Cincinnati, Ohio area, I know from experience that discouragement is a big snafu for writers.  (I've adapted the article slightly for you who are readers but not writers.)

The Success "Secret"

Sometimes newer writers feel like success (in the form of publication) is out of their reach, no matter what they do. Successful authors, they think, must know a secret or two they are simply unaware of. Why else aren't they published by now? (Perhaps there's an area of your life that feels unattainable even though you see other people reaching that goal, benchmark, or weight level. It seems that other people can get there, but not you, no matter how hard you try.)

If you feel like that, beware. 

While success sometimes is a matter of being in the right place at the right time or a result of who you know, more often it is a result of things completely within your grasp: Perseverance and hard work.

Perseverance can get you in the right place at the right time, and hard work will help you meet the people you need to know, or gain the skills necessary to reach your goal.

Colin Powell said, "There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure."

Before you start to feel that life is unfair or that all of your time spent writing and editing your work (or dieting, or studying, or whatever) is fruitless, ask yourself if you have prepared sufficiently, done the work that is necessary, and learned from your failures. 

If you aren't published in book length fiction and that is your goal, then it stands to reason that your work is not done. (Even when you get published, your work is not done.) Before snagging that first contract, however, it is doubly important that you prepare--and keep preparing.  Work hard--and keep working hard.

Many people fail simply because they stop trying. 
 "Great works are performed not by strength but by perseverance."
Samuel Johnson

Learn from your failures, which, for writers, is a rejection letter or a critique. (Some criticism will not be accurate, but learning to find the grain of truth in it can be very, very helpful. Even your enemies can help you in this area--they are the first ones to spot your weaknesses, so their criticism will often contain a grain of truth that you've been blind to.)

Only the Lord knows the right time, the right publisher or the right agent for you. And every time you get a rejection, you can accept that it was not the right place, time, or publisher for you or your work. The key is to find the right one, or for your agent to do so. This takes time and patience.

It may be hard to keep believing that success will happen because it hasn't happened, yet. It's difficult to persevere in the face of rejection. But this is precisely what you must do. This is the time to lean on your God and remember that HE is the one who has called you to do this thing called writing (or whatever thing he has called you to do. Whether it is writing a book or being a homemaker and mother and wife, do it as to the Lord!) Your (publishing) success will come in His time and in His way.

In the meantime, remember that you write not because you may get published,
not to impress an agent or editor,
not to show your family or friends that you can,
but to serve the LORD; to steward the resources of creativity and imagination that He has entrusted to your care.  When you remember that it is GOD you serve, the outcome of your efforts is His concern, not merely yours. Serving God means that you are always a success so long as you are faithful. And that goes for everyone, no matter their walk of life.

His yoke is easy and His burden is light!

Commit your way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.  Psalms 37:5

What is your comfort when you've received a rejection or setback? Do you have a favorite verse you fall back on? Please share it with us. As always, any comment will enter you in the current book giveaway.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

How To Surpass Yourself This Year!

We've been discussing how to set and reach goals, and I should mention that once you learn to implement a system to track your goals, you'll end up surpassing yourself in how much you can achieve in any given month or year.

That's the beauty of doing this: There are many things we can't change in life, but how much we get done when we purpose to do it, is something we can manage. You'd be surprised what you can achieve when you set your mind to achieving it. 

I hope by now you've written out your list of 100 goals, more or less.
Have you chosen your top ten?
Made sure they're measurable, and achievable?

The next step is to fashion a daily To-Do list that moves you, little by little, towards reaching those top ten goals. Since you're using your Master List to write out a monthly one, the next step is to plan out a way to work towards your goal in smaller, manageable steps, day-by-day.

For instance, if I get overwhelmed by the idea of needing to make major changes in a book, I might start my goal list this way:

Review and edit Chapter One. Only Chapter One.

(I am the sort who takes comfort in being limited. ha!) Without the pressure of having to edit the whole darn thing, I find that editing Chapter One is quite manageable. In fact, I might enjoy it so much that I'll shirk my own advice and go on to Chapter Two. But the thing is, I was able to motivate myself by removing the pressure. Forget about the GIGANTIC goal you want to reach and start out by taking teensy, baby steps towards it. 

What's true for me in writing is true in many, many areas of life. How's that old Chinese proverb put it? "The journey of a thousand steps begins with just one."

Take your first step towards that monster goal! If you care to share what your monster goal is this year, please do so. All commenters are entered into the current book giveaway of:

Help Your Twenty-Something Get A Life...And Get It Now, by Ross Campbell, M.D., Kregel Publishing
with a foreword by Gary Chapman, Ph.D.*

Kindle Bargain! Still on Sale!

Before the Season Ends (A Regency Inspirational Romance) is available on Kindle right now for only $2.51!  Great snuggle-up reading (or so they tell me) for a song. :) I have no idea how long my publisher will keep it at this price--I only discovered quite by accident that it was marked down.


Please, will you help me spread the word? Thanks so much!


*Giveaway details are in the original post:

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Setting Manageable Goals

I've reached far more goals in my life since I started using a system to track them. The key, however, is  that I've discovered goal-setting, and in particular, goal-REACHING is fun. That's right: it may take work and discipline to reach a goal, but there's so much satisfaction in getting there, that it's all worth it.

I'm going to share my system with you, and it's one I've gleaned from countless books on time-management and goal fulfillment. As an author who is also a homeschooling mother of five, I've HAD to study time-management to make my life work. But you are likely just as busy as I am, if in other ways. So this will help you or anyone who needs to get purposeful with their life and know that they're getting somewhere on the treadmill of time.

 I've discovered goal-setting, and in particular, goal-REACHING is fun.

What To Do:

One: Write a Master List of at least 100 goals for the year.

That may sound like a lot, but the idea here is to dream big, think big, and focus on what you really want to achieve.  I include five areas of my life when I write my master list, so if you put about 20 items beneath each of the five headings, you'll easily reach 100 goals. Once you get the hang of this, you'll probably have more than 100 goals each year and wonder how you ever lived without writing down these things.

Two: If you haven't already, separate your goals into five main headings, such as: 

  • Personal (losing weight; getting up earlier; speaking more kindly to your mate, etc.) 
  • Family (turn off the tv at 9PM; have a reading night; eat breakfast together before church, etc.)
  • House and Home (Fix the wallpaper in the dining room; paint the hallway; etc.)
  • Career (finish that regency romance in my files; flesh out the two I already started, etc.)
  • Finance (open a Roth IRA; save a 6-month emergency fund; pay off student loan, etc.)
You may want to put a sub-heading in your PERSONAL section for "SPIRITUAL", but I simply include my spiritual goals within the personal heading. (For ex., Read through the Bible; study servanthood; spend five extra minutes a day in prayer, etc.)

Three: After you've sorted your goals into their proper spheres, now is the time to go over them again and prioritize. Choose first your top ten goals.

  •  If I had to choose only ten things to accomplish this year, would this be one of them? 
  •  Is this a non-negotiable item? Something I simply MUST do, have, achieve, etc.?
Once you get your top ten goals, put them into their own separate list.

Finally, using your Master List as a guide, and your top ten goals, create a MONTHLY goal sheet.
You can do this one month at a time. I love to take out my master list at the end of each month and see how I'm doing on the grand scheme of things.

My January list has 34 items, all from my Master List. Some of them are aimed at helping me towards one of the top ten. Not all goals are one-time things you can scratch off a list. Something like "eat more healthy meals," has to be on-going, for example. But I can still give it a check if I've made progress in that area.

Don't Forget

No amount of setting goals will help if you write your list and then forget about it. Review your list often. I check my monthly list about once a week.

Be Sure Your Goals are Measurable

Again, if I write something vague like, "Eat more healthy meals," how will I know when I've reached my goal? Do I need to eat three more healthy meals a month, or one healthier meal a day? So be specific. Write something like, "Order out no more than twice a month." That is something you can measure, and know when you've achieved it.

What about you? Did you set goals this year? Have you found a goal-setting plan that works for you?
Leave a comment and you'll be entered in: 

THE CURRENT BOOK GIVEAWAY! Help Your Twenty-Something Get a Life

  (US ONLY. For details, please see my last post. Scroll to the bottom.)Winner will be picked after midnight, January 20th.

More about goal-setting in my next post!

PS: The Sale is still on!

At the time of writing this, my first regency romance, Before the Season Ends, was still on sale for only $2.51. Please pass the word!

Thanks, and Warmest Blessings,


Sunday, January 06, 2013

New Year, New Goals

Are you enjoying 2013 yet?

I used to hate the months of January and February. Honestly, after the excitement and fun of the holidays, it was as disappointing as a really bad ending to a good book to be inundated with snow and ice and stuck in the house. I had a few winters like that on eastern Long Island when my kids were little.  One year, we had a deep snow (I mean DEEP--four feet--which is very deep for Long Island.) Our driveway got covered, then a wet snow left it topped with an ice-blanket so thick we couldn't use the driveway all winter. My husband had to park on the street for weeks and weeks.

Yes, there were days of sledding and days of building snowmen, and hot cocoa with marshmallows. There was snuggling and reading aloud, and days with the (new to us) Nintendo Donkey Kong, which my boys instantly took to like magnets to iron. (I didn't realize then that the purchase of that first Nintendo system would change our family life forever! It seems boys and video games are fused at the hip--or is it at the mouse?) 

Anyway, in recent years, I've learned to love January and February, and here's why. A new year is the perfect time to rev up the tired old routines that aren't working in your life and make changes that count.

Yeah, I know, you've heard it all before, resolutions and all that. But I'm not talking about vague resolutions or good intentions. I'm talking about a specific list of goals, broken down into manageable chunks, and a plan for how to reach each one. (Who cares what the weather's like when you've got so much to keep you busy and interested in life?)

In a nutshell, I start with a Master List of Goals, break them into monthly goals, and use a daily to-do list to stay on track. I have five major areas of life which I create goals for: Personal, Family, House and Home, Career, and Finance.

I'll give more details on this in my next post, but rest assured that when you see immediate, if small, victories and changes in your life, it is encouraging. So January is a time for me to rejoice in the new disciplines I prayerfully implement, and February is exciting because by mid-month, some of my new disciplines will be new habits. (I should also be a pound or two lighter by then; you know, the pound or two that came on over the holidays? No sense bringing it with me all the way to summer!)

How about you? Do you start new goals with the start of the year? What's your biggest goal this year?

Leave a comment and you'll be entered into my new book giveaway. That's all it takes.*Here's what you can win:

Help Your Twenty-Something Get A Life...And Get It Now, by Ross Campbell, M.D., Kregel Publishing
with a foreword by Gary Chapman, Ph.D.


My first novel, Before the Season Ends (A Regency Inspirational Romance) is available on Kindle right now for only $2.51!  Great snuggle-up reading (or so they tell me) for a song. :) I have no idea how long my publisher will keep it at this price--I only discovered quite by accident that it was marked down! 

*Book Drawing for US residents only, sorry.   I should also mention that it will have underlined passages because I'm just finishing this book but I underline as I go. The reason I underline is twofold: One: I'm compelled to! Two: I hire my daughter to type up all the underlined passages and keep them for later when I want to review what I learned in a book. (I got this tip from Mike Hyatt. Great idea!) So-pardon my underlining--but if you'd like to read the book, leave a comment and you'll be in the drawing! 

Talk Again Soon, :)