What are your goals for 2021?

I am grateful 2020 is over, gone and done. The New Year comes with an opportunity to reinvent, refresh, renew, and brings us better luck. It’s up to each of us to make plans for a better YOU.

2020 was a very stressful year for the whole country. We lost loved ones, the economy started going south, unemployment shot up, and with the lockdown caused by Covid-19, the entire world went into a spin. We got isolated from our loved ones, got restrictions to enjoy life, even going to church was forbidden. I hope with the coming of the vaccine, 2021 will be a lot better.

I need life to go back to normal. I’m tired of what is going on in the country. The election, the politics, divisiveness, the riot, the life restriction are not the life I envision in America. I long to return to the old days before Covid. I want to see my friends and be able to travel again and be free again.

To cure my loneliness, I found out music is good therapy. I find myself playing music most of the time. I play Filipino Kundiman to keep me connected to the Philippines. I want to go home and visit my parents’ grave. I missed Mom’s funeral, and it saddens me to no end.

What are your goals for 2021? I call it goals because it seems that resolutions do not work anymore. Studies show that resolutions seem to be out the window by the end of January or early February.

So forget about resolution. Instead, set some goals for a better YOU. 

With some determination, you can accomplish a lot if you set your mind to it.

Did you accomplish anything about your goals in 2020? I accomplished a lot but not all.

Interestingly enough, diet or losing weight was not one of my goals. I lost a lot of weight last year without going on a diet or even thinking of losing weight. I think the fact that I had to go up and down the stairs at least 20 times a day (17 steps to the second floor) to attend to my sick husband made me lose weight. I did not follow any of those diet fads. If I do, I’m sure I will gain weight. I’m slowly getting back to my normal weight while maintaining a good eating habit.

I tried to learn a new language last year. That did not go too well because I lost motivation to do anything after my husband died. Grief took hold of me, and I could not function. I will try again this year.

One of my goals last year was to learn how to play the piano. I bought a piano a week before 2020, and I started teaching myself how to play the piano again. I play to distract myself from things I don’t want to think about. It’s for my enjoyment only and an exercise for my fingers to thwart arthritic pain.

I will continue to downsize my garden to a sustainable level. I’m planting more shrubs and vegetables and cutting down on roses which need more care. Since we don’t have a rose show anymore, I’m opting for easy-care roses.

Regarding books, I was able to spend less on books last year. This year, I’ll try to cut more on book purchases. I have enough books to read in my lifetime. Last year, I only read 12 books. I plan to read more this year.

And write more. Last year, I edited one of my manuscripts, and with the help of a friend who is reading it will try to finalize it this year. Then on to the next one. I have plenty of ideas percolating in my head, but in 2020, I felt overwhelmed after losing my husband and could not get back to the swing of things. I hope 2021 will be a better year. I need to stay focused.  

One last thing I plan to do this year is to continue organizing my home, although I can’t find stuff after I get organized. Right now, I know where things are. Every year I said it is time to organize, but life gets in my way.

One important thing I found comforting, despite the pandemic. My true friends came to my rescue when I needed it most. They called and emailed me to comfort me, and we reconnected again after so many years of disconnection. I am very grateful to all of them. After the pandemic, we plan to get together and have a blast.

For a change, I plan to do things for myself. Charity begins at home!

So that’s my plan for this year. I hope 2021 to be a wonderful year for all of us!

Wishing everyone a very Happy, Healthy, and Prosperous New Year!!

What are your plans for 2021? Share and comment below.

TIPS ON BECOMING A BETTER WRITER – DAY 20

There are ten days left to the end of the NANOWRIMO challenge. Last night I made it to 39,193 words. Today, I did very well in spite of taking a break to take my husband to his eye doctor. The story seemed to flow more freely today. I’m on target to make it to 50,000 words before Thanksgiving. With luck I might end up with 60,000 words by the end of the month. We’ll see.

The tip for today is:

  1. Back up your novel as you go along. This is basically the first rule in computer. Back up especially if you are writing an important piece of article or manuscript. I have gotten into the habit of printing a hard copy of my manuscript. Every time I finish a chapter, I print a copy and put it in a folder. I also back up in an external drive. When I finish my novel, I also make a copy on a flash drive. So I am well covered. You don’t want to lose what you have written in case your computer crashes.

My book recommendation for today is “The Iron Butterfly” by Rosalinda Morgan. That’s yours truly. As I said before, I always back up my work and The Iron Butterfly is no exception. I have a hard copy of my manuscript. It is in a flash drive, in my computer with two titles, and in my E drive. An excerpt can be found on my website: www.rosalindasgarden.com. Check it out.

butterfly_front

 

TIPS ON BECOMING A BETTER WRITER – DAY 19

I’m moving right along. Last night, I made it to 37351 words. I’m getting closer to my goal. Today, the plot was getting more exciting and the words came out more easily. I was typing faster. I took a break this afternoon and went food shopping which took out 3 hours of my time. I went to Costco for one item and checked out with $144 of stuffs. Then I went to Publix next to buy Golden Blossom honey (it’s the only store that carries that brand of honey) and came out of the store with another $90 worth of grocery. Why is that? I can never stay with my list.

Anyway, the tip for today is:

  1. Write your book for your audience. Determine who are your audience before starting to write. Gear your language to them. Communicate in language and style that they understand. After you finish your book, communicate with them. Find the marketing strategy to reach out to them. It is the only way if you want to have your books sold.

My book recommendation for today is Lost in Shangri-La by Mitchell Zuckoff. This book is geared to WWII enthusiasts and should be marketed to them.

Lost in Shangrila

 

TIPS ON BECOMING A BETTER WRITER – DAY 18

I’m more than half way on my novel. I reached 35,566 words last night. This is the most difficult part of writing a novel where your brain has to work hard to keep your readers engaged. You want more interesting stuffs at this point to keep your readers want to turn the pages up to the end. At this point, I introduced a new character. More to come in the next twelve days.

The tip for today is:

  1. Use Standard American English. Don’t use buzzwords or technical language unless you have good reason to or unless you’re sure your readers will understand what you mean. You can alter standard American English occasionally but only when standard language won’t serve your purposes. Avoid Shakespearean English. They are written in the English of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Britain. They are too archaic for modern readers.

The book recommendation for today is The Good Earth by Pearl Buck. I tried to read this book decades ago but stopped. I could not get into the story. This year, I reread it and found it fascinating to learn about Wang Lung’s life from rags to riches with the help of O-Lan, his unattractive wife with big feet. It was all about the land and his attachment to the land where all his wealth came from. It was beautifully written and I learned a lot about Chinese culture and its people.

The Good Earth by Pearl Buck

 

TIPS ON BECOMING A BETTER WRITER – DAY 17

 

We have two weeks to go on the NANOWRIMO challenge. Last night, I reached 33,584 words when I finished. The story went so sad last night. The emotion was high when someone died and this one was heartbreaking. I’m not giving away the plot. Some characters from the first book made an appearance too. And so the story continues.

The tip for today is :

17. Use your imagination and let yourself fantasize. The ability to imagine and fantasize can strengthen your writing. All you need to do is let your mind wander and follow where it will lead you. One of the best ways to fantasize is to ask yourself the question “What if?”. We have been known to daydream all our life and now we should be able to use this skill to make our writing stronger. Ask yourself a lot of questions. If you are not happy with what you visualize at first, ignore it and ask another question. There are so many possibilities out there. Use your imagination.

The book recommendation for today is The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown. If there is a book full of exaggeration, this must be one of them. People actually believe what they read in The DaVinci Code. It’s a fiction and Dan Brown wrote an exciting book.

Da Vinci Code

 

TIPS ON BECOMING A BETTER WRITER – DAY 16

It’s Day 16 at NANOWRIMO challenge and I’m still in the game. I made it to 31,768 words last night. You would think it is easier as you get deeper into the story but it is not. My brain is getting tired and I’m physically exhausted. I was so tired last night I could hardly keep my eyes open when I typed in the last word. On top of that, I’m also blogging and that takes double the time I’m spending on writing. But I want to finish this NANOWRIMO Challenge as a winner. I want to finish my novel. This will be the last in the Journey to Freedom series. The first two books, The Iron Butterfly and BAHALA NA (Come What May) are now available at www.amazon.com/author/rosalindarmorgan.

 

The tip for today is:

  1. Use flashbacks. When used near the beginning of a novel, flashback  brings your characters to where they are at the present time. Some explanations are needed to bring the readers to where the characters are right now. A flashback can take the readers into an earlier scene and make the explanation more interesting. Once you have your reader’s interest, you can go back to the earlier scene and gradually return to the present events to carry your story forward. Get your explanation as quickly as you can by dramatizing past events and then move on with the story.

 

My book recommendation for today is Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford which I just started reading. This book uses flashbacks not just at the beginning of the story but back and forth to the present scene.

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

 

 

 

 

TIPS ON BECOMING A BETTER WRITER – DAY 15

It’s now Day 15, another 15 days to go. Last night, I made it to 30,028, just past 30,000 words. I’m three-fifth towards my goal. At this rate, I should reach 50,000 before Thanksgiving.

The tip for today.

  1. Stop procrastinating and write that first sentence already. When you are a beginner writer, you stare at that computer and don’t know how to start. You find all kinds of excuses not to proceed. I know the route. I had problem typing that first sentence too. I spent so many hours writing and rewriting the first sentence. All writers’ guides say you have to capture your reader with that first sentence. It’s easier said than done. I can remember how many times, I write that first sentence, only to be deleted later on. I must have written it at least twenty times. Your first sentence must capture the attention of the reader. If it does not, the reader will stop reading. It has to answer the 5 Ws – who, what, when, where and why.

My book recommendation for today is Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. Ms. Du Maurier’s first sentence is unforgettable. “Last night, I dreamt I went to Manderley again . . .”

Rebecca by du Maurier

TIPS ON BECOMING A BETTER WRITER – DAY 14

Yesterday, I put in 2,046 words. I am now working on the second half of my goal. Today was a busy day where I live. We had our Fall Festival sponsored by the Social Committee which I am a part of. I volunteered for five hours helping out. It was a great day and the weather was perfect, sunny and cool. I got plenty of fresh air. For some who are wondering how I fit all these volunteer works into my schedule, the answer is simple. I make time on things I enjoy. I cannot possibly write all day. I get headache looking at that screen for too long a time. I have to take a break. Then I sit down and pay full attention at my writing. I think I’m a better writer doing it that way.

The tip for today is:

  1. Watch the chronology. Information about a character and the dates of the events are very important. Watch the age of the characters as the story moves along. You don’t want to be caught by the readers of this mistake. If there are major historic events incorporated in the story, make sure the dates are accurate and your story events parallel them. I check and double check them to make sure they are right. This is especially important if you are writing historical novels.

My book recommendation for today is Fall of Giants by Ken Follett. Talking of chronology, this book chronicled the life of five families through the world events from the WWI, the Russian Revolution and the struggle of the suffragettes to gain women’s right to vote.

Fall of Giants

 

 

TIPS ON BECOMING A BETTER WRITER – DAY 13

I reached the 25,000-word milestone last night on Day 13. Actually I finished last night at 26,168 words. I’m half way to my goal. I just have to keep on going. November is not an easy month to be doing this challenge with all the distractions so when I sit at my computer desk, I have to focus my attention to the task at hand. Otherwise, it will never get done.

Here is the tip for Day 13:

  1. Do your research. If you are doing a novel that happened at a particular time period, do a thorough research on the events during that time. It is a good idea to incorporate some of those events into your story. It makes for a better story. Some writers do their research before they start writing. To me, it is an ongoing job. I do research early on before I start writing and more research as I rewrite. There are plenty of resources out there besides Google. I found out an old Compton Encyclopedia is the best source for thing before 1940. I am lucky to have a set that my husband inherited from his family. It’s much better than the Britannica. You can also find other sources by reading books that were written about the same period you are writing. So do your research thoroughly and make your books shine.

The book I recommend today is Sarum by Edward Rutherfurd. It traces the history of England from prehistoric times. It’s a monumental piece of work at 1033 pages. One does not sit and read it casually. The names of the character are very hard to remember but it has a fascinating story. It took me a while to finish it but I learned a lot about England history. It is obvious Edward Rutherfurd did a tremendous amount of research to write the book. If you love historical novel, this is one of the best books I have read so far.

Sarum by Rutherfurd

 

 

TIPS ON BECOMING A BETTER WRITER – DAY 12

It is now Day 12. Last night, I finished at 23,728 words. I’m getting close to the next milestone – 25,000 words.

Half of today was taken by my involvement with the Magnolia Garden Club. I had to get up early because I signed up months ago to be part of the Hospitality Committee today. I did not know I would join the NANOWRIMO Challenge this November. I got up early and had to do two trays of tea sandwiches with crust cut off for the meeting. I made a tray of Chicken sandwiches with guacamole and mayonnaise and cucumber sandwiches with cream cheese and chives. These simple sandwiches were delicious, easy to make and got rave reviews. I hope my books will get rave reviews as my sandwiches.

The tips for today:

  1. Get inspiration from around you. As a writer, you have to accustom yourself to observe your surroundings. Take note of everything around you. They are fodders for your next book projects. If you notice something unusual, intriguing or interesting, take note of them and write them down. It could be something you see, feel, touch or smell. When you come into a new place, look around. Observe what you see and store them in your memory. Then write them down in your notebook. Make note of the objects around you, the events and the people and their actions. All the things in your notebook could be a source of inspiration for your books later on.

My book recommendation for today is Don’t Fall Off the Mountain by Shirley MacLaine, inspired by her journey through life as a ballet dancer to being an actress and her numerous travels. It is a wonderful autobiography.

Don't Fall off the Mountain