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It’s Been A Week.

It’s been a week. A week of frustration. A week of decisions. A week of perimenopause.

In other words, a typical week for me these past few years.

Seriously, I haven’t blogged for the past couple of weeks because I’ve been trying to sort out what to do with my blogs now that I’ve made the decision to be a career novelist. Especially since I’ve been frustrated with the novel that I’m writing.

SO…let’s start with the decisions first.

Decisions made this past week

#1. I’m laying down my blog at liveyourdreamswithemily.com. If I try to keep it updated and write novels, I’m going to go insane.

#2. This blog is going to become…wait for it, wait for it…a blog. My author blog. In other words, I’m usually not going share family stories. Not because I don’t want to, but because I simply don’t have time if I’m going to work on novels.

I need to prioritize.

If not every day, then several days a week I’m going to try to publish a short post summarizing my day as a writer.

#3. I’m going to write 2400 words a day on my novel. Provided I don’t have a frustrating day or three – like the ones you will hear about shortly. This is not the most I’ve ever written every day, but it will be the most I’ve written daily in four or five years.

#4: I’m going to write mostly short-ish novels, between fifty and sixty thousand words. Much longer, and I start to hate them. Like the one I’m working on now.

#5. I’m going to start writing more feel-good, lighter, humorous stories. Because I’m perimenopausal and I need all the levity I can get.

Frustrations

#1. This blog wouldn’t work for two days.

#2. My novel wouldn’t work for three or four days. I got to a certain point, and wrote three different scenes to continue after that point.

Ended up chucking them all.

Know why? Because I was trying to stick to my outline, while my muse (okay, we’re mostly Christians here, so I’ll say, the Holy Spirit) was leading me to go in a different direction.

I know where to go from here, so I’m finally looking forward to writing the rest of it, for the first time in days.

#3. I did a particular promo with My Book Cave that requires me to keep The Envelope priced at free until August 1. I’d been planning to price it at $2.99 and see how sales went with it, because its ranking is pretty good right now.

Perimenopause

TMI coming for you men in my audience.

Looks like I’m skipping a period again. Hopefully, I’ll skip several like I did last July through September.

But because of that, my estrogen levels are whacking out, and hot flashes are back, brain blips are back, moodiness, digestive issues…*SIGH.*

The moodiness has done nothing to help me feel good about the novel I’m writing.

The good news

Last month, I scheduled a promo for The Envelope with, as I mentioned, My Book Cave. I got more downloads with it than I did the first time I promoted through them. Then, for some reason (God?), FreeBooksy decided that since I’ve been a past customer they’d do a pro-bono promo for me. It was just one day, but I noticed the boost.

Finally, I did a featured promo with Robin Reads this past Sunday.

Because of the momentum I’d received from the other two promos, the RR promo brought me into first place in three categories! Not for more than a day or two, but still!!

I continue to get a crazy number of downloads for the novel every day, and have sold more of my other novels and boxed sets than I usually have by this time of the month.

I am thrilled. And planning to either do more book promos, more often, or to start advertising on Amazon.

Because I’m finally getting serious about making serious sales.

Stay tuned for the upcoming reveal of the cover for the first novel in my “Pine Mountain Estates” series.

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The Halfway Point

The other day, I hit the halfway point of my novel. And just like with every other novel, I wanted to quit right there.

The other times, this frustration had made sense, because I hadn’t outlined the plot. But this time, I had a much better idea of where I was going than with any other story I’ve ever written.

But, I wanted to quit. I second-guessed my pre-planned ending. I decided the writing style wasn’t good enough, the dialogue not snappy enough.

I second-guessed the existence of the sub-plot. Heck, I began to second-guess the direction and plots of the other two books I’ve written so far in the series!

I am not alone

Many runners, whether in a marathon or doing their daily deal, experience overwhelm halfway through and are tempted to turn around and go home. A lot of people quit halfway through earning a degree.

People who could have had a forty- to fifty-year marriage give up on it twenty years in (or, of course, much earlier).

Why? Is it because humans are, by nature, quitters?

Au contraire, humans are, by nature, survivors. I think one big reason so many people quit halfway through to a goal is lack of support.

Writers are notorious for being loners. Our culture encourages isolation from others, so we lack cheerleaders and rear-end-kickers when we’re struggling in our marriage or career or with working toward any kind of goal we yearn to achieve.

Another reason people quit at the halfway point? We don’t count the cost ahead of time. Or, we do, but then when we get in the middle of a journey, stuff happens. We get tired and burned out, and forget that it’s normal to disagree with our spouse, it’s normal for experienced authors to think that they’re terrible and that their book is no good, it’s normal to be exhausted halfway through a marathon.

It’s normal to face obstacles.

How to persevere

I stated that I shouldn’t have experienced my usual halfway-point brick wall. However, this time I only needed a day to talk myself down from it, to convince myself that the plot wasn’t ridiculous and the writing wasn’t bad.

The other times? It took me several days, even more than a week (once or twice, more than a month) to get over the Novel Halfway Hump.

What changed? I’ve been listening to podcasts for authors, by authors, who have been sharing about having the same difficulties that I have. The same insecurities.

I’m talking about bestselling, traditionally-published authors.

It’s not the same as face-to-face support, but it’s helped take away the feeling of author loneliness.

And I’ve persevered because past experience has reminded me that obstacles will come, and they will pass.

Or, rather, I can climb over them. Sometimes, if I’m in a good enough mood, jump over them.

Do yourself a favor. Before you embark on a long-term project, remind yourself that obstacles are normal, and that you are well able to overcome them.

And surround yourself with some kind of support system.

Don’t quit halfway. Because then your only choice is to turn around and go back to the beginning, back to the place you were hoping to walk out of.

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Grace For The Weather

Looks like March is, indeed, coming in like a lion this year. A fifty percent chance of snow at the beginning of that month is not normal for southern Oklahoma. Neither are highs in the mid-thirties.

Just writing the words makes me shiver.

And this, after a couple of sunny days (which have been few and far between this winter), with temperatures approaching seventy. I have a YouTube subscriber in Florida who wishes for snow. Well, I’ll trade her our upcoming weather forecast for hers.

This persistently cold winter, not unlike the ones we endured when B was three to seven years old, have really forced me to walk my talk.

In books, videos, and blog posts I have challenged people to persevere through obstacles, to be strong and committed in order to reach their goals. This past winter, I have experienced many days when I wanted to sleep in, and then when I got up, to watch videos or listen to books all day.

In other words, to do nothing productive.

Some days, the root has been hormonal fatigue. But most? The barometric pressure weighing on me like the anchor of a freight ship. I am one of those blessed people who feel every little movement of the atmospheric pressure, more blessed to live in an area where said pressure seems to change at least every other day.

According to Bible scholars, the thorn in the apostle Paul’s side was an eye or vision problem. Weather is the thorn in my side.

Like Paul, I have discovered that God’s grace is sufficient. I may not always have the energy to whip out 300 words every fifteen minutes, and my brain might not pull out the perfect words and plot twists as quickly on those nasty, cloudy days when the north wind is blowing in precipitation.

But if I persist, I have the grace to meet my 2100 words-a-day quota. And write interesting scenes as I do. Even to find time to blog once in a while.

Writing feels like work when I’m sleepy. It feels like work when I’m irritable. But even when the weather’s dragging me down and I don’t feel like doing anything, if I just press through and make myself work, by the end of the day I can revel in the satisfaction of having made significant progress toward my goal.

I feel fulfilled, if not jazzed.

I’m more than halfway through my latest novel, Pine Mountain Dreams. And I’m glad for having learned the lesson that it’s God’s grace that helps me through, not perfect circumstances.

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He Just Might Be Growing Up.

When B was around eighteen months old, he was every mother’s dream.

He cleaned up after himself.

Now, I can’t remember whether it was because I asked him to, or whether I’d asked him to often enough that one day, it just clicked and he started putting up his toys when he was through playing with them.

Either way, he would put them on the shelf, where they belonged, promptly and without fuss.

This went on for a long time. Many, many days.

About thirty of them.

And then, all of a sudden, the wiring in his brain changed and from then on, it was like pulling teeth to get him to pick up his toys. Forget them being put in any sort of reasonable order. I had to resign myself with being satisfied with them being off the floor and furniture, and being contented with having remained sane enough that I didn’t have to check myself into the nuthouse after a bout of nagging him to clean up.

He’s twelve now, and for the past year and a bit the only “toy” he’s really been interested in has been his computer. He alternates between attending YouTube University and improving his eye-hand coordination, visual acuity, and attention to detail via digital manipulation.

Otherwise known as playing video games.

So his toys have been, for the most part, gathering dust. Still, the few times in the past few months he’s taken something off a shelf, he hasn’t been inclined to put it up.

Until recently. The other day, I witnessed a shocking event. B was playing with my foot roller (which I have kept because I convinced myself that one day, I am going to start using it again). He was whipping it around like it was some sort of weapon. A few minutes later, deciding he’d had enough pretend sword fighting, he set the foot roller back on the book shelf.

Yes, that’s where the foot roller lives. I had too much clutter in a certain spot in the bathroom, so I decided the foot roller had to go elsewhere. So I did the sensible, logical thing and stuck it on an a space on a book shelf just big enough for the foot roller. Because the shelf, containing a variety of books, notebooks, and multiple-pocket folders – plus a couple of decorative boxes – wasn’t cluttered enough.

But I digress. B put the thing away without being asked, instead of leaving it on the floor or table or everywhere else where it doesn’t belong.

I wished I’d been making a video.

The very next day, he opened one of the millions of boxes that arrive at our door every year. He did so the way he always does, using the scissors that lives in the top drawer of the kitchen utility cart. Invariably, I’ve had to nag him to put the scissors up when he was done with them, because invariably, he’d leave them on the floor.

Guess what he did the other day, instead?

Yep. He put them back where they belong. Without me having to say a word. Or even give him one of those “mommy looks.”

Somebody should have been making a video of me being knocked down with a feather.

I’m not getting too excited. It may be just another month-long fad. It may be that he is only capable of remembering to pick up after himself every ten and a half years.

Or, my baby may be growing up.

In the meantime, I need to get my camcorder ready the next time he takes something off a shelf or out of a drawer. Just to have proof that he does, indeed, know how to clean up after himself.

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I Did It.

I did it. I finally did it.

Guess what I did. Give up?

Here’s a hint: it’s something that women my age typically have a hard time doing. It’s worse than trying to pull a camel through the eye of a needle. It’s like…it’s like…trying to pass off a Sumo wrestler as an anorexic.

(As a former anorexic, I’m allowed to make that joke. For all you P.C. readers out there.)

So, have you guessed the hard thing that I did yet? No?

All right, here it is:

I stuck to a decision.

I haven’t had any problems making a decision during the past few years. I’ve made plenty.

Like these:

I’m going to delete my YouTube channel. I’m going to get serious with my YouTube channel. I’m going to write four novels a year. I’m never going to write another novel again in my life. I’m going to write and record my own music. What? Who am I kidding?

But a couple of weeks ago, I made a decision and stuck to it. Wait for it…

The decision

I’m going to be a novelist.

“Uh, yeah, Emily, newsflash, you have nine novels for sale in the Kindle store.”

See, that’s the thing. Writing a few novels doesn’t make you a novelist. Just like having a few yard sales doesn’t make you a business guru.

Deciding that you’re going to create a career out of writing novels is what makes you a novelist.

Seeing novel-writing as a business is what makes you a novelist.

I mean, makes me a novelist. Unless you have a novel-writing career, and then, well, it’s you, too. Let’s start a club!

Changes

You will notice that I’ve made a few changes to this blog, a couple of them only in the past couple of days. The obvious one is the header. A professional author must have a professional-looking website, yes?

Then there is the sign-up form in the sidebar.

It’s not the first time I’ve ever had a sign-up form on a blog. Not the first time I’ve tried to build an e-mail list. But it is the first time I have no doubts that this time, I’m going to stick with it. I’m going to build an e-mail list of stark-raving-mad fans of my fiction.

Because everybody, and I mean EVERYBODY with any clout in the arena of selling books – including many Indie-published authors like myself – says that an e-mail list is the number one marketing tool that an author must have.

Other changes? I wrote an “About” page and published a “Contact” page. (PSST! I can practically guarantee that my About page is much more entertaining than the About page of any other author. So go read it!)

Just like a modern novelist should have on their website.

I want to publicly thank Brandon Sanderson, Howard Tayler, and Dan Wells of the “Writing Excuses” podcast, as well as Jim Rubart and Thomas Umstattd, Jr. of the “Novel Marketing” podcast for inadvertently giving me the kick in the rear that I needed to start getting serious about God’s call on my life.

And for facilitating a great miracle: a woman in perimenopause actually made a decision, and stuck to it!

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