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Kristen Lamb

Author, Blogger, Social Media Jedi

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New Year's Resolutions, Kristen Lamb, writers, writing, writing a novel

It’s time for the New Year’s Resolutions. Countless people all over the world use this last part of December to declare how 2019 will be different. They will write lists, declare all the changes they’ll make, then ride the high for as long as it lasts.

Most New Year’s Resolutions last six months at best… and that’s being generous.

In truth, most crash and burn in seven days.

Some people refuse to make New Year’s Resolutions at all. And, if what I’m saying is true and most New Year’s Resolutions have a shelf-life of a week, why bother? Right?

New Year’s Resolution Haters come heavily armed with detailed reasons why New Year’s Resolutions are dumb and a waste of time. I know them by heart because I was a hater for years. I’ve used all the standard ‘good reasons’ why New Year’s Resolutions are stupid.

Why set myself up to fail?

New Year’s Resolutions are just a bunch of sugar-hyped hopeful thinking.

If I don’t get my hopes up, I can’t be disappointed.

Goals and ‘visioneering’ and dream journaling are just a bunch of self-help hooey.

I’ll stop now because I’m depressing myself.

For the New Year’s Resolutions Haters, I’d like to posit a thought. Resolutions are like relationships.

Sometimes, we keep failing because we’ve never taken time to reverse-engineer why everything went sideways in the first place. We fail to pay attention to when we stumbled and why so we can factor these obstacles into our future goal-setting.

Bear with me…

Bad Decision Besties

New Year's Resolutions, Kristen Lamb

Think of a friend who’s a disaster in dating, and we all have one. This friend just about gets free from one bad relationship, only to leap into a brand new relationship with the same guy/gal, only in a different-though-often-eerily-similar-body.

*face palm*

You watch from the sidelines in horror. How can your friend NOT see that the new fling is the SAME EXACT sort of @$$hat you’ve spent the past six months extracting them from?

Short of hiring those people who abduct then deprogram loved ones caught up in a cult, you’ve done everything to show dimwit friend WHY this ‘new’ relationship is more toxic than a Manson Family Holiday Special.

Now, as this person’s bestie, we see our friend is being a nitwit who’s repeating a nitwit pattern. But our nitwit friend, whom we still love despite being a nitwit, never changes. Why? Because our friend has never asked (and answered) the hard questions. Thus, they’re doomed to ‘Dating Groundhog Day.’

By the way, if you don’t have this friend, likely YOU are the friend 😛 .

Hey, I’ve been that nitwit friend too many times to count, which is why I believe I can speak with authority on ‘How to Outwit Being a Nitwit.’ We live in a world where it’s easy to fall into nitwit patterns because we’re bombarded with cheap, easy, FREE, and PAIN-FREE.

Ah, but here is the problem. When have humans ever IN THE HISTORY OF HUMANS valued what came to them cheap, easy, free, and pain-free? If we valued cheap, easy, free, and pain-free we’d hoard all those ‘free toys’ from fast food joints in a bank safety deposit box.

You can pry that stress ball from a real estate agent I’ve never met from my COLD DEAD HANDS….

…said no one ever.

New Year’s Resolutions: To the Pain

New Year's Resolutions, Kristen Lamb

Another year, another trip around the sun, a new chance to do better and be better. In this post, I’d like to deviate from the standard advice for New Year’s Resolutions. We all know goals need to stretch us, but not so much as to be unreachable (or plain stupid).

I will be a supermodel by my 45th birthday.

Also fairly safe to say we should avoid too many New Year’s Resolutions (especially unreasonable ones).

I will finish my novel by February, then lose twenty pounds by March, land a top agent by April, and pay off my house by May.

Okay, so I fast draft and it is totally possible to finish the novel by February. The rest? Er…yeah, maybe back off the throttle (and Pixie Sticks).

Lastly, I’m certain y’all know it’s good to write out goals, plan how to reach them in steps, take inventory of what you’ll need to reach said goal. Once this is done, maybe get an accountability partner, reward yourself for small victories along the way, and plan for a BIG reward once you’ve met the big goal.

This is all New Year’s Resolution S.O.P.

What I want to talk about today is how important it is to CHOOSE OUR PAIN. Why?

Because life is pain.

***I know. I totes should write greeting cards.

But seriously. No matter what we do, which doors we open or don’t open, we will have pain. If we want to be married, we’ll endure the pain of compromise, self-sacrifice, and more laundry.

Want kids? Kids are wonderful…but also come with drama, diapers, snot, and…more laundry.

Maybe your dream is to run your own business. Fabulous dream! Welcome to spreadsheets, eighty-hour workweeks (at least in the beginning), managing people, inventory, dealing with contracts and lawyers.

Also, when you do get a day off…likely you’ll be doing laundry.

Pain and Process

New Year's Resolutions, Kristen Lamb

I’d like y’all to notice how even the opposite of all these goals and dreams (above) come with just as much pain…it’s just different pain. Being single, childless and working for someone else all have advantages. But they ALSO have just as many disadvantages (code for pain).

Since life is pain, we have some hard decisions to make. First, for the New Year’s Resolutions Haters, you’ll still have pain. Only you’ll have pain with little to no agency.

Since you aren’t the captain of your own ship, the Currents of Life will take you where they will and all that’s left is to hope they deliver you to a lovely sandy shore in Fiji and don’t smash you on a coral reef, instead.

Whether we like it or not, no decision is still a decision.

This said, studies have shown that those who write down their goals are 42% more likely to reach them.

But, y’all know this already.

You’ve done it before. You wrote out your goals, bought the unicorn stickers, put together a Pinterest board of what your fulfilled dreams will one day look like.

After doing ALL of this…you ended up losing a week of your life to binging on Game of Thrones, then the cat got sick, your car broke down, and by the time you found your planner? Why bother?

I know I’m mixing metaphors more than a 90s DJ, but y’all are sharp so I know you can keep up. Try baking a cake with every ingredient BUT sugar (or any form of sweetener). When we remove even ONE simple ingredient—sweetener—we don’t end up with cake.

We end up with cake-shaped sadness.

Now, we could have bought all the tools for cake-baking, binge-watched baking shows, pinned every cake recipe we could find on Pinterest and meditated to ‘You Are an Amazing Baker’ every morning. Alas, if we fail to ever add in SWEETENER, none of that other stuff matters.

Why do I use such a silly metaphor? Because too many of us have ALL the ingredients but the most critical…the grind.

Do We Love the Grind?

New Year's Resolutions, Kristen Lamb

To achieve anything remarkable, we have to be willing to embrace and love (or learn to love) the process/the grind. If I had to list the single largest reason most writers fail, it would have to be that they wanted the summit without the climb.

It’s why we have so many unreadable ‘novels’ listed on Amazon.

Everyone wants a book to hold in their hands. It’s thrilling to see your NAME on the cover of a book. What writer doesn’t dream of packed book-signings, book clubs dedicated to dissecting our work, awards, accolades?

But why so many writers don’t make it and won’t make it long-term is because they fell in love with the end result and wanted to skip the process. That or they simply couldn’t endure the grind.

In fact, many believe innate talent is a GET OUT OF PROCESS FREE card.

Bwa ha ha ha ha ha ha! #Cute 

Nope.

Hey, I’m not judging. I was that person who was too dumb to know I was dumb. I’d made a goal to be a New York Times Best Selling Author by 2002…2003…2004……..

*weeps*

New Year's Resolutions, Kristen Lamb

Though I had dream boards, did visualization exercises, and read every inspirational guru I could find, I failed to read any novels…or craft books (probably important).

Also, I wrote when I felt like it. I started books then stopped when it started feeling less like fun and more like work. When critique groups shredded my pages, I defended myself instead of listening and learning.

Finally, after far too many years of failure, I had to make a tough choice. Did I love writing enough to stick with it even in the dark times? Could I throw myself into learning everything possible about my craft then practicing over and over?

Was I willing to hang up my ego and be humble enough to LEARN?

Was I willing to develop rhino skin? Did I LOVE writing enough to do it even if NO ONE EVER READ IT? If I never landed a Big Six (now Spiffy Five) deal, would I still write?

Should I go to my grave having NEVER hit a major list, would I embrace that as success? If I NEVER got the book signing, the book club, the hardback, the movie deal, the house in Bora Bora, would I still LOVE writing and all it entails?

Would I still BLEED for my writing even if I never sold a single book? To be transparent, there have been times I couldn’t answer these questions, namely because of all the snot bubbles and ugly crying. But, eventually I had to commit—YES or NO?

Do or Do Not, There is No TRY

New Year's Resolutions, Kristen Lamb

A major reason we don’t want to write down goals (make New Year’s Resolutions) is because we don’t want to be held accountable. There is something about committing, REALLY committing, that puts us on a hot seat. Because if we make a New Year’s Resolution to finally write that novel, and in June we’ve only typed up twenty pages?

The people around us are going to—rightfully—question our dream.

There’s a good reason many of us in artistic professions have a bad rap for being flakes. We can be flakes.

That and too many wannabes hop into our profession, and they really don’t wanna be an author. They want to ‘play author’ and ideally win the Literary Power Ball (write one book that, for no discernible reason, sells a bazillion copies).

These Armchair Authors throw all they have into more ads, more marketing, more social media and when the book doesn’t turn into gold?

They quit.

Before y’all get too discouraged, remember we all start somewhere. I once was an Armchair Author, but it’s because I was NEW. Embrace the days of small beginnings. We don’t know what we don’t know.

This is why we have to embrace the process.

We have to embrace the PAIN. If we can’t learn to love writing even when everyone is calling us a fool, when no one knows we exist, when rejection letters pile up?

Then don’t set a goal to be a NYT Best-Selling Author.

Firstly, because we could write a book so amazing angels weep and Kim Kardashian’s Shopping Adventures (ghost-written by a super smart gerbil) would make the list and our book could die in obscurity.

This profession is NOT a meritocracy, and fair is a weather condition.

When it comes to writing, we have to do it because we LOVE it. We LOVE the process, the pain, the suffering and if our ability to write/create was ever taken away it would be akin to losing our limbs.

REAL writers don’t write because they can write, they write because they can’t NOT write.

Pop the Question & BE HONEST

New Year's Resolutions, Kristen Lamb

When it comes to New Year’s Resolutions, we need to pop the question if we really want to succeed. The question being, ‘Do I really want to succeed at X?’ Then BE HONEST.

If you want to write a novel, then great!

Are you willing to take craft classes, hire a coach to train you, build a brand and platform, stick to the novel until it is finished, gut through revisions, pay for a good editor/proofreader?

Can you endure obscurity, rejection, and even scorn? Is being a novelist more than a mental postcard with you standing on the literary summit? Can you enjoy and outlast the valleys?

What are you willing to sacrifice?

Are you willing to use money you’d normally spend on eating out or shopping to attend a conference or take a class? In 2019 are you willing to stay up later or get up earlier day after day after day?

After day?

New year's Resolutions, Kristen Lamb

This applies to ALL New Year’s Resolutions, by the way. If we can’t deal with sore muscles and waddling like a penguin for days, then that dream of getting swole is just that…a dream. To become financially free, we’re going to have to math. Mathing is tough. We’ll have to do without, cut back and clip coupons. Even tougher.

Yet, I firmly believe that if we would take just a little bit of extra time to imagine the pain that comes part and parcel with the dream, we’ll get FAR better results.

We must ask and honestly answer: Can I LOVE the PROCESS as much, if not more than the END RESULT?

No Pain No Gain

New Year's Resolutions, Kristen Lamb

First, pondering the pain (process) will keep us from making dumb New Year’s Resolutions that waste time, resources and leave us feeling like failures. I once made a New Year’s Resolution to participate in a Spartan Race...but I HATE running. Seriously, even though I am in fantastic shape, I would rather be WATER-BOARDED than run.

The IDEA of being in the Spartan Race and sporting the tee was SUPER cool, but it was never gonna happen.

Ever.

Because if you see me running? Someone has unleashed a bear…that is wielding a chainsaw. I was unwilling to endure the process that would make me good at running.

Secondly, being honest about pain and process weeds out stupid goals and unveils better goals. I gave up on the Spartan Race goal and, instead, vowed to make going to the gym part of our family routine.

Thirdly, if we’re honest about ALL it will take to achieve the dream, we can plan our pain. We’re less likely have our goals hijacked because we were prepared for the soreness, the fatigue, the extra hours, the plateaus, etc.

Ultimately, we’re wise to consider why we want to achieve any goal. What is our why? Then be really HONEST. Are we doing this to prove ourselves? To outdo someone? Because we think we ‘should?’ Once we are honest about why we want the goal/dream count the cost.

Think of the process and then grill yourself. Can you embrace ALL of what that dream entails? REALLY. If not? Cool. You just saved everyone a lot of time, money and hassle. Now, ask if you could possibly modify the goal. Are there some ways to prepare ahead of time that will keep you on track?

In the end, I’m a huge fan of setting goals. It’s shocking how much time we can waste if we don’t have a vision. Life is short and it’s like Pac Man. It just gets faster and faster and harder and harder until we DIE. But, in the meantime we CAN have a great time.

Remember, humans don’t appreciate what is cheap, easy, free, or pain-free so even if the cost is WAY MORE than you’re prepared for, it’s cool. You can grow into it. You’ve got a whole year 😀 .

What Are Your Thoughts?

I’m always writing To Do Lists and Goal Lists so sometimes I make New Year’s Resolutions, and sometimes I don’t. I do, however, notice that I’m a LOT less stressed if I have lists and deadlines. I’m always redoing my goals because I change, life changes, desires change. But what about you?

Do you think you might do better at achieving goals if you also through through the process? Maybe you might modify or clarify your goals? Are you bad about setting too many goals or goals that aren’t achievable? Have you struggled with self-sabotage?

I LOVE hearing from you! Comments come with REWARD…

What do you WIN? For the month of DECEMBER, 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, if your goal is to write that novel, build a platform, be published, then check out the FANTASTIC HOLIDAY DEALS we have!

A lot of our On Demand classes need to be wiped from the server to make room for more training, so if you want professional training AT HOME? While in jammies during December when calories don’t COUNT? Grab you SOME! Gift it to yourself, a friend, YOURSELF!

In the meantime, opinions!

What do you WIN? For the month of DECEMBER, 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).

LIVE CLASSES! REMEMBER TO USE Holiday18 for $10 off! OFFER ENDS DECEMBER 24th so GET YOUR SPOT!


The Publishing Triple Threat Bundle

Instructors: Kristen Lamb, Cait Reynolds
Price: $155.00 USD (buy now and get that last tax deduction in before the end of the year!)
Where: W.A.N.A. Digital Classroom
When: (see below)

Normally, it would be $210 USD for these three classes.

With the Triple Threat Bundle ALL THREE CLASSES (10 HOURS LIVE and RECORDINGS) for ONLY $155 USD. (Three classes for the price of TWO!)

You can also purchase each class individually.

***Registration is open until an hour before the final class. If, however, you want to attend ALL THREE CLASSES LIVE, MAKE SURE TO SIGN UP BEFORE THE FIRST CLASS ON JANUARY 10th.


ON DEMAND CLASSES!

ON DEMAND BUNDLE – Author Branding TKO

New Year New YOU! As they say, fail to plan and plan to fail. 2019 is almost here and the Author Branding T.K.O. delivers the training you need to make 2019 a success.

In this bundle, we’re going to take on then tame the three most terrifying topics. By the end? Easy peasy! You’ll wonder why this stuff ever had you so freaked out in the first place.

Normally all three classes would be $155…as well as spread across the entire year. But now, with the T.K.O. BUNDLE, all three classes in one place (your place) for only $99.

***Get your bundle TODAY. Only available for purchase through 12/24/18. Get your bundle before these classes go away with 2018. Gotta free up space on servers for 2019….


ON DEMAND BUNDLE – The Author’s Toolkit: Go PRO in 2019

Maybe have a New Year’s Resolution to write that novel? Have you started far too many promising stories, only to get stuck and never finish? Perhaps you just want to learn how to write FASTER without compromising quality? This bundle is the training you need to be a lean mean writing machine.

The Author’s Toolkit Bundle is six hours of intensive training that will help you write at a professional pace while minimizing revisions.

SIX HOURS of PROFESSIONAL TRAINING all at the same time, delivered to your computer. $165 when purchased separately, but in The Author’s Toolkit Bundle ONLY $99.

***Only available for purchase through 12/24/18. Get your bundle before these classes go away with 2018…


Blinding them with Science: The “X” Factor Classes

Tired of writing Soylent Green? Too many unfinished books trapped in the Twilight Zone? Ready to get weird…but way faster and at a professional level of weird? You came to the RIGHT PLACE! Cait and I are professional weirdos….(that sounded way more awesome in my head).

Anyway, the Blinding Them with Science Bundle is SIX HOURS of professional level training in speculative fiction at your fingertips.

***Just promise us that when you enslave the human race, we get cookies.

Three mind-bending classes for one low mind-blowing price. $165 in classes for only $99. ON DEMAND. Meaning enjoy at home in jammies.

***Only available for purchase through 12/24/18. Get your bundle before these classes go away with 2018…


ON DEMAND BUNDLE – Dangerous Dames: Creating Strong Female Characters

DOUBLE TROUBLE WITH KRISTEN & CAIT! Get the One-Two BAM! Two Power Classes with ONE T.K.O. PRICE!

Dangerous Dames BUNDLE. Regardless of time, place, or planet, these classes will train you to craft legendary bad@$$ females audiences can’t get enough of.

Normally $90 for both classes. With Double Trouble Bundle, enjoy BOTH classes for ONLY $75.

These classes are pre-recorded and won’t be offered again. This is the last chance to enjoy these classes before we free up space on the servers.


About the Instructors:

Cait Reynolds is a USA Today Bestselling Author and lives in Boston with her husband and neurotic dog. She discovered her passion for writing early and has bugged her family and friends with it ever since. She likes history, science, Jack Daniels, jewelry, pasta, and solitude. Not all at the same time. When she isn’t enjoying the rooftop deck that brings her closer to the stars, she writes.

 

Kristen Lamb is the author of the definitive guide to social media and branding for authors, Rise of the Machines—Human Authors in a Digital World. She’s also the author of #1 best-selling books We Are Not Alone—The Writer’s Guide to Social Media and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer. She’s just released her highly acclaimed debut mystery-thriller The Devil’s Dance.

Kristen has written over twelve hundred blogs and her site was recognized by Writer’s Digest Magazine as one of the Top 101 Websites for Writers. Her branding methods are responsible for selling millions of books and used by authors of every level, from emerging writers to mega authors.

Thanksgiving has whizzed past and Christmas looms ahead. If you’re anything like me, you make this super stupid promise to yourself roughly December 24th that you will buy gifts throughout the year, so you aren’t pressed and stressed and ready to stand on a roof with a shotgun holding the entire dish of rum balls hostage…and ALL the rum.

No, this year will be different. I will be PREPARED.

*clutches sides laughing*

Yeah….

Sort of reminds me of finals back in college. Next time I am going to read all my chapters AHEAD of time.

The holidays are a magical time of year, but all of us handle the season differently. So what is your Holiday Style? Here’s a helpful little quiz:

1) When cleaning before the holidays, you:

a) Might give the mantel a light dusting just so you don’t look like a show-off. The gleam from your spotless fixtures could cause retinal damage. When someone mentions Ask Heloise, you can’t help but think, ‘Ptht, amateur.’

b) Make a plan to go room by room and whip your house into shape. Once this baby is clean, you KNOW it will stay that way for good.

In fact, you’ve vowed to stab your husband if he leaves his towel on the bathroom floor, and have threatened your children with a tell-all e-mail to Santa if they don’t put their clean clothes away properly.

c) Get a little excited because you haven’t seen your floors, counters or pretty much any of your home’s flat surfaces since the party last New Years. In fact, you are pretty sure the Christmas tree is still up under one of the piles of laundry and unopened mail.

Hey, why take down decorations you know you will need every year?

Screen Shot 2013-11-24 at 8.19.39 PM
Yes, this is um…ME *hangs head*

2) When it comes to holiday shopping, you:

a) Are already finished. You made a long, detailed list last January and have spent the year buying the perfect gift for all your loved ones. All that’s left is to enjoy the season while those ill-prepared dopes fight over the last Holiday Barbie.

b) Wait until Black Friday. Technically, you start three days before Black Friday. What better way to use all that camping equipment you got last year for Christmas, than to stake out the front of Apple, Ikea or Best Buy?

c) Dig through your closet for all the unopened crappy gifts you got at the office Secret Santa party last year and then re-gift them to your distant relatives. Sure, Aunt Edna doesn’t know who Justin Bieber is, but who wouldn’t want a singing toothbrush?

Well, other than you, of course.

Kill it with FIRE.
Tomorrow, I will do the wrapping….

3) When it comes to gifts, you:

a) Spare no expense. The holiday season is a season of generosity. All your gifts are thoughtful, beautiful, lavish…and better than everyone else’s.

b) Believe it’s the thought that counts, and most people will think you are cheap if they see the Clearance sticker on their present, which is why you LOVE black Sharpies. They can be counted on to fully black out the $4.99 on the bottom of that seashell vase from Anthropologie.

Hey, we don’t have to pay retail to still give an awesome gift. You just make sure the gift recipient can see part of the original price of $89 so they feel like you ‘shelled’ out a lot of cash.

c)  Make one trip. Dollar General has everything you need for Christmas gifts. What could be a better Christmas gift than cans of Lite Vienna Sausages (Now Made with REAL Meat!) or Low-Sodium Spam?

Screen Shot 2014-10-03 at 10.06.29 AM

4) When it comes to holiday memories, you:

a) Love capturing every moment on video, then editing the clips to music using your MacBook Pro. Then, of course you order prints on-line so you can scrapbook together all the holiday magic.

You have the cutest little snowman stickers that will add the perfect touch to the family newsletter you send out early morning December 26th.

b) Have them all in a big box that you will organize one day…once you locate the box.

c) Save gas, time and bail money by staying home instead of visiting those who happen to share DNA (though you did do an Ancestry DNA test because you don’t want to accept you really ARE blood related).

No, all you need is to binge watch a season of Maury Povich reruns. The experience is pretty much the same.

5) Of all the Christmas carols, you:

a) Know Handel’s Messiah is your all-time favorite, and you know all the words. Why wouldn’t you? You sing in the choir every year.

b) Can’t get enough Silver and Gold, sung by Burl Ives. It reminds you of being a kid and waiting all year to see Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

c) Think Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer is the funniest carol EVER, next to the Three Kings who tried to smoke a rubber cigar. In fact, you can’t even sing Deck the Walls with the correct lyrics.

6) As far as wrapping Christmas presents, you:

a) Use the tips you saved on Pinterest and from Martha Stewart Magazine. You bought the heavy duty paper and lavish bows last year at the Container Store’s ‘After Christmas Sale’ and expensive ornaments 85% off at the Neiman Marcus ‘After Christmas Sale.’

All your gifts look so beautiful, they might as well be considered Christmas decorations. No one ever wants to open your gifts until they’ve taken a picture of the wrapping.

b) Thought you were saving money when you bought the wrapping paper from Walmart. Of course, you didn’t foresee that it was as thin as rice-paper on a crash diet. After tearing the corners on every box you wrapped, you had to wrap everything AGAIN.

This means ten gifts took 42 rolls of paper. You lost the tape, only to later find it stuck to your butt. The dog ate all the ribbon and is now pooping tinsel, and your husband has found it HYSTERICAL to put tape on all the cat’s paws instead of helping.

c) The gifts you bought came pre-wrapped. It’s called a Dollar Store bag. DUH. You love the environment, so why cut down more trees when THIS Christmas wrapping paper can later be used to pick up the tinsley dog poop?

Screen Shot 2014-10-31 at 10.49.02 AM

7) When it comes to dressing for holiday parties you:

a) Buy smashing outfit ahead of time so you have time to find the perfect accessories and shoes to match. Then you make sure to get an appointment with a hairdresser and makeup artist in October before the slots fill. Why trust those holiday pictures to anyone but a professional?

b) Buy an outfit ahead of time, but completely forget about shoes and earrings…and eating less. You bought the dress even though it was too small, because it was supposed to make you be ‘good’ this year and not overeat.

Ah, but that was until the dog started pooping tape and Christmas ribbon and you leveled the fudge like a Biblical plague (Moses would have been duly impressed).

So Christmas Eve you find yourself wandering the mall searching for the last pair of Spanks in the free world. Speaking of tinsel, you can’t help but wonder what the tensile-strength of spandex is. In your mind, you imagine a Catastrophic Spanx Failure that takes out three innocent bystanders.

c) Just wear yoga pants and a sweatshirt because Netflix doesn’t judge. Holiday parties are just too…peoplely. Why socialize when there are still so many books you’ve yet to read?

PRO TIP:

8) As far as decorating for the holidays, you:

a) Hire professionals. Can’t be Yard of the Month without a little help. Your Christmas lights can be seen from space. The folks at NASA and the Soviet Space Station are your biggest fans.

b) Were going to avoid it altogether until it became evident that you were the ONLY house on the block without lights, and now you have been shamed into putting out some last-minute effort.

Of course, everything was sold out, so you were forced to decorate with the Halloween lights. Whatever, just repurpose the Grim Reaper into the Ghost of Christmas Future.

If no one gets the literary reference, then maybe they should spend more time READING instead JUDGING.

c) Just plug them in. You left them up all year 😀 .

9) When it comes to your children and Santa, you:

a) Bake cookies for Santa with the kids, and Christmas Eve you take the little ones out into the yard and spread some homemade trail mix, a.k.a. ‘Reindeer Food.’ Your husband dresses in a Santa costume and you ‘sneak’ some iPhone footage of Santa at work in your living room to show the kids the next morning.

Childhood is a magical time and you want to fuel your children’s imaginations and give them too many fond memories to pick a favorite.

b) Take them to Cabela’s. Free photos with Santa, fishing gear is 50% off, and they FINALLY have your husband’s favorite buffalo jerky in stock.

c) Let your relatives take your kids to the mall. They know you don’t do lines, or malls, or shopping, or Santa…or people. Besides, you still have to find the Christmas tree…after you finish this novel.

10) When your kids question how Santa can make it to all the boys’ and girls’ houses in all the world in one night, you:

a) Tell them that Santa is a spiritual manifestation of generosity and love, and that spirits have powers we mortals cannot comprehend.

b) Point the pizza kiosk in the mall and yell, ‘Who wants double pepperoni?’

c) Inform your kids that there was an original Santa, but he couldn’t live forever, so the elves froze him in a glacier until they could invent reliable cloning technology. Because, seriously, with the global explosion in population there really was no other way.

Then rent Invasion of the Body Snatchers for them.

Worst case is your kids might eventually need therapy because of trust issues. But, best case is they might also become best-selling authors…because of trust issues.

11) When sending out holiday cards, you:

a) Pull out all the stops. Professional pictures in a studio like civilized people, made into magnets so your perfect pics are beautiful and functional. You also buy cards for Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukah, and just general holiday cards and then send them to the appropriate recipients.

b) Buy generic reindeer cards, then write it ‘Happy Holi-Chrisma-Kwanzaa-kuh.’ Your friends all know you’re weird and socially challenged anyway. Frankly, they are all shocked you got the cards sent at all.

c) Holiday Cards? *laughs hysterically.* That’s a good one.

12) When someone gives you a dreadful gift, you:

a) Know they meant well, so you make sure they see you wearing that horrendous purple mohair vest at the church bake sale. You would never want to hurt anyone’s feelings.

b) Send a nice thank you note then return the gift for something you prefer.

c) Stockpile the crappy gifts away for next year, so you don’t have to do as much Christmas shopping. Hey, waste not want not.

Tally Your Scores!!!

Amazing Amy/Awesome Andy

If you answered mostly As, you get an A+++++ in Christmas. You, Amazing Amy/Awesome Andy, are the star of the show with the prettiest EVERYTHING, the one who has everything in order and who pulls out all the stops, which is probably why most of us secretly want to stab you.

Of course that would be AFTER we attended your holiday party because, seriously you give the best gifts and serve the best food, drinks. All top shelf. Love it!

Normal Nancy/Typical Ted

If you answered mostly Bs, relax. You’re normal. While you probably could try a little harder, why bother? Amazing Amy and Awesome Andy are going to outdo you anyway.

Hot Mess Hanna/Apathetic Alex

Hey, life is too short to be organized. There are novels to read, and Instagram needs pictures of your cat.

I hate to say it but I am almost an even mix of Normal Nancy and Hot Mess Hannah. Every year I promise to try harder. ONE DAY I will be an Amazing Amy…yeah, no.

She’s a psychopath anyway.

My Christmas tree is only halfway up (it is now December 14th) and I am WAY too busy mocking poor grammar on holiday memes.

Referencing Image Below…

ME: So, what do you do when you run out of kids? #GrammarMatters

Before I ask for your thoughts, I want to make a little announcement…

Author Holiday Hotline

All the On-Demand bundles are ON SALE. We’ve saved all the best classes for a limited time for ON DEMAND. This means professional author training in your home, no pants required.

I STRONGLY recommend the gift that’s going to keep blessing you all year, all career long. We record all classes to make training accessible and convenient, but these recordings take up A LOT OF STORAGE space. Come the new year, we’re going to have to free up space on the servers and these classes will be gone for good. Some we might not offer again.

We have classes on speculative fiction, plotting, character, blogging, social media, etc. Scroll down and pick out the ones you want, then you’ll have the recording to watch on YOUR schedule.

Also, we have two more classes for December and some listed for January. If you sign up before December 24th, you can get $10 off.

GET $10 OFF ALL LIVE CLASSES. Use the promo code Jolly18.

What Are Your Thoughts?

I won’t ask how y’all scored. But feel free to share 😀 . I never wrap gifts until Christmas Eve because the cats shred all the wrapping. And they eat the FAKE tree because they are masochistic morons…who then puke up fake evergreen needles. I’ve pretty much given up on decorations because though I DO love my pets, they are why I can’t have nice things.

I envy people who set beautiful holiday tables, because I don’t even have enough cutlery for four. Spawn as a toddler threw away most of our forks and I’ve yet to get around to replacing them. So holiday meals come with plastic HOLIDAY SPORKS!

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this!

Also, check out the FANTASTIC HOLIDAY DEALS we have!

A lot of our On Demand classes need to be wiped from the server to make room for more training, so if you want professional training AT HOME? While in jammies during December when calories don’t COUNT? Grab you SOME! Gift it to yourself, a friend, YOURSELF!

ALSO, I’m offering my Write Stuff Special for a LOW holiday price. 20 pages of deep edit/critique for $55 and there are only 7 slots left. If you need some outside feedback to get you on the right track? Get a SPOT, TODAY! (You can use when you are ready).

In the meantime, opinions!

What do you WIN? For the month of DECEMBER, 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).

LIVE CLASSES! REMEMBER TO USE Holiday18 for $10 off!

The WANANANO Bundle

Instructors: Cait Reynolds, Kristen Lamb
Price: $79.00 USD 
Where: W.A.N.A. Digital Classroom
When: (see below)

  • The Sticky Middle Saturday, December 14, 2018, 7:00-9:00 p.m. EST
  • NANONOWWHAT? Thursday, December 13, 2018, 7:00-9:00 p.m. EST (Just enough time to recover…)

Get two live classes plus all recordings for 30% off! You can also purchase each class individually.


The Publishing Triple Threat Bundle

Instructors: Kristen Lamb, Cait Reynolds
Price: $155.00 USD (buy now and get that last tax deduction in before the end of the year!)
Where: W.A.N.A. Digital Classroom
When: (see below)

Normally, it would be $210 USD for these three classes.

With the Triple Threat Bundle ALL THREE CLASSES (10 HOURS LIVE and RECORDINGS) for ONLY $155 USD. (Three classes for the price of TWO!)

You can also purchase each class individually.

***Registration is open until an hour before the final class. If, however, you want to attend ALL THREE CLASSES LIVE, MAKE SURE TO SIGN UP BEFORE THE FIRST CLASS ON JANUARY 10th.


ON DEMAND CLASSES!

ON DEMAND BUNDLE – Author Branding TKO

New Year New YOU! As they say, fail to plan and plan to fail. 2019 is almost here and the Author Branding T.K.O. delivers the training you need to make 2019 a success.

In this bundle, we’re going to take on then tame the three most terrifying topics. By the end? Easy peasy! You’ll wonder why this stuff ever had you so freaked out in the first place.

Normally all three classes would be $155…as well as spread across the entire year. But now, with the T.K.O. BUNDLE, all three classes in one place (your place) for only $99.

***Get your bundle TODAY. Only available for purchase through 12/24/18. Get your bundle before these classes go away with 2018. Gotta free up space on servers for 2019….


ON DEMAND BUNDLE – The Author’s Toolkit: Go PRO in 2019

Maybe have a New Year’s Resolution to write that novel? Have you started far too many promising stories, only to get stuck and never finish? Perhaps you just want to learn how to write FASTER without compromising quality? This bundle is the training you need to be a lean mean writing machine.

The Author’s Toolkit Bundle is six hours of intensive training that will help you write at a professional pace while minimizing revisions.

SIX HOURS of PROFESSIONAL TRAINING all at the same time, delivered to your computer. $165 when purchased separately, but in The Author’s Toolkit Bundle ONLY $99.

***Only available for purchase through 12/24/18. Get your bundle before these classes go away with 2018…


Blinding them with Science: The “X” Factor Classes

Tired of writing Soylent Green? Too many unfinished books trapped in the Twilight Zone? Ready to get weird…but way faster and at a professional level of weird? You came to the RIGHT PLACE! Cait and I are professional weirdos….(that sounded way more awesome in my head).

Anyway, the Blinding Them with Science Bundle is SIX HOURS of professional level training in speculative fiction at your fingertips.

***Just promise us that when you enslave the human race, we get cookies.

Three mind-bending classes for one low mind-blowing price. $165 in classes for only $99. ON DEMAND. Meaning enjoy at home in jammies.

***Only available for purchase through 12/24/18. Get your bundle before these classes go away with 2018…


ON DEMAND BUNDLE – Dangerous Dames: Creating Strong Female Characters

DOUBLE TROUBLE WITH KRISTEN & CAIT! Get the One-Two BAM! Two Power Classes with ONE T.K.O. PRICE!

Dangerous Dames BUNDLE. Regardless of time, place, or planet, these classes will train you to craft legendary bad@$$ females audiences can’t get enough of.

Normally $90 for both classes. With Double Trouble Bundle, enjoy BOTH classes for ONLY $75.

These classes are pre-recorded and won’t be offered again. This is the last chance to enjoy these classes before we free up space on the servers.


About the Instructors:

Cait Reynolds is a USA Today Bestselling Author and lives in Boston with her husband and neurotic dog. She discovered her passion for writing early and has bugged her family and friends with it ever since. She likes history, science, Jack Daniels, jewelry, pasta, and solitude. Not all at the same time. When she isn’t enjoying the rooftop deck that brings her closer to the stars, she writes.

 

Kristen Lamb is the author of the definitive guide to social media and branding for authors, Rise of the Machines—Human Authors in a Digital World. She’s also the author of #1 best-selling books We Are Not Alone—The Writer’s Guide to Social Media and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer. She’s just released her highly acclaimed debut mystery-thriller The Devil’s Dance.

Kristen has written over twelve hundred blogs and her site was recognized by Writer’s Digest Magazine as one of the Top 101 Websites for Writers. Her branding methods are responsible for selling millions of books and used by authors of every level, from emerging writers to mega authors.

embrace the inner psychopath, Kristen Lamb, writing tips, Christmas movies, writing tips

Embrace the inner psychopath. If I could only teach ONE ‘trick’ for writing great stories, it would be this: The moral codes that make us excellent citizens make us terrible writers.

We have to remember the rules change when dealing in the realms of imagination. Fiction is NOT life, rather it is an imitation of life. It is life in distillate form.

To paraphrase Alfred Hitchcock, great stories are ‘life’ with the boring parts cut out. Yet, so many emerging writers forget this.

Novelists aren’t just good with words, novelists excel at using words to create a STORY. This is why so many first ‘novels’ really aren’t novels at all. Because being good with words isn’t enough.

If it were enough, then chefs could perform heart surgery because they’re ‘really good with sharp blades.’

Being ‘good with words’ has to be refined. Good with words…HOW?

Prose and description so glorious angels sing does not a novel make. What makes a novelist is how we wield those words. Yet, here’s the catch. If we want to write stories readers can’t put down, then can’t get out of their heads, then cant stop talking about?

We must embrace our inner psychopath. If we don’t have one, then we need to train one.

Great Writers Embrace the Inner ‘Psychopath’

embrace the inner psychopath, writing tips, Kristen Lamb, Christmas movies

The terms psychopath and sociopath are easy to confuse, yet they’re distinctively different disorders. Sociopaths have an antisocial personality disorder, which often leads them to ignore social and moral rules that guide an ordered society. They understand right from wrong, just don’t care.

So where does the sociopath part ways with the psychopath?

It’s believed that psychopaths are a more extreme version of the antisocial personality disorder. Thus all psychopaths are sociopaths but not all sociopaths are psychopaths.

The psychopath is, thus far, believed to be incapable of forging emotional bonds, whereas sociopaths can. Thus, the sociopath might not have any qualms about emptying a stranger’s bank account, but he wouldn’t do that to his best friend.

Psychopaths would make no such distinction and would empty anyone’s account they gained (manipulated) access to. The psychopath isn’t guided by any sense of shame or guilt. He or she doesn’t hold back, and is not hindered by empathy or sympathy.

Back to writing.

Superb fiction is an exercise in sadism. Why writers generally creep non-writers out is because we have the imagination to inflict so much suffering and pain.

The non-writer doesn’t understand HOW we can do what we do, but they enjoy it nonetheless…and they just make sure to keep their eyes on us.

***Refer to my post, Thirteen Reasons Writers are Mistaken for Serial Killers.

Millions of people watch (and read) Game of Thrones knowing they are going to be tortured hour after hour…but they can’t get enough. And bear with me, because this goes for ALL great stories. We don’t have to write stories with rape, incest, cannibalism, and mass murder to still torture an audience.

Welcome to…

Christmas Chaos

For the writer psychopath, not even CHRISTMAS is safe. Think of all your longtime favorite holiday movies, the ones you watch year after year. What do they have in common?

They all involve chaos, mass mayhem and destruction.

There’s a reason for that. Without chaos, mass mayhem and destruction, there is NO STORY.

Who wants to spend an hour and a half watching a movie about a well-adjusted family getting along? #SnoozeFest

No, we want the GRISWOLDS! National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation is about a man whose only goal is to have the most incredible Christmas ever…but his dream is systematically dismantled in increasingly awful ways.

embrace the inner psychopath, Kristen Lamb, editing, Christmas movies, writing tips

All of his dreams blow up in his face. His lights won’t work and when they do, he causes a massive blackout. His dream is to have the biggest best Christmas tree (good goal, noble goal), but the tree won’t fit in their house and then there is a squirrel and on and on. Nothing works.

Everything that can possibly go wrong goes wrong…twice. Then catches fire.

Christmas Vacation is funny, but it isn’t in my top five. I insist that Gremlins is a Christmas movie, yet Hubby doesn’t agree Gremlins is a Christmas movie (because he is wrong).

Then of course there is…

But, monsters taking over a town at Christmas and a hostage situation in a skyscraper are pretty obviously full of overt conflict.

So I decided to talk about the movies that are plenty tense, yet the conflict has more to do with people, their relationships to and with one another, and how desires and false idols collide.

My two favorite Christmas movies are ‘A Christmas Story‘ and ‘The Ref‘. I’m specifically mentioning these two because the screenwriters certainly knew how to embrace their inner psychopaths.

A Christmas Story…from HELL

A Christmas Story is all about a young boy in the 1940s doing everything humanly possible to secure the gift of his dreams, a Red Ryder BB gun. Every good idea he concocts blows up in his face. This poor kid can’t get a break.

I’d like to take a moment to mention that what separates the mundane from the magnificent has to do with VECTORS. When a writer embraces that inner psychopath?

NO ONE IS SAFE.

New writers very often forget to USE their other characters as more than stage props (plot puppets). Why A Christmas Story is SO fun is because mayhem strikes from every angle. Trauma sucker-punches everyone.

When the MC is only in a struggle against a singular antagonistic force, the story falls flat and becomes tedious. Wash, rinse, repeat.

Yet, in this holiday classic, Ralphie isn’t the only one who gets smacked. Dad wins a PRIZE he insists on putting in the front window, and he’s oblivious to his wife’s mortification.

Only one thing in the world could’ve dragged me away from the soft glow of electric sex gleaming in the window. ~Ralphie as an Adult

The one thing the whole family—but most especially DAD—looks forward to is the Christmas turkey and the days and days of leftovers to enjoy. But nothing is safe from a writer who’s embraced that inner psychopath. Not even the Christmas turkey.

But look how chaos and destruction hammers EVERYONE (not JUST Ralphie).

The Ref

Speaking of mass mayhem. The Ref is one of the few movies that can make even this Griffendork root for a ‘bad guy.’ Dennis Leary *fan girl moment* plays Gus, a cat burglar who robs the wrong mansion…and his partner abandons him.

With the entire city’s police force out hunting for him, Gus makes a snap decision to lay low by taking a seemingly nice family hostage.

Ah, but the tag line for this movie is genius.

They might be his hostages but what they’re doing to this guy is criminal.

Gus begins with a plan, a plan he’s executed flawlessly until it goes horribly wrong. What’s better is it just keeps getting worse and worse until the end when…catharsis. 

See, all the great movies about the holidays present us with the MC’s ideal then the STORY smashes that ideal to pieces until the MC, and those around the MC, realize they’ve missed the entire point of something (family, love, peace, holiday spirit, giving, etc.).

YET, what I want to point out is this. The characters have to endure the torment to get the golden fleece. They cannot suddenly achieve enlightenment and say, ‘A-ha! I’ve had this all wrong! The holiday season is really about X!’

If they did, we’d call foul, be supremely ticked and tell everyone to avoid this movie more than the kiosk barkers at the mall.

Don’t make eye contact. Whatever you do, DO NOT let her buff one nail.

If we watched ninety minutes of a beautifully decorated home (description) with perfect people, we’d feel cheated and ROBBED if nothing went terribly, obscenely WRONG.

Why? Because if the MC doesn’t rightfully EARN revelation, enlightenment, etc. it’s a CHEAT. The writer cheated, which is why we feel cheated. Catharsis is what great stories offer. Release.

The harder it is for the MC (and others) to get to and through Act Three, the more intense the cathartic experience…and the better the denouement.

All righty. So Psychopath 101.

Make EVERYTHING Hard…No, IMPOSSIBLE!

Exactly my thoughts…

As my friend and mentor, the incredible Les Edgerton taught me, ‘Nothing comes easily for your characters. NOTHING. Not even directions.’ Advice I used very literally in my novel The Devil’s Dance.

When Special Agent Sawyer asks my MC where the closest tire place is located, her response is:

What do I look like? Google Maps?’

One of the LARGEST problems I encounter with emerging writers is y’all are too nice. I was, too. Still can be (which I then go back and remedy…with a hammer).

Many new writers still possess a conscience and a moral code…and that’s a problem.

Moral compasses point to the Land of Nod NOT to the Land of Literary Legends.

I cannot count how many samples I’ve read where everyone gets along. If the MC needs something, he or she finds it with uncanny (and boring) ease. If an MC discovers she has magical powers, she learns to use them flawlessly and almost overnight.

NO! We need to make everything hard and seemingly impossible or ZZZZZZZZZZ.

***STAR WARS TRIGGER WARNING:

I know this is controversial, and is only my OPINION. Alas, one of the MANY reasons I wish the Star Wars franchise would just STOP is that, as far as I am concerned, the core storyline’ played out back in the 80s.

To keep trying to push the same storyline is making Star Wars more Space Soap Opera than Space Opera.

Seriously, the Star Wars universe is large enough to begin fresh instead of hiding leftovers in suspicious casseroles.

Why do I mention this? Because Rae learning how to use a light saber like a master with no struggle makes my left eye twitch. She didn’t have to EARN her skills. Yes, she was a master with a long staff, but seamlessly transitioning over to wielding a light saber with NO learning curve?

FOUL!

Which is why the training of Pai Mei in Kill Bill 2 is EPIC…

In fairness, Kung-Fu Panda got a rougher time than Rae.

The harder the MC has to work for the prize, the sweeter the victory. Even in Hallmark Christmas movies. Not even A December Bride can catch an easy break.

And yes, I did actually just write a blog that placed Kill Bill 2, Kung Fu Panda and A Christmas Bride in the same place at once.

#YouAreWelcome

Stop making everything too easy. Look over your WIP and search for spots where something was too simple…then throw a rock in it. Once you do that, then set it on fire.

Whatever the MC Wants, It Better Cost BIG

Humans don’t value free or easy. There’s a reason most parents have a back seat full of ‘free toys and games’ from drive-thrus that our kids have never even opened. If the MC wants something it has to COST something.

No, it has to cost EVERYTHING.

This is why writers must embrace the inner psychopath and steal, destroy or ruin everything our characters love. We’re doing it for their own good.

When we look at my opening example—Christmas Vacation—Clark Griswold has to give up his false gods/idols (what he believes makes for the perfect family holiday) and exchange them for the real deal.

In fact, this is a fairly common theme of all holiday movies. Likely why writers are constantly dreaming up new and improved ways to destroy Christmas.

The MC has a belief about what the holidays are really about…then the writer psychopath destroys everything in the MC’s life so they can see truth.

The story conflict (crucible) is what supplies our characters with insight they didn’t possess before we wrecked their lives. By the end of our torment, our MCs have new eyes and are able to tell the difference between fool’s gold and real gold.

KILL THE SHINY

Remember, we are embracing the inner psychopath, which means we can appear to care about our fictional friends. But we’re really using them. We only care what the characters can DO for us (or rather our story). This is one of the toughest parts of what writers—good writers—do.

We use various combinations of 26 letters to create ‘real’ people our audience loves, bonds with, and connects to…then we torment or kill those characters.

And this is tough. It’s like being a farmer who has to name all the animals that will end up on the table. It can suck. We can find ourselves getting attached to the characters because we created them from nothing.

We breathed life into letters–EVEN Q and X!—and created a LIFE. If our creations are funny, noble, kind, loving, and self-sacrificing?

It is because WE made them that way.

In life, bad things happen to good people. But, in fiction, the worst possible things happen to even better people.

If your story feels sluggish, my advice is to kill your shiny. If we don’t, the story WILL suffer.

We fall in love with characters so we start ‘helping’ them by making life too easy. Instead of tormenting our characters, misdirecting them, withholding any sort of lucky break, we butter them up so they can glide along.

This is when we’re no longer writing fiction, we’re playing Literary Barbies/Literary G.I. Joe.

If our characters exist for the sole purpose of acting out our own happy endings, we need a shrink not Scrivner. In the end it will be cheaper to hire a superlative psychiatrist than to produce and market a bad book.

Remember Storytellers Tell STORIES

*shock face*

If our job was to write amazing description, we’d be called ‘describers’ not ‘authors.’ We belong writing ad copy not novels.

Our main goal as storytellers is to tell a STORY, not have a tea party, shopping spree, dinner gala with our imaginary friends. Why? Because NO ONE BUT US (THE WRITER) CARES UNLESS SOMETHING GOES DREADFULLY WRONG.

Think of this in life. You go out to dinner at your favorite fancy restaurant. It has beautiful decor, soft jazz, top notch cuisine, and includes a room full of well-dressed, well-mannered people having a good time.

Okay.

Do you really care about the other people in this restaurant? Or are they a backdrop you’ll forget as soon as the valet pulls up with your car? Will you remember this dinner for the rest of your life in fine detail?

Likely not.

Now, same restaurant, but the couple a table over escalates from a tense conversation to shouting to screams. The female suddenly bolts out of her chair, toppling the vase of roses and throws her glass of red wine in her date’s face. He’s doing his best to get her to calm down.

And since we ALL know the best way to get an angry woman to calm down is to TELL her to calm down…

SHE GRABS A STEAK KNIFE!

But her plan for unpremeditated murder is interrupted when strange woman tackles her!

…and it is the man’s WIFE!

Suddenly hair extensions are flying as the women wrestle in an undignified tangle of designer clothing and table linens. Then, when they take a breather both women realize…HE LIED TO THEM BOTH.

The girlfriend didn’t know her beau was married and found out, which was why she was breaking up with him. Thus, the new allies (the two women) descend on the babbling cheater with…ESCARGOT FORKS!

Guarantee you, most memorable dinner EVER 😉

Embrace the Inner Psychopath Because it is FUN

We can’t care about hurting people, killing people, or even crushing their hopes and dreams. We have to embrace the inner psychopath or we don’t have a story, we have a sedative.

One of the reasons fiction IS the most widely used form of escape is because, unlike cocaine and hookers, it’s legal.

But fiction also puts us in a world where the rules don’t matter and the consequences don’t either. Fiction permits the audience to embrace THEIR inner psychopath, too.

Consequences are for reality not fiction. Which is how movies like Lethal Weapon can exist. In reality, Riggs and Murtaugh would be riding a desk, and condemned to therapy until Internal Affairs finished their investigation…fifteen minutes into the movie.

But NO!

In fiction, cops can level entire city blocks, drive the wrong way down a highway causing countless car accidents, blow up buildings, shoot at bad guys in the middle of public places and no one in the movie mentions the words law suit.

John McClane is not turned into a social pariah, and sued for damages by everyone impacted by his actions at the Nakatomi Plaza. The NYPD doesn’t abandon him and force him into early retirement because him leveling a skyscraper in Los Angeles is bad department PR.

Nope, because it is FICTiON so McClane is still around to die harder in Die Hard 2.

Why do we tolerate this bad behavior? And LOVE IT?

Because in life we have to follow the rules, the laws and moral codes. The reason we watch and rewatch the same movies, read and reread the same books is because they liberate us from the chains of morality. We LOVE these stories….

…because there’s a little bit of psychopath in all of us 😉 .

Before I ask for your thoughts, I want to make a little announcement…

Author Holiday Hotline

All the On-Demand bundles are ON SALE. We’ve saved all the best classes for a limited time for ON DEMAND. This means professional author training in your home, no pants required.

I STRONGLY recommend the gift that’s going to keep blessing you all year, all career long. We record all classes to make training accessible and convenient, but these recordings take up A LOT OF STORAGE space. Come the new year, we’re going to have to free up space on the servers and these classes will be gone for good. Some we might not offer again.

We have classes on speculative fiction, plotting, character, blogging, social media, etc. Scroll down and pick out the ones you want, then you’ll have the recording to watch on YOUR schedule.

Also, we have two more classes for December and some listed for January. If you sign up before December 24th, you can get $10 off.

GET $10 OFF ALL LIVE CLASSES. Use the promo code Jolly18.

What Are Your Thoughts?

What are your favorite Christmas movies? Do you see the theme of chaos and destruction even in classics like It’s A Wonderful Life? Which ones are your favorite and why? Do you struggle being ‘mean’ to your characters? I still do. So many times I have to go BACK and take that shiny away…then kick them.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this!

Also, check out the FANTASTIC HOLIDAY DEALS we have!

A lot of our On Demand classes need to be wiped from the server to make room for more training, so if you want professional training AT HOME? While in jammies during December when calories don’t COUNT? Grab you SOME! Gift it to yourself, a friend, YOURSELF!

ALSO, I’m offering my Write Stuff Special for a LOW holiday price. 20 pages of deep edit/critique for $55 and there are only 7 slots left. If you need some outside feedback to get you on the right track? Get a SPOT, TODAY! (You can use when you are ready).

In the meantime, opinions!

What do you WIN? For the month of DECEMBER, 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).

LIVE CLASSES! REMEMBER TO USE Holiday18 for $10 off!

The WANANANO Bundle

Instructors: Cait Reynolds, Kristen Lamb
Price: $79.00 USD 
Where: W.A.N.A. Digital Classroom
When: (see below)

  • The Sticky Middle Saturday, December 14, 2018, 7:00-9:00 p.m. EST
  • NANONOWWHAT? Thursday, December 13, 2018, 7:00-9:00 p.m. EST (Just enough time to recover…)

Get two live classes plus all recordings for 30% off! You can also purchase each class individually.


The Publishing Triple Threat Bundle

Instructors: Kristen Lamb, Cait Reynolds
Price: $155.00 USD (buy now and get that last tax deduction in before the end of the year!)
Where: W.A.N.A. Digital Classroom
When: (see below)

Normally, it would be $210 USD for these three classes.

With the Triple Threat Bundle ALL THREE CLASSES (10 HOURS LIVE and RECORDINGS) for ONLY $155 USD. (Three classes for the price of TWO!)

You can also purchase each class individually.

***Registration is open until an hour before the final class. If, however, you want to attend ALL THREE CLASSES LIVE, MAKE SURE TO SIGN UP BEFORE THE FIRST CLASS ON JANUARY 10th.


ON DEMAND CLASSES!

ON DEMAND BUNDLE – Author Branding TKO

New Year New YOU! As they say, fail to plan and plan to fail. 2019 is almost here and the Author Branding T.K.O. delivers the training you need to make 2019 a success.

In this bundle, we’re going to take on then tame the three most terrifying topics. By the end? Easy peasy! You’ll wonder why this stuff ever had you so freaked out in the first place.

Normally all three classes would be $155…as well as spread across the entire year. But now, with the T.K.O. BUNDLE, all three classes in one place (your place) for only $99.

***Get your bundle TODAY. Only available for purchase through 12/24/18. Get your bundle before these classes go away with 2018. Gotta free up space on servers for 2019….


ON DEMAND BUNDLE – The Author’s Toolkit: Go PRO in 2019

Maybe have a New Year’s Resolution to write that novel? Have you started far too many promising stories, only to get stuck and never finish? Perhaps you just want to learn how to write FASTER without compromising quality? This bundle is the training you need to be a lean mean writing machine.

The Author’s Toolkit Bundle is six hours of intensive training that will help you write at a professional pace while minimizing revisions.

SIX HOURS of PROFESSIONAL TRAINING all at the same time, delivered to your computer. $165 when purchased separately, but in The Author’s Toolkit Bundle ONLY $99.

***Only available for purchase through 12/24/18. Get your bundle before these classes go away with 2018…


Blinding them with Science: The “X” Factor Classes

Tired of writing Soylent Green? Too many unfinished books trapped in the Twilight Zone? Ready to get weird…but way faster and at a professional level of weird? You came to the RIGHT PLACE! Cait and I are professional weirdos….(that sounded way more awesome in my head).

Anyway, the Blinding Them with Science Bundle is SIX HOURS of professional level training in speculative fiction at your fingertips.

***Just promise us that when you enslave the human race, we get cookies.

Three mind-bending classes for one low mind-blowing price. $165 in classes for only $99. ON DEMAND. Meaning enjoy at home in jammies.

***Only available for purchase through 12/24/18. Get your bundle before these classes go away with 2018…


ON DEMAND BUNDLE – Dangerous Dames: Creating Strong Female Characters

DOUBLE TROUBLE WITH KRISTEN & CAIT! Get the One-Two BAM! Two Power Classes with ONE T.K.O. PRICE!

Dangerous Dames BUNDLE. Regardless of time, place, or planet, these classes will train you to craft legendary bad@$$ females audiences can’t get enough of.

Normally $90 for both classes. With Double Trouble Bundle, enjoy BOTH classes for ONLY $75.

These classes are pre-recorded and won’t be offered again. This is the last chance to enjoy these classes before we free up space on the servers.


About the Instructors:

Cait Reynolds is a USA Today Bestselling Author and lives in Boston with her husband and neurotic dog. She discovered her passion for writing early and has bugged her family and friends with it ever since. She likes history, science, Jack Daniels, jewelry, pasta, and solitude. Not all at the same time. When she isn’t enjoying the rooftop deck that brings her closer to the stars, she writes.

 

Kristen Lamb is the author of the definitive guide to social media and branding for authors, Rise of the Machines—Human Authors in a Digital World. She’s also the author of #1 best-selling books We Are Not Alone—The Writer’s Guide to Social Media and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer. She’s just released her highly acclaimed debut mystery-thriller The Devil’s Dance.

Kristen has written over twelve hundred blogs and her site was recognized by Writer’s Digest Magazine as one of the Top 101 Websites for Writers. Her branding methods are responsible for selling millions of books and used by authors of every level, from emerging writers to mega authors.

revising a novel, editing, self-editing for writers, writing, Kristen Lamb

Today we’re going to talk about revising a novel. It’s a highly emotional and arduous task, but vital. Revising a novel is more than mind-bending work at a computer (or with a red pen for the retro crowd). It’s a tough emotional experience that can blindside us and land us in the mire if we don’t anticipate what to expect.

Some of y’all might be familiar with the Kübler-Ross Five Stages of Grief.  For those unfamiliar, Swiss psychiatrist, Kübler-Ross first introduced her grief model in her book, On Death & Dying back in 1969 after years of working with terminally ill patients. Kübler-Ross identified five specific stages humans experience when faced with an emotionally overwhelming event.

The emotionally overwhelming event can be something traumatic like a death, but not necessarily. The human brain is a magnificent organ. The brain’s critical imperative is, first and foremost, to help us SURVIVE. Not thrive. SURVIVE.

We have to remember this to appreciate what we’re really going through when writing and then revising a novel, especially when we are new.

Our amygdala (Lizard Brain) is roughly the size of an almond, and responsible for the fight, flight, or freeze that kept our ancestors alive for enough generations to give us cool stuff like iPhones, Ikea, and the Internet.

Problem is, the amygdala isn’t terribly ‘smart.’ It can’t tell the difference between an attacking bear…and someone dumping us via text message.

It also can’t discern between experiencing death or revising a novel. This can become a problem, because we need to be in the higher thinking centers—HELLO PREFRONTAL CORTEX—if we hope to be objective enough to revise our first draft(s).

It’s a Process

revising a novel, writing, editing, Kristen Lamb, revisions

New writers often are unfamiliar with these five stages. Thus, they can become stuck in the grief process when revising a novel. Revising a novel is grueling, which is why it helps to know what it feels like. What is normal? When are we stuck? Why or when should we look for outside help?

Good questions, so back to the five stages…

Kübler-Ross caught a lot of criticism when she introduced her Five Stages of Grief. Many (mistakenly) assumed Kübler-Ross was suggesting humans went through the five stages in a neat, linear order. Some folks didn’t experience all five, etc.

The problem, obviously, is critics assumed humans make sense.

That, obviously, was the first mistake.

Those who’ve studied Kübler-Ross’s model now realize humans are jacked up and don’t follow instructions because we are not robots. #YayScience

According to some researchers, some humans facing trauma don’t experience any of these emotions, though I’ve yet to puzzle out how that is even possible. So toss that out for our purposes. We often won’t go through the five stages linearly.

Perhaps we can even get stuck on one, or vacillate back in forth in the Feedback Loop from Hell. The Feedback Loop from HELL is what is most pertinent to the Emotional Sheol that is revising a novel.

Kübler-Ross’s five stages are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. It applies to losing a loved one, and yep, also applies to writing.

Denial: My Book Is PERFECT

revising a novel, Kristen Lamb, editing, self-editing for authors, writing tips

This is something we experience most intensely when we’re new and have no friggin’ idea what we are doing. I remember my first ‘novel.’ It was—and I KID YOU NOT—187,000 words long.

One day, I just started writing, and writing and writing. Finally, I said to myself, ‘Well, this seems long enough. The End.’

I wish I were joking.

My novel was AMAZING. It had love, death, murder, comedy, tragedy, witty reparatee. It had everything!

…but a plot.

I didn’t want to be…’formulaic’ *flips hair*

This is the point where we might join a writing group or hire an editor because we need help with you know commas, spelling, punctuation *more hair flips*.

Many who finish NaNoWriMo for the first time can believe that the novel doesn’t even needs revising *clutches sides laughing* and that it’s cool to publish as is.

Please for the love of all that is chocolate do NOT PUBLISH OR QUERY. Finishing a novel is a lot like losing a loved one. Many loved ones actually in that when we finish, we have to say goodbye to ‘people’ who are very real to us.

Thus, selling our house, accepting proposals from death row inmates, or publishing a book are all MAJOR decisions we should put off…until we’re again legally sane.

Okay, for writers, legally ‘sane.’

The other side of denial (for the more seasoned/jaded author) is THIS IS ALL CRAP. Resist the urge to delete or sign up for barber college. May I introduce y’all to the seasoned writer after a first draft (or NaNoWriMo):

Have a Snickers…and a nap.

Anger: How Dare You Say My Book Needs Work?

revising a novel, self-editing for novels, Kristen Lamb, writing tips

Maybe we reach out to a beta reader, a critique group or even hire a professional. This is the gut punch. Again, this is more for the newer writers since, if one sticks to the craft long enough to be a seasoned author…we spin through these stages faster than a Roulette Wheel hit with too much WD-40.

A little side-bar here…

When we decide to become professional authors, it’s wise to master the craft in every way possible. STUDY STORY. Become an expert. I read a ridiculous amount of books in almost every genre.

Yes, binging on Netflix and series IS work.

I study story structure, character arc, dialogue, theme, etc. First, I do this to help write better craft blogs, give the best classes and offer superlative services. But I also do this for my ART.

Expertise gives us insight and ammunition.

When I was new, I hadn’t studied enough and there were consequences. First, I dismissed good advice. Secondly, I didn’t have any way of discerning good advice from bad advice, which can lead to the Franken-Novel (book by committee). Thirdly, if I wanted to stand by a creative decision, I couldn’t articulate why.

But back to anger. When others (even experts) told me I had problems, I got angry. Instead of doing the tough work, I ‘fixed’ surface stuff. If we get the opinion of an expert who’s any good, I guarantee you they’ll make you angry.

As a long-time editor, I can tell you the ‘perfect’ book doesn’t exist.

Even if a book is great, a good editor should be able to spot something that’s going to take it to that next level. Often, it’s something that requires painful sacrifice. Anger is natural, but take time to cool off and see if maybe that person has a point.

If it’s something you simply refuse to change that is perfectly okay. It’s your book.

Yet, I’ve learned if something makes me angry…there very often is something there worth exploring.

Bargaining: Okay, Maybe My Novel Needs Work

revising a novel, self-editing for writers, editing, writing tips, Kristen Lamb

Bargaining is the place I believe most novels die. This is where we spend three or five or ten years reworking the same book. I can’t recall who first coined the term, but this is where we start ‘rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.’ 

We can’t bear the thought of tearing down and starting over, so we futz with prose and description, move around chapters, decide we really have a series.

When revising a novel, we do everything BUT what needs doing. Sometimes we don’t have a core story problem. Or we have a weak core problem. Maybe we don’t have any stakes, or the stakes aren’t high enough.

Perhaps there is no ticking clock, thus nothing prompting urgency in the characters.

This is the hard birthing pains part.

Maybe we DO have a series, but series have structure. We can’t just parse a book apart at a certain page and say, ‘Book ONE!’ then ‘Book TWO!’ without doing some other modifications.

We always have to remember that the human brain is wired a certain way and when writers run contrary to what’s been ingrained in the audience’s very DNA, that’s a risk.

Dramatic structure is not an arbitrary—or even conscious—invention. It is an organic codification of the human mechanism for ordering information. Event, elaboration, denouement; thesis, antithesis, synthesis; boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl; act one, two, three.

    ~David Mamet, Three Uses of the Knife: On the Nature and Purpose of Drama, pg. 73

Depression: I SUUUUUCK & My Novel is DOOOOMED

No and no. Writing fiction is mentally, physically and emotionally exhausting. This is why most of us who finish NaNoWriMo spend the first weeks of December eating jars of marshmallow fluff from our blanket fort. We’re so shredded because we’ve poured out an incredible amount of psychic energy, which needs time to recharge.

Think if you were trying to remodel a bathroom. You throw yourself into the remodel for a month. You’ve had to pee in old Folgers cans, borrow a neighbor’s bathroom, you have to go to the gym to shower.

Finally, after thirty days, the functional stuff is in place: shower, sink and toilet work.

But you insist on continuing without charging any of the tools. Oh you plug in the drill while you break for lunch, then go back to trying to instal cabinets, but the drill is sluggish and dies.

That table saw you’re using to cut the flooring is portable because it has a battery pack. But you do the same thing you did with the drill. You plug in the battery while you run down to the mini-mart for a Monster drink…then BACK TO WORK!

Can you imagine the nightmare of ‘finishing out’ a bathroom with tools that barely have a charge and keep dying? The mistakes one might make by stopping and starting over and over to plug in the charger for a half hour?

THIS is what can happen if we start revising a novel too soon. We are worn out. Our tools need time to charge. We need perspective and if we force the process…we can make small problems much bigger.

Editing too soon, can cut the beating heart out of a perfectly good story. Premature editing KILLS.

Expert Intervention

Or, maybe you’re out of your depth. Using our bathroom analogy, you were able to do everything but some electrical wiring and plumbing. You have to flush the toilet to turn on the lights. Maybe it’s best to admit we’ve done all WE can do and just hire some help.

Yes, it costs some money, but what is your TIME worth?

If you have a plot problem I (or another expert) can fix for you in an hour or two, which is better? Calling us and fixing the problem and finishing the book or spending the next year fixing the problem when you could have written another book?

I have never met a plot I couldn’t fix. I’ve done in less than an hour what clients couldn’t do in years. So many cry and ask, ‘Why didn’t I call you sooner?’ My answer. It doesn’t matter. You called. And quick tip. It is OKAY to not know EVERYTHING 😉 .

Acceptance: Let’s Fix This

You’ve rested, grieved, watched Netflix until your brain hurt and, overall, gotten some distance. I recommend checking out a previous post, Self-Editing: 7 Tips to Tighten the Story & Cut Costs. This post has a lot of DIY tips that will keep costs down if you do hire an editor, because the good ones are not cheap.

If you go to the Editorial Freelancers Association, you can see the standard rates and different types of editing. A developmental editor isn’t the same as a proofreader. Yet, I WILL say, that if we fix as much as we can on our own (sort of like that bathroom remodel), when we DO hire a pro we gain major advantage.

First, the expert can SEE what needs fixing MUCH faster. Secondly, it’s easier for them to do their thang. The means YOU saved THEM TIME so YOU SPEND a lot less MONEY.

#YouAreWelcome

Revising a Novel: DIY Dilemmas

As an editor, if I can’t get past the word echoes, passive voice, bad punctuation, POV shifts—simple fixes but MASSIVE distractions—then you’re burning cash. If we can’t see through this stuff that’s easily fixed on your own quickly, then it will take more TIME to get to BIG issues like plot, characters, arc, etc.

I offer my ‘Write Stuff Special’ namely because I want writers to have an affordable way to experience a true deep edit. This is my way of helping y’all save a ton of money. When I was new, there were some pros who helped me out and this is how I pay it forward.

I can tell every bad habit and good habit in only a few pages. More importantly, I can spot major structure problems as well and will give suggestions how to fix them.

This saves a TON of time ‘fixing’ stuff that doesn’t need fixing.

***Agents can see this stuff, too, which is how they can reject a book with only a small sample. If a writer doesn’t grasp POV in the first 10 pages, it’s unlikely to get any better and no one wants to be trapped in The Blair Witch Project.

Fresh Eyes Help

Remember that even the mega-authors have editors. We never outgrow needing fresh eyes to help us get unstuck. These experts are invaluable. Using myself as an example, I had a major problem with finishing up my mystery-thriller The Devil’s Dance. 

Agents spotted a problem, other editors spotted a problem, even beta readers spotted something was…off. They couldn’t tell me what. #Great

Finally, I handed it to my then editor and NOW my current coauthor. I kid you not, she read three pages and went, ‘Your problem is BLAH.’ And she was dead on.

*rails at heavens*

I’d read and reread my MS countless times over the course of a year and didn’t see that all I needed to do was remove three sentences.

Who do you think I now call FIRST when I am stuck?

Speeding Up the Cycle

Hopefully, now that we’ve explored the emotional rollercoaster that goes with revising a novel you’ll relax some. This is all natural. No, we won’t always go through all five stages. Sometimes we’ll hit them in a different order.

I have yet to figure out how one experiences NONE of these…but whatever.

Regardless, if we know this is a PROCESS and the parts of the PROCESS then we can more easily recognize when we’ve gotten STUCK.

Once we know we are stuck, we can then act. We can take a nap, work on something else for a while, take a class, read some books, crochet, watch Game of Thrones all over from beginning to end to recharge our bloodlust and dysfunction.

Whatever.

Just know if you’ve written a novel, even a crappy one, you did something that countless people claim they want to do…and DON’T. You finished and the most critical piece of success—in ANYTHING—is learning to be a finisher.

So give yourself a pat on the back and maybe a treat 😉 .

Before I ask for your thoughts, I want to make a little announcement…

Author Holiday Hotline

All the On-Demand bundles are ON SALE. We’ve saved all the best classes for a limited time for ON DEMAND. This means professional author training in your home, no pants required.

I STRONGLY recommend the gift that’s going to keep blessing you all year, all career long. We record all classes to make training accessible and convenient, but these recordings take up A LOT OF STORAGE space. Come the new year, we’re going to have to free up space on the servers and these classes will be gone for good. Some we might not offer again.

We have classes on speculative fiction, plotting, character, blogging, social media, etc. Scroll down and pick out the ones you want, then you’ll have the recording to watch on YOUR schedule.

Also, we have two more classes for December and some listed for January. If you sign up before December 24th, you can get $10 off.

GET $10 OFF ALL LIVE CLASSES. Use the promo code Jolly18.

What Are Your Thoughts?

Are you stuck revising your novel? Find yourself looping back and forth and never getting free? Hey, I’ve been there. Does this help you see the pattern? Give you some spark that YES, YOU CAN BE FREE! Revising a novel is TOUGH, so give yourself a break. If this job were easy it would be called rocket science 😛 .

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this!

Also, check out the FANTASTIC HOLIDAY DEALS we have! A lot of our On Demand classes need to be wiped from the server to make room for more training, so if you want professional training AT HOME? While in jammies during December when calories don’t COUNT? Grab you SOME! Gift it to yourself, a friend, YOURSELF!

ALSO, I’m offering my Write Stuff Special for a LOW holiday price. 20 pages of deep edit/critique for $55 and there are only 7 slots left. If you need some outside feedback to get you on the right track? Get a SPOT, TODAY! (You can use when you are ready).

In the meantime, opinions!

What do you WIN? For the month of DECEMBER, 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).

LIVE CLASSES! REMEMBER TO USE Holiday18 for $10 off!

The WANANANO Bundle

Instructors: Cait Reynolds, Kristen Lamb
Price: $79.00 USD 
Where: W.A.N.A. Digital Classroom
When: (see below)

  • The Sticky Middle Saturday, December 14, 2018, 7:00-9:00 p.m. EST
  • NANONOWWHAT? Thursday, December 13, 2018, 7:00-9:00 p.m. EST (Just enough time to recover…)

Get two live classes plus all recordings for 30% off! You can also purchase each class individually.


The Publishing Triple Threat Bundle

Instructors: Kristen Lamb, Cait Reynolds
Price: $155.00 USD (buy now and get that last tax deduction in before the end of the year!)
Where: W.A.N.A. Digital Classroom
When: (see below)

Normally, it would be $210 USD for these three classes.

With the Triple Threat Bundle ALL THREE CLASSES (10 HOURS LIVE and RECORDINGS) for ONLY $155 USD. (Three classes for the price of TWO!)

You can also purchase each class individually.

***Registration is open until an hour before the final class. If, however, you want to attend ALL THREE CLASSES LIVE, MAKE SURE TO SIGN UP BEFORE THE FIRST CLASS ON JANUARY 10th.


ON DEMAND CLASSES!

ON DEMAND BUNDLE – Author Branding TKO

New Year New YOU! As they say, fail to plan and plan to fail. 2019 is almost here and the Author Branding T.K.O. delivers the training you need to make 2019 a success.

In this bundle, we’re going to take on then tame the three most terrifying topics. By the end? Easy peasy! You’ll wonder why this stuff ever had you so freaked out in the first place.

Normally all three classes would be $155…as well as spread across the entire year. But now, with the T.K.O. BUNDLE, all three classes in one place (your place) for only $99.

***Get your bundle TODAY. Only available for purchase through 12/24/18. Get your bundle before these classes go away with 2018. Gotta free up space on servers for 2019….


ON DEMAND BUNDLE – The Author’s Toolkit: Go PRO in 2019

Maybe have a New Year’s Resolution to write that novel? Have you started far too many promising stories, only to get stuck and never finish? Perhaps you just want to learn how to write FASTER without compromising quality? This bundle is the training you need to be a lean mean writing machine.

The Author’s Toolkit Bundle is six hours of intensive training that will help you write at a professional pace while minimizing revisions.

SIX HOURS of PROFESSIONAL TRAINING all at the same time, delivered to your computer. $165 when purchased separately, but in The Author’s Toolkit Bundle ONLY $99.

***Only available for purchase through 12/24/18. Get your bundle before these classes go away with 2018…


Blinding them with Science: The “X” Factor Classes

Tired of writing Soylent Green? Too many unfinished books trapped in the Twilight Zone? Ready to get weird…but way faster and at a professional level of weird? You came to the RIGHT PLACE! Cait and I are professional weirdos….(that sounded way more awesome in my head).

Anyway, the Blinding Them with Science Bundle is SIX HOURS of professional level training in speculative fiction at your fingertips.

***Just promise us that when you enslave the human race, we get cookies.

Three mind-bending classes for one low mind-blowing price. $165 in classes for only $99. ON DEMAND. Meaning enjoy at home in jammies.

***Only available for purchase through 12/24/18. Get your bundle before these classes go away with 2018…


ON DEMAND BUNDLE – Dangerous Dames: Creating Strong Female Characters

DOUBLE TROUBLE WITH KRISTEN & CAIT! Get the One-Two BAM! Two Power Classes with ONE T.K.O. PRICE!

Dangerous Dames BUNDLE. Regardless of time, place, or planet, these classes will train you to craft legendary bad@$$ females audiences can’t get enough of.

Normally $90 for both classes. With Double Trouble Bundle, enjoy BOTH classes for ONLY $75.

These classes are pre-recorded and won’t be offered again. This is the last chance to enjoy these classes before we free up space on the servers.


About the Instructors:

Cait Reynolds is a USA Today Bestselling Author and lives in Boston with her husband and neurotic dog. She discovered her passion for writing early and has bugged her family and friends with it ever since. She likes history, science, Jack Daniels, jewelry, pasta, and solitude. Not all at the same time. When she isn’t enjoying the rooftop deck that brings her closer to the stars, she writes.

 

Kristen Lamb is the author of the definitive guide to social media and branding for authors, Rise of the Machines—Human Authors in a Digital World. She’s also the author of #1 best-selling books We Are Not Alone—The Writer’s Guide to Social Media and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer. She’s just released her highly acclaimed debut mystery-thriller The Devil’s Dance.

Kristen has written over twelve hundred blogs and her site was recognized by Writer’s Digest Magazine as one of the Top 101 Websites for Writers. Her branding methods are responsible for selling millions of books and used by authors of every level, from emerging writers to mega authors.

fitness humor, Kristen Lamb, gym humor, gym funny

As an author, speaker, trainer, blogger, wife and mother, it’s super important for me to strive for work-life balance (Translation: Don’t go to jail).

For instance…blogging on something completely different for a change. On, per se…working OUT.

Because seriously. Without time to decompress, get rid of pent up energy and anxiety, well that’s when I start collecting hitchhikers in my basement.

KIDDING!

…I don’t have a basement.

Since I don’t like shopping, have a bazillion food allergies (thus am any chain restaurant’s worst nightmare), and can’t afford my crafting habit…the gym has been a relatively good fit. I get out of the house, it’s healthy, and great family bonding time.

Sure, there are a lot of people—AHHHHH—but they have on headphones and generally want to be left alone.

Which rocks.

What? I’m an introvert, not the Unibomber.

…yet.

Me.

Alas, since I’m one of those people who goes to the gym all year long, I feel I probably notice trends others don’t. Namely, the massive uptick in @$$hats—Gym Bugs—collecting in the gyms when the temps outside drop.

Sort of like flu bugs but without any kind of vaccination.

It is the holiday season and thus…

They’re heeere….

…and 2018.

Gym Bug Season seems to begin around November 15th then run through February 15th. Probably has to do with those who want a) to meet someone to date so as not to be alone during holidays b) to trim down to look good for holidays c) get pics of ‘doing’ New Year resolutions and/or d) to keep that ‘holiday bae’ until at least February 15th (after Valentine’s).

Whatever.

Dunno. Don’t care. All I do know is that Gym Bugs are not the regulars I see throughout the rest of the year.

We’re Gym Rats.

#TotesDifferent

Gym Bug Season

There are about three months out of the year that, unless I work out at some seriously bizarre time like 3:30 a.m., I need a really good sense of humor…because I can’t afford a really good defense attorney.

For the likes of me, I have NO IDEA WHERE THESE PEOPLE COME FROM. And I really don’t get them, but that’s fine. I’m old enough to know that which I cannot control, I CAN openly mock.

😛

To be clear, I think newbies ROCK. We all start somewhere. I am still a work in progress. I love to work out…but I also love tacos.

Neophytes are kewl, but parasites (Gym Bugs)? Not so kewl.

Y’all may recognize a few of these…

Dude Who Leaves 800+ Pounds on Machine

I admire people who train hard and push their bodies to the limits. It’s when they push my patience to the limits that we start to have problems. Want to lift five-hundred pounds? A thousand? Go for it!

Just RE-RACK YOUR WEIGHTS WHEN FINISHED and we can allllll get along.

I do have to say, our gym is really cute. They play these gym etiquette/courtesy videos on the televisions overhead. One has this tiny blonde girl removing her fifty pounds off the squat bar after she’s finished and putting them away.

*clutches sides laughing*.

Yeah, because Mackenzie working off that non-fat sugar-free peppermint soy latte is the real troublemaker.

I remember being at L.A. Fitness in November of 2009, nine months pregnant with Spawn, LITERALLY chasing after some muscle-head who’d left like 700 pounds on the squat machine.

He’d also liberally sprinkled the floor with 80+ pound dumbbells…then left them for my VERY pregnant self to fall over.

True story.

I chased him through L.A.Fitness chastising him for leaving such a mess until he finally hid from me…behind the 105 pound receptionist and her desk.

#NotMakingThisUp

“That Machine Doesn’t Work That Way” Girl

So last week, I’m on the StairMaster and look over and saw something that made me go full white girl.

I literally couldn’t even.

There’s a machine that’s meant to help you train to eventually do a full pull-up/chin-up. There is a nice foam pad where you kneel, then grab the overhead bars and pull up. The machine allows you to add weight (counterbalancing your full body weight). This way, you’re pulling up say only 50 pounds instead of a full 150.

Then, gradually you take away weight until you’re strong enough to lift your full body weight. VERY COOL machine. But I look over and…

Well, this is close enough of a reenactment…

Granted, points for creativity but some things can never be unseen.

This inevitably places me in an awkward position *bada bump snare* of not being able to decide whether to a) say something and maybe prevent injury and/or b) take a picture to prove I wasn’t hallucinating.

Why do the people who work at the gym never STOP these people? #ThatWillLeaveAMark

The Equipment Hoarder

This should be self-explanatory but…*weary sigh*. Why do some people feel the need to help themselves to sixteen sets of barbells?

I’d like to posit a solution.

During the holidays, law enforcement officers make extra money working security. Why can’t gyms hire school librarians to guard the dumbbell racks at gyms?

These terrifying women could be the exact sanity sentinels we need. The last line of defense against those with no manners.

It’s a total win-win! Librarians could make sure these folks had to check weights in and out. Maybe add in fines for taking too long or failing to return them. The regulars would be happy, the gym floor clean and safe and librarians flush with cash #MakinItRAIN.

That or gyms could hire any woman named BRENDA to keep watch. They’d behave. #Seriously

The Sweat Spreader

There are people who sweat, a lot. And sweating is good. Sweating means we are properly hydrated. It’s also an amazing way to get rid of stress hormones and toxins. Please! SWEAT! It’s why we’re at the gym (or supposed to be, anyway).

Just, when one is finished dripping all over the place…um, wipe it UP?

My recommendation? Use those spray bottles the same way I do with my cats when they get on the counter. Spray the offender from behind. Then, when they jump and scream in shock?

Play dumb like you have no idea why they jumped…but kindly offer a towel and glance at the sweaty equipment.

Eventually, the GOAL is for the offender to realize the “mysterious jet of water” only hits them when they don’t wipe down the equipment.

If that doesn’t work…repurposed bark collars #IGiveUp

InstaModels

I know we’re in the age of oversharing. I do it, too. I enjoy posting a gym pic now and again because I love (and need) encouragement.

So if someone wants a moment to take a selfie or two? No problemo! Document your excellence!

But for those who make entire sections of the gym inaccessible for a personal photoshoot…oblivious to the LINE OF PEOPLE waiting for the machine being used as a PROP?

Spend gym membership money on Photoshop instead. Simple to add muscles, thigh gaps and unicorns…from home.

Social Media Squatters

Yes, it is the holidays and “Peace on Earth” but this is a formula to get a piece of…*yoga breaths*

Last Monday, I was doing a leg workout with Hubby and—again TRUE STORY—this ONE guy had almost 800 pounds on the squat bar (station) where he’d left his water bottle and lifting belt. He also had another 200 pounds loaded on the incline benchpress across from the squat station…where he’d draped his towel.

MEANWHILE…he sat TEXTING and POSTING ON SOCIAL MEDIA on a THIRD station. I wish I were making this up.

….and this is how serial killers are born.

I’m thinking we need the new Swole Smokey the Bear to do some PSAs for gym etiquette. What? I can dream. This is why writers are never put in charge…

humor, Kristen Lamb, gym funny, fitness funnyIt’s the holidays and I know, I know! Everywhere is way more crowded and we’re all crammed together. It’s challenging to all get along, but doable.

Pay attention, encourage the new people, remember there are others around us, clean up after ourselves, etc. Be considerate. The little things make a big difference.

In the end, Gym Bugs come and go. Just be patient, learn to laugh. For those who remain who wanna get swole, not parole? Remember:

Five consecutive sets=AWESOME. Five consecutive life sentences=NOT AWESOME.

Happy holidays 😉