As I write this, I’m very much off-target for reading the 100 books I set as a Goodreads goal for 2015. For comparison, in 2014 I read 156 when my goal was 100. At the moment, I’m sitting at 60.

A few things changed this year from last in terms of my reading habits. The biggest change is that I graduated the MFA program, and so I am no longer on any sort of reading schedule. I’ve also decided this year to seriously, once-and-for-all break the feeling that I need to finish every book I start — no matter how much I’m enjoying it, or not. Life is too short and there are too many good books out there to slog through ones I’m only vaguely interested in. That decision has freed me to delete some of the books I downloaded more than four years ago and haven’t read, bringing my unread book total from nearly 300 to under 30. (This would be a combination of reading and deleting.)

But looking back at my list makes me think that perhaps I need a new type of reading goal.

New Reading Goal for 2016 – 50 Pages to Find 50 Books

In looking at my lack of great notes after reading; the fact that even with so few books read I can’t really remember the content of some of them other than a general feeling of “yay,” “eh,” or “ick;” the idea that I was previously pushing myself to finish books I wasn’t enjoying; the acknowledgement that there are more books published in a year than any one human can possibly read; and the overall amount of information that’s available to me (and all of us) at the drop of a hat — which sometimes makes me feel like I’m drowning in minutia instead of really immersing myself in any one thing — it seems like I need a book reading challenge that’s based on quality instead of quantity.

With that in mind, I think my reading goals for 2016 will be:

  • Read 50 good-to-great books in 2016. If I’m 50 pages in and still feeling a general ambivalence about the book, it’s time to set it down and spend my time finding my next great book.
  • Once I’ve found a good/great book, carve out some quiet time to sit down and really think about it once I’ve finished it.
  • I do my best thinking when I’m writing it out, so it’s time to write those Goodreads reviews and some blog posts. Really plot out why this book resonated with me, and how the author achieved that. This might be especially hard for me, who is used to looking for why a book isn’t working in order to help an author strengthen their project. It can be so much harder when the prose is seamless to see why a book is working.

Writing in 2016

Rock by Tracy MarchiniThis coming year will be exciting, because I’ve got Rock coming out on September 6th! Rock is still being edited and perfected, but at some point in the coming months, it will be time to start thinking about a blog tour for the book. (In the meantime, you can add Rock to your Goodreads list, which would make me super happy.)

I’m also working on a picture book revision and a few other projects- both indie and traditional. For traditional publishing, I have a young middle grade superhero series that I’m shopping to agents. As an indie author, I’d love to finish the Hot Ticket trilogy with the final two books (Shame Ticket and No Ticket) and I also started playing with turning Effie into a full-length YA novel. (This definitely won’t be finished in 2016, though I have drafted a few chapters and really like where it’s going!) Members of the Quacktory know that I have another dystopian YA on hold as well. And while I can’t have all of these done (and done to the best of my ability) in 2016, I am definitely excited to have these options and projects in the hopper.

In terms of my actual writing process, there was a point in 2015 where I was consistently getting in an hour of writing (or approximately 1,000 words) every day. I would like to get back to carving out that time for writing/revising this coming year. Particularly as a lot of the excuses I used to procrastinate no longer apply: I love my new website, my closet is mostly organized, the amount of stuff in my home has been greatly reduced, and my digital files are a little more organized as well.

That’s not to say that everything is done (a little Christmas crafting showed me that I have so much craft stuff separated into so many bins that I ended up with duplicates of some really random items…) but those pulls to procrastinate are seriously less important than the need to sit at the desk and write!

So that’s my writing and reading goals/thoughts for 2016. Hope your new year is full of joy, happiness, health– and great books! (OH! And ducks.)

"A surprising gem." -- Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Chicken Wants a Nap is available at Amazon, Barnes & NobleTarget and your favorite independent bookstore!

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