“You Don’t Have To Be Great To Start…

..but you have to start to be great.”  ~Zig Ziglar

I like Zig Ziglar. He was an author, a salesman, and a motivational speaker and such an inspiration. I guess you could say, he was a people builder. He says, success comes from hard work, and the work on yourself is first. Don’t just set goals…achieve them. Discover and hone your personal leadership style.

In order to achieve your goals, you must first begin and that isn’t as easy as it sounds. Years ago, I just couldn’t find time to write because life always seemed to get in the way. A good friend of mine, Diane, gave me some good, sound advice. Just start by spending 15 minutes two or three times a week and write. “Do you think you can do that?”

mascot-857480_1280

I said, “Yeah, I can.”

And I did and it started with a first small step. What I discovered was that those 15 minutes turned into 30 minutes, and 30 into an hour, and two or three times a week eventually turned into four or five. I discovered that the more I wrote (because it was my passion) the more I wanted to take the time and succeed.

When you discover what it is you really enjoy doing more than anything else–something  you’d enjoy doing for the rest of your life–you’d look forward to each day, and your passion wouldn’t feel like “a job” and more like a treat. Most likely you’ll discover what you’ve been put on this Earth to do. When you discover this then begin with a plan and work toward the goal in small steps or big steps. This is up to you.

“Don’t let the mistakes and disappointments of the past control and direct your future.” — Zig Ziglar

Keep your eyes focused on the road ahead and keep believing in yourself.

“If you wait until all the lights are “green” before you leave home, you’ll never get started on your trip to the top.” — Zig Ziglar

We can think of a hundred reasons why we can’t do something. But you can get beyond this. I kind of use to be a doom and gloomer, but it’s  no fun. It’s not a place where you want to hang out.

“Life is too short to spend your precious time trying to convince a person who wants to live in gloom and doom otherwise. Give lifting that person your best shot, but don’t hang around long enough for his or her bad attitude to pull you down. Instead, surround yourself with optimistic people.” — Zig Ziglar

I began focusing on goals and looking forward on what I wanted to accomplish. I still have more I’d like to accomplish.

Don’t be like his girl:accidental-slip-542551_1280

 

Be like these two 🙂

dancing-dave-minion-510835_640

“People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.” — Zig Ziglar

Wanna get encouraged? Check this out HERE. It might get you revved up.

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Traditional or Self Publishing…What I Chose

Courtesy of Pixabay

Courtesy: Pixabay

After a long time researching and contemplating between traditional publishing (finding an agent to represent me; sending queries, synopses, the first 10 or 20 pages to an agent, etc.) and self-publishing, I’ve decided to self-publish my middle grade fantasy novel, Secret of the Golden Heart, and I’m totally excited! Self-publishing comes with the freedom that you don’t have with traditional publishing. You’re in total control and that’s why I think self-publishing has become more popular and has grown tremendously in the past eight years.

I began this blog several years ago to route my journey of writing and publishing my first book as well as follow my main character on his journey. Going with the traditional route, you’re kind of limited to how much you can talk about your story in the public arena before publication. That’s why I’ve been hesitant to talk about my book or some of my characters because I never knew how much information I could give away.

It’s been a long journey, lots of ups and downs, discouragements and roadblocks that I’ve had to work through. Not to mention the pesky questions that made a nice, cozy bed for themselves in the corners of your mind: What are you doing? Do you really think you can pull this off? You’ll never finish this book so why not just give up, save yourself the grief, and go on with your merry life? And, I admit, I fell for it sometimes.

So, I put *threw* my writing life into a plastic bin–hundreds of notes and information–and sadly said, “I’m done. Writing fiction is too hard.” I shoved the bin beneath a desk and stared at it for about half an hour. I could finally see the top of my computer desk, note-free, clean and sparkly. Wasn’t that better? I sat . . . staring at the bin . . . thinking about the past several years and hours of hard work I’d put into the book.

I began my new-found freedom as a non-writer . . .

At least for a day or two. I inched myself back to my office and “piddled” while at the same time thinking, I’m not getting any younger. Time is a-wasting. *Blah, blah, blah.*

Well, forgive the cliché, but you can’t keep a good horse down. I thought about my future without writing. When you’re more unhappy not writing than you are by the discouragements that comes with writing, then it’s almost impossible to quit.

So . . . I didn’t . . . I couldn’t . . . quit.

Courtesy: Pixabay

Courtesy: Pixabay

I decided to take my journey to the next level and self-publish. There’s a lot to learn, I had to hire a professional editor, but I’m half way there, and I hope to pass along what I’ve learned so I can help make the process smoother for others who are thinking about self-publishing. Unfortunately, self-publishing means there is some cost, whereas, when you sign with an agent they take care of that. But being accepted by an agent means being a good fit on their list and whether they want to take a chance on a newbie author. This is time-consuming when searching for an agent. It can take up to two years to get your book published and this is after an agency has accepted you as their client. It’s hard for first-time authors, but surely not impossible. But agents aren’t so quick to take a chance on a new author. With this being said, it is a personal choice, and I know there are a lot of good agents out there waiting for a good story.

I’m relieved that I decided to self-publish. I’m looking forward to it. I’m meeting a lot of awesome people who’ve been there and done that and are willing to help. Now I can spend time doing what I really like to do: WRITE! I am hoping to have the book out soon and planning on it being a series of three.

What is the Secret of the Golden Heart?

What is the Secret of the Golden Heart?

 

Stay tuned to journey out of this world when twelve-year-old Kristian McNeal’s life turns upside down, and he’s swept from danger and taken to a place he never knew existed . . . until now. After arriving at his destination, he discovers that he has been chosen; now he’s bound to fulfill his mother’s destiny after stealing her golden heart heirloom for selfish motives. Now, it’s a race against time to find the key that unlocks the secret of the golden heart and save the dying planet of his heritage. Will he choose to follow that still, small voice, or go down an unknown path?

Author Interview – Is Independent Publishing Right For You?

Hi everyone! I am so happy to be able to post this interview!

Have you ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes to independent publishing, and whether it might be a good fit for you? I asked Z.R. Southcombe to take us behind the scenes on her journey to Indie Publishing with her new eBook The Caretaker of Imagination and what’s involved in the process. It can be a little daunting.

Zee is from New Zealand, and here she is with a copy of a print book:              ZR Southcombe

One of my goals for this year was doing some author interviews. So,I chose my first interview to be with my friend, Z.R. Southcombe. A few weeks ago, I posted an interview with her that appeared on Inger D. Kenobi’s blog site.

This time, I wanted to interview Z.R myself to offer insight into the writing craft/marketing. So, here goes:

Hi Zee, I’m so happy you’ve joined us, and that you recently had a book launch for your second book, “The Caretaker of Imagination,” which is a delightful story about “John Carroll who is bored with his normal life, so he runs away with his faithful cat in search of adventure. When he meets a real-life pirate, John realizes there is much more to the world than he’d ever thought possible – magic is real, and in desperate need of a hero. John must convince the (once fearsome) Captain Simon Peabody to join him on a fantastic and perilous quest to find the only person who can save magic from being lost forever: the Caretaker of Imagination.”

First, can you tell us, Zee, how you plan your stories? Do you outline or write a summary and go from there? What is your process?

Zee:     At first, I tried to write [with] just a rough idea of the story (characters & setting, problem, solution). It didn’t go very well! So, I did a LOT of research into how to plan a narrative, and [how] I use a few different planners to make sure the story is rounded. Below is a really basic outline of what I do. Once I’ve set up all of these, I then do a chapter-by-chapter breakdown and use that to guide my draft.

 

how i plan

Debbie:   Since some may have little knowledge regarding Independent Publishing (Indie Publishing), would you mind explaining the step-by-step process you took with “The Caretaker of Imagination,” and how to get from point A to point B, etc.”

Zee:  Basically, independent publishing means that we don’t submit our manuscripts to an agent or publisher. Instead, we publish the book ourselves. This means we are in charge of printing the books, getting them up online, distribution, cover art, and all the other parts of the publishing process. It can feel daunting sometimes, and it’s a lot of responsibility, but ultimately means we have control over our own work. [Especially rights]

In the past, self-published books have had a bit of a stigma to them. As the industry grows, more information becomes available and we are all able to create books to a more professional standard. As far as a step-by-step process, I’d like to plug my friend Joy Findlay, who is a self-publishing master, and I used her experience and techie know-how to make sure I had everything covered.

  • Get the cover art done. My illustrator drew the image, and then my cover designer put it all together for me.
  • Write a blurb. I found this REALLY difficult, and most other writers seem to as well. Once I’d written it, I got feedback from a few people to tweak it into what it is now.
  • Research and find a printer (if you are doing print books. Many use CreateSpace, and even more don’t bother with print at all, preferring to focus on the digital market).
  • Set up an account with Kindle Direct Publishing, Kobo and Smashwords to distribute your work online.
  • Contact bookstores, and set up direct sales on your website to sell print books.
  • Market, market, market!

Debbie:  I read in your acknowledgements in the back of your book that you had to be convinced to publish independently. What changed your mind to go the Indie route?

Zee:   Brownie points for reading my acknowledgments, Debbie! Really, it was down to a few key people who convinced me. They helped me question my purpose for writing, and my goals. I realized that the main reason I was looking for a publisher was for the prestige of having been published, and being on a bookstore’s shelf.

My purpose was – and is – to write stories that are true to myself, and empower young children. My goal is to make a career out of writing. With Indie publishing, I have control over what goes in my story, and what stays out. I can choose my illustrator and my cover art, and I have a much bigger chance of making a career through my work—as long as I apply a bit of business sense.

Debbie:   You had print books for your book launch. Tell us what the process is. And I read that you had a bit of difficulty concerning the deadline for the print books with getting them done before the launch. Can you tell us what happened?

 Zee:   Oh gosh yes, I was completely stressed out that week!  I had ordered proof copies of the book, which hadn’t turned up, and when we rang to enquire (my sister kindly stepped in for panic-control), they said the order hadn’t been put through! I was ready to have a no-books book launch.

But as they say, all things happen for a reason. I ended up getting a beautiful print book done right here in New Zealand (on the way to work, no less) and I’m glad to be able to support local business. The cost was a little bit higher, but I’m still making a profit and that’s the bottom line. We did have to make a change with our special hardcover edition, which has different cover art and a foreword from the illustrator, Jane Thorne. It’s now a limited edition.

I sell the print books through Pt Chev Bookshop, who are lovely booksellers that hosted my launch party, as well as direct through my website. I’ve made sales fairly consistently after the launch, largely from friends-of-friends. I manage payments and send the books out myself, currently as a sole trader business.

The process was to get the files print-ready, and I utilized Flying Kiwi Services for this. She did a fantastic job, and the books were okayed from the get-go. All I had to do was pay, and pick them up!

Debbie:  How did the launch go? What did you learn, and is there anything you’ll do differently next time?

Zee:  It went amazingly well. I was truly blown away. We had an actual crowd in the little bookstore, and there were a bunch of people milling outside as well. A lot went fantastically – there were plenty of cupcakes to go around (thanks to all my friends who baked for me), the kids LOVED the goody bags, and all in all people enjoyed themselves.

My next book launch will be in May (or early June) which is winter for us. I’m currently tossing ideas around in terms of what I’ll do differently – we need to organise a way to hold everyone in the shop, or move to a larger venue, and I’d like to have an online component as well, but need to work on the logistics of that. Also, as it will be colder, we’ll need a way to entice people out of their warm, cozy homes!

Debbie:   You’re working on your third book, “Lucy’s Story: The End of the World.” It’ll be out soon, and you’ve decided to publish it as an eBook again. What are the pros and cons, if any, to Indie Publishing?

Zee:   Honestly, I love it! I’ll start with the cons, cause that’s a smaller list: everything depends on you. That’s it. I have to manage my accounts & bookkeeping, and make sure everything that is supposed to happen, does actually happen. I also have to do my own print distribution, which is much harder as an indie author.

Some people say that marketing is a drawback in indie publishing as well, but no matter how you’re published, you need to market yourself. I’m thoroughly enjoying the process! Most of all, I like that I can ‘employ’ my friends – editing, graphic design, illustration, teacher resources and formatting are all done by friends (who also happen to be talented professionals!), and I can be creative as I like with my writing and marketing strategies without having to ask for permission.

Zee, thank you so much for your time. I’m sure many can learn from your experience. You can find a link to Zee’s website here if you wish to buy her book or learn more about her.

A few other websites you may find helpful:

The Book Designer

YouTube Video on Creating a book

I hope to have another interview in the near future from Heather McCorkle of McCorkle Creations.

Until then, I hope you have a wonderful day, and God bless!

 

 

 

Thirteen Things that Mentally Strong People Do Not Do

Portrait Of Confused Girl Holding Two Books

I wanted to share some things for those who sometimes trod into Slumps-ville. I go through slumps, too, as a writer. Highs. Lows. Ups. Downs. Discouragement nags at us, and if we’re not on our guard, it could very well swallow us. It’s okay for a while as long as we get back up.

Writing fiction involves character development, writing great settings and having a good plot, and it’s having a satisfying ending that wraps the story up. Selling it involves perseverance.

We can all use a mental boost once in a while. I’d like to share ten things that radio talk show host, Rush Limbaugh, believes what it takes to have a mentally strong attitude. Some either love Mr. Limbaugh or hate him, but if you put him aside, his ten traits have some meaningful life lessons. His statements are in red, mine are in black:

  1. They don’t give away their power–they avoid giving people power to offend them. People will always offend us. Let’s not let it bother us, rather, allow them the freedom to speak their mind.
  2. They don’t worry about what others think. I’d only like to add, we should always strive to set good examples.
  3. They don’t waste time feeling sorry for themselves. They take responsibility for their actions and accept the fact that life isn’t fair. They quickly learn that no one is responsible for their lives but they, themselves.
  4. They don’t waste energy on things they can’t control. They can discern when there are things that are out of their control. 
  5. They don’t worry about pleasing others. Other people’s happiness and contentment is not our job or responsibility, however, we try to make peace to the best of our ability.
  6. They aren’t fearful. They aren’t afraid to stand up for what they believe even if it means they are the only ones standing.
  7. They don’t dwell on the past. This one here is actually found in the Bible: “And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:62). What this means, is that we can’t keep looking back and expect to be productive as we move forward. We must stay focused on the road ahead. 
  8. They don’t make the same mistake twice. They learn from their mistakes.
  9. They don’t resent other people’s success. They cheer another’s success and give others encouragement.
  10. They don’t give up after a failure. 😉 They may fail time and again, but the secret is getting back up.
  11. They don’t fear time alone. They treasure peace. They draw strength and become refreshed when they take time to be alone. Peace of Mind wooden sign on a beautiful day
  12. They don’t think the world owes them anything. They work hard toward their goals and take pride in their accomplishments. 
  13. They don’t expect immediate results. This is a tough one, and I’d like to expand on this point. I’ve been guilty of this vital mistake. Things worth having are worth working hard toward and waiting on. I also must say, this comes from the Bible, too: “Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.” ~Palms 27:14

We are all called to pursue our interests. We must seek what it is we’re good at, and what our passion is. Then, take one step at a time to work toward that goal. Most of the time the road is long and dusty. It isn’t easy, but the winding path will lead you to the right place if you follow your heart to the end.

Autumn Girl enjoying nature on the field. Beauty Girl Outdoors r

~blessings

Debbie

http://www.debbie-erickson.com

 

 

 

Hi Everyone

I hope you are doing well.

I’m thrilled to announce my new website www.debbie-erickson.com, designed by Heather McCorkle from heathermccorkle.wix.com/heathermccorkle. Although the site is still a WIP, it’s finished and online. I think it turned out really well, and I thank Heather. She’s awesome. It was just what I had envisioned.

I will no longer have my wordpress.org site, but I’ll continue using daerickson.wordpress.com site for now.

You can check out my new site here:  www.debbie-erickson.com.

As always, thank you so much for following.

~blessings

Debbie

It’s a Virtual World

 

My husband tells me I live in a virtual world, but I try not to overdue it, however, it is important for your career. It’s part of the job. I wouldn’t say I live in this virtual world: I still have time for other stuff, and spending time with family and friends. 🙂

Though I’ve thought about this virtual world topic for some time, I wanted to post after reading an excerpt from Kristen Lamb’s eBook, Rise of the Machines: Human Authors in a Digital World.

While I’ve been working to get my career from ground level to the next level, 🙂 I admit I’ve had Information Overload. Even so, I continue gobbling up as much information as I can because learning never ends. I’m afraid I’m going to miss out on some great tidbits of information. There are many great author websites with fantastic information. One is Joanna Penn’s site The Creative Penn. And Angela Ackerman’s and Becca Puglisi’s site at Writer’s Helping Writer’s. 🙂 I also find K.M. Weiland’s blog, Helping Writers Become Authors, very insightful. I recommend these sites for those seeking to learn the writing craft. It’s convenient now days to follow these websites from the comfort of your home, and easier than attending classes.

But do we stop long enough to take a break from it all? It’s easy to become overwhelmed with information and sometime we can lose sight of our own writing and journey. After several years of ingesting a lot of helpful information, try to take short periods of time to step out of your virtual world and go into solitary confinement where you can find pleasure in the little things. It’s healthy for your mind. There are so many voices in the world. Find some solitude and relax. Watch the world go by once in a while. You’ll probably walk away more refreshed with a greater perspective.

If you’re having a bad day, one of the most refreshing things to do is read the Old Testament Psalms. 🙂

What are some things you do to find solitude when you want to escape from the craziness of the world?

~Blessings

Mysteries of the Cosmos . . .

Horsehead Nebula Taken from the Hubble Space Craft

Horsehead Nebula
Taken from the Hubble spacecraft http://hubblesite.org/gallery/album/

 

The cosmos always fascinated me: clear nights filled with stars, shooting stars, and distant planets. I could spend hours allowing my imagination to run free. If it were possible to fly through the universe without a spacecraft, I’d be the first one in line.

While doing research on my book, I found nebulae quite fascinating with its gas and dust clouds, which form Nebulae, and why they appear hazy. There are no planets present.

The Hubble Space Craft has taken us into the cosmos, and it is through this medium that’s made it easier to imagine such wonders that lie in the greater unknown. How did the universe evolve? How long has it really been here? To some, the answers are simple because of the beliefs they hold dear. To others, not so simple. Needless to say, it has done quite well as a back drop for many fantasy films.

It has taken NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft 9.5 years to position itself to get close enough to Pluto to collect data. The spacecraft left Earth in January 2006.

helix spitzer from the Hubble Space Craft

The Helix Spitzer from the Hubble spacecraft – An owl’s eye?

How long do you think the cosmos has existed? How do you think it evolved? When do you believe time began?

I would love to know  your perspective is on the subject.

 

Authors/Writers, Published or Not, are Awesome

Hi,

As I think back over 2014 (struggling as I’ve worked toward my goals) I just want to say that authors and writers, published or not, whether working on a writing career, or writing for the joy of it to share with family and friends, are so wonderful and helpful. They never think twice about offering a bit of encouragement, offer advice, or give you free expertise. Authors and writers are some of the nicest people I know. Many take time out of their busy schedule to make a comment to one of your questions, and most won’t bat an eyelash when it comes to telling you their experiences on the road to publication so you can learn from them. Every successful author I know has a passion to write and a deep desire to help other struggling writers via their websites and sometimes in an email.

I believe many agents, as well, take time out of their busy schedules to give expert advice because they really do want writers to succeed. But what many new writers don’t realize is what’s all involved in the process of being published or how great the competition is.

My goals for 2015:

*  to reach out to successful author’s and secure interviews on how their career began, and how they climbed the ladder to publication success, whether in print, on the web, or epublishing. Every writer struggles at times, but it’s such a struggle for new writers because not are you writing your story, there is also so much to learn along the way, and so much competition. New writers who are serious about their craft need help and encouragement. If I can pass along some advice in order to shorten someone’s career to publication, or make the journey a little easier, then I’m looking forward to 2015;

*  get my new MG fantasy website up and running, which isn’t too far off. The theme will be fantasy-related. The web designer designing my site will be forthcoming soon;

*  to gain more knowledge on all-around marketing and branding;

*  to have my book trailer completed and up on my website in the near future;

*  to get some of my children’s stories up on Amazon;

*  and, to exercise and work out more. :0

I hope your year goes well, with very few bumps, and I hope you’ll continue to follow me in my journey, to follow your own heart, and reach your goals. I will try to help you along the way by passing along helpful information as it comes to me.

(The enemy comes to steal, kill, and destroy. Therefore, “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” ~Proverbs 4:23)

Blessings,

 

 

 

 

Books on Writing

I’ve wanted to do this post for a while on a list of books that I’ve read to help me to learn the craft of writing. I thought you might find them helpful, too.

  • The Marshall Plan for Getting Your Novel Published by Evan Marshall
  • Revision by Kit Reed
  • Dialogue by Lewis Turco
  • Description & Setting by Ron Rozelle
  • Characters & Viewpoint by Orson Scott Card
  • How to Write Science Fiction & Fantasy by Orson Scott Card
  • Word Magic for Writers by Cindy Rogers
  • You Can Write Children’s Books by Tracey E. Dils
  • The Children’s Writers Reference by Amoss & Suben
  • The Giblin Guide to Writing Children’s Books by James Cross Giblin
  • Fantasy and Science Fiction by Philip Athans
  • Showing and Telling by Laurie Alberts
  • Getting Your Foot in the Editorial Door by Thomas A. Noton
  • The Breakout Novelist by Donald Maass
  • The Art of War for Writers by James Scott Bell
  • Barron’s Essentials of English
  • And STORY by Robert McKee

These books are sure to further your writing career. I found them quite helpful. However, after reading so many “how to books,” it’s impossible to retain everything, but you’ll be surprised at how much you do retain when you begin writing and revising. The more you write and revise, the more you grow. Things begin to click over time if you’re willing to stick to it and work hard at the craft.

Happy writing!

What’s More Important . . . Plot or Character Development?

I’ve read many books on fiction writing while trying to develop my writing skills, and I’ve visited and subscribed to some great websites of author’s who have posted great advice. I’ve learned a lot. Each author has his/her own way of developing their stories, but I’ve learned that developing your characters first is easier than jumping right in to your story like I did. But, hey, I didn’t know.

However, character development was my weakest link. I had to take the time to know my character’s personalities. Once I learned who they were, how they’d act and react, my story became a little easier to write.

Characters are the story because they’re human. They have a past, they eat, they breathe, they evolve. They must go through physical and emotional setbacks and changes, ups and downs. But these things give them, and your story, life. Characters grow through trials and hardships just as we do, and they must also learn from their mistakes, and from the mistakes of the other characters. Good or bad, we root for characters, not plot.

It seemed I was spinning my wheels until I took the time to get to know my characters. I was so caught up in the plot and the setting that my characters suffered. They were one-dimensional stick figures, but when I turned them into three-dimensional characters, they and the story began to come to life.

If you’re a beginning writer of fiction, get to know your characters. If you don’t, your story will suffer. Picture your characters in your mind’s eye. How do they act and react?  Do they stomp their feet when they’re  angry? Do they sulk? Pout? How do they act when they’re happy? Angry? Worried? Betrayed?

Character development is harder for some than others. I believe that it is one of the biggest reasons stories get rejected. A great website on character development is Angela Ackerman’s and Becca Puglisi’s,  Writers Helping Writers, formerly The Bookshelf Muse. They’ve done an awesome job on their site, and they’ve written three books on the subject of character development, which are great reference and brainstorming  tools. Angela and Becca also have various sections on their site on descriptions  like settings, weather, colors, textures, shapes, symbolism, and much more. Check them out.

If there is anyone who would like to comment on this topic and help other writers, it would be appreciated.

Thank you and have a wonderful day!

“. . . for with God all things are possible.” ~ Mark 10:27