Archive | September, 2012

Motivational Monday ~ Don’t Worry

24 Sep

Today’s motivation is short and sweet:

ImageIf you worry about what might be, and wonder what might have been, you will ignore what is. ~ Anonymous

I need to work on this one. How about you?

Cheers,

Alison Stone

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Motivational Monday ~ Choose Happiness

17 Sep

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about feelings, more specifically happiness. When our mind is focused on something, we tune into it. As a result, I’ve noticed a few tweets regarding the subject lately. One in particular jumped out at me:

Life is ten percent what happens to you and ninety percent how you respond to it.

The quote has been attributed to a few different people, but the message is clear. We have the power to REACT to a situation in the way WE choose. We shouldn’t let other people or circumstances dictate how we feel. Okay, I’ll concede that we are allowed to react strongly in the negative when we receive really bad news, but why let our moods shift with all the little minutia of life?

How many times have I started off my day in a really good mood and then someone tells me something or I see something on the news or I read something on Facebook and my mood plummets. Why? I am letting forces outside myself dictate how I feel. Most of the things that affect my mood aren’t going to matter in a day or two (or maybe even in an hour.) Once I became aware of this, I started to consciously train myself to not react negatively to the small stuff. Hey, I think someone wrote an entire book on that theme. 🙂

I’ve always been a thinker. From the time I was a little girl, I would over analyze everything. I have passed this trait onto my youngest. She always seems to struggle with the start of a new year. (She’d rather hang out at home with me.) After we said our prayers the other night, she started to tell me how her belly hurt in school. I explained to her that because she kept thinking about how much she didn’t like school, she was making her belly hurt. I told her she had the power to create happy thoughts and then her belly wouldn’t hurt. I gave her a few suggestions like how she should focus on how much she loves math and to just stay in the moment.

I’m not sure my advice will have immediate results with my eight-year-old, but it reinforced what I’ve been working on. I need to continue to be aware of my own thoughts and my own feelings. I don’t need to let things outside of my control dictate my mood. A dip in Amazon rankings shouldn’t make me want to quit writing. I shouldn’t get so frustrated when my day gets filled up with other responsibilities and eats up all my writing time. I shouldn’t allow other parents to draw me into the momma-drama. 🙂 I get to choose what’s important to me. I get to decide how I feel.

Here are some more awesome “HAPPINESS” quotes:

Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be ~ Abraham Lincoln

Nothing can bring you peace but yourself ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

There is only one way to happiness, and that is to cease worrying about things which are beyond the power of our will. ~ Epictetus

I much prefer to be around happy people. Since I am always around myself, I choose happiness.

Do you work on controlling your thoughts to control your feelings? I’d love to hear how it works for you.

Cheers,

Alison Stone

Motivational Monday ~ Tips for the Newbie Writer (Hint: Don’t Stop Writing)

10 Sep

Author Alison Stone as seen through the eyes of her 8-year-old daughter. Alison loves to write poolside, as reflected in the drawing!

This blog post originally appeared on Savvy Authors. If you’re an author, this site is a fantastic resource. I highly recommend you check it out and join! Here is the original link on www.SavvyAuthors.com.

However, I have posted it below in its entirety:

I’ve sold three books in the past thirteen months. Cue the fireworks. Sounds great, right? It is, don’t get me wrong. I am ecstatic. Finally! It took me a long time to get to this point. Let’s see, I joined RWA in 2002 and attended my first regional conference that fall. I signed with my wonderful agent in 2006 and thought success was imminent. (I had every reason to hope as I worked on revisions with a NY publishing house that same year.) Unfortunately, they passed on the book. That’s a polite way of saying it got rejected. The big R.

In the ten years since I joined RWA, I had my fourth child, I watched my oldest grow from an adorable first grader to a handsome high school junior, I filled my hours with tons of volunteer work, and I doubted whether the time I spent writing was worth it.

If only I could rewind time and tell myself a few key things, I truly believe my journey to publication would have been much shorter. But I also believe sometimes you have to go through life to learn its lessons. Hope you can learn from mine.

1. You will be successful. It may not happen when you want or how you expect, but you will become a published author. Of course, there’s no way I could have known this for sure, but I would have proceeded much more confidently if I had only believed in myself. I love the quote, “What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?” (~Robert H. Schuller) If I had had this mindset firmly implanted in my head, I wouldn’t have wasted so much time doubting my abilities. These doubts hurt my productivity. You know that annoying little voice: Why am I wasting my time writing when I could be (you fill in the blank)?

2. Don’t stop writing. The twelve or so months when I was working back and forth with the NY editor in 2006, I didn’t write anything new. I was one hundred percent wrapped up in revisions. When the manuscript didn’t sell, it threw me off my writing game for a little while. And of course the editor asked me if I had anything else. I didn’t.

3. Guard your time. If the PTA needed a president, I was their gal. Someone to do the yearbook. Yep, that was me, too. I’m not suggesting you hole up in your writer’s cave and never do anything else. The world needs volunteers and writers need outside activities to refill the creative well. But you don’t have to do everything. Pick one or two activities you enjoy and learn to say no. Mental note to self: You still need to learn to say no. 

4. Reach out to other POSITIVE writers. I enjoy the fellowship of other writers. However, it’s important to make sure you associate with positive writers. There’s nothing worse than a Debbie Downer telling you how impossible it is to get published. That type of thinking is contagious. I know I got sucked in once or twice. (Reread #1.)

5. Set time limits on the Internet. Simple, right? I’m still working hard on that one. All the social media in the world isn’t going to help you if you don’t have a quality book to sell.

6. Be realistic. Is your frustration stemming from not writing a book in one month? Is this a realistic expectation? Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t. Sit down and evaluate your goals and other commitments you can’t give up. (A day job, perhaps.) If you set reasonable goals you can achieve and still advance your writing, you might be happier than setting yourself up for failure. I often found not meeting goals sent me in a downward spiral where I wouldn’t write at all because I felt I wasn’t writing fast enough. Find what works for you. Success in meeting your goals breeds more success.

7. You have more than one shot at this. As I write this, the 2012 Olympics have just gotten underway. These athletes have trained for a lifetime to get (perhaps their only) shot at an Olympic medal. Writing is another kind of discipline. Creating a well-crafted, publishable novel is hard work, but we have more than one chance to send our work into the world. I know writers who are paralyzed with fear. Don’t be so afraid that you never take a chance. Write the best book you can at this moment in your career and send it into the world. Then get to work on the next one.

8. Enjoy the journey. Celebrate each milestone along the way. So many people say they’d like to write a book. How many people do it? Writing is hard work and the work doesn’t stop when you get “the call.” So when you’re feeling particularly excited about a scene you just wrote or if you’re pleased with your partial, savor that feeling and use it to push you toward your next goal.

The world of publishing is changing daily. Back when I submitted my first completed manuscript, limited publishers accepted what I wrote. So when they rejected my manuscript, I was dead in the water. Now, e-pubs and self-publishing open a whole new world. All are viable options. Even though my dream was always to be published with a traditional publisher, knowing there were other options took the pressure off. And that’s when it happened. I just wish I had had the confidence from day one to write as if I knew it always would.

If you’re a writer, is there anything you’ve learned over the years you wish you knew right from the beginning?

Cheers,

Alison Stone

Motivational Monday ~ Lessons in Motocross

3 Sep

My husband and my teenage sons live and breathe motocross. Me? Not so much. It’s not because I don’t support my family. It’s because I don’t have the stomach for it. Let’s just say, I like “having watched.” I don’t enjoy the actual watching. My insides twist into knots. I don’t actually breathe until they reach the checkered flag. If you’ve ever watched motocross, you’ll understand why.*

Yet, yesterday, I went and watched my two teenage sons race.  I force myself to do it a few times a year. The first race, thirty-bikes roared to life at the starting gate. I stood at the top of the hill about twenty feet from the holeshot.

(According to Wikepedia: The holeshot is a term used primarily in motorcycle racing[1] (but also motorsport racing in general) for the rider who is the first one through the first turn….Many motorcycle racers consider the start to be the most important part of a race, and it is particularly important in those forms of the sport where the tracks are very small, tight and difficult to pass on. )

As the bikes rounded the first curve on the dark brown soil, the first guy went down. Then another. And another. The deafening roar of the bikes filled my ears. I saw my son’s number in the heap. The riders lucky enough not to be caught up in the pileup, roared past. One by one, each of the downed riders got their bikes up. My son got back on his bike and tried to kick start it. The bike didn’t start up. He made a few quick adjustments and gave it another shot.  It fired to life. He roared up the hill at the back of the pack.

I jogged around to the other part of the observation area to see more of the  track. The bikes flew over jumps, navigated ruts, and finally made it to the checkered flag. When I caught up with my son in the pits, he was annoyed. A kid had rammed into his back tire and knocked him down on another part of the track. (This was after the pileup near the holeshot.) According to him, three subsequent riders rode over him. Yet, my son got up and finished the race. He came in last, but he finished.

Later that day, in the second heat, he came in seventh. A marked improvement.

This past weekend, my son raced for the first time since Memorial Day due to equipment issues. As my boys get back into the sport, each will steadily improve. All this got me thinking how a motocross race is a metaphor for writing for publication.

All the riders (writers) are lined up at the starting gate and they’re all gunning for the holeshot (publication.) Some of the riders are going to get knocked off the track. They’ll go down. (Rejection.) Who’s going to get back up and keep going despite obstacles? Other writers are going to go roaring past us. Heck, some will even run us over. But do we have the stamina, the determination, to finish? To keep pursuing our dreams despite getting bruised and beaten?
Out on the racetrack, my boys are some of the bravest  kids I know. Yeah, they take after their father. I am going to model their fearlessness in my new career as an author. Other authors might go roaring past me with their sales rankings, but I’m still riding along. Each day I write, will be a day I become a better writer. I will finish this book, then write another. I will enjoy the journey. Someday I might just win the race.

What hurdles have you had to overcome to achieve your goals? I’d love to hear from you in the comments section.

Cheers,

Alison Stone

*Despite the fact that the men in my life are motocross 24/7, I have not absorbed the lingo. I fully realize I am motocross illiterate. One day, I will learn. 🙂