ConvertKit Craft + Commerce Conference 2017 #craftcommerce #Bloggers

Usually I attend Science Fiction conferences. I love traveling and attending them all over the country. But when a big entrepreneur conference like ConvertKit’s Craft + Commerce comes to my town, well I couldn’t pass that up. ConvertKit was started right here in Boise, Idaho by our own Nathan Barry. Go BOY-see!

This conference was a couple of weeks ago – over the weekend of June 24th. Why has it taken me so long to write about it? I’ve been asking myself that question every day since. The answer I finally came up with is that MY BRAIN WAS OVERLOADED. Yes, it was such an amazing, diverse, energetic, entertaining, inspiring, and intellectually stimulating weekend that it has truly taken me this long to wrap my poor brain around everything. And I’m still not sure I’ve really processed it all.

I’m sure that everyone of the 250 attendees gleaned something different out of every speaker, workshop, or social gathering. So, let me share some of my personal highlights of the weekend here in this blog.

I’ll start with Chase Reeves from fizzle.co. I learned three main things from his talk. The first is that we need to define our own success. Don’t compare other’s successes to what you should strive for. Figure out how YOUR success should feel to you. This is especially important when we tend to compare ourselves to others. Don’t do it. “Comparison is the thief of joy.”

Secondly, always practice gratitude. Feel good about where you are right now and journal the gratitude daily. Lastly, Chase talked about courage and how scary it can be to follow your heart, and how you should work toward that passionate goal a little at a time. Since the room was full of crazy excited entrepreneurs, this one hit all of us hard. Some of us are just starting out, some have had several businesses going, but each and every one of us has had those moments of fear, of doubting ourselves.

James Clear spoke on habits: “Habits are the compound interest of self-improvement.”  With habit formation, James told us that even if we strive for as little as 1% improvement everyday, it can add up to a lot of success in the future. I especially loved when he reminded us that we can be the architects of our own environment. This is a powerfully empowering statement, especially to someone like me who feels trapped and blocked from attaining dreams and goals. I don’t need to stand by and wait for something good to happen to me or for me, I can set about creating habits to change my environment in ways that will help me succeed.

Two speakers impressed upon us the idea of niching down, narrowing our business or blog focus. Mariah Coz started out doing something she was passionate about, but wasn’t sure if anyone else was. She restored vintage campers. Her blog became wildly successful, and now she enjoys, with the help of several blogs, to help others succeed in their businesses. She stressed the three perks of getting into obsessive niches (like vintage campers) and becoming a pioneer in it: 1) You’re a big fish in a small pond 2) You are accessing an untapped market and 3) Everything is exciting!

Cassidy Tuttle is another amazing woman who used a small, obsessive niche to grow her business. Her niche is focused on succulents – you know – those water conserving plants that are to some of us, the only plants we don’t kill off on a regular basis. Even after growing her business with something as niche as succulents, she showed us how focusing it down even further helped increase her business.

See what I mean? I’ve only covered a fraction of the amazingness that I experienced at this conference. Stop by next week for another blog post of wise and inspiring speakers and some fan-girling on my part!

-Heather

 

 

 

Real Artists Don’t Starve by Jeff Goins

I’ve been a fan of Jeff Goins for many years. I wept through Wrecked, found my voice through You Are a Writer, and was motivated after reading The Art of Work. So of course I was going to buy his latest, Real Artists Don’t Starve! 
I bought it on audible because I couldn’t wait to consume it! With my day job and writing in the evenings I knew my best option was buying it so I could listen to it on my drive to and from work and while I walked. 
This book is just what I needed at the right time in my life! I’ve been struggling with the whole marketing world for my writing. And feeling guilty. And overwhelmed. 

After reading Real Artists Don’t Starve I feel like a weight has been lifted and that Jeff knew exactly which direction I needed to go, with real life examples to empower me along the way. 

The research, ideas and advice in this book not only are amazing but truly reflect Jeff’s heart for other creatives. 

I suggest everyone go out and buy this book!! And a second one for a creative friend of yours. 

Real Artist Don’t Starve by Jeff Goins
-Heather 

V.E. Schwab and Madeleine Roux – YA Authors come to Boise, Idaho!

As a young adult author and voracious reader, I try to make it to as many YA book signings, readings, and discussions  as I can.  Next week, here in downtown Boise, Idaho I will get to attend an event for two amazing YA authors – Victoria Schwab and Madeleine Roux.

Our local bookstore, Rediscovered Books has brought both authors in for one night of discussion of both their books and their creative processes. I find listening to how other authors navigate this world of creativity and business fascinating and enlightening. I am excited to hear about their journeys from aspiring writers to popular YA authors.

Even though they write in YA genres a bit darker than mine, I still think there is a lot for me to learn. I am in awe of the worlds they have created in their books, and am looking forward to hearing how they came about.

The event will be much larger than can be handled in the bookstore, so it will be held at the downtown Boise Public Library! Tuesday, June 13, 2017 at 7:00 p.m. MST.

Victoria Schwab

Madeleine Roux

Rediscovered Books

http://www.rdbooks.org/event/ve-schwab-madeleine-roux

Happy Friday!

-Heather

 

Boeing: a Seattle Adventure


One of my goals is to visit as many space museums and launch centers that I can around the United States and worldwide. It’s just a passion of mine, and a great motivation and inspiration for my writing.

I lived north of Everett, Washington for many years and never realized what an impact the Boeing company had on our state, our nation, and on air and space travel. In April I visited the Future of Flight & Boeing Tour in Mukilteo. I’m not sure what I was expecting. I knew they made airplanes. I knew that it was one of the main employers in the area.

What I did not expect was just how fascinating the history of the company is, and just how immense the Boeing campus is today. Unless you see and experience it in person yourself, it really is hard to imagine.

Last year was Boeing’s 100 year celebration! July 15, 1916 two men started a company because they believed they could build a better airplane. William E. Boeing and his friend talked the pilot of a small propeller plane (a one-seater) to allow them to hang on to the wings while the plane took off and flew around the Seattle area. They were thereafter addicted to air flight and decided to learn more about building airplanes.

I highly recommend the Boeing Tour to anyone interested in air or space travel or engineering, or just interested in a mind-blowing experience.

The buildings where the 700 series airplanes are built are absolutely huge. After taking a bus to the buildings, we walked through underground tunnels and then took a cargo lift up to a viewing area that looked over the whole building. The main building is the largest building in the world, by volume. It is incredible to be up above the thousands of workers putting together the airplanes. You can watch as around TEN huge airplanes are being built. Can you imagine? A building that can hold that many 747 or 767 planes!

You can look across this field of partially-built planes, tools, and scaffolding and see several stories of windows that show offices, restaurants and coffee shops. I think they said there are three restaurants and ten coffee shops inside the building for the employees. And of course fourteen ping pong tables that are scattered around the area. Boeing is big on the importance of their hard-working employees getting exercise and taking breaks from the intense concentration that is needed to build these computerized flying machines.

A lesser known fact is that Boeing built the 16 ton Destiny Module (I’m standing in front of a model of it in the picture above), which is the American research laboratory now part of the International Space Station. It was launched to the ISS in 2001 aboard the Space Shuttle Atlantis.

These are the places and things that you can experience today that years ago were only an interesting storyline in a science fiction novel. This is why I love science and science fiction and why I am passionate about teens and people of all ages learning more science and working toward a future in space. We are living in a rapidly evolving technological world, and we need more dreamers and innovators like William E. Boeing.

-Heather

Become a Tourist in Your Hometown!

I’ve been lucky enough to have lived in some beautiful places: the rugged high desert of Colorado, the majestic mountains of Montana, the lush Washington coast, and the amazing Treasure Valley of Idaho.

The past few years I’ve realized that although I’ve lived happily among the best nature has to offer in my Northwest corner of the United States, I’ve never really explored all these wonderful places I’ve called home.

So I took a vacation. A real vacation – no funerals or weddings or emergencies to respond to. I became a *gasp* tourist! I wanted to experience all the things I had taken for granted. Sometimes we get so caught up in just surviving in this life, that we forget that we deserve to enjoy our time here on Earth.

I was reminded of this as I got out of my comfort zone the last few years, traveled to SF Conventions, opened myself up to new experiences and met some truly amazing people! I got to know writers and creatives from all around the world, and they taught me to see everything around me with new eyes. Just imagine as you go to work, hike a mountain peak, attend an art class, take a vacation, cheer at a football game, visit a national monument – how those seemingly ‘normal’ activities would look through the eyes of someone who has never had the chance to do them?

My parents used to own an art gallery in Anacortes, Washington, and I worked at the local Safeway. I hated the ferry traffic (Anacortes is the Gateway to the San Juan Islands) and I hated the nearby Tulip Festival traffic, and of course I hated the Seattle traffic. I stayed in my own little life, never venturing very far.

I missed out on so much. So, for my vacation I drove back to the Washington coast.

I drove around the Olympic peninsula and enjoyed the amazing forests, although I didn’t go as far as Forks. For those of you who don’t know – it’s the town in the Twilight series. Seriously.

The ferries are an integral part of the Seattle area, and are always a fun experience. I chose the Port Townsend to Coupeville ferry this time, one I had never taken before. I then drove across Whidbey Island, and then across the expansive Deception Pass bridge to Fidalgo Island where Anacortes is located. It was a beautiful, yet chilly day. I enjoyed it immensely and stopped to take pictures frequently.

Of course I visited all the places in Anacortes that I had lived, worked, and hiked before. More picture taking!

I got up early the next day and drove to Mt. Vernon where both my boys were born. It’s also where the Tulip Festival is located. I drove past acres and acres of blooming tulips in every color. I even stopped at one of the farms and visited the gift shops. It was refreshing walking among the cultivated gardens overflowing with tulips.

I received a much-needed break from my 9-5 life, but most importantly I filled my creative tank. I’m joyful and hopeful and ready to take on my next creative endeavor.

I highly recommend becoming a tourist in your own town. No matter where you are there are natural wonders, amazing architecture, fascinating histories to learn, and new experiences to create.

In my next blog I’ll detail my trip to the Future of Flight Aviation Center and Boeing plant tour!

-Heather

 

 

 

Anxiety and Waiting for the Editor

The End

I love writing the first draft of a book. It’s my favorite part of the process. So when I get to The End I go through withdrawals of a sort. That sense of urgency, that daily need to finish one more chapter, is over with. It feels like I’ve reached the peak of the mountain and am looking down the other side. I’ve accomplished the goal, made it to the top, finished the book. Now What?

Editing!

When I finish writing a book, I go through it several times (my first one I edited completely at least fourteen times!). Then it takes me a day or two to get up my nerve to e-mail it to my editor. I eat lots of chocolate before I hit send.

It’s not that my editor is mean or horrible. She’s actually quite amazing. I’ve learned a lot from her. I’ve gotten better at commas (better, not perfect), I’ve learned to watch repeated words (most of the time – it’s amazing what fresh eyes on a manuscript can find!), and my story structure is getting more organized and flows more naturally. I’m improving with each book. It’s an amazing feeling, this learning and growing.

Anxiety

After the downward spiral from finishing the book, the time spent editing, the nervouseness of sending it to the editor, I find myself having chest pain. I ease off the coffee and chocolate, blaming the increased use of caffeine I used during the editing process.

Nope. Not the caffeine. When I finally get my book back from the editor and see that it doesn’t look like a scene from a bloody horror story, my chest pains go away. Stupid anxiety. I know this happens every time. And each time I try to control it, but it still rears it’s ugly head.

But it’s getting better. With each book I learn more and get more confident, and the anxiety decreases. I’ve found many other writers have anxieties throughout this process as well. I’m thankful to all of them for sharing their stories so that people like me can hear and have hope to keep on writing!

Now I’ll go enjoy some coffee and start my next project.

-Heather

 

 

Cyber Monday Bookzio free ad results

When I originally signed up for a Bookzio ad for the free 5 day promo for my Recycling Humanity box set, I didn’t realize it was going to be the week of Cyber Monday. I would’ve assumed it would be a bad week for promotions with all the other Cyber Monday deals going on, but it turned out exceptionally well.

The Recycling Humanity collection is the first three books in the series. I used a Kindle Select free book promotion to make the set free for five days from November 28 – December 2. I then ran the Bookzio ad during that time.

The collection climbed as high as number thirteen on the Top 100 Free Kindle books. There were several subcategories during the week that it came in number one! It was a very exciting week watching the box set rising in the different subcategories. It still remains in the top 25 in Kindle paid teen space opera.
During those five days I had 15,215 downloads! This was the most of any promotion that I’d run on any of my books. I also gained a few reviews, and earned money from the Kindle pages read. I consider this a great success for my first try at a Bookzio promotion. My intent was to get my stories out to more readers, and that’s exactly what happened.

The process of setting up the promotion is easy and straight forward. As you can see from the screen shot I’ve attached from one of the e-mail ads from the campaign, they do a professional job with their advertisements. I also foufullsizerendernd my ad on their Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter feeds.
I would definitely recommend Bookzio promotions to new and established authors alike. I intend to use them again in the future.

You can find out more about Bookzio and their various promotions here: http://www.bookzio.com/submit-a-listing/

-Heather 🙂

 

 

#nanowrimo Post-Draft Exhaustion

I’m totally exhausted this week. I just finished NaNoWriMo with 50,000+ words of the draft of my newest novel. In fact it took a day or two to recuperate before even writing this blog post. But even exhausted I can’t stay away from writing for very long. I’m a word junkie!

It’s not just physical exhaustion from all the late nights. I’m mentally exhausted – the kind of exhaustion that comes from being on the other side of an adrenaline rush experience. There’s a period of withdrawal from being in that flow of creating, of accomplishing something amazing, of doing the seemingly impossible. Athletes, firemen, artists, salesman after a huge sale, stuntmen, all experience some type of this post-rush exhaustion.

So, I’ll take a few days to rest and re-energize by drafting my next story and reading a few books off my TBR pile. Then back to writing!

 

#nanowrimo 2016 winning and Flow!

November 30th and I’ve finished NaNoWriMo 2016 with 50,620 words! Even though this is the fifth Nano I’ve won, it is still quite a natural high. Every time I finish a novel and write The End, I feel like I’ve just reached the summit of Mt. Everest.

This month offered a variety of challenges that threatened my nano word count. I started the month with a migraine that lasted several days and ended it with food poisoning. Also the first weekend in November my kids and grand baby moved back from Japan.

I decided that if I was going to finish (failure was not an option) I needed to maximize whatever time I could find. At work I reserved the conference room to use on my lunch hour so I had a full hour to write undisturbed. I was able to get a good 1200 -1400 words in each lunchtime.

In the evenings I never knew when I came home if my kids and grand baby would be waiting for me. So the nights I was free, I concentrated on writing as much as I could. With such small snippets of time I needed to get into the flow of writing quickly.

I’d been reading the book FLOW: The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. In it he explains many concepts about flow and enjoyment of life. I noticed that getting into the flow of writing, that place where I’m totally immersed in my fictional world and can write 1200 to 5000 words in a few hours, is total enjoyment for me. Which of course, since enjoyable, encouraged me to write anytime I could find. I didn’t have any issues with so-called writer’s block, or procrastination.

Csikszentmihalyi also talks about this flow experience as not only affecting our enjoyment of life, but to our contribution to the world around us:

“Flow is important both because it makes the present instant more enjoyable, and because it builds the self-confidence that allows us to develop skills and make significant contributions to humankind.” FLOW: The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.

-Heather

 

 

#nanowrimo DAY 11

After many days of either not being able to write or writing very little, I’ve finally caught up! November always seems to throw up roadblocks, but I guess you could say that about every month. There’s always something going on in our lives that tries to derail us from our goals. Sickness, family emergencies, holidays, household tasks, to name a few that always strike me.

The goal of Nanowrimo is to finish 50,000 words in a month. That’s a lot of words, especially if you have a day job that is not all about writing, or you have kids or family to take care of. As a legal assistant, I’m pretty mentally fried by the end of the day. But writing is important to me during all the months of the year. So I find time during lunch and breaks to write. On days when my coworkers don’t interrupt my lunch hour, I can write almost 1000 words. Then at home after dinner and some time with the family, I take another hour or two to write as well.

So set your goals, carve out time for them, and just keep going. Get back up after bad days, and don’t beat yourself up for them. We all have bad days, or days we just fall short of our goals. After being many days behind in my Nanowrimo goals, I made up for it by writing over 6000 words today. And I’m far from exhausted, I’m actually exhilarated. Because I created something, I expressed myself, and I got back on track with my goals.

Onward and upward!

-Heather

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