It’s not bleeding enough: why 2017 is taking me away from the things that keep me safe

If it bleeds, it leads.

In journalism, what’s most important goes first—on the front page, in the first words of a headline, in the first sentences of a paragraph. Find what will hook the reader and then let the information fan out through the story, all the way down to the least impactful (but still relevant) information.

The last two years, after looking at pages of manuscripts, I’ve told my fair share of established and budding authors: It’s not bleeding enough. 

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A Colorado writer's cottage and a dream

Over on my personal blog I've been writing about (of all things) writing, reinvention and new paths for the future.

The main message has been: I don't know where I'm going, but I know who I'm going with. I'll marry Lee this December and our internal ticker will officially begin: not for having babies, but for moving to Colorado.

We are big dreamers, he and I. One thing we have in common is a deeply rooted desire to live in unmatched beauty, away from sweltering, neverending summers. Whether we move in year one of marriage or year three, we don't know. But we have a few criteria:

  • a just-the-right-size house with few frills and lots of natural light
  • close to good schools and medical care
  • land, land and more land, but not too much that we can't be friendly with our neighbors
  • a working garage, a vegetable garden, a flower garden
  • a cottage for guests

This list is the product of a lot of conversations, and nothing is set in stone. But these are the things we know will fulfill us. I'll spare you the details of how we developed this working list, but the cottage on that land is REALLY IMPORTANT to me.

Dreaming big, ridiculous dreams

This is a very vulnerable place to be. When you are known as a woman with an action plan and the "forward motion" person, having a dream can feel much like being naked in the middle of the state fair. It's just not something someone like me seeks out to share (but others do?!). Lately I've been in a place where my whole life has (rightly, happily) centered on everything but my own little dreams. Planning a wedding and combining your life with someone else's sort of makes that a necessity.

And OH BOY how I've missed my little dreamy states. When I'm not dreaming or creating, I get into a dark place and it's not pretty. In an effort to lap up the happy juice from dreaming about my next big dream, I'll tell you something I want THAT I HAVE NO PLAN OR GUARANTEE THAT IT WILL COME TRUE. Ahh ... what if this never comes to fruition? What if people see me as a failure and NO ONE EVER HIRES ME AGAIN? Sigh. This vulnerability crap is the pits.

When I'm not being dramatic and when I am dreaming big without any fear in sight, here's what my dream looks like. It would SOMEHOW combine all my favorite things: writers, cooking, hosting and they would all revolve around this cottage/writer's retreat. To bring this dream to REAL LIFE life, I saved some photos from Pinterest for you to scroll through.

 
 

In my wildest, unhinged dreams we would live on 10 acres in Colorado that was no more than 1.5 hours from Denver International Airport. This cottage would be a writer's retreat to end all writer's retreats, designed for the writer looking for part-retreat, part-kick-in-the-pants, part-customized-writing-prompts, part-soulful-conversations. In my mind, this is what an itinerary would look like:

4 Weeks Prior to Arrival: Manuscript review and 2 weekly writing coaching calls

2 Weeks Prior to Arrival: All writing STOPS.

Week of Visit outline looks like this:

  • Morning guided meditation
  • Morning breakfast and conversation
  • Secluded writing between meals
  • Lunch outside or near sunshine
  • Nature walk or gardening for one hour after lunch
  • Dinner with family OR queued writing inspiration
  • Evening tea, wine or dessert
  • Evening outline writing for next day's writing plan

Here are a few of the things that I think could really set this writer's retreat apart:

1. Homemade, organic, nutritious meals that can be catered to celiac, gluten, vegetarian, dairy, allergies preferences. (I'm proficient in ALL of these cooking styles.)

2. Customized writing prompts that I create and are timed to push the visiting writer to their next stage of writing (or not, if they need more time).

3. Conversations to discuss the "inner doubter" that all writers possess.

4. Guided meditation to set our intentions each day and promote spaciousness in our minds. [I've applied to be certified in 2017 to share meditation instruction!]

How will this ever happen?

Honestly, I'm not sure when or how this will come to fruition. I suppose I could create a KickStarter once we move to Colorado and raise funds for building, decorating, outfitting the entire space (in exchange for time in the cottage, perhaps?). Or maybe we'll win the lottery.

This is where I want to be. Somewhere beautiful, creating beautiful places for weary travelers and writers alike to escape and rejuvenate and find a happy home away from home in the Colorado mountains. I never knew what home felt like until I saw a mountain range from my bedroom window. There's nothing quite like it, so stay tuned folks, and let me know if you have any ideas on how to make this even better! 

When pressing the reset button won't do ...

For the last two years, entrepreneurship has been a wild ride. I relished the personal freedom to work from my living room or desk at any hour of the day, but for all the perks of independent working (and trying to create a business that could scale and grow), there are some obvious challenges. Never knowing where your next pay check is coming from, and recruiting, training and organizing talent, to name a few. Over time, the cons of business ownership began to outweigh the good. To solve my problems in life, I have the habit of pressing the reset button, when in reality, sometimes things need to die in order for them to be reborn.

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Effecting change and using discernment in storytelling

If you glance at a list of TED talks about storytelling, you’ll get any subject from Twitter fiction to “a better way to talk about abortion,” and everything (and I mean everything) in-between.

In other words—even the so-called experts have a hard time defining the concept of storytelling, why it’s so powerful, and most importantly—how and when to do it.

How do you define something humans have done since the beginning of… humanity? 

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Tips for Proofreading in the Age of Distraction

I have the great pleasure of writing, editing and proofreading for AB Editorial.  It’s one of my dream jobs.  This introvert loves to settle into her quiet home office, steaming mug of coffee in hand, and break out the mental Red Pen.

Most proofreaders are avid readers in general – but that’s not to say that the job is always easy.  You do enough proofing and editing and you can find yourself skimming without paying much attention.  This goes double for particularly dry content.  Beyond considerations such as style and grammar, I’m concerned with clarity and whether the message is cogent.  Naturally, this doesn’t allow for a wandering mind.

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What traditional publishers don't want you to know

"Carol's website has 1 million unique visitors per month," I told my friend at dinner. "She doesn't need traditional publishing anymore. If anything, traditional publishing needs her, which is why she had five different book agents come to her in 2015, begging her to write a book."

My friend, a retired publishing veteran, slowly sipped her coffee and smiled at me, nodding in agreement.

It's time to talk about the big secret in traditional publishing

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Why self publishing is attracting established authors

In 2009, five employees and I hauled 10,000 copies of a self-published book to an air-conditioned U-HAUL storage container.

We were publishing my boss's book. A human factors engineer, he was intrigued by the idea of becoming a publisher, so he hired a team to produce a book about human error (of all things). 

It felt like we learned everything the hard way. 

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Where [BOOKS] belong in your sales funnel in 2016

What and where you put content in your sales funnel matters. Whether you're in content marketing, inbound marketing or just regular, old-fashioned marketing, the elements that you use to court a prospective customer matter a lot. Today I want to look at a few places where I think self-publishing a book makes sense as part of a company's marketing initiatives.

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