GENREALITY

Archive for December, 2010



Thursday, December 30th, 2010 by Sasha White
New Years Resolution?

I’m just wondering…how many of you out there make New Years Resolutions? How many of you stick to them?

Are they work oriented, or personal? Do you tell others what they are, or keep them to yourself?

I’m a fan of goal setting, and I tend to give myself goals all year long. I’ve done small resolutions and never really stuck to them, but I’m thinking I might make some firm career/writing ones this year. What do you think? Is this bad idea?

Tuesday, December 28th, 2010 by Sasha White
Winner

Laurence Maryanne King you were chosen from the commenters in my post Tuesday. You win a $15 Amazon Gift Card. To claim it you have to email me by January 3rd with GENREALITY WINNER in the subject line. That gives you a week. :)

Sunday, December 26th, 2010 by Sasha White
Time Off For Good Behaviour

This week is time off for the Genreality authors. Yep, so we can spend time with family, friends, and book we want to read before we get back to it and start 2011 off with a bang.

However, I’ll still be posting a little some’n some’n every day for those of you who have to have your blog surfing fix regularly. (I’m one of those people, so I understand the withdrawal) Nothing big, but maybe some news tidbits and such..so drop in and see whats what.

First bit of news…check out Carrie’s new cover art for the next installment in her bestselling Kitty the Werewolf series.

Kittybigtroubl-small

Now, Carrie didn’t tell me this, but I’m guessing this one is a compilation of all those short stories she wrote. I’ve read some of the shorts here and there, and I look forward to having them all in one book.

Kittygreatesthits-small

What do you think? You like? How many of you have read this series? If you haven’t, why not? It’s fabulous!

Thursday, December 23rd, 2010 by Candace Havens
Focus on the Goal – Start the New Year Right

The wonderful Kristen Lamb is guest blogging for me today. She has some great stuff for you!

Years ago, when I first became a writer I befriended a gentleman, James Dunne, who worked for Ferrari. I was writing a novel set in Monte Carlo and wanted to know all I could about the Formula One and the cars, people, etc. I also attended the first NASCAR races in DFW and became friends with members of Dale Earnhardt Sr.’s pit crew to get an inside perspective on car racing. It was a tremendous experience. The book is in a drawer, but the lessons were forever. I took away a maxim that has affected how I approach life and people. Today I will share with you guys because it is getting close to New Year’s Resolution time, and I want you guys to succeed.

Race car drivers not only have to go top speed (duh) but the largest part of winning is staying in the race. Drivers stay in the race if they can avoid colliding with other cars and keep from hitting the wall. Rocket science here, right? Bear with me. When race car drivers train, they are taught to keep their eyes where they want to go. Why? Because where the eyes go, the car follows. Thus, they are instructed that, to avoid hitting the wall, never look at the wall. Or more accurately, To avoid hitting the wall, focus on the finish line.

Race car drivers always keep their eyes on the straightaway and on the finish line. This was a life-changing lesson for me. Where the mind goes the man follows. Race car drivers aren’t foolish. They know the wall is there. Yet, they understand that staring at it is not going to do anything positive for getting them closer to the checkered flags.

In life, I do all I can to ignore the walls and keep my eyes on the prize. This has a lot to do with positive thinking, which beats being negative any day of the week. My thought life is vitally important to my attitude, and my attitude is the most vital component of how I treat myself and others. How do I avoid walls? I watch 2 things—my focus and my mouth.

Watching My Focus

For years I volunteered teaching children in a Christian after school program. We generally inherited most of the problem kids because no one else wanted them around. These kids hit and kicked and had no concept of self-control. I noticed that when we corrected them or chastised them for a certain behavior, we soon could expect more of it…a LOT more. So we volunteers decided to change our approach with these little “scoundrels.”

Even though it made me want to pull out my hair, I began ignoring most of their acting out. Yet, when they settled down and were quiet, I offered heaping praise. When they played nicely with other kids, I made a big production of what great kiddos they were. It wasn’t long until most of these kids were happy, smiling, and well-behaved. They craved attention. All I did was lavish attention for better behavior.

The strange thing was that a few of them didn’t change. Some of the kids still acted up. They didn’t change, but I did. I could still care for them and enjoy them because I focused on the good they had to offer.

Other people always have “walls” and I make a deliberate act to ignore them. It doesn’t do me or other people any good to focus on weakness or where they fall short, because we all fall short. I find that if I focus on how someone is always late or disorganized or negative, pretty soon it colors how I treat that person. Yet, I notice that if I can look for the good, then eventually I get to the point where I don’t even see the bad. It isn’t that their “wall” isn’t there; it just isn’t my sole focus.

The same goes for how I treat myself. I know if I pay undue attention to my flaws, I soon can expect those flaws (um, thighs) to get bigger, which leads to my next point…

Watching My Mouth

Did you know that the subconscious brain cannot tell the difference between truth and lie? Even if you give it wrong information, the subconscious brain will accept it as true. Psychiatrists call this conditioning. Hindus feel we create psychic grooves that affect our future. Christians say that, out of your mouth you speak life and death; choose life. Regardless our persuasion, all schools imply we have a choice.

If I say, “Today is going to be so horrible.” Guess what? Often it is. Why? I spoke it and deemed it so. Thus, instead of noticing the good things that happen, my eyes will be fixed on “walls” all day long because I have instructed them to do so. I will look for every little thing that doesn’t go my way to affirm the belief I have stuck in my head… “Today is going to be horrible.”

“Oh I just know I am going to be late for that meeting.” Hmmm. Suddenly I cannot find my keys, my bag, my purse, my butt.

Another point. Did you know that the human brain also has this weird way of chopping off conditionals, and it only begins to listen at the first active verb? This is why negative goals can submarine our best efforts.

I say: Don’t forget your folder.

Brain hears: Forget your folder.

I say: Don’t overeat tonight at dinner.

Brain hears: Overeat at dinner.

I say: Under no certain circumstances will you bait to that woman at the board meeting.

Brain hears: Bait to that woman at the board meeting.

I say: Now make sure you don’t lose that business card.

Brain hears: Lose that business card.

If you tell a writer, “The pitch session isn’t the end of the world. Don’t panic.” I guarantee you she hears, “Pitch session. End of the world. Panic.”

How we talk to ourselves is critical. I have found that phrasing things in the positive makes a remarkable difference. When I come in the door, I say, “Now remember your keys are here.” When I am going to a restaurant that I know can make me eat until I pop, I say, “I am going to only eat until I am full.” When I wake up in the morning I say, “I am going to have a great day.” When I am staring down the barrel of having to face a horrible, negative person, I tell myself, “I am going to be calm and maintain my peace.” Is this some kind of magic charm? No. But I do find this approach mitigates the negative. I might find that my temper flares at that person who feels the need to sabotage a committee meeting, but it isn’t as bad as if I had told myself, “If such-and-such says one word, I am going to give her what-for.”

This approach also works with others.

I find that when I tell my husband, “Remember to pick up your slacks from the cleaners” that my odds are better that he will come home with his cleaning.

When I tell my young nephews, “I just know you two are going to make me look good when everyone sees how well you behave.” Most of the time, they do.

One of my favorite quotes is from Dale Carnegie. He said, “The ideas I stand for are not mine. I borrowed them from Socrates. I swiped them from Chesterfield. I stole them from Jesus. And I put them in a book. If you don’t like their rules, whose would you use?”

We have a choice with our attitude, and we have a choice what rules govern how we see others and ourselves. If the most skilled racecar drivers in the world know to focus on the goal line, and top athletes know to focus on winning, and successful entrepreneurs know to focus on possibility, and successful couples know to focus on love, then we can take a lesson from that. If we want what they have, adopting their habits and attitude is a darn good start.

What are some ways you guys stay positive? All of us have to deal with hurt, angry, spiteful people, so how do you remain calm? We all face trials and hardship. How do you guys keep focused on the goal? Be brave and share so we might grow.

Visit Kristen at http://kristenlamb.org/

Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010 by Bob Mayer
Motivation and Writing

I think this is a key topic for writers.  In Warrior Writer, I note that only 5% of people are capable of internally motivated change.  And to be a successful author, you have to be in that 5%.

I also discussed that one of the seven characters traits of the elite was balancing contentment and desire.  Too much of either is dangerous.  They feed off of each other.  For many years I’ve joked that I never take a day off, but, unfortunately, it’s true.  And it’s burned me out.  It’s hard to change habits, as we all know, but it is one area I’m working on.

So let’s talk about motivation a bit.

First, the carrot and stick method doesn’t really work any more.  The old maxim was:  reward an activity and you’ll get more of it.  Punish an activity and you’ll get less of it.

That’s wrong.  Studies have proved that often, linking a reward to an activity, dampens enthusiasm for it.  It can go from being a creative, fun experience, to becoming work.  This often happens to the midlist writer who is under contract.  Instead of creating, they’re working.  An experiment with artists by the Harvard Business School found that those artists working on commission produced less ‘artistic’ work than those artists not working on commission.  The pure joy of creating was lost to a degree when there was a positive outcome attached to it.

Not only is creativity hurt.  The desire to do good can be diminished with rewards.  Paying people to donate blood has proven to lower the number of people donating blood.  People prefer to volunteer to do that.  Thus internal motivation is more important than external.

On the good news front, researchers have found that goals we set for ourselves are beneficial, but goals set for us by others, are not.  This is why I try not to listen to agent and editor panels at conferences.  Their lists of ‘do’ and ‘don’t do’ are irritating.  An author’s job is not to make their life easier.  An author’s job is to create.

Researchers have also found two types of people:  Type X and Type I.  Type X are indeed motivated by external things. Type I are motivated by internal things.  A writer must focus on Type I. Because in publishing, you don’t control many of the external factors.  Whether a traditional publisher picks you up or not, is not in your control other than by the quality of what you write.  What I’m finding interesting is that by founding my own publishing company, it reduces my stress level as I write.  Because I know that even if my agent can’t sell a book, I can still publish it.  True, I won’t have a many thousands of copy print run, but I can put it out there.  Also, I’ve had thousands of copies print runs and watched books die a slow, agonizing death of neglect.

If you get a $10,000 advance for a mass market paperback, you need to sell (at $6.99, 8% royalty) 17,882 copies to earn out.  But what if the print run is only 25,000 copies in today’s tough economic times?  And average sell through is 50%?  Let’s say you do very well, sell through at 70%.  You’ve sold 17,500 copies.  And not earned out.

But every day I check my Kindle account, my Smashwords account, my Lightning Account, my pdf account, and money is coming in.  Even though I’m making less, it’s more satisfying to see progress.

Tuesday, December 21st, 2010 by Sasha White
Time for…..

***Winner from Last week is announced at the bottom***

It’s less than a week until Christmas, and all through the house, everything is stirring, especially the mouse….as I type away on my computer because I have this week off of work!!!

December has been a nuts bust month for me with all the snow . Yes, last week we have about 3.5 feet of snow come down on us. 2 feet of it between Tuesday and Wednesday. It’s great to have snow for the holiday season, but did it have to come all at once? :shock:

I’d asked for an extra day off work this week coming up to christmas, just so I could catch up on things, and my fantastic boss gave me 2.5 extra days (I have to go in for lunch today to train a new girl) Which is great, because if there is one thing that being really busy does for me, it’s get my muse dancing and shaking.

When I have time to write, I seem to have a really hard time forcing myself to sit down and write. I want to do other things. Any other things…go to a movie, read, watch tv, play with photography…anything but write. But when I’m super busy, all I want to d is write.

The great thing about having the extra time off this week is that I’m still really busy getting ready for christmas (Are YOU ready?) but I’ll have a bit of time to squeeze in some writing. And that works best for me. When busy, I can usually squeeze a lot of words in on a short a month of time,

Can’t wait.

So, for me this week I’ll be wrapping gifts, shovelling snow, cleaning house, baking cookies, and writing. What will you be doing the week before christmas? Tell me in the comments for a chance to win a $15 Amazon Gift Card.

Frankie Robertson (commenter 6) you were chosen by Random number generator as the winner form last weeks giveaway. Just email me by Christmas ( sasha@sashawhite.net ) to claim your prize.

Happy Holidays, Everyone!

Monday, December 20th, 2010 by Carrie Vaughn
That Time of Year Again

I’m a fan of formal goal setting — writing down what I hope to accomplish and making a plan to accomplish it.  The holidays and end-of-the-year festivities are a nice external benchmark for reviewing last year’s goals and thinking about what I want to accomplish for next year.

The last couple of years have been strange, because I’ve accomplished many of the goals that had been driving me for most of my adult life — all the things I needed to do to become a full-time novelist with a successful career.  I find that my goals moving forward — maintaining and building on the career I have — aren’t as well-defined, and don’t necessarily have clear steps for accomplishing them.  At least, I’m still in the process of figuring out what those steps are.  (There’s lots of advice for writers starting out.  Not so much for those who are several years into their career.)

Five to ten years ago, my goal list looked more like a to-do list:  Write every day.  Submit a short story to market every week.  Finish the current novel by the end of the year.  Query five agents a month.  Attend Worldcon.

The “submit a story to market every week” goal was something I did every year from 1995 to about 2007.  When I stopped being able to do that — I wasn’t writing enough short stories to keep in circulation, the short stories I was writing were by request and therefore already sold, I didn’t have time to research markets, and it simply wasn’t worth the effort anymore — I took that goal off the list, and it was a little traumatic, because it was one of the things that helped me be a better writer and helped me develop my career.  But goals have to change — if they don’t, it means you aren’t making any progress.

My goals for 2010:  Think about the next YA books I want to work on.  Pick the next stand-alone book to work on.  Keep my website up to date.  Remember to say no. (After the last couple of years I’ve had, packed with nonstop deadlines, I realized I had to manage my time better and figure out how to actually limit the amount of work I do and the number of deadlines I have per year.  Can you imagine how I would have felt about that ten years ago?)  Career planning, think about the next five years, what I want to do with the Kitty series and a possible spin-off series.  (Writing in some form every day is a given.  I don’t even put it on the list any more.)

It’s a lot of thinking about stuff and not a lot of doing.  Momentum as much as anything is carrying me right now.  (When you’re writing an ongoing series, much of your career is organized around the deadlines and requirements of that series.  You hardly have to think about what you’re going to do next.  This isn’t really conducive to long-term planning.)

How did I do?  I know what YA books I’m working on next and am in the process of pitching them.  I could do a little better with updating my website, but it’s not too bad.  I could also do a little better about saying no.  However, because I’m between contracts right now I’m in a position to manage my deadlines much better moving forward and I plan on using what I’ve learned over the last couple of years to accomplish this, and hopefully I won’t be working on five books at once again, like I was at a couple of points over the last couple of years.  I think I know the stand-alone book I’ll be working on next, and I have some ideas about where Kitty is going.

So, I did okay.  But I’m still thinking about how to be more definite in my goal setting, and what concrete things I can do to accomplish the big goal of building on my career.

How about you?  Are you a goal setter?  If so, how are you doing?  Do you use the end of the year and the start of the next to review your goals?