Book Review of Only by Blood

Author: Renate Krakauer

only_by_blood_final_cover_web

Only by Blood is not just another Holocaust survival story. The author has crafted a clever mystery. She writes parallel stories about the two main characters, setting up for their inevitable meeting. The reader can glean that the two protagonists are related—the truth playing hide-and-seek between the lines. Only towards the end does the author reveal the specifics of this relationship.

Marnia, the modern-day doctor living in Poland, is bent on learning about her roots because of her mother’s dying wish urging her to “find them…make it right.” Her mother’s plea, uttered with her dying breath cannot be ignored. Her own curiosity regarding the secrecy that shrouds her childhood, leads her to embark on a journey of discovery that will take her from Poland to Canada.

Roza is a young mother who endures and survives the Nazi regime in Poland during World War II. Her journey to save her infant daughter is one that no mother should have to make. Forced into hiding during the war, Roza encounters and overcomes seemingly insurmountable trials and tribulations. Miraculously she survives, as does her daughter, Hanka. Together with her husband, the three migrate to Toronto, Canada.

As layer upon layer of both women’s stories are peeled back, it becomes clear that they are somehow connected, and that the relationship dates back to the war years. But the connection seems elusive, at least for this reader, and the exposition when it comes is satisfying. Of course, when I finished reading the book, I wanted to go back and find the bread crumbs that the author had left throughout the book.

The novel is beautifully written. One can’t help but feel sad for the torturous experiences of the Holocaust survivors. The appalling cruelty that one human being can inflict upon another while under the influence of corrupt power is beyond comprehension. One would think that that we would have learned from history to be more compassionate and to never subject another person to those types of brutal behaviour. But the sad reality is that although the world has changed since the Holocaust, war is still a way of life in many regions and people continue to perpetrate hateful acts.

Accountant With A Novel Twist

tax-468440_1280

Turn-cloak Accountant

How often do you come across an accountant who is also a writer? Apparently we are not quite as rare as I thought, but also not as prolific as say, lawyers wearing the writer’s hat.

So you may have guessed by now that I am an accountant. Yes, a bespectacled and boring CPA CGA with an MBA. And let me just say it before you do, “I am a bean counter.” But now I’m also a writer, a novelist, to be more precise.

How Can I Help?

Here’s the thing, many writers, like most artists, can’t find a single left-sided brain cell to perform tasks that are remotely accounting or business related.  I know that many writers would find my knowledge useful, so I’ve decided to share some of that in this post and in future ones.

This is my first post on accounting and writing. I’d like to start by sharing some tips on getting organized as an author and entrepreneur.

Some Common Q&A

Here are some of the most common questions I get from self-employed individuals and small business owners.

QUESTION: Do I have to set up a separate bank account for my business activities?

ANSWER: When you’re just starting out as a writer, you don’t need to incorporate (that’s a separate topic that I will delve into another time) or even register your writing as a business. Consider yourself as a self-employed professional, and therefore you don’t need to set up a separate bank. You do, however, need to track your author income and expenses.

QUESTION: How then do I keep my author income and expenses separate from my employment income and personal expenses?

ANSWER: Keep a record of your author income and expenses. If you know how to use Excel, set up a spreadsheet. It can be a simple three-column worksheet consisting of these three titles: DESCRIPTION, REVENUES, and EXPENSES. List in the respective columns, your revenues as you receive them and your expenses as you incur them. Obviously you can do the same thing with a notepad if Excel is not your forte. Tally up the REVENUES and EXPENSES columns at the end of each year and include them in your tax returns. You may need to hire a tax accountant.

QUESTION: How do I know which expenditure is a qualified expense for tax purposes?

ANSWER: Generally, any expense you incur to learn your writing craft (e.g. courses, conferences), to write (e.g. software), and then to promote it (e.g. book launch costs), may be considered a qualified expense. If in doubt, add the item into your record anyway, and then when you have to file your tax return, check with your accountant or verify with your taxation agency. This guideline is applicable for Canadians and likely for residents in other countries too, but always consults with a professional tax expert when in doubt.

QUESTION: How do I organize my receipts?

ANSWER: Here’s something that I do that takes a minute to keep organized. At the end of every year, I start a folder for the following year for all my receipts. You can subdivide the folder if you wish or set up two or even three folders instead of one—one for your regular employment related documents, one for writing revenues, and one for writing expenses. How many you set up is a matter of preference and also depends on how many receipts you expect to accumulate. As you receive a receipt, drop it into your folder. Then at tax filing season, take your folder(s) and the aforementioned log of your revenues and expenses to your accountant. You will save a lot of money in book-keeping fees!

Next time I’ll discuss how to create a budget and why you need one. In the meantime, check out how I’ve used my accounting background to create this really useful Excel workbook for tracking your novel’s characters and events. I use it all the time while I’m writing my novel. You won’t believe how it’s kept me sane whenever I’ve tried to remember an event I wrote about several months ago, or how old my characters are supposed to be in the context of a scene. I’ve built in automated formulas to calculate time lapses between events and each character’s age. Try it…it’s free.

So what pressing question do you have about your writing business?

DISCLAIMER: This post is meant to provide general tips to assist individuals in understanding and organizing their business records and is not to be considered as paid professional advice.

 

Picture credit: pixabay

Why I Love Mondays

Happy Monday!

“Now that it’s all over, what did you really do yesterday that’s worth mentioning?” Coleman Cox

345_Why I Love Mondays

The above quote popped up in one of my emails as I started to write this blog. How appropriate and timely for this post about a day that most of us dread. Do you love Mondays? I do. I’m betting that you’re looking at me funny and thinking, “Is she out of her mind?”

Trade in a Corporate Work Day

No, my grey matter is still intact where it belongs, but I did drop something…something out of my weekly routine, that is. More than a year ago, I traded in a corporate work day for a writing day. Best decision ever! Now I look forward to my Mondays when my only obligation is to myself. My calendar is cleared so that all I have to do is write and do all things related to advancing my writing career. When I wake up on Tuesday mornings to write in my gratitude journal, I gratefully state what I accomplished on my date with my creative side. It leaves me wishing for more…but all in good time.

A Fair Swap?

Do you get how liberating and wonderful it feels to shut out the corporate world for twenty-four blissful hours every week? To anticipate only four workdays instead of five? To be able to set my own agenda for what I want to achieve without having my time hijacked by another employee or another crisis? And to find a happy balance between my left brain and my right brain?

Monday Fantasies

On Mondays I create fantasy worlds where I play god, breathing life into my characters or killing them at will. I’ve almost completed my second novel now. No, it’s not a sequel to “Picture Bride” as many of my readers have asked for. Rather it’s a story (working title, “Wait for Me“) about a young woman’s journey to immigrate to Canada after her husband takes a “fake” wife to expedite the process.

Following the publication of “Picture Bride” in November 2014, I started writing its sequel. About a quarter of the way in, I just couldn’t connect with my characters the way I did when I wrote the first book. That’s when I decided to park it for a future date. Better to keep my readers waiting than to turn out work I have a hard time breathing life into at this time.

A Ship-Load of Editing Awaits

Now “Wait for Me” is going through the first round of editing…and it’s a ship-load of work, but I’m loving it. Although I knew that writing a novel wasn’t easy, I didn’t expect it to consume so much of my life. You really have to love this journey to be able to keep up the rigorous schedule you need to maintain to finish writing a book. Now at the editing stage, it’s a major re-write where I just about scrutinize every word and every event. If it weren’t for the novel-tracking workbook that I’ve developed, I don’t know how I’d be able to keep tabs on all my characters and events. If you’d like to try out my Excel workbook with automated time lapse calculations, I’ll be happy to share it with you for free, of course.

So is There a Happy Monday in Your Near Future?

Would you give up a part of your income in exchange for an extra day or two to write or do something you love?

 

Picture by Jeremy Hsiung

Why Do You Want to Write?

What Motivates You to Write?

Not everyone who writes is a writer. Something urges you to pour your heart and soul into a notebook or your computer. You’re not thinking about publishing your pieces at this point. Perhaps it’s the cathartic feeling you get after you unburden your soul. The paper doesn’t talk back; the computer doesn’t judge you.

Write often enough, and the itch to publish will get to you. You see your words on a blog. Your writing is out on the Internet for anyone who wants to read it. It’s a heady feeling.

If you’re already writing or thinking of starting, ask yourself why you want to do it. Better still, just write and then discover your reasons as you go along. It’s a wonderful journey.

Why You Should Do Something That Makes You Uncomfortable

Beyond Your Comfort Zone

Beyond Your Comfort Zone

Why You Should Do Something That Makes You Uncomfortable

Why should you make yourself uncomfortable? Isn’t that counter-intuitive?

My answer: If you never step out of your comfort zone, you become complacent. Complacency kills creativity and the desire to accomplish.

Learning to swim: an exercise in futility

A few years ago I decided to learn how to swim. So I bought a bathing suit (with a skirt for modesty), a swimming cap (did I mention that it was made of cloth?), and a pair of goggles (yes, it was mostly waterproof). For the next few months, I thrashed, heaved, panted, and gasped in the pool, never venturing beyond the red line marking the steep drop-off to the deep side.

A kindly gym member took pity on me and gave me some lessons. I remained stubbornly uncoordinated and dreaded my once-a-week foray into the pool. After a few months I gave up and went back to all the activities that I knew I could do. I even took up outdoor cycling and became quite good at it. It wasn’t a huge leap since I was already teaching cycle fit indoors.

Learning to swim: the gauntlet is thrown

Last year a seventy-three-year old gym buddy began boasting to me about how many laps he was able to swim after just a few months in the puddle. He kept taunting me to join him. If he could do it, then why couldn’t I? I’m younger than him and in pretty good shape.

So I bought a rubber cap, wore my old bathing suit and goggles, and then jumped into the water with dread. My previous mentor was nowhere to be found. I thrashed, heaved, panted, and gasped again.

Someone asked me at the pool, “How many times do you swim every week?”

“Once a week.”

He laughed. “That’s like me going to the golf course once a year and hoping I can improve my swing.”

Okay, I’ll try for twice a week. Alas, this was still not the turning point.

One day I bumped into my friend, a more-than-competent swimmer whose schedule never coincided with mine in the pool until that day. She took one look at me and said, “Lose that bathing suit. It’s like the lady who wore flip flops to your spinning class.”

So I skulked into a shop she recommended and picked up two new “swimming-appropriate” bathing suits. When the sales lady asked which league I belonged to, I gave her a vague response, but I proudly wore one of my new outfits when I knew my friend would be in the pool.

Success

Without going into the details of my near-drowning and panic attacks, I can report that in less than a year after my second start, I can now swim at least twenty laps (that’s a kilometer) in about thirty minutes. Maybe that’s not much for some of you. For me, this caps a year of taking on uncomfortable projects.

You see, last year I also got a publisher to publish my debut novel—a feat that I didn’t believe I could accomplish until I challenged myself to take that leap.

You just never know what you can accomplish or create when you step out of your comfort zone:

Seth Godin said in one of his blogs that you should make it a habit to get out of your comfort zone. I learned to swim when I dreaded going into the pool. Today I feel exhilarated every time I jump in. I banged on my computer coaxing out one word after another. Now I have a published novel, Picture Bride, to show for it.

Do you have a story about how stepping out of your comfort zone made you feel good in the end? Please share it in the comments.

Publish Your Short Story

workstation-336369_640 (1)Do you want to publish a story on the web? Wondering if you’ve got what it takes to tell a story?

My goal is to assist people who are dabbling with words for the first time. Perhaps I can plant a seed in your head, and then help you find your voice for at least, one short story. After that you can decide whether you want to continue to write or not. Experience tells me that once you see your story posted on-line, you’ll get hooked. Most of the writers on my site have never written seriously before I invited them to try.

So how do you get started? Pick a writing prompt (click here) on my site to fire up your imagination. Write a story between 300 – 500 words long. Embed the selected prompt anywhere in your narrative. You may change the tense, but you cannot change anything else in the sentence. When you’re ready, copy and paste the entire text into the message part of the “Contact Me” page, and send it to me. I will edit your work and then return it to you. If you accept my changes, then I will post your story on my site, no strings attached. It may take a few weeks to make it to my blog. I’ll email you when it’s posted.

Why do I do this? Because until recently I was a new writer myself. Because it’s hugely gratifying when I can bring a complete novice along the writing journey and then see them grow as a writer. I want to encourage you to go even further. Stoke the fire in your author belly by downloading my resource-packed free e-book. As a bonus you’ll also get an Excel template to track the timelines of your characters and events for when you’re ready to write a novel.

So what are you waiting for? Start writing now. Claim your free e-book and Excel workbook from the sidebar.

Lessons I Learned from Jeff Walker’s Book, Launch

Launch: An Internet Millionaire's Secret Formula to Sell Almost Anything Online, Build a Business You Love, and Live the Life of Your DreamsLaunch: An Internet Millionaire’s Secret Formula to Sell Almost Anything Online, Build a Business You Love, and Live the Life of Your Dreams by Jeff Walker

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Hype or Real?

If you’re hoping to become an instant millionaire, you’re in for a rude awakening. You’re not going to become rich just by reading this book.

Why I Read Launch

As an accountant and a business process management professional in the corporate world, I’ve never had the urge to dabble in marketing. There are others whose job it is to sell the company’s products and services. And I’ve never felt like I needed to market myself; people associate with me or become my friends for who I am.

Then I became a writer. My novel, Picture Bride is scheduled to be released by TSAR Publications on October 15, 2014. Suddenly, I find myself in the position of a marketer. True, I have the option to let the publisher deal with the book promotion and only do what they ask me to do. But I’ve never been a good backseat driver. I realized that if I want my years of hard work to be recognized, I have to promote my book. So I started to read books on marketing.

The Proof is in the Pudding

Okay, the book title tantalized and teased…so I bought Launch a few days before its release. Jeff Walker had already turned on his Internet marketing machinery long before the book was on the shelf. It started to drive sales using the methods he teaches. The fact that it climbed to the #1 spot in The NY Times Bestselling List within the first couple of weeks did not surprise me.

What did I learn?

For starters, there’s no shortcut to success. You have to work smart and work hard to succeed. Jeff Walker shows you how to promote your product, but you still have to get down in the trenches. And speaking of product, you need one to sell one—he’ll even give you ideas for that. I have to admit that I found it incredible what some people sell…and the same goes for what some people buy.

The book entertains while you learn—success stories that keep you turning the pages. Jeff Walker’s methods are credible and doable if you are serious about starting an Internet business. After reading the book and watching him speak a few times on video, I believe him. He’s not the sleazy salesman or marketer who turns you off with his pitch.

Conclusion

Does the book give you the license to print money? NO. Go do the work and learn some marketing tricks along the way to promote your product or service. There’s no reason why you can’t have fun doing it. Read Launch, and get some actionable ideas.

Why I Should Own My Identity

Blank page


Reflections on a Sunny June Day

As I sit in my kitchen on this beautiful afternoon in June, I let the sights and sounds outside take over my senses.

Whrrrm…whrrrm…whine…whine…screech! You got it; I’m not painting an idyllic scene. You see, the developer behind my backyard has started serious construction work. The green space has been razed down and the oversize digger is scooping up everything that grows there.

Earlier when I let my son’s dog, Lennon, out to do his thing, I listened for the birds. Their chirps were still audible despite the heavy equipment’s whirring. In fact, as I listen to them now, they sound like they’re competing with the whrrrm whrrrm…our spunky feathered friends doth protest in sympathy with their neighbours.

What’s that about an ebook?

No, this is not a griping session about the big bad developers. The truth is I barely pay attention to the noise now. They’ve turned into sounds of summer as I write my e-book, How to Stir the Writing Fire in Your Belly, which I plan to give away to all my email subscribers for free. I’ve almost completed the first draft.

Yippee…I said it out aloud. That must mean I’m committed to finishing the book.

Not so fast…

The trouble is that the first draft is really bad. I mean it. I will have to work hard to polish it until it shines. At this point, my brain doesn’t seem to want to cooperate. I’m experiencing a mental cramp that refuses to unlock and let me see how to make my book worth reading. So I’ve decided to give myself a break from over-thinking it.

My right brain gave me permission to read writing-marketing-writing blog after blog until the gray matter in my head has turned into floating black clouds of meaningless alphabets. I realize that my protracted research is actually retarding my progress. I don’t draw any comfort from this knowledge. OMG…where is the panic button?

I am a Writer

I bought Jeff Goins’s message about owning my writing identity a long time ago. Read his blog here. Just as when I’m at my day job, I own that identity too.

Yet sometimes doubts still plague me when I find myself in a slump…this is not where I want to be right now. It’s not possible to produce quality work if I only dip one foot in the water in either places.

I need to write what I know. That’s simple, isn’t it? I know myself well and I’m the only one who knows how I went through my journey to becoming a novelist.

Hmm…maybe I should change the book’s title to How I Stirred the Writing Fire in My Belly…and You Can Too. What do you think?

Picture downloaded from www.Morguefile.com

30-Day Book Marketing Challenge: What an Experience

A Free Course, Reblog-hop-150x150ally

Is anything really free these days? The only thing I can think of is the air that we breathe. But wait, let me tell you about D’vorah Lansky’s 30-Day Book Marketing Challenge. Not only was it free, it DELIVERED…day after day during the thirty days. And the best part of it all…you don’t need to spend a cent if you don’t want to and still get the full benefit of the course. Did I get your attention yet?

Converting a Skeptic

I started out as a skeptic. How much can I really learn from a free course? You heard the saying before: “You get what you pay for.” Well, not this time. D’vorah packed so much content into the 30-Day Challenge that I could barely keep up. I stayed up late at night listening to the webinars and constantly reading the great variety of materials provided. The posts teased and pushed my brain to its limit. How do I get the best out of all these marketing tips? So many to choose from, and I still have a day job to do.

My Ah-ha Moment

On Day 18 of the Challenge, I listened to Kristen Eckstein speak about serializing books on Kindle. I knew right there and then that I’d found a strategy that would suit me perfectly. My fiction, Picture Bride, will be published by a traditional publisher during fall 2014. I don’t have a book out yet, but I have many short stories that I’m still editing. Why not release some of these stories as a series on Kindle? And for my free giveaway for anyone signing up on my website, I started to write an ebook called How to Stir the Writing Fire in Your Belly.

I was on fire. I signed up for Kristen’s Kindle in 30 Challenge for the discounted rate of $97. As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, you don’t have to pay for anything if you don’t want to. I’ve just started this course and hoping to self-publish my first ebook soon.

About My Novel

Picture Bride is about a young Hakka Chinese girl from India who marries a cold and aloof stranger in Canada. Bound by tradition and culture, she stays in the marriage despite his uncaring ways and even after she discovers his secret. Then when she is forced to flee, she is spurned by her father who cares only about his honor and reputation.

If you enjoyed this post please share the love and tell someone.

 

Make Minor Adjustments in Your Life to Create a Major Impact

Waterfall

 

Start with a Vacation

Every time I return home from a vacation, I have an urge to make some adjustments—something small to change things up in my life. The down-time away from home allows me to think about what’s happening to me and around me.

A Change in My Routine

In 2010, my mother checked into the hospital for a surgery. What was supposed to be a one-week stay turned into a five-month nightmare. While I had been driving to work for many years, commuting 35 kilometres each way every day, I found myself driving even more. I detoured to the hospital almost daily and also drove there on the weekends. Then when I took my first trip to China around the time my mother finally went home, I spent two weeks almost worry-free. After lots of naval-gazing, I decided that when I returned home, I would stop driving to work. I began to ride the train instead, and I used the commute time to read, write or chat. I’ll bet these rides now provide more therapeutic relief than any psycho-analytic couch.

A Significant Step

During the past few years, I had been toying with the idea of winding down from the corporate world to spend more time doing what I love. After much soul searching and number crunching, and after another vacation late last year, I decided to drop one day from my full-time job in March. I’m now writing another book…make that two. I started writing the sequel to Picture Bride a few months ago, and I’m one quarter of the way into an e-book that I will give away on my website. I might even write a series of Kindle books…maybe I need another vacation to give me the impetus to take that on.

A Word of Advice if I May

Use your vacation time to relax and let your mind take you in any and every direction. When you let yourself go, you just never know where you’ll end up. I highly recommend bringing home one little tweak to your routine to spice things up a bit. You don’t need to shift gears as much as I did in my examples above. I’ve tried to adopt a minor change each time I came home from a holiday. Some lasted and some got lost in the sea of tasks that greeted me as soon as I stepped inside the office. Just add or subtract something that makes you feel good.

And Finally…

The key is to aim for those little adjustments; they might accumulate into a big and rewarding lifestyle shift.

Do You Question Your Mortality?

Do you question your mortality when someone close to you or known to you dies prematurely or falls seriously ill? At such times, the fragile nature of the balance between life and death stares you in the face, and I think it’s natural to feel vulnerable.

Three years ago, a childhood pal and school buddy lost her battle with cancer. My heart went out to the family for their premature loss of a mother, sister and aunt. The dialogues swirling in my head tested me. “How can this happen to someone who was full of life?” Then some introspection, “If this could happen to her, it could happen to me and to my loved ones too.” See how easily someone might spiral down into depression when they dwell on such dark thoughts?

How does one escape from these realities? Another jolt hit close to home almost two years ago. A good friend’s husband suffered his second stroke and is still completely paralyzed today. The ache in my heart cannot compare to the pain she endures daily nor the utter helplessness that her husband must feel every second of every hour in every day during these last two years.

My own mother was snatched back from the Grim Reaper in 2010 when she was in her early seventies. By any doctor’s yardstick, she should have died, but she survived multiple surgeries, infections, and debilitating blood clots that shriveled her toes. All happened within a few months. I draw my inspiration for hope from my mother.

But yet another blow struck. Recently a close friend’s husband suffered a major heart attack. He survived—that is the good news. Now I try to make some sense of this event—a freakish one that hit a perfectly healthy person in his prime—a one-percent chance, according to his cardiologist. Even as I tried to reach out to lend my support to my friend, I grasped at straw to bring some sanity to my own world.

A sense of urgency grips me. I want to live life to its fullest. I want my first novel, now in the publication process, to see the light of day. I want to write more books. I want…I want…I want to cram as much as I can into this bucket filled with my yearnings.

Write…live…love.

Stir the Writing Fire in Your Belly

Once upon a time, if you asked me if I believe I could write a novel, I would have said, “No.” That changed when I started “Picture Bride”, a book I have now completed after working on it for two years. Determination was the single most important factor for my finishing this project. But how do you get this fire in your belly?

For many years, I had this vague notion in my head that I would write a novel. It was just a seed, blown about and unable to take root as life kept happening and other priorities would uproot this little sapling. When I finally decided that I had a book in me, the seed grew and took hold this time. If you’re contemplating whether you should start writing a book, and you need assistance in motivating yourself like I did, here are some of the things you can do.

  1. Take a writing course. The positive feedbacks can leave you glowing with pleasure and wanting more. I took an online program and thoroughly enjoyed working with my coaches.
  2. Turn the internet into your friend. The resources online are limitless. When my writing bug first nibbled, I couldn’t find anything helpful in the bookstores and the libraries—the internet was only just emerging. The best I could lay my hands on was a book that put me to sleep each time I attempted to read it. Needless to say, I never finished it. 
  3. Read about the writing craft, advice from bloggers, books…anything that helps you improve your art and teaches you about the publishing world. 
  4. Join writing forums, the ones that allow you to post your stories and poems for other members to critique in a constructive environment. I found writing.com to be extremely helpful in fuelling my creativity during the early part of my novel.
  5. Join social media. I was hopelessly lost on Twitter during my newbie attempt and turned away for a long time. When I came back, I was determined to figure out what the buzz was all about. What I discovered was a whole new universe where writers and others are more than happy to share all kinds of useful information. Follow the links on some of the tweets to find out what other writers, social media gurus, and sometimes, unsavoury characters—you can skip these, are doing.
  6. Attend a writers’ conference. When I attended my first one, I received the biggest boost to my writing side…I can’t begin to quantify the benefits.
  7. Create a writing routine and stick with it. Make your goals achievable so you don’t come down hard on yourself with the guilt trips. My target was not word count…that was too difficult given that some days my left brain was more active than the right.
  8. Write short stories and poems to take breaks from your book. It’s like flexing the smaller creative muscles to feed the bigger ones.
  9. Find out if there’s a writer in your community or amongst your contacts. Befriend him or her. Somewhere along my writing journey, I was introduced to one. She not only fanned the sparks that sometimes threatened to fizzle, but we’ve become good friends too.
  10. Buy a tablet or an ebook reader. It’s so easy to download books and they cost a fraction of the printed ones. Sometimes they cost nothing! And you’re supporting the writing community in the process.

So write on.

Euphoric Over Completing My Novel

Image courtesy of sattva / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Two years ago, right before NaNoWriMo, I started to write my first novel, Picture Bride. I wasn’t delusional about finishing it in a month, not even 10,000 words would be possible for me. I have now received the final edited manuscript back from my editor. The home stretch no longer yawns like a never-ending winding road. I can sprint to the finish line now. Oh, what a feeling!

Many years ago, I read a book—I don’t remember its name—that suggested making a bucket list. We all have one of those in our heads, right? But the power of the list is in writing it down. That’s when it becomes real, like a contract you make with yourself. Well, you guessed it. I will be placing a check mark next to one of those items with the greatest satisfaction and sense of accomplishment in the not-too-distant future. This has to be one of my most satisfying achievements, right up there with becoming a Certified General Accountant and finishing my Master of Business Administration degree.

So what’s next? I’m not celebrating—not yet. The first finish line only applies to the writing part. As any writer knows, there’s another long mile or two ahead. Throughout these past couple of years, I have kept myself informed about the publishing world. So now I’m at a crossroad. Should I pitch my book in the traditional model or should I publish as an independent author? A part of me says I should find an agent, and yes, I have heard all kinds of horror stories about how daunting this process is, and that’s only the beginning. It doesn’t scare me. But the entrepreneurial part of me says to go all out and become Author, Publisher and Entrepreneur (APE) as suggested by many, not the least of which is +Guy Kawasaki. Okay, granted he wrote many books before he went APE and he’s got more followers than I can count…and I’m an accountant.

No matter which path I choose, no one can take away this euphoric and intoxicating feeling that I can do anything I set my mind to. The completion of this novel is testament to that tenacity and resolve. Yippee!