Recently, I was cleaning out my email in-box and ran across contest entries, emails, and queries that I sent, way back when the world was good and pure, and the possibilities for becoming an author were endless. One thing became super clear: I didn’t have a single clue what I was doing.
Now? Still learning, but I do have a better grasp on what I am supposed to be doing and what seems to work in my little nook of the universe.
#1) Time management = everything. Especially for those of us working full-time jobs. A day or a week off is GOLD. Give me a few post-it sheets for my to-do list and I will set the world on fire. (Not literally. That would be super bad.)
#2) Let editors know your time frames. Because of my weird work schedule, I am on call for 7-10 days at a time. During that time, my writing brain pretty much shuts down and I live in on-call doctor mode. It’s not in anyone’s best interest for me to have deadlines or interviews or projects due during that period. I do my best to let folks know this information in advance, or will try to pre-emptively complete projects early when I know these blocks are coming. I’ve been caught out a few times where I didn’t give enough lead-time on my time limitations. Like many professional areas, I need to work more on time transparency.
#3) Marketing still kind of stinks. There’s no magic bullet. There’s no one thing to do that will make a book visible. And social media will eat up all of my time, if I’m not careful. Over time, I’ve cultivated some marketing sites that seem to work for me. For right now. Things change constantly.
It’s been 12 years since I wrote that first (awful) manuscript. Wow. Looking back, it’s clear I had no clue about publishing, and very little clue about writing. That’s not to say I didn’t >think< I knew a lot! Ugh.
Here’s a mishmash of what I’ve learned. Maybe it will help other writers or writers-to-be. Hopefully it will keep others from making the same mistakes that I’ve made.
Image via despair.com
#1) Overnight success isn’t overnight. Marketing/social media makes it appear like it’s overnight. Rarely is this true. I don’t know if I can claim the robust definition of “success” yet, but I wrote my first book in 2005. My first published book (which was NOT my first book written, BTW), was printed in 2015. That was a goal achieved, even if a small one.
#2) If you’re going to be clueless, at least be pleasant. I didn’t know beans about publishing and etiquette, and thus I kind of Mr. Magoo’d into asking for something. And got it. (Stars and planets had to have aligned that day. No other explanation.) That conversation could have gone either way, and frankly, I got lucky.
Recently, I responded to a series of colleague’s tweets regarding the way an intern was treated. https://twitter.com/CadenceDO/status/823300940895842311 The intern was part of a team that cared for a young adult in the ICU, and they had to withdraw life support. (I know nothing of the situation, but withdrawing life support generally occurs when brain activity is not present.) So, one of the most gut-wrenching events to experience not only for the family members, of course, but also for the medical personnel caring for the patient.
The tweet story went on to explain that once care had finished, the intern asked to step away for a few moments in private and collect himself. (Or herself. Interesting side question: would this story play differently if the intern were male or female?) The intern was then given a negative evaluation comment by the attending physician because the intern displayed emotions.
Because there are times when when I get drained and need to recover, this story generated a ton of thoughts and concerns.
#1) Are there instructors out there teaching our medical students/residents to “not feel”? Let me be clear: if medical professionals lose their humanity, then health care is no better than being treated by a robot. Quite frankly, I don’t want to be treated by people who have zero emotional response if I live or die. And also, I don’t want to BE a treating physician who has no emotional response to my patients’ situations.
#2) Let’s talk burnout. There is a direct correlation with suppressing emotional distress/stress and the development of burnout. There are papers upon papers written on this subject. People have developed freakin’ CURRICULUM about how to “talk through” these stressful times with peers, family, or counselors. Training a doctor to suppress the very thing that makes them human? Cruel. Destructive.
Okay, roll up the sleeves, it’s year two of the judging adventures for RWA’s 2017 RITA awards! Cannot wait for my packet of books to arrive. It’s really like Christmas! I talked about my first experience of judging RWA around this time last year and how, well, not super duper qualified I was to judge the contest.
So, from that basement, there's nowhere to go but up this year! How am I going to up my scoring game for this year’s RITA’s? As I described in the March 2016 post, there’s really no consensus explanation of how to score or what the numbers really mean. What does a 6 mean? What does an 8 mean? Is Judge A's 9 the same thing as Judge B's? I don't know. I haven’t even tried to figure out decimals, and therefore, we will work on that later when I arbitrarily award decimal bonuses. Yeah. I said it. Decimal. Bonuses.
Every so often, I talk about how my writing life needs to remain separate from my professional/personal life. It’s not that I don’t want readers to know more about me. Quite the opposite. It’s that, well, for one thing, Big Brother in the workplace is kind of a thing these days. The particular Big Brother corporation I work with is a benevolent yet capricious and sometimes draconian organization, and I cannot be confident that the company would recognize the separation between work and writing.
Along those same lines, I’m not quite ready to share the writing work with all of my friends, family members, coworkers, and patients. The topics/scenes I delve into are quite dark and can be painful and graphic. Readers seem to dig it, and it’s cathartic for me to write this way. And frankly, I don’t know how to water stuff down. As one reviewer wrote, “(Jillian) sure knows how to write torture scenes.” And I’m proud of that fact that the words can make someone feel everything that’s happening to the characters.
With dry, winter weather comes dry, winter lips. Which makes me think of one of my favorite products: ChapStick.
Whoever came up with this stuff is a verifiable genius. Here’s why I love it. It’s possible that I have a medically definable diagnosis relative to this petroleum-based product.
#1) Fits in every single pocket of every single pair of pants I own.
#2) Stashes easily in purses and desks at work.
#3) Comes in different colors that all end up clear on your lips.
#4) Saves having to apply lipstick. Lipstick? Yuck.
#5) If I have ChapStick in my pocket, my stress level magically drops 10 points.
#6) Zipper stuck? Rub some ChapStick into it and the zipper will work again.
#7) Survivalists out there? Yeah, you can smear this stuff on any fabric and use it as fire started. (After swiping it one last time over your lips, of course.)
#8) Scuffed shoes? You can fix it with ChapStick. Yeah. I said it. Dab or rub the product on the shoes, then buff with a soft cloth. It’s not perfect, but it’ll do in a pinch. Note to self: do not use the ChapStick on your ips after using on the shoes, because....yuck.
#9) No sunscreen? No problem. Smear the product on your face. Gets you somewhere from 4-15 SPF, depending on the flavor.
#10) Stops bleeding. What? You bet. Of course, it won’t make a lick of difference if you’ve severed your femoral artery. No amount of ChapStick will solve that little conundrum. But if you have, say, a paper cut? Smear a little bit of amazing-ness on it and voila? No more bleeding and sealed from infection.
This blog post highlights a unique anthology slated for release in 2017 and spearheaded by Victoria Griffin. It involves stories regarding brain injuries/concussions. The anthology, “Flooded”, will contain selected works from authors who have experienced or observed brain injuries, or who have written about them in a way that makes the experience tangible to a reader.
As a physician, I see the devastating effects of brain injuries in my patients. From teenagers who are no longer allowed to play sports and who now have cognitive challenges, to adults whose brain injury has literally changed their personality, to veterans who have suffered TBI’s (traumatic brain injuries) and struggle to explain why they are disabled when they bear no visible scars – brain injuries can be complex to manage, long-lasting, and the effects can change from day to day.
One of the most profound concussion cases I witnessed was in medical school when an internal medicine physician in a rural practice had what anyone would think was a simple concussion. Dr. Smith (name changed) was pulling into his driveway, had his seatbelt off, and another vehicle hit the back of his car. He had a brief loss of consciousness and a headache.
Three months later, Dr. Smith still couldn’t function at anywhere close to previous work capacity. His short- and long-term memory suffered. He couldn’t recall patients he had cared for over the past 20 years!
What a great evening in Seattle for the Passport2Romance Reader Event put on by the Greater Seattle Romance Writers of America! Thanks to the organizers for putting together a fun and exciting evening.
And huge thanks to the readers for coming out in the storm (thank goodness it wasn't as bad as expected), to meet the authors. The free swag and amazing raffle baskets were off-the-charts awesome this year!
As promised, readers who signed up for my newsletter were entered in a drawing. They can choose to receive digital copies of my paranormal romance Hell to Pay series (all 4 books) or an advanced reader's copy of Legacy of Lies, the first book in my new western paranormal romance series! (You'll get the book a month ahead of release date!)
Originally I planned on picking 5 readers, but then decided on 10. Because I'm the author, that's why.
Ok, people. This month is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Otherwise known and "Save the Ta Ta's" month.
It's not simply about wearing pink, although that's cool and everything, no question. Pink rocks.
A few quick facts:
Breast cancer is the #1 cancer in women.
It KILLS over 40,000 women per year.
1 in 8 women will be affected by breast cancer.
And yes, fellas. Guys can get breast cancer, too.
What about a new study that questions the value of mammography? Look, here's what we know, and here's what the preponderance of research tells us: Mammograms save lives. Period. There's new data suggesting that we might be picking breast cancer up super early in the stage just prior to invasive breast cancer, and maybe this is "over-estimating" the cancer?
If it's there, why not fix it early? Who wants to take the chance and wait? Seriously.
Ok. We’re talking about fun stuff today. Like shopping.
Why? Because I’m in Seattle at the ECWC conference, and the hotel is right across from a big, beautiful mall.
So what, you say? Why the big deal about a mall, you might ask. Well, going to the Big City is a treat for those of us who live hours away from a Big Mall. And to find out there is a Big Department Store in the mall here? That’s me, totally verkelmpt over here. >fans self wildly<
But…there are things that make no sense in a mall.
#1) Why is there an extra large size in the petite section? Isn’t that an oxymoron?
#2) Why do they write on the bra tag “comfort underwire”? That’s also an oxymoron. Written by morons. Who don’t wear bras. Who are these people and where can I talk with them. Alone. In a small room.
#3) Why is there a chocolate store next to a sporting goods store?
#4) Why don’t they make bras that really fit how breasts go…like sideways. The tag needs an extra designation. Like “34D, laterally” or 38B, downward” so you know you’re getting the most accurate fit before going into the dressing room and acting like a monkey wrestler, trying to get those darn things on.
Author, daydreamer, and practitioner of trying very hard to duct tape folks together and help when I can.
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