5-18 Powell's City of Books, World's Largest Indie Bookstore by Judith Ashley and Sarah Raplee

Saturday, January 20, 2018

I love and dread milestones by Paty Jager

Milestone: A significant point in development

I'm a goal oriented person. I set goals and claw my way to making them. Sometimes it isn't pretty, and sometimes I fall short. But when I meet a goal and the rewards I get from making that goal is recognition or acceptance, I thrive.

But there are times when I meet a goal and I'm not satisfied. I've had several of those moments over the years and that's when I have to sit back and ask myself, what did that goal accomplish? And usually it was either my own personal reason for making the goal or it had little to no impact on what I really wanted to accomplish.

But milestones...I love! Because they aren't something you set your mind to thinking about, they are events in your life that change the way you think about yourself.

I've had events in my lifetime that made me a victim. But the day in my twenties that I found the strength and realization how not to be a victim, was a milestone for me.

Then the day came that I got out from behind books and decided I wanted to make a difference in people's lives through words. I took writing classes and found the nerve to take a story to a newspaper editor and blatantly tell him it was good enough to print, and he didn't' need to send out a reporter for the interview I'd already done. He read the story and said it was good and he'd only send out a photographer.  That was a milestone that built my confidence in my writing.

But writing for the newspaper wasn't enough and I found writer's groups and honed my craft, writing books that had strong themes of justice. Growing as a writer was good, but I was offered a job with the local extension service. I agreed under the condition I didn't have to speak in front of anyone. Six months later, I was told I was in charge of the new leaders and would teach the volunteer training. A year later, I had to give awards to the youth who had helped me throughout the year. This was in front the families and 4-Hers of Deschutes County. All I remember about the night was trying to keep my knees from collapsing, my eyes focusing, and not forget anyone's name. That was a HUGE milestone for me. I can now get up in front of a group and give a presentation with only a tiny flutter in my stomach. While I cursed my two co-workers that night for making me get up in front of all those people, now, I think of them with gratitude every time I step in front of a group to speak.

Eventually, the writing workshops and conferences paid off, I had a small press interested in my book. My first major writing milestone, publishing a book! I learned a lot from the editor who helped me shape the book into something that would make the publishing company proud. And while working with the editor, I was offered a job as an editor for the publishing house. Two milestones in one! Not only was I getting a book published, but they felt I excelled enough in craft and grammar to help others. I was no longer just a student, I was a teacher as well.

I enjoyed editing and helping other great writers see their books published, but I was becoming rebellious as more and more author friends told me to self-publish. They showed me the numbers and the work it would entail and I took the dive. Five years and 10 books published with the small press, I jumped into the Indie waters and never looked back. That was a major milestone for me. I not only learned even more about publishing a book and uploading it to vendors, I found I made more money and could finally prove to my husband, this was no longer a hobby, but a career.

And now, as I write the book that will give me 33 published books, I don't see it as a milestone but merely a stepping stone. What I do think of as a milestone, is using this book and this series to springboard into a new series that I hope will reach a new milestone of getting my mystery's titles mentioned alongside the likes of CJ Box, William Kent Krueger, Tony Hillerman, Dana Stabenow. That would be a milestone!

What are some of the milestones you've accomplished? 

Paty Jager is an award-winning author of 32 novels, 6 novellas, and numerous anthologies of murder mystery, western romance, and action adventure. All her work has Western or Native American elements in them along with hints of humor and engaging characters. This is what Mysteries Etc says about her Shandra Higheagle mystery series: “Mystery, romance, small town, and Native American heritage combine to make a compelling read.”

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Annie said...

Interesting to read about what got you to be the inspiration and prolific writer you are today! Thanks for sharing.

Paty Jager said...

Thanks for stopping by, Annie! It is our life that builds who we are.

Judith Ashley said...

Writing related milestones in my life are taking the indie publishing plunge with my Sacred Women's Circle series. Another one is actually finishing the original series of 7 full length novels! Having someone I didn't know excited about my books was thrilling but technically not a milestone---or maybe it is. To word "goal" is a stressful word for me so this year I'm adding marketing my books to my writing and maybe I'll reach another milestone along the way in terms of income or books published. I've a few in the works that would take me over the 10 book mark which would certainly be a milestone for someone who, when growing up and working and raising a family and working and, well you get the picture, never had any inkling that she'd even write 1 book!

I'm glad you are prolific, Paty, because I love your stories.

Maggie Lynch said...

I love the exchange of words from "milestone" to a "stepping stone." I think for those who have problems with goals and a fear of not making them, that seeing things as "stepping stones" is a more productive way to look at it. Starting a book is a stepping stone to finishing it. Getting through the first act is a stepping stone to the second act. Finishing a book is a stepping stone to a series, etc.

Paty, you are a great example to a lot of people for just "doing it." You don't have excuses, no matter what is happening in life. It seems that when you run into a boulder in your path, you figure away around it and then find your back to the path. I believe that--along with being passionate about your stories--is the big secret to you being prolific. Often when I look at your consistent production I say to myself: "Maggie, be more like Paty. Just do it."

Since I started writing full time, I have had lots of goals and stepping stones. I like setting goals because it gives me touchstones along the way that remind me I'm on my path. I don't know about milestones as I've never set any except a particular income goal. I originally gave myself five years to make that income goal, when I started self-publishing novels in 2011. I didn't make it in five years. There was a lot more to learn than I realized---in spite of having published nonfiction with major publishers and short stories with good paid magazines and anthologies, and publishing a novel with a small press. I thought I knew everything there was to know about publishing until I went indie. Then I realized there was an entirely different world behind the editors and agents and marketers and graphic designers--the business world.

I think I'm on track to make my income goal this year--finally (2 years past my five year marker). We will see how it plays out. It's early days yet and I have a lot to accomplish to make that happen. Then the next stepping stone will be making it happen consistently year after year.

Paty Jager said...

Judith, I view any growth as a milestone. And I would say you have hit a few! I'm so glad your Sacred Women's Circle Books are published and available for women to read and know they aren't alone. I'm glad you enjoy my books. They have been so much fun to write and I've learned so much from all my research.

Paty Jager said...

Maggie, I agree, stepping stone is a step toward your goal or milestone and so much more doable. And less daunting sounding. This year is our year. I can feel it! ;)

Sarah Raplee said...

"But milestones...I love! Because they aren't something you set your mind to thinking about, they are events in your life that change the way you think about yourself." This resonates with me, Paty. I admire the way you set goals and achieve them. I tend to set unreachable goals and not achieve them. I'm trying to find that happy medium this year.

You know I've been a fangirl from way back! I'm so glad you are a fast writer because you have written so many wonderful stories for me to read. I've negotiated an awkward truce with the fact that I am a slow writer. I'm working on getting faster. Every little bit helps!

Paty Jager said...

Sarah, I'm glad you got something out of my ramblings. everyone has their own pace of writing and being creative. I happen to have ideas, people, and stories come to me so fast I have to finish one so I can get on to the next one. I love all my imagination and focusing it on my writing.

You're getting there. Looking forward to your next book.

Barbara Rae Robinson said...

You're so right about milestones, Paty. I love your story. It's fascinating to see what other writers have done to get to where they are. My story is coming in this blog next week.

Paty Jager said...

Hi Barb, Thanks for stopping by and commenting. It is fun to learn about other writers and what makes them tick. Looking forward to your pot next week.

Diana McCollum said...

Paty, I enjoyed your blog post. I think the 1st milestone for me was joining RWA and being a finalist in one of the RWA contests. That was way back, many years ago, but it gave me a boost to keep writing. I do like to have goals. I don't always make them but it gives me something to shoot for and I like that. #amwriting #romance

Paty Jager said...

Hi Diana. I agree, joining RWA and winning contests was when I realized I could write books that people would read. Those contest finals were what kept me going even when I received rejections from agents and editors. Good luck with this years goals.