Monday, December 30, 2013

2014, You Will Be My Killer Year!


Yes, 2014, I'm talking to you! Can you hear me? You and I are going to kill it!  It's going to be Big, totally Ballin', completely Beautiful, and lots of other B-Words. 

2014 is my debut year as an author!
(and maybe the year I get a Boob job)
[see how I wrote this Boob part so small that it's less noticeable/controversial/outrageous]
And in honor of this climactic year, I would like to announce my theme: 
(yes, I have a theme) 

“Jessie With A Shot At the Night” 
*Based on The Killers song
 I’ve always been a dreamer. From a very early age I began setting goals to achieve my dreams. Some panned out (I made it to college by the beach) and some didn't (I never starred on my own Disney show called "Jessie"--someone else did that for me...15 years later!)

But here's the thing: Sometimes I get to feelin' like a washed-up dreamer, a mom-jeans-wearing nobody, a dime-a-dozen-two-bit lawyer, a carpooling hack, a burnt-dinner-wifey, a church-going-cut-out, a closed-garage-door-neighbor, and worse.

When what I really want to feel like is an artist with a bright future, a skinny-jeans-wearing somebody, a zealous advocate for good, a movin-and-shakin'-mama, a rockstar wifey, an impassioned believer, an opened-door-friend and...a girl with a shot at the night.

There are so many schools of thought when it comes to goal setting vs. new year resolutions vs. daily systems, etc. I recently read some very interesting information about unrealistic goalsApparently, setting an unreasonably large goal is an adrenaline infusion that provides the endurance to overcome the inevitable trials and tribulations that go along with any goal. I found this idea fascinating.
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5 ‘Easy’ Steps for Making Your Unrealistic Goal a Reality

iStock 000020646047XSmallWith the book tour just about wrapped up, it’s great to be sitting at my own desk in my own house writing a blog post again.
The tour has been amazing. So many roads, people, stories, hotels and cities, and so many delicious meals (especially once I hit the west coast). There are still a few events left, including Charlotte, Raleigh, and my hometown of Asheville this Thursday, but these and the remaining dates in Raleigh and Atlanta (maybe) are short drives away. The hard part — all 11,000 miles of it in my Hyundai Elantra — is over. The goal, achieved.
Yes, this self-supported book tour was like any other goal. It started as a speck of an idea that hit me on a run one day, a ridiculous and unrealistic idea. Then the day of intense, excited research to answer the “Is this possible?” question — knowing that no matter what the facts were, I’d somehow bend them into the shape of “Yes.” Finally, going public with it and creating the accountability. At which point it became real … then the rest was just details.
I’ve got plans for a book tour wrap-up post with photos, links, stories, maybe even a recording of my talk … but this is not that post.
My talk each night focused on three topics: running, the plant-based diet, and setting big freaking scary goals. Far more than the other two topics, the ones I thought were a safe bet, it was the talk of goals that people really cared about.
And so with this post I want to share, in a nutshell, what I said about goals while on tour. It’s exactly what I’ve done with just about every goal I’ve accomplished, from qualifying for Boston to the 100-miler to the book tour itself. The steps are obvious, I think, but important enough that they’re worth hearing from as many angles as you can.

1. Think really big.

If I may, an excerpt from Tim Ferriss’s 4-Hour Workweek, which perfectly sums up “thinking big”:
Ninety-nine percent of the people in the world are convinced they are incapable of achieving great things, so they aim for mediocre. The level of competition is thus fiercest for “realistic” goals, paradoxically making them the most time- and energy-consuming …
If you are insecure, guess what? The rest of the world is, too. Do not overestimate the competition and underestimate yourself. You are better than you think.
Unreasonable and unrealistic goals are easier to achieve for yet another reason. Having an unreasonably large goal is an adrenaline infusion that provides the endurance to overcome the inevitable trials and tribulations that go along with any goal. Realistic goals, goals restricted to the average ambition level, are uninspiring and will only fuel you through the first or second problem, at which point you throw in the towel. If the potential payoff is mediocre or average, so is your effort.
The fishing is best where the fewest go, and the collective insecurity of the world makes it easy for people to hit home runs while everyone else is aiming for base hits.
- See more at: http://www.nomeatathlete.com/big-goals-easy-steps/#sthash.9nO6IX7u.dpuf

5 ‘Easy’ Steps for Making Your Unrealistic Goal a Reality

iStock 000020646047XSmallWith the book tour just about wrapped up, it’s great to be sitting at my own desk in my own house writing a blog post again.
The tour has been amazing. So many roads, people, stories, hotels and cities, and so many delicious meals (especially once I hit the west coast). There are still a few events left, including Charlotte, Raleigh, and my hometown of Asheville this Thursday, but these and the remaining dates in Raleigh and Atlanta (maybe) are short drives away. The hard part — all 11,000 miles of it in my Hyundai Elantra — is over. The goal, achieved.
Yes, this self-supported book tour was like any other goal. It started as a speck of an idea that hit me on a run one day, a ridiculous and unrealistic idea. Then the day of intense, excited research to answer the “Is this possible?” question — knowing that no matter what the facts were, I’d somehow bend them into the shape of “Yes.” Finally, going public with it and creating the accountability. At which point it became real … then the rest was just details.
I’ve got plans for a book tour wrap-up post with photos, links, stories, maybe even a recording of my talk … but this is not that post.
My talk each night focused on three topics: running, the plant-based diet, and setting big freaking scary goals. Far more than the other two topics, the ones I thought were a safe bet, it was the talk of goals that people really cared about.
And so with this post I want to share, in a nutshell, what I said about goals while on tour. It’s exactly what I’ve done with just about every goal I’ve accomplished, from qualifying for Boston to the 100-miler to the book tour itself. The steps are obvious, I think, but important enough that they’re worth hearing from as many angles as you can.

1. Think really big.

If I may, an excerpt from Tim Ferriss’s 4-Hour Workweek, which perfectly sums up “thinking big”:
Ninety-nine percent of the people in the world are convinced they are incapable of achieving great things, so they aim for mediocre. The level of competition is thus fiercest for “realistic” goals, paradoxically making them the most time- and energy-consuming …
If you are insecure, guess what? The rest of the world is, too. Do not overestimate the competition and underestimate yourself. You are better than you think.
Unreasonable and unrealistic goals are easier to achieve for yet another reason. Having an unreasonably large goal is an adrenaline infusion that provides the endurance to overcome the inevitable trials and tribulations that go along with any goal. Realistic goals, goals restricted to the average ambition level, are uninspiring and will only fuel you through the first or second problem, at which point you throw in the towel. If the potential payoff is mediocre or average, so is your effort.
The fishing is best where the fewest go, and the collective insecurity of the world makes it easy for people to hit home runs while everyone else is aiming for base hits.
- See more at: http://www.nomeatathlete.com/big-goals-easy-steps/#sthash.9nO6IX7u.dpuf

5 ‘Easy’ Steps for Making Your Unrealistic Goal a Reality

iStock 000020646047XSmallWith the book tour just about wrapped up, it’s great to be sitting at my own desk in my own house writing a blog post again.
The tour has been amazing. So many roads, people, stories, hotels and cities, and so many delicious meals (especially once I hit the west coast). There are still a few events left, including Charlotte, Raleigh, and my hometown of Asheville this Thursday, but these and the remaining dates in Raleigh and Atlanta (maybe) are short drives away. The hard part — all 11,000 miles of it in my Hyundai Elantra — is over. The goal, achieved.
Yes, this self-supported book tour was like any other goal. It started as a speck of an idea that hit me on a run one day, a ridiculous and unrealistic idea. Then the day of intense, excited research to answer the “Is this possible?” question — knowing that no matter what the facts were, I’d somehow bend them into the shape of “Yes.” Finally, going public with it and creating the accountability. At which point it became real … then the rest was just details.
I’ve got plans for a book tour wrap-up post with photos, links, stories, maybe even a recording of my talk … but this is not that post.
My talk each night focused on three topics: running, the plant-based diet, and setting big freaking scary goals. Far more than the other two topics, the ones I thought were a safe bet, it was the talk of goals that people really cared about.
And so with this post I want to share, in a nutshell, what I said about goals while on tour. It’s exactly what I’ve done with just about every goal I’ve accomplished, from qualifying for Boston to the 100-miler to the book tour itself. The steps are obvious, I think, but important enough that they’re worth hearing from as many angles as you can.

1. Think really big.

If I may, an excerpt from Tim Ferriss’s 4-Hour Workweek, which perfectly sums up “thinking big”:
Ninety-nine percent of the people in the world are convinced they are incapable of achieving great things, so they aim for mediocre. The level of competition is thus fiercest for “realistic” goals, paradoxically making them the most time- and energy-consuming …
If you are insecure, guess what? The rest of the world is, too. Do not overestimate the competition and underestimate yourself. You are better than you think.
Unreasonable and unrealistic goals are easier to achieve for yet another reason. Having an unreasonably large goal is an adrenaline infusion that provides the endurance to overcome the inevitable trials and tribulations that go along with any goal. Realistic goals, goals restricted to the average ambition level, are uninspiring and will only fuel you through the first or second problem, at which point you throw in the towel. If the potential payoff is mediocre or average, so is your effort.
The fishing is best where the fewest go, and the collective insecurity of the world makes it easy for people to hit home runs while everyone else is aiming for base hits.
- See more at: http://www.nomeatathlete.com/big-goals-easy-steps/#sthash.9nO6IX7u.dpuf

So as for 2014, here's my flat-out unrealistic, crazy-stupid, and downright ridiculous goals:
  • I will Blog EVERY DAY (excluding weekends and holidays). I have some really crazy-stupid ideas of how I am going to do this. Stay tuned—I promise to be shocking, controversial, and borderline inappropriate (as usual). I am going to do this through the use of three B-words: Bullet points, Brevity, and Bridget Jones. You’re welcome. 
  • I will take a shot at the night...and get Brandon Flowers and The Killers to appear at my book launch for KILLING RUBY ROSE. I told you these goals were going to be crazy-stupid. But just so you know, Brandon Flowers is from Las Vegas (we even went to the same high school--he was a freshman when I was a senior--go Chaparral Cowboys!), and the band is crazy-awesome, and this goal is not outside the realm of possibility. After you get done rolling your eyes…(done yet?)…make sure that you clear your calendar to come to Las Vegas on September 16. 
  • I will embark on trips to New York City, Chicago, Orlando, Seattle, San Francisco, Salt Lake City, Los Angeles (and maybe a few other cities) for various literary reasons: to attend book expos/library conventions, writing confrences, to meet my publishing team, party with my agent, tour with my publishing sisters at Skyscape/Amazon Children’s Publishing.
  • I will write/revise and sell another Book. Plain and simple. 
These are the Biggies. I will set smaller goals in order to achieve these downright ridiculous goals. But in honor of my goal of Brevity, I’ll end here. You got any crazy-stupid goals for 2014?

Love,
Jessie With a Shot At The Night

Thursday, December 19, 2013

2014 Conferences & Book Events

It's time to start planning and thinking about which writing conferences, book festivals, and other literary events that we would like to attend. Here's what I've got lined up:

  1. Life, The Universe, & Everything (LTUE) February 13-15 at the Provo, Utah Marriott and Conference Center. This is an extremely inexpensive conference, only $30 if you pre-register! I don't know of a better price. The conference consists mostly of panels, tons of rock-star authors, from many different genres (but mostly fantasy and sci-fi). 
  2. LDStoryMakers- April 25-26 in Layton, Utah. Orson Scott Card is the keynote speaker this year, along with a smorgasbord of other amazing authors, agents and editors. It's my favorite conference of the year. All my favorite people will be there.
  3. American Library Association (ALA) Annual Conference, Las Vegas, NV: June 26-July 1. Oh hells yes, this is chez moi! As far as publication industry events go, this is a biggie. And I'll be there.
  4. Vegas Valley Book Festival (obviously in Vegas, duh) October 16th–18th. I participated in this book festival in 2013 and it was beyond awesome. So many amazing authors came to town to participate in panels, signings, and general partying. 
  5. And beyond these four events, I am set to debut with KILLING RUBY ROSE as a Kindle Serial Release on May 6, 2014, and then paperback release on September 16, 2014. I can guarantee there are going to be some more parties lined up here in the LV hood for that, though I don't quite have the exact details. Also, me and three of my fellow Skyscape authors are going to do an East-coast tour in the fall, including school visits, bookstore signings, and some more general partying. I like parties! 
Should be a pretty awesome year! So what do you have lined up for 2014? 

Monday, December 9, 2013

Simple Ways To Get Through The Submission Slush Pile--What I've Learned From #PitchWars

As many of you know, I am participating as a mentor in the #PitchWars contest hosted by Brenda Drake.

What this means for me, and approximately forty other authors also acting as mentors, is that I have temporarily stepped into the role of a discerning agent or editor. I HAVE A SLUSH PILE! Hundreds of writers have submitted their query and first five pages to to me and my fellow mentors. Our job is to read through all these submissions and decide on one pick that we will mentor into the next round, which is the agent round. We only get ONE pick! All these amazing submissions, talented writers, exciting stories, and we only get to work with one. I have a new appreciation for what agents and editors go through when faced with an ever-increasing slush pile. Fortunately for me, sometimes writers make it easy on me with very common mistakes. Here's my two cents on what to do get past the slush pile:
  • NEVER open with a question! I thought this was a really well-known no-no, but apparently not. I don't want to asked difficult questions about what I would do if faced with an intergalactic alien king who is hell bent on killing me. :/
  • Don't get super creative with format. Stick to the basic structure:
  1. Hook section which introduces character and setting
  2. Conflict section which sets up the general story
  3. Stakes section which explains what terrible things will happen if your main character can't overcome the conflicts
  4. About section which highlights the author, word count, and comps. 
Within this framework, you can get all sorts of creative, but don't disrespect the format. It makes it easy for agents/editors to dismiss you outright if you don't be respectin' them rules!
  • PLEASE make it easy for the agents/editors to contact you or research you. At the end of the query, hyperlink all your junk: email, website, blog, twitter handle, facebook page, etc. If you don't do this, the agent/editor will either 1) assume you don't have any social media presence at all; or 2) that you aren't professional enough to help them out--they don't have time to google you, and sort through pages of google listings of super creepy people out there that share your name! Which brings me to my next point...
  • HAVE a social media presence! I realize that this is probably a controversial subject because I'm sure we can all name a few authors who got picked up without so much as a twitter account (Stephen King just got his twitter account--fifty million bucks later). Whatever. You're not Stephen King! Get a blog, and even better, get a website. If you're serious about getting published, just do it. Go ahead and rant at me, and tell me all the reasons why it's not necessary until your published or whatnot. Tell me about the agent who told you that it didn't matter to them. Well, it mattered to my agent, and it mattered to me as I was trying to narrow down the field of contestants. 
  • GET a professional author picture, and upload it to all your email accounts, social media, etc. Even if you don't love pictures of yourself, pay someone a nominal fee to photoshop the crap out of you! (As long as it still looks like you). Gmail, hotmail and I'm sure all the other email hosts provide you with an option to upload your picture to your account settings. I swear this will help! I swear that agents/editors don't want to see a character out of the HOBBIT movie in your profile pic!
  • OF COURSE, it won't hurt to have:
  1. A completed manuscript with appropriate word count for your genre. 
  2. A voice that shines and resonates with the intended audience
  3. A marketable premise that hasn't been outdone (paranormals, dystopians, angel books...sorry, but you are at a huge disadvantage right now).
If you do these things, you will already be placing yourself above most of the slushers!

And thus endeth my preaching. Amen.