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How bad do you want it?

Balance Pixabay

While listening to the Sell More Books Show podcast the other day (I believe it was Episode #182), something one of the hosts said struck a cord. They were discussing life distractions, such as social media, and how at times they needed to tune it out in order to complete their projects. The discussion interested me, since I myself have been struggling with finding time to write among social media distractions and my other obligations. Then one of the hosts said, “How bad do you want it? Are you going to shut stuff down and get it done, or not? It’s up to you.” And with that, I realized that I need to get myself back on track – I need some balance.

There is no denying life gets in the way, I know that more than I would like to admit. But, when I think back to what I accomplished when I had way less time on my hands,  I shake my head in amazement and wonder how I possibly got it all done. I wasn’t all that much younger, although at my age five years can make a big difference, but my goal at the time was different. Writing my first book and seeing it in print was my focus, which I achieved in 2015. After that, I quickly realized that in order to support my passion, I needed to learn to market myself (aka: sell some darn books). Building an author platform has been my focus ever since, but it requires a ton of dedication and time, and leaves little opportunity for me to work on “fun” stuff. While the marketing and social media knowledge base was necessary, it does eat into my writing time which has been non-existent with the crazy summer we’ve had. The time I spent learning those skills was well worth it, but now I need to find the time to write as well or these stories inside me will never come out. Here is where Jim’s question comes in – how bad do I want it?

To work on fun stuff? The answer is simple, I don’t have a choice, I can’t live without it. I am a writer, and the words need to flow. If they don’t, they bottle up and eventually come out in ways that would make Stephen King cringe. So how bad DO I want it? Pretty DAMN bad. And what am I going to do about it? I am going to make a date with myself to write! In my mind it is no different than making a doctor’s appointment, lunch date, or finding time to watch television. If I can make time to schedule those things, I can certainly find time to write.

2018 will be a year of change for me, a year that I will take myself seriously and commit to learning my craft. It will also be a year that I will make dates with myself, and will learn to balance all my other obligations in a way that suits all the people I love. Balance must be my focus moving forward, so I can ensure that my creativity is allowed to breathe. It was handy that I found this amazing magnet while shopping the other day, which now has a prominent position on my fridge. It reminds me what to focus on moving forward, and is frankly the core theme for my Power of Four series.

Balance Pic

So now I ask you, what is it that you want and how bad do you want it? And, more importantly, what are you going to do about it? I hope your answer is to make time for your passion and to follow your dreams… and don’t forget to keep everything in balance! I know that will be my focus!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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4 Authors – 4 Different Pitches

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Recently, the Muse Crew attended a writer’s conference during which four of the members pitched to attending agents. This was a first time experience for each of us, and even though we each write in different genres, the feedback I received from each member had common threads. I thought others might be interested in our experiences, so I summarized my questions and the responses below:

  1. What type of genre is the story (or stories) you pitched?
    • L – Historical Fiction
    • M – Psychological Fiction
    • S – Literary Fiction
    • D – Fantasy Romance
  2. What type of genre was the agent looking for?
    • L – Various, including Historical Fiction.
    • M – Various, but thought my novel might fit better under Women’s Fiction.
    • S –  Various, stated that Literary Fiction was a “hard sell”
    • D – Fantasy, Romance, and stories with diversity.
  3. What was your “elevator” pitch, or one line “hook?”
    • L – Did not narrow pitch down to one line.
    • M – “What would you do if circumstances made you question reality as you know it?”
    • S – “Mordy is the world expert on a strange Amazonian language. When he goes to the jungle to study the language, he finds himself caught up in the indigenous resistance to the oil companies.”
    • D – “If fate gifted four unsuspecting women with the powers of the elements, earth, air, fire and water, how would it impact their lives and the lives of the men who love them?”
  4. What was the one question you felt was important to ask, and what was the response?
    • L – “What type of story are you looking for in Historical Fiction?” – Agent shared what she needed to take it to a publisher. The more I learned what she was looking for, the more I saw how my own story matched her needs. Once I shared this with her, she was much more interested in my story.
    • M – “If you’re not interested, can you recommend someone who would be?” – Agent agreed to pass on the submission to someone she thought might be interested.
    • S – Did not pose a question.
    • D – “If I have already self-published the first book of a series, would you be interested in my writing?” – Agent shared that while the story sounded like something she would be interested in, she was looking for something that hadn’t been previously published.
  5. Did the agent ask for a submission? If so, what was the outcome?
    •  L – Yes. Stated could be sent whenever it was ready, even if 6 months or a year from now.
    • M – Yes. Agent arranged to have it forwarded to others she thought might be interested. She stated she personally wasn’t in the market for novellas.
    • S – Yes. Submission was sent but was not picked up.
    • D – No. Stated she would not want to see already published work/series, but offered to look at my next piece of work should I chose to submit it.
  6. Was the overall experience positive?
    • L – Yes. It was positive to have a submission requested, and I feel like I understand the process better now.
    • M – “I highly recommend doing this! It forces you to practice describing your work in a concise way, it gives you an idea if your story ideas are interesting to those who market them, and after it’s done, you realize that you need to be able to describe all your works clearly, which in the end, helps you sell books!”
    • S – “Instructive, at least.”
    • D – Yes. The entire process was well worth participating in, even if the outcome was that only my next body of work would be considered. This also gave me a contact whom I have now met, that I can submit to in the future.  The process forced me to think about the core of my story in a simple and impactful way.
  7. Now having experienced your first pitch, what advice would you give a writer preparing for their first?
    • L – “Pitch to an agent in your genre. Research your genre to find out what is currently being sought after, then consider how your story matches. Think of it like a job interview – find out what they want, then share what you have to offer and how you can meet their needs.”
    • M – “Do your research and pitch to the right person for your book. Also, practice that pitch! Don’t wing it. Also, remember agents are people too. Know your book and pitch it in an interesting and concise way.”
    • S – “Keep in mind that they can’t really tell without seeing the work. I think agents misunderstood my genre, and that’s sort of my fault.”
    • D – Practice, practice, practice! Say your pitch until it flows from your tongue naturally and without thought. Also, check out the agents/editors ahead of time and research what they like to represent. Their websites will list what they are looking for and other authors they represent, which will give you an really good idea if you would be a good fit for them. If you have time prior to the pitch, download and read books by authors they partner with.
  8. Any comments or helpful suggestions?
    • L – “Consider what other popular authors in your genre, have a similar writing style to your own. Often agents will ask you about your favorite author or if your writing is similar to any well known author. Agents also like to know if you have published anything else, if you are working on anything else and whether your story is more plot driven or character driven. Be prepared to answer these questions.”
    • M – “Think about where your book would be in a bookstore. What authors would your book fit between (if it wasn’t alphabetical).
    • D – You have less than 15 minutes to shine, so put your best foot forward. Make sure your pitch nails the core of your story in a clear and concise way, and keep the tone conversational. An agent is someone that you are looking to partner with and ultimately you both have to have the same belief that your book is something special. Even if the answer is no, be prepared to ask questions so that you can learn from the experience.

If you are planning on pitching to an agent, the Muse Crew wishes you the best of luck! When you pitch – remember to breathe and have fun with it! And keep in mind, each experience brings you one step closer to your author goals, so be sure to get the most out of everything you do!

For more information on developing your pitch, check out one of my recent posts here.

Recap: Soundtrack of my Life

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For anyone who has been following me from the start, you have probably seen various entries under the title Soundtrack of my Life. In celebration of recently posting number 10 in the series, I decided it would be fun to put them all in one post, or album.

Soundtrack #1 – “I’ve Lived” by One Republic

Soundtrack #2 – “Give” by LeAnn Rimes

Soundtrack #3 – “In my Room” by Wilson Phillips

Soundtrack #4 – “Mele Kalikimaka” by Bing Crosby

Soundtrack #5 – “Star Wars – Title Song” by John Williams and Christopher Franke

Soundtrack #6 – “Break my Stride” by Matthew Wilder

Soundtrack #7 – “Something More” by Sugarland

Soundtrack #8 – “Can’t Stop the World” by The GoGos

Soundtrack #9 – “The Climb” by Miley Cyrus

Soundtrack #10 – “Five More Minutes” by Scotty McCreery

Thank you all for joining me on my journey, would love to know what some of the songs are on your album! Feel free to share some of the music that means the most to you in your life in the comments!

Photo by Jenelle Ball on Unsplash

 

Researching: Zugarramurdi, Spain

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The best part of writing for me is when my random thoughts end up taking me in a completely different direction. Frustrating to say the least, but wow what a great ride it ends up being! For me, it takes writing the first 3 or 4 chapters until I get a pretty good idea of the character’s personality, or voice. It takes about 6 to 8 chapters until I start to see the world through their eyes, which is when the fun begins!

Earlier this month I was sorting through the development of my latest main character, Sera, who will harness the element of Fire. When I started the book I had a pretty clear vision of what she would look like, what age she would be, where she would live, her ethnicity and her occupation. What I didn’t know was that her grandmother’s name would be Mila(not Freya), that Sera would herself heat up to the point of combustion (still working on that bit), and that her elemental portal wouldn’t be in Sedona, AZ where it was originally planned. Nope, since I am 7 Chapters in, Sera is starting to tell me what is going on her life, and has taken me to Zugarramurdi, Spain.

I am still in the midst of researching this wonderful location that I stumbled across (yes I was googling), but what has excited me from the start is it’s historical significance to the Inquisition. The fact that it mirrors what happened in Salem, MA as relates to those who were thought to be witches is something I find facinating.  Zugarramurdi is a small town with very few residents, in fact less than 250, but they seem to have interesting facts and scenery that will tie in beautifully with Sera’s story.

While I am not quite ready to share the specifics, (since let’s face it at this stage one of the characters could make me change it), I did want to share a few links from this magical location that Sera will most assuredly find her elemental portal. I just love finding new places!  What are some of the locations your writing has taken you unexpectedly?

For more information on Zugarramurdi, Spain follow these links:

Zugarramurdi Town Hall

Witches Museum

The Cave of Zugarramurdi

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

 

Kerrytown Bookfest – Ann Arbor, MI

Sunday, September 10, 2017 – 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

The Muse Crew will be participating in the Kerrytown Bookfest tomorrow and we would love to see some friendly faces! There will be plenty to do and see and it is a wonderful time of year to walk around Kerrytown!

You can find the festival schedule at: https://www.kerrytownbookfest.org/2017-schedule

Be sure to check out the awesome authors represented also! You can link to their page here: https://www.kerrytownbookfest.org/2017-authors

Lastly, here are the exhibitors, including yours truly, that will be there. Be sure to show them some love! https://www.kerrytownbookfest.org/2017-exhibitors

Hope to see you there!

Soundtrack of my Life – Entry #10

I’ve said it before, that Country just isn’t my thing, but this song by Scotty McCreery came to me at the the perfect time, through a very special person (who happens to adore Country), and is now a permanent part of my soundtrack. The song makes me think about all the times I wished for five more minutes and what it would be like if those minutes never came. It reminds me that life is short and each memory we make is precious. It also reminds me of the quote by James Dean, the plaque I have hanging in the room where I write, “Dream as if you’ll live forever, live as if you’ll die today.” Lastly, it reminds me why, after all of these years, I am writing again.

Dream. Dean

I have had a ton of “five more minute” points in my life, and while I try not to live with regret, there are always moments you wish you could take back or extend. It is human nature to live in retrospect and there are countless people in my life that I have lost that I would love to spend a little more time with. The memories we made are what get me through, and I honor each one of them by spending as much time as I can with the people I love. An important part of that is making sure those people know how I feel about them, which is why I feel that the act of writing, and sharing that gift is so powerful. It gives the writer “five more minutes” to get their point across for years, decades, sometimes even centuries, touching the lives of countless people along the way. Even for non-writers, the act of jotting down thoughts, dreams, and hopes for the ones you love, will often be the most cherished gift you can leave behind.

So for the people who are only with me in my heart, thank you for the joy you continue to bring me through memories of our time together. For my writer friends, thank you so much for filling my life with words that have brought me laughter, love and adventure. For my non-writer friends, thank you for giving me a trunk full of experiences that I can examine and relive when my days are dark. And for anyone who has a dream they haven’t followed, don’t wait. Make sure you live your life to the fullest, so you never, ever, have to wish for five more minutes…

Finally back on track!

What a crazy summer it has been so far, but I am happy to say that I am finally back on track!  I haven’t made as much progress on Book 3 as I would have liked, but am trying not to be too hard on myself since life has a tendency of getting in the way. It can’t be helped…but it’s okay!  I’ve been having a ton of fun getting out to the book festivals and meeting people who love to read almost as much as I love to write!

The Muse Crew participated at the Ann Arbor Book Festival in June and the Detroit Bookfest at Eastern Market in July. I met a lot of great people at both events, and look forward to doing them both next year. If you weren’t able to make either of those events, please be sure to come and see me at the Kerrytown Bookfest in Ann Arbor on September 10th. You can find information about the event at: www.kerrytownbookfest.org.

So what about Book 3?  Well…what I can tell you is this next story is about Fire, and my heroine Sera is a bit more…shall we say…vintage! I really wanted to have a character that was older, and who was feeling their age more than they would like to admit. Pretty easy to relate to her aches and pains, so sad to say won’t need to find a subject matter expert for her character! The man she is destined for isn’t necessarily someone that would be her first choice, and I plan on making them both jump through a ton of hoops before realizing they are meant for one another. I can be mean that way…but we all know that in the end they will both get their Happily Ever After!

Stay tuned for updates on Facebook and Twitter, and for anyone who is interested you can check out my story boards on Pinterest.

 

 

 

Character Interview – Zilla

So, I recently posted an interview I had with Author Melissa Keir, and Zilla decided to get into the action as well!  The link to her interview is posted below, and thankfully, she didn’t have anything negative to say about me! I actually didn’t mind getting to know her better, since she is a little hard to get close to.

http://www.melissakeir.com/blog/character-in-the-hot-seat-zilla-from-the-power-of-four

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Check out my Author Interview!

Recently, I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Author Melissa Keir and I am excited to provide a link to her website below.  While you are there checking out my interview, please be sure to take a peek at her books, or write a comment on her blog!

http://www.melissakeir.com/blog/interview-with-da-henneman-in_the_spotlight

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#Writing Cave

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I will be taking advantage of the long weekend, and heading into my writing cave for the next few days. I can’t tell you what a special treat that will be… 4 full days of writing time to really get rolling on Sera and Logan’s story!  I also have some other ideas brewing for stand-alone novels that I am itching to get started on. Keep your fingers crossed that the stars will align and grant me the time I am counting on! I really need to get these voices out of my head and down onto paper! I know it sounds crazy…but sadly it’s true!

I hope everyone has a wonderful Independence Day, and if you swing by my writing cave, be sure to bring some snacks! I especially like chocolate covered cashews!

Happy writing!