Author Archives: AM Carley

Perfection, Schmection

Since publishing my first book, FLOAT • Becoming Unstuck for Writers, I’ve been learning so much on the topic. At the time, it felt arbitrary – my decision that the book was “done” enough to put out into the world – and now I can see how necessary that arbitrariness was. I’ll never really be “done.” If I’d waited for everything to be perfect, well, I’d still be waiting.

I’m still working with authors, coaching and editing and helping them develop their manuscripts. This means that they’re teaching me every day. Also, I’m still writing, and gaining the benefits of experience (not to mention valuable ongoing feedback from the writer group, BACCA, I’m lucky to be a part of for six years now).

Lately, preparing for a fall season of book events, I also decided to develop a deck of FLOAT Cards for Writers. The idea is that you can use them as a randomized guide for a given writing session. Pick a card, any card…get a bite-size source of inspiration – or intervention – to get the creative juices flowing.

I made a prototype of the card deck, and it’ll be coming with me in a few days, for a book event at Baine’s Books & Coffee, an independent bookstore in Scottsville, VA. I’ll see how people like using them!

FLOAT Cards Box top

Coming this fall!

Anyway, adapting materials from the book for such a different format and purpose got me thinking, once again, about how much room there is to expand on – or compress – the ideas in the book. As I was creating the deck of 52 cards, I was focusing on how to fold into the small space of a card (3 1/2 by 5 1/2 inches) the recent lessons and ideas I’ve accumulated over the months since FLOAT hit the marketplace.

I’ve begun to see that the tools I offer in FLOAT can, in a real sense, always be improved upon. And maybe that’s a good thing.

Perfection isn’t fruitful. Growth and potential are messier than that.

In order to go on living one must try to escape the death involved in perfectionism.
–Hannah Arendt

Becoming Unstuck and Writing about Becoming Unstuck

Here’s my recent post from BACCALiterary – the website of my writer group.

It’s a mixture of a little writing, a little publishing, a little politics. Stir and bake at 350F for 30 minutes.

OK maybe not that last part.


I recently published my first book. Well, the first book that I actually wrote. For work, I help authors get their books published on the regular. This was my own book though, which made the experience slightly different. Noting the differences between my experience of other people’s books and my own was meta enough, thank you, and yet there was a further complication.

The book I wrote is called FLOAT • Becoming Unstuck for Writers. Which presumes that I know a few things on the topic. That’s true. I’m glad to report that I still feel competent to have written it. The difficulties came when the process of launching this book encountered, well, stuckness. You know, the stuff I’m supposed to know about extricating from.

Things Happen

I want to paint an accurate picture. And to be sure, wonderful things happened. Some great opportunities arose, surprising me with bounties of time (a client needed to postpone our work, due to a personal emergency) and space (a last-minute chance to hide out at a writer’s retreat one long weekend enabled me to put the finishing touches on the manuscript before sending it to the copyeditor). Beta readers were generous and attentive and incredibly helpful. I rejoiced. This was going to work out fine! Even with a full-time job, I was going to be able to stick to my production schedule and get this puppy out in October, as planned.

Then the copyeditor also had an emergency. It was a critically serious one, and needed to be honored. As long as it took for things to get back on an even keel, that’s how long the delay would be.


Then the US political environment took an unexpected turn and I found myself grappling with past trauma I had not expected to need to look at any more in this lifetime. Time, effort, and therapy were required to deal with the reawakened monsters in the shadows. As long as it was going to take, I realized, that’s how long the delay would be. No negotiation was possible with myself on this stuff. I needed to feel safe walking down the street again before becoming capable of glad-handing strangers about the merits of my new book.

Releasing the book in October simply wasn’t going to happen. OK. I readjusted my sights, and planned for early- to mid-November.

More Politics

Speaking of the US political scene, during that timeframe, the news reported that a candidate had won the national election. Suddenly, releasing a book about becoming unstuck felt ridiculously insufficient. And besides, who was going to want to buy such a thing? As if a craft book for writers was going to make a difference to anyone. More reflection, more therapy, more conversations with trusted friends. A growing sense emerged that we each need to focus on doing what we do well, as the best form of resistance, to become forces for positive change. I wrapped my brain around that notion and decided to publish as soon as possible.

Indie Publication and Amazon

Independent publishers like my company often rely on the combined forces of CreateSpace and Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing – both parts of the Amazon empire – to take the completed book files and turn them into paperbacks (CreateSpace) and Kindle-compatible ebooks (KDP). So when CreateSpace delayed my publication date, and KDP refused to accept my formatted ebook file, a great welling of frustration, a sense of stuckness, you might call it, once again invaded my happy plans for book launch. In neither case was it a serious problem. Eventually, the paperback did become available (there had been a backlog of orders at CreateSpace), and the ebook file was accepted (KDP had changed its web form, so I needed to re-start the ebook setup process).



Four local authors: A M Carley (left) signs her book for Zack Bonnie (right) while Mary Buford Hitz and Bethany Carlson talk about publishing.

The book was available from Amazon by the last day of November, and I had plenty of copies on hand in time for my first book event, a soft-launch celebration as part of the twelve-author local writers holiday reception and signing at WriterHouse in Charlottesville, VA. And people bought copies of my book!

Instead of being bummed out that I missed my October launch date, I decided to focus on the New Year, and appeal to writers who need a boost so they start off January with energy and focus. I’m offering a free course for writers who buy the book. That way, they can create their own accomplishments and a-ha moments during the first month of 2017.

Lessons Learned

What have I learned from these periods of stuckness?

  • Stuckness happens.
  • “Circumstances beyond our control” can be affected by our behavior and attitude, anyway.
  • Sometimes the schedule must change. Accepting that reality can create new opportunities.
  • Putting one foot in front of the other, being doggedly purposeful, will often see you through to completion of the next step.
  • There’s always a next step.


This post is reproduced from where it originally appeared.


FLOAT Is Launching

Yep. After writing the book – which seems easy, looking back – come a whole lot of reminders about the business part of being an author.

Everyone who’s done it knows the sense of – huh? – that arises at the oddest times.

Like when you’re dropping off to sleep, or running an errand, or reading someone else’s book.


You get a thought about the marketing and promotion.

Did I return that phone call to the newspaper writer?

Did the web person get back to me?

Did I send the Amazon link out?

Oh, right. As to that last one, I want to share the direct link to Amazon where you can buy the paperback and ebook versions of my book, FLOAT • Becoming Unstuck for Writers.

Here ya go:


And if you find the book useful, do me a favor and put up a review – just a sentence is fine – at Amazon or your preferred book website. Reviews are what make the world go round for indie authors like me. Seriously.

Thanks for reading!


Author Book Fair in Charlottesville VA

Holiday Book Fair

I’m excited to be part of a pre-holiday book fair at WriterHouse, Charlottesville, VA on Sunday 4 December from 1 to 4pm. (WriterHouse is located behind the Preston Ave. Bodo’s Bagel shop, at 508 Dale Avenue, Charlottesville, VA 22902. Tel 434.296.1922)
Hard to believe, but that’s the weekend after Thanksgiving weekend. The holidays will be here sooner than seems possible!

Stop by on Sunday 4 December

Please drop by, chat with twelve authors, get copies signed for gifts – and for yourself – and check out the array of titles, from children’s books to adult fiction and nonfiction like mine. I’ll be signing books and chatting with everyone.

Making a New Year’s resolution to write more?

What better holiday gift – for yourself and the writers you know – than a book all about helping writers follow through on their intentions? I’m thrilled to be introducing this book at the WriterHouse event. So join the celebration and drop by!

Announcing my new book!

I’m going to be at the book fair with – ta-daah! – my new book, FLOAT • Becoming Unstuck for Writers. If you’re in the area, please stop by and say hello.

Festivity, books, conversation, & snacks

Charlottesville Author Book Fair Sunday 4 Dec 2016

Charlottesville Author Book Fair Sunday 4 Dec 2016

We’re conspiring to provide snacks and beverages for adults as well as children. There’s going to be a kids’ room where children can play and check out the books meant especially for them.
I anticipate a festive time for all.

Know any writers?

Even if you’ve got your copy, consider picking up extra copies of FLOAT to give to the other writers in your life this holiday season. I’ll be ready to sign them all. And if you’re in another part of the world, get in touch, se we can get a signed copy headed your way!

She made this possible!

Novelist Carolyn O'Neal

Carolyn O’Neal

Special thanks to Carolyn O’Neal, author of the dystopian ecofiction novel Kingsley, who organized this event at WriterHouse. I have insider knowledge, as a member of the same writer group, that she’s already hard at work on the next book in the series….
Happy holidays!