Saturday, January 10, 2015

Rhonda Marks Guest Blog - A New Year, A New Goal

Happy New Year!

I know you’ve all been saying that phrase or have been greeted with those words for the past week and a half, but are you really happy about the New Year? Did you make a long list of resolutions? Have you given up already or are you like me who hasn't even made the effort to start?

There’s a funny thing about being a woman my age (I’m a month away from being fifty-five): for the most part I’ve been-there-seen-that. Not much surprises me anymore. I guess that’s one of the benefits of being a seasoned individual. From the time I was a teen, I made my obligatory new year’s resolutions then promptly forgot about them and reverted to my old ways. Now I just skip that step altogether and try to make changes when I’m sure I can stick with them.

Change is hard, but especially so when you’ve declared to the world what your intentions are. It’s taken me decades to realize that my actions speak louder than words. For example, for years I told anyone who would listen that I was going to write a book. I had the names of my characters and a thrilling plot. Beside my bed were notebooks filled with ideas and half written scenes. You know where this is going, right?

In 2009, I attended Romantic Times Book Reviews Convention and entered Bobbi Smith’s contest for aspiring writers. I entered an excerpt from my novel, Making Time for Love and guess what? I won! One of my prizes was the opportunity to submit my novel to Bobbi’s agent to determine if he’d represent me. The problem? I hadn’t finished the damn book! A serious fire was lit when I was given two months to finish that book. And I did it. I carried my Alphasmart with me wherever I went. It was rough, but I did it. And the wonderful Evan Marshall agreed to represent me.

In 2014 I vowed to release a novella series and ramp up my backlist. Following advice from self-publishing queen Liliana Hart, I released the first three stories in my Who’s Your Daddy series in March 2014. Over the next several months, I published the last three stories. Then in December, I released my full length novel, Making Time for Love. Whew!! So what’s next, you say? This year I will be writing more novels and possibly branching out into paranormal and historical romance. I love both genres and want to stretch my writing muscles a bit. Maybe I’ll submit a few novels to a traditional publisher instead of self-publishing them. This is a new year and anything is possible.

What’s your excuse for not writing that breakthrough novel, getting into shape, or pursuing that goal you think about 24/7? Do you need to take an online course or two? Do you need to retain a personal trainer or join a gym? Have you been thinking about attending a writer’s convention but feel intimidated because you don’t know anyone? Stop the excuses and be about it! In 2008 I got on a plane and flew to San Francisco, my first time on the west coast, to attend that year’s Romance Writers of America conference. I knew no one, and I’m a certified introvert. If I can do it, you can too.

Let’s make 2015 the best year of our lives. We can do this!

Rhonda Marks

Amazon Author Page

Thursday, January 8, 2015

New Year. New Focus.

Hello My Friends!

Everyone says that the New Year is a time for reinvention. That as of January 1st, the past year and all of the challenges we faced are gone. Three-hundred and sixty-five days is a long time. If we can have one night to make all of those days, including the mistakes, disappear and float away into a beautiful memory, then why not? Bad days and long nights forgotten in a deluge of champagne toasts and midnight kisses. For me, it's primarily the "idea" of a new beginning that makes me yearn for January 1st each and every year.

We all want to believe that everyone has a chance for a do-over. That if we want to do something different with our lives, be someone better, that all we have to do is wait for that final 10-second countdown at the stroke of midnight. That annual reset of the clock. It's a wonderful concept and one that can give us a false sense of renewal. Why do I say this?

As individuals and authors, we can reinvent ourselves at any time. The calendar should not dictate when we decide to reset the clock or flip the hourglass over to allow the sands of time to begin anew. We can start that journey at anytime. And we should. At least once a week, I commit to doing something better, different, and with more passion. Whether my goal is to be a better writer, self-editor, blogger, mother, friend, etc., I dedicate myself to doing better. Do I always meet my goal? No. But the point is that I try.

One of my author friends posted something on Facebook recently and I understood her words and her frustration all too well. As authors, we give so much of ourselves to our books. Regardless if the books are 10,000 words or 100,000, when we finally hit "Submit" and post that book for sale, we often sit with fingers crossed, waiting for that first sliver of feedback. That first review on Amazon that gives us the validation that what we have poured our blood, sweat and tears into, has been accepted and welcomed by our readers. It is not easy. For most of us, we LOVE to write and we will never stop doing what we love. There are readers who will stick by us, come hell or high water, and I will remain loyal to them as long as they are loyal to us.

But, I digress. Back to improvements and doing better in 2015. Earlier today when I was working my regular day job, I read an article that came across my email and I was hooked. It spoke to me. It helped me put things in perspective. It motivated me and gave me perspective. There are several things I took from that article and I hope to remember these three items for the next 12-months.

1) Clarity - Who exactly am I writing for? Myself and my target audience. That's it! If I try to focus on writing books for someone else, they will fail. They won't have my voice, so I need to know and understand exactly who I'm writing for.

2) Focus - The specifics and quality of the story is EVERYTHING. Unless the story is good, it won't matter how much time I spent on the story. It's not good enough for my readers and they will let me know. In no uncertain terms!

3) Visibility - Assuming that readers will find me and somehow be inexplicably drawn to my wonderful stories is extremely naive. If I want this, I need to WORK for it. That means, being involved with readers, posting snippets of books, connecting with people who think the way I do and maybe, just maybe, love the same way.

I love writing. I really, really love writing. Creating characters and stories that others can relate to and love to read about, makes this all worth it. There is so much to be done during the next year and I hope that all of you will continue on this journey with me. There is a lot that I want to accomplish this year and I feel strongly that I'm on the right path. There are at least three novellas that will be published this year. I may even have a few surprises for everyone.

Yes, the beginning of the New Year is all about having a new focus and reinventing yourself. Just remember, the calendar doesn't dictate when you can be more and do better. Only you can determine how you want to make your mark on the world.

It's been said that it's best to "Speak softly and carry a big stick." I say....Step into this bitch by kicking down the door and announcing your presence. Who's with me?

Love and Hugs,