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.

 

 

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.

 

#JuneGoals : My June author goals and the larger picture.

I’m living a new normal. I honor that with my determination.

My vision for my life has changed over the years, but probably none more than this year. With every new challenge I face,  I reconcile that my time is not my own. Every minute is borrowed from something ( someone) precious to me. I know that and it forces efficiency from my time. I’ve accomplished a lot on a personal front this year. I’m growing as an author/writer on a professional front. There is so much for which I still hope.

No matter what alters my personal life, I can’t forget that I am an author.  My new life is more time consuming and burst at the seams with joy, but there is still much to do as I build my career/dream. I have to work hard, and smart or else all the things I’ve been working toward thus far will be in vain.

I’m building.  My work as an author is only one piece of the puzzle. The ultimate goal is to use it as a cornerstone toward financial security. I owe it to my shifter mate for all he’s done for me and to my littles for all they give me. It is the least I can do.

To work smarter, I must work within my limits and keep my eyes peeled for the right opportunity to push further. I’ve altered my June author goals to reflect this belief. I have taken some of my own advice in the  editing of my goals as I get back to “normal”.  I’m giving myself the summer to wobble, but only the summer.

In my wobbling, there are still some things I have to accomplish. I want to publish two more full length novels before the year is out. Not to mention,  at least two shorts for fun. I still have a ton to learn from a marketing stand point, and my ultimate goal is to hit the best seller mark.  I’m a dreamer at heart. Keeping this running tab of my years goals is helping me to remain present in my pursuits. It is not an easy task for me.

Piece by piece, I build my creative life and I’m thrilled watching it transform.

Having this monthly break-down of goals helps me to manage what I want in a realistic way. So here are my author goal milestones for June. Every task completed strengthens the foundation of my dream and I can’t lose focus now.

June Author Goal List

Title Brainstorming for Second Release

25,000 words on second release

Evaluation of Second Release date

Choose a new editor

Third round of marketing for The Alpha’s Dream

New responsibilities require adjustment. If I find that I can do more than my projected word count then I will. It is important that I move the bar for myself as often as possible. Pushing the limits of what I know I am capable of is only going to make me stronger, better at channeling my abilities. It doesn’t matter that I am figuring it out as I go. It only matters that I am willing to wobble and still pursue my vision.

What about you? What are your June steps toward your years goals? Comment below with your summer plans.

Joy.

#AprilAccomplished

Aprils is out of here. You know after deciding, to reset on some of my goals, this has been my most successful month yet.

It was a hard decision to drop the migrated book goals that I had, but it was necessary. As I drew closer to the release of The Alpha’s Dream and the coming birth of my third little one, I had to be honest about my time. A very tough thing to face is knowing that I still want to get those things accomplished, but don’t have a specific timeline for them.

I will have to figure out something, because I’ve already started mapping out my  next release. More updates on that later.

So, here is a goal gut check for the month of April. I’ll tell you exactly how I did.

April Goal List:

-Format The Alpha’s Dream

-Decide on Amazon Exclusivity

-Pick New Release Date for Second Draft

-Execute Phase #2 of Marketing

I completely dismissed all of my migrated goals.

Like I said, it’s been a pretty successful month. I got to everything on this list even though some of the things accomplished were in a more abbreviated fashion.  To break down the list, everything got done. I formatted the Alpha’s Dream after getting it to the Editor. It didn’t make it back in time, so there was a little mix-up with the pre-orders. Alas, all is well. I decided on a release date for my second release, but I’m not going to disclose that yet. When I decide whether release number two will be an  short or a full length release, I will give you all the details.

The hardest thing on the list was deciding on Amazon Exclusivity. For this release, I have decided on the exclusivity.  I struggled with that decision as I would like to make my releases as available as possible. It makes more sense to expand to other platforms and once the three month exclusivity clause of Amazon is up, that is exactly what I plan to do. At this moment, it simply felt like a better choice to exclusively publish on Amazon.  As I grow my book list, we will see what happens next.

The final thing on the list, e xecuting marketing phase two is an ongoing process. Yes, I have begun to work out the kinks of my marketing plan, but it isn’t something that simply ends at a certain point. I’m constantly evaluating what I am doing and working to expand my reach. One of the things I’ve done of late is to set up my author Pinterest account. You can see it here. For visuals of the heroine and hero muses I use to model my characters after and writing resources I find crucial to my process, follow my boards.

I’m proud of the work I have been able to accomplish. My goals are super important if I will end the year the way I plan too. I know your goals are important too. Leave me a comment about some of the ways you’ve managed to stay on track. And, tune in next week for what my May goal list brings!

Joy

#marketingmayhem

Being an author has many layers. It is easy to imagine the creative process is something most of us enjoy. However, it is not the only process that must be addressed. Particularly in cases like mine where the all facets of writing and publishing fall on my shoulders.

Almost three years ago now I started a small self publishing company called Moody Writer Publishing, LLC. There have been a few titles published under my little label and ultimately I’m proud of its minor success.

As I made the decision to  finally publish my own work, there is one thing that has remained to be true. It doesn’t matter the work. It doesn’t matter how many long hours or how much love or how great the book is that is produced. What determines sales is how well it is marketed!

For most authors, this means starting to build an audience well before the first word is even written. It means long hours on social media, and popping into groups, and any other forms that could prove to be beneficial in even minute ways.

The author platform is to be taken seriously, because cutting right through the love of the art is the realization that it is work.

Writing is a business. Even those who write as a hobby know that if they want more than their family and close friends to read it they must save some energy for marketing their work.

This is precisely where I am. In truth, I’ve been editing and revising my marketing plan for The Alpha’s Dream since its inception. I’m still clumsy about it. I have no idea if the methods I am using will work, but in business you do what must be done.

Right now, I’ve limited the companies that I will work with until I can see what results will come. As a family of soon to be three children, my husband and I have to be extra critical of how we spend our income. There is no room for waste.

Everyone knows that what you can’t pay for in money, you pay for in time. Marketing  for The Alpha’s Dream has proven that to be true over and over again. The fact that I have to limit the work that I outsource doesn’t mean that it doesn’t need to get done. It only means that I have to do it for myself. The late nights have not ended with editing .  Instead of staying up to write that last chapter, or edit that last paragraph, I am sending out arc copies and blasting other blogs.

When you have a small publishing company, you are essentially self-publishing. I am my own PR person. I am my own secretary, hype woman, beta reader, first tier editor, and somewhere in there the author too.  Self-published authors are always at work.

It would be easier to take my polished manuscript and send it off to publishing companies and imprints and just wait for someone to pick me up. It’s a strong, and beautiful romance novel. I have faith in it and that is exactly why I do the hard work.

I hate marketing.  I hate the business of writing. The courting and researching, and logistics of sales are taxing on my introverted, right brain, and creative heart. However, I am more determined to be successful than I am to have it easy. So, I put in work.

When you see The Alpha’s Dream blitzing everywhere, know that’s just me being extra for my dream.

Joy.

 

 

#AprilShowers

I have to say, I’m not upset that it feels like this year is breezing by us.  I have a little bit of an added incentive to rush some, because in May I will be welcoming my third little love. I’m only hoping for healthy happy baby. So every month brings me a little closer to that reality.

In other news. April is super important as The Alpha’s Dream will be released later this month. So many things are still left to be done, and here are the ones I will get to expressly before the release. Plus, updates on any migrated goals.

April Goal List:

-Format The Alpha’s Dream

-Decide on KDP Select Exclusivity

-Pick New Release Date for Second Project

-Execute Promotion Phase 2

Migrated Goals:

-Send The Alpha’s Dream to the Editor

-Complete Shifter Shorts

-Finish Second Novella

I should be more upset about not finishing the novella and the shorts than I am. The truth is very simple, I overestimated what my time would be like while completing edits. At this point, I have to take them off my list. They will be added at some point after baby is here and settled, but I’m not going to pressure myself to have them  done a minute before hand.

While dream building and executing, it is important to know your limits. Give every goal on your lists your best shot, but understand when things are beyond your control. Those books just got away from me. So, I will reset and get back on it. After my second full release, I will reevaluate.

How have your goals been going? Are you hitting them all or just barely getting by? Leave a comment below.

Joy

#MarchRevisited

March was a busy month. I’m running behind schedule as seems to be the story of my life, but still there was a lot to get done and even more as April flies into view. So let’s get an update on what my March goals were and see where we ended the month.

March Goal List:

-Send off First Newsletter

-Send The Alpha’s Dream to the Editor

-Build up my ARC Lists

-Execute Phase #1 of my Marketing Plan

Migrated Goals:

-Finish Second Novella

-Write/Edit 2 Shifter Shorts

So here are the updates.  The list is still long. I successfully created my newsletter, but have not sent even one out. The Alpha’s Dream did not make it to the Editors as I’m still working on my second draft Edits and the novella and shorts are just plan out of view.

The only things I accomplished completed were Building my arc lists, which is an ongoing thing, and executing part one of my marketing.  Those are two important things and I’m working hard on them, but my aim is always to complete my goal lists.

I’m torn between being completely disappointed that I’m not hitting my lists and also recognizing that I have more time constraints than I give myself credit. This isn’t a fun thing to come to terms with, but it must be done.

I have to just adjust. Adaptability to the circumstances of my life are the only things that will keep me put together right now. My husband, my children, my pregnancy, and all the other events going on have a level of priority that I have to respect. Sigh.

It will only get harder when baby three is here in may, but I have to find a groove. My dream needs to flourish and it means I have to make the time.  No one else is going to do the work for me. Every part of my dream come with it’s on obstacles. I cannot let myself forget that.

Over the next month I will be taking a serious look at my time constraints and determine what are the most important things I must do to keep pushing toward my end game. Hopefully, the conclusion will be a more efficient schedule and better execution. We will see.

Joy.