Tag Archives: encouragement

The Nasally Conundrum by J J Dare

A long time ago, I gave bad advice to someone. It only changed this person’s life for a blink, but it changed mine forever.

Over the years, I’ve talked to a few people about it and the general consensus was this person was going to veer in a different direction in life and what I had to say at the time was only a feathery nudge, not a full-fledged push. However, at the time it felt as if I was responsible for the course change.

As I grow older and a tiny bit wiser, I realize most people take advice in one ear and out the other. If my advice proves correct and they don’t act on it, I’ll sometimes get a “You were right” acknowledgment. Being right rarely makes me feel good for more than a few seconds.

Advice and encouragement are two different animals. Advice tends to deal with conflicting situations in a person’s life. Encouragement is the cheering squad after a person makes a decision. I like to be the cheerleader rather than the coach.

Advice relies on expertise in a field. I rebel somewhat when it comes to experts, even when I believe I am one. After all, what was correct one hundred years ago or even yesterday is not necessarily correct today.

In addition, individuals have different needs and goals. What works for one may not work for another. Expert advice should be tailored, but I imagine most experts would not take kindly to altering their cemented opinions for different people.

Encouragement is the after party. “You can do this” sounds so much better than “I told you so.” The planted seedling is sprouting and you get to be an attentive gardener. As an encourager, you are not directly responsible for the success of the plant. Victory or defeat is ultimately up to the plant.

I try not to give opinionated advice; I try to offer only suggestions. I’m glad to declare my children still listen to me, but they make their own decisions. My only expertise comes from the course of my own life. If someone looks at my history and can relate in a way that is helpful to them, I’m glad.

My history includes my adventures in writing. The cold fact remains that my writing is what it is. I can’t change how I tell a tale. Even when I write in different genres, my style bleeds through.

A while back, in half jest I told my publisher that I knew how to disappear and live under the grid. I’d learned how from all the research I’d done when writing my books. He told me that he’d know my writing style no matter what name I chose to write under.

The way we, the authors, write is unique to each of  us. In the immortal words of Popeye, “I yam what I yam.” So is everyone else no matter how much we want to change how they write or walk or eat or anything else.

Advice, suggestions and opinions, whether directed to me or coming from me, have merit. But, even when I put myself in another person’s shoes, I am not that person. There are too many unknown nuances and variables in individuals. The way I handle wanted and unwanted advice and opinions is to mix them all together like cake batter, put the mixture in a pan in the oven and bake it for the best.

So, my peoples, the moral to this tale is I fight the urge to give irrevocable opinions which end up making me sound like a nasally pompous ass. I’m working hard to be an ebb and flow counselor. I’m attempting to overcome the part of human nature that wants the accolades due for correctly telling the future of another.

In honor of my live and let live attitude today, I feel the need to let my hippy side loose for a quick second:

Don’t let your own self-righteousness drag you down.

Fly a little freer and lighten the heavy load of your opinion.

Right on, man. Right on.

J J Dare is the author of two published books, several short stories and triple digit works-in-progress.

Current enthusiasm is sharpening intangible knives and co-authoring at Rubicon Ranch

Facebook addiction

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Sometimes Publicity Just Happens by Coco Ihle

My first mystery novel, SHE HAD TO KNOW, was published last April. Authors are told we have to start publicity for our books well in advance of the publication date. That includes setting up a website, blog (either our own or lining up guest spots and making comments on other blogs), starting a Facebook page, and maybe a Twitter account. We are encouraged to attend conferences and conventions that will be beneficial in networking and sales. Library talks and civic organizational events are also helpful in our quest to become known. Sometimes businesses that connect with our books can be tools for promotion. The more creative we become in getting our names out there, the more chances we have for future sales.

I was an avid reader long before I became a writer, so I had already made many connections by being a fan. For ten years before my novel came out, I attended various mystery conventions and made quite a few author friends who generously offered suggestions and encouragement.

My first mystery writers’ group in Alabama was active in Sisters in Crime. The SinC meetings we had were smaller than the normal big conventions, thus I was able to meet authors in a more intimate setting, which gave me more time to ask them, one on one, about their work and experiences. I can’t say enough about the benefits of smaller writer events for beginners, especially. They help us gain confidence as we learn that authors, famous and not so famous, all go through the same trials and tribulations with which we are struggling. We soon discover that getting published doesn’t just happen magically, but by having a good support system, a willingness to work diligently, persistence in taking all the steps necessary,we do have a chance.

Getting recognition once your book is out can be another challenge. My book is not  considered a mainstream mystery, meaning it doesn’t quite fit into some of the genre subtitles like, cozy or thriller. It is a traditional mystery and has been described as a book with a Gothic feel. That classification has been good, because it’s descriptive, but it also has been somewhat at odds with the kind of material that is usually reviewed. Word-of-mouth has been my greatest aid in getting results for sales for both the trade paperback and e-book, so far. That word-of-mouth has come from readers who liked my book, through the DorothyL Digest, Facebook contacts, my publisher’s blog, my agent’s blog and other bloggers. But trying to get reviews (other than two wonderful blurbs on the back of my book from Vicki Lane and Lillian Stewart Carl), has proved to be elusive.

With that said, imagine my surprise when I got an e-mail from Rosa St. Claire, book reviewer for the Miami Examiner requesting an ARC (advanced reader’s copy) of my book. I can’t remember exactly where she found me, but she was fascinated about my life’s story and wanted to read my writing. I sent my book to her along with some other information she requested. To be truthful, I was so busy, I kind of forgot about it. Then on January 1, 2012, Ms. St. Claire sent me a message to check out my Facebook page. There, in all its glory, was her article about her favorite twelve fiction books of 2011 and a list of nine special recommendations. Some of my favorite authors were on that top 12 list. Reading on, I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw my book listed in the special recommendations. After all, I’m a first-time novelist. Here I was sitting among such greats as Sue Grafton, Tess Gerritsen, Mary Higgins Clark, Carol Higgins Clark, Michael Connelly and Kaye George. (Now I want to read the other authors on these lists, whose work I’m not familiar.) What a thrill it was! Especially, since I was dealing with the sadness of the deaths of three friends and my thirteen-year-old kitty, right after Christmas. How I needed something cheerful. It really helped.

If you would like to see Ms. St. Claire’s list, you may go to:

http://www.examiner.com/books-in-miami/top-12-books-of-2011

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Filed under books, fiction, internet, musings, writing

Patting Your Back

Encouragement goes a long way when you are a writer. No matter where it comes from, it is the fuel that keeps you going – especially, when you sink into a writer’s funk.

I’m just now climbing out of that funk after family commitments and a serious illness set me back a few months. In my mind, I felt I had lost touch with the writer inside of me. That is a horrible feeling for someone who is in love with writing.

This week, a friend of mine who has a very popular celebrity gossip site endorsed my book. In a few personal emails, she told me how proud she was of me. This is coming from someone I have only known over the Internet, someone who has yet to read my book, but her words were just what I needed to hear.

My family and close friends always ask about my writing and they are all very supportive. But, to have a person who does not know you personally to pat you on the back is totally different. Since they do not have a personal stake in you, this type of support is special.

Not that my family and friends’ support is not crucial. Without it, my writing would have slowed down and become a hobby instead of a life choice. They are the core of my support group; they sustain and maintain me.

Cynics will always be around. There will always be a few people who criticize and brutalize what you have written. No one can please everyone – it is just the way of the world.

Never give up. There are readers out there who will love what you write and will be hungry for more. That may be all the encouragement you need to complete your next great book.

Even though I may not know you, I want to say I am proud of you. Anyone who publishes what they have written is taking a chance – that is true bravery in our wonderful writing world.

J J Dare is the author of “False Positive” and “False World,”
the first two novels in the Joe Daniels’ trilogy

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My advice for anyone who says… “I want to write a book.”

 

Do it. Don’t talk about it. Don’t over-think the process. Sit down with a pen and paper or at your computer and see what happens.

Everyone must start somewhere and every book you’ve ever read started with one word. Which is probably not the first word you read when you buy it. That first spark in the back recesses of the author’s mind might not have ever made it as far as the first draft, but it still started there.

Then let that word grow into a sentence. Again, it doesn’t have to be perfect. Many times, I don’t even bother using commas, which is bad to admit, but normally the thought wants to flow out so badly that it takes too much time. That is what editing is for, after all.

Stick with it. Don’t just do thirty minutes once. Sit down every day and write or you might get stuck again for a week.

Join the Second Wind Authors this month on our NaNo page if you need a little push along the way.

 

 

 

Suzette Vaughn is the author of “Mortals, Gods, and a Muse” and “Badeaux Knights”

 

 

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