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Category Archives: My Writing Journey

Tidbits I learn along the way in the world of writing,

Winter is Winding Down

My daughter, Jordyn, shoveling snow

My daughter, Jordyn, shoveling snow

This has been the view outside our window all too often this winter. I’ve lived in Indiana all of my life and have never experienced anything like this season. Normally we get one or two large blasts of winter storms and then call it an end. This year we have had those winter storm blasts almost on a weekly occurrence. We have broken weather records in total snow accumulation, frigid air temperatures, and wind strengths that have stood for close to or over a hundred years. Just a few days ago, I was driving home in blinding blowing snow and watched the sky light up numerous times with lightening. I’ve heard of “thunder snow” before, but it is awesome to experience the ferocity of nature.

To put it mildly, we are all weary of the weather and ready for Spring, which, according to the calendar, is only a few days away. But as I look back over everything we experienced, I can’t help but feel proud and blessed because we conquered every challenge nature threw at us. Our home remained warm and cozy. Our vehicles, though we did get stuck a few times, always got us to our destination, safely, one way or another. I don’t mean to sound ridiculous, but lets face it, the Great Lakes area has faced a colder winter than Alaska thanks to the arctic circle pushing down over our area. This is definitely a winter we will remember for the rest of our lives.

Now, as the warm air pushes through and the snow quickly melts, leaving the ground and roadways wet and muddy, we look forward to seeing the world awaken from its winter slumber like a present slowly unwrapping. I can’t wait for the warm evenings when I can sit under the stars and watch the moon slowly meander across the sky. I want to open my windows, put the top down on my car, and soak up the clean fresh air. Normally, half way through March, Spring has already begun for us. It will take a little longer before the remnants of the cold air finally push through this year, but it’s coming and we are all eagerly waiting for it. This will be the first year I can remember where we can paint the snow green for “St. Patricks Day”!

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Adaptations

file861264123573I have often written about how life occurs in cycles. The older I grow the more evident it becomes. There are many factors that cause these cycles to continue to repeat throughout your life. The simple and most obvious is the fact that you live what you know. You work, play, focus, and avoid the things you know are good or bad for you. What you know is based upon your past experience, education, and events you have witnessed. Everything and everyone around you impacts your cycles. The majority of our life is solely dependant upon what cycles we consciously decide to repeat. Many times we find ourselves repeating cycles we simply because we did not learn from our past mistakes. Sometimes we find ourselves repeating cycles we didn’t realize were exactly where we were meant to be.

For me, these continuous cycles have become a lesson in adapting. I have lived most of my life with the personal goal of putting my full focus on something and doing the absolute best I can at whatever it is I’m doing. In essence it sounds like a good goal, but it comes with a huge amount of downfalls.  It doesn’t leave much room for focusing on anything else. While all that focus is being placed on one aspect of my life, all the other aspects are neglected. The quality of my life becomes dependant upon the success of that one thing I’m focusing on rather than my life as a whole.

When I seriously started writing, my life revolved around that. I wanted nothing more than to become a successful writer that could earn a living doing what I love. In the process of writing four novels, with dreams of success and financial freedom for me and my family, my family and home fell victim to my neglect. It became more of an obsession than a means to better myself and my family’s life. I was forced into reevaluating my life as a whole this past year in ways I never dreamed I would have to face.

So now I find myself at the beginning of a repeating cycle. I am now working full time doing a job that I have long devalued.  When my children were small I was forced into quitting my job because of the expense of daycare. This caused me to look down on the job I was doing because it couldn’t supply my family with the necessities it needed and we have struggled ever since in finding that balance in my working versus giving my family the quality of life it deserves. When I started writing, I thought I had finally found the solution to our problems.  I could work at home and be productive, helping with supporting my family. Unfortunately, like my previous job, it wasn’t enough. Something had to change.

As I sit her now, I look at my life and realize that I need to learn to adapt in a way that allows me to focus on everything I love. I love my new job and it has helped my family’s finances tremendously. I love my family, but now my time is very limited because of my new job.  I love writing, but it has now fallen into one of my lowest priorities. I can’t tell you how many times my mind fights the urge to go find a quiet corner somewhere to write down some nagging story idea that invades every quiet moment between all the other necessities biding for my time. It often feels like I’m standing in a hallway facing several closed doors and I have to decide which one to enter based upon what I feel is the most important. Once I walk through the door of choice, I have to leave the others closed.

I know it doesn’t have to be that way. There are people all over the world that are successful at being everything they need and want to be. If you know anything about successful writers than you know that most have other means to supplement their income. They are not known for their success based on one singular title. It is my goal now to learn how to incorporate all the dimensions of my life and find my own personal success and fulfillment. I don’t have to give up what I love to care for the ones I love. I simply need to learn how to adapt and incorporate the cycles that bring happiness to my life by removing the cycles of bad habits and unproductive thought processes.

 
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Posted by on February 2, 2014 in My Writing Journey

 

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Reading Preferences

expresswayDo you prefer the expressway or scenic route when reading?

When I used to go to bookstores to buy books, long before Amazon entered the picture and the whole Ebook phenomenon began, I would enter the store with a set of standards in which I used to determine whether or not a book was for me. One of the standards that was always on the top of my list, was the thickness of a book. I considered books an investment. I wanted something that was going to be worth the time and money I spent on it. I wanted to go on a journey that took me someplace I have never been. I didn’t want a quick evening joy ride. Books that were short and sweet left me unsatisfied and wishing the author would have taken more time to dig deeper into the story. But that doesn’t mean the short and sweet books were not worth reading, it simply meant I preferred books that took me on the scenic route.

Not everyone shares that same preference. Some people lead much busier lives, and prefer reading books that are quick getaways that do not require a lot of their time to enjoy. Some people simply have shorter attention spans. It is all a matter of what you prefer. While there is nothing wrong with either type of books, it is a huge determining factor in whether or not you will truly enjoy a book. In this day and age, where book reviews are now a huge determining point in whether or not to buy a book, this is a factor that can make or break a book before it is given a good honest chance.

One of the trends I have personally noticed, not only as an author, but as a reader, is that there are a lot people giving reviews on books that are judged upon their preference rather than the quality of the book itself. I have read some really bad books that were given high ratings they didn’t deserve. I have read books that were given low ratings that were incredible books, but they took a while to marinate on your senses, and those reviewers obviously had no interest in giving the book the time it deserved. I find myself now doing the same as I used to do when walking into a bookstore.  I hated looking at book covers that gave the story away too much. What frustrated me the most was when there were pictures of characters on the cover that did not match the characters in the book. I also avoided reading the book synopsis. I didn’t want to ruin the story before I even had a chance to read it. I only read just enough to give me an idea of whether or not I was interested in the topic.

To me, book reviews have gone far beyond their original intent and now ruin more books than they help. Not only do people leave their opinions of books, but now some reviewers are giving you their own synopsis of the books and often spoiling the story by giving away too much info. But once again, perhaps this is another preference in which I find myself having that many others do not share. I suppose you can compare it to the reasons why you choose to take the expressway or the scenic route. People that take the expressway tend to do so, not only because of the speed it takes to finish the journey, but they also have a good idea of what to expect on the journey before they even begin. Their whole purpose of the journey is to enjoy what is on the other end. Those that take the scenic route, do so because they want to take their time to enjoy all the little surprises along the way. The journey itself is just as important as the destination.

What kind of reader are you?

 

 
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Posted by on September 3, 2013 in My Writing Journey

 

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# Showcase

# Showcase for Authors and ReadersUniting Authors and Readers with #’s

Most of us who use Twitter are familiar with using #’s.  If not, I’ll give you a quick rundown. When you post something on Twitter that has a common topic of interest to others, you include a “#” in front of the key word. Your post will then be included with all the other posts that include that particular “#”. You can then search for that topic (ex. #AuthorPage) and a whole stream of posts of that topic will result.  It is a very useful tool for reaching and meeting new people on twitter.

Did you know Facebook is now utilizing the # search as well?

This opens a whole new avenue of connections for Authors and Readers to meet. A simple search in the Facebook search box using a # will give you a list of every post that includes the topic you are searching for. Let’s face it, Authors and Readers are struggling to navigate their way through the constant influx of new material being published every day. But we can make things much easier by utilizing free tools already available to us all.

Introducing “# Showcase” for Authors and Readers

Authors – Showcase your various pages and profiles on the appointed day of the week. You will be included in lists that will be seen by people wold-wide.

Readers – Are you tired of not being able to find a good book to read because all you hear about is the latest blockbusters.  With the “# Showcase”, you can now find a directory of current Authors and Books straight from your Twitter and Facebook profiles.  Simply search for the day’s appointed # and you will find a wealth of current authors and books from a wide variety of genres.

Help us spread the word and make these lists as amazing as they can possible be. For more information, visit http://authorstephanielaws.com/hashtag-days.html You will also find links that will take you directly to the lists for each day.

 

 

 
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Posted by on August 28, 2013 in My Writing Journey

 

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New Direction

New DirectionI’m taking a new direction for my blog!

Since I began this blog a year ago, my posts have been primarily focused on the technical aspects of being a writer. But it is now time to transition from being a “writer” to the role of being an “author”. I have written books, now it is time to put the focus on them. But don’t worry, I’m not leaving my fellow authors behind.  Most of you that have subscribed to my blog are authors, and you came here in the hopes of learning more about your craft. I cannot tell you how incredibly grateful I am for each and everyone of you and how much I value your comments and encouragement. All of my posts that pertain to the craft of writing are still here and are now categorized in a section called “For Authors”.  You will find the link above in my blog menu.  I hope to continue to add to that section as I learn and gain more experience. I’m not giving up on it, I am only creating a new course for my blog to venture into. It is my hopes that you will find inspiration from this venture to carry your career down the path of success as I seek my own.

So you are asking what is the big deal?

You simply cannot survive as an author if you remain trapped in elementary stages of your career. Your readers do not want to read about how frustrating it is edit and convert your manuscript in order to make it available to them. They want to know the inspiration behind the story they have fallen in love with. They want to know about the creative mind that wrote a story that pulled them into the story and held them captive to the very end. When you publish a book, you are no longer a writer learning the craft.  You are an Author that has crafted a piece of art, and it is time to  share your masterpiece with the world.

Ok, I’m getting a little dramatic. But in all honesty, if you are not wholeheartedly in love and entirely devoted to your book(s), then why should anyone else be? You must give the results of all of your hard work the attention it deserves, and that is my goal from this point forward.

 
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Posted by on August 25, 2013 in My Writing Journey

 

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Remember Me?

file0001597083839“Exciting introductions may open doors, but it takes gentle consistencies to keep them open.”

Being a writer requires much more than writing compelling stories. In fact, writing, editing, illustrating, and publishing your book is only the beginning of a long process in order to get your book into the hands of readers. You have to market your book, and marketing is one of the most difficult processes you will ever experience.

Too much marketing will push people away. Too little marketing will get you no where. Most people start off with a big explosion of marketing campaigns, and then they simply fizzle out. The truth is, most books, especially from new authors, take a while to get noticed. Statistics say that most books will sell the most quantity within the first few months of publication. But I honestly believe that is a result of the marketing fizzle effect and the practices based on traditional publishing.

As an Indy Author, you are not limited by a contract or a timeline created by a publishing house. You are the maker of your success. Don’t allow your success to fall to the wayside by not continuing good marketing practices.  For every door you open, you must work to keep them open.  You do that by consistent, timely, gentle reminders.

Tweet and post on your Facebook and/or Google+ pages at least a few times a week; daily if possible.  Blog about interesting topics that draw new audiences. Share your accomplishments, awards, special mentions, interviews, events, and anything else that shows your fan base that you are still here. You need to make yourself a figure in their life, that they not only relate to, but are excited to share you and your work with their friends.  Yes, you may be selling books, but it is your mind that created the books and people want to know the mind behind the work.

Engagement is the key. With that being said, make sure you offer your fans as many ways to engage with you as you possibly can. Place social site share buttons on the important pages of your website and blog. Fans love to have that “special personal moment”, so be sure to have a way they can contact you directly through email or a snail mail address (preferably a P.O. Box to assure your privacy).  Then encourage them to use the various ways of engagement. You would be surprised how many people see all of these share buttons, but really don’t understand what they are all about or how much it helps you. Remember, “Ask and you shall receive”.  Don’t ever assume people know what to do. It’s like expecting people to read your mind.

 
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Posted by on August 21, 2013 in My Writing Journey

 

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Featured Author of the Week!

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I was just notified that I have received the “Featured Author of the Week” badge from AUTHROSdb. I am so excited!

 
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Posted by on August 3, 2013 in My Writing Journey

 
 
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