Wednesday, March 4, 2015

What Does Success Mean?

What Does Success Mean?

I stumbled across this question while reading a blog post yesterday, and it was unrelated to writers. This question, which clearly had the blogger stumped, was just as thought-provoking for me. I thought I would turn it on all of you. 

“Success” is a complicated word. Writers at any level of their careers can struggle with this problem of properly defining “success”. So, what is success, in your opinion? Now, before you jump in and tell me that success is a house in the Hampton’s and a summer home in France, which are worthy goals, to be sure, perhaps you should give yourself time to ruminate on this question. I posit this question to you, and then dare you to come back to it five years later. I bet your answer would change. 

The truth is that we’re all in the same crazy boat, whether we’re just starting out as writers, or whether we’re self-published or traditionally published. The competition is fierce, forcing us to get rather creative in our author journeys. Both indie and traditionally published authors have to work their butts off, and anyone who thinks it’s simple is just plain wrong. So, I urge you to consider the following questions carefully.

1.     How do you define success?

2.     What are your goals as an author?

3.     Why do you write?

4.     Is there a moment that has made you especially proud? Or more than one?

5.     What do you require to be happy?

“Wait a minute, Marie. This is getting deep. Aren’t you going too far?”

Not really. As authors, we must constantly reevaluate our goals, and shape them as trends change. We evolve as writers, just as we grow as people through our experiences. And I sincerely think these questions can help anyone, even if you aren’t a writer.

What does “success” mean to you? Is it measured by a steady paycheck and food on the table? Or do you have loftier goals in mind? What is your passion? Have you pursued it? If you haven’t, why not? And what will satisfy you in the long run?

As an author, is it enough to see how far you’ve come? Maybe not, but it should weigh into your goals on some level. Why not take a moment and recognize it? Did you imagine you’d be here five years ago? Well, heck, I certainly didn’t! I was just trying out the self-publishing fad after years of writing and actively working on my big manuscript. Fast forward five years and now I’ve published twenty books, I run three blogs, moderate several discussion groups on LinkedIn and Facebook, I’ve had numerous author interviews, both on blogs and on the radio, written countless articles, and the story ideas just won’t quit. I’m just plugging away, steadily working on my goals. Instead of thinking, “Well, gee, I’d love to be a millionaire someday”, I am thinking of specific projects, and what kind of progress I’d like to make on those.  

So, what is success to you, and how do you go about defining it?  Maybe you have a role model you look up to, someone you know has gone through a lot to get where they are today. Well, that’s great! Is that person your idea of “success”? Or could you also be just as inspired by a mother of three who works a day job, manages to get a promotion, and still carves some quality time out of the day to spend with her children? 

No matter our goals as authors, we can’t forget that we are human beings as well. How do your goals fit into your life? Life will go on regardless of whether we write. The clock will keep moving, and the people who depend on us will still require our attention. Being an author can feel like a solitary, juggling journey at times, but it’s not exactly lonely. A whole community of writers who’ve been through the same thing, who are going through the same thing, are out there as well.

Despite all of that, it’s good to define your idea of success, and answer some important questions for yourself from time to time. Your answers may change as you grow as an author.

So, what is “success”? I’ll give it a go. To me, it is pursuing your dreams and taking the risks to achieve them.

What are my goals? I don’t ask for the moon, and I don’t really care for being a millionaire. My ultimate goal is to make it into a bookstore, and I don’t mean just walking into one. LOL. I’d like to see at least one of my titles on the shelves. 

I don’t know how it will happen and I don’t know when, but there it is. I think the goal is achievable, and I will continue to work towards it while enjoying the crazy journey along the way. Do I have other goals? Sure, I do, but they are smaller goals, as aforementioned. The great thing about being an author is that you can reshape your goals as publishing trends change. Will bookstores go out of style? Will ebooks take over entirely? I don’t know, but honestly, I am satisfied with where I am right now.

Why do I write? I am answering the call inside of me, the urge to put pen to paper, and I am honoring the characters who need their stories told.

A proud moment, or moments? There have been a few. Receiving a book contract was one, and I can’t even describe how it felt to see my book in print for the first time. Amazing! And third? Well, I think I feel a wonderful thrill every time that I finish a manuscript. There’s just something about knowing the world you’ve created has played out to the best of your ability, that you’ve told your story and honored your characters. 

And then there’s that tricky question…

What do you require to be happy as a writer or author? For myself, just give me the ability to write (a keyboard, or a pen and paper), maybe some fresh air and a good drink like hot tea or water. Then I am set! I don’t need anything fancy, just that connection to the page, to the story and I know I can’t lose. Writing is who I am. To take it away would be a personal tragedy. If I ever get stranded on a deserted island, I'm probably screwed because I'd have no creative outlet. Although if I could find a way to create a makeshift pencil, I guess I could write on palm leaves. LOL. But, I digress. Back to the topic of success.

So, is that enough for you? Can you content yourself with how far you’ve come as a writer or author (remember that those successes should be celebrated too!), and knowing that you are still working towards your ultimate goals? An even if you’re not a writer, these questions can be just as thought-provoking. Let me change it up a bit in that case.

1.     How do you measure success?

2.     What are your professional/personal goals?

3.     What is your passion? Why do you do it? If you haven’t pursued it yet, why not? What’s standing in your way?

4.     Think about some of the proudest moments in your life.

5.     What do you require to be happy?

Wow! See how that completely changed everything? Why shouldn’t we take a step back from our busy lives, and try to define “success” for ourselves? It will mean something different for everyone. Maybe your definition of success is that mentor you’ve always looked up to. 

Perhaps it’s one or both of your parents. Just because that person isn’t in your industry doesn’t mean you don’t admire their trials and successes, big or small. Or maybe success for you is defined by a specific item you’d like to earn or acquire.

So, what does success mean to you? Think about it. I dare you.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Pretty Good Reviews for the Heiresses in Love Series!

I just came across these two reviews for Upon Your Return and Upon Your Honor. Not too bad!  :)

Upon Your Return by Marie Lavender

's review
Feb 02, 14

bookshelves: romance
Read from January 30 to February 02, 2014

I was given this book by the author for an honest review.

I loved the cover of this book, very nice and sexy. I found Captain Grant Hill to be a wonderful sexy character. He was a wonderful protector of a very stubborn lady who know what she wants and doesn't let the world tell her what she should do. It took a lot of balls or I guess I should say backbone to do some of the things she does. I found this to be a very sweet, loving, passionate book. Fara was born in a time where women had little rights and others took control, you had no say even in marriage. There are a lot of twist and turns it is hard to keep up at times, and I did get a little confused but all in all it was a very good read.
4.0 out of 5 stars A story of finding true love, February 26, 2015
This review is from: Upon Your Honor (Kindle Edition)
This was intriguing story filled with excitement from Chloe running away after her father’s death to her being kidnapped along with falling in love. The author gives you a wonderful plot but at times it is just too long. I found this enjoyable read but found my mind wondered at times. The author did pull me back in with wonderful parts in the book.

Chloe has already lost her mother at a young age, to lose her father at 19 was too much add a man that claims her father wanted her to marry him and take over her money was more than she could take. She decides she should go to her grandmothers, gets on a boat and leaves life as she knows it. Chloe is a very strong willed lady and goes through some trying times. Gabriel finds her and does his best to protect her, men kidnap her but Gabriel finds her. Both have a lot to learn as they travel the seas and endure many trying times.

I thought the author gave us wonderful characters with a story to tell. I loved Gabriel for his strong caring ways. He grew to be a wonderful man you could lean on, one that cares so much and gives so much. Chloe grew to be a better person to learn to trust and found that not all mean are evil or have bad intent.

I felt this was an enjoyable read at times long winded and could have been cut down a little. All in all it wasn’t a bad read. At times I was a little confused but I worked it out. The author does have a wonderful plot with wonderful characters. She tells a story of lost, pain and sorrow as they grow to become stronger more meaningful adults. I wouldn’t say this is your normal historical romance but a good one with a wonderful ending.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Exclusive Interview with Author Celia Kennedy

Today, we're doing something a little different. This is our third guest author interview on the Marie Lavender's Books! blog, and self-published author Celia Kennedy, whom I had the pleasure of meeting on my author journey, is visiting us. 
Hello, Celia!  It’s such a pleasure to have you here. :)

Can you tell us a little bit about your latest book? When did it come out and where can we get it?
Kathleen’s Undressed, The Accidental Enigma (Book Two in The Accidental Series), takes place in Paris and opens with Fall Fashion Week in full swing! We quickly learn that Kathleen is an aloof woman who works hard and has big dreams. We also learn that Kathleen has reasons that prevent her from playing as hard as she works.

Fortunately for Kathleen, she has old friends and new friends who unknowingly derail her orderly life and get her to start thinking about ‘what-if’s.’ Charlotte, Hillary, Tiziana, and Marian (from Book One in the series, Charlotte’s Restrained) show up in full force in Kathleen’s Undressed. Loads of laughter, friendship, fashion, food, snarky banter, and of course… romance.

Kathleen just made her presence on the Amazon scene on Monday, February 23, 2015. You can purchase it there, via this link:

It sounds great! I'm so excited about your new release!
So, tell there anything that prompted Kathleen's Undressed? Something that inspired you?
Writers are always looking for inspiration; how to put a new twist on an old topic, how to add the unexpected, put a lot of sparkle in what could be just an okay story. I’ve always believed that to be a great writer, you have to be a passionate reader, and that includes your own work! After publication of Book One of The Accidental Series, Charlotte’s Restrained, The Accidental Stalker, I realized that I had one character who, though a great contributor to Charlotte’s story, was really quite unknown.

So, I looked at Kathleen as I would a person I’ve never really gotten to know well. Why had Kathleen remained undeveloped? What wasn’t I seeing? Was there something she was hiding? From there, Kathleen’s Undressed, The Accidental Enigma was born. In my coming to understand Kathleen, I realized that I could create a character who still meshed well with the intelligent, quick-witted, high-fashion, well-traveled group of women from book one – but I could make her so much more – give her that sparkle, and add twists! So, she becomes an enigma. As book two unfolds, readers quickly come to see that there is much more to Kathleen than her closest friends know. She has secrets, some quite dark.

So, when did you know you wanted to write?  Or has it always been a pastime of yours? 

Way back in fifth grade (I guess I was about nine years old), I found out I loved writing. I devoured books as well, and daydreamed a lot about being an author. In high school I was the editor of our school newspaper for two years… then when I first went to college, I focused on journalism – but life got in the way and I picked a more pragmatic field – engineering. (Kathleen does something similar by the way!)

I got started when I was nine years old as well.
Do you have any favorite authors? 
I love the classics, so yeah, Jane Austen, F Scott Fitzgerald, John Steinbeck… but then I love so many current authors – Jane Porter, Marian Keyes, Katie Fforde, Jill Mansell, Christoph Fischer, Kristin Hannah, Jennifer Collins, Katie Oliver, Whitney Dineen, Candace La Fleur, Rick Riordan, Jan Romes, and many, many more. 

Do you write in a specific place? Time of day? 

I have a family, so my day is carefully carved out. I write 7:30-2:00 and then 3:00-5:00 three days a week; I sneak in some evening hours if the kids are busy. I have a little corner in the living room carved out for me, so I’m tapping away at my keyboard in the middle of everything. I’m about twenty paces to the refrigerator, forty to the bathroom – which is perfect. Oh, I’m surrounded by windows so I can look out at the world and daydream, which is my creative process.  

That's great!
Are there any words you'd like to impart to fellow writers? Any advice? 
Think positive, be realistic, have faith in yourself – everything good that is long-lasting takes effort and time. Find a supportive community, give back more than you take, be fearless! What else… maybe forty paces to the fridge and twenty to the bathroom…

LOL. Thank you for stopping by, Celia! :)

Readers, here is the blurb for Kathleen's Undressed.

The ladies from Charlotte’s Restrained are back together! Joining Kathleen in Paris, France, for Fall Fashion Week, the ladies and their men mingle with celebrities, royalty, and the fashion elite. 

Kathleen’s thrilled to have her friends in town, but what should be a week of camaraderie and fun is about to take a darker turn. Because Kathleen has secrets. Dark secrets her friends would be devastated to learn.  

A special someone enters Kathleen’s life who urges her to reveal what she’s kept hidden. It becomes clear she will have to make a choice when the group reunites for an unexpected wedding.  

Will Kathleen continue deceiving her friends at the risk of their friendship — or reveal the truth at the risk of herself? 

Here is an excerpt from the novel.

Before she put any more thought into it, a thought dashed through Kathleen’s mind, “Tiziana, didn’t you buy the Spoylt collection for your honeymoon? What inspired the trip to Cadolle today?”

“Because, my darling, I want to be provocative in the bedroom, but at work, I must be sexy and comfortable.”

Hillary inquired, “In that order?”

“But of course!”

Lifting her glass to Tiziana, Marian saluted her, “She did land Ted Blackwell with those jiggly parts of hers. Thanks to Charlotte, in small part.” Tapping her glass gently against Tiziana’s, she continued, “To the only woman I know who celebrates that her body fat is at 30%!  I’d say her priorities are straight.”

Kathleen smiled at Marian, then looked around the room. Just before her gaze dove back to the menu, she saw their reflection in one of the large mirrors mounted on a wall. Blue eyes held her the briefest second, then looked away. She swiveled around in her chair, looking for those eyes. But they were gone.

She leaned back into her chair, trying to regain her composure. Chattering at the table continued while Kathleen sought to ground herself in the present. Gradually, the writing on the menu took form and descriptions began to sound tasty. “Okay ladies, do you need help with the menu? What are we doing? Small snack here, dinner out or stay here and nibble our way through the menu?”

“Are pieds de porc what I think?” Hillary asked.

“Well, if you think they are pig trotters or pig feet, then yes.” Kathleen answered.

Hillary wrinkled her nose, saying, “I’ll pass.”

Marian’s expression was filled with incredulity, “Haven’t you ever tried pickled pig’s feet?”

“Why would I have tried those?” Hillary retorted.

Just then the waiter returned, Kathleen took a quick survey, and set about ordering their food. The waiter stared at Tiziana’s cleavage the entire time he madly scribbled on a piece of paper. What arrived at the table twenty minutes later more or less resembled what was ordered: foie gras, soupe a l’oignon for each, two grilled pig trotters and duck confit. Once that disappeared, more Riesling, fresh oysters and Salade Ni├žoise were delivered. Without realizing it, three hours, hundreds of customers and most of the menu had come and gone. 
Don't forget to pick up a copy of this new release!

Purchase Links:   

Author Bio

IMG_1014Celia Kennedy was born in Wurzburg, Germany on a military base. Her parent’s penchant for traveling has stuck with her, she’s lived in and traveled through several countries.  The imagined world has always fascinated Celia. She has studied Art History, Interior Design, Landscape Architecture, and Architecture. Her thirteen year career at UW in Seattle ended in 1996. Not wanting to be homeless, she left the academic world and worked as a Landscape Architect, married the love of her life, became a mom, has been PTA President, Girl Scout leader and Boy Scout leader.  The unimaginable wealth in her life is the most fascinating thing to her. Her love of travel, the designed and natural world, friendship, self-discovery, wine, chocolate, AND love are the foundation of her books.  Celia published her first book, Charlotte’s Restrained, The Accidental Stalker in December 2012, Venus Rising in August of 2013, Sugar It’s Cold Outside, Cupid on the Loose Anthology, April’s Fool, Fool’s Rush In Anthology, 2015 AND Kathleen’s Undressed, The Accidental Enigma on February 23, 2015. Three other works are in progress.  

Author Links:  
Amazon Author Central: Pinterest:


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