Category Archives: channeling success

Fall Resolutions, Part 2

Moonday Mania

a blog for the resolutionist in all of us

Last week I got to tell all of you why I am making Fall Resolutions and I whine, whine, whined. If you missed it, click HERE.

This week I get to make them. YAY!

Jessica Aspen’s Fall Resolutions

  1. Write more
  2. Protect the writing time
  3. Schedule, schedule, schedule
  4. Say no
  5. Say no again, and again, and again
  6. Review the goals from January and get crackin’!
  7. Tape a picture of Stephen King on the wall and know, he’s gonna getcha if you fail (Miss my scary Stephen King blog? Click HERE to check it out.)
  8. When all else fails, leave the house and go to the library
  9. When they kick you out at 6pm, go to the coffee shop
  10. When they kick you out at 8pm, go to that 24 hour restaurant by the highway, but get that word count done!

As you can see this boils down to just one resolution. WRITE, and make writing the priority when organizing my life.

In support of that I’m making a few changes to my daily schedule.

  1. Moving my mundane work schedule around so that I have Wednesdays and Fridays as dedicated writing days.
  2. Get all my blogs written and pre-posted on weekend days, leaving the week days for writing and boosting posts.
  3. Work ahead for marketing, blogging, and guest blogging.
  4. Thursdays have become a crazy day for me so after this week’s Paranormal Book Trailer post on Thursdays Bite I’m going to switch my paranormal posts to Fantastic Fridays and stop blogging on Thursdays. That’s going to let me focus on all the non-writing stuff on Thursdays, so that on Fridays I can focus on all the writing stuff.
  5. Work on my blogs on the weekend when the family is underfoot. I know, I’m a wuss. But I like quiet to write and the weekend is not it. But I can do other things, like write a blog, when it’s not so quiet. All I have to do is resist the lure of having fun with the family. I can do that, right?
  6. Get out of the house when I need to. (Okay, that was up in the resolutions, but it’s one of the most difficult for me to do, so I’m putting it in twice!)

What are your Fall Resolutions? Do you ever go back and read through your yearly goals and see how far you’ve come? What motivates you to get back on track when there are only a few months in the year left to get it all done?

 

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Jessica Aspen

Author Bio:

Jessica Aspen has always wanted to be spirited away to a world inhabited by elves, were-wolves and sexy men who walk on the dark side of the knife. Luckily, she’s able to explore her fantasy side and delve into new worlds by writing paranormal romance. She loves indulging in dark chocolate, reading eclectic novels, and dreaming of ocean vacations, but instead spends most of her time, writing, walking the dog, and hiking in the Colorado Rockies. You can find out more information and read about Jessica’s paranormal romances at http://JessicaAspen.com

To sign up for Jessica Aspen’s new release email please go to: http://eepurl.com/zs4Sj

 

Author web links:  

Website: https://jessicaaspen.com

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5759763.Jessica_Aspen

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JessicaAspen

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JessicaAspenAuthor

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/jessicaaspen/

Join the Jessica Aspen mailing list! Get the scoop on new releases, sales, plus the chance to win ARCs and participate in special giveaways.  When I send you an email, there’s always something in it for you! http://eepurl.com/zs4Sj

 

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Filed under About the Author, channeling success, Goal Setting, Moonday mania, Writer's Journey

Fall Resolutions, Part – The Whine

Moonday Mania

a blog based in my reality

Before I dive into Jessica Aspen Writes I want to dive into the news.

ghosts of christmas past by jessica aspenGhosts of Christmas Past, my contemporary Gothic romance is now available on all channels: Amazon,  Barnes and Noble, IbooksAllRomanceEbooks and Kobo The ghosts make it perfect for Fall and Halloween reading as well as Christmas. And of course it’s a romance, so give it a go.

I’m planning a birthday party for The Dark Huntsman, A Fantasy Romance of the Black Court. I love Fall and Halloween is one of my favorite holidays, so the month of October will be filled with special tricks and treats and birthday celebrations for my first fantasy romance.

Now on to the blog!

WARNING: This is the whiny blog. If you want the actual resolutions, tune in next week where I tell you what I plan to do about changing my mindset and my schedule.

My new year starts in the Fall. It always has. School starts in Fall and from the time I was a child, that’s when the year shifted. Yeah, we have the big party in January, but that is such an artificial time to start the new year that it’s never felt right. I have fun in January. I even re-set my goals and participate in the whole New Year’s Resolution things. (You can check out my January Goals Post HERE.) But both my gut and my heart say the new year starts in the Fall.

This year, more than ever, I’m looking forward to school starting and having the house to myself. As I travel the path of becoming an author, (yes, six books out and I still feel like I’m in the becoming stage) I find that every day, week, and month my goals and life change. When my kids were in school and I wasn’t working my current job, I could write! I was so productive. Two thousand, three thousand words a day poured out of my brain and into my laptop. I edited and polished and produced. And then this year I changed jobs and summer hit.

Yikes!

My kids aren’t little, but they are super distracting, and my new job happens almost every day. EVERY DAY! I know, I know, the rest of you are thinking I’m crazy. (I did warn you this was the whiny blog, didn’t I?) Other writers get up at five in the morning or are typing long after everyone has gone to bed. Well, I can’t do that. At least not the writing at night thing. I fall asleep on the couch between 8 and 9 pm, most nights. My husband is always waking me up to send me to bed and my brain is mush.

Okay, then there is the writing in the early morning thing—before work. My brain takes time and coffee to wake up so I’ve been doing other work at 5 in the morning. Like writing blogs. A little caffeine and a fantastic spell-check and I can write non-fiction. I can even edit other people’s fiction, but create my own? That takes me being a more awake, a lot more sunshine.and way more coffee.

So this year my Fall will be a true New Year. I’ll be re-immersing myself in writing after a ton of editing last year and a summer spent reacting to everyone else’s needs. This fall I will be putting writing first and tell everyone else to go away. This year, I’ll be the no excuses writer. The one who I read about who says they write 8 hours a day and don’t let anyone or anything stop them!

Because I’m not giving up. No way. No how.

What happens to you when you have one of those seasons that takes away from what you really want to do? Does the whiner in you come out? Are you like me and whine, have the pity party, then pull up the big girl boots and move on to the work?

Author Bio:

jessica aspen, authorJessica Aspen has always wanted to be spirited away to a world inhabited by elves, were-wolves and sexy men who walk on the dark side of the knife. Luckily, she’s able to explore her fantasy side and delve into new worlds by writing paranormal romance. She loves indulging in dark chocolate, reading eclectic novels, and dreaming of ocean vacations, but instead spends most of her time, writing, walking the dog, and hiking in the Colorado Rockies. You can find out more information and read about Jessica’s paranormal romances at http://JessicaAspen.com

To sign up for Jessica Aspen’s new release email please go to: http://eepurl.com/zs4Sj

 

Author web links:  

Website: http://jessicaaspen.com

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5759763.Jessica_Aspen

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JessicaAspen

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JessicaAspenAuthor

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/jessicaaspen/

Join the Jessica Aspen mailing list! Get the scoop on new releases, sales, plus the chance to win ARCs and participate in special giveaways.  When I send you an email, there’s always something in it for you! http://eepurl.com/zs4Sj

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Filed under channeling success, facing failure, Moonday mania, Writer's Journey, writing organization

Stephen King, the threat that hangs over all writers

Thursdays Bite

a blog about the horror of writing

I’ve started writing ghost stories. Gothic romances of vulnerable heroines, desperate heroes, and scary haunted ghosts. I have an extensive reading background in Gothic romance and I love it, so it’s easy for me to create the spooky house, the dark and stormy night, and the hero who might be a threat.

What isn’t so easy for me was writing the ghost. But luckily I have my own ghost lurking behind me, Stephen King. Not that my little haunted holiday romance is anything like Stephen King’s writing. It’s not. Not at all. Don’t pick it up thinking it is. But more to the point, Stephen King is what scares me.

cujo by stephen kingI’m so terrified of him that I’ve never even read one of his fiction books. Just the idea of reading Cujo or Pet Cemetery makes my palms tingle and my knees weak. I know I won’t sleep. I know I’ll be afraid to even turn off the light.

That’s the kind of writer I want to be. Someone who has mastered his craft so well that even the thought of reading their books brings up emotion. I have read Stephen King’s book On Writing. And that was scary enough. I know have Stephen haunting me. Lurking behind me if I don’t write with dark looks, waving a judgmental finger at me. Saying, “You didn’t write today? For shame!”

When I first read On Writing and realized that Stephen King did not consider you a real writer, a serious writer, unless you wrote everyday, I nearly gave up. There was no way with a job, two small children, and a house to run, that I was going to be able to write every day. I needed time to focus. Time to work without someone needing me. Time to write.

But I didn’t give up. I faced the specter of Stephen King’s dire warnings about not writing and I did my best. I wrote slowly during those days. If I hit 500 words when I wrote, that was a good day, and if I wrote three days a week, that was a good week. But still he haunted me.

Even now I can feel him standing behind me. Why are you wasting time blogging? Why aren’t you writing the book? What are you scared of?

Um, you.

I am scared of not writing. Scared of writing. What if it’s not good? What if they hate it? What if I fail?

Stephen moves in closer. I can feel him nearly touching me. So what?

So write.

Even though I’m scared, the ghost of Stephen King is right. None of that matters. What matters in the end is the wordcount. How many words got down on the page. In the long run, that’s all I’ll see as my success or failure.

Who is your motivator? What ghosts do you have lurking behind you  driving you to succeed?

Happy dancing! Ghosts of Christmas Past recieved two five star reviews this week! WOOT! You can read Patricia Statham’s review at Books To Curl Up With or you can check out the five stars that Kathy left on Amazon or Goodreads.

And don’t forget, Ghosts of Christmas Past is only on sale through the end of August. Get your holiday read for 99 cents today!

Available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Ibooks and AllRomance E-books

Author Bio:

jessica aspen, authorJessica Aspen has always wanted to be spirited away to a world inhabited by elves, were-wolves and sexy men who walk on the dark side of the knife. Luckily, she’s able to explore her fantasy side and delve into new worlds by writing paranormal romance. She loves indulging in dark chocolate, reading eclectic novels, and dreaming of ocean vacations, but instead spends most of her time, writing, walking the dog, and hiking in the Colorado Rockies. You can find out more information and read about Jessica’s paranormal romances at http://JessicaAspen.com

To sign up for Jessica Aspen’s new release email please go to: http://eepurl.com/zs4Sj

 

Author web links:  

Website: http://jessicaaspen.com

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5759763.Jessica_Aspen

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JessicaAspen

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JessicaAspenAuthor

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/jessicaaspen/

Join the Jessica Aspen mailing list! Get the scoop on new releases, sales, plus the chance to win ARCs and participate in special giveaways.  When I send you an email, there’s always something in it for you! http://eepurl.com/zs4Sj

 

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Filed under About the Author, channeling success, facing failure, ghosts, Ghosts of Christmas Past, paranormal inspiration, Thursdays Bite, Writer's Journey

Why I Love Volunteering at Romance Writing Cons

Moonday Mania

a blog about writing

There is nothing like going to a convention for something you love to do. If you write romance, RWA Nationals is the place to be in July. (Although, maybe not San Antonio in July. Whew, was it hot!) Famous romance writers from all over were there. If you are a fan girl and collapse at the sight of your authors, you would be rubbernecking all day and into the night.

Luckily, I was too busy to catch many of the biggies, but I did see a few. And I got to network with a few too. Nice!

san antonio riverwalk at night

San Antonio Riverwalk at night. Photo courtesy of ML Guida

How did I make that happen? Well, like most good things, it was an accident. Okay, it was the result of planning to do something else and it was an unexpected side benefit. You see, I volunteer at RWA and this year I did two different activities, both of which turned out to be terrific networking opps where I met amazing authors and book business people, as well as terrific volunteers and other RWA members.

The first event was the PRO Retreat. Now, if you are not an RWA member you may not know that our organization is divided into PAN (Published Author Network), PRO (Getting there, maybe published but haven’t hit the threshold for PAN yet), and everyone else (haven’t finished a manuscript, or been brave enough to submit it to a publisher or publish it yourself). I’m in PRO and I may be there for a very long time, due to the way PAN membership is tiered. And that’s fine with me. The PROs are a cool group of motivated people. We include many indie-published and small press published authors as well as those who aren’t published yet, but are serious about getting there. PRO’s rock!

This was the first year we had a round-table event and since I’m on the PRO Steering Committee, I got to help out! That meant I got to contact romance authors, romance cover artists, and romance marketing people and invite them to come to our event. It also meant I got to talk to almost all of our speakers, at least once. How cool is that?

The other volunteering position I did was at the front desk. Basically, anyone with a question or a problem showed up at the desk. Lots of authors with lost items, people confused about which building the pitch appointments were in, and just general questions. I not only got to meet all those authors and RWA members, but I also got to hang out with some cool volunteers and meet some of our dedicated office staff. We never get to talk to the behind the scenes people, so it was very interesting to meet the women who put on this event year after year and keep RWA moving forward.

If you have something that you do that you love, find a convention and go enjoy yourself. But when you do, consider the benefits of helping out at the convention. Yes, it takes time away from all the amazing workshops. Yes, I missed a few things that I would have loved to go to. But it’s more likely that I would have found myself burnt out from sitting and learning and spent Friday afternoon in the bar!

In case you missed it, my new venture into modern Gothic romance is out! 

Contemporary Love Stories with a Gothic twist.

ghosts of christmas past by jessica aspenLook for Ghosts of Christmas Past on sale for 99 cents! August 2014

 

Ghosts of Christmas Past

A Haunted Holidays Novel

Jen MacNamara flees the Christmas wedding of her best friend and cheating fiancé and runs to the country to spend the holiday alone. It’s the perfect plan, until her unexpectedly sexy neighbor and landlord, Nate Pierce, insists on bringing the holiday to her—complete with a Christmas tree, hot chocolate, and an unexpected kiss. 

And that’s not Jen’s only problem.

 The cozy country farmhouse is already occupied by something evil. Now Jen’s nights are spent wrapped in sensual dreams of a past life, and her days growing closer to Nate as they solve the mystery of the malevolent ghost that haunts not only the house, but also wants Jen dead.

 Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Ibooks, AllRomanceEbooks

Introductory price of 99cents! Goes up to $2.99  September 1st, 2014

Join my new release newsletter for early information on specials and new releases! Click HERE to sign up.

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Recognizing Resistance

Moonday Mania

a blog for those of us who get off track

Hello! Last Moonday Mania I told you how badly I needed to reorganize my writing life. How I’d life and work had pushed me off track. And I promised this week to tell you how I’ve gotten back on the writing track. If you missed that post, you can check it out HERE.

the war of art by steven pressfieldIt hasn’t been easy. Like everyone else I let things distract me. Work. Kids. Life. But the worst distraction is resistance. If you’ve read The War of Art by Steven Pressfield, you know what I’m talking about. (I did a post on The War of Art a few years ago, HERE) Resistance is that thing you do to yourself whenever you come up with excuses why you shouldn’t be working.

Here are some of my latest:

  1. My family, house, parents need me.
  2. I don’t have enough time to do a good job.
  3. I need to be by myself, at my special spot, with my particular cup of deliciousness…and the sun needs to be just right.

Some of that is true. Okay, it’s all true some of the time, but some of these things are just roadblocks I put up so that I don’t sit down at the computer and work. And the way I normally get around these roadblocks is that I have a schedule. Here’s my typical week-day schedule before the new job and when the kids are in school.

  • 5am -Get up, make coffee, sit at computer and try to wake up while dealing with emails and social media
  • 7am-Get dressed, make husband lunch, eat breakfast
  • 8am-10 walk dog, take shower, get small things done around house.
  • 10am-3pm write (This includes my 45 minutes on computer and 15 minute breaks to move around, as well as a break for lunch)

After that, kids get home and I change gears. This has been a terrific schedule for me. I get a lot of writing done and I am able to exercise, pay attention to my kids and the dog, and I have the afternoon for doctor’s appointments, grocery shopping, or whatever I need to do.

But now I’m working in the mornings. And the kids are home for the summer. And it’s all gone to hell.

Do I have reasonable excuses for not getting the writing done? Yes, I do. I’m a smart person and I want to write. But writing is hard. It’s full of self-doubt and editing and those moments where I stare at the screen and think “What in the world comes next?”

Writing, for me, is best done between 10 and 3, by myself, at my tiny portable TV table in front of my back window where I can see nature and the sky and no one bothers me because the house is empty.

But that’s not my reality this summer.

Reality is two crabby teen-agers who get moving right around the time I want to get to work. Who ask me questions and make noise and want me to drive them places. Reality is the job that I’ve taken on that gets me home most days around noon, so I have to have lunch and time to recover. Right? And at that point it’s nearly 1pm and I’m tired and don’t want to start working at the book. Besides, the dog missed her walk and I have things to do.

You get the point.

My job isn’t that hard, and it’s not full-time. I have plenty of time and energy when I get home.

My kids are big, they can fend for themselves.

My things to do can all be reshuffled. Including the dog.

So, the first thing you need to do to resist resistance is to recognize it. Recognize that my objections are not insurmountable. I have time. I have hours in the afternoon. I have a way to get the dog walked, the house cleaned, and the teen-agers entertained. It’s called: get them to do the work. Get them out of the house, or get me out of the house. That only leaves me with one excuse.

Me.

After I come home from work I don’t want to start writing so I come up with all kinds of reasons not to. But they are all just excuses. So how do I get around my resistance once I’ve recognized it?

Next week I’ll let you in on my resistance secret. The way that I have encouraged myself to stop sandbagging and to get back to writing.

Oh, and Camp NaNoWriMo starts July 1st! I’ll be majorly writing then and you can join me! I’ll have some details on Camp NaNo next week as well.

Do you have resistance? Have you read The War of Art? What about Steven Pressfield’s Turning Pro? Want to listen to Steven talk about resistance…check out Joanna Penn’s interview HERE

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Filed under channeling success, Goal Setting, Moonday mania, Writer's Journey

Reorganizing the Romance Writer

Moonday Mania

a blog for the writer in all of us

Pug

As many of you know I am a killer goal setter. I set up those pins and knock ’em down in record order. Or I don’t. Because life hops in between my goal-smashing bowling ball and my goals. Recently, my life got in the way again when I changed the way I work at my mundane job. For the last several years I’ve worked a temporary job in the spring and fall. It’s forty hours a week, but it would be for a week, then I’d have a few days off. Then it would go for three weeks, with another week off. Etc.

This would last from March through July and I would be free from July until November (Woot! Romance writing time!) when I would work for an additional six weeks and be free until the following March. It was like taking a part-time job and squishing it all into a few months a year. It gave me the freedom to only focus on writing during the off months. It also was very stressful and had a decent commute. When I was working, I couldn’t do any writing because my free time was spent catching up on the rest of life. Taking care of the house, kids, dog, and my aging parents. Trying to squeeze in exercise and pay some attention to my poor husband.

It was also a very tiring job. I sat at a computer all day and by the time I got home I was so tired of sitting and staring at a screen that writing was a chore. Hence the joy of the months when I wasn’t working and was able to write, write, write.

But I’ve switched gears now. I now am working a part-time job that has regular hours. Mostly. I work in the mornings 3-4 days a week. It’s stocking greeting cards, so there is no sitting and no staring at the computer. Yay!

Overall I enjoy it very much, but the downside is I’m working nearly every weekday. And I thought, oh, that’s easy. I’ll work in the morning and write in the afternoons. Right?

Wrong.

It turns out I’m tired in the afternoons. I come home, have lunch, and fall asleep. Then it’s 2pm and the day has flown by. Oh, and my kids are home for summer vacation. Which means that I have constant distractions at home. They’re older, so they can get by without me. But it is way more difficult than it should be.

Regardless of all my excuses I’ve realized I need to re-order my thinking. This week I’ll be focusing on changing my attitude (and getting more sleep at night!). I’ll be detailing next Moonday how I do this, so stay tuned for a new Jessica, a new schedule, and a new attitude!

What throws you for a loop in your life? Do schedule or life changes take a month or two to figure out? Or are you super flexible and able to adjust?

Photo courtesy of Jenny Kaczorowski via Flickr Wana Commons, Creative Commons License

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Filed under channeling success, Goal Setting, Moonday mania

Three Reasons Why I Love Monday

Moonday Mania

a blog about monday

 

I think we’re seeing in working mothers a change from “Thank God it’s Friday” to “Thank God it’s Monday.” If any working mother has not experienced that feeling, her children are not adolescent.” Ann Diel

greenwoman on jessica aspen writesI love Mondays. Why? Because everyone leaves the house and I get to work writing my paranormal romances! Or edit my fantasy romances. Or work on the multitude of other tasks that go along with being a writer.

I’m very lucky because I get to work my day job part time, and that means the rest of the time I get to write romance, but that also means that I’m squeezing my writing into the small hours between the job and when everyone else gets home. That means I need to be efficient. Here are my working day rules and the reasons why I love Mondays.

1. Have a schedule and stay on it

If I don’t have a rigid schedule for what I’m doing then other things eat up my writing time. I can fix dinner, mop the floor, or run errands when the kids are home from school. Or I can do that stuff on the weekends. But I’ve found that writing is best done when I’m by myself with no one else around. Do I write when the kids are home on spring break, or sick? Sure. But I get much less done on those days. And I have to say, when writing a sexy love scene, those kids should not be home! So on the days when I’m by myself, writing is king.

2. Take breaks

I set my timer for forty-five minutes and write. No stopping. Then I set my timer for fifteen minutes and take a break. I get up from the computer and move. Sometimes I do some exercises, most of the time I get housecleaning done. This means that I am not sitting for too much at a stretch and it means that those forty-five minutes are very productive. Plus, if there is something that is not romance oriented that I really find is nagging at me and distracting me from said hot, love scene, say…cleaning the bathroom, I can get that done in my fifteen minute break and it’s off my list. Then I’m back to focusing on my sizzling romance.

3. Keep the writing days sacred

This is something I’ve struggled with. I now have one day a week (currently it’s Thursdays) where I don’t write and I don’t have kids or a husband at home. That’s the day I go for coffee with friends, run errands, make phone calls, go to the grocery. You name it, if it has to be done during the week it’s on Thursday. Making that simple change has upped my productivity by an amazing amount. No longer are my writing days broken up by appointments or driving somewhere. They are all for writing. And this way I have taken care of my guilt. The guilt of not writing. The guilt of not seeing my friends. The guilt of there being no food in the house. All because of Thursdays!

Do you love Mondays? Why or why not? What do you do that helps you with your writing time, or whatever it is that you do that isn’t about taking care of the house or family or pets? Do you make time for your pleasures?

I had such a tough time picking a quote for today, and there were so many good ones. Check out http://www.pinterest.com/explore/funny-monday-quotes/ and find some great pins about Mondays!

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Filed under About the Author, channeling success, Goal Setting, Moonday mania, Writer's Journey

Goals, Goals, Goals

Moonday Mania

a blog for picking yourself up and starting over

It’s been awhile since I addressed goals. I used to have a huge list of goals, take classes, market, improve the blog, but then Fall of 2013 was so stressful my body just gave in. Now I’m recovering from that and as a result, I’m honed in on the most important goal, getting Prince by Blood and Bone, A Fantasy Romance of the Black Court out the door.

Because the fall was so difficult, and then I didn’t feel well, everything became delayed. I was supposed to get my Christmas novella edited in the fall, that got pushed back. I was supposed to outline Broken Mirror, and that’s been pushed back. At first I was devastated.

These were my goals. I’d given myself plenty of time. I should be able to get them done. Or at least get one of them done. But as sub-contractors didn’t get things to me on time, and then the day job blew up, and other events took precedence, I began to realize: the universe was sending me a message.

And I had better listen.

So I am refocused. My goals have slimmed down for the year.

Number one, Prince by Blood and Bone.

Number two, write Broken Mirror.

And number three, get the Ghosts of Christmas Past out the door.

That’s it. From a huge page long list of goals I’ve winnowed it down to the basics. And I truly believe I can get all three of these done. Prince by Blood and Bone will be off to the proofreader this week. Cover is finished! YAY! And once I do the corrections I can get it published.

I’ve got a cover artist lined up for Ghosts of Christmas Past, all I need to do is polish up the blurb and send it to her, and I will have a cover. The book itself is in the last stages of re-writing, from there it needs to go to line- edits, then the proofreader, and then it too will be ready for publishing.

So that leaves Broken Mirror. My poor neglected book that should have been in edits by now and has instead been waiting impatiently to be written. Plan is to outline it this month, and then get started writing. Of course I have the day job coming up, and a few other things, but I believe that by the end of the summer it should be written, and ready for some edits. So that puts it on track for publishing in early 2015. If I get it done sooner, so much the better, but I’m not setting myself up for failure this time.

Who knows what the coming year has to bring? Who knows if I’ll get the book back on time from others when I send it out, or if the cover will be as difficult as the last two covers for The Black Court series? Who knows if my life will stay on track?

What I do know is no matter what happens I will do my best to stay the course, even if it means re-working my goals on a daily basis. Because they are my goals. I get to tweak them, I get to decide what works for me. And that’s one of the benefits of being a writer. And one of the pitfalls.

How have your goals been this year? Are you on track? Have you ever had to scrap everything and start over? Was it difficult?

I’m guest blogging today on When Paleo Met Sally about my Journey to Paleo. Check it out HERE.

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Filed under channeling success, facing failure, Goal Setting, Writer's Journey

Five Things to Remember When Reading Your Book Aloud

Moonday Mania

just a random blog

Hi all! I’ve had some questions on Prince by Blood and Bone, A Fantasy Romance of the Black Court and yes, it is nearly ready! I’m so excited to tell you that I think I should be in possession of a cover any day now. Really, very soon. Okay, maybe by next week. It’s been like pulling teeth to get this book to market. The cover has been a challenge and I’ve learned a lot of dos and don’ts in how-to do a series of covers. The next one I’ll get all my covers done at the same time, so I’ll have them ready on time and they will go together. Finding images to compete with the amazing cover for The Dark Huntsman is a challenge!

Speaking of The Dark Huntsman, thank you to everyone who voted for it in the JABBIC contest. I’m pretty excited to see how it does. I think the cover competes very well but it’s tough being so far down on the list. I nearly gave up with all the scrolling through 80+ entries. Thank you to everyone who persevered and got through the whole list of paranormal entries. Whew!

I do have a blog topic today. Of course. So let’s get to it!

Have you ever sat in front of twenty, thirty, fifty people and read your work out loud? I think every author should try it, at least once or twice. Last month I had the pleasure (um, gulp!) of reading a section of my book out loud to my chapter members. I’ve done this before, but I have to tell you it never gets easy. And each time I’ve learned something different, so I thought I would share my thoughts on how to read-aloud.

1. Don’t necessarily choose the first chapter of your book.

I did this both times, and while I feel like the first chapter is good for an introduction, it may not be the best section to read aloud. Don’t get me wrong, it might be the best section, but it might have a bit of introduction that the book needs, but isn’t the best for a read aloud. Pick a section that is very intense and will catch the audience. Hopefully this is the first chapter, but first chapters sometimes have a lot of scene building, and that isn’t as exciting for a read-aloud, especially if you have less than ten minutes. Choose a very exciting passage, one that might take a little verbal explanation for the audience, but has them hopping out of their chairs.

And target your section to your audience. I read aloud the first section of Prince by Blood and Bone, which is very exciting, but it is full of fantasy elements. This was a group of romance readers and writers and some of them are focused only on the contemporary genre. They get speed-bumped by magic and attacking ogres. I would have been better off choosing a love scene with heat and tension between the couple. Different audience, different choices.

2. Do chose your section ahead of time and practice

The other times I’ve read aloud I had the time to sit down and go through the pages, figure out what I wanted to read, and practice reading it out loud. Last month I didn’t. I had to grab my book, sit down and read cold. It made a huge difference. I found myself self-editing as I read and that didn’t make for as smooth a transition as it could have. I wanted to cut things, and re-arrange them, and it made me stumble as I read. If I’d taken the time to choose the section first, I might have chosen a different one. One that read aloud a little more smoothly.

Choose a passage that has action and dialogue, and isn’t packed with internalization, back story, or scene description. Unless one of those is incredibly compelling and packed with tension, you will lose your audience fast.

One note: some of the words in your passage you might be comfortable with using, you know what they mean and you use them correctly in a sentence, but when reading them out loud, you might not be able to pronounce them! Tripping over words or passages is better discovered in the privacy of your own bathroom, um living room. (Okay, you read out loud where you want to, and I’ll read out loud where I want to.)

3. Practice

This one is so important, I am putting it in twice. You need to know how you read and how long it will take you to read what you’ve chosen out loud. Practice slowing down. Most of us read twice as fast in a real read-aloud situation, so be sure to account for that in your timing.You need to make sure you can pronounce all the words, and you need to make sure nothing in the passage is a speedbump. In other words, if you have some illicit words that you can type with impunity, but you can’t read out loud in front of a group without stumbling and blushing, you’d best figure that out at home!

Practice your cadence. Figure out where you want to add emphasis to words and what spots might be good for pausing and looking up. Try out voices for dialogue. That may not work for you, but it could be the thing that makes your reading stand out.

(If you have time, it’s good to video yourself reading out loud. You will learn a lot about habits you have, such as coughing, pausing, or reading too fast. Do it live, because we read very differently in front of an audience than at home in front of the mirror.)

4. Lay out your clothes ahead of time

20140210-074140.jpgThis is good advice for anything you are doing that might make you nervous. Interviews, read-alouds, dates. Take the time to vet your outfit. Try it in different positions and make sure it is comfortable as well as stylish. The very first time I read aloud I chose a lovely modest, cover your knees, pink skirt. At least I thought it was modest. Imagine my surprise when I went to sit down and cross my legs and felt a small draft. It was modest standing up, but sitting down slightly above my audience made it a little more risqué than I truly appreciated. I spent a lot of time worrying about that(tugging it down, shifting positions) when I should have been focusing on my reading!

(At least the shoes look good!)

5. Seed the audience

If you can, make sure you have some friendly faces to look at. Part of your practicing reading should be to look up every so often and make eye contact with your audience. This is much easier if you have made sure you have someone you know at each triangular point. In other words, if the room is like a clock face and you are at 12 o’clock, place a friendly face at 3, 6, and 9. This way you have a target face to glance up at. They will be smiling at you, and nodding encouragement, instead of those horrible blank expressions it’s likely the rest of the audience has plastered on their faces.

Reading your own work can be a challenge. I think it’s important, as an author, to try it out. For your first read-aloud experience you might try reading someone else’s work out loud, that way you will only be nervous about the reading part, and not the actual “OMG, I’m presenting my baby on a plate to wolves!” Because that’s what it feels like. For me, I think it’s worse than sending books out on submission, because you can see in their faces if they are bored or intrigued.

What if it doesn’t go right? What if it’s a bomb?

The odds of your first read aloud going the way you want it to are slim. Do it anyway. Do it because you might garner a few fans. Do it because it’s a challenge. Do it because it’s good to get to know your work in a different way. Just do it.

What challenges have you faced in front of an audience? Have you ever read your own work out loud? Had a wardrobe malfunction? Been reading and realized mid-stream that you’d failed to target your audience? Share with me in the comments, I love to hear from you!

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Filed under About the Author, channeling success, facing failure, Moonday mania, Writer's Journey

Jessica Aspen’s 2014 Goals

Moonday Mania

a blog for the future!

It’s January, and usually I start talking about my goals for my romance books in December, but December 2013 was all about getting The Dark Huntsman, A Fantasy Romance of the Black Court, out to readers. During December I had blog tours, sales, even a Facebook Round Robin, all in the name of promoting fantasy romance to the masses. Such is the job of a romance author during the holidays. 🙂

Now it’s January and I’m posting my goals.

First of all, I should check in with last year’s goals. They were massive, my goal was to dream big. I knew even when I set them that I wasn’t likely to achieve them all, but I did pretty well. Here they are!

Jessica Aspen Goals for 2013

Overall Organizational Goals: 

  1. Continue to set and review monthly goals, set daily goals based on monthly goals DONE
  2. Write five days per week, 3 hours per day DONE to my satisfaction for the first part of the year(when I wasn’t working the day job and when I was focused on writing)
  3. Goal is 3k/day didn’t always hit this one
  4. and edit 15-20 pages per day fell off at the end of the year due to floods, jury duty, and misc OPPs!
  5. Keep up with personal site, blog 2 days a week DONE
  6. Self-publishing class in January (taking a fabulous class on Author EMS with  Amy Atwell and Kelli Finger!) DONE
  7. Tax class in February from Colorado Romance WritersDONE
  8. Market 1-2 hours per day DONE
  9. Attend CRW Writing Retreat in September Changed my mind and attended Hot Mojave Knights instead!

goldi and the bear by jessica aspenWriting Goals

  1. Finish editing Goldi and the Bear by January 18th DONE
  2. Polish Goldi and the Bear  by January 30th DONE, A few days later, but done!
  3. Write rough draft of B&B (second book in TQH series) DONE
  4. Edit rough draft of B&B DONE
  5. Start thinking about 3rd book in  TQH series started, but really pushed off until 2014
  6. Outline 3rd book in TQH series NOT DONE
  7. Superhero goals: Edit BW and outline first book in that series pushed off until 2014 or 2015

Marketing Goals 

  1. Submit Goldi and the Bear to PIP by January 30 DONE
  2. Decide what to do with HH Novellas Oh, this is so sad, but I did write one and it is so close to publishing it almost hurts! It will get out in 2014!
  3. Continue to submit TQH DONE This one is very interesting. It was nearly under contract, but I decided to publish it myself instead and it is now The Dark Huntsman and is doing great!the dark huntsman by jessica aspen
  4. Market all books (Little Red. S&S. GoldiDONE
  5. Enter Little Red in  contests DONE And Red finaled in the Golden Quill and received an Honorable Mention in the Holt Medallion contest. WOOT!
  6. Enter TQH into contests ENTERED IN 2014 SEVERAL CONTESTS.
  7. Increase presence on Goodreads Didn’t do much for this. Did have a Goodreads Giveaway!
  8. Work on All Romance Exposure nope
  9. Figure out how to increase presence on reader sites/loops ???

Now on to this year!

I’ve decided to simplify my goals. Write down some big goals and then every month see how I can achieve them by splitting them into steps. So here goes!

Overall Goals for 2014

  1. Publish two books in Tales of the Black Court Series (Prince by Blood and Bone-end of Jan, Mirror-summer 2014)
  2. Publish Christmas story (First of Haunted Holiday Novellas)  (goal is Christmas in July)
  3. Publish on more formats
  4. Be making enough money by the end of 2014 to cover my writing expenses
  5. Continue to hone marketing techniques.
  6. Remember balance
  7. Work on writing on a schedule
  8. Come up with a plan for other books/series: What is my next step? Either start writing Tales of the Winter Court, focus on Haunted Holiday novellas, or write other Shifter books
  9. Work on writing/spending time more efficiently

That’s it! Last year was all about DREAM BIG! I set a lot of goals and worked hard to achieve them. I knew when I set them that I wouldn’t hit them all, but I actually did quite a bit. Last year I had two novellas from Passion in Print published Snow and the Seventh Wolf and Goldi and the Bear…and I published The Dark Huntsman on my own.Snow and the Seventh Wolf by Jessica Aspen

This year is all about EFFICIENCY. How do I set a few big goals and achieve them by achieving little goals. Be flexible and re-evaluate frequently. Be light on my feet. Be a butterfly stinging!

How are your goals looking? Did you achieve the important things this year? What changes will you be making for 2014? What goals are you setting? Personal and professional? I’d love to hear! Leave me a comment and tell me your goals.

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Filed under About the Author, channeling success, Goal Setting, Moonday mania, Writer's Journey