I have stepped away from my novel for a week, suggested by my teacher, Mike Ray King. This weeks class we started on editing and rewriting. I will admit not reading it made me doubt myself a bit. As they say the hardest battle is always with the self. I was thinking it wasn't good enough to be published and I was wasting my time.
Today is special. My (our) new novel, The Method Writers, officially launched yesterday at the St. Francis Inn in St. Augustine, Florida. Torrential rain kept many away, but the turnout was still decent. The guests at the Inn were excited to speak with us and purchased a number of books. That was definitely a writer thrill.
I cannot emphasize enough the camaraderie and collective support I felt signing books with my fellow Rogues. We wrote the book together. We promoted this Book Launch weekend together. We signed and smiled and spoke and reveled together.
The feeling swims within me that one day I will cherish those moments on a plane I cannot sense at this time. For now I find the comfort and oneness I feel with these writers sufficient for my day. The evening of food and fun stands as a sheltered island in a stormy sea.
As for this day, I get to look forward to another outing of the four standing Rogues (we have one cherished Rogue sidelined by life for a while). We head to Houligan’s this evening at 5:00pm for the more active Book Launch session. We have incorporated some games, a video of our “acting” debut (available at ), and a panel discussion on the intricacies and logistics of four writers completing a novel together.
Yes, we hope for a large turnout. We feel we have something special to offer people. Not just the food. Not just the games. Not just the book.
The Rogues offer a look at what people can achieve TOGETHER. In our individualistic society, teamwork almost appears limited to sports, and even then the hot-doggers and self-important egos tend to dominate.
We present diversity in writing styles, lifestyles and thought processes. We also present a unified vision of four people working together to forge ahead in a highly competitive and underpaid industry. We have a voice, and we are exercising this voice. Once we get in shape, snag some collective experience, we will strive to bring our message to as many people as will listen.
For those of you in this area, we sincerely look forward to meeting you. For those distant, one day we look forward to meeting you as well. You can get a glimpse of us in our books and our video and our blogs and our individual writing projects. We trust you will enjoy the experience. That is our hope.
I will hold dear this coming night as I do last night. Then, Sunday. But that will have to wait for my next post. One day at a time…
I am transferring “The Morning Notepad” from my Poetry In Black and White blog. I believe I will rename this post “The Morning Wride” since I combine bicycle riding and writing. The material fits better on this blog. I will continue to post new off-the-heart poems on PIBW often, but an overview of my morning ‘wride’ and writing experience needs to be on myauthor site. I also desire to write about how I am helping people write their books. This site is now dedicated to helping others. I will use my experiences and insights to pass on writing tips I’ve learned.
I ride my bicycle every morning and stop along the way to use the notepad on my iPhone – hence The Morning Notepad. I certainly hope you enjoy your experience here. I also hope something I write helps you in some manner. Also, please make sure you check out my poetry blog, Poetry in Black and White.
This morning’s song that struck me came from good ol’ Jimmy Buffet.
Yesterday’s ‘wride’ found me with a basketball that beckoned me off my bike. I shot hoops for about a half hour. I noted my free throw percentage to be quite low, around 50%. After a couple moments, I realized I was not focused properly. As soon as I corrected my focus, I my percentage jumped to 70%. I then went on my merry way.
This morning, I shot free throws again, shooting in the 70% range – good, but not by my standards. I wondered what was missing. The thought occurred to me I might be ‘over-focusing’. Sure enough, when I stepped to the line, grabbed my focus and went into motion immediately, I hit fifteen shots in a row.
Some of these fifteen shots I nearly released incorrectly, but I adjusted as soon as I felt an issue. Isn’t this the way we should write and run our businesses? We need focus, no doubt. But sometimes, don’t we over-focus and take ourselves out of the game by writing conservatively? Or making conservative business decisions far later than we should have?
I know this holds true in my life. I found the key of focus. Now I realize too much of a good thing can hold me back from maximizing my efforts. Focus, motion, adjust. Aren’t bicycle rides with music and basketball a hoot!
I hope you’re not looking to me for the answers to these questions. The reasons for negativity stretch into endless debate. The experiences of persecution, recrimination, religious teachings, as well as nearly countless other forms of input, shape our life views.
One of the most common experiences I’ve witnessed in my lifetime are the people who must reduce the stature of others followed by an immediate building up of their own. Most of these people perform this act of character assassination and personal build up in a practiced, unthinking manner. They often show themselves to be clueless as to what they are doing.
I’m not speaking of ‘big-ticket’ life items here, either. These people nitpick the smallest, most innocuous of statements a person in their presence may make. They make a quick, judgmental comment on the statement, then follow with their point of view on the matter.
This low-level brow beating beats a positive perspective person down over time. The sad part of this equation becomes the destruction of a positive, upbeat view of the world. With all the persecution and recrimination in the world, it is little wonder negativity holds so much sway. Yet, even more so, the negativity within the world’s religions runs rampant through a world not simply littered with negativity, but plastered with it.
I understand that positives exist in the plethora of world religions. However, often these intended positives are mired in fiefdom protection which is one form of self preservation and personal elevation. Again, I reiterate that I hope you are not looking to me in this post to hand out any answers. My goal here is to state something people appear fearful to state; negativity permeates everything we touch and experience, most everyone recognizes it, but few are willing to change, to step away from negativity, mostly because their inner ‘eye’ does not even recognize how they tear others down.
After 53 years of observation, I have come to at least one major conclusion: this negative dominance appears in every relationship paradigm imaginable – families, churches, work places, playground, sports teams, civic groups, non profits, corporations – the list goes on and on and on.
My observations on life at this point, again, 53 years in, and again, my observations, are that the most gratifying successes I’ve witnessed and experienced stemmed from positivity in some form. Whether individual positive determination, group teamwork, corporate teamwork, or simple smiles and appreciations of life, positivity remains key to progressive success.
Those who opt for the negative, domineering, destruction driven formulas to further their agendas deliver misery. The larger the undertaking, the larger the misery. A collective of people all working for the good of others and for positive results do not rule this world.
Sad, isn’t it? We possess such a tiny snippet of time to live and breathe and so much of this precious life struggles to persevere through the negativities that surround us, permeate us, infect us, and in the end, destroy us.
Possibilities. Each of us have nearly infinite opportunities to explore. We close off so many of them because of negative voices from without and/or within. We allow ourselves to crumble with the weight of someone else’s thumb on our soul, or we struggle to shrug off past criticisms that told us we were unworthy of moving forward.
What would a world look like where people looked for the best in others? What if we could wake up each day excited about the new discovery we would make about this life? What if we could love without fear of pain and rejection?
Yes, as soon as the questions go that direction, you felt it, right? Somewhere, deep inside, you see no hope for that for this world. Yes, some religions offer this hope either after our death or in one gestalt historical event to come. Yet what issues forth from these religions? Finger-pointing? Judgmentalism? An ‘I’m-right-and-all-others-are-mistaken’ mentality? The answers are in how we vote? The answers are in what brand of religion we partake of? The answers are in atheism?
Have you ever stopped to ponder the millions if not billions of differing ideologies and perspectives on this planet? Each touts they have “the answer” in some way, shape, or form. But even within the confines of philosophies and religions, the fragmented and fractured coalitions appear to hold a tenuous if not desperate allegiance to those within their tenets.
I find it difficult to look at this whole world-ball-of-wax disparity with positive thought. Our increased communication technology only rains more tsunamis of negativity on our psyches rather than positive possibilities. Or focus in news has been negativity from the outset. Positive news does not “appeal” to the masses, except in few-and-far-between snippets.
Possibilities. Positive news that shapes communities and people with only a few-and-far-between negative? Positive news that inspires and excites people to achieve higher and greater things for the good of all? Positive statements that lift others up minute by minute, day by day. Becoming aware of people’s struggles and selflessly taking a moment to invest in their short trek on this planet?
What a shame we tend to want that which we do not possess. What a shame greed and maliciousness pervades our thoughts and motivations. Come on – you don’t think those voices have contaminated your heart, your brain?
Yet, despite these voices that appear to taint everyone on some level, there are those people who contemplate the possibilities. I have no answers for you. But I do have a suggestion. Explore the possibility that the kind word, smile, or even thought you manifest today is an underdog blow against the norm. I suggest you examine your motivation before you speak. I suggest you consider whether your words lift up or tear down at the very basic levels of communication. I suggest you consider the look on your face and your posture as to what they communicate. Positivity or negativity?
I suggest you take the time to consider possibilities and look at them from a progressive, positive view. Nothing will change in our world until we change ourselves. This is why I have no answers. All I can change is myself.
When I accomplish this, the possibilities become endless, until my exit from this world…
In a moment I will give you three tips to help you increase your writing output. I’ve written and published six books, completed three of five attempts at Nanowrimo, have six blogs, and I’ve written 38,326 words in January and 49,572 words in February. I currently maintain a sixty-four day writing streak of at least 750 per day.
I give you those numbers not to boast but to let you know my writing life has not always been this productive. Over the past decade, my writing consistency has sputtered. I’ve hit periods of high output then low to nonexistent output. Usually during the high output times, I’m in the throes of writing a book. Once the manuscript finds completion, my productivity falls off.
What I’m about to give you most likely sounds very familiar to your inner ear. Your mind. Your heart. That is, if you are anything like me. I am a walking testimony to the saying “when the student is ready, the teacher will appear.”
I’ve been listening to the advice I’m about to deliver to you for years, but I never applied this knowledge to my heart until this year. Please do yourself a favor, open your mind, your heart, your will, and consider taking this advice:
1) When you say you have no time to write, realize what you are saying to yourself. The truth is, writing 750 words takes around 15 to 25 minutes of your time. Realize you are selling yourself short. Realize the truth. You have 15 to 25 minutes each day. You simply DO NOT CHOOSE TO USE THESE MINUTES TO WRITE!
I am not aiming to be harsh, just honest. The FIRST thing you must to to increase your writing volume is to create a shift in your thinking. All change begins in your thoughts. First and foremost, stop the thoughts that say “I need to…, I have to…, I should do…” and replace the phrasing to simply. “I desire to…”.
Catch yourself when you think, write or speak these words I call “pressure words”. Have to, need to, should do – all beat you down before you begin. In order to get to the next of the three steps, YOU MUST CHANGE YOUR THOUGHT PROCESSES! Otherwise, you will stay mired in the same rut of ‘no time’.
We’re all busy. Yet some of us write loads of words and others complain of no time. Often, the folk writing tons of words appear busier than those who don’t. Everything begins with your thoughts. Change your mindset.
2) Commit. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know you’ve heard this before. That does not change the validity of the statement. Commit to your writing like a lover. Come on! You know you love writing! But you treat writing like some vagabond streetwalker. Treat your writing like a lover. Commit to her/him. Breathe life and passion back into your heart.
When you commit yourself in this manner to your writing, combined with the change in mindset that says “I am doing this!”, you will find you go directly to the third step.
3) Action. Yes, there will be voices inside your head that still attempt to derail you. Voices that say you should wash the dishes or do this chore or that. Voices that will tell you how poor your writing is. These voices need to be disregarded. Remember the first step. CHANGE YOUR THOUGH PATTERNS. Don’t allow these inner voices to thwart you. If you must (and I have had to do this on many occasions), tell those voices, “Yes, I am writing crap – but I’m writing and it will get better.”
If you think those nearly 50,000 words I wrote in February were all pristine and perfect, I have loads of swampland I’d like to sell you. As you exercise your body, your muscles tone and improve. So too, your writing skills. Take action. Grab a pen, pencil, crayon, computer, smart-phone, anything that will assist you in your act of writing.
There are loads of other tools you can use to help you write, but successfully adopting these three will have you well on your way to increasing your writing output. Change your thought process to first-person-present-tense (I desire…), commit to your lovely writing as a lover, and take action – WRITE!
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One critical thing I’ve noticed about writing – time attempts to infringe in nearly every area of your writing life. I know all about time management. I used to manage corporate retail businesses where certain jobs had to be completed within extraordinary time frames. Writing appears to blur time. I cannot say how often I have said I did not have time to blog. For that matter, this same statement has been said to me so many times by other writers the ‘time-monster’ crops up everywhere.
As writers, we do not truly live under a writing curse, we actually create the curse ourselves. In these past few months of writing diligently, I have noted the actual writing time required is minimal. In four hours time, if I truly wrote a solid four hours, I could knock out 6000 to 8000 words a day. I still have twenty hours to sleep and handle all the other chores on the business list.
Those numbers stare at me like some gaudy Christmas tree bauble. Heck, at those numbers what could I accomplish in a week? Amazing flights of fancy, insightful blogs, crafted short stories, poems to toy with readers’ hearts? Absolutely. That finicky entity we call time, though, sneaks around and loses itself in emails, Facebook, contemplation, household chores, distractions, and numerous other venues that take me away from what I desire to accomplish with respect to writing.
Writing absolutely requires time to think, to mull over ideas and concepts, sometimes simply to recharge. My observation, and I won’t accuse you, dear reader, but myself, my observation reveals I waste a ton of time. I need a balance between actual writing time and thinking time and leisure time and house time. This calls for that nasty word to many of us – discipline.
Writing will trap you into thinking you have no time. I have learned that I have time for those activities on which I place a high priority. Too often as writers we belittle our calling and allow other activities to take precedence. When we take writing on as a vocation, we must understand we have entered a business environment. This fact dictates a certain level of discipline.
For this blog I gave myself 15 minutes to complete. I received a call from my business coach (I highly recommend you get one if you are serious about writing…) at the thirteen minute mark. The call lasted three minutes. I now set the ‘stopwatch’ feature running on my iPhone to determine how long it takes me to kick out my blogs. My fifteen minute guesstimate fell short, so now I have a better idea of how long it takes for me to compose my blog.
As I wind this down, I would like you to consider doing the same thing. Begin timing your actual writing to get a good feel for how long it takes to knock out a particular activity. Once I finish with the text here, I still must set up links, add a pic (virtually a must for blogs these days), and promote the post on my social media. At this point, not counting the phone call, I have put twenty minutes into this writing.
I estimate another five minutes to handle the links and pic and promo stuff. From this point forward, I will allow myself thirty minutes to complete my blogs. I will allow twenty-five minutes to write and five minutes for the links, pics, and promo. One small step on the way to good writing time management.
(Unfortunately, a bathroom break and a thirty five minute search for a pic caused this blog to go way over the time limits I set. Fortunately, my next project, a post to my serial fiction story on Fiction’s Footsteps only took me nineteen minutes to complete…)
Mastermind groups. Find a successful entrepreneur and you will likely find this person surrounded by a group of knowledgeable people in varying areas of life and business. In my opinion, to reach high levels of achievement, the necessity of a ‘mastermind’ group resonates true with me. Mastermind groups not only help percolate ideas and solutions, they also help with a level of accountability.
At my last mastermind meeting with five other entrepreneurs, I learned that Henry Ford didn’t know how to create much of what his company dreamed up in the early days. He simply surrounded himself with go-getter type people of high knowledge who could take his ideas and make them into reality. In effect, he assembled a mastermind group.
These groups benefit everyone in the group. The idea is to take the strengths of each person to forge a collective momentum in a positive direction. Too often we are told we need to work on our weaknesses, forsaking our strengths. When we focus on shoring up our weak points, too often our highest level of achievement is mediocrity. Why not take our strengths and run with them and find people whose strength is our weakness and partner with them?
United States society has fallen too far into a selfish mode. We do not want to partner with others because we fear they will take advantage of our weaknesses. While this undoubtedly has occurred, I would say most of the time the betrayal happened the root cause was that a relationship was not created and fostered. Mastermind groups call for honesty and integrity.
I’ve been running a writing mastermind group for 5 years – the Rogues Gallery Writers. I do not so much ‘run’ the group, as much as I came up with the idea, sold the idea to a number of outstanding writers, and we meet every single week to go over how we’re doing in our individual projects as well as working on group projects. We’ve now created four, FOUR, books together as a group. Individually, we all have seen success as writers to a certain level, and our horizon looks pretty good right now.
The synergy created in a mastermind group can elevate members to accomplish tasks they may never have dreamed about on their own, nor attempted without, at the minimum, simple moral support. In this day of hectic, digitized media and changing formats, specialized expertise coming together for a common goal only makes perfect sense.
The beauty of creating such a group today with all the digital tools at our disposal is we do not have to meet in person. Yes, physically meeting together is optimum, but with Skype and my favorite, Oovoo, we can at least meet face to face and hear each others’ voices. The Rogues have used this while one of our members went to Michigan for three months. We did not miss a beat. Sure, once she came back, we were elated to meet in person again, but our meetings online still produced a ton of results both tangible – like completed projects, and intangible – like helping each other through some emotionally grinding times.
Critical to a mastermind group’s success is the dedication to help each other out as much as possible with ideas and brainstorming and support. Each member of the group walks into a meeting knowing they will receive honest feedback on whatever issue is brought forward. For issues of hurdles to overcome, each member knows the group will percolate ideas that hopefully will set them on the path to solution.
Please consider finding a group of four to six people you know who might meet once a week for an hour to brainstorm and lend a hand to a fellow entrepreneur. I believe you will find the mastermind group not only beneficial, as I have, but also a necessity.
As an author, I know the following books would not have come into being without the help of my mastermind group.
Rock Your Business! – Your Book as YOUR Business Card (Available March 5, 2012)
Ok, so the book signing will be for all five of my books, but Poetry in Black and White will be delivered tomorrow, so I might as well make a big deal out of Friday’s book signing at A Frame of Mind in Flagler Beach, FL as a poetry book signing, right? When you present a new book, said new book grabs the larger share of attention.
Poetry typically is not an easy sell when it comes to books. I learned this with my first book of poetry, Loves Lost and Found. From a layout and content standpoint, the book works very well. Loves Lost and Found comes loaded with colorful full-page pics of acrylic paintings by artist Tracy McDurmon. Her paintings depict her interpretation of the poems within the book.
Personally, I love the book. For twenty-eight years my dream for the poetry I wrote in the early 1980′s was to find an artist to interpret my written works through visual art. When Tracy and I teamed up on this project, we determined it would be a ‘labor of love’ in that we committed to producing the absolute best product possible. We understood making money on the book was a long shot. As a publisher, I contracted with an awesome printer in Michigan, 360 Digital, to produce a limited run of 30 softcover and 30 hardcover books, in full, vibrant color, on 100# high gloss paper, and in an 8.5×11 trim size.
Since I insisted on such high quality paper and the vibrant color on 8.5×11 sizing, the cost of these books came in a bit high. In order to simply recoup the investment in the books, we would have to sell through the first print run and order a second, sell through all of them, and finally the book would be profitable.
ClearView Press Inc. only has a few copies of the original print run left. Last year, I decided CVP would make Loves Lost and Found accessible on a lower ‘price point’ basis, so I released the book printed on regular 55# normal paper. To my surprise, the colors remain vibrant and I was able to reduce print costs enough to get the softcover price down to a more reasonable $16.95. So far, the book has not sold in the new paper format, but as I get out and participate in poetry book signings, my hope is to create an interest in the book.
The new poetry book, Poetry in Black and White, borrows the same premise of artistic interpretation of my poetry, this time through the lens of photographer Ella Forest. Originally, I intended the interior art to come from sketch artists. I desired pencil and charcoal art interpretations to adorn the new book. Also, the poetry in this book comes from more recent work.
Unfortunately, the three artists I requested to work on the project could not produce the work. Just when I thought the project would fade into a memory, my office manager came across a photographer who really wanted to take on the task. Skepticism ran high on my part. I could not connect the creative dots that would allow a photographer to interpret my poetry through black and white photos.
My gut told me to give it a whirl. The project basically lay dead on the floor at that point anyway. Ella came across enthusiastic and with a can-do attitude. Within six weeks, I was astounded at her eye for interpretive photography. I ‘got it’. I am amazed at how she went about depicting the poetic messages through photography. Ella does masterful work, and I am now a believer.
One last snafu snarled up the Poetry in Black and White project. When we uploaded the book to the printer, we accidentally put it on cream paper instead of the more flattering white, and some of the photos were not at the proper resolution. I felt Ella’s photos deserved better, so publication of the book was delayed nearly two months. I believe the end product is well worth the wait.
One of my other books I will be signing is my book on fatherhood titled: Fatherhood 101 – Bonding Tips for Building Loving Relationships. I wrote this book because I felt I had some credentials, namely, six children. Writing this book, my first, entailed me documenting everything I did to bond with my new baby pre-birth through 18 months. We offer this book through CVP’s website $1.50 off what Amazon and Barnes and Noble charge. Plus you get it autographed…
So now, Friday March 2, 2012, I get to unveil the new poetry book at the Flagler Beach First Friday event. I must give a huge shout out to Nadine King (no relation) at Christmas Come True for sponsoring the event signing at A Frame of Mind. Nadine does awesome work for underprivileged families with her 501(c)3 – Christmas Come True. If you happen to be looking for a worthwhile charity, please check out her organization. I’ve known Nadine for a couple of years now, and I have watched her dream of getting Christmas Come True off the ground, materialize.
Anyone local to the Flagler Beach, FL area, come on out to First Friday and make sure you stop by and see me at my poetry (and other) book signing!!! First Friday lasts from like 5:00pm until 8:00pm. Come on out!