External Vs. Internal Rewards

I finally made the decision to close my business. I’m not sure how many of you are aware of LLCs, but years ago, I was told an LLC was a good idea for a writer. For possible tax savings, it can be, but you have to make a certain amount in order for it to make sense. If any writers out there have questions about LLCs, feel free to ask. I set mine up in 2013 and am now dissolving (aka closing) it. So I can answer some questions about this.

Overall, I found the LLC to be more of a pain than it was worth. I was set up as an LLC but was taxed as an S-Corporation, which meant I had to run payroll. I hired out for payroll. And I have an accountant who works with small businesses. I plan to keep the accountant. There’s no way I want to deal with filing my own taxes. I’m not that type of person. All I really want to do is write.

Anyway, for the next couple of weeks, I’ll be running all over the place getting things wrapped up with the LLC, so I’m not sure how much I can come over here. I’m also participating in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). The goal of NaNoWriMo is to reach 50,000 words during the month. It’s a fun challenge, and right now, I want to use the spare time I’ll have to do something fun with my time.

I’m looking forward to getting out of the LLC. Something happens when a writer starts thinking of writing as a business. The focus gets off of the internal reward for writing. Instead, the focus goes to external rewards. I’ve learned internal rewards are not compatible with external rewards.

Internal rewards come from the satisfaction of doing something you love. It is not reliant on any other factors. It is writing for the sake of writing. It is the only thing under a writer’s control. External rewards depend on factors outside of a writer’s control. It is about awards, making bestselling lists, sales, and money. It all depends on what others do.

I’ve been thinking long and hard about the difference between internal and external rewards, and I’ve decided I’d rather have the internal kind. It is HARD to get back into the mindset of writing for that internal reward that came so easily to me in the past because as soon as I realized external rewards existed, I felt like I had to earn a certain amount of money in order to be “somebody” in the writing community.

Suddenly, it was about proving myself to other writers because no one really cares about what a writer has to say unless the writer has proved him/herself through income, a bestseller’s list, and/or an award. That’s why those things matter so much to a lot of writers. The LLC only reminds me of that. It forces me into the mindset of being a “business”. I’m sure it doesn’t do that to all writers, but it did it to me because I had to worry about making a certain amount of money in order to keep running the LLC.

I want to be happy. I’ve been reading a book about being happy, and as simple as this sounds, the author is right: I have to be happy first. And in order to be happy, it’s important to be content with what I already have. When I look at my life, I realize I have it good. All of my needs are met. I’m fortunate. Looking at what I don’t have is exhausting, and it drains me of my passion for writing.

This is why I think writing to market is doomed to fail in the longterm. I’ve heard writers say they’re happy writing to market since the money is so good, but money is an external reward. In the end, I don’t see how it can satisfy, and I also don’t see how a writer is going to be satisfied with their books if they write it for other people. (Another external reward is approval from others. This can come in the form of praise, sales, or awards.) What I’ve discovered over the past few years of chasing external rewards is that there is no amount that is enough. There’s always more to gain. And that only frustrated me. It didn’t make me happy. I actually began to hate writing, and there were a few times when I thought I never wanted to write another word again. That scared me. And then I wanted to cry because, deep down, I knew I wanted to write. I had just lost my way. I had lost my joy.

The writers who have embraced writing for internal rewards are happy. I’ve come across them, and you can tell they’re happy by the way they talk. Also, their stories have a passion in them that comes through their writing. You can tell they put their hearts into the stories, and you can tell they had fun while writing them. They started self-publishing when I did, and they’re still writing with the same enthusiasm they used to.

I know this isn’t something that the world embraces. The world is geared toward external rewards. People are praised, admired, and respected for external rewards. Does that mean a writer who focuses on internal rewards can’t make money with their books? No. I learned long ago to never say “never”, but the writer isn’t going to be happy if money is the goal. Money is a gift, and it should be appreciated. But it shouldn’t be the goal. Once it becomes the goal, it taints the way a writer views writing.

External rewards taints the way you do anything. In the final analysis, internal rewards gives you longterm fulfillment and joy.

If you’re curious about the book I’m reading, here’s a link to the site where you can find more information about it. If you’re struggling with being fulfilled (like I am), I recommend it. This is one of those books you’ll want to read more than once, and I do think it takes time to let the lessons really sink in. The author did address the difference between internal and external rewards. (This was under the section about success.) Anyway, it was while I was reading that passage in the DMV line that things fell into place for me, which is why I focused on that specific principle in this blog post. (For those who might not know, DMV stands for Department of Motor Vehicles. The line can be long and slow. It’s worth taking a book if you ever have to go there.)

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For Those of You Who Want Clean Romances, Here Are Some Authors You Might Enjoy

I’m going to send you to a couple of romance authors I personally know who write clean romances. These are fine Christian romance authors who are super sweet people.

Historical western romances:

Check out Janet Syas Nitsick.

I actually do have one historical romance that is clean. It’s Romancing Adrienne, and it can be found on this page. (It’s Book 4 in the series.) Just link to the retailer you’re interested in.

For contemporary romances:

Check out Catherine Lynn.

Check out Kristy K. James.

Check out Dorothy Paula.

I do have one clean contemporary romance that I wrote in an anthology under the pen name Barbara Joan Russell. It can be found on this page. Look for the book titled Bride by Design. Click the link to where you want to buy it.

For historical or contemporary:

Kristen Osbourne has some clean historicals and contemporary romances. Read the descriptions to make sure they’re clean.

Also, It’s my understanding that Catherine Lynn and Kristy K. James are looking into writing some historicals. (I just checked, and Kristy does have a historical already out.)


That all said…

I am going to keep putting sex into my romances. I don’t write clean romances because there are SO MANY already out there. There’s more supply than there is demand. You can go to any retailer right now and find a ton of them. You’ll never run out of clean romances to read. Seriously, you won’t.

However, there are very few romances available where the author has made this promise about every single book: the hero and heroine do not have sex with each other until after marriage. I can find an author who does this setup for a few books, but then they have other books where the hero and heroine have sex before marriage. So I never know what I’m getting when I pick up that author’s book.

But I do make that promise about my books, and I am going to keep true to that promise. The only two other authors I know of who are doing this are Rose Gordon and Carolyn Davidson. I am helping to fill a void that exists in the romance market. This is the beauty of self-publishing. I get to write books that very few others are doing.

And some people have told me they’re glad I write sex within marriage. Believe me, no one was more surprised than I was when I found out I wasn’t the only romance reader who got frustrated in searching for an author who kept sex within marriage for every single book they wrote. I thought I was the only romance reader alive who wanted the hero and heroine to wait until marriage to have sex. The reason I started writing romances was because I couldn’t find the kind of romances I was looking for.

I also wanted more virgin heroes. Man, I can’t tell you how tired I was of finding so many sexually experienced heroes in romances. Like magic, he falls in love with the heroine and changes his ways. Never mind the other women he had gone through in the past. It’s like those women never mattered. And that always bothered me. That’s why if I do have a hero who isn’t a virgin AND isn’t a widower or was forced into a divorce, I make sure to show that the hero’s past sexual pursuits weren’t fun. I give him guilt. He has to realize he used those women for his own selfish pleasure. It was never love. It was lust. I don’t see how any man can use women and feel good about himself in the long run, at least not if he has a conscience.

I’m going to keep putting sex into my books, and I will keep describing the act. In a good marriage, the act of lovemaking brings the couple closer together. That’s all I do in my books when I include sex scenes. I’m showing how they grow closer together. I have a lot of respect for the sex act. I find it beautiful and pure. And that’s how I see it when I write about it.

I understand not everyone will agree with me. And that’s why I listed the authors above. Please, if you’re looking for clean romances, check them out. If you want clean romances, I’m not the author for you. If you pick up another one of my books, you’ll be disappointed, and I want to save you that disappointment.

From now on, if someone asks me about writing clean romances, I’ll just point them to the authors I mentioned above.

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Signs of a Heart Attack in Women

I had a request to write on this topic, and I’m finally getting around to it. I’ve never been through this, so I’m not an expert. I have to take what I learned from the internet and from what someone told me her experience was like.

From what I learned, it is hard to tell if a woman is having a heart attack. It seems that the signs are easier to recognize when it happens to men, although my husband’s co-worker went home a month ago complaining about a pain in his arm and died that night from a heart attack. He didn’t think he was having a heart attack, and no one else did, either.

In a nutshell, here is what to watch for:

  • Unexpected Fatigue that leaves you with no energy at all. They say you have trouble even walking to the bathroom.
  • Shortness of breath while at rest.
  • Sweating while at rest.
  • Waking up in the middle of the night and feeling as if you can’t catch your breath.
  • Upset stomach; sometimes vomiting.
  • It feels as if an elephant is sitting on your chest.
  • Heartburn that doesn’t go away with something like Tums or sitting up.
  • Pain in neck, upper arms, and/or jaw.
  • Heartbeat gets unexpectedly fast.
  • Chest pain.

From what I gathered, this stuff can go on for weeks or months before the actual heart attack hits full force, and women don’t experience all of these symptoms. So it’s no wonder that this is a very hard thing to figure out. I honestly don’t know how a woman is supposed to know if they’re having a heart attack. The woman I know who had one said that she had heartburn that went on and on even though she took Tums. She said she couldn’t sleep since it was so bad.

My concern is that if you’re having one or two of the symptoms listed above, will it be obvious to a doctor if you go in and mention having those symptoms? My mother-in-law had an eruption in her intestine and the doctors kept saying it was a stomach bug. She almost died because they couldn’t figure out that was going on. Now, I can’t really blame doctors for not figuring that out. She had stomach bug symptoms. Doctors do their best to provide quality care and try to get things right. But we are all human.

So given the list for all of the symptoms that can signal a heart attack in women, I don’t know how a woman is supposed to figure out what is really going on when any of these symptoms can pop up so often over the course of our lifetime.

I guess the extreme fatigue and shortness of breath or sudden burst of sweating would signal something to me that I need to sit up and pay attention, but I’ve had all of the other things happen at one time or another in the course of my lifetime. Also, I’ve been battling a sensitive stomach since I was in my early 20s.

From all of this, I’m thinking a heart attack is probably one of the most difficult things to pin down. Maybe the main thing is that the symptoms linger for longer than normal. Maybe it’s that things are getting worse instead of better. Or maybe we have to rely on the gut instinct that tells us something is seriously wrong.

What about you? Have you come across anyone who’s had a heart attack? What were the symptoms?


Here are the resources I’m pulled together for this post:

Important Heart Attack Red Flags For Women You Should Recognize

Women: Don’t Ignore These 3 Subtle Heart Attack Symptoms

6 Symptoms of Women’s Heart Attacks


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