Monday, October 20, 2014

Meet Derek Shriver

First off, let me apologize for my tardy post. Derek had taken to his man cave and was at his sullen worst so we had to put off the life review. He had his reasons, he and his lady love, who also happens to be a biophysicist, were shanghaied to the Roaring Twenties where two mad men insisted that Clara build zombies for Derek to train for warfare. Needless to say, Derek has been pondering how to get them back to their own time. He now has a few ideas and is ready to talk.

Now about Derek.

Several years back, I was invited to write a short story for a Desert Sleuths chapter of Sisters in Crime anthology called HOW NOT TO SURVIVE THE HOLIDAYS. I'm a fan of the peace and good will side of Christmas and was uneasy about writing a dark and dreary murder that didn't harmonize well with the season. Not that I'm against murder in other circumstances, and for a different anthology I can murder as well as the next writer.  For Christmas, however, I chose to write with wacky humor.

Derek Shriver stepped into my life as the hero and is now starring in my first full-length Shriver novel, FIRST WE KILL ALL THE ZOMBIES. 

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Derek is a certified public accountant, former Green Beret and an amusement park owner. He grew up in Reno, Nevada where he eventually bought Christmasland, his first theme park. That where he met and fell in love with the beautiful biophysicist, Clara. They eventually married at Fairie World, another of Derek's theme park dynasty, but first they had to solve the murder of the dead tax man in the women's restroom at the Toadstool Cafe.

FIRST WE KILL ALL THE ZOMBIES is Derek's first novel and all he wants at the beginning is to finally make that honeymoon cruise to Paris with Clara. Instead he and Clara are shanghaied to the Roaring Twenties by a fiendish scientist who has teamed up with one of the most brutal figures in modern history. They want Clara and Derek to create and train zombie soldiers. Derek's only goals are to protect Clara and get them back to their own century. In the meantime, they must juggle issues with their own evolving relationship as newlyweds. Expect Steampunk artifacts, zombies, mad scientists, laughter, fear, tears, and a dab of romance.

FIRST WE KILL ALL THE ZOMBIES was released today. In the meantime, to get to know Derek better, check out the short story prequels There's a Dead Elf in Santa's Workshop and Murder at the Toadstool Café.

Click to Buy for 99c
Click to Buy for 99c

To Connie Flynn Site

Monday, August 18, 2014

You Should Have Been at the Desert Sleuths SinC Conference

If you were at the conference I hope we connected. It was awesome, one of the best conference I've attended. Check in later this month for pictures on our Desert Sleuths website

Our speakers, Catriona, Mark, Graham and Tim were delightfully unguarded in their presentations and very generous with their advice. They all attended the Friday night reception and were accessible to anyone who wanted to talk them.

The people attending were just as delightful and asked insightful and often probing questions that provoked some unexpected and illuminating responses. If you didn't attend and you write mysteries or want to write mysteries, I want you to know you missed a terrific event.  You might think about marking your 2015 calendar for the next Desert Sleuths Chapter conference. They are always in August, so look for the news sometime next spring and write down the date.

In the meantime, my thanks to our board and our conference committee. They did it up right.

 Also available in print      

To Connie Flynn Site

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Don't Miss the 2014 Write Now! Conference

“Mastering Crime Fiction:
A Whodunnit How-To”

6-9 p.m., Fri., Aug. 15 • 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sat., Aug. 16

Meet internationally known writers at the WriteNow! 2014 Conference, to be held 6-9 p.m. Fri., Aug. 15, and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sat., Aug. 16, at Embassy Suites Phoenix – North, 2577 W. Greenway Rd., Phoenix, sponsored by Sisters in Crime Desert Sleuths Chapter, a group of local mystery writers.

Creating Characters
WHO Breathe:
Catriona MacPherson

WHERE? Getting to
the Finish Line:

WHY? Your Plot, the Heart
of the Story: 
Graham Brown

WHAT Really Works?

Optimize Writing Time,
Increase Productivity:

JENN MCKINLEY—Guest of Honor
The nonprofit organization will also honor writer Jenn McKinley as Guest of Honor during the Saturday luncheon. McKinley is author of a variety of cozy series, such as Sugar and Iced in her Cupcake Mysteries, and her London Hat Shop Mysteries, her latest Death Of A Mad Hatter.

SPECIAL OPPORTUNITY—One to one critique
Also available for a $20 additional fee this year is a one-on-one critique of the first 15 pages and a synopsis by a Desert Sleuths published member. Participants will meet the Desert Sleuths member on Aug. 15, where writers will have the opportunity to bring their work for a personalized critique, which will be sent to the writer within two weeks following the conference.

Call the Embassy Suites Hotel - Phoenix North Reservations Department at 1-800-EMBASSY and ask for the Desert Sleuths group or “SDS” discount rate of $79, which includes free parking and free internet. Guests may also book a reservation by visiting the Desert Sleuths reservations page at UKLsGl.

Conference Registration: $100 Desert Sleuths members; $120 non-members Includes the Friday night social and Saturday conference with continental breakfast, plated lunch, snacks.

Click Here to learn more about the conference.
Click Here to register for the conference

Sisters in Crime Desert Sleuths Chapter is part of an international organization that promotes professional development and advancement of women crime writers to achieve equality in the industry.
More about the conference, including registration, at

To Connie Flynn Site

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Happy Mother's Day!

In 2011, Cathryn J. Lombardo put together a collection of memories and philosophies of twenty-seven mothers and published it. Below is my specific contribution and the cover of her book as well as a mother's day discount for my latest romantic suspense. I couldn't think of a better time to share than on Mother's Day. Because even as our children honor us for giving them birth, we should take a few moments to remember the joy they have given back. 

So to all mothers, stepmothers and grandmothers and to anyone who has ever nurtured a child . . . 
Happy Mother's Day!
A Mom’s Haiku to My Two Plus Five
by Connie Flynn
Buy Here

The Son
So young and clueless,
I see a little bundle, stretch
my arms to take him.

My firstborn, my gift
An unexpected blessing
safe in my glad heart.

Six years pass, Hot Wheels,
Lincoln Logs, Legos, Cap guns,
fights with neighbor kids.

Don’t be too bossy, I advise
Words of wisdom? Oh, you bet.

The Daughter
I, older, wiser,
a new bundle to hold. I’d
forgotten how small.
On Sale 99c Mothers Day Only

No matter how loud
she cried, my little girl claimed
her place in my heart.

Did I think I’d love
the second less than the first?
Was I that silly?

One day she huffed, our
neighbor wasn’t a real man,
not nice to small girls.

My advice? Ignore the jerk.
Words of wisdom? Oh, you bet.

Little League games and
gymnastics. Fast bikes, cute clothes.
Years speed by too fast.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Don’t Write Bad Dialogue

At the turn of the twentieth century, the few books that dealt with fiction writing advised writers to use a narrative/dialogue ratio around 30% percent dialogue and 70% percent narrative. By mid twentieth century it was a forty/sixty split and by the end it was at least fifty/fifty.

So what about our new shiny century? What is the currently advised ratio of dialogue and narrative? No one can say for sure, but my best guess is that these days the attitude surrounding dialogue is excess is not nearly enough.

I’m kidding, but only sort of. The ratio of dialogue to narrative has increased a lot and the weight has slid to the other side. The average book today is at least fifty/fifty, with some moving to forty/sixty. Part of the reason for this increase is the popularity of deep third person point of view, which often makes it difficult to write enthralling narrative without making your character look obsessive.

Some people have a hard time with dialogue, saying they don’t know how to make characters sound like two people actually talking. Others think they know very well how to write dialogue — they can write, can’t they? While it is true that dialogue isn’t all that complicated, making it interesting while using it to move the story is somewhat of a challenge. And it’s important to master the skill. Nothing engages readers as quickly as dialogue that sounds natural while at the same time relating what the story is about.


What makes good dialogue hard to produce is that it must read like real people talk and also not read like real people talk. Good dialogue simply creates the illusion of being natural while performing the function of telling your story. It often takes years to develop an ear that translates to good writing. Here are a few tips:  


Don’t use formal language or strictly stick to the rules of grammar. Nobody talks that way.

Use contractions. Exceptions might be made if English is the speaker’s second language, but in normal conversation people mostly run their words together as in “we’re agonna go to the concert t’nite” Okay, so you’d never say that and neither will your characters, but I wanted to get your attention.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Will You Be at the Tucson Festival of Books?

I'll be there both Saturday and Sunday (March 15 & 16) helping man the booth of the Desert Sleuths Chapter of Sisters in Crime (#114-115).  We're having a amazing lineup of mystery authors signing books all day long. I'll be there with my Werewolf Shadow duo, now in print after a long absence. And with KNOW WHEN TO RUN, my brand new romantic suspense released in paperback on February 28. I would love to see you. Plus you'll get a chance to meet other terrific mystery writers, some you might know and some you might not. So come on down! 

Learn More about the Festival
Award-winning, bestselling author Connie Flynn writes both long and short fiction and is published in multiple genres, including paranormal romance, romantic comedy, mystery and suspense, and contemporary fantasy/sci-fi. She lives in Arizona on a lush green park where she walks her dog and escapes from the hot desert sun. More widely known for her chilling paranormal novels, her latest release is a twists-and-turns romantic suspense, KNOW WHEN TO RUN.

 If you're attending TFOB, let Connie know, she'll look for you.
To Connie Flynn's Website

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Announcing Debut Author Judith Grout & Chasing the Strawberry Moon

Judith Grout
Debut author Judith Grout lives and writes in Glendale, Arizona. She graduated from the University of Minnesota in Laboratory Science and worked many years in healthcare. Now retired, she attended creative writing classes and researched the years spanning the Great Depression and Second World War in order to write this fictional account of her Mother-in-law’s actual journey across America in 1939.

I first met Judith nearly ten years ago when she enrolled in a writing class I taught. She stayed with me for a number of years then felt she was ready to finish the book on her own. Chasing the Strawberry Moon is an amazing coming of age story that will touch the heart of everyone who reads it.

I invited Judith to be interviewed today as she launches her first finished novel. I am so proud of her and her accomplishment and I invite you to join me in wishing her success with Chasing the Strawberry Moon and with the many more books yet to come from her.

Click Here to Buy
Desperate Situation
Patsy Schwartz knows she has bigger problems to deal with than the Great Depression, the raging Dust Bowl, or another looming world war. Forced to disappear from Baywater, Minnesota to avoid an arranged marriage to the local sheriff’s son, Patsy hits the open road with her best friend, Virginia Burg. Chasing the Strawberry Moon, Hitchhiking (for Girls) is an account of the adventures of a young woman as she makes her way west, running from conniving parents, the mob, and corrupt local law enforcement.

The novel weaves together the frustrations of young adults on the move surrounded by countrymen scrambling for survival. The Big War is waiting in the wings ready to take the best and brightest. Dust from the Great Plains is scratching their eyes and filling their nostrils, while Chicago hoods are trailing them along with the sheriff’s son from back home.

Chasing the Strawberry Moon, Hitchhiking (for Girls) is based on the true story of Patricia Schwartz’s journey across the western United States during the sultry summer of 1939. Accompanied by her best friend, they thumb their way across the country, riding with truckers, ranchers, Communists, preachers, artists for the WPA, women motorcyclists, and Civilian Conservation Corpsmen, to name a few.

The Interview

Judith, Welcome to Imagination Gone Wild. I can't wait to hear about your book. I know you have devoted years of your life to writing this book and I’d like to start with asking how you found that perseverance and what it feels like to finally be publishing something that has to be so close to your heart?

Life is filled with weak and dangerous moments: car accidents, pregnancies, deciding to write a book. Good thing one starts as a dewy-eyed optimist because it’s tough work ahead. Fortunately, I was well-served by my natural curiosity about how to write a good, solid story combined with my innate stubbornness to stick with it. I learned to plot, character develop, research, question, agonize, and revise until my brain ran out of ideas. So I decided this must be the end. Now I feel contented, satisfied, but also a bit apprehensive about exposing my inner thoughts to public scrutiny. And once again my head fills with ideas.

So what inspired you to become an author in the first place?

I spent the first half of my working life employed in the logical, analytical, objective, left-brained world of laboratory science. Then I decided to awaken my intuitive, thoughtful, creative right brain side. I think it worked. Guess I’m center-brained now. Oh, and I promised my mother-in-law I’d write her story. (What self-respecting daughter-in-law could refuse?)

Have you developed a specific writing style?

I started out sloppy: redundant, ambiguous, wordy, telling rather than showing, oogobbies of exposition, adverbs, adjectives, prepositions. Fortunately, your writing classes and my critique group, a gaggle of Spartan minimalists, helped me tighten and fine-tune so now the reader’s brain does more work than my pen.

How did you come up with the title for your book? Tell us your process.

For several years my working title was plain old “Patsy and Virgie.” Then my beta readers revolted, demanding a better title. Their comments forced me to search for a key defining moment in the story when my heroine experiences an epiphany; a place where the momentum for this journey rests. Indian moons fascinate me; they have a mystical, spiritual quality based on Native American beliefs. That was a start. Then I searched for a good action verb: Running after? – No. Following? – No. “Chasing?” - Perfect. Following some manuscript tweaking, a title was born.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

My mother-in-law lamented what she called a skewed opinion about the Great Depression. She reminisced, “We were kids with everyday concerns: dating, restrictive parents, yearning for adventures you didn’t find in a small town. We didn’t know we had it bad. We made our own fun and I never felt deprived.” That is what I tried to convey.

Are there any characters or scenes in the book based on true life experience or on someone you know?

The story is based on my mother-in-law’s actual travels. She gave me a written summary of her 1939 journey. Her details contained Grand Canyon-sized gaps which provided me many opportunities to embellish, add tension, and create interesting, quirky, colorful characters.

What challenges did you encounter in writing this novel? How did you overcome them?

Real life can be phenomenally boring. Readers want excitement, romance, and adventure – something spicier than what they read in the morning paper. My biggest challenge was taking daily, routine events that happened – eating breakfast, doing chores, listening to the radio – and making them interesting. I used your “Twenty Things that can Happen” exercise to devise outrageous events and then sifted through the choices, picking the best to embellish real-life facts. And I resolved a bad case of “talking heads” by learning to pull the reader’s attention to the setting, adding the embroidery that makes places and lives interesting.

Which books/authors have influenced your life and your writing direction?

Wow. So much to read. So little time: [Connie's comment: So true, so true, sigh]
•    My Antonia by Willa Cather. She describes pioneer strengths.
•    Giants in the Earth by O. E. Rolvaag. He tells of new beginnings and the lonely early days on the plains.
•    Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquirel. How to cook foods with mystical powers that go beyond simple sustenance.
•    The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. A search for goodness and courage in ordinary people.
•    Sacre Blue, A Comedy D’Art by Christopher Moore. Artists’ lives are manipulated by that elusive Muse.
What books do you personally read? What are you reading now?
I prefer novels that have a historical bent although I jump from genre to genre. I cannot read a series boom, boom, boom, all in a row. Mixing it up with a YA hot seller, then a sexy memoire, next a romance novel or a thriller seems to keep my attention alive. Currently on my desk:
•    Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury. I love his fascinating, youthful POVs.
•    The Pearl Diver by Jeff Talarigo. Japanese life out of control in WWII.
•    Undaunted Courage by Stephen E. Ambrose. How close we came to living in Little France, Little Spain, or Little Great Britain.

Are you in the process of writing or developing a second book? What else is coming up from Judith Grout? Can you share a little bit about your upcoming work?

Either a short story collection about one Minnesota town from settler days to current times or a continuation of Patsy’s adventures.

Who is your favorite author and what really strikes you about their work?

Jon Hassler. I’ve read all his works about small town life in Minnesota. He writes from a north country perspective which can be a bit severe: a Norwegian bachelor farmer stoicism that comes from living through long, dreary, cold winters armed with resignation yet overlaid with the hope that someday soon the land will provide.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Relish new words. Research them. Store them away for future use. Then pull open the threads of a seam that holds your sentence together and tuck the newbie in. [Connie's comment: very inventive and poetic, Judith]

Is there anything you’d like readers to know about you and your book?

The “real” Patsy would be pleased to read this story. She meets a lot of scoundrels but at last finds a good and decent man. This story shows she overcame a numerous obstacles and maintained her positive outlook on life.

Connie Flynn Website
Know When to Run is now available 

Thursday, February 6, 2014

You Are Invited to Connie Flynn's Gala Book Launch

Meet Me on Facebook at 10a.m.
February 10
to Kick Off

This launch begins with a Facebook event at Click on the events link and it will take you to the events direction where you'll see a badge similar to the one above. This two-week, fourteen stop virtual grand blog tour will continue giving prizes each day through February 24.

Stop by each day and leave a comment or like of follow my pages and you can enter giveaways for the following items:
$10 Starbucks & Amazon gift cards (winner's choice)
Two-book Shadow Series audiobook set
Winner's Choice of any Connie Flynn eBook
 Stick around to the very last post (2/24) for a chance to win a paperback set of the Shadow Series (US addresses only)

Connie Flynn
Buy Know When to Run
An amnesiac accused of murdering her father is being chase by so many people she can't tell the good guys from the bad guys.

 Award-winning, bestselling author Connie Flynn writes both long and short fiction and is published in multiple genres, iHer latest release is the-twists-and-turns romantic suspense, KNOW WHEN TO RUN.

. Back To Connie Flynn Site

Go To Connie's Amazon Page

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Spotlighting: RT Reviewers' Choice Nominee Dawn Atkins

Click Here to Buy
I opened my copy of Romantic Times a short time ago and saw that my friend Dawn Atkins was up for a Reviewers' Choice Award. That was so cool and I immediately invited her to be my first 2014 Spotlight guest.

Welcome, Dawn, and tell us a little about your award nominated Superomance . . . 

I’m thrilled to be a guest on Imagination Gone Wild to talk about how thrilled I was to have my 2013 Harlequin SuperRomance BACK WHERE SHE BELONGS nominated by Romantic Times Book Club for a Reviewer’s Choice Award. The honor is especially sweet because, after publishing 30-some books, I can say that—so far—this was the most difficult book I’ve ever written.

It tells the story of a woman returning to the small town named after her family, which she escaped after high school, to investigate the car accident that killed her father and put her sister in a coma, aided—and occasionally opposed--by her high school flame.

Why was this book so tough? The plot flummoxed me, for one, because it involved technical issues I had to research like crazy—electric cars, batteries, factory functions, brain injuries, recovering from a coma, car accident reconstruction, and on and on. On top of that, the characters remained murky to me far too long. I have to say that by the time I finished the extra revisions on the book, I was sorry to say farewell to Tara and Dylan, who’d become as dear to me as family (well, not quite, but you get the idea….
Dawn Atkins
There is always a burning fear when I write a book that I’ve chosen too difficult a path for the story and the people in it, that I’ve stretched beyond my capacity to convey their journey in a compelling, satisfying and believable way. When it works out, when I reach that satisfying conclusion, the elation is worth every sweated-out word, especially when readers tell me how much the story meant to them. That’s why I do what I do. By the way, the book is still available as an ebook. You can nab it via my website, or for your Kindle, iPad or Nook.

Sharing this with you has motivated to get back to my next book—A COP IN HER HEART for SuperRomance, about a female cop from a cop family who must investigate the murder of her roommate, shot with Julie’s gun. Sound complicated? Believe me, it is. Here I go again with the agony and the ecstasy of writing it.

Thanks again for allowing me to visit!

Your are so welcome, Dawn, and it was inspiring to read about your process. Not enough writers share this information openly these days and I know readers are very interested in the insider details. So thanks for your generosity. There's probably some aspiring writer out there struggling with their characters' challenging path that will be encouraged by reading how you overcame your challenges.
Till later,

Via email:

To Connie Flynn Book Page

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Blog Hop Winners Announced

Winter Wonder Man Blog Hop Giveaways
WIN FREE eBooks! Audible Audio Books!
GRAND PRIZE: $50 B&N Gift Card 

 “What makes a hero in movies and books wonderful to the point your toes curl?”

Oh, those abs!
My choice?
Well, it's looks, actually. Who can deny that Brad Pitt, George Clooney and Sean Connery are timelessly sexy and irresistible. Patrick Dempsey, Robert Downey Jr. and Johnny Depp are yum-yum. Robert Patterson and Justin Beiber are, well, too young. But probably the one who curls my toes more than the rest is Josh Holloway playing Sawyer, the wounded bad boy of "Lost." What really appeals to me is that certain ruthless self-honesty. Bruce Willis has that quality too and with him I think it's possibly a bit real. This is a guy that would go to the wall for you then say it didn't mean anything. So I guess, for me, that's the toe curling factor that goes beyond look



GRAND PRIZE - $50 B&N Gift Card:  Joanne W. from Tera Shanly's Blog
GIVEAWAY #2 - eBook and SHADOW ON THE MOON Audible Audiobook: Gemma (need email address to deliver prize)
GIVEAWAY #3 - eBook & SHADOW ON THE MOON/SHADOW ON WOLF Audible Audiobooks: Elizabeth  Bookattict

Win in Giveaway #1

Win in Giveaway #2

Part 2 of 2 in Giveaway #3

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Setting Goals is Easy, Reaching Them is Hard #2


So we've asked ourselves the hard questions and concluded we really, really, really want the goal we've just chosen. Then we took the next step and fully committed to fulfilling that goal. Now here it is, nearly two weeks into the new year and our progress  is already slipping.

This is where many of us return to beating up on ourselves. Or the mean and nasty world that is getting in our way. Not everyone has the reaction but many of us do and the important thing here is not to beat up on ourselves for beating up on ourselves. Let's just throw ourselves into our frustration (without beating up on other people) and pretty soon the ugly self-talk will go away.

When that happens, it's time to reassess what we decided last week. Do we really, really, really want the outcome of this goal? I figure most of us really threw ourselves into the questions and are confident we do. But the backsliding happen. What to do next?

1.    An unrealistic schedule.
2.    Divided priorities.
3.    A sudden drop in enthusiasm.
4.    Not knowing what to do next.


1.    Cure Our RDD (Reality Deficit Disorder). We all have it and it tricks us into believing we have unlimited time and energy. We commit to this (sure, I can chair the committee), we commit to that (yeah, I can help out with the carpool). We forget to schedule transition and self-care routines, even meals and sleep. Next thing we know we're awake half the night just to catch up. Sound familiar? If so, try scheduling less goal-oriented time. Be sure to schedule routine life demands into the 'used time' calculation. We do these things every day but we like to pretend the time spent doing them doesn't count. Many of us will also have to expand our vocabularies to include the word 'no.' These changes will push out our deadlines, yes, but double our chances of success.

2.    Divided Priorities. This block sounds a whole lot like unrealistic schedule but it's a lot more damaging to our success. This is the child who always comes home with last minute school projects, the husband who invites company for dinner without consulting us or the boss with repeated emergency overtime demands. While there may be fixes for these situations, they are too individual for a pat solutions. We can only deal with each demand in present time while constantly seeking ways to minimize or even eliminate them. Whatever we do will have to involve the other people, so we must look for ways to gain their assistance. Not always easy.

3.    Sudden Drop in Enthusiasm. This abrupt lack of faith in the goal almost always comes when someone else criticizes our goal or expresses doubt in our ability to achieve it. Not that most of us aren't battling our own inner critic but when someone in authority or a person near and dear to us expresses negative thoughts about our goal, it triggers our critical self-talk. Our only defense is to change our self-talk. Remind ourselves that the critics and nay-sayers aren't necessarily working against us, but they might be afraid we'll stop being the person they want us to be. This is particularly true for people with weight loss or substance abuse challenges since success will bring tremendous change. For us, the hardest part – and what usually kicks off the drop in enthusiasm – is the guilt-trip this lack of support causes. We have to remind ourselves that they have a right to their feelings and opinions. It's also wise to take care that in our eagerness to reach our goal we don't forget to give attention to those we care about.

4.  We Don't Know What to do Next.  This can happen when the task we're undertaking is actually a project. That is, it contains a collection of tasks that have to be done to attain the overall results. There's usually an order of importance in these tasks so that one has to be done before the other can be started. We can safely guess that this is the situation when we feel like we can't move forward. This one is the easiest to fix because we don't have to alter behaviors. We simply have to identify which task comes first. Connected to this particular progress block is when the tasks are so many we don't know where to start. In that case, just pick one. If it's the wrong one, we'll eventually stumble on the right one.

Obviously there are other reasons we get blocked while pursuing a goal, but these are four major one. There is no doubt that life gets in the way. A sick parent, a heavy duty season of Little League, a divorce, a job change. All of these slow down or stop our  progress. The secret is to not give up. Once we've become goal oriented, we will begin to see how this forward-looking attitude adds zest to our life.

Here is one weird little woo-woo trick that helps to stay connected to our goal when life throws a monkey wrench. When you put down your project, make notes in a journal or computer file about where you left off and what your next steps will be. Nothing fancy, just enough to jog your memory and get you restarted.

I do this at the end of every writing session and have found that the notes pull me back to the story and into future writing. You may discover this is true for you. In the meantime, deal with the block to your progress and get back to work as soon as you can. As I said, just like me, you may find that having long-term goals makes life much more exciting and the challenge of the blocks is just part of it.

Previous Post: Setting Goals is Easy, Reaching Them is Hard #1. On Track to Success 
Coming Up: Setting Goals is Easy, Reaching Them is Hard #3. You're Almost There

Buy Here
She woke up one morning on a Mississippi riverboat with a huge headache and no idea of who she was. Nearly two years later he came after her, claiming she killed her own father. She says he's got the wrong woman. He says she'd guilty as sin. One of them is right . . .

Award-winning, bestselling author Connie Flynn writes both long and short fiction and is published in multiple genres, including paranormal romance, romantic comedy, mystery and suspense, and contemporary fantasy/sci-fi. She lives in Arizona on a lush green park where she walks her dog and escapes from the hot desert sun. Her latest release is the-twists-and-turns romantic suspense, KNOW WHEN TO RUN.

 Back To Connie Flynn Site

Friday, January 3, 2014

Setting Goals is Easy, Reaching Them is Hard #1


To reach any defined goal  you first have to know yourself and what it actually takes to accomplish your goal. The reason most New Year goals fail is because they aren't clearly defined or there is an environmental or mental/emotional block. Do you want to climb Mount Everest? It's done every day by real people. But you have five young children, limited funds, and no mountain climbing experience. Does this make it impossible? Today, yes. Tomorrow? That depends.

How about becoming a doctor? Or getting a college degree or learning a particular skill? Can you achieve these overnight? Again, probably not and if there isn't some adjustment in thinking, probably never. The mountain climbing goal is not impossible despite the children clinging to your legs and lack of money and experience. You just won't be doing it next week since this is a long term goal.

Novelists start every idea in much the same position as a mountain climber. Who are the people? Where will it take place? How many pages will it be? How will I eat while I'm writing the book?

I know this post seems to be kicking off on a negative tone, but that's only because the way to complete a big goal is to be totally clear on what is true in the moment. You will then be able to effectively choose what to do next.

Rather than tackling everyday doomed-to-fail type New Years goals like losing those last ten pounds, adhering to a regular exercise schedule or being nice to my spouse, we'll look at a way to change your perspective about  staying committed through the long haul. Who knows? Your five pounds could disappear, the barbells become your best friend and your spouse seem much more lovable.

But first we need to tackle what is going on in our lives right now, then head toward how we want it to be. We do this with a series of questions that require brutally honest answers about what we lack and, yes, what we're good at (do not beat up on yourself or be socially acceptably modest - no one knows your answers but you).

What You Want and Why

  • What do you want to accomplish?
  • What is the current state of the goal (halfway there, haven't started yet, it'll happen in a pig's eye -- Be brutally honest but don't beat yourself up)? 
  • What will your life look like when you succeed?
  • What must you do to reduce the gap between what's true now and what is needed to make it a done deal (for most of us, this takes some hard looks at our behaviors, habits and routines)?
  • What behaviors, habits or routines support achievement of your goal?
  • If those traits aren't in your box of tricks, what will it take to develop them?
  • What are you really good at? How can you use it to further progress to your goal?
  • Which of your acknowledged behaviors, habits, or routines are most detrimental to your success?
  • Can you eliminate them? (there is no easy answer because sometimes the sacrifice is too much)?
  • Lastly, ask – do I really, really, really want to pursue this goal?
We might call this sharpening our swords because there's a good chance many of you have not asked yourselves these kinds of questions before. Be willing, when you ask, to set aside previous opinions about the subject and take a fresh look.  You could be surprised to find that many of your goals are designed to please other people or meet society standards. Don't pull back from this knowledge. The fastest way to success is to know what you truly want and that can only happen when you're totally honest with what that truly is.

The more effort you put into your answers the more likely you are to succeed in reaching your goal, no matter how long term, so give a second look at your answers before you tackle section two. Since this is the uplifting part it can be easy to slip into cheerleader mode -- "Yes, I can, rah, rah, rah!." So before you begin, ask again -- do I really, really, really want to pursue this goal? It's important you do, because a goal that doesn't speak to your heart will bring no lasting satisfaction even if you do reach it.

Making Your Goals Stick

  • If you really do want to pursue this goal, say out loud and write down: I really want to achieve ________
  • Are you committed to achieving it? Commitment is different than 'want,' because it implies perseverance.
  • Are you willing to develop the traits that will lead to success?
  • What traits or skills do you already have that will help you succeed? Can you use them to jump start your project?
  • If you're ready, say and write down: I am committed to achieving ______ by (the date you come up with during the next steps)                
Figure out how much time it will take to achieve the goal (example – 300 pages, can do 2 a day, so I need 150 days). Do the same for the stretch goal. You might have to backtrack your production history to see what goal is  within the bounds of current reality.

Figure out how much time you actually have to work on the goal. Look at a yearly calendar. Set aside all days that are already scheduled, even it's only for a doctor's appointment. Figure out how much time in each day is used for grooming, housekeeping and family/friends. Then calculate what's left over. Cut that in half and give the remaining hours to moving toward your goal. If that's only an hour a day, you might have to work with a weekly number.

Set a deadline:  (Be reasonable and choose a time frame that with steady commitment you can predictably reach. Most of us will estimate too optimistically so whatever you come up with, cut it in half. Assure that you have the proper resources for setting your goal and make that part of your game plan.
Stretch goal: (Choose an improbable target and resist the temptation to pull back on it.  Go for your dream!)
Put your deadline date on your calendar.

Do the math (examples):
Goal: 2 Pages per day for a 300 pages will take 150 days
Goal: Learn to set up climbing gear
Stretch goal: Save xxx dollars each week/month for culinary school tuition.

Move your deadline dates up or back, depending on what's possible and your level of commitment.

Establish Milestones for particular achievements. For instance, chapter two finished by March 15, begin climbing lessons by mid-January, check out culinary schools by February 12, etc.

You will have setbacks. Life happens and commitments slip. The worst punishment for failing to keep up is that most of us go into an orgy of self-criticism. This not only doesn't help, it works against us, because we can find ourselves subconsciously avoiding re-commitment because the waves of self-recrimination are so uncomfortable. Many people eventually drop their goals because of this phenomena.

The way to deal with setbacks is to acknowledge that we've let our commitment slip, then re-evaluate. Again, life happens. Perhaps we need to extend our deadline,  maybe rearrange our schedule or get outside help or even change our attitudes. And always, always, use these setback moments to ask yourself, "Do I really, really, really want to do this?"  If the answer is yes, reset your goals and move back into action.

If it turns out to be 'no,' consider going back to step one until something clicks.

In the meantime this is a brand new year, 363 days left ahead of us. Let's use them to stay connected to our love ones, reach our invigorating goals, and have fun!

Till later,

She woke up one morning on a Mississippi riverboat with a huge headache and no idea of who she was. Nearly two years later he came after her, claiming she killed her own father. She says he's got the wrong woman. He says she'd guilty as sin. One of them is right . . .

Award-winning, bestselling author Connie Flynn writes both long and short fiction and is published in multiple genres, including paranormal romance, romantic comedy, mystery and suspense and contemporary fantasy/sci-fi. She lives in Arizona on a lush green park where she walks her dog and escapes from the hot desert sun. Her latest release is the twists and turns romantic suspense, KNOW WHEN TO RUN.

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