Saturday, July 28, 2007

Getting your house in order

Today was not a glamorous day, by any means. We awoke early to get my son, Alex, off to the airport. We awoke at 5:00 am and had to make to the airport 2 hours early so he could get checked in before his flight. By some miracle, there was NO LINE!!! He got checked in and he gave me one of those quick, one-armed hugs and a kiss on the cheek, and he was off to spend a week at the home of my brother, Andy and his wife, Lisa, in Oklahoma City. We left the airport and we were home around 8:30 am. I resisted the urge to go back to bed and catch a few more hours of sleep, and instead, began working on cleaning the closet, my bookcase and the ...GARAGE!!

I am a master (or mistress?) at procrastination, and I have put this off so long that it was actually making me physically ill! I couldn't take it anymore, it was driving me crazy! I couldn't write, because I kept thinking about all of the crap I needed to sort through and organize and I know that is why there was nothing but crap coming into my life. I had NO ROOM for anything good to come through! Time to silence my inner packrat who has had full reign for too long!

I was ruthless. I tackled my closet. Yuck! The first thing I went through was my clothes. Anything that was ripped, torn, or beyond repair, went into the rag pile. Next were the clothes I wear all the time. Those were sorted into piles. One for the clothes I have NOT worn in a year or more. Gone. Either going to Goodwill or Salvation Army. The rest was separated into work and dress up. Not much on either side, but that's ok, I have hangers now! Yippee!

Next was the bookcase. It had morphed into a giant sponge, sucking up energy and life because it was collecting crap all over it. It's the "catch-all" of the house. But the kitchen table is usually worse. I pulled everything off the shelves and dusted them (or plowed, if you prefer), and once they were all polished, I set about sorting the books and stuff that had accumulated there. Books I wanted to keep, I put back on the shelf. The rest went into a box for me to take to the bookstore to cash in for money. Felt like I lost 5 pounds just doing that!

The Garage. Did I mention it was almost 90 degrees today? By the time I was out there starting to sort through stuff around the door and the shelves, it was around 1:00 pm. Hot is not the word for it. I was practically melting, but I was driven to get 'er done! I was on a roll and the heat actually helped me do it a lot faster than I would have, because I didn't stand there looking at all my magazines, books, and junk and think, "Oh, I'll just keep that around, I might need it." Nope. I silenced that pack rat right away by saying the same thing in the closet. "If I haven't touched it in a year or more, out it goes!"

Unfortunately, I did lose a lot of books that would have been good to sell at the bookstore to mold and mildew. They got wet somehow and the box and everything in it had to go. I was sad for a second, but then realized that if I had done this sooner, I could have saved them. I didn't want to stand there and keep kicking myself in the pants for my procrastination. It doesn't do any good.

After I sorted what was going to Goodwill or Salvation Army and what was trash and going in the dumpster, the rest was easy to sort through. It was the giveaway pile to family and friends I know who can benefit from some of my junk. Then the smallest pile of all was the pile of what I really wanted to keep. Not a whole lot, which is good, because I don't want to do this any time soon, but I do want to schedule and organize things to the point that once a month, at least, I am sorting, donating or throwing out the junk I don't need. I have too much to do. I have writing to do, a writing business to run, and most importantly, a family to take care of, and now that I have this off my mind, I feel like a huge load has been lifted and the energy can flow in, with all the good we can stand!

So, if you think the world has it out for you, or you are so frustrated at how things are going, take a good, hard, honest look around and "clean out the corners." You will feel so much better!

Just for the record, this was brought on by my friend and fellow writer, Jen Nipps who is in the process of moving and posted to our online writing group that she is cleaning out all the clutter from her life right now. Thanks, Jen! :)

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Crawford Writing Services, Inc.

Yes, that's right! I have decided to make the leap into my own business. I'm tired of working for other people and feel that my writing skills are sufficient to go out on my own.

Don't worry, I have to keep my night job for now, but I am bound and determined to make this work and be successful.

I do have a lot of people to thank, the list is not in any particular order of importance, they are all #1 in my book.

Thanks to everyone who believes in me enough that I could ever have made it this far.

Q.H.(aka. Q-man),LOML-Love of my life,
Alex, my son,
Tom & Mavis, my parents,
Andy & Lisa, my brother and his wife,
Kelley & Travis, my sister and her husband,
Jim & Susi, my uncle & aunt, thanks for the big coffee mug!
Sandy Lender, author and fellow Duranie,
Dorothy Thompson, my FFG (fabulous fairy godmother),
PappaGale Sparks, artist, writer, redneck renaissance man,
Jamieson Wolf, writer and friend,
Steve Conklin, my editor at Zimmerman Today, my first paid writing job.

Also everyone in my Writers Life family, who are too numerous to mention. I have learned so much about myself, my writing, what works and what doesn't, and that sometimes you just have to go for it, no matter how scared you are.

I toast all of you and appreciate everything you have done for me.

My website for Crawford Writing Services, Inc. is now up. You can visit at

Here's to success!

Friday, July 20, 2007

A New Era Is Upon Us

Tonight at midnight, there will be thousands of children escorted by their parents to buy their copy of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" by J.K. Rowling, which is the seventh and final book in the series. Most of the children and their parents who started reading the series are a bit older now and while I am sure they are sad to see it end this way (NO! I am NOT going to spoil it!), they are wondering, "What's next?" My answer is simple. "Choices Meant for Gods" by Sandy Lender.

In the article that follows, Sandy is kind and brave enough to reveal that it's not all glamour and glitz, at least not at the start. One of the hardest lessons I have had to learn about writing and publishing is that you are responsible for promoting your work! And work it is! But one thing I know for sure is some of the top notch marketers in the publishing industry can't predict what will become a bestseller or the next trend, so that gives all of us an equal chance, doesn't it? I feel a new era is upon us and Sandy Lender is just the author to lead us there.

So, sit back, relax and read Sandy's article below. Comment here or on her blog, and support her in this final day of her blog tour.

And what ever you do, don't start reading it before you go to bed, thinking "I'll just read the first two chapters," because you will blink and it will be 3 a.m. You just can't put it down. It's really that good!

And now, ladies and gentlemen...Ms. Sandy Lender.
Sandy Lender Doesn't Recommend Quitting Your Day Job
Or...the joy and insanity of being a writer

By Sandy Lender, fantasy author

Northeast Missouri State University, now Truman University, prides itself on offering a liberal arts education to graduates. I got out in four years with a degree in English and a liberal arts education that has garnered me a 15-year career in magazine publishing and public relations/marketing, but my true passion, the "career" I've nurtured since I was about six years old, is writing. And I don't mean journalism. Yes, journalism and editing are what have paid the bills the past 15 years (and will continue to do so), but fiction writing...oh...fiction writing is what has kept me alive.

It's probably going to be the death of me.

Let me explain. If you're visiting this site, you've probably been drawn here by an interest in books or authors or a writer's lifestyle or something along those lines. Let me give it to you straight. All writers have a touch of insanity about us (this is normal). We usually carry a muse around with us, but this is not always by choice. We complain about characters fighting for their rights, refusing to conform to our wishes in a scene. We go on writing binges that keep us up until 3 a.m. before collapsing next to our computers just to get up and start typing again when the sun blazes in to wake us around 7, skipping meals, showers, potty breaks and phone calls until some aspect of reality forces us out of the writing cocoon. We will tear a room to shreds looking for a pen if an idea has just struck us. And woe to the fool who gets between us and a piece of paper when we get hold of that pen...

Because I've experienced the insanity described above, I've been lifted up by hearing stories of people who have enjoyed my first published novel, Choices Meant for Gods. Now I get to read comments on my page of people claiming Nigel Taiman is "by far" their favorite character, or "I want to be just like Chariss when I grow up," and I feel this lump of pride in my darlings rise in my throat.

That's the joy and insanity of being a writer. You pour your heart and soul into the work; and pray that someone out there likes it, too. Now here's the hard part. People have to read it to like it. They have to know it exists to read it. So you have to get it to them.

Enter the marketing and promoting aspect of the new author's job. I attended the ArcheBooks Publishing's Professional Novelist Workshop about two weeks before receiving my contract for Choices Meant for Gods, and had attended the Naples Press Club Writers Workshop the week before that, so I thought I had a pretty good idea of the marketing nightmare new authors faced. I was ready. Lay it on me, I thought.

Now I'm on the last day of a two-month online book tour I organized myself, contemplating repeating a moderately successful instore book signing at the local Barnes & Noble that I organized myself, and managing six blogs (including for the promotion of my fantasy novel that I've organized myself, preparing a spate of press releases I've written myself that I'll spew forth like water from an erupting sprinkler next week, etc. Do you see a trend there?

New authors are on their own. Unless you have the few thousand dollars it takes to hire a publicity firm/PR agency to send out press releases for you, you're on your own. I don't have a few thousand stray dollars and I don't trust people who charge less than professional rates to do a professional job.

I take hope in the fact that even J.K. Rowling was once in the same boat I'm in now. She was down to her last food stamp as the story goes when that fateful call came: Her little story about a boy named Harry Potter had been picked up. I've already had my call. Choices Meant for Gods is published and out there. Now I need my lottery winning event to propel me into J.K. Rowling and Harry Potter status, but, for right now, I'm going to just keep writing deep into the night and reading those fabulous e-mails that praise Nigel and Chariss. Because making a living at this would be nice, but, truly, the writing binges that result in someone singing Chariss's praises are the real joy and insanity of being a writer.

I'd like to thank my host today for posting this guest blog article. And I'd like to thank everyone who made the CMFG Online Book Tour the raging success it's been. You know that paragraph above where I said new authors are one their own? I'd like to correct that. We actually have each other. Without each of you, the name Sandy Lender wouldn't be all over the internet right now, and readers wouldn't be one click away from to pick up my epic fantasy novel. And new author Sandy Lender is grateful to every one of you.

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"Some days, I just want the dragon to win."

From Sandy Lender, Author of Choices Meant for Gods
Available right now
Taking over the Web Saturday, July 21, to complete the CMFG Online Book Tour.
"Some days, I just want the dragon to win."

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Learning how to ride a bicycle

I'm not sure how old I was, but I know I couldn't have been much older than six or seven years old. The way my mother tells the story, she has never seen a child with more determination in all of her life, who came home dirty, bloody and thrilled with the fact she learned to ride a "big bike" with no training wheels.

It was summer and I didn't have a bicycle of my own, but my neighbor, Angela, who came from a large family, had an old blue bicycle that was just leaning up against the garage. It was the perfect size for me. I didn't have to bring it up to the steps so I could get on it and I knew that once I was on it, I could control it and not kill myself. So, I got this idea in my head that I was going to learn how to ride bicycle that day. Without training wheels.

So, I set about my task by going out into the middle of the street, down far enough that we were not visible by the picture windows of either of our houses. We would have been in BIG TROUBLE for playing out in the street, by both of our mothers. We kept to the side and tried to make sure that we wouldn't get "run over" by any cars.

Angela tried first, after all, it was her bicycle. She couldn't get the pedals going fast enough and fell. She didn't get hurt, but she got up and handed me the bicycle. She held onto the back of the seat to steady it as I got on and I tried to steer and over corrected and fell. I scraped my knee. Not bad, but it stung. This went on and on for hours. Angela finally gave up, she was tired of falling off, so she helped me in my quest for success. Finally, just before supper time, I did it! I pedaled. I steered. I even turned around, pedalling and steering and...I DIDN'T FALL OFF!! Of course, I nearly killed myself jumping off the bicycle to hug Angela and to celebrate my victory! But the fact of the matter is, I did what I set out to do. It hurt, it was painful, but I didn't give up, no matter what.

I thought my Mom was going to have a heart attack when she saw me, but I hurried up and told her I learned to ride a bicycle without training wheels and to come out and see. I demonstrated on the sidewalk out in front of our house.

I know she cried. She cried because I did it myself. She cried because I had to go through all of that pain and hurt to accomplish what I did. She also cried because it was one more small step away from me being her little girl and becoming a grown up. I know that because when my son learned how to ride his bicycle without training wheels, I cried for all of those reasons.

Why do I bring this up? I am 38 years old, and in a way, I am learning to ride a bicycle without training wheels all over again. My definition of myself is changing. I'm not just a woman, a daughter, a mother, a girlfriend, a sister, a human being, but now I am embarking on a new chapter in my life that will add business woman, entrepeneur, writer, copywriter, motivational speaker and I hope, teacher to my list of definitions.

I'm scared, like I was that day, but I am also determined to succeed. And I will be so proud of myself, pedalling down the road or the sidewalk...scabbed knees and all.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

My Declaration of Independence 2007

Happy 4th of July everyone!

Over 231 years ago, our forefathers decided that they’d had enough! The signing of the Declaration of Independence was the equivalent of drawing a line in the sand between what would become the United States of America, and it’s mother country, England. We celebrate this day with parades, marching bands, barbecues and fireworks. All in all, it’s a great day!

Today, I guess you could say I have drawn my own line in the sand. I am hereby declaring my own independence from a lot of the stuff I have been carrying as baggage that I am just sick and tired of carrying around. Enough is enough!

Most of what I have as “baggage” is emotional stuff. I’ve been through a lot, that’s true, but in all honesty, I wouldn’t trade any of the bad stuff because without it I would not appreciate the good that came my way. Also, I would not be in the position in my life to recognize that I need to just let some of that stuff go. You can’t change the past, so what’s the point of dragging it around with you everywhere?

Also, I have been unhappy in my job. I’m there for a paycheck and health insurance and that’s about it, and my attitude and my anger and my frustration show that. I am not doing the work my spirit is intended for, which is to write, but I can’t give the factory job up yet until the writing takes off.

So, for now I will try to make the best of things, but I am also giving myself a deadline. If all goes well, (and there are opportunities that are presenting themselves that I am on the right track), I will be able to say goodbye for good to the factory job and hello to the life I have always dreamed of! I’m not saying that I’m going to just up and quit my job and become a full-time writer, and jeopardize my family’s financial future, oh no! But I have been working on a few things that will be coming to fruition sooner than I planned. I’m dancing I’m so excited about what’s to come.

As for the rest of it, the whining, the complaining, the bitching and moaning: Life sucks and then you die, I’m fat, I’m poor, I’m not pretty enough, I’m a horrible mother, I’m a horrible girlfriend/life partner to my boyfriend, I have no talent, I’ll never be a success at anything, I’m hopeless…well, you get the point. The tapes we play over and over in our minds have the voices of many dream killers we have known over the years. You hear it enough, you believe it.

But, I have a question to ask you, dear readers. Why do we believe all that crap? Why do we believe that life is hard, that nothing comes easy, that we are not of the lucky lot in life that gets their needs and wants met and that we don’t deserve to be happy? Why?

This is an abundant universe, and we are unlimited beings and we limit ourselves by saying the opposite of what is true: There is more than enough good to go around for everyone! We just need to figure out what it is we truly want, ask for it, believe we deserve it, be grateful for what we have already and then allow it to come into our lives and be able to receive it.

It's so much easier to complain about what we don't have, to look at someone else and say, "I want their life!" without looking in the mirror to see why ours isn't up to par. It's easier to see the bad things when they happen, and then diminish the good things by saying, "It wasn't that big of a deal." That's not being modest, that's called denial. You aren't going to get a medal for being in denial over what good comes into your life.

If we believe all of that, then we are doing a disservice to those who founded this country on the belief that we are all entitled to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” We are not honoring those who have fought and died serving this country to keep the borders safe, to protect the freedoms that we enjoy everyday: like waking up, speaking English and not hearing bullets and bombs outside of our homes. We are not honoring the Declaration of Independence. If they believed then, that we were all entitled to live abundant lives in the greatest country in the world, why do we discredit that belief by listening to all this shit?

Honor the Declaration of Independence. Honor the soldiers who have fought and died for all of us and continue to fight in the name of the greatest country in the world. Honor yourself by choosing to live the life you always dreamed of, pursuing your own happiness and sharing it with those you love and with the world. Honor all of these things and be grateful.

Let the fireworks begin!