A day in the life of an Author

First of all, let me start off with…  Aaargh!!!!!   What a day this has been.  But if you think an Author’s life is all roses and pink-colored glasses, guess what, it’s not that way at all.

Life for an author is a struggle.  I imagine this continues until you make it big.  For those very few who do, I commend you for getting past the struggle and finding your own way through it- a secret that the rest of us are still scratching our heads and trying to figure out for ourselves.

As one of the majority of struggling authors, I have found that authors are just people, having the same personalities, nuances and quirks as everyone else.  The only difference is they write, hoping to make a living out of it.  Being an author doesn’t gift you with a magic wand or special powers (wouldn’t that be great, though?) to make your endeavor easier.  There’s no one to hand you a simple step-by-step “How to be famous” handbook.  Finding authors that can advise you, coach you and/ or even help advertise on their FB wall to get the word out about your book is extremely hard to find but when you find one, latch on to them for they are worth gold in this sometimes secretive, harboring precious details “special society” you have now become a part of.

It’s a struggle and unless you’re a celebrity or have connections, the sales will be slow to nil but don’t stop.  Keep plugging along, at least that’s the wise advice I got today from my good friend, Michael, when I was ready to ball my eyes out for all the frustrations I’ve endured, lately.  I know now why authors self-publish.  As much as I like traditional publishers and crave the status and camaraderie of an agent to help me with my work, having one book published a year doesn’t keep up a momentum to increase one’s fan base or does much for one’s self esteem.

As the year draws to a close, think about your goals and focus on one big one that can start the flow going for the others.  For instance, I want to sell books but in order to sell, I also have to write.  I have marketed, participated in Author Takeovers, spotlights, interviews, book tours, contests and giveaways until I can turn rainbow colors but if I don’t have any books to talk about, I can’t promote, market or advertise and my readers will have nothing to look forward to.  So, the key is write, write, write and don’t forget it.

The more books you get out there, the more you can talk about, the more you can generate a fan base, and the more known you will be (we hope).  This is what I’ve learned from today’s frustration.  That and the confirmation that every author needs a strong, dependable friend or a support group.  Mine today was Michael, quoting to me words from the song “Gone, gone, gone” by Phillip Phillips, “Like a drum baby, don’t stop beating.”  Don’t let my passion die.  Don’t stop writing.  That’s pretty much Michael’s words to me, in a gist.  And for you, my dear colleagues and friends, don’t you stop either.

Here’s to a better, more profitable New Year for all of us!  Cheers.

Of these 5 I am Thankful

So, it’s that time of year again when families gather together around a Turkey and challenge themselves to eat in one sitting more food than they’ve had in an entire day.  But, it is also the time of year when we start thinking about life- those little things we are grateful for that when combined together makes life fun, joyful and worth getting up in the morning.  Those small things that add to our life and that, without, we would miss very much.

The general rule is to be thankful every day but if we can’t do this, let’s consider writing a list, whether on paper or in our own mind of those things we can’t do without that we are happy for.  Here’s my top 5:

  1. I am thankful for family.  This year, we are minus one.  It is the first year we will spend the Holidays without my mom, my best friend, and the one woman who always gave me full support no matter what was happening around us.  I miss her dearly.  Our family has carried on without this shining star and struggles to remain strong.  I am happy that I still have my dad and can care for him as he survives day to day through the inevitable ills and arthritis that accompany the aging process.  My dad and I were never close but, somehow, over the years I have learned to appreciate him and love him.
  2. I am thankful for my supportive husband.  Whoever said it- “A good man is hard to find” was right.  I am so glad my husband chooses every day to stay by my side and live the rest of his life with little ol’ me.  He is your “typical” male in many respects- not one to express his feelings- but I must say he surprised me with his staunch support as we went through the recent deaths of my mom and my beautiful dog (the last of two we had).  I’ve learned with age and experience, the value of having a partner who shares your same values and ideals and I must say, I couldn’t have asked for a better one to stand by my side.
  3. I am thankful for my work.  I am fortunate in that I have two jobs- one full-time that provides me with health, life and dental insurance and supports my other job:  my career, my true passion and calling- writing.  I am thankful I can pay the bills and live my life the way I want to.  Money provides a certain freedom to do, get, experience as you want and I am so thankful I am able to enjoy this freedom and make the most of it, in the ways that I wish.
  4. I am thankful I have a home of my very own.  My home may not be a several-storied mansion, filled with worldly antiques worth a fortune but it is ours- our own little retreat when life gets stressful.  The peaceful, corner lot of our bungalow is perfect sized for two people who don’t like cleaning endless hours of the day.  We love our home.  That we were granted a 2nd chance at owning one is incredible.  The fact that this home is larger than our previous one was just an added bonus.
  5. I am thankful for you.  Like every writer, I am thankful for my readers.  I’m not sure if I’ll ever be able to turn my hobby of writing into a career though I’d like to, but in the meantime, I am thankful and grateful that I am able to speak to people all over the world through my blogs and my books.  Wonderful people I may never meet but wish the best for, always.  You read my blogs, my FB insights, my endless advertisements, my moody rants and you interact and participate with me and I love it!   If it weren’t for you, my lovely readers, there’d be no reason to write, so here’s a big Thank You to you!

 

 

Housewarming party- 10/10/2015 and Advice for hosting a future party

Thanks to all who attended my Housewarming party this past Saturday.  It was really fun!

Planning for a party can get crazy!  That’s why it’s good to stay as organized as possible if you are the only one tasked with doing the planning and preparation.

To help you out with planning your next party, I will give you some examples of what I did to make our party a success.  I planned the party two weeks out, first making a list of attendees and sent the invites in the best format for them to receive it, depending on their preferences.  I sent the invites by: text, handed it in person or mailed it.

Next, I searched online for platters to order through a local supermarket, intending to buy the platters until I found out how much each one was.  Printing out pictures of particular platters I wanted at my party, I made a list of all the meats, fruits, cheeses, types of cheeses (block cheese, cubed, slices) I needed in order to copy and make the platters myself to save some $$.  (Always take into account food preferences for guests; for instance if you have friends who are vegetarian, so that they may also have food to enjoy).

Thirdly, I made a list of drinks to have at the party and other items to have on hand like: ice, flatware, napkins, plates, disposable coasters.  I saved $$ and bought these extra but needed items at a local dollar store.  Saving $ any way you can will help you with stretching your budget in other areas that you may want to splurge on.

Fourth, I ordered a specialty cake specifically with a Housewarming party theme and I ordered one platter of sandwiches.  For me, the investment in purchasing the sandwiches instead of painstakingly making each one was worth the extra time and energy I saved.

Lastly, I searched online for Housewarming party ideas and I decided to include favors for the guests.  As each guest left, they took a gift bag filled with a few goodies to thank them for helping us celebrate.

On the day of the party, we vacuumed the house, cleaned mirrors, staged the bedroom, went room to room checking to see how each would look for our guests, swept out the front veranda to the home, tidied up the yard, put fresh water in the birdbaths for attendees who wanted to venture outside, and brought in extra seating for guests so all would have a place to sit in either of the rooms they ventured into.  (Having background music playing can also create a warm, comfortable feeling for your guests- this is especially wonderful during the holidays.  Try to pick easy listening, instrumental music.  It’s soothing and likely won’t interfere with conversation and merriment).

A yard sign out by our mailbox to help guests find our home was the very last item- this can be added to balloons tied to a mailbox to make your home stand out even more.

This is all hard work but it’s worth it in the end so that you and your guests have an enjoyable time.  Good luck with yours!

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While you are waiting … on that book contract, Advice #4

Still waiting… trying to remain positive and immersing yourself in other things while the Universe decides which publisher or agent is best to publish/represent your book?  Well, good.  That’s what you should be doing because things will work themselves out in the end, in your favor, even if you have to go the route of self-publishing.  In the meantime, have you thought about:

—  If they want your book, they will contact you or… have you contacted them for an update?

Contacting an agent or a publisher is a delicate, fine line so be careful.  Generally, it is okay to contact an agent or publisher after say, a month to two months after submitting your manuscript; however, I caution you that each representative has their own preferences; therefore, when you are on their website determining how to submit your manuscript, keep a note of which ones are okay to contact, their time frames (if they specify) when you can contact them for an update on the status of your manuscript and which ones state the formal “Don’t contact me, I’ll contact you…if I’m interested in receiving more.”  Please honor whatever they request.

Recently, I contacted a few publishers for an update on the status of one of my manuscripts.  One replied immediately, one after three weeks, and another has not replied yet.  The ones that don’t reply are not always a bad sign.  They may be swamped; however, keep in mind that the ones that don’t respond at all may be trying to tell you something in the end.  For my debut novel, I heard from an interested publisher six months after submission, when I already had a contract.  So, time frames definitely vary but don’t stop what you’re doing to wait for them and when you make that contact, please, only contact them once.  If they haven’t responded, don’t keep contacting them.  Your innocent e-mails requesting information for your own peace of mind could be considered harassment.  You don’t want to give them a bad impression because they will remember you in the future.

I wanted to add something here that astounded me to learn of but is good advice to share.  I read an article recently on submitting gifts with your manuscript….  Please don’t ever do this.  Not only does this turn off publishers faster than anything, this is not a good practice to engage in, at all.  Do you really want your book published simply because your gift was generous?  Wouldn’t it be better to get a contract based on the merits of your well polished manuscript than on whose Hawaiian cruise had better amenities?  You want to be remembered for your work not your bribery.  Please don’t get that desperate, my friends.  There is nothing worth you tarnishing your good name.

After you contact the agents and publishers that said it was okay to contact them, push your notes aside and work on something else in the meantime until they respond back to you.  Remember  in your ‘request for an update status’ e-mail, be friendly (but not too friendly)- be ‘professional friendly’, so to speak and always end your e-mail wishing them a nice day, to take care, or with best wishes.

Until next time my friends, take care of yourselves and keep thinking positive.  Never give up!  Your book will be published when the time is right and the world is ready for your ingenious work.

While you are waiting…on that book contract- Advice #3

Hello my friends.  So…you’re still waiting on that book contract, eh?

By now you probably have received several rejections from agents stating your manuscript “doesn’t fit their list” or they weren’t taken in or wowed by your work.  That’s okay.  Don’t give up.  Remember, you will get a mountain of rejections and it only takes one acceptance to not only put you ‘over the top’ in happy, gleeful mode but also to publish that book you worked so hard on.  Don’t give up my friends. As a recent friend told me about my own two manuscripts I am waiting for contracts (it’s been 2 months going on 3)- “Be patient.  It will come.”  Sound advice.  Still hard to be patient but sound advice, regardless.

So, what else can you do besides twiddling your thumbs, waiting for your life to begin?  Well… have you considered…

—   Reading a good book —-

Now, I didn’t mean taking one of your ‘oldies but goodies’ off the shelf, that you personally wrote, to re-read it.  No.  I meant to read one by an author you like, in the same genre you write.  They say the more you read, the better your writing style because you learn from others’.  Each person is different and approaches writing from different backgrounds, different angles and therefore each author’s writing approach and style is varied too.  So, why not take this time to catch up on that reading list you never got to because you were too busy crafting your masterpiece.  It’s in the hands of those who would publish your book.   Let them take their time reviewing your work and battling it out  as to who is best to publish your book while you forge ahead and work on increasing your skills for your future success.

During this ‘down-time’ do something fun and helpful to add to your knowledge- read and study how authors describe different scenes, portray different actions, like facial expressions, for instance, or what words/descriptors do they use to show (not tell):  hunger, need, and even desire.  There are certain expressions that we do every day with our face that are very hard to put into words to describe to our readers.  I still have great difficulty doing so and, most of the time, have to stop and think about what I am actually doing when I am re-enacting the facial gesture or tic I am trying to describe.

Writing is definitely a creative process- it is art in written form- but it won’t be if we can’t come up with the basics (paint, brush, canvas) in order to create that awesome, vivid, oil painting we have in our heads.  So, read more than one author, determine which authors you like and why.  What is it about that author’s writing that you like?  What are they doing differently than you?  Is it something you can incorporate into your own work?

Till next time, take care my friends and read…read…read.  Reading others’ work will help you hone in on your own style and carve out a better writer in you.

Why ‘switching things up’ can be a good thing

Sometimes, as a writer, things can get overwhelming, especially when you are trying to juggle several demands (work, relationships, family) at once.  Then add to that- seeking a publisher or an agent and all the work entailed with that process (following specific formats catered to each individual you contact, weeding through the vast quantity of agents and publishers that don’t take your genre or aren’t accepting queries or submissions).  To top it off, the toe-tapping, nail biting period between submitting all your work and getting the ‘golden ticket’- what you’ve been writing for in the first place- that lovely contract that says “Yes, we want to publish your work” can be extremely long.  Even one day can seem like several and a month akin to a year.

So, in the meantime, what are you going to do with all your available time?  Check your e-mail every hour on the hour, expecting any minute to receive that brilliant white light of paperwork welcoming your manuscript to a new family?  You will drive yourself nuts plus it’s a real strain on your emotional health and well being, after a while.

The old saying, “if it is meant to be…” is true.  It will happen for you but only when the time is right- for you.  This can be frustrating and it often is for debut or relatively new authors wanting to get their product out, trying to make writing their career, and trying to build an audience.  But the concept of everything happening when it is supposed to happen for you is not going to change just because you’re upset you didn’t get the contract today or you received another rejection.  Remember- rejections are only one person’s opinion and they really have nothing to do with the value of your work or the long hours you spent crafting your manuscript before sending it out.

The best thing for you to do is to step back and do something else.  I know it sounds crazy but doing something fun and enjoyable just for you re-energizes you and gives you strength to carry on.  It also allows the process of flow and creation to occur in your life.  Because when you are stressed, you are blocking – and you don’t even know it.  You’re just trying, fighting, doing anything to do what you love.  This is when you need to turn off the computer, check your e-mails only once per day, and do something nice for yourself for a few days to several weeks.  Unwind, read something else for a change, focus and concentrate on something different.  For taking that crucial step back, essentially switching things up,  will allow you to continue doing what you love- later.

Take care, my friends.

Valentine’s Day in our hearts

Sometimes we forget.  Life gets busy.  Things get thrown on us at the last minute and we have to bend, sway, or sometimes even adapt to new situations or circumstances we find ourselves in but, regardless, in anything we do and with every person we encounter in life, we should approach them with love in our heart. Sharing love is difficult to do and it’s a life lesson for most of us.  It’s really hard to share your love (in this case, our positive regard) with someone that’s hurt us or that we think is not deserving of your love but then, that’s a judgment call on our part.  We should never change who we essentially are for anyone else.  Approaching others as our best, in the best way we can, makes us better people and keeps us righteous.  We are sharing our true selves with others not our defense mechanisms, our protective shields but who we truly are, no holds barred.  We can’t control others and their reactions but we can stay true to ourselves and share our authentic selves with others.  That makes us winners in the end. So hold a Valentine’s Day full of love in your heart and share with the world your endless supply.  Be true to yourself and take care.

10 things they never tell first-time authors

So, you want to be a writer, eh?  You enjoy the creative process, and you think you have a knack for coming up with various stories with scintillating plots that grab the reader from the get-go.  Well… there are many things you will encounter as a writer that no one ever told you.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I enjoy writing.  It’s fun, exciting and who doesn’t like seeing their name on their own book cover?  It’s not the writing.  It’s all the stuff that comes with the writing that can be a throbbing headache turned into your worst nightmare.

Here are ten off the top of my head I’ve learned the hard way.

  1. That, as an author, you will do more advertising and marketing than actual writing
  2. That in between the time you submit your manuscript and actually receive a contract, you will tear all your hair out and go bald and insane because waiting  for someone to say you’re good enough to publish is the worst thing ever!
  3. That as an unknown author, you NEED book reviews but that finding good book reviewers who will actually commit to reading/reviewing your book is just as easy as ‘finding a needle in a haystack’
  4. That gathering a fan base and creating an ‘author platform’ is not as easy as it seems
  5. That rejections of your manuscript will feel like personal attacks regardless of what anyone says and that this happens because you are a human being with feelings
  6. That every rejection of your manuscript will have you questioning whether you should be an author or if your work is good enough
  7. That endless waiting comes with being an author and it sucks!
  8. That writing and self-editing take up quite a lot of time and that it’s hard to do when you are juggling a full-time job, a family, are taking care of your older parents and trying to live your own life (if you can find time to do that)
  9. That some people will actually not want you to succeed or block your efforts and that these ‘people’ are people you know
  10. That it costs money to write (maintaining a website, advertising costs, promotions, blog tours, etc.)

New Year’s Resoloutions

Recently, a friend of mine passed away.  He was only 55 years old and in a span of one week he entered the first of two hospitals and died in the second one.  It’s funny how sometimes you don’t really know how much a person meant to you until they are gone.  This man, Ray, was more my husband’s friend, I considered, but his death has impacted me too.

I find myself remembering things or seeing things that remind me of Ray.  The other day my husband and I commented on how we were going to invite him and his wife back to Tarpon Springs, FL for a fun day at an arcade museum we just heard about there.  I was looking forward to watching Ray’s face light up as he played video games alongside my husband.  Sadly, that will never be but it’s a valuable lesson to all of us to not hold back, not wait for a better time to do things.  Act now while you can.  Love those around you, share your love with family and friends, do little acts of love and support and let nothing hold you back for you never know what tomorrow may bring.

So with the coming of the New Year, 2015, forget the dieting, forget the ‘life altering’ plastic surgery and other non-essential trivia.  Let’s remember what’s really important:  family and friends and being of service to others while we are still here.  Let’s resolve to spend every minute we can with those who are most important to us, to laugh, cheerily and heartily, with every opportunity we get, to cherish every moment as a gift, a treasure we may never be able to reclaim and to love openly, sharing our generous heart with those who love us back.

Let’s not let anything keep us from living, loving, sharing, and enjoying life.  It is what we make of it so let’s make every day special and joyful in some way.

Cheers to you and be safe during this coming New Year.

The excruciating pain of waiting….

As a new author, it is a difficult task to wait.  You’ve taken the painstaking effort of actually creating a book out of sentences written, then you take time to write a query letter, synopsis, possibly a publishing package with an outline- all to find a publisher or agent who thinks your work is worthy and salable.  That could take up to a year or less depending on how lucky you are.

So, you’ve taken a year to write your book , a year to find a publisher or agent.  If you find an agent, it could be a year to two years to publish because they need to turn around and find a publisher for you.  If you find a publisher, it may take one year to publish.  Then, you have to edit your book and that can take 5 to 6 months or longer.  And by the way, the editing process is not fun.  It is a grueling, pull your hair out, pierce your own skin process that will make you wonder why you wrote in the first place!  So, you do all that and you finally get the book published with a cover that you and the artist have agreed upon.  That’s it-right?  Wrong!  Then you need to find fans.  You need to have what they call, a platform.

Garnering a fan base is more work than writing the book.  When you’re a first time author there are a lot of things you can take personal and people not buying your book is one of them.  Seeing your number’s slip off the sales chart on Amazon is another.  And, lastly, waiting for someone to review your book is a killer.  It also doesn’t help to see established authors getting book reviews in a couple of weeks when you’re book has been out there and you haven’t received one review yet.  It’s not enough to get a website, a blog, a Facebook page and a Twitter account.  You’re still an unknown.  Without book reviews, a book doesn’t sell and the author remains an unknown.

So, in the meantime you wait…  The clock is ticking and you are on the edge of your seat waiting for someone to write something and hoping it’ll be a 5 out of 5 stars instead of a 1 out of 5 with the words “You suck” attached as a comment.  Being a first time author is grueling and there has to be a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, somewhere.  “Just keep writing and the fans will come.”  God, I hope so.  In the meantime, I’m going to keep writing and keeping my fingers crossed.

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