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.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Quit the day job? I took mine back #writingLife

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,

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.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

There has been a lot of discussion in writer's groups and among readers lately about book pricing, sales, free books, and the devaluation of an author's work.

Many authors worry about devaluing our work by cutting prices and under-pricing, and feel 99 cent and free books have no place in the marketplace.

I've heard readers say that when they see these low prices and free books, they wonder if the book is priced as such, because we, the author's, think it is an inferior book. One reader shared that she never buys 99 cent or downloads free books, because of that reason.

Others have shared that they get to know an author's habits about deep discounting and simply wait to buy a book until it goes on sale.

So, I'm posting my pricing guidelines, or how I price my books, and why below. Feel free to share your thoughts about pricing in the comments below, if you like.

My Regular Price Points

Short Story/Short Novella - Under 20K words - $0.99
Novellas/Short Novels - 20-50K words - $2.99
Novels - 50-100K words - $3.99 to $4.99
Boxed Sets or Collections - $3.99 - $9.99

Some caveats:
I never price at $1.99. So, a book either has to go $0.99 or $2.99, and if it's in the 15-20K range, I could go either way, depending upon the genre of the story and whether it is part of a series, or not. 

I write a lot of short stories/short novellas, so you'll see a number of $0.99 books on my list. Just remember, these are short stories or short novellas, not full-length books, so the $0.99 price point is a good price for those. It's not a devaluation, it's where I think the price should be according to the length of the story, and the amount of time it took for me to write it.