12.06.2017

#IWSG December: Yup. 2017 is over. Here are my BIG FAILS and my wins. Most importantly: MY PLANS.



It's the first Wednesday of the month, so it's time for me to write a blog post...
BECAUSE it's time for this month's Insecure Writer's Support Group blog hop.

Man, November didn't pan out the way I'd hoped, writing-wise. In fact, all of 2017 didn't really match up to all I'd had planned. Even so, I accomplished a lot that I'm proud of, so I'll jot down the things that kept me from meeting my goals and set forth to be more productive in 2018.

November Goals:

*Write 50,000 words of novel #3 for NaNoWriMo

*Get runs in to be ready for the half-marathon after Thanksgiving

*Be a decent and participatory team member on my November Running Challenge team

*Complete all assessments, grading, and report cards for November/first quarter report cards

*Celebrate Thanksgiving with family without breaking down about missing Mom and Grandma

The November Reality:

*I wrote 13,000 words of novel #3 for NaNoWriMo (BIG FAIL)

*I revised/edited novella 1.5 for my editor and got it sent in to her... finally (Well, that makes the BIG FAIL a little better, but... )

*I ran 70 miles to prepare for my half-marathon and to contribute to my team's overall mileage (The big stressor here was that they wanted to get together for a group run, and I run solo BECAUSE it's hard enough to fit in the runs when I have a second. I tend to find a lag in my family schedule, time when my husband or oldest is home to supervise the youngest two and jet out the door for a run. I lost my team 10 bonus miles for not making it to a group run.)

*I ran the half-marathon with my cousin. It was only her second half-marathon. She ran her first eleven years ago when I ran my first. Since then, I've run at least 15, so I ran with her... slowly. It was hard, but also freeing. When I run on my own, I put pressure on myself to run fast and beat a time... even when I often don't train the way I should... not if I want to set a PR. So, while running slowly, I realized how emotional races are when I run by myself. I'm hoping that now that I know this about myself, I'll enjoy my solo races more... and set a PR. (Ha!) :)

*Most importantly, a week before Thanksgiving, I finally contacted my cousins, who contacted their mom and we learned that since Grandma wasn't with us this year, 3 of the 6 siblings were going to spend Thanksgiving with their own families and not get together with the whole group as we have since the beginning of time ;). That left my two aunts, my cousins, my hubby and kids, and my dad. They planned to go to a restaurant for a buffet. We've always, always had it at one of our homes. Especially with young ones, sitting quietly at a restaurant when we don't get together more often than holidays didn't sound appealing. I wanted to host it. My mom had always been the host. I wanted to take on that tradition and host in her honor, to make it mine now that she's gone. My husband didn't want to go to a restaurant. He didn't want to host. WE HOSTED OUR FIRST THANKSGIVING! We had six days to get our messy, unorganized, falling apart house in shape. There went a week of writing. After work each day, I worked on homework with the kids and we got them to their extra curriculars, I did laundry, and I CLEANED and I ORGANIZED and I PURCHASED "stuff" for the tables and a giving tree for my guests to clip what they're thankful for to. IT WAS BEAUTIFUL. I was too busy and too peaceful with hosting to be sad and miss my mom and grandma. It was the best thing we could have done. :)

The Truth:

I could've gotten farther in my novel #3.

I waste a lot of time.

When I sat on my laptop this past month, I spent 90% of the time not writing.

I need to disconnect our internet. I didn't even do anything worthwhile online.

I waste a lot of time.


The 2018 Goal:

I need to be more productive.

I will publish:

Book #3, Novella #2.5, Short Story #3.5, Expanded Edition, 27 Daisies, and An Illusion of Control


The Plan:

I will type up a weekly/monthly business/publishing/marketing plan with all the items to accomplish each day. I will hold myself to these daily/weekly/monthly goals and keep better track of my time working.

Last spring my husband said that writing is only my hobby, not my business. Until I keep track of my expenses vs my income, it's a hobby.

I agreed. 

I created spreadsheets and put my information in.

I did not keep up with that.

Last night, my husband said until I make more than I spend, and until I KNOW how much that even is, writing is my hobby, and not a business.

I agreed.

I spent hours printing off all my expenses, my income, and scrounging around for the in-home sales notes and etc. I'm unorganized. I'm inconsistent. 

I need to improve.

 I will set and stick to a work schedule, that includes writing, marketing (free things, like more social media presence), and accounting.

PHEW!

What's the biggest thing that keeps you from meeting your goals? Is it safe to say we all struggle with wasting time on the internet? Or, is there something else? Or, are you way better and being productive than me? PLEASE, share your tips and advice for me. I need some serious help before 2018 hits!




December 6 question - As you look back on 2017, with all its successes/failures, if you could backtrack, what would you do differently?

The awesome co-hosts for the December 6 posting of the IWSG are Julie Flanders, Shannon Lawrence, Fundy Blue, and Heather Gardner!

11.01.2017

Happy (belated) Halloween! And my crazy plans for November... #IWSG

It’s time for another group posting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! Time to release our fears to the world – or offer encouragement to those who are feeling neurotic. If you’d like to join us, click on the tab above and sign up. We post the first Wednesday of every month and encourage everyone to visit at least a dozen new blogs and leave a comment. Your words might be the encouragement someone needs.

The awesome co-hosts today are:
 Tonja Drecker,Diane Burton, MJ Fifield, and Rebecca Douglass!


Every month, we announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG post. These questions may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Include your answer to the question in your IWSG post or let it inspire your post if you are struggling with something to say. 

Remember, the question is optional! 

November Question - Win or not, do you usually finish your NaNo project? Have any of them gone on to be published?

pumpkins  

Hey there! 

This past weekend my kids, husband, dog, and I went to my dad's for our annual pumpkin carving afternoon. It's always a sad(dish) day without my mom (She passed away in 2015.), but it's also very nice to carry on the tradition and to hang out with Grandpa. 

Here are the pumpkins we carved (From left to right: My dad's, My husband's, My eldest son's (carved mostly by Grandpa, based on my son's design), My youngest son's (carved mostly by me based on his design), My middle son's.) 

While they carved, I took pictures and discovered this editing feature on my husband's phone, which is why you get this artistic picture of our pumpkins instead of the one where they look normal and orange. :) You can see a couple of the other pictures I posted on tumblr

Many of you know I ran a half-marathon in September and that it's nothing new for me to run that particular race (I've been running it since my oldest son (who's almost 12) was born, but I can't remember if I told you that my feet hurt (unusually so) for a couple of weeks afterward. No worries, however, they feel fine now. I'd just worried I'd done permanent damage. Learning nothing, I agreed to run another with my cousin at the end of November. 

Since I knew I'd have to log some miles to train for another half this month, when my friend Monica tagged me in a Facebook running (log your miles) challenge, I figured why not? However, I found out it's a bit more involved than simply run when you run and keep track of your miles kind of a thing. There's payment and buying items for charity and group running involved... 

Luckily, the ladies (that I just met via one private Facebook message the other night) seem very kind. One is going to shop for us all and I think they'll be understanding if I'm unable to be a part of the group runs. 

Trying to fit in anything extra this month is insane BECAUSE, and this is the most important part of the post: I'M PARTICIPATING IN NANOWRIMO2017. What does that mean? IT'S NATIONAL NOVEL WRITING MONTH, so crazy creative writers frantically pen at lease 1,667 words per day in order to get a 50,000 word novel written during the month. 

Most people spend the months prior planning out their plot so the writing will come much easier and their plot will be organized. 

I spent the previous month finishing my novella, After the Ashes. I still need to find time to complete revisions so I can send it to my editor. 

Which brings me to another thing I plan to do this month. Release book 1.5 in my Kingdom Come series. How I planned for Nanowrimo2017:
  1. Bought candles
  2. Have my trusty phone with music on it next to me
  3. Took a long run and "plotted" out some of the action and dialogue for When Fire Rains Down (book 3 in my series)
Wish me lots of luck. I think I'll need it!

I plan to do brief daily posts on my progress (on Cecelia's blog), so stay tuned. I'd love it if you'd cheer me/her on there, on twitter, tumblr, instagram, email, facebook (@authorcecelia)... anywhere you can find me!

To answer this month's question: YES, I won Nanowrimo in 2015 and plan to publish it next year. It's a contemporary YA so it will be a fun break from the angel fantasy I've been working on for what feels like forever now!

I'll let you know when After the Ashes is released. Until then... it's All Saints' Day, so here's a link to some fun Halloween history and a quote from my current favorite saint that just happens to do with writing, along with a link to learn more about her. Read about the Origins of Halloween .

“I am a little pencil in the hand of a writing God Who is sending a love letter to the world.” --Saint Teresa of Calcutta, Mother Teresa (Learn more.)

10.04.2017

#IWSG: Yes, I have... been laughed at.

  
Hello Writers! Time for another IWSG monthly post.

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer - aim for a dozen new people each time - and return comments. This group is all about connecting!


Every month, we announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG post. These questions may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Include your answer to the question in your IWSG post or let it inspire your post if you are struggling with something to say. 


The awesome co-hosts for the October 4 posting of the IWSG are Olga Godim, Chemist Ken, Jennifer Hawes, and Tamara Narayan!

October 4 question - Have you ever slipped any of your personal information into your characters, either by accident or on purpose?

I have, both accidentally and on purpose, though I think the accidentally is getting less and less the more I write. When I first shared some of my writing with family members and friends, they'd laugh and list off all the ways the character(s) and settings were "totally" me or my family or the town we live in or near. And since it stuck out at them and made them laugh (Nothing they laughed about was intended to be comical.), I learned to watch my writerly self and cut that out real quick.

And... I'll tell you some examples of ways my personal information has slipped into my novels later today... Sorry, I didn't leave enough time to write this morning.

To be continued....

Okay... lunch break. :)

some personal tid bits that have sneaked their ways into my stories over the years:

my main characters are always a little anti-social and goal-driven, which makes them unlikable... that's a little bit me as I'm an introvert and can close up pretty tightly. it takes a lot to get me to leave my house sometimes! i need to venture out as a writer in the personality department!

my main characters are usually runners (like me!)

sometimes characters say something that friends and family think are "so me" and my phrases (gah!)

my novels usually have a small amount of faith-based issues in them (my faith is important to me) in my current series, my dad spotted some scenarios from my real-life childhood (he read the bible to me growing up, he left notes for me before going to work, etc)

my very first novel was set in a house that i'd visited during a local parade of homes (i'd wanted that house!)

i may or may not have modeled a main character's love interest on an ex-boyfriend...

i named a character's mom after  a favorite soap opera character from my childhood

i modeled a bowling alley after a real life bowling alley in my town

i've started using friend's/family member's names in my novels for their amusement and enjoyment :)

current readers of my books have found these similarities in setting:

shady creek, wi (fiction) is similar to black creek, wi (a real life nearby town that really was not on my mind when i created the fictional town)

a character is taken to st. elizabeth hospital (a real life hospital in our city)

i'm sure there are more, but i'm out of ideas at this moment!

back to work!

On a side note... I also really miss Erica, and I don't think she's ever coming back to me. But she was the funny one of us. (She's fine and well and doing amazing things. She just doesn't blog anymore and we don't chat as much as we used to... which used to be multiple times, daily.) Man, those good ol' days of blogging back in 2010-11.  We had some fun times!




9.06.2017

#IWSG September: Surprise! It's fantastical!

It’s time for another group posting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! Time to release our fears to the world – or offer encouragement to those who are feeling neurotic. If you’d like to join us, click on the tab above and sign up. We post the first Wednesday of every month. I encourage everyone to visit at least a dozen new blogs and leave a comment. Your words might be the encouragement someone needs. (Check out the link for the IWSG for other updates, too, including an anthology contest and special post in October!)

The awesome co-hosts today are Tyrean Martinson, Tara Tyler, Raimey Gallant, and Beverly Stowe McClure!
September’s optional question - Have you ever surprised yourself with your writing? For example, by trying a new genre you didn't think you'd be comfortable in?

(Sorry I missed August and was way late posting today. I'm a first grade teacher, so last month was all about prepping my classroom for school, which began yesterday... it's a brand new year!)

YES! I have tried a genre I wasn't comfortable in... and then decided to publish it OVER the genre that is "mine" (meaning what I feel I write best). But I do plan to publish in my "real" (winky face) genre next year... and look forward to it. In fact, I MISS writing it very much. That said, I am SO glad I can now switch back and forth.

I'm the type of person that gets bored easily. When I run or drive, I leave one way, and return another, always finding a cyclical route so I don't have to go the same way twice. Each school year, I completely mix up my schedule and rearrange the bookshelves, reading area, and my desk space. Publishing has been another one of these "cyclical" "mix-it-up" experiences. It's not just write, revise, edit. I can also design covers, market, format, and find new ways to engage readers. Although, I am finding it hard to find the writing time I used to and so I'm at a lull in wordage! (Starting a new school year is not all that helpful either!)

Which genres do I write, do you ask? I began writing a paranormal/fantasy about a girl who could see auras and travel through a portal to another dimension, but then gravitated toward contemporary young adult fiction and that felt WAY more comfortable. I wrote about teens who had romance, friend, and family troubles. Then, I migrated toward griefy contemporary fiction for young adult and really found my place, writing lyrical prose inspired by Jandy Nelson (The Sky Is Everywhere) and Tahereh Mafi (Shatter Me) and Maggie Stiefvater (Shiver). That's my kind of writing. Then, somehow I fell into angel books and started my own series (Christian Fantasy) and have been there for a while now, publishing and completing my series. It's a fantastical world and cast of characters. Sometimes I feel nervous letting my imagination go enough to make my stories paranormal enough. Readers and critique partners and reviewers have said that my books are fantasy well-grounded in reality... and you know what? I take that as a huge compliment, because that's what I enjoy reading and that's who I am as a writer.

I've hit a rough patch, however, and haven't written much in the past few weeks. Here's my advice to myself (and anyone else in an unwriterly phase):

1) Give yourself a break. I know to be a writer, a paid writer, one should write even when not in the mood, but... It'll come. It'll return and then you'll be even more productive. Trust in yourself and your writing.

2) Read. Relax and read. You'll be rejuvenated, re-inspired, and love the process all over again. Reading will help you. I have complete faith (in you and this advice).

3) Get some exercise and some sleep. Seriously. Your body and mind need them.

4) Spend time with friends and family. Boat. Camp. Take a hike through a forest. Shoot a bow and arrow. Play human fooseball. (How do you spell that?)

5) Don't give yourself a timeline. Let your writing self breathe without a deadline.

What do you think? What do you do when you have stress in your life that kills the writer in you? How do you find your motivation and inspiration again?

I've been reading instead of writing (and have done the other suggested activities). I've read Shearwater (Derek Murphy), The Siren (Kiera Cass), Insidious (Victoria Evers), Fallen and Tormented (Lauren Kate), Lady Midnight (Cassandra Clare), and maybe a couple more that are escaping me right now (even though I know I enjoyed them!).

Take care this month! See you in October!

Christy





7.05.2017

#IWSG JULY: There will be ups and there will be downs.


It’s another IWSG posting day when we share our insecurities and encourage each other. For today’s hop, Captain Alex’s trusty helpers are Tamara Narayan, Pat Hatt, Patricia Lynne, Juneta Key, and Doreen McGettigan.


What is one valuable lesson you've learned since you started writing?

There will be ups and there will be downs, but all along the way, there will be people to help you up, to tug you along, to help you see past--and hurdle--the upcoming challenges and frustrations.

Writers are encouragers, and we need one another to talk us through giving up, to talk us out of packing up and going home.

Even John Green, an author who reached enormous success, had a down period. I know this, because he's like many of us--he shared it. He was honest and open and he admitted to feeling scared, to hitting a low point in writing. He'd had so much success that he ended up with writer's block, afraid to fail. He felt he would be measured against his previous novels, and then couldn't bring himself to write-- because of the possibility of writing poorly and failing.

But, I heard recently he has another book coming out! So, he faced his fears and is willing to face his readers again with something new.

We need to do the same.

We need to face our fears and look failure in the face. It's the only way to find success again.

Now, each of us will have a different measure of success and failure. We all have goals, and, while our end goals may be the same, our daily, benchmark goals are probably different. My current goal: I want to have consistent sales. For many that may be 25 sales per day. For me? I'm happy if I sell 1-3 books per day. My goal right now is consistency, and I'm not meeting it. My sales fluctuate, and consequently, my Amazon sales rank continues to fluctuate also (between 19,000 and 300,000).

Do I look at authors who sell consistently and have sales rank I envy? Yes. Do I imagine they don't have days of failure? Yes. But I'm assuming that can't be true. I'm sure they see another goal in the distance and, therefore, while working to meet it, they must also have days where they feel like they are failing. Or, at least, they may feel they haven't found the success they are working toward--yet.

When our goals are not being met, when we are in a down period, we may need to make changes.

The ups and downs may mean being reactive. Making changes. Researching. Learning. Being malleable. Knowing we'll never know everything--no, accepting we'll never know everything. Allowing ourselves to learn little by little. Listening to others. Taking chances. Growing and evolving. Celebrating small successes and looking forward to larger ones, even when in a valley of doubt, insecurity, and failure. Taking those failures and turning them into successes, because we've gained knowledge from them and allowed them to help us move another direction. Or, to keep someone else from falling in that same pit.

Watch, listen, and learn from other authors.

Other authors can serve as our role models. Many are open with what they've tried. What's worked. What hasn't. Pay attention, and give their suggestions and advice a try.

While my success (1-3 sales per day and 1,000 page reads per day) may be seen as failure to an author who's found greater success than that, it's my current place on my journey. It's not my starting point, I'm a couple months past that, and each week has brought new challenges and new successes and my goals continue to evolve.

An author whose advice I follow is Derek Murphy. One of the things that draws me to his advice is that he's humble and willing to admit when he's messed up. That is what has given me confidence to try new things, because he's hugely successful and yet, his road hasn't been perfect. Sometimes he's impulsive. Sometimes he tries something new and it doesn't work. But much of what he does DOES work, and he's open and willing to share it with other authors.

Be patient, but know when to move on. Know when something is or isn't working.

Marketing has been my biggest challenge, and learning to be patient, as well as making changes, is what I'm working on right now. Sometimes I'm too impulsive and I make too many changes too quickly.

Sometimes I don't know what the problem is.

Right now I'm changing direction, changing gears, and trying something unknown and scary, but what I was doing wasn't moving me in a new, more successful direction, so it's time to make a change and see what happens next.

Get organized.

I also need to better organize my spending and income. My husband told me that unless I am keeping detailed track, writing is still my hobby and not my business.

I have my excel spreadsheets now, but I still need to work on consistently updating it.

Be smart. Be strategic. Have foresight.

I've been working on making sure my books match the genre they fit into and recently changed my e-book covers.

I took my first book out of the Kindle Unlimited program this week, which is a scary, scary change for me. I was finally reaching 1,000 page reads per day and now I've eliminated that income for this month, BUT I know I need to find my readers. And so, I'm including it in Book Funnel giveaways with the hopes that readers will find me and my books, and though I'm losing income this month, finding readers will help my business down the road when I continue to release book after book in this series.

I hope.

Share the knowledge.

I'm pretty low on the pole of author-know-how and I'm pretty fresh at publishing and marketing, but I've learned since I started out, and that means I have info and strategies and resources to share. I'm a first grade teacher, so sharing and teaching is who I am, but I also feel like I'm failing when I'm not sharing. I wrote a So You Want To Be An Indie Author (part one) post MONTHS ago, and every week I plan to write the part two and part three, and at this point, part four. But I haven't yet. So, a goal for this month is to get those posts out there.

I couldn't be more grateful for the other writers and authors who are transparent with their journey, so I need to be open and honest with you all out there too. Just in case there's someone out there in need of a hand or a word of encouragement. Because my know-how posts will NOT tell you how I've done everything perfect and right or how I became a best-selling author overnight. No, my posts will tell you what I've done, what a new indie author might expect to do or sell or experience. What NOT to do, what to try, what has worked and what has not worked for me. I will share the questions I've had and the resources where I found the answers.  I will share how even though I'm NOT, nor anywhere near, making my same income as teaching, how I still plan to--someday.  And I'll make a plan to learn how to get there. With your help. Because you're someone who makes a difference and helps me get through the constant ups and downs of writing and publishing.

So, thanks. For being here. Or for being there for someone on their journey.

And whether you are currently at an up or down point on your journey, keep going, and never give up.

#IWSG rocks.

~Christy