Greetings, wordsmiths! I hope you all had a fantastic Thanksgiving filled with friends, family, and, last but not least…fabulous food!
Last year, I decided to try a different tack when it comes to giving thanks for my blessings. Instead of trying to lump them all together under one generic Umbrella of Gratitude, I created several categorized lists, for example, “Marriage,” “Friends,” even “Hardships.” “Writing” is among these Lists of Thanks, and I’ve had so much fun sharing what writerly things I’m thankful for!
Last year, I gave props to the alphabet, printing press, social media, technology, music, generous writers, readers, health, supportive family and friends, and of course, COFFEE!
This year, I’m sharing five more items that have warmed this writer’s heart and reinforced my love for the life I’ve chosen! (or did the writing life choose me… ;-)). I hope you resonate with a few of these thoughts and are inspired to make your own personalized List of Thanks!
I. Book Cover Café
Quite a few fellow writers have asked me who does the editing, cover design, typesetting, and formatting for my indie-published books. I thought this post would be the perfect place to share this answer publicly, as I am inexpressibly thankful for the folks at Book Cover Café!
I found Book Cover Café back in 2015 via Joanna Penn’s website (click here for a list of cover designers) and hired them to help me publish my first novel, Moonbow. I was so impressed (especially by my editor, Penny), that I hired Penny to copyedit Armor for Orchids and then the whole company again to produce Age of the Ashers. Right now I’m in the midst of working with them to prepare Book 2 in the series for publication!
I realize that many authors, especially those just starting out, can’t afford all of the services companies like Book Cover Café provide, but if and when you can afford professional assistance, I highly recommend you send Anthony an email at email@example.com and get started.
The process is simple, straightforward, and best of all, they’re incredibly punctual…and patient! They will answer each and every one of your questions, implement all of your suggestions as best they can, refine your cover until it’s exactly what you’re looking for, and do it all in a timely manner so you can deliver your book baby and move on to creating the next one!
II. My New Office
This may seem like a little thing, and I suppose it is, but I turned a spare bedroom into an office this year, and I’m absolutely in love with it!
From 2011, when my husband Ben and I moved to San Antonio, until earlier this year, I wrote in various places around the house: the kitchen table, the movie room sofa, the comfy chair in the living room, Ben’s huge and atrociously cluttered desk.
And then one day as I was walking past the guest room, it occurred to me that we don’t host overnight guests all that often, and when we do, there’s usually no more than two of them, and they stay in the “in-laws’ room.” Next thing I know, I’ve found homes for the twin beds and Pottery Barn Teen bedding I had in college, and am moving in a desk and bookshelves!
I’m no longer a writing nomad. I have my work station, replete with candles, pens, notepads, a pile of research-related books, and plenty of coasters for my various caffeinated beverages. I have a door I can close when my husband’s watching Agents of Shield or having a conference call. I have a great view of the deer, squirrels, and occasional foxes that roam the neighborhood.
If you don’t yet have an office or designated writing nook, I highly recommend you create one, not just for the cool writerly stuff with which you can decorate it, but also for the mental shift it will help you to make, aiding your transition into full-fledged writing mode.
“You need the room, you need the door, and you need the determination to shut the door. You need a concrete goal, as well. The longer you keep to these basics, the easier the act of writing will become.” – Stephen King
If you follow my Instagram stories, then you might have noticed that I have a mild obsession (okay, not mild – severe!) with podcasts. I listen to them ALL.THE.TIME. When I’m cooking. When I’m folding laundry. When I’m driving. When I’m blow-drying my hair, doing my makeup, waiting the necessary four minutes to press my French press.
If I’m not writing, working out, or chillin’ with my husband, there’s a good chance, I’m listening to a podcast.
Last year I shared my top podcasts for writers, and I intend to add a second installment soon, as I have been introduced to numerous excellent podcasts this year. But, if you need a good place to start, check out my list here.
A few reasons I love podcasts:
- It’s often easier and more convenient to listen to a podcast than it is to watch a video or read a blog.
- They motivate me on blah days when I’d rather watch Netflix than write. (It’s tough to feel unmotivated after listening to passionate people!)
- They inspire me with stories of perseverance, patience, taking risks, and learning from failures and mistakes.
- They introduce me to helpful books and resources, such as author services and marketing assistance.
- They give me the 411 on subjects I know I need to learn about but am too lazy to research on my own, e.g., promotional tools and tips, technology news, and growing my newsletter list.
This is a repeat from last year, but I can’t say it enough: READERS ARE THE BEST!!!
It’s true that even if my writing was only read by my husband and mom, I would still do it as much as possible and with just as much passion. That being said, having readers actually spend time and money on one of my brain babies is an enormous blessing, especially when those readers reach out to me and let me know they enjoyed something I wrote, be it a blog post, article, or book.
Readers are busy people. Just like the rest of the world, they have things like jobs, relationships, hobbies, homework, and myriad other responsibilities to see to. With only an hour or two of downtime a day, they often must choose between surfing through social media, watching TV, or, the most old-fashioned of the pastimes: reading a book. When they not only take time to read my work but to also review it or email me about it, I feel tremendous joy and appreciation, as well as the desire to reach through my iPhone and give them a ginormous hug.
If you’re a reader who’s ever reached out to an author via social media or email to tell them you enjoyed their book or to offer a kind word of constructive criticism, THANK YOU! You encourage us to keep doing what we’re doing and give us hope when we feel like we’re writing into a vacuum.
V. Instagram Fam
Again, this one is a carry-over from last year, but I want to include it for two purposes:
- To thank my Instagram friends for all their love, laughs, encouragement and inspiration, and
- To encourage YOU to join Instagram if you haven’t already
Of all the social media platforms, I’ve found Instagram to be the most helpful, upbeat, and close-knit. The friends I’ve made through it are people I absolutely know I’d be bosom friends with (to use Anne Shirley’s endearing phrase) if we’re ever lucky enough to meet in real life. We share similar interests, passions, hobbies, favorite books and writing habits, as well as mutual struggles, fears, and frustrations. We empathize with each other because we’ve walked in each other’s shoes.
At this point in my life, I have zero author friends who live near me, so connecting with a virtual writing community via Instagram has been a tremendous blessing. They “get” me, and I them, which is a truly wonderful thing, especially in a line of work that can be particularly isolating, not to mention discouraging.
So thank you, Instagram fam, for brightening my writing journey! Keep shining!