Monday, December 11, 2017

Newsletters

Starting in January I will be making several changes and additions to my marketing plan along with what I am hoping will be the beginning of a increase in the offerings of my brand. Not only am I hoping to introduce at least three new books and a revamped on during the next twelve months but I am also excited to bring out my merchandise line I have been working on with my management team for the past several months.

One of the things I have seen a number of authors use to to engage with their readers is the newsletter. I have wanted to join this area of marketing for quite some time but I wasn't sure what to include. After subscribing to a number of them for research, as well as my own interests, I have narrowed down the information I am planning to include as well as ways to do it that reflects my personal style and professional brand. I am excited to be including this aspect along with being more active here and on my other social media accounts. Interaction is the best way to stay connected with those you want to not only sell things to but have any relationship with at all, personally or professionally.

I am hoping to add a discussion board to my website in the next year because hearing from my readers, family and friends is important to me. I love reviews of my books and meeting people when I attend events but I want a place where people can chat with me and others on subjects raised on my blog or  even a place to offer suggestions of topics to cover.

I speak and will hopefully be increasing my appearances on the subject of domestic violence awareness. This topic has been talked about extensively since the release of Survivor a couple of years ago but with the rest of the series coming soon I will be broadening the conversation with each book. I am hoping people will want to reach out and talk with me even if the conversation may be a bit heavy at times.

These are just a few of the items on my to do list for the coming year and the newsletter is the one I am focusing on the most at the moment. I cannot wait to begin chatting more and sharing what is happening in my world with you even more. I hope you are just as excited as I am.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Kitten's Corner - Christmas Time



My name is Pumpkin. My mom usually writes this blog but she has been busy so I figured I would keep you company today. She said it had been a long time since she was here. While she was away that big tree that shows up now and then came back into the front room blocking the window.

Mom spends so much time making it colorful. She puts those dangly balls on it and shiny rope wrapped around it. Dad put a goofy red hat on top of it that plays music when you push something on the side. It used to scare me but as long as it stays on top of the tree it is alright. My brother and sister like it when the tree goes up because everyone spends time in the front room where we can watch out the window while mom and dad watch the picture box.

I know mom wants to go back to her office and sit by her window and drink the brown stuff she likes so much. She stares at her computer, typing away for hours but that's ok because I can lay in the sun and she pets me. Eventually she will put the tree away and go back in there. I like it when she gets done with something because she is happy. She picks me up and holds me while she smiles.  Then, sometimes, she gets a box full of books and I can play in the box after she unpacks it. Just like the ones wrapped under the tree. Boxes are my favorite.

Well I just wanted to say hi and get to now you all for a little while. I will pop in now and then but I think I hear the can opener going downstairs. Meow at you later.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Overwhelming Life

I work two jobs. I know many people that do and I am not claiming to be special in any way when it comes to this fact. I am a table games dealer at two different casinos in Las Vegas and I know it isn't modest to say it, but I am very good at what I do. I draw people in to play the game. I engage with them to make sure they have a good time win of lose, and I make tips for the dealers. It is a win, win, win. I am also getting burnt out. Two jobs, two shifts, never knowing what day it is or where I am supposed to be is weighing on me. I am getting sick from lack of sleep and depressed from never being able to participate in things that are important to me because I have to work.

I haven't been able to work out for weeks. Yes I have time such as right now but I have to choose between accomplishing something or getting a workout in. On top of that I am fighting an illness so I am weak and exhausted. I can't sleep during the day and I toss and turn at night. It is a never ending concern. The worst part though is how much it affects the thing I care about doing most, writing. I haven't published a blog post for almost a month. I withdrew from Nanowrimo for the first time ever, and I can't even find a way to get excited about moving forward with my projects. I am practically ready to quit.

In theory the two jobs are temporary. I am only working the second one until I get full time at the first or I can pay off my bills. The problem is there are always more bills. I have been waiting for the next round of full time promotions for over a year and they still haven't come. Even if and when they do there is no guarantee I will be able to accept and keep the only shift that works for me. This would mean a much longer issue with my schedule and writing in general.

I have since decided to try and leave one of my jobs if I can get a freelance writing gig to make up the difference. Once again I am struggling though because on top of being new to the Freelance world and therefore having to go through an understandable learning curve, I have to do so while fighting the previously mentioned lack of sleep and time. I am officially at the point where something has got to give or it will end up being me who gives up entirely.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Underdog Battle

This month is the writing challenge known as Nanowrimo. Since my first time participating in 2010 I have successfully completed it six times though currently only one of those books has gone on to be edited or published. The rest sit idly by waiting for me to get off my butt and progress on their respective tales. I hesitated to participate again this year because my schedule is so out of whack but ultimately I couldn't deny my need to create and finish the trilogy part of the series Nanowrimo has helped me bring to life over the last few years.

In the past I have had days where I would struggle to meet my regular word count. I have fallen behind on many occasions and only a handful of days was I ever ahead. Today I find myself even further behind than ever before however. If I were on target with my word count I would be crossing the fifteen thousand mark by the end of the day. Instead I am hovering around twelve hundred. It seems a near impossible feat to cover trying to not only make up the words I am behind but to also continue on and cross the finish line of fifty thousand words by the end of the month.

I would love to say I am determined. I am not a quitter. I push through adversity in order to accomplish all my goals. My history would suggest otherwise though. I have been known to quit when things seemed too difficult. The most important thing at this point is to know how I thrive under deadlines. I have come from behind before and I am hoping to do so once again. I have en entire list of edits and rewrites but it would mean the world to me to add just one more book to that list and begin the journey forward with a nearly completed series.

When I read the book No Plot, No Problem by Chris Baty, the creator of Nanowrimo, I understood immediately when he mentioned the need for a looming deadline to push people forward. That unused chart I haven't updated this month is waiting for me. It is a beast with teeth that grow with each passing day as it lays dormant, waiting to see if my desire to write or my schedule will be the ultimate victor this month. I have been an underdog before and come out on top. Tonight I will march on to see if once again my writing David will defeat the time constraints of Goliath.

Monday, November 6, 2017

What Helps

Recently I had a discussion about Nanowrimo with a fellow author. She is adamantly against it and from her reasoning and perspective I understand why. She doesn't think people should wait until a dingle month out of the year to work on things and that since it isn't a "real" competition and don't win anything tangible that there is no driving force to push people to do the writing they should be doing year round. I understand, I don't agree.

I am someone who participates in Nanowrimo almost every year. I understand it is more for bragging rights and a personal sense of accomplishment than anything but there is something about that looming deadline that is compelling for me. Unfortunately I have proven in several aspects of my life that self imposed deadlines mean nothing. I say I want to lose weight and as soon as I do I can buy a new outfit, then I continue to stress eat and either gain or simply not lose any weight. However having a set date and a consequence for not achieving that goal got me to my target weight a week early.

I cannot go to the gym and workout. I have to go and train. I need a half marathon, distance bike ride, obstacle course, dance performance or other planned activity to be working toward. Otherwise I find myself going through the motions instead of pushing myself as hard as I can. Writing is the same way. I know Nanowrimo has a deadline at the end of November and while it isn't a deadline that has any money or tangible items attached to it, if I miss the deadline I have to wait an entire year to try again. I can finish the book later but there is something magical about hitting the submission button and seeing the WINNER banner appear across your name on the site.

Like anything else in life, there are two sides. I know people that feel it is nothing but words thrown at a page to se what sticks and the books written within that month long journey don't and never will amount to anything worthwhile. For me I think the main point is don't knock something just because it isn't your personal option. I love being a part of the community and not stressing over every little word choice. I enjoy taking the journey with my characters because it happens so quickly even I don't know what's coming next. Whether it is Nanowrimo giving a deadline, yoga for clearer thinking or taking a backpack and a pad with a pen along for a cross country train ride for new perspectives, we all have things that work for us. The important part is finding the ones that work for you then using them to your fullest advantage.

Friday, November 3, 2017

November 3rd

Today is November 3rd. For most people that means very little. It might be a reminder to take down the Halloween decorations or put up the Thanksgiving or possible Christmas ones. People may start making lists to prepare for the upcoming holidays. There are shopping and Christmas card lists, meals to plan or other family obligations to consider. However for hundreds of thousands of people around the world November 3rd means something entirely different, Day 3 of Nanowrimo.

I have participated for years in the annual writing challenge. Some years I knew months in advance what I would be working on while other times I would pick something at random within days of the start. One year I even decided to begin writing over a week in and used a previously written short story as the base and expended it into a full length novel. This year was one of the advanced planning years. I had thought it would be a good time to work on book 3 in my Voices series. I didn't have a specific plot for the book but then again I went in somewhat blind last year on book 2 and loved the outcome.

The concern I have is time. I am currently working two jobs. Not huge issue since I have done that before. Yet, in previous years, I worked double shifts on some days and had others off entirely which allowed me to get up and go work on my writing for hours at a time. This go round I find myself working every single day on varying shifts. There are still doubles on several occasions but there are no days off. While I am working I am also fighting my ongoing health issues and projects at home. My boyfriend and I have decided to downsize our living situation and so have been sorting through all of our belongings as well as searching for our next home and preparing our current house to go on the market. I am also still working diligently on preparations for the charity event I co-founded coming up in February. All of these things together add up to a distinct lack of free time.

I know people say it is fine if you don't hit the goal, or set a personal one that is easier for you and your situation. The problem is I don't like to do things halfway. If I go for something, I go all in. I will not lower the goal just to say I did something. It is all of nothing and I am trying to  decide if possible Nanowrimo simply isn't in the cards for me this year. I suspect the rest of the day will be a pros and cons conversation with myself to determine which direction I will end up going.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Sacrifice For Art

Sitting in a Facebook group for writers the other day I saw the same questions followed by the same answers flowing by that sen to crop up each week. As I scrolled down I was about to find a different group to lurk in when I saw a post asking how dedicated we all were to our art. What would we be willing to sacrifice in order to further pursue our chosen art forms. It got me thinking again about the decision I have recently made to downsize.

There are a number of advantages to living a more simplified life but one of the biggest selling points for me was that by saving time and money I could put more effort into my writing. My boyfriend and I are now working hard to prepare for an eventual move to a tiny house / RV lifestyle. We would be able to pick up and go anytime we wanted and the lower bills, maintenance and energy, as well as the flexibility would allow me to eventually write full time. That was all that needed to be said for me to start examining the cabinets, drawers and closets for items I no longer need in order to make downsizing easier when we reach that point.

Giving things up can be difficult, that is why we call it sacrificing. The fact of the matter is, for me at least, it isn't a sacrifice. It is a determination that something else is more important. I talk to people all the time who hate their jobs. However when I ask them, why not just leave, they scoff at the idea. How could they ever dream of giving up their paycheck, their benefits, their schedule, etc? Look for a different job with similar money and benefits and think about the long term effects of less stress by doing something you enjoy is always my answer. I am told I live in a fantasy land.

I have said my entire life that I would rather do something I love for 8.00 an hour than something I hate for 100.00 an hour. Those are obviously extreme pay differences and like everyone I would be willing to compromise in some places but the overall fact remains, life isn't about money to me. I want to be happy, do something that fulfills my heart and soul as well as cover my obligations. Keep in mind I said obligations though, I don't care about being rich. I don't need fancy cars, a big house, or flashy jewelry. I want to write, travel to see the world, and share my adventures with my friends and family. I am choosing a lifestyle which allows me to do exactly what I want. Some might fear sacrificing the current for the unknown but I cannot wait for the adventure to begin.