Theme

Here at the Roses of Prose, we believe Opposites Attract! Check out our take on these opposites.

April: Success and Failure

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Success Versus Failure: Pick One If You'd Like, I Did by Margo Hoornstra


"You can accomplish anything you set your mind to."

Those special words were spoken to me by my mother, almost every single day as I was growing up. That late, great lady never missed a chance to boost my confidence and build my self esteem. Her positivity worked beautifully too.

For the most part.

If I wanted something bad enough to really go after it, whatever 'it' was, was mine. Cool! Gaining the above average grades I'd strive for in elementary school, high school and college. Obtaining just about every job I went after in the work force. A successful marriage, four happy, healthy, well adjusted kids.

Then one day I decided to write a book and get it published. Oh, if only we could receive our fondest desires by sheer will of striving and wanting.

NOT!

Suddenly the people I encountered (read agents and editors) sang a decidedly different tune.

Obviously, they'd never spoken to my mother. They also didn't actually sing to me either. Didn't even communicate face to face. I can't tell you how many times I'd read those many, many thanks but no thanks responses and be sorely tempted to contact 'those people' again.

With a slightly different type of pitch that would go something like this.

Okay, people, listen up. I'm not sure you're fully aware who you're dealing with here, much less the woman who raised me. According to her, I want this, I've worked hard for this. My mother said, if those two conditions were met 'this' was mine. So, go ahead, reconsider what must have been your hastily formed decision to reject my work. I'll wait.

Yeah, right. Very professional. That behavior would have certainly gotten my foot in the door of any number of publishing houses. Don't you think? More like said foot firmly lodged in my mouth and half way down my throat. Or firmly placed somewhere else by those I was striving so hard to impress.

Eventually, I did find a publisher for my work, an amazing The Wild Rose Press with my first book Honorable Intentions, scores of short stories and a number of novellas.

Now I'm on the hunt again.

Perseverance, determination, desire. All successful authors have that. The stories of how so many successful authors 'did it' abound. Doctor Seuss was rejected 27 times. John Grisham faced numerous rejections until a small press picked up his first book for a 5,000 run printing. Even Nora Roberts didn't score her first time out. Janet Evanovich either. Not hardly. I could go on and on, but you get the idea.

In addition to perseverance, determination and desire, large doses of self esteem are necessary, along with a smattering of insanity. With all due respect to writers everywhere, Albert Einstein said it best. "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."

Well call me insane, because I'm at it again. Going the cold call query route, seeking a home for STOLEN TRUST, my latest completed work.



I've even come up with a tag line.

A parolee hides her past from a bounty hunter set on revenge.

Here's an excerpt:

Brad Collins rolled the old half-ton Bridges for Hire pickup to a stop in front of the sorry looking colonial and immediately questioned the wisdom of using small town handyman as his cover.

He had so hoped to keep this operation simple. Not take on what looked like the biggest remodel job in Upper Michigan history.

White two-story with a wrap-around porch was how the lady on the phone described the house. When they discussed a porch renovation and, according to her, other minor repairs.

Minor repairs my ass.

Jamming his left foot down to set the parking brake, he snatched the ripped piece of notebook paper off the seat beside him. This was the address he’d written down.  He checked the numbers on a partially rusted mailbox. Same number.

There was no turning back now. Arriving in Cascade Lake, his old partner's lead, one Harlan Bridges, was shamelessly simple to find and pump for information. Brad concocted a story he’d heard about the place from friends and wanted to check it out. Turned out Rest Easy’s owner had just called the contractor about finishing some old repairs. Bridges went on to lament the fact he was already short-handed, soon to be over extended.

One thing led to another, and damned if the man didn’t offer him a job on the spot.

Brad’s scowl twisted into a smile. What were the chances he’d run across someone willing to hire an outsider on a handshake and little else? No background check. No intrusive questions.

Making a fist, he crushed the paper into a tight ball he tossed to the truck floor. Most people in these out of the way towns were just too damned trusting for their own good.


Lucky for me, my mother, her positive attitude and precious words of encouragement still live in my heart, guiding me to success.

My days to blog here are the 11th and 23rd. For more about me and my stories, please visit my WEBSITE

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Having it All ~ by Leah St. James

I came of age in an odd, in-between period of time. The hippie movement had passed, disco ruled, and the women’s movement was beginning to establish a foothold in the hearts and minds of America’s female population.

By the time I was a young teen, Billie Jean King had (successfully) challenged Bobby Riggs to see women not as a weaker gender but as equal.  A few years later, Helen Reddy sang“I am Woman,” declaring “If I have to, I can do anything.”



Women, once consigned by societal mores to traditional roles of wife, mother, secretary, nurse and teacher, could now do more. We could marry, raise a family, go to law school or med school, get an MBA from Harvard and run a company—we could do anything.

With the help of scholarships, I went to college and started taking classes like biology and chemistry. I didn’t know where that path would lead, but I knew I wanted to do something important. I wanted to make a difference—maybe decoding the genes that defined disease.

Then I met my husband.

Before I knew it, was married and living in a suburb of Washington, D.C., working for one of the federal agencies that hunts down bad guys. I was doing something that mattered. Another checkmark on my having-it-all list.

A couple years later, son number one was born, and my list was complete. I had the meaningful career, marriage to a wonderful guy, and motherhood with all its joys. Joys like breathing in that clean baby scent, watching him sleep, his little mouth making sucking movements as he dreamed of eating. Playing at bath time, water splashing and sloshing over the rim of the tub, onto the floor. Watching him toddle those first tentative steps. Reading to him, singing to him – Okay, he preferred my husband’s impersonation of Elvis’s “C.C. Rider” over my Linda Ronstadt, but whatever.

I also remember sleepless nights, constant exhaustion and weekends filled with cleaning and shopping and hours at the Laundromat. I remember fighting D.C. traffic morning and night, using “vacation” days to stay home with a sick baby, and daycare bills that took most of my pay. And the worst—the GUILT of leaving my baby with strangers for more than 50 hours a week.

At work, I stumbled from day to day, watching the clock until I could bolt for home. I was doing it all—marriage, motherhood, career—but struggled to do it well.

When our second son came along, I quit my full-time job to do transcription work. The pay was lousy but I could work at home on my schedule. I joined PTA committees, served as grade mom and went on class trips. I worked crazy hours—late nights and weekends—but I had a ball.

My sons are grown now and I'm so proud of the men they've become. But I can't help but wonder how things would have turned out had I stayed the career course. Money would have been easier over the years, and my sons probably wouldn't be carrying the same student debt load, but would they be different men?

So my question is: Can a mother be successful at having “it all”?

I think you can, with the right circumstances. (Alicia Dean shared her story on the 19th.) For me, it wasn’t until I’d redefined “it all,” that I was happy and counted my choices a success.

What about you?
______________________

Leah writes stories of mystery and romance, good and evil, and the enduring power of love. Please visit Leah at LeahStJames.com.

Monday, April 21, 2014

It's always changing by Barbara Edwards

What is success—?

I wish I knew what success is. My definitions and markers keep changing on a whole bunch of different levels. It’s a kind of bucket list. When one goal is accomplished, it’s immediately replaced by another.
I remember how hard it was to finish my first book. I wrote and rewrote. Took advice, and then changed my mind. That first manuscript took years to write.
Then the goal was to find a publisher. Another marker of success was when an editor loved it.
Success was that contract in my hand. Wow. I cried so hard and ate too much chocolate to celebrate.
Only that was the start not the finish in the run for publication. A book cover, edits, galleys, blurb and dedication all needed doing and everyone was a small success along the road.
My first book wasn’t a bestseller. So I set that as a goal. My name in the New York Times would be so fine.
Didn’t happen with the next four books either. Then came Journey of the Magi, a short Christmas story in a genre I never wrote before. It didn’t make the New York Times, but it did hit the Amazon Holiday Romance Bestseller list. That resulted in more chocolate and tears.
I just realized I eat a lot of chocolate when I’m happy.
So the next goal was to finish book three in my Rhodes End Series and it is currently being put into galleys.
So here’s a peek at the cover.
Date to be published-Soon!
Please follow, friend or like me. I love to hear from my readers.
Amazon Author’s Page http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B003F6ZK1A



Sunday, April 20, 2014

A Successful Holiday

Easter, 2009 - the year the whole family got snorkel gear instead of candy! Wishing you a Happy Easter if you celebrate it, and a wonderful spring to all!
Laura Breck

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Failing/Succeeding as a Parent by Alicia Dean



I have had several jobs in my life, but none were as important as my job as a mother. I've experienced my share of successes and failures in many areas, but how do I measure success as a parent? I was a single parent for most of their growing up years, but I was lucky that their father was in their lives (every other weekend, which gave me some time to myself, and ensured they kept a connection with their dad), and I was especially lucky that my parents cared for the kids while I worked. I insisted on paying them, but I didn't pay them as much as I would have a day care, and I did not have to worry about my children being mistreated. They were in a loving, safe environment, which gave me a tremendous sense of peace of mind.


I have definitely dealt with some trials in raising my children, even once they became adults. I had an especially harrowing experience with one adult child, which made me seriously question my abilities as a parent. I asked myself over and over if it was my fault. But then I would think, if it’s my fault, why didn’t it happen with the other two? I don’t think there’s a good answer to these questions. I think sometimes, in spite of our best efforts, things happen with our children we can’t control. We just have to do the best we can and raise them with love and discipline. Thank God things are much better now.


This is Lana and Lacey, who are now 30 and 28, respectively.



This is Presley, who is 21.




Here they are all grown up (You might have seen this on my FB page. I use the same pic over and over because it’s the only one I have of the three of them together as adults)


And here is a picture that Presley drew for a third grade school assignment about “Looking into the Future”:





I’m not sure if you can read his childish scrawl, but it says:
I see myself robbing banks and putting grenades in mailboxes and chimneys.
(as you can see, he included a nice little drawing to represent his plans for the future. And, yes, he actually turned this in. Fortunately, his teachers knew of his wild imagination and that he was a well-behaved child and wasn’t a danger to society, so we had no Homeland Security issues to deal with.)

I am pleased to say that he did not, however, grow up to rob banks or put grenades in mailboxes and chimneys. I most definitely count that as a success. :) He had a slightly twisted mind-set as a young child, and kind of still does (myself and my three children love horror movies, serial killer stories, and all kinds of dark and creepy things). But, as my sister , Christi Robertson Perryman, pointed out, this is the same kid who goes to see his grandmother in the nursing home each week on his only day off and lies next to her on the bed and visits with her and pats her hand. So...I think we're certain that he's relatively harmless.


In spite of the hard work and trials (and mistakes and regrets), being a mother was a joy and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. As adults, all three of my children are healthy, happy, and well-adjusted (for the most part :)). They are respectful to me, we’re very close, and they still like to spend time with me. They are all hilarious and a blast to hang out with. I talk with all three of them on the phone, if not in person, pretty much daily. They come to me to vent, ask for advice, or to just talk about things going on in their lives. Can I count that as a sign of success? Or did I just get lucky? Whether it was any of my own doing or not, I’m very proud of the adults my children have become, and I treasure our relationship.


Parenting is the hardest job I’ve ever had, yet the most rewarding. I heard a saying once that a mother is only as happy as her unhappiest child, and I have found that to be painfully true.


What about you? How do you measure success as a parent?

Friday, April 18, 2014

Blogging as a Promotional Tool by Jannine Gallant


Blogging--does it help promote our books? Editors and agents tell us to get out there and blog our little hearts out. People pay good money for blog tours to promote their books. I've done blog hops for prizes, and I guest blog on occasion (i.e. when I have a new book out or a freebie or a sale). Once in a while I even slap something up on my own blog. (Yes, I'm the first to admit I'm a bad blogger. Bad. Bad. Blogger!) Except here at the Roses of Prose. Our lovely group blog. I never miss my days mainly because I try to plan and prepare my posts ahead of time. And I like to throw down my opinions on everyone else's posts.

So, back to the original question--is all this blogging successful? Or is it a time-sucking failure! I guess it all depends on how you look at it. Let's break it down by types.

Blog Tours: The last one I did, I had almost no comments from readers. Even the hostesses failed to chime in at several stops. I have a sneaking suspicion many authors sign up to be blog tour hosts, post the blogs they get, then forget all about them. In other words, they don't bother to advertise. Don't get me wrong, I think there are some hosts out there who really try. It's a mixed bag, and you just don't know what you'll get. Most authors favor the blog tours that include reviews. I'd love to hear opinions about this.

Blog Hops for Prizes: I did one of these not too long ago. I chipped in my share and got quite a few comments. You had to comment to be eligible to win. However, when all was said and done, I didn't sell one book. Most of the other authors had the same results. Frustrating.

Guest Blogging: When I have something to promote, I'll frequently ask friends if I can guest on their blogs. Since they're my friends, they generally promote my appearance. I enjoy visiting them. My only issue is I have a sneaking suspicion I'm not reaching anyone new. Our writer community tends to move in circles--the same circles, reaching the same people. I've been told (repeatedly!) I should branch out to find new blogs with similar interests to mine and ask to guest. Not so easy since I'm not good at pushing myself on people I don't know. I need to work on this one!

My Personal Blog: (sigh) I gave this a real shot. I set it up with a theme. I like to cook, so I posted recipes weekly along with posts about books, etc. I kept at it...and at it...and at it...and then gave up. Everyone says you have to keep posting and eventually your blog will attract followers and grow. My question--how long is eventually? After a year of posting, I was averaging maybe 20 hits on days I posted and zero comments. Maybe patience isn't my strongest virtue, but I threw in the towel. Now, I use it once in a blue moon (sorry for all these cliches!) when I have a free or sale book to push. I know, pathetic! So, can anyone tell me how long eventually is? Did your personal blogs gain a strong following after a while?

Last But Not Least--Group Blogs: We have a wonderful group here. I only have to post twice a month. Everyone is friendly and supportive. We comment on each other's posts. We each bring different readers to the blog (I hope). Instead of my feeble 20 hits a day, here we get a couple of hundred. These are all good things. Do I sell more books on my days to post. Honestly, no. But since I like being part of a group, and I see value in cultivating supportive relationships and being available to readers on a regular basis, I feel our group blog is a success!

One final thing that makes most of us batty! Comments. Seems like the only people who leave comments are other authors. The number of comments never correlates to the number of daily hits. What does this mean? I think it means that there are actual readers out there who drop in occasionally or regularly to see what we have to say. Either they're shy and don't feel the need to comment, or they don't have blogger accounts. I think that's the key. If you aren't actively promoting, would you go to the trouble of creating an account? If it were me--I wouldn't. So, despite all this, I'll keep on blogging and hope someone out there is reading it!

If you've gotten this far, do I have a deal for you! WE'LL NEVER TELL is on sale for only .99 cents! Today is the last day of my Kindle Countdown Deal, so get a copy now. Click HERE.

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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Controlling the Beast of Social Media by Betsy Ashton

Writers face a daily dilemma: how much time to spend on social media marketing books and how much time in writing new ones. Our agents press us for new manuscripts which have to be written, edited and re-edited before we submit to the agent. Once the agent passes the multi-edited manuscript to the publisher, the writer faces additional edits and proof reads. At the same time as we are preparing the current WIP for publication, we are expected to be working on the next manuscript. The juggling act is worthy of the Ringling Bros center ring.

We are expected to have a presence on social media. Facebook. Twitter. LinkedIn. The next social media fad. Publishers tell us we need a platform we can exploit for book sales. No platform seems good enough. They pressure us to expand, spend more time in social media. Out on speaking engagements we set up. Out on book tours we set up. Out in signing events we set up. Tweet all the time. Post all the time. Blog all the time.

Some writers hit the daily slide into the social media sand trap and emerge hours later or not at all. If I don't set limits, I'll "check my mail and posts on FB" before I begin writing. I'll answer only critical messages, look at the most important posts on my timeline. Oh, look, how cute is that kitten. I love kitties. I respond. Before I know it, I need more coffee. What? Two hours flew by? It can't be.

I decide I'll watch the clock in the corner of the computer screen. Right next to that wonderfully snarky post from one of my favorite FB friends. Someone is following me on Twitter? I have to check out this intelligent person who finds me worthy of a follow. I tweet back, receive a response and trip lightly into conversation that goes nowhere but takes time.

I don't suffer from writer's block. I don't have ADD or ADHD. I love writing, but those snarky Maxine comics must be read.

I put my foot down. No more wasting time. Watching the clock was a failure. I asked my husband for a special present two Christmases ago. I wanted a special egg timer. Mine has blue sand and flows for 15 minutes. When the sand of time runs out, I switch off my wi-fi and get back to work.

Oops. Time's up. What works for you?

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Betsy Ashton is the author of Mad Max Unintended Consequences published in March 2013 by Koehler Books.