Tag Archives: goals

Imagine If We Could Rewrite Life

What Would You ChangeEvery author will tell you that characters don’t always do what we had planned for them. And stories don’t always stick to the plot points in our outlines. (The nerve of them! Right?)

But that’s fiction. In real life, we can plan better. Prepare. Have each and every minute step mapped out in fine detail, and . . .

Dream on, fellow control freaks.

You don’t need to be an author to know none of that matters. No degree of obsessive organization will stop reality from crashing the party, making everything spin out of control and sending you down a different path.

Yep, I’ve been there . . . and I bet you have too.

It’s hard to believe we’re coming up on the one-year anniversary of my debut novel release. The launch wasn’t perfect—as expected, I’d made some typical newbie mistakes. But I was figuring things out as I went along. And I was excited to be hard at work writing my second novel.

My dreams were coming true, and I was loving life. Ahhh . . .

**takes a deep breath to enjoy the moment**

Now, if life were a novel, this is the part where you’d expect a dubious plot twist. You know, that point where the author messes things up so the characters have to fight to find their “happily ever after.”

And you’d be right.

A few weeks after releasing my book, fate delivered the worst kind of plot twist—a family tragedy. (Read more on that here.)

As a result, so much of the past year has been a numb blur for me. Working a full-time day job, caring for my home and family, taking care of my brother and his house, and later handling his estate exhausted all of my time and energy—both physical and emotional.

There was no other option, I had to add another painful loss and put my writing career aside.

As much as I wish I could delete the past year and replace it with a better chapter, I can’t rewrite life. I can’t undo the events that took my brother or change the hand I’ve been dealt.

But I can revise parts of it—take what I have, learn, grow, make adjustments, and put my journey through life back on the path I’d envisioned—similar to revising an awful first draft. (And let’s face it . . . all first drafts are crap.)

I’ll admit getting back into the flow of writing has been far more difficult than I’d imagined it would be, and it’s quite a struggle at times. In many ways I feel like I’m starting over.

But . . . starting over is SO much better than giving up!

I’m a firm believer that everything happens for a reason, and no matter how hard, I always try to find something positive in every situation. In this case, it’s allowed me to assess my priorities and decide what’s important to me, both as a person and an author.

At times I feel lost in this journey through life, but I’m stronger on the inside having weathered this storm. And I’m finding my way back to my chosen path.

My goals have shifted—along with my plans on how to achieve them—like I’m creating an exciting new version of my life: Awesome Author Career of CJ Andrews v.2.0

And, of course, that means I have some exciting new things in the works . . . which I’d really love to tell you about right now . . . BUT I can’t . . . not yet. Stick around! (Or, even better, click on that little follow button along the side so you don’t miss a thing.) ~CJ

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Who Says Dreams Don’t Come True?

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Shhh . . . and don’t you dare pinch me. I’m not ready to wake up. I am having the most amazing dream . . . so much better than the one I’ve been having for years.

You remember that one? I’m sure I’ve told you about it before—the one where I become a published author and share my fictional stories with the world.

Coming back to you?

Well, this time I dreamed that it actually came true, can you imagine. I went online to shop for a new book, and—what do you mean it’s not a dream? Are you sure?

Ouch! Hey, I told you NOT to pinch me . . . and that was a kinda hard, by the way. But wow . . . look at that.

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You’re right. This isn’t a dream. I’m a published author! I did it!

And I’m still sane . . . for the most part.

Sure, my family and friends will probably tell you I’m not . . . or that I made them crazy along the way with my obsession for perfection and my self-imposed deadlines. But you’re not gonna believe them.

You’re not . . . are you?

Okay. Just checking.  Phew . . .

Anyway, this has been such an exciting journey filled with many opportunities to grow—both as a writer and an individual—and I’m glad you’ve allowed me share the experience with you. Both the highs and the painful lows.

But I’ve weathered those storms, pushed through the times I felt defeated, and finally made it to the port of Published Author. And I’m just getting started.

What’s next, you ask?

My journey continues, of course! I’m entering a new phase of the publishing industry as an indie author-entrepreneur and learning so much more that I did as an aspiring author.

There’s a lot of work to be done. No time now to sit and chat—we need to keep moving! And I already have a few great stories and lessons to tell you about along the way.

Next stop . . . best-selling author.

The Journey Begins Here

I’m sure the road will be bumpy with lots of steep hills, but I’m determined to get there! Fasten your seatbelt and come along with me as I share the challenges, frustrations, and excitement of being an indie author-entrepreneur. 

See you soon!~CJ

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Get your copy of Two Hearts: Beyond Control today at Amazon.com(USA) – Amazon.com(Canada) – Amazon.com(UK)

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Who’s Afraid of the Big Blank Page

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We’ve all been there before. Whether writing a novel, a report, a blog post, or a menu for the week when you don’t feel like cooking. You find yourself staring at the dreaded blank page. The one that’s supposed to capture your brilliant thoughts and ideas as they flow from your fingertips.

The curser sits there, waiting impatiently . . . blinking  . . . blinking . . . still freakin’ blinking. You’re sure it’s laughing at you. Mocking you.

~ Okay, maybe that’s just me. ~

My point is, sometimes the words don’t come. At all. And you begin to wonder if you’ll ever finish your project. Reach your goal.

When that happens, you have two options:

1-You can give up and tell yourself you just don’t have what it takes—which can be a very tempting option at times.

2-Or, you can dig deep and push through, doing whatever it takes to make it to the end.

If you’re wondering which path I chose, you need to get to know me better . . . and I look forward to that.

Failure is my greatest fear, and it’s never an acceptable option. So I’m fortunate to have people around me who won’t let me settle for being less than I can be. Won’t let me give up on my dreams.

I’ve been quiet for a while—too long—but that’s what it took for me to focus solely on my goal and accomplish what I set out to do when I began this crazy journey as a writer. With the amazing support and encouragement of my family, I’ve been able to chase down my dream and turn it into a reality.

Which means, I have exciting news to share! 

I am very thrilled and proud to announce that my debut novel, Two Hearts: Beyond Control, is (finally) with my editor and is planned for release in October.

So what’s next? Plenty of hard work!

While my editor performs her magic, helping me put the last coat of polish on my manuscript, I’m tackling two very important aspects of my book—the cover and the blurb. Sounds easy enough, right?

*sigh* Wrong.

After a week of wrestling with these two beasts, I’ve decided that writing my book may have been the easy part. At least it’s all fun, no matter how big the challenge, because I’m doing what I LOVE to do!

I have a lot to learn about publishing and marketing. And I’ll continue to share my adventure with you right here, so stick around. Our journey together isn’t over yet!

And, of course, I’m still writing and have several exciting projects under way!

  • The second book in my trilogy, Two Hearts: One True Love, is coming along nicely with an anticipated release in Spring of 2017.
  • I’m in the early stages of writing and developing a novella series that will debut next year.
  • And I’m working on a web-based series that will run on this website … watch for that in the very near future.

So far this has been an amazing journey for me, and I’m so happy to have you along for the ride! Hold on tight . . . We’re just getting started!  ~CJ

 

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© CJ Andrews, Daydreamer Press, 2016. All rights reserved.

A New Year, New Goals, and a New Plan of Attack

IMG_1423Happy New Year! . . . and good riddance to 2015. Yeah, I know I’m a week late. I have a really good excuse though!

I’ve been busy writing.

I never make New Year resolutions—those things most people toss around casually with no real intention of following through on.

Anyone can throw out a general statement: This year I’m going to eat healthier. This year I’m going to exercise more. This year I’m going to . . . well, you get the idea. They’re great ideas—great resolutions, but they don’t have a plan to support them. As a result, they’re often a distant memory by noon on January 1.

Instead, I prefer to set goals and make plans.

If I say,  “I want to eat healthier, so I’m going to cut out processed foods and have one vegetarian day each week.” Now I have a goal and a plan, so I’m more likely to follow through. Right?

The same principles apply to writing. Last year, my goal was to finish my book. Period. Did it happen? Um, that would be a big, fat NOPE! Instead chaos, disorder, and distractions reined.

NOT this year. I have a list of solid goals for 2016, and plans on how to achieve them. First up is my goal to finish the first draft of my novel by January 31. IMG_1425

That’s right, you’re not seeing things . . . I’ve attached a date for finally finishing.

The last few chapters will still need polishing before I run them through my critique group, and then there’s the whole revisions and editing phase; but those things will all fall into place once I have a finished story to work with.

This is a huge goal for me, a personal challenge. I need to nail this one to prove to myself that I really am a writer.

I know what needs to happen yet in my story and how many chapters are left to write. I can estimate about how many words it will take to write each of those scenes. Breaking it down, I know how many words I need to get on the page each day in order to reach my goal . . . and it’s a lot more than I’m used to writing.

That means I need to make a few changes in my life. The biggest change: writing my story is now a top priority in my day . . . EVERY day. To make sure that happens, I began getting up early to write first thing in the morning.

Keep in mind that I am not a morning person. The sight of me dragging myself out of bed at four am . . . well, let’s just say it’s not pretty. It’s a price I’m willing to pay though, and the results have been good so far—I am on target to meet my goal.

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January is off to an exciting start, and I’m racing toward the finish line. I can see “The End” in sight. —CJ

2015: The Year of Lessons Learned…and the End of the Foolish Dreamer

 

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I started my blog about six months ago. Since then, I’ve written several posts that talk about my dream of becoming an author. I even wrote a post solely devoted to the idea. (Chasing A Dream) But here’s the thing I’ve come to realize about dreams: most times they’re unrealistic fantasies, things we wish for that will never come true.

Today, that all stops . . . the dreaming, that is. Imagining myself as a writer—seeing myself doing all the things I know a writer needs to be doing—is never going to get me anywhere.

Now, that’s not to say I’ve been foolish enough to think I could sit back all this time, just waiting to watch a miracle happen. I’m saying that I need a different mindset, a better approach, in order to avoid becoming a life-long dreamer.

Looking back on 2015, I’m not at all satisfied with what I accomplished. I’ll even go so far as to say I’m disappointed in myself. The book that I dreamed would be flying off the shelves by the end of the year? . . . well, I’m still not finished writing it.

You can’t win the race before you even leave the starting block.

It’s so easy to get swept up in the excitement of talking to other authors and learning all that they’re willing to share … which is far more than I’d ever expected when I first entered the indie community.

It’s also easy to let all of that become a distraction. With too much energy focused on new opportunities or on preparing for the future, you can forget to focus on the present—for a newbie author, that means getting down the words for my story.

This is where I failed.

At least I managed to learn a lot of valuable lessons this year that will help me reach my new goals:

  • I leaned I can’t do EVERYTHING I want to do, because there just aren’t enough hours in the day. More importantly, I learned to accept that and to prioritize so I can focus on the big pieces of the puzzle.
  • I learned to say no. This is huge, because saying yes to everything other people want or expect me to do for them—or things they think I should be doing for myself—means there isn’t enough time to do the one thing I need to do, which is finish writing my book.
  • I learned that words may sting, but they can only hurt me or kill my spirit if I give them permission to. Having a thick skin is an absolute MUST for authors. While we’re all entitled to our own opinions, people may not always voice their’s in the kindest of manners. I realize this is something I’m bound to run into more as my audience expands, especially after the release of my book. Being able to search for any value in their messages and letting the rest fall away is vital.
  • I learned to believe in myself. I had plenty of refresher courses in trust, honesty, and dependability this year. Some were painful lessons, but they made me a stronger person. They taught me to be confident enough to trust my own judgment and stand up for my ideas and opinions. They taught me to fight for what I want. I won’t be foolish enough to make the same mistakes again.

I can’t change the past, but the future is mine to command. Dreams don’t come true . . . I need to plan and work hard to make them become a reality.

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With the start of the new year closing in, my dream of being an author no longer exists. Instead, I’m eager to move into 2016 with a new set of values and a list of goals, and plans on how to achieve them. —CJ

You Need to Build an Author Platform

 

social-media-961769_640Every writer has heard this phrase. We know it’s a crucial part of our career, whether we choose the indie or traditional publishing route. But what does it really mean?

I could tell you to go ask my good friend, Google. He knows everything and can point you to tons of books, blogs, videos, webinars, and so on that are dedicated to the subject. But . . .

Well, that would leave me with a really short blog post. Instead, I’ll share what I’ve learned over the past year and a half. More importantly, what I’ve learned over the past few weeks.

The first time I heard about building a platform, I was reading a book on successful e-book publishing . . . long before I even started chapter one of my debut novel. At the time, my mind tried to conjure up the image of a physical structure, and it looked like some rickety old wooden tower—something that would easily collapse in a mild breeze.

Looking back, that fragile structure was a pretty accurate representation of my writing venture in the early days. I didn’t have any contacts or friends in the field to lean on for support. No critique partners to make me a stronger writer and storyteller. No mentor to guide me and shove me back on course when I strayed.

There was no internet presence, which should make up the largest portion of an author’s platform. No one even knew I wrote, so there weren’t any readers. And honestly, the idea of someone reading my thoughts back then terrified me, so I didn’t mind.

That’s no longer the case.

Now, a year and a half later, I have a pretty good idea what an author’s platform should look like. From here, it’s just a matter of acquiring all the necessary tools and continually working to build it bigger, better, and stronger every single day.

So, what is this platform stuff all about?

Simply put, it means developing your author brand and image. It means you need to make yourself visible as an author. It’s about networking and making connections—the same key principals that apply to every other business in the world.

That’s right . . .  we need to communicate with other authors, editors, bloggers, artists, readers—

Hold on . . . I need to talk to people? Like . . . strangers? I’m, um . . . I’m pretty sure my parents warned me against that . . .

A lot of writers tend to be introverts, and I’m no exception. We usually have enough characters roaming around in our heads to have long, detailed conversations without needing to bring another actual person into the mix. We’re content to sit quietly on the sidelines of life and listen in, always filing away the information we gather for use in a future story.

Some people, the non-writer types, insist on calling that eavesdropping, but we all know it’s just research. Honest!

Okay, so I finally know what a platform is and what I need to do. That’s progress.

So why haven’t I been doing it? That’s a great question!

I wish I had a good answer. Maybe I was feeling a little insecure, maybe something shook my confidence, maybe the dog ate my homework.

The reason doesn’t really matter. Everyone falls. Everyone screws up. What matters is what we do after the fact—how we learn from our mistakes and use that knowledge to move forward.

I’ve been down the rabbit hole. It’s dark. It’s lonely. And hiding down there is no way for an author to build a successful career. I’d taken the right first steps and set up social media accounts in multiple outlets, but I neglected to actively participate and missed out on so many opportunities to connect with members of the amazing indie community and a plethora of avid readers searching for a new book or a new favorite author.

Big, big mistake! Huge!

But it’s never to late to do things right, so now it’s time for all of that to change!

My journey is back on track. I’m writing every day. I’m focused, and I’m feeling confident and strong. I have a book to finish writing, and I need to build a strong platform that will support it and carry me on to a successful writing career.

The experts all say that a website and blog are the most important building blocks for any platform. You can use the buttons on the sidebar to follow my blog and to connect with me on Facebook and Twitter.

See ya ’round the internet. —CJ

Finding My Way

hawaii-240191_640I’m really bad with directions and get lost almost every time I go somewhere new. So it only makes sense that I’d make a few wrong turns on my journey as an author.

Okay, it was more than a few . . . and they were major detours.

I could sit here and make up all kinds of excuses for my recent absence, some probably valid—family vacation, a new job, holidays, misunderstandings—but the bottom line is that I dropped the ball. I lost focus on my goals and nearly allowed my dream to fade away.

Writers write, right? Or at least we’re supposed to. We talked about that before. (click here if you missed it) But so many things, real and imagined, can mess with a writer’s head. Suddenly, the writing stops, and the downward spiral of self deprecation and fading confidence ensues.

I’ve been lost for several weeks, wandering around the great abyss of a blank page and feeling totally disconnected from anything writing-related. It’s a personal hell that I’m ready to escape.

Over the course of several long conversations, a friend helped me realize where I went off course and dragged me back . . . making sure to bang my head on every rock along the path in an attempt to knock some sense into me.

It worked.

So what’s next? It’s time to get back to work and finish writing my novel, of course! That means committing to set aside designated writing time every day . . . No excuses! And it means finally getting serious about building a strong platform to support my novel when it’s ready to release.

With a new plan in place and a renewed energy, it’s time to put the pedal to the metal—or my fingers to the keyboard—and resume my journey. I’m off to embrace the return of my passion for writing I’d temporarily lost along the way. —CJ

Above All Else . . .

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Dreams are important. We all have them. (you can learn about mine here) But simply acknowledging they exist isn’t enough. We need to do something about them.

Our dreams help us to set goals for our lives—what we want to do, who we want to be, where we want to go.

But it takes more than a dream and hard work to reach your goals. The path we travel on our journey is riddled with tests and challenges to make sure we are worthy of the reward that awaits us. It takes courage—an inner strength to believe in ourselves—to reach our destination. And it takes determination—the drive to forge ahead, no matter what.

Above all else, we must never give up.

As a new writer, there’s always so much to learn and do. One of the most important things is to build an author’s platform. The first time I heard that phrase, I had no clue what it meant…some days I still wonder if I really do.

For the most part, it just means establishing a base of followers on different social media outlets. By blogging, we hope to build a loyal following of fans who enjoy our writing and will eagerly await the release of our books . . . and tell all their friends about them.

I realized the importance of creating a blog, but I couldn’t imagine having anything to say that someone would actually want to read about. (Still waiting for the masses to prove me wrong . . . ) The idea of opening up and writing real thoughts, personal stuff, instead of fiction was somewhat intimidating. There were a lot of things to consider, beyond deciding what image I wanted to portray and what audience I hoped to connect with.

Since you’re reading this, I’m sure you already know I decided to blog about my writer’s journey. So far, I have to admit, it’s been pretty much fun . . . even on the weeks where my journey itself hasn’t been.

Sharing the low points and personal struggles of my life as an author is difficult, but it helps to get them out of my head where they could fester and do a lot of damage to my creative process. I just imagine I’m writing a personal journal that no one else will read and let my thoughts fall to the page.

As a friend pointed out, people really seem to connect with that, which surprised me. Unfortunately, it seems my lowest moments have been the most popular. So either misery really does love company, or those posts are the equivalent of an accident on the highway that everyone slows down to stare at—I haven’t been able to decide which.

The past few weeks were difficult for me. I allowed other people’s actions to affect the way I saw myself. I questioned my value as a writer. I lost my connection to my story.

How could I write about my character’s life when I didn’t care what happened to her? How could I push myself to meet daily word goals when I didn’t care how long it took me to finish my book?

I couldn’t. Instead, I spent a lot of time staring at my screen, or I’d simply pack up and call it an early night.

But I never gave up on my story—it means too much to me, and I’m not a quitter. I just didn’t care about it at the time, and that’s almost as bad as giving up. Almost.

To make matters worse, my muse abandoned me, taking my self confidence with him. Overcoming this has been my biggest challenge. I’ve felt lost and alone, but I’m learning to adjust.

In last week’s post I realized it was time for me to ignore everything around me, focus, and give my story the TLC it deserves. For the most part, I’ve done a pretty good job of that this week.

Today the elusive chapter 25 that I’ve been stuck on forever is going up for review in my critique group, and I’m really excited about the way it turned out. It’s a small victory. One I fought hard for. One that took a lot of courage, and sheer determination to never give up on my dream.

The power to succeed lies within every one of us. I’m back on my path, pursuing my dream, and ready to take on the next challenge that tries to stand in my way. Above all else, I will never give up. —CJ