This week we try to nut out our own personal author values, and try to distill down a mission statement for each of us as authors. We believe that defining your core values as an author will help you make decisions in your author career, keep your focus longer, and keep you sitting down in your chair, writing those books!
We talk about the pros and cons of a mission statement, why Wendy doesn’t like them, and why we think they’re valuable for you as an author. We talk about what Joanna Penn and Susan Kaye Quinn say about mission statements, and go through the process of creating one for Cheryl that means something to her as an author.
Where are you? What stage or you at?
If you’re overwhelmed? Perhaps a mission statement can help filter out the decisions that are most important to you. Often, it is seen as a tool for corporates but is similar for authors.
What are you core aims and goals?
What are your ultimate aims?
What gets your butt in the chair?
Don’t worry about making your mission statement formal. Start with jotting down your thoughts. Play with it until you are happy that it represents you. It should be something snappy – a few sentences or a paragraph.
A mission statement is personal to you. Feel free to keep it to yourself.
Wendy doesn’t get in to this stuff, she hates anything to take herself away from writing. Seeing as how she is a star, we feel that she’s already on the right track. However, she does appreciate that it can help a lot of people.
Joanna Penn’s advice:
Ask yourself what you do? What happens when you sit down to write.
Who do you do it for?
Why are you so different? (Your unique selling point)
Where are you going and what are your goals?
How are you going to get there? Focus on the skills that you have that will get you there.
Susan K Quinn
Your mission statement will change but your fundamentals will stay the same
Drink coffee and make stuff up.
To be a member of a community.
To be a teacher to encourage my students to be more than they think they can.
To have fun in my journey in life and learn from my mistakes.
Cheryl’s Mission Statement which we brainstormed:
Writing and sharing quality books about family, love and resilience, I use humor and empathy to help my readers escape to new places.
A little thing for you to do – Patricia McLinn’s workshop idea
Take out 3 pieces of paper and jot down the 3 key reasons why you write.
Don’t belabour it.
Now throw away 1 piece of paper. Happy? Probably not.
Now throw away another piece. It’s hard, but just do it!
You have one piece left, right?
This is the real reason why you write!
This week we have a meaty topic for you! We go in-depth and take a look at our fears, the mental stuff that’s stopping us from getting ahead.
We all have fears, from the rational ones that motivate us and keep us going, to the irrational fears that keep us awake at night (and me out of the swimming pool – I swear, Jaws could be in there). This episode is about recognising those fears and lessening their power over us as writers, by naming them, and focusing on ways to overcome them.
We look at the fears that have stopped or hindered us in our writing careers, how we got over them and how you can too. We also talk about the fears we still have, and the ones we wish we had!
Wendy hates this kind of episode, so if nothing else, you should listen to it just to hear her squirm… 🙂
Acknowledge and understand your fears, or you will never learn to deal with them!
Ask the why questions!
Cher’s fears –
- She fears that no one will want to read her books once she publishes them.
- Self-doubt, that she has given up a steady income for an unstable one.
Shar’s fears –
- Fear of being found out to be a fraud.
- That she’s going to write, and people are not going to want to read her work because for so long she’s believed that she will be a writer.
Wendy’s fears –
- She’s afraid that one day she’ll wake up and her books have stopped selling, and the life she now lives will no longer exist.
- Imposter syndrome keeps motivating and driving her to write more and achieve more success.
Trudi’s fears –
- Thinks her writing is not good enough.
- Fear of failure. What if I’ve done all this work and it’s not enough!
Other writer’s fears are theirs alone! They are facing different demons to you, so don’t take them on.
The SPA Girls handle their fears and issues, by talking to each other. It’s true that a problem shared is a problem halved.
Excuses manifest our fears!
Stop projecting negativity in your what ifs! Problems can be mitigated.
Impostor syndrome (also known as impostor phenomenon or fraud syndrome or the imposter experience) is a concept describing high-achieving individuals who are marked by an inability to internalize their accomplishments and a persistent fear of being exposed as a “fraud”.
Emotions like fear and anxiety have their roots in uncertainty and inexperience.
- Tim Ferris
Name your fear must be before banish it you can
Take the time to do Tim Ferris’s exercise.
We did beginnings last week, so we thought we’d pay tribute to endings this time around… 🙂 Many authors rush through the ending of their book, because by the time they get there, they’re sick of the whole concept… But your ending is what will lead readers onto your next book, so you need to spend as much time on your ending as your beginning! If you write a fizzer that ends too quickly or doesn’t deliver on your promises throughout the story, you’re not going to get lifetime readers who follow your every move.
With this in mind, we talk about chapter endings, and endings for the whole book. We give some ideas on what we do to make sure our endings are as good as we can make them, and give a few tips and tricks on creating the best ending you can!
What’s with Cheryl writing the ending before she gets there! Odd right? It’s not all that uncommon surprisingly. Plenty of writers do it! Remember, no one shoe fits all in this game.
The ending is vital because it is what will make your reader want to buy the next book. You must leave them feeling like they want more!
HEA = Happy Ever After ending. Marriage, life-long love, yadda yadda
HFN = Happy For Now ending. No actual promise of happily every after, but the reader is left with a happy and uplifting note.
Remember the ending is the payoff for the rest of the book. It must make sense to the reader. The characters can’t turn around in the last few pages and do something completely out of character from their behavior in the rest of the book. It has to tie in, and the end is the culmination of all those things, like internal and external conflict, finding a resolution.
Remember, know the rules of romance, if you want to break the rules!
DON’T DISAPPOINT YOUR READER.
We want to relate to the characters also. We want to know that whatever hell we the writers have put them through, they will resolve it and continue to do so in their lives.
Leslie Wanger the writer of Writing Romance for Dummies says – too often the real story ends with the last chapter, but the author adds an epilog just to show the characters have married and their lives are fine. I find this to be anticlimactic.
Wendy sometimes writes her endings on the second draft.
Chapter endings are also important. They will make your reader keep turning the page. Use things like;
Climax, changing viewpoints, dialogue, cliff hangers, and emotional tension.
But remember, what you want to achieve is the need for the reader to keep reading!
-If you are not happy with a chapter ending, then look at changing to another person’s point of view. Sometimes it’s best to use the character who has the most, emotionally, to lose.
In honour of Valentine’s Day, the SPA Girls fought it out to come up with our list of the Best Romance Novels of All Time. Listen to this episode to see if you agree with our choices… 🙂
Ransom, Julie Garwood http://amzn.to/2kNvpph
Angels Fall, Nora Roberts http://amzn.to/2kNHuLd
Mine Til Midnight, Lisa Kleypas http://amzn.to/2kTNzrW
The Duchess War, Courtney Milan http://amzn.to/2kYJ7YA
These Old Shades, Georgette Heyer http://amzn.to/2kxBXtD
Fangirl, Rainbow Rowell http://amzn.to/2kYHeLq
Pride & Prejudice, Jane Austen http://amzn.to/2kTWJ7T
Mercenary Instinct, Ruby Lionsdrake http://amzn.to/2lwwqlC
Bridget Jones’ Diary, Helen Fielding http://amzn.to/2k8A2gG
Outlander/Cross Stitch, Diana Gabaldon http://amzn.to/2kxLCRf
Me Before You, Jo Jo Moyes http://amzn.to/2kYSw2u
Ain’t She Sweet, Marie Force http://amzn.to/2kNBrXc
Devil’s Bride, Stephanie Laurens http://amzn.to/2kTTxch
Dream Man, Linda Howard http://amzn.to/2lwDmiX
Slave To Sensation, Nalini Singh http://amzn.to/2kYZaWy
Secrets On The Sand, Roxanne St Claire http://amzn.to/2lpB5Jt
This week we decided to talk about etiquette for authors; or how to talk to other authors, your fans and your service providers, especially online.
It’s easy to get carried away, to start acting badly in the online space, and we wanted to give you a few tips on how to keep your online relationships strong and healthy. It’s all about treating people as you would like to be treated yourself – a good mantra to use everywhere in your life. 🙂
Be kind to each other. Respect the differences in all of us.
Dealing with people face to face is entirely different from online. Face to face, you can read both body language and expressions. You can see if you are boring them to tears of if you have insulted them!
Online is different. The tone we think we are putting into a post does not always appear that way to someone else, and your meaning can be misconstrued.
If you don’t want it written on your front gate, don’t put it out there (Social media platforms)
You may write the same genre as another writer you know, and that’s great, but your views may differ. Respect each other, and if you have a difference of opinion or don’t relate well to another person, then keep your distance. Do not even think about slandering them online! It will be there for a very long time if you regret it… and you will.
If you have never contacted another writer before, and suddenly appear up on their FB page, asking them to review or promote your book, that’s not a good look. Be a good community member, and others will start to reciprocate. Make contact first, or post positive responses to their posts.
Don’t do to others what you would hate done to you.
If something gets you hot under the collar, sleep on your reply. Don’t retaliate while you’re angry because once it’s out there, you can’t take it back!
Tim Grahl says, ‘be relentlessly helpful!’
Be kind to your readers. They’ve taken the time to buy and read your book, take the time to thank them if they contact you.
Don’t respond to reviews! Good or bad, just leave them alone. There is no win there for you, especially when you are defending your book against a negative comment.
If you are paying someone to do work for you, then pay them on time!!! Also, treat them with respect. This is vital in this industry. If you are using a service provider, again and again, they will be more likely to help you with a deadline, rush job, if you have respected and paid them on time.
If your cover designer, editor or whatever, is asking for information from you, then give it in a concise way. They are not going to read your book, so you tell them what you want.
Do your due diligence, find out what kind of edit you want, and how it works. What should it cost? Make sure you have this information, and then there will be no surprises when the product is ready, and you are invoiced.
Remember Karma – good or bad luck, viewed as resulting from one’s actions.
Be a good community member!
This week the SPA Girls chat to three experienced authors – two Indie authors, and one traditionally published author – about their writing tips, their favourite technology as a writer, and why they all say you need to find your writing tribe to succeed.
Join us as we get the inside story from contemporary romance author Talia Hunter, pacific billionaire romance author Toni Kenyon, and author of 35 Harlequin romances Yvonne Lindsay in this hilarious, informative, and insightful episode into the life of an author. If you don’t come away from listening to this episode with a grin on your face, I’ll eat my hat.
Yvonne Lindsay (USA today bestselling author) – http://yvonnelindsay.com/
Talia Hunter – http://www.taliahunter.com/
Toni Kenyon – http://www.tonikenyon.com/