Posts Tagged: author

Productivity…why have you abandoned me?

Ever have small stuff interfere with getting things done? It seems every time I boot up my computer I have seventeen different updates that need to be done. In the past month, I’ve also had a few electronic malfunctions. First, the batteries in my mouse exploded, leaking battery acid everywhere. You’d think that would have been an indication that I should check all the batteries – especially given that I purchased the computer with the mouse and keyboard at the same time. But, alas, I did not. I sat down a few weeks ago to finally get Katie Freeman wrapped up only to find that the batteries in the keyboard had also exploded… I had battery acid slowly expanding out of the battery cover and power button slots. Definitely not a good sign.

It’s funny, really. Neither the mouse nor the keyboard were even slowing down. They worked one day and the next day…nothing. Just acid, slowly eating away at my productivity…

Today, I finally replaced the keyboard (the mouse was replaced instantly) with a brand new Mac Magic Keyboard. And to my utter delight, the new keyboard is even better than the last. My first keyboard was just a simple, small Mac keyboard. Now, at my “pay-the-bills” job, I am forced to use a PC. But what I love about it is that there are “Delete” and “End” keys on the keyboard – one of very few advantages the PC had over my Mac.

I never really noticed how much I used them until they weren’t there. It was the biggest downside to using a Mac…those two simple buttons. I know there are keyboard short cuts for those two functions. And I am a HUGE keyboard shortcut person. But for some reason those shortcuts just wouldn’t stick in my brain and I found myself reaching for the mouse.

But now…I have my keys back. And productivity is back underway! Let’s work some Magic!

Argh! Pirates!

pirate-47705_640Ahoy, Mateys! I am using humor right now because I am so angry! Warning: this post will be full of exclamation points!!!! I just found out that a few of my books have appeared on illegal sites – they’ve been hijacked! Wow, do I feel violated!

I’ve been reading about this happening to authors ever since I decided to self-publish and joined a few author groups. But I didn’t think I had to worry about it yet. I mean, I’m just little old me…a newbie, an unknown. Why would someone target me? I have now learned a hard lesson – you’re never too lowly to be ripped off…

The music industry has been fighting this for years. I remember thinking “they’re just $0.99 songs, what’s the harm?” Now I know the harm first hand! I’m still trying to build a fan base and attract new reader. But that doesn’t mean I should be turning a blind eye to this. My books are not my primary source of income (thank goodness, or I’d be homeless…), but they are still valuable to me. Every penny I earn on these books ensures that the next one can be published. I literally live book-to-book in the publishing world!

So I ask you – PLEASE, PLEASE do not give these sites your business. If you run across pirated work, don’t download it. Email the author the link you’ve found. Most of us self-published authors would be so grateful to know we are being ripped off! This is uncalled for, illegal, immoral, and just down right dirty.

Artistic Advice, Toxic Advice

I ran across this article the other day:

21 Harsh But Eye-Opening Writing Tips From Great Authors

My first thought was, “Great! Advice from ‘real’ authors.” Then I showed it to my friend and social media queen Michelle. Her first reaction to the opening paragraph derailed my train of thought and knocked some sense into me. After a bit of reflection, I can really see her point.

…having an artistic temperament doth not make one an artist.

What is an artist? It’s someone who writes, paints, draws, sings, or any other form of self-expression. True, not everyone can/will make a living with their art, but does that make them less worthy of the title of Artist? No. However, society has instilled in us an idea that in order to be successful, we must achieve a certain status, usually financially defined.

Well, I am here to say I AM AN ARTIST. I AM AN AUTHOR. I write because I love to do it. I love the entire process. Stressing over plot points. Arguing with characters when they don’t want to behave. Deadlines sneaking up on you. Formatting. Editing. Cover design. And the list goes on… I AM a REAL author.

So much of the various art forms are subjective. When you look at paintings, do you prefer realism, cubism, or abstract? I am sure several of you answered that differently than I did. There are a ton of famous artists whose work I wouldn’t want hanging in my house. I can appreciate them for their appeal – to someone else. The same can be said for different forms of writing. I detest horror and gore, but I love mysteries. I don’t enjoy historical romance, but love paranormal romance. And just as before, I am sure some of you disagree.

All of that being said, the advice in the post does give me food for thought. Here is my favorite of the list:

  1. If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time — or the tools — to write. Simple as that. – Stephen King

When I finished reading this, I reflected back on my post from a few weeks ago: Passion…or Happiness? Since I wrote that, I have been following Mark Manson’s blog and ran across a few more that have inspired me or made me think. The first was on life purpose (http://markmanson.net/life-purpose) and the second was on dreams (http://markmanson.net/dreams).

What is life purpose? That is an interesting question and one I think has a different meaning to different generations. One of the things that I have noticed over the past few years while working in higher education is that the newer generation doesn’t go into a career thinking in terms of forever. Stop and think about that for a second. Your grandparents and parents went to college or trained for a specific job with the full expectation that they would be doing that until they retired. Plumber, electrician, attorney, teacher, on and on and on. They wanted the security that came along with longevity. College students today have multiple ideas of what they want to do. And they aren’t afraid of thinking that ten years down the road they will be changing professions.

Our parents and the generations before had mid-life crises when they reached the point of burnout. But even then it wasn’t their job that they considered changing. Think about all the clichés you hear: affairs, divorce, sports cars, etc. The newer generations don’t put pressure on themselves to make life-long decisions at the age of 18. That can be scary, or it can be incredibly freeing.

I have seen a larger number of non-traditional students coming back for different degrees. These people are of my generation. Those of us that were raised with the idea that we needed to find a career and stick to it. But we have also grown up with technology and a world that has, and is, changing more than it ever has before. We are now reaching our mid-30s and 40s and realizing we are no longer happy doing what we chose to do at 18. But unlike our parents, we take inspiration from our children. We fall back on the idea that education can take you far and we use that to move forward. We take action to change what no longer makes us happy.

What most people don’t understand is that passion is
the result of action, not the cause of it. 

Discovering what you’re passionate about in life
and what matters to you is a full-contact sport,
a trial-and-error process.
None of us know exactly how we feel about an activity
until we actually do the activity.

Do you see how passion and life-purpose go hand-in-hand? It’s impossible to reconceptualize (yes, David Ogilvy, I used the word you said not to use…) your purpose in life without knowing what you are passionate about.

When people feel like they have no sense of direction, no purpose in their life, it’s because they don’t know what’s important to them, they don’t know what their values are. And when you don’t know what your values are, then you’re essentially taking on other people’s values and living other people’s priorities instead of your own. This is a one-way ticket to unhealthy relationships and eventual misery.

I have been dealing with this over the past several months as I reevaluate my career. I took a huge leap back in June and completely changed career paths. Last year, I also started publishing what I write. Whew! Do you know how nerve wracking that was? When I first started thinking of publishing, I thought I would use a pseudonym – something so no one would know I was the author. I don’t write erotica. I write mysteries and romantic suspense (and surprisingly paranormal romance). I don’t write anything that I would be embarrassed for my mother to read…though the first Tip of the Spear book did make me blush when she read it.

What I discovered was that I was embarrassed about what people would think – of me, of my books, of my beliefs and values, of everything. How would people I have known for years react to my books? Ultimately, having a built in network to start promoting my books is what swayed me to use my own name. Imagine what I felt when I read this:

But if your reasons are, “My parents would hate it,” or “My friends would make fun of me,” or “If I failed, I’d look like an idiot,” then chances are, you’re actually avoiding something you truly care about because caring about that thing is what scares the shit out of you, not what mom thinks or what Timmy next door says.

Embrace embarrassment. Feeling foolish is part of the path to achieving something important, something meaningful. The more a major life decision scares you, chances are the more you need to be doing it.

And every word of that is true. I am passionate about what I write. I still care what others think, but not enough to stop me from pursuing what I enjoy. I am doing what I love. This is my passion. This is my dream.

So when should you pursue your dreams? Again, I refer to Mark Manson:

  • Fall in love with the process, not the result – If your job is drudgery now, then there’s no reason to suspect it won’t still be drudgery when you make partner or when you’re managing your own division. We live in a results-based society, and unfortunately this gets most of us (70% by some surveys) into the wrong pursuits and career paths.
  • What’s motivating you? – Take a long, hard look at what’s really driving you. Is it some compensation for an unmet need? Or is it a genuine expression of enthusiasm and joy? The fact that I fantasized about being on stage in front of thousands of screaming fans and didn’t fantasize about writing or playing new songs is telling.

Working in finance, I always jokingly tell people, “If your idea of saving for retirement is secretly hoping to win the lottery before you hit 65, there is a problem.” The same can be said for whatever dream you want to pursue. Writers always talk about the massive pile of rejection letters they received before ‘hitting it big’. And all of them will follow that by saying how it inspired them to push even harder. When you face obstacles, it is human nature to try harder – if you are truly passionate about what you are doing. It makes us appreciate what we have more than if it was just handed to us.

“When all of your wishes are granted,
many of your dreams will be destroyed.”

–Marilyn Manson

What does all of this mean to me? I love writing. I love being an author. Is it difficult? Yes. Is it draining? Yes. Is it rewarding? Yes. Is it worth it? Yes. I’m proud of what I have accomplished so far and I plan to continue to do it as long as I’m able. I am not defining my success by how much money I am making. My success depends on how I feel about the finished product, the reaction of my readers, and the satisfaction I feel if even one person says they loved what I wrote. That makes me happy. That drives me to continue.

So here is my advice to you: If you want to be a writer, write – even if it’s just in your journal. If you want to be a painter, paint – even if it’s just a piece you hang on your wall. If you want to be a singer, sing – even if it’s just in the shower. And, if you are willing to put in the hard work and follow the process, give it a shot.

Welcome to my blog!

JLMwelcomeblogpageHi, everyone, and welcome to my page.  I am so excited that you have chosen to look me up, and hopefully to read my book!  I have procrastinated for many years on getting started with writing.  Ideas and characters have been running around in my head for decades, but I always let them stay there, thinking I would get to the writing part later.  Well, later is now!  The past few years have been challenging for me, changing jobs, moving to a new state, making new friends, etc.  What I have learned is that there is no time like the present to make your dreams happen.  Oh, and that they won’t just happen on their own.  So, I hope you enjoy reading my first book, Free to Kill, coming in December 2014. Welcome aboard, hang on and thanks for joining me on my journey!
~Julie