It Really Is About the Journey

Recently, I haven’t been inspired to write on my blog or work on my next publication. I’ve been allowing the business of living to get in the way. When I took time to think about why this was happening, I decided that my focus on the goal of becoming an author, seemed to be interfering with the process of being a writer. The pursuit of the dream had become overwhelming.

It’s easy to lose the joy of writing when you follow the crowd into today’s insane world of self-publication. Who is giving you solid advice, or who is just trying to sell you a book or a course? Why are Amazon and Hachette in conflict? Should I take time away from writing to even care? How important is it really to have a platform? I certainly can’t “build” one without writing. Collecting followers on WordPress, Twitter, Facebook, etc. are often joyless, mindless activities that take precious time away from the art of writing, that for me requires quality time and inspiration. Using the time to build meaningful connections with a few followers is more important to me than the numbers. How often should I write on my blog? I want to write when I have something worth saying not just to do a prescribed, weekly routine post with little content. How important is the book cover? How do you resolve formatting issues? The list feels endless and overwhelming.

I realize that I’ve been through this before. Last September I wrote, “Why Do You Write?” I thought I had tweaked my perspective then. Why do I keeping forgetting that it’s more about my own unique journey than the goal? My path may not be the mainstream one, but it’s my own. When I am truly invested in this journey, there is comfort and satisfaction filled with wonderful and challenging experiences along the way. This is for me the “nuts and blots” of a writer’s life.

How often are you tempted to do something that everyone else seems to be doing and cast aside your own unique approach? No doubt, this struggle leads us to discovering more about ourselves, but does following the crowd bring you joy and fulfillment? Remember how good it feels when we tune into our “gut” feelings and go with our own unique flow? I’m going to never stop remembering (until next year, I suppose 🙂 ) .

New Short Story Released!

Return to Texas photo final med

I am so happy to finally say that “Return to Texas” was published on Amazon yesterday. This is a stand-alone sequel to the first story, “That’s Just the Way it Is,” giving just enough backstory so that you can enjoy it even if you didn’t read the first one.

It came in at around 6500 words, about four thousand more than the first. It is written in first person past and covers a two-year period of time unlike the first that shared moments in time that spanned a twenty-year period. Looking back, I probably should have aimed for a novella rather than these non-traditional (in terms of format) short stories, but I felt more comfortable doing smaller projects first. They have taught me a lot, and I do believe I am a better writer now.

I hope that some of you will read and enjoy it. Please let me know how you like it. As always, reviews are deeply appreciated, especially on the Amazon site where they help the story to reach a wider audience and become more successful.

Which Is More Important?

As a writer who is new to the publishing industry, I struggle to determine which is more important when it comes to sales. In fiction, the quality of the writing or the appeal of the storyline? In non-fiction, the caliber of writing or the subject matter? Even in the music world, which sells more CD’s: a beautiful voice or the melody sung by an average singer that begins to repeat in the listeners’ heads?

Of course, in an ideal world, these artistic creations would be an excellent blend of both factors. How often does this really happen, though? I have been noticing lately, some novels selling very well that are not as well-written as they could be. They may be grammatically correct, but have inappropriate voice changes or shallow characterization, etc. It makes me wonder what the average modern reader really cares about.

Perhaps it has something to do with e-books vs. hard cover books. Maybe because the e-book reading may be done more often in noisy places, awkward positions, or poor lighting, not as much attention is paid to the writing quality as when the reader is curled up with a hard-cover book on a winter’s night in front of a roaring fire. Or is it because the “old-fashioned” reader paid more for that hard cover book, so he or she expects more? Could it even be that the societal trend toward instant gratification sells or encourages “quick reads” that don’t allow time for attention to writing detail?

That being said, as a writer, do you sacrifice what you really want to write for something you believe will be more popular? I find it hard, at this point, to write what I don’t feel passionate about. I keep reading that writing from your heart is what touches others and gives them the emotional experience they are seeking. It would be difficult for me to do otherwise.

I don’t believe there are any easy answers to all of this. Regardless, I would love to know your thoughts, as a reader or writer, about what qualities you think sell? What do you personally pay attention to when you read? What leads you to feel that satisfying experience after you’ve read an article or a book?

“That’s Just the Way It Is” – Now Available

My first short story, “That’s Just the Way It Is,” has now been published on as a e-book. It should also be available in some countries other than the United States. This is a mini-milestone in my writing career, one that I’m pleased to have reached. Thanks so very much to all of you who have been supporting and encouraging me for the past 20 months, which is when this journey first began.

It is a 3800-word story of love, violence and clash of values with a spiritual twist. It begins:

“It comes to me now in flashes—pieces of memories from a past lifetime that creep into my consciousness. I see myself staring at a weathered barn through a kitchen window. Calico curtains blow wildly in the dry, dusty wind, dancing to the familiar hum of cows mooing in the distance. Warm air whips across my face, entering the house like a welcomed visitor on an unbearably hot Texas day in the 1870’s. I’m Becky, married with four children, to a man I both love and hate.”

I hope that many of you will enjoy it!

A Writer’s Conference in the Mountains

I have been a fan of many Hay House publications for a number of years. Writers such as Louise Hay and Wayne Dyer dot my bookshelves and have often inspired me to move out of my comfort zone and reach for my goals, such as with a writing career. This year, when the opportunity came to attend The Writer’s Workshop in Ashville, NC, sponsored by Hay House, I knew I had to attend.

I drove twelve hours down to Ashville early last month to attend this weekend workshop and spend two additional days driving around the Blue Ridge Parkway. The weather was a little stormy, but I still enjoyed the journey down and the time alone driving through the woods in the Park, catching a breath-taking glimpse of the mountains here and there among the clouds. It was a very inspirational setting for a writer!

One-hundred and seventy new and wannabe writers from various states congregated at the Crowne Plaza Resort for this event. More than anything else, this was an inspirational workshop. I came out of there actually believing I could write an excellent book even if Hay House couldn’t publish it. New York Times best-selling author, Cheryl Richardson spoke of her humble beginnings and her journey to successful publication.  She was, in many ways, just like those of us dreaming to publish a book—simply armed with a story to tell that drove her passion. Reid Tracy, President and CEO of Hay House, spoke at length about the publishing industry, writing a book proposal, and what it takes to get published during these fast-changing times in the industry. I was struck by the realization that they are both everyday-kind-of people who are doing extraordinary things. No pretense, no self-importance, just genuinely real people. Videos of Louise Hay, Doreen Virtue and, Wayne Dyer describing their early writing experiences and tips for success were also quite enjoyable and helpful for new writers.

Hay House generally publishes non-fiction, self-help, inspirational books. To be successful in getting published with this genre, I learned that you need to show a publisher that you already have a following and that you are willing to do (or already doing) workshops, lectures and anything else it takes to sell your book. Gone are the days when the publisher does all the marketing. With fiction, the platform is not as important, but it definitely helps to have one. Series fiction, such as a trilogy, is popular now and can lead to greater success as an author. In these workshops, Hay House offers the unique opportunity to attendees to submit a book proposal directly to them without going through an agent. The lucky winner will receive a $10,000 book advance. The proposal is due in December, 2012. Since Mr. Tracy said they will consider any genre for this competition, I am planning to finish my novel and submit a proposal to them. I figure the worst that can happen is that I will have a novel almost ready to submit to another publisher or to self-publish. To me, that seems to be a win-win situation.