Tag Archives: faith

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

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

Asking Writers to Write for No Pay

We’ve received considerable flack from established writers and writers’ groups who insist that we have no right to ask writers to write for no pay.

And they are absolutely right. Writers work hard at their craft and certainly deserve to be rewarded for their time, their efforts, and their creativity. Many an artist has fallen victim to unfair compensation by an unscrupulous publisher, to copyright infringement, and to outright piracy. The Internet, in fact, gives such shady practices an even wider berth. To make matters worse, there is little the writer can do to completely prevent the theft of his or her work, save for keeping it hidden from all eyes – which, of course, by it’s very nature, defies the purpose of writing in the first place.

Here at Romantic Shorts, this early in our growth, we are, in fact, asking writers to write for no pay.

There is nothing devious in our request, but we would like to explain.

Romantic Shorts is not just a new publisher; we are a brand new, online concept. While we have vision, drive, and goals, we really have no idea where this idea will end up. There are no examples to emulate. No leaders to follow.

Our starting capital is so low as to be negligible. In today’s economy, and given founder Alexandra Brown’s refusal to borrow money, that fact will not change until Romantic Shorts can produce a product and sell it. Unfortunately, the product is elusive.

A true chicken/egg dilemma. We won’t make money until we have writers. And we won’t have writers until we make money.

And if we are an unknown even to ourselves, it certainly follows that you, a writer, will have some serious apprehensions in working with us.

So how do we convince you?

The question that you, as a writer who is considering submitting a story to Romantic Shorts, should be asking yourself, then, is not, “How much will I get paid?” but rather, “How much do I want to take a chance on this new publisher?”

While you are deciding, Alex Brown would like you to consider a few key factors.

“I started work on this website in March of 2010. Since then, I have spent countless hours researching, marketing, planning, learning, crying, learning some more, asking, listening, and writing. While I have two partners lined up to jump in more fully once competition entries begin to arrive, most of the work up until now has been my own. My family is now on board, seeing this as my new full-time job. And I am committed like a crazy woman, often finding myself up at 4 a.m. punching out some idea on the computer while it’s fresh and exciting. My days start with an energy I haven’t felt in a long time, and I can’t wait to see what new experience I will have each and every day! Watching my dream come alive is a dream come true.

“My husband and I set about creating a ‘family motto’ when we encountered our first major life obstacle together.



They hang on our wall for all to see. Whenever we have a decision to make, we always come back to these three key values. We make every decision with Faith, that we will make a good and strong decision, with backup from above, Integrity, that we will decide our path for the right reasons, and Perseverance, knowing that we will, however, have to work very hard. I carry these values with me into Romantic Shorts. My purpose is not cheat anyone – not of their money, their work, or their trust. My purpose is to create something out of nothing, to build something that helps others realize their dreams, and to grow that into something that will promote positive change in this world.

“If you are a writer who shares this purpose, we need to talk. As soon as Romantic Shorts is making any money, we’ll all get paid. Until then, come on this adventure with me. Grow with me. Learn with me. Help me help others. Share your work as I am sharing mine. Not for the money. (Okay, maybe for money some day.) But because you believe in writing, in helping, and in taking a chance.”

Everyone has to start somewhere. Down the road, our success will be measured by our reputation. Is Romantic Shorts a stepping stone in an author’s career, or a destination? Are our writers proud to be associated with us? Do we enjoy a fun and beneficial relationship with all of our writers?

Bottom line? Do what you love; the money will work itself out later.

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Filed under For Writers