Release Day: Coping, Celebrating, & Cheering

Tomorrow my first book will officially have it’s book birthday, and go out into the big old world. It’s a tremendously exciting moment, one I’ve worked toward for years, really since I wrote my first novel back in junior high (yes, really, and no, I don’t think I’ll mention just how long ago that was.) 😉 And while I, like you, might be releasing that first book and there are so many wonderful things about that moment, let’s admit: it can also be pretty darned terrifying, and I don’t think it’s just me feeling that way. 

I *could* go over all the ways it’s terrifying, but that wouldn’t be very nice, would it? Especially if either of us suggest something the other hadn’t thought of yet. 😉 Instead, I wanted to share what I’m doing to celebrate and bring some of the love back to my own book release in hopes that maybe some of those things will work for you, too. 

1) Choice of release date. The first thing I did was plan my book release on my youngest daughter’s birthday, or for another large, personal event. I know, many people (including my husband) have said it was crazy to do so, but I actually did it very intentionally. I have a lot of wonderful and wise friends who have released their books before mine, and I’ve heard about the stress and less-than-wonderful feelings that can sometimes accompany a book release, so I wondered how I might try to avoid some of that. My solution was to try and be busy. It’s my daughter’s second birthday: I HAVE to help her celebrate. I don’t have to stress endlessly about what’s happening (or not happening) to my book. 🙂 I also chose to release my book on a Wednesday, rather than the Tuesday when most traditional houses release their books. And selected October, when I hoped most of my target audience might be have started to settle into routine and be ready for a fun read. 

2) Return the love. Most people look forward to signing their books. For me, I chose to have the proof copy of my first book signed by all the people who have loved and supported me along the journey to first publication. Granted, this page is missing some significant signatures, like my wonderful CP who is miles away, and the amazing Dreamweavers, my group of 2014 Golden Heart sisters. But when I look at those signatures, it reminds me of my family who have believed in me, who have helped me along the way, and it brings some of that love back to a physical copy of my book. It reminds me that my book is made of more than just words and the hard work that went into it – that love is there too. 

3) Remember to Celebrate. Yes, there are a thousand-and-one things I could (and perhaps should) do to promote my work, boos tit out in the world. But amidst that, I also want to take the time to celebrate what I have accomplished with this milestone. See the comment above about planning it on my daughter’s birthday? I’d hoped this would give me further reason to go out and celebrate that day. My daughter and I will both be celebrating a special birthday, and at the very least, I think that deserves a nice lunch out together, don’t you? I think sometimes we’re always looking so far ahead at what we need to do, what we want to accomplish, it’s easy to forget the moment we’re in, to cherish and celebrate that moment. And on release day, after all that it takes to get to that moment, isn’t it worth celebrating it too? I think so. 

4) Borrow some confidence. Feeling kind of shaky about the reception your book will find out in the big ol’ world? Me, too. The world is a big, wonderful place, and there are lots of terrific differences between all of us which contribute to making that world a more interesting place, which means not everyone will love my work, not everyone is my ideal reader, and that’s okay. So on the days when I’m feeling most nervous, my confidence shaken, those are the days to cling to the words of people who ARE excited about your work, who do want to see more. Because inside, I’m pretty sure you (like I) know you’ve got a lot to offer and that this is just the beginning. But when it’s hard to see past the fear, borrow some of that confidence others have in you until your own makes a roaring come-back. 🙂 

5) Write the next book. Yes, I want to celebrate this book heading out into the world. But you know what will help this book and me? Giving that book some siblings to keep it company out there! So, it’s time to work on not just pushing this one book, but also building my career – and that means more than one book! Alas, while I wish I could work on so many different projects at once (and of course, get them all done faster), I have to content myself right now with writing one book at human-speed for now. Which is what I’m doing. And you know what? I’m even more excited about this next book in the series than I was about the first, which makes me more excited to get book one out into the world. After all, readers should find that one first, right? 

So that’s what I’m going to be doing and reminding myself of tomorrow on release day. What about you? Any tips or advice? Need a bit of confidence / a cheer to keep you going? Comment below, and I’m happy to give you one. 🙂 

Otherwise, thanks for stopping by and reading. And remember: there’s always magic in the world if you look hard enough. 

On the Power of Hope and Dreams for Writers

Perhaps it isn’t surprising that in my first book, the acknowledgements section is pretty long. 😉 I also dedicate my book to all the dreamers out there. And the reason for both is very much the same: I was, and am, a dreamer. And without the support of all those people I list in the acknowledgements – plus probably many more I’ve neglected to mention – I wouldn’t have had the power of hope to keep fueling my dreams. 

I do believe that dreams and hope are a writer’s fuel. Yes, we need concrete goals too – we can’t just get away with pretending everything is a lollipop dream where someday things will be perfect (spoiler alert: that’s not reality.) We have hope that we will accomplish our dreams, and sometimes, that’s what carries us. It’s the space between hope and dreams where the hardwork comes in, where we have to set goals, solidify our intention, and get work done. Yet, without hopes and dreams, I wonder at our ability to create whatsoever.

If you think about it, that first story idea you get, heck, the very idea of writing whatsoever, is something of a dream. Perhaps it came to us literally while we slept – or at least the initial concepts of it. Perhaps it’s only the initial stages of the idea of writing a story or an entire novel. We have to be able to conceptualize it first, to have some faraway plateau we’re reaching and striving for – and those are our dreams. They are the seeds of all we will create, and perhaps indeed, all that we will become. 

But let’s face it: it’s a lot easier to just dream of writing a book than actually getting the work done. Even if we do write the book, or perhaps many books, we face rejection, critique, and doubt. Then say we actually get published. Sorry say, but those challenges that hurt before continue to dog us. Sometimes, we will want to give up. Some might even say it would be more sane to give up (because what we do? It’s perhaps not entirely sane in the first place.) 😉 

And that’s where hope comes in.

Hope fuels us, keeps us striving for those dreams, even if (or when) they might be completely ridiculous. Hope makes us certain that somehow, we will get there. Or if not certain, at least still willing to fight. 

And when the really dark times come, that’s when our support network comes in. They lend us their hope. They help shoulder our dreams, and trudge forward, perhaps dragging us along in their wake, even when we’re certain we can’t take another step. They keep pushing, tugging, hauling us forward until we get another glimpse at our dream, another refuel of our hope. That might take the form of a great review or an enthusiastic request. Whatever the case, onward we go again. Still hoping, still dreaming, still creating. 

So if you’re out there, and you’re writing or working toward your dream, whatever it is, remember to fuel your dreams with hope. Remember to borrow some when you’re running short, and whatever the case, to keep moving forward. I’ve dedicated my book to all the dreamers out there with the certainty that if you don’t give up, if you cling to your hope and your dreams, as shifting and changeable as they may, that you will achieve your goals and dreams too. Dream big. Hope furiously. Make your own happy ending. I know you can do it.

Now to you: what do you think? Are dreams and hope linked? If so, how are they linked for you? 

Thanks for reading! Have a great week, and remember: there’s always magic in the world if you look for it. 

Spreading disease isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

 

Piper Bane wants nothing to do with her pesky Pestilence bloodline and would give anything to be a Normal. In fact, she put Beckwell–land of the paranormal and home of the weird–in her rear-view ten years ago, and hasn’t been back since. Until an invitation to her best friend’s wedding coaxes her back home and reminds her what it means to continue the legacy of the four horsemen of the apocalypse. She receives a typical Beckwell welcome the second she reaches the city limits where she’s stalked by a toad and wraps her car around a tree. And is rescued by the one person she most wants to avoid: Daniel Quilan. Town doctor, genuine nice guy, and her ex-fiancé.

 

 

Ten years hasn’t been long enough for Daniel Quilan to forget the only woman he’s ever loved. His responsibilities as Beckwell’s only doctor keeps his mind off the hole Piper Bane left in his chest when she broke his heart and skipped town all those years ago. His not-so-ordinary patients and his trouble-making twin brother keep Daniel occupied twenty-four-seven, not to mention magic going haywire throughout town. But his plan to stay busy as the town’s golden boy is shattered when his latest patient turns out to be Piper. How good she looks isn’t his concern. How she still makes fire shoot through his veins isn’t his focus. But the fact that someone wants to end the world and will use Piper to do so……that makes her impossible to ignore.


Buy links: 

Amazon http://hyperurl.co/gz32q5  

Apple http://hyperurl.co/t8ikfb 

Barnes & Noble http://hyperurl.co/9oletm 

Chapters http://hyperurl.co/221yzq 

Kobo http://hyperurl.co/q0dfix 

 

Google http://hyperurl.co/xdwkfg




Magical World

I write this post sitting in my living room using only the light of the windows since the power is out due to a snowstorm, and I can’t help but think: we live in a pretty magical world. And I don’t mean magic like witches and wizards and the paranormal (though those are definitely cool too!), but just this world. Nor do I mean to say we live in a perfect world. But even still, I think we can still take moments to remember that there is magic around us in so many amazing forms.

I’m inside my house, and though the heat is out and it’s just below freezing outside, I’m safe and warm. I mean, technically if the power’s out for any longer, I can light a fire like our ancestors used to have to, but it’s still an option here. Although I live in the country, I can still easily and quickly travel into nearby cities for whatever I need in relative speed and comfort. A tiny device like my phone or tablet can hold entire libraries worth of books and resources, at my fingertips. Although my phoneline is technically down, I can still contact the outside world using my cell.

Heck, thanks to this modern world, we’re being introduced to new ways to publish, share, and make our mark on the world. I no longer have to slave over handwriting versions of a very limited book, nor do I have to seek out a printer, nor a publisher. You don’t have to know me to buy my book, to find out about it. It exists in a nebulous realm of the electronic world where you can push a button, it will be printed, and someone will get it to you, not even at great expense. Think of all those options we have, how much easier our lives have been made with these conveniences and modern marvels, because while we might barely give them any thought, they really are marvels.

I’m using the last of the juice left on my tablet (already used up my laptop’s very sad battery), and I’m writing something that could be seen by someone miles away, in different countries, just minutes after I post it. Before the invention of the telegraph, the fact that you had to physically get something in front of someone for them to see / hear about it was just the way life was. Now, think how much the world has changed even since the prevalance of smart phone has changed our lives and society forever? News can be shared the moment it happens. People I’ve never actually met can hear about me, my little book, my little life so easily via things like social networking, and then there’s the entire world of possibilities that the internet opens up. 

Indeed, yes, there is a darkside to the speed and connectedness our modern society has and the world we live in. But just right now, I want you to imagine the magic. I want you to look for it. Yes, there are terrible things happening in our world all the time, and sadly, there probably always will be. And we need to try to alleviate suffering and do our best to make that world better. But I also believe that means we need to sometimes step back and look for the magic, look for the joy this world has to offer. Because it’s there too, if you remember to look for it. 

So I’m asking you now: what magic can you see in the world around you right now? I love comments. 🙂 

Thanks for reading. And hey, want more magic? I’m starting a newsletter where each month I’ll share 5 magical things I see in my world, and I invite you to share those too. Come visit me at shellychalmers.com to chat, sign up for the blog or my newsletter, or just share some of the magic of the world.

Thanks for stopping by, and remember: there’s always magic in the world if you look hard enough. 

Control What You Can, Release the Rest

There’s a massive wildfire burning in my province right now that has forced the evacuation of the entire town of Fort McMurray, the largest evacuation in our province’s history. Yesterday, it was expected that the fire was almost under control. And then today, winds turned unexpectedly, and the fire spread faster and hotter. It’s already consumed homes of people forced to leave on short notice, watching flames licking higher than the trees in what’s being described as an apocalyptic horror. Tomorrow is expected to be an even more severe day for the fire. 

And it’s a drastic reminder of in some ways, how life can change in the blink of an eye. Just when we think we have things figured out, just when we figure out how to best balance our life and career / maneuver through the publishing industry / just get through the day with some measure of control, the game changes.

I’ve been feeling lately how easy is to slide into an overwhelmed state where the sometimes crazy-making nature of the publishing industry gets me down. My writing career is always finding the balance between my personal life and my writing life – a particular challenge when writing and my stories are such a part of me, it can be difficult to set them aside or balance them with other needs in my life. There’s also the other balance between the creative side of the job (ie: the brainstorming, writing, and playing with words) balanced with the business side of the job (promoting / selling my work, social media awareness for my career, deadlines, etc).

So I tried to make the equation simple for me, because I am nothing if not eager to simplify anything that could be construed as math. 😉 

What I can’t control? 

Lots. More than I can possibly list. And trying to consider it all? That’s crazy-making. I can no more control how an agent or editor reacts or feels about my work than I can control or predict the path of a wildfire. Yes, there’s some I can do, like write the best book I can, keep improving, and sometimes get out of the way. But for the most part? I have to learn to live with what I can’t control. 

What I can control? 

My writing, and the design of my latest teapot. Those I know I have control over.

This is a survival requirement for me. Because if I started thinking about all the factors I can’t control, it will paralyze me with fear. 

Just like if I started thinking about the possibility of our heavily forested area catching fire, and potentially having to face the possibility of leaving my dream home behind. If I worried about this all time, or let it consume me just as I could thinking about the publishing industry all the time, I’d be a nervous, paralyzed wreck!

Because what matters is how you survive. Whether that means bringing things down to a simple equation of what you can control, and releasing all that you can’t, or remembering that even if you did have to abandon your home, if you have your family with you, your lives and the very great of you, you can move forward no matter what happens. 

My thoughts and prayers to all those affected by the Fort MacMurray wildfire. And if this isn’t familiar to you, here’s an article where you can find more information and which was in my thoughts while writing this post. Article for information: Wildfire in Alberta’s energy heartland forces thousands to flee.

And to you: thanks for stopping by! Wishing you a week where you focus on what you can control, leave the rest behind, and remember what’s really important.  

 

Failure, Shame, and Faith

I’ve been thinking quite a bit failure. And shame. And the confidence to have the faith that your path is the right one for you.

Why do we sometimes feel ashamed of our accomplishments (or perhaps lack thereof) and not want to share them? This makes me sad, for anyone feeling that way, and frankly for myself too, since I have felt (and do feel) that way.

First, I would never, ever want anyone to feel they somehow weren’t measuring up – or indeed, that they had to in the first place. Because that’s often how I feel. And I confess I probably wouldn’t always recap my weeks accomplishments to my writers’ group if I wasn’t the one collecting said recaps. 😉

Second, why do we do that to ourselves? Measure ourselves against one another – even when we KNOW our journey is our own, our path isn’t the same as anyone else’s, etc, etc. And I say the etc, etc, because sometimes that’s how I hear the words too. Yes, I might know-but it doesn’t mean I don’t still compare myself anyway, despite my best intentions and efforts not to.

And finally, what do failure and shame mean, and are they necessarily a bad thing? Sure, I might not have gotten as many words as someone else. Maybe it was a crappy week. Maybe it’s been a crappy month. Maybe it’s a crappy book. But where is the line? Where does a failure become something we learn from and move forward, whereas other things / events shame us, holding us back? Why is it some failures / mistakes are easy to classify as “a learning experience” while others seem more like signs we’re doing the wrong thing / on the wrong path / making yet another mistake?

The short answer is that I don’t know. Although I suspect it has to do with how some so-called “truths” are easier to accept or buy-into because they somehow fit some inner narrative we’ve created, whether it’s a false narrative or not. Therefore, it’s easier for me to be ashamed of the fact that I’ve written a heck of a lot of books (10 at last count, I think) and I’m still un-agented and unpublished. Since I’m a Gemini, I simultaneously get to think of some of those books as the learning experiences (aka failures) they were.

It’s where one draws the line that gets me. Is it just time that helps me shift some experiences and creations into that “learning experience” category whereas others –rightly or wrongly–remain in the “still worth trying or I’m a failure if I give this up” category? I’m not sure. But I’m always trying to move forward and understand. And hopefully understanding failure doesn’t have to mean shame. Nor, I hope, does it have to mean comparison.

I am me. I’m doing the best that I can. Sometimes that’s better, sometimes that’s worse, but I’m still me.

What do you think?

Wishing you a great week of writing, and remembering (and valuing) who and what you are, no matter who or what anyone else is. 🙂

 

Comparison vs Acceptance of Self

comparisonI saw this quote today, and it truly spoke to me. Likely because it’s something I’ve been thinking about lately, and because I honestly believe it’s true.

Here’s the thing: it’s no great secret that all of us are different. That means the path our life leads us on – personally and professionally – will naturally likewise be different. That’s part of what MAKES us different, and that’s a good thing. Really.

Why, then, would we look at someone else’s journey / successes / experiences and compare them to our own? We aren’t them. Our story isn’t theirs. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

What is wrong is when somehow that comparison is made, and you allow it to lessen the worth of your own story. Or, in your own pain, decide to lessen the value and joy someone else is experiencing.

Last night, I watched the second part of a bio on Frank Lloyd Wright. This was the second part of the bio, chronicling the latter portion of his life and career (part of The Masters series. This is the PBS link, though that’s not where I watched it.) Anyway, a large part of it dealt with how by the age of sixty or so, his career was considered essentially over. New architects from the International Modernist School (forgive me if I’ve mangled that) were gaining in popularity. Evidently, Mr. Wright was said to name flies after some of these new architects…just before he swatted them. He was publicly considered a has-been, and was also public in his denunciation of the new architects and style. Perhaps this was in part the reflection of the video, but it seemed as though he’d let comparison to others stymy his own creativity.

WrightquoteWhatever the case, one of the most inspiring parts was that this was not the last of Mr. Wright. Far from it. In his seventies, he re-booted his career in rather remarkable fashion. He is remembered now as a man who remained true to his own vision, a rebel, and truly someone who forever changed how people thought about architecture and the homes we live in.

Not a bad legacy for a guy killing his rivals in fly-form I’d say.

And how terrible if he had remained in that state, letting comparison and professional jealousy eat him from the inside. Think of the many beautiful master-works he never would have created.

Think of the master works YOU could create if you stopped looking at someone else’s story, comparing your journey to theirs, and instead, got on with your own work and your own journey. They are distinctly yours, and who knows: maybe someone else is comparing themselves to you. Now wouldn’t that be silly?

Your turn: what do you think? How do you move past comparison and get on with respecting and valuing your own journey, your own story?

Acceptance and Publication: A War of Attrition?

I’ve been out querying and feeling a bit down about my writing lately – one of the low points in the ride, perhaps – and my husband suggested that I had to consider the process towards publication like a war of attrition.

I got the feeling he meant I couldn’t simply give up, but I had to actually look up what he meant for a definition this morning. For those of you as “familiar” with this term as I was, here are some definitions:

war of attrition plural wars of attrition [countable]
a struggle in which you harm your opponent in a lot of small ways, so that they become gradually weaker (source: Longman online dictionary)
In game theory, the war of attrition is a model of aggression in which two contestants compete for a resource of value V by persisting while constantly accumulating costs over the time t that the contest lasts. The model was originally formulated by John Maynard Smith[1], a mixed evolutionary stable strategy (ESS) was determined by Bishop & Cannings[2]. Strategically, the game is an auction, in which the prize goes to the player with the highest bid, and each player pays the loser’s low bid (making it an all-pay sealed-bid second-price auction). (source: Wikipedia, along with a much longer and more detailed definition.)
The way he put it, basically you have to continue to query and submit until eventually, you win because the other “player” (in this case the agents and publishers) simply give in.
I’m not sure I agree – in fact, I’m pretty sure I don’t.
While I do believe it’s important that we continue to get our work out there, to never give up (especially on the days you really want to), I think instead of a war of any kind, it’s more like you’re continuing on a hunt for the right “match.” Hmm, instead of a war of attrition, maybe it’s a bit more like the children’s game, Snap – you know, the one where you have a whole bunch of cards facedown, and you turn up one and then go hunting for the matching card. You win the pair if you find the match. If you don’t, you turn them both back over and start again on your next turn.
I suppose my opposition to the progress towards publication being like a war of attrition, is that it assumes a winner and loser, one side eventually admitting defeat; a rejection isn’t a loss, but simply a lack of match.
So, what do you think?
Thanks for reading, and have a great day.