Welcome to Day 16 of the A-Z Blog Challenge, and my Letters of Gratitude.
I've said it before here on my blog: We OVERESTIMATE what we can accomplish in a day and UNDERESTIMATE what we can accomplish in a year.
PERSISTENCE: Do it and stuff happens.
I've always been a big one for goal setting. I used to coach people in business. For two and a half days each week I would talk to clients every half hour for 8 hours a day. My job was to help them become more productive.
Most people would come to the phone feeling they'd been missing something, that they needed that secret that would propel them into the stratosphere. Our level of production at the time was so huge, they couldn't see themselves being able to do a tenth of what we had accomplished in business. “Sharon, what's that missing piece? What's that spark that motivated you to go to the next level?” Everyone thought there was some secret to high levels of achievement. They hired me to give it to them.
My job was to help them realize that the secret was within them all along. You don't have to be smarter, faster, prettier than anybody else. Every writer alive has been told, “You're a natural.” We all think we are all so special, don't we? Yes, we have to believe in our work. But the truth is, TALENT IS OVERRATED.
It's persistence that gets us to where we want to go. If you want to do and go where others haven't gone, you have to do what others won't do to get there. Everyone wants a shortcut. A magic bullet. A technique or brilliant answer to all our problems, without learning through trial and error, what we should be doing.
Bella Andre taught me this. I don't think I've ever run across a harder working writer. And she reads a book EVERY day, too. She's managed to turn her career from mid-list author without a contract to megablockbusting Indie author phenom in less than 2 years. She did it by doing what others wouldn't do.
How many of us would have quit if we had a big deal withdrawn? Who picks up the pieces after the Snoopy Dancing when there is no party? When the bride and groom don't show up to the wedding? Bella went to work. She got very good at literally running over every obstacle that could come her way.
She became persistent.
Did she fail? Sometimes. Did she have doubts, disappointments? Of course. But just like the Realtors I used to coach, and I've coached probably 200-250 of them during my time, I would tell my clients what they needed to do to be successful and less than 10% would do it. It's probably even less than 10%.
But not Bella. What about you? Do you show up every day and do your best? Like I said in the letter O post, are you Open for business? Really?
We are over halfway there on the A-Z Blog, letters of gratitude. I'm grateful you're here, too. Did I say that before?
Open hand. When we think about it, and open hand is an invitation. A calling to take someone's hand and walk. A chance to receive a gift. An indication we are open and not closed to the other. Opening ourselves up to our compelling future.
What an open hand is not is a fist. Fists hold things tightly. Like the monkeys they catch by putting holes in trees or pumpkins and filling it with treats. The money won't let go and then can't get his little hand through the hole that would give him freedom. If only he would let go and open his hand. He would be free.
Fists are also used to defend ourselves. When our stomach and psyche is balled up in a fist it is cold and hard as a lump of coal. We protect, and therefore become smaller, focused on defense rather than logic, rather than receiving. We stave off blows with a fist.
Don't get me wrong, there is a time and place for battle. I have the scars to prove it. I have the stories. There are those that are trained to battle for us, so we don't have to. So we can live a “normal” life without having to worry about our safety.
But I find most my own personal growth has come when I receive, rather than fight off. When I listen and not speak. When I think before I act.
Are you open for business in your life?
Welcome to my first post in the 2012 A-Z Blog Challenge. I've decided to do a month of Gratitude, starting with the letter A.
Angels. I am sure there have been Guardian Angels watching over me for much of my life. That's not to say things have been perfect. But whenever things were darkest, I had the feeling there was something other than a father figure watching over me. Something special, with intention. Something spiritual and magical all in one.
I started dreaming about Guardian Angels after our house burned down in 2008. Each night I would go to bed with the story and in the morning a vivid scene was just right there, waiting for me to write down. I began what would be the first of three Guardian Angel romances, two of which are now uploaded to Kindle and Nook.
I began wondering what it would be like for a Guardian to fall in love with a human. What would happen if this angelic being discovered she would rather be human, and battle the forces of good and evil in the human world, rather than in the vanilla world of Heaven? That her higher calling was, in fact, amongst the human population, and not the angelic realm.
And of course, what would it feel like for an angel to fall in love?
After our house was destroyed, my husband and I spent about 8 months in temporary quarters, first in a motel, and later in a small one bedroom apartment. Everything about my life changed after the fire. Almost everything I valued materially was destroyed.
But what came in their place were the angels and the angel stories. And though my possessions are gone forever, these stories will live long after I'm no longer here. They were a gift. And for that, I am eternally grateful.
Welcome author J.D. Brown! We are celebrating the new release of her second book, Trace of Passion.
Movies, TV shows, and fiction are entertaining because they stretch reality.
We're willing to suspend belief for a while to go on an adventure in a place
where magic can happen, where the hero always gets the girl, where true,
unconditional love exists.
Wikipedia calls Love
at First Sight “one of the most powerful tropes in Western
fiction”. Its popularity spans the ages, back to Classical Greek and Roman
How many of you believe in love at first sight in real life? Or in soul
mates? You might like to think it's possible. You might even know someone who
seemed to find true love with the first person they ever dated. I know a couple
people like that. My uncle proposed to his wife on their second date. One of my
close friends from high school married a boy she met in kindergarten. They
remained close through the years despite him moving to a different country with
his family when he was young. They got married soon after she graduated and
have four beautiful daughters now. And my uncle? He and my aunt are still
So I know it's possible. And I know we all love to believe it can be
possible for us too, even if only in a book.
But how realistic is it, really, for two strangers to meet and fall
instantly, deeply, and unconditionally in love to the point that they would
sacrifice themselves without question for the others' happiness? We don't
really think about it because fans of romance want to read about that kind of
devotion. But in truth, most of you probably put aside some amount of
believability to allow yourself to be satisfied by the hero and heroine's
passion. Because really, you could think “Oh my god, that is so FAKE.
Real men don't act like THAT. If this was a reality show, he'd probably only be
dating her for her money.” But we don't think like that when we read a
romance. Instead we think “Awww! I wish men really did THAT, that is so
Like the movie Titanic.
Woman watched that movie over and over when it first came out and it was all
because of Leo's character. Meanwhile, our boyfriends and husbands wished ill
things on the movie's producer.
In real life, most of us experience “lust” at first sight, which
sometimes then grows into passion. But it's almost never perfect. It's almost
always difficult. Sometimes it ends badly. Few times it ends really well.
Authors are often told to write what we know, to write believable stories with
believable characters and believable motivation. Which is what prompted this
post. As a romance writer, I have a difficult time making two strangers fall in
love. I don't think it's believable. It's definitely not very realistic. And I
refuse to write a story that I don't believe in. So, I make my characters work
on their relationship.
And you know what? It works for me. It's like the novel The Notebook. Allie rejects
Noah over and over until he is forced to trick her into going out with him.
Allie didn't instantly love Noah. He had to work for his chance with her, and
their relationship grew from there. Noah's character scores points with the
audience for being so deliciously clever in his attempts. We even like it when
Noah and Allie fight because it's real.
In my first erotic romance story, A Trace of Love, I poke fun at my
own beliefs in romance. Trace Curtis, the hero, is convinced his feelings for
Ophelia are true, but she doesn’t think it’s possible after only one night. The
story ends with Trace and his band leaving for their next gig and Ophelia’s
missed out on a second shot at love.
In the newly released sequel, A Trace of Passion, Trace is back in town and demands an explanation from the only
woman to ever reject him. What he thinks was payback is actually the cover for
a darker truth and neither Trace nor Ophelia are sure their love for one
another can survive Ophelia’s reality.
So not fair, Danielle. Whew! This book sounds hot and I can't wait to read more about Trace and Ophelia. No. She shouldn't fight him anymore.
Danielle Ravencraft graduated from the International Academy of Design and Technology with a Bachelor Degree in Fine Arts. She currently lives in Wisconsin with her two Pomeranians. Growing up in the suburbs of Chicago, her writing is influenced by the multicultural urban society of her youth which she continues to visit each summer. Danielle enjoys writing sensual romance exclusively for a female audience. She also writes mainstream paranormal romance and urban fantasy under the nameJ. D. Brown.
Contact Danielle Ravencraft vial email at email@example.com
You can also follow Danielle Ravencraft around the web via:
I've been fortunate to live in California, where I get to belong to three RWA chapters. One of my sisters from the Silicon Valley RWA Chapter is Hannah Jayne, author of Urban Fantasy/Romantic Suspense.
In Under Wraps, she had me chuckling on the first page (a dragon with nail polish?) and didn't let me go until the end.
I've excerpted an answer to an interview question I recently asked her.
SH: Hannah, tell us about the world building you do. Where the heck do you get all your great characters and ideas?
HJ: Well, I don't feel like I have to do a lot of world building — my backyard is San Francisco, California — one of the most paranormal places on Earth! I remember looking out the window one day and seeing a leather-clad dominatrix walking a leashed Santa Claus into the library. In July. So, I don't think a handful of tattooed pixies, blue cheese smelling trolls, or fashionista vampires rolling down Market Street is all that far fetched. As for my ideas? Thankfully, I rarely have to go “get” them — they're always coming to me! I'm naturally inquisitive (or maybe it's paranoid?) and I'm completely fascinated by why things happen or better yet, how those happenings affect people. I've always been a big “what if”-er, and that helps. And keeps me up at night…
Here's the blurb on her latest book, Under Attack:
Sophie Lawson is a human immune to magic, which comes in handy for helping paranormal beings transition into everyday life. But fallen angel Alex Grace and his search for the Vessel of Souls is one curse she never saw coming. Suddenly an unexplainable string of killings and destruction has even San Francisco's demons fearing for their immortal lives. And Sophie isn't about to trust Alex's all-too-vulnerable charm or his secret agenda. Now their hunt is revealing dangerous secrets about Sophie's past, and malevolent power hellishly close to turning one irreverent human into the ultimate supernatural weapon.
2011 Has been a good year.
But then, I say that every year. We either get lessons, or we are blessed with abundance. Or we get both. I think 2011 was one of those.
One of the things I want to do more this year is just accept what is. I've been the director all my life, raising children, running two successful businesses, now my venturing into writing. Funny how I have to do the same things to be successful in each world.
Kristen Lamb once blogged that sharp pointy people are like diamonds that polish us into the jewels we all are. That post gave me clarity, and hope, that I could see some of the circumstances that may or may not have been in my full control, had turned out to be priceless in the end. Almost like I developed a Teflon exterior. If it hurts, it will make me better. Some day.
I've been fortunate to run across some fans and readers who love my words. Can't tell you what a joy that is. They aren't in the thousands, yet. But they are growing. And the emails I've gotten have helped sustain me during the darkest of the nights of my year.
I've met new friends. I've disassociated with people who made me feel bad. Good friends have shown me their worth, their value. False friends have fallen off my radar. I feel relieved of the burden of having to hold my tongue, or wondering if I was doing the right thing. I've learned that I am enough, I have enough, I do enough, just the way I am. With a little help from my friends, I have healed some of the turmoil in my gut, and come to accept that the world is really a pretty darned nice place, and I'm lucky enough to live in a tiny slice of Heaven.
My first words were wonderful, giving me a depth of emotions I'd never worked before, but they were an escape to a world of my own making. Now that I have written almost 6 books, in 2011 the characters began to speak to me as old friends, coming back over and over again, inspiring me. The stories have taken on a life of their own. Now when I read them, I learn things I didn't know I'd written. Amazing. Just simply amazing. Yesterday I was looking for something in one of my Guardian books, and actually got sucked into it. Had been about 4 months, and I actually almost couldn't put it down. It was a pleasant surprise.
In 2011 I've gotten over some sensitivity toward the steamy books I write. I do believe sex is good for people, and should be enjoyed a lot and often. One of my beta readers said she was going to read with her husband, taking turns. I thought that was a superb idea. Could one of my love stories actually help a couple become more close? Trained in psychology and wanting to be a marriage and family therapist at one time, I used these techniques in dealing with clients during my successful real estate career. Now can I do the same with my author platform?
This past year, there are lots of people who make me laugh, who are fun to play with and have given me advice I shall cherish and use every day. Tina Folsom has helped me get over myself (well, not always) and get stuff posted, though I have a fear of these computer things. Bella Andre has helped my confidence as a writer. Same for Virna DePaul. Early on, my first meetings with the San Francisco chapter of RWA, and meeting its president, Sophie Littlefield, I knew I had joined the right group. Rachel Herron and her writing journey has inspired me. Darynda Jones, so free with her kind and careful advice. Hannah Schwartz, Marina Chappie, Margie Lawson, Brenda Novak–all these people are like little guardian angels, coming along at just the right time. The first time Veronica Wolff said, “this is hot stuff and you can take that to the bank,” made me write day and night for about a month straight. And who can deny the inspiration Jimmy Thomas brings wearing anything, or even in his birthday suit.
My critique buddies: Shane, Arletta, Kent, Robin and Ronn, as well as Pam, have been gentle, but firm. When I hear, “you can do better” I know to trust that comment. I thank Tina and Grace and Virna for some early reads of my very rough stuff and not throwing up. To Julia Rachel Barrett for making me laugh and being there at a particularly challenging time last year. My goals group, going on about 2 years now: Delilah, Carly, Myla, Riley, Sidney and Susan have been important in questioning what I did and why, and helping me make it specific and measurable. My fellow bloggers at Ravencraft Romance: Danielle Ravencraft, Kay Dee Royal, Charlene Wilson, Deanna Jewel, Marsha Moore, and Bri Clark have helped me grow as a writer, and push me to keep my butt in the chair and churn out the words every week!
There are others.
With so much talent and wind behind my sails, how can I not have a great 2012. Because, I am truly not alone in this journey.
I released Honeymoon Bite this week. So proud and happy with this new character in a new series for me: Marcus Monteleone, a golden vampire from Tuscany.
Of course, as he always does, Jimmy Thomas is the nicest thing about my cover. As we speak, I'm working on the second book in this series and should have it done early 2012.
So, why not start 2012 out right, and take a bite out of your TBR pile as well as your favorite lover? Pick up a copy of Honeymoon Bite, and enjoy the meal.
One of the other things I'm thankful for is that she appreciates coming home. Home looks different now. It couldn't warm a mother's heart more.
There are a lot of Indie authors who have a backlist of published works they now own the rights for. Their Indie success is due in part to this backlist, and the fan base they accumulated over sometimes many years. I am glad that they have been able to benefit from all that past work.
But what makes Tina so unusual is that she is unagented, and unsigned with a publishing house. No backlist. She writes a darned good book. And continues to do so.
So when Tina does something, I pay attention. Just looking at what she has done in 18 months gives me hope. And the secret seems to be to write a lot of good books and get them out there for the public to enjoy.
Here's her new marketing idea:
She is having a drawing for a new Kindle Fire. In less than 2 days, she has added almost 500 new followers to her Facebook Fanpage.
There are a lot of things I want for Christmas. Getting a Kindle Fire would be one of them. But I honestly have to say the greatest gift for me during the holidays is the knowledge that some of my friends are having huge success in their publishing journey. Because if they can do it, so can I.
I hope we all win, in more ways than I can count.
My son won a motorcycle by buying a raffle ticket recently, benefitting the Calistoga Fire Department. This was a totally unexpected windfall for him, and was such a cool machine – set up for doing all the off-road stuff guys like to do. 2-wheel drive. It looks like tons of fun.
He asked his mama to tag along, and of course I couldn't resist a visit to the Calistoga Fire Department for a little research. Firemen are a class act, in my opinion. No wonder why so many romance writers like to use them as hunky heroes in their stories. These guys didn't disappoint. And the timing was perfect, in that I had hosted Dating 911 author Kathleen Grieve, on Wednesday.
They have a museum of sorts out front with not only a vintage truck with all its equipment, but old resuscitators, and a medical triage setup nearly 100 years old. I have never seen such a spotless station house.
I'm sure I'm not the only romance writer they have spoken to, or posed with for pictures. I told them about my writing sprints with Bella Andre in Sonoma, and what happens when the local fire crew enters Starbucks. We are like worse than high schoolers. Our fingers speed up and we blush a lot and just say ridiculous things I hope no one else notices.
It's not just the uniform, but the symbol of being the hero, rescuing people from distress, that women love. They are quiet and respectful, like my SEAL friends.
We loaded up the bike, thanked them, posed for pictures, bought a red Calistoga Fire Department T-shirt, stopped at Buster's on the way out for a coffee with an add shot, and played funky music all the way over the hill to Santa Rosa. It was a good day and a nice chance to spend some time with my son – who still, at 35, likes to be with his mama!
Thanks to all the firefighters out there for all that they do to protect us. So we can have a carefree afternoon, enjoying the beautiful countryside, and the warmth of family. That's what life is all about.