Random Inspirations

Welcome to my blog, full of fun inspirations and insights on writing, self-publishing, and more!

Birthday Custom: Reflections on Another Year

This past weekend was my birthday–time to party, goof around, be surprised, and eat lots of chocolate. And, on a more serious note, it was time for my year-end review.

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A special message from my hubby and daughter on my birthday.

 

Every b-day, I divide my life into categories and evaluate each one honestly. This short reflective exercise not only lets me celebrate all the small victories of the previous year, it helps me to pinpoint goals for the upcoming one.

My year-end review is similar to making New Year’s Resolutions, but I find that my “resolutions” are easier to achieve because: a.) I feel more energetic and dedicated in the spring than I do at the tail end of the holiday season, and b.) The rest of the world is not making resolutions with me, so I can focus on my own goals more.

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Because reflections go so much better with chocolate-on-chocolate cake…

Interested in trying your own year-end review? Here are the categories I use, as well as some questions to ask yourself.

  • Relationships: Friends and family bring us so much color and happiness, like flowers in a garden. And, much like flowers, important relationships need constant attention and love in order to bloom. Ask yourself: Have I maintained close relationships with my family and friends? Am I in contact with my long-distance friends and family? Have I made new friends? Do I spend quality time with my kids and/or significant other, and do I tell them I love them every day?
  • Fitness: Because our bodies only work as well as we take care of them! Ask yourself: How often do I work out? What is my favorite form of exercise? If I belong to a gym, am I making the most of my membership with regular visits? Am I exploring new fitness classes? Do I eat healthy foods the majority of the time? Have I tried any new exercise regimes this year, and would I like to try something new next year?
  • Hobbies: Our “extracurricular activities” are so enriching, giving us an outlet for our creativity and passion. Ask yourself: What are my favorite hobbies, and have I practiced them this year? Have I neglected any hobbies that I used to enjoy, and if so, how can I rekindle them? Are there any new skills I would like to learn? Are there any organizations I can join to meet others who share my hobbies?
  • Spirituality: Regardless of our religious affiliations, being in touch with our spiritual side can help us to feel more tranquil and centered, enriching overall feelings of well-being. Ask yourself: If I’m religious, do I pray regularly and attend worship services? Do I practice yoga and/or meditation? When and where do I feel most at peace?
  • Career: Ask yourself: What were my proudest moments in my career this past year? What were my greatest achievements? Do I feel as though my career is bringing value to this world? What would I like to change at work, and how can I do my job better? Am I happy in my current position, or would I like to change positions and/or fields? If I’m on leave/sabbatical, when do I plan to return?

There you have it: my year-end review! The most fascinating thing about this exercise is the way the categories overlap and influence each other, leading to “Aha moments” as we reflect about them. For example, relationships with our family can influence our performance at work, and expressing ourselves through creative hobbies can lead us to feel more spiritually balanced. Sometimes, we may discover a deficiency in one of the categories that influences the others, or we might realize that great performance in a category significantly enhances the others.

Do you conduct a similar exercise around your birthday, or maybe at the start of a new year? Do you have anything to add to my review? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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The Truth About Writer Moms and Deadlines

It seems as though we live our lives by deadlines, and this is a good thing. After all, they keep us focused and productive, which is essential if we ever want to move forward in our chosen professions.

Deadlines are especially important for us writers–whether we’re writing an article for a major magazine or self-publishing a novella, it’s imperative to take our craft seriously, and that means sticking to deadlines–whether they’re self-imposed or not.

I never had a problem with deadlines; during my school days, my assignments were always done on time. During my stint as a pharmacist, I would stop at nothing to make sure that people had their prescriptions ready by the promised time. When I transitioned into my career as a self-published author, I created my own deadlines. Suddenly, I didn’t have teachers or patients breathing down my neck, and I was able to be totally self-directed, which I loved.

For the first year, I churned out one new book per month, sometimes two if I released a box set, and I stuck to my deadlines religiously. When Antonio and I were blessed with our daughter last October, I set slightly less aggressive deadlines, and was able to meet them all… that is, until about a month ago when I had to ask my editor for my first-ever extension.

Even if your clock is this cool-looking, it's still reminding you of the dreaded deadline. :)

Even if your clock is this cool-looking, it’s still reminding you of the dreaded deadline. 🙂

Every muscle in my body tensed at the mere thought of an extension. I felt like I had failed–my editor, my readers, and, most of all, myself. Yet there was no way that I could’ve submitted my book by the promised date. I’d been traveling, but I’d thought I’d have plenty of opportunities to make up for lost time while Xaviana napped. However, when she began teething, her naps (i.e., my writing time) became irregular, and I just couldn’t catch up.

The good news was that I set a new deadline with my editor, and was able to meet it. I released the book, and am now hard at work on the next one–and hoping to meet the next deadline haha. Xaviana is napping well again, I’m writing, and all is right with my world. 🙂

This made me think about how work for a writer-mom is constantly evolving–just like our babies themselves. As I’ve told myself so many times, we just need to be flexible, and I suppose our deadlines have to be, too. Writer-moms (and dads) out there, what do you think? What experiences do you have with deadlines? Do you always meet them, or do you find that it’s better to keep them a bit loose sometimes? What about those of you with older kids? I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences!

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New Year’s Writing Resolutions

I don’t know about you, but a fresh new year motivates me like nothing else. Even though it happens every 365 days and is therefore not all that special, each new year is like a blank slate. Somehow, I feel like I can be anything, and do anything, after the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve. Perhaps I have delusions of grandeur from a few too many sips of champagne, but still…there’s just something magical about a new year.

This year, my resolutions are writing-related, so, of course, I must share them with you! After all, blogging creates accountability, so I’ll just have to follow up on these resolutions, right?!!

Image courtesy of claimfame.com

Image courtesy of claimfame.com

So, here they are… 5 writing resolutions for 2015!

  1. Release one eBook per month – I was able to maintain this rigorous pace throughout 2014, with the exception of the month of November, when I took some time off after the birth of my daughter. Now that our family has settled into a nice rhythm, however, I plan to write and publish an eBook every month this year!
  2. Finish the California Mermaids series with a bang – I won’t lie; the California Mermaids series has disappointed me a bit. I was so inspired to write in a totally new genre, but, unfortunately, the mermaid books are just not selling as well as I’d thought. Therefore, I’ve fought with my momentum as I’ve written the last book of the series, The Mermaid’s Voyage. Some days, I’m incredibly psyched to write it, but on others I lack motivation. However, the New Year brings a new attitude, so I’ve decided that I’m going to have fun with the book and write the most amazing series finale I can. Which leads me to my next resolution…
  3. Return to the Amish Fiction Genre – While formatting my Amish Couples Box Set, I just happened to skim the ending of Amish Baby, and I teared up as I read about Hannah’s faith and God’s work. I realized that I missed incorporating themes of faith and God into my books, and at that moment, I knew that my heart was telling me to return to Amish fiction.
  4. Participate in NaNoWriMo – You may recall that I performed my own version of NaNoWriMo in 2014. Here’s the blog post I wrote about it. However, I want to do it right in 2015, and follow all the rules–for the first time ever.
  5. Attend a Writing Conference – Conferences are the perfect places to find inspiration, network with other writers, and just have an all-around good time. That’s why a return to the conference scene is in the cards this year!

Writers out there, do you have New Year’s writing resolutions? If so, what are they? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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Vlog: Unpublished Excerpt of “Amish Summer”

Happy Monday all! I hope everyone had an inspired post-Halloween weekend. 🙂

In between weekend festivities, I was able to do a little work: Here’s a video of me reading an unpublished excerpt of “Amish Summer,” Book 2 of the Amish Hearts series. In this excerpt, Braeden finally reveals his surprise to Rebekah…

I’m releasing the book on 11/11/13 on Amazon. Hope you enjoy today’s vlog!

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I’m on Bloglovin!

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Maybe I should’ve added a sixth blogging tip to my last post: join Bloglovin. I heard about it from a friend of mine and just joined. It’s just another fun way to increase discoverability while blogging!

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people who write

Macmillan Children's Publishing Group launches crowdsource YA Romance imprint Publishers Weekly reports Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group has launched a new crowdsourced imprint called Swoon Reads. The YA Romance imprint will create a community online allowing writers to submit their manuscripts directly to the publisher. Visitors to the site will be encouraged to read, rate, comment on submissions, and share feedback on cover design and marketing. The manuscripts achieving the highest ratings by readers and an in-house Swoon Reads editorial team will be published in paperback and e-book editions. The Swoon Reads website will launch in spring 2013; the first Swoon Reads novels will be released in 2014. Between this venture, Random House’s recent signing of a 17 year old YA novelist, and the New York Times’ distinction between YA and Middle Grade on their Children’s fiction bestseller list, 2013 is shaping up to be a good year for Children’s Book authors. Of course, with all eyes on the Children’s…

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