Manifesting My Dreams: The Magazine

A Halloween decoration from Michael’s that I have in my living room year-round. (Not an ad or affiliate link.)

Some of you know that I am big into manifestation – the idea that you can change things or create the life of your dreams by acting and thinking as though what you want has already happened. You have to work for it, of course–nothing is going to come to you if you just sit around and wait. This is the idea behind The Secret, the writings of Wayne Dyer and countless other life coaches and self help gurus. Your opinion may vary, but I really think there is something to it.

I’ve been practicing manifestation techniques for years–probably over a decade, I’m not sure. It started with a vision board, which I wasn’t too sure would work, but slowly, it did. One example: I had dreamed about Ireland one night (and drinking beer at a pub through chocolate straws with Jon Bon Jovi–don’t ask, I don’t know either) so I put photos of Dublin on my vision board; several months later I was invited to a spend a week there for my job (which is not international, so it was quite a shock). Then I started reading more and became more intentional in my thoughts. The first thing I was ever conscious of manifesting was my first Book of the Year award in early 2016. I visualized it until the cows came home and I was still shocked when I won.

All of this to give you background for my newest project. I’ve been listening to podcasts by life coach Tonya Leigh for about a year or so now. She’s all about changing your life (elevating it) by changing your mindset–in essence, manifestation. A few weeks ago I got the chance to do a week-long online workshop with her called Think Like an Editor. The whole week was geared around pretending you are the editor of the magazine of your life. Without giving away her secrets (take the workshop if she ever offers it again; it is SO worth it), she guides you through coming up with a title, cover photo and headlines for your magazine that are based on your dreams.

I liked what we did so much that I mocked up my cover on Canva. We had such a wonderfully strong female community for the week on Facebook that I decided to try Tonya’s School of Self-Image for a month (I’m waiting for money to come in that will allow me to sign up for a year). While I was working on some other things last night, I got the idea to actually make the magazine. (Could also have been influenced by recently watching the Vogue documentary, The September Issue) By this I mean write the articles as though they’ve already happened, use stock photos, even put in ads for things I intend to buy someday. I may even break it into sections. Who knows. And it will grow as I do.

I’ll post the whole thing online somewhere when I’m done with it and tell you a little about what each thing means, etc. Right now it is a fun side project for when my job and two end-of-year book deadlines get to be too much. Plus it keeps me focused on my dreams, rather than my stress.

Here’s the story behind the cover: My headline was actually supposed to be “sexy confidence” based on the directions of the workshop, but I changed it. The reason That Girl is the headline is its the title of a song by a band I LOVED in my early 20s that encapsulates how I want to feel. And the image shows the wealth, success and elegance that goes with it. (That image is also on my current vision board. I’m pretending it is downtown Chicago, even though it is clearly NYC.)



Of Vision Boards and Writing Goals

It’s been years since I’ve had a vision board. I used to use them regularly, and then I took the one I had down because it didn’t go with my decor. I had actually forgotten about them until two things happened: 1) I was cleaning out my basement and found my last one, and 2) I saw this Lily Singh video on how and why to make one.

When I looked at my old one, I realized how many things on it had come true: travel, awards, opportunities, etc. (And this was from before I started taking my writing seriously.) I also realized that right now is the perfect time to begin a new one.  I mean, we can use all the hope and positivity we can get during quarantine, right?

Plus, now that I am working from home (until at least August 15 – I hope they make it permanent), I have an office and a place to put it where I will it every day and it won’t mess up the rest of my interior design style.

So here’s a little peek at what I think I’m going to include:

Pulitzer Prize – I am determined to win one for my biography of Virginia and Francis Minor. No one really knows what they look for in the winners and finalists, but I’ve read several of both and can see some common characteristics. I’m still hoping to get a traditional contact for it, but if I don’t, how cool would it be to become the first-ever self published author to win a Pulitzer?

#1 New York Times Bestseller List – Of course I want to hit this. I’m going to Photoshop an actual list with the title of the current historical fiction I’m working on in the top fiction spot and my biography in the top non-fiction spot.

Poster for film/TV version of two of my books – I don’t have time to do this today, but I’m going to Photoshop this. Given that one of my books was already optioned and another is doing well in a contest to get this very kind of deal, this might actually happen.

Winning the 2020 Launchpad Manuscript Contest As mentioned above, Daughter of Destiny is already in the Top 75 of this contest and I am manifesting a win for it, along with a major publishing deal and successfully produced movie or TV series.

$100,000 check – This amount is enough to pay off my debt and enable me to move (once COVID is over). I feel like it is enough without being greedy.


Book contract – Since I’m hoping to get a traditional contract, why not draw one up with the names of my dream agent and publisher? And fill in the advance amount I want?


Oxford – I really, really want to go back. This is the Old Parsonage Hotel, where I want to stay again. It is so nice and the food is fabulous. Plus, I want to research in the Bodleian Library.



Chicago – I want to move there (post-COVID). It’s been my dream for more than a decade now. Time to make it happen! (I had a photo for this one, but it wouldn’t align correctly, so out it went!)

Celebrities I really want to meet/work with: Lin Manual Miranda, Angelina Jolie and whoever else I think of. Angelina has been on my vision boards since my very first one. I really admire her humanitarian work and acting. And Lin Manuel is just a genius!

Beyond this, I’m not really sure. I’m considering a few broader things like healing for the earth and something to do with an end to COVID, but those aren’t really in my control, so I don’t know if they count. I may end up adding more over time as it comes to me.

What would you include on your vision board? Have you ever made one?

Living the Dream: What Does it Mean?

Double Rainbow, rainbow, alaska, landscape, sky, mountains, hills, green hills
By Eric Rolph at English Wikipedia (English Wikipedia)

The other day, I was at a friend’s house, and he asked me if being able to quit my day job was my endgame for writing. I answered in the affirmative; my sort of basic goal is indeed to be able to write for a living.

I also wrote recently about how sometimes for dreams to come true, we need to funnel them into the concrete solidity of goals, break them down into their composite parts, and learn how to build them into the success we want.

But when my friend Matt asked me that question, I realized that there’s a whole other question buried into it. What does success look like? How do we know we’ve achieved it? Will we know? What comes next?

I was listening in passing to one of the Nerdist podcasts (I’m not even sure which one), but I remember Chris Hardwick saying something to that effect. Goals are great, but they are also an odd moment in time when you achieve them. “There, that happened. Now what?” was the gist of what he was saying. So it got me thinking.

Sometimes our goals are so lofty that they take years or decades to reach, if we get there. Reaching them is at once a tremendous boost and a teetering precipice of “what next?”

You can’t define success as a moment in time.

That said, you can pinpoint a moment as when you first felt successful, but if nothing builds upon it, that same success you strove for can become stagnation and dissatisfaction.

Way back in the 90s, there was this early social website called Bolt. (Anybody?) On the personality section of the profile, there was this list of questions, one of which was, “What do you most want to have ten years from now?” It was followed by a dropdown list of answers. One of those was “a passport full of stamps,” and that’s the one I chose. Ten years later, I did indeed have that. I had that moment of success when I realized I had almost no room left in my passport, and it was followed by me asking myself what my next passport will look like. It’s up for renewal this year.

Right there, bottom left, is the first stamp that landed in this passport.
Right there, bottom left, is the first stamp that landed in this passport.

Sometimes when you accomplish a goal, like I did with this passport, the next goal can be much the same. More. For me, that’s it. I haven’t seen all of this world yet, and there are still countless places I want to visit and learn from.

It’s much the same with publishing. Getting published this year, getting that first book deal, all the firsts that come with it — those things are a big accomplishment for me. But they’re not the end of the road. I’ve had a couple people legitimately ask me if I plan to write more books after this one gets published. If getting published were something that was the end all for my writing goals, perhaps I wouldn’t. But because writing is part of my identity and what I plan to try and make into a long career, my road doesn’t stop there, and I’m not about to kick off my boots and salute the past.

So what will signify success to me?

I’m not someone who craves diamond sunbursts or marble halls. Much like Anne Shirley, I want to have a life that reflects who I am. I want to travel, even if it means living modestly when I am in this country. Someday I want to see my books on the NYT/USA Today bestseller lists. I’d like to earn enough from my writing to write full time. I want to pursue acting as a hobby or more. I want to go to conventions and create some fun costumes. If five years from now those things are happening, I’ll feel successful.

What will denote success in your life? How will you know you’ve gotten there? What have you achieved so far?

The Storm Approacheth

November (Photo credit: Cape Cod Cyclist)

For a moment, I considered allowing my cat to keep typing this blog post for me. She seemed quite determined, and considering the subject of today’s post, her dogged insistence on standing on my computer seemed a bit apropos.

Alas, your eyes have escaped the inundation of kkkkkalsslsaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa;;;;; (Mostly. Willow says hello.)

This weekend, I attended my writing group’s NaNo kick-off party. That’s right. We’re only a few days away from November. Before that comes Halloween, but if you’re a writer (or you know any writers), the Halloween fun may be subsumed a little in the pre-November panic.

For those of you who don’t know, NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month, also known as the month in which novelists replace their blood with caffeine and wear keyboards or pens attached to their digits for thirty days. The idea is to write a completed 50,000 word novel within 30 days.

Before I started participating in NaNo, I was sort of NaNo adjacent. There were several members of my Nashville writing group who participated every year, and because they weren’t particularly evangelistic about it, I only had the vaguest idea of what it entailed until I heard about it from other writers in 2011. I had a book to finish that year, so my first NaNo experience was rebel style.

The month of November may seem like merely another exercise in the self-flagellation writers are so good at, but I’m convinced it saved me from procrastination and false starts. In November 2011, I was halfway through a trilogy that I had started in the early years of college and never finished. By the end of NaNo, I had the second book completed and the third book half done.

While none of those books ended up going anywhere, they taught me something vital. When I went back and read over them, I noticed a marked fissure in style and voice precisely where I’d picked back up and plowed through the month of November in a bustling Panera with 10 or so other writers. The books weren’t consistent start to finish because I’d written them over half a decade. Even when I wasn’t actively writing fiction in a two year gap, I was blogging and reading and scribbling ideas. When I forced myself to finish something that first NaNo in 2011, it was a sobering feeling to look at what I’d written and realize the trilogy I’d spent years of my life working on was split down the middle. I’d grown too much to slap it together and call it good. I had to take it apart, or move on.

NaNo also taught me something else: I write best when I write fast. The next June for Camp NaNoWriMo, I finished a completely different book (in the question of “take apart” or “move on,” I chose the latter). That book got me my agent.

Before November, we still have Halloween (and a costumed Magetech episode this evening with the full crew!). But come November first, I’m diving into my sixth novel. For writers and other life forms, sometimes all we need is a month of intense focus. To see what words come out. To see what paintings take shape. To see what songs we can play by the end. To create a plan for a new business.

The entire pathos behind NaNo was born out of a desire to see what would happen. In a story that had sat on the back burner for years with hardly a simmer. In a life that had struggled to drive a goal to completion. In a community known for being made of solitaries.

NaNo was born over a decade ago, but each year it grows because we need that push, that oomph sometimes. I’ll be participating for my third year because I need to know what happens next. NaNo creates a forcefield, a bubble under which all that exists is the next thousand words. It’s a powerful thing, this mass of people writing alone and together at the same time. Will you join us next month?

New Year, new goals: a writing frenzy

We all know the standbys, lose weight, eat healthier, you know, stuff that seems easy but isn’t. My husband and I try very hard to watch what we eat and since he’s a personal trainer we work out all the damn time. So really, I don’t need to make these my resolutions or goals for the year because they’re always in the front of my mind.

And honestly, that’s not what you come to a blog run by Fantasy authors, right? You want to hear about fantastical things and all things wordy, right? Right.

So to focus on that, I have some rather lofty goals but I’ve already started to accomplish some of these and it’s not even February yet!

In the last few weeks those of us here at the Spellbound Scribes’ Blog, have formed a sort of writing alliance, which we have dubbed #teamawesome on Twitter. The point of #teamawesome is to write together, plot together and edit together. We pick increments of time to focus solely on the writing task at hand and get it done! Thanks to #teamawesome since January 1ST, at the time of this writing, I’ve written 68,384 words. That’s amazing and I know I would probably only have half of that without #teamawesome.

Because of this I was able to finish my NaNo book, which was my first goal of the year. And by the time this is published I’m hoping the novella I started once I finished my NaNo book will be finished as well, my second goal of the year. UPDATE: The novella is finished and with my editor and I’ve started my next novel.

I am hoping to finish two more novels by the end of the year. Specially the sequel to my NaNo book and a Dystopian novel. I’ve never attempted to write a Dystopian, but a couple of weeks ago I had a spark of inspiration and saw this new character in this sad and sordid place and she wanted to tell me her story and I want to tell it to everyone else.

I’m also hoping to finish at least one, if not two, more novellas and one short story for my pen name. These can be a little difficult but I’m hoping that being on the roll of writing 3-5 thousand words a day, I’ll manage the task.

If I can manage all of that, and still have time left over before the end of the year, I’d like to start the spin off series of my Elemental Series. I don’t know if I’m ready to tackle that yet, but maybe a couple hundred thousand words between the two series will give me the time needed to prepare for it.

Seems insane but here’s my list:

Novels planned: 3-4

Completed: 1

Novellas Planned: 3

Completed: 1

Short stories Planned: 1

Completed: 0

I’ve got about 11 months left to get this done. Challenge accepted!