It’s that time again, out with the old and in with the new. A good time to keep what worked from 2014 and dump what doesn’t work. Okay, enough with the philosophy. I don’t make New Year’s resolutions because change is an ongoing process and face it, most resolutions last a week or a month if lucky. Instead, I’ll give you a list of what worked in 2014 and what didn’t work, mostly related to my writing, but also personal growth.
1. Positive Thinking and Affirmation. My life is lived one moment at a time, and I can choose at each moment to make it positive or negative. I can also choose to make other people’s lives positive. Taking a page from Dylan Jewell, hero in Whole Latte Love, I decided that I would simply be happy and make others happy. From letting others cut the line at the grocery store, to liking my friends’ status updates, to praises and affirmation to those around me, it’s been a great choice.
2. Living in the Moment. The only moment you can influence in your life is right now–the present. While writing Roaring Hot, I learned how my hero, Teo Alexiou, can fearlessly ride a speeding motorcycle around dangerous and challenging tracks by being totally immersed in the present. It is the only point of control he has with his bike. He is infinitely aware of everything and lets it go as soon as it has passed.
3. Fill Your Journey with Friends and Traveling Companions. This year, 2014, I discovered group writing–sharing and having people comment on my first draft a chapter or scene at a time. In the past, writers were advised to write their first draft in isolation, not showing or sharing their ideas with anyone lest it dampen their spirit or dissuade them from pursuing their story further. This is probably true if the people they are showing or discussing it with are negative people who tell them all the reasons why such and such won’t work. However I’ve found that if I surround myself with positive people who are affirming and encouraging, then I am spurred to write faster and more imaginative work by sharing my ideas. The act of sharing for me creates new and better, or at least more outrageous ideas. It’s like having a audience prods me to excel. Join my writing group, Romance In A Month, or start your own! You’ll be glad you did.
The proof? In 2012, I published two novels and one nonfiction.
2013: Two novels and one multi-author boxed set
2014: Four novels, four novellas, two nonfiction books, started a writing class, Romance In A Month, and joined two multi-author boxed sets.
Not only did I write more, I also made more friends, visited more people, went more places, and had more experiences because of my three guiding principles.
What Didn’t Work or No Longer Worked:
1. Hanging out in Online Forums where Writers Congregate. This year has been full of negative news as far as writing and publishing are concerned. There are complaints about algorithms, the Amazon-Hachette debate, authors taking sides, the moaning about Kindle Unlimited, Scribd, and Oyster. None of these debates are particularly helpful, especially to a little author like me who is not well known, and only serves as procrastination in the guise of “learning the market.”
2. Detailed Critiques by a group of strangers. I learned a lot from critiques and spent most of 2011-2013 as a top contributor at CritiqueCircle.com. It’s where I honed my craft, made friends, and learned how to write and revise. It worked for me at the beginning and I recommend it as a great way to get detailed feedback from a varied group of writers and aspiring writers. You quickly learn that everyone thinks differently, and that what works for one person does not work for another. But after putting Whole Latte Love through Critique Circle, and subjecting myself to over seven, or is it eight revisions with plot changes and whiplash, I realized, that I had to be strong and convicted about my vision, that I knew how to tell my own story.
3. Marketing and Promoting Excessively. This site [see the top bar] has a giant list of marketing and promotion sites. I have used almost all of them, more than 90%. I spent most of 2012 and 2013 promoting, doing giveaways, short-term price drops, blogging, blog touring, and tweeting. All of this time could have been spent writing and meeting readers who remember me. I realized that the techniques of mass media, i.e. of the late twentieth century, of getting your name out there (by repeated exposure), does not work when there are millions of names shouting just as loudly. This year, I went back to basics. I started a fan club, worked on my mailing list, and personally engaged readers who write to me. I’ve gotten to know readers from India to Portugal to Australia, and even though the numbers are small, the interaction is richer and more satisfying. Not to mention, I have people willing to beta read for me and give me early feedback. When Romancing Christmas released, I offered everyone in my mailing list a free copy. The ones who took the gift got an early Christmas gift and I got to “spread happiness.” It worked great.
My 2014 Crop:
Wishing everyone a Happy and Prosperous New Year!
So… your turn. What worked for you and what will you drop? As the critiquers on Critique Circle are fond of saying, “Keep what works, drop what doesn’t.”