The happiness advantage – to write better novels, lighten up!

What’s behind the happiness craze? In Colorado Style, The Washington Post’s Brigid Schulte wrote an artcle, “Boost happiness with a few simple daily habits.” A recent issue of Parade’s cover headline reads, “50 Shades of Happy,” and the August Golf Digest cover declares it’s their “Happiness Issue.”

In one of those golf articles, contributor Bob Carney discusses a golfer on his high school team who was the happiest golfer he ever knew. He would be happy no matter the weather or what he shot, and he was not only the best player on the high school team, he was also the luckiest. His 6-handicap, Carney says, wasn’t all magic. It turns out there’s scientific proof that this “happiness edge” exists.

Shawn Achor, Harvard researcher and author of The Happiness Advantage, claims our brains, in positive mode, perform significantly better than they do in negative, neutral or stressed modes. Carney quoted five-time Open Championship winner Peter Thompson, who said, “You can think best when you’re happiest.”

So why are we all so hard on ourselves on the golf course, or at our computers, writing novels? One reason, Carney suggests, is that we “model” experience. We have preconceived notions about the “right” way to raise children, choose a mate, or in our case, write or promote our novels. These notions can be time-saving, but if we take them too seriously, we begin to believe that this is the way the world really works.

Are our theories about how to write a good novel simply a construct, also?

Annika Sorenstam’s coach, Lynn Marriott, says we have a negativity bias, that we store negative experiences in a deeper and more permanent way than we do our positive experiences. This suggests that we can undo the harmful, negative bias by replacing it with a positive bias.

If we have a propensity to imbed the negative, it will take a little more effort, but we can learn to apply this concept to make our writing more joyful, more satisfying.

Close your eyes and think back to the first time you wrote fiction—how excited you were, how magical it all seemed, creating a story from your heart, from that beautiful, magical place we call creativity. You couldn’t wait to write more, to discover what happened next, to watch your characters come to life on the pages.

Time, as we know, passes. Some stories get rejected, some get admired, some get published. We trudge on, dragging our feet through the industry “mud” of dashed hopes, disappointing letters in the mail, demanding editors, indifferent agents, careless reviews, puny sales numbers.

Over time, the joy fades, and our creative hearts need replenishing.

Take a deep breath. Hug your manuscripts and/or published books, and recall that early joy. Armed with positive thoughts, dwell on your successes and enjoyment. Remember to relish those memories, because it takes more effort to embed the positive.

When you’re preparing to edit (or, let’s be honest, “thinking” about preparing to edit, or tying yourself in the chair to force yourself to edit), engage encouraging thoughts.

Capture old, negative thoughts and turn them on their ear. Dash memories of plotting gone bad, and critique sessions that leave your manuscript bleeding from all the comments. You may have to hand back your bleeding manuscript to your critique partners and ask them to write two good things about your pages. Then you can take control and read and re-read those positive comments, giving them the same power as the critical comments . This will help you enter into your editing session with a hopeful, happy outlook, better able to tackle any problem areas.

When you’re gearing up to write new material, hug your creative mind and give it a jump start. Think of three or more outstanding memories of your writing, times when you could sing, you were so happy.

When you finished a scene that made you cry. Or laugh.
When you wrote a piece of dialogue that impressed you so much, you wanted to dance.
When someone looked you right in the eye, gave you a smile, and said they really enjoyed your writing.
When you wrote “The End” for the first time.
When you read a fantastic, positive review of your book, written by an obviously intelligent reader.

You’ll think of other gems. They’re in your memory bank, just temporarily dulled by the hard knocks that come with the industry.

Writing this blog made me happy. I hope it makes you happy, too. Join me next month as I continue my happy writing thoughts.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Join me on a unique retreat and tour in Ireland!

Dunguire Castle Small

I have been invited to present group classes, workshops and individual critiques for the prestigious Ireland Writer Tours next summer.  The workshop will focus on small presses and self-publishing, along with craft and related topics.  RMFW’s Writer of the Year, Susan Spann, has been blogging about her experience with the tour this summer. She has some excellent photos and memories to share.  These writer tours are so exciting! It’s a combination mini-writer’s conference and an unforgettable tour of haunted castles, faerie forests, and mysterious lakes and caves. Yes, I’ll be working, but I’ll also be touring with the attendees, soaking up all the atmosphere and magic that the Emerald Isle can offer.  More later, and if you have ever had any questions about writer tours like this, let me know, and I’ll get some insider answers for you!

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Tabor’s Trinket Wins International Book Award!

Tabor IPPY Award

Happy Birthday to me!  (actually in 2 weeks, but this wonderful surprise came early!)  Tabor’s Trinket, Book One in the Coin Forest series set in 15th century England, won the international IPPY award in the Romance category!  IPPY is the Independent Publisher Book Awards, the world’s largest book awards competition, and it drew 6,000 entries this year from USA, Canada, Australia/New Zealand and Europe!  Awards celebration party in New York on May 27.  I’m doing my Serena Williams’ “just-won-a-major-title” dance!  I’m honored, because with thousands of entries, I know there were some very worthy titles out there, and I’m grateful.  And very, very happy!


Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Emerald Silk Cover Reveal!

Cover 10 15 2014 no underwireJalena Penaligon has done it again! She far surpassed my hopes and created a stunning cover for EMERALD SILK, the second novel in my COIN FOREST series!  Kadriya appeared in Book One of the series as a young girl, spirited, determined, and loyal to Sharai, the girl who took her in as an infant. They grew up together, becoming closer than sisters, and faced death-defying moments together. But Kadriya is half English, half Gypsy, searching her heart to learn on which ethnic shore she belongs. This cover captures her determination and spirit.

John Wynter is a tortured soul. He delivers Kadriya’s Gypsy fiancé to the gallows for theft of a ceremonial  chalice. Long-ago fears have hardened to hatred and Sir John loathes foreigners. His bigotry blinds him, and if this fierce knight cannot overcome it, he may fail in his duty. In a single bell’s toll, their life and happiness rest on finding the power of love—and one elusive chalice.  His inner struggle is laid bare in this cover.

EMERALD SILK releases in just four days!! You can read more and order at

Leave a comment

Filed under Book News, Historical Romance, Kindle

Tabor’s Trinket earns Amazon Best Seller status!

Amazon Best Seller w Nos 6 in wide copyI was half-heartedly checking sales of Tabor’s Trinket last night, and found this!  I was stunned and so pleasantly surprised! Okay, okay, I admit it– I was screaming and jumping around like Serena Williams.  Tabor’s Trinket is an Amazon Best-seller in three categories!  I’m smiling so much, my face hurts! Thanks to all my dear family and friends for your support during my venture into the Kindle world! Thanks for buying my book, and for believing in me!!

To all of my author friends and blog friends who have been following this saga, you know I resisted offering my novels for sale on Kindle. You know how many years I hemmed and hawed and wondered if I should try this.  And here I am, sharing this news with you.  I’m in a delightful state of shock!


Leave a comment

Filed under Book News, eBook industry, get published, Kindle, self publishing novels, The Writing Life

Cover Reveal: Tabor’s Trinket!

TT4 1.5 inches 9 24 14

It brings me great joy to share the new cover of Tabor’s Trinket, my historical romance set in 15th century England.  It’s now available through Kindle.

The story, book one in the four-volume Coin Forest series, is set in a unique period in history when Gypsies were welcomed, their travels even financed by the nobility in the countries in which they traveled. Dubbed the Gypsy social honeymoon period, it lasted for just a few decades as the Gypsies ventured into Western Europe. It has been described by some of my readers as a Pretty Woman meets Pride and Prejudice because of the themes of survival under pressure, preconceptions and discrimination. You can read more of the plotline and order a copy at

Leave a comment

Filed under Book News, Kindle, self publishing novels, The Writing Life

Self-publishing-Courage on Steroids!

Fran commented on my previous post, sharing that she, too, had taken the self-publishing path.

What kind of fears do we suffer when we take this big step in our careers? We don’t have the shelter of a big New York publishing house — we lack the stamp of approval that comes from a big publisher’s editor.

I’ve come to realize there *are* traits and talents we *do* possess, though. With traditional publishing, I assumed I would get publicity, but in hindsight, I see that I did the lion’s share of promotion– a massive amount of publicity and advertising. Being our book’s best advocate is challenging, and yes, exhausting!  I wake up in the middle of the night, thinking about it.  What have I missed? What can be done more thoroughly? How can I best reach the readers who will love my book?

Doubts needle at the oddest times.  What if my book is given a scathing review? What if my friends read it and–after all my excited conversations about writing, they read it, grimace and think, “So this is what she’s so excited about?”  We don’t have an editor or an agent reassuring us along the way.  We are, from the beginning, in charge of nurturing our Positive Mental Attitude (PMA), and funding all of our promotional activities.

It’s daunting, but we’re not in this alone.  There are hundreds of thousands like us.  Networking helps. Let’s keep clutching our COURAGE cards and following our dreams!  Go ye forth. Believe. Promote. And write more wonderful books!  –Janet


Filed under eBook industry, get published, self publishing novels, Social Media Marketing, success techniques, The Writing Life