Category Archives: Nancy Greene

The Work/Life Imbalance

Let’s be clear.

I’m crazy.

Yup. Off my rocker. Certifiable. Nuts.balancing act

I was raised as part of the generation of women told, “you can have it all” and swallowed the line, hook and sinker.

My last year life in brief:

  • Happily (no really) married for nearly 19 years.
  • Matt and I have two amazing sons, ages 17 and 15.
  • We live on a 5 acre horse farm including two horses, a dog, three cats, a pool, woods and a creek. My dream made real in cooperation with Matt aka “The Hubby.”
  • I’ve been published, am getting ready to self-publish and am finishing an alternate history novel.
  • I’m a staff member for Superstars Writing Seminar.
  • I read slush for an online magazine.
  • I wrote a guest post for Grammar Girl’s podcast!
  • I’m a founding member of this blog.
  • I’ve owned my own law firm, and grew it to the point I had to join another firm.
  • With the help and guidance from the amazing people from EWomen Network, I’m launching a YouTube Channel about legal tips for business in May, 2016.
  • My book on business law for real people is scheduled to release in May, 2016.
  • I speak 6-15 times a year about using the law to protect your solo or small business and help it prosper.
  • I have some amazing strategic alliances that allow me to help mid-sized businesses transition into BIG businesses.
  • I am humbled and honored to call some of the most generous, wonderful and supportive people on the planet my friends.

So, I have it all, right?

Yeah. Truly, I can’t complain about my crazy busy life. Well, sure, I can complain about things – like the orange cat shredding 2015 set 1 132and eating (literally) my papers. But really, this is a trivial problem. I’m a pretty A-type personality. I love being in motion. A week of doing “nothing” is not my idea of fun. I’m also a bit of a perfectionist. (Stop laughing, Matt). “Having it all” is a lot of work.

So, here’s the truth about “having it all” and the myth of the “work-life balance:”

You can have “it” all; you just have to decide what “it” actually is.

I took far too long to come to that epiphany. I’ve felt guilty about success in one area of my life, as mommy, wife, writer, lawyer, speaker or farmer, because that success came at the expense (real or perceived) of another area of my life. To “do it all” I’ve had to accept sometimes, being a lawyer meant I couldn’t be a writer right then. I’ve had to let go of one of my favorite sentence stems – “I should be…”

I’ve wrestled with the “I should be…”s and related “I’m a bad…”s all my life. See, my Mom “did it all” too. She worked but she always made us dinner and came to our school events. I called her shortly after my oldest was born and asked Mom how she “did it.” I didn’t remember that she worked part-time until I was too busy with school to come home before 7 pm. All I remembered is she and my Dad had been there when it mattered. I remembered dinner was at 5 pm; learning how to cook in her kitchen; studying Latin with her and math with my Dad; Dad waking up at 4 am and taking me to a horse show; and the hours he and I spent fishing.

Still, that simple and profound lesson took years to sink in:

Others don’t see the things that worry us so very much.

Balance is a myth. No aspect of my life ever balances out in perfect proportions. I don’t spent 1/6th of my time wearing each of my hats and in many years the garden is ruled by weeds. But I accomplish a lot.

My tips for having it all:

  1. Let go and accept.

Sometimes we must prioritize one area of our lives over another for a time. That’s okay. That’s just life. The needs will change and if you’re paying attention over a life time the scales will balance the way you want, even if that’s not totally equally.

  1. Lists. Lots and lots of lists.

I know myself. If a task, appointment or whatever doesn’t hit my to-do list with a deadline it isn’t happening. Because I’ll procrastinate if I can do the task “whenever,” every task has a deadline whether real or Nancy created. I try not to beat myself up when I miss the fake deadlines. Now I just reset them to my next best guess.

  1.  When you can hire people to deal with the administrivia.

Time is best spent on income generating activities (for me, doing legal work or writing a story) or fun (watching movies with my 3 boys) rather than on unproductive tasks like mailing out my invoices. I can pay an admin $15 an hour to handle those necessary distractions. There are things only you can do. Do them and nothing else. Use money to make time when you can.

  1. Focus on what you accomplished rather than what remains to be done.

If your to-do list something even Superman and Wonder Woman would fear? When I focused on the 15 things that weren’t humanly possible to do in the day and I, surprise, didn’t finish, I was a grumpy gal. Now, I try to end the day remembering what I accomplished. I’m less likely to dread the next day.

  1. Sleep is for wimps.

Just kidding. Sleep really isn’t optional.

For me, finding balance meant accepting there are limits to my superhuman strengths (Again, stop laughing Matt or I might revise the “happily married” point). Don’t get me wrong. I still hear the deeply fearful part of me repeating her “not good enough” and “I should be…” mantras, but her voice has grown softer over the years and she’s getting easier to ignore.

Oh yeah, and when getting the work/life balance right, it helps to be downright crazy.

 

When Purple Unicorns Become More – One Horn To Rule Them All

Over the years the Fictorians site has existed we’ve talked a lot about Superstars Writing Seminar. This group wouldn’t exist without Superstars. It’s hard to explain how special this conference and the people who attend it are. But maybe, Lisa Mangum’s post below might give you some idea.

Lisa has loved and worked with books ever since elementary school, when she volunteered at the school library during recess. Her first paying job was shelving books at the Sandy Library. She worked for five years at Waldenbooks while she attended the University of Utah, graduating with honors with a degree in English.

An avid reader of all genres, Lisa crossed over to the publishing side of the industry in 1997. She’s currently the Managing Editor at Shadow Mountain. Lisa loves movies, sunsets, spending time with her family, trips to Disneyland, and vanilla ice cream topped with fresh raspberries. She lives in Utah, with her husband, Tracy. She is the author of the Hourglass Door trilogy and After Hello.

So, Lisa – When is a Purple Unicorn more than just a silly mythical creature?

***

one horn

 

I’ve been working in the publishing industry since 1997, and I’ve seen a lot of books cross my desk. I’ve even written a few books of my own. But I haven’t ever really edited an anthology quite like ONE HORN TO RULE THEM ALL. I mean—purple unicorns? Really?

Yes, really.

The genesis of the collection came about from the Superstars Writing Seminar. I was attending for the first time, and I was both impressed and amused by the fact that a purple unicorn was the example used to illustrate how to be a professional author. The idea was that if an editor asks you for a story about a purple unicorn, you better deliver a story about a purple unicorn.

As the conversation continued, I made a comment on the Superstars Facebook page about how now I kinda wanted to write a purple unicorn story. Enough people agreed with me and responded with title suggestions and more pictures of unicorns than I imagined existed. (Though, hello, Internet, so perhaps I shouldn’t have been surprised.)

The idea stuck with me, though, long after the seminar ended, and one day I emailed Kevin J. Anderson (cofounder of Superstars) and said, “This might be the stupidest idea ever—or the most brilliant.”

Together we hammered out a plan that would result in a collection of twenty stories about purple unicorns. I said I would donate my time to edit the anthology (including reviewing all the stories and editing them) if WordFire Press would publish it, and all sales of the book would benefit a scholarship fund for someone to attend next year’s Superstars.

I’ll be honest. It’s not like I had a lot of time to edit a 100K-word anthology in July. I had a novella of my own to finish writing, plus a Con to attend, plus helping my husband shoot his short film, not to mention all the work that comes with my full-time job as Managing Editor of Shadow Mountain Publishing. And yet…

I wanted to work on the project. I had such an amazing time at the Superstars seminar, and it was such a rich and fulfilling weekend that I wanted other people to enjoy the same thing. Plus, I had made dear friends with the other Superstars attendees, and I wanted to read the stories they would write.

So, as an editor, I asked for unicorn stories. And, as professionals, the Superstar authors delivered.

And oh, the stories they wrote! Some were funny, some were sad. I read stories about detectives and mobsters and fairies and moms and zookeepers and veterans. I traveled to distant planets, to Fairyland, to a Comic-Con.

It has been a joy and a privilege to work on this anthology. The stories are amazing, and best of all, with each book sold, we get that much closer to bringing even more aspiring authors into the Superstars Tribe as we help each other make the leap from amateur to professional.

Being a writer can be a crazy career choice. Publishing can be heartless. It’s a crazy world out there, kids. Best find yourself a Tribe—and bring a unicorn with you if at all possible.

***

 Thank you, Lisa. Purple Unicorns are everywhere. Pets and RenFest 8.14 004

She picked some amazing stories for the anthology. Kevin J. Anderson and the entire WordFire gang will be at Salt Lake ComicCon starting on September 4. Stop by the WordFire Booth to say “hi” and maybe help us fund the Superstars scholarship. If you buy a copy of One Horn To Rule Them All at the Wordfire booth I bet you can get several of the authors to autograph it. The book sells for $14.95 in paperback and $4.99 in E-reader formats:

If you (like me) aren’t able to attend the Salt Lake ComicCon this time, you can find Purple Unicorns here:

Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/one-horn-to-rule-them-all

(Kobo like Shadow Mountain is a Superstars Sponsor so if we can send love/ sales its way, that would be wonderful).

Amazon: One Horn

Barnes & Noble: One Horn To Rule Them All. 

Stranger Than Fiction

We’ve all heard the phrase that “life is stranger than fiction” but what does that really mean? For me, it means that sometimes real life happens in such a way that if I were to use the event verbatim in a fiction story my readers would cry “implausible.” Think about that for a second. Readers accept vampires, zombie detective, purple unicorns, space ships, entire West Virginia towns going back in time to create an alternate universe, (speaking of which) alternate universes, evil twins, a series of coincidences that add up to a twist ending,,, and the list could go on forever.

So, how bizarre does an event have to be before it’s “stranger than fiction?”

Do the events have to be so coincidental that the odds of the event happening are astronomical? Does the main character have to be dumber than a fence post not to see the results of her actions? For me, I think the situation has to be so divorced from what we consider “normal” that we sit back and say, “no. No one (Nothing) could be that….” Judge for yourself though as we spend September exploring events that are “Stranger Than Fiction.”

Let me start.

Most of the things I’ve seen or heard as a lawyer I can’t repeat. Sometimes though it’s the other side’s client who does the unbelievable thing. When that’s the case there’s nothing that prevents disclosure. Still, I’ve changed names and occupation.

HOW TO BE YOUR OWN WORST ENEMY

???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????A husband and wife started an interior decorating business. Mary was responsible for getting and performing the work. John took care of the back office tasks – staffing, bookkeeping, banking, billing and the like. Years into the business they were doing well on a professional front (millions of dollars in gross revenue) but not so much on the personal one. Suspicion and distrust ran deep. A little deeper on one side than the other. Eventually, Mary accused John of embezzling. Mary hired an attorney (not me) to file for divorce and seek a court appointed receiver for the business. John hired an attorney (again, not me) to counter-sue for divorce and defend the theft allegations.

Mary alleged John would go to the bank every Friday with pizza for the bank tellers. In return, the bank tellers of a national bank would cash checks for John, andl hand him bundles of cash. The tellers would then create a false bank statements that wouldn’t show the deposit (if the check had come from a company client) or the withdraw (if the check being cashed were a company one). John believed that every gap in the checks sequence on the bank statements represented a check Mary used wrongfully withdraw the money from the company. She thought John stole millions of dollars this way. After all the company had margins of 60% so where was the money? Mary’s definition of “margin” didn’t include most of the company’s salaries or overhead. Mary also thought John was stealing her paychecks.

The receiver (yup, this is where I come in) obtained copies of all the bank statements from the national bank (not the branch John was allegedly feeding) and payments from the company’s client. Like most businesses some of the jobs from a gross profit number were very profitable and others were dead losers. Once you took out the operating cost including a HUGE monthly payment for their house the company ran deeply in the red. There was no proof of a national conspiracy. The checks…checked out. And those paychecks? They were deposited into a joint bank account. From the company’s standpoint there was no misappropriation of funds.

We met with Mary’s attorney for hours to explain the situation. Mary fired the attorney when she agreed with the Receiver. Mary hired another attorney to pursue the claim. He lasted as long as her retainer did. No amount of reason could shake Mary’s belief that John had robbed her blind. She accused the Receiver of being paid off by John (NOT) when the Receiver wouldn’t support her theories.

Mary threatened to report that the tax returns were false to the appropriate authorities when the Receiver wouldn’t amend the returns to show the “missing” income. We said she needed to do what she needed to do but we didn’t have any evidence to support her position. While there were substantial tax debt owed the various agencies had been mostly silent on collection since no one had any money. Ultimately, Mary called the governmental entity designed to ensure that people paid their taxes to report that John had under-reported the company’s income for years. She didn’t think about the fact that she was listed as a 51% co-owner or that she would be deemed to have received 51% of the “stolen” money as a result.

Well, the taxing agencies were no longer willing to wait to see if the Receiver collected enough money to pay them. After all, Mary just advised them that the couple had vastly under-reported their income for years. So, now Mary has some tax issues to deal with. And she still insists that John stole millions of dollars.

 

 

 

It Takes a Tribe

computer 2

 

We get it into our head that writing is a solitary art.When we first dreamed of being a writer, who saw themselves as sitting along in a cabin banging on a typewriter? Come on. I see you over there. Put your hand up. You know it’s true. Okay, put your hand down. If you were really advanced in your dreaming you’d have acknowledged on the edges that at some point other people come into the picture – an agent, a publisher, the reader. But that was way downstream. This whole creative gig. It could be done alone. Right?

Not.

It’s time we stopped kidding ourselves.

We lose writers – good writers – every day from the profession because they “go it alone.” While actually putting your butt in a chair and writing will almost always be a solo activity (even in a collaboration you are responsible for writing your part) the path that leads you to your keyboard and beyond is filled with other people. Spouses, significant others, and friends give us support, we may bounce ideas or our outline off them. We confer with experts to ensure our writing is accurate enough to be believable. We work with dozens of people to hone the story, the prose, the cover, the blurb, and all the lovely marketing bits. We need our readers.

But the biggest thing your writing tribe does is keep you going when you are in a low spot.

This past week I was in a low spot. I’d been rejected from two anthologies. Two of my stories had been rejected from different anthologies. I was sincerely happy for everyone who made it in but the rejection cut deep. Mostly though, I’ve had some stuff hanging over me for a while and it was coming to a head. I felt so alone. All my husband’s attempts to calm me put me into full-out panic attacks. (Sorry, honey.) So, I did what I’ve never done before. I asked my writing tribe, this tribe, for help. Now, I didn’t really tell them what was happening just that I was going to be facing a ton of adversity in the next 24 hours. The outpouring of support was humbling. Their words of encouragement, thoughts and prayers gave me the strength to go through that trial with grace and a sense of peace. My Tribe had my back. I wouldn’t have come through the crisis without them.

At the same time our Facebook group was discussing another writer the profession had lost because going alone had broken her spirit. She went so far as to announce the death of her pen name. She didn’t have a support group. It broke many of our hearts. It’s a huge loss.

It shouldn’t have happened.

The advice I’d give my younger writing self? Even more than “don’t listen to your high school English teacher. You absolutely can and did write the story that touched her heart.”? It’s this:

Surround yourself with like minded-people who are going through or have already gone through what you are going through.

With your Tribe you can accomplish anything you work for.

Ask for and accept help. This is not a a sign of weakness but of strength.

Know you aren’t alone.

 

YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

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