Wednesday, December 31, 2014

I Resolve to Blah Blah Blah

Why is it that we look to the first day of a new calendar year to kick-start actually living our lives? But instead of looking forward to the promise of that new year, why do we spend hours looking back over the year we’re still living in to qualify the things we plan to do in the new year?

Resolutions are supposed to be about making changes while moving forward. Seems pretty impossible to do while facing the other way right?

It’s like we need to see what great times we had, or mistakes we made, and then we resolve to either fix or do more of that shit starting on January 1. But what’s the point right? I mean all we’re doing is looking at what we used to do; thinking about what could have been.

Not what is.

I’m guilty of doing it too. Especially this year.

But I truly think the people who “fail at resolutions” don’t really fail. They just weren’t facing the right direction.

So this upcoming year I’m facing the future, not the past.

I fully intend to take this year by the balls and make it my bitch.

Or something like that.

The definition of resolution in the case of New Year’s is “firmness of purpose or intent.”

But I’m not getting hung up in the meaning of the word, the definition as purported by millions, if not billions, of people worldwide.

Because as far as I’m concerned the calendar year isn’t really a crucial part of the plans I have, other than it being a gentle guide for the things I plan to do.

See, for me this upcoming year isn’t about resolving to do anything.

I will set goals.

Because goals challenge me. They make me try harder. They make me focus, get down to work, and then get down to celebrating when I achieve them.

And I don’t care if I achieve all of them within the tight restrictions of January 1 – December 31. I’m setting my goals and working to achieve them, so if they come to fruition this year then great! If not, that doesn’t mean I give up. It means I keep trying no matter what the date says.

As we all know goals can change mid-stream. They’re fluid, flexible and always evolving in order to get you to the best version of yourself you can dream up and go after.

New Year’s resolutions come with a built in pass/fail mechanism. You either do the thing or you don’t.

Bleh. How limiting is that?

I have four goals I want to tackle this year:

Release new books (yes, multiple).
Learn to cook (meals that aren’t boring).
Read more (books specifically).
Be more active (watching less and doing more).

Yup. That’s it.

Because if I can set out on a course to do all of those things then all the other stuff I might think about in terms of resolutions will just fall into place.

Eating healthy, exercising, getting my career on track, traveling, saving money, or anything else I could dream up that I’d love to change about myself, I’m simply striving to be a better version of me in 2015.

But I’m not going to consider the whole year a failure if I take 3 days off from writing or veg out in front of the television occasionally either.

I’ve always got the next day to get back on track. There’s no point in looking at a little misguided step as a fail. Like I said, facing backwards doesn’t help me achieve my goals.

So as my vacation comes to an end, and a brand new calendar year gets started, I’m looking forward to doing my best to achieve all the goals I’ve got laid out in front of me.

Have a safe and festive New Year everyone!

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Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Off the Deep End

So here we are again. And by “we” I mean me and all the characters that live in my head. It’s November and for the first time in four years I’m back doing NaNo.

Yup, that’s right kids. The time for fiction has returned!

What’s that you ask? Have I gone off the deep end? Let’s just get all the questions out of the way now so we can push on unfettered:

“Um, are you crazy?”
“Didn’t you just start a business with a partner?”
“Aren’t you already working as a writer?”
“How do you plan to find the time?”
“Won’t you miss showering?”
“Won’t you miss your friends?”
“You won’t try to sell this thing you think will be a manuscript, will you?”
“Um, are you crazy?”

For those not in the know on the NaNo skinny (and why any and all of those questions up there are totally valid points)…

The challenge is to write a 50,000 word novel during just the month of November.

Sounds scary right? Well trust me, it is every bit as scary as it sounds. But I’m doing it anyway because fuck it. If I’m going to be a writer then I’m going to be the type of writer I want to be.

That I’ve always wanted to be.

But, there are so many reasons I gave up on the whole idea of being a freelance writer after 3 years. I had to have a long sit-down with myself to figure it all out. Which wasn’t too challenging considering I broke my wrist at the beginning of October. I had more than enough time to ruminate on life and career while I sat around doing nothing.

And, boy, do I ever mean nothing.

I was in a ton of pain, could not type, and I could barely move my left arm at all. Hell, I’m still in a temporary cast right now!

Last month was really a wakeup call in so many ways – personal and professional. I discovered many things that I never would have thought about before the moment when I incapacitated myself.

The biggies:

- Freelancing is not for me after all. Hey, I tried. Honestly I threw everything at the wall on that one and really wanted it to work out because it would’ve been nice to make a steady paycheck as a “real” writer. Alas, no matter what I did or what wall I tossed it at so little stuck that I just couldn’t justify wasting perfectly good shit like that anymore.

- I’m way to narcissistic to be a ghostwriter. Yeah, I really do need to see my own name, in print, on the cover of some amazing book that I wrote. I was good at ghostwriting but part of what I discovered is that my ego needs to release work into the world and, when people read it, they’ll know I wrote it.

- My words are worth more to me than the frustration of working like a dog for peanuts. I can make that writing fiction and have more fun in the craft again. I did make some money as a freelancer, that’s true, which of course was nice because I worked my ass off for it. I just couldn’t ever feel what I was writing.

- Freelance ghostwriting is essentially all marketing all the time. Sure, marketing is super important no matter what field you’re in, but I was always writing with a spin in mind – be it for a product or service – everything I wrote as a freelancer had the end goal of bringing in a sale. Hey, I’m all for that because I have shit to sell too. Which is why I’m glad I took a few years to really learn the concepts so I can now market my books instead of someone else’s product or service I have no vested interest in.

- I was reminded of something I’ve been saying since I worked in retail (circa 1996-ish.) I hate people. Most people are crazy, only out for themselves and pay no mind to your schedule, your business needs or anything else that matters in your life because they’re too busy worrying about all that same stuff for themselves. Just like me. It was time to get out.

Bottom line was that I missed writing from the imagination and not the wallet, I’m glad I learned better ways to sell my books though, and I’m using NaNo as the catalyst toward getting at least four out next year.

Yup. Four.

My goal is to get the heroine from my second book into a series and have her solving crimes all over this great nation for the next year.

Which reminds me…

Side perk of fiction I don’t get as a freelancer? A trip to Colorado can be a write off. Or a trip anywhere for that matter. Score.

By the way, I’m totally using this as word count today.

Just kidding.

No I’m not.

Or am I?

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Friday, September 26, 2014

So Many Updates, So Little Time

Other than my last rant post about my inner turmoil, I realized today that I haven’t shared anything since June. That’s just nuts!

So in what will probably be far too wordy a post for most people to deal with (unless you’re awesome of course) I’ll update you on the happenings of my entire summer in one easy to digest package.

Work took over my life, then crushed my soul, then made me realize hope is not lost

Life as a freelancer is going nowhere. And it’s kind of funny but I really don’t care. I mean, sure, having a teeny-tiny "income" was a side perk for a while but I honestly think I’m just over it.

I’m over doing great work with no feedback and no repeat business.

I’m over trying to help companies who absolutely could benefit from my help with their copy but who try to get me to take $15 for 2000 words of heavily researched writing because they saw some ad on a content mill where someone who doesn’t speak the same language as them promises to “write the quality contents” for money that no human can live on in this country.

I’m over apologizing for charging a professional fee for professional work or being outright laughed at for wanting to make a living running a business doing something I have oodles of experience doing and am pretty kick-ass at.

Over chasing people who don’t understand that a contract is a binding document.

Over having to ask my lawyer for help so I can make a measly $140 that was 6 weeks overdue.

Fucking freelancing.

Yup that’s right kids! If you want to run your own freelance writing business you too might be able to be poor, work your ass off well over 50 hours a week and be shunned from future work because you opted to take a weekend off instead of being a slave to your email!

This really is the life isn’t it?

Good thing my husband makes an income too because living on the street isn’t on my bucket list.

But all snarky realism aside this whole tragic dance taught me one incredibly important lesson:

I need to be in control of my own destiny.

And by that I mean realize my talents and put them to use for once.

I have kick-ass writing skills, am a detailed and organized business owner who never fails to deliver on time, over-delivers most of the time, applies creativity to all of my projects and charges appropriately and if other business owners can’t understand why that’s light years ahead of other freelancers then, in the immortal words of Burton Guster, they can just:

Suck iiiiiiiit.

So with all that said it should be crystal clear why my friend Kate and I are launching our very own venture and why I’m so freaking excited about it!

It’s called Blogging Your Book.

This is our “first student” logo, what do you think?

This venture couldn’t be more necessary for both of us.

I’m an author turned copywriter who has taken so many online courses now that my hard drive is probably hedging on max capacity of pdf documents. Kate is a ghostwriter and general web copy guru who is maybe even more tired of the trying-to-land-a-client run around than I am.

Last spring we went to a presentation together and had the biggest light bulb moment of our lives. (If you want to read about that experience check out our Go Team! Page)

We knew we could structure a course on how to promote yourself as a first time author with the most powerful form of marketing available online – a blog.

Since April we’ve been putting this thing together and I have to say that in all my years of learning about blogging/freelancing/copywriting for income, NOTHING has ever made me as excited as the possibilities that exist through this business venture we’ll be launching next spring.

We are dedicated to creating the best product possible.

We genuinely want to help authors get their stuff out there in the world.

We both know it’s time to take control back in our businesses and stop relying on the clients that never come to make our dreams come true.

It is SO TIME to make it happen for ourselves!

So the site is up and we’re slowly starting to populate the blog with content, get our newsletter together and craft some AMAZING module content so we can really give a quality class experience to all of these authors who have no idea what a platform even is let alone how to build one to sell their books.

(By the way, you’d be my new BFF if you’d sign up to get our newsletter which should start running in October sometime. It will have all kinds of great blogging for marketing tips and other stuff so get in now!)

In other news…

This will be happening in the next 3-5 years:

This is one of the Tumbleweed Tiny House Company’s larger plans at 777 sq ft and it’s for their B-53 model. However, it is very likely that Matt will be using things like this as inspiration but designing our new, much smaller, more efficient and more functional house from the ground up all on his own.

I do love our house but after being here for a couple years (as well as being in Phoenix, still having weird sickness symptoms on and off that I attribute directly to this geographic region) we know this isn’t the right place for us for the long term. We have way too much house, way too much underutilized land, and far too big a pool for what we really need.

Aside from the heating and cooling costs to own a home this large in the desert there’s just the overall waste of space that the environmentalist in me can’t justify anymore.

So you can understand even more now why Blogging Your Book needs to get off the ground!

You want even more? Okay!

In late June we went back east to celebrate my cousin’s wedding. She was a beautiful and happy bride, the ceremony was just perfect and we felt so honored to be invited to share that special day with her and her amazing groom. Plus it was awesome just to get a few moments to see a good number of our family and friends we haven’t seen in far too long. The week flew by but we ended it on the best note ever:

You're damn right that's Bianchi's!

I also made this homemade toothpaste recently and it was the first step in living a bit more chemical-lite.

I’m planning to start experimenting with laundry detergent, shampoo, conditioner, Dryel/Febreze alternates and a lot of other household cleaning products. We already ditched the toilet bowl and bathroom cleaners in favor of vinegar and baking soda.

Matt hates the smell but it dissipates pretty quick and has good properties for killing germs.

And I finally quit smoking cigarettes. I’m only 5 days in but have switched exclusively to an e-cig. I’ve had a pang here or there but not letting it suck me back in. Hello, can’t really live chemical-lite and still smoke now can I?

However there are a few things I’m not going to stop doing that are still chemically based (even though I try to go 3-Free as often as possible) because, well, I just love doing it.

And more still…

This summer was the summer of concerts let me tell you!

I had the pleasure of feasting my ears on some artists who had about 5 people in the room as well as some who had 5000 or more. I was lucky enough to share these wonderful nights and day-drinking days with my sister, her boyfriend, my mom, my step-MIL and her sister, friends, and/or Matt.

Marc Norman, Tony Bennett, Bushwalla, and Mötley Crüe were all touring either local bars or cross-country venues. They were great and all but for the first time in way too long I got to hear and see the live musical stylings of Jason Mraz (with Raining Jane) who are touring a new album titled YES!

The album rocks. The show was so fucking kick-ass I could hardly contain my excitement. I still can hardly contain it! It was a rare appearance for my favorite wordsmith here in Phoenix and it was great to have a chance to be in the crowd. 13th row at that. Boom!

Saw a few ball games, bought our season tickets to the Coyotes (13 days!) and got to celebrate our 12th wedding anniversary on the shores of California with Matt for the 3rd year in a row.

We spent time chilling with family, drinking with friends...and vice versa.

As ranty as my last post might have been about the way I go off the deep end sometimes, this summer is a perfect example of how much awesome there really is in my life.

I’m truly a lucky gal.

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