Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Setting S.M.A.R.T. Goals for You AND Your Characters

Barbara White Daille
Barbara White Daille

Hello, Seekers, and thank you for inviting me back again!  I always love to spend a release day partying with y'all!  While we're hanging out together today, we're also going to get some work done. 

As we're only a week into 2014, I'm sure many of you will have set goals for yourself that you hope to achieve in the coming weeks and months.  And of course, those of you who are writers know all about setting goals for your characters.

One method of goal setting you've probably heard of uses the acronym S.M.A.R.T.   I've seen variations on the meaning of each letter.  Here's what we're using today.  S.M.A.R.T. Goals are:

Specific – your goal is stated in easy-to-understand language that lays out clearly what you want to achieve.

Measurable – there is a yardstick of some type that will show the progress you're making toward your goal.

Achievable – the goal is humanly possible to accomplish, as well as being something within your control.

Realistic – the goal needs to be something within reason, all things considered.

Time-Bound – there's a deadline by which you want to accomplish your goal.

Now, let's put these steps to work.  (A note for this first example:  I'm not a medical professional and this is for illustration purposes only!)

You:  want to lose ten pounds in the next eight weeks. 

Is that a specific goal?  Yes.  Measurable?  For sure.  You can see the numbers on a scale.  Achievable?  Yes.  A 1- to 2-pound weight loss per week is not unreasonable.  Is it a realistic goal?  That depends on your ability to watch what you eat.  ;)  But yes, in general, it's realistic.  And it's definitely time-bound.

Good job!

Now, your heroine:  wants to pay off the outstanding debt on the family farm before the bank forecloses.

Is that specific?  I'd say it has a few weak spots but is acceptable.  Is it measurable?  Though she hasn't revealed it to the readers, your heroine would know the amount of the debt; we'll accept that as a yes.  Achievable?  The goal might present a challenge, but it has been done before.  Realistic?  That's a good question.  We don't yet know enough about the circumstances.  But you as the author should know them.  Is the goal time-bound?  Yes, if the bank has given her notice of the impending foreclosure date.

For the next example, here's a short clip to introduce you to my hero, Ryan Malloy, from Rancher at Risk.  Ryan lost his wife and young son in an accident, and the loss has driven him to the verge of losing his job and his own self-respect.

Despite the breeze blowing in through the open window beside the bed, sweat dotted his brow.  Hands hovering above the duffel bag, he paused.  Before he could argue or talk himself out of his action, could brush away or second-guess the thought, he grabbed the picture frame from the dresser and slid it, still facedown, under a pile of shirts in the bag. 
He would head out in late afternoon today, once he'd taken care of his chores here on the ranch one last time.  Once he'd swung by for a last visit to the small churchyard on Hanaman Road.
And then...
Then he'd drive to New Mexico.
Only a fool would pass up the opportunity Caleb had given him, one he'd done less than nothing to deserve.  Somehow, he had to undo the damage he'd done, to restore his credibility with the boss.  To earn back his reputation.

Ryan:  wants to regain his boss's trust and be reinstated as ranch manager by successfully completing a job he's been given.  He has been sent to a new ranch in another state, where he's tasked with overseeing the establishment of a school for disadvantaged boys, set to open in less than three months.

This is wordier than the previous examples.  In S.M.A.R.T. terms, Ryan's goal is specific (laid out in detail), measurable (by the completion of interim projects), achievable and realistic (it's a job that has been done before and he's got the knowledge to handle it), and time-bound (by the opening day deadline).

My heroine, Lianne Ward, is the project manager for the school.  She has recently ended a bad relationship. 

Here are just a couple of sentences to show what's going to affect her interactions with Ryan.  ("He" refers to the man she'd dated previously):

No matter what he thought, she could live in both the hearing *and* the Deaf worlds.  And she would fight any man who wouldn't treat her as his equal in either one of them.
Needless to say, micromanager Ryan and independent Lianne are going to clash!  That's something to remember when you're setting S.M.A.R.T. goals for characters—separately, their goals work, but put them together and things will soon fall apart.  Readers look for and love characters in conflict.

Now, our last example. 

Your hero:  needs a way to get back to his hometown sometime in the future.

That goal pretty much misses the S.M.A.R.T. scale altogether.

My questions to you are:

How can we S.M.A.R.T.en up this poor hero's goal?

And what goals of your own did you set for 2014? ( Don't worry about measuring your goals against the S.M.A.R.T. scale.  We'll just talk about them in the spirit of sharing and cheering each other on.)

Barbara is looking forward to chatting!  She will also be giving away an autographed copy of Rancher at Risk to one lucky commenter who responds to either or both of her questions today. 

Rancher at Risk

After the loss of his family in a tragic accident, Ryan Malloy has been given one last chance to change his life. His boss sends him to Flagman's Folly, New Mexico, to run his ranch, but unfortunately, Ryan's troubled attitude lands him in hot water with the locals, especially the ranch's manager, Lianne Ward.

Deaf since birth, Lianne has never let her disability define who she is. But, she's yet to meet a man who treats her as an equal. Ryan seems different…that is, when they're not butting heads over the ranch's new school for disadvantaged boys

Forced to work together, Lianne and Ryan discover an unexpected attraction beneath their quarreling. But will Ryan's painful past drive them apart…permanently?

Barbara White Daille

Originally from the East Coast, award-winning author Barbara White Daille now lives with her husband in the warm, sunny Southwest, where they love the lizards in the front yard but could do without the scorpions in the bathroom.

Barbara's newest title, Rancher at Risk, was just released in both paper and e-book formats.  An earlier book, Court Me, Cowboy, has just been re-issued as a Cowboy at Heart Special Release, available as a standalone e-book (at your favorite retailer) and in Larger Print (exclusively at www.Harlequin.com). 

Barbara would love to have you drop by her website:  www.barbarawhitedaille.com


  1. Good morning,

    I'm not sure I've ever been the first to comment, so good morning.

    I've got a variety of tea and sweeteners. If I'd known, I could have had pastries also.

    Thanks for sharing SMART goals with us today. I'm not sure all of my 2014 goals meet the criteria. Time to reevaluate.

    I hope you all have a great day and find a warm place to hang out!

  2. Oh, this is weird....

    Where are the people????

    Jackie, you're right, I worked early and I'm on retreat in Australia (when not huddled beneath blankets in upstate New York!!!) but for you and me to be FIRST...

    Something's gone whackaroo in Seekerville!

  3. Barbara, I think this is a marvelous post not just because it's you, (BIG CHEESY GRIN HERE!!!!) but because it's a classic by-the-numbers explanation that I sometimes forget!!!!

    As I'm working right now, I had discovered this very same thing about my WIP.... and I needed to wrap my moral premise more securely around my characters....

    Barbara, this kind of self-examination works so well!!! Thank you for sharing it with us!

    No as I said above, I'm doing daily virtual excursions into the sometimes sunny shore of Southern Australia, but reality curves me back to the kitchen table in upstate with out-of-school kids and plans to bake cookies to (keeping the oven on!!!, fiendishly clever!!!!) keep my little friends busy and plying kitchen trades for part of the day!

  4. Oh, this is excellent! I was just reminding myself to sit down and make a check list of my character goals. And here it is!

  5. I set several goals for myself this year. I think they are S.M.A.R.T., but only time will tell. My first couple of goals have already been met: I went to my first meeting of the Central Florida Romance Writers, an RWA affiliate group, and I began swapping chapters with two critique partners. My next goals are to submit the story I'm revising on February 2nd, finish outlines for the two series I want to write, write first drafts for at least two of the stories, and submit at least one other full length work if the first isn't accepted. I have a few short stories gathering dust that I want to polish and send out to lit magazines; these don't require much work and I can send one a month. Since I am not married and don't have any children, my biggest obstacle is working full-time, but there's still plenty of time in the day and the weekends to accomplish this.

  6. Good morning, Seekerville! I'm very excited to be back here to visit again.

    I'm on a looming deadline, so I may disappear from time to time. But you can expect to see me dropping in and out all during the day.

    I've brought a pitcher of fresh-squeezed orange juice and a platter of pastries to add to the brunch table. Enjoy!

  7. Hi, Jackie - congrats on being first to the party! I'm a tea drinker, so your addition is perfect for me. Thank you.

    The S.M.A.R.T list is a great way to look at goals, but of course, there's flexibility in it. My goal with the post (no pun intended) is to start people thinking.

    Thanks for commenting, and stay warm, yourself!

  8. Great to see you, Ruthie!

    I hope the party invitations didn't get lost in the mail.

    So glad you like the post. I'm the same way - sometimes all we need to think about can be overwhelming, and it's good to get back to basics.

    The warm oven is such a good idea. And cookies--yum. (Hint, hint??? LOL)

  9. Virginia - perfect timing--awesome!

    I hope you're able to take something from the post and have good luck mapping out your goals.

    Thanks for commenting.

  10. MzZ - that's an excellent list and so smart of you (again, no pun intended ) to set many short-term goals.

    Being able to check off goals we've accomplished keeps our motivation high to get to the next items on the list.

    Great job!

  11. Barbara, thanks for the reminder about how to set good goals. Setting my writing goals for 2014 is on my list of to-do's in the next few days.

    Thanks for the guidelines so I can be successful!

  12. Thank you, Barbara for a S. M. A R. T. reminder of setting goals for my characters.

    Today will be a perfect time to do just that. It's 15 degrees here in Oklahoma, my part of it anyway.

    Everyone stay warm! :-)

  13. Jeanne - you're very welcome. I'm glad the post is still going to be timely for people.

    I'm usually working on new goals for a couple of weeks into January, anyhow.

    Good luck!

  14. Mary - you're welcome--and brrrr!!! Have a cup of the tea Jackie brought!

    Hope you burn up the keyboard today setting those goals and that helps keep you warm. ;)

  15. Hey, Barbara, welcome back to Seekerville!! Love the subject today because I am FOREVER trying to smarten up when it comes to writing, so THANK YOU for such a clear and concise lesson today. I'm getting ready to start another book, so this is perfect!!

    And, Barbara, I am really intrigued with your premise for Rancher at Risk. I assume your heroine is like a Marlee Matlin who signs? It's interesting how a challenge like deafness automatically deepens a story, taking it well below the surface of a typical romance! Sounds realllly good!!

    Jackie ... I think it's too cold out there for some of us to venture out of the warm, warm bed. Or at least that's my excuse for being on the later side today!

    And, Ruthy, don't let those little ragamuffins have all the cookies, you hear? They gotta learn to share, after all!!


  16. Good morning, Julie! Great to see you.

    Thanks so much for your kind words about Lianne. She is profoundly deaf but has spent a lot of time learning to read lips. Which is never a perfect art--as I've tried to weave into the story.

    And I'm happy the timing of the post is so good for you, too! Lots of luck with the goals and new books.

  17. HOLY COW, MZ ZEY ZEY ... you go, girl!! WOW, what a bunch of challenging goals, but you sure sound like you are able to handle it, girl, evening working full time!

    My heart always goes out to the writers who are full-time workers because it's hard enough to write a book with lots of time, much less adding a day job that eats most of that away. But I know quite a few wonderful writers who do it, several Seekers among them, so it's more than doable. And, in fact, probably forces one to be a "smarter" writer in the long run because time must be utilized wisely, with careful control over all the time-stealers (i.e. Facebook, email, blogs -- not this one, though!). I have no doubt you will succeed, Zey, because you have a very "SMART" plan, my friend!


  18. Ms. Zey-Zey, I have to agree with Julie....

    I love your goals and I know you can do it. Why? Because I'm a full-time worker who delivers 4 books/year and still has time to play....

    Although I love to work and avoid play time that messes with my goals!!!

    But I've got one of those pesky husband things, seven kids (one is stolen!!!) and 12 grandkids, with the drama all of that embraces each season...

    I know you can do this and I love that you're tangibly looking at these goals. You are one smart cookie!

  19. Thanks, Barbara, and WOW, now you have me reallly intrigued, my friend!

    Speaking of writing about a deaf heroine, did you ever read Liz Curtis Higgs' Grace in Thine Eyes? Excellent book where the heroine's disability is she is mute. Talk about a challenge in a novel where dialogue is crucial! But Liz handles it beautifully, as I'm sure you do as well, at least from the little clip I read on Amazon.

    Question: What heat level is the American Romance category of HQ?


  20. Julie and Ruth - you are both so right!

    And Ruth, with that family and schedule, you are beyond awesome with what you accomplish. (But of course, we all knew this already.)

    So many of the Seekers are fabulous examples of the saying, if you want something done, give the job to a busy person.

  21. Julie - you've got me blushing. I'm glad I've intrigued you. That's what we as authors are supposed to do. ;)

    Harlequin Americans have all different heat levels. I always say mine are on "the sweet(er) side." Sometimes with a love scene, sometimes with none. For me, that's driven by my characters. When I do include a love scene, it's focused primarily on their feelings and memories and hopes and dreams. Even then, the love scenes tend to be very short--again, that varies by characters.

    Haven't heard of the book you mentioned, but it sounds great.

  22. Barbara, I love your SMART acronym--a great way to remember how to set specific goals, both for ourselves and for our characters. Thanks for sharing your tips with us in Seekerville today!

    I admit I get kind of lazy about setting goals for myself. I usually have a few goals tucked away in my head, but I rarely write them down (except word count by a specific date, which Scrivener tracks for me).

    I read a book a long time ago that claimed there are basically two kinds of people: goal setters and problem solvers. I seemed to fall more into the problem-solving camp. Not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing--LOL--but I take it to mean I work more effectively by tackling specific issues as they arise rather than planning too far ahead.

    Or maybe it just means I'm putting out fires instead of being proactive. :(


    You did a great job giving us the GMC. WOW. LOVE the S.M.A.R.T premise.

  24. Hi, Myra - you're welcome, and I'm glad you like the post. Just want to stress that I didn't invent the acronym...though may have put my own spin on it in places. ;)

    It's said that writing down a goal makes it more real for us, plus gives us the hand-to-head connection. FWIW

    As for the fires, I won't give an opinion on that but will just say that I *believe* Covey's "7 Habits" goes along with your final sentence about fires and being proactive.

    Sharing this because I have a memory of reading it in the book and feeling guilty. ;) Here's to both of us setting a GOOD habit for this in the year ahead.

  25. Tina - THANK YOU! You're ending my e-mail session on a great note. I appreciate your sharing that.

    And now, I'm taking a break to go wrestle with the deadline book.

    See you later, Seekers!

  26. I set goals for myself in July not January. That's my new year. So I'm still working towards those -written down nicely.

    S.M.A.R.T actually reminds me a lot of charting/documentation on patient charts as a nurse.

  27. Great post...still coffee left? My modem wasn't working...when I called in, I found I had an overdue bill, of ONE day!!!! Paid it, and the modem worked and I could get on Seekerville. Of course, when it talked to an agent, he said they didn't do that! Anyways thrilled to be here now, and loved the post. S.M.A.R.T.!!!

  28. Raise your hand if you are freezing your buns off today. We'll send cyber hot chocolate.

  29. Thanks for the SMART goal tips, Barbara. I need to think though these with the characters in my new WIP.

    Two of my writing goals for 2014:
    - Finish the first draft for one of my WIPs by the end of summer (one is MG adventure and the other is YA dystopian -- very different from what a lot of Seeker friends write LOL).
    - Attend at least one writers conference (probably Write 2 Ignite since it focuses on writing for kids).

    And ... stay warm, everybody! You know it's cold when those of us south of Atlanta just hit a whopping 10F about an hour ago! I'm much too wimpy to live where some of you do ...

  30. Thanks for sharing SMART goals! I haven't set any goals for myself yet this year. Time to fix that :)

  31. It's much warmer today...we've already hit 14 degrees!

  32. Hi BARBARA and welcome to Seekerville. Always great to have you aboard.
    Thanks for the SMART reminder. I have been setting my goals, but forgot I need to be sure my characters have theirs set. smile. Thanks again.

    Have fun today. TINA I'm warm enough but the hot chocolate sounds yummy. Pass it over. Thanks

  33. This post is grabbing authors and reminding them of the basic how-to's....

    And also a great inspiration to set goals and don't back-track... or if you do , you stand up, dust off the seat of your britches, and get back in the saddle.

    Very Rancher friendly!!!

  34. I'd be happy to dust off the seat of HIS britches.


  35. Love the SMART method...can't wait to try it with characters.

  36. Welcome back, Barbara!!
    Wow, add me to all the others who needed this post today---very timely, so thank you.
    Thanks also for the juice and pastries you brought to share---YUM!
    Adding this post to my keeper files---it's the SMART thing to do! *wink*
    Blessings from Georgia, Patti Jo

  37. Hi, Barbara! Love the S.M.A.R.T. acronym!!

    Goals for 2014: finish 1st draft of book #2 by April, polish bk #1 before July, attend ACFW conference. I've got them broken down to more specific, but don't think it would fit here. lol.

    Best wishes and prayers for everyone's 2014 goals!

  38. Barbara, this post is very timely. I was working on strengthen my character's goals yesterday and this morning! I am definitely going to be printing this and rereading.

    I have also had a story idea that includes a deaf heroine. I am looking forward to reading how you addressed that!

  39. This comment has been removed by the author.

  40. Tina - that's a good comparison. I think the S.M.A.R.T. goals are a sort of document map (for our goals) and character map (for our manuscripts).

    Love the idea of setting a different date for your new year. I may have to think of that in the summer and start over.

    And my hand is up! We're not having nearly the low temps the rest of the country is having, but I never say no to chocolate. ;)

  41. Marianne - glad you made it and that you enjoyed the post!

  42. Leigh - my pleasure! You've got a couple of great goals there, good for both you and your muse.

    Those of us who have moved to warmer regions now have thinner blood and feel the cold just as much, I think--even though we have higher temps.

    Stay warm!

  43. Jamie - stay warm! And I hope you're going to get to work. ;)

  44. Hi, Sandra - wonderful to see you again.

    I hope the goals help you get your characters in shape.

    Kudos to you for already setting up your own goals. Best of luck with them!

  45. Aww...Ruth, thank you so much for the compliment.

    I'm glad the post is giving people something think about.

    And I love that y'all are so rancher friendly around here. ;)

  46. LOL That's priceless...(ahem) Anonymous!

    When Ryan gets done walking down that long, looong dusty road, I'm sure he'll be happy to have some assistance.

  47. Sherri - I love that you're going to give this a try.

    Good luck with it!

  48. Hi, Patti Jo, and thanks for the warm welcome. It's always wonderful to be here.

    Hope the post will give you much help with your characters.

    I'm glad you're enjoying the pastries. After the next e-mail break, I think I'll bring a veggie platter and some finger sandwiches. ;)

  49. hi barbara
    i've seen the S.M.A.R.T. thing before, but I like how you've presented it in such an understandable way. I've never thought to apply it to characters, so this will help me quite a bit when looking through my WIPs to strengthen them. THANKS!!!!!

    alas, i haven't made any list of goals yet... well, written them down anyway. not good. i guess my S.M.A.R.T. goal for today is to write at least three goals down by bedtime. hmmmm...

    i think your story premise and cover are wonderful. my brother had a childhood best friend who was mostly deaf (they both attended a school for kids with learning disabilities) - so the heroine is of great interest to me. also, i tend to gravitate to wounded cowboy heroes - they do so pull on my heartstrings.

    i am eager to apply S.M.A.R.T.s to my work to see what it can do.

  50. Hi, Natalie - super goals, and I think it's great that you're staggering the manuscripts.

    It always seems better to take a break so we can go back and look at a WIP with fresh eyes.

    Best of luck to you, too!

  51. Donna - serendipity. Don't you love when that happens?

    Good luck with your book. And I hope you enjoy Rancher at Risk!

  52. Barbara, great post on SMART goals!

    I used to be a goal person...now, not so much. Not sure why.

    Of course, I need to work on dieting and exercise, but those are easily pushed aside.

    Too easily, in fact. :)

    I've fallen in love with your rancher hero. His backstory tugs at my heartstrings. I want that boy to succeed.

    And a deaf heroine?

    You've hooked me, for sure!

  53. Hi, Deb - wounded cowboys so get to me, too! All of mine have one issue or another, and one of them (poor Caleb) almost died from physical injuries. We're so mean to our characters sometimes.

    I love both Ryan and Lianne and can only hope I've done them justice. Thanks for your interest in the story. I hope you enjoy it.

    I'm glad the post gave you some new ideas.

    As for today's goal, it sounds very S.M.A.R.T. to me. :) Good luck with it!

  54. Aww, Debby, thanks for all the kind words! I appreciate the good wishes for Ryan, too. He's really had a hard time of things lately.

    I think we all can sometimes get away from routines that once worked for us. But then we get a reminder of them and go back again.

    As for goals, diet and exercise are recurring ones on my list. Maybe, every January, I'd feel better if I said I was RENEWING those two goals...not SETTING them again and again. LOL

  55. I believe I'm caught up with messages.

    If I missed your comment, it wasn't deliberate. Just please give me a holler and I'll go find it.

    See you all later!

  56. I'm been thinking about my earlier comment concerning my lack of goals.

    Actually, I have goals.

    I know what books I want to write this year and which conferences I'll attend. I have a few projects on hold until I have more free time. I also have marketing strategies that I'm focusing on as well.

    Perhaps I have no new goals because I'm still working on long-term goals already established.

    Will continue to mull that over as I return to my WIP and current short-term goal.


  57. Welcome back to Seekerville, Barbara! Thanks for the excellent post on tips for setting goals and the acronym to help me remember. :-) I sometimes forget to establish a deadline for my characters. A ticking clock makes the story way more interesting. Keeps our characters and us moving toward our goals.

    Rancher at Risk sounds like a great story with interesting characters. I LOVE the cover! What woman wouldn't?


  58. Hi Barbara! Thanks for the SMART acronym and lesson. I've been trying to figure out how to make my two MCs clash more, and I think applying this to their characters will help get that spark that I'm looking for more. Or at least define it more clearly for me.

    As for my SMART goals, I intend to finish polishing my first novel by next July, so I can start sending it to agents. In addition, I'm restructuring my schedule for better writing evenings (I work full-time), so I have at least two evenings a week to work on my curent WIP and get that finished by June. I already accomplished a HUGE goal with that by plotting out the entire novel, so I know where I'm going next and won't hit a wall (hopefully)!

    Have a great day and stay warm!

  59. Barbara, welcome back! What a great post. I've been working on character GMC today, so this is perfect timing.

    You also gave me a lightbulb moment, so thank you!! Now, I have to run jot down that idea before it slips out of my swiss cheese brain. :)

  60. Debby - excellent! You do have great goals. And when we're in the middle of a project, we have to expect some goals to carry over from one year to the next.

    I'm happy to see you mention you're focused on the short-term, too. All those short goals get us to where we need to go in the long run.

  61. Hi, Janet, and thanks for the warm welcome. I'm always happy to visit Seekerville.

    The ticking clock (and ticking bomb, per Hitchcock) is always good for ramping up tension. As long as we vary the source and location, we're good to go.

    As for the cover, I can't take credit but will accept the compliment. ;) Thanks a bunch.

  62. Stephanie - yay, you! It sounds like you're doing some fantastic ground work to get set up for the year.

    Laying out the characters' S.M.A.R.T. goals can really make it easier to find ways for them to clash.

    Good luck with them and with staying warm!

  63. Missy - thanks for having me back here.

    I love all the serendipitous (sp?) moments we're having today. And lightbulb moments thrill me. ;) Best of luck with yours - I hope it leads to a great addition to the WIP.

    (And I know all about that Swiss-cheese brain issue, too, unfortunately.)

  64. I'm reporting a warming trend here in the Midwest. The outside temperature has climbed to 1.5 degrees, a positive number! Yay!! Never thought I'd see the day I'd celebrate single digits. But my goal was to stay warm today. :-)

    Our furnace has been acting up, which has put my goal in jeopardy, but it's functioning fine now. The house is only two degrees lower than the thermostat setting. Awoke to 60 degrees this morning. So, I'm reaching my specific, measureable, apparently achievable and realistic goal before the deadline is over.


  65. The book sounds fantastic, Barbara and I want it right now, so rats, I bought the Kindle version.

    I say rats because I like holding the book in my hands and I like being able to pass them on and now it's only mine in my Kindle.

    But I want to read it!!! So now I can. :)

    I love a wounded hero. Poor Ryan!!!

    And your heroine sounds so tough and feisty, my exact favorite type.

  66. Love the front cover, Barbara. I'm already putting my heroine through her paces this morning, thanks to this great post. SMART is a great guide. Thanks for sharing!

  67. I do like that acronym, so thanks, Barbara. :-)

  68. Janet - thanks for the weather report. Brrrr!

    Will keep my fingers crossed for your furnace.

    And a big yay for reaching your goal ahead of deadline today!

  69. Mary - yes, poor Ryan has been put through the wringer.

    Tthanks so much for picking up (or should I say downloading?) Rancher at Risk! I so hope you enjoy it.

    I am with you about preferring the paper copy in my hands, but I know the e-readers have their advantages, too.

  70. Lyndee - thanks for the kind words about the cover and the post.

    I'm happy to hear you're already putting the S.M.A.R.T. Goals idea to work!

  71. Hi, Barbara! Thanks for coming to Seekerville today.

    I don't have trouble coming up with goals for my characters, but for myself -- well, that's another story. It's already January 7th and I haven't written down any personal goals for 2014. I guess it's time!

  72. Hi, Cara Lynn - I'm often behind on goal setting, too. It's like the holidays--I have eleven months to get ready and I know they're on the way, yet somehow they still sneak up on me.

    If you hurry up and do something tonight, it won't be so bad, since we'll still be in the first week of 2014. ;)

  73. Thanks, Barbara, for the heat level on your books. Sounds right up my alley!!

    I tend to be a wee bit skitzy when it comes to HQ because I judged several for the Rita's last year and was a wee bit shocked at some of the graphic love scenes. There are so many different levels to HQ, that I never know which contain the heat, you know?


  74. Barbara, I've been focusing on being sure there's enough conflict in my writing ... and boy do I see the potential for conflict in Rancher at Risk.

    Thanks for the examples of SMART. I can tell it will be a great help/checklist in editing.

    Ryan and Lianne sound like complex, realistic characters. Putting Rancher at Risk on my 'buy' list for sure!

    Nancy C

  75. P.S. How is Lianne's name pronounced? Is that a long "i"?

    Nancy C

  76. I actually don't have any specific goals set for 2014.

  77. Hello, again, Seekers! I figure mid-week is a good time to indulge, so I'm back with crepes and an array of flavored syrups and fresh fruit. Enjoy! ;)

    On to some comments...

  78. Julie - you're very welcome.

    Yes, it is sometimes hard to tell about heat level. Though some categories are across-the-board, others have more of a range.

    I always tend to say that my books are romances on the "sweetER" side.

    Glad they sound to be in your target zone!

  79. Nancy - thank you! I appreciate the comments about Ryan and Lianne, and I sincerely hope you enjoy their story.

    I'm glad the post works for you. As I said earlier, getting back to basics always helps me, and my brain likes checklists, too.

  80. Nancy - Lianne's name is pronounced the same as Lee Ann. Thanks for asking!

    And since we're on the subject...most people want to pronounce my last name as DAILY. It's actually said like DALE.

    I try to show the distinction in the title of my blog/news column on my website, which is headed "The Daille-y News." ;)

    But, just as we used to say growing up in a house with four kids, I pretty much answer to everything!

  81. Mary - some people don't set goals.

    I've never been able to let a new year go by without choosing a few.

  82. I'll be honest and say I haven't set any goals for 2014, yet, but this post encourages me to do so -- for me and my characters.

  83. Ginger - I'm glad you're feeling encouraged.

    Sometimes all we need is a little push in the right direction. :)