The student can also be the teacher

Photo courtesy of canstockphoto.com/tang90246

Photo courtesy of canstockphoto.com/tang90246

I’ve spent the last year, researching and learning what it takes to publish a book. After almost a year of doing this, I still feel like there is so much more to learn and that what I know just barely scratches the surface. There are still days when it all seems overwhelming but thankfully, over time, those days are fewer and farther between.

Despite feeling like I’m still a neophyte in all of this, my friend, Adele pointed out, recently, just how far I really have come. She and I attended a Meetup about publishing with an emphasis on what goes into a contract between you and a publisher. During that meeting, I peppered the speaker with questions, and I offered up my experience to others attendees. I didn’t think anything of it at the time, but later, on the drive home, Adele commented on just how much I really know and how easily I am now sharing what I’ve learned.

An author wears multiple hats

Image courtesy of canstockphoto.com/ctjo

Image courtesy of canstockphoto.com/ctjo

When I first considered writing children’s picture books, I envisioned myself at a desk with my laptop or a notebook/pen feverishly creating whimsical rhymes that would later become fabulous bestselling books. That dream still exists, but the reality is that an author is so much more.

What I have discovered during the past year is that in addition to being an author, I am also a:

  • marketing person
  • sales person
  • researcher
  • web master
  • networker

If you want to become a successful author, you need to be able to promote yourself, you need a website, and you need to connect with others in your field.

You don’t have to wear all of those hats, but you’ll increase the likelihood of your success (or so I’m told) if you get all those elements in place. You could hire a team to help you; but given that you may not have any income rolling in, the impetus to “do-it-yourself” can be rather strong.

Coloring outside the lines

colorOutsideTheLines

It seems that most of my life, I’ve always colored inside the lines. What I mean by this is I play by the rules, I follow the instructions, I rarely deviate from the norm. I know that may sound a bit odd to say given the current writing journey I am on, but I think for the most part, I’m a “color inside the lines” type of gal.

The reason I bring this up is because I’ve been following a well-trodden path for publishing my book. I’ve perused many websites, attended writing workshops and read various books on publishing. My take away from all of that was:

  1. You should only contact a publisher if they are a really good fit for your book.
  2. Initial contact for submitting your manuscript should follow strict submission guidelines.

Who takes care of the caregiver?

Image courtesy of canstockphoto.com/Bialasiewicz

Image courtesy of canstockphoto.com/Bialasiewicz

Yesterday was my mom’s birthday and a few weeks back was the anniversary of when she passed away. So, she’s been on my mind lately. In 2004, my mom was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. It’s a devastating disease with a horrible prognosis. I flew to Boston immediately so I could go with my mom for her first visit to her oncologist. One of the first questions my mom asked was “how long?” The answer: 5–6 months.

Receiving news like this is heartbreaking and different people handle it in different ways. As the patient, my mom was stalwart and accepting right from the very beginning. Ever the pragmatist, she believed she had lived a long life; and if this was the hand that was dealt to her then so be it. She wasn’t angry. She wasn’t depressed. She just accepted it.

As her daughter, I was devastated. I didn’t want to watch my mom suffer through any of it. But as a caretaker, I never wanted her to know how affected I was by it. I promised myself right from the very beginning that no matter what happened, I would not look back on this time with any regret. I would be there for her, I would stand strong, and I would take care of her the best way I could even if I was falling apart inside.

Finding life’s sweet spot

Image courtesy of canstockphoto.com/nelosa

Image courtesy of canstockphoto.com/nelosa

A couple of weeks back, I had lunch with my friend, Kathy. We try to catch up every 2–3 months. She has been following my blog. So, she knew I’d been feeling overwhelmed. As always, she was patient, loving and kind as she listened to my woes. She stressed the importance of taking care of myself and being gentle with myself. In other words, cut myself some slack and be okay with not accomplishing everything I want to do. Figure out the priorities and let other stuff go. The question is How do I do that?

Kathy gave me a newspaper article. The article was titled “A balanced life: productive people hit the ‘Sweet Spot’ without being busy.” The article interviewed Christine Carter, the author of the book “The Sweet Spot: How to find your groove at home and at work.”

The book teaches you how to achieve more by doing less! It shows you how to find that balance in your life where everything flows smoothly. Life’s sweet spot is the optimum combination of factors that produces ease and happiness rather than stress and exhaustion. Sounds awesome!

I wish my dog could talk (part 2)

Bryce and his mom

Bryce and his mom

Since the beginning of December, things have been up and down with Bryce. He has his good days and he has his bad days. The good news is we have the arthritis under control. The bad news is the coughing and breathing issue is still a work in progress. The frustrating news is the colitis could be under control with food, but Bryce really hates the food. Trying to cope with all these issues is causing me to lose sleep … literally!

Changing up your work environment

Photo courtesy of http://www.canstockphoto.com/lightwavemedia

Photo courtesy of http://www.canstockphoto.com/lightwavemedia

I wrote a good portion of this week’s blog while sitting at Panera Bread with 3 people I had just met. This was my first meet-up for writing and it’s called “Shut Up and Write.” The premise is to dedicate a certain amount of uninterrupted time to writing. In this case, it was an hour.

Prior to coming here, I wondered if I could really get any work done in a public place. In school, I had never been one of those people who could study in a noisy area. I always found a quiet, out of the way spot in the library or an empty classroom where there would be complete silence and no distractions.

There are multiple reasons why people gravitate to public areas to do their work:

  • Some crave the interaction with other people.
  • Some need to get away from the distractions at home.
  • Others may need the Wi-Fi available.

For me, I needed a venue outside my home to get away from the distractions of my dogs and the chores that never seem to go away. Plus, I thought it would be interesting to see if sitting with other writers would motivate me to write for one solid hour.

What kind of mindset do you have?

Image courtesy of canstockphoto.com/michaeldb

Image courtesy of canstockphoto.com/michaeldb

My friend Adele recommended a book to me called Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, by Carol Dweck. The premise is that there are 2 mindsets: a “growth mindset” or a “fixed mindset.”

People with a fixed mindset believe that their personality, ability, and talent levels are permanently fixed at where they are at. This limiting belief therefore hinders their performance and actions.

People with a growth mindset believe that hard work along with the desire to reach beyond their current personality, ability, or talent levels will result in noticeable improvement.

At first glance, I said to myself I have a growth mindset. In general, I believe that is true. I’ve always felt that I can do anything that I set my mind to. But, when I really stop and think about it, I realize that that is not entirely true.

Going down the rabbit hole

Image courtesy of canstockphoto.com/vicnt

Image courtesy of canstockphoto.com/vicnt

Have you ever heard of the expression “going down the rabbit hole?” It’s when you start off on a quest towards a goal and then get sidetracked by something which causes you to change direction multiple times along the way. Eventually you end up somewhere you didn’t expect, typically without having satisfied the original purpose of the quest. A classic example is when you surf the Internet. You start off with something in mind but pretty soon it’s 2–3 hours later and you still haven’t found what you were originally looking for (nor, I might add, are you even still looking for it!).

I wish my dog could talk

My precious dog Bryce

My precious dog Bryce

Over the last month I have been dealing with dog issues. My dog, Bryce, is 12 1/2 years old. As a senior dog, he has all the typical ailments that come with elderly dogs as well as a few extra for good measure. He has:

  • arthritis
  • dry eyes
  • chronic bronchitis which makes him cough incessantly
  • colitis
  • and he’s a little hard of hearing

For those of you who have pets, you know they are like your children. You do everything you possibly can to ensure they are happy and have a good quality of life. And when you fall short of those 2 goals, your heart rips in half.