Success, While You Wait

pledge-smallSometimes it may seem as though success is a very slow mover.

We know our book is good.  We shop it here and there, without seeing much enthusiasm from editors, agents, or indie ebook lists.  We know that all we need is somebody to believe in us, and we wonder just when we’re going to arrive on that desk, that indie best-seller list, that review blog.

But, here’s something to consider.  If we were to arrive right now, is there a cache of work to put out there to please a burgeoning following?  Maybe we have lots of awesome work close to ready, or ready, to go. But if not — or, even if so — we’ll do well to welcome this calm before the storm of success as a gift from the muses.

Here, in this serene space, where nobody is demanding revisions, proofs, or interviews, we have the relatively uninterrupted opportunity to use our learning and gifts to make sure we have a topnotch skillset and a superb shelf of work to sell.  Our future selves will be most thankful for all this work accomplished, and even more, that we always believed in our own success.

I hope it’s another brilliant writing week for you. Cheers Mel.

muse smallThis week from @yourwritingmuseThe middle section of your story teaches every writer what energy is all about in storytelling. All good wishes for your continuing success, from your Writing Muse.

Forging a Writing Future

twotwentytwosmallIf you go to work on your goals, your goals will go to work on you. If you go to work on your plan, your plan will go to work on you. Whatever good things we build end up building us.  – Jim Rohn

I started listening to Jim Rohn’s Youtube talks just after he died. When he said Don’t wish it were easier, wish you were better. Don’t wish for less problems, wish for more skills. Don’t wish for less challenge, wish for more wisdom, I straightened up and started typing.   With a smile on my face.  In terms of time management, he inspired me not to waste a minute getting to it.

Looking to the future is one of the best ways to improve a writer’s use of available time.  When big goals shine ahead of us, when we dare to believe in them, we’re more likely to use long and short free segments of time when we get them to further our writing careers.  When we know where we’re going, we’re more confident about taking the steps to get us there.  No matter how far off they may seem, to deny our brightest dreams is to halt our progress.

The journey is a difficult one, of course, but we didn’t choose it because it’s easy to be a writer.  No professional chooses that way:  Oh, I think I’ll be a lawyer, a teacher, a doctor, an accountant, because it’s easy. Ha.

And if we know we’re dealing with, say, a five-year plan, we’re going to be less impatient.  We begin to appreciate the journey, the learning, and the people we meet along the way.  And once we love the journey, we realize that we don’t have to wait a single minute to love every aspect of this writing life.

I hope it’s another brilliant writing week for you.

muse smallThis week from @yourwritingmuseI admire the way you approach a resting project, with renewed vigor and enthusiasm. Your fan, Your Writing Muse

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How Walking Helps Writing

AnalyzesmallThe New Yorker’s article Why Walking Helps Us Think  sends a very clear message to writers. Walking helps our brains.   We have never had much doubt movement helps our bodies, or that we’re designed to walk many hours a day.

Our careers depend primarily on our writing minds, our ability to keep learning, and, above all, on keeping interested and excited about our writing projects.  We would also like to stay alive inside our useful and perhaps underappreciated bodies long enough to publish stories enough to fill bookshelves.

A year ago, inspired by the New Yorker article, and by Devon Boorman’s excellent article on posture, I experimented with walking a solid hour a day for 100 days, 6-7 days a week. Throughout that time I recorded my experiences and my Writer’s Rewards here.

Given the difficulty of adding anything to our busy lives, I wonder whether something that does not serve us or bring joy couldn’t be shortened or even excised to make room for going for a walk.  Without earbuds, because it turns out that quiet rests and revives a working mind.

Here’s to a ramble, a promenade, a constitutional for body and mind.

I hope you’ll have another brilliant writing week.  Cheers, Mel

muse smallThis week from @yourwritingmuseGreat dreams and small steps get your career revving nicely. Your fan, Your Writing Muse

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Raven 2016 small

The Raven Takes Wing

September is like a second new year.  Even to those of us who are no longer in school, the slightly cooler but still-sunny days breathe fresh life into projects that have been lying dormant in the heat of summer, and invigorate us to pick up our tools of the trade and return to work with renewed vigour.

Brenda CarreThat makes September the perfect time to launch our third annual Raven Short Story Contest.  We’ve dropped the entry fee by $5 this year, and the number of entrants are limited to 200, making your chances of winning superb!  And we’re delighted to welcome back Brenda Carre who has graciously agreed to be our final judge again this year.

So take wing on fresh breeze of September, and send us your best short stories.  May the finest-feathered fiction win!

See contest guidelines here.

Spring 2015 cover image smallFor inspiration, and to glean what catches our judges’ eyes, you can read Raven winners and finalists from previous years in Pulp Literature Issue 6 and Issue 10.Issue 10 small

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Creating Writing Time

croppersherosmallWhen we’re designing our ideal writing lives within our everyday lives, it’s well to tailor them to our own rhythms, but it’s also worth challenging our scheduling habits.

Something that does not serve us has got to give, whether it’s TV or computer time, the Saturday grocery shopping trip (order online?) or the weekend cleaning blitz (a little every day, see flylady.net?)

And, if we can’t cut a single thing from our week to create more time, then we can and perhaps must say to ourselves There is a time for everything, and when I can, I will. My writer’s life will still be there when I’m ready.

Every writer’s experiences and needs are different, and we’ve all got particular dreams, talents and abilities that will push us, through planning and creating, ever more resolutely and effectively towards the writer’s life we desire.  We can begin immediately to eliminate time-wasters that don’t serve us, and infuse the time we create this way with creative thought.

Everybody who is doing anything that feels worthwhile knows that enjoying it means doing the actual work. And we know that joy in work comes with making the time to forever improve and evolve in our craft.

I hope you’ll have another brilliant writing week. Cheers Mel

muse small

From @yourwritingmuse:

Because you’ve crafted your hero’s growth through your story, your revision time is halved.  Kudos from your fan, your  Writing Muse

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Dark of Night Thoughts

sleeping woman small vertical copyFrom time to time a buzzing mosquito of a thought comes to us, perhaps in the middle of the night:  There are so many books out there already.  Authors are even giving them away free.  How can I possibly hope to compete?

We don’t need to compete.  Leave competition to the big publishers to tussle among themselves with numbers.  All we have to do is write excellent books and find a readership, for which there has never been a better time.  Then, whether we publish independently or through a publishing company, our own particular stories will appeal to our own particular readers.

We are all individuals, and if we write honestly, with passion, accomplished storytelling, and a drive to become our best writing selves, we will write good books.

I’m reminded of the stories of Hugh Howey, who published independently, and when his work turned out to be so good that it couldn’t be overlooked, a publisher picked him up. (He keeps his ebooks independent.) And Elena Ferrante, of the Naples Series, who keeps herself to herself and believes that so long as her books are good enough, they will find a readership.

And if, in the dark of night, the number of authors out here still appears daunting, I always think it’s a happy break for us writers that most of us are also voracious readers.

I hope you’ll have another brilliant writing week.

Cheers, Mel

muse small

From @yourwritingmuse: I admire the way you create tough short- and long-term goals for your protagonist.

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8 Reasons to enter the SiWC Writing Contest!

Siwc

  1. At $15 (Canadian dollars) it’s about the cheapest contest around, yet has a $1000 prize.
  2. The winner and runner-up are offered publication in Pulp Literature alongside our 2017 feature authors!
  3. Did I mention the $1000 prize? (about $775 USD)
  4. You’ll ensure you write a finished story by the Friday, September 23rd deadline!
  5. The dozen or so shortlisted authors will be read by Diana Gabaldon and Jack Whyte, and that in itself is a reward.
  6. You’ve got good odds.  Despite the high award amount, this isn’t a well-known contest.   As far as I know, they place no paid advertisements and don’t put listings on free sites.  So lucky you for reading this blog post!
  7. Did I mention the $1000 prize?  (No wait, that’s now $800 USD…)
  8. You’ll be joining forces with a spectacular community of writers.  The “Surrey Conference” is known as the friendliest writing conference in North America, for good reason.  We highly recommend it!   (If you’re considering attending, hurry to sign up! They’ve almost sold out!)
    SiWC 2016 Contest Guidelines here!

 

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What if You Caught Some Zzzs, F. Scott Fitzgerald?

CLockforblogginThe archetypical swan-pale writer taps out chapters through the night, whiskey at hand, refusing food and slumber.  It makes you wonder how much more Fitzgerald might have done if he’d put a little bit of that creative genius into living better.  No matter how well we write when we’re feeling crappy, we write even better when we feel well.

But, when we’re looking for more writing time, it’s tempting to take our health for granted.  “I’ll go to bed later.”  “I’ll get up earlier.”  “I’ll lock myself away until it’s done.”  “No time to cook.”  “Walk? When?”  How much better to carve out writing, revising, and publishing time from what doesn’t serve us: repeated email checking, web surfing, online shopping, phone twiddling, and the rest of the close-focus time-eating opportunities offered by the brilliant network of 21st century life.

Of all the assets we bring to the reading world, a writer’s greatest strengths are personality and intellect.  Our minds shine through every word we write.  Getting exercise, particularly walking (see the the New Yorker article on thinking and walking here) improves our thinking.  Eating whole foods, including more vegetables than we ever thought possible, helps our brains operate better.  Getting a good night’s sleep lifts our moods, and helps us see what we can create, how far we can go, and how to live the writing life we desire.

I hope it’s another brilliant writing week for you.

Cheers, Mel

muse small

From @yourwritingmuse: You take five minutes to brainstorm intriguing settings. KudosYour Writing Muse.

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Designing a Writing Life

“If you don’t desigrobotgardenersmalln your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan.  And guess what they’ve got planned for you?  Not much.” –Jim Rohn

Writing out goals shapes my days’ work. It shapes my days as well.  I’m always on the lookout for ways to shake up my day planning and goal setting for this writer’s life.

Last week I sat in the garden, gazing at the overgrown ivy.  I mused on authors’ careers, thinking,  All writers make something out of nothing.  Writers aren’t the only ones who do so, but it’s an exciting thought.  Pretty daring stuff.

And, within the same writing career, it’s an honourable business to work to support the creating of something new, for one’s own work, and for others’ careers as well.

A rough list for creation:  drafting chapters, outlining, goal setting, writing blogs, writing marketing plans, developing any new skill or superpower, such as bookkeeping.

For supporting creation:  typing up, revising own and others’ work, reviewing the week, polishing, marketing, publishing, bookkeeping.

Every profession claims lists like these.  As I try to fit these activities into my week, I can’t help reflecting that’s no wonder some professions come with assistants.

I hope it’s another great writing week for you.

Cheers, Mel

muse smallThis week from @yourwritingmuse: You write intriguing dialogue. Great exchanges of power. I want to read and never stop. Kudos from your Writing Muse.

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In the Swim, In Publishing

twofishsmallI hear this a lot: “It’s just not a good time for publishing  any more.  Should have been there thirty years ago.” Anybody who dealt with  getting books published in the 70s, 80s or 90s – or indeed any still earlier decade – probably gives a quiet, slightly mad, chuckle when they hear these words.

Gosh, was it difficult to deal with publishers in the olden days of typewriters and then dot-matrix paper with those damned strips of holes to rip away at the sides.  You had to produce a perfect paper copy, package it and send it away with a self-addressed stamped envelope.  Or with a international reply coupon, if you were mailing to the States, which you were.  And then the threshold guardians of the time folded the  mimeographed purple-bleeding rejection:  “…not suitable for our purposes at this time but we wish you all the best.”  And, you sent your envelopes out one at a time and waited six months, a year or a decade for a reply.  You know what people said back then? “It’s just not a good time for publishing anymore.”

Sure, you didn’t have to think about having an author page or tweeting anything — but writing for shopping newspapers was a recommended starting place, if you were lucky enough to get that gig.

But then or now, best practice comes down to this:  Use the time you’ve got to write a book that is so excellent that your readers don’t want to stop reading it.  And then write another one.  And so on.

I hope it’s another brilliant writing week for you.

Cheers, Mel.

muse small

This week from @yourwritingmuse: I love the subtle way you connect the end of a scene to the start of the next. Great rhythms. Your fan, Your Writing Muse

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