Thursday, September 1, 2011

A Word a Day Keeps Illiteracy Away!

Today's word - Colloquial

A contact of mine used this word in an email he sent me. I've heard the word but never thought to look up the meaning. Today, I'm doing that! Here it is.

Colloquial: Characteristic of or appropriate to ordinary or familiar conversation rather than formal speech or writing; informal

So, there you have it. Now you know what colloquial is. Maybe I'll use that one in a conversation today.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Action Packed Scenes

Last week, from Wednesday to Friday, I wrote about 4,600 words in my novel. WOOHOO!!!!! I felt like celebrating. The best part about it? It was easy, so easy. I started writing and a few hours later, BAM, 3,000 words. For some writers this is probably no big thing. For me, it is a big thing. Sometimes I slow myself down by agonizing over just the right word. Other times I just can't seem to figure out where my characters are going. But I knew where they were going last week so it was a simple thing to write that. 

There's another reason it was so easy, and this is the reason I want to talk about today. The scenes I was writing were action. Let me explain: In my novel the character has a jerk for a boyfriend. He's very obsessive. She's done with him but he isn't done with her. He decides he wants her, come hell or high water, and he's going to have her. So, what does he do? Well, he attacks her. And he's mean, not caring if he kills her. Yae! That's my kind of scene! Not because he's brutally violent but because there's a lot going on so it's a lot easier to write. And, because there's so much action, there are about a million adjectives that I can use to describe said action. If my character's are being chased in a scene, I can write like crazy. If they're having a beautiful romantic moment (yes, I'm a sucker for romance), I can breeze through the scene with a happy grin on my face because there's so much going on.
That being said, when I get to what I call a filler scene, I slug through it. If there's advice out there for stopping this, please share! These scenes are not really fillers. They're scenes that keep the novel moving, reveal more of the plot, teach the character something. I'd love to do all of this with crazy action scenes, but I think if I had a book that was only action, eventually I'd be bored to tears with action.
And the scenes aren't sluggish. There is stuff happening, but it's just not action-packed or love-packed or drama-packed. It's two characters, one major and one minor (though the minor has important info that needs to be shared) sitting at a desk or conversing over a cup of coffee or breakfast. They're sitting, not doing much, but through the dialogue important plot elements are introduced. This is how I do it. I think it gives the book a certain ebb and flow that's necessary for the advancement of any novel. The reader gets hit with emotion then gets a moment to calm down before the next emotional element is introduced. This, in my opinion, sets the pace of the story. It lets the reader know the character is safe or unsafe, happy or sad, losing or winning. As the conflict for the character increases, so do the emotional scenes. They get more frequent and more gripping. Like a woman in labor, the novel progresses, getting more and more intense, until the climax (birth) and then the calm comes. So, that's how I do it. I'd love love love to hear the opinions of other writers out there. How do you do it? How do your filler scenes work (I'm sure there's a better name for them then that, but oh well)? What type of scenes do you breeze through because they're so easy?

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Keep Going Even When it Hurts

Remember how I said that part of following a passion or goal is getting yourself in a good place emotionally? Yeah, I wasn't kidding. Unfortunately, you can't always avoid those drops that stick you in the black hole. The trouble is, once you're there, digging yourself back out of that hole usually seems impossible. For me, it's like trying to climb up walls of soft dirt so every move up the wall crumbles beneath me and I slide back down. Sound familiar? I hope not.
Guess what, the hole sucked me up today. Hi hole, how are you? Oh, you're deep today. Nice.
Fortunately, I do this often enough that I've learned a few tricks to pulling myself out. The sucky part is that I haven't yet learned how to stay out of the darn hole. It seems to like me.
Anyway, here's what I've learned.
  • 1. Don't allow yourself to stay in 'the hole'. If you throw a pity party, you're never leaving. Usually that's what I want to do. Sit down and give up, tell the hole he won. But if you do this, he really does win and you end up miserable. If you must throw a pity party, make it quick then get your butt in gear!
  • 2. Don't listen to the hole. Okay, so I sound crazy. There isn't a hole and it most definitely doesn't talk. But the hole is a mindset and it's a very mean, brutal, nasty mindset. It likes to make you feel like crap. It's very good at making you feel like crap. So what is it telling you? Well, it usually tells me that I am really bad at what I'm trying to do (Okay, it tells me I suck). That usually morphs into telling me I'm an awful mom and the worst housewife ever. Then it gets worse. It starts telling me to give up because it's all pointless anyway. What's the use in trying when every time it gets better it usually follows that it gets worse? Give up. Quit. Be done with it all. Stop dreaming. Stop living. You'll be better off. Ouch. Whack. Thump. Smash. Crack. The words beat against my resolve. STOP!!!!!! I finally scream. Get out! I don't want you here!
  • 3. Which leads me to my third point. Do the opposite of whatever the nasty little hole is telling you to do. If it's telling you to quit, don't! If it's tells you to give up, try harder. If it tells you to be done with it all, power through it and keep going! Because, inevitably, you will rise from this hole and you will get back to a place where you can think rationally again. Those screaming voices will fade until they become just an annoying hum in the background.
  • 4. Surround yourself with the positive. I know I keep saying this, but it's the best way I know to improve something that's really difficult. If you're focusing on all the negatives in your life, you're going to get a lot of negative. Trust me. I know. I do this. But I've learned that when I really focus on the positive I can view life in a better light and good things just seem to come my way. My problem is that once I'm in a good place, I forget to keep up the positive and the negative slowly comes back. Then guess what happens? Yep. The hole opens its gaping mouth and I fall in. So surround yourself with the positive! Fill your head with positive phrases, thank God daily for all the positive, wonderful things in your life. If you can't find any, then thank him for your health and the ability to breathe. Stick affirmations all over your house, things like I love who I am and I love being me or My life is filled with joy. Whatever you want to be, those are the thoughts that need to fill your head.
When you get back to a positive place, it's so much easier to see your goals and passions as achievable things, so do everything you can to get there. Don't let the hole win. I won't. I'm going to keep going today. And eventually I'll win my fight with 'the hole' and I won't slide into it anymore. Until then, I will move forward because that's what I do.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Negativity in Life and Valuing Yourself

Part of following a passion or pursuing a goal is getting yourself in an emotional place where you can pursue what you want to. Every day we all experience hundreds of emotions. Most of them aren't great variations from what we're used to, so we don't notice them, but some throw themselves in our path and change the course of that path. Sometimes that's a good thing and sometimes it's a bad thing. It's a good thing when the emotion that threw itself in your way is a strong positive emotion. It changes your course, but it changes it for the better and, because it was positive, it was a change you feel like you had a choice in. Negative emotions, however, seem to do the opposite. They plop their nasty little Jabba the Hutt bodies in our path and we feel forced to vary. We don't decide. We respond, and usually the response isn't something we're happy with.
So, our goals and passions are constantly influenced by our emotions. If we live all the time in a world of negativity, we will respond to everything and our dreams for ourselves will be influenced, changed, and sometimes gotten rid of altogether. This is why I say that you have to get yourself in a good emotional place. Pursuing a passion when you're depressed is a very challenging thing. You constantly second-guess yourself, you constantly wonder if you're just crazy or stupid, you wonder if it's even the right thing for you or if you're just selfish for trying to achieve something for yourself. You fill your head with negative thoughts and they become the quicksand sucking you away from your dreams.
On the flip side, if you can get yourself to a place where most of your thoughts are positive, where you have learned to let go of the negative, then the goals and passions become clear. You're not second guessing yourself or wondering if you're just an idiot for trying. That positive emotional place gives you clarity to know exactly what you're pursuing, why you're pursuing it, and how you can achieve it.
So the obvious question that follows is how do you get to that place? Honestly, I don't spend all of my time there yet so I don't know the exact path. I get there sometimes. I've experienced it. But I'm constantly fighting to stay there, simply because I've been in the negative for so long that now I think my body and mind are comfortable there. Yikes!!!!!! Still, there is one way that should work great, and that is to change your mindset. When you think a negative thought, replace it with a positive one. Instead of berating yourself for all of your supposed failures, praise yourself for your talents. Try to see yourself as God sees you, and you'll learn to live in a more positive place. I'm not saying this is easy, because it's a daily struggle for me, but I do believe it's entirely possible and I have seen a huge improvement in my life since I started trying to see myself differently. Why not choose to see yourself in the best way possible? If you saw yourself as your father in heaven sees you, think about what you could achieve! Why do we not achieve our goals? Mostly because we think we're not worth it, we feel stupid for trying, or we feel stupid for failing a few times and we give up. All of these are simply ways we don't take value in ourselves. So change your value in yourself. See yourself as valuable, treat yourself as if you are your most valuable possession, because you are, and maybe those positive changes will begin to take place.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Kathryn Stockett

I get emails from Writer's Digest. I wait for the weekly email that contains little tibits of writing advice, some of which I take into account, some of which I ignore. This week I followed a few links and found this story of Kathryn Stockett. Now, I've never read "The Help" but I like the advice she's giving: keep going even when nobody else has faith in you. I've said it before and I'll say it again. Perseverance is the key to any passion! Kathryn Stockett persevered and now her perseverance has paid off. Good for her!

Here is the link to the story I found --Kathryn Stockett's Story

Friday, August 12, 2011

Emotional Involvement

There are a lot of elements that have to come together in order to create a good story. You have to have compelling characters, you have to have a plot that actually goes somewhere, you have to have scenes and events that unfold at a quick pace, and you have to infuse your story with emotion. This may be the most important part of the story. If you don't get your readers emotionally involved, you won't get a story that works. It's like baking bread but forgetting the yeast. Without the yeast, bread won't rise. Without the emotions, your story will fall flat.

Think about all the stories you've ever read. Which were your favorites? Which stand out most in your head? Which ones can you not forget about? Better yet, which ones had your blood pumping and your heart racing? Which ones left you peeking behind your shoulder looking for the villain? Which ones left you sobbing in a ball on your couch while the characters dealt with a loss of some kind? I'd be willing to bet the ones that stand out are the ones that got you emotionally entangled with the story.

When you're a writer, it's extremely important to remember emotions. Look at the difference in these scenes by adding a few emotions....

"You're leaving me?" John asked.
"Yes," Anna confirmed.
Anna glanced away, "Well, I'm looking for different things than you are. The life I have with you isn't the life I want."
John was silent. "Oh," he finally said. "Then I can't fight that."
"No. I'm sorry John." Anna turned and walked away.
All John could do was watch her go.

Okay, that's a scene. You get the picture. You feel kinda bad for John, but you don't really get the depth of it. So, here it is again with a little more emotion....

"You're leaving me?" John asked. The words felt like a vise, squeezing his heart. His chest throbbed painfully.
"Yes," Anna confirmed, looking away. She couldn't look at him, knowing she was breaking him.
"Why?" he choked.
She sighed, "I'm looking for different things than you are, John. The life I have with you isn't the life I want."
John was silent, heartbroken. His chest constricted as he fought back the pain that threatened to crush his heart. He couldn't make her stay. He couldn't change anything to make it better for her. His hands were tied. "Oh," he finally managed. "Then I can't fight that."
"No," she smiled softly, tears in her eyes, and touched his arm. "I'm sorry John. I really am." She turned and walked away, leaving John staring after her, broken and helpless.

So that was scene two. In my opinion, you feel more for John after reading scene two. Of course, sometimes the simple scenes work better. But, still, emotion. You have to get emotion in a scene otherwise it just won't work! So the question that comes up is obvious: how do you get emotion in a scene? In my writing I've found that the best way to do it is to put myself in the character's shoes, try to feel exactly what they're feeling, and then put that on paper. I visualize. I close my eyes and imagine myself as the character. How would she feel physically and emotionally? How would she react? I've found that this technique really helps me discover what emotions and feelings need to be in the scene. This works so well, in fact, that the scenes I find easiest to write are those that are emotionally charged. If my character is sad, scared, lost, upset, or any reaction that draws out strong emotions, I'll write the whole thing, thousands of words, and it'll take me hardly any time at all. Without the emotions, I drag through a scene trying to make it work. Emotions are key both for you and your reader!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

The Hourglass Door Trilogy

A couple years back I wrote a post on a book called The Hourglass Door. Well, I finally bought and finished the trilogy. I have to say, I enjoyed them. I'm glad I bought them because they're going to end up in my rotation of books I read every year or every couple of years. I'm okay with that.

At the end of The Hourglass Door I was completely hanging. Lisa Mangum cut it off at such a point that you know there's more story and you're slightly irritated that you don't have it right there in front of you to continue with. It took me two years to get the remaining books. First, because they weren't written when I read The Hourglass Door and second, because I had a really hard time finding the books, which was strange because the first book they sold in Costco. I picked it up on a grocery shopping trip. Needless to say, I have been wondering what happened to Abby and Dante since I read the first book.

Here's the good part. The first book was good, but it was very young adult. Still, I enjoyed it. It was a good story with a sweet romance. I love that. The second and third books continued on with the romance, but they had more depth to the story. Actually, I think a better way of putting it would be that the knife hanging over the character's heads (metaphor, obviously) was far more drastic. The problem they had to face was huge and complicated for the characters and that greatly improved the storyline. So, I liked two and three even more than I liked the first, and I liked the first one better after reading it a second time around. So that's great!

Anyway, I'm not going to give away the story here. You'll just have to read them! But I will tell you a couple of details:
  • Abby is in high school. She's trying to make choices based on what she wants and not on what everybody expects of her.
  • Dante is Italian. He's trying to make adjustments to a life that was thrown on him by outside sources, a life that no one would ever expect to have.
  • Zo has been put in a situation he's not happy with, but he is determined to twist it into something that gives him unlimited power
  • And last, I hope you like time travel because that's what these books are all about.
Oh, and for those of you who like to get your copies signed by the author, Lisa Mangum is doing a book tour through Salt Lake City and the surrounding areas. I'm sure she'd love it if you showed up.
Here are the Tour Dates

Saturday, July 30, 2011

A Secret Hidden in Plain Sight

Poor Jenny! I should probably finish her story! I really have no idea where I'm taking her though, so this should be interesting... If you want to go back to the beginning and read her story, head on over to the story links page. You'll find links to the other posts there.

For three weeks Jenny studied the key. She turned it over and over searching for anything that could be a possible clue to its purpose. There was nothing. It was a key, but it was a key to nothing.
After three weeks of frustration she dropped the key into the drawer of her nightstand and swore she'd forget about it, and forget about the night in the cemetery. That wasn't a memory worth holding anyway.
But she couldn't forget about it. She went to bed and dreamed about it. It was the first thing she thought about in the morning. The cemetery and the key haunted her thoughts. The key and the cemetery. The cemetery and the key. With a flash of clarity, it clicked into the place. The cemetery and the key were two halves to a whole. She'd find the answer at the cemetery.
Jenny was too frightened to go at night, after her last experience at the cemetery, so she waited until the sun was high overhead, at its brightest point. Maybe, without the shadows, that overwhelming fear would stay away.
The cemetery in the sunlight was quiet. It didn't look like the same cemetery. Still, the moment Jenny stepped through the gate, she felt a shift, a change. Something wasn't right. She hovered just inside the gate, clutching the key in her pocket. Did she dare continue? Her mind screamed at her to run. Her heart told her if she did, she'd always regret it. Swallowing hard, she stepped away from the gate, making a beeline for Alex's headstone. Your answer lies with Alex... The words replayed in her mind. With Alex.
A minute later she stood in front of his headstone, gazing down at the smooth stone. "My answer lies with Alex." She said the words out loud, as if somehow hearing them would make it more real. She walked around the stone, searching for anything out of place. She ran her hand along the smooth surface, hoping to find a notch or a crevasse. Anything that could hide a secret. Nothing.
Just before she turned to go she saw it, the anomaly she was hoping for. The stone had the typical words engraved on it, words she'd told them to write. His name, date of birth, date of death, and the words... "I'll always love you" beneath them all. But barely visible beneath the "L" in love the stone was a different color, a darker shade then the rest. The reason she noticed was because the color was in the shape of a keyhole.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

What I've Learned

When I started writing three years ago I had an idea of what I was doing, but I didn't know everything. I still don't know everything.
But I knew the basics. Here's what I did know:
1. I enjoyed it.
2. Writing was easy for me (I mean writing in general, coming up with a plot for a novel was a different story altogether).
3. I had a good grasp on grammar and spelling (English was always my strong point).
4. I knew what a book needed to have in order to be a good book. I'd known since I was ten (would you like to know? The best books I've ever read had four key elements: Drama, Suspense, Romance, and Action. If the author is really good he'll incorporate comedy as well, but that's not a necessary component).
So that's what I knew when I started. The basics. Now, three years later, I've learned a lot more. What have I learned to add to it? Here goes:
1. Romance is a necessary component for me. It isn't for men. They'd rather that be kept to a minimum. Drama, Suspense, and Action will still make a GREAT book.
2. A good book has a certain rhythm to it. It flows easily from one sentence to the next. Writing is as much about words as it is about cadence. A well-written book flows as smoothly as poetry.
3. All you have to do is start. Once you do, the creative juices will start flowing!
4. Writer's block is mean, mean, mean! It'll trip me up for months. I should follow my own advice (see number three).
5. Practice really does make perfect. My writing style when I started was influenced by the writing style of the book I was reading at the time. Now, I'm discovering my style. It took time, but it was worth it!
6. Perfection probably won't come the first time, but persistance leads to perfection.
7. Persistance is key. Just keep going! I don't care what goal you're working toward. Persistance is key!
8. It helps to have a cheering section, even if that cheering section is just you.
9. Everybody has advice. Do this. Do that. Don't do this. Don't break that rule. I'm glad the info is out there, but sometimes, rules are made to be broken.
10. I have a dark side, but it's not that dark. What does that mean? Well, I'll tell you. I can write about characters getting stabbed or hurt. I can write about murder and mayhem. But you won't get dirty details. I don't want to be in the mind of a murderer, so I don't write about what he's thinking. I find books like that very disturbing. That being said, I can go dark. I can. In my current novel I have a crazed murderer who really wants everybody dead. I have an obsessed boyfriend who just wants her, dead or alive, doesn't really matter. Maybe he'll just kill her. I can go there, but I won't go in the mind, and you probably won't get details so violent you end up wishing you'd never read it. I've read books like that. I don't like them. I want to feel good after I've finished a book, not like I need to go take a shower. A really good book doesn't need all those freaky details. Some, yeah. You want to know what's going on. But not excessive. Dan Brown is a good example. He gives enough freaky details that you know what's going on, but not so many that you're disturbed. Patricia Cornwell, on the other hand, is not afraid to go disturbing. And I've read worse than that from authors that I honestly hope never get that particular book published because the writing is so disturbing.
11. Last. If you want to write a good book, you're going to need to get emotionally invested. You have to, otherwise your characters can't come to life. They'll fall flat because they'll be lacking the emotional base. And that is why I don't like disturbing books. Because the author had to go there in his mind in order to get the disturbing detail and that thought always leaves me wondering what is really going on in their world and in their mind. I'm assuming I don't really want to know.

That, my friends, is some of what I've learned over the past three years. I'm sure over the next three I'll learn a lot more.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Passion: An Explanation

If you look up the word passion in the dictionary, you'll get a definition similar to this: any powerful or compelling emotion or feeling, as in love and hate. That will be the first definition. The other two definitions you'll see have to do with love and lust. When people think of passion, most of the time they equate it with love or lust, basically with relationships to people. I used to see it that way. In fact, if I remember correctly (it's been a while since my thought processes have changed), I used to view passion in a negative. The thought process I had went something like this: Passion = strong emotion = carnal desire or the carnal mind in control = wicked.
Here's how I view passion now. It can't be done in ='s however. More in lead to's. So here's my lead to ">". Passion > enthusiasm > goals > accomplishment > greater self-worth > loving the self > loving others > God. That may even be a loop because I believe God is the creator of true passion. So, looking at is as a loop it would look like this: God (loving God, serving God, trying to live for God... however you want to look at it) > passion > enthusiasm > goals > accomplishment > greater self-worth > loving the self > loving others > God.
God starts it, God ends it. Passion, when used to better yourself, which in turn betters the lives of others, is a positive. It's a good thing.
Like any good there's always the bad, so passion can be used for the negative. The passion of lust can destroy relationships, the passion of hate can destroy lives. But just because passion has a negative, doesn't mean it is wrong altogether. Everything has a negative. Everything has an opposite. Does that mean everything is wrong?
When you pursue a passion, chances are you're going to come to a point where you question what you're doing and whether or not you should be doing it. I know I questioned it... a lot. Maybe I wasn't supposed to be a writer. Maybe I'm just supposed to be a mom and wife and be okay with that. I've tried that path though, and I sink into depression because I don't feel like a person. I feel like "wife" and "mom", not me. I kinda like to be me.
So, when you start to question, pull back a bit and examine your passion. Ask yourself why. That's the best place to start. Why are you pursuing that particular passion? If the answer is only money, you might want to look deeper, because I personally don't believe that's enough. Money can be an off-shoot, but it's not the desire of a true passion. What do you really want? Why are you choosing that particular way to get it? I can only use myself as an example, but I will. What I really want is to better the lives of others, in any way that I can. I want to use the gifts I've been given to make the lives of other people better. That is my ultimate goal. Why did I choose writing to do this? Because I love it. Because when I write I feel something in me that wakes up and smiles. Because I love to use my mind and see the creative side come to life. Because words literally give me joy. Sounds crazy, I know, but they do. I love words. They make me happy. Like rainbows make other people happy, words make me happy. So I want to achieve my ultimate goal doing something that I absolutely love. If you pull back and examine your passion, chances are you'll feel something similar. You'll find the real reason you're pursuing that passion and the real reason you chose that particular passion. Man is that he might have joy. I believe passion has a role to play in bringing us joy, especially when we channel that passion into something that benefits others.

Sunday, July 17, 2011


So we all know I have goals. Lots of them. What I don't have are smaller goals that will help me achieve the bigger goals. I'm pretty sure everybody knows my goal is to be a published author. I'm pretty sure everybody knows I'm going to achieve that goal one way or another... well, maybe that's just me. Anyway, I have these huge goals, but I don't have a plan of action to achieve these goals. I'm working toward them, absolutely, but it's a piecemeal effort. I do a little here, a little there, and I hope that eventually I'll get where I'm going. So, to cite an example, I've been working on my novel for three years now. Three years. That's a long time. I actually finished it five months after I started it, but then the edits started, and then, when I had edited it to my liking, I began the querying and agent hunting. I was moving forward. But then I hit a brick wall. A big, fat brick wall. My life threw me a huge curve ball (and when I say huge, I do mean huge), and I ended up really questioning what I really wanted. I couldn't look at the book for a year. I couldn't write anything for myself for at least a year. I wrote articles that I sold, but those were challenging. Writing became a burden rather than the joy it had been. I didn't know if it was worth it anymore, not after what life had just handed me.
Eventually, I began to feel like I could do it again. Here's the part where the little goals that I should have come in. I re-read my novel and realized that it needed some serious work. It was too generic, too blase, too predicable, too everything. It needed some improvements! I decided to improve. That was months ago. I'm still improving. I know where I'm taking it, but the challenge to write is still there. I love it. The dream is back, but unfortunately the challenge that it became hasn't left yet. So I write a couple hundred words a week, or every two weeks. No wonder it's not going anywhere! If I were smart, I'd have weekly or daily goals of three to five hundred words. Those are small goals, tiny really, but they'd get me moving forward. They'd get the book finished. Small goals... kind of imperative. I haven't yet made the committment to do that, but I'd like to.
Anyway, this is a new lesson I'm learning in following your passion. You have to have smaller goals that will help you achieve the big goal, otherwise the big goals will take forever to come to fruition, if it comes to fruition at all. Get those small goals going. Put some value on your goals and yourself and see where it takes you.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Road Blocks

Following your passion isn't a simple matter of making a choice and doing it. It is making a choice. But after you make the choice, you're going to come across a lot of road blocks. It's the nature of the beast.
That sounds really negative, but in the grand scheme of things, it's a blessing. Those road blocks are there for a lot of reasons. One, they help you decide whether or not the thing you're pursuing is really a passion and worth pursuing. Two, they help you truly define the goal because you learn through them what you really want and what it is you just think you want. And three, they teach you... a lot! They teach you what you need to know to remain constant while all of your dreams are being realized. For example: how many lottery winners are now broke? They achieved their dream (winning the lottery), but they didn't have the experiences before achieving the dream that would teach them how to handle the dream, so they lost it. You are who you are. Sometimes in order to achieve the goals you're seeking, you have to become a stronger, better you. These road blocks teach you how to do that. Just remember, a goal worth pursuing will change you for the better!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Fear sets in

As soon as I discovered the joy of writing, I started to see myself achieving all these wonderful goals using the writing skills I'd recently uncovered. Most notably, I wanted to be a published author. I still want to be a published author. And I still intend to be a published author. But, wanting something and achieving something are two different things. You can want it all you want, but it doesn't just show up. You have to work toward it. You have to fight for it. You have to power through those days when you just want to give up. A goal worth achieving isn't a goal that just happens. It's a goal that you sweat over, fight over, and cry over because in the end, if you haven't really worked for what you want, than you're not going to recognize or appreciate the value of the dream.

I learned this lesson with my writing. Since my goal is to be a published author, I began researching everything I could about getting published. Oh my! What I learned was so intimidating it was tempting to just take the easy road and back out. Do my writing, write my novels, but not push the publishing thing. It sounded like a lot of scary stuff that I knew absolutely nothing about. Writing a synopsis. Querying an agent. Landing an agent. Making sure the agent wasn't scamming me. Not giving away the farm to a publisher by signing a contract that I don't understand. Those are all road blocks. Worse, everywhere you read everybody says the same thing. Your opening chapter has to be strong or else the agents and editors will never look past the first paragraph! Hook them with your opening line on the query! You have three hundred words to suck them in. Do it right! A synopsis can only be so long; sum your entire 250 page (or more) book into five pages! Write your author bio (I'm thinking, what author bio! I don't have one!!!), build yourself a platform! Don't get stuck in the slush pile!!!!!! And the worst... you know how many authors have tried and failed? Thousands.
Talk about a slap in the face. My reaction... AHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!! Have I just decided to jump into the one occupation on earth that is nearly impossible to get into? Again, AHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!! Months into it, I'd bombarded myself with so much information I ended up gulping in fear and seriously rethinking my goals. Did I really want what I thought I wanted? And you know what, the answer was I don't know. I really, really don't know. I decided I'd keep going anyway. I knew I loved to write. I knew it made me happy. So, at the very least, I was going to write. I'd work for the other stuff when I came to it.
There were a few key factors that I took into consideration when I first faltered in my dream. First, my husband had become my cheering section. I'd told him what I wanted and he wanted to see me do it. This was both a good and a bad thing. It was good because I had his support. It was bad because my confidence in myself was so low, that I was afraid he'd see me as a failure if I never published anything. I realize now that he wouldn't, but at the time (three years ago), I couldn't see that. So I had this huge fear of failing... again... at something I'd tried (I'd tried to sell Mary Kay, and I'd taken some courses on medical transcription. I didn't do either of them well. Turns out, they weren't my passion). I couldn't stand to think that he saw me as a failure. So because of that I allowed the fear in, which seriously hindered me in my path. Fear is not a motivator; it kills motivation. And I had let it in. This was my own personal demon which I had to overcome. He had no part in it. He did his best to cheer me on, to build me up with visions of my own dreams. He did a great job. But that fear seriously slowed me down, though, in a strange way, it also kept me going. Fear is not a motivator, but I couldn't stop when my dream faltered because I couldn't stand to fail. So, it did keep me going, though probably not in the best way.
The second thing that kept me going was that I saw myself where I wanted to be. They say if you want something to see yourself there. To feel the emotions you'll experience when you get there. It'll cement the thing in your future and give you the drive to push for it. I had done this. It wasn't on purpose, it just happened. I could see myself (still can) achieving my dreams. I really could. So that helped keep me focused.
After a few months, when the fears began seeping in, I began to question what I really wanted. This would go on for a while.
But, it's all part of the process. I repeat: It's all part of the process!!!! Without the fears, how will you learn to overcome, how will you learn to appreciate what you have and gain, and how will you be strong enough to handle what you want when you get it?

Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Beginning

I discovered I loved writing after I read Stephenie Meyer's Twilight series (not number four, however, because it wasn't out yet). I read the books, loved the books, bought the books and then thought, "If she can do it, why can't I?"
I'd always wanted to write a novel; it was on my list of goals for myself. And I'd tried a few different times to do it, but I just couldn't seem to pull it off. Something changed after reading those books. I'm not even sure what it was, but I knew that I could do it. So, I did. I sat down to my computer, stuck my fingers on the keys... and sat there. And sat there. And sat there. What do I write? I asked myself. Where do I start? I asked myself. I had no idea. So I sat.
Obviously, that wasn't working. Thinking maybe I needed some inspiration, I turned on some music, the kind that "spoke" to me, as it were. FYI, the song was "Rainsong" by George Winston. One of my favorites.
Anyway, music plays and guess what happens? Magic. I start writing, and writing, and writing, and writing. Five months later I had finished my first novel. But, more than that, my journey had begun. I was beginning to learn what it means to dream, what it means to have passion, and what it takes to pursue both.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Quest

I started this blog more than two years ago as a creative writing outlet. The goal then was to give people a place where they could go to find fiction stories that were new and fresh. It was also a way for me to improve my writing skill; by doing something often, you get better at it. Obviously my initial goal never came to fruition. Updating the same story daily didn't really work for me becuse more often than not, I would sit down to update and end up staring at a blank page with absolutely no idea what I was going write. Not a good thing. So I decided to change things up.
When I started writing a little over three years ago I didn't know that I was starting a journey. All I knew was that I'd discovered something I loved to do, and that I was going to do it. But so much has happened since that discovery that I have become a completely different person. You may be wondering why. Well, once I found my passion I realized that I had goals and dreams that I wanted to achieve. I learned the value of dreaming, of pushing for things that I never realized were possible, of learning that things really are possible. I learned the true feeling of passion and I learned how important it is to truly value yourself. These are only some of what I've discovered and it hasn't only been through my writing journey, but since writing is so tied to my life, the lessons learned all come through and are affected by it. So this blog has changed like I have changed. It's now about the journey and my passion. It's about learning and growing and developing who you are as a person. It's about the struggles that come up and what it takes to overcome them. Since writing is my passion, it's about writing as well. Anything and everything I can think of that might relate to writing may just end up on here. I don't know where this blog will take me and I don't know where my journey will take me, but I hope that through my journey and this blog I can help other people achieve the goals they've set for themselves and ultimately, their dreams.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A New Path

Look at the object. Learn the secrets. The small voice didn't stay small for long. After fleeing the cemetery and screeching onto a street with light, Jenny's fear began to dissipate and logic slowly set in. The creature in the cemetery had been nothing but a man. Her senses had simply been heightened by the dark, the cold, and her own emotions getting the better of her.
Look at the object. Learn the secrets. The thought grew in intensity. Learn the secrets. She glanced onto the seat where she had tossed the object. Glittering in the streetlight was an iron key. The design matched those of keys forged hundreds of years before, but the key itself gleamed as bright as a newly minted quarter.
Jenny parked her car in front of Alicia's apartment, picking the key up and turning it over and over in her hands, looking for any clue that it might reveal. The only thing she learned was that it was very heavy, heavier than it should have been for iron. There were no markings, no engravings. For the cryptic way it had been delivered, Jenny had been sure there would be a cryptic clue somewhere. But there was nothing. Frustrated, Jenny pocketed the key and hurried into Alicia's apartment. The storm was rising in intesity, rain pelted the street, the windows, her bare head as she rushed to the door. It beat on the ceiling, sounding like millions of tiny drummers all trying to out-beat the others. It was going to be a long night.