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

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.

Author, Italian American Author, Uncategorized, Women's Fiction Author

A Time of Learning

Let me tell you a little secret; I’m a big nerd. Yeah, I said it. I don’t mind yelling it from the rooftops at this stage of life because it’s so darn true (unlike in my youth, but we won’t go there). I am a nerd in multiple ways, but one of the ways is that I love to learn.

I’ve always adored knowing everything about everything. Even things I don’t care about, I care about, if you know what I mean. It’s just for the sake of knowing more that thrills me, so sometimes the subject doesn’t even matter. I know I drove my mom crazy as a child with my million questions of “Why?” and “What does that mean?” She would try to answer until I got her to the breaking point, though that was not my intent. As I got older, I realized it is just that my mind doesn’t stop. Imagine a marathon of the mind. That’s me. Don’t even get me started on taking a multiple choice or true or false test. I could go on for hours for each answer’s possibility if time allowed.

So, this brings me to the present. The endless wonder I have within has done me well in life overall and continues to help me succeed in the author world. My lust to learn has allowed for a continuum of necessity and pleasure in my years, from retaining countless useless facts about topics of interest (hey, you never know when a Titanic fact may come in handy in conversation though), to providing me new worlds of hobbies (teaching myself the ukulele for one), to succeeding academically and in my therapist career, and navigating the publishing world to get my book in all of our hands. I thought last year was a year of major learning for my book and its process from how an idea goes to eventual physical book, but boy was I wrong. Last year only included writing, although learning to write to get signed as well, which I have told you is a whole different animal. This year of 2020 is only 3 months in and has 2019 almost matched, so I expect it to surpass last year.

Now, let me just say, because it would be strange not to address at this time, that I typically do not post on social media or put out on my website anything negative in any way, even in my personal accounts. I am a believer that what you put out comes back, so I want to say and write what I want to happen or just about spreading joy in general, be it through actual inspirational/growth quotes, travel pictures that are related to reading and writing, or Italy/Italian posts. That’s why you may have noticed my topics for posting include these themes, which I believe all have a cheerful vibe. Right now, in the world, there is a health challenge, so I had to decide recently whether to continue my inspirational path, when it would be easy to post only about the difficulties of this time. I don’t think people want or need the sadness and negativity (ahem, plain old reality) all the time, so I learned to listen to myself and the path I set out on over a year ago when interacting with the public. I am continuing to learn to keep that boundary, but there is a fine line sometimes. I do not want to ignore what is on everyone’s minds, so I find creative ways to address it and try to uplift others (which I sometimes need myself of course, and I appreciate when others do this as well).

So, there is the unexpected learning that has occurred from the world health issue at this moment, including the above and how to continue the focus on my writing with swirling changes in work and personal life. Then, there is the straight up learning for the editing and marketing process for my book, which was expected, although still has its surprises. What does that include you ask? Well, let me tell you what I’ve been up to since the last blog.

I have exciting plans for my website, all of which include a lot of, you guessed it, learning for me. Changing anything on my website was always scary for me because if it works, I don’t want to mess with it…except that I have to mess with it! Not being a web designer, these things are scary to an author, ok? Although I love learning, I sometimes have to push through fear, as I am sure you understand. But, I wanted to and did add new pages (a super secret writers page with upcoming fabulousness and a newsletter!). Go me! I also had to use an external app to get the newsletter mail list working; yet another layer of discovery. I secured my new and tighter domain name as well (no WordPress name appears in it anymore). This all sounds pretty simple, but for a Gen X’er new to this web creation world, it isn’t so cut and dry. But I did it. And continue to do it. Stay tuned for more website changes as we get close to my debut in Fall.

I am also learning more about marketing, including getting a logo and working with a graphic artist. Yup, I’m also not a person with a degree in marketing or graphic art! Go figure. And it seems like this career of being an author requires knowledge of many different fields. Thank God for knowing geniuses in the various fields. Specifically, being part of the Women’s Fiction Writers Association has been one of the best decisions I have made in my author career because their webinars are outstanding. The amount of marketing tips and ideas I have complied just from some of their expert talks is pages long.

Nerd Alert: All of these roles I have had to learn about and semi-take on has me even more excited about my path for my novel. It’s just that I didn’t realize 2020 would include all of these tiny pieces. A writer just has the idea, writes it, and then goes totally out of their element to get out there in the world (which seems to be the majority of us introverts anyway). It’s an interesting combination of knowledge to acquire, which continues to draw me in. I am not one for the same old boring job day in and day out, so this author life keeps me on my toes…and I love it.

Who knew (not me) that I would get to experience all of these interactions with others as well, be it in social media or otherwise? My main person in this whole process is my publisher (and I’ve learned so much from her already- she’s amazing). I have had some discussions with her for setting up my editing schedule recently, right through to a tentative release date (yet another I-can’t-tell-you-yet, but will soon enough). Right now, I am moving into the second phase of editing (out of 4; refer to my last blog for a nifty little guide picture), called line edits. This phase examines and fixes any issues with sentence structure and wording (so I don’t repeat something 5 million times; you might get tired of that, right?). While this is happening, cover design, the start of the marketing plan, and finding a narrator for the audio book is beginning as well. I am listening to actress voices to see if anyone feels like the right fit for The Difference. All this learning, all of the time; it’s wonderful. Keep it comin’!

I hope you enjoy your learning about the writing process from my behind the scenes posts. Don’t let me stand here alone in my nerdiness, please. I know I’m not alone! So let’s keep rolling with learning from life’s changes together, as well as this whole making my book a reality thing. 😊

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*Please follow and share my blog if you enjoy reading about my author journey. 

  1. Just click on the “Follow” hover button in the bottom right corner. You will be emailed when new posts are created. 
  2. Feel free to comment or share (click comment and share buttons appear). I’ll always respond to comments. Thanks! 

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