Saturday, November 30, 2013

I’m not a NaNo Winner…


But I’m not a loser either.
I joined National Novel Writing Month with every intention of completing my 50,000 word-count goal for my third novel by November 30th and realistically, it was very possible.  It should have been a breeze for me to complete my desired word count, considering the fact that I haven’t had to plug away at a day job all month long.

Even so, I’ve had less available days to write this month than I anticipated, mostly due to how I was feeling health-wise or because of extra time I got to spend with family.  The first half of November was not very productive in the writing department at all so the last half of the month I’ve had to try to make up for lost time.  And it hasn’t been easy.
So why doesn’t it bother me that I didn’t “win” my NaNo certificate?

I’ll tell you why…
Because I feel like a winner regardless of whether or not I made my word count.  I didn’t meet my goal of 50,000 words but I did start writing my third book.  I put words to a page and have made pages into chapters and I’m moving ahead with another fun story plot and a set of circumstances I will enjoy watching Jorja tackle in her own way. 

Not only did I get a good start on my third novel, I’ve also been working on another project that required more of my immediate attention due to the timeframe I have to complete it.  While I may have made the word count on my third novel if I hadn’t decided to tackle something else at the same time, how can I feel like a loser when I’ve been able to use my spare time to work on not one, but two important writing projects? 
No, I don’t feel like a loser just because I didn’t “win” NaNoWriMo this year.  I proved to myself I’m capable of the task, even if I have to plug away nightly after busy work days as I did last year.  This year didn’t pan out – that’s just the way it goes. 

And I won’t complain one bit. 
This year, November was not all about working and writing.  Instead, it’s been about writing when I can as I focus on getting healthy and take advantage of the opportunity to spend more time with my family.

If that isn’t a win-win situation, I don’t know what is.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

A day to Reflect like no other

Another year has come and gone, another holiday season soon to pass, and another Thanksgiving is now upon us when we will gather to eat good food, spend time with family and friends, watch football (at least in our house), and take time to reflect on what we’re most thankful for.
Last year was my first Thanksgiving Day post and what I was thankful for then, I’m still very thankful for now.  The only change in circumstances for me was my health, which took a turn soon after that post but has recently been remedied, for which I am very thankful. I look forward to much better health in the coming year. 

The last few months of each year tend to bring out thoughts and emotions like no other time of the year.  We begin with giving thanks on Thanksgiving while spending time with family, move on to Christmas where we continue to appreciate time spent with family, especially children and grandchildren, until we reach the end of the year when we make New Year’s resolutions and promise to ourselves that this time next year, things will be even better.
Thanksgiving is not a time for regrets or negative thoughts.  It is a time for reflection…being thankful for what we have now and embracing what’s ahead of us, as well.  Time passes so fast and things can change so quickly.  We need to hold tightly to the good things in our lives and be very thankful for them, never taking them for granted. 

But why do most wait until these seasonal months to focus on being thankful for what they have?  Maybe it’s because, for many, the holidays tend to sugarcoat life so that we can shelve our stresses for awhile.  For those on Facebook, have you noticed the trend every year when people share something every day in November that they’re thankful for?  This doesn’t happen any other time of the year.  Are we thankful the other months of the year?  Of course, we are.  We just don’t voice it any other time of the year like we do now.  Should we find a way to show how thankful we are during the non-holiday months?  We definitely should and it would be especially nice for those closest to us who we are most thankful for -- but we tend to forget to express those feelings on a regular basis when we’re working against the daily grind and stresses of life. 
“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest
appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” 
~John Fitzgerald Kennedy~

While we tend to show more gratitude this time of year, the idea is that we should remember to show our appreciation and be thankful every other day of the year.  Alas, we are human, and we tend to lose ourselves and our good intentions in the hustle and bustle of things.  That’s why this holiday is not just about the food, football and fully satisfied bellies at the end of the day.  Thanksgiving does for us what we tend to forget to do for ourselves and for others on a regular basis…it forces us to focus on what’s really important and reminds us how important it is to focus on what we’re thankful for.
Cheers and have a wonderful holiday.


Saturday, November 23, 2013

Fight the Fear, Find the Faith

I’ve had way too much time on my hands lately. 
However, it’s allowing me the time I need to write, not just one book, but two (I decided to work on another project simultaneously) and it’s allowed me to try to catch up on other tasks, as well.  One of those tasks was to more closely research advice offered by others with regard to branding and marketing my books.  As I have poured through the overload of articles and other information I’ve had on hand about writing, branding, marketing and publishing, I’ve also had more time to re-evaluate what I’m doing and why I’m doing it.
Fight the Fear, Find the Faith

What am I doing?

I’m writing books in my spare time. 

Why am I doing it?

I have a passion for putting stories together and   sharing them for others to enjoy.

Another area of my writing life I’ve looked at more closely is why I began this blog in the first place.  Initially, it was to finally share my passion to write, which I had kept secret from even those closest to me.  I also knew that sharing my secret would help keep me accountable as I moved forward towards publishing.

But why did I keep it a secret for so long? 


The only answer I can come up with is the four-letter word…fear.  The fear I had of sharing more of myself than I was willing to.  The fear I had of what others might think.  The fear I had that others might not take me seriously.  And, probably most important, the fear I had of what would happen if I began what was potentially a monumental task, only to fail with a flop at the end.    

I pushed past that fear and began this blog to share my secret with the hope that others would understand my passion and the fact that I decided to wake up and live my dream to write.  I have a true passion to write and I wanted that to come out in my writing, both in my books and here on my blog, and I hoped that others would follow me on my journey not only because they enjoyed what I wrote but because they were rooting for me to succeed.

But there was also another, very important reason I began this blog. 

While many of the posts on my blog are pep talks to motivate myself as I climb the writing and publication ladder, I also hoped to share my experiences with others so that they might also get the itch to possibly jump in feet first to live their own dreams.  In fact, the third post on this blog was about that very thing: don’t let life rule your passion.    

Everyone has a passion, or a dream, which would undoubtedly add fulfillment to their lives.  You can call it a bucket list if you want but for the most part, I believe most people never find the time to really do what they’d like to do before they leave this Earth.  Time (find it), kids (take them with you or ask them to help), work (don’t live to work), money (sacrifice and save)…whatever it is, we find plenty of reasons not to experience what we’re passionate about and before we know it, we’re 80 and wondering where the time has gone.  Whether it’s to write a book, start a side business, travel to a foreign country, learn another language, go on a cruise, climb a mountain or swim with sharks, the reasons not to go after a dream should not outweigh your passion to experience them.  The trick is letting the passion take hold and finding the time to make your dreams come true. 
While my original motto when I began this blog was “Don’t let life rule your passion,” I have now added another:  “Fight the Fear, Find the Faith.”  I pushed past the fear when I exposed myself and my passion to write but to continue as I have the past few years, I’ve also had to keep faith in myself.  Whenever the fear tries to take hold, I push it back with a true belief and faith in myself and what I can accomplish.

For those who have already pushed past the fear and have moved ahead with your dreams, would you care to share them and how the experience has changed you?  For those who have a passion for something they’ve put off for one reason or another, I hope you fight the fear and find the faith.  If you do, I wish you good luck in your next venture! 


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Preparing for holiday sales potential

Unbelievably, I am now moving into the third week of a six-week hiatus from my day job and only now do I believe I’ll be able to get back on a decent schedule when it comes to my writing and other book-related tasks, including my blog.  That’s the plan, anyway.
I’ve enjoyed getting back into the heads of my characters and back into the story surrounding Jorja and her friends.  But as I write, there’s always the business side to writing that I can’t ignore.  I’ve spent a lot of time lately going over my Amazon author stats, keeping up-to-date with my current sales on all channels available to me and as I work on my third novel, Ties that Bind, I’m also playing around with ideas on how to continue to market No Mother of Mine and Best Kept Secrets.

If there’s a good time to promote a product, the holiday season is certainly it.  I’ve had plenty of time to read lately so I’ve been catching up on articles I’ve had on hand which offer tips and all kinds of ideas about marketing.  There’s a lot of advice out there and there’s no way to do it all but I hope to glean some good ideas that will work.
In the meantime, I’m using what I have available to me.  I had forgotten that the Kindle version of Best Kept Secrets is part of the Amazon Matchbook program, which means anyone who has already purchased or plans to purchase a print copy of the book can also buy the Kindle version for only $0.99 cents.  While I don’t anticipate readers clamoring to obtain both print and eBook copies, at least it’s an option I can offer them.

And because Best Kept Secrets was enrolled with KDP Select (another Amazon program), I can take part in a new promotional tool Amazon just recently made available to authors called the Kindle Countdown Deal.  This tool allows me to offer a limited-time promotional discount for the Kindle version of Best Kept Secrets.  Currently, I will be offering the promotional discount on the following schedule:
·         Saturday, Nov. 30 at 8:00 a.m. the eBook will be available for $0.99 until…

·         Sunday, Dec. 1 at 4:00 p.m., at which time the eBook price will move up to $1.99 until…

·         Tuesday, Dec. 3 at 12:00 a.m., the price will increase to $2.99 until…

·         Wednesday, Dec. 4 at 8:00 a.m., at which time the eBook will revert back to its original price of $3.99.
I’m not completely certain, and I hope I’m wrong, but I believe this promotion is only available in the U.S.  I apologize if that is the case but even based on only U.S. sales, I’m very curious to see how this promotional tool plays out. 

Since No Mother of Mine is not enrolled in KDP Select, I can’t offer the same promotional discount through a Kindle Countdown Deal but I am going to look into offering the eBook at a discounted price on both Amazon and Barnes & Noble sometime soon.  I’ve read blog posts by other authors who have played around with their list price so I guess it’s about time I try it for myself so I can watch what happens with my author stats. 
This time last year, I was more focused on making it through National Novel Writing Month as I plowed through regular work weeks, prepping for the holidays and spending time with my family in December after having spent all my free time on the computer in November. 

This year, things are different so that my focus can also be different.  Even if I can play around with just a couple of marketing ideas per week, I look forward to the potential benefits when the promotion is pushed during the holiday season.  As a newbie author, I need to do what I can to continue to get my name out there as I keep this in mind:
“Success does not consist in never making blunders,
but in never making the same one a second time.” 

~Josh Billings~
Through trial and error, I will learn what works, and what doesn’t, which will help me this time next year when I’m busy promoting my third book along with the first two.  I’ll continue to keep you posted on how things go.


Thursday, November 14, 2013

When life forces a pit stop

I wrote a post recently about slowing down and I’ve also come across a few posts by other bloggers about taking a step back and evaluating where you’re at with what you’re doing before moving forward with more focus.   Guess it’s that time of year when everyone begins to feel a little out of sync after another crazy, busy year.
It’s great when you can decide when it’s time to slow down; it’s quite another when it’s forced upon you.

But that doesn’t mean it’s a terrible thing, either.  Some people (as I point to myself) might not always know when it’s time to slow down.
Tomorrow we’ll be halfway through the month of November and I’ve had to take the first half of this month very slowly.  No choice.  Period.  It’s a fact and one I’ve had to become resigned to whether I like it or not.

I honestly can’t recall the last time I got this much rest in a two-week period…ever.  But even when I’m resting, my brain won’t stop working.  For that reason, I’m left with an overwhelming urge to get stuff done.  I have a book to write, a 50,000 word count goal I’m trying to reach for National Novel Writing Month, posts to share on my blog, Facebook pages to catch up on, books to read, a house to clean (thanks to my hubby, that hasn’t been my chore since Halloween J), e-mails to catch up on, two other books to continue promoting, and a few other projects that need my attention.
Yikes – maybe I shouldn’t have made that list.  I can feel my heart race as I think about all I want to get done and how far behind I feel.  These thoughts and more are always roaming about in my head so now I know why I woke up at 5:30 this morning and couldn’t get back to sleep…

Of course, we can only do what we’re capable of at the time and for me, my health is more important than forcing a timeframe on projects that will still be there when I’m able to get to them.  I just have to remind myself of this daily to avoid doing more than I should.
No matter how long my task list is, this month I'll adjust to the fact that I’m moving like a turtle rather than a hare, but while I’m not moving too quickly or completing tasks daily, like the turtle I will continue with determination and come out a winner.  As the turtle says to the hare, “Slow and steady wins the race!” 


Saturday, November 9, 2013

I May be Down but Not Out

You may have wondered where I’ve been, both here and on my Facebook page, ever since my last post the day before Halloween.  As always, I have a good excuse for my absence and this one is a whopper. 
When I began my blog just under two years ago, I intended to share whatever I could about the writing life of a newbie author.  I planned to share the ups and the downs and my intention has always been to share my experiences and my thoughts about those experiences.  I want others to know me not only as a writer and an author but also as a person who they can relate to and enjoy reading about on a regular basis. 

While I like to keep certain elements of my personal life private, there comes a time when your personal life seeps into the equation when you’re a blogger, especially when it affects your ability to write.  As of today, I should be nine days into my third novel while competing in National Novel Writing Month. 
Instead, I’m way behind.

Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to spend the required time in my office and on my computer in order to diligently plug away at the first 50,000 words of my third novel.  Today is actually going to be the first real good day of writing I’ll be able to get in so far this month.  As much as I have wanted to write, I’ve had no choice but to take some time off while I lay low since undergoing surgery on Halloween.
You heard that right…surgery…on Halloween.  I said it was a whopper, didn’t I?

It isn’t exactly where anyone wants to spend their Halloween but that’s the way it goes.  It was no treat but thankfully no tricks were in play either, as I underwent surgery and spent some time in the hospital.  I’m doing well and am now at home resting per doctor’s orders.  I’ll work on the novel as I can and for those who have finished my second book and are anxiously waiting for me to complete the third, I may be down but I’m certainly not out.  I promise I’ll be working hard on this next novel as I’m able and I’ll be doing my best to catch up on my word count for the writing contest, as well.  There are times when life’s obstacles get in the way of upcoming expectations but I refuse to let them hinder me from attempting to achieve my goals. 
As always, thanks for following and I’ll continue to share my progress as I move along with the next novel. 

Until next time…