If I had my time over

I first read this many years ago now, and it is one of those passages that stays with you. I take it back out every now and then and read it, and remind myself to get on with living life.

If you have seen it before, then I hope it is a wonderful reminder. If it is new, then enjoy.

 

If I had my time over I’d like to make mistakes next time.

I’d relax, I would limber up.

I would be sillier than I have been this trip.

I would take fewer things seriously.

I would take more chances.

I would climb more mountains and swim more rivers.

I would eat more ice-cream and less beans.

I would perhaps have more actual troubles and fewer imaginary ones.

You see I am one of those people who live sensibly and sanely hour after hour and day after day. Oh, I’ve had my moments and if I had to do it over again, I’d have more of them. In fact I’d have nothing else. Just moments. One after another, instead of being so many years ahead of each day.

I’ve been one of those people who never goes anywhere without a thermometer, a hot water bottle, a raincoat and a parachute. If I had to do it again, I would travel lighter than I have.

If I had my life to live over, I would start barefoot earlier in the spring, and stay later in the fall. I would go to more dances. I would ride more merry-go-rounds. I would pick more daisies.

                                           Nadine Stair Aged 85 Louisville, Kentucky.

How to achieve your dreams by setting realistic goals

Everyone has dreams and aspirations, places that we want to be physically, mentally, or spiritually that wrap themselves up into this thing called a goal. We all have different degrees of commitment to these goals, and different levels of likelihood in achieving them. For example a 90 year old man may have a dream of becoming a NASA pilot, but this is probably not going to happen in reality. However, a 5 year old kid who is passionate about planes and dreams of being an airline pilot, has every chance of achieving this with the right level of determination, and the mental/ physical capability to back it up. In other words, your goal has to be realistic.

I asked myself what my goals were professionally and personally, and whether I had clearly defined them.

Ok, yes I had.

Then I asked myself how determined I was to achieve this goal, and how likely attainment was to happen.

Ok, yes very determined, and yes, I do believe it is very likely to happen. It was inevitable even.

I found that the more that I thought about it, the more impossible failure seemed.

I have always thought of myself as a person who drifted through life, but I realised that in fact I did not, I simply moved slowly, and with a ‘practical’ and ‘realistic’ lens towards what I wanted to achieve. I was surprised to find that I felt full commitment and determination to achieving my dreams.

So why was I feeling so confident?

If you have never heard of the business motivation model, then it’s something worth looking up. This paper is on the ‘heavy side’ but I will show you some of the high-level principles here which are pretty quick and easy to apply.

There are 4 Major steps to set yourself up for success in achieving your dreams, and I promise these are super easy to do 🙂

  1. Set your Vision and Mission
  2. Establish your high-level strategies
  3. Set high-level goals
  4. Set low-level focus goals

STEP 1: So what is the business motivation model and how does it help us to achieve our dreams?

Well it all centres around what you want to be i.e. your vision or end goal.

Feeding into this is your mission. The mission is the means to your end.

In other words the mission is the shift that needs to happen to take you from where you are now to where you want to be.

So a vision or end state might be

<Be a top 100 author in my sub-genre>

<Be the best pizza company in town>

A mission or means to achieve this might be

<Sell>< my books>< on Amazon>

<Sell><Pizza><City-wide>

<Action> <Product or Service><Market or customer>

mision to vision

See, I told you it was easy 🙂

Now, you are probably thinking, OK that doesn’t help me very much, it’s pretty obvious I am not going to be a top 100 author unless a sell some books.

So this is where we further break the vision and mission down into high level strategies, and goals.

STEP 2: The strategies sit under your vision. They feed up into it. For example to be a top 100 author I will need:

  • a social media strategy
  • a writing skill strategy
  • a reading list strategy
  • a writing strategy
  • a publishing strategy
  • a marketing strategy

If I am going to be a successful writer, I am going to need all of these things for certain. Your strategies stay non specific, or non measurable i.e. they are just a theme we use to base our goals around.

STEP 3: Your goals, sit under you mission, they are measurable, and they are aligned to our strategic themes. This is where we start to see something tangible. The moment you put some numbers against it, you have something to aim at. Some example goals could be:

  • increase your blog following from x to y by z date (for social media strategy)
  • complete a literary writing course by a set date (for writing skills strategy)
  • complete a new book every year (for writing and publishing strategy)

These are all measurable things, tangible things, and clearly defined things.

STEP 4: If you want to, you can break these high level goals down into shorter term or focus goals.

For example if you have a goal to complete a writing course, then you may break this down into the following focus goals:

  • researching courses and finding suitable course
  • booking course
  • attending course
  • completing course modules
  • passing course

There is something quite magical about ticking these short-term goals off. Especially when you are aiming to do something as slow moving and long term as becoming a published author. But with any goal you have in life, it is really important to break-up the bigger task into manageable chunks, so you have the opportunity to stop and appreciate how far you have come at each step along the way.

People who set short term focus goals are much more likely to achieve their high-level goals. Ultimately, they achieve their vision. They stay motivated!

Now, we are getting somewhere! And by now you are probably thinking, why don’t I just get right into setting my goals and focus goals? Why do I need all this vision, mission and strategy stuff.

Well the reason is:

  • Unless we know where we want to be, how will we ever know when we get there?
  • If we don’t have a clear vision of what our success is, there is a real risk we can get sidetracked and end up in a different destination, or worse, simply not get anywhere at all.
  • Life is full of roadblocks that halt progress, and it will be much easier to adapt if you have a clear idea of where you want to be.

As we move through our journey towards achieving our dreams it is important that we make constant checks along the way to ensure we are still on track, and that we are still heading where we intend to. Adjusting the course is easy if you spot when you are drifting off it early on.

SMART Goals – setting up for success

Each goals (whether the high level or shorter term focus goal) should be SMART. Which stand for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant/realistic and Time constrained.

By <DD/MM/YY> I will <do x>

My personal feeling is that if you know what you want to achieve, and you know how to break this down into steps along the way, and you are realistic, you will ALWAYS achieve you ultimate vision.

If you are not a great planner, then this is a really simple way to set yourself up for success.

You can take this further by looking at how you allocate time to each of the goals so you get the right mix of effort against them i.e. it is really easy to loose yourself in social media to the detriment of actual writing! I know busy authors who keep a tight schedule to make sure they give each of their strategies the right amount of time. I will look at this in the next post.

Being an introvert – the active listener

Historically, it was reported that only 25% of the population was introvert. Focus has shifted in recent years and it is now believed the proportion of introvert/ extrovert is much closer to 50%.

Many people consciously or subconsciously smother introvert tendencies, particularly in western cultures where extroverts are still seen as the ‘preferred’ personality style.  Learning to be content with your personality, and to accept it is a huge part of becoming the happiest and the greatest version of you.

I feel very fortunate to have a father who is an introvert, and understands exactly what I, as another introvert, needs from a parent-offspring relationship. There is no-one, husband excepted, that I would rather talk to than my father. There are many reasons for this, but an important one would be my father’s natural style of active listening. It’s not just about the listening though, it’s about another person who is fascinated by the same things. We talk via Skype in bursts that can be anything from 5 mins to an hour, and neither of us is offended if we decide on any day to cut it short, and yet we frequently do find ourselves delving into topics that interest us for a considerable length of time.

For my father and I, people are often our focus, their reactions, their inexplicable acts, their emotions or lack of them. People, and every nuance of what makes them tick, fascinate us. We both also feel things very deeply, whether it is harsh words, or an act of kindness, and for this reason too much interaction with others can exhaust us, at which point we retreat into our hermit shell.

The hermit moment is where we shut down the active listing, and usually results in the person with us asking ‘Are you alright? Have I done something wrong? Why are you not talking to me?’,  which is amusing given both myself and my father rarely dominate the conversation. Sometimes we just feel the need to be quiet and to sink back inside our own heads. When we reach overload and switch off, people immediately miss our rapt and unobtrusive attention.

In social situations, I sit back and allow others to speak, interjecting only occasionally with an observation that is usually related to the other person and in particular their thoughts, feeling, or emotions that they often don’t even realise for themselves. I spend long amounts of time analysing conversations after trying to unpick every detail, and understand what it means. I feel a sense of genuine empathy with their struggles or delight in their successes, and feel their happiness or sadness like a reflection in myself. I think about how I would feel if their situation was happening to me, and then multiply this by how much I care about the person I am talking to—like an emotional amplifier. For a moment it is as if I do not exist, and I am pulled completely into their world.

Experiencing this emotional avalanche from interactions with other people is exhausting, which is why I head back to hermit-land, and it is one of the reasons I am fiercely protective of my solitude.

So being an active listener is obviously a great virtue, so what’s the downside?

Well, unfortunately we are very selective, and allow only a few carefully considered individuals to reach the coveted status of capturing our interest. Most people don’t, and we are not very good at pretending to be interested in what someone is saying if it does not interest at all. In fact we would probably come across at best as distant, or aloof. Others may even see out lack of interaction as just plain rude.

To us, false smiles, or worse pretending to be interested in someone, is the hight of hypocrisy, and to attempt it would make us feel a fake and a fraud. Conversely, there is nothing we like less than someone who shows less than genuine interest in us. We can spot such manoeuvres from a mile and instantly try to extract or distance ourselves from person or persons involved.

Being an introvert and a naturally active listener, can be a great asset in life. It is also something that can be transferred to a work situation as long as you are doing something that you love.

Practicing extending the circle, and allowing others into that select inner group is also one of my focuses, and especially important to an introvert who would naturally shy away from new experiences and people. We should always allow ourselves an opportunity to meet new people with new ideas, and I love the thought that there are new people I am yet to meet, who may turn out to be a great and lifelong friend.

Somewhere new! #writing #amwriting

I don’t normally work in the dining area, but it has started to turn chilly in the evenings so I cranked up the log burner. The table just happens to be in comfortable proximity, and I can make the most of the toasty warmth while I write.

Toasty warm!

I also happen to live in a house with walls that look like a castle (and they are about as thick), which creates a good writerly atmosphere. My office doesn’t have the mighty walls so it feels interesting sitting down here for a change.

I’m doing a little rework on my new book this week. Added about 5k to the start after some feedback, and I’m pleased with the way it is going. I love getting beta feedback and I have plenty to work on at the moment before I move on to my next book in the series.

I’ve been playing about with section breaks. I usually write quite small chapters, but this time I’m going larger, and trying POV swopping where the scenes flow into one another. I never realized this was so complex! If you are looking for some information on chapters and section breaks, here are a couple of great articles I found.

7 Methods for Handling Point-of-View Changes

The Secret to Section Breaks

Happy writing 🙂

Holidays, books and being a writer! #writing #amwriting #writerslife

“I’m a writer. My hobbies include not writing.”

I have a bit of a fixation with writing memes, and the above was my favourite from this week. I’ve been on holiday in Brisbane for the last 10 days, and even though I’m on holiday I’ve found it hard to tear myself away from my story. I was sitting in a coffee shop, doing the final read of book 3 from my trilogy before hitting publish, when this meme popped up. Needless to say, it made me chuckle.

I dabbled in writing for so many years before I published, and the moment I did publish it was like BOOM I’m addicted. I really don’t have any other hobbies now…except walking or maybe gardening, because walking and gardening mean you can still think about writing!

Win, win!

Some pictures from my Brisbane trip…

Enoggera, QLD…yes, that is me and not the back of a random person!
South Brisbane Foreshore
South Brisbane Foreshore
Cute Koala at the Lonepine Koala sanctuary
Botanical Gardens, Brisbane
Toowoomba, QLD

The end of the Divided World…not quite so divided anymore…more of a…well, you’ll have to read it to find out 😉

It’s taken me nearly 18 months, but I’m finally at the end of the trilogy with the 3rd book out on Amazon in print, and ebook on pre-order!
There will definitely be more adventures for Tanis and perhaps even spin-offs, but for now I’m starting a new series.
Such a great feeling to get to the end. And super excited about the next chapter…pun intended

For those who love sci-fi with a touch of fantasy and a lot of conflict!

Divided Serenity (Divided World Book One)
http://hyperurl.co/yfi7m2

 

 

Serenity Falling (Divided World Book Two)
https://hyperurl.co/1j9tol

 

 

Revealing Serenity (Divided World Book Three)
Available on pre-order
https://hyperurl.co/ja0qrt

Why I believe in setting new year’s goals #writing #amwriting

It’s been nearly four years now since I started blogging, and exactly four years since I set myself a goal to write a book. With this anniversary in mind, I thought I would share my own reason why I believe in setting new year’s goals. I still have a long way to go in my writing journey, but every year spent working toward my writing dream is a year well spent.

I just wished I had started working toward it sooner 🙂

You don’t have to set a goal on the 1st January, whenever you set that goal is the right time. But sometimes a new year provides an opportunity for us to assess where we are and where we want to be.

It can also be the catalyst for us to embrace change, set a new direction, and follow our dreams.

If you have read my about page, some of this will be familiar…

Why I believe in setting New Year’s goals…

I have never been one for new years resolutions, for making plans, or setting goals, or any of those things that most people do every year on the 1st January.

I don’t do diets – too boring.

I don’t want to run a marathon – too hard, jump out of a plane – too scary, or to ‘find myself’ in Tibet.

I have always been at heart a bit of a drifter, and a lot of a procrastinator, and yet at the same time I have never let go of my dream to publish a book.

I spend anywhere up to 20 hours a week working toward this dream and have done so for nearly 20 years. For far too many of those years I never actually committed to converting that dream into a reality…I am the living embodiment of George McFly out of back to the future.

On 1st January 2013, I watched the ball drop in Times Square, and like every other year I never set myself a goal.

The 1st January 2014 was a little quieter, and I had a little more time to reflect. This time, everything changed because I set myself a goal – just one – to publish a book.

It took me a lot longer to get there than I ever expected, but I’m always going to look back on that day and be thankful and grateful that I changed my mindset.

Happy reading and writing and dream chasing in 2018!

Update: Writing, Books…and Pods! #amwriting #writing #writerslife

Where we write…

I thought I would begin my writing update by sharing a little about my writer’s nook (or pod in my case).

The funny looking structure above is my writer’s pod (The bit on the left…the big bit is a bedroom). I call it a pod, because…it really is a little pod on stilts and the perfect place to hideaway and write.

Here is the view into the valley from my window, which of course I never look at because I’m so focused on my writing! Okay sometimes I peak.

The inside of my writer’s pod…it doesn’t normally look quite that tidy! And I am also normally squished onto one side of the desk to make space for my cats…and their blanket.

And this is Toby, who was snoozing beside me while I was writing yesterday.

Writing Update…

I’ve been busy with a couple of writerly things. Firstly, book three has received all the beta feedback, so I’ve made the changes and will let it settle for a couple of weeks before I tackle the final read and review. I’m very excited to see the trilogy completed! And very grateful for all the constructive feedback I’ve had on the book…including all my bloopers. Between ‘discounting’ a horse instead of ‘dismounting’ and ‘lunching’ instead of ‘launching’, I’ve kept my beta readers entertained for all the wrong reasons! 🙂

My second bit of writerly activity, has been cracking into a new draft. This is set on the same planet as my current trilogy, but with a new cast and explores the planet’s colonisation. I’m about 30% in, and going reasonably well…reasonably, because I never feel comfortable with a draft until I get to the end and all the bits come together.

About my beta readers!

We are all at different stages of our writing journey, and so I would like to finish by dropping links and bios on two of my beta readers who are published authors themselves.

Jason J. McCuiston’s story,  “The Wyvern” can be found in Pole to Pole Publishing’s new anthology, Dark Luminous Wings. It is a post-apocalyptic steampunk horror story set in the skies above a Mojave Desert filled with magic and dark memories.

You can find out a little more about Jason here in his guest post. Talking about sport and writing! Don’t let the title scare you, I am the least sporty person on the planet, and I learnt something new 🙂

And this is the lovely Cassandra Parker, who always has at least 3 writing projects on the go, but still finds time to read my book and give me feedback!  If you are looking for a little 70’s nostalgia with a wistful and endearing love story thrown into the mix then check out her book Harley & Me.

You can also find out more about Cassandra in her author interview here. Author Interview – Cassandra Parker

Wishing everyone happy reading and writing! 🙂

What I do when I am not writing…

So, I don’t always write in my spare time…occasionally I am allowed out for good behaviour.

These were taken while out walking in the local John Forrest National Park which is about 5 mins drive from our home. The Kangaroos below were snoozing next to the John Forrest Tavern in the park!


See if you can spot the 2 wallabies below 🙂

Progress on Book 2 – Divided World Series #amwriting

It has been a busy few months since the release of book 1 in my Divided World Series. I have been busy editing book 2, which takes me an awful long time, and I went through many rounds before I felt ready to send it out to my beta readers.

I have received some excellent feedback so far (my beta readers are awesome btw), and I have made a few tweaks to address points they raised. Now, I am just waiting for the final batch of feedback, after which I will make any further necessary adjustments. Then it will be onto the last editing checks to make sure I have not stuffed anything up while I was tweaking! Which does happen 😉

While waiting on the beta feedback, I have got straight onto editing book 3, which I finished drafting in June last year…Feels like a long time ago now. Book 3 needed a little more detail on a particular story thread, so a couple more chapters have been added. Once I re-read it, I will get a feel as to whether this is sufficient. I may need to add one more chapter…will have to see. The 3rd book is already pretty chunky at 110k so I am hoping I can chop it back during editing.

Book 3 concludes all the major plot points, and provides a nice container for a significant section of the storyline. However, it will definitely carry on, and I have already started incorporating some new players for book 4 in book 3. So much fun!

One of the things I love about writing, is the delight of sitting on the humongous secrets that your book reveals along the way. I love leaving surprises along the way.

One of my other loves about writing is getting into my characters. I love how they unravel before my eyes and how the personality flaws and nuances emerge the more I think about them. I am really enjoying some of the new characters introduced in book 3 who will become the new players in book 4. I can see that they will nicely take up the slack left from those characters who will be exiting. 

In the background, I have been mulling over the idea of tackling the story of the planet’s inception. I drop hints and details along the way, but it would make a great story in itself. Also the prequel about how John Tanis and Bill Bremmer come to conflict, which I think would also make a great addition at some point…again I am deciding whether to let certain revelations out in book 3 or save it for the prequel book…ah the power you have when crafting a book! So many choices!

Wishing everyone happy reading and / or writing 🙂

About Book One – Divided Serenity

Serenity Divided, a science fiction novel, is set on a colonised planet, where a force-field wall separates the technologically advanced settlers from the planet’s native inhabitants. When an earthquake destroys the power to maintain their protective wall, a repair team will need to travel through native lands on the precipice of war, and their unlikely offer of aid will come from John Tanis—the sworn enemy of the colony leader—who was exiled ten years ago.

[Divided Serenity US]

[Divided Serenity UK]

For the latest news on Book Two, you can subscribe to my newsletter [HERE] or follow my author site G.L.Cromarty [www.GLCromarty.com]

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