Shit—Life—Happens

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“Shit happens” is a common phrase used to express the concept that unfortunate things in life are unavoidable. But rather than simply state, “life is full of unpredictable events,” it is more satisfying to utter this more vulgar phrase.

While I’m not clear on who coined the phrase, I do know it was first introduced to print by Connie Eble in 1983.

The 1994 movie Forrest Gump takes creative license in giving fictional character Forrest Gump all of the credit. In one scene, he runs into dog droppings while on a jog across country. When a man in the bumper sticker business points it out, Forrest replies, “It happens,” to which the man asks “What, shit?” and Forrest answers “Sometimes.” The very next shot shows a car slamming into another. And do you know what the bumper sticker says? “Shit Happens.”

Personally, I would never display such a vulgar phrase on my personal vehicle, but I would use it to summarize the theme of my birthday party weekend, which didn’t go according to plan.

For starters, when I walked into the gym on Thursday to go for a swim, staff informed me that the large pool was closed due to their being literal shit in the pool. Literally. Shit in the pool. Desperate for a workout, I lapped the kiddy pool about a hundred times. Needless to say, I did not get a good workout in before my party weekend.

Then on Friday, as my sister and I were packing for our 2-day mini-vacation, my dog has a seizure. After canceling our hotel reservations, we took the dog to the vet. She did not come home with us.

Not even an hour after I said goodbye to my dog, my nephew’s grandmother calls, saying he’s sick. Just in time for his birthday party.

Then the morning of, roughly an hour before Rylee’s big party, Walmart calls to inform us that they can’t make our cake because the image we requested infringes upon their “copyright policy.” Well, thanks for letting us know the day of, and heaven forbid he let one more cake slide. So we’re scrambling to get cupcakes before the party, because who the heck doesn’t offer cake at a party?

Let me remind you this little boy has had a hell of a year with his grandmother passing away and his many medical issues. All we wanted to do was throw him this awesome birthday party.

And did we accomplish it? Yes we did. Surprisingly enough.

For starters, we didn’t tell him the dog passed away. She’s “at the vets” until after school starts. We also distracted him with the decorations, which blew his mind, as well as a surprise visitor, a storm trooper from the emphasis 501st Legion. Needless to say he had a great time.

Oh, and by the way, the cupcakes were delicious.

Now that I’m thinking about it, the phrase “shit happens” doesn’t actually describe my weekend. I think the phrase “life happens” is more accurate. Don’t get me wrong, putting my dog down was total shit, but death and saying goodbye is just a part of life. Don’t I know it. Three months ago I said goodbye to my mom. And on Tuesday, my sister and I will say goodbye to our twenties and the remainder of our childhood.

Even though a lot of shit happened this week, my sister and I were still able to bring it together for Rylee. At least his birthday turned out to be a success. What else can you do when shit—life—happens?

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Life Needs More Velociraptor Riding a Shark While Firing a Machine Gun and Holding a Lit Stick of Dynamite Kind of Moments

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Yawn. It’s Monday again, and the start of yet another work week. I’m sitting at my desk feeling uninspired and somewhat morose despite copious amounts of coffee. All of the excitement surrounding my book release has all but dissipated, resulting in a no-sales week. And with all the snow, I couldn’t even get my nephew out this weekend to do anything fun. And now it’s back to the grind. Sigh.

And I’m sitting here at my desk, bored as I’ll get out, thinking, life needs more velociraptor riding a shark while firing a machine gun and holding a lit stick of dynamite kind of moments to keep things interesting.

Don’t you agree?

It’s hard to stay inspired when nothing truly inspirational ever happens. Those brief excursions only fuel us for a little while, leaving us craving more diversion from the daily routine. Too much redundancy is bad for the creative mind, which demands stimulation in order to achieve great works of art.

So, what’s to be done? Well, for starters, don’t except the shark to come crashing through your office window. You’re going to have to go out there and make your own velociraptor-shark moments.

So grab your shark, your machine gun, and your lit stick of dynamite and get out of the house. Go to a local event, register for a contest, take up a new hobby, or ride that shark around your local Walmart–whatever it takes to add a little spice to your work week. I, for one, will be calling my local radio stations and coffee shops this week to see about marketing opportunities for my book. I’ll also be out shopping for St. Patty’s Day decorations since I’m hosting a party this year. If I’m still not amused, I’ll get on the Indiana Comic Con site to psyche myself up for the event. Maybe I should see if any midget wrestlers or Chippendales dancers are coming to Kokomo anytime soon. Whatever I do, it just needs to be at least half as exciting as a velociraptor riding a shark with weapons in both hands.

Hope your week is more exciting than mine. See you again on Wednesday!

Author Do’s and Don’ts and Why You Shouldn’t Try to Please Everyone

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Do this! Don’t do that! With so much conflicting advice, it’s easy for authors to feel discombobulated

There’s a lot of advice going around the blogosphere from people who are more or less experts on the subject of writing. For an upcoming author, this can be a little overwhelming especially when the advice isn’t congruent. I know, I know, I’ve posted my share of author do’s and don’ts, but for the record, I’m pretty consistent with my advice. No one’s perfect, I get that, but here are some pointers and their counterpoints that are driving me nuts!

  • Do write a book with the reader in mind. You’re not writing the book for yourself.
  • Don’t expect anyone to read it.

What the heck! Isn’t that the whole purpose of writing, to share it with readers?

  • Do invest in quality covers and professional editing. Don’t skimp on quality.
  • Don’t charge too much for your book. Give it away for $.99 or less. It’s not about making money.

If making money isn’t important why are we trying to entice readers with fancy book covers? If the reader doesn’t want to pay for quality, they shouldn’t expect quality. The costs of publishing should be factored into the price. Why not? Gasoline, groceries, and every other product in America factors these expenses into the price of the good. Why can’t authors? The cover designers and editors don’t consider our low profits when setting their rates, yet we still pay them for the quality of their work. We’re expected to pay out, but heaven forbid we hope to make a profit. It’s rubbish. Author’s, stand behind your product! It’s worth more than $.99!

  • Do your own marketing. Utilize social media.
  • Don’t market on social media, especially not on your author’s platforms. Don’t pay for advertising either.

I get it, no one wants to get spammed with advertisements on Twitter, but there are people who unfriend authors simply for sharing a positive review here and there. Picky, picky.

  • Do create a writer’s platform to promote your writing.
  • Don’t talk about your writing.

What is the point of meeting new people if you can’t tell them anything about yourself. Yes, one should not monopolize the conversation to be all about them and their writing, but to make the subject practically taboo is insane.

Okay, I’m done ranting (for now), and here is my final thought: you can’t please everyone, so don’t try to. Seriously, it’s that easy. Create your author’s page the way you want it to be. Talk about your book, share snippets of writing, or what have you. Share your successes on social media, your failings too. And if people unfollow you, let them. They probably aren’t the kind of followers you want anyway. Learn what works for you and what doesn’t. Most importantly, just be true to yourself and your brand and things will turn out for the best.

Well, I hope this was helpful to you, or at least entertaining. Do you agree with what I’m saying? Or not? Please share your thoughts in the comments below. Have a wonderful weekend! See you again on Monday!

Writing is Hell

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It’s a beautiful Saturday morning. Not a cloud in the sky. My cats are baking in a sunbeam beside my computer desk. And I just saw a family of ducks cross my backyard. No joke. I’m sitting at my computer desk on this lovely day with my laptop open, my novel pulled up, and a raspberry tea within arms reach. There’s even a vase of fresh flowers on the corner of the desk. Surrounded by all of this loveliness and with hours to work on my novel, all I can think of is how much I’d like to go back to bed.

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Let’s face it, writing is hell.

So, to fix my mindset, I got online and started looking up inspirational quotes. After sifting through pages and pages and pages of quotes about goals, motivation, and happiness, I came upon some about writing. One in particular, I thought embodies the writing experience better than an other. William Styron put it best when he said, “Let’s face it, writing is hell.” To me, there is no statement that more accurately captures the torturous quality of writing. I’m sure there are more thought-provoking statements out there, ones that would inspire me to write 1,000 words, but this one struck a chord with me for its simplicity and blunt honesty.

Sometimes writing can be mentally, emotionally, and even physically painful to the point where it’s no longer enjoyable. There are times when sitting at my laptop trying to expel just one descent sentence or word is pure agony. Some mornings I lay in bed, putting off getting up, because I dread the thought of tackling my draft.

If writing is hell, why do I write? Why do any of us write? My sister/writing companion/personal editor/critic/etc. recently came across some research that suggests that the writer’s need to write is neurological. This means, some individuals absolutely have to write in order to satisfy some portion of their brain. So, basically we write in the name of science.

I like to think there is a more personal need to write, one that leads to personal or spiritual growth. I like to think that there is a pay-off for all of the frustration that goes into drafting a paragraph or editing a chapter. Winston Churchill once said, “If you’re going through hell, keep going.” I think of this statement when I’m tackling a particularly difficult draft. If I’m already suffering, I might as well keep going because there is going to be a light—or at least a finished product—on the other side.

With that last quote in mind, I think I’m going to take another stab at writing today. Hope your days are more productive than mine! Look forward to seeing you all again on Monday!