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




A Dream of a Dream

I can’t really remember how long I’ve dreamed of becoming a published author. At least since junior high when I wrote my first novel which was…well, let’s just say “awhile” ago so I don’t look too old. 😉

But as I prepare to actually launch my first book into the world in…hmm, just under a month today, actually, I’ve thought a lot about what it means achieve that dream. Or if all I’d ever really had was a dream of a dream.

I’ve never been short on imagination, which is probably part of what led me to writing in the first place. So I think I must have had a vision or dream of what it meant to be published. Lots of it was probably deluded, which fortunately isn’t uncommon among new writers. 😉 But as I came to better understand the industry–and that those dreams of huge advance checks, accolades, early success, etc were all fairly unlikely, I started to develop a different vision.

I pictured working with an editor, how I’d always turn in my book on schedule, be easy to work with while still knowing when it was worth disagreeing. I probably wouldn’t be a top author, especially not early on, but I’d slowly keep building my readership and moving up at one publishing house, and then hopefully branch out to others, like self-publishing and becoming a hybrid-author, aided by the business-savvy guidance of my agent.

Confession: I think I felt I needed someone else’s approval before I was able to make my dream a reality. The same kind of approval you get in school, when you get good grades and your parent-teacher nights are mostly them saying nice things about you. And I think I kind of expected / wanted that. That approval would become a kind of validation that yes, my writing was good, someone wanted it–and someone other than friends or people who were otherwise personally associated with me. 😉

Yet, that’s not what happened. I’ve had different marks of validation: I was fortunate enough to final in RWA’s the Golden Heart® Contest. I’d had interest and enthusiasm from agents and editors. But in the end, no sales.  I found I’d reached a point of frustration where it didn’t seem to matter what I did, it was out of my hands. But worse, I was letting outside forces determine the worth of my writing…and my worth.

Fortunately, traditional publishing isn’t the only way to get published these days. And many other authors–excellent writers and braver than me–have turned to independent publishing years before I did, which allowed me to ask them for advice and guidance before diving in myself. All of which allowed me to create a different version of my dream.

Must Love Plague: Sisters of the Apocalypse, Book 1 Available today at all retailers. Amazon Apple  Barnes & Noble  Kobo   Google  Chapters

I still worked with an editor, but it was someone I selected and hired. I still turned in my book on time, but I was mostly turning it in to myself, since I now determined the entire schedule. I didn’t have to wait to see what the art department came up with for my cover, since I decided which artist to hire and we worked together to create a cover I adore.  I formatted my books and put them up for sale. And as of last week, I formatted the print version, and for the first time got excited about my book being in readers’ hands. And holding my printed and bound book in MY hands.

I still want to pursue a traditional publishing path as well, since I still want to be a hybrid author (and not just because it sounds like something cool–half-traditional, half-indy – almost a werewolf!) 😉 I’ve just realized that maybe what I had before was a dream of a dream, with all the naive and indefinite fuzziness that requires. But now I’m moving toward something much more tangible. I’m walking that path instead of just picturing it. And you know what? The sky is clear, the fog is clearing, and I’m feeling pretty good.

Have you ever had that? A dream of a dream that turned out so much differently in reality? I love to read comments. 🙂

Thanks for stopping by to read. And remember: if we look hard enough, there’s always magic in the world.

DIY Tiara, or Just a Confidence Boost?

It can be easy as a writer, especially an unpublished writer, to get down, get discouraged, and generally Eeyore like. Yesterday, I wondered if wearing a tiara while preparing breakfast and getting things packed for the day, improved my outlook. I was dressed as a princess (for preschool story time, I swear!), but did I feel all that entitled or more pleased?

Then later on, I realized what it was I really needed. I needed to feel like I wasn’t completely inept and clueless. 🙂

So here’s the deal: we spend a lot of time alone, with our writing, typing away at a keyboard. And when we send out work out into the world (as we must if we want anyone else to ever see it), it’s inevitable we’re going to get rejections. Some will hurt a lot, others will be relatively kind. And yes, we know that not everyone will like our work, that the business is subjective. We have to. Still, there’s something dauntingly depressing as all those rejections start to add up. We can start to mistake the fact that our work just isn’t ready, or that it wasn’t the right match for that particular publisher / agent / reader with the notion that either we or our writing are hopeless, worthless, or crap.

Sometimes, all we need is just a little affirmation that we’re not clueless, and that maybe, as we crawl blindly along a path we understand but can’t see, we ARE traveling the right path, we are doing the right things, making the right decisions. And when the path seems especially dark or hopeless, we need to find small affirmations for ourselves that suddenly seem to light everything up.

For me, it was realizing not only do I know what a career trajectory is, I actually have one! 😉

Sometimes, it’s an encouraging note added by an agent or an editor. Or the words of your critique partners or beta readers who see something worthy in your writing, especially on the days you can’t. It can be the lightening rod when you figure out that story you love and see it all plotted and laid out in your mind. And sometimes, it’s just going out and having a bit of fun, because seriously, without fun, life kind of sucks. 😉

Take heart, move forward, and if you need to, wear that plastic tiara proudly if that’s what makes you feel better. Because you will get to where you want to go, you will achieve your goals if you keep pushing, keep improving, and never, EVER give up. 🙂

Your turn: what helps pulls you back from the darkness and gives you that boost and cheer?

Thanks for reading, and have a great week. And Happy Halloween out there, whether you wear tiaras, fangs, or anything in between. 🙂

Check the Sign-posts: How Far Have You Come? 10 Tips for Progress Measurement

Ever since I was a kid, I’ve loved checking the road signs telling you how far you are from wherever you’re going. Especially when it was a really long drive (here in Canada, most places are a “really long drive” … or maybe those are just my vacations), it’s a half-sign of success when the place you’re headed even shows up on the sign: it means a) you’re on the right road, and b) you can now steadily track sign-to-sign as you continue to get closer.

I think in the rest of our lives – especially as we move towards personal goals – we can do the same thing: check the sign-posts. The problem is that you have to create the signs before you can read them. So, here are my 10 Tips for Progress Measurement – customizable (hopefully) for whatever your goals are.

1. Start at the top. We may all “follow our own paths,” but that doesn’t mean we can’t peek at what someone else has done before us. Find someone(s) who have achieved the goals you want, and via either biographies or simple interviews, discover what steps they took, how they achieved these goals. Your journey may turn our differently, if may be harder or easier than theirs, but they will likely be able to offer tips and steps so you can start to make your “map” to success.

2. Do your homework. Next, start to find more generalized “steps” to what you want to achieve. Do you want to get your book published? What are the steps you need to take to accomplish that? Are their supplemental or added steps you may want to take (like workshops, better honing your craft, conferences, contests, etc)? The library, the internet, other people aiming for the same goal are good resources.

3. Take time for honest self-assessment. Most long-term goals aren’t going to happen overnight (hence the “long” part). Are you really in it until the end? How badly do you want it? This may be the time to craft reasons to yourself why you’re undertaking this goal and why you must succeed that you can reflect on throughout the journey. (See my post on doing just that at: Remembering Why We Persevere: What are your reasons?

4. Write down your goal. This makes it easier to go back to. Articulate precisely and carefully what you want, how you want it, perhaps even a brief statement of how you intend to achieve this. Perhaps your overall goal (like getting published) is actually made up of smaller goals (write book, query agents, sign with an agent, query publishers, etc). The more you break it down, the easier it will be to assess how far you’ve come, and where you need to go.

5. Create your first draft “map” or business plan. You don’t need to have quite all the information yet and this “map” needs to be updated and change as the situation, nuances of your goal and knowledge change, and you learn more from others. Use the steps you’ve gleaned from steps 1 to 3 to create this first draft. Just write it all down – making it pretty and editing comes later.

6. Set a timeline. While it may be impossible to know just how long the journey will be, there are some things you can control. For example, how long are you going to give yourself? Be honest: are you willing to continue with this goal for potentially years into the future? That may be how long it will take. Or, is there a cut-off point? What “points” on your map can be given a timeline? For example, if you’re going to query agents, how many? Over what period? How many manuscripts will you create per year? That sort of thing. The more you ground your plan in actual time, the more it becomes ground into actuality.

7.  Refine your plan. Go back to your plan again, and look at the particular points; are any one of the goals on its own too large to simply accomplish? What steps will you need to accomplish each point? Make yourself as clear a map as: “turn right, turn left, straight ahead 3km, then right again, you’ve arrived.” Insert your timelines into these steps. Your “map” should be getting more refined. But remember, while it’s draft 1 or draft 50, it can remain flexible and you can update and change when you need to – just so long as it keeps guiding you in the direction you want to go.

8. Start on the path up the mountainside, towards your goal. Have you packed everything you need? Is your map clear and precise enough to keep you heading straight to the top? If not, go back to the previous steps again; there’s no shame in checking the map or deciding which points are important to watch out for. In fact, checking the map will keep you from getting lost. If you’re all ready, off you go! (See last week’s post on Mountain Climbing in a Fog for what I’m talking about with this mountain-business.)

9. Assess progress and the path ahead. Remember to look back and ahead at the sign-posts. It’s almost as easy to miss our progress as it is to under or overestimate what lays ahead. So, keep your “map” close, referring to it, checking off and celebrating what you’ve achieved while moving on to new points, all towards your overall goal. Watch out for and maintain your deadlines: you’re getting there, step by step. (For more on this, check out: Persevering and Goal Setting, Pts 1 and 2.)

10. Don’t give up. If you never give up, eventually you will succeed. This is something I firmly believe (and have to) and which can help your persevere. If you give up, you can NEVER succeed. If things seem unattainable, perhaps you need to reassess your plan again, and check back on the reasons you set out on this goal in the first place. Have the reasons changed? Has the end-goal changed? Have outside conditions changed? Alter and refine your plan to reflect any of these changes, and get back on that path: you’ll make it, and you’re so much closer to the top that you know!

So, that’s it: how to create your signposts. Does it work for you? Have I missed any steps?

Thank you, as always, for reading. Have a great week, and all the success in your mountain-climbing: I’ll see you at the top! 😉

Perseverance or Tenacity: Keep on Pushing

This morning I read a blog post that I wanted to share because I think it’s something we all need to consider, especially if trying to succeed in an industry like publishing, or the arts, or … well really, if you want to succeed at anything, accomplish a particular dream, I don’t suppose it matters what industry you’re in.

Anyway, the blog post is: Taking Perseverance to a Whole New Level by Lara Schiffbauer

For me, it arrived at a fortunate time since it’s the end of the month, and in my accidental-wasn’t-planning-to-make-them goals for 2012, I’m trying to stick to sending out at least 3 queries a month, which usually means it falls on the last Monday or Wednesday of the month. Anyway, sending out things like queries can seem a very daunting task, since it always seems to take far more time than you anticipate, and there is that fear that it won’t get the result you desire anyway.

So, onto the blog post by Lara Shiffbauer. Go read her post first, then come back … okay, did you read it? Did you come back?

Anyway, she talks about the big-brother to perseverance, or at the very least, another close relative: tenacity. This being that you stick to what you’re doing without doubting the principle / reasons why you’re sticking with it. It means you can’t second-guess the quality of your work, the potential for failure (or success), all the insidious kinds of “what-ifs” that can assail us. And as I mentioned before, while “what if” can be a terrific friend when we’re working on a piece of fiction, it’s a dark and wily foe if you bring it into real life (you know, the same kind of thing that makes you wonder the horrible reasons your spouse is late, when really, they’re just picking up milk? Yep, that’s Mr. Not-so-nice What-if.)

Really, if you consider it, the questioning of our style of writing, the quality, the marketability, our potential for success, etc, etc, etc, while we do need to assess this at least a little I think, too much assessment (that becomes obsession or brooding), will quickly become the enemy of perseverance. Afterall, what’s the point continuing to fight onward if you’re just going to fail anyway?

Because you can’t succeed if you give up.

When I gloomily suggest all queries will result in rejections (uhoh – getting into superlative and unhelpful description  like “always” and “never” isn’t good), he’s quick to point out that they certainly can’t say yes if they didn’t get a query.

So, how do you need to keep on pushing? How could blind tenacity help you where perseverance might fail? What kind of queries or cold-calls do you have to make to make sure someone on the other end can say yes?

Thanks for reading, and have a great week.