Small Steps First

change ahead

By Ellen Leventhal

Here we are approaching the end of the year. Time for resolutions, right? When we make resolutions, we look forward, but I think we look back as well. Speaking personally, my resolutions are based on things I didn’t achieve in the past year. In other words, if I didn’t get in shape in 2015, I may resolve to find my ideal body in 2016. If I didn’t get a book deal in 2015, I may resolve to get one in 2016. Sounds kind of crazy, right? Right.  Things like getting a book deal, snagging the perfect agent,  and certainly obtaining that ideal body aren’t really resolutions. They’re goals. And there’s nothing wrong with that, but I don’t think you can put a time limit on those types of things. They can take years. Or you may never achieve those long range goals. But you CAN resolve to take steps that may lead to your goals. Those steps are what I consider resolutions.  So here they are, out in public, a few of my writing goals and resolutions.

  1. GOAL: Get a particular story traditionally published.  RESOLUTION: I will polish it, have it critiqued several times, revise as much as I need to, and most importantly, send it out to targeted editors.
  2. GOAL: Snag an agent. RESOLUTION: I will go to conferences, network, take classes, and again, most importantly, send my stories out.
  3. GOAL: Redo my website.  RESOLUTION: I will find people who can help me with this (I resolve to ask for help a lot this year!), and I will dive into it head first instead of just talking about it.
  4. GOAL: Indie publish an anthology of short stories.  RESOLUTION: Write two short stories a month.
  5. GOAL: Learn more about e-publishing.  RESOLUTION: Again, ask for help. (Especially from my wonderful, talented, and helpful Space City Scribes buddies!)
  6. GOAL: Reissue Don’t Eat the Bluebonnets.  RESOLUTION: All the resolutions are taken care of on this one. Ellen Rothberg and I are thrilled to be working with Joel Cook to create an even better book than the original. Stay tuned!


On another note, I’d like to tell you about a goal I did reach this year. I was honored to be part of a Middle Grade anthology in which all proceeds go to the Sturge-Weber Foundation. It is a wonderful organization that helps families affected by the neurological syndrome, Sturge-Weber. If you want to find out more about Sturge-Weber, please check out If you want to help, go to Amazon and purchase Kissed by an Angel compiled by Robyn Campbell.  You won’t be sorry you did!

Wishing everyone a happy, healthy, and peaceful holiday season!



Organize Your Writing Life in 2015 – Five Strategies for Success

by Monica Shaughnessy

a-good-time-to-start-something-270663-mIf you’re like me (and most of the world), you want to make a fresh start in the new year. In fact, as soon as I write this post, I’m going to clean my office. It’s crammed with stuff from the holidays. Starting in October, my personal writing space becomes a cornucopia of crap – glitter, spider stickers, leftover fabric, Christmas bows, pinecones, paper pilgrim hats…you get the idea.

So once the decks are cleared, I’m going to look to the following list to help me get organized this year. It’s not your usual “use Evernote more” kind of list. It goes a bit deeper. It may get you thinking, too, about your own strategies for 2015.

1. Tame the Social Media dragon – I’m going to develop a social media calendar at the beginning of each month and stick to it. And each month, I’ll use my platform to support one book and/or promotion and not get too bogged down with minutia and side stuff. I’m also going to put off social media until the end of the day after I’ve done my writing (or during lunch breaks/weekends). This is a biggie. I’ve wasted too many hours fiddling around on Twitter and Facebook when I could be moving my plot along. Books first, platform a close second (but still a second). I know a lot of writers who put platform first and writing second (and it shows). I don’t want to be one of those writers.

2. Develop a High-Yield Income Strategy – I spent time last year experimenting with different speaking gigs, side projects, books signing, etc. Realistically, I can’t write more books and do ALL of the above. So I’m going to scale back and do only the things that a) yield the highest income or b) significantly develop my platform (which leads to higher income). This may sound harsh to those who write only for the love of writing. But for me, writing is also a business. The good thing about doing all that in 2014 is that I now know what works and what doesn’t. I’m also going to develop more of those high-yeild projects.

3. Get Serious About Genre – This is a biggie for me. If you look at my backlist, I’ve got children’s projects, historicals, thrillers, and more. But unless I stay put in one spot, fans don’t know where to find me. I’m finally gaining a following with my historical mysteries, so instead of writing a sci-fi book next, I will probably follow up with a new book in this genre to capitalize on my foothold. But I can’t resist releasing a few modern-day short stories in the meantime (hey, they’re already written). Throughout 2015, I will keep my eye on one genre and try NOT to get distracted by shiny things.

4. Write Like My Pants Are On Fire – Oh, how I agonize over words! In 2015, I will stop striving for PERFECTION and strive for finishing as many projects as I can as quickly as I can (without sacrificing quality). I’ve got to write like every day is NaNoWriMo. It really helped to have this mentality when finishing The Black Cats (now on sale!), and it can help this year, too. I’m going to develop a REALISTIC publishing schedule and bet against fellow author, Mandy Broughton, that I can finish it.

5. Try New Things – I know, I know. I said in #2 that I’m only going to do stuff that yields a wheelbarrow of money (or at least a Starbucks cup worth). But that doesn’t mean I’m not going to try more things. Never know, right? A few things on my hit list for 2015: sell books from my website, create an app for at least one book, ratchet up my editing business with giveaways, lectures, and digital content, make another “graphic-centric” book project, and try a new branding strategy.

Well, this little chat has been nice. But as you can see, I’ve got SO much to do. Until next time!


How about you, dear readers? Have any tips for writing success in 2015? I’d love to hear them!