Tag Archives: motivation

New to the Rodeo

Moonday Madness

a blog about the craft of writing

It’s a wild ride.

From the first moment I decided to write for publication, that was my goal- publication. Now that may sound obvious, but I know many authors who say they are interested in publishing, but they never seem to do the things they need to do to get there. I understand this. It’s easy to let yourself slide into all the myriad things that need to be done and never actually do the few things that will get you to publication.

Why is that? It’s because actually publishing is scary.

It’s scary for me too. From the moment I sent off my first manuscript and received that first rejection I was on a wild ride. First the anticipation and hope of sending it off. Then the deep depression when it comes back, rejected.

Some authors get thrown off and never get back on. They want to publish, even have a deep desire to be published, but the thought of receiving another rejection letter is overwhelming. It’s tough to get back on that horse when your spine is bruised and your ego shaken.

But the reward is great. When I opened the email from Passion in Print Press and saw that it had not just a letter, but an acceptance letter and a contract for Little Red Riding Wolf…well let’s just say I was higher than the top of the stands.

But it’s not over with the acceptance. Then, as a newbie, I’m worried about everything. Is the contract what I think it is? Should I sign? Should I send it certified mail or pay the extra five bucks for Priority? Did they get it? Will they send it back signed? What do I do next?

And worst of all. I can’t stop here. I have to keep writing, keep submitting, and maybe even court another one of those rejection letters. Up and down and up and down, authors have to have wills of iron and buns of steel. Because I know the ride doesn’t stop here, it’s just beginning.

It’s October and my first annual Halloween Treats Contest in celebration of the acceptance of my spicy paranormal novella Little Red Riding Wolf (soon to be released from Passion in Print Press). To enter leave a comment for me and I’ll be announcing the winner of today’s free book on Thursday October 6th when Keridak Kae is my guest blogger. Today’s free book giveaway is Liz Carlyle’s The Bride Wore Scarlet.

And the winner of Saturday’s book is Casey Wyatt! Please email me your address through my contact page and I’ll be sending out books next week! Congratulations!

The winner of The Bride Wore Scarlett is Brinda Berry! Congratulations Brinda, send me your address through my contact page and I’ll send out your book next week! Congratulations!

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Filed under Moonday mania, Writer's Journey, writing organization

bijoux

bijoux, the little jewels I’ve reaped from the retreat

Moonday Madness

a writer oriented blog

Wine, writing and song, (okay, nobody sang, thank God) that’s what writing retreats are made of. As many of you know I attended my very first Colorado Romance Writers September Writing Retreat last weekend. As to why I didn’t write about it last week, well I was still processing.

Our estimable retreat organizers packed the weekend with workshops, hilarious games and time to write. In fact there was so much going on I was never bored and wished we could keep going for another few days. It seems like September is the month for writer’s retreats as my friends Sharon Clare and Sherry Isaac at Romance and Beyond as well as Elaine Cougler were also at their own lakefront retreat and I’ve read of others who were retreating as well.

Why do we have retreats? One of the things I learned was that everyone goes to CRW’s retreats for different purposes. Some went to connect. To make new friends, see old ones and to get that piece of the business that writers are frequently shorted on, face to face conversation. Some went to write. To have time in a beautiful mountain setting where there were no kids, no job, no pesky husbands vying for their attention. Some went not knowing what they were going for, but all went home satisfied.

Why did I go? I wasn’t sure at first. This was my first retreat and I didn’t know really what to expect. I packed my laptop and WIP, hoping to finish those stubborn last pages. I packed two bottles of wine, hoping to spend time with friends. And I packed my Ipod, just in case I wanted to shut out the noise and really work. And I did all that and more. I did do some work (I should underline the word some) on my WIP, I socialized and played games. But I also attended all three of the quality workshops.

Workshops presented by the fabulous Margie Lawson on Defeating Self Defeating Behaviors, Ann S. Brady on handling the grief of rejection, and Liz Pelletier of Entangled Publishing on what editors are looking for in today’s tough market. All three were so fantastic that I decided they each need their own blog. So look forward to future Moonday Madness posts detailing each one. I can’t take you on the retreat with me, but I am sure going to try!

How do you refresh your inkwell? Have you attended a retreat lately or is it still on your bucket list?

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Discovering Adult Playdates

Sensational Saturdays

a blog where I write whatever comes up

 

A few years ago I found that my contact with adults was limited to opportunities that had to do with children. I baked cupcakes for the bake sale, drove here and there for everything from the zoo to the jumpy castle birthday party, and hauled cases of juice boxes. My conversations were squeezed into ten minute increments with a child pulling on my arm “It’s time to go Mom!”

And we seemed to only talk about kids. What was going on at the school or at Girl Scouts or soccer. How the volunteering for swim team was enormous and what a relief it was that the child had decided not to do it this year. Short conversations that revolved around something that wouldn’t even be an issue in a few years. Because those kids grow up.

As my children’s world grew bigger, mine shrank. No longer did I get to walk them to school and meet adults outside on the playground. They walked themselves. Now the drama and trauma of the empty nest loomed.

I tried dialing old friends, then ones with whom I’d partied all night in college, spilled my guts to over early morning pancakes. Those people I thought I’d always be friends with. Turns out while I was busy helping my kids learn to get friends and influence people I’d lost all of my own. I was left alone with the cupcakes.

At around the same time I sold used books out of my house. A job that kept me busy and earned around $300 a week with little time except that spent scrounging around dusty thrift stores searching for treasure. An activity I loved having an excuse to do, but was once again solitary. One of the side benefits was the ton of used books on a variety of eclectic subjects. That’s how I read the 80’s classic The Beardstown Ladies’ Common-Sense Investment Guide.

Why anyone would read an old paperback about a bunch of older ladies and their club is beyond me. But I loved it. I went on to Chicks Laying Nest Eggs : How 10 Skirts Beat the Pants Off Wall Street…And How You Can Too! A more modern hip version where the ladies were hot hockey wives and they met online through emails instead of in dusty small town meeting rooms. I was hooked.

I wanted a club. One where I could talk to adults about adult subjects. And the get rich on the side benefit? Well money is always nice. I reasoned that my busy friends who never had the time anymore to get together would make the time if it was an SIE (scheduled important event). And I was not disappointed.

Under the excuse about learning about the stock market I called my friends who never had the time to go out. They came. They made time for the first meeting. We had our own cupcakes and instead of apple juice in boxes we had glowing red and white wine in glass bottles. It was an adult play date.

The Queens of Green are still meeting three years later. I’ve learned a ton of stuff about the stock market, made a little money, (yes, we are actually up-at least as of yesterday) and now I manage my own tiny investments online. But the best part is my secret tell-no-one goal has been achieved. I now have my own friends.

And the looming threat of the empty nest? Well that is a distant memory. Between my investment club, my RWA activities, and oh yeah, writing full time, I have no fears of the empty nest. I’ve prevented what could have been a catastrophe.

Have you ever had to re-make your life? What happens to those friends who you swore you’d always have contact with? What feeds your soul and keeps you from threats like the empty nest?

I want to thank Shutterstock for the free clip art. Yumm, cupcakes..

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Embarking on a New Adventure

Sensational Saturdays

a blog where I write, whatever!

For those of you just joining my blog I started the year stepping onto the board of life. Spinning the wheel and seeing where my little car would take me I drove straight into a class by Angi Morgan, author of Hill Country Hold Up (if you love suspense, you’ll love Angi’s books!) where I learned that first time authors have a world of things to do and no time to do them. Angi described her first year as an author as a roller coaster ride, thrilling, but scary.

Angi’s advice was to jump on the roller coaster now! What would you be doing if you were published? And she told us what she’d needed to do. Not only come through with edits for the accepted book, but whip out a synopis and a second book in record time. And the roller coaster continued with websites and promotion and all the things she’d never thought of doing before being published.

And that’s how I find myself in the predicament I am now, amazingly, astonishingly, awesomely busy. I love everything I do and dropping something is difficult. I am very active in my local RWA chapter CRW. I’m working hard on our OctoberFalling into Romance Tea. I am still juggling reservationist, but have a wonderful person to take it on after today. So that will leave me PRO liason and AOE co-ordinator.

Phew! Along with balancing two websites (if you haven’t checked out Paranormal Freebies, please do so HERE), my crazy self-imposed goals for writing, oh yeah, the dog and the family, I have loaded a lot on my plate. But I’m winnowing it down.

And then I came across the Third Writing Campaign! Seems easy, right?

Just check out the 25+ blogs in my group, and accept the three challenges.

Well I couldn’t leave it there? Could I?

I have added in Kerri Cuevas Choose Your Own Adventure to my plate. But how could I resist? I loved those books as a kid. It was like writing your own story. You would start the story, and it would be about you. Something terrible would happen and at the end of the chapter would be those magical words: If you  choose to stay and fight, go to page five. If you choose to run out the door, go to page twenty-two.

Well, what would you do?

Read them over and over and over, till you had the entire thing memorized. I still see them sometimes in used bookstores. Well read, but still chugging along. So I had to jump on Kerri’s train and I’m thrilled to announce that we’re about to start working on our very own choose your own adventure!

You can check out the list of nineteen intrepid bloggers and authors who will be writing this adventure with me HERE, and I hope when the time comes you will all be adventurous yourselves on October 23, 20011 and go to Kerri’s blog and see what happens when the reader gets to choose!

Did you read these as a child? Share with me if you did and if you didn’t what fabulous books held your attention when you were young?

And don’t forget to check back Monday for Moonday Madness with guest blog by Summer Mahan!

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Climbing the Mountain of Goal Setting

Moonday Mania

blogging about the craft of writing

August has been a month of ups and downs with my writing. I started off with a bang. Meeting my goal of writing 2,000 words five days a week, keeping up with blogging three days a week here, and getting Paranormal Freebies up and running. So last Monday I got very excited and decided to climb the highest mountain I could. I set a new goal. 50,000 words during August.

I’d already done 10k. Well, almost. I’d hit close to 8,000 in three days. That meant I could do it, right? 8k in three days, that means I can do almost 3k per day. At 3,000 words per day I should be able to hit 50,000 words by the end of the month. So I said I would. I placed the statement, “I will write 50,000 words by the end of August” on my goal setting loop. And then the week crashed.

Sounds like a fire exploded my laptop, right? Wrong.

Just life. Just the time I had to spend back to school shopping, cleaning my folks house, diving people here and there. And updating websites, going to meetings, letting the (very hot!) window guy in to look at the windows. Life happened and I let it and I certainly didn’t hit my goals more than one day this week.

And there was something else I discovered.

It’s hard!

I can write 1,000 words in an hour with no trouble, so keeping my butt in the chair for two more hours should be easy, right? Wrong again!

It turns out I can write 1,000 no problem. 2,000 with a little thinking. But after that I slow down. Way down. I don’t know what to write next. Its like my brain just stops after 2k. I can, when the muse is helping, make it to 2,500 and even 3,000. But after this week, struggling to make it past 2,500 and hating it, I had an epiphany.

If it makes writing a chore, why am I doing this? Just to hit a number that I stuck out there for myself. It makes no sense.

Now I’m all about setting goals, and setting them high. I read Kristen Lamb’s blog on Self Discipline this week and it really resonated with me. I like staying on a schedule, I like writing every day and keeping my goals out there. But when I set them too high I set myself up for failure.

Kristen says its like exercise and if we go to the gym and kill ourselves one day, odds are we won’t be back. Mountain climbing is like that too. Have you ever decided to climb a mountain that was just too big? You need to start out with a small hill and work your way up to the Fourteeners.

I’ve worked my writing up from my small hill of 500 words per day to a pretty good mountain top of 2,000. Three thousand is just too many for my writing muscles right now. But if I keep up with setting my goals high, but realistically high, then I will eventually get stronger and reach that 3k mark.

So I’m taking it back a notch. I’m going to get on my goal setting loop and admit failure and start over again. My goal is to write at least 2,000 words five days a week and enjoy it! And if the muse is with me, I may hit 2,500 or even 3,000. And that’s okay.

Tell me about how your goals are going this week, writing or otherwise. Does setting your goals high help or hinder you? Does it make you frustrated or did it push you to levels you didn’t think you could reach?

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Straggling Over the Finish Line

My class on Online Author Awareness with the phenomenal Carolyn Cooper that began as my Brave Adventure  is over, finished, finito. And as much as I strove to do it differently it has ended just like many of my online classes do. The marathon is over and I barely crossed the finish line.

I start a class full of good intentions. I will keep up! I will do all the homework! I will end this class at the top! But then life interferes and I’m barely keeping up with reading the messages, let alone the pages and pages from the file section. As moderator for a CRW class I have the responsibility to make sure everyone is having a good time and behaving nicely, so when I moderate I do make sure I read every message, just in case. And that is about all I could do by the end of this class.

While I fell behind somewhere between lesson six (Landing pages and squeeze pages) and lesson seven (the Neuropsychology of choice) I will have plenty of opportunity to catch up. I have all of the files on my computer and I’ve printed out everything but the last case study. I will learn this stuff if it kills me.

Am I unhappy that the class was chock full of relevant information? No! Am I unhappy that I will have reading for the weeks to come? No! Am I unhappy that I couldn’t keep up? Well yes, but not with the class. Carolyn was a fantastic teacher brimming with information and she has given it to me in a form that I can easily review and learn on my own time. She was incredibly participatory and helpful to everyone in class and if you are at all interested in this topic I cannot recommend a better person to learn from. Just don’t schedule anything else!

No, the failings in this case are all mine. I simply didn’t have enough time or energy. But I will now. I will review the last three lessons and make sure I understand them. I will apply what I have learned. And I am still excited about this topic. So excited in fact that I am considering doing it again! Carolyn and CRW are offerering a class in Analytics For Authors and I am excited! Another class where there will be tons of information on something I know nothing about. I’m in heaven.

Of course, now I know what analytics are and what they can do for me as a blogger, website owner, and author. But do I have a clue how to use them? Not really. A full class will help tremendously. Time to don the marathon equipment again, face the starting line and hope that this time I cross with flying colors and win!

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The Dreaded Deadline

An amazing thing happened to me when I decided to become a pre-published author instead of an un-published author. Suddenly I had deadlines. Those crazy things that published authors are secretly proud to have, but all moan about, just so us newbies know what we are missing. Those things, they showed up in my life like small children tugging at my skirts. “Feed us.”

They pull and push. They yammer and yowl. Where did they come from? I don’t have an editor, agent or anyone demanding my work be finished on time. Where could these crazy demanding deadlines come from?

They came from me. When I decided to act like I was published my world changed. I became a person with a schedule and I set up goals for myself and along with those goals came the deadlines, wounded crafts in need of attention, tied to my hardworking goals tugboating along. Being the messed up over-achiever that I am, I set up many goals, big goals, demanding goals. So their deadlines were many and big and demanding.

Deadlines are necessary for anyone to achieve at a rapid pace. There is no way I would be here. When I look back six months ago I had no website, no blog, no business cards. No business calling myself an anything, let alone an author. But now I have multiple works in progress, several are “finished”, and I am getting my name out there. People know me. People I have never met and may never meet know me as an author. And I have the deadlines to thank.

If you set goals without deadlines your odds of achieving them shrivel to nothing. There is no reason to complete anything without those whiny children tugging at you, reminding you, needing you. You float out there in the someday realm, waiting for something to happen. Deadlines keep us on track, keep us focused. And when you hit them, you get the added bonus of not only moving further down your chosen path, but you also get the glow of success. You achieved a deadline. You are great! You are fantastic! You are the bomb!

So set those goals, but make sure you invite deadlines to the table, and stick to them. Okay, even if you don’t stick to them they can drive you forward, but if you don’t hit them you don’t get the bonus. You don’t get to do the happy dance and sing and say “I’m the bomb!”

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Why Write?

On Saturday I did something I love to do. I spent the day socializing with my peeps at the Colorado Romance Writers mini-con.There was something for everyone. An editor, Kristen Sevick of Tor/Forge, for pitches. A silent auction, which I am happy to report was full of wonderful critiques and gift baskets. And of course a whole day spent sucking up the wisdom of our guest, Kara Lennox.

Kara has published sixty-eight books. Sixty-eight! In an amazing feat Kara provided a one-woman conference, doing workshop after workshop for the whole day. We started with queries, moved through three act structure and right on into movie tricks for romance writers. Her plot-fixers and agent advice finished out a marvelous day of information overload.

Even when its a topic I think I know something about, I still learn something. I took pages and pages of notes and intend on reviewing them to see what I’ve already forgotten. For example, the three act structure. I use a plot structure when I write that is based on something like three act structure. I am going to do exactly what she suggested and peek into my mid-point and see if its where it should be. Did it move during those many revisions?Kara used movies as her examples. She explained that movies are exactly three acts and when you write screenplays, there had better be three acts. Its something I do and something I’ve learned, but the way she explained it has me wanting to pull out my stopwatch and check my Disney movies for their exact mid-points and black moments.

Many authors want to ignore structure and fly by the seat of their pants, but even fly-by-fabric writers should have some sort of map. Kara said many people think the three act structure is hardwired into our brains. That we look for it, and if an author doesn’t stay close to it, the reader feels cheated.

The most exciting thing for me was seeing that even after so many books, and the ups and downs of a long career, Kara is still excited about writing. She loves her plots and characters. She’s written category romance and screenplays and hopes to publish in single title, but the common theme for the long, long, long day was her enthusiasm.

She kept us interested right to the end. I always wondered how anyone could be as prolific as a Harlequin author. How do they keep coming up with new plots that are fresh and interesting book after book. After listening to Kara, I think I know the secret.

She loves it. You can see as she talks that she feels lucky to have made a career out of romance. And who wouldn’t? A lifetime of creating new stories, new characters and new happy ever afters? Why wouldn’t everyone be struggling to do this for a living? Well, maybe because it isn’t the easiest thing to do. You have to be prolific to pay the bills and there are the rejections and revisions.

But seeing someone who has been successful and prolific and still loves writing? That’s a calling. That’s inspirational. That’s who I want to be.

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Blog Backlog

Most of you know my goal is to become a published author. Not just published, but a successful author. Might as well aim high. To get there I set goals. And I love setting goals. Every month I review my goals, see what I’ve done and what I haven’t done. But the other thing I do is I try to look ahead. That is a very tough thing for me because I am a procrastinator.

I’ve had some help looking ahead. No, its not my crystal ball. I’ve been able to see authors in my chapter (like Ashley March) and how their experiences went. I also took a fab bootcamp on Riding the Roller Coaster by Angi Morgan.  And now I’m watching my friend Sherry Isaac  get ready for her release date. Wow, is there a tremendous amount of work involved in that.

(Sherry is setting up blog tours right now for July and August, and guess what? I’m excited to announce she will be blogging here in both July and August, so stay tuned for more announcements.)

Both Ashley and Angi were stunned by the amount of work they needed to do when releasing their first book. If you don’t have a website you need to do that. Establish a web presence, learn about self-promotion, get head-shots, business cards. The list goes on and on. Oh and don’t forget edit the book, and they both had to write their second books at the same time.

So I’ve decided to start a backlog of blogs. I may not need to use them. I may have fresh and stunning ideas when my thirty-fifth blog of the week hits. But just in case, I am going to write two blogs a week for the next few months and stash some of them where you can’t see them! Mean, huh. I already have a file of ideas that I have yet to dive into. Its my just-in-case-the-muse-doesn’t-show file. So far, she’s always shown up, so I’m okay. But there will come a day when the fickle bitch doesn’t show up. No, wait, I didn’t mean to call her that! There will come a day when she’s sick, or busy, or just plain too tired and then what am I going to do?

On that day, when I’m not feeling so hot and I’ve committed myself to too many outside activities and the edits are due and the blog is due. On that day I will be ready, because this is one of the many steps I need to take. The step of changing my procrastinating ways and walking on the right side of the muse. And if she doesn’t show up (which I’ve heard she sometimes does) I’ll be ready to walk by myself right over to the blog storage unit and pull out an instant blog. And I’ll be thumbing my nose at the muse as I go.

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AAACK! Nearly Halfway Through the Year and Still Editing!

We don’t usually talk about goals in May, but we should. May is a month when I look at summer approaching and think: “Wow! It’s here again!” And this year I am hitting May and realizing my yearly goals are totally lost. What happened to the first part of 2011? I thought I had more time and yet here I am almost halfway through the year.

Did I slack off? Did I not write? Did I totally ignore what is supposed to be my reason for being? No. I wrote a lot. I just didn’t stick to the plan. What plan? You know, the plan where I said I would finish a second book. Oh yeah, that one.

I look at my yearly goals and first I cringe. I was supposed to have a good chunk of the rough draft done by now! Fifty-thousand words by June. Not there. But what did I do instead? I got sidetracked. Seduced by the opportunity of a quick pitch contest I diverted from my course and now I find myself way off track, but with two finished novellas.

That’s good, but not where I wanted to be. So what is my new plan? Back to the old plan. Re-visit, re-vamp, re-do. Because its only May. And I can still hammer out a rough draft before the end of the year. I can possibly even polish it enough to call it finished. So I’m not giving up. I am still trapped in the edit swamp for my first ms. I can’t seem to get out. But I am determined that this is the last run through. After this, it is time to get serious and submit it. Again.

And those novellas? Well one needs another run through of edits. That swamp is never letting me go! And then it is off to the e-pubs. And the second one. Well that second one is my ace up my sleeve. You see, while I was writing it and keeping it to a measly twenty-five thousand words, I kept thinking there was a bigger book in it. And now that it didn’t make it in the pitch contest, I don’t have to restrict it anymore, I can now expand it into a full length book.

So guess what! I’m now 25,000 words ahead in finishing my book this year. And it is a pretty polished 25,000 words too! So I’m way ahead. I may not hit 50k by June, but I will finish the rough draft this year. And then its back to the editing swamp for me.

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