Tag Archives: secrets

Bijou from the CRW retreat, Margie Lawson

Sensational Saturdays

where I blog whatever I want

I’m thrilled to see so many new commenters on Jessica Aspen Writes! I love communicating with everyone. Those who know me know I am pretty talkative, so thanks for jumping in and feeding my conversational need. Once again this was confirmed at the CRW writers retreat I attended in September where we were lucky enough to have the talented Margie Lawson helping us figure out our personalities and our self defeating behaviors. Don’t forget to leave a comment to be entered in today’s contest!

Are you riding the horse, or is the horse riding you?

Self-knowledge is one of the things Margie Lawson teaches in her Defeating Self Defeating Behavior courses and she was only able to cover a teeny tiny portion during the retreat, but I could still spot the wheels turning in everyone’s brains as they looked a little deeper into themselves and their various reasons for not getting the job done.

Are you like me? Very social and liable to be caught up in too much tweeting or blogging and never having enough time to finish your project? Or are you caught up in repeating the self defeating, it’s never going to happen so why bother. Whichever you are you have a problem. Either the work doesn’t get finished or it doesn’t get sent out. Whichever one is your problem, or if it’s something altogether different, Margie has it covered in her course. Margie is the woman with the solution.

If you’ve ever taken a Margie course, you know she fills it with tons of wonderful information. At the retreat we only had enough time to take a quick peek at our personalities and what might be holding us back as well as make lists of doable goals for the retreats. I discovered I’m pretty balanced on three out of four of the personality styles in the survey she had us take. This means that my talent for organization and my ability to socialize are just as strong as my positive enthusiastic side. What I’m lacking is the self-confidence and forceful pieces that might push me to say, submit my work?

Once again, Margie is the woman with the solution!

Her terrific system of goals have helped me tremendously since I started her Defeating Self Defeating Behaviors course. Making two lists, winner and superstar, keeps me on task and keeps me from beating myself up when I don’t get everything done. It also lets me reward myself with something fun, say Tweeting, when I have to do those tasks that are not so fun, say sending another letter after the first query asking “what happened to my query?” Rewarding my efforts that are difficult has helped me to achieve the things that are hard for me. Thanks Margie!

If you haven’t take a course from Margie Lawson I highly encourage you to do so. Her online courses have a tremendous amount of information and she has several for each stage of writing. We only had a taste of Defeating Self-Defeating Behaviors at the retreat, but I know (from my personal experience with Margie’s courses) that you will discover things about yourself that you never knew. And address those issues that hold you back. Even if you feel that you’re on track, you can still find a wealth of information to get you organized and over any issues you might have.

You can find Margie’s courses like Defeating Self Defeating Behaviors, and many more, at her brand new online school, Margie Lawson Academy!

What kind of self defeating behaviors do you struggle with? Have you ever taken Margie’s course? What strategies work for you?

Leave a comment and enter to win today’s Halloween Treat book, Kate Moore’s To Save the Devil. All entries go into the final drawing for the three grand prizes! Thursday’s winner is Sharon Clare! Send me your address through my contact box and I’ll be mailing prizes out next week! Congratulations Sharon!


Filed under Sensational Saturday's, Uncategorized, writing craft

Flying Past the Lure of Cleaning the Toilet

Moonday Mania


This is the second in a four part series about how organization has saved me. Click HERE for part one, Goal Setting Survival.


There are many pitfalls in staying home and trying to work. Resisting the insistent ring of my parent’s cell phones, the list of to-do’s that my husband thinks I can do since I’m home, and the lure of my unread books from Rom Con. But the most insidious is the lure of that evil siren, housework.

I am a clean person. At least I used to be, before falling in love with writing. When writing was just a hobby and I was thrilled to get 500 words on the page, my house was clean. People would ask me, how I did it. How did I get so much done and have my house look great every time they dropped by. The secret was simple.

I really did little else.

Now I am jealous about the time spent on my keyboard. If I don’t want to leave my computer to spend time with my family, why would I want to leave the keyboard to scrub toilets?

The answer is I am an amazingly complex person and I desire both. I desire a clean house so I can write. Something that I don’t have to worry about and doesn’t call to me when I’m sitting down to my keyboard. Something that doesn’t shout: “You lazy bum! You should be able to do it all!”

So you would think I would have been jumping for joy when my sister in law kept telling me I should try the Fly Lady. But I didn’t. I felt I didn’t need anyone helping me with silly strategies for housecleaning. I’d always kept my house up, I knew how to do it and I had my methods and I was sticking to ’em!

But that was before. Before I found that I want to write full time. And I mean spend 24/7 writing, reading about writing and schmoozing about writing. Leaving no time for running errands, clean underwear or stocking food in the refrigerator.

That was when our then CRW President Tiffany James (read about Tiffany’s upcoming book HERE) wrote a column about the Fly Lady. And I gave in and checked it out. If Tiffany, superwoman extrodinaire could admit she looked at the Fly Lady site, then so could I. So I peeked.

I started with keeping my kitchen sink clean and moved on through the swish and swipe.

I became a Fly Lady Fan! View picture of Fly Lady Here that I was afraid to Paste due to copyright!

I’m imperfect. Sometimes the Fly Lady’s schedule doesn’t fit mine, but she’d be the first to say that I should do what works for me. And mostly, flying and being a flybaby works for me. By spending small amounts of time on the house and rotating areas on a regular basis I’m able to keep the house on an even keel.

Bathrooms clean, floors vacuumed and sometimes even with food in the refrigerator. And I can spend my days at home focusing on the writing, and not what I haven’t done. Because I did my flying for the day, got it out of the way and that is all I need to do for now. Fly Lady has freed me for guilt free writing!

With the Fly Lady everything is broken down into small jobs that are spread out over time. What strategies do you use to balance your need to write or work at home and the needs that call you to stray into time wasting other activities? Do you Fly?

Find out more about simplifying your life with the Fly Lady at http://flylady.net/


Filed under Goal Setting, Moonday mania, writing organization

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.


Filed under channeling success, Optimisim, writing craft

Looking for Open Doors

I’m doing what I almost never do: bouncing off of someone else’s blog. But Elaine Cougler’s blog really got me thinking. Elaine attended the eWomen Network conference and blogged about a session by Olga Sheean. You should check out Elaine’s blog, but what I got out of it, and what I’m going to talk about here, is the idea that we need to stop the negative self-talk about publisher availability. Now its no secret that I don’t actually believe in the Secret. The idea that if you just open your heart to success, it will be there like a stray dog, anxious to get into your life. But I do believe in the underpinnings of it, that if you  open your heart to success it will be there. But only if you go to the shelter and look for it.

I love this idea, that Elaine brought back from Olga’s session, that all our talk about the gloom and doom of publishing is closing doors for us. One of the traps for writers is this kind of negative self-talk, and you hear it everywhere. At conferences. At meetings. At workshops. Online all the buzz is about the dying publishing industry and how hard it is for newbies to get published. Okay, its not the easiest thing in the world. Did you think it would be?

Okay, I actually did. I had this idea that since I had read some really bad published books, and my writing was better than that, that I could get published. No problem. But it hasn’t worked out that way, and I’m glad. Now I’ve been forced to work on my writing, to make it better. I’m glad that the opportunity didn’t come up when my work was not very good. Now its better and I’m ready for it to get out there. So what are the steps to take? We’ve been over most of them. Keep trying, keep submitting, keep putting yourself out there. But this idea that you need to open your mind to there being, not just a publisher, but the right publisher for you. This is an amazing idea.

I’ve been thinking about this with agents. That we don’t just want any agent. We want one that fits our personality. Yes, I want honesty, but I don’t want someone who is cruel. Yes, I want expectations, but I don’t want someone who is unrealistic. Yes, I want success, but I don’t want someone so busy I can’t ever get a hold of them. So that’s my agent short-list, what about a publisher?

Today I am opening my mind to not only there being a publisher out there for me, but the right publisher. I want a publisher who will market my books and promote my career. I want a publisher who will be excited about my work. And I want a publisher who will pay me well. Why not? It’s not that we open these doors with out thoughts, its that we see the open doors. There are lots of lost pets out there, you not looking for them doesn’t change that. What changes is when you think to look for one. Think there is a place in your house and your heart. There are publishers out there and they are looking for writers. Are you looking for them?


Filed under channeling success, Optimisim