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Sunday, October 15, 2017

How to List Right


Boise Community Education presents  my class Creating Creativity, a one hour class Tuesday October 17th at Timberline High School. Come and learn 5 easy, fast, and fun ways to kickstart your creativity. Sign up here: Creating Creativity.

Strange title, eh? No, I'm not talking about participating in some sort of strange walk competition. I'm talking about how creative people can use to-do lists as a useful tool to get creating.

Much of the time we creative folks fall into a few traps when making lists. This turns a tool for clearing your mind so it can focus on creating into a whip. A whip us creative types use for flogging ourselves, destroying our energy and creativity.

What are some things you can do to turn the whip of a list into a gentle prod, a discouraging thing into an encouraging one? How can you list right?

One: Make your lists before you start creating. This clears your mind.
Two: Set a time limit on your list. For a day to day list, don't include a month's worth of stuff. Or a year's worth of stuff. Or a lifetime. At most, have a couple of weeks.
Three: Recognize that everything takes longer than any of us would like. Remember that sometimes you have to sleep and eat and goof off . Work to expand the time it'll take to do the things on your list. For me, a rule of three times as long is often correct.
Four: Leave off your goals for your creative work. Listing how many pages you want to write, or how much you want to practice your musical instrument, or...you get the idea, turns the creative work into a job.

NOTE: If all of the above makes you crazed, about to scream at your computer, wanting to write me a nasty review/comment/letter/FB post, then...ignore it all. Maybe you're not one of those people who can not make, much less use, a list. Or: try just writing list-type stuff down to get it away from nibbling on your focus. Write in a notebook or keep it even less formal: scraps of paper. In a pinch, on your hand.

Remember: a list is only a tool, don't use it to beat yourself up! Use it to increase your creativity!


Wednesday, August 16, 2017

A Pratfall to Avoid When Writing Short and a BOOK FREE through Friday!

Write Short to Succeed Just Released in Audio! Read on for how to get a FREE EBOOK or AUDIO BOOK copy!

Much of the reason for my success in writing short stories comes from my avid reading of short stories. Recently, I've noticed a disturbing and major flaw in many of the short stories I read. 

They're too long. They're padded. This is bad for a novel and much worse for a short story. This happens most often in anthologies or collections from a number of authors.

I've wondered about why this might be occurring so often and come up with a possible explanation. In this era of eBooks, publishers of anthologies, whether they be traditional or authors in a collective, sometimes focus on word count of the individual stories to the detriment of the collection.

Now I've submitted and published in many anthologies over, um, a number of years. Since I'm now focused on several other writing projects, I don't submit as often as I used to. However, I still check anthology calls.

A number of them now have strict limits on words. No less than 3500 words is common.  In romance, often the short stories must be longer, no less than say 5000 or 6000 words.

Why? I believe it may be because the publishers are attempting to have a large number of pages. Because of eBooks, readers expect a lot of reading for their money. In order for a publisher to be able to set a good price for an eBook, there have to be quite a few pages. Or so many of the publishers seem to think.

I may be wrong in this, if so please mention it in the comments! Whether I'm wrong or right, there's an easy solution: have your stories the length they're meant to be. Resist the urge to pad to be able to submit. Realize that a satisfactory read is far better than one that slogs. Remember that a well written story will sell.

Now: FREEBIES! Today through this Friday Write Short to Succeed is FREE on Amazon!
AND: If you comment and give me your email address I will send you a code for a FREE download of the Write Short to Succeed from Audible. (Comments with addresses will not be published.)

ENJOY!



Tuesday, June 20, 2017

How to Fail Perfectly and FREE EBOOK!

Perfectionism is a sneaky, underhanded destroyer of creativity. A powerful energy suck.

Now, I can hear all you creative people out in Creative Land shouting: "I know all about the pitfalls of perfectionism! I've read the articles! I don't do that anymore. I'm perfect at not doing that anymore!"

Re-read my last exclamation. That's why I called perfectionism sneaky and underhanded. Even if we recognize how attempting to be perfect in any endeavor leads to frustration and failure, still we struggle. An example? I just rewrote the last sentence five times. In a first draft.

If you're an artist, do you find yourself starting a project over again before you finish? As a dancer do you find yourself practicing a step even after you know you're doing it "well enough" to move on? For a musician, do you get stuck on a piece?

And of course, for myself as an author, I rewrite and rewrite before I finish the draft.

Why? Why does this happen?

The simple answer: perfectionism sneaking in, that little monster.

For one simple reason: creative people want to be the best ever with their creations.

That's a good and powerful thing. That is to be commended. Celebrated. We work at our craft. We know we must try and try again to improve our craft.

Except. Except. Perfectionism rears its ugly, ugly head--as in, look, a cliche! In writers, it crawls in under the guise of the all-powerful editor.  "That's an awkward sentence..," the editor whispers.

So, what to do?

One trick: recognize and gently, gently escort the critic out of your mind. Recognize that the impulse to perfectionism is only the impulse to improve--gone a little wild. Accept the gift of the impulse without giving in to it.

When you catch yourself in perfectionism mode, work to not beat yourself up about it. Instead see the steps above and exercises below.

Exercises:

1. Keep a list of what sets you off into perfectionism. Jot down when it happens. Are you tired? Are you trying to force the work? Is it a new work? An old one you haven't been able to finish? Don't try to change/fix/judge the list as in "I'll finish the old work or die trying!" Just observe.

2. When perfectionism is whispering or even shouting, answer it, gently, with reasons. "Yes, that is an awkward sentence. They happen. I'm not perfect." And then move on.

3. OR: shout at it, argue with it, be totally ridiculous with it. "I love my awkward sentences! They're perfect!"

3. If the perfectionism blocks you completely, it's okay to let it win, for that moment. Switch projects. Go play on another project. Take a total break and walk away.

Now for some FREEBIE fun! Through Thursday, June 22, 2017, Mild West Mysteries: 13 Idaho Tales of Murder and Mayhem is FREE! Enjoy!
FREE now in eBook! Go here: Mild West Mysteries




Saturday, May 20, 2017

Create More, Succeed, Make Money Being Creative with NO Blame!

FOR GAIN, NO BLAME

This post is about a problem that has been bugging me for, well, forever. In this world of social media, it appears to be growing every day, a monstrous cancer destroying creativity.

Okay, maybe not that bad. Except...when we blame ourselves, it destroys our creativity. 

I'm not talking about refusing to take responsibility for our own personal stumbles as in "I drank too much today to create." Also, there are tons of helpful advice available  I'm talking about the insidious, continual "blame game" that some "experts" use to sell their books, podcasts, seminars, classes online and off, even life coaching.

The blame game goes like this (for writing, I'm sure it's similar for other types of creativity):
Your published writing isn't selling? Then you must be blamed because:
Your cover isn't good enough. (Buy this and we'll show you how to have a great cover!)
Your content isn't good enough. (Let us show you how, buy this!)
Your social media marketing isn't good enough. (buy...) 
To be more specific:
You don't have a good enough website. (On sale now! How to have a great website!)
You don't have a good enough email list. (Buy now! Learn how to have a great email list!)
You don't have a platform. (Pay here!)
You don't have a brand.
You're not tweeting enough.
You're not posting enough on Facebook.
You're not doing enough ads on social-media-site.
You're not posting enough and/or posting correctly on your website.
And one more example: You're not posting on your blog enough!
Or even the dreaded shoulds:
You should be only traditionally published.
You should be only self-published.
You should be a hybrid author.

Then there's the more insidious blaming:
You have to do the newest online-whatever right now to sell, whatever it is.
You have to spend a certain amount of time every day selling.
You have to not spend too much time selling. Instead spend your time creating more and more, as quickly as possible. Make sure your creations are fabulous. 
You have to be exactly like the successful people that are used as examples. 

Can you feel your will to create evaporating? Depression setting in? Blaming sucks the life energy out of our creativity. 

Add to all of this one DIRTY ENORMOUS SECRET:
Most creative people are not successful at selling their creations. 
Most books don't sell. Most actors don't have a big career. Most artists never sell their paintings/sculptures/art. Most bands never make it big. It doesn't matter if you're a jewelry designer or a singer or a clay-embedded-fingernails potter, chances are you won't "make it big and make tons of money." 

Does this mean never take a class or read a book about selling your work? No, of course not! Many books, videos, podcasts, classes, etc. are very useful for tips and ways to sell. Ideas that may save you time and money. My only caveat: avoid blame! Realize and remember that you are doing the work. If you're not...give yourself a break. You're only human. 

Make your creative life a no-blame zone and discover energy, time and inspiration!












Friday, January 6, 2017

Mild West Mysteries on SALE 3 days only! .99! Audio out too! And a GF, dairy free, egg free easy recipe!


In honor of the release of the audio book version of Mild West Mysteries, the eBook version is on sale, only .99, through January 8th!

Woot! Now Mild West Mysteries is out in all formats! Enjoy!

And here are some cookies to munch on while you read/listen to Mild West Mysteries. These are gluten, dairy and egg free!

EASY QUICK CAKE COOKIES (mildly sweet and nutty)
Ingredients:

1 cup cashew, almond or peanut butter
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup oatmeal flour + 1/2 cup oatmeal flour
1/4 cup potato starch
3 teaspoons Xanthum gum
1 tablespoon vanilla
2 tablespoons Vegan Egg in 1/3 cup cold water
Nutmeg and/or cinnamon to sprinkle on top

Directions: 
Place rack in center of oven. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix flour, potato starch, sugar and Xanthum gum together. Add liquids and stir well. Dough will be stiff. Roll into balls and press on cookie sheet until 1 to 1/2 inch depth. Sprinkle with nutmeg and/or cinnamon. Bake 15 to 20 minutes depending on thickness of cookies (thinner cookies will be crunchier, thicker more cake like). Flip cookies half way through baking. Cookies should be lightly brown both sides.

Again, enjoy! And pick up your on sale copy of Mild West Mysteries, just .99 through January 8th.





Friday, December 23, 2016

Sweet Hints for How to Bake GF, egg and diary free and a dessert cookbook to try the hints on!

For only .99 you'll get The Mall Fairies Sweet Tooth Cookbook, full of fun fairy tales and delicious dessert recipes!

Like many other people, I've developed a few food sensitivities over the years. Not full blown allergies, still I feel better when I avoid eggs, gluten and dairy. This turned out to be quite a challenge to make baked goods. At least until I began to use these tips! 

Do these tips make baked goods identical to those made with traditional ingredients? No. It does make edible and delicious baked goods. But a different consistency, usually a bit denser and more moist than regular baked goods. If you use real eggs, that will help with a fluffier consistency. However, I've gotten used to and now prefer the gluten free, egg free and dairy free.

Tips:

Use high protein, high fiber flours. Oatmeal, garbanzo bean or other bean, sweet sorghum and teff are a few examples. Rice and coconut can be used, but these are drier flours with little fiber, so can make the baked goods tough or crumbly and very dry if used alone.

Use more than one flour for a recipe, preferably at least three. I always use four different flours.

Double the amount of baking powder or baking soda used in the recipe.

Always use both baking powder and baking soda in every recipe. Double the amounts as above.

Add a tablespoon or two of potato starch to the flour mix.

Add 1 and 1/2 to two times the amount of liquid to the flour mix. If the result is a sweet, use "liquid" that has a lot of fiber. I often use applesauce or liquefied bananas instead of a milk substitute. I even use applesauce when making cornbread and then don't add sugar.

Always add a generous amount of oil to the flour mix. I usually add a scant 1/4 cup of canola oil or melted coconut oil. Olive oil has too strong of a taste for most things.

For egg replacement I use EnerG Egg Replacer or VeganEgg, sometimes both! Both need to be dissolved in liquid. EnerG I dissolve in the applesauce. VeganEgg I use less water for baking, as they suggest.

Let the mix set for five minutes.

Finally, bake for longer in a lower temperature oven. I bake most recipes 15 to 20 minutes at 325 to 350 degrees.

Now give these tips a try and tell me what happens!



Thursday, December 15, 2016

Christmas Romance Audio Novella Giveaway! Free! While supplies last!

Some of this year's Christmas Decorations

To get you off in a festive mood, here's a gift to get you into the holiday spirit. While supplies last you can have a code for an audio book download of A Crispy Rice Christmas FREE.


Fun, clean Christmas romance! A Crispy Rice Christmas!

This will be a download from Audible, the audio book arm of Amazon. You will have to go onto Audible.com and sign in (no membership required) to redeem. Yes, they'll send you a few emails asking you to become a member, those can be ignored. And yes, I would love an honest review IF you have time! But mostly I really loved writing this story and want to share the Christmas joy!

So COMMENT (with your email written out as in: name dot yahoo dot com and I won't publish your comment either) for your free audio book!

MERRY CHRISTMAS!