A MOTHER'S LOVE

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  It’s been said that you shouldn’t compare your life to the lives of others. I don’t entirely agree with this. Sometimes I think this is the only way you truly can get an accurate measure of some things...like how lucky you are.

 

I didn’t realize how lucky I was until I was in my thirties. Nearly two decades had passed since my last climb on the jungle gym, my last true swing on the swings or the final time I careened down a playground slide.

 

After gaining a little of the wisdom that comes trudging blind through the joys, sorrows, and mysteries of adulthood for a few years my eyes began to open a little. Although my childhood wasn’t perfect I began to see how rare and precious it was.

 

My dad was a welder.  Back in the 1970’s he earned enough money to allow my mom to stay home with my brother and I. One income families were even becoming more rare then. Most of my friend’s parents both worked outside the home. Many of these kids hung out at our house during summer vacation. My mom would make enough PB&J or bologna sandwiches and chicken noodle soup for however many kids were at our table that day.

 

Despite never having much money my earliest memories are warm, safe, and very loving. I’m thankful that I still remember lots of them. Before my brother was born (we’re 3 ½ years apart) my Mom would load me up in a little red Radio Flyer wagon and pull me up to the neighborhood store. I remember us taking our time on those walks and looking at the birds and the flowers in the spring and the colorful leaves in the fall.

 

We spent a lot of time together, her and I, we were buddies. She would patiently answer any and all of questions my little brain could generate. In the afternoons there was a small window of time between house cleaning and having to start dinner. Mom and I would watch Sesame Street and Mister Rogers together. She would also read to me from a growing library of Golden Books and the stories of Dr. Suess.

 

We didn’t have video games or many of the other distractions kids have today.  Sometimes before Sesame Street we would move the dining room chairs in the living room and arrange them in a circle and drape a sheet over top of them, making a pretty amazing fort. We would take an old Quaker Oats container and turn it into a kid-sized bongo drum.

 

It was during these games of “pretend” I discovered my imagination could take me away from our little 700 square foot house to anywhere I wanted to be. I credit these games of pretend with providing me with the imagination I use now every day to craft fiction, poetry and even these blog posts.

 

Soon my brother was born and the dynamic of the family changed but Mom taught me how to share and be gentle and patient with him. Soon we became the three amigos and were always together. My brother started to join us on those wagon rides to the neighborhood store.

 

Now that I’m in my mid-forties I think back to those memories and they seem like they happened lifetimes ago. So many new memories are crammed between then and now. Those early experiences provided me with the bedrock on which I have built my life. 

My Mom taught me to be patient, caring, forgiving, and loving. Thanks to the the gift of that simple and pure childhood my parents gave me I know how survive through the ups and downs of life. I am content with very little in lean times and I fully appreciate abundance when it does come my way.

 

I’m happy to say that my Mom and I are still best buds. We live almost a thousand miles away but we still talk a few times a day. She is my rock, my personal advisor, my trusted friend. In many significant ways she made me who I am today.  Words could never express the gratitude that I feel towards her but I will try.

 

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your sacrifice, your patience, and giving so freely of yourself. Those early years were so precious. I have found nothing in this world quite like a Mother’s love. Because of you I have felt more than my share of its warmth. I love you always.

 

Happy Mother’s Day!

 

~Eric Vance Walton~

YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR

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I've liked old things for as long as I can remember. As I child I dreamed of owning an old British MG convertible and gravitated towards Laurel and Hardy, Little Rascals, and black/white films. As I got older this love of old stuff continued and I started collecting vintage watches. The jazz revival in the mid-nineties was fabulous for me because I had already been listening to artists like Nat King Cole, Ella Fitzgerald, and Fats Waller for years. With a very few exceptions modern music didn't sound good to me. From the time I was in my late teens until just a few years ago I was consciously unplugged from current pop culture. In my mind I had partially dropped out of modern society. I was protesting a culture that I felt was empty, contrived, and driven by only one thing...making money. Like many people I was guilty of romanticizing the past. I imagined that life that previous generations lived was better, easier, slower, less complicated, and happier. The truth is this just wasn't the case.  

If I ever get to meet Woody Allen I’ll thank him for causing a tremendous shift in perception. A life changing awakening was triggered in me while watching his film, Midnight In Paris. The epiphany I had was this, each generation has its own struggles, stresses, and strife. By unplugging yourself from your current time and longing for the past you miss out on the geniuses of your time.  Another tragic side effect of this is you lose the ability to be conscious of, and enjoy, the moment.

There’s something in our mammalian brains that tends to whitewash memories of past events. Maybe this was originally a mechanism for self-preservation or to foster happiness in old age but now it only impedes our personal growth so it must somehow be put into perspective.  Examine memories of your own past. There are few of us who don’t uncover melancholy feelings about events or situations that were unpleasant or downright unhealthy while we were living through them.  

The Universe is amazing, it provides us with lessons, in real time, nearly every moment of our existence. We can learn valuable lessons from friends, relatives, song lyrics, dreams, even films. The present moment can teach us many things. There’s one caveat, we must be paying attention. Maybe we call it “PAYING attention” because it's hard. It’s difficult to filter out distractions and notice when our own brains are working against us. I know one thing for sure, it’s worth every single effort to try.

~Eric Vance Walton~

JUST SAY YES

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It took me over eight years to complete my first novel, Alarm Clock Dawn. Why?  Because I am my own worst enemy. For almost a decade my brain spewed a steady stream of self-doubt, fear,  and hundreds of excuses as to why I couldn't finish the manuscript. I don’t know how to write a novel, I don’t have time, and at least ninety eight more idiotic excuses.But outside influences (mainly the wish to escape a horribly stressful job in which I was working 60-70 hours per week) forced me to push through the self doubt and fear and finish the novel against all odds. The final push came from a friend at a dinner party who jokingly asked me if I finished that novel yet. The day I finished the first draft was one of the best days of my entire life.

I've met a lot of people in my forty-three years on Earth and most humans are their own worst enemies. Something in our DNA seems makes most of us self-saboteurs. It’s so easy and comfortable to give into the self doubt and fear and take no chances. I gave into this way of thought and said no to opportunities for almost twenty years. After a while I simply grew tired of disappointment and disenchanted with failure. I wanted to say yes to life.

Charles Bukowski said, “The problem with the world is that the intelligent people are full of doubts while the stupid ones are full of confidence.”  It’s sad but true and this one quote explains why our world is in the shape it is. Some of the most intelligent people I know are trapped in a self imposed prison cell they’ve constructed inside their own heads. Their lives become paralyzed in a maze that keeps them in a continuous loop of over thinking.They forget how to listen to their hearts and their intuition.

Finishing my novel taught me one of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned in my whole life. I learned the life we all want lies just on the other side of doubt and fear. Things feel the bleakest just before your big breakthrough. The life of your dreams begins after you say yes. Once you push through to the other side there is no turning back. The adrenaline produced by standing toe to toe with fear becomes addictive. There truly are no limits except for the ones we impose on ourselves.

Once I dipped my toe into the pool of success I began to notice others around me who live their lives by this mantra. Some of these people have overcome great failures. Some have just thought outside of the box of conventional thinking or refused to be pigeonholed into stereotypes.

A few years ago my wife and I took up roller skating. Shortly after we started we met Robert, one of the fastest skaters at the rink. Robert appears to be fifty-five or so but we discovered later he’s nearly seventy. He still rides dirt bikes, break dances, and is a faster skater than people half his age. What is his secret? Good genes might have a little to do with it but even more importantly, Robert says yes to life.

The next time you think of trying something new (and outside your comfort zone) and feel that familiar tinge of fear, simply say yes. The next time the universe presents you with an opportunity that you think you’re not ready for say yes and figure out a way to make it happen. I promise it will get easier the more you do it. You will be amazed at how fast your life will change for the better. This tiny three letter word carries a lot of power.  Just say yes, stand back, and watch the magic happen.

~Eric Vance Walton~

TIME TRAVEL 1.0

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A few weeks ago I entered a contest sponsored by Garrison Keillor.  It was called, "Dear You" and the theme was to write a poem in the form of a letter to any living person. I wrote a letter to my 20 year old self.  Unfortunately, I didn't win BUT the act of writing it provided me with some great insights so it wasn't a total loss. Writing this letter was so helpful to me I challenge you to try writing a letter to your 20 year old self and see how much you learn from it.  It was such an amazing (and scary) thing to revisit who I was to realize how much I've grown and where I'd like to take my life from this point forward.

At the advice of James Altucher I'm also going to write a letter to my 106 year old self and will post it soon.

If you try this exercise and feel comfortable sharing it with us please post it on my page!  

Here's my entry:

Dear Twenty-year old Eric:

You are much stronger than you think and in the next twenty years the world will test that strength to the fullest. Life isn’t anything remotely as you imagine it to be now, it’s much tougher and more beautiful than you can know. Don’t believe anything you hear in the news, the history books, or from any government. Be gentle with yourself and others. Celebrate each success. Try not to judge. Everybody feels insecure inside, some people are just better at hiding it.  Don’t worry so much about what others think of you. Tell the truth, especially to yourself.

One day you will switch roles with your parents. Remember all of those times you made your parents worry?  Well, get ready, karma is coming for you. Enjoy each moment, right now it feels like you’ll live forever but time is incredibly short.  Never put your dreams on hold for anyone, you will resent them for it.  Success exists just outside your comfort zone. Cars are a huge waste of time and money. Spend your money on experiences. 

Pay attention to your pets, they are more intelligent than you think they are and have many lessons to teach you in their short lives. Nothing hurts as much as regret. Watch the sunrise at least once a year. Don’t worry so much about your credit score. Say yes to as many things that scare you as you can. Carry a Swiss army knife. Buy internet stock in 1997, sell internet stock before March 10, 2000. Mullets aren’t sexy. Some people aren’t meant to be your friends for life and that’s okay. You will write a novel. Have more fun, worry less about sleep. Buy quality stuff that can be repaired, expensive doesn’t always equate to quality. Net worth doesn’t equal self-worth. Travel and don’t be afraid to get lost.  Talk to strangers. You will get wiser. Really listen to people when they speak instead of thinking what you’ll say next. Dance every single chance you get. Don’t be in such a hurry to grow up. 

Be yourself, always. Do yoga at least three times per week. Don’t eat soy, it’ll give you man boobs. Meditate. Your heart will be broken, you will recover. Watch less television. Butter actually is good for you (I know it sounds crazy!) Learn to trust your instincts.  Although your forehead will be higher, you will not be completely bald by the time you’re forty. You will meet and marry the love of your life. Beagles are incredibly awesome dogs. Write every single day. Travel. Although you will never have biological children of your own will get to experience some of the joys of fatherhood with your stepson. It’s awesome.

I love you, I really do, but I’m so happy that I’m not you anymore, (signed) Forty-three year old Eric

FUN TICKETS

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I had a lot of misconceptions in my youth. One of them was that making money was the ultimate goal. I think dispelling this myth was one of my biggest lessons in this life. I started doing regular lawn jobs when I was eight so I always had a little stash of cash on hand. Once I saved for months for a set of walkie-talkies. All I could think about was how cool it would be to be able to talk to someone down the block, wirelessly.  This is commonplace now but in 1979 it was still like magic to an eight year old kid.

The thing I discovered is after a few times of using the walkie talkies is this wasn’t cool at all. They were a burden, you had to buy batteries, my friends fought over them. Really, what did eight year olds have to talk about on walkie-talkies anyway...Saturday morning cartoons? How good looking Daisy Duke was? I quickly discovered that this “thing” didn’t make me happy and I felt robbed.

Fast forward a few decades and I got the bright idea that I wanted to become a writer. I dreamed of having a bestseller and getting that huge advance that would change my life in an instant. I wanted to travel and live the glamorous life. I was an idiot. I worked and I worked for years but that day never came for me. The truth was I was still dreaming of and chasing money instead of it being about the love of the craft, connecting with, and helping others.

Only about seventeen years into my writing career did I change my attitude. Honestly, my spirit was broken by the struggles of this career, I was humbled, and had no ego left.  I found this little book called, Choose Yourself and read it on a flight to Cleveland. This is when it all changed for me. I started writing from a place of love instead of a place of greed and after a while I saw the world with new eyes.

Just yesterday I received the first batch of royalties for my first traditionally published book, One Word At A Time: Finding Your Way as an Indie Author. Although I was incredibly grateful, the experience felt weirdly anticlimactic. The positive feedback I’ve received from indie authors about how the book has helped them provided me with many more sparks of joy than the money.

I had a wise uncle who referred to money as, “fun tickets.”  Only now do I fully fathom what he meant. Money doesn’t buy happiness but what it can provide is a little independence and, yes, a little fun. The happiness you must create yourself.

The days of one book providing you enough “fun tickets” to live on are pretty much gone. Indie authors must hustle and use their ingenuity to dream up multiple revenue streams. Books, consulting, freelancing, speaking engagements.

I’m spending this dreary and cold weekend in a city far from home to visit bookstores and drum up some new readers. My life is far from glamorous but I'm beginning to catch a glimpse of real freedom and what a writer's life is like.

I’m here in a loud hotel lobby in downtown Chicago banging out this blog post. Tired, strung out from getting about four hours sleep the night before and waiting for the hotel staff to have the room ready so I can nap for an hour.

Reality is usually so much different from our dreams. Sometimes it’s even better. I’m writing the best I have in my whole life, I feel completely alive, and am full of hope. This, I couldn’t buy with all of the fun tickets in the world.

~Eric Vance Walton~

THE UPSIDE OF NEGATIVE BOOK REVIEWS

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I recently received a one star review on Amazon for my newest book on writing, One Word At A Time: Finding Your Way as an Indie Author. The review read, and I quote, “Sounded like a seventh grader put it together…” The reviewer then proceeded to make the accusation that I attempted to copy Anne Lamott’s iconic book on writing, “Bird by Bird” grinding the proverbial salt to the wound by saying, “He missed by a mile.”How do you even respond to that? The truth is you can’t and you don’t want to.  My emotional cycle played out like this…first comes a few seconds of anger, then a few minutes of shaken confidence, then about ten minutes of worry that it will have a negative effect on the book sales and then, finally, I shrugged it off and moved on.   Not only do you move you, you try to determine if there’s a kernel of constructive criticism that can make you better.   If the negative reviewer reveals something you can work on to make you a better writer they’ve done you a huge favor and you should thank them for their honesty. My big takeaway from this review is apparently not to write like a seventh grader. I’ll try to work on that. 

 Seriously, being an indie affords you countless opportunities to develop a thick skin but the great thing is almost every negative can be turned into a positive. According to James Altucher (whom I respect very deeply) we should strive for a Flesch-Kincaid readability score of three for truly effective writing. A FK score of three translates into third grade level so ideally I need to get to work at reducing this by four grades.  I've said it before, writing is not the profession for the timid or faint of heart. You must be like a gold miner panning for glimmers of shining truth in the river of life. The occasional bad review, can even give your book more legitimacy by showing that it’s not just a bunch of friends and relatives writing reviews for your work.  The truth is not everybody is going to connect with your writing. If you want to become a writer of the caliber that will leave a legacy and be remembered you will probably have as many haters as you have fans. When this happens I will know I’ve truly succeeded at my craft and in life.  ~Eric Vance Walton~

HOW TO FAIL MISERABLY AS A WRITER (or anything else)

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It doesn’t matter how good of a writer you think you are, if you can’t figure out how to connect with readers you’re not going to sell anything. Internet marketing for indie authors is especially tough to figure out. Often our budgets are small or even non-existent and the rules are changing often. This is important stuff. If you don’t figure it out eventually you’ll be discouraged enough to give up on your dream. I admit that marketing has never been one of my strong suits. This is one of the reasons it took my writing career so long to take off.  I was that skinny and awkward kid with thick glasses that few things came naturally to. I would practice things hundreds of times until I perfected them. One of the few things I had on my side was persistence. I’m still that same kid inside, only larger, with a few gray hairs, and the nagging thought that time goes far too fast to waste it.

A month ago I tried to make a poached egg.  It ended up looking like egg drop soup. It was terrible. Ten or so attempts and a few YouTube videos later I can make a perfect poached egg. The secret, once I learned it, was like magic and made the process easy.  What is the secret?  Soak the eggs (still in the shell) in white vinegar for five minutes before cracking and boiling them. That was it. Things are incredibly hard until you figure out the secret and then they’re easy. To find success you must have to have the patience and persistence to get to the EASY.

Most of us have heard the quote by William Faulkner, “In writing, you must kill all your darlings.” If a sentence or passage doesn’t work for the good of the overall project you must get rid of it no matter how brilliant you think it is. This is excellent advice but it isn’t easy to do partially because of ego but to a greater degree because of fear that you can’t write something better. To become a successful writer you must subdue your ego and have the confidence to believe that great ideas come from an endless source within you. When you believe this amazing things begin to happen.

The opposite is true as well. The surest way to fail at this is to write from a place of fear or hold on to ineffective ideas. They become bars in an invisible prison cell that will keep you stuck right where you are.

I know this “kill your darlings” philosophy works for writing so I applied it to marketing. Sometimes the entire marketing idea stinks and has to go but sometimes part of it can be saved, retooled to try again. I’m not getting any younger and the books aren’t selling themselves so I’ll only try a retooled idea once. If the idea doesn’t get results it must go to the scrap heap.

Some of you might remember last summer I had a marketing idea that I was super excited about. While traveling I decided to hand out a few copies of my novel, Alarm Clock Dawn, to random people for free.  There was a note inside the front cover asking the recipient to leave me a message on Facebook letting me know what they thought about the book. After they were finished reading it I asked if they would pass the book onto another friend to read and they could do the same, and so on. The whole idea was based on the Pay It Forward philosophy.

It was a hard thing to accept because I was sure it would work but the whole thing fell flat. I waited for months but all I heard were crickets...not a single response from anyone. Ever. I had to accept it and move on to something new and better. All of us are a constant work in progress. Failure is not an option.

Next week I’ll be traveling to Chicago for a long weekend, partially for business but mostly for fun.  I’ll be visiting a few independent bookstores and doing some research for my new novel Truth Is Stranger. Along the way I’m going to try this Pay It Forward marketing idea once more.  It’ll be interesting to see how it works after a few tweaks.  I’ll be updating you all on my experiences throughout this process.

All it really takes in this world to be successful is working through the hard to get to the EASY.  I hope your path to easy is a short one. More importantly, I hope you learn quickly from every misstep along the way. With Gratitude, ~Eric Vance Walton~

The Perfect Pause

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I don't promote this book much anymore. It's not because I don't like it but it's already been in print now for a decade and I'm more focused on writing fiction now.  I still believe in it. More importantly, I believe in the incredible power of meditation. A little about this book:

Did you ever wish that life came with a pause button? The secret is that it does!

With three months of dedicated practice and journaling you will learn how meditation can greatly improve the quality of your life by:

• Easing and improving your ability to handle stress. • Allowing you to sleep more restfully. • Teaching you to appreciate the beauty that surrounds you.

The Perfect Pause is a clear, concise meditation guide, and journal that will give you the basic tools necessary to discover life's "pause button". Included in the book is a three-month journal to chart your progress. This comprehensive guide provides a reboot to the rigors of our modern life!

Click here to see a preview and purchase. 

7 Secrets For Overcoming Writers Block

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Writer’s block is one of the most frustrating afflictions that a writer can suffer from. It can cause unparalleled stress from project delays, missed deadlines, it can even cause you to second guess your talent. It is safe to say that everyone has suffered from writer’s block at some point in their lives. Studies have shown that under extreme stress the human brain shifts control from the cerebral cortex to the limbic system, which is the part of the nervous system associated with...[Read More]

How To Achieve The Impossible in Five Simple Steps

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How can I possibly make a living at my passion? This question has nagged away at me for most of my adult life. Along the way I’ve learned that discovering how to make a living at your passion is the Holy Grail for every writer, every artist, really mostly everyone on the planet. To me the idea of making a living with my writing was a goal that’s both a little too complex and vaguely defined. Maybe this is why so few of us ever reach itl. After being in this business of writing for two decades I’ve learned it’s much more effective to first take the time to contemplate and define what success actually means to you.

Step 1 – DESCRIBE YOUR PERFECT DAY

Let’s begin to break this impossibility down into more manageable pieces. The first thing I would like to ask you to do is to imagine that you’ve won the lottery, this is a daydream so dream big…you’ve won $100,000,000. Now envision that it’s exactly one year later, you’ve bought and experienced everything you’ve ever wanted, and you’ve gifted everything that you want to give away. Now, describe your perfect day. That’s it. Take a moment and write this perfect day down on paper.

A perfect day is easy for anyone to imagine and is not even that difficult to live out. Invest in yourself and use a paid time off from your day job to actually live out your perfect day. After you’ve done it commit to memory how amazing it feels. This one day is a small swatch of your future that you can now scale up to multiple days, weeks, months, etc. Also, if you discover your art is a major component of your perfect day continue to Step 2. If not, your art is a probably a hobby and, by all means, continue to enjoy it but it’s probably not something you would want to do as a career.

Step 2 – BELIEVE YOU ARE WORTHY

You must convince yourself that not only is your dream is achievable but that you are worthy of it. This takes guts. The universe will test your devotion to your art, I promise you this.  Hurdles will be placed before you, people will disappoint you but remember these are only lessons to learn from. Don’t even think about starting down this path unless you’re prepared for some extremely hard work.

Step 3 – THE REALIZATION

Some people never learn the lesson that money doesn’t bring happiness (neither does poverty) until they’ve spent the best years of their life chasing it. Don’t waste that precious time. Decide how much money would you really need to earn annually at your craft to survive and add a little cushion to that figure. Mostly people are surprised by how different this number is than what they assumed. Write this figure down and then read on to Step 3.

Step 4 – ATTRACT TRUE FANS

Kevin Kelly has come up with a philosophy called, “1,000 True Fans”.  This philosophy, in his own words is, “A creator, such as an artist, musician, photographer, craftsperson, performer, animator, designer, videomaker, or author – in other words, anyone producing works of art – needs to acquire only 1,000 True Fans to make a living.”

Although it sounds simple enough on the surface it’s not but it is achievable with hard and honest work. 1,000 true fans don’t equate to 1,000 likes on your Facebook page, far from it. In my personal experience true fans make up a very small percentage of social media followers. For me it’s around 5% but I’m not sure if this is typical. True fans are more than customers, they are people who, through the magic of chemistry, you’ve made a lasting and meaningful connection with. It’s wonderful when it happens. These are patrons, people who enjoy your work enough to pay money for it, not once or twice but regularly.

This 1,000 True Fans philosophy is priceless because it provides a scalable target for us to aim for. I think it’s also the missing piece in a lot of creative people’s plan. Once you earn these 1,000 true fans the number will begin grow organically through the best advertising medium there is...word of mouth.

Step 5 – BE ONE WITH YOUR ART

You must live and breathe your art (whatever your art happens to be).  It’s who you are, your passion and calling.  It is embedded in your DNA so be one with it.  Get used to the idea that you must throw your entire being into your art every single day.  If you’re doing it right you feel as though you shut out the entire world and even lose yourself during those intense sessions of creating.

From the very minute you start on this path you will be on your way towards achieving what you had convinced yourself was an impossible feat. Coincidentally, and quite hysterically, as I was walking to my car typing this step out on my iPhone I suddenly noticed my hands were going numb from the cold. It was 18 degrees and I was so into writing this that I forgot to put on my gloves.

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If you put these 5 steps into practice with true conviction I promise you will end up closer to the life you wish to achieve. We, as creative people, are so lucky have been born in this time. It’s easier now than ever for us to live our dreams. The world is shifting and a growing number of people are consciously seeking something more than a job that pays the bills, they want a truly meaningful and fulfilling life experience. I wish you luck and blessings in reaching your goal and I thank you for having the courage to pursue it. This is how we’ll heal ourselves and the world.

INDIE AUTHORS, for many more tips such as these please read my book One Word At A Time: Finding Your Way As An Indie Author, available in paperback and eBook formats.

Eric invites you to follow his unfolding story by “liking” his Facebook author page at https://www.facebook.com/EricVanceWaltonAuthor for updates and promotions on his current and upcoming projects.

The Life of a Writer With a Full Time Job

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I fell madly in love with writing the day that I found I could move people with my words. In my younger days I was extremely quiet and shy and writing became an important emotional outlet. As early as I can remember there has been this aching inside of me, to tell a story. As the years have progressed this deep desire to tell a story has become a lifelong obsession to polish and perfect my craft. For almost two decades I’ve have been juggling a full time job while writing books, poetry and freelance articles. Although my goal has always been write full time, [continue reading]

Big Boy Pants

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I was feeling depressed and stuck a few days ago. After nearly twenty years my writing career underwent a quantum leap in growth in the previous two years and then began to sputter. I started to panic. Don't get me wrong, I am totally grateful for each and every step of my journey so far but working with others can be difficult and when our personal aspirations aren't met it's easy to become impatient and frustrated.

I had a shift in attitude this morning that was triggered by a comment from one of my loyal readers. This is a precise example of why it's so valuable for creative folks to communicate with one another. This particular interchange was Zen like and forced me to think about things from just a slightly different perspective. It was a reminder that it's up to no one but me to take ownership for my own success.

What was the magic question you ask? It was a simple question but one that when deeply contemplated was absolutely transformative. It's something that I challenge all of you indie authors to answer yourselves. If it were totally up to you what would you do to promote your books? Think about it, if you had to rely on no one else and the one person on Earth responsible for you achieving your goals was you, what action would you take? The secret is this is absolutely true...ultimately we're all responsible for our own successes.

This writer's life is really a difficult path, it's one of the most difficult professions on Earth to make a living at, and it's so easy to get discouraged. The truth is the very minute you think you have to fully rely on someone else for your success you instantly diminish your power. Although literary agents, publishers and the media can play an important role in your success, your fate never has been and never will be dictated by them. Your savior is yourself. If you keep remembering that, no matter what, no one else is responsible for your success but you, your power and confidence will grow exponentially.

I've learned from the James Altucher show that podcast guest appearances are the best book promotions available today. Author after author has confirmed this. So today I'm going to begin researching and contacting the hosts of the top writer-focused podcasts to give my pitch and ask to be a guest. If nothing else this will give me some experience and help foster new connections that I can draw on. I will also begin to learn more about the industry incase I want to host my own podcast at some point in the future. It's time to put on the big boy pants. The sky is truly the limit, I'll make sure of it.

~Eric Vance Walton~

Resolutions, Schmesolutions

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I don't believe in New Year's resolutions, they seem half-hearted. Resolutions can be charming and fun but really amount to only inspirational buckshot launched into the air, willy nilly, when the clock strikes midnight. Goals, on the other hand I totally believe in and are all-powerful. Goals are our antidote to the days of our lives slipping through our fingers. Goals are like a highly trained sniper...calm, focused, and purposeful. Goals allow us to accomplish incredible things, really most anything we wish. I can honestly say that I’ve had few goals that haven’t been achieved if I’ve chased them with real intent. Believe me when I say this...I’m not special, anyone can do this. The true secret to success when pursuing your goals is the quality of your intent. It also helps if you share your goals with as many people as possible. This creates a large body of cheerleaders and mentors that help to hold you accountable and keep you on track.

With that being said, here it goes, following are my goals for 2015:

1. Grow my readership on social media to 10,000 readers (or more) before the end of 2015. I will do this by producing high quality content that entertains as well as adds value to people’s lives. I want to continue to share everything I am learning every step of the way with my readers as I grow my publishing base. Reason being? I receive as much (if not more) in terms of inspiration and knowledge from my readers than I could ever give to them. I want to create a blueprint for others to follow. You can play an integral role in this goal by helping to spread the word about any of my writing you've connected with. The tiny (but mighty) SHARE button on Facebook is like gold to the indie author. Sharing of author pages and posts is one of the only effective ways left to scale your audience on social media;

2. Finish the first draft of my second novel, Truth Is Stranger by the end of May with a targeted release by Fall of 2015. I will use the NaNoWriMo template as a model (scaled to my personal schedule), I go into detail about how to do this in my recent book on writing, One Word At A Time: Finding Your Way as an Indie Author;

3. Monetize my website with Google Adsense to create another revenue stream. I’ve been thinking about this for years but have never gotten around to it. Monetizing is an easy way for creatives to make more money by doing what they love. I don't care about money. To me money is just a means to an end but this will free up more of my time to create and to achieve goal #4;

4. Travel overseas. I’ve been an aspiring world-traveler since my earliest memory. Other places and cultures have always fascinated me. Wanderlust courses, like a drug, through my veins. Nothing to me enhances your life or provides a greater education than experiencing other cultures. I plan to get some of that education in 2015. I don’t care where but my wife and I will get started. Time waits for no one; and

5. Learn a second language. In the past I’ve dabbled in learning both Mandarin Chinese and French but haven’t pursued mastering these languages with any vigor. In 2015 I will learn to speak French and then we’ll see where it goes from there.

This list might seem lofty but my last few years have taught me that absolutely nothing is unattainable. I’ve seen the following quote in no fewer than a million memes over the past few days but it rings true with me, it reads, “Today is the first blank page of a 365 page book.” I am totally committed to making 2015 a breathtaking adventure. I'd be grateful if you stayed along with me for the ride! Much love, as always.

~Eric Vance Walton~

About The Author

Eric Vance Walton is a novelist, poet, aspiring world traveler, and tea junkie. He invites you to follow his unfolding story by "liking" his Facebook Author Page for updates and promotions on his current and upcoming projects. Eric's new book One Word At A Time: Finding Your Way as an Indie Author recently charted at #7 in the Amazon Kindle Store and is available on Amazon in print or as an ebook.

What Are Your Writing Goals for 2015?

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What an exciting, exhausting, and utterly amazing year it's been! My new book One Word At A Time recently charted at #7 in the Amazon Kindle store, something I never imagined would have been possible a year ago. I want to thank you all for your friendship and support in 2014! The calendar is about to turn once again so it's time to ask...WHAT ARE YOUR WRITING GOALS FOR 2015? Mine will be to write and publish my second novel Truth Is Stranger and continue to find new ways to market my existing books. Above all I will continue to explore and to cultivate what I refer to as, The Writer's Life.

As writers, we are so incredibly lucky to live in this time. We must utilize every advantage technology offers us! I invite you to use these final few days of this year to chart your course to success for 2015. Best of luck to you all in the coming year. If I can do this, so can you. Carpe Diem!

About the author: Eric Vance Walton is a novelist, poet, aspiring world traveler, and tea junkie. You can find many practical tips learned through Eric's twenty year career in his new book One Word At A Time: Finding Your Way as an Indie Author, on Amazon in print or as an ebook. He invites you to follow his unfolding story by “liking” his Facebook author page at https://www.facebook.com/EricVanceWaltonAuthor for updates and promotions on his current and upcoming projects.

Article © 2014 Eric Vance Walton

The 6 Most Challenging Things About Being An Indie Author

People ask me all the time...what are the most difficult things about being a writer? My first reaction is, “Where do I start?”  Seriously, the list of challenges is long but if I had to choose my top six, they would be as follows: 1. Having trust, confidence, and patience. When you only have twenty readers on your Facebook page and a half completed manuscript that you haven’t been able to touch in weeks sometimes your future as a writer seems bleak. I know, I’ve been there. I can tell you with full honesty if you possess trust, confidence, and patience you can make it as a writer. Talented writers are plentiful and the skill of writing isn’t some kind of magic that you have to be born with but is powerful magic that can be learned. Anyone can learn to write well. After you’ve mastered the craft what will set you apart is trust in your abilities, the confidence to keep learning/evolving, and the patience that your day will one day come. Do whatever it takes to cultivate these three attributes. I think many writers give up just shy of their big break. Even if the big break never comes the positive things that writing attracts into your life will be a handsome reward that enrich your life tremendously.

2. Finding quiet time to write. This can be as difficult as juggling chainsaws while wearing woolen mittens. Since it’s such a challenge to make a living at writing you must find an alternative means to pay the bills until you’ve established yourself. Having to work the equivalent of 1.5 (or more) jobs forces you to efficiently utilize every single moment of your day if you wish to get anything done. A smartphone helps tremendously by allowing you to record important ideas the moment they strike during short spans of quiet throughout your day.  A mobile phone is also gives you the freedom to freshen your social media accounts on the run. To purposely carve out larger blocks of time it’s best to have a designated area to write that assures you peace and quiet. It seems like the moment you turn on your computer and the writing really begins to flow you become the center of attention of everyone (including animals) within a five mile radius. People who aren’t creative don’t understand the creative process, they just don’t. It’s your job to educate them about the importance of your quiet time.  Make it your goal to find your own time for peace and quiet so you can do your thing.

3. Promoting your work online with a small budget. For the first few years of its existence social media was the last missing piece of the puzzle that made indie publishing work.  At last indie authors were able to get their work in front of enormous amounts of people for little to no cost. Although social media can still be an effective way to promote if used correctly it’s not as easy to grow the size of your readership as it once was. In the last eighteen months Facebook has begun severely limiting the outreach of posts from business pages. What’s worse is your outreach is most limited most during peak times on weekends when more of your readers are logged on. Facebook has adopted this practice to encourage page owners to “boost” their posts for a fee. In my experience, boosting posts is a bad investment, boosting has never translated into a sizable amount of sales. There are a couple of ways to expand your Facebook outreach for free during peak times, regularly remind your readers to "like" and "share" your posts with their friends and link your Facebook author page to your Twitter feed. Also, create a blog, post to it several times per week, and encourage readers to subscribe to your blog. It’s important to remember to enable the widget that allows your readers to enter their email address to subscribe to your blog. Once they sign up your subscribers get your posts delivered directly into their email box where they’re most likely to be read. A subscriber list is still the best way to scale your network of readers at no cost.

4. Establishing a reputation as a “real” writer. The market is flooded with indie authors and you must be able to get yourself noticed amongst the babel of millions of voices. You accomplish this in three ways, writing what you know, never undervaluing your work, and genuinely valuing your readers. In a way you must also play the role of the best-selling author you wish to become and, trust me, you will naturally grow into it. This doesn’t mean you should project a false perception of yourself or your work but you must learn to present yourself professionally both online and in person. You must become your own best spokesperson. When someone asks what you do proudly tell them, “I’m a writer!”  Go ahead say it out loud, it feels amazing doesn’t it?  Above all else you must always do right by your readers by consistently exceeding their expectations when it comes to content. Work hard to give your audience quality content, something of value that makes them laugh or makes them think and in time you will build a loyal fan base. Be generous in any way you can and those acts of generosity will come back to you tenfold.

5. Generating sales. To make a living at this you must sell books and the only way to sell a lot of books requires you to grow your network of readers. At first concentrate on offering lots of free quality content on a consistent basis through blog and social media posts. This is an investment in your future as a writer. Remember to offer the reader something that will truly engage and benefit them in some way. Write in a voice that makes your audience feel like you’re speaking to them personally.  This forges an important bond that will earn enough trust that people are willing to spend their hard earned money on your work. Also, you must become a promotional idea generating machine, constantly coming up with new ways to sell your work. I keep an idea log in the Notes app on my iPhone and try to come up with a few new ideas every day.  Don’t be afraid to test your ideas in the real world. If an idea works, simply take note and repeat it. If an idea flops, tweak it slightly or try something altogether different.

6. If you’ve done your job some people will assume you're wealthy (and in reality they’re correct). Yes I know, if you’re a writer, this sounds absurd. If you’ve presented yourself professionally online and in person you will project success. There are many folks who think that if you’ve published books and promoted them well that you’re already living the glamorous life of a best-selling author. The good news is, if you keep at it there is always the chance you will eventually achieve whatever goals you have for your writing career. For this dream to be realized it’s imperative that you be madly in love that act of writing itself. You must make up your mind that you will write even if you don’t receive a dime for it.  From day one of your writing career there’s great wealth to be gained but it is a wealth other than the financial variety. The immense feeling of content that comes with writing a really good piece of work has sustained me through the darkest of days. Connecting with and receiving feedback from my readers has lifted me to new heights even when times are good. Contentment is a kind of currency that is sheltered in even the worst of economic downturns and will leave you with a life that is rich beyond measure.

About the author: Eric Vance Walton is a novelist, poet, aspiring world traveler, and tea junkie. You can find many more practical tips on writing in Eric's new book One Word At A Time: Finding Your Way as an Indie Author, on Amazon in print or as an ebook. He invites you to follow his unfolding story by "liking" his Facebook author page at https://www.facebook.com/EricVanceWaltonAuthor for updates and promotions on his current and upcoming projects.

Article © 2014 Eric Vance Walton

A Note From My Publisher

I’m writing for a simple reason. I want to bribe you to buy the book "One Word at a Time" by Eric Vance Walton. Why am I doing this? Because I believe in this book.

If you want to be a writer, a real writer, this book is for you. It’s not about fame or money. (Even though the book will help you get those things.) It’s about building a life as a writer.

If you buy the "One Word at a Time" before Saturday, I will give you 3 eBooks that we’ve previously published as a bonus. The bonus eBooks are not available anywhere else. The only way to get these books is to buy "One Word at a Time."

The bonus books are: “Submit Publish Repeat,” "How to Market Your Novel on Facebook," and "Your Book, Published!"

If you want to live the life of a writer, please buy "One Word at a Time." Right now.

Buy Now (Print Edition): http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1942344007/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=1942344007&linkCode=as2&tag=bopto-20&linkId=XTPWRF3AMLIQQ2KQ

Buy Now (Kindle Edition): http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00P06KTM8/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00P06KTM8&linkCode=as2&tag=bopto-20&linkId=WFPSUVT6IDU5WDG7

Sincerely,

Jacob Jans Editor Authors Publish

PS: Once you buy One Word at a Time, you can access your bonus content here: http://www.authorspublish.com/press/?p=28

In This Business Of Writing, One Opportunity Leads to Another

I'm excited to share my newest article with Freelance Writing magazine! Consider freelancing and see your opportunities as a writer grow exponentially. CLICK HERE to read the article. 

Give the Gift of Poetry!

The holidays are upon us once again! A few of you have asked if I’m still offering my poetry for sale...I am for a limited time. Please place your holiday orders by 12/12 to allow time for delivery. Pricing is as follows: 1 poem for $20 or 2 poems for $30. After 2 poems are purchased each additional poem is $15 (same order only.) Each poem is printed on parchment (suitable for framing) and autographed.

Payment is accepted by credit card via PayPal, see the link below for details on how the process works:

https://ericvancewalton.wordpress.com/poetry-for-sale/

If the poem you have in mind isn’t listed on my site just private message me to confirm if that poem is available or if you have any other questions. Thanks!