Just about a year ago I lucked into an amazing critique group. When I say amazing you should know that's an incredible understatement. But I digress.

Before this group I was writing without any real path except to create a beginning, a non-saggy middle, and a happily ever after. I was an example of a ‘pantser' gone wrong. Of course I thought of things such as POV, Voice, Showing vs. Telling and so on, but it was a jumbled mess (read-HOT HOT HOT jumbled  mess). I knew about writing in broader terms but broad terms doesn't really cut it does it?

So I joined a critique group. I'd been in one before that was pretty good. But I had left my old group in 2006 when I moved away and then I had two children and moved three more times. Needless to say, my writing hadn't really progressed since I left the group in 2006.

Enter today's critique group.

This group said “we require weekly goals” and I thought to myself “yeah, this goal thing ain't gonna work”.  I was writing whenever I could squeeze time in. Allocating a specific time to writing wasn't even on my radar. Meeting goals seemed darn near impossible. But I gave it a try.

Then this group said “this is a missed opportunity” while pointing to elements in my chapter, and I thought “yeah, duh! Why didn't I see that”.  I started plotting more things out…and funny enough, found more specific times to write with an end goal in mind.

And also they said “this was so funny. Loved this” and I thought “maybe I'm not pissing in the wind, uphill.”  I embraced goal setting. I embraced plotting. I became a better critique partner and consequently (hopefully) a better writer. I set a goal for completion.

And I did it. I finished the book and it wasn't such a hot mess at the end (it was still a mess of different sorts but I squared that out with beta readers).

Then I finished three short stories, drafted a novella and full length manuscript,  and am now half way through my second novel.

I fell in love with goal setting and maxing out word count. I have incredible spreadsheet to support this new love.

I took a risk and decided to put my stuff out there.

I got noticed in a query contest resulting in good feedback. I submitted my MS and got some incredible feedback and some interested parties. I got an offer and accepted it. Yesterday, I received a contract.

It's surreal. It's a dream. It's scary as all get out.

I'm part pessimist so that half of me thinks…this could still fall apart tomorrow.

But right here, right now…I'm savoring this moment. I'm hugging my contract offer and having crazy daydreams that give me a good chuckle.

But not for long…I have a book to finish, kids to play with, and some exercise to squeeze in.

So that's where I am. Right now. Today. And it's a beautiful place. And the plan is to Keep Moving Forward.

BUT before I go…..Thanks to the wonderful people who did my BETA reads (Jessica Rachel, and Kim) and my can't-live-without-them-so stinking-amazing critique group. #YOUARETHEBEST. Your insight, your beta read feedback after you've already seen it piece by piece, your patience, your encouragement, your honesty…YOU'RE BETTER THAN THE BEST! I am so thankful!

Thank you Anya, Eryn, Gary, and John.  THANK YOU!