Wednesday, January 7, 2015

How to have a Happy 2015!

Happy New Year, Insecure Writers Support Group!
Join us! Founded by Alex J. Cavanaugh

A new year is a time for a fresh start. It causes reflection on what has past and contemplation on what we can do to improve ourselves. I appreciate the thought of making resolutions - but I think they've become a trivial joke, empty, repetitive words without true intention behind them. I know I've wanted to lose weight for years now and I never seem to get that done! And when the holidays come around again, I'm disappointed in myself...

So here are my suggestions to take New Year's Resolutions to another level.

1. Be Shrewd - Evaluate your circumstances and prioritize. We are all in different places with many responsibilities. There's only so much we can do. If you can squeeze in some extra "you" time somewhere in your day - for working out or writing or whatever (maybe alternate days!) then that's awesome!

2. Be Definitive - Don't be vague with your goals. We all want to be in better shape, but saying, "I want to lose twenty pounds" isn't good enough. You need a strategy. Here are my "live healthier" goals for this year:
  • No snacks after 9pm (some people are taking the no junk food challenge for 21 days, more power to them!)
  • Eat at least 3 fruits/vegetables each day
  • At least one form of exercise each day (and I count housework - so win-win)
  • Walk dog at least once a week
That last one will be a real challenge. I do not like getting out in the cold. And I have so many other things I need to do. But we both need the exercise!

3. Be Flexible - You never know when someone will get injured, or sick, or lose a job, or lose a loved one, or have some life-changing event occur. These types of things take precedence and our resolutions become very insignificant in comparison. And that's okay. We can come back and re-evaluate them later. Take care of the important stuff first.

4. Be Positive - Focus on the things you accomplish, even if they aren't "on the list" - you did it! And if you need some support, use social media - we're listening and we're happy for you!

5. Be Content with yourself! Set reasonable goals and expectations. We all make mistakes, we all grow older, and we all have to keep going. This is me, take it or leave it!

And now, I have some more great insights for writers from Stephanie Faris! This guest post is part of her blog tour celebrating the release of 25 ROSES - a super fun middle grade book.

Should Writers Follow Trends…or Follow Our Hearts?
By Stephanie Faris

In case the overabundance of dystopian films at theaters has you fooled, dystopia is out. So are vampires. But there is good news for John Green fans. Illness books are the thing.

For now, anyway.

Having been a fiction writer for almost half of my life, I’ve learned one important lesson: by the time something is a hit, it’s usually already too late. I was one of the authors, after all, who noticed the ghost-hunting craze in the mid-00s and crafted a revolutionary series about tween ghost hunters. Unfortunately, I watched as the book went from, “Great idea but not quite what we’re looking for” to, “We’ve published too many other books like this lately.”

In other words, the publishing process is as slow as molasses (as we say in the South). If you’re playing to a trend, chances are that trend will be dead by the time you land an agent and go through the submission process. It might even be dead by the time the manuscript makes its way through the U.S. postal system.

So what’s an author to do? The key is to predict what’s next. But that’s far easier said than done. In YA, obviously we’re going to see piles of books about terminal illnesses before the industry decides the market is now oversaturated. For children, novels-in-cartoons (Diary of a Wimpy Kid) see to have become a hit genre of their own, while bullying is among the most popular themes in children’s literature. And the dystopian trend has created a demand for tough-girl novels for young readers.

It seems the trends destined to burn out the quickest are those trends that become phenomenal successes. The Fault in Our Stars is a great example of that. Once hundreds of books hit the market, along with a half dozen or so hit movies, readers will begin to demand something different—just as they sought an alternative to the Hunger Games and Twilight takeovers of a few years ago.

When I first started writing, paranormal was fairly unpopular—especially vampire books (unless you were Anne Rice.) Interestingly, the authors I knew who insisted on writing paranormal books when editors and agents wouldn’t touched them were the same ones who thrived when the field suddenly took off. Why? They were ready, polished manuscript in hand, when agents and editors finally decided they were ready to see paranormal work.

Unless you’re psychic, though, you’ll never know what the next big trend will be. So pay attention to trends but stay true to your heart. And maybe keep that unwanted manuscript tucked safely away in case someday that genre suddenly takes off.

by Stephanie Faris

Mia moves from the shadows to the spotlight when her matchmaking plans go awry in this contemporary M!X novel from the author of 30 Days of No Gossip.

Mia is used to feeling overlooked: her perfect older sister gets all the attention at home, and the popular clique at school are basically experts at ignoring her. So when it’s time for the annual Student Council chocolate rose sale, Mia is prepared to feel even worse. Because even though anyone can buy and send roses to their crushes and friends, the same (popular) people always end up with roses while everyone else gets left out.

Except a twist of fate puts Mia in charge of selling the roses this year—and that means things are going to change. With a little creativity, Mia makes sure the kids who usually leave empty-handed suddenly find themselves the object of someone’s affection. But her scheme starts to unravel when she realizes that being a secret matchmaker isn’t easy—and neither is being in the spotlight. 

Stephanie Faris knew she wanted to be an author from a very young age. In fact, her mother often told her to stop reading so much and go outside and play with the other kids. After graduating from Middle Tennessee State University with a Bachelor of Science in broadcast journalism, she somehow found herself working in information technology. But she never stopped writing.

Stephanie is the author of 30 Days of No Gossip and 25 Roses, both with Aladdin M!x. When she isn’t crafting fiction, she writes for a variety of online websites on the topics of business, technology, and her favorite subject of all—fashion. She lives in Nashville with her husband, a sales executive.

Here are Stephanie's links and a fabulous giveaway!

Website -- Blog -- Facebook

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I love being able to help others by announcing their accomplishments! If you have a release or reveal this year, drop me an email and I'll see what I can do. I like to have an interesting post to go along with announcements, so keep that in mind!


Lastly, CHRONOLOGY just came out! It's a compilation of fun and thrilling stories put out by Curiosity Quills. If anyone would like to read and review it, let me know in the comments. My contribution is The Comeback: A zombie love story - Death won't keep them apart!

Oh, and I just put out my latest newsletter with info on where I'll be and what I'm up to. I'm still deciding how I want to distribute it...

What's in the fryer for you? Did you have a nice holiday?
Any resolutions?


Suzanne Furness said...

It seems like a sensible approach to me, Tara. Putting too much pressure on ourselves with resolutions is surely going to lead to failure. Every little bit helps as they say. Good luck and a very Happy New Year to you.

Congrats to Stephanie too, loved reading the post on following trends.

Michelle Wallace said...

Congrats to Stephanie. An interesting post on following trends...
Due to the constantly changing nature of the industry, it makes sense to stay true to your heart!

I've never been a person who does the New Year resolution thinggie.
I think step-by-step, with small, reasonable and achievable goals, is the way to go. But that's just me.
Happy IWSG Day, Tara!
Writer In Transit
January IWSG co-hostess.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Excellent and definitive goals, Tyra. And congratulations on the short story.
Stephanie, I've never written for a trend. In fact, everything I read while writing my first book said science fiction was dead. I wrote it anyway. And a year after its release, it hit the best seller charts. It's all in the timing, and we often don't know what that is.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Being positive is one of the best things you can do.

Trends come and go and you have to catch them before they become a trend. 10 years ago, there was no New Adult. My series was classified YA, but now, they would be NA.

Stephanie Faris said...

Thank you so much for hosting me! I have the "lose weight" resolution but mine is just to keep a food's day three (I started Monday) and I've kept up with it every day.

Alex's comment reminded me of all of the paranormal writers in my romance group in the 90s. Editors clearly said vampires were OUT, yet these ladies insisted on writing it. I always puzzled over that. Sure enough, the genre exploded and one local vampire author became a New York Times bestselling author. (Sherrilyn Kenyon) She was right there, already publishing vampire books, when the trend took off so instead of a follower, she was a leader. If you can be THERE when it happens, you're golden.

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

I like to set smaller goals and/or re-evaluate any bigger ones every three months or so. It helps me see where I'm going, what I still need to do, etc. And we definitely need to recognize all of our successes, whether we set out to achieve them or not. :)

Joss said...

Losing weight is one of my goals this year. I tend to set myself a lot of goals in the hope that I will at least achieve one. Last year I was very proud as I planned to just cut back on my smoking and quit all together. I like how you have laid things out and found the post about following trends very interesting. :)

Yolanda Renee said...

I think resolutions are personal, a joke to head off the possibility failure, but really personal for the folks who take it so. I love the positiveness of a New Year, a new beginning. It's all good! Start over with new hope!

Beth Ellyn Summer said...

great post, Tara! My goals are basically to write every day, but go easier on myself at the same time. And great post, Stephanie! Trends are crazy...I tend to write timely, trendy stuff rather than the timeless things, so I worry about it sometimes, but at the end of the day we have to stay true! :)

Krista McLaughlin said...

Those are some great things to remember this year! I love that we all need to be flexible and positive. It's hard, but it will does make a difference.

One of my things to remember this year is to be silly every day! To do something to make someone laugh and to brighten their day. :)

Anonymous said...

I'm with Alex on trends--just can't worry about them. I write what bubbles up and see if it has wings. I think, though, YA may require the approach you're discussing because of the readers? Is that true?

Carrie-Anne said...

I don't understand writers who write for trends, instead of being motivated by a real love of a genre or subgenre. As a name nerd, it rather reminds me of people who insist they always loved a name that's now extremely oversaturated and wasn't even in existence or on most people's radar 20+ years ago. What are the odds you only love that name or want to write about that topic because it's really hot right now, and wouldn't have thought of it otherwise?

Crystal Collier said...

First off, great thoughts about goals. Definitely right on. I'm working on those too...or at least getting my legs back under me after a move, a pregnancy, a trip, a major family event and the holidays. 2014 was epic.

Stephanie!!! Awesome thoughts, and too true. You just have to write what your heart loves and hit the market when it's hot...or self publish. ;)

And lastly, Tara, I totally love reviewing books. Send it my way along with the locations or links to review places and I'll get to it. (I usually post to Amazon, Goodreads, B&N and Librarything.)

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I need to be a little more shrewd and get those priorities in line.

Sarah Foster said...

Great tips, Tara! I'm trying to get into good habits, eating more fruits and veggies and whatnot. I like the idea of not being vague with your goals.

Christine Rains said...

Awesome tips, Tara. I'm definitely trying to be more realistic this year. I still need to keep a few hours of sleep in my schedule after all! :)

Great guest post. It's difficult trying to predict trends. Just write what you love. A good story is a good story. :)

Southpaw HR Sinclair said...

You are right about setting up ways to achieve those goals. I'm working on that now.

(PS did you know captcha is on?)

Emma Adams said...

Those are some great tips for setting goals. I'm always wary about setting resolutions I can't actually control (especially publishing-related). It's best to focus on what's under our control!

Great guest post, too!

Suzanne Sapsed said...

Really good tips for goal setting - I have really broken mine down this year,most are do-able, and some are easy. That way I will still feel I've accomplished a lot if I don't manage them all :)x

Michael Di Gesu said...

Hi, Tara,

Happy 2015!

Thanks for featuring Stephanie today... She is so right. Trends are hard to keep up and who knows what the next big one will be. That's why we must write what we enjoy and hopefully there will be an audience to appreciate it....

Juneta Key said...

I enjoyed your post. I think putting pressure on myself is one of my biggest hangups. I am working on that trying to find a balance that will 'set me free' I guess. I hope you have a great and prosperous year.
Juneta at Writer's Gambit

Diane Burton said...

Great list, Tara. Being flexible is at the top of my list. :) Best wishes.

Heather M. Gardner said...

Happy New Year, Tara!

Excellent points! I don't bother with the resolution thing.

Congrats Stephanie and best of luck.


Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Tara .. being shrewd is a wise thought ... and just going with your heart, but aware of what's going on in the publishing world ... attract your first audience and move on spreading gems as you go.

No resolution for me - but we do need to get to our goals and finish them ... congratulations and good luck to you both - cheers Hilary

Nicki Elson said...

Hey, my duaghter's name is Mia!

I wonder how self publishing will affect the whole trend thing. Authors are no longer at the mercy of what agents & publishers are willing to bet on so it means we'll have more variety out there BUT will readers still flock to trends? So far they sure are.

Thanks for the sensible resolution guides, Tara. #4 is the big one for me this year -- as in I'm going to stay away from those people and things that tend to bring out the evil in me.

Emily R. King said...

Be shrewd--I love it! I need to work on that too. Here's to achieving your goals in 2015, Tara!

Anonymous said...

Hi, Tara. Great tips! I've stopped making resolutions as the same things seemed to make their way to my lists in the past.

CONGRATS to Stephanie!

I'd be happy to do a review of CHRONOLOGY, if you'd like.

Sheena-kay Graham said...

I wouldn't mind helping review Chronology. Steph has some good points. Trends are made to be broken. But Frozen has trended power super princesses/females yet a fellow author recently had a similar book picked up with ice power ab

Chrys Fey said...

I love your advice, Tara, especially to be flexible and be positive. We all have our bad days, sick days. And then there are the times when we just feel exhausted. We need to let ourselves off easy when these things happen. After all, we can't control everything.

As to trends...I don't follow them as a writer or even as reader most often. I write and read what I want to. I don't let what's popular at the moment sway me.

Cathrina Constantine said...

Great Advice and Great Post!!! Congrats to Stephanie!

LD Masterson said...

You've put together a good plan, something we could all use. Best of luck in 2015.

Rena said...

I love your guidelines. I may have to borrow them. And by borrow, I mean shamelessly copy them. I'm seeking a little more structure, but that's all part of finding the balance.

Julie Flanders said...

I especially love #5 on your list. I think I'm finally getting to that point.

Congrats to Stepanie! I've seen her all around this week.

Looking forward to seeing you again a week from today Tara! :)

cleemckenzie said...

All those goals make sense to me. I really thought your one about flexibility was perfect. So many times others need us and we must set aside the time to give them a hand.
Oh, and staying positive rings true with me, too. When I go negative, nothing seems to go right for me or anyone else I'm with.

I'll contact you about Chronology. I'm buried at the moment, but I'd like to help out some way.

DMS said...

It sounds like you have given a lot of thought to what you would like to accomplish in 2015. Your goals sound great and I love that you included be flexible! Good luck with all of your goals! :)

A Beer For The Shower said...

Great advice, especially Be Content. I'm all for reasonable goals. When people go overboard and make goals like "I'm going to lose 50 lbs!" or "I'm going to give up smoking cold turkey!" or "I'm going to give up junk food altogether!" it's almost always a recipe for disaster. Don't be afraid to take baby steps. Losing 10 lbs and sticking with it is better than setting a goal of 50 lbs, only losing 10, and then jumping off the wagon because "screw it, it's not working."

Elizabeth Seckman said...

Tara, you're the master of getting things done! And knuckle bumps on counting cleaning as exercise!

I think Stephanie is totally right. You have to sort of follow your heart and if you have something that fits a trend- email it in quickly!!

Tammy Theriault said...

My hubs wants me to be more flexible too. Haha. I love your ideas especially the first and second. Being clear and making time for you is super helpful! Hugs girlie!!!!!

Shah Wharton said...

My husband's a pilot and I'm a writer - flexibility is a must! :)

My dog would go crazy with only one walk a week... one hour-long walk/run a day is never enough for him. He is however a massive German Shepherd.

Happy 2015 - let it be incredible. X