Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Book Launch vs. NaNoWriMo

I'd like to say something about setting goals. Goals are good. Goals are motivating forces. Goals push you to do more, be more. That said, can you over-set goals?

At the end of last month, I set two goals: Publish/launch The Prince Charming Hoax on Kindle the first week of November, and participate in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and complete 50,000 words toward a new novel during the 30-day month.

I christened this project "Sweet November," and announced my intentions publicly. I created a game plan for the hours I would devote to each. It would be intensive, but I could do it!


I dutifully started NaNoWriMo on November 1 and flew through week 1 meeting the 1667 word/day quota. The time to complete the quota, however, was far greater than I anticipated. I ended each day thinking, "Tomorrow I'll work on the launch." Didn't happen.

Then came week 2 of NaNoWriMo. I'd lost some of my exhilaration for the project and hated what I was writing. I procrastinated and found myself either not meeting the daily quota or pushing myself to reach the mark until the words on the screen were so blurry I couldn't see what crap I was putting out. And, to make matters worse, I agonized each day that I did nothing to promote the launch of my first novel.

A Kindle Select eBook
I did publish my ebook on November 2 (proud mama here), but publishing a book on Kindle and launching a title are two very different activities. I had begun some launch promotion before NaNoWriMo began: setting up some blog posts, interviews, and connecting with possible launch partners. But once my I began the NaNo challenge, everything grinded to a halt.

I also began working with my book designer on the print version of The Prince Charming Hoax, compounding the pressure and contributing to squeezing the launch promotion out of my daily attention. Although the designer was doing most of the labor-intensive work, I had to turn my attention to reviewing the various cover designs and interior layouts. We ran into a bit of a snag when the book ran 404 pages once the manuscript copy was imported into the design template I selected! Adjustments were made and we were able to reduce the page count to 322, but it took several passes between us to achieve our goal, which translated to more work, more of my attention, and another week without book launch activity.

I was at a crisis point. I wanted to honor my commitment to NaNoWriMo, but I was getting ready to punk out. I was feeling guilty that it was taking me away from the final phase of the book that had just launched, but on the other hand, I am adverse to quitting something halfway. By the end of the second week, I felt I was sinking and fighting a growing sense of despair: I was writing badly just to make the word count, and because I was so unhappy with the work I was putting out, I felt even worse about  delaying work on my book launch. To keep my sanity, I had to pick one.

Here's a look at my Sweet November, describing my progress and thought process during this project.

Days 1-7: I wondered what the fuss was all about. Yes, it was more time consuming than I imagined to reach the daily 1667-word quota, but I was completing it with ease. The first draft was progressing nicely. I was easily able to incorporate the launch and early promotion was going well. The sample design templates for the interior pages of the print version of The Prince Charming Hoax arrive.

Days 8-12: I found it much harder to reach the daily word count and was miserable that my story was suffering under the need to produce, but I kept grinding it out each day. Not much time for anything else because the writing was going sooo slooooow. The review process for The Prince Charming Hoax design templates goes smoothly and I approve a version on Day 11. At the end of Day 12, I have first proof pages for book, but it's running 404 pages—way longer than I anticipated.

Days 13 and 14 were torturous, and I considered giving NaNo up to focus on the book launch instead. Each day I struggled to complete the daily quota and I began to slip behind. I face new rounds of decisions to make with the print book as I look at several versions of adjusted designs with smaller font size and varying degrees of decreased space between paragraphs and between lines of type (leading).

Day 15 was a turning point. I got up at my usual 5 a.m. (usual since starting this project), and meditated instead of hitting the computer straight out of bed. Aah, big difference! I finished the day at 23,660 words, just under the 25,000 midway point, but I was feeling confident that I could catch up and complete the goal on time. Good news with the page proof, too. At the end of the day, I received a new first proof of The Prince Charming Hoax, down to 322 pages...a very manageable size.

Day 16: Distractions began to deter me. I had been ignoring so many to-do's to get to my daily ta-da word count. I had several outside activities that drew me away from the computer, but I managed to break the halfway mark and write 2000+ words for the second day in a row. I was starting to have real doubts, though, that it was worth it to complete NaNo at the cost of delaying my launch and promoting my debut novel. And I hadn't even begun proofreading the page proofs for The Prince Charming Hoax yet.

Day 17 brought a project that could no longer be delayed. I had a deadline that was immutable and not completing the project would have serious financial consequences. Although the project took me away from both books, completing something in its entirety felt good. Something finally got done, completed, crossed off the list!

Day 18: Up on Sunday morning at 5:30, but complete very little writing. I'm exhausted and rationalize I need time away to refresh and renew my creative juices. Although I planned to get back to the page in the afternoon, I did not.

Day 19. Conundrum Day. I'm at my computer, finished meditating at 6 a.m. Rereading my last few days' work is not prompting me on. Nothing's happening and I know I can do better than this. I check my NaNo stats and find out that although I'm behind, I can finish the 50,000 word goal if I write 2,021 words per day for the next 12 days. Doable, for sure. Do I want to do it, though? I know I'd give a resounding "yes!" if I were more excited about how the second book was progressing. But I feel that what I"m producing isn't worthy of postponing my work on The Prince Charming Hoax print book and the launch of the ebook. Still, I'm not comfortable being a quitter on any front.

Day 20 brings client commitments and outside distractions of real-life responsibilities to complete before Thanksgiving. It's late afternoon before I get to work on anything: will it be NaNo, The Prince Charming Hoax pages, a blog post, my Thanksgiving Day newsletter, or book launch prep?

This blog post pours out of me...clearly what I needed to do as a way of releasing the stress of the self-imposed pressure I've created. I would normally journal out these kinds of decisions, but I want to have a more public way of expressing my thought process here. After all, I started this project out in the open, and I want to honor that commitment.

I've decided to give up the need to control the outcome. I am going to complete the NaNoWriMo project, writing every day. If I reach 50,000, whoohoo. The NaNo word meter tells me that I can reach the goal if I write 2084 words per day from now until November 30. But, whatever number of words I reach will be good ones. I can't live with the discomfort of writing crap, so I've let go of the pressure of the 50,000 word goal.

Habits engrained after 38 years as an editor cannot be easily undone in 30 days. My first draft will not be pitch-perfect by any means, but there's a big difference between tweaking copy and needing to completely rewrite almost everything you've done. In the long run, I'll finish sooner by writing better because there will be less to change. No matter what, I'll be at least halfway through the follow up book  to The Prince Charming Hoax, and that's a big accomplishment.

I am going to shift my emphasis to proofreading The Prince Charming Hoax page proof and completing the print version of this book. I'm also going to renew planning my launch. Details to follow!

Monday, November 05, 2012

Help me kindle my Kindle launch, and get a free book

The Prince Charming Hoax Cover
Purchase on Kindle

Prince Charming has arrived! And as a valued reader, you are the first to know! 

The official launch date (to be announced with much fanfare) is Monday, November 12. But, you can get a pre-launch copy now by clicking on the "Price Charming" link in the first sentence of this post or below the book cover at right.

You may be wondering why I don't just go full out and tell everyone the great news right now. When you go to the Kindle page, you'll see the book looks kind of lonely. Although some faithful readers have purchased copies and liked the page, there are no reviews yet. If you didn't know me, you probably wouldn't be inclined to purchase a copy. So, that's why I'm not ready to send new readers there quite yet!

How you can participate in my "soft" launch and help "kindle" the fire for the official launch on November 12. 
I want to the page to look more trafficked, so please:
  • Visit my Kindle page and click "Like" under the book title.
  • Visit my author page and click "Like"
  • Purchase or borrow a copy of the ebook (Kindle owners can "borrow" the book for free)
  • If you like the book, write a review on Amazon after you've read the book
  • Recommend and share the book with others 
*Special Incentive: Get a free copy of the print book when it becomes available in December!*
Help me find typos and errors! I did everything I recommend to others to eliminate as many errors as I could. Six beta readers and my book designer read the copy and alerted me to mistakes. I read the final at least five times and one time aloud. Every pass I took, I still found a word missing or a typo somewhere. But, at some point you just have to say, "it's good to go," or you'll never publish the book, so I sent the final manuscript to the ebook formatter. 

Wouldn't you know, I've already found one mistake in the Kindle ebook. I'm guessing there may be more, and I want to find and fix them in the print edition, which will be available in December. Once I feel that all the errors have been discovered, I'll resubmit a corrected ebook file to Kindle as well.

So, here's the deal: If you read the ebook and find an error (or more), send me an email with the chapter number and the line with the error. Include your mailing address. I will send you a free copy of the print book when it's published. (You pay only shipping fee of $4.95)
How else can you help me launch my book?
  • Sign up to get email notification of my blog posts at my blog (Be sure to enter your email address under the heading that reads, "Subscribe to blog via email.")
  • Share my blog posts on Facebook and Twitter (there's handy little "share" buttons at the end of each post)
  • Inform me of any women's book/reading groups that you think may be interested in a fun, sexy, erotic story of women's empowerment. (My target group is Boomer women.) 
  • Host me on your blog (I provide the post) or do a blog interview with me
  • Recommend leads for radio shows, bloggers, online media, etc. that I can contact about the book
  • Email me with any questions, comments, or suggestions regarding how you can help with the launch
How will helping me benefit you?
I'm sharing (via my blog) the step-by-steps of my launch and promotion activity for the 90 days on KDP Select. Some of the things you can learn include:

  • How to prepare and upload your ebook to Kindle
  • Pricing considerations
  • Marketing strategies
  • Promotional tools and resources
  • Social media promotion
If you are a reader or subscriber, feel free to contact me via email, Facebook, or Twitter with any questions you have about launching your book ;-)

To Your Publishing Success!

My best,

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Can you help me prepare for my book launch?

This is an exciting day for me. I''m about to send the final manuscript for my novel The Prince Charming Hoax to the ebook formatter! She will take my Word document and turn it into a file that can be uploaded to Kindle and another file for the Smashwords platform. Why two files/versions? Kindle has its own format (.mobi), while Smashwords takes the Word document (which has been formatted to its specifications) and churns it into to files that can then be accepted by Nook (Barnes & Noble), iBookstore (Apple), Kobo, Sony, and a host of other ebook distributors. Did I mention that my only cost here will be to the formatter? No fee from either Kindle or Smashwords to publish the ebook!

Initially, I'm going to launch my ebook on Kindle only, using the KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) Select program. That requires a 90-day exclusivity agreement. When I first learned of the program, I wondered why anyone would agree to restrict where his or her book could be offered for sale. But, I read many success stories of how the program was utilized to boost sales, and I've decided to give it a try.

What can you learn as I launch my debut novel, The Prince Charming Hoax?
Hehe. I'm hoping you won't find out what not to do! But, I'm going to share (via my blog) the step-by-steps of my launch and promotion activity for the 90 days on KDP Select. Some of the things you can learn include:

  • How to prepare and upload your ebook to Kindle
  • Pricing considerations
  • Marketing strategies
  • Promotional tools and resources
  • Social media promotion
How can you help me launch my book?
So many ways, in so little time! Here's how you can help in just minutes—no, seconds—per effort.
  • Sign up to get email notification of my blog posts (See "Subscribe to blog via email" in right column) 
  • Share my blog posts on Facebook and Twitter (there's handy little "share" buttons at the end of each post)
  • Inform me of any women's book/reading groups that you think may be interested in a fun, sexy, erotic story of women's empowerment. (My target group is Boomer women.) 
  • Host me on your blog (I provide the post) or do a blog interview with me
  • Recommend leads for radio shows, bloggers, online media, etc. that I can contact about the book
  • Email me with any questions, comments, or suggestions regarding how you can help with the launch
  • Subscribe to my Wordy Woman newsletter for biweekly updates, tips, and resources  (top right column)
Finally, do not forgot to sign up for the "One Day My Prince Will Come" Free eBook Giveaway!

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Do you have a goal of getting your book into the Top 100 on Amazon or Kindle?

It can seem daunting to navigate the entire publishing process on your own, especially for a new or first-time author. If you'd like feedback on your work or support and assistance finding editors, designers, and the right place to publish your book, please contact me.

Two of the books I helped my clients publish in the last year—Marvin's Book by Melissa Soldani Lemon and We're In This Together by Rob Harris—have reached the Amazon Kindle bestseller lists in their categories in the No. 1 and No. 2 positions.

At the present time, I've cleared my calendar to work with a limited number of authors, and you can work with me in one of two ways:
Manuscript Reviews are in-depth evaluations of completed fiction or nonfiction book manuscripts.
Consulting sessions are 45-minutes phone or Skype calls to discuss any issue related to writing or publishing in today's market. 

Monday, October 01, 2012

Success Tips for Indie Authors

This is the best time in history to be an author! I've been saying that since the publishing industry began its big shift in 2009, and evidence of this truth just keeps showing up. Why?

Unlike the stodgy, old publishing world filled with rules and gatekeepers, authors today face a new, exciting marketplace with rules yet to be written, limited only be their own imaginations.

Not every indie author is successful, yet many are selling books, and some are making serious, life-changing income. Let's take a look at some of the traits and activities successful authors employ.

What are the characteristics of successful authors?
Authors with creative, out-of-the-box ideas on how to promote themselves do really well. Blogs and social media are two of the tools they use, but how they bring their work to the attention of the world makes a difference. 

One thing is for sure—an author has to build a readership. Having a following before the book comes out is ideal, but what if you don't? One author paid for reviews and posted them strategically at sites where readers convene. (Note: the paid-for review has received much criticism lately, and the effectiveness of this strategy may be questionable at this time.) Another used a certain search term on Twitter to identify people who would be interested in his book. He then directed them to a blog post on his website, which wasn't about his book, but the idea behind his book. The author was John Locke, and he was the first indie author to sell one million books on Kindle. Read his book, How I Sold 1 Million eBooks in 5 Months; it's enlightening. Another author used reading groups, which she contacted one by one. 

Bottom line, be creative and willing to make some mistakes. The most successful authors today are the ones with the most chutzpah (guts).

Which social networks work best for self-published authors?
They all work, it just depends on which ones you want to use. If you like Facebook, start there. Twitter is the favorite of many authors. Google+ or any of the others can work. Don't forget the literary networks such as Goodreads and Shelfari. Pinterest has become very popular, which is interesting because novels are not "visual," or so one might think. But 70 percent of the population are visual learners...meaning they like to receive their information via visual means. Your book cover, for a start, is visual, but perhaps you could also use images that represent your setting, historical period, foods, and clothing styles worn by the characters. Be inventive!

Remember, use your social networking activity to build relationships with people interested in what you do. Don't use social media solely as a bulletin board to broadcast your sales message.

Is off-line promotion still useful?
Of course. Good old word of mouth is still the most powerful tool. I don't recommend physical book tours, although it's nice to have your book at your local indie bookstore. Never do a least don't call it that because "book signings" don't draw a crowd. Give a talk on a topic related to your book, and more people will show up—and you will sell more books.

Marketing doodads such as bookmarks or postcards don't sell books. They're niceties to have, if you have extra money. Instead focus on putting your book in unusual places. One author I know whose novels are set against the backdrop of NASCAR sells her books at the race tracks. Put romance novels in flower shops or gift shops. Erotica in lingerie shops. You get the idea. 

Connecting with readers' groups is very powerful. Clubs, meet ups, and other groups that fit with your genre or book's plot/setting are great places to find fans and start word of mouth going.

As with online marketing, be inventive in your approach. You are a powerful, creative being. Don't rely on the old stuff anymore. Let your light shine as only you can.

To Your Publishing Success!
My best,

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Best Places to Self-Publish

Photo courtesy Joe Gemignani
The new publishing paradigm offers today's authors a wealth of opportunities to reach an audience. Never before have writers been able to get their work out so quickly and in so many ways. 

Many new companies and services have sprung up to meet the needs of the ever-growing throngs of self-publishing authors, and it can be difficult to choose from among them all. 

Not surprisingly, one of the questions I'm asked most often is:

What's the best place to publish my book (or ebook)?
There's not one single right answer, and the "best" place for you may be different than for another author, depending on your level of experience and willingness to handle the publishing process on your own. 

However, for the vast majority of independent authors, these are my recommendations:
For print books, CreateSpace has the best printing prices and distribution choices. Most of the POD printers—such as Lulu, Author House, and even the traditional publishers that have added self-publishing divisions—charge too much for their packages and WAY too much for the per-book price to the author. 

Rather than use the editorial or design services that CreateSpace or any of the others offer, I prefer to contract those services via independent editors and designers whose work I know. You can do the same and then upload your final book and cover files to CreateSpace for printing and distribution.

CreateSpace has recently added international markets through its expanded distribution, making it an even better choice for your book. 

For ebooks, I recommend using both Smashwords and Kindle to get the most coverage with the least effort and cost. Begin with Smashwords. Simply upload your Word doc and cover pdf and within minutes your ebook is available for sale. Once your book is vetted for Smashword's premium catalog (which is largely determined by proper formatting, not content), your book will also be available for sale on Nook, Kobo, Sony, and a host of other ebook sellers, including the Apple iBookstore.

Kindle uses a different format for ebooks (.mobi) and your book must be formatted to its specifications. Instructions on how to format and upload your book are available on the Kindle site. Typically, if formatted correctly, your ebook will be available for sale on Kindle within 48 hours after upload.

Both Kindle and Smashwords have free guides that can be downloaded to help you through the process. Formatting is not difficult, but can be time consuming. Upon request, Smashwords will email you a list of independent formatters who will do it for you. The fees range from $40 and up, depending on the complexity of the material. Novels with straight text are fairly easy to convert, while nonfiction with graphs, charts, or illustrations will require more work. Other considerations for pricing include whether you submit a Word doc or a pdf for ebook formatting.

Publishing your ebook via Smashwords and Kindle is free. Using both these services will give you a broad range of distribution globally. You will earn from 35 percent to 80 percent royalties on sales, depending on a number of factors. All the information is available at those sites.

You may want to explore the Kindle Digital Publishing (KDP) Select program, which offers certain benefits for exclusive rights to your work for 90-days (renewable by choice). This option is a viable strategy that has been very successful for some authors, but I suggest you understand how to best use it before committing. 

There are many other options for publishing your ebook and/or print book, but these are the ones I've tested and know to serve an author well. There's no substitute for doing your own research and becoming familiar with the publishing process, and certainly, these companies are a great place to start.

To Your Publishing Success!

My best,

Friday, August 31, 2012

The New Publishing Paradigm for Fiction Writers

Not too long ago, I was interviewed by Stephanie Gunning on a special webinar, "The New Publishing Paradigm." I've received many requests for the audio or transcripts. The entire program content is too long for a newsletter, but here are a few of the Q&A exchanges we covered.
How does the new publishing paradigm affect fiction authors specifically?  The types of fiction being written are dramatically different today....absolutely an outgrowth of the social society.  Years ago literary fiction reigned supreme and theme of "what is the purpose of life" was pretty much present in every novel. Think back to your high school classes (or maybe freshman English in college). The major authors were Hemingway, Steinbeck, Fitzgerald and the existentialists such as Sartre, Camus, Beckett and so on. Also popular were themes of the absurd... plays such as No Exit, Waiting for Godot, and books by fiction authors such as Saul Bellows and Joseph Heller. Even the classic "coming of age" stories...Catcher in the Rye, Lord of the Flies, I know why the Caged Bird Sings ...were full of metaphors and deeper meanings to uncover in the plot. 
Flash forward to the year 2000 until now.... Harry Potter, Twilight, 50 Shades of Gray, The Hunger Games, DaVinci Code, and any number of the crime/mystery/adventure/scifi/fantasy fiction series that are so popular. These are all plot-driven stories, and many have good characterization, but there's little substance once the stories are over. You'd be hard pressed to find serious statements about human nature underlying the plot. Not to say that's true for everything coming out today, because there still is good literary fiction. But popular fiction is the big seller in today's market, and I think that's a reflection of our high-tech society with extreme attention deficit disorder. I don't mean that in a bad way, just an observation.
This big change came at the same time, and is partly due to the technology roll out. So, not only was it easier to an author to get a book out in print or as an ebook, it was easier to communicate with the readers due to the social networks, and the combination of availability of access to readers and the indie author's ability to publish directly to that reader changed the face of publishing. 
Which is better to self-publish first: a print book or ebook?  No right or wrong or better, really. Depends on the author's goals and budget. It's easier, faster, and cheaper to do a digital edition first, no doubt about it. Many authors do both, one first, then the other...but some put their books out simultaneously in print and ebook form. I think for a newbie, doing an ebook is better, in the sense that it's easier, faster and cheaper. Thus mistakes are more easily corrected. But, both formats require certain things to be successful: a good story, good editing and good book cover and interior design.
I'll be posting more questions and answers from the interview in future blog posts. Follow this blog by email (use the subscription box in righthand column) so you don't miss any!

Labor (of Love) Day Special Offer

Don't let your heart be heavy that summer is ending. Breathe in and let the cooler air fill you with inspiration to return to the page. (Let's be honest...many of you took the summer "off" from writing.)

Always your muse, I want to nudge you along to start now, so I created a special "Back to School" BOGO Consulting Package. Just purchase 1 to 4 consulting sessions and get one session free. What's the catch? You must purchase your session(s) by Labor Day, September 3, and schedule them before October 31.

Let's get that book done and up on Kindle and Amazon. Please don't let another season fly by with your book still in your head or on your computer.

Make the commitment to get the book done! Purchase your consulting session now, because when Labor Day Weekend is gone, so is this offer. Get all the details here>>

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Source of Inspiration

Photo ©Joe Gemignani
Today I had a phone call from a former member of the women's writing group I founded in Fort Lauderdale back in 2006. At age 76, Valerie is a performance poet with a PhD in Philosophy who teaches at Broward College, lectures at Nova University, speaks for nonprofit groups, and creates and gives workshops and seminars on spirituality. She wanted to know if I was still leading the writer's group and if I had room for her in my classes. She said she recently had surgery for thyroid cancer and finally had time while recovering to put together her book, which she envisions as a collection of her poems, essays, cartoons, articles, and academic papers. She was terribly disappointed to learn that I'm no longer located in South Florida or leading writing groups.

I remember Valerie quite vividly. Almost six feet tall, with long black hair, she is a woman not easily forgotten or even ignored. When it was her turn to share her work with the writers group, she stood up and performed her poetry from memory...sometimes entertaining us for 10 or 15 minutes a time. I don't remember that she ever slipped up even once or forgot the next line. She was amazing...she was doing her version of poetry slams long before most of the contemporary poets' parents were born.

In between telling me about all the things she's been up to since we last saw one another, she offered up a poem she had written yesterday after seeing her reflection looking out the window. I wish I had a copy to print here or, better, an audio recording of her spoken word because my own words can't begin to describe the power of hers.

Valerie was a bit overwhelmed with the voluminous amount of material that she's created over the years. Where should she begin, she wanted to know? That's pretty much the first opportunity I had to get a word in. I told her, "Normally, when people ask me that question, I tell them to begin with the area of their writing is closest to their hearts and that gives them the most pleasure. I already know what that is for you. Start with your poetry collection, and record it as well." "Really?" she asked. "You don't think I should include everything in one book?" "Valerie, you have an encyclopedia's worth of writing. Begin with your poetry. Then move on to each collection of work separately. When it's all complete, you can combine all the collections in a gift set."

She's not tech-savvy, so I also suggested she get a student to help her with the technical and administrative end of the project. She liked my ideas very much and thanked me many times. "You are such an inspiration!" she said, more than once. "Valerie, you are the inspiration. You don't know it, but this has been a wake up call for me. Thank you for getting back in touch."

When we hung up, I took a few moments to savor our conversation and remembered with pleasure her eloquent and captivating delivery. I realized how much I miss being in the company of other writers and what a wellspring of creativity I found there. I also felt more than a bit guilty about my pathetic delays getting my novel complete. But, I didn't want to wallow in self-pity or guilt. I truly felt uplifted by Valerie's fervor. And so I begin again, picking up where I left off in the second draft of THE PRINCE CHARMING chapter 19, which as chapter 18 in the first draft was a stumbling block as well.

So, tomorrow (since today if virtually over as far as time for writing), I begin back at the page with my novel. In the meantime, you can read Chapter One here. On the blog with the novel is a short story I wrote for a friend's book from a visual prompt. It's called "Girls Night Out," and you can read it here.

I will continue to post chapters of the novel, so if you're interested in following along, subscribe to the email updates at the Elyse Grant blog, where the hot and spicy stuff is taking place.

We never know where we'll get our inspiration. Perhaps my writing can spark something for you...or if your muse needs a more personal nudge, the aMUSEment consulting package is available through the end of August.

Please let me hear from you via the blog comments. Tell me what you're working on and what inspires you.

To your writing success,

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Independence Day for this Independent

photo by Joe Gemignani
Fourth of July Greetings! I've chosen today (since it's already called Independence Day) to announce my own departure from the norm. I've been searching for months (maybe even years) to integrate myself, my work and my public presence in a way that doesn't leave out any part of me, and I wanted to do it in a different way.

I am independent, an Aquarian to the core. I prefer to work alone and do things my own way. I'm usually ahead of the curve (at least in my vision), and once everyone catches up with what's new, I'm bored with the same old thing. So, I was very excited a few years ago when the publishing revolution began. After all, I am a child of the Sixties and being part of a movement to change the old paradigms of publishing was thrilling for me. But that's all mainstream now (at least from my may not be if you're a newbie to publishing) and I'm tired of talking about it.

I began playing with the idea of doing everything opposite of what I had been doing, just to see if I could stir up something that would bring back some of my mojo and express the new me, while not totally abandoning the work I still wanted to do. This meant finding a way to be a publishing consultant and an author of erotic fiction. Turns out, that was the easy part. But there was still another side to me, which had overtaken a large portion of my time, energy and focus: my vegan lifestyle, and  I wanted to incorporate this important aspect of me into my work.

I began by ignoring my own advice to use self-hosted blogs and returned to the Blogger platform. Turns out, much had changed since I deserted my original blog for a series of Wordpress blogs, and I was very happy with the new Blogger options. Initially, I brought back my Wordy Woman blog here. I was still toying with the idea of a separate blog for Elyse Grant and one for the vegan me. [Sigh.] I knew it wouldn't work, since I was never able to keep up with my three previous blogs: VIP Authors, Visual Impressions Publishing and Wordy Woman.

Then, while playing in the back end of Blogger, I discovered I could have separate blogs as pages on one site. Lightbulb moment! With a single day of maneuvering things around, I was able to bring all of me under one umbrella and still be Shelley Lieber, The Wordy Woman; Elyse Grant, author of erotic fiction; and Vegan Novelist, writing about the vegan lifestyle...depending on which one of personalities is inhabiting my earthly body. And I could express myself to the world in one place as well, making it much easier on my readers;-)

And so I declare my independence from the tyranny of rules of what can and can't be done. If I can dream it, I can do it...and so can you. Happy Independence Day to all!

P.S. This site is still a work in progress, and additional tabs may be added to incorporate my publishing company and more. Please take a look at what I've done so far and comment wherever and whenever you feel so moved. Thanks so much!

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Every Writer is a Visionary

Releasing the Juicy, Creative Writer Within

I’m at an age where I’ve begun to view my world from a historical perspective. I rather like that vantage point because I can apply my 20:20 hindsight to current events. What I see is women in their 20s, 30s, 40s, and 50s doing exactly what I did at those ages, saying what I said (and still say, although less frequently). “I’m too busy,” “I have too much to do,” “No time for that!” “Self-care is selfish.”

I get it because I’ve lived it. Raising a family, building a career, and being a business or life partner are all activities that can deplete your energy. All that dashing around, attending to the needs of others, and putting your dreams on the back burner for any reason dries you up. When you sit down for your “creative time,” you find there’s nothing left. All the good juice is gone, and what you really want to do is take a nap.

This is where I get to share the benefit of my historical perspective. (If any of the above sounds like you, pay attention. If it doesn’t, keep reading anyway. My mother always said, “You learn something new every day.”)

After a decade or more of delaying satisfaction of your needs, it becomes a habit. There’s always something else where you can place your attention instead of getting down to what you’ve declared you want to do.  If that’s been your M.O. for any length of time, it’s not going to change on its own.  You’ll never “find” time for what you want; you must “make” time for yourself.

That’s only the first step because when you are busy, you’ll come to your creative space without your mojo. You’ll stare at a blank piece of paper or canvas; you’ll walk around with a camera and never lift it to shoot; you’ll open the refrigerator door and close it a dozen times without taking anything out (or worse, you’ll take everything out and eat it even though it’s not food you’re craving).

After 30 minutes, an hour, or a day, you’ll feel guilty for spending time without getting anything done. You’ll wonder if you’ll ever have another creative thought. You’ll doubt that what you once thought was creative, edgy and expressive was any good at all.

You ‘ll think your muse has abandoned you. But it’s not true. You’ve spent so many years “doing” stuff, you’ve forgotten that your creativity is awakened only when you are still enough to connect with it inside you. 

This absolutely still, “down” time is where the magic of imagination comes alive. You may call this process “meditating.” I call it “marinating.” I allow myself to freely soak up the creative juice from within and then release it later on the page.

Choreographer Twyla Tharp said, “It takes skill to bring something you’ve imagined into the world. No one is born with that skill. It is developed through exercise, through repetition, through a blend of learning and reflection that’s both painstaking and rewarding. And it takes time.”

Every Writer Visionary, your time is now, the only time there is. Start doing nothing and watch your world change.

Note: This post was originally written for the Every Woman Visionary series on and has been adapted for this blog.

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Back to My Future

Do you ever feel like you're going around in circles? It can be a frustrating experience, but sometimes it's liberating to return to where you began and have an opportunity to start over. The latter is my recent experience. I am back to where I began...a blog on Blogger. Simple.

You may have noticed the sizable gap in time since my previous post. I was writing...just not for publication. I've been revising my novel (still in progress). I also needed time to minimize the outside commitments vying for my time and attention.

But, I don't think I need to explain it all here. That's the old news.

For me, the good news is that now I'm back. Back where I started when I began writing my novel. Back to my future as a writer.