A Writer’s Bucket List

I want more than the honor of just being nominated…


I remember once sitting at the edge of my bed, staring at a crumpled rejection letter in my hand, and wondering if I’d ever get published. That was all I wanted — for the vast amount of work that went into my novels to someday be recognized. I wanted to publish a book. And it didn’t seem like it was going to happen. I wrote and read every day (and still do), but my efforts had been fruitless.

I promised myself I’d publish a book before I married, but I married first. I deeply loved the woman who became my wife and felt it unfair to make us wait for something entirely out of my control. And that’s the thing with writer goals: So many of them are beyond our control. There are no guarantees in entertainment. You just have to work — and work through the walls when you hit them.

And hope there’s something on the other side.

Eventually, I did get published, I’ve been able to keep writing books, and I’ve been in the fortunate position to see my writing improve and reach more and more readers. I’ve never reached a point where I’m comfortable as a writer — this isn’t a profession where one has the luxury to relax. So getting a book (or essay or story) accepted for publication still brings that same sense of exhilaration it did the first time.

But, as with any profession, your hopes and expectations rise. There are dreams. I have many.

I hope to someday be asked to write the introductory note to some author’s collected work. I’ve always loved those prefaces, the succinct summary and concise analysis of a writer’s life and books, the assumed honor that you’ve been asked to write this preface because you have knowledge to share.

I want to win awards. Behind closed doors, all writers whisper about the negative aspects of these contests — awards dependent on audience votes are popularity contests; awards given by smaller panels are rife with personal politics. Fair points, sure, but I’ve rarely read a winning book that didn’t deserve the honor of being placed among a group of nominees.

And I want a statue.

Not a bust, not some type of modern-art thing of dangling circles or whatever, but a STATUE. Full-size. Also, I want the awards ceremony indoors because summers in the DMV are awful.

It’d be nice to see something I wrote tattooed on someone’s skin. That happens with song lyrics and poems and Bible verses…not so much with crime fiction. But it’d be a wonderful honor. Maybe someone could tattoo that statue paragraph above on their back. I don’t ask for much.

Anyway, those are some of my secret journal entries. I asked a few writers with books out or coming out soon about their dreams. Check out their responses and order their books! You’re helping to make a dream come true.

Mia P. Manansala, author of the forthcoming Homicide and Halo-Halo:

Getting a book published by a Big Five publisher already checked off two things on my bucket list, and I've been lucky enough to check off a few more, such as being a Book of the Month pick and receiving fan art. However, I love making lists and I love dreaming big, so I'd also like to:

  • Publish an MG series centered around Filipino mythology (“Rick Riordan Presents,” hit me up!).
  • Have a book candle made for at least one of my books/characters (I’m OBSESSED with candles).
  • Get nominated for every major mystery/crime-fic-related award and win at least one of them.
  • Have one of my books turned into a film or TV series.
  • Write full time comfortably.
  • Hit the New York Times and USA Today lists.
  • Be a Reese’s Book Club pick.
  • Be someone's favorite author.

Eliza Nellums, author of the forthcoming The Bone Cay:

My bucket-list goal is to be on NPR. I've spent so many hours driving — I used to have a job where I crisscrossed the Chesapeake Bay — and listening to their coverage of arts and culture. If someday one of my books was featured, or God forbid, even I myself got to do an interview, I'd probably die right there live on the air. The most exciting opportunities to me are ones that could reach beyond the folks who are already “book people” and find them where they live: maybe stuck in traffic, or stopping for gas after a long day, or crossing the Bay Bridge on a foggy morning. That's where I want to meet people.

Lori Rader-Day, author of the forthcoming Death at Greenway:

Beyond the obvious goals of bestseller lists and riches untold, I have a few. I've achieved some of them: book sold at an airport, book sold at Target (I bought a copy there; I had to!), Edgar Award nomination, meeting some of my writing heroes (Mary Higgins Clark, Lois Duncan, Judy Blume), giving a keynote speech, and serving as national president of Sisters in Crime (I thought it would be further down the road). I still want to hear my book talked about on NPR, speak at an international crime-fic conference, and write enough short stories to have a story collection. I am nothing if not ambitious, right? Some goals are out of my control, so I have to concentrate on the ones that I can make happen.

Lisa Regan, author of the recently released Her Deadly Touch:

I have an idea for a historical thriller I'd love to write one day. I'd also love to develop and write a fantasy series, not even necessarily for publication but just for fun. I would love to read all the books on my TBR [stack]. I'd also love to establish some kind of scholarship in the name of my late father. He didn't write or even read much, but he always appreciated great storytelling and he was so proud that he had raised a writer. 

E.A. Aymar’s latest novel, written as E.A. Barres, is They’re Gone.

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