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Happy New Year!!

As many of you know, each year I encourage everyone to join me in making a list of goals and dreams for the year (not "resolutions"), as well as to think about a theme you'd like to guide you in reaching them. 2012 was my "Year of Doing The Work." A lot of my goals were related to this theme. Some in relation to carving out time and finishing projects, others to "dreams" that would help make being a full-time writer possible.

In the past, I have only shared goals/dreams that have come true. A lot of the things I write are private and a little (actually a lot) embarrassing, and have very little chance of coming true. But sometimes I still feel the need to write them anyway. I think it's good to have big dreams. It's good to allow yourself to imagine good things happening to you. But sharing/admitting them to other people??? That's, oh, a little uncomfortable. BUT... in an effort to inspire YOU to dare to dream, I'm sharing mine here. I hope I don't regret it. :)

OK. Here we go...


1. Finish draft of READ BETWEEN THE LINES and submit it to my editor.
Done! I got the idea for this book NINE years ago and have been working on it on and off ever since. I never thought it would become a book. It was one of those projects I never thought I'd be ready or able to write. But thanks to the encouragement of writer friends at a retreat several years ago in which we all shared our "dream" project, I didn't give up. I'm happy to report that my editor has approved and accepted the book! *squeeeeee*

2. Earn out with Pearl.
Not even close. Not even… well no. Not even close. *sad face*

3. Press for getting Pearl into paperback with a new cover.
My agent and I queried several times but never got an answer on plans for this. I think Pearl is going to quietly slip away. This makes me very sad. It's true what they say about Barnes & Noble, sadly. Not getting your book into the major chains shouldn't have such a devastating affect on sales, but it does. Ah well.

4. Earn out with See You at Harry’s.
As far as I know, this has not happened. My November statement only covered the first month of sales, so I really have no clue how things are going. This is a little crazy-making, but I'm trying to remind myself to focus on the next project and not worry about things I can't control. Being an author is so different from other careers, in that you know what your paycheck will be each week. Authors' incomes fluctuate so drastically, it is a huge challenge to stay afloat. 2012 is my first year as a full-time writer and while amazing in terms of having lots of time to write, it has been incredibly stressful financially.

5. Get two (or more?? Too hopeful??) starred reviews.
I know. That seems a bit… I don't know. Pushy? Stuck up? Yuck. This is one of the embarrassing dreams I mentioned above. But... I decided to be honest here and yup, that's what I wrote on my list. Who doesn't want a starred review, anyway? :-) SEE YOU AT HARRY'S got a starred review in Kirkus and a 5Q (highlighted) review in VOYA. VOYA doesn't do stars but that's their equivalent so I decided to count it. :-) The audiobook also got a star in School Library Journal. And, the book was chosen as a New York Times notable book of 2012 and Amazon Best Books of the Year. So, I think all of this counts. Yay!

6. Sell foreign rights of anything.
SEE YOU AT HARRY'S will be published in a UK edition via Walker Books. Technically, this isn't a "sale" but it IS being published with a different cover (which I LOVE) so it feels like a foreign edition. It was also picked up by Scholastic Book Clubs! (I realize this is not foreign but in my wildest dreams I never imagined one of my books would be bought by Scholastic, so it FEELS foreign to me!)

7. Continue to spend time with friends (both writer and non).
We've been gathering with a group of local friends about once a month for potluck meals and music-making. It's been a blast! I love them all so much. And doing this has made us feel like members of our community at last. I've also started going out with some lady friends roughly once a month and that has been really great too. I continue to meet in person with my writing partner once a week, and also another writer friend at my house almost once a week, as our schedules work out. Working at home can be very isolating and I'm not good at being alone for too long. Now that I've recognized this, I can work hard to make sure I see friends in person. My mental health is far better for it, and I am really happy to have these special friendships.

8. Read more.
I've read fewer books but tons more manuscripts/galleys this year. I don't know if this counts. I really want to get back to reading a book a week at least. I fell far short of that this year, mainly because I've been reading galley's for blurbs and things. But one of my writing partners and I are trying to read all of the Newbery winners starting in 1960 so that should keep me on my toes. So far we've read 4 or 5 and it has been fascinating.

9. Make BBYA and Quick Picks.
I know, I know. This is another embarrassing one to share. It sounds so pretentious of me or something. But again, who doesn't want/hope to be on these lists? :-) PEARL made BBYA but not Quick Picks. BBYA was a total shock and a huge honor. I'm thrilled! See, sometimes you have to admit to the universe you hope for something and that allows you to work harder to make it happen. Even though you have no control of committee choices, you have control over doing your best. And that's something.

10. Go to BEA and try to do more effective promo stuff for Harry’s.
Boy did I fail miserably on that one. I'm so bad at promo. I've been extremely fortunate that Harry's has been acknowledged as much as it has this year since I did so little to promote the book and there was no advertising or anything like that going on. Word of mouth has really helped get this book into readers' hands so THANK YOU to everyone who has read and reviewed and shared this book with others. I am humbled and very, very grateful. Those words sound trite and overused, I know. But they are also the truest I can think of to express my gratitude. I am honored beyond words that so many people have given Harry's such love and attention.

11. Continue to improve at public speaking.
I don't know if I've improved but I did a lot MORE speaking in 2012. I still get crazy-nervous but it feels a little different than it used to. Now that I've survived it enough times, I know it will all be OK. I guess that's the difference. I'm getting there.

12. Continue to exercise regularly. Aim for 4 miles.
I ran 5 miles on my birthday! My new goal is to run 6 by my next birthday.

13. Worry less.
Oof. This year my theme was "Do the work" and I quit all of my teaching and freelance jobs to be a full-time writer. Money has been extremely tight, but we survived. That was my biggest and constant worry this year. I really hope I can worry a little less in 2013. Did you hear that, Universe? :-)

14. Have more fun.
Definitely had a lot fun in 2012 (see 7 above).

15. Have and go to more parties.
Yup! (see 7 above again).

16. Work on creating more thought-provoking blog posts.
Oops. Terrific fail. I feel like here on LiveJournal, I am writing into an abyss. I am not even sure if anyone will read this post. Maybe that's why I've been a little more brave with it! ;-P

17. Renew passport.
Done! But didn't have enough money to leave the country.

18. Do more volunteer work.
This started out great! We joined a local volunteer group that found something to do as a team once a month. But then the organizers moved away and the group dissolved. We really need to find a way to get back to regular volunteering.

19. Spend more quality time with Eli.
Also done. We had a great summer and this winter vacation was all about reading and hanging out.

20. Go on a family trip.
Sadly, we didn't have enough money this year to go anywhere.

21. Have more “dates” with Peter.
Ugh. No again. See #20.

22. Go on at least one writing retreat.
I spent a weekend in Providence, RI with amazing writer friends and got a ton of writing done.

23. Host at least one writing retreat.
A friend came for a few days this summer to write and talk about our careers. It was extremely helpful.

24. Go to the dentist.
I TRIED but then found out my insurance didn't cover the office I made an apt. at and then I got scared again. I have a horrible fear of the dentist. Definitely adding this to my list again for 2013. :(

25. Have a mammogram.
Finally! And it didn't hurt. I did get a call back but was told 90% of women get called back after their first time and not to worry.

26. Adopt a puppy?!?!?!
We didn't adopt a puppy but some friends did so I am looking forward to living vicariously through them. :-)

27. Write the way I used to, without fear.
This has been a big one for me, and I think over the summer I was finally able to let go and write raw. It can be so hard to turn off the noise sometimes. Whether the noise is critical talk online, bad reviews, or my own negative self-talk. But the one thing that does come out of hearing criticism is the desire to figure out what went wrong and try harder to improve my craft. I am not the writer I long to be. I'm not even sure who she is! But there are so many stories to tell and my dream of telling them better keeps growing.

Well, that's everything! I haven't decided on a theme for next year, but I will tomorrow. I hope you will too!!!


Monday Morning Warm-Up:

Make a list of goals and dreams for 2013, and pick out a theme for the year!


( 71 comments — Leave a comment )
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Dec. 31st, 2012 02:08 pm (UTC)
As for #16, I read it!

Thanks for a really honest post! I write up my dreams/goals for each year, but I always keep the post private. Maybe, maybe I could dare.

Jan. 1st, 2013 08:23 pm (UTC)
Dec. 31st, 2012 02:11 pm (UTC)
Wow, Jo! Your list makes me both happy and a little sad, especially about Pearl because I loved it! :) Still, what a great way to recap the year and hold yourself accountable for what you said you'd do.

Hats off!
Jan. 1st, 2013 08:24 pm (UTC)
Thank you for being such a fab supporter of PEARL. I really do appreciate it.
Barbara O'Connor
Dec. 31st, 2012 02:12 pm (UTC)
Jo, this is great! I doubt that there is a write on the planet who doesn't share most (all?) of those goals. I've loved watching your career take off like a rocket and party like a rock star.

As for public speaking, bah! You are the cutest Freak Sister evah!
Jan. 1st, 2013 08:25 pm (UTC)
Thanks sis! I have been meaning to send you a message for days now. Thinking of you and wishing you a very productive New Year!

Joyce Shor Johnson
Dec. 31st, 2012 02:15 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
You have always inspired me and this list is a continuation of how you do so. Thank you.
Jan. 1st, 2013 08:25 pm (UTC)
Re: Thank you!
<3 Joyce
Dec. 31st, 2012 02:15 pm (UTC)
I love you Jo Knowles. What a brave and brilliant list. I love the balance between that which is for you and that which is other-centered. You are truly one of the most generous people I know.

About the volunteering: That was on my list, too, and I found a way to do it. On Fridays, I visit the K/1 classes at my local elementary school and help during their writing blocks. I don't teach, I mostly listen and ask questions and it is both fun and inspiring and I actually feel like I'm making a contribution. This spring will be harder with all the travel I have scheduled, but I'm going to keep it up anyway.

Jan. 1st, 2013 08:26 pm (UTC)
Thank you, dear Linda. I love your volunteer work! For the next several weeks I'm going to be a ski chaperone for my son's school, so that should be fun. Not quiet the sort of volunteering I had in mind, but maybe it will kickstart to something more. :)
Dec. 31st, 2012 02:17 pm (UTC)
Brava for your honesty!

I could comment more but that would reveal things about ME I still keep private!! <--chicken
Jan. 1st, 2013 08:26 pm (UTC)
Dec. 31st, 2012 02:29 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the honest post. You've got a lot more courage than I have. And you did a pretty darn good job of accomplishing a lot of your goals. Hope you make it to the dentist this year, shudder, shudder. And maybe get that puppy?? Keep writing without fear!
Hope you have a wonderful 2012!
Jan. 1st, 2013 08:27 pm (UTC)
Thank you, Barbara, and the same to you!!!
Dec. 31st, 2012 02:30 pm (UTC)
Goals and Dreams
I love your list and your bravery for sharing. Man, you make tall orders for yourself. You've accomplished so much!

Thanks for inspiring me to make a list. Happy New Year!
Jan. 1st, 2013 08:27 pm (UTC)
Re: Goals and Dreams
Thanks! You too!!!
Dec. 31st, 2012 02:36 pm (UTC)
Congratulations on all the huge steps! All done by smart, loving, brave you. Have a wonderful 2013! xo
Jan. 1st, 2013 08:28 pm (UTC)
Thank you, Jeannine! Hope 2013 brings more visits together! :)
Dec. 31st, 2012 02:42 pm (UTC)
This is an amazingly true and honest list and HOORAY for getting so many great things done! (Hear that, Universe?) It inspires me to think of my own dreams and needs -- oh, that isolation-thing's a *killer* -- and thank you for being brave enough to share.

And, yes, we're listening. *waves*
Jan. 1st, 2013 08:28 pm (UTC)
Thank you, Dawn!! <3
Lisa Papademetriou
Dec. 31st, 2012 02:47 pm (UTC)
Thank you and Happy New Year!
This post is so energizing for me! I'm thrilled and inspired by all that you've accomplished. And also by your honesty! I think it's really important to share the places where we have fallen short. Last year, my only "resolution" was to chew more. AND I DID NOT MANAGE IT. I'm going to make a better list of dreams this year (thanks to you) and I'll see how I did at the end of 2013!
xo, Lisa P.
Jan. 1st, 2013 08:29 pm (UTC)
Re: Thank you and Happy New Year!
Chew more! That is a good one. I should add it for 2013. Even though I don't know what it means!!
Dec. 31st, 2012 03:05 pm (UTC)
It was great to meet you this year and share a drink at YALSA. Happy New Year and I can't wait to read your future work! :)
Jan. 1st, 2013 08:29 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much!!!!
Dec. 31st, 2012 03:43 pm (UTC)
Thank you for posting this. I've just started to wade into the vast pond of self-marketing. I've never been much good at promotion either so I feel your pain on item #10.
Jan. 1st, 2013 08:30 pm (UTC)
You are welcome. And good luck with the marketing!
Dec. 31st, 2012 03:52 pm (UTC)
sounds like a year of growth, and that's always a good thing :)

-Barnes and Noble sucks. Only bookstore around here now.
-LiveJournal is dying which makes me sad.
-Thank you, thank you, thank you for See You at Harry's. Loved it and needed it when I read it.

Happy New Year to you, Peter, and E!
Jan. 1st, 2013 08:30 pm (UTC)
Thank you Doc!!!! It makes me said to be losing LJ too. Who knows. Maybe it will be revitalized somehow. :) Happy New Year to you and yours as well!
Dec. 31st, 2012 03:55 pm (UTC)
Once again, I'm going to copy you.
Jo, loved this post and you have inspired me to write a list like yours tomorrow (always tomorrow, right?). But really, love how you can put out some goals and then have the courage to see how you did a year later.
Jan. 1st, 2013 08:31 pm (UTC)
Re: Once again, I'm going to copy you.
I hope you made your list!
Dec. 31st, 2012 03:56 pm (UTC)
Though I've read 2 of your other books, I haven't had the chance to read either Pearl or See you at Harry's (I live in Belgium, so we don't even have a B&N!), but reading this list of yours made me quite sad to read about the "realities" of being an author. Sad is maybe not the right word, though. I think it's extra ball-sy of you to share the things you're sharing here.
I love how you share your ambitions about BBYA & starred reviews!

I have a question regarding your Barnes and Nobles comment. Do you (or your agent) have handsell your book to B&N or other booksellers? How come a "big" chain like Amazon does carry it, but B&N doesn't? If you don't want to answer, that's fine, of course. I'm just curious because I have a musician friend who basically had to hand-sell his CD to the major music chains over here, despite the fact that it had gotten rave reviews galore!

PS regarding #24: do it! If there's anything I'm happy about living here in Belgium it's that I will never have to worry about something like that or your #25.
Jan. 1st, 2013 08:32 pm (UTC)
Re: Admiration!
I don't really understand the ins and outs of selling to chains, but it involves the publisher, not me and my agent.

Happy New Year!
Dec. 31st, 2012 04:15 pm (UTC)
I love this post so much I'm going to make my list this year. I also love how many goals we share (switch out the book titles) and it really helps to hear how you, so successful and lauded, are still chasing those elusive dreams. Hugs!!
Jan. 1st, 2013 08:33 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the hugs :)
Dec. 31st, 2012 04:45 pm (UTC)
Congrats for accomplishing so much!
Jan. 1st, 2013 08:33 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
Dec. 31st, 2012 04:52 pm (UTC)
Great list!! I hope you get some wonderful surprises on the financial and publication success end very soon!
Jan. 1st, 2013 08:33 pm (UTC)
Thank you, Liz! Happy New Year!
Dec. 31st, 2012 04:52 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
Thank you for your honesty. I like the idea of having a theme for the year--I've already chosen a word, but I'm thinking about a theme. Also, thank you because your honesty helps me (as a yet unpublished fiction writer) feel less like a failure over all my unreached writerly goals I set last year.

Happy New Year's Eve!
Jan. 1st, 2013 08:34 pm (UTC)
Re: Thank you!
Thank you so much! And good luck with your list!
Dec. 31st, 2012 06:00 pm (UTC)
I think it's safe to say your post resonated with me. :) I wish for great things for "See You at Harry's" in 2013. Also: I may borrow your theme from 2012 for 2013. 2012 wore me out, in some ways--but there were so many good things that happened, too. Ready to make changes that will help me better balance out all things creative with all things work-related. Happy to have had so many great times with family, though, so that is a huge plus.

Happy New Year to you and your family!
Jan. 1st, 2013 08:37 pm (UTC)
Thank you Jeni! I hope you have a much less exhausting 2013, and that it's filled with good things!

Dec. 31st, 2012 08:41 pm (UTC)
I love this post. Thank you so much for sharing it, Jo!
Jan. 1st, 2013 08:38 pm (UTC)
Thank you Stephanie! Happy New Year!
Dec. 31st, 2012 11:02 pm (UTC)
Happy new year! Good luck with everything, Jo. Every. Thing.
Jan. 1st, 2013 08:39 pm (UTC)
Thank you! And the same to you!! Thanks for always being such a great cheerleader. :)
(no subject) - slayground - Jan. 1st, 2013 08:46 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jan. 1st, 2013 12:31 am (UTC)
I'm glad you shared that list. I think most of us have similar lists, whether we write them down or not--cherished hopes for our lives and work.

About LJ, I keep telling people: it won't die unless we let it.

I do encourage you on #24 ... And there are dentists out there, like mine, who have excellent "chairside" manner and talk you through everything.

Finally: See You at Harry's is my own personal pick for a certain big award that is given in January. Not that I have any contact with or influence on the award committee! But if it turns out they agree with me, I'll be thrilled.
Jan. 1st, 2013 08:41 pm (UTC)
Thanks Jenn! You are very generous. Thanks for the daydream. :)

Happy New Year!!
Jan. 1st, 2013 01:33 am (UTC)
We almost never take official 'family trips' -- but we got to go to Boston this year (paid for by DH's aunt). And we usually find ways to travel around CO every year too -- it helps that our kiddos love to be outdoors like we do, and they find cool hikes just as enjoyable as more expensive trips.

I must admit, I would rather leave the dentist off my list...I'll wait until (IF?) I find any kind of cavity.

Happy 2013, Jo :)
Jan. 1st, 2013 08:41 pm (UTC)
:-) Happy New Year!
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