Tag Archives: Dreams

Powerball to the People–The Lottery Fantasy

Hey, peeps. Suze here.  medium_NE_bizarro[1]Guess what? I’m under a deadline! It’s scary and exhilarating at the same time, like riding the giant roller coaster at Six Flags. My first book is due to my editor just after Labor Day. It’s essentially finished, but I need to make another pass through and write up some recipes before I let it go. I’ll keep you updated about Rest In Greece, Book 1 of the Greek to Me Mysteries (at least that’s what they’re called now).

So yesterday I stopped at a local convenience store and bought a Powerball ticket. I know, I know. Waste of money, some of you will say. But I only buy a ticket when the pot gets to be huge. Actually, I could probably increase my chances of winning if I bought a ticket when the jackpot is lower–but I don’t really know because I barely passed statistics with Professor Singh back in my St. Lawrence University days. I only remember to get a ticket when the good people at NBC Nightly News remind me.

Notice I’ve been saying “a ticket.” Just one. I never buy multiples because I figure if the Universe wants me to win, one is all I need.

Now, most everybody probably has a lottery fantasy, and I’m no exception. I’ve already got that money spent in my head (for the most part responsibly!). But I like to use these few times a year when the lottery possibility presents itself to do a Dream Check. Here’s what I mean:

If I won, I’d buy a house on the beach (and yes, invite all my nearest and dearest friends!).

But if I don’t win, I could make a date with myself or a friend/loved one, pack a picnic lunch, and spend the day at the beach at a state park near my home.

If I won, I’d contribute to a squillion charities and non-profits.

If I don’t win, I could still give a few bucks here and there to the ones that truly speak to me. And if times were lean, I could volunteer my time or services. Because every little bit truly helps.

If I won, I’d fund my retirement so I could travel and pursue my real passion full-time: writing!

If I don’t win, I could forego a Starbuck’s coffee once a week or buy one less pair of shoes a month, and take that money and put it into my actual retirement account so it would grow faster. Notice I didn’t say “stop buying books.” That would just be unrealistic, LOL! And as for the travel, I could get my passport in order, and make sure I have decent luggage, just in case the opportunity to go some place exotic presents itself. You never know!

May you find your pot of gold!
May you find your pot of gold!

See what I mean? The Lottery Fantasy can actually be a pretty healthy exercise. It forces you to think about what is truly important to you. If money were no object, how would you spend your life? Are there small steps you can take now to get yourself closer to your dreams?

Why not set your wishes free by writing them down? On one side of a sheet of paper, make a list of what you’d do with unlimited money. On the other side, brainstorm some ways you could get there, steps you could take to prepare yourself, or actions you could perform that would give you the same satisfaction in your life as it is now.

If you won the lottery, what would you do? Go ahead and spill your deepest, darkest lottery fantasies here.  I’ll be sure to let you know if I win, darlings. And if you bought a ticket, good luck!

Oh, how-the-times-they-are-a-changing!

Happy Tuesday, Scribe’s readers. PJ Sharon here, recalling how not so long ago, the idea of self-publishing was as taboo as wearing stripes and plaids together—a fashion statement to be strictly avoided. Today, it seems anything goes!

I was told I was crazy, that I shouldn’t do it, and that I was ruining my chances for a traditional publishing contract. These days self-publishing (preferably called Indie publishing to avoid confusion with Vanity publishing-an icky and antiquated model where authors pay exorbitant fees to shady publishers and get little in return for their investment), is just one more avenue for great writers to share their stories with the world. No longer considered a “last resort,” but now thought of as the “right path” for many writers for dozens of reasons, “Indie” publishing has become a buzz word that is changing the face of the publishing world forever! Can you say “print only contracts?”

Whether you do it to be more in control of covers, editing, and production schedules, or because your stories are awesomely written but are different enough that traditional publishers would never pick them up, or simply because 70% royalties sound a whole lot better to you than 10% or less, the bottom line is that it’s a viable career choice today.

What this means for readers:

1)      A variety of books to choose from that are often different than anything that NY has published before.

2)      Lower e-book prices and tons of free books to choose from.

3)      More personal interaction with authors since Indies have truly embraced social media as a way of connecting to readers. (Without “publisher” support, authors are more on our own than ever before, which goes for trad-pubbed authors as well).

What it means for writers:

1)      More freedom to write what we want to write and be in control of our product and our careers.

2)      The opportunity to set our own production schedules and write what is selling in the current market.

3)      Higher royalty rates but less distribution opportunities. Big publishers still have a major advantage here with both distribution and name recognition/legitimacy with retailers. Hopefully this will change over time as the industry evolves.

4) Realize that along with total control comes total responsibility, which can be overwhelming at times. For people like me who like to be their own boss, it’s really kind of awesome!

A perfect example of how quickly the field is growing and how the perception has changed is the RWA National conference I attended last week. Having Indie published my first title in 2011, I skipped last year’s national convention in Anaheim in part due to the fact that they had little to offer for Indie-pubbers. This year, there was an entire track devoted to everything from formatting to marketing your indie books. It included panel discussions and author chats with some fabulously successful Indie authors as well as focus sessions with all the major e-retailers.

I was amazed to see the shift. The energy and excitement were electrifying! I was also ecstatic to see that they opened up the RITA awards to Indie authors for next year. How cool is that? Obviously RWA was listening to our feedback. They may have been behind the fast moving curve, but they are working hard to catch up. Not that they have much choice, lest they risk being left behind by a good number of their members. Talk in the Indie camps the past year or so was that many were either jumping ship because the organization was treating them like the red-headed step child, or because successful trad-authors who had gotten the rights to all their back list of books were jumping on the Indie train in droves and RWA didn’t want to lose them. Wise decision on their part IMHO.

RWA (and most of NY) may be finally catching on and realizing that Indie is not synonymous with “inferior.” With the mega amounts of competition in this new market, Indie pubbers are quickly learning that quality products are key to selling successfully, and they are putting out some superior products–a reality gaining notice with agents and editors. There will always be the folks who upload an unedited, unprofessional, poorly written document that they (and their mom) think is the cat’s meow, but I believe that those will become fewer and farther between as the market continues to become more competitive.

Like any business, you have to be willing to invest in creating a quality product. Hiring cover artists (which I learned after a few missteps), editors, formatters, and even PR help might be what it takes for an Indie to stand out in the overcrowded book market of today, but there are so many opportunities for growth, it’s just crazy! From audio books to foreign translations, and the growing number of distribution channels offering pre-orders to getting our books into bookstores and libraries, Indies can now compete on equal footing with Big Six (or five) publishers. It means tons of work for the mom and pop publishers like me, but the sky is the limit! I suspect I’m one of the many Indies who are eking along at a crawl in terms of sales, but I can see a light down that long tunnel and I expect as with any new business, it could take me 3-5 years to see the financial success I’m working toward.

I’m still waiting for RWA to change their PAN (Published Authors Network) requirements for Indies, however, as this is still an inequitable measure of professional success and would exclude me from entering the RITA’s. As it stands now, traditionally published authors only need to earn $1000 to be eligible for PAN, while Indies need to earn $5000. Although I’ve earned out twice that amount and more on my first five titles, I haven’t quite earned it yet on one single title, which excludes me from eligibility. I’m oh, so close though!

I’m not saying that Indie publishing is right for everyone. It requires a lot of self-discipline, hard work, and some business savvy, but if you are sitting outside the traditional mold and thinking “I’ll never get published,” there is now another way. Do your homework, get educated about the process, and make the choice because it fits the career model you want. And if you still want a traditional contract, there is always the “Hybrid author” model. Like I said, the sky is the limit and it’s a brave new world in publishing. Be BOLD, and go after your dream, however and wherever the spirit leads you!

So what do you all think about this new publishing paradigm?

Fight for Your Goals, Live for Your Dreams

Happy Friday everyone! Casey here.

UndeadSpaceInitiative_400Now that I’m plotting my next book, I’ve been thinking about my writing career a bit. As a rule, I don’t think too much about where I see myself in the future.

Probably a bad thing, but I’m a worrier by nature and I’m trying to curb the habit by living more in the moment. That means learning to accept the things I can control and letting go of the things that I can’t.

One thing I’ve noticed since I’ve become published is that there is a lot more pressure (often not self-imposed) to promote the heck out of your books and/or yourself. I admit that I have promoted myself through social media, blog tours, paid ads, ect.

And for the most part, I’ve resented all the time it’s taken away from my writing. I am one of those people who subscribes to the belief that the best marketing tool is your next book. Yet, I got sucked into the promotional vortex and paid the price by only completing two books last year (and one of them two days before X-Mas!).

I know writers who would kill to finish two books in a year, but for me, I wanted three. Maybe this year, I will meet that goal.

Before I go further, there is a difference between a goal and a dream. A dream is something out of your hands (like winning the lottery, making the NY Times Bestseller list, going to Mars).

Hope Springs
Fake movie theater – Stonington Point, CT

While a goal, is something you can achieve through your own actions. Want to be on the NY Times Bestseller list?  First, realize this is a dream and not in your control. But what you can do, is control yourself by writing the best books you can. You can continue to learn the craft of writing so readers, when they do discover you, want to read more of your books. If you’ve been spinning your wheels on the same book for years, time to think about changing focus.

If you want to be on the NY Times list, you’ll also need to recognize one simple fact – you can’t make anyone buy your book. Remember, dreams are outside your control.

Not sure which is a dream and which is an achievable goal?

Dream: win a RITA (or other award) Goal: learn skill ___ to improve writing. Take a class, read a book on craft, find a mentor (wash, rinse, repeat) Goal: submit published novel (or unpublished manuscript) to contests (again, you can’t control if you win, but you can use it as a learning experience to improve your writing.)

Dream: become rich and/or famous with your writing Goal: complete a novel in 2013 or

Goal: submit polished novel to agent or editor or pursue indie publishing.

Filming - Hope Springs - Stonington Point, CT
Filming – Hope Springs – Stonington Point, CT

Dream: sell X number of books. Goal: schedule an appearance at your local bookstore or library.(Remember, you can’t make people buy your books but you can make a favorable impression.) Goal: write your next novel and stop worrying about sales.

Now before you raise your arm and shout “Blasphemy!”, consider this – Do you let other people tell you what to buy? If I followed you around a store, chanting, “buy my book, buy my book!”, you’d call security. Then you’d probably never buy anything of mine ever again because I was obnoxious and rude. Not to mention, no one likes other people telling them how to think.

Hopefully, you’re sensing a theme: you can control your time, your output, your quality and yourself.

So, no matter how much control we writers have over our work these days, some things haven’t changed. Readers want to discover good books and they will find you eventually. As my fellow Scribe PJ says of a writing career, “it’s a marathon, not a sprint.”

In the meantime, here is my goal for 2013: head down, write more, learn more, and be considerate to others. Always!

Share and share alike. What has your experience been? What strategies do you use to fight for your goals?

Trust Your Story

Tuesday’s Scribe, PJ Sharon here. Have you ever been writing along, minding your plot and meeting your daily word count, only to have your character take you “off track”? Do you catch yourself swearing at your characters and asking them, “Where the *&%*@# are you taking me?” Well, let me tell you…I’ve learned to let them have their way—at least on the first draft. Let me explain why.

After several manuscripts and three or four published novels, I’m finally beginning to trust my internal process. It seems that my unconscious mind knows a lot more about my characters than my conscious mind does and if I let the story evolve organically—rather than trying to control every word that lands on the page—some miraculous things happen. Characters take me to the most interesting places, and if I go along for the ride, there is usually some grand reason they needed to go there. A piece of the puzzle is found, a character flaw is brought to light, or an opportunity for character growth presents itself.

When I wrote ON THIN ICE a few years ago, Penny’s story unfolded and jumped onto the page with such abandon, it seemed as if it was writing itself. I hadn’t planned on all the twists and turns that her story would take, but as it developed and each thread wove itself into her character arc, I had no choice but to follow and see how everything came together in the end. Amazingly, her journey turned out to be profoundly complex and beautiful. Of course, my problem was then trying to sell a story that had multiple subplots and more drama than a season of Dallas.

I had several published authors, a few agents, and even a couple of editors tell me the same thing…get rid of at least two—preferably three—of the subplots. I was told “One teenager could not possibly deal with all of these issues and one or two is enough for any one book if you want to explore them in depth.” So I tried to unravel my plot to remove some of the “unnecessary” subplots. The problem was that I couldn’t. I struggled for several months trying to make the story “marketable” by choosing one story line and then bleeding all over the page for 250 pages. I couldn’t make it work. Deconstructing the story seemed like an impossible task without it losing that special something that made it unique and authentic. Worse, was that it felt like I wasn’t being true to my character. Penny needed to go through all the trials and tribulations she endured in order to become the person she was at the end of the story. It was her journey—not mine—and I didn’t feel right about robbing her of any of the experiences that made her who she was.

Ultimately, I shelved the story and began writing Heaven Is For Heroes, which turned out to be a much more “marketable” story, but by that time, I had decided that the kind of stories I wanted to write were likely not going to fit into a specific mold and that I wasn’t willing to have a traditional publisher “brand” me (ouch!) and put me in a “box” (NO…Not the box!). Enter—Indie publishing.

One of the many things that drew me to Indie pubbing was the freedom to be true to the creative process and write what is in my heart. I’m convinced that there are readers for every well-written book—even if/especially if—it fits outside the box. Why should readers be fed only stories that publishers have deemed saleable? As it turns out, many Indie authors are finding great success because they are taking risks and writing something different. The upsurge in the “New Adult” market proves that readers of all ages want something new–stories that bridge the gap between YA and adult romance–stories about what happens when young adults are faced with real life issues that push them into adulthood.

Although I’ve learned to rein in my characters a bit before they take me too far off course or lead me into some corner I can’t get out of, I’ve also learned to trust my story to take me where my characters need to go to become who they are meant to be—even if it takes me places I never dreamt I’d go. I’ve gotten better at plotting and planning rather than flying by the seat of my pants, but the real joy in writing for me is when my characters take over and lead me on an adventure greater than my mind could have imagined.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart if you’ve already read the book. I greatly appreciate all honest reviews. If you haven’t yet left a review and would like to do so, you can click on the Amazon link below and write a brief line or two about what you liked/or didn’t like about the book. This helps other readers find books that might appeal to them and helps us authors reach new readers. 

So what did you think? Was it too much drama for one book, or did it somehow all work together to make a worthwhile and unique story?on thin ice front cover jpg

If you haven’t read ON THIN ICE, you have one final opportunity to download it for FREE from Amazon this weekend. I won’t be renewing my KDP Select contract, so this is the last time it will be offered as a FREE download for the foreseeable future. It will be available Saturday through Monday, January 26-28th in honor of National Skating month and the US Figure Skating Championships taking place this week.

Bookmark this page and stop back this weekend to download your FREE Kindle copy from Amazon

Although Penny’s dream of Olympic Gold is derailed by life’s cruel twists of fate, she learns what all fierce competitors learn…follow your heart, and never give up.

Writing is My Life…Finally by Terry Spear

Happy Friday everyone! Casey here with a big welcome back to USA Today best seller Terry Spear! Stay tuned until the end of the post to read an excerpt and for a chance to win a copy of Terry’s latest book SAVAGE HUNTER.

Thanks to 7 Scribes for having me back! Casey asked me to talk about quitting my day job. So here goes:

In the beginning, like not quite during the dinosaur age, but close, when we were still submitting manuscripts on typewriters and there was no such thing as personal home computers or cell phones, even, I was writing stories for publication (children’s stories back then) and getting rejected. A couple went to senior editors, but still the rejections came.

Undaunted, I switched from children’s stories to western historical romance because I love westerns and I love romance and happily ever after. I heard that romances sell better than children’s stories unless you have an agent. And getting one is harder than getting published.

So I merrily went about writing my first historical western romance. And when I was done, I learned historical romances are hard to sell. Western romances are the hardest.

This taught me a couple of things. If I wanted to become a published author—and I did at that point beyond a doubt. I knew I would do anything to write the book someone wanted so that I could support myself with just my writing—I had to write. Constantly.

It taught me to take chances on writing for different lines that had recently opened up: Comedy Romance, Fantasy Romance, Bombshell, YA, you name it. Every time a new line with an established company started, I wrote a story for them.

The first time I got picked up, two of my YA were bought. The company paid advances, but then two years later, and only one month before my first book released, they closed the YA line. But it was a new line and they were buying. Until they closed it. I did keep the advances, so that was the good thing.

Then I got another break. Sourcebooks was one of those companies that had just started to request manuscripts. They had bought two historical romances written by NY Times bestselling authors. And then they picked up ME for Heart of the Wolf, urban fantasy romance.

I wasn’t the only one that was picked up about that time. Some of us are still with them from the beginning, and some are not. It was interesting when I went to Anaheim this year with the RWA Conference, I was one of their first authors, and proud to be. They gave me the break I truly needed when agents were rejecting me and when many of the NY pubs were saying—“close, but no cigar.”

With my 9th release, A SEAL in Wolf’s Clothing, Finn Emerson is one hot sexy SEAL wolf, I made USA Today bestseller in March!!!

But last year, I tried my hand at self-publishing. Remember all those books I wrote for publishers while trying to find a home for one? Tons and tons and tons of books? My critique partners who are still with me after eight years, used to joke that I would someday take a U-Haul truck filled with manuscripts and sell them all at once to NYC.

Well, it didn’t happen quite like that. I self-published 24 titles and for the first time in the years I’ve been published, I made enough to quit my day job. I’d been working 40 hours at the day job, and 40-45 hours in all my spare time before work, after work, and on my two days off trying to keep up with writing, editing, and promotions—all with the goal that one day I could quit and write all 80 of those hours per week!!!

And I did it. August of this year, I was writing full time and loving it.

It took me a lot of years to get here. Sixteen, in fact. The key to success for me was to keep writing. To never give up. I actually have 45 published novels or novellas out and many more that I’ve written that need major revisions before they’re publishable. And many more that I’ve started that need to be finished. So you see, all that time spent writing for all those years wasn’t wasted.

With any job, we have to be dedicated to it. I’ve treated my writing as a full-time job even when I had a full time job. I have goals I set, deadlines I have to meet. I had so many this past month, even without a full time job, I was having a time keeping up. I had a book due Sept 15, Oct 15, and 40,000 words worth of blogs due by mid-September.

I have another book I’ll need to be revising soon. It’s all doable. I set goals. I finished both of the other books early and turned them in. And then I began to tackle the 30 guest blogs. Four a day, in a week they’ll all be done.

And then? It’s back to writing.

Which is great! Because for all those years, that’s exactly what I wanted to be doing! Creating stories for the world full time.

In SAVAGE HUNGER, Connor Anderson has one goal, get Kathleen McKnight, former Army officer, back to civilization before his sister turns her! Everyone should have a goal, don’t you think?

What would you do if you decided Connor was just the kind of man you wanted in your life, but he wasn’t willing to turn you?

Thanks so much to 7 Scribes for having me here today, and one lucky person that answers my question will have a chance to win a copy of SAVAGE HUNGER.US/Canada Addresses Only.

Terry – thanks so much for being our guest today! Remember Scribes’ fans, answer the question for a chance to win a book!


About the Author

USA Today bestselling and an award-winning author of urban fantasy and medieval romantic suspense, Terry Spear also writes true stories for adult and young adult audiences. She’s a retired lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army Reserves and has an MBA from Monmouth University. She also creates award-winning teddy bears, Wilde & Woolly Bears, that are personalized that have found homes all over the world. When she’s not writing or making bears, she’s teaching online writing courses or gardening. Her family has roots in the Highlands of Scotland where her love of all things Scottish came into being. Originally from California, she’s lived in eight states and now resides in the heart of Texas. She is the author of the Heart of the Wolfseries and the Heart of the Jaguar series, plus numerous other paranormal romance and historical romance novels. For more information, please visit www.terryspear.com, or follow her on Twitter, @TerrySpear. She is also on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/terry.spear .




SAVAGE HUNGER by Terry Spear

She heard something moving toward her from behind. The hair at the nape of her neck instantly stood at attention. Her heart was already tripping. She was afraid it was him—the cat with the deep, angry, growly voice. She knew the big cats moved silently through the jungle. She imagined the cat would appear before she would even be prepared to face him. And then what?

Turning slowly, she looked to see who or what it was. An armed man? Or a toothy jaguar?

She saw the most beautiful creature she had ever chanced to see up close—way too close. A huge jaguar. No fence or moat to keep him from her, like at a zoo. Her skin chilled, and her heart thumped erratically.

As much as she’d wanted to see one, she hadn’t quite thought to observe one like this. If he did belong to Connor, she didn’t see any sign of the man. Which meant this one could be a real danger.

In the back of her mind, she wanted to pull her camera out of her bag and take a picture, take a hundred pictures. That was just plain crazy. She stayed porcelain-statue still, afraid any sudden movement would trigger him to pounce. She had envisioned watching one swimming in a river or maybe drinking water at a riverbank. She’d thought she might catch sight of one lounging in a tree while she watched from a nice, safe distance, but not on the prowl like this while she was standing in its path.

Her heart still pounding out of bounds, she stared at the jaguar, which had the most beautiful golden eyes and matching golden body covered in large black rosettes. His belly was white and covered with more rosettes. His long whiskers bristled. He lifted his nose and sniffed the air, taking a whiff of her scent, she was certain, although there wasn’t a whisper of a breeze with all the vegetation surrounding them. Was he trying to smell just how tasty she might be? Despite the muggy heat, a chill raced down her spine.

His eyes were round, fully watching her as he stood frozen in place. His tail twitched, jerking back and forth in a tight motion, just like her cat’s would when she watched a bird on a tree branch near the living room window. Her cat’s eyes would be just as huge as the jaguar’s and her body just as tense, ready to pounce on her prey if she could have gotten beyond the glass windowpane.

Don’t move, Kathleen screamed silently to herself. He is curious. Just curious. You are not dinner.

Who was she kidding? All she could think of was the Indian word for jaguar, yaguar, meaning “he who kills at one leap.” Looking at the way that he was standing so still, she wondered if he was thinking about it. He wasn’t in pouncing form, crouched, ready to leap, but maybe he was waiting for her to run, offering more sport that way.

They would eat deer and tapirs. Why not a tasty woman?

Then to her shock, she heard another growl. This one came from behind her. Yet the jaguar was still standing in front of her, and he hadn’t made a sound. Her skin grew a fresh rash of goose bumps.

Maybe he wasn’t a he, but a she, and her nearly full-grown cub was behind Kathleen, coming for dinner. Or maybe this one was a he—he looked awfully big not to be, around six feet in length and weighing, she guessed, around two hundred and fifty pounds—and the other was his mate. How big was the other, then?

If they were mating, maybe Kathleen was needed to keep them well fed for another bout of tying it on. That didn’t improve her outlook on the situation in the least. The only thing she could hope for was that they had the hots for each other, and one human wouldn’t distract them that thoroughly. Maybe that’s why they had been roaring. As a love call. Or maybe he would think Kathleen was a threat to his mate.

She hoped both cats had recently eaten and that she wasn’t about to be on the menu.

He slowly walked toward her. She had to tell herself that was because the other jaguar was somewhere behind her with Kathleen inconveniently in between the two of them.

She wanted desperately to dash off. But she couldn’t outrun a big cat that could take her down with one leap. Not to mention that if she turned and bolted, she would probably run straight into the other jaguar.

She meant to glance behind her for a tree that she could reach and quickly climb, but when she looked over her shoulder, she saw the other cat. And her heart nearly stopped. Her breathing definitely did.

Smaller, though not by much, the second jaguar observed her with the same golden eyes and had the same golden coat with black rosettes and the same hungry look. This was so not good.