Kristen Lamb

Author, Blogger, Social Media Jedi

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Posts Categorized: Success

Last Monday I posted a blog The Linchpin of ALL Success—Invoking the NO! and I appreciate all the comments. Today I want to address some of what to expect when we make the decision to Invoke the NO, because when we are prepared for what likely WILL happen, we:

a) Will be calmer because we anticipate any attacks.

b) Can make an action plan.

c) Are able to arm ourselves with truth, which will cut away the lies we’ll will hear (from others but also from ourselves).

Why Invoke the No?

First of all, if you missed it, hope you will check out the first post on this. But let me lay it down for you this way to make the necessity of NO very clear.

Back in a time long ago before Amazon, HBO and Netflix, humans learned piling rocks around where they lived and slept was a primo plan for keeping out predators and bad guys.

In fact (in large part due to the lack of Netflix and HBO) humans dedicated a lot of time, energy and thought into better ways to do this rock-piling-thing.

At first they called it Fred, but that didn’t evoke the emotion they wanted to convey and thus Fred became “Wall”, which sounded a tad more intimidating.

Don’t argue. It’s “history.”

Anyway, walls became a HUGE deal. Cities who had them prospered. In fact, the bigger and better the wall, the MORE respect the city garnered from those around them.

Humans who dwelled in places with no walls had a far higher fatality rate due to invaders (human and animal variety), and their life spans were roughly 50.7% lower than those who dwelled inside the protection of a wall.

Those with no wall who did NOT die, had an 89% greater chance of slavery and reported a 99% lower “life satisfaction” rating.

According to my completely fictional yet historically “accurate” statistics, a person had a 76% greater chance of being devoured alive by a lion OUTSIDE a wall compared to those dwelling inside.

Outsiders knew better than to %$# with cities with high walls. Namely because %$#ing with people with high walls involved a 123% greater chance of having boiling oil, fiery arrows and diseased animals tossed on you from above.

Thus any strategist with the IQ higher than an eggplant could see that conquest, exploitation, and general naughtiness had a far higher success rate when no wall was involved.

Thus by analyzing the historical and scientific data one can hopefully see a clear pattern.

Walls–>AWESOME

No Walls–> PAIN, SUFFERING, LION FOOD

Shall We Mention Gates?

Image via Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of chelmsfordblue

All great walls ALSO needed gates, which was why Og (the one who first came up with plans for a Fred), was promptly fired—as in literally set ON fire—when Og left out a simple but apparently vital detail—a way to get in and out of this new thing known as the newly renamed WALL.

****Upon later review the elders decided to deal more kindly with engineers and “firing” didn’t necessarily have to involve actual fire.

While walls were awesome for keeping out invaders, predators and door-to-door salesmen they also kept out vital ingredients for staying alive, like food, fresh water, and supplies.

Thus gates became an integral and critical part of the wall…but were ALSO fortified in new and improved ways over the ages. My resources indicate the portcullis was the brainchild of one too many family get togethers gone horribly wrong #RedWedding.

What Does this WALL Stuff Mean for ME?

From the beginning of time, those who lacked a boundary were preyed upon and enslaved to the agenda of others. This has not changed.

When we fail to set boundaries (a wall) others won’t respect us and we open ourselves up to being chained to the needs, wants, desires and drama of others.

No, we might not get ripped apart by lions, but the PTA is a close enough comparison.

If we previously did NOT have a wall, then decided to build one….

Those who’ve benefitted from taking what they wanted and shackling us to their whims will NOT be happy. Expect this. If we’ve trained others to treat us like a never ending vending machine (though note vending machines are paid money), these folks are NOT going to rejoice when we cut off their unlimited supply lines into OUR resources and energy reserves.

Thus today I am tossing down the gauntlet:

We can be popular or powerful.

Invoking the NO is building a wall, but any superlative wall design also comes with a fortified gate. We can allow folks in and out at appropriate times, meaning no we don’t serve 24 hour Make You Happy Meals.

Those who respect our time, energy, and resources can come and go and get all the goodies that go with honoring boundaries. Those who refuse to get with the plan?

Boundaries Benefit Everyone

Seriously, they do! Anything worth having is generally not easy. Boundaries and Invoking the NO! are hard but the rewards are priceless. How?

#1—Boundaries prevent conflict.

Why? Because there is a clear line. Like my house has doors and a stranger wandering into my house is legitimately viewed a home invader.

If, however, I dwelled in a lawn chair sheltered by a pool umbrella in the middle of a field, a passerby would have no idea he/she was crossing a boundary. Thus, me shouting I was a victim of a home invasion would be a tough sell.

Too many of us are being worn out over drama and conflict and being pulled at, yet we’re the person dwelling in a lawn chair with a pool umbrella. Sure we want to be angry at the intruder, but we actually are at fault for failing to make the boundary clear in the first place.

Set the boundary and we save precious time, energy and resources with a simple addition of clarity. Refuse to fight battles that can easily be prevented in the first place 😉 .

#2—Boundaries help others grow (up).

When we do for others what they are able to do for themselves, we stagnate their growth and can benevolently cripple them. Our “helping” weakens the other person’s ability to grow, mature and develop their capacity to handle and triumph over life’s troubles.

And it also wears us the hell out.

And sure, maybe the “offending party” is trying to offload something they can’t do for themselves, but if we step in and do it for them, they never have to dig deep and hustle to learn on their own.

Also (if you’re anything like me) for a long time I was stepping in and “fixing stuff” that only was broken because those around me made bad decisions…and KEPT making them *growls*

If I kept intercepting, protecting them from consequences of their own poor decisions, how were they supposed to learn to make BETTER decisions?

Like maybe you (my child) should not have waited until the night before the big science project was due to start working on it. #SucksToBeYou

#3—Boundaries force us to eschew what is easy and reach for what is best.

Many of the commenters on the last post expressed guilt over Invoking the NO particularly in regards to children. As a mother myself? I totally get it!

We often do hear the:

You are writing? OMG. You’re a terrible mother for not instantly fulfilling an impromptu order for a sandwich and Goldfish!

THIS is what your kids are going to tell their future (court-appointed) therapist. THIS is why they had no choice but to abduct hitchhikers…to fashion their OWN Mommy out of body parts.

Because YOU WERE NOT THERE! #MommyDearest #TheGoldfishMadeMeDoIt #Neglect

Here’s the deal, our job as parents aside from the whole food and shelter thing, is to train up healthy well-adjusted and kind adults.

If they cannot SEE it, they cannot BE it.

If all our kids see is Mommy (or Daddy) running around like a one-legged man at an @$$-kicking contest, people pleasing to the point of exhaustion…odds are we’re training our children to grow into one of two kinds of adults—doormats or users.

Either they will have no clue how to set a boundary because they’ve never witnessed this phenomenon in practice. OR they will learn boundaries aren’t worthy of honoring and anyone trying to enforce one a) doesn’t really mean it so keep nagging or b) they are personally attacking them by not instantly catering to their needs.

***Granted this is a broad spectrum, but still. Food for thought 😉 .

If we’re demonstrating to our kids that our goals and dreams aren’t worth protecting, how will they know (practically) how to protect their goals and dreams once they are adults?

We certainly weren’t hit in the head with a self-discipline magic wand, why would they?

And also, especially with children (but also friends, family, organizations) we can show them that we are saying NO to a frittering meaningless kind of engagement. This opens more time for the meaningful and memorable YES.

Like when Spawn leaves me alone to write and I get my work finished THEN I have time to go play with him at the park and be fully present. Thus my son (hopefully) learns the benefits of delayed gratification…BY EXAMPLE.

For instance, last week Spawn wanted me to hang out and watch Ninjago, but I needed to finish two major edits (WAY less fun than watching Ninjago), but alas I put a boundary….but then the REWARD!

Dunno, I think this time with Mommy playing her workout playlist for him to swing to is probably a memory that will have greater resonance.

We have to remember that kids (and adults) often won’t pay attention to what we SAY but will almost always pay attention to what we DO. When we say what we mean and mean what we say, this builds mutual respect (remember the wall–>respect thing?). Our words mean more because we are invoking the editor’s creed: SHOW DON’T TELL.

And yes it is HARD…at first. But it gets easier with practice and if we hope to be successful in ANYTHING, we gotta nail this boundary-setting thing.

Especially writers, since too many folks seem to think we don’t have a “real job.” Well, maybe they are thinking that because of OUR actions.

If we drop everything to cater to others, that is NOT a real job.

No brain surgeon goes…”Sorry, I have to leave the O.R. My kid forgot his essay at home, so can you keep the patient stable for say an hour?”

No lawyer leaves a courtroom in the middle of a case to go pick up her mother’s dry cleaning.

Y’all get the gist.

What are your thoughts? Have you been taking the Invoke the NO! Challenge? Tell us your successes! Where you struggle. Maybe we can talk it out, war game some strategies? Do you struggle with discerning “helping” from “enabling”? I certainly do, but I am a work in progress TOO!

I LOVE HEARING FROM YOU! And I am NOT above BRIBERY!

What do you WIN? For the month of September, for everyone who leaves a comment, I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly. I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novel, or your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).

Also in the spirit of making yourself a priority, I highly recommend you sign up for one of our upcoming classes listed below. ****Note, those who subscribe by email, the visual gallery doesn’t show, so please click through and sign up! We look forward to seeing you and serving you in class! Helping you with boundaries and working smarter, not harder 😀 .

How to Dominate Your Sex Scenes (No Safe Words Here). $45.00 USD. Wednesday, October 11, 2017. 7:00-9:00 p.m. EST. Click the image to register!
Painting With Words: Using Description and Sensory Details. $40.00 USD. Saturday, Monday, October 9, 2017. 7:00-7:00 p.m. EST. Click the image to register!
Social Media for Writers. $35.00 USD. Thursday, October 19, 2017. 7:00-9:00 p.m. EST. Click the image to register!
Harnessing Our Writing POWER---The BLOG! $50.00 USD. Thursday, October  26th, 2017. 7:00 p.m.--9:00 p.m. EST. Click the image to register!

One major advantage of being older is the blessing of perspective. Us “older folk” have lived enough years to have gained decades of experiences, failures, mistakes, victories, setbacks, trials, and tests. This means we have the benefit of context. Many of us also have a clearer picture of what “success” really looks like. What is important and what’s worth our time and what is not.

Stuff we freaked out over and that was world-ending as a teen? We laugh at now when we see that same drama in our own kids or the children of others.

We may even shake out heads and think, “I wish I would have known this when I was younger.”

Of all the lessons I’ve learned, there’s one that surpasses them all—a linchpin to any kind of meaningful life, love, success, peace or prosperity. Good news is the lesson is simple. Bad news, it’s far from easy.

I challenge you to…INVOKE THE NO!

The Power of NO!!!!

Yes, invoke the NO. NO to the wrong stuff makes room for the YES for the right stuff.

Seriously, give yourself a quota of Nos. Start with 5 and work from there. No to yourself, no to others. The word NO is the key. Yeah, this song below is about pickup-lines in clubs and is cute and I bought it and work out to it and recommend it. It doesn’t specifically apply to our NO lesson, but the chorus is actually highly useful as an ear worm.

Just retool it for your specific needs.

Kristen’s version?

My name is…NO.

My sign is…NO.

My email is…NO.

My best day to bake cookies is…NO.

I gotta let you go. My answer still is no.

Setting Boundaries Using the NO

I could and probably will write a whole book on this one day but trust me when I tell you it is impossible to enjoy any kind of success, meaning, joy, peace or prosperity unless we become masters at setting firm boundaries, which again means invoking the NO.

TIME is a treasure, the most valuable possession we have.

Every minute a gold coin, every hour a jewel, every week a necklace, every year a crown. We are given this treasure at birth (though we never are aware of the treasure’s actual size). We take time for granted, thus too often fail to guard it with the NO. We give into the easy “yes” which steals our treasure one coin, one jewel at a time.

Then we are clueless as to why we are emotionally bankrupt and have nothing to show for all this work. Truth is there is a HUGE difference between being busy and being productive and that difference is two letters long.

N-O.

We Can’t Have It All

Why is saying NO so tough? Because, we are flawed humans who have a tendency to get greedy (including me). We don’t want to believe we really cannot have it all.

Blunt truth time…

“Having it all” is a marketing LIE used to sell us stuff we won’t use, don’t need, can’t afford and frequently cannot even FIND. “Having it ALL” is a tactic to rook us into spending time instead of investing time 😉 .

INVOKE THE NO!

Anyone who tells us we can say “yes” to everything is a) a fool or b) playing us for the fool. Yet part of growing and learning and maturing is we too often DO fall for the delusion we can have it all and this makes us, for lack of a better word…a dumb@$$.

This dumb@$$ery is usually most visibly witnessed January 2nd of every year.

Even I’ve had stupid ideas/life plans like:

I’m going to have a bikini body, build up the home business into a multi-billion-dollar franchise, have an immaculate home, an organic vegetable garden, romantic getaways with Hubby, write ten novels, bake gluten-free nut-free vegan paleo cookies for Spawn’s school bake sale, and volunteer rescuing homeless baby pygmy goats, which I will then crochet onesies for—obviously made from yarn I will spin myself.

*hair flip*

Imagine my shock when, at the gym, I realized Spin Class had all these bicycles that were only producing pain and sadness…and NOT yarn for my pygmy goat onesies.

Boundaries INCREASE FOCUS—Use Your NO Lens

NO is a lens that focuses energy and amplifies our actions. By the power of NO, we accomplish more with less. When we say no to all but that which is a priority, our energy transforms from diffused white light to a laser that can cut through diamonds.

We’re working smarter, not harder.

Boundaries on OURSELVES

Again NO.

Earlier I said the secret to everything is boundaries. It IS simple. If I set a priority (finished novel) I must then place boundaries around that priority starting with myself by invoking the NO.

Two hours on Instagram watching makeup tutorials….NO.

Binging on HBO series….NO.

Joining in on FB drama…NO.

Volunteering to beta read everyone who asks me…NO.

Boundaries set in place by the Power of NO makes the right YESes easier to spot and harness.

Dedicate two hours working on novel…YES.

Boundaries on OTHERS—N to the No to the No, No, No

Actually takers never WILL.

Placing boundaries on others (family, friends, social media pals, kids, etc.) is the really tough part that requires probably even more training (especially for women who are taught to be “nice”).

Train your NO.

Invoking the NO has power, and the more we use it the stronger it gets.

In many females, our NO is a withered, forgotten muscle. At first when we invoke the NO, it will be painful, uncomfortable and weird. But that’s temporary. It will pass (perhaps like a kidney stone but it will pass).

If we have friends or family who never remember our number until they need money or help moving or free therapy or a place they can unload all their toxic waste (drama) on us?

NO.

Learn to ignore the call (or block the number/unfriend).

When I’m working (writing), I put my phone in Airplane Mode so no one can call or text me. There is the added benefit of silencing the siren’s song of FB pings that could distract me.

I invoke the NO using my Settings. My iPhone is strong so I don’t need to be 😀 .

We also—wait for it—do NOT need to constantly check emails. There’s no law that states we must instantly reply to all messages. We merely must respond in a reasonable amount of time because it is polite.

Anyone who gets pissy because they don’t get “instant” response can get over it. They want instant, they can buy some Sanka.

We have no Make You Happy Meals for sale. So…N to the No to the NO, NO, NO!

Yes, today I have my Sassy Pants on, but I really wish I would’ve understood this simple yet vital lesson in my 20s or 30s or even…four weeks ago.

I love helping and serving and nurturing but there’s only so much of ME (or YOU) to go around. When we focus on US by invoking the NO, we get stronger, and when we are stronger we serve better.

We have more energy, more resources (I.e. great books sales), and more discernment. YES is not always a good thing. If that person who feels the need to vent all over you suddenly can’t reach you to get all the answers spoon fed to them?

Then maybe they will have to grow up, suck it up buttercup and FIGURE IT OUT like adults DO. No is just as good for others as it is for us.

Many emerging writers want to complete NaNoWriMo. My advice? INVOKE THE NO. Want to trim down, lose some fluff? INVOKE THE NO. Want stronger finances, to be debt-free? INVOKE THE NO. Want to finish a novel? INVOKE THE NO.

Y’all get the gist 😉 .

BRING ME NOs! I WANT THEIR HEADS!

What are your thoughts? Do you struggle with invoking the NO? I’m getting better but, until very recently, I’d failed to make NO a deliberate plan and strategy. I’d failed to see I needed to make it stronger.

Which is why I am now paying my STUPID TAX honoring commitments I didn’t say no to but should have.

Like I tell my son:

When the mind is stupid, the body suffers.

Applies to me, too. Sigh. Anyway…

Do you have a hard time saying no to Facebook? Family? School bake sales? Making your kid a sandwich instead of letting him/her figure it out? No to the BIG CLEARANCE SALE? Are you getting better at saying no? What have you said NO to that you are super proud about? Share your victory and inspire us!

Do you think you could invoke the no 5 times a day? Ready to take the INVOKE THE NO CHALLENGE?

Are you an older person who now has wisdom you wish you’d have had when you were young? What do you wish you would have learned earlier in life? Share your stories OH WISE ONES!

I LOVE HEARING FROM YOU! And I am NOT above BRIBERY!

What do you WIN? For the month of September, for everyone who leaves a comment, I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly. I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novel, or your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).

We are in the process of moving classes around due to the two MONSTER hurricanes so a fresh class list will be available next post. You can also dash over to W.A.N.A. International to check out what’s coming up and get your spot!

It doesn’t matter what area of life we long to improve, mindset is absolutely critical. Where we set our sights? That’s where we will go. But I get it, life is exhausting. Many of us are still on summer mode, perhaps struggling to get in gear and on a schedule.

The magic has fizzled and our flame has all but gone out. I feel your pain *fist bump* That’s why today we’re gonna dive into the deep and explore three ways to reignite that MOJO! Mojo…you know. Magic, passion, story sorcery?

That thing your kids probably drown in Cheerios and milk over summer vaca OR you put it someplace you’d remember where you put it? Yes, that.

It’s cool. You’ll be all right.

First, an illustration 😀 .

My newest favorite book is The Book of Mysteries by Jonathan Cahn, and what I like about it is there are 365 mysteries, one for each day of the year.

The Parable of the Straight Path

One of the stories in the book talks about an ancient and powerful king who promised that any man who could make it to his kingdom walking a perfectly straight line would be allowed to marry his daughter (which essentially would put the suitor in line for the crown of this vast and wealthy kingdom).

Key fact to note: The castle could be seen from all around because on top of the highest tower a large flame burned day and night.

Suitor after suitor tried and failed to complete the challenge even though the terrain was a rough, rocky, mountainous mess. They’d get there, but none managed to complete the journey walking a completely straight path.

Then, finally, one man achieved this seemingly impossible goal. The king, awestruck, asked how the young man managed to accomplish such a feat.

The suitor replied, “I set my eyes on that beacon on top of your castle and walked toward that, one foot in front of the other, no matter what.”

Yeah, it’s the Great Wall of China but work with me here. Pay attention to the FLAME.

See, the other suitors (who failed) took their eyes off the beacon and, instead, paid attention to the paths, the roads, the rocks, the thickets and thorns and hills. They focused on everything but what mattered most…the end goal.

In life, we run into this same scenario all the time. Many reading this blog have a goal of being professional authors who are paid well to do what they love.

But then we see laundry, and housework and bills, and all the KDP drama, and Amazon and the competition and on and on and on. Not only does this make for a formula to get utterly lost, it’s also a recipe to give up because we get overwhelmed.

Thus, today, I want to hand on some lessons I’ve learned through almost two decades of doing some things right, but most things wrong. Smart folks learn from their own mistakes, but wise folks learn from the mistakes of others 😉 .

#1—REMEMBER Talk is Cheap

Oh this one was a toughy for me. Still is. The best indicator of future behavior is past behavior. We need to be really careful who we allow access into our lives, who we partner with for any kind of a goal. Sure, they may make promises with a silver tongue, but pay close attention to their track record.

I’ve been burned by this one so badly, I practically needed ego debridement. Remove all the damaged singed stuff and hope to heavens it healed.

Folks I delegated important matters to, knowing these people had a history of flaking out or bailing when stuff got hard. Oh, but they promised…

Yeah. Talk is cheap and your time (my time) is valuable.

I have to use this on lecture myself as well, btw. Less talking and more doing. It isn’t real until it’s on paper. Period. We want to set our goals (our MOJO) on fire…not ourselves.

#2—UNDERSTAND Failure is Priceless

Talk might be cheap but failure? Failure is priceless. Failure will teach us a million times more than success ever will. Humans are wired to learn from failure.

Not a single human has ever been born and, on Day One, could run track and quote Shakespeare (or these oddities were born, then promptly flown in black helicopters to Area 51 for study).

We learn by failing. This doesn’t apply only to babies but to all of us at all ages and in all things.

Why?

Because when we fail, often this happened because we were reaching for something beyond our current abilities. We were adding weight to the bench press machine beyond what was easy. Trying and failing and going again makes us stronger, smarter, faster and wiser.

No entrepreneur creates a juggernaut business by magically knowing all the right moves. No marriage lasts twenty or fifty or sixty years without mishaps and mistakes and pressing on through the pain.

Failure is the greatest gift we can be given.

It can show us where we are weak, strengthen what is lacking, reveal flawed ideas or tactics and help us learn better ones.

“Failure” can also reveal happy accidents, success we never actually planned in the first place. Check out this post on 10 Products Discovered by Accident, which includes but is not limited to Viagara, coffee, and chocolate chip cookies 😉 .

The odd thing about Western culture is we SAY we value innovation and breaking rules…then we send kids to school to teach them to follow rules, not to question and that failure is bad, mistakes are terrible and to avoid both at all costs. BUNK!

This means there is a lot of loser-indoctrination we need to unwire from our brains.

Fear is not always the enemy. Fear is often a sign we might be onto something…or not. But we won’t know unless we try.

So, go hit it with a stick. See what happens and if you can create a spark, then a fire, then a BLAZE. We fail. Okay, big deal. Dust off. Assess, adapt and try something new.

#3—DIVE Into the Deep

I tend to be a rather fearless (okay stupid) person. I’ve traveled to some of the most dangerous places on the planet, climbed cliffs, jumped out of planes, and even worn stretchy pants with patterns on them *shivers*.

I am not proud of that last one. Thighs like mine with patterns? Warn any epileptics. Just saying.

Anyway, I DO have a phobia of open deep water or Bathophobia. Figures I would get a phobia with a lame name. Pyrophopia? Way sexier.

But seriously. Hang me off the side of an ocean liner in the middle of the Atlantic and I’d confess everything down to the time I shoplifted bubblegum from the drug store when I was three. Heck, I’d confess to stuff I hadn’t even done just to get back on deck.

Aye, I did spake with the Devil and gaveth him cookies and he gaveth me blog ideas…

But why am I so terrified of open water? Lack of control. Who knows what is beneath me? My fairly definitive position at the top of the food chain evaporates. And my swimming skills? Are on par with Frank Horowitz from Accounting’s breakdancing skills.

As we back away from the metaphor we see that most of us are afraid of the deep. We like the shallows.

Shore is close. We have more control. We aren’t fully committed. Problem is, most of the good stuff is going to be out in the deep, the place we are most afraid to go. Where MOST OTHER people are afraid to go.

When it comes to writing (or business or love or family or sports or whatever) we need to go where others are afraid to. Where WE are afraid to because that is where the most growth will happen the fastest.

I guarantee you my swimming skills would vastly and immediately improve if tossed off the side of a Carnival ship. I would definitely be FIRED up to swim so fast Michael Phelps would be eating my wake.

We won’t (can’t) gain new skills, better skills or even mastery in the shallows. We need to go out into the deep because the deep scares us and fires our @$$es UP! Thus, today, I challenge you to define your “deep.”

Years ago, my “deep” was starting a blog. O…M…G. I was petrified.

When I started blogging, I had the skin of a grape and absolutely fell apart at any kind of criticism. Additionally, I had the self-discipline of a possessed chipmunk with a bad crack habit and unlimited access to Pixie Sticks.

Not exactly ingredients for a NYTBSA (which was what I longed to become).

This meant I needed to fire my muse. She was too nice and resembled my grandma who gave me all the candy I wanted and told me to take lots of naps. Instead, I had to hire Samuel L. Jackson who yells at me and is unafraid to make me cry.

Most of all, I had to jump into the deep. The more I blogged, the better my writing. The more haters I got, the tougher my skin (and the more SLJ Muse yelled at me and promised to bust a cap in my @$$). The more I trained, the more disciplined I became, but this never would have happened in the shallows.

So TODAY. Define your DEEP (and maybe hand your muse a pink slip). Then, while you pursue YOUR DEEP remember talk is cheap and failure is priceless. Keep pressing and moving forward with your eyes on the beacon of flame (the goal). And hey, unlike me? You have help, a team.

We are not alone 😀 .

What are your thoughts? Do you struggle with doubt? Distraction? What distracts you most and why? Is it fear you might really do something remarkable? Are you afraid of failure? Have you overcome that fear? What is your deep? Does it have a name? Have you even taken time to ponder what it is?

Do you need to fire your muse? Who would you replace him or her with? Inquiring minds want to know!

I love hearing from you!

For the month of September, for everyone who leaves a comment, I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly. I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novel, or your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).

NEW CLASSES FOR SEPTEMBER AND MORE!

All classes come with a FREE recording!

We’ve added in classes on erotica/high heat romance, fantasy, how to write strong female characters and MORE! Classes with me, with USA Today Best-Selling Author Cait Reynolds, award-winning author and journalist Lisa-Hall Wilson, and Kim Alexander, former host of Sirius XM’s Book Radio. So click on a tile and sign up!

Villains & Anti-Heroes: The Characters We Love and Hate. $45.00 USD. Tuesday, September 12, 2017. 7:00-9:00 p.m. EST. Click the image to register!
Hooked: Catching Readers in the First Five Pages. $40.00 USD. Thursday, September 14, 2017. 7:00-9:00 p.m. EST. Click the image to register!
Turn Your Passion Into A Business: Making Money As A Writer. $40.00 USD. Monday, September 25, 2017. 7:00-9:00 p.m. EST. Click the image to register!
Guilty Pleasures: Writing Suspense, Thrillers, and Crime. Tuesday, September 26, 2017. 7:00-9:00 p.m. EST. Click the image to register!
Outside the Box: How to Read More, Write Less, and Up Your Fiction Game. Friday, September 29, 2017. 7:00-9:00 p.m. EST. Click the image to register!

Today we are going to talk about something potentially embarrassing, but hey I have no shame. But I believe this is a cool thing because I talk about stuff A LOT of people have been through, but few are bold enough to talk about let alone post it in a blog for all to see.

The old way of being a “professional” was to portray you were perfect. Spin everything. Maybe some people still do that, but meh. Not my style. I take the hard hits then talk about them so you guys can learn and to me? That’s more important than anyone thinking I am “perfect.”

So…

Want to know who people really are? Three ways. One. How do they act when they have everything? Two. How do they act when they have nothing? Three. How do they act (respond) when the proverbial caca hits the fan?

For the purposes of today’s blog, I’m interested in number three because it involves a lot of number two (the stinky kind). Before we start though, we must understand that….

Life is NOT Hermetically Sealed

I’d love to say that every time some land mine blew up in my face that my response soooo perfect that Mother Theresa was looking down gettin’ all jealous. That I handled said caca with grace, maturity, kindness, love, yoga, bible study and inspirational quotes. That my response did NOT involve a hell-mouth opening beneath my feet and then spewing out of my mouth. That my reaction did not involve a blast radius.

But one thing I promise on this blog is honesty.

One thing we must learn to be successful in this profession (or any other) is to forbid outside circumstances to own, control or derail us.

Sounds easy in an inspirational quote. The doing? Not so much.

How are we going to handle it when the proverbial caca hits the fan?

Because it is GOING to happen. It isn’t a matter of if, rather a matter of when.

If we allow ourselves to be at the mercy of circumstances? We’re going to be miserable and we’ll never finish the blog or the book. We’ll give up, tap out and take every carb in the house down with us.

Though I’m not where I’d like to be? I’m a hell of a lot better than I used to be. Making the decision to become a writer was the single best thing I could ever have done to grow my character, to mature me and to make me a better (not perfect) person.

Successful people don’t avoid stress, they learn to manage it….often the hard way. Yay!

Managing Expectations


A lot of why we make ourselves miserable and end up depressed is that our expectations fail to meet with what reality delivers. If you ever want to see this in action, just watch Bridezilla clips off YouTube. The bride has this absurd expectation of what the wedding day should be, an expectation that reality cannot meet (No, sorry, we cannot have cherubim deliver you to the altar on a cloud)…and they implode.

A sinkhole forms around the bride that eats all the bridesmaids, the caterer, the flower girl…and the groom is just standing there like he’s just landed at Normandy.

Expecting too much? Can be problematic.

But we need to be careful about the other side of this emotional coin—especially those of us from crazy dysfunctional families. We can stray to the opposite side of the spectrum and that’s dumb too. Maybe we’ve gone through a lot, been let down a lot so we just expect nothing. Or worse, we expect bad things to happen. We expect to be let down.

That is bad juju as well.

Thus, there is this fine dance we must master between expecting great things, but also being prepared for everything to just go sideways, too.

$h%t WILL Hit the Fan

Going to let y’all in on a little secret. Lean closer. This will blow your mind. Publishing involves…humans. Humans who screw up, make mistakes, etc. Even better? Now that we’re in the digital age? Humans can screw up much FASTER and INSTANTLY.

Great right?

Sometimes things will go great. When I self-published Rise of the Machines? It was glorious. Beautiful cover, perfect formatting, not a single typo *gets cramp patting self on back*. Of course this was all run by Control Freak Perfectionist Kristen and I damn near killed myself doing it all on my own.

That and Hubby wondered if he needed to bring me more coffee or perhaps toss holy water on me.

The power of Christ compels you!

I’d written a novel The Devil’s Dance  (ha ha). I even sent the manuscript to an agent friend who was unafraid to make me cry, just to see if the book was solid. Her answer? Great book and I don’t even like that genre. Thus, I felt cool to query. And I queried and queried and got a lot of “Love the story and the voice but not for us.”

See? Even I get rejected 😛 .

But with all the family stuff going on the past few years (my husband ordered to deploy to Afghanistan, deaths in the family, sickness, Shingles, etc. etc.)? I just didn’t have the bandwidth left to push my novel for a legacy deal and still have passion and energy for this blog and classes, etc.

Thus, the book sat and I just kept feeling inside that I needed to take that step. I needed fiction out there because 1) my original goal was to be a novelist 2) I have enough unpublished novels sitting on the hard drive, no need for one more and 3) I needed skin in the game. I can’t blog week after week challenging you guys to be brave…while hiding.

#UNCOOL

To make a long story longer, I finally let go of my novel and handed it to a new indie press. I loved the cover. They did a great job proofreading it and I was really happy with the final version. My launch date got pushed up a week. Was supposed to be May 25th and instead it was May 16th but whatever, right? Roll with it.

So we put it on sale for .99 and I am promoting it and messaging people and then all the sudden this inner is voice telling me, “You need to go look at the sample pages.” And I argued with said inner voice. “Nah. What are you talking about? I saw that final version. I approved it.” Inner voice. “Seriously, GURL. LOOK.”

May I welcome y’all to every control freak’s nightmare…

I pull up the sample pages on Amazon and the world drops out from under me. I have no idea what happened. Sun spots. Mercury in retrograde. Essential human error.

Suffice to say the wrong version was uploaded. Better than that? An un-proofed version. Good news is a lot of people bought the book. Bad news? They bought the wrong one.

Excuse me while I go shoot myself.

The publisher immediately corrects the problem, but then Amazon takes their time and it was a mess. The correct version wasn’t syncing and BLARGH. It certainly was NOT how I envisioned launching my debut novel. There were way more typos and way fewer calls from Hollywood involving talks on an HBO series.

Class, What Did We Learn?

I’m a huge fan of failure. No I’m not high on anything, and trust me. If I have a choice between failing and winning? Winning always feels way better. But failure often can be better FOR us long-term.

If we never fail, we never learn. Show me a person who never fails and I’ll show you someone who’s never done anything interesting. They’ve never done a damn thing themselves and often they have a profile that looks like this…

Then they go sprinkle one-star reviews on Goodreads like frigging fairy dust when they’re not trolling blogs.

I learned not to allow myself to be rushed. I was people-pleasing again. I’d just come off the road and was tired, emotional and thin. I went along instead of saying no, then getting rested and making sure what was being put out there. When it blew up in my face? Aside from scrambling to make it right, I refused to make any big decisions because this Kristen when she’s tired…

Yes, I do turn into Danny Trejo with an ax.

And I’d love to say this would never have happened if only I’d been a Random-Penguin! Everything is perfect for legacy published writers. Right? Yeah, no. They have their own (albeit different horror stories) and one day I am sure I will have my own to share.

See, a lot of bad things will happen to us in life and definitely in publishing. Often is it not our fault, but it is ALWAYS our responsibility. People will make mistakes. The mistake is not the core issue, rather what do they do to FIX it?

And how do we handle it when everything goes pear-shaped?

Obviously this is not me being laissez-faire about mess ups, but there is a balance. Yes, strive for excellence as a standard but also recognize there’s this inconvenient thing called reality 😉 .

I was extremely blessed, namely because of this blog. A lot of fans messaged me to tell me my digital skirt was tucked in my digital underwear instead of hammering me with one-star rants.

I was able to explain what happened and get them the correct version. This only happened (I feel) because 1) I had an established reputation for quality and 2) the fans I’ve cultivated here genuinely want me to succeed because of a long-standing relationship.

*prostrates before you*

***NOTE: If you happened to get the wrong version, feel free to email for the correct one. Send a message to captivequillpress at gmail dot com and either a screenshot of the receipt or image of it on your device and include the email for your kindle. We will get you the correct version.

All In All?

Try stuff. When it goes pear-shaped? Examine it. Study. Learn. Try new stuff. Grow, improve, evolve. Get better, change tack. Wood moths did it and surely we’re as smart as a wood moth, right?

(After coffee.)

And to quote Teddy Roosevelt…

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

What are your thoughts? Have you ever had something go so bad, SO sideways you thought you’d die just from the embarrassment? If so, comment and give us proof of life 😀 . A cover go wrong? Formatting that bit back? Amazon issues? Whatever it is! I like hearing from people who have failed because those are my kind of peeps! People brave enough to at least DO something and give it a go.

LOVE hearing from you guys!

****Just FYI, in an effort to combat spammers your comment won’t appear until I approve it, so don’t fret if it doesn’t appear right away.

Talk to me!

And to prove it and show my love, for the month of JUNE, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly.

I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novel, or your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).

NEW CLASSES!

Obviously, I have my areas of expertise, but I’ve wanted for a long time to fill in some gaps on classes I could offer.

Cait Reynolds was my answer.

She is an unbelievable editor, mentor and teacher and a serious expert in these areas. She consults numerous very successful USA Today and NYTBS authors and I highly, highly recommend her classes.

OMG, Like How to Write Fleek YA July 7th $40 with Cait Reynolds

How to Dominate Your Sex Scenes (No Safe Words Here) July 14th $40 w/ Cait Reynolds

Gaskets and Gaiters: How to Create a Compelling Steampunk World July 21st $35 w/ Cait Reynolds 

Lasers & Dragons & Swords, Oh MY! World Building for Fantasy & Science Fiction 

July 28th w/ Cait Reynolds $35/ GOLD $75/ PLATINUM $125

Classes with MOI!

Plotting for Dummies July 13th $35 ($250 for GOLD)

Blogging for Authors July 20th $50 ($150 for GOLD)

Branding for Authors  July 27th $35

OTHER Classes with Cait Reynolds

Research for Historical Romance Writing – Or, How NOT to Lose Six Hours on Pinterest July 8th $35 for Basic/ $75 for GOLD / $125 for PLATINUM

Shift Your Shifter Romance into High Gear July 15th $35 Basic/ $75 GOLD/ $125 PLATINUM

Classes with Lisa Hall-Wilson

Growing An Organic Platform On Facebook July 22nd $40

 

 

Image via Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of Anamorphic Mike.

Since the boom of the digital age, would-be writers have been practically coming out of the woodwork. Everyone wants to be a writer and hey, I can’t blame them. Sweet gig if you can score it. Yet, many of these eager folks are ill-prepared for the reality of what all an author’s job entails and this job is so much more than simply writing the book (though that is a saber-toothed bugaboo all in itself).

Years ago, when I decided I wanted to become an author, I heard all the sage advice from my writing mentors. Stuff like:

The first three books you write likely will be total crap. Don’t get too attached.

You can’t do this for the money.

Book signings are WAY overrated.

Remember to put on pants when leaving the house.

Me, being a total neophyte completely rolled my eyes because I knew *flips hair* that I was the exception. Yeah about that.

Frankly all of this is seriously excellent advice, especially the part about the pants. But why am I mentioning all of this? Well, I decided to become a novelist…in 2002.

I just published my debut fiction…Tuesday. As in of this week.

Yes I am being serious.

Granted, I did take a side-trip. I knew social media was going to be a MAJOR game-changer for authors. All the people I saw teaching how build a platform were insisting writers turn into marketing robots that shoveled out spam faster than C-Span shovels out BS. And I knew their approach would be more successful at turning writers into cutters than actually selling any books.

For me, becoming a branding expert for creative people was a moral imperative…a calling.

Just not my original calling.

I recall a conversation with a friend back in 2011. She was laying into me that I needed to work on my fiction. My answer?

“Social media is one of the largest tectonic shifts in human communication. There need to be guides. In 5 years? We won’t be as necessary and in 5 years? People will still want thrillers. Social Media How-To’s? Meh. Not so much.”

My years of blogging and being a social media expert and craft teacher kind of remind me of the movie Karate Kid. Instead of writing glorious novels that became instantly famous and were made into movies? Here was Kristen….

Wax on. Wax off. Wax on. Wax off.

But, I was willing to do it (yeah that hadn’t happened before). Sure technical writing, and editing and blogging and writing social media books wasn’t making me a novelist…but I sensed it would get me there and that it was MY road. The road that I needed. The one involving way more @$$ kicking.

Image via www.freerepublic.com

Granted, if I am brutally honest, there is a part of me that feels like a complete loser that it took FIFTEEN years to become a novelist, but I wouldn’t change how this all happened because this seriously long@$$ journey changed who I was. It shaped this undisciplined, self-centered, unlikable, lazy pile of wanna-be-hack into an actual honest to God pro.

Process

Before I decided on “author” I tried a lot of things. Hell, I wanted to be frigging everything when I grew up.

I loved ballet. I wanted to be a dancer. I loved being on stage. But the bleeding, wrecked, blistered feet? Practice six days a week for four hours a day? Working my a$$ off just to end up in the background waving a rose?

Yeah, not so much.

Then I was going to be a doctor. Loved me some science. Even won a military scholarship to become a doctor. I looked seriously cool in the white jacket and practiced signing Dr. Lamb…and deliberately making it messy because who the hell ever heard of a real doctor with legible handwriting?

All was cool at first, but then I had to start dissecting stuff. I’m not squeamish at all. Hell, my mom is a nurse.

But then I hit a crossroad in Majors Biology with, of all things? A starfish. The super smart Indian kid next to me in lab? His starfish was PERFECT. Like razor lines and every tiny organ laid out and delicately pinned in artful perfection.

My starfish? It looked like it got drunk then called Chuck Liddell a p***y at which point said starfish got pounded into paste…then peed on.

And what I realized was that, while science and medicine “in theory” fascinated me, I just wasn’t in love with the process of getting any good at it. Hell if I did that to a starfish? Yeah. Probably best not to let me near people.

There is a point in all of this and hopefully one that you guys will find helpful. I certainly had aptitude for all the careers that interested me, but I lacked one critical element—love for the process.

Was I willing to do anything for however long it took to get good at it? Really good. Maybe even the best? Nope.

That was, until I decided to become an author. Then everything changed.

The Author’s Life FOR REAL

There is this myth perpetuated by popular culture that talent is vitally important, when in actuality it is highly overrated. People seem to believe that if we are skilled with language then magically we’re capable of creating a work spanning 60K-110K words as easily as breathing.

They seem to think anyone with command of their native tongue can whip out a novel, no problemo. Writing is EASY!

***Note: These were the same people paying us a hundred bucks in college to help them with a four-page essay while they chewed a Xanax *rolls eyes*

No, writing is not easy. It is a craft. We are builders. But instead of getting wood and nails and sheetrock and concrete and crews of people helping us build? We are tasked with creating entire worlds from various combinations of 26 letters…alone.

Yeah, super easy.

It’s a skill and it often has a long and brutal apprenticeship filled with blood, tears, rejection, and too much box wine. We get down on ourselves because friends and family, six months after we start, are certain we’re a failure because we aren’t toppling J.K. Rowling out of her top spots on the best-seller lists.

I know. Been there.

But this is why loving process is critical. When we love the process, we keep at it. We learn all we can. We are willing to tweet and blog and maybe even figure out what the hell is so interesting about Instagram. We learn to ignore the naysayers. We gut through the unfun stuff because love fuels all we do. It has to.

I am not particularly worried about the millions of other “published writers” because many won’t be in it for the long haul. A lot of them are there for the cover, the book in hand and a “signing” and “launch party” and nothing wrong with that. It is their fun. Not all dreams are meant to be life callings.

But, often when these sort of folks discover this isn’t all a giant unicorn hug? That sure we authors can get raving 5 star reviews, but we can also get raving ONE star reviews from lunatics who have nothing better to do than be cruel and crush a writer’s will to live?

They move on *shrugs*.

Or maybe they are pretty good writers, but they don’t want to do the unfun stuff like building a platform (which actually IS a lot of fun if you do it the way I teach it). And these folks will languish in Amazon purgatory because they only loved part of the process, the fun parts.

Some will invest years and never get there and give up because it is taking too long. Heck took me 15 years. I can appreciate that kind of discouragement.

My first book? Well it reminded me of that starfish from Majors Biology (dramatic reenactment of Kristen’s starfish performed by a pumpkin)

Image via Flickr Creative Commons via Josh McAllister

But I kept at it and kept at it and kept at it and now, my starfish looks like this! 😀

So yes! My romantic mystery thriller is finally out and available for .99 on Kindle (just click the cover pic above). We will do more official “launch” stuff next week. And thank you kindly for sticking with me these many long years. You have no idea how many times I would have given up had it not been for this blog, knowing y’all were there in the trenches rooting for me. So THANK YOU.

In the end, lighten up on yourself and give yourself a break. Not too much of one. You still need to get your tail to work. But remember everyone has their own road, their own journey and process and keep your eyes on YOU and YOUR work.

What are your thoughts? Do you get discouraged with the process of writing? I know I do. Would be awesome to just spend 8 hours a day making up stories but there is a lot more to this. Do you maybe feel better if you believed you were taking too long? 15 years is a tough number to beat, LOL. Did you have a similar experience? Did you try a career you thought you’d love but then went…yeah NO.

I LOVE hearing from you guys!

****The site is new, and I am sorry you have to enter your information all over again to comment, but I am still working out the kinks. Also your comment won’t appear until I approve it, so don’t fret if it doesn’t appear right away.

Talk to me!

And to prove it and show my love, for the month of MAY, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly.

I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novel, or your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).

***April’s winner is Carl D’Agostino. Please send your 5000 word WORD document to kristen at wana intl dot com. Double-spaced, one-inch margins and New Times Roman and CONGRATULATIONS!

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Book Bootcamp  $99 ($130 VALUE)

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Individual Classes with MOI!!! 

Pitch Perfect—How to Write a Query Letter and Synopsis that SELLS! $45 May 25th, 2017

The Art of Character $45 May 18th, 2017

NEW CLASSES/INSTRUCTORS!!! 

Shift Your Shifter Romance into HIGH Gear $35 May 19th with powerhouse editor Cait Reynolds.

Researching for Historical Romance (How to NOT Lose 6 Hours of Your Life on Pinterest) $35 May 20th

 

For those who need help building a platform and keeping it SIMPLE, pick up a copy of my latest social media/branding book Rise of the Machines—Human Authors in a Digital World on AMAZON, iBooks, or Nook