For New Kindling Members ;-)

079600-blue-white-pearl-icon-business-pen1Some thoughts… Especially for the newer members of Kindling

Let me start by saying WELCOME! Congratulations on joining us and taking action.

I have weekly Skype calls with MCP – Mean Crit Partner. In addition to berating each other for not getting enough work done, we also have long involved conversations about the biz.

Recently, MCP pointed out an issue she was seeing with the newer kindling members. She was right.

So here are my thoughts on it, presented with respect, encouragement, and love.

In the last few months, there have has been a sudden influx of new members, which I think is awesome.

What I am seeing however, is a pattern of newer members looking at where they are now and comparing themselves to the successful members who’ve been at this for over two years.

Obviously, this is a disservice to everyone, especially the newer members. It’s very hard to make progress when you are imposing unrealistic expectations on the learning curve and on your own performance.

Also, members are seeing experienced members putting many resources towards advertising… Certainly advertising has its place, but, in this Long Game, you need enough products to make the advertising time worthwhile.

In the long game, this is all about Butt In Chair writing… Producing the widgets you need before you advertise. It is about developing your writing skills. It is about learning to meet readers expectations.

I recently attended a pretty expensive (for me) webinar by Michael Bunker. He used the term *brute force marketing*. His point was that any *brute force marketing* should come AFTER book creation.

For example, Facebook advertising is only gonna be good for… How long? Already we’re seeing some major changes.

If you have delayed your BIC time in order to market what you currently have, when the bottom drops out of FB advertising, you will have lost irreplaceable BIC time…

In the Long Game, it’s all about reaching critical mass and that can ONLY be done with BIC.

Please note, I’m not saying don’t use *brute force marketing*. I am saying to use it ONLY after you have written your daily quota.

What I’m seeing over and over again is the need to understand the ramifications of the Long Game. It’s hard. We look at a year’s production and think OMG! The fact of the matter is here in the US, Long Game is your lifetime +70 years. In that context, a year’s production is a blink of the eye.

So a couple of points to consider while I wrap this up because I need to get back to… BIC

1) BIC/writing comes first ALWAYS!

2) do your research so that you can meet the market’s expectations

3) learn to think in Long game assets — content, not Short Game delivery type — eBooks

4) don’t be quick to judge success or failure… A series that does not sell now, might find its readers two, three, or even 10 years, from now

5) don’t compare yourself, your writing, or your results with anybody else

6) strive to become a better writer with every sentence you write

7) strive to become a more efficient writer with every sentence you write

8) advertising to promote a small number of products, is Short Game thinking, no matter how successful Don’t sacrifice Long Game assets, for short term results

9) plan the work and work the plan

10) avoid BSOs (Bright Shiny Objects)

11) don’t drop a Long Game plan for short-term results (Note: Select lasted less than a year as a tactic, KU looks to be about the same or less)

If you aren’t a member of Kindling, I recommend it as the best fiction writing for profit resource out there… with an AMAZING FaceBook group ;-) Click here to check it out. It’s worth every penny!


Economical White Board Option

079671-blue-white-pearl-icon-business-tools1I am visual, and that makes it a challenge. If you want to do a large white board, go to a big box home store or lumber yard and get a 4×8 sheet of shower inclosure stuff (I don’t remember what they actually call it.

Have them cut it on the panel saw <lust in heart for panel saw>

Use screws with toggles and large washers to apply to wall…

MUCHO cheaper than standard white board







The Four Steps of Criticism

079557-blue-white-pearl-icon-business-hourglassOkay gang, let me share with you the painful lessons I learned over three years in grad school while working on an MFA…

A little bit of background here — depending on the course load and projects in process, I averaged a minimum of one critique per week… That’s a MINIMUM…

At the end of every semester — six of them, God help me –there was a full scale portfolio review, where we stood behind our tables, answered questions and responded as faculty, other students, friends and family walked through and commented.

Basically there are four steps in your reaction to criticism — valid or otherwise

1) It’s perfect. I love it. They hate it. What do they know?

2) They are right. It’s total dreck. I hate it.

3) I’ll never design/write/create again. I’m a total failure.

Note – step three has nothing to do about whatever’s been critiqued. It’s all about YOU. Just sayin’

4) Hmmmmm… <tilts head> <takes a fresh look> Hmmmm… Okay … I can see <fill in the blank>, but I don’t agree with <fill in the blank> Maybe if I do this… Wait! No! I know how to fix *this*, but I’m gonna leave *that* alone…

What’s interesting about these four steps, is that stopping anywhere before the end of step four can have disastrous consequences to your ability to be creative…

Stopping at step one — you’re sticking your fingers in your ears and singing “Lalalalalalala”

You don’t want to hear what you don’t want to hear. As a life strategy, that is not particularly effective.

Stopping at step two — what do they know? Really. You DO need to ask yourself what do they know? If he or she doesn’t read in your genre, they probably don’t know much. If he or she does read your genre, and you want to sell in the genre, you probably need to listen.

Note — it is completely valid to give yourself a timeout between step one and step two, just don’t make it too long

Stopping at step three — if you stop here, you probably don’t have what it takes to do whatever it is you’re trying to do. Only you can make that decision. That said, I firmly believe that if you’re motivated enough you can come up with a practical strategy to get yourself through the four steps.

Now that you’re at step four… You need to step back and take as unemotional a look as you can. It’s up to you to make the final decisions on what gets changed and what stays the same. You will get better and better at step four, as long as you can make it to step four.

All of this is part and parcel of what makes being a professional creative, so challenging.

And yes, I promise you, it does get easier and better.


Persistance and Talent for Fiction Writers

079600-blue-white-pearl-icon-business-pen1Discouraged? Some thoughts…

When working as a *creative*, one of the hardest tasks is managing our individual and personal expectations… Some days we are confident, some days we are convinced we suck and everything we touch sucks more, and some days we say FTITCTAJ… (F*** Them if they Can’t Take a Joke)

A large part of what I learned in grad school working on my MFA was that this IS reality… and it will always be reality…

The sooner we each learn to *manage it*, the better off we’ll be…

Here are some ideas that have worked for me

1) Understand that there is no rhyme or reason to it, acknowledge it, and then work around it

Example – when I was freelancing, at least twice a year I had to send out resumes/applications/portfolio packages. I made myself put together my mailing list over several days… making sure that I added theatres to the list on days when I was tentative, days I was confident, and days when I didn’t give a Flying YouKnowWhat…

If I had only done it on tentative days, I would have severely limited my options…

2) It is very easy to focus on what you NEED to learn and overlook all that you HAVE learned… spend some time reminding yourself of the incredible progress you have made so far

3) Create a reasonable and realistic schedule. When you’re working for yourself, it’s very easy to get overwhelmed and allow time to slip away.

Set deadlines, offer yourself rewards…

The key here is to be realistic. What would you ask of an employee? Pretend you are your own employee.

4) Sometimes it helps to give into those feelings of inadequacy. Set the timer. Allow yourself wallow time, but limit it. Two or three minutes is more than enough. Then, back to work.

5) Try to understand what the triggers may be for these negative feelings. Often, once you’ve identified them, it’s easy to laugh and move on. Maybe when you hit a portion of your book that you’re not sure of, this is one of your triggers.

If you know that, it’s going to be much easier to work past that.

6) Don’t focus on everything you have to learn. Put yourself on an education diet. Stop reading all those writing books… Work out a viable percentage. For instance, one writing book for every 10 fiction books in your genre.

7) Manage your need for improvement. Choose one element per book to focus on. Choose one part of the process for several books in a row. Don’t try to learn everything at once. That isn’t a realistic expectation for any of us.

8) Be aware that with every writing session you complete, and every book that you publish, what you have learned will change and what you need to work on will change. This is an ongoing process, try to be flexible.

9) Don’t buy into the Talent Myth.

Success in any creative field is made up of two components: perseverance and talent.

If we take each one and rate it as low, medium and high, and then combine them, there is a clear pattern.

High perseverance and low talent equal success

Medium perseverance and medium talent equal success

High talent and low perseverance equals failure

In my graduate school, all of the undergraduates had to either audition or interview in order to be accepted. The very sad thing was we could pretty much predict who was not going to make it through the program.

And you know who those were?

They were the highly talented ones… Because they never learned how to persevere. Most of us are gonna fall somewhere in the high perseverance and low talent range or medium perseverance and medium talent range. And that’s a good thing.

The brutal reality is perseverance will almost always trump talent.

That’s why all of the jokes about showing up. If you don’t show up, it isn’t gonna happen.

Final thoughts — Is this easy? No, it isn’t, but right now we have been given an unbelievable opportunity…

We can write stories and get them directly to the readers. This has never happened before…

The financial opportunities here are amazing, but only if we can focus on what’s important.

You can’t sell what doesn’t exist.

Write your books.

Write smart.

Put out the best book you can with every book.

Publish it and move onto the next one, making it better than the one before.

Now… Win One for the Gipper!


Story Rescue by Michelle Spiva with Tink Boord-Dill

Michelle and I collaborated on Story Rescue — an amazing course on how to take prewritten fiction plots and make them your own.

Michelle has put together such an impressive package, I decided I needed to give you a tour, so you could make an informed decision about which version was right for you.



A Writer’s Cheat Sheets

When in doubt, draw it out


Cheat Sheets aren’t cheating ;-)

Today (probably after lunch) I have to write a long and involved scene featuring the whole town… It is the town Thanksgiving dinner and there is a lot that needs to happen in terms of plot. It will likely end up being a couple of chapters. The intro is already sitting at 600 words and they are just entering the Cafe. ;-)

To get a handle on this, I have done two things… I have written notes in Scrivener and drawn out a diagram of the building so I know who can see what from where.

The key with writing is to make things as simple as possible for YOU the writer!





You can click on the diagram to see a larger version.

Now…  get BIC (Butt in Chair)  and happy writing!




Starting Your Fiction Writing Journey

I am following an online friend as she starts fiction writing — Tiffany Lambert . Like many of the new authors I interact with, she is running into some common problems.


Having taught a couple of different kinds of design thru the years, I know that these bumps in the road happen with any type of creativity. The folks who push thru will survive, the ones who can’t/won’t will be the ones with unfulfilled dreams…


I try to use my fear/procrastination/reluctance to identify my progress along my fiction path…


As you travel on your fiction writing journey, these fears and their BFF — procrastination, will appear…. repeatedly. In many cases, it simply means that you are reaching a new breakthrough in your writing process or that your subconscious is seeing a problem or Plot Hole.


If possible, your best bet is to make them work FOR you not AGAINST you. ;-)


I spent my early AM walk today alternating between trying to figure out how the heroine escapes from the bad guys (Plot Hole) and bolstering my confidence — reminding myself that the next books ready to go are worthy of publishing… (writing process).


In fiction, as in any creative endeavor, ongoing improvement is an important component, but with it comes the fear that can accompany each breakthrough.


I like to focus on the fact that I have nowhere to go but up. ;-)


I am also trying to focus and avoid BSOs — Bright Shiny Objects, as much as possible.


Because this is a business, albeit a creative one, I am also identifying what I want to accomplish each time… In my first series, I just wanted to go all the way through the process of creating, writing, and pubbing. I succeeded and ended up publishing 5 books — three short stories of various lengths, a short novel and a longer 77K novel.


With my current series, my focus has been on improving presentation — an easy one — I hired a cover designer LOL, the planning process — in this case refining my plotting process using Scrivener and my own Plot Templates (I am having varying degrees of success, but it IS a learning process), and the writing process — improving my writing speed and how I handle drafts.


I look on this as the fiction writer’s version of practicing scales on the piano… once you have the skills down, the action becomes transparent/unconscious — a matter of muscle memory and eye hand coordination and all of my energy can be applied to the creative process — creating the ideas and stories.


The single and most important element in any successful fiction writing career is simple — BIC (Butt in Chair). Without multiple books aimed at the same group of readers, success will not be likely… and the ONLY way to create the necessary books is to write them — this means FINISHING them and PUBLISHING them…


Now… get BIC!