Monday, December 30, 2013

5 Tips for Living Up To Your New Year's Resolutions

Happy December 30th!

With 2013 almost in our dust, it's time to look at what we hope to achieve in the shiny New Year just ahead. If you're a writer, your New Year's Resolutions may be a big step toward achieving ultimate success.

In the crazy and sometimes frustrating universe of the publishing industry, we need to hack a trail through the jungle of letdowns and rejections. Setting New Year's Resolutions is one form of goal-setting for the coming year that can be an important step in your overall outlook on accomplishment, progress and self-esteem.

But how do you go about setting solid, achievable resolutions? Consider these five tips to help you craft meaningful goals. (Of course, even if you're not a writer, these tips may still work for you.)

The Golden Rule of Resolutions: Effective goal setting happens when we choose goals that we believe we can truly achieve, that we are able to keep in front of us on a daily basis, and that continously help us keep sight of the major achievements we hope to gain.  

1. Identify Your Motivators 
Begin by thinking about what excites you in reference to your goals for the coming year? What are you passionate about? What do you enjoy spending time doing? Maybe you'd like to read more books, learn a new software system, or join a new book club or writers group. What resolutions would be fun and motivating, yet at the same time help direct you toward that more exciting future you envision? How will your resolutions dovetail with your long term goals and dreams? Resolutions shouldn't be tedious chores, they should be things you enjoy doing or truly want to achieve.

"Without leaps of imagination, or dreaming, 
we lose the excitement of possibilities. 
Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning." 
--Gloria Steinem

2. Start Small and Keep Building 
To reach the finish line in a race you first have to take a lot of individual steps, each moving you closer to that ribbon at the finish line. But you don't begin as an olympic athlete, you start as a novice with the initial goal of completing your first run, one foot in front of the other. Whatever your goal, break it down into monthly, weekly, and daily goals. For example, don't set a goal of "winning the Boston Marathon" without building a series of goals to get you there. Review your progress at least once a quarter, and adjust your goals if necessary. Setting your goals impossibly high will often lead to failure, disappointment, and a decreased desire to keep striving.

"It is better to take many small steps in the right direction 
than one giant leap forward only to stumble backward."
- Chinese Proverb

3. Seek Out a Support Group 
Goals are always easier to achieve when you have others cheering you on. Share your goals with your family and let them know what they can do to help support you. Ask about friends', coworkers' or peers' resolutions, and if they're similar to yours, decide what you can do to encourage each other.

"We = Power" -- Lorii Myers  

4. Embrace Defeat 
Setbacks are a certainty, but remember--That's okay! Don't allow a setback to give you an excuse for ditching your resolutions as too hard or unreachable, and don't allow them to become a reason to beat yourself up. See setbacks as learning experiences. Next time you'll be more empowered and better able to succeed.

"Many of life's failures are people who didn't realize 
how close they were to success when they gave up." 
- Thomas Edison 

5. Reward Yourself 
Even small steps are worthy of reward and just as important as the big ones! Don't think "I should have been doing this all along," and instead, praise yourself for striving toward positive change. Achieving goals should never be too easy or you haven't challenged yourself enough.

"Practice makes progress, not perfect." 
- Unanonymous

Your resolutions don't have to be life-changing to be effective, only proactive steps to move you forward on a more positive path.

Setting a goal to drink more water every day may sound trivial, but staying hydrated leads to sharper thinking, avoids fatigue, helps reduce headaches and contributes to better overall health, which may greatly increase your creative capacity. Resolving to get more sleep each night can generate the same positive effects, as can starting an exercise program. Resolutions (and goals) aren't always about achieving great things but creating the groundwork that will help get you there.

"For last year's words 
belong to last year's language 
and next year's words await another voice."
                                 - t. s. eliot

Care to share one or more of your New Years' Resolutions? Please tell us what you hope to achieve in 2014 in the comments below.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

FREE Science Fiction Romance Kindle Titles

Via the SFR Brigade, here's a list of FREE Amazon Kindle Science Fiction Romance titles. Enjoy!

Happy Holidays to You!

Looking for some great holiday reading or just received a shiny new Kindle as a gift and can't wait to fill it with books? Here's our present to you--a list of FREE Science Fiction Romance e-books now available on Amazon. (Some may only be free for a limited time. Hurry!)

Tales from the SFR Brigade
An anthology of eight outstanding SFR stories, some by well known authors in SFR. (If you prefer other formats, the anthology web site also lists free copies on Amazon UK, Amazon Canada, Barnes and Noble, Apple, All-Romance e-Books, Smashwords in many formats, Kobo and Diesel. Click here: Tales From the SFR Brigade Web Site )

Ghost in the Machine (Corwint Central Agent Files)
SFR/Space Opera Romance

Anja's Star (Outer Settlement Agency series)
Space Pirate Opera Romance

Birth of an Empire (Xarrok series)
Military Space Opera Romance

Collateral Damage
Space Station Romance
Also available on Amazon UK, Amazon Canada and others.

How to Date an Alien
A Young Adult/New Age SFR
[Recommended here]

The Demon of Synar
Space Opera Romance

Rebel Heart
Apocalyptic/Futuristic Romance

Suddenly A Bride (Across the Stars series)
Earth-based Alien Romance

Steampunk Romance

Space Junque [aka Samael's Fire)
Apocalyptic Romance

The Titan Drowns
Time-Travel-Titanic Romance

Close Liaisons (Krinar Chronicles series)
Near Future Alien Romance

In Her Name: Empire (In Her Name series)
Alien Romance

The Star Wanderers (Outworlder series)
Space Opera Romance

Thrill of the Hunt
Military Ops SFR Erotica/An Ellora's Cave Presents Naughty Nooner short: *Adult Only Content*

Hunting Evander
SFR Erotica/An Ellora's Cave Presents Naughty Nooner short: *Adult Only Content* can find even more FREE and very inexpensive Science Fiction Romance e-books on The Galaxy Express blog.

Love Science Fiction Romance? You can 'LIKE' the SFR Brigade Fan Page on Facebook to get the latest news and posts in the SFR universe: SFR Brigade Facebook Fan Page

Monday, December 23, 2013

Happy Holidays
from the whole crew at 
Spacefreighters Lounge


Friday, December 20, 2013


Kennex and Dorian ponder a case.

I’m a huge fan of actor Karl Urban (LORD OF THE RINGS, STAR TREK), and I confess I was inclined to like Fox Television’s new SF police thriller Almost Human simply because he was in it.  Urban’s prickly appeal and dry delivery, so at home in the character of Leonard “Bones” McCoy, fits the wounded hero of Detective John Kennex equally well. Thanks to Urban, Kennex is complex and instantly engaging, drawing us into this world of the future, so similar, yet subtly different from our own.

The year is 2048, and, according to the show’s opening intro, the expansion of technology can no longer be regulated.  The bad guys, it seems, are quicker on the uptake than the slow-moving bureaucracy, and crime is proliferating.  Law enforcement’s response is the development of robot police officers to pair up with the human ones, enhancing both their physical and their technological (through computer interface) abilities to fight the good fight.

All well and good, except in Kennex’s case.  Nearly two years ago, the officer was caught in an ambush, one of the worst attacks on the police in the history of the department.  His partner was killed, and Kennex lost a leg in the explosion that also put him in a coma for 17 months.  Every morning now he gets up and attaches a state-of-the art bionic leg that makes him fully functional, but he resents both the technology and the trauma that made it necessary.  He bears both guilt and anger over the ambush that took his partner’s life, and suspects someone inside the police department may have tipped off the gang that carried it out.

So Kennex is not happy when he’s assigned a robot partner.  In fact, he pushes the ’bot out of the police cruiser doing 80 on the highway about 15 minutes into the first episode.  That’s when this story gets really good, with the addition of Michael Ealy (Common Law; BARBERSHOP) as Dorian.  Since the department insists on a robot partner, Kennex taps his not-quite-legit genius friend Rudy (MacKenzie Crook, Pirates of the Caribbean) for something manageable.  Rudy gives him a model that has been “discontinued” because it has proven unstable—one of the DRN series, designed to incorporate human emotions into the matrix of its thinking patterns.

Dorian is perfect for Kennex.  He is a robot that is partly human.  Kennex is a human that is partly a robot.  Kennex growls.  Dorian stays infuriatingly calm.  Dorian worries.  Kennex shrugs it off.  They argue over music in the car.  Dorian gets impatient when Kennex stops to eat (because, of course, he never gets hungry).  But, little by little, they begin to rely on each other, as partners do.  A few episodes in, and we can begin to see  the relationship developing, despite John Kennex’s formidable walls and Dorian’s lack of experience in human relations.

This wouldn’t work if Urban and Ealy weren’t the actors they are.  The chemistry here is terrific.  It doesn’t hurt that the production and writing team is top notch:  Creator/producer J.H. Wyman (Fringe), Executive Producer J.J. Abrams and the Bad Robot gang, among others.  The supporting cast is stellar, too: Minka Kelly (Friday Night Lights); Lili Taylor (Six Feet Under); Michael Irby (The Unit).

Usually by this point I would be apologizing for the SF aspects of the show, arguing that the relational aspects made up for them.  But, surprise!, I don’t have to in this case.  There have been some very cool pieces of tech highlighted in various episodes, without making a big deal of them.  They are either part of the background or something used by a character in the course of the story.  In other words, the tech is integral to the show, as it should be, not an add-on, as it so often is.  

For example, in one early episode, criminals breaking into a corporate headquarters sprayed something onto their faces to obscure their images from any cameras.  Assassins dropped a little “DNA bomb” in a room to scramble any evidence that may have been left at the scene of a murder.  Another recent episode had someone swallowing a substance that made his whole body a transponder.  No wires.  No “bug” to be detected by the bad guys. How?  Who knows?  It was cool!  

So, cheer up, SF fans.  We may not have a lot of shows to pick from in the new crop, but at least we have one good one.  Let us pray to the Nielson gods that Almost Human survives the seemingly-constant culling process that is television nowadays and we can enjoy it into the future.

Ping Pong

Pippa, you have certainly had a spectacularly productive and affirmative year.  Here’s wishing you another just like it in 2014!

And to my co-bloggers and all our loyal readers and friends out there—


Cheers, Donna

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

2013 - Looking Back in Amazement

With just one week until Christmas, and two until the New Year, I decided to do my annual look back over the last twelve months and what's happened in that time. A couple of weeks ago, I was feeling a bit down about my perceived lack of progress, possibly aggravated by not hitting 50K at NaNoWriMo again. So I sat down and had a count through my various manuscripts and added up words. I was stunned to discover I'd written a not unimpressive 100K plus (and that's not including all the blog posts and, um, tweets that I've done). While I'm always of the opinion I could do better, it's not a shabby total. It includes finishing some older projects, writing new ones start to finish, and others still in progress. Although my working year officially ends today (hubs is home from tomorrow, and my three monsters from Saturday) the possibility of squeezing in a few more words for 2013 is there. Of course, despite what I have scheduled for 2014, I expect myself to exceed that next year. Le sigh.
So, where did I clock up all those words? Here's the list -

Written this year
Revived (SFR) - 22K finished
Halloween themed PNR - 12K finished and with editor
RIP (PNR) - 40K in progress and full requested
Darkfall (decopunk superhero) - added 10K, on submission
Secret project (SFR) - added 2K, finished
Flaming Angel (SF) - 6K, finished and on submission
Reboot (cyberpunk) - 6.5K, finished
Vampire spacepirates (SF) - 2K, in progress

On top of those, I have a dozen other projects at various stages and others that I've edited. I'm currently 5191 words into another SFR short that I will try to finish for year's end, but my aim for then was purely to complete Revived and the Secret Project, which are already done. Anything else is pure bonus.
What else did I achieve this year? Well...

1. I had three short stories for anthologies out on submission - SFR short Imprint to Tales of the SFR Brigade, SF Flaming Angel to an inhouse anthology at Champagne Books, and cyberpunk Reboot to the Sword and Lazer antho. Of those, Imprint was accepted and chosen as the first story in Tales (squee!). Flaming Angel is still pending. Reboot was rejected (just to prove that published authors still get the big R). :P
2. Terms & Conditions Apply, the short story I wrote for Misa Buckley's anthology in 2012 but then self published in November of that year placed second in the GCC RWA Silken Sands Self Published Star Contest.
3. I finally completed and polished Tethered (a SFR I started during one of my four attempts at NaNoWriMo) with thanks to Jessica Subject and Dani Fine. It received two rejections before being contracted by Definition House.
4. Keir's Fall, the sequel to Keir, having been rejected by my publisher is now contracted to Definition House.
5. Keir won a SFR Galaxy Award for Best May to September Romance, became a semi-finalist in The Kindle Book Review's Best Indie Book 2013, and placed 2nd as a finalist in the HOD RWA Aspen Gold Contest. I also celebrated his first book birthday in May with a small online celebration and blue-themed party food.
6. I wrote my first paranormal romance holiday themed short, and in just six days! I then started a Christmas themed SFR. Both are scheduled for release next year - I've already set up sign up forms for the cover reveals and releases. The SFR even has a cover already, despite not being complete, while the PNR is with my editor.
7. I'm currently writing a zombie book. I hate calling it that, because it's not your conventional Hollywood zombie. This was my freaky little NaNoWriMo story, which I had to get out of my head and had no plans to publish. However, Breathless Press offered a critiquing event in mid November for NaNo stories, so I sent my five pages and a synopsis and...GOT A REQUEST FOR THE FULL! Shocked is putting it mildly, lol. So now the pressure is on to finish!
8. On the subject of NaNoWriMo, this was my fourth attempt. I didn't make 50K, but at 35K RIP was my longest so far, and my concern was more to have the complete first draft down, which I did. It's all revisions, details and polishing now.
9. The secret project had been sitting on my computer unfinished for over a year, and will now form part of the Kickstarter campaign for Keir's Fall in January. ;)
10. Gethyon (YA SF) and Tales from the SFR Brigade (SFR Antho) both released in June, and so far have received favourable reviews. They also brought my total of published works up to five.

Wow, it's been an eventful year on the writing side! On the personal side, my eldest started senior school and started wearing my size shoes. She's already stolen a pair of my trainers. >.< In May, I got to meet up with my friend Ian Peaston again and watch him perform at the Brighton Fringe. This time I took hubs along. I celebrated my 20th wedding anniversary in May, and in August hit the answer to Life, the Universe and Everything - 42!

Friday, December 13, 2013


Alone again--POI's Reese

Another fall television season is drawing to a close, some shows wrapping up for the year, some until after the holiday hiatus, some, thankfully or regretfully, forever.  And in the season finales of at least two shows I follow, one with a distinctly SF flavor, one having nothing overt to do with SFR, a disturbing trope has raised its ugly head, one that affects SFR more than we realize.

First, the revelation of a personal bias.  Back in the Stone Age, when I first became a fan of anything I could call science fiction romance, around the fifteenth time I watched Jim Kirk suffer through the loss of a love interest on STAR TREK, I began to wonder why the writers felt it was so necessary to eliminate any possibility of a happy ending for him.  That basic question led me to the fan fiction world, where others who had asked the same question had created happy endings (or ambiguous endings, or mere dalliances that didn’t end in disaster) in abundance, not only for Kirk, but also for Spock and all the other original series crew.

Over the years I’ve come to realize that Jim Kirk wasn’t the only, much less the first, serial hero to serve as the literal kiss of death for any woman to enter his orbit.  Ben Cartwright and the BONANZA boys were also famous for this, as was (much later) MIAMI VICE’s Sonny Crockett and probably any other male dramatic lead you could name.

Of course this trope is bull, built on a male fantasy of the need for action heroes to be “free” of any entanglements (especially of the female, emotional kind) in order to be effective.  If this were true, no male police officer, soldier, firefighter, ER doctor, outdoor rescue worker, or the like over the age of about 25 would ever suit up.  Why?  ’Cause most of them get married and have families like normal guys, that’s why.  They fall in love and want to protect their loved ones and still go about their jobs, and, guess what?  Most of the time their loved ones don’t die horribly!  Their divorce rates may be a little higher, what with the risk-taking and the late nights and all, but spousal death rates are likely quite normal.

Romance novels recognize this and allow their heroines to bond with their alpha males—and survive!  Which is why SFR is different from SF and why I began writing it so many years ago.

This brings me to the season finales of PERSON OF INTEREST and SONS OF ANARCHY.  (See, I hadn’t forgotten!)  Here are two very different television shows, written for two very different audiences.  POI is a smooth, tech-y, intricate crime-show-with-a-twist from creator Jonathan Nolan and J.J.Abrams’ Bad Robot shop.  Lead hunk Reese (Jim Caviezel, The Passion of the Christ, The Count of Monte Cristo) is an emotional enigma wrapped in a mystery, a bad guy gone good thanks to the brains of this outfit, Finch (LOST alum Michael Emerson).  Together this pair of misfits and their unlikely allies save the innocent and wreak havoc on the guilty with the help of an all-seeing, all-knowing, possibly-sentient computer network.  It’s darker than it sounds.

SONS OF ANARCHY is writer Kurt Sutter’s violent Shakespearean saga of a California motorcycle gang, led now by second generation Son Jackson Teller (Charles Hunnam, Pacific Rim).  Teller is determined to lead his fractious tribe in a new, less homicidal direction, but every step he takes requires more blood, more lies and more of his soul.  Dark does not describe this one.

So what do these two wildly different shows have in common?   Both ended the season by succumbing to the old “heroes can’t have relationships” trope.


Apologies if you watch these shows on some kind of delay.  I can appreciate that since I don’t watch anything in real time, either.  But I have to vent, so bear with me.  

Technically, we haven’t seen the “end” of POI.  Things are still playing out as Reese goes on the hunt for the bad guys.  But the damage has been done.  In Episode 9, “The Crossing”, the team’s police detective partner, Joss Carter, is killed by the corrupt cop the team has been chasing all season, just after Reese professes his love to her.  Seriously?  Should’ve known she was cannon fodder as soon as he kissed her.  Of course, Reese will revert to his mentally unstable, pre-team days (when he was living on the streets, barely coherent), only now he’ll be murderous, too.

How is this not a cliché?  And a slap in the face to every man who manages to live an emotionally full life while doing whatever kind of job he does?  (I won’t even bother to argue the other side of this—that women seem to handle action and emotion without batting an eye.  We’re “special”, after all.)  

Carter and Reese seemed to make a great team before he declared his love; why couldn’t they continue to be a great team?  Does it make him weak to show emotion?  Is he vulnerable because of it?  Do we suddenly lose huge possibilities for drama because these two people love each other?  Or does the show degenerate into a soap opera of “girlie” stuff?  Do the producers/writers not realize that women watch these shows, too?

Actually, I wasn’t even looking for Carter and Reese to hook up.  It was a surprise.  They gave it to us, then took it away, thus demonstrating their bias.  Men of action don’t need women—they get in the way.  Best to be rid of them, even if it hurts.

As for SOA, Kurt Sutter is famous for killing off his characters, particularly his “good” ones.  I suppose he thinks it makes his drama “gritty” and “authentic”.  Most of the time he’s right.  But in letting us think Jackson Teller and his wife Tara (Maggie Siff) had reconciled, then allowing Gemma Morrow (Katey Sagal) to brutally kill Tara in the season finale, Sutter went too far.  Once again, he shows us that he believes heroes, even anti-heroes, have no use for love and attachment.  Women get in the way of the primary action goal, whatever that may be.  Lose ’em.  Besides, all that grief makes for some cool anger and mayhem.

The problem here is I think too many in the publishing world and, yes, readers, particularly of science fiction, still believe in this particular trope.  They get uncomfortable when we suggest that an alpha male might ride off into the, uh, star cluster with the heroine.  (Heaven forbid that you suggest she might be at the helm!)

Do I believe you should give your hero (and heroine) problems to solve, obstacles to overcome?  Absolutely.  Can that occasionally mean we won’t have a happy ending?  Of course.  Not every love story is a romance.  But recognize all this ma for what it is—a men’s action hero trope, a cliché that is long overdue for a change.  Talented writers can find a better way—and should.

Next week—Want some cool SF tech and Karl Urban, too?  ALMOST HUMAN makes a promising start.

Cheers, Donna

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Writing a Synopsis - Pippa's Method

I don't often do posts on writing advice, mostly because I still feel at heart I'm too much of a novice to be telling other people how to do it. But writing a synopsis is something I often see others wailing over, so I thought I'd share my system for writing one, in case anyone might find it useful.

I have to say it - writing a synopsis is the bane of my life as an author, only slightly outweighed by the challenge of writing a single tagline for a whole series (my debut novel Keir was meant to be book one of five, so being faced with not only blurb, tagline and synopsis for my first book, but a tagline for the entire series had me rocking in a corner). I struggle with them. I suppose if I was a plotter instead of a pantser it might be easier - the plot line wouldn't take much work to transform into a synopsis. But I don't plot, aside from perhaps writing a couple of scenes and putting between them in brackets such helpful notes as 'insert fight scene here' or 'dialogue', or more often the 'needs more here'. O.O

Having finally finished my decopunk superhero romance and sent it off to beta readers [insert author biting nails here], I decided to tackle all the other documents I need for the submission process - blurb, tagline, query letter and synopsis, having researched where I want to submit to (never forget the research, and take careful note of all the submission guidelines!). The blurb I'd already done a rough draft of for Camp NaNoWrimo in August 2012, where the novella began. I'd even done a tagline for my mocked up cover at Camp. I enjoyed doing the query letter, because now I have a few titles under my belt and some nice shiny awards to add to my author pedigree (don't panic about having those things if you're a new author - we ALL started with nothing!). Which just left me the synopsis. The guidelines stated a 2-5 page synopsis, which is pretty generous (I've had to do a half page synopsis for a 100K novel before). However, I'd expect to do 5 pages if I was submitting a 100K novel but maybe not a 40K novella. If you take 5 pages to 100k, that means 20K per page, so 40K should be a 2 page synopsis, which I think is enough. You can find various opinions on the internet of synopsis pages per K of a manuscript, but regardless of that you have to fit into the publisher's requirements.

Set up.
Publisher/agent guidelines vary, but generally it'll be double (or possibly 1.5) spacing, a plain font such as Times New Roman size 12 (don't ever use a fancy font!), with 1.27 first line indents (set this in your template), and standard margins. Some publishers will want a front page with such details as title, author, contact info, word count etc. Some will want author name, title and/or page numbers as a header and/or footer - some will ask that you have no header or footer at all. Always check the submission guidelines carefully! Put your book title and 'synopsis' at the top, and centre.

Breaking it down.
Essentially I start by putting down the number of chapters. In the case of Darkfall, I have eleven. So I write 'chapter <number> as a list, then write 3-5 sentences under each covering the main events in that chapter. Chapter 1 is usually the exception as I need to introduce the characters, the setting, the opening conflict and a bit of back story to set it up. Example -

Chapter 3
Kadie wakes to a cut on her arm. Devastated when Jev sends her back to the lab she had her accident in, she's certain she’ll be punished. Dark comes to the lab, and is apparently shocked by Kadie. On the way home, she leaves the bus to be sick and is accosted by Jev who pushes her into an alleyway. Nightcrawlers attack.

Building it up.
I then expand the explanations/details contained in the three to five sentences, or trim back if I feel that's necessary.

Chapter 3
Kadie wakes to a cut on her arm, still none the wiser to what is happening and devastated when Jev sends her back to the lab where she had her accident, certain she’ll be punished. Dark unexpectedly visits the lab, and is shocked at discovering Kadie there, yet he does nothing to her. On the way home, she exits the bus early to be sick after all the stress, and is accosted by a disguised Jev who pushes her into an alleyway. Nightcrawlers attack them, and Kadie passes out.

Tidying up.
The Chapter headings get deleted, and the sections become paragraphs. Now I read them over and smooth them out into one complete thing, making sure it remains inside the required length.
Here I have to admit I went over. With the 2-5 pages allowance, I didn't see as much reason to trim back as necessary. A couple of my beta readers for the story read over the synopsis for me, catching any little mistakes and making suggestions. After a final run through to check it over, I had just under three pages rather than the two I was aiming for, plus the required title page. 39,500 words condensed into a 1363 word summary.
I hope some of you might find this useful, but if you have a system that works best for you, please share!

Pippa's Journal

Currently I'm waiting on two things out on submission - a scifi short to an inhouse anthology call at Champagne Books, and my decopunk superhero romance. The latter I should know about by early March at the latest. The freaky little NaNoWriMo story that got a request for the full from Breathless Press is still in revisions, and I'm working on a holiday themed scifi romance short that I've already booked to release next winter (I have a cover for it, but I'm not sharing yet, bwahahaa!). The two novellas I wanted finished for the end of 2013 are both complete and awaiting edits. The paranormal short scheduled for release at Halloween 2014 is now with my editor. And next month the Kickstarter being run by my new publisher Definition House for the sequel to Keir - Keir's Fall - will begin. I'm also taking part in two conventions next year - the Stargate con Chevron in April, and LonCon 3 in August - which may also affect what I can release. EEEeeek! At the  moment I can only guarantee two releases - my holiday themed shorts - because I'm self publishing both toward the end of the year. Next year is going to be CRAZY! 

Ping Pong

Oh, dear, I haven't done too well keeping up with my fellow bloggers here lately. Too much time spent in the writing cave! Sorry guys!

Laurie, loved the post on perfectionism. Slightly disturbed at how many I said yes to - although I've always laughingly called myself a perfectionist, the fact that I never felt I was achieving perfection made me believe I wasn't one. I am finding coping mechanisms as I go. A single negative review can negate all my good ones in an instant, but I can handle constructive criticism from my peers these days, for one thing. The setting more achievable aims is definitely a good one. But I definitely can't get over the *headdesk* over little setbacks.

Donna, frankly I'd take a science nerd over a barman or billionaire any day. Oh, wait, I already did! * looks at Analytical Chemist husband* :P (but he can cook too).

Next week I'm going to look back to the start of the year and see how my aims that I set then compare to how the year actually went (which should help with my perfectionism issues, lol).

Monday, December 9, 2013

Eight Signs You May be a Perfectionist and Four Things You Can Do About It

I recently read an article about Perfectionism, and I have to confess, it struck a rather loud chord.

But wait! Perfectionism is a good thing, right? How can having strong work ethics and striving to be your best be bad?

Although our culture tends to reward perfectionists for setting their standards high and striving to meet them, the truth is perfectionists often pay the price in terms of unhappiness and feelings of inadequacy. Writers may be a group that are especially susceptible to the pains of perfectionism, and who can be the most harmed and disillusioned by unrealistic expectations. The first step is to recognize the symptoms.

How do you know if you might be a perfectionist?

You might be a perfectionist if... 
you believe you CAN please all of the people all of the time.

Are you often too eager to please? Perfectionism may have roots in childhood and the encouragement of parents to be an honor roll student, good in sports, class valedictorian, homecoming queen, etc. Fear of not living up to these expectations may begin at a very young age and follow us into adulthood.

You might be a perfectionist if...
Procrastination is your middle name.

Have a tendency to put things off? Although perfectionism can be defined as an intense drive to succeed, it can actually lead to putting things off due to fear of failure. Fear is never a good motivator. 

You might be a perfectionist if...
you feel a need to always wear a billowing "Superwriter" red cape.

Tend to be an overachiever? Perfectionists often take on too many tasks or projects which only sets them up for failure. This, in turn, can feed depression and ultimately suppress creative energy.

You might be a perfectionist if...
you have a hard time sharing your 'super secrets' with anyone else.

Have a hard time opening up to other people? Perfectionists often have difficulties with feeling exposed or vulnerable, and for this reason aren’t willing to discuss fears, disappointments or insecurities, even with those closest to them.

You might be a perfectionist if...
that big, shiny award you just won doesn't seem like it's nearly big or shiny enough.

Have constant feelings of inadequacy? If you tend to focus on what you haven’t accomplished rather than what you have, you may think of yourself as a failure and lack the self-esteem required to become a success. This in turn can lead to bouts of depression, withdrawal and lack of self-esteem.

You might be a perfectionist if...
Every bad review or less than stellar critique is a reason to don the boxing gloves.

Take things personally? When you’re a perfectionist, every criticism may feel like a personal attack. Instead of using constructive criticism as a way to learn and grow, perfectionists tend to let negative feedback fuel their self-doubts of not being good enough.

You might be a perfectionist if...
you always feel like you're coming up short and never feel like you've arrived.

Never feel like you’re getting anywhere? Perfection is to dream the impossible dream, so perfectionists usually have feelings they aren’t where they need to be, their manuscript isn’t ready, they aren’t talented enough, etc.

You might be a perfectionist if...
you have a major *headdesk* over every little setback.

If you're a perfectionist, you may beat yourself up over every misstep and guilt-yourself-to-death about not being a huge success, an overnight sensation, or even at the same level as some of your more successful peers.

So what do you think? Are you a perfectionist?

If you answered "YES" (even quietly, in your head) to at least half of the above, then yeah. You might be a perfectionist. And perfectionism could be short-circuiting your writing career and generally making you feel miserable about yourself and your work.

So we have to face it. "Perfect" is not an achievable thing.

Not every writer is going to win every contest, publish with every query, receive all five star reviews, or rocket to the top of the best sellers lists overnight. In fact, only a tiny fraction will ever see this level of success. Does that mean they're a failure? Not in the least. Most successful authors only got where they are by learning to cut themselves a little slack.

So if you think you might have perfectionist tendencies, you may be wondering if there's a way off the endless hamsterwheel. There's definitely a different way to think about goal-setting, and it may not be as hard as you might think to press the reset button.

1. Go ahead, give yourself permission to set your goals at a more achievable level.

Writers are dreamers. It's just part of who we are. Having big dreams is not a bad thing, but keep in mind how often (and how few) authors hit the big time. Recognize that you're probably not going to get there with your first novel--and that's perfectly okay! Instead focus on more realistic goals. Success is often a long and winding stairway, not an express elevator to fame and fortune. If you set out to achieve the miraculous, you're almost guaranteeing yourself a hefty dose of disappointment. Small steps, Paduwan, small steps.

2. Strive for "progress" not "perfect."

Think of your goals as little steps instead of giant leaps. Making progress up that long, winding staircase is only going to feel good if you're not expecting to leap up flights at a time. Expecting to do so is most likely setting yourself up fall. Hard.

3. Reward yourself for the small victories.

Big victories are usually built on a lot of smaller ones--just like the Great Pyramids were built on a lot of smaller blocks of stone. Reward yourself for what you DO achieve. Keep a notebook of successes. Create a special Calendar of Achievement. Make yourself a certificate of achievement for your latest met goal to hang on the wall as a reminder that you're moving forward. The truth is you aren't going to attain every goal you set. Celebrate your triumphs instead of feeling like a failure for not achieving the pie-in-the-sky summits most writers only dream of.

4. Learn to limit your goal-setting.

Don't try to spread yourself too thin. Setting too many goals can be as bad as setting goals that are too difficult to achieve. Think about what really matters to you, your career and other areas of your life and focus on those goals. Keep it simple. Set just a few and only add another once you achieve one of those. That's not to say you shouldn't think about your long term goals, only that you shouldn't expect to achieve them tomorrow.

Want to learn more? You can read about Perfectionism at these sites...