Monday, June 27, 2011

The good life

I don't want to jinx it or put a kennahara on it (thanks, Will & Grace!), but I really do have a great life. The things that bother me are minor, the house isn't falling apart THAT much, we have enough money, our health is good, the cats are healthy and not killing too many things these days.

I have a few friends, or maybe a lot of friends, who cannot say the same. So just taking the time to say I really lucked out in the life lotto, at least 99% of the time.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Setting a goal doesn't mean not changing it

Ever since the Kelly Stone workshop on June 18, I've been trying to tap my subconscious just before falling asleep at night and just before getting up in the morning.

This morning as I thought about how I'm not hitting my "realistic writing schedule", I realized that setting a goal doesn't mean you can't change it. You might have to tinker with it until it really is realistic.

I know that sounds like slacking off, setting a goal so low you can't possibly NOT attain it, but maybe that's the idea. If you constantly set goals you don't achieve (for whatever reason, even laziness), you're not ever going to feel like a success. Thought-feeling-action, or any permutation of those three, right?

So I need to change my "realistic writing schedule" since it's not getting done. If I set the bar low enough to be attainable, even for my lazy self, then maybe I can work my way up from there, until I'm one of those "N number of pages/day" writers.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Notes from June 18 GRW meeting -- Kelly Stone!

The Galley at the GRW forums will have more details about the first part of the meeting; I'm going to post only what I wrote down at the time.

Does anyone have any connections that/who can give us cool stuff for the gift bags at M&M? Promotional materials can also go into goody room/gift bags.

If you do want to put promotional materials into gift bags, keep in mind that there will be ~250 registrants. You can email – coordinator of promotional/goodybag gifts. [I hope I got that address right.]

Someone had the idea of purple dresses as a theme for M&M, for the awards banquet. [I say, let's do it!]

And probably the most tweeted line of the meeting, from Nikki, describing the appeal of a man in a kilt: “Kilts are like hooters, for ladies.”


Kelly Stone workshop
Motivation and Mishaps: How to build resiliency into the writer’s mindset.

These are psychological techniques that can be applied to your writing life.

[again, just a jumble of what I could write down. The problem with taking notes at her workshops is that EVERYTHING OUT OF HER MOUTH IS WORTH WRITING DOWN. I should just buy her books already.]

What are mishaps? babies, surgery, health, job changes, health, losing loved ones.
What motivates: Money, success, other writers.

How to keep going, how to sustain yourself over the course of many years it might take to get published, how to stay published. A lot of challenges you face before published morph into similar problems after you get published [so it may never be entirely smooth sailing].

Promotional activities eat up your time after you’re published.
How to sustain drive once you’ve finished and face that next blank page.

“The burning desire to write.” It’s what you’ve got to do, then life barges in. Without action behind the desire, you won’t be able to sustain it/overcome mishaps/generate motivation.

The writer’s mindset: thought/feeling/behavior cycle: how you think is how you feel is how you act, or any variation of those three things.

Determine which of those components is the strongest in your life. Can you think/feel your way into doing something? For most people, strongest component is acting your way into thinking/feeling. Sit down to write even if you don’t feel like it, after awhile, you WILL feel like it.

Alfred Adler: “Acting as if”. (Dr. Phil: “Fake it ‘til you make it.”) Over time, you will become that. It influences your thoughts and feelings and it programs your subconscious mind. You can change your beliefs about yourself, but it takes some conscious effort.

Keep a journal for a few days -- any time you have a thought or feeling about writing, jot it down. Takes effort – things flit through your mind, have to pay attention to write them down. Usually the “flit” things are negative.

Look for the subtle, negative thoughts that will sabotage you.
Pick a day to pay attention to all those thoughts.
Enough positive thoughts will cancel out a negative, AND they’re more powerful.
If you catch yourself with a negative thought, switch it immediately to a positive. If you think, "Look at all these books in the store -- I'll never get one onto a shelf", you need to switch it to, "Look at all these books in the store -- someday mine will be here, too."

Feeling to go along with it: feel what it’s going to be like when that positive thought becomes reality. “It’s going to feel great when _______.”

Have to have enough repetition to re-program your conscious mind.
(Based on Napoleon Hill’s work. “The psychology of achievement.” Power of subconscious, how to reprogram it to manifest goals you have for yourself. “Think and Grow Rich” is his most famous book.)

Actions stem from your thoughts and your feelings, and you can act your way into thinking and feeling.

Have to give your subconscious mind a structure of goals that you’re pouring your actions into. BUT THEN you have to back your goals up with actions.

This is why you need a writing schedule. Even if it’s “I’m going to write when [something small]”, it has to be scheduled. Write it down – visual things are powerful to subconscious mind.
Whatever schedule is, FOLLOW IT. If you can’t, you need to get a new goal.

Actions must match up to goals, or it trains your mind in the wrong way.
If you can’t match, find out why: unrealistic goal, wrong genre, style/time doesn’t work, etc.

Actions are the only constant you can control to any degree. Thoughts and feelings about all kinds of things will change, but actions are controllable. That’s why they influence thoughts and feelings.

[Then we did this exercise:]
Write on paper: think about a trait of resiliency or motivation, or think of an author you admire who is resilient, motivated, etc. Think of a trait you would like to instill in yourself.
For example: Discpline, persistence.

If you could instill it in yourself, how would you feel? how would a writer like that act?

Write “I am” and then the trait.
Then write “I feel” [fulfilled, successful] when I am (trait)
Then write an action you’ll take to feel and act that trait.

[Mine was:
I am diligent.
I feel like I've achieved something when I am diligent.
I'm going to set a writing schedule that's realistic.]

One thing you can do this week to do those things above.
Hang this by your computer and read it every day. It's a way to program your subconscious.

Repetition: replace negative with positive, repeat.
This process is cumulative in nature. Takes repetition.

Feelings are fleeting. The subconscious has to have it [feel it?] over and over to make it a reality.
Make # [hashtag] in your journal for [negative] things that come up a lot – that’s what you need to tackle first.

Read statements into your own eyes in a mirror.
“I’m a best-selling author.” Nothing wrong with having that as a goal. Need the actions to back it up, but it’s a good goal.
Or a goal to write: “I’ll write X days/week for the coming week.” Put on a card under your pillow – giving the subconscious a concrete [thing] to hook onto.

Visualize lots of details for this goal BEFOREHAND. Every day. Visualize the details the night before for morning goals, visualize details at work for evening goals.

You have to believe that this process will work for you. Or at least try to be neutral towards it while you try it.

Hypnagogic state – the state just before sleep and just before wakefulness. (Hypnagogia on Wikipedia.)
You can induce it – lay down, but hold one arm up so you don’t actually sleep. Keep a notebook nearby. If you have a question, this is a good time to address it to your subconscious mind. Blocked? Ask your subconscious in the hypnagogic state. If will work IF YOU TRUST THE PROCESS.

Put together pictures on a bulletin board or make a collage that supports the writer’s self-image that you want. Anything that calls to you – don’t think about it too much. Pictures, words, anything related to that word you want to be [from the previous exercise]. Anytime you’re stuck, or when you get up, before you go to bed, just look at it. It will seep into your subconscious mind.

Write an author bio for yourself [as if you're already a successful author] and read it every day. “S has sold 50 books, won a RITA,” etc. It gives your subconscious something to grab onto, BUT then back it up with action.

Role-modeling: pick an author you admire. What would she do when faced with a problem in your writing? List traits that that author has. If you don’t know her traits, make them up.
WWND? (What Would Nora Do?)

That’s the hook to give your subconscious the images that you’re striving for.

Image incorporation: take traits of role model, get into alpha/relaxed state, ask your subconscious, “Help me to write every day like A.” “Help me to get great ideas like B.” Have to stick with it, have to suspend judgement. And you have to trust what comes.

Relaxation technique. Pick a role model, think of a question you want to ask her: What should I write next? How do I get an agent?

The point of this exercise is that your answers are within you. Also to give you an image of your subconscious mind.

[She said that she's reassured people in the past that tapping into your subconscious won't turn you schizophrenic or crazy. One woman said, "I can imagine I'm asking someone else, but any answer I get will be coming from my own mind. Kelly replied, "That's right. If you're getting those answers from someone else's mind, then you can start worrying."]

[I tried to visualize a writer I found online two days ago, but I haven't read anything of hers yet, haven't seen a picture, I just thought her books look really good and she's had quite a few published. What I saw was a kind of pixelated computer icon, which didn't give me any answers. So, not a good choice for this exercise. Maybe once I've actually read something she's written.

As the exercise was ending, I decided to go for a last-ditch effort, so I visualized Jayne Ann Krentz as she looked in one of her book jacket photos. The words came up immediately. She told me, “Have fun with it.”]

Last piece of action: Hold yourself accountable. Write down writing goal for next month, exchange with someone at your table. Email after a month, see if you’ve met your goal.

I exchanged goals with Anne Lovett. Her goal for the next month is to write 2 new chapters. [Hi, Anne, if you see this! :)]

My goal is to write something in the novel every day, even if it’s only 100 words. [It didn't happen yesterday, but it will happen today! Positive thoughts! :)]

[Something that Kelly Stone's workshop at last year's M&M influenced me to do -- my passwords for various writing sites used to be variations on statements like, "Don't write that" or "My writing sucks", things like that. But a month or so after really getting into RWA/GRW, I changed my passwords to more positive statements.]

Friday, June 17, 2011

Hi to everyone from Dreamspinner and Rainbow Romance Writers!

I've told only my husband and my critique group so far, but the short story I was working on in May did get accepted to Dreamspinner Press' anthology, "Cross Bones".

Dreamspinner has been amazing with their support, and I'll soon have an author bio up at their site (if I can ever decide on the wording).

I'm also a new member of Rainbow Romance Writers, an online chapter of RWA, recommended by Suzanne Brockmann when I told her I write M/M romances.

So hello to anyone from those groups who gets over here!

Since submitting that story, I've been reading the RWR magazines, catching up on GRW forums, going through the dreamspinner author and RRW yahoo groups, reading articles and blogs, finding out all kinds of fascinating author-y stuff.

The only thing I haven't been doing is writing.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


Yes, we need the rain, but right now I'm stuck at work, in what's basically a trailer because of the remodeling, during a massive thunderstorm. Umbrella is in the car. It should let up really soon. Any second now.

Last night I stumbled across some big news back in November of 2009, about Harlequin Enterprises starting a vanity press line and basically getting booted out of RWA's good graces because of how they set it up. But it all seems to be sorted out now?

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Maybe I do believe in myself, just a little

I was ranting in an email to Evangeline, one of the members of my critique group, and I realized something important that I'd like to post here as well:
I was reading last month's RWR article about believing in yourself, and I was thinking about how I *don't* really believe in my talent as a writer.

I mean, there are so many writers who write so much better than I do. I tried to tell myself that there are writers who get published who write *worse* than I do...but that didn't really help until I realized that some of my favorite romance novelists won't ever be nominated for Pulitzers, BUT! I love their stories and their characters.

I have fun reading those books, re-reading them. And other people enjoy them, too. I didn't want to write romances to get a Pulitzer, I just wanted to write stories that I like and that other people might like. And I think maybe I have enough "talent" to do that.

I don't aspire to be a NYT best-selling author, I just want to have fun and tell stories. Is that a bad thing? I think if I can rise above "dilettante", I'll be ahead of my own curve for once.

Monday, June 6, 2011

M&M Registration: check!

Just registered for Moonlight & Magnolias, at the GRW rate this year. Yay, me! If you haven't yet, go do it now!!

Did quick research on the editors/agents; hope I picked some good ones. I've come so far since last year -- now I know the difference between an editor and an agent. *headdesks*

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Notes from May 21 RWA meeting – Dianna Love and Barbara Vey on Building Reader Loyalty

(Let's see how big of a post Blogspot will take. I put all of this in a facebook note, but I'm trying it here as well. And something I forgot to include in the facebook note: Nancy Knight asked people to email her, since she's become an agent as well as everything else she does., I think. She said she'll represent pretty much anything except YA erotica, which I don't think is a real genre. At least, I hope it's not. I know teenagers read erotica, I just want plausible deniability.)

Dianna Love and Barbara Vey on Building Reader Loyalty

Q: What does reader loyalty mean?
A: That they’ll buy your book, and they’ll buy your book again.

(Throughout the talk, Dianna and Barbara mentioned lots of things I’ve never heard of – sites, blogs, publishers. It made me aware of how many resources are out there if you’re looking for ways to promote your books. Actually, the flow of previously unknown information was kind of overwhelming....Also, as I transcribe these notes, they seem kind of all over the place, but maybe little bits here and there will be useful.)

Things that you as an author can do to build loyalty: sign books for everyone who shows up at signings. Dianna and Barbara told some stories about staying past closing time at bookstores just to make sure everyone got their book signed, even if it meant doing it in the parking lot after dark. Also stories about authors who were unpleasant at their own book signings.

You’ll get loyal readers BEFORE you write your book – times have changed. Social media, conferences, book signings. [Not sure why I wrote that down; maybe the point was that people will know/meet you online or at writing-related events, not necessarily after you’ve published.]

YOU HAVE TO BRAND YOURSELF before your book comes out so that you have a built-in audience. The way to do this is by blogging, online book.[Can’t remember what that means, sorry.] Don’t wait for them to find your book in a store and THEN find you.

Go to conferences, got o Barbara’s blog party. Get known on blogs that readers read – they’ll know your name (and then when your book comes out, they’ll go, “Hey, I remember her!”).

Giveaways can jumpstart a loyal reader. “Giveaway Mondays” on Barbara’s Blog. If you have free stuff to give away, email her a one-sentence description of the item, which must be free. It’s free advertising.

Ask readers what THEY would like as giveaways.

Readers and writers have to form a community. [I meant to ask how you avoid stalkers, but I forgot.]

Publisher’s Weekly has a blog and/or facebook page, and they also have a Romance Newsletter that comes out twice a month. Talk to Barbara if you want something mentioned in that.

E-books: some sales are growing faster than paper books’ sales are dropping. Readers read, and they love to talk about books they read, no matter how the medium changes.

If you don’t like meeting people in person, learn to do it online. New York (i.e. traditional publishers) don’t meet readers, they have surveys done and look at results.

Not all readers have e-readers (so giving away free e-versions of your story isn’t always helpful?).

Give readers a reason to read your book, even if they “don’t read that.”

BE a reader: if they don’t read your genre, recommend someone else’s books that are in a genre they DO read. They’ll remember you, your name.

Don’t ever assume someone reads or doesn’t read your genre. If they don’t, their friends, spouses, parents do.

One reader at a time. The business credo: It’s less expensive to keep a client than to get a new one.

Carry your book or a bookmark to show/give away. Dianna and Barbara told a story about giving away a book to a waitress, who got all excited, held up the book so everyone in the restaurant could see the free book she just got. Now the whole restaurant knew about the book.

Find a common ground with your readers and talk about it in your blog. Write how you talk. Talk about embarrassing stuff, funny stuff – find that common ground. Barbara told a story about blogging about a publishing conference she’d been to, and she mentioned a weird combination toilet/bidet in her bathroom at the hotel, and of course, that’s all the readers of her blog wanted to discuss.

You are a business now, you’re a commodity. If your writing is a hobby, you don’t have to market yourself. BUT if you want to do this as a business, you need to do this stuff.

Keep your website updated, have contact info available. Use your writer name/pseudonym in your blog, facebook page, website. It’s a pain to maintain a website or build a new one, but readers go straight to the website.

If you don’t keep up with a blog, don’t do it at all. Guest blog if you don’t want to have your own. If you do guest blog, reply to your comments and questions.

If you do guest blog or post on other people’s blogs, don’t say, “BUY MY BOOK, BUY MY BOOK”. But you can mention that you have a book coming out IF you’re already known on that blog.

HOW TO LOSE READERS: think little of your readers, don’t want to meet them.

When you walk out the door, you’re ON. You never know who you’re talking to – it could be current or future readers. It won’t always be convenient to meet with people, but make the time. [A question that came up as I was transcribing: what if you’re exclusively an e-author? There won’t be book signings. Do you still have to meet people in person?]

HOW TO BUILD LOYALTY: Readers want a good story. But they also want authors who take the time to interact with their readers.

Readers like to meet like-minded readers, at websites, blogs.

When you’re talking to your readers, give them your entire attention – over other authors, publishers, agents, whoever.

If a reader says something positive about your book, no matter what, you say, “Thank you.” Barbara’s example story for this was about a fan, so excited to meet Jackie Collins at a book-signing that his hands were white-knuckled on his copies of her books. When he got up to her, he told her, “I love your romances!” She replied icily, “I don’t write romances. I write relationships.” Barbara said she could SEE the excitement go out of that guy, and she will not read another Jackie Collins book ever again.

Dianna said that she and Sherrilyn Kenyon (sp?) don’t charge for photos with fans – it’s almost like a giveaway.

If you do blog, know your audience. If you blog for other authors, don’t expect readers to be interested. If you blog for readers, make it for readers. Barbara said that she will often get “reader blurbs” for books, which gets other readers to read them.

Do fun contests – T-shirts, books. Something like, “Everyone who comments today gets put into a drawing for a giveaway.”

Post pictures, anyone going on, not just about your books.

Link your twitter and facebook. Maybe do one thing a day (twitter OR facebook OR blog), then be done for that day. You don’t have to read everyone’s posts.

Get Dianna Love’s book “Break Into Fiction”. [I bought it, so if any of you want to borrow it, just let me know.]

Q&A towards the end:

Q: Review sites – should authors go there?
A by Dianna: She will not go on anything that’s negative or attacks anyone. We should support ALL authors. So check review sites before blogging [for them?] or sending your book to be reviewed there. Decide what you want to support. Find reviewers of your books and thank them.
[I used to go to a review site, for readers, that does give poor reviews when they feel it’s warranted. The last time I went there was after reading the first part of a book that was so bad, I had to stop reading it. I wanted to see how they’d reviewed it. They hadn’t reviewed that particular book, but the reviewers on that site consistently gave that author Ds or Fs and finally said they weren’t going to review any more of her books because of those low ratings. Since my taste was similar to most of the reviewers, I valued their opinions.
I feel like readers have the right to know if a book is good or bad before they buy it, although “good or bad” can be very subjective. That same author had glowing reviews on, so like I said about fanfic: no matter how bad the story, there’s someone out there who will love it.
Anyway, I suppose I get what Dianna was saying – as authors, we should support other authors.]
Also sort of on this topic: Barbara will not allow a negative blurb [on her blog]. If a reader doesn’t like the book, Barbara will pass the book to another readers, because someone out there will like the book. [Hey, my point again!]

Blog tours (i.e. guest blogging?) – check the site, make sure they have a lot of readers.

DO NOT ENGAGE if someone says something negative about you.

Keep in mind that a reviews is [just] an opinion.

Ask readers about blog sites, review sites.

Anyone sees your name often enough, they’ll remember your name in real life or online.

Blog entries/movies [?] – keep them short! Don’t work on a blog post more than 20 minutes. Another general rule is to keep them to 350 words or less.

A few things I wrote in the margins: Friends from Beyond Her Book Party

Publisher’s Weekly blog

Seekerville, a blog for unpublished writers?

Pioneer Woman (I hope I have the right site). Example of how a blog about living in the country struck a chord with readers.

Saturday, June 4, 2011


Went to Charleston for Memorial Day weekend, not realizing that Spoleto was still on, but amazingly, it wasn't horribly crowded. Hung out with a friend from elementary school who is also on facebook and moved to the area about four months ago. We had a great time catching up!

Monday, drove down to Beaufort, which I'd picked off of googlemaps to set part of that Dreamspinner story in. Nice town, great coffee shop called City Java and News, carriage ride, old houses.

Massively busy week at work -- still have some stuff to finish tonight or tomorrow morning, but had critique group meeting today, yay! Lots of good stuff as usual, and now we all have our goals for next time. BTW, everyone hit their goals from the last meeting, so double-yay.

BTW, anyone know how to post pics to these blogs? Thanks.