Did you know that Hallmark has opened a new company, Hallmark Publishing? The sweet romances and cozy mysteries that are literally the hallmark of the TV movies (sorry, I couldn’t resist) are now available as books!
In this interview with Stacey Donovan, Director of Hallmark Publishing and the acquisitions editor, Stacey tells us more about the company, how they got started, and what she is looking for in submissions. Take notes because there is another open submission period coming up in February 2019!
You probably know I’m the host of the WRITE NOW! Workshop Podcast where I interview authors, editors, and more about the writing life. I also do an Encouraging Words episode on the first Sunday of each month. (If you start listening from the beginning of the show, you’ll know I did three episodes a week for the first six months. Burnout caused me to rethink that and I went to one episode a week plus an Encouraging Words episode once a month.)
Last Sunday, I spoke about something I’ve heard before and heard again recently. Sometimes when it seems like we’re stuck, even buried under the weight and pressure of circumstances, if we look at things a little differently we might see ourselves as planted, not buried.
Here is the audio of that episode, and below is the YouTube version. I hope you find this thought to be an encouraging part of your day! 😀
In July 2018, I interviewed bestselling author Susan May Warren on my podcast, WRITE NOW! Workshop Podcast, about her latest romantic suspense novel. We had a great time talking about all things writing, but we had to cut things short because there was so much to talk about! I brought her back in August to focus just on her classes and writing retreats and other tools for authors.
One of those tools has had me salivating ever since she told me about it. Susie May has been creating and tweaking and recreating and tweaking some more a personal planner to organize not just her writing life, but her whole entire life. And she’s offering it for sale to other writers. She calls it My Brilliant Writing Planner, and it’s available for pre-order now with a $20 discount through October 31, 2018.
Now, I have no skin in this game – Susie May doesn’t even know I’m writing this article yet – but you might know that I’ve been teaching time management courses for over ten years and I love a great planner! I’ve been using the ARC system from Staples for the last 21 months, and I really like it. But I have my time/calendar/planner in one ARC notebook, my writing notes in another ARC notebook, and other notes in other notebooks. Susie May’s planner puts a lot of that all together in one place.
Why? Well, when aren’t we thinking about our story and needing to jot down a few notes? Or in the middle of brainstorming and realizing we forgot to make some kind of plan for dinner? Or waking up in the morning trying to remember our new First Five (if you’ve taken my course) or other healthy habits we’re trying to incorporate into each day? Or wanting to capture a motivational or inspirational line to think about more later?
My Brilliant Writing Planner puts all of this together in one place!
Yes, that means it’s big. At 490 pages, this is not a little notebook you can shove in your purse. And maybe just the thought of having everything together in one place is both a relief and…a bit daunting. For me, my question before I buy almost anything is, “Am I really going to use it and get my money’s worth?” And I had to ask that question about this planner, no matter that a part of my brain really wanted it. (Magic bullet thinking, anyone?)
Looking over the great website for the planner, seeing examples of all the pages on the Samples page, and checking out the pages that Susie May had filled in for her life – that all helped me see how helpful this could be for me. But the real kicker was when I read that Susie May also created a course for this (over 7 hours of planning help!), showing us how she uses the Planner to “live with joy and get it all done.” The course is free when you pre-order the planner!
In one of the podcast interviews, she and I talked about how to schedule a writing life to be productive, but still enjoy our friends and family and a good night’s sleep. If I’ve learned anything from my recent collision with burnout, it’s that we can plan and time-manage ourselves into a breakdown. What I’m seeing as I look over the sample pages and read the text on the website is a tool created by a writer who knows the importance of prioritizing and saying no.
We can’t do everything. But a good planner – this one, or something else that works better for you – can help us to keep our priorities front-of-mind. For me, I think that’s a key to having both a productive work life and a peaceful personal life.
I bought the planner five minutes after I got the email announcing that it was available. 😀 And I’ve already started the course. I figure it might help me finish out 2018 with a bang, but mostly I want 2019 to be my best year ever – and that’s going to require both planning (duh) and some hard questions. What will I continue doing in the next year, and what will I give up for now? What are my greatest strengths and how can I use them better next year? How can I hold myself accountable for the new healthy habits I’m developing?
For me, My Brilliant Writing Planner and the course that goes with it are going to be my most important tools, so I wanted to make sure you knew about them, too. Bring on 2019! 😀
If you read my June post, you know I’ve been struggling with burnout, and now also struggling to understand what it is and how to overcome it. In July, I talked about one of my favorite topics – hitting the Restart button. That seemed a timely topic in the middle of the year and in the middle of the burnout problem.
Today I did some freewriting first thing in the morning to ask myself some questions. Mostly, and specifically, what do I like to write?
I was listening to Susan May Warren and Rachel Hauck in one of their free classes, I think the Dream Killers episode, and Rachel said you have to know what you like to write. Or what you like to write about. If you like writing blogs and articles and short stories, but hate writing 50,000-word novels, don’t write novels! If you love writing 100,000-word epic fantasy books but hate writing blogs, don’t write blogs!
And it made me wonder if the reason I rarely post to my blog is because I don’t actually like blogging, or if it’s something else. Maybe I don’t like having to create a super interesting and helpful piece for others that doesn’t resonate for me when I write it. (That would be weird if it were true because I love helping people!) Maybe I need to write blog posts that are more for me, things I find more interesting despite whether I think others will also find it interesting.
That may be part of it, but I really think it’s more the pressure I put on myself – create an interesting post that readers will love, or don’t bother writing anything at all. No wonder I’ve gotten it into my head that I don’t like blogging.
Funny, this is a very similar problem to the bigger one over the last several months when I was trying to decide if I still liked to write books. Then I went to RWA in July and I seemed to come alive during the writing sprints at the start and end of each day! I started writing on a book idea, Abra Cadaver, just for the fun of it with no idea when I would work it into my production schedule. I had a blast! And I wrote a ton! I already have an outline for a trilogy. 😀
So how can I find a similar burst of enthusiasm for blogging? Or how can I find out if I do or don’t enjoy blogging under the right circumstances? (And what are those magic circumstances?)
Are you struggling with not knowing if you even like to write? Blogs or books? In my mind, most writers are not struggling with this. This is my own personal problem that is a result of my own personal burnout. So my mind said this is a waste of time and energy and blogging space to even put it into words.
But what if I’m wrong and I’m not being self-centered and someone out there needs me to write this? Maybe you?
When I first woke up this morning, I read my Bible, Matthew 17. I was thinking about how interesting it was that Peter said, of course my master pays the temple tax, and then he walked back to where they were staying and before he could speak, Jesus brought up the subject in a roundabout way. But it’s Peter’s walk back that I was focused on.
What was Peter thinking? Was he thinking that he’d spoken too quickly again? Was he wondering if he was right, or maybe he’d answered the priest incorrectly? Was he trying to convince himself of one way of thinking or another? Was he building an argument to convince Jesus of a particular way of thinking?
And then Jesus not only asks him a question that directly gives Peter the answer to the question before Peter can even tell Jesus what happened, but we find out God is already providing for the physical need as well. Go fish, Jesus says, and in the first fish will be money enough to pay for your tax and mine.
I usually read that part and think, gross, gutting a fish would be so gross to me. But today I read it and thought, hey, that’s like God telling me to go write something or create a new set of ads for my books and the money that would come in would be the exact amount for some need I have.
That I could do!
This blog post is already too long, too long-winded, too personal, and I’m still not sure if I should post it because someone might find it helpful, or if I should relegate it to the private journaling area, forever hidden. (Burnout apparently brings out all my insecurities!)
See? It’s the pressure to create the perfect post, the one that is helpful, the right length, with content doesn’t annoy anyone if they don’t fit in the target audience.
The Pressure Monster is telling me to stop, don’t post this, don’t even write blog posts anymore. (Even though I have three blogs! All neglected, but important to me.) Heck, the Pressure Monster says, it would be far safer for you and far better for everyone else if you just stopped writing altogether.
I’m posting this anyway. Without taking time to find the perfect pictures to post with it, or try to create SEO-worthy subheadings. It’s my way to defeat the monster.
What is the Pressure Monster attacking you about? What are you not writing or not doing because the pressure to do it “right” is too much? Maybe some of it doesn’t need to be done or written at all! Maybe you’ll decide some of it is important enough to do even if you don’t do it “perfectly” this time.
Either choice can be a good one, so choose! I hope this post helps you defeat the Pressure Monster, too. 😀
Since it’s early July, I’ve been thinking about and talking about and podcasting about hitting the Restart button. How have we been getting on with the writing goals we decided upon six months ago?
I know that I am way off from what I expected. Moving to another country will do that to you! So I’ve been thinking about how I want to adjust the year to finish with strong, achievable goals. I did a live broadcast presentation for the Yosemite Romance Writers in May, and decided to use the recording for a mid-year podcast. Here’s the link to the audio, and here’s the embedded video.
Right after I posted that episode, it occurred to me that it might be a good time for a personal goal review as well. When I started thinking about that for myself, I realized I had some changes to make in my life if I wanted to accomplish my new/biggest goal for the year – recovering from burnout.
Here is the link to the audio. And here is the video with my self-discovery. 😉
I’ve been getting a lot of feedback from people about the episodes where I’ve talked about my firsthand experience with burnout. (Here’s the embarrassingly honest look at my journey in audio and in video.) Now that I see how much it affects other people as well, I’m going to bring on more guests to talk about how to recover and how to avoid it. I hope my willingness to talk about both burnout and restarting helps others – you included! 😀
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