Friday, January 31, 2014

How My Day Job Helped Me Get Published by Maria K. Alexander

Please welcome Maria K. Alexander, our guest on The Roses of Prose today.

Like many, I juggle a job during the day and writing in between the early morning hours and in the evenings after the kids are in bed. This means I get up before the sun and often go to bed much too late, resulting in only five or six hours of sleep. I can attribute much of my organization and discipline to my day job as a Project Manager, where my life revolves around schedules, to do lists, and budgets. I regularly assess, manage, and respond to risks. Re-planning and identifying creative solutions to a problem is a skill I’m very familiar with. Here are a few things being in corporate America has taught me that have helped me on my journey to publication:
1.      Develop annual goals and objectives 
Although it can be painful to write, you should have a plan for your writing career—even if you’re not published. And the plan shouldn’t just be in your head. Write it down. I recently attended Bob Mayer and Jen Talty’s Write It Forward workshop and according to them, you should have an overall five-year strategic plan along with tactical goals to get there. Like I’m required to do twice a year for the day job, I write down what I’ve accomplished toward meeting my goal. This helps me to re-evaluate if I need to change my approach, establish additional tactical goals, or maybe eliminate goals that don’t apply any longer. The publishing industry is changing quickly, so you must continuously make sure the steps you’re taking are on the road toward where you want to be.
2.      Daily or weekly “to do” list
I’m a list person. It’s been ingrained in me compliments of Mom and necessary for the day job. It includes the key things I need to do over the next couple weeks, plus a few ‘wish’ items that I’d like to do if I have time. I keep the list right next to my laptop and assess daily. Unfortunately, I often end up adding more items than I cross off.
3.      Risk Mitigation and Contingency Planning
There’s always going to be something that comes up that will take you away from accomplishing your writing. Sometimes, you’ll be able to plan for interruptions. Like when you take a vacation. But other times it won’t be planned, and it impacts your ability to write or possibly even meet a deadline. Try and go with the flow and adjust your plan and your expectations, accordingly.
4.      There will be failures
There will be times when despite doing all you’ve set out to do, you don’t meet a goal. Maybe you receive a bad review or a rejection. It happens and it’s easy to beat yourself up about it. Don’t. It’s not worth it and will only keep you looking back instead of moving forward. If possible, try to remain objective and take away any key learnings that you can apply.
5.      Celebrate your achievements
When you hit a goal, receive an award, get a request for a partial or full manuscript, write the words “the end” at the completion of your book, get an agent, or a publishing contract, remember to celebrate. My local RWA Chapter (NJ Romance Writers) does something at our monthly meetings where they give out Hershey Hugs when you get bad news and a flower when you receive good news. It’s a fun way of acknowledging a special moment.

Thanks for stopping by today. To celebrate the Kindle release of my contemporary romance, Untangle My Heart, I’m giving away a $25 Amazon GC. Stop by the Contest page of my website to enter. Through February 1st, Untangle My Heart is available Free at Amazon. If you’re so inclined, please pick up a copy and provide a fair and honest review.

Blurb for Untangle My Heart, by Maria K. Alexander
When her marriage ended in tragedy, Kate DiFrancesco rebuilt her life, but has never gotten over the pain of what she lost. Seeking the help of an ex-lover ignites feelings she’s promised never to have again. She’ll need to untangle herself from dangers in her past in order to break the hard shell around her heart.
Edward Weston has a lot to prove, both to his stuffy upper-crust British family, and to               himself. Working alongside Kate, a woman he had a casual relationship with, stirs unexpected feelings. Helping her family makes him realize what he's missing. For the first time, he wants more than a one-night stand.
When Kate is threatened, Edward must overcome feeling unworthy to protect the woman he loves and fight for the family he never thought he’d have.
“Privacy is a hard thing to find around here, so you may want to lock the door. Especially when you’re wearing only a towel and my sister is on the prowl.”
“I’ll have to remember that,” Edward said, taking a step toward her. “I knew she was smitten, but didn’t think she would be waiting in the room after my shower. I was struggling with a tactful way of getting her out.”
“I’m sure you’re not accustomed to asking a woman to leave your room.”
He gave her an unapologetic grin. “No, usually not.”
“I guess it’s partly my fault. I told her I don’t have any claims to you. Apparently she took that to mean it was open season to pursue you.”
“Yet you stopped by. Why?”
“I wanted to thank you again for your help today. You dropped everything to come and help my family and that means a lot to me.”
He took another step toward her until he stood directly in front of her. “You mean a lot to me. I’d do anything I could to help you.”
She nodded in acknowledgement, not sure she could trust her voice to speak with him all but touching her.
“And you’re wrong about not having a claim on me.”
His hands found their way to her waist. Her heart thumped and she knew she should pull back, wanted to pull back. But his blue-gray eyes held her in a hypnotic state and she couldn’t move.

You can keep in touch with Maria at:
The Violet Femmes Blog:
You can buy Untangle My Heart at:
For Amazon Kindle:
In Print from The Wild Rose Press:


Unknown said...

Thanks for hosting me today. What was a major turning point in your writing career?

Ashantay said...

You've posted wonderful guidelines for not only succeeding in day jobs but also for completing manuscripts. I've downloaded your book and look forward to reading your work. Best wishes with your release!

Unknown said...

Thanks, Ashantay. Appreciate your support. Enjoy the books and the tips!

Rebecca Grace said...

Great post, Maria. You provide some wonderful ideas. I especially like the last one -- Celebrate successes. Sometimes we get too caught up failure to succeed and forget to enjoy when we do something special...and typing The End is very special. I applaud myself when I finish a chapter.

Unknown said...

Great post, Maria. Your organization and dedication amazes me. Congratulations on your release. I loved Steamy Edward and Kate!

Jannine Gallant said...

I thought I was pretty organized, but you could teach a class on it! Great advice here. Best of luck with sales!

Alicia Dean said...

Awesome advise. I am a list maker too, but mine are not all that organized. I use index card and I end up with a stack of them with some things marked off and some things added until I have to transfer everything to another list to clean them up. Maybe if I would use that time to DO some of the things on the list, it would work better. :) Your book sounds great. Going over to check it out now.

Unknown said...

Great post Maria! I do like the idea of writing down my goals. I never did this in the past, but I also attended Bob Mayer's workshop and think this is an effective idea. Thank you!

Margo Hoornstra said...

Welcome, Maria and thanks for sharing the plan that works for you. I'm good at thinking about what I want to accomplish. Maybe writing it down would be better, huh?

Anonymous said...

Very interesting advice, Maria. We all have plans that work for us one way or another but it's always good to get some fresh ideas.

Leah St. James said...

Sorry I'm late reading this! Just want to add my thanks for the terrific advice. I have a day job, too, that requires intense planning and coordination...and constant juggling. Unfortunately I haven't yet transferred those day-job skills to my writing life. D'oh! (Actually, I think I'm too tired when I get home!) :-) Just downloaded your book. Thanks!

Leah St. James said...

I meant to ask -- do you live in Jersey now? I'm a Jersey "girl" living in the south, Monmouth County native and former NJRW member. :-)

Unknown said...

Thanks for all the comments and kind words, everyone.

Leah - yes, I live in Mercer County and am a member of both NJRW and Liberty State Fiction Writers. It's nice to meet a native "Jersey Girl".