Advice to My Newbie Author Self, Part 3: The Dream vs. The Reality

Many times as a newbie author–heck, sometimes a seasoned author–we get a whack in the head, or a face-full-o-concrete from a little thing called reality. For many of us writers, the moment we type “The End” on our first full manuscript is the moment we sit back and begin to daydream about huge book tours, TV interviews, movie deals, having our favorite band write a song inspired by our novel.

Yes, I seriously imagined that last one.  🙂

The Dream Scape

At the start of our writing journey, we set goals. These goals can range from, “I’m going to snag a large, multimillion dollar contact,” to “I’m going to as famous as Stephen King, J.K. Rowling, and Danielle Steele.” Even our family and friends will say things like, “Don’t forget about us little people when you become a big and famous author.”

After thinking these goals, we sometimes sit back and imagine how our first TV interview would go. Maybe it’d be on Good Morning America. Maybe it’ll be Matt Lauer. OR … maybe it’ll be with Baba Wawa herself. Oh, that’d be so awesome, wouldn’t it?

Dreaming and imagining future interviews, movie deals, and everything in-between is okay. Day dreaming is what our imaginations do. And our imagination is what made us an artist in the first place. So turning that part of our brains off is impossible. And even if we could our imaginations off for a moment, would we even want to? Hellz no. Because we’re artists. We’re writers. And we can’t imagine going a second without the vivid imagery our brains conjure at various times of the day.

However …

At what point–and when–do we draw the line in the sand between dreams and reality?

When should we reign in our imagination? When should we begin telling ourselves, “Ya know, it’d be great to nail that TV interview with Baba Wawa. And it’d be great to sit on a movie set and watch my characters come to life. But maybe I need to think small-scale. Baby steps. How about I snag the title of published author first?”

The answer to those questions are for each of us to decide. Maybe we don’t start telling ourselves to slow our day-dreaming-roll until after we knocked down by a brutal critique. Maybe we pull our heads out of the clouds when we attend our first local RWA chapter meeting.

It doesn’t matter when we stop and come back to reality. What matters is that we do, at some point, take a look at our writing journey from a realistic standpoint.

I recently had a conversation with a mother and her oldest son. Mom told me that her youngest son wants to be a published author. Older son told me that he felt bad because he might’ve discouraged his younger brother by telling him, “It takes hard work and it doesn’t look like a goal you’ll achieve quickly.” My response? Well, I said that maybe little brother should’ve discovered that reality on his own. However, I also said, “You’re definitely right about what you said, though.”

Because that’s the reality.

Now it’s just a matter of the younger brother’s perception. If younger brother wants to become a published author bad enough, he’ll accept the reality as a challenge and face it head-on. And throughout his entire journey to becoming published, he’ll continue to dream of the day that he signs a publishing contract on a daily basis. 🙂

So the perception question is: Do we fall now? Do we face reality now, in that first moment of typing “The End?” Or do we allow ourselves to hold on to those BIG publishing dreams as long as humanly possible and run the risk of doing more damage to our hearts at a later time?

For me, personally, I wanted a cold, hard dose of reality as soon as possible. The more time I spend day dreaming of meeting Matt Lauer in person, the more my heart’s going to crumble when I realize I have a snowball’s chance in hell at that ever happening. The more I keep going through life believing I’m already the best at my chosen profession, the more I’m going to look like an idiot. And I already embarrass myself enough as it is, thank you very much. 😉

So even though I waited a little longer than I might’ve liked to get my dose of reality, I still sought out the facts and welcomed the smack of reality. Searching out articles like “Author Reality: Today’s Book Publishing Industry” is my way of bringing myself back down to earth. Which is just my style since I’ve never really been one to make large decisions without facts (in life, not writing–that’s a whole other topic). After I got the facts, I knocked a few items off my “ultimate goals” list. And now my goal list is a bit more in line with what’s realistic and possible.

Though I still dream of having Michael Sheen playing one of my first characters in a movie one day. 🙂

Michael Sheen

Yes, you will play one of my characters on the big screen one day, Mr. Sheen.

Note: The best part about being a writer on a journey like this is that there are many of us who prefer to keep that high dream alive and on the top of the goals’ list. And that is A-OK. Because we’re individuals, and what works for one of us, motivates and drives one of us to do and be our best, may not work for others.

Which means this particular debate–the dream vs. the reality–is an individual decision. One that only we can decide.

I’d love to hear from you! Which side of the scale do you fall? Do you have an ultimate goal for yourself? Did you shoot for the moon, or did you pull back a little? What was your “published author daydream” when you first began this journey?

Previous Advice to My Newbie Author Self posts:
Part 1: Patience, Young Padawan
Part 2: Buh-Bye Self-Doubt and Introverted Tendencies

Tune-In Tuesday: I’m Not Alright

I’ve been a Shinedown kick lately, so today’s song comes to us from … you guessed it, Shinedown. 😀

This song is from their latest album, Amaryllis — which I highly recommend for immediate purchase and download.

Cover for Shinedown's Latest -- Amaryllis

Cover for Shinedown’s Latest — Amaryllis

Have a listen of “I’m Not Alright”:

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Still not convinced that this album is worth immediate download? Listen to more tracks from the album over on Grooveshark. 🙂

*Tune-In Tuesday is a weekly post for musical sharing. Whatever song’s keeping you sane or lifting your spirits, please feel free to leave a comment and share. The more tunes the merrier. 🙂

I love hearing from you! What songs, soundtracks or albums are you being creative to these days?

Fancy a Good Laugh?

Today I’m interrupting my series on Advice to My Newbie Author Self to stop, breathe, take a chill pill, and have a much-needed laugh. 🙂

Here are few funnies that have gotten me rolling on the floor with laughter …

Here’s the latest from Simon’s Cat:

 

This is a little long, but I promise you, it’s hilarious. Especially if you’re a writer … and a Star Wars, X-Men, and Avengers fan. 😀

 

I re-watched Wanda Sykes’s latest stand-up special, and while the entire show was awesome and funny, this is the portion where I literally could not breathe because I was laughing so hard. **Language Warning**

 

Oh, yeah … The Big Bang Theory Flash Mob! (Psst…look for Sheldon standing next to the couch in the back.)  😀

 

Hope everyone has a fantastic Wednesday! 😀

Advice to My Newbie Author Self, Part 2: Buh-Bye Self-Doubt & Introverted Tendencies

Photo by Umberto Salvagnin via Wikimedia Commons

Two weeks ago I addressed the first piece of advice to my newbie author self: Patience, Young Padawan. This week I wanted to address another important piece of advice I believe every author, especially newbies, can benefit from: saying sayonara to our self-doubt and introverted ways. Part of the time, at least. Yes, I know, this is definitely easier said than done. 🙂

Step 1: Start with Social Media

In the WikiHow article How to Make Friends As an Introvert, the first step listed is to take a hobby you enjoy and use that commonality to find and make friends. What a concept, right? Finding other authors within a community to chit-chat with? To bond with? To exchanges ideas and insights with?

Herein lies the beauty in this day and age: With the power of the internet, we have just about every possible resource for making writing friends available at the tips of our fingers. No face-to-face meetings, no physical handshakes, no anxiety over the look or glance someone just gave us. None of that. Nothing truly sucking the energy out of us. With the online platform, we can meet and chat with others from the safety of our homes. And alone.  🙂

I like to think of the online writing community as a vast pool of authors sharing laughs, ideas, insights, knowledge, and encouragements. Come on in, the water’s fantastic!

When first starting out on social media, the best advice out there is to begin slowly. Only dip your toes in at first. Get a feel for Twitter. Learn how hashtags work and which ones to follow (i.e.: #MyWANA, #amwriting, #writetip, etc.). There’s so much information floating around—all at once, most times—that we definitely don’t want to jump in headfirst. Then we’ll feel overwhelmed and drained of all our energy.

Twitter is a fantastic opener to the blogosphere. By following fellow authors and artists and writing hashtags, we’ll get links galore! Many, many authors tweet links to blogs that have sound writing advice, interesting takes on old techniques, inspiring stories of an author’s journey to publication. After a bit of exploring Twitter and all these fantastic writing links, we’ll soon have a full-fledged blogroll built up. And again, we have another amazing route to meeting and chatting with other authors. If we feel we have something to contribute to a blog post? We comment. If we simply enjoyed the post by the author? We comment and let them know.

If we take it slowly, one small step at a time, putting ourselves out there in the writing community isn’t so bad after all. We just have to remember to take a step back and breathe in order to keep from feeling overwhelmed.

Being online is the easy part. We can be alone all day long and still have meaningful conversations while meeting new people. 😉

Step 2: Local Writing Groups/Chapters

This next step is a bit more intimidating. I took this step myself last month. Um, can you say I was shaking so bad when I arrived to my first CRW meeting that it was utterly embarrassing? 😛

There’s really no easy way to take this step. It literally is a bite-the-frickin-bullet and get-it-over-with kind of thing. However, we can make this step a little easier by:

  • Giving ourselves time to prepare. Look at the meeting schedule and decide on a future meeting. Usually if we give ourselves a month or two before a meeting, we’ll get a bit more comfortable with the idea of dropping into a room with many other authors we don’t know at first. We’ll be more focused and bit more prepared for the exhaustion that pounds against our skulls afterwards.
  • Ripping the band-aid off. Meeting new people is like ripping a superglue band-aid off. We dread it, we have anxiety over it, we want to cry, kick and scream to not have to pull that sticky crap off. This is just too tiresome. Can’t I just stick with the online stuff? Pretty please! But here’s the thing, like a band-aid, if we simply put our big girl panties on and just do it. By the time we walk through the door, another chapter member will usually recognize we’re new, they’ll introduce themselves then they’ll tell us to “have a seat and glad you’re here!” Then, suddenly, the pain and worry about being there in the first place is … gone. And we can either contribute to conversations, or we can keep to ourselves. Whichever is fine. But at least we got ourselves there. 🙂
  • Reminding ourselves that we’ll regret not going. Many writing groups and chapters hosts special guests at their meetings. Last month, I had the pleasure of meeting an editor from Kensington Publishing (and got a three-chapter request off a pitch—score!), and historical romance author Terry Brisbin. Next month, I’ll have the pleasure of meeting lawyer and literary agent, Eric Rueben. Hands down, I would’ve regretted not going to the two meetings I went to last month. I got pitch practice, the added confidence boost I needed by having an editor intrigued with my story’s premise, and fantastic ideas on how to stay motivated from an experienced author. I’d take the exhaustion from being talkative and bubbly and driving so far to the meetings over regret of not even going any and every day of the week.

Remember: Regret’s a nasty, four-horned dragon that’ll eat our writing souls if we don’t take these advantage of these small, golden opportunities.

Step 3: Stomp-Out Self-Doubt

Oh, God, they’re going to think I’m crazy. Or that I don’t know anything. Oh, it’s gonna be so obvious I’m new at this!

All of these thoughts are the work of the self-doubt. We all suffer from these thoughts. Sometimes we bow to these thoughts. And even though it’s difficult, we need to learn how to stomp these thoughts.

Whether a post-it note on your monitor, desk, or wall, a poster hanging on our office wall, a pep talk we give ourselves before getting online, writing a post, or commenting on someone else’s post, we all could use the reminder to shut down these thoughts. Some of us respond well to nice and simple notes like: “Be yourself. Nobody can ever tell you you’re doing it wrong.” And some of us may better respond to something stronger like: “Be yourself, damnit! Go with your gut! Get out there and get ‘er done! You’re frickin’ awesome!”

However we respond best should be what we seek to discover over time so that we can train our brains to not doubt ourselves as much (I’m not going to say never, because I’m almost willing to bet that even Stephen King doubts himself from time to time).

Beating the self-doubt thoughts is another fantastic positive from getting involved in the writing community. We’ll meet other authors with the same type of self-doubt-tainted thoughts. We’ll begin encouraging one another to stop thinking this way. We’ll build up each other’s confidence. We’ll build such a good rapport, that most times, we’ll become excellent CP’s or Beta Readers for one another.

And it’s an incredible feeling when a fellow author, one who’s been in your seat not too long ago, tells you, “Suck it up, buttercup! No more whining. You’re good at this! Get out there and make it happen!” 🙂

So if I leave nothing else with my newbie author self (besides patience, always have to have patience), I’d say this:

The beautiful thing about social media and the writing community is we build each other up. Because we’ve all suffered from self-doubt, from anxiety, from being overwhelmed with information and to do lists, from being new and simply not knowing any better. So when another author’s in need—newbie or not—we keep an eye out on our own and offer a helping hand. And a shoulder to cry on when times are rough. And some confetti to throw when there’s good news.

And above all else: Be true to who you are as an individual, as a writer, and as an artist. People will come to know and love the unique individual that is YOU.

 

I’d love to hear from you! Are you an introvert? What steps did you take to put yourself out there into the writing world? What was the hardest part of becoming involved for you? What are some other self-defeating behaviors? How did you overcome those?

It’s Liebster Blog Award Time! Eleven Facts About Me

HUGE thank you to Tina Moss for this Liebster Award! 😀

liebster-award

The Liebster Award gives bloggers the opportunity to share a glimpse of themselves by sharing eleven random facts, and by answering eleven questions from the nominator.

Eleven Fun Facts About Me:

  1. I’m 6’1″ and I love wearing 3-4″ heels.
  2. The hubs is 6’10”–hence the reason I wear heels in the first place. 😉
  3. I enjoy tying my characters to a corner and forcing them into spilling their guts.
  4. My favorite band of all time are The Beatles.
  5. I loathe hand-washing dishes. Blech!
  6. I’m a music junkie and know how to play the flute, the sax, and the piano.
  7. I’m also a movie junkie. Name a movie and I can guarantee I’ve seen it. My all time favorite? The Breakfast Club.
  8. I once worked as a debt collector. Not the worst job I’ve ever had, by the way.
  9. I collect dolphins and Disney snowglobes. I even have a dolphin-shaped slinky. 🙂
  10. I have an insane love of avocados. Yummers…. *runs to fix homemade guac*
  11. I’m a deep-fried southern gal at heart. Only those closest to me get a true taste of the sassy twang that can fly from my lips at a moment’s notice.

Eleven Questions:

  1. Who is the author you admire the most? Jane Austen
  2. Why to you write (in five words or less)? Writing keeps me sane.
  3. What if your favorite genre to read? Paranormal Romance–gotta love those Alpha males. 😉
  4. Who is your biggest inspiration? My husband and just about every fantastic writing and author I’ve come to know and love via the online writing community. They’re all so wonderful and they push me every single day to be better and do better.
  5. What advice would you give to new writers? Patience, young Padawan. Patience.
  6. What is your favorite hobby? Besides writing? And reading? Cooking. 😉
  7. Are you a cat or a dog person? Both, but right now we have two cats. When the backyard’s complete and a fence is put up, we’ll have an Irish Wolfhound.
  8. Where is your ideal vacation spot? Trinidad & Tobago.
  9. What is a place you want to visit, but haven’t yet? London.
  10. What is the meaning of life in one word (or number)? Hmm … Purpose.
  11. If you’re on a desert island, what are three things you must have? My Nook with many books loaded (and an endless battery supply, of course), laptop or notebook w/ pen, and a camera.

And now, in the spirit of the Liebster Blog Award, I’m supposed to select/tag eleven fellow bloggers. However, I’d like to open this award to everyone and hope that you’ll snag this opportunity to share some fun facts with all us–and, of course, answer these eleven questions:

  1. Where were you born?
  2. What’s your favorite book?
  3. What’s your favorite author?
  4. What scares you the most in life?
  5. Describe your “happy” place in three words or less.
  6. What’s your favorite movie?
  7. Favorite TV show?
  8. If you were in The Walking Dead right now, what would be your weapon of choice: shotgun, machete, bow & arrow?
  9. Speaking of noms–oh, brains!–what’s your favorite candy?
  10. Are you a coffee drinker? Or do you prefer tea?
  11. If you could have dinner with one person, famous or not, living or dead, who would it be?

The Liebster Rules:

  1. The Liebster Award is given to bloggers by bloggers.
  2. Each blogger should post 11 facts about himself/herself.
  3. Each blogger should answer the 11 questions that are asked by the nominating blogger.
  4. Choose 11 new blogger to nominate for the Award and link to them in the post.
  5. Create 11 new questions for your nominees.
  6. Go back to their page and tell them they’ve been nominated.
  7. No tag backs.

I’d love to hear from you! Would you like to participate in the Leibster Blog Award? If so, just snag the questions, copy the rules and share away!

Advice to My Newbie Author Self – Part 1: Patience, Young Padawan

When we first start venturing down the road to becoming a published author, there are many, many, many aspects of this writing life that we don’t know. Some things are fairly simple–such as writing craft techniques that’ll make your life so much easier–but others are the kind of stumbling blocks we didn’t know were there until we’ve already tripped and smacked our heads on the pavement. *re-applies ice packet to forehead* The pain! OMG, the pain!!

I set out to write an article for a project with my local RWA chapter, and in the process of writing one article, this idea manifested: What if I could go back and give myself 10 pieces of advice? What would they be?  The first and obvious answer to that, my friends, is patience. *sighs*

You mean I have to be patient? I don’t wanna be patient. I wanna be a bestselling author right now! *cries*

 patience-yoda

Yeah, about that, Mr. Yoda. We live in  a day and age where we can get just about anything instantaneously. Need a new book to read? Buy it and download it immediately. Don’t want to drive to rent a movie? Order it via your cable provider. Need something hot, fresh, and fast? Pull through the drive thru. Don’t want to do your own grocery shopping? Order your groceries online so someone else can do the shopping and load the stuff in the car for you. Oh wait … is that last one just me? 🙂

The one thing that hasn’t changed is the publishing industry. Especially traditional publishing in the time-wise sense. The publishing industry, whichever route we choose to take, has never been a “get rich quick” career. It can take years to hone our craft to the required level, and even then it’ll probably take us another year or so to snag an agent. Then some more time to snag a publishing contract. Then a bit more time before we see our book on the shelf.

In this business, I truly believe it is all about timing. The right story with the right voice hitting the right agent or publisher at just the right time.

Self-Publishing’s No Different

The market’s competitive on the self-publishing end. And in order to have a competitive edge, we’ve gotta do the work, build our audience from the ground up, and invest in our product. The patience factor comes in when we, again, spend years honing our craft, take the time to find the right editor and cover artist, and then, if we don’t want to hire someone else to do it, we need to learn how to pull our hair out format our novel. (Note: I haven’t ventured into self-pubbing myself, but this is what I’ve deduced from the conversations I’ve had with those who have. 🙂 ).

So What Do We Do In the Meantime?

Ah, now that’s a great question! All of the advice we’ll find out there says that we should write. Just write, that’s all. But there’s more to it than just writing. Writing’s just the start to avoiding the impatience monster.

When I first thought about how to put this advice in the best way possible to my newbie author-self, I immediately went back to this fantastic post from Kristen Lamb last month on embracing the meantime. The basis of my ideas on what worked best for me still fall inline with Kristen’s. I just ended up putting them into a different format. Then I tweaked a few things here and there to give myself a few more ideas on what to do whenever I got stuck. Then I ended up posting these on the wall in my writing space so I wouldn’t forget. 🙂

So, during the wait, here’s what I’ve been doing in the meantime–starting with WRITE:

  • Write through the wait: Plot and write the next book. This is the basis of why we do what we do. We LOVE to write. This is the key to keep trucking down the road to publication. Tina Moss wrote about this very thing last week (and she moved forward 😉 ).
  • Reach out: Talk, socialize, chat, email, etc. with the writing community. Both Tina and Kristen’s posts suggest reaching out to our fellow writers. Other writers will have been there, done that, and got the shot glasses. Who better to understand our frustrations with patience than someone’s been through it before? But it’s not just about finding someone to complain to (which shouldn’t be why we’re on social media, by the way), it’s about networking and creating lifelong relationships with others who understand our journey better than anyone else–even our significant others.
  • Ignore the impatient monster: When the impatience monster creeps in, keep busy. Ignore him. He does not deserve our attention. We can ignore him by moving forward, or by reading a book in our chosen genre (research, right? 😉 ), by re-designing our website (heh), by taking a writing class, by talking shot on the phone with our critique partner for give hours, or by learning a new writing technique … and so on, and so on. Never allow the learning to stop. There’s always more to learn. We’ve just gotta be ready and open to embrace the new knowledge and wisdom of others. If we’re doing that, then we’re too busy to even worry about waiting.
  • Take a break:  This is the perfect time to watch a movie, catch up on our TV shows, go work on the garden we’ve been neglecting, or do that fancy new workout program we’ve been dreading dying to try. Movies and TV shows don’t have to be simply for entertainment. If we tune in the writerly part of our brain while watching, we’ll learn what to do–or what not to do–in our work (plots, characterizations, body language, dialogue, etc.). And we might want to forewarn the fam before they sit and watch TV and movies with us. 😉
  • Encourage and give: I’m a firm believer in encouraging others and giving more than we take (and I’m still working to become even better at this). And the impatience monster? He doesn’t like it too much when we busy ourselves by talking and encouraging other writers, nor does he like it when we give more of our time than we take from others. So the waiting period is a good time to offer a Beta Read for a fellow writer. Or be one of those shoulders to cry on when another writer is frustrated with their wait, or when they receive a rejection letter, or when their plot just isn’t working, or when a character refuses to open up. With both of these routes, we’ll not only be helping another writer in need, we’ll also learn LOADS more about ourselves and our writing than we ever thought possible. 🙂

So when impatience starts creeping in and we’re getting agitated about not seeing a huge improvement in our progress toward publication, we should practice patience and WRITE

Because if we don’t have the patience of an insane nutbag saint, the road to publication will be bumpier than the country dirt roads of the Carolinas.

And besides, waiting is fun. It’s the in-between time that we should be enjoying because that’s where the magic truly happens. 😉

I’d love to hear from you! How do you practice patience? Do you find it difficult, or is it starting to get easier with each new project? What would be your first piece of advice to your newbie-self?

Tune-In Tuesday: Salt

When it comes to creating, writing and editing, most of us writerly types tend to lean on movie soundtracks. And the one movie soundtrack that I’ve been leaning on these days is Salt.

Here’s a quick sample:

Taser Puppet – SALT (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)

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Like what you heard? 

I’ve uploaded the entire soundtrack to my Grooveshark playlist page. Enjoy! 🙂

*Tune-In Tuesday is a weekly post for musical sharing. Whatever song’s keeping you sane or lifting your spirits, please feel free to leave a comment and share. The more tunes the merrier. 🙂

I love hearing from you! What song or soundtrack are you being creative with these days?

Springtime & Starting Fresh: New Site, New Blog, New Lessons

SpringtimeIt’s Springtime again! Woo hoo! Time for Spring-cleaning, warmer weather (if Mother Nature cooperates *shakes fist*), and fresh blooms.

If you think about it, New Year’s and Springtime both have a few things in common: Both are times to start fresh, begin anew, get rid of the clutter in your home and/or life, and to revamp, rethink and reboot.

And that’s exactly what I’ve been up to this past month: starting fresh, revamping, rethinking and rebooting. 🙂

 

Starting Fresh With a New Site

Okay, so it’s not exactly starting “fresh”, but it’s close. 😉

During the final session at WANACon, Jami Gold did a quick rundown of the differences between WordPress.com (the free version) and WordPress.org (the paid/self-hosted version). This particular topic got my brain turning on the possibility of making the move to WordPress. So from there, I contacted Jami’s TechGuy, Jay with TechSurgeons, and started the process of “testing” out a WordPress powered, self-hosted site.

Since WANACon, Jami has posted more information about author sites, such as “Do Authors Need a Website and Blog?” and “What Should an Author Website Include?” She’s even had guest posts surrounding this topic, such as “Switching from Blogger to WordPress—Guest: Natalie C. Markey”, “Does Your Site Welcome Disabled Readers?—Guest: Linda Adams”, and “Is Your Site Secure? Tips from a TechGuy”.

And for those writers who aren’t quite sure where to start on developing a website and blog, Jami has two workshops coming up this month at WANA International where she teaches students how to start their website/blog (whether it be the free WordPress route, or the self-hosted route). For more information on her upcoming workshops, click here.

So, with all this information floating around, it’s like the universe was sending some kind of sign. “Make the move, Melinda,” it said. “Go for it!” I sucuumb easily to peer pressure, so I decided to make the leap from Blogger to WordPress. There are a few other–more legitimate–reasons as to why I made this decision, and I’m going to get to those on Thursday. But believe me, the leap was worth it and I couldn’t be happier with my decision. 😀

So as of next Monday, I’ll have a new interwebz home. *tapes up last moving box* Look for the link next week so you can come join me over there. 😉

Starting Fresh With a New Blog

Again, not entirely starting fresh since I’ve been able to move all my Blogger posts over to the new site, but again, it feels so fresh!

Something about changing locations, moving into a new home, reorganizing your desk, buying a new wardrobe and moving websites gives us such a sense of newness that we can’t help but think, “Fresh start. New beginning. Yay!”

So over on the new site I’ve made a commitment to post at least three times a week—Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. Even though blogging isn’t new to me (dang, I just checked my calendar and I’ve been doing this for 3 years next month. O.o), my thinking and approach have both drastically changed. Drastically.

I recently finished reading Kristen Lamb’s book, Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer, and I have to say that Kristen’s approach to blogging was so truthful and so spot-on that it hurt. Hurt! But in SUCH a good way. If you don’t have a copy of her book, go buy it and devour it. Now. 🙂

Starting Fresh with New Lessons

We’re never going to get anywhere unless we learn. Unless we fall down, pick ourselves back, and learn a lesson from what caused us to fall face-first into the mud.

  • If these last eight months have taught me anything it’s this:
  • Nobody’s perfect
  • We all make mistakes. It’s what we do to learn from them that sets us apart.
  • Nobody ever got anywhere being negative all the time. <– This is my Southern ‘Tude coming out, by the way. 😉
  • Becoming a published author is a marathon, not a one-mile sprint.

So with a new site and blog, I’m looking forward to sharing the failures, lessons, and triumphs I’ve made over the course of my journey in a positive light.

Blogs may be “ours” and a place to share “our writing journey”, but the posts won’t do much unless they have something to offer the reader. It’s the same with our novels—if we can’t provide entertainment or an escape, give the reader a sense of belonging and understanding, or teach them something new or a different way to think and/or do things, then why are they going invest in us? Why are they going to spend time and money to allow our words into their hearts and minds?

So here’s to start fresh with a new site, a new blog to call home, and new lessons (and what I’m sure will be many, many more before it’s all said and done)!

What about you? Have you thought about moving your website and/or blog? What lessons have you recently learned? What are you looking forward to the most this Spring?

 

Valentine’s Day Dos and Don’ts – A Guide for Writers & The Ones Who Love Them

With Valentine’s Day arriving this week – where the hell did the month go? – I started thinking on what would be the *perfect* Valentine’s Day gift for a writer. This was both good and bad. Good because I discovered there were many items that I think would make a great gift. Bad because there are a few reminders I had to strategically place throughout the house to ensure Thursday went off without a hitch in this house. 🙂
So I threw all of these little notes and yes-that’d-be-perfect items and figured I’d share … you know, just in case anyone wanted to maybe print the lists out and strategically place them in front of our spouses. 😉

Valentine’s Day Dos (for the author’s significant other):
  • Do buy flowers. They freshen up our writing space and urge the muse into creativity.
    • Word of caution: If your significant other’s like me and has a bad habit of knack for forgetting to water the flowers, you may want to opt for some lovely, bright, fake flowers instead.
  • Do Snag Us an Awesome Candle. Like flowers, a spicy and/or exotic scent in our writing space can also do wonders for our muses. Chocolate scented candles anyone? 😉
    • For tips on the best scents to purchase for an artist, check this out.
  • Do Get Us a Gift Card. Gift cards to Barnes & Noble and Amazon are ALWAYS welcome! ALWAYS needed!
    • What? You didn’t know many authors spend oodles of money at the bookstore? 🙂
  • Do Get Creative with Homemade Coupons for Peaceful Writing Time.
    • I don’t have kids – yet – but I know many, many authors/writers who do. So why not have the kids make a coupon book for their writerly parent?
      • Tip: Be sure to include at least 3 coupons for at least 4 hours of quiet writing time. Translation: Be prepared to take the kids for lunch and a movie for a few Saturdays. 🙂
Valentine’s Day Don’ts (for authors):
  • Don’t Plan to Write on Valentine’s Night. Unless you’re up against a deadline, don’t make any plans to write, be on Twitter, blog, edit, or any of that other writerly stuff. Simply enjoy the night with your loved one!
  • Don’t Even LOOK at a Book Until Your Date’s Up. Even if it’s a pleasure-reading novel, don’t look at it, don’t pick it up, don’t start reading it until after your Valentine’s night is through. If you’re anything like me, then the rest of the night will be filled with you saying, “Just one more chapter, honey.” 🙂
  • Don’t Forget to Leave Your Work Worries at Work. Whether you’ll be writing all day and didn’t make your daily wordcount, or you’ll be at the office having a stressful day because this and this and that and that went haywire, don’t bring it on your Valentine’s night with you. Leave it at home if you’re going out, or leave it at the door if you’re eating in. Find something else to talk about over dinner besides work if you can.

And that pretty much sums it up! Now I’m going to print this out and lay a few copies around the house in hopes that I’ll be writing beside beautiful flowers, smelling chocolate chip cookies via candle flame, buying the next book in Gena Showalter’s Lords of the Underworld series, and doing all of that in perfect peace while the kitties are locked up with the hubs for a few hours on Saturday.

Yup … for authors it’s dream big or go home! 😉

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone!
Melinda

This Week in Favs…Is Retiring (For Now)

Photo Credit

After a lot of thinking, and thinking, and thinking, I have decided that it’s time for me to temporarily retire my Week in Favs posts.

This decision has been in the works for quite a while – since November, actually – and it wasn’t until I read Stina Lindenblatt’s post announcing that she was retiring her Cool Links Friday posts, that I finally decided to retire my post as well.

Stina’s reasonings mirror my own, and so once again, I felt a little relieved at knowing WE ARE NOT ALONE. I also felt a little sad because I enjoy sharing the best posts of the week with my fellow writers.

But the time has come to buckle down and concentrate on my writing. With the additional four to five hours a week that I would normally spend on perusing the blogging world for the best writing posts I can find, I’ll be able to concentrate on not only my writing, but also on bringing all of you better quality writing posts. And maybe some more music posts. And maybe some movie posts.

So… today I will not say ‘goodbye’ to This Week in Favs. Instead, I will say ‘goodbye for now’ because I’m sure that somewhere down the road I’ll end up missing it and will end up incorporating the posts back into my schedule. Not sure when, but it’ll always remain an option for me.  🙂

Thank you for understanding, and for visiting my blog on Friday’s to catch up on the great posts our fellow authors have written throughout the last year and a half. *BIG HUGS*

My blogging schedule will now be Tuesdays and Fridays. Tuesdays I’ll continue to reserve for writerly posts, and Fridays I’ll now reserve for fun stuff – music, movies, and anything else my heart desires that week. 🙂

As always, Happy Reading & Writing, Everyone!!!
Melinda