Posted in book news, Marketing, The Currents, The Writer's Life, Uncategorized, Writing & Publishing

January Recap & February Goals…

From the writer’s desk.

I always said that I wanted this blog to be a window into my corner of the world. So, this year, I’m trying something a bit different with the blog. Along with various articles, I’m going to share some of my process in creative living. I’m big on motivation and inspiration here, but I admit that there is also another side to this way of living and that includes setting realistic goals and getting the work done.

January was a month of resets for me. It didn’t quite feel like the fresh start it normally does. This is perhaps because there were still some big things looming over the newness of it all. There was, for many, still a great deal of anxiety and unclear direction with how to deal with life. The world has changed and it seems that there will never be a sense of normal again. It has me questioning what will be normal as I figure out my own next steps. I didn’t hit all my goals for January. However, I did make some hefty progress and get a sense of direction that I desperately needed.

Work on the new series is coming along nicely. I’m about to the stage where I can start developing the cover art and deciding when to release it to the public. Before I do that, I’m going to make some changes in my process and try to use feedback from pre-release readers to make it better. More on that later though.

In the meantime, I’ve started a sale over on Amazon for the ebooks of the Slauson Cove Series. You can find it here on my Amazon Author Page. And be sure to follow me on Facebook, Instagram, or Mewe if you would like to get the play by play on promotions. Ebooks are on sale for $4.99 right now through February 14, 2021 at Midnight.

I’m still learning how to navigate all the promotion parts that Amazon has. But, hiring a PA to handle that side of the business isn’t in the budget. So, I’ll flounder about until it is an option and figure it out as I go.

February feels a bit different for me. I’m full of ideas, optimism, and looking into virtual options to interact more with readers and other writers. The idea of a YouTube channel hasn’t left my brain yet. I am just not that comfortable on camera and I am too critical of myself when I edit. So, I think that if I do it (at all) it will be more of a vlog and livestream option to involve myself in building a virtual community to talk about creative things, life, and maybe review some products. Thinking in terms of write-a-longs, maybe a virtual writer’s retreat could be an option. We’ll just see. I’m brainstorming that still.

Also on the list for February is:

  • get some merch together for Slauson Cove to offer online
  • get stock in for signed copies you can order through my website
  • I also need to get a PO Box or mailbox somewhere so that I can send and receive packages easier.
  • Book more in-person events for the year to promote books
  • Get new signage and business cards in for those events
  • And of course, sell some books, get some new reviews, and do some promotion for the work out there.
  • Finish my 2nd draft for the new series and create some promo & teasers for that.
  • Also start outlining for a personal development book that I’ve had an idea for.

Yep, it’s a busy and short month to get it all done in. I also still have course work to finish. We’ll see if I can tick those boxes off this month. Right now I’m motivated. It is keeping that momentum going that gets tricky.

Do you have any tips and tricks for helping to stay motivated?

Posted in Creative Living, Lessons Learned, My Process, The Writer's Life, Uncategorized

What to do when things get out of control…

Just when you think you have it all figured out, life throws you curve balls. I consider that to be a universal fact of life. Sometimes those curves are big ones like finding yourself single again after many years of marriage or you have a life-altering accident. Other times, those curves are anticipated, normal, and even just a natural process of life. Consider options like sending the last kid to college, empty nests, retirement, or becoming a grandparent. Change is inevitable. Sometimes, it can overwhelm and cause us to feel completely out of control of our lives. What we do in those times is defining of our characters. And I want to explore some practical ways that I have dealt with feeling like I had no control and got back on track.

Strategy One

Taking to the Journal
Photo by Kaboompics .com on Pexels.com

The first thing I do is take to my journal. No, not the blog. I know this often reads like a journal. It is meant to. I do keep a personal hand-written journal that I put my thoughts down in with something that feels like a regular interval to me. It is a place to vent frustrations, talk to myself without feeling silly, and generally explore things that are deeply personal and troubling. Believe me when I tell you that, in the last year, my journal has been put through the wringer. There’s a lot of fodder in those pages. With the lockdowns, starting school, being laid of, the pandemic, and all the riots and political and social unrest there was a lot to unpack this year. Clearing out the mess in my head is beneficial in allowing me to see where there are obstacles and where I’m just overreacting. They are also useful in identifying opportunities that I can pursue.

Being a creative individual, I tend to find a wealth of interests to pursue. So, I’m prone to making lists of ways that I could change things up in my life. Sometimes that’s new hobbies to try or places I want to travel and see. Sometimes it’s about changing my environment or routine. The journaling process helps me to figure out options and to work on making decisions. Sometimes, I write a hypothetical scenario about each option and see where it could lead me and that helps. Just remember to be realistic when you write those scenarios. Consider doing two versions; one where it is perfect and everything goes right for you and the other where everything goes wrong. This is just an exercise. Chances are taking any of your options will land somewhere in the middle of these two. Doing this will help you decide what is likely to be next for you.

Strategy Two

Making Lists

We can’t always change our goals. Long-term goals are often lofty and worthwhile but it is easy to lose our motivation and direction with them. To that end, we often have to remind ourselves why we took on that goal and then decide what we can do to stay the course. I’m sure we’ve all been there at some point. I end up there frequently, if I am perfectly honest. Sometimes a book idea isn’t panning out as I planned it. Other times, I just lose interest in a project. Day jobs get boring or unfulfilling. Making lists is a way to help realign with your visions and your goals.

Yes, you can make a list of new things to try or new goals to consider, if that makes it easy for you. But, I think more of this step when I want to continue my work on goals I have previously set. This means it is time to revisit those goals and evaluate where I am in the pursuit, evaluate the next steps to those goals, and then, put down actionable steps I can take to move into the next level.

Photo by Miesha Maiden on Pexels.com

For example, I’m in the process of writing a new book to release (hopefully in the spring). I am also looking at new avenues for promotion of the books I already have on the market. (You can find them here.) So, those two goals, while entertwined, require separate courses of action to reach them. My checklists may look something like this:

For Writing
  • Finish research on setting/location for (book)
  • Complete character sketches for main recurring characters
  • Character sketch for main antagonist
  • Complete mapping/details for primary settings
  • Write Chapter 1-3, 4-6, 7-10 to complete part one.
For Marketing
  • Create New Graphics for Ads
  • Start gathering elements for book series trailer video
  • Research contacts for promo spots & interviews
  • Book Vending Space for Comicon, Paracon, and Local Festivals
  • Inventory Book Stock
  • Order new business cards & promo materials
  • Post to social media for sales
  • Create & pay for ad campaigns
  • Start a list of contacts for Series launch partnerships.

These steps are all things that will help me to reach bigger goals for sales and for producing more content for my readers. You can apply this to your own goals though. Want to start a business? What do you need to do? Are you a student? What are your next steps to finish a paper or study for a class? Want to do more volunteer work? Where, with who, and how can you do that? Taking up a new creative hobby? Make lists of supplies to purchase over time, classes to take, tutorials and videos that will help you learn, or plan a project list you want to do. Trying to be more social? Make lists of events to attend where you can meet people or friends to reconnect with over zoom, phone, or emails. Plan a get-together or meet up if you can.

Strategy Three

Focus On Self-Care

Look, the last year has been rough on everyone. It’s okay if you don’t feel okay right now. In the midst of all this pandemic isolation and mask craziness, we’ve all changed how we’re living our lives. So many found these changes jarring and difficult to deal with. Many of us lost jobs. Many were forced to be without things that made them happy or able to escape the mundane for a while. For introverts, this was a bit less jarring. We like our houses and limited interaction with the outside world. Even introverts, like me, have been left feeling out of sorts and at a loss for how to deal with all the changes to our lives that don’t seem to be lifting at all. So, focus on what you can control.

Photo by Madison Inouye on Pexels.com

Take a moment to consider what you can do to take care of yourself. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What do I need to feel better about my appearance?
  • What would make me feel better about my health?
  • What do I need to feel better spiritually?
  • What do I need to feel better socially?
  • What do I need to do to feel better financially?
  • What do I need to do to feel better about my relationships?

The answers to these may surprise you, if you answer them honestly. Starting to implement changes to feel better about all of these aspects of life will be a step in a direction you’d rather be going.

Final Thoughts

You may have noticed that all three of these strategies work in tandem. I’m a writer. Journaling comes naturally to me. This isn’t the case for everyone. So let me give you some variations to try.

If writing isn’t your style, consider video journaling. Most laptops have a webcam and most smartphones have a camera you can use for this. Open it up, ramble on, and then take time to review it later. I don’t like to watch myself on camera, personally, so I would be more likely to use voice memo or a microphone with a free program like Audacity to do the rambling. Whatever method you choose, think of this as communication with yourself. It’s crucial to being able to live your best life in any circumstance. The ability to reason, communicate, think, evaluate our position, and change (when needed) is part of the human experience.

It isn’t always easy to make a change in a positive direction. But there is never a better time than what you find yourself in to do it. And it is never too early, or too late, to make a change and live your best life.

Posted in Creative Living, My Process, The Writer's Life, Uncategorized

Productivity & The Creative Process

It’s two weeks into a new year and I’ve been busy juggling all the hats I wear. There is schoolwork to keep up with. I am also working on a new book, outlining, drafting, plotting, and editing one that I hope to be ready to get out in April. I am also looking at getting back into the game when it comes to in-person events like conventions and doing book signings. So, I’m putting the marketing hat on more as well these days. Just trying to keep living the dream and build a better life for myself by being creative and keeping my focus on the things I can control. Which isn’t always an easy task.

New projects are usually a motivating and exciting part of the creative life. However, eventually, the excitement wanes and we find ourselves floundering trying to finish the project we’re working on instead of just moving on to another. In my 20+ years as a writer, I’ve found that nothing is quite so important as motivation. It is the thing that keeps you going on a tough day, helps get you unstuck when you’re facing a roadblock, and yet, it is often the most difficult thing to identify because it is different for every artist. There is no quick fix and no guarantees that what works for me, or any other artist, will work for you. What an article like this can hope to do is give you some ideas to try. Ultimately, it is up to you to find what works best for you.

Photo by Amina Filkins on Pexels.com

Some people like routine and stability. Having a dedicated space that they can go to that is static and rarely changes help them get in the right frame of mind. They surround themselves with things that are comforting and inspiring to them. The familiarity of space and an active routine are part of a sort of ritual that helps them to be productive. They have a favorite mug, beverage, and a favorite tool they use. The same music helps them get into a sort of “zone” and thus a cycle repeats and they continue as creatures of habit at their computer, easel, instrument, or desk.

Other artists work better under pressure. They like a deadline they can use as a competitive edge. Maybe they prefer working with an audience around them. Coffee houses are full of people on laptops. Libraries have long had tables and carrels for students and those doing research or work. Groups meet for write-ins both in-person and online. Artists get together for sessions in a park or at a local art museum. Musicians often come together to collaborate in jam sessions for inspiration and to get feedback. And many find that’s for the better.

Personally, I’m somewhere in the middle of all that. I try to give myself a combination of routine and new that keeps things fresh and exciting. Sometimes that looks like a simple conversation over the phone with a friend or a chat through a messenger service. I’ve been known to take my laptop to a favorite coffeehouse in town and find a quiet table where I can do a combination of work and people watching. I’ve also been known to change things up in my own space. Lately, this has helped me really get back into the groove.

My Desk Courtesy of and copyright by the author

Part of my holiday gift to myself was a bit of an overhaul to my desk space. I’ve had a more traditional set up for years now. I wanted to give my little hand-me-down desk a bit of a facelift and personality that matched my own. So, I’ve invested in a few items to do just that. Simple changes in color and design along with some added functionality for organizing the multitude of stationery that I’ve accumulated over the years. I have different lighting, switched most of the plastic pen cups to rose gold metal ones. And I added some extra storage drawers and trays. It arrived after my photo session but I also got myself a new mechanical keyboard in white with a rainbow of backlighting options.

These small changes, a bit of time organizing, and then taking time to write down some goals and plans have helped me get motivated and be more productive. This weekend I’m planning to get out and go to my favorite coffeehouse for a bit of time in “the wild”. I need some interation with people again. So, I’ll pack my day bag and get out for a cappucino and a caraffe of Earl Grey tea while I plod away on my laptop. Then I’ll come home to this light and lovely new space to put on some jazz and work a bit more. That’s my way of keeping productive.

It looks different for everyone. I’ll post about more productivity methods in the next post. But I’m curious, tell me in the comments what your creative space looks like and what you think it needs to be even more inspirational and motivational for you.

Posted in My Process, The Writer's Life, Uncategorized, Writing & Publishing

Starting Where You Are…

Welcome to 2021 everyone!

I could do a whole post lamenting the woes of 2020. It was a complete disaster in so many ways. Yet, looking back doesn’t serve my purpose today except that we should take it as a lesson that life is not always certain. With that being said, we have an opportunity for a fresh start here. I encourage you to sit down for a moment today with a piece of paper or a journal and put down your thoughts about what you would like to accomplish in this new year. I realize the task is daunting for many. For me, I’ve realized that all the floundering of 2020 has failed to serve a purpose. I’m tired of feeling like my life is on hold. So it is time to get on with the process of seizing opportunity instead of focusing on the limitations.

For many people the idea of starting something new is at the back of their mind. Immediate needs take a front seat in difficult times. I think it is important to realize that this may be the very time you should put the effort into a creative endeavor. Many of us still find ourselves looking for work, stuck in lockdowns, and trying to cope with our changing world. It’s the perfect time to consider starting your own side hustle and create something that you can be proud of.

When people ask me what I do and I tell them that I’m a novelist, the thing I hear most often in reply is something similar to, “You know, I’ve always wanted to write a book.” When I inquire as to why they haven’t the answer is usually that they wouldn’t know where to start. And it’s the same of many creative avenues. People love to paint, sculpt, or create crafts and they are envious of those who make their way into creating a business around it. The truth is that a little ingenuity and passion go a long way. There are people out there who can help take your ideas and give you the path to turning them into a reality. The question is are you motivated to do it (whatever that “it” is for you)?

For the aspiring authors out there, working with a coach can be just the catalyst needed to finish that book and get it out to the readers who are waiting for it. A lot of things go into creating a novel or a series of novels. It isn’t a sprint to write a lengthy piece of fiction, it is a marathon. Completing that race takes time, dedication, training, and moral support. While a coach can’t replace a writer taking the time to put the words down, they can help with moral support and providing direction on a project. As someone who has completed the process of writing several books, I can say that I would have benefited from hiring a coach early on in my efforts. With specific feedback on a manuscript while writing it, I could have avoided time-consuming rewrites due to holes in my plot or flat characters. With accountability and encouragement, I also could have completed projects faster and with more motivation to put them out to readers which only would have served to get me to this point in my career faster. Now that I’ve completed several novels of my own, I’ve decided that I would be open to coaching other aspiring authors. If you’re looking for that sort of support, definitely feel free to get in contact with me via email.

I can’t remember where I heard this but, it made a lot of sense. “If you do something that you love, you will never work a day in your life.” It’s true. I know what it is like to feel weighed down by a job that just sucks the life out of you. I’ve worked at many of them. It’s something I have learned I really don’t want to do again. So, I’m doing what I love and pushing this year for it to be a primary source of income for me. But doing that isn’t always easy for everyone. There are expenses to any business start-up. Shoestring budgets are a real thing, especially for those of us who are without jobs thanks to the events of the last year. But, you start where you are, with what you have, and you figure out how to make it work as you go along.

Being an author in the 21st century is more than just writing a book though. To that end, I need to make some changes to my approach as well. Yes, there are books to write. There are also other things that I need to put the focus on in terms of getting known. Books don’t sell unless people know about them. So, this year will be about blogging, vlogging, and getting more interviews and reviews for the work out there as well as the new projects coming out. I’m preparing for filming and regular blogging here. I’m also blocking time for new projects, collaborations, and generally being more active in my approach to online marketing. God willing, I’m also trying to book some in-person events for the year. Hopefully, the events of 2020 will stay in 2020 and not follow us too much into this new year.

If you think about it, the past year took our whole world virtual. We met in Zoom Meetings, Google Hangouts, Facetime, and through Skype. We shopped virtually, had our food delivered virtually with apps like Grubhub and DoorDash, and we even went to school virtually en masse. This change alone should give us all a bit of pause to realize that being at home doesn’t mean we have to be alone or unable to do things. We just have to be a little creative to get the same results. People still need to shop, be entertained, and figure out ways to keep in touch. And while it sometimes feels like we’ve all suddenly become agoraphobic, I think we can all appreciate the time we do get to be together now.

2021 will present her own challenges. That’s something I’m certain about. I think it is important to focus on what we all can do to make our lives a little better as we go through it. So, connect when you can. Pursue something with a passion. Reach out when you need help coping with whatever life throws you. Live life as best you can and let the rest go.

Leave me a comment and let me know what your goals for the new year are. Is there some project you hope to finish? Is there somewhere you would like to go or someone you want to spend more time with in 2021? What’s the current plan to do the things you want to?

For me, I’m continuing my education efforts. Still planning on being a teacher in the next few years. I’m also making it a goal to put out two books this year, launching a new series. I’m going to start a YouTube Channel / Vlog as well. So, if you have questions or topic suggestions, I’m open to those. And I would like to work with a few aspiring authors this year to help their writing dreams come to reality.

Posted in My Process, The Currents, The Writer's Life, Uncategorized

Getting Back To The Basics

When I started my writing journey back in the 1990s I had no idea where it would lead me. All I knew, for certain, was that I enjoyed the process of creating a world that I, and others, could escape into. My life was turbulent in the best of times in those years. Writing became a way of coping with bad situations that I couldn’t control. It was a plus that people I allowed to read these early stories found them entertaining and full of promise. They enjoyed them and were encouraging in my efforts.

It has been a journey. I’m going to show my age for a moment.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

The early days were simple. I wasn’t from a wealthy family who could afford early PCs for me to word process on. It started with notebooks and mechanical pencils or pens. My love affair with stationery started early and persists to this day. My other love was music. So when most kids were headed for the toy section or the new video games, I was found in school supplies and the music section. I had plenty of mixed cassettes from hours of listening to the local FM radio station waiting for favorite songs. I had a fair amount of studio-recorded albums too. But my favorites were the mixes that I got from friends and family who would put them together. My uncle bought me a walkman when I was about 12 and from then on, it became one of my favorite things. I could shut my bedroom door, put on my headphones, plug in a mixtape, and pick up a notebook and pen/pencil and I was set for hours. The real world went away for a while.

My grandparents eventually gave me a word processor. It looked like an electric typewriter only there was a small screen where you could watch your typing go across. It had a 3.5 floppy disk drive to store your work and then you could feed paper into the rollers and it would type it out automatically. It eliminated the bulk of the need for correction tape. And I would spend as many weekends as I could at their house happily typing away on it.

I migrated to a CD player when I started college in 1997. A small boom box that was enough to sit on my desk to help with drowning out noisy roommates in the dorm and portable enough to take home with me to use on the weekends I was off-campus. And eventually, my grandparents gave me a laptop. That first one must have been 3 inches thick and weighed in the neighborhood of 10 pounds, but I was ecstatic with it. Finally, I had access to Windows 95 and WORD. So began my preoccupation with writing software and computers.

Now, there are dual monitors for my PC, a laptop, and an iPad that I use for writing and schooling. My walkman and boombox are long gone, replaced by an iPhone and Amazon music. The headphones remain a steadfast necessity though. There are times I still need to drown the world out to get things done. I’ve held firm to my love of stationery though. Anyone will tell you that my biggest collection revolves around pens, highlighters, notebooks, journals and other desk paraphernalia. I write with Scrivener. Format with Word. And I’m longing to make the switch from PC to Mac lately. But, the process all begins with a notebook, my pens, and an idea.

The world is a crazy place. With lockdowns, virus panic, political turmoil, and all the rest, I’ve returned to the basics of getting lost in a world that, for me at least, is more hospitable and makes sense. I’m sure eventually these stories will find their way to others who would like to be lost in the place I’ve created.

Today, my Amazon music is set to a retro 80’s mix. Currently listening to New Sensation by INXS. I’ve got my writing buddy in his bed by my feet. I’m working on character sketches and outlines for a new paranormal series. It is time to embark on something fresh and new. That’s meant putting together a new “series bible” for reference and shifting gears in what I’m focusing on. Paranormal enthusiasts should like this series though. Yes, it will be fiction and somewhat sensationalized but it is also fun pulling from personal experiences working in the paranormal investigation field for so many years. And it’s also fun creating my own secret society.

Enough spoilers though. Time to get to work on it.

I do hope that you’re all doing well and making the most of this crazy season in life for everyone.

I want to do more posting here in the coming months. I would appreciate if readers would share the blog with others and comment if you have questions for me. Questions don’t have to be writing-related. Knowing what you’re all curious about helps me to know what to post about. If you want the scoop on the writing and publishing process, I can post more on that. But if you’re curious about hobbies or related product reviews, the paranormal experiences, or whatever, I’d be happy to do posts on those things as well. So, leave me a comment about what you’d like to see in this blog.

More soon! Stay sane and stay safe everyone!

Posted in My Process, The Writer's Life

Breaking Ranks…

If you’ve followed me online, here or elsewhere, you’ll likely recall that I usually take part in NanoWrimo. It is one of the few times of year that I really buckle down to focus on putting substantial word counts on the page along with other amazing writers. This year, I’m breaking away from the tradition. Not because I have no story to work on, but because I need to break from routines that haven’t served me well.

November has always seemed to me to be a bad month for such a major challenge. I mean, it is the middle of the holiday season and many people have extra obligations on their time with family gatherings, travel, end of the year deadlines looming, and events related to celebrations to attend or plan. Without fail, for me, there have just been too many distractions in the month of November to make the challenge without a significant amount of unnecessary stress. This year, when the Preptober videos started to pop into my YouTube feed, I recognized that there really was no way for me to commit to the challenge.

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

Life has changed for millions of us with the onset of this pandemic. It would be a lie to say that I’ve not seen some significant changes in my own life. Losing a job in April and now finding that, despite the lifting of restrictions, the job market for people with my skills is simply not bouncing back, well, that’s left me in a real predicament that I will need to remedy somehow soon. Now, add to that the fact that I’ve started back to school with a serious focus on study and there are bigger demands on my time creating more stress that factors in. Taking on a big challenge with a deadline like that is not going to make writing any easier and certainly won’t help my mental state. So, I wish those of you participating this year the best of luck in completing the 50K challenge. I’ll be cheering you all on from the sidelines!

I will say that it is not a matter of not wanting to write though. In fact, I’m happy to say that I am starting something new and what I hope will turn into something quite special for my readers. I say it is new, but it is really an older idea I’ve had floating about for a bit that I rediscovered while going through old files to organize my computer. The excitement of new characters and developing back stories is a fun part of the writing process for me. So, I will happily toil away on my laptop in my home office or in local cafes throughout November for writing and study sessions alike. In fact, I’ll probably be spotted doing just that throughout the remainder of 2020 and into 2021. I have found a great little local coffee spot closer to home. I’ll have to post a review when I get some pictures.

Image by John Hain from Pixabay

I find myself slipping more lately. I haven’t been completely compliant with the idea of staying home. I can admit that much. However, I don’t get out often either. That’s something that I need to change in my life. You see, I’m one of millions that have depression. Some days are better than others. If I am truly honest, there have been more hard days than good days lately. They seem to come in waves.

For example, I’ve fought insomnia for weeks. I’ve had my days and nights mixed up making it hard to even function normally. I’ve drifted into periods of mindless surfing of social media and videos on YouTube or watching old cartoons on Amazon Prime or Netflix. I’ve read books, played mindless games on my iPad, and started to work on art pieces that never seem to get finished. Then again, I have experienced stretches where I could sleep for days on ened. Get up for just an hour or so and right back to bed for hours. My pup loves these days, mind you. I’ll try setting alarms, even multiple alarms in succession, only to sleep through them. I know that none of this is good for me, but its a viscious cycle and now being out of work, I certainly don’t have the luxury of health insurance to be able to get to the doctor.

I’ve attempted to give myself a schedule. I wanted to find things to do with myself. I think that was partly why I got back on the dating sites. Like maybe if I had somewhere to be, or someone to see and spend time with, it would help me find that motivation. It never takes long before I give up on those though. I’m just not the typical modern gal. What can I say? I’ll blog more on that at a later time though.

One good thing from all of this, I joined a local church and started getting to Sunday School more often. The insomnia has been a problem. Online services have been a blessing for me to keep up with the sermon series when I haven’t heard the alarms. The truth is, I feel like this was a very good decision and that I’m finding a group of people that are like-minded at least. So, that’s a good thing. I’m actually really looking forward to the Fall Fest they are having. It should be fun. But, despite feeling good and motivated when I leave church, it is still a struggle to find the energy and motivation to get up and get dressed to go on Sundays.

Posted in Lessons Learned, My Process, The Writer's Life, Writing & Publishing

It is never too late to begin again…

I always have good intentions when I begin a new thing. But there comes a point when you have to step back and gain some perspective on where you are in life and where you’re going. And like many others out there, 2020 dealt more than a few blows for me to deal with. I was dealing with writer’s block and trying to keep myself motivated to show up and write. Just when I was starting to get back into the groove, crippling self-doubt decided to show up. That caused me to think about what I was doing with my life. And I decided that it was time to change trajectory a bit.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

I didn’t want to stop writing entirely. I love it too much to ever give it up entirely. Yet, I am not the marketing guru that many successful authors are. Frankly, I’m not the social butterfly and I don’t have the self-confidence to think that anyone really cares to hear what I have to say. So I’m a social media flop really. And apparently, it takes quite a bit of social savvy to make a writing career prosperous. I love creating characters, giving a little escape from the mundane (which I think we can all agree is needed right now), and even creating a story that people take something away from. I even love helping people to do just that. So, it stood to reason that I began to question how I could take my passion for stories and turn it into something that could sustain me financially.

In April I was laid off thanks to Covid-19. It took far too long to get on unemployment because, at first, it seemed like it would only be for a couple of weeks. Then it was extended further and by the time I was told to file by the agency I was working for, the websites were so bogged down that it took weeks to even get an application for it put in. In the meantime, I’d made applications concerning financial aid and returning to school. As it turned out, I was able to do just that. So, I enrolled at Western Governors University in their Education Program to complete my B.A.

Life is a journey though. And starting school at 41 years old seemed a little crazy to me. It’s a total career change from the office work and customer service work I’ve done in the past. Change is necessary though when you find a purpose and a goal that you feel is worth pursuing. Helping people find a love of story and perhaps pursue writing themselves is a worthwhile goal. And I know it’s not an overnight career either to get to my ultimate goal, but I can start by working with young children helping them find adventures between the covers of books that inspire them. Eventually, though, I want to teach others to write as well. Help aspiring novelists find their own voices, create characters, and twist a plot that keeps readers coming back for more.

I did a great deal of soul searching in this process. I looked at options. I thought about throwing in the towel with my books. They don’t seem to be getting any traction really. I realized that writing for the money wouldn’t make me happy. I’m not aiming to be the New York Times Bestseller. I want to be comfortable, just like everyone else, of course. That doesn’t always mean big houses, fancy cars, or lavish vacations.

At 41 and being single, I’ve made my peace with the idea that I’ll never have a family of my own. At least, it won’t be kids running around my feet. I’m likely to have a small herd of pups at some point though. I don’t even know that I’ll meet anyone to share my life with. I love kids though. And I remember how much I was influenced by amazing teachers throughout my education. I remember seeing first hand the impact a teacher can make in a community when my Great Grandmother passed away when I was young. I couldn’t even give you a number on how many former students came to pay respects. It’s a legacy of caring and generosity that she left behind. Maybe they weren’t able to pinpoint specific things that she taught them, but they never forget how she cared and tried to teach them well. I’m a part of that legacy and I want to carry it on in my own way.

So, I started the journey to getting that degree and being in a classroom of my own. I took time away from writing to adjust to academic life again. In a way, I’m glad that I’ve been out of work like this. It’s given me a chance to find a purpose again and start fresh.

I don’t want to stop creating though. But it’s time for something fresh and new to add to my catalog. Something that will showcase the progress in my writing and maybe attract a new audience.

I pulled out a partial manuscript that I was playing with before. Fresh characters, set primarily in East Texas, and with a supernatural mystery that is challenging on many levels. The concept is sound and I’m excited to get back to work on it as I await my next term to start.

Oh, that’s right, I completed a full term of my studies so far. So, we’re well on our way to that degree. And I found a new local coffee spot to make my little home away from home to work on this project. That’s promising for me. To go with it are new horizons for social interaction, putting down some roots in this community, and new attitudes for me.

For those of you who have stuck around through all my ups, downs, and lack of posts; thank you for being here and reading. I hope to be more consistent, but I make no guarantees. This is a journey worth sharing though. I hope to do just that.

Posted in book news, My Process, The Writer's Life

Rainy Days & Fun Times: A Nanowrimo Update.

After 7 days of Nanowrimo, I’m coming on here with an update!

No, it is not going as well as I want on the word count goals. However, I’m happy to report that getting an outline together is proving a fruitful endeavor. I have clarity in the direction of the story now. So that’s a good thing. But, I think I should have done more for Preptober. I was engrossed in releasing Beyond The Storm then though. So I won’t complain.

November is usually a busy month anyway with a major holiday and then preparing for the Christmas rush. This year is no different for me. I’m excited because for the first time in 4 years, I get to be home in the mountains, at my grandparents’ for Christmas. With my mom, my brother, his wife, my three nieces and my grandparents. I also get to spend a little time with my best friend since high school that is long overdue. And there is a lot that needs to be done before we leave Texas for that.

I was out and about with my mom yesterday and snagged these awesome elf house shoes for making holiday memories. I think my nieces are going to love them. They’ll be a source of amusement for a while. I imagine that my grampa will eventually tire of the jingle bells ringing through the house but, it will be fun while it lasts.

We’re planning to do a holiday bazzaar on the 1st of December with our cookies and candies to sell. So, that’s going to be fun but a lot of work. Everything with Sambee’s is handmade from old recipes that have been passed down. Well, except our cake pops. Those are a fairly new invention. But, I’m sure it will be a success with our paint-your-own sugar cookies, and holiday gift boxes. I’m actually fairly excited about it. I mean who doesn’t love cookies and sweets?

After a day of being out and about, it is time for me to get back to the work of writing the next book. I still have a few things to map out though. There are a few new characters entering the series in this book. And writing sequels is a difficult task guys. So many details that you have to line up. I am definitely learning the importance of creating a “series bible”. So, making that is a big deal for me at this point. But, if you were a fan of The Fallen, you’ll be happy to know that the next installment of that series will be happening next year.

So just a quick little update before I dive in and get some words on the page. Fall has officially arrived here in East Texas though. I turned off the air conditioner and am donning the sweatpants and socks today. Comfy clothes for a cozy day of writing and working.

Posted in book news, My Process, The Writer's Life, Writing & Publishing

Let’s Go Wrimos!

Yes, I know, it is insanity to the outside world. However, the month of November is when writers from all over come together to kick the blank page’s rear and produce what could very well be your next favorite book. What’s more? It could be by your next favorite author who, after this year’s success, decides, at last, to stop waiting for people to tell them it’s worth a contract and publish it themselves. There is so much talent in the Indie Community. And it is, all too often overlooked in my opinion.

 

Are you a writer? Do you have a novel sloshing around in that big beautiful skull of yours? Have you ever wanted to try to write a longer story or turn that campfire ghost story into something that others can enjoy? Well, then come to join the rest of us! You’ll find amateurs and professionals alike who take part in the challenge to pen 50,000 words in November.

Yes, it’s a lot of words. But you won’t be alone. Writing every day, it is a goal of 1,666 words per day. Though, (here’s my NanoWrimo trick to preparing for interruptions of the holidays) I always strive for 1,800-2,000 instead. That usually puts me ahead of the game for winning the challenge. But, I don’t always win and I don’t always participate.  Last year, I started and then found that with my job, and the other obligations I had, getting that many words in just wasn’t going to be possible. I still managed over 30,000 for the month though. And that’s 30,000 I didn’t have before.

For many of us, we already write on a daily, or almost daily, basis. So adding a new project to the mix is a change. The added perks of local write-ins with other writers, forums and groups on social media dedicated to discussion and cheering one another on, and after parties to celebrate the wins and successful addition of words make it a unique time of year. In fact, it has been so beneficial that National Novel Writing Month (lovingly called NanoWrimo) has created Camp NanoWrimo events throughout the year to accomplish the same sense of camaraderie and motivation as the original. Some of us set bigger goals. Some of us are happy to hit that 30,000 or even 20,000 mark. The point is to get writing!

Today is Day One! The idea that you have to spend months preparing is rubbish. You start where you are. Novels are typically longer than 50,000 words anyway. Consider this your crazy way of getting all that story out on the page and then you can spend another session, or the rest of the year, adding to it and refining it into something that is amazing.

What am I working on this November? Well, I’m going off the beaten path a bit with something completely new. New characters, new setting, and a new plotline than I usually write. If you want the details, you should join me over on the NanoWrimo site: Here’s your link!  You’ll find all the information I have available for this one and I’ll be sure to update it.

Also, I’ll post weekly updates here on the blog.

Before I dive into the writing pool; let me just say that I had a great time at the East Texas Booktacular taking Beyond The Storm for its’ first spin on the events table. Copies are available in paperback and Kindle ebook on Amazon. If you’re interested in signed paperback copies; I have news. I’m working on a way to have you order direct from me. For now, if you’re interested you can email me at annebellewrites@gmail or you can PM on Twitter or Facebook for details. I’ll be happy to invoice by Paypal and get them to you in time for the holiday gifting season! You know, readers never have too many books.

Posted in book news, Marketing, The Currents, Writing & Publishing

At Last!

I’ve been more MIA than I intended to be in the past month. Why? Well, it was all to bring us to the announcement I have to make today. Whoever said writing a book wasn’t a hard job was lying. When you are an independent author, you wear too many hats to count. But now all the formatting, editing, and scrutinizing is done, and we can move on to the next fun part of the process; letting all of you read it!

That’s right!

Beyond The Storm is ready and available for purchase on Amazon.com!

Readers of The Secret of the Storm are all saying, “It’s about time!!”

Elora Castain is back, and her life is more complicated than when she first came to Slauson Cove.

From the back of the book: Returning to Slauson Cove changed Elora Castain’s life in more ways than she could have imagined. Just when she thought things were settling into something reasonable, her life was turned upside down a second time. Walsingham Manor was built for families even if the locals thought it to be the source of trouble in town. Now, on the cusp of settling into motherhood and bringing her own family to continue the legacy, a new and powerful storm is brewing. Elora, once again, finds herself in the middle of an investigation into the murders that are piling up on Detective John Erickson. What begins as a consultation turns into an interrogation as strange symbols and her name come up on the victim’s bodies. Can she stop another killer? Did Eric Aldred inflict an unbreakable curse on her before she was even born? Can she, or what family remains, survive what is brewing in Slauson Cove? Find out in Beyond the Storm; new fiction from Anne Belle. Don’t miss this long-anticipated sequel to her debut novel; The Secret of the Storm.

 

Now, I could say happy reading and leave you to it. However, I could use a little help in getting the word out there. So there are three things I would like to ask of all of you:

  1. Tell me about your favorite avenue for finding new books. Do you follow a book review blog? Is it through friends-only recommendations? Or do you find them on social media? I would love to get in touch with some blogs and other internet avenues to guest post or otherwise solicit reviews.
  2. Once you purchase and read it, leave an honest review on Amazon. Those reviews, searching for our books, sharing the links… these are simple things that can help indie authors like myself reach more readers who would enjoy our book babies. If you haven’t followed me on other social media like Facebook or Twitter, please do and help me out by sharing the good news.
  3. If you are part of a book club or associated with a library, feel free to get in touch with me by email. I’m happy to offer and/or coordinate group sales of all my books. Also, I’m keen to get involved in Q & A about them if your group would like. This can be accomplished with video chat or conference calling that I can arrange easily from my studio here in Texas.

All that being said, I am going to be posting a bit more about this but, I’m also gearing up for other projects as well. The next book is being researched, and I’m planning to relaunch Ether Realms Media in mid-November. So be looking for news about that soon!

We’re also closing in fast on the East Texas Booktacular event in Henderson, TX. Tickets are free but limited. You can find all the information here: Booktacular Event.

I hope to see you there! Stop by my table near the entrance and say hello. I am waiting anxiously for the arrival of paperback copies at this point, but I plan to have limited quantities available for purchase there.  Just in time for a good Halloween read! Who doesn’t love a good ghost story this time of year?