Tag Archives: success


4 January 2014 

Goals.  January is the time to start fresh, make new goals and promises to do better, to get more accomplished and to follow through.

Goals are what keep us going, keep us motivated.  We all have goals, dreams and plans.  We dream about them, make lists so we can tick items off and measure pour progress as we make plans to have those dreams become reality.  We think about our goal’s potential, do what we need to and wait for them to manifest.

Creating your goal is the first step in making it happen but that is only the first step of many. When we give our goals a purchase on reality by voicing that goal, or putting it in writing we set something in motion.  Then as we strive for the changes needed to accomplish our goals, unfortunately, we awaken all the little demons that like to trip us up in our struggle to reach our goals and make positive changes in our lives.  All those blocks, fears and even the shame that has stopped our progress in the past can be counted on, one more time rear their ugly heads and do all they can to retard any forward momentum we have gotten going. 

Don’t give up.  Don’t let the negativity, the blocks, fears or shame stop you.  We do not need to have those negative impediments derail us in our pursuit of the goals we have set.  In order to achieve our goals, at the very least, we have to make some changes in our lives. By making these changes we are making room for our goals to manifest, to come into being in tangible and measureable ways. One way to think about these changes can be as simple as cleaning out the excess junk in your attic, or close or even your garage so you can make room for the things you want, the goals you have set.

We need to clean out the junk of the past, the rubbish that clutters our path, trips us as we try to pass, or garbage we hold onto to shame ourselves into failing because we may not feel worthy.  These are spiritual blocks and will take some work to clear, but it can be done, and must be worked on so that our goals have somewhere to take hold, put down roots and flourish.

I know I have a great deal of work to do in order to reach my goals.  I know they can be achieved with hard work, a willingness to let go of the past both in the spiritual wounds as well as the physical stuff I have kept that is no longer necessary.  Every day, I will do something, large or small to reach my goal.  At the beginning of the journey, it may seem like it is so much, but as the days pass, little by little I will erode the blocks in my path, for I am determined to reach my goals!  You can do the same and together the journey will not seem so lonely or arduous.  Happy New Year, and may all your goals be achieved.

S. M. Senden: author of Clara’s Wish and Lethal Boundaries.



Filed under writing

Organization ups your odds

I was recently put on a blog calendar. The topic? I’ve been instructed to talk about how I organize my writing time. I have until August to answer the question, but I’m already thinking hard about the fact that I am quite disorganized when it comes to writing. Perhaps this blog can signal a new beginning …

Twice in the past month, I’ve heard the following strongly stated: writing is a business and must be treated like one. At a seminar that I attended this past weekend, Bob Mayer—a professional writer of thrillers—said that he writes 1,000 words before he will allow himself to open his e-mails. I need to adopt a similar rule, since I probably haven’t written 1,000 words in the past week.

I’ve been known to take pride in saying that if I’ve written at least one sentence I’ve fulfilled my goal of writing for that day. Those are the words of someone who doesn’t take writing seriously—one who writes as a hobby. I’ve quit saying that now, and have set a new goal for myself of 250 words per day. Why not 1,000? Since writing doesn’t pay my bills yet, and since I have two teenagers who require a lot of mental energy, I think that 250 words is a more realistic goal for me, and it’s a darn sight better than 5-10 words per day. I’ll build up to 1,000.

Another thing that Bob Mayer recommended, to get more organized, is to put each scene completed on an Excel spreadsheet, detailing page numbers, characters involved, what happened, etc. A spreadsheet is much too left-brained for me, but I’m going to try keeping a written log of scenes. Since I’m a person who doesn’t outline my story ahead of time, I unfortunately have some of those “Oh, nuts!” moments—when I realize I have to change a plot point. It would help tremendously to have a log of the scenes, so that I could easily see what needs to be changed—relative to that plot point—throughout the book.

Lately, I’ve gotten caught up in a time-suck of promotional stuff. But what I need to remember is that, without a book there is nothing to promote. Another thing Bob Mayer said is that once a book is released, “it’s not your baby anymore: it’s a product,” and that while you’re promoting it’s important to start writing that next book—making that next baby. Love Trumps Logic has been released. Now it’s time for me to get serious about the next baby.

I’ll end by sharing an interesting statistic that Bob Mayer gave at his novel writing presentation: “In 2004, there were 1.2 million titles altogether. 950,000 of them sold less than 99 copies.” More fun Bob Mayer statistics: 90% of first novels ‘fail,’ and 99% of novelists are not writing ten years later.

How does a writer beat those odds? With a strong mix of talent and organized persistence!

Lucy Balch

Love Trumps Logic


Filed under writing

Don’t Sell Yourself Short

When I was 10 or 11, my parents decided to sell the tent-top camper we’d had for a number of years and buy a bigger one. They put an ad in the paper and had a few responses, but no buyer. Then, one Saturday, while the ad was still running, they had to go somewhere. I was the oldest child in our family, so before they left, they said, “If anyone calls about the camper, tell them we want $500 for it.”

I was in awe. That was  a lot of money back in 1967.

Well, wouldn’t you know, an hour after they left, the phone rang – someone had seen the ad and was interested in the camper. I told them the price, answered some questions, and told them where we lived so they could come and see it. A short time later, the phone rang again – someone else wanted to come and see the camper. I gave them directions to get to our house (which was 6 miles from town, on a gravel road) and went back to my other job, which was to make sure my younger brothers and sisters weren’t wrecking the house.

An hour later, I was standing in the yard, showing the camper to both couples, who had coincidentally arrived within minutes of each other.  After looking the camper over and asking a few questions, the first couple offered me $450. The other couple jumped in and offered $500, the asking price set by my dad. The first couple was still hanging around, so instead of saying yes, I told a little story about one of our camping trips and how much our family had enjoyed the state park where we’d camped.

The first couple countered with an offer of $550.

I mentioned how easy the camper was to put up and tear down. Working together, my dad, my sister and I could do it in 10 minutes flat.

The second couple offered $600.

I showed them how the table could be folded down and made into a bed. The first couple upped their bid to $650. That was more money than the second couple had, or was willing to offer. I pronounced the camper SOLD, got $650 cash from the winning bidders, wrote them a receipt, and waved goodbye as they drove down the road, pulling the camper behind.

You can imagine my parent’s shock and glee when they came home and I handed them $650.

It was at that moment that I first experienced the joy and exhilaration of selling something.

As writers, pitching, or trying to sell our books may or may not be part of our comfort zone. But like it or not, published or unpublished, if you’re a writer, you have something to sell, and you need to pitch your book, not just once, but over and over again.

Selling yourself, and your book, is an important part of being an author… the difference between being published or unpublished… the difference between success and failure.

When I made the decision to go with a small, independent press (Second Wind Publishing) for my book, Night and Day, it was in part because I own a bed and breakfast and tea house and knew that I had a built-in venue for selling my book. Each day, 4 – 40 people walk in the door – all potential buyers. Still, a stack of nice, new books sitting on a table with a cute little sign rarely sell themselves. Neither will a bump on a log at a book signing.

What does sell my books is me. I pitch my book once or twice every day – sometimes ten or twelve – to each and every guest who walks in the door.  As you might guess – I’ve got my pitch down – and I have sold about 300 books in the last 3 1/2 months.  I sold 8 over the lunch hour just yesterday.

That doesn’t mean everyone who walks in the door buys a book.

Some are not interested. I can see their eyes glazing over 10 seconds into my pitch. Some look excited until I mention the words “internet romance”. Perhaps they’ve been burned by an online lover – perhaps their spouse has had an online dalliance – maybe they think computers are for the birds. Whatever the case, when you try to sell something, you have to be ready for rejection – and then, you have to pick yourself up and keep trying.

“It’s midnight in Minnesota and daybreak in Denmark…” I regularly vary my pitch depending on who I’m talking to – young, old, someone I know, a stranger. The important thing is that I believe in my book. I love my characters and am convinced people will enjoy reading Night and Day.

I live for those moments when I connect with a reader, when we strike common ground, when their faces light up.  Sometimes it’s when they see the log-cabin quilt on the cover of Night and Day, sometimes it’s when they hear the words Danish, “junk in the attic”, or bonfire.  And when I take their $15 and autograph their book, it’s just as exciting as selling that camper for my parents when I was 11 years old.

Selling is hard. Whether you’re pitching your book or telling someone about your story at a writing conference, talking to guests at a book signing, or asking the manager of your local grocery store if they would consider stocking your book, you will feel naked at times. Intimidated. Daunted. Unsure.

But there comes a moment, when someone wants to buys your book, when you find a common chord with an editor, the owner of a shop, a librarian, or a potential reader, and make the sale, that you will know it was all worth it.

Find the courage to try, and keep trying. Don’t ever sell yourself short.

Sell yourself and you will sell your book!


Filed under books, fiction, marketing, musings, Sherrie Hansen, writing