Monday, January 29, 2018

NYC Midnight

In an effort to expand my writing horizons I do my best to find new opportunities. These can include book shows, conferences and conventions, even simply taking part in a contest or trying a new genre.  Last year, along with my first ever conference, I also decided to try a short story competition for the first time. It is run by the organization NYC Midnight who also puts on other writing competitions throughout the year.

It was anxiety filled for a number of reasons. For one thing, the two firsts happened to coincide schedule wise. I was either driving, attending sessions and network dinners, or practicing my book pitches while I should have been figuring out my story idea. That was the other nerve racking part, the story. The way this particular competition works is everyone that signs up is split into groups where they are given an assignment of subject, character, and genre. You then have twenty-five hundred words and eight days to write, edit, format, and finally submit you short story for judgement. The top five in each group move on to the next round with new assignments and an even shorter word count and time frame.

I did not make it to round two last year but the feedback from the judges was fantastic. Each judge gives pros and cons of your submission so you can see what you did right and things you can improve upon for next year. One of the judges didn't care for my formatting but that was the only negative they gave, everything else was positive. I held no delusions I would win or even make it past round one, I honestly just wanted the feedback. I took what I learned from them and have worked to improve the story so I could submit to other online forums and publications.

Last year I was given a character and subject I felt went together, a stay at home mom and a wrong number. The genre was thriller. It jumped off the page at me and said this will be fun. I was ecstatic. This year I was given a pediatrician, patriotism, and scifi. I do not read, watch, or write scifi. I am not backing down though. I am trying to take the main idea I have and then add scifi elements to it in order to make it work. It would never have been my first choice but expanding my horizons is what this challenge is all about.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Continuing Education - Part 3

After examining the need for visiting locations personally whenever possible to get to know the lay of the land as it were, then taking a look at classes and workshops, and finally admiring the usefulness of books on the subjects we desire to learn more about, I am ending this series with a personal touch. I mentioned this approach briefly in part two but I wanted to look further into how incredibly helpful it can be to talk to someone who has experienced what you are looking to understand.

At this time last year I was in San Diego attending my first, and to date only, writer's conference. I met award winning authors, listened to agents and publishers speak, even attended networking dinners and pitch sessions with acquisitions editors to learn more about the industry I love. There were people there who were trying out the conference for the first time much like myself. There were also people who had been coming faithfully every year for over a decade or two. Each speaker, session leader, and even lunch companion held something of value.

The agents, editors, and publishers all gave insight into what they look for when taking on a new client. Since I was there to learn about possibly becoming traditional published someday I found the information priceless. The keynote speakers, all of the bestsellers, spoke about how they reached the levels they had. They discussed their struggles and triumphs helping to let those of us listening know we were not alone. I even listened closely in the breakout sessions when other people would ask questions of the presenters. There was a woman who asked me at one time why I was not more inquisitive. She told me I shouldn't be afraid to ask a stupid question because there are no stupid questions. I explained that it wasn't that I was worried about the reaction to a question, I was simply so lost I couldn't think of any questions to ask at all. I learned just as much from previous attendees as the presenters themselves.

I took those conversations to heart. One in particular was a discussion I had with one of the keynote speakers. She discussed her process for writing murder mysteries and I found I have a similar style when beginning a book. We talked about developing a series, especially in that particular genre, and she asked if I had ever written murder mysteries before. I told her no. I read them but had never attempted writing them. After  talking about where I live and what I do she convinced me to try working on a series of four books, something that could grow later on, set in my beautiful Las Vegas and giving it a particular twist I would be familiar with. I understand the setting but I have never investigated crimes. I therefore took her advice and made a list of all the professions I would need to learn, then began contacting people in those jobs so I could use their expertise.

I am still learning and still reaching out to people to fill the list I made but it has been a tremendous help already to have their voice adding to my own. I want my readers to know I did my homework and if someone in such a profession were to one day read my book, they would feel I had at least a basic understanding of the job. It never hurts to have someone consult on a story if they may lend some details to give your characters credibility. Just make sure the voices of the experts doesn't smother the creative voice within you.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Continuing Education - Part 2

The first level of learning for me is to find books on a subject that interests me. If I find there is still more I want to learn I will then look into other areas such as classes, research opportunities, or speaking with an expert on the topic. I have never been one to sign up for traditional classes unless it is the only way to learn what I am working on at the moment but the truth is there are classes in a variety of styles covering almost every subject you could ever think of.

Local colleges or learning annexes are always offering classes to give interested students the chance to learn more about subjects that interest them. Many sports offer workshops and clinics to let participants pick up the ball, swing the bat, or sink the putt for themselves.

Many times writers will find a subject, one that comes to mind for me recently was photography, that plays an important role in their stories but the author may not be familiar with that particular subject quite yet. When the main character of my book Survivor came about she let me know her passion was photography. Not only did she enter a competition in Survivor but her pictures play an integral part in Sharing Strength. The problem is, when I try to take pictures they come out looking like a child got ahold of their parent's camera.

When it comes to lighting, composition, and of course studying one's subject through the lens, I am completely at a loss. Or at least I was. When I wrote the first draft of Survivor I used space fillers for the parts I needed to learn then when editing I went back to fill in specifics. Sharing Strength followed the same path for the first draft. I haven't begun to do the rewrites for that one. When I do, there will be some deeper research I get to do. At that point I am going to check out a fe workshops as well as talk to some friends who have a knack for photography. I do not need to become an expert for this particular series but I want to make sure the facts I include will ring true for those who know more about photography than I do.

Another book in the series involves soldiers who fought overseas. I have never travelled to the region not have I engaged in combat but I know some people who have and they are willing to share their experiences with me to make the book that much more authentic. In this situation, while I prefer to see things for myself, it is not possible nor safe for me to travel to Afghanistan, especially unescorted. Even if I did, I cannot truly live the lives the troops stationed there go through everyday. The next best thing is learning from someone who has done so instead.

Like I mentioned at the beginning, there are a number of different ways to learn about a subject. For this series I will be using several of them and am looking forward to sharing the progress as I go along.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Continuing Education - Part 1

Yesterday I discussed studying topics and learning about locations relevant to your story. There are a number of research avenues available but as I stated, I prefer to learn hands on. Today I have been thinking more about improving my craft and the continued education in the realm of writing itself. Several years ago I asked the question in a couple writers groups online about books I could read to help me improve my writing.

I got a list of nearly three dozen books to read, some of them are even workbooks to allow practical analysis and learning from doing which has always been my best learning strategy. I made a list of these and a few other books I found while Googling the subject but have barely made a dent in the list at this time. I do have thirty of the books on my reading list for the year along with just over fifty leisure reading books. I seem to keep adding books to this list though. It turns out I may be a little A.D.H.D.

Just last week I went to the library to meet with a wonderful woman who was looking for information on the charity event I co-founded coming up next month. While I was waiting for her to finish what she was doing I scanned the catalog for books about writing a business plan. Creating a business plan has a dual purpose, a subject I will be writing about here in the next week or two, and I wanted to find a book or two to give some pointers. While I was searching different keywords I found a book that was perfect for my business plan purposes but also a few other books on marketing that sounded interesting.

I wasn't at the library location near my house so I requested the books be sent there so I could pick them up when I was ready. When I went to retrieve the three books waiting for me I wandered over to the marketing section. By the time I walked out of the library I had the contact information for the person who arranges book signings and author appearances for peaking engagements, my business plan book and half a dozen others on subjects covering marketing and the self-publishing industry. Now not only do I have the original eighty-four books I intended to read this year but I apparently felt the need to add an extra level of learning to my reading list as well.

As I go through the books on improving my writing I will cover the subjects I am learning about such as story structure, character development, story arcs, and genre-specific topics. I will also write about any marketing, publishing, speaking, or book show information I discover along my learning course. If there are any specific topics you would like me to look into and post more about please comment and I will make sure to find out as much information as I can for you.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Getting The Feel

When researching a particular hobby or location for a book it could be argued that anything you want to know can be found through Google. It's true you can find the rules for any game, the statistics of how many people are involved in a particular sport, the history of any hobby, and layout of any real location online. However you will never be able to understand how it feels to throw a baseball, climb a rock wall, scuba dive, or walk the beaches of Fiji without doing those things for yourself.

For many, having the basic knowledge is enough to write about the topic. Some people take classes to learn more in-depth information on their subjects and still other feel the need to have the personal experience. I was talking to a friend as well as my mom about the need to go visit London in order to truly understand a location where at least parts of three books in one of my series takes place. It is a trip I have been thinking about taking for over a year and I was looking at my calendar to see when I might conceivably be able to finally book the flight.

This year is out pure for the fact I will not have the money. I need to finish paying off some bills just so I can quit working my second job. That will free up some of the time issues and I can begin to set aside the money in order to travel and begin my research. I scanned next year but immediately realized that was no grid either since I have a family obligation and a planned trip with my boyfriend which will take a week or so. That should cover all the vacation time I can manage for 2019. I wasn't concerned though, I just flipped to the next year.

In 2020 I have one big trip planned. My boyfriend and I will be heading to see the Olympics in Tokyo and spending two weeks in Japan. The first week I will be showing him around the main island where I have loved visiting in the past. The second week will be in Okinawa where he was stationed while he was in the Marines. It will be an incredible trip, though it will stop any other vacations that year. That leaves the first available time for London to be in 2021.

I expressed my disappointment to my mom about the lag time and she suggested I simply forget about visiting and instead let my fingers do the walking. That way I wouldn't have to wait, was her reasoning. I pointed out though, I would rather do it right than get it done faster. I have other books  can work on between now and then. It is important I get things correct. I will never understand the sound of the accent without hearing it. I will never know the smell of the local pub without sitting down to enjoy a drink. For me the only way to get the feeling right is to have the experience myself.

Friday, January 19, 2018


In December I found myself thinking about my goals for 2018. Instead of worrying about the likelihood of accomplishing the staggering number of items on the list I just kept adding. This time I had a plan. Once I made my list (well over two full pages), I began breaking down the goals into small, monthly bite sized chunks. This made them seem far more attainable as I began the trek toward  fulfillment. I wrote out the monthly lists for January through April figuring I would assess again in April and make the next four at that time.

These first few months were then neatly tucked away in my computer bag so they would always be with me. They have indeed been with me, still where I placed them nearly two months ago. I have already broken from the original setup to try and move up the publication of my book Never Give UP from April to next month. This requires me to make a significant amount of editing progress almost everyday. I am failing.

I gave myself the deadline hoping it would spur me on but instead it feels like I added weight to an already questionable load. I announced the release of the book in order to make sure I would stick with the plan but that still has done nothing to push me forward on my progress. I began thinking the pressure might have been too much.

However it has been said that I thrive under the pressure. I compete in Nanowrimo every year simply for the deadline and its ability to force me to push past my doubts and concerns. Last year I even put together a multi-author book signing complete with venue, charity to benefit, attending authors, raffle prizes and entertainment within a short six week time period. Deadlines in some respects are my driving force. The biggest question at the moment is can I keep the same success rate with self imposed deadlines?

I know part of the ability to complete these tasks is willpower. The dedication to concentrate on the task at hand while forgoing things that may sound more desirable at the moment, holding out for the bigger reward in the end. I have always been better with the now than sticking it out for more later. This growth is part of looking at my writing as more than a hobby. It is about turning it into a potential career. Now if I can just get the next few chapters edited before I head back to the day job.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Not Losing Focus

When I first started writing seriously I was beyond excited to finish my first book. I toiled over the word choices. I wrote and rewrote sentences until I thought they were exactly the way they should be. I read through the manuscript so many times I could have recited it verbatim. I was positive I had a great book ready for the masses and all I needed to do was submit and I would be on my way to publishing dreams come true.

My beta reader went through the story, letting me know about things she liked and didn't. I edited it yet again and began submitting to agents. I sent off queries, chapters and intro pages to over three dozen agents and publishers. Slowly but surely in the months that followed I began receiving my responses. No. It was as simple as that. No one was interested. I got some good feedback from one of the publishers about word count being too short for them and not enough of their style in the storyline but otherwise it was just a simple no thank you. I was devastated. I was not defeated.

I began searching through writing groups for advice and I saw a post about a "publishing company" looking for authors. It was two girls that partnered up to call themselves a publisher but all they did was self-publish for you. I was weary to say the least but I was also desperate to see my book in print. I signed their contract and went through the process of having them edit, design a cover, and publish the book for me. It was official. I was a published author.

Then came all of the release day events, posting the links over and over on social media and trying to build a platform for my book. All the while there was something I should have paid more attention to, the book itself. Two people who constantly self-publish but don't have great sales, no plan for marketing, and are barely above amateur themselves will not make the best advisors to someone just starting out. A good friend, and wonderful author, later read my book and chatted privately with me saying she loved the story but there was a tremendous amount of editing and formatting issues that needed to be addressed.

Last year I pulled the book from Amazon in order to remove to from the control of the girl who published it in the first place. I am not under contract with her and I have seen the quality of her work in more depth. I have also seen the type of person she is and understand how bad of an idea it is to be associated with her in any professional capacity. I am not editing and will later be redesigning the cover of the book. It is terrifying to see the amount of mistakes missed and the lack of in depth editing that was done before.

I thought about heading to a coffee shop to work on this book but I am starting to believe a bar would be more appropriate. This book was my first impression for many in the publishing world. No wonder I wasn't snatched right up. I still believe in the story but I may need a few shots to get through this phase of the work. Wish me luck...send chocolate, coffee, and maybe some liquor.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Kitten's Corner - Jumping In

Hi everybody. My name is Oreo. I know the orange cat Pumpkin usually gets to talk to you but I wanted to say hello. I am new to the family. At only four months old I guess I am still kind of a baby. Mom keeps saying she feels like she was a baby when she wrote the book she is working on fixing up. I don't know what that means but she has gone through two of those red pens already.

When her and dad first adopted me I was a little nervous. I was brought to a shelter when I was only a few weeks old and spent my whole time in one cage or another. When we got here I was scared but they sat with me and played and soon I was ready to explore. It didn't take me long to find out how fun it is to try new things. I am learning all the time.

Mom talks to dad about learning too. She says every time she writes a book she learns something. She is also busy getting ready for some event that is filling the house with lots of red stuff and stacks of books. She said they are for something called a book drive. She seems to like her writing even though it means she stays in her office for a long time and drinks a lot of that hot brown stuff she calls coffee. As long as we get to have our play time I think I can let her do her work.

I am still a little skittish around people, even mom and dad when they move too fast. I play all the time and love to get the other cat's tails. I wale ays win at that game. Mom said it she is impressed that I was able to join the family so quickly. It was just a matter of jumping in. She says that is what she is doing with all of her writing stuff too. Pushing the fear aside and going for it. Maybe I will have to be a little more brave and stop hiding when people are loud or reach for me. But for now I better get going. I think I hear Pumpkin coming this way.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Less Is More

When the term editing is used around a writer we suddenly have images of giant red pens stalking us over the pages of our manuscripts. We cower at the thought of our babies being shredded by the heartless objectivity and hold our words protectively in hopes of maintaining the vision we set out to create. Yes, in the end listening to an editor who has gone through your work to find the errors you were to close to see can help elevate it but it is still a difficult ask to complete.

When I talk about editing though, I have a few different meanings. That red pen does come to mind for me as it would with almost any other author, but I am thinking more along the lines of other aspects of our careers. Some might wonder, being an author what more is there when it comes to a career? It is all about the writing isn't it? The honest answer is, sort of. Everything starts with the books but there is so much more to a full career even if in the end everything you do comes right back to that book.

Once the book is written and has gone through the dreaded original version of editing we discussed there is the preparation for publication. Here I am looking at the synopsis and cover design. The synopsis should be short and punchy. It should get you interested without giving away too much information. The cover is the same thing. I have seen covers where the author designed it to tell the entire story in one picture. First there is now no reason to read that book, you already know what happens. Second, it was so busy I swear it gave me a headache. Something simple and evocative is the much better route to go.

Marketing follows and should flow in the same vein by keeping things simple and understood. Social media promos should all have a similar theme to make sure people know it is about the same book. Images should be clear and allow the reader to understand what you are trying to promote. This goes for websites as well. Since a major part of our marketing efforts come back to our websites they should also contain that same, solid message. Everything tying together while not overdoing it with unneeded decoration or frivolous words.

After reading up on the current minimization movement and being a number of people trying so hard in the marketing efforts that the message itself got lost I realized I was doing the same thing. I am now working to simplify my message and cement my brand so all of my marketing efforts will be presented in a united front.

Saturday, January 13, 2018


When I go to book shows I have noticed a lot of authors have things beside just their books on the table. Some have a giveaway item ranging from a free copy of another one of their books all the way up to high end purses or bottles of wine. It is something used to draw people in and reward them for supporting you and your work. There are also people who have sign up sheets for their newsletter so readers can keep up with what is happening and where the author will be appearing next. Some authors even have merchandise.

I have seen authors that sell tote bags with their logo printed on the side, specialty bookmarks, jewelry that ties in with the theme of the book, and of course, t-shirts related to the author and their brand. I have a shirt that was created for an event I threw honor victims and survivors of domestic abuse. I do not sell it but I wear it with pride. it was created for me by a friend and event volunteer.

I have long thought about creating something to accompany my books and have been looking into a merchandise line as a way to help promote my books, my personal brand, and of course the additional income couldn't hurt. There are so many different ways to go about it though that it becomes a hassle sorting though the options. Should there be an online store connected to my website? Which one is the best? What do I charge for my items so I make some sort of profit? I am not great at graphic design so should I go with a stock image or hire someone to make things more custom? So many questions.

Once all of those decisions are made there is the issue of start-up capital. I think I am somewhere deep in the red on that aspect. What I have decided to do it create a business plan, complete with financing and repayment prospects and attempt to get a business loan. I know my credit may not be great but I also know I am determined to make this work so if I can just get approved I will be able to create my merchandise and set up a plan for selling it at shows and potentially online as well. Now I just need to finish the research needed to know what I am doing. Good thing I stopped by the library today. 

Friday, January 12, 2018

Self Sabotage

Whether I am training for a physical challenge, trying to pay off debt, sticking to a diet for weight management, or reaching the next level with my writing one of my biggest issues is following the plan I create. I have recently been looking at my plans for this year and with it only being the end of week two I have found struggles in several areas for reaching my goals. It isn't that I have too many things to do. Some may think that but it is really just about time management. I am capable of accomplishing everything on my list of goals.

It isn't about feeling overwhelmed at the moment. That is why I took my tremendous list of goals and broke them down month by month so I could make it easier to complete. My biggest issue is willpower and the undeniable ability to sabotage myself when I am working to make things happen.

Take my physical challenges for a start. I am training to finish five different events this year. Three of them are obstacle courses, one is a twenty-five mile bike ride (this one I have completed more than once and I am just doing again for fun, not training), and the last one is a half marathon. I am not a runner nor do I possess much upper body strength. Because of that I decided to begin walking / running a collective fifteen miles per week and take two to three classes at the gym in order to improve both my strength and cardio. Last week I finished seventeen miles and two classes. This week I am done nothing. I am dealing with a sinus infection and have successfully turned that into no workouts at all.

As for my diet, I know myself. I cannot simply give up things I shouldn't eat all together. Instead I made a deal with myself that every week I am good during the week and complete the training part I can reward myself with a guilt free dessert or treat on Sundays. The fact that I just ate a pint of ice cream for breakfast is a glaring representation of how I am doing this week.

Working two jobs to pay off my debt isn't going much better. I took a second job to give me a paycheck I can fully dedicate to removing bills such as credit cards and be more comfortable financially. However, in a one two punch to my plan, I have spent more time sick and out from my first job because of it than I have working my second job. I also ended up using a good part of that money to make the holidays better and buying things my normal budget wouldn't have allowed for. So while I have made progress, it isn't nearly as far along as it should be.

Then we come to my writing. My passion. My reason for getting up and being excited about my day. I love to write and have completed the first draft of half a dozen full length novels but now as I need to buckle down and begin editing I find ways to distract myself at every turn. I have watched television shows I use as inspiration for a series I am working on. I have dabbled in my creative baking arts. I have had meeting upon meeting for the upcoming charity event. Now as I sit here with a printed copy of the book I desperately need to edit I find my brain unable to concentrate and I just want to lay in bed and read.

Yes I thrive under pressure but I have reached the point of pressure because I need to complete the edits, rewrite and rerelease by the end of next month so I am under the gun already. To add in the time I dedicate to my training, two jobs, and spending some quality time with family in order to maintain my sanity there are those that might argue I don't truly want to be a successful writer. This is not true. I am simply a master of self sabotage and it is a battle I continue to fight. Today I am struggling but tomorrow may be a victory. I will never give in or declare surrender, even to myself.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Going Hybrid

Ever since I began writing I have held onto the dream of being a traditionally published author. I used to imagine the moment when I would receive first my acceptance letter from my new agent followed shortly by the contract from the major company eager to publish my book. I could close my eyes and see the launch party and book signings that would follow. The idea was a dream come true. Well part of that is still true, it is a dream. It also isn't the way things work anymore.

It is possible, of course, to get that acceptance letter. It is just as likely to receive a contract for publishing my book. The idea of of the launch party and book tour though are just a whisper of a dream at this point. Those things still happen but they are reserved for people like Stephen King, Jonathan Maberry, James Patterson, or JK Rowlings. These are people who can sell books simply because their name appears on the cover. I may be there someday but right now I am still unknown. It is also very difficult to reach that level and become a household name.

Many authors don't want to deal with the drama of submitting agents or negotiating contracts. They choose instead to go the independent path, also known as self-publishing. Along with not having to find an agent and hold their breath until they get an offer from a publisher there are other benefits. The two most often brought up when I speak to other authors are keeping all of their royalties and having full control. Traditionally published authors must wait a year or more to see their work released while Indie authors choose when to publish their books. They create their own covers, set up their formatting, and run their own marketing campaigns.

Because of the control though, there is no team helping design a cover with the experience to know what sells. There is no distribution channel already established for marketing and you have to know formatting before self-publishing companies will approve your book. You need to make a cover that will catch the eye of potential readers, write a synopsis to capture the attention of those readers, and find a price to give them value while making you those royalties. When it comes to marketing you have to take full advantage of every connection you have while always reaching out to make new ones.

One of the biggest concerns of readers I've found is the quality of the work. A great cover can't mask poor editing. A good story idea can't be understood if the writing style is choppy. Because anyone can self-publish there is a stigma as soon as you tell someone that is what you did. On the other hand there is a certain level of credibility when a book is traditionally published. Whether earned or not, people tend to trust something put out by a member of the big five publishing companies. There is an entire team working to put out the book when you go through a publishing company but remember, that whole team has to get paid.

After examining the pros and cons I think my best option is to actually walk both paths. By choosing certain books to submit while maintaining control an my own personal touch with others I will be a hybrid author. I will have the credibility of having a traditional publisher behind me while still having the design and elements of the books I created. I have three different names I write under and am hoping that I can keep one of those names as my own while the other two will be under the traditional publishers. It's time to start walking my dual journeys and see where it takes me.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Trying To Be Brave

For the last few weeks I have been navigating the jungle of newsletters and the delivery services available for people on a budget like myself. I am thankful I finally found one simple enough to understand and this afternoon I sent out a few test emails with positive feedback. Now I am preparing to begin sending out the monthly newsletters in a week.

It's strange that I spend all day, everyday talking to people and yet when it comes to writing a newsletter or sharing my thoughts here I find myself at a loss. I wonder sometimes if it is an odd form of stage fright. Much like a person can entertain friends in their home but when asked to make a presentation in class or at work they struggle to articulate what is happening in their minds. I don't have trouble finding words to write but I worry about the ones I choose and the topics I cover. I find myself stressing over every decision and obsessing over each potential inclusion.

Artists of all sorts tend to be an insecure bunch. Many are extremely introverted, avoiding human contact to varying levels. They are constant need of reassurance in order to believe they and their work are appreciated and desired. At times there is professional or even personal jealousies interfering with their ability to function at a normal level. I have seen authors shut down completely because they couldn't handle the idea of going out to deal with readers and critics. They openly complained about their concern someone else was playing the writing game better.

Personally I have shades of these but I do my best to reign them in. For one thing I am not introverted or anti-social in the least. I have been called a social butterfly weekly since I was a child. When it comes to speaking to crowds and striking up a conversation with perfect strangers I feel no hesitation at all. I do not vocalize often when I am jealous but I do tend to get depressed slightly when things seem easier for another author and I am struggling to understand something simple. I keep most concerns inside for the most part in order to portray the image I want the public to see.

I am insecure. That is the biggest trait I share with other artists. My newsletter is just the most recent example of something for me to worry about. Every time I publish something, whether it is a blog post or full length novel, I am exposing myself to the world and its lack of filters. Other people and their opinions may not shape my personal life but they can break me professionally. I have developed a rather thick skin from my day job but a negative review still has the power to pierce that armor. I guess I still have some more growing to do.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Knowing Your Limits

As week one of 2018 comes to a close I have already learned several lessons. As part of my goals I am working to be well rounded. I am working on paying off some bills for my financial goals, I have printed out my the manuscript next book I will be editing, and I have begun my running training. My personal ideas on how to move forward on my goals don't always line up with traditional methods.

Instead of writing one book, editing it, running through a few rounds of rewrites and a final edit, then publishing it, I have written half a dozen full length novels. They all now need to move on to the editing phase but I have to fight my desire to write other books instead because that would simply put me further behind in my publishing goals. Originally I had intended to get all of my current projects ready to be published while also finishing the first draft of three new novellas. If I were successful in doing all of this I would have a decent number of books I could have available for shows but it would also put tremendous stress on me and my time.

No one has ever made the statement that I am not ambitious. In fact my overly ambitious nature has been a topic of debate among my family and friends most of my life. I realized I may have been trying to take on too much by pushing to complete so many writing projects on such a short period of time. It is probable my work and quality would suffer if I tried to push that much. Today as I sat, combining my multiple lists of goals and ideas, I pared down to what I felt was a more achievable and focused group of goals.

The strange thing is, writing had nothing to do with my realization that I was taking on too much. It was physical training that proved to me I may be trying to take on too much. For the health and physical training side of my goals I am participating in a bike ride, half marathon, and three obstacle courses of varying lengths this year. I came up with the idea of running a collective fifteen miles each week to begin my cardio exercise. However since I only have a couple days off from the day jobs I had to push myself and do six miles one day and seven miles the following day. As someone who has never been a runner that was so much it nearly took me down for the count.

It got me thinking about doing things in a reasonable time or quantity. Running is difficult and understanding how forcing my body to do more than it was capable of doing in a healthy manner made me see how I may be trying to spread myself too thin in my writing as well. Now that I have re-evaluated what my abilities are I am hoping to begin starting to make progress crossing things off the to do list.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Starting The New Year Off Right

With the new year beginning I am examining my goals like I always do. As usual I broke down my list into three categories. I have financial, physical, and writing. I learned a long time ago setting goals to accomplish was a better mindset for me than establishing resolutions I would break eventually. I am better at crossing things off the to do list than trying to do something everyday. One of my goals that goes hand in hand with all of my writing list is being more objective.

Two nights ago I sat at my computer, preparing to print out my manuscript from my first book in order to go through it for editing. I was appalled by the amateur level not only of the writing but of the editing. I had, of course, gone through the book so many times I swore I knew it by heart. There were also three others who had their hand in the editing process as well though, and that made it all the more frustrating. Knowing the things I do now, it is painful to think I trusted them.

I was nervous to go the self-publishing route, or in this case, allow someone else to do the publishing part for me. This book is a demonstration of why I should have trusted my instincts. The cover is unclear, the font choice and size for my name are questionable, event the layout inside shows how clueless the person I believed in actually was. I admit I would have been even more lost than they were had I tried it myself but I took them at their word that they were professional with the experience needed.

I made the decision to pull my book from Amazon until I was able to fix the glaring mistakes. I just had no idea how many of them there would be. I will be sitting down to begin the next level of edits either tonight or tomorrow and will hopefully be done by the end of the month. I have learned a lot and am looking forward to stepping back and trying to look at my work through the eyes of a reader or traditional publisher. Getting Never Give Up published and back on Amazon is one of the first major goals on my 2018 list.

It also plays into one of my financial goals of achieving a royalty check large enough to pay a bill. It is something I read in Stephen King's On Writing. He said he considers a writer a success when they make enough to pay a bill. I am not concerned with paying my mortgage or even a utility bill, I would be happy to cover the water bill or have enough from one royalty check to pay for a book signing event. These are just a few of my goals for this year and I am excited to get to work on everything.