Thursday, April 19, 2018

Slow and Steady Wins the (Weight Loss) Race

I guess it's never too late for an old dog to learn some new tricks.

Case in point: Slow and steady wins the race.

Any other inane proverbs for this post? Let's wait and see!

Here's my 2010, I had a heart attack.

Following the heart attack, I lost about 50 pounds.

How did I do this?


I was freakin' scared out of my mind.

There is nothing quite like the fear of death to motivate you for a diet.

I worked out 2-4 hours/day. I hardly ate a thing. I was totally exhausted. I lost all of that weight very quickly.

I also spent my entire day focused on my diet and exercise.


At some point, I realized I was not going to die if I ate a cookie.

So, I ate a cookie. Then...I ate another cookie.

I continued to walk every day, but not for four hours.

I ate more foods, even cookies.

Eventually, I gained back some weight. Not all of the weight that I'd lost, but enough to make it imperative that I get back on the right track.

I realize that my super strict I-Don't-Want-To-Die diet was not sustainable in the long run. It was way too strict and too fast. 

But I like FAST and DRAMATIC results!

Drama! Excitement! Not working!
Now, for the grown-up realization...

Sometimes FAST and DRAMATIC is not the best way of doing things.

Sometimes, making small changes and being PATIENT is the best way.

And slowly, like a frickin' turtle, you will lose weight.

I'm not a patient person. I like fast, dramatic results. So this whole new approach to diet/exercise is torture!

But I realized something this week.

It's also working.

I lost 3 pounds. It took a while. I feel better.

I still walk every day, about 30 minutes-1 hour as time permits.

I still eat a lot of greens and super foods.

I try not to eat after 8 PM, and I try to eat a small appetizer-sized dinner if possible.

As the weather gets better, I will add an extra evening walk into my daily routine.

I will see results, but not overnight. 

Did I mention I'm not a patient person? Sob.

So, yes...this is working. 

And's slow-going.

And yes...I am not patient and it's hard for me.

But hopefully, in a year, I will be in a better physical place.




Slow down, honey. What's the hurry?

Off for my morning walk!



P.S. One last proverb...



Friday, April 13, 2018

Building a Community

Lucy the Wonder Weenie
Story Time
Tribe includes humans, animals, insects

Today I'm going to propose something radical.

A different way of looking at a writing/publishing career. 

Instead of focusing on SELLING BOOKS, how about focusing on BUILDING A COMMUNITY?

Over the past few years, the focus in romance publishing has become very business-oriented. I see cheat sheets for how to make a best-seller list. I see a frenzied sense of urgency about how often to publish, how much to spend on advertising and promotion, how important it is to jump on band-wagon trends.

I also see a focus on short-term sales and success and not the long-term. 

I see advice need to have readers' attention every three months or they forget about you. 

What if...they didn't forget about you?

Not because of your book release schedule...but because they genuinely like you?

How about that crazy idea?

Whoa. That's crazy!

Everything feels faster, and more stressful, and more urgent.

But what look at long-term happiness instead of short-term sales?

What if you focus on BUILDING A COMMUNITY instead of promoting your books all the time?

A community that will last. Not just readers looking for cheap/free books or the next deal. But a genuine community of people who are interested in YOU. Whether or not you have a book out. 

Maybe those people you interact with won't mind if you don't have a book out every 3 months. Maybe they'll just want to hang out with you and see pictures of your garden or dog or latest vacation. 

Maybe they like chatting with you about books by other authors.

Your community should include colleagues who are genuine friends and not just interested in tit-for-tat relationships. (What's that? This: I promote your book, you promote my book...otherwise, I'm not interested in having a relationship with you).

What would happen if you did this? Focused on your community first?


1. Set up for long-term success. Can weather the ups-and-downs of a long-term career.

2. It enhances your life regardless of publication schedule.

3. It is beneficial in both personal and professional ways.

BUILDING A COMMUNITY means you are focused on real relationships, not just selling books.

It improves not only the quality of your life, but it will also bolster your long-term career.

Your professional life will have ups and downs. Having a strong community to support you = resilience over time.

How can you build a genuine community? 

You need to assemble your tribe.

Our tribes should enhance our lives. We should be able to share things--both good and bad--and trust that our tribe members are loyal and have our best interests at heart.

Sometimes we want to share things that are silly and inconsequential. Like Tom Hiddleston pictures.
Having a good day?
And sometimes we need to talk about profoundly important things. Either way our tribe members keep us going, keep us inspired, keep our spirits up.

Your tribe will change over time, depending on what you need, and what you can give. You may need to edit your community.

You gather around the tribe you need, the tribe that feels right. The tribe that fits.

Writing is a lonely occupation. There is a lot of isolation. It feels like swimming in shark-infested waters, and that's when having your tribe is the most important.

They throw you the life raft when you need it most.
Don't worry. You got this!
Younger writers are thinking about the here-and-now and the latest news and the latest trends.

Authors who have been in this business for decades have seen trends come and go, but they realize your longevity has to do with other things.

Good basic writing. An excellent story. Luck.

And...personal connections. Your tribe. Your community.

There is really no down-side to building a community. It's there when you have a book out. It's there when you have writer's block.

It's there when your fig tree finally gets a fruit!

Figs for dinner!
It's there for the long-run. 

If you work on building your community and maintaining those relationships, your life will be better regardless of book sales.

And that's a good thing.

So very appreciative of my posse/tribe/community,


Monday, April 9, 2018

Embracing Real Life

Recently, one of my friends asked--on Facebook--if it were possible to promote a book without social media.

This led to a lively discussion about promotion and how readers find out about books.

I pointed out that the majority of my friends--who are all big readers--do not even have a Facebook account. They don't use Twitter or Instagram. Nothing. They are too busy living their real lives and/or not interested in social media interactions.

But they read a lot. How do they find their books?

Number one by a long shot: Word-of-mouth. 

In effect, real life interactions, not on-line.

I think the idea of not having any social media accounts is absolutely shocking to most of my writer friends. Most authors I know rely heavily on their on-line presence for promotion, as well as support and news. We just assume that everyone lives like this. But they don't. And in fact, most people are totally clueless about all the melodrama we take for granted in the publishing world.

My interest in this topic is broader than book promotion. It ties into my research about "how to find your happy" and the notion that many people who spend a lot of time on social media are NOT happy. They are anxious and depressed. Is there a connection?

Of course there is.

Is there a way to pull the good stuff out of social media and minimize the bad stuff?

It's possible, but sometimes difficult. I have deleted almost all accounts, but I still have Facebook. I have a wonderful tribe there, and I am reluctant to give it up. This tribe includes friends, family, readers, colleagues. People who genuinely care about each other.

By muting/unfollowing/blocking, it is possible to curate your accounts into something positive and uplifting instead of something that makes you want to fling yourself off a bridge when you read it.

However, I will say this. I have made a concerted effort this year to live a REAL life, and minimize my on-line life, and it is most definitely making me happier.

I am giving workshops to schools, writing groups, and at conferences. Traveling all over the place. Taking classes. Forcing myself out of that warm cozy introvert space and connecting with people in real life.

This is both wonderful and exhausting, but I'm forcing myself to do it.

Being engaged in the real world is helping my peace-of-mind, but how does it affect a writing career?

In my opinion, it comes down to this...who is your audience? How can you connect with them?

If you have a younger audience, they are more likely to be on-line. If you have a more mature audience, like my friends, they will probably find out about their books from friends, book clubs, or perusing a book store.

I know authors who give talks at libraries, at book clubs, local events. They are more interested in making personal connections within the community, and hoping to start a word-of-mouth campaign in this manner.

I know authors who have huge on-line street teams that work for certain kinds of books and certain audiences.

You need to figure out how to connect with your readers, and to be honest about what makes you happy.

If you are miserable doing Facebook parties, avoid them. 

If you are too shy to give a talk at the local library, skip that.

You need to find a way to conduct your career that intersects with your own personal happiness. 

Another way to think about this whole thing...will I sell books by taking a long walk in the woods?


Will I be happier?


And...trickle-down effect: I write better when I'm happier. I also get inspired about writing topics when I'm walking in the woods. More inspiration: travel, meeting people, leaving the house (hee hee, that's a joke, but not really).

We might not always see the connection between living in the moment/being engaged in real life and our writing careers, but it's there.

Off for my walk,