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1. Motivation or Committment? [Part Two]

Last week I talked about motivation and commitment, and we discussed the differences and definitions. [Read “Motivation or Commitment? Only ONE is Necessary” first.]

 

Motivation can be fleeting, but real commitment is here to stay.

The WHY Behind Committment

Commitments come in different sizes. I am committed to big things (my marriage, children, and grandchildren) and I’m committed to smaller things (paying the bills on time, and brushing my teeth.)

Other things I do when I’m “motivated” (like spruce up the guest room when company is coming, or buy new shoes for some social event). But I don’t like to decorate or shop, so unless I’m motivated by something outside myself, I don’t do those two things. But I pay bills and babysit grandkids, no matter what else is going on in my life.

Commitments occur when something is truly gut level important to us. Some things I’ve always been committed to (e.g. my family and paying my bills). I would hate to be a bad mother or a deadbeat. Other things started off as “sometimes activities,” based on whether or not I felt motivated (e.g. cutting out junk food and eating vegetables); they only moved to the “committed” category when I encountered various health issues that demanded a change. It was amazing to me how my waffling attitude became committed overnight.

Reasons to Commit

What about our writing? As an ICL student and early writer, I was motivated! I loved the writing, being published, being paid, seeing bylines, you name it. I was excited by it all. During the single parenting years, the writing became a commitment. (Meeting deadlines was non-negotiable; it meant having food on the table.)

But the kids are all adults now, and my writing income isn’t required to keep a roof over our heads. I wonder if that’s why, in recent years, the writing commitment has slipped back into the “I need to feel motivated to write” category. Whatever the reason, I do NOT like it. I am determined to move my writing back to the committed side.

Some commitments come naturally to me (like with God, my family, and my country). Some commitments I make when I really want something (like giving up sugar and caffeine because I wanted my health back). I know that commitment is a choice. Is it just a matter of choosing to be committed? Is it the old Nike slogan, “Just do it!” [I sure hope not. I am sick of that route.]

Check Out the Obstacles

I think part of my problem is the shifting publishing scene. I love some of the new options, but some of it I really don’t. My old writing life, the one I was committed to for years, no longer exists. Publishing has changed that much, especially with all the marketing that has shifted to the writer’s shoulders, even if you’re published by a traditional publisher.

I think part of the problem has been re-defining what writing now means to me—and describing a writing life that I could truly commit to. What would it have to look like? What would the writing experience need to include (and exclude) for me to re-make a whole-hearted commitment to it? Each of us needs to answer that question for ourselves, and it will be different for each writer.

I DO know that I’m tired of the almost constant need to re-motivate myself. It takes a lot of time and writing energy. When I’m finally motivated to write some days, I’

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2. Change and Expectations! by DL Larson

This is the week my family has been waiting for ~ my daughter Amber is getting married this Saturday. The fact that I have taken time to write my blog signifies some basic things about my life.
1. I'm more organized than I thought in order to have time to write! (if you believe this - you've never been the mother of the bride!)
2. I need a break from the "To Do Today" list. (Yes, yes, YES - I need to think of something else, just for a moment or two.)
3. I want to tell the world, "My beautiful, lovely daughter is getting married!"
4. I need a moment to realize change is upon us. We've been waiting for this day for a long time, yet it's scary too. I hope and pray Amber and Josh will have a wonderful life together.

That's really all a mother can ask. A wonderful life doesn't mean it will be stress free, or even without financial problems. But a wonderful life is not measured by these standards, at least not for me. My measuring stick is more about commitment to each other, stand by each other with no matter what attitude. It means leaning and holding at the same time. It means sharing and giving and taking care of each other. It means whispering dreams to each other until they become real. It's shouting and laughing and crying with one another. At the end of each day, no matter what happens, being together is the most important thing. It's loving and being loved.

That is my prayer. For my daughter. For my new son!

Til next time ~
DL Larson

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3. Beautiful word: commitment

I'm busy, busy, busy working on my Spring 2012 book, RADIATE, and wanted to do a fly-by post. As I posted earlier, my sweetie proposed and we're getting married this year...that's an amazing commitment. And it gets even stronger as we just committed to a huge undertaking: kitty parents.

Meet Madison Leeny (Madi in back) and Smokey Farquar Booreguard IV (Boo in front), the newest additions to our family. We rescued them from Polly's Pet Shelter in Los Angeles, CA, after I read of their heartbreaking story online.



Madi and Boo were born to a feral mommy on Thanksgiving. A lady was watching out for the small family and leaving food out for them. She was going to wait until the kittens (three of them) were eight weeks old before taking them to the shelter. Sadly, when the babies were five weeks old, a stray dog attacked and killed the mommy and their sibling. Madi and Boo escaped unharmed, but were left orphaned. Fortunately, Polly's Pet Rescue took them in and simply by a pure miracle, I decided to look for kittens for adoption while we were staying in Los Angeles. It only took three days after the initial e-mail for the transaction to be completed.



Now Madi and Boo live very happily in the RV with us, playing and running, chasing each other, batting the balls around, and sleeping any time they want. They are an amazing addition to our family and we have fully committed to their health and well-being. They are vaccinated, spayed/neutered, and microchipped.



Commitment comes in many forms...and I'm pleased to dedicate myself to these two little bundly puffs of love in my life. Well...as I write RADIATE!



Do you have a new kitten or puppy in your life? Tell us about the joys of your pets.

Hugs,
Marley = )

Ghosts don't hang up their sheets after Halloween!
GHOST HUNTRESS series - The Awakening, The Guidance,
The Reason, The Counseling - available now!

7 Comments on Beautiful word: commitment, last added: 1/13/2011
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4. Who’s in Charge? (Part 2)

attitudeHope you read “Who’s in Charge?” (Part 1) first!

On Monday I talked about taking charge of your negative thought because where the mind goes, the man (or woman) follows! And how will that help?

Attitudes

Changing your thoughts will change your attitudes and emotional feelings about writing. Instead of postponing happiness until you get published, for example, choose to be content with your writing today.

Choose to enjoy the act of putting words down on paper to capture an image. Choose to enjoy delving into your memories for a kernel of a story idea. Choose to enjoy the process of reading back issues of magazines you want to submit to. Choose to enjoy reading a book on plot or dialogue or characterization for tips you can apply to your stories.

Instead of feeling pressured to succeed quickly, choose to be patient with your learning curve. Choose to be happy about each small, steady step forward.

Zoom Out!

Look at the larger picture, how each writing day is another small building block laying the foundation of your career. Stay present in the present! Pace yourself with the determined attitude of the tortoise instead of the sprinter attitude of the hare.

You also need to choose an attitude of commitment. Commit to your goals and deadlines, to continued improvement in your writing, and to dealing with negative feelings as they come up. Commitment is more than “I wish” or “I’d like.” Commitment is “I will.” There is a huge difference! (Like the gap between a man saying, “Gee, I’d like to marry you” and “Will you marry me–here’s the ring–let’s set a date!”)

Move from the wishy-washy attitude of “I’d like to be a writer” to the commitment level of “I’ll do whatever it takes for as long as it takes to be a successful writer.” That one change in attitude can be what determines if you make it as a writer.

(Stay tuned for Part 3 on Friday.)

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5. What Type of Writer Are You?

1Do you ever wonder if you’re a REAL writer? If you have doubts, it might be because you have a bad case of the “shoulds.”

Symptoms of the “shoulds” include:

  • You should write first thing in the morning.
  • You should write daily.
  • You should keep a journal.
  • You should write down your dreams every morning.
  • You should have a room of your own and be organized!
  • You should write for publication.

What if some of the “shoulds” just go against your grain? Are you not a real writer then? What if you write best after 10 p.m. instead of first thing in the morning? What if you start journals repeatedly and never last more than three days? What if you can’t remember your dreams? What if an organized office makes you freeze and you secretly prefer writing in chaos?

Are you a REAL writer then? YES!

What Am I Exactly?

If you struggle with your identity as a writer–if you don’t seem to fit the mold no matter how you’ve tried–you would love the book I found over the weekend. It’s called The Write Type: Discover Your True Writer’s Identity and Create a Customized Writing Plan by Karen E. Peterson, who wrote the best book on writer’s block I ever read.

This book takes you through exercises to find the real writer who lives inside you. You’ll explore the ten components that make up a writer’s “type.” They include such things as tolerance for solitude, best time of day to write, amount of time, need for variety, level of energy, and level of commitment. Finding your own personal combination of traits helps you build a writer’s life where you can be your most productive and creative.

Free to Be Me

To be honest, the exercises with switching hands (right brain/left brain) didn’t help me as much as the discussions about each trait. I could usually identify my inner preferences quite easily through the discussion. It gave me freedom to be myself as a writer. It also helped me pinpoint a few areas where I believed some “shoulds” that didn’t work for me, where I was trying to force this square peg writer into a round hole and could stop!

We’re all different–no surprise!–but we published writers are sometimes too quick to pass along our own personal experience in the form of “shoulds.” You should write first thing in the morning should actually be stated, It works well for ME to write first thing in the morning, so you might try that.

What About You?

Have you come up against traits of “real writers” that just don’t seem to fit you? Do you like to flit from one unfinished project to another instead of sticking to one story until it’s finished and submitted? Do you need noise around you and get the heebie jeebies when it’s too quiet?

If you have time, leave a comment concerning one or two areas where you have struggled in the pas

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6. Divine Discontent

Learning how to be content with what you have brings great peace. I’ve discontentdone several studies on contentment, and it’s a state I try to live in.

That said, I also believe there is such a thing as divine discontent. It’s akin to the stirring of the nest when it’s time for baby birds to leave their comfort zone and fly.

That “I want something more” feeling is what prompted me to take the ICL writing course thirty years ago, the only writer’s “training” I’ve ever had.

Spinning Your Wheels

This divine discontent is a longing for something different. You may feel stuck in a job that saps so much energy that you don’t have any left over for your writing. You may have climbed to the top of the corporate ladder and found it less satisfying than you’d expected. Your kids may finally be in school all day, but your days are crammed with things that don’t fulfill you.

This restless discontent can be a sign that you’re being called to something else. If you’re reading this blog, perhaps it’s a career in writing.

Signposts Along the Way

According to The Practical Dreamer’s Handbook: Finding the Time, Money, and Energy to Live Your Dreams by Paul and Sarah Edwards, there are sixteen signs to look for that might mean something is missing in your life–and something new is waiting to be born. The signs include:

  • Not wanting to get out of bed
  • Feeling mildly depressed for days on end
  • Difficulty motivating yourself to do routine tasks
  • Overeating, using alcohol, drugs, or TV to feel better or escape
  • Losing interest in things that once engaged you
  • Feeling chronically tired, de-energized, and listless
  • Nagging doubts about yourself and the course of your life
  • Losing a sense of enthusiasm
  • Worrying about how you’ll keep things together
  • Getting frequent headaches, stomach upset, and other aches and pains
  • Feeling bored and restless
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Wishing you were someone else
  • Nagging and complaining
  • Having frequently bad dreams or nightmares
  • Feeling constantly overwhelmed and irritable

What if you identify with these signs of discontent with your life? Could this restless sense of “I need something more” be a calling to do something else? Something besides what “everyone” thinks you should do?

Finding Out

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7. Three Things




Three Things

Three things in life that, once gone, never come back -  Time, Words and Opportunity


Three things in life that can destroy a person - Anger, Pride and Unforgiveness


Three things in life that you should never lose - Hope, Peace and Honesty


Three things in life that are most valuable - Love, Family & Friends and Kindness


Three things in life that are never certain - Fortune, Success and Dr

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8. Commitment

Cowboy

Have you ever totally committed yourself to anyone?

Behind the question


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9. Three Easy Steps to Saying No

Three easy steps to say no:

I have a hard time saying no when people ask me to do something.  According to Merriam-Webster.com, no means:  not so —used to express negation, dissent, denial, or refusal .  Sounds easier said than done.

I can’t say no to teachers.  Why is it that I revert immediately back to a child when confronted by a teacher?  My son’s second grade teacher asked me to create games for their fall festival.  Immediately I had to raise my hand to ask a question.  Raise me hand?  I’m probably a good 20 years older than her, why am I raising my hand?  Because she’s a teacher.  Rather than just telling her that I’ve already committed to lugging a moonbounce to my son’s preschool, baking a birthday cake for our goldfish AND mowing the backyard after two straight weeks of rain, I hear myself, “How many games?”  I can’t explain the horrific guilt I felt when I pulled in the carpool line and my son was the last person standing there WITH the principle!  She capitalized on this by getting me to run the Book Fair!

If teachers were hard enough, priests are even worse to say no to.  They have this uncanny ability to look out into the pews at service and immediately pick out who they can tap for the next big project.  “Hmmm, need volunteers for the entire summer to dig trenches?  Let’s see…oh, great Kelly Melang is sitting in the back hiding behind a pillar, perfect.”  I try to make it out of service and feel this tap on my shoulder.  I think this is why our priest standing at the back of church shaking hands of everyone leaving, it allows him to hold on and get you to volunteer.  I can’t say no because I picture St. Peter there at the golden gates highlighting my name on his list, “Hmm Melang didn’t want to clean out the bird poo from the rafters of the church, one black mark.”

Then there’s the dreaded brownie/cub scout showing up at your door with the $50 box of popcorn.  I’ve found myself hiding in the house with all the lights off sucking my thumb hoping that I don’t have to mortgage the house for wrapping paper and popcorn.  Or they catch me and I’m wondering why I’ve gained 2 inches on my thighs from the 16 boxes of cookies I consumed.

I am weak, no is a hard word for me to say.  I’ve been employing a new strategy to not over commit myself by using these three steps:

If someone asks me to volunteer, chair, work, watch someone (insert commitment here) here’s how I say no:

“Kelly, can you make 300 cupcakes with all the colors of rainbow and letters of the alphabet on them for the school?”  Here I have a choice, normally I’ll just say yes then spend the next few days complaining as my fingers turn blue from food coloring and my boys go into a sugar coma from licking bowls.  Now I say, “I’m sorry, I can’t really commit to that at this time.”  This is translated into, “I’m trying to say something to get away from you then I’ll hide until the function is over…”  With my luck, they find me hiding in the bathroom stall and next thing I know, I’m in the kitchen.

My second tactial way to say no is, “I’m sorry I can’t do whatever but I can do……”  For example, I’m shaking our rector’s hand and he asks, “Kelly we really need someone to work the diaper changing room this morning.”  Hmmmm, my children are out of diapers and in case no one knows, other children’s poop really does stink.  Now I say, “I can’t do this because I’ll throw up, but I can help push the crying babies up and down the hallway.”   Translation:  Having two small boys means I lost my hearing a long time ago, so pushing crying babies sounds a lot easier to me.

“Kelly, can you commit the next 9 months of your life to running all the fundraising for (insert program here).”  I’ve already committed 9 months of my life twice and believe me I remember the last two months as not much fun.  Rather than saying No, I say, “Let me think about it and get back to you.”  This gives me a chance to think and let everyone tell me that I am crazy for even considering this.  With that chance to breathe, you realize that 9 months is a really long time and just like birth control, you have to say no.  Maybe you’ll get lucky and someone else will step up before you have to make a decision.

How do I limit my schedule when most Moms schedules are jam packed?  I don’t commit to anything unless asked, that way people are coming to me when they really need someone.  We all know those few that setup everything, those completely coordinated, organized, got it together Moms that run the PTA as school.  HIDE FROM THEM!  Whenever they see you, there’s some type of request, even if it’s just licking 600 envelopes for the parish mailing.  I bet you, they are sitting home with eating bon bons- they’ve delegated everything out!

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10. Three Easy Steps to Saying No

Three easy steps to say no:

I have a hard time saying no when people ask me to do something.  According to Merriam-Webster.com, no means:  not so —used to express negation, dissent, denial, or refusal .  Sounds easier said than done.

I can’t say no to teachers.  Why is it that I revert immediately back to a child when confronted by a teacher?  My son’s second grade teacher asked me to create games for their fall festival.  Immediately I had to raise my hand to ask a question.  Raise me hand?  I’m probably a good 20 years older than her, why am I raising my hand?  Because she’s a teacher.  Rather than just telling her that I’ve already committed to lugging a moonbounce to my son’s preschool, baking a birthday cake for our goldfish AND mowing the backyard after two straight weeks of rain, I hear myself, “How many games?”  I can’t explain the horrific guilt I felt when I pulled in the carpool line and my son was the last person standing there WITH the principle!  She capitalized on this by getting me to run the Book Fair!

If teachers were hard enough, priests are even worse to say no to.  They have this uncanny ability to look out into the pews at service and immediately pick out who they can tap for the next big project.  “Hmmm, need volunteers for the entire summer to dig trenches?  Let’s see…oh, great Kelly Melang is sitting in the back hiding behind a pillar, perfect.”  I try to make it out of service and feel this tap on my shoulder.  I think this is why our priest standing at the back of church shaking hands of everyone leaving, it allows him to hold on and get you to volunteer.  I can’t say no because I picture St. Peter there at the golden gates highlighting my name on his list, “Hmm Melang didn’t want to clean out the bird poo from the rafters of the church, one black mark.”

Then there’s the dreaded brownie/cub scout showing up at your door with the $50 box of popcorn.  I’ve found myself hiding in the house with all the lights off sucking my thumb hoping that I don’t have to mortgage the house for wrapping paper and popcorn.  Or they catch me and I’m wondering why I’ve gained 2 inches on my thighs from the 16 boxes of cookies I consumed.

I am weak, no is a hard word for me to say.  I’ve been employing a new strategy to not over commit myself by using these three steps:

If someone asks me to volunteer, chair, work, watch someone (insert commitment here) here’s how I say no:

“Kelly, can you make 300 cupcakes with all the colors of rainbow and letters of the alphabet on them for the school?”  Here I have a choice, normally I’ll just say yes then spend the next few days complaining as my fingers turn blue from food coloring and my boys go into a sugar coma from licking bowls.  Now I say, “I’m sorry, I can’t really commit to that at this time.”  This is translated into, “I’m trying to say something to get away from you then I’ll hide until the function is over…”  With my luck, they find me hiding in the bathroom stall and next thing I know, I’m in the kitchen.

My second tactial way to say no is, “I’m sorry I can’t do whatever but I can do……”  For example, I’m shaking our rector’s hand and he asks, “Kelly we really need someone to work the diaper changing room this morning.”  Hmmmm, my children are out of diapers and in case no one knows, other children’s poop really does stink.  Now I say, “I can’t do this because I’ll throw up, but I can help push the crying babies up and down the hallway.”   Translation:  Having two small boys means I lost my hearing a long time ago, so pushing crying babies sounds a lot easier to me.

“Kelly, can you commit the next 9 months of your life to running all the fundraising for (insert program here).”  I’ve already committed 9 months of my life twice and believe me I remember the last two months as not much fun.  Rather than saying No, I say, “Let me think about it and get back to you.”  This gives me a chance to think and let everyone tell me that I am crazy for even considering this.  With that chance to breathe, you realize that 9 months is a really long time and just like birth control, you have to say no.  Maybe you’ll get lucky and someone else will step up before you have to make a decision.

How do I limit my schedule when most Moms schedules are jam packed?  I don’t commit to anything unless asked, that way people are coming to me when they really need someone.  We all know those few that setup everything, those completely coordinated, organized, got it together Moms that run the PTA as school.  HIDE FROM THEM!  Whenever they see you, there’s some type of request, even if it’s just licking 600 envelopes for the parish mailing.  I bet you, they are sitting home with eating bon bons- they’ve delegated everything out!

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11. Committed to Success


Now that my Blog Book Tour Challenge has passed, I sat wondering what to do. What did I learn from the experience? What can you learn from my experience?

I learned that I can form solid productive habits. By posting for 31 consecutive days, I now know that I have the commitment to work smart.

When I posted my 31st Blog last night, I called my husband and told him that I was so fired up, that I wanted to keep the momentum going. I immediately blurted out, "I am going to Blog another month!" I meant it. Then I got really carried away and added that, "I am going to add some marketing to this and every day in September I am going to commit to contacting at least FIVE libraries. Then every night I am going to post the name, city, and state of each of those libraries."

So, with that said, here is the list of the libraries I contacted today Via e-mail.

Taylor Public Library – Taylor, TX
Texarkana Public Library – Texarkana, TX
Moore Memorial Public Library – Texas City, TX
South Branch Library – Abilene, TX
Alvarado Public Library – Alvarado, TX
(C) Karen L. Syed

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12. Have You Seen My Destiny?

It's all about you. That's what I said. It's time you took a good hard look inside yourself and rediscover who you are and where you are going. It sounds simple, but I promise this will be the hardest thing you do all week.

When I read LJ Sellers blog today, it kind of got me to thinking. LJ wrote about her lists and how they keep her going. I made a joke about goofing off. And immediately felt a rush of guilt. While I read a series of Blog posts, I could have been stuffing envelopes with flyers announcing new books or old books or any of our books. I should have been formatting short stories that need to be going up for sale.

I concluded that I need to get more organized. I don't really have a master life list or whatever it is called. I do have a daily task list, but some days I forget to look at it. I tend to fly by the seat of my pants.

Where do you want to be in ten years? I gave this a little thought this afternoon, but didn't come up with anything solid. I guess it's time to stop putting it off and get to work. Will destiny wait forever?

I have given myself a goal. By next Friday I am going to post a list of my short, mid, and long-term goals: one year, five years, and ten years.

Getting back to my opening line. Do you have goals? Do you know what you want to be when you grow up? Have you really given serious thought to what you need to do to reach those goals?

I am a firm believer that life is all about the journey, but it never hurts to have a map in the glove box, just in case. Don't let others take control of your life, you're important and no one can get you where you want to go better than you. All you have to do is figure out where you want to be.

Blog Book Tour August Challenge #8
© Karen L. Syed






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13. Greater Lehigh Valley Writers Group (Pt. 2)

Well, two days in a row. Who'da thunk it. I am now back at my desk after an awesome couple of days in Allentown, PA. What a great little town and the folks are nice as can be.

I went to "The Write Stuff" conference and I give it a 10! This is a committed group of writers who know their stuff. I had about 10 editor interviews set with writers and ended up talking to about 22 writers. There were a few I could not help, but it did not lessen my excitement over their enthusiasm for what they are striving to accomplish.

I will say, the professionalism was at a peak as well. The writers were emotionally/mentally prepared for what they had to do (appointments) and they were physically presentable (those who know me know how important presentation is to me) and I can't tell you how much I appreciate that.

I talked with writers about stories, and marketing, and books, and the business and it was wonderfully refreshing. I think the best part of the conference was the level of understanding these writers have for what it is really like in the business. They know it is going to be difficult and they are preparing themselves for the journey instead of looking for shortcuts.

One thing I would like to suggest to anyone out there who is working their way into the business is, take what we (editors and agents) with a grain of salt and analyze it for your own benefit. I said a lot of things on the editor panel on Saturday and not all of it will work for everyone in the room. I am confident that they will use what they can and share the rest with others who might make use of it.

This isn't a surefire industry. Much of the success is based on the mood of the person on the receiving end. What is an editor? A human being with feelings and a life. Editors have bad days and that will ultimately affect the determination of immediate success in any give situation where manuscript submission and consideration is concerned. It's not personal, and if it ends up that way, you don't want to work with that person anyway.

Every step of your journey is based on your own internal desires and needs, so each decision you make must be of your own determination an din your own best interest.

For me, "The Write Stuff" conference was a wonderful stop on my journey to success. I know that as an editor/publisher I am stronger because of the experience and I encourage each of you in the industry to take things kinds of stops in your journey and celebrate the potential success they provide.

Congrats to the Greater Lehigh Valley Writers Group for a job WELL done!

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14. Greater Lehigh Valley Writers: The Write Stuff

Happy Saturday. Well it has been a while since I posted anything in this spot and for that I apologize. Business has been booming and sometimes health/life gets in the way. Without going into details, I have been dealing with some issues that have kept me a bit down, but I find myself at a darn spiffy little conference in Allentown, PA. The GLVW are hosting a great little con that has brought together a pretty darn savvy group of writers.


At last night's welcome reception I had the honor of sitting with a group of writers who were so eager to gather information on being "successful" authors that they seemed to be hanging on my every word. Now this is not meant to be a stroke for my ego, but a public acknowledgment for their commitment. We chatted casually for a brief moment when we all first sat down, and then the grilling began. I only remember some of the names, several others came and went, but Jacquelyn, Mitzi, Patricia, and Mark Twain look-a-like Charles stuck it out for the duration.


The questions they asked were bright, intriguing, and heartwarming for me. These writers wanted to know what THEY could do to increase their chances at success. Not one of them asked what I would do FOR them. I feel bad because I never got around to telling them what I WOULD do for them. They actually sat at this cocktail party taking notes. It was INCREDIBLE. The enthusiasm to gather information was so cool!


More and more I am finding those authors who don't want to be authors, at least not in the professional sense. They simply want to be published. They say they want to make a career of it, yet they never even move toward the second or third books. Being published is great, but unless you have the stamina to go the entire distance, think twice before signing a deal with a publisher, especially a small or Indy publisher. Bottom line: we have limited budgets and when we invest a lot of money in an author who doesn't have long term plans or even short term plans to make a serious effort to sell books, you are cheating the publishing house, it's other authors, and the readers. How do you think a reader feels about you and your publisher when they read a book by you, love it, and then never see another book by you. It's a betrayal of their loyalty to you. Think about that.


Getting back to "The Write Stuff" conference. If last night is any indication, I think today (Saturday) will be well worth the time I spent to get here. The volunteers and coordinators have been wonderful, to the point of getting me a convenient room to accommodate my injured status. They have really gone the extra mile to make me feel welcome and comfortable. A public thanks to them!


So if you are in the PA area and are looking for a group, you might want to check them out. Could be a great step for you and your career as an authors.



The GLVA website is http://www.glvwg.org/

1 Comments on Greater Lehigh Valley Writers: The Write Stuff, last added: 4/28/2007
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15. Fast and Fanciful Fiction Writing Contest

The world is filled with things that have no scientific explanation…magic and other flights of fancy. Echelon Press challenges you to put your best pen forward and send us the most fantastic tale your imagination can muster. From leprechauns to the darkest Black Magic, we want you to give us your best shot! All you have to do is think outside the box and give readers the perfect escape from reality.


Every author at every level should be committed to keeping their name in front of readers. Are you looking for your first publishing credit? Are you between books? Looking for a way to revive characters from books that have been out for a while? Want to introduce new characters for upcoming books? Looking for a way to build your readership? Have we got a promotional opportunity for you!


Echelon Press would like to publish your "Fast and Fanciful" March story. The fast part means you have until March 6, 2007 to submit your story of 3000-6000 words. The winner will be notified by March7, 2007 and have 5 days to edit/revise the story. Echelon Press will publish your story in its e-book division on March 14, 2007. Simple!


Send your submissions as a Word (doc) attachment to contest@echelonpress.com. Your cover letter should be in the body of an e-mail. Cover letters that do not adhere to professional standards will disqualify the submission from further consideration.


Our only real request is that magic and other flights of fancy be the catalyst for your story! You pick the genre. Stories must adhere to the following guidelines.


Standard Manuscript format:
File saved in Word format (.doc) or (.rtf)
8 ½ x 11 page
Times New Roman 12pt font/black
1-inch margin on all sides/ 1.5 line spacing
Align text left, do not justify (aligning text both left and right)
Header containing title, author name, and page number
Capital letters at the beginning of sentences and proper nouns
Show new paragraphs by indenting first line of new paragraph .3. Do not add blank line between paragraphs.
Show scene breaks with * * * * centered in the appropriate line.


All cover letters must include:
Name (and pseudonym if applicable)
Mailing address
Phone number
E-mail address (if available)
Web address (if available)

0 Comments on Fast and Fanciful Fiction Writing Contest as of 3/14/2007 1:54:00 AM
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16. The Page is Your Stage

I spend a couple hours a day surfing the Internet looking for articles, opportunities, and information on the book and publishing industry. I find articles on marketing, promotions, events, etc. It's all great to know and I love the learning, but I can't help but wonder why there aren't more pieces on the actual reason we write for the public.

The industry organizations focus on style, technique, and skill. Those things are crucial to what we do and our potential for success, but recently I have found that there is something dramatically missing from what aspiring authors are being taught. It's about entertainment. That's right, you heard me. We write books to entertain readers. Did you forget that? Our goal should be to make readers feel something…to laugh, to cry, to shiver in eerie expectancy.

I have read several books lately that, while technically sound, they did not even remotely entertain me. The authors' overall performances were stale and one-dimensional.

Look at it from the angle of someone watching a movie. We go to the theater or rent DVD's because we thrive on the multi-dimensional aspects of the film. We cringe at the sound of a bone crunching punch. We sigh in anticipation along with lovers on the brink of embracing passionately. We escape into the action for that amount of time.

It should be the same with books. Readers pick up novels looking for something different, a diversion. Why isn't that as important to writers as it used to be?

Next time you sit down to write, consider this: You are an acting troupe. You are the writer, the director, and the actors. Put yourself into this setting and utilize the skills and demands of each role to increase the impact and presentation of your work.

As the writer, make certain your words are skillfully presented. Hone your grammatical and technical skills to perfection and you will eliminate the potential for distraction.

As the director, consider each and every action and ensure the proper level of reaction. Take extra care to ensure that everything happens for a reason and be the guiding hand in leading your actors through their performances.

As the actors, and this is most important, immerse yourself into each character's role. Be the character as you write. Play the scenes over and over in your mind, rehearsing them until you are living them. Then, and only then will you present your audience with a stellar and Oscar worthy performance.

One thing you must always remember is that you are writing for the reader. They are your audience and if you desire them to offer their loyalty and money to you on future performances, you must always cater to them. For, without readers, you have no job as an author.

5 Comments on The Page is Your Stage, last added: 2/27/2007
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17. Fast and Frisky Fiction Writing Contest

Let's get to the heart of things. With Valentine's Day just around the corner, it's only appropriate to dedicate this edition of the Fast Fiction Writing Contest to all those writers who are passionate about what they do.


For February, we want to experience the ecstasy of relationships through your words. Send us your romantic short...but it's not just about romance. We want frisky romance that's fun and flirtatious!


Every author at every level should be committed to keeping their name in front of readers. Are you between books? Looking for a way to revive characters from books that have been out for a while? Want to introduce new characters for upcoming books? Looking for a way to build your readership? Have we got a promotional opportunity for you!


Echelon Press would like to publish your "Fast and Frisky" February story. The fast part means you have until February 1, 2007 to submit your story of 3000-6000 words. The winner will be notified by February 2, 2007 and have 5 days to edit/revise the story. Echelon Press will publish your story in its e-book division on February 12, 2007. Simple!


Send your submissions as a Word (doc) attachment to contest@echelonpress.com. Your cover letter should be in the body of an e-mail. Cover letters that do not adhere to professional standards will disqualify the submission from further consideration.


Our only real request is that romantic flirtation be the catalyst for your story! Stories must adhere to the following guidelines.


Standard Manuscript format:
File saved in Word format (.doc) or (.rtf)
8 ½ x 11 page
Times New Roman 12pt font/black
1-inch margin on all sides/ 1.5 line spacing
Align text left, do not justify (aligning text both left and right)
Header containing title, author name and page number
Capital letters at the beginning of sentences and proper nouns
Show new paragraphs by indenting first line of new paragraph .3. Do not add blank line between paragraphs.
Show scene breaks with * * * * centered in the appropriate line.

All cover letters must include:
Name (and pseudonym if applicable)
Mailing address
Phone number
E-mail address (if available)
Web address (if available)

1 Comments on Fast and Frisky Fiction Writing Contest, last added: 1/22/2007
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18. Saints and Authors: The Heart of a Winner

Well, the Saints pulled it out. Minimal turnovers, a strong possession game, and holding their own in yardage. Coming back after being one of the worst teams in the league, and the destruction of their beloved city, the New Orleans Saints are on their way to one of the greatest successes a football team can achieve.

It's much the same as being an author. The competition is fierce, and yes, there is competition. You are always working to write the most captivating story. Your marketing must be interesting and informative or it will ultimately lead to a turnover and land the ball in the eager hands of a competing author. Your goal is to gain as much yardage as you can by maintaining possession. Some of those authors have been in the game considerably longer. If you are on your first or second book, consider yourself a rookie. You've only got so long in the game before the clock runs out.

NFL players practice constantly. They train, they study tapes from previous games, and they strategize. Authors need to be working as hard to hone their craft. You can sell a book, but the real test is to be good enough to sell a second book. Will a new reader become a loyal fan? Carefully consider the return on investment you get with every event or appearance you participate in. Did you sell books? Did you network? Did you increase your visibility? ROI isn't just about sales when you are starting a career as an author; it's about becoming a household name with readers and giving them one story after another that holds their attention and leaves them panting for more.

The
New Orleans Saints took a series of extraordinarily bad situations and turned them into the motivation necessary to step up and prove their talent in the face of adversity. What are you capable of? How far are you willing to go and how hard are you willing to work to make it to the top of the best seller list… the Superbowl of authors? There are no field goals in publishing, only touchdowns!

1 Comments on Saints and Authors: The Heart of a Winner, last added: 2/26/2007
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19. Support for the Creative Soul

Do you have a support system? Let's think about this for a minute. Who do you turn to when you hit a creative wall? How many times have you heard that a writer's life is a solitary one? Well, it doesn't have to be. Not everyone is fortunate enough to have a supportive and understanding family. It's not that our families don't love us, or aren't proud of us. More times than not, they simply don't understand the depth of feelings and emotion involved. They mean well, but creativity demands something more.

There might have been a time when an author had to find a small table in a dark corner somewhere and slave over a blank sheet of paper to get the creative juices flowing. That's all well and good if you choose that route.

Consider the benefits of a support system. You get to spend quality time with like-minded people. People who share your love for the written word and are committed to the same long hours and grueling mind games that lead you down the path to writing a book.

Not everyone might agree with me, but I think it is crucial for an author to have an emotional cheering squad. We all have bad days. We all get blocked. We all need someone to listen to us whine when we can't get the scene just right, or when we hit a snag in your plot that changes the entire flow of the story.

If you went out and polled a group of authors, most of them would admit to being insecure to some degree. I am amazed at the number of authors who turn out to be social introverts. It's difficult putting yourself out in front of the world and asking them to view your work. It's like tap dancing in Times Square. I once read an article--many years ago--stating that more than 40% of artists, including writers, exhibit symptoms of clinical depression. Been there, done that. You just have those days.

The best part about a support system is that they understand. You have a built in sounding board for ideas and brainstorming. You can call this anything you want; critique group, support group, whatever. The bottom line is that you have one. Don't sit around feeling sorry for yourself and feeling alone.

Hit the Internet, visit your local library, or bookstore. You don't have to do it alone. And you shouldn't try. Equally important, be there for your fellow writers. Offer support and encouragement, but above all, be proud of what you do and share it with the world. That is the beauty of the written word--the support you might offer a reader in need.

3 Comments on Support for the Creative Soul, last added: 2/21/2007
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20. Writing for the Holidays

It is the day before Christmas Eve and I am pleased to announce the newest addition to Echelon Press (Team Echelon). It is with great pleasure that I congratulate Dan Strohschein as the winner of the Fast & Festive Fiction Writing Contest.

Dan's winning entry was quite the twisted tale of holiday festivities, and I know that you'll love it when you read it. All I can say is, you better be good or you, too, could end up on The Naughty List.

I also want to take this time to thank all of you for making this Blog worthwhile. Without you taking the time to view, read, and comment, I'd just be talking to myself. Not that I am opposed to this, I do it all the time. Well, not all the time, but sometimes. Anyway...

I want to wish each of you the very happiest of ho ho holidays. And for what it's worth, I know that each of you will find great success in the coming year, as you've already made the commitment to learn the industry and hone your skills. I'm very proud of each of you.


Happy Holidays,
Karen Syed

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