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louise-rasmussen

 

 

 

 

Over the past several years it’s taken me (yes, about two years in total) to write The King’s Consort-The Louise Rasmussen Story, I’ve had many people ask me why I decided to write a (bio) historical fiction novel. This is a small departure from the genre of my first two titles, which were paranormal romances (soon to be re-released). I say a small departure because the romantic lead male in those novels is the ghost of an English Lord, Sir Richard Abbottsford.

The truth is, I’ve wanted to write this story for a long time; ever since my mother told me her paternal family may be related to Louise Rasmussen, Countess Danner. Intrigued, I listened with avid interest as my mother told me about Louise—a woman who was born the illegitimate daughter of a seamstress and became a ballerina with the Royal Danish Ballet, then married King Frederik VII of Denmark in the mid-1800s.

I’ve always been fascinated by strong women who step beyond their “station” in life and live remarkable lives, thereby affecting the lives of others around them. Seldom do those in positions of power accept these women. Often, the opposite is true. They are vilified and called terrible names in an attempt to keep them in their so-called “place”. But if not for women like Louise, significant, lasting reforms and changes might not ever have been made. In my eyes, these women are heroes. They accept the unwanted challenges placed before them and forge ahead. I don’t believe these women have no fear. In fact, I imagine they experience a great deal of fear. To be denigrated for being born into a certain social caste must be a terrible burden that women all over the world still suffer today. To be seen as unworthy of high achievement is demoralizing and tremendously difficult to overcome. Yet these women choose to take up the battles anyway.

Why do they do it? I don’t know for sure, but I expect that some do it out of an inability to accept injustice. Perhaps some do it to right terrible social wrongs, and I imagine that some do it because they come to understand that they can. I doubt any of the strong women of history, or of today, rejoice in the negative light they are portrayed in, or who suffer strong consequences for their actions and their voicing of injustice. As with Countess Danner, who at the end of her life created a safe house for poor and abused women, unwed mothers and their children (that still exists today), the road that lead them to take such unprecedented action would have been extremely difficult.

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Danner, Copenhagen, Denmark

Danner, Copenhagen, Denmark

The fact that Louise and many other women like her didn’t have to do what they did, speaks volumes to me about their character. For instance, by the time Countess Danner created what fondly became known as Danner House (Dannerhuset), in Copenhagen, Denmark, she had married King Frederik VII. She had money, land, and a respectable title. She could have chosen to live a very comfortable life and ignore the plight of the poor women of her country. Instead, having grown up poor and giving birth to her own illegitimate son, she took it upon herself to do something about a social plight that she understood all too well. Initially unable to find a suitable location for her women’s shelter, she opened a portion of her home at Jaegerspris Castle, to the women who so desperately needed such a facility. Today, Jaegerspris Castle is open to the public as a museum, with tributes to King Frederik VII and Countess Danner.

It seems to me that when women decide to take up a tremendous challenge, they don’t do it lightly. They seldom do it for fame, money, or social position. In fact, most of these women go into battle knowing they are alone and stand to lose a great deal. In some cases, they lose everything, including their lives or the lives of those they love. There can be no greater service, and the chances of success are negligible. They risk all for others.

No, I believe these women undertake such risks because they see a need and realize that no one is going to do anything to change it, if they don’t do it themselves. They have a vision for a different life for others. They do it for love of humanity. I believe they do it because they feel they must.

The legacy these women leave behind isn’t always felt on a huge or global scale. Sometimes it’s very small, affecting only those whose lives they immediately touch. Sometimes the cause is taken up by others, who continue it long after the woman who first sought to make significant change has died. They inspire others to follow suit, thereby ensuring the vision lives on long after their own years on this earth have passed. What an incredible gift.

So, the reason I wrote The King’s Consort is because I felt compelled to do so. I felt that Louise, whether it is ever proven that I and my maternal family are related to her or not (no, I haven’t gone down that road yet, but I will) deserves to be recognized for her contribution to the women of Denmark. Her story is a remarkable one that I wanted to share with others, not just because she rose from nothing to marry a king, but because she loved with all her heart, and was loved in return. She gave back to others with a generosity of heart that history seldom recognizes her for. Together she and King Frederik VII made significant contributions to the country and people they loved, and in my eyes, that deserves to be written about and held up as an example of what we are all capable of, if we choose.

Please share with us who some of the strong women of today or yesterday are that you admire, and why?

Note: The King’s Consort-The Louise Rasmussen Story is a work of fiction based on the life of Louise Rasmussen, Countess Danner of Denmark. Although many events and people in this story are real, the story has been fictionalized for entertainment purposes, and is not intended to replace historical facts.

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Confidence Moves You

Confidence Moves You

Writing has given me many unexpected benefits, in addition to the actual writing, that is. It’s allowed me to share the stories that tumble around in my head. It’s allowed me to tap into deeper parts of myself and become more confident in my purpose on this earth, and it has introduced me to many wonderful people via in-person and on-line networking efforts I’ve engaged in.

Once my first book, In The Spirit Of Love, was released back in November, 2012 (Echelon Press), I knew I was going to have to step even further outside my comfort zone. I was going to have to go public with my book and do book signings and talks. I’d always been terrified of speaking in public – who isn’t? The thing is, I knew I was going to have to get over myself and my fears and just go do it. After all, writers have to be comfortable talking about their books, and themselves, in order to promote the work they’ve just spent countless hours, months and yes, years, creating. Whew! This was going to be a challenge.

When I first started writing, I never gave a thought to actually publishing the book. I just wanted to write a cool story I had come up with about a ghost who falls in love with a modern-day woman. I didn’t look too far down the path, but rather, I learned as I went. It didn’t occur to me that I’d be required to stand up in front of a bunch of strangers and talk. I didn’t think I’d get that far. I did though, and so I gathered my courage and stepped into a local library, copies of my book tucked into a pretty little book bag, prepared to do my best. I figured if I crashed and burned, at least no one really knew who I was anyway. I also brought my husband along for moral support. He turned out to be an invaluable ally, since I could see him nod his head in approval when I hit my mark, or shake it slowly when I was veering off course. He also handled the monetary transactions for the few books I sold – I think it was 2 or 3, and took a few photos. When we left the library, I was pretty proud of myself. I’d faced and conquered one of my deepest fears; looking like an incompetent idiot.

Next time I went to a book signing, I took my mother. She’s one of my biggest fans, and again, having her there really boosted my confidence. During the Q & A portion of my talk, she spoke up and asked some questions she knew others in the small group were also wondering about. She also handled the financial transactions for the few books I sold, again maybe 2 or 3. On the way home, I was giddy with relief for having gotten through the talk, but surprised at how comfortable I felt once I was up there and got going. I had reminded myself before I began the talk that there was absolutely nothing anyone in my small audience could ask me about my writing, publishing, or my journey thus far that I couldn’t answer. I had this one. I’m passionate about my writing and the whole business of publishing, so once I get started talking about it, I could go on for hours. That’s why I write out, in point form, my entire talk. I have a limited time period in which to engage, entertain, and hopefully, inform my audience. I realized I could do that.

My Audience

My Audience

Looking out into the audiences I’ve spoken to over the past few years, I recognize myself in the faces staring back at me. I’ve come to understand that these people are there because they’re interested in what I have to say, and welcome any tid bits of info or insights I can impart. I’ve come a long way since that first talk. I’m proud of my ability to connect with others and address several issues besides writing.

After the release of my second book, In The Spirit Of Forgiveness, I began speaking to groups about something new. I call it my Step Up and Step In To Your Life talk. You see writing also opened up new insights for me. I began to realize just how many times I’d held back from pursuing a dream, or from approaching a problem head on. I’d side-step it, I’d waffle, and sometimes, I’d out and out run from it. My life hasn’t always been easy – not by a long shot – but I’ve learned a lot from my mistakes along the way. I know I still have a lot to learn. When I began speaking publicly, it became apparent that just about everyone struggles with how to take control of their lives. They’re not sure how to make serious, lasting changes in their life. Changes they’ve always wanted to make, but have been afraid to.

Let’s face it, writing isn’t a solid career choice if you’re looking for a regular pay check, or regular anything. It’s the most difficult, challenging, frustrating, flat out ridiculous career move I could have made, but I love it. I’m caught, hook line and sinker. Because of the many challenges a writer faces, and the numerous rejections we receive over, and over, and over again, we develop a deep sense of conviction about who we are and what we want from life. We willingly step up to the plate day after day and pitch/hit our best. We face our fears head on every time we sit down to the task of writing. When it comes time to actually publish, market, and promote our work, we tackle a whole new set of obstacles and fears.

That’s why I felt that I had something of value to share with others who are likewise struggling with elements of their life. Sometimes it really is all about being willing to do the hard work, and stepping up, and into, our lives. It’s about taking responsibility for the choices we make. It’s about owning who we are as human beings, and as individuals. It’s about claiming our truth and being proud of it. It’s about facing fears, accepting our failures, and moving through them to get where we want to go. It’s also about accepting and respecting others for who they are.

Make Things Happen

Make Things Happen

It’s about dealing with a whole lot of things we all face. That’s why I talk about it openly. I’m not the only one struggling to come to terms with what to do with the years I have to live on this planet, and neither are you. My goal is to motivate even one person at each speaking engagement to examine their life and where they want to go with it. By hearing me talk, maybe that one person will move closer to their goals and dreams. I won’t necessarily ever know it, but for me, that possibility is awesome. I’m not a doctor, and I certainly can’t claim a whole bunch of letters after my name, but I’ll continue to talk publicly about things that matter to us all. I’ll do my best to impart what bits of wisdom and experience I’ve collected along the way.

What would you like to achieve in your life?

If you’d like me to speak at your business or organization’s next meeting/event, please feel free to contact me at mcclure.d@hotmail.com, or visit my website at www.damcclure.net for more information. If you’re outside Ontario, Canada, feel free to contact me, as I am able to periodically travel to worth-while events. Thank you.

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Getting Started

Getting Started

When I first decided to start writing, I had absolutely no experience. I hadn’t taken any writing courses, and had no formal writing education. Because of this, I kept putting off writing. I was afraid I had no business tackling such a tremendous endeavour. I don’t claim to be an expert on writing. I’m just a writer who is feeling her way along as she goes.

I have, however, learned a thing or two since I embarked on this journey. First; it isn’t as difficult as I’d thought. Second; it’s more difficult than I ever dreamed. Let me explain. You see, I thought because I didn’t have the education behind me, I had no business taking such a huge step. I thought I couldn’t possibly have gleaned enough knowledge through my many years of reading other people’s work to do it justice myself. Finally I realized that if I didn’t just do it, I’d run out of time. None of us gets out of here alive. As I neared my fiftieth birthday, it became clear that only I could do, or not do, anything I chose. Scary business. Still, I’d always thought I wanted to write. I always believed I would. So, I did it. One painful, joyous step at a time. So, I decided to just start writing, and worry about the rest later. That was the easy part.

The really difficult part came once I realized I was hooked on writing, and what a significant task I was undertaking. I quickly realized I needed to write. I’d finally found what I’d heard others refer to as “a calling”. I knew this is what I was born to do. Everything in my life had lead me to this point, and I don’t regret that. It was a necessary passage for me. Once I realized this, I became aware that I’d have to give it my all; more than anything I’d ever done previously. I’d have to delve into more than just the nuts and bolts of learning to write, but also understand the business of writing and publishing. I’m kind of an all or nothing girl.

One of the first things I had to do was decide what I wanted to write about, and once I had that germ of an idea, I wrote out a very brief outline, in point form. Then I had to decide whose point of view the story would take. Now remember, I had no experience, and hadn’t been able to afford the writing courses I was sure I was going to need. Instead, I do what do best; I began researching what POV (point of view) was on the internet. I’d heard the term, and was pretty sure I understood it, but wanted to check. I learned the best way to determine POV, for me anyway, was to start writing and see whose voice came through first. That first chapter taught me that I prefer to write in Third Person Narrative, at least for this book. It felt easy and natural for me, which is why I chose it. The other POV options are: Second Person Narrative, and First Person Narrative.

Whose eyes are you looking through?

Whose eyes are you looking through?

I also learned from my research to stay with one POV per chapter, to allow the reader to follow along a little easier. This made sense to me. I’d read books where there was a lot of “head hopping”, and found it confusing, so wanted to avoid this mistake. It also simplifies the writing, since essentially you are writing “as” one character, not multiple characters. It allows the writer to see the world through one character’s eyes and mind at a time. When I got to the next chapter, I could switch perspective and choose to “become” the other character, and explore their world. As the story evolved, so too did the characters, in part because I’d had sufficient time to understand who each of the characters were and their purpose. As I wrote, I was able to begin drafting a profile of each character, i.e. hair and eye colour, occupation, family members, if needed, needs and drivers, etc.

I know many writers who do complete, complex story and character outlines before actually beginning to write the story. I’m not one of them. I tend to think as I type, and let the story and characters evolve. I guess I figured that’s what editing is for. That’s when you get the chance to go back and re-visit each aspect of your work and modify it as you think is needed. Editing is also where I go back to make sure I’ve stayed with the right POV throughout the chapter. I have definitely caught myself “head hopping”, or losing the original POV I’d started out with at the beginning of the chapter. This is most likely because life gets in the way of writing. I have a husband, family, and outside obligations that can and do interrupt my writing time. It’s very easy to forget where you are in the writing process and pick up where you hadn’t intended. I also don’t set time or word count limits on myself. Although I usually wrap up a writing session at the end of a chapter, again, life sometimes gets in the way and I need to stop before the end of a chapter. Rather than go back and re-read an entire chapter, I’ll also often go back a couple of pages to refresh my mind on where I was, and start where I left off. I know, many writers would likely shudder to think of doing this, but it works for me. Again, I figure if I’ve messed up, I’ll fix it when I get to the editing stage. During the first draft writing, my goal is to write, not edit. It may be very different for each writer, and each one must choose what works best for them, their personality, and their lives. I do what I do because it’s how I work best. I know this, and don’t fight it.

Oddly enough, I’ve recently heard a few people who know me well say that one character or another sounds like me, but doesn’t fit with their vision of the character. That’s a tough one, since as the writer, I can really only write as me, or should I say, variations of me and my personality. We all have inner voices and are multi-dimensional. Writers simply take all those dimensions and put them into a story. We do occasionally have a certain person we know of, or have read about, and imagine their POV, but again, it really comes down to how the writer perceives those characters. I suppose each point of view, each character, is really my own, but manifests in different forms and voices. It’s a fun and exciting thought.

Communicating

Communicating

To me, writing is really just another extension of my desire to communicate with others. Even though I can, and do, speak publicly on a number of topics, I’m actually an introvert. I prefer smaller groups and intimate settings rather than loud, boisterous gatherings. It sounds strange, but I’d rather be up on the stage speaking, than standing in crowd. Writing also allows me the opportunity to express different thoughts and ideas, and explore new adventures with exciting characters who live far more exciting lives than I do myself. Because of my love of travel, I tend to seek out settings that are far removed from where I currently live. This is not because I don’t love where I live, I most certainly do, it is just that when I write, I want to reach beyond where I am and learn as I go. Just as with choosing POV in writing, choosing the setting is just as important to the finished product. However, choosing the setting for a story is another blog post I’ll address next time.

The next time you read something by an author, be aware of and think about the POV the writer has chosen. Did you enjoy it, and if so, why? If not, why not? If you are a writer, do you have a favourite POV? If so, why?

Please do take a moment to comment in the comments section to share your thoughts and ideas. If you enjoyed this post, please consider sharing with your social networking circles. Thank you.

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I'm A Writer

I’m A Writer

I’m a writer, but I’m also a business person. My writing is a creative process that results in a tangible product that can be bought and sold. I am the CEO of my career, if I want one. It doesn’t matter whether or not I have a publisher, editor, agent, or pr manager, the buck stops with me. As a consumer of books, I already know that readers hold me ultimately responsible for the product I put out there, and are judging my value as a writer with each and every book I write. That’s a lot of pressure!

 

One of the things writers learn very quickly is that we are also responsible for getting the word out about ourselves and our work. Readers want to know about us, and many like connecting with the writers whose work they’ve come to enjoy. That’s very cool. But as great as that is, we also need to connect with other writers and industry professionals on a regular basis. Writing is lonely work, so when we reach out and meet others who are as invested in this business as we are, we learn and grow as individuals and as professionals. That’s where social media is a tremendous boon. In fact, it is an important tool for anyone in business.

 

The ability to easily and cheaply connect with others who share our likes and concerns on a global platform is something entrepreneurs have never been able to dream of before. By forming meaningful relationships via social media, we enhance our ability to do more than sell a product or service. We enable relationships of various levels to grow. Consumers can easily connect with providers and build the necessary trust levels that help a business grow and develop over the long term. This is no different for writers who take their work seriously.

 

Over the course of the past several years I’ve been writing, I’ve made some terrific connections via social media venues such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads. Other industry professional’s blog posts have proven to be tremendous sources of information and resource for me. Each of these on-line resources provides its own unique brand of communication.

 

For example, LinkedIn is used primarily for businesses, but there are a ton of LinkedIn groups dedicated to writers and readers. No matter what your business industry is, you can share ideas, concerns, industry related news, etc. In fact, through LinkedIn I was connected by a podcast host, Adam Scull, of Eat, Sleep, Write, who invited me to participate in a podcast interview. Adam’s podcast is dedicated to writers and readers, and since its inception, has grown by leaps and bounds. Not only did I enjoy the experience of doing my first podcast interview with Adam, but it allowed me to experience an entirely new medium of communication I’d never heard of, let alone dreamed of contributing to.

 

I hear so many people denigrate Facebook, but if used correctly, it’s a fabulous tool for staying and keeping connected. It’s also a great medium for building relationships with others who share your interests in business, and reach new consumers. I’ve “met” some incredibly talented people on Facebook who are writers, publishers, readers, editors, playwrites, etc. Now, I’m very judicious when I accept people to Facebook. I don’t accept everyone who requests it. I make a point of visiting their own pages before deciding whether or not they are the kind of people I’d like to connect with. People like Jonathan Gunson, Christina Hamlett, Joanna Penn, and others who are avidly involved with my chosen career of writing bring so much depth and knowledge that I just don’t have yet. Their generosity in sharing their experiences, industry information, and ground-breaking industry news makes my life easier, and more interesting. On a personal level, these industry connections help me realize that we’re all in the same boat, battling the same issues, and learning from one another. The funny jokes, inspirational quotes, and personal touches help make writing feel less isolating. We are part of a community. And that’s the crux of the matter. In business, any business, you need to reach out beyond your product or service and become part of your immediate and global community. Human beings generally crave connectivity, and social networks enable this on a grand scale.

 

Beware of Pitfalls!

Beware of Pitfalls!

But there are pitfalls that many people fail to see before it’s too late, even with something as “harmless” as social media. I can’t begin to count the number of times I’ve seen a posting by someone, family, friend, or industry professional, that is just plain offensive, rude, or unprofessional. I remember reading something a while back that stated you should never post anything on social media that you, literally, wouldn’t mind the world reading about on the front page of your local newspaper. If you are in business, you don’t want your followers gaining a poor opinion of you because you posted a picture of yourself drunk and disorderly on Facebook. On LinkedIn, the expectation is that members will comport themselves in a business-like manner and not be offensive, confrontational, or rude. On Twitter, the same holds true. You are what you write and post.

 

As a business person, you want to be sure that the message you are putting out there on social media reflects the image you want others to have of you and your product or service. It’s so easy to screw it up with one or two really ill-advised posts, tweets, or comments. Remember, these venues all just provide brief snapshots of who you are, so you’re going to be judged, rightly or wrongly, by what you put out there. A good rule of thumb is to have two Facebook accounts, one for personal, meaning family and friends, and one for business. This keeps the two areas of your life a little tidier, and hopefully lessens the chances of a poor image of you.

 

Blogs are terrific for a number of reasons. I read other blogs because they share information I don’t have, or I resonate with the message they are putting out there. Through blogs I’ve discovered more blogs, other writers, and industry information websites that are really useful in helping me grow my knowledge base and craft. That’s important to me. I now follow a number of blogs regularly, and although I may not read every single blog daily, I do read at least one a day. I’ll comment on posts that I’ve enjoyed, and share my own opinions. Remember, writing is lonely, so it’s nice to have a virtual gathering place to express and share ideas and information.

 

Writing a regular blog takes me about 1- 2 hours every two weeks, depending on research etc. If you want to develop a blob for your business, great, but make sure the content continues to remain regular and consistent. I hate it when I visit a new website or blog, only to find the content is out of date or months old. You have to give people a reason to visit you again. If you’re a boring host, you won’t have many visitors. Of course this takes time, but it’s time well invested. More and more companies are realizing the benefits of building a community of followers who are interested in learning more about them, their industry, how-to’s, etc. When something new is happening within your company or industry, you can share it with your followers, and become a trusted ‘expert” in your field. Blogs also invite readers to participate by posting comments, which in turn invites others to likewise share and contribute. This sharing of ideas quickly builds a community of people who all share an interest in your topic. For businesses, it doesn’t get much better than this.

 

Twitter is great for sharing short blasts of information and ideas. It’s a fun way to keep in touch with others who share common interests, and allows business entrepreneurs to share new information or updates on their products and services. A tweet about a book launch goes around the world in seconds, and is completely free, as are all these other e-venues. The ability to attach a link, photo, or video makes sharing this type of information incredibly easy. What a great business tool! But again, be careful what you share. People are watching and judging you by the content you choose to share.

 

Goodreads is an amazing place to share information, book reviews, and participate in discussions on books with writers and readers. You can post and read reviews of books, and discover new writers in any genre. You can connect with writers directly, ask questions, participate in virtual book clubs, and indulge your love of the literary world to your heart’s content. I’ve discovered some incredibly talented new and seasoned writers through this site, and have been thrilled to receive some really wonderful, thoughtful reviews of my own work. For a writer, Goodreads is an invaluable tool not to be overlooked.

 

But do you have to spend copious amounts of time on social networks in order to connect and share your information? No. On average, you only need about ½ an hour to an hour total to dip into each of these areas daily, review what’s being said on each of them, share, comment, or like just a few, and move on. Be forewarned though, it’s easy to get drawn in and distracted, and writers are notoriously easy to distract. By setting scheduled time limits for each networking activity, it can be easily managed. If after your real work is done and you want to go back and “visit” again, go for it and have fun.

 

Never fear

Never fear

Rather than fear social networking, by embracing it in a professional, realistic way, I’ve discovered a whole new world of people whose work and opinions I’ve come to respect and enjoy. Hopefully, they feel the same about some of what I share as well. Being able to communicate on a global stage, instantaneously, is a lot of fun, but it comes with responsibility. I encourage people to join the on-line communities, but please, be respectful.

 

I always welcome comments and would love to hear your thoughts on social media for business and for pleasure. If you enjoyed this post, please consider sharing it with your circles. Thank you.

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Sell! Sell! Sell!

Sell! Sell! Sell!

 

We are bombarded daily with ads wanting us to buy this product, or that service. The ads come on our televisions, tablets, phones, billboards, and in the venues we frequent for shopping. It seems everyone wants to sell us something, and this can be tiring. Sometimes, it’s even downright annoying.

 

Before I began writing novels, my background was in commissioned real estate and mortgage sales, so I understand the concepts and drills of selling. I was never the “hard sell” type though, which is perhaps why I got out of that business. I loved working with people, and putting pieces of the puzzles together, and although I met some wonderful, conscientious sales reps, I got tired of dealing with so many disreputable “professionals”.

 

I also wasn’t driven enough to succeed. I liked the work, but didn’t love it. So, I quit. I drifted around a bit, unsure of what really fit me, my personality, and my skill sets. I kept looking for something that excited me and drove me to want to succeed. There were plenty of things I could do, just not a lot I wanted to do. As a result, my finances suffered, as did my self-esteem. I just couldn’t seem to figure out what I was supposed to do with my life. I felt like a failure. I pretended it didn’t bother me, but it did.

 

I was asking for a lot; I wanted to do something meaningful to me, but couldn’t figure out what. I wasn’t making the logical connections. Then I discovered writing, and all the pieces finally fit. This is what I’m meant to do. More than that though, I began to realize that all those years in sales weren’t wasted. Before that, I worked as an office administrator, so I can type and organize an office pretty well. I’d need my experience in sales and office admin to help me write, market and promote my books. I already had the basics, and I made another connection; it’s all about building relationships.

 

Making it all fit

Making it all fit

When I’d been in sales before, I loved building relationships with my clients and other industry professionals. I’m good at it, and it comes naturally to me. I don’t have to force it at all. Writing is just another way of building even more relationships. I’ve been able to do this not only through readers, which is fantastic, but with other writers and publishing industry professionals all over the world. Sure, I want book sales, who doesn’t, but I love connecting with others on various levels. I’ve discovered so many people out there who are like me; they’re connectors. They love to share the knowledge they’ve gained, and enjoy the connections they’ve built over time. Seth Godin posted on his blog recently about this very subject, which is what got me thinking. He’s absolutely right; it isn’t about the short term gain, it’s about the long term goal.

 

People like Jonathan Gunson, of Bestseller Labs, Molly Greene, Jane Friedman, and Joanna Penn all share the wealth of their knowledge and experience with others freely and openly on their blogs and websites. Well known writers like Hugh Howey, Sylvia Day, and many others are breaking down the walls and sharing industry insights and hard won know-how with other writers climbing the ladder behind them. They’re actively changing the face of publishing in very real, tangible ways, and are encouraging others to re-examine the options. They’re building relationships by sharing what they know. They provide real value in their writing, and in their websites and blogs.

Believe me when I say that when I see one of these remarkable individuals share something on social networks, I forward and share their words, reviews, comments, and upcoming books and events. It doesn’t matter if I personally read every book they write, although I’ll definitely purchase their work too, because I’ll share with my connections and many of them will.

 

Trust must be earned

Trust must be earned

That’s the power of relationship building. It really goes back to sales 101. We don’t buy things or services because we’re told to, but because we trust that what the vendor has to offer will fill a need we have, or solve a problem we’re dealing with. Books are no different. They educate and entertain readers the world over, and writers work hard to bring them to light. That’s why it frustrates me when I hear writers say they hate marketing and promotion. They haven’t made the connection between the product, which is the book, and the message they are trying to convey, or the story they’re trying to tell.

 

I look at sales from the stand point of making connections and building relationships. That way, book marketing, promotion, and learning about the industry I’ve become avidly interested in, becomes much more fun. Social networks have taken on a new meaning for me. Not only do I keep up with family and close friends there, but I also connect with others interested in the same things I am. I learn and grow from other writers, publishers, editors, and agents. Public speaking has given me a forum to talk about my writing, publishing, and my books, but it’s also opened doors to other topics I’m keenly interested in, such as overcoming the fear of failure, and women’s issues.

 

Again, it’s all about making the connections. First, to figure out what I was looking for in my work career, then how to use what I already know to advance that career and connect with others, and finally, to learn more about writing, publishing, and book marketing. I’m not selling anything; I’m simply sharing my work and my words with anyone who’s interested. I don’t have to do the hard-sell. I just have to be me, and that’s easy, flaws and all.

 

I welcome comments, so please do share your thoughts on this issue. If you enjoyed this blog post, please consider sharing it with your social circles. Thank you.

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Support breeds success

Support breeds success

Over the years, I’ve had to face many personal and business obstacles. Writing has proven to be my most challenging, and rewarding endeavour to date, but it comes with many obstacles and a host of naysayers. For instance, at a family event recently, a well-to-do family member made a comment to my husband about my writing, saying that although he understood my “passion” for writing, cautioned my husband against really believing it would ever be a financially viable venture. When I heard this, I was furious, both because this family member was unwittingly trying to undermine my husband’s faith in me, and because he was demonstrating what I’d encountered several times before with close friends and family; disbelief that what I was doing would ever amount to much of anything financially.

I’ve worked in commissioned sales for over ten years, and I know from experience that this kind of thinking is detrimental to the success of those who work in this type of career. Writing works very similarly; the writer works his/her buns off to get a project published, endures a great deal of rejection and trials, and only gets paid if the book becomes a commercial success. To be a writer, you have to develop pretty thick skin. You have to believe that what you are writing matters and has value to others. You have to believe in yourself as well as in your dreams. This is no easy task.

Snoopy writingThose who are close to writers don’t always understand what we do. They think we’re playing at an intriguing “hobby”, or worse, wasting our time. They don’t understand that toiling for hours upon hours, days, weeks, months, or even years, and seeing little financial profit is really laying stepping stones to success. Writing is like every new business; you have to be willing to invest the time, blood, sweat, and tears to build a brand and fineness the business model. Many writers work full time jobs and write every spare moment they can in order to create the platform they’ll use. The learning curve is tremendous, and in today’s constantly shifting landscape of book publishing, it’s even more difficult.

This doesn’t stop the true writer, or entrepreneur though. What family members, friends, and others who share the sentiments, don’t understand is that true failure comes when we becomes so downtrodden and unsupported, or disillusioned, that we cease trying. The other thing that often happens to writers, is that they fail to understand that writing and book publishing are also a business. If writers fail to understand how the business operates, learn the tools, and utilize them effectively, they’ll become disillusioned and fail to succeed.

In truth, this goes for everything in life. So what can you do when faced with naysayers and obstacles to your goals for the future? First, stop and take stock of where you are in the process. Make a list of all the things you’ve done to get to that point, and where you want to be. If you’re way off the mark, you may have to adjust your trajectory. That’s okay. No road to success is ever without misjudgements, hills and valleys. Your job is to find ways to continue moving ahead in a direction that leads you closer to the goal.

Pushing a boulder up a hill

Pushing a boulder up a hill

When starting any new venture, it’s very easy to underestimate what’s involved. That’s because human beings don’t come equipped with a GPS map to the future. It’s also why most financiers advocate creating a business plan that would address any potential obstacles and force the entrepreneur to pre-think of ways of seeing and dealing with those obstacles.

In life, we tend to move merrily along on our path, until faced with opposition. Only then do we stop and realize that the path we’ve been walking has veered too far to the left or right. The smart person takes stock of the opposition, learns everything he/she can about it, and adjusts the path accordingly by going through it, over it, under it, or around it. Some might also enlist the help of others to remove it from the path altogether, to allow them to continue forward. There are always solutions, but first you have to understand the problem. Same goes for writing. I keep hearing from writers that they’re “artists” and don’t want to do any of the work associated with marketing and promoting their work. They want to let others do it for them, or worse, do nothing at all, believing that if their work has merit, like cream, it’ll rise to the top. This is a fallacy. You have to be willing to step outside your comfort zone and risk taking on new challenges. You have to be willing to accept that others aren’t going to understand you or why you’re doing what you do. You have to take responsibility for ensuring your work gets noticed and demonstrate why consumers want to purchase the product or service. You have to be willing to forge your own path, irregardless of the obstacles.

I recently met a fellow London, Ontario writer, Sunil Godse, who contacted me via the social media, LinkedIn. As a business mentor, he often counsels managers, CEO’s and struggling entrepreneurs about the benefits of learning from their failures, and how to turn those failures into successes. Because of the many stories he’s heard from his clients over the years, he decided to write a book about it, entitled, Fail Fast, Succeed Faster. As a savvy businessman, he knew writing was a whole other animal to his usual work, and so he enlisted, and solicited, as much help as he could get.

A few weeks before his book launch, he contacted me via LinkedIn and asked if I had a few moments to talk to him about writing and publishing. At the time, I had no idea what his subject matter was, but in the spirit of paying it forward, I agreed immediately. When we finally set up the date and time for a telephone call, I was surprised and impressed with what he’d accomplished so far, and intrigued with his subject material. In fact, I had just penned a blog post earlier that week on the subject of benefiting from failure and achieving success. A coincidence? Perhaps, but in talking to Sunil, I began to realize that he’d approached his book project like a business. He’d researched every aspect of the book publishing industry, worked with a qualified co-writer, hired a professional editor, cover artist, web designer, and after careful consideration, decided to self-publish his book. Honestly, I was impressed and wasn’t sure what I could offer him in the way of advice. In speaking with Sunil, it became quickly apparent that this was a man willing to listen and learn from others. He’d talked to heads of national corporations, new entrepreneurs, and everyone else he thought might have an interesting story or ideas to share. He initiated the contact to perhaps learn something from me about the writing and publishing business, and in doing so, taught me something in return; ask the questions, learn the processes, be invested in doing the task right by hiring qualified people, and ask for assistance when needed.

Bruce Croxon and me

Bruce Croxon and me

When we finally met at his book launch two weeks later, I was again impressed. He used his contacts and financial backing to create a great launch, and invited a truly impressive keynote speaker, Bruce Croxon, of tv’s Dragon’s Den. Both men were ready and willing to talk to attendees as much as needed, and I was pleased to have about 5-10 minutes with each. Again, I learned something from each of them, and enjoyed the event tremendously.

Another on-line friend, Jonathan Gunson, of Bestseller Labs, also wrote an interesting blog post earlier this week that really resonated with me, entitled “The Key to Growing Readership: Your “Writer’s” Voice”. This week Jonathan tapped into the subject of overcoming naysayers, keeping your eye on the goal, adjusting the path where needed, and having faith in yourself, your own abilities and “voice”, and believing in the path you’ve set for yourself.

One other thought; when we support others in their goals, we can strengthen our determination to succeed in our own, and sometimes, learn new ways around the obstacles we face in our own lives. Oh, and when I heard what that family member had said, I understood that they in no way thought they were being unsupportive (not consciously anyway), but boy, did it strengthen my resolve to prove to everyone who doubted my writing future that they were WRONG!

If you’d like to leave a comment, please take a few moments to share some of the obstacles in your life, or business, that you’ve successfully overcome.

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 Codi Gary     Things Good Girls Don't Do

Codi Gary                    Things Good Girls Don’t Do

Me: Codi, it’s so nice to finally have you with us on my blog, The Write Stuff.Me. You and I have been following each other, but I’m looking forward to learning a little more about you, your writing, and your passions. *smiles*

 

 Let me start by welcoming you and our audience.

 

Tell me a little bit about yourself, to give everyone an idea of just who Codi Gary is:

 

Codi: Well let’s see. I’m a mother and wife, and I stay home with my kids right now. I grew up in two small towns in Northern California before moving to the city for three years (hated it!) and now I live in Southern Idaho. I love animals (I worked as a Vet Tech for almost seven years) and have a little zoo at my house. J I enjoy reading, writing, TV shows (to the point of obsession), movies, and scrapbooking.

 

Me: That’s terrific, now perhaps you could fill us in on your writing work. What have you written, and what genre would you put it in?

 

Codi: I write small town contemporary romance. My first novella, The Trouble with Sexy, was included in Kiss Me: An Avon Valentine’s Day Anthology and Things Good Girls Don’t Do is my first full length novel releasing this month.

 

Me: That’s fantastic Codi! As a relatively new writer, what obstacles have you had to overcome to becoming a published author?

 

Codi: I am not good at pumping myself (or my work) up because I don’t want people to think I’m pushy or conceited. I’ve had to put that aside to put my books out there because if I don’t brag and talk about them, then how will people find them to read?

 

Me: What are your thoughts on today’s publishing industry, for example, traditional publishing vs self-publishing?

 

Codi: Honestly, Self Publishing Peeps are Rock Stars. They’ve got no one backing them or marketing for them, they do it all themselves! I don’t know if I could do that. I have only ever traditionally published though, and I have to say, I love it. I love having a team of people who know what works and what they’re doing to help me navigate.

 

Me: One of the most frequent questions I get at public appearances is; how did you land a publisher, and did you get many rejections first? You are currently published by Avon Impulse, how did you land them as your publisher, and how has the experience with them been so far? Did you query other publishers or agents, and if so, tell us about it?

 

Codi: Well, with my original book (which will never see the light of day) I queried 8 agents and received 7 rejections. When Avon Impulse put out an open call for Valentine’s Day novellas, I wrote and edited The Trouble with Sexy in three weeks and got the acceptance email in ten days. The experience has been phenomenal. My editor is very supportive and the whole team at Avon are there to help and answer my questions.

 

Me: Don’t you love it when things come together so nicely? Lol What would you say has been your greatest moment of triumph with your writing career so far, and what surprises have you encountered, either good or bad?

 

Codi: Going to RWA and meeting people I have admired for years was amazing, but it was the signing that really made my trip. I got to meet so many people who were so nice and who loved romance with all their heart, and there were even a few excited about Things Good Girls Don’t Do and to me, that was crazy exciting.

 

Me: I guess it would be. What a fantastic experience for a new writer!

 

Another hot industry topic is print vs ebooks, what is your take on these two venues; pros and cons for each?

 

Codi: Okay, I love ebook pricing, I love that I can get it in two seconds if I want it, and I love that it doesn’t clutter my house. However, for books I want to read over and over that I love, I want a print version in my hands. I love skipping ahead to my favorite parts and that’s just easier on a print book. Plus they smell wonderful and I can take them into the bath without being afraid of dropping them and having them ruined (that’s what they make blow dryers for right?)

 

Me: Lol, I get you on that one. What I’m hearing, generally, is that most people who own an ereader, also still tend to gravitate to print books at times, probably for many of the reasons you just gave.

 

Many new writers, including myself, find marketing and promotion one of the most difficult and surprising aspects to becoming a published writer, and sustaining that momentum. What do you do to help promote your work?

 

Codi: I started Have You Read Her to help promote other authors, but also, to help reach other readers as well. I ask advise from authors who have a lot more experience than me, and I am on a lot of social media platforms…some I am addicted to and others are kind of eh for me. Honestly, I have no good answer besides that, I just do what other people say works for them.

 

Me: When you contacted me to participate as an interviewee on Have You Read Her, I was thrilled. It’s great fun and is yet another avenue writers can use to attract new readers, while connecting with other writers.

 

We met through social media, Facebook, Goodreads, Twitter, etc., so obviously you are very comfortable with that technology, as am I, yet I still hear so many new writers say they don’t want to participate in these on-line forums. What words of advice would you give to them regarding social media.

 

Codi: I understand people not wanting to get into social media for personal reasons (privacy) and because it can be overwhelming(headaches galore). However, I just wrote a guest blog post on Social Media and Making connections because honestly, I have found a wonderful community of writers, bloggers, and readers through these platforms and the support is amazing! I love my Twitter/Facebook friends because it doesn’t matter who your publisher is or what you write or if you are still waiting for the call, we share, retweet and bask in each other’s accomplishments. Why wouldn’t you want to get in on that?

 

Me: I couldn’t agree more. I used to be leery of all the social media stuff, especially Twitter, but now I embrace it and, like you, have found some remarkable to connect with I wouldn’t have otherwise.

 

Recently you attended the RWA in Atlanta, how was that experience for you and what did you take away from it? Would you attend again, and why?

 

Codi: I loved RWA and yes I would definitely go back. I loved fangirling my favorite authors and getting to know new ones. It’s interesting to meet the person behind the books. And the readers I met at the Literacy Signing and the other two house signings I attended, they were all so nice and took a chance on a newb author. It was fantastic!

 

Me: I think, no, I know I’m jealous. Lol. Maybe someday I’ll get there.

 

I didn’t start writing until recently, long after my own children had grown and gone from the family nest. I can’t even imagine tackling such a demanding undertaking as writing and attempting to get published while raising young children. How do you balance a young, very active family, and your writing?

 

Codi: Some days it’s tough, not going to lie. Usually I try to get a lot done during my daughter’s nap time, putting a video in for my son, and on Sundays I try to escape for a few hours at my local coffee shop to write in peace. If worse comes to worse, I just tell them “mommy has to work guys” and they watch Netflix in the living room with me as I type. Or there’s the late nights where my husband keeps asking, “Are you coming to bed soon?”

 

Me: That’s amazing, I don’t think I could be that organized or disciplined! Can you give us a little insight into any new releases or upcoming projects underway?

 

Codi: I’m done with my next Rock Canyon Romance and am working on a Matchmaking series. I have a couple of other books begging to be written, but I like to do things in order.

 

Me: Sounds intriguing. I can’t wait to see what you put out there next! What final piece of advice would you give to anyone just starting down this path to becoming a published author?

 

Codi: Take advice from others you trust, get yourself some support (critique group, brainstorming buddy, or beta readers), and go for it! There are so many publishers and opportunities out there, seize the day!

 

Me: Codi, thank you so much for joining us today. It’s been such a pleasure to finally “meet” you and share some of your background with those just discovering you and your work.

 

For those who’ve read this interview, please do take a moment and let Codi and I know your comments or post a question for either of us.

 

To learn more, Codi Gary can be found here:

 www.codigarysbooks.com     

www.facebook.com/codigarysbooks

www.twitter.com/codigary

http://www.avonromance.com/book/codi-gary-things-good-girls-dont-do

http://www.amazon.com/Things-Good-Girls-Dont-ebook/dp/B00BW3AYAU/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1376410945&sr=1-1&keywords=codi+gary

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/things-good-girls-dont-do-codi-gary/1114853858?ean=9780062292926

 

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