10 Minute Writer

Confessions of a Busy Mom Who Became an Independent Novelist

NEW LOCATION!

This blog, www10minutewriter.com is now www.10minutenovelists.com!  Soon we’ll have everything going over there automatically, but in the meantime, please click the link for tips, encouragement and community for the time-crunched writer! Thanks!

 

finding time to write, time-crunched, mom writer

Or you can click this header and go right there!

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Want To Push Yourself As A Writer? Try The #RunWrite5K Challenge!

It was there, on my calendar, a Saturday in October, I would be running my first 5K. I had written in big red letters

5K

But in writing circles a 5K is not a road race. 5K means 5000 words. That’s a lot in one day for anyone to write. I average 1000 fresh words a day and sometimes it’s a challenge to get it in. And because I’m a writer and not a math major, I’m guessing that 5000 words is a whole lot more.

What if these two great tastes tasted great together?

Could I run a 5K and write 5K in the same day?

What a challenge that would be! So I picked a day,  one week before my official road race, and I made it this:

#RunWrite5K Challenge

On October 11-12, 2014 I’m inviting anyone who wants to, to join me in the goal of running (or walking) the equivalent of a 5K and writing at least 5000 words in the same 24 hour period.

This is how you join. Go to this Facebook event and sign up. Then, post your photos, your updates and your progress. We’ll all cheer you on!

How Can I join the #RunWrite5K Challenge

The Rules Are Simple!

We’re all on the honor system here. No one is going to check your work. All you need to do, sometime on the weekend of October 11-12,  is run (or walk) the equivalent of 5 kilometers (or 3 miles). You don’t even have to do this consecutively. Then, within 24 hours of completing that run, you need to put down 5000 new words in whatever work in progress you have going. This could be fiction, non-fiction, blog posts, masters’ thesis, whatever. The point is that we’re doing two hard things in one small time frame. And we’re doing it as a group, which is always more fun!

And Keep Us Posted!

Up until the time of the actual race, you can blog about this, tweet about it (#RunWrite5K), Instagram it, do whatever you want to do. Post on the wall of the event. Ask questions. Write a cheer. List your favorite running music. We want to know about it!

Let’s Go!

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Do-It-Yourself Writers’ Conferences For The Poor And Xenophobic

Another fall has arrived and you will not be going to a writer’s conference.

I’ve been trying to get to the ACFW conference in September every fall for the last five years and I’m not any closer now than I was five years ago.  I did, however, get to go to the marketing seminar hosted by my agent’s firm. While it was cozy and fun and certainly educational, it’s not a BIG CONFERENCE like ACFW or RWA.

Because I can’t go, I can do one of two things. One option is to mope around and feel sorry for myself and decide that watching the new fall television lineup is more important than pursuing my dreams. The other option, and the one that is a lot more entertaining, IMHO, is to create my own conference!

If you do your own conferencing in the privacy of your own home, it’s free and there’s the added bonus of not actually having to talk to people. For us financially strapped xenophobes out there, this is a win-win.

Picture 27

I’ve created a list of some of the hundreds (if not thousands) of free resources for writers online. This is NOT exhaustive. But it will certainly get you started if you can’t afford to go out to learn how to be a great writer. There are blogs, websites, videos, virtual conferences, podcasts and groups you can participate in. And DON’T forget your local library (although you should put clothes on to go there, and you may have to actually speak to someone there.)

Here you go!

Need To Feel Like You Are Actually At A Conference? Colgate Writer’s Conference on YouTube, Or The Muse Online Writer’s Conference  or the WriteOnCon for kidlit writers,

Need To Listen To Celebrity Authors Talk About Writing? Anne Rice on YouTube  Anne Rice on YouTubeSusan Conley at TedTalksRick Riordan,  Need more? Do a search on YouTube for “Authors Talk About Writing” and you will be amazed at what you find.

General Fiction Writing Tips and Strategies? YouTube search: fiction writing.  You will find DOZENS of videos to watch. Watch them all!

Need Ideas For Marketing? Eighty-nine book marketing ideas that will change your life. And Five Easy Ways To Publicize and Promote Your Book

Getting restless? Wanna actually do some writing? Here’s a link to 10 Universities that offer free writing courses! FREE EDUCATION!  All you poor impoverished xenophobes out there don’t even have to get dressed!

Other things you can do?

Listen to podcasts

Sign up for writers groups.

Read everything about writing you can get your hands on at your library

Find a coach or mentor.

Find online resources that are often free.

Read agents’ blogs.

Read editors’ blogs.

Ask authors if you can interview them.

Write!

Where can I attend online conferences?

Yes, I have to stand next to the financially strapped and xenophobic writers this year, but that’s not an excuse for not learning all I can about how to write well. If I can do it, you can too! 

Do you have any other suggestions? What worked for you? What didn’t work? Are you poor or xenophobic or both? 

 

 

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3 Things You’re Telling The World When You Attempt A Hard Sell

Why Is Marketing Such A Dirty Word For Writers?

If you’ve met a writer of nearly any kind of book, you’ve probably met someone who loves the idea of sitting alone at their desk, hiding from the world, creating their lush stories with only their cat for company. You’ve probably met someone who is nervous in crowds, has trouble presenting themselves at all and would absolutely die if they had to “promote” or “market” their stories in any way. It’s bad enough that these poor writers have to leave their laptops and solitary existences and venture out into daylight, but to have them become salesmen? It’s enough to make them want to drown their sorrows in whiskey. Or coffee. Or coffee with whiskey in it.

I Love Writing My Book, I Just Don’t Want To Market It

Unfortunately, if writers are to ever have success in this extremely competitive field, marketing is a necessity. Of those brave writers who actually do step their toe into the shark-infested waters of sales, many of them think that blasting a few hundred tweets will be all they need to make a ton of money. Or maybe they could DM every follower and say, “here’s a free sample” or “please, please, if you don’t read my book, I’ll drink a cup of bleach.”  (That last one actually happened to me. I’m pretty sure the author was bluffing.) Or maybe they’ll just “hang a shingle” by starting a cheap, DYI blog (like this one, ahem, yes, I know I’m due for a makeover) and assume that the internet millions will find them through their “my new website!” tweets. Or maybe they’ll do something less virtual and stick bookmarks in library books, business cards under the windshield wipers of parked cars or sky write the title of their book over a baseball game. (I’ve seen or heard of all these things done. This is where you would see the famous Grubb eyeroll.)  These are all variations of a hard sell. And in the broadest sense, a hard sell means pushing a product to potential customers. For the sake of this blog post, a hard sell means using a “look at me” technique without concern for the customer.

How Do I Market My Self-Published Book?

Everybody and their dog has published a book. So if everyone marketed it this way, we’d just have a bunch of noise.

Marketing Has Changed!If You’re Selling Like Your Grandfather Did At The Appliance Store, You’re Doing It Wrong

The problem I’ve been seeing over the last two years that I’ve been marketing my own book is that few authors know what to do. I’ll admit, I don’t either. Generally speaking, a lot of us think that we should sell our books the way that we saw salesmen work as we were growing up in the ’70s and ’80s. We knew that local used car salesmen were smarmy. We understood that our mothers bought Avon because the neighbor lady wouldn’t leave her alone. We sold items ourselves by marching up and down our block with chocolate bars, calendars, wrapping paper or Girl Scout cookies — knocking on doors and point blank asking, “Would You Like To Buy?”  We know how to hard sell. And it doesn’t work anymore.

How Can I Sell My New Book?

In the book, To Sell Is Human, Author Daniel H. Pink Suggests That The Information Age Requires A New Perspective of Marketing

If we still embrace the old tactics, ones from the used car salesman or the Avon lady or the kid with the Dorothy Hamill haircut, then we’re sending out very negative message to our potential customers. It doesn’t help that what we’re selling is art. It’s not a used car nor cheap perfume in a uniquely shaped bottle or Thin Mints. Art is, arguably, not a necessity. Art has a unique place in the world: to entertain, to edify and to inspire. Good art touches the soul. So why, if we are sellers of art, do we ignore the soul our potential readers? If writers’ only marketing strategy is to lambast the world with “buy this” tweets or auto DMs or any other annoying, repetitive, empty hard sell strategy — one that ignores who their readers are as humans — then they will be disappointed in the results.

Where Can I Learn To Market My Book?

Daniel H. Pink’s To Sell Is Human

Here’s What A Hard Sell Communicates To The World:

You Don’t Respect Other’s Time:  I’m sure that all of the free samples and links that come into my in box mean well. The writers who put them there think that this is a great way to get my attention. But it takes time to open links and read samples, time I have too little of as it is. It would be far more worth my time if this writer took time for me first — get to know me, engage in conversation and me glad I spend a few seconds interacting with another writers. On a side note, I think this is the biggest problem I have with TrueTwit validation services. People who use this are shouting to the world that their protection against spambots is far more valuable than the time of the people who have to “validate.” This does not touch my soul. It’s annoying and disrespectful.

That You Are Flaunting The Power You Think You Have  Daniel H. Pink suggests that in the old economy salesmen were the experts. They knew the ins and outs of the washing machine or the moisturizer. Customers had no choice but to believe their authority. Sellers had all the power. They could flaunt this power and a buyer was willing to be charmed by it. But with the vast information at all of our fingertips, consumers have never been better informed, now the power is balanced. Writers were once an elite group and the world was happy to read anything they published. Now anybody and everybody can publish, so writers, as a group, have far less power and less authority. Buyers now have all the power. Wise writers understand this and change their marketing strategy to reflect it. Wise writers know that humility and transparency allow their humanness to be seen and this will make them more attractive to readers. 

I want to sell my book, but I don't know how.

I just put this in because I liked it.

That You’re Blind To What’s Important In To Sell Is Human Pink mentions that old sales adage “Always Be Closing,” and adage coined for the hard core, pushy shark who wants nothing but a sale at the end. It’s this slimy persona that we’re all trying to avoid, right? Pink suggests that for the 21st Century, marketers rewrite it to Attunement, Buoyancy and Clarity. He explains that Attunement is the ability to empathize with a potential reader, see them as a person, listen to their needs and respond to them in a gentle, human, graceful way. Buoyancy is staying positive through interrogative self-talk, understanding the source of rejection, and embracing the fact that sales is hard, your book isn’t for everyone and someday you will succeed. Buyers are more attracted to positive people. And clarity means asking your potential readers what their inner drives are, asking good questions of the people you want to move and then understanding how you can serve the buyer, not the buyer serve you. Through attunement, buoyancy and clarity, we are touching on the humanity of our readers through conversations. We’re seeing them as real people, not as numbers.  

I’d Like To Suggest That Authors Should Take Their Time To Sell

Read Daniel H. Pink’s book To Sell Is Human. Engage in conversation. Don’t be in a rush to broadcast to the world. Cut out the auto DMs. Rewrite the tweets. BE REAL. 

Next Week? I go into detail about new, more human, and more successful strategies for selling books, engaging people and gaining loyal readers.

Where Can I Find Writers' Groups?

If you want more marketing madness, join our group!

During the week of September 1, 2014, (date and time are yet to be determined) I am hosting a Marketing Seminar Mash-Up Marathon in which I share my notes from a marketing conference hosted by MacGregor Literary.  I heard Agent Chip MacGregor, Amanda Luedeke and super blogger Sheila Gregoire talk about marketing. This seminar will be on the events page of my Facebook group, 10 Minute Novelists. Only members of my group can attend. If you want to join the group, click here. 

 

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Six Reasons Why I’m Pulling A Book Off Amazon’s Shelves (Or How This Little Darling Is Getting Killed With FROZEN References)

This is not a rant about Amazon’s price policies or sales techniques or disputes with other publishers. This is about an ordinary indie author who wonders why her book isn’t selling. 
I’ve decided to remove a self-published book from Amazon, both my Kindle version and my paperback version. The first novel I wrote (and the second one I self-published) appears to be the weak spot in my current vision for my writing career. So I’ve decided that on October 1, I’m going to remove it from Amazon.com’s KDP and Createspace platforms and focus on my romance Falling For Your Madness,  my non-fiction title (to be released in 2015) Write A Novel In Ten Minutes,  and the newest novel, that I want to market the right way,  Soulless Creatures. 
My book doesn't fit my brand

Oh well. Click the image to get the book before October 1.

Here are my reasons why: 
1. I probably made it too autobiographical. During the five years that I was writing it, I was clumsily processing the emotional and verbal abuse of my childhood. The themes of inauthenticity and manipulation cut a little too close to the quick. I think for my own personal healing, I don’t want to go there again, nor do I want my name attached to situations like that.  Putting the past behind me, buried in the snow.
2. I feel like I’m a different person. Without question, I’m a better writer and marketer. When I look back at the book, I see too many ways in which I could make it better if I were to do it over. This is a good thing. But if I have readers who ask me about The Truth About The Sky and my first inner thought is, you’d like the other one better. Then, I need to do something about it. Someday maybe I will.
My book doesn't fit my brand

Oh that’s COLD, ELSA!!!

3. The book opened the doors that it needed to. The Truth About the Sky taught me more about craft and discipline than anything else in my writing career. I’m very grateful for having experienced it. But this one title is not equivalent to my entire career. It’s just one part of the journey. Every other book will have its role to play in shaping my career and I need to hold them all lightly. Falling For Your Madness,  a romance, opened other doors. (You see it coming, don’t you?)
What Do I Do With A Book That Isn't Selling?

If the person you love is the one that pays the utility bills, then close the dang door already.

4. This book weakens my brand. When I talk about The Truth About The Sky,  I call it Jesus-y. It is. It’s about God’s grace and forgiveness. Arguably, everybody needs to hear that message, but my circles of influence are getting broader and more diverse. Jesus-y books won’t necessarily do me any favors among my core target readership. So I need to let it go.
What do I do if my book isn't selling?

Found on UnskinnyBoppy.com

5. When it came to marketing, I didn’t do anything right with this book. Quite frankly, it’s hard to get excited about marketing it when I have other, newer, potentially more successful books right on my plate. Maybe I need to remove it so when I see it, I don’t see the world failure.
I think I marketed my book wrong.

Oh, the fails. Oh, the freaking fails!

6. Because I didn’t market it right, it’s not selling. The Truth About the Sky  has sold less than a third of the copies that Falling For Your Madness did. FFYM continues to sell, TTATS has stagnated. If I were a publisher, I’d fire this author. It’s nothing personal, just business.
This is about me, my branding, my vision for my future and what’s best for the long run. 
I’m an indie author. I have all the control here. I might change my mind and re-release it, market it the right way and be happier. 
What do I do if one of my books doesn't match my brand?

See? It all works out for the best, even if your sister has a little moment as an isolated depressive with rage issues.

 

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Top Ten Things Writers Do Wrong On Twitter, What These Mistakes Tell The World & How To Make Them Right

 You’ve written a book! You’ve followed all the great advice! You’ve got your Facebook page and your blog set up and your Twitter account is up and running! You’re doing everything right, or at least you think you are.  The Facebook likes are trickling in, you get a few hits on your blog and then there’s Twitter. You have few followers. You have few RTs. You aren’t making a lot of sales. No one has seen your awesomeness.  Ever thought about why?

You COULD be making some serious mistakes that are pushing people away. I know, it’s hard to believe, especially since it seems like so many writers are out there. They do these same things, don’t they? Doesn’t it work for them?

The truth is, it doesn’t. Many writers unknowingly push readers away.

Here are ten common mistakes I see on a daily basis, what these mistakes really say to the world and what you should do about them.

Top 10 Things Writers Do Wrong On

His name is Tom. My daughter said so.

1. Have a boring bio.  What does this tell the world? “I wrote a BOOK! But there’s not much more to me than that!” If your bio has nothing but the title of your book, or the publisher or the release date or the name of your awards, you’re boring us to tears. Your bio is not your resume, it’s your handshake and smile to the world. Instead make your bio approachable. Use nouns that describe your whole life, not just your writing life, put in something that sparks readers’ curiosity about who you are. What will an interesting, human and approachable bio tell the world? That you’re an interesting and approachable human and you’re worth following. 

2. Plug your book ad nauseum. What does this tell the world? “I know how to schedule tweets!!!”  Instead, tweet about what interests you, ask questions of others, and crack a joke or two. Develop relationships. As people learn to love you, then they’ll buy your book. Is this the hard and slow way? Of course it is, but if you do it right, you’ll have a reader for life. What will authentic interaction tell the world? That you’re an interesting and approachable human and you’re worth following. 

 

BUY MY BOOK!

 

3. Make no effort to follow other people who share your interests. What does this tell the world? “I’m looking for customers!” Instead, follow real people who have similar passions. Me? I like homeschooling mothers of five, writers, readers, people who say something funny in their bios and former running cowards. It’s from this group that you will start your conversations, make friends and perhaps gain long term readers!  What will these followers think about you? That you’re an interesting and approachable human and you’re worth . . . wait a minute! Do you see a pattern here? 

5. Don’t make lists. Okay, so the world doesn’t know or care that you don’t make lists to keep you followers organized. But you should. By the time your followers are in the thousands, you should at least have a few dozen folks that you like to check regularly. If you have to go through your feed just to find the photo they took of their dinner then you’re doing it wrong. Create lists: some for the BFFs, some for agents & publishers, some for those celebrities you love, and some for people who make you laugh. Then, check out other people’s lists and follow the folks on it. Lists can be very specialized and if you dig around, you can find a whole crop of people who share interests with you. 

 

Sad Baby Monday

6. Don’t participate in chats or memes. The world also  ambivalent about your chat and meme activity too. But what I’ve found is that both are great ways to meet people. I’ve gained followers, and more importantly, started conversations, with new people because of my engagement in chats and memes. My favorites? #MondayBlogs meme and #10MinNovelists chat on Thursday nights at 9PMEDT. The purpose of social media is to be social!  Chats and memes are easy fun ways to do that. 

 

7. Don’t use apps other than Twitter. How does the world feel about this?

Screen Shot 2014-08-16 at 6.33.52 AM

Tweetdeck and Hootsuite are superior than Twitter when it comes to scheduling tweets, organizing lists and following memes and chats. If you’re going to get serious about your Twitter usage, then you need to play with the same toys the social media experts use. 

8. Forget to proofread. What does this say to the world? You have got to be kidding me.  Look everybody can have a goof now and then. But if you have consistently bad spelling and grammar, no one will take you seriously. This is especially important in your bio. This is triply important if you call yourself a writer. Or, as I actually saw someone put in their bio,  “I’m a writter of romance.” Just do a quick read before you hit send. You never know who –such as editors, publishers, and agents — is reading your tweets. 

9. Send auto DMs. What does the world think about this? I’ve asked all seven billion people on this planet personally and this is what they think: “Auto DMs are a scourge from the mouth of hell. Anyone who thinks auto DMs are a good idea should have their little toenails ripped off. Auto DMs make you look spammy, needy, and robotic, even cute auto DMs.  Auto DMs should only be limited to needy robots who eat SPAM. DON’T SEND THEM!” So, what I’m trying to say is that they are ineffective and annoying. I never, ever read my auto DMs. If I didn’t have so much to do, I’d unfollow everyone who sent me one. 

OMG (1)

Sometimes a double facepalm can’t completely describe the amount of fail. The irony of this? There’s a misspelled word! (Found it in the bowels of the internet.)

10. Use True Twit Validation services. What does this say to the world? “I think I’m so awesome that I want to inconvenience you with another step to take to find out how awesome I am!” Listen, we’re all going to get spammers and weirdos. These services just make people roll their eyes. I really, really think it’s the social media equivalent of offering to shake my hand and then insisting that I put rubber gloves on first. NO. Just remove this nonsense please and be real? Is that too much to ask? 

These are the top ten mistakes I see writers on Twitter commit over and over again.

What mistakes have you seen writers make? What do you think of them?

 

 

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Top Ten Things You Could Be Saying To Yourself That Will Guarantee Your Failure As A Writer

There’s this Facebook friend of mine who uses her status updates as a chance to bash herself. It isn’t pretty.

She writes, “Hey Darla, way to go there, eating that whole box of donuts. You are SO self-controlled!” Or, “Hey Darla, I just LOVE the way you kept your cool in traffic yesterday.” Or, “Hey Darla, you should be SO PROUD of yourself for the way you ignored your kids yesterday.”

This really bothers me. It bothers me because I don’t think it’s really a good thing to post on Facebook. I don’t think that it’s funny at all. And it reminds me of the way that I used to talk to myself too.

The next time she does this, I’m going to say, “Hey Darla, this negative self talk has to stop. It’s not helping. Start saying positive things instead! We’ll ALL like that better.”

The most powerful voice in the world is the one that you use to talk to yourself.

Top 10 Things You're Saying To Yourself

What we say to ourselves can keep us motivated and help us succeed or it can destroy all hope and make us miserable.

I spend DECADES of my life saying negative things to myself.

Slowly, I’m addressing them one by one, changing what I say and taking positive steps (like NOT buying a box of donuts to eat in one sitting) to make my life better and my soul happier.

Below I have a list of the top ten things wannabe writers say to themselves that keep them stuck in failure. It took me about 20 seconds to come up with ten, because I’ve said every single one of these to myself. I know how powerful these lies are.

If you are saying any of these things to yourself, then you will, most certainly fail. The reason? This negative self talk is a paralyzer. It fosters inaction.

The antidote is two fold: say positive things and take baby steps out.

1. I’m So Disorganized.

Okay, this could be true. You maybe disorganized because you lack focus, or management skills or a plan. But all of those things are tools.  Successful people have learned how to use these tools that they can stay organized. This is the secret that super organized people know — organization does just happen, it’s daily work! If your house, office, desk, ideas or life is super disorganized, find the tools the experts use and make them work for you!

What to say to yourself instead: Today I’m taking 10 minutes to get more organized. I’m starting small. Something is better than nothing. Go me!

 What to do: Take 10 minutes, start with Pinterest and search for specific links, then create an organization board. Don’t get distracted. This is your starting place for the actual work. Or, take 10 minutes to make a list of the specific areas you want order in. Then, commit to ten minutes a day working on this area. You’ll see progress. You’ll find order. Try also Flylady.com (my personal favorite).

Screen Shot 2014-08-02 at 2.09.45 PM

2. I’m Not Any Good.

This could be true. You may not be a good writer. How do you get better? With practice. Writing is a skill and the most talented writers in the world still have to practice! They did not just spring up out of the ground as NYT bestsellers. They worked on their craft over and over until they grew in skill and confidence. Learn all you can about the craft of writing. Be teachable. Find a mentor. Take a class. And write every day!

What to say to yourself instead: Everybody has to work hard. I’m no different.

What to do: Take 10 minutes and write. Don’t evaluate it or edit it. You just practiced! Then take another 10 minutes and request writing books from your local library’s website, or search Goodreads for the best books and buy them, or go to Writer’s Digest website and spend ten minutes reading. You can learn to be a better writer on ten minutes a day.

3. What If Someone Doesn’t Like It? 

Someone is not going to like it. This is a fact of life in the world of artists. If you choose to be an artist, then you’re choosing to have a bad review occasionally, you’ll receive a rejection letter or two and your skin will have to toughen up. But somewhere, someone will like it. This is your first fan. If you don’t write, you’ll never find them. It is for this reader (and all their Facebook friends, Twitter followers and Google+ people) that you write what you write.

What to say to say to yourself instead: What if someone does like it? That will be awesome!

What to do: Read all the one-star reviews of your favorite books on Amazon.com. Some of them are horrible, aren’t they? Notice how this negativity keeps these authors down. (Hint: it doesn’t!)

Screen Shot 2014-08-02 at 2.11.41 PM

4. I Don’t Have Time.

You’ll pardon me if I roll my eyes on this one. For nearly every other item on this list, I have great compassion, but I don’t for this one. The truth is you have time for everything you want to do. All you need to accomplish your writing goals is a minimum of ten minutes a day. I know that this is true because between my five children, my homeschooling responsibilities and my homemade bread baking, I found time to pursue my dreams in ten minute increments.  It took me five years to write my first book, but I did it. I examined my carefully to find the time, made the time and then worked all the time!

What to say to yourself instead: I can find the time!

What to do: Spend ten minutes looking at your schedule on a daily and weekly basis. Where is there lolly-gagging time that can be devoted to writing? Where are you waiting for your kids? What Netflix show can you forfeit for the sake of writing? I bet you can find a lot more than ten minutes a day.

5. I Don’t Have What I Need.

This excuse is an easy fix. If you are reading this, you’re on a computer or a smart phone. That means you have what you need. Don’t have word processing software? Put your work on Google.docs. Do a search for all the great writing apps for smart phones. Or go low-tech and buy a spiral notebook and a pen. You can get what you need to be a writer very easily. Don’t let this small problem keep you from pursuing your dreams.

What to say to yourself instead: Wow! That was easy!

What to do: Spend ten minutes finding a place at home that will be your workspace — it doesn’t have to be big or glamorous. (I spend years standing at my kitchen counter on an iMac.) Then set up a document, create orderly files, put that journal in your handbag, get a great pen. You can do this!

6. I’ve Failed Before.

We’ve all failed. The first time you tried to walk, you fell. The first time you tried to eat solid food you spit it out. The first time you tried to read, you got it wrong. I can GUARANTEE that there are grammar and spelling mistakes in this blog post. Failure is a part of life. I’m not a psychotherapist, but I’m going to guess that it’s not the failure that’s the problem here, but the feeling of worthlessness that plays piggyback on that failure. This took me a long time to realize but the truth is, failure doesn’t define me.  I am so much more than my series of mistakes. I’m going to fail in the future, that’s a given. But I’m not going to let it keep me down.

What to say to yourself instead: I’m going to fail in big and small ways, but so what?

What to do: Read this. I am especially impressed with the fact that Oprah was fired because she was too emotionally involved in the story she reported.

7. I’m Not As Good As Them So Why Try?

Trying really hard not to eyeroll here, bear with me. Of all the excuses on this list, this one is the most cowardly. It’s bad enough that you have no confidence in your God-given skills and abilities, but then you take what you perceive as your weakness and compare it someone else’s strength and naturally come out lacking. It’s a double whammy against who you are and what you were created to be. You are never going to be as good as anybody. Do you know why? BECAUSE YOU ARE YOU! If you have artistic inclinations, then you have a distinct point of view, a unique voice, a perspective that no one else has ever had (you’ll still have to work hard to make it shine, but still). The world needs you!

If you really, really want to believe that the success of other people is the reason to hide your talent under a bushel, then you should be ashamed of yourself. I want this post to be encouraging and hopeful but I’m half-tempted to tell people who actually believe this crap to stay on the couch, stay in front of Netflix, do nothing. Please. I want your future readers for myself.

What to say to yourself instead: Dangit! I have something to offer!

What to do: Put some blinders on. And for the love of Pete, stop comparing yourself to others.

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8. I’m Too Old To Try Anything New.

This one is breaking my crap-o-meter. You are NOT too old. Life is going to pass you by if you don’t pursue your dreams now. You don’t want to come to the end of it and wish you’d take ten minutes every day.

What to say to yourself instead: My kids (and grandkids) need to see me pursue my dreams!

What to do: Read this Huffington Post article about writers who got published later in life. One woman was 99!

9. There’s too much to learn, so it’s too hard.

When it comes to writing and marketing and publishing there is a LOT to learn. The bad news is that there’s always an new app or a new social media platform or a new guru to read.  The wealth of information is intimidating and overwhelming. Instead of thinking about how hard it is, choose the easiest thing or most interesting aspect of writing/marketing pursuit and only do that. The good news? Nobody knows and implements it all. The most successful people have put limitations on themselves so that they keep the ever growing information monster at bay. You can do that too.

What to say to yourself instead: My time is valuable. I’m going to focus on one aspect of my goals, like writing, and learn a little bit every day. 

What to do: Find one or two blogs on writing to follow. Read one book at a time. Don’t panic over what is left, just do what you can when you can.

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10. I Don’t Have Anything Worthwhile To Say

Deep sigh. Then a hug. Then another sigh. I totally get this. Sometimes the desires that we have to write are lonely. They don’t exactly have ideas to play with. Personally, I’ve found that ideas, for some reason, inspire other ideas. The act of creating sometimes can spawn new inspiration and then you have something to say, something you didn’t know was in you.

What to say to yourself instead: Hey Muse! I’m going to sit down to work, you’re going to join me!

What to do: Write for 10 minutes about anything. Sign up for Sarah Selecky’s daily writing prompts. Then, watch this Ted Talk about the creative muse by Elizabeth Gilbert (this is my all time favorite Ted Talk. It makes me cry every time!)

So, what else are you saying to yourself that could be keeping you down? What can you say to yourself instead? What can you do to change everything?

 

 

 

 

 

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Mothering And Fathering Yourself As A Writer

I posted this two years ago. In that two years, I’ve had more success in my writing career than I ever would have thought possible. Regardless of that success, I still need balance. Hope you like this. 

 

Was it Stephen King? Or Anne Lamott? Or Julia Cameron? I don’t remember, all I remember is that it was suggested to me by some writing guru, that we should both mother and father ourselves as writers.

As I’ve ruminated over that concept in my mind, I envision part of me treating my writing like Phil Dunphy, when it should have been kicked around by Claire. Or  maybe my writing has had far more attention from Homer and and not enough Marge. (Or maybe I’m spending too much time with my television, which clearly means I need more discipline.)

We need to balance the way that we treat ourselves. We should be equally disciplined (like a father — in general terms) and nurturing (generally like most mothers in a traditional sense — please, I don’t need to have any I AM WOMAN HEAR ME ROAR comments . . .), so that we are comfortable writing, but not so comfortable that we forget our obligations to our art. Too much discipline and order and we get stressed out. Too much coddling and comforting and we get soft and lazy.

Go with me, if you will, into my mind, where the nurturing, soft, feminine side goes toe-to-toe with the task-oriented, masculine side. Which side will win? (And when do I start my counseling?)

Mother:  Aww, you’ve written two hundred words today!  You are so amazing! Have a cookie!

Father: Two hundred words? Come on, you can do more than that! You did 2K a day last November!

Mother: Of course the agents you query will love you. Just do your best. What else can you do?

Father: So what if you get a rejection. Buck up! Try harder! Rewrite that query!

Mother: It isn’t about earning money, dear, it’s about sharing your talent with the world.

Father: Why would you work this hard on something and not want cash?

Mother: Write from your heart!

Father: Write for the market!

Mother: If you get an agent and a publisher, then you’ll have credibility and people behind you, and your books will be everywhere. I can tell my bridge club to buy your book on Amazon!

Father: If you self-publish and get your own books, you’ll have control and more profit and your books will be accessible. I can tell my golfing buddies to buy a copy out of the trunk of my car!

Mother: Social media is not about fame, it’s about relationships.

Father: Social media is about sales, and avoiding those awkward phone calls when I don’t know what to say.

Mother: Nanowrimo is fine, dear. I can do all of your Christmas shopping for you. Just don’t expect me to understand when you leave the Thanksgiving table to get in your word count.

Father: Nanowrimo? If you can write a book in a month, why aren’t you writing twelve a year? You could be rich!

Mother: I loved your book!  It was perfect!

Father: Which of the characters was me?

Mother: So, when you say you’re blogging, isn’t that the same as Facebook?

Father: How about those Red Sox?

So, what do you think? Do you overly mother yourself or overly father yourself? Or are you balanced? Are there any mother/father discussions about writing I’ve forgotten?

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100 Things I Can’t Do, By Katharine Grubb

It’s time for you to judge me!

Naw, not really. But it is time for me to reveal to you some weaknesses and faults. There’s more where this came from. Here’s #101: I can’t get too much more personal without a box of tissues. 

Enjoy!

 

1. Eat popcorn without regretting it.

2. Put something away properly unless I’ve moved it around, stepped over it or stared at it for 4.5 days.

3. Say the “F” word.

4. Drink Diet Pepsi without gagging.

5. Watch my husband’s favorite movie “Wings of Desire” without falling asleep.

6.  Sleep on my stomach.

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7. Whistle.

8. Play any musical instrument with skill.

9. Stop picking my cuticles.

10. Find my Mary Kay moisturizer (I think I left it the hotel last weekend).

11. Tolerate small talk for longer than five minutes.

12. Look at my children without smiling

13. Follow technical directions without a picture.

14. Watch local or national news without feeling nauseous.

15. Endure animals of any kind.

16. Properly take care of plants.

17. Get excited about Google+

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18. See without my glasses.

19. Completely trust others.

20. Give advice without sounding a little judgemental.

21. Take correction without getting just a teensy bit defensive.

22. Ski.

23. Run. Yet. The ankle that I broke last March is still really sore.

24. Figure out an efficient system for keeping track of socks for seven people.

25. Tolerate people who have narcissistic tendencies.

26. Get excited about science projects in my home school.

27. Keep calm when I see a mouse in my house.

28. Remember much about my babies except how tired I was.

29. Express myself on holidays that require an emotional response, such as Thanksgiving or Memorial Day because emotional manipulation is a trigger for my PTSD.

30. Help feeling a little sorry for myself after reading this list.

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31. Say the phrase, “You go, girl!”

32. Listen to pop music for even a second.

33. Get excited about “what dog I am” quiz on Facebook.

34. Imagine life without Costco.

35. Picture my husband with hair.

36. Ever get a tattoo. I know it’s trendy. I know I probably have a high tolerance for pain after five kids, but I think I would keep wanting to wash it off.

37. Wear pierced earrings for longer than a day without my ears getting itchy.

38. Visit my hometown without having an anxiety attack.

39. Drop my r’s like a Massachusetts native. “Mahc, pahk the cah!”

40. Find southern country sausage in local grocery stores.

41. Use an electric pencil sharpener without it eating my pencils.

42. Give up my Burberry handbag I found at a thrift store for $10. It looks more winter than spring, but it’s big and classy and I love it.

43. Balance a checkbook.

44. Keep from wearing my heart on my sleeve.

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45. Remember to wash my kids’ faces before we leave the house.

46. Hold my alcohol.  I’m good for two drinks.  Then I get really sleepy.

47. Eat hot dogs.  They make my stomach hurt. (30 fat grams each! No loss there!)

48. Eat bologna. Same reason.

49. Get excited about smoothies.

50. Tolerate artificial sweetener.

51. Watch “Frozen” again.

52. See myself without a specific faith.

53. Believe how enjoyable my children are.

54. Believe that my oldest kid may be taking college courses next year as a high school junior.

55. Make pizza from scratch without questioning if it is really worth all the trouble.

56. Look at all of my millions of freckles without suspicion.

57. Bear the thought of sending my kids to school.

58. Tolerate over-attachment to stuff.

59. Scrapbook.  I have photos in chronological order.  That’s the best I can do.

60. Read Better Homes and Gardens without intense skepticism. Particularly the articles about parenting!

61. Watch violent acts on television or in movies.

62. Look at the last 400 pages of Les Miserables as my cure for insomnia. Hm, maybe I can?

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63. Swim well.

64. Feign interest in Harry Potter.

65. Enjoy myself fully in a crowd of more than four or five people.

66. Get to 2048. I got as far as 1024 a few times though.

67.  Get all of the jokes or references regarding the Boston Red Sox that are mentioned at my church events.

68. Find a working ink pen in this house.

69. Hike for a while because of my ankle history.

70. Seem to get through a Sunday at church without someone sticking their stuff in my bag. “I’m not your locker, people!”

71. Enjoy orange soda and hamburger relish.  Separately. And together.

72. Go anywhere without a notebook and a writing utensil.

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73. Run my household without the help of my children.

74. Find matching comforters for my boys’ beds that I like.

75. Use my wedding china.  It’s been in storage for seven years.

76. Sew.

77. Seem to acquire enough shoes.

79. Go to my local thrift store without buying something pink.

80. Have a Martha Stewart Christmas — even though my intentions are good.

81. Stand Whoopi Goldberg

82. Send or keep Christmas cards.

83. Think about flying without getting a little anxious.

84. Enjoy a church service when my children are touching, grabbing or holding me.

85. Help but stick my nose in my daughter’s script-writing projects for her puppet shows.

86. Homeschool without the internet.

87. Identify any birds by their songs.

88. Buy my children socks and underwear for Christmas.

89. Wear anything with writing on it.

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90. Actually type in ‘LOL’ or ‘ROFL’.

91. Tolerate the flavor of children’s toothpaste.

92. Work in my kitchen without wearing an apron.

93. Find my children’s birth certificates.

94. Help but suspect that all of my friendships are hanging by a thread and one careless word from me will destroy them forever.

95. Find any peace in that last statement.

96. Give myself a pedicure.

97. Afford a professional one.

98. Believe all of the nice people I’ve met through this blog. I am blessed!

99. Have sandwiches for lunch. We’re out of bread.

100. Touch my dining room table, my boy’s hands or handles on my kitchen cabinets without feeling a mysterious stickiness.

There’s a lot more. But I’m going to stop at 100. What can’t you do? 

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Top Twelve Reasons Why My Romantic Comedy Is Better Than A Latte

Oh, coffee! We love you! We love your dark, rich yumminess! We love your gentle ritual every morning. We love that you are a sensory delight. But do you know what we love even more?

Good books!

Today I’d like to argue that my romantic comedy is better than coffee. Specifically a latte.

 

Wait a minute . . . . THIS isn’t a latte! You’re right! It isn’t! I spent my hard-earned money on the copy of a great book and made my coffee at home! (You should too!)

1. I am an independent publisher. By buying my book instead of that latte, you’re supporting small business, encouraging local growth and supporting the arts. If you buy a cup of coffee, you’re lining the pockets of corporate America. Vote with your conscience, people!

2. I had a reader keep track of all the smiles, guffaws, LOLs and giggles she got from my book. She stopped counting so she could enjoy the story. Has your coffee ever made you laugh? I think not. Unless it was made by a clown.

3. Coffee does wake you up and satisfies you for a short time. Yet a book entertains you for hours and when you’re done, you don’t have to go to the bathroom.

4. No delicate rain forest was harmed in the creation of my e-book. I didn’t even go near a rain forest. I didn’t even think about rain forests. E-books are environmentally friendly.

5. My book asks the question: Who has the most power in a relationship? The lady? Or the gentleman? My last latte asked me no questions at all, but I think it did look at me a little funny.

6. When you’re done with coffee, what do you have to show for it? An empty cup. It is so sad. What do you have when you finish reading my story? A happy ending! And then perhaps sadness because it’s over. And then maybe happiness because you can read it again.

7. My book has poetry in it. Mostly Tennyson. A little Frost. I highly doubt your coffee is so well-read.

8. You can read my book on your iPad or other reader. There are few places in this world that you can’t take your device. Coffee on the other hand?  Can’t even take it through airport security. Or the library.

9. You can’t spill my book on your lap and sue me because it’s too hot. I’ve written and rewritten those love scenes. If anything, it’s not hot enough.

10. You rarely hear a barista say: “Making a good cup of joe has been my life long dream.” Whereas, the publication of this book has not only been a dream come true for me, but it’s opened up door after door for me as a writer. You’re not just reading a book. You’re reading my destiny! 

11. Lattes are Americanized versions of an Italian drink. My book is written by an Americanized descendant of Scotch-Irish dirt farmers and misplaced Cherokee Indians. My people have suffered more.

12. Books are cheaper than coffee. For the price of a designer drink at Starbucks you can buy books from independent publishers from all over the Internet. So, put down your latte and support your local indepedent writer today!

If you do buy my book, please leave an honest review here. I’d appreciate it.

 

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