Tag Archives: rise above

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Out of Gas

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Last week I put up a report of my 18 months as a full-time author. As I typed it up, I noticed that I’ve done a lot so far this year! I should be happy with that.

And I am.

Unfortunately, my current project is taking a lot of energy.

I mentioned it last week. And while it’s not secret, we’re not ready to do a public reveal on it yet. Which is kind of killing me. I swear forces have been conspiring against us every step of the way, and I have the feeling that it will continue even after these books are out.

It’s a difficult topic. Writing a few scenes made me cringe. But it’s important, and those of us involved really feel drawn to the project, and we’re not going to back down.

Even if I’m ready to throw in the towel and binge watch season three of Stranger Things all in one sitting. Which I am. But I won’t.

You see, I can’t even form complete sentences!

However, I just wanted to say that if you’re feeling, as Bilbo says, “thin..stretched like butter scraped over too much bread” don’t give up! It’s okay to take a break, but keep moving forward, even if it’s just in something little.

For instance. I did the laundry today. All of the loads. It’s even folded. This is my victory, and I will relish in it.

Also, I survived Kempo class. Sensei has decided it is time for hard workouts. Really hard workouts. In the summer heat? Gee, thanks. Pretty sure I lost ten pounds in sweat. I’ll take it.

I only have twenty four pages left to edit for my book in this killer project. Barring disaster it should be ready to go to the editor by the end of the week.

In the immortal words of Galaxy Quest


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Year One as a Full-Time Author

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I made what I thought were easily attainable goals for this year. I imagined having more time than I would know what to do with and being able to do all the things.

Yeah, that crashed and burned early on.

Here’s a snapshot of my 2018 goals:

Make 20k-25k

Jagged Scars Series Finished

New Sight Series Finished

Sci-Fi series written and out

Babes in Spyland revamped

Flash Fiction Weekly

Blog Weekly

Master Amazon Ads

Master Facebook Ads

Have 10k subscribers on my newsletter

Get 50 people on my review team

Doesn’t sound hard, right? Let’s go through what got finished, what didn’t and why.

Make 20k-25k

This did not happen. The reason it didn’t happen is because I never took the plunge into advertising. One month I did some paid promotions and my sales skyrocketed for a couple of months, then plunged back down to normal levels, which is selling a book or two a day most days.

Jagged Scars Series Finished

This did happen!

However, writing the last book of the series consumed most of the first half of the year. I let it get under my skin, wrote the whole thing about three times and finally came up with an acceptable book. Writing it is probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done, including finishing my first book.

New Sight Series Finished

This happened! This happened in time for Salt Lake FanX (a ComiCon-like convention) where I actually sold out of books.

Happy to say that writing the final book of this series only gave me a migraine for two weeks. Nothing like the end of the other series.

Sci-Fi series written and out

This did not happen. I started outlining and planning and working through character arcs, and then my romance writing friend called me, and I ended up writing three sweet romances instead of these books.

The romances are doing well, and I’ll get back to this series early next year.

Babes in Spyland revamped

So I want to revise what I’ve written in this universe and then expand it! I have so many ideas, and it will be amazing, but it keeps getting pushed back. This might happen near the end of next year. We’ll see.

Flash Fiction Weekly

I only missed two weeks of this! And both of those are because of finishing book deadlines. This has been a fun activity. I’m thinking I’ll mix it up next year, but we’ll see. There will still be Flash Fiction!

Blog Weekly

Did this. I know blogs aren’t really a big thing anymore, but I kind of like blogging each week. I plan to continue.

Master Amazon Ads

Ugh. This caused me way too much stress, and I hardly did anything. I’ve enlisted the help of my mathy hubby, and we’re hitting this hard at the beginning of the year.

Master Facebook Ads

Same as Amazon Ads

Have 10k subscribers on my newsletter

Maybe this was too ambitious. I’ve more than doubled my subscribers and now have 2,500. But nowhere near 10k. Everything about this changed with the EU’s privacy thing in the middle of the year, and I haven’t been particularly diligent about it since then.

Get 50 people on my review team

I started a review team, so that’s good. I think I have 30 or so, and of them only about 10 are super active, but still, going forward.

What else came up?

Karly Stratford:

Well, I created my pen name of Karly Stratford and released two sweet romance books. The third will be finished before the end of the year and released in February. I don’t want to put my whole focus there, but it is fun getting out of my usual genres and doing something different. I really want to lean these toward clean romantic comedies. Should be good times.

Fairy Tale Academy:

A friend asked me if I wanted to contribute to a Little Mermaid retelling collection in May. I was struggling with my Jagged Scars final book, and took the opportunity to write something different. It’s only 24k and I had a great time with it.

I wrote it with the intention of it being a stand-alone, but a few of my beta readers asked if there is more in the world. Well, now there will be. I have two more written and a total of eight planned. Those will be out between January and May of next year.

Overall impressions of the year:

If I’m being brutally honest, being my own boss was much more difficult than I imagined. I can’t tell you how many days my schedule broke down and I didn’t get much, if any, writing done. Family and friends pulled me away more often than not. I got bored being at home by myself. Sometimes I played on Facebook more than I wrote.

I have a plan to fix these issues. I’ve been using it for a week, and I’m really liking it.

I know I can do more than I did this year. I know I can be a better author, a better business owner and a better marketer. More on my plans for that next week!

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They Say, if You Can Dodge a Wrench, then You Can Dodge a Ball

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Despite the rough start, January was a pretty good month for me. Not perfect, but good. I proved to myself that I could make progress, and that going full-time as an author was a positive move.

I have a lot I want to accomplish in February. The month is short anyway, and I’m losing five writing days for writing conferences and vacations. So on the 1st, I sat down and laid out the fifteen days of writing that I knew I was going to have so that I could get everything done. Like I said, it was tight, but I was ready.

The very next morning, I get a phone call from my old work.

You know, the one I basically retired from? The one I walked out of six weeks ago and wasn’t planning on going back? At all? Yeah. That one.

It was my old boss, asking if I would be willing to put some hours in because they were in trouble. The shop is ahead, engineering is behind, my replacement isn’t up to speed yet, one guy gave his two weeks notice…It wasn’t a new situation. This kind of thing happens all the time at my old work.

To be honest, I was shocked my old boss called. The company doesn’t like parting with money (understandable) and he knew I was going to ask for a lot. Because, duh, subcontractor.

Now, as irony would have it, on January 23rd, just four weeks after I’d quit my day job, I get a message from my husband saying that he was getting laid off.

Nice, right?

Lucky for us, his current employer is awesome, and gave them three weeks notice, as well as a nice severance. Plus, we’ve saved for a rainy day. Not to worry, he’s a software engineer living in an area where his skills are in high demand. He’s already had a bunch of interviews and is almost excited about a change. (Because let’s be honest, finding a new job is a pain.) However, when my boss called I felt like I needed to say yes to going back to my day job.

I just sent a novel to my editor last week, and what I get paid for my few days of not-writing-work will almost cover it. Which is going to kill three of my fifteen days of writing in February. However, it will keep the financial burden out of my normal checking account.

So there’s my wrench for the month. I’m not sure I’m dodging it. I may be taking it right to the face. We’ll see.

Anyone else have a wrench in their month already? Or, on a happier note, how did you turn your lemons into lemonade?

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Stupid Discouragement

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Discouragement is an emotion we’ve all felt. From the toddler, who’s life seemingly ends when they don’t get chicken nuggets for dinner, to the octogenarian who finds their body falling apart around them and everyone in between. There are a thousand things a day we can be discouraged about, maybe more. And for some reason it’s easier to focus on the bad rather than the good.
Lately I’ve felt particularly assaulted by dark thoughts—whispers of guilt and feelings that I’m not quite good enough in any area of my life. If I miss a writing goal I feel like I’ll never be successful as an author and that I may as well give up.  If I mess up a day of my diet it’s all going down the toilet anyway, so I may as well go to Culvers for Ice Cream, which then spawns the guilt for breaking the promise I made to myself to be good. One cross word to a family member and I feel as if I’m the worst person on the planet. One judgmental thoug
ht sends me into throngs of guilt that are almost impossible to break free from.

I figure I’m not the only one with this problem. Society pushes us all to be perfect in ways that are sometimes unattainable. For instance, Facebook keeps telling me that I’m beautiful no matter what. Well, sometimes I’m not, so quit telling me how to feel, dang it. Let me wallow, or let me
throw my hair back and be ugly if I want to. Sheesh. The pressure is killing me.

Then I feel bad for hating all of those nice people on Facebook who think I’m beautiful.

Seriously, is there an end to it?

Last week a lot of things came together and tossed me into the mire. Writing wasn’t going anywhere, which is always frustrating because I do it part time and need to make progress. My sister had pointed out a fatal flaw in my latest novella, so I was trying to re-work it. There had been some family drama that boiled for a few weeks before it finally exploded all over everything. My house wasn’t clean (this is a big thing for me. I know, I know, it doesn’t really matter, but it does to me, so back off!) There were tasks on my To-Do list that had been there for a month. I really hate that. I thought I had offended someone. I’d probably offended several people. After a few weeks of trying to be more healthy I’d gained a pound (not muscle, I promise). And looking at May, I saw I had exactly two nights free the entire month, including weekends.

In the midst of stressing about all of this, I threw myself into writing a novella. I have a new outline, so I thought I could push out 10k words on Friday. Considering I could copy and paste at least 5k of those, I felt confident that I could do it. Normally 5k words in a day is no problem. I’m a fast typist, and this was middle draft material, not final draft. Go me!

Only nothing worked. Not one word was easy, and after four hours I was practically beating my head against my desk. I’d forced myself to keep my butt in the chair, I’d forced myself to eat  a healthy lunch. I’d forced myself to skip my walk in order to meet this writing goal for the day.

All for nothing. And I wasn’t even PMSing.

Looking back, this shouldn’t have been a big deal. But it was, and I know why. Because
I let it be.

I know, I know, now I sound like a meme, but it’s true. I am perfectly capable of replacing dark, discouraging thoughts with better ones. Sometimes I don’t want to, and that’s when I get into trouble. Because it’s easier to stay in the dark rather than rise into the light. It easier to complain than to find solutions. It’s easier to say “I’m not good enough” rather than to square your shoulders and say, “What’s one thing I can do better today?”

Not everything. Don’t think about that, it will dive bomb you into discouragement oblivion. Push back one thought, break free of a little guilt, look around and smell the roses (ignore the weeds, you can pull them later), call a friend, do something for someone else.

Discouragement is normal. We all go through it, but we don’t have to let it drag us down. Put on your favorite song. Go for a walk. Order pizza for dinner. Play a game. Read a book or watch a show. Take a time-out and come back to it with a better attitude. Decide that you’re in charge, not those stupid whispers in your ear that bring you down. Trust me, you’ll be happier. I am, when I can do it. It’s rarely easy, but it’s always worth it.

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