Elizabeth: Follow-Through

Bowdoin College Athletics, Bowdoin College, Brunswick, Maine, Brian Beard – CIP

Early on in my career I spent a year or so as a management consultant.  While the work was varied and interesting and I had some great clients, the constant schmoozing networking and relentless scrambling to nail-down the next big deal was exhausting.

More often than not, keeping existing clients happy and courting prospective clients was done, not in the office, but on the golf-course or over sushi at over-priced restaurants.  I did my part, making it through countless sushi lunches (though I’m definitely not a fan) and through several rounds of golf that are better left forgotten.

Though everyone else in my family – mom included – played golf, I never had until I became a consultant.  But, wanting to be a good team player, I and a few friends dutifully signed up for golf lessons at the local course and gamely did our best to master the basics.

My lack of interest, compounded by a lack of depth-perception and no apparent innate ability meant that “master” was not quite the term to describe the results.  Having an instructor who was about 150 years old, rather than the  romance-novel worthy hottie we’d secretly hoped for, was just one more disappointment.

What I took away from those lessons – in addition to a loathing for the activity – was the importance of follow-through.  While the likelyhood that my club would connect with the ball on any given swing was always extremely limited, following through on my swing generally meant the difference between launching the ball into the air (for however short a flight) and having the ball bobble off the tee. It didn’t matter whether I had  the right stance or the proper grip, if I didn’t follow through on my swing, the result was not going to be pretty.

So what does this have to do with anything?

Well, I told that story to tee up (see what I did there?) my focus word for 2020 which is, you guessed it, follow-through.

I have tons of projects in varying stages – writing projects, home projects, work projects – and they all could use a heavy dose of follow-through to get them completed and launched off the “things to do” list.

I’ve already started small this year with Michille’s “get rid of one thing every day” project –  an achievable goal that I can build on.  It’s kind of like the “make your bed every morning so you always start out your day having accomplished something” philosophy.

So far things are working well, both with the getting rid of things and the following-through.  I have high hopes for a 2020 full of accomplishments.

So how is your 2020 going so far?  What are you focusing on?

Jilly: Sunday Short Story–Early Resolution

It’s been an…interesting…start to 2020. I spent most of my time this week on a couple of real life challenges, with periodic breaks to catch up with RWA’s implosion. All of which left me feeling grumpy and sad, with zero new words on the page.

So in an attempt to cheer up my Girls and gain a bit of creative momentum, here’s a 500-word story inspired by Elizabeth’s Friday Writing Sprints, in which a character makes an unusual resolution, and featuring the prompt words courage, anchovies, beard, canvas, heaven, honest, hideaway, diva, guru, harlot, fool, garden, pearl, crimson, blossom and smile.

Here goes!

Early Resolution

It must have been the anchovies.

The last Katie could remember, she’d been in a blossom-festooned canvas marquee in a walled garden in a smart part of London. Crimson-robed staff had served exquisite bite-sized nibbles as the Guru spoke passionately of courage, and love, and the path to heaven.

She’d felt a little light-headed. One of the assistants had helped her outside into the fresh air. And now here she was in some mystery hideaway, sprawled on a gold upholstered sofa wearing nothing but a crimson thong and her faux pearl earrings.

At least now she knew what had happened to her sister. Lucy was a gullible idealist, but she was an honest fool, unlike these charlatans.

Were there hidden cameras in this place? Scanners? It seemed all too likely. Katie raked her hands through her hair and dragged them over her face, running her fingers carefully over her earrings. So far, so good.

Voices outside, low but getting louder. Male. At least two.

Decision time.

Continue reading

Jilly: 2020 In A Word

It’s a new year, the beginning of a new decade, the perfect moment to take stock. In recent years I’ve chosen a watchword to epitomize my approach to the coming twelve months. I’ve decided to continue the practice for 2020.

I like the idea of a watchword. It’s less prescriptive than a set of resolutions. More like a theme. An idea that recurs and pervades.

My word for 2019 was CONCENTRATE, defined as:

  1. To focus all one’s efforts on a particular project or activity; and
  2. To distil something to its essence by removing or reducing any diluting agents.

For 1., my priority project was to indie publish The Seeds of Power. I made it (just). Yay!

For 2., my intent was to remind myself of the choices I’d have to make in preparing the book for publication—content edits, title, genre positioning, covers, blurbs, and so on. I wanted the book to be professional and marketable, but most of all I wanted it to be the clearest, strongest, most intense version of my voice and story vision that I could achieve. I think I got that too. Double yay for 2019!

After three whole weeks as a published author I have a pretty good idea of how I want to approach 2020. First and foremost, my priority is to keep writing. I want to write a second Elan Intrigues story, provisionally titled The Pulse of Princes, and then update Alexis’s book. Second, I need to prepare The Pulse of Princes for publication. At least I have a better idea what to expect this time, and I found some great professionals to work with. Third, I need to get to grips with marketing. That’s the last part of the indie author trifecta. It’s not my strong suit, and it’s the bit I didn’t really get to grips with in 2019.

So: my challenge for 2020 is Continue reading

Jilly: 2019 In A Word

Can you believe it’s Twelfth Night already?

I feel rather late to the New Year’s Resolution/Goal Setting/Watchword party, but it’s been interesting to read about everyone else’s approach, from Jeanne’s specific, measurable, time-limited SMART goals to Elizabeth’s ultra-flexible pursuit of happiness.

There are still 51 weeks of 2019 ahead of us, so I’m going to join in the fun 😉

For the last few years I’ve picked a watchword to epitomize my approach to the coming year. It’s less prescriptive than a set of resolutions. More of a theme, in the sense of “an idea that recurs and pervades.”

My word for 2018 was TRIMMINGS, courtesy of Michaeline. On 30th December, 2017 she said:

We live in a time where we can get online support and critiques, buy the best organizing tools ever, and even publish ourselves with only our own Inner Censors as the sole gatekeepers of our work. Or we could get a pencil and paper, and then publish pictures of our handwritten pages on Instagram. It’s all trimmings. What really matters is the happiness you get from writing.

TRIMMINGS turned out to be a useful word, but not for the reasons I’d expected. A couple of weeks after I wrote the post, my mum died, my best-laid plans went up in smoke, and I had a sharp lesson in focusing on the things that really matter.

I didn’t do any more writing until April, and then I sat down with a blank sheet of paper to think about how I wanted to spend the rest of the year. I decided the best way to get my mojo back would be to take on a new self-contained project or two that would get me into my happy writing place again and carry me in the right direction but without too much pressure.

Continue reading

Nancy: New Year, New Writer, Zen Edition

Welcome to the last post of 2018! Hard to believe, isn’t it? And you know what the end of the year means. Recaps and reviews of 2018. Resolutions and predictions for 2019. Here at 8LW, it also means discussing our writing plans for the new year. Today, I’m keeping up that tradition, and expanding it to other important areas of life.

You might have noticed over the past year that I’ve set lots of writing goals, accomplished several of them, and missed the mark on others. Overall, I made good progress, but in the coming year I hope to do better. But I also burned out when we reached December, and next year, I’d like to avoid that end-of-year collapse. You’ll be shocked (shocked, I tell you!) to learn I have a plan to do better in 2019. And it all begins with balance in a few key areas of my life. Continue reading

Nancy: In Praise of Rest

Last week at this time, I was on day five of a virus from hell. A little less than three weeks ago, I was in a doctor’s office learning that, according to some X-rays of my hip, I have an issue that requires a change to my workout regimen for the foreseeable future. And a few weeks before that, I’d had a stiff neck/pinch nerved – possibly related to having my alignment thrown off by the bum hip – that made it difficult to climb out of bed. What all of these ailments have in common, other than making me feel like I’m approximately one hundred years old, is they were, to some extent, preventable.

Given these circumstances, a normal person might think, “What am I doing that’s making me so physically vulnerable?” I, on the other hand, thought, “When will all this be over so I can get back to my normal, totally unrealistic, and probably unsustainable schedule?” At some point, maybe it was around day three of the virus, I knew it was time to abandon my mind-over-matter mindset and listen to what my body, my orthopedist, and the universe were trying to tell me. Assuming you’re less obtuse than I, you can probably see where this is going.

It’s time to slow down a bit. Not forever. But for a while. And probably time to come up with a more sustainable long-term approach that builds downtime into my plans.

So today I present myself as a cautionary tale. Behold what happens when you set up unmanageable expectations. I’ve spent the past nine months riding hellbound for leather to reach a multitude of goals in 2018. And I’ve met most of them, so yay! But follow my lead at your own peril, because you could break something. Quite literally. Continue reading

Jilly: 2018 In A Word

Happy New Year!

Do you play the watchword game? That is, choose a single word to epitomize your approach to the coming year? It’s not as restrictive as a goal or resolution. More like a theme, defined as ‘an idea that recurs and pervades.’

Elizabeth told us on Wednesday that her word for 2018 is FINISH, to be applied to one project per month, not necessarily writing-related.

Last year I wanted a call to action. I settled on PUBLISH, and here’s how I explained my choice:

That doesn’t mean I expect Alexis to be published by the end of 2017, though that would be thrilling. It means that everything writing-related that I do this year should be directed towards that end. By next New Year’s Eve, at the very least I should know the specifics of how and when that book, and that series, will get published.

I think I did pretty well with that.

  • I finished Alexis Book 1 and, with Jeanne’s help, tidied up the ms well enough to win a contest and get some nice comments from the judges.
  • I made a final decision to pursue indie publishing, joined Mark Dawson’s Self-Publishing 101 course and worked through the lectures.
  • I signed up with Jeanne’s editor, Karen Dale Harris, and sent Alexis to her. I received my report just before Christmas and I’m now working my way through Karen’s comprehensive and challenging feedback.
  • I decided to write two more stories from Alexis’s past, one to be given away on my mailing list and the other as a prequel to kick off Alexis’s series. I resolved to get both of these finished before I release the first Alexis book, even if that means I have to let the ‘go live’ date slip a few months.
  • I spent a lot of time thinking about my titles, covers, and all kinds of other useful indie-publishing need-to-know decisions I learned about from the Mark Dawson classes. I now have a pretty good idea of how I’m going to handle most of them.

This year I’m going for a different approach, because although I keep inching forward, I’m feeling a kind of mounting frustration that I still have so much to do and it’s taking me so damn long to hatch a book.

Continue reading