July 1, 2015

Finding My Community : #IWSG

The Insecure Writer's Support Group (or IWSG) is a wonderful group put together by the amazing Alex J. Cavanaugh (which now has an equally cool Facebook group). 

The first Wednesday of each month is the perfect opportunity to share my insecurities on the #IWSG therapy couch, get encouragement and support about such insecurities, and to read how other writers are faring.

I just came back from UtopYA, an awesome conference in Nashville for readers and writers. It's such a powerful, fulfilling conference. I left with goals, plans, and feeling pumped up. Being around people who get you will do that.

But I know what's coming... I felt the same way last year. Yet within a few weeks, I was depressed and missing the beauty of my community. Since moving to California, I haven't found a local contingent of writers. And sometimes I really need to be around other writers to nourish my soul.

Any advice for finding a close network of writers?

June 29, 2015

Overcoming Insecurity : Denise Grover Swank

There were some amazing keynote speakers at this year's UtopYA conference. First up was Denise Grover Swank, New York Times and USA Today best-selling author.

She's sold 1.3 million copies of her books (currently totaling 21) and has hit the USA Today list eleven times and the New York Times list four times. Yet with each new book she said she still worries and feels pressure. She's found most writers feel deeply, and because of that, they have increased insecurity. 

After writing her first book in the fourth grade, several English teachers encouraged her. Still, it took until she was forty to tell herself it was "time to do this." Then, tragedy struck. Her husband was in a single-engine plane crash. He barely made it, but then five weeks later, he died. She said it felt like the rug was pulled out from under her, and she had to reinvent herself. With six children, she started a blog called: There's Always Room for One More. Then, in 2009, she did NaNoWriMo. In the next year and a half, she wrote three books.

In the spring of 2011, she was getting discouraged with querying. In her head, she thought she wasn't good enough. By then, self-publishing was more accepted and more easily accessible. So she took charge of her own career.

She studied the market and came up with a business plan, determined to succeed. But the insecurities were still there. She pushed through and didn't let fear rule her life. Book after book she pushed. But then she hit a rough year of reviews and lacking sales. 

"The more success I get, the more insecurities I get," she said, always fearing that the next book would be the one to "totally suck." 

Her advice: surround yourself with people you trust, write everyday, work hard, set your own goals for success (make them realistic so you can achieve them and set higher goals).

Still, she said, "I'm going to be chasing this demon the rest of my life."

Success is not a race, it has no expiration date, so you have to stay strong through the ebbs and flows, she said. 

But, she always tells herself (from The Help):

You is Kind.
You is Smart.
You is Important. 

I was so inspired by her speech. Later, I ran into her during the Saturday signing, and she was so gracious to take a picture with me and chat for a few minutes. Such a lovely woman.

How do you battle your insecurity monster?

About Denise Grover Swank

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Denise Grover Swank was born in Kansas City, Missouri and lived in the area until she was nineteen. Then she became a nomadic gypsy, living in five cities, four states and ten houses over the course of ten years before she moved back to her roots. She speaks English and smattering of Spanish and Chinese which she learned through an intensive Nick Jr. immersion period. Her hobbies include witty Facebook comments (in own her mind) and dancing in her kitchen with her children. (Quite badly if you believe her offspring.) Hidden talents include the gift of justification and the ability to drink massive amounts of caffeine and still fall asleep within two minutes. Her lack of the sense of smell allows her to perform many unspeakable tasks. She has six children and hasn't lost her sanity. Or so she leads you to believe.

You can find out more about Denise at www.denisegroverswank.com or email her at DeniseGroverSwank@gmail.com

Stay tuned for more UtopYA revelations and awesome talks. 

June 26, 2015

UtopYA is now Utopia

The last day of UtopYA is always full of mixed emotions. Part of me wanted to stay forever with the most amazing group of people I've ever known, but part of me missed my family. This year was even more magical than last, although I wasn't sure that was possible.

So, as I sat there, I wondered what the theme for 2016 would be... the fifth anniversary of UtopYA. How could it be even better?

Then, Janet Wallace told us.

First, UtopYA is now Utopia. Why? Because it will include both middle grade and Adult novels and genres. How exciting!! Then, came the even more exciting announcement of next year's theme... #FightForYourWrite.

Yes, someone immediately shouted out that the theme song should be the Beastie Boys hit. And I'm okay with that.

For authors and bloggers who've never attended, please consider coming next year. In addition to amazing panels with awesome advice on publishing, marketing, blogging, writing, and so on, next year there will be people covering topics on how to nurture more than just our blogging and writing. There will be life coaches, nutritionists, and more. 

Who isn't enriched when they feed their soul in addition to their brain?

Over the next couple of months, I will have many UtopYA/Utopia-laden posts. First, I will be featuring Meet Some UtopYA2015 Lovelies (Unofficial), a series of interviews with people I hung out with at the con. (See the 2014 edition here) Plus, I'll also be sharing my experiences at this year's event.

So, what are you waiting for? Until June 30th, there's even special pricing. Check it out here. Dates: 6/22-26, 2016. I hope to see you there.

June 24, 2015

UtopYA Highlights: Accomplishing Goals

I'm back!

UtopYA 2015 did not disappoint. Since the moment I left Nashville last June, I've been looking forward to returning for another UtopYA. The first year was overwhelming, because I was meeting almost everyone for the first time. Plus, it was my first major author event.

For the most part, I stayed in the shadows and took it all in. Thanks to Jo Michaels, I did make a handful of amazing friends.

This year, I was determined to...

1. Take tons of pictures.
2. Not be shy.
3. Walk right up and hug Janet Wallace.
4. Put myself out there.

I outlined this in a post

I'm happy to report that I accomplished all of these things! 

Last year, I ran an interview series highlighting some of the amazing women from UtopYA. I'm working on getting some amazing people to do it again this year. So, I'm saving a lot of my pictures for that. However, I have to share this one...

It's me with my Fractured Glass crew (Jo Michaels, NL Greene, Kelly Risser, and Casey Bond) and Janet Wallace. The FG crew and I did our lip sync not too long after. It was amazing. And, yes, I have video. I promise to share it soon.

Friday, I'll have a more emotional post. But I wanted to make sure and address my goals going in. I met every single one. Oh, and I'll be sharing some changes for next year's Utopia (you'll understand the spelling change more on Friday). It's the five-year celebration, and I can't wait.

Happy Wednesday!

June 22, 2015

Chasing Destiny Cover Reveal

Happy Monday!

Today, I want to share the cover for Chasing Destiny, Tala Prophecy Book 3. I debuted the cover at last week's UtopYA, and of course my newsletter subscribers and Street Team got a sneak peek before anyone else.

Cover by Jo Michaels
Don't you love it? Jo Michaels never disappoints!

I'll be sharing the blurb soon, and the expected publication date is July/August 2015. More details to come. 

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To become a member of my Street Team, ask to join here.

Stay tuned for all my UtopYA posts. It was amazing!!

June 17, 2015

UtopYA Bound : Lessons Learned from 2014

My daughter and I are on a plane to Nashville today to attend UtopYA. 

I had an incredible time last year, but I was mad at myself for a couple of things that I plan to remedy this year.

I will take TONS of pictures.

I have incredible memories from UtopYA2014, but very few pictures. This year, I cleared off my phone and plan to be obnoxious with pictures. Maybe even -- GASP -- take a few selfies. 

I will NOT be shy.

Last year, I went in knowing very few people and came out knowing a lot. Still, I could have put myself out there more. This year, I will. I'm going to be a sharing, hugging, bonding fool.

I will walk right up and hug Janet Wallace.

Yes, I will. Last year, I was daunted by the aura surrounding her. She seemed beyond my reach. It was all because I was completely in awe. This year, I'm still completely in awe, but I also realize how friendly and approachable she is. 

I will be put myself out there.

Being part of the Lip Sync battle will help accomplish this. I will be sweating bullets, but there isn't a more comfortable environment on the planet than UtopYA to put yourself out there.

Next week, I'll report on how I did with these goals. 

Hope everyone is enjoying the start to summer!

June 15, 2015

LuLo Fangirl : Indie News & Highlights

Sorry. I've been MIA. There's so much to do to get ready for UtopYA. My 15yo daughter and I leave on Wednesday morning for Nashville, and I so can't wait.

Today's post is short but so sweet.

If you ever want Indie news and features, hop on over to LuLo Fangirl run by the amazing Christina Marie. She has her finger on the Indie pulse. 

Right now, she's featuring an interview series of UtopYA authors. My interview will be up tomorrow. 

Please go check it out here.

Stay tuned for amazing details from my UtopYA experience.