I always love the new year-- a blank calendar of fresh starts, new opportunities, and renewed motivation to live the life you dream of! The new year is the perfect time to reflect on the past year and also look ahead to the future.
The past year has been a great one! I'm into my second year at Purdue and am really loving teaching, and I was honored with an Excellence in Teaching Award based on the end-of-semester evaluations from my students. I've written every day and made substantial progress on two novel manuscripts as well as nearly a dozen short stories. My play "The Stars in Illinois" won the Brian Mexicott Playwriting Award and my short play "love (lower case)" was produced as part of the Quills & Keys play festival in Santa Paula, California. My story "Jared Sampson's Mom" was published in the Valparaiso Fiction Review and nominated for a Pushcart Prize, and my story "Woman, Running Late, in a Dress" won first place out of more than 600 entries in the Ninth Glass Woman Prize. I also had some flash fiction published this year: "Wednesday Afternoon" in Concisely; "Wedding Day" in Dr. Hurley's Snake-Oil Cure; and "Ten Reasons" in Women in REDzine.
Dancing With The Pen: a collection of today's best youth writing was released in February and rose to a #2 ranking on Amazon in the "literature anthologies" category and has received rave reviews from kids, teenagers, parents and teachers. The Write On! Summer Writing Camp was a great success, so much so that for the first time ever I held a one-day Winter Writing Camp over the holiday break from school. I am also now doing Guided Mentorships for young writers, something I really enjoy as it allows me to work individually with them on their writing projects. And the Tenth Annual Holiday Book Drive collected and donated more than 500 books this year, bringing the grand total to 12,290 books!
In my personal life, I met a truly amazing guy when we both volunteered teaching writing workshops for senior citizens. I love him very much and we will be celebrating our one-year anniversary in February. This past summer I traveled to Ireland with my brother and researched our family history, and I also traveled to London and Paris and visited my friend Celine, who I hadn't seen since college. I went to the Taylor Swift concert with my friend Holly; my dad came out to visit me at Purdue for October break; my mom, aunts, and cousins met up with me in Chicago for a fun "girls weekend." My boyfriend and I went to nearly a dozen plays and concerts, including "War Horse" and "Phantom of the Opera." And I got to spend wonderful time with my grandparents when I was home for summer and winter breaks. I am one lucky, lucky girl!
Here's a sampling of my goals for 2012:
- Write! 400 words. Every day. No excuses. A great website I use to track my daily progress is Joe's Goals: http://www.joesgoals.com/
- Submit to a literary magazine every other week.
- Submit a query for a freelance article every month.
- Read a short story every day & 40 books by end of year.
- Send out a Write On! newsletter every month.
- Teach a summer & winter youth writing camp.
- Write a blog post twice a week.
- Exercise 3 days a week.
- Learn to cook 10 new healthy recipes.
- Call my grandparents every weekend.
- Volunteer at a nursing home or food bank.
- Do at least one act of kindness every day.
- Count my blessings every night.