Author, expectations, experiment

Experimenting with Great Expectations

pink-fruit-pineapple-avocado-grapes-kiwi-banana-experimenting-with-great-expectations

What did you think of my first author interview in last month’s blog post? I hope you enjoyed it and like the variety I have here now. See, you don’t know if the month will bring an interview or my personal journey, so you have to follow along to find out. Hmm, I wonder what will next month have… You will see! Just click “Follow” at the bottom of the page and you will receive the monthly email with my post.

But as for this month, I want to ask a question. Are you a scientist? Most people will answer, “No” (I don’t think I have a huge reader audience of scientists but maybe I will be pleasantly surprised!). I am not a scientist, but realize I need to act as one in this great experiment I have gotten myself into with being an author. With having a new career as a novelist, I am learning as I go, therefore needing to experiment but also to check my expectations. Sure, I have researched as much as possible ahead of time and always think through every single thing I say in public, but I also have to try some things out to know if they work. This isn’t as easy as it sounds. It comes with self-doubt, anxiety, fear, endless time devoted, money spent, and probably more that I am blocking out. Kidding, not kidding. But hey, let’s not forget about the high of success in an experiment; the smiles on readers’ faces, the kind comments about my book and my presence online that I receive, and the surprises that are unpredictable. Sometimes I aim for a one result and get another, sometimes I receive an unexpected bonus, and sometimes I f-f-ail. ☹ Ok, that’s a strong word, but still, you get my drift.

Now, think about your own expectations with an endeavor. This could be as simple as making a trip to Target. Maybe you expect to get there in 5 minutes, shop and find everything you need, then come home and start laundry. Ah, but what if there is traffic on the way, the store is out of your common you-can-bet-that-they-have-it item, and you get home so late you don’t have time to start laundry before going to bed? You expected a yellow pineapple and got a pink one, so to speak. If you had your heart set on the yellow pineapple you may be disappointed with the pink one, but if you were open to any color pineapple, you would feel fine. There would not be a mood shift and no impact on your night. Perspective is everything. That’s how an author scientist needs to approach all activities for marketing.

This month is Italian Heritage Month, so I have many activities planned.

italian-american-heritage-month-october

It’s the first full week and already I have come across challenges, reminding me of those pesky expectations that crept in again. My one day $.99 sale began and ended earlier and later than desired due to websites loading at different times then price matching back and forth. Next, my first giveaway post ever went out on the day after the Instagram and Facebook blackout. I thought the platforms were fixed by the next day because my pages were fine, but this wasn’t the case for everyone. So, problem solving mode ensued and all was/will be fine. Expectations had to get in check and remembering about experimenting had to take over. It was a great reminder that this has to happen with anything I try. If an error occurs, I will try to solve it. Just like Vanilla Ice (‘90s kids anyone?). “If there was a problem, yo, I’ll solve it.” Now I have a huge urge to continue to recite the song, but I’ll spare you. 😊

Where did this genius idea of viewing activities as experimenting come from? My wonderful author friend, Debbie Cromack, who is the kindest human and also a new author, shared it with me this year (go check out her social media and books). It helped me tremendously to give myself a break from my high standards that sometimes are out of my control. I do not know how an action will translate into sales of books, so I have to try what I can to the best of my knowledge. Entering a promotion for my book The Difference, a new way to post or blog, or anything else I may madly experiment with needs to be approached with eyes and mind wide open but also through that lens of “It’s just an experiment.” This phrase helps my mindset if a mini disaster strikes, but sometimes Debbie still needs to remind me (thanks, friend!).

So my pointer to you for keeping expectations in check would be to visualize success but accept a different outcome because it’s all an experiment in this thing we call life. That’s it. Just try something and see what happens. Trying will always lead to some result, whereas not trying will get you nowhere fast and possibly leave you with regret and thinking, “What if?”

I will be talking about my written words the rest of my life and will continue to find ways of sharing about it, all with hopes of reaching more people in this great experiment of sharing my art. I will just have to embrace the wins and let the lows roll off my shoulders. I’m not great at that, but I will keep learning. That’s what experiments do for us after all; give us knowledge for future action. Happy experimenting, all.

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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.

Author, Italian American Author, Women's Fiction Author

Vulnerability: Steps and Lessons 

If you follow my social media (and I sure hope you do! 😊), you know that I just submitted my first round of line edits back to my publisher. During this process, I started to think about the amount of vulnerability that is needed in the author world, as well as lessons I have already learned. Let’s look at the meaning of the world “vulnerability” before I go any further.

Vulnerability- the quality or state of being exposed to the possibility of being attacked or harmed, either physically or emotionally. (Oxford Dictionary)

These words strike me especially strong at this time in the world. They are powerful, anxiety provoking, and just plain scary! What is your reaction? What have you been vulnerable with or are being vulnerable about right now in your life? (Pause for self-reflection, lol…but seriously)

Okay, you’re back. So, I’ve given deep thought to the concept of vulnerability in the past, due to my role as a mental health therapist. I’ve thought about it for my clients and in my own life, but never as much as lately. I’m happy to share some insights here, in hopes you can connect to them for your own benefit. But first, a slight backstory. You know that’s how I work by now!

From the moment I opened myself up to the public as an author, when I started my website and social media platforms in December 2018, I had to get more comfortable with the risk of others’ thoughts, responses, and opinions…risk meaning the possibility of something negative or hurtful. I hoped and thought that most people would be kind souls, but you never know. “Attack” is always possible. That was level one for my vulnerability, in my mind, as I reflect back. It’s a constant threat, as I open up my heart every single time I post something or respond to other people’s posts. Of course, it’s a risk I’m willing to take. Just as the next steps.

Level two came as soon as I sent my first query letter in June 2019. Now, you see, I was not only exposing myself to the public, but specifically to experts in the publishing field. Cue the racing heart and flood of second guessing my work. But I persisted. I had to in order to meet my dream of getting published.

The stakes kept rising with each risk I took; the pitch parties I participated in, the interactions with agents and publishers, going to classes, and joining webinars to build my skills. Every bit was allowing a piece of me to escape, without knowing where the piece would end up. This is wayyyy out of my comfort zone, let me tell you.

But then came the call with my now publisher. Level three was in action. She already knew I had not published books in the past, but during this call she mentioned a popular website I hadn’t heard of, which I told her I didn’t know, and I’ll never forget her response. She commented on me actually being a newbie to the field (not in a rude way at all, more like a “oh yeah” moment). The comment stayed with me because I always want to be known as knowledgeable and intelligent (that’s just a part of my personality). I love to be as prepared as possible for any circumstance, but can’t be, obviously. Also, what stuck with me was that it was okay with her that I was new. It wasn’t an issue at all. In that conversation, nor in future correspondence, did she ever have an issue with my past experience.

From that point on I felt a large increase in comfort with being able to be myself during our work together. The lesson of “honesty is always the best policy” is one I abide by and it was reinforced from the start of my relationship with my publisher. There is always going to be a first time for people. We all have to start somewhere and thank God she is giving me a chance.

The next lesson I learned from the requirement of being vulnerable in the author domain is that my desire to learn works for me and my success. Although I want to know everything I can, I know I don’t. Even if I was one of the experts in this field, I still wouldn’t ever consider myself an expert. I have a mentality that I’m always learning. There is always better and more I can do. I love to learn, as written about in last’s month’s blog, so why would this journey be any different? I know I need to listen to my experts (editor and publisher; also, another lesson) to make my book the best it will be. Otherwise, I may as well have self-published.

As I have read through the editor comments in my manuscript these last two rounds, I always try to keep an open mind. I need to be flexible and be able to ponder other people’s opinions of my writing, in order to make it shine. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes I don’t agree, but that is okay. We can have conversations about both of our thoughts and go from there. Sometimes though, it may be that I first don’t agree, think about it more, come back to it at a later point in time, and then see the opinion is correct. Sometimes, even after thinking about it, I come back and still don’t agree, but change the issue anyway, just to see what it would be like. Then, magically, it does work better. Most of the time, the editor is spot on, in fact. It’s not easy to see some things within your own work; you need others. When your art includes your heart, which it always does and yes I rhymed on purpose, it can be difficult to know what can make it better. Even some published books can still be better, I’m sure. The experts are there for a reason, so let them help you. They are on your side. Defensiveness or ego be gone. They won’t get you anywhere, in my opinion.

Maybe the steps are endless in my journey, as I continue to embark on new and exciting aspects in the author world. I know I will be expanding in the future for areas in marketing and such, so there may be a hundred steps of vulnerability. Who knows? What I do know is that as I continue to open my heart and soul, I am becoming a stronger person. This gift is earned and takes time. I’m curious and excited to know all the steps and lessons that are to come in my future as an author.

Tell me if you can relate to being vulnerable at this time and any teachable moments you have had, below in comments. Thanks for reading!

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