Posted in Creative Living, The Currents, The Writer's Life, Uncategorized

February Recap & March Goals

Well, here we are at the beginning of another month. I’m sitting down with my planner, notebooks, worksheets, and being midful to stay optimistic about the month ahead. There are some big things on the horizon for me. I’m trying to pull myself out of a major depression that seems to have settled on me in the last couple of months. (This is an ongoing battle for me.) Trying to keep my focus on where I’m headed, and the progress I have made.

Recap:

I did get the framework set up for the companion YouTube Channel for this blog. There aren’t any videos yet. I am working on finding a way to film so that I can get content up. Definitely meant to be part personal vlog and part curated content. So feel free to pre-subscribe so you’ll get notified when the first video comes up this month.

I also got the design work done for promotional materials that will be part of my booth at the Tyler Paranormal Convention in April. I’m very excited about that event. Frankly, any event that gets me out of the house and among people again is exciting after all the time in lockdown. It isn’t like I had an exciting social-life before this began. However, I am attributing some of this depression and anxiety to the fact that what little social interaction I had outside my immediate family has been halted for way too long. For goodness sake, I’ve resorted to trying EHarmony at this point (which is a great fail that I will discuss in a later post). So, yes, I am looking forward to having the ability to get out and meet people again on a more regular basis. Anyway, all that’s left is to place the orders for the new signage, promotional merchandise, and some new business cards.

Carry over items from the February list will be to continue working on the revisions for the new book. I am thinking that I’m about to call it ready for the editors. I’m excited about this series. It feels much more naturally dramatic and relatable to me. I hope that you readers feel the same way once it is out there in the great wide world.

Uncle Joe’s Coffee & Cones in Gilmer, TX

March Goals:

  • Finish the revisions on the new book project.
  • Hit the coffee house more often for a work session!
  • Start the outline for book two.
  • Hire an artist to work with for creating the logo/art and cover art for this series.
  • Get myself registered for nail tech school (attending this fall so I can get my certification and license).
  • Get the promotional materials and product inventory ordered for in-person events.
  • Get the inventory done and topped off in time for Paracon!
  • Get to filming for the Make Mine Bold YouTube Channel and start posting video content.
  • Plan a writer’s retreat weekend away somewhere pretty and inspiring (preferably with a pool).

Yes, those goals include a “side-hustle” plan. But, with Texas opening back up and all the restrictions being lifted on masks and isolation, it is time to start thinking outside the box again and looking at more events for the books. It’s also time to think about just getting out more in general. I’m glad that I have found a local spot to take my laptop and set up for a change of scenery. Local coffee houses are always good things. I think the one I’ve found in Gilmer is fun and quirky. While I always have the option of a more hipster experience by going into Longview as well. Something a bit more sophisticated is still eluding me though. Starbucks just doesn’t cut it for me anymore. I prefer local shops to big franchises these days. And yes, atmosphere plays a big part in my choices of where to spend my time out of the house.

On a more personal note, I have to get more focused on wellness this month. The battling with depression has been going on for months but, has become more difficult to push through in the last few weeks. Since the lockdowns put me out of a regular job, I’ve had no insurance to be able to go to the doctor for anything. As someone who was on maintenance medications for diabetes (among other things), this has been a problem when the refills ran out. But, I have a doctor’s appointment to try and set things back in order this week. Cash prices for everything means that it is going to be expensive but, it has to happen. Just like I also need to make an appointment for Pip to get his annual physical and shots. As I told him if I have to go and be poked and prodded, so does he.

Okay, it is time to get to work on things but, more coming this week for the blog! I know I skipped over a week, and I’m trying to be more consistent.

Tell me what your biggest goal for this month is in the comments! Let’s try to cheer one another on this month. Lord knows we can all use some support at times.

Posted in Reviews, The Currents, The Writer's Life, Uncategorized

The Writer’s Wishlist

The same question comes up every year about this time. “What do you want for Christmas?” For those who get excited about the gifting part of the holiday, it is a good question to know the answer to. And if you’re one of those people who has an aspiring author in your life, it can be hard to get them to give you an answer to that.

Personally, there aren’t many people that I exchange gifts with every year. I typically stick to the family for budget reasons. I also know that I am likely a hard person to buy for aside from the typical notebooks, pens, and fun drinkware that are common. Part of the reason I’m hard to buy for is that I usually get what I want for myself. If there is something I really want it is just too expensive to expect (and in many cases accept) as a gift. It’s not like I’m 13 and asking Santa for that new Macbook. I’ll get it one day, but it’s likely going to be a Christmas to myself sort of purchase.

What I want to do is give you a few items that will be useful to the writer or even the students in your life.

TECH RELATED IDEAS

We all know how technology-focused our society has become. We rely on our phones, tablets, and laptops daily. Even when we unplug for the day from social media, the phone is nearby, an e-reader is commonplace, and maybe a gaming system comes into play. So here’s a top pick for tech gifting for writers that won’t break the bank. It will, however, require you to know a bit about their preferences.

A good pair of headphones. Sounds simple, right? I have my eye on some airpods or the pro version. There are budget friendly options that I use all the time though. I have a cheap pair of earbuds that I got at our local Walmart. I have odd shaped ears so I get the kind that have the ear loops attached so I don’t lose them. They’re less conspicuous when I’m out and about. However, I also have a wonderful pair of noise-cancelling over ear headphones as well. They’re by a brand called mPow Tech and they actually have great sound. These are Bluetooth and so wireless when I’m going back and forth with things but there is also the option of a 3.5mm audio jack to connect directly to your devices. The pair I have I bought about 4 years ago and I spent about $40.00 USD for them through Amazon. They’ve gotten a little beat up over the years using them so much. So, I would love to replace them soon. That being said I wouldn’t hesitate to purchase the updated version of them. Which can be found here: https://www.amazon.com/Mpow-Cancelling-Headphones-Bluetooth-Playtime/dp/B082D6WV5B/ref=sr_1_4?crid=1YSJ3MVPB912N&dchild=1&keywords=mpow%2Bbluetooth%2Bheadphones%2Bnoise%2Bcancelling&qid=1606600066&sprefix=mpow%2Bnoise%2Bbluetooth%2Bheadphones%2Caps%2C269&sr=8-4&th=1

Another tech option would be a new keyboard. Writers are usually going to wear these out on a regular basis anyway. On a whim I purchased an 87 key mechanical that is wired for myself. It was a bit of a novelty in that the keys looked more vintage, like an old typewriter. I call it my clicky-key keyboard. I love this one. My only regret is that I got the one that was just the QWERTY and I didn’t get the standard layout with the ten-key instead. I use that keypad more than I realize.

I realize that I might be the odd duck, but when I am stuck for productivity and inspiration, I cycle through keyboards. I have an ergonomic split key and a quiet touch flat one. I also have a magic keyboard in the Bluetooth. Now, I’m waxing nostalgic and wishing I could find an old keyboard like I had back in high school; the old IBM ones in the computer lab at school. And I’ve had my eye on a new mechanical keyboard that is backlit. I think I would like the backlit ones since I get so much eye strain in the evenings. Just being able to put the lights low and have that glow would be a good thing when I’m composing.

PLANNERS & GOAL SETTING TOOLS

Let’s talk about planners. I’m an analog girl in this digital world when it comes to my planners. I prefer paper, pens, and highlighters to my iPad or phone any day. There is just something about writing it all down that helps to solidify the plan of action in my mind. Over the years I’ve used many different planners. My first was a daytimer back in high school. There are certainly more options today. From a $9.99 to nearly $100.00 for the year, you can take your pick of styles, customization options, or even DIY approaches. While I enjoyed the idea and practice of a bullet journal, I found it to be too time consuming and prefer something that has already got the form and function I need.

As much as I like, and have used, Erin Condren Life Planners over the last 10 years; I think I’ve spent my last money with that company for personal reasons. So, I’m looking into alternatives for 2022. I’ve used it in conjunction with another planner system to help keep myself on task for my personal goals. So I may just invest in a good binder next year instead and switch entirely to the Momentum Planner by Productive Flourishing. For $18 you get a fillable PDF Printable that is a full year of guided planning that really helps to break things down. While not as aesthetically appealing as the more feminine-branded Life Planner, it really makes up for it by being super functional and customizable.

Alternatives that I would also consider is Passion Planners. They have a great design for people who need to track time as well as goals. And I would also consider the Dreambook & Planner by Dragontree again. Their holistic approach is really a game changer and gets you to dig deep to find purpose and passion in your life while also walking you through the goal setting process to be successful.

Image by Jill Wellington from Pixabay

DESK & SPECIALTY STATIONERY ITEMS

I’m working on a long term personal project that will help me bring some personality to my workspaces. I wish I had room for a corner desk with more worktop space for notes. But, I’m working on being organized in the spack and desk that I do have access to while also being a bit more aesthetic as well. I’m sure many other authors can relate. Decorative tastes change over time. For me, they’ve gone from being dark and broody to being much more light and feminine. So, I’m looking for things in rose gold, creams, teal, and aqua to complete my space so I can use my own pictures in the future. Not to mention this new obsession with flamingos. (I have no idea why.)

So think about things that can brighten their space. Desk organizers are a great start. Pen cups, post-it holders, novelty paper clips, and binder clips. Think about new artwork as well. Paint them something yourself or find something from a local artist. Consider gifting a new cover for their favorite chair, file storage boxes, or novelty file folders. I’d also say to consider a large magnetic dry erase or corkboard as well. These can help tremendously as storyboards that are reusable. And I have my eye on a simple one that is a monthly calendar with corkboard space at the bottom as well.

PERSONAL & WEARABLE

There is a common problem for writers and office workers everywhere. We spend more time at a desk, usually in a chair, staring at a screen, and doing repetitive movements all day. Many of us deal with eye strain, carpal tunnel syndrome, and back issues over time. A good desk chair is an expense that most writers will put off because it is expensive. I’ve found several inexpensive things that have helped me over the years.

Image by Jill Wellington from Pixabay

A good seat cushion. Something with support where you need it. As a bigger person, these wear out fast for me. So, it is always a struggle to find one that will really support with comfort and still hold up over time. I personally look for something with sciatica in mind. Forgiving on the tailbone and yet providing some padding on the hips and legs. I tend to sit and lean forward in my chair, so something for support in the back is a good idea for me as well. I’m sure I’m not the only one with those issues. It’s a gift that adds comfort to an already long process.

Finally, two wearable items that have alloed me to be more productive and avoid the pain of headaches due to eye strain and alleviate the pain from carpal tunnel.

I found the first item at my local pharmacy. Compression gloves that were infused with copper were in that unique section where they put all the “as seen on TV” items. Now, I don’t know that the copper necessarily has anything to do with the effectiveness. All I know is that, I purchased them when I was having issues and they helped tremendously. These are a sized item, so you want them to be snug on your hands. Mine aren’t fingerless, but the tips are gone allowing for ease in typing or using my touchscreen devices. Not every writer will need the compression and a nice pair of fingerless gloves will be a welcome addition to their writing sessions. There are some lovely literary themed options through a company called Storiarts.com. They even make throws and totes that have printings of classic books. So they are worth checking out for the booknerds in your life.

The last item I will suggest is a good pair of blue-light blocking glasses. I’ll admit to dropping a pretty penny for a pair of these. While those glasses were a great product, the company that makes and distributes them was a nightmare in terms of customer service and the delivery process. So, I hesitate to recommend them. There are other companies out there though, other brands that are just as good. I found a three pair pack on Amazon for about $23.00 and even those have been a lifesaver on my eyesight.

So, there you have it. My gift guide for the wordsmiths in your life. I provided a link to the headphones above. However, I don’t use an affiliate link for those. I honestly have those and recommend that particular brand. They’re a heck of an alternative to the brands that are a couple hundred bucks. Maybe next year I’ll do an affiliate program for specific brands. But this year, I’m keeping it fairly general.

Whoever you’re gifting for this holiday season, I hope that you have fun and create some wonderful memories with the people you love this season. I know, I plan to.

Posted in Family Life, The Writer's Life

Holiday Mayhem and 2018 Closeout!

I’ve been cut off from civilization for two weeks! We had no internet for the duration of our trip to Kentucky to see family for Christmas. But, it proved to be a good thing. Lot of time to talk and spend time with people that I don’t see but every couple of years. Also lots of time to think about where the new year will take me and how to best live my own life.

Getting back to Texas was interesting. The trip back always seems to take longer for some reason. Maybe it is the let down of it all being over with and knowing that the humdrum of real daily life is just around the corner again. Anyway, we came back and I took a day to relax and rest up before getting my mindset all back into the work ahead of me.

While I was away I crossed a major milestone birthday and turned 40.  Crazy right?! I know I’m having a hard time believing that I am officially middle-aged. In many ways, I still feel like I am in my early 20s. I suppose that’s true for most of us though. I spent the actual day with friends for a bit in the early part of the day. My god-daughters made cupcakes and my bestie and I got to sit around chatting like old times and planning her upcoming wedding. So, yep, I’ll be making another trip north in the next year for that.  Then my nieces and grandparents all went out to dinner. There was lots of cake and ice cream for two days since I have my sister-in-law’s birthday two days after mine and we celebrated my niece’s birthday which isn’t until mid-January as well. But it was great to be able to enjoy time with everyone for a change and celebrate.

I have more planning to do since I got back. It’s time to set some goals for the new year on a personal and professional level. However, it also warrants me saying a heartfelt thank you to those of you who have joined my journey as an author. From your encouraging messages, comments, and social media interaction to the amazing reviews left on my books over on Amazon. I count myself truly blessed in 2018.

I’ve seen doors open and others close. I’ve found myself questioning my choice to publish at all, only to have someone pop up at the right moment and encourage me to keep going with it all. And keep going I shall!

Here at the end of another year, it is time to think about an upgrade to aspects of my platform. That newsletter is coming this year. There will be more blog posts on writing, life, and all the creativity that I do. I think at 40, I’m finally finding my feet on this living life thing. I’m excited for what lay ahead of me.

That being said, I’m getting on the ball here to make plans, do some writing on the next book, and get some blogs ready to go for the new year! There’s much to catch up on since I was cut off for so long.

Posted in The Currents

Welcome December…

My Nanowrimo effort fell off the radar early on in November. The truth is things became so busy that I didn’t have much time to write at all. However, the month was hugely productive nonetheless. It turned out that the bakery business part of my creative endeavors had an opportunity that we couldn’t pass up. Our local town had its first annual Yulefest on the 1st of December. Festivities included vendors of arts and crafts, a breakfast with Santa for the kids, photo ops, a parade, the Christmas tree lighting, and a movie on the square downtown.

It was a perfect opportunity for us to get out there, meet the public, and let them get a taste of what we offer while also giving out brochures and letting them know; “Hey! We’re here!”

We had a ton of product. In fact, we made enough for a two-day event. Buckeye candy, fudge, 3 varieties of cookies, reindeer chow, and our Christmas popcorn were all on display. The gingerbread didn’t last long. In fact, we sold out of the mini gingerbread men and only had 6 of the larger cookies pictured at the end of the day.  Our Reindeer Chow was also a big hit with the crowd. People were coming back to buy seconds throughout the day. So, I’ll count that a win.

Now that we are past that event, my mind is back to writing projects. Preparations are happening for the next Armageddon Rising book. That’s my fallen angel series. You can grab the first installment here: The Fallen . I’m really excited about continuing this one and I have people who are waiting to see what Lou and Mistrael are really up to. I’m ready to explore this story arc again and I am already making outlines, adding new details about characters who have yet to make appearances. So there is a lot going on with that now that I can settle in and spend time focusing on it.

However, there isn’t much time between our little bakery extravaganza and the holiday trip we have planned.

This will be the first time in four years that I’ve been home with my family for Christmas. Now, family here includes my grandparents, my little brother, his girls, his wife, and momma. It’s overdue for me to be there. And it looks more and more like we’ll have a white Christmas given the weather reports. Mom and I are actually debating on what day we need to leave since we’re making the 16-hour drive through Arkansas, Tennessee, and across the state of Kentucky to our destination at the homestead. But I know that we’re both looking forward to all the hugs, laughs, and holiday traditions.

I’m taking my notes with me to continue working. I’m also taking my gaming materials so that I can run a D & D session or two with friends and family while I’m there. My brother is a gamer and always has been. I’m just getting into it really. But the kids will have fun since I’ll run something kid-friendly for them to participate an learn. My best friend and her girls are supposed to be making time to come and play as well so we can spend some time together.

Yes, good times are ahead of me. And I’m ready for some R&R while I’m there.

But there is also something about taking some time while I’m there to write in a place where it all started for me. In fact, my old school desk where I learned to write is in my room there. I’m amazed they still have it honestly. Not that I can sit in it anymore. My nieces sit at it now sometimes. And it’s good to see. But, the nostalgia of being at my grampa’s desk and writing in a notebook is definitely going to get those creative juices going again.

I’m also taking my pencils and sketchbook so that I can enjoy some art projects with my older niece. That reminds me, I need to finish this piece on the easel before I leave. I have a few gifts I’ve picked up to wrap up. And I know I need to take my new bujo to set up while I’m there.

I am definitely thinking of changes in the new year.  Turning 40 is definitely giving me a bit of a pause. I’m thinking this is a topic for another post but, I’m definitely thinking about life up to now and how I want things to change for me going forward. That means embracing spinsterhood and getting more focused on balancing day jobs, writing, social, and spiritual life. It’s trickier than I ever thought it could be.

More on that later though…

Posted in The Currents, The Writer's Life

The Currents April 2018 & Goals

Welcome to April folks! The start of a new adventure and some really exciting things coming up for me. Conventions and speaking engagements abound in the next two months and I am loving every minute of this. I won’t lie. This feels right to me and I know that I am beating a dead horse with friends and family but, I need more of this. More time to focus on what I truly love and meeting the people who make it possible.

So I have decided to give you all a little look into my world in a series of posts on Monday to tell you what I’m currently reading, listening to, and what my free time is spent on. This seems to be what people want to know about authors after all. So, who am I to keep that info secret?

What I am reading?

Well, I’m finishing up Dan Brown’s Origin on my Audible at the moment. So far so good. I’ve been a fan of the Robert Langdon stories since I first heard of The Davinci Code. I understand readers desire for series work. It had been a long time since I’d read any of his work and picking this one up was like revisiting an old friend. I’ll have to review it when I finish it.

On my Kindle is a copy of a rather interesting little memoir piece by Peter Hockley called Four Nights With The Devil.  I’m fascinated by the stories of how people change spiritually and convert over to Christianity. It usually reaffirms my own faith in God and the belief that He speaks to everyone individually. Being met on our level and the spiritual path ahead of us unfolding in a way that we understand it, well, that’s an epic and life-changing experience. Again, I will have to review it when I finish. This one could spark a bit of a reflection for me though.

Musically speaking I have been leaning toward more instrumentals these days. Lindsey Sterling features heavily in my playlists for when I am writing. The addition of the mellow sounds of Josh Groban and Michael Buble interspersed with a bit of Norah Jones and Florence and the Machine.  My tastes are pretty eclectic. I’m sure that the preference may change with the week depending on what happens throughout the week.

Curious about anything else? Drop it in the comments and I’ll respond.

So moving on to goals.

I’ve decided to do Bi-Monthly Goals this time. Quarterly was just too much time to track these. So I’m shortening the scope of the list in an effort to actually be successul at it.

  1. Get my revised drafts out to my Beta Readers of the next release. (Yes we are almost there folks.)
  2. Post a minimum of 8 videos on the Youtube channel. Youtube is a challenge thanks to subpar internet upload speeds living in the country. I’m not the only one using our service so, I can’t be selfish with it. One a week may be all I can manage for now. I’ll go with it.
  3. Blogging 3 days a week. Yes, that means more check ins and more rambling for all of you to see.
  4. Book my first 5 video clients.  After making my book trailer video (You can see it here) I had a lot of people asking who I had create it. So, I’ve decided that I would like to start offering it as a service that people can get affordably for their own book or project. In fact, I am working on a couple to build my portfolio now so that I can show a variety of styles. If you are interested in having one done, see my website for more details.
  5. Complete the outline for Armageddon Rising Book Two. Yep, that’s the next big project. I still have plenty of research to conduct though.
  6. Tyler Paranormal Convention : Complete my presentation and make a sales goal I’m setting privately
  7. Geekend : First Author’s Panel and of course a private sales goal.
  8. Have 25 Youtube subscribers by May 31st.
  9. Get over 200 newsletter subscribers by May 31st.
  10. And Finally… Write another novella work for my Investigators from Exorcising The Past. I think I want to make this a regular thing for serial fiction.

There you have it folks! My 10 goals! Don’t miss the recap on Youtube to see if I met them. Yes, I’ll go on camera for that. Seems a good way to hold myself accountable.

 

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

The Waiting Game…

We spend so much of our time waiting.

Seriously think about it for moment. We wait to grow up. We wait to have an education. We wait for appointments. We wait for payday, the weekend, our favorite shows to premiere a new season, movie releases, and other trivial things. I am currently waiting on that lovely refund from the IRS as a further example. Aren’t we all? There are things that are worth the wait, of course, like finding the love of your life before you settle down. You’ll just have to take my word on that one. I should know. But what truly baffles me is how we wait to take the steps to live our best lives.

We’ve all found ourselves stuck in the rat race. There are all sorts of ruts and traps to fall into. We settle into many roles in life without even realizing that we’re doing it. I know I did. And in some ways I still do. But, let me just say that a shift is happening for me. It is as much spiritual as it is mental.

In 2017 I spent a lot of time thinking about what sort of life I want to lead. And through my journaling and letters I discovered that I have been my own biggest obstacle in living that dream life. I’d almost be willing to wager a bet that, if you were to really think about this, you would find that you’re in a similar position.

I’m a plus size woman. That fact alone presents a whole list of obstacles in life. Society honestly treats plus size people differently regardless of the circumstances. I think that this, combined with conditioning by various life experiences, leads me to a place where I imposed many restrictions on myself as to what I could do in life. That eventually led to a bevy of excuses to procrastinate.

  • I’ll wait until I lose 50 pounds before I take new headshots.
  • I don’t want to do a book launch until I can wear that dress in the back of my closet.
  • I don’t want to film videos because I look awful.
  • I don’t want to spend money on my hair, makeup, etc until I am able to go out more.
  •  I’m not going to put myself out there because all people will see is fat
  • No one will take me seriously as an author, blogger, vlogger, speaker until I look like x, y, z….

Yes, I’ve said all of these to myself at some point. Some of them more recently than others. And they are all completely ridiculous reasons for not chasing my dreams.

I sit here tonight thinking about where I would be if only I had listened to myself and trusted my gut when I was young and full of confidence. At least, I could fake it when I needed to because I was angsty and rebellious in my own way. And yes, I could be a lot further along in this writing and promotion career. I’m not the spring chicken I was but it is never too late to start doing what you love.

So tell me what is holding you back from pursuing your own dreams? For me it is more than the weight or size issue. But, I’m telling you, I’m tired of excuses. I’m reading more, writing more, trying new things, and just going for it.

I want to cultivate some content for my Youtube Channel based on this issue: Overcoming Your Obstacles To Living Your Best Life. So your feedback will help me to really delve deep into how to deal with those issues and find ways to move beyond them so that you can do what will honestly make you thrive in life.

Don’t want to comment publicly? That’s okay! Email your feedback to me at annebellewrites@gmail.com and I’ll do my best to respond. I’m thinking I may even do a few interviews on the topic as well. So, let me know if you’d like to be included if you care to send me your story.

Posted in My Process, The Writer's Life

Snow Days

Texas, oh Texas! You and your crazy weather.

So, it was in the 60s all day Monday. The weather stations kept warning of a winter storm coming our way. And so it did. My final hour at the office I saw the thermometer drop about 12 degrees. The rain began and I opted to come on home instead of making my planned stop off to sign up at the gym. Then, when I woke Tuesday there was all this white stuff that I hadn’t seen in two years. And there was no way my car was going anywhere in that.

You see, Texas so rarely sees snow and ice that they really never properly prepare for it. I drove professionally in Wisconsin in the middle of February. There were snow drifts above my head and temperatures well below zero. Try -30° wind chills, my friends. For a southern girl, that was pretty darn cold. I am no stranger to driving in the white stuff. But Texas doesn’t salt or really treat the roads for ice and snow. Instead, everything seems to shut down.

To be perfectly honest, I was happy with a couple of snow days. I spent them cuddling with my pup and writing for the most part. I made loads of progress on the WIP. And it was all good.

Today it was back to work though. The roads had cleared enough to be driveable again. There was really only one particular part that I was worried about on Wednesday. It still isn’t clear but, it is passable.  I tried to park in the driveway tonight. My car started to slide on me. So, I pulled up into the yard instead and proceeded to slip and catch my jaw with my car door. That’s gonna smart for a while. Glad I did my filming today.

I think I was starting to go a bit stir crazy though. I was ready to get out of the house again. So, I was off and running this morning with my travel mug of coffee in hand and gloves on. The experience this morning only solidified my belief that I would not do well full time in a colder climate. While I have a difficult time with the extreme heat we usually experience here, I’m not so sure that I could take months on end of this sort of snow and ice. I should really find something more temperate for when I retire.  Ha!

I was going to stop by the gym to finalize things there after work. I called only to be told that the manager couldn’t be there tonight but will be happy to meet me tomorrow after work to do all the paperwork. Ten minutes and we’re done and I can work out. So, I have my gym bag packed, my fitbit is charged, and I’m taking my water bottle with me along with my earbuds. I’m ready to get this thing started. I need to do it for myself.

Posted in My Process, The Writer's Life

December Days..

Woke up to a rather dreary day today. The overcast skies and rain didn’t help cure the urge to tell Alexa to snooze for a while.  I still had to get up and make the trek to the office. Like any self-respecting writer, I long for days when all I have to do is drink my coffee and put down my ideas on the page. Like everyone else in the real world though, I get up six days a week and do my duty at the day job.

The first part of the month is the hardest on me. Just a lot of people and only me to service the accounts in question. This is the only time of the month I feel that I need an assistant in my office. But, that won’t happen because I simply don’t have the volume to warrant it over all. This month is really no different. But, I will say that I am glad to have the first over with for the last time this year.

My days are typically pretty lax with this job. I answer phones, make calls, handle store reports, take payments and process loans. But it is generally spread out over the day and I can manage to take a bit of time to draft or plan at the very least. And there is a busy intersection just outside the window to keep me entertained when I am thinking.

Just a few weeks ago, I watched the very violent end of a high-speed chase from a neighboring city. I have no idea what the details of the circumstances are. However, I watched as a car was clipped and a pickup truck was launched into the air turning over twice before it hit the ground and rolled three more times. I was amazed that the driver and the passenger came out of it alive.

There are also several regular jay walkers who, I’m fairly certain, will meet an untimely end eventually. One elderly man in particular comes to mind. I have a tendency to hold my breath whenever I watch him crossing. I also am very happy on the Saturdays that the barbecue people are in the parking lot because their chef will go and walk him across to make sure he gets over okay.

It is a small town where people are friendly and yes, I know most of my customers by first and last name. I can also tell you how many kids some of them have, how many grand kids for others. I take pride in my customer service level. It has been a career for nearly 20 years as I have worked for various companies. And yet, I long for days when I don’t have to see people and deal with a million questions about payments, interest rates, and how people can’t make this or that payment.

Tonight, I’m putting some words into the WIP. I’m typing this blog about essentially nothing more than my day and I will sleep soundly for another night. I’ll get up and do it all over again tomorrow and hopefully avoid the numbers game with the boss. I’ll go through an early Christmas gift and start making a submission plan for 2018.

December is always a month of reflection and planning for me. So, I hope to share a bit of that with all of you in the next few weeks as we get ready for Christmas.

Posted in Family Life, Lessons Learned, Marketing, The Writer's Life, Writing & Publishing

Overcoming Discouragement & Rejection

Being a writer isn’t an easy path. It takes years to perfect your style and voice. You spend most of your time sending out material to be rejected over and over again. So it is a necessity to develop a thick skin early on if you hope to survive the process of being successfully published. This is something that every writer struggles with to some degree. We wouldn’t write stories if we didn’t want people to read them and actually like them. But readers are often fickle and you can’t please everyone.

Some of us are blessed with people who believe in us. Family members encourage us to pursue a passion. They want to see us happy and fulfilled. When we finally show them what we’ve been working on for months or years, they tell us how wonderful it is. They know how much time we’ve put into it. They don’t want to burst our bubble or discourage us, so instead of being completely honest, they sugar coat and tell us to keep going. This isn’t a bad thing. We need those people in our lives. We need that cheering squad. But if that’s all we surround ourselves with dealing with rejections and discouragement can be a death sentence to the dream.

When I was a kid, I was most often surrounded by the side of my family that was full of people who constantly made me feel like nothing I did was good enough. They didn’t see my artistic side as an asset or something to be celebrated. In fact, it landed me in a good heap of trouble with them on more than one occasion. I’ve been a black sheep in the family for years because of it. Believe me, I wear that badge proudly now. Their influence helped me to develop that thick skin and temperment needed to continue despite the rejection and criticism.

I was listening to some vlogs and podcasts about social media and how to gain following etc. And something clicked about what Lisa with Lachri Fine Art said about target audience. Now, granted she is talking about art as opposed to writing. However, the concept is the same. You can choose to go to a general art festival because your work is “for everyone”. But, you draw dogs and do dog portraits. So maybe setting up at a dog show is a better idea. You really can’t expect everyone out there to like your work. And, the internet is full of trolls and people waiting to pounce and kill the dream over technicalities. So try to silence the critics.

You see, for me, I tend to keep things pretty close to the vest. I don’t talk about the rejection often because I process the hurt with my journal and morning pages. I put it on the page and I try to just let it go. I remind myself after the venting process of why I write. I sum it up with a list of reasons to keep going.

  • There are people who like my work.
  • I am always growing as a writer.
  • Each piece I produce is better than the last and that usually brings a new reader along with it.
  • The positive feedback is always a boost and it does happen even when it isn’t family or friends giving it out. The first time I had an Amazon review that wasn’t a family member or friend, I was on cloud nine for weeks and wrote more than I had in months.
  • This is who I am and what I do. It is the one thing that I cannot imagine my life without.
  • And somewhere out there is someone who needs to read the story I produce. I don’t know the reasons. I don’t know how they will come to find it. My job is to be brave enough to put it out there so that they can find it.

Part of that bravery is knowing that the critics are a dime a dozen. And it will often seem like their sole purpose is to pull you down and make you quit. Well, for me, I dealt with enough of that growing up. I was fiesty enough to do it anyway then, and I’m still just as fiesty today. So I keep following my dream, writing my stories, and being brave.

So should you if you’re pursuing an artistic career. Whether you sing, write, create art, or something else entirely; don’t let the world take your passion away. If it brings you joy then it is worth it. Even when it isn’t easy.

I am still finding my feet in the marketing department. But I’m confident that, with time, things will continue to grow and I’ll meet more readers and writers. I know I won’t be everyone’s favorite. That’s okay. At least I’ll find that some people out there do like what I do and they are the ones I want to write for anyway.

If you’re curious about what I write you can hop on over to my Amazon Author Page for a list of my current releases.  And you can always join me over on social media. The buttons at the top will direct you how to connect.

Also if you enjoy learning different art techniques I highly reccommend Lisa over at Lachri Fine Art on YouTube. She’s extremely talented and teaches her techniques through videos there. She’s been awesome for my own art skill progression. So please go check her out.