Kristen Lamb

Author, Blogger, Social Media Jedi

Kristen Lamb — Photo

Posts Tagged: going pro as a writer

Image courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of Steve Snodgrass
Image courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of Steve Snodgrass

All of us start out writing for different reasons. Perhaps we have dreams of seeing New York Times Best Seller or USA Today Best Seller in front of our names. Perhaps we long to be a household name like Stephen King or even a legend like J.K Rowling.

Some of you might want to see Winner of the Pulitzer Prize on the cover of your books or see your books made into television or major motion pictures. Some writers simply want to finish that one novel and publish it so they can say they wrote a novel.

Every dream is equally noble. There are no right or wrong goals only your goals (and goals evolve as we do). Yet, I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that the level of sacrifice and self-discipline required to Write a Novel in a Year is different from the author who longs to be the next Neil Gaiman.

When I started writing I thought I knew everything. It wasn’t until I went to my first writing conference that I understood the truth. I was too dumb to know how much I didn’t know. When I later gained genuine mentors (professionals) I was horrified to realize my writing wasn’t the only thing that needed a major overhaul. My character, habits, and attitudes did too.

In all bluntness, I began as a lazy unteachable ass who believed in luck not work. Most of all I had no concept of how important it was to set and maintain boundaries.

I hadn’t yet learned to guard the muse.

That had to change if I was ever going to reach my dreams. Our muse is precious and there are some critical habits we must learn to keep her healthy. We need to feed her good things—rest, books, classes, music, good friends. But at the same time? We must also protect her. This is critical for success in writing (or actually anything for that matter).

Guard Your Energy

Image courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons via Michele Africano
Image courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons via Michele Africano

Energy is to the muse what blood is to the body. Drain out 3 quarts from your wrists and see how you feel. Similarly, we need to make sure we aren’t dragging the muse through emotional razor wire.

Trust me, legendary authors guard their energy the way a concert violinist guards her hands. Energy that leaks out into unproductive endeavors is stealing vital life-force from the muse and pros get that.

Yet how many emerging writers are clinging to writing groups filled with folks who complain and never write? Holding onto family members or friends who are addicted to crises? How many writers are reckless with posts or comments on social media?

All that mental energy hemorrhaging into drama or onto social media in fruitless ways is taking away vital creativity that could be going into their work. But instead of their talent being focused in a novel, it is being bled into arguments on Facebook threads, tweets or in a blog’s comment section.

Cut OFF Toxic People

Image via Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of Ted Van Pelt
Image via Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of Ted Van Pelt

The best way to have a healthy muse? Don’t poison her. If a friend or family is emotional gangrene? CUT THEM OFF.

Toxic people always have problems and they really aren’t interested in solving them. They might say they want advice or support but this is a lie. They simply want an audience to nod to their excuses and indulge their anger, self-pity or addictions. Hanging out with them is like volunteering to be in a constant emotional full contact sport.

And yeah I am mixing the hell out of metaphors but I want you guys to understand how important this all is.

Negative emotions are not only draining, but after prolonged exposure, we can become physically ill and damage the muse (sometimes permanently).

Toxic people are always in a heightened emotional state. Their behavior creates stress and stress is something our bodies will react to in a primal way. When we sense danger, blood transfers from the cerebral cortex (higher thinking centers) to the reptilian brain (fight or flight). This serves a purpose. If a car is on our child, this isn’t the time to remember all our clever Nietzsche quotes.

But the problem is our bodies can’t tell the difference between outrunning a bear and merely arguing with a recalcitrant sibling or a troll on Facebook.

Lizard Brain is NOT creative.

Additionally we are who we hang around. Thoughts become actions, actions become habits, habits become character and character becomes destiny.

Got people in your life who want to complain? Make excuses? Still partying like it’s 1999? Just let them go lest they rub off.

Beware of Overconfidence

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Over the weekend I saw the movie Doctor Strange and loved it! But how did Dr. Stephen Strange end up battered and broken in a temple in Nepal instead of being the world’s richest and most renowned surgeon? He grew overconfident and believed he could drive on rainy roads at high speed while talking on the phone and looking at e-mail.

And he ended up with two crushed hands.

Out of ego, he failed to guard what was most precious to doing his job. And yeah it is a Marvel story but there is a neat lesson we can use.

When we rant on social media, tweet whatever flies through our head, get tangled up in friend drama or family fiascos, that is being reckless with the muse. And sure maybe the first 393 times we speed down that wet highway talking on the cell phone and texting goes fine. But it only takes something going wrong once for us to drive off a cliff and crush the muse.

And most of us don’t have Plan B of living in a temple learning to fight in other dimensions.

Choose Our Battles

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It’s easy to believe that “we can handle it” but in all honesty? That is a dangerous game.

Toxic people have more access to our lives than ever before. One of the reasons I recommend writers avoid ranting about politics on Facebook (unless one longs to be the next Bill Maher or Anne Coulter) is that, among many other reasons, it is a tremendous mental drain that can have devastating consequences (refer to guarding energy).

One of the biggest reasons many emerging writers will never bear fruit is they lack the discipline to choose their battles.

We are anointed to change the world with books, not argue with idiots on social media.

We can get pulled into on-line tiffs with folks who have no intention of changing their views. Many are on there for the sheer joy of being contrary or even cruel. I even have a mantra on Facebook when I see something that someone posts that upsets me and I feel the need to “say” something and “set them straight.”

I am NOT the Jackass Whisperer.

Then I unfollow them out of my feed and move on. We must understand that social media and building a platform is our job, but we need to manage distraction and compulsion. Sure we might initially get that “feel good” zing, but the cost of fruitless battles are far higher than the payoff. Every time we do this we are stealing energy from the true payoff—our finished and published books.

Toxic people are a great distraction on-line but also in life. We might think, “Oh I will write after I help Such-and-Such” get sorted. The problem is Such-and-Such has zero intention of ever being sorted. Misery just loves company.

So why are we handing them our limited and precious creative energy?

Where the Mind Goes the Muse Follows

Image via Flickr Creative Commons courtesy of Tequilamike
Image via Flickr Creative Commons courtesy of Tequilamike

Years ago I had the pleasure of working with Ferrari and was invited to some pretty amazing events, including getting to meet professional race car drivers. When drivers are racing, the most important component to winning is not crashing. Seems silly, but it’s true. If your car is in flames, odds are a trophy is not in your future.

But when race car drivers train, the most vital lesson is to keep the eyes where they want the car to go. Where the mind goes, the man follows. Look at the wall? Hit the wall. Look at the finish line? Cross the finish line.

Thus, a big way we can guard the muse from crashing is to keep focusing on where we want to go.

In the end, any kind of success is all about discipline. Like anything else, our muse gets stronger the more we feed her the good stuff and the better we guard her from the bad.

What are your thoughts? Do you struggle with distraction? In person or on-line? I know this time of year is hard on a lot of us when it comes to setting boundaries. Did you have to let go of writing friends who always complained and never wrote? Who couldn’t take criticism? Who refused to learn and grow? Did you find that you did better once you got away?

What are some ways you guard your muse?

I love hearing from you!

And to prove it and show my love, for the month of NOVEMBER, 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.

TREAT YOUR MUSE!!!! Check out the Upcoming Classes

Remember that ALL CLASSES come with a FREE RECORDING so you can listen over and over. So even if you can’t make it because the holidays are crazy? No excuses! Take time to be good to yourself! All you need is an internet connection!

How to Get Your Book Made Into Film

Class Title: How to Get Your Book Made Into Film
Instructor: Writer/Producer Joel Eisenberg
Price: $45 USD Standard
Where: W.A.N.A. Digital Classroom
When: WEDNESDAY November 30th, 2016 1:00 PM E.S.T. to 3:00 P.M. EST

How do you cull the essence of your novel into a feature film? How do you expand your short story for a television series? Finally, when the written adaptation is complete, how do you navigate the Hollywood maze for real money and credits?

Joel Eisenberg has been there. As an independent producer of over 20 years, Joel has developed content or sold projects to networks such as TNT, CBS-Decades, FOX Studios, Ovation TV and more. As the former head of EMO Films at Paramount Studios, Joel is also a professional networker, having hosted entertainment network events at the Paramount lot, as well as Warner Brothers, Sunset-Gower Studios and more. His work has been featured in many media outlets, including CNN, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, NBC, The Los Angeles Times, TV Guide and even Fangoria.

Important Class for After NaNoWriMo! You might have a New Year’s Resolution to query a novel. Doesn’t matter. Treat yourself to an early Christmas present!

Pitch Perfect—How to Write a Query Letter & Synopsis that SELLS

Class Title: Pitch Perfect—How To Write a Query Letter & Synopsis that SELLS
Instructor: Kristen Lamb
Price: $45 USD Standard
Where: W.A.N.A. Digital Classroom
When: FRIDAY December 2nd, 2015 7:00 PM E.S.T. to 9:00 P.M. EST

You’ve written a novel and now are faced with the two most terrifying challenges all writers face. The query and the synopsis.

Query letters can be daunting. How do you sell yourself? Your work? How can you stand apart without including glitter in your letter?

***NOTE: DO NOT PUT GLITTER IN YOUR QUERY.

Good question. We will cover that and more!

But sometimes the query is not enough.

Most writers would rather cut their wrists with a spork than be forced to write the dreaded…synopsis. Yet, this is a valuable skills all writers should learn. Synopses are often requested by agents and editors and it is tough not to feel the need to include every last little detail. Synopses are great for not only keeping your writing on track, but also for pitching your next book and your next to that agent of your choice.

This class will help you learn the fundamentals of writing a query letter and a synopsis. What you must include and what doesn’t belong.

So make your writing pitch perfect with these two skills!

Plotting for Dummies

Class Title: Plotting for Dummies
Instructor: Kristen Lamb
Price: $35 USD Standard
Where: W.A.N.A. Digital Classroom
When: SATURDAY December 3rd, 2016 2:30 PM E.S.T. to 4:30 P.M. EST

Are you tired of starting book after book only to lose steam and be unable to finish? Do you finish, but then keep getting rejected? Do you finish, but it takes an ungodly amount of time? Sure, great you land an agent for your book, but you don’t have FIVE YEARS to write the next one?

This class is here to help. The writers who are making an excellent income are not doing it off ONE book, rather they are harnessing the power of compounded sales. This class is designed to help you learn to plot leaner, meaner, faster and cleaner (even for PANTSERS!)

Learn the basic elements of plot, various plotting techniques, how to test your seed idea to see if it is even strong enough to be a novel and MORE!

Blogging for Authors

Class Title: Blogging for Authors
Instructor: Kristen Lamb
Price: $50 USD Standard
Where: W.A.N.A. Digital Classroom
When: FRIDAY December 9th, 7:00 PM E.S.T. to 9:00 P.M. EST

Blogging is one of the most powerful forms of social media. Twitter could flitter and Facebook could fold but the blog will remain so long as we have an Internet. The blog has been going strong since the 90s and it’s one of the best ways to establish a brand and then harness the power of that brand to drive book sales.

The best part is, done properly, a blog plays to a writer’s strengths. Writers write.

The problem is too many writers don’t approach a blog properly and make all kinds of mistakes that eventually lead to blog abandonment. Many authors fail to understand that bloggers and author bloggers are two completely different creatures.

This class is going to cover:

How author blogs work. What’s the difference in a regular blog and an author blog?
What are the biggest mistakes/wastes of time?
How can you effectively harness the power of algorithms (no computer science degree required)?
What do you blog about? What topics will engage readers and help create a following?
How can you harness your author voice using a blog?
How can a blog can help you write leaner, meaner, faster and cleaner?
How do you keep energized years into your blogging journey?
How can a blog help you sell more books?
How can you cultivate a fan base of people who love your genre?
Blogging doesn’t have to be hard. This class will help you simplify your blog and make it one of the most enjoyable aspects of your writing career.

 

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

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Yesterday I reposted an old blog addressing how I feel PC and EC (Emotional Correctness) has gone more than a little crazy and often has done more to alienate people than to bind them. The thread had some really wonderful and thoughtful commentary. Not everyone wholly agreed on everything but everyone seemed to strive to be thoughtful and kind. THANK YOU, btw.

But some of the commentary about aggression and hurt feelings got me thinking about how we have become as a culture. Are we becoming too sheltered? Is it doing more harm than good?

Bear with me a moment.

I LOVE air conditioning. I live in Texas, so in the summer, I probably love AC more than my husband. I also love Costco, because….

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I really like being able to drive everywhere instead of walking or saddling up a horse. Indoor plumbing? Huge fan. But often I wonder how soft these conveniences have made me (since I think about a possible zombie apocalypse more than is probably healthy).

If life as I knew it imploded tomorrow, how would I fare? With no power, no Internet, no running water? With no AC and it is 110 degrees and 90% humidity? Since I don’t have to swing an ax daily for fuel if I want to eat? I have writer hands. How will those fare?

Not well.

The hard truth is we don’t grow without being uncomfortable. We don’t get tough without friction. And I wonder if this being comfortable has permeated too much of our lives, down to our “feelings.” I have to say after working well over a decade with other writers, the single biggest hurdle we have to overcome is our feelings.

We must get rhino skin.

Let Me Illustrate

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There was once an interesting experiment. In the middle of the desert, scientists constructed a bio-dome. Inside, life would be a “perfect” world where it was always an ambient 76 degrees.

The trees would get all the sun they needed, all the water, all the nutrients. There were no storms, no pests, no diseases, and no overcrowding, and no weeds. Surely, with these perfect conditions the trees would thrive, right?

WRONG.

Eventually the scientists noticed that the trees in the bio-dome grew slower and were smaller than trees in the “real” world. They also never grew above a certain height. They had very shallow root systems. Overall, they looked…unhealthy.

How could this be?

Since they were scientists they did what scientists do. They went back over the data. What had gone wrong? They’d given the trees all they needed to thrive…or had they?

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Eventually, they realized that in the hard cruel world, trees weren’t all evenly spaced for enough room, so they had to grow taller to compete for sun. Since water wasn’t delivered daily and there were even periods of drought, the trees were forced to grow deeper roots. Deeper roots could reach the water table. Deeper roots clung on when winds were high.

Speaking of high winds. Storms broke off weaker branches, forced the trees to get tougher bark, to increase the diameter of branches. Pests and diseases? The unprotected trees survived them and became resistant to them. Weeds? They had to learn to successfully compete or coexist.

What does this say about us?

We NEED Push-Back to Grow

I do weight training and sadly, the pink one-pound dumbbells are pretty much useless for anything that doesn’t involve me breaking a pinky toe. In order to get stronger, I need resistance. Resistance causes pain.

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Yesterday was leg day, which means I am likely going to have a pronounced hobble that will pass…just in time for the next leg day. But I do this because it makes me lean and strong and healthy 🙂 .

I know that my body must endure resistance to become stronger and faster, but truthfully? So do my feelings.

Now, please understand. I believe we should always be respectful and as a species it is just good for everyone if we are not acting like a bunch of insensitive asshats. Manners are what separates us from animals.

And proper grammar 😛 .

But at the same time? Not everyone got the “nice” memo and if we go around creating a holodeck where no one ever disagrees or makes us feel uncomfortable or criticizes, we are ill-prepared for reality.

Getting our feelings hurt can actually be quite useful if channeled properly. I loved how the children’s movie Inside Out addressed how our culture has gone cray-cray about never feeling sad. Sadness has a very useful purpose. It is human and necessary.

Same with hurt feelings.

Believe it or not? Dealing with obnoxious people is GREAT training in mental toughness. 

But, there are some added benefits, which we will explore.

Hurt Feelings Signal Areas of Weakness

Years ago, if someone said something that hurt or angered me, I got super defensive. I had a million reasons to justify or excuse whatever I’d done or written and….

Drama, drama, drama.

Now? Not as much. If something really stings? Really angers me? I am old enough to have learned that often that is because there might be some truth to what the other person is saying. Not always, but I do at least now stop to explore WHY it made me feel the way I did.

This is especially important for being a writer. I have met a number of folks who were excellent writers, but who came absolutely unhinged if I didn’t tell them their writing was the best thing since kitten videos. Since they couldn’t ever get over the hurt feelings, they couldn’t learn.

What might at first be perceived as a “hater” could be my next greatest teacher.

Hurt Feelings Build Discernment

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People have a right to their opinion, but guess what?

People have a right to be wrong.

When we exercise we can tell the difference between “good” pain and “bad” pain. Some folks don’t want to work out at all because they don’t want ANY pain. That isn’t healthy. But working out and ignoring ALL pain is just dumb and a good way to end up injured.

Same with emotions.

When we put ourselves out there in a book or a blog or a conversation? The world often will answer back. Over time we have to learn not to take every single opinion to heart. Some people are just plain wrong.

If we brood too much over one thoughtless review? That is a formula to OD on brownie batter and quit.

Hurt Feelings Can Propel Greatness

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I imagine most of you didn’t get a parade from friends and family when you decided to become a writer. For years I was an approval addict. If I mentioned wanting to be a writer, the second someone made a face, I changed my mind.

That was…DUMB. And a huge reason I didn’t become a writer far sooner.

I had to learn to harness those hurt feelings to propel me forward. What once made me quit, now makes me work harder and longer.

Action speaks louder than words, and those naysayers often can be the very fuel that keeps us pressing.

The guy from church who laughed at me wanting to become a writer? Who told me I had a better chance of being hit by lightning than making a living as an author? Let’s just say proving him wrong has been most satisfying :D. Also, I think his nasty comments did more to fuel me through the dark nights of my soul than all my cheerleaders.

I no longer let people like him dictate my choices. Instead, I was grateful because he finally showed me the sickness of my approval addiction. I learned that I didn’t need 100% consensus to do something great.

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In the end, storms SUCK. None of us like pain or drought or suffering or struggle, but it is part of life and the more we embrace it for what it can give us? The better off we are. Sheltering ourselves all the time, while comfortable for the moment, might not be the best long-term plan.

Though I am not giving up my AC.

Or Costco.

Or driving.

Oh stop judging me. I’ll worry about it after the apocalypse :P.

What are your thoughts? We talked about think skin yesterday. Have you ever been guilty? I know I have. My writing would have improved far earlier had I been doing far less defending and a lot more listening.  Have your haters fueled you more than your cheerleaders? Yeah, terrible to admit but it is human nature.

Have you ever tried to work with someone but dancing around their feelings just made them too exhausting to be around? Have you gotten better about listening to your feelings in regards to weeding out toxic people? Have toxic people taught you some priceless lessons?

Do you think social media has become dangerous especially for younger generations? That people are creating an imaginary reality that leaves them ill-prepared for the outside world?

I love hearing from you!

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

May’s winner is Alex Schuler. Please send your 5000 word Word document double spaced to kristen at wana intl.com. And CONGRATULATIONS!

Upcoming Classes

All W.A.N.A. classes are on-line and all you need is an internet connection. Recordings are included in the class price.

Again, I am trying something new and offering an open and interactive workshop. Is your first page strong enough to withstand the fire?

Battle of the First Pages

June 16th, 7-9 EST. Cost $25

This is an interactive experience similar to a gong show. We will upload the first page and I will “gong” when I would have stopped reading and explain why. We will explore what each writer has done right or even wrong or how the page could be better. This workshop is two hours long and limited seats available so get your spot as soon as you can!

So You Want to Write a Novel 

June 17th, 7-9 EST. Cost is $35

Just because we made As in high school or college English does not instantly qualify us to be great novelists. Writing a work that can span anywhere from 60,000 to 120,000+ words requires training. This class is for the person who is either considering writing a novel or who has written a novel(s) and is struggling.

We will cover the essentials of genre, plot, character, dialogue and prose. This class will provide you with the tools necessary to write lean and clean and keep revisions to a minimum.

Character & Plotting (NEW CLASS!)

June 24th, 2015 7:00-9:00 P.M. EST. Cost is $35

All great plots are birthed from character. The core plot problem should be the crucible that eventually reveals a hero in Act III. This means that characterization and plot are inextricably linked. Weak plot, weak character. Blasé character, blasé plot.

This class will teach you how to create dimensional characters and then how to plot from inner demons and flaws. Get inside the heads and hearts of your characters in a way that drives and tightens dramatic tension.

This is an excellent class for anyone who wants to learn how to plot faster and to add layers to their characters.

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

 

Could THIS be your new writing partner?
Could THIS be your new writing partner?

Today I have something exciting to tell you guys about *bounces up and down like a kid*. Last week we talked about Going Pro and today I’d like to springboard off some of what we talked about. One of the reasons it is so vital for authors to take ourselves seriously, is it directly impacts how we operate. So long as we view what we do as “our little thing” or “a hobby” or we are “aspiring,” we are hesitant to do the activities that will truly matter. We will fail to commit.

We are just “shacking up” with our dream instead of putting a ring on it.

If we haven’t yet mentally “gone pro” often we won’t make our writing a priority. Everyone and everything comes first and if there is any time left over? Well, then we can write.

No.

We will also fail to invest in getting better. We might buy reference books and writing guides, but we are still relying on being self-taught. Nothing wrong with starting this way, but for most of us? It will make the journey harder and longer and we will make many more mistakes that will take even MORE time to fix.

There are SO many times I wish an author would have hired me to consult on a plot before writing a 100,000 word mess that can’t be repaired. Or hired me to help create a brand before they spent three years creating something that is a train wreck.

Many new writers fail to appreciate that one conference, one class or a couple of hours of training could be the very difference in failure and success. I know I practically had to donate plasma to afford my first conference, but I met and befriended New York Times Best-Selling Author Bob Mayer and that one meeting changed my life…literally. 

Had I not gone to that conference and connected with that expert? I would probably be in rehab working in sales and this blog would not exist. W.A.N.A. would not exist and tens of thousands of writers who have benefited from my books and classes?

Well, who knows?

All I know is had I not met Bob, the world would never have seen my author picture on a panty liner. Okay, well Bob would probably prefer I not mention that…

Don’t Advertise, PADvertise! Get in your reader’s wallet AND her pants!

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Bob actually changed my life in a number of ways. One major lesson he taught me was the value in seeking help from professionals. Many of us are trying to blaze our way to success on our own, but we really don’t have to go it all alone. He taught me to look for people who have already done what I want to do and learn from them. They already have a map, why not use it? He was a major inspiration in me creating W.A.N.A.

In writing, I hire pros all the time. I am not happy being good at what I do. I am committed to being the best.

Currently, I am taking James Patterson’s Masters Class. Since I blog about writing and teach writing and yes, I write mysteries and thrillers? Why not look to someone who has mastered what I want to do? James is a master at outlining, writing quickly, and also he is GREAT at plot twists.

So imagine my surprise when Patterson’s Master’s Class people contacted me and told me they loved my blog and asked me to share some information with you guys.

A quick caveat.

Anyone who’s followed my blog more than a minute knows I am not for sale. I will only ever promote what I love and believe in. If I think something is snake oil? Not enough money in the world for me to tie my name to it.

Truthfully, I probably would have promoted this class on my blog anyway but was wanting to finish the whole thing before putting up my thoughts.

But there is a contest and the deadline is March 22nd, so I am blogging early about it. Was also hesitant to mention the contest on my blog, because, HELLO??? I am entering and why do I want to tell you guys? 😛

And that is bad and selfish and I since really do love y’all so it would be fantastic to connect one of you in just the right way at the right time to make you a legend.

Just please remember me when you are famous.

Anyway, like me, James Patterson also has a passion for helping writers get that big break. He’d been teaching the class for a while and was so impressed with the quality of student work, that he wanted to use the class to recruit a new co-author. Then everyone wins.

Patterson fans are almost cult-like in their passion and devotion and they want a lot of stories. James is good, but hey, after 70 mega-best-selling books or so, maybe fresh blood is a good thing. This helps James keep his stories new and exciting and also uses his brand and platform to launch an unknown into the next big deal.

Personally, I just know he is going to love my idea about a dirty mall cop dealing weaponized poodles. Can Fifi, the assistant manager of the Smoothie King stop him from unleashing his poodle stockpile before Black Friday is the blackest ever?

Unleash? Get it? I already have merchandising ideas.

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NO ONE suspects him….

Kristen FOCUS.

Those who are taking the Master’s Class can enter. And seriously, the class is $9o for 22 lessons and over three HOURS of instruction. Plus there are all kinds of hands-on assignments. You can upload samples for critique, often by James himself. I have been really impressed with the class and have learned a handful of small things that I was all *face palm* Why didn’t I think of that?

I listen to lessons often when I am doing chores.

The contest being added to this is icing on the cake. Take the class and do the assignments you would do anyway but then enter your work by March 22nd and maybe win some cash or…OMG! Co-author a book with James FREAKING Patterson. Most contests have an entry fee and they sure don’t come with 22 lessons and three HOURS of instruction from the world’s top-selling author.

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Anyway, there you have it. Since the deadline is SO close, it will be a lot of work to do this, but that’s part of going pro. Learning that sometimes opportunity requires us to hustle.

I wish everyone sudden writer’s block the best of luck!

Even if this class is not your thing, please take to heart what I said. Conferences, classes and consulting can be complete game-changers. Invest in yourself. Invest in your future and your dream?

Put a ring on it 😉 .

What are your thoughts? No Patterson bashing. I get he is not everyone’s cup of tea, but not all of us are aspiring to write for a Pulitzer. Are you guilty of not committing to your dream, just kinda dating it? Are you bad about putting money into becoming better? Maybe you feel silly or selfish? Have you put money into a class or a conference and it very literally changed EVERYTHING?

I would love to hear your stories!

To prove it and show my love, for the month of MARCH, 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.

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

Also if Patterson’s classes are not a good fit? Check out my THREE NEW CLASSES 😀

Branding for Authors Learn how to create your own unique brand, a brand powerful enough to drive BOOK SALES.

Your Story in a Sentence–Crafting Your Log-Line Can you tell us what your story is about in ONE sentence? Anyone who is pitching an agent NEEDS THIS CLASS. First ten sign-ups get me shredding and fixing their log-line for FREE.

Speaking of FREE…

Making Money with FREE! This class is going to teach you when, where, how to use FREE as a larger strategy to MAKE MONEY. We should never give our work away unless it serves a greater professional goal. 

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Via meme on Pinterest

So many people say the same thing. “If I could only find the time…” Thing is, time isn’t down in the couch cushions hanging out with loose change, the TV remotes and stale Cherrios. Time isn’t hiding. Time is everywhere.

And THAT folks is the problem.

Time is everywhere and all around and so we tend to waste it. People who are successful have the same amount of time. Difference is? They use it better.

Monday, I gave Ten Ways to Go Pro and I happened to mention the writing sprints we do on W.A.N.A.Tribe (a Ning I created for writers). But, because I didn’t want to derail the point of Monday’s post, I didn’t exactly explain what precisely we DO on W.A.N.A.Tribe.

I created W.A.N.A.Tribe so that writers all over the world could connect and share and network. There are all kinds of tribes to join or even start. Even if a tribe hasn’t been particularly active, hop in and type something and it springs to life like a jar of sea monkeys 😀 .

Have questions about self-publishing? There is a tribe for that. Need feedback on romance? There is a tribe for that.

But the real strength of W.A.N.A.Tribe has been in our daily ritual of meeting and working together in the Main Room IM field at W.A.N.ATribe. They began as sprints for NaNoWriMo. In the beginning, the sprints were sheerly for word count and they were 30 minutes long. But, that was during NaNoWriMo and word count is the ONLY thing that matters in November.

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Thanksgiving? You mean Day They Announce the NaNo Winners Day?

But the hard truth all writers face is that word count and “writing” is only a small part of what we do. At W.A.N.A.Tribe, the sprinters and I realized that about a week into December…namely because we all had 50K or more that was probably a mess.

Welcome to The Blackout

So I created what we call BLACKOUTS. Tequila is optional.

We meet in the morning and chat for a couple minutes and then I set a timer for 40 minutes and we all go dark until I call TIME.

Then we have to report back what we accomplished. This can be word count, pages edited, or pages of research read. Report back that you almost finished a marketing plan, you emptied your e-mail and answered all business e-mail.

But the Blackout is still very different. Writers are people and we are people who do not own a cloning machine…

…but our laundry and dishes do.

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We use Blackouts for those things too.

I know I generally start writing at 4:30 a.m. I’m an early bird. Always have been. How my parents didn’t murder me as a child is still a mystery. I remember my mother forbidding me to get out of bed until the birds were awake. The second I heard one chirp! I was up and laying waste to the Cheerios waiting for the colored bars on the T.V. to change to Captain Kangaroo.

Yes, I am that old.

Anyway…

I do check in when I’m at my desk, so any super early birds? If y’all need to do a Blackout that does not involve losing consciousness back in your warm bed? I am there to help. This is to help those writers I KNOW cannot yet leave the day job, but who need that extra push in the morning.

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Since many times I have already been writing 2-3 hours by the time the Blackouts “officially” start (9:00 AM CST)? I usually use them for other things, including housework.

As I also mentioned last post, I consume an insane amount of audiobooks, but I do this while I do chores. While my body is getting out of the chair to move around? My brain gets a break from creating and switch to absorbing/refilling. Right now I am on my third book of the week—The Everything Store and The Age of Amazon.

Last week it was The 10X Rule (for the third time) and If You’re Not First, You’re Last and then finally, How to Win at the Sport of Business by Mark Cuban.

I did 75 loads of laundry while learning…a lot. There are all kinds of things I dread doing, but add in peer pressure?

Anyway, when I do a Blackout, my report back may look something like this:

Sorted all the laundry, got the washer and dryer going, folded two loads, listened to three chapters of a book while I did the dishes and then finally I emptied my e-mail.

I get WAY more accomplished when I have to focus. No more goofing off on Facebook, farting around on Twitter, or losing sense of time and place talking on the phone to my mom. I KNOW I am going to have at least ONE person I am going to have to face and if I just jacked around? Yeah…

Additionally I’ve noticed this type of activity attracts and keeps the hard-chargers. You want to be around authors who will push you to a higher level? Be around Maria Grace when she reports that over the Blackout, she wrote 1,400 words, started a newsletter, edited three chapters and cured cancer.

Trust me, your bar goes WAY higher.

Love you Spooky!

***We nicknamed her that because she gets so much done, well…it’s spooky.

Thus, in a Blackout, we get the energy and fun competition of a workplace environment, and there is the promise of a tad bit of chit-chat in between…by folks who WILL send in the flying monkeys if you don’t work your @$$ off.

A huge part of being successful as a writer is the ability to be self-disciplined and self-directed. Sure, I do fairly well at that on my own, but have been known to…SQUIRREL!

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Wanna ride bikes? Play Barbies? I have a cat.

Where was I?

Oh, yes. Blackouts have really helped me maintain balance, focus and generate crazy productivity. Most of us actually can get far more accomplished than we realize, we just need to hustle. I have used Blackouts to do writing and then switched and used them for spring cleaning. I’ve even used them for a power nap. If I say I am going to rest for the next 40, I better do it (not clean up Hot Wheels in the living room).

If you join our group? Trust me. People are going to start asking questions if we don’t show. Meaning my attendance is usually pretty good unless I have appointments that have taken me out of my office.

I generally don’t do Blackouts in the evenings because I have jujitsu….or have blacked out literally from working all day. But any of you crazy cats who wanna give it a spin? We welcome you to join us!

What are your thoughts? Like me, are you decent do you suck at being self-disciplined but accountability makes it way easier? Do you feel you produce more with focus? Do you think you waste too much time? Are you struggling to get traction?

What are your thoughts?

Before we go, I’d like to mention again the new class I am offering!

How and WHY are we using FREE!?

Making Money with FREE! As a bonus for this class, my friend Jack Patterson who’s so far sold over 150,000 books to come and teach us how to ROCK the newsletter. Sign up before March 7th for $20 off. This is in excess of two hours of training and the recording (as always) comes with purchase.

Anyway, I really DO love hearing from you!

To prove it and show my love, for the month of MARCH, 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.

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