Thursday, April 27, 2017

Clicking Our Heels - Writing: Passion or Work?

Clicking Our Heels – Writing: Passion or Work?

Stiletto Gang members all write, but the question is why? Read on to find out whether we consider writing a job, a passion or a hobby and whether our emotional reaction to it has changed.

Kay Kendall – I consider writing to be my calling. I have always written, even in my previous job. I just never wrote fiction before I took it up ca. 1999. I didn’t think I had any stories to tell. Now I do have them. I just needed more confidence, and a bit of age, in order to feel comfortable in telling my stories. 

Linda Rodriguez – To me, writing is my vocation, which means it’s my job, but it’s also a passion.
If I never needed to earn another dollar again, I would still write.

Sparkle Abbey – It’s always been a passion and for both of us simply a part of who we are. Like many others we’ve always written and have had a love for words. Since signing a contract for our first four books in 2010, it’s had to become more of a job because we have deadlines to deal with. That’s been an adjustment but one we’re okay with. We just signed a contract for more books, so we’re excited to continue writing the Pampered Pets mystery series. 

Cathy Perkins – Writing is both a (second) job and a passion. Being time constrained takes a toll on me, especially when my creative side has to take a back seat to the part of my life that comes with a paycheck. Fortunately, my husband sleeps through me turning on the light at 3 A> to scribble down scene ideas and snippets of dialogue. What, your subconscious doesn’t keep right on writing at night? 

Kimberly Jayne – Writing is definitely not a hobby for me. It’s a job that I’m passionate about, although I dislike referring to it as a “job,” which for me carries a negative connotation. It reminds me too much of the day jobs I’ve had over my lifetime that I didn’t want to go to each day but, of course, had to. Writing has become more important to me over the years because I feel, like many, that time is running out to achieve the many writing goals I had set for myself when I was in my twenties. If fulfills me in a way it didn’t previously as well, which I think comes from acquiring the confidence and competence in my skills and talents that I didn’t have when I was young. 

Debra H. Goldstein – Passion. I walked away from a lifetime judicial appointment to pursue writing, at whatever level I am capable of, because of the joy it gives. 

Paffi S. Flood – As a job. I have a routine to where I’m at my laptop every morning at 9:00 to do something. It isn’t always writing. It could be something as simple as plotting out a scene for clarity,
but I do it. That’s the only way I can make progress on my manuscript.

Jennae Phillippe – All of the above. Sometimes it feels like more work than other times. I am at my best when I can tap into writing as a passion, and at my worse when it feels like a chore. I think when I start to think like a publisher and imagine what sort of stories are marketable, it feels the most like a job, and when I think like that 14-year-old kid who just wanted to write fantastical stories, I enjoy it the most. I just need to think like a marketing savvy 14-year-old and I’ll crack the writing code. 

Bethany Maines – With my day job as a graphic designer, I’ve learned that having a passion IS work. But writing has evolved over time to be something that was just for me, into something that is more outward facing and shaped for an exterior audience. 

Paula Gail Benson – Yes. Since 2013, when I seriously began making submissions, it has been a job. It remains a passion. It’s no longer just a hobby, because even if I’m writing to help a group with which I’m affiliated, I have to take credit for my prose and know it will be judged with professional standards.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Short post

This week is an exciting week for me as I will be awarded the MWA Raven Award on Thursday. I have to give a speech. Too frightening for me, but I’m going to do it. I wrote it. I read it out loud. Made changes and I hope I don’t ramble when I get up to the podium. All my life, I shied away from public speaking. This will definitely be a stepping out of my comfort zone moment.

So, tell me, how do you cope with stepping out of your comfort zone?

Friday, April 21, 2017

Life Lessons

by Linda Rodriguez

I’ve been around for a lot more than a few years. And, stubborn as I can be, I’ve learned some things along the way. Oddly enough, it’s not the big lessons that have made a difference in my life, but a series of small rules for happy living that I’ve learned to make a part of my daily life. 

  1. Do at least one thing a day that gives you pleasure. 
  2. Live your life in chapters. Focus on the chapter you’re in now. You don’t have to do/have/be it all now!
  3. Don’t get overwhelmed. Break everything into baby steps. One page a day is a book in a year. Fifteen minutes a day on any overwhelming or distasteful task adds up and eventually will lengthen on its own. The ordinary kitchen timer is your friend.
  4. Always clean up your messes.
  5. Be kind to yourself and others.
  6. Give something back.
  7. Use it, appreciate it, or lose it. Your body, mind, belongings. Remember, unapplied knowledge is wasteful (f not tragic).
  8. Make time to do often what you do well and enjoy. Spend time with people who think you’re great. When the world isn’t noticing you, notice and reward yourself. Give others recognition, in turn.
  9. Make quiet time for yourself alone every day. And a corollary is have a place, even merely a spot, that’s just for you. Use it for devotions, meditation, journaling, or just reading. Give yourself 10 minutes of silence every day.
  10. Pay attention to your breath. Conscious breath control can help you control stress, worry, and fear and replace them with calm and peace.
  11. You create the path you’ll walk on in life with your words. Think before you speak. Remind yourself that, to a great extent, you are creating your reality when you speak.
  12. Pay attention to your own emotional needs and desires.
  13. Decide what you want your life to look like. Write it down. In detail.
  14. Act “as if.” Imagine if your desired life were here now, if you could not fail. What would you do? Do it.
  15. Conserve your energy. Rid your life of energy thieves—negative people and habits.

What about you? What rules would you add to my list?

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Taxis, Uber and Career Path Choices

By Cathy Perkins

I had to go to LA for the day job this week. At LAX, I trotted out to Ground Transportation. I’d heard LA didn’t allow Uber drivers in the ground transportation aisle (where the nine million shuttles and taxis wait), so I grabbed a taxi to head to my meeting. The driver shot away from the curb before even asking my destination. 

Who knows, maybe he was afraid his fare would escape.

After pulling up the street address from my email and sharing the location with the driver, I opened an app to track our path to the destination. The driver was livid and told me in no uncertain terms that he didn’t want me telling him where or how to drive. Or that I thought I knew better than he did how to get where we were going. There might have been a few other “rules” thrown around, but I’d quit listening by that point.

I’m still not entirely sure what his actual objection was, but I muted the sound and left the app running. Okay, part of the reason I run the route app is security. I’m in a city I don’t know well, with a person I don’t know the first thing about.  And he’s not exactly making me feel safe as he drives like a maniac, squeezing into non-existent gaps in traffic, alternating between sixty and zero in shoulder wrenching seconds. (Yes, I put on my seat belt!) The other reason for running the app is to put names to the streetscape flowing past my window. Oh look. That’s Marina Del Ray with all the fabulous boats. I didn’t know Loyola Marymount University had a campus here. It’s lovely.  

Somewhere along the way this driver ranted about Uber. By this point, I’d tuned him out and looked at the window (while keeping a surreptitious eye on the app and the route). When the meeting concluded and I needed a ride back to the airport, who did I call? You got it in one. I tapped the Uber app and a driver appeared within minutes.

The Uber driver’s car was new and spotless. The driver himself was charming. In spite of what you may have read about some disgruntlement among Uber drivers, this guy loved his job. He drove full time, but set his own hours and avoided the late afternoon crush of LA’s notorious traffic. I got the impression he spent most afternoons at the beach before returning to the streets for several more hours of evening driving. (Great way to get home from a club or restaurant if you’ve like to have a glass of wine with dinner.)

The other information he freely shared was his business structure. Because he’s been with Uber for over four years, his percentage of the fare has increased from 80% to 90%. With his portion of the proceeds, he covers all his own expenses, including the decision to upgrade (and afford) the car he was driving. His positive ratings from passengers apparently also move him up in the ranking for notifications in his area when he’s looking for his next fare.

In the waiting area at LAX, I couldn’t help but compare the two transportation modes to the evolving status of publishing. Taxis and traditional publishing seem established and “safe” while Uber and independent publishing seem riskier. That risk level in the newer technologies drops, however, as the concept grows and evolves.

So how does transportation compare with publishing? While a few big names still pull in significant advances from traditional publishers, midlist authors have been cut left and right. Royalty rates are puny and print runs are decreasing. On the plus side, the publisher covers most of the production costs for the book. Likewise for the taxi driver, the rate of pay is reduced, but the cab company pays more of the expense—which sometimes means a sleek towncar and at others, a rust-bucket you hope makes it to your destination. The author may be assigned a top notch editor and talented cover artist, and receive superb marketing placement. Or he or she may end up with a new untested editor and little publisher support.

Like the Uber driver, the independent author can potentially earn a much larger royalty but also must cover his or her business expenses. The author has the choice of where to spend and how much capital to allocate. New car/clean up the existing vehicle? Hire a top notch editor/ask a friend to beta read? What can the author competently handle and where is it better to hire experienced assistants? Each step has financial repercussions. And each person must make the career choice they feel is correct for them.

The most important decision the author (and driver) must make however? What will give the passenger/reader the best experience?

Because isn’t that what it’s all about?

By the way, I’m sure you’ll be surprised to hear that next time I’m in LA, I take Uber rather than stepping into that taxi.

An award-winning author of financial mysteries, Cathy Perkins writes twisting dark suspense and light amateur sleuth stories.  When not writing, she battles with the beavers over the pond height or heads out on another travel adventure. She lives in Washington with her husband, children, several dogs and the resident deer herd.

Visit her at her website or her Amazon author page.