Wednesday, December 28, 2011
Family coming in from out of town, so I'm off to catch up on things. Setting priorities is always something I worry about. However, family is near the top if not at the top of the priority list. So I'm going to practice what I preach and put some things on hold in order to take care of other things.
Sometimes you have 10 lbs of potatoes and only a five pound bag. Priorities help you to decide which potatoes need to go into the bag. I'll discuss this in two weeks as well. In the meantime everyone have a Happy New Year.
Next week I plan on posting about new years resolutions, and the week after that weekly goals.
Have a prosperous and happy new year in 2012.
Thursday, December 22, 2011
Mid range goals are the mile markers of success. They are the points along your journey that help complete those long range goals. Remember the five year plan? These are the intermediate goals, the mile marker, the big goals that help you make the bigger goal.
So you've set up the long range goal. Get a degree, build a house, write a novel, retire, to name a few. There are major things that must be done to complete the larger goal. Loan for a home, or get accepted into a university or collage. Find a publisher. These things are not hard to do, they just take some time, some planning, some down time to think through.
A lot of people fail at their goals, not because the goal isn't worthy, they just don't take the time to plan out how they will complete the goal. Busy life make for a hard time to set goals and map out a plan to make it. Successful people are those that do the things that other people don't want to do.
So lets start with a dream. Say a dancer wants to own her own dance studio. She is good at dancing. So her five year plan is:
I own my own successful dance studio.
Now what will it take to have a dance studio?
Some business savvy perhaps?
So the midterm goals could be:
Get a business degree.
become a dance teacher
So our dancer needs to research business and dance schools. She is talented and does well, so she gets a job as a dance teacher. She can learn how to do the work, but the collage classes will teach her what she will need to do to be a successful business owner.
She will need to find a school that will work for her. Learn what needs to happen to be accepted into the school. Earn money for tuition.
So her list of things for midterm goals would be:
I have a job that will allow me to go to school.
I am accepted into business school
I make great grades.
I have a realtor.
So as she completes the things needed she is getting closer to her big goal, having her own successful dance studio. So that is why a dancer is in an economics class.
She will need to write a business proposal for the bank to get a loan.
She will need a realtor to help her find a suitable building, or a builder to build a custom studio.
As you stop and think of things the list can grow and seem daunting. Don't let it stop you. That dream, that goal can be achieved. Take the time to plan, set up the mid term goals and deadlines for key things to happen.
So what do you want to do? What will you need to do to get there?
This seems simple enough, and obvious, but a lot of people do not take the time to do this simple part. Set up the mile markers for your journey to complete the five year plan. Research and figure out what it will take to get to be where you want to be. Then get out there and do it!
Tuesday, December 20, 2011
"Hold fast to time! Use it! Be conscious of each day, each hour! They slip away unnoticed all too easily and swiftly."Thomas Mann, novelist
Life can be very stressful. So can work. But often times people create (or at least tolerate) more stress than is necessary due to their unrealistic expectations and processes.
For example, people often say such things as: "I can't wait until our new product is launched ... I can't wait until the kids get back to school ... or ... I can't wait until Christmas." Somehow they think when that new product is launched, when the kids get back to school, or when Christmas is finally here, they'll have less stress in their lives. But it's probably not going to happen ... IF they don't have the skills and strategies to bring it about.
Considering this is the holiday season, I think there are three techniques that are especially appropriate and useful.
1. Decrease your wants.
If you look at the origins of most holidays, you'll find that most of them have some deep emotional, relational, or spiritual meaning. Thanksgiving, for example, is an emotional holiday; it's all about taking the time to feel and express your gratitude. Valentine's Day, Mother's Day, and Father's Day are relational holidays; they're all about communicating your love to those who mean the most to you.
Unfortunately, the original meanings of many holidays have been buried under a mountain of commercialism that puts the emphasis on "stuff." We're told by advertisers that if we just spent more money on "stuff" during these holidays we'd all be a lot happier.
The problem is ... there's little or no evidence to support that. The supposed connection between how much you have and how happy you feel just isn't there.
Talk to anyone who has spent time on a mission trip or a humanitarian venture. Ask them what they noticed about the people in some remote village, and you'll hear them comment on how happy the people were. The people they were helping had almost nothing in terms of "stuff," but they seemed to have more joy than the well-to-do folks back home.
Somehow or other, the least stressed people have broken their bondage to "stuff." They don't need the biggest, best, and newest of everything to be happy.
That's why I recommend Donald Horban's strategy of "decreasing your wants" during this holiday season ... where the overwhelming emphasis is on "stuff." Horban says, "We don't need to increase our goods as nearly as much as we need to scale down our wants. Not wanting something is as good as possessing it." As soon as you do that, you will experience an immediate increase in your contentment, satisfaction, and peace of mind at home and at work.
As changes come faster and faster, as more and more tasks are added to our schedules, it's only natural to speed up in hopes of keeping up. But that seldom works. More often than not, speed does little more than increase our stress and decrease the quality of our life and work.
Such was the case with one carpet layer who rushed through his job. When he finished his work, he stepped back to give it a final look. While looking, he reached into his pocket for his cigarettes and realized his pack was missing. At the same time, he noticed a lump under the carpet, in the middle of the room, about the size of his missing packet of cigarettes. Frustrated with his hasty job, the carpet layer realized he was in a predicament. There was no way he could retrieve his cigarette pack without ripping everything up and starting over.
So he decided to beat the object flat, thereby destroying any evidence of his mistake. Satisfied with the outcome, he picked up his tools, loaded his truck and couldn't believe his eyes. There on the seat of the truck was his missing pack of cigarettes. At the same moment, the homeowner's voice broke his disbelief by asking, "Hey, have you seen my gerbil?"
The carpet layer tried to reduce his stress by speeding up, but his speed led to mistakes and even more stress. And chances are, you've done the same thing. So take comedian Lily Tomlin's advice seriously. She says, "For fast-acting relief, try slowing down."
I know I had to learn that. For years, I was guilty of taking my family on rushed, hurry-up, hurry-up vacations. I would rush the family to a particular site, stay a couple of minutes, take a couple of pictures, get back in the car, and rush off to the next site and the next photo opportunity. I would herd the family around that way for a few days, and then I'd rush them home to develop our pictures and look at our vacation.
No wonder our vacation were exhausting and stressful. I had lost sight of the very purpose of the vacation by speeding my way through it. I needed to change and eventually did when I learned another stress-management technique from another comedian, Eddie Cantor. He wisely observed, "It's not only the scenery you miss going too fast, you also miss the sense of where you are going and why."
Do you need to slow down once in a while? Probably so. And would you enjoy the holidays more if you slowed things down a bit? Absolutely.
I know one yard worker would have enjoyed his job a great deal more if he had just slowed down. As Arnie Kunz tells the story, a woman hired two men to do some yard work. The day they came, she was giving a bridge party. During the afternoon, a guest looked out the window to see one man raking and the other performing majestic leaps and spirals in the air. "Hey, look at that," she said to her friends.
"What a wonderful gymnast," remarked another lady. "I'd pay him a hundred dollars to perform for our aerobics class."
The hostess opened the door and asked the fellow raking if he thought his friend would like the job. So he hollered to his partner, "Hey, Fred, do think for a hundred dollars you could step on that rake one more time?"
The point is simple. Too much speed turns into too much stress. The good news is ... YOU HAVE SOME CONTROL over the speed at which you live your life. Perhaps it's time you exercised some of that control.
Finally, in your quest to manage or eliminate your stress, especially during the holidays,
3. Give it to your Higher Power.
As I mentioned above, most holidays have an emotional, relational, or spiritual origin and meaning. And few holidays if any have more spiritual meaning than Christmas and New Year's Day. These two holidays say there is "something bigger" and more important in the world than me and my fears.
Of course, that "something bigger" is defined differently by different people. Some call it "God" while others call it their "Higher Power." Some call it "inner wisdom" and still others refer to their "guiding spirit."
I'm not here to argue theology with you, but I do know that millions of people have found incredible release from their stresses by giving their stresses to their so-called "Higher Power." That's why I liked the "Memo From God" sent to me by my friend and colleague Kathy Brown. The memo went as follows:
FROM: The Boss
SUBJECT: Your life
I am God. Today I will be handling all of your problems. Please remember that I do not need your help. If life happens to deliver a situation to you that you cannot handle, do not attempt to resolve it. Kindly put it in the SFGTD (something for God to do) box. It will be addressed in My time, not yours. Once the matter is placed into the box, do not hold on to it.
- If you find yourself stuck in traffic, don't despair. There are people in this world for whom driving is an unheard privilege.
- Should you have a bad day at work, think of the man who has been out of work for years.
- Should you despair over a relationship gone bad, think of the person who has never known what it's like to love and be loved in return.
- Should you grieve the passing of another weekend, think of the woman in dire straits, working twelve hours a day, seven days a week to feed her children.
- Should your car break down, leaving you miles away from assistance, think of the paraplegic who would love the opportunity to take that walk.
- Should you notice a new gray hair in the mirror, think of the cancer patient in chemo who wishes she had hair to examine.
- Should you find yourself at a loss, pondering what life is all about, asking what is your purpose, be thankful. There are those who didn't live long enough to even get the chance to think about it.
- Should you find yourself the victim of other people's bitterness, ignorance, smallness or insecurities, remember things could be worse. You could be one of those people!
Stress is not a disease you catch. Stress is the result of the choices you make.
This holiday season, make new choices. Make better choices. Choose to decrease your wants, decrease your speed, and give it your Higher Power. You will see the stress in your life and your work go away.
Which of the three stress-reducing choices will you make this week? How will you start? How will you keep it up?
2011 Reprinted with permission from Dr. Alan Zimmerman, a full-time professional speaker who specializes in attitude, motivation, and leadership programs that pay off.
Thursday, December 15, 2011
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
What is the status of your manuscript?
‘Unparallel Worlds’, is currently being edited, so I hope to have a release date and book cover by the middle of November 2011. I will then upload ‘Unparallel Worlds’ to Kindle at Amazon, Goodreads and Smashwords.
The story will be written over three books. The first release is supernatural fantasy fiction, which is called ‘Unparallel Worlds’, the second book of the series will be urban fantasy (no name as yet), the third and final book in the series will return to fantasy.
Did you use any beta readers?
Yes, but these were mainly friends and family who graduated in Arts& Literature. Although it’s a well-known fact that you can’t really rely on family and friends feedback to be honest and critical…but…I can assure you that before publishing every opinion counts. Here are a couple of quotes from established authors, which made me realise how important it is to have support from friends and family:
Neil Gaiman in ‘NeVerwhere’ acknowledged his appreciation for Lenny Henry, friend and colleague, ‘Who made it happen all the way…’
Alan Campbell in ‘Scar Night’ dedicated his first novel to his Dad, ‘Who has never failed to do everything he could to achieve my dreams and ambitions…’
And ,finally, Cassandra Clare in the ‘Mortal Instruments’ said ‘How quickly the whole thing would sink…if you didn’t have the help of your friends…’
But, please don’t get me wrong beta readers are important. You can ask for help on your own blog, website even on Facebook. Good luck
Do you have any critique partners?
Not at the moment. I’m about to register on a free site called ‘Critique Circle’.
I’ve found a very useful ‘Kindle Boards Community Centre’ where you can always turn for an advice, suggestions and comments.
Or you can join the clubs on Goodreads.com where a lot of people are ready to help.
TRUST is the key to accepting criticism on these types of forum.
Are you self- editing, or did you hire a copywriter to edit your manuscript?
I felt that I needed to hire an editor. The thing is ‘THE FINAL STEP’ is a very challenging and time-consuming process. The novel is completed and you immediately want to tell the world about it. However, a fresh perspective from outside your bubble is very beneficial before you embark on the journey of publishing.
Why self publish?
As a first time author, in order to get the debut noticed I think it’s very important to try out different channels to get as much exposure as possible.
Did you think about getting an agent and publishing the traditional way with a book publisher?
In an ideal world this would be the easiest way to publish, attracting interest via the traditional route is a battle in itself. This is my first novel, it is at this stage, easier to go down the self- publishing route as at least the book will be out there and available for people to read.
When do you write?
I would love so much to spend all my time writing. This has become my passion, my release, I mainly write during the night through to dawn sometimes seven days a week dependent on inspiration.
How do you balance your life?
It’s very hard at the moment to balance life, but you manage, I have three great passions, my toddler, a very supportive husband and of course writing. So with a lot of juggling all three can be nurtured.
Any advice for other writers?
I myself, take great inspiration from the author P.J. Hafner who once said ‘Get from "Aspiring" to "Published and Selling" as soon as you can, make sure there are no typo's, etc, then get the next book started, and do the same with that one. Numerous titles from an author can find a readership like nothing else.’
On top of this, ignore writer's block...and never pay for advertising. I would instead suggest frequenting sites such as Kindle Boards, and to make a bunch of Listmanias on Amazon, which relate to your book, once your title appears on Amazon.’’
What do you attribute to your success?
Experiences in my life, visiting beautiful places around the world and my imagination
I put a brief synopsis of my book on Facebook (‘page ‘Unparallel Worlds’) and once the book is out I will put a brief video on YouTube. Please check my website Unparallel Worlds and you can find me on Twitter: @granuk or Facebook or Goodreads
- Alisa Jeruconoka!
book cover copy-write 2011 used by permission
Thursday, December 8, 2011
Well it was worth wait, here is what he put together for us. Thanks for taking the opportunity to share with all of us here, Robert.
"FINDING TIME" TO WRITE!
I've read advice by some seasoned writers who advise disciplining yourself to write a certain number of hours each day, or turn out a certain number of words each session. If that works for them, that's great. I know that approach would not work for me.
My problem is, I have never had time to write. I don't live a leisurely life where I can sit for hours at the computer crafting beautiful stories. In my "day job" I'm a conference speaker and dean of a graduate school. I also spend a lot of my time traveling.
For most of my adult life, a typical work week has been 70 or 80 hours. Every week! And there's always been more to do than I have time to accomplish.
I'm not complaining. I love what I do! I teach, I travel, and I speak. But it's a very demanding career.
Yet I've also had a strong urge to write. I always seem to have 4-5 books simmering on the back burner of my mind, just waiting for the time they can make their escape onto a printed page.
My first non-fiction book was written on vacation. The book had been burning inside me for months. So while my wife and kids relaxed and visited with family and friends, I sat with laptop open, writing.
My second book found its way to paper while I was stranded for two weeks on the Island of Cyprus, waiting for a kidney stone to pass (not a fun experience!) I didn't even have a laptop along, so I sat on the terrace of our friends' home, overlooking the beautiful Troodos mountains of Cyprus, typing my book on a PDA (remember those?) using a portable fold-up keyboard! (Turned out to be one of my best sellers!)
For me, writing always has had a pregnancy aspect. I have a book on the inside and it's growing and developing, looking for a time it can be birthed. And when that time finally comes, there's no holding it back.
Because of that, I find it hard to relate to statements from writers who have to discipline themselves to write a certain number of words a day. To me, writing is not a job or a chore. It's an all-consuming passion. It's not a task I must remember to do, like cutting the grass and cleaning the garage. The book growing within me becomes a living thing, demanding to be expressed on paper, threatening to explode if I don't let it out.
Let me share how I wrote Iona Portal, my first fiction book. Iona Portal is a Science Fiction thriller that views the ancient battle between good and evil through the lens of Science Fiction. I like to think of it as Lord of the Rings meets The Matrix. (As of this writing, it's the top-rated science fiction book on Amazon, and rated #2 for mysteries and thrillers.)
At the start of the project, I had a vague idea of what the book would be about, but not a clue as to any details.
I started with the characters. I wrote a biography of each one, formed a mental picture of what each one looked like. I even scoured the internet to find photographs of people that matched my mental picture of each one.
These people became more than names on a page. I knew their strengths and weaknesses, their struggles and fears... even what their voices sounded like. I knew them so well, I'd be walking through an airport and see someone walking the other way and think... "She looks just like Lys Johnston!" In short, these characters became real people to me. I CARED what happened to them.
Stephen King once said, "I try to develop sympathy for my characters, then I turn the monsters loose!" That was my next step.
Once I had the characters, I let the action start. Iona Portal begins with a gripping scene where our strong female lead, Lys Johsnton, finds herself driving a narrow mountain road in the middle of the night pursued by two strangers with blood-lust in their eyes.
I wrote the first version of that chapter with no idea where the story was going. Lys Johnston was in a dire situation., but I cared about her, and willed her to survive.
In the next scene, I added the next character. The characters began to interact. Then, as the story progressed, the direction of the book became clear. More characters were added, and "the plot thickened!" How would these people manage to survive and save their world from disaster?
And so the story gripped me. It burned within me. I didn't have to schedule times to crank out words.
I'd often wake up at 3 in the morning with the next part of the story running through my mind. I'd get up, turn on gas logs in the fireplace, pour myself a coffee, then lean back in my recliner ... and write. I had no choice! Lys Johnston needed me! She had to find a way to overcome the armies of darkness and save the planet from destruction!!!
So that's my advice for time management for writers. Don't allow your writing to become a mechanical chore. Don't let it be a job or an obligation.
It has to be a passion! If the story doesn’t grip you enough to draw you back to write, how will it ever draw your readers back to read?
So, be excited about what you are doing. Be passionate. And the time to write will come.
Find more about Robert David MacNeil at his website, http://ionaportal.com/
Find Robert's book, Iona Portal at http://www.amazon.com/Iona-
Monday, December 5, 2011
Krista write Science Fiction and Fantasy. So stop by and visit her blog.
The rules of the award are to thank the person who gave it to you and link back to them. Check.
Pick some of your favorite blogs.
Here are five of my favorite blogs, in no particular order.
From the Write Angle A team of 14 very talented writers who came together to build this collective blog on all things writing. I've come to know several of them from AQC, and two of them have even been kind enough to do author interviews here on The Write Time. (I guess they'll have to vote on their favorite blog, or each contributor gets to pick his/her favorite blog!)
Utterances of an Overcrowded Mind by Paul Dorset. He has links from twitter to his blog, and I find myself reading his posts a lot He has great insight, and if you are doing the writing thing, you need to stop by his blog and see what things are about.
Yesternights Voyage by Joyce Alton. Joyce has a wonderful blog. She currently has 31 followers. She has some wonderful, thoughtful posts. Great links and jumping off points from her blog as well. She too is also over at AQC and runs the Speculative Fiction Forum. She does a lot of work and gives great feed back. Check out her blog, and sign up and become a follower. You'll be glad you did.
Questions and Archetypes A weekly writing blog from the mind of J.W. Troemner. She completed Nanowrimo. Need I say more? A dedicated writer with a wonderful ms she is closing in on publishing.
Ready, Write, Go, but I think it has been renamed Cherie Writes On the pursuit of writing (and happiness)...and other miscellanous writerly things. She too is another winner of the Nanowrimo. Congratulations Cherie. I think this is one blog award her blog has not received yet. Cherie was a great help when I was setting up my blog.
I like a bunch of other blogs, just check out the left hand side. There are several blogs I also like, but the writers are the contributors to from The Write Angle.
So there you have it. Several blogs I like, so enjoy your awards everyone -- and share the love.
Thursday, December 1, 2011
I opted not to participate this year. My plate was full enough, and trying to pound out 50 K in a month. Lets just say that wasn't a priority for me.
However, it did get me to thinking about setting goals. My writing friends have a lot of goals. They go with so many words a day on their stories, or so many minuets/hours of writing a day. When I use to run, I'd have goals of how far I would run, 3K or 6k or just a couple of miles.
Someone once said, "If you see a man on top of a mountain, he didn't just fall there." So accomplishments come because of goals.
There are three types of goals. Long range, mid range and short range. The goals may not look alike, but if used as a group great things can happen.
Remember Alice in Wonderland? Alice came to a fork in the road. The Cheshire cat was watching her from a tree. When questioned about where the roads went he asked Alice where she wanted to go. She didn't know, so any road would take her there.
Don't let the river of life just hurl you downstream. Have a plan, decide where you want to be and make a run for where you want to be. If not, you'll find yourself in places you never intended, or want to be in.
So take some time, it is December. January is just around the corner with all those new year's resolutions. Figure out what you want to accomplish in the next year, set those as your goals/resolutions. Then set out to do them everyday. If you can accomplish something you love to do each day your feelings of self confidence, and self worth will be fulfilled.
So where do you want to be a year from now? Five years from now? What do you need to change to start moving in the direction you want to go?