How to be Successful in Two Easy Steps

How to be successful in two easy steps.

  1. Work hardImage
  2. Be kind

Work hard. Make a plan. Work the plan. Make the plan the work. Commit to it for a specific time. Write down what you did and the results so you can measure if your plan is working. If it’s not, in time, create a new plan. I could talk a lot more about this, but I really want to talk about step 2. It’s the step most often forgotten and probably the most important. Remember the cliché, it’s nice to be important, but it’s more important to be nice? Turns out it’s really true.

A number of months ago I wrote a blog post with 5 writing tips. My first and most important tip was not to fight.You can read that here. http://kristystories.blogspot.com/2011/03/writing-tips.html

“This is pretty basic, but it’s important to remember. If you’re like me, the perfect retort to a rude comment isn’t always at my tongue’s tip at the encounter. If you’re fuming and rummaging through your head trying to formulate the perfecting stinging comeback, you won’t be in tune with your story or characters. It’s impossible, for me at least, to feel in sync with my writing if I’m too busy mentally constructing closing arguments. I’m not advocating being a pansy, I’m just saying learn to be a peacemaker. It’ll help you be a better writer (and a nicer person.)”

The truth is the world not only helps those that help themselves, it also helps those who help others.

My friend volunteers on her homeowner’s landscape architectural committee. This means that she sits on a board with other volunteers and makes sure that the slopes and corners in the city look lovely. She has a number of allotted slopes and corners that she’s responsible for and a budget to keep them planted and pruned.

Unfortunately, a woman on the board likes to go behind her back, use her budget and pull her plants. And she’s not only adversarial on the sly—she’s openly hostile at the planning meetings.

And so my friend has a counter attack plan. Every time this woman says anything my friend plans on complimenting her before offering her own input. For example: “You have the most creative ideas—now what about the ivy?” Or, “I can tell you really put a lot of time and thought into the needs of those roses, have you considered geraniums?” You get the picture. It might not work, but it’s a whole lot easier to steal the budget from someone who is throwing you daggers than someone who’s complimenting your creative use of groundcover.

And if that doesn’t work—ask your writer friend to mention the landscape architectural committee control freak in her blog post that will be read hundreds of people, because everyone wants the nice guy to win.

It’s trite but true—you harvest what you plant. And it’s just as easy (probably easier) to plant seeds of kindness as it is plant contention.

And when you lose your temper—you lose.

There’s more than one way to be a loser. In my latest book, Losing Penny—Penny is a loser of a different sort. Cooking show diva, Penny Lee, loses fifty pounds, and gains a stalker. To avoid the attention of her most devoted follower, Penny concocts a plan: while pretending to take a culinary tour, traveling the world, collecting recipes and posting them on her blog, she hides at a remote beach house in Rose Arbor, Washington, where she spends the summer compiling her cookbook.

When English Literature professor Drake Islington is offered the chance to spend the summer at a remote beach house where he can write in peace he happily accepts, never dreaming that he is a pawn in a match making scheme. His encounter with Penny promises a delicious summer, until uninvited guests arrive forcing Penny and Drake to cook up a scheme of their own. When Drake’s mother, a stalker and a donkey named Gertrude join the mix, the town of Rose Arbor sizzles with another tale of romance and suspense.

And so, I’m kindly offering a smashwords coupon to anyone who would like to read and review Losing Penny. If you’re interested, please leave your e-mail address and I’ll send a coupon.

Romance is every day by Jill James

I am not the only woman who thinks my husband is the most romantic they know. I have lots of girlfriends who adore him and how he treats me. We will celebrate 25 years of marriage this June and he still calls me his ‘lovely bride’. It is the little things that add up to romance. A man doesn’t need the grand gesture; the champagne and strawberries, the world-wide vacation, the enormous diamond ring. Okay, we’ll take those things from time to time, but it is the little things we will remember years from when they occur.

rubber stampI came to my marriage after a disastrous live-in relationship. My self-esteem was at an all-time low from being not good enough to marry. So, I met my now husband, fell in love, and prepared to marry. One day we were in his office and he says he has something to show me and takes a rubber stamp out of a small box. You know, the one with your address to put on envelopes. Well, this one says Mr. & Mrs. RealName. I started crying. I had found someone who wanted to be Mr. & Mrs. with me. And was excited about it!!

Over the years there have been necklaces, bracelets, rings, and trips. There have been ballets, operas, and evening gowns. There have been surprise clean houses, surprise flowers on my car seat after a writers meeting, and surprise vacations. But, nothing means as much as that rubber stamp, proclaiming to the world that we are Mr. & Mrs. Somebody every time we use it.

Jill James, author of contemporary and paranormal romance
and a proud Mrs. to her Mr.

Contrary Muse: How Does Your Writing Grow?

Image

Ever been frustrated while writing?

I know, STOOPID question. So if we all experience it, what is the solution?

I used to be able to stay up after the kids were in bed and write until three a.m. Heck, I used to be able to write while the selfsame kids ran around me, screaming and causing themselves bodily injury.

Now…not so much. I’m nodding off at about ten o’clock each night. Don’t ask me to get up early. No, I’m too artistic a soul to be an early bird. For realz, people.

I suppose it’s possible I’ve developed A.D.D. during my autumn years, but for whatever reason I cannot seems to write these days without complete and total non-interruption from the outside world. It’s gotten to the point where if I really want to write, I need to book a hotel room for the weekend. I can crank out 20K words that way. But my wallet scoffs at such indulgence on a regular basis.

I know a private office might help, but all available rooms are occupied by the afore-mentioned offspring. My neighbour raises hounds across the valley and I fear I will run screaming over yonder if I hear them baying for one more second–should I attempt to write outdoors. Oh, have I mentioned I homeschool? Which also means every table area is covered with books, books, and more books–and not the fun kind. It seems I have no place to go.

My bathroom is echoey…and also is a bathroom.

My basement is drafty.

My bedroom has the only flat screen TV with the Roku.

I’m at my wit’s end.

So I’m asking you, with a hint of desperation, what are your little secrets to extruding a bit of word count from your daily life?

Do you have a motivational calendar with pithy sayings each day to rev you up?

Do you read your prior day’s word count for inspiration?

Do you have a contractor who will build an office add-on for free?

Do you angle your legs in uncomfortable positions and meditate?

Have you sold your soul to Calliope?

Image

She does seem pretty nice.

But back to my desperate plea.

Help.

And the winner was…

I promised I’d tell you which cover I chose as the winner. If you Heaven Can Waitremember it was a toss up between the the gorgeous Heaven Can Wait by Cheryl St. John and the striking The Silken Cord by Leigh Bale.

The Silken CordWell, it just about killed me to make the choice because they are both absolutely wonderful covers, but in the end, I chose The Silken Cord by Leigh Bale.

I hope you agree with my choice and I think everyone should agree that these are fantastic covers.  I know I’m going to be reading both books!

I suggest that you stop by http://ebookindiecovers.com and check out the contest each month. It’s a great place to see all the new releases and the best covers!

E. Ayers

It Wasn’t Easy Being a Judge

awardSeveral weeks ago, I was asked to be the judge of an indie book cover contest. This contest takes place every month and it is open to all indie fiction writers. As the judge, I needed only to choose the best out of the finalists. Sounded easy.

So why was I asked? I don’t know for certain, but I do know that every month the judge is chosen from some part of the industry. I’ll assume I was approached because I am an author with a strong background in art. Which is a little like saying that I know what a goldfish looks like. That means I’m supposed to know a good cover when I see one.

This all seemed so simple. Pick the best cover from the January finalists. Easy peasy, except there were all these wonderful covers.

Before I go any further, let me explain. As indies, we are responsible for edits, covers, formatting, and a host of other things so that we can release a book to the public. Some of us who know how to use graphic software, make our own covers, or make covers for friends, but those days are slipping away very quickly as cover sizes have increased to keep up with the new, super e-readers. So what are indies doing? They are turning to professionals and telling them exactly what they want.

Gone are the days when manuscripts were sold to publishers who put a cover on it and the author had almost no say it what the cover was. Today indies have all the control and it shows. They are producing fantastic covers, many with original works of art. They are hiring top-of-the-line cover artists, and they are working with unknown but extremely talented cover people.

There’s a saying in this industry, that to succeed you must write a great book. That’s as true today as it was fifty years ago, and in some ways it’s even truer today as there is more competition. And writing a great book means it must be carefully vetted and edited. (That’s part of writing a great book.) But do we dare judge a book by its cover?

Covers are important. It’s what catches our attention. Makes us stop and really look at a book. There was a time that we walked into a brick and mortar store and wandered through the aisles until something (a cover) caught our attention. Then we’d stop and pick it up, read the back cover, the fly, and the first couple of pages. But that attraction, the thing that made us reach for the book was the cover.Joanne Fluke

The cover tells us plenty. I can spot a Joanne Fluke murder mystery book from fifty feet away. Yes, they are that distinctive. And I’m sure many of you can spot a favorite author the same way. In the business, it’s called branding. Indies have learned from their favorite authors.

Today most books are sold online. But the same thing applies to a cover today. It’s got to make us stop and click on that cover. It’s got to look great as a tiny thumbnail, it has got to attract us, draw us in, make us stop to read the blurb, and the sample pages. With a simple click, that book magically and instantly appears in our ereader, and for some, in the mailbox a few days later.

Now, let me return to judging the January indie covers at http://ebookindiecovers.com. There were sixteen finalists in January. Two had original works of art on them. They aren’t all romances, but they were all fiction. I watched throughout the month as the each week’s finalists appeared. I checked them as thumbprints, and ran them up full size so I wouldn’t miss the fine details. It was tedious. I didn’t want to make a mistake. I didn’t want to unfairly judge a cover. Art is always subjective and covers are a form of art. Was there something about them that made them stand out from the pack?

Heaven Can WaitI was getting down to the wire and coping with two outstanding covers. Cheryl St. John’s Heaven Can Wait and Leigh Bale’s The Silken Cord. Eenie-meanie-miney-moe, catch a bullfrog by the toe. Flip a coin? Best out of three? Nope, I had to actually choose one that was the best. I pulled my hair out. I beat my head on the desk. Two amazing covers. Both made me want to rush out and buy the books. Both were beautiful compositions. Both not only rivaled anything a big publishing house would have The Silken Cordcreated, they excelled in their genre. They raised the bar for all of us.

If you had to choose, which one would you have picked and why?

I promise I’ll be back and tell you which one I choose. But I really do want to hear what you think. Which one grabs you?  Does one pull at your heart strings?

I hope you like the cover for my new River City book A Son. Drop me a note by taking ALL the spaces out of my email addy and I’ll be sure you are notified as to how to get your free copy of this soon-to-be release.

e . ayers @ ayersbookA Son  by  E. Ayerss . com

Talk about a mess! It’s not Gerald’s baby, it’s Joey’s. Katie is a chubby redhead. Her parents are divorced, and she’s been pulled between her parents in custody battles for years. Her mother is a democrat, and her father and stepmother are Bible-thumping Republicans. They are not going to be happy with Katie, but she’s done being pulled. She’s trying to stand on her own two feet, and she’s going to do what’s right for her son. Joey is brilliant, handsome, and his mom was 1/2 black.  He’s kicked Katie out and denies paternity. Gerald Olsen looks like a Nordic god, all blond and blue-eyed. He’s also heir to the Riverton Chemical & Petroleum Company. But Gerald falls in love with Katie, and he’s not choosing between body parts. He wants her and the son she’s carrying.

My Unofficial Advice Column…

Gal Pals

Gal Pals (Photo credit: G. J. Charlet III)

Women often lean on one other for emotional comfort, advice and as a sounding board when times get rough. This is most often true when it comes to relationships. Over the years I’ve wondered if I have a sign on my head that says I know something that my single status might otherwise suggest. So, even though I am unsure of my qualifications, I leave my shingle out and take part in the therapy sessions as they come.

But here is the kicker, every time my friends ask me for advice (and I only give it when asked these days) 95% of the time they don’t listen. Well, okay they listen and they confirm that I give good advice and that is exactly what they should do…they just don’t. I asked one of my friends once what made me a good place to go to when romance issues came up, since I don’t do very well at my own romances? She said just because I don’t listen to my advice doesn’t mean it’s not valuable to others. Ok, I thought she might have a point. Plus, let’s face it these little conversations make great fodder for characters, story lines and this here blog.

The doctor is in

The doctor is in (Photo credit: A.M. Kuchling)

So, in honor of my exceptional advice that is almost never taken I am going to list some of my favorite moments as an unpaid couples counselor.

Q: He says she is just a friend and I shouldn’t worry, should I worry?

A: He’s right don’t worry…dump him, any man who won’t stop being “friends” with a woman who makes you feel uncomfortable has already leveled her status up to more than a friend.

Q:  If he isn’t cheating what does he have to hide?I figure he should be happy to give me all his passwords and let me check his phone.

A: The more you look for something to be mad or jealous about the more you will find. And if he is gonna cheat, he is gonna cheat, no babysitting you can do is going to stop that. Not to mention the time and energy spying requires. Keep him or lose him, but save yourself and don’t babysit the man. Oh and half the time when you do catch them their excuse is “Well you kept accusing me all the time, so I figured if I was gonna be called a cheater all the time I might as well cheat!” Is it lame yes, so put yourself in that position.

Q: What if he cheats on me like all the rest, maybe I should just quit now?

A: Never quit! Never assume that people, that men are all the same. There are good ones out there. And if you are open to receiving one, he will find you. Don’t make your current love, pay for the mistakes of the ones who came before him.

These are the typical talks I find myself having and it seems that my gal pals like my hourly rate 🙂  It’s a special thing about women friends, a good gal pal means you are NEVER alone! So, even though they don’t listen, I will continue to listen to them.

Thanks for stopping by and visiting our page. You can also find me on Amazon and Barnes & Noble where I occasionally use my therapy sessions to create wonderful, flawed and amazing characters.   51UI1w5VJHL__BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA278_PIkin4,BottomRight,-54,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_

Always,

Kelly Rae