Writing Goals Reduxing the Redux

Back in 2006 I posted my writing goals. Then I updated it in 2008 with the publication of How To Ditch Your Fairy and then again in 2009 after Liar came out.

My goals are not stuff like Become NYT Bestselling Author or Win Nobel Prize.1 Winning prizes and making bestseller lists is not something anyone can control,2 but I can control what I write. So that’s what my goals are. Simple, really.3

So the following are categories that I plan to publish a book in. When I publish a book in a given category I cross that category out. I also randomly add categories when they occur to me. Mostly, to give me the pleasure of crossing them out.

First the genres:

  • Romance
  • Historical
  • Crime (what some call mysteries)
  • Thriller
  • Fantasy
  • SF
  • Comedy
  • Horror
  • Gothic
  • Mainstream or litfic4
  • Western
  • Problem novel
  • YA

I have added a new genre: Gothic. This is Sarah Rees Brennan‘s fault. She has written a Gothic, Unspoken, the first of a trilogy, which comes out in September. I love this book SO MUCH. It reminded me of all those Victoria Holt5 books I read by the truckload when I was wee. Of how much I have always adored the Brontes.6 And Shirley Jackson.7 And how I have always thought Georgette Heyer’s one Gothic novel, Cousin Kate, is much overlooked. Me, I am dead fond of it. I even read some Barbara Michaels on SRB’s recommendation and enjoyed them mightily. Though as a genre reader they are a bit frustrating. I kind of hate it when the Creepy Stuff Happening in the House has a really boring logical explanation. It’s too much like a Scooby Doo episode. Anyways, SRB has given me a powerful urge to write my own crazy, scary house novel, which is a metaphor for female imprisonment and yearning. Only in mine she’ll get to blow said house up, which even though it has been done before, will make me very happy.

All I have left is western, historical, horror and Gothic. Though a friend says I can cross horror off because Liar scared the crap out of her. But she is the biggest wuss on the planet so I declare that cheating. Liar isn’t scary at all. Wait till I write my slugs book. Now that’s scary. Though if some more of you think Liar counts as horror I may use that as an excuse to cheat and cross it off.

I am hard at work on a novel set in the 1930s so I suspect historical will be the next one to get the old strike through. But it may take some time . . .

I’m also aiming to publish books that use the following povs:

  • First person
  • Second person
  • Third person limited
  • Omniscient

The 1930s novel makes much use of omni. When it’s finally done I will conquer the entire list!


  • Standalone
  • Trilogy
  • Series
  • Collaboration

A series is a sequence of more than three books that: 1) have the same character or set of characters but each book tells a separate story. You could argue that Raymond Chandler’s Phillip Marlowe books are a series of that kind. 2) are a large story that is told across more than three books.

Some people classify trilogies as a series but I think they’re their own thing. I also admit that that’s very hair splitting and may be heavily influenced by my desire to have one extra thing on this list. Hey, it’s my list. I get to do that.

I suspect the 1930s novel is a series. Though it might just be another trilogy, which would be really annoying. Or a duology. At which point I would add duology to the list.

The collaboration is a new addition to the list. I admit that it doesn’t really fit this list but I couldn’t think what other list to put it on. So, you know, whatever. I added it, obviously, because I get to cross it off. Thanks to having written Team Human with Sarah Rees Brennan which will be published in July. So soon, people!

My happiness at crossing stuff of my list is great. What have youse lot been crossing off your writing goal lists?

Disclaimer: This post brought to you by demonic voice misrecognition annoyingware. Apologies for brevity, wrong word choices, weird syntax and occasional incomprehensible swearing.

  1. Though I am not against those happening to me. I mean, wouldn’t that be grouse? I would not say no. Hmm . . . can you say no to being a best seller? Also is bestseller one word or two? []
  2. Well, not unless they’re hugely wealthy or know hugely wealthy people who are willing to buy gazillions of copies of their books from New York Times reporting stores. And then you wind up with the * meaning this book QUITE POSSIBLY CHEATED. []
  3. Well, except that I’m only counting them once they get published, which is not actually something I can control. It’s something I hope (fervently) will keep happening. []
  4. You know, Literature: professor has affair with much younger student in the midst of mid-life crisis. Though I have never written such a book nor will I. But enough of my readers declared Liar to be literature that I decided to cross it off the list. []
  5. Yes, I am aware that “Victoria Holt” is one of the many nom de plumes of Eleanor Hibbert and that her most popular books were written under the names Jean Plaidy and Phillippa Carr. I loved all those books as well. []
  6. Yes, all of them. Even the much neglected Anne. Well, okay, not Branwell. AT ALL. But then he didn’t write any books, did he? I love all the books by Brontes. []
  7. I worship Shirley Jackson, actually. []


  1. Zeborah on #

    I think I’d distinguish a series (with your definition #1) from an n-alogy (with your definition #2). So you could theoretically have a two-book series if they’re each their own story (though colloquially one’d be more likely to call it a book and its sequel), or a hexalogy if it’s fundamentally one overarching story. Definitions may vary, but I do see a difference between a trilogy and a three-book series.

  2. Mike on #

    I finally attained my goal of writing a history of my hometown. While it’s not going to win a Nobel Prize or make any bestseller list (well, maybe my local grocery store, if they had one), I think it turned out quite nicely.

    Writing it made me empathize with you. At times I had to take long breaks due to pain in my wrists. For me, wrist braces helped, but time off the computer was better.

  3. rockinlibrarian on #

    I totally think Liar counts as horror. Even just glancing at the list, I saw Horror wasn’t crossed off and, before I even read further, thought “But what about Liar?!” I definitely recommend it for FANS of horror at least.

  4. Justine on #

    Zeborah: Interesting. That does increase the scope of list crossings off.

    Little Willow: Thank you.

    Mike: History’s hard work. Congratulations!

    Yes, time spent not typing is the best treatment of all.

    rockinlibrarian: Well, if you and my wussy friend say so then I’ll cross it off. Though another friend just sent me a review of Liar that described it as a light beach read. People’s mileage sure does vary . . .

  5. Kaethe on #

    I definitely think you should write a gothic, since we’re fans of the same authors. But no Mary Stewart on your list? She gives great gothic. And Northanger Abbey is my favorite Austen, because gothic!

    I love everything you’ve published and look forward to seeing what you do with different genres.

  6. Hillary! on #

    Now that slug link was just wrong. Totally uncalled for, I will definitely be having nightmares tonite.

    And I do not think that Liar is horror, even though it did scare me a little, which just makes me more excited for an actual horror novel from you. Especially if it involves slugs. *shudders* I hate slugs.

  7. Justine on #

    Kathe: Thank you so much.

    I loved Mary Stewart back in the day but didn’t feel confident listing her because it’s been so very long since I last read her. She requires a re-read for sure.

    Hillary!: Mmm . . . slugs . . .

    Yeah, you’ll notice I haven’t crossed off horror. It just somehow doesn’t feel right claiming Liar as a horror novel.

  8. Susan Loyal on #

    I’ve been having a strong desire to reread Mary Stewart of late. That could very easily be converted into a desire to read a Larbalestier that reminds me of Holt/Stewart/Bronte. Or six or seven of them.

    Liar is a horror novel, if you read it a particular way.

    You could always write a Western Gothic Horror Historical. There’s plenty of overlap to pull it off.

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