Sunday, September 25, 2011

16 Harsh Truths That Will Make You Stronger

I love to listen to Mark and Brian in the morning out of the L.A. area. I missed their show the other day, but saw an intersting post on Facebook from them on the 9545KLOS page. Next to a picture of Jack Nicholson from his "You can't handle the truth!" rant was this title: 16 Truths That Will Make You Stronger. Naturally, I was curious so I clicked on the link. What I found was true (for the most part) although I would have called it "16 Common Sense Things I Hope You Already Know." It's still good information. See if you can handle the truth... 

1. Life is not easy - Hard work makes people lucky - it's the stuff that brings dreams to reality. So start every morning ready to run farther that you did yesterday and fight harder than you ever have before.

2. You will fail sometimes - The faster you accept this, the faster you can get on with being brilliant. You'll never be 100% sure it will work, but you can always be 100% sure doing nothing won't work. So get out there and do something! Either you succeed or you learn a vital lesson. Win-win.

3. Right now, there's a lot you don't know - The day you stop learning is the day you stop living. Embrace new information, think about it and use it to advance yourself.

4. There may not be a tomorrow - Not for everyone. Right now, someone on Earth is planning something for tomorrow without realizing they're going to die today. This is sad but true. So spend your time wisely today and pause long enough to appreciate it.

5. There's a lot you can't control - Wasting your time, talent and emotional energy on things that are beyond your control is a recipe for frustration, misery and stagnation. Invest your energy in the things you can control.

6. Information is not true knowledge - Knowledge comes from experience. You can discuss a task a hundred times, but these discussions will only give you a philosophical understanding. You must experience a task firsthand to truly know it.

7. You can't be successful without providing value - Don't waste your time trying to be successful, spend your time creating value. When you're valuable to the world around you, you will be successful.

8. Someone else will always have more than you - Whether it's money, friends or magic beans that your're collecting, there will always be someone who has more than you. But remember, it's not how many you have, it's how passionate you are about collecting them. It's all about the journey.

9. You can't change the past - As Maria Robinson once said "Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending." You can't change what happened, but you can change how you react to it.

10. The only person who can make you happy is you - The root of your happiness comes from your relationship with yourself. Sure external entities can have fleeting effects on your mood, but in the long run nothing matters more that how you feel about who you are on the inside.

11. There will always be people who don't like you - You can't be everything to everyone. No matter what you do, there will always be someone who thinks differently. So concentrate on doing what you know in your heart is right. What others think and say about you isn't all that important. What is important is who you feel about yourself.

12. You won't always get what you want - As Mick Jagger once said, "You can't always get what you want, but if you try sometimes you might find you get what you need." Look around. Appreciate the things you have right now. Many people aren't so lucky.

13. In life, you get what you put in - If you want love, give love. If you want friends, be friendly. If you want money, provide value. It really is this simple.

14. Good friends will come and go - Most of your high school friends won't be a part of your college life. Most of you college friends won't be a part of your 20-something professional life. Most of your 20-something friends won't be there when you and your spouse bring your second child into the world. But some friends will stick. And it's these friends - the ones who transcend time with you - who matter.

15. Doing the same exact thing every day hinders self growth - If you keep doing what you're doing, you'll likely keep getting what you're getting. Growth happens when you change things - when you try new things - when you stretch beyond your comfort zone.

16. You will never feel 100% ready for something new - Nobody ever feels 100% ready when an opportunity arises. Because most great opportunities in life force us to grow beyond our comfort zones, which means you won't feel totally comfortable or ready for it.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Power of a Kind Word

Yesterday was a bad day for me. Granted, I’m not the most patient person in the world, but the whole book/marketing thing really got to me. I was frustrated and seriously asking myself “Why bother?” I know many other authors struggle with this as well. It isn’t the writing part. It’s the marketing. It’s watching your sales come to a screeching halt with no clear way to make it better.

I came home late last night and I was so tired I considered skipping Facebook and Twitter. I had already RSVP’d to my own pity party. Not usually my style, but I felt like all the marketing stuff I have been doing recently has been a big fat waste of time, and I don’t have time to waste. I walked past my computer and went upstairs. My curiosity got the better of me, so I picked up my iPod. When I checked Facebook, one of my cousins had written on my wall that she had bought my book on Amazon and had just got it in the mail and couldn’t wait to read it. That made me smile.

Then there was a message for me on Facebook. When I opened it, I was surprised to find a message from someone I had not seen in years. In fact, she was a young girl the last time I saw her. She is all grown up now and wanted me to know that she was reading my book and loving it. She also said that she has written several vampire books herself. That made my day. (I warned her not to read the shower scene though *blush*).

No one had said anything about my book in days. A coincidence? I don’t think so. It’s more like God smacking me on the back of the head saying “This is why you bother.” It’s how doing something I love can reconnect me with a cousin and an old friend. It’s getting a chance to meet and encourage other authors. It isn’t about sales, it’s about people. This is absolutely why I should bother.

It’s crazy how a kind word of appreciation or encouragement has the power to completely change someone’s day. Keep loving and encouraging each other because you never know when you may be the one to make someone smile just when they may need it most.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

My Take on Twitter

First off, let me just say that I am not an expert on Twitter. If anything, I am hanging on by my fingernails. Honestly, I’m not very social, and I find Twitter overwhelming most of the time. Right now, I am following around 250 people and have about 170 followers. I can’t imagine what it will be like when I am in the thousands. Eeeek! I know people keep talking about the potential of Twitter, but you have to know how to use it. I am slowly learning with advice from others and by trying to keep in mind what I like and don’t like.

What I like: I love to see conversations between people. I love the personal stuff. I actually feel like those are the people making connections. It doesn’t even have to be a long conversation. I love to get surprise retweets especially from people I don’t follow. I love that people are polite as a rule, thanking others for follows and retweets. I enjoy the challenge of making marketing statements for my book worthy of notice and retweets. The good thing about Twitter is that you can get instant feedback on whether or not your hook worked.

What I don’t like: I really don’t like when people follow me and the first thing they do is send me a Buy My Book DM. I hate that. I want dinner and kiss first at least. Seems like the Twitter feed is sometimes a big long infomercial of books, blogs, websites, etc. I hate when there is no personal touch at all. I know people are trying to market their books like I am, but break it up a little. Also, I hate that I feel like I am talking to no one because the Twitter feed goes so fast that I am never sure people actually read what I write unless someone comments. I’m Facebook trained, so I think they need a “Like” button or something.

What I learned: So taking from what I like and dislike, I apply that to my own Twitter use. I try not to get overwhelmed and actually stop and look at some of the tweets that are pushing blogs, books, websites, etc. I try to see it as an adventure because I don’t know what I may find. I make little comments to people if they say something funny or they make me smile. Slowly building relationships by helping others first. I focus on a few people at a time because otherwise I just get lost in a sea of Twitter feed. I used to think that I shouldn’t retweet someone’s book blurb if I hadn’t read it. What if it isn’t a good book and I retweet it and people think I liked it and buy it based on my retweet and then they blame me. Ok, paranoia aside, it isn’t about the book, it’s about supporting other authors. It’s about the person. That is what I have to keep in mind.

Friday, September 16, 2011

No More Apologizing

So when I wrote to my fellow authors on Facebook and told them that I had finally conquered the blog, for some reason it never occurred to me that anyone would actually want to read it. When I received some gentle prompting from a fellow author to post it (thank you Sean!), I froze. I immediately started making apologies and feeling bad that people were going to have to read my writing. I posted it and curled up in the fetal position waiting for a beat down that never came.

Where did that reaction come from? That is so not me. I am a confident person. Apologizing and cowering are not my style. Why would I fear letting people who have been nothing but supportive to me read my work? Duh, maybe I should read my own previous post. That blog post was the first thing that I have written and shared with others since college except for my book. I had no idea the intense criticism from college still had such an effect on me. It wasn’t just me though. The professors took great delight in letting all of the students know that we would never be (insert famous author here). As a result, we became competitive, and began to criticize each other in peer reviews. It makes me wonder how many other potential authors they damaged with their pompous douche bag routine.

So I want to apologize to my BNFFs for my apologies, if that makes any sense. I am not used to the support and encouragement you have all shown me. I like it, but I’m not used to it. I promise from now on, I will write, and I will post, and I will not make apologies for it. Unless it really does suck. Just kidding ;) Love you guys!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Finding the Spark

After completing my book, I started thinking about who I should thank. My friends and family, of course, and those who helped me get the book published. Then I thought about my English teachers over the years since I had quite a few. Shouldn’t I thank them?

I have to say I got spoiled early on. I had an amazing creative writing teacher in high school who actually believed in creativity. In junior college, I had the privilege of taking several literature classes from a teacher who studied at Cambridge. He was a little old British man who wore tiny spectacles and his suits were always wrinkled, but he taught me a love for the English language and for literature that I will never forget. He did not try to overanalyze everything. He just loved the way the words were put together to weave a story or paint a picture. To him, every word was chosen for its specific meaning to convey something unique when blended with other words. He picked the most beautiful poems and short stories, and I grew to appreciate talented authors. He loved literature and it was contagious. I decided to teach high school English and share that love with others.

I transferred to a university as English major in the teaching credential program. The English professors there were completely different. They overanalyzed every word, certain they knew exactly what the author really meant. They wanted to cram their ideas into my head and had no interest in what I thought. They were especially brutal on students’ attempts at writing. They were so cruel and discouraging. We could never be Hemmingway, Chaucer, Fitzgerald, Melville, etc. so why bother? If they ever really loved literature, they lost it somewhere along the way and became more interested in hearing themselves talk. I actually changed my major to Psychology and never went back (they weren’t any better if you’re wondering, just more entertaining). After graduate school, I became so burnt out on reading and writing that I just quit. I played the game and fed them back their ideas in exchange for good grades and degrees. All that hard work and the professors forgotten, but somewhere along the way I lost my spark. That love affair I had with literature and writing.

My husband is an avid reader, and a few years ago we were in Barnes and Noble and he said to me, “Why don’t you get a book to read?” “NO! I have plenty of books.” He said “Why don’t you get something fun?” He went to the horror section and said “Here you like creepy stuff.” He handed me Kim Harrison’s Dead Witch Walking, and I was lost. I finally returned to my first love of literature. I started making time to read again, but I still wasn’t writing. Last summer my father said “Remind me again why you stopped writing?” I didn’t really have a good answer. I was sharing some of my ideas with my sister and BFF and they encouraged (threatened) me to put it on paper. So I started writing. I actually wrote an entire book. Something I had never before accomplished. What a rush! The spark is back.