Confessions of a Competitive Gal

Theodore Roosevelt was a smart guy. How do I know this? Because he’s the one who said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.”

Image courtesy of flickr

Yup. And I should know. I may not appear like someone who keeps score (or maybe I do, haha), but I’m about as competitive as a quiet, non-threatening Asian girl can be. 😉

As you can imagine, this trait does not bode well for someone who works in sales. Yes, I spend a lot of time writing books, but the other part of my job is selling them. And boy, is that part hard.

Ever since hubby and I published the book we wrote together, he’s been asking me every day how many copies we’ve sold. When I showed him the latest results, all he could say was, “Wow, it’s not easy to sell books.” Haha. Amen to that!

There are so many methods that authors use to sell their books. Some spend hundreds of dollars on ads every month. Others release a new book every 4-6 weeks!  You can imagine how competitive this industry is.

For many authors, we write because we dislike numbers, but selling books is all about the numbers. The number of words you can crank out in a day, how many sales you make during any given week, your author ranking in your particular genre. It’s so, so easy to get caught up in the numbers.

I found myself getting caught up in this trap recently. I heard of some bestselling authors writing one to two thousand words a day, and wondered why I couldn’t do the same? Assuming I could keep it up, I’d be able to crank out a book every other month—at a minimum. Sure, it would mean some late nights, but I’m a night owl already, so why not?

Well, after attempting this kind of lifestyle for a few weeks, I realized why not. 😛 I realized the very reason that I had started writing—for the pure joy of it!—had all but disappeared from my heart. I had become a writing machine—cold and robotic. I no longer looked forward to creating characters and storylines. I had lost my passion for words. And it was sad!

After reevaluating my priorities, I took a step back—way back!—and decided to stop. To stop writing for the sake of selling. To stop staying up so late. To stop comparing myself to other authors who are able to write more and sell more than me.

And do you know what happened? I found joy in writing again. 🙂

The thing is, we are all on our own journey in life. No two people are the same. That’s the beauty and wonder of God’s handiwork, that we are unique beings created with our own set of abilities and passions and strengths. There’s no need to compare ourselves to another because how can you compare two completely different things? We are each meant to do what we’re good at and what we are able to handle. It’s as simple as that. (Kind of.) 😉

So, here’s to doing your own thing, wherever your passions lie, and to doing them for the pure joy of it.

What do you do for the pure joy of it?

4 Keys to a Sustainable Lifestyle

I’m going into my fourth year as an author, and while it’s not a full-time job (I’m still employed as a chauffeur, referee, and chef by day, haha!) it requires a lot more of me than I expected. Or, it could be that I tend to go “all-in” when I sign up to do something. If you didn’t know, us perfectionists have a hard time slacking off. 😉 So it shouldn’t have come as a surprise that I got very sick a few months ago during the month of November. Somehow (I say this sarcastically because no one was at fault besides me) I found myself with 3 book releases in the span of 2 weeks. On top of that, I had some extra family stuff to attend to, and I wasn’t sleeping much. Then … come to find out just last week … I had forgotten to pay a very big and important bill that month. Ouch! Realizing I had dropped the ball like that and then having to tell hubby about it—you can bet I’m not doing that ever again.

Can we say, lesson learned? Not only did I learn I have to write everything down these days (or else I’ll forget about it), I also learned the way I was living was not sustainable. I was barely getting by and my body knew it. Unfortunately, it took going to the extreme side of busyness for me to see this. But now that I know what is “too much” for me, I have a better sense of what is “just right”. And what helps me stay sane and healthy is holding onto these four keys to a sustainable lifestyle.

  1. Sleep enough. I hate to admit it when my hubby’s right, but he’s right about me needing more sleep. I used to stay up until 2AM to work, even though I knew I’d need to be up around 7AM to get the kids ready for school. Now, I make myself turn in at midnight, so I wake up feeling more energetic. More energy also means a less grumpy mama, which my kiddos really appreciate. 😉
  2. Let God in. The older I get, the more I realize letting God into my daily life isn’t about seeming more spiritual or feeling better about myself, it’s simply about survival. Life is hard, and being human is hard. Bible verses I used to skim through when I was younger make so much sense now and bring me peace and comfort in this crazy world.
  3. Ask for help. Eeks. Another thing that perfectionists don’t like to do is ask for help. Why would they when they have everything under control—or so they like to think. 😉 But asking for help is part of being human. And it’s good to give others a chance to love on you.
  4. Admit your limits. You don’t have to do everything. In fact, there’s no way you can do everything. And you’re not supposed to do everything. Even God took a day off. And Jesus rested. If you have any doubts, repeat these last two sentences again. 😉

This is not a comprehensive list by any means, but a practical way to start making some changes toward a more balanced lifestyle. I also highly recommend the following list of 10 Guideposts for Wholehearted Living. I recently stumbled across it online, and I loved it so much, I got it printed as a poster at Costco. I’m going to hang it up in our bedroom where I can see it every day. (You can click on the image if you’d like to print your own, too!)

Image courtesy of https://leoniedawson.com

The guideposts are a good reminder that we were made to be so much more than workaholics. We are meant to be authentic, compassionate, resilient, joyful, grateful, creative, and calm. So let’s let go of the things that suck us dry and cultivate the things that give us life. 🙂

I know I shared this song before, but it’s something that gives me life. And this particular performance brought me to tears. Here’s Keala Settle singing, “This Is Me”, from The Greatest Showman.

What things do you need to let go and what things do you need to cultivate in your life?

Thoughts about Nutella (+ A Cover Reveal)

So, author confession time. When I started out 2017, I was thrilled to be given the opportunity to join two boxed sets. Both releasing towards the end of the year. I had no idea, however, of the other things that would pile up on my platter this year, too—platter, because I need something bigger than a plate to fit all my responsibilities! 😉 Long story short, I’m helping with the PTA at the munchkins’ school; I’m blogging regularly at three book-related sites in addition to my own; I babysit my niece once a week, so my mom gets some time off—funny how the tables have turned!; I have a family to feed, clothe, drive around, and listen to; and I have books to write, edit, and market. I realized I was pretty stressed out when I had a dream the other night that I was buying groceries and I couldn’t pay for them, but when I finally got the money to pay for them, the groceries had vanished! It was crazy, folks, like heart-pounding crazy! 😉

I’m not complaining though (okay, maybe I am complaining about having to feed my family every day). 😉 The thing is, I’m a bit tired. Tired because there are a lot of things I want to do, but there’s so little time to do them. (I know I’m not the only one who feels this way!) But when you also add my perfectionistic mindset to the mix, you’ve got a recipe for … nutella!

Yup, you read that right. I have been trying to be nutella. You know that rich, creamy, nutty goodness that goes good with everything and makes everyone happy? Yup, that nutella.

The thing is, no one can be a jar of nutella. Because sooner or later, you’ll find yourself with chest pains and headaches and waking up thinking you left your groceries at the store!

Here’s the truth (and doesn’t it look good?!):

I’m striving to remind myself to breathe and to do my best, but not to demand the best. Because when I demand perfection from myself, I only end up stressed out and frustrated and not a fun person to be around.

The big lesson here for me is grace. We need to give ourselves permission to say no. To mess up. To take a day off for our mental health. To do something for fun, not work. To be nice and kind and gentle to ourselves. To extend grace to ourselves because we’re human, after all.

I’m not saying we need to slack off (that would probably be torture, haha), but it’d be good to take it easy once in a while. Doing so may be hard at first, but everything (including being an anti-perfectionist) requires practice. And remember, practice doesn’t make perfect. Practice makes better. 🙂

And oh, before I forget, here’s the cover reveal for my story that’s coming out November 7th in Winter’s Kiss, a new Christian romance boxed set.

Tropical Kiss and Tell

Micah Chan has loved Lucy Choi ever since they were kids, but life—and some regretful decisions—stopped him from pursuing her. Now he has a choice to make: Let her marry another man or break up her engagement to make this Christmas the most memorable one of their lives.

You may recognize Micah and Lucy’s names from two of my other books, Tropical Kiss or Miss and Drawn to You. They were kids in those stories, but now they’re all grown up and getting their own happily-ever-after. 🙂

Pre-order your copy of Winter’s Kiss today for only 99 cents!

Kindle: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0767LWGCL/

iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/winters-kiss/id1293778445

B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/winters-kiss-elaine-stock/1127196238

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/winter-s-kiss-10

Google Play: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/winter-s-kiss-10