Sunday, March 24, 2013

Was I crazy before? Just wait to read today's ending.

Reading – I am still reading the same three – well, I guess, four – books. None of them have really sucked me in, so that is why I am vacillating between them. I take that back. “His Grace is Sufficient” is excellent and I love it, but it is a devotional, so it seems like cheating to read more than one day at a time.

Oh, yes, and I have even started another book. “Ordinary People in God’s Hand: A Tribute to God by TEAM Zimbabwe Missionaries”. The first three chapters were so boring that I skimmed them (my apologies to the woman who loaned me the book, knowing the passion I have for missionary work in Africa). But now that the people are actually in Zimbabwe, starting to work, instead of just thinking about it and talking about, I hope that it gets more interesting.

I think my reading goal this week needs to be to finish one of these five books. Just sit down and read the whole thing in one sitting.

Writing – Yeah! I worked on my novel this week. I wrote 1108 words and finished chapter 29. I keep thinking about going back and making changes – I’ve decided that in one place it is just not going to work for the story to head in that direction. But I’m going to force myself to make due, bring the story back to where it needs to be, tell my characters to stop thinking they can run the show, and worry about going back and making changes later.

Reaching - I am still feeling the effects of my spot on the local news earlier this week. People sitting in the waiting room where I work have been greeting me from across the room all week with, “there’s the author”. Good thing I’m not embarrassed easily by stuff like that. I just nod and curtsy. I wish I could sell them all my book on the spot when that happens but my employer would greatly frown on that. I have slipped a few of these people my card though.  

Readying – Getting ready for my trip back to Africa really is my top priority goal. Friday I met with my daughter to figure out a few of the logistics, I can’t believe I am leaving our itinerary up to her.

Also we have run into a snag regarding the typhoid vaccine we both need. I think we have resigned ourselves to the fact that we will need to take the vaccine orally, which is four pills, taking one every other day, they need to stay refrigerated, you need to take it an hour before eating, and that all sounds so much more of a pain than one little shot in the arm.

I have also started asking for donated supplies to take with. Two of the people we will be visiting have very specific lists of things they need, so I will be working on that. I am sure that people I know will step forward and fulfill these wish lists.

One last thing. And this is truly crazy on my part. A co-worker has asked me to run a 5K with her the first part of June. I have never run more than a few hundred yards at one time in my entire life. I keep telling myself that it is only three miles. That seems so short when you are driving in the car! So, on top of everything else, I have started running, now that the weather is hovering around freezing and there are a few bare patches of pavement on my road. I am up to three-tenths of a mile. I know, can you say, “out of shape!”
This picture was taken exacty one year and one week ago. It is my road at the end of  my driveway. It doesn't look like that today. The snow banks are three feet high and only patches of the pavement are bare. 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Where am I going? Crazy? Too late!

So, I’ve decided that I cannot wait until a new round of ROW80 to set forth on my new and super-simple goals. You’ll see why by the time you reach the end of this post and discover that I have added a forth R to my reading, writing, reaching program for the next six weeks.

Reading – So what am I reading? Too much as usual. This is yet another thing I need to take care of – read one book at a time! No, probably not going to happen.

Right now I am reading “Reclaiming Lily” by Patti Lacy. That is my current fiction offering. “The Repurposed and Upcycled Life” by Michelle Rayburn would be the nonfiction book on my night stand. Each night I also try to read from my current devotion, “His Grace Is Sufficient But Decaf Is Not”. And lastly I am still trying to get through “The Story” version of the Bible. I really need to finish it and get on a regular Bible-reading schedule again.

Writing – Looking at the calendar it has indeed been a week since I have written on my novel. Nuts, and I had such a good start on getting back at it. I still blogged, but I think that was about all the creative writing I have done.

Reaching – Once again, I think that this goal wins the prize. This week I really did not even try to market my book. I have other things going on! I told you last time that my friend from Minnesota hooked me up with a book festival in Minnesota. So I signed up for that and the woman emailed me back to say, “great and if you give presentations I will try to set something up for you that weekend too.” I said, “that would be fantastic!” So we will see what happens.

Earlier in the week, though, I came home from work to two voice mails from people frantically telling me to turn on Channel 12, that I was on the news. Well, the news was over with for two hours by then. But I tracked it down on the internet  the next morning, and sure enough there was the rest of the interview which I had done at the TV station three weeks ago. Yet another 90 seconds of fame.

Readying – Ok, new goal and big announcement. I am going back to Africa. Yes, it is true. My daughter finally talked me into joining her when she returns to Kenya this spring. She is going to be gone for three months this time, spending most of the time trying to figure out how she can do what she loves – live in Kenya at least most of the time. I, however, live in the real world, the world of bills and commitments, the world I have told my daughter to never get involved in. “Don’t let anything tie you down,” I have preached to her. I know, probably not the best motherly advice you have heard, but that is who I am and who she is.

Anyway, we leave on May 5, and then I will come home alone (sniffle) two weeks later. Which means that between now and then I have a list of things to get done.

I am sure you will stay tuned and will be anxiously waiting to read more about it next time!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Goals? What goals?

Even though I really have not been working on these goals at all, it is still good to drag them out once a week. Not so I can say - "You failure!" but so that I can say, we will try again next week. It also helps me to remember where I want to end up. 

Daily goals –
1-                           write for an hour a day, this could be working on my book, writing articles, short stories or poetry, or writing extra blogs (my assigned posts don’t count) – I actually finished chapter 28 on my novel and have 1500 words on chapter 29, so I am pretty pleased with that. I also wrote down a very rough outline of what else is going to happen.
2-                           market my book or other current project for one hour a day, this could include researching markets for my articles, devotions, or other writing to various markets, as well as keeping my nose to the grindstone of getting my book sold – You got me. Anything in particular that I can remember doing out of the ordinary? Oh, a friend emailed me about a book festival near her town in Minnesota, so I called and emailed the contact person, but haven't heard back yet. My friend's contact with this festival told her that they still have room available, so I might just mail in my registration on Monday and see what develops. 
3-                           comment on one other blog – I am clueless. I didn't comment on too many other blogs, but I know I did a few. 

Weekly goals –
1-     post to Dino Chronicles three times a week – Yes, even though I was braindead on Thursday, but I did write one on Friday. 
2-     post to Writing What I Can When I Can twice a week – Yes 
3-     work on my social networks, by adding to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Goodreads and Pinterest each once a week – Umm, I don't think I did this. 

Monthly goals-
1-     Do research on my novel – No, but the month is only half over.
2-     Submit something somewhere – I submitted a poem to my friend's monthly poetry challenge. 

Year-end goal-
          Finish my novel – Sure - I mean, not. 

And that's about it for now. Until next time . . . 
Goals? I don't know anything about goals. Just let me out of here!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Reading, Writing, Reaching, Part 4

So here is the final post on my short series of "Reading, Writing, Reaching". Today I am going to reach all those potential readers, basically I'm going to reach for the stars. Shouldn't we all?


When I first signed the contract with my publisher, Life SentencePublishing, they sent me the book "Sell More Books" by J. Steve Miller and Cherie Miller. I think that this book should be everyone's Bible when it comes to publishing, promoting and selling your book. The suggestions made in this book can be overwhelming at times - there are so many things we can do to promote our books - but the author does keep saying, "pick three or four of these things, things you feel you can do well, and put your effort there. No author can do everything there is out there to do to promote their book". Or something like that.

What are some of these wonderful things? The one big thing we have all been hearing about until we are probably nauseated is that we have to build our social network. I've blogged about this before, asking how big our network should be, how many different social networks do we need to be involved with, what are good numbers when it comes to followers? This alone seems overwhelming to me.

So I check my social networks nightly, post something about my book on each of them maybe once a week, ask others to follow me about once a week, and post my blogs there. I think that that is enough. Any more time on the social networks and my husband would call social services on me, claiming that I never shower or eat. And forget about house work. Whoever has time for that?

I think that social networks are what they are. A great tool to connect with others, but there is no reason to spend all of your time working on them.

Get an interview with your local newspaper and your local TV station. (Check, and check, I have achieved these). Get some local speaking engagements, talk to a few local businesses about doing book signings. And here's one which I don't remember seeing in "Sell More Books". If you work a full time job for a company of any size, they probably have a newsletter or a web presence. They will usually let you advertise there for free. I posted an ad for my book on the free classified ads on my employer’s website. Sure, only other employees have access to this, but we have people working in a two state region. And plus it is free! (Do any advertising which is free; what is it going to hurt?)

Another free and simple thing to do is to put a tag on the bottom of your personal email, mentioning your book and where it can be purchased. So initially this will only reach people you know who probably know about the book already. But you never know who will forward on your emails and there you are – out in the world.

Some ways of promoting I just don't have a handle on, such as getting others to write reviews of your book on their blogs or websites. I've asked a few bloggers I know to do this, and I trust that they will, but I am still waiting and I don't want to be a pest.

Or you can research the bigger newspaper markets, find a connection there and send them your information, asking them to write a review. I just don't know about this either. I'm sure it works well for many people, but it doesn't sound like something I want to do. I know, I shouldn't sell myself short, but that is how I'm wired.

This does remind me of something I was told many years ago. Believe it or not, back in 2005, I became a BeautiControl consultant. One thing which my director told me was that you never know who will buy your product. Don't judge people on their outward appearance. Ask everyone you meet to buy from you. All they can do is say "no", but they won't say "yes" if you don't ask. 

It also depends on what your book is about, whether it is fiction or not, if there is a geographic or historical connection. If your book is about a fictional rodeo cowgirl, look into the Denver stock show (which I was at many years ago and it is huge) and figure out a way to sell your book there. If your book is a thriller about a truck driver, stop at as many truck stops as you can and ask them to sell your book on consignment. A book of short stories about women going through mid-life crises might sell well at area beauty salons. Ask to put one free copy in their waiting area for women to read while they wait and then they can buy a copy after their visit.

There are so many things we can be doing to sell our books. I probably am not doing enough of them. But I think that the whole process waxes and wanes a bit. You don't want to forget about promoting your book all together, but it is ok to take some time to sit back and work on something else, while the book wanders around on and Barnes and Noble on its own for a while. It's not going to disappear completely because you took a mental health break.

So there you have it. My short course on making it as a writer. Read, write, reach. And last of all rest.

Are you waiting for the parade or are you out making your own parade? 

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Why can't I keep track anymore?

I'm trying to figure out when the next round of ROW80 starts. I seem to have totally lost a handle on my goals and think I need a fresh start. I know that I can set new goals at any time, I just feel like such a slacker for giving up on these goals in the middle of the stream. 

As you know, if you read my mid-week post, I spent the week (when not at the fulltime, paying day-job) moving three of the rooms in my house. So now that my office has a new look and a new feel, it is taking me a bit to get my focus back. Oh, you know that that is just an excuse.

I'm still adding to the new writing space. I have another 30 or so  Snoopies or Peanuts characters to bring in yet. 

Daily goals –
1-                           write for an hour a day - believe it or not, I did write 815 on my novel this week. 
2-                           market my book or other current project for one hour a day - I probably haven't done this much this week. Lots of little things like, I don't know, putting a free ad for the book on my company's website's classified ads. 
3-                           comment on one other blog – I know that I didn't do this. 

Weekly goals –
1-     post to Dino Chronicles three times a week – I think I actually missed a post on the DC this week. 
2-     post to Writing What I Can When I Can twice a week – I think I did this. 
3-     work on my social networks, by adding to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Goodreads and Pinterest each once a week – I only added to a couple of the social networks. 

Monthly goals-
1-     Do research on my novel – No, but like usual I thought about. 
2-     Submit something somewhere – I actually just last night sent a short piece to be a guest post on a friend's blog. Does that count?

Year-end goal-
          Finish my novel – No, but I have to say that I only should have between 10,000 and 20,000 words left to write!

It appears that my biggest problem lately has been keeping track of anything!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Reading, Writing, Reaching, part 3

A while back, I shared this wonderful plan of mine called the Three R’s for being a writer. Read, write, reach.  I told you what to read two weeks ago and last week I was busy having anxiety, so this week I finally present to you “writing”.

WRITING So what does one write? Everything!

Writing pracitice. Mary Pierce, whose workshop I attended twice at Green Lake Writers Conference, recommends that everyone write the first thing when they get up in the morning. Set a timer for whatever amount of time you have available, say ten minutes, and just write whatever comes to mind. Write either long hand or on your computer, whichever works best for you.

I love this idea, but unfortunately, the only time I practiced it was when I was at Green Lake. I use the excuse that I don’t have the time. Of course, if morning just doesn't work for you, you can pick a better time of the day. That still didn’t' work for me. And I really love doing this - just letting the mind wander. It's surprising what you can come up. So perhaps I should incorporate this into my goals. I doubt I can consistently do this, but I should try.

Writing what you want to write. This would be your Work in Progress. Hopefully, your WIP is something you want to write. If it is not maybe you should rethink some things.

Again set a timer and write until it goes off. This was another suggestion made by Mary Pierce. Set the timer in 20 minute increments and put it on the other side of the room so that you have to get up and stretch to turn it off. I am starting to think that writing is one of the worst things you can do to your body. All the hours I have spent on the keyboard over the last year has done a number on my neck, my shoulders, my elbows and my fingers.

Writing what you don't want to write. I really don't like doing this, but I think that our high school teachers had something right when they made us write long boring papers on long boring subjects. It is easy to make something interesting that you are interested in, but take something boring and make it interesting and then you know you are a writer.

Pick any old subject, maybe something you saw in the news, do a little research and write a one page paper on your findings. Who knows? Maybe it will be good enough to submit somewhere and will open up all kinds of new doors for you.

Writing what you have to write. Do you have a deadline? Luckily, so far most of my deadlines have been self-imposed. But it is still good to have that deadline, that timeframe in which your writing has to move from part 1 to part 2. It’s when you have to park your bottom in your chair and get done with this project. Tell yourself, “I have to finish this.”

Yeah, that sounds good, but is that me? Well, my goal is to make that me. If I was already there, these wouldn’t be goals, right? 

And as if I have nothing better to do, today I am moving my basement office to my daughter's room upstairs. Stay tuned for updated pictures. 

Saturday, March 2, 2013

How productive is productive?

I'm not even going to bother with any numbers or goals today. This past week was packed full and I can't think straight anymore.

On Tuesday, my local hometown paper ran the article on me and my book. The next morning, my very first patient told me he had seen the article and he was so excited for me. He couldn't wait to get the book. It kind of went on like that all day.

Then Thursday morning I had my interview - live - on our local TV station's morning show. Luckily none of my patients had seen it, but I had told enough co-workers about it, so the ones who had seen it told me what a good job I had done. And the rest of my co-workers spent half the morning trying to find it on the internet.

It finally showed up on WJFW's website this morning. We'll see how fleeting my five minutes of fame is.

Lastly on Saturday, I attended an educational seminar for my career as a certified medical assistant. I was getting low on books, so only had eleven to take with. I sold out - I wasn't trying but my medical assistant friends from around the state had all heard about it on Facebook or from each other. I have two people which I owe books to, as soon as I get my order the first of the week.

With all of that, I guess it was a very productive week.

Over 130 medical assistants from across the state converged on Eau Claire for a day long educational seminar. The three women in the front row all bought books.