I Built a Mountain

I Built a Mountain

I built a mountain. When I reached the top of that mountain, I found I was afraid of heights. I slipped, tumbled head over heels until I crashed at the bottom. My leg was broken, but not my spirit. I bided my time mountainuntil that leg healed, yet I waited, and waited longer.

“It’s too cold to climb today,” I’d say to myself. “It’s too windy. The clouds are in the way. The sun is in my eyes.”

That was the moment I realized my subconscious mind had taken over. Was it fear of failure? Fear of success? Whatever it was, it kept pushing me further from my goals.

Back to Reality

Since I began this dream called writing, I’ve shared my successes, my losses, my arguments, laughs, and even some life stories. The past year has been a great lesson for me, or anyone chasing their dreams.

I worked so hard to make it to the top, and I reached further than I’d thought possible, yet I crashed. I worked too hard, I burned myself out. I kept forging ahead yet something nagged at the back of my mind, telling me to listen. I continued ignoring this incessant voice, much to my detriment.

That voice was telling me something wasn’t right, something wasn’t working the way it was supposed to. Now a year or so later, I found that the voice was more my body than anything else. It told me I was driving too hard, and I was.

The Crash

Just before Christmas of 2012, me and an amazing group of self-published authors got together for the biggest promotion of my career and it worked wonderfully. The next month I sold more books than I had the entire first year since my book had been released. Yet I barely enjoyed it. My body was shutting down in multiple ways.

I’d be sick one way, then sick another, etc. Only now have those sicknesses seemed to have slowed. Notice I didn’t say stop. In the last two months, I’ve had a “cold” for six weeks out of those eight. If you’d told me it was possible to have a cold that long, I wouldn’t have believed you before this.

The Rise

I’ve shared about my being sick in the past, and I’m doing so again today to point something out.

climberA person doesn’t succeed because they never fall. They succeed because they never stop getting up.

I’m sure I’ve read that somewhere before, but it’s so true. This blog post is me getting up. More like stumbling, rolling around in the dirt, and then getting up, but I’ll make it eventually.

If you have a dream, don’t stop chasing it. Even when life, sickness, or anything else gets in your way, get back out there and continue the chase. “But it’s been years,” you might say. So what! Do it anyway!

My sales have fallen to where they were when I put my first book out and it’s almost summer. This is the worst time to start back up, but I’m afraid if I don’t do it now I’ll continue finding reasons to stay down.

Where Do I Begin?

That’s been the question on my mind for months. With the 2k plus eMails? Responding to the comments on my blog? The hundreds of Facebook messages? Or how about transferring my blog the rest of the way to a different server?

I could just start writing again, which would probably be the best idea, yet even with all this fear, or aversion, to social media, I do miss everybody.

I’m starting here, where it all began. I will be back to the writing machine I once was, though maybe not the social media star (kind of).

How about you? Have you ever fallen so far you didn’t know whether you’d ever get back up again? In reality or figuratively speaking? If so, what was it that made you get back up? Or are you still down?

Let us know and maybe me or somebody else following Diapers, Bookmarks, and Pipe Dreams can give us some advice.

Balancing Writing and Managing a Family – Guest Post by M.J. Kane

I’d like to welcome Amazon bestselling author, M. J. Kane, to Diapers, Bookmarks, and Pipe Dreams. She’s an author and social media friend with a story similar to my own. She’s here to discuss balancing writing and managing a family while writing an Amazon bestselling book.

Stay tuned and check out the cover art and a blurb below from her bestseller, A Heart Not easily Broken!

M. J. Kane – Author of A Heart Not Easily Broken

Author Pic 5.2012 M. J. KaneBalance… what the heck is that???

I understand the concept, but have never fully managed to make it work for long. Sad, right? And that was before deciding to write! Sometimes I have to ask myself…what the heck was I thinking???

Not only am I a wife, and mother, I am also a newly published author and leader of a local writer’s group. I try to help out at my kid’s school when I can, and assist my husband in his business related pursuits. Somewhere in there I manage to write full-time. But it honestly would never have happened if it wasn’t for my family’s full support.

For example, as I write this blog, my family has already eaten, thanks to pork steak that has cooked in the Crock Pot since last night, (per my hubby’s suggestion to save myself some time), rice went in the rice cooker when I got home from picking kids up from school, and now my sons are cleaning the kitchen.

Yep, that’s right; THEY are cleaning up, not me. With a house full, (7 people plus 2 dogs), everyone has a roll. My kids, ages 17-10, all have chores on a daily bases. My job is to oversee the ‘little things’, mopping, sweeping, cleaning the bathroom, kitchen, feeding the dogs, bedrooms clean, etc. I handle the major things, grocery shopping, bill management, you know the drill right? My hubby steps in and sets things straight when they go astray… such as me focusing so much on writing or promotions that I overlook the kids getting away with not doing chores, lol.

Over the course of the summer, we got the kids used to the idea of ‘fending for yourselves’, otherwise known as, ‘Mom’s not cooking.’ In the beginning the kids loved the idea! They got to almost eat whatever they wanted (out of the designated food items put on the grocery list) three nights a week. After a month, nobody wanted to cook for themselves. LOL…Oh well….

Now that my first book has been published and mom is an Amazon Bestseller in several categories, my schedule has gotten even more hectic! More time spent online promoting, networking, chatting with fans, editing, blogging (I have two blogs!)…and that’s just for M.J. Kane. I am not even going to list the personal stuff….let’s just say I often pass out from exhaustion around midnight and get back up by 6:30, even on the weekend.

But you know what, after the four years it took to take my ‘hobby’ and turn it into a professional career; I wouldn’t trade it for a thing!

Check out my book and find me online. Let’s chat!

MJ

More About Author M. J. Kane

M.J. Kane stumbled into writing. An avid reader, this stay at home mom never lost the overactive imagination of an only child. As an adult she made up stories, though never shared them, to keep herself entertained. It wasn’t until surviving a traumatic medical incident in 2006 that she found a reason to let the characters inhabiting her imagination free. Upon the suggestion of her husband, she commandeered his laptop and allowed the characters to take life. It was that, or look over her shoulder for men caring a purple strait jacket. And the rest, as they say, is history.

No longer a television addict, if M.J. isn’t reading a book by one of her favorite authors, she’s battling with her creative muse to balance writing and being a wife and mother. She resides in the suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia with her high school sweetheart, four wonderful children, and two pit bulls. MJ can often be found hanging out at the local library where she is director of a local writer’s group, or online connecting with readers and other authors. Other activities she enjoys include: creating custom floral arrangements, assisting her children in their creative pursuits of music and art, and supporting her husband’s music production business, 3D Sounds.

You can find MJ on social networking sites, sharing writing tips, talking about music, life, and family. She’s always excited to meet new people. Connect with her via the websites below.

Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads
This Writer’s Life Blog
The Butterfly Memoirs Blog
Google+
Linkedin
Email – thebutterflymemoirs(at)yahoo(dot)com

A Heart Not Easily Broken

A Heart Not Easily Broken by M. J. Kane FINAL COVER

Ebony is a smart, sexy, career-oriented black woman who wants nothing more than a summer fling with a man who challenges her mind and body. What she doesn’t expect is a blond haired, blue-eyed bass player—who won’t take “no” for an answer—to accept the challenge.

When Ebony’s attempt at a brief fling turns into more, despite negative reactions from friends and family, she finds juggling love, family, and career are nothing compared to the ultimate betrayal she endures. Now her dreams spiral into lies and secrets that threaten her future and her best friend’s trust.

Available now from 5 Prince Publishing!

eBook and print version available here on Amazon US, here on Amazon UK, or here at Barnes and Noble.

#ANA2012 – America’s Next Author Contest – I’m In!

America’s Next Author Contest (AKA #ANA2012)

America’s Next Author, or #ANA2012, is a short story writing contest hosted by eBookMall, a growing eBook retailer. I won’t go into too much detail here, but if you’re an author interested in joining, click here to go to the #ANA2012 FAQ page for more information.

You may have noticed that I’ve tweeted about the America’s Next Author Contest (AKA #ANA2012) and my short story entry, One Night in Jail, non-stop since Wednesday. I finally have the chance to sit down and talk more about it.

IF YOU’RE AN AVID READER!

There are rewards for the avid reader as well. If you contribute four reviews and/or ratings to the #ANA2012 contest, you’re entered to win a FREE iPad! The best part is they are all short stories between 2500 and 5000 words. It shouldn’t take long at all!

I admit I was tempted to review others at first just so I could enter this aspect of the contest, but I have a funny feeling they would frown upon that.

Oh, and if you’re worried many of the short story choices will be terrible, they read each entry before beginning the contest. They chose 181 finalists out of over 300 entries.

This is me after finding out they accepted my short story…

headstand for #ANA2012

Okay, not really, but you get the point.

America’s Next Author – #ANA2012

An interesting aspect in the #ANA2012 contest is that it’s based on multiple factors including social media. What this means is that every time an author’s page is tweeted, liked, shared on Facebook, or shared on LinkedIn, it contributes to that author’s final chance at winning.

The contest runs for eight weeks and each week will see a final contender. It starts new every seven days so if you haven’t entered yet, you’ll have seven more chances. They’re sure to emphasize that having a huge social media base isn’t the only way to win (though from what I’ve seen, it certainly helps).

At the end of the eight weeks, the “Jury” (as they’re called on the eBookMall site) chooses four more stories. The Jury then pits their four picks against the eight picks chosen earlier. I believe the fans vote again at this point to narrow it down to three winners. The Jury chooses the final winner.

What’s in it for the authors?

The obvious reward is the $5k dollars offered as the grand prize. Oh what I could do with an extra $5k… or any of us for that matter!

First place and second place both get $500, still some nice padding I’d appreciate in my wallet.

On top of this, the Jury is made up of publishing professionals. These professionals have contacts throughout the literary field that they may contact in case they truly love whomever they choose as winner.

I was ranked number four last night, but dropped down to number ten overall today. I’ve got to get in on that social media frenzy! Vote for me?

Worst Case Scenario

We all have a lot of fun, some lucky writerly types walk away with cash in their pocket, and the rest of us enjoy the publicity that came with the contest. I, for one, am having a blast.

I don’t write many short stories so this is a chance to showcase a comedic piece I posted on my blog awhile back (edited of course… kind of) named, One Night in Jail. For those of you who don’t remember the story, it’s based (loosely) on a true story.

If you get a chance, stop over to vote for America’s Next Author and help an indie or aspiring author out. If you’re bored, you can even start with One Night in Jail (approximately 2800 words) by clicking here.

As mentioned before, be sure to tweet, share, like, and do it again, because each one of those counts as a vote in some way! Also be sure to log in once a week and write reviews again to increase your chances with that iPad.

If you’re a reader, good luck with the iPad! If you’re a writer, good luck with the $5k!

Perspective – Why is it So Hard to Maintain?

We’re told to keep things in perspective, to maintain a positive attitude. Unless you’ve lived under a rock your whole life (and maybe even then), this is easier said than done. Let me share my experiences over the last three weeks and hopefully show you what I mean.

A Three Week Roll

Three weeks ago, my car broke down after breaking down twice last month. Let me assure you, our car isn’t a lemon. It’s worked wonderfully since we bought it and has saved us plenty of gas money. I’d call his a run of bad luck, if you believe in such things.

We fixed the vehicle (three weeks ago), drove it over the weekend, and it sputtered its way home on Tuesday. We took it back to the shop, easy fix, back on the road. Two days later, it broke down again. Three times in a two-week period.

Oh, did I mention one of the times it broke down I was on my way to the emergency room? Hanging out at the gas station with kidney stone pain isn’t as much fun as it sounds.

The kidney stone thing came out of nowhere. Well, kind of. I had one five years ago and the doctor told me if I didn’t have another within a year that I “probably” wouldn’t have one again. I set up an appointment with my urologist (yes, I have a urologist now) and asked him if he thought I’d have more after the current one. He said I already did. I asked him how many. His response was, “A lot.” Not a comfortable thought.

I spoke with a few people on Facebook about this already, but also about three weeks ago, I was lucky enough to break my foot in karate. Joining karate was a way to support my son who began around the same time. My primary concern was the shape I was in, or wasn’t in. Breaking a bone didn’t cross my mind. I’m just happy it wasn’t a bad break.

Back to the gas station with the broken car and a kidney stone. My father-in-law stopped in to help push the vehicle out of the way. Picture it. All 250 pounds of me hopping on one foot, shoving on our car, all the while cringing at the shards of oxalate and calcium poking my kidney’s innards.

Sound like fun yet?

Also during this three-week period, my next book was due with the editor. I miscalculated and set the date up probably a month before I should have. Between the trips to the car shop, the emergency room, and karate, I worked tirelessly on edits. Typically from around seven in the morning until two or three the next morning.

What else happened in this time frame?

My son had three doctor appointments (he’s fine, just some odd scheduling issues for regular check-ups), my daughter had one, my wife had her hair done, the Fourth of July came and went, I had a birthday, we celebrated my mother’s birthday, my daughter had the flu, then my wife had the flu for three days, we had a record heat wave (we searched two large cities for a second air conditioner), we had a visit from the police (about our neighbor’s dog), and to top it all off, my hand developed tendonitis in three places making it difficult to write or drive.

How about now? Excited? Yeah, I wasn’t either.

This is only the fun stuff. Remember we all have this thing called every day life to take care of. Spending time with the children, shopping, working, stress from other family member issues, karate practice, etc. Did I mention I run a blog and spend (too much) time on Twitter?

What’s This Have to do With Perspective?

At this point, you’re probably wondering what all this has to do with perspective. Either that or why I didn’t lock myself in a room for the last month. Let me tell you. It has EVERYTHING to do with perspective.

I could have complained, quit writing, taken a break from life, not accompanied my child to every karate practice, wondered why I was so unlucky, wondered why everybody else had an easier life than I did, and felt horribly sorry for myself.

Did I? No. Want to know why?

Perspective

1. Though I lost time with my children, my wife and her mother gained time. Every child could use more time with its mother and grandmother.

2. Though I broke my foot, it wasn’t a bad break. I’m already back at karate this week.

3. My broken foot will develop scar tissue, decreasing the likelihood it will happen again in the future.

4. We have health insurance. Yes, we still had to pay out the “you know what” (money I could have used for promotions!) but we could have paid much more.

5. Though I have some obvious health issues, none is life threatening.

6. Though I have kidney stones, I know this now and can adjust my lifestyle accordingly. Plus I had a nice conversation with my father-in-law on the way home from the gas station.

7. I finished a second book! Seriously, how awesome is that?

8. We eventually found that second air conditioner. Many people didn’t. The day we found ours, the store had sold 97 within an hour of opening and only had three left.

9. We learned that all of our car problems are related. A simple fix.

10. I bought a game for my birthday. A couple books as well.

11. My wife still loves me (I hope).

12. And most important, my family is happy and healthy.

So you see, amidst this crazy thing called life, there’s a bright side. Things can always be worse.

We can all keep this positive perspective if we try. Hiding in the corner and pretending everything is okay won’t work, but taking all these problems in stride and approaching them as you would any other issue will.

This is a great time to bring up my favorite writing quote from J. A. Konrath. He means it as a way to describe writing, but it pertains to life as well so I’ll put my own little spin on it.

“Life is a marathon, not a sprint.”

If you’ve read and enjoyed The Fall of Billy Hitchings or In Search of Nectar, be sure to sign up for the Kirkus MacGowan newsletter for future updates and giveaways. Click here to join.

10 Things To Do Before You Give Up On Your Dreams – Guest Post by Gideon Stevens

One thing you learn right away in the literary field is that a writer is a writer, is a writer, etc. Whether we write poetry, short stories, fiction or non, fantasy or thrillers, we have the same goals, aspirations, dreams, and troubles.

Today’s guest post is brought to you by Gideon Stevens, a Twitter pal of mine and author of Writing Non-Fiction: the Five Step Method. He discusses a thought that can cross a reader’s mind on any given day, giving up, and what we can do to prevent it.

Thanks for the guest post, Gideon! What’s the matter with plaid?

Are You Ready to Give Up?

give upWe’ve all been there, right? Nothing seems to be working, you’re not seeing any progress, and everyone, including you, has lost faith that you can do it. Maybe it’s time to give up.

Okay, maybe it is. Life isn’t always rainbows and unicorns. Maybe you’re going in the wrong direction. Maybe your dream is not realistic. Maybe you’ve changed your mind, or you now see clearly how much effort is required, and you’re not willing to make a sacrifice that large. That’s okay. You gave it a shot, and you’ve learned from the experience. Maybe it’s time to move on. I’ll bet those grapes were sour anyway.

Or maybe – just maybe – you’re having a bad day. Maybe you still want it as much as you ever did, and you’re just feeling hopeless right now. So before you give up:

 

Ten Things to do Before You Give Up On Your Dreams

 

1. Put the gun down.

I’m being dramatic, but I’m serious too. If things have gotten that bad – if you’ve written the note, loaded the bullet, and are about to give up on everything – please stop. Put the gun down. Call 911 now. No problem is ever solved by ending your life. I read once about the small handful of people who have jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge and survived. They all said pretty much the same thing:

“As I was falling, I realized that I did not have any problems that I could not solve, except for one – and that was that I had just jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge!”

On a far less serious note, perhaps the “gun” in question is the “delete” key. You’ve been working on your blog forever, and so far the only readers you have are your mom and your cat, and your mom stopped reading two weeks ago. Your finger hovers over the delete key. The thoughts going through your head are all negative. “I’ll never get more readers. No one is going to buy my book. I’m not good enough, smart enough, cute enough,” and so on.

When you’re being overwhelmed by negative thoughts, it is not a good time to make a decision, especially one that is irrevocable. Put the gun down. Turn the computer off. Walk away.

2. Have lunch.

Remember HALT. That stands for Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired. Ask yourself if you’re feeling one of those. Emotions are delicate things, and can be influenced by outside forces. Take a nap, and you may wake up with renewed determination.

3. Call someone.

Get on the phone with a friend. Tell them up front “I need your help. I’m feeling like this just isn’t ever going to work and I need you to be my cheerleader. Tell me I can do it. Tell me not to give up.” They will. You’ll feel better. They might even tell you something that will help.

4. Do something else for a while.

Look, you’re a smart person, and smart people crave novelty. You might just need a break. Don’t delete anything, just start something new. Work at that for a little while, then come back to your main project.

5. Reconsider the goal.

If you’re about to give up, maybe your goal is unrealistic. Shooting for the stars is wonderful, as long as you’re not overwhelmed. If you’re not seeing progress, try setting TINY goals. I want to sell ONE copy of my book. Reaching that goal, set the next goal: I want to sell another copy, this time to someone who is not a relative or friend. Setting a small goal can keep you going, and if you keep going long enough, one day you’ll look up and find that you’ve arrived.

6. Solve just one problem.

You want to sell a bazillion copies of your novel. So far you’ve sold ten. Time to give up? No, time to find out what the problem is. Maybe it’s marketing, maybe no one’s even heard of your book. Then solve that problem. Maybe the price is too high. Maybe it needs an editor. Find out what’s holding you back, then concentrate on getting past that one obstacle. Don’t worry, there’ll be another obstacle after that one.

Raise your hand if you’ve heard this: “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” One, two, three – okay, everybody. The part they leave out: a lot more steps have to follow that first one. Try to stand back and gain some perspective. Instead of looking at how far you have left to go and feeling hopeless, take a look at how far you’ve come and feel proud.

7. Take it one day at a time.

My reaction to this has always been: Is there another option? If I’m in a hurry, can I take it two days at a time? No, you can’t. You want a thousand followers on Twitter? You get them one at a time. Want to write a book? Page at a time. Almost every worthwhile accomplishment is incremental. Realize that you might be only ONE day away from the beginning of your success. All the work you’ve done so far might be about to pay off, but if you give up today, you’ll never know what happens tomorrow.

8. Start over.

Take what you’ve learned. Give up on THIS ATTEMPT. If you’re drawing a picture on a piece of paper, there’s only so many times you can erase a line before you rub a hole in the sheet. But that doesn’t mean you give up on drawing a picture. It means you tear that sheet off, crumple it, toss it in the basket (2 points if you make it), and you start over with a fresh sheet of paper. You will learn, you will get better. If you keep trying, you will either succeed or you will not. If you give up, you will not.

9. Look behind you.

See all those people who have not made it as far as you have. You are their hero. Look at what went right. It’s easy to get caught up on what’s not working the way you hoped. Your book isn’t selling? Okay, put that aside for a moment, and look at what went right.

You wrote a book. That puts you ahead of millions of people who want to write a book but never get it done. It got published. Hundreds of thousands of people who actually wrote a book never got it published, not even by themselves. Someone bought a copy. Thousands of people never sell a single copy. Forget about yourself for a moment, and help someone else. Maybe you haven’t made it yet, but you’ve made it THIS FAR. Lots of people look at you as a success. Help them get to where you are, and you will likely overcome your temporary angst.

10. Look in front of you.

See all those people who have made it further than you. Pick the most famous author you like. At some time, he or she was where you are now. Not published, no sales, whatever. How did they get from where you are to where they are? They kept going. It isn’t magic, they’re just people. Maybe they have more talent, but maybe not. Maybe they just never gave up. Take a look at Kirkus, for example. He’s bald, he’s kinda funny looking, he wears plaid shirts for crying out loud! If he can become a best-selling author, how hard can it be? (Ducks and runs for cover.)

11. (Bonus!) Finally, remember this advice given by Dr. John in 1974:

A Quitter Never Wins And A Winner Don’t Never Quit

give up
Learn more about Gideon Stevens by checking out his blog, Book Design and Composition where you can find great information about eBooks, marketing, and publishing. You can also find him here on Twitter, or on his Amazon author page here.

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