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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: success, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 26 - 50 of 178
26. Lots of Kudos

This week we had a lot of success stories. It shows that working on your craft and coming out to writing and illustrating events clearly play a role in future successes.

I know everyone will be happy to hear a few success stories.

Sladjana Vasic won the September 2011 e-Book Cover Design Award, for a Nonfiction e-book.

  
  
  
  

I could not find a picture of Beth Ferry, but Beth has a big feather in her hat. She signed with agent Elena Mechlin at Pippin Properties for her Stick and Stone story – a direct result of attending our June conference.

  
  

Here is Tara Lazar with her Agent Ammi-Joan Paquette. If you attended the 2011 June Conference you most likely met Ammi-Joan. Tara sold her first book, THE MONSTORE, at the end of last year. Now Ammi-Joan at Erin Murphy Literary Agency has sold Tara Lazar’s second book, I THOUGHT THIS WAS A BEAR BOOK to Alyson Heller at Aladdin.

  


  
  
Darlene Beck-Jacobson signed with agent Liza Flessig at the Royce Agency for her historcial novel – a direct result of attending our June conference.

  
  
  
  

  
  

Jody Staton’s story won her a spot in the “Writers at Camden” Community Workshop in conjunction with Rutger’s University.

  
  

Congratulations everyone! Something good is waiting for the rest of you reading this – I just know it!

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Agent, authors and illustrators, Book Contracts, News, success Tagged: Ammi-Joan Paquette, Beth Ferry, Darlene Beck-Jacobson, Jody Staton, Sladjana Vasic, Tara Lazar
6 Comments on Lots of Kudos, last added: 10/25/2011
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27. Kudos and Update

Don’t forget you can use children’s magazines as a way to make some money, get you name out there, and have your writing noticed. 

Laurie Wallmark, who is the ARA for the New Jersey SCBWI has done just that with her many magazine articles in children’s magazines. Her lastest an article, Lost in a Corn Maze, in this month’s issue of Spider Magazine for children.

Don’t forget to send photos.  Laurie says she got more for the photos than she did for the article.

Congratulations, Laurie!

You may remember Ellen Jensen Abbott from the conference in June. She taught a class on Characterization. At the bookfair, I purchased Ellen Jensen Abbott’s fantasy novel titled, WATERSMEET.

When I e-mailed Ellen to tell her how much I enjoyed the book and how I thought it was very well-written, she got back to me to tell me that the second book titled, THE CENTAUR’S DAUGHTER, (the second book to the trilogy) just hit the bookshelves.

I know everyone wishes Ellen much success with her new book.

Then today, I received an e-mail from Kitty Griffin Lagorio. She came to the June conference and it really paid off, because she ended up getting Natalie Fischer from the Bradford Agency to represent her.

Congratulations, Kitty.

Please make sure you let us know when you sign your first contract.

Yvonne Ventresca won the Writers’ Retreat Prompt Contest at this weekends Writer’s Retreat.  Her prize, a free year’s membership to the SCBWI.  Everyone else who participated received a signed book.

Here is Yvonne’s first page winning entry:

I had never thought about good-bye sounding like a river, the rush, rush of the water as it flowed away. And I’d never realized my sister could keep a secret even from me, the one she trusted most.

But I see these things now, as clearly as the clues she left behind. Would it have changed anything if I’d paid closer attention? Like the day of storm, while we were hurrying to finish our chores in the chicken coop.

“I won’t marry that man. They can’t make me.” Sis picked up another egg and nearly threw it in her basket.  “Are you listening? James?”

I nodded as I swept, but my mind was on our cow. Abigail had been pacing around the pasture. I worried about her out there, having a calf alone in bad weather. Maybe I could lead her to the barn before the thunder started.

“Pa doesn’t remember love,” Sis said. “All he thinks about is corn. What should I do?”

Her pause meant she expected an answer. “Um, Tom doesn’t seem that bad.”

She stomped her boot, and the chickens fluttered to the corners of the hen house. “Tom Kelly’s too old and ornery. I could never love him.”

I laid the broom down gently and tried to soothe the frightened birds.

“I don’t feel anything for him.  Not like—”

“Daniel,” I said. We often finished each other’s sentences. Ma used to call it a twin thing.

“Yes, like Daniel.” She wiped at her eyes, smearing dirt on her nose. “To spend the rest of my days keeping Tom’s
house and raising his babies! Ugh.”

Sis’s face got re

2 Comments on Kudos and Update, last added: 10/7/2011
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28. Finding–and Maintaining–Passion for Your Writing

enthusiasm“Enthusiasm is one of the most powerful engines of success. When you do a thing, do it with all your might. Put your whole soul into it. Stamp it with your own personality…Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.”

~~Ralph Waldo Emersonson

 

Where do you get this enthusiasm? It comes from having passion for your writing.

How does a writer act who is passionate about his writing? He can’t wait to get up in the morning and get started. He is eager and energetic. This comes from loving what you do, and doing what you were born to do or feel called to do. Feeling this passion for your writing keeps you going. Quitting is no longer an option. When you’re passionate about your writing, perseverance is a given.

 

This brings us to two main questions:

  • How do you develop passion for the most important areas of your life?
  • How do you maintain that passion during the inevitable tough times?

First: Find It

Are you doing what you really want to do in your writing career? Are you doing it at least part of the time? (I know that for most of my writing life, it was half and half. Half the time I was writing what I really wanted to write–fiction usually–whether it sold or not. The other half of my writing time went to work-for-hire projects, teaching, speaking or whatever brought guaranteed income.) Ask yourself: Am I truly doing what I want to do?

If you’re not skilled enough to do the work you’d love to do, make time to educate yourself so you are. While maintaining your current job (either outside the home and/or raising children), do whatever it takes to prepare for your dream writing jobs. It’s very difficult to create passion for doing something you don’t want to do or a job you are “settling for” because you don’t feel skilled enough to do what you’d really love to do.

Do whatever you need to do to overcome those lying voices in your head that say you’ll never be good enough, you’re not smart enough, you’re not whatever enough. Read inspirational books, read author biographies about how they got started and grew as writers, and say “no” to whatever is eating the time you need to study and read and write.

Second: Maintain It

Passion for your writing makes your days fly by (in a good way!). It helps you get more done in less time. That being true, it deserves whatever time you need to keep your writing passion alive. If your passion for writing dies, then writing just becomes another drudge job.

So how can you maintain passion and enthusiasm every day? First–and maybe most obvious–is to spend more time actually doing what you love to do. What is your pet writing project, the one that may never sell but you love it? Spend more time each day working on it. Even if it’s only an extra fifteen minutes or half an hour, it will remind you why you love to write.

Another key to maintaining passion for all your work is to reconnect with the purpose underlying everything you do. For example, I don’t enjoy running until it’s over and I’m in the shower. But I run my miles in the morning because the weight-bearing exercise is critical to staying “recovered” from my osteoporosis, which means my bones stay strong, which means I can still upright at the computer (hopefully) for decades to come and still have energy at the end of the day for my grandkids.

The same goes for giving up sugar finally four months ago. For a gal whose blood type is Hershey’s, that was a big deal for me. But more and more, sugar was making me si

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29. Drains in Disguise

messI was wrong–again.

For twenty years, I’ve told students and wannabe writers that you have to put the writing first! Do it before other things take over your day.

Fight the impulse to clean your kitchen first, or straighten your office, or clean up the mess the kids made before leaving for school.

“But I can’t work in chaos,” writers protest.

You know what? Neither can I anymore–at least not well! And when I force myself to, the work is doubly tiring. Doubly stressful. Much less satisfying.

Energy Drains in Disguise

Something I read today made me realize my advice might be a tad off. Not wrong altogether, since if we don’t make writing some sort of priority, we won’t do it. However, to eliminate energy drains in your life, you need to look at the whole picture. Certainly all the things you do in a given day take your energy. Every action you take on your lengthy “to do” list uses energy.

What you may not realize is that actions you don’t take use energy as well. Your disorganized office, the piles of laundry on the bedroom floor, the stack of bills to pay, the two birthday gifts to buy, the clothing needing repair–all this drains your energy reserves as well. It happens whether you are looking at the unfinished business or just thinking about it.

It siphons off energy that could be used in a much more positive way. “These items on your mental ‘to do’ list, the ones you’ve been procrastinating about, distract you or make you feel guilty and drain the very energy you need to accomplish your goals.” (So says Cheryl Richardson in Take Time for Your Life.)

NOT an Excuse to Procrastinate

Taking care of the unfinished business that nags at your mind–and keeps you from feeling like you can settle down to write–may be necessary before you can tackle your writing assignment. Don’t go overboard though, or you’re just procrastinating. Washing the dirty dishes is one thing–taking time to replace the shelf paper in your pantry is something else.

Figure out the things that you MUST have done to feel at peace in your environment, and do those things ONLY. (It helps to do as many of them as you can the night before too.)

Eliminate the chaos in your environment, and you’ll eliminate a LOT of the chaos that blocks your writer’s mind. Now…off to clean my office.

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30. Communication Breakdown

After the day I experienced yesterday my theory about what is wrong with the world was solidified.

Most people cannot communicate well.

The inability to communicate wreaks havoc on all that could otherwise be good. And as a writer/author/speaker, who makes a living by communicating, I am all the more frustrated by people who do not communicate well with me. To communicate is to share information. If you are the only person who knows something, you are not sharing anything, so you are certainly not communicating. Family feuds, divorces, job/client firings and even wars are often the result of poor communication.

So enough with my rant. Let’s talk solutions. You cannot change the way others communicate, but you can change what you do to improve your own communication habits:

  1. Cover Your Bases – Assume the person you are communicating with knows nothing about what you are thinking or doing. Explain it all. Don’t patronize, but be clear.
  2. Cover Your Ass – Put your important words in writing and email/mail/fax them to the recipient. People have a tendency to forget what you say verbally, but once it is in writing, it cannot be disputed later. You cannot be accused of not communicating.
  3. Be a Good Listener – Don’t ignore what others tell you and assume it is okay to do what you want without repercussions.
  4. Ask the Right Questions – “Are you saying that you want me to ____?”
  5. What is Not Said is as Important as What is Said - If you are meeting in person, look ticked off, yawn through a meeting or show other negative body language, your listener will know. On the other hand, if the person you are meeting with shows negative body language, be aware of what that person is trying to tell you.
  6. Don’t Assume Anything – Just because you may have been clear about what you said, don’t assume the “listener” heard you correctly or even comprehends what you said.
  7. Encourage Feedback – “What do you think about that solution?” This way you’ll know if the person you are trying to communicate with understands what you said.
  8. Repetition is Your Friend – It is okay to repeat yourself (in non-annoying ways) to make sure your voice is heard. This is particularly true when you need to communicate events that are going to take place in the not-so-near future.
  9. Kindness Goes a Long Way – Above all else, be kind. People don’t want to be friends/married to/related to/do business with nasty, combative people. If you have ever been unkind, especially in business, and told yourself “people will get over it,” you’re only fooling yourself.
  10. Dig Out Your Sense of Humor - No matter how careful you are at communicating, there will be times when confusion ensues. When you get over the frustration, find a way to laugh about it. After all, there is nothing you can really do about it after the fact.

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31. Inner Critics and Time Wasters

criticWriters are opinionated people.

Our brains never seem to stop. We criticize because we “know” how things and people should be. This “critical editor component” of our personality is absolutely invaluable to the editing and revision process. If you can’t spot what’s wrong with a manuscript, you can’t fix it.

However, this same critical ability can cause writers to actually lose focus, allowing their writing hours to slip away with little or no work done.

Think About It

Many of us go through our daily lives with our internal critic or editor in charge. We don’t see the person right in front of us as he or she is (which may be perfectly fine.) Instead, that person reminds us of an ex-spouse, and we “see” characteristics that aren’t there. Stress!

Conversely, we think the person in front of us is “supposed” to be kind and supportive (our inner definition of parent/spouse/child/sibling). And yet many such relationships are anything but, leaving us hurt and upset because they should be supportive. More stress! Life rarely satisfies a person who lets the “shoulds” run his life.

Do we spend our time “shoulding”? We don’t see a child who is happily singing at the top of her voice. (That child should be more quiet in the store!) We don’t see an interesting shade of purple hair. (That teenager should resemble a miniature adult instead.) We don’t see the predator or user sometimes either–because trusted family members shouldn’t be such things. Our “shoulds” and “shouldn’ts” color everything we observe.

Change Your Perspective

Our inner editor sometimes keeps us from seeing what’s in front of us. We are constantly “revising” the facts. So what’s the problem with that? You can’t accept–and get peace about–what you can’t honestly see or face. You stay stirred up–a condition rarely suited to being creative. Sometimes the simplest solutions evade us because we’re all riled up inside.

It reminds me of a story (you may also be familiar with) about “The River and the Lion: After the great rains, the lion was faced with crossing the river that had encircled him. Swimming was not in his nature, but it was either cross or die. The lion roared and charged at the river, almost liondrowning before he retreated. Many more times he attacked the water, and each time he failed to cross. Exhausted, the lion lay down, and in his quietness he heard the river say, “Never fight what isn’t here.”

Cautiously, the lion looked up and asked, “What isn’t here?”

“Your enemy isn’t here,” answered the river. “Just as you are a lion, I am merely a river.”

Now the lion sat very still and studied the ways of the river. After a while, he walked to where a certain current brushed against the shore, and stepping in, floated to the other side.

Control What You Can: Yourself

We also can’t gain peace of mind and the ability to focus unless we’re willing to give up trying to control everyone and everything in our environment. We spen

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32. I'M WORKING MYSELF RIGHT OUT OF A JOB!

Katie's graduation from Pierce College.

Katie's graduation from boot camp.

As a mother our jobs are to raise our children to be self-sufficient, and ready to go out into the world and be successful. Well, I did do that. Now I'm not sure I'm ready to let them go! My sweet Katie did running start here in WA, that is were she did high school and college at the same time. OMG she did so well. A week after she graduated she left for the Navy. She is so strong and determined, I wish I had half of her strength and brains.
Now my son goes off for his junior year of college, he is doing a dual major of Physics-Engineering. I will only have one child left at home. My career as a stay at home mom is about to be finished. This has been one of the most rewarding careers of my life. Yes, I loved aviation, I actually wanted to be an airline pilot, but ya know, motherhood was and is far more exciting than I could ever have dreamed.



Here's the key, "When you know who you are and recognize the gifts you have been given, it is easy to make an impact on the world. Yet, when you can see potential in others and play a role in helping them grow..... it is exponentially rewarding.

2 Comments on I'M WORKING MYSELF RIGHT OUT OF A JOB!, last added: 9/6/2011
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33. Finding Margin

solitudeThe last two posts, I talked about overload, how it happened, and the effect on writers’ lives. Although certain Type A personalities seem to thrive on overloaded lives, most writers don’t.

Our best ideas - and energy to write about them - require some peace and quiet, some “down” time. To get that, we must rebuild margin into our lives.

Defining Margin

What exactly is margin? According to Richard Swenson M.D. author of Margin, “Margin is the space between our load and our limits. It is something held in reserve for unanticipated situations. It is the space between breathing freely and suffocating. Margin is the opposite of overload.”

Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it?

You might wonder at what point you became overloaded. It’s not always easy to see when it happens. We don’t have a shut off valve that clicks like when we put gasoline into our cars. Stop! Overload! Usually we don’t know that we are overextended until we feel the pain and frustration.

We would be smart to only commit 80% of our time and energy. Instead, we underestimate the demands on our life. We make promises and commit way more than 100% of our time and energy. Consequently, we have no margin left.

A Simple Formula

What exactly is margin? The formula for margin is straightforward: power - load = margin.

Your power is made up of things like your energy, your skills, how much time you have, your training, your finances, and social support.

Your load is what you carry and is made up of things like your job, problems you have, your commitments and obligations, expectations of others, expectations of yourself, your debt, your deadlines, and personal conflicts.

If your load is greater than your power, you have overload. This is not healthy, but it is where most people in our country live. If you stay in this overloaded state for a good length of time, you get burnout. (And burned out writers don’t write. I know–I’ve been there.)

The Answer

So how do we increase margin? You can do it in one of two ways. You can increase your power - or you can decrease your load. If you’re smart, you’ll do both.

Many of us feel nostalgic for the charm of a slower life. Few of us miss things like outhouses or milking cows or having no running water. Usually what we long for is margin. When there was no electricity, people played table games and went to bed early, and few suffered sleep deprivation. Few people used daily planners or had watches with alarms, let alone computers that beeped with e-mail messages and tweets. People had time to read–and to think–and to write. It happened in the margins of their lives.

Progress devoured the margin. We want it back. And I firmly believe that writers must have it back. Next week we will talk about ways to do just that.

PLEASE SHARE: What do you think so far about this week’s discussion of margin and overload? Do you identify? What does that mean to you as a writer?

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34. Inside Scoop & Publicist Job

Most of the New Jersey SCBWI members know Natalie Zaman and Charlotte Bennardo and were so happy for them when their book, SIRENZ came out in June.  It was so much fun for me to read, because they both took a character and took turns writing the chapters from their characters POV. 

Their own personal voices came through loud and clear, which only added to the fun of reading the book for me.  Everyone who has read the book has told me how much they enjoyed reading SIRENZ, so you might want to add it to your collection and see how they handled co-authoring a YA novel.

This made me think that there maybe writers out there who could use a reminder of the basics of Point-of -View.

  • POV is the eyes through which you’re seeing a scene. Also
    called character voice.
  • There are three types of POV: Omniscient, First Person,
    Third Person
  • Omniscient POV is where you’re not in any particular head.
    This POV lets you tell and know all, but lacks intimacy.
  • First Person is where you’re in one character’s head, and
    speaks in terms of I. This POV is immediate, emotive, and intimate, but
    can be limiting and difficult to write.
  • Third Person can be in a limited number of heads, and speaks
    in terms of he/she.

More on POV:  http://wp.me/pss2W-1Xv

Now for the inside scoop.  Over at Eve’s Fan Garden, Natalie and Charlotte take you down the road they took to get their book off the ground and published.  I think you will really enjoy reading about their journey.  Don’t miss clicking over.

http://evesfangarden.com/blog/2011/07/27/sirenz-blog-tour-the-sirenz-journey-by-natalie-zaman-and-charlotte-bennardo/

I don’t normally post jobs, but with this economy I figured it might be a good idea to let you know of this opportunity at fwmedia.  http://www.fwmedia.com/careers/publicist

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Author, success, writing, Young Adult Novel Tagged: Charlotte Bennardo, Natalie Zaman, Point-of-View, Sirenz 1 Comments on Inside Scoop & Publicist Job, last added: 7/27/2011
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35. Self publishing success does not think it’s the way to go

Brunonia Barry used book groups to refine The Lace Reader, and then self published it in 2007. The book did so well there was a bidding war from traditional publishers. When HarperCollins published it, it landed on the New York Times best seller list.

But even though it’s self publishing is what launched her success, she doesn’t recommend it.

Read why and more about the author and her books here.



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36. Amanda Hocking: “I became cooler when I stopped trying to be cool"

NY Times Magazine had an article/interview with Amanda Hocking, the 26-year-old e-book wunderkind who recently signed a $2 million contract with St. Martin's for her next four books.

In the past year, Hocking has self-pubbed 10 e-books and made about $2 million
from them, even though she prices them between 99 cents and $2.99. She now averages 9,000 downloads per day. While she says she thinks about each book for up to a year, she spends just two to four weeks writing them.

“Hocking is at a loss to explain the phenomenon. “I’ve seen other authors do the exact same things I have, similar genre, similar prices” — like many self-published authors, she prices her books radically below what traditional publishers charge; typically hers cost between 99 cents and $2.99 — “and they have multiple books out. And they all have good covers. And they’re selling reasonably well, but they’re not selling nearly as well as I am.””

She started with fan-fiction, then moved on to writing her own stuff. She started self-publishing because she couldn't get an agent. She has signed with a print publisher because only 15% of people owns e-readers and she wants to reach the other 85%. She's already a million-dollar author. For me to be a billion-dollar author, I need to have people buying my books at Wal-Mart.”

Read more about her here.



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37. Stage Five: Bull’s-Eye

success10You made it! This is the stage where you look around and can hardly believe it. You’re finally living your writing dream!

You have dreamed of this day for months–or decades. If you started down the road to success right after college when you didn’t have a family to support or attend to, you could well have cut the learning curve short. If you started when you had a young family (like I did), the stages probably took longer (since there are only so many hours in the day). If you began the journey while raising a family and handling a full-time day job, it might have taken ten years to reach this spot.

It doesn’t matter how long it took. You’re here–so celebrate and enjoy it! Before you set new and bigger goals, pause long enough to savor where you are.

Warning! The Dark Side of Success

Let yourself enjoy what you’ve worked so hard to attain. It’s been a long and sometimes difficult road. Don’t allow anyone or anything to interfere with the pleasure of what you’ve achieved.

Sometimes success takes you by surprise, and your successful career becomes overwhelming and distressing. My children were babies, toddlers and preschoolers when my books were first published. I was unprepared for the school invitations, I was scared to death when newspapers wanted interviews and photos, and I didn’t like traveling (driving in snow) and being away from my family for days at a time. At the time, it never occurred to me that I could say “no.” The whole thing spun out of control until I got too sick to continue. Keep success manageable! You’re the only one who can do that.

Setting Boundaries

Success attracts more of everything, so be prepared and think some of the issues through ahead of time. Yes, you’ll have more money, which is immensely helpful. But you’ll also have more business expenses, more calls, more e-mail, and more requests for your time (guest blog posts, interviews, Skype chats with book clubs or school groups, reviews). If you’re not careful about limiting what you say “yes” to, you’ll find yourself longing for the days when you just wrote and no one knew about you!

Never think that you must accept everything success brings simply because it has been offered. Decide ahead of time how much of your day or week you’re willing to give to these things, and then stick to it (for the sake of your family, your health and your sanity.)

When success hits and you wonder how to fit everything in, you may want to read a few good time management books, especially those written for writers. There’s no need to re-invent the wheel!

Friendship Changes

Your friends may change a bit after you are successful too. True friends (writers and non-writers both) will be happy for you, but there are some who will be jealous. If they don’t adjust their attitude, they may drop out of your life.

On the other hand, success as a writer will give you opportunities to meet other successful writers. Some of them will become lifelong friends, those truly kindred souls who speak your language and are as happy about your sales as they are about their own. Treasure these friendships.

Be grateful for your success. Not everyone in this country who would like to be a writer will survive all five stages of success. So be grateful that you have the ability and the freedom to do this. I sure am! I can’t imagine doing anything else.

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38. Stage Four: Survival and Growth

success8Okay, you prepared (Stage One). You explored your options (Stage Two). You got started (Stage Three). Now you’re ready for Stage Four of “The Five Stages of Success”, where you survive and thrive.

Start-Up Speeds

You might have had a very fast start. That would be the writer who published the first thing he submitted, or his first novel was a Newbery Honor Book. These overnight successes are at the extreme end of the bell curve.

The other extreme end of the “survival and growth” stage is where you find the most dedicated, determined writers. They sell articles about “how I made my first sale on my 239th submission” or they sell a book they’ve been working on diligently for twenty years.

Average Writers

Most of us fall somewhere in the middle. This stage is the most challenging, partly because it’s usually the longest. There is a lot to learn about the writing business, and improving one’s writing craft simply takes time. If you know that and truly understand it, you will enjoy this stage of your success so much more.

It shouldn’t be rushed through. Try to resist society’s “instant gratification” message when it comes to your writing. More and more, I’m receiving emails from new writers saying, “I haven’t had a response in two months from a publisher. I shouldn’t have to wait to be published!” And I think, Why not?

Writers for centuries have had to wait and practice and revise before being published. And thank goodness they did! Even writers like Jane Austen didn’t write early drafts that were very good. So don’t get in a rush. All you will accomplish by that attitude is getting material self-published that is way less than your best is going to be. Nearly everyone I hear from who did this regrets it later.

Growth is Fun

So where’s the success in this stage if it takes such a long time?

I believe there are dozens and dozens of mini-successes spread throughout this stage. They include things like:

  • finishing your first book
  • attending a conference
  • making a new writing friend
  • small sales and large sales–celebrate each one!
  • being asked to speak to kids or librarians
  • the years your income taxes reflect “black” instead of “red”
  • good reviews
  • book signings (whether you sell many books or not)
  • autographing books for your friends and family
  • and so many more!

During this “surviving and growing” stage it’s easy to get fixated on all the things you can’t do yet. Don’t forget to notice–and celebrate–that you ARE making it! You are growing. You are getting there, step by step.

One Regret

success9If I could do one thing over in my writin

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39. Stage One: Exploration

success7If success is a journey, where are you along this continuum? As we go through the five stages of success–and learn to celebrate each stage–you’ll see each milestone for what it is: a huge victory.

Getting Started

As I mentioned in “The Five Stages of Success,” my first step along the way was taking the correspondence writing class from the Institute while my three kids were infants and toddlers. Choosing to throw myself into this endeavor was a successful leap of faith for me. (And my husband, as it took exactly half our food budget to pay for it!) But all success has a price, even if it entails making your own bread and homemade yogurt for a year.

If I knew I wanted to write, where did the exploration come in? In two phases actually.

Taking Chances

In Phase One, I hadn’t known I wanted to write. I had tried four other home-based businesses before the writing course. Through those experiences, I found out I did NOT like selling vitamins or make-up, stuffing envelopes, or day care. I was successful in weeding out those careers. Until I took the writing course, I had no idea how much I would love it–a love that has lasted thirty years so far.

Phase Two of the exploration phase dealt with deciding what exactly I wanted to write. I had no idea, and the process of deciding can’t be forced or hurried. You have to take time to explore and mentally try on and investigate the many writing possibilities open to you. And when you hit your niche, you’ll know it.

Analyzing Your Explorations

I sold fiction and nonfiction to magazines, experimenting with shorter material. For two years I wrote for ages preschool through adults. The easiest to sell was middle-grade and adult nonfiction–and that was a consideration. But my highest satisfaction came from writing middle-grade fiction. [That's where I settled, and (for the most part), that's what I wrote in the coming years--but that's a different stage.]

The “Exploration Stage” of success can be such a fun time! I found it exciting. If you want more guidance or direction for this phase, you might try Finding Your Perfect Work by Paul and Sarah Edwards or Callings: Finding and Following an Authentic Life by Gregg Levoy.

Stay tuned for “Stage Two: Preparation” on Monday!

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40. Five Stages of Success

success1Do you feel like a successful  writer? Or are you waiting to pass some big milestone before you can feel successful? (e.g. sell a story, win a contest, finish a novel, get an agent)

Is success (in your thinking) saved for after you’ve reached your next goal?

No Finish Lines

If so, let’s re-define success.

Success, according to many experts, is a process. It is not a finish line you cross. There are milestones along the way. Haven’t you found that to be true? You set one goal and eventually are successful at achieving it. But what do we do almost immediately? We set a new goal and decide we will be successful at some point in the future when we attain that goal.

Is it any wonder we never feel successful? (Oddly enough, though, we see other writers as successful–even writers less published than we are!)

New Definition

Success, to be realistic, needs to be measured in a different way. Each step–each of the five stages–along the way in your writing career needs to be acknowledged and celebrated.

Personal Story

My own writing career started with taking the writing course offered by the Institute of Children’s Literature. I poured myself into that course, set aside study time daily during naptimes, and graduated in ten months. After thirty rejections, I sold three of my assignments, and two years later, my first middle-grade novel to Atheneum. My seventh novel won a children’s choice award. I’ve gone on to write four series, some fiction and some nonfiction.

At what point did I consider myself successful? Truthfully, a big part of me still thinks of success as being “out there” somewhere. I look at other writers who have MFAs and high powered agents, and think, Now THOSE are successful writers!

Looking back, though, I would say that success happened at various milestones–and the first milestone was signing up for the writing course and taking my dream seriously. I think I was successful each time I got a rejection slip and decided to not give up. I think there were more successes than just the “public” ones we usually acknowledge: the sales, the awards, getting that agent.

The Five Stages

According to experts Paul and Sarah Edwards in Secrets of Self-Employment (Working from Home), there are five stages of success. Each is a milestone in itself. In order for the writing journey to be fun and rewarding, you really need to celebrate each victory–each success–along the way.

During the next five days, we’ll be talking about the five stages of success: Exploration, Preparation, Start-Up, Survival & Growth, and Bull’s-Eye.

Let’s re-think our definitions of success. Don’t focus just on the end result. Focus on being successful in the stage where you are right now. You’ll enjoy the process so much more this way!

[Next blog post on Friday is Stage One: Exploration]

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41. Your Weekend Reading Pleasure

computerSome terrific reading is waiting for you this weekend! The articles below from around the Web will give you writing and marketing help, help you see through the current publishing confusion, and even show you ways to get your kids to read through the summer.

Enjoy!

“Is Publishing Turning into the Wild West?” The publishing world has changed radically in the last couple of years, thanks to those pesky e-books. Do the old rules still apply? Does chaos rule? Or are there ways to survive and thrive in the new environment? [Terrific article here by Randy Ingermanson, plus interesting comments.]

“A Dozen Ways to Get Your Child to Read Over the Summer and Have Fun Doing It!” Every year student assessments show that when kids take a break from school over the summer and they don’t read or have any reading instruction during that time, their reading skills are adversely affected. But this doesn’t HAVE to happen. Encouraging children to read during the summer will not only sustain their current reading achievement, it will also contribute to their success in reading proficiency. [Here you'll find suggestions for early primary grades, middle grades, and teens.]

“6 Query Tips from a Publishing Insider” To help you write a query letter (or submission letter) so that an agent will give your manuscript the time of day here are the top 3 Do’s and Don’ts from our head Acquisitions Editor. [The first tip was even a surprise to me, although just last week I sent a proposal to a publisher and got an email suggesting that I add more marketing stuff-even though this publisher has published nine of my previous books! She said there was also talk of adding a marketing clause in new author contracts.]

“Twitter-patted” Twittering gave the world a fast way to communicate and also a new tool for marketing. Marketing with only a few words takes planning and focus. [Read this article for a brilliant way to plan and write your Tweets while you are working on your book/story/article/ebook to be released later.]

“Ways to Improve Your Writing Style” Newer authors struggle with writing technique, and long time writers still find elements in writing that are their nemesis. Being aware of problem areas in your writing can help you move ahead as a writer when you focus on them and find ways to improve those techniques. Here are a few tips on become a better writer. [Gail Gaymer Martin's blog posts are meaty and almost a mini-workshop. Don't stop with this post, but go through her whole Writing Fiction Right blog site.]

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42. Children's Literacy Leads to Success

Here's a nice story in a Colorado newspaper about its Lt. Governor visiting an elementary school to promote literacy as a driving force for kids' success. I've always felt that regular daily reading to children from a very young age and up is key to their success in school, work and life in general. This is a nice article that talks a little about that, and coincidentally, Brave Little Monster is one of the books that the Lt. Governor reads to the children to promote literacy. Enjoy! :)

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43. Famous Writers on Failure and Success

Lessons on Failure from Joyce Carol Oates

The Fringe Benefits of Failure: J.K. Rowling Harvard Commencement Speech

J.K. Rowling on Fear, Depression, and Failure

Success

"Talent is a dreadfully cheap commodity, cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work and study
–Stephen King

"When you have a great and difficult task, something perhaps almost impossible, if you only work a little at a time, every day a little, suddenly the work will finish itself."
-Isak Dinesen

"Failure is success if we learn from it."
-Malcom S. Forbes

Be responsible for your own success. "You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You're on your own. And you know what you know. You are the guy who'll decide where to go."
-Dr. Seuss

Stay the course, even when it feels like you aren't making progress. "One may not reach the dawn save by the path of the night."
-Kahlil Gibran

"Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising which tempt you to believe that your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires
courage."
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Be brave. Take risks. Nothing can substitute experience."
-Paul Coelho

"Success is blocked by concentrating on it and planning for it… Success is shy – it won't come out while you're watching."
-Tenessee Williams

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44. Industry News – St. Martin’s & Amanda Hocking

A couple of weeks ago we talked about the phenominal success Amanda Hocking has had e-publishing her books.  Here is an update:

St. Martin’s Pays a Reported $2M For Four Books By Amanda Hocking, Self-Publishing’s Reluctant Heroine.  This year every week in publishing could be considered eventful, but this week in particular had a special kind of symmetry, as the very publishing house Barry Eisler walked away from to publish on his own brought Amanda Hocking into the fold. Despite sources indicating otherwise a few days ago, St. Martin’s emerged the victor of the auction for Hocking’s new Watersong YA paranormal series, reportedly paying more than $2 million for World English rights (which, of course, includes digital rights, too.)

“I’ve done as much with self-publishing as any person can do,” Hocking told the NYT Thursday. “People have bad things to say about publishers, but I think they still have services, and I want to see what they are. And if they end up not being any good, I don’t have to keep using them. But I do think they have something to offer.”

Her comments echoed a blog post Tuesday where she addressed and explained the then-ongoing auction: “I want to be a writer. I do not want to spend 40 hours a week handling e-mails, formatting covers, finding editors, etc. Right now, being me is a full-time corporation.” But in a follow-up post, Hocking reiterated that the deal doesn’t mean she will stop self-publishing: “I have a few titles lined up this year [to self-publish] and I’ll have more in the future.”

SMP publisher Matthew Shear evidently wanted to win the auction “pretty badly,” having first heard of Hocking six months before from her eventual acquiring editor, Rose Hilliard. Shear looks at self-publishing as a way for authors “to perhaps make a certain amount of money sooner rather than later” but a publisher “provides an extraordinary amount of knowledge into the whole publishing process. We have the editors, we have the marketers, we have the art directors, we have the publicists, we have the sales force. And they can go out and get Amanda’s books to a much, much bigger readership than she had been able to get to before.”

The first Watersong book won’t be out until Fall 2012, by which time it may become apparent whether Hocking can continue to sell her self-published books at the same rapid clip of the last few months (monthly sales reports she provided to the AP showed more than 333,000 copies sold of her nine titles available, with another 300,000 sales in February, which roughly dovetail with her claimed total earnings of between $1.4m and $2m.) Her current readership may also use that time to adjust to the eventual price increase from the 99 cents to $2.99 her e-published titles cost to whatever higher agency price Macmillan decides upon.

And Hocking, while obviously excited by her new and parallel career direction, is bemused by the reaction: “It is crazy that we live in a time that I have to justify taking a seven-figure a publishing deal with St. Martin’s,” she wrote. “Ten years ago, nobody would question this. Now everybody is.”

Times they are a changing. 

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


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45. Women gets more than 100 rejections before finding success

Women’s Day had a series of article about women over 40 who made their dreams come true. One was a writer who didn’t get a contract until nine years after she seriously started trying.

“Diana sent the manuscript off to one publisher after another. When rejection number 100 arrived, she quit counting. “I thought of it as a test to see if I wanted what I said I wanted,” Diana says. And she did, badly. The only thing left to do was work harder. “If my writing wasn’t selling to those publishers, I needed to do more research, take more classes.”

And that persistence paid off. Her eighth novel sold, and she’s published two more, with another due out in October.

Read more here.



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46. What About Regrets

Having pondered the subject of guilt in an earlier blog, I am now thinking about its second cousin, the subject of regret. My parents had many regrets in their adult life, the main one being that they didn’t leave Europe at an early age and thus avoid the horror of the Second World War. But there were others, many of them being the decisions they made in either spending or managing their money. No matter how problematic my father’s relationship was with my brother, he never regretted anything he said or did in my poor brother’s regard. Remember, he was the one member of my family who never, never was able to say, “I’m sorry” except on one occasion.

My mother had many regrets, the most painful one for her was that she felt she was not close to her mother. And after my grandmother was killed, she was haunted by the fact that she never told her mother that she loved her. It’s mistakes like that which are the most lethal ones with which to live.

The other most painful regrets have to do with money. I heard my dad say, “I should have invested in that apartment house.” Of course his friend, who did take a chance on it, made a small fortune. Moreover, Dad didn’t learn from his mistake. He never was able to risk a dime on anything that wasn’t a hundred percent insured, solid investment. He had many regrets in his life.

Fast forward to my own regrets. I must be chip off the old block because I don’t really have any regrets regarding my interpersonal relationships. However, my husband and I both regretted not putting our house on the market a couple of years earlier when the market was hot. Our house is rented now and the regrets have diminished.

Moreover, recently there has been some talk about the fact that we may be going into an inflationary period in our economy, and owning a house may just end up being the best hedge against inflation that we could possibly have. So all this makes me wonder if we should really spend a whole lot of time kicking ourselves over regrets, when there isn’t much we can do to reverse things, and maybe, just maybe, our decisions may end up being the best ones we could have made in the first place.


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47. Knowing When to Quit

quitWe don’t like to talk about quitting or giving up on our dreams. But let’s be honest. Will every wannabe writer eventually land big contracts,  snag a well-known NY agent, and be sent on ten-city book tours? No.

Maybe your dreams are more modest, but you’ve worked at breaking into publishing for years. Should you continue the struggle? For how long? How do you know when to quit?

Asking the Wrong Question

I came across an excellent discussion from a blog post that is several years old, but the advice is timeless. Called “When to Quit,” it’s a lengthy article by Scott Young on this subject. I hope you’ll read it to the end.

One factor the article said to consider was how you feel on a day-to-day basis as you pursue your dream. How is the process affecting your life, your character, your growth? “So if you are pursuing your dream and you don’t think you are going to make it, the question of whether or not to quit doesn’t depend on your chance of success. The real question is whether pursuing this dream is causing you to grow. Does this path fill you with passion and enthusiasm? Do you feel alive?”

You may not agree with all his views, but I guarantee that the article will make you think–even if you have no intention of quitting. It might lead you to make a course correction however. And it will make you evaluate why you’re pursuing your particular dream–and that’s always a good thing!

If you have a minute, give me your reactions to the ideas in his article.

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48. Writing–and Writers–That Last

100_2689

I’m going to reveal my age here–I was born the same year as John-Boy Walton. I loved the Walton family, I own all ten seasons of their show, all the specials, and a few books about them.

 

So when our plane was overbooked and we didn’t get on our overseas flight, we drove from Baltimore to Norfolk, VA, to catch a plane flying out of the Naval Base there. We had four days to relax and read. I was looking at a map of Virginia when suddenly the words “Walton’s Mountain Museum” leaped out at me.

Forty Years Ago!

There it was! Right in the Blue Ridge Mountains, very near Rockfish. The Museum was in Schuyler, the small town where Earl Hamner, Jr. (creator of the Waltons) grew up. The drive took longer than expected, and we very nearly didn’t get there on time to see the 30-minute video before going through the museum. I was entranced, enthralled…

This was my favorite family during their ten-year run on TV. They were considered a goody-goody kind of show. When they were put on the air in September (’73, I think), they were in the same time slot as Flip Wilson’s comedy show and “The Mod Squad.” Earl Hamner said they didn’t think the series had a prayer against those two popular shows–but by Christmas just three months later, “The Waltons” was #1. They remained popular for ten years.

Write What You Know

I always love to see the homes of writers. The Hamner home on a steep hillside (above) was modest for a family that included eight children. The country store sits on the spot where Earl Hamner, Jr. had a writing shed. The church they attended was just around the corner on the country road. We passed several logging trucks and loggers at work as we neared Schuyler–everything very “Walton.”

Whether you loved the Waltons or not, as writers it’s worth thinking about its popularity at a time that everything was “mod” and becoming irreverent. Earl Hamner, Jr. tapped into something that spoke to people. First his books, and then the shows made from his books. How did he do it? He followed the advice of “write what you know.”

Writing That Connects

100_2679He studied people–and what made them tick. He knew specific details: the birds, the trees, the wildflowers on the mountain.

He observed dynamics between people and got to the heart of what made a common man heroic. He wrote and rewrote and rewrote some more.

Hamner is 88 now and lives in California, but you can still buy his autographed books at his boyhood home.

I left the mountain inspired.

[Leave a comment if you were/are a Walton's fan!]

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49. Your Approximately Perfect Writing Life

ladder2Are you climbing the writer’s ladder of success, but beginning to suspect that your ladder is leaning against the wrong building?

I’d been wondering for nearly a year. I reviewed my goals for the year and saw that I was moving fairly steadily toward each one. Mostly that made me happy.

But two goals I’m moving toward make me uneasy. I realized I really didn’t want to reach those goals. They were things “the experts” said I needed to do to be a successful writer, but they appeal to me less and less, the closer I get to the goals. ladder4

Your Goals? Or Someone Else’s?

Then I re-read one of Randy Ingermanson’s free newsletters, and it was one of those “aha!” moments. He was talking about creating your “approximately perfect life.” In part, this is what he wrote:

“What’s your ‘approximately perfect life’ look like? Have you made a list of the things you’d like to have or to achieve or to be that would make your life the one you want?…Nothing happens unless you take action. But you can’t take any meaningful action until you define your direction. And you’ll never have direction until you know what your ‘approximately perfect life’ would look like.”

How do you even know the kind of life/writing life you would like to have? (And by writing life, I mean to include family and other goals you have.  The whole enchilada.)

There are a number of ways (books and websites) to help you define what YOUR perfect life would include. Randy recommended an online free website that he faithfully uses called Simpleology. The creator of that site promises that:

Within minutes of setting up your account, you will:

  • See your day with instant clarity
  • Focus instantly on what´s important
  • Dump the rest (liberation is a click away)
  • Clear your brain of clutter and distraction

Let’s Get Personal

What’s important to you? What would spell success for you in the writing life? Have you written down your goals? Look at each one closely. Are they truly your goals and desires? Or are they goals–like several of mine–that were dictated by others but, in your heart, you know they don’t fit who you are?

Today I have a very long walk planned to think about these issues. I suspect, that when I get home, I’ll be doing some restructuring of my goals. My life is too busy and fragmented, and something’s got to go. Why not start with those things that really don’t spell writing success to me?

If you’re willing to shar

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50. The Road To Success

Today I'm going to point you to an article I read recently and found very helpful:

9 Things Successful People Do Differently by Heidi Grant Halvorson, Ph.D.

Halvorson points out that most of us have a hard time figuring out what it is that makes us succeed when we succeed and therefore that makes it hard for us to repeat the process on each new project or goal. I had never thought about it this way but I think it's so true. When things go surprisingly well, we tend to think we "got lucky" but I truly believe that LUCK = PREPARATION + OPPORTUNITY so that means it's got to be more than just showing up, right? But rarely do we stop and ask ourselves why something we did worked. We just rejoice in it.

One of my favorite things on the list is: Focus On Getting Better Rather Than Being Good

Such a good idea, and SO hard to stay focused on. So if you've got a few minutes, I highly recommend checking out the link!

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