On (not) Losing Faith

I’ve wanted to be an author most of my life. This shit is hard.

I love writing. I love writing so much that I did it for free for a long time, and then nearly free after that. The list goes on and on. I had a glimpse of what to expect from this career when I first decided to stop hiding behind ghostwriting. At the time, I was still maintaining my ghostwriting career. Then, a series of unforeseen circumstances pushed me back to square one.

I wasn’t prepared for this to be my only source of income. I wasn’t prepared for the possibility of not having any income.

The harsh reality of writing for a living is that thousands of books die daily because no one ever sees them. I’m happy to say that isn’t the case for me, but not

everyone is so lucky.

Writing for a living takes so much more than just writing.

I’ve been behind the curtain so long that I have to figure out everything else. From building an author platform to which marketing techniques are best for my work, all of it takes a skill set that I am still acquiring. Some days, I am extremely bitter about this.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve done some co-writing as wells as ghostwriting. My co-writer handled all of the marketing, and editing. I handled most of the writing. In the end, she had all the skills to create another great partnership with someone else. I’ve become a better writer because of the work we did together, but I’m less of a business woman because of it.

Design

I don’t have thousands of dollars to throw at my craft, but I do have faith. Which in my case is saying a lot. I’m not generally the type to believe in what has yet to manifest in my life.

This time is different. The same way it was with my darlings. Just when I was ready to pretend I never needed them, they arrived.

That is to say, writing is beautiful. Writing for a living is hard. Difficult dreams are worth the difficulty.

So work hard. Work tirelessly for what you want. Not because the rewards are timely, but because you want it. You’ve spent endless hours dreaming it could be real. So, spend endless hours making it real. You can do it. I can do it.

It is okay if no one but you can see it. It is okay is nothing is right about it. If things aren’t falling easily into place, or every turn you take creates another bend in the road. It is okay.

It is your dream, no one has to believe in, work for it, or push passed their insecurities about it but you. But me.

I’m working on understanding perfect timing. I’m working on the realization that things are not going to happen when I want them too and this is no reason for me to quit. My vision for my life is valid, beacuase I say so and because I am willing to keep after it.

Having faith does not mean seeing the whole picture or knowing how things will come together. Having faith doesn’t mean a perfect path or a open highway toward your dream. Having your faith tested, doesn’t at all mean you should give up on your dream.

Work from the place you are, and you will eventually level up.

Just. Keep. Swimming.

I know I’m not the only one with dreams I have to remind myself to believe in. So, what are yours?

Joy.

 

 

The Alpha’s Dream: A Check-in and Check up.

The year is nearly done and The Alpha’s Dream is still showing up for me.

I guess, that is the mark of a good piece of work. It continues on. I say good, because there were definitely some moments I there where I thought of pulling it due to errors. Errors, I have yet to correct. Sigh. That’s a post for another time.

What is true right now is that I still love my first release.

I had hoped that would be true. There are changes I would love to make, Things/ scenes I would reconsider or rework, but even with the editing that is goiong to happen as soon as possible, I will honestly leave most of it as it is.

I like that sometimes the characters run away with the story. I like the overly descriptive chapters and the thin foreshadowing in some places. I like that I can accept every good and bad review of it at face value and still think it beautiful. It’s a lot like falling in love. Except this way, I can fall in love the same way over and over and know that it won’t change over time.

The Alpha's Dream Check up Blog Post
http://www.jocelynyoung.com Blog post on debut release The Alpha’s Dream

If you are wondering what triggered this post about The Alpha’s Dream, I’ll be honest. It is because I am still completely infatuated with the Euphoria and Nathaniel. I want you to be infatuated too.

In other news, I’ve been thinking about it a lot because it was my first release. The following novels I’m working on all involve characters from The Alpha’s Dream and I just loved Euphoria and Nathaniel.

They were a perfect start for me. Their imperfections, their easy chemistry, and their need for each other still strikes a cord in me. I’ve written a lot of stories as a ghostwriter and co-writer. I’ve loved a lot of characters, but they are special. They are in a class all their own.

I’ve been working on my second release. It’s Heroine is Charlotte Jackson, Euphoria Blanchard’s best friend from The Alpha’s Dream. As I flesh out her life, I find myself thinking more and more about the Blanchard’s. What are the twins up too? How does Nathaniel feel about his father now? How has marriage and children changed them?

All these questions play out in my head. I wonder if they play out in yours.

It’s funny that books will feel that way. I guess that is what truly makes them powerful, the ability to make us linger in worlds that don’t belong to us. The ability to make us care about lives that don’t actually exist, and how often it feels like they do.

As The Alpha’s Dream continues to flourish. I hope that you get a chance to dive into the lives of Euphoria and Nathaniel and by proxy their amazing, loyal friends. My want is that they stay with you, the way they’ve stayed with me.

 

Joy.

#MovingRightAlong August Goals

With each passing month I find myself more and more conscious of what goals are being accomplished.

So far, I’m doing okay. Not great, but okay.

In a lot of ways, I am happy with that. Then, there is the part of me that isn’t satisfied with mediocre. It is also the part of me that has a major critiqued for everything I do. Not an easy voice to listen to. On occasion, she is perfectly right though. This time, she said get focused and execute. You know what? That is exactly what I am doing.

From here on out, it is not nearly enough that I post my monthly goals and then a monthly update. I’m taking things a step further as I build discipline in my work life.  Instead of simply posting my monthly goals. I will post weekly updates toward those goals.

Remember, Accountability is key to success.

I work hard. Currently I can work harder. I have great dreams and no one is going to accomplish them for me.

So, here’s to a new beginning and higher success rate:

August Goals:

-20,000 words on Primary WIP

-100 Blog post followers

-15 IG post

-1 New Premise in development

Deep breathes and lots of focus will get me through this. It isn’t a long list, but it is a difficult on with my current schedule. That however is a small fact that I will ignore. I have lovely little darlings that need to understand that hard things are not impossible to accomplish. They are just…hard. So, here we go again.

I will teach them how to thrive by working hard and smart. Staying disciplined and being clear about their goals. I’m learning all of these things, and they are watching my every move. As August rolls along, I will be proving to myself and to them that the work you do is foundation. The work you commit to  and follow through in doing is what makes your life. Not the things you allow to remain as dreams.

What about you? What goals are you pushing through? What ways are you moving forward? Comment below.

Joy

 

#GutCheck July Goals Updated

Woot! Woot! It was a good month, but not in the ways I originally thought it would be. For starters, I totally edited my list mid-month. that doesn’t mean I didn’t get a ton accomplished. it just means that after working, and re-working my goal list I found other ways to do what I originally plan. So, let’s check in with my monthly goals for July.

July Goals:

-Edit The Alpha’s Dream

-Format The Alpha’s Dream for Barnes and Noble and Smashwords

-New Premise/Outline

-Begin work on Second Release…again

 

So, the nitty gritty. I accomplished most of this exactly as stated here. The Alpha’s Dream has been edited, by me again. However. I need a real editor. I love my book, but I also know my book. I’m just not sure that I’ve polished it as well as it could be.  The formatting for Smashwords is nearly complete. Anyone whose gone through this process knows how particular Smashwords is about their formatting. I don’t want any vetting errors once I get it done. So, I’m taking my time. The Barnes and Noble edit, is not even in the works.

Here is why.

Originally, I was going to remove The Alpha’s Dream from KDP Select. It was my plan to then release it on other platforms, starting first with B&N and Smashwords. After some consideration, I decided not to remove it. For three more months, The Alpha’s Dream will be an Amazon exclusive. I plan to release it on other platforms eventually, but I think I’m going to wait a bit. Amazon has been good to me. I love watching those page reads climb.

Back to the list. New premise and outline is created. I actually have two great premises that I am really proud of in the fleshed. I’m excited to start working on them, but I went back to my original premise for my second release.

I thought about it. I wrote those great new premises. I was so thrilled to sit down and write on them. And then, my original second release started to call me. I knew it should come next. I wanted it to come next and I didn’t want to abandon it. A stubborn hero was not going to get the best of me. So, I buckled down. Decided to be a professional and get back to work on my originally premise. I even wrote a blog post about it here.

Overall, I would say it has been a great month for my work. In addition to doing what I planned, I also added a few things. Namely, taking my brand more seriously, narrowing my blog focus (again), and re committing myself to  a weekly work count goal.

I am swimming against the current, but I’m still swimming.

How’d you do on your July goals? Why don’t you let me know below.

Joy

 

Time to be a professional.

We’ve already established that my work in progress hasn’t been kind. Turns out, it doesn’t matter.

I’ve never been a fan of forcing a story. Ever. Ultimately what happens for me is that my characters become resentful and clam up. They don’t talk. They don’t want to answer any of my questions and refuse to cooperate in any progressive form.

That is exactly what is happening with my current work in progress.

A while ago, I established that I was looking to start over on a new project in order to let my preferred work in progress rest. It didn’t want to be written as illustrated by the numerous false starts. In theory, pulling back would free up my head for other great stories, In reality, no.

I have about three finished and outlined premises so it isn’t a matter of determining what to write. Instead, it is a battle of what wants to be written. This is a common problem for authors, artist. All day, I swim in ideas and narrowing one down is a war between ease and timing.

My current work in progress naturally comes next. Therefore, nothing else I think to work on will do. I tried to convince myself to be fine with the change, and nothing is working. So, its time to be a professional.

I’m going back to my original story.

I don’t know if this is a good idea yet. I’m stuck in neutral about whether or not I will have a product I love at the end of this. One thing stands out in my mind. I am not writing simply for the pleasure of it anymore. This is my career.

In order for me to accomplish the dreams I have sat for myself, I have to push against my stubborn hero and find a way to bribe him into talking. My heroine deserves that. She is ready and willing to take the journey and I won’t give up on her just yet.

So, it is back to the drawing board. So help me God, even if its only five hundred words a day I am going to get this man to discuss his life with me. Eventually, he will see that I am right or fall in love. I’m down for whichever happens first.

Any great ideas you’ve been struggling to bring to light? Tell me about it below.

Joy.

 

5 Roles Friends Have Taken On in Support of My Dreams

Whenever I am developing characters for my book, I always look to my myriad of friends. They are a constant source of inspiration. Doing so brings me face to face to the specific positions my friends hold in my life.
I love my tribe. They are as varied as they are loving. Our complicated histories intertwine in all the best ways and surely without them I would be less of the woman I am today. To be clear, most of them hold more than one role in my life. Even here they take on more than one trait, but for the purposes of this blog I’ll assign them only one.

This post is an homage to the grace they’ve brought to my life. It is by no means an exhaustive accounting of the roles they have played, just he roles they’ve played most often. In some ways, all of these roles overlap. They’ve all been different things to me at different points in my life. It is only now, as I sit with thoughts of growth and continuous change that I dwell on those who remained steadfast and present in my life. The twisting turns of my path have always brought me back to them and their unending love. I honor that today.

Here are the five roles and the friends who most often hold them in my life. Here is how they’ve made me great.

 

The Motivator, Latasha Weatherspoon

All great dreams need some action to make them real. Since I’m prone to introspection and often succumb to the spiraling of negative thoughts, Latasha has been an intricate part in encouraging me to pull myself out. Despite being almost complete opposites we’ve shared similar backgrounds. Our lives have  paralleled in curious ways during our fourteen year friendship.

She is a source of inspiration, and often sends me Youtube clips, scriptures, and other insightful works to help keep me motivated. No matter the time of day, I know she’s available to talk me through my funk and get me back on course toward my vision. She is truly a person living her purpose. Having founded The Lifted Lifestyle, an empowerment movement, Latasha continues to expand her own visions. She pushes any who comes to her events, workshops to look past their perceived shortcomings and instead focus on their goals.

Every Dream builder needs someone in their circle like Latasha. The path of entrepreneurship is long and sometimes arduous. Having someone close whom you trust and who believes in your vision for your life is critical.  Be selective in assembling your tribe, and keep a motivator around.

The Fellow Dreamer, Stephanie Harper

Full of silliness, this one. If there is a joke to be told, a story needing dramatic affects, or an outrageous plan to be hatched Steph is there somewhere. Another lengthy friendship that has proven priceless to my life. We’ve grown  would be women to actual women together and one thing remains the same. We are the dreamers

Stephanie is another one of my friends who is constantly expanding the reaches of her ideal life. She is always available to throw ideas back and forward. Discussing the logistics of my plans with her has become one of the calling cards of our friendship. She is the voice that forces me to answer how I am going to execute my dreams. The fluff won’t do here. She wants my plans, and challenges me to be more than just optimistic. if I am not proactively pursuing those things I say I want, she calls me on it every time while still encouraging me to take time for myself when I need it.

The dreamer is the perfect compliment to the motivator as they are the ones who push encourage limitless creation. The greater the vision, the more difficult it can be to narrow down the tiny details that will make it work. A fellow dreamer knows that the bigger picture needs to be broken down into smaller pieces and built back up. All creators should surround themselves with others who create and are aware of the risks being taken to live out a dream.

The Critical Eye, Sondi Warner

My sister. We’ve been together all our lives. She is a writer herself and has carved out her place as an exceptional ghostwriter. Though she is my younger sister, her love affair with writing began well before mine. Her ability to weave a compelling story is awe inspiring. Because of this, I trust her implicitly with my work. She sees the holes I don’t see. Has a quick and driving writing style. I trust her voice. Often, I take my work to her for the feedback she gives.

I think what makes her presence so important to me (besides us being siblings) is because I admire her work. We share a love of writing and think critically about how  our work will be received. Her attention to detail, analysis of plot, and foresight for problematic areas in my work is something people pay thousands for. When I don’t go to her for an assessment, it shows in my work. Little details that she would have questioned me on glare back in the reviews of my work.

Whatever your dream, there should be someone you trust who’s critical eye can make your work stronger. This may be a sibling as in my case, but it almost doesn’t matter how they’ve come to your life. What matters is that they are invested in your dream because you are and when asked  they are willing to say the hard things to help you polish your work.

The Diversion, James Welch

Sculpter. Poet. Stencil Artist. James’ skills as an artist are only overshadowed by his open heart and the humble spirit. He is busy living his most authentic life and still makes time for me and my tomfoolery. His heart is pure and welcoming. He loves that I write, but he doesn’t always want to talk about my work. Perfect. Yes, please! I don’t always want to talk about my work.

We find common ground in knowing we are both making sacrifices to live out our dreams. We follow each others work, offer encouragement, and seek to see each other succeed. However, when we have the time to chat it up, work is only a side note in our lengthy conversations. I love him for being a normalizing spirit in my life. I love that he believes in my work and doesn’t feel the need to make me define it every time we speak. Instead, he wants to talk about my darlings, our lovers, and life in general.

On a day when everything has been hectic while trying to give bones to my vision, it feels great to have someone to decompress with. It is important. Having some separation from work is a form of self-care. James makes sure that I am doing just that. I know he supports me being writer, but mostly he supports me as his friend. Surround yourself with people who not only believe in the value of your dream, but also your value. They will be there whether things fly and/or fail.

The Silent Partner, Clifford B. Young

Eleven years and counting. We’ve seen the best and worst of each other. We’ve weathered false starts, failed attempts, and unforgiving consequences with each other. We’ve built a life with each other that in a lot of ways is not enviable. Yet, we thrive.

For those wo know eyes, silent hardly seems to fit  my husband. By nature, he is gregarious and a storyteller in his own right. He is full of wild tales, most true. When it comes to me and my work, he is the quiet reassurance that I have what I need to get it right.

There isn’t a person in this world who has more faith in me then him. I love him for that, and so many other reasons. My darling rarely ever gives me advice on my work. He’s the one who hears all of my crazy premises before they can become anything. He is the one who advocates for me, pushes my work, and stands back to give me room to blossom. He wants for me what I want for myself and does what he can to smooth the way for me.

His presence as someone who is committed to build my brand with me and still gives me room to pick the direction has proven time and again to be just what I needed. He trusts that I know what I want and walks with me through the processes of my development. I have a lifetime to thank him for all he does.

I am eternally grateful for the presence of these people in my life. All of them are creates, writers, and other mediums. They know me well, they love me hard, and I know they want what is best for me and my dreams. I don’t know that I would have accomplished as much as I have, or even dreamed as big as I have without them. I hope you’ve found these people in your life as well and I hope they make their way into your writing.

What are some of the roles friends have played in your dream building. Comment below.

Joy.

 

5 Hero Types I Fall For Everytime

My current book bae is Demitrius of Elisabeth Naughton ‘s Eternal Guardian Series. If you haven’t heard of the series you can get your copy here. Without any spoilers, I’ll tell you that Demitrious is tormented, smolderingly sexy, and completely impossible. Not my real life type ( except for the smolderingly sexy part. 😉 ), but definitely book bae material.

After repeatedly swooning of the striking Argonaut, it got me thinking about popular hero tropes. With hero’s (and heroines too for that matter) coming in so many forms,  would I ever have a true favorite? The answer is no. After trying to nail one down I decided I didn’t have to choose. I could love them all in their intricate forms. However, I did narrow down my favorite hero types. These boys/ men have never failed to get my heart thumping mad in my chest, and my cheeks in a heated blush. I’m sharing my favorite types here.

  1. The Unforgettable Ex :

You know the type. He was pulled from our heroine’s life by some tragic event or menial fight and suddenly resurfaces. The moment he does, our heroine is stumbling over herself to determine if they should attempt Happily Ever After again. Bless.  He is always determined to prove they should be together. He’s had time to consider life without our heroine and found  no one else whets his palate quite like her. The satisfaction of watching them work through their issues and find a steady rhythm into love is swoon worthy romance. If only they could all end that way.

2. The Protector:

He’s the one called in when no one else can do the job. It starts off completely professional, then turns lust filled and finally he’s head over heels for the very woman he’s supposed to  protect. He is all business, but she melts his heart with her vulnerability and even when she would rather not, her need for him. The moment she decides she trusts him with her  life is his shinning moment. It is so damsel in distress, but when done well it empowers them both. He does his job, and our heroine realizes that her vulnerability is not the same as being weak. they live happily ever after.  His strength, strengthens our heroine. She is even more of her self because he refuses to let anything hurt her. It is a beautiful  thing to have someone who take the blows for you. I love him.

3. The “Mistake”:

They were never supposed to be anything, but there was something about this one night stand, passing fling or whatever he was that turns everything on its head.  Suddenly, the bad boy she never should have been with is all our heroine can think of. When she finally allows herself to see him as potentially more, their lives open up. His resistance to the idea is the first to openly crumble. She’s unforgettable in the best ways and he doesn’t want to walk away. Maybe it isn’t forever (except it always is), but he doesn’t want things to end like they are.  I love how he walks the line and plays his roles until our heroine is ready for him to be more. Then, it is full steam ahead as he pursues her. She just can’t resist.

4. The Tormented Redeemer:

He has a torrid past and he doesn’t want to talk about it. Women are a nuisance for him as  he resets his life. He doesn’t want to fall in love, let alone fall in love with her. But, he does. At which time he does everything he can to turn his back on what he knows is growing in him . He is protecting her from himself, but she doesn’t want to be protected from him. She wants his good, bad, and his ugly. He can’t fathom that she will actually be able to handle all that he is. Suddenly, there is nothing to hold back. She knows the truth. He is shocked by our heroines ability to stomach what he has hated most about himself. Now, he wants nothing more than to keep her close and he will do whatever she needs to prove it.  I like a flawed character who learns to forgive themselves for the sake of love, and the tormented redeemer is definitely that.

5. The Consummate Bachelor:

He is a professional. Loves his comfortable life and has his pick of women when he wants someone to bed. He isn’t looking for love. He isn’t interested in long-term. It is casual and sexy relationships or none at all. Until her. First, she is someone to be conquered. He wants to prove to himself that he can have her like all the others, but she has heard about him. Our heroine refuses to be another notch in his belt even if he does occupy all of her thoughts. The longer it takes to gain her attention, and trust, the more hopelessly in love he falls. She isn’t like the others, and her differentness is everything he needs. His instincts say resist. Get in and get out, but he can’t. After their first night together, his mind is blown and no one else would do.

Then, the life he’s enjoyed is lackluster. His taste has changed and only she can supply what he needs. In order for her to take him seriously, he has to change his bachelor ways and there is no better reason than her eternal love.

Swoon. I love them. I love them all. It watching them transform into the men their lovers need is so heavenly. Maybe it is the power of love and how it reveals us to ourselves. Whatever it is, these five hero types always get me going. Their transformations serve as proof that everyone can become their best selves with the right motivations.

Maybe it’s just the hopeless romantic in me that wants this to be true. I wouldn’t know, I’ve been married to my forever bae for nearly eleven years now. But I have hope for you beauties out there still looking. What’s your favorite hero type? Have you met him yet? Let me know in the comments.

Joy.

5 Ways Failure Has Motivated (and heightened) My Goals

Let’s get the ugly truth out-of-the-way. Not only is failure not fun, it can be completely life-altering and no one escapes unscathed.

I have a tendency to measure my life in failed attempts, which as an entrepreneur can be –whew. Let’s say disheartening. There isn’t a part of me that doesn’t reel in anxiety and/or shame when thinking about some of the great ideas that have died under my fumbling. After years of sleepless nights replaying past leaps at greatness I decided I’d had enough. I had to do things differently. The how/ why is another post for another time. Today, I want to talk about what it was about my shortcomings that made immune to the fear of failing again. So, here are the five ways that my past failure have motivated me to work harder, and strive for even greater goals.

1.The worse that could happen…did.

I’m not gonna spill all my tea here. I will however make it simple. There was a specific year where my world as I knew it collapsed around me. Not the pretty little,  made for tv movie where everything falls apart and by some fluke of honey coated writing it’s put back together again. Hell no. This was catastrophic. Everything I’d struggled to build and hold on to came to a complete and utter public free fall. When the smoke cleared and I was able to survey what survived, the remains were barely noticeable.

There is nothing more eye-opening (and heartbreaking) than  sifting through the rubble of your life.

Not everything could be saved. The things that were saved barely resembled themselves or were never the same. Everything was broken…including me. In the face of my most private fears being exposed, I had nowhere to hide. Those closest to me tried to help, but some lessons don’t allow room for those who have never been through it.

There was nothing I could do to prevent the fallout or prepare for it. Unexpectedly life forced me to sink or swim. For a long time, I simply waited to drown. One morning, I realized this wasn’t the way I was going to die. So, I didn’t. I started to tread water, then doggy paddle, and finally in the deepest water I’ve ever been thrown in, I swam. It was new life and I had no idea what was going to come from it.

When (one of) the worst things that could have happened to me did, I realized that fear didn’t stop it. Suddenly, everything else was less frightening. The monster under my bed had revealed itself so the skeletons in my closest couldn’t terrify me any longer.

2. Fear of openly failing became the least of my concern.

I am naturally cautious. Actually, that is probably the understatement of my life. In the past I was crippled by caution, by fear that at the moment I was closest to what I wanted, I would fall. Often I did. We can talk about self-fulfilling prophecies and such. It wouldn’t have mattered then. The death grip fear had on my life did not allow much room for leaps of faith.  If I couldn’t predict the outcome, it wasn’t worth the risk. My heart heavy, I walked away from several experiences that would have enriched my life. I held on to things/relationship/habits that worked against my goals because they were familiar. (Devil you know and such.) I didn’t have the tools to access the danger ahead and proceed anyway.

After the worst happened, my fears of being empty-handed came to a head. Being cautious, living at the mercy of fear had not protected me. It had not kept me safe or left me unbothered. Keeping my head down, attempting to not ruffle any feathers, and going unnoticed had not saved me. Of course it didn’t. Living in fear is not about being safe, it is about being  controlled. Restrained. When I learned that fear was not my protector, but my prison, I began to understand what harm I was doing to me life.

I had to choose whether I would stay in my prison or escape. I choose to escape.

It was a fumbling mess in the beginning. It still is some days, but now I just don’t care. Okay, I’m lying. I do care. I still struggle to keep thoughts of failure from preventing me from going after my goals. The difference is  I know now that being afraid is not the same as being safe. I have dreams to go after. I have things I want to accomplish that take me far out of my comfort zone. Things  that shake me up, could uproot my life, and permanently change everything I know to be true about myself. I’ve already had that happen. I know how heartbreaking and uncomfortable it is, but growth is not comforting.

3. Growing from my failures made me expand my vision for my life.

When everything changes, everything changes. I have always been a dreamer. I have created entire worlds in my head that I would slip into whenever reality was too harsh to bear. It is my defense mechanism still. I taught myself how to hide in plain sight, and then I realized I couldn’t live in my refuge. I had to grow up. I had to let go of somethings that fed my fear if I was going to survive my personal tragedy. It wasn’t going to be easy.

I didn’t even recognize some of the baggage I’d picked up over the years. So I had no reference point for who to return it too. However, it was uninvited from my party. I was leaving my old life behind and if I couldn’t carry on, I wasn’t checking no bags. Yes, that is grammatically incorrect and a double negative. Bear with me. The positive to come from this was that I had to pack light and only hold on to what I could carry. Loneliness, fear, doubt, low self-esteem, all of these things (and many more) were too heavy to take with me. What was left was hope, faith, love, grace and mercy.  With those things, I began to put my life back together.

I had to be honest with myself about what I wanted to make of my life.

I couldn’t short sell myself anymore. I couldn’t secretly believe it wouldn’t happen. Instead of wishing for a better life, I had to establish what that better life would look like. How I intended to get there, who I wanted there with me, and what I would do to maintain it all begged to be defined. I want to write for a living became and constant search and conversations with people who did write for a living.  I couldn’t be my introverted self. I had to find people who were living parts of the life I wanted and ask them how they did it. Then, I had to do it too.

I’ve tried a lot of things while pulling together my method for the life I wanted. It isn’t perfect, and it isn’t quite there yet. It is coming along though. With every emboldened layer, I filled the voids in my life. I found my voice, became my best advocate and went in search of all the things I wanted.

4. Failing big made me invincible and limitless.

I want to own minimum one hundred acres of land. I want my primary home to be at least 2,500 square feet. I want to be a NYT and USA Today bestselling author. I want a minimum of two of my original works optioned for the small screen and at least one optioned for a big screen film. I want a backlist of over thirty novels and an undecided number of short works.

I will have all my hearts dream, because I work hard and have faith.

Annnnnddddd, because even if I fail again I won’t be intimidated. The best thing that came for the worst thing is that I am now either too stubborn or too foolish to give up on what I want. That list above…is the short list. The running list is between me and God. I know who I am when things fall apart. I know where my faith lies. I know that where I fall short, God provides. I know that if I work hard and fail everyday there will be something I can use in the rubble. I know how to put the pieces back together. I know that if all I have is what I can carry I can turn that into a new life.

Failing is not the death it was for me. Failing is the beginning of the life I want for myself.

Once that happened, I knew fear of falling on my face would never cripple me again. I am not too scarred to take the risk. I can own the bad decisions, the ill-advised choices, and the deep twist and turns life takes me on. It was more frightening to not try than if someone saw me attempt it and fail.

It is amazing what one can do when she has nothing to lose.

5. I realized that what I had to gain was worth the risk I would have to take.

The life that I want to share with my husband, with our children is one that demands I take some bold steps. Risks are  a natural part of  transitioning from being a dreamer into a doer.  Knowing what I know now is the strength I bring to my life. All I have to do is go after it. Yes. I could fail again. Now, I have broadened the audience who would see me fail. If it happens on the scale it has before, it will be a shattering experience. Yet, I persist.

I am worth the numerous false starts because it leads to a great finish. My family is worth the struggle now because it means we with thrive later. When my little darlings grow up, they will have spent their lives seeing their father and I  work hard for them. They will have seen the struggle of going after ones dreams and the value of it. They will know what it means to go for something that doesn’t have an immediate pay out and stick with it until it does.

My failings now have become fuel for the bigger picture of my life. They are part of my story, of my testimony. They make me brave. I have failed, but I am not a failure. It does not define me.

Going forward, I am sure I will have to remind myself of some of this on bleak days. I’m willing to do that. I know how to knuckle down and tread water until i can swim in it. I know how to keep my eyes on salvation and the shore.

So I push and I believe that no matter how things fall apart, they will fall into place again.

None of us are exempt from failure. How are you defeating your fear of failing to expand your life? Comment below with your baby steps and grand plans.

 

Joy.

 

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July Goals Updated

I hope your Independence day was filled with reflections and immense gratitude. I know mine was.

There is something about counting my blessings that makes me even more determined to be worthy of them. I’m working hard, and making a lot of changes. There will always be more work to do, but as always I’m up to the challenge. Up to the challenge…such an awesome cliché. And so true.

This July I am working on quite a few things. There are a few voids in my life that I am laying the foundation to fill. So this will be a busy month. It is time to step out of the mommy haze and live in the reality that I have no time anymore or rather even less time.

I’m grateful for purposeful busyness (even when I would rather be sleeping in or bathing alone or eating without interruption). I’m working on ensure that my time is spent well, and being comfortable if that means I don’t have any “me time”. Everything for the greater good of those I love and the life we want.

In July, I plan to get back to my regularly scheduled program. I’m officially recovered. My darlings are adjusting nicely  to their new sibling and all is well with the hubby and I. Now, I the business of writer must become a high priority again. Since I’ve already established that my current WIP isn’t cooperating, I have even more work cut out for me in July. So, getting down to business, here are my July goals

July Goals

-Upload second edition of The Alpha’s Dream with Edit

-Format The Alpha’s Dream for Barnes and Noble and Smashwords

-Decide on a new premise, outline

-Begin writing my second book … again.

 

I’m determine to release another book this year and it’s important that I am realistic about my time. So, its back to the grind of getting the work done. I’ll keep you involved as much as possible. Maybe I’ll even give you a sneak peek when I get started. 🙂 What are your July goals? Comment below.

 

Joy

 

 

 

My Work In Progress isn’t Working.

I’ve started my second release. It doesn’t want to cooperate.

After taking some postpartum time away, I started a realistic pace back to writing. I had the perfect premise. The outline created a seemingly effortless rhythm. I thought I would be able to slip into the swing of things without much more than normal effort.

I was dead wrong.

Not only has it been like trying to herd ants to create a consistent writing schedule again, it has been like trying to thread cotton candy through a rice strainer to get the words to flow.

This is a problem. Of course, you know that.

I’ve been struggling to get to the bottom of  my difficulty. I believed for a long time it was just because I’m distracted with motherhood. My little  darlings are wonderful, but they are also little and motherhood is not a job I want to slack at. (Though sometimes I still do.) What I noticed, is that even with my darlings pre-occupied with their father, my computer in cooperative mode, and my focus on the story things still weren’t coming.

To be clear, this doesn’t feel like writers block. Instead, it feels like a timing problem. The story I want to write isn’t ready to be written. This totally sucks vinegar Popsicles. I have several premises and outlines created. I have in my head, a particular order. My second work in progress was intentionally chosen.  For it to choose this moment to be disruptive is just completely and utterly disrespectful. But it’s difficult to punish a manuscript. So, instead of a sharp reprimand, my focus must turn to redeeming the lost writing time.

So, what do I do about it?

The easy answer is move on to one of my other premises. Surely, there is something that is ready to be written. So far, I have four beautiful premises in various stages of not being written. Again, vinegar popsicle.

 

I take a deep breath. It’s time to be a professional. I could force the writing of one of the other manuscripts. Inspiration is a luxury. In order for me to hit the timelines I’ve set as my goal I have to get to work on my second release despite it not being what I want.

I start again. From scratch. I’ve decided to shelf my initial plan and make room for the stories that do want to come. It will take a little time and I hate the anxiety it builds in me, but ultimately it will be a better story.

I love all of the characters I have currently fleshed. When I get to them, I want to tell their stories right. I want to do their lives justice by being open to their voices, letting them choose their behaviors, and allowing their lives to truly take form. I won’t force them to come to me until they are ready.

When I start again, I’ll drop you guys a line to let you know how perfect it feels. Until then, cross your fingers and eat a piece of chocolate  in solidarity for me. I might not make it out of this unscathed.

Do you have any plans that have ben temporarily postpone? How does that alter your goals? Fill me in through the comment section.

Joy.

Writers Read (or at least they should)

I’ve barely touched my summer reading list and I have to do better.

I love reading as much as I love writing. Lately, it seems that I have to pick between the two. Between my little darlings, my forever lover, and writing I don’t have much time to dive into a great book. It hasn’t mattered how interested I am in what I am reading. Time is expensive and I have to be careful how I spend it.

The thing is, part of how I became so enamored with writing is by being charmed from the pages of great writers. The two go hand in hand. One needs the other to thrive and so on. So, this summer, as I began settling into the latest twist in motherhood I decided I’d bit the bullet. I would make a summer reading list and stick to it. One by one, I would work my way through my favorite authors and some new ones until I hit my goal. So far, I’ve only finished one of the twelve books I plan to get to this summer.

It’s an ambitious undertaking for me. I’m reading during naps, during bathroom breaks, while my lover is driving us to and fro. It feels chaotic, but still enjoyable. The books remaining on my list promise to be the same way. I’m hopeful, because as I said before time is expensive. I’m sure I would have a little resentment if I wasted any on a bad book. I want to enjoy them all. I want to reach my summer goal. It is going to be tough.

While reading, I find myself dancing between both worlds. I’m a fan enjoying a book and an author learning from it. It is such an odd thing to feel. Authors I’ve read for years have taken on new forms for me. Every author is distinctive. Word choice, ideas, and methods at approaching old tropes all take twisting forms. I love it.

Reading as an author makes me feel like Lois Lane must have felt learning Clark Kent was superman. I see their magnificent author super powers and I am in awe and familiar. I’ve known them forever and now this trick is unveiled and twist makes so much more sense. When I return to my own writing, my stories take on more depth, become more fluid, and it’s easier to determine what details are truly critical.

It is my belief that all writers should read. I find that with each book I crack open, it pushes me from my comfort zone. I’m not the one driving. I’m a passenger onboard to an unknown destination. There is so much more to see.

I’m committed to twelve books this summer as a fan of great books and an author. I’m committed to the lessons I will learn about character development, fluidity, plot twists, and the enjoyment I get from a delicious finish. I’m committed to the influence those I admire will have on my work.

When I am meet my goals for the summer, I will let you know. In the meantime, if you have a good recommendation drop it in the comments.

 

Joy

Alpha’s Dream and the Marketing Dilemma

In a world of niche marketing the question remains. Where do I fit in?

It seems simple enough to answer, but I’ve found it increasingly difficult to pick sides for my first release.

The Alpha’s DreamThe Alpha’s Dream is exceeding my expectations. Despite its meager written reviews, the Kindle Unlimited page reads and books purchased assures me that my work is being read.  The numbers look good, better than any of my pseudonym work, and despite my previous doubts I’m confident that my audience is there. I’m proud of it. To see the work taking a life all its own and building momentum is something I’d hoped for. It is encouraging.

As I said before, just because I’ve finished writing doesn’t mean the work is done. It isn’t. The marketing is just as important a part of self-publishing as writing well. Great books die from lack of exposure.  If The Alpha’s Dream is to have perpetual life, then I must ride the waves of my momentum through well chosen marketing strategies.

One method that most authors have found particularly successful is direct marketing. The way it works includes platforms like Bookbub, Booksends, Bookdaily, and other ebook to inbox services. Readers sign-up with an email address for free. They are then prompted to choose the genres they enjoy reading. Everyday, the service will then send books that are free or discounted directly to the provided email and in accordance to the genre’s selected.

For a nominal fee authors can apply for a spot on the mailing lists. Some of the platforms are simple sign-ups while others have strict requirements. Most only allow one identifying genre and they are priced accordingly.

Marketing this ways is a preferred method because of the reach of these mailing lists. The readers have chosen the service and the genres they enjoy. They aren’t spammed with unsolicited newsletters or emails about books they don’t have the slightest interest in.

The service allows maximum exposure for authors to those who enjoy our genre without us having to individually track them down or worse “hope” they find us in the book pit that is Amazon. The one on one contact is a great way to expand into the book scope of our preferred demographic and offers a surge in the possibility of gaining a fan as well as possible sales. Great, right? Brilliant to be exact.

Here is my problem, The Alpha’s Dream is an African- American Werewolf Shifter Romance. So, where is the check mark for that one? Anybody? No. Right.

So here I have these incredible platforms for services I would have to pay for and I am struggling to determine which genre would best identify my work. My audience is both African-American romance readers and Alpha Wolf Shifter (Paranormal)  romance readers. Obviously there is some overlap. The struggle in  picking sides doesn’t come from not realizing this. The apprehension about which to choose comes from an attempt to include my entire audience in one marketing sweep. There is an intense feeling I’m neglecting some readers in order to pursue others.

In some ways, this is an irrational fear. Ultimately, whether or not this should even be a battle I have with myself is irrelevant. One marketing campaign at a time, I must pick a side.

Choosing is never easy.

The Alpha’s Dream is just one representation of that. However, at some point we all must buck up and pick which side best explains our position. Time and time again this surfaces in my life and I assume many others. What remains true is that there will always be a point where we or what we believe is “both”. Deciding to choose “neither” will be a futile decision.

Standing still will never move you forward.

In choosing progress, I weigh my odds and embrace the strongest identity. The Alpha’s Dream is still ” both”, but for marketing purposes it is African- American romance. It has not lessened by being sorted.

In order to become what we are meant, sometimes we must make the hard choice of defining ourselves even when one answer won’t do. If that means that someone will be missed, then so be it. Maybe, it just wasn’t their time to join the fold anyway.

What are some identities you’ve had to choose between? Comment below with how things worked out.

Joy.