author interview, Behind the scenes, inspirational, relatable

Interview with Author Heather E. F. Carter

author-blog-with-c-dangelo-and-heather-e-f-carter

Remember in last month’s post how I said I had a blog announcement? Well, here it is! I will be interviewing authors from all genres in this monthly blog but also will sometimes still write my posts that you know and love. I will keep you on your toes month-to-month because there won’t be a set pattern. Are you as excited as me?

I am continuing to offer behind the scenes inspirational and relatable topics for both writers and non-writers via these interviews. A goal of my blog is always to include gifts to you as my reader, such as a new task to try or words that touch your heart and help you to heal, grow, or change in a positive way. The interviewees are broadening my insights already as I know they will do for you as well.

In my first author interview below, you will have the pleasure of reading debut author Heather E. F. Carter’s thoughts on lessons learned, self-care, and upcoming projects. I can’t wait for more from her because The Black Unicorn is a beautifully written, emotion evoking historical romance novel that sticks with you far after you finish the last words on the page. Enjoy!

What would you tell yourself 5 years ago about facing the challenge of publishing?

If I were able to send a message to myself five years ago regarding the challenge of publishing, I’d first of all tell myself that the book is good. I wrote The Black Unicorn ten years ago while I was in graduate school, and then I let it sit on a shelf. I honestly didn’t think I had anything in it. I forgot about it; or, if I did happen to think about it, I’d tell people that it was no good. I’ve been, on occasion, very insulting to my story of Ashby and Elina.  So if I had words for Heather of five years ago, it would be first of all that the story is good. Secondly, I’d tell myself not to waste any time looking for an agent. I spent about three years in the query trenches, and alas traditional publishing wasn’t meant to be my path. If I hadn’t wasted so much time looking for an agent, I’d probably be on my third book by now. And as for the challenge of publishing? I’d tell myself exactly what I tell myself when tackling any big problem: Bird by bird. This is, of course, in reference to Anne Lamott’s wonderful book. Just take each new challenge or problem one step at a time. Don’t get overwhelmed by the big picture.

What motivated you to keep going on the major project of writing your book(s)?

Once I had committed to Ashby and Elina’s story about three years ago, the one thing, or person I should say, that kept me going was my husband, Terry. He’s always been my #1 fan, and he’s always pushed me to publish my stories. He’s currently pushing me to publish my vampire story, and I’m afraid that I’m going to have to ignore him on that one, lol. But he’s always been very determined to see me in print.

What gives you energy and joy?

One thing, non-writing-related, that gives me energy and joy is music. I am a flautist; once upon a time, a very serious one.  And I do write to music, so I suppose that perhaps it’s writing-related after all. But it’s music for me. I married a professional musician, so music is a daily, sometimes hourly, part of my life. When I need inspiration for a scene, I’ll often choose a song and play it on a loop until I find what I need for that scene. All of my love scenes were written to music. That is significant, if you’ve read my story, because I’ve been known to write pretty decent love scenes.

Share one meaningful aspect of you that appears in your writing. This can be personality, physical attributes, or anything else.

There are a few meaningful aspects of me that have found their way in my work. For one, Elina is essentially me. Well, she is as far as personality goes. I am most certainly not a tall British redhead. But as far as her motivations go, that’s all me. Elina is also a flautist. That particular scene was cut in the final version, but Elina plays the flute very well. And the scenes involving dancing all come from my understanding of eighteenth-century music.

How do you reach your goals?

In the past, I have reached my goals by doing nothing else until that goal has been reached. I like to joke that I’m a terrible multi-tasker, which is totally true! I’m very good at focusing all my attention on one thing at a time, and then excelling at that one thing. That is how I wrote The Black Unicorn a decade ago. I took a year’s leave of absence from my doctoral program, and I wrote a book. Sadly, I cannot do that anymore. Adulting. And children. This isn’t really such a bad thing. So for my next project, The Golden Phoenix, I’ll write it by doing about two hours a day. But first I must research, because I honestly have no idea what happened in 1796! So I’ll research for about six to eight months, again by devoting about two hours a day to it. I go very deep with my research. It’s a holdover from my doctorial days when all my research would be subject to a peer review. I research like I’m writing a history book. Then it’s a question of finding the right balance, and not writing a history book. So I’m probably about two years out from the publication of The Black Unicorn’s sequel. But such is life when you write romantic historical fiction.  Diana Gabaldon takes four years to write her Outlander books, so I’ll take my two-year timeline and be happy about it. And The Golden Phoenix will be in many ways a very different story from The Black Unicorn. For one thing, Ashby and Elina are not in it. Many will find that disappointing, but never fear! Book three will be the continuation of their story. In The Golden Phoenix, I am rather continuing Tristan’s story line. Tristan deserves his happily ever after. Poor guy got a raw deal in The Black Unicorn. So you can expect to see that story come out in 2023… perhaps earlier, if I really get to work. In the meantime, I’ll be posting snippets of it, along with short stories from Ashby and Elina’s timeline, on Kindle Vella.

the-black-unicorn
Click on the picture to purchase

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Copyright © 2021 C. D’Angelo, Author All rights reserved.

marketing, new release, shy

Selling Myself

selling-myself- c-dangelo-blog

How do you feel when you talk about yourself? I have never thought about this question in depth until trying to be a published author, which I now am thanks to the four times #1 Amazon New Release novel The Difference publishing last month. Woo hoooo! But back to the question. Think about the feelings that rise within when talking about your accomplishments, your struggles, or your goals. If you are in the writing world, you probably have been faced with this situation since marketing is needed to sell your product, the book. But I feel like I’m selling myself as well since I am my brand. Obviously we all know we need to talk about the product to sell it, but doing it is another story, at least for this shy author who was raised not to brag.

Now take what I said in the first paragraph. Did you catch the irony of me proclaiming to be a shy author and alluding to it being strange to talk about myself yet sharing how my book made it to #1? This is exactly what I am talking about here. Inserting that information in this post is uncomfortable for me because I feel like I am showing off, but I need to tell you notable facts so that you know my book is worthwhile to read. Don’t get me wrong, I’m proud of any success that occurs, but it still feels unnatural for me to basically say, “Hey look at me.” Don’t even get me started on needing to take selfies!

Now try sharing information like this almost every day publicly where anyone can see and judge you. That is my world of being an author trying to sell my book/future books and pitching services for writers. Are you cringing yet? I am! Yet, I push on past the societal standard of not dominating a conversation about myself.

I’ve struggled lately with a good problem from this original good problem. How do I know when to post on social media about book information like a wonderful review or picture of my gorgeous cover vs posts within my themes (Italy/Italian culture, book setting locations, reader/writer topics, family/genealogy, and inspirational quotes)? I use my judgement for when I feel like it may be overkill to talk about my book one more time in the week, but I also need to talk about it to continue making sales. I also won’t lie to you by saying I don’t want to show all the pretty pictures people have taken of my book because it’s artistically fulfilling. But, okay, okay, I promise not to post those daily. A balance is needed so I space them out. I never want to be one of those authors who only post about their book. What fun is that for my followers? Also, there is more to me than the book and more I can offer the followers. Just as I do in these blog posts, I want people to relate and feel heard, as well as be inspired. A variety of posts are needed to achieve that goal.

So how can I come to terms with shouting out my winning situations to continue raising interest about my book? Here is what I think at this moment in time that I hope can also help you if you have a similar circumstance:

  • Just do it. Yes, Nike is right. No matter how I feel, I need to carry on, share the fabulous info, and create the book post.
  • Ignore the possibility of negative thoughts from others. I won’t hear them anyway. And if they share them with me, I don’t have to take it as fact. As the phrase goes, haters gonna hate.
  • I’m doing the best I can with the knowledge I have. I think most people function this way, so let’s embrace that idea. Keep this in mind before judging too. I try to do so.
  • Visualize success. The mind is so powerful that we can dream things into reality (with some action of course). Use your imagination for seeing yourself in your successful space, then share without a care. Did I just come up with a new phrase? Hmm…
  • Embrace being proud of myself. This is okay! This is healthy.
selling-myself

Tell me if you have had any of these similar thoughts and how you conquer them. Selling ourselves doesn’t have to be frightening. Let’s make it fun and help each other out along the way. Now excuse me while I go and post about myself.

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PS: I will be making an exciting blog announcement in my August newsletter. Changes are on the horizon. Sign up to be a C. VIP and receive news first, plus get freebies and a role in my projects.

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Feel free to follow and share my blog. Also, join my VIP Newsletter for announcements, giveaways, and more!    

Copyright © 2021 C. D’Angelo, Author All rights reserved.

Organize, Strategy, Tactic

The Ultimate Organizer’s Challenge

stay-organized

This is an exciting month for me because my debut novel, The Difference, is releasing on 7-29 (view the cover and back cover blurb here)! I didn’t realize that publishing involves so much of a skill that I love, but that would present as a stressor, even for this structure-loving person. I’m talking about organization.

Do you like to organize? I mean, do you get a thrill out of walking down the aisle of an office supply store? You know, viewing all the choices for color coded file trays, feeling the textured cardstock choices, or making the choice of which decorative pen holder will look the best on your pretty little desk? Do you find joy in having email folders for every situation? If so, you are my people! But, friends, publishing a book means organization of epic proportions. A real organizer’s challenge.

order-chaos

See, what happens as you get close to publishing a book independently is that you are working with professionals such as editors, a cover artist, and a formatter. This means many emails back and forth because many decisions need to be made. Of course, if my path was more normal I would have already had my cover done, but that’s a whole other blog post!

Next, add the marketing and promotion emails. These include ordering bookmarks, bookplates, swag for giveaways (I have worked with some businesses for donations for my launch parties), setting up interviews (think times, formats, obtaining questions), and establishing accounts in about a million places to actually get that book to you as readers. I estimated that I received at least 40 emails one day and realized I needed to set aside time to organize. I need an assistant! Kidding, not kidding. Usually, I would love this task, but when finishing editing, working at my day job, and keeping up with home life, it was becoming an unexpected downer. Yeah, not everything is roses and rainbows in the publishing world…are you shocked? Eek, sorry to ruin an image for you. But, for you writers out there, it’s all worth it!

Well, I kept trying to organize the emails, but the info kept forming a metaphorical pile. This is a good problem because it means the plan is in motion, but still, ahhh! I ended up creating spreadsheets for marketing tasks (ok, my husband created them but I am using them!). I have never used a spreadsheet for my art, so this was another first for me and thank God for them. This tactic helped, as well as other strategies I’ll share below.

But, organizing has never made me want to cry until recently. How could that be? There were times I felt so overwhelmed by what I needed to keep track of that I didn’t know how to do it. And I like to think of myself as an expert organizer. How could that be as well? I love lists (much like my character Rachel in The Difference) and creating order, but this was a new level. I needed to take action and fast. Here is what I did. Maybe it will help you as well, which you know is always my hope.

  • Star/flag emails that are essential. The emails of great importance would get lost if I didn’t do this.
  • Create email folders for different topics. For example, I have a marketing folder, a paid services folder…
  • Keep immediate (maybe for the next week) emails in your inbox. Sort the rest into the specific folders. I do keep some emails in the inbox longer if I know the task is coming up soon.
  • Keep the latest email from someone if you have emailed multiple times and delete the rest in the chain (unless an attachment is an original). There is no need to have the in between emails. They just clutter the inbox.
  • Create lists on paper or digitally. I had a list of what to do now and what to do when my book sale links are established, for example.
  • Use your phone notes app. I sometimes am away from home where my beloved list resides, so I use the notes app then transfer the info to the paper once home. I even may send an email to my account to remind myself. Then, I immediately delete it when home!
  • Set daily reminders in your phone. I have daily must-do tasks which are more urgent than the to-do list on my desk (I form levels of importance). The reminder pops up every day in the morning. Yes, there are that many things to keep in order for this publishing adventure. Sometimes I have to move a task to the next day so I’ll just change the date in my phone.
  • Establish physical places for items on your work space. I have a section on my desk for the to-do list, the publishing notes for loading my book into different platforms, and I have a tray/box with other info for a little later down the road, like my book tour that starts on release day of 7-29.
  • Walk away and know it will be ok! I had to put this one in here. Sometimes I need a break from keeping everything flowing. I’ll do some self-care like take a walk.

See, we can conquer organizing! Viewing my digital and real info cleaned up brings a sense of peace and I feel more grounded and in control. It’s important for my mental health, as well as to get the job done for my book journey. Tell me what you do to stay afloat with your million bits of info needed in your life. I would love ideas. It brings excitement to this organizing lover’s life.

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Copyright © 2021 C. D’Angelo, Author All rights reserved.

Behind the scenes, Debut Author, stress management

Learning while Breathing

learning-while-breathing

You know the exploding head emoji? I think it was created for me to use these last few months for both the literal amount of info I’ve been stuffing into my noggin and the surreal feeling that my dream is finally becoming a reality (The Difference, my debut women’s fiction novel, is releasing July 29!). The truth is that I don’t know if I ever had to cram so much knowledge into my head in such a short amount of time in my life. Have you ever felt this way? Eek!

When I decided to change publishing paths and also to release my book 3 months from that decision, I knew it would be challenging but went full steam ahead from second one. I don’t regret it, but wow, there has a lot of long days, late nights, and sacrifices. Not only was I trying to stay afloat with getting the actual work done (aka the editing of each draft—and there have been 4 since that time), but I had to find the professionals I needed for each step, coordinate their schedules with mine and the other pros I wanted to hire, fill out their forms and such so they could do their jobs (this meant decisions and creating promo type stuff), make choices for where to publish as well as details like book size, and solidify my marketing plan quicker than intended. I won’t bore you with the million other details, but believe me they are numerous. And I also work a full-time job. Wow, huh? Publishing a book takes good time management, and thank God I excel in it.

What struck me multiple times was that I needed to know not only the obvious steps and make the known decisions, but that there were so many hidden tidbits of info that I either didn’t know I needed right away or that I wouldn’t have found without the help of my friends or the pros—and many of these bits led to hours of time. For example, when I put my book on Amazon next month, I need to include relevant categories so when people search, it may populate as a choice for them. I was lucky that a friend showed me how to choose the categories wisely as well as how to add more than first allowed. For a solid week I felt like so much info was coming at me everywhere I turned that I started making lists upon lists (a quirk of my main character in my book by chance, haha). I still have a list—down to one now—a mile long to work on every chance I get.

I’m sure you can relate to the rabbit hole of the internet. If I find one article on a publishing topic, there are usually links within it that take me to more articles with more links within. Aaaahhhhh! It’s welcomed and needed info, but can be a little overwhelming. At one point anxiety grew, leading to a racing heartbeat and shallow breathing. Along with the need to push myself to continue, I realized I also needed to breathe and take a break sometimes. This is difficult for a workaholic like me because my mind never turns off. Upon waking, my mind races before I even open my eyes. During this time period, I’ve been in overdrive, but I’ll burn out if don’t give myself a break. So how did I do that? Read on!

What I did to cope can be done by anyone at a stressful time, especially while in the process of learning (and before your head explodes). You may engage in some of these strategies already, but some may be new to you. I’m sure you have your own unique ways of self-soothing, so feel free to share them with me as well. The more minor and sillier the better!

  • 4-4-4 deep breathing- I love this one. I use it with clients as a therapist and it works for me as well. Breathe in through your nose for 4 counts/seconds. Then, hold for 4 counts. Finally, release through your mouth for 4 counts. I only do this 3 times, or I get light-headed, but you can do it as many times as needed. 😊
  • Get up and walk away- Sometimes I walk to another room and stare out the window. Sometimes I walk around the house for a minute.
  • Go outside- Even for 2 minutes, this helps me tremendously. I don’t know why but getting out of the walls of my home and seeing the sunshine on most Florida days refreshes me.
  • Change rooms- I am lucky that I have an office and an art room in my house, so I alternate between them to work. There is a desk in my office, but in the art room I have a table or a comfy chair to use.
  • Change sitting positions- Speaking of the comfy chair, sometimes I sit there, sometimes I sit at the table, and sometimes I sit on the floor on a pillow, using my ottoman as a table. I usually sit in strange positions, and it isn’t until later that my middle-aged legs ask me why.
  • View social media- I don’t allow myself to stay on longer than 5 minutes if in work mode, but the interactions with friends are inspiring, often a comedic break, and can be motivating.
  • Talking to others- I alwayyyys feel relief in talking about my stress. My husband knows this one well! So I may do just that or talk to a friend real quick via messaging on social media or texting. Again, they cheer me on and they give me the boost I need sometimes. Validating words go further than you would think.
  • Get a different drink- I often drink water while working, but sometimes mix it up with different drinks, which sounds ridiculous, I know. But somehow the change keeps me going. Sometimes a girl needs a sparkling water instead, you know?
  • Self-talk- Never discount the strength of what you tell yourself. Our thoughts are powerful and can influence our feelings, I believe. So, give yourself a pep talk or come up with a phrase that keeps you going. Last week, during my last ever edits of The Difference, I told myself, “This is the last time.” It helped.

The balance of meeting a goal and taking care of yourself can be hard, but it is needed. People, take care of yourselves because you are the only you that exists. Let’s do what we need to do, learn all we can, but remember to breathe while doing it.

and-breathe

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Copyright © 2021 C. D’Angelo, Author All rights reserved.

Behind the scenes, Debut Author, Women's Fiction Author

The Key to my Success

the-key-to-my-success

Sometimes what we think will never happen is exactly what happens. When I started my publishing journey in 2019, I would have never thought I would still be waiting for The Difference to be published in 2021 because I got my contract with a small press so fast. But, life happened and here I am on a whole new journey, one that has left me more knowledgeable for my future but most importantly happy and free. I believe I need to create my success, regardless of any barriers that arise.

If you have been following me on social media and are receiving my newsletter, you know I have decided to self-publish my debut book, as of last month. My heart can’t handle querying it again and waiting any longer, so it will be out this summer! I will never publicly explain the many reasons that led me to this difficult but needed decision because I will not be disrespectful to others. Yet, there are some insights I want to express through this blog post which I hope will help you out in your life, in both writing and non-writing adventures.

Let’s start with the picture below.

successful-people

Isn’t this true? From the outside, it seems like some people are successful overnight and that it is smooth and upward. I hate to break it to you, but this is hardly ever the case. If so, more power to you! I’ll cheer you on and hope it continues that way for you. But, as for us other folks, our path may resemble the right arrow a little more. But isn’t that what’s more fun anyway? Who wants a boring, old, easy success? *Raises hand, but accepts my reality

In the field of psychology, there is a concept called Grit, coined by Dr. Angela Duckworth. Her definition of the word is “passion and perseverance for long-term goals.” Basically, talent and luck contribute to success, but letting nothing stop you (grit) with your goal may matter just as much, as far as she has researched. With any setback or obstacle, if you want that goal, you keep going. That’s grit. And that’s me.

grit

Only those closest to me know how much I’ve worked on all of my writing, but especially The Difference since it’s been my longest project (since 2013!). The sacrifices I’ve made shows my grit, like my first marathon this month. No, not with actual running (I relate to that statement you’ll only see me running if someone is chasing me). My marathon involved editing my book so it would be ready for my editor, to  keep on target for my publishing schedule. I stayed up until 11:30 p.m. one night (way too late for me), didn’t even leave the house for a week, and barely spoke to loved ones because I had to get it done. They understood, thank God. Nothing ever has stopped me from progressing on getting my book published, especially not this new pivot with self-publishing. Learning how to be my own publisher makes me proud and having total control is exhilarating. It will completely be my vision, from cover to cover. Ahh, I can’t wait!

Now, having grit doesn’t mean I have to do everything on my own. I think it also means knowing when to ask for help in order to keep achieving the long-term goal. Without my writer friends’ knowledge (and support otherwise) and my non-writer friends for their endless emotional support, I could have never turned around my journey as fast as I did. Within days, I had all the professionals lined up for getting my book done. Hard work was and is ahead, but I’m all in (Gilmore girls reference, anyone?). I’m forever grateful to my support system. Don’t overlook how necessary one is on the mission in front of you.

The recent experience reminds me of a game I played when I led summer camp in the past. One person takes hold of a ball of yarn then throws it to another person in the circle. The intent may be to compliment the next person, for example. Then, they throw the yarn to someone else. Eventually, you have a web of connection by yarn and words. Everyone is weaved together in the game, but still freely independent from the web in front of them, reminding them of their connection to others if they choose it. The web is supported only when everyone helps one another, though. If one person lets their yarn drop, the whole web will collapse. It’s a true metaphor for this writing community. I think we need each other. I am both linked to the other writers and free. We can aid one another in our independent journeys. I know where to ask for help to reach my ultimate goal and they know where to find me.

I encourage you to think about your grit and goals. What’s the key to your success when you realize you are a gritty as me? I know you are! Only the grittiest of gritty people read these sorts of blogs. 😊

Dr. Duckhorn does have a grit quiz, if you search for her and want to take it, but I think you know if you have a gritty soul. By the way, I just want to keep saying grit because it’s fun.

Anyway, I suggest the following to help you gain clarity on your needs (taken from my own experiences):

  • Think about what your long-term goal is and what it means to you.
  • How much are you willing to sacrifice for this goal? Financial? Personal time? Changes in relationships?
  • Envision yourself meeting that goal. How do you feel? How is your life different? Let that feeling guide your decision making in the present.
  • Once you have decided you must meet your goal, write down your plan. Write this plan old-school style, not digitally. I’ve found in my therapist background that when people use their own handwriting, more commitment occurs, as well as more creativity in the plan. I won’t bore you with details, but it includes seeing your own processing on paper.
    1. In your plan, think about who you have as a support system. If you don’t feel you have a good one yet, create one. Join virtual groups and online communities. Join live activities as well. Do whatever you need to do achieve your dream.
    2. Set realistic, small steps to walk along the path to your goal. I want you to feel like you are making progress with all that is in your power.
    3. Determine what you will allow for a timeline, even for the steps. But this important— account for setbacks. This is life and two steps back will happen on your steps forward. It’s okay. You will rebound.
    4. And finally—begin today!

Take the energy you have right now and make your list. Just jot down some ideas. You can always add to it later. I wish you lots of luck and am here to chat anytime to brainstorm.

I want you to be as happy as I am for the new life changing decision I’ve made. It wasn’t easy, but as soon as it was done, it was clear it was the right one for this first book. I’m free. I’m at peace. Best of all, no matter what happens I’m the key to my success, grit and all.

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Feel free to follow and share my blog. Also, join my VIP Newsletter for announcements, giveaways, and more!    

Copyright © 2021 C. D’Angelo, Author All rights reserved.

Debut Author, Women's Fiction Author, Writer

Leaping Out of the Box

leap-out-of-the-box

When have you gone beyond your comfort zone or “out of your box” in your life? Take a second to think (insert Jeopardy music). Okay, are you back? 😊 I hope you were able to think of an example, but if not, do not fear! I’m here to tell you about my author experiences lately and to hopefully encourage you to take that leap into the great beyond.

Let me clarify why I use the word leaping instead of getting out of the box or stepping out of the box. First, I use the term because getting out of the box is way too normal for me and I’m a quirky lady. LOL! But second, I think sometimes people contemplate taking a risk, possibly peek over the side of the metaphorical box, then either decide to stay or leave. Leaping means you boldly go into the wild by following your gut and to me that’s a leap of faith. If you choose not to leap, there’s no judgment here. Of course, this post is about encouraging you to push yourself so I’m going to say try it out. Just once. Something small. Come on, please?

As I approach the release of my debut novel, THE DIFFERENCE, this year I’m finding more and more opportunities for me to leap than expected. I’m thrilled about it and more than ready after my long publishing journey, but there’s another side. Translation= facing anxiety provoking tasks.

Do any of you relate to feeling anxious leading up to speaking to the public? Where you will show your heart to strangers? Where you will talk to people you look up to in your field? Welcome to my world. I am now in the stage of preparing for author interviews to talk about my book, giving my art and soul (get it? Haha) for public viewing and criticism, and communicating with people I only dreamed of chatting with in the past. I’m SO lucky to be in this place, but guess who I have to keep pushing to say yes. Me!

During brainstorming for one of my potential release parties, I was asked by the host if I wanted to do something on camera and my panicked reaction slipped from my mouth without thinking. A loud “No!” spilled out, but seconds later I was able to process how wonderful the idea is and say “Sorry, that was my fear.” I’ll most likely engage in the genius suggestion whenever that party happens and urge myself to be vulnerable.

Even though avoiding is my usual first reaction, I generally do the fearful thing because I know it will be good for my big picture goal. For my book, I need to take every opportunity kindly given to me, and I have done so this whole time already, from my pitching business to even writing a novel at all. I can’t stop now when it’s most important. What I have been finding is that I freak out a little upon the idea of the opportunity, the moment I accept an invitation, or whatever the case may be. Then, I prepare to the max, while still anxious usually, sign on to do the event, for example, and… all is fine. In fact, I usually feel a huge sense of accomplishment and joy and realize that I worried for nothing.

You know by now that I am always genuine so I’ll be honest in the moment and share if something goes awry anyway. I’m not going to hide it, and people respond to that relatability. Isn’t it better to show we are all human and imperfect? So again, why stay in the box? It doesn’t make sense. Being free is so much better, especially when we free ourselves from the fear of sounding a certain unflattering way or making a mistake. Nobody cares as much as you. Nobody is as focused on you as you. Nobody will remember these silly moments, so let’s not let the possibility of them keep us from wonderful new experiences.

what-if-I-fly-quote

Instead of thinking about failing, I try to change my mindset to what beauty can come from taking the leap. I have the analytical side and the dreamer side in me, so I try to embrace the positive “what if” side for these circumstances.

A theory I use in my clinical setting as a psychotherapist is called *Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. The basic idea is that thoughts lead to feelings which lead to behaviors. So, if you have an unhealthy or illogical thought, you may feel a certain negative way, which makes you act in a certain way. For example, if I think “I’ll make a fool out of myself if I do the live interview,” then I may feel sad, anxious, and fearful. The behavior is that I may decline the interviewer or maybe I will avoid even responding to the invitation. But I can try to challenge my thought with evidence from the past, such as how no disaster has ever happened during interviews, only good outcomes. I also may ask myself what I would tell a friend, because aren’t we easier on others verses ourselves? A final question I may ask is what is the worst, best, or most likely outcome that may occur? Well, in this case, the worst may be I that misspeak or some other insignificant action to everyone else. The best outcome may be that my book sales go through the roof because it was a fabulous interview! The most likely outcome may be that people enjoy the exchange and are interested in being in my author world, buying my book or otherwise. Ah, now there’s relief as a new feeling overtakes me and I may go ahead and say yes to the invitation.

Comfort-zone-magic

Going outside of your comfort zone usually is where the magic happens. One type of faulty thought is trying to predict the future. The beauty in this is that if we avoid predicting by challenging the thought, we most likely will be pleasantly surprised by the unexpected possibilities and invite goodness to flow our way. Trusting the process is a big phrase in the therapy world, but I think it also applies to life. Sometimes we have to give in to the process and trust it is a good step along our path. That’s why I say leap, don’t inch out of the box. 

So, as I venture into making reels on Instagram (eek!), doing live interviews (ahhh!), and soon going outside my natural comfort zone of asking “Hey, want to buy my book” instead of just giving it to people, I’ll continue to push myself and challenge anxiety provoking thoughts. I’ll also be thinking of you inspiring me. We will catapult out of our boxes. That’s right, we will bust out together. I know we can do it.

*The description of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is not to be used in place of therapy.

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Copyright © 2021 C. D’Angelo, Author All rights reserved.

Behind the scenes, Debut Author, Women's Fiction Author

Just Say No to Comparison

Just-say-no-to-comparison

You are not meant for my journey and I am not meant for yours. That’s a dose of Captain Obvious, right? We usually know this statement to be true in our heads, but our hearts fall into webs of anxiety, disappointment, and helplessness because we compare ourselves to others at times. No matter the topic for comparison, it will always bring us a false sense of security or happiness… or dreaded sorrow. What a time waster! So let’s try to stop this behavior together.

You may not know unless you are in this book publishing world that it is the slowest business on the planet. That’s my perspective of course, but I view it as a beautiful shiny green turtle walking toward a lake. The sparkly blue destination will come in time but getting there takes forever and a day. The turtle crawls along the grass with a smile on its tiny face taking it one step at a time. He’s slow and steady, knowing he will get there at the perfect time for him.

I’m a person who works non-stop until my goal is reached, so on a long game like getting my book published, it’s challenging. I want to knock it out, like, yesterday. During the wait, it’s easy to fall into the trap of comparing myself to other authors’ experiences, based mostly on what they post on their social media. Ah, there are the key words. Social media. Cue the doomsday music.

Who looks on their social media and wonders about your own life based on what you see your friends doing? *Everyone raises their hand including me.* This doesn’t happen on my personal accounts, but lately has been happening a little on my author accounts. Don’t get me wrong, I’m beyond thrilled for others’ success, but when it’s taken this long to get my book published, it’s hard. I’m human. And I’m just being honest, as I always try to be with you. I still cheer for my fellow writers and support them all I can. I always will. And I always want them to shine and succeed. It’s just that moments happen where I have the feelings of wishing I could control my circumstances and get The Difference finished and out to you already (there have been publisher delays, which is common in the industry). I’m sure you can think of a time in your life, even now maybe, where you felt like you wanted to do something beyond your control and fall into the hole of comparison. Here’s my thoughts on the chain effects of social media comparison.

social-media-cycle

It’s a slippery slope, huh? Remember that I am a licensed psychotherapist as well as an author, so this is my personal perspective and not research based for this blog’s purposes. However, this graphic information comes from twenty years of psychological experience of comparison evils. Anyway, it is very real and can happen easily, I think. But let’s remember one key fact.

behind-the-scenes-reel

Brilliant (especially for my behind the scenes blog)! When we see what others post, we only see a snippet. Try to remember that. Who knows what happens behind the curtain? I know that I never post negativity or struggles on my own profiles because I don’t want to spread that energy. I want people to experience an escape and to feel joy when they see my content.

So how can we stop the comparison monster from feeding on our motivation and happiness? Below are a few my suggestions and those that I tell myself.

 Thoughts to play on repeat in your head:

  • You may be seeing the result of many more years of work by someone, when you are just starting.
  • You are shining in your own way that others may admire. The sun shines at a different time than the moon.
  • Apples and oranges are not comparable. Both are needed, beautiful, and desired.
  • Feelings and thoughts are fleeting. You will not always feel this way. It’s temporary.

Actions you can take:

  • Ask yourself what is in your control. What can you do to help you reach what you want when you look on social media? How can you work toward your goals?
  • Imagine a tiny person inside of you, called your inner critic. Give it a name, think of what it looks like, and think of what it says to you to de-motivate you and harass you. Now tell it to stop! Send it away by throwing it out the window. Do anything in your imagination to make it cease or leave. It does you no good.
  • Take a social media break. Don’t look online for a day or more. Everyone gets burned out and needs time away. It’s more than okay; it’s necessary sometimes.

Let’s make sure we stop comparing ourselves to others. Make it your mission this month. Know that I’m doing it with you. This way, you can feel even more joy for your fellow humans. Your turtle will make it to the lake, so enjoy the steps along the way. And when it reaches the warm, fresh water, drink it in and float in your success. We’ve got this.

(Just in case you need to talk to someone about your feelings of anxiety, depression, or anything else, make sure to reach out to loved ones in your life and/or make an appointment with a professional. Here’s a national hotline that can provide resources and help as well: 1-800-950-NAMI (6264). Be well, friends.)

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Copyright © 2021 C. D’Angelo, Author All rights reserved.

Behind the scenes, Debut Author, Writer

Lessons from a Beginner

beginner-excellent-quote

Who has been a beginner at something in their life? All of you can say “yes” to this question. I mean, who hasn’t had day one of learning at a new job, a first day of school, or the first time you attempted to learn a hobby. For this second career of mine with being a writer about to be published, I am constantly learning. Let me say that again. Folks, it’s constant. Just when I think I have something down, new challenges come my way. For a perfectionist spirit, that can be tough at times, but it’s fine. No seriously. I swear I mean it! It lets me continue to grow, which I know I need. We all need it, so I’m going to share a little bit of what’s been happening and give you some pointers to help you on your learning journey, no matter your beginner area.

The process of publication (specifically the very new area of marketing for me) and social media have been my latest topics of gaining knowledge. They are intertwined in many aspects, but first I’ll tell you about the publication for my debut novel, The Difference (date being released soon, yay!).

Oh, so many lessons have been learned over the last year or so while I wait for that book to be in both of our hands. For one, I have been lucky enough to be able to join groups online for debut authors. These groups have been a Godsend for me. The support and kindness of the other authors have warmed my heart every day. Nobody is in competition. Everybody is there to cheerlead, vent, learn, problem solve, and continue to get motivated for future greatness. I’ve met wonderful people and without them, I wouldn’t know half of what to expect in the months leading up to my release for marketing opportunities. Let me tell you how many mistakes I would have made as a novice! I believe my delay in publishing happened for a reason and part of it was that I had to be more prepared for what was coming my way, learning from their choices and advice. Sure, I’ll make mistakes on my own, but I know I have a group of people who will help me through them and won’t judge me.

Part of what I have learned from the other authors and with my own experiences is how to be in less control. Argh, the horror. Ugh, the beginner’s blindness to this not being reality. This independent, Type A, workaholic author loves a plan, loves to be excellent immediately, and loves to be in complete control. But guess what…it’s necessary to accept I am not in control. I chose to be traditionally published, so that gives up my total control from the start. I work with my publisher to have a schedule for editing, marketing, release, and promotion. Nothing is solely up to me (which brings me comfort to know I have an expert leading me, but still you may feel my pain). And my God, the beginner questions I have had to ask. It’s like a huge neon sign in Vegas pointing to me reading “newbie.” But yet, I force myself to ask and am better for having done so (and knowing the answer I needed).

So, back to social media. Has anyone figured out the algorithms yet? I know that’s a huge “no,” but a girl can still hope. If you ever do, tell me, okay? I am active daily on Instagram and Twitter and have been experimenting lately with when I post, the hashtags I use, how I write my narrative, and how I post in stories. I’ve even made a few videos, which is realllly outside of my comfort zone. Learning how to do something better is always an interest for me, but I do get frustrated at times. You know why? Because sometimes there is no rhyme or reason to posts that get more activity. If you read last month’s blog post (scroll down to read later) you know I am more interested in relationships than numbers, but I do want to keep growing of course. This means, I’ll continue to take webinars from trusted pros, put more of my face out there (so scary!), and keep on trying out new things. I won’t ever have a perfect account, but it will be a step closer to a personal excellence I can be satisfied with for putting in the effort. All I can do it try. That’s how learning happens sometimes.

Van Gogh is my favorite artist, but little did I know until recently he has many brilliant quotes as well as paintings and drawings. This quote below summarizes the needed attitude of being an author this day in age.

van-gogh-quote

It’s a must to learn much more than how to write a great book as an author these days. I didn’t expect I would learn Marketing 101 and more going into this field, but it’s been fun and fulfilling so far, even with being a beginner over and over. Here’s some major points I’ve learned and want to encourage you to think about in your life:

  • People are generally on your side- Others, especially in a community of your interest, want to help you. Also, I’m sure there is reciprocal inspiration and admiration, so put your stuff out there. I think most people are kind souls who want to see a person succeed when they notice hard work. At least I hope so. If not, they aren’t for you. Move on.
  • Force yourself to try new things (even things you thought you would never do)- You never know what positives will come from merely trying something new. If I didn’t start talking with people on social media platforms, I would not be anywhere near as knowledgeable or prepared for every step of my publication adventure. And making my videos recently? Deep breaths and my heart feeling like it stopped occurred when I pressed that share button, but I’m better for it. I faced my fear, no matter how small that seems. Who cares more than me anyway? It’s just a video. There are millions out there. Which leads me to…
  • Be more outgoing- Maybe you extroverts out there don’t need this one, but for this introvert, I have needed to take many steps that require getting past my shyness and gathering up my energy to be social, especially for my pitch party business. I have promoted my services with others live; the ultimate nerve-wracking activity for someone like me. But I push myself and do it! And I always will. I’m grateful for any opportunity. It matters more than fear. And speaking of…
  • Don’t be afraid to fail; it’s okay to make a mistake- Not every choice will lead to glory. Not every effort will pay off. What matters is that we keep trying, with knowing the risk of messing up is present and still rolling forward. It’s not life or death most of the time, so just do it! Maybe an unexpected positive will come from a perceived failure. You never know.

Even though none of us start off excellent in a new activity, we can get there with practice and determination. I’ve taught myself many art forms in my life (drawing, crochet, ukulele), but writing is the most complex, has social requirements, and has financial implications. I’m choosing to continue to practice my beginner status in any related writing activity until, well, until I’m a beginner in another writing related activity because I’m convinced they’re endless. 😊 That’s exciting in a way, to be the new kid on the block and learn from the best. I hope my perspective has helped you you’re your current situations and that you can feel my support from across the page. We can be beginners together!

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Copyright © 2021 C. D’Angelo, Author All rights reserved.

Author, Italian American Author, Women's Fiction Author

I Gotta Be (Uncool) Me

Uncool-Me

Do you consider yourself cool, “in,” or on-trend? Are you a person who wants to do what others are doing, read what others are reading, and live the life like the Jones’? I’m still not so sure about me…or am I?

As this new year began, I thought about whether I want to change my approach with my social media accounts. No, not the themes of what I post (don’t worry!), but who I follow or even the books I read to then be able to share with others online. I’ll come back to that in a second, though.

What sparked this blog post was that I was surprised to read over and over in accounts over the last few days that others had the same thought about who they want to interact with online. So many people even declared they want better relationships with followers/who they follow versus only thinking about the numbers of people on their account for the sake of having high numbers. I feel like I am rarely in the majority of common thought, but maybe 2021 has changed that pattern. Haha, yeah right. What’s funny is that at this point in my middle-aged life, I don’t completely want that anymore (gasp!).

See, I have never been a cool person. I’m a nerd. I have embraced it by now, for the most part. During adolescence it was a different story! I was never a person who wore the best clothes, who wanted to be the center of social attention, or who knew how to throw or catch a ball with any success. Yes, I was the person picked last in PE every single time. But I always had good friends, tons of laughs, many hobbies, and excelled in school and the arts. If that is part of the criteria for being uncool, I’ll take it.

But back to the present. How can I fit in with the author culture online but remain myself? How can I play with the popular kids?

I feel like the picture at the top is a good example of how I perceive myself. I am an author, like all the other, ahem, pencils, for most major aspects, but I am also different like the green pencil. I want to draw like the rest of the best, be with them and be considered part of the group, but I don’t want to do what everyone else is doing. In this industry, though, that can be a problem at times. Yes, I want to continue on my traditional publishing path (for which I am extremely grateful to be in that company), but I also like to stand out within that path for uncommon and unique reasons. Maybe it’s my niche interests I integrate into my novels like genealogy or the nuggets of Italian American culture I hope people find as interesting as I do. Yes, fun facts are my jam.

If you follow me on social media, you know I have high engagement with my followers. I also try to comment and connect with people who don’t follow me, of course hoping they will, but that’s not the reason I do it. I like chit chatting with everyone. I love giving to others, and online that means making comments, liking, and sharing what someone worked hard on to show to the world that day. I want you to know someone sees you and is rooting you on. By doing this, I’ve made true friends. This is why I have been particular on who I follow back. I want to see posts on my feed that are interesting, clean, inspiring, and beautiful, from kind people. I would rather that any day than having high following numbers from people I would rather not be associated with for my brand. It’s hard to remember that some days, though, but I know I’ll get there.

Another thing you may notice is that I usually do not read huge books of the moment. Maybe I should more often, but I am usually months or years behind. It’s like when capris became popular and I purposely rejected them because everyone was wearing them (plus I have long legs and just wanted a pair of pants that fit!). Sometimes I go the opposite direction of something everyone is doing. It’s my own personal protest. Yes, I know it doesn’t make sense, but it does in my head. I like to be more of an individual and do not like to be told what is good or what I should be doing. I like to read books that may even be embarrassing to post to the world. You know, uncool type books (for example…just kidding. I’ll leave you wondering). In fact, that’s why I don’t post every single book I read on Goodreads. Some info will be left private. I’m even shy to post a #shelfie!

This quote from my favorite artist is an example of how I perceive my choices for my online presence.

Van-Gogh-quote

I can’t have both ways of interacting in either of my author dilemmas. A choice must be made. I need to stay the path I have carved out for having maybe less followers than others but better engagement with people I admire. Also, to continue to be at peace with not reading every new release and hot book of the month. Oh yeah, and to quiet the voice of guilt or the question of fitting in online in my author world. I’m not a true bookstagrammer anyway. I adore the bookstagrammers, don’t get me wrong, because they make my feeds gorgeous and they bring new books to my attention for when I’m ready in ten years. I guess my “color” ismy uncoolness. My being me. My continuing to post what makes me (and my followers) happy. My color lets me shine and stand out from the other authors because they are doing their own things and I continue to do mine.

I may change my opinion in the future, and I am okay with that. Right now, my focus is on getting The Difference published this year (date released soon, eee!) and continuing to edit The Visitor for querying. If you relate to this post, you will love The Difference. My main character Rachel’s journey of self-discovery involves feeling different for her entire life and struggling to find her meaning. Oooh, I can’t wait for you to read it.

I hope you love my genuineness in my posts and my vulnerability here today. I’m just being me. Plain old, uncool me. And I’m great with it. I encourage you to be you as well. There’s only one of each of us, after all.

Dr-Seuss-quote

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Copyright © 2021 C. D’Angelo, Author. All rights reserved.

food, Italian American Author, Women's Fiction Author

Memories…Christmas as an Italian American

buon-natale

Last year in December, I posted about my memories of my family’s Italian American traditions for Christmas. It was a huge hit! I think we can all use a dose of nostalgia again this year, so here’s a re-post for you to walk down memory lane with me. Enjoy!

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It’s time to say Buon Natale, or Merry Christmas, again. I’ve been thinking about all the wonderful traditions I had as child in an Italian American family and I want to share them with you. Every family has their traditions for the holidays, but mine when I was a child were all Italian style, so I’m curious to hear how they are similar or different to yours.

My grandpa was an immigrant from Italy and my grandma was a first generation American, so their traditions were pretty darn authentic to the experience one may have if they celebrated Christmas in Italy, with maybe a dash of American flair to make it a true Italian American experience. I feel lucky to this day that they taught me the beautiful aspects of an Italian Christmas. 

What did the traditions include? Well, I’m glad you asked (um, I mean that you are still reading this post). I am breaking the traditions into food, food, and more food. Just kidding, but really there was a lot of food. Okay, let’s say the memories include time at home, food, music, and religion.

Christmas Eve was just as large and important as Christmas Day in my house. It was always celebrated at my grandparents’ house and Christmas Day was celebrated at my house (that’s just a D’Angelo thing and not specifically an Italian thing, to clarify). My grandparents had the standard pepperoni and provolone cheese appetizer, with plenty of crackers. Sometimes figs from grandpa’s tree were also set out. Always a variety of nuts as well. A random but delicious and light mix for apps. 

The music played softly but just loud enough to draw attention to it, from the room next to the kitchen. Crooners like Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra were only a few of the many voices I heard as a child. I also loved when the children’s Christmas songs came on the radio, like Dominick the Donkey (google it and it won’t get out of your head the rest of the day; it’s the best!). 

Before I get to the dinner, let me tell you about the wine. Everyone had a small glass of red wine, even me as a kid (gasp!). It’s normal in an Italian household to allow older kids and young teens to have a small glass of wine. This way, it is savored and you learn to appreciate it, not to abuse it or seek it secretly.

The dinner we ate was huge, especially for a kid. Grandma’s special soup was always on the stove the entire time we were there and finally we were able to eat it as a first course. The soup had rib meat, celery, carrots, garlic, onion, and pasta of course. I have the recipe but could never make it like her. Another part of the first course was the fish baccala, which only my grandpa liked. Traditionally, Italians do the feast of the seven fishes, but we didn’t have that kind of money! The final first course was prepping for the main course by the adults eating hot peppers. These spicy to the max peppers were ones my grandpa grew in his yard. I’ll always remember all of the adults crying while they ate them, saying through their tears, “uh, these are good;” sniff, blow nose, eat more. It was strange to me, but now I get it.

The main course was always aioli. This simple but flavorful linguini dish had garlic and olive oil with a sprinkle parsley and plenty of grated parmesan cheese (aglio= garlic, e =and, and olio = oil, hence, aglio e olio or aioli). Don’t forget the homemade bread. While grandma’s soup simmered, grandpa made loaves of bread. His crusty white bread couldn’t be beat. The other part of the main course was salad, eaten after the meal. The European way is to eat it after so I did that nightly, and still do. The dressing was only one; grandma’s mix of olive oil, vinegar, oregano, salt, and pepper. 

Dessert was always a mix of homemade Italian cookies, including pignolis and pizzelles. If you haven’t had these, you have to try to find them this holiday. Pignolis are pine nut cookies and pizzelles are snowflake looking, thin almond flavored, traditional Italian Christmas cookies that have confectionary sugar on top. Is your mouth watering by now? Mine is.

So, after all of this, we didn’t lay on the couch; we went to midnight mass! As a kid, I slept until 11 PM, stayed awake until we got to church, slept more, and then was awoken at midnight by loud singing and church bells signifying Christmas Day was upon us. It was a groggy time, but also exciting because, my gosh, Santa was coming!

Waking up on Christmas Day was pretty standard. We opened gifts and blah blah blah. But later, grandpa and grandma came and the real celebration began. 

The appetizers were set out to munch on, including a few of the same from the night before, but also one special one came with dinner. As we sat at the table, my mom would sometimes have shrimp cocktail ready for us at our setting. Then, the soup of Christmas, pasta fazool (okay, it’s really called pasta e fagioli; pasta and beans). My mom was taught by my grandma to make it our special way, which isn’t the way you would see it in restaurants. Ours had long spaghetti broken up instead of small pasta. The beans were usually northern cannellini in type. The tomato sauce base was pretty standard though. 

The main course was usually stuffed shells or lasagna. The sauce (not gravy! This is an Italian American battle of names) was homemade to perfection. Meatballs also, of course. The homemade bread was there again also. Salad came last once again. 

Dessert was again pizzelles but also could be something special like cannolis or cheesecake. Now I’m even more hungry!

So, on to music. My dad played accordion and keyboard so the radio wasn’t on after dinner, my dad was “on.” He belted our Italian classics and all of us watched and sang with him. Music is a large part of the Italian culture. There is always music being played on the radio/records/tapes/CDs, being played live, singing with the music was normal, and breaking out in dance was almost a certainty. My grandma danced around with me, while we tried to get grandpa to dance. He was more of a watcher. But the holiday ended on this high note, pun intended.

It was so much fun to re-live these memories through sharing them with you. Please tell me about your experiences. Most of all, enjoy the moments as you partake in the traditions you engage in today. These are the special times we will hold into the future.

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You can make pizzelles! I am giving away my family recipe when you sign up for my VIP newsletter. I hope they bring you overflowing joy this season.

Copyright © 2020 C. D’Angelo, Author. All rights reserved.