Tag Archives: dreams

How To Start Your Own Company


We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Challenges!

So here I am once again at some ungodly hour with my brain spinning at break-neck speed, spewing countless ideas and plans for Romantic Shorts. What to do next. A new curve on an old plan. A tweak in the grand plan. A new goal. A new and improved goal. The next post for Romantic Shorts HQ.

Which brings me to the point.

I started this venture – can I call it a company if I’m working from my dining room (having recently lost my office)? ; I’m still hesitant at throwing around the ‘Publisher’ title; it’s not really a business until it’s making money. So I like the word ‘venture.’ It hints at adventure, challenge, excitement, fulfillment. I like it….

Right. So I started this venture, seriously and with conviction, about a year and a half ago.

One of the biggest incentives of diving into this, was pure and simple distraction it provided to one of – okay, the most difficult personal challenges I’ve ever faced: my oldest child began making really bad decisions, forcing me to make decisions as a parent that drew on a strength I didn’t yet know I possessed. Watching him struggle beyond hope has been the most unbearable experience I could imagine. How many times I wished him dead – both for his own sake and ours – I can’t begin to count – immediately thereafter being knocked over by a wave of guilt, remorse, worry and pure, cold, fear.

I’ve heard about challenges. I grew up with a dad who was a dreamer. He never really accomplished anything he set out to do. But he was always doing something. And we were constantly bombarded with one inspirational speaker/book/movie/idea after another. As a result, I, too, am a dreamer. But thanks to Mom and an incredibly supportive husband, I am also a do-er.

And so I know about challenges.

“Nothing’s worth doing if it’s easy,” “Bumps in the road,” “Sticks in spokes,” and all that.

What I didn’t realize 18 months ago when I committed to Romantic Shorts, was the variety of form and severity of those challenges. I had no idea what was truly in store for me.

And frankly, if some of the things I’ve muddled through recently are typical of your average business start-up, it’s no wonder so many don’t make it. I get why, if building your own successful business is the (North) American dream, not everyone manages to accomplish that. Nor do they even want to.

A slight stroke of luck led me to my hometown Hamilton’s new McMaster University Innovation Park the other day. We have an entrepreneurs support centre called Innovation Factory and I snagged a meeting with a couple young fresh minds the other day. Amidst all of the ideas and advice (and kudos!!) they shared, was a reminder that the Internet can be a big barren wasteland of connections. And that success will at some point require a more personal touch.

In my vast wanderings and wonderings of late, I had lost sight of that.

All of my most successful posts and ‘reaching-out’ campaigns have come from my heart. Straight from the person who’s doing all the work. I had forgotten that.

And now I share with you this post. And warn that it will be followed up with more about the day to day challenges I’m facing and sometimes even overcoming. That’s both therapeutic for me, and insightful for you, a reader whom I invite to return to enjoy our stories, or to write a romantic short story for us, or to contribute in a way that you feel might benefit all.

I’ll probably return in a bit to lament on the various challenges I do face. Not the least of which is the current crash of my beloved MacBook Pro, who has been with me every step of the way and whom I miss terribly right now as I type this on my husband’s laptop. (Again, an unbelievably supportive man.)

Now, if you’ll excuse me. I have to run. I have the incredibly overwhelming task of leaving the house at this still-ungodly hour to pick up said son from work. And I do not have the time right now, or the strength to hold back such forceful tears of joy at the pride and love I feel for this young man, knowing where he’s been, and seeing where he is now – back home with the love and support of his family, working and going to school.

Challenges are meant to challenge us. We don’t have to like it. We just have to do it.

Dream Big,
Alex Brown.


Filed under For Readers, For Writers, Just a Thought

Libraries, Some Fun, And A Leg Up From @MargaretAtwood

One of the tools I’ve been using to get word out about Romantic Shorts is Twitter.

I started Tweeting because it was fast and easy to use. But it wasn’t until I installed the Twitter App on my iPhone a few months back that I realized the power those little 140 character blurbs punch!

My Twitter feed – the tweets of everyone I follow – comes through my iPhone. I can browse through it while waiting for the end of a football practice, watching the kids in the pool, avoiding my husband’s less comfortable driving practices. Those tiny ‘few minute’ breaks in my day are now – productively – filled with Twitter.

I follow a number of people, mostly writers – so I can learn more about them and how to find them! – and others in the writing world – reviewers, editors, small publishers. Most of them split their tweets about 50/50 between the business of writing, and their personal thoughts about everything from the fall of great book selling giants, to what they’re having for dinner. Some very serious comments, and some that have made me laugh out loud at some inappropriate times. (Yes, there have been a time or two when I have checked my Twitter feed while waiting for a daughter in a public restroom, or in church. But hey, God knows I tweet and why, and NO, I do not ever use my phone in the toiletmostly because the thing costs far too much to accidentally drop it in…)

I’ve learned a tremendous lot from the writers I’m following. They share their ups and downs: publishing days, tour dates, writing schedules, difficulties in naming characters. My biggest revelation is an almost universal obsession with number of words. I’ve seen regret in cutting a part of the story and losing the word count. Uncertainty in the excessive length of the finished manuscript. Constant attention to a running or daily word production. It seems to be a very common theme among writers’ tweets.

As a writer myself, I do believe that word counts and deadlines were tops on my list of reasons not to bother getting published. I so enjoy writing – it is an escape beyond anything I could have imagined. But for me it is a personal activity. The process purges my mind of ideas and obsessions upon which I otherwise would have to continue to think. It is cleansing, liberating, and exciting. I have always said that the only thing better than reading a book is writing one! Why ruin all that with the pressure of word counts, deadlines, and critics?

I’ve wandered somewhat. Back to the post.

So I’m tweeting. Reading what others say. Retweeting – quoting others – when I find something I like, or something I think my followers would like. Or if I find something I think might be helpful – and there’s a LOT of that going on. I’m following people who have information that I need. Or who are insanely funny. Or insightful. It’s fun and it’s work. Slowly but surely I’m getting word out about Romantic Shorts – it’s a daunting task to get a message out to what? –pretty much the whole wide world. But I’m enjoying myself and learning as I go.

Apparently, though, for others, especially others who have already more or less mastered their corner of the Twitterverse, a well-placed tweet here and there can have an enormous affect on the real world. Everyone has heard of this celebrity or that tweeting a certain message that’s gone ‘viral’ and, well, I wouldn’t say, ‘changed the world,’ but we’ve all heard them. But there are those tweets that are a little less saturating that start a ripple in the pond and end up making some pretty impressive waves on the beach.

Currently, Margaret Atwood, one of Canada’s best and most popular authors, is rousing quiet Canadians, Ontarians, and Torontonians to fight for the life of Toronto’s library system. Toronto recently voted in a Mayor who ran on a ‘let’s clean up city hall’ platform, and who is now trying to offload as many municipal services as he possibly can into the private sector to save money. Transparency and accountability have blossomed into a massive garage sale that will leave Toronto with an empty house.

Far be it for me to wain political here…

But one of the municipal services that are threatened right now are the libraries.

And Margaret Atwood is determined to save them. She is rallying her ‘Twiends’ to help. Yesterday, she asked her followers to share stories that expressed their respect, memory, and experience with the public library. She retweeted dozens of them over the day, and having read through them, I am astounded at the effect the library has had on my life as well as my children’s.

I was able to relate to almost every tweeted experience! I recalled times I had taken the children to borrow a book, for storytime, to work on school projects. I love the smell of the library, the quiet. Or the loud attempt that everyone makes at being quiet. I love that there are thousands of different worlds to be explored at the tip of my fingers.

My best advice to my children to find a really good book: you must go to the library and find a book that is absolutely falling apart. Not the fresh new ones. The old crappy ones that are held together by an rubber band. They are worn from use and they’re never around long enough for anyone to be able to repair them!!

I wrote both of my novels, in their entirety, in a study corral on the upper floor of the Terryberry Library in the Hamilton Public Library system. I spent a lot of time there.

Oddly, when @MargaretAtwood put out her call for anecdotes, I was one of the first to weigh in. I quipped that, sadly, despite my best efforts, my kids and their friends only visit the library to use the computers.

I received several responses from writers, readers, and librarians, who insisted that that’s the idea. Better that they’re in the library, with the books, the librarians, each other!! This is a good thing, they chorused.

After some thought on the matter, I had to agree.

When I first heard of Margaret Atwood‘s mission, I thought, well, someone will work that out, and it’ll be fine. Having followed her crusade, I must say that I can now be counted one of her supporters.

I owe Ms. Atwood a debt of thanks on two levels.

One, that she retweeted my tweet and Romantic Shorts had the biggest spike in visitors it’s ever seen! How very incredibly exciting! (And yes, I’ve been going around telling everybody I know that I was retweeted by the great Margaret Atwood. They are very impressed! Even those who don’t know what ‘retweeted’ means!)

And two, or rather, more importantly, for bringing me back to a time and place I had forgotten. A place where dreams are born. And realized. Where young imaginations are ignited. And where people connect in a way that will not happen in any other place on earth.

A visit with my kids to our public library is long, long overdue.

~ ~ Alexandra Brown

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Filed under For Writers, Just a Thought

Unexpected Rewards

Having just spent the last few days announcing competition winners, tweeting like crazy, emailing new Romantic Shorts Authors, and doing my best to keep everything straight and my excitement in check, I was caught off-guard yesterday by a budding phenomenon that I could have never anticipated.

It was great fun to be able to give good news to so many people. Notifying writers of their successful competition entries, and authors of the acceptance of their manuscript submissions was, as I had expected, a very emotionally satisfying activity. As I tweeted their kudos, and posted their details, I couldn’t help but feel, almost recognize, the pride, enthusiasm, and excitement I expected to feel at this point.

But as I continued my tweets through the day, I began to see something else.

Writers that I had communicated with through the day were now talking to other Romantic Shorts writers! They were connecting, @mentioning each other, sharing URL’s and FaceBook addresses. Conversations were developing and the seeds of friendships were planted.

I’m not sure yet exactly what feelings this is bringing out for me – they are all new. There is a sense of awe and wonder in the growth of something I hadn’t intended. A feeling of excitement and anticipation as I realize that there’s a lot more to all of this than I had planned. And then there’s a wave of responsibility and obligation as I begin to understand my role in changing my life, and those of others whom I have never met, in ways that are yet to be clear to any of us.

With a growing impression of the potential of Romantic Shorts, I am heading into summer with a renewed sense of purpose and determination. There is still much to do in the remaining weeks before we launch in August. But in the end, ready or not, here we come. And if things aren’t quite perfect, well, we’ll just fix those things when we get to them. I have always been of the mind that planning is crucial to any project. But at some point you have to just jump and get started, working out the kinks along the way.

A dear friend once told me that the most difficult part of designing and creating her own leather coat was the first cut into the insanely expensive material with a pair of scissors. After that, everything else is manageable.

And so, with scissors in hand…


Filed under For Writers, Just a Thought