Thursday, January 30, 2014

FREE webinar: "Writer's Road Map to Success in 2014"

Fill your Writer's Toolbox for FREE!

It's not often that you get something for nothing...but thanks to the lovely gals at Sunshine State Romance Authors, Inc., FREE means FREE in this hour-long webinar on creating your writer's road-map to success in 2014.

Here is the link for the FREE Writer's Webinar:

And the fantabulous presenter (okay, that's moi!!) has also created a goal worksheet and a Writer's Passport to Success to go along with the webinar. Isn't she nice?!? ;)

Enjoy, and here's to YOU hitting your writing goals...
Happily My Ever After,

P.S. Want to see my writer-ly (and other) goals for 2014? Click here.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Writer's 12-step Program to Surviving the Wait

According to a recent article in the LA Times, we spend an average of five years of our lives waiting for something to happen. So, you’d think I could play it cool while I waited the six to eight weeks for a response on my new endeavor--my young adult manuscript that was requested by an agent at a conference.

Yeah, right.

I'm like a junkie without an addiction. My YA manuscript--the one I've been laboring on for eons, the one that'll transition me from paranormal romance only to the exciting world of Young Adult--has been gussied up and shipped into the cold, cruel world of possible rejection. And I miss her!

I'm left wringing my keyboard-weary hands, fretting over what the agent will think. Did my three months of polishing it up waste my window of opportunity with the agent? At the conference, the agent warned me that a Young Adult Paranormal Romance was a saturated market and for her to sign me, she'd have to see something amazing. Did I send something that would rock her world...or make her yawn?

The stress is getting to me, so I decided I needed a coping strategy: a 12-step program to alleviate my compulsive need to check the agent’s blog, or count calendar days ase I await her response.

Here's my Writer’s 12-step Program to Surviving the wait:

Step 1: Admit we are powerless over the wait—that our lives must continue. As with the original 12-step program, it’s the first step that’s the hardest.

Step 2: Believe in the power of the pen to restore us to sanity. In other words, keep calm and write on. Nothing makes the waiting faster—and more productive—than working on your next novel. Treasure this forced creativity, because if your manuscript is accepted, you’ll be spending much of your future in edits, galleys and the never-ending marketing of your book.

Step 3: Love on your loved ones. If you’re anything like I am, the closer I am to deadline, the crankier I become. After I’ve sent the manuscript off, I glutted myself on family outings, and home-cooked meals.

Step 4:  Make a searching and fearless moral inventory of your writing business. I took a close look at my social media and the promotion side of my business and I can see there's work to be done. If you don’t have a website, now’s the time to create one. If you do, now’s the time to update it. Do you have an author Facebook page/Twitter page/Goodreads account/Pinterest site? Create or update them; you’ll be thankful later that you did!

Step 5: Admit to other writers how you’re feeling. Email or call another writing friend who’s in the same boat. Kibitz about your worries; tell her what step you’re on in the 12-step process.

I'm the one in the black gloves
looking fierce! ;)
Step 6: Eliminate the defects of character you’ve acquired while deep in the throes of manuscript-readiness. Exercise to remove those extra inches of flab, and make an appointment to deal with the shaggy-hippie look you’re sporting from neglecting yourself in favor of your book.

Step 7: After achieving your goal, it’s natural to feel let down now that it’s over. So, grab your calendar, and plan out the baby steps you’ll take to write your next novel.

Step 8: Make a list of the people you’ve ignored while you’ve been holed up in your writing space, and make amends to them all.

Step 9: Feed your muse. Spend time pursuing the other passions you neglected as you readied your manuscript for the gimlet eye of judgment. Whether it’s gardening, scrapbooking or catching up on all those episodes of “Glee” you missed, feed your muse something other than words for a while.

Step 10: Get going…on the marketing! While your book is fresh in your mind, use this waiting time to build your marketing machine:  do your back cover blurb, create a book trailer, and pull out teaser quotes you can post to Facebook/Twitter once it's accepted.

Step 11: Pay it Forward. Nothing makes the waiting less painful than taking this mini-break to help another writer with her project. Offer to critique, beta read, whatever your expertise is—now is the time to help while you have the time!

Step 12: Know this—you can survive the wait. You will hear about your book. And, regardless of the submission’s result, you will persevere and grow stronger from the experience.

Stay strong, my writing friends. 

I will triumph over the wait. One day at a time.

Happily My Ever After,

P.S. Want help with your query letter so you can join me in the 'waiting mode'? Click here for the basics on Anatomy of a Query Letter, and here to see the Top 10 Do's and Don'ts for your Query Letter!

P.P.S. Curious to see what happens to my YA submission? Subscribe to my blog at the right so you don't miss a thing!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

New Year's Resolutions. Bah. Who has the time on Jan. 1? With the kids out of school, and still decompressing from the holiday whirlwind, I barely have the mental fortitude to make a grocery list, let alone list out my life goals for the coming year.

You didn't make any either? Don't worry....

According to a New York Times article, a third of the people that made New Year's Resolutions will break them by February, and by July more than half will have abandoned that hangover-induced list.

I prefer Anytime Resolutions. Better known as Goals.

Want to join me in putting more Happily in your Ever After? It's simple--follow these 3 steps:

  1. Pick five areas of your life to improve.  More than that, you lose focus. Check out this bit on Oprah's website. I structured my goals around the "Absolute YES list" which has made it easier for me to say NO to all the things that don't relate to my goals.
  2. Use S.M.A.R.T. goals--
    • Specific: Don't just put "Lose Weight", but put "Lose Twenty Pounds", or better yet, "Lose 3 Pounds a Month." Studies show the more specific your goals, the more likely you are to achieve them.
    • Measurable: Break your goal down into measurable steps. For example, one of my goals is to achieve PAN status with RWA. As my publisher puts out the royalty reports each quarter, I can track how my promotional events are working for me in my efforts to sell my book. Then, I can adjust (or sob over a glass of wine) accordingly. 
    • Attainable: Pretty obvious, but worth repeating. Make goals that stretch your limits, but are achievable with solid effort.
    • Relevant/Resonate: This is where most goals fall flat. Visualizing that goal should give you a tingle of excitement. Six years ago, my goal was to get a publishing contract. I visualized my book-signing party, where I was swanning around in a designer gown, champagne glass in hand, as I greeted my guests on the front lawn of the Pink House (a historic, reportedly haunted Victorian in my hometown, which you can see here) . Well, I did get that contract and champagne (yay!) but no designer gown and Victorian landmark signing party. Maybe when I hit my five-year goal: appearing on the NYTimes Bestseller's List. Someday I'll have that drink on the Pink House lawn!
    • Time-Bound: Have an end-time for your goal. This helps you avoid goals like "Exercise More Often," as this is a life-style change, not a goal. A fitness goal would be "Get Fit Enough to Run the Disney Marathon by January."
  3.  Post Your Goals for Accountability! Publish them on Facebook, on your fridge, bulletin board, bathroom mirror. Everywhere. Even your blog. ;)
Without further ado, here are my 2104 goals...

1. Fitness/Health--

  • Attend kickboxing/bootcamp classes 3 or more times each week to be ready for obstacle race in February, then schedule race for summer/fall.
  • Strive for five fruits and veggie servings every day. Track how many on my fit app daily.

2. Writing--

  • Write for 45 minutes every weekday until Novel #4 is completed, and send to my editor at TWRP (then cross my fingers for contract #4!).
  • Attend one writer's conferences this year.
  • Read (or listen to) 52 or more books this year (1/week). Then review them on Goodreads!
  • Hold two contests for my readers (one in Feb, one in Oct), revise blog/website to include reader enhancement experiences, increase newsletter subscribers to 200.
  • Create four webinars (one/quarter) to give back to other writers, and four vlogs (one/quarter) just for my readers to enhance their reading experience with me.

3. Family--

  • Write/work on writing related things during the week, and on the weekend before the family is awake. Then, it's technology blackout until Monday morning.
  • Focus on the QUALITY of the time spent, vs. the QUANTITY.

4. Leadership/Volunteer--

  • Designate 8 hrs/week to handle leadership responsibilities for the organizations I lead. Stick by the parameters so the organizations don't take over every other goal on this list.
  • Cut volunteer hours to 5/week.

5. Say NO--

  • Last but not least: Say NO to the people, things and distractions that take away from my goals this year. And after you say NO, don't feel guilty. This is a YES list. Not a NO list.Cherish friends and family in my life that add to my Happily My Ever After. The ones that suck the joy from my life...this is a new year and a new Dylan. I will be purposeful about with whom and how I spend my mental energy.

What are your goals? Feel free to share them on this blog! Because goals are the way to...
Happily my Ever After,