Goal Setting for Writers

It’s that time of year when most of us are thinking about how we’ll make 2020 awesome. Maybe this is the year you’ll finally finish that first novel, or query until you finally snag an agent, or push that publish button on your first (or fiftieth) indie book.

But maybe this year, you want to be smart about the goals you make because you’re sick of not reaching them. I’ve got some suggestions for you that’ll help you break the whole grand scheme down into baby steps that you an actually succeed at—and those baby steps are designed to take you where you want to go.

You’re probably eager to get right on those goals for 2020, but let’s slow it down a bit, first.

I love visuals, so let’s make a little pyramid out of this.

At the top, is your Reason Why—that thing that gets you out of bed in the morning, that gets you motivated to do the hard things when you could be watching TV. Your Why can’t be measured in days, weeks or years; it’s measured over a lifetime.

Beneath that are the goals you need to reach in order to obtain your satisfy your Why.

Lifetime Goals, measured in five-year increments, are the pieces that need to be in place in order for your Why to matter. For instance, if your Why is to earn enough money that your spouse can quit his-or-her job, then you need to consistently earn a specific amount of money each year.

Long-term Goals, measured over a year, are the rungs in the ladder of your success.

Short-term Goals, measured over a month, are the support posts in your ladder—they’re extremely important, but aren’t exactly weight-bearing.

And Baby Steps are those weekly goals you make on which all the others rely.

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When you look at goal setting this way, you can see that we need to view our goals from the top-down, not from the bottom-up.

So what is your Reason Why? What’s that special thing that gets you up in the morning? That makes your heart go pitter-patter when you think of achieving it someday? WHY do you write?

Yeah, not so easy, is it? Maybe you just like to tell stories. Maybe you just like to write for the fun of it.

And that’s totally okay.

However, maybe you long to touch the hearts of your readers. Maybe you want to make a difference in their lives, or in the world. How will you do that? What kind of difference will you make? What are you about?

And how can you figure it all out?

Be prepared to take a couple days to think about this, if necessary. Take the time to think—both purposefully and not.

Let’s do the purposeful thinking first.

  1. Imagine you have everything you want. Write down what it looks like—where do you live? What kind of home do you have? How do you spend your days? What is it, specifically, that makes that perfect future so perfectly perfect?
  2. The more detailed you paint this picture, the better for you to begin to see beyond the surface and discover just what about this perfect future makes it so.
  3. Is it money? Does money let you do more, be more than you could without it?
  4. Is it influence? How have you earned it? What do you do with it?

Now that you have you an image of your future, take some time to let that sit with you. Live with it, and know that it’s true—it’s a version of you that exists in the future. From here, move on to the intuitive part of the exercise:

  1. Find a time and a place where you can be quiet and still and connect with your spirit.
  2. What are the top three reasons you write? Is it to earn money? Is it to help people believe in themselves? Is it to help others not feel alone? Is it to provide a legacy for your family? Really, the reasons why are endless and oh so very personal. No one reason is better than another—for instance, if your reason for writing is to earn money so that you can take your family on amazing vacations, that’s a perfect reason for writing. And if your reason is to uplift and inspire—that’s a perfect reason for writing. In all you do, be true to you. This is not the time (is there ever a time?) to manufacture a truth because it makes you look good. This is the time to, well, tell the truth.
  3. Write down your top three reasons.
  4. Let those reasons sink down into your soul.
  5. Open your eyes, and draw a line through one of the reasons. You know it’s not the reason, so let it go.
  6. Maybe, at this point, you already know the one that’s true, but if you don’t, that’s okay. As you live with the remaining two reasons, one will rise.
  7. Draw a line through one of the reasons because you know it’s not the one, either.
  8. Your Why is the one remaining reason on your list. That’s your truth.

Write this reason on a couple post-it notes and put them where they’ll have the greatest impact. I have two—one on my bathroom mirror where I see it every night and every morning—and one on my monitor. Even before I did these exercises, I was writing my truth into my stories and didn’t even see it. Now that I know what to look for, I can see it in all that I do—chances are good, you’ll experience the same thing.

Using this blank pyramid, write your Reason Why in the top space.

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My husband thinks I should use an inverted pyramid because your Reason Why overshadows all you do, and the Baby Steps are practically inconsequential in the grand scheme of things. But the inverted pyramid kinda messes with my mind, so just imagine that the Reason Why is the biggest and most important piece to this puzzle.

Before we start on the other levels, the way you can tell the difference between your Reason Why and your Goals, is that your Why is something you feel, and your Goals are something you can count. Sometimes it can be easy to confuse things as you get carried away setting goals—but if you remember that if you can count it, it’s a goal, but if you can feel it, then it’s a “why.”

Lifetime Goals are the big picture goals, the things that need to be in place before you can hope to live your Why. If you want to help girls around the world fight their way out of poverty and make something more of themselves, then you probably better be a worldwide seller.

Think about your Why, then ask “how?” How can you live your Why? What things need to be in place for that to happen? Are you a worldwide bestseller? Do you need to be a guest on the Ellen Show in order to reach your audience?

Write down anything and everything that comes to mind that would help you live your Why. After a bit of editing, (maybe you don’t actually need to meet the Queen of England), you’ll have your lifetime goals. Plan to revisit these goals every three-five years—your needs for them might change, and it’s good to know where on the path you are. Write in two-three goals in the space beneath your Reason Why.

Now let’s have a look at your Long-Term Goals. These are the goals that look and feel a lot more like those New Year Resolutions we like to make. They might include writing more books, or having a YouTube channel, or a newsletter with more than 5,000 subscribers.

Your goals are going to change and change and change. Sometimes because you need to reevaluate how you’re going to live your Why, and sometimes because you fail to reach a goal. How often you reevaluate depends on you and your goals, but yearly is a good rule of thumb. Thank goodness for January 1st! So long as you don’t lose sight of your Why, and you’re daily employing the tactics you’ve devised to reach your goals, you’ll stay on track.

Write a few of your Long-term goals in the space below your Lifetime Goals.

Your Short-term Goals and Baby Steps might take a bit of research before you can really get crackin’ with them. It’s easy to say you need three-thousand more Twitter followers, but how the heck do you get them? That’s where the research comes in.

Once you figure out what actions are needed, you can write them in the Short-term Goals section. These might include, join BookFunnel, do newsletter swaps, or start a blog.

Write a few of your short-term goals in the provided space.

And now here we are at the Baby Steps. I love calling these Baby Steps because those words remind to 1) take it easy and 2) they’re just steps on a very long path. Baby steps move you forward, but they aren’t meant to win any races.

Your baby steps are the day-to-day things that need done to help you reach your short-term goals.

For instance, if your long-term goal is to build your newsletter list, a short-term goal might be to join BookFunnel so you can participate in newsletter builders. In this case, your Baby Steps would be to sign up for BookFunnel, create your profile, decide which books to upload and upload them, search for promotions that would suit you and your books, and apply for those promotions. Since joining BookFunnel is a short- and not long-term goal, you have all month to complete those baby step tasks. Pick a few baby steps to complete each week for each of your short-term goals and you won’t be overwhelmed by “all that needs to be done” in the long term.

You’re probably not going to fit all your baby steps into your pyramid, but you can (and should) write them down somewhere. How you do this is entirely up to you. Maybe you use a digital to-do app. Maybe you use a bullet journal. Maybe you use sticky notes. However you do it, keep track. You’ll feel so much better and have the proof your brain needs to prove that you are working toward your goals, even if right now it might seem like you’re just doing busy work.

Make a copy of your pyramid and put it somewhere you can see often. It’ll help you keep your focus when those Baby Steps feel pointless.

CAUTION:

Don’t get overly excited and set all your goals at once. It’s much better if you set fewer goals and reach them, than if you set a bunch and only reach a few. Even if, in the end, you reach the same amount of goals, your brain won’t see it that way. Your brain will happily (or, rather, not-so-happily) point out all the things you failed at, rather than acknowledging all that you achieved. So make it easy on yourself and plan just a few things. Think of it as editing your goals or to-do list. Stephen King says if you can’t fit your daily to-do’s on a post-it note, then you’re planning too many things and you won’t succeed. There just isn’t enough time in a day to do ev-ery-thing. Set yourself up for success and plan only the most needful things.

We’ll discuss more about that when we talk about Productivity in a future lesson.

I hope you found this goal-setting tutorial helpful! If you have any questions, leave them in the comments and I’ll address them in my Live session on Thursday.

WHAT TO WATCH: Next week we’ll be discussing the beat sheet for Men in Black International. See if you can figure out the beats for the story, then come back next week to see if you’re right!

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Using CoSchedule to Rock Your Social Presence

I am in love. Who’s the love of my life, you ask? CoSchedule. Sure, it’s a web program, built to help you manage your social media presence, but that doesn’t mean I love it any less. Let me explain to you why I love it so much and how it can change your life, just as it has changed mine.

So here I am, a busy author and book producer, mother, wife, all that jazz. I’ve got stuff going on, man. But with a business to run, I can’t ignore my social presence—in fact, it’s pretty darn necessary.

I need to blog a couple times a week, keep active on at least one “home base” media platform, and make a regular appearance on other platforms. I need to not spam, not be too heavy-handed, be smart and savvy and, and, and!

Up until now, I’ve been doing a halfway job of it. Some days/weeks I do well. If I’m running a campaign, I do a decent job using an excel spreadsheet and Hootsuite. But … it could be better. Things can always be better.

Two weeks ago I read an older post by Michael Hyatt about CoSchedule, so, with their free two-week trial, I decided to give them a try. And oh. my. holy. hannah. It’s a game-changer, people!

Here’s how I use CoSchedule to write my blog posts and create social media content to drive traffic to it:

I have a shiny new blog idea. Yay!

I add shiny new idea to my calendar:

CoSchedule offers different post-type options.

I use WordPress, so I click on the WordPress button. But if I wanted to make a social media message, or take note of something, I could add them here, too.

CoSchedule allows you to post, publish and share to social media all from one window.

Here’s where the magic happens. First I enter the title, and CoSchedule rates my headline for best results. (Another thing CS does is teach better techniques all along the way. Get a bad grade on your headline? Click through to the analytics and learn how to improve it!) I can choose my category, schedule, write my post, and plan all my media messages in one fell swoop. I know, right? A-MayZING.

Once my post is done and scheduled, along with all its accompanying media messages, everything shows up on my CS calendar. And then CoSchedule DOES ALL THE REST OF THE WORK FOR ME. It’s a real fix-it-and-forget it magic wand!

These are my postings from the previous week, that's why they're grayed out. I haven't populated my calendar for this week yet.

I recommend that you set aside one day a week to put up all your blog posts for the week, and schedule all your media postings as well. Let CoSchedule help you do it, linking up ALL your media profiles. Then use the platforms naturally through the week, as a normal human being, knowing CoSchedule has your back and is taking care of all your “work” posts. You’ll be a lot more “social,” and a LOT more successful. I know I am!

To get your own free trial of CoSchedule (and see if you don’t love it, too!), just click here.

Question: What’s your favorite social media tool?

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The Fiction Author’s Guide to Market Research

Fiction authors often get the short end of the stick when it comes to learning how to perform market research. There’s tons of information out there for businesses and non-fiction authors—having never tried to do that kind of market research before, I can safely say they’re “easy.” Everything’s easy when you haven’t had to do it, right? What I know for sure isn’t easy, is finding information on how to perform market research when your book is fiction.

The awesome news? Doing such research is not only easy, it’s fun. Assuming you like your genre, you’ll enjoy doing this kind of research. Warning: Don’t enjoy it too much. It can be another distraction method to keep you from writing the next book!

So let’s get started and discover just how fun researching your target audience can be!

Imagine your ideal reader. Who are they? Are they young or old? Male or female? What kinds of books do they read? What shows do they watch? What music do they listen to?

If you know you want to write (or have written) for teenage girls who are unpopular and play in band at school, but you don’t know what kinds of movies they might like. You might start searching around online for “highschool band”—then follow along with the conversations and glean information from what the kids share. You could also go to Reddit, Twitter and Instagram and do similar stalking, ah, er, searching there, too.

You can also get where you want to go by starting with the books that are similar to your own.

The Three Questions of Fiction Market Research:

1) What is your ideal reader’s demographic? How old are they? Are they male or female?

2) Where do they hang out online?

You can use resources like PewInternet.org, Statista.com, SmartInsights.com and EdisonResearch.com to find that information.

3) What kinds of books, movies and TV shows do they enjoy?

Once you’ve made a list of all the things your reader might enjoy, find groups that celebrate those programs and books online.

Say you’ve written a fantasy epic with lots of royal intrigue, magic, romance, danger and adventure. Look on Goodreads and Amazon for other books that are similar to yours. At the top of the list you’ll likely find Game of Thrones. If you think readers of Game of Thrones would enjoy your book, (let’s call it Thrones of Glory) then look up #GoT or #GameofThrones on Twitter and get in on the conversation there. Or join GoT discussion groups on Goodreads, Reddit, Facebook and elsewhere.

By listening to these conversations, you’ll learn a lot about your target reader. What they like and don’t like, what kinds of food they eat, or cars they drive, or movies the love (or hate) … the list goes on and on. Once you know where your target audience spends their time, and the sorts of things they like to talk about, you can use this information to help you build your social media campaign.

Focus your campaign on the platform that hosts your ideal reader most often, sprinkling it with the other venues here and there.

Most of the platforms use hashtags to help categorize conversations. You can use Ritetag.com to discover Twitter hashtags, and for the most part they translate over to the other platforms as well.

Create content, join conversations and generally participate with your ideal reader where they live online. Keep the content relevant to what interests their ideal reader, including (very) occasional references to your own work, and you’re likely to find true followers who will have an ongoing interest in the work you create.

Simple, right? Told you so. And fun, too! Like I said, if you enjoy the genre you’re writing in, hanging out with other people who enjoy it too, won’t be any kind of sacrifice. Spending time talking nerdy and calling it “research” sounds like heaven, to me!

Question: Do you have any questions about researching target audiences for fiction, or about what to do with that information once you’ve collected it?

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How Authors Can Rock Twitter Like the Cool Kids Rocked House Parties in Highschool

I have something of a love/hate relationship with Twitter. Twitter has by far been my best sales toolas far as social media goes. The tweets can be fun as there are a lot of snippy, funny people in the Twittosphere and they cheer my day. That’s the love part. The hate part is the work of it. You can track my love/hate relationship easily enough by checking out the ebb and flow of my tweets. 🙂

So for your sake and mine, let’s look at why we should even consider using Twitter:

Why Should You Use Twitter?

PROS:
• With hashtags you can connect with people from all over the world who are interested in those same topics as you.
• You can mention anyone by their Twitter handle (@User_Name) and have your message potentially seen by their followers.
• You never know when a Tweet, or blog post that you shared via Twitter, will go viral.
• It’s relatively easy to establish small communities where you can build engaged relationships, and relationships = readers.
• ReTweets make it easier to reach that critical mass needed for your blog or post to go viral.

CONS:
• It can be very time consuming to keep up with everyone’s tweets and respond when necessary.
• It can be difficult to wade through all the “noise” to find the conversations worth joining.
• There’s no guarantee your time spent there will increase you book sales.

So, I’m pretty convinced. Twitter can be awesome! And if I’m good, and work my social media calendar (yay CoSchedule!) the way I ought to, I totally think Twitter is worth doing. But it’s the kind of party that’s really better with lots of followers. Which is another conundrum.

How to Gain More Followers:

Actually, every party’s better with lots of friends, right? Parties of one are pretty lame, after all. (Pity parties? Blech.) So how can you get more people to come to your party? Invite your friends! Put the word out that you’re having a party! Your friends will invite their friends, who will invite their friends! You’ll have so many people show up that the party will spread out onto the lawn until you’re having a real Animal House moment. Or, you know, a fun, totally appropriate Twitter version of a super-fun party with lots of friends.

Twitter is the only platform where you really can reach users far beyond your personal reach. But first, you’ve got to have that great core group of friends.

Think of making friends on Twitter like making friends in high school. If you didn’t have a whole lot of friends, or didn’t have good ones, then here’s your chance for a do-over! Here’s a few basic ideas to help you be the kind of person people want to “hang out with.”

[bctt tweet=”Think of making friends on Twitter like making friends in high school.” username=”ali_cross”]

  • Be like-able.
  • Be interesting, informative or helpful.
  • Be funny if you’ve got it in you—if you don’t? Don’t sweat it. And definitely don’t push it!
  • You’ve “dressed yourself up” wellyour profile is appealing and interesting.
  • You’re active on a lot of social media platformsyou seem popular and involved.
  • The more visible you are, the more people will see you as “cool” and want to hang out with you.

Those are the basics, but you could go further and be, like, the coolest kid at school.

  • You tweet regularly, knowing that if you slack off, you risk losing followers.
  • You take the time to evaluate who interacts with you so you know who your “true friends” are.
  • You show genuine interest in people by asking them questions and interacting with their updates.
  • You know who your friends are because you’ve checked out their bios, so you know how to give them more of what they want.
  • You’re not afraid to let people get to know you. You tweet about your interests, your passions, and you use hashtags when you can.
  • Because you’re a cool kid, you take lots of pictures of fun, neat things, and you share them! People love getting glimpses into your world! (Promise!)
  • You go to other parties by using hashtagsthink of them as your invitation. They’ll “get you in the door!”

If you’re wondering why people have stopped following you, then you’re probably doing the opposite of the stuff listed above. You’ve become that creepy, weird kid who hangs around the edges of conversations trying to get noticed. Don’t be that guy. No one likes being that guy. Be consistent, be yourself, be friendly and REAL. That’s really all there is to it.

[bctt tweet=”Don’t become that creepy, weird kid who hangs around the edges of conversations trying to get noticed.” username=”ali_cross”]

What Should You Tweet?

The party’s started, and people are showing up. Oh my gosh! What do you do! Do you play Spin the Bottle? Do you play Twister? Ahhhhh …..

It’s okay. Take a deep breath. Here’s some ideas of how to keep your friends entertained:

  • Talk about your new releases.
  • Talk about your books as you write themespecially funny moments you might have had writing them, or character quirks you’re discovering, or anything weird and writerish.
  • Invite your guests to other places they could hang out with youplatforms, events, you name it.
  • Get to know other “cool kids” (authors!). Chat with them, share their news and retweet their news.
  • Be informed, especially about the topics that you care about. Share links, quotes and other interesting tidbits from the articles you’ve read.
  • Make your connections, your conversations, matter. People love other people who lift them up, help them to become better people (so they can be cool like you!). Do that, and your guests will be excited to hang out with you at any party!

Twitter Best Practices

Maybe I’m going overboard on the whole party analogy, except it seems to work for me, so … Hey, this is MY party, after all. We’ll rock it ali-style.

So you want to have the best party possible because you plan to have a lot more and you want people to be excited to come, right? You want more and more people to come! Yeah! The more the merrier! How can you give your friends a good time?

  • Walk around, chat with people, find out about them. Remember a good party host knows it isn’t always about them.
  • Don’t neglect your friends. They’re the ones who helped you get the word out about your party, and brought a lot of their friends along for the fun. Take time to appreciate them and help them have a good time, too.
  • Don’t be all weird and try changing yourself all the time. When people do that in real life they push people away because they’re just … well, weird. Stay true to yourself, it’s just not worth it, otherwise.
  • Remember, it’s not allllll about you. It might be your party, but a good host knows, they’re only in the service of others when they’re at their house.
  • To get the most positive RSVPs to your party, make sure you tweet at the right times each day. Do a little lightweight research and look at your retweet stats, comments and such and you should be able to figure out the best time of day to have the most conversations with the most people.

So there you have it. How to rock Twitter “old school.” I actually had so much fun writing this article that now I think I ought to get serious about my own cool kid status! ‘Cuz I’ve been super slacking lately. Want to come to my party? (Ha! See what I did there?)

@ali_cross

 

Question: What’s your favorite Twitter Tip?

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Fantasy eBooks Giveaway!

I love participating in group giveaways! I love it because usually I’m working with authors I haven’t worked with before, so it’s a great way to meet new people and discover their work. And it’s a great way for MY readers to discover new books, too!

This week’s giveaway is super easy. Just subscribe to the newsletters of my fellow authors, and they will each send you a free eBook! I’m giving away Become, the first book in my Desolation series. Easy, peasy!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Love Audiobooks? You’ll Go Bananas for This Giveaway!

I love audiobooks. Like, totally bananas for them. That’s why this giveaway is so frickin’ awesome!

NINETY TITLES ARE UP FOR GRABS!!

All you have to do is visit AudioVoxx—there’s lots of ways to enter! My book, Become is among the offerings and actress Kelli Shane rocks it!

I listen to audiobooks, possibly eight hours a day—sometimes more, sometimes less. But usually as much as possible! I listen while I’m doing housework, laundry, driving in the car, walking the neighborhood, grocery shopping … Probably I listen too much because I don’t have a whole lot of quiet time in my head. I’m working on that. 😛

I listen to everything from Nora Roberts to G.R.R. Martin, science fiction, fantasy, romance, contemporary, middle grade, young adult, adult, traditionally published, self-published. If the premise is enticing and the narrator’s good, I’m in!

Here’s a little trick for you … Look for Kindle books that are on sale for ZERO DOLLARS or $0.99 or $1.99 or whatever, that also have Whispersync. Click on the “Add narration for $1.99” (or whatever the price is … and you get an audiobook for under five bucks!

In the meantime, click on over to this AudioVoxx giveaway and win yourself some awesome new stories!

Question: What’s the best audiobook you’ve listened to lately? My favorite of the past week was Savage Ghost by Donna K. Weaver – a sweet romance with a ghostly mystery (it’s a novella).

 

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Words I’ll No Longer Say: “I Am Fat”

This week I will not say “I am fat.”

If l can go without saying it for one week, I plan to never say it again.

I thought I was being self-aware. I thought I was being progressive and honest and accepting of myself. But deep down, I think I knew it was all a lie. Instead, I was using the words like a shield, a kind of “You can’t judge me because I’ve already judged myself.” That’s not acceptance, that’s deflection. 

Meanwhile, my husband still loves me, still tells me I’m beautiful, still wants to be with me. Why do I ruin it by saying “Sorry I’m so fat,” when we’re intimate? I’m sure he misses the slim, fit young body he married—but so what? I miss his young, fit body too. We’re getting older, we’re human, we’re imperfect … is it such a big deal?

Anyway, *I*, ali, am not fat. I am kind, optimistic, happy, hopeful, loving … I want people to see me for who I am, not the body I live in.

When I say “Sorry I am fat,” I take my husband out of the moment, I make him think about itthe fatinstead of mehis wife, his lover, his soulmate. When I say “I know I’m fat, but does this look okay?” I’m broadcasting my fears that I, ali, am not good enough to be loved or treasured, or befriended, or admired. If I am worthy, it doesn’t matter what size my body is. If I’m not worthy, well … I’ve got a lot bigger problem than the size of my body!

[bctt tweet=”If I am worthy of being your friend, your lover, your motherit doesn’t matter what size my body is.” username=”ali_cross”]

The habit of deflecting my feelings by saying I am fat is deeply entrenched though. I want to stop saying it, but I think it will be hard, so I’m giving myself a week. A week to practice. And then … I will not be fat anymore, so there won’t be any need to say it. Oh, my body will be the same, sure. But I am not fat. I am ME.

Question: Do you have any shields you use to deflect your fears?

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What is Beauty?

What is beauty to you? Is it in the eyes? The lips? Is it in your smile? The way you wear your hair? Or is it your smooth, porcelain skin?

I think, like most women, I struggle with claiming my own beauty. Heck, I struggle with finding my own beauty. I can see it in others, no problem. I see it all around me. And it’s in all those places I mentioned above, and more. My favorite beauty is the kind that emanates from a person like an invisible bubble of goodness. These are the people you feel safe around, the people you want to spend time with. They’re authentic, kind and oh yes, beautiful.

My friend Lauri is one of those people. The interesting thing is, this Facebook post of hers implies she hasn’t just always felt so awesome about herself. No matter what those around her thought, inside, Lauri struggled just like I do. And maybe, like you do.

lauri

I haven’t been making a conscious effort to love myself, but it has been on my mind. I try to correct myself when I start saying bad, cutting things in my head. I try to remember that I love other friends who are chubby, or have stringy hair, or lots of pimples … so people probably love me, too. That’s good … but it could be better. Lauri inspires me to be better. To love myself FOR REALZ. Inside and out.

My thoughts began coalescing around this subject a year or more ago when I saw a video shared on Facebook about a woman who posted pictures of herself without makeup. The comments on her photos were disturbingly cruel. The thing is? I’m sure most of us have said things just as cruel to ourselves.

Beauty is in each of us. It belongs to us, it’s our birthright. I want to claim it and own it, like Lauri does. I want to show my “face”, my SOUL, and not listen to the ugly voices in my head that want to tear me down. What is beauty? It’s you. And it’s me.
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IWSG: Reading to Become a Better Writer

Today I listened to a recent Self-Publishing Podcast where the topic was about reading to become a better writer. They called it “intentional reading.”

Of course writers are always told we need to read, read, read. But it wasn’t until Susan Kaye Quinn told me that she spends (or used to spend) her Christmas holiday reading specific books in a style, voice, genre, etc., that she wanted to emulate. I’ve often felt guilty that I don’t read intentionally like that, like I’m missing some Very Important Skill that a True Author Must Possess.

Lately I’ve been binge-reading the Emperor’s Edge series by Lindsay Buroker, just devouring the words and marveling at the awesomeness of it all. I wasn’t critiquing her or judging her writing–I was admiring her imagination, humor and pacing. I’m tempted to feel bad about my own writing in the face of such talent but the real truth is … I want to write like her. I want to be as good as her.

So I’d already been thinking about how I could learn from Lindsay, how I could let her books inspire and guide me to push myself further, when I tuned into the podcast about intentional reading. I really enjoy specific instructions on how to do things. I wanted the SPP guys to say, “Get a composition notebook, a red pen and a ruler. Divide your page in half. Write X on the left side and Y on the right …” Sadly, they didn’t give me specific instructions, and it really boiled down to read slowly, looking for things that speak to you, then jot down notes in a notebook.

Their guest also recommended the book Reading Like a Writer: A guide for People Who Love Books and Those Who Want to Write Them by Francine Prose.

Hey, maybe I can get Sue to write a post on how she studies books to improve her own writing. Hmm … Maybe I’ll figure it out, yet!

Do any of you study works in your genre to help improve your own writing?

To read more writing posts today, follow along with the Insecure Writers Support Group blog hop!

 

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A New Online Store & a “New” Book!

You can now purchase autographed books directly from my website! And, I finally have a paperback version of the Desolation Diaries (Volumes 1-3) for you!

Check out the gorgeous cover Steven Novak made for the Desolation Diaries:

Desolation Diaries

To purchase autographed (or not) copies of any of my books, including the Desolation Diaries, visit My Online Book Store!

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