Get-out-of-the-slump

Slumping Through a Slump

I’m going to try and be as transparent and honest here as possible. I’m in a slump. My usually frenetically creative mind has been sluggish and foggy. Perhaps it’s postpartum depression, having finished my first novel but whatever it is, it’s gotten it’s claws into me and I’m trying to break free.

We all get in slumps every now and then. The trick is to not get stuck in it, and realize that it will soon pass. I recently read a blog post on Forbes.com about getting out of a slump: The Surprising Way to Get Out of a Slump. The author suggested that “slumps were the mind’s way of making room for the birth of new ideas.” The remedy is just to be patient and…slump it out.

My old way of dealing with a slump is to eat crap and sit on my butt, give in to it and let it over take me. I have to admit I still do a bit of that but I only allow myself one day of slumping. The next day I do one thing to begin the process of forward momentum. Yesterday I cooked a really healthy meal for my family using all organic ingredients since I believe food can be healing. Today I got myself out of the house and forced myself to write this blog post…because I really didn’t want to. Tomorrow I’ll do something else to continue pulling myself out of the slump.

Sometimes you have to wait for the pendulum to swing back, and I believe it will (another important thing is to believe your slump will end). In our society, it’s terrible to just sit around and wait until your slump passes. Do squats! Do push ups! Do the laundry! Do your nails! Just do something! When maybe all you need to do is just BE and allow yourself the time to rejuvenate and you’ll be ready for another burst of creation.

What about you? What do you do when you get into a slump? Tell me in the comments. I’d love to hear from you!

 

The Secret To Yoga Pants

style_114_yoga_pants-_black_side_Many of you who follow me may know my affinity for yoga pants…and not just because I practice yoga every day. I LIVE in yoga pants and they are a staple of my wardrobe. I wear them to drop the kids off at school, to the grocery store, when I write, when I edit, when I do laundry, even out to dinner!

I came across this hilarious video and thought I’d share it with you. It reveals the secret to yoga pants. Just don’t drink while you watch this because you’ll probably spray it all over the screen:

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What Most Writers Forget About Marketing

It’s not about the slick copy, the gimmicky promotions, the sales or deals, or even viral videos. Good marketing is about building relationships with the people who are going to buy your product. I think the reason most writers and authors forget about it is there are so many tactics, tips, and how-tos out there that we get overwhelmed. The other reason may be that relationships take time, and who has time these days?

> Check out my blog series on the “M” Word: Marketing for Writers.

The truth is every relationship is worth the effort because it carries the potential of compound interest. Remember that Faberge Organic Shampoo commercial from the 80s? (Okay, I’m dating myself here). “I told my friends about it and they told two friends. And so on, and so on, and so on…” That concept is exactly why relationship building is so important.

Relationship Building on Social Media
One of my favorite social media mavens (and she’s a fabulous poet too), Rachel Thompson, says it like this:

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Another way I like to look at it is, try to help people. You know more than you think you know and you’ve probably learned what doesn’t work too…so, share that. I also try to put out into the world more of what I want to see like positive quotes, thought-provoking ideas, good things people do and of course, funny cat videos!

You can sprinkle in a few news bits about what you’re doing as well. If you wrote and published a book, people want to know about that. Or if your book got a great review, won an award, or ranked on Amazon tell people! Just keep in mind a general rule of thumb: the ratio between good content and self-promotion should be 80-20. (80=good content, 20=self promotion).

Relationship Building and Reviews
Reviews are gold to authors (especially positive reviews) and the way to get them is to reach out to book bloggers. Once again, it’s all about building relationships.

First, you want to find bloggers in the genre that matches your book. You don’t want to send a request to review a horror book someone who blogs about romance novels.  Once you get a list of bloggers that match your genre, you want to remember that they are busy people. Many times they are overwhelmed with the amount of books they are reading and reviewing so remember that.

A very talented writer friend of mine, Pavarti Tyler, wrote this blog post: How I Choose the Books I Want to Review. She gives a detailed list of Dos and Don’ts from a blogger/reviewer perspective so you can see how best to approach a book blogger.

You also want to remember to follow the bloggers that you establish a connection with on social media so you can start developing a long-term connection with them, especially if you’re writing more books that they’ll want to review.

Relationship Building and Blogging
In this day and age, every author needs a website and a blog on that site. Why? Because your readers are going to want to know more about you, your process, and what you’re working on. It’s your best vehicle for establishing a fan base.

But what the heck do you blog about? What you’re working on, your struggles, your successes, inspiration, anything that makes you laugh, and a little bit about your life outside of writing. Ideally, it’s best to set a consistent cadence for posting to your blog. I try to do it once a week but, man, it’s tough! I don’t go longer than every other week though.

The other thing you can do with your blog is use it like a newsletter. That’s what I do with mine. People can sign up on your site to stay in touch and get exclusive access. We ALL like to be the first “in the know.”

Again, it’s all about building relationships with your readers. Once they connect with you and like what you’re doing, they’ll tell two friends, and so on, and so on, and so on…

 

 

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Stories That Blew My Mind

We become writers a lot of the time because there are books that changed our lives or had a lasting impact on us…and we wanted to try and do the same as those authors did for us. At least, that’s why I became a writer.

There are those books that contain stories that stay with you for a lifetime. They change how you view life, love, and even death. Or sometimes they just make you laugh or cry. Whatever touched you within the pages of these books, they changed you and maybe even shaped who you have become.

There are also books that help shape who you become as a writer but, these are the stories the blew my mind. If you haven’t read any of them, you definitely should consider it. Maybe they will blow your mind too.


The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
I read this book in college and it tore my white bread, suburban perspective on life apart. I knew of course about racism, sexual abuse, and domestic violence but never had I read anything like the tragic story of Pecola Breedlove. There’s a scene in the book that haunts me to this day: a young white boy throws a kitten across the room, slamming it into the wall, while Pecola looks on helplessly. The kitten slides down the wall, limp, and falls on the radiator. The smell of burning hair fills the room. The way Morrison describes the oppression and shame the main character feels watching this happen yet unable to stop it because of her color is seered into my psyche. Everyone should read this book to see where we’ve been as a human race, and hopefully never go back there again.


She’s Come Undone by Wally Lamb
The fact that this book is written by a man is mind-blowing. Period. His portrayal of a woman suffering from the lifelong affects of abandonment, rape, and mental illness is masterful. The main character, Dolores, who has spent her formative years eating for comfort in front of the television finds herself in adulthood tipping the scales at over 250 pounds. She somehow maintains her sense of humor through tragedy after tragedy and ultimately develops the self-esteem she has been missing all along. It was the first book I read that highlighted how people self-medicate with food, and one that did it in a way we could all see a little of ourselves in Dolores.


The Poisonwood Bible: A Novel by Barbara Kingsolver
Anyone who has picked up a book by Barbara Kingsolver and read only a few words knows the artistry and skill of a master at her craft. This particular story is reminiscent of Heart of Darkness. It’s a journey into madness for one ill-fated family fueled by good intentions…and we all know that the road to hell is paved by good intentions. The backdrop is the Congo, which becomes a character of force in the story that slowly wears down the will of the father, Nathan Price, a Southern Baptist preacher, who has decided to take up the mission in Kilanga and convert all the godless primitive heathens to Christianity. The story still sticks with me because of the intermingling of social, ecological, and religious undertones combined with Kingsolver’s details and gorgeous writing. It got me to think bigger, beyond myself and my little world–which is something we should all do from time to time.


The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
The plot is very simple: a fifteen year-old boy finds a dead poodle on a neighbor’s lawn, stabbed with a pitch fork and he begins his search to learn what happened and who did it. But it’s not the plot that makes this a mind-blowing story, it is how the protagonist tells his story. You see, Christopher Boone, the protagonist, has Asperger Syndrome, and sees the world through a very unique lens. The way the author captures this characteristics of this disorder and portrays the character dealing with his world is amazing. You truly begin to understand the struggles people with this disorder must deal with every day in every interaction and relationship. Christopher jumps from advanced astrophysics to the existence of God, from quadratic equations to his favorite animals at the zoo. Christopher’s narrative voice is unlike I have ever experienced and, he makes a wonderful guide through his fascinating journey.

Burnt Edges Available on Kindle

You can get my debut novel today on Kindle!

Set in Southern California during the tumultuous 1960s era, Burnt Edges is the heart-breaking story of Laurel Lee Page, a young girl born into an abusive and violent home. She appears to be living a condemned life but she is determined to find independence and freedom amidst her family’s legacy of hatred and self-contempt. Faced with an unplanned pregnancy at 19 years old, Laurel finds herself in a powerful position, poised to break the cycle of abuse but can she do it?

Click here to get it on Kindle!

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