Posted in promo, Thoughts

Making Goals

Some weeks I can’t get out of my own way. I sabotage myself. One of my problems is taking on too much. I often struggle to get my writing done amid my other obligations such as two writing groups, a full-time job, and large family. I want to do it all and I want to do it yesterday.

While I’m not a planner by nature, after taking Sarra Cannon’s HB90 program I’ve learned to be more reasonable about my goals and try to plan accordingly. I still don’t always get it right. Things happen and derail a tightly scheduled plan but I’ve lived most of my life by the seat of my pants. I may have a plan but if that doesn’t work I have a plan B, C and D. Of course, D is duck and cover, but hey, it is a plan.

This past week due my failed attempt at being a stunt double (I flew over the dog’s lead and landed on the sidewalk) I was not up to my usual performance level. One good thing about not being completely mobile, is I managed to surpass three of my writing goals: 1) I wrote every day, 2) I wrote over 10,000 words, and 3) I reached 30,000 and even made it to 40,000 words in my work in progress.

I am close to the end of the first draft and I’m sending out the call for advanced readers. If anyone wishes to read Trent’s Melody before it is published just message me here or through social media. As an advanced reader I would appreciate being made aware of any grammar or story errors you find, your help promoting the book and your review when it is published.

I have been an advanced reader for several of my favorite authors most recently, Reese Ryan and Sabrina Jeffries. It can be fun being a part of the promo team especially if you are a fan of the books or author. I wish I had more time to be an advanced reader for authors I adore but that is one of the worst things about being an author, the lack of time to read except for research.

Last year and again this year, I have made a point of making time for pleasure reading. It’s not as easy amid the critiquing and classes, as well as research reading I need to do but I am determined to have a little fun with my old time favorite hobby, reading.

In case you missed the announcement, the winner of my name the renovation show contest is Pamlico County School teacher, Susan Long with Renovate-ology. Congratulations, Susan! Renovate-ology will be the name of the show in Trent’s Melody. Susan won a $5 Amazon gift card and will have a brief acknowledgement in the book. I felt the name was unique but still familiar, and would work if I decided to use it in another series. Thank you to all of you who sent in ideas. There were several really good ones. Two of the runner-ups were: Debbie’s Renovation Innovation and Barb’s Second Chance Renovation. There were some others who were memorable but just didn’t quite fit for future stories: Property Reboot, Sextacular Renovations, Form and Figure Fabrications, Bros who love M & M’s and many more.

Don’t forget to send in your poems or songs for Trent’s Melody. The contest ends April 24th. Already there have been some great submissions.

Posted in quarterly goals, Thoughts

My Pep Talk to Myself

The emotional ups and downs of being an author don’t always follow the pattern of our books’ success and failure. Too often, it is the low that comes after a super high, only to plummet back to reality.

As I look back at the month of August and what I’ve accomplished and haven’t accomplished, I find myself fighting melancholy. Why? A two-star review on Goodreads for Janie’s Secrets, not making the finals in Kindle Book Review Awards for Red Steel, feeling like I don’t have the time to do everything I need to do or want to do. I worked very hard to write a novella for the Heart of Carolina’s upcoming anthology only to realize I didn’t have time to finish it. Failure is crushing even when it is self-inflicted failure.

But I should be doing somersaults after all I have accomplished this month. Chrome Pink made it into the Amazon Top 100 Kindle Free Books. It finished #34 on Sunday, August 30th after a Free Booksy Ad. It also reached #3 in Romantic Suspense and #4 in Suspense. Over 2000 books were down loaded on Sunday and that doesn’t even count the books I sold or the ones down loaded on other sites. I should be sailing in the clouds but I allowed a bad review, not even a really bad review but a 2-star rating, crush me. Why? Because I’m human. I can tell you I’m tired, I put my heart into my stories, they’re like my children, I want people to like me/them. The truth is not everyone is going to like my stories. Not everyone is going to like me.

I’m not alone in my emotional roller coaster, many authors, especially indie authors feel the same way I do. Author Sarra Cannon, whom I follow on YouTube with her Heart Breathing Channel and whose courses, Publish and Thrive and her HB90 changed my life, speaks of mental health and well-being in her videos. We often put too much on our plates and expect to be able to perform well, but like the juggler with his chainsaws that last addition can be catastrophic.

In Sarra’s HB90 course she talks of planning quarterly, 90-day increments and even breaking those down into monthly expectations. Sitting down with a planner, thinking of what I have to do, want to do and need to do. How much time things will take and how much time I will actually have to devote to the tasks amid life, work and family. Allowing time to sleep, eat and maybe even cuddle with my husband.

I really have no reason to feel down. I know much of what I’m feeling stems from fear, exhaustion and coming off the high of other successes. For those of you who fear this might be a whining session and wish to tune out, it’s not, this is my pep talk to myself and to anyone else who is happy when they see one sale a day or are thrilled when their free book gets 100 downloads. I keep telling myself I’ve only been published three years. I have six books, seven if you count my trilogy of the first three books I just released, plus I have novellas in several anthologies. I’ve come a long way in a short time. Even though I’ve been writing for over forty years, I’ve only started writing to publish in the past fifteen years with a couple of years off after losing our house and my father. We had a couple of really rough years.

So, what do I have to whine about? Nothing. I should be celebrating. I have had over 300 new subscribers to my newsletter, that is both exciting and terrifying. I thought, how can I keep these people interested? What hoops will I have to jump through to keep them? But then I thought of the ones who have been with me all along the way. My steadfast friends who read everything I write good and bad, who offer opinions and assistance, and I realized, I just need to be real. I just need to be me. Yes, I’ll lose some people but that’s okay. Some will come for the free book, some will stay a while and go, others will be here for the duration. I just need to be the best me I can be for that is all I can be. That’s all any of us can be.

I know putting my books out into the world for other people to read means some won’t like it, but some will. Channeling Sarra Cannon again, I’m going to write from my place of joy. I’m going to write the books that I feel compelled to write and hope they will appeal to readers. It is time to get back to work on Roxy’s Secret.

For those of you who received my newsletter, I sent the first few pages of the novella I was writing for the Heart of Carolina anthology. I didn’t get to finish it and I’m starting to think it might be a full-length novel. I think I might try a stand-alone novel once Roxy is wrapped up. Maybe I can tie it into my other stories. I’ll have to think about it.

My goals for August: Promote Janie’s Secrets, I’m still working on it. Start Roxy’s Betrayal, I’ve started but I’ve not made the progress I’d hoped. Increase Newsletter subscriptions, okay this has tripled thanks to Bookfunnel. Janie is free in a Bookfunnel promo this month,

Janie’s Secret is also in a Cover of the Month contest on All Author,  I’d appreciate your vote.

Janie’s Secrets is also in a Book Tour on Instagram and Facebook, through September 6th. I’d appreciate your support.

I still need to learn more about Publisher’s Rocket but I’m tackling it in small bites.

One other thing I accomplished this month I’ve been wanting to do for a while was to combine the first three books of the Leeward Files into one book. It’s only on sale for a little while longer.

I haven’t even planned what I’m going to try to accomplish in September but we’re going to do some great things: #1 write Roxy’s Betrayal. I’ll figure out the rest but that’s the most important.

I hope my whine, rant, pep talk has helped someone else. The truth is some days this is my dream job and other days it’s a nightmare. Sometimes it’s all on the same day.

Posted in inspiration, Thoughts, writing inspiration, Writing tips

Fluctuating Word Count

some days are awesome

Do you get discouraged by your word count? Do you have one week that is really fantastic and another that is just not something to be proud of? Yeah, well that’s me. Some days, some weeks I have so much going on at work, with my life, in my head that I don’t get the word count I’d hope for.

Doing NaNoWriMo this month, we feel a certain need to get at least 1667 words per day in order to make our 50,000 word goal by the end of November but some days I’m lucky to have five minutes to sit down and write. So what do you do? How do you keep up your word count? How do you keep from getting discouraged and just saying forget it?

some days I just can’t push any more

Several years ago I started participating in a monthly word count challenge, Book in a Week, with my local RWA, the Heart of Carolina. At first I would get embarrassed adding my 200-300 words per day to their two to three thousand words per day word counts. When I expressed this embarrassment, one of my fellow writers told me to celebrate each new word. That has stayed with me. Sarra Cannon in her Heart Breathing YouTube videos talks often about our joy of writing and how important it is not to lose that. It is the love of writing, of telling a story that first brought us to this place, or at least it was for me.

Doing what we love is fun but it is still work. Some days, if you are busy with your other job, your family, other obligations, squeezing in time to write, especially before you’re published or making money with your writing, feels like a luxury you don’t always have time for. Our time is valuable and we only have 24 hours in a day. How much time can you devote to writing? How many minutes can you actually sit your butt in the chair and write? Do you have an hour, thirty minutes? I’ve been training myself over the past few years to write in 5 to 10 minute increments. It’s not always easy to get back in the swing of the story when you have to stop every few minutes and do something else, but carving out time throughout the day has helped me build my word count.

Whether you add five new words or five thousand, it is still progress. If you have five minutes two or three times a day to write a few words, you can accomplish more than you realize. I recently timed my writing and I did 361 words in 10 minutes, now I have not yet tested it to see if that is my average but I do know three hundred plus is possible. While that’s not a lot on it’s own, I remember when I could only do that many in a day. If I can write 300 words in ten minutes and I can do that three times a day for three days, that’s 900 words per day and 2700 for three.

Build up your writing skills by writing daily or as often as you can during a week. I truly believe you need at least three sessions a week to build up your word count. Like a baby just learning to walk, we shouldn’t expect ourselves to be finishing a novel in one month the first time we try, but even if you do not win NaNoWriMo, how much will you have accomplished because you tried? What other benefits will you receive as a result of participating in NaNo?

My first NaNo taught me I could write on a schedule. It made me more accountable for my daily word count. It taught me what I could do if I made the effort to write daily. Now, like anything we try to do on a daily basis, sometimes I just cannot squeeze another minute out of the day, or I’m so tired I can’t think straight and need to take a break. But because I have tried to make writing a priority, I make a point to write at least three days a week for a couple of hours per day. Now, sometimes those hours are broken up into smaller increments but I’ve learned I can write 30 minutes in the morning before work and some mornings I can get an hour. Breaks and lunches allow another 10 minutes to an hour. After work I can usually squeeze in another thirty minutes to an hour. No matter how you have to do it, if you want to write, you can do it but it takes effort and dedication on your part.

Word count, like weight and age, it’s just a number. Yes, we want to finish our books quickly and move onto the next. We want to win NaNoWriMo and see that winner’s sticker on our stuff but the true prize isn’t the number of words per day or winning NaNo. The true prize is doing what we love, finishing the book we dreamed of writing, and knowing with each day we can be better writers, faster writers and accomplish so much more because we tried.

Happy NaNoWriMo if you are doing it. Happy Writing!