Thursday, January 23, 2014

Spotlighting: RT Reviewers' Choice Nominee Dawn Atkins


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I opened my copy of Romantic Times a short time ago and saw that my friend Dawn Atkins was up for a Reviewers' Choice Award. That was so cool and I immediately invited her to be my first 2014 Spotlight guest.

Welcome, Dawn, and tell us a little about your award nominated Superomance . . . 

I’m thrilled to be a guest on Imagination Gone Wild to talk about how thrilled I was to have my 2013 Harlequin SuperRomance BACK WHERE SHE BELONGS nominated by Romantic Times Book Club for a Reviewer’s Choice Award. The honor is especially sweet because, after publishing 30-some books, I can say that—so far—this was the most difficult book I’ve ever written.

It tells the story of a woman returning to the small town named after her family, which she escaped after high school, to investigate the car accident that killed her father and put her sister in a coma, aided—and occasionally opposed--by her high school flame.

Why was this book so tough? The plot flummoxed me, for one, because it involved technical issues I had to research like crazy—electric cars, batteries, factory functions, brain injuries, recovering from a coma, car accident reconstruction, and on and on. On top of that, the characters remained murky to me far too long. I have to say that by the time I finished the extra revisions on the book, I was sorry to say farewell to Tara and Dylan, who’d become as dear to me as family (well, not quite, but you get the idea….
Dawn Atkins
There is always a burning fear when I write a book that I’ve chosen too difficult a path for the story and the people in it, that I’ve stretched beyond my capacity to convey their journey in a compelling, satisfying and believable way. When it works out, when I reach that satisfying conclusion, the elation is worth every sweated-out word, especially when readers tell me how much the story meant to them. That’s why I do what I do. By the way, the book is still available as an ebook. You can nab it via my website, www.dawnatkins.com or for your Kindle, iPad or Nook.

Sharing this with you has motivated to get back to my next book—A COP IN HER HEART for SuperRomance, about a female cop from a cop family who must investigate the murder of her roommate, shot with Julie’s gun. Sound complicated? Believe me, it is. Here I go again with the agony and the ecstasy of writing it.

Thanks again for allowing me to visit!


Your are so welcome, Dawn, and it was inspiring to read about your process. Not enough writers share this information openly these days and I know readers are very interested in the insider details. So thanks for your generosity. There's probably some aspiring writer out there struggling with their characters' challenging path that will be encouraged by reading how you overcame your challenges.
Till later,
--Connie

CONTACT DAWN:
Via email:  dawn@dawnatkins.com
Website: http://www.dawnatkins.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/DawnAtkinsAuthor
Twitter:  http://twitter.com/dawnatkins 


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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Blog Hop Winners Announced

WINNERS ANNOUNCED
Winter Wonder Man Blog Hop Giveaways
WIN FREE eBooks! Audible Audio Books!
GRAND PRIZE: $50 B&N Gift Card 

 “What makes a hero in movies and books wonderful to the point your toes curl?”

Oh, those abs!
My choice?
Well, it's looks, actually. Who can deny that Brad Pitt, George Clooney and Sean Connery are timelessly sexy and irresistible. Patrick Dempsey, Robert Downey Jr. and Johnny Depp are yum-yum. Robert Patterson and Justin Beiber are, well, too young. But probably the one who curls my toes more than the rest is Josh Holloway playing Sawyer, the wounded bad boy of "Lost." What really appeals to me is that certain ruthless self-honesty. Bruce Willis has that quality too and with him I think it's possibly a bit real. This is a guy that would go to the wall for you then say it didn't mean anything. So I guess, for me, that's the toe curling factor that goes beyond look

CONGRATULATIONS TO . . .

THE WINNERS:

GRAND PRIZE - $50 B&N Gift Card:  Joanne W. from Tera Shanly's Blog
GIVEAWAY #1 - KNOW WHEN TO RUN eBook:  Juana
GIVEAWAY #2 - eBook and SHADOW ON THE MOON Audible Audiobook: Gemma (need email address to deliver prize)
GIVEAWAY #3 - eBook & SHADOW ON THE MOON/SHADOW ON WOLF Audible Audiobooks: Elizabeth  Bookattict

Win in Giveaway #1



Win in Giveaway #2






Part 2 of 2 in Giveaway #3















Saturday, January 11, 2014

Setting Goals is Easy, Reaching Them is Hard #2

BACKSLIDING ALREADY?

So we've asked ourselves the hard questions and concluded we really, really, really want the goal we've just chosen. Then we took the next step and fully committed to fulfilling that goal. Now here it is, nearly two weeks into the new year and our progress  is already slipping.

This is where many of us return to beating up on ourselves. Or the mean and nasty world that is getting in our way. Not everyone has the reaction but many of us do and the important thing here is not to beat up on ourselves for beating up on ourselves. Let's just throw ourselves into our frustration (without beating up on other people) and pretty soon the ugly self-talk will go away.

When that happens, it's time to reassess what we decided last week. Do we really, really, really want the outcome of this goal? I figure most of us really threw ourselves into the questions and are confident we do. But the backsliding happen. What to do next?

THE FOUR THINGS THAT STOP US
1.    An unrealistic schedule.
2.    Divided priorities.
3.    A sudden drop in enthusiasm.
4.    Not knowing what to do next.

WHAT TO DO ABOUT THEM:

1.    Cure Our RDD (Reality Deficit Disorder). We all have it and it tricks us into believing we have unlimited time and energy. We commit to this (sure, I can chair the committee), we commit to that (yeah, I can help out with the carpool). We forget to schedule transition and self-care routines, even meals and sleep. Next thing we know we're awake half the night just to catch up. Sound familiar? If so, try scheduling less goal-oriented time. Be sure to schedule routine life demands into the 'used time' calculation. We do these things every day but we like to pretend the time spent doing them doesn't count. Many of us will also have to expand our vocabularies to include the word 'no.' These changes will push out our deadlines, yes, but double our chances of success.

2.    Divided Priorities. This block sounds a whole lot like unrealistic schedule but it's a lot more damaging to our success. This is the child who always comes home with last minute school projects, the husband who invites company for dinner without consulting us or the boss with repeated emergency overtime demands. While there may be fixes for these situations, they are too individual for a pat solutions. We can only deal with each demand in present time while constantly seeking ways to minimize or even eliminate them. Whatever we do will have to involve the other people, so we must look for ways to gain their assistance. Not always easy.

3.    Sudden Drop in Enthusiasm. This abrupt lack of faith in the goal almost always comes when someone else criticizes our goal or expresses doubt in our ability to achieve it. Not that most of us aren't battling our own inner critic but when someone in authority or a person near and dear to us expresses negative thoughts about our goal, it triggers our critical self-talk. Our only defense is to change our self-talk. Remind ourselves that the critics and nay-sayers aren't necessarily working against us, but they might be afraid we'll stop being the person they want us to be. This is particularly true for people with weight loss or substance abuse challenges since success will bring tremendous change. For us, the hardest part – and what usually kicks off the drop in enthusiasm – is the guilt-trip this lack of support causes. We have to remind ourselves that they have a right to their feelings and opinions. It's also wise to take care that in our eagerness to reach our goal we don't forget to give attention to those we care about.

4.  We Don't Know What to do Next.  This can happen when the task we're undertaking is actually a project. That is, it contains a collection of tasks that have to be done to attain the overall results. There's usually an order of importance in these tasks so that one has to be done before the other can be started. We can safely guess that this is the situation when we feel like we can't move forward. This one is the easiest to fix because we don't have to alter behaviors. We simply have to identify which task comes first. Connected to this particular progress block is when the tasks are so many we don't know where to start. In that case, just pick one. If it's the wrong one, we'll eventually stumble on the right one.

Obviously there are other reasons we get blocked while pursuing a goal, but these are four major one. There is no doubt that life gets in the way. A sick parent, a heavy duty season of Little League, a divorce, a job change. All of these slow down or stop our  progress. The secret is to not give up. Once we've become goal oriented, we will begin to see how this forward-looking attitude adds zest to our life.

Here is one weird little woo-woo trick that helps to stay connected to our goal when life throws a monkey wrench. When you put down your project, make notes in a journal or computer file about where you left off and what your next steps will be. Nothing fancy, just enough to jog your memory and get you restarted.

I do this at the end of every writing session and have found that the notes pull me back to the story and into future writing. You may discover this is true for you. In the meantime, deal with the block to your progress and get back to work as soon as you can. As I said, just like me, you may find that having long-term goals makes life much more exciting and the challenge of the blocks is just part of it.

Previous Post: Setting Goals is Easy, Reaching Them is Hard #1. On Track to Success 
Coming Up: Setting Goals is Easy, Reaching Them is Hard #3. You're Almost There



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She woke up one morning on a Mississippi riverboat with a huge headache and no idea of who she was. Nearly two years later he came after her, claiming she killed her own father. She says he's got the wrong woman. He says she'd guilty as sin. One of them is right . . .


Award-winning, bestselling author Connie Flynn writes both long and short fiction and is published in multiple genres, including paranormal romance, romantic comedy, mystery and suspense, and contemporary fantasy/sci-fi. She lives in Arizona on a lush green park where she walks her dog and escapes from the hot desert sun. Her latest release is the-twists-and-turns romantic suspense, KNOW WHEN TO RUN.

 Back To Connie Flynn Site

Friday, January 3, 2014

Setting Goals is Easy, Reaching Them is Hard #1

KICK OFF THE NEW YEAR ON TRACK TO SUCCESS!

To reach any defined goal  you first have to know yourself and what it actually takes to accomplish your goal. The reason most New Year goals fail is because they aren't clearly defined or there is an environmental or mental/emotional block. Do you want to climb Mount Everest? It's done every day by real people. But you have five young children, limited funds, and no mountain climbing experience. Does this make it impossible? Today, yes. Tomorrow? That depends.

How about becoming a doctor? Or getting a college degree or learning a particular skill? Can you achieve these overnight? Again, probably not and if there isn't some adjustment in thinking, probably never. The mountain climbing goal is not impossible despite the children clinging to your legs and lack of money and experience. You just won't be doing it next week since this is a long term goal.

Novelists start every idea in much the same position as a mountain climber. Who are the people? Where will it take place? How many pages will it be? How will I eat while I'm writing the book?

I know this post seems to be kicking off on a negative tone, but that's only because the way to complete a big goal is to be totally clear on what is true in the moment. You will then be able to effectively choose what to do next.

Rather than tackling everyday doomed-to-fail type New Years goals like losing those last ten pounds, adhering to a regular exercise schedule or being nice to my spouse, we'll look at a way to change your perspective about  staying committed through the long haul. Who knows? Your five pounds could disappear, the barbells become your best friend and your spouse seem much more lovable.

But first we need to tackle what is going on in our lives right now, then head toward how we want it to be. We do this with a series of questions that require brutally honest answers about what we lack and, yes, what we're good at (do not beat up on yourself or be socially acceptably modest - no one knows your answers but you).

What You Want and Why

  • What do you want to accomplish?
  • What is the current state of the goal (halfway there, haven't started yet, it'll happen in a pig's eye -- Be brutally honest but don't beat yourself up)? 
  • What will your life look like when you succeed?
  • What must you do to reduce the gap between what's true now and what is needed to make it a done deal (for most of us, this takes some hard looks at our behaviors, habits and routines)?
  • What behaviors, habits or routines support achievement of your goal?
  • If those traits aren't in your box of tricks, what will it take to develop them?
  • What are you really good at? How can you use it to further progress to your goal?
  • Which of your acknowledged behaviors, habits, or routines are most detrimental to your success?
  • Can you eliminate them? (there is no easy answer because sometimes the sacrifice is too much)?
  • Lastly, ask – do I really, really, really want to pursue this goal?
We might call this sharpening our swords because there's a good chance many of you have not asked yourselves these kinds of questions before. Be willing, when you ask, to set aside previous opinions about the subject and take a fresh look.  You could be surprised to find that many of your goals are designed to please other people or meet society standards. Don't pull back from this knowledge. The fastest way to success is to know what you truly want and that can only happen when you're totally honest with what that truly is.

The more effort you put into your answers the more likely you are to succeed in reaching your goal, no matter how long term, so give a second look at your answers before you tackle section two. Since this is the uplifting part it can be easy to slip into cheerleader mode -- "Yes, I can, rah, rah, rah!." So before you begin, ask again -- do I really, really, really want to pursue this goal? It's important you do, because a goal that doesn't speak to your heart will bring no lasting satisfaction even if you do reach it.


Making Your Goals Stick

  • If you really do want to pursue this goal, say out loud and write down: I really want to achieve ________
  • Are you committed to achieving it? Commitment is different than 'want,' because it implies perseverance.
  • Are you willing to develop the traits that will lead to success?
  • What traits or skills do you already have that will help you succeed? Can you use them to jump start your project?
  • If you're ready, say and write down: I am committed to achieving ______ by (the date you come up with during the next steps)                
Figure out how much time it will take to achieve the goal (example – 300 pages, can do 2 a day, so I need 150 days). Do the same for the stretch goal. You might have to backtrack your production history to see what goal is  within the bounds of current reality.

Figure out how much time you actually have to work on the goal. Look at a yearly calendar. Set aside all days that are already scheduled, even it's only for a doctor's appointment. Figure out how much time in each day is used for grooming, housekeeping and family/friends. Then calculate what's left over. Cut that in half and give the remaining hours to moving toward your goal. If that's only an hour a day, you might have to work with a weekly number.

Set a deadline:  (Be reasonable and choose a time frame that with steady commitment you can predictably reach. Most of us will estimate too optimistically so whatever you come up with, cut it in half. Assure that you have the proper resources for setting your goal and make that part of your game plan.
Stretch goal: (Choose an improbable target and resist the temptation to pull back on it.  Go for your dream!)
Put your deadline date on your calendar.

Do the math (examples):
Goal: 2 Pages per day for a 300 pages will take 150 days
Goal: Learn to set up climbing gear
Stretch goal: Save xxx dollars each week/month for culinary school tuition.

Move your deadline dates up or back, depending on what's possible and your level of commitment.

Establish Milestones for particular achievements. For instance, chapter two finished by March 15, begin climbing lessons by mid-January, check out culinary schools by February 12, etc.

You will have setbacks. Life happens and commitments slip. The worst punishment for failing to keep up is that most of us go into an orgy of self-criticism. This not only doesn't help, it works against us, because we can find ourselves subconsciously avoiding re-commitment because the waves of self-recrimination are so uncomfortable. Many people eventually drop their goals because of this phenomena.

The way to deal with setbacks is to acknowledge that we've let our commitment slip, then re-evaluate. Again, life happens. Perhaps we need to extend our deadline,  maybe rearrange our schedule or get outside help or even change our attitudes. And always, always, use these setback moments to ask yourself, "Do I really, really, really want to do this?"  If the answer is yes, reset your goals and move back into action.

If it turns out to be 'no,' consider going back to step one until something clicks.

In the meantime this is a brand new year, 363 days left ahead of us. Let's use them to stay connected to our love ones, reach our invigorating goals, and have fun!

Till later,
--Connie


She woke up one morning on a Mississippi riverboat with a huge headache and no idea of who she was. Nearly two years later he came after her, claiming she killed her own father. She says he's got the wrong woman. He says she'd guilty as sin. One of them is right . . .





Award-winning, bestselling author Connie Flynn writes both long and short fiction and is published in multiple genres, including paranormal romance, romantic comedy, mystery and suspense and contemporary fantasy/sci-fi. She lives in Arizona on a lush green park where she walks her dog and escapes from the hot desert sun. Her latest release is the twists and turns romantic suspense, KNOW WHEN TO RUN.


 Return To Connie Flynn Website