Saturday, December 31, 2016

Rewatching: Elizabeth Gilbert, on your elusive creative genius...

I was recently reminded of a Ted Talk video I shared at a workshop I presented nearly six years ago. It's a video that touched me the first time I watched it, and evidently, it touched many of the authors who were in attendance that day.

One of those authors brought it up again to me -- just this morning, actually -- so I wanted to go back and rewatch.

I want to share it with you. You may begin to look at your muse, and writing, a little differently.

Elizabeth Gilbert is simply brilliant. Watch this if you want to ponder things like creativity and genius, writing and art, the assumption that artistry leads to anguish and that creativity is linked to suffering, the relationship between humans and the muse, surviving your writing life after success, and more....

Watch it if, like me, you've been floundering with your writing of late. I've decided to show up.

It's nearly 20 minutes in length but it's worth it. Take 20 minutes for you today. You're worth it.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Blog Opportunity for Romance Authors

Authors!

I'm opening my blog back up for romance author features on Tuesdays and Fridays. Here are the details:

#TeaserTuesday
Authors can post a graphic teaser of a new release or a backlist book. A Teaser Tuesday post should include:

  • Book cover
  • Brief book blurb/description
  • Teaser (usually done in a graphic)
  • Link to an excerpt on your website (if you like)
  • Buy links




#FridayFeature
A Friday Feature post is for new releases only. It can include any and all of the bulleted items listed above, with the addition of a posted excerpt. Excerpts can be from books of any heat level BUT the posted excerpt cannot be X-rated. (This blog does not have an "adult" warning.)

Contact me to schedule your post before sending any information. You can check out my Events Calendar on my website here for any open Tuesday and Friday dates. http://www.maddiejames.net/2015/12/wheres-maddie-i-will-be-attending.html. Then let me know which date you prefer. First come, first served!

Allow as much advance lead time as possible. Once the post is scheduled, then include all of your content in an email or Word document and send to maddie@maddiejames.net. The more organized you are, the easier I can post! Thank you.

Besides being featured on this blog, your post will be shared to my Google+, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest pages--and I'll feature at least one featured author each month in my newsletter!


Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Quit the day job? Me, I took it back.

Back to work. It's a short work week for me and for that, I am thankful. On the other hand, I know that there are probably not enough days in this work week to accomplish what I need to get done. And there you have it, the struggle.

I often think about normal people -- you know, those non-writer people. They go to work, then come home, and sometimes they even think about work at home or (gasp) even do work at home. And it's okay with them because it is their job, and maybe they are even passionate about their job, and they don't mind.

That's cool. I get that.

But what I don't think non-writer people get is that we writer people have two jobs. For many of us, it is the day job that pays the bills, and maybe even, if we are lucky, it's a job we love and feel passionate about. And then there is the writing.

And it's not just writing. There are websites to update, marketing plans to make, daily check-ins on social media or the writing groups, or proposals to write, deadlines to make. And more.

It's a business. It's a job. Not a chore, necessarily. (At least not most of the time) But a job all the same. Because you see? Us writer-people? We all secretly and truly want to make enough money to quit the day job -- even if we love the day job and even if we are passionate about it.

I did that. Quit the day job. Twice. I supplemented my income with some part-time consulting work. I also did cover art and ran a small publishing house. In fact, I did so much to help out with the writing income that I ended up severely cutting into the writing time. Hm. The reason I quit the day job with benefits and insurance and a retirement plan was so that I could have more time to write and make bigger money writing. What the hey?

I went back to work. Both times. I'm back at work now. (Well, not at this minute unless you are reading from 9-5.) And here are the lesson's I've learned from this experience:

1. I'm actually happy to get up every day and go to work. I see people. I talk to people. Writing and working at home all day by yourself can get lonely. I get twitchy.

2. I enjoy receiving the benefits, the insurance, the retirement plan. At my age now, I'm realizing that in the not so distant future, I'll be needing all of those things more. Writing full time can't give me that. Not yet, anyway.

3. I'm more stable financially. Bills are paid. I'm not tapping my fingers on my desk waiting for the Amazon payment to drop any longer. Book income is now extra income, and I like it that way.

4. I need the day job for me. For my mental health. To feel fulfilled at the end of the day. To work in teams and accomplish tasks. To be a leader and lend my years of wisdom, expertise, and advice to others. To give back.

5. I'm getting the joy of writing back. I'm not totally there yet. But for years I kept chasing the release. Had to get one out there every so many months. Worried about the numbers, the income, the reviews, the sales ranks....

Okay, I'm done with all of that on number 5 right now--except the joy part. There could come a time when I worry about all of those things again but right now, I can't. I just want to write my stories. I want to paint pretty pictures with words.

I am enjoying watching and feeling stories unfold. And, I'm doing it with a day job. I've finally left that struggle behind. You know the one? The balance between the day job and writing. The constant of wanting to quit in order to write. We've all been there.

I've buried that. Now, I'm thankful for the work that I do, the job that I have. I'm keeping the day job. And I'll still write. Maybe not as much, but I write.

Write more. Write often. Write now.  (I think I'm beginning to see a theme here....)

Until the next time,
Maddie

Monday, December 26, 2016

Write more. Write often. Write now.

It's the day after Christmas. I'm supposed to be writing. I'm thinking about other things.

In five days we'll have a new year. I'm good with that. I'm ready for that. Fresh start. New beginnings. You know what I mean?

I think a lot of people feel that way considering the comments posted on Facebook and Twitter. People unhappy with politics, the electoral college, the democratic process, the president. People upset about people dying. Actors and artists of their youth, and people in their families. Hell, Carrie Fisher (stable condition right now). George Michael. Prince. So many others. So sad.

Yes. Unhappy people. Everywhere.

Is 2017 going to fix this? No. The same issues, the same politics, the same everything will follow us into the new year. Yes, even death. A new year, new resolutions, a fresh start -- none of it will fix this. Stuff still happens. Good stuff. Bad stuff. Shit.

Yeah, shit happens.

What we can fix is our attitudes. Our outlook on life. We can shift the blame from "look what you did" to "what can I do for you?" We are the only people who control our personal happiness. How we feel about life. How we feel taking the next step forward. What we do next.

What kind of attitude we will have when we cross over into 2017. Yes, it's up to us.

I struggled through a few life changes in this past year. I could let them rain on my parade but I won't. I could be angry about it all and strike out at the world. I won't do that either. I'll just simply say this: I started out the year supporting myself as a full-time writer and part-time educational consultant. I started out this year as part of a couple. I started out this year with a mother.

All of that is gone now. Done. Over. Gone.

I now work full-time as a director for a non-profit organization. My writing career has taken a back-seat. My relationship is over. My mother passed on to Heaven.

Change is inevitable, right? And the only constant? Or so they say.

But I still have so much. I get to get up and go to work every day with great people and for a wonderful cause. I have a job that pays the bills and then some. My job plays to my strengths and I'm in control. I am fulfilled and happy at the end of each work day.

I have children and grandchildren who love me, and I so love them. I am blessed each day I can
spend time with them. I have a warm, beautiful home that I bought and decorated myself, just the way I want it. I have a crazy, assertive rescue dog who keeps me company and warms my feet at night. I have a father I'm learning to have a different relationship with, after all of these years.

Despite all of the personal setbacks. Despite the political future. Despite the fact that I am getting older and people my age are dying every day. Despite the fact that everyone on social media airs all of their "shit happens" moments for public consumption -- I'm good.

I'm blessed. I'm okay.

I just need to write more. Right? So that's the message I'm carrying over into 2017.

Write more. Write often. Write now. Yeah. That's it.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Romance Sampler, anyone?

I came to a realization this week -- I haven't had a release in a little over three months. Now, I've had a lot of life happen in the past six months (like we all do) and my writing has taken a back seat. I've tried to get motivated. I attempted to do NaNoWriMo. Fail. I downloaded the Write-o-meter app for my phone to remind me to write everyday. I keep swiping the reminder away. I signed up for My Write Club to try to keep up the little bit of momentum I had gained with NaNo. I keep forgetting to update my page.

Small momentum gained from NaNo. I didn't win but I did realize one thing: My average writing day is now about 500 words a day. I can't seem to get many more words than that. So okay, I'll just roll with it. 500 words is better than none. Right?

Maybe not having a release doesn't sound like a big deal, but the moment I realized that was the case, was the same moment I looked at my tanking sales figures on Amazon.

Bleh. Not good.

No recent release. Sales tank. It's been slightly over 90 days since the last novella went up on my KDP dashboard. Coincidence? Maybe. Maybe not. I'm not going to tempt fate any longer so I created a release.

Created? Yes. I scoured my files to see if there was anything -- any Work-in-Progress -- I could speed along. Nada. I had two stories half finished. Another one a third of the way done. Nothing close enough to get up there ASAP. I had to get creative.

Creativity is my forte, right? Sure. I'll buy that. So what to do?

I have boxed sets. I've serialized one of my novels. I've had to get creative before. What now? I created a Romance Sampler, with a twist. Here is what I came up with:

This Romance Sampler is a collection of firsts--three first in series complete novellas or novels, plus sample first chapters of some of my single title works. I've also provided a first "sneak peek" into an upcoming novel, yet to be released, and an erotic romance novella that you can find only in this collection (not yet released elsewhere!).

Inside this collection you will find the following "first in series" books:

Bed, Breakfast and You (contemporary/romantic comedy novella)
Entranced (time travel/suspense novel)
Double Trouble for the Wedding Planner (contemporary erotic romance/menage novella)

The first chapters of these romantic suspense novels:
Tempt Me
A Perfect Escape

The first chapter of my western romance novel, Rawhide and Roses, and a sneak peek at the first chapter of this upcoming western romance novel, The Cowboy's Secret Baby (the sequel to Rawhide and Roses)

And a Bonus! Also included in the sampler is a full-length erotic romance novella, available ONLY in this sampler, The Spy Who Topped Me. And the best part? Right now it's all only $0.99.

Currently available at AMAZON | KOBO. Watch for B&N and IBOOKS coming any moment!