Just do it.

ImageIt feels good to dive back into writing full time, and I recently completed the first book of my new series.

As I quickly moved on toward completion of the next Susan Hunter book, I was reminded of a blog post I wrote a few months ago but never published. It is the advice I give to myself all the time when I think I can’t do it, when I have a hard time keeping at it, or even when I feel like quitting. It’s good for me to read this again today as I forge ahead with the hopes of writing two books in two months. I’ll share it with you, too.

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Just do it.

Everyone is familiar with the famous Nike slogan. It has seeped into many aspects of our lives. I think of the saying when I have chores to do, when I don’t want to exercise or eat healthy, and most definitely with writing.

I wasn’t a writer. I was a wife, a mother, a seller of used children’s books. I love books, but other than a couple of ideas for children’s picture books, the thought never entered my mind to write a fiction novel.

Until it did.

Just do it.

Late in the day, on a cold evening in February of 2012, it popped into my mind that I should write a story. It popped into my mind because I was surfing the Smashwords site, and I was amazed that people were writing stories and books and publishing them on their own. That’s when I thought I would try, too.

I didn’t do any preliminary outlining or give any serious thought to who the characters would be or where they would go. I simply started typing and kept at it for a couple of hours. It was fun, and the story made me smile. I went to bed laughing at myself that I might actually be writing a book.

I added to the story the next day, but I was already waning. I am sometimes my own worst enemy. I can be flighty. I talk myself out of things. Writing a book would be a lot of work, and I was already busy enough. I set the writing aside and went about my normal business for a few days.

But now that the story was started, it kept calling to me. I didn’t really want to, but I found myself adding to the story late at night after everyone was in bed. My book was finished within the month.
I wrote a second book. I wrote a third. I was too afraid to publish them.

Until I wasn’t.

Just do it.

In May of 2012, I published all three books at Smashwords and Amazon. I freaked out shortly after over the fact that I had put my work up at Amazon, but it was done, and I let it be.

Now I couldn’t stop writing. I started a fourth book, and then a blog. I didn’t want to start a blog, but the thought wouldn’t leave me alone Imageuntil I did. It seemed a good idea to keep a chronicle of my writing and self-publishing journey. I had no idea what I was doing. I didn’t know any of the finer points of writing or marketing. I was doing everything wrong, but I was oblivious, and there was no one to tell me otherwise, so I simply kept going forward.

Just do it.

I’ve made wonderful friends through blogging, and I’ve learned a lot about writing, self-publishing, and marketing from other bloggers. If I would have had all of this “new” information before I started writing, I probably would have never written my first book. It would have been too daunting.

I didn’t have money for professional editing or expensive marketing, but that didn’t stop me. I’ve kept my sense of humor throughout most of my trials and tribulations. There have been times when I’ve wanted to throw in the towel and quit, but those feelings passed fairly quickly, and, for the most part, I continue to have fun writing and self-publishing. I’ve made corrections, republished a couple of my titles (numerous times), and I believe my writing has become stronger. There is still a lot to learn.

Will I ever write the great American novel? No. I enjoy my silly fare too much. But I’m happy I followed my instincts and the little voice inside my head that continually says …

Just do it.

Today, I want to encourage you, too – especially new writers. Whether you are toying with the idea of writing a book, or finally on your way and writing, don’t listen to the naysayers, not even the ones in your own mind. Learn what you can when you can, but don’t be afraid to go forward with what you know now and the tools you have on hand. I was as green as they come when I first started.

Just do it.

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Write. Write for fun. Write to entertain yourself. Write because you can. Then publish. It’s a wonderful world that has opened up to us because we can publish our own works.

What about you? What do you tell yourself to keep going forward?

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Back at the keyboard when the rain passes.

 

Reclaiming My Life

ImageMy mother has been under the weather quite a bit lately, and I spent a chunk of the day on Saturday helping/visiting with her. When I came home, I was simply too tired to read blogs.

On Sunday, I spent most of the day in the den with Rich. I ignored him for the most part as I finished reading Gordon Kessler’s Knight’s Big Easy. I’m liking my new Kindle Paperwhite quite a bit and appreciate that it is four ounces lighter than my Nook Tablet. That lousy quarter of a pound on the Nook definitely starts to feel heavy after a few hours.

Monday morning, I slipped out to grab a new notebook. Blogs were calling to me, but I refused to allow myself to be sucked into the blogosphere. I started filling my new notebook with ideas and Imageinformation for Maple Leaf Hunter. This book will take place three years after Windy City Hunter, so there are some big changes. I had to double check the ages and hair color of everyone in the book, and when I wasn’t looking, some of the characters changed their residence. Mick’s son, Alex, will, for the first time, play a prominent role, and Nate will be back. There are no ghosts to torment Nate in this book, but I think the Sasquatch could have a bit of fun with him.

It truly is enjoyable to write lighthearted fare, and I found myself smiling quite a bit as I worked on my notes.

The next thing I want to do is set a loose schedule for my day. There have been days when I started my day by reading blogs, and I kept reading all day long! It’s hard to tear yourself away when everyone you enjoy has a new post up on the same day. And just when you think you’re caught up, your WP Reader informs you there are nineteen new posts. Crikey! The entire Imageblogging experience – reading, writing, commenting – was nearing full-time job status for me.

I’m going to work with blocks of time. I know I would never adhere to a strict schedule, but I can work with blocks of time. Two hours at a time to mess with blogs. Three to four hours to write. An hour at a time to do whatever needs done around the house. I want to take the time to start cooking again. We are not doing the Chinese/fast food thing this year just because I want to write and blog. Instead of reading blogs late into the night, I want to read books.

Finally, I think Rich would appreciate it if I would start carrying my weight around here and get back to my work-from-home business.

So, I’m reclaiming my life and am going to attempt to find a balance.Image I still intend to read all the blogs I am currently following, but I may not see or be able to read every post. I’ll probably leave more likes than I used to – as opposed to like then comment on every blog, but if I leave a like somewhere, I will have definitely read the post.

I intend to do a some catching up with blogs today, but I’m going to start writing tomorrow. I am really, really tempted to start my new book with dialogue. I have my own drum, you know.

Blogging, Blah Blah Blah, NaNoWriMo

ImageWell, obviously, I can’t do two things at once. My brain can either produce the writing for my book, or it can produce something for my blog, but not both.

It took me over four hours last night to go back and read blogs from the week, drop likes, and leave embarrassing comments. Even though I was late to everything, I did find that being the last one to leave a comment can be a good thing. Fewer people are likely to read the crazy things that come out of your brain at 2:00 in the morning.

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My cousin sent a link to me this week. It was for some old pictures of our grandmother, grandfather, and aunts and uncles. I have to show you one photo that I just love. My aunt and uncle (brother and sister) look like they came right out of a Mad Men episode. They both have drinks and cigarettes in hand, and the furniture was fab.

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Of course, I saw my mother this week. She doesn’t have a computer, but she does have a Presto machine. It’s a printer for receiving emails. Before I went up to see her, I sent the first chapter of my book to her. We were waiting in line at the drive-thru at the bank, and she said, “I don’t like your book.” My heart sank. If my mother didn’t like the first chapter, I was in trouble. There was no way I was starting over, and I didn’t have another idea. I said, “Aww, really? What didn’t you like?”  She tried, but she couldn’t hold back a smile, and she said, “Oh, I’m just teasing you. I loved it. I can picture everything, and it’s really good. I didn’t like that you left me hanging.” Grr! Mothers! She took a week off the life of my heart.

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NaNo is a bit of a pain. When I wrote my other books, I just wrote when I felt like it. Some days produced a lot of words, other days a few or none. This is Day 10, and I’m supposed to be at 16,667 words by the end of the day. That’s not going to happen. The story went completely cattywompus in the condo, and I have no idea how it got out of control. But it’s making me laugh, and I’m going to go with it and see what happens. It’s as though all of those ideas and notes I made before November have Imageflown out the window. The detective in the Santa suit – out. The major mystery at the cooking competition – out. A man wearing a gorilla head – in. Susan and zombies – in. It’s as though I’m possessed. Oh, and we’re only at 11,627 words.

Hubby is on vacation next week. I’m sure I’ll get a lot of writing done then. /sarcasm

So, what’s shakin’ in your neck of the woods?

Step Away From the Blog

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Do people from the blogosphere infiltrate your day? Not while you’re online and actually reading blogs, but as you go about your daily routine?

I’m on the interstate quite a bit. It’s easy access to the few towns near us as well as to civilization north of us. Today, instead of taking the back roads, I hopped onto the interstate to run to the bank one town over.

As I neared the end of the on ramp, I checked my mirrors once more before merging into traffic, and someone popped into my head – John the Aussie.

A man in Australia is suddenly with me on my little stretch of road in Ohio, and it’s not the first time. I see his smiling face in my mind, and I quickly check to be sure I’ve flipped my turn signal off. Crikey and blimey, is this a forever thing? Is this one of those things that you never shake – like the time a truck full of guys from school drove by and threw tomatoes at you when you were mowing the grass? I haven’t mowed grass since then, and I still see those guys standing in the bed of the truck whipping their tomatoes at me when I see someone else mowing grass. For crying out loud, I have three brothers, why was I mowing the grass in the first place? I blame my dad for that, but maybe he was the one laughing the hardest. Focus, Maddie. Get back on topic.

Yesterday, I ran through a Steak ‘N Shake to grab a quick sandwich while I was out. Of course, I saw Imagethe milkshakes on the menu, and I thought, “Kate would have a caramel one.” A fabulously funny girl in New Zealand is causing me to think about milkshakes!  For the record, I didn’t get one.

I turned my television on two nights ago, and it came on to the World Series. The announcer said, “Detroit,” and my mind instantly thought, “I bet Tim is all hunkered down to watch this.”

Plus, there are the blog things I have to share with my husband. Because I go to bed so late, I usually wake him on the sofa, and by the time we get settled into bed, we’re usually awake, talking, and laughing about something. At 2:00 a.m. one night, we were giggling like little school girls when I told him something Ruth said about her husband that was so sweet, and we could relate, but it struck our funny bones.

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Embellishment includes lighted appendage. Cartoon: http://holleygerth.com

Christopher is known to my mother, our friends, and my sister because of his fireflies story, and the embellishments my husband has added after we tell the original version. We should probably pay Christopher some royalties.

So, when I walk into the bathroom the other day, and I see an empty roll of toilet paper sitting on the counter, and I remember a blog post about empty rolls of toilet paper, I think I might need to step away for a bit and give my mind a breather.

The Weekly Photo Challenge this week is: Foreign. The very first thing that popped into my head was CLEANING SUPPLIES (see photo submission above). No kidding! These objects are completely foreign to me these days. This blogging gig has left our home woefully unkempt. To clear my mind from the blogs and bloggers who are continually running around in it, flicking at my synapses, I’m going to take the weekend off and step away from the blog.

NaNoWriMo starts next Thursday, and I’m going to take some time this weekend to put some thought into how I want to approach my writing. Hubby and I still have to clean up the tree mess from the storm, and someone really needs to buy some proper groceries. But mostly, I want to use some of those foreign products and do some cleaning. I don’t even know where the vacuum cleaner is.

Now, don’t leave me hanging out here like a freak. Bloggers get into your brain, too, don’t they?

Blogging Freaks Me Out (Part Three)

ImageBlogging etiquette was the intended topic for today.

I’ve been blogging for three months now, and some things still confuse me. After scanning 40+ articles about blogging etiquette, I had a considerable amount of information to share, but, truthfully, it was kind of boring, and I found myself disagreeing with some points … and … I realized that blogging still freaks me out at times.

What should you do when you leave a comment and realize you’ve stuck your foot in your mouth? Please give me a delete button for my own comments! Commenter’s remorse is a real thing and will cause you to break out in a cold sweat.

As I compiled blogging etiquette information, I went back to some of my older posts and made some minor changes. When I checked my email later, there were notifications of new comments to those posts. OH MY GOSH! It never dawned on me that some people get alerts whenever I send up a post, and updating these older posts spammed the people who get the alerts. I’M SO SORRY! I spent 20 minutes under my desk until the red drained from face.

An unfamiliar author with an unfamiliar book left a comment and asked me to interview her on my blog. She wanted to connect with my followers. I was kind of freaked at her cheekiness and deleted. Should I have done that? Maybe her etiquette was good and mine was bad?

The fishermen bloggers confuse me. They will hit my like button daily for many days, so I finally go to their blogs, and if I like what I see, I follow. They hooked me, and I never see them at my blog again. Not that they need to come back, and it’s not really a thing to freak out about, but it adds to the confusion of blogging etiquette.

So that all of my research doesn’t go to waste, let me share some of the blogging etiquette items that I couldn’t wholly agree with:

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Blogging Etiquette Expert “You must credit everyone.”

 

– Give Credit.  I have a wee problem with the credit thing. You are asked to credit everyone about EVERYTHING. I counted as many as 30 links peppered throughout one article, with very few of them being relevant. These people would want me to link/credit all 40+ articles I encountered to cobble an etiquette post together.

When Morgan Le Fables posted the link to Anne Rice’s video talk to aspiring writers, and he gave his opinion about the video, you bet I credited him when I used his blog post as a stepping stone to make my own post about the video.

But according to the experts, that’s a no-no. You should come up with your own original ideas and not use the ideas of others. If you can’t do that, you shouldn’t be posting.

I don’t agree. Plagiarism is one thing, but reading a post about keeping track of the little things in your writing gave me an idea to show how I’ve done this in my own writing. If I publish, I’ll credit the author’s blog for the idea. I get a lot of inspiration from reading other blogs.

Image– Use correct grammar, punctuation, capitalization when commenting. I can see trying to have your actual blog post cleaned up as much as possible, but I’m not one to do a lot of proofreading and editing for a comment. Plus, I spilled a Starbucks Frappuccino on my keyboard, and some of my keys still stick. You won’t always get a capital *i* from me. I think we should be a little more forgiving in the comments section.

This is when I gave up working so hard on the etiquette post:
– Respond to all comments.
– Don’t respond to all comments.
– Leave a comment if only to say you liked the post.
– Don’t leave a comment if you aren’t contributing to the conversation.

Oh my gosh! Who doesn’t want a comment? I would assume if someone didn’t want comments, they would turn them off – or at least say, “serious comments only.” If someone simply slapped a smiley face in my comments section, I would be happy they took an extra moment of their time to let me know they read my post and found it enjoyable.

For me, everyday good manners and common sense go a long way in blogging. Be nice, have fun, be Imageyourself. Hide under your desk for twenty minutes if you commit a faux pas.

By the way, Part One is kind of funny, because I was still pretty shy and really freaked out when more than 20 people showed up to my blog one day. Part Two was when I unfollowed blogs because I was afraid they would think I was trolling for Likes/Follows.

What are your thoughts on blogging etiquette? Does blogging ever freak you out?

Blogging Freaks Me Out (Part Two)

I used to attend book sales at public libraries. It was my main inventory source for selling used children’s books. When I first started going, even though I was friendly and outgoing, the other book dealers wouldn’t talk to me and only tolerated my existence. I was a mom with a child in tow, and I didn’t fit in with their highbrow, snotty circle of knowledge of expensive books and ephemera. It took almost TWO YEARS of being at the same sales with all of them before a bookseller finally asked what I was doing. He was surprised at the success I was enjoying.

To make a long story short, most of the other dealers did eventually become friendly, and over the course of ten years, we had some good times waiting in line and chatting. I never forgot how the snubbing felt though, and I always made sure I talked with anyone who was near me in the book line – no matter why they were there. I met a lot of interesting people by not discriminating.

At first, I was wary here at WordPress. My feelings of the book snubbing surfaced again – especially since I had just written three books in three months and published them myself. I hadn’t paid my dues in the writer’s world.

I was afraid to comment on anyone’s blog for fear they wouldn’t answer because I didn’t fit in with their circle of friends. I was afraid to follow – especially another author – for fear they would chastise me for what I had done.

None of that has happened. I’ve met some wonderful people, I’m learning a lot, and most of the time, blogging is fun.

But I was freaked out again a couple of days ago. I was looking around Freshly Pressed and read the blog post about making your likes mean something. Yikes! What if other bloggers think my likes aren’t heartfelt? What if other bloggers think I’m only liking their posts to induce them to come to my blog? What if I’m intruding on someone’s blog who intended it for a select circle of family and friends?

I’ve had fun rolling around WordPress and finding blogs to read, follow, and like. I thought that’s what I was supposed to do. I always read a post before I push like. Why wouldn’t you?

I was following a lot of blogs and dropping a lot of likes out there, but I wasn’t trolling for likes or followers in return. I don’t have enough to say to bring people here. In my panic of feeling I wasn’t blogging correctly, I unfollowed a load of people, and hoped I would no longer be intruding.

The fact that other bloggers show up to read my blog still kind of freaks me out. Now I’m paranoid, too.

Blogging Freaks Me Out

In a few days, I’ll have been blogging for a month. I think I like it. There are some things that freak me out though.

I liked it when there were less than twenty visitors to my blog each day. Just a few people peeking in to see what I was doing while I try to write and publish a few books. I sort of panicked when 52 people showed up one day this week. Yikes! Where did they come from? And why?

My mind went on a freak out thinking that the new visitors were other authors shaking their heads. Who in their right mind would write three books in two months and then think they were good enough to publish? … Well, I guess I did.

People spend years honing their craft and agonizing over their words wanting to put out the very best work possible. I understand that, but when I found the Smashwords site, something went off inside me, and it just came out – three books in two months. I had to do it, and I had to publish them. When I look at my books on my Nook, it delights me to no end. And the fact that the few people I know who have read the books liked them; well, it’s just that much nicer.

I’ve been visiting other blogs and enjoying the time spent blog-hopping. I love fashion, photography, music, books, poetry, and so much other stuff. I find myself following people as they lose weight. I’m sad for people who share their struggles and wish I could hug them. I love the humorous blogs. This is a wonderful new world. I’ve purchased two books from indie writers. I want to put my money where my mouth is and help others who are finding their way as well. I won’t really stop following authors; there’s a lot to learn from them.

I was nominated for an award by lightningpen. I was kind of embarrassed, and didn’t really know what to think about it. I didn’t mean to ignore you, kind blogger, but I was so new to blogging and didn’t have a clue who else to nominate. I don’t understand everything about the blogging community yet, and I may revisit that nomination one day (unless it has an expiration date).

So, even though I’m not really comfortable yet with blogging, and there are days when it freaks me out, I’m pretty sure I like it and will keep plodding on for a while.