Category Archives: Just a Thought

Seeing Writers Grow Is Worth Everything

I originally set out on my quest to build Romantic Shorts for a slew of good reasons: for me, for my family, to build something from nothing, to help others, writers, their careers, their families, readers, to meet people… You get the idea.

As I’ve been spending more and more time back online, still wading through hundreds of email messages, some as old as three full years now, I’ve been tiptoeing gently, a little wary of the kind of response I’m going to get from people who expected a reply from me a lifetime ago. As it turns out, this is one of the most exciting tasks I’ve ever taken on.

Opting for a humble and honest approach, I’m responding to all of those emails, queries, and manuscript submissions, one by one, and, more often than not, finding myself moved to tears. You guys are amazing people!

Everyone has been so understanding, so supportive, and incredibly friendly. Having to reject a story submission almost three years after its author saw fit to entrust me with it is a daunting prospect. But all have led to short and long conversations about where they are now, what has changed, and how far life has led them. And I am having great fun learning how life has gone on while I hid. I didn’t expect this.

But the one who prompted me to write this post, young Christopher, has me smiling sunshine this morning. At 18, Christopher sent me a story that, while it showed hints of promise in the writing, was not a fit for Romantic Shorts at all. I emailed him yesterday with my reply, hoping to encourage more than not, but had to reject the story on many levels.

I woke this morning to his reply. He has since grown up. Kept writing. And has taken that awkward little story and fleshed it out into what now looks like a promising novel. He sent me the first chapter. His writing has grown far more than I’d think two years should allow. His ideas are fresh and enticing. And his future as a writer looks quite exciting. I found myself reading his update feeling a pride that has nothing to do with me.

It seems that, even in my absence, Romantic Shorts has been working away, out there in cyberspace, plugging along without me, doing good, helping others, and making a bit of a difference.

And after all, isn’t that what we all want from our children?

It’s a good day!

Alex.

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Filed under For Readers, For Writers, Just a Thought

Fighting the Adult A.D.D. Monster to Success

In an effort to find some kind of normal in my life right now, I sat down this week to examine exactly what it is I do all day every day and to find a way to improve my efficacy. Figured it should take about 15 minutes.

Okay, realistically, a couple hours. An afternoon, tops.

I am now on day five.

My goal was to somehow, find some digital miracle that would tell me exactly what needs to be done every day. Automatically. No rifling through stacks of files and papers every day trying to decide what’s next. When I started Romantic Shorts almost two years ago  – it canNOT be that long, but yes, I checked, and it is – I had the good fortune to bump into a publisher from Chicago online. (Lesson learned, I now do my utmost to keep track of the many wonderful people who spend so much time helping me along – alas, I do not know her name.) She spoke to me on the phone for more than two hours, talking off the top of her head, giving reams of advice and warnings. It was probably the single most productive conversation I’ve ever had.

The highlight of the mounds of information I gained from her expertise, was her idea on how to fight the A.D.D. that has always plagued me, leading me to the beginning of project after project, yet never allowing me to focus on any one in particular long enough to accomplish anything. So many great ideas. Such a tiny attention span. It is indeed a curse.

She told me to draw a bicycle wheel. In the hub, I was to write/draw/cut and paste the object of my focus. In this case, it was my website, RomanticShorts.com. In each of the spokes, I was to write in all of the tasks involved in bringing Romantic Shorts to life. That took a fair bit of time to compile. Eventually, I had a comprehensive list, sorted tasks, colour-coded for my unique Type ‘A’ personality. And finally, in the tire area, I was to list all of the reasons I wanted to do this. The finished product looked like this:

Romantic Shorts Focus Wheel

Staying on track is easier with the right wheel.

The idea was that any time I had some time – 5 minutes or 6 hours – I could go to my Focus Wheel and put some work into the task/area that both needed the most attention at the time, and that fit the time available. With this simple tool, I was able, for the first time in my adult life, to work with an idea long enough to see growth and the passing of several milestones. The feeling of accomplishment is more than a little satisfying.

But reviewing my schedule this past week brought about an enormous revelation:

I have outgrown my focus wheel.

While much of it still applies, my efforts have now become far more reaction-based. I am no longer making up things to do. There are definitive areas that require my attention. Regularly. Daily, weekly, monthly, hourly. And the list-junkie that I am, needs some structure.

Enter Google Calendar, the miracle digital tool that now emails me a to-do list every morning at 5am. (How did they know?) And so I am now learning a new routine, tweaking and growing as I go.

And so far this week, I can’t say that I’ve conquered my to-do list any better than I ever have. But I must admit, I am far more aware of all the things I didn’t get done today.

Ah, this, too, shall pass, I’m sure.

But seeing as how this post was on yesterday’s list, I’m feeling a little better now that it’s done!

Do you have any suggestions for staying on track and getting things done? What’s your secret? How important are routine and scheduling to you as a writer? Feel free to share your thoughts below.

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Filed under For Writers, Just a Thought

Romantic Shorts v. Facebook

I have a confession.

I, unlike a happy half-billion other people on the planet, including most of my own household, cannot, for the life of me, master Facebook. Apparently, I did not inherit the gene that makes that facet of the Internet clear to me. I don’t understand the draw. I can’t make sense of the interface. I have no envy for those who have conquered the realm in any way whatsoever. I am not in denial of the fact that I have so few friends that I must catalogue them online. Yet I have lived a full and productive life without ever ‘liking’ or ‘friending’ anyone, much to the embarrassment and consternation of my husband and teenagers.

Until now.

I have discovered my achilles heel and, given my now excessive ineptitude, flagrant mistakes, and hopeless potential, I am now confessing publicly to my humiliation.

Because now, this matters. And it matters because, though I never personally had any interest in participating in the Facebook phenomenon, my position regarding Romantic Shorts is a complete contradiction. I recognize the value and necessity of presenting Romantic Shorts via Facebook. I understand, and truly desire the benefits of such an interaction. I have every intention of introducing Romantic Shorts to the world through its very own FB page, and welcome the potential and possibilities that can result.

Unfortunately, for all of the learning I’ve done over the past almost two years – SEO optimization, HTML coding, WordPress.com/WordPress.org, site migration, posts, comments, ping backs, stats, tweets, domains, media files, CSS, tags, and ram – none of it has adequately prepared me for the world of Facebook.

Surely, I cannot be this stupid. How – head in hands in frustration – could my kids, at the age of eleven and twelve, with such a diligent mother as myself, not only conquer Facebook, but keep it all a big secret from me? Okay, wrong question – duh. How then, can my husband, who asks my help with every single document, file, photo, download, and song, have such a rich and fulfilling Facebook experience, while I struggle so painfully?

Do you see my point? He is an online dud. I am a master by comparison. And yet I cannot seem to match his proficiency. And though I detest the use of the ‘F’ word – I warn you, here is comes:

It’s not ‘F’air!!!

He doesn’t need Facebook! I do!

Okay, enough whining. But I did need to vent.

And so, I commit to my attack. I will win this little war that Mr. Zuckerberg has forced upon me. I will prevail, and Romantic Shorts will enjoy a long, happy, and productive Facebook life. I will look back at this obstacle and laugh. Out loud! And I will wonder why and how I could have been so very challenged by what will inevitably become a mere hiccup in my journey. And all of Romantic Shorts’ friends/fans will surely think that I am just a writer with a keen sense of humour, since, obviously, Romantic Shorts will then have the most amazing Facebook page ever! Ahh ha ha!

I am off now, to learn more about my problem so that I can succeed where I have yet to be successful. Time is no barrier. I will keep at it until I win. I am strong. I am woman.

I will go warm my cup of coffee first… This will likely take a while.

Alex.
(In the meantime, if anyone has any suggestions, I am certainly open to a little guidance?

I started a FB ‘page’ – (blue logo) –  because I didn’t have a personal ‘profile.’ And a company – Romantic Shorts  – must have a ‘page.’ The ‘page’ (blue logo) did not seem to be ‘doing’ what I expected it to do… So I finally created a personal ‘profile’ – (Alexandra Brown) – and then attached a ‘page’ – (Romantic Shorts – red logo) – to that. That seemed okay, but it’s terribly confusing as to whether I’m using ‘Facebook as Romantic Shorts’ or ‘as Alexandra Brown.’ I was going to delete the ‘blue logo’ ‘page’, until I realized that I then lose the 24 ‘likes’ it has – which would allow me to create a Facebook name (or almost). I also just happened to Google Romantic Shorts today and discovered a whole bunch of links to the ‘blue logo’ page, and a new ‘purple logo’ page that I don’t recall ever setting up but seems to be part of The New Writers site and pulls my Facebook feed from the ‘blue logo’ ‘page.’ So I cancelled the delete on the ‘blue logo’ ‘page.’

Now I have three bloody pages and no clue as to what to do with them. Is it any wonder I’m confused? Really, can you blame me? And, if you do have suggestions, while I welcome them, please keep in mind that the mere mention of the words Facebook, page, profile, like, and friend, have the same effect as someone pointing a gun at me. Complete shutdown of all things rational. Except that I’m pretty sure I would lose my self-control and bitch-slap the guy with the gun…)

 

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Filed under For Readers, For Writers, Just a Thought, What's New @ R.S.