#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

 

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.

#JuneReset: 4 ways to reset and accomplish your years goals

June presents the perfect time to reassess those New Years Resolutions and reevaluate any remaining goals.

At least, that has always been my philosophy. We’re six months into 2017 and already I’ve had some major changes to occur in my life. For one, my newest little was born last month. Needless to say life with three littles ages three and under is nothing to sneeze at. It’s the happiest madness I’ve ever had in my life.

That being said, I am a still an author on a mission. I’ve taken out my complete 2017 goal lists  and there are still quite a few things remaining that I want to accomplish. As always, I’ll be sharing my author goals in another post. Today, I want to discuss the importance of assessing the years goal lists and how you can get back on track if you’ve lost your way.

To begin, remember the reason you set the goals. I know the deal, new years makes most of us giddy with possibilities. Goal lists are probably never as long as when the clock strikes twelve and gives us all permission to start over fresh. However, most of us aren’t arbitrarily writing a list. There is a genuine purpose behind every task. By taking stock of why  the particular element made the list to begin, you can rediscover their importance.  Don’t be afraid to downgrade somethings and upgrade others. As long as you are still attached to the goal it has value and is worth revisiting.

Once you’ve reestablished your reason for setting the goal, then prioritize for completion. Every goal does not have the same value as we’ve established. Maybe its assigned value is due to the requirements for completion, or even the amount of time it would take. Maybe it has sentimental value. Determining what happens first not only gives you focus, but also gives you an idea of how to structure the settings for the rest of the year. Number them, color code them, do whatever it takes to decide what needs your attention first. Prioritizing will likely mean rearranging the way things are written on your list. Don’t be alarmed, embrace the changes. Bundle what goals you an overlap, and work your new list.

Adjust your timeline accordingly. Some goals, may seem out of range from your initial schedule. If you’ve missed the deadline for that particular marathon, then pick another with similar features to compete in later in the year. The object is to realize your goals in a way that is both realistic and also fulfills your initial desire.  This is why your reason for setting the goal comes in handy. Get back in the game with a timeline that reflects where you are on your goal list and what you are looking to accomplish.

Just start. You can do it. You’ve missed your initial timeline, and now there is a struggle to find the best time to start again. Do yourself a favor and stop waiting for the perfect time. Start where you are, and ignore that little voice that says “not until”.  The moments you  waste waiting for the ideal time to start can’t be replaced. You have enough time if you start now. Start saving the money for your trip. Start outlining your novel. Start drinking more water, and adjusting your portion sizes. You can’t accomplish anything that you won’t begin. Have faith and begin.

Half the year is behind us, but there is still time to rack up the accomplishments. Just remember what you read here and apply it to your remaining goals and you will be well on your way. You’ll surprise yourself with how much you can still get done. I have faith in you, and you should have faith in yourself. Let’s hold each other accountable to the promises we’ve made ourselves.  Comment below with some of the goals you still hope to complete.

Joy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#2Stars: Open to criticism

Writing is an act of art. It is a statement of creativity. It is open to criticism.

I am not above a bad review.

Common knowledge.  For some writers, the first review where a reader expresses discontent with their work is akin to having their heart plucked out while still alive. It is a shock to the system, feels fatal, and is often callous. Yup. All of that is still true for someone like me whose worked behind the scenes on several projects. Anything below a three star writing is definite grounds for improvement.

As I mentioned before, I’ve been stalking my ratings and reviews. The very first moment I noticed the below three star ratings on The Alpha’s Dream my heart sank like a stone in a pond. I read the written review carefully.  I analyzed it for days looking for some hidden bias. The hidden bias? The reader didn’t like my writing style. She just didn’t like the book. Fair. NOT FUN, but fair.

I’m bringing to light these ratings because I believe in their credibility. This isn’t about knowing the reviewer, but about knowing the process. I believe the ratio to readers and reviewers is something like 5 or 6  to 1. Out of 50 people who read a book only about 10-15 will leave a review.  So every review counts. Every review also represents multiple people. The reviewers who left the 2 star ratings represent other readers who ultimately decided against leaving a rating at all, rather than leave bad one.

Deep breaths. Long Sighs. Honesty is rarely pleasant.

However, I am not one of those authors who feels that every review must be a positive one. I am not lost in the fallacy that everyone who reads my books will fall haplessly in love with my work. It is unrealistic, no matter how badly I would like it to be true.

As an artist, it is difficult to read that someone doesn’t like the work I’ve spent countless hours developing. Art requires thick skin. Art requires respect for the audience just as much as for the authors.  I suspect over the life of my work there will be even more unflattering reviews. I’m prepared-ish for that, and I will face it with grace.

I want all my readers to know that their reviews, ratings, comments are honored. I hear you. I’ll work even harder to give you a product that you enjoy. We’re in this together and for the long-term.

Comment below with characters or stories you would like to see written.

Joy.

#OwnIt: My most prominent book launch mistakes

There were mistakes made in my launch. Here’s how I feel about them.

Alright, so you’ve seen my excitement about The Alpha’s Dream being released. It is heaven to see my work finally published and available to those who wanted it. I’ve been stalking my sales, and pages read through Kindle Unlimited almost hourly. Seriously. It’s to the point that my husband has put me on a schedule. He gets me, but he also knows I’m crazy. It’s true love.

Now that I’ve had a little time away, my feelings for my launch are finally sorting. Here comes the part where doing it all on my own takes its honest toll. I worked for months in writing of The Alpha’s Dream. It was originally only supposed to be a 20,000 word novella to open my career. I was nervous about attempting more.

In the end, Nathaniel and Euphoria took on a life of their own. They knew what they wanted, and their story. They desired depth and space to come to terms with the lives they were living through the pages. I was honored…am honored to have done that.

As with anyone, I realize there are limits to  talent. So, even in my writing there were things I had to prepare for in order for my book to be a success. So, I made a plan.

I would write the book. I would then do a secondary edit of the book to fill plot holes and  catch minor grammatical errors. I would then hand the book off to a great editor who would fine tune what was missed. They would return the book to me to make final adjustments.

It was a simple plan with modest expectations and nothing extravagant in terms of what other authors are doing.

I am prone to Murphy’s law. Everything that can go wrong will generally go wrong when it comes down to the wire.

My editor bailed. My secondary choice was great, but not as good. In the 25th hour I ended up doing a lot of it myself. I’m not an editor. I am a writer. It shows in my work.

As I proceeded to go through the work, I cleaned it up as much as I could and pressed forward. It would not be perfect. The flawless finish I wanted did not come. Editors, like authors, have very specific skills. I know my role well, and I know the limits of that role. What I offered was not the pristine product I’d hoped.

To further exacerbate my anxiety, the placeholder copy I used for the pre-order setup was even less perfect. It took several failed attempts to submit the first edition final version of The Alpha’s Dream. However, it was too late to prevent some of the pre-orders from receiving the completely unedited placeholder copy.

I was mortified.

My big launch, my debut to the world was marred by a completely jumbled amateur move. I couldn’t get it out of my head. Immediately, I went into recovery mode. I researched and reached out to those that I could about the copies they received and offered edited versions. I hoped for the best.

The feedback I’ve been getting for The Alpha’s Dream has been predominately positive. When I look at the reviews, I realize that I wasn’t the only one looking for books like I’ve chosen to write. It heightens my desire to create a great work. At this point, all of the Amazon reviews are glowing. The GoodReads ratings, not so much. I Love GoodReads. I love the people represented there are truly just there for the books. So even a two star rating ( at this point I have 2 two star ratings) has a significant purpose.

I see the complaints in my writing and the calls that there are grammatical errors still. It is embarrassing to work so hard and still have some prominent flaws. I sigh. I cringe. I know there is still more work to do. I’m up to the challenge.

In the coming weeks, as I prepare for even more changes in my  personal life I will be looking for another editor to see if I can finally get it right. I want a flawless project and the second edition of The Alpha’s Dream should be that.

Overall, I am still in awe of this process. I’ve learned some hard lessons and have come to terms with my shortcomings. I take my work very seriously.

This isn’t a hobby anymore. It isn’t simply what I do to pay the bills, and when that work is complete it is my responsibility to make sure it is done right. I don’t take that lightly.

As I move forward, looking down the barrel of a new baby, second edition to The Alpha’s Dream, and plot future works I keep in mind that nothing is without hiccups.  I love that The Alpha’s Dream is doing well. I hate that it isn’t perfect, but I am not intimidated about plucking away until I get it right.

What are you guys working on? Anything you’ve taken a second look at? Comment below.

Joy.