Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Too Much Vacation

The persistent cycle of illness that has plagued my family this year appears to be over for now. (Of course, I'm knocking on my desk as I write this!) I'm grateful that January publications are on the newsstands now with my byline and that I'm receiving assignments well into August of next year. Right now I need to work on filling in those gaps by trying to become more organized for next year.
Organization has never been my strong suit, particularly when it comes to my writing schedule. Heck, what writing schedule? I've spent the last few weeks reading novels instead of investing valuable time in my writing career, and today I finally had to set aside the depressing memoir I was reading and give myself a kick in the pants. My own great piece of work will never be written if I continue to spend time perusing PerezHilton.com (I just don't understand why men with track records like Charlie Sheen continue to find women to marry them) and watching reruns of "Cold Case" and "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit."
I read an interesting sidebar in this month's issue of Writer's Digest that talked about keeping a journal during the novel-writing process strictly pertaining to thoughts, photographs, character descriptions and other plot points regarding the work-in-progress. It sounds like a fantastic and fun idea and I think I'll work on putting one of my empty journals to use.
Any goals you're working on for now?

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Getting There

As my daughter is almost fully recovered from pneumonia, my son developed a cough this week and told me his head hurt this morning. He had a chest infection throughout most of October . . . but we won't go there. Being a work-at-home mother has never been tougher than this year!
In addition to that, I've been working on an interesting education article, but I never dreamed it would turn into one of those topics that has people scared to return my calls. Really, I'm not trying to get anyone in trouble, I'm just trying to do my job!
On a brighter note, the sun finally came out today after several days of cold and rain and the majority of Santa's list has been covered off (a little finagling here and there, but close enough, if you ask me).
Assignments are starting to come in for the first of the year and there is hope that our family will continue slogging through this tough economy. I'm hoping to take advantage of all the time my husband has off for Christmas to get new queries fleshed out and sent off to editors.
What are your plans for the next few weeks?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Sickness Abounds

I'm officially sick of cold and flu season. First, my son and I had a cough/cold that turned into a chest infection. We're on antibiotics and officially clearing up. This past weekend, my daughter spiked a fever that had me fearing that dreaded "F" word. Or is that "H" word? We headed into the doctor yesterday and it looks like strep. So now she's on antibiotics and home from school for day two. Grandma is visiting from Texas tomorrow and I have much to do to the house and work to catch up on.
Did I mention I'm sick of cold and flu season? On a happier note, the purge is almost completed and now we just have oodles of paperwork to either file or destroy. The house is much more streamlined and we've gotten rid of so much clutter after a yard sale and three trips to Goodwill!
I came across an interesting blog post about blog topic possibilities. They really are endless. I never seem to run short of things to blog about, but I will visit this list often for fresh ideas. Enjoy, and stay well!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Total Chaos

So how does a writer with assignments on her desk get them completed in a timely fashion?
She decides to completely purge her home this week and cross her fingers for decent yard sale weather this weekend.
Yes, you read that right. Christmas is looming and I'm getting more and more nervous as my 6-year-old daughter carries her clipboard around the house while she composes gift checklists for both her and her 3-year-old brother.
Meanwhile every closet in the house is bursting at the seams and I trip over a toy every five minutes. I'm one of those people who gets a little claustrophobic in the wintertime and can't focus on my work knowing chaos looms right around the corner. I'm trying to preempt the wintertime madness by getting organized before the cold weather sets in this year.
Did I mention we have way too much stuff? We're talking shoeboxes and shoeboxes stuffed full of receipts from up to 10 years back. Textbooks from college that I will never pick up again. In my laundry room today I found a stack of dirty (yes, baby food and all) baby bibs. My son will be four in February. You do the math.
So I'm trying to chip away at this a little at a time, hauling items for the yard sale out to the garage, which we cleaned up this weekend. I've already been to Goodwill twice for the stuff I've never been able to get rid of at previous yard sales. Even the kiddos are being cooperative. I told them Santa may not stop by the house if it looks like we don't need any more toys. Terrible, I know, but it worked!
So wish me luck. In between piles of old clothes and magazines I'll be composing away on my computer so I can hopefully still meet my deadlines while working my way toward a clean, clutter-free home.
Is it really possible? I hope so!

Friday, November 6, 2009


You know what I love about my job? I love that it revolves around my life, and not the other way around. For example, this morning I got to drop both my kids off at school and spend 30 minutes volunteering in my daughter's classroom. I'm now in the public library with my laptop, where I can check e-mail, blog, and browse through any mainstream magazines that could be prospective markets. Then I get to pick my son up from preschool and take him to lunch and speech therapy.
Working a traditional day job never allowed me to do this.
Sure, there are drawbacks. I worked a lot of evenings this week, but unfortunately I know a lot of my peers with full-time day jobs who also have to do the same, without getting paid for it. There's also the lack of a steady paycheck. It's been a nerve-wracking past few weeks waiting for checks to come in, but I finally felt a little relief from that this week. And because I have small children, I have to squeeze in work where I can to make up for days when they are sick or not in school (my son has had a day off from his preschool once a week for election day, Veteran's Day, etc. the past month) which has thrown a small wrench in my productivity!
But I feel that I've accomplished a lot this week. I finished an article two weeks before deadline. I polished up my non-fiction book proposal, sent it to an agent and got an encouraging rejection within four hours. I've researched other agents. I've sent out a call for experts for another article due at the beginning of December. I submitted an essay to a parenting magazine. I cleaned out my e-mail inbox. It's been a good week! How has yours been?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Did You Hear the One About . . .?

I'm sorry I've been out of commission the past week. I've had that pesky chest cold that it seems everyone has this year -- the one where you cough for at least a month. I finally organized my e-mail last night and will finish that correspondence this evening, hopefully. I'm pretty sure I lost one of my long-standing clients yesterday, due to the state of the economy and restructuring within the company, but I was expecting it and luckily picked up a new publication with the exact same pay scale a few months ago. The ebb and flow of freelancing!
I really enjoyed this post about how to head off freelance disasters yesterday. Yes, I have experienced all of these and more:
  • I've had sources hound me to be experts in articles and then, during the interview, pretty much say my article topic isn't really relevant to their expertise.
  • I've interviewed sources who then wanted to change all their quotes to medical mumbo jumbo when I provided quotes to them for fact-checking before turning in an article.
  • I had a PR rep recently contact me so her client could be an expert for an article. Then she proceeded to reschedule the time and day of the interview no less than seven times over the next week. Luckily, I had learned from my previous freelance disasters and found a few other sources to cover myself off. I finally had to tell the rep that obviously her client had a very busy schedule, and I would just proceed with the sources I had already interviewed. This resulted in one last, frantic e-mail and phone call on her part, but I had moved on by then.
Do you have any crazy freelance-writing disasters to share? How did you deal with them?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Boost Your Sales With Business Writing

In your quest for freelance success, don't overlook the importance of business writing, or commercial writing, as some call it, as an income booster. I know, it doesn't sound very glamorous, but there is a need out there and you may be just the writer to fill it. A good place to start is local businesses looking for someone to put together a media kit for them or a preschool who would love some updated brochure copy. Make a list of all the advertising and public relations agencies in your area and put together a few samples and a copy of your resume and business card. These places typically need contractors when they pick up a few new accounts and they have more work than they can cover off with their full-time staff. I worked in public relations before making the switch to freelance writing, and I still do business-writing projects (even if it just requires fact checking/proofreading) from time to time. Browse an updated copy of The Writer's Market for a handy chart on what you should charge for specific services.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Rejections Can Be Good

I've decided to consider any rejection from an editor to be a good sign. Many, many editors do not have the time or inclination to respond to every query they aren't interested in pursuing. I've heard from other writers that one should take a personalized rejection from an editor as an encouraging sign to keep the queries coming. Some "positive" rejections I've received in the past include:

"I enjoyed reading your essay. However, I must report that we’ve decided to give it a pass. Please note that this doesn’t necessarily reflect on the quality of your work (we receive about 750 submissions for every seven we publish). I wish you the best of luck placing this piece elsewhere."

"We actually have covered this within the past year or two--a bit too soon to revisit it, but thanks for your interest."

"Thanks for your interest in ----- Magazine. Currently we're working
almost exclusively with people who work in the ---- field and are
willing to write free of charge. I wish I had a different answer for
you, but that's what we're doing at this point."

"Hi, and thanks for the look. Sorry, but we'll have to pass. Most all freelance we buy is set in the non-Florida Southeast; we rely on staff, wire service and travel columnists for coverage of destinations farther afield."

Nowhere in any of these rejections did I pick up on any kind of "bug off, your work stinks" kind of tone. Some feedback is better than no feedback, right? At least when you receive a personalized rejection, you know to cross that publication off your list and move on to the next editor.

What sort of "positive" rejections have you received? What did you learn from them? Check out this article to learn what kinds of pitches won't get rejected.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Need a New Blog Design?

Hilary at Simply Yours Designs is giving away one free custom blog package, which is worth $90. The giveaway ends on Oct. 26, 2009. Head on over to her blog and read all about it, and don't forget to visit her shop to learn more about her gorgeous design packages. I'm salivating, really. Blogger, I love your free and convenient program, but my blog needs a little help. It does not reflect my personality at all, but I am very design-challenged. I'm sure I'm not the only one out there who feels this way! Where do people get all these cute, whimsical, modern designs I keep running across?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Has This Ever Happened to You?

In March 2008, I came across an interesting newspaper article on the AP wire about volunteers in "The Doe Network," a network of amateur sleuths who help i.d. unidentified unnamed bodies in the United States. There are volunteers in almost every state, and they help track down friends and family of the more than 40,000 unidentified in the United States.
I clipped out the article and put it in a file marked "Research for novel," and didn't pick it up again. But I'm obsessed with crime shows like Cold Case, so I was interested to see the previews of a new ABC show "The Forgotten" advertised recently. I've been watching it, and so far I'm enjoying Christian Slater in the lead role and watching how the volunteers work the cases in their spare time. Instead of "The Doe Network," they go by the name of "The Forgotten Network."
Have you ever had a similar idea that you then saw showcased in a television pilot, novel or screenplay? Please share! It's always bound to happen, as there are pretty much no original ideas anymore. It actually made me feel good that I picked up on something that had entertainment merit with television producers, even if I didn't do anything with it at the time.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Polish Your Popular Fiction

The deadline is approaching for the Writer's Digest Popular Fiction Awards. Submit an entry into the following categories by Nov. 2, 2009:
  • Romance
  • Mystery/Crime Fiction
  • Science Fiction/Fantasy
  • Thriller/Suspense
  • Horror
The grand prize is $2,500 cash, $100 worth of Writer's Digest Books and the 2010 Novel & Short Story Writer's Market. There will also be first place winners and honorable mentions in each category. Entry fee is $15.
I hope you've enjoyed this week and all the writing competition leads. I don't know about you, but I've got a lot of projects to polish up for submission in the next few months!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Do You Have a Freelance Success Story?

If so, the annual publication Writer's Market wants to hear about it. Each year they hold a contest open to writers who have achieved some form of freelance success. You can write about your first sale, first byline, etc. in 800-1,500 words. The top three stories will be selected (and awarded $250, $150 and $100, respectively) and published in a future issue of Writer's Market. Deadline is Dec. 31 and entries are only accepted via e-mail at writersmarket@fwpubs.com. Address your entry to the attention of Robert Lee Brewer. Browse through a copy of the 2009 or 2010 Writer's Market to read previous winner's entries.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Phone Consulting

I'm now offering phone consulting for freelance writers. I've learned so much about the business over the best several years and I love to talk about writing so I decided to combine the two into a (hopefully!) helpful service. You can find the details in the "consulting" section of my Web site. With each session, you'll receive a complimentary query letter critique within seven days of the consulting appointment.
I've been on a roll cranking out queries in the past few months. I'm happy to say I just broke into a national magazine for writers, and had an editor tell me my query was one of the best she'd received in a while. Encouraging.
Set up your appointment today!

Writing Contests at FanStory.com

I came across an interesting community today over at www.FanStory.com. It is a writing site that was established in 2000. Members have the opportunity to post their work and receive valuable feedback from site members. The site also hosts many writing contests -- often with cash prizes. You must be a member to use the site, but membership seems pretty cost effective. Writers can enjoy a free trial membership for one week.
FanStory.com has a flash fiction contest that deadlines Oct. 23. The theme is "the dance." If you've never written flash fiction, I encourage you to give it a try. I've written two flash fiction stories (typically under 800 words) in the past few months and found it to be a great learning experience. It helps you hook the reader at the beginning and write tighter in order to tell the story in one piece.
I've been a freelance writer for the past six years, but have only really started writing more fiction this year. I'm having a blast. Has anyone ever tried FanStory.com? What were your experiences?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Cup of Comfort Seeking Submissions

The popular book series holds contests to determine publication in their anthologies four to six times a year. You can find a complete list of guidelines on their Web site. The grand prize is $500, and 49 other stories receive $100 payment and publication. Currently, Adams Media is seeking stories about what it means to be in love and the the joys of golfing.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Write About Motherhood and Win Prizes

Who hasn't wanted to be published in one of the big parenting magazines? Here's your chance. Parenting is sponsoring "The Meaning of Motherhood" contest through Nov. 1, 2009. Put together a 300-word essay on what motherhood means to you and include an original photo that illustrates your essay's theme to win $1,000 worth of Baby Bjorn products and publication in the print version of Parenting and Parenting.com. See official rules and regulations here.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Fiction Writing Competition

I hope you're enjoying researching writing competitions as an additional avenue for your work. Writer's Market has a section devoted specifically for contests and awards, and I found the following competition in the 2009 edition:
The Glimmer Train sponsors a "November Short-Story Award for New Writers." Submit any work of fiction that hasn't appeared in a nationally-distributed publication with a circulation over 5,000.Word count is 1,200-12,000 words. Submit online at www.glimmertrain.org. $15 entry fee. Submit Nov 1-30. Winner receives $1,200 and publication in Glimmer Train Stories. Runners-up receive $500 and $300.

Eighth Annual FundsforWriters Essay Contest

As I promised, I bring you day one's featured contest. I recently subscribed to C. Hope Clark's FundsforWriters weekly newsletter and it has been a wealth of information on writing grants and contests. She also accepts article submissions, too. Each year she sponsors an essay contest, and this year's theme is "Invisible Writing." I know, it sounded a little obscure to me when I first heard the theme, but it makes since when you read the description. You can pay $0 or $5 to enter your submission; prizes range from $10-$200. The deadline is Oct. 31, 2009. Good luck!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Contests, Contests!

Well, I've had an interesting yet exciting past few months, to say the least. I saw two of my favorite musical acts in concert this summer -- Coldplay and Tori Amos. They rocked, of course. And, after trying to juggle two children with completely separate needs at different schools with a part-time editing job for the past year, I made the decision to return to freelancing from home. It wasn't an easy choice to make. The steady paycheck from that job definitely helped our household, but I felt too torn to help my kids in every way I can while they are still young. So, I've been freelancing since about mid-August.
I had about two weeks where I was sending out queries like crazy and had no assignments coming in where I started to panic again . . . but then work starting coming into my inbox. The lead times in between paychecks has been a little hard to juggle, but I'm getting there. I entered the 78th Annual Writer's Digest Writing Competition back in May, and I found out a few months ago that I won first place in the feature magazine article category! One of the prizes was a manuscript critique from editors and/or Writer's Digest board members, so I've been polishing up that non-fiction book proposal I put together this past summer in the hopes that I can get some valuable feedback on the topic, or better yet, a future book deal!
Going back to freelancing has given me precious time to work on some other projects I didn't have time to work on while working at an office 20 hours a week. I submitted a 750-word short story to the WOW! Women on Writing Summer Flash Fiction Contest and found out I made it through the first round of judging (beating out roughly 200 entries). I haven't written fiction in years, quite honestly. I came across the short story on my hard drive and honestly don't remember writing it, but the characters were so obviously based on me and an ex-boyfriend that I know I did write it at some point, probably when I my son was still an infant and I was delirious from lack of sleep. It gives me hope that I have a future writing fiction, as I've slowly returned to working on my novel-in-progress.
So it will be exciting to hear about the results from that contest this month. I'm afraid all this exciting news has left me a little obsessed with entering writing contests now. I never realized how many of them were out there, and the publishing and monetary rewards they offer.
I'm hereby declaring this coming week "Contest Week" over at Renee's Pages. I will post links to a different writing contest every day this week. Check back daily and join in on the fun!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Only the Beginning?

I have almost completed my first non-fiction book proposal, and it is now in the hands of a few very trusted friends and acquaintances for their feedback. I worked on outlining the prospective marketing and promotion plan last night, and it hit me. You really do need to be completely in love with any book project you take on because you will be eating, sleeping and breathing it for who knows how long once you secure a publisher. So much of the publicity falls upon writers these days that you really shouldn't expect anything less once you ink the deal.
For now, I'm researching potential agents (interesting, really!), working up a query letter, press release and sample chapters so I can be fully prepared if an agent does come calling one day soon.

Just another day at the (home) office!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

These Things Are a Drag . . .

Remember Rocky Dennis from the movie "Mask?" I still have a hard time watching it, but in my mind, Rocky was one of the purest souls who ever walked this earth as well as one of the strongest. It's been a difficult day, but for some reason his "These Things Are a Drag" list popped into my head tonight:

"These things are good: ice cream and cake, a ride on a harley, seeing monkeys in the trees, the rain on my tongue, and the sun shining on my face. These things are a drag: dust in my hair, holes in my shoes, no money in my pocket, and the sun shining on my face. "

I have two freelance articles due in a few days, but I have to take a mental break for now. I'll make up my own list:

These Things are Good:
  • My wonderfully supportive husband
  • My beautiful, insanely intelligent daughter
  • My son, who is a very funny guy now that he's started talking
  • Starbucks
  • Good friends who let me sob my heart out over the phone when I need it
  • The roof over my head and food in my refrigerator
  • My one-eyed Chihuahua Odie who always gives me a snuggle when I need it
. . . and the sun shining on my face.

These Things are a Drag:
  • Watching my children experience physical or mental pain
  • Seeing my one-eyed Chihuahua run into furniture because he has no peripheral vision left
  • Being paralyzed by fear of the unknown and overhwelmed by anxiety
  • Not being able to let go of things I should
Anyone else?

Sunday, May 17, 2009

It's All Within My Reach

Just a few years ago I was sitting at home with my baby girl, dreaming of becoming a freelance writer but with no clue on how to start. I read all the "must-have" books on how to earn money by writing and could read more if I didn't now having paying assignments and a part-time job in the industry to try and keep up with. But there is still one non-fiction title I have yet to see on the shelves, and I've decided to bite the bullet (pun intended here) and start working on a proposal. I found a copy of Bulletproof Book Proposals at my local library and it's full of practical, tangible, step-by-step directions on how to land your idea directly into the hands of a literary agent. And, it has 12-real-life proposals that were actually accepted, which are great examples. So, hopefully I can complete this project and hope no other writer out there has a deal in the making. But time will only tell. I have to give it a shot, right?

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

I Just Can't Stop Reading About This . . .

What is it about the Gosselin family that is like a train wreck you can't help but watch? I watch their reality show on TLC every once in a while, and I'm no expert, but I can already tell one of the twins, Madeline, has some serious issues with being one of two sets of multiples. But more and more, I'm feeling sorry for those kids, because it looks like neither parent ever has time to be home with all the book signings, carousing, TV appearances, more carousing . . . you get the idea. I know they have a right to their privacy, but I can't help myself. It's just like when I had to watch Elizabeth Edwards on Oprah last week even though I never watch that show normally. Train wreck again. Anyone else this shameless? Or is it just the wannabe entertainment reporter in me that can't look away?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Things That Get Published . . .

I'm a magazine junkie. If you know me at all, you know this. I'll look at any magazine that comes my way at least once, as I consider it all research for future article ideas and queries. But I recently received a local publication in my mailbox that stopped me in my tracks. First of all, I'll say the masthead font (and some of the title) is a complete rip-off of a very well-known national publication. But I'd really like to focus this rant on the editor's letter. Here are a few sentences that struck me in particular:
  • As the editor of [magazine to remain nameless], it is my hope that the articles, help full tips and vivid pictures in [magazine name] will inspire you to plant your own garden or tackle some of those home improvement projects you may have been putting off.
  • This months issue was a lot of fun.
  • The Historic Society is a tremendous resources; however, if you know of any hidden gems I'd love to hear about them.
There were a few more errors, but those are the main ones that caught my eye. I expect to see these types of mistakes in blogs or Web sites with self-publishing models, but a free publication that is mailed to local residents, and has the support of local advertisers? Someone needs a good copy editor.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Deadline Approaching!

Oh, wait a minute. Which deadline am I talking about? Is it the deadline of Charlotte Parent, where we go to press next week for the June issue? Or is it the deadline of another article I have due in a few weeks? No, actually, I'm talking about yet ANOTHER deadline I'm thinking about trying to squeak under. The Writer's Digest 78th Annual Writing Competition closes on May 15, and I'm thinking of submitting a magazine feature article and maybe an entry in the memoir/personal essay categories if I can get my act together. The competition will award more than $30,000 in cash and prizes, including a Grand Prize of $3,000 cash and a trip to the Big Apple to meet with agents. Exciting! Check out their Web site for an official list of categories, rules and regulations.
I got a nice mention on the Gwendolyn Strong blog, where I interviewed dad Bill Strong for an iParenting "Dad of the Month" feature article last month. Bill and wife Victoria are probably the most amazing parents I've ever had the pleasure of being acquainted with, and you'll fall in love with the photos of their daughter Gwendolyn, who received a diagnosis of Spinal Muscular Atrophy while still an infant. Check out their story, and if you get a chance, sign their petition to cure SMA.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

I Have Been a Mom for Five Years . . .

And it's still hard to believe all the things I have accomplished, both personally and professionally, since Mia Isabel came into this world five and a half years ago. When she was about 2, I decided, what the heck? Why not give this freelance writing thing a go? I picked up a copy of "Writer Mama" by Christina Katz and a few trusted reference books on freelancing and I never looked back.
I can honestly say if it weren't for my kids, I never would have been so adventurous in my freelancing endeavors. I wouldn't have felt the need for an alternative 9 to 5 schedule so I could be with my kids during their most productive (and fun) hours of the day. I never would have earned the trust of respected editors and pitched and landed assignment after assignment. I am now a part-time editor in addition to a writer, and my copy editing skills have definitely benefited from this experience. All around me I see other parents succeeding in the same field and I am proud to be a part of this group of amazing people -- a group of people who need to support their families and make their own schedules at the same time. I hope this doesn't change anytime soon.
Oh, and the reason I haven't posted in MONTHS? I was training for that pesky half marathon. And I finally ran it last month, even with a painful shin injury. It was hard, and the second half of the race was completely grueling, but I finished it in a respectable amount of time. And I took the experience and pitched a story on it, because my new mantra is "Write What You Know." (See my Web site for further details). That article should be coming out in a local publication in July. Stay tuned.
I guess my husband thinks I'm pretty cool too -- just look what he gave me this morning in honor of Mother's Day! The iPod Touch I've been moping over for months.
Thanks to Mia and Noah too. Because of them I have the greatest job on earth. Being a mom.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Happy New Year!

It's hard to believe it's already 2009. A little over a year ago, I was writing down a list of goals I hoped to accomplish in 2008. Unfortunately, I had four things listed and really only managed to accomplish one of them, but hey, there's nowhere to go from here but up, right? I did manage to increase my income stream taking on a part-time editing gig at a local magazine, and it's been a fun and wonderful learning experience. It's also nice to interact with co-workers on a daily basis, even if it is for just a few hours a day! I also am way more productive at work than here at the home office, where the Internet provides too much of a distraction sometimes.
So, as far as hopes for this year, I have two goals really, and only one of them is writing related! And anything else that comes along will be an added bonus. This way, I hopefully won't get overwhelmed and not be able to accomplish anything at all!

1. I am starting my novel this year (and hopefully will finish it too)! I started the process last year, then had a hard drive crash and lost my entire outline. I crawled into a hole and could never bring myself back out after that big disappointment. But it's time to start fresh. I have a working title, and will commence work this week.

2. I want to train for a half marathon in April. Last year I talked about my quest to lose weight and get into better shape, and I accomplished it (see photo above). I am still working with a trainer and will commence training for a half marathon. My legs are quivering at the thought, but I'm up for the challenge and want to be able to say I did this at least once in my lifetime.

So, I'm trying to keep my goals short and sweet. Any big plans for you this year (personally and professionally)?