Looking Back on 2018!

I stopped sending Christmas cards about a decade ago, and the end of annual newsletters came not far behind. I’m not sure I was ever any good at either and I know few people who do them well.

Too much to brag about, too much to complain about; the best and worst are often invisible or too hard to capture in a single photo or a few words anyway. Or they’re way too personal or too few people even care… the list of reasons why they’re so inadequate is long…

But I guess one still needs to somehow reflect on the last day of the year right?

2018 has been a roller coaster of note, and I’m struggling to wrap my head around everything that’s happened – planned or otherwise. I’m sure to the outside world we appear totally crazy and I often wake up wondering the same thing.

But I guess the bottom line for me, what I want people to know the most, is that in the quiet, prayerful moments when I remember what we are doing and why, I feel peaceful and content and ever so thankful. I’m not good at explaining much of it, but I do want people to know that there is reason and method in all this madness somewhere and that it isn’t nearly as random as it may appear.

I realise this all appears rather cryptic and I apologise for that. I constantly think “if I can just get enough sleep, enough time to write properly, enough days in one spot, enough this, that or the next thing… then I’ll regain an appearance of control of my life again and it won’t appear to be a complete zoo!” … but I’m not sure I’ll ever get any of those things and if I did manage to get them, I doubt I’d actually be in any more control than I am now?

When I look back on 2018 I’m not sure I’d do a whole lot differently? Ok, I take that back, I’d do lots of things better, slower, less thoughtfully (I tend to over think things, try too much and too hard), I think I’d have let go of more, been a little more “selfish”, tried to fix less things and allowed more people to make their own mistakes?

I’ll save what I hope to do differently in 2019 for the next post, but for now, thanks to all of you so much for reading, commenting, supporting, and putting up with me! Thanks soooo much for all the encouragement and personal contact! Thanks for all the amazing new friends and experiences, thanks to our amazing children for putting up with us! Thanks to everyone who contributed to this year in such positive ways.

No thanks to those who didn’t. I’ll not comment on those who tried to steal from us or derail us, those who tried to bring us down or make our choices all about them. It’s shocked me (even though it shouldn’t) how selfish people can be … from total strangers to those among the ranks of what were once our greatest supporters…. I’ll leave the negative at that.

It’s been a year of grandbabies and travels and changes and celebrations and losses and exhaustion and on the very last day of the year I think more than ever I need to retreat a little bit more and nurture myself better… whatever that means…

And as always, I’m off to cuddle and celebrate and be thankful with my pre iota babies and their families…

PS: Thanks so much to those who’ve signed on the easy, no-spam newsletters I send out no more often than monthly (and believe me, I miss sending half of those)!

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@JPeaSmith

Author Groovy Lee!

Today I had the privilege of speaking with author Groovy Lee. Here are some of the things that she shared with me. If you would like to know more about her, check out her links at the bottom of the page 🙂
1.       Can you please tell us a little bit about yourself?
I live in the Southern part of the United States. I have a daughter who’s my best friend, my Queen, and my biggest supporter. I’m addicted to bottled tea and tennis. 
2.       How long have you been writing?
Ever since I could hold a pencil in my hand. When I didn’t have my head stuck in a book, I was creating adventures. I even wrote a neighborhood newspaper and comic books. 
3.       What do you write about?
I write Suspense, Romance, Romantic/Suspense, and my newest endeavor is a Suspense/Sci-Fi/Romance. I’ve always been a stickler for true love and Happy-Ever-After’s, so you’ll find that in just about all of my books. My protagonists are always strong females that can stand on their own. 
4.       What is your greatest achievement in writing so far?
I think it’s having people read my books and enjoying them. If I can move one person with something I wrote, then I’ve done my job. One mother, whose daughter was dying of cancer, told me that my book, “Cause She’s A Good Girl”, enabled her to escape the pain and stress temporarily. I was so touched by that. This same book was shown on a popular morning TV show where I live and given a “Highly Recommended” from Bookman and BookWoman—I’m still smiling. 
5.       What is your greatest dream?
When it comes to my books, it would be to see my fan base grow and grow until I’m listed on the New York Times Bestseller’s list. It means just about everyone is being entertained by something I wrote. My greatest dream in life is to finally see world peace, the end of starvation, disease, and wars. 
6.       What advice would you give someone who is new to writing?
Write what’s in your heart, not what you think your readers expect. Not everyone will like what you write, but that’s okay. Besides having loyal fans, you will also have your critics; wear their reviews as a badge of honor. Join forums and interact with eager readers and fellow authors. You can learn so much from them. Be ready to do the hard part of promoting.
7.       Do you do any Social Media?
I’m not very good at Social Media, but I’m learning. I’m an introvert, and it’s not easy for me to engage. But when my readers and Goodreads friends reach out to me, it makes it much easier. I do have a Goodreads blog and a FB page. 
8.       Who are your writing heroes?
My writing heroes are the late Janet Dailey & Violet Winspear, both of the old Harlequin’s era; Dr. Seuss, I think he was a most brilliant writer. I read his books out loud when I get the chance. And Frank L. Baum—The Wizard of Oz is my most favorite book and film.
9.       Have you just released a new book? What is it about? 
Yes. It’s titled, A BODY RESURRECTED, and I’m so excited. It’s my first attempt at adding a Sci-Fi element to my story. It’s a Suspense/Sci-Fi/Romance about a handsome bounty hunter from the planet Aut; true love; and trying to stop an evil mummy intent on destroying the plague known as woman. 
10.   What are you working on now?
I’m working on a Romantic/Suspense about a family heirloom that will give the ultimate power to anyone who can find its secret hiding place; family members are killing one another to obtain it, and the heroin has no idea it’s in her possession.
 
 

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Where Jennifer hangs out: Blog | The Mighty | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Goodreads | Amazon

@JPeaSmith
“Here she comes, running, out of prison and off the pedestal: chains off, crown off, halo off, just a live woman.”  ― Charlotte Perkins Gilman

A Perfect Launch Team Member

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Does this sound like a perfect launch team member to you:

Someone who reads your book over and over again, each time helping with thoughts, corrections, and ideas, bringing out the best in you. They tell everyone they know about your book, they write reviews on every Amazon site, on Goodreads and they write an independent review. They buy your book with their own money, they share every Tweet Facebook post you make about it and they email every single person on their email list.

Well, if you do you then you may just be right. Except, that if you know someone like this then it is probably your granny. Which is lovely, but the reality is that not only are their few people like this available to you but believe it or not, this kind of person can also work against you. If they over do it, never shut up about your book or cover their entire social media in it, then people can so easily get sick of it, stop following her, and at the very least roll their eyes and move on, without even clicking on your book never mind buying it.

So what then makes a second best launch team member? Someone who at least buys, reads, and writes a review on Amazon and Goodreads right?

Well sort of. The reality is that we need ALL kinds of people on our teams! I learned the hard way that not everyone has a “certified” enough Amazon account to write a review. And not everyone has the time to proofread and not everyone has the social media links to spread it. If people love you they will do their bit, but it is most likely that their bit will be quite different to the next person. And you need them all. I had to learn that they all had something different to offer. Even the people who have no time, expertise or capacity to do much, they at least downloaded my book on “free” day and it counts as a sale.

And that is why you need numbers and you need them from far and wide. Only a quarter will leave a review, a small handful will finish a proofread, and tiny proportion will even tell their friends. Keep going, keep digging, and round up those friends … but don’t expect too much from them and don’t forget that they are doing you a FAVOUR!

Where Jennifer hangs out: Blog | The Mighty | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Goodreads | Amazon

@JPeaSmith
“Here she comes, running, out of prison and off the pedestal: chains off, crown off, halo off, just a live woman.”  ― Charlotte Perkins Gilman

What Kind of a Stage?

img_1061Last time I talked about the idea of hosting a stage for others. That cooking dream sounded great, but it can be applied to the most simple things. Use your stage to interview new writers, review books in your genre, build a following made up of the people who you want to one day read your book. If your genre is fiction based on small creatures then find every book on the planet on small-creature-fiction, borrow them from the library, download them from Amazon on free or 99c promotions, follow all the author’s blogs and comment kindly on many of their posts, and then over time, review each and every one of them. Soon you will have a huge chunk of the small-creature-fiction fans on the planet following you. Write about everyone else and they will listen… then you can share that you write too. Blog on your dilemma about how to choose the perfect name for a main character that is a millipede, run a competition to help choose the final name… the list is endless.

My ego says that my stage would be filled with my memoirs, my books, my interviews … but when I put aside my ego, I have learned the last year that I am also pretty good at sharing my journey, helping others feel comfortable asking me questions and working alongside people. They appear to like that I bear my soul and the hard stuff in this journey and they come to me saying “me too!“. Because of that, I have received so many requests for help in setting up a platform, launching an eBook, and so on, that I don’t have time to answer them all. But because they are mostly all asking the same question, I can write about it in one place and we can all learn together.

Building a stage with something that you are good at is the perfect way to start. It might be small, and humble, but it is real and will ultimately bring an audience. I am still finding my way around, but I am thankful that I have fallen into this space really. People then keep telling me that it is all very well for me, but they haven’t fallen into their space. So let me help you… experiment, play around, ask people that you trust. Set up an author site like this and write, blog and share what you are passionate about and what draws people in. It doesn’t hugely matter what, as long as you enjoy it.

Some of my favorite blogs are simply about journeys. Where people use them as a journal and like-minded people follow along, becoming invested in the outcome.

I took three months off from writing (and I write full time) to research and experiment with social media. Six months ago I was too scared to even look at a Twitter App never mind download it or work out how Twitter works. I now have 4 Twitter accounts, (the author one is closing in on thousand followers), 4 Instagram accounts, an author page on Facebook, Goodreads and Amazon and I have published a short book which has sold over 2,000 copies in it’s first few weeks, most of them on the free days but still, it is creating a buzz. All in order to begin to create a following… I am muddling my way around. But for the most part, I simply share my story, my struggles, my journey and I give out all and everything that I learn … for free!

I am muddling my way around. But for the most part, I simply share my story, my struggles, my journey and I give out all and everything that I learn … for free!

My stage does not fit any simple box and people appear to like that. But there are others out there looking for cooking picture blogs and small-creature-fiction. It doesn’t matter if everyone else has already done the same thing… in fact, that is better because they will be your tribe if you write comments on their blogs and interview them and share their stories…

This is supposed to be about Launch Teams and it is, but supporters of launch teams come from the people in your tribes. People who are happy to come to your stage and be there to support you when you launch that book!

For the readers out there, they can’t wait to be a part of your launch team, they just need to know about you!

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Where I hang out: Blog | The Mighty | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Goodreads | Amazon
@JPeaSmith
“Here she comes, running, out of prison and off the pedestal: chains off, crown off, halo off, just a live woman.”  ― Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Interview with Blogger Sushmita Thakare Jain.

1: It is lovely to meet you. Can you please tell us a little about who you are and what you write about?

It’s lovely to meet you too Jennifer.

I am a Biotechnologist by qualification but truly an Entrepreneur and passionate Motivator by heart.

I have my Businesses one is into trading of Jewelry & Perfumes while the other is into Business & Finance consultancy. I am planning to expand my first business and enter manufacturing so currently looking for interested Investors.

I write about Business & Finance related blogs on my website and wide variety of topics sharing my experiences, personal stories about how to go out and make your dreams a realization and about thought-provoking topics.

2: How long have you been blogging, and why do you blog?

I have been blogging since past 6 months.

It began in order to promote my company’s website; it was my husband who suggested me to share my writing when one fine day he went through my journal.

Before blogging I used to write my journal where I used to share my thoughts and experiences and short stories now it is fun to share it with an audience who interacts with you.

I love to blog for the audience, love to connect with them and grow myself as a writer as the audience is everything as the audience associated with us grow so do we!

3: What are your three greatest highlights of blogging so far?

To be frank I just have a steady audience on both my blogs which I want to grow so still on the journey to have highlights hopefully will have some in coming time.

4: What is your greatest writing dream for the future?

My greatest writing dream is to become a Published Author which I have started working on, fingers crossed!

I will be starting my book writing journey via Wattpad and will be beginning with short stories and then after them will take it ahead with novels.

5: What is one piece of advice for anyone who is starting out with writing or blogging?

The best advice for a newbie was shared by Bill Gates and I try and implement it!

Content is King

What would you like to share most strongly with your readers?

I love to share my experiences and advice about what to do when feeling low. When experiencing the slump I shift my perspective and use the obstacle as a stepping stone to achieve even greater heights. There are many tips and advice on how to cultivate a change in attitude but one key way to do this is to begin a gratitude practice.

Be grateful.

There is always, always, always something or the other for me to be thankful for.

First I find it. It always helps me come out of the quicksand of negativity.

Life is better when I’m smiling. I don’t believe that being positive in a negative situation is naive; it’s a sign of leadership and strength.

When I refocus and recharge myself with motivation and if required re-plan my goal, it helps me to fully develop my inner strength and become resistant to negativity.

People may say, the problem is that the bad is utterly debilitating that the bad knocks the life right out of you; it can leave you gasping for air amidst a pool of cold loneliness. But to that I say:

Know this my friend — you are not alone!

Whatever you are going through, no matter how difficult, sad, unfair or turbulent, countless others have felt that depth of despair. Countless others right now, this very second are feeling that level of depth and despair. This I am saying is not to take away from or minimize the gravity of your pain; I am saying this is to let you know that you are never alone.

I feel the wisest, most loving, and well-rounded people I have ever met are likely those who have known misery, known defeat, known the heartbreak of losing something or someone they loved and has found their way out of the depths of their own despair.

These are the people who have experienced many ups and downs and have gained an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, understanding and a deep loving wisdom.

Friends people like this aren’t born; they develop slowly over the course of time.

I don’t believe that anyone is punishing you. We all agree we can’t predict the future or can we? Do we know with certainty what will the future offers us?

So why to be discouraged just like in order for the light to shine so brightly, the darkness must be present same way we must take the negative slump in our life to shine brightly ahead.

Thank you Sushmita! You can find and follow her on any of the links below:

https://twitter.com/sush_t27

https://www.facebook.com/sushmita.thakare

https://in.linkedin.com/in/sushmita-thakare-jain-81413486

https://plus.google.com/113075794335895690382

https://in.pinterest.com/sushblues/

https://www.instagram.com/sush_t27/

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Where I hang out: Blog | The Mighty | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Goodreads | Amazon
@JPeaSmith
“Here she comes, running, out of prison and off the pedestal: chains off, crown off, halo off, just a live woman.”  ― Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Author Stage or Author Platform

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Many people who are new to writing are doing exactly what we are all advised to do: Build an online presence, an online platform, and get the word out there. We have to sell ourselves, and we have to sell our books. But the biggest question I get asked over and over again is how do I get people to come to me and listen to what I have to say. This is the hardest part in some ways, but in other ways, I think it is actually the easiest, but you do need a few key ingredients: Humility, Patience, and Community are just three of them but believe me, you can’t get far without ALL of them. Here is why:

The first mistake we make is to go out, buy the wood and build ourselves a little stage in our back yard. We stand on it and wait for the crowds to come. It is heart-wrenching when no one turns up! So we fork out the cash for advertising, we stick posters on the lamp posts, and we tell all our friends. Some of them come, but still, there is no crowd and few of our books sell. It feels so unfair.

The problem is that many of us build a stage before we build a platform. Twitter, Pinterest, and Facebook are all great tools, but they are just that, they are tools. They are the loudspeakers and the flyers and the billboards. But the problem is that they are lost in millions upon millions of almost identical loudspeakers, flyers, and billboards. At one end we have a FABULOUS product (aren’t all of our books going to be the next best seller?), and at the other end we have the advertising, but there is nothing in between. There is nothing to connect us and make us stand out. Even our STUNNING front cover is lost among thousands of other stunning covers!

So in comes humility and patience. Humility to ask someone else if we can perhaps have a seat at their table, to get to know them, and to one day accept a teeny corner of their stage. Over and over people tell me that they don’t have the time to meet people, to get to know them before they ask for help, or even then, that they don’t want to stand on someone else’s stage! They want to stand on their own stage. I get that. We all want our own stage to shine, but we can’t force people to come or to buy.

Another option perhaps is to build your own stage by all means, but for the first season, don’t stand on it other than to introduce our guests. Invite others to come and speak on it instead. Bring in people who you know others would love to hear. It is still your stage. But if you spend a season being the host, welcoming people, giving others a voice and a place to stand, then after a while, when people love and trust you, they will turn to you and ask you ” do you also write? I love to hear your voice at the beginning of each show, I would love to hear what else you have to say”.

These things both take time, they both take humility, and they take a whole lot of “paying it forward”. I am not saying it is easy, but for me, it is actually a whole lot easier than embarrassingly standing on a soap box and shouting “PLEASE BUY MY BOOK!” at the top of my lungs all day, every day.

We need to build an online presence and an online platform, but we must be a little careful of confusing it with simply building a stage…

Over the next few posts, I will dig much deeper into these things and answer any questions you have. Please feel free to join the closed Facebook Group on the subject of building ethical launch teams if you would like to ask your questions in a more private space, by clicking HERE.

 

Inspiring Others?

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To be honest, I don’t feel inspirational. And I am not sure that I actually do ever inspire people, but as I find my voice and begin using it out loud I starting to hear this word used more and more often and in the context of me! That used to freak me out a lot and I am not sure that it will ever sit well with me, but I have learned to become a little more comfortable with it since I reminded myself that we are all just ordinary people really. That when ordinary people do things that other people would love to do, that makes them inspiring. I will never climb Mount Everest and nor do I have even the smallest inclination to either climb or rise above others in any kind of way. But I do want to have an impact on people who walk next to me day to day. It is these people who inspire me the most and I am pleased that I can sometimes do the same for them.

Finding my voice isn’t just about writing, it is about saying what is on my heart and being prepared to now and then be the only one who says what everyone else appears to be thinking. Not in a rude or arrogant way. But I have noticed that when people tell me that I inspire them it is never because I did anything huge, it is simply that I spoke my truth. And often, that truth that I speak appears to be the truth shared by others.