Niki’s Top Ten Goals of 2016!

top ten tuesdayI really like setting and achieving goals, and declaring them publicly always seems to give me that extra bit of motivation I need to make them happen. Last year, I managed to knock out 5 of my 10 goals (all the reading/blogging ones… the writing ones didn’t go so well). This year, I’m hoping for 10/10!

Goals Achieved in 2015:

1. Continue my 1500 for 1 reading challenge.

In which I keep track of the number of pages I read, and as soon as I hit 1500, I’m allowed to buy a book. The previous year I’d been trying a 4 for 1 method, but all that did was encourage me to read the shortest books first. This method has been working splendidly for me – not only does it completely moderate my book spending, but it also curbs that almost addictive need to buy new books, as I read enough to get a new package in the mail once every few weeks. I’ve also noticed that it makes me more selective on what I bring home – after all, I only have one book “credit” to spend at a time, and I want to make sure I spend it on something I’m going to love!

2. Get rid of all the books I didn’t like:

This goal involved getting rid of books that I’d already read, but kind of hated. This one was really difficult for me because each read book on my shelf represents a little badge of accomplishment. I tackled this goal in baby steps, starting out by removing all of these titles from my shelves. I soon discovered that having bookcases only filled with both books that I absolutely loved and ones that I am super excited to read made gazing at my library a lot more rewarding than when I was having to stop constantly to lament how much I didn’t like a particular title. It sounds weird, but hey, whatever works, right?

3. Only review the books I feel strongly about.

I achieved this goal, but in a different way than I’d intended. Initially, I was thinking to review only the extreme ends of the spectrums, you know, the loves and hates. I discovered that sometimes, the ones smack dab in the middle of those extremes are the ones I felt the most strongly about. In any case, I feel like my reviews in 2015 were stronger than they’ve ever been because I wasn’t just going through the motions to get my opinion of the titles down – I genuinely felt passionate about every review I shared. I will definitely be continuing this as I go forward.

4. Add a few more buttons to my social media taskbar.

Done! It took me six hours and a lot of hair-pulling, but I’m glad I finally sucked it up long enough to get it done. And you know what? I like them. :-)

5. Stop being a phantom follower.

I still don’t comment as often as I could, but I feel good enough about my progress towards this goal to call it a win for 2015. I probably commented (with thoughtful and sincere comments) more last year than I had in my previous three years of blogging combined. This year will probably be even better.

Like I said, all of my blogging/reading goals were achieved, but for various reasons, I didn’t complete any of my writing goals. This year, I decided to make all of my goals reading/blogging/creativity related.

Niki’s Top Ten Goals of 2016!

1. Be Creative!

2016 is the year of creativity! In which I plan to do some sort of creative expression every day. I’m ready, too. I have a fresh set of paints, gorgeous high-quality colored pencils (and a nifty adult coloring book), a beautiful crossstitch project, and an organized arsenal of countless other supplies and possibilities! My first focus is to finish a gorgeous Royce Frogs crossstitch project that I started during the 2012 Summer Olympics.

9 & 1/2 frogs down, 2 (and a ton of back stitching) to go!

2. Dance to the beat of my own drum!

From a reading/blogging standpoint, of course. I’ve been kind of doing this throughout 2015 anyway, but I’d like to make an official goal for 2016.

Notes to self: [1] don’t feel like blogging this week? Whatever. I doubt it will hurt anyone’s feelings (if they even notice. I’ve seen a few of those “I’m back” posts where I went “oh, yeah… Now that you mention it, I haven’t seen a post in a while – glad you’re back!” [2] feel like posting 10 times in 2 days to effectively burn yourself out? That’s cool, too, just apologize to your readers for BOMBING their inboxes. [3] miss posting/writing a weekly feature post (like Top Ten Tuesday) that you’d wanted to do? HOW ANNOYING!!! Find a way to cope with your OCD and post it anyway. I don’t care if it’s Friday.

It’s an oddly liberating thing to finally realize that this is MY blog and I don’t have any rules or constraints on my creativity other than what I place on myself. Although, ultimately, I would love to dance to my own drum AND make my readers happy at the same time. I think it’s possible.

3. Finish out priority series.

This was an unofficial goal last year, and I’ve made a lot of progress with it. It goes along nicely with my “Read the best books first” mantra and has helped me focus primarily on the authors I claim as favorites. I also feel weirdly compelled to finish these outstanding series before I dive fully into new ones. Like I won’t enjoy the new ones until I finish the old ones? It doesn’t make any sense, so it’s probably just my OCD trying to rationalize this compulsion from my subconscious. I’m choosing to indulge it.

4. Respond to comments ON MY OWN BLOG!

Ugh. How embarrassing. I mean, I managed to comment on other blogs this year while awkwardly neglecting my own. This is unacceptable behavior for me because of how much I appreciate anyone who takes the time out of their busy day to visit and interact with me. I feel ultimate shame. It’s one of those situations where I read the comment in the email WordPress sends me, formulate a reply in my head, then promptly forget to actually respond. #fail

5. Get my eyes healthy.

Really, this should be my first goal this year. ANY other goals I set for reading or blogging are absolutely pointless if I can’t focus long enough to achieve them. This stupid mofo injury has had me down and out for the past 6 months and it has been MISERABLE. Imagine your 3 or 4 most favorite things to do in the world. Do they require eyes? ALL of mine do! Woe is me. I miss reading, I miss blogging, I miss TV, I even miss driving. Okay, I’m done bitching.

6. Create templates for my posts.

Why haven’t I thought of doing this before? There must be some form of brain damage to blame because it would save me SO MUCH TIME! And it only took me 4 years of blogging to figure this out… Sheesh.

7. Host a MASSIVE giveaway.

Thus far, I have over 50 titles to give away that I’ve been hoarding for the last year. Some are new, some used, some are signed, and some lack SKUs (ARCs), and they all need a new home. More to come…

8. Figure out what to do with signed (and personalized) editions of books I didn’t like.

It’s what I get for not being brave enough to say “signature only, please,” fearing it might hurt the author’s feelings or something. Does anyone have some suggestions? Should I include them as options in the giveaway? Help, lol.

9. Rate titles on Goodreads.

This shouldn’t take me too long. I’ve been assigning “no rating” to all my 2015 titles so I could more easily remember which ones I hadn’t reviewed. The trouble is, I’m so far behind in reviewing that it’s getting ridiculous. Also, per last year’s completed goal of “Only review the books I feel strongly about,” there are more than a handful of meh titles that probably won’t get reviewed ever. My reviewing habits have clearly changed, it’s time my Goodreads account adapted with me.

10. Continue my Read 1500 for 1 challenge.

Because I love it and because it works.

What goals do you have for 2016?

by Niki Hawkes


Top Ten Bookish Goals for 2015!

top ten tuesday Hosted by The Broke and the Bookish 

I’ve always been a person who enjoys setting and achieving goals, but have never bought in to the new year resolution thing. After all, if you want to change something about yourself, why wait until the new year? I realize there’s the whole symbolism of “new year, new you,” but I have found that if I implement the changes I want to make in small increments throughout the entire year, I always get the results I want without the added pressure of trying to do them all at once. That said, last year was the first year I declared ten bookish resolutions, and I thought it was kind of fun. Looking back I am tickled to say that I achieved five out of my ten goals from last year:

 2014 Goals Achieved:

1. Stick to my new “Read 4, Buy 1″ rule to A. Save more money and B. Enjoy the thousands of books I already own and C. Make me more selective of what I bring home.

Because of this reward system strategy, I am now incredibly conscious of what books I’m bringing home, have managed to make a sizable dent in my collection, and have reduced my book buying considerably. I love the system, but it is slightly skewed when you compare the average teen book to the average high fantasy. Basically, there’s no incentive to read anything but teen books. Going forward, I’m implementing the change Read 1500 (pages), Buy 1 instead. It’s not as catchy, but I believe in the long run it more accurately reflects effort versus reward. For the record, I ended the year having purchased just six books more than I earned – all of which were acquired this month with gift cards… Not bad!

2. Read only the books I’m most excited about, rather than the ones I feel obligated to read.

I had this epiphany in early 2013, and my life has never been the same since. Reading is so much fun without obligations, and I firmly believe that life is too short to push through books I’m not enjoying.

3. Continue streamlining my book collection, getting rid of everything I won’t read within the next ten years.

I have gotten rid of so many books that I truly feel like I achieved this goal, even though I know I still have some work left to do. I truly was getting tired of staring at books I know I’ll never read. The biggest bummer is that many of them I still need to part with are personalized… doh!

 4. Limit my Netgalley and Edelweiss requests to only the special ones, thereby furthering the intent of goal #1.

I’ve finally done it! I have weaned myself off of that terribly addicting request button and am now only requesting things occasionally. Like, one every couple of months. Throughout the beginning of the year, reading felt like a chore. Now, however, reading has never been so much fun!

5. Finish the first draft of my new novel.

Seriously – I did it! I have a long road of revision ahead of me, but I wrote this baby from start to finish. The cool thing is, I actually think I’m getting better at it. :-)

Overall, 50% isn’t bad. I’m even including a couple of last year’s goals into this year’s plan.

 Top Ten Bookish Goals for 2015!

 1. Continue my 1500 for 1 reading challenge.

 Or as I like to call it, a lifestyle choice. The only thing extra I would like to add this year is an additional goal to not get behind in my reading requirements. At one point I cashed in several cards before actually reading the books required… I blame all those Barnes & Noble coupons. Anyway, although I was able to catch back up, it did take a little of the fun out of the challenge. I highly recommend this method for anyone who wants to moderate their spending, work through the books in their personal library, and reward themselves for reading. It’s a win-win-win! 

2. Stop worrying about how many unread books are sitting on my shelves and just enjoy whatever has caught my interest at the moment.

In my 7 Deadly Book Sins post, I explained that I am a “Glutton” when it comes to books. No matter how much I’m enjoying my current read, I always have one eye on my shelves, wishing I could be reading those books too. If I could forget for just a little while how many books I want to read and focus on the amazing books that I am reading, life would be good.

3. Get rid of all the books I didn’t like.

In contrast to last year’s goal of doing away with books I won’t read within the next ten years, this goal revolves around letting go of some of my less-appealing titles. This is going to be tough, as every read book on my shelf represents a mini badge of accomplishment. It’s kind of hard to let them go, you know? I’ll never read them again, so I just can’t justify keeping them as prominently displayed alongside the awesome ones. Maybe I could sell them online and use the proceeds to buy more books…

4. Only review the books I feel strongly about. 

After all, I read enough of them to pick and choose which make it to the blog. I think I currently have somewhere around twenty unreviewed titles from last year to pick from. I used to blog on a schedule, with two reviews allocated per week, but over the last six months have taken a more casual approach. At first, it really stressed me out because I was getting further and further behind with reviews. It occurred to me the other day, however, that just because I read a book doesn’t mean it has to make it to the blog. Maybe I’ll do a couple of mini-review posts for the “meh” titles and call it a day. For the record, I’m pretty sure book reviews are the least popular posts I do… kind of ironic when you think about it.

5. Add a few more buttons to my social media task bar.

 Because it has been bugging me. Not to mention that Tumblr is where I’m seeing my biggest follower growth and I don’t have a link to it anywhere on my website. I also am way too proud of my Pinterest page to not have it represented here. I’ve been stalling for months because it’s a pain in the ass.

6. Stop being a phantom follower.

 There are at least half a dozen blogs I visit on a daily basis, but no one would ever know because I rarely leave comments. If I have commented on your blog within the last three months, there is a chance you’re one of the websites I’m stalking. Keep up the good work, and I love your content, lol.

  7. Find my voice.

 While I feel like my blogging voice is only getting stronger, my literary one is having an identity crisis. It’s hard enough to compose an entire novel (knowing what to say) without also struggling with voice (knowing how to say it). I’m on the verge, which is why I’m so serious about the writing goals I’ve set for myself this year.

 8. Write and submit a short story to WOTF.

 This was an un-achieved goal last year. I am determined to change that in 2015, and even started working on my first attempt yesterday… wish me luck!

 9. Work on a writing project every single day – even if it only a ten minute Writing Prompt.

  This is another carryover from last year, it coincides perfectly with a project I started independently of the new year resolutions – my Writing Prompt page. Inspired by a Christmas gift from my best friend, these prompts are already encouraging me to write more often.

10. Revise both of my WIP novels at least once.

 While I am finally honing in on my personal writing process, I have yet to master the art of revision. Mostly because I don’t do it very often. In any case, I’d like to practice on the novels I’ve already written and maybe even see if I can get them publish-ready.

What are your 2015 resolutions? Are any of them bookish?

by Niki Hawkes


Top Ten Bookish Goals for 2014!

Top ten Tuesday pink

Hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

 Top Ten Bookish Goals for 2014!

 Reading 1 – 5:

1. Stick to my new “Read 4, Buy 1” rule to A. Save more money and B. Enjoy the thousands of books I already own and C. Make me more selective of what I bring home.

 2. Read only the books I’m most excited about, rather than the ones I feel obligated to read.

3. Continue streamlining my book collection, getting rid of everything I won’t read within the next ten years. 

4. Stop worrying about how many books and series I have in progress and just enjoy whatever has caught my interest at the moment.

 5. Limit my Netgalley and Edelweiss requests to only the special ones, thereby furthering the intent of goal #1.

 Writing 6 – 10:

 6. Finish the first draft of my novel by January 31.

  7. Finish the final draft by March 31.

 8. Write and submit a short story for WOTF.

 9. Work on a writing project every single day – even if it only a ten minute scene outline.

 10. Start working on my current novel’s sequel (much later in the year, of course).

I’ve always been a person who enjoys setting and achieving goals, but have never had new year resolutions. I always do everything I set my mind to, but it will be interesting to see how I handle a specific timeframe. Wish me luck!

What are your 2014 resolutions? Are any of them bookish?

by Niki Hawkes