6 Obstacles I Had To Overcome To Be Successful

I don’t know about you, but I find posts and articles about the obstacles people face and how they overcame them inspirational. Especially if it’s something I can relate to. Now while this is post has to do with my writing and the direction I’ve decided to take it, this post can be related to any aspect of life.

So let’s begin…

Success means different things to different people. Success may be measured by how well you do in life, in who you marry, in the home you own or the car you drive, in the job you have and the money you make doing it, or in how well you raised your children and their success in life, in sports, in academics, etc.

I believe Joseph Murphy summed it up perfectly when he said:

Success means successful living. When you are peaceful, happy, joyous and doing what you love to do, you are successful.
-Joseph Murphy

 There may be a Problem, Scotty…

Now other then being video of Scotty on the edge of a cliff, the only reason I posted it is because this is how I felt over the last two year.

Sometime at the beginning of last year, I finally admitted to myself that the problem I was facing in my writing had little to do with my ambitious writing project. That’s not to say that I didn’t run into all sorts of issues with it, like the characters changing their minds on who was supposed to be the Lost Heir, or deciding that they didn’t like being a certain archetype, or that they didn’t want to play a role in the fantasy romance I planned because being part of a multi-book series of romantic fantasy sounded like more fun. My really problem was my writing career.

NOTE: For those who get confused between fantasy romance and romantic fantasy *raises hand*, romantic fantasy is a sub-genre of fantasy with romantic elements in it, while fantasy romance which is romance with fantasy elements. End of lesson.

Now in Changes & my Focus for 2018 I wrote that “I hate my writing career. I hate all the little things I’ve done to gain even a small measure of success. I hate what I’ve had to sacrifice because I thought it would make me successful. I hate that somewhere along the way I’ve lost sight of all my other dreams. I hate that I lost that spark that started me writing in the first place.”

But knowing the problem and doing something about it are two very different things.

Years ago, I read a quote that changed my life but can no longer find. The core of the message was…

If you don’t like something in your life (also friendship, job, relationship, etc.), change it. If you want more out of your life, then make it happen. Stop complaining about what you don’t have or what you would do differently, and do what you can to change it. If you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.
-Stephannie paraphrasing a quote

In 2004, I followed that advice and changed a life I wasn’t happy about to follow my heart. Thirteen years later, I am happy that I did. Not only do I have what I believe is the greatest hubby in the world, I also have two beautiful girls and I’m living my dream.

In 2017, when I realized that I hated my dream job, I took that advice again.

Should I Change it, or Should I Quit?

Change might sound like an easy thing to do, but taking a hard look at something that isn’t working in your life isn’t a simple. It takes guts to admit that along the way I took the wrong path, that I made the wrong decision, and that while I learned a lot, there are choices that I regret. It takes time to see the core of the problem that is most often hiding beneath something else. Like my problems with my writing were merely a cover for my dislike of my writing career.

While building my career as a writer, it was hard to judge if I’ve given something enough of a chance to see if it’s right for me or if I’ve allowed a less than ideal situation to drag on too long. Today, I can say that I let everything wrong with my writing drag on too long, and the result was I started to HATE writing. That was the sign thrown into my path that I couldn’t ignore. I knew it was time to figure out why I was feeling stuck and unhappy in my dream job.

NOTE: This is the point where my psychology class, writing courses, and the numerous books I’ve read about psychology and the business of writing came in handy. 😀

Last year, I took a giant step back from my writing career, I gave myself breathing room for a few weeks, and then I took a long look at the situation, my feelings toward my writing, and dissected my career to the bare bones. It didn’t take me long to realize that my current writing project–which was a departure from my romance writing brand, that was going to place under a pen name, and which I feared was going to flop like the last two books–wasn’t the reason I was stuck and unhappy, it was only a symptom of a larger problem.

Four months after walking away from my writing, I knew that quitting wasn’t my answer. And it’s not because of because of all those quotes that talk about how we shouldn’t quit. If something isn’t right for you, you shouldn’t keep doing it, no matter what other people think. If you aren’t happy doing something, then quit doing it. Life is far too short to keep doing something that makes you miserable. And while writing to make a full-time living was making me miserable, writing is something I love.

If you can quit, then quit. If you can’t quit,
If you can’t, you are a writer.
-R.A. Salvatore

So I made some changes…

Okay, so that is a very simplistic statement for something that took a lot of time and effort, because if you don’t dig down deep and find the core problem and then take the time to change your thinking about it, it will continue to raise its ugly head and bite you in the ass. In other words, you will continue to fail again and again until you fix what’s broke.

Now don’t get me wrong and think that I returned six months later and everything is fixed. It’s not all better, but it is getting there. And that has to do with my looking at my core problems and deciding how I can best overcome those obstacles for success.

Obstacle #6: Being too much of a perfectionist.

I wanted to do everything right the first time. If it’s not right, then I don’t want to let it go into the world to be criticized. To build a writing career, I’ve had to suppress the perfectionist who wants everything just right and move on to the next project, otherwise I would spend decades writing one book.

The flip side to this, is sometimes I get into too much of a hurry and let go prematurely. Loving the Goddess of Love was a perfect example of this. There is so much I should have done with that book to make it better, but I was anxious to move on.

I’m fixing this by reminding myself that making mistakes and taking risks are full of opportunities to learn, to move forward, to start over, and to make changes.

Not only do I need to learn to let go and move on to the next project, even if it’s hard, I need to accept that doing everything right the first time around isn’t possible. I also need to accept that it’s not perfectionism keeping me back, but doubts and fears. And I learned a long time ago, fear is the soul killer (How many recognize that phrase?). I need to face my fears and not let them control what I do.

Obstacle #5: Letting the advice and opinions of others dictate my plans. 

And I don’t mean in a good way, like a reader asking if I could write Aphrodite or Thanatos’ stories, or tell the story of Hades and Persephone’s child, which is an awesome idea that I’m still trying to figure out.

I’m talking about influential people who parade their advice around as if it is “the only way” to be successful and then become insulting when someone doesn’t take their advice because it doesn’t fit their platform or their life. I’m talking about those asshole haters and naysayers that have nothing better to do then to put others down to make themselves feel better and more important. And I’m talking about those horrid people who act like they are only stating an opinion but seem to take some sadistic pleasure in trashing the hard work of others in an insulting and rude manner.

So how am I fixing this, by reminding myself that I can’t control the negative behavior of others, but I sure as Hell can control how long I participate in it.

And I’ve decided not to participate in it. I would rather lift someone up and help someone out, then argue with someone about my life, my choices, my lessons, or my mistakes. All that is my business, and if someone doesn’t like it, that is their problem, not mine. I have better things to do, places to be, and more important people to talk to.

Obstacle #4: Marketing when I hate marketing.

I know that it is the lifeblood of a business, but the idea of marketing my books makes me physically ill. I avoid it like I would a plague carrier. I despise all the marketing gurus who tell me that I have to do this, and that, and this and that if I want to sell a book. I would rather spork out my eyeballs and have a root canal done on all my teeth then ask anyone to buy my book.

My solution to this obstacle is to find a passive ways to market my books. I know that they are out there.

Obstacle #3: Arguing with assholes who believe I am on the wrong path. 

Like that person who knows absolutely shit about the writing industry, but thinks that they do so they try to convince me that I should traditional publish because that is “the only true publishing path” and they know what is best for me. Or the person who loves my writing style but hates the story I wrote and thinks I should be writing a different type of story. And by the way, they have the perfect story for me to write. By the end of the conversation, I’m second guessing everything about my writing path and pissed off to boot.

And for those who aren’t writers, this is that person who thinks they know what is best for you or your life, and try to push you into doing things you don’t want to do because they “know best”. And if you don’t do what they so forcefully “suggested”, they’re pissed off at you and their not afraid to tell you about it. According to them, you might have even ruined their life because you made the best choice for you.

There’s an easy solution for this, realize that you are the only one who knows what is best for you, your business, your life, and your family. Everyone else can go piss up a tree.

I know that sounds harsh, especially when someone you respect gives you advice, but sometimes people give you advice that benefits them more than you. I’m really directing the above statement toward those who become angry when you don’t follow their counsel. You need to remember that you all have all the facts and you are the best judge of what is right for you.

For the record, at one time I might have wanted to be traditional published, but then I did my research and decided that Indie Publishing was a better fit for me and I haven’t regretted that choice in 10 years because: 1) I don’t want to be a traditional published author; 2) I don’t want to sell hundreds of thousands of books; 3) I don’t care to be on the New York Times Bestsellers or the USA Today Bestsellers lists; and 4) I don’t want the added stress. Thank you very much, but no Thank You!

Obstacle #2: Not being true to myself. 

There are two parts to not being true to myself. In the past, I’ve admitted that I’m more reserved on my blog, which makes me less personable or real, but I’ve also been more reserved in my book writing. I did this because I didn’t want to create conflict or be criticized for what I say by family. It’s a natural state for me to do my best to keep the peace, even if that means listening to the verbal abuse of bullies without fighting back. This isn’t health and it’s something that needed to change.

I started doing this by reminding myself that I can’t please everyone and to try means being unhappy. 

At first I thought the solution was a pen name, because then I wouldn’t feel like I had to edit what I wrote because of family who didn’t like it and it would make it easier to cut some people out of my life. However, it didn’t take me long to realize that a pen name wouldn’t make me happy for three reasons:

  1. I’m proud of what I write.
  2. I’ve worked hard to write those books.
  3. I want my name on the books I publish not another’s.

Once I realized the pen name was out of the picture, I started to think about what would make me happy. As writing is my dream job, something I’ve been wanting to do it since the second grade, it is important for me to create boundaries to protect that happiness. But I took it a few steps further.

In order to be true to myself, it’s time for me to stop hiding and be who I am. That doesn’t make me mean, selfish, or uncaring because I don’t do things the way others think I should. It means that I care about me too. Sadly, if I have to lose people to be myself, then that is what I will do.

And Obstacle #1: Not facing the truth sooner.

No matter how hard I tried to fit that round peg in the star hole, it’s taken me seven years to realize that I’m not a romance writer. Let me say that again,  I’m not a romance writer.

Being unable to fit my books into a genre should have been my first clue that I was doing it wrong. My book sales should have been my second clue that I was never cut out to be a romance writer. But I think the cherry on top was when a writer friend of mine kept pointing out that I might not be a romance writer.

This was an easy fix and came down to do what I love & love what I do.

I don’t know about you, but yes, my mind just went there. Maybe I should be looking into writing Erotica. *snort* Nah, I’d be no better at that then I am at romance.

At heart, I’m a storyteller who has chosen to use writing as my medium. I never fell out of love with writing and sharing stories. Which means I needed to find out what I was passionate about writing. Looking back through my earlier stories before I made romance writing my focus, I came to realize that most of my stories were in the in the urban fantasy, science fiction, and fantasy genre with elements of romance in them.

It made returning to my writing roots, magical worlds with a twist, that much easier.

“Success is stumbling from failure to failure
with no loss of enthusiasm.”

-Winston Churchill


Success or Failure?

Like I said above, success means different things to different people. And sometimes we lose sight of what success means to us in the chaos of what others see as successful.

I know that some would see my writing career as a failure, but I don’t choose to see it that way. Because I took a big risk for me. I wanted something badly enough that I walked out of my comfort zone to pursue my dreams. I accomplished everything I set out to do when I published my stories. I just got a little sidetracked by the crowd who kept telling me what I should want as a writer that I forgot to stop and ask myself if it was something I actually wanted.

Looking back, I’m glad for everything I learned. Some of those lessons were hard for me to face, but I know the growth I’ve gained will help me be a better person, and while I just wish I could have seen the problems sooner and saved myself the headache of trying to figure them out, I’m glad for the experience that will help me do better this next time around.

What obstacles have you had to overcome to succeed in your life or business?

Stephannie Beman

Women Are Different, So Heroines Should Be, Too

Even though this is geared toward writers, I love Ruth’s take on making every heroine in her books different and why she does it. It’s a great article for writers and readers both. Enjoy!

Ruth Ann Nordin's Author Blog

This post is a semi-rant.  From time to time, it irks me that people think there is a one-size-fits-all heroine.  (Actually, there is no one-size-fits-all hero or villain or secondary character or kid, either, but I’m going to speak specifically about heroines.)

How Women Are Different

Just like fingerprints, no two women are exactly alike.

different women ID 67013990 © Andrey Arkusha | Dreamstime.com

This entire post is based off a comment I recently received after someone read one of my books with a heroine who wasn’t in major pain after her first time of having sex.  I don’t know why we have to assume every single woman on this planet will have a horrific first time.  I didn’t.  In fact, my first time didn’t hurt at all.  But then, my husband and I took our time and I was able to get ready for him.  I had no tearing, no bleeding…

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Author Blogs: Do I really need one?

I don’t think every writer needs a blog.

I don’t think fiction writers need a blog.

I don’t think most readers give a rats a$$ about writer’s blog.

I think telling writers that they need and don’t need a blog is plain stupidity. 😀

You are welcome to disagree with me. I won’t stop you. But I want to tell you why I believe the statements above.

I don’t think every writer needs a blog.

Every writer is different. The goals for their writing are different. No one author platform is the same.

This blog is about writing, publishing, and marketing books, the niche is self-published fiction writers. It was started to share our thoughts and opinions on self-publishing when it was still a shiny bright toy. This is a non-fiction blog. We get 50 to 4k+ hits a day. It works because it is geared toward readers looking for information on self-publishing and writing.

On a personal note, it fills my need to write about writing and publishing. It’s not here to sell my books (Probably because I’m a fiction writer, not a non-fiction writer.) It doesn’t build my platform, unless I start writing non-fiction. It’s mostly a blog for you and me.

Blogging was one of those things created for non-fiction writers and those who liked to share their personal journals online. What better way to build a non-fiction platform then by sharing snippets of information found in your books.

I don’t think fiction writers need a blog.

Fiction writers don’t need a blog. For the most part it serves little purpose other than to alleviate the guilt that we “should be blogging.” If a blog helps you hash out your thoughts and ideas, keep at it. However, if you hate blogging, can’t think of anything to say, and don’t want to do it, don’t. Create a website instead and use your blog as a latest news stream to let readers know that you have something coming out or places that you’ll be. Create an ‘Extra’ pages for fun facts and stuff for readers.

I don’t think most readers give a rats a$$ about your blog.

Before I became an author I never read a blog from an author. I visited plenty of their websites. But I didn’t care what they had to say about their daily lives, what contest they were running, what their life was like, if they were having trouble with the characters, if they’re busy or in need of a holiday, if they’ll be absent from the internet for weeks or why, or what their kids are doing.

Sorry, but I’m selfish that way and irrelevant information isn’t going to make me want to come back. And I’m not alone. Many readers don’t visit the author’s blog. They don’t care about the life of the writer. They care about the books. And reading a blog geared toward other writers is a turn off for many readers.

The top things a reader want when they come to your blog/website isn’t the blog. They want information on your books, what is available and what is coming out. They want to know about you, but not too much about you (About me page?). They want a way to contact you (Contact Me page). They want excerpt from the books (Books page). Possibly some fun facts about the books (Extras about the books). Maybe a FAQ page (Author FAQ or Book FAQ pages).

I think telling writers that they need and don’t need a blog is plain stupidity.

Yes, I see the irony of this statement and I still believe it’s true. I don’t think writers should tell other writers that they absolutely need a blog or that they don’t. Every writer is different. Their goals for their writing are different. Their author platform isn’t the same as another authors.

Besides, I didn’t tell you not to blog, merely that I didn’t think every writer needed to. I’m a blogger that shouldn’t blog. I can’t keep to a consistent schedule. I only blog when I feel like it and weeks can go by without a word from me unless I start feeling guilty or have a sudden burst of energy and write dozens of posts at that time. I have plenty of ideas for blog posts and title and no real passion to do most days.

What Your Readers Want….Are You Sure?

Not sure why, but there seems to be this idea that readers want a certain type of book. That if a writer pulls away from the pack to write the story they have passion for, that it will be hated and not sell. I’m going to throw down the bullshite flag on this. It’s a myth. A writing myth. (Of which there seems to be a bushel full.)

Once upon time, when the only way to be published (yeah, I know there is more to that story) was go through a publisher, writers were forced to follow certain rules for the type of books that were acceptable by the publishers. As with anything, this grew into a fact of life that is mere mythology now.

If you are reading this blog then you are either self-published or you think of it. Self-publishers don’t have to follow this rule of the industry. They aren’t publishing for anyone else besides themselves, and possibly readers. This doesn’t mean you can’t follow the rules of storytelling, or have it edited for typos. You want to put out the best book that you can.

What you can do it experiment. You can try out new ideas. You can mix genres. You can write the strangest story ever.

There are readers out there for every type of book. Trust me, if you write the book and market it to the audience who wants it, it will sell. It might not sell like blockbusters, but it will sell and you will be happier for it.

Organization for a BETTER Writing Life

Yes, I just yelled ‘better’ at you. And yes, I know some of you subscribe to the “It’s an organized mess!” group. I know I spent the better part of 16 years thinking the same while the stacks of paper grew around me. However, the ‘organized mess’ really should be an ‘unorganized mess.’

Don’t believe me? How much time do you spend looking for things when you could be writing? Do you forget things because the paper you lost it on is lost in the craziness? For those who don’t have a dedicated writing space. How long does it take you to locate a paper when you sit down to write? Do you have to go to a different room to retrieve things you need?

It’s probably not surprising to most that writers and creative types aren’t the most organized person, after all, many of us appear flighty daydreamers to most people. It’s kinda part of the job description. It shouldn’t be a surprise that organizational systems that work for some don’t work for us. Our needs are as varied as any other business.

Streamlining one’s working life can go a long way toward better productivity and more writing time. Organization in your writing life can make it less stressful and better. Why? Because when you have a place for everything and everything is in it’s place (Oh! Just quoted my mom!), life is easier.

So my question is, what kind of organizational systems do you use to make work easier? Are you interested in learning to organize your writing and business life?

4 Great Ways to Target Your Readers Without Being Creepy

I love discussing writer related business with other authors and in my second business of cover design I get the chance often to talk about publishing and marketing. I was recently asked my opinion on audience targeting and how to do it. Ummmm…My advice was don’t until after the book is written. While you are going through the stages of editing and getting it ready for publication, when you have a firmer grasp of what the book is about, then it’s time to target your audience.

The author I was speaking with wanted to target their audience before they wrote the next book.

I’m not a big fan of audience targeting before you write the book. For whatever reason I have this image of an author in a mini-sub patrolling the Webseas, seeking out readers, and torpedo-ing their books in their direction. Some of these authors are targeting their genre audience, others every reader they find. I’m sure it works for some authors. As a reader, nothing annoys me more than authors and even readers who blast everyone in range with their “buy the book” message a million times. Aaahhh, let me think…will I buy the book…Um, not in a billion years. (Recent examples: Fifty Shades, Twilight, Harry Potter, Nora Roberts, James Patterson, Stephen King, Amanda Hocking….and the list goes on.)

They might be great authors and their following seems huge. But I’ve heard about the book so much I already know what people liked, didn’t like, how it ends, and what was different in the books from the movie. Ok, can you tell how much it annoys me. It’s also a post for another day. Today I want to discuss ways to target your readers. And I’m still seeing the writer in a sub.

Writing for your audience is important if you want to sell books. If you are willing to place your marketing and sales before your creativity. However, there are good and bad ways to do it. If you don’t like the billionaire romances, don’t write them just because they’re popular. If you like Star Trek, create your own Universe and people, don’t copy and give them different names.

1) Decided who is your perfect reader is.

What I mean by this is who are you writing for and who is the type of reader you want to read your books. You can work up a character profile of who this reader is as some book marketing gurus suggest. I cringe at the very idea. I’d never look at it after the fact.

I would suggest picking a reader you already have and respect, even if that reader is imagined, and gear your writing toward them and hope there is more than one out there. Although the better option would be to write what you like and make that perfect reader you. Yeah, I know you are an individual and oh, so different from everyone else, but really, the best reader for your books are readers like you. In my opinion you are your perfect reader and you should be writing books you would enjoy reading. There are more people out there like you.

2) Research your readers needs and wants.

You can browse the top 10 bestsellers in your chosen genre or genres, research the common threads that make readers love them, and compile a list from those common traits. You can then use those common threads in your writing. If you do this, please only use the ones that you are comfortable with.

If you are uncomfortable writing about incest, James Bond like spies, epic fantasies, cheating spouses, serial killers, or any of the other dozen topics, then don’t. Writing something you aren’t comfortable with will only come out in your writing as awkward  and stilted. Besides that it won’t make you happy and it can even bring down your confidence and respect in yourself. Not! what you want to do.

3)  Make the book unique

Yes, vampire and shifter novels have been done to death, however, if you add your own unique writing style, author voice, and spin to it, then you’ve made it unique enough to attract readers to it when you start promoting it. I’m not a vampire fan, but I love Joleene Naylor’s vampire novels. My latest book had creatures that were like vampires and shifters in it. No, I wasn’t writing to a specific market it’s just how the story unfolded. It also didn’t take place on Earth. It had a unique spin to it that has attracted readers although I have yet to market it. (Bad me!)

If you write a book because it is the newest craze or trend, you better make your book stand out from the rest. If it is just like every other book out there, then you are writing for a limited audience. They will eventually move on to the next craze and the book you wrote will be left behind.

4) Market and Promote your book.

There are two ways to do this. Jump on all the forums, popular hangouts, guest post on blogs, and start talking about your book to everyone that will listen and make friends with the hope that they will become fans of your book or at least buy the book because they like you. Or go the other route and blog about your book a few months before it comes out (on your blog or guest post on others), giving readers interesting tidbits and story samples, see if reviewers are interested in reading and reviewing your book, release the book, and start writing the next book.

I like the second approach personally, which is probably why I make just enough to enjoy my success and my writing career still. I let people come to me and readers suggest the book without guilt tripping them into doing it. I also don’t have the added stress that ‘over-the-top’ marketing brings and I’m happier with my writing career. All pluses for me.

________

So there are my tips to targeting your reader. Most of them that I don’t follow myself because I’d rather write the next book which seems to work better for me.

Writing for yourself First

I was reading on a forum today where an author asked how he could get the joy of writing back. He was worn out and bored with everything he started. The thought of writing another word was akin to pulling his own teeth with a pair of pliers.

As I read through the comments it became very clear to me, despite all the great suggestions given on how to help him, that his true problem wasn’t writer’s block or burn out. It was gearing his writing toward what he thought readers wanted from him. It was suppressing his own creative voice in an attempt to give his audience what they wanted. And it was boring him to death.

You see, he loved his daily writing pages. He enjoyed warm up stage before the critic’s voice came in to kill the fun. He still daydreamed new pitfalls for his characters.

It made me start to wonder, how many writers start with the joy of writing only to lost the passion? How many authors gear their writing toward what they think readers want? How many writers are writing books they hate or would never read themselves because it sells well? How many of you are doing this right now?

Stop it. Stop it right now.

The best part of writing is writing what you enjoy for the fun of it. It’s what makes work a little less work-y. It’s what makes the right readers love your books. Passion in your writing voice will carry the book far longer than formulaic writing.