I never thought I’d homeschool. I taught for a combination of fifteen years in two different public school districts. I ‘used’ to believe the stereotypes that homeschooled kids were isolated and were ultra conservative.
Then I had issues with my son’s elementary school and had to come to a decision. Either keep him in a school that was failing him or take him out and homeschool through a charter school.
I had to make an adjustment by finding more creative ways to get my writing done.
One way to do this was to combine research for my projects with son’s science/history classes. For his world history unit, we attended the Pompeii Exhibition at the
California Science Center in L.A.
This research also helped with my GODDESSESseries.
For his science unit, we went to the Grand Canyon. The terrain is very similar to the setting in my futuristic thriller.
I couldn’t resist the Biodome at the Discovery Science Center in Santa Ana, California. This center has great science topics for kids and more research for my futuristic thriller.
A trip to Sacramento, and the Sacramento Historical Cemetery helped with some background in my upcoming sequel to CROSSED OUT.
How else do I get any writing in?
One piece of advice I took to heart came from fellow YA author Marlene Perez. She had a number of deadlines to meet plus she just had twin girls. She told me, “You need to seize every opportunity you get to write.”
I figured if she could get books out with twins? What was my excuse?
Mar has been and continues to be a big inspiration to me.
I’m lucky as my son’s enrolled in a charter school that has a student center with other credentialed teachers. I drop him off at the center and go to the coffee house to write. I’m there for around 3 hours or more twice a week.
So this is my latest writing place:
I have Spotify Playlists for each of my projects. When I’m at the coffee house, I put in my earplugs and listen to the music. This gets me in the character’s mind and also tunes out the other people inside the coffee house. Though I do admit, I’ve stolen some great dialogue from conversations I eavesdropped on!
I have a planner that I schedule in writing time and check it off when I complete it. I also give myself little ‘rewards’ like an extra latte, colorful pen, or a new YA novel when I accomplish my goals. I figure I used incentives with my first graders to help motive them to complete tasks. Why not me?
In my purse I carry notepads and pens. This gives me no excuse not to write.
I think the biggest thing is giving myself permission to write. Some think that just because I homeschool, that means that I’m available 24/7. I’ve learned to say ‘no’ a lot more too.
I believe that if something is important to you? You’ll find the time to do it. Writing is important to me. I’ve just learned to find more creative ways to do it.
I grew up watching superhero TV shows and reading comic books, so you might expect me to be a fan of superhero fiction. Unfortunately, superheroes have rarely translated well into short stories or novels for me. I either find the stories shallow translations of comic books or I find that the author tips the scales too much in the other direction and spends so much time on probing the superhero’s psyche that they forget to give us the action and fun that makes the genre special. That said, Greg Ballan’s Hybrid: Forced Vengeance has shown me that a superhero novel can be just as thrilling as the best comics and movies while adding the depth and complexity we’ve come to expect from great fiction.
An alien called Jakor has combined the DNA of a detective named Erik Knight with that of his own race, the Espers. Knight can essentially transform into a metallic being with super strength and telepathy. Bullets can hurt him, but they’re not fatal. What’s more, he possesses an Esper staff with the ability to transform into swords, shields, and other useful items. As Hybrid: Forced Vengeanceopens, Knight is on a mission for the U.S. Government in Saudi Arabia. While there, his pregnant wife Shanda is apparently killed in a car crash. While still grieving for his wife, Knight is sent on a new mission. This time, he must protect the daughter of the French president from an assassination plot.
Once Knight goes overseas, we learn that Shanda did not die after all. She’s been taken to Area 51 in the Nevada Desert so the military can take her newborn, study the child, and try to make more malleable super soldiers than the willful Erik Knight. Shanda turns out not to be the only captive of the story’s villain, Colonel Ross. It turns out the government also holds an alien called Gray from a race called the Observers. Ross hopes that Gray will give him the secrets to a flying saucer the government shot down years before.
Through the course of the novel, Knight gets caught up in a web of intrigue, suspense, and government conspiracy. Ballan introduces us to many characters, each with their own agendas. Most important of all, Hybrid: Forced Vengeancenever forgets to be a fun-filled, action-packed ride. At times, Ballan threatens to go over the top with some of the situations he presents, but superhero stories are supposed to be morality plays that pit the best heroes against the worst villains in the most extreme circumstances. Hybrid: Forced Vengeance delivers just that.
Erik Knight takes an honored place alongside my favorite superheroes from the comics. I can’t wait to join him for another adventure.
JD: That must have been very exciting. You, yourself, have now won many awards for your writing. My favorite book of yours has always been Unforgettable Rogue, with the fascinating hero Bryceson Wakefield. I love how you gave the Beauty and the Beast theme that Annette Blair twist, too. Do you have a favorite Annette Blair book?
AB: Actually, Unforgettable Rogue is one of my favorites, too. And Thee I Love, rereleased as Jacob’s Return, an Amish historical and one of the three books that comprised my first sale. I loved trips to Amish country to research and Jacob and Rachel’s struggles hold a special place in my heart.
JD: You had a fan send you a touching note about that book, didn’t you?
AB: Yes! A European fan wrote to say that reading Jacob’s Return, taught her God would forgive anything. That was sweet, and a testament to the power of words, I think.
JD: When did you realize that you were truly a successful author? That you’d “made it” so to speak?
JD: OMG, yes! Hitting the NYT was as exciting for your friends as it was for you. So tell me, what advice can you give authors who are just starting out, or who haven’t broken through in terms of sales or hitting bestseller lists, to reach their dream?
AB: Two pieces of advice that are the best, in my opinion, are write the best book you can and Never Give Up. Tenacity sometimes appears to be underappreciated but it’s truly what helps you to succeed.
JD: Very good advice, Annette. Speaking of the best, what qualities do you feel make a romance novel a true “keeper” – a beloved book that you will read over and over again?
AB: Emotional connection. If your emotions are engaged, you can become those characters. You enter their world and lose the real world around you.
JD: I agree. I’ve always said the mark of a keeper for me is when I feel I’ve lived the story. I’ve inhabited that world and know these people by the time I reach the end.
I’m sure many readers have Annette Blair books on their keeper shelves. What’s one of the coolest things a fan has ever done for you?
AB: One reader crocheted a table mat that she’d woven Annette Blair into. That was pretty impressive.
JD: Nice! No easy task, either. Can we tell your fans about your latest release?
AB: Of course (we laugh). I’ve recently released Three Days on a Train, a romance novella about lost love that finds its way home. They met as youngsters, two different sides of the tracks, neither impressed with the other, but by high school theirs was a passion for the ages. Her disapproving father interferes, causing each to think they were the abandoned one. Thirteen years later their friends trick them into three days on a train.
JD: Sounds intriguing. What do you have in the works for novels?
AB: My current project is Everlasting, a contemporary romance. The hero and heroine meet when a building collapses and they are trapped. Fate planned for him to live and her to die, but he turns the table, giving her his escape route that can only hold one. In heaven, he becomes her guardian angel, a reward that quickly becomes a punishment for him when he falls in love with her. Noticing his poor attention to his other charges, his angel friend pushes him back to earth for a chance at everlasting love.
JD: That is a great story. As friends, we often bounce ideas and questions off each other. You have many author friends dear to you. Why is this type of community so important to an author?
AB: A fellow writer will understand you like no other. Writers get writers, even better than the people who love them, They get those writer idiosyncrasies and understand the issues that can throw you off track – or keep you on. Ours is a solitary art and having people you can reach out to within that world is priceless.
JD: Very true. Now, you are considered a hybrid author since you are published both traditionally and independently. You’ve since chosen to exclusively self-publish. How did you find that transition?
AB: I didn’t find it difficult at all. While I still have published work with Lachesis and Penguin Random House, and those experiences were good experiences, I’m very happy with self-publishing. I enjoy the control I have over my work now.
JD: That’s a good point. Can you tell us what’s changed for you in terms of marketing and promotional work?
AB: I now have daily marketing responsibilities, so much so that I’ve had to hire help, so it’s time-consuming, but it’s rewarding.
JD: For you, what have been some pros and cons of self-publishing?
AB: PROS: I have total control of my work, from back cover blurbs and marketing to covers. Covers were a huge incentive for me. CONS: Foreign sales and audio sales can get complicated. It’s a learning curve, but again, to me it’s worth it.
JD: Before you go, I have one last question. It’s tricky, because we know you love snacks, but what go-to treat do you like to indulge in when you’re writing.
AB: I do love snacks. Now you said treat, so I’m going to go with Cape Cod Chips.
JD: Great choice! They’re so crunchy good. Thank you for sitting with me and chatting, Annette. As always, it’s been fun and informative.
Sarah Duncan had the kind of beauty suited for the ballrooms of London, not the back alleys of Ireland. But she was a healer, not a debutante. Her life was devoted to helping others, not dressing up and attending fancy balls.
And then one stormy night she met him. He was a young, English naval officer, who arrived on her doorstep with his deathly ill friend. Her life would be forever changed.
Lieutenant Robert Smythe, acting Captain of The Brunswick, was determined to find the killer who’d poisoned his commander and friend. With Sarah’s knowledge of plants and herbs, he would investigate this devious crime. Posing as his fiancée, she would be off limits to a crew of randy men at sea.
Sarah’s beauty was captivating, but her strength and courage drew him like a talisman.He was determined to catch the killer and keep her safe. Indeed, he would protect her with his very life.
It’s not very often that I find myself finishing a book with my jaw literally dropped open. That’s what happened with David Lee Summers’new novel, Heirs of the new Earth. I flat out admit I was disappointed. Not with the ending of the tale but the very fact that I had come to the adventure’s conclusion. Summers carefully breaks up his tale into sections and like a master weaver threads separate story arcs and characters across the galaxy, spinning the fabric of an amazing tale of science fiction adventure that kept me on the edge of my chair eagerly scrolling page after page. A warning to every reader . . . block off a good chunk of time, pour your favorite beverage and sit down in your favorite comfort chair. Once you start reading, the story jumps out and grabs hold, drawing you into a world one thousand years in the future where mankind has spread across the universe, contacted other intelligent life, and colonized new worlds.
Not all life in the galaxy is warm, fuzzy and humanoid. This, in my opinion, is where Summers shines like a fiery day star. The author creates a palpable sense of awe and dread painting an intricate portrait of a mysterious alien race known only as the Cluster. Summers’ prologue gives the reader a sense of the mysterious alien(s), their history in the galaxy and the beings’ desire to merge with another species to use as “Appendages”. Unfortunately for humanity WE have been chosen. Summers intricately dissects the cost/benefit analysis of human interaction with an “All powerful entity” motivated to “Help” us cure disease and cleanse the Earth for our benefit. Sometimes the price for paradise can be too steep and the motivation of a benefactor not always as pure as one is led to believe. Summers creates a viable web of intrigue and puts a morality study into play as humanity is unwittingly aiding in its own destruction.
Summers takes the battle for humanity into deep space at the Galactic Core with incredible ships such as the Mapping Cruiser ‘Nicholas Sanson’ led by Captain John Mark Ellis and the refit pirate schooner ‘Legacy’ headed by the elder Captain Ellision Firebrandt. But he also utilizes cerebral pathways and gateways of the human mind manipulated by the advanced alien intellect. Summers’ brilliant depiction of an ancient sailing vessel navigating interstellar space populated by copies of human brain patterns literally made me stop mid-read and ponder the possibility of such an incredible concept. Summers goes even further as he creates the final epic space battle to save humanity from its “Benefactors.” It is here that all the story arcs come together, each fabric of Summers’ tapestry woven to perfection culminating in the final battle to save humanity not only from the Cluster but from itself. Again, David Lee Summers shows his story-telling genius by throwing a major twist into the salvation of humanity and giving the reader another moment for dramatic pause to consider such a wondrous possibility that man may not be the best intellect on Earth. In the end it isn’t human genius or firepower that saves mankind but something more subtle, awe inspiring, yet somewhat terrifying at the same time. As the danger for humanity isn’t over but may only be delayed as the powerful alien Cluster learns and develops from its new host appendage.
It took longer than normal to get involved with the main characters of this tale because it’s the third book in a trilogy, and though it’s apparent there are relationships established in the first two books that continue in the third, this doesn’t detract from the story as the relationships become self-evident and the plots cleverly merge together. Summers’ ability to create a unique future for humanity is quite believable as the problems that impact modern day society in the 21st century are still there in the 30th century only exasperated in scale.His description of 30th century Earth is as fantastic as it is credible which makes this epic tale about the struggle to preserve humanity that much more intriguing and viable to any reader.
Grab your favorite chips and beverage, curl up in a nice cozy spot and give your mind and imagination the treat of this incredible tale told by a unique, gifted author. The only problem I have now is waiting to get book one and book two.
Our guest blogger for today is super duper selling author Josie Brown, the bestselling author of the Housewife Assassin Series (so far there are 12 books and counting in this series). She is also the author of the Totlandia Series (contemporary romance/women’s fiction) that follows a group of moms in a “mom and tots” club (five books in the series and counting).
The late, great Jackie Collins had this to say about Josie Brown:
“Josie Brown writes with all the secrets, sex and scandal of a tabloid cover story…truly entertaining reading.”
Hey, don’t take my word for it. In a September 2015 an article on a recent Authors Guild surveyof its members’ incomes, Publishers Weekly put it this way:
Thank goodness for self-publishing. It saved my career, and those of many other authors I know.
Even with four novels (one optioned for television) and two-nonfiction books published traditionally, as early as 2010 I’d dipped my toe into the choppy waves of self-publishing. My subsequent success with it is why I now self-publish exclusively.
Whereas self-publishing has grown by leaps and bounds in the past ten years, ours wasn’t the first generation to discover its financial rewards. Jane Austen, Emily Dickinson, Marcel Proust, and Walt Whitman self-published their books. Misery loves great company indeed.
But before self-publishing became a financially viable option for the current generation of writers, traditional publishing—that is to say, print books, primarily by one of the Big Five New York publishing houses—was the only venue for the sale and distribution of books. Even ten years ago, the thing authors love to do most—write novels—was not possible without running an unwieldy gauntlet that put their manuscripts in front of any literary agency that might deem the book sellable to a publisher, and any publishing house editor who might actually like it enough to purchase it.
Besides editing, printing, and distributing a book, part of the publisher’s job is also to promote it. For doing so the publisher holds on to anywhere from 80-92 percent of the book’s retail price.
(Yep, some authors get only an 8 percent royalty. Worse yet, royalties are paid twice yearly, and they are only paid if their books “earn out”—that is, return any advance paid, which may not happen for years if at all, what with the other variables tied to this equation, including book returns, of which there are no cut-offs; and perhaps the payback of advances of other books as well.)
Sadly, in traditional publishing, marketing is the last consideration—never the first—when purchasing a book from an author. Compared to other products as a whole—and entertainment products in particular, including films, music, magazines, and video games—it gets a negligible budget, if any at all.
A book can be beautifully written, have scintillating dialogue and a page-turning plot. But without the adequate marketing and promotion that puts it in front of a targeted audience, a book is as dead as a beached whale.
At this point in time, most Authors Guild members are traditionally published. Coupled with the Hamilton/SMP breakup, the Authors Guildsurvey certainly makes an excellent case for the guild to reconsider what it must do to protect its members. For example, the guild—along with literary agents and intellectual property attorneys—should insist that any publishing contract contain clauses that:
(a) Succinctly spell out a yearly quantitative financial base for the book, with instant reversion to the author if not met. Right now, most publishing contracts hold onto rights forever, under the assumption that digital distribution means that a book never goes out of print.
(b) Outline an advertising budget, tied to an actual, very specific media plan for the marketing of the book—at least for the first full year in print—and allow for immediate reversion of rights if there is no follow-through.
Is it any wonder that hybrid authors—that is to say, those authors who have been published traditionally, but then, like me, elected to publish their books independently of a publishing house—are a growing breed? Of course not. Like everyone else, authors have to eat. They have to pay rents and mortgages. They have to raise kids, and pay for health insurance, taxes, and all the other expenses that come from with being self-employed.
I know of many hybrid authors personally. Under the traditional publishing model, their advances and sales shrunk along with the demise of both chain and independent brick-and-mortar bookstores. Several were on the brink of financial disaster (homes soon to be repossessed, couch-surfing, near bankruptcy) when they made the decision to walk away from traditional publishing contracts. Instead, they rolled up their shirtsleeves and did what they had to do to self-publish: write good books; have their books professionally edited and digitally converted; distribute their books—primarily as eBooks.
The successful ones know they must also promote their books.
The good news for their readers: the books are priced lower than their offerings still distributed by their traditional publishers.
The great news for these authors: now that they retain 70 percent of the book’s retail price, they are making a sustainable living for themselves and their families.
Some are doing better than that, having already sold millions of books since starting this journey.Sylvia Day, Barbara Freethy, Stephanie Bond, Bella Andre, and Kate Perry are perfect examples of hybrid authors who took advantage of the changing bookselling marketplace to not just survive, but to thrive. And whereas Ms. Day, Ms. Andre and Ms. Bond still have one foot in traditional publishing, Ms. Freethy and Ms. Perry are in total control of every facet of their books’ design, distribution and promotion.
Products are created from a perceived need. Industries are created by providing sales and distribution venues for products.
But sometimes how the product is distributed changes also how the product is purchased by its consumers.
Books—in whatever form they take—will always be needed. They entertain, they provoke thought, they provide knowledge.
In publishing, books are the products. Still, how books are distributed and sold doesn’t change how they are made: by authors with the perseverance to write a good story, and then do what they can to find readers who will fall in love with it.
In his blog post. William Kowalski puts it succinctly:
I haven’t always been a writer. There was a period of time in my early years when being a writer wasn’t even a thought in my head. I aspired to be a fairy princess or a ballerina. But I loved to read, and stories transported me to other places where I could be anything I wanted.
The first piece of fiction I wrote was in fifth grade, when we had to write an essay about how we had named our pet. My family had a dog, Skippy, and he was named that just because we all liked the name. Pretty boring story. But I made up a tale of Skippy running up and down the hallway in my house, looking like he skipped. I got an A on that essay, and felt a little guilty because, well, it wasn’t a true story. Deep down, I was surprised that my teacher hadn’t seen through my deception, and maybe a little bit pleased, too.
When I reached junior
high, I started writing fan fiction. The TV show,The Wonderful World of Color, produced by Walt Disney, ran a series about the American Revolutionary War hero, Francis Marion, nicknamed the Swamp Fox. My imagination took off, and I wrote a story about my own fictional hero, a teen-aged Revolutionary spy and the young lady he recruits to help him. Then when I was in high school, The Beatles were the hottest thing since humans discovered fire, so I wrote a story about an American girl who meets them on their first U.S. tour and becomes Paul McCartney‘s girlfriend. It was all cheesy, but my friends loved it and clamored for more. I was shocked. I could actually write something that people wanted to read!
I’m writing under my own name now, and writing about magic, and dark heroes and feisty heroines who live in the past. It’s been a long road between that first fifth-grade essay and my newest release, Moon Dark, Book 1 Auriano Curse Series. The hero, Alessandro, Prince of Auriano, is much more complex than my dog, Skippy, and quite a bit sexier, too. And the heroine, Sabrina, knows just how to push his buttons. So there are sparks and fireworks and some magical stuff. I hope you visit Moon Dark and get to meet them.
Inspector Eli Miller’s unspoken feelings for his partner, Bex, color his whole life. When his past comes calling, will it be the push he needs to seek a future with her?
Inspector Rebecca ‘Bex’ Mulcahy has lived long enough to know that love is a street con at best, and a dangerous distraction at worst. Any feelings she has for her partner Eli definitely fall into the latter category. Will her dedication to her job keep her from finding a possible future with Eli?
Their latest case is protecting Violet Burrell, a young woman with scars on her soul stretching back to birth, who inadvertently witnesses a shockingly brutal murder at the hands of a sadist. Violet is determined to testify in court. Her strength and courage impress Eli and Bex, who will protect her at all costs.
But it is Violet’s beauty and spirit that entrances Junior Inspector Atticus Randall. Atticus is also assigned to protect Violet, and while he knows he should ignore his growing feelings for her, he just can’t stop himself from falling for the brave beauty.
Life in the Las Vegas branch of Witness Protection has never been more tangled. When the emotional landmines start a chain reaction, everyone in the blast radius is going to need a little shelter.
AR escorted Vi out to the table on the balcony to enjoy their sundaes. He liked to take his lunch out here on occasion, just when he needed to get away from his desk for a bit but didn’t want to leave the building. His dedication was paying off, since Marco had started entrusting him with more and more responsibilities, as evidenced by the woman sitting next to him now with her eyes closed in bliss. “You really never had a hot fudge sundae before?”
She shook her head, and her expression hardened. “No. Not with my mother and certainly not with the nuns.”
He pondered her ascetic life and the choices she’d made from it. It was all there in her file, but he felt like an intruder or a stalker, knowing that much about a virtual stranger to him. He’d much rather know her as a person, beyond the story of sadness and neglect. “Violet’s a pretty name.” An inane statement, but he knew he was out of his depth attempting to tackle a subject so daunting as the life of Violet Burrell.
She shrugged and flipped the end of a pigtail over her shoulder. “It is what it is. Your parents really named you Atticus? They not like you or something?”
He snorted a laugh and put the spoon back into his ice cream. “They like to read.”
“To Kill a Mockingbird, I know.” She smiled shyly. “It’s a good name. Strong, valiant.”
The heat of the summer air had nothing on him. He saw her grin, and he felt his ears burn from a blush. “So what’s the verdict?” He gestured towards her rapidly diminishing sundae.
“I think I want to eat this for the rest of my life,” she said as she dipped her spoon into the plastic cup to fish out a peanut covered in hot fudge.
“That good, huh?” He watched her close her eyes and sigh as she licked the spoon, and he had to loosen his tie. The way she was enjoying her ice cream reminded him that his wasn’t going to stay frozen forever. He dipped his spoon into the plastic cup and then brought it to his mouth.
“Damn near better than sex.”
At her words, he found himself gulping down a large mouthful of ice cream, much more than he meant to, swallowing it quickly. “Oh hell! Ice cream headache!” The sharp spike of pain that it brought was quick and excruciating, but it served its purpose driving all thoughts of pursuing that line of questioning from his mind. As the throbbing ache receded, he noticed her hand on the back of his neck, trying to help by rubbing and massaging from the base of his skull to his shoulders. So much for virtuous thoughts. Nodding to show her that he was okay now, he reached in front of her and snagged her mysterious old green book from beside her purse as she returned to her ice cream Nirvana.
“Hey, that’s not yours,” she said around a mouthful, gesturing with her spoon. But, she made no move to retrieve it from him, so he felt comfortable perusing while she continued to savor her snack.
He opened the book at the place she’d marked, reading about a gameskeeper comforting the lady of the house, in a chicken coop, that led to so much more than mere physical release in graphic and frankly gripping detail. That was definitely not what he’d expected, and the fact that she’d been reading this book all this time did things to his already heated blood that made his mouth run dry and his ears start to ring.
“So . . . ?”
Her voice, smokier than before, startled him out of the words on the page. Her purple eyes were darker than he remembered, and he found himself lost for a moment before he caught himself. “It’s ah . . . definitely colorful.” He pushed the closed book back over to sit next to her purse, her bookmark still in place.
Vi smiled self-consciously. “It’s the language. It paints this picture like a smudged old photograph, beautiful and still kind of dirty.”
And that about described the thoughts he was having at that moment. “I could definitely see that.”
Alexis D. Craig has been a writer from early childhood, discovering her calling when she wrote the Thanksgiving play for her kindergarten class in Tucson, Arizona. After moving to Indianapolis with her family in 1988, she wrote a column for her high school newspaper and two novel-length stories before graduating at age sixteen from Park Tudor School. After attending Sarah Lawrence College outside New York City, she returned home to Indiana to be closer to her family.
Alexis works for a local sheriff’s department in the communications division. She spends her free time reading and writing romance novels and investigating haunted houses.
She lives with her husband and two very excitable beagles.
Many of us have made resolutions for 2016. Some of us have stuck to them, while others have already fallen off the wagon. But before you kick yourself and declare 2016 to be a bad year, read on!
I want you to set THREE goals for yourself in 2016. I will too. Let’s start with that. They don’t have to be grand and they don’t have to take up every hour of your day that isn’t devoted to work, family, or sleep. But they have to be challenging enough to require SOME effort on your part.
Each goal you set should have a time limit. Whether you spend time on each one separately or at the same time, you should set a clear amount of time to work on the goal and a DEADLINE.
Each goal should include a before and after picture or a note, or blog post, or facebook post, or journal entry, or even a notation in your calendar, or heck – how about a post-it note on your fridge with a happy face. So you can document that you actually achieved this goal.
Each goal should be something that you have always wanted to do but haven’t had the time, or perhaps the encouragement to do it. I’m encouraging you today. Do it! Let’s all do it!
Each goal should be something that could lead to more goals, growth, change. One goal at a time.
Each goal should represent ONE ASPECT of your life that you want to make better and may include the following: HEALTH, WORK, HOME, ORGANIZATIONAL, PERSONAL RELATIONSHIPS, SPIRITUAL/INNER GROWTH.
Allow me to elaborate:
HEALTH: We all want to be more healthy but how do we achieve that? It’s one of those seemingly BIG challenges. But how about setting just ONE GOAL regarding your health and just FOCUS ON THAT in 2016? For example: You are a diet coke FANATIC and you know that ALL THAT POP – diet or otherwise – is not good for you. Your goal could to CUT OUT ALL POP/SODA/DIET DRINKS for seven days. See how you feel at the end of the week. If you feel better, keep going, until it’s completely out of your system and LIFE.
WORK: You want to write THAT book. It’ a cool idea, but you can’t find the time because of your day job, your familial responsibilities, sleep, and the other two books in various stages of completion that you are working on and have to get to your editor. What do you do? Make yourself a doctor’s appointment. We ALWAYS keep THOSE. I sure do. MAKE A NOTE OF THIS “DOCTOR” APPOINTMENT in your calendar or date book. This will be a STANDING “DOCTOR” APPOINTMENT. And you must keep it ONE HOUR A WEEK FOR THE ENTIRE YEAR. Use that hour to work on your “special” creative project. At the end of the year review what you have accomplished. Hey, your book might just be finished by Dec. 31st! 🙂
HOME: You want your home to be welcoming to people but also your own “getaway” from the world. You want your home to be a cozy nest for your family, but also a well organized and functioning household (see below). So how do you do that? You do that one room at a time. How about starting with your bedroom? Turn your room into a “zen hideaway” and get rid of all the WORK STUFF – i.e. no desk, no computer, no files. Just include things that will give you pleasure. Books, candles, aroma therapy oils, music, cozy comforter. You get the picture right? Give yourself one month to set your plan in motion. You don’t have to do everything at once – spend one hour a week on your little “zen” project until it’s done. It could be as simple as changing the lightbulbs to soft lighting in your bed side lamps. Now, relax . . . but get going.
ORGANIZATIONAL: This is a DOOZY isn’t it? Many of us have a “junk” room – everything in the house that doesn’t have a place gets shoved in there. Or closets that are overflowing with old clothes and too many shoes. Here’s an idea: Given that it can be OVERWHELMING to declutter and organize the ENTIRE house in one shot, how about picking one area in your house to “fix” and give yourself a time limit. One chest of drawers or even one drawer. One closet or even one shelf in the closet. One room or even one corner in the room. Start with that. Spread the work load out. Spend only one hour at a time on this project. Perhaps one hour a week. And give yourself one month to complete it. Make sure you have bags and boxes READY because you are going to DONATE or RECYCLE that stuff. What about a garage sale or yard sale? You know what? It takes time to plan a yard sale. So if you want to make it ONE of your projects this year, go for it. I prefer to pack stuff up and haul it to a local charity. If you are VERY MOTIVATED then set up three boxes. KEEP, DONATE, SELL and take it from there. As you tackle the next chore in your house you can do the same thing. And don’t forget to drive to your local charity or phone them to pick up your donation. Do it. Otherwise you’ll have more boxes piling up and more agita filling up.
PERSONAL RELATIONSHIPS: Always a tough one to nurture – but how about you and your significant other or friend or sibling or child – work on this one together. Have a sit down chat and come up with ONE THING that you would both like to do together. And do it once a month. Try this for three months and see how it goes. You can do the same thing once a month or different things. How about game night, movie night, dinner night or coffee outing? A little twist for a COFFEE DATE- how about you and your significant other arrive there separately. Like a real date. First one there grabs a cozy, corner table. And you can stare into each other’s eyes for the next couple of hours. Try this once a month. That’s doable right?
SPIRITUAL/INNER GROWTH: I don’t know about you, but this is an ongoing journey for me. One thing that I enjoy doing is working out. Especially weight training. I find it gets me into a calm and relaxed stated of mind. Yes, pushing and lifting weights does this to me! Maybe it’s the repetition. Or maybe it’s the feeling of accomplishment. Or maybe it’s just all the endorphins my brain is releasing. My younger sister has been practicing Qigong meditation for the past two years. She loves it and has a wonderful support group as a result. Find something that you have always wanted to try, and try it once, twice, three times, to see if you like it. Or at the very least, take five minutes a day for seven days and sit quietly in a comfortable chair. Close your eyes. Breathe deeply. And think of something relaxing like floating on the water on a sunny day. Try that once a day for seven days and see how you feel. If you have trouble doing that – how about making yourself a nice cup of tea and sipping it slowly, until the entire cup is finished. Okay?
No matter what changes you want to make or what goals you have in your life – it always begins with the first step. Just. One. Step. In the right direction. Write it down. Give yourself a time line and a deadline. And do it. Let’s get going!
Joanna D’Angelo is Editor in Chief at Lachesis Publishing. She loves chai tea, social media, and good writing.
These days you’d be hard pressed to to find someone who doesn’t at least have one social media account. But if you’re a creative type – social media networking is basically a part of your work day. Especially on facebook. Facebook is where many authors and readers like to “hang out”. At least, until something else comes along to replace it. But the advice still applies!
Here are FIVE DON’Ts and 15 DOs to strutting your stuff on facebook without looking like a featherless peacock!
1. Don’t simply post an amazon or Barnes and Noble buy link of your book on your facebook page and then expect to hit the USA Today List.
Do write something engaging about your book when you post BUY links on facebook: For example – find a really great quote from your book – a “tag line” if you will and use that as your “teaser”.
Do include AN AUTHOR QUOTE from a well known author or a review quote from a blogger or book critic along with your buy link. It doesn’t have to be when the book is first released (although that would be awesome) but if you send your book to a superstar author that you met through a friend and ask them to send the quote along (give them a deadline of three months let’s say) then you can use it ANYTIME on your facebook page/blog/website/twitter.
Do at least include the cover of your book – even better – hire someone like Sharlene Martin Moore to create a lovely postcard so that you can use it on your facebook page, blog, website etc . . .
2. Don’t post endless “buy my book” messages even if it’s ON SALE or even if it’s FREE. Guess what? People will just keep scrolling. WHY? Because you’re not ENGAGING with them.
Do share a personal anecdote about someone in your real life who inspired the hero or heroine.
Do tell us about a place that you travelled to while researching the book.
Do confide in your followers and friends about how you got your start and how this is a great milestone for you – your 10th book (or something else notable).
3. Don’t expect a legion of on-line fans who will hang on your every word without giving them some INCENTIVE to be your fans. Okay – here’s the deal. A reader may love your book. But if you want to build a “following” then you can’t just sit back and hope for the groupies to multiply.
Do set up a STREET TEAM on your own with another author(s) and work with them to promote your books on line, spread the word, etc… Guess what? You better have some nice goodies that you can give to your team on a regular basis because all that hustling doesn’t come without a price tag. SWAG. SWAG. SWAG.
Do set up a monthly newsletter and build a following of loyal readers so that you can reward them with special offers, free stories, exclusive contests, extra prologue or epilogue or “deleted chapters”.
Do take an interest in the lives of your reader friends and followers. Like their posts. Leave comments on their posts. PM them. In general – interact with them on a daily basis. Yes. It takes that kind of commitment and time to build loyalty.
4. Don’t just post about your books! That is sooooo boring.
Do post pictures of your family, holidays, pets, and milestones in your life. For example – let’s say your 15th wedding anniversary is coming up – so why not post a picture of you and the hubs/lady at a swanky restaurant clinking champagne glasses?
Do post fun quotes and images that you find online so that your friends can have a chuckle.
Do post BEFORE and AFTER pics of you getting a hair cut, remodelling your home, painting your bathroom, grooming your dog, losing weight, planting a garden, decorating a cake etc . . . You get the picture? Before and after pics are like facebook crack!
5. Don’t put off building your online presence because you’re “too busy” writing your book or wrinkling your nose at all the “sell-outs” who are on facebook. Unless you have a six-figure deal that comes with a huge advertising budget and a world-wide book tour with one of the BIG houses, then pay attention!
Do spend at least one hour a day on facebook and practice all of the above. And do it every freaking day. Yes. It’s part of your job.
If you HATE social media, then DO sell off your Great Aunt Dorothy’s diamond tiara and PAY someone to handle your social media stuff.
Do keep your sense of humour, be real, be honest, be kind, be fun. But most of all . . . be present.
Joanna D’Angelo is Editor in Chief at Lachesis Publishing. She loves chai tea, social media, and good writing.