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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

4 Tips on How to Actually Achieve Your New Year's Resolution.

The sad truth is most resolutions fail because you expect them to fail (source: Forbes: Why Your New Year's Resolutions Fail).

According to one survey, around 45% set resolutions each year yet only 8% actually follow through (source: Stephen Shapiro Interesting New Year's Statistics). I see this at the gym. The first few weeks of January are crazy as throngs of people decide to get into shape. By February, most have given up.

Success and self-esteem are not improved by setting goals. They are improved by achieving your goals. For many, creating a New Year's Resolution is a form of procrastination (source: Why New Year's Resolutions Fail). They create the illusion of doing something. Real change occurs when we alter our habits. And that takes work.

1. Set realistic goals

Step one in achieving your goals is to create S.M.A.R.T. goals. This is something they teach in business and management courses but doesn't reach through to the Arts.
     S - Specific: The most details the better (e.g. "Write 5 pages a day" is better than "Write more."
     M - Measurable: Put a number to it. Quantify
     A - Achievable: Make it realistic
     R - Relevant: Why are you doing this? How does it further your long-term goals
     T - Time Bound: Give each task a firm deadline.
Link: Application and History of SMART goals

2. One Goal is Better than Several

A  quick Google search will reveal hundreds of sites offering suggested resolutions. However, if you actually want to make a change in your life, pick one - two at most. The rest can wait until next year.

30 New Year's Resolutions for Writers
13 New Year's Resolutions for Writers by Jeff Goins

3. Set (and follow) a schedule

I teach college-level management and professionalism courses. One of the foundations of goal setting is to start with a long-term goal and break it down into short-term goals. If you're serious about following through on your resolution, break your end goal into smaller goals. And give deadlines for each one.

For example, a resolution to get in shape is vague and likely to fail. However, a resolution to loose 30 pounds within the next year is more likely to succeed. I'd suggest breaking it down even further. Resolve to loose 3 lbs per month. That's much more achievable. As a writer, instead of focusing on writing a book, focus on how many pages you will write each day. The most common goal is four pages per day. Depending on your typing speed and experience, you can get this done in under 2 hours. So build 2 hours of writing time into your schedule every day.

4. Celebrate Your Success

Named for the Roman god Janus, January is the time of open doors and new beginnings. Janus is recognizable because he has two faces: one looking forward, one looking behind. Before you look ahead, take some time to look back and see what you've already accomplished.

Stephen Shapiro, author of the survey quoted above, suggests there is no real link between achieving goals and general happiness. It is far to easy to get caught up in the drive to do more that we forget why are doing more. Instead of striving to achieve new goals, take some time to appreciate the goals you have already accomplished. See how far you have come and give yourself a pat on the back. Stop waiting for someone else to congratulate you.

LINK: Happiness By Wanting What You have (mp3)


Amazon: M Joseph Murphy on Amazon: Paperback and ebook
Smashwords: M Joseph Murphy Author Page on Smashwords
Kobo: M Joseph Murphy Books on Kobo

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Urban Fantasy Box Set Featuring NY Times Best Sellers - PREORDER NOW! #asmsg

Explore The Dark Side of Urban Fantasy – Paranormal Suspense with THE SHADOW BOX from NY Times & USA Today bestselling authors.

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Ride the cutting edge of dark fantasy in this unique collection of fast-paced, gritty, suspenseful thrillers. Filled with black magic, vampire trailer trash, werewolves, sorcerers, assassins, clairvoyants, zombie draggers, and old-school gothic horror, a sure bet for fans of paranormal suspense.

DARKER THINGS by Rob Cornell
Fifteen years have passed since Craig Lockman worked for a shadowy agency fighting monsters most think exist only in nightmares. A mysterious teen girl arrives at his door with his fiercest enemy on her tail. Now he must protect the daughter he never knew from the dark world he thought he left behind.

MOTH by Sean Poindexter
Social worker Max Hollingsworth is no stranger to monsters. Supernatural or human, he's faced all kinds. But when he's called upon to investigate a missing child, he may have met his match.

THE SHEPHERD by Travis Luedke
After saving a mysterious girl from a hit and run, 16 yr. old Mike Evans soon finds his life spiraling out of control. Facing clairvoyant visions of grisly death, Mike struggles to avert disaster and make his way through the chaos.

A band of misfit, half-demon teenagers join the ruthless, immortal Wisdom, to stop The Council of Peacocks. The Council, a secret society of sorcerers, has plotted for centuries, and now the time has come for Activation – a hostile takeover of Earth.

A DEATH DISPLACED by Andrew Butcher
When Nicolas Crystan unexpectedly sees the future, he acts fast to save Juliet Maystone from a fatal accident, unintentionally "displacing" her–giving her the power to see ghosts. Together, they must use their newfound abilities to unravel a mystery more connected to Nicolas than he ever imagined ...

BOUND BY BLOOD by Shane KP O’Neill
Vlad Dracula: ruler, tyrant, warlord, and champion of the Catholic faith, is seized by Lucifer in his moment of death and becomes a monster, born of Darkness. Vlad is charged with destroying the institution of the Catholic Church, to help turn man against God so that Lucifer may finally return to Heaven and end all of mankind.

LUNA SANGUIS by Simon Okill
A mysterious woman awakes in an asylum in France, 1925, with amnesia. As her memory is restored she reveals her true vampiric nature and unleashes a bloody nightmare that might destroy all humanity.

TELL ME WHEN I’M DEAD by Steven Ramirez
When a contagion decimates the town of Tres Marias, recovering alcoholic Dave Pulaski, his wife, Holly, and a group of armed soldiers and civilians must find a way to survive.

THE LONG WAY DOWN by Craig Schaefer
The death of a porn star leads sorcerer Daniel Faust down a rabbit hole of conspiracy and madness. For the first time, black magic and bullets might not be enough to save him from the brink of damnation.

BLACKJACK by Kristopher Norris
When Vincent Black, a gun for hire, is told vampires are all too real, he thinks it’s a joke. But soon he learns that he is not the most dangerous brand of hunter out there...

Buy now before this deal is gone in 2015!

Add it on Goodreads!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

What I Learned By NOT Finishing NaNoWriMo

Link: Should You Feel Bad About Not Finishing NaNoWriMo?

Mock Cover for My NaNoWriMo
Although I've published four books, this was my first year attempting NaNoWriMo, Honestly, it was the first time there was a break in my writing schedule. I decided to do something completely different. Normally I write paranormal thrillers and epic fantasy. My NaNoWriMo book was pure thriller, a story about a sex addict who becomes the target for a serial killer after posting an exhibitionist video online. I even threw together a quick cover. The NaNoWriMo site suggests there is a link between adding a cover to your work in progress and actually finishing it.

If you're not familiar with NaNoWriMo, it stands for National Novel Writing Month. The challenge? Write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. To non-writers this sounds impossible. But all it amounts to is writing around 4 pages a day (around 1600 words). I normally write 5-6 pages a day and quickly found myself outpacing the deadline even though I was in China for the first few days of the month.

That's when I made my first mistake: I got cocky. I was so far ahead of schedule I decided to take a break. I started writing every other day instead of every day. Fortunately for me, this book quickly took on a life of its own. The words flowed out of me like a man possessed. In 10 days I reached the half-way point.

Then life happened. On Saturday the 15th, my husband complained of abdominal pain. I assumed it was just hold over from our trip to China. He'd experienced a bit of intestinal unpleasantness halfway through the trip. Hours later he was moaning in pain with near constant stabbing pains. He told me he thought it was his appendix. I thought he was being overly dramatic.

Not so much.

We went to the hospital at 9:00 in the morning. By 10 at night, he was in surgery to have his appendix removed. I suppose I could have brought my laptop to the hospital and wrote while in the waiting room. Or I could have left him there and gone home to write.

But I realized something.  Some things are more important than finishing a novel.

Maybe that's not the message we're supposed to send. Like you, I've heard the stupid slogans: You're not a writer unless you write every day. I call bullshit on that. Whoever said that should do some research on famous writers, many of whom did not write daily. I write most days and, like I said, I already have 4 books published. So, yeah, I am a writer. But you know what's more important?

I'm a human being. What kind of jerk would I look like to abandon my husband at the hospital on our anniversary just to get my daily word count in? The next few days were spent keeping him company and trying to distract him from the pain and annoyance of recovering from surgery.

Again, I'm sure I could have found some time in the following days to write. But each time I stood to leave, one thought formed in my mind. On my death bed, what would I be more upset about: not writing that day or not spending time with Rob?

It was never a question about finishing the novel, it was a question of finishing it within the artificial deadline of November 30. It only took 4 days before my husband could function on his own. By then I was far behind in my word count and made the only decision I regret: I stopped writing.

Like a 5 year old, as soon as I realized I couldn't win I decided not to play. I couldn't write 25,000 words in 10 days...only I know I can do that because I already HAD done it in the first part of the month.

So here are the three things I learned from NaNoWriMo:

  1. Some things are more important than writing. If you don't get that, I feel sorry for your family.
  2. Don't get lazy. When you're ahead of schedule, keep plowing. You never know when life is going to throw you a curve ball. You can use the breathing room.
  3. Don't stop. Missing a deadline is not an excuse to stop completely. Keep working even if you don't "win" NaNoWriMo. The important part is the novel, not the award.

Link: List of Traditional and Self-Published Books That Began as NaNoWriMo Novels.


Amazon: M Joseph Murphy on Amazon: Paperback and ebook
Smashwords: M Joseph Murphy Author Page on Smashwords
Kobo: M Joseph Murphy Books on Kobo

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